Chapter 46: The Vampire

The night was black and the moon of Luclin did not rise. The guards of Felwithe could not say why they held their blades a little tighter and kept their eyes a little shaper. Something was out there, they could almost smell it. As sharp as they were that night, however, neither questioned the high elf noble who approached.

He was tall and dressed in fine black robes trimmed with gold runes. From the wizards guild, no doubt, the guards thought. He wore no hood over his bald head and stood tall when he approached the guards. His eyes gripped them at once. Yes, a noble advisor of the council no doubt, the guards both thought.

Councilman Alines figured it was three in the morning when he heard the knock on his door. He opened it and stared at the tall black-cloaked figure that stood at his home.

"I must speak with you, councilman," said the pale high elf in a soothing yet commanding voice. "Please let me in."

Alines stood for a moment, lost in the stranger's eyes and then spoke.

"Yes, yes. Please come in." The figure took two steps in and closed the door behind him. "What do you have to tell me.."

A thin and wickedly sharp dagger flashed past the councilman's eyes. He had just a moment to notice the fine engraving and deep set gems of the bat-hilted dagger before a shower of blood sprayed from his neck. Before he could bring a hand to his throat the mouth of the vampire was on him. Impossibly strong arms pinned his own to his sides. He felt needle-sharp teeth sink in and blackness overtook him.

Little was on the agenda for the morning's council meetings. Another petition from the Church of Tunare had been filed against Tovarich's venom, the city's only tavern. This petition had been filed every month for thirty years. While the priests on the council would vote in favor of the complaint and recommend a new ordinance against the tavern, the paladins and merchants would vote it down. Business as usual within Elven bureaucracy.

Then councilman Alines dropped his news like a ball of flaming pitch. His speech was short, lacked all proper council etiquette and was totally convincing. Vampires, werewolves, shadows, and the risen dead were building up like a plague under the Faydark. They grew stronger every night and would soon threaten Felwithe itself. The other councilmen noticed how pale Alines looked when he had entered and now they knew why. Vampires in Faydark! Alines held a dozen parchments, descriptions of the undead hoards under the unholy grounds. Something had to be done! But what?

"War" Alines spoke. He locked his eyes on each member of the council and the king himself. "We must send in our armies at once and root out this evil before it poisons the land and destroys our city." Murmurs filled the hall and after a heavy gavel knocked six times, a vote was called. It was unanimous. An army of paladins, clerics, and wizards would enter the catacombs of Mistmoore. But to the gaseous form of the vampire it was not an army at all. It was food.

Loral screamed and shot up from his bed. The vision of a vampire standing on the towers of Felwithe, eyes scanning a conquered city and elven blood dripping from the vampire's mouth, filled his mind. On a chair opposite him, the circular shield blazed happily. Xuzl was laughing.