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UPON THE TOWER
Nosferatu chapter 1: Welcome
Nosferatu chapter 1: Text
| Alucard |
Alucard flicked the blood from his rapier and watched the werewolf's severed head drop to the ground to join the beast's twitching body. A satisfied smirk stretched across his pale face, baring the tips of his fangs. It brought him relief knowing he was closer to his task's completion, and all he had to do now was face the Alpha.
With a vicious snarl, the white-furred beast which stood across the field from him rose to its hind legs in a display of threat.
But Alucard wasn't unnerved. He extended his claws from his fingertips and awaited the beast's charge. And when it burst towards him—kicking the ground beneath its feet up in its wake—Alucard sprung forward much faster than the beast could comprehend. He arrived at its side before the grass where he'd been standing settled and gripped the wolf's throat, digging his claws into its skin. It yelped when he lifted it off its feet and slammed its back into the ground, and before it could attempt to defend itself, Alucard sliced the Alpha's head from its body.
It was done.
He flicked his sword, removing as much of the blood from it as he could, and then with the crimson, white fur-trimmed cape he wore over his shoulders, he cleaned his blade and sheathed it at his side. From his pocket, he pulled a folded sack large enough for the beast's head, which he picked up by its muzzle with a disgusted grunt. He unfolded the sack, eased the head inside, and glanced at each dead wolf.
They were all there, and with a jerk of his hand, he sent them up in blood-red flames. Although he'd severed their heads, he wanted to ensure none of them would become hellhounds. That was the last thing he needed. Killing werewolves for the people of the city was tiring enough; if he had to deal with their reanimated corpses, too, he'd feel as though his work was worth more than the treaty he was trying to create with the humans.
He headed into the woods and navigated the late-night gloom to where he left his black stallion. Its crimson eyes shone like a beacon, and from its nostrils oozed dark, twisting fog.
"Vank you vor vaiting," he said, his Dor-Sanguian accent thick and distinguishable.
In response, the possessed horse snorted and waited while Alucard attached the sack to its saddle.
Then, he mounted the horse and took hold of the reins. "Let's go."
The horse carried him through the murky fir forest and into the open fields lit by the kaleidoscopic light of the six moons. In the distance, the glow of Dargamoore City cut through the fog.
Alucard made the horse move faster across the farmland, following the dirt roads until he reached Dargamoore's black iron gates. That was where he dismounted and escorted the beast over to a tavern. He hitched the stallion and took the bloody sack from the saddle.
"Vait 'ere," he said and then headed inside.
The place reeked of beer, cigarettes, and piss. It was a place he'd only ever visit if he had no other choice, and in this case, he didn't.
Alucard approached the bar and reached into the sack. He pulled the werewolf's head out by its muzzle and slammed it on the bar, ensuring that the collision splashed blood in every direction, which sent two patrons running, made another retch, and the bartender dropped the glass he was cleaning in startlement.
"Zhere you go." Alucard patted the wolf's head. "I even brought you zhe 'ead so you can put up zhere vith zhe vest of zhem." He nodded at the display of taxidermy wall mounts behind the bar.
The bartender snapped out of his state of stupor and shook his head. "Are you fucking serious?"
He chucked the bloody sack at the man's face. "You vanted zhe fucking ving."
"Not literally!" he exclaimed.
Alucard reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of crumpled paper. He laid it flat on the bar and pointed to the words as he read, "Vanted, dead and 'ead severed. Is not to your satisvaction?"
With an irritated grunt, the man turned around and went into the room behind the bar while muttering, "Fucking psycho."
Alucard waited, ignoring the murmurs among the crowd—murmurs which he heard whenever he walked these streets. 'Vampire freak' and 'undead monster' were just two of those things. He was used to the berating stares, too...but he wasn't familiar with the look he was getting from the man sitting in the far-right corner.
He didn't recognize the guy, but he evidently wasn't from around here. He was wearing an expensive suit, his dark hair was combed back over his head, and although his eyes were black, Alucard noticed a red shimmer when the light hit them. And his sulphur-like scent was hard to miss.
That man was a demon; Alucard could feel the creature's power like a bitter breeze in the night's air. He didn't like the smirk on his face, nor did he like the fact that his eyes were looking him up and down as though he was sizing up his next meal.
"Here," the bartender uttered.
Alucard snatched the coin pouch from the bartender without a word and headed for the door.
"Hey!" the bartender called. "You're just gonna leave this here?!"
Without answering, he left the tavern and headed to his horse. His job was done, and all he wanted to do was finish his patrol of the surrounding woods and get home before daylight. He'd had enough human interaction for one night.
But just as he was about to get on his horse—
"Excuse me," came a smooth, silvery voice. "Sorry to interrupt whatever it is that you're doing, but are you Alucard?"
Alucard let go of the saddle and turned to face whoever said the name very few knew him by, and when he saw that it was the demon who smirked at him inside the tavern, he scowled. "Who's asking?" he questioned cautiously.
The demon held out his hand, which possessed claws in place of his nails. "Zalith. I assume Damien told you about me?"
That was how he knew his name. Damien told him, but despite that this demon knew Damien, Alucard wanted nothing to do with him. "No, 'e zidn't," he replied, ignoring his hand.
Zalith lowered his hand and frowned. "Well, in that case, I suppose he's expecting me to fill you in. I've come from Eltaria to meet you and discuss a relocation mission involving the vampires of my world. He mentioned that you're the Lord of the Nosferatu—the vampire society—right?"
The vampire looked him up and down. "I zon't vork vith ozzer people and I never 'ave. Zamien vouldn't suddenly change zhat." He climbed up on his horse.
"Well, it would seem that he had a change of heart," Zalith said, glaring up at him. "I'm frankly a little surprised that he hasn't said anything to you yet."
"If zhis vere true, 'e vould 'ave said someving." He made his horse turn towards the city gates. "Good luck vith your vampire mission." Then, he headed for the exit.
The demon walked at the horse's side. "Can't you take my word for it and reach out to him to make sure?"
Alucard glanced down at him. "No." And once he was past the gates, he tapped the horse's side and took off, racing away from the city and Zalith.
"Lives are at stake!" Zalith called.
He wouldn't tell himself that he didn't care; whenever vampires were involved, he couldn't help but care. But what he didn't care about was that demon, and he wasn't interested in working with him. If there really was a mission involving vampires, then he'd do it alone, just as he'd always done things.
As he rode towards the forest, Alucard reached into his pocket and pulled out one of his colts. He ensured the barrel was loaded with silver rounds, reloading those he used fighting the werewolves. He wasn't sure whether he'd come across more tonight, but he was ready either way.
When he reached the tree line, he climbed off his horse. But as he was about to head into the murky woods, a cold shiver ran down his spine, and the scent of ash and sulphur snatched his attention.
With a quiet whoosh and crinkle of the leaves in the grass, something landed behind Alucard.
He wasn't afraid, though; he knew who had come.
"He wants to see you," came a cold, slithering voice.
Alucard turned to face the faceless spectre hiding under draping black robes. "Vhere?"
"Eltaria. Five minutes."
With a heavy sigh, Alucard nodded.
The spectre wordlessly transformed into a whisp of black smoke and raced off.
"You can 'ead 'ome," he told the stallion. "Somevone vill put you in zhe stables."
The possessed beast grunted and headed back home.
Alucard had five minutes to get to Eltaria and he'd not risk being late. So, he morphed into a vermillion smoke-like apparition and, much like the faceless wraith, he sped up and through the sky.
He moved quicker than any creature could, flying over the farmland and the dark sea, heading towards the island in the distance. When he landed on the black rock, he was greeted by the endless rainfall and rhythmic cracks of thunder.
As he made his way towards the darkness-filled archway sitting a few feet from the water's edge, he glanced at the skyfish and watched them swim around inside the storm. He wasn't sure why he was being summoned to another world so late, but considering what happened in Dargamoore, he felt it was safe to assume that it had something to do with that demon. Was he going to have to work with someone else? And not just anyone, but a demon? He snarled quietly and clenched his fists.
There was only one way he'd find out.
The moment he reached the archway, he walked through the darkness and emerged on the other side, finding himself in the gloomy, eroded hall of an old castle. The damp smell was disgusting and burned the insides of his nose. Vines had twisted their way through the crumbling white brick, which was covered with leaf litter and dried dirt.
It wasn't that which made him grimace, though. A sudden ache spiralled through his head and throbbed behind his eyes. Could this pain be a result of his transition through worlds?
He pulled a small steel flask from his pocket. As he made his way down the hallway, he unscrewed the lid and took a sip of the blood that was inside. He hoped that it would help with this pain just as it helped with any other. And to his relief, it did.
The hallway took him to a staircase, and while he climbed it, he glanced at the silvery moon out through the windows. What kind of pathetic little world possessed one moon?
Once he reached the top of the tower, he saw that he was alone, so he wandered to the edge and stared at the world below. The empty grassland went on as far as his eyes could see, as did the forest on the other side.
Alucard's attention was snatched by approaching footsteps, but he didn't bother turning to face whoever walked onto the tower. He knew it wasn't his boss. But when he noticed that their aura wasn't human or vampire, he scowled irritably. It was the aura of a demon...and one he'd felt before.
He glanced over his shoulder and saw him. Zalith, the demon who approached him outside the tavern. His dark eyes shimmered crimson while he looked Alucard up and down, and as he approached, a pleasant smile appeared on his face.
"Hello again," Zalith said with a quiet laugh.
The vampire scowled at him. "Vhat are you doing 'ere?" he asked, but he was already sure that he knew the answer.
"I'm here to meet with Damien, which I'm sure isn't far off from what you're doing here yourself."
His scowl thickened, but angst accompanied his aggravation. If Damien had sent Zalith to meet him in Dargamoore, then he was certain that he was about to receive an earful. But it wasn't his fault. He'd worked solo for four hundred years. Why would his boss suddenly change that without warning him?
He wouldn't have time to reply even if he wanted to. The sound of incoming wings made them both turn to face the east; a feather-winged man flew over the forest, breaking through the clouds above, and it sent fear spiralling down Alucard's spine.
Damien was coming.
Zalith moved closer to him, but much too close for Alucard's comfort, so as Damien soared down and landed on the tower, Alucard took a few steps away from Zalith.
With a condescending glower, Damien folded his dark, purple-tinted wings against his back. His perfectly centre-split black and white hair floated in the breeze, and his four charcoal-black, foot-tall horns shimmered in the moonlight. "You found your way here, then," he said, shifting his red and blue eyes from Alucard to Zalith.
They bowed respectfully; Damien wasn't only Alucard's boss, but also a demon god.
Damien smiled amusedly. "I'm surprised you haven't torn each other apart—disappointed, even," he said, walking to the edge of the tower where Alucard had been standing. He leaned against the wall and glared at them.
Alucard frowned cautiously, trying his best to remain calm. "You...sent zhis zemon to vind me in Dor-Sanguis, vight? Vorgive me, but I 'ave vorked alone vor vour 'undred years; I zidn't vink zhat vhat 'e vas telling me vas true."
His boss held out his hand, and as he did, Alucard flinched. He expected Damien to scold him, but the man instead scoffed and pointed at him with his black claw-tipped finger.
Damien told him, "You upset one of my favourite demons."
Alucard kept his eyes on him. "I'm sorry."
Damien's sights shifted to Zalith. "Do you accept his apology?"
"Of course I do," Zalith replied.
Alucard didn't have to look at Zalith to know he was smirking. He could hear it in his voice. But he kept a vacant expression, waiting for Damien to continue.
Damien said, "Good. Now, I have a job for the two of you."
Zalith and Alucard glanced at one another. While Zalith looked skeptical, Alucard adorned a confused frown.
The demon took his eyes off Alucard and looked at Damien. "I assume this is related to the cause. The child?"
"Of course," Damien said with a shrug.
Alucard's look of confusion thickened. Cause? Child? "Vhat cause?"
Zalith rolled his eyes.
The vampire scowled irritably—
"One day, we will initiate the creation of another Daegelus," Damien announced. "You are aware of my plan to overthrow my brother, and the best way to do so is to fill his world with creatures not of his creation. It just so happens that Zalith possesses what I need, and I possess what he needs," he said, slowly shifting his gaze from Zalith to Alucard.
"Well, you are the Nosferatu's leader. You are the only one with the resources to assist Zalith."
Alucard didn't want to help Zalith—he barely knew him—and in the short time they'd interacted, he was sure he was going to hate him. He wanted to ask Damien why he should help this demon, but he knew better than to question his wishes.
"A war has broken out in this land," Damien continued, nodding over his shoulder at the world below, "and it has endangered vampires. Zalith wishes to save them, and the only other realm that can harbour vampire ethos is Alvenguard. You will assist Zalith in transporting his vampires to your world since your aura will mask theirs from Letholdus' detection."
Zalith looked at Alucard. "We must begin momentarily," he said with the same supercilious tone in his voice as Damien.
The vampire scowled irritably. He hated that they were both talking to him like he was incapable; if the circumstances were different, he would have hit this demon by now, but he had to contain his frustration. "I vould like to know more about zhis plan bevore vushing in like a moron. Vhat are zhe visks?" he asked, looking over at Damien.
"If Letholdus finds out, I'm sure he'll kill you. But that wouldn't be such a tremendous loss, would it?" Damien uttered.
Alucard tried to keep an embarrassed frown off his face, but he struggled when he saw Zalith smirk amusedly.
Damien continued, "Letholdus is aware of your existence, so I'm confident that he'll think nothing of you travelling back and forth from Eltaria."
"It's a simple plan," Zalith said, glancing at Alucard.
Alucard glared at the demon. "Vhy do you care so much about vampires? You are zemon; ve are natural enemies."
"I owe it to them," Zalith answered. "They remained loyal throughout the war, and their numbers are withering. Those who remain deserve to survive, and I want to find a safe place for them until I can make everything right."
Alucard had no choice but to do what Damien said, but he wasn't finished with his questions. "You never 'ave me 'elp anyvone vithout zhem giving me someving in veturn. Vhat vill zhat be?" he asked Damien.
"Zalith will play a part in creating a bond between two people who will one day save your life," Damien grumbled. "Your father is still after you; you are only safe because I am keeping you hidden. Perhaps Zalith will play a part in your father's demise. Or perhaps...something else that causes your life to be in danger. That wouldn't surprise me. You often get yourself wrapped up in things I'd rather not deal with."
Alucard looked at Zalith, ignoring Damien's derogatory speech. "And you are on board vith zhis?"
"I am. But if you need more time to understand, please...it's not like we're in a rush," he uttered sarcastically.
With a vexed frown, Alucard set his sights on Damien. "Who are zhese two people?"
Damien shrugged. "You'll know when you see them, I'm sure. And when they come, I'll be rid of you at long last."
A chance to be free of Damien? That sounded so relieving—so relieving that Alucard required no further convincing. But having to work with someone would be frustrating, especially when that someone was a demon. However, if completing this task would give him freedom from Damien, then he'd put up with Zalith.
"Vine," the vampire muttered, holding his hand out to Zalith. "Let's start again."
Zalith smirked and shook his hand. "I look forward to working with you."
Alucard knew that was a lie. "Likevise."
Damien sighed deeply. "You'll remain here until you discuss a plan. I want all those vampires in Alvenguard by this time next year. If Letholdus catches on, you're on your own," he muttered, pointing at Alucard. He glared at Zalith. "And you...be careful. If you lay a hand on him, I'll cut it off—permanently." Then, he aggressively flapped his wings and raced up into the sky, disappearing through the clouds.
Alucard snarled. "Dracului...arrogant...fuck."
The vampire caught a smile of amusement leaving Zalith's face when he looked at him, but before he could tell him to stop smiling, the demon adorned a firm glare.
Zalith told him, "There are one hundred and fifteen vampires. We'll meet here before each transferal; Damien may have given us a year, but I need them moved as soon as possible—over the course of a month would be preferable."
Alucard frowned disapprovingly. "Ve vere given a year, and I can only take vifteen a time at most. I vill also begin no earlier zhan tomorrow; I 'ave someving to clear up bevore I start bringing vampires 'ome. Vhether zhat is okay vith you or not, I'm now leaving."
Zalith sighed tiredly. "He left us here to discuss a plan."
"Zhere is noving more to discuss."
The demon scoffed. "Logistics, meeting places, plans for if things go wrong. I'd like to know more about this Nosferatu, too. Unless, of course, you'd rather play things by ear and deal with the repercussions of fucking up Damien's orders."
Glaring at him, Alucard clenched his fist. "Zon't talk to me as if I zon't know vhat I'm doing. I've vorked vor Zamien all my life. I zon't need to stand avound discussing anyving vith you. Ve vill meet 'ere, I vill take back vampires, and zhat's all. If zhere is anyving to discuss, ve vill do so only vhen I'm 'ere."
Zalith frowned condescendingly and slowly shook his head. "When Damien told me he had an answer for my problems, I didn't expect to be lumbered with such an arrogant fool."
Alucard scoffed, looking him up and down. "I could say zhe same ving." Then, he headed for the stairs. Zalith didn't say anything else, nor did he follow, and Alucard was glad. If that insufferable ass said one more thing, he was sure he would have broken his jaw.
He didn't understand why he had to work with a demon, but it was Damien's order, and he knew that if he didn't do as that creature asked, he'd be the one with the broken jaw...or worse.
With an irritated sigh, he made his way downstairs and towards the portal. This was the strangest assignment he'd been given, but there was no point questioning it. Damien wanted to undermine Letholdus by bringing outside ethos into Alvenguard, and he was certain that this was going to be his first of many missions involving that goal.
Nosferatu chapter 1: Text
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