Tumaini sat in his room beneath the temple, going over in his mind how things were going. They were not going well. The Roman Empire had crossed the borders, and were heading towards their city. Panic was gripping the city even though they knew it would be a long while before they got here.
Roman's were well known to stop at every little town and village for some recreation. Tumaini knew that panic is not what the city needed right now. They were the largest city in the area, the best defended. If the Romans wanted this city, they would have to fight long and hard for it. They still had several years before any of that would be a worry.
The problem came from the Roman Night Walkers. They were what was really behind this invasion of his home land. They were insisting that the Night Walkers in Tumaini's homeland bow to their wishes, and help support the council that they were setting up to rule all the Night Walkers. Tumaini could see the wisdom in such an action, but certainly not with these people. They were much more interested in their own power and what they could gain than they were interested in helping out all of the Night Walkers.
The other major point of contention was how the Night Walkers treated the normal people. In Egypt, Tumaini's homeland, many people knew about the Night Walkers. Not everyone, but they were not such a secret as they were in other parts of the known world. That was something that always puzzled him. Why would they hide. The abilities that they had could be used to make the entire people better, they shouldn't be hidden away like some shameful secret. When Tumaini was first turned, he spent much time with his family. They knew who and what he was. That was not the case now though. Now it was too dangerous for them. Especially since the war with the other Night Walkers was already going on.
He stood up from his small table, and walked over to look at the only real decoration that was in his spartan room. It was a single sword, hanging on the wall. The Khopesh blade was the only thing that he had kept from his previous life. A Gift from the Pharaoh as the man lay on his death bed. The small Priest of Anubis ran his hand over the blade that was more then two hundred years old. A lot of memories went with this blade, most of them would bring a smile to his lips. However, some of them twisted his guts when he thought of them.
Before he could even delve into the memories, a hurried knock came at the door which opened before he could even turn around. The man that almost ran through the door was one of the lesser priests that Tumaini had appointed. His role as the Hem netjer or high priest of this temple, gave him the responsibility of appointing other priests. "Hem netjer! A child has been hurt! They are in need of you!" Tumaini never hesitated, as was common in this time, the priests were also the healers, and as the high priest, he was also the chief healer.
Tumaini got a slight sinking feeling in his stomach as he hurried to keep up with the human priest. It did not take them long to make their way outside, where Tumaini saw a large group of people at the bottom of the steps to the temple. Many of them were holding torches so that they could light up the area, and Tumaini's enhanced hearing picked up many angry mutters, as well as the whimpering of a small boy.
Rushing down the steps, Tumaini saw the crowd part before he got there. As he saw the small boy laying on the ground in a woman's arms, he pushed past the priest leading him, and jumped down the last ten or so stairs, and hit the ground running.
When he got to the boy, who was no older than eight, he had a hard time pushing down his rage. The boy had been assaulted, and there was nothing he could do. He saw blood around the boy's eyes, and mouth. He pried open one of the boy's eye lids, and confirmed what he thought. All around him, he heard both anger and shock, as well as complete dismay. The young boys eyeshad been gouged out.
If that were not enough, Tumaini opened the boys mouth only to see his small tongue had also been removed. The boys mother was openly weeping as she held the small boy to her bosom, and Tumaini stood up. There was nothing he could do to ease the boys passing, which was coming quickly.
He wanted to cry out in rage at what was done to this boy, yet he knew he couldn't. That would come later. He held his hands out over the boys head and started to chant prayers. Pleading with the gods to allow this small boy to pass on to 'The Two Fields.' He was pleading with Ra and Osiris to take the boy to paradise. As the boy was taking his final breaths, Tumaini, with tears in his own eyes, gently asked the boys mother, "has his name been written?"
While still weeping bitter tears, she simply nodded her head in the affirmative. He breathed a small sigh of relief as he was now sure that two of the three requirements had been met. The last one, a preserved body, was going to be difficult. He continued his prayers and pleadings to the Gods. That was all he could do at this point. Deep down he knew that the boy would not be able to make it to the Fields. He would have no eyes in the afterlife to find his way, and no tongue to ask for directions. There truly was no way to assault someone that was worse than this. As the boy took his final breath and lay still, Tumaini's voice rose as he called out to the Gods to take this boys Ka to Paradise.
Several minutes passed as Tumaini pleaded with the Gods, his voice was joined by many other priests from his temple. When he had done all he could do, he bent down, and gently took the boy from his mothers arms. With out saying another word, Tumaini turned and started back up the steps. The wailing mother was still on the ground as many others tried to help her. The rest of the priests followed behind Tumaini, their work about to begin. Even though they all knew the boy was damned to wander this world sightless and voiceless; they still would do all they could to prepare the boys body, so that maybe, if the Gods took mercy on him, the boy may still be brought to the Fields.
The small group of priests silently made their way down into the bowels of the temple, only stopping once to prepare themselves before going into the inner sanctum. Before they entered, the priest that had summoned Tumaini came up beside the young priest and whispered into his ear. "High Priest, I do not wish to question you, but we do not know who this boy is."
Tumaini looked up at the man with tears still falling from his eyes. "I do know this boy. He name is Tumaini, son of Amun, grandson of Bes, the eldest of my brothers while I was of the living."
The older man stepped back a few steps as Tumiani's eyes flashed red and his fangs exploded from his upper gums. "He is family. Woe be to those who defiled him like this!"
Tumaini woke the next evening, in a very foul mood. It had been close to dawn when he had completed the rituals of burial for his name sake. Yes, he knew that the boys mother had named him Tumaini after the Tumaini that was a part of their families legend. He knew with the war coming that his family could be a target of the Romans since he was high up in the religious order, so he chose not to put them in danger. It was a VERY tough decision for him, but deep down, he knew it was for the best.
When he exited the ceremonial chamber, one of the priests from another temple, the temple of Ra, the Sun God, was waiting for him. There had been a total of fifteen other children, all under the age of ten summers, that had been attacked in the exact same manner.
The town was in the grip of terror and the priests were doing everything they could to calm them. Tumaini had already decided that the following evening all the Night Walkers would be out and about trying to make sure that no more children got hurt. The problem was, most of the Egyptian Night Walkers were not trained as warriors. Most of them had joined the priest hood, and while they may have ritualistic weapons, for the most part, they did not know how to use them. Tumaini was an exception to that rule.
He had just gotten himself out of the bed, and had started to wash his face when a knock came at the door. Not being one who was at all self conscience about his body he simply called out to enter and went about his evening wash.
When he saw who it was he knew he didn't have to worry about his lack of clothing. The boy who came into the room was Thoth, one of the priests of Thoth. Tumaini often joked about the fact that the other boy was meant to be a priest since birth... being named after the god he works for made things very convenient. The reason he wasn't worried about this boy seeing him in the nude was because they both often found themselves in each others beds. Thoth was physically a year older then Tumaini, yet he had spent less than half the time in darkness that Tumaini had.
By the look in Thoth's eyes, Tumaini knew the news was not good. "This morning, another thirty children were found slain in their beds... exactly the same way as the others. That now brings the number to forty-five."
Tumaini sighed deeply in dismay, moved back over to his bed, and sat down heavily fighting back the tears. "This must end, and it must end tonight!"
Thoth only nodded before sighing himself. "Your orders are being delivered as we speak. All those Night Walkers that you asked for will be gathering in front of the temple shortly, and ready for you to tell them what must be done."
Tumaini didn't speak, he only nodded as he went about getting dressed. As he pulled his robs on and turned around, Thoth was right there pulling the smaller boy into an embrace. "I can only guess at how hard this is for you. Always know I will have your back, and I will support you in everything."
"Thank you." Tumaini responded with solemn tears. He broke the embrace, then turned and walked out the door, with Thoth right behind him.
An hour later found Tumaini walking the deserted streets. Normally it was still early enough for there to be people around, but this evening it was completely deserted. He had his fingers wrapped around the hilt of the Khopesh blade that was given to him many years ago. Tumaini was one of the few that had any real training in how to use a blade, which is why he was alone while the rest were paired up.
It was tense out in the eerily quiet night. He knew that somewhere there were people who were there to do harm to the most innocent of them, and he and those like him were the only hope those small children had. He rounded a corner and heard what he had been hoping he wouldn't. A child's whimper.
He moved quickly down the dirt alley way towards the sounds that were getting louder and louder. At least louder to a Night Walker's hearing. He rounded the last corner and stopped when he saw what was happening. Three large figures were coming out of a house with a small bundle trying to struggle free.
The red eyes told Tumaini all he needed to know. The three figures hadn't seen him yet, and Tumaini knew he had only one chance at surprise. As quietly as he could he moved up towards the small group while drawing a small thin blade from behind his robe.
It seemed like an eternity for him to slowly, quietly make his way up to the group. They were discussing the best place to leave the kids body, and Tumaini had to force down the anger that threatened to consume him as he heard what they were saying.
Tumaini was more nervous than he had been in a very long time. While he was trained in how to fight, never had he had to use that training out side of the sparing ring. This was the real thing, and it was life and death. He took a deep steadying breath, then as fast as he could move, he struck.
His aim was true, and the gurgling scream was somewhat satisfying knowing what they had planned to do to the boy. However, the other two reacted much quicker then Tumaini thought they would. He was counting on them being surprised at seeing the blade erupt out of the chest of their companion, but these were trained warriors. They did not let surprise paralyze them.
Faster than any human could hope to follow, both of the other vampires had blades drawn, and were attacking. Tumaini barely had time to draw his Khopesh, before he was trying to fend off attacks.
Unfortunately for Tumaini, it quickly became obvious that while he had good training, these guys had that plus experience on their side. It was less then five seconds into the fight when he first heard his own cry of pain as one of the blades tore into his side.
It was no more then thirty seconds after he struck the first one, that Tumaini knew he was about to die his final death. There was only one thought in his head at that moment, the child. No matter what happened to him, he must protect the child.
Gritting his teeth against the pain, Tumaini switched tactics. Instead of trying to defend against both of the attackers, he picked the one he judged to be the most dangerous and focused his entire attack on him. No more defending, no more trying to get out of this alive. He knew he was dead, it was just a question of could he take someone with him.
With a scream of primal rage, Tumaini lunged forward, feeling the blade as it entered his chest, but at the same time, his blade was coming across, taking the head of the Night Walker he was fighting.
He fell to the ground unable to move from the pain in his chest. The only good thing he could think at that moment was the blade had missed his heart, barely. He watched in quiet peace as the last of the vampires came and stood over him. He said a quick prayer to the Gods letting them know he was coming as the Night Walker placed his blade right over Tumaini's heart, getting ready to pierce it.
He kept his eyes open, he would not face his death with closed eyes and fear in his heart. He knew he had done the Gods biding while he was on this side of the world, and he was secure in his knowledge that he would reach the fields. "Do it!" He forced out with as much determination as he could muster and was satisfied to see a bit of hesitation in the man's eyes.
Tumaini watched as the blade was raised and the man set himself to plunge the blade through his heart, when something happened that caught Tumaini completely off guard. The man had no clue what was happening when Tumaini saw a flash out of the corner of his eye, and the suddenly there was a long blade sticking out of the man's forehead.
He toppled over backwards as Tumaini coughed up a bit of blood, all the while trying to figure out what had happened. Suddenly he saw a face in front of his, the face of a blond boy maybe a year or two older than he was. "You are injured, but it is not yet your time."
The boy reached down and yanked the blade out of Tumaini's chest causing the boy to scream out in pain greater than he had ever known before. Before he could pass out the blond boy brought a body to him, it was the body of one of the Night Walkers that had been attacking the small boy.
With out even thinking, Tumaini latched onto the man's neck and began to drink greedily. There wasn't much left in the man, but it was enough to allow Tumaini to heal the worst of his wounds.
As soon as he was done, the boy helped him to his feet. "Come, there are fights raging all over the city. Your friends are doing their best, but they are out classed. We must hurry if we are to save any."
As Tumaini looked around, he saw another boy, the same age as the one who had saved him, standing there holding what could only be described as a very interesting looking weapon to Tumaini. It was a spiked ball hanging on the end of a long chain. The chain itself was attached at the other end to what looked like a short handled scythe blade.
As they approached the boy, he nodded to Tumaini and turned to go deeper into the city. "We've gotta hurry. Master is making his way to the main temple. He said to meet him there."
"The Temple?!" Tumaini spoke up in almost horror. Could they actually try to harm the temple?! Just the thought of that, of anyone intentionally doing harm to one of the temples was not something that Tumaini could understand.
The blond boy who saved him simply nodded as he spoke. "The people we
are fighting would not be above desecrating your temples. What's the quickest way there?"
Horror couldn't even begin to describe what Tumaini felt at the moment. Instead of answering, he pushed down all the pain and fear he felt, and took off running as fast as he could. He was only a few steps away when he realized that while these two boys may have been able to fight off a Vampire, they were not as quick on their feet as he was. It took all his willpower to slow himself down, so that they could keep up with him.
Before they got half way to the main temple Tumaini rounded a corner, only to see a group of five Night Walkers standing there grinning at him. Tumaini skidded to a halt as the five started to approach him, weapons drawn.
They faltered for a moment as the other two came up behind Tumaini. The dark haired one with the chained scythe type weapon started to twirl the weighted ball around, while the blond drew two swords.
"You humans DARE to stand before us?" One of the Night Walkers spat out in the Roman tongue.
"My name is Alister Storm!" The blond boy said as he moved forward. "My honor demands that you know the name of the person who is about to send you to the final death!"
The boy, Alister, as Tumaini now knew him, strode forward right into the middle of the group of Night Walkers. A couple of them took a few steps back so that he could enter into the middle of their semi circle. They all looked at him oddly, trying to figure out how this human could actually not be afraid of them. Then things got very strange.
Alister held his arms out from his sides and let go of his swords, which hung in mid air, as he reached behind his right shoulder and drew a larger two handed sword. All five of the Night Walkers stopped and stared at the two swords that were hanging in the air, which must have been exactly what Alister had counted on.
As soon as the larger sword was drawn, he struck. The sword in his hands shot out and took the head off of the Night Walker in front of him. But what caused even more shock was when the two swords that were just hanging in the air moved with lightning quickness impaling two other Night Walkers right through their hearts. The force of the blow was so strong that it lifted them off their feet and stuck them into the walls behind them, suspending them a few feet off the ground.
The remaining two didn't have to think for very long. Both of them turned to try and flee. However, the dark haired boy with the chain was ready for that. Before the Night Walker was fully turned, and had taken a step, the chained ball that he boy had been spinning, shot out with asp like speed and deadly accuracy. The Night Walker had its back to the boy and didn't see the blow coming.
At first Tumaini thought that the boy had overshot his target since the ball sailed right past the man's head. That was until the boy gave it a violent jerk, causing the chain to start to wrap around the Night Walker's head. The problem was the ball on the end of the chain. It impacted the Night Walker right in the middle of his face. The sound of the spiked ball impacting flesh, teeth and bone was sickening in Tumaini's mind, but what was even worse was when the boy yanked the chain back. The ball had been impaled in the Night Walkers face, but when the boy yanked the chain backwards, the spiked ball ripped free from the flesh it had embedded in, causing the already ruined face to get ripped apart even more.
In the blink of an eye, the Night Walker had all of his teeth knocked out, including his fangs that had dropped right before the fight. In addition, almost every bone in his face had been crushed. Tumaini would have lost his meal had he been human still, because as the ball came flying back towards the boy Tumaini was able to see one of the Night Walker's eyes impaled on one of the spikes.
The Night Walker had crumpled to the ground wailing in agony, and Tumaini actually felt sorry for him. He watched as the boy calmly walked up to guy on the ground, and quick as a snake, struck with the Scythe blade part of his strange weapon, taking his head from his body. The boy looked at Tumaini with calm eyes, regarding him for a moment before speaking. "There is no honor in allowing an enemy to suffer needlessly."
Before Tumaini could ask any questions, Alister came walking over, resheathing his swords. "I know you have many questions and they will be answered, but I ask that you trust us for now. We must get to your temple."
It was hard for Tumaini, as he had so many questions in his mind, but he knew the boy was right. They must protect the temple. With out saying a word, he continued down the road they had been on.
They stopped two more times to deal with a group of Roman Night Walkers, and both times they were handled just as quickly and efficiently as the first group was.
As they rounded the final corner, and the main temple came into sight, Tumaini gasped in horror and shock. At the bottom of the great stairs that led to the Temple was a group of over fifty Night Walkers. As they started up the stairs, a single lone figure stepped out of the shadows at the top of the stairs.
Tumaini was about to rush forward to try and stop the group, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. When he turned to look he saw Alister with a grin on his face. Before Tumaini could even say anything the blond boy spoke. "Those Vampires... I mean Night Walkers, are about to have a VERY bad day."
Tumaini looked at the boy like he had lost his mind. "There are many Night Walkers, against one lone human! What can a normal human do against such a foe?"
Alister began to laugh quietly. "He may be a human, but there is NOTHING normal about my Master. I mean yeah, one of them could get in a lucky shot..."
The other boy burst out laughing. "Yeah... but I got a better chance of sprouting tits and becoming a girl!"
"Oh Gods... why would you say such a horrible thing Jesse?!" Alister gasped in shock while making wrenching sounds
Tumaini wasn't really paying attention, his eyes were focused on the Temple. The most important place in his city, and the one lone human that was going to protect it from so many Night Walkers.
As the group approached the lone human, Tumaini could hear the taunts that were sent by the Night Walkers. All except for one who stayed to the very back. Tumaini could tell that all of the Night Walkers, save for the one, were old. The one who stayed back was a true ancient. With all the calmness of someone who had not a care in the world, their 'master' drew two swords and took three steps down towards the Night Walkers.
What happened next was something that Tumaini would question for many years. The 'old man' suddenly pushed off with his next step and launched himself with a speed that could barely be followed. As he passed the first of the vampires it appeared as if nothing happened till his foot planted in the vampires chest. As it fell to the ground headless the two swords quickly decapitated the next two. Without touching the ground the 'old man' spun and the next two vampires went down headless. If not for Tumaini's enhanced sight, the carnage that took only a few seconds would have been missed.
As the old man landed on the ground Tumaini thought that he saw some flicker from the 'old man.' He watched astonished as five more of the vampires began stumbling around blind letting out unearthly howls of rage and fear. It took him a moment, but Tumaini soon realized that the vampires all had multiple spikes sticking out of their now useless eyes.
With a measured calm the 'old man' stepped toward the remaining vampires and just as quickly ten more fell to the flying swords. Tumaini was not sure he believed his eyes. The 'old man' did not seem to have even worked up a sweat. Then in a voice that chilled him to his core the 'old man' said one word and the rest of the vampires fled.
As the rest of the Night Walkers turned and started running back down the steps Alister started to walk towards the Temple with the same measured calm as his master. "Ahh good... we're gonna get a few a them. Jesse please kill the blind ones first." Jesse grinned as he hefted the chain of his strange weapon, and started to follow. Tumaini had no choice but to follow.
By the time they made it to the bottom of the steps, the 'old man' was only several paces from the ancient Vampire who had not moved. Tumaini's enhanced hearing could pick up the words of the 'old man.'
"Lucius, I told you the last time we met if I ever caught you misbehaving again I would end your unlife."
The Ancient Night Walker drew a sword that was similar to what the 'old man' held.
"I know there is almost no chance for me to best you Master, however you know I just have to find out!"
"Of course you must Lucius. I would be very disappointed with you if you did not."
Tumaini's attention was pulled away as the vampires on the steps began to die in droves at the hands of Alister and Jesse. When his attention turned back to the 'old man' moments later he was greeted with the Ancient Night Walker laying dead at the 'old man's' feet as his head rolled away from the temple.
Three nights later, Tumaini brought a small group of eight other Young turned Night Walkers to an old abandoned temple far outside the city. All of them were nervous. The people of the city were speaking about that night as if the gods themselves came down to save them. More people than Tumaini could have imagined had seen him fighting along side the strangers, so much attention was cast his way.
He was told by the Master that he could gather a group of those he trusted, and if they really wanted him to, he would teach them how to defend Egypt. He spent many hours praying for guidance. While he was in deep meditation, the images of the eight that were with him came. A voice that he was coming to learn, that of his God Anubis, told him that 'three times three are all that is needed to protect his homeland.'
When he approached the ones he saw, they were all eager to join, but he also found out one other fact. All of them had lost a family member, a very young family member to the Romans. To all of them, this was more than just trying to protect their homeland. For this group, it was beyond personal.
By the time they emerged from the abandoned temple, things were bad for Egypt. The Romans had managed to secure their hold on almost half of the country.
When they made their way back to the city they came from, they found it in the beginning stages of a siege. Tumaini and his group had to fight their way into the city. When they got inside, they were horrified by what they saw. All over the place they saw signs of people who were giving up, pleading with the leaders of the city to give up so they could live. Tumaini heard some of the people talking about how the temple had shut their doors and were hording food and water.
As they made their way to the main temple, more and more were they disturbed by what they were seeing. On one corner, there was a man there actually preaching the doctrine of the Roman gods. Tumaini fought hard to maintain his calm as he marched his group towards the temple.
One thing he did see though, was that his little group was causing quite the stir. Not many people were seen carrying weapons, unless you were one of the guards. At this time, Egypt did not have a regular standing army, so to see a small group of people walking through the city fairly covered in weapons was not something they were used to. Add to the fact that they all looked young made it even more interesting. By the time that they reached the temple, they had a rather large group of people following them.
With Tumaini in the lead, they started up the stairs, they were all slightly surprised to see actual armed guards standing about half way up the stairs, and another set at the top in front of the doors.
As they approached the first set of guards, they crossed their pikes barring Tumaini from going any further. Tumaini stopped and looked at both guards for a moment before he spoke. "And why am I being bared from a temple that is open to all?"
"The Hem netjer has ordered the Temple closed." The guard stated in a rather annoyed tone.
"I see." Inside Tumaini was seething. At a time when the temple was supposed to be a rock for the people in the city, the priests were turning their backs on the people.
Tumaini turned, looked at the people that were gather at the bottom of the steps and was surprised at just how many were there. He knew this was going to be a defining moment, and needed to keep his mind clear and focused. Anger would only get in the way.
He turned back to the guard and quietly spoke, using a small bit of his only abilities mixed with that of the Night Walkers, and a lot of what the Master had taught him. "Will you please go and tell the Hem netjer that High Priest Tumaini is here to see him. Please make sure he knows that not accepting is NOT an option."
Tumaini heard gasps coming from the crowd as they heard what he had said, but also when they saw the guard bow slightly, turn and run up the stairs.
Thoth one of the new group that Tumaini had brought together and asked their Master to train, placed his hand on Tumaini's shoulder. "Center my friend. No matter what happens, these are still our countrymen. They are scared and unsure of what to do. We will lead them, but they must first want it. That is what you must do now, make them want it."
Tumaini was always receptive to his friend's council, and found himself calming down some. He knew the course of action that had to be taken, but was unsure if he could force that course. Much would depend on the people behind him, and the people that now ran 'his' temple.
It only took about five minutes before a rather old man came hurrying down the stairs. As soon as he appeared, the jeers started from the crowd below. Tumaini turned, raised his hand, and spoke in a voice amplified by his Night Walker abilities. "SILENCE! You will not dishonor the priesthood because of the actions of one man." He turned around to face the priest as he spoke still loudly enough for all the people to hear. "I will deal with this coward and bring honor back to this temple."
The old man looked terrified, and Tumaini could tell by his thoughts that the man knew who, and more importantly what, he was. As Tumaini searched the mans mind, he found something that should not have been there. He delved into the mans mind deeper, and silently, thankful to Takamura for the extra mental training that he had given to all of them, tried to unbind the mans mind.
Tumaini began to sweat and the effort became apparent to all around him. "This man... has been... compelled. Trying to break it." He panted out as the man sank to his knees before shrieking in pain and grabbing his head.
As Tumaini was breaking the bonds that held this man to the whim of a Roman Night Walker, he saw everything that the man had been forced to do, and it almost made him violently wretch.
Through the link that Takamura had taught them to form, Tumaini started to give orders to his group. Even as he was healing this man's mind a plan began to form in his own mind. It was a bold plan, but then again, battles are not won by those who play it safe.
As the man slumped onto his side, Tumaini's shoulders dropped in exhaustion. The person who had compelled the old priest was VERY good at what he did. However, as Tumaini started to go through what he found in the man's mind, he couldn't stop his eyes from blazing red, and his fangs to drop. He turned around, and many of the people who had been hanging around to see what was going to happen to the old priest took an involuntary step back as they gasped.
"The Roman's have violated this man and this temple. He will not be held accountable for his actions." Tumaini knew he had to take command of this town, and the people in it. There are two ways to take control, through fear... or through confidence. The best way Tumaini could take power, and inspire the people to fight like he needed them to, would be to bolster their faith in him, and most importantly the Gods.
Tumaini raised his arms high in the air, at the same time the wind started to pick up around him. His voice rose in level and took on an almost demonic feel. "By the time the sun rises, the Romans will bleed our sands red! It is time to banish them from our lands! By the command of Anubis, the gates of this city shall open, and WE shall pour forth like water from a damn, and we will wash away the taint that is Rome!"
The wind was whipping around the robes that Tumaini wore, threatening to tear them from his body, but still he continued. "Rise up and stand with us. Follow the Night Hawks of Anubis to victory, but more importantly, follow us to achieve the vengeance that is called for."
The wind died down, and Tumaini started to walk down the steps of the temple. The crowd cheered and parted as he took the lead towards the front gates, Thoth at his side as always.
As they made their way to the gates, Thoth spoke softly to him. The twenty night walkers that were being held have been released, but all of them needed to feed immediately. It was only the powers of the mind that kept them from giving into the need.
"That is as I thought. Tell Amun to take them to the secret gates and watch for my signal. When the attack starts, tell him to hit them from the flank, and give the starved Night Walkers their own way. It boils my blood that they are in the state they are in, but it would be foolish to not use it to our advantage. It is time to spread some fear into the hearts of those who dare to attack our home land." He glanced to his friend with a fang filled grin as his red eyes danced with danger. "Anubis has declared that ten of ten will be sacrificed in his name. It is my job to ensure his will be done."
The entire time they were walking towards the gates, he saw people joining the crowd, holding what ever they could find as weapons. He knew many of them would not survive the night, but he also knew his people. They would fight to the death for their gods, and tonight many of them would.
As they neared the gates, Tumaini called out in a voice that was sure to be heard by the Romans who were camped outside, "By the orders of Anubis himself, I command that these gates be open. The enemies of Egypt are about to come face to face with the Night Hawks of Anubis!"
As the gates opened, Tumaini saw the Romans scrambling to get their forces mustered. His fang filled grin turned from one of amusement to one of maliciousness. These were the people that had invaded his country and were killing his family. Tonight they would learn what it meant to fear.
"Tell the others, there is no holding back. This army will be utterly destroyed!" He said to Thoth, as he drew his sword, and started to run.
The humans fell behind as he and Thoth ran faster than any human would be able to. Before the Roman humans knew what had hit them, the two Night Walkers were cutting a swath through their forming lines. Thoth may have been the quieter of the two, and preferred to take a more submissive role, not only in their war efforts, but also in their relationship, but when it came to actual combat, Thoth was every bit as deadly as Tumaini was. And in some cases even more so.
Tumaini's gifts ran more in the mental line of abilities, where as Thoth's were more physical. He was physically stronger and faster then Tumaini, and in combat had far more in the brute force side of things. Tumaini was much more fluid and unassuming in combat. Master Takamura had referred to Thoth as an angry bull, and Tumaini as a large predatory cat. However, when the two of them worked in concert it was a sight to behold. The Romans had no idea what hit them before it was too late. By the time the Egyptian citizenry hit them, they were still trying to pick themselves up from when the two insane Night Walkers tore through them. There wasn't all that much real fighting left that they had to do.
The Roman's had one thing that could even the odds... numbers. However, Tumaini had counted that into his plans, and just as the Romans were mustering to mount a counter offensive, Tumaini sent up his signal to the rest of the Night Hawks. They were very near to a large bonfire that the Romans had been using to cook some food.
Tumaini used his ability to create a windstorm and centered it at the center of the fire, which made the fire itself grow very large, and sent sparks and embers high into the air, before billowing them out over the Roman soldiers. Moments later, Tumaini heard screams coming from the back of the Roman lines, and knew the rest of his people were joining the fight.
Tumaini did have to give the Romans their due. A few of them were true warriors, and they knew how to fight. More than once, he or Thoth got some serious injuries from having to fight so many Roman's at once, but they had an advantage. When there was a break in the fighting, they could take a moment to feed, and their injuries were quickly healed.
Soon Tumaini and Thoth found themselves at the center of the camp, and facing down a ring of soldiers that had formed themselves up around the largest tent in the encampment. Behind the soldiers were the Roman Priests, chanting prayers to their gods, and proclaiming that no one could harm them as their Gods would smite any who dared.
He pulled out a single throwing knife, with a speed greater than any human could match, he threw it with an accuracy that was born of countless hours of training. The knife embedded in the forehead of the high Roman priest, causing the man to fall backwards into the tent. "Since you do not respect our priest, I will make it my goal to kill every single Roman priest I find!" Tumaini cried as he charged the guards.
Tumaini was good to his word. Not a single Roman was spared. Those that tried to surrender were either cut down, or taken as food for the Night Walkers, once they had extracted all the information they wanted out of them. The priests especially became food for the Night Walkers.
As it was nearing towards dawn, and the fighting was all but over, Tumaini found the priest that had been compelled and gave him orders to follow. "We must soon find our rest for the day. We shall be in the temple. Tell those that fought, that they may take what they want from the Romans. The food and water will be taken and split amongst the people in the city, women and children getting the first take.
"I want the bodies of the soldiers burned, however, I want all armor and weapons taken to the temple. Those that wish to follow us and fight the Romans will be given weapons, armor, and training in how to use what they are given. I want the heads of all the Roman priests placed in baskets and kept for me when I wake tomorrow. Also, I want the heads of all the soldiers to adorn pikes that are to be driven into the ground on the top of that hill over there. It will serve as a warning to any Romans that may try to come here again."
"As you wish High Priest." The old man said and went off to see that Tumaini's orders were followed. With one last look over the battle field, Tumaini turned and joined the other Hawks to find their day sleep.
As night fell the next evening, Tumaini woke in Thoth's arms. The other Night Walker had always been an early riser, and this evening was no different. However, Thoth didn't move until he knew Tumaini was awake.
"Good evening my love." Thoth whispered into Tumaini's ear, causing the smaller boy to shiver in delight. Even with all the killing and fighting they had to do yesterday, both of them still felt the need to share their love with each other before falling asleep last night, and indeed again this morning.
When they finally made their way out of their chambers, they found the rest of the Hawks waiting for them, as well as several of the temple priests. Immediately, the Hawks, as well as the priests, dropped to a knee in front of Tumaini. He raised his hands over the assembled people and spoke a soft prayer, not only to Anubis, but to all of the Gods.
When he was finished, and lowered his hands, all those assembled rose to their feet. Tumaini looked towards the old priest, who took a deep breath before speaking. "Your orders have been fulfilled. In the inner sanctum lies all the weapons and armor that we were able to salvage from the Roman soldiers. The supplies have been gathered and given to those that need it the most. Out side the Temple are many men, between thirteen years of age to twenty five years, who have volunteered to learn how to fight and to help stop the Roman invasion."
"Very good, I will meet with them shortly. First though, I must have a meeting with the Night Hawks, as we implement the plans to help rid our country of these animals." Tumaini spoke while getting nods from the other eight Night Hawks.
"As you wish." The older man said, then he turned and the rest of the priests filed out of the room.
Once they were alone Tumaini looked around the room at his friends, his family. The group of eight others that had become the only real hope for their country. "We all know that this is not going to be quick or easy. As Master Takamura told us, there is a very good chance that, after tonight, some of us will never see the night when we all meet again. That weights on my heart in ways that I have never felt before, but I know we will all meet again some day in the Fields. We all know the plans. I will stay here and prepare the people, all of you will head to different cities, and prepare them. We have one major advantage over the Romans, our link. No matter how far away we are we can still communicate, and that will be the edge that brings us victory. Go and prepare yourselves. You must leave as soon as possible."
Seven of the eight others nodded and left the room, leaving only Thoth and Tumaini. They embraced and both could feel the others tears falling on their shoulders. "You stay safe." Tumaini commanded.
"And you my love. Know that no matter what happens, our hearts will always be as one." With one final squeeze, Thoth broke the embrace, turned and walked out of the room.
Tumaini fell to his knees as the door closed, tears flowing freely down his face. Somewhere deep down inside, he knew that he would never see his love again.
"And I was right, I never did see him again." Runi spoke, tears flowing freely down his face, as his eyes were glued to the floor.
"What happened to him?" Colt asked softly, looking around and seeing that no one in the room had a dry eye. He was slightly surprised to see just how many people were there. He knew Cedric, Hope, Grayson, Hank and Roger were there, but he had no idea when Ramon and Shane showed up.
Runi was still sitting there on the floor with the wrapped bundle in one hand and the sword gently cradled to his chest. "My Lord, if I may?" Hope asked quietly, to which Runi just nodded.
She stood back up, put her hands behind her back, and started to pace. She had all the dignity and air of a college professor lecturing a doctoral level class. "The war raged for three years. Before the Night Hawks arrived, there had never been the need for a standing army in Egypt, but My Lord changed that. Under his leadership, many battles were waged, with the Egyptian forces winning more than they lost, and slowly they began to re-take what the Romans had stolen.
We also had one major advantage that the Romans did not have. We knew about the Night Walkers, what we now call Vampires. The Romans did not. As it was, the Roman Priests were referring to Runi and the other Night Walkers as Demons. It was a ploy that was supposed to raise the ire of the Roman soldier and make them fight against the Night Walkers harder, but it backfired."
"It scared them?" Shane asked in an awe filled voice.
"Exactly. When any one of the Night Walkers took the field, the battle was swung in the favor of the Egyptians. What many didn't understand was that it wasn't so much what they did that turned the tide, although there were a few times where their actions directly turned the tide of the battle, but it was the belief by the Egyptians that when one of the Night Hawks took the field, the Gods themselves were there. That kind of moral boost was not something the Romans could defeat."
"But, what happened to Thoth?" Colt again asked, now knowing how much the young vampire had meant to Runi, he needed to know.
"The capital had come under siege." Runi began, speaking distantly. "I had command of the largest force and was moving to reinforce Thoth and his troops. However, the Romans had thrown everything they had at us trying to take the capitol."
"We were hours away from the capitol when the Romans began their advance. They knew we were coming, and were hoping to have the city in their grasp before we got there. Thoth knew that there was only one hope for the people in the city, and that was to delay the Romans long enough for us to get there.
"They were outnumbered over ten to one, but Thoth had just over thirty Night Walkers with him, so he led them, and all the soldiers that the city had, out the front gate to meet the Romans. Thoth committed everything he had to the defense of the city in hopes that they would be able to delay them long enough for us to get there. It worked.
"I had just crested the hill outside the capital city and saw the battle raging below us. Thoth and his troops were being pushed against the walls of the city by the Romans, but they were holding their own. I gave the order to attack, and even though the men were exhausted from the hard march to get there, when the horns sounded, they charged in. We hit the Romans exposed back lines, and ripped into them.
"I had Thoth in sight, but he was surrounded, and fighting like the Demon they tried to claim he was, but it was too much, even for him. He and the other Night Walkers had been fighting for hours, non stop, buying us the time needed to get there."
The battle was ragging all around Tumaini but he only had one thought in his mind, to get to his loves side. He charged right into their lines, and cut a bloody swath through the Roman's, forcing his way to the wall of the city. He was soon alone as the other soldiers, even the other Night Walkers, could not hope to keep up with him. He wasn't fighting, he wasn't even stopping to duel anyone who challenged him. Tumaini was focused on one thing and one thing alone, getting to Thoth.
And there he was. Only a few hundred yards away, and surrounded. 'I'm here my love!' Tumaini called out to Thoth through their link.
'I knew you would make it.' Thoth sent back, and Tumaini could hear the exhaustion and smile in his voice.
'Just hold out a little longer. I'm almost there!' But it was too much even for Thoth. He swung around, taking the head off of three Roman soldiers at once, but didn't see the one that was behind him. Tumaini saw the sword blade erupt from the chest of his lover and screamed in rage.
With the sword still piercing his heart, Thoth spun around, and took the head of the soldier that struck the killing blow, then fell to his knees. Tumaini no longer cared what happened as he charged his way to Thoth's side. As he fell to his knees next to Thoth, he hadn't even realized he tapped into one of his extras, all around them the sand whipped up and created a spinning wall of death around them.
"Thoth!" He cried as he cradled the older boy's head in his arms. He held him as Thoth coughed up blood, and tried to speak.
"I... I knew you would make it." Thoth tried to smile, but the pain was too great. "Do not let me die in vain... Crush the Romans, then meet me in the Fields." Thoth endured another coughing fit, as more and more of his blood covered Tumaini's robes, but the young priest didn't care.
"Please... my love. Don't let it end like this." Tumaini knew what he meant. The worst way for a Night Walker to die was to have his heart pierced. They would slowly die of starvation, no matter how much blood they drank. It was a horrible way to die. "Please... take me as part of you... take my soul..."
Tumaini sat back stunned. It was a gift that only the highest of the Night Walker Priests knew. When one high priest was about to pass on, he would pass on a gift so that the one to replace him would have all of the knowledge that the High Priest had learned. Now here, his love was asking for him to 'drink his soul.'
Not willing to deny Thoth his last wish, Tumaini drew himself back, uttered a very short prayer to Anubis, then allowed his fangs to drop. Thoth closed his eyes, sighed, and then nodded. "Thank you my love."
Tumaini struck and started to slowly drink the life blood from his lovers neck. He drank slowly as he watched Thoth's life pass before his minds eye, and slowly a smile passed on Tumaini's lips. Thoth's love for Tumaini had been complete. It was deeper than even Tumaini knew, and it was beautiful.
As the blood slowed to a trickle, Tumaini called forth the extra and continued to drink, even though the blood lost it's rich flavor and started to go sour.
Finally, it was done, and Tumaini drew back. All around him, the battle had gone quiet. All eyes were transfixed on the cyclone that swirled around the two Night Walkers. "I shall meet you in the fields soon my love." Tumaini whispered as he watched Thoth's body slowly turn to dust, and join the swirling vortex that surrounded him.
The other Night Hawks knew what was coming, and forced as many of the Egyptian soldiers as they could to find cover. Tumaini's sobs grew louder and louder as the cyclone spun with greater and greater speed.
With a scream of unadulterated rage, Tumaini threw his arms up in the air and cried out to the heavens. At the same time the cyclone exploded out from around him, and tore into the Roman troops, growing in size and ferocity as it moved away from Tumaini.
By the time Tumaini fell to his knees, the Vortex moved out of sight, not a single Roman soldier stood. The entire battlefield was wiped clean of their taint, and the Egyptians started to rise out of their shelter to see what had happened.
They cheered Tumaini and started to chant his name. But not the name he was given at birth, but the name that the Romans had started to call him. Runihora, The destroyer.
On that day, when he drank the soul of his beloved, Tumaini died. No longer would he answer to that name, he was truly now the Destroyer. No Roman army could stand before him, as he fought with the viciousness of an enraged demon.
He was there the day that they pushed the last of the Roman's out of their lands, but Runi would not stop there. As the soldiers went home, the last remaining Night Hawks pursued the fleeing Romans across the country side, hounding them until they reached Rome itself. There he found the Night Weaver high council that had ordered the war on Egypt, and one by one, he killed them, in the worst ways possible.
Finally it was done, yet the price was high... too high. Not only had Runi lost his love, but he was the last of the original Night Hawks. It was too much for him. It was too much to endure. Runi found himself a lair, and allowed himself to sleep, hoping that he would never wake again, and he would find himself in the Fields with his love.
Wow! This chapter brought shivers to my spine and tears to my eyes. A love so strong, the despair and destruction. Once again Roland sent my emotions on a roller coaster ride. I am still shivering from the words written. Job well done and I am looking forward to reading more and finding out where they are going from here. And what is in the bundle Runi is holding?