It's time once again to ferret out those murderous vampires in a new VAU - Vampires Amongst Us. A cross between Cluedo and a roleplay, sometimes gory and often hilarious! Find out more and sign-up! here.
So Odric was a crossbowman then. Interesting. Most Vampires used magic for ranged combat. But then, crossbow bolts couldn't be dispelled. And there was no risk of a miscast. "That is good," Niklaus said to Odric.
Odric nodded in response, hoping the conversation would end there.
"That is good" What is that supposed to mean? I am so glad he approves of my fighting choice, the noble night mage, paragon of power, champion of the shadows. A method of combat is not good or bad, it is effective or ineffective. Hopefully the interrogation will end here, or this journey may involve an early death.
After a long stretch of silence a slight frown marred Varelsa's perfect features, he had expected the Council as a group of like-minded allies to be more communicative but the mutant and wight had neither engaged each other or he himself.
Turning to look at the other two the large man smiled slightly "So tell me, do either of you have experience with the Sisterhood? I suspect there must be reasons that you chose, or where chosen to go on this diplomatic mission to treat with the Queen?"
Mikhail groaned miserably as the world continues to spin around him as he was trapped within the confines of the carriage. Glaring at the vampire Varelsa, Mikhail cursed him and every last one of his kind for this cruel torture he was being put through.
"I hate carriages" he muttered whilst mentally stopping himself from throwing up, he almost nearly did until his train of thought was interrupted by Varelsa. Distracted by his current woes by something he disliked Mikhail was able to temporary get over his motion sickness for the moment.
"Queen?" he replied slightly confused "I only acknowledge the Ice Queen of Kislev as a worthy ruler, long may she reign" grasping the Seal around his neck with fierce pride "I'm surprised you have royalty, I thought your kind were too busy scheming against and killing each other to worry about things like that"
Varelsa raised an eyebrow "Well that's rather moronic. How can you only recognise one Queen? You may only serve one Queen this is true but the ruler of Kislev is hardly the only ruler in the world." the vampire shook his head slightly "The logic of mortals is quite beyond me at times."
Varelsa smiled faintly "You are correct though, many vampires do have rather...untrustworthy motives towards each other but you show your ignorance in believing we don't have rulers." the nobleman paused slightly as he gathered his thoughts before continuing "Even today you can look at the Triumvirate, the von Carstein Ascendency, in ten short years, has conquered huge portions of the Old World under the leadership of three vampires whom all others within their land obey. However the story of the Queen we go to meet goes back to before the bloodline of your Tzarina was anything more than the blood of wild tribesmen."
"Long ago, far before The Empire, Bretonnia or Kislev where anything more than roaming tribes of Barbarians there was an Empire called Nehekara which was comprised of many City States. One of the fairest of these Cities was called Lahmia, it was here that vampire-kind was born and the one who created our race, and who is the first and greatest of us, was the City's Queen. She then made the other "Masters" who would found the individual bloodlines."
The nobleman paused, in truth the Kislevite barbarian didn't look intelligent enough to understand what he was being told but Varelsa felt it was too important for a man on a diplomatic mission to the most powerful Vampire to ever walk the earth to be ignorant of this history.
"Regardless, the city flourished under the rule of the Queen but, eventually, she made a mistake as all rulers eventually do and unfortunately this mistake was enough to set of a series of events which led to the City's destruction. The bloodlines went their separate ways at this point, some of the masters became rulers of other lands and the Queen began to found a new Empire in Araby with plans of stopping Nagash should be succeed but, as we know, he didn't and he was destroyed for a time."
"After this a Kingdom was sired by Lahmia's Lord of Masks, a great man called Ushoran, he created the Kingdom of Strigos where vampires could rule and mortals could benefit from his advanced knowledge, he turned barbarians into a proud peoples. My kind and the living lived in harmony but the Queen, even without her Kingdom, still thought of herself as the Queen of vampires and eventually through Ushoran's greed for power, the influence of a being we long thought dead and the Queen's spite this Kingdom was destroyed. There were other's who interfered too but that is unimportant for now."
"The Queen then took the dwarf stronghold which we know as the Silver Pinnacle. From here she, and her Sisterhood, rule the world from the shadows. Every mortal kingdom be it The hard land of Kislev, the Knightly kingdom of Bretonnia or the Great Empire of Mankind...they are all puppets, to a degree, of the Queen. Decisions of rulers and great nobles are manipulated by Nefereta's whims and wishes."
Varelsa leant forward slightly "You must understand that this is the type of person we go to parley with. An immortal woman who has held her title for thousands of years after her kingdom fell, a woman who created the state of vampirism, a woman who has shaped the course of history of every Kingdom in the Old World. A woman who's pride is more important to her than anything."
Varelsa rested back into his chair and sighed "There is no being in the world I consider more dangerous than the one we go to meet now. We must be careful in our mission, it is no underestimation to say the fate of this Council's purpose rests on what we do here today, if we fail then all may be lost."
Mikhail was getting more angrier as Varelsa continued to talk "Moronic? I choose to only acknowledged my Tzarina as a worthy ruler, how is that any different compared to any of you walking corpses. Us mortals " he growled clearly filled with with undisguised loathing and scorn "have rulers as well, I doubt your kind chooses to recognise any of their rule. You are so smug with your so called superiority you barely acknowledge us so called mortals." clearly wanting to prove Varelsa's mortality in a rather brutal fashion
As Varelsa continued, Mikhail was going to offer his rather constructive opinion on the subject, however the only response he could think of was to cut this talkative vampire's head off in a rather gory fashion, though this idea was getting more and more attractive the more the vampire talked especially with his remarks about his queen and lands being some scheming vampire's puppets.
Grinding his teeth in anger Mikhail glared daggers at Varelsa his hand on the haft of his axe as he silently thought of various curses and brutal dismemberments.
Varelsa sighed softly, his efforts were wasted on the barbarian it seemed. A shame, he didn't wish for the poor man to get himself killed through his own willful ignorance.
He would have to do his best to keep the Kislevite away from Nefereta at all costs.
"It is moronic because it makes little sense, the sheer arrogance of your statement is astounding." the vampire said with a shake of his head "It is understandable that you would recognize only one ruler as your master but to say she is the only ruler worthy of recognition in the world? As for our being different to your kind? I recognize many rulers. The Emperor Karl Franz is an awe inspiring leader, a being who proves the raw potential of mankind...then there is the King of Bretonnia, the masters of Tilea's cities, the Lords of Estalia and the Sultans of Araby. There are many kingdoms in the Old World and beyond, it is a simple fact to recognise all these rulers, are they all worthy of respect? No. But royalty is royalty and the aristocracy rules regardless of personal opinions".
The ambassador shook his head "Just because one recognizes another's right to rule does not mean one has to follow them, it does not mean that one may not try to seize that land from them and take that right away."
The vampire smiled although there was a certain sadness to the expression. "You are right however, many of my kind do feel superior to the living...the enhanced physical abilities and the long-life tend to impart a certain arrogance to vampires...you may even say that the improved lively hood for the mortals under...say the von Carstein's new rule is just a chance for the Triumvirate to feed their own ego in showing that they can rule better than mortal men. They forget that Alcadizaar was but a moral man as was Sigmar."
Varelsa looked away from Mikhail to turn to the window he gazed out at the night. "However you would be wrong in believing that an absolute fact...but caring for the living always has a price and the cost can be too much a burden to stand."
A single figure stepped out of the tree line onto the road that passed through the heavily wooded area. He turned to face the first of the oncoming carriages and smoothly drawing back his longbow he loosed an arrow which arced through the air to land mere feet in front of the Grandmaster Sigmund von Muller.
The knight cried out for his men to surround the carriages causing the transports to grind to a stop, meanwhile he alongside a Templar and a Blood Knight charged towards the lone archer.
Throwing up his hands he shouted for them to stop, slowing the knights approached cautiously to listen to the frantic man.
Inside the foremost carriage Varelsa looked annoyed at the sudden stop.
"Wait here." he bid the council members.
Climbing out of the carriage the Ambassador strode down the road a short distance where the three mounted vampires and the archer where walking back towards him.
"What is this?" he asked "We have a deadline to meet Grandmaster." Sigmund shrugged and waved at the archer, who Varelsa could now see was dressed as one of the Assassin's Order except he had traded a cowl for a hooded cloak. He also immediately recognised the man.
"Jäger?" he asked, he hadn't seen the man in years but Jäger had been the von Drak's huntsman in Drakenhof before Vlad's arrival and retained the position after receiving the dark gift although his quarry had changed, in time he'd been recruited by Akarin.
"Mi'lord." he sketched a bow as he set his longbow on the ground and pulled a bag of his back. Kneeling he swiftly went through the bag as Varelsa exchanged a confused glance with Sigmund.
"And what are you doing here huntsman?" he asked.
Jäger barked a laugh at that, although there was little humour in it, before looking up seriously. "We 'ave incoming traitors, Silibar's men from the forest on the left hand side of the road. Commander Meta and Anastasia are on their way but they'll be late...having to travel by foot since I have...this." the assassin pulled a short metal rod from his sack which he shook violently causing it to extend into a long pole.
Ramming the poll into the ground the vampire spat out a swift incantation causing the object to glow faintly with dark light.
"...and that does what exactly?" Varelsa asked tensely, loosing patience with the small man.
"Shadow interference." he said lifting his bow, he responded hurriedly causing his accent to thicken "Make's shadow steppin' much more difficult, you need second one to get it to work right though."
Varelsa stared at the man as though he were an idiot "Then why in the hells would you use that?"
"Silibar's got a stronger presence that us in this area, he's further away that the Commanders but with shadow-stepping we'd have hundreds over us in minutes." he explained
Sigmund cursed and with a snapped order to his men they rode back to the carriages, commanding the knights to dismount and form up around the Council's transports.
Meanwhile Varelsa glared at the archer "That's not much good to us if we've only one."
"Nah, I've only one. Jack's got the other and he's leading the traitors here. He can get it working once he arrives"
"Why would he be doing that? Is he mad?" Varelsa demanded.
"Well yeah but he's also got that Strigoi girl, what do you call her...Sophia or something."
Varelsa turned to look at the treeline up the slope "Sylvie." he murmured.
"Aye her." he responded disinterestedly, lowering his hood as he emptied his quiver on the ground and drove his arrows into the soil. "Excuse me mi'lord but you really should warn the others...ah nevermind, too late."
Only moments behind Jack and Sylvie the assassins faltered at the sight before them.
Kylar cursed as they came into the clearing to find not only three Drakenhof marked carriages but also a number of Knights.
"It's the damned Council! That's why he brought Sylvie here!" he snapped at the others.
Rikert nodded calmly "Our men aren't far, Silibar knew they'd try to make for the Pinnacle. We'll hold them here and wipe out whomever is in those carriages. Then we'll..." he cut off as an arrow whipped past his face and crashed into the eye of a New Blood who fell screaming before suddenly going silent.
Frowning the seeker leant down and pulled the arrow free, seeing the silver tip he stepped out of the treeline further to look down at the archer before throwing the arrow to the ground angrily in the first true display of emotion.
"Jäger!" he spat hatefully.
Sieghard frowned as he placed a bolt into his crossbow "But Jäger's a Captain as well...two captains in one area? Satsu must have sent them in force."
Henrick nodded, rapier in hand, "It matters not. Most of our Order are in these lands, with Shadow-Step they can all be here in minutes...however that last Carriage."
Rikert nodded, once again in control of his emotions. "You're right." turning to Kylar he gestured down the hill to the road. "Send in your New Bloods, we'll go in after and pick the Council Members off." Kylar was about to snap at the archer for commanding him when Henrick spoke.
"Wait." the Hunter said "That last carriage...do you sense it?" The three Senior Assassins looked at it before Kylar grimaced "What the hells is that?"
"The Champion...he's here." Rikert murmured glancing at Henrick and nodded.
The hunter stepped forward, roaring words from the Lore of Aqshy and pointed at the third carriage causing a wall of flame to erupt around it, meanwhile Rikert whispered a chant from the Lore of Ulgu causing a dome of Shadow to form around this flame wall, enclosing the carriage.
"Even if he somehow survives that, he won't be able to help the others. We can kill him last, it'll take us all to do so." The others nodded in agreement before Kylar unsheathed his bow and cracked his whip at the New Bloods. "Attack!" he commanded.
Forty rabid thralls unleashed the beast within and with monstrous roars charged towards the Council.
The traitor's hesitation bought Varelsa the time to run back to the carriages and bang on the doors shouting for the others to prepare to defend themselves from attack, he'd almost reached the Champions when the wall of flame roared into existence.
The Ambassador stumbled back, throwing his hands up to shield himself from the heat.
As he did so the dome of shadow appear, trapping the Divine Mortal within.
Varelsa give a sigh of relief as he thanked whatever paranoia had caused him to have Rowhaine's carriage enchanted against magical attack...still he would only last for so long as there was air...luckily the dome was a rather large one.
Still they'd have to deal with the attackers swiftly.
Ignoring the cries of the thralls Varelsa strode back towards his carriage.
As the surviving members of the scouting squad burst into the clearing, arrows snaked past them to their left and their right, and one happened to hit the assassin toting blackpowder weaponry in the side. He lagged behind, but managed to keep pace with his colleagues, albeit with some difficulty and within a knife's edge of Henrick. Another arrow hit the archer, this time in the knee. He tripped, stumbled, fell, and was stabbed by Markus, all in very short order. "Oh well," Jack muttered, "it's a a price worth paying for these lovely reunions that Silibar likes to organise." He spotted a familiar face standing near a carriage, and ran towards it. "Hello Jäger!" he greeted gleefully (an odd sight, especially with blood trickling down the side of his face due to the cut on his ear), "We have some unexpected guests...I've brought the strigoi AND the family!"
Sigmund and his fourteen knights had dismounted, the area at either side of the road being too forested for the cavalry to be off any use.
The heavily armoured vampiric warriors, blood dragon and von Carstein alike, had lined up in preparation for the charge. It was over forty versus fifteen but even then Sigmund held onto the hope that his knights could hold off the horde long enough for the Council to form.
This hope was torn from him.
When the New Bloods were half way down the slope they suddenly began moving swifter empowered by the Dark Will of their master. Suddenly screams rang out to Sigmund's right, the von Carstien turned to see two of the Blood Knights had burst into flame and were crying in pain as they burned, a moment later the Templar to Sigmund's right dropped unmoving with an arrow right through his visor.
Sigmund opened his mouth to call for the men to reform when a bolt crashed into his right leg causing him to stumble just as the traitors hit them. Sigmund slashed his sword through the air with one hand as he limped back but a thrall knocked the blade from the unbalanced warrior's hand.
Two assassins threw themselves at the now disarmed knight but a Blood Knight stepped in between the two and kicked one away whilst running the second one through the shoulder.
"Get the Grandmaster out of here!" he yelled.
Sir Otto and Sir Gunther, members of Sigmund's inner circle, grabbed their commander and helped him back towards the carriages. Sigmund watched helplessly as the remaining knights were swarmed by dozens of the half-rabid attackers.
Action, at last, Niklaus thought. Though this was sooner than he had expected. "Odric, it looks like we are under attack. An excellent opportunity to test our skills and meet these rebel assassins, I think. I will concentrate on fighting the enemy wizards. Eliminating magic support may be a prudent use of crossbow support. Unless, of course, you have a better target in mind." Feeling his Shadowmancy weakened, he didn't waste energy Shadow-merging. Instead, he walked out of his carriage to see a group of knights being torn apart by an almost feral squad of Vampires. But these weren't Strigoi. They weren't degenerates. They were just bloodthirsty in a very literal sense, and little effort was being made to restrain them, it seemed. He looked around and saw Rowhaine's carriage surrounded by a wall of shadow that surrounded a wall of flame. A double entrapment. The Vampiric Shadowmancer summoned his Lahmian speed - one positive of his condition, at least - and raced over to the Champion's carriage. Niklaus observed the shadow wall, quickly memorising the magic signature - he was a mage, and would deal with the mage. The warriors could deal with the warriors - and then waved his left hand, attempting to dispel the shadow wall. In his other hand, he summoned a shadow sword.
The dome shimmered, as if loosing strength, a small gap opened on the side and a pillar of white hot flame shot straight out towards the Niklaus, meanwhile shards of darkness stripped off the wall of the arcane construct and arced through the air with great speed, aimed for the Lahmian.
The dome reformed, it's boundaries thickening as it grew in strength from the recent arcane assault by shadowmancer.
Jäger nodded with a faint smile as he raised his bow, arrow nocked, and drew back.
"Glad to see you're having fun." he said calmly as he loosed and arrow past the assassin's head and into a stray New Blood's chest that had been foolishly broken off from the pack to pursue the Strigoi and von Carstein.
Lowered his bow he sighed softly, seeing the knights going down in the expected fashion. "You'd almost think they'd prepared for this." he muttered with annoyance.
Jäger gestured with his bow to the other side of the carriages. "Do us a favour and get your disruptor planted at the other side of the carriages. That should expand the interference field wide enough to make shadow-stepping anywhere near us impossible."
Frowning the archer glanced over at the treeline "Then we'll go pay our old friend Rikert and his protégé a little visit." he said softly with an undercurrent of anger, of all the betrayals that was one of the ones that had cut deepest.
Mikhail staggered out of the carriage one hand clasped to his forehead as his world continued to spin due to his motion sickness from the carriages. Doubling on all fours Mikhail began violently vomiting behind the carriage obvious to his surroundings, as he slowly began to regain his composure and dignity Mikhail wiped away at his mouth gazing around with a grin on his face. The Wights dismounted drawing up behind the Northerner wielding massive tower shields and halberds which they had claimed whilst roaming Drakenhof castle, seeing his companions Mikhail saluted before turning towards Varelsa and the others.
"I don't know about you but I am going to enjoy killing your kind" he grinned drawing his blades "I hope we don't have run like last time" Scanning his surroundings Mikhail narrowed his eyes in suspicion as he noticed a whip wielding vampire, not only did it seem like the leader but the vampire reeked of death magic even more than most usually did.
Starting to wave violently at the vampire in an attempt to get it's attention, Mikhail started to yell curses and insults "Coward!!! quit hiding behind your lackeys and face me you corpse lover " he shouted rather loud and obnoxiously at Kylar wanting to fight the vampire or one of the other enemy leaders, whilst the Wights seemingly sensing his stupidity moved forwards to cover him from any ranged retaliation.
Jack listened as Jäger spoke, his mind racing madly as he heard the assassins first words. "Fun?" he said, slightly unsure of himself. Fun! The fun! We're close to the fun, yes yes yes! He shook his head, dismissing the inane prattling within. "If anything, they're - " he gestured at the new bloods swarming ove the templars and knights - " having the most fun. I thought our escorts were supposed to be defending us, not putting on a half-hearted firework show." Grumbling, he moved off quickly. "Theobold, with me," he commanded, and the assassin wielding blackpowder weaponry followed, wrenching the silver bolt out of his side (with gritted teeth) as he did so.
Stepping quickly away from the fighting, the captain removed the disruptor - a glowing, runed pole - from its strap on his back, and rammed it into the ground on the other side of the carriages, barely raising an eyebrow as a torrent of flame leapt out at Niklaus. It pulsed for a minute as its effects asserted themselves on the surrounding area, and a skilled mage could see it acting in combination with its twin to create a bubble of magical nullification around the carriages, preventing all but the most potent form of shadow-step being used by both loyalists and rebels in the vicinity of the Council convoy. In a rare moment of clarity, Jack addressed Theobold: "Guard that, and pick off any approaching enemies. The carriages should provide cover for you to launch your attacks from." The subordinate assassin nodded curtly, and took a position behind a carriage, readying one of his weapons as he did so. His pained stare and slow movements revealed the difficulty that the silver bolt, now removed from his body, was still causing to him.
Jack ran back into the fray, throwing axes in his hands. A new blood, consumed by his own blood thirst, ran towards him at alarming pace. "So eager to play?" he asked. "Fine. CATCH!" he shouted, throwing an adze at the vampire's face. Years of combat training allowed the new blood to swerve out of the way and keep running towards Jack, blades in hand. The captain somersaulted backwards onto the roof of a carriage, having quickly drawn a close combat axe out of his coat just before doing so. The assassin, with the momentum of a charge behind him, leapt up to stab at the crouching captain, but the sound of a quiet yet definite thunk could be heard and the rebel collapsed to the ground, flailing wildly due to the silver bullet in his chest before collapsing. "You ruined the fun, Theobold!" Jack chided to the other assassin, whose worried face and firing arm had peeped out from behind the other Council carriage. "Mind you, teamwork..." the Captain said, imitating in mocking tones the voice of an instructor, "...is the key to success in a combat situation." He sighed. If only those weak-blooded Council fools could understand. Understand? an unwelcome voice yelled in his cavernous skull. Understand what? Understand it? You couldn't understand it! That's why you stabbed him. You don't understand it! You don't understand why! The vampire willed away the creeping madness once more, banishing it to the recesses of his brain, and stole over to Jäger. "It's time to see Rikert!" he hissed to the other captain. "He'll be offended if we're late!" Jack giggled erratically for a moment, then stopped.
Mikhail gave a displeased snarl hurling one final insult at the cowardly vampire before readying himself for the vampire charge watching in bitter amusement before letting out an inhuman howl clashing his blades together.
Parrying the first maddened vampire to attack him, Mikhail swung almost clumsily at his opponent who laughed his the mortals apparent lack of skill whilst ducking backwards swiping out cutting a small cut on the mortals cheek. Mikhail descended into a cold emotionless state as he slowly started chanting a guttural war cry parrying the enraged vampire as his skilled bladework finally came into account. Ducking under the vampires next strike Mikhail rolled behind the vampire hooking the creatures leg with the spiked back of his axe using his brute strength to trip it causing it topple to the ground, acting quickly he momentarily dropped his axe gripping both his hands on his sword driving it down into the fallen vampires chest with a sickening squelch before twisting the blade killing the creature. three vampires threw themselves hoping to grab the mortal by surprises, two were thrown back into their comrades by the huge tower shields of the Wights whilst the third gave Mikhail a shallow cut on his shoulder as he ducked back grabbing his dropped axe adopting a defensive blade stance ready to receive the next attack .
Mikhail's defense was, ultimately, foolish. This was not a 1 on 1 battle, this was not even a 1 on 4 brawl, this was a slaughter of dozens against a single Council member.
His lone assault, with only his wights as protection, had drawn the attention of Kylar and the entire New Blood squad upon him. His standing his ground was pointless as the first handful of eager New Bloods were thrown back.
"Do it properly!" snapped the Captain "Stop playing with him!"
The new bloods growled to themselves as they slowly closed in. Then all at once the ranks charged, the wights threw up their shields but the vampires didn't attack, instead dozens of vampires threw their weight into a smashing into the undead warriors from multiple angles. Whether destroyed or simply knocked to the ground and lost beneath the swarm of assassins was impossible to tell.
The same fate would certainly have befallen the Kislevite when two black armoured knights, one noticeably missing his helmet and with gouges in his plate armour, stepped up to his sides to cut out mighty arcs at the foes who simply leapt back but it bought the Council's allies precious minutes. A third figure grabbed Mikhail by the shoulder and hauled him back "Use the carriage behind us to cover our flank!" Sigmund said swiftly before looking back at what remained of his knights "Otto, Gunther! Back!"
Otto and Gunther retreated back swiftly towards their master as Sigmund limped backwards towards the carriage. "How the hells are you Council members still alive? Don't you work together?" Sigmund muttered raising his longsword in two hands in a middle stance. The Grandmaster had also either lost, or cast aside, his helmet. He smiled grimly at the living man "You attacked them alone...I can't decide if you're stupid or incredibly brave."
Gunther with his ruined armour moved to Sigmund's right whilst Otto moved to Mikhail's left.
Sigmund eyed the New Bloods who had paused in their advance, now faced with four warriors rather than one they seemed less sure.
"Slaughter them!" spat Kylar, easily heard over the battlefield, as he lashed the back of one particularly hesitant assassin. "It's ten to one! Bury them!"
The Templar Grandmaster cursed angrily. "Where the hell is that perfumed diplomat!"
----------------------------------------------------------- "The other one's up? Good job." Jäger said to Jack, he looked at Varelsa and the heavily injured Sylvie. "My Lord...the Strigoi and the disruptor."
"I have the situation here under control, go do what you must." Varelsa replied with a nod.
Jäger nodded and turned to the other assassin. "And Theobold has the other? Good, good." he continued without waiting for a reply, plucking his arrows from the ground to place into his quiver.
"Let's go, we'll go off to the side a little and avoid Kylar's notice. Maybe we can catch at least one of those traitorous scum by surprise." he said before setting off.
For a brief moment, Jack considered helping the bizarre mortal that had engaged the new bloods, and the beleaguered templars that were now defending him. He then dismissed the idea, deciding that they would provide the perfect distraction for what Jäger intended to do. After all, he reasoned, without the new bloods...and then the reason fell to pieces. Logic was not the vampire's strong point, and for a moment, his eyes glazed over, before he snapped back into reality. "Oh yes, Theobold's guarding the disruptor. Let's give Rikert a little visit!" he exclaimed, beaming at the other captain, before returning his axes to their usual holsters and removing a sizeable two-handed battle-axe from his back. He glanced at Jäger's arrows, and quipped, "If they don't get the point, then I can always send a more obvious message." He sniggered at his own joke, and loped off to the right, away from the commotion, and into the woods, using its shadowy thickets to ensure that he remained close to Jäger's position without giving away his own in the process.
Jäger and Jack eventually made it to the top of the hill amongst the trees, well out of range of the skirmish below.
They kept moving, barely making a sound, until the assassin duo reached a small clearing where they could see Rikert standing, leaning casually on his bow as if he had not a care in the world.
"Where is Sieghard, Heinrich and Markus?" he thought to himself, he'd been expecting that the senior assassins, excepting Kylar, would all stick together. Still it made things easier.
Glancing at Jack he shrugged slightly before pointing at the other Assassin, then at the ground they where standing on signalling for the other captain to stay in place.
Silently he slipped away to another place in the shrubbery a short distance away from Jack's hiding spot. The assassin placed a silver tipped arrow onto his bow, drew it back carefully as he aimed for Rikert's heart and loosed.
No sooner had the arrow left the string than Rikert spun on the spot, raised his bow and loosed an arrow of his own in a single fluid movement.
The two arrows struck each other mid-flight, deflecting harmlessly off to the side.
"Come out old friend." Rikert requested "There is little point hiding now."
Jack grimaced as Rikert seemed to acknowledge Jäger's presence. It was possible that the traitor assassin had already noted his own presence, but it was equally possible that this was not the case...oh, the possibilities! a voice screamed within his head. The possibilities of what we could do!
Oh, THOSE possibilities!
...the possibilities! Jack almost laughed, but restrained himself. Careful now, the quarry is moving. The captain grinned, eager for the challenge of trying to kill his former squad member. He signalled to Jäger, pointing from within the thicket at Rikert's location. Jack's plan would no doubt be clear to a fellow assassin: to meet Rikert out in the open, whilst Jack attempted to spring an ambush. The mad vampire readied his weapon, and hoped that his injury would not hinder him or give him away. Blood was trickling down his face, but only in very small amounts now - still, a keen vampiric eye might be able to spot the small flecks of ichor that haunted the captain's footsteps, if they looked hard enough into the shrubbery. He glanced cautiously at Jäger, ready to spring out if the other captain went along with his plan - and even then, of course, only if the time was right for him to do so.
Perhaps insanity did not inspire confidence in Jack's comrades of his reliability. And perhaps, in the case of another assassin, that could make a soldier ineffective and unable to coordinate properly with his colleagues. But not in Jack's case, for one thing remained constant in the crazed haze that was the vampire's consciousness.
In a swirl of viridian mist and robes, Mesmer unsheathed in his hand and bracketed by the two shadow cats, grown now to the size of small lions, Kithan vacated the first carriage. Immediately the delicate silver coronet on his head glowed and a vibrant ball of yellow-green flames exploded in mid-air next to him. The fireball swiftly grew and separated into three hovering flame wreathed females forms. Kithan nodded once and the tri- modulated shriek of agony rose from the three banshees causing a number of the attacking young bloods to keel over in the dirt, clutching their ears. The prince flicked his wrist and a number of his familiar magical black darts flew out to bury themselves in the vampiric flesh. Tangris and Banshees leapt into the fray, ethereal claws ripping through the enemy with the familiar sound of torn silk, huge fangs flashing in the light. The Beloved of Basth moved forward, deep crimson rose blooms opening in the thorny confines of his rapidly expanding cloak. Mesmer lashed out, once, twice, each time removing the head of the sonically crippled blood suckers. " Come my Lord Mikhail, let us remove these ignorant whelps from our path. Such fun..."
Mikhail glared angrily at his rescuer so caught up in his battle crazed fury before realising his situation before controlling himself
"Thanks..... I see not all of your kind are cowards" he grudgingly admitted before hearing Sigmund's comment causing him to laugh "Why not both" he grinned before growling in rage at Kylar
"Oh a slaughter you say.... why not come here and try yourself you cowardly corpse molester, quit hiding behind your lackeys. What's the matter scared of one lowly mortal, how can anyone stand being lead by a cowardly bloodsucker" he cursed and insulted at Kylar whilst rapidly losing patience
Seeing Kithan's charge caused Mikhail to react eagerly rushing to support the wight whilst shouting "I'm not a lord" rather offended.
Laughing madly he swung his axe at the nearest newblood cleaving through it's collar bone downwards with a rather satisfying crunch before kicking the corpse backwards into another newblood. "I like your idea of fun Wight" whilst parrying a newblood which was trying to attack Kithan. Thrusting his sword through the vampires mouth out the back of it's head, spitting on the corpse Mikhail caused it to drop to the ground like a sack of potatoes when Mikhail pulled the blade back
"Join me in battle or stand there gawking, I don't care either way" he shouted behind his back to the three vampire knights.
The cold calm of battle. Kithan felt all the stress and strain from the days of maintaining his dignified demeanour fade away as he glided through the engagement. The delicate siren calls of his three paramours formed a delicate aria for his dance of death. Each time Mesmer's cloudy, yet razor sharp surface cut one of the mewling bat spawn, he imagined that it was the detestable Helena's honourless, miniature corpse writhing in the dust. With a sudden swing of his arm, thorns raked through alabaster flesh, tendrils twining into vambrace and cuirass, wrapping his foes in a web of agony. Pulses of a deep and heady scent confused the senses and slowed reactions, allowing Mesmer to maintain its bloody progress. Mikhail hacked and smashed his way to the wight king's side, white teeth gleaming in his otherwise gore splattered face. Frightened, confused newbloods resorted to trying to bite the ephemeral wight! Fresh thorns and rose blooms sprouted through their ruined cheeks and torn lips. "I am the Lord of Ivrel and I will not be deterred by mere sword fodder" declaimed the liche. Blade, scream and dart were working well, but a momentary lull in the onslaught allowed Kithan to consider the perpetrators of this assault and a swift mental signal to his crown made its opals swirl as he augmented his resistance to magical attack. It was quite possible that there was a trap within this trap and Kithan was not going to be caught.
Jäger gritted his teeth and readying another arrow on his bow. The assassin stood up straight and pushed his way through the shrubbery into the clearing.
"Rikert." he greeted coldly.
The loyalist walked to his right slightly knowing Rikert would twist to follow him and as such would put more of his back to Jack giving the other Captain a better chance at getting the jump on him.
"Tell Kylar and his beasts to stop, take your oathbreaking brethren with you and leave. Do this and you may survive traitor."
Rikert raised an eyebrow. "I think not brother...Kylar will slaughter those fools down there. I've seen their mindless fighting methodology, they stand no chance...take this offer instead, if you both surrender then you and Jack may live for old time's sake. The rest die."
Jäger didn't reply, indeed he didn't even finish for Rikert to finish speaking, he loosed an arrow and immediately nocked another before releasing it and then again. Three arrows sailed through the air straight towards his enemy.
Rikert shot the first arrow out of the air, he swung his bow to slap the second away but the third slammed straight into his shoulder causing him to stumble back. As soon as it hit Jäger fitted a silver tipped arrow onto his string and loosed once more, the last arrow took the traitor in the heart. Rikert's eyes flared open, his hand shot up to grab the shaft too late before he collapsed backwards.
Jäger relaxed as the other von Carstein died and lowered his bow before freezing.
"Why has his body not turned to dust..." he thought to himself feeling confused, having an idea the assassin closed his eyes and focused on the corpse and had his suspicions confirmed as he sensed concentrated Ulgu. "An illusion?!? When did he cast it?"
His training saved his life, Jäger spun around as he heard a light footfall and twisted out of the way of Rikert's sword thrust so that the blade narrowly missed him. Rikert, the real Rikert, back handed Jäger across the face sending him reeling and then smashed the flat of his blade into his opponent's bow knocking it from his hand before kicking Jäger in the stomach to make some room between the two.
Jäger tore his messer from it's sheaths and took a quick high guard, praying that Jack would intervene before he lost his head he leapt forward, swinging at Rikert who parried his attack with ease.
Jack almost swore under his breath. Rikert was moving dangerously fast, and he was not sure that he could get the right angle to surprise him. What was worse - he seemed to be deploying magic, so he might not even be the real Rikert. He had to charge in, however, or Jäger would die. Nothing for it...nothing for what? What's for nothing, stupid? Everything's for something.
Something for nothing...nothing for something?
Nothing for what?
Nothing for IT.
Oh, IT! I see!
Yes, nothing for it but the FUN, come along now.
The fun! The FUN! Jack's beam grew impossibly wide as he tore out of the treeline at breakneck speed, hoping to strike at Rikert before he could realise that Jack was even present. He raised his axe above his head and hurled himself at the assassin from behind, with nigh on impossible momentum. He ran within an inch of Rikert, over what looked like a hastily written rune...and then staggered just past him, locked in a lethal embrace with a murky creature, its features undefined grasping at him from behind. He whirled around and punched it in the face with his right hand, holding his axe with his left as he did so. It punched him with its right, and both were thrown back at the same time. It had seemed to mirror his attacks to a degree, albeit with some variation and with less skill. It even bore a strange axe shaped exactly like his, forged from pure darkness. Jack looked at his assailant, and giggled. He might be done for now, but if this was Rikert's way of killing him, he had to admit, it was rather amusing. The light trickling through the trees would have cast his shadow long, if he were not vampiric. Vampires did not have shadows. "Unless they step on Rikert's silly runes, of course," Jack chortled, sharing the joke with the being before him.
For the monster attempting to bring about his own death was his own shadow. ------
A marksman within the pack of new bloods notched an arrow to his crossbow. In the chaos, the lack of coordination of the council had served him well, and the absence of a formation had given him just the opportunity to pick them off one by one. That one, he decided, aiming the deadly, silver-tipped bolt at Kithan. He is too dangerous, and thus he is my target. The silver in the weapon was deadly to all undead, but the irony about this attack was that the wight had prepared for magical weapons. This, however, was simply naturally lethal to the undead. And with a smirk, he let loose the bolt, straight at Kithan's head.
It would have killed the Lord of Ivrel. If the impact of the bolt hadn't knocked his head clean off, the silver would have destroyed what consciousness lay within. But it just so happened that Mikhail tossed a vampire corpse within the line of fire. The archer cursed, but it was too late. The bolt nicked the vampire's shoulder, and was sent slightly off course.
And that was enough.
The bolt did not miss Kithan, but it was not fatal. It hit him in the shoulder, and perhaps it could do serious damage. However, the archer reminisced, if Mikhail had not been nearby, the threat would have been entirely dealt with. The cooperation between the Council members had already been life-saving. The rebel trembled to think at what it might do if it became more advanced than the simple hack-and-slash arrangement between the two undead. If Kithan and Mikhail, as well as others, made the best use of their abilities as a group, this battle might already be over, the rebel reckoned. But, he reminded himself, the council was unlikely to do that, according to intelligence that members of his order were privy too. The vampires were far too arrogant...and that would be their downfall.
Sigmund glared at Mikhail's back, his men had sacrificed themselves for the Council's miserable hides and he dared speak so disrespectfully to him? His hand tightened on the hilt of his borrowed sword, a blade he'd swooped off the ground which had belonged to one of the fallen Templars, and considered that before this day was done he might bury it in the back of the Kislevite.
"Come." he growled at the surviving Templars "Let's support the Council, make these traitors pay in blood for what they've done."
Jäger was momentarily distracted by Jack's failed ambush and the summoning of his shadow double, in that moment he received a sword hilt smashing into his jaw from Rikert. With a snarl he swung his messer back at Rikert's head who deflected the strike and returned with a lazy thrust which almost took his opponent in the eye.
Jäger and Rikert continued to trade blows but it was clear that the traitor was played with him, the stoic archer was even beginning to smile coldly at his opponent's ineffectiveness as he constantly drove him back.
Jaegar parried a slash to his temple, twisted his wrist and brought his blade whistling down toward's Rikert's skull but the other assassin kicked him powerfully with inhuman strength in the chest sending him soaring backwards to hit the ground hard, landing on his back.
Jäger groaned internally and started to pick himself up when he sensed a flare of Ulgu beneath him and suddenly realized he'd hit another of Rikert's rune traps. The archer rolled away as the spikes of shadow shot upwards out of the ground, whist Jäger managed to mostly avoid the fatal spell he did take one of the arcane spikes through his leg. Gritting his teeth he tore his leg free and stood shakily to glare at the other man.
Rikert smirked faintly but he hadn't closed the distance, content to stand and watch his opponent suffer however his amused expression slipped as he saw the longbow lying only feet away from the other archer.
Jäger rolled towards the bow and swooped it up as he dropped his sword, he came to his feet awkwardly thanks to his injury but still managed to nock and loose an arrow swiftly. Meanwhile Rikert dropped his own sword and tried to pull his bow free from around his shoulder and get an arrow from his quiver but he was simply to slow. Jäger's arrow knocked the quiver from Rikert's back with startling precision causing his arrows to scatter on the ground.
Jäger paused to see how Rikert would react but shockingly the other vampire simply drew his bow back, without an arrow, and took aim. The winds of Ulgu quivered slightly and an arrow of sheer darkness formed on the traitor's longbow which he loosed immediately at the other archer.
Jäger sidestepped, barely avoiding the projectile which struck a tree and simply kept going leaving a hole in the truck behind.
Jäger cursed softly, that was a new one...however he had tricks of his own. Reaching back the assassin pulled an arrow with red fletchings from his quiver, he drew back and with a whispered word he loosed, at the same time Rikert had dropped his bow and was charging forward with sword in hand. The arrow flew true and struck the ground just to the right of the assassin...and then it exploded. With a loud crack like that of a cannon and bloom of flame Rikert was hurdled aside by the explosion.
Having bought a minute Jäger readied a silver arrow-tip covered in a slight white glow, an arrow for dismissing and destroying the arcane. Turning to Jack who had been fighting his shadow-double, he had no idea how well the fight was going for the other Captain and nor did it matter right now, instead he simply loosed the arrow at the shadow-copy.