(Chapter Two In the Land of Rominav: The Accursed Caverns)

Basilton Sanitarium, 5:00pm

          "I will safely walk upon these clouds underfoot and out of these walls of misery!" sang the crazy man, hunched over in the corner of his cell. He sang as he pet the millipede climbing steadily over his right foot.
          "What the hell is he singing now?" groaned one of the asylum's wardens, leaning dangerously overweight in the wooden chair he sat in. The younger warden to his right flicked his fingers nervously, ready to snap the crazy man in two.
          "I say we beat the shit out of him and leave him to the hogs," whispered the young warden from his dark corner.
          "Calm down there, son. We'll pop him a sleeping pill and call for the sherriff." The older warden stood up from his chair and walked over to the cell whistling mindlessly.
          The man in the cell inched his way slowly to the deepest corner, watching the approaching warden in the corner of his eye. His hair was black and knotted with dirt and greased with other bodily fluids. His fingernails were dirty and crusted with decrepit earth. He kept singing, steadying himself as he stood up facing the only window in his cell.
          "Alright sir, it's time to take your medication. Come towards the door, sir. Slowly."
          The crazy man turned around slowly as directed and walked towards the cell door. He glared at the warden repeating the chant in his mind I will safely walk upon these clouds underfoot and out of these walls of misery. The warden pulled his baton, keeping it from the man's view.
          Suddenly he stopped. Both men stood looking at each other. The young warden walked over to his superior looking him up and down and then switching his eyes to the crazy man.
          "Mr. Wallace? What's wrong?" called the young warden. Mr. Wallace stood behind the bars of his cell, watching the older warden calmy when suddenly he reached through the door pulling the warden close to him. With bars between them, Wallace sunk his teeth deep into the warden's neck.
          The younger man screamed and pulled out his gun, shooting several times in Wallace's direction. Wallace clung to the warden, sucking the blood that pump from his busted artery.
          The younger warden stopped his blasting and stood in horror watching Wallace devour the man in his clutches. Wallace dropped the warden and pulled the bars of his cell door apart just enough to fit through.          
          Wallace grabbed the young man and with his sharp fingernails, clamped up his windpipe and sunk his teeth in the man's neck.

          The sun barely descended behind the mountains when a single scream shattered the quiet of the town.
          Wallace pulled Carla behind him, dragging her in the dirt and mud, ripping her dress everytime she tried to wriggle from his grasp. She was bleeding from her lip where-moments earlier-Wallace had back handed her as her uncle screamed from behind the bar. He had left her uncle there and the other patrons of the hotel, bleeding from their necks. Her uncle had suffered much worse. A knife driven deep into stomach, with only it's handle sticking out.
          "PLEASE!!! LET ME GO!" Carla screamed and cried uncontrollably as Wallace pushed her onto a horse. He mounted behind her, holding her mouth shut as he plunged his heels into the horse's sensitive flanks.
          In his madness, Wallace could hear the faint wailing of the Mistress in her caves. The time of resurrection is at hand. Bring her to me! Wallace urged the horse faster, holding tightly to Carla as they rode wildly through Basilton to Duraning.

*          *          *

          The wind whirled in upheavals of dirt and red and black cloth from the sidewalks of Duraning. The town was swarming with angry partiers still wailing and screaming their curses.
          The doctor looked out his store windows, watching the wild citizens dance to and fro. They began to take their clothes off in a crazed frenzy of ecstacy and bloodlust. D kept his head turned away from the windows. He was hearing something totally different than the doctor. He could hear screams. The same screams he thought he heard earlier in the winter wind before the carriage picked him up. A vision of the veiled gypsy flashed in his mind. D was uneasy and dizzy.
          "What is wrong, D?" The doctor was watching the hunter now.
          Another vision flashed. D moved wearily on his seat, almost falling off. Almost not catching himself. Another flash. Her lips were moving this time. He could see her face almost. The black veils sifted furiously from her face. Her eyes were green, lips still pink and skin, white and taut. She was trying to tell him something.
          The doctor moved closer to D, studying him. He could tell he was having a vision. How he wished he could see what was going on.
          Her lips were moving slowly but the visions flashed between light and darkness, in strobes, dizzing him upon his chair. He could hear her voice now, along with the movement of her lips. The resurrection, hunter. I know the one you hunt. Save the dark haired beauty before it is too late.
          D stood up, knocking his chair over and ran towards the door. The doctor screamed for him to wait. He had a horse already saddled.
          The doctor was ready to follow D wherever he went.

*          *          *

Hotel Du Ponte

          Robert gasped in pain as he slid his way across the hotel lobby floor. Blood spewed furiously from his shirt where a small knife jutted out from his belly. He took one hand and lifted himself to a nearby chair, pulling the knife out as he let out a cry. Gasping and panting he dropped the knife at his feet and watched wearily as the brave vampire hunter and a shorter dark haired man with silver rimmed glasses walked in.
          "D!" Robert cried and lunged himself towards the hunter. D stood holding the blood drenched innkeeper gripped tightly to his leather bound torso.
          Dr. Husam rushed towards the bleeding man, pulling him from D and laid him back down on the floor. The doctor shook his head nervously. He knew this man would not survive to see the next day.
          Robert grabbed D and pulled him close to whisper in his ear. "Wallace took Carla to the caves. The Mistress! Find the gypsy. Find the black veiled gypsy!" Robert struggled to breath but the blood and life of his own body drowned him out before he could close his own eyes.
          "No," D whispered, closing his eyes tight and pushing off the emotions building up inside him. The doctor looked helplessly at the bloody man on the floor.
          From beneath the shadows of his hat, "The veiled gypsy. How can she help?"
          The doctor smiled.
          "She claims revenge."

*          *          *

          "Wallace. Should've known. The devil's advocate," said the docter swaying with the stride of his horse, along side D. The hunter was silent but boiling on the inside. This little incident hit harder than he ever imagined. Lost in her eyes, hunter. That's exactly where you are. In her eyes! I've never seen you fall so hard for a girl you barely know. Well now, there are some exceptions...but this is revenge! See to it that you dont lose your head, alright?
          The doctor was pointing to the black carriage just a head of them. It was the gypsy's carriage, of course, it was noticeable in the slight wind, swaying and the usual creaking of it's axle. The two urged their horses faster to catch up with the carriage.
          "Hey you up there!" shouted the doctor.
          The man leading the mules pulled back on the reins, slowing the carriage and turned with a slightly annoyed grimace.
          "What do you want? I'm running a little late, here!"
          "The gypsy? Is she alright?" D asked, barely lifting his hat.
          "Oh, it's you. Yes, the gypsy's fine. I suppose you two have something to do with the Mistress as well, eh?"
          "We might."
          "You've got two days left, hunter!" laughed a voice from inside the carriage. The gypsy had opened the door quietly, still kept in the shadows, her fangs glistening in the light.
          "What's your deal with the Mistress?" D frowned. She could tell he was annoyed just by looking at her. She was in his head all the time. The voices. But she knew she had his heart in her grip. Such a soft sweet grip it was.
          "It's a secret, hunter."
          The doctor rolled his eyes and pushed his horse into D's. The two rode off into the mountains, just yards from the gates of Duraning.
          The moon was pushing it's ghostly face into the sun's rays. Night was falling fast, and the faster it would fall the further the earth tilted.

          Stopping their horses outside the opening to the Rominav caverns, D and the doctor surveyed the territory. D couldnt possibly see how anyone could get in if the entire cave was sealed off.
          "The cave to her tomb is sealed. Too bad she's not already dead. Duraning would make for a great sarcophagus. We get into the caverns through this opening. However, I would like her dead before she escapes into the city." The doctor pulled his sword from his belt, kissing it for luck.
          "Her story, " coughed the doctor, "is a bit twisted. She is not dead inside her sarcophogus. But she is drained of any and all blood. Just a thimble full could revive her enough to a dreadful point. I'm afraid Carla's pure virgin blood will awaken something more than dreadful. Think, deadly."
          D nodded and walked side by side with the doctor into the opening.

          Oh jeez, somebody give this boy some luck.

*          *          *

          The air was thick and sickening. The cavern ceiling was covered with stalagtites dripping cold salty water from their tips. The doctor and D stood inside it's cold black hallway. Husam took a deep breath, smelling the musty scent of the caves and the faint odor of death.
          "There is only one path. We should have no trouble finding her tomb if we follow deeply enough." The doctor looked up at D, worrisome. He knew he would be able to guide the hunter into the inner chambers of the caves, but from there he would not be able to continue. Husam knew the Mistress was powerful enough to possess anything within her reach. The hunter's concious mind would be hard to penetrate but a mere human like the doctor could not withstand the pull of her spirit.
          "Doctor, you dont have to come. I'm sure I can make it the rest of the way. What I need for you to do is to wait by the opening if I come with Carla. She will need you." D pushed up his hat and took a long gaze down the path in which he was about to take. Cold air rushed from the darkness.
          Husam nodded and gave the hunter a squeeze on his right arm. D looked down at the small doctor, taking note of his taut smile and glimmering grey eyes behind gold rimmed glasses.
          Further down the hall, the hunter walked cautiously awaiting any surprises the Mistress might have in store for him in the crevices of the cave. The parasite itched for delayed conversation.
          "Well, we're on our own again. This is wonderful. I feel like a tomb raider all of the sudden. Full of energy, full of fear and full of....wait, yeah I know what you're gonna say!" The hunter stopped dead in his tracks, listening carefully to the sound in the wind. Another faint cry like those he had heard in Basilton and in the rough winter terrain from days before. But this cry was from something human. Someone who needed him and fast. Carla!
          Down the winding corridor, the hunter ran. Twisting his form around jagged rocks and boulders jutting from the cavern walls. The cries were getting louder and the air grew colder. D knew he was too far deep into the caves to even begin to wonder how long it would take him to get back out. His breath was strained but not from running. The air was unusually cold and at that time, D turned the last corner and stood face to face with the possessed Wallace and his wide eyed maniacal stare.
          "Why hunter D! How wonderful it is to see you down this far in the depths of Hell! Thought it would be hot huh?" Wallace laughed crazingly, swinging Carla around in his arms. He dropped the young girl to the floor and with both hands, unleashed a frenzy of sporadic lightning around her. She screamed but her cries were cut off by the sparks of light that phenomenally held her body skywards.
          D looked up at Carla surrounded by the light. Wallace came at him fast and blinding, slashing a dagger at his chest. D moved just in time to catch the very tip of the shorter blade with his longer curved sword. Wallace backed off and ran around D, trying to confuse him. This didnt work on the hunter. Instead, D jumped high into the cave's ceiling suddenly disappearing into the darkness. Seconds slid by as Wallace danced around the open area looking for the hunter. D landed behind the crazed man and took a swipe at his right side.
          Wallace hunkered down holding his lacerated arm. He smiled up at the hunter, watching as D slid the curved blade under his chin. Wallace laughed and panted as D urged him to stand up, still pointing the tip at his jugular.
          "Go ahead. Why not kill me? It shouldnt be too hard." D suddenly realized why he hadnt killed Wallace yet. His right arm quaked making the blade quiver and then rise as if it were being controlled by something other than himself. D pressed down harder on the blade but the sword flew out of his hand and landed in the rock floor behind him. D spun around in shock. This doesnt look very good, D. The hunter slowly turned back to face Wallace, still holding his arm. The blood gushed from the open wound but Wallace didnt flinch. It seemed the loss of blood was the least of his worries at the moment. Or perhaps he didnt even know he had been cut.
          Wallace grunted and swung around, his arms flaying around him. D watched carefully but soon became too dizzy to even stand. The crazy man was bringing him down. D clutched at his neck with his left hand. D! You cant give in to this! You cant let her control you! Get up, man! But he couldnt. The power of the Mistress possessed Wallace's free willed spirit and his body.
          D could feel the shroud of darkness spread into his mind, stretching from the very corners of his dim treacherous concious plains. He could hear the Mistress laughing through Wallace's muffled screams. D was giving up, but not willingly. There was nothing he could hold on to.
          As he fell to the floor feeling the last breath of life escape his lips, he looked up at Carla, still suspended in the air. She looked down at him with tears drowning her eyes.
          The sound of metal whistled through the air. The quick flash of white and red whipped into the hunter's view.
          D blinked, watching as the dimly lit world around him began to flood with the color red. His heartbeat was labored, his breathing became sporadic. D finally realized true pain, as it was buried in his chest. A pain inflicted by his own blade.

*          *          *

          Wallace, deranged and bleeding from his left temple, ran down the twisted stairs leading to the Mistress' sealed vault. With Carla in tow over his right shoulder, everything was going as planned. After chaining the vampire hunter to the cavern walls, he had stripped D of his chest armor exposing the crimson waterfall that trickled endlessly down the hunter's white chest. With a sly smirk and a laugh that echoed inside the cave, Wallace had completed his first task. Destroy the hunter. Now, destroy the girl and resurrect the hideous being buried below.
          After climbing one gigantic boulder after the other, Wallace and Carla had reached the door to the vault. The door stood high, almost ten feet, into the cave ceiling. Wallace followed carefully with his eyes, the soddered seam that bound the steel door to it's frame. He laughed.
          "No need to open this door with it's knob. I'll just blow it open." Wallace sat Carla down at the far end of the room and pulled his arms together gathering up his temporary supernatural strength. Small sparks of light scampered back and forth between his hands, further igniting into balls of flames. When the fire ball had become as big as his upper torso, Wallace threw the flames into the vault door. The ball smashed with a loud thunder clap into the door, bursting it from it's steel frame and flinging into the room ahead of them.
          Wallace cracked an eerie grin towards Carla and threw her over his shoulders. Prancing happily into the tomb, he stopped in utter horror of what stood before him.
          A ghastly blood drenched apparition stood staring with wide white eyes at Wallace and the girl he possessed. From what Carla could tell, the ghost was smiling at her and glaring angrily at Wallace by her side. Wallace detached himself from Carla and ran to the corner of the tomb.
          The spirited Wallace had now become a whimpering slave, finally acknowledging the truth behind the Mistress' becons from the deep. She needed a body and he was willing. She stood in front of him and Carla, ready and awaiting for her resurrection to begin.
          "Wallace!!! Fool! Lay her atop the altar! It is time. Drain her blood!!!" The ghost suddenly vanished into the cave walls. Wallace turned to Carla, still bewildered and unable to grasp the intensity of the situation he had gotten himself into.

          Carla lay chained to the altar standing fifteen feet above the Mistress' sarcophogus. Two small drain holes were engraved into the stone bed on either side of her. Below, extending from the holes, were small metallic drain slides that spiraled down into the sarcophogus underneath the alter. Carla was terrified at this sight.
          Wallace walked carefully towards Carla on the platform of the altar. There was barely enough room for him to walk onto the platform. He stared wearily into Carla's frightened eyes. With a small dagger he cut her wrists. She gasped and watched as the blood poured from her arms to the stone bed and down into the drain holes.
          Blood twisted and shimmered down the drain slides and into the sarcophogus. After a few minutes of silence and pain, a loud moan came from inside the stone coffin. Steam began to rise through the small holes on all four sides of the coffin.
          Wallace's eyes widened as he watched the girl turn three shades of white from her natural dark complexion. The blood was nearly half drained from her. She was dying but the veil of darkness would not cover her so easily. She blinked nervously, staring up at the ceiling above her.
          "Please, hunter. Please, dont be dead. I need you. Just this once. Please." Carla turned her head to look at Wallace. He was his human self again but he was drained of what dignity he might have left. She could see the fear in his eyes. They both knew they would not make it out alive. She would never see the hunter again.
          All is hopeless.

*          *          *

Chapter 3
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