A Post Atomic Apocalypse Story
Charles W Bird
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This story may not be copied by any means without my express written permission.
PRELUDE; In the small hours of the morning, Prince Gard was delivered by Alin and Jeri. They stood at the door with the new Prince that all might see him. Someone noted that the child had Alin's features and the bright red hair of Jeri. Few knew the intimate details of Vampire conception, those that did know, did not find it strange at all. The Kingdom of AZ had an heir!
THE KINGDOM OF AZ
The Heir, Prince Gard grew fast as young vampires were wont to do, reaching his pre-molt development by the age of 5 winters. He was a popular child among both his own kind and also the humans. He possessed wisdom beyond that of his years and he was the leader of the village youths at an early age. His Father, Prince Morg, was well satisfied with his child and he knew the young Prince would go far in his life.
Like his Father, he excelled at sports, particularly Bis. Even other vampire lads could not catch him as he ran the bases. Yet, there was no jealousy, his even temperament won him friends and loyalty wherever he went.
As with all children of the Kingdom, he was required to go to school, the young prince was a powerful telepath and he was daylight tolerant, like his Father. Also, like his Father, he was on constant guard against the Weres who might hurt or injure his friends.
Prince Gard absorbed knowledge like a sponge, his teachers were constantly challenged by the Young Prince, if there were any inconsistencies in their classroom presentations, Prince Gard spotted them. He was a teacher's worst nightmare; he had a photographic memory and was articulate and precise in his communication skills. He was, however, unfailingly polite and he never disrupted class when he pointed out inconsistencies in his teacher's presentations. In response, the quality of the lessons rose immeasurably.
At a young age, his powerful talents began to emerge, he was a projector like his father, Prince Morg, and he was also a cloaker, that is, he could project a living image over his own shape to mask his person. His mind barrier was of such great strength, only his father could force his shields. With those two gifts, he could cloak himself as a tree and set his shields so that none but his own father could detect him. In his adult life, not even his Father would be capable of cracking his shields!
He was also a skilled distance communicator, he had yet to discover sufficient distance that he could not mind-speak with another of his kind. Like most of his fellow vampires, the young Prince had a love of life and a strong sense of responsibility towards those less gifted, particularly humans and their young. He took being Prince of Vampires very seriously, he knew his kind had been the traditional protectors of Humankind and he intended to bring back that protection.
Prince Gard would allow no bully to torment those who were smaller or weaker; the few that tried soon learned to mend their ways in a hurry! His fame as protector brought the small human children to him.
A crying child would bring the Prince's small, immature fangs into full drop and his eyes glowing bright red. Few bullies had the courage to face him, and those that tried were grateful to at least survive the encounter!
The affairs of the Kingdom kept Prince Morge busy, their borders were not yet fully secure and there remained remnants of the Were Folk, Ghouls, rogue Ogres and Cannibals residing in the high mountains nearby and the ruined cities of the before people.
Prince Morg would have let them live their lives in peace, but those folk looked on the humans of the Kingdom as their lawful prey and food. Word came that the small community of Glo been attacked and many of its humans carried off. None of the Vampire kind lived in that area any longer and the Weres took advantage that there were none who could stop them.
The Prince's anger was monumental; his home shone bright red as his angry eyes glowed and his fangs hung in full drop.
Gard felt his Father's anger and came running to assist, when he learned the cause, he said, "Father, you must go. I will remain here and, with help from Jacob, stand stead for you in your place until you return."
The diminutive Vampire Prince watched as his Father led his troops out of the Capital Town of Ora. He turned to his Father's Prime Minister, Jacob, and said, "Call out the Home Guard; I shall set sentries around us to protect our folk."
Jacob thought, "This boy is as gifted as his Father."
Gard giggled, "You taught me well, Jacob of the Grengo!"
Both Prince Gard and his Father were distance senders and could communicate with each other over great distances. Prince Gard was in conference with his Father's Ministers when, suddenly, his face went blank, then his eyes went ruby red and the young vampire's immature fangs went into full drop, "My Father has been attacked, he is holed up in Wiken and requires our assistance!"
He continued. "Call out the reserves, I shall lead! My Father must be rescued from these fiends!"
None of the Ministers were willing to challenge such a powerful being as the Young Prince had become, they looked on as he belted on the long knife his Father had made special for him and grabbed his iron tipped pike. No adult human could wield that sword that the young Prince used so casually.
The warriors were falling in before the home of their Ruling Prince, awaiting his son's orders. The warriors were a combined force of vampires and humans, all in top physical condition.
They took off at a distance eating lope, with young Prince Gard leading them down the old Before People road that led to Wiken. Only the most fit of the warriors were able to maintain the pace set by the Young Prince Gard.
They maintained their pace far into the night, until they spotted the fires of those attacking his Father. Prince Gard called his men to a halt and told them to rest until daybreak, that his Father and his troops were safe for the moment.
He had 100 Prime Warriors under his command, the Young Prince waited until dawn began to break and then he attacked the rear of those besieging his Father. They attacked with such ferocity that half the force of Rogue Ogres and Were Folk were dead before they even realized they were being attacked!
Prince Gard led from the front, his huge knife slashing and stabbing those who were attacking his Father. He was in constant communication with Prince Morg and, when the fiends realized they were being attacked from the rear, they turned upon their new enemy.
That was the moment that Prince Morg was waiting for and he and his forces fell upon them from their rear, within minutes, all that remained of the Ogres and Were Folk were piles of bodies, parts and bloody gore sinking into the sandy desert soil.
It was a proud father who embraced his son and heir, "You have learned your lessons well, my son. Had you not come and not done what you did, I and my Warriors would not have survived."
Gard replied, "I had fine teachers and you to emulate."
Prince Morg kept his son with him as they proceeded on to Glo. When the combined forces arrived, the occupying force fled in fear, leaving their wounded behind.
The Warriors of AZ harassed the attackers all the way back to their lair in the deep mountains, where the Warriors left none alive. Both the Reigning Prince and his son believed that the only good enemy was a dead enemy!
They returned to Ora and Prince Morg again took up the reins of his government while Prince Gard returned to his studies, a hero among his classmates and the subject of many tales by the Warriors he had led! The smaller boys decided both individually and collectively that they were going to be Prince Gard's Own Warriors!
Time passed and two human boys, Mat and Dix became his special friends. Gard knew his time was coming. Mat and Dix truly loved their Vampire friend and were his constant companions. They would be his constant companions for the remainder of his long life, for those who became the spouses of a vampire drew life energy from him and shared that vampire's longevity.
The lifespan of a vampire was measured in centuries and Prince Gard would be one of longest lived of his kind!
While the vampires were a small segment of society, they were open and frank with their human friends, so it was not a shock to the humans when Prince Gard chose two human boys as his companions. After all, the companions of the young prince's father, Alin and Jeri remained part of Prince Morg's household and were greatly loved by the Ruling Prince.
From the Young Prince's fiery red hair, they knew that Jeri was one of his fathers, and they were sure that Alin was the other. None were surprised nor were they concerned about young Prince Gard's choice of companions.
As Prince Gard's 20th winter approached, he began showing the classic signs of molt, he became nervous and irritable, his hands shook and he had trouble sleeping at night. He began refusing food, although it was well known that he had a very healthy appetite.
His companions, Mat and Dix looked their twenty years, but Prince Gard still resembled a five year old boy. The day came when the Young Prince announced, "It is time, I must molt."
His Father had a special chamber built for his son to spend his two month molt. Gard entered the chamber and closed it behind him. Mat and Dix remained on guard outside the chamber, allowing none but Prince Morg to come near.
They felt Gard in their minds and, at one point, were in meld with the molting Prince, their minds in perfect communion with each other. They both loved Prince Gard and both knew they were destined to be more than just brothers!
At the end of the two months, they all, Vampire Folk and Human Folk alike, felt energy radiating from the chamber and they knew the young Prince had successfully survived his molt!
The door opened and an Adult Vampire emerged, his flaming red hair clearly identifying him as Prince Gard. It shone like a great light, making him recognizable from a great distance.
The Prince was ravenous, there was food set out for him and he consumed it all and asked that more be brought to him.
He stood before his Father in all his naked glory as he had not yet dressed in his new clothes and he announced, "I must go forth I have a quest I must perform." Those watching as the Prince confronted his Father, who shuddered. They had never seen such a massive creature as this young Vampire Prince.
Turning to his companions, Mat and Dix, he said, "You must remain here as I must perform this quest myself." He pulled on the clothing that had been laid out for him and he departed from Ora.
He remained in contact with his companions and they knew what he was about. Mat and Dix thoroughly approved of what their spouse was doing and Gard knew the two would support his project.
Prince Gard traveled over the mountains to the community of Ben. There, the wells had failed and the inhabitants were dying.
The people of Ben had no knowledge of the Kingdom and only vague legends of the Vampires.
Gard stood before the village elders, "I am Prince Gard, son of Prince Morg, Lord of the Vampire Folk and Ruler of the Kingdom of AZ. I come to you to invite you to join with us, to leave this place of dying despair and be part of the Kingdom of AZ."
One Elder asked, "You will not hurt us or our people?"
Gard smiled, "No, Old Father, open your minds to me and I will show you how we live" It would have been an unforgiveable sin had the Prince violated the minds of the Humans without permission or it being an extreme emergency.
The Elders hesitantly dropped their shields and opened their minds as Gard projected to them life in Ora and other villages within the Kingdom.
Another Elder asked, "Why did you ask our permission, your power could have shattered our poor shields?"
Gard replied, "It is not my purpose to force you, we live together, Humans and Vampire, in peace and harmony. My Father is The Ruling Prince, but all his ministers are Human and our Warriors are both. Without respect for one another, we shall not survive. I will not commit sin against you or your folk, save it be a matter of life or death."
The nearly starved folk of Ben decided to follow this strange Young Prince back to his home of Ora, where they were promised help in founding new homes and farms.
The young children of Ben were too malnourished and to walk the distance was beyond them, so Prince Gard mind called for help. His companions, Mat and Dix responded as did several young Vampires.
The villagers were astounded when a dozen young men came running over the crest of a hill and scooped up their failing children in their arms. There was no question that some of them were Vampires like the Prince, their eyes were glowing red and fangs protruded beyond their lips.
They stared as two of the young Human men hugged and kissed the Prince, before they gathered up children themselves and began leading the exhausted adults towards sanctuary.
Prince Gard spoke to the villagers, "Do not fear us, only those who would harm you or hurt these children need fear. We take you to a place of refuge where you will live in our own homes until your own homes are ready for you."
As they came down the last hill of their journey, the folk of Ora met them with food and water and led them to their own homes where they might rest and recover.
Gard reported to his Father and Ministers, "I bring you 120 villagers who would not have survived another month in Ben. These folk are mine to love and protect. I wish to settle them in the old village of Mam, next to the Ped River."
Prince Morg and his Ministers agreed and, as soon as the Elders of Ben had recovered from their ordeal, Prince Gard led them down the mountain to the old, abandoned village of Mam.
The Before People had abandoned it long ago and, there, they found flowing water in the Ped River and fertile fields in the surrounding valley. The Elders were incredulous, they looked at the youthful Prince and asked, "We are not part of your folk, you would just gift us this land?"
Gard replied, "My Father and I are building a new nation, together we will bring our folk, Human AND Vampire out of the darkness and into the light of a return to civilization. There will be schools for your children and opportunities for your young folk, markets for your produce and you will be protected by our warriors."
One man asked, "What will all this cost us?"
Gard said, "Only that you join with us in this effort and contribute to the common good of all of us."
Just then, Mat and Dix arrived with a work force of young men, both Human and Vampire. They began to clean up the old houses and repair collapsed roofs. They waved at the young of the new villagers, inviting them to help. Soon, there were young men of both races laughing and shouting to each other as they restored the old homes in a companionship that would last beyond lifetimes.
They did not see Prince Morg and his Ministers standing above them on the hill, watching their Young Prince becoming a man and a leader.
By nightfall, all the new villagers were housed under their own roofs and eating a meal that only a few days earlier, they could have only dreamed about. For the first time in living memory, their children went to sleep with full stomachs and were not crying of hunger pangs.
A PRINCE BECOMES A LEADER
Prince Gard assumed command of the Warriors and he stationed garrisons in each town, some had Human commanders and others were Vampire but they all had one thing in common, they were powerful mind-speakers and they were absolutely loyal to their folk and their prince.
Prince Gard expected a report each morning from every Garrison Commander. A failure to report brought a swift visit from the Prince at the head of a troop of Warriors, along with the Commander's replacement!
He made routine visits to every village, town and hamlet in the Kingdom and he sat with each Headman or Elder to learn of problems, complaints and concerns they might have. Nothing was too minor to be of interest to the young Vampire Prince. As Prince and Heir, he sat in judgment of civil matters, referring only the gravest of matters to the Reigning Prince.
The one capital crime he would adjudicate was Child Abuse and punishment was swift and terrible, the perpetrator rarely survived!
It was a brave parent who could stand before a frightening apparition with burning red eyes and extended fangs, while he or she attempted to explain their actions of abuse or failure to care properly for their children!
He was hearing complaints in Flor when he heard a faint plea for help. He listened closely and broadcast, "I cannot locate you, call me again!"
The mind plea came again, "We are in the ruins of Mes and are surrounded by Were Folk and Ogres; we cannot last much longer before they break in. We fear they mean us to be their supper!"
He remanded the case to the local Elders and mind-screamed for his troops to assemble. He had 150 Warriors in a combined force of Humans and Vampires with him and they set off along the old Before People road at a fast trot, Prince Gard at the head of the column.
He mind-sent, "We are coming from Flor and should be with you before darkfall. Can you hold out?"
Another sender broke in, "This is Dol, I command the Buck Garrison; we shall meet you, Prince Gard, at the central square of Mes. I bring 50 Warriors."
The frightened sender from Mes sent, "We are holding, but I fear at darkfall we shall be overrun. We have 60 children with us whom we rescued from Supor!"
At that, the Prince increased the tempo to a dead run. They were in a race against the sun and they must not fail, the fate of the folk of Mes and the children they had rescued hung in the balance.
Failure was not an option!
The shadows were growing long as the Prince and his racing Warriors entered the outskirts of Mes. As they entered the ancient central square of Mes, the vampires' eyes were glowing like headlamps in the growing darkfall. From a distance, they looked like the legendary Legions from The Pits of Hell!
They hit the ranks of Ogres and Were Folk like a game of bowls, the fiends landed in the dirt as pieces, parts and puddles of gore.
The force from Buck hit them from the opposite side, all that could be heard were the screams of Were Folk and Ogres in great pain.
Were Folk had grabbed a few children and were attempting to run off with them, they were caught between the Warriors from Buck and an angry Warrior force led the Prince. One could gauge the anger of a Vampire by the intensity of the red glow of his eyes. These Vampires lit up the land like a red sun!
The Weres threw down the children and attempted to flee, still, none of them survived.
The Ogres attempted to surrender, but they, also, had abducted children. They dropped the children, hoping to escape as the Warriors stopped to rescue the children.
No Ogre survived. However, Prince Gard noted that none of the children dropped by the Ogres had been harmed or mutilated. Such was not the case of the children rescued from the Weres.
The two forces combined and spent the night in Mes. The Prince mind-spoke with his Father and the next morning a combined force of Warriors from Buck, Warriors from Mes and The Prince's own Warriors began to search the ruins of Phix for the Were Nest. The Were Folk traditionally burrowed beneath the surface of the ground or used the basements of ruined Before People buildings for their nests. The Weres' lairs always smelled of rotting meat and could be smelled from a great distance.
They knew the Ogres would less difficult to find as their fires would give them away, as they were a surface folk who also farmed and grew crops.
They searched every cavern, hole and sewer for the Were Nest without finding the nest. Gard commanded his men to stand easy and he began to cast his mind around the city of the ancients, sensing patterns and movement.
At last, he detected movement, there was a cave beneath one of the ruined towers; he willed his senses into the cavity and found a whole community of Weres, it was a giant Nest.
There are few things that will hurt a Were, but the smoke from burning yellowstone is one of them. He sent a group of warriors in search of yellowstone, it was frequently found at openings in the earth where the great bombs of the ancients had disturbed the natural forces beneath the surface.
The warriors came back with many baskets of the soft, yellow rock. Prince Gard ordered a great fire to be built, then he ordered the baskets of yellowstone to be brought, he placed hot coals from the fires in the baskets filled with yellowstone and had them placed at the ancient ventilation holes that supplied fresh air to the caverns beneath the broken towers. Soon, dense yellow clouds of smoke were roiling off the baskets of the burning yellow rock and powder. The smoke was being drawn onto the caverns that held the Were Nests.
Every time the Weres tried to break out, the Warriors forced them back into their nests, they kept the burning yellowstone at the ventilation holes all night long. The next morning, Prince Gard ordered the burning baskets removed and the fires extinguished.
After the yellowish haze had dissipated, he led a group of warriors into the nests, no Weres remained alive. The entire coloney of Weres lay dead on the floor of their cavern.
A group of Ogres approached, waving a white flag of truce. They asked for parley with their leading chieftain.
Prince Gard replied, "There will be no parley, complete surrender immediately is your only choice."
He turned to his Commanders and ordered the baskets of yellowstone to be brought forward and made ready. The Ogre party ran back to their own caverns and forced their High Chieftain before the Prince at spear point. The yellowstone was not poisonous to them but its vapors burned their eyes and throats. Their children would suffocate in its fumes.
Prince Gard dictated the terms of treaty to the Ogre High Chieftain;
The Ogres of Phix will cease all hostilities against the folk of the Kingdom.
The Ogres of Phix will deliver 100 bullocks of stelbar to the Governor of Phix each year, until there are no more Ogres.
The Ogres of Phix will contribute 200 Warriors to be placed under the Command of the Heir to the Kingdom, Prince Gard, or any subsequent Heir.
The Heir to the High Chieftain of the Ogres shall be raised from infancy by the Reigning Prince of the Kingdom for so long as there is the sun in the sky.
The High Chieftain of the Ogres and all his folk shall submit to the rule of the Reigning Prince of the Kingdom, for so long as there is the sun in the sky.
The High Chieftain asked, "Who be Governor of Phix?"
Prince Gard smiled, "I be Governor of Phix"
The High Chieftain was trapped, his own folk forced him to agree to this treaty and a nightmare Vampire Prince, with glowing red eyes and fangs would oversee his compliance.
He agreed to the treaty and, for the first time in 600 years, there was peace in the Valley of Phix.
A WARRIOR PRINCE
Prince Gard paraded his Warrior Command out of the Valley of Phix, headed back to their Capital. Between the Company of Home Warriors and the Company of Warriors of Buck, marched a despondent Company of Ogres.
The Ogres were fully armed and allowed to keep their own officers. Prince Gard and his Father thought that they should have a little pride left and that would help them become loyal Warriors of The Kingdom of AZ in time.
As they marched through the village of Flo, boys came out to taunt the defeated Ogre Warriors, until they saw a frightening visage; a red eyed Vampire Warrior Prince staring at them, with his fangs were fully extended!
The boys suddenly decided they had important business elsewhere, RIGHT NOW!
That night, they made camp the bottom of the mountain on which the Capital, Ora, sat. The Senior Captain of the Ogre force approached Prince Gard and bowed, "My Lord, Prince Gard, I wish to speak of my humble gratitude for the actions of your Warrior Officers. We are a defeated people and your officers prevented our torment from small boys in Flo. We expected torture and we received kindness. We expected slavery and we received honorable treatment. We and our kind have been wrong; you and your kind are not the monsters we have always thought you to be."
The Ogre Captain then knelt before Prince Gard and placed his head in the Prince's hands, "Lord Prince, I pledge my fealty and that of all my men to your service, we are yours to command."
The folk of the Kingdom looked and saw that all of the Ogre Warriors were kneeling, repeating their Captain's oath.
Prince Gard scanned their minds and saw no deceit in any of them.
He said, "I, Prince Gard, Prince of the Kingdom of AZ, Heir to the Rulership of all Vampires, Heir to the Kingdom of AZ accept your Oath of Fealty and do declare you Warriors of AZ."
He continued, "So I have spoken, so shall it be."
He was transmitting all that was done and spoken, as it was happening, to his Father, who sent back to him, "Son, you have done what no one has ever been able to do, win the hearts and loyalty of Ogres! Well done my son!"
A small Ogre Boy was standing next to Prince Gard and he asked, "Does that mean that we can be friends now, Prince Gard?"
The Prince smiled and replied, "Yes, Prince Gok, I guess we are friends now."
The next morning, the combined force of Warriors, Human Vampire and Ogre, marched up the Before People Road to Ora. The citizenry was out, lining the road and they were screaming Prince Gard's name!
Prince Morg had released the information concerning his son's Diplomatic Achievement. Prince Gard marched at the head of his Warriors and stopped before his Father. He motioned his Warrior Captains to stand with him, including Ogre Warrior Captain Jat. He then presented each of the Captains to the Reigning Prince and then he presented his Father with the signed treaty with the Ogre Folk of Phix. He reported that 100 bullocks of stelbar was being loaded and would be sent in the next few days for the forges of Ora.
The Ogre Warriors were surprised; they were assigned quarters along with the other Warriors, by rank not race! Gard also introduced young Prince Gok, as the Ogre Heir. The youngster turned shy and hid behind Gard's leg, Prince Morg leaned over and ran his fingers down the child's ribs and got a giggle out of him.
As the Warriors were dismissed to Quarters, Prince Gard suddenly doubled over in pain.
Ogre Captain Jat caught the Heir before he fell to the ground.
Mat and Dix pushed their way to his side and took the Prince from him.
Captain Jat feared he would be blamed for injuring the Prince, but Jeri reassured him that was not the case, the Prince was about to give birth.
The poor Captain was confused, "But he is a man!"
Mat replied, "Yes, but he is a Vampire Man! Let us care for him and then I will explain. Come, be with us, Captain Jat."
Mat and Dix rushed Gard to his room and undressed him. After laying him in the bed and covering him with blankets, Mat went for hot water and clean towels, while Dix explained the facts of Vampire life, that Vampires were both male and female and that there were no female Vampires.
The baby would be a boy.
The poor Captain's head was swimming, he stood aside and Gard screamed, "He is coming!" Mat got back just in time with the hot water and towels.
Captain Jat stood goggle-eyed as he watched something no Ogre had ever seen or had even known, a male Vampire giving birth to a baby male Vampire!
Like his Daddy, the baby had fiery red hair, Gard named him Borth.
Unlike humans, a Vampire parent recovers almost immediately. Within the hour, flanked by Mat and Dix, Gard presented Prince Borth to the Reigning Prince and new Grandfather, Prince Morg.
That they allowed Ogre Captain Jat to be present for such an intimate happening as the birth of a Royal Heir, humbled the Ogre Warrior. He would be Prince Gard's "man" for the remainder of his long life.
Ogres were nearly as long lived as their close relatives, the Vampires.
With the Kingdom at peace, Gard had time to visit all the villages and towns in the Kingdom, showing everyone the new Heir.
There was a new bodyguard force for the young Family, headed by Ogre Captain Jat, and included a Human Warrior, Rob and a Vampire Warrior Lopin.
For a while, Captain Jat was an object of curiosity and fear, but as time passed and the novelty wore off and he was accepted into the Fraternity of Warriors. That Prince Gard trusted the Ogre Captain to carry his baby son went a long ways in gaining acceptance to him and the other Ogre Warriors.
Trust began to build and the peace was kept for many, many long generations.
The Were Folk of Phix never again became a force, there were so few of them that survived, they kept to themselves and were hardly ever seen again.
When the Ogres of the High Reaches began to learn of the Ogre Warriors and their part of the Kingdom's forces, they started to explore avenues of communication with the Kingdom. Very few years passed before there were signed treaties between the Kingdom and the Ogre Tribes of the High Reaches.
Each Ogre Tribe wanted their treaty to be negotiated by Prince Gard.
The borders of the Kingdom expanded from the Great River Col to the Deserts of Mex and eastward to the dead plains of Tex, where the blue glow of the Before People bombs had poisoned the land.