Jump to Navigation

Long Traveled Roads Part IV (NSFW)

The caves were cool and lit by bioluminescent fungi; the perfect hiding place for a mad vampire and his thralls.  Viatryx shed her cloak at the entrance and sloshed as quietly as she could into the relative darkness.  It was comforting after spending the day out in the sunlight, but night was approaching and she could feel some of her strength returning.  Atticus, she knew would be awake soon.  They had come too late to catch him sleeping.  The petite sorceress cast a small mage light above her shoulder, using it to get a better view of her surroundings.  If she had had any questions about where or how to find her quarry, the old, tainted whisper of dark magic beckoning her onward dispelled those concerns.  Darius was right—it was probably a trap.  Setting her jaw against the hazy brush of fear, and the sharper pang of hunger Viatryx pressed on with her feet just barely pushing off the floor of the cave.  She made it to a spot where she could climb out of the water, and crouched in the utter silence for several moments.  Water dripped from a stalactite and echoed as it plopped into a pool—sounding as if it were coming from everywhere all at once.

 

            Viatryx concentrated on it—from the moment that it slid down the rocky protrusion above to the moment that it landed in the pool behind her.  There was another small sound farther in the network of caves, and careful assessment told her that it was more water dripping.  She crept deeper into the cave system, and after a time another sound intruded on her hearing.  It was not as she would have expected from the living: sounds of crying, or fear, or even anger.  No, it was the soft sound of song.  Viatryx could pick out at least eight individual and distinct voices, but she could not yet tell what they were singing.  As she drew closer to the source, she realized that the song sounded suspiciously like an old rhyme she had found in one of the many tomes at her disposal through the Mage’s guild.  Its name escaped her, but she could hear more clearly: “Six are the walking ways, enigma, enemy, teachers…”

 

            A chill of unease tickled down her spine as the sorceress abandoned her careful creeping and began to run softly through the narrow, rocky corridors.  Abandoning her magelight, she trusted her footing and the hazy darkness that closed around her like a second best blanket.  Deeper in the cave system she found an open space lit by the warm glow of tallow candles, and filled with those whose voices she heard raised in song.  The scene was something macabre, women, children and men—more than Viatryx had thought all singing the rhyming song over and over.  As her eyes adjusted she realized that each of them were carrying a small dagger.

 

            “This is the fourth time they’ve sung it.  After the sixth, they’ll spill one another’s blood, and I will feed,” a soft voice whispered out of the darkness at Viatryx’s elbow and she jumped—hitting her head hard enough for even a vampire to see stars.  The man at her elbow stood so he towered over her diminutive height, smiling down at her.  His skin was olive-toned and his eyes were a normal light blue; except for the madness brimming there.  He presented the visage of an Imperial gentleman, dark hair neatly combed back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, and immaculate tunic and breeches. “You look hungry.  Would you care to join me?  I never have dinner company.”

 

            “I can’t imagine why,” Viatryx muttered, trying to smile.  “No.  I’m afraid your vintage just won’t do for me.  Actually, I was looking for some wayward mage apprentices.  I don’t suppose you supped on them, did you?”  Viatryx asked casually as she noted that now Atticus’s dinner for the evening were collectively on their fifth recant of the song.  There had to be a way to stop this and break his hold on them.

            “I did, poor things.” Atticus shook his head mournfully, “I wanted to give one or two of them my gift, but they cursed me and invoked Arkay.  Can you imagine the insult?  Child, you really look as if you could use a good meal.  Please—join me.”  He held a hand out to her, all charm and fatherly kindness, but Viatryx could only shake her head.  She clenched her fists at her sides—feeling the stirrings of longing and desire twist with the hunger already knotting her gut.  She could not feed on these people, but how could she refuse such an honored invitation?  Her body shuddered—this contest of wills risked breaking her, except that just for a moment she thought she saw a flaw in the elder vampire’s attack.  While he was struggling with Viatryx, his control over the remaining travelers seemed to be waning.

 

            “Why this song?”  She asked, feigning curiosity and masking dread.  He was powerful enough to catch her if she misread the situation even the slightest bit.  Perhaps, had he known her weakness, the sorceress would have had no chance at all, but Viatryx was careful to keep that information from almost all who knew her true nature.  Instead as she waited for his response, she began forming the spell she needed at the forefront of her mind.  She would need to be quick.

 

            “Why?  Because it marks the end!” Atticus exclaimed, gesturing animatedly.  Viatryx raised two fingers before her nose and blew out—a marble of energy that soon became a globe spiraled away on her breath.  It landed on the cave floor—stunning Atticus’s prey and forcing them to drop the implements of their deaths as it expanded.  More importantly, it broke the old vampire’s hold on the humans.  Staff in her right hand, Viatryx snatched a candle in the other.

 

            “RUN!” She yelled so that the cavern was filled with her voice, and hurled the candle at Atticus’s clothing—it was quicker than a fire spell, and unexpected.  “Get out of here!  Take the left tunnel and look—“If Atticus had not expected her attack before, he did not give her another opportunity for surprise.  His backhand sent the sorceress reeling across the cave floor as his shrieks drowned out the last echo of her command to the humans now fleeing doggedly away from the two vampires’ combat.  Viatryx shook herself, pushing off the floor as a fireball landed where she had been laying and pooled out to threaten the hem of her robes.  The saving grace was that her clothing was too waterlogged to catch fire, but the same could not be said of flesh or hair.

 

            Viatryx answered fire with lightning, hurling a crackling wall of the stuff at Atticus.  It bathed him in blue light, and left him quivering with burnt patches on his face, his chest and scalp.  For the barest instant, Viatryx experienced genuine terror.  Atticus did not collapse or crumble, but instead he moved toward her with unnatural speed; still burning.  He launched himself at the sorceress, knocking the small woman to the ground—pinning her under his burning bulk.  Agony blinded Viatryx for several moments as the water saturating her clothing heated; she almost would have rather burned cleanly in the fire itself.

 

            “You gave away my dinner!”  The creature giggled as and licked the side of Viatryx’s neck. The last of the flames licking at his form died away.  “I suppose I’ll just have to eat you. Mmm.  Never had your sort before.  You smell weak, and you taste like overripe regrets and bitter dreams.  Best we cook you!”  The floor underneath Viatryx was suddenly alive with flame—cold blue flames, and she screamed as the magic seared through her robes and ate at her back.  When she tried to escape, she found she could not.  She was pinned inside the fire by nothing she could see, writhing in agony while Atticus hummed the ditty he had forced on his human prey earlier.

 

            “If you sing for my supper, perhaps we can play a new game,” Atticus offered as he reached down to pet her hair through the flames.  He grinned and plucked a bit of flame in one hand, holding it in the palm of his hand.  “What do they teach young vampire mages these days, hm?  What’s real is real.  What’s not, is not!”

 

            “I’m not singing for you,” Viatryx panted as his words struck something in her panic.  What was real was real, and what was not was not.  It sounded like Mad Cheese God logic to her.  She decided to try it; fighting to disbelieve the magic holding her hostage.  An instant later, she could wiggle a finger, and in another instant she could wiggle a toe.  While Atticus waited for her to give in—for the pain was still very real, she worked her way free of the snare.  Pain would not destroy her, and so she could endure.  The burns she suspected to decorate her chest—those were real too.  But the blue flames ate away at nothing else, and under its glow she began pushing a vision of something else.  It was her own rune—something derived from erupting volcanoes and angry fire magic.  It took shape while Atticus busied himself with some activity that took him outside the realm of her limited vision.

 

            “Oh, I’ll bet you have a lovely singing voice!  If you sing, perhaps we can even be friends!” Atticus offered coyly as he stopped just outside her line of sight.  Viatryx stared where she thought he might be, remembering she should not be able to move.

 

            “I can’t project from here.  Help me up and I’ll sing…you can take what you will of me,” She panted—praying to Julianos and even Stendarr that he took her bait a second time.  Atticus took a long time to decide he wanted to hear her sing.  Eventually he reappeared at the edge of her vision, a coy half-smile in place.  The elder vampire stepped into his conjured blue flames, and knelt beside her.  Viatryx noticed that he had changed into the robes of an Imperial Statesman, but his burns still remained.  The pain blurring her eyes with bloody tears made it hard to tell what House the sigil on his shoulder represented, and she decided it might be better not to know.  He brushed a hand over her smarting forehead, and then curved an arm under her shoulders—helping her sit up against him.

 

            “There now, that was not so terrible, was it?  Sing for me.”  He demanded, stroking a hand through her slightly singed hair where it had fallen free of its already messy bun.  Viatryx sucked in an unnecessary and shaking breath, and began to sing in a reedy contralto.  She remembered the song now.  It was called Six are the Walking Ways.  She braced herself for the final refrain.

 

            “By the sword I mean a sigh…by the word I mean…the end.”  Viatryx did two things simultaneously as she sang the end of the rhyme—dragging herself to the edge of existence to do so.  As the volcano rune flared up in a rush of true heat, Viatryx willed her body to turn into mists.  The hazy cloud of mist that was Viatryx fled the fiery rune of death she had superimposed over Atticus’s snare—rematerializing a short distance away.  Atticus was screaming again, and burning.  Viatryx flung more fuel on the blaze—candles and shattered wood bits until there was only ash and bone.  She burned the idol too when Atticus’s screaming continued to echo in her ears.  When there was nothing but smoke, wood death, and brittle bone, she used the end of her staff to begin smashing it all into unrecognizable dust.  That was how Mediea and Darius found her; grinding what was left of the mad elder vampire into a fine dust with the end of her staff.

******

Submission Type:
Characters:


Main menu 2

Blog | by Dr. Radut