“Please, please Cheun if you can hear me” the Empress said in desperation as her husband stood, seemingly motionless by the door. Was there still something of him in there after all she thought? Why hadn’t it attacked yet?
Whilst the Empress tried to keep her husband distracted, one of the guards jumped the former Emperor from behind, but the Jiang Shi simply spun round, grabbed the guard and sunk its fangs deep into his neck. The Empress in response grabbed a chair and smashed it over her former husbands back, but he didn’t even flinch. The Empress then reached for the guards sword that he had dropped and thrust it into her husbands back, but the sword broke in half. The Empress finally reached for a large pot, but the Emperor dropped the guard’s lifeless corpse to the ground before turning round to face his former wife.
Up close the Empress could see for sure now that this monster was not her husband. His mouth, which was dripping with the blood and flesh of his own loyal men, started to distort into a hideous fanged grin. There did perhaps appear to be more under the surface to this beast, but it wasn’t in any way shape or form the man she had once loved.
The Emperor with one hit sent his wife flying across the room, before turning his attention to his son, who was so overcome with terror he didn’t even attempt to flee.
The Empress however jumped back up and delivered an air kick to the Vampire Emperor’s back, causing the Vampire to spin round and face her. The Empress tried to punch her husband, but the Vampire grabbed her arm and broke it bringing the Empress to her knees.
The Empress desperately grabbed a nearby candle stick and started to hit her husband repeatedly which did nothing to deter the Vampire. Almost blacking out from the pain, the Empress with her last ounce of strength rammed the Vampire into a wall, allowing her to wiggle free. T
When the Vampiric Emperor tried to move in for a bite, the Empress rammed the candle stick down her former husbands throat and pushed him back. The Empress picked up her son with her remaining arm, with the little prince having been too terrified to even move during the Empress fight with her former husband. Not that there was anything he could have done anyway. “This can’t be happening.” He said to himself over and over again. “My father could never be taken over by any curse.” Whilst the Emperor bit through the candle stick and tore it apart with his claws, the Empress jumped over the bed with her son and out of the room.
Outside however the Empress could see to her horror, her entire special guard lay slain. Some of them had bite marks on their throats, others faces were mangled beyond recognition, some had even had their heads torn off!
“What have I done”. The Empress said to herself. “If only I had listened. Those poor men. All of them deserved so much better.” Suddenly one of the slain guards rose, followed by another and another. They all had the same expression of rage and hunger that the Emperor had, and all bore the same yellow fangs and red eyes that he did.
The Empress ran past the monsters and down the hall screaming for help as the horde of bloodthirsty Jiang Shi, including her husband hopped after her, but there was no one around to help. She could hear her servants and guards screaming from the lower levels.
The Empress reached the end of the main hall and prepared to descend down the stairs, but she could see a whole horde of Jiang Shi coming from the bottom of the stair case. Caught between two hordes of monsters, the Empress simply sat hugging her boy.
“Its okay, it’ll be okay.” She said to her boy knowing that it wouldn’t be. As she prepared for her last breath, the Empress noticed that the guards and her husband were fighting among themselves. They were all nothing but animals now, clawing and biting at each other for the last bit of food.
The Emperor still appeared to be the strongest of the Jiang Shi. He tossed the other guards aside effortlessly, but it didn’t take long for the other Jiang Shi to dogpile on the Emperor and start clawing at him. The Empress seized her chance and ran past the ravenous Vampires, and down the other side of the hall.
There was somewhere she could run on the top level. A safe passage for her and the Emperor during emergencies which led to a backdoor exit from the castle. She just hoped that monster that bore a twisted caricature of her husbands face didn’t somehow remember the safe passage either.
The safe room was hidden through a secret passage in a wall, just beside the Empress and the Emperors room. She hadn’t ran to it before as the Vampire guards had blocked the way when they rose, but now that they were distracted, the Empress who kept a key for the room at all times was able to enter it with her son before the Vampires noticed. The room was relatively small, narrow and dark, but still they were both able to fit reasonably well. The Empress told her boy to wait whilst she checked the exit which lay below at the bottom of a spiral staircase.
At the bottom of the stair case the Empress opened the door which led to a small garden path outside the castle. In the garden however lay two guards corpses, whilst another of the former Empress’ guards wandered dazed and aimless, clutching at his neck which dripped with blood. The Empress could see one of the Jiang Shi, a young female hopping towards the guard from behind. The guard was in too much pain to notice the monster creeping up on him. The Empress was torn. She couldn’t leave one of the guards who had sworn to protect her above all else just be ripped to pieces, but at the same time there was nothing she could do to help him. She was struggling just to stay awake herself. Furthermore if she tried to fight the Jiang Shi she would be exposing her son upstairs, to this and possibly other monsters that were around.
With regret the Empress shut the door quietly and headed back upstairs, though she could hear the guard screams of agony, as well as the Jiang Shi’s ravenous roars.
The Empress barely made it up the stair case she was so weak. The adrenaline that had helped her fight through the pain in her arm was beginning to wear off. Back at the top she almost fainted and her boy quickly ran to help her up. The Empress son sobbed uncontrollably as his mother almost collapsed, but she regained her composure.
“Please, please son you have to stop crying. You can’t make a sound. If those Demons hear us.” The Empress said faintly as she struggled to stay awake.
Every second was torment as the Empress and her son heard the Jiang Shi’s roars and hisses from outside, terrified that at any second the monsters could tear the wall down and find them. The screams and cries of her guards, maidens and servants rang through the entire castle.
“Who will come to save us?” She thought. Those monsters tore their way through the elite guard effortlessly. How would the villagers be able to cope? What would become of the kingdom?
“What have I done.” She said to herself over and over again.
The Professor, Lindsey, Kirsteen, and Lee had reached the palace doors. The Guard who had come from the palace had decided to stay behind in the village in case any of the creatures had come down to the village. There was no one in sight, and an eerie silence to the place.
“I fear we are already too late.” Lee said, before the giant doors burst open. Two guards came running out, both covered in blood, and bites and scratches.
“Run those monsters, they” The two men shouted before the Professor and Lee stopped them in their tracks, though the Professor was more gentle in stopping his guard.
“Relax we’re not going to hurt you” The Professor said as he held his in guard in place, whilst Lee held his down using magic.
“Please lets us go it’s the Emperor, he’s, he’s become a monster.”
“He started to attack the guards, some of them, they, they’ve become monsters too.”
“Wait a minute I thought you said the Emperor was bitten months ago?” Kirsteen asked? “How are the guards changing so fast?”
“If the Jiang Shi kills the victim it has chosen to infect then the change happens faster. If you’re alive it can take months.” Lindsey said. “It’s worse if you live however.” Lindsey continued. “The Demon is allowed to grow over a longer period of time and become stronger. The Emperor will be extremely powerful from the sounds of things. The undisputed leader of the new pack of Jiang Shi.”
“There’s nothing we can do.” Lee said as he released his guard. “My magics aren’t powerful enough to deal with what the Emperor has become.”
“Well you’re in luck.” The Professor said boastfully. “I know a thing or too about the Jiang Shi. Even before I became a Vampire, I had more than a few encounters with them. Granted it will take time to get together some of the spells, but.”
“We don’t have time. Bloodsucker.” Lee spat back. “They got us in the end. They got us.”
“Who?” Lindsey asked.
“The Hissians. A rival kingdom of ours. We fought for centuries, and just when we were on the cusp of victory they destroyed the ancient magics that had protected our kingdom for years.”
“What do you mean?” The Professor asked?
“The reason nobody here knows about the Jiang Shi is because many, many centuries ago, a great sorceress, with a far greater knowledge of magic than you or I banished all Demons from this land. As I told you before the unholy monsters used to dominate what would one day become our and the Hissians kingdoms to a greater extent than in any of the other kingdoms.
The Sorceress named Asia Moon would go on to be celebrated as our greatest hero. Whilst the Jiang Shi spread all over the rest of this continent like the plague they are, our tiny little patch of land enjoyed a freedom from their evil.
Unfortunately however as time went on and we had no need for the black arts, very few in our kingdom came to knew about magic. Even the Demons passed into legend. The Hissians were the same, but when we were on the brink of victory, the Hissians made a discovery that would allow them to doom us even as their kingdom fell.”
Lee continued. “They discovered the ruins of the first kingdom beneath theirs, the one the Jiang Shi and other Demons had destroyed. I was part of a slave force to dig the ruins out. In their desperation they hoped they could find some powerful form of magic to use against us. They found the amulet that Moon had used to constantly repel the Demons from kingdom and they destroyed it.”
“That doesn’t make any sense? They’d die too?” Kirsteen asked.
“They knew they were beat. Their leader tried to blackmail The Emperor Cheun. He told him that they would unleash the dark forces if Cheun didn’t surrender, but Cheun didn’t believe them. The Hissians would rather die than live under us. As soon as they broke the amulet one of the Jiang Shi returned to our kingdom, though they may have brought it here I don’t know. I was liberated just after the Emperor had been infected. I had been able to transcribe the old ruins left by Moon where I learned the truth of the ancient beasts that once roamed the land and the magics I know today. I just managed to seal the original Jiang Shi in the old ruins, but when I tried to warn the Emperor that he too would become one of those monsters, his wife refused to listen to me. She is a remarkable woman in many ways. She fought at his side, she helped to save the kingdom from the Hissians, but now she has helped to doom it.”
“Well I can’t say that we can permanently purge this kingdom of evil like this Moon woman did, but we can help deal with the Jiang Shi” The Professor said. “Please help us. From the sound of things you’ve been through a lot for this kingdom already. Do you really want to give up now?”
“Well I suppose I don’t have anything to loose?” Lee said begrudgingly.
“First however we must stop the spread of evil.” Lee said before he quickly snapped the necks of both prisoners using his magic.
“You murdering scum.” Kirsteen said in rage.
“They were infected by the beasts. If you are serious about protecting this kingdom then you will do the same too.”
“They might not have turned.” Lindsey snapped. “Not all those the Jiang Shi bite become members of their kind. We could have had time to see.”
“It’s that type of thinking from the Empress that doomed the kingdom.” Lee said as he hurried into the castle not wanting to discuss it anymore.
“I’m still not sure if he’s the real monster.” Kirsteen said.
The inside of the castle was filled with corpses, all mangled and in some cases torn to pieces. There were no signs of the Jiang Shi however.
As the foursome wandered through the blood stained palace, Lee was suddenly struck by the sight of one of the corpses. It was of a young woman who he had known many years, one of the palace guards. Though their relationship had ended a long time ago, and she too had come to despise Lee for his crimes against the Emperor. Lee had always maintained his feelings for her, and broke down at the sight of what those monsters had done.
Unfortunately whilst Lee was distracted, neither Lee, nor Lindsey, nor the Professor noticed the Emperor himself slowly creeping towards them from the upper balcony. Covered in cuts and bite marks, the Emperor had nevertheless managed to fight off the other Jiang Shi and establish his dominance.
The Vampire jumped from the balcony behind Lindsey, and Kirsteen who he effortlessly tossed aside. The Professor tried to fight the monster off, but it hurled him through the air and went straight for Lee. It seemed to target him above the others.
Lee tried to repel the beast with his magics but it was no use. The Emperor grabbed the Wizard by the throat and started to slowly crush the life out of its old friend.
To Be Continued