"So I know that this isn't easy, and I honestly wish that we had more time to prepare you for what will need to be done. But time is never our friend, never more true than right now." It was the young boy's voice again in Edvard's head. It was something that he was not going to get used to any time soon. He fought the overwhelming urge to shake his head in an attempt to get the "voices" out.
"The beast's name is Vlad, and his demise has been a long time coming," the voice continued on, not waiting on Edvard to acknowledge the last statement. "This is an evil, vile beast that we must put an end to; he has broken the treaties that were laid down by the forefathers, and one in which he was there to sign. He will be prepared for us all, with the exception of our newest recruit." The man-child said as he addressed the small group. He commanded everyone's attention. The youth walked about the room, laying out the foundation for what Edvard could only understand as an attack plan. Edvard simply couldn't understand all this fear-mongering for one individual person. "I understand that this all may be foreign to you right now Edvard, but I do need you to focus on the task at hand." The youth suddenly stopped in mid-sentence to castigate the seasoned warrior, which caused a ball of tension to rise at the base of Edvard's neck. "If you wish to continue your existence, as altered as it may be, you will need to heed what I am telling you and follow these orders to the letter," the youth spoke with his back to Edvard.
Now all the other figures in the room were now staring directly at Edvard, causing him to grow even more uncomfortable. There was the woman-like figure, clad all in leather, that seemed to be shaking her heard in dismay; the one that was referred to as 'Animal' seemed to be attempting to pierce Edvard with his gaze through the mirrored lenses that resided on his face. A hulking behemoth who sat in the corner opposite of Edvard, whose skin was continuously crawling, seemed to be unceasingly mouthing something that remained unheard to Edvard's ears. Others throughout the overcrowded room also appeared to be displeased with the barbarian.
"Allow me to explain this once more and perhaps make it utterly clear to you, our new friend," the youth went on.
At the word "friend" Edvard visibly bristled. That was not a word that Edvard ever used lightly. To be called friend by the warrior was the utmost honor in his clan, and though he would have to come to terms with several things outside of his control, Edvard refused to change anything about his core beliefs -- and this was one of them. While the youth went back over the details of their attack plan again, Edvard began to zone out and think about the things in his life that would never be the same.
Vlad was contemplating his assault on his main objective. He would be extremely hampered when it came to resources. His favorite familiars would be little aide to him. He had already made the difficult decision to leave Sonja at the castle as the risk, though minimal in his mind, was still too great to bring her along. It would be better for her, since her turning was almost complete; a journey of this magnitude would be difficult enough for him, and he shuddered to think how difficult it would be for someone so newly turned into what he felt would be his final mate.
The logistics just seemed too massive to bring her along; he would simply tell her that he had a business trip that would require him to be away for a few weeks, and that when he returned they would finally be able to begin the greatest chapters of their lives together. He had chartered a ship to ensure that there would be nothing to stand in his way of being able to rest fully for the coming encounter. He knew that the mummies would be awaiting him. They felt that he had no right to claim what he sought in those gods-forsaken sands. Vlad had assembled enough wait staff to handle the day-to-day details for him; they had vetted the crew to ensure that he would be left alone. He was brimming with confidence as the day drew near for them to set off on what he felt was an epic voyage, only rivaled by the ancient Greeks.
Vlad knew that Sonja would not be happy about being away from him for so long. They had hardly spent a night apart since that dark morning that he had dispatched her former fiancée. He had, of course, done this by design, causing her to become so reliant upon him that she had forgotten all details of her past life. As far as her family and friends were concerned she had simply walked into the forest and disappeared without further thought of them. Isolationism worked so well for plans such as his. He had done this many times before, but never with such success as with Sonja.
He had begun that night to turn her into a fitting bride for himself. Vlad had slowly been shaping her mentally to reflect his thoughts, behavior, and dreams, melding together as one so that his desires were hers as well. Her will was simple to manipulate; she was literally a blank canvas, her parents doing her such a huge disservice by keeping her so docile. Not allowing her to have her own thoughts and original dreams, actually holding her back, all but doomed her to be someone's submissive. It just turned out that she became his. Physically and emotionally she was clay within his hands.
He sat in his massive library surrounded by hundreds of books. He was lost in thought, peering through the maps that lay upon his heavy wooden desk. The glass of deep red wine to his side appeared to have been untouched for a very long time. The candles in the room had once been very tall, but now were simply no more than a dull flame at the top of a very short stub of coagulated wax. His eyes traced and re-traced, and went back over and over again the path that he must follow to his ultimate prize. A chamber locked deeply beneath the great structure in Egypt. A room of untold wealth that would allow him and Sonja to live out the remaining days of their multi-century lives beyond any comfort that mortal man could understand. But he was after something of even greater importance. Something that mortal man would never understand how to manipulate to its fullest potential. It was a knowledge that would allow him to enslave the mortals to Vlad, and to satiate his hunger and that of Sonja. His simple view was that he would rule over the mortals as a stern, overbearing parent reigns over their young.
The heat didn't worry Vlad; his need to feed didn't bother him. He did begrudgingly admit that being away from Sonja for so long would be at first painful, but ultimately would be something that he was willing to deal with. The only thing that troubled him about his plan was Animal and his mummy followers. Many centuries ago, Vlad had signed a decree that in essence stated that the vampires would not attempt to cash in on the knowledge of this tremendous cash cow, along with trifling other laws that could be worked around. This was the agreement that the vampires had been forced to sign in order for the mummies to lend their tremendous strength and skills in ridding the world of another supernatural beast-race: the werewolves, the animals that for centuries had hunted vampires down as if they were some game, and all but brought the likes of Vlad and his fore-fathers to the brink of extinction. Vlad had been the last one to sign the treaty, making it known to all who had been gathered that he would prefer to simply mount a full scale attack on what he called, "the unholy monsters," but he had been overruled and so signed the agreement.
The coffins had been made ready, partially filled with desecrated dirt. Desecrated dirt was dirt stolen from a church's graveyard, and then defiled with unspeakable acts that were only completed when an innocent's blood had been spilt upon it. This allowed Vlad to restore his supernatural strength. Vlad would call upon the knowledge that his elders had held but not bothered to write down to pass on to the likes of Vlad and his contemporaries. This will be our last night in this tiny castle, he thought to himself. When he returned, Vlad and his new bride would move into something more fitting of their stature within the community.
The night was incredibly cold even by desert standards; the full moon was rising. Edvard felt right in his element now. His breath hung in vapor trails in front of his helmet. He sat astride a powerful albino warhorse named Mortis. Animal had chuckled to himself when he handed the reins of the powerful beast to Edvard. Edvard didn't get the reference to the Latin word meaning death, but it was something that Edvard would come to understand after this night. The full moon hung low in the sky and a thick fog had begun to roll in from the river to the east. Animal had called it the Nile, but Edvard simply called it impressive for its size. Edvard's animal skin armor had been replaced by what was called chainmail. It was supposed to offer more protection than what the barbarian warrior was used to, but it added weight that he was unaccustomed to fighting with. His skin felt as if it had a life all its own, as if something was crawling just beneath it.
The very small contingent of mummy warriors sat on their horses and watched the northern entrance to the largest of the three pyramids that lay before them. Edvard hungered for this chance to gain revenge for his fallen friends and family. He mentally replayed the horrors that he had seen, and visualized what he would do once he had the monster that was the cause for all his pain within his hands.
When will this waiting be over? Edvard thought to himself.
"Look up for your answer my young friend." It was the voice of the child, and Edvard peered skyward seeking an answer to his question.
"As the time draws near, you will see the stars of the northern cross align perfectly with the three pyramids below. When that transpires, for one hour the gateway that Vlad seeks will be opened. We must stand strong during that hour to prevent him from gaining the foothold that he needs to gain the knowledge that will bring about an end to mankind," the child-like creature explained. "Steel yourself my friend, because within the hour the stars shall be aligned."
Vlad had entered into a trance-like state. He was swaying with the light breeze that had begun to grow. His eyelids grew heavy over eyes that were becoming increasingly crimson. Vlad's small contingent of an army was massed behind him, awaiting his signal. In the distance the mournful howl of what Vlad thought was a jackal could be heard. Not completely unheard of in this region.
The beast that had released the howl sat on a hill overlooking the area that would become known as the Giza plateau. It sat with a clear view of the region watching intently the proceedings that were beginning to take place.
The fog began to swirl heavily now, folding back upon itself as a black mist began to mix with the fog. This caused the hairs at the base of Edvard's neck to stand on end as his instincts told him something unexplained was about to transpire. Even by his latest revelations of the supernatural.
"The time is now, my young friend," the youth calmly stated as he gently spurred his horse into motion; soon the others had begun to follow him into the swirling mist, all uncertain of what was to transpire, and only hoping that they would all return.
Edvard slowly placed his helmet upon his head. It faintly glowed a blue hue as it began to slide into place; his eyes became almost electric, and determination was etched upon his face as the helmet slid to its final resting place.
And then there stood before Vlad what appeared to be the last juggernaut, clad simply in chain armor, a huge two-handed sword, and a helmet that emitted an odd blue light. He seemed to be hunkered over into a crouching position. The sword rested lightly in his hands, almost weightlessly as if waiting to spring into action at the merest thought of its holder.
Vlad had had little trouble with the others of this ilk, quickly working his way through the so-called defenders that stood between him and his prize. He had finally arrived at the last door in the underground passageway. There was barely any light in this tunnel, which allowed Vlad to feel more confident, his eyes being more suited for this type of battle. Vlad lightly held onto the short sword in his right hand, testing the weight again and again by flipping the tip into the air and catching the weight as he allowed it to almost fall to the ground. His well-honed hearing barely made out the scurrying sound of claws on the limestone flooring behind him.
Vlad was put off a bit by the juggernaut's lack of fear, fear that had emanated from even the mummies that he had faced so far this night. There was something else on the air that Vlad couldn't quite make out; it was a taste of something almost foreign. Slowly the behemoth began to move towards him; first his right foot took a giant stride forward, telling Vlad that more than likely, the mammoth man was right-handed, and letting him know that his best form of attack would be to strike on the beast's left side. Vlad could now clearly hear large claws on the limestone steps leading to where these two stood squaring off against each other. But Vlad could not concentrate on that at this time, as the massive man had now closed the gap between them and was raising his sword to attack in a heavy overhead blow.
Vlad waited until the last possible moment before raising his sword to shield himself, allowing the blow to drive him to one knee before twisting the sword in his hand and impaling Edvard in his exposed left side. The sword slide easily through the small rings, causing several to burst, allowing the sword to find what would normally have been a vital organ to bring this fight to a quick end.
Edvard groaned loudly as the short sword slid all the way to the hilt into him, the tip coming out of his right upper chest. The massive warrior spun to his left, attempting to fling Vlad and his foul weapon from him. Edvard raised his great sword high overhead again in an attempt to cleave man from sword, and was suddenly catapulted forward from behind as a massive weight landed on his shoulders, dislodging his helmet from his head, sending it clanging loudly down the massive hallway.
The massive wolfish creature sprang lightly from Edvard's shoulders, and quickly rolled over and back onto its feet in one graceful motion, teeth bared and snarling viciously. As Vlad slowly stood up from the ground where he had been thrown, he cursed under his breath at what had appeared to be his good fortune, and had now turned into yet another obstacle to overcome this night. Vlad slowly withdrew the sword that was still lodged in the barbarian's side. As Edvard struggled to get up from his position on the ground in the tunnel by pulling his massive arms under him, Vlad lightly walked up and unceremoniously lopped off his head, causing the massive body to linger a moment in the air as it tried to figure out whether it would be worth the effort to continue rising, or if it would be easier to simply lie down. It opted for the latter, but before the body made contact with the ground, sand burst through the remaining rings in the armor and spilled silently upon the floor.
The gray and tan canine-like monster that stood between Vlad and the final door to untold knowledge and riches was as large as the man had been. The fury in this beast's eyes was unmatched by anything that Vlad had ever seen before. For the first time in many ages Vlad was actually feeling nervous about this impending battle. He was anxious as well because the hour was quickly drawing to a close, and if he did not reach the door in time this attempt would have been a waste of time, effort, and manpower.
Vlad felt the time slipping away as he took a stride towards the beast that blocked his ambitions. The beast growled loudly and more menacingly, lowering its head as it prepared to pounce. This caused Vlad to pause in his advance a moment; he had used all his tricks to get to this point. He was used to being on the defensive as opposed to being on the offensive. Never being one to lack confidence, he attempted to muster his courage and bring a swift end to this encounter. The massive beast's eyes glowed with an electric green tint as its massive size curled in upon itself. Vlad began to swing the sword in a wide crisscrossing arc in front of him, trying to build a shield of the sword blade.
This didn't hamper the thought process of the animal as it lunged with jaws gaping wide open, front paws outstretched attempting to find purchase on the man in front of it. The sword bit violently through one paw, slicing it completely off; then bit into the second one and became stuck in the bone. The weight of the animal carried it onwards and the jaws snapped shut tightly around the throat of Vlad. Blood spurted thickly through the air, and a black swirling mist claimed the rest of the body.
The beast rolled through the sand that had once been the massive warrior. The sand stung its missing paw, but the profuse bleeding almost immediately began to stop. It let forth a triumphant howl that echoed throughout the tunnels and found its way to the outside world. A strong breeze followed it back in through the tunnels and began to swirl in the hallway. The huge beast slowly limped its way out of the confusing tunnels, following its scent out, attempting to seek out a place to lie down, and perhaps die.