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TVC - Chapter 51 - Aftermath

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#76
Viktor smiled, a bitter smile, inwardly sighing with hatred for the Gods. He had fallen to darkness, forced to pledge himself to another out of fear for his own life.

Dazh, patron of guests and the needy, he had evicted Viktor from any shelter the moment others discovered his curse, even his own household rejected him, claiming they never met 'that unholy beast'.
Tor, the warrior God, had abandoned him and his entire pulk in their battle against the 'unholy monster' who sired Viktor, no blessing was recieved from the war god, and since that day Viktor had already been bested by the only other vampire he had faced in battle.
Ursun, God of Gods, what had he done but set events into motion to send Viktor to a swift death at such a youn age, and now he was to bow before one of the darkest beings ever to tread the lands of mankind.

As his mind fell further into the shadow a light sprung forth to fight the evil destroying his soul, Viktor suddenly collapsed for a split second and in that short amount of time his chose his destiny.

Viktor Kovach, you're soul may be severed from our deities, called a familiar voice, but that doesn't mean they have forgotten you. A latent part of Viktor's psyche had been resurrected to cast back the shadows, the human within him had returned.
This is a battle the gods cannot fight for you, you must find the inner strength to do this yourself.

Viktor awoke with a flash of pain as he realised he had fainted, but he no longer cared what others thought.
No longer shall my destiny be shaped by others, Viktor thought as he picked up his trusted blades and attached them to his belt and getting to his feet in a crouched stance, never again will I serve the corrupt and decadent lords of this world, only a man of true valour and honour.
I will forge my own destiny, I am the Marquis of Kislev, I am a fallen Boyar, I am a risen vampire, I am the hunter in the dark. I am Viktor Kovach. As these thoughts swirled in his mind, Viktor slowly and purposefully drew himself to his full height, then after a pause he raised his head and embraced his destiny.
"I will bow to your master's cause if, and only if, it is my cause as well." Viktor called passionately staring directly at Nar-Zuul with a newfound confidence. "You are right, too many men have tarnished their codes of honour and chivalry for power, wealth and self-preservation, but not me, no longer shall I yield to the whims of another based on irrational fear of death."
Viktor slowly paced towards Nar-Zuul with calm confidence, ready to die if need be, "I will choose my own fate... when I know what I am fighting for."
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#77
Standing up Lesa followed Simon, quickly trying to think of the best way to approach Vlad. However something else needed to be cleared up beforehand......

"Simon," she said, stopping him with a gentle hand on his shoulder, "I know you are no longer in charge, but like any good leader Vlad will look to his closest for their opinions." She paused for a moment as the Carstein's eyes met hers, "I need to know, if he asks you, will you support trying to rejoin the Council or not? Even you must see that to defeat Nagash we must all be united."
 

Simon von Carstein

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#78
Simon thought hard for a moment "I will support one more attempt to ally with the Council." he said finally. "If however they initiate hostilities with us then I will support any decision made by Vlad."
 

Knightofni

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#79
Ten disappointing minutes after leaving the gallery that overlooked Vlad’s coronation, Saul entered Drakenhof’s library. He had originally headed in the direction of the castle’s dungeons but after conversing with several unnervingly helpful servants, Saul had eventually arrived at the room he least wanted to visit.

The servants he had spoken to had been more than eager to point him in the direction of his missing consort without him even having to threaten them in anyway and frankly Saul was disappointed. He didn’t even have to raise his voice to Simon’s... No, Vlad’s... servants and whilst their subservient attitudes made them perfect menials, Saul couldn’t help but think that they had been rendered less than human.

Humans with no sense of individuality or self-preservation; and that, he thought, was more unnatural than politically-obsessed vampires.

Disconcerting thoughts about servants aside, Saul moved further into the library; his face contorted in mild distaste. The place was pretty unpleasant and there was something stale in the air, probably due to the questionable contents of its many tomes or perhaps it was just the scale of the room... it was vast, one could easily fit a few generously-proportioned Grail chapels in here and still have room to swing a hippogryph by the tail.

Why on earth Trinity would actually want to spend time in such a place was beyond him.

Saul glanced at a pile of recently discarded books as he passed; someone else had frequented the library not so long ago and from the looks of the literary discard, they didn’t find what they were looking for and having lost interest, he walked on.

The library was like a maze of bookcases; many of which were twice his own height and some were taller still, and were filled with tomes of brittle parchment and dusty bindings. There was evidence that someone had made a recent attempt to clean the place up but in a space of this size the dirt and the dust was all but impossible to eradicate.

After a few more minutes of wandering, Saul eventually located Trinity amongst the maze of literature; she sat at one of the desks that were dispersed around the library, perusing over a pile of grimy volumes with a servant in close attendance. He frowned and dismissed the servant with a gesture as the human looked up at him.

How hypocritically arrogant... he mused with a grin, but he really wasn’t in the mood for any more strangely helpful menials.

A look of surprise flitted across Trinity’s face as she realised Saul’s arrival, like she’d lost herself in her surroundings and was startled by his sudden intrusion; that brought a smile to Saul’s face, though his eyebrows creased ever so slightly as Trinity hastily closed the volume which she was reading.

“You’ll be pleased to know that you missed the new Count’s fascinating coronation... it really was a thrill a second.” The sarcasm would have been evident even without the broad grin that stretched across Saul’s face.

“Really?”

“Not at all; hence the reason why I’m here... in this slightly-smelly-abyss-of-pointless-literature looking for you.” Saul sat down in a chair, that may once have been quite handsome but the long years of attention from moths and such had decayed its grace, and put his feet up on the desk.

“So what happens now?” Trinity pushed herself back from the desk she was sat at and lent backwards in her own chair, her fingers steepled in front of her face.

Saul shrugged, what he thought would happen and what he hoped would happen were two different things and both would create potentially difficult futures.

“Now? Probably the Council will be making their way here, hopefully with Peter and his recently rescued beloved in tow...”

Saul paused for a moment, contemplating the possible outcomes of the Council’s inevitable arrival.

“They will do one of two things; they will either attempt reconciliation with the von Carsteins; though I don’t know how that idea will be received by Vlad or Simon... or they will come here looking for revenge, which would be a violent waste of all of our time... Either way, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
 

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#80
"That is good to hear, and a fair decision," Lesa replied, "I think whilst the Council will be understandably upset, they will know it is the only feasible solution." Apart from Vekarin she thought, before she pushed it to one side. That would have to be something that would be dealt later. She only hoped the Blood Dragon could curb his insults before Vlad.

"Though I have no doubt Mircea will oppose the Council," she mused for a moment, "what way do you think Karl will cast his opinion?"
 

Simon von Carstein

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#81
"In many ways Karl is one of the old guard." replied Simon "However he is a reasonable man. He will listen to both sides and generally remain neutral until there are no more view points to be heard on the subject. I believe he will support a reconciliation but only if certain precautions are made." Simon looked at Lesa "There is one problem in the council. Vekarin! He is very unstable. I'm not an expert on chaos artifacts but I believe that those in his possession are influencing the way he thinks and acts. It was something the Red Duke said that made me wonder."
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#82
Lesa was mollified at hearing that Karl would be reasonable, but as the conversation switched to Vekarin, Lesa looked worried at Simon;s words,

"The Duke? Well it is obvious there is no love lost there, and I think we have all seen him and Victarias.........still what did the Duke say?"
 

Simon von Carstein

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#83
"Well it was back in Nuln when the Duke and spoke man to man." said Simon as they walked along. "He said that Victarias had told him that Vekarin had fallen from the traditional teachings of Abhorash and was actually involved in magic not just as a defense but also offensively and that by doing this Vekarin had fallen beyond redemption as it was not the Blood Dragon way. I found this information quite interesting because Vekarin is one of Abhorash's original gets and from I've seen of them they are very fanatical about not using magic."
 

Gree

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#84
Mircea retreated with Karl to the Tower of Ravens after the coronation. Inwardly the Marshal was pleased that the ceremony had gone off without a hitch, unlike the near-disastrous resurrection of Vlad. It appeared things were beginning to look uo for him, which was quite pleasing in all.

''That went well'' Mircea said.

''Quite'' Karl replied, extending his hand out fo catch a raven, which perched on his hand. ''Tell me dear Marshal, what will you do know what you no longer have Vlad's blade? If you wish I can lend you mine''

''Oh, no, I have several backups'' Mircea replied, his mind thinking back to a certain runeblade. ''I think I will be just fine.''
 
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#85
"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.


A flame of hatred flickered in Tybalds eyes at the insult, his hand restrained from unsheating his
blade and decapitating the wraith. "Is it just your ignorance shade, or has whatever resembled a brain
once, rotted to long to serve you any purpose still? Or perhaps your master does wish you to insult
diplomats and envoys as to instigate war upon his lands!?" Tybalds rage in his voice was barely
controlled. His eyes lusted for retribution and altough his eagerness to avenge Nar-zuuls' words
may have forgotten the little chance he stood in this foreign place, the orders given to him
where the only restrains that withheld him from taking action.
"I have shown my willingness to be patient shade, despite your lack of hospitality.", Tybalds
temper seemed somewhat easened, but his voice was cold as stone. "Yet, you find it necessary to
scorn myself and the order I hail from. Had I not been here on my masters request I would see that
pitty shape of your ripped assunder you insolent cur!"
Tybald chest pondered heavily, showing obvious signs of restrain towards the wraith.
Behind him, Phillibert had his sword already drawn, but felt reluctant to act without Tybalds order.
The peasants at the stable tried with all their mustered courage to hide behind some wooden boards
at the stables, and prayed to remain invisible to the players in the unfolding drama at the courtyard
of the castle.
 

Count Darvaleth

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#86
After the coronation, Drake Bloodfang realised there was nothing to do but wait. Patience was never one of Drake's virtues. He had to act quickly, and with a bold move he could secure Vlad's favour early on. Drake started after where Vlad and his first lieutenants had set off. He saw two Vampire Lords; Simon von Carstein, Imperator of the South, and another he did not know.

Drake dropped back to a respectful distance, before calling "My lord Imperator, although I am sure you have many matters of state to be dealing with, I have just one suggestion that could help us... against Nagash." said Drake, bowing respectfully, "I also apologise if my interruption was out of place, but I feel it is a matter which is... significant to all of us, lord." he finished, bowing again.

Drake did not know the other Vampire, but she did not look von Carstein; she looked Lahmian. Bloodfang did not comment, although he had a burning curiosity as to why a Lahmian was in Drakenhof...
 

Simon von Carstein

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#87
Simon surveyed the young blood who had spoken "and what pray would that be?" he asked "I've already slain one dreadlord. What makes you think that you know anything on this matter?"

Nar-Zuul watched the young blood dragon for a moment. "If you think you can rip my form assunder then by all means try." he challenged him.
 

Count Darvaleth

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"Of course, lord Imperator, I do not doubt your skills for a second; it's just that not all of us are capable off facing down a dreadlord alone. That is why I propose this; you must have heard of the mighty Zacharias the Everliving?" Drake smiled wolfishly, before continuing, "And that he is in possession of the Book of Nagash?" Drake said. He allowed what he suggested to dawn slowly, for it just could save the Vampires.

"Send me, and perhaps some other Vampires if you deem it necessarry, to find him. I hear he has recently been more active, so I might be able to get to the Necrach's Tower at a time when he is not there... and perhaps he will have left the Book." said Bloodfang, outlining his plan. "Of course, if he is there, I will send our most gracious greeting, tell him of our fight against Nagash, and see if he will aid us. Of course, for this to work, I will need a significant bargaining tool... a powerful relic, perhaps?" Drake said, before coming to his last point.

"And then, if all else fails, I will have to kill him for the Book." said Drake, fully understanding the undertaking he had just placed on himself, "Which would be why I would need aid; after all, he is known as the Everliving." smiled Drake, allowing his plan to set in. It was a dangerous gambit, but it just might work.
 
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#89
A moment passed. A mortal may have missed it, but Tybald was eager to meet the challenge.
Yet, his common senses held him back.

If the master heard I slew a high regarded servant of
the von Carstein family for petty squables, I would have to be the one to blame. No,
one day, but not now. But this phantomised welp of a bastard seemed to held me for no
reason, but its own joy from seeing Simon, or Vlad, or whatever halfblood ruled this land.
It didnt make sense, but perhaps it didnt have to. It rarely had in the past, but there was
a reason no doubt. One last shot, otherwise, to the nine hells with it. I have done my part,
if they wish to be the ones to refuse, fine, not my fault. The master will see it as an insult
perhaps.
Tybald chuckled at the tought, to return at his masters side at the head of an army,
the sight of Nar-Zuuls tortured spirit only managed to enchant a wide, polite smile upon
Tybalds' lips and a sparkle of cruel hatred in his eyes.

"No, Bodyless peasant-spirits are above my time and interest. Listen servant,
I came to see you master, not you. All you have done is irritated me and disgraced
your master with your swift invites for bloodshed against him. If I am not permitted
to see him, tell me and I will take my leave."

Tybald felt untouchable. No, they would not touch him, it would mean open warfare.
The spirit would send him from the castle and he would not even have to make up a story,
Nar-zuul gave him what he needed.
 

Simon von Carstein

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#90
"Zacharias will not help us. He is a necrarch and they are not to be trusted. However it is likely that the Count will require this potential threat removed and the book brought back here for safety." said Simon "You'll have put your personally to the Count so you had best come with us."

Nar-Zuul looked disdainfully at the youngblood "I am no mere bodiless spirit WHELP! I was walking around when your ancestors were getting about on all fours. The master has only recently returned to us and until he chooses to see you. You will act like the good peasant that you are and remain here until the master is ready to reveal himself to the world."

The Wights moved forward and began to escort the vampires away to the guest quarters.
 

Count Darvaleth

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#91
Drake listened to Simon intently, before saying, "I see, I'm afraid I am not up-to-date on the world of Vampirical Politics, and I agree completely; Zacharias must be removed if he won't co-operate, but perhaps, if any are able, one should attempt to harness the powers of the Book against Nagash? After all, I believe we could benefit from every possible advantage we can get." said Bloodfang, before bowing again and saying, "Thank you for giving me your precious time, I will follow you to Vlad, and I also thank you for giving me the honour of presenting my plan personally." said Drake.

He had made his mistake with Nar-Zuul, and he would not allow it to happen again. Drake was learning fast how to adress particular people, and learning the mighty politics of the Vampires. He fell in step behind the Imperator and the Lahmian, not too close, but at a respectful distance.
 
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#92
Tybald snorted amused as the wraith claimed his imaginary superiority.
"I suposse I cannot blame ancient commoners for their lack of manners and
pretended importance in the world. But be assured, your ignorant slander
will cost you dearly."

At a beconing sign of his hand, the two terrified peasants fell in line with
the group, their hands each packed with a bundle. Both vampires' mood was
somewhat lessened due Nar-Zuul insults, they would prefer to rather take their
revenge by blood, or by turning their backs on a land that seemed the poorest
excuse for a noble house they have ever seen so far.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#93
Lesa listened carefully as the young vampire spoke to Simon, but she did not miss the curious look he gave her. She supposed she could not blame him, to see one of her line in the depths of Drakenhof, with no guards watching her every move who no doubt surprising.

The vampire's plan was an interesting one, but perhaps not a distracting that was needed at this time. They need to pull together, to recombine the Council, not go off on another blasted adventure to recover another ancient relic. Briefly she wondered whether she should tell Simon about the hidden books they had found, the secrets they contained were immensely potent and would be a potential distraction from the plan.

After a moment she dismissed the idea. Potent they might be, but they were compiled by Mannfred and she doubted the Count would have any interest in a object of someone who betrayed him.

"Well Simon," she said finally, "we are near. I hope the Count will hear me fairly and choose wisely..........."
 

Simon von Carstein

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#94
"The Count listens to everyone fairly Lesa and there is no wiser bloodline master." said Simon proudly as they arrived at the Counts quarters. The Drakenhof guard knew to stand aside as the doors opened and the vampires entered.

A map of the Old world dominated the table in the centre of the room. Lesa saw that the Border princes had been marked with the von Carstein symbol showing that it came under their jurisdiction. Vlad had been sitting studying it but rose to greet them. "Imperator I see you've brought guests with you." he remarked "Simon bowed "Yes milord may I present Mistress Lesa Cromwell formerly of the Lahmian Sisterhood who played an instrumental role in your return. She wishes to speak with you regarding the Council." Vlad snapped his fingers and an attendant removed the map from the table whilst another placed decanters and goblets on it. "Please join me I am anxious to hear your words." he said as the vampires accepted his invitation and sat around the table.
 

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#95
Drake Bloodfang continued to follow the Vampires, before they reached Vlad's chambers. He was poring over a map, doubtless planning already. Simon announced the Lahmian to Vlad.

"So, her name is Lesa Cromwell..." thought Bloodfang to himself, wondering why the name rang a bell. As Vlad rose, Drake also bowed, even though he had not been directly adressed. After all, it was only courteous.

Drake stood at the back of the hall, waiting his turn to speak with the Count. Now he could see him up close, Drake was awed; his master was truly the mightiest Vampire in existance. To think what Vlad could do with the Book of Nagash... the thought made Drake shudder with a mixture of delight and fear.
 

Knightofni

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#96
“And if proceedings were to take the more violent course... whose side are you on?” Trinity gazed at him intently, though Saul chose not to return the look; he was silent for a few moments before he grinned.

“I’m on the side that’s least likely to get me killed...” Saul mirrored her emphasis on him, but with more sarcasm; Trinity stared at Saul disparagingly; sometimes Saul could be really unhelpful.

“And which side is that?”

“My side... of course. And if the others agree not to try to kill me then I’ll let them join my side as well.”

She rolled her eyes, and shook her head, “You don’t really do loyalty do you?”

“Why should I be loyal to any of them? ... How many of them would show me the same courtesy?” Saul’s tone was biting, and he arched his head back and laughed without humour at the ceiling.

Trinity ignored Saul’s rhetorical question and asked a question of her own, “But I thought you’d sworn your allegiance to Simon?”

Saul laughed again, brief and acerbic, “Oh I did. I swore my allegiance to Simon as the Count von Carstein because he threatened the life of my newborn Get...” He glanced at Trinity, “And the love that I have spent three centuries waiting for... but what kind of loyalty is that which is bought for such a cost?”

“You did that for me?”

Saul shrugged, “My pride was a small price to pay for your life... but Simon is no longer the Count von Carstein so my oath is null and void.”

He stood up suddenly and frowned in surprise and then in concentration; something was coming, though he was not sure what. Saul could never claim to be the most magically proficient of his bloodline, far from it in fact, but something had alerted his magical senses, like a faint beacon that seemed to call out to him over the aethyr. He turned to leave.

“Where the hell are you going?” Trinity’s voice was flooded with surprise at his sudden movements.

“For a walk... Come.” Saul was already walking away when he gestured for her to follow.
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#97
Lesa could not help but feel a glimmer of trepidation as she faced the master of the Carstein bloodline. He was strikingly handsome, his movements smooth and fluid like a feline. Yet in his eyes she could see the power and pure strength of will that drove him, and it was easy to see why Lesa’s own sire had fallen for him all those years ago. Realising she had been staring Lesa spoke,

“As Simon said, I am Lesa Cromwell, wife of perhaps your eldest son to be sired in the Empire – Milosh.” She had expected those words to gain some kind of reaction from Vlad, but apart from possibly a flicker in his eyes his features remained impassive as he listened, “I am not sure what you have been told of recent events, but some time ago now Milosh and Simon created an alliance to rid this world of Mannfred, a pawn of Nagash. Their alliance created a Council of vampires, vampires from many different paths and bloodlines, perhaps the most powerful and potent of its kind, to attempt and destroy the threat that is Nagash.

I will not bore you with details, but many things have happened during the Council’s time which has put doubt into the other members of the Council of the Carstein’s motives and loyalty as allies. Our kind is fractious, of that there is no argument. But still within the Council a level of trust was necessary to function, and this trust has unfortunately been betrayed on a number of occasions.

I realise now that this is because Simon and his kin were working towards this goal, to your resurrection. However, as I have said to Simon, their methods in some cases were perhaps……unnecessary. The result is that currently the Council and your family at no longer allied, in fact with the last incident at Nuln I fear there may be hostility.

I am telling you this because it is my opinion that the Council and the Carsteins need to work together if we are to succeed in defeating Nagash. Whilst you do indeed have the largest army, the Council member’s are extremely potent. I would hope perhaps that you could see that reuniting the Council, at least until the Dark Lord has been defeated, would be in the best interest for all of us.”
 

Simon von Carstein

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#98
"I have heard much of this council. It is not so much different from the Council of Lahmia. Doomed to extinction without a strong leader to guide it." remarked Vlad "How powerful is our current military strength?" he asked Simon "At present we outnumber the council's forces by at least fifteen to one. So Marshal Mircea believes." Simon replied.

"Good that will give us some advantage if they decide to fight." said Vlad standing "With your leave mistress Lesa I think it best that you meet with them first and explain how things are going to be from now on. Vehkki-Ran will undoubtably be the most difficult. But I believe the Imperator has already begun a means of countering that problem."

Simon nodded "I can send a message to the Red Duke reminding him of our agreement."
 

Disciple of Nagash

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#99
"I have no qualm speaking to the Council," Lesa replied, "however I have to ask what you mean by "how things are going to be from now on"? If you look to take over this Council, to lead it, then that will not work. None of the other lines will surrender themselves to you, work with you yes, but they will not take your orders."

She paused for a moment, considering her words,

"I know that all those years ago you lead Vampirekind, but that was then, and it is not the way it is now. There is not the time to force the issue, not with Nagash preparing to attack. I urge you to work with the Council and defeat the Dark Lord, rather than try subjugate it and risk defeat at his hands."
 

Simon von Carstein

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"Your right Lesa this is not the way things are now." said Simon "We are now so few, practically hunted to extinction by the cattle."

"The Imperator is correct Mistress Lesa. I have only been back a short time and the world is very different." Vlad remarked "When this is over the Carsteins will correct the mistakes of the past. Members of the other lines will be permitted to die off by themselves so long as they do not interfere."
 
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