- Excuse me, may I help you? Have you lost your way, young sir? Let me guide you to the near castle of my lord! He would definitely take you as his own guest with warm greeting.
She lifts her teary glance at the stranger, at the sight of which she suddenly feels a cold dread running across her body. She saw these suspicious eyes and the wax-like skin too many times. Moreover, she always sensed whenever somebody wanted to fool her, especially when a disgusting creature like this, is trying to deceive her. However, now she agrees, without realizing what she is doing. The stranger steps closer to help her stand up. He considers the loner a child, a young boy, as he treats her – at least that is what Lucy thinks. No problem, let him think what he wants.
The girl jumps up, right before the stranger could reach her, drawing her sword in an instant. Since she got his father’s sword, it was only hanging on her side, next to her old one, as she was not intended to use it until they reached her Morpheus’s castle. But now, as his enemy knocked her weapon out of her hand effortlessly, this idea of hers seemed to be a fatal one. She’s really lost now…
- Well, well! The weeping young sir is trying to play a hero, isn’t he? Is he afraid that a passerby, a helpful stranger would tell the world what a weepy youngster he had just met! Or not even really a little boy, rather a little girl!
She loses her temper and even though her sword lies in an unreachable distance amongst the fallen leaves, she has her dagger hidden in her bootleg. However, by the time she fetches it, in a blink of an eye, her target vanishes. She turns around confused, but in vain, as her opponent seemingly turned into fog. He possibly could not have left, as she can still feel his presence nearby, but does not know exactly where he could be.
- What is it now, milady? Have you lost your courage? Are you afraid of somebody like me, a generous servant of his lord? – a mocking voice ask from the trees.
- I’m rather disgusted than afraid, you hellish creature!
- You are disgusted of me? But why? I just had offered my help and the goodwill of my lord.
- Help? From your kind? Thank you, but I must refuse! I know what that kind of help is! – she laughs ironically.
- But milady, what are you assuming I am?
- I am just as a lady as you are a human! You are only a soul, a sickening bloodsucker! A filthy, abject vampire!
- I admire how fast you recognized me and didn’t run away screaming and crying.
- Do not expect me to do so! A Van Helsing never draws back from a beast like you.
- Van Helsing? Ha-ha! Well, well, how interesting things we can see these days. I thought your clan had died out many years ago!
- Not so much. There are many of us, we are strong and we are headed right towards your lord!
- Your courage is really worthy. Are you sure you are still not afraid of me? Your heartbeat whispers me else…
The blood freezes in the girl’s veins. Now the voice is not coming from the woods, but from right behind of her back. She even can feel the breath of the vampire on her neck, while a strong arm fixes hers strongly to her side. A sword’s sharp blade flashes in front of her eyes then stops under her chin. In her dread, she cannot ever breathe.
- Well? – the monster asks impatiently, holding its prey in check.
- Leave him alone! Let my brother go!
- Charles! – the shout cracks up with ease and fear from the dried throat of Lucy.
- Your brother? Ha! Rather your sister! Don’t think I’m not into your little secret, you bloody Helsing offspring!
His hold on Lucy’s neck gets tighter and tighter, and even though he holds her only with one arm, he almost suffocates her by squeezing out all air from her lungs. Luckily, before she would faint, she remembers her dagger that’s grip still lies hesitantly in her hand, almost slipping on the fallen leaves. However she can hardly move, her power is enough yet, to pierce the short, silver coated blade in her attacker’s thigh. The vampire roars, cursing, letting the girl fall half-fainted on the ground.
- Now you die! What a pity for your blood!
Lucy, lying on the leaves can just see as a shining sword swings towards her, a bewildered, raging grin and can feel the slippery, metallic smelled blood between her fingers, that still can roil her after all these fighting and battling, if covering her in such a great amount. She still hears a last, metallic clash, and then the outer world stops to exist for her.
Fortunately she doesn’t die, just loses her consciousness. The clash she heard didn’t hit her. It was the collision of two swords, as Charles’s one was put behind the other just in time, to evade the deadly cut. The vampire and the boy in love fight a bloody and serious duel, in which the bet is not only the life of the girl, but also the life of one of the warriors, too.
They are turning around each other with a dizzying speed, the swords touching each other are clapping, jingling, almost singing, on their blades the sunrays shines back so bright from the fast movements. Though Charles had suffered a serious injury before, now he is fighting like a powerful lion, as he would been encouraged, enhanced from above, by the angels. Perhaps it is the ghost of his predecessors that is so helpful, perhaps, only blind luck, but his opponent slips on a sticking-out root and falls on his back. Without any hesitation, Charles dips his blade in the beast’s heart.
Lucy wakes up for somebody holding her head in their lap, wiping her face with a wet cloth. She opens her heart and with blurred vision, but she can see the silhouette of her savior. Maybe it is only due to her gratitude, but finally her heart which she locked up a long time ago now starts to beat for the first time in her life.
- Why did you follow me – she asks quietly, confused -? And how did you know that I would be this way?
- You know… Even if you do not feel but sheer friendship towards me, I still am in love with you and I want to protect you. When you ran away I did not intend to come after you, thinking that I would be the last person you could need to calm down. But when I noticed extraneous footprints on my way out, I started to worry. Unfortunately, and I am sorry for that I got here later than I planned, because of my wound.
- Don’t be sorry. Fortunately you were just in time. Thank you – says she, trying to stand.
Halfway she loses balance and falls back, straight into the arms of her lover. Charles, not saying a thing, simply embraces her softly. The girl closes her eyes and if only out of gratitude, but she kisses her friend. The man’s body suddenly twitches first, then it relaxes and he falls on his back with a thud, from his previous kneeling position. The girl, regaining her perception, notices just now that her savior’s clothing is all covered with blood. He had lost too much of it, as during the duel his wound opened wider. His face went pale white; his hands were cold like ice. He needed help urgently in order to stay alive.
- Please hold on, love, they will come after us. They will be here soon – she whispered not caring about the fact that her peer was fainted.
She started to cry out for her elder brother and friends, so that one of them could hear and find them. Meanwhile, she was desperately trying to bring Charles round. Now that he had saved her life, she must not let herself to lose him.
Only a few seconds later Lucas arrived gasping for air and by the time they managed to bandage Charles’s wound, Antoine, the cousin of Charles arrived, too. His presence, indeed, was very useful as the armor of Charles, even though, was easy equipment, designed for traveling, but it was not easy enough to carry effortlessly for the two Helsings.
Lucy stood up, fetched her weapon and put it back to its scabbard, then took off her cape and unfolded it on the ground as a stretcher, so that the two young men could more easily carry the fainted body to their campsite. The others arrive, too, one by one, each grabbing a piece of the strong, thick, black fabric and carry the weight together. At this time Antoine falls behind and joins the exhausted, lonely youngster slowly trudging after the others.
- Are you well? Have you been injured, Lord Walter?
- Thank you, I believe no serious harm had been done on my. I worry only for your younger cousin so much. He had just saved my life, and I could not bear if this would cause him losing his own one. We must hurry to get into the village as soon as possible, to find a shelter and a good doctor, who can cure Charles’s injuries.
Antoine doesn’t say a word, but he signs his agreement with a dignified nod. To be very emotional does not fit him very well, as he has royal blood running in his veins: he is the cousin of the crown prince, just like Charles. All three are members of the Devangel bloodline, and they have to worth the name. They cannot only be born into the family, they have to deserve to say with heads held up high: yes, they are from this or that noble, or royal family.