DARKNESS

by Christian Lesemann


Count Eriq Gwevare looked over at his uncle, Dre. Dre held himself regally, powerfully as he lifted the snifter of brandy to his lips and took a small draught. Eriq watched the wind sweep over his uncle's features: feathering his cape and pressing his exquisite, noble clothes against his taut, lean body. Dre's hair ruffled and Eriq watched him reflexively groom it. Since Eriq had last seen him, Dre had let his hair grow enough that he could put it back into a pony tail. That pony tail now rested peacefully, protected from the wind by the barrier of Dre's body.

Though Dre had not changed, could not change, since he had taken his unlife, his powerful shoulders drooped like some unrelenting weight hung on them. Eriq stepped out of the shadows, letting the eerie moonlight hit his body. This action drew Dre out of his reverie and he turned to meet his nephew.

"Ah, Eriq!" Dre said holding his hand up to beckon Eriq to his side. Eriq strode forth, his own powerful presence radiating confidence and proper demeanor. Having grown up a noble, he found it befitting that he should only present like a lord.

"Uncle, I am sorry if I have disturbed you..." Eriq said. Dre held his hand up, cutting his sentence short.

"Nonsense, it is not everyday that my one and only nephew may join me as I look over my majestic landscape."

Eriq drew by his side. It was dark in the valley and he could see very little. His Uncle beamed with admiration as he remarked, "Look at it young man, does it not fill you with pride!"

Eriq looked out across the expanse. The moon had been obscured by overcast and he could see nothing, other than silhouettes against the horizon, the twinkle of lights from the village, and the battlements on which they stood. He knodded his agreement out of respect.

"It definitely is large," Eriq said, too young and naive to appreciate his Uncle's expropriated boundaries. Dre had won them in combat. He had not inherited them like his young Nephew one day would. In fact, Dre had already bequeathed his entire dynasty to his nephew in the event that he was ever "removed" from power. No one else knew of this, save Dre's secretary. No else would find out until the appropriate time came. It would disturb power within the realm, because it was believed Dre had no known charitable heir.

A gentle, summer breeze swept over them. It felt good to momentarily escape the heat of the night, yet Eriq reflexively shivered. Dre turned to him and grinned. Dre grabbed the hem of his cape with either of his hands, rolling the hem between thumb and forefinger.

"I see you have not completely acclimatized," Dre said turning. Eriq turned with his uncle.

"That's not it," Eriq said as Dre cocked an eyebrow, "I hunger, and when I am hungry I get chills."

"You hunger, eh?" Dre said. At a shadow past nine in the evening Dre was starting to get hungry also, however he usually didn't dine until much later. "Very well, we shall dine early tonight."

"Very well," Eriq said as they stopped.

Both men made their way through the castle and soon came to the front door. Walking out into a small courtyard, they crossed the rickety draw bridge. It tensed at their passage and Dre had been meaning to get the rotted draw bridge replaced; he had simply forgotten about it in the last two hundred years.

A strange, dry rot covered the beams. It could barely hold a carriage, however there were still a few areas that held strong wood. Dre had once experimented with molds and rots, and the malignant rot covering this bridge also covered the lowerwalls of the moat. An experiement that had gotten out of hand, Dre knew it was harmless to most objects, save celluloid objects such as wood.

Dre led his nephew over the strong sections and soon they came to the end of the North Beget road. A large clearing led to the treeline about a quarter of a kilometer away from the edge of the embattlements.

Progressing slowly down the Beget road, their black attire blended in with the night. Their white cuffs and ruffles contrasted in heavy flashes as they disappeared into the treeline.

*****

Both wolves traveled through the woods at a breakneck pace. Their hearts pounded in their ears as they followed the scent given off by the deer. It was sweet nectar to their nostrils; like a beacon in the pitch black night. Branches and shrubs tugged at their furr as they dashed about agilely. Their long, thin legs kept them up to speed.

Eriq and Dre watched as the wolves dashed past them, across the path. Dre smiled wickedly and then suddenly fell to all fours. His body shifted and contorted and soon he stood as a massive, black wolf. Another black wolf stood before the first, and both turned and bounded after their quarry.

They followed the wolves until another scent entered their nostrils. Both of them halted as they tried to pick up the direction of the scent. Sniffing in the air, the wolves found the trail and then bounded off in its direction. Their huge stature was lost to the night once more.

Dre watched as his nephew jumped over a log and dashed ahead of him. Dre caught up. The scent was stronger now and Dre looked around to get his bearings. They were nearing Vakona, and Dre hadn't realized how far they had strayed from the castle.

They came to the edge of the town. They slowed to a trotting pace and crossed the backyard of a citizen's homestead. They were winded, and warm clouds snorted from their snouts, as their tongues wagged over savage canines. Both were monstrous, horrendous beasts of terror. No one in their right mind would bother venturing outside after dark, at least not unless it was absolutely, life threateningly necessary. There were dark and sinister things in the Dalewoodian nights, things left to fable and myth.

Their breath snorting before them in white clouds, they followed the scent down the alley, until it lead them around a corner. Their claws clicked on the cobbles as they approached the corner, their lupine forms stood on their haunches and changed back into Eriq and Dre Gwevare. Both men used their latent senses to keep following the sweet scent.

Dre had smelled this particular scent before and he knew it could've only been the menarche of a virginal soul. They were the easiest to pick out, because their changing pubescent bodies carried many heavy, distinctive fragrances. The scent lead them down several streets until they came to where it was the strongest. They came to the front door of a house.

Dre looked down the street and saw no one. He then stepped to the side of the house and grasped it with his palms and feet. Sticking firmly, he started to scale the side of the sheer vertical wall. Dre was halfway up when he looked around and couldn't find Eriq. He looked down at the ground and didn't see him either.

"Behind you uncle," Eriq said. Dre twisted his body around to see Eriq hovering in the air. "The dark powers are different for each."

"As I can see," Dre acknowledged. "now, how about flying over to that window and telling me what you see."

"Very well," Eriq said willing himself to the window.

Dre scaled the rest of the wall. He peered inside the top story window and saw a master bedroom that held a bed, dressers, mirrors, and the such. Within the bed, a man and a woman slept peacefully. This was not what he was looking for. Suddenly his nephew hissed at him.

Dre drew up beside his nephew and turned to face him. Eriq turned to him. His fangs had protracted down from his gums, his eyes had glazed over a pupilless white and his features were gaunt and paleish white. The effects of the hunger affected each of their kind differently. Dre's eyes blazed crimson red and glowered against the pane of glass.

"Look inside, both sleep tenderly," Eriq smiled evilly. Dre looked in and saw his own reflection in the pane of the glass. Failing to see Eriq's, he looked past himself and saw both of the young women nestled in their beds. Dre smiled and then began to open the window. He did so silently and soon he had it open enough for him to fit through. Once inside he turned to Eriq.

"Well, are you coming?" Dre asked.

"I cannot," Eriq said. "I have not been invited."

"In that case, I invite you." Dre said. Soon both of them were standing in the middle of the room. Their body position denoted which of the two they had chosen.

Dre looked down at his meal. She appeared no more than thirteen; very pretty and carried about herself an innocence which Dre had not known for over a thousand years. Her blankets had pulled away, and underneath her thin nightgown Dre could see that she was well endowed for a girl of her age. He sat in the bed beside her and stroked her hair. He heard her murmur and then her eyes flitted open. She looked up into his eyes with terror; a scream frozen in her vocal chords.

"Calm yourself," he said without communicating any words. His simple will was enough to calm her. He smiled pleasantly at her. "This will not harm you at all."

She smiled and relaxed as he bent over her. Pulling her wrist up to his mouth, he made a careful incision across the artery with his razor sharp fingernail. She quipped and relaxed when he put his mouth to the wound. He drank greedily of her life essence, careful not to spill a drop. Caught inecstatic reverie, the young teenager floated closer and closer to death.

Dre found he still had to suck to purge the liquid out of her faster. Within seconds her anemic, almost dead form lay in her bed. He passed his hand over the wound in her wrist and it healed itself over, leaving nothing but a very fine line. He tucked her back into her bed with an ironic paternal love and then stood. Eriq had just finished.

"Did you take her life?" Dre asked.

"Nay, I am no fool," Eriq said. "Is there not enough of us in this fell land?"

"You learn well, young Eriq." Dre said looking down at his nephew's dinner. She was older, maybe eighteen. She was beautiful, if not more than her sister. There was something about her pale, anemic form that made Dre feel a slight twang of self pity and selfishness.

"Regardless, even if they do die, they are both ours to command," Eriq said.

"Aye, you are correct, however to have too many slaves only breeds rebellion." Dre said cautioning his much younger protege. "I prefer to keep one or two, preferably female. Remember, we are much like their parents, and they are our children. Children are born and bred to eventually overturn their parents. If we wish to continue our existence, we cannot let them grow old enough to do that."

"I feel sated," Eriq said a moment later, after digesting what his uncle had said. His complexion was flushed and vibrant. His eye teeth had retreated and his eyes had returned to their normal, pale blue. Dre was also flushed, however he was still energized from the feeding and his harrowing features had not disappeared.

"Shall we return," Dre said. "Dawn approaches."

"Aye," Both stepped out of the window, one behind the other. Transforming into bats they fluttered off toward the castle.

Dawn came an hour after they returned. Eriq retreated to his coffin, hidden well within the catacombs of the castle. Dre needed rest and he retreated to his personal chamber and slumbered in his bed until about mid-morning.

*****

I woke to see the full radiance of the sun cast through the picture windows of my bedroom. Squinting up painfully at the sun, I experienced no trembles, no searing pain...nothing. I had long since grown immune to the effects of the retched sun.

Rising I began a myriad of daily chores to prepare me for yet another day of existence. Though my body, strong, powerful, and youthful, was dead, I produced no normal human excretions. However I still washed and prepared myself as I had in my mortal life. It was a habit that had continued on through my afterlife.

Once groomed to my satisfaction, I headed out on my personal terrace. From my vantage point, I could spy upon the village far below me. The fools were running about, doing this, doing that, getting here and going there. I was glad I had left that way of life many, many years ago. Almost over a millenia ago. I walked back into my room and hefted a dark, heavy object.

Its well anointed bindings creaked with the sound of fresh oil. This was my only prize, my only true possession. It held all my secrets, all my hopes, my dreams. It embodies all that is dear to my life and to my being.

Flitting absently through the pages, I came to a fresh entry and went onto the terrace with my quill and ink and sat upon the beautifully polished embattlement. It harrowed me not that there was a thousand foot drop directly below me. I could survive the fall, and this book could too. It was just a matter of finding it. It had been lost once, and the land had known no wrath quite as strong as mine, until, of course, it was found. As I began my entry, something passed my nose and I paused.

I could smell their stench. It was more than the rotten stench of broken garbage and refuse. It was the stench of fear, of uncertainty. They lived in a harsh land, which was very unforgiving. And all of them knew this. It was the way I wanted it, liked it...wished it.

I wasn't a monster, but neither was I candy stripper, righteous in my beliefs and thoughts. I was far from perfect, and as a result, even I made mistakes and wasn't always right. But that didn't happen very often.

Having once been human, I still brought that human weakness of love into my heart everyonce in a while. But it wasn't love as you human's would regard love. It was the thrill of the hunt. The feel of draining a Victim, and having his life giving blood run through me was better than any drug you could imagine. It was more intoxicating than wine, more addicting than heroin, more caustic than acid. Yes, caustic. Blood is an amazing body, and as soon as its mixed with my own brackish blood, it becomes the bane of all life. This very thing that brings life to so much in our world, can take it away just as easily.

I pondered my thoughts for a moment, then began my entry:

I'm no sadist, I do not allow my victims to be tortured or hurt, unless they have slighted me. The Victim I fall in love with can be female or male, it makes no difference. Loving me carries its price: life. It is my selfish need that has sent many to the Nine Hells, without chance of retribution. Those that I leave alive do not live pleasant lives. They have the same thirst I must control, but they are young, arrogant, and cocky. They are hapless in their dealings and will kill all. They are a liablility to my secreted existence, and I may only create one every couple hundred years. Man or Woman.

I am not here to judge sexualities, not at least while I am Nosferatu. I am a vampire, and with such I may cling, or discard, the values, morals, and organs of my previous life, but my need for blood outweighs any petty, superficial hang-ups one would have about his, or her sexuality. I do not have sex with my Victims, so what does it matter that I may find a young lass attractive, while I may turn around the next moment and sup upon the lovely neck of a beautiful man. It is wet, it is red, and it all runs amongst our veins. At least human veins.

I've been accused of being beautiful, eccentric, and sometimes egostistical. I revere all those remarks, and show them for what they are worth. They are the truth. I am beautiful, eccentric, and egotistical. You do not survive as long as I do without being all those things. And survive it as a vampire nontheless.

Some believe eternal life is a jewel, a prize; something which every person seeks, yet finds unattainable. I will admit that I foolishly sought it, and I am one of the few in my world that has attained it. You could say I have achieved something that is impossible, something that is locked in mythology. But I assure you, it is nothing of the sort. Yet, the voyage of immortality at first seems beautiful, some could say fun, I have changed. In my human life I was not a lot different than I am now, but the years have eroded away my naivety. Yes, even the most scholarly of wise sages enters immortality with a certain naivety. Where in their previous life they have driven and risen the road of wisdom, having enjoyed the trip, and finally tasted the fruits of their accomplishments, they have no idea how much they truly do not know.

My arrogance is quite apparent, but I do not care. I know what I speak of, and if you do not believe me, I dare you to enter immortality. I need something new to tantalize my senses, something which I may share laughter with, someone to enjoy the thrill of the hunt with, and someone other than my Victims for me to interact with. I need a new protege. Someone that will hold me in the highest regard, until he too reaches that plateau of immortality...the Awakening of his existence. Someone I can mold, shape, and create. Then finally crush.

Reflecting upon my words, I paused to look at the village and felt an evil warmness enter my heart. I could feel my wickedness etch a smile upon my face.

*****

As the moon howled silently overhead, both Eriq and Dre stood by the drawbridge, embracing. "Well, I will definitely miss you," Dre said feeling disappointment at his nephew's departure.

"As I," Eriq said. They separated and Eriq told him he would probably visit in another couple years. Dre knodded his approval. Soon Eriq disappeared inside the carriage.

A black, highly polished coach gleamed in the moonlight as its side door closed. Its driver waved to the count and then cackled an order to the four steeds. Their unearthly whinny echoed into the night as the Night-Mares stamped fire and sparks, their nostrils exuding gouts of thick acrid smoke.

The sinews and muscles of the jet black steeds bulged and rippled as they trotted the coach around so that it pointed properly down the Beget Road. Soon they issued forth, their hooves sparking, and Dre lost sight of them a moment later. Dre turned back to his home.

He was alone once more. As he had been for the last three hundred years. Being the patriarch of the land was very harrowing, especially when one was a vampire. He felt a small piece of his lonely soul twinge as he looked up at the dreary mortars that he called home.

He entered the first entry hall. He leered up at the guardian gargoyles and then headed inside the grande entry. What to do? Dre asked himself. There was nothing for him to do, nowhere to go where he hadn't been already. He couldn't believe it -- he was the lord and master of his own land; he had existed over a thousand years as a vampire! He had nothing to do. He couldn't pillage and torment; that became old hat after the first fifty years. Nor, there was no Victim within his area that sparked enough of his interest to stalk, hung, and finally...kill. He must feed, but he would settle for the mediocrity of a local victim. Even an animal.

Dre skulked as he walked absently around his castle. He hated to be alone. If he had just one person, someone whom he could call his own, he would be very happy. These fleeting visits were fun, but they only reminded him of what he couldn't have; he always knew they would eventually leave. Dre came to an intersection in the hallway when suddenly a grey wolf emerged from around the corner. Dre seemed startled by its presence.

Come here, Dre commanded softly without mouthing a word. The wolf's ears snapped back and it sauntered over to him timidly. Dre kneeled and then began petting the creature. It was not unusual for wolves and bats and the such to roam the halls of his castle, however, this particular grey wolf seemed to spend a lot of his time there. Dre almost considered it his personal pet.

Are you the only one in this land that is truly my friend? He asked it silently. The wolf looked up at him and started licking his face affectionately. Normally, such levels of contact were distasteful to Dre, however, now he lapped them up as greedily as what the wolf gave them.

How can you love me, you surely sense the real creature within me? The wolf just looked up at him. Dre rose and both man and beast continued their walk. Dre chuckled with a thought: Lord and master, a person with great influence in the land, and my only true friend is but a wild dog.

Animal companions were fine, but Dre craved human companionship. He craved once more to come into contact with a woman, someone whom could love him as much as this wolf. But, alas, there was no one in the land that could be deemed worthy of his affections. The burgomaster had a beautiful daughter, whom he had considered on many occasions, however she did not possess a pure lineage. She was a bastard child, dutifully wrought from the burgomasters frequent visits to the brothel. It was just because her mother had died, that the love child lived with the burgomaster. Dre could not dishonor himself by laying with a whore's bastard.

Dre turned a corner and the wolf continued to follow alongside him, never missing a step. Dre rolled the hem of his cape inbetween the thumb and index finger of each of his hands. It was an old habit he had picked up when he was worried, or when he was thinking too hard.

They passed at a suit of armor that glinted, under the moonlight blazing through the window, in salute. Dre failed to notice it and soon found he was at a dead end. He turned, reached up and grabbed the suit's left arm and pulled downward. There was a scraping and grating sound as a hidden door opened and Dre disappeared, with his wolf cohort, inside.

"Why do I bother?" Dre asked to himself "You, wolf, probably have a more noble reason to exist, than I."

The wolf crossed in front of him and looked back at him inquisitively. The wolf turned back and continued down the passage ahead of his new master. Dre just frowned and sighed when he realized how pitiful the answer was. His eyes glew red in the darkness, and he failed to notice this until he saw the red radiance cast against his hand when he reached up to pull another lever. A door opened. Dre and his companion exited the secret tunnel directly into Dre's study.

"But, how can I end my unlife?" Dre asked himself. "I am a damned patriarch." Dre went to his desk, sat and picked up his diary unspectacularly. There no longer was any flare to his motions. He was simply using it as implement, this prized possession was no more than a shovel to him at this moment. Picking up a quill he began a new entry:

I have confirmed that I grow weary of this life. It is not so much my existence, but the loneliness my existence brings. I have lived over a thousand years, almost two. My exact age was lost to me long ago. I have seen hundreds of generations of the pitiful townsfolk...and I have even come to admire a few of those pitiful souls.

Four distinct societies have risen from the land. Though each succeeded the other, one thing was always certain, their societies were nothing more than passing fads within my lifetime. The current society, dubbed the Gentry, succeeded The Higher Nobility. The Higher Nobility were fine, however overtime their frivolous and ostentatious ways grew tiresome after three or four hundred years. The Gentry is more conservative in their dress, their language, and their beliefs. It had partly something to do with my indirect manipulation of their societal views. I simply attended public functions wearing different clothes, acting different ways, and accepting things while not accepting others. It was subtle, but after twenty years their society suddenly started a shift toward this more conservative approach. That is the only influence, other than Corporeal Law, I impress upon them.

Though I despise my human brethren, I do realize their one advantage: they know they will die, and they prepare for this eventuality. I have already died, yet I live, and I do not know when I will find rest or peace with this evil world.

Who knows, maybe one day I will need their assistance. I highly doubt it. As long as they keep supplying me and my minions with beautiful necks, I will be contented with them.

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I may decree a new rule or law. Maybe one that banes all forms of currency, or maybe I will simply set my wolf packs upon their village. I have done it before, but that was only because of suspected unrest. Bah! Who needs a reason to strike them down with fear! Who knows...maybe I won't do anything, maybe I will just mope around the castle all day griping about my pitiful life. I grow tired of the games.

Count Dre Gwevare

Dre closed his diary, replaced his quill and sat back for a moment. He sighed and then smelled a retched scent assault his nostrils. The raunch smell caused his nose to scrunch up in distaste as he looked at his pet wolf. "Did you flatulate?" Dre asked. The wolf looked up at him and then colapsed back down. "Do not do that again."

Dre stood. Knowing his warning would be of no use, he smiled and beckoned his pet to follow him. He opened the door to his study and was then suddenly confronted by a heavenly image. Her deathly pale body was draped in black linens, and her beautiful face seemed flushed and happy.

"Well, there you are, Hilda." Dre said to one of his servants.

"What do you wish?" the vampiress asked, revealing her eye teeth in subtle defiance. Dre missed the gesture.

"I see you have fed," Dre said, "where did you feed? Not from my personal larders?"

"No, I went into the village," the vampiress hissed, once more revealing her eye teeth less subtly.

"Put those back in your mouth or you will loose them my darling," Dre scolded as the wolf retreated back, baring its teeth and growling at their exchange. Dre calmed the beast and it bounded off into the darkness. "Now leave, go to your sanctuary or wherever you girls go these days."

"Yes master," the vampiress said, choking on the words. She was a relatively elder servant, having been with him for a hundred and sixty years. She was by far the oldest servant he had kept, however she was starting to show signs of rebellion. Dre knew within the next couple of years he would have to destroy her, if not within the year.

"Maybe I'll do it tonight," Dre mused to himself as they parted and went their separate ways.

Dre moved through the halls toward the doors that would take him to his necromantic tower. When he made the flight of stairs in the main entryway, which lead to the second floor and continued to the third and fourth, his second servant came running up to him from behind. She grabbed his shoulder and Dre twisted around, seizing her wrist in paranoia. She seemed startled by the action and he released his grip.

"I am sorry Ursula," he started, "I did not realize it was you."

"Dre, there is something happening...Fredric beckons you!

"What could it be?" Dre asked.

"He was fanatical about the fact that he wanted to talk to you,"

"Very well, I shall have a word with dear Fredric," Dre announced as Ursula transformed into a large wolf and bounded off into the darkness.

"Hilda, what have you done?" he said to himself outloud. Frederic was an old prophet he kept in his dungeons. He was blind, mute, and deaf. However, he had an amazing sixth sense of prophecy. If he was agitated, something was wrong. And it was probably Hilda's fault. She had always been careless, never covering her tracks, and Dre was afraid those tracks lead directly to Castle Fatima. "I am an idiot for letting her outside the walls of the castle!"

"Yes you are, my liege," Hilda suddenly said from the shadows. She stepped from them, her body swathed in a beam of moonlight coming from a window high above.

"You! You have done this!" Dre raged, pointing a long, lithe finger at her. "What have you done, you vile slops wench!"

Dre didn't wait for her answer. He used his amazing reflexes and speed to strike out at her. Hilda knew the attack would be coming and in a blinding split second, both had traded places, seemingly without moving. Dre's expression turned gaunt and his eyes blazed crimson. He drew his mouth back into a sneer, revealing his menacing canine eye teeth. He hissed at her as she did the same. They circled around one another, each of them hissing and glaring for control.

Dre found he no longer had the same control over her as he had had. She had effectively cut him off from her mind. When he tried to enter her, all he met was a cloudy fog that he couldn't penetrate.

"You have learned well," Dre hissed, his eyes flaring at each of the stresses in the sentence.

"You are old, Dre," Hilda said. "You no longer have the will you once possessed."

"Rubbish!" Dre said, using another of his latent powers to send a psychic punch against her. He could see her wince in pain and Dre saw a break in the cloud. His will dashed for it and then he felt a sudden sharp, agonizing pain in his own head. The breach had closed as quickly as it had opened and his will slammed into it. He shook his head and then snapped a punch out at her.

The blow was lightning fast and caught her in the nose, the next blow crashed into the side of her skull. Hilda fell back to her knee and Dre was about to grab her when Hilda thrust her heel at Dre's back knee. His back leg had been supporting his weight and when it buckled he fell. Hilda jumped up and was about to jump on top of Dre when suddenly Dre was no longer there.

"Behind you!" Dre warned. She turned around, directly into his grasp. With one fell move, Dre seized her, bending her body over his knee. Sinking his eye teeth into her gorge, he grotesquely tore her throat out. Black, acrid blood exploded out from the tortured wound and Dre dropped her body. She clutched at her throat, as the life giving blood drained from her body. She writhed on the ground and tried to scream, however, each scream only produced a different gurgle of blood. Blood flowed from her mouth and nostrils, and from the hole in her neck. Within half a minute, a huge pool of black, brackish blood had surrounded her lifeless body.

"Foolish wench," Dre scowled, wiping his mouth as he turned and bounded for the parapets, his form transfiguring into that of a huge, black wolf.

*****

Dre opened the chamber door. Fredric was seated, his eyes staring straight forward at the scrying ball. Though they were normally unfocused, he could tell they were intimately locked on the swirling clouds inside the ball. Frederic was mumbling to himself, despite the fact that Dre had long since cut his tongue out.

Frederic was a horrid looking man. What the ravages of time had not taken from him, Dre had. Though born blind at birth, Dre had imprisoned him from the time he was a young man. Dre had cut his ears off, while punching through his ear drum. He had also cut his tongue off so he could not alert anybody to his prescense. For the last forty years, Frederic had been locked in the small "Sage's Chamber", fed well, and used as Dre's personal fortune telling device.

Frederick could no longer vocalize words, and he could write no better. His gestures were also maniacal, lending the average obsever to believe that his sanity had long since departed. However, when he was scrying and a vision hit him, he appeared normal and could write and comprehend as well as any man.

"Frederic," Dre began. Frederic saw it was him and began thrashing at the table, trying to pick up the pencil and parchment that Ursula had given him. Dre looked down to see that his etchings and words were disjointed.

Frederic's frantic motions slowed as his pencil dashed across the parchment. Soon he was done. Dre reached down and tore the piece of paper from his fingers. He looked down and read the only legible writing:

They are coming...SHE is among them


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Darkness, 19 April 1997