By Howard J. Howe
Disclaimer: I own nothing that you recognize from anywhere else. Just the plot. If you have a jones to sue, stones have more blood and are more likely to produce results.
“The are older…fouler things in the earth then orcs.”
Gandolf, Fellowship of the Rings.
“Even in hell there are things that hunt demons”.
- Unknown wizard.
In South Africa they dig very deep for gold, diamonds and rare earths. As they go deeper and the upper levels pan out they are closed off or used as places to store rubble. Into these geologists sometimes venture to sample rocks and make tests with new equipment, searching the deep rock for more gold.
One of these tests had shown a void or maybe a dense patch of ore in the rocks near one of the mines older shafts at the mile deep level. Seeking what might be gold or perhaps new metals just off the line of an old ore body the mine director shifts a few men over to work into this strange area in the rocks. At first they find nothing for thirty feet then they find a thick band of purest crystalline gold fully thirty feet around the void space. The miners cheerfully dig out the gold by hand in huge nuggets and slabs.
Then they find a large geode. Fully fifteen feet across the blue green crystalline-metal stumps even the toughest bits of the miner’s tools. A geologist tests the node; it’s quartz crystal, but filled with different impurities giving it gold, blue and red colors.
“That shouldn’t be there.” said the lead geologist, his excitement evident and nearly bouncing out of his skin in anticipation of a closer exam of the oddity. To the mine director this was just an inclusion into a previously unknown vein that had already produced more gold in the ten days of digging, then the whole mine had in the previous four years.
“I know,” says the mine director, after a minutes thought he turns to the lead foreman, “Your primary concern is the gold, but haul that thing out of here back to one of the side shafts. Try not to break it but the gold comes first.” He turns back to the geologist, “We’ll stage it their so you can do any tests on that thing there before we haul it up top to the pithead. But the gold and this vein are your first priority, map it and see how far it goes. This is a gold mine not a shop for fancy crystals.”
A day later the ten foot geode is shuffled it off into an abandoned shaft where the geologists could work around it and the rest of the miners could get back to the gold.
Unknown to the miners they had cracked the geode, that first night they lock it up and head back to the surface the crack continues to spread and at the stroke of midnight it shatters completely with a titanic blast. A foul black and orange cloud of sulfurous fire blasts forth across the room and up the tunnel starting the sprinkler system. Sections of the roof over the blast are pulverized and several tons of stone rain down. Quickly the fire is snuffed out leaving black-yellow sludge on the floor and across everything in the tunnel.
Across the mine the workers feel the rumble and leads see sprinkling dust and a few rock falls. Prudence wins and they start a systematic checking of the mine for the cause.
Inside the split rubble of the geode and stone a grating breath is taken, then another and another. Soon something moves and a there is a grunt of effort. Rock and geode pieces are pushed apart and something stands up in the flickering shadows of the few remaining klieg lights.
The black miner worker the supervisor has sent to check the fire alarm stops short of the shaft when he smells the hot sulfur and smoke and hears the falling and breaking of stone. He calls for back up and tells his supervisor that they may have a fire and tunnel collapse.
As he is making his report something inside the tunnel ahead of him screams with a loud predatory hunger. He is brave man and little in this world makes him fear anything…but that sound…plays across his nerves like no lion or hyena ever did. The roar is repeated and his supervisor in the control room above hears it over the radio. He too fears that sound and decides discretion is the better part of valor…it may be a real fire better safe then sorry. He orders the guard back out and orders that section sealed.
Amid the unnatural smoke like darkness in the tunnel a thing of fiery green light and predatory hunger draws several things from inside the remains of its resting place and then starts up the tunnel toward the exit. Great scorched hoof prints and clawed hand marks mar the fine sulfur and black soot that coats every surface.
As the mine worker is closing the blast door at the head of the tunnel he sees the glow and smoke rolling toward him. For an instant he thinks he sees a shape…a living glow within the smoke. Then he is slammed aside into the wall of the tunnel by a blow to his helmet.
He is found conscious and groaning a few minutes later, holding his head in his hands with his helmet on the floor beside him. The rescue team leader picks up the helmet after his men have taken the injured worker out of the mine. Two of his team have gone down and checked the rest of the tunnel. They report the partial collapse and the shattered geode but no fire and no further structural damage.
The team leader orders his men out and as he turns sees and picks up the helmet of the injured worker. Turning it over in his hands he sees the partially melted material and wonders at his workers survival.
From the top of the facility a winged shape launches itself into the air and moves off across the high veld toward the nearest city. Several hours later it alights upon an abandon factory roof at the cities edge and in the pre-dawn hours extends its senses to search for its prey.
There! To the north among the shanties a group of dark presences hunts the bright souls around it. They have just fed and their darkness is filled with bright black blood. The creature looks around some more overriding its hunger to look for threats or other closer prey. A score more of the prey beasts reside in this city barely enough to sate its hunger but best of all none of the High Dark Ones are near only the lesser and more tasty dark ones. It is safe to hunt and feed. Soon it will be sated and at full strength. But first the hunt!
It launches itself from the roof and glides toward the nearest of its prey beasts. Five dark lights in a house at the edge of the city.
Darla has just half drained her dinner on the balcony of his own mansion, while inside she can hear her minions corralling and tying up the score of party goers in the bedroom so they can feed over the next few days.
“Soon dear Thomas you will be my Childe and we will begin our reign of darkness and blood. Your family’s home will be our fortress and capital in this land.”
Before she can feed her own blood to the nearly dead human a green-black whip drops around the female vampire. She has only an instant to react before the tearing begins. A soundless flash of green-black light and the night is rent by a high pitched keening as the whip is yanked up into the air, dragging a kicking twisting demon form up and away from the body it had occupied. Now there are two nearly dead humans on the balcony. One whose eyes are filled with fear, the other’s filled with madness. The inhuman keening dies in an instant as teeth close on the demons neck.
The minions inside fail to notice anything for several minutes and then one comes to check on their Sire. He is shocked to find her as a living breathing human on the balcony. Before he can respond the breaking of bone and sinew draws his attention upward to the roof top.
The minions eyes widen in fear and he starts to duck back into the house but the whip wraps around one leg and a second soundless whip crack leaves a third body on the balcony, like the second its eyes are full of madness. The screaming twisting demon from this strike is stunned by the simple expedient of bludgeoning it against the roof top. Shaking the chandelier inside and causing dust motes to fill the upper floors. Then it is bound and gagged using strips of hide and bone from the first.
Inside the remaining vampires have observed the strike against the second vampire. One sneezes dust away and is distracted from there job of securing the humans buy the thudding and smashing against the roof. One woman draws a wand and blasts the nearest vampire through the wall of the house and into the street below. Broken and lamed it is helpless as a third whip-crack rents the dawn. Leaving the human shell screaming in the street as the third demon form is bound and gagged.
A quick flick of her wrist by the woman and the last two vampires are impaled by splinters of wood and vanish into dust. Soon all of the guests are free; one vanishes with soft popping sound. Two others venture out, wands drawn, to look for the vampire’s attacker and their host. Both see the three bodies and wonder what could have felled the two vampires. A scream is short cut behind and above them and like the balconies previous visitors they turn and freeze in terror.
The dark monster on the crown of the roof twists the head-off the demonic form in front of him and catches the black spurting blood from the neck like a kid slurping at a bottle of soda that has been shaken up. As the last of the blood drips into the open mouth the skull is split in two and the halves are popped into the fifteen foot tall creatures open maw. The elder of the two men is first to regain his wits and begins casting shielding wards and other defensive spells.
Two great leathern wings rise up from the back while three of the four arms shake the body out like a soda bottle the other arm and one of the two great cloven hooved goats legs pin a struggling demon form to the roof. A great whip like tail weaves back and forth behind it the leathery tail fan opening and closing. Its body is ebony in color, while its leg fur and great curved rams horns where touched with white tips. A simple twist of raw hide hold up the scanty loin cloth, along with a black steel link whip clipped to the raw hide. Muscles rippled and began to glow a dark green. After a moment the fragments of the skull are spat out to land at the two men’s feet. The flesh and organs are gone only blood, saliva and tooth scored bone remain. Twin eyes of green fire ponder the two men for a moment, twin flickering forked tongues lapping blood from its muzzle. The creature stiffens and looks about then grasping the still bound third living demon form and the body of the second the creature launches itself into the air and vanishes into the light of the rising sun. Both men turn shocked and fearful looks at each other.
At that moment other men, in dark leather jackets soon arrive in soft pops all across the property. Wounded including three who had once been vampires are transported away in more soft pops. More wands are waved and damage repaired. More leather clad men remain to take statements and shake their heads in disbelief.
When the younger mans version of events is disbelieved, the elder of the two men from the balcony calmly produces a Pensieve and copies the memory into the device. The senior man in leather looks into the memory and after reviewing it makes a single explosive remark.
“MERLIN”S BALLS WHAT WAS THAT!!!!!!!”