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knightforce
September 17th, 2010, 01:04 AM
Mist rolled through the forest, the night sky was pitch black and filled with swirling, white clouds. The autumn moon burned through them, looking down in its full, silvery brilliance upon the crooked, barren, swaying trees and the ruins of the ancient mansion that lay at their outskirts. The howls of wolves fought to be heard over those of the howls and hisses of the wind. Bats lined the branches of the trees, their red eyes watching, waiting.

I was an old man, overwhelmed and out of options. I was not a brave man or a man of action, and when the malignancy had first reared its head, I could not find even the strength to pray that it was false, or that it would fade away, or move on. Somehow, in my weak heart, I sensed that those wicked shadows, those shadows that spread ever so swiftly, like an abysmal rumor that only the most saintly amongst us might turn deaf ear to, hated the prayers of men and the men who prayed. I feared the shadows, so my lips and even my heart remained silent. I saw our young men, once living, breathing and full of hesitations stride fearless through our main road, their faces clear of even the slightest scrape or blemish, unburdened of even a hint of mercy. I saw those same faces twist, as they looked up to the night sky, like a pagan people shouting up to their dark gods. Their eyes became red beacons, their nostrils flared with lupine fury and of all that fell before their ripping claws and dagger-like teeth, only some died. Frozen with fear, we could only watch as many more rose up from their destruction to walk beside the leaving shadows that had torn them down.

From that bottomless, black abyss that is mankind’s imagination, the shadows had climbed; living, walking and slaying incarnations of our oldest nightmares. Waking up, reminding yourself that it wasn’t real, the old defenses had been rendered futile.

I knew they were but charlatans when I called them to the task, pretenders in the garb of warriors, acting out a familiar fantasy, sometimes merely to amuse their patrons, sometimes to assuage their fears. They claimed to be the children of the dark predators they alleged to hunt, the power to destroy their parents being theirs alone. Their role was that of knights in shining armor, slaying the dragon, acting out the fairy tale for a fee.

They emptied out from their van, to stand before the crumbling house that towered before them. Leather jackets were worn over presumably silver chainmail shirts and the sign of that impotent cross was imprinted proudly upon their chests. In their manner and in their garb, they were chock-full of the bravado of make-believe.

I had entertained some sort of child’s hope that they could have fixed our problem, though the adult in me knew full well of their charade and their impotence against the reality of the dark plague sweeping over our town. And yet, as I saw them swagger confidently towards that bent, rickety house, the naivety of the story they represented stood in stark relief to all that my eyes had been forced to bear witness to. The icy grip was too strong to break, the gaze impossible to turn away from, the ivory fangs inevitable. They had never been beaten back, never been slain, their gleaming red eyes told the story of a race that had never known the necessity of fear. Whatever surviving, hidden remnants of faith remained in my old heart fled then and there; how could a merciful God allow such horrors to ravage the people He loved? Realizing the horror I had dragged them to, and the symbolic victory I had handed those dark ones who persecuted us, I ran after them, faltering in my knees, reaching out to them, plaintively calling out.

My voice cracked, unable to manage words. And yet, the blackest of blessings followed, doing the service more eloquently and forceful than any words I might muster.
Mist rolled before the charlatan slayers and when it parted, the space that lay between them and the mansion was no longer emptied; a field of wooden stakes now inhabited it, and staring back at them, atop each one, was a human head.

Their advance froze then, as they joined me in the revelation of inevitable, merciless domination. A tall, reddish hued one amongst them took the time to run a hand through his long black hair and fix the crucifix about his neck, while another, a diminutive man unhurriedly removed his sunglasses to look the house up and down with his thin, sleek eyes. Their leader cracked his knuckles as he stood at their fore, then reached behind his back to bring out a claymore sword from its sheath. Next to him, a slender, youthful one followed his lead, his long brown fingers drawing out a thinner, Eastern sword. Struck dumb, perhaps, by the cold steel of reality that had struck them, they knew nothing else but to continue their charade to its bitter end.

Then, the girl emerged. Her dress tattered, small, tiny claw marks decorating her tiny body. She advanced lightly towards the men who were larger than her, powerfully built and who could crumple before her as easily as a single she of paper is torn apart and discarded.

“Turn back now, while our hunger slumbers. There is silver or garlic to protect you, no God to save you. Beneath that sun, we are like invincible.”

Through the field of impaled faces, through the swirling mists, the charlatans continued forward. Their steps were short, their advance slow. The girl stepped forward a few paces, then stopped, arms dangling idly at the side of her hips. The darkness swirled behind her and took a pale, hulking form of a man. Above the hateful gaze of his crimson eyes, the parting of his slick, oily hair revealed the emblem of a cross pointed downward. Hissing between his fangs, he crept forward. Behind him, two more men rose up from the shadows. The charlatans continued their advance, though slower than before. Their leader’s mouth was open, though not gaping. As one of the creatures massaged an impaled head with his clawed hands, his eyes opened up and his brow rose. One of the men flanking him produced a battle axe as wide as his shoulders. His muscles bulged, stretching the leather of his jacket, strained to carry the weapon. Perhaps he’d never had to think about easily wielding his weapon until this moment, with only an invisible concept to proclaim victory over. The full moon reflected off the face of his blade, illuminated his black skin and unblinking eyes. Another creature grabbed up one of the stakes and bit into the head atop it, his fangs penetrating deep into the lifeless skull. With a toss of his head, he’d ripped the top of the dead man’s head off, whereupon he began to eat his brains.

With the last vestiges of strength left within my old bones, I finally managed to speak.

“These creatures, they’re real….this is no prank, no charade…they are the undead…and they cannot be stopped! Run…though it was I who summoned you, run while you can…before they are again in the grip of their unholy hunger…run! Your crucifix cannot halt them…God has deserted us in the face of their march…”

The diminutive member glanced back at me, before turning back towards the advancing shades. Their leader did not turn as he spoke to me.

“Wrong.”

“Flee now, mortal...flee now and salvage your life…that you might read yourself some more fairy tales…and in time, convince yourself that we were but a nightmare…perhaps luck will smile upon you, and I will not cross your path again.”

“You bought into the oldest fairytale of them all pal; the one that says you got know consequences to face…the one that says you’re gonna get away with it.”

The short, slant-eyed member leapt high into the air, a silver dagger in each hand. The axe wielder’s blade--that had formerly seemed so unwieldy and heavy--twirled like a baton in his hands as he rushed forward. The slender one with the thin blade exploded into a sprint, his sword arm dangling against the wind.
The leader himself did not rush. He did not move at all as the dark-haired shade who wore the inverted cross etched upon his forehead came after him. He did not twitch as the slavering jaws and clawed fingers sought his throat. No sooner had the cold, dead fingers clamped down about the leader than the beast recoiled with a scream. His hands were smoking. So too was the cross that hung around the leader’s neck. The leader’s claymore whistled as it sliced the night air and beheaded the vampire. His head rolled across the ground too fast to see what sort of expression his face carried, to see whether or not he had realized along with me on which side the fairytales lay.