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The Ancients
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By Samantha Thompson

The Ancients

It was a cold, wet day. I was only twelve years old, but there I was, down at the docks, completely unsupervised, excitedly watching the ships come in. My Father was on one of those ships - he was the Captain of the ‘Fair Maiden’, and I was very proud of him.
That was when I saw his ship pull into the docks. I watched him run down the gangplank to greet me.
“Father!” I exclaimed, running towards him.
“Will, my boy!” He laughed, hugging me tightly. “How have you been while I was away, eh? Were you good for dear Trisha?” He grinned broadly.
I nodded and said “Of course, Father. I do it for you.” And I gave him a grin to rival his own. He laughed and hoisted his bag over his shoulder. I took his free hand and we walked home together.

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“How was your trip, Father?” I asked, curious as always.
“Not as interesting as my last. But, I did find something I think you will like…” He answered, pulling a small stone statuette out of his pocket.
“Oh, Father!” I exclaimed. It was a statuette of the Ancient Mashun God, Hamuna. Hamuna was said to be the god of Peace and Forgiveness, the immortal enemy of Arazef, God of War and Fury, and his evil minion Baz. Arazef was especially known for his evil fleet of vampires, blood-sucking creatures that never tire, never grow old, and are freakish to behold. It was said that Hamuna and the rest of the Gods banished Arazef, Baz, and his vampires to the Underworld, to suffer for eternity.
“I had hoped you would be pleased, my son.” Said my Father, smiling. He knew how much I loved to study the Ancient Mashun tribes. They certainly fascinated me.
I picked up the statuette and held it up to the sunlight streaming in the window. Hamuna was holding a little red ruby. I could tell immediately that it wasn’t real. My Father had brought one back from his travels. And it shined twice as brightly as the one I was looking.
“This is fantastic! Where did you get it?” I asked, my eyes unnaturally wide in excitement.
“Well, We were at port in Peru. I was taking a short down the waterfront, when I saw an old woman sitting behind a trinket stall. She told me that your particular statuette was found in an ancient Mashun ruin, presumed to be a temple.” My Father explained. “The old woman knew many a thing.”
I sat there and thought about that old woman. She must have been very knowledgeable to know such thing, and to have such precious items in her possession.
“Father, may I put this in my room?” I asked.
“Of course, my child. Dinner is at seven.” I called to me as I scampered off. As I ran off, mind was far away from the old woman, and much more concerned about my stomach.

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It was two days later that I thought about that old woman again. I walked into the dining room to address my Father.
“Father, you remember the old woman that sold you the Hamuna statuette?” I asked casually.
“Yes, I do. Why do you want to know?” he asked me, matching my casual tone.
“I was just wondering if she had told you anything more about the Ancient Mashun.”
“No, my boy. She only spoke of the statuette, now in your possession.” He replied, shaking his head.
I nodded and sighed. I had high hopes that the old woman had said something that could further my study of the Ancient Mashun. I then took leave from my father and went to my study.
I was about to start re-reading a book of Ancient Mashun fables, when I had an idea. I would visit my friend Emily Benedict, who lived on the other side of town. Emily and her widowed mother, Rita, were the only major female influences in my life, except from my supervisor, Trisha.
I hurried back to the dining room to ask my Father’s permission. He nodded and said I may go, but only as long as Trisha came with me.
I groaned inwardly. Don’t get me wrong, Trisha’s great, but at twelve years old, I believed myself old enough to go anywhere unsupervised. My Father obviously thought differently.
“I sighed and gave in. Father then rang for Trisha, who called for the carriage to be brought out front. I ran to my room to grab my long coat.
“William!” Trisha called. “Come on, you little rascal. The carriage is ready!”
I took no offense to that. I knew she meant it affectionately. I was about to run downstairs again, when I remembered the Hamuna statuette. Emily was more fascinated by The Ancient Mashun than I was. She could even read and speak the language fluently. I snatched it up and ran frantically to the stairs.
I quickly took the stairs two at a time, trying to make up for any lost time. I sprinted out the door and took a flying leap through the open carriage door. I could have sworn that I heard the driver chuckle.
“Tsk, tsk. Having a dramatic day, are we?” Trisha said sternly, but I could see a laughing sparkle in her eyes.
“Go.” She called to the driver. I smiled and looked at the statuette in my hands. I just knew Emily was going to go crazy over it.

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KNOCK, KNOCK! I hammered on Emily’s front door. Trisha and I were only standing around for a little while, when the Butler, Charlie, let us in.
“Hello Charlie. How is everybody?” I asked cheerfully.
“Very well, young sir. I assume you wish to see our young miss Emily?” He queried, with a small smile.
“Spot on, as usual. Where is she?” I replied, smiling in response.
“She’s in the Parlor. You do know the way?” He said, though he knew the answer. I simply nodded and left Trisha and Charlie deep in conversation.
I quickly reached the Parlor door and knocked politely.
“Will? Is that you?” Emily asked. She opened the door and her eyes brightened. She drew me into a great bear hug, then stepped back.
“Will, it’s been over a month. What have you been doing? I’ve missed you.” She said, watching as I put down my coat. I said nothing, but I simply opened my palm to reveal the Hamuna statuette.
Emily gasped and carefully plucked it from my hand to inspect it.
“This is amazing, where did you get it?” She said, flicking through one of the books on her desk.
“My Father bought it in Peru from an old woman.” I replied.
“Amazing. This statuette is one of the only two of its kind found anywhere!” She said, staring at it wide-eyed. “Oh, Will, you’re so lucky…”
“Thanks, Emily. Oh, how would you feel about going into town?” I asked her, distracting her for a moment. “Didn’t Professor Morghan say that he’d be getting in a new text today?”
“Oh! I’d almost forgotten. That would be just wonderful, Will.” She said, smiling at me. I laughed. When she gets distracted from something, at always gets totally forgotten, and she can’t remember it at all.
“Your carriage or mine?” I asked, bending to pick up my discarded coat.
“Yours. It’s much more convenient, and I like yours better.” She replied, getting her coat from the other side of the Parlor.
Emily and I walked out of the Parlor and back to the front hall, where Trisha and Charlie were still deep in conversation.
“Charlie,” Emily said, distracting Charlie from his conversation. “Will and I are going to see the Professor. Can you tell Mother?”
“Certainly, young miss. Do you require either myself or Miss Trisha?” Charlie said, although he clearly knew the answer.
“No, but thank you anyway.” She replied. Being 15, Emily was allowed to go out to friend’s houses unsupervised - as long as I was with her, of course. Her parents were much more lenient with their daughter than my Father was with me.
I led Emily outside and helped her into the carriage. She started giggling like she always did when I was being so gentlemanly.
I got in and gave the driver the directions, and just as we were leaving, Rita appeared in the doorway, waving to us as we drove off. We waved back cheerfully as the carriage took us on our way. Little did we know then of the perils soon to come.

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“Children!” Professor Morghan exclaimed. “So good to see you. Oh, and I have that script you wanted Emily. I hope it’s what you wanted.”
He took us inside and led us to his study.
“Drinks?” he asked us. We shook our heads. The Professor went behind his desk and retrieved two sheets of paper, one old and yellowed, the other crisp and white. They both were coved in confusing markings, which I quickly recognized as Ancient Mashun writing.
“Wow.” That was all Emily could say. She’d only read about these scripts, or seen copies. Seeing a true script had clearly blown her away. She stared at the script, already mentally changing the writing from Ancient Mashun to English.
She and the Professor conferred over the meanings of certain words and letters, while I looked around the study. Emily was more into the writings of the Ancient Mashun; I was more interested about the Ancient artifacts, like my statuette of Hamuna. The Professor had many artifacts. One of the looked like a shrunken head, while another looked like a contortionist on a cloud.
“Will, could I see that Hamuna statuette of yours?” The Professor asked suddenly, as if an idea had just popped into his head. I nodded and handed it to him. I watched as he inspected it, clearly looking for something. Suddenly he smiled, and threaded an old-looking chain through a near invisible hole on the top of the statuette.
“Here you are, Will.” He said, placing it around my neck. “This was an amulet that the Priests would wear to ward off vampires. No vampire would come near a temple if they could see an amulet about the neck of the temple priest.”
I didn’t need to ask how he knew that I had the amulet; it was clear that Emily had told him.
“No vampire except Arazef.” Emily muttered, her eyes still glued to the page. I nodded absently and walked to the door of the study.
“Emily, did you want to stay here, or did you want to come with me? I have to go to the Tailors with Trisha.” I asked, opening the door.
“I’ll come. I’m finished for now, anyway.” She said, breaking away from the page. We quickly said our goodbyes and hastily left. I didn’t want to keep Trisha waiting. She would have gotten rather mad, which was not something I enjoyed causing.

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Emily came with Trisha and I to the Tailors. I did try to tell her how boring it would be, but she insisted. It was getting dark by the time we got there. It took at least a half-hour to do the fittings, but at last I was free. Trisha let Emily and I go visit the neighboring stores while she tied up the last few things there.
We went out and quickly dashed past the dark alley next door. Nobody knew quite what was down there, and nobody really had the nerve to find out.
Emily pushed open the door of the closest store. We knew it well. A Miss Marcia Sythwyke, who believed herself to be a Psychic, owned the store.
“Ah, Will, Emily. My little bambinos.” Marcia said in her Italian drawl.
“Hello Marcia. How are you?” Emily asked her. Emily liked Marcia. She liked that Marcia was different, and didn’t care what anyone said about her.
“Oh, just fine, darling. But come, come. I have a feeling you may want to see this… especially you, Will.” She said mysteriously. She pushed her graying hair away from her face and sat behind her special prediction table. She looked eerily pale in the moonlight. Emily and I joined her at the table.
Marcia picked up a cup, containing five small square stones, each one with a different picture on each side.
She threw the stones onto the table, where they landed with a thump. The five faces we could see showed a picture of a lantern, a bat, a heart, a tear and a skull.
“Every time I throw my truthstones thinking of you, my darling Will, these five signs repeatedly appear.” Marcia said, staring off into the distance.
“What do they mean?” I whispered.
“I cannot say for sure, but I believe that death is not far off, Will. Heed my warning, and beware of the darkness. And take care of those you care about,” That was her cryptic answer.
I looked at Emily, and she had the worried look on her face I no doubt shared.
I thanked Marcia, and told her that I would take extra care of myself.
As Emily and I made to leave, an idea came to me.
“Marcia,” I asked, “You haven’t been to Peru lately, have you?”
“Why, yes, I have. I sold some of my wares down by the Waterfront. I only sold a few items, sadly. Why?” She asked, looking curious.
“Oh, no reason.” I said as casually as possible.
Marcia simply nodded and bid us farewell.
We quickly came outside the store, into the near-darkness.
“What was that all about?” Emily asked me, looking exceptionally curious.
“Well, Father bought this amulet,” I said, holding it up, “from an old woman at the Waterfront in Peru. I’m sure it was Marcia.”
Emily gasped, but agreed that the story was quite plausible.
We hurried back past the dark alley and stood awhile outside the Tailors, catching our breath. After a short while I pushed open the door, closely followed by Emily.
“Trisha! Are you ready to go?” I called out. I heard a muffled yelp from the back of the store.
“Trisha?!” Emily called, beginning to worry. Once more I heard the muffled yelp from the back of the store.
I took Emily’s hand and brought her with me. I quickly picked up a hammer, thinking of using it as a weapon. Emily snatched up a long wooden pole, holding it close to herself.
Emily and I crept towards the only closed door at the back of the store. Cautiously, I nudged the door open a bit. Hearing no reaction, I hurriedly kicked open the door.
“Run, Will! Take Emily and RUN!” Trisha yelled at me.
I stood there in shock. Trisha was being held dangerously in the arms of the Tailor, who suddenly had red eyes and pointy white teeth!
Before I could move, the vampire had snapped Trisha’s neck, and let her slump to the floor, dead.
Heeding Trisha’s final demand, I took Emily’s hand and made a dash for the front door, dragging her with me.
“WILL!” Emily screamed as I pushed open the door. I turned, and acting on impulse, pulled the amulet into view. The vampire screamed, and ran out the door.
Emily ran after it, and I followed, remembering Marcia’s prediction.
The Vampire ran down the dark alley, with Emily on its heels. I took a nearby lantern and followed them into the darkness.
As Emily and I chased the Vampire, I thought about the Hamuna Amulet around my neck. I was amazed that it truly did repel vampires. Having some protection against these evil creatures was no doubt a virtue.
Suddenly the Vampire jumped down a hole. I was contemplating whether or not we should follow, when Emily jumped down too. I groaned inwardly, and then I jumped into the darkness.

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It was dark. Very dark. The lantern had gone out when I had jumped, so there was no light at all.
“Emily?” I whispered. I felt her grab my hand and squeeze it. I squeezed it back. I was glad I wasn’t alone.
Slowly I walked forward, one hand in Emily’s, the other feeling the way ahead.
Suddenly I touched something as cold as ice, and as smooth as skin. I nearly yelped, when a cold hand covered my mouth.
“Come with usss. Our Massster wishesss to sssee you.” A raspy voice said, his voice slithery as a snake's. Emily gripped my hand tighter. I tried to squeeze her hand in reassurance, but my hand was paralyzed. Panic began to set in, and I began to wonder whether or not we’d make it out alive.

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Suddenly our captors threw us into a room with blinding lights. For a moment, I couldn’t see anything but white.
Then I looked up. I was staring at an evil looking man. He sat on his throne like a dictator, totally in power. On his left was a short red haired, red-eyed man that I recognized from a drawing.
“Baz.” I whispered. I remembered that Baz never went anywhere without his master, so that could only mean that…
“I am Arazef, God of War and Fury.” Said the dictator man, as though he had heard my thoughts.
I quickly looked around me, looking for Emily. I saw her held by two strong vampires.
“Let Emily go!” I yelled in frustration.
“Hmmm. Let me think…" HE paused for effect. "No." Arazef said, laughing evilly. Emily screamed, but they still wouldn’t let her go.
Then, in a moment of desperation, I remembered the amulet. I quickly pulled it into view. But Arazef just laughed and crushed it in his hand.
That was when I heard Emily cry. She knew there was no way out. She knew we were as good as dead.
“Just for that moment of insolence, you will have to pay the price.” Arazef said, with an evil glint in his eye. I was hauled to my feet and chained to the wall.
“No! Will!” Emily screamed. I could see the panic rising in her face. I attempted a reassuring smile, but Emily could see that even I knew what was coming. She wrestled her captors, trying desperately to get to me. Her attempts were totally fruitless.
I wished that Emily didn’t have to watch my agony, the terrible change go through me as I went from human to vampire. I wished I had been able to save Trisha. I wished that I could see my father one last time, and tell him everything. I wished that I’d been able to stop Emily from going down the dark alley. I just wished that none of it had ever happened.
“Stay strong, Emily. Stay strong.” I said, my voice thick with emotion. She looked at me for the last time, with helpless eyes, and tears streaming down her face. I longed to tell her that everything would be ok, but I knew it wouldn’t.
And then that evil Baz leant towards me, coming in for the bite, his red eyes gleaming. I was doomed - and all I could do was pray that Emily would get out alive. As he bent towards me, I knew it was too late.

~THE END~



Brian Falkner Books