It was the power of a God; the holding of life…or death…in his hands. It sang its unholy chorus through his soul and he drank in its gloriously dark binding, experiencing sensations that certainly only his "Father" felt. With each swallow of her crimson life he felt his own strength surging to heights he had never imagined possible, but with the euphoria of that growth came the diminishing of her life; a life that she had trusted to him.
"Bill," called a distant voice.
Dimly, he was aware that he was killing her, but it didn't matter; only the sensations of his burgeoning powers were of importance.
"Bill!" cried the voice, louder, beckoning for his attention.
It was as if lightning were dancing through the synapse of his brain, carrying reflexive impulses that were altering his physical being, pushing his body beyond the confines of a mere Halfling. His flesh was morphing into its full potential, unleashing his entire true heritage, and evolving into the very thing that he hated.
He was becoming Vampyre.
Pain exploded through his cranium, white hot and blinding, and he released her neck from his extended maw in reflex. He twisted about to glare at the being that had attacked him, an animalist growl rippling from his throat.
Roy was casting his attention about, looking rapidly from Bill to the Old Guard and back, brandishing his crucifix in one hand to keep the unholy creatures from advancing, and holding the remains of a board in the other. It was apparent that he had retrieved one of the boards from a shattered bookcase and used it forcibly to halt Bill's feeding.
"You were killing her," said Roy, stating it so calmly and clearly that it reached to Bill's fading humanity and abruptly retrieved it from the dark depths into which it had been plummeting. "You promised her."
Shame briefly flashed through his eyes, but it quickly vanished as he dismissed it for a later time. Now he had to do what he had never thought that he would be capable of; he had to end the battle against Bartholomew and his forces once and for all.
Settling Christine's unconscious body to the ground, Bill stood and stepped over to Roy. "Let's try a little force along with your faith," he said, taking the broken board from Roy.
The end of the board was jagged and even, but with enough force it would serve the same purpose as a stake, and that was exactly what Bill did with it. With a rage that was cold and contained, he rammed the board through the chest of the nearest Guard member, black blood exploding in a cloud behind the creature as the shaft of wood penetrated it completely.
Roy nearly dropped his crucifix as his hands shot up to cover his ears in reflex to the horrendous screams that wailed forth from the remaining members of the Old Guard. His senses were nearly overwhelmed from the cacophony of pain and anguish that rolled though the screams, and a chill swept through his soul that felt so cold that he thought he might never feel warmth again.
Hunched over, straining to block out the screams, Roy barely registered what he saw next, and he began to wonder how he was supposed to tell the monsters apart.
Bill's fingers lengthened, adding a third knuckle, and grew thick with skin that appeared grey and calloused. His nails similarly transformed, becoming gleaming talons that seemed as sharp as a razor.
With the other members of the Old Guard momentarily incapacitated by the death of one of their own, it was a simple matter for Bill to dart from one to another, slashing out with his claws to send their heads spinning through the air in a mist of black wetness that sprayed in a seemingly never ending cloud. Brown robes crumpled to the ground as the bodies of the Old Guard melted away, pools of black and red seeping from the cloth. Even the severed hoods hit the ground with a wet smacking sound, and in just a few seconds Bartholomew's oldest and most powerful warriors were truly dead.
The air was immediately filled with a stench so foul that even as a vampire, Roy felt his stomach turning and bile burning at the back of his throat. Pressing his arm over his mouth and nose, not even giving thought to the fact that he really no longer had to breath, Roy willed his stomach to settle.
When he turned back to face Roy, Bill looked almost normal, only the splattering of black dots across his chest and face to show what he had just done. "The Artifact's in that room," he said, glancing towards the door at the far end of the library. "Would you please retrieve it?"
Bill strode over to Christine and picked her up. He cradled her in his arms, looking at her with an expression of such remorse that Roy nearly offered words of encouragement. The Preacher thought of what Bill had nearly done to her, and of what he had done to the Old Guard, and instead headed straight for the room containing the Holy Artifact, praying that Bartholomew would be the only one that they would need to use it against.
Bartholomew was seething with rage. He had dismissed the bastard Halfling as being of little consequence, but that proven to be anything but true; not only had he succeeded in shielding himself from Bartholomew, but he had killed his Old Guard, the very first beings that he had ever created. The Lord of Vampires had given thought to immediately teleporting to his lair in Germany, but he had underestimated the Halfling once, and he was not going to make the same mistake a second time. He instead unleashed the creatures that he had contained there, directing them to kill everyone they encountered.
It would mean the deaths of his stable of servants, and certainly the Halfling would be gone before they made their way to his library, but it was the only recourse he could devise at the moment.
Despite the interference of the Halfling, Bartholomew was determined to initiate his plan for subjugating the human race. He had left the task to several of his trusted minions nearly six centuries ago, and had slumbered the years away only to awaken and find that humanity had proven far more resilient than he had imagined. Those that he had left to tend the cattle were mostly dead and now thought of as legends; horror stories used to frighten children and entertain the masses. His minions, once feared through out the land, had been twisted by modern literature, given human aspects that made them seem pitiful and tragic.
Bartholomew planned to use that very misconception to his advantage. He would beseech humanity to help him, and he would use its own science to breed a new race of minions more quickly than he would have ever been able to.
He would see nothing stop his plan.
"Want to bet on that?" spoke the voice of the Halfling, within his head.
Impossible! thought Bartholomew. You can not be that powerful!
"Powerful enough to be inside your head without you knowing it?" mocked the Halfling. "I'd ask you how it feels to be on the other end of the mind thing, but you wouldn't know what I was talking about because it hasn't happened yet."
"The future that you are trying to stop will come to be."
"Midnight. The Empire State Building. Be there."
Bartholomew was silent.
"Is the Lord of all Vampires afraid of a pathetic Halfling?"
"It will be the end to your insurrection."
"I think it'll be the end to a couple of things. See you then…Father."
For the first time that he could recall, Bartholomew felt a sense of foreboding.
To Be Concluded…