Fanfic Friday – “Champion of God”

5 Oct

Night had fallen, and Brother Franco had a sickening feeling he would not see morning.

The dreary Wygol was a poor excuse for a village, with half-tumbled wooden shacks supported by crumbling brick and filthy, rat-thick streets. A heavy layer of snow draped the sorry place like a suffocating pillow, and firelights were few and frail. As the warrior strode through the frozen mud, all the shutters were closed, and there was no sound of life or laughter – only the whistling wind and the faraway howling of wolves. What a bitter, miserable, God-forsaken place this is, he thought, and his gaze shifted to the looming castle beyond, a massive gothic nightmare of skeletal spires and forbidding stone walls. Poking through the thick snowclouds and pale moonlight, it cast an ominous shadow over the gloomy Wygol, and Brother Franco pulled his hood tighter around his neck. It was not the castle which truly frightened him.

It was the vampires.

He knew the castle was a spawning ground for the unholy monsters, and he knew that they had plagued Wygol for years, corrupting it from a bright and prosperous place into the wretched hole it had become. He knew that God was not welcome here, nor members of the Brotherhood such as himself. And he knew that once the sun had set, the creatures would emerge and begin to hunt. He needed to find shelter, and he needed to do it now.

Brother Franco pounded on door after door in futility. None, it seemed, would risk opening their doors at night, even for a man of God in dire need. He could hardly blame them – but darkness was closing all around, and the cold bit at his skin through his cloth and mail. Presently he came to the outer limits of Wygol, finding a woebegone and mercifully empty stable with rotted timbers and foul-smelling straw, frozen and forgotten. He tucked himself into the tightest, darkest corner he could find, and huddled down with his cloak wrapped about him, preserving as much heat as he could.

It was hours of fitful shivering before his body finally succumbed to sleep, but he was woken after what seemed like only moments by a dreadful hissing sound. Gasping in the cold, Brother Franco unslid his sword from its sheath and grasped his rosary in his other hand. His mission was to bring the light of God to the dark places of the world, but he would need to stay alive in order to carry it out – and this was a dark place indeed. There, again, that low hiss, like an enormous snake, seeming to issue forth from the woodwork all around him. Brother Franco whimpered a frantic prayer, and waited.

At first there was nothing, no sound or sight except the curling zephyrs of snow which blew in from the doorway on a shaft of moonlight. Then, as he stared into the shadows, Brother Franco made out two tiny points of light. They glittered there, and with a jolt he realized they were a pair of eyes leering at him from the dark. He raised his sword, still cowering on the ground, and his broken voice yelped, “Who’s there? S-show yourself!”

He heard the hiss again and the eyes transformed into a grinning gargoyle face, with a flattened nose, spiked ears, and huge glistening fangs. The vampire opened its jaws wide and screeched at him, stepping out of the shadows and unfolding its leathery wings. It lunged, its eyes gleaming yellow and ravenous, and Brother Franco screamed.

Then there was a crack like silver lightning, and the foul creature stopped dead in its tracks, reaching for its throat and gagging. Brother Franco saw steel chain links encircling its neck, and in an instant it was ripped from its clawed feet to slam onto the ground. Then a huge figure leapt into view, snowflakes sparkling around it like minuscule diamonds, and plunged a pointed stake into the vampire’s chest. There was a plume of bright blood and a horrifying shriek from the vampire, which thrashed and twitched until it seemed like an eternity had passed, and finally it ceased moving entirely.

The next thing Brother Franco knew, there was a heavy steel gauntlet thrust out toward him. He had the presence of mind to grasp it, and he was pulled to his feet to come face to face with his saviour. He saw a powerful man with thick strands of hair falling over his face, dressed in the same garb as himself. He was stunned, and blurted out, “You… you’re of the Brotherhood?”

He saw the faintest flicker of a smile tug at the edges of the man’s mouth, which receded into a blank, armoured expression. In a deep and quiet voice, he said, “Yes. I am Gabriel Belmont. What is your name, Brother?”

“Franco,” said Brother Franco, realizing his sword was still drawn and sheathing it with a hot flush of embarrassment.

“Well then, Brother Franco,” said Belmont, turning away. “I must go. Be on your guard. This is a place of evil.”

Brother Franco was well aware. As Belmont walked out the door, he said,  “Wait!” and saw the huge man stop at the threshold.

“Thank… thank you,” said Brother Franco, “for saving my life.”

Now Belmont did smile, though it vanished as quickly as it came. “Just doing God’s work, Brother.”

Then he was gone, leaving Brother Franco alone in the cold once again.

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