Looks like I was one of the lucky ones, since I got into my account okay. Hope you guys get your accounts back soon!
Beyond the Glaring Eye
Word Count: 1092
The double doors into the Chieftain’s Hall shattered into a hundred massive splinters from the axes of Chosen warriors. A woman’s screams arrived on the heels of their iron-shod boots, which made the strange and cloudy lavender stone beneath them crack and heave. Bjorn observed the pair of Chosen drag their beautiful bounty –a fresh body slave of the slaneeshi cultists, the Wailing Siren, before him. He reclined into the embrace of the fur-draped throne at the end of the High Hall and acknowledged his chosen with a nod.
“Who is this you bring before me?” Bjorn shook his head disdainfully. “A glorified wench – am I supposed to be pleased?” He looked to Kolli, who lingered beside the throne and cut an imposing figure in his hell-forged armor. “Does it look like I can pay a thousand of my finest men with one woman alone?”
“If only they were content with sharing.” Kolli agreed. “You were supposed to find treasure, fools, not indulging in your wanton pleasures.”
The Chosen that stood on the left appeared to be at a loss for words. Bjorn glanced over the favored warrior’s plate and saw the gore soaked into the cracks. His heavy axe, which he leaned upon his shoulder, was blunt and chipped from overuse. A warrior of such caliber did not take well to being chastened like a child.
“We thought she would amuse you, my lord.” The Chosen shrugged. “But if she does not satisfy you, our warriors uncovered some other treasures hidden cleverly in this palace.”
“Hold her chin up.” Bjorn gestured with a raise of his hand. “Let me have a good look at her.”
The woman possessed an unearthly quality about her, Bjorn spied a hint of an ethereal glow on her pallid skin. Thin royal purple silk draped her better qualities, though exposed enough that Bjorn thought they might not have been there at all. Long raven hair flowed down to her ankles and covered her face in long curls.
“She is interesting.” Bjorn concluded.
Kolli snorted. “Really? You haven’t even seen her face!”
“Go ahead and bring in whatever else you found.” Bjorn snapped his fingers.
The Chosen twisted around and waved in another dozen others into the throne room. They marched in with more women in tow, all of them as beautiful and ethereal as the first. A chest full of fine rubies and gold coins from the Empire were also brought in as well. The parade ended with a dozen marauders that hauled a great painting into the throne room. Bjorn looked at the painting with undisguised disinterest. One look at the starry night sky painted across its surface and how it shone upon an elegant fountain of crimson water was more than enough. Why pay attention to the beautiful maidens that lounged around the fountain, when there was as many in this very hall?
Out of all the treasures in the room, Kolli pointed toward the painting. “You could sell the painting and keep some of the riches for ourselves. It looks like it is worth a lot in gold.”
“Noted.” Bjorn said, dismissive. “Chosen, assemble the warriors, there are debts that need paying.”
“Strange.” Kolli noted as the furthest Chosen left the room. “You see the moon painted in the backdrop? Why is it that ghastly hue?”
“Who cares, Kolli!” Bjorn said. “It’s just a useless painting. I did not think our brethren had it in them to make art. They should be glad we did not end their miserable lives while they brushed their canvases. That would have been embarrassing.”
“Let us pretend that art interests you for a moment… if you would have to derive a meaning form this painting, what would it be?”
“Gah,” Bjorn sighed, but forced himself to look at the painting. “You are a pain in the ass, you know that?”
The starry night sky definitely had a ghostly light to it, Bjorn noticed. The emerald moon in the sky was a haunting sight, shining on the maidens in the picture. Maidens that lounged around in the darkness, beside a fountain flowing with blood… Why were there no shadows of the maidens in the bloody water?
“This painting…” Bjorn glared for long seconds. “It’s almost as if these women are ghosts.”
“What makes you say that?” Kolli scratched his head behind his ear. “They just look like women devoted to the Dark Prince to me.”
“They don’t have shadows.” Bjorn continued. “See… almost like a vampire.”
Bjorn shared a glance with Kolli for but a split-second. In that moment, they shared a brief agreement between them.
The women in the painting were vampires.
The first marauder screamed to death, until his throat was torn from the meaty stump of his neck. The remaining eleven did not even have time to flinch before the women in the room morphed into twisted parodies of themselves. The vampires shredded their victims’ naked skin and tore their flesh with gouging claws. The Chosen mobilized as their lesser comrades died in droves. They were scattered around the hall and outnumbered two-to-one.
Bjorn rolled out of his throne and narrowly dodged the fangs of a blood-sucker. He slammed the back of his gauntlet across the vampire’s cheek, rattled a couple fangs loose, and cleaved her head from her shoulders in the same moment he unsheathed his blade. Kolli kicked the chest full of treasures down several stairs, and slowed another of the night-creature as it attempted to charge over jagged rubies and slipped over gold coins.
“Not the treasure!” Bjorn stooped down and swept a vampire toward him by her ankle, even as it chewed into another Chosen’s neck. As the ghastly woman attempted claw her way free, Bjorn fixed her in place with a sword through her midriff. He took the creature’s head in his heavy iron fingers and shattered the vertebrae in her neck with a violent twist.
Bjorn recognized the first body-slave to be brought in as it raked her claws across his exposed face. He shirked away from the attack, blinking the blood out of his eyes. He took a few collective steps backward until Kolli had his back. The Chosen laid scattered about the hall where they had been overwhelmed. A seething mass of vampires circled the two brothers, who stood on the steps to the throne.
Kolli grinned. “Well, this is going to be interesting.”
“Indeed.” Bjorn grimaced. “Fight together and whatever you do, don’t let them bite you! Blood for the Blood God!”