Gargoyles, co-created by Greg Weisman, is the property of the Walt Disney Company. Dracula, created by Bram Stoker, is the property of everyone.
Special thanks to Masterdramon, Gryphinwyrm7 and Bookwyrm for providing beta reading and feedback.
Extra special thanks to Gryphinwyrm7 for allowing me the use of some of the OCs featured in this story.
On Queen Florence Island, just off the western coast of Canada, history was being made. The twelve clan leaders of the Gargoyle Nation and almost every human Head of State on Earth were gathered. All twelve clans had brought their eggs to the caldera of the island's extinct volcano. Some of the hatchlings born tonight would eventually return to their original rookeries, but most would remain to form the foundation of a new clan, a thirteenth clan.
One young gargoyle only regretted that she could not be there in person. Instead she sat in her study in New Camelot, pouring over her datapad as live coverage of the ceremony streamed on a monitor in the background.
She was relatively young. Today would be her fortieth birthday as humans reckoned such things. Though by her kind's standards, she was barely a young adult. Covered in light green fur and feathered wings, with cloven hooves and stag like antlers, she struck an impressive figure.
Despite her fearsome appearance, she had always been more scholar than warrior. Ever since she first learned to read, she had been fascinated by codes of justice, from the code of Hamurabi to the American Constitution to even New Camelot's original charter. What had begun as a precocious childhood interest had blossomed into a lifetime of study. Now she found herself turning to those same laws seeking the answer to one question…
What rights had the dead?
"Excuse me, Peryton," a cool metallic voice echoed through the chamber with no apparent source.
"Yes, Matrix?" she asked, seemingly unperturbed by the disembodied voice.
"You have an incoming communique from Dame Dugan."
"Patch her through."
The streamed footage from Queen Florence Island was replaced by the image of a young woman, not more than nineteen years in age despite her pure silver hair. "You plan on joining us down here any time this century, Pery?" she spoke in a thick Ulster accent.
The gargoyle smiled. At little over nineteen, Dame Siobhán "Shiv" Dugan was one of the youngest Knights of the New Round Table as well as Peryton's closest friend outside her own rookery siblings. "Sorry, got caught up making a few notes."
"I swear, you'll go blind before too long with the way you read. Well, get down here quickly. Yer 'client' is waiting."
"On my way." Peryton's insides tightened in dread, despite the mask of professionalism she wore. She was not looking forward to this.
New Camelot was a wonder, a paradise hidden in the wastes of Antarctica, maintained by the Master Matrix, protected by both its resident gargoyle clan and the Knights of the New Round Table. For almost two centuries it had stood as a beacon of hope and enlightenment for the rest of the planet.
Peryton soared beneath a cloudless, star filled sky. Of course, it was an illusion, a synthetic environment created by a vast artificial dome controlled by the Master Matrix.
Beyond the dome, icy storms raged and polar night was just beginning. Though the Matrix could artificially simulate a 24-hour cycle of day and night, Peryton knew it would be six long months before New Camelot would know the light of the true sun again.
Below her, a network of gleaming silver spires and pathways blended almost seamlessly with lush tropical foliage. At the center of this futurist landscape, incongruously stood a cyclopean stone castle, banners of every color imaginable hanging from its walls.
The castle was mostly deserted save for the clan Honor Guard and some human support staff. Most of the senior members of the Table had elected to accompany the Queen and the First Knight to the hatching. Still, Peryton spotted two figures awaiting her in the courtyard below.
"About time," Siobhán called out as Peryton landed.
"Sorry, I needed to double check a few things," Peryton responded, brandishing her datapad by way of explanation. "This case is kind of… unique."
"You sure you're up for this?" Siobhán asked, her face softening.
"I'm fine, really!" implored Peryton, probably putting a bit more feigned enthusiasm into the words than seemed credible. "After all, the prisoner did ask for a lawyer."
"The beast should have been put out of its misery a century ago!" the third figure spoke in a low rumbling tone, like the voice of a mountain. It was a hulking, roughly human-shaped mass of living clay.
"Rabbi Loew! If we simply execute any sapient being, whatever their crimes, without at least the recourse to a trial then we're little better than the Quarrymen!" Peryton spoke passionately before remembering who she was addressing. Rabbi Loew was one of the founding members of the New Round table, having served New Camelot for almost two centuries, even after the loss of his original body. "That is… with all due respect, Sir."
"Hrmph," he grunted. "You might not feel that way after you've spoken with it."
Since its founding at the dawn of the 21st century, serious crime had been almost unknown in New Camelot. What petty offenders did exist were held in a small gaol well outside the Castle grounds. The Dungeon existed only to hold some of the most dangerous beings on the face of the planet, captured by the Knights in their globe-spanning peacekeeping efforts.
Despite its medieval origins, the Dungeon was fully equipped with all the resources modern technology could provide. Peryton, Siobhán and Rabbi Loew passed half a dozen cells where energized force fields served in the place of iron bars.
A sound like live wires sparking shattered the silence. Peryton's wings flared, her muscles tensing in expectation of attack.
"Did I frighten you, little gargoyle?" a voice rasped mockingly.
The owner of the voice was human, mostly. Copper skinned, bald and vaguely androgynous. Much of her body had been replaced by cybernetics. Her fingers ended in long serrated metal talons which raked along the surface of the field, producing the sparking noise that had startled Peryton.
"Sorry 'bout that," the prisoner purred sardonically.
Peryton recognized her from the knights' reports. Hyena; the latest in a long line of mercenaries to use that nom de guerre.
The young gargoyle felt Siobhán's hand on her shoulder. "Ignore her. She just wants attention."
Peryton let her friend guide her down the gloomy corridor until they came to an imposing steel vault. The doorway was flanked by two gargoyles clad in intricately plated silver armor and wielding weapons that seemed part halberd, part particle-rifle.
They were clan elders, veteran warriors selected by the Queen and the First Knight for this very purpose. Sworn to protect the world from the creature that lay within.
"Last chance," Siobhán whispered softly. "You don't have to do this."
"I know, but I'm going to anyway," Peryton responded as the guards drew back the vault door. She stepped into a chamber that seemed more like a mausoleum than a prison cell.
Almost every inch of the wall space was covered in religious iconography, taken from virtually every creed and cult on Earth. Crucifixes, Tetragrammatons and Qur'anic inscriptions stood alongside west African and Haida wards against malevolent spirits, a bulwark of faith against the darkness.
At the very center, stretching from floor to ceiling, stood a pillar of blinding radiance, brighter than anything Peryton had ever seen. She was forced to shield her eyes as they adjusted. Slowly, the pillar of light resolved itself into a transparent tube containing a single solitary occupant.
He was impossibly ancient, with skin like dried paper stretched over a hunched skeletal frame. A few faint wisps of ghost-white hair clung tenuously to an otherwise bare pate.
In seemed inconceivable to Peryton that he could withstand a stiff breeze, yet alone be one of the most prolific mass murders of the second millennium, until he turned his gaze. His ice blue eyes fixed on her like a wolf's on a true deer.
"Welcome to my house. Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring," he spoke in a barely audible whisper.
Peryton steeled herself. "Prince Vlad Drăculea of Wallachia?"
He nodded imperceptibly. "I am Dracula."
She nodded in return. "I'm called Peryton. I've volunteered to serve as your legal counsel as requested."
"Forgive me, child. I have been a 'guest' of your good Monarch for quite some time and cannot keep abreast of all your vaunted modern 'progress', but I do believe the rules of solicitor-client confidentiality still apply in this century?" He eyed the two Knights meaningfully.
"We're. Not. Leaving," Siobhán spoke bluntly.
"Shiv, I'll be fine… really." Peryton gave her friend a reassuring smile.
Siobhán was silent for a moment. "If he tries anything…" she practically growled.
"You'll be the first to know," Peryton swore.
Siobhán reluctantly withdrew, followed closely by the heavy lumbering steps of Rabbi Loew.
Peryton turned back to the prisoner. "I wouldn't recommend attempting to use your mesmeric powers on me. I couldn't free you even if I wanted too."
His lips peeled back in a feral smile. "And if I were to command you to pluck out your own eyes?"
Peryton tried to ignore the threat and the shudder of vulnerability it provoked. "May I ask exactly why you requested legal counsel, your highness?"
He reclined on his chair, one of the few furnishing of the spartan cell save for an oblong casket containing a thin layer of his native soil. "I have no intention of spending from now until Judgement Day wasting away in this pit."
"Your highness," she began. "The possibility of Her Majesty even considering release is almost…"
He raised a claw-like hand. "I do not ask for parole. I ask for execution."
She blinked. "I… I beg your pardon."
"After seven centuries, immortality has begun to… pall." He drew himself up to his full height, looking down on her haughtily. "If I am to be condemned, then I demand a monarch's death as is my due."
Peryton's mind raced, trying to process the magnitude of what was being asked of her. She was already mentally correlating potential precedents almost without conscious thought when her reflection was shattered by the sound of blaring klaxons.
"City wide alert!" the Master Matrix's monotone echoed from nowhere and everywhere at once. "Unknown vessel detected in New Camelot airspace! All perzzzzzck-"
"On second thought," the prisoner intoned with apparent nonchalance. "Perhaps I won't be requiring your assistance after all, child."
A moment later, the entire chamber went pitch black as the temperature began to rapidly drop. Next thing Peryton knew, Siobhán and Rabbi Loew were bursting into the chamber, now washed in the dim crimson glow of the emergency lights.
"Pery, something's wrong with the Master Matrix! We have to get out before the Dungeon…" Siobhán's voice died in her throat as her eyes widened in horror. "Dear God, no..."
"Shiv, what…?" Peryton turned towards the great transparent cylinder, now dark and completely empty. So shocked was the young gargoyle that she didn't even notice the thin layer of mist curling about her hooves until it was too late.
The last thing Peryton saw were pale talons materializing out of the fog, striking with the speed and precision of a cobra.
New Camelot, March 22nd…