Her long chestnut hair flowed like rolling waves along her face and over her shoulders. She was very ordinary dressed, a sober ensemble in blue and gray, topped off with a white raincoat. Despite her effort not to stand out, she was like a lighthouse between all the people who populated the streets of Horseville on this rainy day of the week. Her eyes had a light green shade, but in the proper light you could swear you saw a trace of sky blue in them. The auburn hair color gave her something wild and dangerous, a woman who didn’t fear difficulties and who could change from one moment at the other in a fierce animal.
Mercedes wasn’t aware of the looks many men had focused on her. Not even of the scornful glances from the wives of some of them. She wasn’t there to pay attention in the sudden interest some persons had in her appearance in the street scene of Horseville. At another moment, she would have taken the time to make them aware of their inferiority.
She was unique in her kind. Magic was second nature to her, but at night she only felt free after a painful but liberating transformation when she could run through the untamed nature. Among the wolves, she was more complete, happier. A Wolf Witch was not only rare, but it was also a dangerous crossbreeding. She was respected but sometimes also feared both by her human witch equivalent as by the hairy four-footers.
Her vision had brought her here to Horseville. First of all, it had been unclear. Fragments of information, she hardly could put together. A broken mirror through which she got a distorted image from what was and what had yet to come. The future was written already, nobody knew it better than Mercedes. She also knew that she had the ability to change this. To let anything derail on some place or to let something succeed where normally it had to fail. Her influence could change the fate of the world. It was a truth she had learned from her mother Pandora, the greatest wolf-witch in history.
There wasn’t much that should go wrong. She wasn’t the great puppet-master. So many realities, so many outcomes, but such a low success rate. She had seen the world drown in blood and fire in her vision. It started with the nightwalkers, these vampires who didn’t belong to her circle of friends. Normally she wouldn’t feel sorry for their extinction. It was a race as old as hers, but as a witch, she had the power over her transformation. Vampires were slaves of their impulse for blood, their uncontrollable thirst. However, she had respect for their strength and their urge to survive over the centuries. Nobody could exist during such a long time without possessing extreme characteristics.
Mercedes couldn’t have prevented the slaughter of this nest of vampires in Horseville. But she had seen it. They were the ghosts of different victims who disturbed her sleep with horrifying images. A man who was more than his appearance should let believe, a man whose body was the home of a force that was older than the earth itself, had let her leave her protecting cocoon. Her house protected by multiple spells was her castle, her fortified rampart. She could do a lot from there. This, however, was an exception. She had to be on the spot, to see, to feel and to smell how it had been. Mercedes had to establish herself that she was right. Normally she even was a bit arrogant if someone would deny she was right. Today she would be humble even happy if someone could prove her wrong.
It was not long before she felt the atmosphere changing. She approached the place of the disaster. The force of the slaughter was still in the air. Many spirits hadn’t left yet to the Other Side. A common fact, after a bloody massacre. It was a tension she almost could taste on her lips, close to metallic, a feeling that slowly dripped through her brain. A perception of fear, panic in front of the destructive force of this enemy.
She opened the door to the uninhabited lot in a state of repulsion. A smolder of evil passed along her, through her body and let her stop a few moments as if she touching the doorknob had frozen her whole body. It was her sense of direction that drew her further to the cellar. In her vision, she had seen ripped apart bodies, blood that flew in abundance, spattered on the walls she saw in her dreams. She had heard cries, felt the anger of him who called himself Vladimir Sango, but also the screams and the shrieks of the agonizing night creatures. She got goose bumps from it. Static electricity made her chestnut colored hair blow open as a crown of red flames. Her eyes focused another dimension viewed the horrible scenes, as in a movie that was playing before her eyes. However, she could turn the knob. Even when she closed her eyes, she saw and heard the death in all his gruesome aspects.
Mercedes stood still on the bottom of the stairs and looked at the cellar vault where everything had happened. The air in all his atoms, even the most little particles that were floating around in this dark location, were still trembling with the immeasurable violence that was unleashed by it. Slowly she lifted her arms till they were parallel with the floor, opened her hands with her fingers wide open. They served as her antennas which captured everything of that creature that was still left in the cellar. She discovered a piece of black matter that was stronger than the most dangerous bomb man had ever made.
This was only a foretaste and Mercedes knew it. She had read it in the signs. It was written in the tea leaves, the stars and even in the cards she had questioned or the number of the dice she had counted. Everything foretold the same outcome. The world would cease to exist as we knew it today if she could stop this in one or another way.
It harassed her that she should act against her principles. Nothing was more difficult than what she had to do now. Vampires weren’t her archenemies, but something in them was very repellent. They were just like fire and water. They avoid meeting because both of them knew none of them would prevail in a possible battle. Still, she would have to cooperate with these night creatures. Every other scenario would lead to the destruction of all life. Her life also!
‘Julius, you can’t protect everybody or to take into account any possible threat.’ Diana saw that her friend was tensed. More than other days. They had warned everybody, to do more was impossible. Horseville went down Julius’ throat the wrong way. The leader had put aside the alarming messages about the new enemy. With disastrous consequences.
‘I know, but that doesn’t make it less terrible. If this had been the work of a human hunter I wouldn’t care so much. Eventually, he would not be able to cope with our superiority. History has proven it, they can’t wipe us out. But this, this is another case, Diana. If someone can kill dozens of ours in a short time, he has to possess an enormous strength.’
Diana could say nothing against this. Julius was right all along the line. ‘We have to map the incidents. To look where he or she strikes and if there’s a logic in it the order. We shall have to think as policemen. Do we know someone who in a former life has worked in such a service?’
‘Hey, that’s right. Good idea. I ask Markus. He will have no difficulty finding this in his files. This only proves we’ve also entered the 21st century. Nightwalkers on the internet. If they had told me this two centuries ago, I would have treated them as witches.’
He moved from statement to action and typed an e-mail at the attention of the Secretary of Dragosj. ‘We cannot permit ourselves to do nothing. Every attack makes a pack of victims and till now we haven’t a clue who or what’s attacking us. We don’t even know the reason for these massacres. They have written about us in history as bloodthirsty monsters, but we only kill to stay alive. Not for the killing alone. It seems to me that this thing only wants the extinction of our race.’
Markus probably sat before his computer. After a few minutes, they already received the answer that he would look into it. Julius knew he could count on him. He wasn’t one of the strongest of their organization, but he certainly was one of the smartest. The persons he would recommend would be the best in their profession. That was a given fact.
‘I feel restless, Diana. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I think I’m being watched since these attacks occurred. I don’t feel safe in the dark and on the street, still I’m forced to go into the night. Searching for this butcher.’
Diana looked at him. His brown hair was a mess and his eyes showed fatigue. ‘Let us hunt together tonight. It’s already a while we’ve done this. Besides, maybe it’s also safer, we can give each other cover in a possibly dangerous situation. What do you think, isn’t that a good idea?’
Julius nodded absently. ‘Of course. You’re right, it’ll distract my thoughts a bit and now that you say it, I’m feeling hungry again. If we want to fight this creature, we have to be strong. We mustn’t forget to feed ourselves. I know you’re only saying this to reassure myself, but I’m grateful.’ He gave her a tender kiss on her blood-red lips. Nonetheless, she felt the tension in his body when she leaned against him.
Damietta, 6 June 1249
‘They are infidel people. We have to fight for our God and his Church. Let faith guide you, let us be strong for our Church and our Pope. These dogs have invaded our Christian cities and have forced their values upon their inhabitants. Weird rituals, they are servants of the devil. Your sins will be forgiven, your debts paid off for every infidel soul you cling to your sword.’
Louis IX of France delivered an engaging speech at his man before they would go ashore on the beach of Damietta to attack the Egyptian soldiers. Hugo wasn’t himself. His natural reactions and proceedings had changed in one day. When he heard his leader speaking, it almost became too much for him. A red mist came before his eyes. He wanted to see blood, the blood of the infidels.
When the ships arrived at the beach, it was as if he was controlled by this anger that rose from the very center of his being. A scorching hate against these foreign warriors who had made their camp on the beach op Damietta. He was one of the first attackers who beat into the infidels. His sword cut as through soft butter and brought death and destruction.
The force that flew out of his arms was not describable. His friends in his company followed in the breach he was making. His courage and nerve were a stimulant for them to set the first step in regaining Jerusalem in the name of His Holiness the Pope and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hugo didn’t discriminate during his slaughter. Young fellows, hardly old enough to grow a beard were deprived of their life with one strike or a sting of the sword. Mercy was not accepted or even thought about. Blood was flowing over the blades that pierced through many Egyptian soldiers.
It was not for long before troops entered the city. Hugo even had forgotten his name, didn’t know anymore that he had gone to the Holy Land in the Seventh Crusade led by Louis IX of France. He killed without distinction. Children, women and old harmless city inhabitants were put to the sword. Hugo hadn’t time to attend to their pleas.
One of his friends tried to stop him when, after killing the mother of suckling, he turned against this innocent soul. Hugo made no discrimination. With a loud scream, he pushed his sword through the stomach of his friend who fell on the ground, looking surprised at the bloody wound. With a growl, he shoved the sword out of his belly with bulgy bowels coming out of his belly and let his sword cleave the head of the crying child.
One of the Egyptians had fought himself free and beat with his saber in Hugo’s neck. The scimitar slashed through the shoulder and cut his carotid artery.
Even still before Hugo hit the ground, the change had already been made. The red of the blood rage had loosened himself from the entity who had served as a shell for it. The eyes of Hugo’s opponent lighted up. A fierce glance glittered in his fierce look. The foam on his lips was a witness of the rage that led him.
The battle was lost. Even the most powerful enemy couldn’t cope with the numbers of the army of Louis IX. Without someone could prevent it, the Egyptian searched a way to the backfield and disappeared. His day would come yet!
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere