Friday, January 24, 2014

A Decaying World - Chapter 3: Modera

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Chapter 3: Modera

I've been pacing back and forth atop this hill for hours now, waiting for the moment when Emily would finally arrive. We've been friends for many years now but all of that might change today.

Worst case scenario: We'd never talk to each other again even though she lives right around the corner. That wouldn't be much of a problem if we lived in a big city like Pagan but it's simply impossible not to run into each other when you reside in a village with less than 100 inhabitants. Emily might not hate me for what I'm about to do but what if she's unable to reciprocate my feelings? Would be kinda awkward to spend time with each other when she knows that I want more from her than she wants from me.

Perhaps I'm just worrying too much. I'm certain that she has feelings for me; however, that could be nothing but wishful thinking...sure, she said some very suggestive things recently but perhaps she was just fooling around...

Goddammit, stop worrying! Just wait for her to arrive and tell her everything!” I screamed at myself, frustrated by the entire situation.

Tell me what?”

The sweet voice of my childhood friend stopped me dead in my tracks. My heart was throbbing when I thought of the possibility that she might have been concealing her presence the entire time, eavesdropping on all of my trial runs where I tried to confess my feelings to a tree. I should have seen her coming up the path, shouldn't I? It's right next to me so there's no way I could have missed her! Or was I simply too distracted?

Drake? Is something wrong?”

Emily was standing directly behind me now, her warmth spreading all across my body, even though she wasn't touching me at all. I gulped nervously, clenched my fists so hard that my knuckles turned white and tried to gather all of my courage before I finally turned around to face her.

Her crimson hair was blowing in the wind and a radiant smile played on her lips, as if she knew what I was going to ask and had already made up her mind.

No fair!” I must have sounded like a little child complaining to his mother.

I have no idea what you're talking about.” but her devious grin belied her words.

I raised my right hand hesitantly and her green eyes followed it's movement curiously. Emily was surely wondering if I was going to stick to the original plan or simply make up something on the spot. My trembling hand hesitated mere inches from her cheek and didn't budge for what felt like an eternity; however, Emily was grinning from ear to ear now and forced me to continue by leaning her head to the side, gently resting her cheek in the palm of my hand.

My mind must have been playing tricks on me because her skin felt strangely...wet? I was about to unburden myself when my voice failed me. Not because I couldn't take the final, something was forcing itself down my throat! I didn't understand what was happening! My hands shot towards my mouth and I managed to get a hold of something slimy, which seemed to have the same consistency as Emily's skin!

What is going on?!” I uttered, or at least tried to.

Emily just looked at me, still grinning from ear to ear as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

I managed to get rid of whatever was trying to invade my body but even though I felt something moving in the palms of my hands I couldn't actually see anything. When I looked up once more Emily had been replaced by a strange person in gray robes.

Wake up!” 

Drake's eyes snapped wide open as the voice of the Alp resonated throughout his mind. A piercing cry shattered the silence before he had any time to gather himself. A slimy substance shot past his face and he noticed something wriggling in the palms of his hands. Still confused he lowered his head and noticed that he was holding onto a baby slime, which struggled to break free. It shouldn't have been a problem under normal circumstances but even though he was half-asleep he had managed grab onto its core. Applying just a bit more pressure would crush it, resulting in the sudden death of the creature.

However, that's when he noticed that he was surrounded by at least a dozen of his brethren and one by one they joined their dying comrade till the whole clearing was filled by a cacophony of wails.

Drake was surprised that they hadn't attacked him yet as another slime emerged from the forest. It was evident that the others had been calling for help as the new arrival was a fully grown specimen, big enough to suffocate an entire human by entrapping it inside its own body.

The wailing stopped as the remaining slimes curled themselves into ball-shaped forms and rolled towards the edge of the forest, where they reformed themselves and lined up, as if they couldn't wait for Drake to get his ass kicked.

Why can't you just leave me alone? I didn't come here to fight you!”

He let go of his prisoner, which bounced away while the big one curled itself into a ball and jumped at the chance to attack. Drake picked up his sword and got on his feet but he had no idea how he was supposed to hit the monster's core. It might be as big as a fist but how was he supposed to strike a moving target? To make matters worse they could move their cores around as they pleased so you never knew where exactly you needed to focus your attention on.

I don't know how I managed to survive but I'm not about to waste my second chance!” he screamed as he swung his sword, cutting through the entire upper half of his assailant before the monster swept him from his feet and rammed him into a tree.


The core was right in front of his face. If he had changed his angle of attack ever so slightly he might have been able to cut right through it. But thinking of what might have been was of no avail as Drake was already stuck to the trunk, his body slowly vanishing from sight.

Over the years he heard many stories of adventurers fighting against evil and most of them made slimes appear to be pathetic creatures, easily dispatched even by rookies, but Drake couldn't move so much as a muscle.

Maybe I shouldn't have drugged Emily after all. She certainly could have destroyed its core the moment it was exposed...

He mustered all the strength he had left but the slime didn't seem to care, slowly but steadily encasing his entire body till he would suffocate.

So this is how it's going to end? I survive an encounter with a giant snake only to be swallowed by a slime?

At that precise moment a familiar cry echoed across the clearing. The slime Drake had been holding onto only seconds ago had returned and whatever it was saying seemed to enrage it's brethren as it was bombarded by their mucus-shots. One could assume that it wouldn't have any effect but if these creatures have actual feelings it must have felt like it was being spit on bis his friends.

Suddenly the pressure faded and Drake slid towards the ground while his attacker propelled itself into the air. The baby slimes screeched when they realized were it would land but only a few of them managed to get out of the way. If Drake hadn't been at death's door for the second time this day he might have actually laughed at the comical situation taking place right in front of his eyes.

The big slime was hunting down every single one of it's brethren, simply swallowing them whole the moment it came into contact with them. Did it kill them or was it just punishing them for attacking one of their own kind? Drake certainly didn't care. He was just glad to be alive.

Tranquility returned to the clearing in less than a minute and he closed his eyes, leaned against the tree trunk and relaxed...

The birds were singing him a beautiful lullaby while the sun was slowly drying his oozy clothes. Drake rarely visited the forest but it was actually a wonderful place, at least when it wasn't infested by killer snakes. Sadly there is no one left alive who knows the real significance of this seemingly unremarkable place.

1000 years ago the Asen fell and darkness swallowed the world, nearly destroying it in the process. Millions died during the war, most of them fighting the obvious threat while smaller groups fought enemies many had never heard of. The conflict seemed to go on forever but in the end the darkness was quelled. However, without the restorative power of the Asen Meceruun is still doomed. The world might last another hundred years, maybe even a millennium, but the end result will be the same.

This is why a few people tried to resurrect the Asen or at least prolong the life of the ones that hadn't completely been destroyed. Most of these experiments ended in utter failure but there's one person who actually managed to restore the great tree of Mideel back to life, alas, only in the form of a single seed.

And that seed has been planted in this very forest. The tree itself looks rather unremarkable but it's the only one that grows on the island in the middle of the lake. Sadly I can't tell you if it actually contains the Asen spirit of the original or if it's nothing more than a tree after all. The seed did contain the original's essence but it might have faded away during the last millennium. Regrettably it doesn't even matter as the tree alone could never undo the damage inflicted during the war.

Drake just sat there in utter ignorance, bathing in the sun and nearly falling asleep again.

The sun was shining and Drake fondly remembered the party he attended a few hours ago.

The sun continued to shine and he had the strange feeling that he had forgotten something important.

He continued to bask in the sun some more before he finally opened his eyes, actually taking in his surroundings for the first time since he woke up.

The sun...was shining.! No No No No!” he screamed with a horror-stricken expression upon his face.

Drake sheathed his sword, jumped to his feet and would have completely overlooked the mended armor if it hadn't been conveniently lying right in his path.

Huh? Didn't the snake destroy it?

However, he had no time to think about such an insignificant discrepancy. He just put it on and ran towards the tower as fast as humanly possible. It might have been better to turn around, seeing as he had already wasted the chance given to him by the Alp, but he would never be able to forgive himself for giving up.


With the fog gone Drake managed to reach his destination in less than 20 minutes. The tower wasn't exceptionally big, only containing about 4 or 5 floors, and it certainly didn't look like the hideout a vampire would choose as dozens of windows lined the walls and none of them seemed to have been nailed shut or blocked in any other way. However, that in and of itself could mean that this tower was the perfect hiding place. No adventurer would ever assume that something dangerous was lurking behind these walls, especially if Modera's servants concealed their true appearance at all times.

Drake couldn't see anyone guarding the tower though but the entrance gates stood wide open so he hid himself in the shadow of a tree where he finally collapsed after having completely exhausted his remaining energy by running all the way. His lungs were burning, his breathing sounded raspy and his legs felt like jello.

It might have been better to walk. I'm already too late anyway...

Of course there was still the slight possibility that his father had never come here in the first place. Perhaps he had simply removed his armor for the first time in 18 years to give it a little bit of the middle of the night...outside of his home...

Yeah, that's not very likely, is it? However, he could still be alive! Why would he even lose to a vampire who saw it necessary to hide himself for 10 years?

As far as Drake recalled there hadn't been any mysterious deaths or disappearances during all this time.

Whoever you are, Modera....I'm sure my father could...defeat you single-handedly!”

That's what he hoped for, at least, completely suppressing the fact that his father had chosen to live in a village where he never had any serious competition. He seemed fit enough when he trained his son but was that alone enough to defeat a vampire? If not, how was Drake supposed to beat her?

Whatever the case, there was no going back now.

Drake crept along the outer wall, slowly but surely moving towards the entrance gates. It might have looked abandoned from far away but who knew what kind of servants Modera employed? After arriving at his destination he held his breath and peeked around the corner very carefully.

The entrance hall consisted of a single corridor lined by alcoves that emitted an eerie blue light, which led towards a wooden door and two additional passages. Even though the doors were standing wide open no sunlight managed to penetrate the interior of the building and who else but a vampire would benefit from such magic?

Drake exhaled in relief after making sure that the lower level seemed to be deserted. Of course there was still the possibility that something was lurking around the corner but why would Modera's servants conceal their presence instead of attacking him?

He took a deep breath, gathered his courage and stepped inside.

The door slammed shut with an ear-shattering bang that echoed all throughout the tower. If Modera hadn't known of his presence before she was most certainly aware of it now. Expecting the worst Drake took a few quick steps and hid himself in one of the alcoves. Not exactly a good hiding spot but he didn't have time to run down the corridor and hope for something better to pop up.

At least he thought so but the entrance hall remained deserted and there was no indication that anything was running down the stairs to intercept him. That's when he noticed that the floor was littered with stone fragments, some of which resembled demonic faces. Curious he picked up one of the pieces, turning it around in his hand till he realized that some kind of liquid was oozing out of the part where it must have been connected to another piece. It seemed to have the same consistency as blood.

Huh, were these the gargoyles the Alp mentioned? I guess my father utterly destroyed every single guardian. That would explain why no one has come for me yet.”

Drake dropped the piece and, he might have imagined the next part, heard it emit a faint growl upon impact. Maybe the creature wasn't as dead as he had hoped but what could it possibly do in its current state? He just kicked it away and moved cautiously towards the door. He might be alone but it's better to be safe than sorry.

He glanced around as soon as he reached the junction and noticed that both pathways were leading to circular staircases, the left one going up while the other one went down. Judging by the scattered stone fragments Glenn must have fought his way upstairs but who knows how much time had passed since then?

Guess it would be better to check everywhere.” Drake said while opening the door right in front of him. It was supposed to be a stealthy approach but the squeaky door hinges thwarted his plan. He froze, held his breath and listened intently. However, the adjacent room seemed as devoid of life as the entrance hall. Come to think of it, vampires or skeletons aren't exactly classified as living beings so it might be better to say that...

Please, just go away. I haven't done anything wrong!”

Okay, scratch that.

As soon as Drake heard the hollow sounding voice from beyond the door he kicked it wide open, drew his sword and screamed: “Show yourself, fiend! What have you done to my father?”

He looked around furiously but despite hearing the voice just seconds ago he couldn't actually
see anyone, even though the room didn't have much in terms of hiding spots. No one was standing behind the door nor crouching under the table, which only left a couple of cabinets at the other end of the chamber as the tower's layout didn't seem to allow for hidden passages.

Reveal yourself and I might spare your life...or unlife, or whatever!”

His words didn't sound convincing at all and whoever was hiding must have noticed as there was no response whatsoever. Drake mumbled to himself, closed the door and placed one of the chairs in front of it before he began to move towards the leftmost cabinet while keeping an eye on the other ones. Judging by the thick layer of dust covering the furniture it seemed unlikely that the room had been used in the last few years. Only one of the chairs and the section of the table in front of it looked relatively clean.

Hm, I assume a vampire has no need for a dining hall. That would explain the condition of the door, if she even needs to use them in the first place.

Drake had finally reached the first cabinet, yanked it open and stepped back swiftly. A rattling noise came from the other side of the door but it had already stopped when Drake managed to slam the door shut again.

I know you're in here. Hiding any longer is futile, I'll find you sooner or later!”

Still no response. Drake picked up the pace and opened the next cabinet seconds later while eying the others in the process, but he neither saw nor heard anything this time.

Only two cabinets left!”

Nothing...till the second cabinet crashed to the ground. The doors of the rightmost one flew open, revealing a thin, white creature fleeing towards the door.


Drake slid across the table and reached the exit at the same time as the chair blocking it was kicked away.

Stop right there!”

But his opponent ignored him, grabbed the door handle and fell apart as his head went flying, leaving behind nothing but a pile of bones.

Huh, that wasn't very satisfying...,” said Drake as he sheathed his sword.

What did you expect? I'm not a fighter! Why couldn't you just leave me alone?” responded the severed head with a vexed voice from below the table.

Drake had been ready to leave but now he kneeled down and looked at the talking skull in confusion.

You're not dead?”

Hello? I'm a goddamn skeleton, of course I'm dead! Separating my skull from by body won't make me any deader!”

Well, your body has collapsed and I doubt you'll be able to instill fear from below a table. That's satisfying enough.”

Instill fear?! Are you even listening to a word I say? I am not a fighter! I've never hurt so much as a fly...well okay, maybe I've killed some while I was still alive, but I've certainly never harmed another human being!” he sounded like he was talking himself into a rage and if it weren't for the lack of skin his face might have actually turned red. He certainly seemed to put enough power into his words to move a few inches towards Drake.


Okay, maybe I wasn't the nicest person around! I might have hit and kicked our servants a couple of times but I've had a decade to think about my wrongdoings! Now I'm just an ugly skeleton that can't even compete with a young boy like yourself! Just leave me alone...,” all the anger had dissipated, leaving behind nothing but a tinge of sadness.'re not evil?”

Stop judging people by their appearances! Why do I have to be evil just because I'm a skeleton? In the end I'm just fat bastard who had to watch his wife die while Modera turned me into one of her pets. I can't even kill myself! Go on, smash one of my bones and you'll see!”

Are you sure?”

The skull nodded, or tried to at least but such a gesture is hard to do if your head is lying flat on the ground.

God, I never thought I'd miss that body. Anyway, just do it!”

Okay then,” said Drake hesitantly as he picked up one of the smaller bones, put in on the ground and stomped upon it as hard as possible, causing it to snap apart. Nothing happened at first but after about a minute had elapsed the bone began to glow and started to mend itself. Drake was too distracted to notice that the skull moved by itself once more even though its owner didn't seem to do anything.

See? You could crush my bones into dust and they'd still fix themselves. Believe me, I tried. Modera is such a bloody bitch that she wasn't content with killing my wife and turning me into a skeleton! No, she had to make me immortal too so I would never be able to end my suffering!”

I assume you're one of the original inhabitants of the tower?”

Yes, I'm Aramal wan Dago, even though the whore upstairs calls me Abaddon. Don't ask me why, I've never been able to make sense of her. She just appeared 10 years ago while we were eating dinner, killed us off and then...nothing. Sure, she remodeled the place a bit and created her gargoyle guardians but I've never seen her do anything worth noting. It's like she's just bidding her time.”

Someone told me that my father came here to kill her before she could set her plans into motion...”

That brute was your father? God, I've never seen someone fight like him! He took down six guardians in the entrance hall alone, only suffering a few minor cuts as far as I could tell. I ran away before he saw me, though. I wonder what happened to him...”

He didn't come down again?” Drake sounded worried now.

Not as far as I could tell. The battle went on for quite some time but the noises stopped about an hour ago. I didn't dare to leave, though.”

Dammit! I have no choice but to check it out myself apparently.”

Are you mad? You'd never stand a chance against Modera! No offense, your father might be an impressive fighter but you on the other hand look like a mere amateur.”

None taken. Nevertheless, I don't have a choice! My mother is already dead, I can't lose him too.”

What if he's already dead?”

Then I'll do whatever it takes to avenge his death!” he answered with grim determination.

Well, I suppose I won't be able to stop you then. If you're lucky she'll just kill you. If not...well..,” he stared at his body and sighed.

We'll see about that. Sorry for the inconvenience...”

Don't worry about it. I'll reform sooner or later.”

Huh, better than living the rest of your existence as a disembodied head, I guess. Well, I'll be going now. Maybe we'll see each other again.”

I'd be happy to, unless you come back without any skin.”

And with these words in mind the door slammed shut.

Drake hastened his steps as he didn't expect to encounter any resistance apart from Modera herself. He still stopped to check out the rooms but the study on the second floor as well as the library on the third floor were abandoned as well. Having said this, he still came to a sudden halt as he was about to ascend towards the fourth floor. He wasn't exactly sure why till he heard the pitter-patter of footsteps right above him, as if hundreds of children were running around on the next level. But as he drew his sword and took another step they faded out of existence, just to begin anew on the third level, which was still completely deserted.

What is going on?

Drake took another step and the sound vanished once more, to be replaced by total silence. He had no idea what was going on and simply took another step, instantly dropping his sword to shield his ears from a shrill humming noise which shattered the silence. However, the intensity of the
sound didn't change at all, it might have even gotten worse. Blood began to flow from his ears and his vision turned blurry before he tried to retrace his step, missed it by a couple of inches and slid down the stairs. The room was plunged into silence again as he picked up his sword and gathered himself from the ground while rubbing his back. He was lucky to fall when he did. A few more steps and he might have risked breaking his neck.

What the hell was that?” he barely understood his own words due to a constant ringings in his ears. “Maybe I should ask Aramal how to get past this. I'd really like to keep my hearing.”

A sensible plan but he never managed to go through with it due to the realization that something had been talking to him since the moment he had tumbled to the ground. And as soon as he noticed the volume increased, completely overshadowing the ringing in his ears.

Leska...bringer of salvation and destruction! Your battle is already over and the end of time is drawing near! There is no need to fight the warrior, no need to confront the order, no need to descend into Golgotha! Just give in to the darkness and accept your defeat!

Hundreds of voices were talking to him at the same time and every single word felt as if someone was jamming needles into his brain. He blacked out for just a second but as soon as he regained awareness he found himself standing in front of a door that was opening all by itself.

Beyond it lay an otherworldly room that seemed to have no end. The floor was covered in a black, oily substances that made it look like a swamp. Looking closer one could even see the rotting remains of animals and humans which were slowly being consumed as if the substance itself was alive and feeding off of them. Drake even caught sight of something huge moving in the distance but before he could actually make out what it was it disappeared.

All that was of secondary importance though as the ceiling resembled a hurricane bathed in blood, with a giant black crystal floating in the eye of the storm. It emitted a sickening light and pulsed in the same rhythm as Drake's heart. He stared into its depths and images began to flash through his mind, too fast to hold onto them but still arousing an odd feeling of déjà vu, despite the fact that some of the places he saw looked even stranger than this room.

Come, only a few more steps and your suffering will finally be over!

He knew that he was doomed the moment he stepped across the threshold but the crystal had taken control of his body, forcing him to take one step after another. Drake tried to overpower it but his willpower was severely lacking, barely sufficient to delay the inevitable for a few seconds.

Who are you? Why are you doing this?” he yelled fearfully, but the only response he got was diabolic laughter.

Somewhere in the distance a door was slammed wide open, nearly ripping it from its hinges, followed by a pillar of smoke that descended from the upper floor, entwined Drake's body and threw him across the room.


Oh yes! You won't be thwarting my plan, Assar!” answered a haughty sounding female voice.

The door slammed shut and dozens of locks clicked into place. The crystal's presence faded away, releasing Drake from its grip. Whoever saved him hadn't been very gentle though as he had crashed right into the wall, surely breaking a few ribs in the process. That's what should have happened at least, but he didn't seem to suffer from any lasting injuries, only bleeding from a small wound on his lower lip.

Are you...Modera?” he asked, out of breath, while drawing his sword but there wasn't anyone left to hear his question as his savior had already departed.

Are you serious? You really want me to come up all the way?” he spit the words out angrily while he got to his feet. “Fine, have it your way! But don't expect me to go easy on you!”

And so he ascended the final staircase, took a deep breath and kicked in the door.

Drake had expected Modera to bid him welcome, maybe even while sitting on a throne to show off her superiority, but all he saw was a single bed with purple sheets as well as a painting depicting a handsome white-haired man brandishing a stunningly beautiful sword in front of a castle.

Where are you, Modera? What have you done to my father?”
The air above the bed began to shimmer, slowly revealing Glenn's body lying atop the blanket, still wearing his armor. It was obvious that he hadn't gone down without a fight as it was covered in scorch-marks and some parts of it had completely melted away. His body on the other hand looked completely flawless, as if he hadn't suffered a single injury.

Dad!” Drake exclaimed and ran towards the bed, disturbed by the fact that Glenn's hands were folded across his chest in the same way as that of a corpse lying in his casket. He stretched his arm hesitantly towards his father's face, pulling it away the moment he noticed that it was icy cold. To make matters worse he also didn't seem to be breathing.

No...please! This can't be happening!” his voice was already failing him when he began to cry.

He shook Glenns body over and over again but unsurprisingly enough it didn't even flinch.

This has to be a nightmare...”

Oh no, this tragedy is as real as it gets!” responded an arrogant female voice directly behind him, followed by hysterical laughter that echoed all across the room, but Modera was already gone the moment Drake turned around.

Stop playing games, you goddamn bitch! Show yourself so that I can slice you apart!” his angry voice reverberated throughout the room, mixing itself with Modera's laughter to create a cacophony of madness.

Aw, the poor boy wants to avenge his father with this puny thing he calls a sword? Come on, why don't you use your father's weapon instead?”

Drake's sword fizzled out of existence, only to be replaced by Glenn's magnificent blade. At the same time Modera appeared right in front of him. Her skin was very pale, as was to be expected from a vampire, she was about as tall as him, wore purple shoes as well as a matching dress with a revealing cleavage, which might have been very distracting if not for all the blood stains covering her clothes. Even her hair was purple, although it had a much darker shade to it. The only part of her that didn't match her style were the red eyes but Drake barely noticed as he was too distracted by her facial expression. At first glance she was just smiling but her face looked somehow contorted, as if she could barely contain the madness that was evident in her voice.

Come, raise that sword and impale me if you can!” she sneered at him, instantly earning herself a sour look.

Normally I should ask why my father had to stop you or why you're even here, but you know what? All I really care about is to rip you apart! ”

Words alone won't be enough! Come on, kill me!” she yelled at him while spreading her arms and inviting him in. Drake didn't need another invitation, gripped the sword so hard that his knuckles turned white and lunged forward, aiming at her heart. But the moment the attack would have connected she vanished into thin air, nearly causing him to topple to the ground. As soon as he steadied himself Modera's arms embraced him from behind while she pressed her soft breasts into his back.

Draki, you really need to be a little bit faster if you want to kill a vampire. Don't tell me you're actually slower than your old man. You know, he actually managed to put up a good fight. He nearly struck me down a couple of times!”

Let go off me!” Drake screamed and tried to break away but she held onto him with an iron grip.

But I'm already in a perfect position to suck out your blood! Oh, I can barely restrain myself any longer! Your father's blood was kinda disgusting, you know? Yours on the other hand smells so delicious!”

She licked his neck, sending a shiver down his spine. Her concentration must have suffered though as he finally managed to escape her grasp; however, she had already disappeared by the moment he tried to strike back.

Stop running away! Are you too afraid to fight me head-on?”

Afraid? Of you?” she asked mockingly from the shadows and laughed once more, “I was born thousands of years ago and survived the utter annihilation of our race! And who exactly are you? Just a puny 18 year old boy who has never accomplished anything of importance!”
Suddenly the room was engulfed by an ominous red light, the temperature increased manifold and Drake heard the crackling of fire echoing through the chamber. He whirled around but at the precise moment he spotted Modera something smashed into his stomach and forced him to his knees.

Well, what do we have here?”

Drake couldn't even inspect his armor before an invisible force pulled him into the air, causing him to drop his sword.

Huh, my fireball didn't even singe your armor although it's made of leather. Don't tell me it's enchanted...,” her voice was full of curiosity as she flexed her arm in front of her body, “Let's see how much it can withstand!”

A mad smile spread across Modera's face as her hand burst into flames. The fire began to gather in the palm of her hand and the ball of heat grew bigger and bigger till it was about the size of Drake's head.

That should be enough to get rid of it. I hope you don't mind getting burned!”

The fireball hit Drake's chest before he even managed to close his eyes. Air was forced out of his lungs but that's about everything the attack accomplished. His armor only smoldered for a few seconds but there was no sign of it ever having been hit by magic.

Now where did you get such an interesting item? Even I couldn't create such a powerful enchantment.”

I have no idea what you're talking about! It's just a normal piece of armor!”

Don't lie to me!” she screamed furiously and slapped him on his face, but to him it felt like she had punched him. “Did Assar help you? Did he really think that you could get rid of me?”

Who are you talking about?”

She stared into his eyes intently before she began to smile again.

Seems like you're telling the truth. But it doesn't change anything,” she stroked his cheek while licking her lips, “I'll turn you into a vampire now! And then you'll fulfill your destiny by destroying him and restoring our race!”

I'd rather die!”

Oh, you will most certainly die,” again followed by her hysterical laugh, “And then I'll resuscitate you! It might hurt...a lot actually, but you'll come to enjoy your newfound power and will forget your boring mortal life. Believe me, I've experienced it myself!”

Please...reconsider!” demanded a hoarse sounding voice from the direction of the bed. An astonished expression spread across Drake's face while he witnessed his father getting up from the bed.

You're alive?” he screamed in disbelief.

Not alive, undead! Wait, didn't I tell you that I turned him into a vampire too? Oh my, I'm so sorry. I really thought I did!” but the tone of her voice belied her words. “Now I'll just need to turn you too and we can live together as a happy vampire family! After we've gotten rid of our little problem, that is.”

No, please! I'll help you get rid of Assar! You don't need my son! He'll only be a burden!” said Glenn while looking apologetically at Drake.

While it's true that you are a better fighter I only turned you on a whim. You are not the one who is supposed to kill Assar. Just be glad that you'll still be able to spend time with your son!”

Please!” Glenn's voice was full of despair but Modera just continued to smile. know what, I'll let Drake chose!” with these words she snapped her fingers and Drake fell to the ground. “I will not accept your father's offer! But if you manage to accomplish a simple task I'll let you go and you will never hear of me again!”

Both Glenn and his son looked at her suspiciously. Whatever she had planned, it couldn't be good.

And what is this simple task?” asked Drake as he got to his feet.

Oh, nothing special. Just take that sword,” Glenn's sword jumped into his hand, “And kill your father by cutting of his head!” her maniacal laughter was worse than ever before while Drake's eyes
widened in horror. His father on the other hand just looked sad.

No, I won't do as you ask!” responded Drake with determination in his voice but Glenn walked right up to him and put the tip of his blade to his neck.

Son, just do it!”

Are you mad? I can't kill my own father!” yelled Drake tearfully.

You'd rather suffer till the end of your existence?”

Yes! And do you really think that she would hold up her end of the bargain?”

Glenn removed the blade again and turned towards Modera.

Do you swear on the name of Cardul to uphold your promise if Drake kills me?”

For a fleeting moment the madness dissolved, leaving behind nothing but an anguished expression on Modera's face.

Damn you...yes, I'll swear on Cardul's name that I will leave your son alone if he kills you!” and the madness returned. “But he'll never be able to do it!”

Glenn smiled briefly and faced his son once more.

You've heard it. Cardul means the world to her, so she'd never dare to lie while swearing upon his name! Just kill me and go back to Emily! I've already lived a full life and my death will allow me to see your mother again and save you at the same time. I couldn't possibly ask for more.”

Drake raised the sword again, even though he could barely see a thing due to the tears in his eyes. His arm trembled, forcing him to hold the hilt with both hands at once. Moments later he raised his hands, ready to strike while Glenn closed his eyes, but then he a saw a single teardrop running down his father's cheek and knew that he couldn't go through with it and dropped his hands. Modera was standing behind him in the blink of an eye, ramming her fangs into his neck and sucking out his mortal essence.

Glenn's eyes snapped wide open as he heard Drake's painful gasp. He tried to pull Modera's head away but he was still too weak after having awakened just moments ago. He desperately ripped the sword out of Drake's hands but was flung across the room before he ever managed to raise it.

Drake's skin turned pale and he would have collapsed if Modera's iron grip hadn't held him in place. The last image he saw in his mortal life was the moment that Emily had accepted his feelings. 
And then he was gone...

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