Part III: Long

inktober

Part III: Long

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As Lyse drove home, she started thinking about her heritage, her family, her home. Hardly anyone knew her heritage. If they did, she would have never been able to attend University or gain a job in her chosen profession without her heritage tainting that.

She knew it was important to not forget that she was, mostly, a demigod. Her powers lent mostly to the benign side. She could see ghosts, specters and the like since she was the granddaughter of Death.  She could sense the energies and powers of those not wholly mortal. She could even resist those powers to a point.

She also possessed the power to manipulate the element of water, to a point. That was from her mother, who had been a white witch and healer before her death. Water meant life, healing, clarity. How her father, the son of Death and her mother, a white witch healer, had come together, she will never know.  They never really talked about how they met or how they fell in love. Lyse had assumed it was not only a good memory but also a painful one.

She pulled into her driveway and drove the length of gravel road lined with pine trees. Her family, which included herself, her parents and her brother Kevorach, seemed happy back when they all lived together. They had all lived in a stone house that stood 2 stories. It had a full basement and attic as well. She could remember her father telling her about when the house was built. It housed the family who were servants of the Priest who served the Necropolis. The stone had been found all locally in the county, as the quarry there had been rich in many types of stone.

This stone house sat and the bottom of a very large hill. Though its name was Mount Finis, and many would call it a mountain, it in truth, was not. Atop Mount Finis sat the Necropolis, the very first temple dedicated to Death. It was nothing but a crumbled ruin now, but in its time it had been a grand stone structure. Rooms upon rooms, halls, chambers and more burrowed into the hill made it a large and grandiose structure dedicated to Death and all that came with it.

Many of the old chambers in the hill became tombs dedicated to the important people from the surrounding countryside. Each one inturned there was given a grand ritual of arcane rites and many treasures were buried with them.

All of that, was in turn, to honor death and to bless that person’s passage into the next realm. Khaeron, the Chief ferryman, would take his payment from the tomb and then escort the soul to its place before the god of death. Here, the soul was judged in just one of the many trials it would face before finding its final place of rest.

Over the centuries, grave robbers had stolen nearly all that was within the Necropolis, and the temple was slowly destroyed by man and nature.

It wasn’t until the fourth revival that the gods revealed themselves again and established an actual hierarchy. This led to new temples being built, and then it lead to the lineage of Kings being established. King Rashanath formed the Noble Council, which placed regions under the control of a Noble House. The Noble Council evolved over time and quickly held the chosen representatives of the people and government, not just the Nobility of the kingdom.

King Basuin gave much of the power of the kingdom to the Noble Council but established the King’s Council, which was made up of chosen Priests, as well as Councilmen that held a great deal of influence on the kingdom. These Counselors became among the highest officials in the land.

Which was just another reason Lyse hid her heritage, she didn’t want worshippers and politicians coming and taking over her entire life.

As she parked beside her home, she saw someone on the large wooden porch. She was tired from a long day and was hoping this wasn’t something she was going to have to deal with for long, but as she got out of her car and moved up the stone steps she realized who it was waiting for her and she broke into a huge smile.

“Uncle Khaeron!” She dashed up the last few steps and practically leapt into his arms for a hug. Most others would have shuttered to do so. Khaeron was the Chief Ferryman beyond the Veil and he looked the part.

He wore a black leather duster with fur cuffs. His long black hair looked like dreadlocks that hung around his shoulders, and he wore a black top hat. His face was that of a skull with fangs and sharp teeth.

“Heya Kiddo! How’s life?” He said as he hugged her back. He might look scary, but he loved his grandniece as if she were his own.

Lyse let go and smiled even brighter if it were possible. “It’s going great. I love my job, my friends. Kev and I eat breakfast every Saturday down at Marjories. Sometimes he has time to meet me for dinner, too.”

She unlocked the door and went into her house, Khaeron following behind her. As she did, his very long yellow belly ball python followed in and moving quickly cut Lyse off. The snake made a mewling noise.

“I’m sorry, Sunny. I’ve missed you too.” Lyse bent down and rubbed the snake on the head. She sort of shivered in excitement then slithered around Lyse’s hand. After getting her bit of love from Lyse she slithered off to the porch and curled up in a beam of sunlight.

Sunny was actually a lost soul that Khaeron had found wandering the lands beyond the veil. Her time in the Wilds of the Veil had transformed her into a snake and Khaeron took her to be judged, but she had forgotten who she was or why she had been out in the wilds, to begin with. She asked to be returned to Khaeron as a snake and he agreed to take her and watch over her. She was like Khaerons child, and he watched over her vigilantly, but she also watched over him and was mighty impressive.

Lyse offered to make tea. He declined but said she could make some for herself if she wanted. Then the two chose to sit on the deck out back, as it was a gorgeous evening and Lyse loved the sun. Khaeron didn’t mind it all that much, which was odd for a death deity, he supposed.

Roscoe and Emmett loved it when Khaeron came to visit. The skull-faced Hell Hounds been a gift from Khaeron, after all. They remembered him and loved him as much as they did Lyse.

As the sun set and the moon rose in the sky, they talked about old memories and new and just enjoyed visiting, as families often do.

As the moon rose higher above them, small orbs of light became visible all around them. Many of them were just fireflies, but Khaeron and Lyse saw more than the fireflies. They saw orbs of white, blue, green, yellow and red. Each one was a piece of energy interacting with the world from beyond the veil. A lot of it was just excess spirit energy floating out in the world. A stray memory from a ghost or spirit. Stray energy from a spirit passing on, or a soul trying to communicate one last thing before passing over.

They were called spirit orbs, and each one could be a multitude of things. Most Spirit Orbs weren’t actual spirits, but more or less pieces and parts that moved away from their original place of origin or purpose. Eventually that energy was absorbed and rejoined the collective energy that fueled magic and other things beyond mortal comprehension.

When Lyse was a child, she had simply thought they were all just different types of fireflies, but found it even more beautiful to realize it was spiritual energy flowing in and around them all.

Sunny had wrapped around Khaerons shoulders as the night had rolled in, and she slept lazily about them now as he stood.

“I suppose I should get back to the Land of the Dead. I can’t leave all the work for the rest of the ferrymen.”

Lyse stood and hugged Khaeron tightly. “Thank you for coming to visit. I miss my family.”

“Any time you need us, kiddo, you know what to do. We will come.”

“I know, but I hate to bother you guys. You do important things.”

“Every soul is important, Lyse, including yours. That’s what we do in serving the dead, we make sure every soul matters.”

Khaeron transformed before her eyes into pure light and was gone as suddenly as he would have arrived. Being a deity had its advantages.

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Part II: Poison

inktober

 

Part Two: Poison

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“I know it’s wrong. I know it’s bad for me, but I can’t stop myself. It’s right there and then, I’m right back to my old habits.  Before all of this, I wasn’t in control. I was beaten down and broken by the world.  I hated my job, I hated my folks. I started to just hate the entire world. But this, this I could control, or at least I thought so.”

Lyse listened intently and made notes as her patient talked. Malcolm had worked for the Department of Magical Usage, and as a government employee, he was low on the totem pole. It was sad really. One of those stories that could break your heart. Lyse couldn’t let that change how she treated Malcolm, though. He was an addict, and thus, he needed to be treated kindly, but in a professional manner.

As an Alchemist, Malcolm sat in a lab and made potions, poisons, and the like for the Sentinels to use. The Sentinels were the enforcers of the laws handed down by the gods and their chosen ones. It was hard working with a government whose laws were based on the words and pronouncements of gods and goddesses, priests and priestesses.

Malcolm, when he had decided he’d had enough, started making some potions and tonics to use off duty. He used them to feel better, to feel in control. It, of course, resulted in his arrest, his being fired, and eventually his death.

Malcolm had sold his soul to a sorcerer for stronger ingredients than he could get at his government lab on a public campus. The sorcerer made the deal, and convinced Malcolm to make extra to sell. The rest of the story, as they say, is history.

Malcolm had decided to get help after he had died from an overdose, but he remained animated. The Mages and Healers were trying hard to return Malcolm to life, but nothing seemed to really work. None of the rites and rituals placed him at rest.

The Black Guard were hunting down the sorcerer with the Sentinels, but he remained elusive. Until then, Malcolm was remanded to the hospital. He continued to crave the potions that had ended his life, and by some chance, hoped he could be restored to life if the sorcerer was ever caught.

“I know it’s hard, Malcolm, but you know that these cravings are just an after affect of your condition. You can no longer physically derive pleasure from them, and though you mentally crave them, you can’t really enjoy them.”

“I know, and that’s what makes it so damn frustrating! I’m just bones held together by magic! I can’t do anything like I used to, and yet, my mind and spirit are afflicted with this hunger to continue on doing what I did in life.”

“Have you found something else to try and use your time on? It can be helpful t have a hobby to redirect your energies and frustrations.”

“I’ve started playing Chess again.  I used to play it all the time before work demanded more and more of my time. Charlie, the werewolf in 604, he’s pretty good. We play everyday now.”

“That’s great, Malcolm. Try focusing on other things. Chess is an excellent activity to help you focus on other things. This week, you should try to find a few more activities to do that you used to enjoy. Maybe read a book? But keep playing Chess with Charlie. I think that’ll do him a world of good.”

Lyse smiled at Malcolm as he left.  He was one of her better patients, and she was being truthful when she said that Chess with Malcolm would be good for Charlie. Charlie rarely interacted with others, but when he did, he was always aggressive, or worse.

As Lyse sat at her desk to type up her notes she felt accomplished for the day. Most days the feeling of accomplishment was hard fought and hard earned, but today, today was a good day.

Inktober

For those who do not know, there is a challenge called Inktober that challenges an artist to take a prompt and create an ink sketch for each day of October.

My friend, Sarah, does this challenge every year and has for several years. This year, however, her art spoke to me and I started writing a story piecing sketches together to make scenes for the story.

The plan was to share it all once the story was done, but I’ve wanted to resurrect this blog for a while and decided that this project would be the perfect excuse.

inktober

Part I: Run

Run

RUN! It was all she could think as she moved down the path at full speed. It was early morning and the fog clung to the forest and its bright tapestry of changing leaves.  She blew out a puff of warm breath as the fallen leaves crunched under her feet. She heard the wild beasts just behind her as they ran to catch up. She could feel their hot breath behind her, and it spurred her to run faster.  

The sun began to burn the fog away and warm the forest around her.  She risked a look towards the sun and realized her mistake as she tripped over a root sticking up on the hiker’s path. She fell forward, unable to stop the fall or her forward momentum.

She tucked her head down and ended up in a forward roll. She popped back up, but it was too late, the creatures were on her.

Roscoe and Emmett were on her in a flash, pinning her down and licked her face all over.  They slobbered on her and refused to let her up.

“Gross, guys! Ugh!”  She shoved them off. “What have I told you about the slobbery kisses?!?!”

They whined at her and bumped against her legs as she got up.  They’d been her near constant companions in the forests since she was a small child. Her uncle and left them with her to help her get over the loss of her grandmother.  Most would call them ugly, but she loved them as closely as she had anything or anyone.

Their skulled faces made them looked like ferocious monsters, but they were only mean if they needed to protect someone they loved.

Lyse looked at the pups and just smiled.  She couldn’t be mad at them.  They were her best friends and knew her better than most living or dead people.

“Alright, let’s go.”  She gestured down the path and started to jog. Roscoe and Emmett just trotted along, watching and waiting in case they were needed.  They weren’t just pets, they were also guardians.  Her grandfather was a god, the god of Death. His power was great, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from losing the human female he had loved for nearly 75 years.

Death can only watch and then ferry the souls off to the underworld. He did not have the power to save those who were fated to die. When he met Myrcalla, he was so tired of his place, of not having someone to love.

He had brothers, he could choose any one of them to take his place.  And he did. Mortis had been a ferryman. Mortis escorted souls from their place of death to Death himself, and then Death took them onward.  He would either send them to eternal paradise or eternal torment, or at least the gates that lead to the lands beyond.  He was a doorman and an escort.

Lyse remembered her grandmother and grandfather fondly. Spending many an evening visiting with them and talking.  Death, who took the name Satibah and started living as a mortal with Myrcalla, letting Mortis take his place. Khaeron took Mortis’ place.

Lyse rounded the corner to her home and slowed to a light trot. She could still remember the time her grandfather had tried to plan an anniversary dinner with the entire family.  Nothing went right and in the end, they had to sit in the dark and eat cold spaghetti.  It was her grandmother’s favorite story to tell when the family was able to get together. She smiled sadly as she stopped at the gate to her family home she had inherited.

Her Father, Berodach, was a soldier. He served to fight those who would circumvent death itself. You don’t get to break the rules, or the Black Guard came and fixed things.

Emmett and Roscoe bounded up the stone steps and waited for Lyse to get to the door and let them in.  Once she did, they galloped to the kitchen to their bowls.

She took the stairs to the second floor two at a time.  She wanted a hot shower before she went to work.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

My wife and I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with my friends last night.
 
Unlike most others, I liked it better than the first.
 
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SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
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Now, Something that has been bothering me is the obvious change of Peter Quill/Star Lords parentage. In the original source material Star Lord is the son of J’Son a Spartoi from the planet Spartax, and their King.
 
Why did they change his father to Ego, the living Planet? I do not know,  but it was an interesting change, and certainly made things a lot more dire and Peter a lot more important in the Galactic scheme.
 
Yondu and the Ravagers, Stakar, Yondu’s death and then his funeral. It made me cry, but damn if it wasn’t amazing.
 
And Baby Groot. Stole the whole show! It was just amazing.

The Undying of Dracula: Part One

The Undying of Dracula.

The battle was lost. The Knights stood ready to follow their Prince to the end, but the rest, they had switched sides mid-battle seeing defeat as inevitable.

Vlad Dracula fought as ferocious as a blood lusting beast, he bled from many wounds, yet he continued on.

Nicolai could not believe his master could still be alive, could still be slaughtering the Turks as they came for him.

Nicolai fought until he was by his masters’ side, the other Knights fought to clear a path.

“Dracula, Master, we must flee. The battle is lost!”

Dracula, his eyes glowing yellow with a ring of red, howled incoherently as he cut a Turk in half.

He turned to face Nicolai and his expression changed. He saw the fear in his oldest friends face and knew he was right. The fight was lost.

Dracula nodded once and they quickly began to retreat. A man, who could pass for Dracula, stepped forward, only to be beheaded.

The Knights each stepped forward to cover their Master, only to fall. Soon, only Nicolai and Dracula were left, but they had disappeared into the mountains on horses.

As they retreated, they could hear the Turks yell out in victory.

They had defeated Vlad Dracula. Vlad Tepes. Vlad the Impaler.

~1 month later~

Vlad Dracula lay dying. He had survived his wounds, secreted away, he had been taken to a place known only to the Order of the Dragon.

Dracula, Son of Vlad Basarab Dracul II, The Dragon, was feared by many. His reputation for death followed him and it had reached the ears of the Church. They deemed him guilty of crimes unmentionable, and now, though he was sick, and dying, he was going to be punished.

Two Knights, clad in the armor of the Church, pulled Dracula from his bed and dragged him before the Bishop.

“Vlad Basarab Dracul III, Dracula, Son of the Dragon, Prince of Wallachia, Count to the Order of the Dragon. You are hereby excommunicated from the Church. Your crimes deemed to be the works of evil, not in defense of the Church, but for your own enjoyment of blood and torture of innocents.

Your punishment will be that your flesh be scourged, you will then be taken and placed in a coffin of Hawthorn and Oak with the wood chips of an Ash and Dogwood tree dumped over your still living body. Then dirt of the land you cursed with your presence, soaked in the blood of those innocents you murdered, will be shoveled into your coffin to crush you and choke you until dead.

You will be denied your last rights.

With the lid then closed, it will be marked with the symbol of the unholy. You will then be buried in the walls of your Castle, high in the Carpathian Mountains.

Have you any last words?”

Dracula, weak as he was, stood in defiance, his eyes a normal icy blue now. He spat on the ground and spoke nothing. He would not dignify them with last words spoken.

He had heard that the Turks claimed him dead in their victory, and that even his head sat ona spike this very moment.

His wife, his beautiful wife, had leaped from the tallest point of the Castle after hearing of his death.

He had never felt such despair.

The next few hours, he was beaten. His skin flayed open from whips and canes. He, at the start, had defied them with silence, but by the end, he was unable. His screams sounded like the howls of a dying beast. Like an injured and tortured wolf.

The Knights added their own sick piece to Dracula’s torture. His friend, his Knight, Nicolai, was brought forth and was held above Dracula’s dying body.

They slit his throat and forced Dracula’s mouth open. He was forced to swallow and swallow. His face and body covered in blood. He watched the life drain from Nicolai’s eyes and Dracula, for the first time since he was a child, shed tears.

As the wood chips and dirt were tossed on, Dracula closed his eyes and vowed that they would pay. He had defended his people, he had defended the Church, yet now, they buried him as a monster. They had taken the last of what was his.

He, before his face was covered, screamed out. “I will return. You will all die! I embrace this curse!”

Then, as the last shovel full covered his face, he breathed his last.

~One Year Later~

He watched the young boy from the shadows. The boy and his friends had found sticks about three feet long and as straight as the trees of the forest provided and had taken another piece about a foot long and attached it with vines to become a cross guard. The boys were pretending to be Knights who protected their homeland from invaders.

Each boy took turns being the lone Knight fending off the invaders. He smiled, remembering his own boyhood with his best friend. Each dreaming about defending their own homeland.

The sun slid behind the mountains and the boys continued to play until one boy saw the man in the shadows and came closer. the man smiled as the boy stopped before him and marveled.

“Are you lost Mister?” The boy had the brown eyes and hair that was so familiar to the man. He got down to one knee before the boy.

“No young one. I am not. I knew a man from here, once.”

“Really?” His eyes grew wide in wonder. Not many people from this village ever left or interacted with strangers. Some did though. “Who was he?”

The man smiled, his black mustache revealing his canines which were a little longer than most.

“He was a very brave man. A Knight.”

“My Papa was a Knight! Momma says he did something bad though.”

The man reached out and patted the boy on the head. “What is your name?”

“Nicolai!”

“A good strong name, for a good strong and proud Szgany boy.”

Calls sounded from the village and the boy turned to look. “Momma is calling me home. Bye Mister.”

“Goodbye Young One.”

He watched the boy run off and he smiled. “You will make a great leader. Just like your father.”

Chapter One – Death Does Not Contain.

Lisbeth sat at the small wooden table by the fire and gritted her teeth as hard as she could. The pain was unbearable, but she knew that she needed to. For her son. She felt something wet drip on her hand and looked down to see blood. Her nose was bleeding again.

She stood and grabbed a cloth. She held it to her nose as she brewed tea that the old witch had given her to lessen the headaches and the pain that wracked her body. It was a dark dark brew, almost black and it was very bitter, but it did indeed help with the pain.

She looked out the window and sighed. Who would watch her son, Nicolai, once she was gone? Was there a way to cure this disease eating away at the time that remained of her life?

The door to the small cottage opened and her husbands Father entered. Stephano was a proud man and Chief to his people who had stood with Vlad II Dracul, offering the young men of the village as fighters for his army. This sacrifice, had these particular Szgany looked upon with great favor. Even his own son, Nicolai I, had left as a child with Vlad II to train and become a Knight.

He lived with the Dragon and his son, and the two boys became close friends. When Vlad III Dracula took the throne, he honored the men who had stood with his Father, and swore the people would see no harm.

Stephano had been proud to learn his son, Nicolai, stood with Dracula against the Ottoman Turks. It was a pride that not many could fathom. Most Szgany were just slaves, but Stephano, his son Nicolai and the men among them, had ensured that none would dare touch. That was until Dracula lost to the Turks. Nicolai was said to have died a brave man, but the men had been betrayed. A betrayal from deep within the men among them. Dracula’s own brother, Radu.

Stephano and his people lived in the Carpathian Mountains, hiding from those who would once again enslave them. They had tasted freedom, and more with Vlad II Dracul and then his son Dracula, that they now knew they would always be free, or they would die defending themselves to remain free.

Stephano moved his considerable bulk to a large wooden chair by the fire. He sat and silently fiddled with his long graying beard before he spoke. His voice was deep and rumbled forth like small thunderclaps.

“Two more wolves were spotted. They nearly attacked Sarveni and Theodar. Curisai also saw men on horseback at the foot of the mountain, testing the path up the mountain. Soon they will be here. We will have to fight.”

Lisbeth did not look up. The bloody rag was discarded on the table before her. Stephano saw it and sighed. “You are in pain once more?”

“I’m always in pain now. My body grows weaker.”

“We will find a way to end this disease. We will.”

Lisbeth knew that there was no way for that to happen. She was growing weaker and weaker by the days and soon, it would claim her. Stephano stood and walked to her, hugging her to his chest. She accepted the hug, and he spoke low in a whisper, “Nicolai will be safe. I promise.”

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~One year Earlier~

He came awake with a start, his arms and legs thrashing about. He did not understand why he felt pinned down, then he remembered the dirt. He also felt sharp burning pains and realized the wood chips in the box with him were burning him. He forced himself through the dirt only to have his way blocked with by a wooden lid. Touching it burnt his hands, but he knew he had to be free. Remaining in this box would kill him. With power unrealized yet, he smashed the lid on the box and forced it away from the coffin. his first instinct was to breath, but it sounded harsh as he gasped for air, and his chest burst into pain. He fought to breath for several minutes until he realized, he no longer drew breath. Surely this was just a trick of his mind, of having been buried alive. He climbed from the box, and as he eased out of it, he fell to the floor, weak.

Had he only passed out? He thought for sure he had died. He remembered dreams though, nightmares, of being tortured by creatures who beat him, cut him, bit him. And the face of the old crone, laughing as he screamed in agony. As he begged her to please stop this madness, to let him free.

“Is this not what you wanted? Is this not what you chose those many nights ago, when you came to me seeking power over an enemy you could not defeat?”

Her words still echoed as he climbed to his feet unsteadily. Now, as he stood on weakened legs, he still did not breath. How could this be? Next came the smells. Rotting flesh, old blood and death surrounded him and overwhelmed him. He looked about the darkened room. He could see near perfectly. But how? It was pitch black in here. In the tomb. So they had buried him in the tomb at his Castle.

He heard rats, insects, and other things crawling around. the slightest scratch or scrape clear to his ears. Each scent was crisp and his brain was able to tell him if it was alive, or dead. Rat or insect. Snakes slithering or things on four legs.

He followed his ears, and nose and found himself at the entrance to the tomb. Though he felt weak, he was able to force the large stone door to the crypt open. The sight that stood before him was familiar, but it had not been done by him.

Hundreds of people were impaled on stakes. Some were Szgany who had served Dracula, others were the Nobles and Knights who had supported his place of power. Some were just women and children. He then heard groans and whimpers from a few, and realized, they were alive.

The scent of blood raised a feral reaction within himself and though he had felt weakened, soon he was by the side of a woman, no older than 16. She looked at him, their eyes meeting and she groaned.

The stake she was impaled on had been forced from the bottom up but had burst from her chest, missing her heart. She could barely speak. “Kill me.” She whispered.

He began to lose rational thought as he felt his canines extend. Soon he had pulled her from the stake, her screams loud and pitiful as she was removed. He ignored her pain and soon, he was drinking blood from her. Blood. It was so warm. The blood he had had before, was always cold by the time it came to him. It struck him now that he should have took it straight from their veins, not let it collect in buckets below them.

Horror was in her eyes when he was done, she was barely alive. How, he did not know, but on instinct, he opened one of his own veins and made her drink his blood. She cried as she did, but he forced her to look into his eyes as she drank of him. Something happened, a spark passed between them.

She laid her head back and sighed. “No pain now.”

“Good, my child, good.”

“Who are you?” she whispered.

“I am Dracula.” She then died in his arms.

Chapter 2: The Scholomance.

He walked up the steps carved into the stone of the Mountain, enveloped in shadows. The Scholomance was deep in the mountains of Transylvania, a School taught by the Devil himself. Dracula stood before the massive stone carved gates and motioned the sign that would open the doors.

He entered and found the Gargoyles standing guard as they always did. Gargoyles came in many sizes, but these were behemoths to behold. The smallest he had seen at the Scholomance was six feet tall, their skin hard and leathery. They were also built large of frame and heavily muscled.

He moved past them and moved deeper into the mountain, carved out and made into a magnificent Castle and School. Dracula remembered coming here all those years ago, to learn, as his father had. He had been a weak young man, overwhelmed by his duties to his country, to the Church, and his family. That all changed though when he came here.

He stopped before a simple wooden door, inside was the one he sought, who they all sought, eventually. The door opened without his needing to touch it and push it open. He entered, seeing the room again made a flood of memories return. Flashes of pain and screams, torture that most could not bare.

The Old Crone sat in a chair, hunched over beside a fireplace, a cauldron boiling something that looked green and smelled of rot. She did not turn when she spoke. “You are becoming stronger Young Vlad. Such power you possess now, more than you ever did in life.”

“I do not go by that name now.” It was all he could say. His disdain for her was so strong. She served the Dark Lord of this school, having been one of the unfortunate to remain here as his servant. He could not imagine the tortures she had endured, and probably still did, but it had turned her into something less than human. Her power was enormous, he knew that from the time of his torture. He never did learn whether it was his soul or his actual body that had endured that task, and she wouldn’t be telling him anytime soon.

“You will go by whatever I choose to call you, for you have yet to ascend to the peak of your power and cast me in your shadow.” She turned to look at him and he could see her face had grown more ugly and haggard since his last visit. The students called her a hag behind her back, but little did they know she heard every word and took delight in planning what she would do to them should they be the one chosen as payment among them.

Dracula moved forward and stood to the right of the fireplace. He had been coming here frequently to learn from the Old Crone. She was an expert in Blood Magic, and it had been her teachings that, when alive, had provided Dracula with the power to overcome the Turks, but now, he was something far stronger. He was Undead. There existed many words for what he was, but he was unique among them in the fact that he had been cursed by the Church and then by sheer will and by the power of magic, he rose from his grave and was not contained beyond the veil. He was the first of his kind of undead.

The Crone looked at Dracula now, her eyes white and dead. “How is the girl?”

“She grows, too, in power. She is infatuated with serving me, though.”

“As she should be. You are her Master, she your Bride. You command her every function now that she is undead.”

“Like the Necromancer?”

“Similar, yes. In time, though, she will grow in power and be able to have some free will. The older the two of you grow, the more she will become independent in some ways, but more dependent in others. You must remember, before you, only a Witch could become Undead. You have broken that rule, and found a way to also make others like you. The Necromancer, he makes the dead rise, but they have no mind or will of their own. They are animated by his will alone.”

Dracula knew the Necromancer had an immense amount of power over the dead, but only over the dead and gone. Or at least he hoped it was only over the truly dead. “Can he control me?”

“I dare say he will not even try. The Master has taken a vested interest in you, and your power. You are unique among those who have attended the Scholomance. Those who leave here, though taught in these hellish halls, are not bound by service to the Master, only those chosen as payment like myself, or the Necromancer. Each of us chosen to complete different tasks and master different magics.”

Dracula looked into the fire and wondered at the fact that the Old Crone was the only female to have ever entered the Scholomance. Stories existed, claiming she had come to the Scholomance to be the devil’s lover, or that she was taken as a prize from some other rival to the devil and his power.

Dracula had heard a name whispered once. He never spoke it, but he remembered it. Lillith. His teaching at the Scholomnace said she was the first companion to Adam, not Eve, but he had little to discern if it was true as it was not taught by the Master of the School, but by his second in command.

“You, Young Vlad, did not finish your instruction here as the other Solomanari did, you were called away before you could finish, and dead before you could return. Only the Dragon could make such a request and a student be allowed to leave as you did.”

The Dragon. That’s who his father was. Long ago he made a deal at the Scholomance. Upon his death, he would take his place as the Dragon in the Scholomance, in exchange, he gained amazing power over the minds of others, and a renewed strength and vigor like none had seen from him as he grew older. Vlad II Dracul was betrayed by his own men and once he was dead, the Devil took what he was owed. Now The Dragon is all that remained. He was a Commander among Hell’s army and its hierarchy of demons. The story was that when Vlad II Dracul joined the Order of the Dragon, he took the name Dracul and became the Dragon. The fiercest fighter among the Order, and one of the most feared. Little by little The Dragon took his time and turned the order towards his Master’s purpose. After his death, he joined fully with his Master and served his will only.

Dracula looked at the Crone. “How much more do you have to teach me?” He grew impatient with having to wait to dispense his revenge. He had been warned that the Master had forbidden his taking revenge against the Order of the Dragon or the Bishop who condemned his soul.

“You already know that the power resides in the blood. I have taught you all I know of blood and its magic. You are not a Witch, so what I can teach you will not do you any good. You need to seek out The Necromancer now, and learn of the dead and undead.”

“Will these lessons never cease?” He exclaimed, the power in his voice making the tables and the items on them tremble.

“Remember, Vlad, you are not like other Strigoi, or like the Moroi. You are something more, something greater. Your power grows after each new moonrise. Soon, you will rival even the oldest among us here.”

Dracula wasn’t so sure that he was that powerful yet, or ever would be. He was learning new things each time he came to the Scholomance as well as exploring new sensations by intuition alone. The Crone had told him, the girl he had given his blood to before her death, was now his bride. She was bound to him by the magic of blood and venom. Her blood sustained Dracula, and his venom renewed and resurrected her from death.

He had also learned that he could change others to be like him, but they would be pale imitations to his own power and they would never grow to his strength and power level. Some would also die and not turn into a creature like him. Many factors contributed to who could accept the change and be resurrected and who could not, but not all the rules were clear yet.

Dracula walked to the door and then spoke in a low voice. “One day, when my power overshadows yours, I will return to you and you will pay for my torture.”

“I expected no different, young Vlad.” As he walked from the room the door vanished. So many times the Scholomance changed to the whims of its inhabitants. He had learned all the Old Crone could teach him, and now she had removed herself from his reach. He would return to this place soon enough and seek out the Necromancer, but at this moment, he felt he was needed elsewhere.

 

Life and Other Obstacles

Life is an amazing thing.  You have a blank canvas that you can literally go about doing with as you please.

My life, right now, is amazing.  I have a job that I’ve been at nearly a year.  I’ve been married for nearly a year.  It’s an amazing journey that has placed me in just about the happiest place I have ever been.

Which is why this post is cal Live and Other Obstacles.  They have prevented me from actually keeping up with this blog.  Some is just me being lazy or not having anything interesting to say, but I want to change that trend.

I work as a Library Clerk now, so the power of the written word is ever present.  I’ve helped people from 2-3 years old up to elderly folks with everything from finding a book, to finding resources they needed online to everything else in between.

When you work with the public, especially at a small country Library like mine, you become well acquainted with people.  You learn the books they like, the ones they dislike, you talk with them and get a sense of their lives. It’s highly rewarding.

working at a Library, though, has it’s downfalls.  The main one is Mental and, what I call, Social Exhaustion.

I have a Social Anxiety Disorder.  It’s well taken care of via medications most times, but, even though I no longer have panic attacks everyday like I once did, they can still happen.  One side effect that does remain is becoming exhausted by dealing with large amounts of people.

It’s rare to get that exhausted, but it happens.  I’m feeling that exhaustion today.

In fact, right now, my brain is having a hard time focusing and I can’t really decide where to go with this.

So, I’m going to go ahead and hop off here and rest and try to recuperate.

Mountaineer Monster Hunters

Disclaimer: This is a non-authorized, unofficial fanfiction set in the Monster Hunter International Universe, based on the books created by Larry Correia.

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . .
when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

And there he is. The New Guy.  No, not that movie from the early 2000’s.  No, this was our new recruit.

I’ve been sitting here for an hour waiting on our teams newest guy to get here.  The Bossman recruited him after a nasty gremlin outbreak in Morgantown on the WVU Campus. Gremlins usually aren’t exterminated but can be recruited into helping or negotiated into relocating.  These ones, though, decided to cause electrical fires, downed lines, and blown transformers.  7 people dead.

MCB took over the scene and Bodie happened to have seen the little bastards before they could shut it down.  Poor Bodie got the “Keep your mouth shut or we come back and you won’t like us when we do” speech.  On the other hand, the Bossman was on campus and got to also talk to Bodie. recruiting him for the team.

Now, will he remain a member of the team?  Well, that remains to be seen.  Most people can’t handle what they see when the truth comes to light.  Others refuse to accept it and move on like it was a hallucination.  Then there are the men and women who, like me, and the other Monster Hunters, see it, accept it and then move into the next phase, which usually involves hunting monsters.

My entrance to the world of monsters was a bit more violent that Bodie’s, but we aren’t here to talk about me.  No, today is Orientation.  I’m the lucky one who gets to take Bodie and show him the farm and how we operate.

“Bodie!” He comes across the Sheetz parking lot and stops by the car.  He’s taller than I imagined, but he is skinny as a rail.

“I’m Eli. Eli Knight.  I’m the welcome wagon.  I’ll take you over to the farm, show you the ropes, get you settled in.”

“I’ll follow you over, then?”

“Yeah, but first, I’m hungry. You Hungry? I’ll take you to the best place to get some food here in Phillips.”

“Sure. I’m starving.”

So I’ll take him to the Galleon.  Nice place right on mainstreet. Gives me some time to get to kno the kid.  Bossman told me he as young, but damn, he doesn’t even look young enough to drink.

~~~~~~~~~~

Now I get why he is so skinny. The kid ordered a freaking salad for lunch.  I’m not the picture of perfect health, but I’d have atleast got the steak or southern fried chicken salad.

Never understood people who ate rabbit food.  I almst always inherently distrust people who don’t eat meat.  Seems highly unnatural.

“Where you originally from, Bodie?”

“Montana, but my plan was to join the FBI after school.  Guess that’s not happening.”

“Eh, the Feds can be jerks, plus now you’d probably end up MCB.  You don’t wanna work for them.”

“Why not?”

“Eat your leafy greens, Bugs Bunny. I’ll take you over to the farm and we will talk about everything once we get there.”

My phone rings. It’s the Bossman.

“Heya Boss. yup, eating lunch now. Be there in about 45 minutes. Seeya soon, Boss.”

 I look at our new rookie and smile. “Bossman was wondering what was taking us so long, but don’t worry. Just keep eating, I’m in no hurry and neither is he. Not really.”

I take a bit of my burger and make noises that aren’t really meant for anyone but my lover to hear, but they make the best damn burgers here.  Bodie looks a little green, though.

“Buck up, buttercup. If this makes you feel green, just wait till we get into the real stuff of Monster Hunters.”

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