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Noble V: Greylancer

by Haikasoru

Greylancer’s right arm traced a wicked arc.

It was easy enough to call it a sudden flash of steel. But the tip of the lance exceeded three meters and its grip easily five meters in length.

The blade stopped not on Lanok, who’d scrambled to his feet, but at the throat of his companion, who was left twitching helplessly on the ground.

The Noble cast a smile that might rightly be called benevolent.

With his eyes trained on the boy before him, Greylancer addressed the rebel leader. “Lanok, was it? As overseer, I have governed over this land by example. My regard for you humans is no different than that of other Nobles. But I will not promise your safety and leave you to fend for yourselves in a wasteland not even beasts or monsters dare inhabit. Nor will you be laid to slaughter for my gain. And in return my demand is this—absolute loyalty. It is easily given. Do not cross me, do not talk back in anger, and do not lie. And never raise a sword against me. They are the commandments I have passed down to you at my appointment and have repeated time and again. You have been allowed to live in peace ever since. A peaceful life. Is that not what you humans desire?”

“Ruled by the Nobility, surviving on what rations you toss our way—peaceful? Even if that were true, it’s no way to live. We live and breathe! As long as we are subjugated by your rule, we might as well be dead. What good is living in death? There are enough living dead already! Cursed vampires, cold-blooded bastards! This planet was born for us warm-blooded humans!”

Lanok shouted, “You will die proudly, Hendry!”

“Hmph, did you hear him,” Greylancer said to the youth named Hendry. “A mere boy who must be defended by his mother. Will you listen to him?” The lance dug into the boy’s throat. Blood snaked down his neck. “Tell me that you want to be saved. Cry and scream that you do not want to die. Grovel before me and beg for your life. Then you will be allowed to live. Then you shall have the honor of serving me.”

When Hendry heard this, a certain look floated across his face. Lanok let out a groan. A servant of the Nobility—a human who is bitten and dies by the hand of a Noble returns to life with the same abilities of the Nobility. As one of the living dead. A vampire. When he submits to his station as a well-heeled dog of his master, he ceases to be human. Most such servants would think of themselves as better than human.

A most sweet proposition. A delectable existence indeed. Those humans who joined the lowest ranks of the bloodstained world became informants and traitors against their brethren.

At that moment, a certain look came across the faces of these humans—one of terror, panic, guilt, and an avarice that exceeded all of the former. It was the very look that had crept across Hendry’s face.

“Die, Hendry!” Lanok shouted again.

“No!” cried his friend. “I didn’t want to pick a fight with the Nobles in the first place. You dragged me into this. I don’t want to die. God knows I don’t want my head torn off and tossed in the streets for crows and monsters to pick at.” Hendry turned to Greylancer and continued, “Yes, make me your servant.”

Hendry turned over onto his knees and touched his forehead against the dirt.

“Very well.” The giant came forward. Throwing back his cape, Greylancer grabbed Hendry by the hair, pointed his face upward, and buried his face in the boy’s neck.

“Hendry!” Lanok let out a heartrending cry.

Soon anguish and an indelible look of rapture spread over Hendry’s face. Lanok imagined the blood of another world pouring into his friend’s veins.

Hendry’s body convulsed violently.

Aside from the two crimson lines trickling down his throat, a bloody flower began to spread its petals over his chest. The tip of a deadly stake tore through the wool shirt and emerged from his chest.

“Vachss?”

As the others remembered the presence of another youth, the boy named Vachss drew back the stake he’d driven into his treacherous friend’s heart from behind and swung for Greylancer’s chest. The spike had pierced through Greylancer’s green and gold embroidered shirt and clear through his chest.

“Well done. So you are a lad with some courage.” Greylancer glanced up at Vachss as he passed a free hand across Lanok’s face, which was set in an indescribable expression. “Alas, too late. Your friend has already fallen prey to my kiss, and you will have to die. A most brutal death.”

“Why…why…do you not fall?” Vachss’s mouth opened and closed like that of a fish found in a market.

“Pray,” said Greylancer. “Pray to the god you believe in. Or you will never destroy me.”

Vachss had a god he believed in. He would not be able to endure this world otherwise. Though he tried to intone a prayer, memory failed him.

“I heard that if you pray from your soul, god will be by your side. And I am unable to lay a hand on him. I want to see this god. Pray.”

The Noble’s inexplicably solemn voice seemed to summon Vachss’s memory.

Amid the stench of blood beginning to fill the stable.

“Lord…I will fear no evil…for thou art with me…” The others listened to the horribly arid voice that came haltingly at first and then turned into a desperate echo. “…the Lord is my shepherd…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

Perhaps someone among them was aware that Vachss’s God had been born in a manger. Were that the case, perhaps bearing witness to another birth in this stable did not seem strange.

Soon the prayer ended.

A pious calm pervaded the barn, like moonlight on the Holy Night.

“Do you see Him?” Vachss asked—to whom, it was not clear. Perhaps to Greylancer, or to Chief Lanzi.

“Y-yes…” The chief nodded. “He—”

“—is not here.”

The instant Vachss recognized the voice belonging to Greylancer, his head twisted 360 degrees. The sound of his neck bones being crushed reverberated across the barn.

“What’s the matter, chief? Lanok?” After dropping the dead body atop the corpse of the other boy, Greylancer shot a look at Lanok standing dumbstruck. “So your God does not come, even when you give prayer. I must say I am disappointed.”

The Noble’s long lance howled once more, cutting a path for Chief Lanzi’s neck.

His head sailed through the air in a gush of blood as the lance took aim at a new target.

Greylancer let slip a gasp.

Before the sidelong sweep of the lance could slice Lanok’s chest in two, Michia had jumped out in front of her son. The blade was wedged halfway into her torso.

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