Fade to White: Descending into Darkness

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Chapter 20, Initiation of the new arc I've dubbed "Retaliation".



19 ended the previous arc, "Invasion".



Enjoy the chapter and please tell me what you think either publicly or privately, if you feel like it that is!

Chapter 20 (v.1) - Onward, For Those Who Have Fallen

Submitted: September 27, 2019

Reads: 26

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Submitted: September 27, 2019

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Chapter 20: Onward, For Those Who Have Fallen




 

A light, soothing breeze flows through the battle-scared landscape in front of Bloodfall's walls. It carries with it a bitter cold that drags itself along the earth, chilling the survivors more than their experience has already. Bloodfall remains standing, its wall stands tall despite taking severe damage from the invasion and subsequent battle which occurred. The surviving citizens that took shelter in homes that had managed to escape being pillaged and razed have emerged upon the arrival of the ominous silence. The fires within the walls have been put out with just the black smoke of charred wood remains as a reminder as the columns drift into the trees. 

The citizens move out toward the wall as their curiosity leads them on, advancing to survey the damage of their land. A crowd forms at the gate, the wooden doors which guarded them from the outside gone, splintered and scattered in the dirt. Various gasping sounds come from the crowd as their attention is drawn by the fallen king, capable of only watching as the sorrowful emotion shared by those that surround him envelops them.

 

A quiet cough comes from the black armor, red eyes opening half-lidded as they move slowly to look at the three faces that stare at them with shock and elation. 

His bare right arm raised weakly at the elbow, slowly raising further toward the blonde-haired vampire who sits next to it. His eyes meet the similarly colored eyes of his son, whose own are filled with tears.

"I…" Nosferatu croaked out, "N-never thought they'd leave…" a weak smile formed on his pale lips as he forced out his sentence. "As I… don't have m-much time…" He turns his weak gaze to Shirou, who sits opposite of Alucard and says, "I… have things... to return to you." 

 

"Return to me?" Shirou asked with a tone of obvious confusion, moving back as Nosferatu raised his left arm, opening the gauntlet-clad left hand. Three seed-like shards of metal lay in his palm, falling out as the vampire's strength wavered. Shirou caught his hand quickly, the pieces of metal falling into his palm.

"I apologize for my lack of understanding, but what are these for, my king?" Shirou asked as he looks at them from in his hand, then back to Nosferatu. The vampire let out a pained chuckle as he said, "Ah… skip the form...alities…" he stopped for a moment, having trouble speaking as he continued, "Your grandfather... gave them to my father… It... belongs to you now, so you should have... the rest of it's shard." 

"It…Wait, Silver Thorn?" Shirou asked, which Nosferatu only nodded in reply. "The next time… You summon it. Put them in the rift… and the rest will happen naturally…"

As he speaks, he begins to cough violently, his left arm dropping into the dirt as he coughs.

"Shirou… remove my gauntlet for me… I need to give something to my son…" 

Hearing the weakness of his voice Shirou wholeheartedly obliged his request, removing his damaged gauntlet as carefully as he could. Setting it beside him, Shirou's eyes meet the silver ring on the vampire's middle finger. It's perfectly cut deep green gemstone gave off a faint glow, the light fading in and out at the pace of one's breathing. He slowly takes his eyes off of it, looking to Nosferatu as he said, "Now… leave us. I need to speak to my son alone…" 

 

Shirou nods at this request, standing up slowly and giving the vampire one last bow as he said, "As you wish, Nosferatu…"

His blue eyes were downcast as he spoke, turning away without meeting the fading red eyes of the vampire and walking away. Lycana had been at Nosferatu's head, her eyes full of tears despite not knowing who this vampire was, despite this man lead her kind's foil. Gently rubbing her hand on Alucard's left arm, she nodded in silent reply to Nosferatu's request as she rose to her feet and joined Shirou.

 

"Alucard… I want you... to have the ring." Nosferatu said, his breath slowing as he spoke. With each passing moment he remained alive, the light of the ring dimmed more and more, the pulsating glow at this point barely noticeable. 

"The ring… But I-"

"Please, my son… it's power is leaving me. It's made to heal… wounds in battle. It can't revive fatal wounds, it's doing all it can… extending my life this long…"

Nosferatu weakly raised his left arm once more, which his son clasped between his own hands. Tears once again fall down Alucard's cheeks as he becomes aware of what would happen if he takes the ring from his father. Slowly failing to hold back his sobs, he grits his teeth and brings his father's cold hand to his forehead as he says, "I… If I take it, I'll kill you and I don't… I can't!

Nosferatu smiled once more, his lips only strong enough to slightly curl. 

"I'd rather if you did… than him… If nothing else, take the satisfaction from him... when you next see him… Do that… if nothing else..." 

 

Alucard responds to his words with a sorrowful look, forcing it back and giving his father a feigned smile as he nods at this wish. It hurts him as he grabs hold of the silver ring, the pit in his heart returning once again as it slowly slides down his father's finger, a weak green aura trailing it for a single moment as it leaves his father's possession.

 

Exhaling his final breath Nosferatu passes on with a smile, his crimson eyes closing once more and forever, bringing the long life of the King to a close.

 

Alucard takes a deep, shaky breath as he raises his right hand and slowly slid the final gift from his father onto his index finger. Like magic the band if the ring shrinks itself to match his finger's size, snugly fitting on his finger. 

He turns his head after he put the ring on, noticing the silenced crowd looking on at the scene with their faces mirroring the almost crippling sorrow their prince feels in his heart. He kneels down once more with tears filling his eyes, though they are beyond his control now. Managing to hold back his sobs at the very least, he gently lifts the lifeless body of his father, holding him as delicately one would hold a clay pot or glass sculpture. Turning back to his people with his tears still welling up in his eyes, he walks toward the crowd slowly. 

 

Shirou and Lycana look on silently as the surviving subjects of Bloodfall stare in silence at the body of the King, moving to the side to allow the prince to cross into the kingdom. As Alucard passes the crowd, they begin to follow behind him slowly, amassing a large following of subjects as he heads for the castle. 

 

The two began to follow when the crowd started to recede with Alucard, wondering where they all were heading off to. The slow mob eventually stops at the castle but the two push through to reach Alucard, who had continued walking beyond the crowd. The two stopped walking after they broke out of the crowd, watching as Alucard stood silently in small clearing beside the Castle's courtyard. 

He stood with another man in front of him, who had taken his father's body from him but not without difficulty due to the weight of his armor. After getting a good enough hold on the King, the new person exchanged a few words with Alucard and nodded as they parted. Alucard turned around noticing Shirou and Lycana who stood ahead of the crowd, and started walking towards them with a flat, stern expression.

 

"They've taken him to prepare him for his funeral." Alucard said, his tone as emotionless as his face shows.

"Funeral-? You mean he'll be buried?" Lycana asked as she was unaware of the ways of the vampires, those who were once her sworn enemy.

Alucard responded with a slow shake of his head and said, "The way our funerals are done is the same as the way our oldest ancestors' people did it; by way of fire. As there isn't any water to have him on a boat, a pyre will be erected and he'll be… burned." 

Alucard hesitated with this word "burned" as though it was from a foreign language. Until today, the thought of seeing father dead seemed like such a distant possibility. After he finished speaking he looks up to the trees in the sky, the thickness of the brush far overhead making the city's natural ceiling appear almost entirely black. Around the city sit several orbs of artificial light, acting together as the city's own sun in their own way. The vampire released a sigh as he internalizes the feelings in his heart before being pulled back to reality at the feeling of someone's hand firmly planted on his right shoulder. He immediately looked over and saw Shirou's hand, moving to look at his face and seeing a similar expression of sadness.

"Alucard, what do you say we go inside for a bit and talk about things?" Shirou said to Alucard, who only nodded in reply before leading the two to the castle.

 

The three take seats on the second floor, a small section which was surrounded by decorative armor, weaponry and beautiful paintings along the white walls. Bright crimson carpets line large portions of the white marble floor and staircase. Their seats matched the color of the carpets, though they a darker shade of crimson with gold braided trim. The two seats they sat at were separated by a small, round table made of dark colored wood. Alucard sat in his own seat, his leg crossed over the other while resting his head on his hand, looking at the other two who sat on a two-seat chair.

"So, what did you want to talk about, Shirou?" Alucard asked, his tone low as though he wasn't really interested. After he spoke, a servant laid out three cups in front of them, pouring out dark tea in each of the cups before bowing and walking away.

"Right, well… I would like your assistance in what I'm going to do next." He said before reaching over to his cup, taking a slow sip. 

Lycana glanced at Shirou as he sipped his tea before focusing on her own. Cautiously she lifted up her own and took a sip, her expression perking up after the sip before muttering, "Whoa… this is good…"

Ignoring the werewolf girl, Alucard lifted his tea cup and asked before taking a sip of his own, "-And what is it you plan on doing next?"

 

Shirou lowers his cup, staring at the lightly rippling tea and at his faint reflection, his eyes narrowing softly as he said, "...I'm going to go south and ask for more assistance."

Alucard suddenly sucked in more air, more tea, and began coughing as he got some in his windpipe. After not-so lightly setting his cup on the table with drops of tea spilling onto the table, he shouted out between coughs, "You… what?!

He clears his throat before continuing, "Go south? To Babylon, a place not for their warmness to outsiders? What, do you plan on just waltzing in and getting an audience with their queen?! You'd probably have a better chance of just storming into Hell and demanding to speak to Lucifer himself!"

"I figured that much, Alucard, but dammit! They took Oberon, Nosferatu, Rose!" Shirou shouted back, setting his cup on the table as gently as Alucard as he continued, "I know it's not a safe option, but at this point it's our only option! We go to Silvain, they'll probably just start preparing their defenses and leave what's left of Alfheim to hell! If they can beat not only Skögur but Bloodfall, what makes you think they won't raise their armies and knock at Babylon's door next?!" 

"And what would you have me do, Shirou?" Alucard asked, hunching over as he crosses his fingers together and brings them to his lips, "I can't just leave my people in a time of need like this! They need a leader now that my Father has died." 

 

Shirou looked down, his face in his hands as he sighed. He looks back up to Alucard as he says, "I know, they need leadership. But right now, with the potential of another massive war on the horizon, we all need to be as fortified as possible. We can't rebuild until after this threat is taken care of!"

Alucard fell silent with Shirou's last line, lifting his cup once more and taking another sip. As he lifted it, he leaned into the back of the seat, taking a deep breath before taking yet another sip and said, "Give me a bit of time… I'll see if I have an answer for you after my father's send off, alright?" He said, his tone much softer as he understood the gravity of their situation. Shirou's lips formed a slight smile as he said this, nodding in reply as he took another sip. 

 

The two look over to Lycana, who had been taking a refill of her cup from the servant from before, a bright smile on her face. If she had a tail, it would have been wagging like crazy from the look on her face. After the servant left with yet another bow, she turned to the two and asked, "...What?" 

"Nothing… You just seem to be really enjoying this tea-" Shirou said as Lycana replied

"Oh, yeah! This tea is much better than what we have back home! Its more of a traditional thing… Saved for special occasions… And it's really, really, really bitter. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth afterward. Your tea here smells so good and it's really sweet, I'd like to take some home with me!- If… That's allowed…" 

Alucard smiled lightly, chucking before starting to laugh softly as he said, "Sure, sure… Think of it as a… gift of goodwill. Though, the sweetness doesnt come from the tea itself. I'll have to show you sometime, you put just a little sugar in it for sweetness." 

"Okay!", Lycana said, a beaming smile on her lips as she said, "I'd love to learn, Wolfesniste would probably be happy to have tea that doesnt taste like dirt…"

 

Their conversation ends as Lycana turned her attention to a servant who was rushing to Alucard. She gently bent down and said, "My prince-" Alucard turned around to face her, to which she continued, "-It's… it's ready." Alucard's expression darkened and became stern, glancing over at the two before nodding, standing up from his seat and following the servant. Shirou and Lycana, after quickly drinking the rest of her tea, followed Alucard outside of the castle.

 

The atmosphere was thick, heavy anguish. 

All who remained in Bloodfall gathered around the pyre, quiet tears from some and silent mourning from the rest. Hundreds, thousands of subjects gathered to mourn the passing of the great king Nosferatu. The King himself was much more pale than he usually was, his long black hair pressed out from under his back on the wooden logs. He had been dressed in a loose-fitted, frilled cotton shirt with black laces tying the chest closed where his fatal wound was. He wore black pants and shoes, the legs of his pants smooth and opening slightly wide where his shoes met them. His legs were perfectly straight and his arms crossed on his chest as though he was only relaxing on his bed. Alucard slowly stepped forward, clutching a single flower; a lily, pure white in color. Holding back his emotions, he slid the stem of the flower into his father's cold hands, followed one by one by the king's former subjects. 

 

After all in attendance left their flowers on and around the pyre and said their tearful farewells, they all stepped further away from the pyre than before. Alucard slowly pulled his golden swords from their sheaths at his sides, staring forward as his father while the ends are brought together and the swords meld together and turn mechanically into their bow form. The light blue string forms from the tips of either end, completing the transformation as he raises the bow and pulls the string back. A thin line of red forms in the gap between the dip in the line and the body of the bow, the red glow becoming fluid in appearance as it grows and shapes itself into a basic arrow shape radiating it's bright, solid red glow onto Alucard as he takes in a slow breath and closes his eyes.

 

He adjusts his posture and aims the arrow directly at the pyre, his eyes slowly opening as he does this. Exhaling slowly, he releases his grip on the string and lets loose the arrow as it flies into the wood. 

 

Instantly erupting into flame, the wood burns hot and the white lilies turn black like ash atop and around the wood as the orange glow of the fire spreads quickly and engulfs Nosferatu almost immediately. Those closest to the suddenly erupting fire take a step back out of instinct except Alucard, who's eyes narrow to adjust to the light as he stared into the fire, lowering his bow before disengaging the swords' bond and sliding them back into their sheaths once they straighten to swords once again. Watching the fire as it consumes the flowers and wood, he turned around once his swords had been returned to his sides and approached the crowd.

 

He walked past the crowd stopping beside Shirou as he said, his tone sharp with subdued anger, "I will make arrangements for those in my father's cabinet to lead Bloodfall in my absence. I will go with you to Babylon."

Shirou nodded once in reply as Alucard continued walking, heading toward the castle.

 

The three meet outside of  the castle, Alucard the last one to leave the building. Time had passed considerably since Alucard's agreement to continue with Shirou, the faint light seen from the leaves high above them had vanished, meaning nighttime has approached the land. "I've arranged for my servants to bring necessary supplies and horses along with like you asked, but is this all necessary? You have that Shadowstep sorcery so-"

Shirou shook his head as he replied to Alucard, "I can't. I won't be able to use any of my Shadow Manipulation magic on the way to Babylon. It's just a theory, but Alciel seems to be able to cancel my spells or know when I use them, since he didn't stop me from Stepping here. I don't want him to figure out our plan and have another siege on our hands before we get there." Alucard brought his hand to his chin as he considered that fact, "Well… that is reasonable, I suppose…"

"I would rather go on horseback than jumping into some shadow anyway." Lycana said while stretching her left arm overhead with her right and armored arm holding it, slumping her shoulders after she finished and said, "It feels weird, it makes my body feel all tingly…"

"It takes some getting used to, I know." Shirou said to Lycana before turning Alucard and continuing, "And even without Alciel, Shadowstep itself isn't all-powerful. It connects me to just about all the shadows in the world, but my accuracy and range is limited to places I've been to, otherwise I could overshoot us by a few hundred miles, at least." Alucard's eyes widened a bit as he muttered, "Yikes…" 

 

"My prince!" A feminine voice called from beyond the three. Alucard turned around to see a black-haired woman bowing to him once he turned. She had similar clothes to the servants in the castle, though a few more additions to make it stand out. "As requested, travel supplies and three horses. Due to the rumors you are planning to cross that desert, I had our best horses chosen so they may last you longer on your journey." Alucard nodded and gestured for the shorter woman to be at ease and she stood straight at attention. "I thank you for your consideration, Marie. We are indeed going across to Babylon for negotiations." Alucard said, placing his right hand on her shoulder left shoulder, startling her a bit as he continued, "I thank you for the years of service you've wholeheartedly put into working with my father." 

Taken aback by his sudden and warm compliment, Marie nods with a light smile while Alucard retracted his hand. 

 

Marie hands out the items, which each includes a large supply of food and water in multiple canteens for each of them, as well as in the horse's saddles. To go around their waist were curled cloths to serve as bedding for the night and a light colored cloak to wear over them for protection against the heat.

 

"Thank you, um… Marie, was it?" Shirou said, bowing slightly. 

"That is madam to you, halfling. Do not forget that I saw your duel with our King not too long ago. I trust you with our prince's security, but do not address me so casually." She replied sharply, her eyes pointed like daggers at Shirou.

"I… uh, r-right…" Shirou said, shrinking a bit against her sharp gaze, his eyes looking over at Alucard and conveyed the message "Scary…"

Alucard laughs under his breath and placed his hand on Marie's shoulder, to which her demeanor changes once again to a sweeter personality. "Yes, Prince Alucard?" 

"You're relieved. Go back to the servants, have them start evening duties." She walks away a bit, bowing to Alucard before walking away. As he hurried away and opened the castle door, she turned to Shirou and gave him a final glare before heading back inside.

 

"Sheesh… I didn't know your staff hated me so much, Alucard." Shirou said, slumping his shoulders and sighing. 

Alucard climbed aboard a horse chuckling a bit before saying, "Ah, don't mind Marie too much. She means well, her family has been serving the royal family since my great-uncle was the King of Bloodfall, so she was raised to be protective. If she could have, she probably would have charged after you while you were fighting my father back then!" 

Shirou shuddered as the thought of her beating him around the area entered his mind, shaking his head to force it away as he removed his white leather coat and wrapped it around his waist, replacing it with the thin white cloak before climbing onto his horse.

Making sure the Silver Keys were secure on the side of the saddle, he sighed softly before he said,

 

"Alright then, lets go south!"

 


© Copyright 2020 Allen Darkmyst. All rights reserved.

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