Constantine pushed at the giant cathedral doors, his hand blistered and burnt, the smell of rotten flesh wafted behind him. The pain was transgressive and a slight irritation but he paid it little mind as it happened so many times before.
He had been summoned by the Yarl and as such an occasion demanded, now wore a soft blue robe of his status. Tyr Norseman’s insignia – a silver hammer dripping with blood – sat at his breast marking him further. At the foot of the dais, he bent to one knee and waited for his liege.
Tyr sat with his head in his hands; the chair was hard just like the decision he had to make. At the thud of the doors being pushed open, he sat up straight and tall. A mixture of anger and regret welled inside him at the thought of what was next to come.
The one who had spent eternity with him now casually walked toward his throne, his brother in wars, his lover in quiet times, the one he thought would never betray him.
Constantine’s carries himself with an almost regal air, a trait that had always made Tyr proud when the other elders looked upon his protege. He almost seemed to glide across the floor to bend a knee before him. His short greying hair had begun to thin before his change; the skin beneath shone slightly with the light of the room.
Tyr clenched his hand around the traitorous object and squeezed tightly.
“What have you done Constantine?”
Constantine raised his head and fainted innocent, he rose from the ground and stood straight. His liege sat with hands clenched, a thick vein at his neck pulsed, Constantine knew his rage was barely in check.
“Don’t play coy with me; I know that it was you who turned to those damn dogs, to side with those abominations.”
Tyr stood and pounded the skulls armrests. A full crack ran the length of one and the other shattered altogether. A brief flash of surprise flashed before Constantine’s eyes before he resumed his neutral expression. The echoes of the viking slowly receded.
“It wasn’t my doing. The Drognoski’s girl was ambitious, who am I to stand before ambition. Isn’t that how you, came to sit there.”
Constantine pointed to the throne.
“I would never side with those creatures,” — he twisted as if trying to pluck words from the air. — “and allow them to sake their thirst on vampire blood.”
Tyr spat on the floor by Constantine side.
“To destroy the bloodline? Is that something I taught you also?”
“Sadly not, but I am very resourceful as you know,” Constantine smirked, and Tyr’s face reddens as his eyes glowed blue.
Constantine paced the width of the marble dais making his king move his head to follow him. Tyr threw the golden chain with a small hammer pendant at his feet, the chain that had led him to Constantine’s betrayal, taken from the neck of one of the creatures. Tyr wore a similar necklace, only the hammer was bigger and had a hole where the other pendant would fit.
“You have left me with no choice.”
Tyr reached for his spear and struck it twice on the floor. The boom echoed around the room, and the door slid open in the walls. A small army of vampires followed out to encircle him.
“You may be strong enough to influence some of the guards but not all. Bow now and accept your fate, and I will entomb you with my blessing, do not, and you shall be ash in the wind.”
Constantine watched as the vampires circled him with their spears and swords. Tyr was correct that he couldn’t influence enough of them to escape. But Tyr also knew that he would try. He smirked at his king and raised a long finger.
“Or I can do neither, and you can step down from your godly podium and knell before me.”
Tyr’s laughter rang around the room, many of the other vampires smiled and laughed at Constantine’s stupidity. Constantine’s face was impassive as the laughter gradually ceased, he reached into the folds of his robes. The armed vampires leveled their weapons again, Constantine froze and raised an eyebrow at Tyr. He nodded allowing Constantine to continue to pull out a smartphone and offer it to him.
Tyr descended the stairs and parted the ring of guards. Suspicion crept across his eyes as he took the phone and looked at the screen.
The live stream showed Cain hanging upside down, pinned to a cross above a vat of melted iron. His body had been washed and dressed in a loose cotton grab; his hair dangled uselessly towards his doom. The mark of Cain stood proudly at his temple, and his unconscious face looked at peace for once in his long life.
“What is this?”
Tyr hadn’t felt fear like this since he was a mortal, the overwhelming thought of annihilation entered his mind and grasped hold.
“It cannot be.”
“It is my love.”
Constantine felt a mixture of regret and exhilaration as Tyr scoffed and handed the phone back to him.
“But he is not the first of our kind, Enoch was, and he resides under your very feet. Drop him for all I care.”
The guard’s weapons had gone slack from their king’s uncertainty, Constantine let his mind expand to touch on the few nearest him. He conjured the image of his brothers and sisters changing into werewolves, the three on either side jumped at their brethren and struck them down with steel, Tyr jumped high and backward away from the fray.
Constantine warped the illusion again and again until the only one guard stood. Constantine settled in the young man’s mind; the vampire’s faces showed the struggle of his conflicting thoughts until he turned his sword and aimed the point at his chest. With a strangled cry he dropped to the floor spearing the sword through his body. Ash slowly circled like a mini tornado as Constantine walked through the after mass.
Tyr had landed next to the throne and had reached for his spear again. The wooden shaft looked small in his big hands; the silver runic symbols along the shaft seemed to come to life as he thrust it toward Constantine. The steel spearhead stopped inches from his nose.
“Why after all this time, why do you do this to me?”
Tyr’s hurt eyes pleaded with him for understanding. Constantine shrugged and moved aside the spearhead with two fingers. He stepped up to the throne and placed a hand on the Viking’s shoulder as he looked up into his clear blue eyes. He stroke the side of his face and ran his fingers through his long peppered beard.
Constantine reached behind his neck pulling Tyr close and cupped his head in one hand. The king let his grip go on the spear, and it clattered down the stone steps. Constantine stood on tiptoes and whispered into his ear.
Constantine pulled an ornate silver dagger from the folds of his robe and plunged it into the Viking’s ribcage. Constantine held him until the ashes fell from his hands. The two-thousand-year-old vampire crumbled at his feet.
Constantine bends down and extracted the heavy golden chain and placed it around his neck. He turned and sat on the throne as the doors to the chamber slammed open and armed vampires burst in.
The vampires cautiously approached, taking in the surrounding piles of ashes. The lead vampire, a heavyset man with black-grey hair and clean-shaven face, turned his green eyes to Constantine and saw the hammer at his chest.
He knelt and placed his sword before him. The vampires behind slowly follow suit and surrender their weapons as Constantine smiled.
The temperature dropped as Constantine descended the stone stairs to the deepest part of the mansion. A cavern that only the elders and the most trusted knew existed. The modern LED lighting softened the stone from grey to beige; the lights continued down the stairs in front of him illuminating his descent. In the end, the stairs twisted to a room with a blue granite floor, stone walls and a high vaulted ceiling.
At the center of the floor suspended vertically from a heavy chain, hung an ornate metal coffin. The sides decorated with an intricate vine and leaf design. Two of Constantine newest vampire disciples held a rope on either side of the coffin. Within the plush white interior growled Cain. His eyes burned with hatred, and he pulled at the chains that bound his hands to his side. Likewise, a heavy metal band strapped to his waist and his ankles were fettered in manacles.
Constantine put a slim-fingered hand to his chest and bowed mocking. As he straightens, he smiled and let his hand drop to his side. Constantine now wore a majestic robe of green, thickly trimmed with white and emblazoned at his breast with his personal crest, a stag, and an arrow. The golden chain that once adorned Tyr neck continued to drape his.
Cain struggled again and again but the chains didn’t budge, he only succeeded in making the coffin sway over the empty tomb on the floor beneath him. At last, he stopped his struggles and looked up at Constantine with an expression of puzzlement.
“Why, why didn’t you let me die?”
“Come now, do you not know? You, who had been around since the start of time. Can you not think why I have saved you?”
Cain growls the words out.
“So I’m your pawn.”
“And there was me thinking you were just all wrath and vengeance. You see although you are not the first vampire, you did give life to the first, Something my predecessor didn’t quite understand. Which means that if somehow you were destroyed, a fate that can be achieved with modern technology, we “vampire” will also be destroyed.”
Constantine nodded to the two sentinels.
One let go of the rope and reached for the coffin’s iron lid, it swung shut, and a mechanical snip locked it in place. The coffin lid was beautifully wrought like the rest of the coffin, with the elegant spiraling design of leaves and vines. A slit at the top allowed someone to look in and also, Cain to look out. Cain cursed and started head-butting his iron prison until blood flowed from his eyes and nose.
Constantine watched impassively as the coffin was slowly lowered into the bowels of the earth. Cain’s curses were soon drowned out by the loud clang of the mechanical steel rods fixing at the coffin from within the hole. The other vampire released the rope and walked to the edge of the tomb to twist a key. 4 segments of the iron portal slid out from within the hole, each fragment slid closed revealing a calligraphic C. A lasting expression of whom the crypt was for but ironically, now for who was bound within.
Four near identical tombs inlaid around the floor bore similarly calligraphic designs. One that stood open belonged to his recently departed king; the others belonged to the letters S, R and E.
Constantine smiled at the floor tombs.
“Not yet I’m afraid. I’ve got soo much planned.”
He turned to his sentries gesturing them to exit the cavern. Just as they pass him, he reached into the folds of the robe and produced the dagger that killed his liege. With two swift strokes, he took the heads off the vampires, their bodies bursting into fire and ash. Constantine turned his face away and let the ash settle.
After some time he dusted at his robes and took the first step back to the empire he had just won.
Thanks for reading and following me on this journey. This is the first draft of DoN and I’ll be working toward editing and adding more to the story, check back for updates.