Author's note: I am experimenting with a different writing style for this story. Between the depiction of the writer, the narration, and the various flashbacks, there are three distinct tenses used in this story. Hopefully this won't make the story too unreadable. (Sticking to a central character throughout the entire story should help.)
There exists a room without doors or windows, or any other openings that lead to the rest of the world.
The surfaces of the chamber appear to be carved from stone. The ceiling is covered in what appear to be stalactites. The floor is not, and looks as if it has specifically been cleared of mineral formations. Indeed, the only obstructions that can be found on the floor are a pair of books that had been left there carelessly.
A more astute observer may question why anyone can see anything if there are no openings and no light sources. Suffice to say, this is no ordinary room.
There is now a beast in the room.
He would be offended if someone called him a beast to his face. But after one look at him, it is difficult to call him anything but a creature. While his body resembles that of a man, albeit one who appears to have spent considerably more time building muscles than getting enough to eat, it is visibly more reptilian than mammalian.
Two two-toed feet, each possessing what looks like a third toe on the back of the ankle, stop in front of the books. Two scaly four-fingered hands act in tandem to remove the books from the floor. They are brought up to the same level as a pair of glowing blue eyes, which rest comfortably above a jawline that one would expect to find on a carnivorous dinosaur, and just below a series of horns that branch backward from the creature's head, save one that extends forward from the middle of his forehead like the defining mark of a unicorn.
Considering that he holds both books between a thumb and a single finger, one can also conclude that he is almost an order of magnitude taller than the individuals who penned the books.
His eyes, despite not having visible pupils, move back and forth between the two book covers. After a few seconds of thinking, he comes to a decision.
Sitting casually on the ground, he flattens a piece of paper, about the same size as a page from either piece of literature he had been previously eyeing, upon the stony ground. With a writing utensil that looks nearly invisible compared to the large claw that holds it, he begins his task.
The letters are surprisingly small, given the magnitude of the individual creating them, yet they remain fully legible.
If you are reading these words, consider yourself fortunate. Perhaps I told you of this document's existence and instructed you to look for it. Perhaps you have a good eye for detail, and noticed that one of the books in our library stood out from the others. Or perhaps you merely stumbled upon it while doing research. In any case, I can safely conclude that you are the type of person that deserves to know my story, whether it is because you are trustworthy or clever or interested in learning.
If you currently reside here, you probably know me. You call me Galamoth.
The creature turns his reptilian head to look back at the texts that he had discarded once again to the floor. If he is to stop, now is the time.
He turns back to the paper and resumes his writing, more carefully than before.
However, given my decision to tell this story and my belief that the truth needs to be known, it is better for me to inform you that Galamoth is not, in fact, my real name.
Chapter 1: Invasion
According to your calendar, my tale began in the middle of the 15th century.
The area looked much like traditional underdeveloped European countryside. Rolling hills of faded green grass spread out over the landscape. In the far distance, a stream carried fresh water in the vicinity of a cheery, old-fashioned village.
Up in the mountains, though, the grass was anything but growing. It had been well-flattened and burnt. To the side, a large metallic structure rested on the ground, clearly measuring hundreds of feet in each dimension. There were many signs of wear and tear on the metal, and the top of the structure was completely missing.
From the inside, the structure could not be described as anything but a complete anachronism compared to the world around it. Broken-down machinery and electronics, matching nothing that would be invented in the world over the next several centuries, lined the walls. Large shards of highly-resistant metal littered the floor of the structure, suggesting that they may have been part of the ceiling.
And near what appeared to be an entrance to the structure, the aforementioned reptilian creature sat on the cold floor. Judging by his tense body language, he must have been preoccupied about something.
The sound of a large explosion in the distance could be heard. The creature visibly shuddered at this.
At that moment, I was completely alone.
My army of automata was decimated. My sole method of escape was reduced to scrap, leaving me without shelter. The minions that I had claimed for my own had all abandoned me and returned to their master. It was only a matter of time before the mastermind of this attack would face me directly. In the end, my actions had achieved nothing of value.
My actions? My planet would call it conquest. I considered it a hostile takeover.
My actions? My planet would call it conquest. I considered it a hostile takeover.
The reptile sets his pen down and pauses in thought.
His planet. He has not set foot on it in over five centuries. Is it still there? Is it still populated? Does his race still live there, or did they settle somewhere else, or did they die out? Do they know what happened to him? Do they care? Will they care, if he ever manages to meet one of them again?
More importantly, does anyone here care about them? Does he remember enough about his planet to describe it? What would he call it in this language?
He picks up another piece of paper and starts making notes.
born - village in desert - no siblings - father died when young
growing up - manual laborer - helped village function
joined military - physical regiment - trained magical ability
expansionism - volunteered for scouting duty
He looks at the notes and nods. They don't match his planet's ethos perfectly, but these ideas are close enough and are understood by the residents here.
Jotting a quick "work on later" in the corner, he places this page and the previous page of his story to the side and produces a new sheet of paper.
My superiors decided that I would be one of the men sent out to scout for planets suitable for our race. And eventually, I found one: a reasonably lush planet in the Sol system.
The trouble was that it was already inhabited. It was a good sign for the possibility of survival, but it meant that my actions would be decidedly cruel.
In light of my mission and the fact that I wasn't accompanied by any other members of my race, I decided that I would attempt to take control of the planet, yet leave the inhabitants unharmed. This way I could survive, we could use the planet as a focal point for our expansion into this area of the galaxy, and the residents wouldn't have to be slaughtered until my superiors made the decision for me.
The first step was to learn as much about the planet as possible. This involved a good deal of research on my part, as well as frequent scans. This took a while, but eventually I had determined my plan for seizing control of the planet, which was apparently called Earth by the inhabitants.
I had learned through my reconnaissance that Earth possessed an odd dual population. Creatures of various types populated the surface, dominated by a bipedal race that bore some resemblance to my own. There was also a large number of more remarkable creatures that lived
The reptile looks around the stony room in a confused manner.
He has been here for a long time. He has memorized most of the layout and can remember the rest on sight. And given recent events, he probably knows more about his dwelling than just about all of the other inhabitants.
Despite all this, he has yet to figure out exactly where he is.
Some inhabitants believe that it is deep within the core of the Earth. Others suspect it is in another dimension. And still others can't be asked without them going on some long diatribe about the nature of religion.
He shakes his head. It was odd enough that the scanning equipment was able to identify the presence of "hell" at all. Certainly, if it hadn't, things would have turned out very differently.
He finishes the sentence: elsewhere.
My plan was simple. Using our planet's technology, I could forcibly take control of the alternate population. With their abilities at my disposal, I could lead them to conquer the surface population and thus gain leadership by force.
That was the plan, anyway. I had failed to consider a few things in the process.
First, I hadn't expected to damage the ship beyond repair upon my entry to the atmosphere, complete with all hope of leaving or contacting my superiors. Even if I had won the battle at that time, expansion would not have continued, and I would have had to resign myself to merely controlling the planet. This was not a wholly unlikable proposition.
Second, I hadn't considered that the populace of the planet was so remarkably small and weak in comparison to myself. It was rare to see a creature that stood anything close to one-third of my height. It didn't take me long to realize that I probably could have defeated the surface dwellers single-handedly.
And most importantly, I had no idea that the alternate population already had a lord. Specifically, one that was immune to our technology and who proved to be more than a match for my new army.
And one that was quickly approaching.
The reptile could not hear footsteps, but he could sense the new individual by the sheer power of his magical aura. He needed a strategy, and fast.
He looked again at the remains of his ship. No matter how good he considered himself at metalcraft, there was no chance of getting the ship working again. Leaving the planet was not an option.
He looked over the side into the distance. He could run. Despite the differing gravitational force on the planet and his ponderous size in comparison to the rest of the fauna, he always considered himself a good runner in the past. But where would he go? He was certainly not capable of hiding in this environment.
He could stay and fight. His sword leaned against one of the remaining walls, and it had survived the crash with very little damage. If he could dispatch the interloper himself, he could...
...what could he do? He no longer had an army of any sort. He no longer had the resources necessary for another bid for domination. He could terrorize the surface dwellers, but what good would that do him now? Especially with another population out for his blood? The only reason to defeat this opponent would be to deliver justice.
Ha. Justice. He wouldn't delude himself. He was an invader. He instigated this war. Justice was on his opponent's side.
Very well, he thought, picking up the sword and testing its larger-than-usual weight in his hands. He would face his opponent, and he would fight, and he would lose. He had nothing else to live for. And, in the wake of his demise, justice would be served.
The door opened.
As he arrived, I turned my attention to him, only to be dumbfounded by the person before me.
I was expecting a representative member of the non-surface population. One who was more imposing than the others, and who showed plenty of experience in his physical features. At the very least, I expected someone who, standing at his full height, would come halfway to my knee.
The warrior resembled one of the surface dwellers. Specifically, one of their underdeveloped young. Distinguishing characteristics included the bright white hair that topped his head, the oversized cloth that covered his body, the powerful magical aura that had given the reptile such cause for worry, and the fact that he was levitating in midair. An impressive trick, to say the least.
"What thing are you to stop my plan?" the lizard growled at the youth in a language common to the surface dwellers.
The youth grinned, revealing his fangs. "I'm Dracula! I'll kill you to save my friends!"
Dracula, the reptile considered. The surface dwellers had legends of him. They called him a vampire. If he was anything like the other stories, he would possess dark powers, a taste for blood, and a large amount of charisma. Looking at the boy, he could see evidence of all three traits.
He raised his sword at Dracula. "Then let we battle", he roared.
The writer visibly winces as he rereads the dialogue.
He can revise it. Embellish it. No one else was there. No one will know the difference.
He sighs. The truth is more important than his reputation. He came to that conclusion when he decided to tell his story. He shouldn't change his mind now.
He was not from this planet. His opponent was young. Under the circumstances, it makes sense that they would be so inept with the language.
Picking up the pen again, he tries to remember what happened next. He remembers the onslaught of fireballs, and then...
"Why have you come here?"
These words sounded in the reptile's head as he slowly regained consciousness. The voice was considerably deeper than that of the youth he had just battled.
He had battled the youth. And he had lost. He didn't even have to throw the fight; Dracula outmatched him in every aspect. He pondered, not for the first time, if he had inadvertently started a war that he could not have possibly won at all.
His attempt at English faltered. "My try was to..."
"Fool. Do not interrupt. I will address you in a moment."
Confused by this response, the creature struggled to open his eyes. As his vision slowly came into focus, he noticed that he was sprawled across the ground, bleeding openly from his chest and limbs. He tried to get up. He failed.
Turning his head to the side, he noticed that the remnants of his vessel had been reduced to mere ash. Those fireballs had been even more powerful than he had suspected if they could vaporize metal so easily.
In the distance, three figures were speaking to each other, ignoring him for the moment. They were far enough away that he could not make an effort to strike at them directly. Not that it would make any difference, he considered.
The first was the youth he had just battled. He was no longer wearing his oversized garment, leaving him clothed in a more traditional outfit of the surface dwellers. His usual cheerful expression was gone, replaced by that of unhappiness and disappointment.
The second one wore a similar expression as he stared at the youth. He was fully mature, but retained most of the physical characteristics of the youth. He was now wearing the garment, which covered his form from his shoulders to his legs. Indeed, the garment must have been fitted for him. He appeared to be twice the height of the youth.
The third was impossible to identify, as he wore a dark and thick fabric over his entire body and was facing in a direction away from the reptile. From the evidence, he could only determine that the top of his head was level with that of the second person, he was also levitating, and that, if his species had legs, they were not visible at this time.
The youth spoke. "The... the bad man was hurting everyone... I had to stop him."
The taller one shook his head. "You stole from my wardrobe and left the castle without my permission", he replied. "Any of the humans could have seen you."
"I... I'm sorry..."
Based on his loose knowledge of their mannerisms, the reptile decided that the elder one must have been a guardian of the younger. Based on their characteristics, he very well could have been a parent.
The shrouded one interrupted in a bizarre, distorted voice. "If I may say so, Lord Dracula, Adrian has done very well for himself."
"I did not ask for your opinion, but you may have a point nonetheless. We will discuss this later. Escort him back to the castle, then return. For the moment, I must deal with this creature."
Said creature's mind boggled at the revelation. The adult was Dracula? The youth was only his child? If the child had defeated him so easily, what was Dracula himself capable of doing?
He didn't have long to wonder, as Dracula's attention was now turned fully to him. The lizard tried to scramble to his feet, but it was for naught. He was still too wounded to rise.
"Foolish beast. Do you have any idea with whom you are dealing?"
The beast swallowed audibly. While he had very little experience at speaking the language, he had read more than enough to understand what the vampire was saying. "I do not know. I thought he was..."
"Do not feign ignorance. If you were able to commandeer my minions, you certainly should have known my identity. Who are you?"
The reptile tried to work out how much Dracula knew. He did not know what he was. He did not realize why he was here. Being from such an undeveloped world, he wouldn't have any exposure to devices like the one he had used to influence the subconscious section of the inhabitants' minds in a manner that caused them to do his bidding. In fact, the similarities between the two populations' biologies was the very reason why he had chosen that method to...
"You will respond when I address you."
/ You do not understand /, the creature grumbled to himself in his native tongue.
"'Garamos'? I have never heard that name."
His eyes widened as he understood the implications. Dracula didn't understand at all, did he? All evidence of his ship and his technology was gone. There was no reason why Dracula would believe that he was from another world. He had even misinterpreted the off-hand comment as a given name, poorly pronounced as it was. Any attempt at the truth would be quickly dismissed. The best option, then, was to play along.
"I am not very known."
"You certainly are bold. Not very wise, though. It is a shame, as you would not have made for an inadequate underling." He started charging a ball of some kind of energy in his palm.
The reptile blinked. He certainly was not expecting a compliment from someone who could crush him so easily. "Why do you say?" he asked in what he hoped was a non-aggressive tone.
"You genuinely do not notice? Physically, you put most of my strongest warriors to shame. Your magical aura compares favorably to our most trained witches. Your scheme, even in failure, proved that you are not devoid of intelligence. You were willing to duel my son, which suggests that you are not only knowledgeable of your strengths, but willing to rely on them rather than resorting to less honorable methods."
The reptile could do nothing but ponder what Dracula was saying. While he had undergone training on his planet, he was not much more than an average male specimen there. Here, among those who were naturally inferior, how could he not be seen as remarkable?
"I offer you one chance", Dracula finished. "Serve me. Refuse and you shall perish where you lie."
This vampire and his son had proven themselves superior to the alien, but this apparently did nothing to tarnish their opinion of his abilities. Was he truly willing to let the newcomer work for him? Had fortune deigned him unfit to rule, but fit to serve for the rest of his life? And did he have any other option, now that he had no method of returning home?
Ignoring his offer would have accomplished nothing. There was no doubt that he could deliver on his threat. "I will serve you."
As the reptile spoke, the floating shrouded figure returned to Dracula's side. He was now carrying a long staff with a sharp curved blade on one end.
Dracula nodded slowly. "Then make a vow here and now. You will remain loyal to me. You will never again take control of my army."
An easy promise to make. He still didn't realize that the alien could no longer do so. Still, as his language skills were weak, he opted to reuse the phrasing. "I will remain loyal to you. I will never again take control of your army."
"Even so, you must be punished for your actions. You will not be permitted to directly serve me." Dracula turned to the shrouded figure. "I place him under your jurisdiction."
The cloaked one lifted his head to reveal a skull underneath his cowl, one that matched the physiology of many members of the surface population. Before the alien could react, he slashed him across the chest with his weapon.
For the new recruit, everything went black.