Markus was making last minute adjustments to his armour, ensuring it was tight and yet comfortable, when he voiced his question, and it took him a few seconds to realise he was alone in the great hall. A low growl emanated from his throat, and he shook his head. ‘Damned Ulrich wanting to take all the glory,’ he thought to himself. He saw the night sky streaming in through the open double doors of the great hall, and he grinned; the smile of a predator breaking through onto an otherwise human face. Once again striding outside, the smells of life assaulting his nose, he snorted slightly, determined soon that it would be the charnel stench of death, blood and gore that would be impossible to ignore.
He looked up, and saw the von Drakenbloods gathered on the walls, ranks of long-dead, skeletal soldiers with them, and the Strigoi on towers high above, all southward-facing. The two figures that really interested the vampire were the Lahmians, who, with a look of interest that was bordering on clinical detachment in his mind. The ones he had been in the library with earlier were also present, pacing fruitlessly. ‘It does not do to waste energy,’ he told himself sarcastically, the energy from the two slaves he had just drained flowing easily through his veins. He climbed slowly to the rampart level, taking in the atmosphere and feeling a thrill of excitement. The undead son of Altdorf never felt more alive than when he was fighting and and awaiting it. He stood on his own, between those he felt a primal bind with and the pups of Lord von Drakenblood. ‘Not that I shall require the aid of any,’ he told himself sternly. ‘Especially Ulrich. I just want to see how he fights.’ Even thinking the name caused a growl to rumble in his throat, and he twitched his neck to cut it off, as if he was fighting an internal daemon.
Finally facing forwards he saw the army of Asrai that had gathered, determined to sweep away the lords of night, and it caused him to raise an eye. ‘They must have planned this long ago,’ he thought, reasoning that so many elves couldn’t have gathered in a short time. He focussed his enhanced eyesight on the more incredible creatures that marched alongside the Asrai; the huge, gnarled trunks of treemen; one with a patch of bark missing from one of it’s legs, and smaller, humanoid-treelike forms, vicious-looking and adorned with skulls and rib cages. He heard a screech above, the sound piercing to his ears. A scowl crossed his face as he looked up and saw the eagles wheeling. He longed again for the feel of wind flowing under his wings, to ride the thermals, and his arms began to morph, pain lancing up them as the armour restricted their growth. Only just able to control it, he turned his attention back to the approaching army.
The bloodlust was rising, and he was becoming more and more restless, determined to get into the fight as quickly as possible, and he found his sword was in his hand, despite not remembering drawing it. Markus rested the tip of the blade on the floor of the battlement, wrapping his hands around the hilt, and looked out over the approaching army with a look of superiority and smugness. ‘Oh, if they only knew what it felt like to be us,’ he told himself with a sigh, and then closed his eyes. An imagined taste filled his mouth, the sweet tang of elven blood a memory that he couldn’t wait to renew. Eyes opening, he saw how much distance the enemy had closed, and he appreciated their speed and the fluidity of the elven movements, ‘Still, they are but cattle.’ Almost uniformly, the elves stopped, and boulders, launched from the immensely powerful arms of treemen, collided with the stone, but the ancient architecture seemed to be up to the challenge. “Or so we can but hope,” he muttered, casting suspicious eyes over the battlements around his feet, almost convinced it would collapse beneath him.
Movement further along the line, where Mordred himself, the only male von Drakenblood that Markus felt cowed by, drew his eyes, and he twisted his head slightly to observe the approach of the ornately-armoured skeleton, and the intricately sewn banner it carried. He shook his head and focussed once more on the approaching army, thinking it was foolish to replace a blade with a banner. “Brilliant as a weapon,” he muttered sourly, before giving one of the skeletons beside him a glance, seeing the thin veins of magic holding them together, “Not much better with a blade ...” The huge stones continued to crash against the wall, and as one impacted under where Markus stood, it drew his attention back to the army before him. Another boulder hit, shattered on the castle wall, and a chip flew up and scratched his armour. He frowned at the damage, before tracking the trajectory back to the bark-encased spirit who’d thrown it, and murmured, “You’re mine,” his voice slow and malevolent, thick with anger. His vision seemed to tunnel, and only the terrible, ear-piercing scream of metal contorting under the immense force of a truly huge boulder brought him back to his senses.
In less than a second, he decided to move, to position himself before the hole in von Drakenblood’s defences, and he spun about, roughly pushing past skeletons and then leaping down the stairs, landing lightly despite the weight of his armour, fist still clenched around the hilt of his sword, which he brandished like a child does a stick. He took an unnecessary breath, a throw-back to his days as fighting as a human, and swung his shield off of his back to his left arm, adjusting the weight slightly so it sat more comfortably, and held his blade ready, awaiting the first enemies that dared try his wrath. He gazed out of the broken gates, and it was akin to looking through a portal to another world - the elves moved behind dryads; a wall of living wood, devoid of the sweet nectar Markus desired, obscuring the true prize. “Cowards.”
Another screech drew his gaze skywards, and he saw the eagles diving and delivering elves directly onto the walls, elves seemingly effortlessly stepping from their winged mounts onto the ramparts, or executing perfect leaping backflips, bows drawn, and firing as they landed. He growled, about to run back up the stairs, and then the dryads began their own assault. “Finally.” The word was almost spat at the oncoming wave of bark, and he spied eyes that hinted at a hint of madness in the soul within.
He stepped forward, spinning his sword once to gain some momentum, and then started to close the distance between himself and the spirits that aided the Asrai. Markus started to gather the winds of magic to himself, smiling grimly as he felt it wrap around him like a burial shroud, the dark pulse of necromantic magic yielding to his indomitable will, but, when he started muttering in the language of the Great Necromancer himself, ancient Nehekharan, to bring down the gaze of Nagash himself on his enemies, the control slipped away, like water through cupped fingers, and he found himself scrabbling to retain control of it even as felt, somewhere deep in the enemy ranks, a wizard defy his grasp on the magic, countering with his own spells and drawing the magic to himself.
Angered even beyond what Ulrich had managed to achieve, Markus howled, the sound animalistic, and his eyes looked crazed below the rim of his helmet; his fangs sliced into the soft flesh of his lips, and rivulets of blood started to trickle down his chin. Despite it looking like he’d lost control of his senses, the vampire was evaluating everything and, when he struck the line of dryads, Markus blocked the scrabbling, wooden claws of a dryad and countered with his blade, driving the black metal through it’s chest, and twisting his wrist sharply, the creature had deep tears through it’s body, running from the central wound, and it screeched as the life left it. Before it’s body was on the floor, he was moving again, spinning around and blocking more attacks. The feel of an arrow slamming into his shoulder spun him a bit further, and he snapped it off using the side of his shield, the point still buried within his armour, and allowed the momentum to feed through into his sword, the blade whistling with speed as it travelled, and sliced easily through the dryad’s neck. Life left the wood and the head hit the stone floor with a hollow thud. Eyes moving quickly, he saw he was through the thin dryad lines and he now faced elves, fighting with short blades and tracing movements with drawn bows. He danced to the side and an arrow sang past him, sinking deep into the skull of a skeletal warrior behind him, before he launched himself forward and grabbed a female elf, pulling her to his chest and tearing her throat out, blocking a sword blow as he did so, before he dropped the twitching body, whose clothes were even then so saturated with the crimson life-blood that it was starting to pool and slide slowly, almost malevolently, down her neck to the ground. A skeletal warrior moved between him and his next target, and struck, knocking the elven form to the ground, before a blade was driven through it’s sternum, severing vital strands of magic, and it collapsed, the brittle, hollow bones tinkling and shattering as they impacted on the stone-covered ground. Reversing his grip on the hilt of his sword, and grasping it with both hands, drove it down hard, puncturing armour, skin and organs, blood oozing from the wound and dripping from his sword mesmerically when he withdrew it.
Malochai von Carstein; Terror of Hunger Wood, Lord of Lichenhof Tower
Last edited by Malochai; 09-09-12 at 01:24 PM.