Immortality Is Relative – Part 3: The Sea of Blood
My name is Ian-Flannery McKern and I am an Immortal Vampire Hunter. As a play-thing to the Gathering and a hunter of the dark beasts of the night, I had lived my life on a two-edged blade. On the one side there is the others of my mysterious race that want my head; on the other, there is the Vampire clans that want my blood, and then my head. These two factions keep my life constantly moving; always looking for new places to hide and fulfill my destiny; to rid the world of the evil vermin of the dark.
At sea, I felt closer to myself and free from the ever-pulling will of the Gathering. I served on a frigate during the mid-seventeenth century, ferrying colonials and supplies to the New World. Jerome DeLarouge was my captain, and a fellow Immortal. He and I spent the better half of the 16th century learning swordsmanship from every master we could find. Our quest was fruitful, and not without its encounters, but that is a separate set of tales.
Our ship was sure and solid, built in the best harbor the Brits had to offer. Her name was the Lady Louise, after one of Jerome’s lost loves. That was his weakness; he fell in love too easily. The sea was unnaturally choppy this one hazy day; it worried both Jerome and I. The crew was uneasy all day, as were the fresh load of passengers; a hold full of high paying dilettantes wanting to see the New World of the British Colonies. They were ignorant to the darkness that loomed over us.
Jerome gave the orders to prepare for a storm, and the crew responded promptly, as did I. I went below to warn the passengers and secure any loose cargo. I ran into Camille Arling, a beautiful young miss who seemed to have an eye for me, although Jerome had made many attempts to make it into her bed. She looked scared and alone, although she did not travel alone; her mother was somewhere on board.
“What is wrong, Ian? Is there trouble?” she sweetly inquired. I must admit that I was attracted to her, despite my sworn oath to avoid getting involved with a woman.
“The captain thinks so. Don’t worry, it shouldn’t be too bad if you get back to your quarters and secure everything.” I said. She gave me the most pitiful look from those dark brown eyes.
“Ian, can I stay with you. I’d feel safer.” I should have expected that.
“I’m sorry. I’ll be trying to keep the ship together. You’d be a lot safer in your quarters with your mother. No need to worry her.”
She pouted as she gave in and agreed. I soon was deep in the cargo bay, securing our guests’ belongings.
I was working my way back up to the deck, when I heard the look-out shout, “Sail, hooo. Off the starboard bow…”
I immediately quickened my pace. I felt uncomfortable about another sail. Pirates were not uncommon in these seas. I stopped by my quarters to retrieve my sword, the majestic Alkranon, the Undead Slayer. It vibrated in my hand comfortably, as if it missed me grip.
The captain was atop the bridge, scanning the seas with the telescope. He stopped scanning just off the starboard bow. “They fly a black flag” Certainly a bad sign, I said to myself. “It’s the… “he strained to read the name of the ship,”… Drack’ul Marinus… the Sea Dragon.”
I stopped at the railing to peer in the already dark cloudy midday. The sails were barely visible. It was a large ship, probably 2 crew for every 1 of ours. I then looked at Jerome, who looked concerned for his crew. He gave the order to prepare for attack, and unsecure the cannons. They would almost be upon us by the time we had the cannons ready.
Our worries were confirmed as the first barrage of cannons from our apparent adversary splashed just feet from our hull, and smashed through a sail. It swiftly approached our bow, with obvious intentions of boarding. I peered around our deck, surveying the crews progress. A crew member next to me seemed suddenly curious.
“Ian, Your sword?”
I looked down at my side, where my sword hung. Since I acquired the sword, I found out it has a longer range than my natural sense, and I learned to trust it. At this time, it was glowing with a bright iridescent light. Never had it glowed so bright at such a great distance. I felt the burning sensation of destiny’s fierce grip on my soul. Adrenaline surged through my Immortal veins. My interest was peaked at the thought of encountering a sea-faring species of vampire for the first time. I have run into many types of vampires, from the subterranean to the polar type. Each had something different about them, which accounted for the many discrepancies the legends had. However, my thoughts swayed to the uneasy brightness of my sword. Why so bright? It had to mean something, but my mind was not in the right frame of thought to think about it. I was prepared for battle; battle against my worst enemy.
I looked up at Jerome, who knew of my sword’s strange magical power, and my quest. He gave me a reassuring look that let me know that he would be fighting by my side every step of the way.
I set myself, ready for boarders as the ship pulled along side. As light from our lanterns shed a hazy orange hue over the dark ship’s deck, I, as did many others, realized there was no one at the wheel, nor any one at the rails ready to swing over on ropes. I heightened my instincts as I prepared for the worse.
I’ve encountered many shape-shifting breed of vampires, and it came apparent to me that this was one of them. I large pack of strange sea wolves leaped from the ship’s deck from behind the rail, hidden in the shadows. In mid-flight, they changed instantaneously to their humanoid shapes, and landed in the middle of our deck. There weren’t as many as I expected, but they were vampires, and that made it so much worse.
“Aim for their hearts, laddies… for their hearts.”, screamed Jerome. He had learned much from our near-century long travels.
Many of the men fell quickly, for this breed was very fast and agile. I slew several, as I fought my way through the crowd. I could see Jerome fight towards me in the crowd of hissing fangs, and screaming men. These simple mortals were not prepared for this visit from Hell.
As I fought, I spied something moving swiftly through the crowd. I caught a glance of a figure of a man, briskly strolling through the crowd across the deck, as if there was no battle at all. He disappeared below deck.
I immediately worked my way towards the door leading below. I signalled to Jerome, and he immediately understood. He worked his way to an alternate route below, to catch the figure from behind.
I finally made it to the door after slicing the head off a hissing female vampire. The hallways below were initially dark, and damp as always. The figure was smart to attack during this brewing storm, or was it more than just a coincidence? This breed had extraordinary power. This shall be a challenge, I thought to myself.
My sense sprang with excitement, as did my sword. The light from my sword easily lit my way. The maker of this sword was a master at his craft; what better power to give a vampire hunting-sword than producing light.
The figure was near. I felt that he sensed me as well, as if he was expecting me. I worked my way down to the crew quarters, near my cabin.
I heard a scream from a female voice. Camille…
This was developing into a very difficult situation. Why was Camille here in crew quarters? Of course, she wanted to be with me; she was probably in my quarters now. I slowly pushed the door open. I did not try to hide my sword.
“Ian-Flannery McKern, I presume. When I heard you were on this ship… I just had to stop by, and meet the great slayer of my kind. By the way, aren’t you supposed to be slaying your own, not mine.”
The voice was as cold as the deepest fathoms of the sea. The stench in my room was of rotten flesh that had been at sea too long. However, I did not recognize the voice. When the glow passed over the figure, who quivered from it brightness, I saw a face of a well dressed Turkish man, in European clothing. He held Camille by the neck with one hand, and in another was a cutlass.
“Let me introduce myself, sir. I am Alexis Rutyer Blackard, and I am here for you… to meet you.”
Behind me, I heard Jerome breathing.
“Ahhh, yes, the great captain. Another of your kind, Ian. Welcome. Please come in and chat.”
“You filthy bastard. Your head will be food for the sharks once I get through with you. I’ll hang your body…”
“Now, now…Captain DeLarouge, control yourself. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your precious Camille, would you?”
The smug bastard had us at bay, with no other choice but to sit and listen.
“What do you want, Blackard?” I was tired of guessing.
“I want to see your Quickening; how it works. You two should be working towards that little Gathering you people like to talk about. So I’m here to make it happen. I am here to witness two Immortals duel… the two of you, my friends, will fight to the death… fight until a drop of a head.”
His words seem to echo in my soul, their cold grip grabbing my self control and twisting it to serve Blackard’s will. He wanted to see two Immortals fight, and he was going to get it, despite any attempts at breaking his control.
The fight was long and tiresome. The more tired the two of us got, the stronger was Blackard’s control. I pulled a few strikes as did Jerome, but this made us even more exhausted. It was inevitable. One of us was going to die, and I knew it was not going to be me. Jerome seemed to know this, as my final swing landed me the Quickening I never dreamed I’d get, or even want.
I blacked out afterwards. Jerome’s Quickening was a strong one. Jerome was an old Immortal, and that made it an even more shattering tragedy. I awoke with the last of the Quickening I never wanted flashing through my nerves, his knowledge and emotions flowing through me. I found myself alone, on the deck, which was littered with bodies. The ship was empty, many bodies unaccounted for. One body I searched for more than the rest was Camille’s. There was no sign of the poor girl. The bastard had taken her. This was salt in an already painful wound. I swore then to find him and slay him in punishment for the innocence he had violated. Alexis Rutyer Blackard will die on the blade of Alkranon.
One comforting sensation did flow through me as I prepared a life boat with supplies and set the Lady Louise afire. It was Jerome’s final emotion; his final thought, as my blade sliced through his neck. Forgiveness…