The Vampire of Cosium ~ 6
*During the time period before Teen's Play/Child's Play*
Late one night in the Castle of Cosium...
The royal messenger of King Kaze and Queen Sapphire, Reggie the Vampire, was fast asleep in his hammock in his small room of the castle. He slept soundly under the light of the full moon. As he slept, his window slowly opened.
A soft song played through the wind into Reggie's room. He stirred a little, the song playing softly and sweetly. He smiled as the song reached his ears and filled his head. As he listened, he sat up, his eyes clouded over, and climbed out of the hammock. He walked towards the window and made his wings appear.
A few minutes later, Reggie landed on the hill that lead to the tall cliff. He listened as the music brought him up closer to the cliff's edge. He didn't see it. He didn't see anything. He could only hear that song.
Now the song had a voice. A beautiful voice that called Reggie closer. Reggie was close to the cliff's edge now.
Suddenly, someone grabbed him and pulled him back, causing them both to tumble down the hill and fall on their backs. Reggie groaned and felt his head, "Ow. What was that?"
He saw where he was a sat up fast, "What the..? Where am I?"
A groan caught Reggie's attention. He turned to see Benonic sitting up. Reggie was surprised and confused, "Ben? What's going on? What are we doing here?"
Ben stood up with a grunt and a groan. Reggie understood with a look of shock, "Sleepwalking? Right for the cliff? But how? I didn't even think vampires could sleep walk!"
Ben looked out over the cliff, which dropped into the sea full of large, sharp rocks. He groaned softly, and Reggie understood, "Singing?" He stood up, "You mean, like a siren?" Benonic nodded.
Reggie looked over the edge, "Well, I was about to have one heck of a wake-up call. It may not have killed me, but it sure would have been painful." He smiled at Ben, "Thanks for the save, Benny-boy."
He yawned and rubbed his head, "Still, why did a siren, or whatever it was, sing me out here? Was it trying to kill me? If so, why? I don't know any sirens or any other creatures like that."
Ben looked up at the moon with a groan. Reggie nodded, "Yeah, I'd better be careful in case they try again. If it really was a siren, I should ask Queen Sapphire about. Maybe she knows something that could help."
With that, Reggie flew the two of them back to the castle. As he landed in the garden, he spotted something that made him worried. It was an open window. One he led to the room of the young princes.
He flew up to the window to find it wasn't open. It was broken into. Reggie felt panic as he flew in, making his gold staff appear in his hand.
He saw the two older boys fast asleep in their beds, but when he looked into the baby's crib...
"He's gone," was all Reggie could manage as he looked into the empty crib, "Silver's gone."
Reggie smacked his forehead, "Dang it! That song wasn't to kill me, it was to get me out of the castle!"
Reggie's voice woke the two little princes. Sonic rubbed his eyes, "Reggie? What are you doing in here?"
Shadow noticed the window, "What happened?"
Sonic zoomed over to Reggie and saw Silver missing, "Where's Silver?"
Reggie sighed, "Someone took him."
Shadow gasped as Ben climbed in through the window, "What!? Took Silver? Who would do that? He's a baby!"
Reggie shushed them, "Quiet down. We don't need the whole castle knowing."
Ben looked in the crib, then at Reggie with a couple groans. Reggie sighed, "Yeah, I'm confident that siren got me out of the castle because I would have sensed the intruder. Though, what really bothers me is that my senses don't work on sea creatures. Only land creatures." He looked out the window at the dark forest off in the distance, "Especially the ones from the forest."
He sighed, "I knew those spiders in the forest were working for someone. That time it was Sonic, this time its Silver."
Sonic was confused, "You mean the spiders from when Scourge and I went into the forest?"
Reggie nodded, "They weren't going to eat you, they were going to capture you. Someone wanted those spiders to bring you to them."
Shadow scratched his head, "But why?"
Reggie sighed, "I'm not entirely sure yet," he picked up a knife from the floor, one he easily recognized, "but I have a pretty good idea who's responsible. Its the only person I know capable of controlling that many spiders at once. After all..." He looked serious, "I taught them."
"How could this happen? How didn't anyone hear anything?" were the words of the sorrowful queen. Queen Sapphire sat on the love seat in her sitting room while Kaze comforted her. Darren and Ben stood to one side as Reggie stood before the royal couple.
Reggie spoke, "I'm sorry, my queen. If I knew for certain that someone was after your sons, I would have made sure to prevent it."
Kaze spoke, "Though, you mentioned you had a feeling someone was controlling those spiders to hurt Sonic."
Reggie sighed, "Sadly, that's all it was; a feeling. I couldn't know who sent them or why. I could only imagine it was to kill an important prince who was under no protection. Maybe even a vampire doing it for fun. Though, to see someone kidnap Silver so soon afterwards, with help from a siren no less, I am confident I know who it is."
Sapphire spoke, "Who? And why?"
Reggie was hesitant. He sighed and pulled out a knife. It was a jagged knife with a red hilt and strange symbols along the blade, "Sir Leon's blade. Direct vampire of... The Vampire King."
Darren gasped, "What?! Vampire King!?"
Kaze was confused, "But that's impossible! The kingdom of the vampires fell when the Circle of the Eclipse were slain! How can there be a king?"
Reggie sighed, "About twenty-seven years ago, a powerful vampire decided to resurrect the Kingdom of the Vampires, believing we needed order for peace." He sighed sadly, "And I worked for him."
Darren was till quite shocked, "A Vampire King. The Kingdom of the Vampires has risen again."
Sapphire looked at Reggie, "And you work for him?"
Reggie looked at the floor, his face cold as if he remembered something that made him angry, "Not anymore." He turned to the royals, determined, "But I can see to it your son is returned. I can go get him back."
Now it was Darren's turn to speak, "How? Where did they take him? Why?"
Reggie looked out towards the forest, "If I'm right, they took him to a place called the Heart of the Forest. That's where the Castle of Caveen is hidden. The Heart is a place hidden from the naked eye. Only vampires can reach it. Or survive."
He turned to King Kaze and bowed, "I will go and get Prince Silver back, I swear it."
Sapphire sighed, "Surely we can't let you go alone."
Reggie shook his head, "I have too. Mortals never leave the Heart alive, if they can even make it that far. I have to go alone."
Sapphire spoke softly, "Then, please, be careful. I want you both to come home safely."
Reggie gave a last bow, "I will do my best, my queen. I promise."
Outside of Cosium, just outside of the dark forest Reggie originated from, he sighed. He held his staff tight in his hand as he looked up at the beautiful night sky. Once inside, he wouldn't be able to see it. And he had a troubling feeling that he may not get to see it again.
If he was right about who was responsible, he highly doubted he or Silver ever would again.
To Reggie's surprise, he heard a grunt. He turned to see Benonic walk over. Reggie sighed, "Ben, what are you doing here?"
Ben grunted. Reggie shook his head, "Ben, you're mortal too. An impressive one, but one all the same." Ben grunted and groaned.
Reggie sighed, "I know we agreed we'd look out for each other, but..." Ben gave a last grunt, and Reggie was silent, thinking.
Reggie gave a defeated sighed, "You realize you may not come back if you do this, right? I'm not even confident I will." Ben nodded.
Reggie was against this entirely, but spoke, "Alright, you win." Then he looked dead serious, "But you have to do exactly as I tell you, and you have to stay close at all times. And no matter what, do not trust anyone you may come across. Understand?" Ben nodded, pulling out his knives.
Reggie sighed, "Alright, then lets go. The sooner we go in and find Silver, the sooner we can leave." He flew up, grabbed Ben's hand, and flew into the forest.
They flew for some time without any trouble. Reggie didn't like that, "I should think the closer we get to the Heart, the more trouble we should find. At least the Raiders ought to have spotted us by now and tried to stop us."
Ben looked up at Reggie with a curious grunt. Reggie sighed, "The Fang Raiders. They serve directly under the king, led by the vampire I believe took Silver." Reggie looked hateful as he spoke in a low voice, "Leon, if you've hurt Silver, I swear you'll be sorry for it." Ben could see how deeply Reggie hated the vampires they were up against. The vampires who would have been his allies at a time when he worked for the king.
Soon, Reggie landed and looked ahead. There stood a marble door frame, right in the middle of a clearing. Even the clearing was blocked from the sky by the long branches and bending trees that closed out any sign of the sky above. Reggie sighed, "This is the way into the Heart."
Ben looked around the clearing with a groan. Reggie sighed, "You're mortal, Benny, so you can't actually see the doorway into the Heart. Usually, a mortal like you wouldn't even be able to reach this clearing because the Fang Raiders protect it from any threats, even other vampires. The fact that they haven't tried to stop us tells me something more important is going on in the Heart, keeping all of their attention. They must not expect any trouble from Cosium. After all, this kidnapping would have led to an all out war if it were any other kingdom, and planning a war takes time. They probably don't expect an attack until at least dawn."
Reggie took Ben's wrist, "Now remember what I told you. Listen to me, stay close, and don't trust anyone." Ben nodded and let Reggie lead him through the doorway he couldn't see.
Suddenly, they were standing in a large clearing. This time, the sky was visible. A large full moon shone down on everything, creating a soft blue lighting effect as a cool breeze created constant movement in the trees. Far up ahead on a hill was a large black castle with tall towers that touched the sky.
Reggie sighed, "I never thought I'd come back here." He looked almost sad as he watched the castle, "Its been such a long time. I wonder how Max is." He shook the thoughts from his head and became serious, "Come on, Ben. Let's hurry and find the Fang Raiders."
"Little late for that." Reggie spun around to see a group of about five vampires. One of the vampires smirked, "Seems we're the ones who found you."
Reggie and Ben faced them. Reggie looked determined, "Where is Leon?"
Another vampire scoffed, "Busy with important matters. I should think we're more than enough for you two." He pulled out a long sword.
Reggie looked cold, "I highly doubt you want to do that." He held his staff ready. When they saw his staff, they gasped and backed up.
One vampire hissed, "That's the Staff of Zarok!"
Another vampires gasped, "Then that means you're..."
Reggie spoke, "I am the vampire Reggie, the last of the Circle of the Eclipse. Tell me where Leon is. Now."
Then a familiar vampire stepped forward, "Who are you to make such demands here, Reggie?"
Reggie hissed at the vampire, "Saphir."
Saphir smirked, "Well, what a surprise. The boy returns. Finally turned against you, did they?"
Ben grunted, ready to cut him in two after what happened the last time he saw Saphir, but Reggie stopped him, "Don't. There's no need." He glared at Saphir, "Stay out of my way, Saphir."
Saphir chuckled, "And what makes you think I'll do that?"
Reggie held his staff tightly, "Because we're not in Cosium this time. We are in the Heart. And I'm sure you remember what that means." His staff changed into a deadly sword. He held the tip of the sword to Saphir's throat, "In the Heart, my power is ten times stronger. After all,..." He pushed the tip closer, "..we both know who created the Heart, right?"
Saphir hissed, "Zarok."
Reggie spoke, "Zarok created this place to protect the castle, meaning the very air of this place empowers me. Fight me, and I'll cut you to pieces without batting an eye. Got it?" His gaze was deadly, "Now where is Leon?"
"Right here." Reggie turned to the vampire who had just walked over.
The vampire was a black hedgehog with eyes matching Reggie's. His black bangs were long and his vampire wings were large. He wore a black long-sleeved shirt under a short-sleeved red jacket and dark red shorts. He spoke, looking at Reggie with dislike, "What are you doing here, Reggie?"
Reggie lowered his sword, "Leon. I'm here for Silver. Give him back."
Leon scoffed, "You have no authority to come here and make demands. As far as I'm concerned, you're a traitor."
Reggie rolled his eyes, "Well, then I guess its a good thing I don't care about your concern."
Leon hissed angrily at him, "You always were a wild card. Always had to do everything your way, no matter who got hurt."
Reggie laughed coldly, "This coming from you? The vampire who would kidnap an innocent child just because he can?"
Leon glared at him, "I will do whatever is necessary to protect everyone. Whether its kidnapping a child, or killing a woman. If you could even call her a woman." Reggie hissed hatefully at the mention of the woman. Ben could easily see there was a deeper story there.
Reggie faced Leon, "Give me back Silver."
Leon rolled his eyes, "I don't even know who that is."
Reggie gripped his sword tight, "I don't believe you." He pulled out the knife from his belt and tossed it at Leon's feet.
Leon picked it up and twisted it in his fingers, "I wondered where I left that." He turned to Reggie, balancing the knife on its tip on his one finger, "If this is supposed to be your proof that I know what the felteek you're talking about, then you're really stupid." Ben recognized the word "felteek" as a Voice of the Dead word, a language only vampires could speak or understand. He'd heard Reggie use it before.
Reggie spoke entirely of the Voice of the Dead and Leon responded in the same manner, looking bored with Reggie. Reggie glared at Leon and spoke again, but Ben couldn't understand any of it. Then Leon scoffed, "One word; Gorgon."
Suddenly, Reggie pounced at Leon, but Leon countered his blade with his knife. Reggie glared at Leon, "Don't think I've forgiven you for that."
Leon smirked, "Good, because I still hate you for it too." They were immediately at it. Ben watched as Reggie and Leon fought with great skill and speed. He could easily see how Reggie's power had risen as he fought, but Leon was clearly the more skilled fighter.
Suddenly, the other vampires surrounded Ben. Ben pulled out his knives as Saphir grinned coldly, "I warned you I would get you, assassin." He turned to the other vampires, "Kill him. Don't leave enough to identify."
Reggie gasped as the vampires closed in on Ben, "No! Leave him...!" He was suddenly knocked aside by Leon.
Leon pinned him to the ground, "Don't act surprised. Mortals are not welcome in the Heart. He asked for death the moment he entered our sanctum." He smirked, "You really should have told him that before bringing him to his demise." Reggie glared and managed to over power Leon, knocked him off him.
Ben fought hard against the vampires, but they were far faster than him. He blocked most of their attacks, but magic shots were much harder. He soon was getting overwhelmed. Sadly, Reggie wasn't doing much better as Saphir joined Leon.
Reggie was slammed to the ground painfully, causing him to lose his sword, which changed back into a staff. Reggie couldn't even get back to his feet as Leon stood over him. Leon looked cold, "I think this is fitting. The punishment for your past crimes. About time." Reggie hissed at him, but even that was weak.
Ben saw Reggie was in trouble and became determined. He managed to knock several vampires aside and get between Leon and Reggie. Reggie was surprised, "Ben?"
Ben stayed in the way. Leon was surprised, then annoyed, "Get out of my way, mortal." Ben didn't budge.
Saphir smirked, "I'll remove him, Sir Leon. It'll be no trouble." He made a ball of deathly green light in his hand.
Reggie spoke up, "Ben, move! That hex will kill you!" Ben didn't move as he groaned. Leon was surprised, able to understand just like Reggie. Reggie wasn't having it, "I told you that you had to listen to me, remember? Now is the time you have to do that! Now move!" Ben shook his head, facing Leon and Saphir.
Saphir readied to shoot Ben. Reggie groaned, "Dang it, Ben!" He got to his feet and shoved Ben out of the way as the hex was shot. It just missed them as they fell to the ground. Reggie looked mad, "I told you you had to listen to me! I'm not having you killed for me like that, Ben!"
Ben sat up with a grunt. Reggie scoffed, "You're the king's brother, of course your life is more important than mine! We came to save Silver, not add to the list of hostages!" They both gasped as Saphir aimed another hex at them.
Before he could fire, someone stepped in the way. Reggie was surprised by the black hedgehog girl with long black hair and blue eyes with red rings in them, "Serena?"
Leon gasped and stopped Saphir, "Watch it, you idiot! You'll hit the princess!" He and the other vampires immediately fell down on one knee, bowing to the girl.
Serena smiled, "Leon, don't bow. You know I don't like when you bow to me."
Leon stood up, "Of course, my princess. I apologize."
She giggled, "Princess? And here I thought I was more important to you than just your princess."
Leon blushed, "Of course you are! I just... I mean..."
Serena kissed his cheek, "You really are too cute, Leon." His face went beet red.
Then Serena turned to Reggie and Ben, "Are you both alright?"
Reggie nodded, "Yes, we're alright." He glanced at Ben, "We are alright, right?" Ben nodded, which seemed to make Reggie happy to see.
Serena sighed as she turned to her vampires, "I must say I'm disappointed. My vampires fighting each other like this, and for what? Old rivalries?" The vampires all looked ashamed to have disappointed their beautiful princess. All except Saphir. He looked annoyed.
Leon spoke up, though his cheeks were still pink, "He came here picking a fight."
Reggie looked annoyed, "No, I came to get back what you took."
Leon rolled his eyes, "What, this Silver person?"
Reggie stepped forward, "That's Prince Silver of Cosium. Someone took him tonight and I want him back. I found your knife in their room, and a couple previous events tell me you all are involved in trying to kidnap the princes."
Leon scoffed, "And why would we do that?"
Reggie crossed his arms, "To start the war you seem to want so badly. Don't think I've forgotten how you feel about Cosium."
Leon laughed coldly, "It's not Cosium I hate, its the idiot traitor who ran off there when we needed him."
Reggie got in Leon's face, "I did no such thing! I went to make things right, but you kidnapping innocent children isn't helping in the least!"
Leon smirked, "I'm surprised they didn't pin it on you. There's a vampire right in front of them. Who better to pin the blame on?"
Reggie was angry, "You did it to get me in trouble?"
Leon rolled his eyes, "No, I didn't. I didn't even take the brat! I've never been to Cosium before! Unlike you, I know my place is here, protecting the kingdom."
Serena spoke as Reggie opened his mouth to speak, "Reggie." Reggie stopped and looked at her. She sighed, "We don't have your prince."
Reggie turned to her, "How can I believe that? It was you who sent those spiders after Prince Sonic and Prince Scourge, wasn't it?"
Serena hesitated, but sighed, "Yes." Reggie scoffed, but she spoke again, "But not for the reason you think. I wished no harm to the princes. I only wished to bring them to the castle." She looked sincere, "I know what they mean to you, Reggie. I would never wish to hurt them."
Reggie was silent, deciding whether to believe her or not. Ben groaned. Reggie looked surprised, "You do?" Ben nodded.
Serena smiled, "I'm grateful to see you believe me, assassin. I sensed them in the forest and decided I ought to bring them out of danger. Any number of creatures in this forest could have hurt them, so I knew only with me would they be safe."
Reggie thought about it, then sighed, "Alright. I believe you. Only because you've never lied to me before, and I trust Ben's judgement." Serena smiled.
Leon looked annoyed, "You know, most vampires would trust Serena because she's their princess. Last I checked, she was your's too. You never did know how to show respect to the king or his daughter."
Reggie shrugged, "Showing respect was never my strongest suit. Unlike you, respect and utter servitude are two different things to me." Leon glared at him. Reggie sighed, "But if you didn't take Prince Silver, who did?"
Ben then remembered something and grunted a couple times. Reggie was surprised, "Oh yeah. The siren." He turned to Serena, "Princess, you know all the vampires of the forest, right? Is there any who are involved with sea creatures?"
Serena nodded, "Only one possible vampire comes to mind." She had a quick glance at Leon, as if worried about something, but he didn't notice. She turned back to Reggie, "..but I should think you know them better than I would. After all,..." Reggie paled at her next few words, "..you spent most of your life with him."
Reggie was pale as a sheet, "Oh no." Ben was confused, grunting curiously. Reggie sighed, "Vizen."
Reggie stood before the house he knew so well. He felt a mixture of feelings as he looked at it. Even as it looked completely abandoned, those feelings were still very strong. Reggie sighed, "I can't believe I'm back here."
Leon scoffed, standing off to one side, "I can't believe Serena convinced me to come along. I have better things to do than be your tour guide. If you hadn't run off, you'd remember your way around. And why would I care about the stupid brat anyways? He's not my problem or my responsibility."
Reggie glared back at him, "You know what? You..." Ben stopped him by laying a hand on his shoulder and giving a soft grunt. Reggie hissed, holding back whatever he wanted to say, "I know. We have to find Silver." He sighed, calming down, "Look, obviously, Vizen isn't here. Do you know where he is now, Leon?"
Leon shrugged, "Beats me. He was here just a couple days ago. I had to come check things out when rumors started going around that he was dealing with outside company. That's probably why Serena suspects him."
Reggie scoffed, "Leon, he's been dealing with outside company before I even became a vampire and showed up here in the forest."
Leon glared at him, "Impossible. I never found anything to prove that."
Reggie smirked, "Of course not. He knows how to clean up after himself." He turned away, "Besides, with someone as gullible as you..."
Leon hissed, "Watch your mouth, Reggie."
Reggie laughed coldly, "Or what? Serena said you were to help me find Silver. You wouldn't dare disobey her, would you?" Leon was silent. Reggie sighed, "That's what I thought."
Reggie glanced at Leon, "You're stupidly loyal, Leon. I hope you remember I said that when everything you believe in comes crashing down around you, because I promise you it will." He walked up to the door of the house, "It certainly did for me." He pushed open the creaky door and walked inside, "Maybe there's a sign of where he went. Or maybe some sign of where Silver is. Come on." Ben and Leon followed.
Reggie walked through the house, everything just as he remembered it. He made his staff appear as he continued on, creating a golden light. He stopped when he reached a large room. Several torture devices sat around, all unused for a very long time.
Reggie sighed, "To think, I've been in every one of these things."
Leon rolled his eyes, "Might help if you didn't touch things you shouldn't."
Reggie gave him a look, "Or if your boss didn't always need a test subject."
Leon crossed his arms, "You expect me to believe Vizen, one of the most respected vampires in this forest, purposely used all these tortures on you, just to test them?"
Reggie sighed, "No, I don't expect you to ever believe something so obvious and simple." Leon was about to argue, but then they heard a sound. Reggie gasped as he recognized it, "Its Silver!"
Suddenly, the floor opened up from under them and they fell. They dropped in a large cage made of magic and the top closed over them. The cage was set up on a large machine, which carried the cage over to one side, right in front of a very familiar vampire.
Reggie hissed as he got out from under Leon, "Vizen."
Vizen grinned, "We meet again. Its been a long time, hasn't it, boy?"
Instead of giving a cruel remark, Reggie felt something in his chest. Fear. He gasped as he realized...
Reggie paled, "My magic. Its not working anymore."
Leon scoffed, "So?"
Vizen grinned as he saw the nervousness in Reggie's face, "Ah, there's the boy I remember. The one who feared me. The one who knew better than to anger me. The weak, frightened boy I created through pain and punishment. My little Reggie." Reggie couldn't even find it in himself to hiss at him.
Leon remembered, "Oh right. Without Zarok's magic, you're nothing more than a powerless coward. I remember now." He smirked coldly, "Figures you would be so pathetic without all those great powers. I always knew you were all talk." Reggie looked away, both angry and ashamed. Benonic watched, taking in what was happening.
Vizen smirked, "Well, I suppose you want this back." He walked over to a smaller cage on a table.
Reggie gasped, "Silver!" Little Silver was playing with a metal rod in his cage.
Vizen chuckled, "I must say, I'm impressed with the little one. He hasn't annoyed me once since I stole him from those royal fools."
Leon crossed his arms, "Just what do you want with a baby? A respectable vampire like you would have no need."
Vizen smiled, "You're right! I would have no need at all!" His smile grew cold, "That's why I'm doing this for someone else entirely."
Leon was surprised, "Someone else?" Reggie didn't look surprised at all. In fact, from how Benonic saw it, he knew exactly what was going on.
Vizen continued, "You see, what better way to start war with the Coizards than to hit them where it really hurts?" He pat the cage with Silver in it, "I think this will do just fine. After all, what could be more precious to a parent than their own child?" He turned to Reggie, "And to make things all the more tempting, I get my hands on the rat who turned on me in the process. I was happy to go along with this little plot."
Reggie spoke, "Look Vizen, if you want me, you got me. Do whatever you want to me, but, please, let the kid go. He's just a child. He's innocent. You can't kill innocence!"
Vizen shrugged, "Can't I? I don't see why not." He grinned, "Besides, from the looks of it, it'll hurt you too if anything happened to him. How could I pass it up? It'll be far more satisfying a torture on you than anything I ever built and stuffed you into." Reggie looked worried.
Leon was surprised, "Wait, you really did..."
Vizen waved him off, "Oh will you shut up?" Then he thought about it and chuckled coldly, "Actually, I really must say its funny seeing you here, Leon. I would have thought he'd keep you away so you wouldn't get a clue."
Leon was confused, "What are you talking about?"
Vizen sighed, "Oh you poor, stupid fool. Won't even believe what is right in front of you unless someone tells you to. I could release you right now, tell you its all ok, and you'd easily turn a blind eye without ever once giving it a second thought."
Leon looked annoyed, "Look here, Vizen, I..."
Vizen cut him off with a bored look, "Honestly, Leon, you must be the stupidest vampire I've ever known." Leon looked surprised by that. Vizen continued, "I mean really, every time you come here to make sure everything is legit, you believe me every time. You ignore the most obvious things right in front of you just because you're told to."
He smirked, "Well, since he doesn't seem to be interested in hiding anything from you anymore, I might as well say it. After all, he'll have more than enough other idiots to use when I kill you." He stood in front of Leon, "You're watching me begin a war with Cosium by killing an innocent baby and Reggie, and even this tag along, and you won't care so long as the king doesn't tell you to."
Leon was angry, "That's not true!"
Reggie sighed, "Here it comes." Ben was curious what he meant.
Vizen grinned cruelly, "Fool, who do you think gains anything from me starting a war for him? Hmm? For once in your life, think about it. Think for yourself."
Leon was silent. Reggie and Ben could see the pain in his eyes as he came to understand. He managed words, "...but... he would never... the king... he wouldn't do that..."
Vizen continued, "Who do you think I've been working for after all these years? I work for the king, you idiot!" Leon looked as if someone stabbed him.
Vizen scoffed, "Foolish boy. You really are so naive. No wonder the king made you his right-hand vampire. You're the only fool gullible enough to play to his whim without question." He turned and walked away, "I'll give you time to think about that." Then he closed the door behind him, leaving them and Silver to themselves.
Reggie sighed, "And there you have it."
Ben understood. The king was the one trying to start war with Cosium. He was the one who had Vizen kidnap Silver. And Leon knew nothing about it.
But Reggie did.
Leon looked at Reggie, "You knew?"
Reggie sat with a sigh, "Why do you think I left the Fang Raiders?"
Leon turned to him, angry, "Because you stupidly fell in love with that gorgon, that's why! Because you didn't care for your fellow vampires when they needed you! Because..."
Reggie sighed, "Because I knew how to think for myself and see things for what they really were." Leon was silent. Reggie shook his head, "Leon, you saw Vizen. You heard him. Yet, you'll still stand here and pretend none of it ever happened. All because you won't trust your own eyes, your own ears, or your own heart."
Leon scoffed, "Vampires don't have hearts, Reggie."
Reggie glanced at him, "And who told you that?" That shut Leon up. It was obvious who told him that; the very person in question.
Benonic groaned and grunted to Reggie. Reggie stood up, "You're right. We need to get out of here, get Silver, and get him home."
Suddenly, a black, mud-like substance started pouring into the small room and filling it fast. Reggie gasped, "Oh you've got to be kidding me. I remember what this room was for now. I still remember sorting through the blueprints for this torture. I'm almost embarrassed I didn't remember sooner."
Ben pulled out his knives and started hacking at the cage, but nothing worked. Leon scoffed, "Don't waste your time. Only breaking the key will open the cage." He pointed at the glowing blue orb on the other-side of the room.
Reggie thought fast as the black substance rose to their knees, "We need to break that key, but how? We can't get through this cage, so no throwing anything at it. Our magic is cut off, so that's out too."
Ben looked at the sludge reached his waist and grunted. Reggie groaned, "I know, I know, but I can't think of anything." Then he noticed Silver still playing with the rod.
Then it hit Reggie, "Of course." He turned to Leon, "Leon, you need to scare Silver."
Leon looked annoyed, "Excuse me?"
Reggie noticed the sludge getting higher fast, "You need to scare Silver! Right now! Scare him!"
Leon crossed his arms, "You're kidding, right? Why in the world would I do that?"
Reggie groaned angrily, "We don't have time for this, Leon!" He felt his legs getting weak, "Leon, this stuff is going to weaken us so we can't swim or even struggle! That's the torture! Now the only way we're getting out of here is if you scare Silver!" Ben caught Reggie as his legs gave out from under him.
Leon scoffed as he held the cage to keep from falling in, "How the zitik is scaring a baby going to help us?"
Reggie yelled at him as the sludge reached their chins, which meant it had just started reaching Silver's cage on the table, "For once in your life, Leon, do the right thing and scare Silver right now!!" He gasped as Ben's body finally gave out and they both sank.
Leon groaned, "Oh for the love of..." He turned to Silver and hissed, saying a spell to make himself scary in the Voice of the Dead as he did. That did the trick.
Little Silver's lip puckered and his big gold eyes filled with tears. He burst into tears and the show began. Everything loose in the room shot around like bullets, controlled by his uncontrolled powers. That included the key, which smashed against a wall and destroyed the cage. It also changed the sludge into regular water. Leon was surprised by the event as Reggie and Benonic got to their feet and gasped for air.
Reggie shoved past Leon and swam over to Silver, who was sitting in water that reached over his waist, still crying miserably. Reggie picked up the little hedgehog and comforted him, "Easy, kiddo, easy. Its okay. Reggie's got you." Just the sound of Reggie's voice started to calm the little prince, which in turn calmed the power surging through the room. Soon, Silver stopped crying and everything fell into the water.
Leon and Ben swam over. Leon was still surprised, "What in the world just happened?"
Reggie sat the little hedgehog on his shoulders, out of the water, "Not the time, Leon. We need to leave. Come on." He led the way to the door.
After some time and ladder climbing, they finally reached inside the house. Reggie handed Silver up to Ben and climbed out. Though, he cried out as something shot him in the back. He fell to his knees as Vizen walked over.
Vizen looked angry, "You just refuse to die. I see why the king was worried about dealing with you." He created another ball of black fire in his hand, "I suppose I'll have to turn things up a notch."
Reggie got to his feet and faced Vizen, making his staff appear, "We'll see about that." Though, he felt the pain of the shot he took, making it hard just to stand. Ben and Leon could see it.
Vizen could too and he laughed, "Foolish boy. Still trying to be the hero." He threw the fire and Reggie deflected it, but was surprised to find Vizen had managed to use his vampire speed and get behind him. He was easily knocked into the side of one of the torture contraptions.
Vizen picked up a jagged sword with a cruel grin, "Let's see. Remove your limbs slowly, poke and prod at you bit, or maybe just behead you outright. Though, you know me and my tortures. How can I pass them up, especially on you? After all, you are my little torture subject. Might as well make that the last thing you ever do." Reggie looked a little worried.
Benonic saw his friend in trouble and his killer instincts kicked in. He handed Silver to Leon as Vizen raised his sword. Everyone was surprised when Ben was suddenly countering Vizen's blade with his two knives. His eyes were blood red as he fought off Vizen on his own. If there was one thing you never, ever did, it was mess with Benonic's family or friends.
Vizen had powerful swings, but Ben was much faster. Even when Vizen used his vampire speed, Benonic was one step ahead of him. Ben used the many large contraptions to his advantage, slipping under them to duck from swings or even to get up above Vizen to get the upper-hand in the fight.
He also managed to get Vizen to cut through certain ropes or beams on the contraptions around them. Reggie noticed right away and understood what Ben was up to. He got to his feet and started working on one of them. Leon noticed as he held the little prince.
Though, Vizen noticed Reggie's quick work and caught on. He stopped in front of a chair-like contraption as Benonic came at him. He ducked back and managed to strap Ben's wrist to the arm of the chair and pull a switch. Ben was immediately shocked by a powerful voltage of electricity.
Reggie saw this and gasped, "Ben!" He gasped when a blade hit the wood beam next to him. He turned to see Vizen. Vizen grinned coldly, holding the blade tip to Reggie's throat, "Now, about what we were saying earlier. Limb removal or stabbing. Which to choose." Reggie knew he was in trouble, but so was Ben.
Though, as Vizen's attention was turned of Reggie, Leon pulled out his knife and cut the strap, freeing Ben from the electric surge. Ben was, to Leon's surprise, only dazed. Ben saw Reggie's situation and grabbed the ropes on another contraption.
Vizen pressed the tip to Reggie's throat, "I think I've decided." Reggie winced as the tip pierced his skin and caused it to bleed.
Suddenly, Ben got a noose around Vizen's neck and tightened it. Vizen dropped his sword in the surprise and tried to get the rope from around his neck. Leon quickly pulled the lever of the contraption, which pulled Vizen back. Reggie sighed with relief, holding his neck as he watched Leon and Ben at work. Ben quickly roped Vizen's wrists and ankles as the contraption continued to pull. Vizen tried to struggle, but now his arms and legs were being pulled in the opposite direction of the rope around his neck.
Leon and Ben stepped back as the rack torture did its job, running on a motor that continued to pull slowly. Reggie picked up Silver from where Leon sat him off in a corner and watched with the other two, keeping little Silver from watching. Vizen hissed angrily, "You won't get away with this! You'll all pay! I swear it!!"
Reggie glared at Vizen, "Maybe, but from the looks of it, you may not live long enough to see that day." Leon and Ben walked for the door and Reggie followed. Reggie stopped and gave one last cold look, "I hope you never got around to improving that contraption to rip people in two, Vizen. For your sake." His eyes were cold as ice, "I always knew your own evil would be the death of you." He turned and walked away as Vizen cried out in pain, just the way Reggie did so many year ago in the very same tortures.
As Reggie walked outside to join Leon and Ben, he noticed that he could no longer hear Vizen. He knew it was over. Vizen was gone.
He sighed, "Well, we got Silver back. Now we can return him home." He smiled at Ben, who was still worn out from the electric shock, "Thanks for coming to my rescue, Benny. Twice. Actually, that's the third time tonight, isn't it?" Ben grunted, which meant 'your welcome'.
"Well done, Reggie." Reggie hissed as he and Benonic turned to Leon.
Leon's red eyes were now gold and his demeanor had changed. He grinned a cool, calm, clever grin as he crossed his arms behind his back. He spoke in what sounded like two voices at once, one being Leon's voice and the other being much older and darker.
Reggie glared at him, "The king." Ben was surprised.
Leon, or whoever stood before them, chuckled darkly, "Welcome back, Reggie. I see you are well."
Reggie hissed at him, "No thanks to you. You really have fallen far. Here I thought you were heartless before, but now just hearing your voice makes me sick. How could you go to such levels like this? Kidnapping? Shady underground dealing? Murder? And I used to think just your manipulation and lies were horrible."
The king smirked, "Don't judge me, Reggie. I do what I must for my kind. Something you never could understand. It really is a pity. Such power, such potential, yet such foolishness to wield it. I'll never see why Zarok chose you."
He chuckled, "Then again, he always was a strange one. He and all of the others of the Circle. Peace made through kindness and understanding. In the end, what did it gain them? Nothing but death. Horrible, agonizing, painful death. Now, everything they fought so foolishly for has now been dropped on you, Reggie. Surely you must feel angry about that."
Reggie was determined, "If it wasn't for Zarok, I would never have gotten this far. I would never have learned and understood everything I do now. I'm not like Leon, who takes everything for what he's told it is. Because of Zarok, now I can see and understand everything. I'm not blinded by the likes of you or anyone else. I'm not afraid to fight for what I believe in." He smirked, "And one day, neither will anyone else. One day, they'll know who you really are. And when that day comes..."
He made his staff into a sword and held the tip to the king's, or rather Leon's, throat, "..I'll be right there helping them bring you down."
The king chuckled, "We'll see." The gold in his eyes started to turn back to red, "Until then, boy."
Leon blinked, looking surprised. He saw Reggie's sword and hissed, "This is what I get for helping you and your little buddy?"
Reggie turned it back into a staff and made it disappear, "No. Actually, I'm grateful. I saw you step in to save Ben." He sighed, "Thank you, Leon."
Leon looked him over, as if not sure he honestly believed Reggie really meant it, then sighed, "Sure, I guess."
Reggie watched little Silver fall asleep in his arms, "So, what now? Going to turn a blind eye on all this? I can promise you the king will..."
Leon spoke up, not looking at him, "I just... need time. I need..." He sighed, looking a bit lost. He looked almost like a child who was confused and couldn't figure out what was what anymore.
Reggie understood, "Yeah. I guess you have a lot to think about." He smiled, "I'm sure Serena can help you with that."
Leon looked surprised, "Serena? She..." He looked worried, if not a little heartbroken, "..she doesn't... doesn't know, does she?"
Reggie sighed, "Ask her. For once, do what you believe is right." He smiled, "I think its about time she saw that heart she seems to love so much. After everything she'd done for you so far, you owe her at least that much." Leon was silent, letting everything sink in.
Reggie turned with a sigh, "Come on, Benny. Let's go." He glanced back at Leon, "See you around, Leon." He and Benonic started for Cosium.
Before they left, Leon spoke up, "I'm sorry about Malan, Reggie." Reggie stopped, not saying a word. Ben wondered what that meant. He was a little surprised to see Reggie looking quite sad.
Though, Reggie didn't say a word as he continued on. Ben wondered if it had to do with the event with the gorgon they seemed to have been arguing over before. He didn't ask and followed Reggie. He knew Reggie had been through enough.
With that, the two headed for home.
Back at the castle, a little after dawn, Sapphire hugged her baby close, her beautiful green eyes full of tears. The little prince was groggy and tired as his mother continued to cuddle him close. He even started to whine, very sleepy after his long night.
Kaze smiled and turned to Reggie, "I don't know how we could ever thank you, Reggie. You not only returned our son, but also destroyed the plot to start war."
Reggie, who was getting patched up by Darren and Trails with Benonic, sighed, "There's no need to thank me. It was my fault he was taken in the first place. I just hope you can forgive me for this mess."
Sapphire smiled kindly, letting Silver sleep in her arms, "I don't care why this happened or who did it or who's responsible, I'm just happy everyone is back safe and sound. I know it must have been difficult for you to go back there and fight your own kind to get him back."
Reggie was silent, thinking over everything that happened. They could see she was right. The pain was clear in his eyes.
Kaze sighed, "Well, like Sapphire said, we're all just happy everyone is home safely. Now, you and Ben can rest. I'm sure you both could use it." Ben shrugged, being used to this kind of thing.
Reggie smiled softly, "Thank you, your highness."
Later that day, while Reggie was sitting by himself in the royal garden under a tree, Benonic joined him. He sat down next to Reggie and groaned. Reggie was surprised as he turned to him, "What?" Ben groaned again, repeating himself.
Reggie looked at the roses growing nearby, "Oh. I guess you would be curious about that, huh?" Reggie knew Ben was asking about the gorgon.
Reggie sighed, "It was shortly after I joined the Fang Raiders. When they asked me to join them and use my new power to help create peace for the vampires, I was happy to join them. I felt that I had finally found my place to do what was right."
He looked at the sky, "One day, the king asked me to join Leon and the others on an important mission. It was to be my very first since joining. Everyone admired and respected me, making me feel like one of the team. I really looked forward to working with them." He stopped a moment, remembering. Ben waited patiently.
Reggie finally continued, "We were going to hunt down a gorgon who was living in the forest. She had turned several vampires to stone, so we were going to get rid of her. In fact, some believed that the only way to free the vampires from the stone was to kill her."
He sighed, "Though, it felt wrong. I didn't feel right going into her territory to kill her. After all, the vampires who were turned knew full well they were entering her territory and they knew the risks. It was only fair she would protect herself, right?" Ben nodded in agreement.
Reggie scoffed, "Well, no one else could agree. They all told me I was thinking about it too hard. The king gave an order and it was our duty to carry it out. Never question the king, that was their way."
He hugged his knees to his chest, "At some point, I got separated for the others. My staff was trying to show me something, so I let it guide me. I was wandering alone when I met her." He smiled softly, "Her name was Malan. She was a very beautiful gorgon, even if her skin was green and her hair was nothing but snakes. Though, what surprised me was that she didn't turn me to stone. She'd actually learned how to avoid it by wearing a pair of glasses. So long as I didn't look directly into her eyes, I was fine. The fact that she didn't try to hurt me made me trust her right away."
He sighed as he remembered, "We talked and she told me of how vampires had continued to come hunt her. It really sounded just like how people hunted us vampires in our forest. It made me feel even worst about the king's mission for us. She even told me that there was no chance killing her would reverse her powers' effects. Nothing could. I believed her and promised to try to stop the others from hurting her." He sighed, "Of course, nothing ever works out the way we hope."
He glanced at Benonic, "You remember when Sonic was pressured by Scourge to go into the forest?" Ben nodded. Reggie continued, "Well, do you remember when he asked me if I was ever pressured to do something that hurt someone?" Ben nodded again.
Reggie sighed sadly, "Well, that's when it happened. Leon and the others told me I had to capture her. I was the only one powerful enough to do it. I had to follow through with my duty as part of the Fang Raiders. I had her trust, so it would be easy." He sighed, "And I did. I tricked her and caught her easily. I even used my power to prevent her powers from turning any of us. She was so hurt and angry. I knew what I'd done was unforgivable, but what else could I do? I had a duty. I had to go through with it."
He leaned back against the tree, "It was at that moment I realized it. I didn't have to go through with it. I came to understand that I didn't have to. I could do whatever I wanted to. I knew right from wrong, so I just had to trust in that. It was the king who told me this was right, but I knew in my own heart it wasn't. Zarok said I had to do what was right, and I finally came to understand what he meant. I didn't have to do what everyone said was right, I had to do what I believed was right."
He smiled, "So I did. I freed Malan, fought off the other Fang Raiders, and I let her escape. Of course, everyone was furious with me for it. Especially Leon. He didn't believe that killing Malan wouldn't bring back the stone vampires. He believed I had fallen in love with her and let her charm fool me. That I chose her over the lives of those other vampires. Shortly afterwards, after a confrontation with the king that made everything clear to me, I left the Fang Raiders and never returned. Until last night."
He sighed, "I I don't know if Malan ever forgave me for my betrayal. I'm pretty sure she didn't. I never saw her again. I'm almost afraid she never got away. That a vampire managed to find her and hurt her. I hope she did escape. Far, far away where she'll be safe." Ben sat in silence next to his friend.
Reggie smiled, "And that's the story, Benny-boy. The story of how this old vampire gained and lost everything. The day everything I believed in came crashing down around me, just as I'm sure it did for Leon last night." He stood up with a sigh, "I really hope he changes. He's not a bad person, just confused. I can understand why Serena cares so dearly for him. If he learned to opened his eyes and use his heart, he could make a real difference in the forest. He's practically a prince to everyone. If he changed, I'm confident everyone would follow him."
He looked at Ben, "I may not be able to make a change, but Leon can. Sometimes I think I didn't get Zarok's power to change all the vampires and all the people of Cosium, just to change one. And that one would be Leon." He chuckled sadly, "Great job I'm doing on that, huh? Seeing as he hates me."
Ben stood up with a soft grunt and groan. He continued to give groans, grunts, and moans as he spoke to Reggie. Reggie knew what he was saying. He simply said that he didn't see hate that night they were working together. He saw a vampire who, even if just for a moment, chose to do the right thing. At that moment when he and Reggie were in trouble, Leon came in and helped. No one told him to, he didn't turn a blind eye on anything, and someone who hated them would never have done that.
Reggie smiled as Ben continued, saying how even if he didn't change, he was heading in the right direction. Something in him changed and it had changed for the better. He agreed with Reggie, Leon wasn't a bad person. All he needed was someone to care enough to show him the truth, and Reggie did that.
Reggie smiled kindly, "Thanks, Benny. I hope you're right."
He nudged Ben, "But don't think I forgot. You promised to do as I said, and you didn't. I'm still mad at you for that."
Ben gave a bow, grunting his apology. Reggie sighed, "I know you didn't want to stand by and let them kill me, but I don't want you dying for me either. I would have survived that hex, you wouldn't. I'm a vampire, Benny. There are just somethings I have to take or do that you can't help me with. No one can. Its part of the curse of being a vampire."
He turned to Benonic, "One day, I'll have to make a sacrifice, and I don't want you trying to stop it or make it for me. I need to know I can trust you to let me fight my own battles. Some battles can only be fought alone." He looked serious, "I need to know you understand that."
Ben could see the fiery power in Reggie's eyes, the power that came with his staff from Zarok. He always knew Reggie was someone different, someone special. It almost seemed like his talk about making a sacrifice was destined to happen. Like Reggie knew something he didn't. He sighed and nodded.
Reggie's face softened, "Okay. Good." He smiled, "You're my friend, Benny. I know we agreed we'd look out for each other, but the most important thing you can do for me as my friend is trust me. Can you do that?" Benonic nodded and Reggie smiled.
Reggie sighed, grateful, "Good." He put an arm around Ben's shoulders and smiled, "Come on. After last night, I realize we really need to practice our fighting more. We were getting creamed out there. Perhaps some dueling will do us both good. Okay?" He winked at Ben and he nodded in agreement. With that, the two friends headed off.