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He rose. His two red eyes piercing the darkness around him. He snarled as he saw the human lamps in the distance. In the distance many of these lamps could be seen, as the darkness the strigoi conjured covered the once beautiful land like a carpet. The humans had no idea that the trap that would seal all of their fates was being exectued, none would be left alive.
The two ghouls rushed forwards, charging through the forest to the mens left flank. Any foliage was quickly dodged, with a eerie grace that no human could manage. The lamps flickered upon the forest, meaning the ghouls stayed silent, yet no less deadly and organized. They feared they're master, knowing he could find them if they didn't do his bidding. And those massive claws could rip them apart so easily...
The humans marched towards the hulking vampire, he didn't fear these men, the party sent to dispose of him was hardly prepared, torches and lamps the only source of light. He could disappear into the shadows instantly. Knowing he had the advatage he writhed in discomort as two wings erupted from is back, leaning back and opening his mouth he let out a blood curdeling roar. He then raced foward and took flight, ready to draw blood.
The ghouls in the woods knew the signal. The humans had stopped in shock as they're master roared. The nearest ghoul smiled menacingly, knowing his master wasn't the only one who would feast tonight. He crept forwards, eager to pounce, yet withheld his temptation to rush forwards like a well trained soldier. When the timing was right, he leapt forwards, screaming as his companions surged to join him. The humans, caught by suprise as they weren't expecting a flank attack, barely had enough time to raise a defence. They fell easily, the bodies lay still in the positions they died in, shocked expressions covering many faces. The humans near the centre raised wooden shields, and pointed out crude daggers. The ghouls still charged forwards, they're claws dancing in front of them, cleaving a path of carnage through the disoriantated militia of troops. soon the blood was dripping from bodies, making puddles of scarlet that shined even in the black.
The strigoi was making better progress than all of his minions combined. Still ariborne he conjured bolts of dark magic that sucked the souls, leaving corpses that showed no signs of death, even the eyes looked alive. Once he landed he began slicing his way, picking up one unlucky person by the neck,lifting them several metres off the ground before slicing off they're head and throwing them back into the dismay. Merging back into the shadows the strigoi then rose from the ground behind another soldier. Before burying his teeth into the soldiers neck. He sucked the corpses dry in seconds, but one raging man buried his weapon into the strigoi's neck. No blood came out like a reguler human, and the immunity to the wound the beast suffered made the man stare for a mere second, the last second he saw before becoming another corpse in the carnage. The wound the vampire suffered would have killed anything else alive in this place. But it was these strengths that made many creatures fear the strigoi, nothing else had that power.
The carnage ended shortly, several ghouls lay dead, weapons buried in their chests, or heads detatched from the owners body. However for every ghould that died, 10 humans died with them, the ghouls bringing down several times their own number.
The surviors gathered around the corpses, but the battle was far from over.
The darkness didn't just benfit the undead vampire. Had a little light been shed on the situation the strigoi would have seen the next foe coming.
As a large creature hit the sie of the vampire he was thrown several metres before slamming to the ground. A large clawed foot came down, crushing the lord of the night, breaking every bone in his body, twisting his limbs and compressing his organs. The strigoi let out a night-peircing cry, before closing his eyes and letting his head roll back. The hippogriff let out a shriek, knowing it had killed the vampire.
The rider of the hippogriff was a bold character, a long flowing mane of jet black hair slid down his neck, while his armour could be seen even in the dim light. Two blue eyes leered out at the ghouls, who wimpered and shaked. knowing they're master was dead. The hippogriff flung itself forwards, snapping a ghould in half with its strong beak, and breaking anothers back as it kicked out with its rear leg. The ghouls stumbled back, all hope was lost for the survivors. The beast slowly paced forwards, teasing the fate of the inevitable massacere.
Suddenly. behind the beast there was a loud growl, and two eyes could be seen leering from just above the riders head. The colour, and arrogance immediately drained from his face, as he was snatched of his steed, neck broken and fluids drained by the figure. The hippogriff turned around, seeing the creature that it had just crushed earlier flying behind it with its master in hand.
Rage filled the bird creature, if it could kill this monstrosity of nature then its master's death would be avenged. However the hippogiff didn't have the element of suprise this time, only snatching at the beasts arm, clipping off a chunk off muscle. The large chunk slowly grew back, as the strigoi let out another growl. Flying forwards the strigoi knocked the beast over, then he proceeded to gently fly to the ground, striding forwards. Look at the creatures legs he took one in his grasp with one hand, holding of the beasts snapping jaws with the other. Slowly he bent the legs untill a large crunch of bone could be heard.
"Feast boys", the ghouls approached, sniggering and laughing, as they knew the tables were turned.
Blood dripped from the fangs of the strigoi as it finished draining the hippogriff corpse. He felt invigorated, the strength of the hipporgriff felt like it had ebbed into his system. Since he had sucked out the livleyhood of the beast this was probably true.
The ghouls tittered manically as they merged back into the forest like shadows. The strigoi vampire looked into the black sky. Then down at the creatures lying dead all around. He remembered a time when he was just like them. Not craving blood, not scouring the forests for a fresh victim to satisfy his unnatural thirst. The moment lasted for mear seconds however, and the strigoi to slunk back into the woods, ready for a long rest.
300 years later...
The forest had changed much since the strigoi closed his weary eyelids. Many human raiding parties had been sent in to clear out the forest, and put to the sword any ghouls that were weak without they're leader. The screams of dying men echoing though the cold night. The three hundred years were tough on the few ghouls already inhabiting the woods. They hid in dank caves, no journey was safe for them anymore and every journey for food was a desperate attempt to stay alive. The ghouls spoke in dark tounges of the legendary vampire who saved them long ago and would eventually liberate them again against the men of the empire. Although regular men regard vampires as evil, menacing creatures , which in all respects are true, to the ghouls they were like demigods, bringing hope and courage during even the bleakest times.
In a dark cavern the ghoul finished scraping the picture of the vamprie onto the wall. His sharp claws now blunt and brittle. He leered at the other ghouls around him, who regarded him as insane even for a ghoul. He certainly looked it with his grey hair sticking out in random places, his grey skin all wrinkled and saggy. he loud growl could be heard from his bow string-thin stomach. He hadn't fed for 1 week to complete his picture on the cave wall, and he had started to feel the pain. He grunted, and left the cave, using the cover of darkness to aid him. Silence, it was eerie. Even more eerie than the screams and moans from the dying ghouls. Not complaining the ghoul stumbled forward.
Suddenly from the darkness many feet could be heard marching towards him. The ghould dived against a nearby tree, back flat against the bark. He held his breath, knowing a single noise could spell the end. One man past, two men past, three men past. The few seconds seemed like years. As the men passes he heaved a great breath, then hurried on. The men had diverted him from the usual course he would have taken, but the risk of treading that path was too much to attempt.
Brushing past the last bush the ghoul came to a clearing. This was a graveyard alright, the many mismatch graves were strewn all over the place, dusty from where nobody had been here for....ages. In the centre though there was a larger grave, seemingly more significant than anything else in the yard. If he could get into the tomb, the ghoul would feast like a king. He heaved away at the lid, but he was blasted away by a gush of dark energy. The ghoul coudn't move. He could only just see the dark shadow come out of the crypt, it formed into the shape of a bat, before lunging forwards with dark teeth, sinking them into the ghouls neck. The first scream of the night echoed through the wood. However thiis was followed through by a loud roar.
For the first time in 300 years, the strigoi was awake.
He gazed around...
The vampire had been asleep for a long time, he knew that, but to be awakened so suddenly made the vampire angry. He had fresh blood coarsing through his veins, that ghould now lay crippled in a heap at his feet. He looked down at his claws...blooded and sharp. Time to use them again.
The roar had shocked everything in the woods. Men, eager to slay ghouls again, now paused, knowing what had made the roar. Fear filled the men again, while courage filled the ghouls. Even without his supreme presence the ghouls stilled were imbued with bravery....the few fightin back suddenly filled with rage and lay upon the humans with a ferocious lust. Several were killed, but for the first time in a long while, human blood spattered the ground. Speckled, dripping or flowing, the colouful red blood was now in several places in the woods, as the ghouls rose in rebellion against their tormentors...plunging sharpened teeth into armoured neck, swiping at mailed chests, kicking downed corpses and surging forwards tittering manically...
The stirgoi hadn't taken long to find fresh prey. He now moved with an eerie grace, almost prancing from one soldier to the other, decapitating, drying the corpse and moving to the next. Each warrior was encountere, killed and sucked dry by the strigoi all in about 2 seconds. After the first group were drained, the strigoi held his arms out...His sides became hazy and dark...before he became a shadow and hit the ground, then with immense speed he raced through the woods.
The next man, walking alone was the next to encouter the marauding shadow, completly oblivious to the great beast circling him, he carried on walking. The strigoi slowly reformed physically behind him, lurching behind him fangs out and ready. His red eyes pulsing with anger, the next scream of the night quickly followed...
In the nearby village word had escaped the vampire was free, panic had spread rapidly. The village itself was right next to the wood, and was only built recently, on the sure knowledge that the vampire was gone. Some people refused to flee, either to take up weapons, or to stay in their homes as many didn't believe the rumours of the vampire. The few to take up arms were few in number, only 40 or 50...the hordes of the forest seemes endless. Hundreds of years ago the very same vampire would feed on the villagers ancestors, friends relatives. This had driven many from the village to the nearby town of Tyriton.
The strigoi had been found by several groups and had begun to form a huddle around him. His dark words obeyed, and understood, by every ghould around. They knew this single figure was their only hope. He stood twice as tall as any ghoul, even with his back hunched. His teeth longer than a ghould hand. A thousand years had seen this fledgling vampire blossom into the king of the wood, feared by all, respected by all, worshipped by all, even those who didn't care to admit it...
Towers had been manned, entrances to the village guarded, carts loaded up, and arrows set in their quivers. The 40 or so men wasn't enough to hold off the vampire himself, let alone the vast army he could summon around him. However this force was promised to be reinforced. Tyriton had many elite warriors, and messengers had sent reports of vast numbers of heavily armed warriors marching towards the village to help. What had begun as a mission to simply buy some time, now had hope, and could possibly be a victory.
A ghoul had reached the edge of the woods, and was peering out carefully, inspecting the village. In the centre, just visible, was a statue of a great Hippogirff, with rider in a heroic position with dead ghouls surrounding it. A moment in time capture in stone, bits chipped of and fading. However little did the humans know what was next in that scene of victory...Ignorant fools...
The ghoul let out a low pitch whistle, barely detectable to human ears, yet clear as a scream to the ghouls. Several ghouls leaped out of the foliage and charged towards the village, yelling insults and waving their arms in a frenzied manner. A volley of arrows was let loose, and the ghouls fell to the ground, arrows shafts protruding from their chests. Only a few carried on their adavnce, only to be shot down again by the next volley. A second wave emerged, bigger this time, at the next whistle. Racing forwards to the village, again many were shot down, but this time about 20 managed to get into the village.
They killed everything, cattle, pigs, sheep, and humans. The burst into houses, blooded and frenzied, tearing at inhabitants and carrying off screaming children. Many were beaten to death with rolling pins, saucepans, or any household object that could be used as a weapon. The second wave was quick, but bloody and did much damage.
Then the strigoi appeared in the village, his vast wings spread wide around him, stretching out, as if they touched the edges of the earth. He landed, and snarled, all the neaby towns guard drew their weapons, fear gripping their hearts. The strigoi didn't even move, taking to arrows into him from the nearest watchtower. One hitting the neck, and the other the lower leg. Slowly he removed both, and snapped them in half.
The next move caught everyone by surprise, the strigoi waved his hand in the air, uttering aracne words. A black bolt erputed from his finger tips blowing the tower to bits, he spun around and unleashed the same devastation on the other tower. Following on from this destruction he plunged his hand into the ground, ripping up the soil and roaring. Several hands erupted from the ground, the strigoi cackling, took off and flew further down the road.
Several zombies emerged from the ground, groaning and leering as they lurched towards the militia. Green flesh hung is, while some beared claw marks brutally etched onto their chests like a painting. Many came from near the soldier, grabbing at their legs, dragging them to the floor before feasting. Other zombies were cut to bits, their stale blood staining the ground a grey, red colour.
Withing minutes the whole town was erupting with the foul constructs. Thr bodies of the recnetly killed, suddenly waking up, with evil intent in their eyes to kill loved ones. They lurched towards the surviving troops, hands oustretched ready to choke and grip.
Then when the zombies came within grabbing distance a horn was sounded on the horizon.
Tyriton had kept its promise, the cavalry were here...
The scene was set. The moon shone down in a thin beam on the village. No living thing occupied the cluster of houses, everything was dead, yet still moving. The clouds had formed into faces of terror, of pain and fear. Dying men and women could be seen simply by lifting ones head at an angle. Everything was silent, the Tyriton troops had been waiting for a long time. The general knew that timing was critical with the undead. Everything had to go perfectly for the humans, or they would fail.
Despite first glances, the undead army was more organized than the humans. The ghouls has neatly placed themselves on the flanks, motionless incase the humans saw. A false movement could result in another 5 hour wait on both sides, so the ghouls didn't risk even breathing heavily. Just in case. Also zombies and skeletons moved into positions silently, preparing weapons and lowring spears.
The tyriton troops were mainly mounted. Their horses excelled in hit and run attacks, Tyriton itself was well known for its hit and runs, not for toe to toe combat. The strigoi had no worries, he hovered above the village surveying the landscape and sending ghouls off to tactical positions. Veteran of a thousand battles, with more experience than any human general, against an army of lightly armoured cavalry with barely enough weaponry to fend of a couple of wolves. This would be easy.
The wait was agonising, for both sides. The general knew the undead and his troops grew tiresome of this, and after some persuasion from his captians, decided to charge in. The whole plan of waiting for the perfect moment was crushed by human impatience.
The sounds of several hundred hooves suddenly thundering into action could be heard. Like a great storm surging down the hill, the undead braced the line under the power of the strigoi, and as the cavarly hit, it was clear the undead would win for the cavalry made no mark on the undead, no noticable source of pain to the living breatihng dead host. Rather ironic really.
The light weapons of the horsemen couldn't break through skeletal shields, or deal enough damage to finally put undead souls to rest. Skeltons jabbed back with spears and swords, bringing rider from mount in a delecate swipe. The undead were filled with an unnatural grace and elegance that night.
As their age old tactics predicted, the Tyriton troops fled, ready for another hit and run. Yet this time there was a vital flaw in the ancient tactic. As the cavalry fled, the undead sprung forwards, seeminlgy under a spell that gave them unholy speed. More men were cut from saddles as the undead pursued like a viper. Only about 50 of the original 600 made it out of the initial charge, including the general. The captains who had convinced the general to charge all lay dead or dying on the floor.
The strigoi spoke to the few human survivors, in a great booming voice halfway between a roar and someone whispering in your ear
"You have shown me your thunder, now let me show you mine!"
The strigoi raised his arms, and roared. The ghouls leapt from their positions and encircled the survivors, slowly pacing towards them with huge grins on their bloodstained faces. Many carried the crude spears the humans had, showing these ghouls hadn't only just joined the battle.
However from the forest the could be heard what sounded like thousands of leathery drumbeats. No, millions of leathery drumbeats, and it was getting louder, and louder, and louder. Sqeaks and groans as the thunder drew closer. The humans terrified as to what was going to happen all turned their horses, only to find no escape. The undead plan had been exectued perfectly.
Suddenly from the forest erupted millions of bats. They descended like vultures, squealing and screeching as the wingbeat noise grew to that of unbearable. Humans had no defence, the bats were simply too small to swipe, and wriggled into every nook and cranny to bite and suck exposed flesh.
The survivors were gone in minutes. The passage to Tyrtion was left wide open for the strigoi. The undead army began to march.
"Lets do this..." snarled the leader, the killer, the destroyer, the everliving, the vampire.