The pipe wrench came down fast.
And I just phase through it, just like what Preston would have done. The hulking plumber attempts to hit me with the wrench again, but I do the same thing and time every swing perfectly. Preston’s ability cannot allow me to permanently phase through things like a real ghost; I can only maintain transparency for a few seconds. Decades of practice have allowed me to master this ability.
“Rockin’ it tonight, Doc!” Preston comments as the other plumber joins in with the swinging this time, hitting the other plumber hard enough to make him stagger back and get knocked out. I knew I had to put down this other plumber quickly. As soon as the plumber swings his wrench again, I phase through at the right moment and aim for his throat, slashing it to make him fall and bleed to death.
The ferals around the room are being taken care of by the Archons and their men, and the hunterling seems to have sealed off one of the entry points of the ferals. The other vampires help him seal more of the doors.
“Dangnabbit!” the Pastor curses as he cracks his knuckles. “At this rate, I ain’t gonna have time to do the ritual!”
The Pastor then raises his hands as if he were praying to something.
“Oh Great One, send me your servant to aid me in my time of need! Use my body as you see fit!” he chants as a dark aura engulfs him. The flow of ferals has finally stopped as the gates have been shut by our party, but it looks like things are about to get serious.
“It’s just like the beginning of a boss fight, Doc.” Preston comments.
“I don’t comprehend your gaming jargon, idiot.” I snap at Preston as I get ready for what’s about to come. The Pastor now has dark eyes, which indicates that he has now been fully possessed by something. Something demonic.
The possessed Pastor raises a fist engulfed in dark energy and immediately lunges at me. I dodge the fist but get hit in the chest unexpectedly. I did not phase at that moment, but Preston manages to break my fall. I look up to see the Pastor’s fist coming down at me and roll to the side, still reeling from the blow I took to the chest.
“You okay, Doc?” the concerned Preston asks me.
“He’s strong.” I say as I put a hand to where I was hit. “The dark energy also makes it more painful.” the Pastor walks up to me and raises a hand, but I throw him off balance by performing a sweeping kick. As he tries to get up from his fall, I grab his throat and pummel his head with several right punches. He doesn’t seem to feel pain as he grabs my fist with his own and throws me overhead.
“Doctor!” I hear Rembrandt call from afar, but it seems like they’re busy with the first plumber who was able to recover from being knocked out. The hunterling shoots a few bolts at the Pastor, but they just disintegrate from the dark aura.
“It doesn’t seem to have any effect!” the hunterling says in frustration as I see him grab his short sword. The Pastor grabs me by the throat as I still try to recover from the pain, but the hunterling lunges at him with the sword.
“Whatever you are, DIE!” he shouts but gets smacked away with a backhand blow that sends him flying back. I try to phase out of the choke hold, but the Pastor has me in a tight spot. I gasp for air while trying to break free.
Suddenly, I hear someone charge and the Pastor gets tackled, releasing me from the deadly grip. El-Hashem manages to trap the Pastor’s arms with his own, and it relieves me that his muscles aren’t always for show.
“Try aiming for the medallion, Doc!” Preston suddenly gives advice as I look at the glowing medallion on the Pastor’s chest. I wanted to scold him for not telling me sooner, but I manage to gather all of my remaining energy into my right fist and perform a straight punch at the accessory. The blow makes the Pastor scream in pain as he tries to break free from my ally’s trap.
The medallion seems to float in the air as El-Hashem lets the Pastor go, and as the medallion breaks into shards, the Pastor falls to the ground.
A moment of silence follows as the Pastor shakes his head and our party finishes off the remaining enemies.
I scan around for any enemies and look at the fallen Pastor.
“What… happened…?” the Pastor manages to say as if he broke out of a trance.
“You were just possessed by the medallion you were wearing.” I tell the Pastor as Preston separates himself from my body.
The Pastor looks at the shards on the ground and seems to have remembered something.
“So it’s over.” the Pastor utters as I see the hunterling approach him while wiping blood off his face.
“Ex-Pastor Hugh Westfall, I am placing you under Guild arrest for violating everything that we stand for. I will make sure that you answer for your crimes.” the Llama says as he brings out a pair of handcuffs.
“So y’all defeated me. Do whatever you want. It won’t matter anyway.”
“Especially when he’s dead.” another voice suddenly calls out as a dark spear suddenly impales the Pastor in the chest. The Pastor, with a look of shock, manages to utter a woman’s name before falling flat to the ground to die.
The hunterling gets startled by the Pastor’s sudden death and looks around.
“Who’s there? Show yourself!” the hunterling shouts as I start to sense a familiar presence enter the room. I look to the right corner of the room and hear slow clapping.
“Well done! Well done, indeed.” my old mentor Don Antares comes in, applauding us with sarcasm. The two Archons and vampires behind me look astonished.
“You.” I only manage to say as I walk up to him. “You have a lot of explaining to do, old friend.” I say the last two words with sarcasm.
“Now, now, Minggoy. Is that the proper way to talk to your mentor? Where are your manners?”
“Just tell me why you have suddenly gone hostile. And why did you manipulate that Pastor to attack me?” I demand as the Don just sighs.
“I’ve been keeping it secret for the longest time, fledgling.” the Don addresses me with an old nickname. “Do you still remember your life as a human?”
I squint at that question and ask myself why he is asking this.
“I thought I already told you that I don’t remember much. It’s all in little fragments and pieces that I’m still trying to put together.”
“You’ve always been foolish. Haven’t you been getting dreams about your past lately?”
I ponder on that thought and remember the dream that I had in the car earlier.
“I’ve already sent you memory fragments of your past because I want to help you recover them as soon as possible.”
“I appreciate the help, but you still haven’t told me why you manipulated that Pastor.” I say as the hunterling behind me also seems to be waiting for an answer. The Don doesn’t reply immediately.
“You stole something from me.” Don Antares manages to say. “Three things, in fact.”
“I never stole anything from you!” I protest at the accusation.
“You did it when you were human, and I believe that it’s unforgivable. Steal money from me, that’s fine. But stealing my lover, my home, and my identity is not.” the Don changes the tone of his voice to one filled with anger as me eyes widen from the revelation. “I sent the Pastor to attack you to test out your strength; to see if you are already worthy of fighting me on equal footing. So I gave him a corrupted medallion and let him do as he pleased.”
“And you sacrificed innocent lives in the process, vampire.” the hunterling comments but gets ignored.
I try to put the pieces together again.
“If I stole your identity, does that mean…”
“IT MEANS THAT I AM THE REAL DOMINGO DE GUZMAN!” the Don suddenly shouts in anger as I am once again shocked.
“You took Teresa away from me, claimed ownership of my house, and took my name once you awoke as a vampire! You used to be my lowly servant boy, Miguel Bonifacio. I made sure you were dead during the war but you somehow survived and got turned. I let you keep your name once I took you in as my fledgling pupil, but you just had to keep getting stronger!” the Don pauses to catch his breath and continues his outburst.
“I couldn’t let someone of low birth like you rise in the Association, so I always kept you as a Minor Archon, despite your achievements. I took you in as my pupil to keep you under my wing all the time, but you just had to be recognized by that fop Leclerc as an outstanding vampire, which made you a blasted Archon!” as the Don finishes his tirade, I just laugh.
“So you did all of that just to get back at me?” I laugh at everything despite this avalanche of revelations which I need to sort out later. “Pitiful man. You should’ve just killed me in the past when you had the chance!”
“That would have violated everything that the Association stands for.” the Don reminds me of the pact that we have within the Association, which is not to kill fellow vampires who are a part of it. “As The Way dictates, I have to fight you on equal footing, and that time will come soon, fledgling. Consider this whole series of events as a test, my pupil.” the Don tells me with condescension.
“Still adhering to The Way, huh? Very well, then. Why don’t we settle things now?”
“You have already defeated the Pastor and foiled my plans, so I will let you win this battle. However, when the moon turns red this year, meet me in the little mausoleum in the islet off Windenburg. There, we shall settle things once and for all.” the Don turns back towards a door to leave. “And before you leave, don’t forget to bring your great great-granddaughter home.” he gestures towards the coffin before finally leaving.
“Wait!” the hunterling attempts to chase after the Don but I raise an arm to prevent him from passing.
“Let him go. As much as I want to kill him here and now, he has admitted defeat.” I tell the hunterling who just makes a fist and punches a nearby column.
“Doc, I didn’t know you stole someone’s name.” Preston approaches me.
“It was the first name that I saw when I awakened.” I tell Preston as I approach the coffin. Preston and Rembrandt move the Pastor’s body aside as I see El-Hashem’s wounds being treated by one of his men. I examine Ms. Vivas sleeping soundly in the open coffin. Is she really my great great granddaughter, as the Don said?
“Will you change your name back to Miguel Boni-something?” Archon Rembrandt asks me. “I didn’t know that you and the Don had quite a history.”
“I will always be Doctor Domingo de Guzman, for that is the name that I have claimed.” I say adamantly. “Miguel Bonifacio is dead, so in his place now stands me.”
And just as I said that, the girl in the coffin opens her eyes.