Totentanz (Dance of Death), Prologue

toten p00 cryptSound. A door opening in the distance of this darkness.Sight. A light at the end of a tunnel. This should not be happening. This was supposed to be my eternal rest. It would seem I am needed once more.

 

"Ready the chalice!" I heard one voice, male, say. If I had the capacity, I would have sighed. However, despite my senses being functional, I was effectively comatose. Had they come to kill me, I would be helpless to stop them. I heard somebody prying my coffin door open, heard the bang of the wooden lid being split as it broke under the force of whatever tool they were using. I started to wonder if my senses would cease; proof that they had come here to end my existence.

I could feel someone gently painting on my forehead, and I knew instantly what it was they were doing; it was the seal of the Midwinter Coven. This was an age-old ritual that had not been used since the days of the Coven War, used to awaken the coven leaders. How these strangers knew of a ritual that had not been used in at least two-hundred years was a little unsettling, I admit, but it seemed too urgent for them to just be children too stupid to know better.

They were talking about something, but I felt the Blood Seal absorb into my flesh, and their words became indistinguishable as my strength returned. Almost instantly, I was alive again, as though I had not been sleeping for decades. As my eyes opened, I saw five figures, all clad in black, kneeling as ancient custom dictated; on one knee, right hand balled into a fist over their heart, head bowed parallel to the ground.

It was the sign of addressing a superior.

"Lord Revenant," their apparent leader addressed me, not lifting his gaze. I could tell from his voice that he was the one who had mentioned the chalice earlier. "We have need of your assistance."

I looked at the room I was in; stone slabs comprised the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. It was an old crypt, and I remembered it well; my coffin specifically was standing on a raised platform, one smear of blackened wood against the otherwise gray room. Directly across from there was a small table, hand-carved from stones probably older than anyone in this room. On top of it, however, was a pewter chalice adorned with rubies easily the size of my thumb.

"Identify yourself," I responded, returning my gaze to these fools. Out of instinct, my hands balled into fists. "Or would you rather I just kill you? I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult, even in my current state."

"Apologies, Lord Revenant," he stammered, pressing his face closer to the floor.

"My name is Frost, child," I snapped, stepping forward.

"A thousand apologies, Lord Frost," he whispered. I was surprised that he didn't actually back away as I approached. I could tell he wanted to. "I am Peter of Whitemoon. My companions are Matthew and Marie, and their thralls."

They all had dark hair, except for the thralls, who were brunette. Peter, Matthew, and Marie all had the complexity of our kind, but their thralls were just pale from either lack of daylight or lack of blood. Or both. It was then that I noticed the armored pauldrons of vampire warriors. So they aren't just children, they're actually a part of a coven, I thought, giving them a quick once-over. None of them were any older than maybe half a century, judging by the aura they let off.

He stood, turning on his heel and walking to the chalice. He was either trusting or a complete idiot, leaving himself exposed. He grabbed it and walked back to me, keeping his gaze averted.

"At least you can get the offering correct," I said, releasing my hands. Following the tradition, I had to drink its contents; the blood of the thralls they had brought with them. After it was empty, I lowered the chalice, looking directly at Peter.

"So what is it you need that is so important that you have to awaken me?"