Part 1: Homecoming
Vincent hated being right. He was a man in the prime of his life; he had a beautiful wife with a child on the way and he was one more successful battle away from being a full-fledged Cathar. All of these things made him the perfect candidate to be a casualty of this conflict with this horde of werewolves. Even with the great Cosper Lowe leading the charge, Vincent knew they were in trouble when the pack that emerged from the tree line was at least twice as big as initial reports. With the pack surging forward, retreating back to the village was not an option, so they resigned themselves to a battle to the end. After felling two of the beasts, a spark of hope ignited within Vincent before it was sufficiently dimmed by a very large wolf launching itself onto him. He managed to get his sword through the monster as it dug his claws into his chest plate and flesh. The light of life was not leaving his foe’s eyes quick enough and it’s snapping jaws drew closer and closer to his face. Vincent resigned himself to his grim destiny, but just as the tips of the wolf’s fangs scratched his flesh, a sword swiftly liberated the beast’s head from his body. With his last bit of strength Vincent pushed the decapitated torso off his body and breathed a sigh of relief. He looked up to see his savior standing above him and the golden eyes of a vampire staring back at him. Vincent didn’t even bother trying to get up to defend himself as re resigned himself to his grim fate again in the span of a minute. He really hated being right.
With a snap and a slight distortion of reality, Sorin Markov pulled the last of his essence through the blind eternities. He waited for a second and when no one else materialized, he knew had had lost that insufferable elf. Not wanting to be the first snack for some very irritable Eldrazi, he had walked away from Zendikar as quickly as he could without much thought for a destination. As he looked for the nearest plane to stop and think, he felt the elf’s presence close behind him. As soon as he arrived at a plane (an unfamiliar desert), he decided to leave again before she could find him and start her pathetic pleas to come back and fight a hopeless battle. He intended to do something about that situation, but not before he could gather more resources and allies. For now he decided to walk away quickly, knowing that the less experienced planeswalker would not be able to keep up. Sorin knew of one place he could walk to without fail; home. And now he stood at the top of a hill overlooking a pack of werewolves eviscerating a group of soldiers. “Home sweet home.”
Sorin’s body groaned at the challenged presented before him. The last few weeks had felt like a decade with everything he’d had to put up with and he was sorely tempted to leave the humans to their fate. While he much preferred humans to their wild lupine counterparts, he had certainly given the people of this plane enough of his protection. But where was that protection? Sorin surveyed the field, noticing the sizable body counts on both sides. Where were the angels? Where was Avacyn? He’d get his answers soon enough, but for now he knew he must take his angel’s place as a protector.
Sorin drew his sword and started his supernaturally fast sprint toward the battle. The first swing of his sword went cleanly through the neck of a large werewolf that had been preoccupied trying to bite the face of a soldier. After the man had freed himself from the carcass, Sorin reached down to help him to his feet. The soldier recoiled from Sorin’s outstretched hand, a look of fear and resigned doom flitting across his face. Sorin sighed and grabbed the soldier by his breastplate and forced him to his feet.
“You don’t seem to be dying, so keep fighting if you want to keep it that way,” instructed Sorin.
“Umm, thank you?” the soldier stuttered and charged back into the fray.
Sorin followed the soldier into the thick of the battle and became a whirlwind of steel. Most of the werewolves were engaged in fighting or feasting and didn’t even have time to react before Sorin landed a mortal wound. Eventually some of the wolves started to take notice of the vampire in their midst and came after Sorin. Attacking Sorin left them just as dead as the ones attacked by Sorin. After slaying over a dozen wolves, Sorin’s sword-work started to slow, not by much, but by enough to give Ulrich his chance.
Ulrich was one of the most cunning and ruthless werewolves around; these traits and allowed him to take the role as alpha of the biggest pack in Innistrad. Under his command the pack had grown greatly and there were few forces left on Innistrad that could challenge them. Even with his well-earned confidence, Ulrich’s predator mind recognized a fellow skilled hunter and approached Sorin with caution. As soon as he spotted an opening for an effective strike, he leapt at the vampire’s back. Before Ulrich’s outstretched claws could sink into flesh, the vampire whipped around and stepped back a pace and all Ulrich’s claws found were dirt. Now even on all fours, Ulrich was still at eye level with the vampire; his eye bulged in fury as he glared into the golden eyes of his foe. Suddenly Ulrich’s hatred disappeared, his thoughts and instincts disappeared; everything disappeared except for those golden eyes.
There aren’t many things that will stop a werewolf pack while in the throes of battle, but seeing their mighty alpha scampering off into the woods with his tail between his legs is definitely one of them. The werewolves that could still run quickly followed Ulrich back into the woods; the ones too injured to run fought to their last breath but were quickly put down by the remaining forces. Sorin chuckled as he watched the last of the wolves run off into the woods.
“Stay where you are vampire,” a voice behind Sorin commanded weakly. Sorin’s mirth quickly turned to annoyance as he turned around to see a few of the remaining soldiers had either arrows notched at him or swords raised against him.
“If I had known I was saving a bunch of fools,” said Sorin as he quickly mapped out a plan of attack if necessary, “I wouldn’t have wasted my energy.”
“Forgive my men for being rude, I hope you understand that almost dying has got them a bit on edge. Put down your weapons men; you saw how he handled those werewolves, if he wanted you dead, being armed wouldn’t help.” A man walked between the men and Sorin. His young age was at odds with how easily he voiced his authority. He faced Sorin, but Sorin noticed that he made a point to not make direct eye contact.
“My name is Cosper Lowe, Captain of the Silbern Guard. I thank you on behalf of my men and myself for helping to deter those beasts. Hopefully they won’t come back before we can marshal more troops.”
“You’re welcome. Don’t worry; I convinced their leader that there are more important targets for their wrath, primarily other packs of werewolves. That should keep them busy for some time,” explained Sorin. “Now I’m wondering if you could fill me in on some information; I’ve been away for quite some time. Why weren’t any angels here to help you with this battle? A werewolf pack that large would certainly warrant some assistance.”
“Angels? Where have you been? I’m not sure where the angels went, but I can tell you one thing, they sure as hell aren’t here. Sighting of angels across all of Innistrad have dwindled down to virtually none. Unfortunately, large packs like that have become a far more common sight these days,” said Cosper with a sigh of despair.
“All the angels are gone? This is quite troubling to say the least,” Sorin furrowed his brow as he thought out loud. “I must travel to Stensia immediately. Where am I currently?”
“I’ve not known many vampires to get lost. You are currently near the eastern edge of Kessig. The Stensia border isn’t very far. Just travel due east from here, when you reach the outskirts of Hollowhenge, travel southeast for half a day and you’ll be in the northern tip of Stensia. You’ll have to get through part of the mountain range if you seek other parts of Stensia,” explained Cosper.
“I have not heard of Hollowhenge. I’m going to assume most of the names around here have changed in the last millennium or so. I’m going to need a horse and a good map or a guide if one of your men is knowledgeable enough,” requested Sorin. Several of the soldiers grumbled and shifted uneasily as they wondered if there captain would aid the vampire and which one of them may be volunteered for such a suicidal mission.
“A millennium? That’s pretty old, even by vampire standards. I don’t believe I caught your name,” Cosper’s couldn’t understand how a vampire so old didn’t know all of Innistrad like the curve of his fangs by now. Had he been sleeping for the last thousand years?
“My name is Sorin Markov, grandson of Edgar Markov,” Sorin was mildly annoyed by the reaction to his introduction. When he had bothered to give his name to a being on Innistrad in the past, it had been met with instant recognition and fear. Now his name evoked nothing among these men.
Cosper was a different story; his eyes widened in recognition. Before he passed, Cosper’s commander and mentor had given Cosper a key to the annals in the lower floors of Silbern headquarters. His mentor believed that in a land as ancient as Innistrad, knowing its history was crucial to fighting for a future. Cosper learned a great many things in the tomes he read through. One tome contained all the human knowledge on the history of vampires. While it didn’t say how they came into being, the names Edgar and Sorin Markov came up often. They were the first vampires. This used to be common knowledge, but as the centuries passed and neither Edgar nor Sorin were seen much, their names faded into history. The name Sorin had also come up in another book, one concerning the origin of Avacyn. Cosper learned one of the secrets that the Church of Avacyn kept from the public; Sorin created Avacyn.
“Vincent!” Cosper called for one of his lieutenants. He was a good soldier; he was an exemplary swordsman and had shrewdness that has served him well under Cosper’s command. Cosper hoped that these qualities would keep Vincent alive on this perilous journey.
The day’s events muddled through Vincent’s mind while he struggled to stay awake in his saddle. he had awoke early this morning believing that he was just a few quick werewolf heads away from a promotion, but now here we was, his breastplate rubbing across the bandages on his chest as he bounced up and down on a horse that taking him deep into the land of vampires while the most terrifying vampire he ever met followed behind. Vincent grimly chuckled to himself; he had made his peace with death twice today, but apparently fate liked to batter its victims before the end. He had been sent off to guide Sorin to his destination in Stensia and then return posthaste; they needed every man they could to defend the local towns from werewolves and all the other creatures of the night.
His brain knew that he would never be reporting back for duty, but in his heart lurked that devil known as hope. It used images of his wife, more dependent on him now than ever, to urge him forward when the rest of him had resigned itself to fate’s cruel design. He knew among all the monsters of this world, hope was the one that humans could never vanquish. He held no grudge against Cosper for sending him on this mission; he too was helpless against hope. Several weeks ago Vincent’s cousin and Cosper’s love, Anna, had disappeared just like last two women Cosper had previously courted. The only difference this time is that someone had drawn a heart with blood on Cosper’s door. Cosper knew then that he had attracted the desire of a vampire. Against all logic, Cosper held out hope that Anna was still alive somewhere. He had shared this hope with Vincent before he had left. He knew that if any of his men could bring Anna home, it was Vincent.
“Unless you can guide me through this forest in the dark, I suggest we set up camp now,” Sorin’s deep voice cut through the relative silence of the night and made Vincent jump in his saddle. He had been so deep in thought that he had not noticed the sun set.
“This is a good enough place to camp as any in these woods,” Vincent said as he halted his horse and dismounted. “The growth here is thick enough to hopefully mask our presence from most unwanted visitors.”
“I’ll take the first watch,” declared Sorin as he gracefully dismounted his own steed. Vincent was wary of a thirsty vampire watching over him, but he figured that being awake or asleep wouldn’t really matter if Sorin wanted a snack.
“Very well, just wake me when it’s my turn,” said Vincent as he laid his head down on his supply sack.
Vincent’s stride quickened as he spotted the top of his home around the bend. He had actually made it back! He rushed to his door while calling out for his wife. He went to open the door only to discover that it was bolted shut. He was about to call to his wife to open the door when he heard a piercing scream from within the house. Vincent immediately rammed the door with his shoulder and was surprised that it gave way on the first try. As soon as he was in the house, he spotted his wife in the corner of the main room with a fire poker in her hand. For some reason she was brandishing it in his direction. He tried to assure her that it was just her loving husband, but her screams grew louder as he approached and she started to swing the poker at him. Vincent ducked between swings and went to grab the poker from her before she could hurt either of them. Instead, a large claw swatted the poker out of his wife’s shaking hand. His confusion turned to horror as he locked eyes with his wife. In her wide-eyed reflection he saw a savage werewolf. Vincent howled in disbelief and then lunged for his wife’s throat.
Vincent’s eyes shot open. “Thank the heavens it was only a dream,” he whispered. His relief was soon overcome by a severe pain coursing through his body. He was unnaturally warm and sweating profusely. He went to open his supply sack for some water when he noticed his hands; they were starting to grow thick patches of fur and his fingers were elongating. The bandages around his chest were suddenly far too tight and started to tear. Over the sound of his panicked breathing and his clothes tearing, Vincent heard the sound of a sword being drawn. He looked up to see the glowing eyes of Sorin; his shadowy outline holding his sword at the ready.
“Please…don’t…I have a family,” Vincent struggled to get the words out as his face elongated and his teeth grew long and sharp.
“A family that you’d desperately like to get back to,” Sorin said calmly as he raised his sword. Sorin’s words brought back the horror of his dream and Vincent finally felt hope leave his heart just as fate and steal pierced it.
I should hopefully have part 2 ready around this time next week!