Vampire Slayer Ferdie, Chapter Seven:

“Wait, Bobetta has minions!?!”

        A crowd had already appeared by the time Ravyn and Ferdie raced into the clearing, the locals gathering around the tent given to Squeaks and Ferdia. It now possessed several small holes through one side which were being examined with curiosity by several soldiers while a few more attempted to coax a squawking yellow kiwi down from the top of a nearby tree. Squeaks was standing at the base of said tree, glaring upwards.

        “I thought kiwis were flightless birds,” Iiwi said wryly to an astonished Beak as the two late arrivals approached them.

        “What happened,” Ferdie demanded, a bit breathless. However the only responses he received were a blank look and hysterical laughter.

        “I'm not coming down until you take that gun away from her,” Bob suddenly yelled down from his precarious perch.

        “Consider yourself lucky she missed,” the mouse below him dryly replied. “That was a particularly stupid thing to do.”

        “I missed,” Ferdia said, tone indignant, as she stepped out of the tent. “Rats! I thought for sure I winged him.”

        Squeaks patted her consolingly on the back. “Blame the tent. Shooting through it probably threw your aim off a little.”

        “Is everything alright,” Ravyn finally ventured to ask, looking about as confused as Beak.

        “No problems,” Ferdia calmly replied, reloading her police issue. “Bob decided to be a smart-ass and had to be disciplined, that's all.”

        “I don't think he's coming down willingly anytime soon,” Iiwi put in, having recovered. “I warned him not to sing.”

        “That won't be a problem.” Ravyn strolled over to the tree and said in a polite tone, “Would you mind terribly letting him down please.”

        Bob landed with a distinct thud and a wail.

        Iiwi strolled off chuckling and muttering something about the joys of sentient trees.

        Ferdie became aware of someone approaching from behind and turned to see Ravyn's brother parting the crowd, a resigned expression on his face. One of his subordinates stopped him and quietly explained the situation as the others returned to their duties. Eventually, the mouse sighed deeply and muttered, “Our saviors,” in a sarcastic voice.

        The poor bluebird winced.



        Isaac noted the number of underlings fleeing from the 'throne room' in terror as the Master's angry, high-pitched voice rang through the hallways. Somebody was in an awfully bad mood; he smirked, while wading into the fray. I wonder what's upset him *this* time. Oh well, I imagine whoever the genius is; they'll be suffering soon enough.

        The room he entered was in utter chaos, random victims strewn about or merely cowering in dread behind whatever shelter could be found. The warlock fastidiously stepped over a corpse, hiding his shudder of distaste, and dared to approach the dais.

        “Is there a problem Master,” he inquired calmly, ignoring the carnage around him.

        “Where have you been Mage,” the Master Vampire demanded, dropping his current target to the stone floor.

        “Attending to your matters, Master. I regret the long absence but you did command me to acquire the entire list of ingredients immediately.” Bowing with his usual charm, the warlock straightened flashed a casual grin. “Dare I ask what so disturbed you in my absence?”

        “The rabbit girl has somehow escaped the dungeon, perhaps even the castle itself. These buffoons cannot find her anywhere.”

        “Hmmm, an untimely disappearance but surely not that unwelcome Master? An escape will lend her story more credence then simply letting her go.”

        “The point of a messenger is to deliver a message,” the vampire snarled. “She does me no good if she cannot give the Slayer false information so I can lure him into my *trap*!”

        Isaac coughed. “Very true. Although this situation may still be to your advantage.”

        “Who knows if she'll even survive the wildlands? She'll do me no good dead.”

        “If she's resourceful enough to escape then I suspect her chances of survival are strong. Asides, there is always the vassal you keep in the dungeon.”

        That seemed to placate the cloaked figure as he subsided onto his throne. “True. I had other plans for him but they can be changed. Should the girl survive, the news of the princess' capture will send the Slayer straight into my clutches anyway. No hero can resist rescuing the damsel in distress. The only obstacle is time. Will the fool act right away?”

        Before Isaac could subtly inquire as to why time was such a factor, a lower level minion stumbled in and promptly threw up at the sight of the mess.

        “What is it,” the Master demanded of the heaving gopher.

        Quivering with fear, the minion got to his feet and crossed the room, carefully not looking at the destruction around him. “It's finished Master. The chamber is exactly how you specified.”

        Chortling with glee, the fiend leapt to his feet, sending the poor gopher stumbling backwards in abject terror. “Excellent. Come with me Mage and see the beginning of my triumph.”

        Curious, Isaac trailed behind as the gopher led them deep into the bowels of the castle to a small antechamber, barred by doors made from solid black oak. That alone stirred his unease, as black oak could not be found on this side of the barrier. Shoving open the doors, the gopher waved them into the room beyond with a hint of pride at his accomplishment. The vampire entered first and immediately began cackling evilly. Intrigued, Isaac crossed the threshold after him and stopped dead.

        “You've recreated the Temple of Eternal Night,” the warlock breathed in amazement

        “Yes, an exact duplicate of the holy temple,” the vampire replied, pleased. “Perfect in every detail. And only a handful know of its existence. It is here that the Slayer will end his pathetic life and I shall finally achieve total domination over the world, with my very own princess at my side. In just two days time I will be victorious!”

        Isaac said nothing, completely at a loss for words. The existence of the room he was in was too horrible to contemplate. All it lacked was the ancient text and the fiend would be able to achieve unheard of power.

        Turning to the gopher, the Master ordered, “Bring the others to my chambers tonight for your final reward. Your work has been perfect and I intend shall give you what you deserve. Go now, I wish to look over the temple.” The minion gleefully scampered away as the vampire turned back to Isaac with a pleased grin. “After all, a secret is only safe the less those that know it.”


        Ferdie had actually managed to find a decent place for a nap and was snoozing in the late morning sun when the next big commotion occurred. Iiwi had been out helping some of the other fliers patrol the skies when she came back yelling at the top of her lungs.

        “We need a doctor or a healer or whatever now,” Iiwi shouted as she alighted next to the command post. “Incoming wounded.”

        The clearing erupted into activity as healers were sent for, supplies gathered and space cleared for the injured. Several cots had just been set up when a patrol returned, bearing several wounded troops, some on litters and others hobbling along with aide. Ferdie almost fell over in shock when he recognized one young female limping along in the center of the group.

        “Lita,” the bluebird called out, stunned. “What are you doing *here*?”

        Lita and several of the others ran forward to lend a hand and Squeaks ended up taking the injured young dust bunny to a cot where she could rest until someone was free to look at her wound. Aside from the various cuts and bruises, she was obviously dead tired as she slumped down onto the makeshift bed and sighed wearily.

        “I was beginning to think I would never find you guys,” she muttered, wincing as Squeaks prodded her ankle, checking the damage.

        “What happened? How did you get here,” Ferdia demanded once she had deposited a wounded squirrel on a nearby cot.

        “That is a really long and weird story,” she replied, exhausted.

        “And probably one we will *all* want to hear,” Squeaks added. “Why don't you go round up the others while the doctor looks over her injury. It doesn't look to serious.”

        “I would have been flattened if those guys hadn't come to my aide,” Lita mumbled, pointing at the patrol that had brought her in. “I have no clue what attacked me but they were *huge*.”

        “Golems,” Sirius said solemnly from behind Squeaks. “Your friend stumbled into their den, by accident I assume. Some of my men heard her cries and went to investigate. You're very lucky they did, young lady, my captain tells me a few more minutes and there would have been little left of you to save.” Lita shuddered. “However, he also tells me you showed remarkable bravery and agility. You even saved some of them after they ran to your rescue. Most impressive.”

        “We need a doctor,” Ferdia snapped at him.

        Sirius nodded. “Here we call them healers and most of them are busy helping the severely wounded. But, since Lady Iiwi has indicated the rabbit lass is a friend to you all, I volunteered to look after her. If you'll step aside.”

        “You're a doc… healer,” Ferdie questioned as the golden mouse knelt down and placed his hands around the injury. Sirius nodded absently, his concentration on his patient.

        “Ah, good. Nothing broken fortunately. However this is a very nasty sprain but that's easily fixed. Just remember rest for a few hours so the muscles can recover. Golem hide is tough as stone, which makes fighting them painful even under the best of circumstances. Remember, next time, to aim for the back of the neck, it's their only vulnerable spot.”

        “I'll keep that in mind,” Lita replied, tone sarcastic. Then she gasped as heat flooded her lower leg, sudden and somewhat painful. Eventually it subsided and she realized her ankle was only slightly aching, the pain almost gone.

        Sirius smiled at her. “Remember, rest for a few hours. That means no weight understood.”

        “Thanks,” Lita replied gratefully. She blinked; realizing most of her fatigue had also disappeared. “Wow, you're good.”

        “Sir,” one of the sentries said as he approached. Sirius stood and acknowledged the whippoorwill. “The healers are reporting no fatalities and only a few serious injuries. Most of the troops should be up in a day at most.”

        “Wonderful,” he responded, pleased. “Have the healers make a full report later. I hope no one minds if I remain to hear the lass' tale. I would like to know how she came to be here as well.”

        It only took a few minutes to round up the missing kiwis. The Professor and his odd little family also appeared, eager to hear what Lita had to say. Once she was finished helping to tend to the wounded, Ravyn came to stand between her brother and Ferdie who smiled a bit nervously at the both of them.

        “This morning I went with the Boss to Bobetta's mansion,” Lita began, ignoring Bob's muffled indignant shriek. “She invited us okay. Someone took out the hideous thing she calls a limo again and, for some reason, she blamed Ivan.” Iiwi rolled her eyes at the innocent tone. “We were in one of those fancy rooms of hers when a bunch of weirdoes broke in, took out the staff then kidnapped Bobetta. They also took me and the Boss.”

        “What did these 'weirdoes' look like dear,” the Professor asked over the sudden scuffling as Ferdia put Bob in a headlock to keep him from doing anything stupid.

        “The main two were a black cat and a raccoon, only he didn't look like your average raccoon. Actually none of these characters did. The cat flung me against the wall without even touching me!” Lita winced in memory of the bone jarring impact.

        “Ah, Isis and the Blade, the Master vampire's two most powerful and loyal generals.”

        Ferdia unexpectedly yelped as Bob bit her.

        “That fiend has Bobetta,” he yelled, posing heroically. “I must save her!” ~THUD~ “Where did that treeee…commmme… frommmmmm?”

        Beak managed to catch him before he hit the ground and propped the dazed yellow kiwi up so he could hear the rest of Lita's story.

        “Thanks,” Squeaks quietly said to Ravyn. “Do you know why he had the three of you kidnapped,” he asked Lita.

        She nodded. “Oh yeah. I guess this Master vampire is the one in all black?” The Professor nodded. “Yeah, he spilled most of his plan to the ball of fluff. He didn't know I was listening. He thinks she's some sort of Princess from the kingdom of San Viano.” There were several snickers at *that* statement. “She was supposed to be the bait in a trap for the 'Slayer'? The whole 'I have your fiancée, if you ever want to see your beloved again, surrender yourself to me,' or something like that.”

        Several listeners gasped and poor Ferdie paled then screeched as Bob tackled him, snarling.

        “Why would the villain take *my* fiancée if he was trying to trap *you*,” the yellow kiwi shouted, almost strangling his friend. Ferdie wheezed out something incomprehensible in his defense. “Have you been sneaking around with my Bobetta behind my back?!”

        Ferdia stepped in and hauled Bob off her brother, giving him a good shake as she did. “Come on Bob, you know Ferdie has better taste, I mean sense then that. Obviously the fiend made some sort of mistake.”

        “Then the princess does not love Master Ferdie,” Hazel demanded.

        Ferdia snorted. “Of course not. And she's *not* a princess! I don't know where the vampire got his information but he's so wrong it's almost funny.”

        “Speak for yourself,” Ferdie wheezed.

        “The fiend has many minions capable of discovering whatever information he desires,” the Professor put in. “However, they are not all the brightest of creatures. Miss Ferdia is no doubt correct, the fiend has made some sort of mistake.”

        Squeaks spoke up then. “But why take you and Ivan.”

        “He needed a messenger apparently,” Lita replied. “Probably thought it would seem more believable if it came from someone you guys know. I can't believe this is some sort of parallel world! It's a pretty cool place, at least the parts without the monsters. Reminds me a little of home.”

        “We must rescue Bobetta,” Bob said, stomping his foot. “My fiancée is in the clutches of an evil villain and *I'm* not even the hero of this story! This only happened 'cause *you* don't have a girlfriend. Stupid fanfic author decides to substitute in mine!”

        Out the blue, a lightening bolt strikes Bob turning him into something that vaguely resembles fried chicken.

        “You think he would have learned by now,” Iiwi muttered to Lita.

        “Even I know you never piss off the author,” she quietly replied. “Wait, let me get this straight. *Cowardboy* is this Slayer?” Iiwi nodded. “Weird. Don't worry Bob, he's not your rival, it's the clone of the Boss you should worry about.”

        “WHAT!” (Take your pick as to who yelled it the loudest).

        “The Master vampire looks like *Ivan*,” Iiwi demanded in shock.

        Lita nodded. “Yep, I saw his face after he proposed to the 'princess'.”

        “WHAT?” (Okay, this time is was Bob, although he did have competition).

“He fell for her, completely. It was surreal. So now he's going to make her his bride and give her all sorts of gold and jewels and unimaginable power too, I guess. Plus he's giving her minions.”

        “Wait, Bobetta has minions!?” Ferdia's mind boggled at the idea.

         She wasn't alone.

        “If the fiend wishes to make her his bride then he must turn her,” Ravyn softly put in. “It is the only way he can share his power.”

        The Professor agreed. “Indeed. Simply controlling her mind would not be enough.”

        “No wait, *Bobetta* has minions!?” Squeaks leaned over and patted his partner on the shoulder in sympathy.

        “How does he do this turning,” Bob angrily demanded.

        “It must be done on the night of a new moon,” Ravyn informed him. “Although, it's likely that he has already started manipulating her in preparation.”

        “Bobetta. Has minions?”

        “Will you drop it already,” Bob growled at Ferdia. “Bobetta's in danger! Who knows what unspeakable horrors that fiend has already done to her!”


        Bobetta was having the time of her life.

        (I'm leaving it there because even the least disturbing images that thought conjures up still terrify me because… well, it's *BOBETTA*!)


        “When is the next new moon,” Squeaks inquired once Bob was sufficiently sedated.

        “The pinnacle of it will be two days from now,” Sirius replied. “Once the sun sets, full darkness will cover the land and a fiends power will be at it's maximum.”

        “Yeah, that fits,” Lita said, settling back on the cot for a nap. “I can't tell you much more but I did find out that the clone is planning something major in two days time. It's like this huge secret but most of the castle is preparing for it. I gathered whatever it is won't be pretty.”

        “That gives us two days to find a way into the castle,” Sirius informed the others. “Whatever the fiend is planning has to be stopped.”

        “Wha aba ma phiancee,” Bob said through the gag in his mouth.

        “I think he asked what we should do about Miss Bobetta,” Beak interpreted. “Must we wait that long to save her?”

        Ravyn sighed. “We've lost what element of surprise we had. The fiend knows we have to at least attempt to stop him and rescue the princess. The vampire will already be prepared for our arrival which means we'll be going straight into a trap.”

        “Can we move sooner,” Squeaks queried. “Granted complete darkness would give us an advantage in terms of cover but we'd be facing a horde of fiends at full strength right? How quickly can your men be organized?”

        “Half a day, easily,” Sirius replied. “But that isn't the problem. It's not just the minions we'll have to face. An invisible shield surrounds the entire castle. Breaking through it will take our mystics many hours, especially if we don't want to get caught. Otherwise, the only way through is to have the permission of the Master Vampire himself. He controls it.”

        “But he will need to lower it when the sun sets,” Hazel reminded them, voice excited. “He cannot perform the ceremony to turn Sir Bob's princess and still maintain it. All his power must be focused inward at that point.”

        “That still leaves us without a way in or without the element of surprise,” Ferdia muttered. “If the vampire knows we're coming he'll throw everything he has at us.”

        “Wait, I didn't run into any shield, invisible or otherwise.” Everyone turned to look at Lita. “Maybe it only protects part of the castle.”

        Ravyn shook her head. “No, the fiend must have lowered it when he released you.”

        “But he didn't. I escaped. I found the way out on my own, anyway.”

        “What do mean lass,” the Professor asked, confused. “Surely you could not have escaped that terrible place unaided.”

        “Well there was someone, a voice anyway. It told me to stay quiet and pay attention. Then my manacles suddenly came off and the door to the cell they put me in opened without any effort. But after that I was pretty much on my own.”

        “Could someone have helped her,” Iiwi said, looking at the natives. “Someone who at least wanted her to get free.”

        “No doubt the work of the Master vampire,” the owl concluded. “All a pretense to lure us into acting unwisely. If we believe the answer to infiltrating his domicile lies in the lass' escape route, we will fall directly into his foul clutches.”

        “No, I don't think so,” Sirius replied. “Pretense is not the style of this fiend. Direct and bloody suit the vampire better. Asides, the lass was to deliver a message directly to the Slayer, an ultimatum most likely. Why let her loose without making sure she knows exactly what to say. Also, why allow her to roam about in the castle? There's no predicting what she might have stumbled across, what information she could have brought us.”

        “Perhaps,” the Professor snidely responded. “I still say it is highly unlikely. I suggest we make our plans for that evening but find an alternative route. I am certain the Slayer can devise a most admirable plan.”

        The bluebird in question merely laughed nervously.


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