My awareness returned to me directly following the blackness. I turned to see who had caused me to lose control. Sir Thad stood behind me. I had thought he had fled with Willie. The RAT! He had led us on. The fools we were. As I was in the moment of these thoughts, Sir Thad suddenly shivered his whole body like a massive dog shaking himself of a damp coat. An ethereal cloak that made up his appearance fell from off his body as a fox sheds a blanket of snow. The ethereal cloak fell from his shoulders and shuttered down to his feet, revealing his TRUE form.
A Chinese dragon now stood before me! Though I was startled, I was not surprised. Sir Thad had always been a person of great suspicion. And now his mask of deceit was finally lowered. I wished to charge him at that moment, but some force prevented me from doing so. So I did the only thing I could at that moment—-I speak.
“Thad?! You deceiver!” I bark.
“Yes, Niko. It is I. But I dare say I have not deceived you. I have many forms. Thus, to see me as such, it is simply like seeing another person with a smile and then to see that same person with a frown. I hid myself from you as a form of respect and modesty. Just as one might cover their nakedness with clothing.”
I felt as though he meant no harm to me. But, the facts just could not put themselves together. Only a moment ago Sir Thad, the whimsical wimpy bard that we knew, had just told Willie and I to run. Willie had fled, yet I stayed. Sir Thad, I thought, had went with Willie. My last words to Willie were to protect Thad. And yet, here he was obviously in a form needing no protection. So where was Willie?
Thad seemed cool and relaxed. He not only had shed his human guise, but he also was no longer panicking about the ritual and the destruction that he said it would cause.
“What part do you play in all of this?!” I shouted desperate for answers as nothing at the moment seemed to be making sense. I tried to reach for Amaterasu, but my hand was constrained. Magic no doubt. Dragon-magic.
“I am ushering in my Lord’s Kingdom, young one.” His voice surrounds me in that moment. My skin trembles in awe of the power that he seemingly wields simply with the mention of his lord.
“You do constrain me! WHY?” I rebuked.
“I do this so you do not attack me.” He said as if it would ease my plight.
“So you fear me, then?”
" No, child. However, vampires have never been keen on multitasking well. I need to explain unto you the light of the Lord, and bring you unto his Glory. I could not have that muddled with the childish conflicts of combat. Do forgive me, I mean you no harm."
“It is hard to forgive one who still holds you at bay.”
“I swear. I come to you in good faith. If it were but different circumstances, I would have approached differently. My Lord requires to have his word known to you.”
“Lord? I know not your lord. Who is this great one you serve?” I really wanted to ask who he cowered before, but as I could not move, and I was standing in front of a dragon, I thought it best to kept the conversation moving in a positive direction.
“You cannot survive in his presence, as feeble as you are,” He answered. “And only one as great as I can thrive under his wing.” He boasted.
“Is he a god, then?” I asked trying to pry more from the beast. “And how is it that you think me feeble? Do you know my heart, Bard?”
“He is feared among the blind, uneducated babes with which you have spoken. His name evokes life or death, suffice it to say he is one known as a NightLord. I know thine heart, and you are fighting to stop his return. For this reason I cannot let you go, until I have converted you unto his religion.”
Typical. A megalomaniac knocks on your door wanting to share a message about his religion, but there is always one catch: There’s no option to say no! Not my sort of religion. Thad was starting to sound a bit like my father. History tells what happened to him.
“This has been your plot from the beginning.” I said. “You have shrouded your true self from me and my brothers. Led us to this path contrary to the Nightlords. And now I learn that you are in league with the Nightlords! Ironically, I’d say that you are in league with demons. But, we all are demons, aren’t we? Bard, what have you done?”
“I, Thad the Great, the Wayfaring Draconic Bard, He Who Proclaims, have brought together all groups so that our missionaries can go to all covens and we may bask in my Lord’s light.”
If Willie could hear that now, he’d probably put one of those pearl handled pistols to his head and pull the trigger. I know he would not want to be in a world where the thespian Sir Thad united all covens to ‘bask’ in his Lord’s light. I had to stop the bard at all costs, if not for the world, then at least to prevent Willie’s mind from being blown.
“I hid myself until I deemed you strong enough to be an emissary.” He continued.
“The Coven of the Dragon?! You were their master!” I conjectured. “It was YOU they served.”
“Yes, that was but one of my groups, though. It was I that brought you from obscurity. Did I not guide you to the power you have now? Were you not a toddler with his father’s gun when I plucked you from the primordial ooze? How many usurpers have you disabused of their delusions of grandeur? Your name drips from the lips of BLOODLORDS!”
I paused a moment to take this all in.
“Now you are a being of power among deaf blind mutes.” He finished.
“Emissary?” I finally asked. “You wish form me to bring your Lord back?”
“No, just pave the road.” He replied. “You can bring together the Wraith with Beast and Lost! I daresay the Reapers would also join in the cause with you.”
“How will this benefit vampire kind?” I asked concernedly.
“You would be made a lord over many lands, and would be the Lord of Bloodlords.” Bam! There it was. He messed up. His tale was sounding too familiar now. This must have been the original deal given to King Klaus all those years ago. Yet, somehow he did not fulfill the deal and now he was dead. All that remained of him was an endless pool of his blood. His words thickened. “United under one god, no more shall Vampire fall to Vampire, and during times of war human consumption grows exponentially!”
“You paint tales of temptation, bard!”
“I do not paint tales, I proclaim the truth!” I had struck a nerve.
“WE are the disease. Humanity is the future. My Penelope taught me of the virtues of compassion and love. She taught me of her belief and the power of the humans’ faith. You wage war against these?”
“No, of course not, Niko! The human race will thrive under the Night Lord’s rule! One nation, one faith! All shall be fed and have purpose!” The bard answered. He pointed at the door where the ritual was taking place. All this time I did not realize the ritual was still going on. “Look into that room! See all of the faithful followers of our Lord! These used to be profane men, murderers of brothers, defilers of daughters. Now, they are in the fold, and are servants of all!”
I looked into the window. The room was full of white light coming from the fluorescent lamps and stale white painted walls. I saw a man kneeling before a stone like table surrounded by men and women chanting. They were not struggling. They were not harming each other. Visions of war and bloodshed pass over my eyes as I recollected my past few months. At every turn we were being threatened. First, it was from the Firstborn, then it was from the Lost, then the Beast (albeit rogue ones). I had also been accosted by the Wraith while in Tibet. Human hunters had also barred us on all sides throughout our journey. The Bard was right about one thing. The world really was a mess. But this gave him no right to subject everyone under one rule, to take their right to choose and to live as they felt they must.
“Penelope spoke of such stories, Dragon. One who fell from God that wished to rule all, trying to give false glory to all that would follow him. Is this as you spin your tale?”