Freaklings. Shambling aberrations. Darkness given shape.
Throughout history they were feared by humankind. Great warriors took swords to them to no avail. Barricades as tall as the sky could only delay them. The desperate fired cannons at the monsters with nil effect. Only when faced against supernatural foes did they ever meet a challenge, though two soldiers were as nothing against a swarm… in theory.
All of that changed because of her. What should have been a foregone conclusion was thrown into jeopardy because of her! The Great Vampire King had vanished from the world, but his spirit lingered in the form of a pathetic human, barely more than a child!
Lord Nihilex paced around the throne, and received a wide berth from those beneath him. When he growled, underlings knew better than to respond unless addressed.
“With my own hands I cast him into the deepest pit of the Abyssal Realm,” he railed, “yet still he resists! When will this cursed opposition end?”
Fantom stood beside Wiseman, arms at his sides, with head bowed. Dread churned in his stomach, for once his step-father had moved on from his current indignation he would move onto another, and in doing so lay his shortcomings at Fantom’s feet.
“I suppose you’ll say ‘I told you so’,” the conqueror spat.
“There is no pleasure to be had in our misfortune,” Fantom told him, making certain to bow low. Any further and his lips would kiss his knees.
That, it seemed, was enough. The squattish Lord Nihilex moved on. There was no satisfaction in belittling the humbled, or even one who wore humility as a disguise. Instead he wandered to the next chamber, and growled through razor teeth.
“Queen Lacuna needs my attention,” he said; or rather he had need to attend her. “Fantom! Since you are so wise and knowing I charge you with the elimination of this new Fang Force. Fail me…” The shadowy ruler raised a dagger-like finger. “Fail me and you shall meet your mother as a pile of dust!”
A wry smile curled under Fantom’s half-mask. What Lord Nihilex had intended to inflict upon a subordinate was best suited for his hands. The weight of responsibility was heavy indeed, but eased by freedom to act without the dark ruler’s oversight.
By the time Lindsay gave up on sleep it was morning. Rays of orange poured over the mountain, bringing Crescent Valley into a crisp new day. Nobody would know how close they’d come to destruction, save the few who caught the battle from their windows – and, of course, her new friends.
The fact rested heavily in her chest, but that would not deter her. She was the great-great-(and-a-few-more-greats)-granddaughter of the Great Vampire King, and nothing would change that. The best she could do was accept it and live up to the name.
Dressed in a clean uniform she came up to the castle and let herself inside. It was early; several hours before sightseers, or even Mr. Nowack, were thought to arrive. Looking through the vestebules inspired new feelings. It was no longer a house of stories; the castle was alive in a way she’d only just realized.
Staring up at the portrait in the foyer delivered meaning she’d not gleaned before. To look upon the Great Vampire King, brave and mighty with his blade, Midnight’s Kiss, in his grasp, was to look upon herself. For all her life Lindsay was taken by the castle and its legends. How fitting that it should be her history as well.
She climbed the stairs to the bell tower, and peered through the shattered door. It was light out, meaning Spike, Cassius and Luther were likely at rest.
Except they weren’t.
Instead of a silent room with dusty coffins she found both young men, still dressed in their tattered garb, and the little bat moving around the room, sweeping, dusting and arranging. In short time they’d made a lot of progress; so much that the clock tower appeared habitable, even welcoming.
“Uh, what are you guys doing?” she asked.
Luther shot her a puzzled look. “Surely you can see for yourself.”
Yes, she did. Lindsay frowned. “But it’s morning,” she said. “You’re vampires. Shouldn’t you be in your coffins or something?”
Cassius peered across to his companions, and all three shared a chuckle. “We’re not that sort of vampire,” he said.
“It appears you have much to learn about our kind, Miss Lindsay,” Spike tittered with affection.
The young woman’s frown deepened. She didn’t like not knowing things.
All started at the friendly voice from the bottom of the stairwell. Only Lindsay recognized it as the curator – a boss who’d expressly forbid her or anyone else to enter the clock tower. She froze on her heels and gestured for the others to relax, though they appeared more curious than alarmed.
“I’m up here, Mr. Nowack,” the young woman called with less than her usual confidence.
The older man gripped the rails as he pulled himself up the stairs. He went bug eyed to discover Lindsay in the presence of two strapping young men, both of whom would be at home on the cover of a period romance novel. He considered them a moment, and scanned them for evidence of… well, he wasn’t sure what he was scanning them for. Something no good.
“Lindsay, what are you doing up here? You know that the clock tower is off limits!”
“Last night I heard something collapse and, well, the door had rotted away,” she said, which she supposed was true. “So I called up a couple of friends to keep me company while I checked it out. You know how this place gets when it’s dark.”
“So they aren’t… boyfriends,” he said.
Cassius and Luther leered at the assertion, which was kind of cute in it’s way. Lindsay giggled and shook her head.
“No, they’re not my boyfriends,” she told him. “This is Cass and Luther. They want to volunteer at the castle.”
The blond haired vampire opened his mouth in protest, but was quieted by his companion. Whatever the Master willed for them, that was to be their role.
Mr. Nowack stroked his chin and nodded. “We could certainly use the extra help, and I suppose we could make something of this space. Sealing it off was a silly tradition, anyhow. But Lindsay?”
He pointed to the top of a box, upon which was the likeness of a purple bat, frozen in mid flight with its mouth wide. “Get rid of that thing,” he said. “It’s ugly, and not in a way that’s scary, either.”
Lindsay winced on the little bat’s behalf. “Sure thing, Mr. Nowack.”
The curator returned to the stairs and waved as he left. “Good to meet you, boys! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Lindsay knows all there is to know about this place, so you’re in good hands.”
Together they shuddered and waited until the old man’s steps were out of earshot. No sooner than silence fell on the room than Spike took to the air and fluttered around the room. Lindsay, ‘Cass’ and Luther ducked while she flapped with indignation.
“‘Ugly’,” she huffed. “‘Not scary’! Why, he wouldn’t know scary if it bit him in the-”
“Easy, Spike.” Cassius offered his arm as a perch and scratched the little bat behind the ears. “I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I’m sure he meant everything by it,” she said, though the attention drew her mind away.
Luther folded his arms and hummed. “So we’re ‘volunteers’ working in our own castle,” he said.
Lindsay shrugged. “If you guys are cool with that. It’s the best I could think of at short notice.”
“You’re our Master,” Luther said.
“Where you lead, we will follow,” Cassius continued.
The young woman forced a smile. She wasn’t accustomed to that kind of loyalty. Was their confidence misplaced? Only time would tell.
End of Episode 1