A costly mi(stake) – part of the UnNaturalverse
They were waiting.
Let them wait, the apprentice thought bitterly. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his fingers tightened their grip on the stake. For a moment he just stood there, his eyes closed, savouring the moment.
“It’s now or never,” he said to no-one in particular, he was alone for the moment, for his moment. None of his mentors would be here to help.
Letting his breath out the teenager opened his eyes and started to stride down the corridor. Each step, a footfall on marble. Each step, a tap that echoed through the corridor. Each step, a reminded of the prestige of his teachers. He let a smile play across his face as he pushed the heavy oak doors open.
A vampire growls bursting from the shadows to his right. The boy doesn’t flinch, a deft side-step takes him right past the man who stumbles passed. The apprentice turns with an almost graceful spin already bringing the stake up in an arc. The point puncturing the vampire’s back piercing his heart. The boy yanks it free, letting the dead vampire fall before continuing further into the gauntlet that awaited him.
He starts to walk away then stop, turning to look at the dead vampire. One of the first things he’d ever asked was if vampires burst into ashes like they did in the movies. His lore mentor had told him they didn’t, you were just left with a cold dead body. It was why you always tried to take vamps out in enclosed spaces away from potential pedestrians.
The teenager shook his head shaking the sudden bout of nostalgia away. That didn’t matter anymore, in-fact neither did that particular mentor. He’d been killed by a vampire that had been on the ceiling moments after chiding one of his fellow apprentices for looking up saying they couldn’t do that so there was no need to look upward unless you were near stairs or a ladder, or a hole in the ceiling.
He carried on down the marbled corridor, his friend Martin had already headed through the gauntlet an hour before. The boy smiled, he’d have already gone through it, now all that was left was to beat Martin’s time. Near the end of the corridor it split into two, hanging signs said that the left corridor had one vampire, the right had two. He thought about the time, taking out one vampire would be quicker but taking out two would be more impressive. The boy already knew Martin would have chosen the left to save time.
With a shrug he heads right. He unbolts the metal door and pulls it open revealing the empty chamber within. He steps through and a feminine voice echoes from a tinny speaker in the corner.
“Welcome Alice,” the soft spoken voice says. “You are no longer in the rabbit hole now.”
“Where are the vampires?” the boy asks, his eyes already searching the dark corners of the chamber, they should have attacked by now.
“Calm down child,” the voice says caused Victor to grit his teeth, “We’ll release them in a minute, but first we need you to bolt the door. We wouldn’t want a rabbit to escape its hole would we.”
The apprentice turns and bolts the door and heads further into the chamber where the voice speaks again.
“Hunting vampires is often a game of chance, you can do your research perfectly, you can track and plan all you want. But vampire are wild, you picked the right path, knowing you Alice, you believed killing two vampires would make a bigger impression. However, unfortunately the Intel on this ‘nest’ was wrong, there is only one vampire coming. Martin chose the left path and had to deal with two.”
The boy finally hesitates at something, his face paling, suddenly worried about his friend. “Is he okay?”
“Apprentice Martin is already waiting for at the end of your gauntlet. You’ll see him soon enough.”
A click comes from the opposite end of the chamber and a door creaks open. The vampire, a woman this time charges right for the boy going straight for his throat. She doesn’t find his neck, only a well placed boot to the chest. The vampire tumbles back surprised, her intended victim doesn’t hesitate stepping forward to take advantage of the vampire’s own hesitation. He pins her to the ground hand wrapped around the vampire’s throat. He brings the stake up high before bringing it crashing down onto her chest, driving it through the woman’s heart.
Pulling the stake free the boy returns to his feet. He pauses holding the stake up to the light noticing a few cracks starting to appear in the wood. The voice must have noticed too, probably through a hidden camera as she speaks up.
“A vampire hunter’s tools are just as important as the hunter. In the next room you will find a chest, open it for a true hunter’s weapon,” the voice says, then adds more proudly, “you are doing well my Alice. I am proud of you.”
The teenager just nods and heads into the next room where the c hest awaits. Opening it, the boy finds an orntate dagger, bronzed hilt well crafted it into a cross. The blade, roughly six or seven inches was thin, almost rapier like, but still with a razor-sharp edge. It was a beautiful weapon. Picking it up, the boy felt the weight, perfect. It felt like it was moulded just for his own grip. He smiles.
“The others wanted a more simple blade, like Martin was given. But you my Alice, were always my favorite. You showed the most promise, I only want the best for you. Take it and enter the final room, for your final challenge.
“Will you ever stop calling me Alice?” Victor grumbles.
The voice laughs, “when it stops being your name.”
The teenager curses as he enters the final room, once again blaming his parents naming choice. Alice Victoria wasn’t a boys name…