Monsters of Galloway

The Diary of Lindsey Kate McIntosh

July 15th 2001

It’s funny how quickly your life can change. Of course I’m sure you all know that by now, but I wonder how many of the people reading this will be able to relate to what I’ve been through these last few weeks? I hope for your sake you’ll just look on this entry as the scribblings of a mad woman and nothing more. Whilst it has been quite an adventure for me, I’m not blind to the fact that the life I am choosing for myself is one of loss and horror. The enthusiasm I have right now to fight the good fight is probably just a coping mechanism, that will wear off in a few weeks time.

I’ve already seen good people die at the hands of those monsters, and I doubt they’ll be the last I’ll lose in this fight. (Assuming I’m lucky enough to not be next myself.) Still I know that I can’t go back and I know that there is an entire world out there waiting for me to explore that I simply can’t resist.

Writing this down will not only hopefully help me process everything I’ve been through, but it will also let those of you who do care about me know the truth if anything ever happens to me. Again I don’t doubt a lot of you will think I’ve gone insane, but one day the truth about what’s really out there will be known. Perhaps sooner than even I realise. I know that it’s not even the same world than when I was a little girl.

Looking back on it, I had a really easy life growing up. Granted I always did feel quite privileged given my job and my family and friends, but considering just how dangerous I’ve learned the world really is. Even I had no idea I was so well off.

I was born in Wemyss Bay to a fairly upper middle class family in the year 1975. My father was a Dentist and my mother was a Doctor, and we lived in a big fancy house overlooking the bay. Growing up I was taken all around Europe: Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, the Netherlands, I’d visited them all with my family by the age of 15. Sadly however as a young un I could never really take in just how rich my experiences truly were. I often marked these holidays more by what videos we watched in the hotel than the beautiful culture and scenery around me. We were among the first people even in Wemyss Bay to have a VHS, and I remember my dad in particular being angry that I only ever remembered my first holiday in Poland for being when I first saw “When Harry Met Sally” that my mum had taped off the tv. Fortunately I’ve visited Poland many times since and know for sure what a lovely country it is, though “When Harry Met Sally” is still one of my favourite films.

At the very least these holidays began my love of travelling that would carry on to this day. In my early twenties I was fortunate enough to be able to turn that passion into a profession, when I got a job writing for travel logs. I must admit though that when I started I hoped It’d be a stepping stone to something bigger. I’ve always wanted to write, though I’m not exactly sure what about? I had such an eclectic range of interests, everything from middle eastern history to Dinosaurs, I could never settle on just one thing! Still I guess I was hoping inspiration would come from visiting so many different parts of the world, but instead I think I just became too cosy and secure.

It was a very comfortable and rewarding life though. I got to see so many wonderful cities and places and meet so many amazing people on my travels, but there would be one quaint little area in my home country of Scotland that would end up becoming my true home away from home. The Galloway regions.

The Galloway area of Scotland.

I was there during Wigtown’s first book festival in 1999, which they brought back the following year and from what I gather they plan to this year as well. Here’s hoping it carries on for a few more years to come. In actual fact I had only arrived to see the book festival, but Wigtown was such a welcoming, beautiful place that I ended up coming back here whenever I could for the next almost two years.

A place like Wigtown, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery, fuelled by a passion for the arts truly did seem too good to be true. I knew there had to be a catch somewhere. Sadly I would have never guessed that would be the undead.

Wigtown

For the past few months according to the locals there had been rumblings of something happening near the beaches of Galloway. A few teenagers going missing, a shark showing up mangled by something in the water. I was shocked to hear of such things happening here of all places, but I foolishly wasn’t scared for myself. As tragic as it was I assumed that it was something the authorities could handle and I wasn’t going to let any potential danger spoil my visit.

It would be on the 20th of June however when the evil brewing in this seemingly quaint area would reach me. It was late at night, I’d just been enjoying an evening out in my favourite pub. The Smoking Fish with my friend Lucy, a resident of Wigtown I’d got to know on my very first visit here. On the way home through the long road back to Wigtown, which lay next to a field leading out to a small forest behind. We spotted someone staggering about, seemingly hurt in the distance. Normally I loved the walk back from the Smoking Fish, The countryside was just so beautiful even at night, and I’d hardly have to worry about anything in a place like Wigtown.

Sadly however this time would be different. When the figure came into view more clearly, we could see that he was holding his neck, which was bleeding.

He tried to say something to us before collapsing on the road. Lucy instantly went for her phone, but before she could call the emergency service another figure came jumping out of the bushes at the side of the road. He was dressed in similar clothes and carrying a wooden stake. At the time I assumed it had to be something else and I just couldn’t see it very clearly in the dark.

He said to the first figure. “I’m sorry brother. You now that I’m sparing you from being with them forever.” Before he stabbed the stake into the bleeding mans chest.

Me and Lucy both screamed and instantly ran back the way to the Smoking Fish. Lucy was so scared she couldn’t think straight and started shouting at everyone else to call the police even whilst she was actually holding her phone! She’d never been very brave, mind you neither had I. I’d like to think that Lucy like most of us, if faced with no other choice would be brave. If I can, anyone can.

Most of the customers tried to calm her down, whilst one of them, a large burly man named Kent went outside to look.

“There’s no one there.” Kent said.

“I’m telling you there’s a psychopath with a wooden knife!” Lucy shouted, only to be met with some mild sniggering from some of the patrons.

“Well wherever he was he’s” Before Kent could even finish he was suddenly pulled up by something above. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was one of them. The undead Demons, that feast on human blood that we know as, vampires.

Kent’s corpse soon dropped to the floor in front of us less than a minute later. His neck had been cut open just like the man on the street and there was blood everywhere. I didn’t know Kent that well. He was a lot older than me and generally tended to just stick to his own little group whenever he went to the pub, but I still can’t believe that his entire life and identity were just taken so quickly and so easily. His friends didn’t even have a chance to try and fight to save him, not that there would have been anything they could have done anyway. The whole bar started to panic, but as the patrons all got out of their seats and headed to the back door, they were suddenly stopped by two ghoulish figures that dropped from above just outside the back.

The one that killed Kent meanwhile also dropped just outside the front door. Standing roughly six feet tall, he was dressed in ratty, filthy clothes, and looked human from a distance. When he walked slowly through the door and into the light of the pub however, we could all see the monsters grotesque face more clearly. It’s skin had a greenish tint to it, whilst the ridges above its eyes were thick and scaly like a reptiles. It also had bright red eyes, with a small black pupil and long, thick blood stained fangs in its mouth.

The creature screamed at us, with its roar sounding more like a lion’s than a person. We were all so transfixed and repulsed by this monster we failed to notice that several more of them had gathered by the windows with the others by the back door slowly advancing too. There was still only five of the bloodsuckers in total, but that was more than enough to take care of all us. The Demons started ripping as many people as they could apart. A few of them fed on their victims, but most either just tore their limbs off, or punched their fists through their stomachs and heads. Fortunately I didn’t get a good look at the gruesome spectacle for long, as I just ran as fast as I could through the slaughter, as did Lucy. I felt like a coward, I still do for not trying to help anyone there. I even left Lucy on her own, as she did me. Still I know that if I’d stayed those blood thirsty monsters would have ripped me to pieces too. They were more like Sharks at a feeding frenzy than people. Me and Lucy only managed to just slip out of the slaughter and no more, but once we were outside we saw a dozen or so more of the monsters walking through the fields slowly towards the pub.

In an act of panic I ran as fast as I could down the road towards Wigtown, whilst Lucy was too scared to even move. Several of the vampires however cut me off and with nowhere to go but into the open field where another six of them were waiting, I ran that way hoping I could run past them in time.

Lucy meanwhile took her chance and ran up the road and back to Wigtown whilst the vampires were distracted with me. I don’t blame her. I had done the same thing after all. Fortunately the bloodsuckers were so preoccupied with me and the slaughter in the Smoking Fish, which they eventually burned to the ground, that they didn’t chase her down. She managed to make it home safely and alert the authorities, though by the time they arrived everyone else in the pub was dead and the vampires were gone.

I would speak with Lucy a few days after all of this was over. Sadly she wasn’t ready to face the truth yet. When I tried to tell her what I saw after, and what those men really were, she just assumed I was in a state of shock. Even though she saw them, their inhuman faces, the way they tossed fully grown men around like babies, the way they acted like animals rather than people. Deep down she knows what they are, but she just isn’t ready to face it. I’m certainly not going to push her into this life. I just hope that she is able to cope with it in the best way for her. Granted I don’t know what the best way is, even for me. Maybe denying it is for the best after all. I’d imagine more than a few people have done that throughout history and gotten away with it. Still if more didn’t then maybe those people at the Smoking Fish would be alive.

Whatever the case, I managed to make it a short distance into the field before the vampires caught up to me again. They had superhuman speed as well as strength.

They soon gathered around me in a circle, some of them baring their fangs and hissing at me, others cackling like Hyenas at my plight. I genuinely couldn’t believe I was even in this situation. I had no idea what the hell these things were at this point, if they were really monsters, or just gangsters on some really weird shit. Either way for it to happen in Wigtown of all places seemed even more insane. I even tried pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t some horrific nightmare, though I’d hardly need too as I’d soon be in enough pain to let me know I wasn’t dreaming. The largest of the vampires reached out and grabbed me by the arm. It’s strength was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. My arm would be covered in bruises afterwards just from its grip, though I know that bloodsucker could have either snapped my arm in half or ripped it out of the socket if it wanted! It’s grip was also freezing to the touch and a little bit slimy too. It reminded me of holding a slug or a snail. Not that I have ever held either animal. They give me the creeps almost as much as vampires, but if I were for some reason then I’d imagine it would be like touching a vampires skin.

Before the vampire could begin feeding on me, another one of the crazed bloodsuckers snatched me by the other arm with just as much force. The two monsters pulled so hard I thought I was going to be ripped in two until another one of the Demons grabbed my hair from behind and nearly sunk its fangs into my throat, but it was stopped by yet another, that struck me across the face in its effort to get at my neck. I was briefly knocked out, and when I came too just a few seconds later I was on the ground, covered in mud, cuts and bruises made by the vampires trying to get at me. All of the bloodsuckers in fact were fighting over me again like a group of crazed animals in a feeding frenzy, and I tried to crawl along the field in the commotion, until one of them noticed and mounted itself on me, pinning me to the ground.

I tried to scream to alert the others, but they were so caught up in their blood lust it didn’t do any good. The monster smiled as it sat atop me. Up close it was even more disgusting, with slime and blood dribbling from its mouth and into my face which stung as much as it stunk. In fact the monster stank badly overall. I closed my eyes and prepared for the brute to sink its teeth into my neck, when suddenly the monster let out a scream and fell off me. I got up and saw him lying on the floor, with a wooden stake straight through his heart. Within a few seconds my attacker exploded into a cloud of dust before me. I couldn’t believe it. I almost fainted again, but fortunately my rescuer helped me to my feet. It was the same man who had stabbed the figure on the road earlier who looked even more beat up than I was. The other vampires meanwhile were soon drawn by the sound of their comrade dying. Though from what I’ve read when they are that close they can feel one of their own kind dying as its soul is dragged to the other side, that is the other side for them.

The monsters charged at us, and I tried to run away again, but my rescuer held me with one hand and whipped out a crucifix with the other which caused the Demons to instantly cower. I had by this point already put all the pieces together in figuring out what these things were. I think anyone could a this stage, but even then I was still having trouble taking it in. Not that it was uppermost on my mind. I was more concerned with just getting the hell out of there!

As I tried to pull free from my former rescuer however I saw that several more, similar creatures were emerging from the pub that was now in flames.

With no other choice, the man who has just saved me ran the other way into the country side and woods ahead, whilst still holding my hand. I didn’t fight him this time as well I’d have been stupid too. Even if he was a psychopath, fighting off one guy with a cross would definitely be easier than taking on 10 guys with super strength and fangs!

We made our way across the field and were soon lost in the forest, but the vampires hadn’t given up just yet. They could see in the dark just as well as we could in the light, but my new friends cross would always ward them off when they got too close.

Unfortunately just as we were nearing the end of the patch of woods, which ended in a cliff leading to the ocean, one of the vampires descended from the trees above. It knocked us both down, sending the cross flying through the air and over the edge of the cliff. The monster then picked up my former rescuer by the lapels of his ratty, torn coat and smiled as it prepared to bite him.

Rather than simply run, which I’ll admit I was tempted too, this time I was able to muster up the courage to try and fight the monster, though fight might be somewhat of an exaggeration. I simply threw myself at the bloodsucker. I obviously didn’t have any fancy moves, and I’m pretty sure that one of my “punches” would have hurt me more than it would it, so I hoped that if I rugby tackled the vampire I’d knock it off its feet. All of the vampires were insanely thin. They almost looked like skeletons, with some of the bones almost poking through the skin and muscle. That didn’t mean they were weak, but hopefully they’d be easy to topple because they were so slight. Sadly my gambit didn’t work and I simply bounced off of the vampire that remained as sturdy as a rock. The monster simply turned round at me and sniggered, but little did he know I’d bought my new friend a few precious seconds to pull out a bottle of holy water from his pocket which he used to splash in the vampires face. The bloodsucker let out a scream that spread throughout the entire forest as he sank to his knees, clutching his smoking face. The other vampires meanwhile had now caught up with us and with nowhere else to run, the vampire hunter grabbed me by my arm again, and pulled me off the edge of the cliff with him. We both fell about 30 feet into the water below.

For the record I can swim. In fact on my travels I’ve swam in some of the most exotic oceans around the world. However the panic and shock I was in from, well everything meant that when I hit the water I flailed around wildly until the vampire hunter pulled me into a nearby cave inside the cliff. There I took refuge on a rock whilst the hunter sprinkled the holy water into the water leading into the cave.

“Don’t worry. It’ll affect the water for the next few hours until the sun comes up.” He said as he pulled out another stake.

I meanwhile was so scared I honestly felt like jumping back into the water and just swimming. I didn’t even know where, just anywhere away from here. Wigtown had suddenly dropped in my estimation.

Fortunately however I knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere and after a few minutes I mustered up the courage to talk to the vampire hunter I owed my life too, who was still constantly on the look out.

“I think I know what those things were, but just for confirmation.” I said, trying to sound as cool as possible and not like I wanted to scream to the high heavens.

“They were vampires. Of the Dehona breed. Not common around these parts. They’re here for something big. Me and my friends. We tried to stop them, but it was, well as you can see above. They were feral, desperate. We also underestimated just how many of them there were. It was a massacre.” He said without even looking back at me.”

“Lucy” I suddenly thought to myself. In all the panic I didn’t even think about what could have happened to her, I’m ashamed to admit. I tried to push past the vampire hunter but he stopped me. I tried to explain frantically to him, but he warned me that the vampires might not be away yet. They were tenacious and above all else vindictive, hateful creatures who would never let prey escape from them if they could.

We argued for about five or so minutes before we were interrupted by a hand reaching out of the water which soon pulled the vampire hunter below the waves. I screamed for all the good it did, but within a few seconds the water started to turn red. Soon after the culprit emerged. It was the vampire that had been burned with holy water at the cliff edge. The other vampires were smart enough not to jump into the ocean, knowing the hunter would have come prepared with holy water, but this vamp clearly didn’t care. He was so enraged that he wanted to tear the hunters heart out no mater what. However the pain of the water burning his skin was too much even for him and he soon crawled onto the rock next to me. His skin was burnt to a crisp, whilst his hair had almost been completely singed off. One of his eyes even appeared to have melted out of its socket, whilst his nose was nothing but a stump. He also had a stake embedded in his right shoulder, yet in spite of this he still jumped straight onto my rock and tried to bite me. I was told later that human blood can help a vampire of his breed heal from almost any injury, besides a wooden stake through the heart, decapitation and direct sunlight. As he tried to bite me however I managed to twist the stake in his shoulder before pulling it out which made him wince in pain. I then dug my nails into the wound which made him scream. I can’t deny feeling just a twinge of satisfaction at finally turning the tables on the monster and with a further slash to his face from the stake, I sent the undead abomination tumbling back into the water.

He instantly rose back up, his flesh boiling and reached out for me, and before I could get away, he got me in that iron, slimy grip of his, but with my stake I kept slashing and slashing blindly until he eventually sank back beneath the water and swam out of the cave. A few seconds later the hunter emerged from the bloody pool beside me, though I almost stabbed him at first in panic. The vampire had managed to bite him, but the wound wasn’t serious. He assured me that he wouldn’t turn either. In order for this breed of vampire to make someone into one of their one, they had to drain a substantial amount of the victims blood and then force them to drink the vampires blood, which is what happened to his friend above.

Though as I said to him at the time that is what someone who would have been infected would say and the next few hours were rather tense, not just in waiting for any of the vampires to attack, but also for the hunter to potentially change.

He was also waiting for me to constantly try and run out to save my friend too. Though deep down now that I had time to think about it, I hate to say that I wasn’t as eager to go out there and look for Lucy whilst those monsters were running around.

The hunter tried all night to contact other members of his team on his phone, but he either got no response or they were preoccupied. Vampire attacks were happening all over Galloway it seemed. One of the hunters allies, a woman named Sophia was holed up in a resturant a group bloodsuckers were trying to tear apart near Stranraer, whilst another was holed up in a cinema.

The hunter who saved me and who spoke in an Irish accent and whose name was O’Brien explained to me that Scotland was something of a hotspot for Demons and vampires. Apparently it was all to do with the Roman empire. Centuries ago, Trajan, the most celebrated of the great Roman emperors led a crusade against vampires and other supernatural creatures to the point where they were forced to flee to the one place in Europe that Rome hadn’t conquered yet. Scotland. The monsters soon built a unified force there that lasted for many centuries, even after the Empire collapsed. O’Brien meanwhile belonged to a organisation founded by Saint Columba. You might know him as that priest who famously fought off the Loch Ness Monster in the old legend? At least that’s all I knew him for before this. Anyway apparently that wasn’t the only monster he fought off. Saint Columba had been sent here from his home in Ireland to try and clean up Scotland’s monster problem. Needless to say despite his skill, Columba knew it would be too much for one person to accomplish and so he set up a secret order known as Scathaech, named after the famous warrior woman who had taught him everything he needed to know about the supernatural and had served as his mentor, before she was called back to Scotland and died in battle with the Turok Han. It was her death that motivated Columba to desperately try and save her homeland of Scotland in the first place.

O’Brien also however explained to me that the number of demons from the Galloway and other regions of Scotland had dropped dramatically. Round about the same time these vampires had first arrived. He didn’t know why. Demon and vampire communities were known to fight over resources, namely people and vampires were shunned by many other demon species and communities, being viewed as too evil and corrupt even for them. However this was again an organised massacre of many different demon species, even those who didn’t compete for humans.

In a few hours dawn broke and O’Brien assured me that the vampires would be gone now. This breed like most would die in direct sunlight.

Sadly however the hunter still didn’t let me go. He explained to me that this wasn’t just a random vampire hunt, hence why the monsters had been so bold. These bloodsuckers were preparing something huge and that until they were dealt with, I couldn’t simply go back to my old life. I had been marked by them now. and the monsters didn’t like to leave loose ends. I protested, telling him I could just leave Wigtown, but he told me that he didn’t know how wide this vampire cult’s reach spread, and that there was no guarantee that there weren’t humans secretly in league with them all throughout Galloway.

I soon came to see he was right. I’d only survived because of his knowledge. At the very least there was clearly more I needed to know about these bloodsuckers that were apparently all over Galloway.

After a few more minutes O’Brien was finally able to contact another member of his team. Only three more had survived the vampires rampage last night. Close to 100 civilians meanwhile were butchered. It’s incredible how in spite of this staggering loss of life, people still won’t accept the truth about what is really out there. Not that I am judging. Had I not been caught up right in the middle of it I probably would have bought the official cover story too. O’Brien would assure me that it was for the best that humanity not discover as the way things were now it would be like throwing gasoline on the fire that is humanity’s problems. I’m not sure I quite agree with him, but I’m in no position to change that now anyway. I’m happy to write this journal that no one would believe, but if I were to try and go public, then not only would most still look on me as a crackpot, but O’Brien and others like him would do their best to undermine and silence me, and I’d also be a target for every demon and vamp in Scotland and beyond, all of whom rather like their anonymity. Again though given how bold the vamps were in this attack I do wonder how long this powder keg can go on without exploding.

We soon met up with the three survivors of the attack. Sophia was one of them, whilst the other two were a young man and a woman my age called James and Elizabeth who were in a relationship.

There had been twelve units sent in to deal with the vampire infestation last night, and this was all that was left.

“There were just so many of them. They didn’t even feed, they just slaughtered their victims. Even when they were feral, they knew exactly where to target, what they were doing. This is not just an ordinary vampire hunt. This is part of something huge.” Sophia said she patched up a really nasty vampire bite on her arm.

“Agreed and that’s why I think we need to talk to the Great Caradon.” O’Brien argued.

The others were clearly a little taken a back at his suggestion. None of them were what you would call cowardly, but the thought of going to see this beast put the fear of god into all of them and they soon started arguing. Elizabeth preferred waiting for reinforcements, whilst James felt they needed to question the locals, maybe see if they could find any of the vampires human servants. He figured an operation this big could only work if there were people to shelter the vampires during the daylight hours. At one point he even turned his suspicion towards me just for surviving.

Sophia meanwhile who was clearly the leader of the group didn’t like any of their ideas.

The Great Caradon was a legendary beast that lived below the Castle of Saint John in Stranraer. It was an 80 foot tall Shark man. The Caradons from what I was told where a race of magical Shark men. They are born using a spell that works in the following ways. An area of water is doused in magic, after which a Shark and a person are then placed into the area and the Shark will then under the influence of the magic, devour the human, after which they will both merge together into one monstrous entity. A Caradon.

Just as there are different species of sharks, then there are multiple different Caradons. The Great Caradon as he is known, was the result of a human, or rather several humans and a Megalodon being merged together. (The Megalodon had been brought back using magic first as they went extinct before humans evolved.)

For centuries the Great Caradon had been a fierce warrior under the ocean who had taken part in the great mermaid wars, but eventually he grew tired of that life and retreated to a massive cave beneath Stranraer, where he resides in a beautiful garden he made and sustains with magic. There are just two entrances to the garden. One from a cave leading out to the sea, and the other from above, contained in a hatch at the bottom of the castle.

Castle of St John

The creature will kill anyone who uses the entrance leading out from the ocean. You are only allowed to enter via the castle. Even then however, you have to bring the shark something or else he will eat you. If the gift pleases him however he will give you vital information and maybe even some magical power. The shark has no alignment generally and has been known to help both hunters and demons. Though he has a special dislike for vampires, viewing them as the ultimate filth and has never been known to help one.

Naturally O’Brien hoped that with this in mind he might help us. but even then Sophia was still unsure as the Shark was notoriously difficult to please. About 80 percent of people and demons who had gone to him asking for a favour had never returned. The shark had very eclectic interests. Much like me. Sometimes he would be happy with a film taped off the television. (Though my suggestion of When Harry Met Sally was shot down right away.) Other times he’d eat you for giving him something so common. A lot of hunters and demons had come to the conclusion that he just liked messing with people.

Still his help was always valuable and given the unprecedented vampire attack last night it seemed that we had no choice. Elizabeth’s suggestion of waiting for reinforcements didn’t seem likely as they would have to wait hours for people from the offices in Aviemore and Glasgow to arrive, assuming they weren’t dealing with their own crisis. Sadly the Galloway office had been destroyed by the vamps last night too. Meanwhile even if we did find the vampires human minions there weren’t enough of us here to deal with them.

Sadly the giant Shark seemed like the safest option. The question was just what gift to offer the monster? Sophia was dead set on a lubrins demon. These disgusting creatures were a favourite prey of the Caradons that lived near Scotland. It was really the safest bet. Added to that these creatures, though known to prey on humans, were relatively easy to catch and draw out too. Really it would take about half an hour at the most to draw one out and restrain it.

James and Elizabeth were still unsure, thinking it would be suicide to even consider the great Caradon, but with no other options. (My other suggestion of just running like fuck out of Galloway was also shot down.) Me and O’Brien went to the castle, whilst Sophia and the others went Demon hunting. The owner of the castle (which was open to the public.) A man named Harris, knew all too well about the giant Shark living in his basement and was also familiar with O’Brien’s little organisation too. The castle had been through about 20 different owners in the last five years. All of whom had foisted it on their successor without telling them about the monster in the basement. To be fair I doubt any potential buyer would have believed them. The Great Caradon isn’t actually that bad a roommate though. He generally just keeps himself to himself, it’s more the demons and the hunters who constantly come barging in, threatening the owner and sometimes even wanting to use him as a sacrifice to the giant Shark below that are the problem.

Harris had not dealt with any visitors in a long while, but he was still always prepared for them and knew to step aside when the hunters arrived.

As we waited above the hatch, O’Brien tried to make some small talk with me. Not surprisingly however we didn’t have much in common. I was interested in his job to some extent, but sadly that was the one thing he didn’t really want to talk about, not just because he wasn’t allowed too, but I’d imagine the trauma of seeing so many people be ripped to shreds by those monsters isn’t something he’d be eager to revisit. Having said that though it was incredible how much he and all of the others were just getting on with business after seeing so many people they’d known for years be killed by those things last night. Clearly this was just another day for them.

Eventually the others arrived after half an hour or so of awkwardness, complete with a demon bound and gagged. It was even more disgusting than the vampires. It’s skin was not only slimy, but dripping, whilst its eyes were jet black, and its teeth almost looked too big for its mouth. Its hands meanwhile only had three fingers, all of which were covered in sucker cups whilst its body was also covered in barnacles and a long thin fork like tongue, writhed in between its dagger like teeth.

Sophia assured me not to feel any sympathy for the beast as it had caused quite a fuss a few days ago, when it tried to devour a small child. One of their agents chased it away, but it still managed to take the child’s foot off with that nasty set of teeth. The increase in vampire activity caused the monster to sadly slip the hunters minds until now.

All of the hunters went down the hatch, and I was forced to come as well. Apparently the Great Caradon will not talk to you unless everyone who is there with you comes. That way he can be more sure of who he is giving advice too.

When the shaft opened up there was a large, glowing, yellow light that we just stepped in, and within a few seconds we all found ourselves in what looked like an underground jungle.

The demon tried to wriggle free along the floor whilst we were all still in shock, but it was soon stopped by a horde of Velociraptors that emerged from the jungle around us.

They must have stood about six feet tall, were scaly and blue in colour, though their eyes were a piercing red. They soon surrounded all of us. The hunters instantly raised their weapons, but I was completely transfixed on the Dinosaurs.

I definitely should have been scared. Those animals could have torn my guts out and come back for seconds in the blink of an eye. Still I’ve had such a fascination with Dinosaurs since well before I can remember. There’s literally a picture of me dressed in Dinosaur pyjamas when I was just a toddler. To see one in the flesh like this, unlike with the vampires, fear was replaced with wonder and amazement, though granted when the Dinosaurs started to roar and bare their blood stained teeth, I did get a bit scared.

O’Brien later told me these Dinosaurs were not quite as they were in life. Often resurrection spells don’t work out and these Dinosaurs (who the Great Caradon had brought back from their bones using magic.) Were altered somewhat, explaining the no feathers on the raptors. Still they looked realistic enough to me.

We soon saw however that there were other horrors living in the jungle. Several Pterosaurs started to circle us above, and the Raptors began to scatter, though they still remained close by, when a giant frilled lizard came into view. It must have been close to thirty feet long and quick as a flash, its long tongue pulled a Pterosaur into its mouth, which it then swallowed whole in an instant as a normal lizard would a fly.

At this point I was starting to get scared, but fortunately and I can’t believe I am saying this, the Great Caradon soon emerged from the trees behind us.

He was even larger than O’Brien had described. He must have stood over 70 foot easy. He was far bigger than any of the trees around us that is for sure. The Raptors meanwhile ran up to their master, like affectionate puppies. They even started to playfully lick his feet, with the giant Shark reaching down and patting the largest member of the pack on the head. Clearly they were his favourite pets in the forest, as the Pterosaurs and the Lizard both just retreated instantly.

Given the close relationship between vampires and Dinosaurs it’s quite surprising that the Great Caradon likes Dinosaurs so much, but I guess he doesn’t hold that against the great reptiles.

The giant Shark man looked down at us for a few seconds. It’s always hard to tell what’s going on behind a Shark’s blank, lifeless eyes. Granted normally there isn’t anything going on under there, but after a few agonizing seconds, the shark reached down and picked up the demon that was still trying to wiggle its way across the forest and held it upside down.

“THIS is what your brought me?” The monster said in a booming, but otherwise human sounding voice, before he chewed the demon up in a single bite and swallowed its remains.

“Not bad. I would have preferred it if you’d got me at least three of those things. Normally I’d eat one of you. The most useless member for getting me too little.”

I suddenly started to look scared.

“However I know why you are here. The Children of Khastran are gathering. (Children of Khastran by the way is a really pretentious name for vampire.)

He then led us through the jungle ahead. At either side of me I could see more Dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, some of which I didn’t even recognise. I got distracted however by a fight between two male Tyrannosaurus Rex’s tearing into each other near a lake. I almost didn’t realise that the rest of the group were about twenty feet ahead of me until Sophia thankfully noticed and shouted on me.

We soon reached the Great Caradon’s I guess living quarters which consisted of a massive red and golden chair sitting in front of a glowing purple sphere, which he could apparently watch the world above with.

He sat down on his throne and started to show us footage of the vampires rampage last night on the sphere. The entire team had to watch their failure to protect both the civilians and their team mates from the blood suckers last night, as well as many other attacks they didn’t even know about. I meanwhile saw myself running away and leaving everyone behind in the pub, though fortunately none of the others it seemed judged me. I guess they were all too upset about their own failures or maybe despite only knowing me for a few hours they didn’t expect anything different.

After it was over Sophia was the first to speak.

“I don’t understand why you bothered showing us the horror we already lived through? Is it just some form of torture before you finish us off for not bringing you enough demons to eat?” Sophia snapped. James and Elizabeth meanwhile both looked at her with a combination of disbelief and anger. Hell I felt the same way. For a supposed expert of the occult, she didn’t seem to realise that it’s probably not a good idea to shout at the giant Shark god that keeps Dinosaurs as pets! If she was at the end of her tether and not caring anymore, well she could at least not drag us into it.

The Shark however thankfully wasn’t angered and stood up from his throne.

“I just wanted to see what you were made of, and I must say that your track record is not impressive.” He said to the hunters, who all meekly accepted it, again except for Sophia.

“Well you know you can’t judge us by just one night, I actually have killed two Turok Hans.” Sophia protested.

The Shark responded to her boasts meanwhile by picking Sophia up, which caused the others to life out their weapons. Even Sophia didn’t back down and reached for her weapon for all the good it would do.

“You have courage. Well most of you.” The Shark said in what I’m sure was a little dig at me. I let it go however, which sadly proved his point I suppose, but still.

“I’d prefer someone else like the Circus Family or Professor Fang to deal with this, but since you’re all that’s here. You’ll have to do. You’re all right these vampires are not just killing for the fun of it. Their slaughter last night was part of a wider sacrifice. That’s what all of these killings have been. The slaughter of humans, demons, even animals like that shark that washed up on the beach. It’s all part of a resurrection spell designed to bring a vampire back from the grave.” The Shark said as it placed Sophia back down.

“I knew that some vampire species have the power to come back to life, but in our experience when most of them die, they stay dead.” Elizabeth said.

“Whenever a vampire dies its soul is sent to a pocket dimension contained within the book of Khastran. The book that created every single vampire species on earth. There their souls hunt each other for all eternity, dying but constantly coming back within that dimension. It is theoretically possible to bring any vampires soul back from that book, but in order to do so it requires incredible power that is beyond even most witches and warlocks.” The Shark replied as he sat back in his chair.

He continued. “This spell is used to bring back one of the most powerful types of vampire. It first requires the souls of several hundred mortals and several hundred Demons. They have that now after the last few weeks. All they need is the life of the killer of the vampire they wish to bring back.”

“Well how on earth do we know who that is?” O’Brien asked, before realising that he was perhaps a little too blunt with the shark.

“I suspect the vampire these leeches want to revive is none other than the Blue Devil. The former vampire king of Scotland. He was the only member of his kind. Unlike all other Alpha vampires created from the book of Khastran who sired and spawned other members of their kind. The Blue Devil famously didn’t make any others like him out so that no one could ever figure out his weaknesses by killing his lesser eh children.” The shark explained.

He also went on to tell us how the Blue Devil had been a vicious Pict warrior who collected the heads of Roman centurians before being turned into an Alpha and how he had a greater command of dark magics and demons than any sorcerer. He also explained that if the Blue Devil was reborn, the souls of all the people the vampires killed as part of the ritual to bring him back would be sent into the book of Khastran in his place to be hunted by the vampires forever. If push came to shove the shark said he would destroy the Blue Devil himself, but he did not want it to come to that and hoped we could prevent it. Even he it seemed was appalled at the idea of anyone being condemned to the vampires dimension forever.

Finally the shark told us who killed this monster. It was a sorcerer who morally speaking wasn’t much better than the Blue Devil himself. They had both killed each other in a final duel, and so the vampires were planning on reviving her before killing her again to complete the ritual.

Unfortunately however her soul had been placed in an interdimensional prison. Ironically of her own making. This place was a mini hell dimension where the souls of the her enemies were banished. Men, women and even children were imprisoned in this nightmarish dimension. The portal to this mini hell was contained in Glen Luce abbey of all places. The Great Caradon had a spell to access it which he fused to our very bodies. It had taken the vampires over 50 years to try and break into it using all the magics they had. The Caradon warned us that as soon as we broke into the portal, the vampires would follow. (It would take them another day to break in otherwise.) He also warned us not to try and help any of the other spirits in the dimension. By this stage most of them will have gone crazy after exposure to the black magics of the place for centuries. On top of that, if too many spirits were freed at once, the dimension would try and stop them from leaving.

It wasn’t the most enviable task I’d been given I’ll admit, but we evidently had no choice, and after giving us the spell, the Shark warned us that if we failed he might just eat us before the vampires could.

Once he was done explaining, the shark whisked us back to the castle. I honestly wondered if I’d just dreamed what I’d seen. Hell I still wonder it, but with no time to waste I was soon forced into a car along with the other hunters and taken to Glen Luce Abbey. I’d always found the place a bit unsettling to tell you the truth even on my previous visits. The gateway was in a hall in the abbey that always had an echoing sound to it. We simply entered the hall and when we came out the other end we where in a dark, twisted, nightmarish version of Galloway.

Glenluce Abbey

The woods were dark, withered, the sky was red and there were howls and screams in the air. As we walked through the woods there were ghosts and spirits wandering around aimlessly. Some of them were just children and there was a temptation to try and help them, but I heeded the sharks words and they all failed to notice us. To be honest I don’t think any of them knew what was in front of them either way. As we made our way deeper into the woods of this nightmarish caricature of Galloway however, we started to notice the ghosts getting more agitated. It was the vampires who had arrived in the hell dimension thanks to our actions.

The vampires very presence was enough to disrupt the hell dimension. Vampires were made from the very darkest power from Khastran, the former god of all demons and it conflicted with magic used to contain that reality, due to its creators hatred of vampires.

The ghosts all started to become crazed and attacked each other, and whilst they still didn’t seem to pay much attention to us. (Even as they were phasing through us in their panic.) One of them did eventually reach out and somehow manage to bite James. I don’t know how a ghost can bite with no teeth, but apparently there is some metaphysical explanation behind it all? Anyway, Sophia soon told us to scale the nearest tree. I’d climbed a few trees as a little girl, but I still needed some help from Elizabeth to get to the top of the tree before the ghosts really started to go nuts. The tree was absolutely disgusting to touch by the way. It looked dry, but was actually quite slimy when you put your fingers on it and if you held onto the bark long enough then horrible little insects would start to appear over your fingers. When you got to the top among the bare branches meanwhile large featherless birds with human or should I say demon faces would start attacking you. I was useless in holding them off, but Elizabeth and James had plenty of demon repellents with them.

Below meanwhile I could see the vampires in the distance slaughtering their way through the ghosts. The vamps had knives made from the claws of another race of demons called vandals. James filled me in that apparently vandals are the sworn archenemies of vampires and that they feed on their victims souls rather than their blood using their claws. The vampires were actually capable of harming and even killing ghosts on their own. Again by harnessing the dark power inherent in all vampires from Khastran, they could easily destroy a persons soul. This however was a lot quicker and the monsters sliced and diced their way through dozens of angry spirits no problem.

Little did the vampires know they were actually performing an act of kindness by freeing these ghosts from their torment, though a few of the bloodsuckers had overpowered a spirit and were torturing it with the vandals claw for information about where the witch’s ghost was. I can’t imagine though it would have made any difference for the ghost whose entire existence in this place is nothing but torture.

As the vampires continued to hack their way through the barrage of ghosts, I suddenly noticed the lake in the distance beginning to rumble. It was completely black, in fact it looked more like mud than water so it was hard to tell, but soon it became obvious as the water started to bubble furiously. I thought there was maybe a lake monster or something in it. After all O’Brien had mentioned Nessie earlier. However it soon turned out that the lake itself was the monster.

The entire lake soon rose up into the air and formed into a massive demonic face which let out a hideous cackle before sweeping its way across the forest. Our trees stood above the water, though only just.

The vampires were instantly swept away, with the water slowly burning them until they were nothing but dust. All of the ghosts meanwhile were swept up in the water too. I could see them very clearly through the black water as it flowed all around the tiny tree top I was on. They were all reduced to nothing but skeletons, though they didn’t vanish completely like the vampires and they were still able to move and in some cases still desperately tried to swim to safety. Those who managed to poke their hands and heads above the surfaces, flesh was restored, though only on the parts above the water, which melted off again when they were dragged back down with the current.

Thankfully in a few minutes the water retreated back to the lake, whilst all of the skeleton ghosts fell to the earth and slowly began to regenerate their flesh. Unlike the vampires who the water beast wanted to destroy instantly, clearly the ghosts had been through this unimaginable agony thousands of times before. I wanted to help, I still do, but sadly there was nothing any of us could do. At least for now. According to O’Brien the team at Scathaech are constantly trying to find a way to bring an end to not only this mini hell dimension, but sadly the many others that are scattered around Scotland, but with so many other distractions. Their efforts haven’t been quite as successful as they’d hoped.

After a few more minutes to make sure that there were no vampire survivors, we all crawled down from our trees and continued to search the forest. Mindful to keep away from any large body of water.

We reached the witch’s prison. She was locked in a cage, so small she could barely move that was contained within a cave at the edge of the forest. As she would later tell us, she was trapped in here for centuries, barely able to move, with the souls of all the other people trapped in here coming in once a day to spit on her. (In what was ironically their only reprieve from the horrors of this place.

Her jailer was a large, red skinned demon with small tentacles covering its head and no other facial features. It did however have a massive eye in its chest, whilst its arms and legs had no joints and could move in every direction. Instead of hands it also had two massive suction cups.

The monster started to attack us the second we got within the cave, with the Caradons magic not stopping it from seeing us like the ghosts. Elizabeth learned the hard way what those suction cups were for when the monster used them to strip two large sections of skin from her arms. I nearly puked at the sight of it, but soon the monsters eye caught me in a large beam of light. It kept me completely frozen and in a state of pain so severe that I was completely knocked out, and when I came too a few minutes later I saw that my companions had dealt with the monster. At least that’s what it looked like. They were covered in red goop, and bits of the demon were splattered all over the cave. I think it’s safe to assume that it wasn’t suicide.

The witch we had come here for meanwhile was surprisingly calm, in spite of having endured centuries of torture. She didn’t say a single word to us, but happily went along with us nonetheless.

As soon as we got out of the cave however, all of the ghosts, (whose flesh was still regrowing.) Walked towards us slowly, as did several other demons like those in the cave, more Demon birds, and even the monstrous Lake was beginning to rise again.

As I faced certain death all I could think was how on earth did I get into this situation? Just last night I was going for a drink with Lucy and now I was in a literal hell? I honestly just gave up and waited for the monsters to kill me, but this time time the witch incased us all in some kind of magical bubble which elevated us above the dying jungle. It then flew us across the forest in a matter of a seconds and through another swirling portal that was surrounded off by a circle of large stones. She warned us it would hurt and oh dear god!

Every single part of my body hurt. Even my eyebrows were in constant pain. When we finally came through the other side we landed in a small dirty little chasm that went on and on for ages. The witch then imprisoned us in the very same bubble she had used to pull us out of that hell dimension.

“Not that I’m not grateful for rescuing me from that torture, but forgive me for being a little suspicious. Nobody would ever want to rescue me out of the goodness of their hearts as I’m not a very nice person. I am however extremely powerful and foolish people who don’t know I’m not a very nice person have thought I’d help them if they helped me.” The witch said.

“Believe me, under normal circumstances we’d be happy to let you rot in the very hell you created.” Sophia said back to the vile spectre.

Sophia continued. “However as it is, we need to protect you. The vampires who I trust you must have sensed when they entered are looking to resurrect you, so that they can kill you and complete their ritual to bring back the Blue Devil. “

The witch released us from the sphere.

“Nothing unites people better than hatred. For now we’re allies.” The witch replied.

I was surprised she believed us so quickly and I even asked her why she did.

“I know vampires. Most of them are just degenerate bloodsucking monsters, happy to maim, torture and kill for their own amusement. The fact that some of them were able to enter my hell dimension however shows that they must all be working together on something big. You don’t access that place easily. The Blue Devil and his servants were always a cut above the average little blood rat.” She replied.

“I know we had to go to that big shark man to get in.” I said.

“The Great Devourer? I’m shocked he didn’t eat you. He must have gone soft in all the years I was locked up.” The witch replied.

I almost laughed at her idea of him going soft, but looking back on it now there are worst things for a giant shark man to do than potter about in his garden.

After some more discussion about how we were going to help the witch, we made our way through the long cavern ahead. Suddenly however Sophia stopped us in our tracks. She could sense it. Ever since it almost swept her away to the netherworld on a previous mission, and just a few seconds later we could all hear its engine roaring. It was the Ghost Train of Old Galloway.

I’d heard stories about, I think everyone in the region had. One time I even overheard some children playing a game of Ghost Train. Obviously I never thought it could be real, but I suppose after fighting vampires, well running away from them and talking to a Shark man I should have been prepared for anything.

As Sophia later explained to me. The Ghost Train was a result of the Witches mini hell dimension, albeit unintentionally. It created a great spiritual upheaval in the local area, hence why ghost sightings in general are a lot higher here. Fortunately most of the time they were harmless. The ghosts would be dragged into our reality for a short while where they would be dazed and disoriented only to vanish back into the netherworld again. The Ghost Train however was a special case. Due to being a large concentration of spirits, it was capable of dragging still living people back to with it. At the same time the Train did not come from the Netherworld, which was the natural resting place of all natural beings like humanity. Over the centuries numerous, witches, Gods and even demons had found a way to channel souls into their own pocked dimensions like or in the demons cases, their home realities (leading to different myths and legends of the afterlife.) Evidently the Ghost Train for whatever reason was sent to one of these pocket dimensions. No one knows exactly where. Apparently Sophia and her team of people have been trying to exorcise it for years now, but the Train pops up at random and is here for such a short time that no one can ever find it for too long. Given we were near an open portal to the witch’s hell it made sense that it would arrive here.

It wasn’t even running on any tracks it was just blindly driving its way towards us through the cavern. There was no way we could have outrun it and for the first time Sophia, Elizabeth, James and O’Brien actually looked helpless. None of them feared death. Even when going up against the vampires. Clearly wherever this Ghost Train was going to take them, it was worse than death.

Fortunately however the witch who having no idea about the train’s history was, but sensing the dark power from the ghostly apparition whisked us high above the train and the cavern as it sped past us and eventually faded into thin air.

We soon saw from above that we had arrived on a small island. Apparently this had been the witches own personal island when she was alive and it was where she built the pocket dimension in the first place. She said it was concealed from the rest of Scotland by a magical fog. Indeed the fog was so thick it looked like night time as the entire sky was completely black above. Fortunately however she had a boat that could take us all away from it. She lowered us back down into the cavern however telling us she was using almost all of her power just to manifest and not fall back into her own hell and that she wouldn’t be able to even life us up in the air again like that.

After about half an hour walking through that cavern we reached a beach on the other side, where there was a single old fashioned boat washed up. The beach was also covered in the corpses of sea creatures, including octopuses, and small sharks.

As we made our way to the boat however, several large, hideous creatures began to emerge from the ocean around the boat. They all must have stood about eight feet tall and were covered in slime and sea weed. They had a vaguely humanoid shape, though it was hard to tell under the green slime. The only facial features I could make out were two large black eyes.

The witch stood before the creatures calmly and said.

“Do no worry my children, these people are with me. They may leave this island and.” Before she could even finish, one of the monsters grabbed her in its stumpy, slimy hand and soon absorbed her into its grotesque body.

We all backed away a little bit from the monsters as they plodded towards us, until I suddenly felt something biting down on my foot. I screamed and pulled away only to see one of the dead sharks had taken a chunk out of me! It couldn’t have been any longer than about three feet. Its skin was so decaying it had turned completely white, its guts had already been torn out by either whatever had killed it in the ocean or a scavenger and yet it moved, or rather wriggled along its side very slowly, but determined to take another chunk out of my foot.

As I looked around the beach I could see all of the other corpses had started to move, or at least squirm. Whilst I was distracted by the horrifying spectacle before me, a zombie octopus’ tentacle wrapped itself around my foot and sent me head first into that filthy sand. Dozens of other monsters then started to crawl their way towards me. Crabs, small sharks, and a jelly fish like creature, all decaying, all squirming. I tried to get back up, but the octopus wrapped another tentacle around my throat and pinned me to the beach. I tried to pull free, but its strength was immense. A few more sharks started to nip at my arms and feet, whilst the crabs crawled over my face. One of the crabs tried to stick its claw down my throat and rip my tongue out, but I manage to wrestle one arm free from the Sharks and pulled it off, though the little bastard then grabbed onto my thumb and very nearly pulled it off instead. I thought I was done for when I saw a much larger zombie shark, it must have been about five feet long slide along the beach on its belly towards my throat. It could easily have taken my head clean off with those chompers, but Sophia saved me by impaling the octopus holding me down through the head with a silver knife. I jumped up, with some of the crabs and smaller sharks still holding onto my legs and arms. I pulled them all off, though in the process the little bastards took whatever it was they were holding with them. At least I didn’t lose any fingers or toes, but it hurt like hell. Well maybe not quite as much as the portal to that actual hell dimension, but it was a lot more disgusting.

The rest of the gang meanwhile had their hands full with the slime monsters. They were throwing all the weapons they had at them, silver knives, wooden stakes, but none of it was working. In fact as soon as one of their weapons touched one of the monsters, it was sucked into it, just like the witch had been. Those monsters were like black holes that would just consume everything they touched. I got to test that theory when one of the abominations zeroed in on me. I call out for help, but sadly none of the rest of the team were able to respond. They were all doing their best to not be absorbed by those monsters themselves. With no other choice I picked the large shark that just a minute or so earlier looked set to take my head off with both hands and I threw it into the slime beast. Unlike the witch, the shark didn’t go down so easily. It appeared to swim about inside the slime monster and even poked its head back through and clamped its jaws around the Demons head, before finally disappearing into the larger abomination. Whilst I was distracted by the spectacle another smaller shark clamped its jaws around my foot. I pulled him off, losing a chunk of my foot in the process, though when I held him up by his tail, he swung back round and bit my arm again. I was only too happy to throw the little bastard into the monster after that.

Unfortunately as I tried to throw more zombies in, they seemingly got wise to my idea and started to flee. In desperation I tried to run to the boat, but three more of the slime beasts came crawling out of the water in front of me.

Just as all hope seemed lost the witch suddenly crawled her way back out of the monster that had consumed her. She had managed to absorb parts of the creature into herself, creating a temporary, but extremely frail body. That wasn’t her plan all along. These monsters as she later explained, belonged to a group of ocean dwelling demons, who were normally her servants. She used them and the Zombies on the beach to guard her island and prevent any souls from escaping her hell. However she had been trapped in that dimension for so long, the beasts now had difficulty telling her apart from any random prisoner.

Still she had at least turned the tables on the monster that ate her and drained it of its life force, leaving it nothing more than a puddle of green sludge on the beach.

With her new, squishy body that allowed her to use more of her powers for a short while, she blasted her way through the demons and led us to her ship which soon made its way through the fog. Outside the fog it was still bright daylight outside and the ocean looked rather lovely. Though I kept expecting some kind of giant Shark or serpent monster to come leaping out and try and eat us.

When I looked back to see the island it was gone. It was obviously part of the spell. The witch said that no one she didn’t want could enter the island, though apparently the spell wasn’t full proof, hence the security system and sometimes ships would inadvertently pass through the forcefield and end up on that godforsaken monster beach. I can only shudder to think of the poor sailors who stumbled into that hell hole unaware

The witch meanwhile spent the whole journey trying to keep her new body together. For the most part she looked normal, but her skin started dripping in certain places.

“This is only temporary. When we get back to my castle I’ll have a new body in.” Before she could finish Sophia slapped cuffs around her, which bore a strange symbol, that was designed to hold ghosts and would keep her trapped in her body. Fortunately for us, as a spectre she didn’t have enough power to break them.

“What treachery is this.” The witch said, yelling so loudly that he whole neck began to sack until she put it back into place.

“This is to make sure that you don’t go off half cocked trying to take down the Blue Devil’s minions. We don’t know how many of them there are or how powerful they are.” O’Brien explained.

“I can reach my castle in no time. At full power I could blast those puny bloodsuckers away to nothing.” The witch protested.

“Well last time you lost. Badly to them. Hence why they pushed you back to that godforsaken island. Besides we don’t like you anyway.” O’Brien said before walking away.

The witch stopped the boat in its tracks as it had been powered by a spell of hers, but fortunately Sophia, O’Brien and the others did not back down and after a few minutes the witch gave in and started the boat up again. She simply had no choice and the longer she waited her in an unstable body, the bigger the danger that it would collapse, and she was barely struggling to keep her spirit without a body from falling back into that hell. She gave in to their demands for now, but was adamant that she would easily escape from them soon.

Eventually we reached Port Patrick. The Scathaech organisation always had a special room reserved in the hotel overlooking the bay. We could use it until their reinforcements arrived. I loved Port Patrick personally, but sadly I was given the task of babysitting the witch. Sophia, rightfully felt the vampires would be able to track the witches presence and would be here soon. Fortunately the room, at least Sophia assured me was warded against vampires. The entire grounds of the hotel were in fact. Still that didn’t mean that the vampires wouldn’t try and cause havoc in Port Patrick to draw us out and Sophia wanted to be ready for them.

Port Patrick

Unfortunately however the vampires sent one of their strongest minions to attack Port Patrick. A white wolvron. This beast was the offspring of two werewolves, born when the female was in wolf form. They looked like nine foot tall bipedal wolves with snow white fur and a more twisted, demonic, but still human face, though they were completely devoid of any humanity in terms of personality. They were savage, vicious animals who killed without reason. According to Sophia, they were also still capable of taking a kind of perverse pleasure in torturing their victims and they were also fiercely loyal to vampires. Contrary to what many of us have been told in the media. Vampires and werewolves are not sworn enemies. In fact ironically werewolves are among the few species that vampires don’t instantly view as as trash or food.

This is because the creator of the werewolf race, was a loyal follower of Khastran, the father of the vampires, creating a bond between them. Whilst some werewolves who retain their humanity do have a problem working with vampires, because you know they’re homicidal bastards. Wolvrons who have no humanity at all make the perfect pets and foot soldiers for vamps.

I was lucky enough to be spared an encounter with the Wolvron at least at first. The vamps let it loose in Port Patrick, in another display of how bold they were becoming. O’Brien and Sophia instantly rushed down to the village to try and help, whilst James and Elizabeth searched any nearby areas for vampires.

Sophia told me that going in, they knew they couldn’t prevent any casualties. The best these two professional monster hunters could hope for would be be to try and distract the wolf demon and lure it away from the village. They certainly couldn’t kill it. Only decapitation or fire could destroy a wolvron, and it would take a lot of fire to do that, whilst their flesh could only be pierced with a weapon made of silver, or the claws of the strongest earthly demons.

The Wolvron had already killed about six people before the two hunters arrived. Every time the mass of fleeing people tried to escape one way, the wolf would descend and chase them back the way they came. Sadly when Sophia and O’Brien arrived, it didn’t make much difference. Even though they only had silver bullets, the monster was a lot faster than its 900 pound body would suggest and they weren’t able to land a hit on it. The monster enjoyed toying with them and all of its victims by swooping down and picking them off slowly. The first two it killed in front of Sophia and O’Brien were a young couple. It stabbed its clawed hands through their spines, breaking them in half, and then lifted their corpses up and used them as shields to protect itself from Sophie and O’Brien’s barrage of bullets, before fleeing. Less than a minute later the monsters next victim was an old man that had struggled to try and get into a nearby cafe through the crowd, hoping he’d be safe indoors. The wolf however grabbed him from above just as he reached the entrance and took him to the top of the cafe where it ripped him apart in front of the whole village, before throwing several pieces into the panicing crowd, all of which it did whilst easily dodging its enemies bullets. It’s next victim meanwhile, a young woman who was closer to the bay, it jumped over 70 feet towards and clamped its jaws around her entire head which it then crushed it to pulp. It then landed on a crowd of young teenagers, about five or so of them who it completely tore to pieces. Arms and legs and other body parts just flew into the crowd and the hunters before the beast again seemingly vanished into the sky.

O’Brien and Sophia stayed close together. I mean really close together, like back to back as the monster continued to toy with them. Sadly however the beast still managed to catch them unaware and knock both monster busters to the ground. Fortunately however, O’Brien who had held onto his gun was able to fire six rounds of silver bullets into the wolvron’s chest as it lunged towards him. It didn’t kill the monster, but it was enough to make it shriek in pain and stop for a few seconds, after which Sophia shot another five or so rounds into the beast. Not used to pain of any kind, the wolf monster fled, but just before it did, it grabbed hold of a civilian named Jonathan. Holding him up as a shield to the hunters who held their fire, the monster then ran its claws down his chest before seemingly vanishing.

Unfortunately as soon as she was sure the wolf was gone for good this time, Sophia shot Jonathan in the head. Those who white wolvrons bite or scratch transform into dark wolvrons themselves, though those who are created via infection are always less powerful than those who are born wolvrons. Furthermore, those who are created by infection can only transform others into dark wolvrons who are smaller and considerably less powerful.

Still either way there was no cure for this strain of the poison of lycanthropy, and unlike other breeds of werewolf, when a person becomes a wolvron they remained the wolf all the time. Jonathan would have died anyway and Sophia couldn’t take any chances. Like many demonic infections, including vampirism. The curse of Lycanthropy can be unpredictable in how long it takes to infect the victim. Sometimes it can be days (though its always within a week.) Other times it can be hours, and sometimes there have been cases of people changing within only a few minutes. Sophia couldn’t let any more of these creatures loose in Port Patrick. Sadly however and not surprisingly, the rest of the locals who witnessed the gruesome sight didn’t see it that way and they instantly surrounded both Sophia and O’Brien. Since their explanation probably wouldn’t have been believed, even with what they saw. O’Brien fired his guns into the sky scattering the crowd. Unfortunately however they couldn’t make it back to the hotel as the police soon cut them off and with nowhere else to go, Sophia and O’Brien were forced to jump into the harbour and swim to safety.

This had been part of the vampires plan however. They had ordered their dog to not only attack a crowded area to draw any hunters out, but to infect someone, knowing that even if the wolf didn’t get all of the hunters, the survivors would be forced to kill the infected in public. Whilst the bloodsuckers may have been acting more boldly than ever before, at the same they hadn’t lost any of their craftiness either.

Meanwhile back in the hotel I did my best to try and strike up a conversation with my captive. Though to be honest in a way we were both captives.

I tried to amaze the witch with examples of modern technology but A/ she knew about them, as ironically some of the demons who had been torturing her for years had enjoyed them. (With one of her demon captors being a big fan of the tv show Gladiators in particular.)

Still I was at least able to find out the witch’s name. It was Higressa. I was also able to find out a tiny bit about her past and what made her tick. To be honest I think she just wanted to rant about all the injustices she felt she had suffered. I’m not saying that being locked up in a hell dimension for hundreds of years isn’t a horrible thing to happen to anyone, but let’s just say she pushed the limits of my sympathy.

It was quite fascinating in a way how she talked about how slaughtering people the same way I would about what I had for breakfast, whilst even the slightest thing that happened to her was told with such unbelievable self pity.

Apparently she was once the Roman empire’s leading expert on black magic, and had even helped design weapons used in the Trajan wars. She was also responsible for casting one of the blackest spells over Scotland as a revenge for it resisting Roman rule. Her spell was so strong that it very nearly dragged the country into a hell dimension.

This action horrified the Emperor Hadrian, who had succeeded Trajan and who had made a concentrated effort to conquer Scotland, not just for the good of the empire, but to take care of the supernatural creatures who had made it their home. Higressa’s actions were designed to take us and the demons out completely in one blast. I guess however she overestimated her sway over the Emperor and the fact that she had committed this war crime, and failed to eliminate Rome’s enemies at the same time, (either Scots or demons) just made the members of the senate who had secretly backed her betray the witch.

She was ironically forced to flee to Scotland to escape. She lost everything. Her family, her coven, who she was forced to abandon, or who betrayed her. She had genuinely believed in the Empire for all of her then 300 year old life and to be cast out from it and erased from its official history was the hardest blow of all. Even more than the torture she endured in that prison. At least that’s what she told me.

It amused me no end the way she kept talking about how if only her spell had worked and Scotland, MY country had been reduced to an uninhabitable rock, then it wouldn’t have gone so badly! I almost felt like shouting to the vampires “she’s here, promise you’ll hurt her real bad.”

In the end she was able to create the nightmarish hell dimension we found her in from the excess dark magic left behind from her weapon, which just made her imprisonment there all the more fitting. Still from what I would later experience about the monster whose minions trapped her spirit in her own hell, the Blue Devil, incredible as it may have seemed, she really was the lesser of two evils!

I’d get an unpleasant reminder of how awful the monsters we were protecting her from were soon when one of them came crashing through our window. It was a totally different type than the ones who had chased me earlier. It had grey, rotting skin, long hair, crooked fangs and black sockets where its eyes should have been. Despite you know not having any eyes it could see us very well, and charged for us. Unfortunately Higressa couldn’t use her magics to fight it off, as they were all being used to hold her together. Instead, she pushed me into the vampires arms and ran like hell out of the room. And to think I let her moan on for ages about how hard it was that she failed to carry out a genocide on my people?

The vampire however luckily for me just tossed me aside and went after its main target. It took me a few seconds to work up the courage to follow it and even when I did I hoped that it would be so fast I wouldn’t be able to catch up to it. At least this way I wouldn’t look as cowardly as I actually was I thought.

I picked up a stake (I wasn’t even sure if that was lethal to this breed) as well as a gun loaded with silver bullets, that had crosses carved into them, and headed out down the hallway. Surprisingly no one else had been alerted from their rooms by the noise, though downstairs I soon heard some screaming as the melting woman and the vampire pushed past people in the lobby.

When I got outside however I could see the vampire and the witch facing each other. Her body was already beginning to break off into bits of slime on the floor, but the vampire at least seemed to tread more carefully in case she had any more tricks left. In a few seconds however a prehistoric, flying reptile, like a Pteranodon suddenly swooped down and grabbed Hegressa in its talons. Its wingspan must have been over forty feet and its skin was bright green and scaly, again signs that it must have been brought back with crude magics as real Pterosaurs were furry and in Pteranodon’s case a lot smaller!

The animal picked Hegressa up as though were a child, but the flesh she had made from the Demon’s slime soon dripped through the flying reptiles claws, until eventually her entire body melted into nothing more than a huge, really, really disgusting puddle of slime on the floor.

However the Pterosaur, somehow still held onto her spirit with its claws. She tried to pull free as best she could, but the winged horrors grip appeared to be too strong and it flew away with her over Port Patrick.

The vampire meanwhile turned his attention towards me. I shot him twice in the chest, but it did nothing. Thinking quickly I ran to the beach as I didn’t want to drag him back to the hotel where innocent people could be caught in the crossfire. (So much for the hotel being vampire proof.)

On the beach below however I saw a young family, who had retreated to escape the commotion with the Wolvron above. The vampire naturally seemed to pay more attention to them, roaring and slabbering in their direction, so this time I shot him in the kneecaps. He collapsed to the floor in pain at least right in front of the cliff we had both just climbed down. It was then I got an idea. I needed to at least try and get this stake through his heart as it was the only real weapon I had, but obviously there was no way I could overpower him, so I decided to shoot at the rocks on the cliff behind, whilst he was on his knees.

The blasts from the gun were strong enough to create huge boulders which after enough shots buried the vampire and trapped him. It wouldn’t hold the demon for long, so I took my chance and rammed the stake into his chest. Sadly it wasn’t as easy as they make it out in the movies. I had to hit it several times with the butt of my gun and eventually one of the heaviest of the boulders I could lift. I managed to hammer it through his heart just as he had pushed the largest boulder away from his right arm.

Fortunately this was lethal to this breed of vampire unlike the silver bullets and he soon crumbled into a tiny pile of ash on the floor.

The family were in complete shock, and I didn’t bother to explain it to them. Who knows maybe they’d have been open minded and would have become among the greatest vampire killers of all time if I’d shared the truth, but in hindsight I think it was probably better to get the hell out of there.

I crawled back up the cliff and ran into the hotel. I couldn’t believe I’d actually taken the life of something. Even a vampire. Just before it crumbled to dust there was a look on its face, as though for a moment I could get a glimpse of the person it had been when it was a human. The line between the human they once were and the Demon they have become can get blurry depending on the breed, at least according to O’Brien. Maybe in that moment the man came alive one last time as the beast lost its control. I don’t know, but that look will stay with me. Somewhat disturbingly I’ve already found it gets easier to take a life. Since then I’ve killed another four vampires and I’ve never experienced anything like the first one. Hell I even made a little joke after the fourth staking. I don’t have any regrets over my actions though. Had I not staked that monster he would have killed me and the family and god knows who else for fun. I just hope that I’m not too quick to jump in there with a stake in future, given how easy I apparently find it.

I waited in the hotel for the next 20 minutes or so trying to contact any of the team. It was absolute chaos down in Port Patrick as the authorities struggled to keep everybody in line. James and Elizabeth were the first to respond to me. Whilst they hadn’t found any vampires, they’d had a run in with another Pterosaur. A red, from the sound of things Rhamphoryincus that was similarly oversized. They had not only managed to shoot it, but tossed its corpse into the sea. A pity as I would have liked to have seen it, but still I told them that the hotel wasn’t safe. They later told me, based on my description, that the vampire that had entered the hotel came from a fairly rare breed that prior to today had last been seen in Scotland over 100 years ago. It like the others had arrived here to help the Blue Devil’s resurrection. Sadly due to its rarity, they hadn’t been able to gather data on what magics could harm it, allowing the bloodsucker to slip through their defences.

James and Elizabeth naturally didn’t want to take anymore chances and they met up with me outside of Port Patrick, making sure I brought plenty of weapons from the hotel first. All the while they continued to try to contact O’Brien and Sophia, who eventually did respond, after they’d both managed to swim to safety and settled back in Glenluse.

When we met up, Sophia revealed that one of the bullets she shot into the wolvron had come equipped with magics that could allow them to track it. She always kept one of them in her rounds in case her gun didn’t work.

The wolvron had retreated back to Morton Castle presumably with its vampire masters. With no other choice, we were forced to steal a car, as it was too long on foot and time was of the essence. To be clear I didn’t hotwire the car in case they ever figure out who did it! O’Brien promised that he would pay back whosever car it was.

Morton castle

Anyway once we reached Morton Castle, the vampires who could go out in the daylight soon emerged to confront us. This breed were hideous, green skinned, bat like creatures. According to O’Brien they were common in Norway, but almost unheard of in Scotland. Vampires from all over the world really were coming to witness the Blue Devil’s resurrection. They ended up being the least of our problems however as a giant Dinosaur soon emerged from the lake by castle Morton.

It didn’t look like any Dinosaur I’d ever seen, either in a museum or in the Great Caradon’s garden.

For one thing it was bigger. It was over 70 feet tall and stood completely erect, like a Kangeroo and dragged its tail along the ground. Its skin meanwhile was chalk white, whilst its eyes were bright red. Its roar on the other hand sounded almost a snake hissing and a bird screeching at the same time! I’d later learn that this monster was known as a Vyrkosaurus Rex “undead lizard king.” It was a Tyrannosaurus that had been brought back via magics, but deliberately tampered with to be larger and more powerful. Vampires revered and worshipped the Tyrannosaurus Rex most of all. To be fair we all do. I know it’s the most boring and predictable answer you could give, but they’ve always been my favourite Dinosaur. Still in the vampires case it was because Khastran, the Demon who created all vampire species was possessing the body of a Tyrannosaurus Rex when he did so.

The magic used to create the Vyrkosaurus however was unstable and dangerous, even for vampires and so these creatures were very rare. Again it said a lot about how much the vampires looked up to the Blue Devil that a Vyrkosaurus was here. It had been brought by a vampire king of a region in South America who had used the Vyrkosaurus to stamp out opposition for decades. He had also been the owner of the two Pterosaurs that had attacked Port Patrick.

Despite the fact that we were literally ants to the undead reptile it still went for us above all else. Vyrkosaurs are completely and utterly loyal to their vampire masters after all.

With one swing of its enormous tail, the Dinosaur sent our little car flying through the air before O’Brien could reverse. The Dinosaur didn’t even do us the courtesy of trying to eat us. Instead it simply placed its giant foot on top of our car and slowly started to crush it while we were inside.

As I struggled to crawl free from the roof of the car coming down on me I could hear those hideous bat like creatures cackling in the background.

Help came in the form of the Great Caradon himself, who burst out of the ground from under the Dinosaur, knocking it off balance, though thankfully not on top of us.

The giant shark man had been monitoring our progress for some time and had hoped he wouldn’t have to interfere, but evidently he didn’t have too much faith in us to escape from that sticky situation it would seem. Not that I had a problem with that.

The shark man picked our car up, ripped it open and gave us a quick scolding for being useless before telling us to stop the resurrection which was almost complete.

He also gave us help in the form of twelve of his Raptors who emerged from the hole in the ground he had come through. The Dinosaurs instantly started to attack the vampires.

Meanwhile the Vyrkosaurus started to engage the Great Caradon in a truly brutal fight. The shark man seemed to have the upper hand at first, tripping the Dinosaur up and delivering a flurry of punches to its stomach, but the giant reptile was seemingly able to shrug off the shark man’s attacks and delivered a devastating kick to the Caradon’s chest which sent him flying about 50 feet into the lake. It was obvious who was stronger between them, but we didn’t have time to worry about the Great Caradon now as ungrateful as that may have sounded.

We made our way into the castle with six of the Raptors, as the others were too busy fighting off the vampires, though as more vampires of numerous different breeds descended on us, five of the Raptors were soon distracted battling the bloodsuckers leaving us with just one of the Dinosaurs before we even reached the second floor.

As soon as we made our way to the next level of the castle we were set upon by a hideous white skinned, red eyed vampire, that I am told is known as the Nosferatu breed. One bite from these creatures and you are placed under their thrall for good. Fortunately however, James took care of it with a splash of holy water, which caused the bloodsucker to retreat, though before it could, the Raptor pounced on the vampire, causing both to go tumbling backwards down the stairs.

Before we could help the Raptor however, several more vampires emerged from down the hall and surrounded us. They all belonged to different breeds. One had no eyes, yellowish, orange skin, wore no clothes and had a mouth full of razor sharp teeth too big to fit in its mouth. Incredibly enough, it wasn’t even the most repulsive looking one there! Another was bloated, had green slimy, dripping skin, three black eyes like a shark on its forehead, another three that were yellow with a red pupil each, on its stomach and four arms. When I say it was bloated I don’t mean he was overweight. I’d never be that judgemental, just to be clear. I mean that literally every single part of his body, from his fingers to his nose, to his stomach, to his teeth were about three times the size of a normal person. It wasn’t simply that the creature was giant either. It honestly looked swollen and puffy. Another vampire meanwhile walked on all fours, with a row of spikes down its back and a long, serpentine neck, which the spikes also ran down, with a small oval shaped head and a tuft of yellow hair at the back, two yellow eyes with no pupil, and long, almost silver teeth, fixed into a permanent hideous grin.

Finally the largest there, that appeared to be in charge stood over 7 feet tall and had an incredibly muscular body that was covered in what looked like hair. (In actual fact it was feathers.) Whilst his hands looked more like the talons of a bird of prey, whilst his face was scaly like a reptile, though he had no lips, whilst his long fans retracted from an otherwise toothless mouth that slabbered constantly.

I think it’s safe to say that these types of vampire didn’t ever recruit willing people. Sophia was the first to defend herself, throwing a strange chemical over the feathered vampire that made his skin boil.

Meanwhile James and Elizabeth tried to attack the others with stakes, whilst O’Brien held off the serpent vampire with a silver sword.

I quite naturally stood on the sides. I’d have just made things worse had I jumped in, though I did at least provide a distraction of sorts when the serpent necked vampire knocked the sword out of O’Brien’s hands. I tried to tackle it like I had done to the vampire near Wigtown, but he was too fast for me and managed to wrap his neck around me like a snake. Up above I could see him open his jaws, wider than my entire head, but luckily O’Brien seized his chance and sliced straight through the vampires neck.

He then asked me if I had been bit and made it very clear that it that thing had sunk its teeth into me he would have killed me straight away, as that breed spreads vampirism through its bite. I knew that it wasn’t an idle threat from what I’d seen outside the Smoking Fish, but to be fair to him he asked me to do the same thing if he was bit too. In a way it was quite flattering that he trusted me to slay him if that ever happened. To me it was the first indication that I was ready to join the team rather than just being the load.

A few seconds later the walls of the castle suddenly came smashing down. Two of the vampires who were exposed to the sun, the feathered vampire and the eyeless bloodsucker instantly burned up, whilst the green skinned brute reached for the shadows just in time, though not without gaining some serious burns.

The great Caradon had been knocked straight through the wall of the castle. For a second I thought he was dead as his body was so cut up, though when I looked outside I could see the Tyrannosaurus was as equally roughed up. The Caradon soon got up and charged at the Dinosaur, causing both to go tumbling back into the woods behind. The Caradon actually managed to life the Dinosaur up over its head for a few minutes before slamming the Dinosaur’s spine down on its knee.

For a second I thought the Dinosaur was dead as it lay there motionless, but when the Caradon move a little closer, the Dinosaur waved its tail in the air and smashed many of the sharks teeth out of its mouth, before tripping it up, after which it then smacked its tail down on the shark several more times.

As much as I would have liked to continue watching the two beasts clash, we had to press on. Two of the Raptors from below joined us. Sadly that was all that seemed to be left of the group downstairs and outside, but they still seemed to be better off than the vampires at least.

We made our way into the main hall where Higressa was bound to an altar. The bloodsuckers had completed the ritual to restore her to life. (If there was one thing vampires seemed to be experts on, it was raising the dead.)

The leader of this gathering of the undead soon morphed from a red skinned, scaly, yellow eyed, bald headed demon into a human form when we arrived. The funny thing was. I knew him, I’d even looked up to him. His name was Lord David MacKenzie and he was a patron of the arts in the Galloway region. I’d even spoken with him during my last visit in Wigtown. The fact that he could assume a human form unlike the other bloodsuckers and therefore blend in with humanity and gain influence in the real world, was clearly how he had managed to gather the resources to put this plan into action. O’Brien would later tell me that the more human looking vampires, though sometimes looked down on as inferior in the modern world were ironically often the leaders of vampire clans and sects. It was all Lord MacKenzie’s plan meanwhile. He had used his resources to find out all he could about the Blue Devil and the old legends of the area, and he had even bought Morton castle a few years back.

There were eight other vampires in total surrounding him, including two more serpentine vampires, two winged vampires, two yellow creatures and two of the green, bloated creatures. They all advanced towards us, whilst the leader assumed his vampire face and prepared to bite Hegressa’s neck. The Raptors tackled the two flying vampires, with one of the Raptors actually managing to jump at a flying vampire whilst it was in mid flight, over twenty feet off the ground!

The other members of my team meanwhile were both cornered by two vampires each, leaving me to face the leader by myself. Well I say face, he didn’t even pay me any attention at first. I couldn’t help but take it as an insult that I wasn’t any kind of threat. I mean I wasn’t, but he didn’t know that for sure.

To save both my pride and the world, I lifted out my gun and fired at the vampire. I hit him twice in the chest and he didn’t even flinch. My third shot however missed and by sheer luck, the bullet fired through the nearest wall of the castle, causing a ray of sunlight to shoot through and catch one of the vampires that was cornering Sophia. Its body instantly caught fire. I then shot more holes in the wall, which scattered the other vampires, apart from the bats. The Raptors however had already dealt with both of them easily, and in the confusion, Sophia freed Hegressa. Unfortunately however the vampires had supressed her bodies ability to harness magics when they resurrected her. She was sure she could break the block, but she would need help to do it.

We headed back down the castle stairs, but on the next floor we were cornered by the white wolvron. I can’t believe I’d forgotten about him, considering he was what we followed here. Our two Raptors jumped on him at once but the monster instantly batted them away, sending one outside of a window to its death, before slowly advancing on us.

We all, including me, fired dozens of rounds at the wolvron, but it was too fast and dodged our shots. Still one of the Raptors seized its chance and jumped on top of the wolvron again and dug its claws into the beasts neck and clamped its jaws around his skull.

We all opened fire at the wolvron whilst it was distracted with the Raptor, hitting it this time and causing it to slump to its knees, however before we could finish the monster, another Raptor emerged from the lower level.

The Dinosaur ran our way and we thought it was going to help its comrade, but instead it jumped at Hegressa. It was over in a second as the Dinosaur crushed her skull in its jaws.

This was the Raptor that had fought with the Nosferatu. The vampire had managed to land a bite on the Raptor in the struggle, allowing it to take control of the Dinosaur.

After all we had went through, vampires, dinosaurs, shark men, seeing our friends, comrades die, literally travelling to hell and back, and it had all been for nothing. Worse all of those people killed to bring this wretched monster back would now be condemned to the vampires hell dimension.

As soon as Higressa was killed the earth, literally began to shake and Morton castle began to crumble.

The wolvron, having been badly wounded jumped through the castle wall, and fled into the woods outside. We soon followed, though we jumped into the lake instead to break our fall.

Only the raptor that had fought with the wolvron appeared to escape the castle besides us and the wolvron. It engaged the Raptor the vampire was controlling in a brief fight before fleeing, with the vampires Raptor subsequently being crushed.

In a matter of minutes not only had Morton’s castle collapsed, but the ground had also begun to open, and the Blue Devil soon crawled out, before it sealed up again!

The Blue Devil stood proudly in the sunlight as a sign of his superiority to the other bloodsuckers.

He was over seven foot tall, incredibly muscular, his skin was bright blue, his hair was long and flowing, his eyes, yellow with no pupil and his fangs were massive and white.

He actually looked more human than some of the other brutes all things considered, but right away you could deal there was something different about him. The other vampires, though cocky when they had their prey trapped, or at least thought they had it trapped, had always deep down seemed like desperate creatures, even to me. They came over less as powerful immortals and more blood rats forced to live in the shadows for most of their miserable existence. The way that first pack almost killed each other just to try and rip my throat out proved that. Clearly they weren’t used to hunting out in the open as much.

The Blue Devil on the other hand, radiated confidence and arrogance. He looked as though he thought of himself as a god who showed no fear of anything. Even the sight of the Great Caradon and the Vyrkosaurus wrestling with each other in the background made him laugh more than anything else.

He spoke, with a loud, booming, deep voice.

“Caledonia, I see nothing has changed in the centuries I’ve been gone.” He said with a smirk at the sight of the two monsters fighting. Suddenly the Raptor that had escaped Morton castle jumped on him, but not only did the Blue Devil not even react when the Raptors sickle like claws dug into his flesh and drew his disgusting yellow blood. He simply batted the Dinosaur away with one hand into the ruins of the castle, with the impact killing the beast stone dead.

Sophie soon shot the Blue Devil in the head and chest in response, but it did about as much to hurt the former vampire king as the Raptors claws had done.

She then threw holy water at the beast which again did nothing but make it laugh, after which she then lifted out a gold knife, which for the first time made the bloodsucker back away a bit.

“You couldn’t hide all of your weaknesses. This changes things now.” Before Sophia could even finish, the Blue Devil, despite his size darted towards Sophia as fast as he could and and grabbed her hand holding the knife. He then literally pulled her arm out of its socket, and stabbed one of his hands through her stomach and literally tore our commander in two.

He then threw her top half into the lake and advanced on us. We all shot at him, but it did nothing, The only thing that stopped him was the the Great Caradon who intervened. Covered in blood and barely standing, the Caradon nevertheless reached out for the blue devil, who not only kept his cool, but roared back at the shark beast, who was soon pulled back by its Dinosaur foe’s tail, that wrapped itself around the Caradon’s throat like a boa constrictor.

We meanwhile all dived below the water in desperation and fear. It’s safe to say that having to swim through Sophia’s blood and entrails has probably put me off swimming for life!

When we went back to the surface, the Blue Devil was gone. I’m guessing that he must have felt we weren’t worth pursuing and had other things to do? Or maybe he realised that it was a good idea to run away from the big shark man? Whatever the case the Great Caradon was now on his last legs. He’d put up a great fight against the Dinosaur, but the vampires pet Tyrannosaur had proven to be just too strong.

It was now playing with the Great Caradon, allowing the shark to barely haul itself up, only to push it back down. Finally growing tired of its game, the Dinosaur placed its foot on the sharks back and prepared to finish him. We all shot at the Dinosaur but it did nothing. Thinking fast, O’Brien used his zippo to light up the tree next to the Dinosaur, which drew its attention.

We then got in front of the Caradon and continued to fire, with O’Brien telling us to aim for the inside of its mouth as no bullets could penetrate its scales. Unfortunately however the giant was faster than he looked and quick as a flash he scooped up Elizabeth in his mouth and swallowed her whole.

James screamed in anguish, as tears filled his eyes. The Dinosaur then swung its massive tail at us. I only narrowly missed it thanks to O’Brien who pushed me down in time.

Poor James however wasn’t fast enough, and the Dinosaurs tail smashed him to a pulp, before nearly coming down on me and O’Brien.

The Tyrannosaur then turned round, jaws open and ready to devour us both. It could have easily chomped us both up at the same time with that frightful set of teeth, but the Caradon having had time to regain his strength, ripped the flaming tree out of the ground and wielded it like a weapon, despite it burning his hands. He smacked the Dinosaur in the face with it three times knocking the giant reptile on its back. The Caradon then used what few teeth it had left to rip a chunk out of the Dinosaurs chest, which it then impaled the still burning tree right through. The Caradon lifted the tree, with the Tyrannosaur on the other end of it, up over its head, whilst the reptillian beast still struggled before slammed the Dinosaur hard onto the ground. The shark finally, with its remaining teeth bit into the Dinosaurs throat, whilst it was writhing and finished its rival off.

The shark man instantly collapsed after that last bit of adrenaline wore off and for a few minutes we thought he was dead before he crawled back towards the hole in the ground he had made and dropped down it, with the hole then vanishing instantly afterwards.

O’Brien and I got out of there as fast as we could before the fire could spread throughout the forest. Thankfully no one else was in the forest at the time. Naturally the Scathaech would have a hard time trying to cover this up. The destruction of a famous castle, a forest fire, and several dead Dinosaurs isn’t easily explained.

After O’Brien returned me home, he told me that someone else would be in touch with me from Scathaech soon. He didn’t think I was in any immediate danger as with the Blue Devil free, the vampires clearly had bigger fish to fry. Still he told me to keep a low profile which I did for the next few weeks.

Things ironically seemed to quieten down after the Blue Devil’s resurrection, or at least I didn’t hear anything for the first week or so. I tried to get on with my life as best I could, but how can you after something like that? Every little jump made me scream, anyone who looked at me for longer than a split milisecond I became terrified that they were a vampire wanting to kill me to keep quiet. Everywhere I went I carried a massive crucifix, that I’d make my friends touch all the time, and I’d also make sure to have a bottle of water blessed every day by the local priest (who fortunately knew the truth.)

The week seemed to go on forever, until finally O’Brien and another agent from Scathaech arrived at my house, to make sure I wouldn’t try and reveal the truth.

O’Brien told me that strangely there had been no sightings of the Blue Devil. There had however been a few sightings of Hegressa’s ghost, showing that she hadn’t gone back to her own wretched hell dimension yet. The Great Caradon meanwhile was still recovering from his fight. He was deeply embarrassed at his performance. All those years in his garden, he really had felt he’d gone soft and was determined to make up for it. Though what that means for us, I don’t know yet.

O’Brien was shocked when I told him I wanted to join Scathaech. I guess he felt based on my performance during this whole debacle that I wasn’t cut out for this life. It was a little hurtful as I had already killed one vampire, and I stopped them from sacrificing Hegressa. Granted that Raptor killed her two minutes later anyway, but that was as much his fault as mine.

The other agent meanwhile was more willing to give me a chance, as the recent vampire attacks had depleted their numbers all over Scotland. I was given a trial run for a few weeks, where we went after a few vampires. It seems not all of them had been killed in the destruction of Morton castle after all. Lord McKenzie was sadly among those who had escaped.

I killed four more vampires during these hunts. One of them had already been taken down by my partner and I just finished him off. Still that seemed to win me some praise as most people don’t have the will to stake a vampire in general. I wonder what that says about me.

After my initial training period was done, it was decided that I was to go to their main office near Aviemore, where the final, more extensive stage of my training would take place. O’Brien sadly wouldn’t be joining me, though given he didn’t think that I was cut out for it, maybe it was for the best. In spite of what he said however, I feel that he had shown great trust in me during our ordeal and I do hope one day I we can work together and he can see I am cut out for this life. O’Brien was sent to their office in Glasgow, which had all but been destroyed by the vampires. Most of their hunters are being sent up to Aviemore in fact, as after a few weeks there has been a sighting of the Blue Devil there. O’Brien was their only senior hunter down in Glasgow to make sure at least someone is manning the post down there. It’s most likely that Blue Devil will be preparing an attack on the main office in Aviemore meanwhile.

Tomorrow I will be moving up to the highlands. My accommodation has been set by Scathaech. I’ve got a nice little chalet just outside of Aviemore. Under normal circumstances I’d be thrilled at going to Aviemore. I used to go there all the time when I was a girl. My parents enjoyed holidays there every new year. I know it’s a cliche, but there really is no better place to spend the new year than the Scottish highlands. Again though as a young un, my favourite part of it wasn’t the beautiful scenery, it was a tacky little amusement park called Santa Claus land. There was one ride on it, the Dinosaur Ride, that was like a haunted house ride where you’d get driven through this dark room with Dinosaurs (obviously) on the wall, roaring. It was just the most thrilling, amazing thing I’d ever seen as a child, I honestly felt like I was seeing real life Dinosaurs. If I went now, I’d probably find it to be either quite tacky, or who knows maybe it would trigger some form of PTSD?

Still clearly this visit to Aviemore won’t be all fun and games. I don’t mind telling whoever reads this, I’m absolutely terrified. I’m still not sure why I’m going, if it really is to explore this new fascinating world, or to save people, or if it’s just to make sure I don’t ever feel as scared and trapped as I did in the first week after that ordeal?

Either way like I said at the beginning. Things are changing. The vampires are moving together for something bigger than even the Blue Devil and I want to be there when it happens.

Scatheach have assured me that should anything ever happen to me, then this will reach my friends and family who I probably won’t be seeing for a long time regardless. (Though you will also be told and threatened if need be not to reveal any of it to the public, not that they’d believe you anyway.) I’m hoping that it won’t come to that, and that perhaps one day you’ll be able to read this when I am still alive.

Whatever the future may hold however, I know that I and all the other agents in Scathaech will give our lives to protect the rest of the world from monsters like the Blue Devil, as Sophia, James and Elizabeth were. Here’s also hoping we can also finally free those trapped in his and that monster Hegressa’s hell dimension too.

Gina: Queen of The Forest: Origin

Some would argue that there is no such thing as a hero. Scratch the surface of any great, inspiring figures life story and you will find the sordid, unsavoury details they’d rather you not know about. From world leaders, to vampire killers, to great artists. All of them are better known for the artificial image built up by their admirers than who they really were. Nobody wants to admit that someone can be both a nasty piece of work and a great writer, that a great war hero also carried out atrocities, or that a champion for the oppressed can still support the other kinds of prejudices of their time.

Perhaps the one exception to this however is Gina, the legendary warrior from the age of Tairos. A woman who became just as notorious as both an ally and enemy to the vile vampire horde. Whose dark past always stayed with her, but who was still able to do great things and prove vital in humanity’s triumph over their vampiric adversaries.

This is the story of how she became ensnared by the undead and how she later not only broke away from them, but became their worst nightmare.

The age of Tairos was both an Eden and a nightmare for humanity. It began 100 years after the earth had been invaded and its surface destroyed by a hostile race of alien monsters known as the Hylexans. These Octopoid like creatures relied on magic rather than science to travel the universe and invade planets. They bombarded our own world with the darkest magics they had gathered on their travels across space. Almost all life on our planet was destroyed or twisted beyond recognition, except for one small island in the most remote place on earth. Point Nemo.

Protected by magics that had been built up over the centuries, the people of Point Nemo would 100 years after the Hylexans bombardment create a spell so powerful it was able to regenerate the entire earth from the Hylexans attack, covering all of the lands in a large beautiful, magical forest. The magic would also restore the oceans that had been reduced to sludge by the Hylexans, turning them into golden waters, teeming with life.

This new magical world would be christened Tairos and it would be populated by the survivors of Point Nemo, though the magic that had brought the world back, would also bring back many of those who were killed in the Hylexan attack, as well as several animals, including even those from before the invasion. Dinosaurs for instance would once again walk the earth, or Tairos as it was now known. (Though not all of them were brought back as they once were, leading to an even greater variety of Dinosaurs than before.)

Unfortunately however the vampire, mankind’s greatest and most relentless predator would soon infest this new paradise. Only one vampire had survived the destruction of the earth and it had been horrifically mutated by the Hylexans magics to the point where it was more than just a regular vampire. For 100 years it stalked the barren wastelands of the earth alone, and insane with rage and bloodlust, until the forests covered the land once more. Using the restorative powers in the magics that had brought life to the planet again, along with the book of Khastran (from which’s pages all vampire races had been created) the last remaining vampire was able to bring other members of his kind back. More than that however, he was also able to control them too, which allowed this monster to unify the vampire race like never before. This vampire would come to be known simply as the Emperor of their kind.

Despite their power and ferocity, the vampires had never been able to form to form a truly united society throughout human history before the Hylexans attack. They had only ever managed to form small settlements and groups, disconnected from each other, due to the fact that they were such selfish, greedy and amoral creatures.

The Emperor however whilst still allowing his followers to think for themselves and control their own actions, could sense whenever one of them would betray him and could stop or even kill them before they tried anything. He couldn’t read their thoughts however. It was more an advanced form of empath reading.

This new vampire army, who became known as the vampire horde, would also bring back and recruit many allies of the vampire race throughout history, such as werewolves, ghouls, and the Turok Han to create the strongest army of demons ever seen in our planets history.

These unholy creatures were sadly more unified than even humanity themselves at this point in its history. After venturing out into the new world they had created, it didn’t take the survivors of Point Nemo long to start the usual infighting over petty differences. It’s sad that the only time we were all truly unified was during our darkest period on Point Nemo.

The survivors of Point Nemo would later scatter across the world, as would the humans who had been revived by the magic, All forming into different communities.

The vampire horde at first struck at the smaller, more isolated towns and villages to rebuild their forces, though they soon became strong enough to attack the larger cities too.

As always the goal of the vampire race was to exterminate humanity, in order to complete their father and creator, the most evil and powerful of all Demons, Khastran’s curse which stated that when his children. The vampires, outnumber humanity, he would live again to take his vengeance on the rest of creation.

Gina was born during a period of Tairos’ history when the larger cities had begun to form alliances with each other. Having finally woken up to the threat the vampire horde represented. Sadly however the alliances were still loose, and many of the larger cities, in an effort to dominate their rivals would keep new weapons and spells to themselves.

Gina and her family meanwhile were born in the city of Drasgaria. Her father, whose name was Gragian, was part of an elite group of witches and warlocks, whose goal was to create the ultimate weapon against the vampire horde using small samples of the Hylexans dark magics that had remained buried deep in the earth.

Their base of operations, or lab, was actually the ruins of an old castle, just outside the city. Gragian, was a very accomplished warlock, who had already been part of the war against the vampires for over 100 years before Gina’s birth. (Thanks to the planets new magical nature the life expectancy on the planet was extended to over 200 years.)

According to the stories he used to tell Gina, he first learned about magic when he was captured by the vampires themselves and placed in one of their death camps. His use of magic ultimately allowed he and his fellow prisoners to escape. Whilst there is no denying that Gragian did free his fellow inmates using magic, it was not where he learned it. In actual fact he had shown both an interest and a talent for the black arts since he was a very young boy. Still this story made his natural talents and skills seem all the more unbelievable and the young Gina (as well as the people of Drasgaria) were happy to buy into it.

Gina’s mother whose name was Taskina meanwhile would have a more significant impact on her, for better and for worse. Taskina, was a great and noble warrior who took part in many prominent battles against the undead. Ironically even though Gragian had played a bigger role in repelling the vampires through the invention of several weapons, Taskina’s exploits always fascinated their daughter more. In all fairness Taskina was actually out there facing the monsters in direct combat, whilst Gragian, other than his time in the camp had been spared the undead’s company up close throughout most of his life.

Whilst they may have competed in trying to impress their daughter, Gragian and Taskina were a genuinely loving couple, and the first five years of their daughters life, despite the ever present threat of the vampires were happy.

Sadly however their peaceful family life would fall apart when Taskina was killed by a pack of vicious Turok Han who had overrun a small settlement. Drasgaria made a point of protecting the smaller settlements, not out of any kind of altruism, but because it felt that by gathering all of the smaller villages together, it could build a bigger army.

This village meanwhile had held out from their help wanting to remain independent, until the vampires brought in the largest group of Turok Han yet against them. The Turok Han were considerably rarer than regular vampires, so much that Taskina had never encountered one of them before. Tragically as a result of this, she and the rest of the soldiers were hopelessly unprepared, overpowered and torn to pieces by the super demons.

Gragian would throw himself into his work after her death, becoming more determined than ever to wipe the horde from the face of Tairos. Sadly however this just led to him becoming more distant and at times somewhat colder to his daughter. He didn’t mean to. He genuinely thought that he was doing the best for her, by not only avenging her mothers death, but helping to create a world where she wouldn’t have to live in constant fear of the threat of the vampires. At the same time however Gina also came down hard on her father, accusing him of being a coward for not going out there and fighting the vampires himself like Taskina. She also came to idolise her mother to a far greater extent than when she was ever alive. The dead do make for better heroes after all as they can’t remind you that they are just people.

Gina became determined to follow in her mothers footsteps and become a warrior in the army, though her father was against it after what had happened to his wife. Sadly however this just led to further clashes between them, and by the time she was 17, Gina and her father were no longer on speaking terms.

Gina arguably got ahead in her military career, more because of who her mother had been than anything else. Whilst she did show some potential, everyone was desperate to work with the daughter of the legendary heroine Taskina. It wasn’t just Gina that had built her mother up into a mythical figure. Taskina along with others killed in the Turok Han attack were held up by Drasgaria as martyrs for the war. It was about the only thing the city could salvage from that crushing defeat.

Sadly however out on the field, Gina’s lack of experience would soon catch up with her. Her first few hunts were successful, as they were targeting small vampire outposts along with a team of professionals.

However on her fifth hunt Gina’s team would be completely overwhelmed by a pack of vampires riding on the backs of Allosaurus’. Vampires had an affinity for Dinosaurs as their creator, Khastran had created their race when he was possessing the body of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

In fact Khastran first crashed onto our planet at the end of the age of the Dinosaurs, after his first body had been destroyed. He then possessed the dead body of a Tyrannosaurus (the largest and most ferocious creature on earth) and devastated the surface of our planet, killing off the Dinosaurs, before taking to the stars again.

65 million years later he would return to our world whilst still possessing the Tyrannosaurus and create the vampire race, before his second and final death.

Dinosaurs were among the few creatures vampires didn’t treat with cruelty. In fact some vampire cults even revered Dinosaurs as holy beasts. That said however, they were still not above using the larger and stronger meat eaters such as Tyrannosaurus, Spinosaurus, Giganotosaurus, and Allosaurus as mounts, and using magic to make them even stronger and more durable.

Gina’s team weren’t prepared for Dinosaurs, having been led to believe the vampire faction were low on resources, and almost all of them were torn apart by the great reptiles.

Gina only survived because she tried to flee rather than fight. It’s always a mistake to show any kind of weakness to vampires. If they think they can make you beg and plead for your life, they will extend your suffering for as long as they can. Gina however, who had never been in such a vulnerable position before wasn’t thinking straight and ran as fast as she could.

Unfortunately however, whilst they may have been over 30 feet long, Allosauruses were fast and agile and one of the beasts soon scooped Gina up in its jaws and brought her back to its vampire masters. The leader of this vampire faction, Clasia, who also commanded over the nearest vampire death camp wanted to keep Gina alive so she could have some fun with her. At the same time however she also thought Gina might have potential. Vampires preferred to turn those who were already broken, twisted, and bitter people as they always made the most effective members of their kind.

Having already seen her greater anger at the vampires due to her mothers death, and her greater cowardice, coupled with her age and strength. Clasia believed that Gina would make an excellent vampire, but she would have to be groomed first.

Gina was taken back to the camp, where she spent a few weeks doing menial labour with the other prisoners. Those the vampires didn’t either feed on or turn, were put to work in the mines, to harness more magic and resources from the earth to aid the war effort.

Within her first week there Gina was already part of an escape plan. It was actually orchestrated by a double agent of the vampires in the mine, who had been promised death by the bloodsuckers if did this for them. Clasia wanted to test Gina’s reaction to something to see if she was fit to be one of them.

During her time in the camp Gina also met and befriended a young boy named Clareska, whose village had been the one Gina’s mother had died defending. An obvious manipulation tactic by the vampires, but one that neither Gina nor Clareska were aware of.

Clareska’s entire family had been killed by the Turok Han too, but he had managed to escape into the wilderness, where he lived the life of a nomad for many years until two years ago when the vampires captured him.

In spite of the torture he had been through, he remained hopeful that the vampires would fail, having seen up close how much more desperate they had become.

Clareska was also able to give Gina some comfort by telling her how her mother really died, in a blaze of glory against a bloodthirsty Turok Han. Granted Gina always felt deep down that he was lying, but it was enough to get her through those long and hard nights.

Eventually after a month or so, Gina and her new band of allies. (Some of whom had even bought into the hype of her being Taskina’s daughter.) Tried to escape, but they got as far as the small patch of forest outside the mine, before one of the vampires pet Dinosaurs, a Triceratops stopped them in their tracks.

Gina however, again thanks to the vampires manipulation was able to flee, as the Triceratops turned its attention towards her allies. Clareska was wounded in the process by the reptiles horns. Rather than try and flee like the last time however, Gina did her best to try and distract the Triceratops and at one point she even tried to drag Clareska to safety. The difference was that she had actually had time to bond with Clareska, unlike her fellow soldiers, who she had a strictly professional relationship with. As a result she saw him as a human, rather than just a tool to use against the vampires and couldn’t leave him.

It was disappointing to say the least for the vampires. They had become thrilled with the idea of the legendary Taskina’s daughter becoming one of their own and had therefore put greater effort into testing her than they had done with most of the others.

Clasia however didn’t give up and she would orchestrate a few more direct tests. First she tried to lock Gina in a room with a Raptor and unarmed, promising her that she would let Gina go if she gave her a signal to murder another prisoner, she had there. A young man. Gina however did not call the vampires bluff, knowing that Clasia was going to a lot of effort to try and break her and therefore would most likely not just let her be devoured. After a few minutes she stopped trying to evade the Raptor, forcing the vampire to intervene. Sadly the male prisoner was killed by Clasia anyway.

Clasia would next try to break Gina by showing her that nobody back home cared that she was missing. Even Gina’s own father who seemingly hadn’t insisted on mounting a rescue mission. Gina had simply been presumed dead and the city had moved on. Gina’s father was of course overwhelmed with grief. In fact so much so he didn’t return to his work, the only thing that had kept him going during his wife’s death, for three years afterwards. He tried to pressure the city into looking for her and even tried to go out himself, but sadly the city didn’t let him, as he was considered too

Clasia however kept this detail, which was easy to do as the city didn’t want the knowledge that they had failed the daughter of Taskina to be known. Sadly as the weeks turned into months and Gina was left to rot, Clasia’s lies seemed more real to Gina and slowly began to break her will.

The vampire however grew impatient and soon resorted to more direct, brutal methods. Specifically a form of dark magic, that could keep its victims alive in the most unspeakable agony which she placed inside Gina’s skin through a device. Even the other superiors in her camp were against it, as they felt this form of magic was too unpredictable, and worse if Gina died during the torture, (when most believed she would given her previous resistance.) It would send an even stronger message against the vampires, that the daughter of Taskina had been able to resist their most advanced torture methods and died a hero.

Still Clasia kept on, and Gina managed to hold out for only one day after which she broke. The pain was unlike anything she had ever experienced before. It cut its way deep into her soul. After the session was over, Gina swore she would do anything she could to resist another bout of torture.

Clasia would first use Gina to infiltrate and destroy a soldiers camp. The device under Gina’s skin which could allow her to activate the black magics whenever she wished, to effectively keep Gina on a leash. Pretending she was an escaped prisoner who was being chased by the vampires, the soldiers took Gina back to their camp, which had been hidden by magics. Unfortunately however Gina was able using a device known as a sencos given to her by the vampires to break the magic defences down and allow the bloodsuckers in. All of the soldiers were butchered in the attack. Gina would be used in as bait in a few more traps for soldiers and even small settlements in the coming months. The vampires would always make sure that there were no survivors from any attack involving Gina so that no one could identify her. They did intend to reveal her eventually to break their enemies, but for now she was in some ways, one of their most useful weapons.

Gina tried to resist a few more times, but she would always be broken by Clasia reactivating the magic inside her.

After one year of betraying her own people, Gina was given her final test by Clasia. It was one thing to set people up for slaughter, but now Gina had to prove that she actually had the stomach for direct murder.

The vampires brought Clareska to her. Along with all of the others who had taken part in Gina’s botched escape attempt (including even their own double agent,) Clareska had been subject to torture at the vampires hands for the last year. Even though the vampires themselves orchestrated the escape attempt as a test, they still wanted to send a message to the rest of their prisoners that none of them should even try. The others had eventually been tortured to death, but Clareska had been kept alive just a bit longer on orders of Clasia herself, for this sick game.

Clasia gave Gina a sword and told her that she would be tortured unless she cut the helpless Clareska open. Gina of course refused and Clasia activated the dark magic within her body. For the first time however, Gina actually fought through the pain. She lifted her sword up and tried to strike Clasia, but the magics were too overwhelming and she soon collapsed before she could even bring her sword down.

“Why put yourself through this suffering?” Clasia taunted.

“This pathetic creature will die no matter what? Look at him? He is already dead. Everything he was, has been broken in our dungeons? Put him out of his misery.”

Indeed Clareska didn’t even seem to react that much to the threat, though when he first saw Gina a small smile came over his lips that had quickly been beaten out of him by Clasia.

Unable to cope with the pain anymore, in desperation Gina plunged the sword straight into Clareska’s stomach and sliced him open.

Clasia, who normally tried to maintain a poised, and dignified stance couldn’t help but burst out laughing, stating.

“Now you are truly fit to be one of us.”

This final act of torture broke Gina mentally. After this she would willingly take part in more traps, and even slaughter some of the human soldiers themselves. In the subsequent five years she worked for the vampire horde, Gina would be responsible for the deaths of over 500 people, directly and indirectly.

She never expressed any joy in her killings, and certainly not any remorse either. In fact she didn’t express emotions of any kind during the entire time she worked with the vampires. The murder of Clareska had made Gina pretty much dead to everything.

Clasia however continued to take a special interest in Gina. She could have turned her at any point, but she saw Gina as a special project and felt that having her serve them as a human would send a better message. Most disturbingly however Clasia began to see herself as a mother figure to Gina. She would regularly try to convince Gina that unlike her father or mother, she would never abandon her and always put Gina above her work. Stating that moulding Gina was her greatest achievement. Sadly after several years, Gina began to see Clasia that way too. Strangely enough the only moments of any kind of emotion Gina would ever show would be the odd bit of affection for her “mummy”. Clasia would also fill Gina’s head with her own twisted philosophy that the vampires were the true heroes. She argued that both vampires and humanity were capable of great evil (hence why neither could form a cohesive society) but that the vampires were honest and could therefore see what their evil was, and that by exploring it to its full potential now, they would understand and be able to control it one day. Humanity meanwhile by denying their true nature would never understand the darkness inside them and would eventually be consumed by it.

Clasia’s “philosophy” was nothing more than a pathetic attempt to try and justify her own sadism. Even before becoming a vampire Clasia had been a cruel and vicious individual. She had been part of a small, but vicious group of petty criminals prior to the Hylexan invasion. After being brought back in the creation of Tairos, she would willingly offer herself up to become a vampire simply to survive. Just as in life, she was nothing more than a lackey at first, but becoming a vampire would unleash Clasia’s more ambitious side, and gradually over the centuries she had risen through the ranks to become one of their most prominent generals, who ran one of their most prominent death camps. The fact that she was allowed to indulge in this sadistic side project with Gina alone, showed how much pull she had in the vampires ranks. Still the vampire queen’s cruel ideology had an effect on the young Gina and helped her sleep at night for the time being.

The only good thing to come from Gina’s time with Clasia was that she was able to learn and master far more advanced fighting techniques from Clasia and the other vampires. Ironically Gina finally became a truly great warrior like she had always wanted, though definitely not in a way she could have imagined. Clasia would also feed Gina magics, which whilst not making her a magical creature, still gave her higher than normal healing capabilities and a greater resistance to magic.

After five years of being groomed by them, the vampires would send Gina to deal with the person she now blamed for all of her misfortune. Her own father.

Gragian had finally returned to work, with his and the other scientists decades of research in harnessing the Hylexans magic having seemingly paid off to some extent.

The bomb they had created with the Hylexans magic was still unstable, and there were fears that this much concentrated Hylexan magic unleashed could have the same affect as before. The vampires however had an advantage through Gina who could be used as a spy, due to her connection with Gragian.

Gina agreed, not just to escape the torture they would have inflicted on her, but because she wanted to make the city of Drasgaria suffer for abandoning her.

Using knowledge her father had given her when she was a little girl, and she had come to visit him at his place of work. Gina was able to infiltrate the castle and tried to steal plans for the weapon. Unfortunately however she was spotted on her way out by none other than her own father. He instantly recognised her and was so overcome with emotion that he burst into tears. Unfortunately however Gina, thinking it was a trick attacked him and tried to flee. Not wanting to lose his daughter a second time. Gragian summoned the security. With no other choice, Gina was forced to flee back to the main room where she had stolen the plans, where she threatened to set the bomb off. In the tense shootout that followed, the bomb was hit by a stray gun. Gina was still able to escape, though not without losing the plans first. Unfortunately however despite their best attempts the scientists were not able to stop the bomb from going off. Not only was the lab consumed, but a good chunk of Drasgaria was too. Thousands of innocent people were slaughtered in the blast, including Gina’s own father, who stayed behind until the last second to try and shut down the bomb. Only one scientist named Mastia escaped from the destruction. Ironically he had been a friend of Gina’s family and had known her growing up. She even considered him to be something of an uncle. He was in many ways just as heartbroken as her father, but that despair soon turned to anger and rage at Gina for betraying her father and he made sure that all of Drasgaria knew who the traitor was.

Gina soon became the most wanted woman in not only Drasgaria, but all the major cities in Tairos that had formed a loose alliance with it. The leaders of Drasgaria had hoped that the Hylexan weapon could better unite the cities and smaller communities by providing them with a weapon that could make a real dent in the vampire war machine.

Now however not only was the weapon gone, but all of the research it had taken decades to build up had vanished with it. A truly devastating loss for the alliance and humanity in general.

Gina’s reputation would soon overshadow that of both her parents. In fact tragically some of the leaders of the alliance would even attempt to denounce her parents, so as to save face. Her mother was rebranded a coward whose successes were all down to other soldiers, whilst her father was even smeared as a traitor who helped Gina sneak her way into the laboratory, much to the protest of Mastia.

Gina had destroyed everything she had ever believed in and was now nothing more than a pawn of the monsters who had that had destroyed her. Sadly however by this stage she either couldn’t see it, or even cared. In fact the only person she thought had her back was the very same demon that had turned her into this.

Gina would continue to help the vampires in direct battles for the next five or so years. Clasia still didn’t turn her, despite facing pressure from above to do so. She was too fascinated in seeing how far she could push Gina.

Unfortunately for Clasia however, a little over ten years after she had first abducted Gina, her “daughter” would finally find a way to be free of the vampire queen’s demonic grasp.

Following the destruction of its weapon and laboratory, Drasgaria had fallen in terms of power and influence. Many of the smaller settlements soon came to other cities, which had finally caught onto Drasgaria’s idea. Without anything else to offer, it soon took a backseat in the alliance. Frequent attacks from Clasia’s death camp further weakened Drasgaria and now the time was right for the bloodsuckers to launch a final attack to destroy the city once and for all.

Surprisingly however the other big cities and civilisations of Tairos would come to Drasgaria’s aid. Not so much out of altruism, but more because they didn’t want the vampires to gain access to the unique samples of the Hylexans magic under the city.

An army was soon assembled to face the vampires. It was made up of people and beasts and even demons who all saw the vampires as a mutual threat. Gina naturally was on the side of her captors, riding on the back of a Triceratops. She proved to be a formidable enemy for the alliance, but on the second day of the battle she was overwhelmed by a horde of soldiers from Drasgaria who were all desperate to make the traitor pay, even more than the vampires.

A pet Tyrannosaurus of the alliance (that had been provided by Dynamos) took care of Gina’s Triceratops, whilst several Drasgarian solders overpowered and captured her. They’d torture Gina for the next day back at their camp, whilst the battle raged on. That night however when more of the vampires were able to come out including Clasia herself. (Not all vampire breeds were vulnerable to the sun, but Clasia’s was.) An attack from vampires allowed Gina to escape her torturers. The bloodsuckers had arrived there specifically to rescue her on Clasia’s orders. It was the first time the vampires had ever been known to try and rescue a human. Clasia herself led the rescue attempt and even cut Gina down from where she had been chained. In the resulting fight however Gina was shot with an arrow by one of her former torturers which caused her to fall off the edge of a cliff and into the river below. Clasia actually responded with grief and took Gina’s torturer and apparent killer back to her camp to make his death last for as long as she possibly could.

In the river below meanwhile Gina wasn’t dead, but she was swept away by the current to several miles away from her former home city. She did her best to try and fight against it, but the current and the wounds from both the arrow and the day of brutal torture overwhelmed Gina.

As she was carried further down the stream, she soon came into contact with a young woman named Shelly who was riding on the back of a Dinosaur. Shelly, much like Gina was an outlaw, albeit for more noble reasons. Still she kept out of the battle up ahead, knowing that the humans would turn on her just as quickly as the vampires. Instead Shelly waited by the side of the battle in case there was anyone who needed help, either a soldier or a civilian if the vampires had triumphed. As soon as she heard Gina screaming she rushed to aid her, but unfortunately Shelly’s attempts to pull Gina free with the help of her Dinosaur (that was still only a child.) Actually distracted Gina and caused her to hit her head on a rock, knocking her out.

Gina’s unconscious body fell face down into the water, and in the time it took Shelly to find and pull her up, she drowned.

Shelly was only able to pull Gina out of the water thanks to tying a rope around her Dinosaur friend who then pulled both of them out. The Dinosaurs advanced speed also allowed it to just keep ahead of the rapids that were pulling Gina down. Shelly would subsequently revive Gina with CPR, though Gina almost immediately fainted again after everything she had been through.

Shelly would then take Gina to some woods nearby. It was too far and too dangerous for Shelly try and make her way home, so she took refuge in a small patch of forest and dressed Gina’s wounds, whilst the Dinosaur kept a watch out. The Dinosaur was a creature known as a Tyrannosaurus Al, a hybrid made from two species of therapod Dinosaur merged together with magic. A Tyrannosaurus Rex and an Allosaurus. These creatures had been created by a city known as Dynamos, one of the largest and strongest in Tairos. Dynamos specialised in the breeding and creation of Dinosaurs, which it sold to other cities for all kinds of reasons. Defence, food, pets etc. The city also made its Dinosaurs stronger with magic and in some cases even created new types of Dinosaur, with the Al being the strongest and most notable.

Not only did it the Tyrannosaurus Al embody the speed, and agility of an Allosaurus, with the greater strength, durability, intelligence and biting power of a Tyrannosaurus, but the magics that had fused it together also allowed the beast to develop a number of other unique and powerful magical abilities too.

This Al which Shelly had named Jasceria (after the famous Dinosaur trainer of Dynamos and her role model growing up) had been stolen by bandits who had attempted to sell it to the witch king Tyresian. Shelly who had worked in Dynamos biggest Dinosaur breeding farm was kidnapped in trying to defend it and taken to the witch king’s domain, the black woods. She managed to escape, but unfortunately during her time in the woods the Tyrannosaurus Al hatched. Al’s would instantly imprint on the first life form they came across, believing them to be their mothers. The leaders of Dynamos always made sure to be the first to witness an Al hatching for this very reason. However when they were in the woods, it first saw Shelly and came to view her as its mother.

Unfortunately when Shelly returned to Dynamos with the Al, it was viewed as defective by the city’s leaders. An Al can not have a loyalty to anyone but the leaders of the city under Dynamos law. Sadly there was no way to undo the Al’s loyalty to its “mother” and so the leaders not only ordered it destroyed. They also had Shelly arrested for taking control of an Al, who were seen as the pride of Dynamos. Fortunately however as soon as the guards tried to take Shelly away, the Dinosaur intervened and attacked the guards, picked Shelly up and fled from the city. Tyrannosaurus Als were larger due to the magic that created them, and despite being an infant, the Al was already the size of a horse.

Shelly and the Al would be forced to go on the run for many years from their own city and make a new life out in the forest of Tairos. Despite her own people turning on her however. Shelly never became bitter and hateful like Gina. Instead she came to view it as a gift, as here she had been blessed by the loyalty of one of the most ferocious and powerful beasts of Tairos that she could use to offer help to the smaller settlements that were either left out on their own or had become dependent on the larger cities.

Sadly however whilst Shelly’s heart as always was in the right place, she wasn’t the most effective fighter. She had by and large been a spoiled rich girl from one of the most prosperous cities in Tairos and whilst her experience in the black woods had helped bring her out of her comfort bubble to some extent. She was still hopelessly out of her depth when dealing with the vampires and other monsters of Tairos.

Her reputation, other than for stealing the Tyrannosaurus Al was non existent. Still she pressed on, trying to be a hero as she felt she had too, but there were times where she wished she could just go home, where she’d be overwhelmed by the loneliness of it all and there were times she honestly felt like giving up.

Despite the beauty of its woods and oceans, Tairos had a bad habit of crushing the joy and optimism out of even the most pure souls.

When Gina came too the next morning, she initially thought she was being held prisoner again when she saw the Al sleeping by the camp. The traitor slowly prepared to get up, but was still weak and stumbled, waking the Al up. The Dinosaur however simply looked at Gina with curiosity more than anything else before Shelly came back.

“Oh good, glad you’re awake. I was scared you weren’t going to make it last night. What do you remember.” Shelly asked, gently.

Gina felt it had to be a trick. The people from her home city must have captured her again and were trying to get her to betray the vampires.

“I don’t care what you do to me.” Gina snapped back at Shelly.

“I will not betray them. They showed me what this world really is. Vampires, vandals, demons, monsters, beasts, humans none of it matters. They’re all the same. All want to be number 1. You just pick a side. I chose them because they were honest about what they were. They didn’t pretend to be good and virtuous and then abandon me. Let your pet eat me,”

Shelly had absolutely no idea what Gina was talking about. She was never one to keep up with the news, even before she was forced to go on the run, and she actually had never even heard of Gina, despite her status as the most despised woman in Tairos.

“Please I only want to help you. Don’t you remember last night? You were being washed down the river and you hit your head? I pulled you out with the aid of my friend here.” Shelly said as she patted the head of the Al.

Gradually it all started to come back to Gina, the arrow, the fall, the river and the girl shouting to her before she was knocked out. Still Gina had her suspicions, simply because… why on earth would anyone want to help her? It had to be a trick.

As Shelly went to try and help Gina up, the more experienced warrior tripped Shelly and got her in a neck lock, which caused the Al to roar in warning. Shelly however called on the beast to stop.

“Please believe me I am trying to help you.” Shelly said in a more frustrated than scared voice.

“And I should believe you why?” Gina asked.

“My Dinosaur could have torn your guts out by now for one thing if I wanted it.”

Realising she wasn’t getting anywhere, Gina let Shelly go.

“Trust me” Gina said.

“If you were stupid enough to actually rescue me, you better get going. There are a lot of people that want to kill me, and quite frankly you don’t want to meet the people that want to help me either.” Gina said as she struggled to lean against a tree.

“I know you were involved in the battle up there, but don’t worry. My Al has taken down more than a few vampires in his time. If any of them come looking to finish what they started. I’ll protect you.” Shelly said only to be met with a cruel, mocking laughter from Gina.

“First of all, you don’t look like you could defend yourself from a vampire bat, never mind my mother. Second of all the vampires would be here to save me. They’re my family.”

Shelly was taken aback by this. In fact she thought she must have misheard it at first until Gina confirmed it. She had certainly heard stories about vampire wannabes and traitors, but to actually come across one was a different matter. She couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to serve them. She started to walk away slowly from Gina, almost disgusted with herself that she had gone to such lengths to rescue Gina now. However as Shelly slowly made her get away, the trees close by collapsed.

A small pack of four centaurs, three males and one female soon emerged from the broken woods. These creatures were relatives of the cyclops family of beasts. Centaurs were just as the myths had depicted in some ways. Their upper half was humanoid, whilst below the torso resembled a horse. Their skin from the upper half however was purple and scaly, whilst their teeth were long and sharp and overlapped. The monsters also like most Cyclop’s had no speech and simply roared. Much like the Turok Han however, despite their savageness, the beasts were still capable of at least some intelligence and all of them wielded crude weapons. Finally in spite of their somewhat reptillian nature, they did still have hair at the tops of their heads and horse like lower bodies.

Shelly instantly jumped on the back of her Al, and despite her disgust at Gina, she offered to let her come too. She had seen what the centaurs did to people and as far as she was concerned nobody deserved that. Not even a traitor.

Again Gina thought this must be a trick, but the approaching beasts soon convinced her to hop on the Dinosaurs back.

The centaurs chased the Al and the two humans riding on its back for miles deep into the forest and away from the battle. The centaurs had actually fought on the side of Drasgaria against the vampires, but ultimately the bloodsuckers had managed to overwhelm the alliance and finally claim what was left of this city for themselves.

The centaurs had actually been fleeing from the battle up ahead, but after spotting Gina, they were determined to make her pay. Ironically had Shelly and the Al not left with her, the beasts most likely would have happily let them escape. Shelly knew this however, but she still couldn’t leave Gina alone. She also didn’t want to risk a fight given how weak Gina was. Little did she know however Gina was already recovering thanks to Clasia’s magics.

Eventually however whilst fleeing from the centaurs, the Al ran head first into a pack of eleven vampires who were searching the woods for survivors.

“Gina? You’re still alive.” The leader said mockingly before turning its attention to the Al.

“It’ll make a useful mount. The others kill them, except for the girl” It said whilst looking at Shelly.

“She might be useful in other ways.”

The vampires and the centaurs engaged in an absolutely brutal fight. The centaurs kicked the vampires in the face and chest with their hooves and trampled on several of them, whilst the vampires jumped onto the centaurs backs and started to bite into their throats from behind.

The centaurs put up a good fight and even managed to slay four of the vampires, but unfortunately they were outnumbered and in a few minutes the vampires managed to seemingly kill all of the horse like beasts.

Shelly meanwhile tried to get the Al to safety during the middle of the fight, but unfortunately a few of the vampires followed her. The Al did its best to swipe them away with its tail, but the vamps were too crafty and one of them knocked Shelly off of the Dinosaurs back by scaling a nearby tree and then jumping on her from behind, whilst the Dinosaur was distracted. When the Al ran to try and save her, the seven remaining vampires swarmed the Dinosaur causing Gina to fall off it.

The leader of the vampires meanwhile started to toy with Shelly who screamed to Gina for help.

“Please I saved you! Twice! You can’t just leave me.” Shelly screamed.

Sadly that is just exactly what Gina was planning on doing, but as the vampire started to “play” with Shelly, it became too much, even for the caricature of a person Gina had become.

For the first time since before she had stabbed what could have been her only true friend to death. Gina fought back. She pulled the vampire off Shelly and punched him several times in the stomach and then in the face. She expected to be overwhelmed with pain for the next hour. The magical device implanted into her by Clasia would torture her for hours if she even attempted to defend herself from a vampire. Now however for the first time in a decade it wasn’t working. The reason for that as Gina would later discover was because for just a few seconds she was technically dead when she drowned before Shelly revived her. The magic was only designed to work on the living and once her body stopped functioning, its power permanently vanished. Gina was finally free, and a decades worth of repressed rage was soon unleashed on the undead in that moment. Though the vampire leader had only been overpowered at first because it was caught unawares. Gina’s subsequent attacks were so relentless and brutal, she managed to beat the vampire to a bloody heap on the floor, with the bloodsucker even pathetically curling itself up into a tiny ball to avoid further blows.

The other vampires soon turned their attention towards Gina, who fought back viciously, even scratching one of the vampires eyes. Thanks to their superior strength however the vampires soon overpowered her. Fortunately however her distraction gave the Al enough time to swat all six of the vampires with its tail. It then jumped on top of one and completely mauled him with the claws on its feet. As another vampire tried to intervene however the Al caught it in its tail and then proceeded to smash the vampire through a nearby thin tree with it, after which it then impaled the vampire on the broken half of the tree, straight through its heart. The Al then used its tail to wrap it around another vampires throat and squeezed it hard enough to sever the vampires head from its shoulders. It dealt with its final vampire meanwhile by pinning it to the ground with one foot and then wrapped the other around the vamps head, which it squeezed until the vampires head was crushed to pieces. Whilst the Als jaws were its greatest strength, it did not like eating vampires due to their toxic nature. Instinctively Als would always prefer to use other weapons against them.

Gina meanwhile grabbed one of the fallen centaurs clubs and attacked the three remaining vampires. Despite the centaurs superior strength, Gina was more deadly to the vamps as she knew their tricks and skills. She beat all three of them and used the wooden club to stake them, before finally finishing off the vampire she had initially attacked, who had pathetically tried to crawl away from the fight.

With all the bloodsuckers dead, Gina checked on Shelly who was in shock at what this supposed traitor had done.

“Are you some kind of double agent or something?” Shelly asked enthusiastically only for Gina to burst out laughing.

“No, I really am as bad as I said. Worse in fact, but you saved me and I just found out that, well it’s complicated. Come on let’s get out of here before any more of them come looking.”

Suddenly Gina was interrupted by the sound of one of the centaurs groaning. The beast had a massive cut in its torso, but other than that it was okay. When it tried to stand up however it collapsed again and couldn’t even must the strength to lift one of its clubs.

Whilst Gina was all too ready to abandon it, Shelly actually approached the centaur.

“You have got to be kidding me?” Gina asked.

“I helped you didn’t I? If what you said is true, I’d wager he has a lot less blood on his hands.” Shelly responded as she tried to help the animal up.

Shelly wasn’t helping the centaur for entirely altruistic reasons however. According to lore, centaurs despite their utterly savage nature, still had a certain nobility, and would always return favours to those who helped them. Considering how badly Shelly had handled her previous attempts to be a hero, having another supernatural beast in her corner couldn’t help.

Sadly however she didn’t quite have the strength to help the brute up and so Gina intervened.

For the next few hours the foursome marched through the woods. The Al carrying Shelly on its back as always, whilst Gina helped the centaur limp its way through the forest.

Along the way they encountered another pack of vampires, but Gina dealt with them all herself. Getting the others to hide, she lured the vampires away with some calls and then dusted all four of them with her club. She wanted to make sure that no vampire who saw she was still alive and not under their control could return to tell her “mother”. Finally after almost a day of walking, the unlikely companions made their way to Shelly’s home. A small cottage, shielded by magic.

It had been given to her by a witch girl that she, or rather the Al had rescued from a pack of vandals.

Said witch had come from a long and powerful line of wiccas who had operated independently from the big cities. They hoped to provide everyone with knowledge and power to repel the vampire horde. Tragically however they were later wiped out by the bloodsuckers (though many suspected that it was actually an unholy alliance of the vampires and some of the leaders of the big cities, who didn’t want the witches magics to break the small communities dependence on them.)

Either way their last survivor had been targeted by the vandals, but thanks to Shelly’s actions she had escaped with her life and this house was the witches way of paying Shelly back. The witch was confident that it would keep Shelly hidden from most of the horrors of Tairos, but still warned Shelly to always be on her guard. After all her coven also thought they were safe.

Gina, Shelly, and the centaur would recover at the cottage for the next few weeks. The two women however hardly spoke to one another. Gina wasn’t used to being in debt to anyone, whilst Shelly didn’t really want to know the full details to Gina’s life. She still kept hoping that Gina was a double agent of some kind.

Gina spent most of her time training with the centaur. Ironically the beast developed quite a bit of affection for Gina. It even let her ride on its back a few times.

Shelly meanwhile would go out with the Al on a few rescue missions, mostly to help survivors from the war and nearby villages which were being raided by the victorious vampires. As the weeks rolled on Gina would slowly begin to rediscover aspects of her personality that she had completely supressed or even forgotten about thanks to Clasia. Even just small pleasures like her love of reading which she rediscovered through Shelly’s own extensive collection, as well as aspects that she thought or rather hoped were gone for good, such as shame and guilt.

The people of Tairos communicated with each other across vast distances through a special kind of magic that could conjure up a large virtual image, similar to a television or the internet. The image would be conjured up in a small pot which if the right enchantments were said, could allow anyone access to the magical hub. However the pot had to be made of the correct substance and you had to have the correct form of enchantment and ingredients to access each cities hub, with many of the smaller villages cut off.

Fortunately however Shelly did have access to all the right ingredients and so Gina was able to keep in contact with the outside world to some extent whilst hiding away in Shelly’s cottage. She ironically watched the pot as it was known, far more than Shelly ever did.

What Gina saw however would have the greatest affect on her. First she saw the reports of her death. Her former torturer who had shot her over the edge of a cliff was hailed as a hero by the media. Reports came in from some small villages of people dancing in the streets and even parties celebrating her death. Gina had never seen such glee over someone’s death, even from the vampires. Naturally at first she was furious and even tempted to go back to her “mother” to show her enemies that she was still alive. However as time went on and the numerous reports covering her death began to focus on the atrocities she helped carry out. It all finally began to sink in.

She saw the relatives of those who had perished in the numerous raids and battles she had aided the vampires in talk about their pain and loss. She saw the images of the people of her home city that she had killed when she set off her fathers weapon, on the news for the first time. She learned their names when she searched through the pot She knew she shouldn’t for her own sake, but soon couldn’t help herself. Among the most affecting however was an interview she found with Mastia describing how Gina was a greater evil than even the vampires for turning on her own father. She also finally heard from Mastia, how much her father missed her every day, how he tried to find her and finally how if he could see what she had become it would devastate him more than even his wife’s death.

Gina did her best to try and put it out of her mind like she had done so many times before, but now being faced with the reality of her crimes, it began to reach the human side of Gina that the vampires had done their best to destroy. Hatred soon began to burn inside of her for her vile “mother” who had lied to her about her father. The fact that Gina hadn’t instantly gone back to her mother alone was telling, but she kept telling herself it was because she didn’t want to disappoint Clasia at first, but thankfully that poor excuse didn’t last.

Still in spite of this Gina never left the cottage for the entire three weeks. At first it was out of fear, but it soon became more out of shame.

All of that would change however, when Shelly brought home a young man named Aleskia who was bloodied and cut. She and the Al had stumbled upon him being viciously tortured by two vampires. Fortunately the Al killed both of the bloodsuckers, but once the man came too he soon revealed that he and his family, made up of his wife and two children had been fleeing the city, before they were cornered by a pack of vampires. He had bravely tried to fight the bloodsuckers, and had managed to stab the leader of their platoon in the eye before he was overpowered. The leader decided to torture him personally, whilst his family were carted off to Clasia’s vampire camp. Shelly took Aleskia back to her cottage simply to help treat his wounds and give him a place to recover, but sadly there was nothing she could do to help his family. Even she wasn’t fool hardy enough to try and break into a vampire camp. No one had ever managed to escape them baring Gina’s father, but most people would rather forget about him at this stage. Aleskia however wouldn’t accept it and begged Shelly to let him use her Al to break into the camps.

Eventually Gina had to intervene, much to Shelly’s shock and horror. Shelly had told Gina to stay out of sight whenever she brought someone back for obvious reasons. Still this time Gina felt compelled to say something. Maybe it was out of genuine remorse for what she had done? Maybe it was out of anger towards the vampires for turning her into this monster, or maybe it was her own ego, not wanting to be seen as the traitor she had become? Or perhaps it was a combination of all those reasons? Whatever the case Gina decided that she would help free this man’s family and all of the other prisoners from the camp that had created her.

Aleskia however wasn’t happy. In fact he thought it was a trick and tried to attack Gina who easily disarmed him. Gina tried to convince him that she was a victim of the vampires as much, and explained the way they had tortured her into murdering her friend. For the first time in over ten years she actually admitted to Clareska’s murder. Incredibly enough that wasn’t even close to being the worst atrocity she had carried out, but it was in her mind the point of no return. Aleskia however didn’t care. His sister had been among those slaughtered when Gina had destroyed her fathers castle and released the Hylexans magic.

There was nothing Gina could say to defend herself to this man. She simply promised that she would free his family and do all she could to help destroy the evil that she had helped grow stronger over the past ten years.

Shelly meanwhile in contrast to Aleskia had actually felt some sympathy for Gina. Hearing about how she had been dragged from her people and broken by the vampires. Whilst she was still disgusted by Gina’s actions. Unlike almost everyone else in Tairos, she did not hate her and genuinely believed that Gina wanted to change.

Unfortunately however Shelly also didn’t want to take part in Gina’s crusade. Whilst she wasn’t a coward, the vampire camps genuinely terrified her, not just for her sake, but the Al. It was all she had left and she couldn’t bare the thought of it being hurt. A couple of vampires or beasts of vandals were nothing to the Al, but the camp?

Gina however assured Shelly that this wouldn’t be any old attack. She knew the vampires, had access to their magics, knew how they worked, how they functioned. Never had there ever been a traitor in the vampires ranks before. The vampires couldn’t betray each other thanks to the Emperors will and their other human servants were never taken in as deep as Gina had been, thanks to her special relationship with Clasia.

The secrets she could let loose could help set the vampire horde back by centuries. However no city in Tairos would trust her, but by freeing the people of the camp she could perhaps convince them that she was genuine.

For the first time Shelly was forced to face the reality of what her life was, and it was almost too much for her. Aleskia’s grief however finally convinced Shelly to be part of the battle, even if ironically Aleskia himself didn’t trust Gina.

Unfortunately however even with the Al and the centaur, Gina and Shelly would not be enough to take on Clasia. Aleskia was prevented from going on the mission meanwhile by Gina, as he would just end up getting in the way due to his lack of training. He didn’t want to be left out of course, but he soon realised that it would be better for his loved ones if he were.

Unfortunately however allies for Gina and Shelly were in short supply. No one in the cities would trust Gina, but there would be one organisation which might. The Hooded Claw.

This guild of assassins was founded by the vampires sworn enemies, the vandals. The vampires and the vandals had been at war with one another since long before the creation of Tairos. Long before recorded history began in fact. The vandals were created by the sworn arch rival of the father of the vampires, Khastran, which is what started their never ending feud. Despite this however the vandals were ironically among the closest relatives to vampires, with their creator being of the same race of demons as Khastran. The vandals actually shared many weaknesses and powers with their vampire enemies, but a key difference between was that vandals fed on their victims souls with their claws, rather than their blood.

The Hooded Claw despite its name was not just made up of vandals. It also included beasts, monsters, demons of all kind and even human assassins too. Furthermore the Hooded Claw would offer its services to anyone provided they could pay highly enough, though for obvious reasons it did not provide any services to, or employ any vampires.

The money raised from the Hooded Claw’s activities was used to help fund the vandals ever growing empire throughout Tairos, though it was still neither as large or as evil the vampires.

Shelly didn’t think that the Hooded Claw would give Gina the time of day any more than the larger cities would, but fortunately the vandals had a way of knowing if some was telling the truth, that admittedly caused tremendous pain for the person enduring it, but Gina was used to pain by now.

Sure enough as soon as Gina arrived at the guild of the hooded claw alone, she was captured. The head of the guild, the oldest vandal on the planet, had the power to read someone’s soul. Again it wasn’t quite mind reading, but it was an extremely advanced form or soul reading that could tell if someone was lying.

Vandals fed on their victims by stabbing their claws into the victims stomach’s or chests where they would pull their souls out and consume them in their hands. However if they were careful then a vandal could simply use their claws to read a persons soul. Very few vandals had mastered the power however as it was an extremely delicate process. Fortunately however after hundreds of thousands of years existence this vandal had more or less managed it.

It was still the worst agony for the people it was inflicted on, as the vandal was not only cutting into their flesh, but their souls too. Fortunately however Gina survived it (though she had a feeling that the head of the guild kept it going for longer than necessary just to torment her.)

The vandal agreed to help Gina sneak her way into the camp, though there was much disagreement on how. The vandals wanted to launch a full scale attack against the vampires and even threatened to torture Gina into giving them all the information they needed.

However Gina who had come alone, said that she had left all of the secrets with Shelly and that if anything happened to her, then they would be revealed to all of the cities.

Gina did not want a massive full scale attack as she was afraid it would endanger the prisoners who the vampires would all instantly slaughter if they were overpowered. She also felt that a sneak attack would be more successful as the vampires would never see it coming.

Reluctantly, the vandals leader, not wanting to let a golden opportunity to bring down the vampires go, agreed to send five of the guilds best assassins to help Gina and the others.

They included a monster assassin named Krelgarax, who resembled a humanoid with six arms, a snake like lower body instead of legs, a bald head and a single red eye which looked more like a long strip across its face. His teeth meanwhile were large and overlapping and unlike most monsters who had green skin, his was black, with a red stripe down his back and stomach.

Among his powers aside from advanced strength and near indestructability included the ability to fire acid from his mouth.

Another of the assassins meanwhile was a Venusian named Trialex, who was one of the most prominent and long lived assassins in the guild. Unlike many of the others however, he had a code of honour and would never take the lives of those he deemed to be innocent.

The third assassin was a witch named Loressa who was famous for casting some particularly vicious curses and punishments to those who she was chosen to assassinate. She was by far the most despicable and loathsome member of the guild, but Gina wasn’t throwing any stones at that point.

The fourth assassin was a vandal named Fastian, who had more spectral powers than other breeds. Just as with vampires there were many different breeds of vandal. Fastian’s breed could form into mist, walk through walls and make their bodies transcendent, though they couldn’t do so indefinitely, and doing so for too long could leave them weak afterwards.

The fifth and final assassin was a Caradon named Makos. A magical creature that were the combination of a Shark and a human being, with extraordinary powers. He was by far the most violent and unpredictable of the assassins.

Needless to say Shelly was somewhat uncomfortable with the team Gina had assembled and Loressa in particular would have fun tormenting Shelly by letting her know of some of the most gruesome curses she had inflicted on her victims over the years.

Makos meanwhile quickly got rowdy with the Al, with Gina herself having to separate them.

Perhaps not surprisingly Trialex was the most friendly and understanding towards Gina and her new friends. He knew of Gina’s exploits and even told her that at one point he would have happily collected her head, but much like Shelly he believed that she wanted to and was capable of change.

Whilst the assassins may not have been happy with it, Gina was still the leader of the team due to her greater knowledge of the vampires. Gina knew the exact weak points of the camp and where would be the best place to strike. Ironically in much the same way as she had done to the very first allied camp that she had helped Clasia take down, Gina would use magics to counteract the vampires forcefield from within, though she would not bring it all down at once. Not only were the vampires spells too powerful for that, but if that ever happened the vampires first policy would be to slaughter their prisoners to make sure that none of their secrets would get out. Gina instead would weaken the forcefield at certain points from inside to allow the assassins to sneak in.

When Gina arrived at the vampires camp, it was among the few times she saw the vampire queen smile. Gina tried not to let the feelings of genuine affection she had built up towards her phoney “mother” return. It would be so easy for her to fall back into the old habits once she was in the Clasia’s care again, but Gina just kept the memory of people dancing in the streets at the news of her being tortured to death in her head.

Clasia questioned Gina on what had happened to her, but Gina lied stating that she was washed up in the woods and forced to flee from a pack of Raptors for a few days.

Clasia bought it, only because she had no idea her magical shock collar didn’t work on Gina anymore.

Clasia took Gina to see the man who had tortured her and gave her “daughter” a chance at revenge. Gina instantly started to beat him viciously. Hurting someone now sadly coming as naturally to Gina as anything else. After a few minutes however she managed to control herself and stopped, much to Clasia’s surprise and disappointment.

“What is wrong?” Clasia asked sincerely.

“I just eh, I’m a bit tired and he went down too easy. Can I have a minute or two to rest and get more creative with how I’m going to hurt him?” Gina said.

Clasia wasn’t buying it. She hadn’t seen that kind of look on Gina’s face for a long while. It almost looked like remorse.

“Just what did happen to you out there Gina? I hope when they had you prisoner they didn’t help you reconnect with your roots?” Clasia asked.

Gina laughed in response.

“The people who tortured me you mean? Who danced in the streets when they thought I was dead?”

“How did you know they celebrated your death if you were out in the woods for all that time?” Clasia asked.

“I heard it from a soldier I ran into who was angry that I wasn’t dead.”

Clasia still wasn’t buying it however.

“Oh Gina. I want to believe you I really do, but if you weren’t lying, you’d be on the floor by now.” Clasia said as she raised the device she has used to activate Gina’s “collar” many times before. Gina still tried to keep up the bluff, but it was no use.

“Don’t insult my intelligence Gina. I don’t know how they did it, but rest assured. I’ll have another one in you in no time.” Clasia said as she lifted up another glowing sphere.

Gina was terrified of being under Clasia control again. So much so she even lifted a knife out and held it to her own stomach.

“I mean it. I’d rather die than go back to being your slave.” Gina said.

“If that were true you would have killed yourself years ago. You don’t expect me to believe that you would ever put someone else above yourself? I suspect that this little display is more down to your wounded pride than anything else. You can’t stand the fact that I’ve always beaten you. Always broken you and now that you think are free, you’re undoubtedly willing to risk goodness knows how many fools who tried to help you get here’s lives with this suicide mission?” Clasia taunted.

With no other options, Gina fled, but Clasia was too fast and soon caught up to and overpowered her former student. Fortunately however Gina in the ensuing struggle was able to land a lucky blow with her knife straight into Clasia’s eye. The vampire doubled back in pain, and Gina grabbed the glowing orb from her hand which she threw at a nearby wall behind Clasia, breaking it.

The dark magic however created a massive explosion that blew both her and Clasia dozens of feet across the room and soon buried them under masses of rubble. Neither were killed, but both were knocked out and the alarms were soon raised.

Thinking that the vampires had discovered Gina’s ruse, the assassins abandoned her more subtle approach and began to attack the vampires, or rather Makos did.

He made his presence known by bursting out of the ground he had been crawling under, fin first before two vampire guards he dispatched by biting both of their heads off at the same time. Fastian, and Loressa soon came to Makos aid, though not because they wanted to actually help him, just because it gave them a chance to fight.

They made short work of the dozens of vampires that attacked. Loressa turned several of the vampires into bugs and squashed them, though she also turned one vampire into a statue and then another into a hammer which she used to smash the statue before breaking the hammer to pieces. She then turned another vampire into a crucifex which caused his entire body to burn up, though just before it did she used the burning cross to impale three more vampires, causing them to burn up too. Probably her most creative attack however was turning one vampire into a mouse and then another into a hawk that ate him, and then yet another vampire into a Tiger to eat the Hawk, and then another into an Alligator to eat the Tiger, and then another into Grizzly bear who disembowled the Alligator and then finally another into Ceratosaurus who killed the Grizzly and several more vampire soldiers.

Krelegrax and Trialex meanwhile wisely continued a more stealthy approach and made their way towards the mine in the hopes of freeing the prisoners. Krelegrax didn’t actually care one bit about the prisoners, but he was under orders from Gina.

Shelly, the Al and the centaur all searched for Gina. Unlike the others Shelly even if she wouldn’t admit it, was worried about Gina and she used the Al’s keen sense of smell to try and locate the former traitor. Ordinary Tyrannosaurus Rex’s had among the keenest sense of smell of any animal ever to live on the planet.

The Al led them Clasia’s quarters, which were guarded by two white wolvrons. These creatures were the children of two werewolves, born in wolf form. They possessed no humanity and were far stronger than regular werewolves or indeed most species of earthly demon or beast.

There was absolutely no way anyone could hope to sneak past them as their senses were every bit as refined as the Als.

The hybrid Dinosaur shook Shelly off its back and made its presence known to the two wolves with a roar. Both wolvrons then started to circle the little Dinosaur who still stood its ground. Soon the wolves attacked the Dinosaur at the same time, with one going for its neck and the other its tail.

The Al dodged the wolf that went for its neck, though the other wolvron managed to grab its tail. Reacting quickly, the Al delivered a deep bite onto the wolf facing its head’s arm, drawing blood. Its scream briefly distracted the other wolvron to the point where the Al was able to pull its tail free and wrap it around the demonic wolf’s throat. Though even the Al’s tail didn’t have enough strength to break the wolvron’s neck it was still able to choke its enemy to the point where it was knocked out.

The other wolvron meanwhile sunk its fangs into the Als back. With any normal creature, that would have been enough to severe its spinal column in half, but the A’s magical constitution allowed it to persevere, albeit in tremendous agony. Indeed the Dinosaur had never quite felt a force like it, but it continued to bite onto the wolf’s arm and as its bite was so much more powerful than several wolvron’s combined, eventually the white wolf relented and howled in pain, waking up its partner.

The wolvron then used the claws on its other arm to slash at the Dinosaurs face and this time was actually able to make the Dinosaur release its arm, as the reptile was scared of being stabbed in the eye.

The wolvron then tried to further attack the Dinosaur with more scratches to the face, but the Al used its tail to trip the wolvron and then delivered a flurry of quick, but powerful bites to the Wolf’s stomach, disemboweling it in no time.

The other wolvron then charged at the Dinosaur, managing to knock it off balance and pin it to the ground, before delivering a series of furious slashes. The Al however though overwhelmed at first by the barrage of attacks soon pushed through them and used its body weight to knock the wolvon on its back, after which it then latched its jaws around the Wolf’s head. The wolvron fought as hard as it could, but the pressure of the Al’s jaws was just too great and in seconds it punctured through the wolvrons skull, its brain and eventually it crushed the demonic white wolf’s head completely.

The other wolvron meanwhile despite its injuries was not dead. It literally held its guts in place with the arm the Al had torn into. The wolf almost couldn’t figure out what was happening to it. Normally a wound like this, unless it was made of silver, wouldn’t even register for a wolvron as its healing factor would have repaired it. The jaws of the Al however, aside from being tremendously strong also contained dark magic which could affect the majority of supernatural creatures and ensure that the animals jaws could harm them as easily as it could an ordinary animal.

The wolvron’s loyalty to its vampire mother however overrode everything else and the animal made a last, foolish charge at the Al which responded with another whack of its tail, which sent the Wolvron crashing to the ground, with its arm falling away from its guts which fell out of its stomach in the process.

As it lay there in a pool of its own blood and intestines, the Al finished the Wolvron off by wrapping its tail around its throat and choked the life out of the white beast, before letting out a roar of triumph.

Meanwhile Shelly and the Centaur made their way into Clasia’s room, only to see half a dozen or so vampires desperately pulling several pieces of rubble away from her.

Careful not to alert them Shelly and the centaur headed to where Gina, who they could see poking out from under more rubble a few feet away was and tried to help her out.

Gina came too with Shelly’s help. She was burned down one side of her body, but other than that she was okay. Meanwhile Clasia after coming too, soon pushed all o the rubble off herself and instantly headed for Shelly and the centaur, which raised its club in defence

Clasia however easily knocked the beasts club out of his hand and sent the cyclops crashing to the ground with one strike, before turning her attention to Shelly who she grabbed by the throat.

“What did you do to her? How dare you think you can steal my baby away from me! Do you have any idea how long I worked on her?” Clasia said, whilst Gina meanwhile picked up the centaurs club and used it to stake two of Clasia’s vampire lackeys from behind whilst they were distracted laughing at Shelly’s plight.

The other vampires turned to face Gina, but fortunately the cyclops jumped on two of them from behind, and gave the other a slash to the face with its claws which sent him tumbling back onto the the club Gina held out.

Gina then staked the other two while they were pinned under the centaurs legs, before going to face Clasia.

Whilst she was still stronger than Gina, Shelly or the centaur, the blast had weakened Clasia to a greater extent as she had been closer to it.

She held her talons to Shelly’s throat telling Gina to let her go or she would kill her.

For a second Gina attempted to call Clasia’s bluff, but as soon as the vampire Queen drew Shelly’s blood with a shallow cut, Gina put her club down.

“How disappointing. I don’t know what they did to you but.” Before Clasia could finish, the Al suddenly came bursting into the room.

As the Dinosaur closed in on the vampire queen she drew more blood from Shelly, only to be interrupted again by more vampire guards coming up from behind the Al, who instantly went for the Dinosaur.

Seizing her chance, Clasia threw Shelly into Gina and ran out of the room as fast as she could, leaving her guards to be slain by both the Al and the centaur.

Gina instantly ran after her, but soon saw the vampire Queen had fled completely when she got outside.

Sadly Gina didn’t have time to chase her. Her first priority was helping the prisoners escape, including even her former torturer. As he lay there curled up, whimpering and helpless, Gina was still tempted to stick a knife in him, but thankfully she didn’t want to give her mother the satisfaction.

Instead she along with Shelly helped him over the Al’s back as they rode away to help the others.

Down in the mines Kreleg and Trialex had succeeded, after easily disposing of a few vampire guards to shut down the force field that was surrounding the mine where the prisoners were trapped.

Unfortunately however dozens more vampire guards soon arrived to detain them. Armed with magical whips that could cut through their victims bones, the vampires tried to push the mob of already cowed and terrified prisoners back. Kreleg and Trialex did their best to fight the vampires off, but they were soon outnumbered and surrounded.

Fortunately however Gina would come to their rescue. Riding on the back of the Al, along with Shelly, and wielding a silver sword. (A weakness of many breeds of vampire.) Gina rode past the vampires with the Als incredible speed and sliced several of their heads off. The Al’s lightening fast reflexes also allowed her to dodge the vampires whips, whilst Shelly sprayed holy water on several of the vampires, causing them to go up in flames.

Whilst the vampires turned their attention towards Gina, Kreleg and Trialex led the prisoners down the passage way Gina had told them about, though not before she gave them her former torturer and told the two assassins to get him to safety with the others. Trialex would carry him down the tunnel until they reached the end, which was a giant underground lake. Unfortunately it was the home of a Spinosaurus that guarded the lair, but Gina still felt that was the safest way out.

The Spinosaurs that was almost 60 feet long soon rose out of the lake, roaring at the top of its lungs. The vampires regularly fed it people they captured in the forest, but sadly the great reptile was seemingly always hungry, due to the dark magics they infected it with, to make the reptile stronger.

Kreleg was the first to attack the Spinosaurus, spitting acid in the giant Dinosaurs face as it leaned in to bite at them. He managed to hit it in its tongue and near its eye. For the first time in its life, the Spinosaurus actually retreated somewhat, but as Kreleg moved hit the Dinosaur several more times, it began to panic and lunged forward out of the lake. Trialex told Kreleg to stop, but the monster was as arrogant as he was bloodthirsty and kept attacking the Spinosaurus.

The sailbacked Dinosaur fought through the barrage of acid and swiped Kreleg away with one of its claws. Such a blow from the Spinosaurus’ massive claws would have sliced an ordinary human in two, but Kreleg whilst cut was simply thrown across the room.

Unfortunately however Trialex was not quite as durable and was forced to flee from the Spinosaurus. He desperately tried to hurry the prisoners back the way, (with another one of the prisoners carrying Gina’s former torturer) but sadly the Spinosaurus caught up to several at the back. It picked one up in its jaws and swallowed him whole, whilst it sliced a further two in half with its claws and speared another through the torso with its left claw like a fish.

Trialex stabbed the beast in the leg with one of his swords, but its skin was so thick he was only able to make a shallow cut. Still at the very least it distracted the Spinosaurus long enough for the last of the prisoners to make their way back up the tunnel. The Spinosaurus however responded with a kick to Trialex knocking him several feet backwards and breaking his arm in the process.

The Spinosaurus then walked slowly towards it cornered prey. In the three hundred years he had faced demons, vampires, monsters and werewolves, Trialex had never been so terrified as when the 60 foot long reptile stood right in front of him and slowly opened its jaws. Fortunately before it could swallow him whole, Kreleg bombarded the beast with another round of acid, this time hitting it in the tail. The Dinosaur spun round screaming and waving its tail frantically in the air. Kreleg whose claw wound had already healed then jumped through the air and landed on the Spinosaurus’ face. It tried to use its claws to pull him off, but Kreleg was too quick for the Dinosaur and slithered on top of its head, after which he wrapped his tail around its throat and used his six arms to pull the Dinosaurs jaws open. He then started to spit his acid down its throat and onto its tongue. Kreleg’s vicious attacks however didn’t last long as the Spinosaurus used one of its claws to slice his tail off, after which it shut its jaws, cutting off all six of his hands in the process, before he slid off its neck and onto the floor. The Spinosaurus then impaled Kreleg through the stomach with one hand and prepared to slice his head off with the other.

Trialex however intervened, throwing a dagger at the Dinosaurs massive sail, which he realised was its only weak point. Sure enough the dagger cut through the sail and seemed to hurt the Dinosaur more so than even the acid had. Still it didn’t appear to do it any lasting harm. Once again however the Dinosaurs attention was diverted and it pursued Trialex, who wisely didn’t attempt to fight back like Kreleg had.

Kreleg meanwhile limped over to the small lake the Spinosaurus had come from and puked the acidic substance from his stomach into it, until eventually the lake started to boil.

He then waited a few moments for his hands and his tail to grow back, whilst Trialex constantly attempted to dodge the angry Spinosaurus. At one point the beast managed to corner him against a wall, but he was able to escape by bringing his sword down on one of the acid burns on its snout when it moved forward to bite him.

Once Kreleg had recovered he fired another round of acid at the Spinosaurus’ tail and made sure to hit the already existing burn marks. The animal charged at him in response, but as it got near the now bubbling lake it stopped. Clearly it was smarter than he thought.

Both Trialex and Kreleg surrounded the Dinosaur from both sides, with the animal ready to strike in case either of them came near. Trialex responded by throwing another one of his daggers at the Dinosaurs sail again, and whilst it was briefly distracted by the pain, Kreleg jumped onto the Dinosaur and wrapped his tail around its throat again, though this time he spat his acid onto its neck, and jumped down before it could reach him with its claws. The animal then tumbled backwards towards the lake, though it still didn’t fall in. A few blasts of acid towards its stomach which was now exposed as it was leaning upright in order to clutch its throat followed by a few more towards its feet, finally sent it tumbling backwards into the lake of acid.

Kreleg quickly slithered backwards towards Trialex and pushed him to safety out of the way of the acid that splashed when the Spinosaurus fell back into it. Fortunately he managed to get the assassin to safety in time, much to Trialex’s surprise

“Well I owed you one.” The monster said, almost hating having to admit that.

Trialex however still thanked his six armed ally and went to fetch the prisoners from down the tunnel.

Unfortunately however the Spinosaurus wasn’t dead yet. It rose out of the boiling water, its sail having completely melted off, its body covered in burns and one of its eyes having melted out of its skull.

The Dinosaur reached out with its single claw which it impaled through Kreleg’s tail, pining him like a worm on a hook. Before Trialex could even respond it then pulled Kreleg back towards it and bit his torso whilst stabbing its other claw into his chest. The Dinosaur then pulled with both of its claws and ripped Kreleg into three pieces. It then spat out his mid section and scooped up his upper half in its jaws which it also crunched to pieces in its mighty jaws before spitting the mangled remains into the acid bath below.

Much like how the Al felt about the vampires, the Spinosaurus evidently regarded monsters as too toxic to actually eat, but it was still not above using those powerful jaws to crush them to paste!

The giant reptile then lurched awkwardly out of the pool of acid, stepping on the remains of Kreleg’s torso which it crushed into powder. However the Dinosaur only managed to walk a few feet towards Trialex before it collapsed onto the ground.

Trialex had heard about the tremendous power of the Spinosaurus but how the creature could even be alive after a bath in that acid was incredible. He’d seen Kreleg’s acid eat through reinforced steel!

Still it was obvious that even the mighty sail backed predator was finished as it still desperately tried to crawl along the floor. Trialex put the Dinosaur out of its misery with a sword straight between the eyes. It had to stab it in one of Kreleg’s acid burns as that was easier to puncture, but at least within a few seconds the Dinosaur was dead at last.

Trialex then led the prisoners past its corpse and the still twitching remains of Kreleg’s tail which was all that remained of him.

Incredibly and disturbingly enough, Kreleg’s tail was still trying to repair itself and grow into something else. It wouldn’t be able to bring him back however. His people’s healing capabilities were beyond most other creatures to the point where even after death their bodies would still attempt to repair themselves for days afterwards. However once they had actually died that was it.

Trialex didn’t know how to feel. He certainly couldn’t mourn Kreleg. He was a sadistic killer, who had slaughtered scores of innocent people both for profit and his own pleasure. Still he had saved Trialex’s life and so the Venusian gave a simple bow of his head to the acid pool that contained his fellow assassins remains and moved on. The prisoners were out of the mine, but they still had a long way to go.

The centaur meanwhile went to help the other assassins, who were being overwhelmed by the vampires. Despite their superior powers, there were just too many of the bloodsuckers for the assassins to deal with. The vampires didn’t care how many of their comrades died. They’d happily sacrifice themselves as they knew that failure was not an option for Clasia. Sadly when the centaur arrived he wasn’t able to provide much help either.

His brief attack however did distract the vampires long enough for the assassins to slip by the vampire horde, though they all soon found themselves running for their lives.

Despite his power Makos had been gravely wounded, with one of the vampires managing to strike him in the leg, by ironically hiding in the hole in the ground the shark man himself had made.

The wound would heal very quickly, but none of the other assassins wanted to wait around, so the centaur picked Makos up and placed him over its back, before riding away.

Unfortunately however the assassins soon found vampires coming down almost every corridor they tried to flee down. Fastian meanwhile couldn’t simply phase through the walls as the vampires had come prepared for that and indeed any form of spectral invasion with powerful magics that ran throughout the entire base. Eventually the assassins came to a dead end. However there was a hole in the floor, at the very end of this corridor.

Fastian was hesitant to go down for obvious reasons. What could possibly be so horrible that the vampires couldn’t keep it up here.?

Still with no choice the assassins all jumped down. Below was a dark, long tunnel, which led out into a massive cave. With no other choice the assassins marched on ahead, until they came into the cave. They soon saw that it was filled with the remains of humans, demons, beasts and other creatures that had all been butchered, but not by the vampires, by something far worse. The hideous creature that soon made its presence known when it darted out of the tunnel at the other end of the cave. A Reaper!

These bloodsuckers were members of the vampire family of demons, but they were very different to most breeds. Reapers were the result of when several vampires of the Torro breed bite and infect a single human. Torro’s are among the strongest vampires and infect people via a simple bite which also allowed them to be among the most numerous. Clasia belonged to the Torro breed, and they often occupied positions of authority. When several of them infect a human, most of the time, the multiple strands of demonic energy created in the humans body by the bite, that would normally turn the humans soul and body into a vampire. Grow into different demons that fight for control over the body, and literally rip the infected human apart from the inside. Not just their body, but soul too. The multiple demons then die shortly afterwards, assuming they haven’t already killed each other.

A very few times however, the demonic energy is able to form together into a vastly powerful demonic spirit. Essentially a super vampire known as a Reaper. The human soul that would be converted normally is either ripped to pieces or worse it is trapped inside its body in a mangled state, in constant, unspeakable agony, yet unable to move.

Reapers have no higher intelligence. They exist only to hunt and kill and will feed on the blood of anything. Humans, beasts, monsters, demons, magical creatures, and even vampires. In fact some reapers are know to specifically go after regular vampires as their blood made Reapers stronger.

This Reaper was created by Clasia and her cohorts. She had always wanted to have a Reaper as a pet, and sacrificed hundreds of slaves in the mine until she created one. Ultimately however this monster proved to be too wild even for the vampires. Due to the unique nature of their birth, Reapers were the only members of the vampire family that even the Emperor could not control completely. Clasia’s Reaper was therefore used as a mere guard dog below, as there was no way it could actually be used on the field. Still Clasia had carried on trying to create more Reapers ever since, killing hundreds more men and women in the process.

The Reapers did have the power to turn others into members of their own kind. In fact once again they could not only turn humans, but vampires, demons, beasts, and monsters too. This was the main reason Gina wanted the assassins to face the Spinosaurus instead. As dangerous and powerful as the Dinosaur was, the risk of people being infected and more Reapers escaping into Tairos was too great.

In spite of this the assassins foolishly tried to fight the Reaper. It certainly didn’t look imposing. It was relatively short, slight, bald, pale and deathly thin. Its eyes meanwhile were completely white with no pupil or Iris and its head was constantly moving as it moved on all fours towards the assassins.

Makos was the first to make a move, thinking he could easily bite this frail looking creature in half, but when he reached out to pick it up, the Reaper let out a high pitched, deafening roar, as its jaws opened up in a three way leech like pattern. The Reapers tongue then lashed out like a whip against the Caradon, slashing it across the face and knocking it to the floor.

Loressa tried to repel the Reaper with her dark magics, but they had no affect on the Reaper whatsoever. Many species of vampire had a greater immunity to magics than natural creatures and other Demons. Even Loressa was forced to use her strongest curses on the lowly vampires above. The Reaper however in another sign of its superiority was almost completely immune.

Fastian tried to phase through the Reaper, hoping he could solidify his hand inside, but he found that he simply bounced off of the demons skin. Worse when it grabbed onto him, he couldn’t phase again.

Before any of the other assassins could do anything to help him, Reaper, opened its three way leech like jaws and bit Fastian on the neck. Just as a vampire would with a human, it drained him dry in under a minute and tossed his still twitching body to the floor.

Makos soon dived underground, hoping he could attack the Reaper from below, but the super vampire simply reached into the ground and pulled the shark man up with one hand and then used him to swat the centaur away as it tried to attack.

The Reaper then held Makos in place, while it punched out every single one of his giant teeth, after which it picked one of the teeth up and stabbed Makos in the eye with it, bringing the shark creature to its knees. The Reaper then repeatedly stabbed Makos with the tooth all over and sliced his stomach open with it.

Loressa wisely fled back down the tunnel and used her magic to levitate herself back up. The centaur still tried to help Makos as foolish as that was, but the reaper slashed it across the chest with Makos tooth. Before it could inflict anymore damage to the centaur, Makos made one last strike against the super vampire. He jumped it from behind and wrapped his toothless jaws around its head. He hoped that he could swallow the Reaper alive. Whilst he was able to get its torso into his mouth, the reaper soon used one of its arms to push Makos upper jaw back so far it snapped. It then continued to push until it ripped the entire upper section of Makos head clean off, before ripping the rest of the Caradon’s body to pieces.

Whilst the Reaper was in a frenzy, the centaur wisely galloped down the tunnel. Unfortunately when it reached the end, it couldn’t climb back up the walls that were completely smooth.

In desperation the centaur let out a roar for help, but no one answered. The Reaper soon came crawling down the tunnel on all fours, roaring with its three way jaws open and its long tongue licking Makos blood away from its mouth.

The centaur stood its ground, but fortunately before the Reaper could pounce on it, Loressa, surprisingly came to the centaurs defence and lifted it safety above.

Loressa simply didn’t want to face the vampires above alone. Fortunately however for her and the centaur, the bloodsuckers attention had been diverted. Gina and Shelly had fought their way through the vampires in the mine with the help of the Al, but eventually as the entire security force descended on them, they too were forced to flee. Fortunately however Gina knew exactly where to go to. She wanted to leave it long enough until she was sure that the prisoners were out of the mine, and given that no vampires had returned she felt sure that either the prisoners had escaped, or they had been slaughtered. Either way she could now put the next part of her plan into action.

The center of the mine contained the source of the magic that protected the vampires camp from the outside world. The magic however was bound together by a physical object which if shattered would unravel the spell. However it wouldn’t just simply shut the forcefield down. As the magic unravelled it would pull everything in the mine apart. That level of concentrated magic would be enough to destroy even most vampires.

Gina felt it was her and Shelly’s only way of escape ironically as knowing what cowards the vampires were, if the forcefield was destroyed they would instinctively flee, rather than fight. It would take the spell a few minutes to completely unravel and destroy the mine.

Unfortunately however when Gina arrived at the mine she saw that the vampires had regrouped and were guarding the forcefield, with many of them riding on the backs of Raptors and other smaller meat eating Dinosaurs, including the three Allosaurus who had slaughtered Gina’s original platoon and kidnapped her who were at the very back. Gina’s hope that that the assassins could hold them off for long enough had been in vain.

Outside meanwhile Trialex had managed to get the prisoners clear of the camp, but unfortunately they were soon stopped in their tracks by the vampires pet Triceratops. The same animal that had stopped Gina from escaping all those years ago. It killed several of the prisoners and drove the others back the way. Trialex did his best to try and hold off the animal, but the Dinosaur wasn’t buying into his tricks and charged straight at him, impaling the Venusian on one of its horns before tossing him aside onto the forest floor. The famed assassin had learned the hard way why escape from the vampire camps was damn near impossible.

Gina meanwhile desperately tried to think of a way past the vampires, but fortunately she didn’t have too as a distraction soon came in the form of a gigantic and unexpected rogue Dinosaur. A Gyphosaurus.

These creatures were close relatives of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Almost as large, these beasts however were completely covered in feathers. Ironically even more so than any modern bird. Their feet and even their snouts were completely covered in long, thick, feathers, though other than that they had the appearance of a normal Tyrannosaurus Rex, albeit slightly smaller.

This Gryphosaurus was in fact a former vampire commander that Loressa had transformed into a Dinosaur as a distraction. Even though most of the vampires had been drawn to Gina, a few had foolishly remained behind to see if the assassins could have escaped the Reapers cave. Both the centaur and the witch had easily dealt with them, but Loressa had decided to turn the last into a Dinosaur and sent it to the mines. Not to help Gina however. Loressa now simply wanted to escape. The fact was that she was a miserable coward, who had got in way over her head. She knew the only way of escape was through the secret passage in the mine. (The holes in the forcefield that had been already created would have sealed themselves shut by now.)

The Gryphosaurus first drew the attention of the vampires who had been pursuing Gina, and then when they threatened to overwhelm it, the giant avian predator fled down the same mine she had, drawing the attention of the vampires and dinosaurs guarding the forcefield.

The three Allosaurus were the first to attack. Though they were the same size as the Gryphosaurus, they were not as strong. Tyrannosaurs were famous for having stockier builds than those of other theropods. With one smack of its tail the Gryphosaurus sent the leader of the Allosaurus pack backwards into the other two, sending them all crashing to the ground.

Gina couldn’t help but smile at watching the Dinosaur that had helped condemn her to a life time of suffering at the vampires hands, be tossed aside like a child. It was foolish of her of course. The Dinosaurs really had no say in it, being controlled by magics to do the vampires bidding, with the vampires magics also bringing out their most aggressive and brutal traits compared to normal Dinosaurs. Still in this instance Gina let her own petty emotions cloud her mind.

The vampires riding on the backs of the raptors soon began to circle the Gryphosaurus, and though the Dinosaur managed to knock the lead vampire off its raptor with its tail, and then grab the raptor in its jaws and finally crush the vampire under its foot. The other vampires relentlessly struck their giant adversary with their swords, or rather the vam

Gina and Shelly rode on the back of the Al into the pack of Raptors, knocking over three at the one time with its tail, allowing the Gryphosaurus was to push past the remaining Raptors. It in turn however was soon stopped by the leader of the Allosaurus pack who slashed the Gryphosaurus on the snout with its claws.

Whilst the Allosaurus strength was nowhere near that of a Tyrannosaurus, its speed was several times greater and the Allosaur was able to deliver a number of bites and slashes to the Gryphosaurus before the Tyrannosaur could respond.

Whilst the two Dinosaurs were fighting it out Gina did her best to try and make her way past the vampires, but unfortunately the bloodsuckers were still too numerous. With the three Allosaurus having surrounded the Gryphosaurus, Gina and Shelly commanded the Al to attack one of the Allosaurus. The Al leaped through the air, ironically in a similar way to how Allosaurus themselves often did when hunting sauropods and clamped its jaws around the Allosaurus’ neck. The larger Dinosaur screamed in pain and tried to shake the Al off, but the more it struggled, the deeper the Al’s teeth went into the Allosaurus’ neck. (This gruesome feature came from the Tyrannosaurs side of the family as their jaws were not only stronger, but virtually inescapable.)

As the Allosaurus shook violently, both Gina and Shelly fell off the back of the Al and to the ground right in between the leader of the Allosaurus pack and the Gryphosaurus, whose attention was soon taken over by the third Allosaurus.

The alpha of the pack meanwhile focused all of its attention on Gina and Shelly, who tried to run, though Gina held herback. Shelly wasn’t thinking straight anyway as she more than anyone else should have known you can never outrun an Allosaurus. To be fair you couldn’t exactly fight one either which is what Gina was seemingly planning to do.

The Dinosaur stared down this small prey for a short while, almost confused as to why it wasn’t running, before letting out a roar. Gina responded by slashing the Dinosaur in the leg and it soon responded with a kick sending Gina crashing to the ground and seemingly knocking her out. Shelly tried to intervene but the Dinosaur with one swing of its head, knocked her back. The Allosaurus then prepared to scoop Gina up with its jaws, but just as they were about to be close around her torso again, Gina sat up and stabbed her sword into the great reptile’s eye. Before it could even react, she pushed the sword straight into its brain, killing it outright.

Unfortunately however almost all of the vampires had now gathered round Gina, but Shelly bought her the time she needed by tackling one of the vampires that was blocking Gina’s way to the power center. With one strike of her sword Gina smashed the device.

Once again the blast threw her across the room, though not with quite as much force as the torture device. A testament to how dark the magics used for that vile spell were.

In a matter of seconds however, magical beams began to fire from the forcefield generator, which vaporised a few of the vampires it struck.

The Al meanwhile was forced to let go of the larger Allosaurus’ neck by a stray beam, which both Dinosaurs narrowly managed to avoid. The Al then ran towards Shelly and Gina and hoisted them both on its back before fleeing along with the rest of the vampires, and the Allosaurus the Al had attacked.

The other Allosaurus and the Gryphosaurus however remained behind. Both were so caught up in fighting one another that they didn’t even notice what was going on around them.

The Allosaurus put up a great fight, delivering a series of brutal slashes to the Gryphosaurus stomach and throat. The Allosaur tore out the Gryphosaurus’ eye with its claws and bit off one of its arms and even the tip of its tail.

However it only took one lucky bite from the Gryphosaurus on the Allosaurus’ leg, which not only broke it, but allowed the feathered Dinosaur to pull the Allosaurus on its side and deliver a second, lethal bite to the Allosaurus’ stomach.

Unfortunately for the Gryphosaurus however before it devour the Allosaurus, another stray blast of magic from the forcefield hit the ceiling above and buried the feathered Dinosaur under a ton of rubble. The weight of the rocks proved to be too much even for the Dinosaur and as it died, it slowly changed back into the vampire it once was. Transformation spells such as this could still work on some breeds of vampire, but they were never permanent the way they would be on humans. Eventually the curse of Khastran would snap the vampire back to its original form. Still the magic could last for several hours, and the vampire would temporarily lose any supernatural powers it had when it was changed and therefore if it were killed in its new form, it would still die. Ironically in this case, the Dinosaur, which was still a natural creature was killed a lot more easily by the rock fall than the vampire would have been. The bloodsucker regained its memories and persona, mere seconds before it crumbled back to dust. The witch’s curse was as cruel as it was powerful.

Gina and Shelley meanwhile escaped from the camp just as it was consumed by the magics in a large pit of blinding yellow light, though unfortunately so did the majority of the vampires and the Allosaurus itself.

Outside of the camp, the centaur had joined in trying to protect the freeing prisoners from the vampires and had even managed to kill a few vamps with its club. Loressa on the other hand had fled the area completely. Using her magics, Loressa flew hundreds of feet through the air and away from the valley. She wasn’t used to losing and the encounter with the Reaper had shaken her confidence to say the least. The centaur also briefly held off the Triceratops when it tried to finish what it started and trample Trialex who had not died from his previous wound, with the Dinosaur’s horn only narrowly missing his organs. The centaur placed the Venusian assassin on its back and used its club to strike at the Triceratops nose repeatedly any time it got near.

The explosion from the camp however distracted the Triceratops long enough for the centaur to break his club down full force against the Dinosaurs jaw, breaking it.

The animal however was merely enraged and charged at the centaur with greater determination, now not being put off by any of its attacks. The horse like beast was forced to flee, moving so fast it almost dropped Trialex from its back. Fortunately however this allowed Gina a chance, whilst riding on the back of the Al to impale the Triceratops from the side with one of the vampires spears that she had picked up. With the Als greater strength she drove the spear in deep enough to puncture one of the Triceratops organs and slay the beast.

Not long after Gina’s triumph however the ground began to shake. It seems she had underestimated the power of the vampires magics, It wasn’t just their camp that was going to be consumed. The entire nearby area, possibly the entire valley was in danger. The light which had engulfed the camp continued to grow larger and larger, destroying several vampires and unfortunately the prisoners closest to it.

Up ahead meanwhile earthquakes began to rip the valley apart. Gina, the vampires, the prisoners and the Allosaurus all fled as fast as they could, with several of them being swallowed up by unexpected movements in the earth.

Even in this desperate situation however Gina didn’t forget who her enemies were. She used the Al to trip up several of the vampires as they fled and took down over 30 of the bloodsuckers this way, until the Allosaurus soon turned its attention to her on a vampires command.

The Al did its best to keep ahead of the Allosaurus, but the larger Dinosaurs greater size allowed it to take greater strides until it caught up to the Al. The Allosaurus bit into the smaller Dinosaurs tail and threw it back towards the ever approaching light, before speeding off into the distance.

Gina and Shelly both fell off the back of the Al in the process and landed several feet apart. The Al instantly went for Shelly first, and having no time to run back from the ever approaching light, left Gina, despite Shelly pleading with it to stay. Gina was only barely able to keep ahead of the approaching light, and just when all seemed lost the centaur picked her up and carried her on its back along with Trialex.

The centaur and the Tyrannosaurus Al both ran side by side for the next almost hour as the light continued to expand, swallowing up everything in the nearby area. Eventually however the powerful magics began to fade, though not before swallowing up two thirds of the entire valley. When Gina looked back she saw that all that this once thriving jungle teeming with Dinosaurs was now nothing more than a gigantic smoking crater in the ground. Even Gina had never caused such destruction before, but she didn’t regret it as the vampires power in this area needed to be crippled.

The prisoners and the vampires had been scattered in the resulting explosion and earthquakes, and Gina, Shelly and the centaur would spend the next few days searching for the prisoners and slaying any vampires they came across.

On the second day they encountered the Allosaurus which had cornered a small group of prisoners in a nearby cave. The beast was too big to get in itself, so it stuck one of its long, claw like arms in there and pulled two of the prisoners out. One who it throttled to death with its claws whilst the other, it played with like a cat playing with a mouse. Knocking its victim down repeatedly whenever he tried to run away, and sometimes letting him run a small distance only to then easily catch up to and block him off.

Before the Theropod could claim its third victim. Gina and the centaur working together were able to take the giant reptile down.

Riding on the centaurs back, Gina lured the Dinosaur away from the humans and then proceeded to slash the creatures side several times with the help of the centaur, until the Allosaurus knocked her off with its tail. The centaur however landed a lucky strike with its club against the Allosaurus’ ribs when it went to attack him, which knocked it off its feet, and as it went tumbling over Gina held her sword up which went right through the wound on its neck that the Al had made back in the camp. The Dinosaur was killed instantly. Again the beast had no say in serving the vampires, but at the same time there was nothing that could have been done to help it. The black magics that had been injected into the Dinosaur to make it stronger and more vicious could not be reversed. If anything killing it was the more humane option as without a vampire to control it, the Dinosaur would be driven further into madness by the magics in its body. There had been many instances of Dinosaurs such as Spinosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Allosaurus that had foolishly been released back into the wild after the vampires who controlled them were slain, only to later become savage monsters killing and hunting anything they came across for no reason at all.

Still again Gina didn’t see it that way and was simply happy to have taken down one of the Dinosaurs that had captured her. In fact she even cut the Allosaurus’ head off afterwards and planned to mount it on the wall in the cottage, but Shelly who was utterly disgusted with the idea refused.

Despite the losses of over 50 people, most of the prisoners in the vampires camps had escaped thanks to Gina and the assassins actions. Among those in the vampires camp that had survived, included Aleskia’s wife and children, who Gina and Shelly brought home.

Aleskia couldn’t believe that Gina had kept her word and genuinely thanked her, though he made it clear he still couldn’t forgive her for her earlier actions. Gina understood. No matter how many lives she could save, it would never bring back those who had died because of her.

Still at the very least she had gained Aleskia’s trust, and Gina would impart to him all the knowledge of the vampires weaknesses, their magics, their plans, their aims that she had gained access to when she was with the bloodsuckers.

Aleskia wasn’t the only person she gave the vampires secrets too however. She supplied them to many of the prisoners, including even her former torturer who had also managed to make it out alive. Gina still wanted to rip his throat out, but she knew that if the information came from the man who had tortured her, and was therefore viewed as a hero, the leaders would be more likely to believe it.

The information would in the long run prove vital to beating back the vampires and cost them many more devastating losses.

As a result of this, Gina’s reputation would improve among many of the major cities of Tairos. Never enough for her not to be among the most wanted people in all of them however. There would be attempts to rescind her wanted status by the people she had rescued, but they never came to much.

Gina herself didn’t think she could be forgiven. She just wanted to set right what she had helped create in the years she had aided the vampire horde in becoming stronger. Still over the course of the next century as Gina would not only continue to battle the vampire horde, but many other threats to Tairos, many would come to view her as a hero. In fact some even viewed her as the greatest hero Tairos had ever produced. She would be christened the queen of the forest by her admirers. Ironically however her own home city would be among those that would condemn Gina the most. Even though her actions in destroying Clasia’s camp is what allowed them to finally rebuild to a greater extent than ever before. They never forgave her for the lives she destroyed and were among the most relentless in trying to capture her. All of the claims that both her defenders and enemies threw at Gina were true. She was a murderer, a victim, a hero, a traitor. However whether or not any of those cancelled out the other, is something that we still debate thousands of years on from the age of Tairos, but at the very least we can have this discussion about Gina, unlike other heroes.

Gina would continue to live in Shelly’s cottage along with the Al after the destruction of the camp. The two women, though not exactly close friends after their adventure, nevertheless realised what an effective team they had made. From a practical point of view Shelly had the Al’s loyalty, whilst Gina could teach Shelly how to be a better fighter on her missions. Beyond that however Shelly’s greater empathy had also allowed the two women to make allies such as the centaur, whilst Gina’s greater experience in dealing with the vampires helped to counteract Shelly’s naivety.

The centaur itself meanwhile left the two women after the camp’s destruction. Feeling its debt to them had been repaid, it would nevertheless continue to aid Gina now and again on other missions too out of friendship, as would Trialex who made a full recovery at the Hooded Claw.

Finally Clasia had also been among those who had escaped the destruction of the valley, but she was demoted for her failures, to the absolute lowest rank possible in the vampire horde. Had it not been for her years of service, the Emperor would have most surely killed her.

Clasia soon became obsessed with making Gina suffer for what she had done, and became both Shelly and Gina’s greatest ever enemy.

However the former vampire queen’s cruel attempts at revenge and also the further adventures that Gina and Shelly and the Al would have in the forest of Tairos are stories for another time.

Aimee Agyeman: Demonic Adventurer: Origin

Drawing by Caio Corsini

Aimee Agyeman was a pioneer who explored all the corners of the earth and then some. Her bravery and passion for discovery ensured that she left no stone on this world unturned, and helped future generations learn the truth about so many hidden aspects of our history, as well as uncover secret threats to humanity.

Incredibly enough however, none of this happened when she was alive, technically. It was only after her untimely passing that Aimee realised her full potential. Like Professor Fang and Carlene before her. Aimee was able to take what was the darkest curse ever placed on this planet. Vampirism, and use it to make a positive difference in the world. Of course she didn’t do it alone. Had it not been for her friends and companions and ironically one major enemy. Aimee most likely would have ended up as just another monster like the rest of them.

Still it was her own thirst for discovery and journeying into the unknown that ultimately united this strange band of heroes as we will soon see when we examine the history of Miss Agyeman. One of the greatest Demonic adventurers of all time.

Aimee Agyeman was born in the year 1983 to a middle class family. She was of both middle eastern and Latino descent. Even as a child she enjoyed exploring. Often playing far away from home in local parks or wandering through the woods just outside the small village she grew up in. Much to her parents distress. She was a very imaginative child who loved pretending that the large, foreboding (at least to her) woods really were strange, magical worlds filled with creatures and monsters lurking round every corner.

Aimee’s imagination would be further enhanced with the deluge of sci fi and fantasy television series, films and books that she watched when she was younger too. Star Trek was unquestionably her favourite, and began not just a love for the genre, but of science too, which would later lead to her becoming a Doctor in her twenties, though there was obviously more behind her chosen profession than just a love of Star Trek. Aimee had always been a very caring and empathetic person. She would always be the one her friends would come to with their problems, though at the same time she could also be quite distant when it came sharing her own problems and by her own admission she had some trouble forming strong long term relationships. Aimee was just one of these people who preferred to cope by burying herself in her work and interests. Whether that was long walks through the woods, doing her sister up as a Ferenghi for a party, or studying for her exams. The medical profession seemed to be the best fit for her in this respect as she could help people, but not have to get to know them as much.

Aimee would go on to have a very successful career for up to ten years as a Doctor working at St Paloma’s. Sadly however it among other things would all come to an end one night when her hospital took in the wrong patient, Professor Victor Cushing, a member of the prestigious Cushing family.

For generations the Cushings had been the greatest vampire killers in all of Europe. Their family tree is believed to stretch right back to the Roman empire, with the first Cushing on record playing a part in the infamous Trajan wars against the vampire and the werewolf alliance, though some have specu their history of vampire hunting may go back even further than that. Whilst their speciality was always primarily the vampire, they were experts on the supernatural in general and by the 17th century the Cushing dynasty had the greatest library on the occult ever written and had established cells of trained vampire and demon killers all over Europe, connected via their stronghold in England. The Cushings expertise in the paranormal would lead to them becoming a major power in Europe and later the British empire throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries after the fall of the vandals, soul sucking Demons who controlled much of Europe from behind the scenes throughout the 12th-16th centuries. The Cushings it is also believed played a large role in ending their reign.

Sadly however the Cushing’s dominance would come to an end, just after the first World War, which had already depleted a lot of their influence and power. They came into conflict with a very powerful vampire king named Malaxios, whose forces, built up over the war from soldiers lost in No Man’s Land, launched a full attack on the Cushings stronghold. Nobody in the stronghold survived the vampires attack and worse the vampires were able to use the information in the stronghold to target and wipe out the Cushing’s remaining cells. Only a very few Cushings in general survived, all of whom were forced to scatter around the world to escape both the vampires and their other enemies. Some of the Cushings held onto their surname proudly and attempted to rebuild their family’s reputation and prestige, whilst others kept hidden.

Professor Victor Cushing meanwhile was a special case for many reasons. He had always stood out from the other members of his family due to the fact that he approached the study of supernatural creatures in a scientific way. Victor firmly believed that since the paranormal still had to interact with our world, understanding that relationship was far more important than simply learning each individual species weaknesses and strengths.

What really caused the split between Victor and the rest of the Cushings however was the fact that he was not above utilising the powers and abilities of the demons he studied and experimented on for his and others benefits. He believed that it could be possible to isolate the aspects of demons anatomy that granted them supernatural strength, immortality and endurance and splice them onto humans, without turning them into demons. Through these kinds of experiments, the professor claimed he could secure the British empire’s power, cure diseases and even create supermen. One of his most successful experiments did manage to grant Victor immortality, though sadly the results could not be replicated, always instead creating hideous demon/human hybrids. It is believed that Victor only survived due to his family’s greater exposure to the dark arts which gave them a slightly greater immunity, and even then Victor himself, decades later would also begin to mutate too. For splicing himself with Demon blood however, Victor would not only be cast out, but effectively wiped from the Cushings family records (being one of only two to suffer that fate.) Ironically however this ultimately saved his life as it not only meant he was away from the Cushing’s strong hold when the vampires attacked, but that they couldn’t track him down either like they did so most of the others.

The professor would continue his experiments for many decades afterwards, including helping the American government create demonic soldiers during World War 2 and the Cold War. Some of these experiments would prove successful in helping against not only America’s adversaries, but other paranormal threats. However at the same time Victor was also responsible for many disasters too. The infamous Batutut incident in Vietnam, where a platoon of US soldiers were slaughtered by hideous ape creatures was down to one of Victors botched experiments. The Batutut were normally placid, gentle hominid creatures, but Cushing’s experiments to utilise and increase their strength with black magic instead mutated them into hideous demonic apes that after escaping their confines became a threat to both sides of the war.

By the 2010s, Victor had finally begun to transform into more of a demon physically as a result of his Demon blood, though he never changed completely. His personality and morality were not at all affected by the change either, though that undoubtedly says more about Victor than anything else.

Still the US government did not trust him anymore, and soon attempted to neutralise Victor, but he managed to escape from America and later set up his own base of operations in England.

Determined to rectify his past mistakes, Victor would use magics he had gathered, not just from his family, but all his work with the US to keep his facility secret for years. He would also use a glamour spell to allow himself to assume a more human appearance and identity to the world at large too. In secret he continued to capture both Demons and humans for his experiments. He generally preferred to go after criminals and low lives. However if no other option presented itself, he was certainly not above kidnapping any random civilian for his experiments.

The Professor did achieve a few breakthroughs during his time in England, including finding a way to render humans immune to many forms of demonic possession, though sadly his test subject was left crippled by enduring so many possessions. She would spend most of the rest of her life in an asylum. Still the chemical he created would help billions more humans resist the the influence of thousands of different Demon species afterwards, even to the age of Tairos. His work would also bring about the extinction of the sadistic race of Demons known as the Tyraskere, who until the early 21st century were among the strongest of all Demon breeds. Cushing was finally able to discover a rare mixture of chemicals that could destroy them. Within a year of his discovery, their forces would be depleted in Europe. Cushing would make his experiments known to freelance Demon and vampire killers that he trusted, hoping they could spread his work throughout the world.

Eventually however in the year 2017 his new cover would start to unravel. One of his test subjects, a young woman named Alana managed to escape from his lab, thanks to an alteration between the Professor and a demon hunter who wanted to use one of his inventions but couldn’t afford it. The hunter went as far at to release several of the Professors prisoners in the hopes of stealing his equipment. He failed however and ended up as one of Cushing’s test subjects thanks to Alana betraying him. Whilst Victor generally liked to think himself above such petty emotions. He did display a sadistic side in dealing with the hunter, by splicing his DNA with the very demon species he despised. Alana meanwhile was no better than Victor. She had regularly lured people to a local pack of vampires to feed on in the hopes that they would turn her eventually. She had even offered up her own sister to the bloodsuckers, having always viewed her sister as a burden she had to care for.

Alana’s pack of vampires were able to track the professor down with her and burn his house to the ground. Fleeing out into the streets, Victor was then jumped by the pack who beat him so viciously he would have surely died had it not been for his more demonic constitution.

Fortunately before they could finish the job, a group of police men were able to chase the vampires off, though not through their own efficiency, but simply because the vampires didn’t want to draw attention to themselves too much. Rushed to St Paloma’s, Cushing would be treated by Aimee herself who was immediately aghast at his blood readings, which the glamour couldn’t conceal. She kept the results hidden however, on Cushing’s urging. He went as far as to reveal his true form to her. He did so not to scare Aimee. He could sense that she was a kind, or in his mind, a gullable person, that he would be better trying a more soft approach with rather than trying to intimidate. Cushing begged her not give him away to stating that the government would capture and dissect him if they found out where he was (which was not completely untrue, it was just the US government rather than the British one.) Aimee reluctantly agreed to keep his secret for now. In truth Cushing hoped to simply flee in the night and take the sample with him. Whilst he may have been looking out for himself, Victor was also genuinely terrified at the thought of the authorities discovering the existence of the paranormal. As amoral and selfish as he may have been, even he would not risk the consequences of that.

The pack of vamps meanwhile would later that night sneak their way into Cushing’s ward and attempt to abduct him. Following his unique demonic scent with their heightened senses. Fortunately however, Cushing’s own unique demonic body had already allowed him to heal and he was able to fight them off. Aimee however would be drawn by commotion of the vampires fighting the Professor and she did her best to try and protect him. Sadly fighting was not among her many talents and in fact one of vampires even toyed with her for a while before sinking its fangs into Aimee’s neck. Still Aimee’s feeble attempts at fighting did at least distract two of the vampires long enough for Cushing to escape their clutches and slay the beasts. Having only got the better of him the previous times due to surprise, Cushing was then able to slay the remaining three vampires. Sadly Victor knew Aimee had been infected even without his demonic abilities. The members of his family had all learned to recognise the signs of vampiric infection greater in its earliest stages. Rather than simply kill Aimee who had kept her promise not to expose him. In a rare act of kindness, Victor instead decided to help Aimee. Unfortunately in his mind that meant abducting her to his lab, and experimenting on her with no one knowing what became of her.

The professors motives weren’t completely altruistic. He was at least just as motivated by the opportunity to examine the curse of vampirism like never before. Still he was in all fairness taking a huge risk by helping Aimee. Whilst all of the vampires who knew his identity were dusted, Alana had managed to flee again and would warn vampire communities in other cities throughout the UK of the presence of a Cushing in the country, and as a result Victor would be forced to up his magical security to a far greater degree in order to protect his lab.

It would have been much safer and wiser of him to simply flee and start again, but unfortunately in the time it would take Victor to set up a new lab, Aimee would have turned into a vampire and he needed to examine the process as she turned if he had any hope of combating it. For the first time in a long while, the Professor was not simply thinking of himself.

Aimee was in fact the first vampire that he had ever experimented on. Victor had previously shunned using vampires in any of his experiments as he felt that they were far too toxic to be cured or utilised. The curse of vampirism was after all created by Khastran, the single most powerful and evil Demon ever to exist. Still rather than try and either cure it, which was a complete impossibility, or try and splice vampire DNA onto a healthy human, which no matter how small the sample would always instantly spread and turn the person into a vampire. The Professor instead thought about trying to find a way to supress the killer instincts of a vampire using Aimee as his test subject.

Aimee had been infected by what is known as a soul vampire. There are literally hundreds of different breeds of vampire, but they can all broadly be grouped together into four categories. Soul vampires, pure vampires, savage vampires and born vampires. The differences between these four super categories are caused by how the vampire is created. In all but born vampires, a vampire is created when a piece of another vampires demonic energy is placed inside a human, either through bites, the vampire feeding the human their own blood, a combination of both methods, or sometimes other more elaborate and obscure measures. Sometimes the human can be alive when the change happens as was the case with Aimee, sometimes they have to be dead, but either way it always starts the same. How the demonic energy changes the human after infection has begun however is where the differences begin.

With pure vampires of all kinds, the demonic energy will twist a persons soul, transforming it completely into a demons soul. All humanity is purged both physically and metaphysically. Pure vampires who represent about 98 percent of the vampires on earth are incapable of emotions such as love, remorse, or compassion. They are driven solely to hunt, kill and torture. Their personalities are made up of any negative qualities the person may have had in life, amplified without any guilt, and any positive qualities that remain become twisted and perverted. Pure vampires are still technically the same people they were as humans, but they represent a twisted demonic caricature of their former selves.

With savage vampires meanwhile the energy grows into a separate demon that will eject the soul from the body. (Assuming the soul hasn’t already left if the person is dead.) This demon will then take complete control of the body, as our soul is where everything we are comes from. The mind, consciousness, memories and so on. Savage vampires are therefore not people at all, and as a result they are the most feral and vicious, as well as the strongest (apart from born vampires.) Almost all savage vampires are as single minded as animals.

With soul vampires meanwhile the energy grows into a Demon that revives the body, however it does not take over the body like with savage vampires. The human soul remains, but the Demon, not only adds a killer instinct and bloodlust. It represses any of the human hosts positive qualities such as love, remorse and compassion and heightens all of their negative qualities. Still as these emotions are repressed rather than purged completely. It is theoretically possible for a human to resist the demons bloodthirsty urges and regain their humanity. This is exceedingly rare however. Throughout all of recorded history, only two soul vampires have ever been able to do this consistently. Professor Fang and Carlene, both of whom used their vampiric powers to become heroes. There have been other instances of hero vampires throughout history, but that has entirely been down to magic or outside factors supressing their bloodlust which could not be replicated in more than one vampire.

Finally born vampires, as their name would suggest are those who are born to two vampires. Only a very few breeds (all pure vampires) are capable of having children however and even then birth rates are exceedingly low. Born vampires are the most powerful and evil of all, and generally tend to serve as the leaders of the vampire world. Malaxios was a born vampire for instance.

Despite her good hearted nature. Victor knew that Aimee would never be able to repress the demon’s influence and bloodlust on her own. It’s not even known why the Professor and Carlene are with many believing there to be an outside force rather than just their sheer will.

Unlike all of his other test subjects. Victor made sure that Aimee suffered no pain during his experiments and performed them whilst she was under an anesthetic.

He may have been ruthless, but Victor like all members of his family always acknowledged the debt he owed someone.

The experience was still most distressing for Aimee however as she was locked up for over 6 months. Cushing made her as comfortable as he could, and explained everything that happened, but it didn’t make any sense to her. The most frightening part of it all however were the new bloodthirsty urges she couldn’t understand or control.

Fortunately however Victors work would pay off after 6 months. He was able to supress the demon’s influence over Aimee by pinpointing where the demon would attack her soul and then place magical implants in her brain which constantly fought back against the demon, preventing it from being able to suppress her human qualities such as empathy and compassion.

In spite of this however Victor could not remove the demon’s bloodthirst. In fact in some ways the professor had given Aimee the worst of both worlds. The desire for destruction and suffering, but the capacity to feel remorse for it. Aimee would remain in Victors lab for the next two years on her own choosing. She was terrified of not being able to control her thirst and even contemplated ending her own life at certain points. The Professor continued to make sure she was as comfortable as could be, though he also did his best to cover up his other more unsavoury experiments from her. His security system made sure that none of his test subjects could see each other due to a magical cloak, with Aimee not even being aware that he had more than one test subject.

Eventually however the Professor would pressure Aimee to go outside and begin interacting with people again. This was more for the sake of his experiments than anything else, as he wanted to see if his implants could truly limit Aimee’s bloodlust. At the same time he also forbade her from going back to her family or old life as it would raise too many questions. Sadly she soon saw that he was right as she didn’t want to drag the people she loved into this world of monsters and demons, and the lab continued to be her home.

Aimee’s desire to help others however would eventually resurface in the form of using her new supernatural powers to battle evil throughout her city. Once again Victor tried to dissuade her out of fear of drawing attention to his experiments, but she didn’t listen and soon left the lab, taking to the streets. She regularly fought with her own kind and other demons and monsters. She saved many lives, and helped make her home city a safer place for a year or so. During this time she also found out the truth about the Professors experiments when another one of his patients escaped, thanks to the more unstable magics he had used to conceal his lab, which now began to break down. The patient was a young woman named Sam who had suffered from drug addiction for most of her adult life. Aimee had even treated her a few years back. Sadly however her addictions got the better of her and she had ended up on the streets. Cushing had nabbed her just a few months back to test the effects of splicing an advanced demon healing factor to a human body. She suffered more than any of his other test subjects, though at the very least the demonic healing factor did manage to clean all of the drugs out of her system. Still she wanted to make Cushing pay, and after barely managing to escape, she alerted Aimee to the truth about what was going on.

Aimee and Sam would work together to try and shut down Cushing’s experiments. The Professor not wanting to destroy arguably his two greatest successes in the last few years would hold back when fighting them at first.

Meanwhile the appearance of a new vampire superhero in a city where the legendary Victor Cushing was still suspected of operating, as well as the two ladies attempts to expose him, drew the attention of the wider vampire community throughout the United Kingdom. Many began to fear that Cushing had found a way to make vampires docile and they soon launched an attack on the city, led by an ancient soul vampire named St James.

James was of the same breed as Aimee. Her breed were among the least powerful and lowest of all the soul vampires. Their abilities were very basic. Super strength, immortality, speed, endurance, advanced healing and senses. They could also appear human, but had to assume a more monstrous face when feeding, but other than that they had no extra supernatural abilities. At least not at first. The older Aimee’s breed became, the stronger they became, with the oldest even gaining new powers and abilities. St James was the oldest member of his kind on the planet. In fact he was among the oldest vampires in general having been around since the Roman empire. He had ironically been a Christian who fought against the Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians, but had been turned into a vampire by the crazed Emperor himself. (Who contrary to what the historical records state was not executed after being overthrown. He took the offer of a former vampire gladiator and became one of the undead in order to escape his execution. He would continue to operate for many centuries afterwards at least, though there are no records of him after the 17th century.)

Unlike other master vampires. St James did not care about advancing the vampire race, or in bringing back their father, Khastran. His kind, along with the other soul vampires were either persecuted or used as disposable foot soldiers and slaves by pure and born vampires. Just as he had done as a man. St James did not accept his people’s persecution and refused to bow to the other breeds. Unfortunately however he was not able to rally a large rebellion against the other breeds, as vampires were such treacherous and cowardly creatures by nature.

Instead St James would come to value simply living a comfortable life through any means necessary. In contrast to his principled human self, as a vampire he was happy to work with and betray anyone to get ahead. His own kind, hunters, vandals, demons, all the various empires and powerful groups and heirarchies that could come and go throughout his thousand year life time. He worked with and stabbed them all in the back at various points in order to accumulate power for himself.

In the modern age, whilst he may have preached a brotherhood of the vampires act to convince them to follow him. In truth he no longer cared about his people. Still it was a good marketing ploy.

St James sent Alana, who was able to earn Aimee and Samantha’s trust with her knowledge of Cushing’s lab. Alan would then, just as she had done many times to many others before, lure Aimee and Sam into a trap.

St James would then capture both of Aimee’s parents and threaten them unless they helped him sneak into Cushing’s lab. With no choice, both women reluctantly agreed. Aimee and Sam pretended to allow Victor to capture them again.

Little did Victor know Aimee had a spell hidden inside her body which broke down Victors security, allowing St James and his vampires to enter.

Rather than simply kill Cushing, Aimee, Sam and the other test subjects. St James would make have his fun with all of them. He forced Cushing into a room with several of his creations and he forced Aimee and Samantha to fight it out with each. If Aimee won her parents would be allowed to go free, whilst if Samantha won he would spare both her and Aimee.

Apparently the Emperor Nero had forced St James into a similar duel with his brother almost two thousand years ago, when they were both men.

Not wanting to die, Samantha fought hard and actually managed to best Aimee. She only did so by cheating however. She pretended to accidentally impale herself on one of her claws, which Aimee initially believed was fatal, only to then strike Aimee when she was unaware. Tragically St James was a man of his word and in response killed both of Aimee’s parents before her. He tore out her fathers heart and literally ripped her mother in two.

Aimee and Samantha would then be imprisoned. Unlike Victors other test subjects St James wanted to examine them. He wanted to find out how Aimee had been made docile, to make sure it couldn’t be replicated on other vampires, whilst with Samantha he wanted to see how far he could push her into doing other horrible things to spare her life. Like all vampires St James was a sadist and loved breaking people down to his level.

Fortunately however Victor was able to escape from his own creations, Aimee and soo conjured up a powerful, but somewhat unstable spell that could fight off the vampires and destroy his lab from within. It essentially caused the dark magics that had previously protected the lab, which St James had only created a tiny hole within, to devour the entire lab. Only Victor himself would be rendered immune to its effects for a short while (though even then after a certain point the magic would destroy him if he did not escape.) As the lab began to vanish into a storm of black magic and the vampires were caught up in it, Victor rather than simply flee, again helped both Aimee and Samantha escape, simply because they were among the only experiments he had left.

Not only had the vampires slaughtered his other lab specimens, but he also didn’t have time to even attempt to rescue the decades worth of research and spells that would be consumed along with the vampires. In fact in some cases there were spells and enchantments that he had saved from his family, which had been built up by his ancestors over centuries.

Still sadly it was better for it all to be lost forever than fall into the hands of the bloodsuckers. Of the vampires who attacked the base. Only St James was able to escape and was so severely wounded he was forced to go into hiding for a while.

Once they had escaped, Aimee instantly attempted to kill Cushing. Whether it was the demon heightening her rage, or if she still would have attempted to break his neck regardless, who knows? Aimee was a gentle soul by nature, but the Professor had certainly pushed that to breaking point.

Fortunately Samantha was able to hold her back. Aimee wasn’t exactly thrilled with Samantha either, but she at least understood why she did what she did. Neither Aimee or Samantha wanted much to do with each other after the ordeal, but both would stick together out of necessity. Aimee only didn’t kill the Professor however, not so much because of Samantha, but just because she didn’t want to let him take something else away from her. The fact that he still had some humanity in him, meant that she didn’t just view Victor as a Demon, but in hindsight it was a mistake not just her sake, not finish the professor there and then. In fact it was probably the biggest mistake she ever made.

Aimee and Samantha would subsequently be forced to go on the run for the next few years from St James and his vampire minions.

On their time on the road together, Aimee and Samantha would continue to fight against vampires and demons and other supernatural creatures. They became notorious among not just St James followers, but the wider supernatural community in Britain in general. They never became friends however. They couldn’t after what St James had put them through. Neither ever blamed the other for it, as they were both just fighting to protect themselves, or their loved ones. Still at the same time neither could get it out of their minds and as a result, in spite of everything they went through together in the next few years. Their relationship always remained cold and professional.

In time however they would also pick up two new companions. One was another member of the Cushing family. Marcus Cushing who was born in the year 1920, just before the fall of their families power. Marcus’ parents however at first changed their surname and attempted to hide from the family’s many enemies.

It actually worked for them. At least at first, but only because they had been among the more unremarkable Cushings. Combined they had only managed to slay 20 or so vampires, all minions, and all from lower breeds. Their son Marcus meanwhile was always a more theatrical, sensitive soul who was only too happy to abandon a life of monster hunting and pursue his dream of becoming a director.

Unfortunately however when he later got a chance to work with his idol. The legendary film maker Christopher Irving, Marcus would discover that he was a vampire.

Irving unlike a lot of vampires actually had a genuine passion for the arts, and over the centuries he had actually gone by many different identities as separate film makers and artists and producers, always working from behind the scenes to protect his identity.

Unfortunately for him however, Marcus recognised the signs almost as soon as he worked with his former idol and was eventually able to expose him for the murder of a young actress. Irving however would later murder Marcus’ parents in revenge, forcing him to go on the run. For the next two decades, Cushing and Irving would battle it out all across Europe, with Marcus honing his skills and taking down many other powerful vampire kings in the process.

Marcus would also track down other members of his family and even some of the vampires who had destroyed the original Cushing stronghold to gather any information they may have held onto from the vaults. Over the years this would give him a greater knowledge than the other scattered members of his family and allow Marcus Cushing to become one of the greatest vampire killers of the entire 20th century.

By the 1960s, Marcus had come to settle in the town of Darrow, a hotspot for vampiric activity. It had in fact been founded by vampires originally, who were overthrown by their human victims. Whilst in Darrow, Marcus would become a private detective and later end up working with Carlene, at the very beginning of her time as a vampire. Cushing was just as skeptical as anyone at the idea of a reformed vampire, but in time he and Carlene became close allies and eventually friends.

In the 1970s, after Carlene had left Darrow, Cushing would come to work with a later version of her, who by that point from her perspective was travelling with the Circus Family, a team of reformed demons, aliens and people from throughout history who travelled through time and space in a magic circus battling evil.

Delighted to see his old friend again. Marcus would help the Circus Family deal with the crisis they had arrived for, but unfortunately they would abduct him soon afterwards. They didn’t have a choice. It was to protect the timeline which not only said that he vanished in the 70s, but also said that he would do important things in the 2010s.

After a few adventures with the Circus Family, Cushing was dropped back off in the 2010s. His friendship with Carlene understandably somewhat strained.

He drifted for a while until the 2020, when he would meet Aimee and Samantha when all three were hunting a particularly dangerous Demon. Ironically Aimee was more distrustful of Marcus at first than he was of her due to his lineage.

In time however they both came to trust each other and developed a similar bond to Marcus’ former friendship with Carlene. In some ways Aimee was actually easier for Marcus to deal with as she was a lot more openly friendly and enthusiastic, than Carlene (though that wouldn’t be difficult.) On the other however she struggled somewhat with her thirst to a greater extent than Carlene ever did.

Marcus would also have a positive relationship with Samantha too, being able to relate to her struggles as he had spent many years on living on the run from Irving, and had even turned to alcohol for a long while to cope with the murder of his parents. Often Marcus acted as a buffer between the two women.

Finally the group would pick up its fourth member in the form of Eric Summers, a Kresnik. These creatures were the natural predators of vampires. They were created before recorded history began using the book of Khastran itself, which created all vampire breeds. Ironically the witch that created the Kresniks had a similar attitude to Victor Cushing of wanting to harness the power of demons and the paranormal for the good of humanity. Whilst much like Cushing she unintentionally created many monsters from the book, some of which still walk the earth today such as the heinous Shadow Demons. The Kresniks were by and large a success.

They were still mostly human. Certainly in terms of morality. They also possessed some supernatural abilities including a greater life span than a human, the ability to sense any supernatural creature, and the ability to transform into a large bear like creature, though they could only do this when they had drank enough vampire blood. They didn’t need to feed on it, but it made them stronger. They possessed no superhuman strength in their human form however, unless they had recently drank vampire blood. What made them such effective vampire killers however was the fact that any serious wound they inflicted on vampires, using any weapon could be potentially fatal. For instance if a Kresnik stabbed a vampire in the stomach with an ordinary sword then it could kill it just as easily as it would a human.

Kresniks reproduced through mating rather than infection and they could have children with ordinary human beings too. Eric meanwhile had been abandoned by his mother who felt that he would get in the way of her hunting. She simply left him on the doorsteps of an orphanage before vanishing into the night. Eric had a decent life at the orphanage for until he as ten years old, when a vampire that worked at the orphanage (which was the perfect cover for the bloodsucker.) Noticed that he was a Kresnik. After a botched attempt at killing the boy, Eric was forced to flee and live on the streets, where he eventually fell in with a gang of youths who were being terrorised by vampires. Recognising them as being the same monsters who chased him from the orphanage, Eric would mould the group of youths into fighting back against the vampires. For five years he and his gang protected the streets, until they drew the attention of St James. The Kresniks were a rare breed as the vampires had hunted them so extensively. They had managed to build a stronghold in Croatia, but in the UK they were virtually extinct. The presence of just one was a threat to St James empire and he would personally send his more organised vampires in to attack Eric’s gang. They launched a surprise attack during the day time and burned Eric’s base to the ground. Only a small handful escaped, including Eric himself who was forced to go on the run.

Eventually Eric would be forced to go to Aimee, Samantha and Marcus Cushing for help. Working together all four of them would fight back against the vampires and even managed to put a dent in St James blood soaked empire, forcing him to regroup.

Soon after Aimee and Samantha would soon face another old adversary. Victor Cushing. Having fled to Europe after his lab was destroyed. Victor had continued to work in secret with various organisations and even some Demons to finance his various experiments. He soon discovered however an old rival had stolen an old project of his. A kind of magical aircraft, which Victor had hoped to use during world war 2 as a potential weapon against the Nazis, but had abandoned believing that even he would never find a way to work.

The ship was not actually Victors creation. It came from a period long before recorded history had began. Not long after discovering tools and basic agriculture, early man would soon turn his attention to the most basic forms of magic and over the course of many centuries. Humanity would eventually master many more advanced spells and enchantments until they were able to build great cities and civilisations out of nothing but magic. Sadly this golden age for humanity would come to an end during Khastran’s second visit to the earth. All traces of this once thriving magical civilisation would be wiped from the earth, barring a few small traces.

This ship was just one of many thousands that fought against Khastran when the demon began its slaughter. Buried under ground for thousands of years. The vehicle was constructed entirely with, and powered by magic. Sadly for Victor however he couldn’t find a way to power it, but decades on, his rival. A Demon named Osteriath would. Much like Cushing, Osteriath was something of an anomaly among his kind as he also relied on science, believing he could spread more chaos by understanding the world around him. Osteriath had been responsible for the influenza epidemic just after the first World War which killed over 50 million people, and he had also played a role in many of the Nazi’s most horrific experiments. He also later went on to work for both the British and the American governments in the 50s and the 60s, developing weapons that both countries would use against their enemies such as Malaysia and Vietnam. He even worked for the Khmer Rouge at one point. The demon was happy to work with anyone that would fund his twisted experiments and give him a chance to spread as much chaos and destruction as he possibly could. Sadly all the major powers of the earth were willing to work with him if it suited their interests.

During his time with the British government, Osteriath would learn about the ship and would work on it in secret. Like Cushing he had trouble finding any modern ritual or wizard to power the device, but he was soon able to find a way of channelling the magic from thousands of witches and warlocks all over Europe into the ship. Victor had actually stumbled upon this formula back in World War 2, but even he was not willing to go that far. Not only would the spell kill all of the witches and warlocks whose power was drained. (It would literally be ripped from their bodies.) The magical upheavel and instability that it created would cause the deaths of many more and lead to other magical mutations and deaths throughout Europe.

The effect happened gradually and as more and more witches and warlocks began to die over Europe, Victor, much to his horror realised what was really going on. Low on resources and with virtually no allies left. Victor was forced to go to his former creations for help.

Naturally Aimee and Samantha were reluctant to listen to their former captor, but fortunately Marcus was able to convince them that what his cousin was saying was true. Marcus had also had dealings with Victor and he knew just as much as the two women how callous and ruthless he was. The fact that however that Victor seemed genuinely terrified at what this experiment might unleash was something even Marcus had never seen before.

Unfortunately however this team of unlike allies, two Cushing and a Kresnik working with a vampire and a demon, were unable to stop Osteriath’s experiments. His lab, so to speak was located underneath an old abandoned English castle.

His experiments with magic had already caused many of the locals in the nearby town as well as the animals in the surrounding area to mutate into hideous creatures.

These monstrosities had in fact overrun the Osteriath’s lab, killing most of his workers in the process, but the demon still pressed on. He was even able to take control of one of his mutations, which he used to fight off the other mutants from destroying his craft.

Osteriath’s loyal mutant had actually originally been one of his most loyal scientists named, Martin, who was among the very first to be infected by the magical upheaval. Martin begged Osteriath to end his suffering as soon as his body began to twist into something more than human. Osteriath of course kept him alive, both for his own amusement and to see to what extent he would mutate. Over the course of several weeks, Martin eventually mutated into a twenty foot tall abomination, with rock hard grey skin and body twisted beyond recognition. He grew an extra pair of arms with both sets growing far longer than in proportion to the rest of his body. Each arm also now ended in a hand with just three fingers, all of which in turn had massive, steel claws.

His head meanwhile was even more twisted. One of his eyes was now placed on the right hand side of his forehead, whilst his left eye was placed on the left hand side of his chin. Both were yellow with no pupil, and could fire yellow rays which will not killing their victims, would trap them in a state of perpetual agony. His nose had broken in two and was on either side of his face, whilst the middle of his face where his nose once was, instead was a hole from which blood and mucus constantly poured out of. He was also capable of spraying an acidic yellow slime from this hole which would not only paralyse its victims, but slowly and painfully eat through them over the course of several days. His mouth much like his arms was bigger in proportion to the rest of his face and was filled with dozens of long razor sharp teeth too big to fit into his mouth. Tuffs of his hair meanwhile, that had turned grey popped out of numerous different parts of his body and were electric to the touch. None of the other mutants were able to transform into such a hideous creature, due to the fact that they had mostly killed each other before then. Furthermore, Osteriath also performed other experiments on Martin whilst he held him in captivity.

In spite of its horrific and awkward appearance, Martin proved effective at protecting its master from all other threats. Including sadly even his former rival Victor and his new, unlikely allies.

Aimee, Marcus, Samantha, Eric and even Victor all fought their way through the monsters bravely, but Martin was just too powerful and Osteriath was able to put the finale part of his project into action.

In an instant over 30 thousand people were killed all over Europe when the magic was ripped from their bodies (with over six thousand having been killed before in the early stages of Osteriath’s experiments.)

Their magic soon powered the craft, which would never run down as once it had started it would be able to recycle its own magic supply forever. (The only reason it had run down before was because it had been damaged in the fight with Khastran and the magic had leaked out.)

On the outside the craft looked like nothing more than a gigantic gold blimp, whilst its inside would change itself to match its new owners personality.

The blimp contained unbelievable power and had it fallen in Osteraith’s hands there is no telling what devastation he could have inflicted on humanity with it, but fortunately the Demon has miscalculated in terms of the amount of magic he needed to power it, and the excess magical energy ended up consuming his entire lab.

With no other hope of escape, Aimee, Marcus, Samantha and Eric were forced to take refuge in the blimp itself. Victor meanwhile, determined not to let his old rival escape, stayed behind to try and destroy him once and for all. As far as Aimee and the others were aware at that point, neither had escaped in time.

The ship due to its magical nature had developed a limited sentience, and selected Aimee to be its new owner. For the most part it only did so because it had no choice. It needed an owner to pilot it to safety. Still even out of those there, it could sense Aimee’s passion for discovery and yearning for adventure and felt she would be the best person to take it across this world.

After making a connection with her, Aimee, through her mind alone was able to command the ship to leave the lab, just before it exploded. The ship however was still badly damaged in the blast, limiting its once great power and destroying nearly all of its devastating weaponry.

It would still be capable of travelling faster than any ordinary craft however, could withstand the strongest, even magical attacks and above all else maintained its link with Aimee.

For the next few years, Aimee, Marcus, Eric and Samantha would travel in this craft together across the world, not only cleaning up Osteriath’s mess and mutants, but battling other demonic, supernatural and even extraterrestrial threats to the world.

Aimee would take over as the leader of the team, due to her connection with the ship, which would never, ever follow anyone else’s instructions unless it was the most extreme emergency. It also would never abandon Aimee under any circumstances, no matter what.

Still all of the team would contribute just as much in their own way to the battle against evil and also the discovery of lost cities, races and worlds.

The collective denial about the existence of the paranormal in the early 21st century had brought our world to the brink of armaggedon. It had allowed some of the darkest and most powerful monsters and creatures to slowly grow in strength over the centuries.

Aimee and her friends discoveries would prove vital in uncovering these threats, as we will see over the course of this series where we will examine their adventures around the world in the gold blimp in greater detail.

The Trials of Ching Kwan

Ching Kwan was quite possibly the most skilled non mystical vampire hunter of all time. He is believed to have killed up to 700 vampires during his lifetime, as well as over 200 Demons. His greatest legacy however was his creation of the new fighting style, “Jineng Chaoguo Liliang” skill over strength, which through careful, precise technique’s, allowed normal people to take on vampires, demons, vandals, monsters and other supernatural creatures in direct combat. It’s no exaggeration to say that almost all vampire hunters around the world have utilised this method of combat to some extent, and whilst there have been many variations of the practice, its core principles still stem from Kwan’s pioneering work.

Sadly however despite these great achievements Kwan remains a controversial figure to many modern vampire hunters due to his role in the Hatsuka tragedy. Whilst he did what he did to protect those closest to him. Kwan was still indirectly responsible for the slaughter of countless innocents as well as the return of many dangerous Demonic creatures to our world. His most ardent followers will tend to downplay the Hatsuka horrors and his role in it, but ironically that is the last thing Kwan himself would have wanted. He carried the guilt over this catastrophe to his grave and spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his mistakes. He would be horrified to see the lives he had taken be airbrushed from history. Above all else however Kwan devoted his life to helping people combat the forces of darkness and therefore he would want his mistakes to be known, to prevent anyone else from repeating them. His entire philosophy was in learning to overcome superior odds which can’t be done unless you acknowledge that you have vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

With this in mind please do not view this as an insult to what was in spite of his flaws, a hero and a great man. It is simply an attempt to chronicle the cause of a real life tragedy that took so many lives, and understand how good men can be forced to do terrible things and finally how the forces of darkness can manipulate the very best of us.

Ching Kwan was born in the year 1945 in Hong Kong. After the chaos it endured during the war, Hong Kong, along with mainland China would suffer from an infestation of vampires, who attempted to take advantage of their strife and hardships. Kwan’s home town of Jaisa would be hit particularly hard by the vampire plague however. By the time he was a teenager, the bloodsuckers more or less ruled the town. As a result of several near fatal run ins with the local undead inhabitants. Kwan developed an interest in martial arts and study into the occult from a young age. Though books on vampires would be banned in Jaisa once the vampires really got their hooks into the towns leaders. Kwan’s family however were able to hold onto their collection in secret, as they were a wealthy family.

Despite this however, Kwan’s parents were always careful not to antagonise the vampire forces of the town as they grew stronger. They wanted their son to be able to defend himself if need be, but they were not foolish enough to try and take on what was one of the largest vampire communities in Hong Kong at that point. Kwan however like a lot of young boys was rebellious and frequently got into fights with the vampires human servants and broke curfews and deliberately provoked the vampires as much as he could. Even as a child, the young Kwan would often shout at the vampires as they went by the window of his house, carrying the remains of their victims.

Eventually however when Kwan was 18 he would have his first major confrontation with the undead when his girlfriend, Michelle was captured by them. Her own brother had been a familiar of the vampires and agreed to hand her over in order to be turned. It was a typical test from vampires to see if someone was worthy of becoming one of their own. Not only would the familiar hand over the person they loved the most, but they would also be forced to feed on them after turning.

Kwan fought his way into the vampires stronghold, killing up to 17 of them, including Michelle’s recently turned brother, before rescuing her. The vampires were completely unprepared for someone to challenge them, and furthermore Kwan’s knowledge of their weaknesses allowed him to catch them off guard. Even then however by his own admission it was a desperate fight, and he was forced to rely on long range weapons, such as a crossbow bolt, holy items and the sun itself to destroy them. He frequently said that had he attacked the bloodsuckers during the night they would have torn him to pieces.

Following this, Kwan, his family and Michelle would be forced to flee to mainland China to escape the wrath of the vampires. It wasn’t an easy move, as Kwan’s fathers business was local. In China the family were more or less reduced to paupers and Kwan’s father would soon be forced to take loans from the Triads to make ends meet.

This would in turn lead to Kwan falling in with the Triads. When he learned that their main enemies were vampires, he offered to help pay off his fathers loans by taking jobs to slay the undead. The Triads were actually able to gain a lot more influence by offering protection to people from the vampire horde.

At first Kwan was happy to learn from the Triads as they certainly made his hunts easier and he even learned many techniques from them. However it didn’t take long for Kwan to become disgusted with their ruthless practices and the fact that they would charge people for help against the undead.

He soon went on to hunt vampires on his own which earned him the wrath of both the Triads and the vampire population. Kwan was not only in direct competition of the Triads as a vampire killer, he also supplied knowledge to many people on the weaknesses of the vampire which further rendered their services obsolete.

Eventually the Triads responded by killing his family, and Kwan in retaliation murdered the leader of the Triads before being forced to flee from the police. Michelle remained behind, having grown to be a formidable vampire hunter in her own right thanks to his training. She initially wanted to go with Kwan, but he told her to remain here as someone needed to spread the knowledge on how to combat vampires so that the Triads hold would vanish. Michelle reluctantly agreed though what became of her is a story for another time.

Kwan fled to America where he became a freelance vampire hunter. He hated having to charge some of those he saved for money, but sadly he had no choice. He had many successes against the American vampire population, who similarly were not used to being targeted in such a direct way, and his antics soon brought him to the attention of an eccentric millionaire named Harold Jackson. Jackson’s home city, Lawless had been infested by vampires much like Kwan’s. The bloodsuckers owned everything in the city. The media, the police, etc. Jackson’s own father, a big shot tv producer had even been a slave to the vampires, supplying them with some young up and coming actresses to feed on. Desperate to make up for his fathers sins, Jackson would adopt a costumed identity, the Devil of Lawless and along with Kwan, who adopted the costumed identity of the Dragon of Lawless, they battled the vampires and their human allies on the streets of the city throughout the latter part of the 60s. Whilst they endured many losses over the years, ultimately the costumed vampire hunters were able to crush the bloodsuckers stronghold in the city by the end of the decade. Afterwards both Kwan and Jackson would go their separate ways and continue to hunt vampires in different parts of the world. Many believed that the two had a clash, but in truth Kwan simply wanted to explore Europe next and spread his new knowledge and techniques there.

In Europe Kwan would work with many other famous vampire hunters over the next few years and continue to improve on his knowledge and fighting skills. He decided that many traditional forms of vampire hunting were inefficient for single combat. Prior to Kwan’s pioneering work, most vampire hunters avoided direct, one on one combat with vampires if they could.

Legendary vampire killers like Daniel Holtz and the Cushings preferred to hunt the undead using traps, long range weapons such as crossbows, flaming torches and crosses. They also preferred to combat them during the day time and when they were on their own too. When it came to staking meanwhile, it was often a messy and prolonged process. Simply stabbing a wooden stake through a normal persons chest would be a very difficult process contrary to how most modern vampire hunters make it look. Vampires meanwhile often have stronger bodies than humans and therefore most vampire hunters for centuries where forced to use a hammer or a mallet to drive the stake into the chest. As a result hunters could only really stake vampires during the day when they slept.

That’s not to say that the likes of Daniel Holtz and the Cushings couldn’t handle themselves in a fight, and that there were never any instances of a skilled fighter overpowering a vampire. Generally speaking however, one on one fights were things that vampire hunters wanted to avoid, due to vampires supernatural strength, speed, agility and endurance.

Kwan however was determined to find a way for an ordinary human to defend him or herself from the undead in any scenario, and so he built a new method of fighting that not only incorporated many different kinds of martial arts, but also numerous different techniques from vampire hunters too.

Using this style Kwan worked out how to use a vampires greater strength and endurance against it, studied all of the information available on the different breeds and matched them with the correct forms of martial arts. Perhaps his greatest contribution however was the creation of a new method of staking vampires.

Using a similar process to the famed one inch punch. Kwan worked out a method where an ordinary person, through carefully pressing their entire body weight onto the stake, could push it with enough force to cut through even a vampires chest easily.

This method soon spread throughout the vampire hunters community thanks to the many contacts and allies Kwan had built up during his time in Europe and would eventually become mandatory training in most vampire hunting organisations. Even freelance and lone vampire hunters would study and learn Kwan’s new staking technique that would jokingly be referred to as the “one inch stake.”

Many tall tales and stories would be told about Kwan during this time, with some claiming that he could beat any vampire or demon or monster. Kwan himself however always remained humbled by the admittedly few defeats he had endured. He constantly reminded his students that no one is unbeatable, and that one must never become arrogant when dealing with the supernatural. The basis for Kwan’s entire philosophy was that it’s not just about the punches you throw, the kicks you make, but also the environment, the weapons and above all else your knowledge of your opponent. The second you buy into your own hype as unstoppable vampire killer and forget that, then even the most inexperienced, common vampire can defeat you.

Kwan’s new fighting style that he dubbed Jineng Chaoguo Liliang would prove vital in pushing back the massive wave of vampires that had emerged in Europe after the second world war. Whilst the Nazis were thankfully crushed at the end of the war, the vampires they had allied themselves with and who had been given a chance to spread and unify throughout Europe, would continue to thrive and grow in power throughout the 50s, 60s and early 70s to an even greater extent than in the East.

Kwan’s technique couldn’t have come at a better time, and in addition to this, Kwan himself would also play a vital role in taking down one of the leaders of the European vampire war machine, Roskaria, a vampire king and former friend of Hitler, who was carrying out a eugenics program on a secret island. Roskaria wanted to create the perfect human who in turn would make the perfect vampire. Those he captured were subject to horrific experiments as well as put through gruelling tests to make sure they were strong enough mentally to be part of his super race of vampires. From this island Roskaria also controlled many of the vampire operations throughout Europe.

Kwan would be part of a special team, which also included his old friend and former partner Harold Jackson and his former lover Michelle who infiltrated the island, though it was Kwan himself who personally slew Roskaria.

Following this incident, Kwan would travel back to Hong Kong. Feeling that he had somewhat neglected his own people by focusing too much on the vampire crisis in the West.

First Kwan would take care of the original vampires that had forced him to flee from Jaisa in the first place. He dispatched them within the space of a week, showing how far he had come.

Following this he came to settle in the town of Hatsuka, which also had a thriving vampire population He initially hoped he could free this city as easily as he had done his own town and Lawless, but Kwan soon learned that these bloodsuckers were much better organised and were in fact at the centre of the vampire operations of Hong Kong, forcing him to stay a lot longer than he he had intended.

Whilst there he soon fell in love with a young woman named Valerie Yeoh, whose husband had been killed by a particularly vicious vampire. With her help, Kwan tracked down and killed the vampire which would subsequently inspire other people in the city to start fighting back against the undead. Kwan would also open his own martial arts school in Hatsuka, which helped many others learn how to fight back against the vampires.

Kwan and Valerie meanwhile would later marry in 1976, with Kwan becoming the adopted father of her daughter, Amy. Unfortunately however, Amy did not like Kwan. In spite of the fact that he had avenged her fathers death, she viewed him as a menace, who was antagonizing the vampires unnecessarily and that sooner or later it would lead to catastrophe. In all fairness to Amy this would be proven to be correct somewhat, not only by the constant attacks by vampires against the family. (At one point Amy’s school was even attacked by a pack of vamps) but the greater tragedy that was to befall Hatsuka as a result of Kwan’s notoriety.

Just as in most other places, the local gangsters, the “Red Dragons” in Hatsuka had been feuding with the vampire community for many years and the vampires had by and large emerged victorious. Prior to the war, the Red Dragons had been the equals to the vampires who also always had a presence in the city, but the greater influx of vampires after the war had diminished them to a small, pitiful collection of thugs and amateurs, forced to carry out a few petty crimes just to make ends meet. Most people weren’t even aware they still existed.

This would prove advantageous to the remnants of the gang however when they were able to successfully capture both Valerie and Amy, who they threatened to kill unless Kwan agreed to destroy a powerful resurrection spell contained within the legendary Hatsuka Pagoda.

The Pagoda was located outside of the city and was long believed to have been abandoned. Rumours however persisted that it was haunted or populated by unnatural creatures, but no one, including even the vampires were seemingly brave enough to check it out.

In truth however the Pagoda contained a powerful spell that had been created by the supreme vampire king of the East, Hu Sian. Once a powerful wizard who fought to protect the people of China. Hu Sian had fallen victim to a vampire during one of his many battles against the undead. Slowly but surely he united his new people, the vampires and other supernatural creatures together under his rule. Sadly for him however any empire or organisation he tried to build never lasted, as vampires were such cowardly, self serving creatures. Still using his various resources and knowledge of magics. Hu Sian was able to build a powerful spell which could bring anyone who died in one particular area back to life, regardless of how they died. It was arguably the greatest resurrection spell ever devised in the history of the planet at that point, outside of the Gods own resurrection spell to revitalise the earth after Set’s rampage.

Hu Sian then built a stadium of sorts using magic in this area where he would force creatures to fight one another over and over again. Each creature would be allowed to die five times after which if they had failed then they would be banished through a portal to Quortoth, the darkest of the dark worlds. If they survived however they would not be released, but they would be given extra lives. Obviously none of the combatants were volunteers. They d all been kidnapped by Hu Sian’s vampire and demon minions from all over the world.

The arena was located below the city of Hatsuka. Most of the cities population didn’t even know it existed and even Kwan himself was sceptical.

These sick and twisted games became a useful way for Hu Sian to further gain influence and power as vampires from all over the world came to see these games and would pay anything, magic, victims, favours of various kinds to see them.

The magics required not only to resurrect the creatures involved, but keep them locked up and the portal to Qurtoth open were kept at the very top of the Pagoda in the form of a large magical sphere. Hu Sian had tremendous affection for the Pagoda, and Hatsuka in general, as it had been the scene of one of his greatest triumphs as a man. Though some think by making it the center of his new vampiric empire, Hu Sian was also wanting to purge himself of his former humanity as most vampires do.

Each floor to the Pagoda was guarded by a creature that had previously fought in the games and proven its worth. There were five floors in total. Kwan knew that he would have no chance to defeat the creatures on his own, but fortunately he would be allowed to take only two men to accompany him on the floors of the Pagoda. The magic that guarded it would prevent any more than three people from taking part in this twisted game. Quite why Hu Sian had designed it this way, is not known, but many suspect that it was because he never lost his sense of honour and wanted to give even his opponents a sporting chance. Kwan chose his two most promising students, Yixen Chan and Ying Hung who had already helped him take down a particularly vicious nest of vampires.

The Red Dragon wanted Kwan to destroy the talisman that was creating and sustaining the games in the hopes of crippling the vampires empire and influence. Sadly there was nothing Kwan could do to save his wife and adopted daughter other than to go along with the Red Dragons wishes. The criminals had enlisted the aid of a powerful demonic sorcerer and rival to the vampires for help, and through dark magics he had encased both Kwan’s wife and step daughter in a bubble which would rip them slowly apart if any of the Red Dragon were killed. It would also only evaporate if the Pagoda’s spell was destroyed.

Finally the Red Dragon had also lied to Kwan, stating that the vampires were forcing innocent humans to take part in the games. (The bloodsuckers only didn’t use humans because they didn’t last long enough.) Kwan however should have investigated further and would have if it had been any other case. Sadly he was all too eager to brush aside the larger consequences for the sake of his family. To be fair even the Red Dragon themselves had no idea of the full horrors they would be unleashing, thinking that the monsters would turn on the vampires for enslaving them. They also did not think there were anywhere near as many monsters as the more elaborate tales had claimed and that whilst things would get difficult, they could easily ride it out.

Kwan insisted that he and his students visit the Pagoda during the daytime however. He wanted to be sure to have the sun as an advantage if there were any vampires nearby.

When they reached the Pagoda Kwan and his companions saw that there was no entrance. The entire building looked beautiful. It was bright gold (gold was the colour of magic, which suggested that the entire building was constructed out of magic.) Suddenly however a skeleton creature appeared out of thin air to Kwan, asking him if he was here to compete in “the Trials”. Kwan reluctantly said he was, and the Skeleton then told him that in order to destroy the sphere at the top he would have to wear a special magical suit. A yellow suit, with black stripes down either side. Again Kwan agreed and the suit suddenly appeared on him, after which a door opened up leading to the first floor, with the skeleton creature vanishing just as quickly as it had arrived.

The first floor of the Pagoda was straight forward enough. It was filled with six zombies, all of whom could move fast and were very skilled fighters, though other than their instinctive fighting skills, they were still dumb and consumed with a desire to eat the flesh of the victims. The first floor was also filled with the bones of their former victims. Kwan and his two students weren’t allowed to bring weapons into the Pagoda either. Instead they could only use the weapons that were supplied on each floor. On the first floor were three large blunt object’s at the very back.

Kwan had never dealt with zombies before. His speciality was after all the vampire. Still he knew that most breeds of zombie could be killed by a sharp blow to the head. (The magic that reanimated them, often took root in the head.)

However when Kwan and his two friends struck the zombies in the head though they would die, the magic of the Pagoda would instantly revive the magical creatures.

Worse there was no way to simply skip past this stage. The stairs to the next level would only appear if all the guardians of the first floor were slain. Kwan however soon figured out that the zombies could be killed by completely destroying the head, rather than just a simple blow. Working together, Kwan’s two students would hold the rest of the zombies off, whilst he used the weapon to smash each zombies head into mush. Once the last of the corpses was taken care of, stairs appeared at the back of the room, allowing Kwan and his students to ascend to the next level.

On the second floor, there was a giant praying Mantis creature, whilst the weapons, which this time were by the stair case, were three cutlasses. This creature was not a demon however. It was a beast, an order of creatures that originated within the Savage Realm. Beasts were not as malicious as Demons. They simply hunted and killed to survive like animals, though unlike animals they possessed unnatural powers and in some cases greater intelligence. Cyclops, Centaurs, Manticores, Hydra’s and Minotaurs were other more famous examples of beasts.

This creature’s species meanwhile known as the Instregia, were very rare. They stood up to 12 feet tall, and possessed tremendous physical strength. What really made them so dangerous however, were their lightening fast reflexes.

Kwan and his two students attacked the beast at once, but it easily managed to deflect their blows with the cutlasses using its pincers. No matter where and how fast they tried to strike, the Mantis continued to deflect their blows. Kwan tried to work round this by having his two companions strike either pincer whilst he tried to go for its eyes, but the beast it seemed was smarter than it looked, and pushed Kwan’s student into him as he prepared to strike.

The beast then started to make its attack and began slashing its pincers at Kwan. He did his best to try and block, but he wasn’t fast enough and the Mantis slashed his chest and then clubbed him out. Again Kwan’s two students tried to strike the insect from behind, but it swung round and knocked them both out. The beast then dragged Kwan towards the other end of the room, where the remains of its previous victims were. It intended to wrap Kwan up in a sack where it would keep him alive for weeks, possibly years as it slowly ate his flesh. The Instregia did not have to eat much to survive and therefore could live off of their prey for a long time. The magical properties in its sack could keep its victims alive without food or water, and even after their organs had been removed. The creature liked its meat to be fresh after all.

Kwan came to as the Instregia started to wrap its sack, which it spun from its mouth in a delicate process around his legs. He’d never felt a force like it before. He honestly thought his legs were being crushed at first and he couldn’t move them at all. He tried to crawl away using his arms, but the giant insect held him tight. As he looked around he could see the remains of the previous creatures victims wrapped up in similar sacks. Only the head and torso of the one closest to Kwan remained, and even then most of its skin had been peeled off and its torso ripped up the middle. Its face had been so mangled and disfigured it would have been impossible to know who it was in life, but even then Kwan could still see an expression of unbelievable, horrific agony etched onto the unfortunate souls distorted face.

For the first time in his life Kwan was genuinely terrified and did his best to try and crawl away. He wasn’t even attempting to fight back as he knew it would be pointless. Fortunately however Yixen Chan who had come too distracted the beast long enough for his master to crawl towards his cutlass which he used to cut through the sack covering his legs. Chan’s distraction did nothing to hurt the giant insect meanwhile. He struck at one of its legs, using his cutlass with all his might, but the cutlass actually bounced off of the creatures skin.

It was at that point that Kwan realised that the creatures only weak points were its large bulbous eyes and a plan started to form in his head.

Running under the creature and towards his student. Kwan snatched Yixen’s cutlass and pushed his student behind. He then struck at the Insect with one of the cutlasses, and again the beast effortlessly blocked it.

This time however Kwan held on and pushed his cutlass towards his opponent, until eventually Kwan’s sword was knocked high into the air. Kwan then struck the Insect with his other cutlass, and yet again it blocked it, but this time Kwan held the animal in place whilst his previous sword fell on top of one of the Instregia’s eyes and cut it.

That had been Kwan’s plan all along. He knew that if he just threw the sword at its face it would block it, so he had to make the abomination think that the sword had just been flung out of its hand and then he had to keep it in place and distract the abomination with another strike.

His gamble paid off, and whilst the Instregia was distracted by the pain, Kwan struck its other eye with the cutlass, blinding it.

The beast started flailing around, desperately clawing at the air, whilst Yixen dragged Ying who was still unconscious to safety. Kwan meanwhile waited for the right chance and soon jumped onto the Mantis’ back. Holding on tight, he climbed up towards its head and stabbed his cutlass straight through its eye and into its brain.

The beast instantly collapsed to the floor and with its death, another stair case appeared leading to the next floor.

The three men needed a few minutes before ascending to the next level. Kwan knew it was wrong to even ask his two students, who despite their skill were clearly out of their depth to come along, but sadly, even now he wasn’t prepared to ask them to leave. The Instregia had shown him how much he needed help.

The guardian of the next floor was a monster. Much like the word beast, monster has come to refer to any unnatural creature in the modern age, but originally the word was used to refer to a particular group of creatures who originated from outside our omniverse. Where they actually came from, no one knows. Some speculated that they were from another omniverse that had died, others that they were the creation of a rival to the creator of our universe. Whatever the case, the monsters came in many shapes and sizes, but they were all seemingly devoted to the destruction of all life in our reality.

This monster however appeared to be relatively human in appearance, but as soon as Kwan approached it, one of its arms turned into a long green tentacle and it not only smacked the cutlass out of Kwan’s hand, but hit him across the face, knocking several of his teeth out in the process.

Kwan’s two students instantly tried to retaliate, but this time both of the monsters arms turned into tentacles and it grabbed both men by the legs and started swinging them into the air before tossing them to either side of the room.

Kwan meanwhile noticed that there were three pairs of nunchucks on the wall beside the stair case. He instantly ran towards them, picked up a pair of nunchucks and went to his friends aid, before the monster could keep tormenting them.

The guardian swung its tentacles at Kwan, but he managed to deflect them with his nunchucks, which seemed to create electrical shocks for the monsters tentacles. Obviously they were made of some mystical force that could harm this relatively unknown creature. The two fighters continued to strike at each other, both landing blows, but nothing serious for the next few minutes. It soon became obvious to Kwan that the monster was merely toying with him however, as it slowly drove him back to the staircase. Yixen attempted to intervene and attacked the monster from behind, cutting off one of its tentacled arms. He then impaled it, before the beast whacked him with a tentacle towards Kwan.

Enraged, the monster started to assume its true form. Both its legs and its arms (with the severed arm instantly re-growing) turned into several long tentacles, whilst its skin turned completely green. The monsters head meanwhile transformed into a bald, green skinned, reptillian looking monster, with large fangs and a forked tongue.

It was hard to make out the rest of its body as it was concealed behind a mass of tentacles but it appeared to be long and serpentine. Kwan tried to use his nunchucks again, but this time there were so many tentacles that he was overwhelmed. The monster not only beat Kwan to the ground but it soon ensnared him in several of its limbs.

Yixen meanwhile tried to slash at its tentacles, but a quick strike from one sent him tumbling back down the stairs to the second floor again, breaking his arm in the process. The monster then picked up his cutlass and shattered it to pieces.

Ying meanwhile, having dislocated one shoulder when the monster threw him across the room, still continued to try and fight the tentacled abomination. He slashed his sword as fast as he could at the incoming tentacles and managed to slice several of them off, but there were just too many of them and worse, much like a Hydra they’d keep regrowing. Several of the tentacles were able to trip him up from under, whilst more soon came down on his back whilst he was on the floor. Cutting him like a vicious cat o nine tails.

Meanwhile Yixen crawled his way back up the stairs and fetching another pair of nunchucks attacked the monster. He was soon overpowered, but his distraction bought Ying enough time to take off more of its tentacles. He even managed to hack at several of the tentacles that had ensnared Kwan, though Kwans attempts to try and reach the monsters head proved to be just as futile as his two students.

Once again however just as it seemed as though this monster was indestructible. Kwan quickly got an idea. Picking up his nunchucks and his cutlass, Kwan sliced off one of the monsters tentacles, but before it could regrow he struck the stub of its tentacle with the nunchuk. Whilst the tentacle did regrow, it took almost a minute longer and the monster actually recoiled in pain when the nunchuck hit its stump, which it had never done before.

Using this combination Kwan sliced off almost all of the monsters tentacles, and hit them with the nunchucks afterwards until they were almost all gone. In desperation the monster resumed its human form, with both its limbs (made up of surviving tentacles.) It dodged Kwan and tried to make a break for ironically the last pair of nunchucks to defend itself until its limbs could grow back, but with one strike of his cutlass, Kwan parted the monsters head from its shoulders. It resumed its original form one last time, before melting into a puddle on the floor, after which the staircase to the fourth floor appeared.

The guardian of the fourth level of the Pagoda was a vandal. These demons were rivals to vampires. Both were created by two different members of the same ancient race of demons. The Kardons, and therefore were ironically much more closely related to each other than they were to other demon races. Both however instinctively despised one another as their creators had been bitter rivals.

Whilst vandals shared many of the same powers and weaknesses as vampires, they fed on their victims souls rather than their blood, and they fed on them using their claws instead of their fangs. There were many different species of vandals, just as there were vampires. Kwan had a few dealings with vandals over the years. In fact he had even been forced to work with one, reluctantly, to take down a powerful European vampire king. Still just because vandals were the sworn enemies of vampires did not mean that they were not every bit as evil and twisted as the bloodsuckers themselves.

This vandal belonged to a particularly vicious breed known as the Tascersia, though its appearance was mostly human however. It was slightly more gaunt and its expression more blanc than a normal human, and as soon as the three challengers entered the fourth floor, the vandal’s finger nails grew into 12 inch long claws. Its eyes also started to glow red and a cruel smile started to form on its lips.

Kwan as always was the first to strike with his nunchucks, but the vandal sliced through them instantly and delivered another deep scratch into Kwan’s stomach, and then another across his right hand cheek, before kicking him in the chest.

Yixen attempted to land a blow next and went for the vandals feet. He did actually manage to catch the demon off guard and trip it to the floor. Ying then intervened and impaled the monster through the heart with his cutlass. Sadly however it didn’t even hurt the vandal, who responded by slicing Yings throat with one of its claws.

Yixen attempted to help Ying as he chocked on his own blood, but sadly there was nothing he could do and the vandal after pulling the sword out of its stomach sliced Yixen with it across the chest as he attempted to defend his friend, whilst a quick slash to the chest sent Kwan crashing to the ground. The vandal then picked up Ying as he was nearing death and stabbed its left hand straight through his stomach.

The vandal glowed blue as Ying’s body started to wither. Kwan had seen this revolting process of the vandal devouring its victims soul before and sadly he had been just as helpless to stop it the last time. After the demon stopped glowing it threw Ying’s lifeless husk of a body at his two friends, and then pulled Kwan out from under the withered corpse of his student by his foot.

It was stronger than before after its recent “meal” and felt it could have fun with Kwan. It repeatedly slashed at him. Kwan however was able to trip the soul devourer to the ground by grabbing hold of one its feet with both of his.

He briefly held the vandal there for a few seconds before it broke free due to its superior strength. Yixen meanwhile tried to strike at the vandals throat with his cutlass, but the with swipe of its claws the vandal cut the blade into pieces. Kwan however seized the opportunity and with a powerful air kick he sent the vandal flying several feet.

Kwan then had a quick scan of the room for weapons, only to see that in contrast to the previous floors there was nothing on any of the walls. However he soon saw that there was a large wooden pillar at the centre of the room. A wooden stake through the heart was the most common weakness of both vampires and vandals.

When the demon rose to its feet again, Kwan told his student to stay back. For now. He then jumped over the Demon as it charged at him and landed next to the pillar which he broke in half with one kick.

Kwan then lifted one half of the pillar up and rammed it towards the vandal. The demons claws however however easily allowed it to slice through the stake before Kwan could get it anywhere near its heart.

Yixen then tried to kick the the vandal towards the stake from behind, but again the clawed monstrosity was too quick, and it overpowered Yixen. The vandal held its claws to Yixen’s throat and demanded that Kwan put the stake down and kick it toward it which he did. The soul devourer then used its strength to completely snap the stake with its foot.

At the same time however Yixen managed to land a lucky strike on the vandals foot with his own whilst the demon was distracted by Kwan, after which he then flipped over the vandals head and pushed it towards Kwan, who delivered a punch with all his strength to the vandals ribs, breaking them.

Whilst the vandal was temporarily stunned by the pain, Kwan lifted it up over his head and threw the vandal several feet onto the bottom half of the broken wooden pillar sticking out of the floor. The vandal was impaled, though not deep enough to pierce its heart, but Kwan, wasting no time delivered a series of furious punches to the vandals stomach which pushed it down deep enough for the broken pillar to go straight through its heart.

The vandal instantly crumbled to dust and a stair case to the fifth and final floor appeared.

Sadly neither Kwan nor Yixen had time to mourn their fallen colleague as they were so desperate to get this nightmare over with, they both instantly ascended to the top floor. Both men were also running almost solely on adrenaline. If they actually stopped to think about it, they’d not only feel the exhaustion, but the numerous deep cuts and broken bones they had endured too.

The top floor was darker than the others. So dark in fact it was difficult to see. There were no windows of any kind and the walls appeared to be made of wood, or rather magic resembling wood. Finally there were also no weapons to be seen. The fifth guardian meanwhile soon emerged from the darkness ahead. Kwan couldn’t believe it when he saw the creatures monstrous face came into the very little light that was there from the staircase to the fourth floor. It was a Turok Han. Kwan had read about these creatures extensively in his research, but most people believed them to be a myth or extinct. Even the Cushings whilst championing their existence more than most other hunters, had not encountered one in over 700 years. Kwan recognised the demon based on Harold Cushing’s illustration of the creature, that was said to have killed six members of his family.

The Turok Han was contrary to popular belief not strictly speaking a vampire. It was a relative of the vampire family, created by Khastran, the creator of the vampire race. Khastran was once the most powerful and feared of all demons and the ruler of the Hellish realm. He was ultimately slain on our planet, by the combined might of both the Gods and the Angels. Just before his death however Khastran created lesser demonic creatures solely for the purpose of ensuring his resurrection. Once these demonic children, who he shared a link with, even from beyond the grave outnumbered humanity then he would live again. The Turok Han were the first such attempt to create a race like this, but despite their power and ferocity. Khastran soon abandoned them. The problem with the Turok Han was that they were too demonic and could not blend in with humanity. The vampire would prove to be a much more effective creature, as whilst still as evil and bloodthirsty as the Turok Han, it’s more human appearance and the fact that they were once human, meant that they could infiltrate and understand humanity better. Though thanks to people like Kwan they had never managed to outnumber us and resurrect their father.

Still a few Turok Han would survive and continue to multiply over the centuries. The fact that Khastran didn’t bother to perfect the Turok Han curse the way he would with vampirism meant it was more difficult and unpredictable for Turok Han to turn others into members of their own kind. Whilst anyone could be transformed into a vampire, only those with the absolute strongest bodies could withstand the change into a Turok Han. Ironically Kwan himself probably would have been an ideal candidate.

The Turok Han shared their vampiric cousins thirst for blood, though they lacked any higher intelligence. They were driven purely by an instinct to kill, and torture and were feared even among other demons.

The fifth guardian was naturally the strongest of all the guardians and when Yixen tried to attack first this time, the demon sent him flying over ten feet to the other end of the room. Kwan was a little luckier and managed to land a punch on the Turok Han’s chest, but the bloodsucker didn’t even flinch. Fortunately Kwan was able to duck its retaliation and tried to trip the Turok Han up, like he had done with the vandal. Unfortunately however due to its vastly superior strength, he couldn’t even budge the brute’s legs. The bloodsucker then responded by kicking Kwan across to the other end of the room.

Yixen meanwhile jumped up and tried his best to fight off the demon. He delivered a series of punches to the vampire like creatures chest and face, but again it did nothing and the Turok Han, proving to be a lot faster than its towering, almost seven foot frame would suggest. Easily deflected one of Yixens punches and started to twist his remaining arm. Yixen tried to pull free as hard as he could, but the Turok Han’s strength was just too great.

Kwan tried to bring the Turok Han down with an air kick, but the bloodsucker simply swatted him away with its other hand. It then put its foot on Kwan’s chest and held him down.

The monster, proving that it wasn’t quite an animal in terms of intelligence despite its savageness, made Kwan watch as it slowly tortured his student. First it broke Yixens remaining arm, which it then pulled off completely. Then it ripped off his already broken arm, before disembowling him with the talons on its hands.

All the while Kwan furiously struck the bloodsucker to no avail. Yixen tried to remain stoic at first, but as the Turok Han tore more pieces off, he began to scream and beg Kwan for help, but sadly there was nothing his old teacher could do.

After a few more minutes of torture, the Turok Han finally put Yixen out of his misery. First it brought his spine down on its knee, breaking it in two, and then it pulled on both his shoulders and legs until he was ripped in half, after which it tossed either piece aside.

The Turok Han then reached down for Kwan and lifted him up by the throat with one hand, whilst another it dug its talons into his stomach slowly. Kwan in desperation started to dig his thumb into the Turok Han’s right eye. At first the sadistic monster tried to shrug it off, but eventually it became too much even for it and the demonic fighter dropped Kwan.

As Kwan tried to flee however, the Turok Han reached out and dug its claws into his back. Before it could hoist him into the air again, Kwan managed to pull free, albeit at the cost of the flesh the monster had grabbed onto.

Kwan knew he couldn’t possibly hope to defeat the Turok Han on his own and with no weapons, so he headed back to the stair case, hoping he could find the nunchucks on the third floor. Unfortunately however when he reached the stair case it vanished.

The Turok Han soon caught up with Kwan again. (It didn’t help that entire room was now completely dark) and snapped Kwan’s arm like a twig before throwing him on the ground. (Making sure Kwan landed on his broken arm.) The bloodsucker then stood on his broken arm, before trying to bring its foot down on his spine. Fortunately however Kwan had just enough strength left to dodge its attack, but the Turok Han was relentless. It kept trying to crush him under its feet, with Kwan only narrowly keeping out of the way, rolling ahead of the undead demon until eventually he hit the wall of the fifth level.

Knowing there was nowhere else for him to go. Kwan stood up to face the Turok Han one last time, but soon saw that the vampiric creature was suddenly being more cautious around him, after it had been gripped in the throes of bloodlust.

Kwan suddenly figured it out. He remembered reading in the Cushings diary, that one weakness the Turok Han shared with many of its vampiric cousins was a vulnerability to sunlight.

Clearly the Turok Han was scared of accidently breaking the thin wooden walls in case Kwan ducked. Now at last with an advantage, Kwan walked slowly to the side with the Turok Han following him, before reaching out with his good hand and jabbing the Turok Han in the same eye he had previously stuck his thumb into.

Whilst the super demon briefly keeled back in pain. Kwan turned around and used two one inch punches to break through the wall behind, allowing sunlight to pour into the room. The Turok Han was briefly caught in the suns rays and its body instantly began to burn, but it managed to get out of the way in time before it completely caught fire. The monster however was severely burned and overcome with rage for the first time towards its attacker, but Kwan wisely kept in the suns rays and continued to kick and punch at the wall, breaking more parts of it open. The Turok Han however kept retreating back into the shadows, and in desperation Kwan reached out to try and pull the demon into the suns rays. Instead however the Turok Han grabbed hold of Kwan and pulled him out of its rays. Fortunately however Kwan managed to lift a broken piece of wood from the wall with his feet which he then stabbed into the Turok Hans chest when it lifted him over its head.

Unfortunately however a stake through the heart could not kill a Turok Han, but Kwan didn’t stop there and ripped the make shift stake out of the monsters heart and slashed it across the face several times before stabbing it in its wounded eye which he used to push the demonic guardian into the suns rays. This time its entire body started to go up in flames, yet it still struggled to get free of the sunlight. Kwan then delivered a final air kick to the stake in the monsters eye which finally sent it tumbling backwards and out through the hole in the wall. The Turok Han’s body completely burned up into nothing but a pile of ash before it even reached the bottom of the five stories of the Pagoda.

With its death a new door appeared at the back of the room, leading to what Kwan had come here for in the first place.

Before he could finish his task however, he had to rest. The exhaustion and his injuries had finally caught up with him and he collapsed on the Pagoda floor. It also now sunk in that he had led two young men, who had originally come to him for help to their deaths. He had made it clear to both Yixen and Ying before that there was a strong chance they wouldn’t make it back, but they still readily agreed to help him. Kwan had helped rescue their families from vampires after all, and so they felt it was the least they could do to try and save his. Still he should have known they were not ready, but again he was desperate for help and they were the best he had.

Kwan actually hoped that some of the injuries the guardians had inflicted on him would turn out to be fatal, as whilst he would do all he could to protect his family. In many ways he didn’t want to make it out of this alive either.

After a few more minutes, he hoisted himself up and trundled towards the door. On the inside of the room was nothing but a large blue sphere. As Kwan prepared to muster up the energy for a flying kick, the skeleton creature from outside suddenly reappeared.

“Congratulations. I didn’t think you would have defeated the Turok Han. He had over 900 kills in the arena, without a single defeat. Including me. I was once a great warrior like you, you know.” The creature said before Kwan interrupted.

“Unless you have anything useful to tell me, please I’d rather not have an audience.” Kwan said.

“Why is that? You’ll be freeing lots of innocent people, or do you know deep in your heart that is a lie, one that you’ve spun as much as those vile men who have imprisoned your loved ones?” The creature asked.

Kwan didn’t say anything. He knew he couldn’t.

“You won’t be rescuing anyone but your family. Worse if you break that sphere, you’ll be unleashing all of the demons, monsters and beasts locked up in the arena. Your city will become a haven for the very kinds of creatures you’ve devoted your entire life to fighting. Are you really willing to let that happen?”

Kwan paused for a few seconds.

“Help me.” He asked.

“You clearly have greater power than that sorcerer if you’re a part of all this. Please. I defeated your champions. I overcame your trials. You owe me. Destroy the spell the Red Dragons have placed around my family.” Kwan pleaded.

Sadly however the Skeleton creature was not co-operative.

“I want to, but I am afraid, just like guardians I am bound here by the magic of Hu Sian. He would never help you. He loves to play his games. They’re the only thing that makes his immortal life worth living. The only way I can stop you is to tell you that thousands of people will die if you destroy that orb. Your conscience is the final challenge.”

The Skeleton creature vanished and Kwan would think it over for a few minutes. He tried to rationalise it in his head, arguing with himself that if he didn’t break it, his family would die, but that this way he could help fight the monsters that were unleashed into the city. He also tried to make himself believe that the Skeleton was lying to him as well, but in the end, he put all the thoughts out of his head and smashed the sphere with an air kick. He let his emotions take over for just a second and it was enough to damn him.

As soon as the sphere smashed, the entire Pagoda began to shake and break apart. Kwan wisely stumbled down stairs of every floor and outside, just as the Pagoda turned into a massive ray of light, stretching up into the sky, which then vanished completely, leaving nothing behind.

Up ahead meanwhile Kwan could see that the city of Hatsuka breaking apart. Buildings collapsed as the ground opened up at various places and hordes of monsters, beasts and demons all emerged in search of new victims. Kwan instantly ran back to the city to try and help, but there was obviously very little he could do.

For the next few weeks, the city would be completely ravaged. Hundreds of people lost their lives as Hatsuka became a no mans land. Kwan was able to find both his wife and step daughter meanwhile. Whilst Valerie was grateful for what he had done, Amy called him a murderer and selfish, accusations that Kwan didn’t argue with.

Eventually Hu Sian whilst amused by the chaos his former pets were causing, soon felt that Hatsuka was more trouble than it was worth and decided to destroy the city to avoid the paranormal being exposed. Using the portal to Quortoth underneath it, Hu Sian sucked the entire city to the darkest of the dark worlds. He gave Kwan a warning, 24 hours before as a sign of respect for passing his trials. (He also allowed Kwan to keep the yellow suit from the Pagoda too, which did allow Kwan a certain immunity to certain magics and had even healed his wounds after the Pagoda had collapsed. Kwan would continue to keep the yellow suit as his main battle costume for the rest of his life. He became instantly recognizable for it. Some say that he kept it not just because of its power, but also as a reminder of the horrors he had unleashed.)

At the same time however Hu Sian also sent a Nelapsi after Kwan to try and block his escape from the city, viewing it as another fun game. (The Nelapsi were similar vampiric creatures even more ferocious than the Turok Han. Hu Sian hadn’t even let it fight in the arena as he felt it would be pointless as it would slaughter all competition.)

Kwan was able to get several people to safety before the city was sucked into Quortoth, but sadly most of the cities surviving population would be pulled under with it. Finally as Kwan would later learn, some of the demons and beasts and monsters had also managed to escape the city, including some who had become extinct in the wild, who would once again flourish.

After escaping, Kwan and his family would flee back to Europe. Utterly crushed by what he had done, Kwan left his family for their sake. Valerie begged Kwan to stay, but he refused. He felt that not only was he putting them in danger, but that he did not deserve Valerie after what he had done. Kwan would devote himself to finding and destroying Hu Sian. He would bring down many of the vampires other operations and sick games all over China. At first the vampire king found Kwan’s antics amusing, but eventually he grew to genuinely be angry with Kwan and their feud became more bitter on both ends.

Ironically Kwan would later work with Amy, who took up being a vampire killer in his absence. Their relationship would greatly improve over this time as they both worked together to destroy the monster that had dragged her home city to hell. Amy would even apologise to Kwan for having been so hard on him, having come to see how there is a need for people to do what he does, and that had other people stepped up sooner then Hatsuka may not have been lost. At the same time however she also made clear that whilst she understood why he saved her and her mother, she could never condone the choice he had made in the Pagoda. Kwan agreed and every night he would be haunted by nightmares of seeing the city he had once sworn to protect be pulled into the darkest of dark worlds.

In 1985, after working with his step daughter for many years and finally bringing down Hu Sian’s empire, Kwan would disappear. It would later be discovered that he had joined the enigmatic time travelling vampire killer, Lucius Cushing on his travels to fight vampires throughout all of human history.

Together, Lucius, Kwan and another vampire killer named Ferne Shelly would travel through time and space in a magical temple, battling vampires throughout all of space and time. What became of him on these adventures is a story for another time however.

Whilst Ching Kwan would go on to do many more heroic things, sadly nothing could ever make up for the Hatsuka tragedy. Over two thousand people, either lost their lives or were condemned to the most nightmarish hell dimension. Contrary to what many of his defenders and followers say. He knew the full ramifications of what would happen if he destroyed the orb. He overcame the most powerful opponents knowing what would happen. Neither the claws of a Turok Han or his own conscience could stop him.

The important lesson to learn here is that you can never, ever play by the rules of the forces of darkness. No matter what is at stake. Kwan, despite his great intellect and bravery. Let himself become a pawn of not just the Red Dragons and their Demonic sorcerer, but of Hu Sian himself, who viewed the Trials of the Pagoda as an amusing little game. Kwan should have tried to find another way. Whilst his most ardent followers would insist that anyone would have done the same, and maybe that’s true, we must always remember that no good can come of bending to creatures like vampires will, no matter how we try and justify it to ourselves.

Sadly Ching Kwan, who was otherwise quite possibly the greatest vampire killer, will always serve as a stark reminded to the rest of us. For all his great accomplishments, to many he will only be remembered as the man who condemned thousands of innocents to the darkest hell dimension to save his own family.

My First Experience with Vampires

It’s difficult to describe your reaction the first time you meet a vampire. Many things go through your mind at once. On the one hand you try and rationalise it any way you can, on the other however there is a twisted fascination because it challenges everything you thought you knew.

If vampires exist, what else is real? You now know that life after death is possible, that creatures who defy the natural order exist, and that mankind does not rule the world in the way we would like to believe.

Above all else however is the terror of not just facing such an unforgiving, relentless monster, but of knowing that thousands of others like it are out there, hiding in the dark.

My name is Ferne Shelley and this is how I came to learn the truth about vampires.

My first encounter with the undead occurred in the quaint little town of Lista. I had just finished my Psychology degree at The University of Essex. I must confess that I had largely become a student in the first place simply because I wanted to put off going to work for a couple of years. In many ways this trip was supposed to just be another way of postponing my inevitable move from being a carefree, happy go lucky student, to the trenches of a 9-5 desk job.

I had three real friends throughout my time at University, Marie, Claire, and Diana. They were really the first friends I ever had. I was always something of a loner as a child, and I was picked on a lot throughout my childhood and my teenage years. I remember being so happy in my last year at school simply because everyone just forgot who I was, which sadly was a step up to how I had been treated before.

My relationship with my parents had also been somewhat cold too. They were never cruel, but at the same time they never really paid that much attention to me either. I remember wanting to confide in them about what was happening at school, but they just weren’t interested in any meaningful way.

They always struck me as being the type of people who didn’t really want to give up the rich social life they had before I was born. Even when I was a young girl, I can remember them leaving me with babysitters and relatives to go on holidays and even just nights out.

When I went to Uni it was like being transported to an entirely different universe (well at least that’s what it felt like at the time. When I did visit another universe years later it was a somewhat different experience)

I’d been mistreated for so long that someone being polite was an alien experience to me. All I really wanted was to matter to someone.

I finally did find someone who loved me for who I was not long into my first year at Uni, Claire Jane. She was a lot more confident than me, she had a boyfriend named Michael who had been her high school sweetheart, but I still got the impression that she was desperate to meet new people as well.

It was easier for her than me, as she was such a friendly, nice, chatty person and it was through her that I would meet Marie and Diana. All four of us were in the same class, and having already loosely known Claire, she asked me along with Marie and Diana to go for a drink one time. The four of us ended up becoming fast friends and my time with them for the next three years would go on to be the happiest in my entire life.

No one made me feel as sure and confident of myself as Claire did. Really she was the cool, older sister I never had. (Even though she was two years younger than me, she just always seemed so much more mature). I thought we would always be friends, with the both of us going down to the pub as old ladies, but sadly life would take us down very different paths.

It all began on our trip through Europe in the year 1979, (twelve years ago) which started badly, when we soon became lost in the German countryside. Sadly whilst Claire was a wonderful woman in many ways, she didn’t have the best sense of direction. To be fair we were all to blame however. We didn’t really have any proper plan. We had just hoped to travel through the German countryside, visiting small towns along the way,  but we just weren’t prepared.

The long, dreary trek’s through the dark, across German roads weren’t exactly what I or any of the other girls had in mind when we envisioned this trip. I thought it would all be having fun at German festivals, getting drunk, maybe meeting some cute German guys.

When we finally reached the town of Lista it was such a relief, though if I had known what was about to happen to the town, I would have turned and run as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

Lista was a beautiful place, with a real innocence among its town folk, which may have been why the vampires had enjoyed targeting it for so long. The pack of vampires that had terrorised the town were led by a particularly vicious member of their kind named Caros, who had been turned sometime in the 15th century.

He was a survivor, having lived through the rule of the vandals (Demonic rivals of vampires who ruled Europe for many centuries) and both world wars. Unlike most other members of his kind he did not join the side of the Nazi’s during the conflict. Not for any moral reasons of course. Being a born survivor he wisely kept himself out of both World Wars and simply continued to prey on small rural areas.

Lista had been his latest target. For months his vampires had been visiting the town every night, dragging people away, men, women, children even infants. Their victims remains would usually be found strung up in trees near the town for their families to find the next day.

The people at first were too scared to do anything against the monsters. Some of the villagers even thought they could appease the vampires, but when it became obvious that the demons couldn’t be bargained with, the people finally fought back.

The vampires having believed that the townsfolk had been terrorised to the point where they were completely docile, were completely caught off guard when the people of Lista pelted the beasts with bottles of holy water. Overwhelmed, the vampires were driven by the villagers to a massive pit they had dug during the day, filled with stakes. The vampires that fell into it were either impaled or burned to death, by being doused with holy water. Caros however was wise enough to flee as soon as he saw the holy water. (Vampires are notorious cowards.) Whilst most of his men were killed by the villagers, unfortunately however Caros just became eager to get the villagers back for this humiliation. It wasn’t just petty revenge. Having built a reputation as the supposed king of the vampires in the local area. Caros could not allow this humiliation to go unpunished.

The villagers meanwhile foolishly believed that they had seen the last of the vampires, and celebrated afterwards.

When we arrived it had been two weeks since the vampires had been “defeated” and the town was still celebrating. We saw was a mass of people gathered round an effigy of Dracula being burned, and there was also a festival in the streets with people wearing Dracula masks and even children holding up crude drawings of vampires with stakes through their hearts!

I remember thinking it was odd, but I assumed it was just an obscure festival like Day of the Dead. It seemed quite charming in a way and we even took part in some of the festivities before finding a hotel for the night. A warm cosy bed, a nice little town, with an eccentric, quirky festival I could tell people about back home. I honestly thought this holiday was finally beginning to pick up. I have tragically never been more wrong about anything in my entire life.

Caros had slowly been building up his forces in the fortnight since his humiliating defeat. Snatching hitchhikers, stopping cars going down the road and pulling their unfortunate occupants out and turning them into vampires. He also recruited numerous vampire clans from the local area, who again feared him and knew of his reputation as the “king”, and called in favours with other vampires from all over Europe to help bring about his revenge.

However what really gave Caros the edge was the fact that he was able to take control of the towns only priest, a man named George. Caros’ breed of vampire who were known as Nosferatu, had the power to take control of any human being that they bit.

Even the strongest wills couldn’t resist the power of a Nosferatu and Caros had bitten the priest on the night his forces were repelled.

The poor souls that the Noseferatu’s take control over are still awake, they are just unable to go against the vampires commands. The priest wanted to warn the town that the vampires were planning another attack with all his heart and soul, but he just couldn’t. Under the vampire kings command he would perform a black mass ritual to deconsentrate all of the holy water. (A ritual which involved him butchering a woman the vampires had captured.) He also obviously would not bless any more water either.

Caros and his now larger group of vampires decided to strike the people of Lista during the night, just after the party.

It was an absolute slaughter. The vampires butchered the people still in the streets, and burned down houses in order to drive people out (as the vampires could not enter a house without an invitation). Without the holy water to burn the vampires from a distance, there was no way anyone in the village could fight back.

I remember waking up to the sound of screaming in the streets. At first I assumed it was just people getting a little bit too rowdy during the festival, but then all of a sudden, something came crashing through the window.

Panicked, I instantly rose from my bed, still somewhat dazed and half asleep. I could see through the smoke which soon filled the air, that there was a fire at the end of the room. I realised what had happened as insane it may have sounded. Someone from the streets had thrown a petrol bomb in through our window!

I turned to wake Claire who was lying next to me. We had been lucky enough to get two rooms, one for me and Claire and another for Marie and Diana. Clare began screaming at the sight of the fire, but thankfully she didn’t let her fear overwhelm her and jumped out of bed whilst making sure that I was right behind her.

We both headed for the door which the fire hadn’t reached yet. Out in the hall everyone had fled their rooms, including Marie and Diana as they had all been petrol bombed. All of the guests and staff hurried down the steps in a stampede through the hall, down the steps and out into the streets.

Outside looked like a war zone. Buildings on fire, people running through the streets in sheer panic. Straight across at the other end of the road, I could see a figure standing over a woman seemingly biting her neck!

The woman was clearly dead. Her throat had been torn clean out, blood was dripping down the pavement and onto the street. The figure standing over her then looked up at us, all huddled together, utterly petrified.

The figure’s skin was completely snow white, its eyes meanwhile were just as red as the blood dripping from its mouth. It had no hair and every tooth in its head was razor sharp, though its upper canines were far longer than the rest of its teeth. The monsters clothes were ratty, and torn and slime dripped from its fingers. I could hear a squelching sound as it walked, barefooted and slowly towards us. It actually left a slime trail behind it just like a slug.

The smell that came from the creature was overwhelming. It practically choked me. Honestly I wanted to be sick just looking at it.

We all began to back away slowly from the monster, when all of a sudden one of the women at the back screamed. I turned and to my horror saw four similar creatures crawling down the walls of the flaming hotel like spiders.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but before I could take it in, the monsters suddenly jumped through the air and landed on several people in the crowd, including the woman who had screamed. The beasts ripped their throats out in seconds with their bare teeth! We all ran. Marie, Diana and Clare all kept close to me. As we fled through the town we saw people being cornered,  beaten, torn apart by ravenous monsters, but there was nothing any of us could do to help them.

We could hear the creatures roaring and hissing behind us, but none of us looked back. I was just so terrified I had no thought other than to get the hell out of this place!

That began to look like an impossibility however. At the end of the road we could see five of the creatures completely covered in blood and entrails blocking the way forward. We all stopped and froze. There was seemingly no way of escape. As I turned round I could see more of those hideous things coming up the other direction. I still couldn’t even believe the situation I was in.

I almost felt like laughing at the absurdity of it all, when suddenly the monsters began to wince and cower. I turned around to see a young man standing in the road wielding a cross. He had come out of one of the houses. He was reasonably young, probably close to my age, had thick black hair, and was quite tall and athletic looking. He told us to follow him and we all instantly agreed. The fact that he didn’t have fangs, red eyes or stunk definitely worked in his favour!

He ran through the house he had come through on the left end side of the street. Though it was burning he still went through it as the flames hadn’t consumed the whole house.

Marie was a little hesitant to follow however which would prove to be a fatal mistake. She was scared of the flames, but as Clare reached out to try and help her, one of the brutes snatched her from behind and pulled Marie backwards. Another two then jumped her and they all began tearing her apart. The man who helped us said that there was nothing we could do for her and sadly he was right. That still didn’t stop us from having to pull Claire back.

After we made our way through the house we reached the garden. On just the outside of the garden there were the remains of a family. Clearly the occupants of the house who had tried to escape the fire and been pounced on by vampires waiting outside.

We continued to run down the street passing more burning houses, with the man who had saved us waving the cross in the direction of any vampire that came near.

Eventually we reached our destination, a the bomb shelter in the garden of another burning house.

There was a second man in the shelter. He was much smaller, somewhat out of shape with grey hair and clearly a lot older.

He didn’t look pleased to see us at all. In fact he started to scream at the younger man.

“Brian what on earth are you playing at? Rushing out there, when the town is being torn apart by those monsters! Always desperate to play the hero aren’t you? For all you know these three women have been bitten and are under their control.”

Brian tried to assure the older man who was called Alan, and was Brian’s father that he was sure we weren’t vampire stooges. Of course I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, but fortunately Clare who could speak German was translating for me and Diana.

Brian and his father kept arguing after we were let in the shelter. Eventually Claire suddenly interrupted them and asked “Excuse me, what do you mean under their control?”

Brian spoke softly to Claire and said “Those monsters, vampires, have the power to put anyone they bite under their control.” He began to tear up and couldn’t look at Clare anymore. “One of them bit my, my mother. They snatched her just outside our garden.  Dad tried to help her, but he had been cornered by the flames. They’d already petrol bombed our house. I was lucky to get out of my room alive. I could see what they did to my mother from my bedroom window however.  They forced her to, to murder my sister!”

Claire was in shock. I could see Alan at the other end of the room weeping uncontrollably, his head in his hands.

Brian continued “When they bit her they threw her and Sarah together. Mum and Sarah they hugged for a while. She even told Sarah that it would all be okay and then suddenly she threw Sarah to the floor. The vampires then handed mum a hammer and she, she”

He didn’t finish but he didn’t have to. Once he had regained his composure he explained that this bomb shelter was built during the second world war and that even the vampires couldn’t get through it. Brian said that it was best to wait here until some help arrived.

That could be months however I thought, assuming it ever did arrive. Sadly this was our only option. The streets of Lista were a literal war zone. None of us dared to brave them again.

The night was long and difficult. All five of us hardly spoke a word, though all of us took it in turns to cry. We had all lost so much that night.

I tried to remain calm and brave, but at times it hit me that I would never see Marie ever again. Then it would hit me that it was because of vampires! What was I going to tell her parents? It would get too much for me, and I’d break down.

I didn’t sleep at all that night. When dawn broke, Alan and Brian were the first up and told us that we needed to go now.

The vampires could not go out during the day and so if we were ever to escape, now was the time. Brian, ever desperate to play the hero went out first just to see that there were no vampires.

Brian and Alan’s house had been burned down. The streets were littered with bodies and pieces of bodies, blood literally caked the pavements, and most of the houses were in ruins. The stench of death was everywhere.

As we walked nervously down the street Claire suddenly tackled me to the floor. I looked up to see a car driving at an incredible speed down the road, before it smashed into a house on the other end.

Claire saved my life, whilst Alan, Diana and Brian had managed to jump to the other side. The car had come so quickly from around the corner that I didn’t even notice it. As I looked around I noticed a large group of people at either end of the street. The people were covered in cuts and bruises. Clearly the vampires had been torturing them all night, but the bloodsuckers hadn’t killed them as they wanted these people to be their eyes and ears during the day time.

We all instantly headed back to the Shelter with the vampire’s human servants in hot pursuit.

Fortunately we all made it in time, but not only was it apparent that there was now seemingly no way of escape, but the vampires also knew where we were hiding!

As we cowered together in the shelter one of the vampires servants spoke.

“You can’t stay in there forever. This place belongs to our Master now. When he rises tonight he will find you and you will die like the rest of this miserable town, alone, scared and in agony.”

A part of me felt like opening the door and just getting it over with, rather than slowly rotting away in here.

Brian however was sure that someone would find us and said we just needed to wait it out. There was about two weeks worth supply of food for five people in the shelter.

As we sat in the shelter, terrified that the vampires servants could break down the door at any minute, Claire broke the silence and asked, somewhat nervously who the vampires Master was?

Alan spoke, his voice quivering “You don’t want to know. And I hope for your sake you don’t have to”

Alan revealed that there was a pistol in the shelter. It had been placed here by his father, in case they were buried alive during an air raid, and could take an easy way out.

Sadly the gun would be of no use against any of their tormentors. Guns couldn’t kill vampires, and there were only 6 bullets in the gun, but close to 50 humans under the vampires control.

Alan told us that he had contemplated using it on himself last night. “After what those monsters did to my family I thought it would be easy just to end my pain. One quick shot to the head, then its over, the monsters couldn’t hurt me any more. But I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving my son alone to face this horror.”

He was still angry about Brian’s recklessness but also knew that had it not been for his son’s bravery then we would all be dead now. He was proud of Brian, but after telling him so, still begged his son not to ever do anything like that again. Of course given the type of person Brian was, he also knew that his warning would not be heeded.

The day was long and hard. There were so many times when I felt like opening the door and just running through them, but every time Brian and Claire would calm me down.

Claire as always was my rock. She had saved my life, but even more incredible was the fact that she was somehow managing to keep calm throughout most of this nightmare. She’d even try and steer the conversation back to normality, talking about the things she was going to do when this nightmare was over like marry Michael, and try and find a job teaching.

That had been her ambition as she had always loved children, though to be honest I think she just liked the idea of having all those holidays off. Diana had ambitions of wanting to be a writer meanwhile, whilst I sadly didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life, though again I didn’t really think my future was guaranteed at that point anyway.

There were moments when even Claire couldn’t keep her cool however. She cried about Marie several times. Whenever she started crying, me and Diana couldn’t control ourselves either.

When night finally fell we sat there waiting for the vampires Master to show up. Alan assured us that even he couldn’t get in here by force, but he was still terrified of what hideous trick the demons would try and pull on us next.

Sure enough the vampires Master (whose name I did not know at this point) soon arrived by the door with a group of his most vicious servants.

They had been able to enter the garden as it had been completely destroyed and therefore no longer counted as a private residence. We could tell the vampires had arrived even before Caros issued his demands by the stench that arrived with them. Caros spoke in a loud and booming voice.

“Poor, pitiful creatures, clinging to life, when you know its pointless. Come out now and I’ll make sure that it’s quick” He said.

Just then I could hear the rest of the vampires burst out into fits of hysterical laughter, followed by a massive slam on the door which startled us all.

Caros spoke again “Very well then, how about I make you a trade? One of you come out here and I don’t tear this young woman and her child to pieces.”

We could hear a child and a woman screaming outside. Brian went to open the small window on the door to see for himself. Alan had warned him against it, telling him that it was a trick, but again Brian didn’t listen to his father. Brian saw a young woman, bloodied, her left eye black and swollen, hugging her screaming child who must have been no older than three.

Caros spoke again “We’ll kill both of them unless you come out NOW. We’ll make them suffer. You’ll hear the sound of them screaming for mercy. I’ll force the mother to watch as her child dies!”

Brian headed for the door. Alan instantly jumped in front of him and pushed him back.

“I cannot believe that you would be stupid enough to fall for that trick. If you open that door you will kill us all. That woman is clearly under their control.” Alan said.

Brian however could not leave a young woman and her child at the mercy of the vampires and tried to assure his father that he wasn’t simply going to walk out there and expect the vampires to keep their word. He was also confident that even if she was under the vampires control he could handle her. Brian also still had the cross he had used to fight off the vampires that had cornered us earlier, and hoped to use it maybe scatter the bloodsuckers around the mother and her child.

Alan was still against it. Claire also offered to go instead, which Alan was still against. Obviously he cared more for his son’s well being than any of us, but he thought it was an insane idea for anyone to go out there.

Diana and I contributed nothing to the conversation of course as we couldn’t speak German. I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to go out there at that point, in fact I know I wouldn’t.

Brian couldn’t be bothered to argue with his father anymore and after picking up his cross he headed out the door as his father shouted at him.

Outside the vampires instantly swarmed Brian, but as soon as he lifted the cross they began to cower. He quickly reached for the woman and the child. However as he headed to the door Caros placed his hand around the cross and even though it visibly burnt his hand, the vampire snapped it to pieces effortlessly. The girl and the woman then fled towards the shelter, leaving Brian behind, whilst Claire and Alan ran to the door, but there was nothing they could do. Alan did empty two shots into Caros but the blood sucker didn’t even acknowledge them.

Caros toyed with Brian for a while, breaking both of his arms before tossing him into the rest of the vampires who swarmed the young man and tore him to bits. Alan screamed in anguish as he kept firing at the vampires, and it was only Claire shutting the door that prevented him from running out into them.

We could hear Brian’s agonised screams from inside, but fortunately they didn’t last for long. Brian was at least luckier than most of their other victims in this respect.

Alan meanwhile sank to his knees. He didn’t even cry, he just looked completely broken.

I tried to comfort Alan, whilst Diana and Claire meanwhile went over to see the woman and her child, but the child ran away from them and cowered in a corner. Diana tried approaching the boy again, but this time when the child turned round, Diana saw the awful truth. The child was a vampire! It had buried its head in its mother’s breast before, and had been dressed in gloves and a hat to conceal its true nature. Its mother was human, but she was completely under the vampires control just as Alan thought.

Now Diana could see its hideous white face, massive fangs and bright red eyes and before she could move away the monster sunk its fangs into her throat. Within seconds it ripped her entire throat out. Claire and I ran over towards Diana, but it was too late. She bled out in a matter of seconds and was dead before we could even begin to help her. Brian’s heroic sacrifice had not only been for nothing, but it had cost Diana her life.

The vampire child soon attacked Claire too. Despite being just a child, it still had a much greater strength than either of us.

Before I could even try and help Claire, the child’s mother punched me in the face. I’d never been in a fight before and I was instantly sent crashing to the ground, my nose bloodied.

As I lay there on the ground, she grabbed me by the throat and began to choke the life out of me. I suddenly heard a bang, and her blood splattered on my face as she fell to the floor.

Alan was standing behind her with the gun still smoking. The vampire child turned around after the shot and ran towards Alan. Alan however managed to knock the beast towards the floor by hitting it in the face with his gun. He then impaled the Demon child right through the chest with a makeshift stake he had created from a chair leg that he hammered through with the butt of his gun.

Upon being staked the vampire crumbled into nothing but a tiny little pile of ash on the floor. Alan then put the gun to his head and blew his brains out.

There was nothing anyone could have said to talk him out of it. The vampires had destroyed his entire life. I just wish he hadn’t given the animals the satisfaction.

I felt like passing out from the shock of everything that had happened, and the pain in my nose was overwhelming. A combination of the pain, as well as the sight of Alan’s brains splattered on the wall, and Diana’s blood dripping from her throat actually made me vomit.

Claire helped me to sit down and checked my nose to see if it was broken. She lightly pinched my nose and when that hurt like hell she concluded that it was broken. She clearly wasn’t a medical student!

There were bandages in the shelter but as she plastered up my nose I could see a bite mark on her arm. The vampire child had managed to get in a lucky bite during the struggle.

It was the final straw. I instantly started crying. Clare realised what I was upset about and put her arms around my shoulders.

“The vampire who bit me is dead. I am no longer under its control. We don’t know if the bite is fatal or not. Just because it’s that way in the movies doesn’t mean”

I interrupted her. Barely able to speak through the tears I told her that I couldn’t imagine my life without her. Claire then told me firmly that if need be, I would have to kill her.

At that point I wished that Alan hadn’t used the last bullet on himself. I hugged Claire as hard as I could. I swore to her that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her, but it was all pointless.

Over the next few hours Claire began to weaken, her skin turned white, her eyes began to go red and her teeth began to enlarge.

I held her in my arms. My best friend, the person I loved more than anything else in the world, as her life and everything she was, was slowly eaten away by a Demonic force.

She was brave at first, but as her condition worsened she began to cry. She screamed that she didn’t want to die, she was only 22, she wanted to marry Michael, she didn’t want her parents to go through losing their only child. Her final words to me just before she was completely consumed were,

“I can feel it, its all going away. Everything I am, I feel like I am already dead. Oh god this is what they feel like all the time? They can’t feel anything other than wanting to hurt people. Please don’t let me live like this Ferne. Please kill me!”

Within seconds she was gone. I hadn’t even had the time to grieve for Diana before Claire was taken from me too.

I walked away from her corpse and headed for the stake Alan had made, but when I turned around I saw that Claire had already risen. The sight of my friend as one of those things was the most horrifying sight I will ever see in my life.

I foolishly hoped that I might be able to get through to Claire. If I had known then what I do now I wouldn’t have hesitated to stake her, but I just didn’t want to admit that Claire was gone.

Claire began to speak before I had a chance to say anything. “Don’t worry old friend I will make this quick.” She said.

I foolishly tried to reason with her. I told her to remember Michael, remember her parents, and remember that I loved her like a sister and always would.

She laughed and said back to me. “Don’t worry I won’t change you. I couldn’t spend eternity with you, constantly prattling on about your sad little issues and insecurities. It would also just be too be cruel to make anyone live a life like yours forever. It’s not like the vampires would accept you anyway. No one has.”

I cried, as Claire laughed and continued to mock me. “There you are crying again like a little girl. That’s your solution to all your problems, just to cry and whimper and whine to whoever is unfortunate enough to be near you.”

I wasn’t crying for the reasons that she thought however. I cried because I realised that Claire was truly gone. She would never say such a thing, even on her worst day. She loved me like a sister. If there was one thing I was sure of it was that.

I ran to the door. Whilst I knew this monster wasn’t Claire, I still didn’t want to be killed by a monster that bore the face of my friend.

I managed to make it out of the shelter and to my surprise all of the vampires were gone. I didn’t stop to think why however as Claire was coming after me.

As I ran out into the streets I still saw no vampires? What had happened, had they got bored of torturing me and ran away? Just then as Claire came charging at me an arrow suddenly shot straight into her back. It narrowly missed her heart. As she fell to the pavement she pitifully started to beg me for help, but again I was not fooled. I knew the real Claire had died in the shelter. I just wish I had had the courage to slay the monster baring her face there and then. I was too scared to even look at her, and the blood sucker, being crafty and cowardly like all members of its kind soon reached up, overpowered me and used me as a human shield, stopping her attackers from firing any more arrows, before she then jumped onto a nearby roof top using her new inhuman strength and then across several more until she was out of view.

Two men armed with crossbows then came running out of the ruins of one of the houses and cornered me.

These men were from Rentros an organisation designed to track down supernatural creatures. They had managed to slay many of the attacking vampires, though sadly Caros had escaped (and taken down six Rentros troops before hand). The Rentros men would take me and the few survivors in. Among those who survived the slaughter included Brian’s mother, Carla, who the vampires had also kept alive to further torture. They wanted her to live for a few days knowing what she had done to her daughter.

According to one of the Rentros men, it was a favourite activity of vampires to make people murder their loved ones. He felt that vampires enjoyed dragging decent people down to their level.

The Rentros men provided an official cover for the story and sent us all home. My life would be a black pit of despair for the next few years however. Without Claire, Diana and Marie the loneliness was unbearable. Even to this day I have never made friends quite so close. Eventually however I would overcome my depression and join Rentros.

I wanted to make the vampires pay. It felt like that was all I had left. In a way the vampires had dragged me down to their level after all. I’d spend years training with Rentros, honing my skills and body and learning everything I could about the monsters until I was able to kill them.

However as the years passed I came to view them with pity. I saw that actually they were pathetic creatures, unable to feel anything but hatred. Slaying a vampire came to be an act of mercy for me.

I would also sadly have many more meetings with my former best friend Claire, who would soon go on to become my greatest enemy. I will kill her. One day. I know her better than anyone else, I know how her mind works. Even when it has been corrupted by a Demonic force.

I tell this story to let you all know how important it is to have knowledge on what is really out there. If the me of today were trapped in Lista, my friends would still be alive. The greatest trick the devil played was in convincing you he didn’t exist and it important that you do not fall for it like I did.

There is a war going on and whilst some people can get away with sticking their fingers in the ears and pretending it doesn’t exist for a time. Sooner or later unless they are not vanquished, the vampire horde will catch up with all of us.

The Void

5 Theories | What lies Beyond Our Universe | ILLUMINATION
We used to say the sky was the limit.

Humanity has always had a tendency to think that the tiny area it occupies represents all of existence.

The original hunter, gatherer tribes believed that their forest was all there was. The first civilizations that emerged in isolation thought they were alone. Then we believed that our world was the only planet in the sky. Even when we discovered there was an entire universe around us, we felt that must surely be the limit. Finally we opened our minds to the possibility that there were other universes, perhaps an infinite number. A multiverse.

Unfortunately however even the multiverse still didn’t prove to be the end. How could it be? If new universes are constantly being created and each universe is expanding, then logically there must be a place they are being created from, and a space that each universe occupies and is expanding into.

The void as it would come to be known, by those unlucky enough to visit it represents the space outside of all universes and multiverses, and is where they all originate from either directly or indirectly. No one is quite sure how the void functions or if there is yet another space beyond it. For now however it would seem this strange chaotic place represents the limit of our understanding.

In the void there are no rules or laws of physics as we would know them. It is at a base level, literally nothing. However ironically it is for this very reason that it became the fountain of life.

5 Theories About What Lies Outside The Observable Universe! - YouTube
When you have nothing, ironically anything can happen

Our own universe is governed by laws, as are all other realities, though obviously not all universes have the same laws. In our reality we know that a cat can’t suddenly turn into a Tyrannosaurus Rex, that a building can’t magically pop into existence as it would defy the natural laws, and that entropy will affect everything in the end. Therefore whilst life is possible in our universe, there are extreme limits on where it can form and what it can be.

In the void however literally anything goes. There is no cause and effect, no up or down and therefore no limitations on what can and can’t happen. Realities of any kind can just pop in and out of existence. Many of these universes however are not able to form properly. It is known that some universes are brought into existence by the will of the creatures that could exist within them. (Who are able to affect their past due to the lack of time in the void.) In some cases that will might be strong enough to bring a whole universe around it into existence properly, in others however, only for a second before it fades again.

It has to be remembered that the law of cause and effect does not even apply to most universes, never mind something as vast as the void. Again in the void there are no rules and therefore each universe doesn’t even need to have a beginning in the conventional sense as incredible a thought as that might seem.

It is believed by some that the void may not be actually be empty, when universes are not popping in and out of existence. Instead all realities that could potentially exist are present in the void, but as invisible, ghostly apparitions. One of the few travellers to be trapped in the void for a short period of time without any kind of protective suit, said that she could feel something constantly tugging at her from all directions. Hands, claws and goodness knows what else. She could even hear screams some of which were aware of their situation, others however sounded more like echos. Either way she described it as the most terrifying experience of her several hundred year long life.

If this theory were correct then only a tiny fraction of apparitions in the void are able to actually manifest and become proper universes, whilst others are able to reach a half way point and become ethereal beings, who are a step up from the ghostly apparitions, but are still incomplete. Ethereal beings often fade in and out of existence, and are constantly in danger of descending back into apparitions permanently at any point.

Ethereal beings at least have been encountered by the few visitors to the void. Sometimes ethereal creatures aren’t even aware that they are ethereal, and believe they have always existed, only to get a nasty shock when their world starts to collapse around them. Other times they cling onto life at all costs, but end up being driven insane by the nightmarish state they are trapped in. Some of these ethereal beings have been known to try and drain the life energy from other members of their kind, or young, vulnerable worlds and realities to stabilize themselves. In some cases this can work, but they often end up becoming twisted caricatures of the creatures they would have been, and the life forms they have drained.

Other ethereal beings have been known to try and enter existing realities and become a part of them. This is difficult however as all realities have at least some kind of defense, though those without a higher power are the easiest to infiltrate. In a very few instances these ethereal beings can live in the universe they invade, but in others their presence can end up causing disruption as it is unnatural, as was the case with the Devourer, a being that entered our reality billions of years ago. Despite its ominous name. (Which was obviously given to it.) The Devourer did not intend to hurt any of the creatures in our universe. In fact had its reality been able to form properly, then it would have gone on to be a great hero in its timeline. Sadly however its body disrupted the natural laws of our reality, which meant that disasters and upheaval would follow it everywhere it went.

Fortunately not all realities come into existence this way. Many universes are created through what is known as a stable time loop. Here a life form, or sometimes a natural phenomenon travels backwards in time to before its universes existence and creates it. These types of universes are ironically often among the most stable.

Other universes meanwhile simply split off from the original that was created and again are often more stable than the original that birthed them. This type of collection of universes together is known as a multiverse. An Omniverse meanwhile is when several different collections of universes gather together to form essentially a super multiverse. Certain universes may gravitate towards one another for protection. Others meanwhile are created by what we would call deities.

Now deities can come in all shapes in sizes in the void. Some are creatures that simply spring into existence. It’s not just universes as we would know them that can emerge from the void. Individuals, single worlds, even landmasses can and do just pop randomly into existence, and in some cases remain so as a totally different type of reality or being than any we could imagine.

In many instances these singular beings of the void will create other worlds, or realities to inhabit. Other times they may be forced to create them in order to anchor themselves to existence. On some occasions they may simply create them as experiments.

The “gods” themselves meanwhile may be vastly powerful beings who don’t belong in any universe, or they may be an ethereal being whose universe doesn’t form, but is able to will itself into existence by absorbing the power of various other ethereal beings until it has not only stablised but developed the power of what we would call a deity itself, and can either create, or even bring other ethereal worlds, beings and whole realities to life and redesign or rewrite them however it sees fit.

Other deities meanwhile can spring up in universes themselves. Beings as mundane as humans can end up becoming gods if their society advances to the point where it reaches a level 5 civilization, which is able to harness all of the energy in its own universe and create realities of its own.

Type 5 civilizations are exceedingly rare. In fact none has ever existed in our own multiverse, but again across the endless void. Anything is possible.

Not all “gods” or “deities” are interested in creating. Many of them simply want to rule or control existing universes. Not all higher powers are malevolent in this respect however. Many of them can serve as protectors of the universe, worlds, or multiverse’s that they take over from anything else in the void. All universes have natural defenses to some extent. They will all repel something that is unnatural such as an ethereal creature, but there is no denying that those with some kind of higher power are better protected overall.

Our own multiverse was the creation of a higher power. Whilst it would be wrong to say that the Creator has done well by us, at the same time we can be grateful that our creation was helped along by another being. As difficult as our history has been, it is still better than to be trapped in the nightmarish state of the ethereal creatures.

We have only scratched the surface of the void. There are universes and gods out there that go well beyond our understanding. The fact that any member of our species has managed to explore the void in any way, is itself almost unbelievable. It’s doubtful any species will ever have a full understanding of the void however. For now it seems to be the limit for all species, but if history has taught us anything, it is to never assume that we are either at the center of existence, or that we can even begin to understand how insignificant we are.