Chapter 54 - Darkness Falls
The scream that rent the air was one of utter terror. It lasted a mere second then once again all was quiet.
Tobias unsheathed Excalibur and raced towards the source. Pantha followed, weapon at the ready.
They had just reached the stables when a dark shape seemed to flow out of the Gatehouse and through the small alleyway leading to the drawbridge. The
two guards lifted their pistols and fired, the muzzle flashes outlining the attacker. By the time Tobias had reached the Gatehouse itself, the two
were dead, torn apart as if by some wild animal. Light shone from the door leading to the drawbridge controls as with a loud creak the bridge itself
began to slowly drop, making a span across the moat.
The soldier charged into the room, sword raised, to see the dark figure of Zara De Mornay standing at the controls. Her white face covered with blood
which dripped from her mouth like an open wound. She turned and smiled, displaying long animal-like fangs in her infernal maw of a mouth. Tobias
hesitated for a moment, then with a roar he swung Excalibur.
The speed with which De Mornay moved was beyond belief and the sharp sword embedded itself into the wooden walls as the woman ducked and dived away.
Laughing maniacally, she leaped over Tobias through the door and into the entrance hall of the gatehouse, only to be slammed to the ground by a stream
of bullets from Pantha's gun. She lay unmoving, the only sound that of the lowering drawbridge and the ranting of Tobias as he tried to raise it
again. Pantha walked slowly towards the fallen enemy, gun lowered at the unbreathing form. She lifted her foot and nudged the still body, only to find
herself grasped tightly by a cold hand that felt as if it was made of iron.
De Mornay lifted her head, a grin of pure malice crossing her face. A yelp of pain came from Pantha as the demonspawn squeezed her ankle, her fiery
eyes boring into Pantha's very soul. With a yell of pain and anger Pantha aimed her gun and emptied the clip into those demonic red eyes.
"Piece of fecking # !!!", Tobias yelled as the drawbridge controls refused to answer to his commands. Slowly, inexorably, the bridge lowered while
Tobias tore Excalibur from the wall and headed through the door. Pantha stood shaking her head. The drawbridge was almost fully down. Of Zara de
Mornay there was no sign.
"I emptied a full clip into her !", Pantha said breathlessly as Tobias dragged her into the courtyard, "How did ...?"
"Feck knows !", Tobias muttered before yelling at the top of his lungs.
The castle was under attack.
The first few Corporate mercenaries to enter over the drawbridge fell to Pantha's bullets before she was pinned down behind the stable block. Behind
her, on the North curtain wall could be heard the scraping of metal against stone as Corporate forces attempted to stretch expandable ladders across
the moat. There was a muttered curse as one of the mercenaries was struck in the shoulder with an arrow fired from the roof by the grinning Cpr12r.
The curse turned into a scream as the soldier slipped off the ladder and fell into the moat to be impaled by one of the deadly stakes hidden just
below the water.
An explosion echoed through the courtyard, followed by a series of screams issuing from behind the wall adjoining South Tower. Loki grinned as flames
became visible, shooting into the air on the other side of the wall. "Home made napalm !", he shouted to Annie who hung out of the Solar window, her
bow strung for action.
A mercenary, taking cover in the lee of the gatehouse block moved rapidly to the opposite side. His plan was to use one of the tables as cover and
guide his companions safely into the courtyard. A series of bullets from LC and Asala put paid to that idea and the man turned back, only to meet the
sword wielding Tobias who was far from happy. The mercenary was rapidly despatched and his firearm appropriated before yet another wannabe corporate
hero came tearing through the gatehouse, firing as he went. A well placed arrow to the throat from Annie helped him on his way to Hell.
Outside the castle, Gilles de Mornay stood watching the 'proceedings' as he was wont to call them. Beside him, Isis crossed her arms, her white gown
making the dark cloak of de Mornay appear even more like a hole in the fabric of space than ever. Beside her MacKiller followed the attack, relived
that until now only Corporate forces had been ordered into the fray.
"I assume you appreciate our little show", De Mornay asked in his hard yet sibillant voice as he turned to look at Isis.
The priestess shivered inwardly but refused to give in to the illogical fear that threatened to overwhelm her. "I will report to the High Priestess
as ordered", she said, "Whether you win through or fail, you can be assured that the Temple of Isis will be made aware".
De Mornay laughed; "Failure is not in my dictionary", he said.
"Then you really should get a better copy", Isis replied cuttingly, "Your version has pages missing"
De Mornay glared and strode towards the castle.
the hold up ?", he asked a black-garbed Corporate mercenary.
"We're holed up just over the drawbridge", came the reply, "We've lost five men already"
"That many ?", De Mornay said sarcastically, "How terrible" and with that he pushed the mercenary aside and walked purposefully across the
"There !", Asala said, pointing to where the gatehouse joined the courtyard. The bodies of three Corporate mercenaries lay where they had dropped,
but it wasn't them that Asala was gesturing towards - it was the tall dark cloaked man striding out of the gatehouse as if he hadn't got a care in
Gilles De Mornay stopped just inside the courtyard. Hands on hips he surveyed the castle as if it was his own. Tobias moved towards him, Excalibur in
his hands. On the South curtain wall Erisian put her hand to her mouth and moaned.
"Now !!!", shouted LadyCool from the windows of North Tower, and a hail of bullets slammed into De Mornay's body. These were accompanied by two
arrows, which embedded themselves in his chest. De Mornay looked down at his mangled clothes and deliberately reached up, grabbed one of the arrows
and tore it from his body.
Then he grinned, and his red eyes glimmered in the moonlight.
"Oh # !", LC muttered from the tower, "He's a fecking vampire !"
"Why would he want
to be a vampire ?", Asala asked as she followed LC down the stairs of North Tower. "That's obviously why he wanted
Isabella, but why ???
"No idea", LC said, leaping the last few steps and racing towards the doorway, pistol in one hand, parasol jammed through her belt. "And I bet his
bitch of a wife is one as well !" A bullet ricochetted from the stone doorway as LC moved towards the courtyard. She dropped to her knees and fired
back. Asala ducked back into the hall and shattered one of the windows with the butt of her pistol, then took up position to cover her friend.
Tobias charged forward, sword upraised as De Mornay removed the second arrow and smiled arrogantly.
"I want thirteen !!!", he shouted to the corporate forces as they rushed into the courtyard, "The others are yours to do with as you see fit". He
spun rapidly, his sword came up and Tobias grunted as steel crashed into steel.
, he hissed, gesturing with his sword, then deflecting another of Tobias's attacks with a parry that was so fast it became a blur.
Tobias grimaced and thrust with Excalibur. This time De Mornay did not even bother to move. The sword slipped effortlessly through the leather of his
jacket, into his body and out of his back. He looked down and smiled. Tobias stood stunned. A heart shot. Excalibur had gone straight through the
man's heart and yet here he stood smiling. Gilles de Mornay sighed, plucked the sword from his chest and held it out towards Tobias. The soldier just
stood there shaking his head. Then his training kicked in and so did he. Grabbing Excalibur, he lashed out with his foot, kicking De Mornay off his
feet, then with a roar of anger, lifted the sword above his head. "Say hello to Azrael for me !!!"
, he said angrily as the blade flew towards
De Mornay's unprotected neck.
A clash of metal upon metal. Tobias's arms shook. Zara de Mornay stood beside her husband, her own sword having deflected Excalibur's killing
"Thank you my dear", De Mornay said, getting onto his feet and smiling. Zara nodded, grinned evilly at Tobias and walked away.
Corporate mercenaries were everywhere. And everywhere could be heard the sounds of battle. From guns to swords and everything in between if something
could be used as a weapon it was
. One mercenary screamed in agony as Phoebe leaped from the hallway to sink her fangs into his buttocks. LC
took down another who was menacing the dog with a long dagger. Pantha, no longer trapped beside the stables ran below the wall into the smithy and
took up position behind Angover's massive anvil. Cpr12r and Annie made short work of any Corporate unfortunate enough to get with range of their
longbows while Erisian and Ravenna crouched on the South curtain wall, picking off anyone even considering trying to cross the moat.
Everywhere there was the stench of blood and the cries of the dying. Many members of the Stokesay contingent hadn't fought for many years and were
easy targets for the Corporate mercenaries. Others made up for lack of skill with pure determination and Sarah grinned as she saw Damien trip up a
mercenary while Rhiannon smacked him in the head with a hammer filched from the smithy.
A black shape flickered just inside Sarah's field of vision and she turned quickly, swallowing nervously as she recognised the blood spattered figure
of Zara de Mornay.
De Mornay smiled. Gesturing to Sarah's sword she mouthed its name. Then lifted up her own blade "Mannin"
she said, the blood on her mouth making her look even more demonic than ever. Suddenly she lashed out and a flash of light flickered along the
swords as Sarah's 'Caledonia' parried effortlessly. De Mornay grinned and slashed again, aiming at Sarah's throat. Once more Caledonia deflected
the blow. Another. And another. De Mornay glared. Sarah fought a smile, concentrating on the matter on hand. Without warning the vampire turned, spun
around and with a yell kicked Sarah into the air. Caledonia flew from her hand and she landed, winded, on the grass. De Mornay smiled, moving slowly
and languidly towards her prey. Sarah's eyes blurred and she felt as if she had been hit with a tree trunk. De Mornay leaned towards her, the red
vampire eyes seeking those of Sarah. The cold blade of De Mornay's sword touched the side of Sarah's neck and she winced.
"Hey, bat breath !!!"
De Mornay spun around. LC stood behind her, pistol in one hand, parasol in the other.
De Mornay laughed coldly and shook her head. Bullets couldn't harm one of the undead. Surely this strange blue-haired woman knew that
Mornay grinned and stretched out her arms arrogantly, inviting LC to fire.
LadyCool grinned and struck.
With a groan Zara de Mornay toppled sideways, the sharp wooden end of LC's parasol embedded in her chest.
"Give me that sword", LC said, grabbing the demonspawn's fallen weapon. "I fecking hate
vampires !", she said, and in a single blow
detached De Mornay's head from her body, sending her black soul into the outer darkness for eternity.
LadyCool glared at the corpse then bent to help Sarah to her feet. "Thank y..." Sarah's face went white and her mouth opened in shock and
what the ... ?" LC turned around. "Bugger" she muttered as she saw the two mercenaries, weapons aimed, faces like thunder, standing
mere feet away.
"Drop the sword", came the command.
Given the alternative, LC decided to comply.
It was all over bar the shouting as LadyCool's Northern ancestors would have said. Bodies lay around, both corporate and insurgent. Saved by his wife
from Tobias's rage, De Mornay had called for Corporate support, which came in the form of seven burly mercenaries. Two were now dead, victims of
Excalibur, one more would never father children, and the remaining four now stood guard on Tobias who sat on a table with a dejected look on his
Sarah and LC leaned against the wall of the Great Hall, disarmed and with an escort of mercenaries. The same went for Erisian, Ravenna and Fingal.
Asala and Pantha had been placed in the now empty stables alongside Annie. Cpr12r had held out the longest on the roof but he too had surrended when
the corporates threatened to kill his new found friends.
He and Loki had been locked away in the toilet block with the obligatory mercenary guard.
Sarah had had to force herself not to sob when the Corporates began clearing up the bodies, for alongside those of her enemies were many people She
had got to know over her time in Stokesay. Rhiannon lay beside the well, looking for all the world as if she was asleep except for the small hole
above her heart where the bullet had entered. Damien, seeing his mother fall, had ran shouting towards her only to be cut down by crossfire. And when
the mercenaries brought the body of Coleman from the Gatehouse, his throat a tattered mess, Sarah moaned in horror.
Gilles de Mornay stood above the body of her wife, a look of rage on his face. Turning his head, he scanned the courtyard. "I should have you all
killed right now
for this outrage !!!", he shrieked, his red eyes shining in the light of the sinking moon, "But your time will come. And it
will come at a time of my
He gestured to two of the mercenaries to remove the body before striding towards the gatehouse where a soldier wearing the uniform of the British Army
escorted a dark haired woman in an irridescent white gown.
"I wonder who she
is ?", LC asked quietly.
Sarah shook her head. "No idea", she replied,"But she doesn't seem very happy"
"She wouldn't bollock him like that if she knew he's a vampire", LC said, watching as the woman gestured angrily beyond the gatehouse.
"You will stay with us until I
say otherwise !" De Mornay's voice carried in the strengthening wind. And after a word with the soldier, he
strode through the gatehouse, over the drawbridge and into his helicopter. Within minutes it was in the air heading westwards.
"Sun's coming up", LC said as a faint glimmer of light appeared in the east. "Drac's probably off for a nap"
"Probably", replied Sarah morosely. "I wonder what they're going to do with us now ?"
"We'll soon find out", LC said pointing to where a group of mercenaries were prodding Erisian, Ravenna and Fingal to their feet. And within ten
minutes or so, all those who remained of the Stokesay contingency were in the Great Hall, guarded by mercenaries and without even a drop
'Best Pixyland' to aid them through the trials to come.