Friday, 21 August 2009

By The Light of the Silvery Moon

Vlad tried to shrink behind the Count as he found himself caught in the cold green gaze of the wolf standing before him. The Count snorted derisively and pushed Vlad forward.

'What's the matter Vladimirescu? Have you never seen a wolf before?'

Vlad heard the words in his head, conveyed in a flat, cold tone.

'Did it talk? I heard no words!' Vlad tried to jump backwards again, but only managed to collide with the vast bulk of the Count, and was swiftly pushed forwards once more.

'I think that de Cazalrenoux might start getting offended if you keep on referring to him as an 'it'' observed Antonescu drily 'When he is in his wolf form, he communicates by telepathy'.

'You seem to know a lot about our race, Count' commented Roland in their heads.

Vlad couldn't help jumping and by now his eyes were wide as saucers and his dark curls were jiggling furiously.

'So can you read my mind now' he asked, rather loudly as he was so rattled.

'The top thoughts certainly' replied the cold voice in his head 'And I suppose that I could delve further if I chose, but most minds aren't worth the effort. They tend to be grubby and neglected, a bit like the kind of houses that Health Inspectors are called out to.'

'So how do you do it? Does Antonescu hear everything I hear, or can you have one to one conversations?' Vlad replied.

'You don't have to speak out loud for me to hear you; in fact it would be safer for everyone if you would stop shouting so much' said the voice that was Roland the Wolf 'We don't want half of London turning up to see what is going on'.

Vlad flushed. Between Antonescu and de Cazalrenoux, he felt like an ungainly adolescent. They always seemed to be wrong-footing him, and he felt that he was the butt of some private joke between them. But he, Demitrie Vladimirescu, was the Leader of the Romanian Vampires. He totally outranked Antonescu and was of equal, if not higher rank, than the Leader of a Werewolf Clan!

Roland must have caught the gist of these thoughts as he suddenly chuckled deep in his furry throat.

'Don't worry Vladimirescu, Antonescu can't hear what I'm saying now. You can rest assured that we do not have some private joke against you going on. I have picked up enough from your mind that you have been given cause to doubt the Count, and that you and he have quarrelled about this? asked the voice in his head drily.

Vlad opened his mouth to reply and then firmly shut it again.

'I don't know what to think any more, de Cazalrenoux' he thought in his head instead.

'Is anyone who they say they are? Can I trust anyone? My people, the Romanian Vampires are being annihilated, and I have no idea how to stop this happening! You are a Clan Leader, you must know how this feels, this need to protect your people, this feeling of helplessness?'

Vlad felt a warm rush of feeling envelop him like a soft, fluffy blanket. De Cazalrenoux was offering him his sympathy and understanding.

'But what are we to do?' he thought.

'The first thing we must do is get inside somewhere and out of sight, away from prying eyes. The last thing we need is the police chasing a large dog-like creature and two mysterious dark figures! I think the best thing is if we go back to your house Vladimirescu. We could never get into my apartment block without being spotted!'thought Roland into Vlad's head.

'Yes, I think that's a good idea; we are not doing any good just standing here. We need to work out a plan to rescue Mike and find Kingsteignton.'

Vlad turned to the Count, who was beginning to look a little sour at being left out of the conversation, and said decisively 'We are returning to my house to make plans; we will have to keep up with the wolf, so we will dematerialise and fly'.

Antonescu opened his mouth to protest, thought better of it, and drew himself up to his full height.

'I will take the wolf's clothes' he said regally, bending over and picking up Roland's destroyed raiment.

At that the two vampires evaporated into a trail of fine black smoke and Roland starting galloping hard in the direction of the river.

Meanwhile, the moon continued her stately climb through the night sky and sent silvery moonbeams to bounce off the sleeping world below. She pushed her silvery fingers though the pink Cinderella curtains and smiled at Proserpine laying sleeping like an angel tucked under her pink duvet, more silvery fingers peeped in the window at Malvolio and Eunice Batchworth joyfully drinking wine and making love as he somehow managed to push back the time of his turning, and they even penetrated the bars of the tiny window in the basement of Lord Kingsteignton's house, where Mike Costello lay trussed like a spring chicken, shaking with fear.

The only place where they could not reach was the cold depths of the caves in Romania, where something ancient and evil was stirring. Something that was causing the very earth itself to shake and split in two.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Too Close To Moonrise

Roland settled into a steady lope and covered the ground easily as he cut his way through the darkened suburban back gardens. He easily jumped any fences or walls that he encountered, and continued on his way without his heart beat rising one iota or breaking into a sweat. One of the advantages of being a werewolf was not having to go to the gym to keep fit!

He was not worried about the car; the police would never be able to identify him through it. It was his strict policy that none of the Clan vehicles could ever be traced back to them and they all had falsified registrations and insurance taken out under other names and linked to non-existent addresses. He would make no attempt to retrieve the vehicle; it just wasn't worth the trouble it could stir up.

He was also totally unconcerned as to the fate of the two vampires. Even if he cared what happened to them, he knew that they would have just drifted away from the scene of the crime in a puff of smoke, leaving behind two confused and frustrated police officers. He was also pretty sure that they were tracking him and would materialise as soon as it suited them.

The one thing that was slowing him down was the clothes he was wearing. The heavy black leather jacket, thick denim jeans and dark blue polo shirt were impeding his movements, stopping him from getting into his full stride. He considered stripping off, but did not want to be responsible for some old lady having a heart attack as he streaked past her lounge window!

He raised his head slightly to the sky and sniffed the wind. It was getting perilously near to the rising of the moon and soon her silver orb would be glimpsed scudding through the clouds and bathing everything in her ghostly glow. Roland had never risked turning out in the open in a densely populated area. He wasn't like some of the Old Kingdomers who revelled in shocking humans and creating urban myths about themselves. He believed that the safety of the Clan was better served by discretion; he did not like the current rash of films and TV series about werewolves and vampires. He would have preferred it if humans had never heard of them and didn't believe that they existed.

The turning was close. He could feel it rippling in his veins and muscles. His animal instincts were being heightened with every second that passed. Should he just preempt the inevitable and turn? He would be able to move much faster and would surely be able to find somewhere to hole up for the night? He could even be daring and go and hunt the deer in Richmond Park? He could cover so much more ground in his wolf self.

Twin thuds on the turf off to his left startled him and brought him to a halt. He turned to find the two vampires struggling to get up off the grass, and squabbling with each other as usual.

'Why did you have to fly into me like that! You could have hurt me!' he heard Vlad whine petulantly.

'You know that I have to fly three wing beats behind you at all times, My Leader. You should know better than to turn like that on descent!' retorted the Count.

Roland frowned. Petulant, arguing vampires was not what he needed right now.

'Look here' he started but the rest of his sentence came out as a loud, resonating howl. His thinking about turning when he was so close to it had set off the process and there was no going back now

'What's up with de Cazalrenoux' demanded Vlad, his eyes as wide as saucers. 'His body is writhing under his skin and he seems to be changing shape?'

'Have you never seen a werewolf turn before?' asked Count Antonescu sneeringly.

'No never' replied a horrified Vlad 'Is it going to be horrible? Will we be safe with a wolf?'

As he uttered these words, the silver disk of the moon rose above the horizon and Roland's body seemed to be thrown into a paroxysm of agony. His limbs writhed, flailed and began to change shape. His facial features contorted and ears pricked. And finally, under the shocked gaze of Vlad, Roland split out of his clothes and grew a thick, ruddy pelt. The wolf that was Roland sank down onto four huge paws and looked at the two vampires with cold green eyes. Seemingly not satisfied with what he saw, he threw back his head and gave throat to a deep, bass howl. Only of course there were no other Clan members who could answer him that night.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Flash Point

Roland was just trying to get his car back into the proper gear and move it forward away from the Porsche's crumpled bonnet, when he heard a tapping on the window. He cursed when he saw two shadowy figures peering in; the police had arrived just when he didn't need them to!

He cautiously rolled the window down and jerked back involuntarily when Vlad stuck his face through the window.

'What are you doing here, de Cazalrenoux' said Vlad indignantly 'And what have you done with Mike Costello!'.

Roland pushed the door open with a violent shove, leaped out of the car and grabbed the young vampire around the throat.

'I have just about had enough of this. Vladimirescu!' he ground out. 'Why didn't you tell me you were meeting the psychic tonight and why is it that Kingsteignton is back on the loose'.

Vlad felt his fangs clatter loosely over his bottom teeth as Roland rattled him around for several long minutes as effortlessly as if he had been waving an empty sack in the air.

'I suggest that you let my Leader go now' stated Count Antonescu darkly as he leaned over Roland and prised Vlad from his grip, dropping him back onto the pavement.

Vlad was sure that the Count could have stepped in earlier or stopped Roland from grabbing him in the first place, but he bit his tongue and pulled himself together.

'We have no requirement to discuss official Vampire business with you, De Cazalrenoux' began Vlad, very much on his dignity now. 'We do not know how you know about this meeting or that Lord Kingsteignton is currently unaccounted for; but we do not have to explain ourselves as it is not your concern'.

'Until my missing Clan member is returned to me everything you do, say or breathe is my concern you little bloodsucker! spat out Roland menacingly.

The Count put a very large hand on Roland's chest and pushed him gently backwards.

'Enough! Desist! We have bigger problems than your petty arguments. Name calling is not necessary Clan Leader; you are a bigger man than that!'

Roland drew himself up to his full height.

'Agreed' he said apologetically 'I have had a very trying day and am very frustrated that we seem to be getting nowhere with this matter. Also, I am very close to turning which shortens my temper somewhat. I am here because I got a message on my answer machine to come here, that also warned me to trust no-one. Did either of you leave it?

'No' said Vlad looking a little pale at the idea that this imposing creature might turn before his very eyes 'I had no intentions of anyone but myself coming to meet Mike. But how did you know about Kingsteignton?'

Roland felt about in his pocket and handed over the business card.

Vlad went even paler as he stared down at it. After long moments he looked up into Roland's face.

'Do you think Kingsteignton has got Mike?' he asked piteously 'You do know that Kingsteignton is rumoured to feed the old way?'

Roland softened further at Vlad's obviously genuine distress.

'When I checked out the pub,I definitely caught a whiff of Costello downstairs and then found the card on the table. I would say that they have both been here, but maybe at different times?' suggested Roland gently.

'No, he has Mike. I feel it in my bones. We must move heaven and earth to get him back, he has been a good friend to me!'

At that moment, they were suddenly illuminated in headlights as a police car came screaming around a corner and came to an untidy stop. Two officers got out and walked towards the little group. Roland had the sickening realisation that they had been tipped off about his shunt into the Porsche and also that he would not have time to deal with the police and get safely home before he turned. Also, they would probably breathalise him and take blood.

Knowing that to be caught and tested would open a massive can of worms for him and the Clan, he took a massive leap from standing and jumped onto the top of his car. He was outlined against the dark sky for a dramatic second before he took a second longer leap over the adjacent wall and disappeared from view.

The two police officers could not believe what they were seeing, but were even more mystified when they turned back to the two individuals that had been left standing and realised that they had gone. They had disappeared into thin air, without a sound and with no evidence as to which direction they had gone in.

Meanwhile, many, many miles away, in the underground cavern in Romania, the dark, manic laugh was heard once more, and the ancient sacrificial stone table of the Vampire Nations cracked in two.