Got a little weirdness coming in from War of Nytefall: Eradication. Nothing much I can say about this since it might be a wee bit out of context. Still hope it’s fun and mysterious to read.
The thick darkness that greets Clyde’s eyes is suffocating and disturbingly familiar. A disconcerting numbness flows along his skin and plunges all of his senses into a mental fog. He groans as he sits up and touches the warm ground beneath him, his fingers finding it rough and jagged. The memory of being in Gregorio’s lair strikes his mind like a perfectly aimed arrow and he tries to stand up. A dull ache courses through his legs and forces him to remain on the floor, which trembles for a brief moment. Picking up a stone, he can feel the faint carving of half a sun with a grinning face. With a yawn, the vampire throws the rock away and waits for it to land, but the sound of it bouncing takes several minutes to reach his ears. Clyde scowls when the noise ends with a strange thud that reminds him of a fist punching flesh. The distant gurgling of a stream draws his attention to the right and he squints at a strange form that is gradually taking shape in the gloom. Finding the energy to rise, he gets to his feet and wipes the dirt from his body, which he learns is unclothed. The Dawn Fang’s senses steadily return to their full strength and he realizes that his vision has been blocked by his own hair. Luscious and tangled tresses cascade from his head to cover everything from his scalp to his elbows. Wrapping all of the strands around his left hand, he uses his right to slice them off and is about to use his fingers like scissors when his body locks.
The ruins of the Duragian temple are laid out before Clyde, their details making it clear that they are the genuine articles. Bodies of civilians and priests are strewn about the area, all of them having been drained of blood. A white-bricked wall has been marked with scratches that the vampire knows are a foolish attempt to keep track of time, which he abandoned after he had run out of prey. Far in the distance, he can see the tower where he was once held prisoner, its top seven floors having snapped off as it sunk. Light pulses from the enormous structure to drive the cavern’s darkness into the corners. Smaller shrines help to illuminate the streets, which are littered with debris. The smell of rotting meat is thick in the air, the stench emanating from the abandoned food and corpses. Not far away, the vampire sees a cleared area with a burn mark in its center. It takes him a moment to recognize the battered ruins of the execution square, its right side having slumped into a sinkhole.
A pang of doubt and anxiety races through Clyde’s mind as he recalls getting struck by the fake Fists of Durag. He begins to walk through the ruins in search of signs that he is being tricked, but it becomes clear that he is not trapped within an illusion. All attempts to see through the spell are met with failure, which feeds a primal rage in the pit of his soul. Coming to a broken fountain, he kneels and scoops up a handful of stagnant water to drink. The foul liquid makes his tongue burn and his stomach twists to the point where he has to vomit in order to avoid passing out. Focused on his own body, Clyde releases his severed hair when he realizes that his heart is no longer beating. Jamming a finger between his ribs, he touches the organ to find it wrinkled and still. With a growl, he swings his fist at the nearest building only to find that he cannot knock the whole structure over. The vampire stares at the hole in the wall and flexes his fingers, which make the gestures for a claw-growing spell. He curses loudly when he feels his nails lengthen and harden into natural blades.
“What in all of Windemere is going on?” Clyde asks before lashing out at a bench. He easily shreds the furniture, but the destruction only fuels his frustration. “Is this supposed to be a trick? Hit me with those orbs and make me think I’m back in the ground? Leo would have been able to use a spell to scan the ruins while he got the Fist of Durag. That could have been used to create a detailed illusion. Of course, he wouldn’t know the exact placements of the bodies or get the smells right. No, this has to be a trick.”
“You were going insane near the end,” a voice echoes in the vampire’s head. The hazy figure briefly appears in a nearby window, but vanishes as soon as it comes into focus. “You remember what happened. Wishing you could see your friends again. Wondering what was going on above your head. You were angry that nobody came to rescue you, especially Mab. They forgot about you. That’s why you did what you did.”
“You can’t break me that easily,” he angrily growls.
The unseen phantom laughs in Clyde’s own voice, but cycles through those of his friends and enemies. “No sense in shattering something that is already broken. Do you truly believe you would return stronger and become the leader of a superior species? You were barely able to run a gang. We both know Titus did the real work while you played around with his sister. Here is where you argue about how real that fake world felt, but I’m going to stop you. You’re a master illusionist. All of what you have lived for the last twenty years has been your own delusion. Why do you think all of your friends had powers that fit them so perfectly? The ones you didn’t really know were left alone, which is why those were all on the side of your enemies. Of course, your trick has reached its full potential with your relationship with Mab and having a kid that doesn’t truly exist. As if you’re the first vampire to dream about having a child or thriving in the sun or eating food once more.”
“What about Lost and Archillious?”
“You added new faces to your dreams. Do you want applause?”
“Jewelz kidnapping me-”
“Your ego wanted you to be fought over by two women.”
“Why would I have Xavier and Nadia as my enemies?”