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"What is the meaning of this outrage?" Elder Masterson asked.
"If It is not the old man himself. You never could stop that mouth from running."
A Light Vampire with long white hair walked out from an adjoining room. Although he was two thousand years old, he did not look a day over thirty-five.
"How dare you, Shadeborn."
"Long time no see, old man."
"Your intrusion will not be tolerated."
"What are you going to do about it?"
The vampires halted their battle.
Elder Masterson approached Lars, dark vampires rushed the Elder. They are all pushed into the air by a powerful psychic blast.
"Then you realize what I can do, but I'm not a creature of violence."
Lars grabbed Elder Masterson by his throat, lifted him off his feet.
"And that is why you will always lose, old man. You never give in to your demonic urges, I know you possess them."
"I do," Elder Masterson nodded. "Yet, I have self-control, something you sorely lack. You will not have the tome this night, or any."
"I am the one being who realizes what our demonic brothers had in mind." A black flame surrounded Lars's body. "That is why I will possess the tome this night, old man!"
"Your evil magic will have no effect here, Lars. This is a Holy place. We still worship God here."
"You worship God?" Lars raised his hands, palms up, purple flames rose from each palm. "I am the God you should be worshipping, old fool. Once the tome is in my hands, you'll serve me, as the human race will."
All of Lar's children shielded their eyes.
"And that is why I will not allow you to obtain the Tome." Elder Masterson raised a hand, it glowed intense with white light. "I will destroy you first!"
"Destroy me? Only you would be so foolish to believe such a feat can be accomplished!"
They thrust their hands out, a torrent of purple flame leapt from Lars hands. A stream of white light jumped from the hands of Elder Masterson, when the opposing powers collided. An explosion of energy knocked all in the refuge off their feet. The forces mingled, merged together as one attempted to force their magic streams closer to the other. It created a light show of brilliance throughout the sanctuary; the other vampires had no idea what to do. During the struggle between the two. The light vampires moved to one side of the room, the dark vampires to the other. All stared in awe and disbelief at the raw power being displayed.
Masterson was an Elder, an extremely powerful one. Still, Cromwell knew he stood little to no chance at beating Lars.
Cromwell watched on, the purple flame stream inched its way toward Elder Masterson. Elder Masterson struggled as he tried to push Lars's purple flame back. Elder Masterson's free hand shot out another beam of light. As it struck the oncoming flame, another brilliant explosion illuminated the room. This managed to halt Lars's fire stream.
"I am impressed, old man! Though, I have yet used my full power!"
"You shall not obtain the Tome, Lars! You mustn't be allowed!"
Cromwell could not stand around and let Lars kill Elder Masterson. Elder Masterson brought Cromwell in out of the dark, gave him a place to stay in dangerous times. He had been his Mentor for over fifty years.
"Time for you to die!"
Lars forced his hands forward, the fire stream cut through Elder Masterson's beam of light. Cromwell made his move, ran toward Lars with fangs bared. As he reached Lars, a cry rang loud. Elder Masterson's body burst into a spire of purple flames. Light vampires used their jackets, attempted to snuff out the mystical fire, but such flames could not be diminished so easily.
Cromwell slammed into Lars with an elbow strike.
They crashed into the pews that lined the sanctuary. This triggered the battle. Cromwell was tossed from Lars like a rag doll, he impacted with a pew fifteen feet away. The ceiling above filled with battling vampires. Heads were severed, limbs pulled free. A dark vampire attacked him and managed to cut his chest with her claws. He caused her nose to explode in a spray of blood. While she was stunned, he jumped behind her, snapped her neck and continued to twist util her head came free in his hands.
Lars stood and scanned the room. Cromwell knew he must be looking for him. He had to get to the Tome. His understanding of its exact location was unclear. Yet, he did know it must rest just beyond the iron doorway.
"There you are, Cromwell. You will beg to feel the night's embrace by the time I'm through with you."
Cromwell ran toward the iron door.
"You think you're going to get the Tome, don't you?"
Lars headed in his direction.
He tried the door, it did not open. Then he saw the keyhole. It must take a specific key. That was what Mason always wore around his neck, the key. He stared at the smoldered remains of his Mentor and friend. As if through some omen, the key rested beside the corpse. The key glowed bright from being heated in the unnatural blaze. Lars was almost upon him, It was now or never. He reached for the key, used the power of his mind. The way Elder Masterson had taught him. Clear the mind of fear and anger, see what you seek will be. The key rose, floated through the air and came to rest in his right hand. It burned. Just as he inserted the key, he turned to look into Lars red eyes.
"Boo! Scary, aren't I? You realize you're not going to make it to the tome, but if you show me where it is. I might allow you to live and join me."
A different light vampire tackled Lars from behind.
He turned the key and the tumblers released the lock with a hollow click, pushed the door open. He ran in and slammed it behind, checked for another keyhole on his side. The torchlight made it difficult to see no more than a few feet in front of him. There appeared to be one though. He locked the door from his side. Lars slammed into it. The iron bubbled under the power of his fists. He backed away from the door, almost fell down a flight of stairs. A quick glance through the stone archway revealed a winding staircase that hugged the edge of a towering stone pillar. It rose to an unbelievable height. Lars slammed into the door again, another bubble appeared and the hinges gave a little.
"I will get through sooner or later, Cromwell. When I do, well, we'll talk about that when I break down this damn door."
He started down the stairs, touched the column for leverage. He saw it was constructed out of human skulls. It must have took a ridiculous amount of skulls to create such a pillar of extraordinary height. It was unbelievable. He continued down the stairs, Lars pounded on the door at his back. The winds were strong, more than enough to drive one to fall over the side. He was actually surprised that the torches placed every ten steps or so, had not been snuffed out. Halfway to the bottom - he thought - he heard the iron door as it crashed to the floor.
"Here I come. Be on your guard."
Did the stairs ever end?
He had descended for what seemed like an hour and gusts of strong-wind rose from the unseen bottom, caught him utterly off guard. When he landed, he stumbled downward, planted his legs in front of himself to try and stop. This caused his body to tilt and drop over the side. He yelled as he fell, the unknown rushed to meet him. He tried to fly, but the speed of his descent made it impossible. Though he could not die, he dreaded the intense pain that may soon rip through his body. If Lars found him broke and unable to move, he would finish him off quick and obtain his reward.
Not with a solid surface, but with pure liquid. When he finally emerged, hundreds of torches simulated a sunlit room, illuminated the surface of the liquid. He waded in a great pool of blood, the column a central island of sorts, the stairs branched off and crossed the blood lake with a stone bridge. This bridge entered the mouth of a great skull; above the skull was a stone bat. It carried the skull in its massive claws. The hollow eyes of the stone skull glowed with an orange light. The tome must be within. Swimming for the bridge, he climbed onto the cold cobblestone. The bat was staggering in size, he felt shadowed in its presence. The mouth of the skull beckoned, as a hungry beast waited for a victim foolish enough to step into the jaws of death.
He reached the carved teeth of the skull. One could tell it was the carving of a vampire skull. The sharp, pointed teeth were a dead give away.
"I'm almost at the bottom, soon, very soon."
He turn toward the pillar and saw Lars red eyes as they rounded the last fifty stairs. He entered the skulls mouth and a grinding sound alerted him.
The entrance of the skull was closing.
The skulls mouth was far stronger than he, with a sound of thunder it closed off. A bright orange glow burned just ahead, lit the narrow corridor, nowhere to go but forward.
Lars reached the bottom.
With eyes wide and an even wider smile, he stared at the tomes resting place.
"I can feel the Tome's power. It calls to me, it wants me, to fulfill the words written within its ancient pages. Fulfill them through me."
Within, he approached the main room. He had never saw the tome before, but he guessed he would know it when he saw it. Just as he caught a glimpse of the tome, which floated above a pedestal within the center of an enormous spire of blue flame. The gate that slammed down shimmered brilliant and barred his exit. Yet another barrier slammed down where he entered.
"What is this?"
He knew he was strong enough to make ease of the bars. He gripped the bars with both hands and this caused him immense pain. He pulled his hands away and found them burnt. Very wise, the bars must have been pure gold. It was an excellent way to keep the book safe from any creature that might try to obtain it. The bars must change for whatever weakness the individual had. Such would be silver for Lars. Perhaps, he could break through the wall.
This was a form of High Vampire Magic, more powerful than he had ever seen.
After he discovered the entry had closed off, Lars tried to find another way inside, yet he found none. He flew to check the top of the bat for an opening.
"How the hell did you get in there, Cromwell?"
Lar's fists pitted the rock of the skull entrance, he could hear Lars as he struck the stone. Only he was far to worried about his current position, what was going to happen next? The area blazed to life with an intense white light. It felt fantastic and he was revitalized. The light vanished and the gates rose back into the ceiling. If he had been a dark vampire, he would be a pile of ash. That light must have been simulated sunlight. Perhaps, he could get Lars trapped inside, but for now he must gain the book.
He entered the room. Coffins surrounded the area in a circle. Each one bared a different crest of families of vampires who held the book in their possession at one time. They had long since been destroyed, their crests and ash-filled coffins remained as reminders. The glow from the pillar of fire illuminated his face. Would touching such an evil artifact start his transformation? My questions would never get answers unless he did what he came to do. Staring at the coffins, he reached for the tome.
His hand entered the flame, he felt no pain, experienced nothing out of the ordinary and the white flame changed color. The coffins surrounding him opened.
The spirit vampires of each family stepped from them.
"Why do you disturb the Tome of Midnight?"
"I have a desperate need of it. A dark vampire of untold power wants to claim it. Use it to raise the Blood Fountain."
"We have feared this day would come, Cromwell." A female said.
"How do you know my name?"
"This day has been prophesied within the pages of the Tome." The flames surrounding the Tome vanished. "It also says we are to place the tome in your hands. You will be its protector. Do not allow it to fall into the hands of evil. All shall be lost if this happens."
He took the tome from its pedestal.
He was rushed by a surge of extraordinary power and education as he held it. He felt all that each generation of vampires made protectors experienced and understood its vast importance.
Was he capable of protecting the book?
"The tome says you are, Cromwell."
The entrance exploded inward and Lars entered with a roar, "Enough of this foolishness!"
"Quickly, Cromwell," the female said and motioned with a transparent finger to the ceiling. "Take the tome from here! You can exit through the head of the bat! I will open the way for you."
"Isn't the tome evil? Will it not cause my change from Light to Dark?"
"No. The tome changes its alignment with the person it's in possession of at the time. In your hands, the forces within are good and positive. Now, go!"
"I will do my very best to protect the tome. You have my word."
Just as he took to the sky, he watched Lars being trapped by the silver bars.
"Cromwell!" he shouted.
Lars stepped away from the bars with a yell of pain.
"I will find you, Cromwell! When I do, I'll torture you for eternity! FOR ETERNITY!"
Cromwell took to the sky before the powerful blast of simulated sunlight burned him to ash. His screams echoed about the area. An explosion filled the darkness with light. The spirits must be saving him from the dark. Reaching the top, he exited through the door. With a sigh of relief, he noticed that the light of the morning sun had chased away the night, transformed all of Shadeborn's minions into ash. Unfortunately, the conflict had claimed all the light vampires here. A tear came to his eye as he knelt beside Lyssia. She was a stranger to a world she didn't understand. It should not have ended like this for her.
He held her face.
She jumped away in fear.
Tears trickled down her face.
"Please don't kill me!" She cried. "Please!"
"It's me, Lyssia. It's Cromwell. It's over now. You're safe. It's just you and me, just you and me."
"How do I know it's really you?"
She stood and backed away from me.
"Vampires can change their appearances."
"You'll just have to trust me."
He extended his hand to her.
"But, it is me, Lyssia."
She took his hand and embraced him tight.
"It's all right now. I have the tome, and Lars Shadeborn is dead."
Below, in the darkness a smoldering body crawled from the remains of the tomes shrine. It threw itself into the pool of blood. Mere moments passed, the shadow surfaced.
"Cromwell," Lars growled.
Red eyes glinted in the dark.
The Nightwind saga begins.