August studied the folio’s miniscule cursive writing. The pages were yellowed and let off a dusty, musty smell as he rifled through them. The folio contained the reports of an anonymous writer that was trailing a series of bizarre murders across Germany prior to and during the first World War. August had difficulty with the archaic prose that the folio was written in. He quietly typed his translation on his laptop, doing his best to reflect the original author’s intentions.
The bites are abnormal and inconsistent with a typical vampire‘s bite. Rather than leaving fang marks, the vampire’s teeth seem to shear and tear flesh. I would guess that the creature is likely to eat flesh as well as blood. Bodies that did not reanimate were found dried and withered, as though they had decomposed for about five years or so.
Fresh bites have shown signs of swift degeneration of tissue; the infection spreads visibly through the veins. When the body is consumed with the infection, it dies and then reanimates as a cannibalistic ghoul.
August was happy that he had managed to get Mr. Zelinski to the hospital and defeat the infection. He would have hated to see such a kindly man become a monster. August felt that the folio was proof that Sebottendorff was active prior to World War II. The attacks showed similar patterns; the bite and the infection cinched it for him. However, the skeptic the hid inside of him still had questions. How had Sebottendorff find Mr. Zelinski? Where was he hiding now? How old was the vampire? Was this an account of Sebottendorff, or just a coincidence? August kept asking himself these questions as he continued his translation.
“I think we’re going to need your help.” announced Minerva suddenly. Her grandfather, Adrian, was a powerful wizard. He used the power of captured souls to fuel magic that would be impossible otherwise. His technique had extended his life far beyond normal human expectancy. Without an illusion, he appeared as a youthful man that was no older than twenty, despite his actual age of nearly two-hundred years. He had been in his laboratory organizing vials of shining vapor when his granddaughter had paid him a visit.
“Yet, I doubt that August wants my help. That is why you are here alone.” observed Adrian, indicating a chair that Minerva could sit in. Like many things that Adrian owned, the chair was strictly utilitarian. It was comfortable enough, unassuming, and practical. None of his possessions indicated the vast wealth he had accumulated. Minerva sat in the chair, crossing her legs and pushing her long, blonde hair from her face.
“Young men in this country seldom like to ask for help from their elders. They want to carve their own way through the wilderness of the world. I guess its like that in most places. Yet, there is much to be said of a man that is willing to become a student.” lectured Adrian. Minerva knew that Adrian was trying to steer the conversation; he wanted to question her decision to abstain from using magic, but he wanted to be polite about it. She found that most conversations with her grandfather were like this one.
“I don’t want you to teach him anything.” said Minerva, trying to deliver the message as politely and firmly as possible. “I was just saying that I think that we may need your help.”
“If you want someone to help you, you should go find Gandalf.” retorted Adrian brusquely. “From what I’ve read, he loves to save weak people from peril.” Adrian ended his statement with an emotionless chuckle.
“Alas, Gandalf is but an idealized fiction. We all need to do with what we have on hand.” said Minerva, unwilling to be cowed by her grandfather. Adrian looked like he was stabbed in the heart, but was trying to shrug off the pain. “I could have gone to grandmother, or even my mother. Instead, I came to you, grandfather.”
“Why me?” asked Adrian, who was all ready conceiving ideas of why.
“To give you one more chance. I know what you’ve done, and I think you need to be given a chance to redeem yourself, even if it is just a little deed.” answered Minerva resolutely. Adrian studied her, and for a brief moment, thought that she must have become the goddess she was named after. She seemed strong and determined; confident, but not to a fault. She was an intelligent warrior, making sure that she had the correct spear in hand before charging into battle.
Adrian indicated a wall of the laboratory that was obscured by shelves lined with thousands of tiny vials. “Each one of these is a life. Each is a life I took. There is not one that I took unfairly, no matter what anyone says. I haven’t done anything wrong, but I will admit that they should be put to use. If I am the last of my line, then I might as well use them all, right?” There was pride and sarcasm in his voice, but he was agreeing to help despite his tone. Minerva felt that she had won a small war, but was still concerned with how August would feel if Adrian’s help was truly needed.
She reassured herself by thinking, If we need Adrian, August will be in a position where he won’t have much choice but to be glad of the help. She had a feeling that powerful magic would be needed; if the moment arose, she knew she would break her vow if she had no other recourse. She continued to convince herself that she did the right thing as she left the laboratory.
“Tonight is the night we march.” announced Sebottendorff proudly.
His uniform was ragged, but it still exuded an air of power. The fit was as precise as the day it was given to him. The bright, silver Death’s Head shone brightly from his breast. Around him, six black, shambling, humanoid shapes gathered. They had come so that they could learn about the Nazi party from a vampire that had been a soldier in the Third Reich. They never thought that the meeting could be a trap.
They were all healthy men, in the prime of their lives, yet they couldn’t withstand the vampire’s assault. In less than a minute, they were dying and changing. As their eyes dimmed and their flesh blackened, they felt the hunger for the first time. It consumed their thoughts, surpassing any other thought. Their master would speak, and they would listen. He would tell them where the food was, and they would eat their fill.