# Chapter 16: The Gathering of Memories

The man who until just recently had been only Jouo Ben Trevant looked
up as he heard the two figures approach. He knew now what the vampire
known as Renaku was; the secrets that had been hidden from the entire
mortal world were now within his mind, to do with as he pleased. He
also knew the terrible price that would be paid if those secrets were
allowed to become known. So he remained silent as Renaku approached,
even if a simple word could have tipped the balance he would not have
spoken it.

He could also see what had happened between the vampire and the demon
girl. But that would be important later, there were other things that
were important now.  Now it was important that they move forward and
that all those who had to be there would be there, at the end. That
was what the dragons were here for, that was what they had been meant
to do. Now he, and his companion, would make sure that all this came
about. It was the only way to fix the terrible mistake that had been

"Come, vampire," he said, his voice deep and resonant.  "We have much
to do, before the end."

------------------------

Vampire Legend R
Chapter 16
The Gathering of Memories
By: Aaron Peori
Created by: Ben Overmyer

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Warning: Contains at least one reference to a mediocre fantasy novel.

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I'm too old for this, Leandra thought to herself as the host of
darkness halted at the edge of the dark woods. They would not go
through there, if they knew what was good for them. That just meant
they would come upon her position all the sooner. The last of the
refugees that had not already been consumed by the Fumu were beyond
where she stood now, with barely fifty men to protect her. Among them
were her most trusted guards and those too loyal or foolish to allow
her to order them away. And the only two other magus that were among
the army as well, Maldor of the Fire school and Jysi of the Frost
school.

The plan was simple; use the magic to slow the progress of the Fumu as
much as possible. Run away when the regathered after an assault and
strike from a distance. The men at arms were there solely to protect
the magi in case the Fumu proved to fast to outpace. At which point it
would probably be too late anyway. Leandra had only once been in the
middle of a host of Fumu. It was an experience she did not want to
soon repeat. Especially since this time they would not hold back like
they had that time. This time they didn't have to worry about killing
the vampire knight they claimed to be their master.

She clenched her hand and felt the magic flow up within her. It was
wild and bitter tonight, like mulled wine that had been left out in
the sun too long. It was also weaker than she would have liked, but
that was because they couldn't risk alerting the Fumu to their
presence by summoning a storm. Besides, if she did that then it would
only weaken the magic of her two companions. She looked at them and
noted the vaguely ecstatic expression on both their faces. They were

And as the host turned to move around the tree line, they struck.

***

Zeorx slowly morphed back into his demonic form with the ease one
would put on a new suit. He smiled to himself as the two Otherworld
demons that had been patrolling the hallway moved further beyond him.
They hadn't even seen him, probably wouldn't have even cared if they
did. What was just another tapestry on the wall to them after all? He
suppressed a chuckle at their ignorance. None of his people knew the
full limits of their ability to take other shapes. Only he knew that
any form was within reach, if one should only be willing to try.

So it was that Zeorx had snuck his way into the sanctuary of his
enemies. His enemies now being his own former home. It helped a great
deal that he had built this place from the ground up, him and the mad
Makath. He was almost at his destination and if he guessed correctly
it would be no trouble getting inside. He only wished that this had
not been necessary, that his people had listened to the truth and
accepted it. Now only a few would escape with him to the otherworld.
Only a few would escape the coming end.

The door to the library had a token guard. A young demon, only a few
thousand years old, one Zeorx had overseen the creation of personally.
It was a simple matter to assume the guise of Contoyune and walk
straight up to him. The young demon stiffened as his knew master
approached, looking anger at the world in general and this insect in
front of him in particular.

"Let me in," Zeorx said in a perfect simulation of the upstart's
voice. The young demon couldn't tell the difference, and the tone had
left no room for argument so it was only seconds later that he found
himself in the library. Here was where all the history of his people
was stored. There were some secrets in these dusty stacks of
haphazardly arranged books that even Zeorx didn't know. Only one of
those was important now however.

He slid back into his 'natural' shape, taking comfort again in the
physical familiarity of it. Of course, soon enough his people would no
longer have need of bodies. Still, it was a pleasure he would indulge
in for now. Then he began the slow and tedious task of looking through
the tomes for the lost lore. The one book that would contain the final
secret he needed. The old spellbook of a disgruntled human sorcerer
named Makath.

***

It was quiet in the dark chamber. The stench of the grave welled up
from some place unknown. The being in the chamber enjoyed both smell
and darkness quite a bit. For it was Gieb, master of the Black Water
Clan of the Fumu. Its thoughts were untranslatable into terms human
could understand, but if one had to find the closest colliery it would
perhaps be thought of as 'absorbed'. Thus it was that the arrival of
its companion Fumu lord didn't faze it in the slightest. It didn't
even notice until the aerial being growled menacingly.

Gieb turned its host body to see the bloody and tortured host of its
fellow Fumu staring back at it. The darkness was no barrier to a
Fumu's sight.

"Why are you still alive Scita?"

"A change in plans," it said simply. "The vampire was getting
suspicious, especially with Qouth's bungling.  I decided that running
was the best plan at that point."

To say that Gieb got angry at this would be to mislabel the emotion.
"You were there for a very good reason, without one of us the
dragon..."

"Is dead," Scita finished for him. "The four dragon clans destroyed
their fallen brethren."

"That was not the plan," Gieb hissed.

"No," Scita didn't smile, "But it worked nonetheless."

"This is a variable we can not control," Gieb turned back to the thing
that had held its interest before Scita had arrived. "Who knows how
the Dragons shall react to this..."

"They are forbidden," Scita said in his own defense, "By Gai
himself..."

"I know that fool," Gieb turned back to Scita. "It simply complicates
things. The master will have to be informed."

The Fumu know no fear, still they knew to be cautious.

"Unnecessary," Scita hissed, "I will fulfill my obligations. I have
come only to gain access to the Font so that I may replenish myself
before the battle."

"And the fact that the master's lair is closer to Qouth was then
mine?"

"This one is closer to the Stone," Scita hissed again, "That will be

"Yes."

So Scita left and Gieb turned back to that which held its attention so
easily. The object was a sword, of elven design, forged by a master
bladesmith a long, log time ago. Gieb held it up and allowed his host
to smile as he feed it pleasure. It was a final piece in a puzzle that
had eluded many other demons for centuries. Soon enough it would be
called upon to fulfill its purpose.

***

Renaku was not unfamiliar with the concept of flight. He himself had
flown many times, both using the supernatural ability of his humanoid
form and the natural aerodynamics of his bat form.  He had never had
quite the experience needed to prepare him for a flight on dragon
back. The only experience that was more unnerving was the wild ride on
a sled of stone he had engaged in a few days ago. It wasn't just the
height of the flight that unnerved him; it was the unnatural lack of
wind. He knew a great deal about the movement of bodies through air,
and at this speed there should have been enough wind to buffet even
Thiesra off the backs of the dragons.

But there wasn't. The dragons moved their wings barely a fraction of
what would have been necessary to keep them afloat. He wondered
briefly how they did that. Then, as soon as the thought entered his
mind the answer came as well. The dragons didn't fly in the
traditional sense, instead the bent the air around them like a rubber
band.  The force of the air trying to close back together was focused
behind them and this propelled them forward at fantastic speeds. It
also let them carry on conversations at normal volumes.

Not that the dragons talked, but the four beings riding on the back of
the huge fire dragon Halscore were busy in conversation. Well, Thiesra
wasn't saying much; she spent a great deal of her time trying not to
look like she was staring at Renaku. For his part, Renaku was having a
hard time focusing on the conversation himself with her so close to
him. It was almost electric; a feeling Renaku had never thought his
cursed existence capable of. He had spent a great deal of time as a
crusading knight dealing with fear, with pain and with hatred. He had
never once had to deal with love. Not that he was really sure he
wanted to say it was that. He had half convinced himself that the...
event at the Fumu lair had been a fluke incident. Then he would think
back to the pressure of her lips on his and he would no longer be able
to dismiss it.

With a start Renaku dragged his mind back to the present again. This
habit of drifting back to the past was going to get him killed some
day. He realized that he had missed something, something that Trevant
was saying now.

"Could you repeat that?" Renaku said slowly. He ignored the knowing
look that Aiger was giving him.

"I said," Trevant spoke in the resonant, almost but not quite inhuman
voice again, "That the process is an old ritual I had heard of, but
one I had never given much thought to."

"Old ritual?"

"Have you ever heard of the 'Blooding of the Dragon'" Aiger asked
Renaku.

"Yes," Renaku nodded his head slowly, "It is an old custom among young
boys at the court of my former lord..." Renaku paused as the thought
that it was not as hard to speak of his past life now for some reason
occurred to him. He stuffed the thought aside for further examination
later. He was doing that a lot lately. Maybe that was why he was
hearing voices. "The two young men cuts their palms and press them
together. They allow the blood to mingle and clot together then they
pull the hands apart. It is said to bind the two together for as long
as both of them live, making them closer than brothers."

"I think I get it," Thiesra commented quickly. "The boys game is based
on an actual truth isn't it?"

"Correct," Trevant spoke slowly and methodically. "The ritual it
refers to is a ritual among the dragon's themselves. In the blood of
dragons lies their magic and by allowing the blood of another dragon
to mix with yours we... they are bonded forever. It is the equivalent
of marriage among them."

"Bonded forever?" Renaku said but he somehow knew the answer before it
was spoken.

"In life and death," Aiger said slowly, "Whatever the one dragons
feels the other feels as well, no matter how much distance separates
them. I know this because in order for a dragon to breed with a human
they must share their blood with that human first. Only certain humans
can survive the process sane however, and only with the youngest
dragons, the dragon's feelings overwhelm the humans."

"What is the effect on the dragon?" Thiesra said with genuine
curiosity.

"Almost as bad," Trevant said simply, "The humans life force is much
weaker than the dragons, thus they end up sending out most of their
power to the human. This can cause severe psychic trauma."

"I think it might have been the reason for the madness of my mother
and father," Aiger said softly.

The frost dragon turned his head and spoke a low rumble of draconic
words to Aiger, who nodded to himself and spoke back in the same
tongue briefly.

"So is this what happened to you," Thiesra said to Trevant.

"Yes and no," Trevant said, "Managese would not have shared my blood
with me if I had not been dying... but the wounds the fallen one
inflicted on... him were too many and too deep. One had to represent
the Steel Dragons."

"Why not Aiger?" Renaku asked quickly. "He shares your blood, why not
take the less risky path with him?"

"Because his father is a frost dragon Renaku," Thiesra said with a
roll of her eyes.

"Oh," Renaku blinked. "That makes sense. First time for everything I
suppose."

"That," Trevant added, "Plus the fact that I had this." With that he
raised the glowing hammer which he had wielded with such lethal power
a few days before.  Renaku realized that the same soft glow, like
steel under a blazing moon, emitted from the hammer as came from the

"Dragon's tooth," he said suddenly.

Everyone stared at him like he had just declared his intention to
pursue a life in bookkeeping. "Yes," Trevant said finally, obviously
surprised. "The tooth of a Steel Dragon to be precise. A master of my
forms who joins the Order is granted one of these. I was lucky I had
it, it absorbed the extra magic from Managese death and thus I was not
driven insane by the blood bond."

Renaku laughed suddenly and loudly. They again stared at him as if he
had developed a second head. He could not help himself however; the
sheer irony of the situation was too absurd. "We are the same," Renaku
choked out finally between fits of laughter. "But for the presence of
a weapon, we would both be beyond hope!" He laughed again and slapped
the newly acquired sheath of his Demonslayer sword.

"I am not like you Vampire," Trevant hissed softly. Renaku stopped
laughing and looked into his eyes. For the first time in hours he saw
the old emotions in those eyes stirring, the disgust and rage. Renaku
wasn't sure he should feel comforted that the man who had sword to
kill him was still within an obviously much more powerful body, but he
did. Life was strange like that. Renaku was beginning to accept this.

"So," he spoke in a somber tones now, "Where are we going this time?"

"We pursue the Fumu. They have fled the Rylor Mountains and are
pushing into Asurion," Trevant said aloud after a second. It was
obvious to Renaku he was holding something back. Let him have his
secrets, Renaku thought, I have had my fill of them.

"Good enough," Renaku adjusted his blade once and took a long silent
look at Thiesra. "I will finish them off once and for all." He left
the rest unsaid, but he thought that Thiesra got the message.

***

It had been quicker than he thought it would be. The book had been
hidden in a simple trick of carpentry within on of the moldy desks. No
magic, no enchantment had concealed it. But then, in a people of magic
users that would have been as useful as putting a large glowing stone
over it shaped like Makath's head. Zeorx assumed that most of the rest
of his people would not have 'stooped' to such base means of searching
for the book. Maybe Makath was smarter than Zeorx gave him credit for.
Or maybe Zeorx was even cleverer than he thought he was.

Ego aside Zeorx found the book very useful. It was perhaps the oldest
extant book on human magical theory and practice in the world. It
detailed the rise of the five present schools from the early dragon
worshipping cults of the same name. It was stuffed with data on
experiments in resurrection, divination and infenalism. All of this
was of no interest to Zeorx. The data he was looking for was contained
quite near the back of the book. The data on dimensional travel.

The data on the Stone of Forever.

Zeorx began memorizing it with ease, processing the information
through his superior magically enhanced brain in seconds were it would
take humans years to even comprehend much less utilize the information
on the stone. In fact, he was so engrossed in the book that he almost
didn't notice the sword that was meant to cleave him in two. Almost,
but not quite.

He leapt back with inhuman grace and fluidity, landing on his feet
facing his assassin. The book hadn't been so lucky; it now lay in the
refuse split asunder. Zeorx knew that even there, in plain sight, most
of his people wouldn't notice it. That wasn't his concern at the
moment. The large armored figure in front of him, holding the huge
sword was.

"Giovanni," Zeorx nodded his head once and relaxed his stance
slightly.

"Zeorx," the demon knight nodded back to him. "You may not interfere
now."

"Your master says so?" Zeorx smiled at Giovanni and Giovanni winced,
slightly.

"The Stone is sealed," the knight said, "You can not get to it."

"I can do many things," Zeorx smiled slightly and inconspicuously
clasped his hands in front of his chest.

"Maybe you could," Giovanni held up his sword again. He had seen the
move. He knew what it meant all right. Zeorx cursed inwardly, he had
no time to waste fighting.

"I only wish to take my people away from here," Zeorx said, " I don't
care if this worlds rots to nothing or is purified by the light. I
want off, we both know that my people don't belong here. Let us
leave... those of us that can."

"I wish I could do that Zeorx," Giovanni sighed and pointed the blade
at his opponents chest. "But the mistake is about to be corrected.
Your interference now will be another factor of chaos."

"Then there is no way to solve this between us?"

"One," Giovanni raised the blade that began to glow with unearthly
light. Zeorx raised his own, forming a triangle with thumbs and
fingers in which red light began to gather. That was when the second
assassin struck him from behind. The dagger was of no particular
magical design, just very sharp and thrust with great strength.
Normally Zeorx would have shrugged it off, healed the damage and dealt
with the nuisance. But Giovanni reacted to Zeorx hesitation, the huge
blade puncturing the Otherworld demon's hide with ease.

Zeorx felt the magic of the blade flare out through him, driving his
own magic into the air around him. It was rather like being torn apart
from the inside out, mainly because that is exactly what was
happening. To his credit he didn't scream. Instead all he did was turn
his head to see who had undone him. His eyes widened slightly as he
saw who it was, then they closed and he chuckled dryly. The pain was
almost unbearable and Zeorx was losing control of his form already. He
slumped to his knees as wisps of red smoke drifted from his body.

"Undone by my own arrogance," Zeorx said with a harsh rasp, "How
poetic."

As he fell forward and the blade drove the last of his life essence
from his body Zeorx last thoughts focused on his people. On one of his
people in particular. He concentrated, gathering the last of his
energy... not to attack, to foolishly lash out. No, instead he called
on an old technique and sent a message. A message only one person in
the entire world would hear.

"Thiesra," it said, "You are the only one who can save our people
now."

And then Zeorx died.

***

"Why are you crying Thiesra?"

"I don't know..."

***

"So it is decided?"

"I sense disappointment in your voice," the elder said with careful
pacing.

"Only that I will get no chance to fight the Fumu," the young dark elf
said perhaps a bit too quickly.

"The deal we made was with the representative of Lord Gai himself,"
the elder informed the younger elf. "We must not help the humans."

"As you command sire," the young elf said and walked off. He wondered
briefly if the unease he felt was guilt or apprehension. More than
likely the latter he almost convinced himself. He suspected he knew
why the Fumu were pushing out of the Rylor Mountains now. As soon as
he was out of sight of his people it would be a good idea to make sure
that he was not true.

The decision had nothing to do with any pity for the humans involved,

***

Maldor fell with the hilt of a dagger protruding from his chest like
some gaudy jewelry. Leandra immediately moved her weaves to cover the
arc he left undefended with his death. She refused to feel grief at
this time; it would only dilute the power of her magic. She glanced at
Jysi out of the corner of her eyes and saw that the other magus was
getting close to collapsing as well, but not from wounds. The other
mage was forcing too much control onto the magic. Magic was a force of
primal emotion and instinct, forcing control and order upon it was a
strain that threatened to burn out even the most powerful magus.

Leandra pushed those thoughts from her mind and concentrated on the
magic itself. It was especially hard to control today for some reason.
A shock like liquid electricity roared up from her gut each time she
bent the flows of magic into her weaving. Still she wasn't about to
let that discomfort stop her now, especially as she had almost
finished pushing a hole into the lines of the Fumu.

She had never expected the creatures to be smart enough to lay an
ambush like they had. She didn't know how they had know that Leandra
would chose to move through the gully to conserve the strength of
their horses, but they had. Now the demonic beings, humans and animals
petrified, liquefied and gaseous in form, had her small party
surrounded. Already all but a few of the guards were dead. Those that
remained were the best fighters and her most loyal troops.

Leandra took a second to curse the Darkchylde elves. If they had just
agreed to allow the refugees safe passage she would have never gone on
this fools quest. But now was not the time to lay blame. She unleashed
a final blast of lightning, obliterating a small knot of Fumu and then
she moved to plan B. With a cry she leapt from her saddle and drew the

"Forward," she called, "Cut through!"

Jysi gave his life to protect her then; a final blast of Frost magic
left created a cone of empty space in front of the party but it had
been too finely controlled, too tight. The Frost mage fell over, his
brain unable to handle the backlash of the annoyed magical energy and
the Fumu pounced upon him. Leandra wasn't about to let his sacrifice
be in vein.

The world became a rush of sound and color as she rushed forward with
the last of her honor guard about her. The twin blades darted like
viper tongue and dealt swift death to any Fumu foolish enough to
approach too close. She couldn't keep up the manic speed forever but
it would be enough to escape the pack. And it was.

She almost collapsed when she realized that there were no more enemies
in front of her. The magic that flowed through her body was like a
wild horse that was trying to kick down the walls of her body. It took
all her concentration just to remain upright as it raged inside her.
In fact, she only noticed that one of her guardians had pulled her to
safety on his saddle after a few minutes.

Once her head was clear she looked back to see the Fumu closing
rapidly on them, a seething horde of flesh corrupted by the dark power
of their Fumu hosts. The horses were too tired to escape them and
Leandra didn't have enough strength to fire a spark from her fingers,
much less destroy them all.

She didn't have to.

The blast knocked her from the saddle and sent her sailing into the
grass almost ten lengths away. Her ears were still ringing a few
minutes later when she raised her head to see what had happened. What
she saw was a large crater that had been blown into the earth where
the Fumu had been. There were no traces of the monsters themselves,
aside from the itch she felt that indicated that the main body of the
Fumu was still pushing forward.

She took a moment to wonder what was happening, who could have done
Dragon. It was every bit as magnificent as she had imagined it would
be. The majestic beast landed with barely a flap of its titanic wings,
which was good because Leandra didn't want to know what the wind
created by those would be like. So absorbed was she in taking in every
detail of the creature before her that she didn't here several people
leaping to the ground just behind her.

"So we meet again," a very familiar voice said. Leandra started and
leapt to her feet, blades at the ready. There, standing with an
expression of bemused surprise on his face was the one being she had
hoped to never see again. Still, something in her caught at the sight
of him. "It appears fate plays tricks with me still. Next I am sure
that the gods will decide that my old dog shall meet with me again as
well. Every other important being from my past seems to be coming back
to haunt me."

"Renaku," Leandra said with more calm then she felt. As a storm magus
it was an acquired skill to be able to conceal the emotions boiling
inside of you. No being caused more mixed emotions than the one who
stood before her now. "Why am I not surprised..." she mused to
herself.

"Who's this Ren-chan," a young woman with simple beauty in her frame
and strangely old eyes said from beside him.

"Lady Leandra," another voice said softly but in a voice so deep it
was almost a rumble of the earth. Leandra turned to see the man who
had said it, she recognized him... except for the glowing eyes he
looked much the same as she had last seen him. When she had last seen
the vampire hunter she had sent him and her most trusted lieutenant
out to scout out the situation at the Rylor Mountains. She turned to
the final man, but he was not the one that Leandra had hoped he would
be. Instead he was a man, with strange tint to his skin and a knowing
smile on his lips.

"Trevant," she regathered her dignity and looked the man right in the
eyes. It was hard; the steely glow was inhuman in more ways then one.
"What happened to..."

human grief was less personal now, more abstract.

"How?"

"The monsters that captured them had no use for him," the young woman
spoke up now. "He took his own life rather than letting them usurp his

"I see," Leandra had not been able to keep the catch out of her voice.
"What are you doing here Renaku?" she demanded imperiously as soon as

"That," Renaku had an expression on his face that looked foreign to
her as he spoke, "Is a very, very long story."

"Maybe we can talk while we ride," the other man said and stepped
forward. He bowed to Leandra in the way one royal bows to another. "I
am King Aiger Nova, we saw your magic from above and decided to help.
Perhaps we can offer you a ride away from this place?" He smiled and
gestured to the three dragons, which had taken up a vigil not too far
away. Leandra's breath almost caught at the sight of them.

"Yes," she said finally, "I think it is best we talk as far away from
the Fumu as we can."

***

"I thought that the prophecy for you was already finished?"

"No," Renaku sighed as the dragon set down on the edge of the army.
"Apparently what happened on that day I fought the Fumu with you was
only part of the prophecy." The two leaped down from the back of the
Storm Dragon that Leandra had not quite insisted on riding on. Renaku
noted the reaction of the human soldiers as they pulled away from the
huge creatures. It was to be expected he supposed. "You should calm
down your people," he said to her.

"They aren't really my people," she said, "But I'm the defacto leader
so I will do it."

Leandra wandered off to try and convince the people there that no,
these dragons were not here to eat them. Thiesra walked over and stood
next to Renaku as he stared up at the rapidly brightening sky.

"How are we going to hide your curse from them?" Thiesra asked
shortly.

"We won't," Renaku shrugged. "They have a right to know what walks
among them."

"They won't like it."

"People seldom do," Renaku replied easily.

***

Apparently the people decided that a vampire and a gaggle of dragons
living among them was preferable to breaking camp and risking being
tired the next night should the Fumu attack. They didn't do anything
worse then stare at the tent Leandra provided for her former companion
and mutter dark words about how this could only mean trouble. Renaku
would not have disagreed with them.

He shared the tent with Thiesra, who he had invited in that morning.
She had not been reluctant to join him, but still she held something
back as he talked to her while he drifted to sleep.

"You've changed Ren-chan," she said once.

"So have you," he told her back and she had no response to that.

When he woke up she was pressed against him and smiling beatifically.
He almost didn't want to disturb her. Not just because it was rare to
see Thiesra affected to sleep, but because he found the sensation a
bit too pleasurable. Suddenly a wave of guilt forced him to his feet
and he began to pull on his armor with violent intensity. What had he
been thinking? He was a monster. He did not deserve love like this!

Or did he? Looking back had he really done all that much to deserve
and hissed between clenched teeth. Everything was so confusing now, he
found himself nostalgic for the days when his enemies were torturing
him. At least that was easy to understand.

Besides, he thought as he forced the ideas from his mind, it wasn't
important right now. What did how he saw himself have an impact on
anyway? Only destroying the Fumu really mattered. Once he had done
that, then he could sort out his tortured emotions.

"Evening Ren-chan," Thiesra said as she stepped up behind him. He
grunted a greeting and walked out. He never saw the slightly hurt
expression on her face and if he did he would have apologized then and
there. He was too busy concentrating on nothing but the upcoming
conflict to care to look back however.

The night was crisp, with a cold wind coming in from the north. He
took a look around the camp and noted that Leandra was deep in
conversation with Aiger and Trevant. Renaku walked forward and stepped
into the light of the fire the three were using to hold council. The
three dragons had moved off a short distance, long enough not to spook
the horses... but Renaku doubted it was long enough not to overhear.

"Vampire," Trevant said in that oddly discomforting new voice of his.

"And what should I call you now Trevant?" Renaku asked as he sat with
them.

"Trevant will do," the man shrugged. "I am no more than human."

"No human I know has glowing eyes," Leandra muttered under her breath.
Renaku choked it up to the fact that she didn't understand that
everyone hear had good enough hearing to pick it up.

"So what have you been talking about?" Renaku asked. There was no need
to waste time with idle chitchat. The Fumu were coming here and Renaku
had to hunt their masters down before it was too late. The humans here
were no doubt brave and skilled, but no normal human was a match for
the host.

"Nothing much," Aiger smiled, "It appears your friend the Storm Mage
has more than a passing interest in our friend the Storm Dragon."

"Natural curiosity," Leandra said defensively. She looked up as
Thiesra walked into the light and sat down across from her. Renaku
overlooked the fact that she had placed herself a bit further apart
than she usually did. "So Renaku..." Leandra opened slowly, "I hate to

"I will deal with the Fumu," Renaku said slowly. "In my own way. By
tracking down and destroying their lords."

"I see... the Prophecy..." she nodded.

"No," Renaku shook his head. "The Prophecy has nothing to do with this
decision. I have sworn not to let the Prophecy determine my choices
for me. I will act as I would have acted had I never heard of it."

"And what if that leads to the Darkness?" Trevant echoed solemnly.

"I will not bastardize my morality on the off chance that it might
lead to a calamity," Renaku hissed.

"Beware vampire," Trevant said with more than a little bemusement in
his voice, "It may not be an action, or a choice that leads to the
dark end. It may be something as simple as a feeling."

"Either tell me the straight truth or forgo the cryptic warnings
Trevant," Renaku sighed.

"You know the truth Renaku," Trevant thrummed softly, "You simply
refuse to see."

"I..."

Renaku leapt to his feet in time to avoid the attack but some others
were not as fortunate. Thankfully the cyclone which erupted in their
midst was neither strong enough nor lasted long enough to do any real
harm except sending the others flying. Renaku spun to face the being
he knew would be there. The Fumu Lord of Wind...

"We have not settled this vampire," the creature hissed at him and
drew it's twin swords. "You will join us or die. There is no other
options."

"You are a fool to fight me here," Renaku said calmly as he eased the
Demonslayer from its sheath. "In the open, with all my friends to help
me."

"No consequence," the creature roared in mindless rage. "I will..."

Then the others struck. Renaku had held its attention long enough for
them to regain their bearings. The first thing that happened was a
bolt of lightning striking it from above. The next thing was a glowing
hammer to knock it aside and the next was the twin strikes of Thiesra
and Aiger as they flung it back onto the rocks with their fists.
Renaku paused to wonder why the dragons had not interfered as well but
gave no more thought to it.

Even though Renaku acted as fast as he could he was still not fast
enough to catch the creature stunned. Soon it would prove to be too
fast for most of them. Caught off guard by the attacks of his
companions the first time the creature dodged about, as hard to strike
as a leaf in a hurricane. It cackled in glee as the five tried to
strike it down again and again with no success. Finally the beast

The wind that burst out from the monster was stronger than any wind
Renaku had ever seen. Renaku had once experienced a Typhoon off the
cost of Miranda so that was saying quite a bit. The others found
themselves unable to get purchase and so they were tossed away. Renaku
stood his ground. Renaku remembered and thought of Earth and stood his
ground.

So it was that the laughing thing didn't see him, too engrossed in
buffeting the others with its might, as he calmly stabbed it in the
chest. Renaku didn't wait this time; he concentrated and shoved the
sword deeper, willing it to work its lethal magic all the faster. It
worked; the thing was dying on the Demonslayer blade in no time.

"Very good Renaku," the thing hissed as its body began to loose all
semblance of cohesion. "We have underestimated you again." Renaku only
starred and allowed the blade to work its magic. "But you can not stop
us..." it coughed and most of it's body evaporated into mist, "We have
the final key, and we shall unlock the Stone of Forever. Then with its
magic we can turn you whether you wish to be turned or..." It never
had a chance to finish what it had been saying. Renaku starred as the
last of the mist floated harmlessly into the night sky.

"Stone of Forever?" Leandra said as she approached. With the death of
the Fumu his magic had died as well.

"I feared as much," Trevant sighed deeply. "This does not bode well."

"The Stone of Forever," Thiesra shook her head, "I've heard legends
but..."

"The Stone of Forever is a magical artifact of unimaginable power,"
Aiger looked at the dragon and they nodded to him in unison. "It was
sealed up thousands of years ago. If the Fumu have the final key they
just might be able to unlock it and that would not be good for
anyone."

"More than likely that is why they are attacking in such numbers,"
Trevant felt fit to point out. "The human civilizations are between
here and the resting place of the Stone. If they wish to secure it for
only their use they must eliminate all the humans in the area."

"Bastards," Leandra snarled. "If you know where this Stone is, perhaps
we should fetch it ourselves to keep them from getting their hands on
it?"

"What's this we business?" Renaku turned to her.

"I've been charged with protecting the human of the inner kingdoms
from the Fumu host," she informed him. "If we can move or otherwise
nullify this Stone then they will have no reason to come here."

"Makes sense," Aiger nodded.

"Trevant," Thiesra prompted.

Contrary to his word, Trevant then did something no normal human could
do. He passed his hand over the earth and it changed... not all of it,
just a little. It formed into a series of small mounds and large vales
between them. Renaku starred at it a few seconds before he realized
what it was. It was a relief map, done in perfect scale, of the whole
continent.

"Impressive," Renaku muttered. He did not want to know how Trevant did
that, even if he had a sneaking suspicion he would learn the answer if

"It is here," Trevant pointed at a spot on the map, which glowed white
for their convenience. Renaku sighed and lowered his head as he
recognized the location. "It is only a few days walk from here..."

"I know the place," Renaku informed him.

"You mean..." Thiesra spoke up. "That place where the Blood Moon
Society held you?"

"Yes," he nodded. "My past comes back to haunt me again it seems."

"Well," Leandra said as her eyes lit up. "It's only a few hours by
dragonback..."

"We shall not accompany you," a voice so powerful it caused them all
to turn in awe spoke. It was Palscore; the majestic dragon stared at
all of them in turn. "Our part in this is to hunt down the Fallen One.
Aiger and Trevant shall represent our interests in this."

"I see," Renaku wasn't that sure he would regret seeing them leave.

"Come then," Trevant stood up and waved the relief map back into
normal ground. "The cave is a long way from here and the Fumu travel
fast. If we wish to arrive before they do then we had best start now."

And aside from a brief sidetrip so Leandra could hand over leadership
to her lieutenants in her absence, they made no other delays. Five
people joined only by a thread that came from a vampire's past walked
away into the dark night, and dragons took wing when they were
consumed by it.

------------------

Author Afterward:

Ah, finished. A little rushed at the end but finished. Of course, as
usual I had a lot more ideas to use then I had time or space to use
them. This part is short because of certain events at Improfanfic and
the fact that I have an exam tomorrow.

Oh well, such is life. I apologize if this is a little short again.

For inspiration on many of the ideas in this part, look through a
bunch of mediocre fantasy novels. The only thing I really didn't like
bastard. But we have enough characters as is and I knew that nothing
short of that would remove him. Besides, it fits the plot nicely in my
opinion.

The next part will be written by Coyote... (man you know you've seen
too much anime when you pronounce that Ko-yo-tai and think nothing is
wrong with it).

I encourage responses in ANY format, and in any forum I can actually
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