Authors: JG Cully
Text copyright © 2012
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Dedicated to my friends and
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JG Cully lives and works in
Northern Ireland. He writes fantasy detective novels, has a keen interest in
war gaming and has a Northern Ireland brand sense of humour.
You can find out more about
his exploits in the links below.
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1: A Clumsy Start
“They may slay my mortal
body, but I am not so easily defeated. Time is on my side, and I will spend it
Attributed to Igor Regorash
* * * * *
...was the first
thought that came to Alyssa's mind as she hurtled through the air, because this
wasn't the first time she had found herself in this position, nor indeed would
it be the last. She had yet to learn, even after such a long time, how to
judge distances properly when jumping, and when you're jumping from rooftop to ledge,
judging the distance was critical. Otherwise you fell in an undignified heap
on the ground.
Which was what
would be happening to her shortly.
That was always
the question that came to her mind as she was about to impact. She had decided
long ago that being a vampire really wasn't much fun, even if she was the last
of her kind.
The one who had
turned her had been none other than Igor Regorash. The Blood Tyrant himself.
The Grand Dictator of all vampires in the land of Argon, possibly the world,
but she'd never given it much thought. The Master of Evil. The Destroyer of
Hope. The whatever-the-hell-else he wanted to call himself. For years he and
his army had rampaged across the southern reaches of Argon unchecked,
butchering entire villages, burning crop lands and turning those slain into the
walking undead. The Argon military however were more concerned with fighting
the Six Nations War than fighting a vampire. Regorash's attacks were
relatively new, after all, whilst the Six Nations War had raged for more than
fifty years. Magra invasions, Trima counter attacks and Darnhun raids were but
a few of the greater threats the military had to face. A marauding vampire, no
matter how dangerous, was fighting on a much smaller scale than Argon’s many
enemies who threatened far greater areas of land and promised greater
The legends said
kill the Grand Dictator and you released all his victims from the curse of the
vampire. So, instead of launching a full scale military campaign, a band of
plucky adventurers (always plucky, but never particularly sensible) had set to
the task. Sacrificing life and limb, they had entered the tyrant's fortified
keep in the south-lands, fighting through his undead hordes and at last
confronting him. In an epic battle worthy of song (two songs in the end
actually), they had finally slain him and with a sudden flash, all who had been
vampires were freed from the curse.
hordes of skeletons and zombies crumbled to dust, those inflicted with the vampire
curse reverted to their human forms and the story was trumpeted as a triumph
across the length and breadth of the country, vastly improving morale in a
country stricken with war. It was good news for all. Indeed it was but the
first bout of good news, for no more than a few months later the Six Nations
War finally came to an end. Peace descended across the land. Everyone, every
country, race and community, breathed a collective sigh of relief. All except
For some reason,
as yet undiscovered, she was still undead instead of simply not-dead.
vampires that she knew of now existed. Just her, unique little her, existing
as a vampire for nearly a year and a half now. Managing to survive, after a
fashion, in the Argon capital of Larrick City.
In fact she had
always worn glasses even before she had become a vampire. She reasoned that
she probably didn't need them any more but kept up the masquerade, which helped
her fit in with normal people as well as maintain her humanity.
urgent thought about the wearing of glasses had surfaced in her mind to remind
her to turn, so they didn't get crushed by her fall. In mid-air she expertly
twisted her body round so she could land on her back. This was one thing she had
learned to do at least, and do it well. She had had rather a lot of practice.
Alyssa lay flat
on her back, looking up at the moonlit sky, winter clouds drifting past lazily.
managed in a tiny voice.
It had hurt
nowhere near as much as it should but then she was a vampire. Her body,
despite still looking like that of an eighteen year old girl, was capable of
taking a great deal of damage with only minor pain registering. The fall had
broken no bones nor scratched any skin. She could feel pain but it was an
uncomfortable kind as opposed to debilitating, as if she had just tripped and
fallen on her back instead of having fallen three storeys directly onto a
looking up at where she had meant to be after her jump, which was a fairly
sizeable ledge jutting from the side of the house opposite where she'd leapt
from. It was a ledge leading to a bottle glass window, the expensive kind.
Through the window was a lavishly decorated and pointlessly huge bedroom.
Sleeping in the bedroom was a very rich man. Who also happened to be a very
Alyssa might be
the last of her kind but she was determined to do things differently. No
empire building, no enslaving humanity. Nothing evil. Well not that evil
anyway. Sucking blood from a criminal overlord wasn't that evil was it?
Particularly as she wouldn't kill him, she just...drained him a little. It was
a public service. Most drained bad guys didn't do so well in the planning and
execution of their nefarious activities, so they were easier to catch for the
militia, which meant they went behind bars where they couldn't do as much
evil. She was the one who started it all. She got the required amount of
blood to keep her alive (alive being a very loose term of course), the militia
got their man. Sorted.
That is, when
she succeeded which regrettably, wasn't all that often.
misjudging distances was, unfortunately, not Alyssa's only failing. She was
speaking she had the strength of ten men, the ability to leap over average
sized buildings in a single bound and possessed a few other abilities that
openly defied the rules of the physical world. However, none of these
abilities prevented her from being clumsy. The way she rationalized it was
that Nature itself rebelled against her very existence, particularly because it
liked picking on individuals who were the 'last' of their kind. Nature wanted
to clean up and so made damn sure that in any given situation she would bump
into something, or someone, misjudge a jump, or wreck things in some other
clumsy way. Nature didn't like her. The truth was she had always been clumsy
and being turned into a vampire hadn't changed that.
But whilst she
was clumsy, she was also a very beautiful woman.
hair was cut short to frame her face, and whilst she couldn't change her
hairstyle (vampire hair after all did not grow) she kept it clean and well
groomed. Her face had sharp green eyes that seemed more elfish than human,
augmented by long eyelashes and high cheek bones. When she wasn't grimacing
from falling in a heap on the floor, she had a wide enchanting smile full of
perfect white teeth, with only mildly sharp canines. Her petite body was perfectly
proportioned, with curves that hadn't left her since her transformation into a
vampire. A pity then that, at that moment, said curves had managed to crack a
couple of cobblestones.
lying on the ground was unlikely to accomplish anything. So, with an
accompanying groan, she pulled herself into a seated position, hugging her
knees as she cast another glance at the ledge above her.
I'll just have to climb then.
She wasn't sure
if climbing was all that practical, (her blue dress, whilst correctly cut to
her figure, was not meant for the wear and tear of nightly roof-running) or
indeed if she could find purchase against the bricks whilst climbing up the
wall with the black leather walking shoes she had on, which were not designed
for hiking up the side of buildings, especially in winter time. Then again,
leaping in a dress wasn't all that practical either now was it?
least this time she hadn't screamed her way down to earth. Falling off
buildings had become so regular that she saw no need to announce it to all and
one seemed to be alerted to her presence.
yelped, snapping her head round to the source of the voice.
Standing a few
metres away was a young man dressed in brown tunic and leggings, about her own
age and looking suitably surprised. He was standing with his back to the door
of the building Alyssa had unsuccessfully attempted to leap from. Immediately
Alyssa's brain asked a very important question.
Did he see me
If he had well,
that was bad. Alyssa maintained at least some vampire traditions. One of
which was not being discovered as a vampire, which was surprisingly hard to do
if someone saw you fall three storeys with no apparent injury to yourself.
Discovery meant death, and probably of the long and painful kind. Whilst she
was technically already dead, she'd no great wish to experience it again.
But after a few
tense seconds she realized that the guy before her didn't seem to be reacting
the way someone would after having just seen a woman hurtling from the sky to
land heavily on the ground. He was just standing, looking at her a bit oddly.
And it was only then that she remembered she was still sitting on the ground;
in the middle of the street; on a cold, winter's night.
rather quickly, and smiled awkwardly.
said. “I kind of...tripped and fell.”
like lying but it had become necessary given her condition. Technically she
had fallen, but not lightly.
“Oh right.” the
man said, returning the smile. “Are you ok?”
If only you
At this stage
she got a better look at him. Alyssa had found that as a vampire, her night
vision was very good. So even though he was standing in the shadows of the
door, out of the glare of the streets oil lanterns, she could see him well
enough. He'd a youthful face, probably just out of his teens, with the
faintest whiff of a moustache under his nose; light brown hair cut very short,
with deep brown eyes if she wasn't mistaken even in the gloom of night.
Probably a dockyards worker or something similar she reasoned, considering his
clothing. The capital's massive ship building yards were not far from the
street they were in and it was that time of the night when the night shift
workers would be finishing.
he caught herself, managing
not to vocalize that thought.
“No, I'm ok.
Just tripped like I said.”
replied. He was looking over at her, a slight smile on his face, as if
distracted. This wasn't that unusual. Alyssa wasn't blind. Although she
hadn't seen a mirror in over a year and a half (vampires cast no reflection,
she didn't know why, only that it was very inconvenient.) she was reasonably
sure she was still what most would consider in this day and age
A thought she clung to as a measure of humanity. The fact that she still kept
an extensive wardrobe of good clothes in clean condition meant that even
without a mirror, she reckoned she could still manage to look her best in any
But she had also
noticed that since becoming a vampire people had become somewhat evasive of
her. Crossing the road away from her when she got close, avoiding her eyes,
unusual shuddering as she walked past. Even backing off when she stepped
toward them. All very unnatural, particularly as not a soul knew she was a
vampire. She'd kept that secret,
secret. And yet, he'd done
none of these things. He was looking straight at her and not flinching away at
her return look. Neither was he hurriedly trying to open his door or anything
that would indicate that he wanted to avoid her.
Not that she was
complaining. It had been a very long time since she had had a proper
conversation with a human being that didn't start or end with the frantic words
'I have to go now!'.
“You from around
here?” he asked next.
shrugged. She began to relax a little.
She flicked her
hair back behind her ears, fixing her glasses before speaking again. She found
her awkward smile now transitioning to a warmer one.
further north.” She didn't go as far as mentioning her street.
lived in a house, a rented house one might add, and slept in a bed. She had
bluntly refused to conform to the stereotype of sleeping in a coffin. She
would do that when she was really dead. Instead she slept in a proper bed with
proper sheets. Whilst she couldn't feel the warmth of those sheets any more,
simply having them reassured her. Keeping them clean and tidy was a nice
routine to have. It meant that when she did get visitors, few as they were,
there wasn't a big tell-tale coffin sitting in the bedroom, which might as well
have 'I am a vampire!' stamped over it.