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, as always, to Gryphinwrym7, Masterdramon, GregX and BookwyrmPendragon13 for providing beta-reading and feedback.


"All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

~Matthew 4:9

Walpurgisnacht, 1456 A.D.

Demona swiftly clambered up the cold gray cliff-face of the nameless mountain that overlooked the Black Lake. She resented having to waste her time on such an errand on this of all nights.

The School Master had prepared a Witch's Sabbath in the forest below to celebrate their graduation. Unsurprisingly, the fiend had made very clear to all nine scholars that attendance and full Solomonari regalia were not optional.

Demona had bitten her tongue. After tonight, she would no longer have to humor the false devil. After tonight, she would finally put the knowledge and power amassed over the past four years to good use. But first, she had one last matter to attend to.

She leapt over the lip of the rocky ledge onto the mountain's peak. There stood a tall silent figure clad in the bone-white hooded robes of a Solomonar, staring out over the valley below.

"FitzGerald said you wished to speak with me before the Sabbath?" Demona inquired.

The figure turned, lowering its hood. Four years of dwelling in the depths of the Scholomance had rendered his face pale and gaunt. A heavy dark mustache now hang over his lupine jaw. "A beautiful night, is it not?"

"Please tell me you did not summon me here to admire the landscape, Vlad" she drawled.

"Your directness is always refreshing, my dear," He chuckled darkly. "After tonight, I intend to return to the court of John Hunyadi, Regent of Hungary, to petition his support in reclaiming my throne. I would like you to come with me."

Demona's eyes widened. "You cannot be serious?"

"Hunyadi is... many things," he spoke. "But he is not an impractical man, and I can be most persuasive. Rally the gargoyles of the Carpathians to my banner, Demona, and I promise that under my rule, no fool will dare raise a hand against you or your kin."

He stretched his arms wide, encompassing the surrounding lands. "All of this could be ours, if you would but rule at my side?"

Demona fell silent for a long moment, surveying the expanses below her. To the north rolled an endless sea of dark green forests. Tiny blue wisps flickered among the trees, guarding ancient treasures. The red light of Hermannstadt glowed just beyond the horizon.

To the south lay the mist shrouded plains of Wallachia. For one heady moment, she saw herself leading a clan once more, not as desperate survivors or glorified border guards... but as conquerors.

Then she saw the Prince standing before her, extending his hand in expectation. There was something gleaming darkly in his eyes, something that... hungered.

"No," she finally spoke.

The Prince stood silent for a long moment "Pardon?"

"Someone I once trusted sang the same song you do... before butchering my clan! And frankly, Vlad," She turned towards the rocky ledge, spreading her wings. "I liked him a lot more than I like you."

The Prince watched silently as the crimson-maned gargoyle took wind. His open hand clenched into a tight fist, talon-like nails drawing a small trickle of scarlet from his own palm.

[-]

The nine Solomonari walked through the hidden mountain gorge in a slow silent procession, each clad in all-concealing hooded white robes. Vlad took up the rear, simmering with cold rage.

He had visions of himself arriving at the Hungarian court flanked by a vanguard of gargoyle warriors. Between that and the secrets he'd learned in the Scholomance, he had little doubt bending Hunyadi's will to his own would have been child's play.

But Demona had dashed those hopes with a word. Did she have no gratitude? Did she not understand what he was offering? He would make her understand. If it took a millennium, he would see her bow before him, worshiping him, offering herself to him; mind, body and soul.

A pebble struck the Prince's hooded head, hardly large enough to cause any real harm or even discomfort, but it was enough to snap him out of his reveries.

Vlad craned his neck upwards just in time to catch a glimpse of two diminutive winged figures ducking behind a rocky out-cropping. His lips curled back in a wolfish leer.

Perhaps tonight would not be a complete waste?

Never the End...