[Featuring the continuation of the fight between werewolf and vampire]
I had never seen one before. I have read, in the years since, that the vrykolakas has control over its physical form, a control the Doghead does not possess. Scholars attest that this fiend can become as insubstantial as smoke, can enter a room through a keyhole or a crack in the masonry; can appear handsome, beautiful, can assume the forms of certain animals. If these statements are fact, then this particular revenant felt no need to disguise its true form. It entered the crypt through the doorway, a desiccated corpse bound in the cerements of the grave, its face fallen away to a skull and its breastbone and several of its ribs showing through its mottled skin. In truth I smelled its carrion stench before I saw it, and I felt it also, before I ever caught sight of it in the dim illumination of the moonlight through the empty doorway. I say felt it, because the thing radiated a sense of uncleanness, of evil, I had never before experienced, even from other Dogheads.
It had no eyes, and yet it had eyes; the two black sockets where its eyes should have been were darker than the shadows surrounding the thing. Its eyes seemed, in truth, to glow with darkness, if such a phrase is at all sensible. I expect such a thing cannot be described, only experienced.
It had eyes. And it saw me.
“You are not the tribute I demanded!” it hissed. Its voice—again, descriptions fail to convey what I experienced. Inhuman is the sole word I can offer. As inhuman a sound as could ever be, yet the thing did speak. A sound to drive men to madness. But for one already half-mad to begin with, a man no longer human, himself? I did not cringe.
“I know!” I answered. “You prefer women, and helpless, chained women at that. You are a coward!”
The thing shrieked in rage and rushed at me. It moved without its feet ever touching the ground, save for its toes dragging along the floor. It reached for me with its dead hands. The tips of its fingers had fallen away, and the bones protruded as claws. I felt the claws touch my throat.
But I also felt Lycanon’s curse overtaking me.
There were no witnesses to the struggle that took place there inside that shrine. Yet I remember it all. The vrykolakas, stronger than the Doghead, I believe, tore at it, at me, ripped out clumps of my fur and raked deep gouges in my flesh, but as the Cynocephalus cannot easily suffer injury, these wounds closed almost as soon as they were made. Likewise the claws of the Doghead, my claws, tore apart the flesh of the cadaver as if it were rotten parchment, yet this seemed to harm the revenant not at all. It flowed back together like water. I tore off the fiend’s left arm, yet the severed limb continued to flail and claw at me, digging through the thick hair of my pelt to seek my throat.
I have told you I possess little in the way of reason when I am in the form of the beast. I did, however, seem to understand on that night that, should I release my opponent or lose my grip on it, I would never get hold of it again, while it would fly around me, wraith-like, until it had torn me apart at last.
I, Reprobus, wanted death. But as the beast, I would fight to the last breath.
It seemed that we fought for hours. I cannot say. At some point during our struggles the chain around my ankle snapped. By that point the Doghead was too committed to the fight, too enraged, to give it up. I held onto the vrykolakas, and held it inside the crypt. Again and again it sank its broken, jagged teeth into my flesh and sucked greedily at my blood, yet the blood offered the fiend, or so it seemed, no sustenance. Stronger than me at first, the vrykolakas weakened, while the moon burned hot and full somewhere above the treetops; even cut off from the sight of it, still it lent strength to the beast.
“Let me go!” the thing hissed. “The sun will soon rise!” It could not reason with the beast. In addition, by that point in the fight, the Doghead had discerned a way to sunder the revenant’s limbs and flesh so as to guarantee these could not continue the struggle: the beast had eaten parts of the vampire.
Towards the end it stopped talking. It only howled and shrieked, in rage or fear, I know not which.
I had wanted to die that night. God had other plans for me.
As dawn came, banishing night, I changed back into my human form. I still held the vrykolakas, now rendered inert, lifeless, by the morning. Just a dead body, with pieces missing. Though exhausted and sore, I built a pyre of fallen limbs and leaves, there in front of the sacrificial shrine. When the men from the village arrived—“That’s the fiend, alright!” one of them said, kicking the cadaver. “I recognize him from when he lived!”
—we burned the body to ashes.
“You have done it!” the men shouted. These same men who had before treated me as filth now clapped my shoulder and offered me wine from their wineskins, treating me as a brother. And why not? These were a savage people, and had I not proven myself the most savage creature of all?