I do not own Lok

"I'm afraid I must advise against this course of action." Janos began, although already certain there was little use in saying so. Ewoden was already halfway through putting his old Sarafan armour on, little was going to stop him now. Luckily for the human, his size had not increased that much and it still managed to fit. Already the night had set in, althoguh the moon light was finding it hard to peirce the snow storm. "If you are found out…"

"I'm aware of the consequences, I was a Sarafan once, I know what they do to deserters." Ewoden replied with the most determined voice he could manage, yet his hands were still shaking as he placed his helm upon his head.

"This is insane." Sally said quite sharply, slapping his hand away from the final pieces of his armour. "You're going to get yourself killed."

Ewoden looked back at her through the visor in his helmet. His green eyes still visible from behind the steal mask.

"I'm not going to stay in Ushtenheim for long." He told her. "Only for half an hour at maximum, after that, whether I have the information I'm after or not I'll leave as quickly as I can." Janos said there for a moment or two as he finished piecing together his armour. While it was true Sarafan activity had been increasing to suspicious levels, he could see that Ewoden had another reason for going, one just as strong as the official. The former Sarafan had been cut off from human society for the best part of five years and Janos couldn't really blame him for being curious as to what changes had occurred during that time. The scenario would certainly drive even Janos to irritation.

"Very well Ewoden." He said in final agreement and Sally looked up, her eyes wide in protest before Janos raised a claw. "But it would be best if you travel west and then approach the town from the large stone arch in the canyons. The direct path from here to the town is patrolled regular by Sarafan and I wager it is probably more productive to avoid them." Ewoden nodded in agreement.

"Yes, as you say." He said, sliding his axe into the leather harness around his back. Sally gave him a pleading look. She had seen Sarafan impale traitors and deserters on pikes as well as their vampire prey. She didn't want him to end up the same way.

"I'm coming with you." She said suddenly and Janos quickly butted in.

"No, Ewoden is human and can walk amongst them without harassment. You are a vampire, they will kill you on sight." He looked her directly in the eye. "You will take Ewoden down to the stone arch and wait there for him. If you are happened upon by a patrol, return to me at once." Sally tried to argue, but when the father of the present vampire race gave you an order, you obeyed it without question. She shut her mouth and nodded "Now go, and may you return with the utmost speed." He added as they approached the edge of the balcony overlooking the canyon. Sally was sure to give him a very disapproving look as she look over of his waist and began floating upward.

"I still say this is insane." She whispered to him as they began their decent through the blinding snowstorm toward the ground below.

"To be perfectly honest." Ewoden replied, his voice muffled by his helm and the howling lashes of the blizzard. "So do I."

Janos watched them go with a deepening sense of dread growing in him. Perhaps he was watching them go to their doom, perhaps he would find their bodies stuck on pikes tomorrow morning down on the lake shores. He walked over to the fire place and stood with his arms behind his back. Faith sustained him throughout the centuries, it would have to do so for the next few hours. yet somehow he knew that was the last time he would see either of them.

Without warning the doors at the other end of the chamber creaked open and the familiar soft padding of soft steps resonated throughout the chamber as the doors closed shut again. Someone had entered the room, however Janos stood with his back to whoever was there. There was more metallic clank from boots, so whoever it was, it was not a Sarafan warrior and so he did not need to be on the alert, not that any Sarafan could reach the aerie. A timid, yet strong voice spoke up, filled with curiosity and a sort of frenzied excitement.

"Janos…Audron?" It asked as the ancient vampire sighed, turning toward the speaker. A strange, blue skinned creature like himself with yellow glowing eyes and a very skeletal like appearance.

"It is heartening…" He began with a content smile. "After all these years, to hear my name spoken without contempt."

Ushtenheim was nearly completely blanketed in snow by the time the former Sarafan reached the large portcullis that marked the towns southern entrance. The banners of the order fluttering from the top of the small castle like construct. A Sarafan guard, with several layers of fur draped around him, stood guard on the other side, shivering every now and then to keep quiet. The long, twisting road through the mountains heading south from that gate was littered with stakes, the rotted frozen corpses of vampires hung there to mark the heightened glory of the Sarafan. The town north of the gate was a Sarafan outpost and as such, the order had a strong presence here. Nearly every shop and public house, even the Church at the centre of town had a guard on patrol in or around it.

Being amongst humans again, it was a strange and un-nerving sensation rather than the pleasant one Ewoden had been expecting. The whole, normalcy, of the town just seemed so still and complacent and the former Sarafan felt isolated even when he entered the church during a service, a large amount of people praying at the shrine, a priest nearby saying prayers. He didn't know why he couldn't see it before, but it was now plain to him as people shrank away from him, that the normal citizenary of Nosgoth, not just the vampires feared the Order.

Apart from the clanking of Sarafan steal boots through the snow, the town was deadly quiet. Everyone was inside their homes, waiting the blizzard out. The only source of light apart from the church came from the local tavern, The White outpost. Sitting at the bar, ordering a few drinks, Ewoden found that blending in with humans again after so long as not as difficult as he first imagined. In fact, most people seemed scared to talk to him while inside his Sarafan armour and he was fine with that. Listening to gossip that spread around the tavern, Ewoden managed to learn of a city was being constructed on Nosgoth's southern most coast, and that this city was to be the lands capital. It had been dubbed, Meridian.

As expected, there was a large Sarafan presence here in the town. Far many than were actually necessary for the garrison. Putting a near direct obstacle to Ewoden's plans to discover information, the Garrison was full to the top with Sarafan elite. He'd never get in un-noticed, so he had to make so with that little bits he could gather from whoever sat next to him or passed by.

Two Sarafan clad in full armour sat down next to him and ordered a large amount of Mead from the bartender, who at first seemed reluctant to serve them, but ultimately he had little option.

"You must one of the new guys that arrived a moment ago." One of them stated, turning toward Ewoden. Hesitating only brief, he coughed and quickly assumed the identity of a new Sarafan recruit. At least he knew how to act like one at least. "Cold weather isn't it, well you needn't worry, none of us will be here in this secluded town for much longer." Ewoden found that particular state rather interesting.

"Why do you say that?" The other Sarafan turned to give him a stunned stared through his visor.

"You didn't hear? The Six Inquisitors just started for Audron's stronghold, they carry the staff of lord Moebius himself." A lump formed in Ewoden's throat, he knew of the Sarafan Inquisitors. Six of the most deadly warriors in the army, Raziel his old trainer, Dumah, Ruhab, Turel, Melchiah and Zephon. But that wasn't the half of it, being a former Sarafan, Ewoden was well aware that the Staff of Moebius had the ability to immobilise vampires, leaving them completely vulnerable as long as the staff's was present.

"How exactly do they intend to penetrate Audron's stronghold? The only entrance is well over fifty feet in the air, one a vertical cliff." Ewoden said, trying to sound confident. The Sarafan guard slapped his knee, laughing out load.

"That's the Ironic thing. Not too long ago, a strong blue demon passed through here. It looked like it was on it's way to toward Audron. Lord Moebius has instructed the Six to simply follow the path the demon makes up to the monster himself." Ewoden broke out in a cold sweat, his stomach felt like a stone had just been dropped into it.

"Do you know how cold it is out here?" Sally asked, shivering as Ewoden trudged as quickly as he could through the snow towards her. Despite the fact he had been gone only of the time they had both expected. He had been in such a rush to leave the town he had forgotten all about leaving inconspicuously, but that hardly registered on his mind at the moment.

Almost instantly they were in the air, flying through the howling snowstorm back toward the Aerie. Sally kept asking what the matter was, why he was urging her to fly faster but by the time they came within sight of it, Ewoden's worst fears were realized and Sally required no explanation.

The Aerie had collapsed. The roof overhanging the balcony had caved in, blocking the and the large entrance to the ancient vampires private chambers had been completely blocked off. The large statue underneath the balcony had been damaged in whatever cataclysmic event had occurred as well, it's outstretched arms had fallen off and it's wings scared beyond all recognition. This had happened some time ago as a large degree of snow was already covering the ruins.

Almost frantically, Sally dropped Ewoden on the top of the collapsed pile and began digging at the collapsed rock, Ewoden joining her shortly. They managed to dig their way through the rubble and into the retreat itself, but even here things were hardly better. Parts of the roof inside the roof had collapsed as well and the placed was a mess, with all the book cases and furniture smashed. Flying on the glass table near the burnt out first place, his form highlighted by the shafts of light coming in through the hole they'd just dug was Janos Audron. He was lying lifelessly on the table, his wings and limbs spread out side, his head tilted to the side, wide golden eyes staring in space lifelessly. The most painful sight of all was the large wound in his chest, the blood from which staining his clothes. Ribs cracked wide open, his organs in full display for all to see. There was however one organ missing from between his yellow putrid lungs. There was a universal moment that would remain in Ewoden's mind forever when he realized the full extent of the Sarafan Inquisitors cruelty. They had torn out his heart.

Sally collapsed to her knees, tears already running down her face. Within moments she was wailing at the top of her voice like a child discovering a dead parent, the similar scenario all too adept. The axe Ewoden had gripped in his right hand fell from him and clattered on the floor. Was this what the Sarafan were about? Really? They hadn't just defeated Janos, they'd mutilated him. In the heat of the moment, Ewoden felt disgraced to be human.

"Be strong my child." Said a soft voice and out of the shadows, a tall figure with green skin and large bat like ears stepped. Vorador had the most melancholy look on his face Ewoden had ever seen, yet in his eyes there began to burn a maddening rage. "You have my word, both of you do, that this if the final sacrilege the Sarafan have performed against our race." There was a glint of metal and Vorador produced a large two handed claymore blade with serrated edges. "It ends now."

"And what do you going to do?" Ewoden asked, not able to meet the ancient vampires gaze. "Attack the Orders, they will simply retaliate."

"I know that very well." Vorador replied, looking down at the lifeless body of his sire, the faint illusion of tears beginning to form at the edge of his eyes. "Which is why I shall take my retribution on the sponsors of their crusade. The circle itself."