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TVC - Chapter 51 - Aftermath

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#51
Phillibert eyed the stranger suspiciously, his swordhand on the pommel of his blade.
Tybald on the other hand, still in the saddle nodded briefly to the stranger,
his words overflown by the Bretonnian accent: "Greetings monsieur. I am afraid I stand
as puzzled as you at the Imperial way of cordiality." Tybald eyed the men from top to
bottom slowly. "I may assume you are a guest seeking an audience as well then?"
But it was not a question, but a fact he stated. Tybald turned his gaze back at the gate.
"I wonder myself wether we should scream for attention or prepare a battering ram."
Tybald gigled softly, a high pitched gigle that seemed more commonheard from a child.

The vampire turned back to face Viktor. His face stern and polite, a curl of a courtious
smile curling on his lips. "I am Tybald de Lusigny, lord of Chinon, chevalier de dragon de sang.
And who has the honour of being presented my name monsieur?"
 

Simon von Carstein

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#52
Nodding Simon led Lesa from the room followed by the sullen Saul.

The Throneroom of Drakenhof was slowly filling up with various von Carstein vampires and cultists. Drakenhof guard stood at various points around the room several of them standing before the great obsidion throne that the various Counts of Sylvania had sat in as a mark of their high office. In the galleries above Akarin's assassins stood watching the proceedings carefully. Simon led Lesa to one of the unoccupied galleries "I must go. I'm needed below." he said disappearing.

Simon walked over to join Mircea and Karl who stood by the throne. Simon watched the crowd as Nar-Zuul emerged nearby "We have some visitors outside." he announced.

Simon looked up "Is it the council?" he asked. Nar-Zuul shook his head "No these ones are unknown to me. But they are not Carstein. There are however all demanding entrance to the castle."

"They come here to the centre of von Carstein power on earth and demand entrance." glared Simon "hm! Very well show them in. But keep them under heavy guard at all times and do not allow them to interupt the coronation." Nar-Zuul bowed and disappeared from view.

The gates of Drakenhof opened before the three vampiric knights and the two mortals bidding them to enter.
 
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#53
Viktor smiled at the Bretonnian's self importance, another lord raised on a pedestal by status alone, but to be a blood dragon he must have done something to prove himself worthy. Viktor chose to politely return the formalities, simply because the man may truly deserve to be proud.
"I am Viktor Kovach, former Marquis of Kislev, before I was, shall we say," Viktor paused for effect, "promoted.'"
The gates now opened to the vampires tempting them inside, before he entered Viktor warily eyed the other vampire and the two peasants weighing them up, they didn't appear out of the ordinary.
"May I enquire to the names of your comrades." Viktor politely asked the knight as he entered Drakenhof alongside them.
 
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#54
Tybald replied towards Viktor with a gracious nod as the man stated his name.
"Well met then Viktor, where it not for circumstances, I believe we may yet draw
steel for the same house." The following laughter was amusing and showed no sign
of ill design, perhaps a rather odd form of humour. "I look forward to a more
informal meeting when the time presents itself."

Tybalds eyes shifted as the gate opened. "I would hang those guardsmen for their
incompetence", muttering to his neighboring company. He then turned his steed and
started trodding towards the open gateway. Phillibert followed swiftly, making certain
the peasants where following with the mule.

As Viktor questioned Tybald about his companions, the vampire did not toss the merest
glance to any of them, nor Viktor, as his obsession of the infamous Drachenhof castle now
finally lay open before him, and his eyes where feasting on its legendary towers and walls.
"His name is Phillibert Dutroille, a loyal servant of mine." His mortal minions where not
even mentioned. His voice soft as butter he continued:"I see you travel alone Monsieur Kovak.
That speaks highly of you." Regardless of his soft tone, he was expecting a more galant
welcome committee. Perhaps the rumours where overstated, perhaps this new count was a mere
jest compared to any of his predecessors. He shrugged and hoped that his eyes may have deceited
him.
 

Gree

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#55
''We seem to be attracting guests,'' Mircea noted. He turned to Karl. ''Are you ready?''

''Yes, I am'.' the Baron affirmed.

''Good,'' Mircea said, turning to Simon. ''Let's hope this all goes smoothly brother, I would hate to see another series of interruptions.''
 
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#56
What a surprise, Viktor thought, he conveniently 'forgets' his servants in his arrogance. Obviously being common and alive would make one invisible to the naked eye. The vampires and the 'unimportant' humans headed inside the castle looking for someone to welcome them into the shadows of Drakenhof.
"I only journey alone because my old friends are with their gods now, slain by the monster who 'rewarded' my bravery." Viktor paused briefly, reliving that ill-fated day. "The truth is that I had never been more afraid in my life, and nothing in this world will ever inspire as much fear as I felt facing my sire."
By now Viktor was grateful the council was inside to allow entry, to have searched for his fellow vampires without his goals bearing fruit would have driven him further into loathing of his current existence. Having avoided population centres in his travels his appearance was shabby, but this was easily remedied; Viktor's body remained intact. His self-denial prevented friendship, camaraderie, love, this was driving him mad; Viktor's mind was on a precipice. The mortals' hatred of his kind was only surpassed by their blind faith in the gods whom never truly protect them, yet they follow these false deities out of desperation, not like Viktor whose soul had been destroyed.
"Tell me Tybald of Bretonnia," Viktor said as his mind returned to reality, desperate for some interaction, "Do you enjoy moving within human society?"
 
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#57
As Viktor explained his short story of the journey and stepping into his unlife, Tybald seemed
to show little response, briefly considering things lost and gained, emotions not quite
unfamiliar to himself, but rather surpressed and in turn near forgotten. When the new
companion however finished his tale and fed Tybald with a pair of questions, both riders came
to a sudden hold. The vampires shared a momentary glimpse at one another.
Phillebert began to snort, whilst Tybald tried in vain, but could not surpress a burst of
laughter loud enough to fill the courtyard. Phillibert joined in on the laughing stroke.
But it merely lasted mere moments, for both to stop their snickering as it followed
their moment of pure joy. "Oh my, my Kovak. I'll be certain to tell you one night over
some refreshment." He still chuckled slightly and tossed Kovach an amused smile.

The vampires dismountes their horses and Phillibert pointed to what resembles like
something of a stable, or at least once. The mortal servants went to work at instantly,
urging and even begging the horses to follow them to be stabled.
Whilst waiting for the servants to return with their material from the mule, Tybald checked
the tightness of his metal gloves uncontrollable, his eyes reaching towards a large door that
may allow entrance into the castle itself. Phillibert enclosed to Kovach and reached the man
his forearm as if to greet him as the warrior they recognised him.
"A pleasure to meet you monsieur. Altough lone wandering nightwalkers are not overly common
where we hail from, they always have a place to turn to should they wish to share the company
of others. And as of now,.."He dared toss a glare at the highest peak visible on the tower,
bats fluttering lit by moonlight. "There may be to many to my taste."
 

Simon von Carstein

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#58
The court of von Carstein fell silent as slowly Vlad strode into the room. Standing before them in front of the Obsidian throne he surveyed the various vampires.

"Some of you I have met before." he said quietly "However I can see many new faces here today. The family of today is not the same as the family that I once knew."

Simon and Mircea took up positions on either side of the Count. "For the last year." said Simon speaking "I have been acting as Count on behalf of our lord until he was ready to return and claim the right and responsibility of ruling Sylvania and the house of Carstein. I killed and slaughtered all who stood in my way and I have led you against the forces of Nagash himself. This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement and I now surrender my charge to my Lord."

Nodding to Mircea Simon removed his metal gauntlet and took off the von Carstein ring and placed it on the finger of Vlad. Mircea removed his scabbard containing Vlad's sword and attached it to the Count's armour. Joined by Karl the three vampires moved to stand in front of Vlad and dropped down to one knee before him. Seeing this the entire court followed suite.
 
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#59
"So where exactly are the others here?" Viktor asked Tybald, not expecting an answer merely stating his worry at the lack of some formal agreement, let alone guards on the fortifications. "I thought there'd be at least someone present to meet us, maybe I should have tried blowing on the gates if a breeze was all we required."
Viktor's thoughts trailed back to his misfortune in life and unlife, why was he so negative yet desperate to remain in this world. He already knew, Viktor's ultimate goal in life now was revenge, the most bitter of desires. It was driving him mad, hence his small comfort in knowing the council could at least distract him from this goal until he was strong enough to surpass his sire.
A final thought before beginning his search of the castle, could he ever regain the respect of the Kislevites who hated what he had become.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#60
There was a clash of armour as Viktor and his companions suddenly found themselves surrounded by Wights. Two figures appeared from the darkness one was obviously a Wight King of northern extraction as he wore armour worn by the chaos fanatics of the north. The other was a winged wraith "I am Nar-Zuul." it said calmly and politely.
 

Gree

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#61
As he handed the sword to Vlad and dropped to his knees Mircea reflected that it was the end of an era. For centuries he had carried that blade after Vlad's death at Altdorf and it had served him well, tasting the blood of mortals, greenskins and beastmen. Kings and champions alike had fallen to that blade. It was no great loss, he reflected. He had other blades at hand at his disposal, rune-enscribed blades and swords that were darkly enchanted. Any of them would serve just as well.
 
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#62
Both Blood dragons had their hands on their swords in no time, their gaze quickly trailing past
those who surrounded them, only to come to a hold on the insubstantial form who adressed them.
It was tybald who spoke with a tone of diplomatic authority after a brief, polite nod of his head.
"I am Tybald de Lusigny, a diplomatic envoy and request an audience with your master:
Simon von Carstein, lord of this domain!"
 
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#63
Viktor wasn't so quick to react, having been distracted by his own deep thinking and he'd been lulled into a false sense of security by the lack of guards moments earlier. Instead of unsheathing his swords late and making a fool of himself, Viktor supposed he was safe having aided the council previously.
"I am here to rejoin the council," Viktor boldly called out, "If Simon von Carstein is leader of this council as Tybald implies then I am here to swear fealty to him."
 

Simon von Carstein

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#64
"You will find no council here. This is the ancient Keep of the von Carsteins." said Nar-Zuul coldly.

The three vampires became aware of other creatures gathering around them. With a start Viktor recognised them as the same breed of creature who had attacked the council and himself. The Baalak Gul took up position blocking the only way out.

Nar-Zuul continued "Simon von Carstein is no longer the leader of the house of Carstein. He has abdicated in favour of another if you still wish to swear fealty then it will be to the new master."
 
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#65
Tybald was no blind fool. He noticed how Nar-zuuls' honeytalk kept them focused as all around them
more forms gathered, every exit became blocked by things of whom none could be related to a
welcoming party.

"What is this trickery?" Tybalds voice lost its smooth touch as it bouldered around the courtyard.
The grip on his sheated sword tightened, the eyes of both vampires stared around, for the first of
their ambushers to step within their reach. "I am not here to swear fealty to any man nor beast!
If this Simon is no master here, then who is?"

Phillibert gently slid his sword a few inches from his scabbard, preparing it for a quick draw,
and likewise making those around him know that he is ready and prepared to accept their charge.
The servants observed the spectacle from the stables, but wisely tried to stay hidden from view.

"Is this how you welcome guests Nar-Zuul? With threats and trickery?" Tybalds voice boomed loudly
along the courtyards' inner walls. His eyes shifted to Nar-Zuul and he released his sword, staring
deep in to the unfathomable pools of the monsters' eyesockets for mere seconds.
 

Knightofni

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#66
"Disgusting"

Saul muttered under his breath as he watched the unnecessary pomp and ceremony of Vlad's 'coronation'. The way in which the von Carstein's paraded Vlad like some kind of king was frankly embarrassing; pathetic sycophants, he mused and Saul turned away from the proceedings with a scornful expression on his face.

He half glanced at a bemused Lesa as he made to leave the gallery.

"If you'll excuse me, I should go and rescue Trinity before she loses herself in one of Drakenhof's less than savoury dungeons; or worse... the Library."

Saul gave a single respectful nod and left the room, leaving the coronation behind him.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#67
Nar-Zuul looked at Tybald with a disquieting gaze. "Count Vlad von Carstein is the new ruler of these lands. His coronation is in progress and you were not invited therefore you shall remain here until he deems it appropriate to see you."
 
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#68
Now Viktor was worried, he had expected at least a small measure of hospitality from the council, instead he now had to endure the hospitality of the Von Carsteins. Then what had happened to Mircea, was he aware of Vlad's resurrection, how was that even possible, were the Von Carsteins the enemy. All these questions and more buzzed in Viktor's head as he looked for a way out of this predicament.

Viktor took a slow, deep breath to calm himself and collect his thoughts. These abominations facing him now, these beings that bore a resemblance to both men and ghouls, were the servants of the Von Carsteins and hence that would appear to make them all his foes. Mircea was surely aware of Vlad, Mircea must have felt the presence of his liege, so would he have made an effort to contact him... yes, at least to feign loyalty, at most to genuinely swear fealty, he would be no help, in fact he'd probably want Viktor's head.

Now to the hardest question of all. Should Viktor try to escape and be slain with ease, or should he fight and be slain with greater ease, or... should he bow down to Vlad and surrender to a being he'd never even seen? Viktor smiled, for now he'd have to simply choose a stance of self preservation, calmly and slowly, Viktor took his sheathed blades and carefully placed them on the ground.

"Very well," Viktor spoke with calm to hide his shame at defeat and self-loathing for surrendering, "I would like to see your liege when he is ready for me, so that I may bow to the Lord of Sylvania."

Yet another loss of honour, but this wound would fester for eternity. One could repay a defeat in battle, but to swear loyalty to a man would be to serve him 'til death, to swear loyalty to Vlad, an immortal vampire, would be to serve him forever.
 
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#69
"Count Vlad von Carstein is the new ruler of these lands."
..the words kept echoing in Tybalds mind...

He wanted to reply that this cannot be. His eyes where wide open,
shocked by this sudden and unexpected news. He turned his head to
Phillibert, and with but a mere gesture of his hand, the other vampire
released the grip on his swordhilt.
"Fine then. I shall wait. But this?" He gestured to the pack
of wights and ghouls that surrounded them. "Is this necessary?"

Regardless of his actions, a voice in his head kept repeating:
"Vlad? Back?..Impossible..."
 

Count Darvaleth

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#70
Drake, annoyed at having been ignored by an abnoxious servant, waited in the hall. It was not long before the von Carsteins gathered.

Drake stood where his title conducted; not too near Vlad, but not at the back of the hall.

As the von Carsteins slowly entered, Drake remained silent. As Vlad entered, he gasped. It was true.

As the hall went to its knees, so too did he. In awe of his master.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#71
Vlad stared out towards the court before looking down to the three vampire lords kneeling in front of him. "The three of you have shown tremendous promise and loyalty over these many years." he said "The greatest test still lies ahead but if any of us survive the end days then you shall be richly rewarded." He looked down to Karl "Karl von Teuf Baron of Teufhof. I name you Karl von Carstein Regent of Sylvania in my absence you shall rule over all of Sylvania as well as your Barony. In your absence I leave Sylvania in the hands of whichever member of your family you think to be most capable. You shall be in charge of all day to day activities and act as one of my advisors RISE! and take your place at my side" Karl stood up and moved to join the Count.

Vlad now looked to Mircea. "General von Fausing five hundred years ago you led the armies of Sylvania to many victories on my behalf. Since my death you have done everything possible to maintain the safety and security of these lands including going up against your own commanders if they were not acting in the best interests of these lands. You have changed your name since those times and I will make it official. RISE! Mircea von Carstein Supreme Marshal of Sylvania. You will command the armies of the von Carsteins and shall answer to no one save me on all military matters. I also grant you the fortresses of Licheberg and Vanhaldenschlosse to act as your headquarters in Sylvania and as defensive bastions for Drakenhof." Mircea rose and nodded before joining Karl beside his Grandsire.

Vlad finally turned his attention to Simon "Simon von Stryker on the day you joined us I nearly slew you for insubordination. If it had not been for the counsel of your mother I would have made a terrible mistake and we would not be having this conversation. You have acted with great courage, loyalty and devotion to restore the family and I. Whilst others have fought with and dwindled the power they inherited you took a step back and waited for a moment to make things right again. You have unified the greater part of our noble house and dealt with the traitors. I am in your debt and for your reward I give to you the lands known as the Border princes. You have already largely conquered them. I want you to build a new province there that can act as a defensive barrier in the south. If we survive against the Darklord I intend to continue the campaign for the Empire. In time you may have to expand my conquests southwards into the Badlands. I shall also grant you the Necromanse in the east of Sylvania to act as your home here. For an official title I name you Simon von Carstein Imperator of the South it is an honour that is long overdue is it not?" Simon looked up "No honour from you my lord could ever be overdue but always at the right time." Vlad smiled "Rise Imperator of the South!" Simon stood up "what would you have your Imperator do?" Vlad looked him in the eye "For now stand with your brother and uncle at my side." Simon bowed and took his place beside Vlad.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#72
Lesa watched the ceremony, nodding distractedly as Saul left. The affair had all the pomp she expected of the Carsteins, and the titles that Vlad handed out were certainly grandiose. The most amusing this was that he in reality had given them nothing but what they already had, in truth they had in all fact lost some standing or power.

However she had heard something which worried her, and what she had feared. If they succeeded against Nagash, Vlad planned to continue his plans against the Empire. If that did happen then on some day in the future they would be enemies........
 

Simon von Carstein

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#73
"Of course this is necessary!" said Nar-Zuul "I don't know who you are, Who you serve or why you are really here. You could be here to swear allegience to the Count or you could be assassins in the service of Neferata, the Council or Nagash himself."

"At last we are gathered for the end. Whether it will be Nagash's or ours is yet to be seen." said Vlad standing before the von Carsteins. "Needless to say the world will see a new power dominating it." he said continuing. "The Empire is weak it will not long survive another assault from the north nor will it be able to stand against Nagash. Therefore I shall claim the throne once again. We will build a new kingdom of the Dead that will last eternally. Mankind will be led into a new golden age of dominance over all life in this world and it will be commanded by the Arisen."

Simon stepped forward "LONG LIVE THE NEW EMPEROR!" he shouted "LONG LIVE THE NEW EMPEROR! the von Carsteins echoed rising to their feet. "HAIL VLAD! HAIL VASHANESH!!!!!" The vampires chanted. As Vlad turned and left the room closely followed by Simon, Mircea and Karl.
 
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#74
"Assassins?" He chuckled amused. "Well then, either Walach left a bad taste in your mouth creature,
or you pay no heed to the chivalry and code of honour of a chevalier de dragon de sang.
I suposse a guests waiting room is to much to ask? Hmm?" He waved his own suggestion away with his
armoured hand and muttered something quietly about Imperial barbarism.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#75
"Chivalry is an interesting fantasy youngblood and a blood dragon will twist and bend their own code of honour if it means getting what they want." said Nar-Zuul.

Simon appeared behind Lesa "The Count will see you now Lesa." he announced.
 
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