Dark and Light

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The Demon Hounds!

Ravener has fed on their flesh before. It has a bitter, spicy flavor, much less pleasant than vampire, even human.

He looks up at the moon, watches with fascination as it quivers in terror.

Hellhounds are strong.

Dangerous. To be avoided. Even though victory against one or a few is certain, victory against many is not. Besides, they taste terrible.

What interests him more is their existence. He had believed that Van Helsing had (with Ravener's help) purged the Hellhounds. Someone must have summoned more. Ravener heard the Call, that ripple of power that forced the beasts to respond. He knew not who issued it, nor where he stood, but he felt its power, analyzed it as he would a bite of food.

A weak being, but with a strong will. Probably not the original summoner, just a human who aspires to take his place.

Ravener creeps through the shadows, wondering. Who? Where? Why? How? THe traditional questions, the ones that, when answered, grant total awareness.

And the howls of the cursed beasts fill his soul like music.
Edited by KnarledOne on 4/1/2013 2:45 PM PDT
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It is said that all things work together for good.

Some disagree.

Others simply find good to be bad.

However, one thing considered true by most is that opinions do not usually change the nature of the truth. This does not always hold true, as sometimes opinions affect truth, and in some worlds the two are indistinguishable.

One question asked by many is this: if all things work together for good, why do the right thing? No matter what you do, it will turn out well.

Some say this is foolishness.

Some say it is true.

Many believe that a related effect is true: if you always do the right thing, no ill can come of it. Hardship perhaps, but ultimately no evil.

Most agree, but some say that one’s motives must be good as well as one’s actions.

There is another question that is harder to answer.

What is the right thing?

If you do the right thing, does it really make everyone happy?

These were among the things the Messenger, the Angela of the Patrol, pondered.

Was ordering the Hungering One’s undoing the right thing?

It certainly saved lives. Great evil would occur if he was allowed to… to…

She could not even bear to think of what had been prevented. The shame was too great, and to think that her own message had brought it about…

The Captain had found out about the plan. He had not been pleased, but as always he replied not with anger, but with words of wisdom. He reproved his brethren, telling them that in the end evil deeds beget evil, no matter how well intentioned they were. While all would turn to good eventually, evil means were never an acceptable alternative.

Yes, Joseph had prospered in Egypt.

But he had not been sent there due to his own evil, but because others were evil to him.

Had he chosen the wrong thing in the house of Potiphar, or as the second of Pharaoh, evil would have come of it. Even if some other could have been used for good in that case, he would be remembered as a villain, and his works would have been for nothing.

The Captain told them that the Master had a plan to make good of their evil, but they would suffer for it.

The Angela knew this. Some of the Patrol did not believe the Captain’s words. They still believed they had done the right thing.

She knew better. She was far too close to the evil to ignore it. She knew she and her comrades would stand before the Throne and answer for their misdeeds, and the shame would be hard to bear.

But until then, she would do her duty.
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The call rippled through reality just as Altun landed in front of the cave entrance.
"COME HERE."

A summons... But not for him. For Hellhounds. A summons that was taking place less than a hundred meters from where he now stood. Altun's sword appeared in his hand as he walked into the cave. Whoever had dared call the Hellhounds would pay for daring to use such profane creatures to accomplish their ends.

He had barely taken two steps before he felt a ward covering the entrance fall apart as his Holy Light shone upon it. A simple alarm spell was triggered and a rather sharp snap broke the silence. It wasn't that important. They would know he was coming, but not what he was or how powerful he was.

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Amon seized Nathanial's hand and pulled him sharply. "We must flee at once!"

Nathanial shook the old vampire off him. "No we don't. It could be just a human."

Amon let out a frustrated sigh. "You just called Hellhounds Nathan! You think an Archangel is def to that kind of a call? He has come here to burn us out! The hounds couldn't possibly be here yet, and won't be here in time to save us. Amon ran to a shelf and picked out a book. "This will buy us time." He set the book inside a small summoning circle and opened it. He lifted a match and lit the far corner on fire. "I release you!"

He grabbed Nathanial again. "HURRY!"

Nathanial didn't fight back as Amon dragged him to a blank wall and walked through it. Nathanial had just enough time to flinch before he hit... nothing. The wall was an illusion, likely covering the escape rout they were now using. "Amon, the sun is still up!"

Amon did not slow. "I know. That would concern me if this tunnel led to the surface, but it does not. Just follow quickly!"
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Hm... funny that Amon... well, it is a common name for dark creatures.

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Ravener moved, agonizing in this light. Clouds licked at the southwestern half of the sky like tongues of dark flame, the heralds of an oncoming downpour, but until that time the sun shone brightly enough to cause pain even to a mortal.

The man/monster/creature wanted nothing more than to crawl into a hole and hide from the celestial orb's vicious glow, but he pressed onward, keeping to the shadows when he could. HE could sense the foul, nay, the all too pure creature's presence. Though what rational thought remained in him warned him that he had no chance of victory, he followed the being's trail, hoping to catch it unawares.

In some deeper, darker part of his mind, he also hoped he could perhaps drive it to destroy him.

Something told him it would not. If that had been within its intent or ability, it would have done so before. No, its goal was to make Ravener suffer.

SO far its success had been considerable.
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GAH!

The suspense is killing me... I want to know what happens next!

ZANON!!!
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Altun paused as he felt the change. Ravener had been following him for some time now, but the evil presence that weapon radiated had almost entirely hidden Ravener from his senses. And now Altun had a difficult decision to make.

Should he follow this Evil into the mountain, but risk being surrounded? Or should he leave now, and allow the Evil he had been chasing to escape?

The decision was made for him when a pit demon leaped at him from the cave entrance, knocking him all the way back out of the cave and onto his back. The demon shrieked almost as soon as Altun's no longer shrouded Holy Light touched its body. But as soon as it touched his armor...

Such a wail has not been heard by mortal ears since ages long past, and shall not be heard again unless two forces such as these meet again. The demon's jaws were opening and closing rapidly, generating almost a snapping sound that gave the wail and oddly distorted feeling. Yet still the pit demon held on and continued its attacks with blows from fists and claws that would have turned tanks into pancakes.

Yet, in spite of all this, Altun managed to get his free hand between himself and the demon.
"HOLY SMITE!"

A blast of Holy Energy hits the Demon in its center of mass, sending it flying hundreds of meters up in the air. "And there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Altun stands himself up and flicks his wings out sharply to dislodge dirt and other debris from them. A second, sharper motion of the wings sees Altun into the air and well on his way to introducing this demon to an Archangel's blade.

The collision is brief. The demon meets the blade at speeds in excess of what nature can usually provide in any situation outside the violent eruption of a volcano. The demon itself vanishes in a flash of light, leaving only the Archangel hovering in the air.
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Ravener felt the flash of light on his back and cringed at the pain. One day soon, he would get his revenge on the angel, and a little more pain now would hardly reduce his patience when there were far worse crimes to repay. Now, though, the light was gone, and he was safe inside the cave, which sheltered him from the most unwelcome rays of the sun.

He made his way swiftly through the cave. The angel would not be delayed for long by the demon. As he had passed, Ravener had heard it screaming for aid, cursing him mentally with blasphemies and imprecations that would have driven a mortal mad when he ignored it. He felt no pity for the creature, not out of a particular dislike of it, but simply because he knew himself to be more important, and that the demon was expendable despite its strength. Someone had released it as a decoy, and it had served its purpose in more ways than intended.

Finding the hidden library was easy. It had not been properly sealed by those who had recently been there. Ravener tasted the air, hoping to determine the nature of the library's former occupants.

Vampires.

Interesting. Well, that explained a little. This was certainly the sort of place they would stay, and the angel had obviously discovered their presence and begun to hunt them. But where had they gone?

A scream of pain and rage tore through Ravener's mind. Well, that was it for the pit demon, which meant there were only a few moments remaining. He searched the wall and found a convenient switch. With a thud the door slid to. Hopefully that would buy a few moments. What to do next? Follow the blood-drinkers, obviously. But where had they gone?
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Altun hovered for a moment, enjoying the warmth of the sun. It's light was a mere shadow relative to those he had seen, but still... It served as a reminder of home.

Yet reality must take precedence over idle musings.

Altun folded his wings and fell to the ground. He landed with a solid thump, leaving deep ruts in the ground. he approached the cave entrance except... it wasn't there anymore.

The mountain appeared seamless and without flaw. An impossibility without magic, yet between the Black Blade, Ravener, and the demon, whatever magic had been used to heal the stone was suppressed beyond recognition. Nothing for it but force.

The stone split with a crack that shook the mountain to its core. And again. And again. The now closed door won't last more than a minute. Best make use of it.
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Ravener turned to face the booming noise. Altun is coming. He expected this. THere was no way the demon could have stopped them. How it must have relished its freedom, only to discover why somebody had been willing to free it. Ravener wasn't sure whether this amused him or saddened him.

He backed away slowly. There was a chance Altun would attack on sight, and he wanted have his back against a...

...wall.

The wall was now in front of him, not behind him.

The initial surprise was significant, but it didn't take long for him to divine what had occurred, and even before he was certain what had happened he was running down the tunnel. His purpose forgotten, he fled from the light that was the Archangel.
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Altun pulled his fist back for a particularly powerful blow and struck a truly devastating blow against the cracking stone.

The entire mountain seemed to quake for a moment, then several feet of stone collapsed inward, revealing a hole that led into the abandoned lair. Altun lowered his head and stepped through the gap. The stone grated slightly as his armored form scratched the walls. That was to be expected. If Angelic armor was softer than stone, it would be a fairly poor excuse for armor indeed.

Altun wasted no time looking about. He could sense Ravener from here, and Ravener was getting further away every second. Altun folded his wings in so that they would not catch on the walls, then took off at a run. He would catch up to him soon.

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The hellhounds arrived less than a minute later. The call of their master was still strong, but they could feel the lingering energy of the Archangel that had passed this way oh so recently.

There were a few growls as the hellhounds discussed the options available to them. There was an Archangel between them and their master. Perhaps the Archangel was why their master had called them, but there was no way to know.

More growls. One of the hellhounds snapped at another, obviously voicing disagreement.

They could bring the mountain down on the Archangel as well as their master. It was a simple matter, as the Archangel had been so kind as to fracture the mountain in a few key places when he had broken through the outer door. On the plus side, if their master were killed they would be free and the archangel would be buried for a relatively long time. On the down side, the master was a vampire. If he wasn't crushed to death then they would be stuck here for a very long time.

A decision was reached. They would risk killing the master and hope they got lucky. After all, creatures summoned from hell were supposed to try and kill you by 'accident' occasionally. It wasn't explicitly in the contract, but if you didn't expect it you were a fool.

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Altun slowed. The mountain was shaking. Mountains were not supposed to do that. There was no surge of energy coming from ahead, so what could possibly be doing this?

Pieces of the cieling began to fall. One bounced harmlessly off Altun's armor and clattered across the floor.

Altun turned just in time to see the beginnings of a cave in. Not good. A few tons of rock was nothing. A few million tons of rock on the other hand might prove to be quite the problem. He would be buried here under the rock until he successfully blasted his way out. Depending on how deep the chase had taken him so far, he could be stuck here anywhere between hours and weeks.

Then he felt the first seeping of infernal energy through the rock. The hellhounds, they were going to seal him here.

Altun thought about it for a second and changed his estimate to somewhere between two months and five years. The infernal seals would significantly limit how much holy energy he could use to aid in his 'mining' toward the surface.

Altun came to a full stop. No use going deeper. He would wait for the hellhounds to finish, then make his way back to the surface.

Eventually.
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