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Fire and Blood

Discussion in 'Tales from the Crypt' started by vg11k, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Allright. With some help of the wonderful tool https://www.deepl.com/translator, i throw myself in an english version of my stories. Before i begin, i'll warn you about 3 points :
    - As i told you in my introduction i'm not a very good english speaker. So even with the help of deepl i guess many speaking mistakes will appear. Please feel free to highlight them if it peel your eyes, but in PM and i'll correct them as soon as possible : i wish not to get a topic full of english lesson...
    - This story is a long one with many chapters and it's still in writing. They all are already shared in french on your neighbor the whcv forum and on my personal blog . And it's currently divided in 3 acts. This one is the second : the most recent and better written in my opinion. The first is the Lahmia events where my characters met vampires for the first time before becoming night children themselves.
    - I am not 100% lore friendly since i took some liberties in my firsts writings (by choice or by lack of knowledge) and choose to keep them as it is. For example, my Abhorash was not a asshole killer and lover of the queen but the proud Lahmia's general who was fighting this new threat without knowing it was his own high-class he was hunting. And i add to the vampire a common power of the Masquerade universe : when a vampire drink blood he stole few memories and a bit of power. But this second isn't permanent and without practice, powers recently acquired will be lost.

    Soo i guess i said everything i wished before starting this. I'll not translate the whole story at once but one chapter after another, offering you some time to read it - and time for me to go on :-D

    Have a nice reading.


    Fire and Blood
    Introduction​



    The young woman, humming a cheerful air, attacked the ascent of the talus. Her blond hair wavered on her shoulders, seemingly accompanying the melody to the rhythm of her footsteps. She was walking barefoot in the grass. A light breeze blew and crept into her clothes, making her shiver. She tightened her thin white dress, but left her shoulders and long legs exposed to the rays of the setting sun. When she reached the top of the hill, she rotated, turning her back on the building.

    She smiled and looked at the landscape drawn before her eyes. The orange rays streaked the colored sky as the day drew to a end. The foliage appeared amber, extending from north to south. They were reflected in a long line of fire along the length of the river. And, a few kilometers to the west, the few towers of the city were looming, surpassing the tops of the oldest trees. The city's trade routes, whose only reason for its existence was its strategic position, were all far from this location. Nestling in the heart of the forest, Grissenwald allowed merchants from Nuln as well as those coming from the duchies to go either to the heart of the Empire or to the North, with its capital and its large ports. Grissenwald was a business node.

    But it wasn't this magnificent landscape or the geographical advantages of the city that made the young woman smile. She turned around and looked at the half-finished sculptures. Despite the passage of many winters, peoples could still be seen in line with a higher figure. Profile riders raised their banners high, as well as many sentences now illegible, which she did not think to decipher to any minute.

    Taking up her melody again in mid-voice, she entered the old building, which had no doors to prevent access. She went down a flight of steps and stopped at a rusty grill hanging on its hinges. With a distracted gesture, she pushed it aside in a sharp creak that disturbed several spiders who had woven their webs here. Then she came down the snail made to prevent access. Each of her steps raised scrolls of dust, blind insects quickly descending, disturbed by her passage. Without ceasing to hum her melody, she moved into the depths, now plunged into complete darkness. The steps became slippery and viscous under his feet, the wet wall covered with damp and nauseating foams. She perceived around her the regular sound of water drop bouncing on the stone, the squeaks of a few frightened rodents, as well as the increasingly heavy and motionless air of the underground. Plus the regular echo of her footsteps and her song.

    - If I tell you that she entered into it, said the tallest of the two boys.

    With his face covered with acne pimples, he smiled from all his teeth at his partner.

    - Look, to get her out, she had to go through there, we'll have fun! he encouraged him.

    The other laughed, while he was evoking his thoughts with a hip movement. The two teenagers were barely in their forties.

    - It's going to be dark in there, he pointed out, taking his seriousness back.

    - It's just one girl, said the other one. She'd have afraid in the dark alone, she's got to have a flashlight.

    - Yeah, but i don't want to go into the dark. Stay here, I'll get some branches, he said, showing him his lighter.

    A few minutes later, both entered the building in turn.

    - How many times do you say he did it, your brother?

    - Boarf a good ten. They love it, don't worry about it. And even if she says it in the city, as my brother says, there are dozens and dozens of kids.

    However, their confidence declined over the minutes. They came to the open gate, and wielded their torches over the staircase. The footprints were clearly visible here, drawn in the thick layer of dust.

    The smallest of the two shouted a sudden scream, which caused his friend to startle.

    - What's the matter? What is it?

    - A spider fell on me, he whined as he shook his hair with energy.

    The other mocked, before his laughter quickly ceased. He too was not reassured.

    - Come on, come on. We will show him what men are like, he tried to encourage his companion.

    The other one was pouting. They began their uncertain descent.

    - Why the hell did she come here for? said the smallest one shortly afterwards, finally breaking the silence of a trembling voice.

    The other one did not answer him. The knees trembling, they slowly descended, taking care not to slip on the irregular steps and covered with foam. Their torches drew moving shadows on the wall, covered with viscous drips whose origin it was better to ignore. The regular sound of the crashing drops could no longer mask their quicker breathing.

    - We'll go back upstairs to do it, won't we? he dared to ask.

    The other one nodded his head, swallowing his saliva. His forehead was damp with icy sweat.

    They both finally reached the foot of the snail's foot. The air reeked of mold and closed it. They waded in mud clinging to each of their steps, producing a suck sound as soon as they raised their feet. They exchanged a look before crossing a new gate. The girl's footprints, embedded in the earth between two puddles of cloudy liquid, continued past. The two thugs had now forgotten all ideas of rape, crushed by the gloomy atmosphere of the place.

    They nevertheless continued their underground advance.

    - My mommy's gonna scream again because I messed up my shoes...

    Contrary to his habit, the other one did not make fun of his companion. He had just noticed that if they continued their exploration too much, they would probably have to go back into the dark. Thought that didn't enchant him.

    - But where does that bitch go, he said quietly. And what does she do in a place like this?

    - What are we doing here? Bidding the least loudest in a high voice.

    They finally ended up in a circular room where dust flies, lit by two torches. This one overlooked three other dark corridors and filled with white canvases. Bodies stood between each of them, lying in alcoves embedded in the walls.

    - I want to go back up, I want to go back up, I want to go back up!

    - Wait, grumbled the tallest, attracted to the nearest corpse.

    With his mouth open, he leaned over the dead man, raising his torch, fascinated. The teenager would never have believed that a dead person could look like that. He had been lying there for so long, with his arm crossed over his chest, that the skin was nothing but dust where a few bugs were fleeing. The material with which he had been clothed was now confused with the cobwebs covering him. Its empty orbits scanned the stone from above, on which lay another parchment-like skeleton.

    A hiccup of his friend made him startle. He was about to cast a black look at her, when he heard the reason for it. The slow-pitch scrape came from the central hallway approaching. Both eyes were riveted in this direction, with the torches gradually decreasing. With each step, crackling sounded in the hallway, accompanied by rattling and metal creaking.

    Under their amazed eyes, a person who was stuck in a rust gnawed stitch cloth stepped forward with a dragging step. Illuminated by the torches, they realized their disregard. No globes were sitting in the creature's orbits. With each step, the fragile skin cracked on its prominent bones. With his jaw without lips and lifted off on one side, he shouted silently while pointing to them with a broken half-length sword.

    One guy stumbled back, unable to articulate the slightest word. His torch rolled in a puddle before it went out whistle-blowing. Petrified, the other felt his pants wet as the skeleton in armor advanced towards them like a puppet, failing to collapse at each step accompanied by a muddy suction. He lifted up his weapon held by a hand made only of bones and tendons, continuing to move forward. Terrified by this nightmare vision, he could not hear the tremors from the alcove where he was leaning against. Both of them only began to scream once they were plunged into the darkness.
     
  2. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    Excellent, excellent. Very few llanguage mistakes there. You did the atmosphere of going into a creepy dark place very well. Looking forward to more.
     
  3. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Thanks for your comment.
    I'm currently reading your story and the one from get's of W'soran. Both of you tell looongs stories ! Would be a pleasure to comment them once I've read everything.


    So, here the true first chapter.

    Fire and Blood
    Chapter 1​


    The wagon was moving calmly along the river. The team was not in a hurry to get the passengers talking to each other. Two young men stood in the front of the car, keeping an eye on the monotonous road. In the shadow of the tarpaulin at the back, an older, thicker man kept passing a rag over his gun with his heels touching the dust. After a while, he lifted her up above his head and gazed at her in a ray of light. The mighty war hammer sparkled. Satisfied, the man in bure delicately put it inside, at the feet of a fourth man. He looked at her with great respect, before turning to the blue sky at the end of the afternoon.

    Snoring was coming up from under the fourth man's imposing hat. Despite the fine weather of late autumn, he had kept his ample coat, his arms crossed, disappearing inside. The jolt of a bad stone shook the hammer which touched his thick studded boots. Crystalline tinnitus erupted from the crates on either side of the sleeper.

    - John is still sleeping, said the man cheerfully following the wagon.

    Raising his head, the bald priest gave him back his smile. Few things could pull John Grenaille out of his sleep. Few things have been omitted from its obligations, as both of them had already noted on numerous occasions. Rare were the men who had practiced his profession so long and so enthusiastically. John had been a repudiator since he was nine years old.

    - He can sleep after the life he made in Nuln! cried one of the soldiers, also walking behind him, at the head of the fortnight's head.

    The first one laughed and approved. John had animated one of the city's largest inns until after sunrise, seemingly tireless, always dancing, courting or singing. And yet he had achieved the impossible the day before. Without the man in the adventurer's hat, the twenty or so people in the procession would have perished in the sewers of the city. He was the one who had killed the master mutator, the abominations puffed up suddenly destabilized by the disappearance of their pack leader. The vermin would still have been a real scourge for merchants for a long time, piercing their cellars and seizing their possessions as well as their servants...

    Tristofan Tisseron wore a white and gold tabard, embroidered with scarlet flames attesting to his status. He was a magus of fire. His beard, constantly brownish, contrasted with the thick red hair that grew in disorder on his skull and sparkling green eyes. Her bare arms were covered with freckles, whose skin stuck to her muscles revealed her regular excess in magic manipulation. Nevertheless, he advanced vigorously among the soldiers, holding his stick firmly and firmly.

    They had now been warned of increasing disappearances in the city of Grissenwald two days ago. They immediately set off, flanked by Dave and Leon, the two apprentices of the repurgator, and accompanied by Brother Brandit. To them five they had already carried out more than fifteen interventions through the empire, relentlessly tracking down the servants of ruin, the Skavens or any other vermin.

    A little less than twenty soldiers followed, with their metal armour rattling as they walked. They had heard about their problems with the solved skavens at the same time as the Grissenwald incident group. They were delighted to learn that John had decided to visit the scene of the incident. But surprised that he told them that if the soldiers wanted his help, they would have to move at his own pace, which means at the speed of a mule. Preferring to count on his support, Corporal Rechald had given up their mounts. At least they didn't carry the majority of their food and sleeping accommodations, which were currently used as mattresses and pillows.


    *​


    With her eyes soaked in tears, she begged the individual to let her go. Her long, brown hair was glued to her cheeks and her naked body by croupy water. She suffocated for a moment. Her gag prevented her from stirring her jaw completely.

    Lying on the cold ground, she could only contemplate the other three women slowly bleeding to death. A bloody furrow was traced on each of their throats, yet they were still alive. The trachea and esophagus had not been severed. Nevertheless, they remained immobile, paralyzed by magic. She saw the creature leaning towards the nearest one, observing it carefully. He totally ignored the naked, slender body dripping with hemoglobin, and stretched a emaciated finger towards the bloody cut.

    The fourth woman shouted a stifled cry as he slipped his finger into the wound of his immobile victim, the skin waving as he stroked the inside of the flesh. Slowly he took it off and carried it to his lips. For a moment he seemed to study her taste like a winegrower of a great vintage, the vague glance. Slowly, a smile stretched over his light grey face, revealing his yellowish, prominent canines. Slowly he leaned over the poor woman whose gag had been removed. His crackled lips rested on those, red and fleshy, of the throat.

    She was a witness despite herself of this long kiss in the light of the torches. The fluids of the first three victims flowed on their kneeling bodies, criss-crossing between their breasts and dripping from their thighs in furrows dug into the stone. These formed a perfect circle in which the dark liquid flowed, before going into a central basin where it gradually accumulated. A crackling sound made the woman startle, fascinated by this morbid kiss. A horror thrill roamed her as she watched the creature straighten up. The woman turned forward, her gaze stuck in the survivor's eye while her paralyzed jaw remained wide open. A new flood of blood flowed through her thick broth as she tried to loosen her ties, screaming in spite of her gag.

    - There is no doubt that it is the tastiest of the three,"said the individual, chewing slowly. From the point of view of experience as well as nectar. And you, sweetheart, what do you have to offer me?

    He swallowed his victim's severed tongue by turning to the last woman still screaming. A big smile spread over his red smudged face.

    - As I wish I could read in the past, whispered the man as he contemplated the ceremony with an envious gaze. How pleasant it must be !

    - Master Scleras will soon give us his kiss, said the smiling blonde woman in a low voice.

    She still held the seal of water with which she had awakened the other brunette in her hand. Carefully tracking every move of the vampire, she leaned her head aside, calculating. How she admired the grace with which he manipulated the emotions of each of them.

    Castille herself had coated the dagger of her master with paralytic poison. She knew her effects perfectly well. The other three women were fully aware of what they were going through. Better still, she felt with increased perception every sound, every caress and every dash of pain. And yet, the substance forbade them from moving. They were no longer even able to blink eyelids to moisturize the apples in their eyes. Each had an open throat from which an irregular stream of hemoglobin came out, ejected by the painstaking beating of their hearts.

    At his side, Morisburg was fascinated. The envy was so powerful in his eyes that he could have illuminated the room. Entirely dressed in black cloth, his outfit contrasted with his neighbour's light white dress, whose bare feet were stained with clay. Where she was excited, the fabric bounced over her knees, he was totally motionless. As if he had cut himself on the dagger of Master Scleras. Dagger that drew a new scarlet line in a muffled cry.


    *​


    - You say that each of the forty-three missing were under the age of thirty-five? Leon asked Leon, observing carefully the innkeeper's expressions.

    Next to him, Dave wrote down every word on a notebook, his hand constantly moving.

    - Yup, even though the old Baster was found dead the day after his daughter disappeared, approved the man with the imposing belly.

    - Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary, a detail, an object that was not in its place, a wound, a missing jewel?

    - Well, everything was locked in their house and we didn't notice anything broken or missing, said the innkeeper, scratching his stomach and frowning. But old Baster... he had an expression...

    The man had a heart that did not escape the eye of the apprentice.

    - An expression...? he urged him to continue, Dave looking up from his notebook.

    It was as if the devil had taken his daughter away, he whispered quickly as he pressed his thumb against his forehead. I've never seen anyone with a face like that before, and yet I've seen some pretty good weirdos in twenty years in this hostel. But I'll tell you myself, he added, leaning towards a conspiratorial air. I'll tell you who killed him. It's not that hard to make wine. Old Baster... he's scared to death. Something that scared him so much that his heart gave out...

    The two boys exchanged an anxious gaze. His testimony concurred with that of a woman at the wash-house at the entrance to the city and a baker three alleyways further on, which was not reassuring...

    - I mean, Mr. Grenaille, couldn't it wait till morning? complained Simon, a local soldier. You've only been there two hours, and I'm going to...

    - Soon finish your service I know yes, cut the man with the hat, inspecting the door lock of the entrance door by the light of a torch. You'll tell the next victim's parents that.

    The man sighed. The repurgator had come to interrupt him at his post in the middle of dinner, posing a red mullet in his place. "You're from here," he argued. And he said that he was probably safer at his side than alone at the end of the bridge or in a prostitute's diaper. John came in and lifted his torch to inspect the room.

    - Did you move anything? he asked.

    - We pushed the table and a few chairs to get the body out of the old Baster, he says. Nothing good...

    - How many people came in ? cut John off.

    - Boarf, no more than ten.

    He kept quiet by quickly sweeping the room. There was nothing left to get out of this place.

    - You all went up to Baster and his daughter's rooms, I guess.

    - Uh, uh....

    - I see.

    They went upstairs. Just as in the lobby, he did not dwell on the beds or chests of drawers that too many people had obviously moved. On the other hand, he inspected the doors at length.

    - But what exactly are you looking for ? the soldier was surprised.

    - Did you tell me that Baster was found lying dead on his daughter's bedroom door? Ignorah John turned to the window of the room in question.

    - Yeah.

    - Has anyone touched that window?

    - Uh, not that I know of, why?

    - Look at this.

    Simon leaned forward and examined the glass that John had pointed to him. There was a wedge on the ledge so that the window did not open violently during draughts and could break. He gazed at his reflection in the torchlight for a few seconds before turning to the repellent.

    - Yes and?

    John sighed and pointed his index finger at a specific point on the tile.

    - Look at this much.

    He gave him a few seconds to examine it more closely. The soldier finally noticed that a more translucent circle was visible on the glass.

    - Somebody rubbed the dust? So what?

    - So here's the subtlety.

    John wiped the window with his sleeve.

    - I really don't see what...

    He stopped when the repellent removed his arm. The circle was still visible. Simon frowned. John carefully opened the window. The door opened inwards, and then jammed at an angle close to 45° with the wall, blocked by the wedge. He remained impassive and had to stretch out his arm to be able to touch the dirt on the glass at the same level as the clean circle.

    - Someone wiped this window from the outside, John said with an insured tone. Moreover, there are no shutters.

    - Impossible, look at the height and texture of the wall, protested the soldier.

    Performing, John leaned over. They were almost four metres high and the wall was virgin plaster.

    - Brother Brandit, over here! He calls in the night.

    - Did any of you pass under that window? The repurgator questioned, showing the opening to the garden, while Simon shook his head negatively.

    A torch appeared beneath them. Its brightness was reflected on the priest's smooth skull and the head of his heavy hammer, hanging on his back.

    - See if there's any ladder marks, we're going down.

    They quickly joined him, the priest inspecting the grass arriving at half calves.

    - What's up?

    - No trace, Brandit commented with a hard look. On the other hand, I found this in the grass.

    He raised his free hand and showed them his find. The soldier blurred as John's eyelids were strangled. These were three human phalanges.


    *​


    On the eastward bank four silhouettes stood up, observing from afar the gleams of the sleepy city. Three of them had thick armour with dull reflections under the moon. The fourth one had him only a leather cuirasse. Sheaths hung from the belts of each of them. The glowing light of their eyes pierced the semi-darkness.

    - Can you smell the web ? asked the first one, the others nodding in silence. We are not alone in the region.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  4. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    I enjoyed this one too. Looking forward to the next one.
     
  5. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Thank you.

    Here goes the chapter 2.



    Fire and Blood
    Chapter 2​


    - These bones are hollow. Hollow and old, John said, making the hundred steps in the modest room. Hollow but not drained of their marrow. Just too old to have any more.

    Watching his merry-go-round while thinking aloud, Brother Brandit remained impassive. His hammer was placed on the bed, within easy reach. The hat of the repurgator hung at the foot of the bed, but he had kept his coat. The latter slammed at every turn of his owner.

    - The kind of bones found only in ancient tombs, he continued in a monotonous tone.

    He turned suddenly towards the sigmarite, which nodded his head with a grave air, declaring:

    - We're dealing with a necromancer.

    - You don't have to scare the others by firing on the comet right now. But... I'm afraid so...



    *​


    The vampire remained long to fix his creation with a vague gaze. He had failed again. However, this failure was not in vain.

    - We will try again next night, he told his two acolytes, who immediately approved.

    Both of them were hiding their disappointment. Nevertheless, he guessed that it was their thirst for power that forbade any rebellion or desertion. Only he could grant immortality to the two necromancers.

    - Morisburg, find me four women before dark.

    Nodding his head, the man dressed in black slipped into one of the many corridors. When the vampire was certain that he had left the premises, he turned to the girl.

    - How many bodies are left in Sladcrust's mausoleum? He asked questions.

    - I think there are still about forty to be found, she smiled adorably.

    The undead smiles in turn, revealing his yellowish fangs.

    - I want them all to be by midday.

    She bowed when he fired her with a wave of his hand. She disappeared into the darkness, her discreet steps already inaudible even for the sharp ears of the vampire. Without wasting a moment, he took the direction of his apartments. In doing so, he crossed its underground complex, alternating paved ground, sticky earth and viscous puddles. Many conduits crossed his path, the echo of some dubious creatures reaching him. He quickly reached his goal. In a careless gesture, he disarmed his magical protections, the chiselled wooden door opening itself. He entered while a humming buzzing in his back, the only witness that magic had reactivated.

    He swiftly wandered through the place with a fast eye, his scarlet pupils needing no torches. Nevertheless, undoubtedly an ultimate vestige of his supposedly bygone humanity, he lit a torch of thought. He waited for a moment for his sensitive eyes to regain their radiance. A moment later he looked at his chaotic workbench, where remnants of rodents rubbed shoulders with vials full of turbid substances and scrolls covered with stones and esoteric formulae. With a sigh of resignation, he took hold of a specific leaf, lifting it up at eye level. It was a sketch, which represented scaly skin.

    A high-pitched whistle turned him to another room. With his tired face, he rested the scroll and watched the apparition finish materializing. A teenager took shape in front of him, staring at him with his ethereal gaze. His translucent body made the thinness of his naked body even more obvious. But he didn't give a damn about that kind of anecdotes.

    - Master Scleras, he bowed to him.

    The master always found it as amusing to see the spectres bending as their toes floated above the ground.

    - Foreigners arrived in Grissenwald during the afternoon, he said in a neutral tone. Soldiers from Nuln for the most part.
    - How does this kind of information require you to interrupt the calm of this place? he replied with a tired tone.

    - A priest is among them.

    A spark shone in the vampire's eyes, nodding his head to continue the report.

    - Together with several other men, they searched the houses of people who had served your... experiences, he hesitated for a moment.

    - How many of them?

    - Twenty-one Master.

    - Let me see it.

    As the undead frowned, digesting this information, a fog from nowhere materialized in the room. It condensed and became more precise forms as the boy dissipated himself. The covered wagon and its occupants appeared there, along with the column of soldiers that followed. As the details became clearer, he recognized the clothing of one of the humans, decorated with flames.

    - This scene took place shortly before they entered Grissenwald, echoed the boy's voice, coming from several directions at once.

    Scleras ignored this remark, contenting himself with studying individuals. Next to the magician were several soldiers, as well as a Sigmarite priest of great stature, holding a massive hammer engraved with many symbols in one hand. The vampire stared at him from top to bottom. He was going to ask the specter to make this scene disappear from his sanctuary, when an individual attracted his attention, descending from the cart as he stretched out. He exchanged a few silent words with the rest of the group, tilting and sweeping a non-existent herb from his ethereal hat. His coat falling down to his ankles opened for a moment, but it was enough for the vampire to see what he was hiding there. Several guns hung from his belt. He continued to observe him from head to toe, his gait, his outfit... He nodded his head. These individuals were not there by pure coincidence.

    - You will pass on to Castille and Morisburg that the game has changed. Repurgators are in town. Make sure they don't get noticed.

    - Right master.

    Scleras was going to fire the teenager when the fog expanded and remodelled, quickly taking the form of four silhouettes looking in the same direction.

    - What's this about...? he asks intrigued.

    - Four other people crossed the Grissenwald lands, said the disembodied voice. However, they disappeared from my gaze shortly after I contemplated this scene.

    The vampire frowned while the outlines of the armour and the faces of the strangers became clearer. They were straight, impassive. Only one of them did not wear thick armor, but all wore a sword at the hip. He approached one of them, his gaze planted in front of the double of mist. This one reminded him of something. The growth of his hairs on the front of his skull, the square of his chin and the shape of his nose... Straight from memory of his Father in death and his father's father, the answer was obvious. He caterwauled with a blazing anger, as a hate inherited from his vampiric ancestor, the great W' Soran himself, burst into his mind. He swept away the intangible imitation of a brutal gesture. But the glance was spared, continuing to observe it with intensity before being erased.

    - Manesh' k! spit him out.



    *​


    - Forty-seven disappeared now, Dave said in a gloomy voice. The guard told us that four girls aged 19 to 27 had not given signs of life for more than 24 hours.

    - So perhaps they are still alive, Rechald said.

    - Or perhaps the kidnapper started hitting our beard again this very morning, John said in a gloomy tone.

    The soldier was worried about this idea. All six of them were gathered in the room rented by the repurgator. He was sitting on the floor with his back to the bed where Leon and the magician were sitting. Soldier Rechald was leaning against the wall not far from the door, preventing anyone trying to interrupt them. Dave was sitting in the only chair while Brother Brandit stood with his back to the window.

    - However, new victims or not, we must do everything we can to determine what happens to these disappeared, said John, bowing his head and hiding his gaze from his companions.

    - Three hypotheses, Leon said that his mentor encouraged him to use a discreet sign. Either the disappeared left Grissenwald illegally, or they are held somewhere in the city, or they have all been dead for a long time.

    - In the latter case, he has to get rid of the bodies, right? the sorcerer wondered frowning his brush brows.

    Brother Brandit looked restlessly at the repurgator, who did not lift his head up, attentive to the debate.

    - Who knows where he could hide them, Dave said. The forest around Grissenwald is thick, and in the river the bodies would quickly disappear.

    - And in the city? asked Rechald. Valent, one of the officers from Grissenwald, told me that no patrols were taking place in the sewers, despite some recent research. Infructuous of course.

    - John?

    The repurgator lifted up the head, concealed by his hat. He assimilated every theory. The Sigmarite watched him with a brilliant eye, patiently waiting for John Grenaille to prove his genius to them again.

    - Rechald, take five men with you and go check the sewers. Always stay together and look for clues rather than people.

    - As in Nuln, he said.

    - Exactly.

    It was by working together that they finally found the skavens from under the city. A gallery dug by the mutants had been discovered beneath the poorest neighborhoods and yet among the most frequented by thieves and robbers. Only their flight in front of two enemies had allowed to signal this presence, allowing a massive return of the guard to the scene. Rechald wouldn't play heroes in the dark underground.

    - Continue patrolling on the surface and note or even question anything suspicious. Tristofan and Dave, go round the area. Maybe our kidnapper isn't to be found in town. Brother Brandit, Leon and I will take over tonight.

    - Just the three of you? Osprey Rechald.

    - There's no need to be more. So many patrols won't do any good if Valent's patrols don't work. Our target is too clever for that.



    *​


    - I would do as such, declared the human being, firing the apparition.

    He straightened up and climbed up the stairs until he came out into a dark cellar. Blindly, he replaced the empty crate that concealed the entrance and climbed up to the ground floor. He clawed as he opened the shutters. By spending time underground, her eyes were less and less able to withstand daylight. Nevertheless, he illuminated every room with empty furniture. The vampire had bought the building, like another one belonging to Castille, for the sole purpose of giving the two acolytes discreet ways to reach the sewers. He traded his dark clothes so discrete underground for simple clothes, both banal and common in the city. Turning to a mirror, he observed his reflection. He saw only one man in the prime of his life, but a three-day beard and huge dark circles contrasted with his pale skin. He pleated his eyes. Slowly, the curves of his reflection wavered. His cheeks were raised, his hair rose up on his forehead, his eyebrows became thicker, his lips thinner... Even his eyes went from black to dark brown. Satisfied, he allowed himself a smile.

    Four women. Apparently, they didn't have to be virgins this time. Deeply inspiring, Morisburg had a moment of vertigo. He felt a warmth running through him that owed nothing to the sun's rays.

    Taking upon himself, he closed his eyes, his jaw tightened. Deploying all his will, he suppressed this sensation, repelling the appealing call. When the crisis finally passed, he allowed himself to reopen his eyes, stretching his tired shoulders. As he would have liked to let himself go, to spin in infinity, to hold the power in the palm of his hand and to soak up, again and again, this exhilarating sensation...

    He shook his head. It wasn't by dreaming about he could make his wishes come true. Morisburg went out in the streets of Grissenwald, already thinking about where he could start his hunt. He repressed the fatigue of his sleepless night like promises too soft to be innocent, on the other side of the veil. Four girls. Then he could go to sleep in the house assigned to him by Scleras.

    Very quickly, he understood that satisfying his master would be more complicated than the day before. He came across several soldiers he had never seen before, wearing the blue and white colours of Nuln, observing the alleyways with too much attention to be benign. These foreigners took their work seriously. But the master was less selective about his prey of the day. It was a perfect timing.

    He went to a brothel across town as the sun was already ascending. Checking the driveway to make sure no one was following him, he approached and hit the building identical to his neighbors. Nobody paid any attention to him. A large woman, her opulent chest hardly contained in a purple corset, opened with her tired eye after several minutes of perseverance.

    - We don't open until noon, she told him in a dry tone of voice and gauging him.

    - It's a shame, he says. My master would appreciate the company of two charming ladies for his lunch.

    - Sorry, sweetheart, but you'll be back at noon. And my daughters don't practice outside.

    She began to close the door, but Morisburg intervened by blocking the door with her foot. He put his hand on her shoulder.

    - What...

    - My master knows how to be very persuasive, he insisted with a sweet tone.

    The woman spluttered, a veil falling on her eyes. She babbled for a second before nodding.

    - Don't move, I can tell exactly what your master needs, she chuckled as he let her walk away while closing the front door behind him.

    He examined the living room, which was nothing more than a profusion of veils and velvet, hiding the many corridors and stairs from his gaze. Carefully, he slipped his hand into his pocket, smiling. She came back, always jumping gaily, two girls on her heels.

    - But Martha, it's not even noon yet, yawned the first one who looked down on Morisburg.

    - And why outside? protested the second most skeptical one who held a long travel cape against her. Will the honoraria be...

    - The gentleman will explain all this better than me girls, clucked the mistress of the house, planting them facing Morisburg before leaving again.

    - Ladies, he said bowing to the two dubious prostitutes. It's a pleasure to meet you. My master will be pleased to meet you.

    In doing so, he extended both hands, inviting the women to lodge their own. They looked at each other with reluctance.

    - I'm warning you, if....

    She interrupted herself the moment Morisburg's fine fingers closed on her wrist. Her gaze was suddenly veiled as her partner was already waving her lips in the void.

    - Yes, my master will be delighted to meet you, he repeated with a brilliant look.

    The two women smiled at him and put on their capes. They came out of the brothel after him and he took them by the hand.

    - I am really looking forward to meeting your Master, said the first one, while the second one was laughing like a little girl.

    He could only repress his own smile. It was so easy...
     
  6. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    I like to see the villain's point of view as well. Good choice.
     
  7. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Thank you again Count Vashra.

    Here goes the next chapter.


    Fire & Blood
    Chapter 3


    With a slow gesture, he put a golden coin on the bedside table. A sad smile on his face, he looked at the sleeping couple. Her name was Roxanne and he was Romuald. He was a native of this town, Grissenwald, but she came from a hamlet nestled on the edge of the mountains. She had left the city three years ago to move in with him. He was a courier and had met her when he came to bring a letter to his father. He had seen enough to know that they would soon be parents.

    Their breath was much weaker than when he arrived, but they were still breathing. He had been as delicate as possible despite his dangerous thirst for murder. Their life, both physical and intimate, went by in his mind. Within minutes, he knew the area as well as the two lovers. He took a step backwards, his hands shaking with slight tremors. He shook his head, trying to resist the insistent call of their two still beating hearts. Because yes, both were alive. As often as possible, he let his victims live.

    Several centuries ago, he finally understood that he could never get rid of this thirst. Also, as his convictions and those of his mentor flowed through his veins, he had decided that no human life should be sacrificed. No one should suffer from his condition, which he considered to be a disease for which they were desperately seeking a cure. And six centuries ago, his mentor finally found out. He had thrown a huge dragon out of his lair, bloodless, and then straightened himself with the weapon in his hand. He had been screaming for long minutes for this deliverance, for the joy that now permeated him. It was so full of energy, stolen from the behemoth, that he had healed.

    Today, Manesh'k wanted nothing more than to imitate him. He leapt through the open window and rushed into the alleys for a while. Roxanne and Romuald would have a hangover tomorrow. He shrugged his shoulders. The gold he had left them would more than compensate for Romuald's two days away from his job. The exchange was fair. He should now try to forget the memories he had stolen from them. The curve of the hips that Roxanne exposed to him with a mischievous smile imposed itself a few seconds among his thoughts. He had a resigned smile when he thought it would be complicated.

    The plates of his thick armor slipped quietly as he ran under the night. With the release of a feline, he jumped on the ledge of a nearby building, before bouncing off its summit with a slight step despite its heavy weight. Raising the sheath, he sat down cross-legged and did not say a word.

    Several creatures were flying around his arms raised. Owls, ravens and bats swirled around the individual in lighter cuirasse. They would land on his arms and yell high or croak from time to time. After a few minutes of this ballet, they all landed on his shoulders or armour, or on tiles as close to him as possible. He turned his luminous gaze towards a motionless, attentive Manesh'k.

    - He is not alone, said the other vampire, his absent gaze jumping from raptor to bat. They see him a few times, but it was mostly his two apprentices who came out of their den. A girl and a man. She manages to lift very old bodies that she hides in the forgotten crypts hidden in the woods. He seems less gifted. On the other hand... his face and smell is rarely the same.

    - What does that mean? interrupted a third vampire in armour as he came along, followed by a fourth one.

    - The winds are altered, he replied enigmatically. There are other magics at work here.

    Manesh'k nodded his head. He was going to speak when the other resumed.

    - We are not the only foreigners. New soldiers arrived recently. A sigmarite and a wizard from Altdorf are here. They patrolled the city, the woods and sewers all day long. But they must not be aware of our presence, even if the sorcerer passed very close by during the day.

    Suddenly, all birds and other flying things flew away in a chaos of feathers and fur, sparkling with anger. The four vampires had also felt the intrusion, as the animals were finally dispersing.

    All of them turned in the same direction, where the air suddenly fogged up before the wave disappeared.

    - It is a W' Soran's offspring, inferred one of the vampires in armor, turned in the direction in which the ghost had fled.

    - In this case this walking corpse will not leave the city, spit out the second one with anger.


    *​


    - Here, said Brother Brandit as he passed in front of the building, looking harmless.

    Holding his hammer bare-handed, he approached the door and knocked without hesitation. He was opened after several minutes of waiting. A half-faced face with a lot of make-up appeared in the gap that the safety chain allowed. The woman detailed them with an inquisitive eye, without saying a word.

    - Good evening, simply declared the priest. We...

    - What does a eunuch do in front of my establishment, she preceded it with an acid tone.

    - We are currently looking for four missing women, said John, who smiled as he pulled off his hat. We are concerned about them and look for any clues that might lead us back to them.

    - You come in, she ordered, continuing to keep an eye on the religious. The others are waiting for you.

    All three agreed.

    - Are you sure about this? John whispered to the priest.

    For any answer, he handed him the weapon which the repurgator touched. He could feel the gentle warmth through the leather of his glove. He made a grimace. The last time his hammer was so hot was several years ago. In an old man terrified by his last hour who had ended up in a pustuous abomination...

    He rolled his wrist with a rattle suffocated by his coat as he walked in smiling. With the hat in his other hand, he swept the place with a sharp look as the door closed behind him. Thick carpet, velvet profusion and veils concealing many exits. He hated places like this where dozens of enemies had no choice but to find good hiding places.

    Hiding his nervousness behind a warm smile, he noticed that once the woman's face was properly lit, she had tears in her eyes.

    - Who are you and what are you looking for in my establishment? she questioned him with a faulty voice.

    - My name is John. I've just arrived from Nuln to find several missing persons who...

    He did not have time to finish his sentence, the woman collapsing on him, his cheeks flooded with tears.

    - I don't know what it took, she sobbed immediately as he tried to spread his apparently free arm. We never receive before noon or outside, but... he said that his master... and I accepted !

    She plunged her face against him and burst into tears, her words drifting in an incomprehensible flow. John sighed, turning his wrist again in a discreet click. He put his hand on his back.

    - Ma' am, I swear to you that I will do everything I can to help you, he said in a harsh voice that made her stop crying for a moment. But for that, you have to tell us everything that happened here.


    *​


    - You say you only have an inaccurate memory of what happened after he laid his hand on your shoulder? said John about an hour later, as Leon continued to blacken his notebook.

    She nodded shyly. Her cheeks were black with make-up after wiping them, which could have been funny in another situation: the kidnapper had struck again despite the patrols of Rechald.

    - Without sounding rude, can you remove the scarf around your neck, show us your bare shoulder? asked the man in the hat.

    She frowned.

    - It is the skin where the man laid his hand on you that I want to see, he reassures her with a new smile.

    The priest lifted up his eyes to heaven, exasperated both by the behaviour of this woman and the ease with which she was manipulable. There was no need for gifts, he thought as she was executing and the red rose to her cheeks. She seemed ready to do any... His thoughts stopped abruptly when he saw her shoulder. She hiccuped when she saw it. Thin dark filaments ran beneath the skin, all connected by a punch of coagulated blood, similar to a dark flake tattooed under her skin.

    With a hard face, John took off his hat and leaned over the mark, holding the woman's arm firmly. Leon, with his eyes wide open, stood up to see better.

    - What... what is this... this! She stared from John to Brother Brandit, passing through the apprentice. Take it off me, take it off...

    - Quiet! Aboya the priest with a stentorian voice.

    She grew a frowning, but obeys with a disconfident mine. John quickly guided her to the nearest chair where he forced her to sit. Wise precaution because she blurred on sight, on the point of failing.

    - Do you have any idea what this is about, asked Brother Brandit in mid-voice, he and the repurgator having moved back slightly, leaving the shaken woman in Leon's care?

    - I have an idea, but it has nothing to do with a necromancer, he replied darkly, passing his hand through his hair. The thing that stung her gave her something, which is surely the reason for her cooperation with our man. A substance that would have altered his judgment. A drug maybe.

    Brother Brandit digested the information.

    - A person who has fun terrifying people with surgical equipment ?

    - Possible. But I've never heard of such a poison or similar brand before. We will have to keep an eye on this woman and see if this kind of thing has ever been mentioned in Grissenwald. Now let's go, we won't find anything more tonight.


    *​


    - This is where they last saw the man. He brought in four women in two times today.

    The four undead were still perched on a roof and faced the building glued to the neighbouring houses. This one was no different from the others. Except that each one of them could perceive the emptiness that reigned there. No heart resonated in the house.

    - Did he come out again? questioned one of them.

    - No. There must be a secret way out, he replied.

    All four remained silent for a few minutes, silently observing the alleyway and the dark building.

    - Lead us to the girl, finally declared Manesh' k.


    *​


    Brother Brandit almost dropped his weapon when it caught fire with an inner light. Stunned, he looked at his war hammer now orange-coloured. The heat shedding was unprecedented. Forbidden, John also kept his eyes on it. Never before had they seen a relic of Sigmar so vividly manifested. Manifestation that was related to the evil that the hammer perceived.

    - That's... that's impossible, begaya Leon.

    None of the two adults dared to contradict him. Illuminating the alleyway with its radiant glow, their situation seemed almost unreal to them.

    - Never a necromancer could pose such a threat, whispered John who was hiding his trouble behind a marble mask.

    The priest nodded, as he felt the weapon was getting warmer and warmer!

    - Whatever it is, it's coming!

    As soon as he had finished his sentence, a concert of croaks, hoarseness and roaring wings from the sky raised their eyes. Under the cover of a veritable cloud of nocturnal birds, several shadows leapt from one roof to the other.

    - We mustn't lose them! cried John, pulling his companions out of their stupor.

    He rushed into a first alleyway, his coat slamming behind him. Already the hammer was becoming less luminous, falling from its sudden glowing shine to the dull burst of polished metal. What were these creatures to provoke such a reaction? Never before had his own mentor witnessed such a thing !

    They ran for several minutes through the maze of streets that was Grissenwald, guided by birds and the declining light of the weapon. The echo of their race echoed when they passed over one of the few cobblestone sections or slipped into muddy puddles. Many beggars ran out of the way as they overturned a few barrels obstructing them or cut small properties through the gardens.

    They flowed from a narrow alleyway into a larger avenue, the emanation of the hammer returning in intensity. All three quickly spotted their targets thanks to the profusion of birds surrounding them. The said targets did likewise, having obviously noticed the weapon appearing to be incandescent, throwing an orange veil on the nearest facade. Four shadows rose up from their promontory, knowing that they had been discovered, and they measured these three arrogant humans who had been tracking them through the city. The crimson red pupils shimmering in the darkness petrify the repurgator and his companions. The two sides thus remained a few long seconds to observe each other. The deaf melody of their hearts felt by the chase and the sudden anguish was deliciously pulsating in the ears of the four creatures. Without consulting each other, they swung and leapt across the other side of their building, disappearing into the night. None of the three humans dared to follow in their footsteps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  8. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    The action's building now. Excellent.
     
  9. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Alright, big chapters start to flow. And it's still a small one xD

    In this one i'm not sure about one of my translated word, the caterwaul verb for the french one feuler. I mean the cat scream with anger, but everywhere i look i found it also mean the cute meow... less intimidating. If you got a better word i'll gladly take it.

    This point moved aside, here is the next chapter.


    Fire & Blood
    Chapter 4​


    Satisfied, he took a step back to better appreciate the result and allowed himself a small smile. Every bone had been chiselled. Engraved. Mystical symbols appeared in relief all over the subject's body. Still, this one seemed to be covered with primitive tattoos. Stylized horns wrapped around his skull, while the words on his wrists formed artificial veins. Neither his teeth nor his phalanges had been spared by the treatment. A star was deeply engraved in the middle of his forehead. Stoic, an evil spark was shining at the bottom of his empty orbits. The animated skeleton was ready.

    Morisburg shudders with excitement. No power was yet flowing in this ivory puppet. Nevertheless, he knew the receptacle was operational. He felt in his flesh that this time, Scleras would succeed. Morisburg would have liked so much to carry out the operation himself !

    Her arms crossed on her short light blue skirt, the blonde showed a calmness that contrasted with her neighbour. Attentive, she took care to memorize each of her master's movements. Nothing would escape her. Even when a hairy rat rubbed itself against her ankles she continued to look away, her mind far beyond the present situation.

    Finally ready, Scleras turned to his four female spectators. Kneeling in a circle around him, all watched with horror. The venom kept them from blinking their eyelids. Ignoring their naked bodies, he bent over and examined the ground one last time. The gutters carved in stone were perfectly clean. Castille had done a good job. He stood up straight and nodded his head to his companions.

    Immediately Morisburg rushed to the candles, lighting them one by one. At no time did he step over the circle or any of the eight dug furrows. Meanwhile, Castile had let her dress slide over her hips. She approached her master with a sharp eye. However, he did not dwell on the delicious curves of his sidekick, but on what she held at chest height. The impregnated dagger. Humbly, she knelt down and leaned forward, presenting the weapon to her master as high as her position permitted. In front of her eyes the gully seemed to wave with impatience, her blond hair touching the rock.

    When Morisburg had lit some of the candles, the vampire seized the weapon. With respect and without straightening, she moved back carefully until she found herself back to the wall. The man joined her as she finally got up. Both were fascinated by the current operation.

    Scleras stood up to the first woman. Her frozen expression made him smile. He raised the dagger above her forehead before he cut it. He patiently drew the symbol in her flesh, neglecting the blood flowing on her victim's cheeks and staining his hands. When he had finished, he looked at the result with a critical eye, before smiling again. He passed behind her, grabbed her by the hair and cut her throat meticulously. A scarlet spray immediately splashed the stone. The flow of hemoglobin dripped in thick broth between the breasts of the unfortunate woman, up to her thighs before dripping into the canal. As the fluid flowed as expected, Scleras turned to the next woman. He repeated the operation until each of the four women had their throats open and forehead cut open.

    He crossed the circle and found himself in opposition to his two servants who waited patiently for serious things to begin. Scleras ignored them and watched the gullies slowly fill with the blood of the four women. As he would have liked to taste their nectar, violate their most intimate thoughts and stain each of their memories. He would have been satisfied with just one ! But time was running out. The children of Abhorash as well as the repurgators would come into action at nightfall. He knew about them. He felt it. Preparing the skeleton had already taken him long enough. There was not a minute left to lose.

    The vampire defied his dress and quickly removed it from his shoulders, finding himself bare-chested. His translucent skin rolled over the frail muscles of his body. But neither of the two acolytes was fooled : behind this rachitic body hid a prodigious force. He threw the charms he had on his neck over the dress ball in a corner and refocused himself on the present situation. Scleras closed his eyes and raised both arms. Morisburg and Castile had a shared thrill. Finally it started.

    First, nothing visible happened. Then, slowly, thicker smoke escaped from the candles. Darker. Nauseating. It gradually condensed, becoming more consistent, like tentacles bursting out of the flames. A wave swept through the tank in the centre of the circle and women's haemoglobin continued to pour in. Slowly, this one gained in intensity, tiny waves striking it. The skeleton did not make the slightest gesture when the first drops touched his malleoli. He was standing over a now-filled bowl. The tentacles of smoke joined exactly above the scarlet puddle and the sculpted skull. Slowly they began to spin, continuing to thicken. A first bolt of lightning went through them, throwing a flash of light into the room.

    Scleras stood still. Only the fold on his face betrayed his efforts to control the events he had initiated. A liquid was even beginning to suppure from his dead body. Castille and Morisburg did not even dare to blink because they were so fascinated. In doing so, they imitated the four unfortunate women who, tetanized, took advantage of choice places to discover the ritual. Suddenly they were agitated with tremors, making the two acolytes startle. They were both stunned. They had such a dose of paralyzing poison in their veins that a horse would have been immobilized for almost a week ! There was no way she could even beat eyelids or swallow ! And yet, they were now all agitated with spasms, their panic-stricken looks on the skeleton. Or more precisely at the feet of the skeleton.

    The smell of iron was stubborn, sticking to the mouths of both humans. The liquid also began to spin on itself in a tiny whirlpool, with steaming bubbles bursting from the surface. The phenomenon rapidly gained in intensity. Suddenly a form emerged from the liquid. It rose painfully, connected to the scarlet whirlwind by viscous strands. Then she unfolded. Red glowing embers appeared in the smoke folds as new flashes of lightning flew through the room. They bounced off on the daggers and charms that the vampire had removed, attracted by every single piece of metal. Puddled and dripping fingers came out of the puddle. And they unfolded, standing up to the sky. Scleras sketched a grimace, struggling against the flow of invisible winds despite the raging elements around him. The difficulty he had orchestrating all this was palpable. Slowly, the bubbling hand turned to the nearest ankle. The liquid fingers were as if drawn by the engravings. The four women simultaneously rejected the head backwards when bone and blood came in contact. They screamed silently, their vocal cords cut off. In a crackling sound, the two human acolytes were dazzled. They protected their eyes sensitive to the violent lighting of the flashes of lightning that now plunged into the scarification of the foreheads, from both the prisoners and the skeleton. Their disarticulated arms wavered furiously as the haemoglobin seemed to be sucked out of them by the spell, their eyes rolling in their orbits. Their skin where the liquid was flowing began to brown, burned by the temperature of their own blood!

    Morisburg moved even closer to the wall. He heard the call. Magic told him to move on. Yet he had to resist. Squeezing his fists, he continued to observe.

    The hand wrapped itself around the ankle, wrapping it in a viscous cocoon. Immediately, a second one emerged from the first, all bubbling and began its ascension. The kneecap then the femur was swallowed up in a garnet-coloured sheath by successive creeps. The heat from the fire and ash vault was stifling. The flashes of lightning attacked the eyes of both humans. They almost suffocated as the air reeks of iron and some other horrors. Nevertheless, they could not turn their eyes away from the current cataclysm. The blood, animated by a clean life, slipped from ribs to ribs, before quickly running down the arms to the wrists. It accumulated along the spine, giving the body a bumpy appearance. While the four tortured women were drooling a pinkish foam, the fluid rose up the jawbone, sliding in the mouth before the teeth were swallowed. The whole body of the dead man was covered, leaving only the star connected to the roof by lightning. A black fluid flowed out of the vampire's nostril, which squeezed his teeth, and his fangs were widely visible. It was out of the question to fail after going so far!

    The "sky" roared, as the outlines of the creature wavered. Knotty muscles were forming beneath a layer of blood beginning to clot. The skull seemed to stretch in all directions, before the strings frayed. The two horns growing at the temples and the lengthened back of his head became clearer. The body is reshaped at the level of the spine, stretching in new directions. Slowly the ankles straightened up and the body stooped forward.

    In a great crackling that made each person present startle, the lightning faded. When the sight returned to the necromancer, he found that all four bodies had collapsed. Their transparent skin was stretched over stunted organs. They were emptied to the last drop of hemoglobin. The call of the winds was more distant, more bearable. Scleras opened his eyes again, panting, and watched the ashes dissipate as he twirled. For a moment he thought he had failed again. But the scarlet creature remained. She slowly straightened her head and two golden lights pierced through the carmine veil. The knotty arms moved slowly. The head dodelled on one side and the other under its own weight. The creature quivered and almost fell forward. But with a mighty step she straightened herself, splashing droplets on the virgin stone. These were not bones but dark red scales. Toes topped with obsidian claws scraped the ground. A pink tentacle suddenly springs out of the still fluid-covered face, splashing the two petrified humans. The long, dripping tongue seemed to smell the ozone-laden air from the underground before the creature shuddered. She sprinkled them all with scarlet rain before turning to her creator. She took a step forward. His gaze, similar to a flame pit, plunged into the one injected with the blood of the undead. Neither of them broke the eye contact. Until she takes a step forward and shouts of pain.

    The vampire sighed for relief as luminous symbols appeared on each scales, claws or pieces of horns. The creature almost collapsed in pain, but the phenomenon ceased. Blackened symbols remained engraved on her body. She scolded with anger but did not outline the slightest threatening gesture. With the knotty muscles dancing under her natural breastplate, she swept the place of gaze and stopped on Castille's naked body. The woman remained motionless when in a flash, the still dripping monster was upon her. The tongue wrapped around her graceful neck. Her claws passed through the woman's blond hair, staining them with half-coagulated blood. The ridge in the back of the monster rippled with anger. But the creature did nothing and moved back one step, rumbling with fury. She slammed her powerful jaw a finger away from the woman's face, her sharp fangs dripping with hemoglobin. Morisburg smiled as the chest of Castille rose with frenzy. The eight-pointed star shone between the two black horns of the monster, echoing its incandescent look and contrasting with the dark tattoo now binding it together.

    *​

    They both landed on the tiles of the girl's home. Without slipping, they straightened up and swiftly inspected the surroundings, but nothing moved. Quietly, they dropped to the ground in front of the entrance. The first of the two put his cape on the lock, which slightly suffocated the crash when he blew the lock with a boot kick. A few seconds later, they had discretely entered the interior.

    Their scarlet sloes shining in the darkness, they did not need torches. They carefully inspected each room and opened the furniture, which turned out to be empty. The place looked abandoned.

    - Gilnash was wrong? There's nothing here.

    - I don't think so.

    Without consulting each other, they went down a staircase to the basement. They both came to a standstill, as if they were struck by lightning. Their faces were deformed by anger, and they swept the basement with their eyes. The air reeks of salt and iron ! Without consulting each other, they turned back, alarmed. Hearthbeats were now resounding in the entrance. Calm, steady.

    - He was waiting for us! spit the first.

    A crystalline note rose when they drew their swords as they rushed up. Already other beats were approaching, much stronger and faster. No sooner had the first of them reached the top than a bang sounded in the house. The vampire collapsed , hit in the head by the bullet. The latter rushed immediately, ignoring his companion on the ground and raised his blade above his opponent. He ran into an invisible barrier separating him from the man with the hat. Stumbling with surprise, he backed off. The man's pulse was still as calm as ever.

    - Harkon ! Call the vampire.

    The concerned person grunted and rose up painfully. Both of them could see the man frowning despite the darkness. The wounded man looked furiously at the human.

    - It's burning! cried the undead. You dared soak that shit in garlic !

    The man raised both arms coldly and pointed to them. As if by magic, guns appeared in his fists. The two undead had the same reflex and plunged into a nearby room under the cover of hail from the repurgator. The noise inside was worthy of a thunderclap. In shards of stone and splinters, he pounded their retreats until they were out of sight. Deeply inspiring, he released a high-pitched whistle. His two pistols rolled on the ground, smoking, while he mechanically replaced them with others drawn from the folds of his coat.

    When the soldiers entered, guided by Brother Brandit, Tristofan and Rechald, the weapons had already disappeared in his sleeves.

    - Two targets, he said immediately. One of them took a bullet impregnated in the jaw, it seems to me, but the powder must have consumed the main part of the garlic.

    - Shouldn't the silver not have been enough? The captain surprised himself when he waved to some of the men in chain mail to climb upstairs.

    - Silver hurts them more than plumb, but in no way fatal, John explained while carefully inspecting the soil where they had fled. Brandit, your decoction worked perfectly. They couldn't get past the sanctified ground.

    The priest did not answer, merely following the sorcerer. His fists were as bright as the sigmarite weapon.

    The few soldiers wielding torches and swords in their fists entered the room overlooking several other areas. Nervously they unfurled. One man would stand at the doorframe and lift up his torch, and another man would swing his sword with a third one on his heels. They came out empty-handed in the first room. The second led to a kitchen leading to the entrance, and the last one visibly leads to a guest room. They put themselves in position to enter this room when a scream came in from the entrance, making them startle.

    In a sudden tear, a blade pierced the man's torso stuck to the wall. He hiccuped with surprise as his companions turned towards him again, the blade disappearing into the wall. He slipped gently to the ground, leaving a bloody trail on a yellowish background.

    An explosion suddenly shook the entire structure of the house. The burning blow made them all move back and protect their faces. When they lowered their arms raised, the demon was upon them. He snatched the jaw of the first from a backside of his sword and grabbed the second from the throat, lifting it from the ground. With his throat crushed by his wrist, he could not cry out. His horrified gaze fell upon the vampire's shining eyes of hatred. With a scream of fury, the undead threw him through the room and countered the blade of the last one. Much faster, he slipped his sword over the human one. With a twist of the wrist he pulled the sword out of the human being and cut off his abdomen, tearing apart the steel links. The wounded man had a hiccup while the blade was sinking like butter between his arms. He gave up his last breath when the vampire took his blade out with a growl, tearing off several pieces of intestines. The last survivor, lying near the first corpse, tried to catch his breath. He fell to the ground when a dagger pierced his temple with a red spray. The vampire swore when he saw that he had chipped his sword on the chain mail.

    He turned away from the corpses and saw a bald man of high stature enter through the kitchen. He was wearing a bure and his shiny hammer was stained with a dark liquid leaving no doubt about his identity. Caterwauling, the undead charged. He swept the air out of his blade, but she only met the handle of the hammer in a screeching of sparks. Instantly he went on with few quick attack, taking the religious out of speed who soon get a hitch on the right arm. Shrugging his shoulders, again he was on guard. The vampire grinded his teeth with frustration.

    Several soldiers stood behind him, daring to interrupt the fight between the undead and Brother Brandit. Until John Grenaille pushed them aside and opened fire without warning. The blast interrupted a charge of the driven creature. She tripped before jumping out of the reach of the dangerous hammer. He stretched out his shoulders and the steel of his armor protested, mistreated by the projectile.

    - Give yourself and we will grant you a fast journey to the kingdom of Morr, said the priest in a gruff barely breathless tone.

    Behind him slipped the red-haired sorcerer, the already inflamed fist. The undead took a look over them and had a sniff of disdain. Without warning, he swung and threw himself into the room behind him.

    - Stop him ! the captain roared as he rushed forward.

    Tristofan was quicker and the crackling missile shot between Rechald's men. In a new explosion of flames, the fireball filled the chamber and immobilized them in front of the infernal heat. John stood facing the opening, his two armed revolvers. Calmly, the sorcerer attenuated the fire and allowed them to discover the devastated piece. They grimaced when they saw a wall of bricks smashed high and from which already there were screams of terror. The repurgator rushed through the opening and found himself covered with dust in the living room of the next house. A man's torn up body, probably alarmed by the fighting, was already lying there. A woman in tears did not dare approach it, tetanized. John ignored her and spotted the crumbled window, looking out onto a poorly lit alley. He grinned.
     
  10. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    Awesome. Daemon-summoning followed by action. Very thrilling.
     
  11. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Now we got the funny stuffs. Have a nice reading.


    Fire & Blood
    Chapter 5​

    The two intruders froze when the first growling came to them. Wandering in the nauseating puddles, they made themselves as discreet as possible. All the senses on alert, they quickly spotted the position of the other one. Yet they did not perceive a heartbeat nor the annoying sound of suction accompanying each one of their steps. Manesh' k in front, they camped on their position, ready to draw their weapons at the slightest threat. How was a W' Soran child going to welcome them?

    They remained stunned when they saw her at an angle. Her gaze was clearer and more sparkling than their own, but without pupils. Thanks to these claws that she planted in the rock, she moved to the ceiling like a spider. Without taking the time to look for them, she made a grimace, showing her sharp fangs. Head down, the mood dripping from her mouth flowed over her muzzle and forehead. A tongue of frightening length whipped the air beneath her skull like an insidious tentacle. Despite the near darkness, both could see her stretched cranial limp and dark horns wrapped around her temples. Knotty muscles rolled under her dark red scales. But what alerted them the most were the surprising tattoos she wore, spreading over her entire body.

    - Come on ! complained the one in lighter armor. What the hell is that doing here ?

    - Didn't you say the winds were altered ? said his companion, drawing his sword.

    The aberration fell to the ground and dropped smoothly on its feet. Nodding her head at every step, she advanced towards them, continuing to grumble. She came to a halt a few steps away. The air itself twisted as sparks flashed out of nowhere and lit up the tunnel. Two shining swords materialized in her clawed fists. As if animated by a life of their own, they pulsed with an orange glow.

    - Well, I hope that Claster and Luthor were luckier than us, sighed Manesh' k in a resigned tone. Find another way, I'll take care of this thing.


    *​


    Scleras shuddering with excitement. Manesh' k himself stood before his creation !

    - The other two of the children of the night may perceive my master presence, foretold the disembodied voice of the adolescent.

    The vampire did not bother to respond, absorbed by the ghostly scene that was happening before his eyes. Wrapped in a thick suit, he had his eyes wide open and his face lit by the white smoke, saying silent words. The creature dropped to the ground and materialized both swords. She had invoked her weapons! Even in his most positive estimates he did not dare to hope for that ! He saw without hearing the other two talking to each other, before one of them left the fog scene.

    Watching in silence, Morisburg and Castille also watched the creature's behaviour. She had reacted violently by noticing the naked necromancer, a sign that the will of her first creator was flowing through her veins. However, Scleras control had been perfect!

    - Castille, we risk having visitors, said the master of an absent tone. Take care of it.

    The concerned woman bowed, then withdrew and disappeared into one of the corridors, her bare feet not producing a noise. Scleras and Morisburg concentrated on the two antagonists who threw themselves at each other.


    *​


    The creature struck both blades simultaneously in a "V" that would have killed anyone at once. But Manesh' k was not just anyone and of inhumane vivacity, he deflected the first blade and slid it over his own before parrying the second. The orange-coloured weapons placed at the tip and guard of the vampire's weapon, the monster pressed his advantage with a herculean force. The undead man placed his free hand at the other end of the sword to support the pressure exerted. The jaw clapped an inch from his face, but he had already moved. With a complete rotation, he slid the blades on his own in a flood of sparks, before removing it and cutting the left shoulder of the creature whose weapons whipped the void. She made up for it with one step forward and swung, firmly inserting her claw in the clay. Suddenly, Manesh' k kicked her from the heel behind her exposed knee and tripped her, before whipping the air with his blade. The monster's head jumped out of his shoulders like a cork.

    Turning his back on the defeated creature, he continued his way, regretting already having wasted his friend's time. He examined his precious blade, still burning where those of the creature had crossed it. Any weapon of lesser quality would have been broken. He was pleased to have once accepted this gift from his enemies and lowered it, when he noticed a movement in the dull reflection of the blade. In-extremis he swung and parried the reddening sword, retreating one step backwards, and parried once more the second one. With a blazing gaze, the resurrected creature ruthlessly pushed its advantage, making him retreat with lateral blows as fast as they were powerful. The vampire could no longer regain the advantage, still shocked to have come so close to disaster. The evil weapons were not stopped at all when they stroked the walls or the mud, leaving blackened and smoky furrows. Manesh' k caterwauled of anger while parrying the two swords suddenly sprouting on his left. Suddenly the weight disappeared and the claw struck him hard on the other side of his exposed belly and slammed him violently against the viscous wall.

    Although stunned, he had the reflex to let himself fall to the ground, while the blades crossed where he had held his head a second earlier. He hastily rolled out of reach, putting himself back on guard. Grumbling and whipping the air with her reptilian tongue, the tattooed creature charged again. This time Manesh' k no longer underestimated her. He parried the first weapon with his own blade and caught her other arm by the wrist, preventing her from cutting it in half. The sharp mouth plunged straight down towards his face, but only met the vampire's armoured knee, slamming her jaw and cutting the filthy tentacle. She stepped back, stunned. The head that he had decapitated was well and truly fixed again. What was that sorcery ? Was it an illusion ? Yet his ribs claimed otherwise...

    It was when he saw the creature shaking her head, splitting the air from her spiral horns, that he noticed the violet tongue growing back quickly by itself. Even the shoulder wound was gone. He tilted his head sideways. To defeat a creature not fearing physical wounds or its ancient blade would be problematic, especially if he himself were devoid of magical gifts !


    *​


    Morisburg had a hiccup when they saw the result of their pitifully hard work collapsing, his head cut off. But animated by the most powerful sorceries, she straightened herself. The ungodly flesh came back in a matter of seconds and almost sliced him in half without his opponent noticing. Scleras shouted with frustration. They saw the monstrosity taking advantage, pushing the vampire into his last entrenches, striking him and missing to finish him. There was a new weapon pass before the undead retreated, perplexed. Scleras jubilated him.

    - He figured out that he couldn't win, he shouted euphorically. He contemplates death, and this time it will be definitive!

    Morisburg could not but share this enthusiasm, delighting in the scene faithfully reproduced by the revenant.


    *​


    The steel whistled above the head of the squatted creature. Immediately Manesh' k struck the spongy floor with the boot, throwing mud at the creature's face. Blinded, she screamed in anger and gesticulated before her face was split in half with a dark spray. Her scream cut, she leaned forward, her arms suddenly heavier. Manesh' k rushed into the breach. He slit her flank and arm at elbow level, passing on the left, then made a quick rotation before spinning it. His blade came out right in the middle of her chest. Without collapsing, the aberration remained motionless to suffer his blows. He could not help but smile as he thought of the reproaches his father in death would have made for the way he had taken advantage. Nevertheless, and given the enemy's capabilities, he did not consider this to be essential.

    - No magical creature possesses infinite stamina, the offspring of Warp more than any other, he said with a grave tone. How many times do I have to kill you before you go back to nothing?

    In doing so he pulled his weapon out in a scarlet sheaf. The monster fell to his knees. Scold of anger. He leaned on his arm unharmed, the stump resting over the sliced flesh. But the sliced flesh suddenly rippled and leapt to the wound with which it merged under the amazed eyes of the vampire. The black and scarlet demon stood upright, shouting with rage. He swung and charged the fighter again.

    - So it will never end ! he shouted as he lifted his weapon.


    *​


    He came to a standstill frowning. The sounds that came to him and the troubles that he felt did not tell him anything good. Especially since he was now alone, having let Manesh' k cross the iron with the other creature. Just thinking about it again, he got a shiver of disgust. Unaffected by the winds of magic, his friend could not understand how he felt so close to a warp offspring. He felt happy that he was not in the place of the other vampire. He could still hear the sound of the blades ringing, a sign that the fight was harder than expected. But he didn't doubt the outcome of the fight. It was Manesh' k. Like him, he was descended from the commander of Lahmia's troops. He wouldn't fail.

    He perceives the heartbeat approaching well before seeing his owner in the dark underground. Accompanied by a whole army of skeletons moving mechanically, causing a concert of splashes and sucking noise, she presented herself to him.

    - This is the first time I met someone other than my master, she said while stopping.

    He inspected her without answering, while the puppets stopped. He hadn't made a noise and she was clearly not wearing an arcanic object. She had her eyelids closed. However, he felt it, and so did she. That's how she saw his presence.

    - You are different from Manesh' k, she told the immobile figure. He doesn't have any gifts. But you...

    She straightened her head, breathing in with her full lungs as her skirt stretched over her chest.

    - You have the gift, she said with a smile. The gift... let me guess...

    Suddenly her smile froze, before fading away. Doubt was painted on her face.

    - The magic of the beasts, she whispered as stepping back carefully.

    He remained impassive in the face of the dozens of undead standing upright, rusty weapons or simply armed with their bare hands.

    - I know who you are, she continued in a trembling voice. You are Gilnash, one of the first four children of the traitor to his city...

    - With one detail, he replied with his daggers appearing silently to his fists. Whoever your master is, he must appreciate you for telling a human being all this. But we never betrayed Lahmia. She's the one who denied us.

    With a coordination too perfect, all the dead rushed upon him. He stood still, letting them come to him. Anyway, the conduit was so narrow that they could not take advantage of their number more than three to one. His boot smashed the ribcage of the midle one before he fired his shot, and his fist tore the skull off the righ one. He then bounced the dagger of the last one on his own blade, before leaping over the sword of the last skeleton, who continued his spin to the second row. When he fell down, he mowed the ankles of those too close to his taste, throwing them on the ground. With a cold efficiency he broke their articulations of arms and legs, before going back to the assault. He noticed that the heart of the necromancer plunged into the dark was accelerating noticeably as she did not move backwards, leaving more and more bone puppets between them. But would there be enough, he wondered with a fierce smile ?


    *​


    The metal grid flew through the air with a ringing of protest. Immediately the fighter jumped into the alley, rising up to the first floor of the buildings, and fell a few meters further down. And the creature took out what was left of the sewer mouth, falling down on all fours. She straightened up as her wounds from the vampire blade and the shredded grid closed fast. The impassive face, Manesh' k once again warned.

    They leapt on each other, their blades held in the cool air of the night. The tattooed creature jumped abruptly into the air, passing over the vampire's whistling sword, and shot down her two weapons again in a mortal crossroads. But Manesh' k had again dodged by moving aside, turning on himself to increase his momentum, struck the creature's shoulder violently. It lifted off the ground and swirled for a few metres into the wall of a nearby building. The vampire remained impassive, holding back from grimacing, while a splash of dark blood had accompanied the shot. The studded leather boot was torn on the crest that the monster wore along the spine. She fell to the ground, raising her head straight away, eyes shining with anger. Nevertheless, she shuddered as she got up. Visibly taking hold of herself, she straightened up completely and grumbled with anger, her long purple tongue waving furiously in front of her face.

    - The game is coming to an end, whatever you are, Manesh' k said calmly. You can't stay in this world forever if I continue to undermine your strength in this way.

    She grumbled once more, scratching the floor and tearing a pavement with her claw. But did not charge.

    - Don't be afraid, your master will join you shortly, whatever he may be.

    As he dashed, the monster turned back and leapt mightily towards the wall cracked by the impact, passing through a crash of stones and mortar. Manesh' k rushed in, just to see her leap up a flight of stairs, pulverizing the railing and disappearing upstairs. He swore while jumping the steps four to four, a dreadful doubt pointed in his mind. He had recognized the creature despite the strange tattoo and the powers she had been given. She also knew what offering was needed to invoke her...

    He rushed into a room just in time to see the monster tearing out a woman's throat in a dressing gown with a jaw jerk, splashing the sheets and the man who shared the diaper. Mortified, Manesh' k saw the monster proceed in the same way as his fellow beings were feeding, sucking life out of the body at an astounding speed. The man pushed a swell of terror, managing to get out of bed, the bloodthirsty demon ignoring him completely. The vampire moved aside without paying much attention to the human who did not even notice his pale complexion or scarlet eyes. The rotten bowels piled up as the creature made great efforts to shred the body, tearing it into bloody pieces. She looked exactly like what she was : a rabid beast, thirsty for blood and slaughter. She had taken less than ten seconds to drain the body of any fluid and make the appearance of the remains barely recognizable. If he had been human again, he would certainly have emptied his stomach at that nightmarish sight.


    *​


    - Slowly buddy, cried out to the priest catching him.

    The young man's face and nightgown were soaked in blood, which did not prevent Brother Brandit from holding him against him.

    - He will kill me, he will kill me, he screamed hysterically.

    His gaze swept through the surrounding alleys at a frightening speed. He even scratched the religious.

    - Now that's enough ! the man roared with a stentorian voice without letting him go, which caused a soldier from Nuln to startle at his side.

    The effect on the unfortunate was radical. He stopped struggling and stared at Brother Brandit. He trembled like a leaf, and his tears whipped white furrows in the dust stuck to his cheeks with blood.

    - What happened ? questioned John, his eyes hidden in the shadow of his hat.

    - A... A monster... Lily... Lily... slit her throat... he... blood....

    He carried his two hands to his face, splashing a little more scarlet, bursting with tears. Brandit released him and John rushed to help him sit down, supporting him with a firm hand.

    - Describe this monster to me, he declared in a firm tone of voice, plunging his gaze into the eyes of the man in a state of shock.

    He stammered in the void for a moment before shutting up. Neither of them were blinking. One of the soldiers was about to speak, but Dave stopped him.

    - He had bright eyes, like molten iron, he articulated slowly.

    - Good. And....

    - Red ! he cut. His skin and red and black! He has ram horns over his skull and a tongue like a snake ! He's got... Lily!

    John and the priest could not help, exchanging a glance of incomprehension.

    - His skull, how...

    - It was as long as my arm ! he exclaimed, grabbing John by the side of his coat. Red ! I'm telling you it was red !

    - I will take it into account, replied the repurgator with detachment. Rechald, will you...?

    The soldier nodded and bent over, inviting the unfortunate to release the man with the hat. Suddenly a sharp scream broke through the night, making him scream again. With a flash of light the hammer went on again.

    - Hunting start again ! roars John as he bounces on his feet, freeing himself from the poor man's embrace.


    *​


    The creature jumped backwards. She jumped against a wall and threw herself on the balcony facing it. She rolled and got up immediately, growling towards Manesh' k. Taking advantage of this unexpected rest, the vampire let his shoulders relax. He had shaking wrists due to his heavy parry, and his armour was now covered with scratches.

    - Are you having fun?

    He did not lift the spade while his companion was falling from a nearby roof. The creature climbed up the balustrade and clapped his jaws, making the newcomer startle.

    - What is that again ? He exclaimed with anger as he drew up his sword.

    - Good question.

    - I mean, whatever... Claster's dead, and for good. What about Gilnash?

    - Still underground, replied Manesh' k with a grin. We were separated by this thing. What happened to Claster?

    - An ambush in the girl's house. The sigmarite was waiting for us. There's a repurgator with them. Besides, with the noise you've been making, they should be here soon.

    Manesh' k did not answer, thinking. The red and black demon didn't seem to want to run away from them. He was just staring at them as he scolded, waiting for the next assault.

    - Why are you bothering to play with that, by the way, while they were trying to eliminate us ? asked his companion in a threatening tone

    - I don't play. It regenerates with every fatal wound instead of going back to nothing.

    - Ah...

    - You say we're going to have company, the same people who killed Claster ?

    - According to the beating hearts concert that is approaching, there is no doubt about it.

    - Then prevent this filth from running away by the roofs, ordered Manesh' k who came forward by whistling his blade.

    - So make sure that the man with the hat, the priest and the sorcerer do not die, said the other man before he obeyed. They're mine.

    With a roar of anger, the demon leapt to Manesh' k who parried the first sword while the second one broke the air in his back. Rotating in the opposite direction, the creature depicted a circular arch of his first sword at head height. The vampire had already squatted down. He leaned on his free hand to give a violent heelstroke into the tibia of his opponent, which produced a sinister crack. Carried away by her swing, the creature stumbled beside him, her leg having reaped a dubious angle. But the pain did not change her willingness to stab the undead, as she rolled on herself by extending her arm and the orange blade split a pavement of the alley in two. Swearily, Manesh' k carried his hand to his calf. The metal was boiling where it had been cut and it hurt like hell. But he didn't have the muscle cut off.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  12. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    Another good fight scene.

    Where you say protagonists in the last paragraph of the second section I think you mean antagonists?
     
  13. vg11k

    vg11k Zombie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Indeed Count Vashra. Thanks. I update this sentence right now.
     
  14. Count Vashra

    Count Vashra Lord of Shadows True Blood

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Messages:
    1,536
    You're very welcome. Always happy to help.
     

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