Vampire Slayer Ferdie, Chapter Eight:
She is an unholy torment the likes of which no creature deserves.
(For those of you actually bothering to keep track of a timeline, we have now skipped forward two days. Any complaints can be lodged with the 30-foot tall void elemental in the corner.)
The harpy like shriek of rage rang through the castle sending hapless minions scurrying for the nearest hiding place as the female covered from head to toe in black leather stormed into the meeting hall, screeching at the top of her over inflated lungs.
The Master vampire winced and immediately hurried to her side, drawing her away from the crowd into a vacant corner. Now Snookums, I've told you not to call me by my first name in front of the help, he softly reprimanded her.
Help?! What help, Bobetta snarled. The minions you've given me are absolutely useless! Not only are they incredibly dim-witted, they all have tough hides so the riding crops constantly break. I've already destroyed three of my favorites!
But sweetie, you said you wanted to practice for our uh
oh what did you call it? Oh yes, our honeymoon.
I can't practice if they don't flinch in pain!
Isaac, who had just walked into the room froze and slowly backed out, shuddering in horror. Unfortunately he ran into Blade who snarled something extremely nasty at him. Whirling around, the warlock held up his hands in defense.
My apologies, the blind terror was clouding my mind, Isaac informed both Blade and Isis, who stood next to the assassin. The princess is in there with the Master.
A few lower level lackeys coming up behind them suddenly screamed in terror and, with shouts of Run Away, turned and fled.
Personally I think they had the right idea, Isis quipped, peering the warlock's shoulder. Fraggit, she's coming this way!
All three scurried behind a nearby column while the princess stormed by, followed by a small entourage of huge, pathetic looking minions - all a bit bruised and scratched up. Once she had disappeared they each emerged slowly, glancing after her a bit nervously, though none of them would have admitted to it.
She is an unholy torment the likes of which no creature deserves, Blade spat, glaring in the direction his future mistress had disappeared in. What could the Master be thinking?
I do not believe he is, Isis quietly replied.
At least not with his head, Isaac added.
They both turned to glower at him in disgust.
I meant with his *heart*! He fancies himself in love.
Yes but why her, Isis almost whined. She's scary beyond all reason!
It does beg the question, what fool could possibly love someone like her, Isaac muttered.
Blade growled. Watch it Mage, that's our Master you speak of. It is not our place to question his actions no matter how
unusual they seem.
If you say so, Isaac replied. So where have you two been? You disappeared shortly after you brought back the princess. Weren't hiding were we?
Isis calmly restrained the homicidal raccoon. The Master sent us on another errand to acquire something. If you wish to know more, ask him yourself. *If* you're feeling brave enough. Pulling Blade along, she sauntered into the meeting hall. Don't forget about the ceremony tonight, the cat called over her shoulder.
Isaac stared after them, perplexed. What ceremony, he demanded, but there was no response. Then something whispered across the back of his mind and he turned abruptly, making for his sanctuary among the battlements.
The messenger was already there, waiting for him.
About time you showed up, the imp snapped, sliding into existence. Do you know how long I've been waiting? It's getting more dangerous for me to be here.
Things have occurred that have kept me busy, Isaac replied, tone nonchalant, eyes fixed firmly on the horizon. The vampire has something planned for tonight.
That is why I'm here, the imp replied. *They* sent me to inform you of the theft of the Grimonicon, as well as the Three Seals.
Startled, Isaac turned to stare down at the imp. Bloody Winter, you mean someone actually managed to break through their enchantments!
A firm nod. They are *not* happy. Although a tracker demon did manage to follow the trail to the barrier before it disappeared.
Isis' statement about retrieving something flashed through his mind and the warlock actually frowned. This is not good.
What day is it on the other side?
It is the day of Shenior. Tonight is the full blue moon.
Of course it is, Isaac drawled, then he sighed. Take this message back with you: I know were the items have been taken and I will retrieve them tonight. By the time the sun rises tomorrow all our problems will have faded away.
(Just because I had to throw it in, we have a 'Meanwhile, back in San Viano' scene)
The city was still standing.
(Hey, I didn't say it was a very long scene.)
The mages had been working since sunrise that morning to lower the protective shield around their target. The blackened, crumbling castle was nestled in the midst of dreary moors against a backdrop of dark, angry looking mountains whose jagged peaks pierced the cloud laden sky. Ferdie, watching the sun as it slowly sank into the east, imagined the stain of red spreading across the horizon to be the blood of the clouds as the peaks tore through them.
This thought did *not* comfort him in the slightest.
In the distance came a shout of Hurry up, the sun is starting to set.
Most of the men are in position, Harm reported as he joined the assembled group, which included the Slayer and his companions, the Professor's family and the pair of mice coordinating everyone's movements.
I still say this plan of yours is senseless, the Professor coldly informed Sirius. Even lacking the element of surprise, we still may have a chance to defeat the fiend, yet you throw it away by walking straight into an obvious trap!
Calmly, Sirius turned to face the owl and smiled. Learned one, while I value your wisdom and experience I must please ask you to shut up. The shield should be done soon so we should get into position. Everyone know their job? They nodded. Good. May the goddess of fortune smile down on us then. Let's go.
Ferdia and Squeaks made their way to the southern edge of the forest where they would each lead a squad (along with Harm) to the western wall. If they made it that far the plan was to scale the wall and enter the castle through the lower parapet.
It's a pretty good plan, Squeaks whispered once they had verified their men were in place. The two were crouched among the foliage waiting for the signal from Harm.
Ferdia nodded. Simple but effective. Sirius was right to split up our forces, despite what the owl thinks. At least *he* has enough sense not to rely on my brother to save everyone. We'll need a lot more then Ferdie if were gonna pull this off.
Suddenly a shrill cry rent through the air ending in a strangled squawk.
I *think* that was the signal,' the mouse muttered. Make for the wall, he yelled, leaping to his feet, Ferdia on his heels as they raced across the open field. Behind them the archers started firing, the enchanted arrows catching fire the moment the landed, no matter what they hit. Shouting could be heard from the rampart and fireballs were lobbed from the wall. However, thy fell too close to the forest to do any damage.
They forgot about the shield, Harm shouted. They didn't think we'd make it through so it'll take them sometime to adjust their aim. Hurry laddies before we loose the light completely.
The fireballs were getting close by the time they reached the wall, but Ferdia noted that most of her squad was still with her. Pulling out the climbing hook, she loaded in the propulsion gun, took aim, and fired, watching as it arced up and over before pulling taut on the first try.
Nice shot, someone yelled from behind her. The archers have driven them back so we've got a clear path on the wall.
Hurry up then, the bluebird called back, hooking the reel clip onto her belt. We have to make it in before the fliers do.
She hit the catch on the gun and was yanked off her feet and to the top of the wall a lot quicker then she expected. Fortunately Squeaks caught her elbow before she crashed into the solid stone and pulled her over.
Wild ride huh, he commented, trying to hide his grin.
Ferdia snorted. Just like back at the academy, she replied, brushing the dust off.
As they helped pull others onto the wall, Squeaks saw Iiwi with the rest of fliers making for the bartizans along the inner wall. I wonder how the others are, he muttered.
Back in the forest a scout ran up to Sirius and reported. They've made it over the walls sir and lowered the drawbridge. Miss Ravyn and Sir Beak are leading their teams through into the main courtyard now.
Excellent, the golden mouse replied. Order the archers to move out now and tell the main force to move now. I want them inside the castle by nightfall.
Nodding, the hamster saluted and ran off.
Can we go save my fiancée now, Bob demanded.
I've found the well I climbed out of, Lita added. I can get us into the dungeon from there no problem.
Then we go now, Sirius replied. Once we have rescued your friend we'll locate Sir Bob's fiancée. She'll most likely be with the vampire.
Oh joy, Ferdie muttered, falling into position behind Bob and the mouse as they followed Lita out of the forest and through the swamp. The empty well she had spoken of was half a mile from the castle, but a hidden door at the bottom led to a tunnel that ran between it and the dungeons. It was dark, disgusting and incredibly smelly. Plus, all sorts of creepy things lurked in the passageway, causing Hazel to cry out and grab him occasionally. Personally Ferdie was starting to think she was doing it deliberately and he really wished Sirius hadn't sent Ravyn with Beak.
The five of them along with half a dozen rebels comprised the group that tumbled down into the dungeon from a rather unexpected drop in the tunnel. The dungeon wasn't a huge improvement, the bluebird decided, but at least there didn't seem to be any guards.
By now most of our forces should be inside castle keeping the guards occupied, Sirius informed them. Hopefully they won't be expecting a small group to invade from underneath. Now let's find the cell your friend is in.
After a couple of wrong turns they found Ivan who, while grateful to be rescued, was not exactly pleased that he'd been dragged into another of the kiwi's messes in the first place. Eventually they managed to pry him off Bob who'd made the mistake of laughing hysterically at his less then pristine appearance.
Sir Ivan Kiwi, the gray kiwi introduced himself to Sirius, once he'd straightened his feathers. The rabbit is one of my wards. Thank you for looking after her.
The golden mouse shook his hand and quickly explained the situation to him, with some help from Lita. We could use another fighter, Sirius concluded, especially one that looks like the Master Vampire. Will you help us or would you prefer the lass to lead you out of here?
Ivan looked over their mud-stained clothes and shook his head. I think I'd prefer to leave by the entrance. Besides, for once Bob *isn't* the hero. This is too good an opportunity to pass up.
After much bickering and some aborted attempts at booting, they continued up out of the dungeon in search of Bobetta.
Invaders, a rather dimwitted minion shouted needlessly, racing through the hallways. Guards hurried past in both directions, some trying to make it to the courtyard to fend off the largest group while others headed for the castle walls.
Isaac casually stood back and watched, carefully hiding his smile. Whoever was leading this latest group was actually smart. The timing was perfect since the attention of most of the castle denizens was focused inward on tonight's ceremony. The few lookouts hadn't been expecting the invaders to appear so quick or close to the castle. Consequently they'd been left scrambling to defend against a very determined and well-prepared force. It looked like they might just pull it off without any intervention from him. When this was all over he was tempted to find the mastermind behind the attack and congratulate him for his genius.
Meanwhile I better keep an eye on the real prize, he mused as he made his way to the inner sanctum of his 'master'. Many of the higher-level minions and generals were already there, cowering in terror from a very enraged vampire.
How could they already be inside, the fiend was screaming. Why didn't the guards see them coming?
It seems they came out of the Wandering Forest, one minion hesitantly reported. It stopped close to the northwest side this morning and the rebels were apparently hiding in the forest.
Isaac winced as the poor wretch was blasted into ash.
Why wasn't someone paying attention to that stupid forest, the vampire demanded.
It's come closer then that before and never been a threat, one of the generals said timidly, ducking when the black gaze swung in his direction. I'm sorry Master, we've all been so focused on tonight's ceremony.
Thus you allowed the security to lapse, Isaac concluded for him, shaking his head. Truly foolish of you but I think we can still salvage something from this Master.
How so Mage?
Surely the Slayer is among the invading army. Capture him and they'll loose spirit. He is their leader after all. After that it will be easy to get rid of the rest. Your plan can still work even if the Slayer has brought a few more friends then estimated.
The fiend nodded; rage subsiding. True. All I need is the Slayer, the remainders of his forces are easily disposed of once I have him and complete the ceremony. He'll undoubtedly be searching for his beloved, his only thoughts on saving her. Have the princess brought to me at once. It's time to set a trap for my pathetic nemesis. Isis, Blade, you and the warlock remain with me. The rest of you know your orders.
Ivan was seriously beginning to wonder if he could get away with killing a certain yellow kiwi. Showing remarkable lack self-preservation, Bob would periodically attempt to boot him under the guise of checking to see if he had suddenly become a vampire. Just as the gray kiwi was about to turn around and gut him, witnesses or not, all hell broke loose in the form a large squadron of guards who literally materialized out of the wall beside them. While most of the group started fighting the wraiths, Ferdie bolted for dear life, Hazel still clutching tightly to one hand.
Eventually the panicked bluebird slowed down enough for her to let go and catch her breath. I think we lost them, he muttered, leaning against a wall.
Yes but I think we also lost ourselves, she replied, looking around. I don't know where we are or how to find the others.
Either way we're not safe out in the open, we should find a place to hide.
wait, what, she demanded. However the bluebird wasn't paying attention, having moved on down the hallway. Master Ferdie, what are you doing, she called out as he began opening doors.
Looking for a good hiding place, he replied. Try that side of the hallway, there must be a nice safe
hey, a library.
She hurried over just as he disappeared inside, peering anxiously in after him. Master Ferdie, I really think we should find the others, she whispered.
He ignored her, attention fixed on the rows and rows of books. Right now they're doing something dangerous which is the last place we want to be. Trust me, I know them. We're much safer here. He randomly selected a text and began flipping through it.
Believing that the Slayer knew best, Hazel started to cross the threshold when movements near the ceiling caught her eye. She looked up and froze, eyes widening in horror. Master Ferdie, she whispered as quietly as she could, tone desperate. Master Ferdie!
It was the fear in her voice that finally caught his attention and he looked over to see what was bothering her. However she was staring at the cavernous ceiling so he glanced up too and blinked at the massive black shaped hovering among the crossbeams.
Don't move, Hazel hissed. If they're awake the slightest sound will set them off. Those are psychic vampires. They steal your life force rather then your blood. However they're blind but they make up for with perfect hearing and they can move faster then any known creature.
Well isn't this just perfect, the tiny part of Ferdie's mind that wasn't screaming, muttered snidely? Who comes up with these things?
Stay still, I'll go get help, Hazel continued, backing slowly away from the door.
Don't leave me, Ferdie managed to squeak out. Above him something shifted, as if stirring.
Trust me, Hazel mouthed before disappearing out of sight.
Ferdie's knees suddenly gave out on him and he slid to the floor as quietly as possible. More stirring could be heard and he started praying as a couple shapes descended to the group and began shuffling about. Fortunately the room was dark enough that he couldn't make out any features but he definitely spotted claws.
While Ferdie was engaged in a silent nervous breakdown, Hazel was desperately trying to find a way to help him. Her magic was useless since it didn't work on the vampires, plus there were too many to fight. But trying to find help would take too much time. However maybe she could summon someone to help him. Moving further down the hallway so nothing would hear her, the cat began a very hastily put together spell.
Poor Master Ferdie is in danger and I wish to save him from that
danger. Oh goddess of protection send a champion to save him from those terrible fiends that threaten.
While not the most brilliant or even grammatically correct spell, one particularly evil entity happened to be paying attention. When a rather wicked idea occurred to her, she decided to answer the plea in a most unusual but effective way.
Inside the library a spark appeared near the top, growing until it shone brightly for a moment and then a figure popped into existence, plummeting to the hard wood floors with a helpless shriek. After the painful thud, the familiar white-feathered duck groggily sat up and glanced around him. Wait, wasn't I just in New
The vampires pounced.
Under the sounds of screaming, Ferdie crawled to the doorway, scrambled through it and slammed the door shut. Leaping to his feet, he turned around and ran smack into Hazel sending them both tumbling back to the floor.
Master Ferdie you're alright, she squealed. My spell must have worked.
Ferdie just stared at her for a moment then stood, reaching down to help the cat to her feet as well. She immediately glomped him, squeezing hard.
Just fine, he managed to wheeze out. Thanks.
We should find the others now, Hazel said decisively. They must be terribly worried.
All of a sudden they both noticed the screams and pleas for mercy coming from the library had died out and, slowly, they both turned to look at the door. As it began to creep open they bolted, neither one aware, until it was too late, that they'd gone in opposite directions.
Ferdie stopped running when he ran smack into a wall which got it's revenge by spinning around, dumping him into a completely new corridor, this one poorly lit. That's when he realized he was now lost *and* alone, as Hazel was nowhere in sight.
I don't believe this, he muttered, getting to his feet. The one time the kid doesn't stick to me like glue. Great, now I'll probably stumble into a nest of telepathic werewolves who have no sense of smell or something.
Fighting down hysterical giggles, he started down the corridor (when the wall behind him refused to budge), glancing nervously down side hallways as he passed. Several times he passed open doorways and he'd glance into the rooms, hoping they were empty but not taking any more chances. Eventually he came to the conclusion that this part of the castle was unoccupied and he began to relax, turning his walk into a game.
Music room, he guessed after passing one open doorway. Game room of some sort. Bedroom. Sewing room. Too bad one of these isn't a bathroom. Let's see, room filled with dozens of tea cozies. He paused for a second. Okay, that was weird.
Moving further down, he peered into a room on his left. Room filled with all sorts of riding crops and whips and chains and
. Moving on.
Detecting the order of something cooking, he took a side hallway and stumbled across a kitchen. Looking inside he blinked in astonishment. One armed, retarded zombie pouring pasta into a strainer. Oooookay.
The poor bluebird slowly backed out and continued hurriedly down the passage, eyes a little too wide and dazed. Finally he came to a crossway where he paused and tried not to go hysterical.
I need to find somebody. Anybody. Before I lose it completely. Wait, I wonder if talking to yourself is a sign of dementia?
As if responding to his thoughts, Ferdie spotted a black furred figure in a crimson cloak pass the end of the passageway to his left. Immediately he was off and running, calling Ravyn's name as he ran.
Hazel was hopelessly lost and feeling immensely sorry for herself. After losing Master Ferdie she'd wandered around aimlessly for a while, hoping she might accidentally come across him.
No such luck.
Now she was actively looking for any familiar face even if she did get yelled at for losing the Slayer. A loud commotion drew her attention and, recognizing some of the voices, she ran towards them, hoping she'd found help.
What do you mean you *lost* my brother, Ferdia shrieked, ignoring the arm lock Squeaks had her in. He's supposed to be your savior or some nonsense, how could you lose him?
He took off when the fighting started, Bob snapped. We were a little too busy fighting for our lives to notice when his natural cowardice kicked in.
Ferdia lunged at Bob's throat (who was flung into her reach by Ivan).
He took Hazel with him, Sirius yelled as he and the other mouse in the group attempted to pry them apart.
Ferdia had a pretty strong grip.
Behind them Hazel cleared her throat, wincing as they turned on her. Ferdia immediately dropped Bob and grabbed the cat by the shoulders. Where's my brother?
I don't know, Hazel said miserably, hanging her head in shame. After the psychic vampires in the library I lost him when he ran away.
He does that quite a lot, Sirius muttered.
You have no idea, Ivan replied.
Meanwhile Ferdia was interrogating Hazel at to what exactly had happened and didn't look too pleased at the answers the contrite calico was giving her.
Alright, we have to find him, Ferdia announced, glaring at the whole group. He's alone and defenseless in a castle full of creatures that want to kill him.
Hazel winced again.
A section of the wall beside them unexpectedly slid to one side and Ravyn appeared dragging a very bruised and battered looking hunk of rock. Taking in the looks on the faces around her, the black mouse dropped her captive and demanded, What's wrong?
We've lost the Slayer, Sirius grimly informed her. He's run off.
Ravyn stared at him in shock for a moment before shaking her head. We have to find him fast. The Master Vampire is up to something and whatever it is, it involves a lot more then just turning the princess. The fiend is after Ferdie and he wants him alive. A bunch of his high level minions have been disappearing into some secret chamber for the past hour.
How did you find that out, Ferdia inquired.
She pointed at the groaning hunk of rock on the ground. I asked. I also found where the princess if being held.
Bobetta, Bob shrieked, shoving his way forward. Do you know where my fiancée is?
Ravyn nodded. Yes. This one was in charge of a bunch of guards that were supposed to take her to the secret chamber for some ceremony.
Get anything else out of him, her brother asked, leaning down to examine the golem.
Not much. He doesn't know much else.
Who cares, Bob snarled. Right now we have to find my fiancée.
Calm down, her room isn't far.
Down that hallway, second left, up two lights of stairs, then through the chamber to the right of the landing.
Bobetta my love, I shall save you, the yellow kiwi called out dramatically before racing off in the wrong direction.
Bob you idiot, Ferdia yelled after him. Come on, we have to catch him. We can't afford to lose anyone else.
As a group they charged after the heroic yet hopeless kiwi, completely forgetting that Beak wasn't with them.
Ravyn must have heard him as she stopped and turned around just as Ferdie skidded to a halt a few feet away.
Definitely not Ravyn, his mind informed him, definitely not. Then it shut down and started the mindless panic-stricken gibbering he was so familiar with.
The female in the cloak was a cat, not a mouse, a very startled looking black cat wearing a variety of weapons and what was developing into a very pleased smirk.
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