Chapter One

The Rise of a Bloodpet

Cormag looked over the burning village with dead eyes. He was the one that had taken the torch to it which set the small village burning into the ground. When he took his eyes away from the flames, he noticed that his master, a vampire lord by the name Vertucius was watching him silently. Cormag felt a chill run down his spine as he took his eyes of the vampire and went back to watching the burning village. If his master was watching him that closely, then it must not be a good thing. One thing he had learned growing up in the Calabim Empire was that vampire lords who watched humans with any interest usually meant that they were their next dinner. Keeping his eyes straight ahead at the flames, his company's leader yelled out that it was time to return to the castle. Cormag shouldered his axe and fell into the rank line and starting walking.

It was almost close to daybreak when they reached Castle Nightingdale. The castle was located on the border between the lands of the Calabim Empire and the lands belonging to the Malakim desert nomads. It served a boundary that stopped the nomads from going to deep into the Calabim lands and also served as watchtower to keep eyes out for an invading nomad army. Cormag watched as his master and his entourage swiftly make their way to the Governor's Manor followed closely by a dozen Moroi, the vampire lord's loyal guardsmen, escorting prisoners from the village they had just sacked. He knew what happened in the manor, it was common knowledge in Nightingdale that all prisoners, thieves, murders and anyone who displeased the lord of Nightingdale ended up in the manor and where never seen again. He shuddered as he remembered his master's eyes on him. Cormag was a loyal soldier of Calabim, he had given his oath to be their loyal soldier when he was only eight years old and for twelve years he had kept his oath and strove to always please his commanding officer and master. So it was a mystery to him as why he was now under his master's scrutiny and not knowing why scared him. It was only when the lord of Nightingdale was out of sight when his commanding officer, a Moroi by the name of Bashetur ordered them to disperse and return to the barracks for inspection then rest for the day, that Cormag let out a small sigh of gratitude that nothing else was going to happen that day and started to fall in with a crowd of Bloodpets that were already making their way to the barracks when Bashetur put his hand down on his shoulder and stopped him. Cormag stiffened up as he watched the other soldiers leave him and Bashetur behind until they were the only ones besides the gatehouse guards who made it a point to not to look at them and went about their duties.

As Cormag contemplated praying to Aeron, the patron God of all Calabim, he heard Bashetur start speaking. "Cormag, the Lord Vertucius has ordered you to go to the manor. I don't know why but those are the orders and I know I don't have to tell you that you cannot disobey our master. May Aeron be with you and protect you." With those last words, Bashetur left Cormag standing alone in front of the gatehouse and left to go watch over his other soldiers under his command. Cormag watched him leave with mixed emotions, he had always served Bashetur with relentless fervor, always the first to take any assignment that needed to be done to make sure he stayed in his commanding officer's good graces and now it seemed to be all for nothing. He took a deep breath and tried to steel himself for what was to happened. It helped him just a little and with the knowledge that if it was his time to die then he would die as a man, then started walking towards the manor that was located at the keep of the castle.

He passed the Moroi guards that guarded the manor grounds after surrendering his weapon and made his way up the stone steps into the stone manor. The looming dark manor did nothing to soothe him and he took a second to recollect himself before he entered the manor. A chamberlain was already there waiting for him and without speaking a word to him, he motioned him to follow and led him to Lord Vertucius bedchambers. Cormag followed with speaking and when he was left in front of the double iron doors that led into his master's chambers, he knocked on the iron doors and waited. After a few seconds, he heard the deep voice belonging to this vampire master beckoning him to enter. Taking another second to collect himself, he reached down to grab the door's handle and pulled the door open. Cormag entered the bedchambers and closed the door behind him and dropped down to one knee and waited.

Lord Vertucius Anthis of Nightingdale was seated in front of his fireplace and was reading one of the many tomes he had in his collection. Dressed in a silk black shirt and was wearing black breeches with leather boots, he looked like any other noble but it was his eyes that gave him away as being something much more. He turned around and saw the Bloodpet Cormag enter his chambers, he set the tome down on the obsidian table in front of him and grabbed the chalice that was on the table. Taking a deep drink from it, he set it back down and with careful movements, he wiped the few drops of blood from his lips with his silk handkerchief then threw it down on the table. His bloodred eyes fell back on the Bloodpet, he had watched him carefully when they raided the village that had chosen to disobey him. He watched as he volunteered to be the one to take the torch to it and set it ablaze and that piqued his interest. It was a duty that one did not volunteer for but was chosen to make sure that they were loyal to him and the Empire. So with that in mind, he had spoken to his commanding officer Bashetur to order him to send the Bloodpet to him when they reached the castle. And now here he was kneeling in front of him. Vertucius could smell his fear but as he watched Cormag, he saw him stay completely still and conceal his emotions from him on the exterior. Vertucuis smiled deeply, his fangs showing as he did so. Fear was a tool he used well, he ruled his lands with it and had done so for 100 years and it still proved to be an efficient motivator. After a few more seconds of watching Cormag, he spoke to him in his deep voice. "Stand Bloodpet and come sit here by the fire."

Cormag stood and thanked his master for his kindness and walked towards the fireplace and took a seat in one of the chairs across from the vampire lord. He stayed quiet as he watched his master watch him with his red eyes. Cormag as seen plenty of vampires in his life, many had visited the castle and stayed for a few days then depart, but he had never seen another with red eyes besides his master so he assumed that his red eyes were from rare.

He stayed seated completely still as he waited for his master to speak to him and after a few minutes of silence his lord finally spoke to him. "I assume you don't know why I ordered you to come see me and I can smell the fear that troubles you because of it. Be rest assured that I did not order you here to feast on you. I called you here because I watched you personally volunteer to burn that village to the ground. I must admit that it piqued my interests in you so I decided to meet you. So please, tell me about yourself."

Cormag was dizzy with relief as he looked at his master. To hear from him personally that he wasn't here to be his dinner but to meet him calmed his emotions but still left him with the fear of being alone with a vampire. Calming himself again, he started telling him about himself. "I was born in Nightingdale, my lord. My parents were both owners of a tavern here and still own it to this day. When the call came for children to serve, they gave me up to the castle garrison to serve. My life after joining, there isn't much to say, Lord Vertucius. I have served loyally without regrets and have made it known that I would give my life for the Empire without a hesitation. Is their anything else you wish to know about me?"

Lord Vertucius kept his gaze upon Cormag and with a slight shake of his head, he stopped him from continuing with telling him more about himself. "Cormag, I have decided to make you a Moroi but you will not be stationed here in Nightingdale. For the past few days, reports have been coming in from my rangers that the Malakim have built a new settlement four leagues from Nightingdale. I find it disturbing that they have decided to built a city so close to the border so I have decided to send a small group of soldiers to scout the area and assess the situation. Normally I would have my rangers do it but I have to keep them watching other key points on the borderlands. I will have one ranger meet you at the edge of the Malakim lands to take you to the settlement and act as your guide. His name is Sedonis and he will also act as the messenger once you have all the intelligence I require and return here to give it to me. Aside yourself, a Brujah and will accompany you. His name is Arnett and he will lead this expedition. Arnett travels with his own personally Moroi which I'm afraid I don't recall his name so you can ask yourself if you wish to know it."

Lord Vertucius paused for a second as he looked at the young man in front of him and seeing his confusion of the matter, voiced the question he knew the young Bloodpet had on his mind. "Your wondering, Cormag...as to why I'm making you into a Moroi then sending you off into the field immediately so I will explain my reason behind my decision. Last night when you took that torch to the village, when I saw you looking at the flame...while your eyes looked dead, I could tell your discomfort of it. I have no need of that. I need you to turn completely into a beast and when that does happen and it will, then I will have use of you. And that is why I'm sending you out immediately. From the moment I turn you into a Moroi, your senses will be heighten and you will experience bloodlust for the first time. Before you do learn to control it, I want you to completely let it take over you and slaughter the prisoners I brought from the village. That will be your first task and I do so hope that you don't disappoint me. So that is only your choice and I do not take no as a reply. You will be turned and you will kill the prisoners. Whether you do drink from them or not, it matters little to me, I just want to see if you really are prepared to prove your loyalty to me and earn keeping your life. So, now you know why and we will get started right away. I'll explain the rest of the expedition after you do what I have explained to you."

With that, Lord Vertucius stood up from where he was seated and walked towards his desk that was next to the fireplace. He then proceeded to reach down and grab the small dagger he used as a letter opener and with a flick of his wrist, he cut his forearm and set the dagger back down on the desk. Reaching for another chalice, he pressed his arm over it and bled into the cup. After a few seconds, he took the chalice away from his arm and walked back towards his seat. When Cormag saw him set the chalice down, he could see that his wound was already healing right before his eyes. He stayed silent as he saw the chalice set in front of him and while he was conflicted about his dilemma, the prospect of becoming a Moroi was appealing even if he would have to butcher some defenseless villagers. Making his decision, he reached out and grabbed the chalice and without any hesitation he drank all the blood in it. Forcing it down his throat, he shut his eyes shut in concentration as his body tried to reject the foreign blood he just drank and push it out. With his eyes closed, he missed the look of approval on Vertucius's face. It was a few minutes after he had drank his master's blood when he started shivering as he felt his insides burning. Opening his eyes in surprise, Cormag saw that his master was seated in his chair again and watching him with his blood-red eyes silently. When the pain got to be to much for him to keep sitting, he threw himself of the chair and landed on the stone floor of the bedchamber hard. The last thing he heard before everything went black was his master's voice telling him that he was going to make it through and be fine.

Vertucius watched the unconscious new Moroi for a few minutes before he stood up from his seat and made his way to the door in his bedchamber. Telling a passing servant that he wanted the chamberlain brought to him, he closed the door again and made his way back to his seat. Picking up the tome he was reading before Cormag came, he resumed reading as he waited for his chamberlain to arrive. It was fifteen minutes later that he heard the knock on his doors and heard the chamberlain say that he arrived as he was ordered. Telling him to enter, Vertucius set the tome back down on the table and turned to face his chamberlain.

"Have one of the Moroi take the new blood down to the dungeon where the prisoners are waiting for execution and leave him there. Order the Moroi to guard the door until the new Moroi completes his assignment then have him brought back to me."

"As you say, sire. I'll take my leave and go get started on your orders. Is there anything else you may require?"

"Not at this moment. Just send me word once the new blood is in the dungeon. You are excused."

Without another word, the chamberlain left the Vampire Lord's bedchambers and went to get the Moroi to do as what the master wanted. Vertucius watched the chamberlain leave then turned back around to look that the still body of Cormag. The Vampire Lord smiled to himself as he thought about what was to come. His destructive nature was one that was talked about back at the capital city, other lords feared him but he knew that they respected him and was enough...for now. His only loyalty fell on the Grand Prince and Princess of the Calabim, Flauros and Alexis. They had given him everything his heart desired and made him what he was today and for that, he made it known to them of his undying gratitude and loyalty. Reaching for the his chalice on the table, he took the cup and drank deeply then set it back down and returned all his attention back to the tome.

Cormag could hear voices around him as he started waking from his unconsciousness state. He shivered slightly as all his senses came back to him, he could feel the cold, wet floor he was on. Opening his eyes, his vision was blurry at first but after a few minutes of readjusting, he made out that he was in the dungeon beneath the Governor's manor. Everything came back to him as he stood up, the meeting with his master, the order that he gave him and drinking his blood. Seeing the villagers in the dungeon, he was conflicted again as he watched them. They were dirty and filthy from staying in the dungeon and he found himself thinking that if fate was any different, it would be him in their place and another soldier of the Calabim getting ready to massacre them. The villagers watched him silently with frightened eyes, they recognized the clothes he had on as the uniform of the Lord of Nightingdale. Cormag let out the breath he didn't know he was holding and with shaky legs, he walked towards the only door in the dungeon that led to the hallway and banged on the wooden door with his fist.

A deep voice replied back to his knocking,"What do you want?"

"I need to borrow your weapon."

It was few seconds later when he heard the guard unlocking the door to the dungeon door and remove the wooden bar then the door opened. The face he saw when the Moroi entered was hard, his eyes giving away nothing of what he felt. He stared at Cormag for a second and then handed him his battleaxe. Before he closed the dungeon door again, the Moroi spoke to him. "Don't prolong it too much. Just do it and get it over with...its easier that way." And with those words, he closed the door and locked it again.

Cormag gripped the heavy battle axe with his hands, the feel of unease washed over his entire body as he stood in front of the door. He didn't want to kill the villagers but he was bound by his oath to the Calabim Empire and to Lord Vertucius, that he would follow any order that was given and as he turned around to face the scared villagers it offered little comfort now to him. Taking the battle-axe, without any hesitation he sliced his forearm open and waited for the bloodlust to take over. He had seen other Moroi do the same when it came to battle, they did to lose their senses and any sense of humanity and became killing berserkers. It was a few seconds after he cut himself when the bloodlust sank in and with a loud roar, he launched himself at the villagers.

Everything he saw through his eyes was hazy, everything slowed down and he saw himself killing the villagers right and left. He didn't feel anything as he cut them down with the battle-axe, not the blood that drenched his body and face or the heaviness of the axe, not even the crunching sound when he cut through bone. After he had killed all the villagers, he set the heavy battle-axe on the ground and leaned against it to help him stay up. His eyes were drawn to the faces of all the people he had just massacred and even then he did not feel anything. All he felt was tiredness and joyfulness at that he didn't disappoint his master. The faces of the dead meant nothing to him now, the regret he felt earlier before he had started killing them was not there anymore, just jpride that he did was what was ordered. Leaving the dead and his humanity behind, he started walking towards the dungeon door.

Lord Vertucius looked up from the page he was reading when he heard the knocking on his doors and ordered them to come in. His red eyes went passed the chamberlain and the other Moroi and fell upon Cormag. He smiled evilly as he saw him covered from head to toe in blood, the scent of it was driving his own senses insane but with great restrain he fought it down as he looked over the new Moroi. "So I see you did as I have wanted of you, Cormag. I am proud of your loyalty to Empire and myself. Chamberlain, leave me with the new blood and wait outside with the Moroi till I call for you."

"As you command, my Lord." The chamberlain motioned for the Moroi to follow him out the bedchambers and closed the doors behind him and waited.

'Cormag, please be seated. I can imagine that you must be tired."

"Nay, my lord. I do not wish to make light of your offer but I fear if I do sit, I will not be able to stand again. So if it pleases you, I will stand."

"Very well. So now that you have done what I wanted of you, we can continue were we left off. When night falls tonight, you will leave Nightingdale with Sedonis and his Moroi and make your way to meet Arnett at the meeting place. Before you leave, you will leave your uniform behind and take new equipment. As a precaution, I do not want the nomads seeing that you are affiliated with Calabim in anyway in case any escape before you are able to silence them. In five days, I expect some word of your activities and what you have seen. After that, if I have everything I want, I will instruct Arnett to return to Sedonis and you to return to the castle. The Moroi outside will take you to the bathhouse if you wish to bathe. If not then rest for tonight. I will send another Moroi down to see you shortly to start inking the marks of the Moroi on your body. Do tell the chamberlain to come back in as you leave, Cormag."

And with a wave of his hand, he excused Cormag to take his leave and before he did, he saluted his master and turned around to walk out. Opening the double doors, he did so with tiring hands but he still managed to do it. He spoke to the chamberlain that the Lord Verticius wanted him to enter again and started following the other Moroi to the bathhouse. Even though he was tired down to his bones, he knew that the bathhouse would relax him and he knew he needed to be clean when the Moroi came to put the marks of the Moroi on his body.

A/N: This is a work of fiction based on the Rise of Erebus mod to Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword. For those of you that haven't heard of it, it is an incredible mod to an incredible game!(or at least in my opinion lol.) I hope to have chapter 2 up soon. Hope you enjoyed it. I, of course do not own any rights to Civ4 or ROE.

Glossary(taken from ROE and FFH mods)

Aeron: Once the God of Strength, Aeron was corrupted when he fell and joined Agares at the beginning of the Age of Dragons. Because of this, Creation will never know real strength. His corrupted aspect is Hate, best expressed by the physical rage of werewolves. He presides over all of man's baser emotions, and is called the God of Blood and Murder. He is the Patron God of the Calabim, and also of assassins. A guild of assassins, called Aeron's Chosen, are really a cult devoted to him. His Archangel is Odio (Hatred), whom was imprisoned by Kilmorph during the signing of the Compact

Bloodpet: Bloodpets fit into the Calabim human social ladder somewhere between the oppressed peasant and the favored Moroi. They are kept around the Vampiric governors to do all sorts of menial tasks, not the least of which is to serve as cannon fodder. Due to their closer association with the ruling class they are spared the feasting of their peers, but are the first ones to be fed on in a pinch.

Brujah: Vampires don't tend to shy away from brutality, but most prefer manipulation and petty cruelty to outright savagery. Not the Brujah, however. After leading enough battles, the veneer of civilization that the Calabim have adopted as a survival scheme since the Age of Ice crumbles away. They revel in the carnage of battle, even risking their immortal lives against odd in which Vampire lords would be content to send in fodder after fodder. Their results are hard to argue with, however.

Calabim: The Age of Ice almost spelt the end of the Vampires. When the vast sheets spread over the once-fertile land, their main source of food, humanity, started to become scarce and ever more concentrated in small tribes. Fearing a fate worse than death, the shadowy almost-death of a vampire deprived of fresh nourishment for centuries, most vampires tried to cling to the ever-shrinking communities of survivors. A lone vampire trapped in a small group of people quickly switches from hunter to prey. One by one, the vampires were dispatched to the afterlife.

Of those few vampires who escaped the hunters, most took to a feral existence, living off whatever inferior blood they could scavenge in the wild, preying off the occasional human unfortunate enough to be caught alone. But some wise few realized that the only path to survival lay in making the natural transition from parasite to master.

Lead by the ancient siblings Alexis and Flauros, a small group of surviving vampires "adopted" a rag-tag tribe of humans. Using their powers as immortals, unaffected by cold, or exhaustion, gifted with incredible vision and speed, they made sure the tribe had plenty of food. And all they asked in return was an endless, expendable resource: A few drops of blood. But a vampire's powers are not restricted to supernatural senses and strength-?their great power is in the mind.

Slowly but surely, using their natural powers of guile and persuasion, and dangling the "Dark Gift" as bait to lure the best and strongest humans into helping them, the vampires wormed their way to the top of their little society. Few wished to oppose them, and risk losing their valuable hunting skills. Those who did, had accidents, or simply disappeared.

When the humans finally realized what was happening, it was too late. They were trapped in a hellish situation, little more than cattle for a growing class of parasitic nobility, and they had been trapped there of their own free will.

Now, Flauros and Alexis are the Grand Prince and Princess of a depraved and hopeless society of bloodpets and slaves, controlled by the Grand Broods, the vampire families that rule each city as their own personal estate farms, living in decadent luxury, and sating their lust for blood at will. The Calabim are the apex of vampire evolution, an abomination that is the natural enemy of all holy nations.

Malakim: The only elves the Malakim had seen were the the dark Svartalfar. Yet, when a group of hunters happened across a nearly-dead elven man freezing in the wastes, they took him back to their village and agreed to tend to his injuries rather than kill him. When he awoke in their care, he explained that he was Varn Gosam, and that he had fled from his homeland. Sensing some truth in him, the Malakim believed him and allowed him to live among them. Varn built a shrine to Lugus in the small village and began spreading his newfound religion to the villagers. His revival spread quickly, and the former elven prince found himself a leader of men. Accepting that role, he set forth to lead the Malakim through the hard years to follow and into the light of Lugus.

The Malakim are primarily desert nomads, and fierce followers of the Empyrean. Led by Varn Gosam, they embody all of the noble and good traits that have made the Empyrean one of the most populous religions in Erebus. However, the desert breeds strong and hardy men, and the Malakim, while generally peaceful, are not afraid to defend what is theirs.

Moroi: Upgraded bloodpets have some hope of being chosen to become vampires themselves. Fed on the blood of vampires, the Moroi are capable of achieving great bursts of strength. Are the loyal guardsmen and soldiers to the Calabim.