Trail to the Shining City

  Leon lie awake in his bed, eyes stuck in a perplexing staring contest with the ceiling.  He rolled over with a grunt and stared out the window.  The lights of town were all but extinguished, and the moon shown like shattered gem against the clouds.

  Had it really come to pass?  Has the whole of recorded history simply been a grace period for the brewing storm of nightmares?

  The red skies overhead mirrored an ever growing pile of corpses on the battlefield.

  "They're overwhelming us!"

  "We need to leave!  Leon!  Keep them at bay!"

  Leon needed not to be told twice.  He drew the blunderbuss with one hand and turned back to the lumbering hoard of Romanian once-soldiers.  The glowing green danced in eye sockets of the Tepes empire once more.

  The first row lowered their pikes.    A glowing halo of shot thundered from the barrel of Leon's weapon at the same moment.  The smoldering steel passed easily through several rows of undead before finally coming to a halt in the chests of the archers in back.

  A large number of the armored warriors were taken down in the cone of destruction the firearm had left behind.  But the masses simply refilled the hole in their formation and prepared once again to charge.

  Leon raised his Wheelock from it's holster and removed the great sword from his back.  He gave the enemy no opportunity to attack.   A blur of grey passed through the skull of one soldier, and then sliced through the waist of another.

  With a twirl, another cloudy smear twisted through those who surrounded the wolf.  The ranks scattered in chaos, multiple knights attempting to strike with bulky maces.  Leon lowered his gun on one helmet, blowing it and the wearer back to the grave.  With one slash he took the closest attacker's arm off, then doubled back for a finishing decapitation.  A shotsword jabbed in his vicinity, luckily parried by the butt of the pistol.  The sword came around about chest height and easily sliced his attacker in two.

  He struck and struck again, finding those encircling him to be falling away.

  "What?  Does the Impaler's army not live up to the legend?"  Leon hollered at the monsters.

  "They were simply a spectacle for me to enjoy watching."  Came the accented reply.

  From the hoard, a man emerged.  His bizzare facial hair exactly as it was in the centuries old portrait.  His skin much paler, and his rotting eyes alive again with a ominous crimson glow.

  "Vlad Tepes.  I'm surprised you would actually face me.  Last I heard, you were feasting upon the commoners flesh in a forest of stakes."

  "I grew more than a little bored with devouring these new peasants.  They are not my countrymen anymore."

  "You no longer reside in this world demon.  Thus in the name of all who righteously live, I'll take your life yet again!"

  The royal grinned, raising a sword from his golden sheath.  It's ornate handle already coated with blood.

  Leon came at him, sword poised for a brutal strike.  The blades collided in a shower of sparks, then withdrew and repeated.  Vlad stabbed forward, dodged only in a split second by the wolf.

  The wolf twisted his hand back and blocked a quick reprisal by the prince, who scoffed at the lesser swordsmanship that Leon displayed.

  "This is an insult to warriors across the land!  What, do all idiots take up swords and call themselves noble now?"

  "Wrong," Leon hissed, reaching deep into his coat,"I fight with the new weapon of this world."

  From within he removed the snub nosed flintlock he always held for emergencies.
  Vlad stared with horror at the device that he had only begun to see since his resurrection.

  "No man would be so dishonorable!"

  "We are, most certainly, not men.  We are more monster than you will ever know."

  And with a crack, the unnatural light within the Prince of Wallachia was purged.

  And so it came to an end, the remaining forces lost the hub of their damned army to the wolves, who tore through their ranks.

  But the end didn't come fast enough.  Thousands had still been killed as the Impaler had made his way across Romania for a second time.

  The signs.  Were too clear, something was coming.  Even worse was the story that merchant ships passing through the frigid water above Norway had seen a 'burning orange star' that appeared only briefly at sunrise.

  A rhythmic tapping echoed from the door.  Leon was startled, bolting up with hand on the gun by his bedside.

  "Dear brother, pardon me for intruding so late.  Might I enter?"

  The hunter lowered his guard and sighed;"go ahead, Alice."

  The black haired girl cautiously opened the door and put her head through.

  Alice was the final of the three sisters, being the median of the girls.  She was mild mannered, and composed.  She was also quite attractive, with flawless skin and piercing eyes.  This put her at the center of attention for the younger members of the pack.

  "How are you tonight?"  She smiled, walking into the dimly lit room.

  "Alright I suppose."  He sighed, leaning up and cracking his neck.

  The dream had been real enough.  The stench of the littered countryside.  The wine colored blood bursting from every direction.  Never again would he return to Romania, he had seen too many things that would only flood back when he stepped on it's soil.

  "I actually wanted to report something."

  Alice removed a note from the satchel at her waist.  She handed it to Leon with a half-joking bow.

  "I'm doing escort with Victor and Dante?"  He read.

  "Yes.  Apparently, some anti-savior organizations have caught word of the Paris meeting.  There will most certainly be an attack.  Two naturalists from Normandy were found in a ditch with huge bites taken out of their limb joints.  Canine bites."

  The hunter's eyes turned to a murderous glare,"you're telling me lycanthropes did this?"

  "It's why you were selected.  You have the most experience hunting the rouges of our kind."

  Leon's fury was hardly containable.  The traitors would die these coming nights, and he would finally learn who their organizer was.




The End

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