Chapter one: Recalling historyNorthern Italy – 23.02.1252
The sounds of the quill striking paper continued, if not occasionally paused to gather more ink from the flask.It is my humble opinion, nay duty to emphasize the important fact that sleep deprivation does things even to the most intelligent of people. In statistical terms, a positive corollary even exists linking the variables of lack of sleep and acts of stupidity – that is, when one increases, so too does the other. After all, when one's attention span is purely set on finding a somewhat decent place to sleep, one doesn't really pay much attention to anything else. In the last seven cases I have found this to be the case. Each time the subjects would prove very resistant to physical trauma or mental intimidation, yet the lack of sleep has proven fatal in the end. Some died due to, what I assume to be, multiple organ failure.
Which brings us to my current predicament. We are currently a few weeks or so out of Rome, mostly staying near the roads and pic-
The quill stopped abruptly when the man heard a large howl, one only a human could produce when severe pain was suddenly introduced. One wouldn’t need to be a purebred bloodhound to catch the scent of flesh burning suddenly. Long digits began drying the tip of the quill and packing up his supplies, or what little he actually had. He prided himself on being very practical, almost Spartan in nature, something that was quite… exotic amongst his kind in Italy. He placed cleaned quill and diary in his breast pocket and began to rise, making sure the wooden chair did not squeak or slide over the ground as he moved it. One was wise to make caution an unconscious habit.
He moved towards the door and glanced at the trail of dried blood on the wooden floorboards. A small ‘tsk’ escaped his lips when he noticed it. He had given precise instructions in cleaning this place up. Careful not to stain his dark leather boots he began to make his way downstairs, nose picking up the now stronger scent of blood, death and scorched flesh. He noticed two figures biting a tied up man, drinking from him. The man and woman had hard features, almost statuesque like, although the look in their eyes spoke volumes about how much they were enjoying this. “I do hope you have good reasons for applying pain or bloodletting, seeing as I gave strict orders to keep him awake.” One of the men –or vampire, if one was honest- glanced up and wiped his mouth clean, careful not to stain his clothing. “We do, my lord.” He said, giving the briefest nod to show that he understood who was in charge. “The old man gave us the location, just mere minutes ago.”
He sighed as he sat down on a rather old and wobbly chair, this time making sure it made enough noise to wake up an orphanage filled with deaf children. “Well, Richard” He said, eying the vampire on his left. The man had blond hair with the most amazing blue eyes, quite literally the only handsome features on his entire being. The woman standing on the right was quite the opposite, pretty and delicate, yet baring a rather large scar on her left cheek. Isabel was a viper, able to woo men with her eyes or strike at their necks with amazing accuracy. They, like him, were purebloods, vampires born from vampiric parenthood. The other six stationed outside were simple humans who had proven loyal enough to be turned. Sometimes the man wondered who was more useful, the loyal turned or the strong and unpredictable.
He glanced at the open veins in the man’s neck, shoulders and arms and immediately felt his own thirst rising up. No matter how old one got in this world, the thirst stayed. Sure one learned to cope with it, subdue it in public, yet it never disappeared. It was a testimony of one’s strength how long he or she could resist it. A few could last weeks, yet in the end all of them gave in to the craving. One vampire did manage to stay ‘abstinent’ for more than five months, yet he was trapped within a cave for months and ended up going as mad as a one could be.
He leaned forwards and eyed the half bled out, half burned man. He was the innkeeper of this little place that he and his men ‘interrogated’. Ever since Pope Innocent IV's papal bull Ad extirpanda of 1252, which explicitly authorized and defined the appropriate circumstances for the use of torture by the Inquisition for eliciting confessions from heretics, his kind had almost free reign on feeding from the humans again. In the old days his kind could kill entire villages and simply get away with it, yet humanity was evolving, educating themselves. News travelled faster and more precise. Not to mention larger and more organised armies excised now. The old days and ways were lost, yet not forgotten.
The elder vampire, Lancerious, leaned closer, eying the remaining flesh that represented the innkeeper. “Now, where did you say you brought these ‘heretics’ food?” He inquired, using the word heretic to describe a small pack of werewolves that supposedly roamed these parts. A second after the man muttered his last feeble words, telling the location, Lancerious shot forwards, demonstrating to his kin that he, not they was a master in the art of pain and suffering.
Outside the inn the six other vampires waited, occasionally prodding the innkeeper’s wife in the side with a small knife, causing her to howl again. One of the men began to sing again, giving her something to fear again. Slowly, one by one, the others joined in, marking this bloody night a pleasant feast.
“Alone, I walk the roads of death
In the silence stained with glee
Piercing shrouds of life, of breath
And soon I come for thee
I am the face behind the dark
The pale lips of fear
I am the icy kiss of death
Behind your walls of fear
The river of your life flows fast
Between the shores of years
It bears thee ever on to me
Behind the screams and tears
Closer, closer, art thou born
By light of Moon and Sun
I see thy face so clearly now
Thy life is all undone
To me! To me, Oh mortal soul
To me thy life shall end
No god awaits on brilliant throne
Thy blood is mine to rend.”
When dawn arrived that day surrounding villages would find the burned out inn, only the charred sign at the door reading ‘the prancing horse’ would offer a clue as what stood here in the first place.
Northern Italy – 2.03.1252
The tall vampire fingered the quill with his right hand while he occasionally used his left hand to crawl pale digits beyond the dark silk curtains of the carriage, daring to catch a few rays of sunlight, or what was left of the sun this late in the day. He could feel Isabel’s raised eyebrow even without looking at it. She though this…’hobby’ of his was unnatural, even unhealthy. Being a pureblood meant that one had never tasted the sun in its full glory, the fact that Lance had a fascination for sunlight meant that he occasionally had a few whispers about him here and there. It was quite literally the only thing about him that was not perfectly controlled or in check. The man came from perfect breeding and had survived for hundreds of years without even once having the slightest blemish on his record. Occasionally he could be seen as eccentric, embracing new discoveries the humans made, yet the man in his core worshipped the old ways.
He eyed his companions, all four of them. Where he went, the other two purebloods always followed. No exception. They were above any lesser vampire and they radiated power and arrogance. Sometimes Lancerious thought the only reason the lesser vampires did not fight for power was because they believed the sheer arrogance and pride of the full born vampires. Sadly only one in a hundred of the current know vampires were full born, the others simple turned as a reward for services rendered. The two figures with him were his own, trained and raised since childhood. The woman was name Liana, the man Nox. They were twins, orphaned at the age of one. Lancerious had bought them from a French merchant and raised them as his own. Lancerious had named them fittingly, Liana was the representation of Light, Nox the night. They were his guardians during the day time and when he was on the road. The other purebloods had simply dismissed them as travel cattle, yet they were so much more than just that. Let the others think what they must.
The small train of carriages and men on horseback moved on silently, reaching the edge of the town by nightfall. There were three carriage is total, one for the purebloods, one for the lesser bloods and one made of pure steel and silver to house any captive. The men on horseback began tying the horses to nearby trees and began to set up a perimeter. When the last rays of light disappeared on the horizon, the carriages opened up and the vampires moved out. His fellow nobles might say what they wanted about his eccentric ways, yet they could not argue about the way he handled his unit. The humans and lesser vampires quickly took up position, checking their equipment one last time and that of their horses.
He had them ordered by colours and in teams of five. There were three teams on foot, each wearing a piece of cloth tied around their left arm. There were three human soldiers at the front, carrying spears with silver tips; while two turned vampires were in the rear, carrying crossbows with silver bolts. These three teams had a red, blue or green piece of fabric on their left arm. They knew the drill and could work as an efficient team. Each of them had a buckler, a sword and several throwing knifes on them as well, should they need to go into close quarters or indoors. The spears would act as a wall, keeping any werewolf at bay due to the silver tips, while the vampiric crossbow men would pick them off from afar, focusing mostly on wild werewolves that had shifted in their blood rages.
Vampires had the same senses as an average human except for one area, sight. They were far more accurate, able to squeeze more sharpness out of their eyes than the average human. Combine this with a high tension crossbow and a single vampire would be a bringer of death at long range.
These nine humans and six lesser vampires would be the bulk of his army, the mobile wall that would corner the beasts and divert them into the direction he would want them. Hiding in the forest lines would be two squads of horsemen, all of them wielding the same close combat weaponry as the foot squad, yet they carried large weighted nets adorned with silver as their main weapon. They were to be stationed at the southern pass and were instructed to cut off the werewolves retreat or hunt down any stragglers. They were again; three humans and two vampires with them. In total the cavalry consisted of six humans and four vampires. One group carried a white wrapping, the other a black one.
The foot would come in from the north, east and west, forcing the werewolves to either flee to the south or break up from the main pack. Should any resistance be offered, Lancerious and his group would engage them, throwing three full bloods at them and two highly trained humans.
His own companions –meaning the arrogant full bloods- insisted that a few vampires alone would do the trick, yet they were arrogant and overly bold. True a full blood could subdue a turned were with relative ease, yet an alpha were that came from a pure lineage was something else. Best if they used tactics and skill. They would throw fifteen human soldiers and ten lesser vampires in his little army. It would be more than enough to subdue a village with twice that many numbers in villagers. They had high quality armour, the element of surprise and night, not to mention a combined knowledge of several hundred years of fighting. The humans were all picked for their strength and bulk, making them perfect foot soldiers. They were never fed upon, making them constantly at full strength, sometimes even supplemented by drinking a few drops of vampire blood to give them some added stamina.
Lancerious watched from the seat of his horse his men creep into position. Every part of their attire was rubbed in dirt and none of the men had any perfumes on and had bathed the day before. They would bring as little of a scent as was possible. These wolves would, hopefully, not know what had hit them. He glanced at his two ‘children’ seeing their focused eyes. He would feed from Nox when the day was over. The man had gone to long without receiving this gift. He nodded to the man and watched him set off at a slow walk, mostly weaving left and right as he disappeared in the forest. He would watch any wolf that disappeared and would track their movement for a few hours; marking trees occasionally to show were they went.
Everything was planned out to perfection, yet like all plans would crumble as soon as the first sword was drawn or bolt fired. He watched the village from the hill where he was standing on, seeing the first few torches being thrown at hay rooftops, setting the village ablaze. His forces were positioned perfectly and the night was just beginning.
Northern Italy – 3.03.1252
“I mark this page with the events from last night, making sure the events that took place there remain accurate when retelling it before the council.
Half an hour after the first torch had set a blaze to the village I rushed through the battlefield, mind filled with tactics. My mind is one for numbers and details; my greatest strength. I knew where my men were and how they were positioned. One hour ago everything had gone according to plan. The village had been empty, a surprise at first, yet beneficial. The men remained in groups and moved towards the woods, the cavalry at the sides and the foot in the centre. The first skirmish had gone splendid. The wolves had charged them head on, apparently overconfident in their abilities. Two salvo’s of bolts fired from six synchronised crossbows had been enough of a lesson. They had claimed two wolves right there and then; sadly one had died within a minute. Then suddenly a large beast had appeared behind them, slashing through the middle rank, tearing and shredding soldiers.
The beast was a bloody alpha. He was layered in strength and power, yet all of it was concentrated in intellect. He knew how to take advantage of his brute force and when to shield it. I must confess that even I had trouble reforming my rank right there and then. I made a gamble move then, sacrificing men in order to claim an alpha. I send in the white cavalry banner and two of his foot with the order to wound, cripple and maim. They spread out through the forest to hunt the wolves. While they did this a smaller and better led army was tracking the spread out one. Each time a wolf attacked the ‘weakened’ army, the one following it would strike fast, capturing the wolf.
Finally, after what seemed hours, I had heard the call. I ordered my remaining men to form a perimeter and drag the captives with them. It took a few minutes but a tight circle was in place, torches lit and the beast thrown together in a circle. Nox was not there, no doubt tracking the escaped wolves. I nodded to my companions and withdrew knifes from the still thrashing corpse on the ground, wipingthe blood of the blades and sheathed them again.
“Form up ranks and bring them in.” I remember barking as I began moving.
Lancearious said calmly as he stood before the council, retelling the events from that day. It had been the first ever encounter with an Alpha Werewolf that resulted in victory. He, as always, presented the story with facts and clarity, not blemishing it in the slightest. In his mind he could still remember all the blood, death and suffering that day. He wasn’t a person prone to violence, yet would not shy away from it either. His lips continued telling the facts as if it were mere numbers and not people and beasts that had died, yet his mind remembered the details.
Within the tight circle, or what was left of the vampiric army, three figures stepped forwards. None of them carrying armour or showed any sign of combat. Only the werewolves sensitive noses would pick up on the fact that the man standing in the middle smelled of blood, fresh werewolf blood.
The full blood on the left was around 5”6, broad of shoulders and hard in features. His blond curls were covered in the dark grey cloak he was wearing. The man’s features were etched in stone, unwavering and unchanging. He eyed the captured creatures and held his gaze. The man was simply determined to eye them into submission.
The woman on the left was completely different. Her features were contorted in disgust and arrogance. She eyed the wounded ‘beast’ on the ground and actually spat at one, snickering when the wounded werewolf growled in response.
One of the armoured vampires moved towards one of the four captured werewolves. He moved as if to pull out a bolt before he was stopped by the man who stood in the centre of the group. “Leave it.” He said in an even and composed tone. His features were unreadable, as if every muscle in his face was relaxed and without tension. He moved closer to the captured creatures and inspected them one by one. “The tips are lined with curved edges. Removing them will only open up an artery and we have not the resources to deal with it at this moment. The silver keeps them.. sedated.” He leaned closer to one of the injured males on the ground. Two of the captives were staring at him with pure hatred, oozing it almost. The other two captives were simply eying the other ones.
The tall vampire placed his hands on his hood and drew it back, revealing his features. The man looked to be sculptured in a delicate fashion, yet still having the qualities of hard rock. He appeared to be around his late twenties yet those eyes spoke of something else, something ancient. He gazed at the captives with his bright blue eyes and nodded. “My name is Lancearious.” He then pulled out a small knife from one of his boots and showed it to them. “I have personally killed one of your brethren today. My men killed another two. You now stand before me with four of your kind, captured and somewhat alive.” He brought a gloved hand through his hair, brushing the black strands this way and that. Those bright blue eyes took them all in, weighing their worth and deciding their fate there and then. “I am going to kill one of you here. More of my men have died than I had anticipated and I fear that we lack the manpower to subdue four of you.” He simply stated as he grabbed his knife and moved it forwards in one slow movement, letting the tip penetrate one of the captives throats and imbedding itself deep within the flesh. While he did this he simply kept eye contact with the larger male, one with dark eyes, the one who now had a knife in his throat. There was something about him that spoke of command and experience.
“Take them to the carts. Knife them if they even think about resisting.” He said calmly as he whipped his knife clean on the dead man’s hair, working diligently to clean it completely. He had killed the man because it would send a message to these captives and his men. He was ruthless and calculating. In truth he did it because the man was already dying, seeing as he had multiple gut wounds and was bleeding out quickly. Better to use a death than to let it go to waste. He stood up and made his way to the other two highborn vampires, silently followed by his human ‘child’ as she offered him an oiled cloth to remove the blood from his gloves.
He told the council that he chose to kill the wounded Alpha there and let the other three live, seeing as they were only slightly wounded. At first the council had been furious, yet it was somewhat tempered when they found out that three had been captured. The mission was reported as a success and all of the captured werewolves were to be re-educated in the training camps, forcing them work and breed there. Lancarious was reassigned after that.
Although human soldiers were quite useful and numerous, a bred and tempered Werewolf soldier would be twice as useful and durable, seeing as they were stronger and lived longer lives. Lore about the werewolves was almost as numerous as that of the vampires. Humans claimed werewolves turned into hulking hairy beasts and that vampires could turn into mist or bats. The truth was much simpler, yet also much scarier. Werewolves were simply humans who were attuned to their animalistic natures, granting them a feral strength and a durability that was beyond mere humans. Steel chains would still hold them, yet you had better have used good mortar to hold the metal pins in check. A turned vampire who had some years on him would be stronger than a werewolf in terms of speed, yet raw strength would always be tipped in their favour. The only thing that could stop a pureblood Alpha was a full blood Vampire, and then only just barely, with the help of either years of experience or a small army to help him.
Now many years later, Lancarious has need of a new agent, seeing as his ‘children’ are aging and have persuaded him to find a replacement for them. Although hesitant and unwilling at first, they convinced him to do so, for their peace of mind. He decided to find a new agent or servant that would be somewhat more durable, one who could stand the age of time better but at the same time be immune to the effects of the sun. He decided to find this individual within the ranks of the trained werewolf population, picking one of the many that had been born in captivity there. Little did people knew that the one he picked happened to be the child of the same Alpha he had killed years earlier. The alpha’s pregnant mate being one of the three he had captured.
The choosing of this werewolf would set in motion a chain of events that would shatter and reforge the vampiric world in its very core.