‘Is there no alternative besides to work together with those bloodsuckers?’ Marcel Thibodeaux, just like Mercedes wasn’t a supporter of these night creatures. Not that he was afraid of their power and also not because he felt superior. Werewolves and vampire didn’t go along well together.
The nightwalkers were scared to death from a bite of his kind. It meant a slow decay and eventually the end of their immortal existence. The bite of a werewolf was a poison for these beings of the dark. It deprived them of all their forces, spread through their body as a paralyzing fever. In their last moments, they dispersed to dust in such a way they had to endure infernal pains before the void gulped them down.
A werewolf couldn’t afford himself to have the teeth of a vampire in his flesh. The saliva of these nightwalkers contained a substance that made them slowly but surely mad. The gene structure of a werewolf had a defense mechanism against this strange substance. But once bitten the werewolf and after his first transformation after the bite, the beast got terrible hallucinations and every time it became more difficult to come back out of his wolf-being. The spirit of wolf can’t separate reality from the images his sick brain made appear before his eyes anymore and became insane. Eventually, it resulted in the suicide of the animal, a merciful deliverance from the hell it had arrived into.
That’s why from both sides, they had respect for each other and tried as much as possible to avoid contact. So it was normal that Marcel wasn’t leaping at the chance to become the fourth man to go to the Underworld.
‘That sort of being dead, like you explained, it is reversible, isn’t it? He looked at Mercedes with a serious glance upon his face. He didn’t doubt that he wanted revenge for the massacre the enemy had caused between his kindred. That was an indisputable fact. ‘If I have to kick off, then only during my attempt to send this butcher to hell.’
Mercedes considered a moment before she answered. ‘I’m not going to make something up, Marcel. The transformation I call upon you isn’t really dangerous. For that, I have no worries. It’s the voyage I’m concerned with. The Underworld is a perilous region, we don’t know much about. What I’ve learned from the spirits where I’m communicating with is not very comforting. We shall have to pay particular attention to any danger. The place where we’ll start the voyage, a portal between our world and the Underworld is still a significant distance from the Styx where Sharon will wait for us.’
Her wolf friend made his muscles move and wiped with his giant hand through his chestnut beard. He wasn’t particularly confident about the matter. He could stand his ground if it came to a fight in his human appearance. He was about a meter ninety tall and by his profession as a lumberjack, he had cultivated the necessary force and muscles. As a man, he had rather a soft character, although he even so had to use his force a couple of times in his life. He had never had to hand out more than two punches to silence his opponent. As Red Fang the wolf, he was famous because of his speed, force, and endurance. The Underworld, however, was an unknown determining factor. ‘Will it be possible to transform there? I mean when you have bewitched me to death.’
Mercedes couldn’t but laugh. ‘Yes, you’ll not lose your magical powers. I only don’t know how they will manifest in that world. The Underworld doesn’t work like ours. It’s even possible they’ll be stronger or different for that matter. I only know we have to try this if we had to find mother’s second box and stop this slaughterer.
‘Hmm, as you please,’ Marcel Thibodaux growled,’ we don’t have a choice. I’m your fourth man, Mercedes. Even if I have to play sidekick for these two bloodsuckers.’
Mercedes nodded. ‘Oh yes, there’s still one thing. Don’t call them like that if they’re around. Our trip could suddenly be a lot shorter than expected if they react to those pet names.
Meanwhile, Dragosj hadn’t been idle. He had a responsibility to his people. He was chosen and before he would nominate a successor, he couldn’t think about of voyage into the sun. Besides, he couldn’t rest before the enemy of the nightwalkers was killed.
He had chosen to say nothing to Diana nor to Jules, even not to the member of the Elder Council. It weighed heavily on his mind, but he knew the identity of the enemy. Anyway, one of his identities. The history of the nightwalkers went back very far and he owned a lot of old parchments which told about the red and bloodthirsty power that annihilated his kindred. The force of that power had never been so strong. He didn’t know, however, how to stop this murderous being.
Dragosj thought about many centuries ago, a time when everything was still so primitive and where their kind still was colonizing the world. Their numbers were still small, but their force and influence, on the contrary, was very important. His father and his brother came back in his memory, not that they had swept out of it, but he always tried to push these thoughts away.
Today, that wasn’t possible anymore. His parental home, his father’s castle, had been destroyed together with the man himself. A knife through the heart of his maker, while he was having his throat been cut over, had made an end to his eternal life. The villagers and the gypsies had burned the castle, wild with joy because a Texan and an Englishman had killed him. It was the end of a famous name in Transylvania.
His brother, however, he who was made of the same blood, he who was born of the same mother and, at least, was a dozen times more bloodthirsty as his father, still lived. Even if he wasn’t a nightwalker again. The same parchments that lay before him, his brother had read them too and deciphered. He was obsessed with the strength of this bloodthirsty power. His own possibilities, despite they were much more powerful than those of a mortal being, still were too limited for him. He visited and consulted alchemists, fortune tellers and witches who were well-disposed to him. He promised them all the necessary worldly treasures if they could help him to get this power.
Dragosj had tried to talk him out of it, but it was in vain. The only thing Dragosj caused was that his brother secluded himself in his own castle Boran in Romania and simply continued his quest. The last thing Dragosj had heard of him was in a letter his brother had sent him.
Dear brother, Dragosj, blood of my father,
If you read this, I’ll be more powerful than I’ve ever been. Our father, may he rest in the sun, was feared more than anyone. His name was whispered by everybody respect and regard. However, I’ll make him disappear in my shadow.
I’ve decoded the secret of the red power and with the help of old magic I will subject it to my will. My Kingdom will be a thousand times bigger than my father’s. My dominion shall be felt not only during the night but also during daylight. Nobody will be able to conquer me.
Dragosj had read the letter so many times. He knew him by heart. Every word, every sentence burned in his eyes, but also in his heart. Eventually, his brother had become totally mad and megalomaniac through his obsession. Anyway, these were his thoughts when he had read this letter for the first time. At that moment, he just knew there was no point in answering this. His brother was lost to him. It hurt badly because once he had thought his older brother would be his father’s successor. Dragosj was the youngest one of both of them, but he knew then his brother never would be a good leader. On the contrary, with his vision and his bloodthirsty ambition for power he would destroy everything their father once had built up.
The last paragraph of his brother’s letter had made him furious. He had his own pride and connected with it his responsibility against the nightwalkers. What he wrote at the end, was a straight threat from his brother to him and his kindred.
I’ll ask you just ‘one’ time, acknowledge that I’m your Master from now on. Submit your people to my power and I’ll welcome you and yours in my Kingdom. Join me in a week from here and we’ll annihilate the world and build it up again like I want it. If not, my dear Dragosj, I will crush you under my foot as an insignificant flea. Because so are they who won’t follow me.
Aram Madding had been monitoring carefully, figuratively spoken, everything about supernatural incidents in his town Horseville and surroundings. He was a specialist in his area. Nobody knew as much as he about vampires, werewolves, witches and other creatures with magical powers than he. Not only he was a source of knowledge about these beings, he loathed them as the night where he mostly could find them.
With all his scientific and technical gadgets, he considered himself to be a bit of a wizard. A contemporary wizard who could have at his disposal the best eavesdropping hardware and the smartest software that made it possible for him to perform his profession. He always had thought it was an advantage when people eventually could make their work from their hobby.
Aram had become one of the best Hunters. He didn’t hunt small animals, not even the big ones. He was an animal lover and strived for the preservation of the tiger and the elephant. He couldn’t hurt these beautiful creatures. No, he hunted on the creatures he knew so much about. Vampires, werewolves, and witches were his prey. That’s why he went into hiding. After all, his profession didn’t make him beloved by the kindred of his victims.
He couldn’t count the number of times he had changed of residence, a hiding place would even be a better word for it. He couldn’t follow it anymore. Out of security measures, he always moved house when he had made a new victim. The only thing he kept with him was his toolbox. In there he kept his weapons to catch and kill the wild he hunted for.
A repeating rifle he had converted and shot silver darts that were very effective against both vampires as werewolves and it had saved his life several times. He had the same kind of heavy pistol, which served on a short range. The silver nets he only used if he wanted to catch his prey alive to force them to give information. Information that could lead him to their kindred or a nest of them. He had silver daggers, brass knuckles and even bullets he made himself. Of course, it was very helpful he was the only son of a deceased multimillionaire and could fund his expensive hobby/profession.
He couldn’t live without the thrill of the action, the adrenaline of the quest, the chase and the killing of his prey. Sometimes even the fight. Until now everybody had eaten dust. But it was a fight on a small scale. He couldn’t match a group of these night creatures as a loner. A duo or even three of these despicable creatures he could handle after a good preparation. He would never overplay his hand, death never was merciful.
Concerning the witch community, he made a distinction. He knew there were good witches. People who used what they could find in nature and knew how to use the forces of nature to help their fellow human beings. For this kind of people, he had respect and he wouldn’t hurt them a bit. For the rest of them, acolytes of black magic he had no mercy. His blessed objects did the same what the silver weapons caused. They destroyed those who collaborated with the devil, those who burned black candles at night and called plagues and bad curses upon human beings.
Lately, he had noticed the inhabitants of the night were much more careful than usual. He couldn’t catch them so easy on a mistake and most of the times they were not alone. They were aware.
At last the night of the killing of the vampire nest in Horseville he had witnessed the reason for this all. He had carefully followed the man who slipped into the building and had heard the cries and the shouting in the cellar of the dying nightwalkers. Nonetheless, he was hardened by the battle, he got the goosebumps. This was a new enemy. An enemy, he yet hadn’t encountered. Someone for which his usual weaponry wouldn’t work. He silently crept to the outside and went home. Aram Madding knew that this man wasn’t a Hunter like him. His reason was not to deliver the society from his vermin. This man did what he did because he could and to become the ultimate terror of the Night.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere