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 Crimson Moon by Nick H. [Preview]

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Edward McFinn
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PostSubject: Crimson Moon by Nick H. [Preview]   Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:26 pm

Crimson Moon


- Prologue -


As the cold of night began to settle in, the humans of Nerval retreated to their homes. The settlement guards took up their positions on the walls and closely watched the surrounding woods with caution. Nerval was a peaceful and quiet human settlement. The dwellings were made of wood and iron, and stone for the chimneys. In the center of the town is a courtyard. A well sits in the center of the circular pattern that makes up the courtyard, with pathways made of stone, and redberry bushes between them. Anyone left on the streets watched the moon as it rose into the sky, not out of awe, but of fear. For tonight was a special night.

In the center of the courtyard, leaning against the side of the well, was a young boy, no older than 15. His hair was blonde and his eye’s a sapphire blue. He wore a set of light iron armor. His gaze directed at the rising moon.“Hey William!” A voice yelled out from behind him. William didn’t need to look to know who it was. “About time you showed up, Arthur.” Arthur walked up next to William. His eye’s were a lighter shade of blue, and his hair blonde as well. "Well, I needed to take the time to prepare, my brother.” He laughed. Arthur and William were brothers, twins to be exact. By mere minutes, Arthur was the younger of the two. They both had skin no whiter than a normal human being, their faces angular, and their bodies lean. William was the stronger of the two, however. Arthur continued. “You just ran out the door. Oh, and by the way, you forgot your pistol." Arthur held up a very ornate handgun with the initials W.M. carved into the grip.

William, realizing this, took the gun from his brother and put it in its' holster on his belt. Not wanting to admit he had forgotten one of his most prized possessions, it took William a minute to respond. "Thanks." Arthur smiled and turned his head to look directly at the rising moon. "Do you think any will come?" William shut his eye's while he thought. "There's no guarantee. This is, after all, the first Crimson Moon since the royal family fell. It might be that we're just paranoid, but then again we have good reason to be." The thought of Vampire's overrunning the settlement brought back unpleasant memories. It reminded him of why he and his brother bore a deep hatred for the creatures. For a while, there was only the sound of the howling wind. Arthur had been deep in thought. He was the more tactical of the two, always thinking and coming up with plans. What he couldn't stop thinking about, was what this night could possibly mean. "Hey Will, do you think that something else could happen, other than a Vampire attack?" This caught William by surprise. He had never considered the possibility that something other than a vampire attack could occur. "What makes you say that?" Arthur looked like something was bothering him. "I just have this weird feeling.... like something no one could have foreseen will happen." William returned his gaze to the moon, which had almost reached its zenith. "You think too much." Arthur shrugged off his brother's words. He knew what he felt.

However, his thoughts were soon interrupted as a flash shot up through the sky. Distracted from his thoughts, Arthur looked up to the sky. It wasn't long before the rest of the village was watching, both in awe, and in fear. A crimson colored bolt of light shot up through the sky, straight towards the moon. As the hour struck midnight, the bolt collided with the moon, and the moon flashed a crimson red. Williams grip tightened on the pommel of his sword. The moment of truth, had arrived.
_____________________________

Far to the north of Nerval, lay Katsumori Castle. Its walls were made of solid concrete. The main castle stood in the center of the compound, surrounded by 4 courtyards. One to the north containing the northern gate, one ot the east containing the eastern gate, another to the west and the western gate, and lastly, one to the south by the southern gate. Katsumori Castle was one of many military bases of the Vampire race.

The Commander’s Quarters’ lay near the top of the castle. Lit candles were strewn throughout the room, providing minimal lighting. The Commander of the vampire Royal Sentinel's stood in the middle of the room, watching the moon rise in the distance. He had crimson red eye’s, shoulder length black hair, his skin as pale as the moon. He stood roughly 6 feet, 5 inches tall. He wore a long black trench coat, with the collar upturned, and completely unbuttoned. Underneath, he wore a lighter black shirt. His pants were also black, held up by a black belt. In his right hand, was a glass filled with a crimson liquid, that looked to be blood. He brought it up to his lips, and gently drank the liquid, revealing his razor sharp fangs. He lowered the glass to his side, and set it down on the table next to him.

He shut his eye's for a moment. "Yes? What is it Ryuga?" A boy stood in the doorway to the quarter's. His name was Ryuga, a Royal Sentinel in training. Unlike most trainee’s who wore the usual attire, Ryuga’s attire made him look more like a scholar. Ryuga was stunned when the commander noticed him without him having made any sounds. Realizing that he was not giving proper respect, Ryuga quickly, albeit nervously, snapped to attention and saluted. "I just came to see what you were doing, Takashi sir." Takashi sighed and opened his eye's. "No need for the formalities, Ryuga. You know I hate that." Ryuga let his arms down and breathed a sigh of relief. "Of course, sir, I mean Takashi!" Takashi let out a slight chuckle. Ever since he came to the Castle, Takashi had personally taken Ryuga under his wing, hoping to mold him into his successor.

Stepping over to the balcony, Takashi crossed his arm's and stared at the rising moon with his crimson eye's. "Tell me, Ryuga. What is the importance of this night?" Ryuga answered without delay. "Its the Night of the Crimson Moon. It only happens every 184 years and was established by the deposed Royal Family millennia ago." Takashi was pleased with the answer. "Very good. You've done your homework, Ryuga. However, its not even certain that it will occur tonight." Ryuga seemed puzzled. "I don't understand. I thought it was an unstoppable event." Takashi looked out over the vast courtyard of Katsumori Castle, far below his balcony. "Yes, but that was when there were still member's of the Royal Family in existence. With none of them left, its uncertain whether or not the Crimson Moon will appear. It would be a miracle if it did." For some reason or another, Takashi put a bit more emphasis on miracle. Ryuga caught this, but decided not to inquire further. "I see."  Ryuga stepped over to the balcony and stood slightly behind Takashi to his right. Both of their gazes drifted towards the moon.

The moon grew ever closer to its zenith. Takashi's gaze did not falter. He had waited 184 years for this day to come, and he would not miss the sign. Ryuga glanced at Takashi. He couldn't quite figure out why tonight of all nights was so important to him. "Ryuga." Takashi spoke suddenly, breaking the silence. The wind picked up, howling in the dark. Ryuga shifted his view to the moon. A crimson red light shot up in the distance and struck the moon. The moon became crimson red, and illuminated the night in its glow. Takashi spoke under his breath. "So, it is true then....." Ryuga turned to question him. "What did you..." He was quickly cut off by Takashi who had turned to leave. "I'm leaving, Ryuga." Ryuga could see the meaning behind his words. He wasn't just leaving the room. He was leaving the castle, he was leaving the Royal Sentinels. "Ryuga, after tonight, i'll be labeled a traitor, a deserter...." This time, it was Takashi who was cut off by Ryuga. "That doesn't matter. I trust you completely, and i'll follow you wherever you go." Takashi smiled. "Then gather your things and meet me outside the eastern gate." Ryuga nodded in agreement, and they both left the room.

Far off to the East, in an ancient crypt, a long dormant and hidden power, was awakening.


Chapter 1 - Awakening -

As the crimson moon sat in the cold night sky, and the world looked on in awe and fear, something was drawing animals to the east, to an ancient and long forgotten crypt. On the outside, it looked like a small stone hut, but once inside, a long staircase led underground. At the bottom, lay hundreds of coffins, made of either wood or stone. At the very back of the crypt, a single stone coffin lay shut. Howling winds rushed down the stairs from the open doorway, nearly extinguishing the lit lamps.

The winds however, were acting unusual. Instead of spreading throughout the room, they made their way to the farthest coffin, circled it for a moment, and then went underneath the lid. The lid lifted 2 inches from where it sat. A pale hand slid beneath the lid and grasped the sides. The winds let up. The hand pushed the lid aside with relative ease, and it fell to the side. Out of the coffin, rose a young boy, appearing no older than 16. His hair fell past his ears  by an inch and was black as night. His face was angular and his skin as white as snow. His eye’s opened slightly, revealing their bright crimson red color. He wore a black shirt underneath a thin black vest. The collar was upturned and the edges of everything, including the pockets, were colored silver. His pants were also black with a few pockets. The shoes he wore were of a formal sort and colored black.

The boy glanced around the room, peering from behind his half shut eye lids. Seeing that there was no immediate threat, he climbed out of the coffin. Now standing straight up, it was easy to tell that the boy was approximately 6 feet tall. Attached to his belt was a scabbard, and in it was a ceremonial sort of blade that looked as though it once belonged to someone of noble blood. He began walking shortly after standing and made his way through the crypt. He proceded to climb the long staircase back to the surface. As he stepped out through the doorway, the bats who had been swarming around the crypt scattered in all directions. The wind picked up, his hair and clothing blowing in the wind. He looked up at the crimson moon with a blank expression. “So. Its been that long then.” Having taken a moment of interest in the moon, the boy lowered his gaze and began walking along the path through the woods.

After nearly four hours of walking through the woods, he could see a town up ahead. When he was near the town, the gate guards took notice. “Whoa there, stranger. What brings you to the settlement of Nerval?” The boy stopped in front of them and looked directly at them. “I desire nothing more than a place to eat and rest.” One of the guards took notice of his glowing red eyes. “Hey! He’s a...” He stopped short of completing his sentence, his arms dropped to his sides, the other guard acted similarly. The boy looked at both of them. Their eye’s almost seemed to reflect his own. “You will allow me to pass unhindered and will tell no one of what you saw.” The men stood straight. “Yes, sir.” They turned towards the gate, and one called out. “Open the gate!” The men went back to standing at attention, and the iron gate creaked open. The boy shut his eye’s as he passed by the guards and entered the town. As his eye’s shut, the guards snapped back to their senses and couldn’t remember what had just transpired.

The boy walked through the dark streets. It was nearly morning, and the moon was nearing the horizon. He walked through the town, his footsteps echoing in the quiet night. He soon passed by a courtyard amd found an inn. Opening the door, he took a few steps in, and shut it behind himself. He walked up to the counter. The woman at the counter looked at him. He opened his eye’s, revealing their color to have changed from crimson red, to sapphire blue. “May I help you?” He looked at her. She was quite young and beautiful, looking to be in her early 20’s. “I was hoping you had a nice room available to stay in, it doesn’t matter how expensive it is, i’ll pay whatever you ask.” The woman opened a book on the desk and flipped through the pages until she came to the last page. “It seems the only room we have left is the suite on the top floor. Its the biggest room we have, but its also the most expensive.” “How much exactly?” The woman looked a little nervous, but finally came out with it. “10,000 Silvers.” The boy reached around his back with his right hand and dug around in a large satchel on his belt.

His hand came back with silver coins, worth 100 a piece, totaling 14,000 silvers. He dropped them into a small sack, tied it shut, and set it on the counter. “There’s a total of 14,000 worth of Silvers in there. I added the extra 4,000 because I would appreciate it if someone could bring food up to my room. Even if thats not possible, still, keep them.” The woman seemed astonished that such a young boy had so much money. “Uh, yes, i’ll have fresh meat and vegetables brought up to you right away. However, there is one last thing I need before I can give you the room. I need your name.” The boy looked like he was about to walk away for a moment, but then smiled. “It’s Crim.” The woman looked a little confused by the name, but wrote it down in the book nonetheless. “That’s all then. Here’s your key, and your room is the only one on the last floor.” Crim smiled and took the key to his room. “Thank you.” As he walked away from the counter and up the stairs, his smile faded, replaced with an emotionless and somewhat exhausted expression.

When he reached the last floor, he came to a short hallway with a single door at the end. He walked over and inserted his key, turned it, and opened the door. The room was dark, with candles and lamps strewn about the room for lighting. The bed was in the upper righthand corner of the room. It was rather large for one person, but that would do nicely. The windows were large as well, with clear curtains hanging in front of them. A piano sat against the right wall, and a hearth close to the left wall. There was a table in the center of the room.

Crim walked over to the window and looked out. The crimson moon was just about gone, and light was beginning to peak over the horizon. Storm clouds were blanketing the sky, which means the sunlight would be blocked out. As he stood there, rain began to pour, tapping against the window. Then there was a knock on the door. “Come in.” The door opened and the woman from behind the counter carried a large tray of food in. She set it out on the table and went around lighting the lamps and candles. Crim walked over to the table and admired everything she had set out. “Will that be all?” His attention refocused on the woman now standing in the doorway. “That is wondeful, thank you.” He gave a deep bow. The woman turned to leave, but stopped. “Oh, I almost forgot.” She reached around the corner of the doorframe and picked up a bottle of red wine. She brought it over and set it on the table. “I had set that there so I could open the door. My apologies.” She smiled at him, and he returned it in kind. “Oh, it’s no trouble.” She made her way back to the door and shut it on her way out.

After finishing his meal, Crim poured himself a glass of red wine and walked over to the window. He stared out over the settlement of Nerval. At the moment, it was being blanketed with heavy rainfall. He brought the glass up to his lips, and gently drank a portion of the wine. He shut his eye’s for a second and reopened them. Their color had changed back to crimson red. He finished his glass of wine as a flash of lightning struck nearby. He turned from the window and walked over to the table. He set his glass down and walked over to the bed. He looked at the lamps and the candles, and the lights, went out.

Chapter 2 - Suspicions -

Arthur stood with his brother for four hours watching the moon. In that whole time, neither he nor William saw any vampires. “I guess my instinct was wrong after all. A whole night gone by, and not a single vampire came even close to the town.” William frowned slightly and tilted his head towards the forest. “Its still dark, there’s still time for....” Arthur cut him off. “The sun is starting to come up, William. They wouldn’t dare attack during the day.” He looked at his brother. “I know how much you want to kill them, but..” Now William returned the favor, and shot his brother an nasty look. “You can’t honestly tell me that you don’t either! These monsters are responsible for mother and father’s deaths! Every last one of them, deserves, to die.” Arthur looked at his brother. He always got like this when it came to vampires. “William.” However, Arthur knew he wouldn’t get through to his brother. No matter how many vampire’s they killed, it wouldn’t bring back their parents.

Having settled down a bit, William returned his attention to the tree’s peeking out from above the town walls. The guards were still ready to strike if the need arose, but they looked tired. The sun was steadily rising, and a cloud cover was beginning to roll in. Arthur watched the clouds and noticed their dark color. “It looks like we’re in for some heavy rain. Maybe we should get inside before it hits.” William, without even looking away from the tree’s, responded almost emotionless. “You go ahead.  I’m gonna stay out here a little while yet. A little rain never hurt anyone.” Arthur sighed, realizing it was impossible to convince his brother otherwise. As he turned to head back to their room at the inn, he noticed a boy, looking to be around their age, walk into the inn. He caught a small glimpse of his eye’s. They were a bright red. Arthur looked back at his brother. William had seen it too. He was looking directly at the inn. “Can you handle going in there by yourself?” Arthur looked at him. “We can’t even be sure he was a vampire.” William diverted his gaze slightly. “Who else would have red eye’s?” Arthur shot his brother a stern look. “You know as well as I that it’s possible. I’ll do light recon work, nothing major or extensive. I’m not starting a fight at the inn, nor am I going to interrogate someone who is potentially innocent.” William didn’t like it, but he finally conceded. “Fine, but don’t stay in there too long, you got that?” Arthur nodded and headed off to the inn.

Stepping inside, Arthur noticed that the boy wasn’t in the main lobby. “Ah! Arthur! Good to see you again. I trust that everything’s alright then if your returning so soon?” He turned toward the voice. It was the inn manager Ms. Williams. “Yes ma’am. William is still watching out, but there doesn’t seem to be anything out there.” He walked up to the main counter. “Well, thats good news then. The less trouble, the better.” Arthur smiled. She was always so kind, and was never afraid, even when there were vampires around. She was even letting him and William stay in one of the rooms for free. “I agree, but you know William. He’s always looking for a fight.” She laughed a bit, but then Arthur remembered why he had come back in, in the first place. “Say, did anyone happen to come in, within the last 10 minutes?” She thought for a moment. “Besides you, there was a young man that came in. He’s renting the room on the top floor.” A dinging sound echoed in from the kitchen. “Oh, thats the meal he requested. Please excuse me for a moment Arthur.” She hurried off to the kitchen and came back with a tray filled with fresh food and a bottle of red wine. In a matter of seconds, she was making her way up the stairs. The room on the top floor? But, thats the most expensive room in the inn. No one around here could afford that. Just then, he heard the front door open. When he turned to look, he saw William come walking in. He was a little wet, but mostly dry. “I guess its started to rain then.” William was knocking himself on the side of the head, trying to get a bit of water out of his ears. “Yeah, a bit. Got a frew drops in my right ear though. Did you find anything out?” Arthur laughed a bit. “No, not really. All I know is that he’s staying in the room on the top floor.” William got the same surprised look on his face as Arthur did when he heard that.

Before they could discuss it any further Ms. Williams returned from upstairs. “Oh, hello William. Decided to come in from the rain, have you?” William smiled. “Yes, Ms. Williams.” As she went to stand behind the counter again, Arthur looked at her and continued their earlier conversation. “Does he have a name? The boy staying in the top room?” Ms. Williams seemed a little curious why they were prying, but she pushed it to the back of her mind. “Yes. A rather odd name in fact. He said his name was Crim. He didn’t give a last name, but that doesn’t matter. He paid in full for both the room and the food, even leaving a bit of a tip as a thank you for letting him stay.” Arthur went deep into thought, so William picked the coversation up. “What color were his eye’s.” Ms. Williams again, looked a little confused. “They looked to be sapphire blue.” This shocked both William and Arthur. William looked at Arthur. “But when we saw him outside, he had bright red eye’s. How could they be blue?” Arthur didn’t look up. “I don’t know. Perhaps we saw something wrong.” Ms. William puzzlingly looked at them. “Boys?” Arthur snapped back to attention and looked up at her. “Oh, its nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Arthur and William walked over and sat down at one of the tables. William spoke first. “Something’s not right here.” Arthur motioned with his hand to dismiss his brother. “And I agree with you, but we mustn’t jump to conclusions. The best we can do for now is to wait until he comes down. Then we can get a good look at him.” William grumbled a bit, but nodded in agreement. “Now, why don’t we get something to eat?”

_____________________________

By the time Crim woke up, the clouds still blanketed the sky, and the rain was still pouring hard. The light was slowly fading, indicating that the sun was setting. Approximately 13 hours had passed since he first arrived, and anyone who knew he was there, were probably wondering why he hadn’t come down in all that time. He couldn’t stay, however. He needed to get moving. There were things that needed to be done. Climbing out of the bed, he walked over to the wall and fetched his sword. He stood by the window as he clipped it onto his belt. The light was indeed fading, and quickly. The rain didn’t seem like it would let up anytime soon either. Looking around the room, he spotted s cloak hanging on the wall. He retrieved it and put it on. It was dark a shade of gray and had no sleeves. He clipped it around his neck and let it hang around his body, letting the hood down for the time being.

Stepping out of his room, he locked the door behind himself and went downstairs. Before reaching the bottom he blinked once, changing his eye color from crimson red to sapphire blue, same as before. As he came to the bottom, he noticed that there were more people than before. He walked over to the counter and set the key down. Ms. Williams looked at him kindly. “Leaving so soon, Crim?” Crim looked at her and smiled. “Yes, ma’am. Thank you for letting me stay here.” He bowed to her and turned to leave. “Well, you take care then Crim. If your ever in the area and need somewhere to stay, feel free to stop in. He raised his hand and waved back without even looking.

________________________________

William had just sank his teeth into a juicy apple when he heard footsteps coming from upstairs. Turning to look, a young boy wearing dark clothing and a cloak came down the stairs. This was indeed the same boy they had seen earlier. As he passed by and walked over to the counter, William leaned closer to Arthur. “Did you catch his eye color?” Arthur looked up from the book he was reading. “Sapphire blue, same as yours. If you want, you can go ask him yourself.” He was startled when William actually got up and started walking towards the boy who seemed to be leaving. “Hey! Wait!” Arthur shut his book and went after him.

Before the boy could make it to the door, William and Arthur stopped him. “Sir, can we speak to you for a moment? We saw you earlier and we could have sworn your eye’s were a different color.” The boy didn’t even look at them and just put his hood up. “You are mistaken. My eyes have always been blue. Now if you’ll excuse me. I have to be going. I have personal matters to attend to.” With that, the boy blew them off and left. William was stunned, while Arthur chuckled to himself. “See, I told you there was nothing wrong about it. He may be a little rude, but he’s human.” However, he somehow knew William wouldn’t give up. And, almost 5 minutes later, William left the inn. Arthur sighed and chased after him.

William had decided to tail him and find out where exactly he was going. They followed him for a good 3 hours. They stayed far enough behind that they weren’t noticed. Arthur began to feel a little uneasy. “William, I don’t think we’re alone, and I don’t mean that just because we’re following him, which I still think is a bad idea. It just feels like we’re being watched.” William scanned the forest as they walked. “I don’t see anything, not even a bat. You worry too much.” William went back to keeping his eye on the boy ahead of them, but Arthur couldn’t shake that feeling.

Another hour passed, the night settling in. Both Arthur and William were exhausted, and had lost sight of the boy over 20 minutes ago. “William, shouldn’t we rest for a while?” William kept walking, focused on the road ahead. “Do you really want to stop here? In the middle of the woods? We’ll likely be attacked by one of those abominations if we stop.” Arthur reached out and grabbed his brothers’ arm, stopping him in his tracks. “And if we don’t rest, we’ll be too tired to fight when the time comes. Look, i’m sure he’ll stop in the next town. We’ll catch up with him there.” William looked frustrated, but conceded to his brother. “Fine. We’ll find a good place to rest for now, but we’ll be moving again in an hour.” Arthur smiled and let go. “Good. Glad you listened to reason for once, Will.”

They veered off the trail and into the woods where they found a small clearing. They went in opposite directions, gathering as much firewood as they could find. Meeting back up at the clearing, they set up a stone circle and placed the wood in the center. William held up two smaller sticks. “Think these’ll do?” Arthur snatched the sticks from his hand in a quick motion and looked at them. “They’re thin, but they should work.” He stood one stick straight up in the wood pile and started rubbing them together. After nearly 10 minutes of trying, and breaking a few pairs of sticks, he finally got the fire lit. The warmth of the fire rushed over them. William leaned back a little. “Now that’s relaxing.” Arthur chuckled a little. “Its nice not to be cold for once.” William leaned back, resting on his hands, and shut his eyes. “You act like Ms. Williams doesn’t keep our room warm, or the entire inn for that matter.” Arthur chuckled yet again. “Yeah, you’re right. She does so much for us, and yet we’ve done nothing for her in return. When we get back, we should make it up to her.” Will nodded in agreement.
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