Not mine.Author's Note:
I wish I had an interesting explanation for the delay, but all I can say is that real life swamped me. The Prophecies Cycle
Book I: The Red Moon Rises
Chapter 5: Dead Night23 to 29 Days until the Red MoonSunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
Like a plague of hungry, blood sucking locusts, the forces of the Cult of Aurelius descended on Sunnydale Town, under the leadership of Darla, childe of The Master. In service to their dark patron, and their even darker faith, with thoughts of the glory of the Old Ones in their mind, they attacked. The quarter moon hung high in the sky, shining a dim white light down on the town as the attack happened.
The town's tall walls were no barrier to the vampires, who had the strength and speed necessary to vault over them. And indeed, as they drew close, they did just that, landing on their feet on the other side, and fanning out.
The late hour meant that the majority of Sunnydale's populace was already inside their homes, protected by thresholds. Safe. For now. But there were more than enough who were not. There were those who were outside, at this doomed hour. The homeless, the hopeless, the drunk, the criminal, the unfortunate. There were House Chase guards on patrol in the town, holding torches that did little to protect them against massed assault.
Each and everyone of of these doomed souls was quietly attacked, drained of their lifeblood, and left behind, empty collections of flesh. For most, that was all there was, but for some. For some...some got it even worse. Not left to the peace of death, they were feed the blood of the vampire, guaranteeing that come the morning, they would rise again, as their bodies were dragged out of the eventual path of the sun to 'safety'.
The vampires were hungry. Reapers of the human cattle, they drank. They fed on the weak, as all humans were. The fed until the blood ran down their chins, until it flowed freely and splashed down to the ground. Wicked, cruel smiles formed on their faces as they killed, and killed and killed.
And one of these poor, unfortunate souls who had only death and damnation awaiting them was a young man. A young man known as Jesse McNally.
“Fucking asshole.” Jesse muttered, referring to his boss, the owner of the Red Horse Tavern. The taproom had closed, as normal, around midnight, and as always, the drunks who couldn't leave on their own power were thrown out. This time, however, they decided to leave a parting gift on the floor and tables, in the form of throwing up on it. And, despite the fact that Jesse always went home a midnight, the tavern owner had decided that it was going to be his job – his job
– to clean it all up. And so, he had wasted an hour of his life cleaning that shit up. Fucking Bastard. Fucking Bastards.
He thought, his boss, and the drunks who had created the problem equally damned in his eyes. Sometimes...I hate my life.
From nearby shadows, Darla watched the pathetic mortal, two minions by her side. He wasn't much to look at, utterly normal. But Darla had found, in her time, that the angry nobodies made some of the best killers. They had so much aggression to work off...and she would need killers. And this boy, this pathetic little boy was a nobody, and she could feel the anger, the almost rage rolling off of him. She nodded to her minions. Without a word, at impossible speeds, they were out of the shadows and lunged out at him. They pinned his arms to his sides, one of them clamping a hand over the boy's mouth, preventing him from crying out.
Smirking, Darla drew in close, adopting her true face. She licked her lips at the look of horror that formed on his face. “They always taste better when they're afraid.” She said softly, before making the final lunge. She sank her teeth into his neck, and drank deeply.
Jesse McNally screamed soundlessly against the hand over his mouth as his life's blood was sucked from his neck. Chase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
Gods above, this is as boring as hell.
Xander thought to himself, again, not for the first time – not even the first time that day. Then again...I think its actually tomorrow now,
he mused, looking up at the moon in the sky. He chuckled a little, then sighed. He returned to looking over Sunnydale Town beneath the walls of Chase Castle. Not that much was revealed. The moon and the stars did not give him enough light to really see down there, and neither did the light from the torch he carried. Still, it was his job to patrol the walls and keep watch. Tonight, at least.
With another sigh, Xander continued walking along the wall-top, looking over to the town, then the courtyard then back to the town, then back to the courtyard, then back to the town. The mindless monotony of this looking back and forth, back and forth was not lost on him – not at all. And, surprise, surprise, he saw nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Okay, well that wasn't entirely true. After all, up ahead he saw another guard, torch in hand, standing in place, drumming his fingers against the battlements in boredom. “Hey Larry.” Xander said as he approached the man. “Slow night?”
“Fucking dead night.” Larry replied scornfully. “Not that that's much of a surprise. I mean night's dead. Absolutely nothing happens here at night.” He shrugged. “But what the hell? I mean, hey, were getting paid to walk around and do pretty much nothing.”
Xander agreed. “That's about the size of it. I guess it makes his lordship
sleep better in his fancy bed. So yea, what the hell. We're getting paid.”
Larry nodded at that, and turned, about get started on patrolling some more when they both heard the faintest sound of a scream from the town below. “What the-” Larry started, but before he could continue, they heard a growling snarl, and something human-shaped leapt the thirty feet from the ground to the wall-top. Another snarl escaped from the attacker, and then Xander found himself pushed to the ground effortlessly by the enemy, despite struggling with all his strength. This person...was impossibly strong,
As Xander persistently fought back to no avail, they rolled back and forth across the wall-top, drawing dangerously close to the edge, to falling off into the courtyard. Suddenly, the man hissed and sprang off him, and Xander watched in grim fascination, horrified, as the man stood and pulled Larry's sword from his stomach, tossing it aside. And that was when Xander saw them. The ridges.
Xander had never before met a Vampire, and would've been more than happy to never, ever meet one, but he knew what one looked like well enough, when it had its true face one. Xander knew what those ridges meant. Leaping to his feet, Xander scrambled for his fallen torch and thrust it out at the vampire. The light in its face threw it off a moment, and that was enough for Larry to shove it, hard.
Unfortunately, it didn't fall off the walls and back down into the town.
It fell off the walls and down into the courtyard. Xander looked at Larry, a horrifying thought coming to mind. “The castle doesn't have a threshold.” He said. He handed the torch to Larry, so that the other guard had two, and drew his sword. “Sound the alarm, I'll see what I can-” Larry didn't seem to be listening, instead, looking back down into the town below. Dozens of shrouded, human-shaped beings moved towards the walls, their eyes glowing with a monstrous light. “Its a fucking army of them.” Xander shoved Larry a little. “Larry, move. Get the alarm!” That roused his fellow guardsman, who nodded. They both rushed for the stairs that would lead down from the wall. Once they were on the ground, Larry went one way, towards the guardhouse to raise the alarm, to rouse the guards to repel this attack.An attack by an army of vampires. Where the fuck does this come from?
Xander, for his part, raced towards the castle. The castle itself didn't have a threshold, he'd heard Amy say that. But the various rooms did, which was a good thing. Most people, save for a servant or two and some guards on patrol within the halls, would be safely behind a threshold, and could ride out this attack till day, albeit under siege. The issue would become those who were still outside. He needed to get to them, and stop that vampire that was already in- As he ran, he turned his head back to look at the wall, and saw more. More vampires, leaping up onto the wall, then leaping down, off the walls, into the courtyard with no signs of being injured or otherwise discomforted by the fall. His legs already screaming, Xander started to run even faster, reaching the doors of the castle. The vampire that had run first attacked him had already thrown them open, and Xander saw the dead body of a guardsman in the grand hall. Anger rising in him, Xander took a torch from the wall and hurried deeper into the castle, the army close behind, entering into the building.
One vampire would've been far too much for Xander to take in a fair fight, though if he was lucky, maybe he'd be able to take it, and Xander certainly had only his luck to trade on. With other guards, they might have even had even odds, but even if the entire House Chase Guard came together as one, there was simply no way that they could combat this many vampires.
He needed to get behind a threshold, but there was something even more important that needed to be done. The alarm bell hadn't gone off, and Xander, fear gripping his mind, knew what that likely meant. Larry was dead, and the alarm just plain wasn't going to go off, at all. Which left him with only one option. Immediately, he changed course and went down a side hall, running for the Barracks. As he drew close, he slowed, his lungs starting to burn, legs already numbing. The door to the barracks was open, and he saw the vampire from before, the first one. A dead guard was already slumped at its feet, its back to Xander as it fed on another. It seemed too distracted to notice that he was there. Thinking quickly, Xander made a decision. Pulling his arm back, he threw the torch with all his might. His aim, fortunately, was true, and as it struck the vampire, Xander drew his sword and went in. He had terrible odds, but really, this was his only option.
The vampire, feeling the fire hit its back, dropped the half-dead guard it had been feeding on and hissed in pain, spinning around as the torch clattered to the ground. It saw the pathetic mortal, the animal that thought it could fight its betters and win, running towards him, and the vampire decided to meet the human head on. This, however, was a mistake. Overconfident, it lunged right at him, and Xander took advantage. Before the vampire's punch could reach him, Xander swung his sword at the the unarmed and unarmored vampire. The blade passed through the vampire's wrist, cutting through the decades dead flesh, removing the hand. He knew that it wouldn't incapacitate the vampire for long, but it would have to do.
And indeed, the vampire recoiled in pain, distracted, thrown off. No mere mortal had ever managed to hurt it, and this... My hand!
It would grow back..but...snarling, the vampire lunged at Xander forcing him to the ground, but the guardsman managed to keep a hold of his sword and he stabbed it into the vampire's side as he was pinned down. The vampire reared back in pain, and Xander pulled the blade, stabbing again, and againIf I can keep hurting it, I can keep it from killing me...
Xander's mind raced. How do you kill a vampire?
He racked his mind for the ways he'd heard, the warnings every child got. Sunlight? Can't do that. Fire? Don't have any on hand – brilliant move, Xander, tossing your torch like that.
Xander felt the vampire's 'breath' on his neck, as it drew closer, and even another stab didn't stop it. Silver? I have a coin- no, that's werewolves...fuck. Shit, shit...wooden stake, I don't have one...beheading....that...if I just....
It was his only shot. But with the vampire so close....he could feel the vampire's teeth scraping against his neck....Xander swung the sword at the corpse's neck not managing to slice through it, but cutting partway through, severing it somewhat. The vampire fell back, and Xander didn't wait. He moved back himself, and swung again, slicing all the way through. His position under the vampire, though...the sword carried through and sliced into his arm, just above the wrist. It didn't go that far in, but Xander swore as blood poured from the wound, the vampire now nothing but dust.
Fortunately, the noise created by the fight had woken the rest of the guards in the Barracks up.
“What the fuck is going on, Xander?” One of them, Devon, said, pointing to their two dead fellows. “What happened-”
“Vampires. Whole fucking army of them.” As if to illustrate his point, three vampires, wearing their true faces, turned down into the corner. “Get your weapons, armor! Move!” They hurriedly complied, and Xander snatched another torch from the wall, teeth clenched against the pain in his arm, and threw it at the vampires. Unfortunately, it did nothing but fall short. Cursing, Xander slammed the door behind him, putting at least slight barrier between the vampires and the barracks, as the guardsmen hurriedly threw on their chainmail and grabbed their weapons. As the door broke down, they were something resembling ready, for a given value of the word.
Xander watched the fight, hastily bandaging his arm, then joined in. Quickly, two of the guards were killed, their necks snapped, but then the guards figured it out. Using their swords, they managed to keep the unarmed vampires at something resembling range, but they were unable to do anything more. Xander saw an unlit oil lamp sitting in the far side of the room, and had an idea. Swinging out at one of the vampires – who dodged, Xander ducked back and ran to the lamp. He grabbed the only other lit torch in the room with his other hand, and, careful to keep the two apart, raced back towards the fight. “Back!” He shouted to the guards, and they obeyed. Xander drew in close as they did so, a handful of steps away from the vampires, and threw the lamp at them. They were splashed, but, of course, the oil alone had no effect.
“It wasn't holy water, you pathetic animal.” One of them said. “Your foolishness will see you die. We are the Order of Aurelius, and we will purge this land clean. Hell itself had come to-” Xander didn't bother to hear anymore, and thrust the torch out at the vampires. The oil did its job, and they caught fire, their inhuman screams sending shivers down the spines of all the guardsmen, even as they charged in to behead the vampires, killing them before the fire could.
The battle for Sunnydale had begun.Author's Note:
Yes, I know the Aurelian Vampires are talking a lot, but from what we see of Season 1 of Buffy, and the other vampire cults in the show(s) seems to be a fairly common disease among vampire religious fanatics.Next Time, on Red Moon Rises: The Vampiric attack on Sunnydale continues, with seemingly no chance for human survival. Can Xander, with only a handful of guardsmen and his own ingenuity make it to the other side of the castle, and get to the only person who has even the slightest hope of helping them against this many of the walking dead?