Fantasy Serial Story – The Vampiric Archipelago – Part V

By Christine Martino

One open door, coming right up!
~ Artwork by Christine Martino

James woke the next day slightly before noon and rolled over stiffly. This was what he hated most about these adventures. He always forgot to take off his armor before sleeping and the ground was uncomfortable to begin with. He stretched, straining his muscles almost to the point of cramping. Then he woke Wain and they walked down to the village to meet the Order of the Sea. Their leader, Alain Shiningblade, stepped out to meet them.
“Greetings, O Holy Warriors. We are ready to follow your lead. I have but one question.”
“What is that?” asked James, Wain was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“How are we to storm the tower? It has a heavy door that is the only entrance and is barred from the inside. It will take over an hour to cut through it and we have no ram.”
“My friend here,” James indicated Wain, who yawned, “Will show how with faith in the Lord and a little cunning one can overcome the greatest of obstacles. Go ahead Wain.”
“Open the door? All right. One open door coming right up.”
Wain trotted up to the door and, ducking his shoulder, slammed into it. The knights stared in disbelief as the stocky barbarian bounced off the solid oak planks. Wain crashed into the door again and again was thrown back. As he prepared for his third rush however, the door swung open and a guard glared out.
“Stop this infernal…” a surprised look crossed his face, “Who are you?”
Wain punched him in the nose and dove through the open doorway, sword flashing. The knights cheered and James led them charging in after Wain. They burst into the bottom floor, but all that remained was corpses. The sound of steel clashing together could be heard above.
“Five here and five with me,” yelled James, “Come on men…”
As he ran up the stairs James realized that none of the knights were following him. They were all retching at the sight of the freshly dead. James sighed and turned to continue up the stairs. He was halted by a blood soaked barbarian standing at the top.
“The building is clear James.”
“Even the sentry?” A sodden thump outside confirmed that the sentry had, indeed, been taken care of.
“The main passage is through the trapdoor here, Sir James,” Alain looked pale but otherwise recovered.
“Arm yourselves and onward,” James led the charge down into the passage, “Try to stay closer this time Wain.”
“You guys got left behind, not me,” Wain shouted back at him.
The passage soon split and James sent the young knights off to liberate the other island, while he and Wain continued on to the main stronghold. The tunnel ended at a large stone gate, locked tight. On the steps leading up to the gate sat a weary looking old man. At least, that is what Wain saw.
James saw a powerfully built man, clad in dark armor sitting on the step. A mace rested in his lap and his eyes were as black and hateful as a beetles.
“Why are you here?” groaned the old man.
“To slay the vampires,” stated Wain with pride.
“I am their gatekeeper,” moaned the old man, “If you promise to set me free I will open the gate for you.”
“I swear on the sword of my fathers that you will be set free,” said Wain. James, for some peculiar reason known only to himself said nothing about the dellusion that Wain was under.
The old man unlocked the gate and held it open. Wain and James started to pass through and as soon as they’re backs were to him the dark knight dropped the dellusion and swung his mace at the paladin’s head. James, who had been expecting just such an attack, dodged and the mace missed.
Wain whirled, outraged at having been tricked, a deadly barbaric rage filling him. But James saw more dark knights rushing down the corridor to out flank them and shouted, “Watch my back Wain!”
Wain whirled again, his sword singing through the air, and he rushed the group of dark knights, cutting one down and smashing another over the head. His sword shattered and the knights, after their instinctive recoil from his sudden charge, began to close in. With a mighty leap Wain pushed past them and tore an enormous stone sword from where it was mounted on the wall.
Terrified by the display of strength and immunity to fear, the vampires broke and fled back from whence they had come. Wain chased after them, right on their heels. He crushed the slowest knight with the stone sword before they rounded the corridor, swatting him like a fly.
The vampires fled, seeking a place where they could be safe and regroup. Wain followed, an unstoppable force of nature, hacking and hewing them from behind. The last knight made it to a door and slammed it shut. Panting he leaned into the door and held it closed. He never expected that stone sword to burst through and cleave the door in half, crushing him in the process.
Wain strode into the room, the red light fading from his eyes as no more enemies stood before him. A quick glance around the room convinced him that the only object of interest was the treasure chest. It gleamed with light from within and was heavily locked. Wain hefted the stone sword and strode forward.
Meanwhile Sir James was fighting with the leader of the vampires. He was slowly but surely getting better at the whole sword fighting part of his life. He was giving as good as he got but couldn’t parry the dark knight’s mace. As he ducked and counter attacked James the fight from the night before. He muttered a prayer for light under his breath as he ducked another swing. The white, holy flame appeared above his head, its rays filling him with strength and his enemy with fear. With a final mighty stroke Sir James Flickerflame smote the dark knight right sorely and drove him to the ground, breaking his opponents back.
“Nice shot,” James whirled to see who spoke, “Easy there. It’s me and look at what I found.”
“The sword and shield!” gasped James.
“Yup. And since I broke my sword and I need another one…”
“No! We must give the artifacts to the Bishop. They are sorely needed on the front.”
“How do we get back?”
“Let’s go get those young knights and have them sail us back in the warship that is convinently stored in a hidden harbor over there.”
“How did I guess we would end up on another ship,” sighed Wain.

* * *

 “Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus,” chanted Wain. Although he would never admit it to James he liked Vespers. The snack hour afterwards was great, hard to beat free food. He also enjoyed the chants, even if they were hard to learn.

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