Much was tired, alone and scared. The forest was seemingly never ending, and he had no idea where he was. The heat was also harsh and unforgiving, yet he continued to run for he knew that if he stopped then he too would end up at the mercy of the unholy monsters that had ravaged his homeland.
Much and his family which consisted of he, his 12 year old sister, Aida, his mother, Alvina and his father Bancroft, had been part of a group of outlaws, fleeing from their home village through the wilderness. The trek had been hard, and their food and water supplies were low.
After wandering aimlessly for several months the group were forced to settle in Sherwood forest for a few days in order to recoup. Sadly however this would prove to be a fatal mistake for many members of the village.
Much had just ventured out from the camp to a nearby lake for water when all of a sudden he heard the others screaming. Before he could rejoin the camp however, he was forced to flee as several large soldiers dressed in black armour came charging through the woods from the direction of the camp.
Much was really just a boy. He was only 17 years old, the son of a Miller, and he had lived a fairly sheltered life up until recently. The soldiers were so large and menacing that they seemed like Demons to Much, though they paled in comparison to the actual Demons they served.
As soon as Much saw them he immediately ran in the other direction as fast as he could. Fortunately none of the soldiers managed to spot him through the trees. Most of them were busy dragging the other outlaws, men, women, even children kicking and screaming away into cages, so that they could be brought back to their inhuman masters.
Much quickly rushed to conceal himself under some bushes after he had gotten a fair distance away. He watched, horrified as the soldiers hunted and rounded the outlaws up like animals.
He wanted to look away, but he had to keep his eyes on the soldiers in case they spotted him. It was absolute torture, seeing people he had spent months living with in the harshest conditions, some that he had even known for years before being forced to go on the run, being taken away to be at the mercy of creatures from hell itself.
Fortunately he didn’t have to wait long. After 20 or so minutes the soldiers began to split up and search the forest. Much quickly slipped away. He moved slowly at first, crawling through the undergrowth, keeping out of sight, but eventually his fear got the better of him and he quickly darted through the forest, having no idea where he was really going and even if the soldiers had spotted him, he just ran.
He had no idea what had happened to his family. He hadn’t seen them among the people being dragged away, but that obviously didn’t mean that they were safe..
Tears welled up in his eyes as he thought about his mother, father and his little sister at the mercy of the monsters the soldiers served. Much hated the soldiers, but at the same time deep down he knew that they were in many ways just as much victims as those in hiding.
They too were under threat from the monsters, their families were in danger from them and they were simply doing all they could to protect their loved ones. The soldiers were not the real enemy.
However above all else it was sheer terror that gripped Much. Whilst he couldn’t bare the thought of his family suffering, ultimately his own fear of the monsters overwhelmed him so much that he didn’t even look back for his loved ones as he ran through the woods.
A mere six months ago Much’s life had been stable, normal and happy. He lived in a large village named Alsner with his family. He was popular among the other teenagers of the village and had a large group of friends, many of whom were now dead. He could have never imagined being in this position. He had always thought that he would follow in his fathers footsteps, marry a nice girl from the village, start a family of his own and have a quiet unassuming life.
Yet here he was stuck in the middle of Sherwood forest, not knowing if everyone he had ever cared about was dead or not, waiting to be picked up by soldiers, once sworn to protect their king and country and now serving the greatest evil that had ever infested this land.
It had been the fault of England’s rightful king, Richard. For years he had done nothing to combat the growing supernatural presence in England. The powers that governed the land had assured its people that the paranormal were not a major problem, that they were contained and could never pose a legitimate threat.
Sadly many of its people including at one point even Much’s family bought this lie. They all were not ready to face the full reality of the horror’s that were lurking in the dark, waiting for the chance to strike, so they believed the comforting lie.
Some people had tried to speak out against the danger the paranormal posed, but they were silenced either as lunatics, traitors to the king or even heretics.
Things changed for the worse when Richard abandoned his country to fight in the second crusade and his brother John seized the throne in his absence. John was the most twisted, disgusting and evil of all unnatural creatures. A Vampire!
Some have suspected that Richard had such a lenient view of the paranormal because his brother was one and he hoped that they could live in peace with normal human beings. Whatever the reason he did not dispose of his Vampiric brother and whilst he did not leave England in his care, the Vampire still managed to take control and allowed his kind as well as other Vampire breeds to infest the land like a plague.
Vampires were put in positions of power throughout the country and used that to spread their numbers and take control of villages and towns.
Within a few months most of England was under their control. The Vampires despite their destructive nature did not slaughter all of the humans in England as they were aware that they needed the humans as a food source.
The Demons came up with a system where humans who would pay them would be spared. The only problem with this was that the Vampires taxed the humans so much that many of them weren’t able to afford to effectively buy their own lives.
The Vampires wanted wealth not only simply so that they could live comfortable lives, but also to supply aid to the Vampires in mainland Europe who were waging a war against a rival race of Demons, in many ways as evil and as twisted as the Vampires themselves, the Vandals.
The Vandals were winning the war across Europe and had driven the Vampires all the way to England. In many ways this was the Vampires last stand against their oldest and deadliest enemies.
Many of the kings soldiers refused to serve the phoney, Vampire king of England, but unfortunately the Vampires eventually came to outnumber the soldiers and were able to force many of them through either the fear of their own deaths or the fear of their loved one’s deaths to serve Prince John.
Though the Vampires were strong enough to take the land by force they still preferred to use human servants as well. Part of the reason was because Vampires were such self serving, greedy, cowardly monsters that they couldn’t always trust each other. However the main reason was also sadism on the Vampires part.
They enjoyed forcing good and decent men to hunt starving, vulnerable humans who couldn’t pay for their own lives throughout the land, to round up women and children and even infants and bring them to the Vampires who the soldiers knew would tear them to shreds. Some of the soldiers families would kill themselves in order to free their soldiers from the Demons grip, but sadly by and large the majority of the king’s most noble men were now the servants of a bloodthirsty Demon.
The Vampires rule over England was seemingly absolute.
Much and the other members of his village had fled their homes when they were unable to pay the Vampires taxes. Being one of the larger more wealthier villages, Alsner had helped to pay the taxes of some of the smaller towns. Its people were famous for their generosity throughout the land. Sadly however this coupled with the ridiculous prices the Vampires raised their taxes too meant that even they could no longer afford to buy their own lives any more.
Some of the villagers killed themselves rather than be at the mercy of the Vampires. They simply felt that there was no chance of escape as the Vampires had eyes and ears across the entire country. Things had always been worse in the long run for those who had tried to resist the Vampires law, as they would naturally be made examples of by the blood suckers.
Much’s family like many others still hoped that this madness would end when their true King Richard returned. Sadly Richard did not care for his homeland at all and was instead obsessed with waging his holy war to purify his soul after his earlier sins, ironically completely unaware that the people of his own kingdom had fallen under the rule of the most hellish creatures.
Much found he couldn’t go on any longer. He had never been a great physical specimen. He was short, skinny, and quite weak. He was absolutely exhausted both physically and emotionally and just had to take a quick break.
As he sat down on the forest floor by a large tree, he saw a figure in the distance dart quickly through the trees before vanishing.
It wasn’t a solider as from what he could make out it was not wearing their uniform and it appeared to be quite small and slight. Was it one of the outlaws? A member of his family perhaps? He didn’t want to take a chance. There were many other dangers in the forest besides the Vampires soldiers.
Stray non Vampiric monsters and Demons that had taken advantage of the country being overrun by the occult now stalked the lands picking off any lone and unfortunate humans.
Then there were also rogue people too, criminals, dangerous outlaws who in many ways also benefited from the Vampires rule as once again there were more people on the run and therefore more strays they could pick off.
Sherwood forest was now a very dangerous place. Much knew that just turning a corner could end with him being either jumped and beaten and left for dead by thugs, eaten alive by some unearthly horror or worst of all captured and taken back to the Vampires.
Much slowly began to crawl away out of sight from the figure he saw in the distance. He crawled along the forest floor very slowly hoping that it hadn’t seen him.
Unfortunately for Much as his eyes were fixated so much on the figure in the distance he failed to notice the soldier creeping up on him. The soldier had been following him for a while. He had hoped that Much might lead him to some other outlaws but now he just decided rather than waste more time to simply bring him in.
The soldier was massive, he stood over 6 foot 6 inches tall and had a huge frame as well as a thick massive beard. His nose had been broken several times and his whole face looked rough and grizzled. He had seen many conflicts, but up until now in his own mind at least he had always been on the right side. Now he was no longer a soldier, but just a tool of evil, hurting people who had no way of fighting back. Still he continued to sneak up on Much. His wife and daughter who was only 6 years old were uppermost in his thoughts.
They were prisoners of the Vampires. They lived horrible, miserable lives as the Vampires stuffed them in cages and generally mistreated them. The image of his wife and daughter, covered in dirt, and cuts, locked in a tiny cold cage in the dark with only pieces of stale bread for food had burned itself into his mind.
He wanted nothing more than to slaughter all of the Vampires, to tear their heads off and crush their spindly bodies into nothing but dust, but sadly he knew full well that he couldn’t take on the Vampires alone.
Like many others he hoped that King Richard would return, but he also hoped that one day the Soldiers would stand up to the Vampires. He knew that none of them were truly loyal to these disgusting beasts, but ultimately none of them wanted to be the first to make a move against them out of fear for their loved ones including him. For the time being they would have to serve evil and sacrifice other people’s children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, husbands and wives to save their own.
The soldier leaped at Much and managed to grab him. Much struggled but it was hopeless.
He screamed and begged the soldier to let him go, but the Soldier did not listen to him and continued to drag Much through the woods. In his desperation Much bit into the Soldiers hand as hard as he could. The Soldier at first tried to shrug the pain off. He was after all accustomed to it, but eventually it became too much and he back handed Much, sending him flying through the air and knocking his two front teeth out.
The soldier looked down at Much lying on the floor, blood dripping from his mouth, sobbing. The soldier pitied him. and also realised just how far had he fallen. What had he been reduced to? Beating up young boys and dragging them kicking and screaming to the most depraved, blood thirsty monsters imaginable. He knew that Much just from looking at him would probably suffer more than most at the hands of the Vampires. He was young, scared and vulnerable.The Vampires often enjoyed prolonging their weaker, more sensitive victims pain and agony.
He approached Much who had now backed into a tree like a frightened animal. Much threw himself round the soldier’s feet and begged hysterically. He pleaded that he just wanted to get back to his family, that he was just a boy and couldn’t harm the Vampires. The soldier couldn’t bare it any longer. He grabbed Much by the arm so hard he screamed out in pain.
He said to the boy calmly “I’d give up my own life not to have to do this, but what they threaten means more to me than my life, my honour, even my soul”
Much who could barely speak through his tears said that no one would need to know that he had let him go free and began screaming again.
The soldier put his hand over Much’s mouth and looked around. He had never been in a situation like this before. He to his eternal shame had brought many children to the Vampires, but they had always been not only in large families, but also when he was with other soldiers .
Here he was cornered with someone, just a boy on his own, it was different. Could he just shut himself off again? Did the boy have a point and he could let him go and his Vampiric masters would be none the wiser?
He told Much not to make another sound and lifted his hand slowly from his mouth. The two stared at each other with neither sure what was going to happen next.
The Soldier was the first to speak and simply asked for Much’s named. After Much told him he then asked him what he was doing here alone in the woods.
Much said whilst still snivelling. “I, I came here with my family and others. We couldn’t pay what the Vampires wanted.” He then began to plead with the Soldier again. “Please, let me go. I just want to find my family. I have no idea what happened to them, please let me go”
The soldier then calmly asked about his life in the village. Much was petrified, but he continued to talk.
“Alsner was beautiful. Its p-people were kind, they were harmless. I had a happy, simple life with my family. Then those monsters drove us from our homes, they forced us to live in the woods like animals. Have we not suffered enough? Everything I knew is gone. My home, my friends, maybe even my family, its all gone. “
The Soldier looked around again and turned away from Much. Much wasn’t sure if he should try and run again. He felt sure the soldier would catch him if he did, but he didn’t know what to do.
The soldier turned around and looked at Much cowering again and simply said.
“Go, go now”
Much was shocked. He was overcome with relief, but at the same time he also feared that the soldier might just be toying with him. He asked, with his voice trembling why the soldier had spared him.
The soldier told him that he wanted to know more about him so that he could see him as a human. Before when rounding people up he had just shut his emotions off and viewed them as no more than animals. Now he had deliberately stopped and talked to one of them. This made it harder for him just to shut himself off.
Every part of him for his family’s sake wanted to bring Much in to the Vampires, but now he had shattered the illusion that allowed him to carry out these atrocities.
He told Much to leave before any other soldiers found him, but before he did Much asked the soldier his name.
“Please tell me the name of the man who I owe my life to?”
The soldier responded
“John of Hathersage”
And with that Much ran through the woods as fast as his trembling legs could carry him.
That night John and his men returned to the castle with their cages full of people. Just as he had done every single time except for with Much, John along with the rest of his men shut themselves off to their cries and screams as they took them to the courtyard.
The Vampires were preparing a massive feast in a couple of days time. They had been rounding humans up for weeks and rather than simply kill them, they kept them alive for a mass slaughter.
As the prisoners were taken down to the dungeons below, John spoke with the head Vampire guard.
John wanted to see his family again. The Vampire who had promised him that he could see his family earlier, if he led the hunt for the outlaws from Alsner, laughed at John. He sneered “how ironic you’ve just helped to kill about six families all for a few minutes alone with your own.” John didn’t answer back and sheepishly took the Vampires cruel mocking of him.
The Vampire agreed to allow John to see his family and took him down to the dungeons.
John ironically hated these visits. He only insisted on them just so that he could see that his wife and daughter were in fact still alive. Other than that however he hated going down to see them in their cells, as mere shells of their former selves. They had both once been so happy and full of life and proud of him. Now they always cried. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw either of them smile.
They both looked emaciated, were covered in cuts and bruises and they also both despised him. They knew what he had been doing, bringing people to the Vampires and they hated him for it. Despite this however John’s wife Cleva never asked him to stop working for the Vampires. She much like her husband would have happily given her life to spare others from being captured, but she couldn’t bare the thought of her daughter suffering the same fate as the Vampires other victims.
The Vampires would force the soldiers families to watch as they tortured the people the soldiers had brought them to death. The Vampires would always let the families know that these were the people whose lives their fathers, husbands had essentially traded for theirs.
John knew that after this was all over, if the three of them were lucky to survive that is, then there would no future for them as a family. His wife and daughter could barely even stand to look at him knowing what he had done and he also hated himself too. In fact once this was over and he knew his family were safe, John had every intention of killing himself.
The visit was typical for him. He hugged his wife and daughter but they did not respond and looked away from him. There was an awkward silence for most of the visit until Cleva broke it and asked coldly to John.
“So how many people did you help to murder today? How many children did you round up and feed to those animals?”
John said nothing. There was nothing he could say, he had once been a soldier now he was a killer of women and children.
Cleva continued to speak “Do you have any idea what the Vampires do to their victims? Do you think its just a quick bite on the neck? They make their victims suffer the most unspeakable agonies. They also make us watch every time. We know those people are only dying because of us.”
John was overwhelmed. As much as he tried to shut off his emotions to the horrors around him there were times when the reality of it penetrated through the emotional wall he had built in order to keep sane, and this was one of those instances.
John simply told Cleva that everything he had done had been for her and then left the cell.
As John prepared to leave the castle the head Vampire guard approached him. It had a smile on its face, barely able to contain its excitement. That alone was a bad sign. Vampires were walking corpses, reanimated by evil, and were therefore virtually dead to all emotion. They could never feel anything unless they were causing pain and misery.
The fact that this Vampire was happy therefore meant that something terrible had either already happened or was about to happen.
The Vampire almost barely able to contain his laughter told John that he was to see, the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Those words terrified him. The Sheriff was arguably second only to Prince John himself in terms of rank. Yet in terms of reputation in some ways he was far more feared. John knew that if the Sheriff wanted to see him it was bad, but again he had no choice. To displease the Sheriff in any way would be a very unwise thing to do and so John headed to see the Sheriff with the Vampire guards laughing ringing in his ears.
The Sheriff’s office was located at the top of the highest tower. Everyone feared being sent up to see him, even fellow Vampires. The Sheriff was a cruel and sadistic man even before he became a Vampire. His real name was George Vasey. He had come from a small poverty stricken village where he lived with his wife and two daughters.
George had always had big ambitions, but ultimately his life had been one miserable failure after another and he often took out his frustrations on his unfortunate wife and children.
He would have stayed a miserable, pathetic little nobody had it not been for a pack of Vampires that set their sights on his village. This was just before Prince John seized the throne, when the Vampires were becoming more bold, but hadn’t quite taken the land for their own yet.
The Vampires slaughtered their way through George’s village, but George rather than be scared and flee, was merely fascinated by the Vampires. The way they lived by no rules but their own, the power they had to tear men’s bodies apart with their bare hands like paper, the terror they were able to cause in even the strongest and bravest men in the village with just a mere mention of their name. It was all he had ever wanted.
George stood in the middle of the street as the Vampires approached and begged them to make him one of them. The Vampires didn’t just turn anyone. They only took on the most twisted and evil people who would naturally be the most effective Vampires. In order to be turned you really had to prove yourself. George did that by telling the Vampires were his family were hiding. He even watched as the Vampires tore his wife and two daughters apart.
He had nothing but contempt for his wife and children. He had never intended to marry his wife. He had been forced to after he got her pregnant with their two twin daughters. He had always felt that had it not been for his family that he had to support, he could have made something of himself.
The Vampires impressed with his ruthlessness turned him. After he became one of them George would take control of this pack of Vampires, killing their former leader. Under his command the Vampires became even more notorious. They burned down entire villages, killed women and children, they left nothing alive in their wake.
It was for this reason that Prince John would hire him to be the Sheriff of Nottingham. He felt that his reputation alone would be enough to keep people in line.
Within a very short space of time all of Nottingham became a haven for Vampires. It wasn’t even like the other areas of the country the Vampires claimed, where the people could still live, provided they paid the Vampires taxes. In Nottingham all of the people were kept in cages, reduced to nothing more than cattle for the Vampires.
Nottingham was now the most feared place in all of England thanks to his influence.
The Sheriff’s power extended far beyond Nottingham. He was far more crafty than Prince John, though at the same time John was no fool and the Sheriff knew he couldn’t twist his mind for absolutely anything he wanted. Still ultimately the Sheriff was the one who was actually responsible for most of the new laws of the land and again there was a reason that many people feared him more than the Prince he “served”, despite the fact that he was nowhere near as powerful.
John entered the Sheriff’s office and saw him sitting behind a desk. The Sheriff was dressed completely in black and wore a long flowing cape. His hair was short and just as black as his clothes, though his skin was as white as snow. His eyes were bright red with a long black iris, and his features were slightly pointed. He was incredibly thin as all Vampires of his breed of were. The Sheriff’s breed were almost extinct, with the Vampires who turned him at that point believed to be the last of their kind in the entire world.
Since the Sheriff’s rise to power they had become more common, but still the Sheriff was essentially among the last of a dying breed.
The Sheriff smiled at John, revealing his hideous blood stained fangs. The stench of the Vampire was overwhelming. Many Vampire breeds had a hideous smell. In some cases it could be a disadvantage as it would prevent them from sneaking up on their enemies who could smell them from several feet away.
The Sheriff got up and shook John’s hand mockingly. The Vampires skin was ice cold to the touch so much so it actually sent a shiver throughout John’s entire body. John was hardly a sensitive man either. Its skin was also slimy too. In fact when John took his hand away he saw that it was covered in a hideous, thick, white slime, like a thick mucas. A Vampire’s skin was like a slug’s, cold, clamy and slimy to the touch. There was even an old saying that went “a Vampire is as slimy as a slug but three times as disgusting!”
Everything about the Sheriff repulsed John. The last thing he or indeed anyone wanted was to be in a room with the foul smelling Demon.
The Sheriff spoke “My dear John. How nice to see you again. Congratulations on the successful capture of the outlaws from Alsner. The kings feast will be a truly spectacular event, blood will run down the Castle walls and through the courtyard ” he laughed.
John was uneasy. Why had the Vampire called him here? It wasn’t to congratulate him sincerely obviously. Was it to make him suffer by reminding him of the people he had helped to slaughter? Possible? The Vampires had always enjoyed making the soldiers suffer by reminding them of all the people they had helped to kill, but it didn’t seem likely that the Sheriff would bother dragging him up here for this.
John knew that the Sheriff must somehow have known that he had spared the boy. How did he know however? No one was around, no one had seen it as far as he was aware? Perhaps the Vampire somehow could tell he was hiding something from him, or maybe it could even read his mind? He had no idea of the full extent of the inhuman powers of the Vampire.
Perhaps if he kept his cool then he could maybe trick the Demon. Doubtful, but he had to try something.
The Sheriff sat back down with a cruel smile on his face baring his long fangs. “Any problems on the hunt John?”
John simply responded with a flat no. He wanted to keep his answers as simple as possible to prevent the Vampire from sensing that he was wrong or even just being caught out in a lie. The Sheriff sat back in his chair and said in a dry, almost mocking tone. “I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to make things easier for you John. You know how those outlaws can be. So scared of ending up in our dungeons they’ll do almost anything.”
John was very uneasy and wanted to leave. He could hear people coming up the steps behind him. He wanted to ask who they were, but was too scared at speaking out of turn. How ironic John a once great warrior and hero who had made something of his life was now too scared to even open his mouth in front of the Sheriff, a pathetic failure of a man who had done nothing with his existence, human or Demon but make people miserable.
Just then the doors swung open and the three Vampire guards came in with John’s wife and daughter and another young teenage girl, no older than thirteen.
John’s blood turned cold, but before he could react, The Sheriff spoke again, whilst barely being able to contain his laughter “Oh John if only you had been honest I might have gone a tiny bit easier on you. I thought you loved your wife and daughter? It seems you gave up their lives for a little boys you’re never going to see again?”
John knew it was pointless trying to lie to the Vampire any longer and that there was obviously no way of appealing to it on an emotional level. Instead he tried to convince the Vampire that he could still be of use to it. After all he was a strong warrior who had successfully brought many people to the Vampires in the last few months. He knew the woods, and he was completely under their control apart from this one blip.
The Sheriff however said to him “I know how useful you can be John, which is why I want to see how far you are willing to go to save your loved ones“.
He handed John a knife and looked at the young girl the Vampires had brought up. “Kill her” the Sheriff said. “Slice open her throat and I’ll give you another chance“. It was at this point that John’s daughter began to speak up. She screamed at her father not to, saying she would never forgive him if he took her life. John wanted to plunge the dagger into his own heart and be free of this nightmare.
The Vampires covered his daughter and wife’s mouth whilst the Sheriff continued to speak. “Come on man, think about it. The girl is dead either way. Isn’t it more humane to kill her quickly? Think of all the nasty things we will do to her instead? This is your last chance to save your family John. Take it. Besides its no different to what you have done before. Here your family can see what kind of a man you have become.”
John walked towards the girl who was already covered in bruises and cuts. Her nose was clearly broken, she had a massive black eye. Yet despite this she begged John saying that she did not want to die. She sobbed and screamed but the Vampires put their hand over her mouth. John place the dagger at her throat. He saw a look of fear in her face unlike any other he had ever seen before, even on the battle field.
He looked back at his wife and kids both unable to speak, but both had tears streaming down their faces. He wanted to die. He even begged the Sheriff to kill him instead but the Sheriff responded cruelly with “You should know its never that easy with me“.
John closed his eyes and screamed as he cut the young girls throat. He had worked himself up in a moment to do the one thing he would regret more than any other for the rest of his life. Unlike with Much, here John had to act as he knew his family would be killed instantly.
He saw the girl lie on the floor bleeding, choking on her own blood in front of him and was sick. He couldn’t believe what he had done, he dropped the knife, sank to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably.
He looked up at the Sheriff who approached him and again asked the Sheriff to end his life. The Sheriff still smiling said “Why would I do that? Then you wouldn’t get to watch your family die”
John’s despair was replaced by sheer rage.
“But you said you would give me another chance”
“I lied just to see how far you’d go. You betrayed us. That cannot be allowed. Still congratulations you proved that there is nothing you wouldn’t do to save your loved ones. A pity it was all for nothing. All that killing, betraying everything you ever believed in. And your family are still going to die screaming for mercy”
John was so overcome with anger that he lunged at the Vampire. He knew in his mind that it was pointless, but he couldn’t help himself. The Sheriff simply grabbed his arm and squeezed it so hard he brought John to his knees. John had never felt a force like it. The pain went right through his body and before he could react, the Sheriff struck him, as John lay there on the floor bleeding, the Sheriff whispered in his ear that he loved it when his victims were young as it was always more “fun” knowing that he was ending a life before it could even begin. He then struck John again knocking him out cold, before having he and his entire family dragged off to the dungeons.