NIGHT OF THE TOXIC VAMPIRES
Per your request, I set out on foot to discover why communications between the Arlington Warren and our own have ceased.
I arrived at Morrow’s Cave, the traditional entrance to the warren, at approximately 10 p.m. I have never been superstitious by nature, but you are older than I and have seen many wonders, so perhaps you will understand when I say that something about the very landscape frightened me. Never have I seen a place so desolate and devoid of life. No birds sang, no bugs hummed; no trees, no shrubs, not even grass grew there. It was as if something had dropped down from the sky and sucked the life from the place. The stillness itself was menacing. It was the silence one sometimes feels in the night before one’s Beast claws its way to the surface.
But I digress. I entered the cave and crawled down the tunnel leading to the warren. Upon arriving, I was profoundly surprised to find the entire structure abandoned. The traps, et al. were still in place, but save for the usual animal guards, there was no sign of occupation.
In the deepest, rearmost room of the warren I found a recently constructed tunnel sloping downward. I did not remember this tunnel from previous visits. Having nowhere else to go, I descended into whatever depths lay below. As I traversed the tunnel, I noticed a peculiar architectural feature, one I found rather disturbing. The tunnel had been rather roughly and unskillfully hewn, and judging by the chisel marks, it had been cut upward – from below.
The tunnel sloped into the earth for roughly half a mile, whereupon it widened into what was evidently a natural cavern. I am Nosferatu, of course, and long ago desensitized myself to the niceties of aroma, but the stench that emanated from that place was nauseating in the extreme. The walls and floor of the cave exuded some sort of green phosphorescence.
Hesitantly, I crossed the cavern. I was, I might add, quite thankful for the new pair of boots I had acquired, and took especial precaution against touching the walls. As I walked across the cave, a figure emerged from a tunnel on the other side and called my name in greeting. It was Volhune, leader of the Arlington Warren.
I responded, and Volhune approached me. As he neared me, I grew profoundly disturbed. His flesh bore a sheen similar to that of the cavern walls, and the expression on his face pardon me for judging someone
on appearance, but I tell you the look in his eyes was strikingly similar to that evinced by many of the children of Malkav.
He led me into the tunnel from whence he had emerged. The entire place radiated the same green glow, and I felt a palpable crawling sensation, as if my very flesh were vibrating. That walk seemed to take an eternity. The tunnel widened, and there were alcoves ' along the sides, faintly illuminated by the green glow. I could clearly see gnawed bones within, and I heard scuttling, flopping noises among the debris – rats and insects, no doubt, though the noises sounded like no vermin I had ever heard.
Finally, the tunnel opened into a vast cavern. By vast, I mean that a surface-world skyscraper could have fit within. The ceiling was lost to my view, while the ' walls stretched on and on, finally disappearing into a greenish mist that floated through the place and obscured everything in sight. I was thankful then that I no longer breathed.
Volhune turned to me. “This,” he said, “is where we now make our homes. Our scouting parties have ranged far and wide, and we have discovered many wonders beneath the earth.” He laughed then, unpleasantly, and ! pointed.
I looked, and far off in the center of the cavern was what appeared to be a pool of glowing green liquid – or perhaps lava, for it seemed to flame and flicker, though I felt no heat.
Volhune continued, “We have no more need of mortals or vampires. We have found others to aid us.” He then – well, frankly, he became incoherent. He began babbling something about a snake or worm that waits in the dark, and of a black spiral that he would soon walk. I did not know whether to fear or pity him.
As he spoke, other members of his warren shambled out of the mists. The green liquid dripped from their bodies; they had evidently been bathing. I recognized Riley, Karen C., Curtis and Geoffrey – but only barely, for their bodies were coated with enormous burns, as if from fire or acid. They did not speak to me, but leered at me with a look that I know all too well from my own Hungers.
“You see, Jameson,” Volhune said, “we have redis-covered parts of ourselves down here. I tell you, we no longer need blood to live.” Looking at the eyes of the wretches who had been my comrades, I doubted that, but I listened still. I slowly looked back toward the exit and tensed my legs.
“Yes,” Volhune continued, “we have learned things from our friends of the black spiral. We have learned how to eat as they do.”
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