Chapter 4:

Vampire I

The Aliens They Summoned

This night didn't start perfectly for Count Nosgard. This night didn't even start during the night, as one of his servants prematurely woke him from his slumber. It seemed to be an important matter, but the Count couldn't hold himself back from ripping an arm out from his servant.Bookmark here

It would recover.Bookmark here

Tired and irritated, he went to a desk in the corner of his dungeon room and waited for his one-handed servant to light the candle.Bookmark here

This took longer than expected, so Count Nosgard ripped the second arm out, too, when he was finished.Bookmark here

It would recover.Bookmark here

The sound of his muscle fibers snapping, the sound of his bones breaking, the unpleasant wails he emitted after the deed was done...Bookmark here

They served their purpose. Count Nosgard was calm as the night sky as he swiftly opened the letter with one of his long fingernails, grinning mischievously as he kept shooting glances at his servant.Bookmark here

"Go suck some human's blood," he told him, and the servant scurried away. "Stop rejecting your nature, stupid boy..."Bookmark here

The letter was sent to him by Lord Viktor.Bookmark here

He knew of Lord Viktor, of course, his being the closest castle to the Nation of Paegan. The king long since planned on taking them over, but not before he controlled the whole lands of his own Nation.Bookmark here

The last conquest still lingered.Bookmark here

Too many humans did what they wanted, not subjected to the king and his companions. They were persistent little pests if nothing else.Bookmark here

It was a short letter.Bookmark here

Count Nosgard snorted as he saw the sloppy job the writer had done. This was not Lord Viktor, and it wasn't one of his knights, either.Bookmark here

Ignoring all the errors and hard-to-read letters, it went as follows:Bookmark here

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Dear Count Nosgard,Bookmark here

I'm sending you and every other lord the same letter, in a radius of a hundred miles from my castle. A most dire situation arose, and we couldn't ignore it.Bookmark here

We were attacked in the dead of night.Bookmark here

I don't know how it could have happened, and the beast has yet to be identified. All we know is that it appears to be a bear on two legs, stronger and larger than any animal we know of.Bookmark here

Our guards, knights, and mages have been overwhelmed by a single individual, and who knows where it's headed now...Bookmark here

Or how many there are.Bookmark here

It has fur as hard as steel and claws the size of short swords.Bookmark here

Its teeth are like daggers and spearheads, penetrating even the hardest armor with ease. Our gates were useless in its onslaught, and it seems to feast on humans for fun.Bookmark here

Every assaulted person in the castle has disgusting bite-marks, many were bitten more than once.Bookmark here

If you don't have a fortified base, flee.Bookmark here

If your gates appear weaker than stone, fortify them.Bookmark here

If you suddenly lose contact with a town, city, or castle around yours, be prepared to face the beast soon.Bookmark here

May your people be spared,Bookmark here

Lord ViktorBookmark here

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Count Nosgard read through the letter again.Bookmark here

He got a letter or two from Lord Viktor before, and he was ever concerned about the people.Bookmark here

A new disease has spread, take care!Bookmark here

Strange animals have appeared, save your crops!Bookmark here

Stuff like that.Bookmark here

This time was different, though. Lord Viktor warned him once again, but this time, Count Nosgard intended to listen.Bookmark here

Crops and diseases didn't concern him.Bookmark here

He didn't work like those weak humans. A disease or two wouldn't even phase him. The prospect of not eating bread every morning didn't concern him.Bookmark here

But this... creature.Bookmark here

It sounded dangerous.Bookmark here

Count Nosgard wasn't even sure if his king could defeat a human castle single-handedly. Maybe if he sneaked inside and they weren't expecting anything...?Bookmark here

But this beast didn't do that.Bookmark here

At least the letter suggested that it attacked them in a blind rage.Bookmark here

For centuries, his king had been the very strongest creature on the earth without the shadow of a doubt...Bookmark here

He waited for his servant to return.Bookmark here

The lad looked sheepish as he licked the bloody remains from his sharp teeth. His arms grew out with steam rising from the stumps, the upper arms already completed.Bookmark here

It wouldn't take long, now.Bookmark here

"Count Nosgard," he said, bowing low.Bookmark here

He looked funny with his stumps for arms, but Count Nosgard didn't even have it in him to laugh or mock the lad.Bookmark here

"A strange beast has appeared in Kingdom Gaundry," he said, eyeing the letter. "The seal of Lord Viktor is genuine, even if the handwriting is a bit sloppy." Count Nosgard scowled. "We must fortify the castle. Look for any place that could be breached with human weaponry, and think twice before passing it off as tolerable. This thing crashed through solid stone."Bookmark here

The servant had a shocked expression on his face as he bowed low.Bookmark here

"Count Nosgard!"Bookmark here

He walked backward until he reached the door, which he opened and disappeared through with his head still low.Bookmark here

He didn't want his arms ripped out again, it seemed.Bookmark here

A smart move.Bookmark here

"Attention," he said, and a few dozen suits of armor saluted to his call. "We will need more personnel like you, it seems. Find me more weapons, suits, and other objects. Anything is fine, really, as long as it can hurt. Bring them to the great hall, and I will animate them there. You have until noon to finish your job. Understood?"Bookmark here

The suits saluted again, marching out with big steps and the serious demeanor he had reanimated them with.Bookmark here

They were his never-tiring, always-attentive guard while he was most vulnerable. It had taken quite a few tried to make them stop attacking his own servants when they wanted to wake him up like today.Bookmark here

Even those scrapped experiments would return to his service now, it seemed.Bookmark here

What did Lord Viktor say about these letters?Bookmark here

He will send them out to a hundred miles around his castle? Does that mean he didn't write the king?Bookmark here

Count Nosgard stood up and walked to the middle of his dungeon room. He didn't want to work all day, but that much seemed inevitable.Bookmark here

He could start by writing an answer.Bookmark here

Perhaps he should prioritize telling his own king first, though...Bookmark here

Well, he'd write both, anyway.Bookmark here

At least he would have a few moments more in his dark chamber like that. What to do with the pigeon, though?Bookmark here

He never liked them for their acidic shit and loud noises.Bookmark here

His king seemed to think similarly, as their chosen animal for deliveries were bats. Silent, smart creatures they could control with so much as a hiss.Bookmark here

He nodded.Bookmark here

He'd write a letter, look for some more objects to animate with blood magic, and set out to make his castle safe.Bookmark here

The only positive to the situation was that this beast seemingly operated at night.Bookmark here

At least he would be awake to see its attack...Bookmark here

Count Nosgard went back to his desk and sat down. He had to write back...Bookmark here

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Dear Lord Viktor...Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.