26 Apr The Eighth Crusade
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"The Eighth Crusade"Written by
Estimated reading time — 11 minutes
On the outskirts of the large city known as Canto; a small cathedral stands unscathed by the horror happening not twenty miles away. There were some smaller towns outside of the city, but most of their residents fled as soon as the vague news reports of “cannibalistic” citizens came flooding in. In the end, those who were smart enough to run at the first sign of trouble were the only ones who made it, the hesitant died along with the rest of the city.
However, this small cathedral was different. It was located in the middle of nowhere and had been long abandoned and forgotten by everyone, aside from the city itself the closest town to it was almost an hour way and a small dirt road was the only thing that even hinted that there was another world past the miles and miles of flat plains. The glow and black smoke from Canto can be seen in the distance.
Short flashes of lightning filled the air, just long enough to illuminate a figure on top of the cathedral, his legs swung over the edge of the roof and head leaning against the lighting rod. The faint glow of a cigar intensified as he put it to his mouth. With a small grin played on his lips, he gazed dreamily at the city.
“What a sight. Obliteration has never looked so divine.” He whispered to himself. Images of a crumbling Jerusalem played through his head, “Well, I guess you can’t get much more divine than that.”
Feeling a little foolish for talking to himself again he took one last drag of his cigar and flicked it behind him. The man noticed that there was a thin layer of ash that had settled on to his body. Slightly irritated by this, the man glanced at his watch while getting to his feet, ruffling his short black hair in an attempt to get as much ash off his head as possible. His long black coat blew in the wind as he brushed it off.
The temperature was dropping fast, it wouldn’t be long until the rain began to pour. The man wondered if it would be enough to quench the flames of the city. The Vatican ordered complete destruction; they wanted nothing standing of what they thought to be a “heathen city”. The man wouldn’t feel accomplished if the flames were so easily disposed of. Glancing at his watch again figuring he had roughly another half hour before the he was picked up and debriefed. He leaned back against the lightning rod, and lit another cigar, daydreaming of the day before.
One bite, one citizen, and his work was done. His mission was to just get the ball rolling, nothing more. Being as potent as he was, his victims often became immensely strong. They were puppets, sure; but also unstable. The more of them that were roaming the streets the more dangerous the mop up was for the church. The man was frustrated that he only got one snack, he was tired of the left over’s from corpses and the donations from Italian blood banks. He was craving prey with more… life to it, one he could enjoy stalking before the kill.
The Vatican dispatched him and a helicopter to the abandoned cathedral. Along with being the drop point, the house of God was also were he was supposed to rendezvous with the evac crew. His orders were to simply enter the city, light the spark, and watch “God cleanse the Earth” from the cathedral.
“You zealots are no fun!” he would tell them “I’m doing “God’s work” for you lazy ass holes, the least you could do is let me off the leash!”
The hungry man could not help but feel disappointed when they were offended. They preached how the last crusade was such a failure due to the fact he had so much “freedom”, the mobs of the powerful undead nearly completely consumed the Holy army.
It pissed him off that they never got over that.
He resolved that it was never really his fault, humans were frail, weak creatures. They are easy to corrupt in every way. None of them could handle the thirst, and they tore everything apart. Turning their victims into, hordes of mindless blood thirsty predators with only the hunger of living blood to keep them ticking.
The Pope himself preformed the unnecessary but “ritualistic” blessing before he set off.
“Vai quarto Locke e fornire i nostri nemici a Dio.”
“Deliver them I shall.” He sarcastically whispered to himself with a smirk.
The helicopter was taking off; it was time to go to work.
Locke could not stop thinking about his one victim, regardless of whom it was he planned to savor every last second of his feast.
The man found himself seeking a challenge. In the back of his mind he knew he wouldn’t get one, but the fantasy of a dangerous prey kept his thoughts occupied as he made his way towards the glistening city.
With the pace he was traveling at it wouldn’t be long before reached the edge of Canto, his long strides covered more distance, faster than a high-end sports car going ninety on an open freeway. The cool night air was refreshing to him, it’s not often he is allowed to roam out in the open like this. He slowed down a bit to prolong this finite feeling of freedom.
Being cooped up under Vatican City for so long had begun to take its toll on Locke’s sanity. Other than living off nothing but the scraps of Roma, he had no real connection to the outside world. It’s not like he longed to live amongst the humans, no, the thought of that made him sick. The only reason he could stand the “Men of God” back at the Vatican was because they were as far away from human as possible. He’s seen them put on human masks, sure, seen them absolve the masses with a crooked smile, seen them preach peace and the word of God to a thousand ignorant faces. No, no, behind their masks, they are every bit a monster as Locke.
The city was drawing closer, massive sky scrapers were lit up in a brilliant fashion. A sense of intrigue radiated from surrounding, smaller clusters of lights. What were the sheep doing at this hour? Were they working overtime, tucking the little lambs in, late night binge drinking at the local bar? They were all so very ignorant of the malevolent fury of God that was about to rain down upon them. Sure, it looked pretty from a distance, but Canto was the antithesis when viewed up close. The Vatican made it clear to Locke that this was not a city that deserves pity, even though he never considered giving it anyways.
Canto was dying, almost all who’ve entered abandoned all hope for it when they saw what a hell hole it has become. Corruption plagued the city’s central government, all of the representatives’ power focused on how to make the wealthy more capable of shitting on the poor. As a result, crime was abundant. Drug trafficking, prostitution, child labor plagued the down town streets. Whole families were often caught in cases of “indentured servitude” as the wealthy put it, where even the children would have to be at the beckon call of the privileged, doing strenuous and dangerous work that led to more than a few deceased children. Anyone who cried foul ended up dead too, it was just the way it went.
And it was reason enough to cleanse it.
Locke reached the edge of Canto, he could now hear the grumbling sounds of the suffering city, a siren blared unceasingly somewhere among the throngs of buildings. Looking at his watch the man whispered to himself.
“Time to light the match.”
Upon entering the city, Locke found to his disappointment, that there was no shortage of easy prey. The homeless aimlessly wandered the streets, practically half dead already, prostitutes looking vulnerable as ever. He was slightly surprised, however, to find a couple of security guards having a smoke outside of a large ominously lit building. A young woman dressed in rags, stumbled past them, she was appeared very exhausted and in need of medical care. The guards just looked upon her and laughed, berating the woman with unrepeatable questions. When she didn’t respond to their cat calls one of the men grew frustrated and ran after her. She let out a quick yelp of pain as he put his cigarette out on the back of her neck.
In a very swift motion the girl whirled around, grabbing the guard’s wrist and pulling him close. The man’s face was within an inch of hers, his expression showed that of pure pain. She had broken his wrist. In a split second she revealed a small revolver, put it to the man’s chin, and pulled the trigger.
There was a bright flash, then a spray of crimson red. The man’s body crumpled to the newly painted sidewalk, with a softball sized hole where his skull used to be. The woman was already on the other guard before he was done unhooking the strap to his sidearm. Landing knees first on the guard’s chest she pinned him to the ground. Grabbing a firm hold of her prey’s head, with both hands she lifted up his skull and brought it back down to the concrete. Over and over again she did this, until the guard was pulverized into the sidewalk.
It was all over that quickly. She stood up without a sound, her face expressionless except for a small smirk that crept on the edge of her lips, she bent over to pick up her revolver that lie next to body of the first guard. She shot Locke a quick glance and disappeared around the corner.
While the look she gave him was quick, it was more than enough to excite him. She had piercing brown eyes that screamed strength, and short, dirty, black hair that was almost just long enough to veil her left eye. Locke knew her just by that single, short glance. He knew her struggles, knew her strength, and knew her will to survive.
He knew he had found his prey.
The building the two guards were once protecting let out the piercing wale of an emergency siren, snapping Locke out of his mystified state. It was then he noticed the streets were completely empty, not a piece of human filth to be seen. Whoever the guards were protecting called for backup and he had mere minutes to escape. A thought crossed his mind, and made him almost consider revealing himself to the approaching authorities before pounding them into dust. Not wanting to risk compromising the mission, Locke reluctantly retreated into a dark alley way. He scaled his way to the roof tops from there and began the hunt for his new found prey.
The mystery woman’s scent was still live and growing stronger as he strides across the apartment building rooftops. Locke’s mind wandered back to the two guards, how efficiently and violently she dispatched them. Two full grown, armed men could not handle the slender girl half their size. Where can a human learn to kill like that? Without mercy or emotion, just pure unadulterated instinct. After searching for a short time he came across her entering a dimly lit liquor store, only to return moments later with a bag clenched in her fist.
The hunger was starting to get to him, it was a ravenous gnawing that made his whole body tremble with anticipation. He knelt down on one knee and gazed down at her from the roof tops. Across the street from where Locke sat perched he saw her lean against a brick wall, and begin chugging whatever was in the paper bag. Locke felt his heart sink, he had to stop her quickly or that alcohol will kill all the fun. What was the fun in feeding from intoxicated prey? He let out a small sigh and leapt off the building, and descended to the street below.
The woman let out a small yelp as Locke landed safely in front of her. A small cloud of dust and filth from the city escaped from under his feet, leaving a small clear circle around where he landed.
For a moment she just stared at him as he rose to his feet. Only a dim street light illuminated the empty street, the only thing she could make of the man was a pair of piercing red eyes that glowed like the moon.
“There is something magnificent about the moment you make yourself known to your prey,” spoke the man. His voice had a crisp, raspy tone to it, full of anticipation and a hint of sensuality.
The woman’s eyes widened at this, not out of fear however; it was more like she just received a jolt of electricity, the grip on her bottle tightened. She put on a smirk and spoke with an authoritative tone.
“Listen, I’ve had a long night. I already have had to deal with two creeps who decided to pick me as their ‘prey’,” she lifted her hands almost defensively, to reveal that they were caked with dried blood.
“I caved both their heads in before they learned their place.
She paused for a moment, and gave a gesture that imitated deep thought.
“Hmmm, maybe I should take my time with you so I can really make a statement around here.”
The man cocked his head a bit to the side at this threat, amused and intrigued by her intensity. He opened his arms wide as if to bow and took a step forward. The woman reacted quickly and swung the bag at Locke’s head. The sharp crash of the class mixed with the sound of cracking bone traveled all the way down the street.
The woman expected the perfect stranger to be on the ground bleeding, begging for his life like she has seen so many other “men” have done.
However, the man was still standing. Aside from a small shard of glass that was lodged in the left side of his face, he was completely unfazed by the vicious attack. Locke licked his lips as the remaining alcohol from the bottle trickled down his face.
“Hmm, I’m not much of a whisky man. I prefer a more… ,”
He paused for a moment as he watched the panic in his prey begin to rise
“… exotic spirit.”
He began to chuckle to himself, in all reality the whole situation was darkly humorous to him. This is the most pain he’s been in in years, and that is saying something. His chuckle escalated to a howling laughter.
The woman wore a look that held a combination of shock and excitement. Even though she was beginning to panic, a smile spread across her face. Not once in her entire life in Canto had she met a man who could last more than two minutes in fight with her, much less one who could so easily brush off a whisky bottle to the head.
She watched as the man’s laughter grew, his bloodshot eyes screamed madness.
“It’s time to put you down you crazy son-of-a-bitch,” she said with a smile.
She slowly removed the revolver she used to kill the security guard, the aged blood glistened in what little light was available. The sight of the gun just seemed to incite a stronger laughing fit out of Locke. The woman extended her arm and placed the barrel of the gun into the man’s open mouth, and pulled the trigger.
Again, there was a quick flash. His head snapped back with full force, but he remained on his feet, never ceasing his laughter that grew into the howling of a demon. He lowered his head, fixing his blood red eyes on the woman, blood flowing from the corners of his grin.
He was able to stop his laughter long enough to respond to the horrified look on his prey’s face.
“What’s the matter baby doll? You seemed surprised,”
His blood from the gunshot was drowning him, so every time he spoke small amounts of blood would sputter from his lips. Locke could still not help but laugh.
“Honey, you are gonna be perfect.”
Locke took one last look at his victim, then slowly opened his jaw to an inhuman size, revealing impossibly long razor sharp teeth. The hole left by the bullet can be clearly seen as he made the final move on his prey.
The man wiped his mouth and looked down at his meal. The woman’s eyes were glossed with fear, but there was an eerie smile that still crept on her lips as she stared blankly into the night sky.
Locke allowed the woman’s essence to dissolve and flow throughout his body. Fresh blood from a living victim holds a piece of that person’s life and personality. Anyone who takes that essence inherits a part of that person’s being. All their thoughts, feelings, information becomes a part of the predator’s body and soul.
Locke closed his eyes as he savored the taste tilting his head back to the sky he opened his eyes and whispered a single word
As if on cue the woman’s body began to violently shake. She was beginning to reanimate.
Locke felt a slight pang of worry in the back of his mind. A human of her caliber would be a serious threat as a vampire, everything about her will be augmented and enhanced.
Turning that worry into excitement he smiled then looked back at the shaking body.
“Give those zealots hell for me, Veronica.”
Turning around he began to make his way to the edge of the city, the sun was going to be rising soon it was in his best interest to get back to the Cathedral as fast as he can.
He had lit the match
“Canto will be devoured by flames by tomorrow night.” Locke finally said with a smile.
The enveloping darkness cascaded across the night sky. Leaving the silhouettes of clouds drift overhead, like veils of moving sentinels, suffocating the very light out of the stars. The scent of moisture and smoke hung thick in the damp air. The sound of distant thunder boomed across the sky, echoing into the midnight horizon. A luminous light from below slightly illuminated the empty scene, trails of thick black smoke were set aglow by miles of inferno. It was as if the gates of Hell had crumbled under the earth, releasing and delivering throngs of angel’s utmost nightmares unto God’s domain. The pounding hearts of a million terrified saints could be heard as the sky boomed again.
Below the heavens, true evil incarnate devoured the world. Sky scrapers wore flames from head to toe, fire danced on the water under decimated bridges, streets were in utter chaos. Destroyed vehicles littered the crowed avenues, exposed hands and limbs peek out from under of overturned cars, burning corpses are contorted in horrible positions behind the wheel of their tombs. Police stations show no sign of life, a constant siren blares somewhere in the city, with nothing living left to answer. The city, its souls, everything was devoured by this Holy mess of a city.
Well, almost everything.
Credit To – (JY)Brodiche
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