Vampire Hunter D: Pale Fallen Angel Parts Three and Four, page 11
As the clay sculpture downed the mysterious elixir, Sai Fung could only stare in amazement.
“Make good your exit. Even I can’t stop it any longer,” de Carriole said as he dashed over to Miska’s side.
While it wasn’t exactly in character for Sai Fung to remain there, as a warrior he was anxious to see with his own eyes the strength of the giant now that it had quaffed the fortifying elixir.
The golem bounded almost immediately. Its speed was considerably greater than Sai Fung remembered.
“Oh, shit!” Sai Fung exclaimed as the massive form dropped from above, leaving him no time to escape. The sole of a shoe twice as large as his face was about to smash him—and then the giant rolled. It actually looked as if it had been flipped away. But neither of Sai Fung’s arms was in a position to do that.
Leaving a shattered table on the floor, the giant was in the process of getting back to its feet when a voice called out from behind it, “Over here!”
Perhaps it realized that was the voice of its master, but the hatred blazing in its eyes was that of a warrior who’d just confirmed the presence of a new foe. As it got up, the giant twisted its body. Glittering shards of glass and ceramic fell from its back, scattering across the floor.
What the golem saw was a woman with a long needle being driven into her pale arm, and the old man who held said needle. A blue point of light clung to the woman’s wrist where the needle went into her. As it was drawn out again, the room was simultaneously filled with an air of terror.
Was this fear from the golem, de Carriole, Sai Fung—or was it perhaps the very air in the room that was terrified?
The skylight was blown out, glass and all. The wind that came rushing in performed a crazed dance.
“B-boss?!” Sai Fung exclaimed. For some reason, his whole body had been enveloped by a red fog.
In front of the giant—beside de Carriole, to be exact—a pale, mistlike mass had formed. Issuing from Miska’s wrist, it had only stopped growing when de Carriole once again covered the place where the needle had pierced the Noblewoman.
So, that was the Destroyer?
For a few seconds the madness vanished from the crazed golem’s eyes, but they soon blazed with a new and fervent emotion—murderous intent against his foe. And then, with booming thuds, it barreled at the pale mist.
When the woman’s story had ended, D looked up at the surface and said, “Time to go.”
Whether that remark was addressed to his left hand or the woman was unclear.
“Kindly wait a moment,” the woman said, stopping him.
Glowing like something out of a dream, her pale hands undid the bosom of her dress. Her breasts were large and beautifully formed. A finger touched the right breast and red blood streamed out like a thread, forming a small vermilion ball about eight inches from her.
“Drink,” the woman said. “In order to safely escape this underground lake, you shall need my permission. That’s what this is. Although as a Hunter, I’m sure you may find it disturbing to drink the blood of a Noble, kindly accept my offer. If not, you have no prospect of defeating my husband, no matter how powerful you may be.”
This avowal was most surely what she truly felt, without any shadow of mistruth.
D said, “I’ve come here to destroy the one who would drink that.”
And then he raced toward the surface. Indications of the form swimming away traveled through the water.
For the first time ever in this underwater world the woman muttered to herself, saying, “So beauteous a man—and so strong. But against my husband . . .”
It was thirty minutes later that D arrived at Vlad’s bedroom. The woman had said it’d been located at the north end of the manor’s basement once, and so it remained even now.
Although the woman in the water had informed him that escape from the underground lake would be impossible, D was now at the large and magnificently carved door, dripping wet from head to toe but otherwise completely unharmed. The ranks of fiendishly powerful foes that had once pierced de Carriole’s body stood in D’s path, as did barred doors, but when his pendant glowed, the former fell silent and the latter opened without a sound, permitting the young man in black to pass. Along the way, D had encountered a few of the stag beetles—guards—but his sword had pierced the thick armor of each and every one, allowing him to make his way to the master’s private quarters without falling victim to any of the numerous labyrinths or traps. Never stopping for a second, D pressed forward.
Though the great door looked as if it were opened and closed by an old-fashioned key, it was, in fact, under computer control. A series of three doors opened, each of its own accord, when the gorgeous young man came to them. And when the last of them opened without a sound, D saw a bronze coffin lying on the floor in a vast chamber, covered by a canopy and defended by five canals, one nested within the next. This was the basement, of course, but the windows were still covered by heavy curtains.
In darkness devoid of a single ray of light, D’s eyes glittered with a quiet intensity. His feet were already on the walkway that bridged the canal. Since leaving the underground lake, he hadn’t stopped even once. But he halted when he heard a sound spill from the coffin.
A sound? No, a cry of pain. A curse. Denunciations from the dead on one who would defile his sacred resting place.
“Oh, this guy’s pretty pissed. Looks like he really doesn’t want you opening his coffin. It’s still daylight outside.”
As his left hand had indicated, the cries from the coffin grew louder and more violent as D stepped forward.
Crossing the last canal, D stood before the coffin and reached for the lid. He tore it off with one pull. The locks shattered.
After taking a look inside, it was naturally his left hand that remarked, “Oh, my!”
D’s dark eyes reflected the bloodshot eyes and waxy face of the girl staring up at him quietly. Pale arms stretched out toward the Hunter’s face.
“D . . .” said Taki.
D had made silent note of the abhorrent teeth marks that marred the nape of her neck. As Taki tried to rise, his left hand delivered a blow to her solar plexus, and the girl slumped forward.
A small recording device had been placed in the head portion of the coffin. The masculine cries of pain had issued from that.
A presence formed behind the Hunter. Whoever it was might’ve been hidden quite well, and all five of D’s senses had certainly been focused on the coffin. However, this was still D. Who could’ve deceived his ultrakeen senses and kept their presence a secret?
D didn’t move. He’d sensed that the second he took a step or even so much as lifted a finger, his foe would strike with lightning speed.
“So glad you could come, man known as D,” said the voice from behind him. “I wish we could sit down and have a drink in recognition of your long and wearying trip, but I’m afraid neither of us is in a position to do so. The least I can do is make your death an easy one. Or should I say your destruction?”
A low laugh made the speaker grow tense.
“Death or destruction—that’s a distinction a human would make. Either one is fine, but do you think you can do either to us?”
“A-ha!” the voice behind him said, sounding quite impressed. “So, you’re not alone? How interesting. I don’t know where it is in D that you hide, but I shall send you both to the hereafter. Turn around.”
The second D complied, he would probably be hit with some unknown attack.
D didn’t move.
As the Hunter stood stock still without any apparent tension or fear, the source of the voice seemed to sense something.
“Why do you not face me?” the voice from the darkness asked in a tone far darker and crisper.
“Is that what you really want?” the Hunter asked.
Did he really want D to turn around?
The voice fell silent.
As the young man in black stood there, motionles
“Why, this is . . . You’re just so . . .”
The content of the words that finally spilled from him aside, there was a weight to them equal to the cries of pain that had issued from the coffin a short while earlier. However, the voice quickly regained its ring of confidence and maliciousness.
“So, it is true. You actually are the great one’s—”
The air grew taut, freezing the next word.
A flash of white light streaked toward D’s back, but was deflected. Shifting his back ever so slightly, D had parried the attack with his sheath.
At the same time, the man in black became a bird in flight, sailing backward. What D saw was a gigantic hazy figure shrouded in darkness. No matter what it was, it didn’t seem like it could possibly have a means of protecting itself from the blade of D’s sword.
Putting the speed of his descent and his own weight behind the sword, he brought the blade down. The instant he felt it slice only air, white-hot pain seared through his right shoulder.
D’s body limned an arc with all the speed of a striking bolt of lightning. Leaving a trail of black blood behind him, he touched back to the floor a good ten feet away. His sword had been transferred to his left hand.
“How the hell did that happen?” a low, hoarse voice remarked, speaking volumes about the situation.
Although D turned in the direction from which the attack had come, he couldn’t discern the form of his foe. An enormous shadowy figure towered in the same spot as before.
“Think you can best me with your left hand?”
The chest of the mocking silhouette shook. The needles of rough wood that flew from D’s hand pierced the shadowy figure, imbedding themselves in the wall behind him.
“That’s two of them. We’re still one short, aren’t we?” the shadow said.
D charged. As the shadowy figure moved to the right, the sword in the Hunter’s left hand mowed through his torso. Having gone halfway through the figure, the blade then jerked to a halt.
A thin needle protruded from the left side of D’s chest.
“There’s the third,” said the shadow. “This is simply fate. Now do you see where your bones will lie, Hunter?”
Before the voice had finished speaking, D was down on one knee. The very same needle D had hurled ran through his back and out through his heart.
But how had that happened? At that moment, there had been no one at all directly behind D.
Slowly the shadowy figure circled around behind the Hunter. No matter what kind of attack he might make, it didn’t seem that D could possibly respond. And yet, D braced his blade against the floor and tried to stand. The shadow couldn’t help but admire that.
“Most impressive, being run through the heart like that. You are, indeed, the great one’s—”
It was a heartbeat later that the voice became a cry of pain.
Between the pair, something black scattered like a mist.
Though pierced right through the heart, D had twisted around and slashed through the shadow’s torso with his blade.
“You—you son of a bitch! I can’t believe it!”
Though the reeling shadow retreated, D didn’t give chase. Once again, he was kneeling on the floor. No Noble—or any other creature, for that matter—should be able to live with something driven through their heart. His last attack was not only impossible, it was miraculous.
“Out of respect for the great one, I had thought to dispatch you painlessly, but now that simply can’t be allowed. I shall tear you to bits,” the shadow howled, his voice shaking the whole room.
He rushed forward.
And just then, the world was rocked by a terrific impact. A warning siren resounded. Cracks raced across the ceiling, and then falling stonework and dust enveloped D.
Left with no other choice, the shadowy figure fell back to the door. The fissure that opened beneath his feet released a powerful stream of water.
“What was that?” he bellowed, and then he let out a groan.
Black blood trailed across the floor.
A Noble’s body could immediately regenerate the damage from a simple blade wound. But there was nothing normal about the blow from the gorgeous Hunter.
“There’s been an explosion in Dr. de Carriole’s laboratory,” the raven above him replied.
“Preposterous. Why should a mere explosion be felt so far as my own bedroom—”
“It was no ordinary explosion. It had dimensional repercussions.”
“Dimensional?” the shadowy figure said, looking up.
Although Dr. de Carriole alone knew what he had wrought, surely he hadn’t foreseen this result. The instant the mass of blue mist and the golem came into contact, the laboratory had been leveled. The doctor was saved by activating the molecular force field on his belt only a second earlier.
“Sai Fung! Are you there, Sai Fung?” he shouted.
“You betcha,” came the somewhat flippant reply from a great hole that’d been opened in a wall bordering the courtyard.
It appeared the subordinate who now poked his head back in had made a hasty departure from the room a split second before it was filled by the explosion. Only instinct made something like that possible.
“What in the hairy hell—where’s the golem?”
“Right here,” de Carriole said as he knocked the dust off himself. “It seems to have been broken down to its constituent molecules. Gah, I’m choking on this dust. Has the Destroyer vanished as well? Once sucked into the dimensional rift, it won’t be coming back again.”
“You mean to tell me the golem disappeared because of the Destroyer, too?”
“Could anything else have done it?”
“No. But boss, if you were to set that thing free . . .”
“Precisely,” de Carriole said, a smile beginning to break on his pale face. “Your crude brain finally comprehends, does it? What would ensue is nothing shy of the end of the world. You see, it was for that very purpose the Destroyer was created.”
His smile was already that of the devil himself, but then it cut strangely deeper—becoming something that many would find far more intense than a mere grin. And then the great sorcerer blurted out a truly strange remark.
“Something capable of destroying the world could slay anyone. Anyone at all, you know.”
Automated fire-suppression systems were spraying dry ice and extinguishing chemicals when the guard robots raced in, with the black figure of the lord coming just a short time later.
After explaining the situation, de Carriole gestured to Miska and said, “This young lady—I should like to bring her back to my house and examine her once again.”
She alone had lain on the table without so much as a single hair displaced by the massive explosion.
“Do as you wish,” the lord said, not because he was unaware of the fearsomeness of the Destroyer, but because he was confident that no matter how devious the experiments of the great sorcerer became, de Carriole could never betray him. Vlad went on to tell how the Vampire Hunter had paid a visit to his bedroom.
Intense flames suddenly dwelt in de Carriole’s eyes. Ordering Sai Fung to keep Miska safe, he headed with his lord toward the latter’s bedroom. Even the stairs and corridors appeared battered.
Presently the pair arrived at the bedroom, where they were greeted by nothing save the remains of destruction. Not only had the gorgeous Hunter in black disappeared as if he’d dissolved into the very darkness, but Taki had vanished from the coffin as well.
“Am I to believe he escaped on his own?” the lord asked.
As the pair stood there in a daze, cold water soaked the floor beneath their feet.
D was in the forest to the north of the manor.
He hadn’t escaped under his o
Although it was the same woman he’d spoken with underwater, her image was somehow far fuzzier. And it was on account of this that soon after entering the forest, D asked, “Are you the woman in the water?”
Not answering him, the woman said in a crystal-clear tone, “Take care of yourself—”
She then turned her face slowly to the right.
D had already taken note of the cacophony of hoofbeats.
“Your colleagues are coming. I shall take my leave here.”
Before D’s very eyes, her form rapidly lost all definition, and in no time at all it was transformed into water that soaked the grass.
Seemingly giving no thought at all to that bizarre development, D stood up as if to protect Taki, who lay by his side.
The riders who halted a dozen feet ahead of D were the same men who’d paid a visit to the water-wheel shack.
“You look fit as can be,” the leader of the black masks said from horseback. “You’re only the second person ever to go into Lord Vlad’s manor uninvited and come out again alive. I must say, we’re impressed.”
“What’s your business?” D asked bluntly.
“Right after you headed off for the manor, we sent up recon birds to cover this whole area. That’s why we were able to race right out here. We’ve got orders from our boss to do whatever you wish. There was probably no need, but we brought your horse along, too. Just say the word.”
“Can you prepare a hut?” D asked.
Seeing the pale young lady who lay at the Hunter’s feet, the mounted men knew what he was driving at.
“Indeed, we can.”
“Put it up somewhere where your identities won’t be discovered if the one who fed on her should come,” said D.
Through the act of drinking blood, the victim and assailant were connected across time and space. The men probably wore masks more because of the trouble that would ensue if Vlad’s people knew who they actually were than if D did.