Merlin 3:7 “Dangerous Prey”
Nik releases the victim’s hand and lifts his heel from the dead man’s neck then walks in order to return to the mining encampment. It is sunset and with as much, the rise of night and other most exacted dreadful creatures, when vampires travel between castles and cities they must bury themselves like foxes in dens, this evening two such creatures emerge in the dusk, first their hands then sitting-up, crawling-out, and shaking-off. The commotion of Nik’s has collected much of their attention that can seethe beyond primordial instinct to crave and lust the blood of man, as Nik walks down the road the first of two unholy hunters feeds on the dead mercenary while the blood is still warm, it is only moments before the blood irrevocably decays of death’s threshold. The second walks without noise and stalks without poise, merely a shadow of moonlight and nothingness, as the first begins pilfering his meal the second closes-on Nik and suddenly attacks, biting over his shoulder into the neck so masterfully quick that Nik can only reach forward as he is drug from footing.
Soon, as all vampiric meals become, Nik dies from the death of sanguine purge. The vampire drops his lifeless body to the ground with the dismissal of breath and disgust, with the sortie ended the bloodbreather picks thru Nik’s pockets tossing aside anything not wealth or weapon. With a miscreant sigh of boredom the vampire sits on his chest patting him and petting pockets for coins, sliding over his knees he checks the trousers as his compatriot Matteus joins him.
Matteus: “He smells delicious.”
Smythe: “He was, and you know, I still feel unplaced; how many towns still on the list?”
Matteus: “We scout three and a fourth for a pound of flesh.”
Smythe lifts his knees and rolls onto his feet with youthful vigor, the night is young and so forever is immortality.
Matteus: “How thirsty and when to slake?”
Smythe: “I’d say I could drink again before dawn, most queer the feeling, I see color in my veins and farther the dusk.”
Matteus: “Excellent, that shitheel was rotted, I might relapse before sunup.”
Smythe: “We shall exeunt before an interruption.”
The sky is dark and the sunset is not horizon nigh, but Smythe sees it with euphoric eyes because of Nik’s immortal blood, because of this fact Nik awakens from eternal rest. His heart begins to beat anew and over their footsteps, Smythe hears the drum of vitality, he puts his arm against Matteus to tarry them to of brief pause they both hear the heart. They run excited and wistful to drink him again but closer tread slowly, Nik hastens to his feet and rushes at them, their faces adorn bemusement and insult for they fear him not. Closer unto combat he his quick and exacting of his begrudgingly violent redress, making certain to break an elbow joint and make it a point to twist the neck of Matteus, which does not kill him but slows him.
With his buckle stolen and in Smythe’s pocket Nik slips his belt from waist with ease and swings it around Smythe’s neck who is trapped but needs not breath, Matteus walks patiently to them whiles nursing his arm that holds his wrung neck, he rolls his head to adjust split bones and riposte Nik.
Matteus: “You should be one of us.”
Nik: “Shall I, why is that?”
Matteus: “…no gods, no master…”
Nik: “…no sense of style.”
Smythe: “Let, go, of, me.”
Matteus: “Why do you fight, we saw you in the road and came to help you.”
Matteus sees the side of Nik’s neck, despite being drug by the throat befang there is neither scar nor blood.
Nik: “I, was in the road, you, put me, on, the fucking road, would there be any chance I could oblige a mutual intolerance?”
Having discordant epiphany Matteus delves through transient memories ignoring all of what Nik has said, instead of polity and pleasances he swifts into the forest night leaving Smythe in custody, away and opposite the direction he was heading.
Nik: “Save surprise; your ally just a-went.”
Smythe: “I don’t need to breath you fool.”
Nik: “I know.”
Nik kicks Smythe’s knees to fold them and fell him to the floor. He steps his weight onto the vampire’s back and pulls the belt to rend and rive the vampire’s head, blood splashes in his face as ravens balk.
Minutes later, Nik is dragging the headless body of the vampire by the foot, arduously marching one hefty step after the next, into the town where Merlin serves medical attention to the haggard and wounded. Ana uses her magic against the fires until all are calmed and smoldering blackened wood stops burning yet heat in the cold spring night steams the air of saved abodes, except for one house that burns bright and hot. She stands before it wondering why it will not subside and for a moment stares at the steaming cobblestones around it only to discard her longcoat and peek inside the immolating structure, piled ember glows from within as townsfolk gather.
Lord Mayor: “Come out of there lass before you burn with it!”
Ana: “I’m sorry mayor, but this one will have to burn.”
Mayor: “Firebrand eh, it’s alright, just another coalhouse, plenty more where that came-from.”
The dragged headless bounty garners attention from the people with gasps of silence, maintaining caution eagerly Merlin joins Nik to quizzical happenstance, with his final efforts Nik sloughs the creature with three labored steps sluggish each more than the last to lastly drop the leg pulled.
Merlin: “Canst thou speak of wagons?”
Nik: “It got away from me when this one and another attacked me.”
Merlin: “I take it you didn’t bring him here for questioning.”
Nik: “No, it was a vampire. I reckoned you’d want some of its blood for spells, whichever you magicians might use.”
Merlin: “O, very good, save yourself a heroes place if they say you’re not useful.”
Nik: “…and if I think I’m not?”
Merlin: “Then you’re not. Our thoughts become atonement.”
Merlin shuffles through his cloak for an empty vial and kneels aside the severed shoulders to fill it.
Ana: “So the raiders were vampires?”
Nik: “No, this one and another crawled out of the earth at sunset then made meal of me.”
Ana: “The trappings of sexual lust, power, and control usually confine them to bastions not sepulture.”
Merlin: “Gives us another sword to sharpen.”
Nik: “Whereabouts is Troy?”
Merlin: “Nearabouts, we haven’t summoned him because he they hast sought.”
Mayor: “They were here for us, the firewing was merely benefic, you have disenthralled us to-day, and you can have the silver we hid from them.”
Nik: “It is the least you can do.”
Merlin: “Nikolas, shut up and allay me to toss this body on that fire.”
The burning edifice now in embers without walls is quick to consume the tossed body, the smell is rife with foulness causing all spectators to stand upwind of it. Thru the night, the people fest and sing battle songs of glory, with Ana and Nick eloped to private moments Merlin calls Troy & Alerion by sticking a metal pole in the ground, hitting it with a stick and merely mentioning their names to its vibration. They loudly land and when Troy hops-off, the phoenix climbs into the embers of the burnt lean-to, despite the exhaustedly drunk people it rests and without Ana to calm rogue fires Merlin must stop the blaze from spreading to homes adjacent. He takes a section of a tree trunk and places it near the fire, from his pocket he pulls a vial of water mixed with blue pixie dust and sets it atop the stump and then pulls a magic-wand from his sleeve.
Merlin: “Watch children the work of magic.”
Merlin pulls the cap from the tiny glass jar and taps the rim with the wand causing a cannonade to erupt and send the blue magic into the thick clouds of drizzling overcast, without result the phoenix squawks perturbed to reprimand him, he waits for one moment and a rain begins to fall on them from a cloud. The phoenix quickly moves from the adjusted downpour and gives sounds of detest that turn noticeably to resentment, for it believes that the raincloud is following it where it treads and flies gustily into the air to confront the cloud with watchers laughing.
In the morning the carrion birds that drank the blood of a murdered vampire and became vampiric themselves, fly toward the sun as they forever have, not knowing the condition of their immortality, when the sun rises over the earth against them they extinguish to ash that falls to the forest floor as the gods have willed to be.