I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.
Jacques rode carefully in the night, ready at a moments notice for anything. While most people feared bandits or thieves in the early night after the sun went down; Jacques de Volker feared something else. He rather deal with bandits than the other things in the shadow.
The night was filled with stars he knew all too well, even if the land around him seemed alien. He was sent on a mission of great importance that required him to be riding for a month straight, travelling father than he had ever done so before.
A bystander looking at him might think he were alone, but in fact, he was surrounded by his men. They kept their distance from each other, to draw less attention to themselves. During the day that distance was greater, at night was different.
The stars were the only bit of home he had right now. He was locked in their brilliance, closing his eyes he saw the farm he grew up at, and his family. For the briefest of moments, he was happy.
He snapped out of that moment, opening his eyes. As blissful as they were, the stars were a distraction. He turned his gaze back to the land before him. To the distance he saw a hill leading into a forest. A forest is a great place for evil to hide, for people to disappear even in the time of day.
As he came closer to the hill, he noticed a man on a horse at the top of that hill. While hard to see who the man was from this distance, Jacques knew it was David de Tortosa. David rode the lead position of the group, scouting for dangers ahead.
Jacques saw that he was doing nothing, simply sitting on his horse looking forward. His weapons were not drawn. As his horse trotted closer, Jacques noted an arrow sticking out of the ground.
Jacques knew what this meant. He felt the muscles in his stomach tighten, and his fingers began strangling the reins. David would only stop if there were something wrong.
Jacques pulled hard on the reins, bringing the horse to a full stop. He proceeded to open his arms, stretching into the air as wide as he could. He swung them back, and then forward. He did this a few times, like one would do swimming in water. After a third swing, he reached towards the sky and crossed his wrists above his head. He locked in place for a moment.
He kicked his horse and rode towards David. While he knew that stealth was needed, he also wanted to get to David as quick as possible. With his legs, he got the horse to move in a trot, but soon after he brought the horse to a canter. A gallop would get him there quicker but was also noisier.
Once he got a good sight of David; he slowed his horse to a walk, stopping once he came along side David. Before Jacques was the darkness of the forest. He could see nothing. The full moon left him partially blind to complete darkness; his eyes were now adjusting.
He looked over at David. His eyes were narrow and focused with a relaxed stature. David did what he did best; see what others could not, and now waited for orders.
Jacques turned again towards the darkness. Now he noticed what David saw, though for him it was a blob. He noted that it was simply a group of figures moving about. He couldn’t determine anything else.
“How many are there?” Jacques asked.
“Three,” David answered.
“And they are…?” Jacques was interrupted but knew the answer already.
What is a woman doing out this late?
Jacques turned to his left to see the other two members of his team. Next to him was Janusz Bakhizen, and on the other side of him was Savio d’Artusio. Their approach had been silent as his had been, but he felt inside his heart they were very close. While both had not seen what was ahead, their hands held the hilt of their sheathed swords.
They both focused into the darkness. They said nothing. Jacques knew they wouldn’t say anything until he spoke to them.
“David scouted vampires feeding on a victim ahead.”
“More than one?” Janusz asked.
“Three vampires,” Jacques answered.
Again the men fell to silence, waiting for the order. Jacques looked around. He felt uneasy fighting against the vampires on this night, being so close to their destination. It was important they arrive.
“David, I want you to head south, start looking for another path that will lead us to Darlet,” Jacques commanded.
David did not move. Jacques at first thought he might be thinking. From the corner of his eye, he saw that David’s head was still locked in the same position. The other two turned their gaze towards Jacques. Jacques met their gaze, seeing inquisitive looks mixed with confusion and shock.
“We aren’t going to fight them?” Savio asked.
“Do you question my orders, Savio?”
“Forgive me, Master Jacques. But you know the Templar code: A seen vampire is a dead vampire.”
Jacques knew the words spoken were true. “I know the code. Our mission is too important.”
“What of the woman?” Now it was Janusz turn to question orders.
“What of her? Nothing we do now changes her fate.”
“What if she is turned? Then she kills others, or worse, turns them? The blood of the innocent does not wash from our souls. What will our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ say when he looks upon the stains?”
Jacques had another reason, a reason unknown to the others. However, they were right; the Templar code was clear for Hunters. He knew that either he follow the code or reveal why he desired to break the code.
He broke his silence. He turned to his right. “David… on your arrows.”
David reached around his back to his quiver. He found the fletchings of each arrow, searching for a certain texture that told him the kind of arrow he wanted. He pulled out three silver tip arrows and positioned his bow at the ready.
He turned back to the other two. “I want you two to ride past them in a full gallop. You will ensure that any that retreat don’t make it very far. Keep them occupied. Janusz, maintain your mount at all times. They cannot enter the forest.”
Both Savio and Janusz gave a firm nod of their head. They didn’t need to know what Jacques was going to do, only that they had a part to play.
Everyone but David shifted in their saddles, preparing themselves for what they would do. Savio moved his horse a little bit away from the group, and Janusz followed his sidestep.
Jacques pulled out his sword and gripped the handle tight. He then used it to tap David on the shoulder. David took just a moment to let his gaze steady, and then took his shot. His bow was tightly strung, letting him pull back part way to launch the third arrow within seconds of the first.
Three arrows thrusted through the air. The first arrow hit the closest vampire to them. This vampire was nestled between her open legs. The hit was true and from its back the arrow pierced its heart, causing a bright flash that turn to fire.
The second arrow hit a vampire in the arm. He bellowed out in pain as the silver burned its blood. The third vampire noted the flash and bellow and was quick enough to escape the arrows velocity.
The other three riders saw the darkness swallow the arrows. Before seeing the flash of the vampire, they kicked their horses hard, moving as fast as they could.
Jacques rode a destrier, allowing him to arrive at the group of vampires faster. Upon arrival, he leapt from his mount onto the wounded Vampire.
Janusz and Savio had a running start when the third vampire dodged the arrow. This vampire attempted a clean break for the treeline but was blocked by Janusz. Facing the obstacle, he ran a different direction, only to be met by Savio.
Jacques was able to roll off the vampire and settled on his knees with sword in hand. He noted the vampire still had an arrow from his arm and was on its back. Jacques rose to his feet and closed the distance quickly. He raised his Damascus steel sword high in the air. When the vampire was at his feet, he drove the sword point downward towards its chest.
The vampire struggled but deflected the sword away with its arm. This powerful block with its injured arm, caused the sword to be thrown from Jacques’s hand.
The vampire rolled its back to allow his right arm to strike against the studded leather armor. This knocked Jacques back a few feet, enough for the vampire to get to a fighting stance. There Jacques met his gaze with its red glowing eyes.
Janusz and Savio were able to corner their vampire off, and Savio took this moment to pull out his sword. He dismounted his horse and began lunging at the vampire, attempting to cut him. The vampire was without armour, wearing only cloth.
Janusz also pulled out his sword, but only to use it to push the vampire away from him and towards Savio. To the vampires credit, he was able to use its arms to deflect the swords attack, but the silver coating of the silver steel alloy made each block harder to endure.
Savio knew the vampire could endure a lot of pain to defend its life. He became more aggressive in its swings, attacking from different stances to force the vampire to anticipate from what seem like multiple attackers. The vampire seemed unfamiliar with this way of fighting and left itself open long enough for the sword to pierce its heart. Like the silver tipped arrow, it screamed with a bright flash.
The last remaining vampire could see the light of the killed vampire. Its fear and pain channelled its anger as it ran at Jacques. Jacques didn’t have time to react properly and was caught by the vampire.
The vampire grabbed onto Jacques and attempted to take him to the ground. Jacques wasn’t able to be offensive, but didn’t allow himself to be overtaken defensively. He was able to throw the vampire with its momentum to the ground. The vampire rolled out of it and got to its feet once more.
Jacques took this quick moment to take out a piece of yew wood from his hip as the vampire came back at him. The vampire, of fear and desperation, continued to punch at Jacques, attempting to grab on him. Jacques could only take the punches and hit back. He soon became desperate like the vampire, doing what he could to detach himself from its grasp.
The stench was almost too much for Jacques to take, growing weaker from the hits. A left. A right. His blood was boiling in his head. Tears drawing from his eyes. He held them back and focused on the moment. He deflected and guided its punches. Drawing it to overcompensate. His bones were getting weaker. The hits felt harder.
The other saw what was happening and rode to them. The hard thrusts of the horse steps slapped against the air, drumming a beat. The vampire took only a moment to look. Jacques took this as its momentary mistake and drove the stake through its heart, with a hard push to break the vampires dense bones.
The vampire took a step back. It’s bones were broken but the stake was not far enough in. Jacques closed the distance once more, throwing his fist onto the top of the wood, numbing his hand as the stake went into fully pierce its heart.
Jacques let out a grunt and the vampire let out a shriek as it grew in light and fire. Jacques put his body into the punch and fell through the firestorm of the vampire, breaking through and landing on the ground, feeling hot as a summer’s day.
The vampire disappeared to the air and ash fell to the ground at Jacques’s ankles. The others arrived a moment later. Savio came to Jacques and grabbed his arm. Jacques threw his hands away, pushing his hands into the ground and getting to his knees.
Jacques faced both Savio and Janusz. They both nodded in the positive. He then looked over at David, who nodded in the negative. Jacques knew that this meant all were defeated and no more remained.
He drew a breath. In through his nose and hard out his mouth. He never got used to the idea of being seconds from death… or worse, undeath. He held a hand out to Savio, who took it as Jacques pulled him towards him. Savio held his ground and pulled him the same, to allow Jacques to get to his feet.
Both David and Janusz dismounted from their horses, and Jacques picked up his sword and sheathed it. He then found his stake from the ash and put that back on his hip. David started to collect his arrows.
“Is everyone alright?” Jacques asked.
No one said anything, and half nodded their heads. Jacques accepted their silence as a good sign. Jacques then walked over to the woman. Her body was covered with her blood, with her clothing ripped up. He saw three sets of puncture marks. Two on either side of her neck and one set on inner thigh.
Janusz and Savio joined Jacques as David looked around. Janusz went to his knees near her head and put his palm over her mouth and moved it to her heart.
“She is without life,” Janusz stated.
“I can say I’ve never seen three vampires on one victim before… at the same exact time,” Jacques quipped.
“Based on what I saw of their appearance, I believe they were Gierach.” Savio spoke with great confidence in his voice.
“I’m not familiar with Gierach vampires,” Jacques stated.
“Gierach are from Prussia. Their red glowing eyes and smell of decay are a dead give away. They hunt early in the night, but rarely past midnight. Lucky for us they are not full in the head. They stay to the woods and attack those on the path.”
“What are Prussian vampires doing in Poland?” The voice came from behind them. David was never much for words.
“These days it seems a lot of vampires are doing what they aren’t suppose to. Why do you suppose that is, Master Jacques?” Savio asked.
Jacques had no answer to this. He agreed at the problem voiced by Savio, but he lacked the answer.
Janusz interjected, “That may be why she was attacked.”
“That’s irrelevant now. At least for her. Janusz, administer sacraments. Savio, collect the horses and ready your sword.”
Janusz pulled out a book and oil from his purse. He voice was low and said a prayer to God. He took the oil and put on her forehead, in the symbol of the cross. Jacques heard a word here or there, knowing the words already. They asked God to accept her in his Kingdom, for her to be forgiven for her sins in life. With all the death and torture at the hands of Vampires, Jacques was left to wonder if it served a real purpose.
Once Janusz was done, he stepped away. Savio had got the horses together brought them to where they were standing. As requested, his sword was in hand.
Jacques pointed to her head, “Do what must be done.”
Savio hesitated. He didn’t much enjoy this, but knew it was necessary. He after all convinced Jacques to interfere for this reason. He moved himself to be one pace away from her head. He lifted his sword and swung downward. The edge of the sword landed on her neck; slicing through to the earth below. Little blood poured out of her.
Janusz used two fingers to make a cross in the air. “Thy Lord’s work has been done.”
Jacques waited a moment before getting on his horse. The other followed him and got on their horse. David rode first from the body. Once he was far enough along, Jacques followed him.
Enough time had been wasted, but they still need to tread with caution. Jacques hoped that they would be to Darlet by midnight.
I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.