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Nocturnal - Chapter 1: Fighting Back

Chapter 1 of Nocturnal

Lycan bolted upright in his bed gasping at the sensations from his waking dreams. Though it was the first night he had not had nightmares since his town had been obliterated, the dream still woke him. Breathing heavily he sat upright, still half covered in old tattered sheets; he remembered the details of the dream. The wolves surrounding him, the great white wolf standing before him in the center of the pack, the sensations of his new found power. It all seems so unreal , he thought. But the thought quickly passed as he sensed the differences in his body and what he once was. He heard the creaking of every house in his town, the clatter of a cabinet door being moved in the wind from an open window three houses away, he heard the trees rustle in the bellows of wind at the edge of town, he heard the night raptors wings flap as they rose to the tree limbs with their prey, all as if he were standing within a foot of them. He could smell the creatures of the night at their great distance, he could even smell the subtle differences in the air that mark the cold night.

He sat thinking of the now desolate town. The attack had wiped out everyone in the town not lucky enough to escape. Those he lost never left his mind, he always missed them, always yearned to go back and protect them. But his ability was not one of time; he could not save those he had already lost. It was this that made him decide, that after one last night in his home, he would travel to the nearest town and save as many as he could. He now had the power to fight back, to build his own army. He now had the power to eventually eradicate the demons. And he now had the responsibility to find those worthy to serve the cause. Wiping the sweat from his brow he lay back down and closed his eyes. Trying to forget his lost loved ones he focused on his next goal.

Upon rising in the morning Lycan salvaged what he could from the stores of food left in the small town. He prepared a small pack for himself and left. The old dirt road was long but uneventful, all the while he traveled he wondered what he would find in the new town and practiced focusing his senses on the surroundings, trying to figure out how to use them more efficiently. Now approaching the town strained his eyes to see what lay ahead. His hopes were not dashed as he saw people bustling about still alive. Upon closer inspection he noticed that people seemed to be loading up hand carts, carriages, and wagons with supplies for a long journey. He could see the fear in their eyes, the confusion, and the sadness. He knew the vampires had started their games and he wondered how many they had already lost. He was filled with a newfound determination to protect these people, to give them hope, to gain new allies. As he approached the town entrance he was hailed by an official of the town. He wore a chain mail hauberk and sat upon a tall grey horse. His face was lined with age yet his green eyes still seemed young. He seemed to be a man in his mid-forties with a thick mustache and crooked nose.

"Ho there warrior, you'd best turn back to wherever you came from you'll find no safety here. That or you better be ready to travel with us to the next city. This poor town is forsaken."

"Actually sir this is why I am here. I know what you face; I can see it in the townspeople. The demons have started their games with you haven't they?"

"Games? What you speak of is no game stranger they have come and killed 10 of our finest guardsmen, or so we think. They dragged them off as if they were dolls. And these were no kids; these men were strong and trained as soldiers."

"The vampires are strong, and fast, beyond our reckoning. As hard as you may have struggled they could have wiped you out the first night. This is only how they start; they are only toying with you, bathing in your fear. They enjoy the suffering of others; they prolong it until they are either satisfied or bored. Soon they will full on attack this place and if they have their way none will survive."

"And how do we know you are not one of them stranger? You seem to know so much about the fiends."

"I am from the town Trulian, surely you know of it?" The sad look on the man’s face was as good an answer as any. “I am the only survivor so far as I know and I come to you in sunlight to prove to you I am not with them. I am here to try and save as many here as I can. I have lost everything and wish this fate upon no other. I am here to help you fight."

"You come here and tell me our finest men were only entertainment for the demons and then try to tell me you can help us fight them? Who are you to be so vain? Still you are right that your being in sunlight proves you not with those horrid creatures, and yet you have survived in the wilderness seemingly alone. That much says something about your character. Who are you warrior?"

"My name is Lycan and as I mentioned I come from the town of Trulian. I was once in desperation as you all are now. I tried to fight them but they seemed invincible. They wiped out the entire town. I was able to escape at the morning of the last attack. I have obtained a new power and with it I will have my vengeance for the innocent blood they've taken. And I have devoted myself to protecting those targeted by their horror."

"A noble deed Lycan, but forgive me I cannot see an end to this. I cannot see of anything other than the sun that can kill these creatures. How is it that you propose we fight something even you yourself called invincible? No, now our only hope is to run."

"And where would you run to? The nearest city from here, that still lives, is more than a day’s travel. These things are night hunters they will track you easily and slaughter you. What I offer is hard to explain it is something that I must show you. As you seem to be an authority here can you give me audience to the town? I wish to try and convince those that will stay and fight that there is hope."

"I can do this but I warn you that no one will stay. We have already voted as a town and the vote was unanimous, we must leave here. Nevertheless I will try to assemble the people for you. Not because I myself believe in your words, though you have some backing, but because as a man who has lost everything I believe you deserve a chance. My name is Jace Torimson and on behalf of my lost town I welcome you, Lycan, to Brithford."

"Thank you, Jace, you are a good man. And if any stay with me I will protect them or die trying."

The man trotted off on his horse going from person to person helping them while relaying the message of a meeting. As the day grew on townspeople loaded their belongings and food as fast as they could to try and beat nightfall, even though they knew they would not make it. By dusk most of the people had met at the usual meeting place around the platform that held the stocks. Once the group had assembled the official Jace walked up to Lycan and said, "I hope you're ready, they won't stay here long." Then he walked up the steps to the platform and called attention to the crowd using a bell, about half the size of a wagon wheel, mounted near the corner of the large platform.

"People of Brithford, I have called you here at the request of a man who has come to us as a survivor of Trulian. As you have suspected from the lost transports and missing messengers sent that way, the town was attacked and is no more. This man has lost everything and out of respect for him and his lost loved ones, I have called you here to listen to his request." The man stepped down from the platform and walked to stand with the crowd. Lycan in turn took his place to stand upon the platform under the quizzical, and sad, gaze of the towns people.

"People of Brithford, I come before you today to tell you of my story, and to possibly give you hope and courage. As your official has declared I have come here as the only survivor of Trulian, to share my knowledge, and offer you my strength. I have lost all that is dear to me by the very same scourges that now torture you. I have attempted to fight them to kill them and to protect my people....And I have failed them. My village has been wiped out. It started just as I’ve been told it started here. These creatures are evil they enjoy the suffering of others. They have begun to toy with you and prey upon your fears. I have been where you are now; I have felt the suffering of lost loved ones, and nightmares of murder. When they finally got bored and decided to fully decimate the town, I was able to escape. I kept myself alive throughout the night until dawn. When the sun arose they hid in the shadows, as they always do, and I fled. In my escape I knew not what to do. I pled for help, for strength to anyone that might be listening....And I was visited. I was visited by a higher power, which endowed me with strength beyond belief, keener senses, and more importantly the ability to kill the vampires. I am here to tell you that we can fight back, we can destroy them. Stay here with me and make a stand, we will defend this place. And after we have made a stand we can help others. To those strong enough, and willing, I can give you the power to fight back just as I have. Together we can save your people, we can save our people. Unless we do something our race is doomed."

The townspeople stood and stared at the stranger, some with tears in their eyes, though he suspected not out of agreement with his speech. He could see the sadness in their eyes, the pity, that overwhelmed them. They did not want to stay but it took what seemed like minutes before anyone had the courage to put the poor man down. "I'm sorry but I can't... Nothing but sunlight can kill those things! We have to leave!" Similar shouts of denial and rebuke rang out from the crowd and some began to leave.

"Please all I ask is that you stay here one night and let me show you what I’ve been given. Let me protect you and prove to you that we have a chance!" The people seemed to feel deeply sorrowful for the man’s losses but refused to believe that he was anything but crazy. As the crowd slowly disbursed and continued to pack, some leaving on the trail already, Jace approached him again and said, "I am sorry but your claim is hard to believe. We are nearly a broken people but we still want to stay a people. We need to survive... However feel not too terribly there are a lot of the townspeople who will not be able to leave town tonight they have not prepared enough. I will be here as well to help guard them and you are more than welcome to join what remains of us. If we survive this night we plan to join the others on the path to the north."

"I thought there would be at least some but I had to try to keep everyone here. Those who are trying to escape tonight will become the new method of fear for those of you here. They will only get as far as their screams can still be heard. As one of the guard do you know where people are staying? And if so may I make a request?"

"The remaining part of the town will be staying mainly in their own homes, excluding the newly widowed; they will be staying with some of our others for company and protection for the night. I'll hear your request."

"If you have a place big enough I would ask that you have the remaining townspeople all stay in the same building. They will be easier to protect from one location and I still wish to do everything possible for them. I cannot guarantee the safety of those traveling tonight or even the people still here unless we group everyone. I know to you I must sound crazy but as I am willing tonight to die in protection of your people please grant me this request."

"I will do my best Lycan but I cannot guarantee this will work. And for the sake of this succeeding I'd have to ask that you do not tell anyone this is your idea. As desperate as you are some think you mad and will avoid following your instruction."

"You have my thanks again Torimson but may I ask why you trust me so much?"

"I have seen many battles in my day, whether from protecting the town from packs of wolves, or another town or tyrant trying to put us under their rule, I have seen men lose what is precious to them, and I have seen men go crazy from the loss. But you do not have that look. If anything you appear calm and collected, your gaze is straight and knowledgeable. You are not crazy Lycan but I still do not know what you are. And with these creatures taking us I'll take all the help I can get. And these people mean everything to me. I'd sooner accept help from the ravenous wolves that once plagued us then to give up without trying."

Lycan laughed and said,

"You know not how true your words are Torimson, and I understand your dedication." The two men shook hands as if to complete a deal and parted ways. The soldier strode off and mounted his horse giving orders to other men who spread out to talk to the townspeople staying for the night. As the day progressed more people joined together and went on the trail to the north while others prepared to stay and began to barricade the doors to the largest building in town, the courthouse. As the sun fell, and the light began to fade, the remaining third of the town went in to the last entrance to the courthouse and barricaded the door behind them. There were four guards surrounding the building including Jace, four others waiting in the first entrance to the courthouse before the barricaded inner doors.

Once everyone was inside, excluding the guards, Lycan took his place in front of the court house. Lycan turned to Jace and said, "I wish to warn you, my power may frighten you but do not fear I am in control of it and will not harm any human."

"As you say" said Jace with a raised eyebrow. The night had come and now all they could do was wait. An hour passed without trouble, then another. Soon the men were beginning to be optimistic and joke to each other that maybe they had scared them off the previous night. Though not long after they began to hear shouts to the north. "The caravan..." Muttered Jace. The shouts soon became screams of terror. The screams made Lycan's neck prickle and they continued for minutes. "Someone...Help these people" muttered Lycan, then silence. The silence was haunting, the soundless tendrils of fear gripping the remaining townspeople. The silence seemed to speak to them, you're next, it said, we're coming for you.

Someone inside let out a faint cry and they fell silent as someone seemed to comfort them. After minutes of terrifying silence Lycan began to smell something approaching fast. He could smell massive amounts of blood as if the creatures were drenched in it.

One....Two....Three...Four...He sensed. Four of them coming their way. Lycan turned to Jace and said,

"There's four coming from the north, be ready and give me some space. This could get messy."

Jace opened his mouth about to ask how he knew when some of the horses and livestock began to stir. Lycan could now hear them in the trees at the edges of the town moving faster than anything he had previously known. It was then he noticed only two had entered the town. He turned to Jace and said,

"They're here."

Just then two dark shadows darted seemingly from nowhere. One jumped twenty feet in the air towards Lycan the other attempting to circle around toward Jace. Lycan widened his stance preparing himself for the impact. The vampire fell upon him, hands open and arms outstretched, ready to grab his shoulders or throat. The creature seemed confident until he was within feet of Lycan and his expression turned to one of question. The vampire landed with extreme force, knocking dust into the air, expecting a meal. Lycan's arms moved up, with lightning speed, grasping the vampire's forearm and wrist.

A smile crept across Lycan’s face as he looked into the black eyes of the vampire he had in his grasp. The vampire had a look of blatant astonishment. Clearly no one had ever been able to predict his movements much less catch him by his limbs. "You weren't expecting that now were you?" Said Lycan amused. "Now you die demon!" Lycan’s arms and legs grew thicker as the transformation started, His eyes changing from deep blue to solid gold with a silver ring around his pupil. The vampire seemed to struggle and pull but to no avail. The vampire’s expression changed from astonishment to fear as Lycan began to take on wolf like characteristics. The beast now stood nearly 3 and a half feet taller than the vampire. Black fur shining in the moonlight on the creatures body, and it began to chuckle with a deep horrifying voice. The beasts giant jaws wrapped completely around the vampire’s neck while Lycan’s right hand moved from the vampire’s wrist to his leg. With a great pull the vampire came in three pieces.

Lycan turned, still holding the dismembered lifeless body, to the vampire quickly approaching Jace. The man stood, with impressive bravery, his sword drawn barely able to see the vampire coming to him. Lycan threw the largest of his three pieces at the charging vampire. Just as the vampire was within sward range the huge piece of gore rocketed into him sending him flying back thirty feet. Lycan shouted to Jace,

"Group with the others there are still two more out here somewhere."

Jace shuttered at the monstrous voice and turned his gaze upon the giant black beast. The man sputtered,

"You could have explained in greater detail...”

But Lycan cut him off

“You never would have believed me. This was my only chance of staying here to fight now go!"

The frightened soldier dashed to his companions to support them just as the other vampire was beginning to stand up. Lycan tackled the it back to the ground the creature first tried to shove him away as he would a normal human. But as he saw the hulking beast he thrashed wildly to get free. Just as Lycan was about to dispatch him his keen senses picked up the other two vampires. No, they circled around to the east! They're coming from behind! As the realization struck him the vampire threw him off and attempted to scramble to his feet. Being able to easily run on all fours or on two legs Lycan lunged at him again from the ground and bit the vampires shoulder and ripped off his right arm. The creature howled in pain as the limb was severed, when at that same moment the stub where his arm was began to sizzle and drip as if it were drenched in acid. The creature grasped his shoulder in a frenzied panic and stumbled backward. Lycan then put his jaws around the creature’s neck and decapitated it.

At that moment he heard one of the soldiers in the back scream and he hoped he would not be too late. He ran as fast as he could around the large court house. His speed and agility were so shocking, and unnatural to him he almost fell. Stumbling but keeping his pace he thought to himself somebody save them! He rounded the corner and found a dead soldier with three others backed against the courthouse walls. He looked to see the two vampires entangled with wild beasts. He soon recognized the scent and was able to see they were fighting with wolves. The poor beasts were no match in strength but the vampires seemed to be severely cautious of their jaws. They must be poisonous to them like I am, thought Lycan. Then he ran towards the first vampire and brought his massive right arm across the creature’s chest, severing the vampire in two. When the two pieces hit the ground the vampire’s legs seemed to disintegrate whereas his torso stayed intact. The bottom half of the vampire began to quickly grow back when Lycan was upon him. The vampire lying on his back looked up at the muscled beast in awe. Then his massive jaws closed over the creatures' head and with a loud crunch he creature ceased to regenerate. The other vampire threw the wolf attacking him into the other. The beasts yelped in pain and, with a glance at Lycan, retreated back to the woods. The vampire was awestruck for a brief moment as were the other vampires before their deaths. Lycan tore at the demon with fluid speed and raked it across the hips with his large claws, leaving four huge gashes across the vampires left hip.

The vampire stumbled and looked at the gore with wonder as the gashes did not start healing. Lycan stepped forward and closed his hand around the creature’s neck.

"You shall be my example"

The beast roared with renewed intensity. Lycan picked the vampire high above the ground, and with his other hand, hacked off the creatures legs using his huge claws. The vampire screamed in pain. The legs did not grow back and then Lycan turned to the three remaining frightened soldiers.

"I need strong chains, about ten feet."

The men scrambled and ran for the town. Lycan dragged the vampire to the center of the town where the platform was. He stood at the top and waited for the men to return, No doubt they saw the towering beast, in the moonlight, on the platform. When the men returned they were reluctant to approach Lycan and were looking at him with both fear and astonishment.

"I need you to open the stocks. I am going to put the vampire in it and I want you to chain him down."

The men holding the chains stood and stared at him frightened of the beastly voice. Then Jace being the bravest took the chains and did as Lycan had said. Once the vampire was in the closed stocks Lycan checked the chains to make sure they were secure. When he was sure they were he changed back into his regular form. The men stared at him in awestruck disbelief; one of them found the courage to speak and said,

"Now what?"

"

Now we wait...”

The remaining hours of the night passed and the vampire continued to feebly struggle. When the night was nearly over Lycan took to the platform again and stood to watch the light seep into the morning sky. As he did he took the rope attached to the bronze colored bell and began to ring it loudly. As he did he saw the men inside the entrance to the court leave the building and stare at the stocks in wide eyed silence. He continued to ring the bell and heard more rustling as the barricades from the inside doors were being removed. When the sun was nearly on the horizon the people began assembling around the platform. The vampire seeing the light continuing to brighten began to struggle and scream. As the last of the people left the courthouse Lycan stopped ringing the bell and began to shout to the people.

"People of Brithford, I call you to this meeting place to give you my proof. Here is one of the foul demons that did not succeed in killing us. Here is one if the tormented souls who have killed your people and mine. And here upon the stocks of Brithford he dies."

As he spoke the creature seemed to writhe in pain. Its skin began to redden as the tip of the sun hit the horizon. As the sun rose further the creature’s skin charred, and blackened, and flaked away.

Once the vampire was nothing more than ashes, Lycan began to speak again.

"Today we fought back, today we succeeded, and tomorrow we survive. I now ask again will you help me defeat these creatures, will you trust me?"

The crowd before him cheered with jubilation now that they knew the vampires could be killed.

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