Chapter 56 - Love and hate in the World Community
The full moon hung in the sky, its light flooding the courtyard and creeping through cracks in the shutters to shine on the faces of Tobias and
Erisian. They sat together on one of the large wooden benches discussing the future. It had been the first time Tobias had been able to speak of his
feelings and even then he had required a certain amount of 'Best Pixyland' in order to pluck up the courage. The soldier of the crown turned freedom
fighter who had led so many raids on corporate facilities, bearer of the sword 'Excalibur' and leader of the Stokesay contingent since Arthur's
death had found himself utterly tongue-tied and had eventually blurted out his feelings like a schoolboy unsure of the response his words would
receive. Fortunately he hadn't had to wait long for Erisian's response. After a moment of shocked disbelief she had leaped into his arms laughing
and crying with happiness all at the same time.
They talked for hours; Of the past, of their future hopes and of fear of the present. It was as if nothing and no one else existed but the two of
them. The Corporates, their militia thugs, De Mornay and his Azraelites, all dissipated into nothingness as first Tobias then Erisian told their
tales, one to another.
It was in the early hours of the morning, when everyone else was asleep, that they crept quietly into the infirmary and it was there they were
discovered late the next morning by a bleary-eyed Asala. Tobias lay on his back partly covered with a sheet with Erisian beside him, her head on his
chest. "Gosh !", Asala exclaimed, and turned away quickly to save their blushes as they woke and leaped to cover themselves. "I'll come back
later", Asala said with a smile on her face and quickly left the room. Tobias and Erisian looked at each other's embarassed faces then burst into
peals of giggles as if they were a pair of naughty school children.
When they had dressed and entered the Great Hall, Tobias led Erisian to the bench they had occupied the previous night. Empty bottles of 'Best
Pixyland' lay scattered on the nearby table, which reflected the light of the sun coming through the open widows. In the kitchen Sarah and Asala
prepared the mid-day meal while Pickwick hummed an old tune as he mixed a disgusting smelling concoction which, he explained, was a well known Cornish
Pantha sat beside the fireplace with LadyCool and Ravenna, while Fingal and Loki discussed the possibility of making molotov cocktails with cider
instead of vodka.
Tobias had just poured two tankards of cider and was downing his own when Cpr12r popped up beside them; "When's the happy day then ?", he asked, a
mischievous grin on his face.
"Subtle as a brick !", Pantha muttered from beside the fire, closing her eyes and shaking her head. Erisian blushed red as a beetroot and Tobias
choked on his 'Best Pixyland', spraying the table and almost hitting Cpr who had to leap away to avoid being drenched.
"Serves you right too", Annie said, grabbing Cpr's arm and pulling him away. "You're bloody hilarious you are", she said sarcastically, "an
embarassment to romantic lovers everywhere".
"I suppose everyone knows then ?", Tobias sighed, "Thanks very much Asala"
"Hey, I didn't say a word", came the reply, "No one saw you go into the infirmary this morning, so you had to have been there all night. Two plus
two equals ?"
"Sorry", Tobias said, "I didn't know we were that
Erisian giggled, Tobias chuckled and within moments the infectious laughter had spread throughout the hall.
It was a few minutes after lunch when the outside door opened and MacKiller entered. Quickly he slid the door closed and strode purposefully towards
Tobias. "Something's going down", he whispered, looking furtively through the window towards the courtyard. "Tonight."
Tobias scowled; "Any idea what ?"
"Whatever it is, it's happening here", MacKiller replied, "I heard two of those spooky Azraelite bastards talking earlier. De Mornay's coming
here when the sun's gone down. Just him and a few acolytes. They're in with Isis now, probably telling her the good news. She's pissed off, I'll
tell you that. She fecking loathes him. Personally I think she's planning to do him in, and the sooner the better if you want my opinion".
"You'd best tell her his little secret then", Erisian piped up laughingly, her face shining in the sunlight pouring through the window.
"That he's a vampire ?, no fecking way !", MacKiller said grinning, "She'd never believe me. To be honest, I'm not sure I'm
convinced either. The living dead ? Sounds like somebody's been reading too much Anne Rice."
LadyCool leaped to her feet and stormed over to the soldier, an angry expression on her face. Turning her head, she pulled down the collar of her
shirt to display two red welts on her long white neck. "See these ?", she spat angrily, "A vampire did this months ago. An old bitch called
Isabella. And when I see her again, I'm going to rip her heart out, burn it and have the dog pee on the ashes !!!"
"As long as you don't plan to eat
the bloody thing like those mad bastards in Transylvania", MacKiller said grinning.
a human heart ?", asked Erisian, "Ewwww !"
"Technically they drank
it, MacKiller explained. "They dug up some poor sod they thought was a vampire, cut out his heart, burned it and
mixed it with ash and water, then swigged the lot. Kind of like a 'meaty drink', so they said".
"Ugh !" Erisian said, turning slightly green.
never drink beef broth again, that's for sure", Cpr12r quipped.
At that, Erisian clapped her hand to her mouth and rushed towards the open windows.
"Bit late in the day for morning sickness", Cpr12r said grinning. Annie clipped him on the head and dragged him away before he could say anything
"OK", Tobias said as he watched Erisian with her head out the window, "Enough jokes." He turned back to MacKiller; "Is that all you've got
"Sorry, thats the lot" MacKiller said, then saluted Tobias. "Gotta go", he said, "I'll keep my eyes peeled - see if there's anything I can
He turned and strode swiftly towards the door.
Tobias watched him walk away. So it would be tonight as expected. Whatever it was, it had been planned to coincide with the Imbolc celebrations and
the official formation of the World Community
It couldn't be good.
It was late at night when the sound of rotor blades could be heard coming from the west. Tobias put his arm around Erisian who shivered and leaned
against him. LadyCool sat stroking Phoebe while Fingal and Ravenna spoke in quick whispers at the opposite side of the fireplace. The light from the
choppers sodium lights lit up the courtyard for a brief second as it overflew the castle, then dimmed as it passed behind the Gatehouse and landed in
the grassy field beyond.
An hour went by. Two. Finally the door opened and a squad of fully armed corporate mercenaries swarmed into the Hall. Behind them came two hooded and
cowled Azraelites who stood either side of the doorway, their faces hidden in shadow. A corporate officer snapped a command. The mercenaries strode
forward. One groaned as LadyCool lashed out with her foot, ensuring that his chances of procreation were now precisely nil.
"Get on with it !", ordered the officer, "Or we'll al
l lose more than our nuts !!!"
The corporates moved as one, pulling daysticks from their belts and advancing menacingly. One grinning goon approached Fingal, "Give it up father",
he said, lifting his visor. "You're too old for all this anyway".
"Too old my arse !", snapped Fingal, and punched him in the mouth. The soldier staggered away spitting teeth as his companions surrounded Fingal and
cuffed his hands behind his back.
Tobias managed to disarm one of the corporates, take his daystick and break the arm of another with it. He was just about to ram the stick up a
particularly sensitive area of yet another goon when he too was surrounded and cuffed. Eventually, despite what limited opposition they could offer,
the defenders were overwhelmed by force of numbers and stood dejectedly in the middle of the hall with their hands fastened behind their backs.
"Well, this is a pile of fecking poo and no mistake", Loki muttered as he struggled with the plastic strip that held his hands tightly.
"Don't pull on it", Tobias said, "It'll just make things worse." He stood beside Erisian who looked ready to drop. "Remember what we talked
about?", he whispered to her. She nodded. "Just keep that in your mind."
Erisian closed her eyes and swayed against him.
"Remember the message Sparx brought", Tobias said quickly, "The pixy is out there somewhere. Watch for the mist
, he said."
Erisian nodded. "I'm scared", she said quietly.
"We all are", Tobias replied.
"Even you ?"
"I'm #ting bricks", Tobias said, a weak smile playing across his face. Erisian put her head on his shoulder and muffled a sob.
The door opened and an Azraelite entered. He muttered a few words to his companions at the door before striding quickly towards the corporate
"He is ready", the Azraelite said, then turned, collected his companions and left the hall.
The captors were herded into the courtyard, through the gatehouse and over the drawbridge. The moon shone brightly above them as they were taken into
the field beyond the moat. A black helicopter with the sigal of Azrael stood a few hundred feet before them, while behind the field stretched towards
the nearby woods which could be seen only faintly through the approaching winter fog. Azraelites took charge, forcing the captors into a line facing
the helicopter with Stokesay on their right. There were twelve in all, each standing behind one of the freedom fighters, forcing them to their knees
as the dark High Priest approached. Behind him came the proud Isis, her head held high, her gown glittering in the moonlight. And there was MacKiller,
eyes flickering around, looking desperately for some way to aid those who had become his friends.
De Mornay smiled. "This night will see the culmination of many years of arcane studies", he said to Isis in explanation, "Years of toil and
hardship. Years of suffering. Years of pain. All leading to this one moment when Azrael becomes manifest."
"Fecking nutter", Tobias muttered.
De Mornay grinned and took from his belt a black-bladed dagger with obscene words engraved upon it in a vile long-lost language.
Isis gasped and her hand flew to her throat.
"You recognise it, my dear"
Isis shivered and nodded her head. "
- The very blade that Set used to
"Exactly. But before then, it was called
, the Souldrinker. The soul
blade of Rl'yeh. The stars are right, the sacrifice prepared, the blade cries out for blood, Azrael will walk the earth once again." De Mornay
turned towards the captors kneeling before him, each held down by a cowled and hooded Azraelite.
Isis' hand dropped to her belt. Slowly she drew forth a thin wicked looking blade, the handle of which was formed into the shape of the Goddess for
whom she was named. De Mornay stood watching the sky, calculating the march of time, the Souldrinker held tightly in his right hand.
An indrawn breath was all warning De Mornay had when in an instant Isis whipped her dagger into the air and plunged it into his back. The Azraelite
staggered under the blow then turned slowly. The look of triumph on Isis' face turned to one of shock as De Mornay cocked his head to one side and
grinned. Isis staggered backwards "This ... isn't possible ... not ..."
De Mornay gestured towards Isis. Two Azraelites rushed to her side and took hold of her arms. "Despite that little show of disrespect", De Mornay
said, "You will still have the honour of seeing my plans come to fruition. And then ? ... well ..." He shrugged his shoulders. Then, as if
remembering something turned his back towards one of the Azraelites; "Remove that", he said sharply. The acolyte reached up, pulled the dagger from
the High Priest's back and cast it to the ground.
De Mornay took from his robes an exquisitely wrought gold pocket watch. He looked at it, then to the black sky above. One by one he caught the gaze of
his captors, looking for any hint of fear in their faces. Loki scowled at the Azraelite, Asala shivered but held his gaze, Pantha glared back, Sarah
looked as if she wanted to tear off his head while LadyCool wanted to tear off something else. Ravenna frowned, Cpr12r forced away his own fear and
grinned while Annie glowered as only a Welshwoman can. Pickwick would have dropped his trousers and mooned if it was possible but had to settle for a
vile Cornish oath similar to those used by Pisky while Fingal muttered the immortal words "pogue mahone" as the Azraelite's gaze fell upon
. Erisian swayed and almost fell when the piercing red eyes met hers, but she refused to be the one to break eye contact.
And then there was Tobias. Seeing the murderous rage in the soldier's eyes, even the vampiric De Mornay shuddered.
"Only twelve", De Mornay muttered. "I need one more." He beckoned to the corporate mercenary officer. "Did I or did I not tell you to capture
The officer gulped; "You did, sir"
"I should have your
soul shouldn't I ? - After all, it was the fault of your
men and you
are the officer in charge. Surely you
should be willing to sacrfice yourself in order to keep the honour of your squad intact ?" De Mornay smiled.
"I ... er ... would ... er"
De Mornay shook his head. "You would be a sad specimen of a soul to send to Azrael." he turned to the two acolytes holding Isis. "Take her with the
Isis's head spun around; "You can't do that !!!
", she snapped, "I am a Priestess of the Temple of Isis ... you have no jurisdiction over
"If you want to get technical with me", De Mornay drawled, "You tried to kill me. I am entitled to defend myself."
, Isis almost shrieked as one of the acolytes pulled her arms behind her and fastened them together, "This isn't self defence,
"Sacrifice actually", the vampire replied, "Put her with the others".
De Mornay stood watching. Thirteen sacrifices, thirteen unwilling souls ready to be torn from their bodies and sent to the Angel of Death. Behind them
dark garbed acolytes, each looking like a smaller version of their deity. And beyond that the fog rolling in from the hillsides.
De Mornay looked at the little gold pocket watch in his hand, closed the lid and smiled.
It was time.