For an eternity the vampire was held in the most cruel of fates for his kind. Buried alive... or undead rather. Not destroyed and crumbled to ashes as most of his kind had ended through out history. But buried undead, mind and body left intact. Oh the cruelity of it all. To never die... well die again permently... but to wither away to beef jerky streached over bones. In a dark damp moldy tomb with nothing to read. His skin and muscle had shriveled and dried so thin and tough, it was getting harder and harder to move. Not that he had much room to move anyway. The worse was the mold and fungus. How many times had he awoken to find pale mushrooms growing on his clothes. Too bad they were unedible, not that he hadn't tried.
But Braygorn would have had the last laugh, if only he had the strength. The Paladin who had buried the vampire was dead and ashes himself just over seven hundred years ealier. Ashes because Dragon's have no sense of humour when it comes to knights with lances on charging horses.
Over the course of the seven hundred and seven years he had been trapped, he had heard or rather felt a great many things pass by close. The low rumble of carts laden, he figured, for market pulled by the slow plodding of oxen. The fast beat of running horses. And once about two hundred or so years ago, the incrediable thunder and quaking of an army on the move. Well... around two hundred anyway. It's kind of hard to tell when your whole world is lightless and consists of piled stone walls. Not even a pallet to lay on.
The weakne..... what was that?
With the new sun barely one hand above the horizon Brid was confident they would have time to dig up the cursed mound. He knew that was just a way of keeping people from stealing the riches buried there. He had figured that long ago King Alin's army must have buried some of the loot from sacking Ashtonlon. With the fables that most of the city had been made of gold, there was no way they could have carted all of it off. Since Ashtolon was now fields of salt grass with a few hundred toppled pillers and crumbled walls, a full sacking of, then salting of the ground must be true. And everyone knows the best way to hide loot was to bury it and say 'it's cursed!'
"How much further?" whined his younger brother. Brid rolled his eyes at his close friend Gevin. Oh why had he asked his brother along?
"We're almost there so quite your sniveling. If it's so bad, feel free to go home to Mommy." teased Gevin. "Besides, think how jealous all the other kids will be when we return with treasure." Gevin flashed a smile at Brid "Besides, we let you carry the shovels, didn't we?"
Blain brightened at the thought of the treasure. Visions and dreams kept him busy enough for the next few hundred spans. "Are we there yet?"
Gevin, who had even less patience then Brid spun around to snap at the boy, but was stopped with a hand on his shoulder.
"Yes, that's it right there under the Everblue tree."
Blain looked at the unimpressive pile of stones then switched his eyes to the tall tree. While Everblues did grow big, he had never seen one so huge. "It's huge!" whispered the boy in awe. Gevin snickered at the remark, but Brid had to agree. It was a massive tree even for an Everblue. Little did they know of the jet black eyes that watched them from the concealing branches.
At first the three boys had attacked the pile with gusto. But the heavy rocks proved to be too much for the youngest. Even the two teens were tiring. After a crushed toe under a dropped rock, they stopped for lunch. Between bites and mouthfulls of water the two elder boys discussed ways of excavating the mound.
"Do we have to dig the whole thing up? Can't we just open one end?" asked Blain. Brid and Gevin looked at each other. While both knew it was a good thought, neither were willing to admit it to the younger.
Above them the smell of their sweat was almost overpowering. But they had iron tools and it knew all too well about iron. But the scent! The urge to attack was all most too much and it fought to control it's impulses. Another branch down and it will be in a good attack position. Just needed the right timing. Even with the iron, it knew it wouldn't wait much longer. It silently dropped to the final branch, now only a few spans above the sweet sweet man flesh it so rarely got to taste. Oh and they were small ones, young and tender!
The two boys worked together prying and shoving rocks. Blain, who was not strong enough handed them the shovel or pry bar or water skin as they asked. The earth on one side had been dug down so they could just topple the stones in to the pit. But it was still hard going. At last they toppled another stone over and below were smooth cut and tightly fitted brick of a type they had never seeen before. The two boys looked at each other and smiled.
"It's getting late, shouldn't we be going home." worried Blain as he looked at the sun setting only a few hands above the horizon now.
"And leave all our hard work for someone else to come and steal all the treasure!" Exclaimed Gevin. "Give me the prybar and quite whinning, we're almost in."
Taking the bar from the young lad, Gevin stood on the edge of the bricks and hammered at them. Sparks and chips flew as he continued to beat at them. After a few minutes, he was breathing hard so he handed the bar to Brid with a smile. "Your turn."
Brid stood and looked at the bricks. There had been a fair bit broken away by his friends hammering. So he moved to the other side and continue to concentrate his blows around the same area. Once he was satisfied, he jammed the pry bar into the shallow groove and levered it up a fraction. the bar slipped and the brick dropped back into place. He tried again with the same results.
"Give me the shovel." Gevin told Blain. "Ok lift it again and I'll get the shovel to hold it." The brick lifted and before it could fall back, Gevin jammed the shovel blade in the thin crack. The brick held. With a whoop, Brid reset the pry bar and lifted the brick even higher. Again Gevin wedged the shovel in further. Several more tries and the bottom lip of the brick lifted above the top ledge. With a slight grind, the other end slipped down and the whole brick fell into the lightless pit below followed within a heart beat by a thud.
The three excited boys looked at each other with grins which quickly turned to panic as more bricks started to slip and fall into the pit below. Two boys jumped to safety but one wasn't fast enough. With a thud in a cloud of dust, the top had collasped.
"Gevin! Gevin!" cried the brothers before they heard his coughing. When the dust cleared, they could see Gevin sitting a perhaps a pace below them covered in whitish dust surrounded by bricks.
"Is there treasure?" was asked at the same time as "Can you see any gold?"
"I'm ok. Thanks." He stood with a wry smirk for the two brothers and tried to brush off some of the dust. "Looks like this goes further in. Give me a torch."
It was about to plunge down and grab the bigger one but the Man-boy held up a flaming torch just as it was about to let go of the branch. It almost squawked in fear. Fire! It's greatest fear! It jumped back up another branch, double hearts pumping loudly in it's ears. That had been close, almost too close. But the bigger one handed the flame down into the foul smelling pit. And the iron had been tossed out of their reach. Drool started to form along its wicked beak as it dropped back down to the branch it had so hastliy vacated. There were just two of them now and one too small to be any threat.
Gevin held the weak torch aloft as he walked several paces into the moldy tomb. He could see no gold, no treasure.
"Hey, there's nothing down here but some dead guy." He yelled back in disappointment. 'Maybe there were jewels on him.' he thought. 'Funny that he would be in a tomb, but not in a coffin or even on a table or something.' This place was giving him the creeps, but the thought of coming out to face Brid and Blainf because he was scared... well a regaan had a better chance against an arrow. He bent closer looking at the decomposing clothing. Nothing. He tentanivly reached out a hand to pull open the moldy vest and shirt. Suddenly a yell then a blood piercing scream echoed down the shaft. Gevin looked back with a sudden start.
"Brid?" he called. "BRID!" he yelled as he moved towards the opening. The hairs on the back of his neck stood and he felt more than heard a dry rustling and creaking behind him. He spun around and was face to face with a shriveled white face with the reddest eyes he had ever seen. The last eyes he would ever see.
Blain was arguing (again) with his brother. Brid wanted to go down into the dark shaft, but Blain was too afraid and didn't want to be left alone up top. A creak of a branch and Blain looked up in time to see a blood red blurr streak by him and he yelled, startled and fell back. His brother on the other hand srceamed in agony. There was a crunch and blood splattered the younger boy. A griffon had sunk it's talons into Brid's side, knocking him over. As the boy tried to fight off what held him and scream again, the griffons sharp beak bit into his neck and blood splurted. His scream came out as a bubbling gurgle.
Blain sat where he had landed and stared in horror at the griffon. He couldn't move, the horror, the blood. He screamed and the griffon turned a eye to him. Jet black, no pupli to be seen. The boy froze, terrified. The griffin ignored him and bent it's head for another bite. Blain looked and could see the shovel just within reach. He had to help his brother, had to do something. Where was Gevin? He grabbed the shovel, jumped up to charge the creature that had pinned his brother.
Braygorn walked magestically out of the tomb. Well as magestically as one could given the poor state of his clothes. Ahh the strength was returning after such a fine meal. The sweet lifeblood of such a young lad. And the throbbing beating heart had pumped it so fast he had barely been able to keep up. But he had managed. After all it would be such bad manners to waste even a drop. What ever would the other vampires think of such a horrendous faux-paus. It was good the boy hadn't fought, frozen with terror like that. The torch would have turned the dried out vampire into a tallow candle. Of course once he had looked into Braygorn's eye's it was all over anyway.
Quicker than most eyes could follow, his hand shot out and grabbed the arm of a rather young boy running with a shovel of all things. An eternity of drought and now two within minutes. He smiled a rather toothy smile at the thought. The boy screamed and swung the tool at his head. Braygorn casually grabbed the shovel and easily wrenched it from the boy. Then he realized, they were not alone. A red griffon was noisily feasting just a few paces away. 'Now that's something you don't see everyday. I thought they were extinct.' He turned back to the struggling boy, then back to the griffon that was now eyeing him and the boy both.
'Wonder which of us is the more hungry of the two?' The vampire thought, holding the helpless boy by one arm.