The streets of Dyrsfal carried the air of death. Once a bustling city, it was reduced to little more than a feeding ground for the Royal Vampires who preyed on its citizens when the moon was full. Few had the courage to leave their homes at night, opting to instead board up their windows, hang garlic from their ceilings and pray that they would live to see the next day.
Andy was a boy of 19 years who braved the night to venture outside. The wind was so cold that it stung, but his desire to see his girlfriend, an act that would defy his parents, was stronger than any force of nature.
It turns out that was the last mistake he would make. As he jogged down the final alley that would lead to his girlfriend’s apartment, he was knocked to the dirt from behind. He barely had time to react when a pair of hands grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around. Andy’s blood ran cold; it was a Royal Vampire.
“P-please, o noble vampire!” Andy blubbered, “I beg for my life! My, my girlfriend-“
The vampire immediately lunged at him and sank her fangs into his jugular. Andy tried to scream, but his mouth filled with blood and it wasn’t long before the life was drained from him. Alexis dropped the young man’s corpse and stood up, wiping her mouth clean. She sighed in satisfaction; young blood always tasted best.
Dyrsfal was Alexis’s hometown and favorite feeding ground; the influx of young immigrants looking to find work meant she never had to travel to other cities to feed. Initially, she had to compete with her fellow kindred for the ripest humans, but as a reward for her part in annihilating the Holy Land, Elder Last decreed that Alexis would have sole hunting rights for Dyrsfal.
Alexis rolled up her sleeve and etched a hash mark onto her bare arm using a silver dagger. The pain was immense, but it was a reminder to herself to never succumb to the hunger. Ever since the Kindred assumed command of the world’s governments, the abundance of flesh led many vampires into a drunken feeding frenzy, losing their minds forever. “Everything in moderation,” Elder Last once said before ordering his assassins to kill the rogue vampires.
Alexis was about to return to the shadows when her balance was shaken by a violent earthquake. The citizens of Dyrsfal were awoken from their slumber and many rushed to their windows to see a great vortex materialize in the sky. Alexis was transfixed by it; clouds flashing with lightning within swirled like a giant whirlpool as a bright light at the vortex’s center spread outward, turning night into day. Alexis winced and sought shelter, but it wasn’t long before the light subsided, the vortex vanished, and all was fine once more.
Or was it? Alexis found herself still in Dyrsfal…but there were humans walking around the streets! It took seconds before she heard someone cry out. “Help! Vampire! Vampire!!”
Immediately the throngs of pedestrians scattered for safety, screaming in terror, while a group of tough looking men hanging around a nearby cookhouse jumped to their feet and encircled Alexis, improvising weapons with shattered beer bottles and kitchen knives.
“Takes a lot of guts for a pale one to show her face in this town,” one of the men said menacingly before turning to his colleague and saying, “Get the professor down here.”
As the ringleader’s friend took off running, Alexis wasn’t sure if this was real or a dream. Moments ago she was prowling the near-deserted streets of Dyrsfal, its citizens huddled in the safety of their homes. Now she was surrounded by nearly a dozen of them, without the faintest sign of fear in their eyes.
Alexis gripped the handle of her blade tightly. “You dare use those words on a Kindred?” Alexis said indignantly, “You know what happens to disrespectful fleshbags?”
The men looked at each other and laughed. “Don’t worry, love,” the ringleader said menacingly, “We have a special kind of ‘respect’ for pale ones!”
The gang closed in. Alexis had to decide her next course of action.
In nearly 200 years, Alexis had never encountered such defiance from ordinary peasants. She bared her fangs and hissed at them. Some of the men jumped back in surprise, but the rest of just laughed and continued to close in.
“Come on baby, give us a kiss!”
Alexis didn’t wait any longer. She lunged at the ringleader and unsheathed her blade, decapitating him instantly. The man’s head hit the pavement with a meaty thud, followed by his lifeless corpse, geysers of blood spewing crimson from his neck stump. The rest of the mob shouted in surprise and quickly moved in to put down Alexis.
Alexis delivered a kick to the next attacker, thrusting him backwards into his comrades. She spun around and severed the arm of another man who was about to strike. She then followed up her stroke with a hard thrust, impaling the next attacker in the abdomen. She whipped her sword out, ripping an enormous hole in his belly and spilling his intestines.
The ecstasy of the bloodbath, the sensation of her enemy’s blood spray hitting her face…she hadn’t felt a rush like this in so long. So distracted was Alexis by the pleasure of battle that she didn’t notice the large brute behind her who heaved a chair on her head. Alexis grunted and fell forward, right into the arms of another thug who stabbed her repeatedly in the chest. The rest of the mob closed in and stabbed her from every direction. Though Alexis could never be killed by ordinary weapons, she wasn’t immune to pain and fell unconscious as an avalanche of agony overwhelmed her.
As the clouds parted to reveal the midnight moon, a horse carriage pulled up to the front of the local doctor’s house. Armed with a bag containing his crucifix, Bible and holy water, the Professor stepped out. One of the city’s guards walked up to him. “We’ve got her on the second floor,” he said. “She killed three men.”
“She appeared in the middle of the street?” the Professor responded.
“The witnesses we interviewed said they saw a flash of light in the sky, and when they looked back down, she was there.”
“Is anyone in the room with her?”
“Just the doctor.”
“Get him out of there. This is no ordinary vampire we’re dealing with.”
Alexis awoke to find herself lying on a gurney. Her clothes were a bloody mess and her injuries were not completely healed. She tried to move, but her hands were cuffed to the gurney. As she regained her senses, she felt the soul-destroying sensation of the hunger rising within her.
“I haven’t seen your kind in a while,” someone in the room said, “The last time I did, they burned her at the stake in the town square. It was quite spectacular.”
Alexis craned her head to see a middle aged doctor examining paperwork. He settled them on his desk, removed his glasses and walked over to her. “They’ve called in a specialist from the Holy Land. They call him the Professor.”
“Holy Land?!” Alexis seethed. “Release me. I order you.”
The doctor didn’t seem to hear the demand, peering close at her instead. “You look different from vampires of the past. Where are you from?”
“Dyrsfal! Release me!” Alexis said. The hunger was driving her mad; she needed to feed urgently, lest she lose all her strength and her mind.
“Here? That can’t be,” the doctor said, “The Holy Land sweeps this town every year with their psychics. They used to catch vampires, but nowadays it’s just an excuse to eliminate anyone who disagrees with them.”
“The Holy Land were destroyed. What are you talking about?! Release me!”
The doctor raised his eyebrows and stroked his chin with great fascination, but was startled by the sounds of approaching footsteps from outside. “Listen, I have nothing against vampires,” he said, “But this town…it’s been twisted by the Holy Land. The people here…they’re suffering from some affliction of the mind. I don’t know. I feel somehow you’re tied to everything that’s been happening here, but you don’t have much time left anyway. The Professor is on his way up here to finish you off. I’m sorry.”
While the doctor had been talking, Alexis had managed to partially squeeze her left hand through its shackle. She had an opportunity to make a getaway…if she wanted to.
“Before I die,” Alexis said as the footsteps outside grew closer, “I need to say something.”
“What is it?” the doctor said, arching his brow curiously.
Alexis muttered something under her breath. “I’m sorry, what?” the doctor said as he moved closer to hear her better. Alexis then grabbed him with her free hand, exposing his jugular to her fangs.
“Release me NOW!” Alexis hissed, her voice turning frighteningly inhuman as she gestured with her shackled right hand. The doctor gasped and instinctively fumbled for his key to unlock the shackle. Just then, the door opened and the Professor stepped in. Alexis leapt to her feet and used the doctor as a meat shield as the Professor whipped out his crucifix and held it at her.
“The power of God compels you!!” the Professor yelled. Alexis shrieked, a shockwave of holy power she hadn’t felt in 200 years slamming into her mind. She grabbed both the doctor and her katana, which was propped against the adjacent wall, and dived through the window, glass shattering spectacularly and raining on the guards below. The doctor didn’t have time to scream before his head hit the pavement, knocking him unconscious.
“STOP!” One of the guards shouted before Alexis cleaved him in two from head to groin. Alexis then picked up the doctor, hoisted him over her shoulder and sprinted away. The guards began opening fire at the Royal Vampire, the crackle of their rifles so loud they couldn’t hear the Professor shouting “Don’t shoot!” from the window above.
Even Alexis was surprised that the humans would risk of hitting their own doctor; she could feel their bullets whistling past her head. One bullet grazed her leg, causing her to fall to the floor. With the bullet fire still coming at her, she grabbed the doctor and dived into a nearby curb gutter.
In the lightless gutter, Alexis slid downwards before coming to a watery impact at the bottom. She emerged to the surface to find herself standing waist-deep in a large pool of blood. Right away she could smell that it wasn’t the fresh blood she craved; it was old, stale and disgusting.
The impact had awoken the doctor from his unconsciousness; he emerged from the pool as well, gasping for air. The underground reservoir they were in was lit by kerosene lanterns mounted on the walls.
“What happened?!” the doctor exclaimed as he regained his senses, “What the-“
Even for a Royal Vampire who had killed hundreds, Alexis was unsettled by the sight of this place. A river of blood ran where there should have been water. Human corpses in varying states of decay were piled along the sides; men, women and children, many of them violently torn apart. The expressions of terror on their faces suggested their deaths were slow.
“So it’s true,” the doctor said, his voice trembling as he wiped the blood from his face.
“What have you people done?!” Alexis snarled as she climbed out of the muck.
“For months now, people have been disappearing…entire families of people who spoke out against the Holy Land,” the doctor said as Alexis helped him out of the blood river. She grabbed one of the lanterns and the two made their way through the cave. “It used to be the Holy Land doing the persecuting, but now they don’t have to; the people here are doing it to each other! Some kind of strange groupthink has taken over everyone. I can’t explain it. It had something to do with experiments the Holy Land were doing at Hawkmor. At least that’s what my assistant told me before…they took him.”
Alexis shook her head, her contempt for humanity reaffirmed. She grabbed the doctor by the neck and held him close. “You will take us somewhere safe or you’ll end up just like them!” she said, pointing at the dead bodies.
“Ah! Y-yes. Don’t hurt me, please. We can go to my son’s house. I think it’s this way,” said the doctor, studying the signs on the cave walls.
“Hold on,” Alexis said as she heard someone whimpering. Among the pile of corpses was a young girl who was still alive. She had multiple stab wounds and was gasping for breath. Alexis leaned close to smell her.
“What are you…” the doctor said worriedly. Suddenly, Alexis sank her fangs into the girl’s neck, draining her blood with terrifying ferocity. Seconds later, she was dead and Alexis was thoroughly satisfied.
“She was going to die anyway,” Alexis said. The doctor was horrified, but left with little choice, gestured for them to get going.
After ten minutes of journeying, the doctor pointed to a ladder. They emerged to the surface and, under the cover of darkness, proceeded to their destination. As they neared the house, Alexis felt a change in the air as a high pitched ringing invaded her ears. The doctor winced and covered his ears, but seconds later the sound was gone.
“What was that?” Alexis said.
“I don’t know; I’ve felt this before. Let’s keep moving.”
The doctor knocked on the door cautiously, trying not to alert any nearby guards, but there was no answer. Alexis shoved the man aside, unsheathing her sword. She jammed the blade against the lock and, with a little effort, broke it.
“Andy? Andy are you home?” the doctor said as he searched the house. Alexis stopped in her tracks. That name sounded familiar, “Andy, there are you are. I...My God, Andy, what have you done?”
Alexis followed the doctor to find him in the living room with Andy. Indeed, it was the same young man that, just hours ago, she was gorging on. His eyes were glazed over and he held a knife in his hand, blood dripping from it. Next to him was a dead woman, her body riddled with stab wounds.
“Andy my boy, can you hear me?” the doctor pleaded. Andy didn’t respond and instead slowly walked towards his father, the knife in his hand pointed straight ahead.
“Dad,” Andy said, lumbering towards the doctor, “I can show you what it is to be blessed.”
“Get back. He’s become one of them,” Alexis said as she moved in for the kill.
“NO! I’m his father. I can help him!” the doctor said, ignoring the threatening manner his son was approaching him. “Andy, it’s gonna be alright, just put the knife down!”
Alexis had to decide what to do.
Alexis was only too happy to watch the doctor’s foolishness unfold.
“Andy, remember all those days when we’d go out and paint pictures of the sky, the clouds?” said the doctor to his deranged son, “Remember how we turned the day into night?”
Incredibly, the doctor’s words seemed to have an effect on Andy. He stopped in his tracks and slowly lowered the knife. Even Alexis was impressed. Not bad for a human.
“Dad, help me,” Andy said, “the machine…it…it…”
“Machine?” the doctor said, “What machine?”
Alexis’s attention was distracted by the sounds of clamor outside. She looked out the window and saw an angry mob approaching the house, some carrying torches, most carrying pitchforks, shovels, and other household items that could be used as weapons.
The doctor also turned away from his son to briefly glance at the gathering mob outside, and that was when Andy reverted to his possessed state and thrust his knife into his belly. Alexis smirked and shook her head. “Idiot,” she muttered.
The doctor grunted and fell to the floor, clutching his abdomen, blood flowering from his wound. Andy suddenly turned to and pounced at Alexis. “I WITNESSED THE SIGN!” he shrieked, a deranged smile on his face.
The Royal Vampire was caught off guard by his inhuman speed. She tried to draw her sword, but Andy swatted it away. He thrust his knife at her face. Alexis instinctively raised her hand and the blade punctured her palm and emerged on the other side. Andy tried to draw back the knife, but it was stuck in Alexis’s hand. Alexis headbutted Andy, and as the boy recoiled, she followed up with a roundhouse kick that sent him flying out the house through the window.
Meanwhile, the angry mob outside was slowly closing in, chanting “Burn the bitch!” as they did so. Alexis sprang into action, blocking the front door and all the windows with the various bookshelves and drawers in the house.
With the house reasonably barricaded, she made her way to the roof to get a good vantage point. There were at least a hundred people surrounding the house, the hatred for Kindred burning strong in their eyes. Among them was Andy, who had recovered from Alexis’s kick and was still in his psychotic state.
The chanting of the crowd was deafening. They were about to hurl their torches at the house to burn Alexis out when, as if by some ironic divine intervention, it began to rain. The angry mob’s torches were promptly extinguished, and this only made them angrier.
“Get in there and kill her!” someone shouted. The strongest men in the crowd rushed the house and hacked away at the barricades Alexis put up with their weapons while the rest hung around outside. Alexis had to make another crucial choice.
With the rain intensifying, Alexis decided that the house was too confined of a space to battle in. She was going to take the fight outdoors instead.
Unsheathing her sword, she slid down the rooftop like a snowboarder and somersaulted off the edge. As she soared in the air towards her landing spot in the throng below, she pointed her sword towards the ground. Arcs of electricity lashed out from the blade as the Royal Vampire focused her energy into it.
The mob below didn’t see Alexis land until it was too late. Her electrified sword struck the ground, which was now covered in an inch of rainwater. Instantly, several dozens of Dyrsfal’s angriest were electrocuted; they screamed painfully as their bodies writhed with unholy energy, shards of electricity violently erupting from every orifice, liquefying their eyes and causing their brains to bleed out of their ears.
Alexis recovered from her landing as her victims hit the floor in unison. The rest of the mob closed in for the kill. Alexis steeled her mind, remembering what happened the last time she tried to take on numbers like this. As the first attacker charged at her with his hatchet, Alexis delivered a floor sweeping kick, knocking him off his feet. Before he hit the ground, Alexis cleaved him in half. She then launched herself at an adjacent group of attackers, spinning in the air like a deadly tornado. Three more attackers were dismembered in an incomprehensible shower of blood and body parts.
“Pale bitch!” Alexis heard someone behind her shout right before she was knocked to the floor. She rolled over and recognized him; the brute who smashed a chair on her head from before. This time he had a steel bar for a weapon. The adrenaline in her going crazy, Alexis rolled to the side to dodge the brute’s next strike, which hit the ground so hard that it kicked up an eruption of rainwater. She delivered another sweeping leg strike, knocking down everyone around her and rising to her feet in the process. Before the brute had time to even face Alexis, she lashed out with her blade and sheared off his jaw. Alexis then hissed like a mad cobra, her fangs glistening and her eyes wide open, and delivered a fatal neck bite to the brute. Within a second, she had emptied the man of all the blood in his head. Alexis then allowed him to drop dead.
She readied her blade for the remaining attackers. She had killed close to twenty, but there were many more to slaughter. The mob closed in once more with hatred in their eyes; it’s as if they were becoming less human with each minute.
Suddenly, a powerful flash of lightning briefly turned night to day and sent Alexis’s ears ringing. The mob lost their willpower and parted like the red sea, dispersing into the shadows. Alexis looked around, confused and disappointed. Then, through the rain, she saw a lone figure before her. He had a crucifix in one hand and a Bible in the other. The Professor.
“Enough!” the Professor said, raising his crucifix in the air. Alexis grunted as she felt a surge of holy power enveloping her. “Tell me your name, unclean one!”
“F**K YOU!” Alexis screamed, as a bolt of lightning flashed in the sky.
The Professor was undeterred. He advanced towards Alexis, who backed away as his holy power grew in intensity the closer he got. “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written that you shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only!’” he shouted, reading from his bible. Those words felt like needles being driven into her eardrums.
“You are no servant of God!” Alexis said, struggling to stand upright against the advancing Professor, “What I’ve seen here-“
“Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they fell before Him and cried: ‘You are the Son of God!’” The Professor continued reading, driving Alexis further back. He then closed his book and channelled his power into his crucifix. Alexis was hit by the full blast, her screams echoing across all of Dyrsfal as every muscle in her body surged with pain.
“I COMMAND YOU, TELL ME YOUR NAME!”
“NAAAAAAME!” Alexis bellowed, windows shattering around her, “I AM ALEXIS BATHORY THE THIRD! SERVANT TO THE NINTH KINDRED ARMY! FOURTH LIEUTENANT OF THE ORDER OF ELDER LAST!”
“So, you’re from the other side,” said the Professor, releasing Alexis from the grip of his power. The Royal Vampire fell to her knees, panting heavily. “A world run by your kind, I cannot imagine the terror people feel. The injustice that goes on every day.”
“Humans are cattle,” Alexis seethed, “but in my world, cattle don’t slaughter one another like they do here!”
The Professor shook his head and readied his crucifix for a final attack. “I am an agent of God, heretic,” he said, “and your lies don’t work on me. God will forgive even you, but it’s my job to arrange the meeting.”
The Professor’s ability was beyond what Alexis could have imagined, but even under the terror of his Holy power, she was still faster on her feet. She had literally one second to react before he obliterated her forever.
As Alexis summoned the entirety of her willpower, time slowed down in her mind. The raindrops slowed to a crawl, suspended in the air like a picture frozen in time. Alexis launched herself at the Professor, moving with frightening speed, seemingly defying the laws of physics.
The Professor was caught off-guard by Alexis’s speed; within a split second, she was within arm’s reach! Lacking the time to conjure the fatal blast, he was forced to cast a short-ranged blast.
Alexis swung her blade, but the Professor’s holy smite detonated prematurely, blowing her away. She hit her head on a light post and crashed through an adjacent building before slamming into the asphalt, hitting it so hard that the ground cratered around her.
The Professor’s silhouette appeared at the top of the crater. Alexis tried to move, but her body was unresponsive. The Professor’s crucifix was glowing bright with divine energy. It was over.
“In the name of God, I-“
The Professor found himself out of breath. He felt something in his side as he raised his arm to smite Alexis. He looked down to see blood welling up from a deep slash wound that ran from the side of his rib cage all the way to his sternum. As the realization hit home, he felt the life draining from him.
The Professor smiled and laughed quietly to himself. He calmly pocketed his crucifix and Bible and took off his glasses, wiping the raindrops from each lens before tucking it into his jacket. He turned around to walk away, but stumbled when his knees suddenly went weak. He tried to stand, but instead fell to the ground. Within seconds, he had stopped moving.
Alexis sighed in relief, but her troubles weren’t over just yet; a utility post had become dislodged from the ground and fell towards her, its frayed wires sparking dangerously in the rain. Alexis braced for the worst when someone grabbed and pull her out of the crater, just as the utility post crashed on the spot she was at seconds ago.
Alexis turned to see her rescuer: it was the doctor. He dragged Alexis to the front porch of Andy’s house, where he administered an adrenaline shot to her. Gradually, Alexis regained a bit of her strength; enough to stand up and move, albeit slowly.
“I saw you die,” Alexis said, unable to bring herself to thank a lowly human.
The doctor struggled for words for a moment. “It’s been so long. 100, 200 years, I don’t even know. I had completely forgotten what I used to be…what I still am.”
Alexis sat up, wincing from her splintered bones grinding against flesh. “You’re Kindred,” she said. “That’s why you couldn’t be turned.”
The doctor rubbed his abdomen; his knife injury had healed.
“Only once my mortality was laid bare before me that I remembered I was immortal. After the war, I came here. I changed my name, my life, everything. I adopted a son. I buried my memories so well that the Holy Land never suspected a thing, not even him.” He said, looking at the dead Professor.
“You fought with Elder Last?” Alexis said.
“Yes. I specialized in illusions. I could control the weather, like the rain, to help my brethren,” said the doctor, gesturing to the rainfall that saved Alexis from being burned out by the mob.
Before Alexis could respond, a brilliant light turned night into day. Alexis and the doctor watched as what appeared to be an angel descended from the sky. She hovered above the Professor’s corpse and raised her hand, levitating him off the ground. The Angel briefly looked at Alexis, and, without saying a word, floated back up to the sky, carrying the Professor’s body with her. The light subsided, and it was night in Dyrsfal once again.
“The Holy Land won’t take a defeat like that lightly,” the doctor said, “They will return in force. They’ve seen your face. You’ve got to get out of here, maybe find a way back to your world.”
Alexis struggled to her feet. The doctor tried to help her, but she gestured for him to stay put. At least half of her ribs were shattered, her spine was partially dislocated, her left arm was broken, and her skull and right leg were fractured. It was going to take a long, long time for her to recover.
“Come on,” Alexis said, “There’s nothing left for you here. We have to find the rest of the Kindred and fight back!”
The doctor shook his head. “We were wiped out. Last isn’t even on this planet anymore. There’s nothing left to do but survive. You go ahead. I’m going to try and salvage what’s left of this town, starting with the reservoirs. The corpses in there have been rotting for so long that everything underground is filled with gasses. A single spark would ignite the whole town.”
“Why stay? Everyone’s lost their minds. They hate you,” Alexis said.
“There’s nothing for me outside this place. I have to try and help them, and find my son Andy. Maybe there’s a cure,” the doctor said, “Head down that street and make a left. That’s your way out.”
There was no use arguing. Alexis picked up her sword and limped towards the way out. Just as she rounded the corner, she saw a kerosene lamp hanging from a door. Close by was a sewer gutter much like the one she fell into earlier. The gears in her weary mind started turning.
Straining from the pain, Alexis reached forth and picked up the kerosene lamp. She held it close to the sewer gutter. As a result of their own murderous sins, the citizens of Dyrsfal had made it so easy for even a half-dead, crippled vampire to annihilate them with one flame. She smiled at the thought.
Then she looked back to the doctor. He was dragging the dead out of the rain, draping a white sheet over them to preserve their dignity. She couldn’t understand why a fellow Kindred would do such a thing for those who hated him. Yet through her prejudice, Alexis understood that the first Kindred she met in this strange new realm deserved at least her understanding.
Alexis set the lamp down and continued walking. She could see the citizens of Dyrsfal watching her from behind the safety of windows and dark alleys, some of them whispering fearfully. Alexis stopped to address them.
“All of you bear witness to what’s happened here!” Alexis shouted defiantly, “This is only the start. The Kindred will rise again!”
With that, Alexis was on her way. Her heart burned with determination, but her mind was frozen with so many questions. How did the Holy Land rise to power in this world? How will she get back to her world? What was “the machine” Andy mentioned? Where is Elder Last? The road ahead promised nothing but uncertainty, but somehow, she had to find the answers she sought and return the Royal Vampires to their rightful supremacy.