Prologue
The Miastor Prince

AE 218 (AZ 346) - Early Autumn
Thessalonica, Beyond the Eastern Borders of Euros

The monster known as the Miastor Prince had taken up residence in the manor of a local lord nearly a month ago. Each night, a number of young women would disappear, undoubtedly meals for the invading devil. The rumors of his power were enough to evaporate the courage of any man who would dare to challenge him, all except one.
The fallen knight Narkissos of Karas had lost everything. He had been betrayed by his king and rejected by the very people he fought to save. His loyal Companions languished in the dungeons while he was driven into exile.
The duty of a warrior is to fight and be victorious. How dare those impudent, impotent wretches rebuke him for fulfilling his purpose in life. How dare that craven weakling turn on him after winning the throne by his hand. The anger festered within him, but what could he accomplish on his own?
It was a desperate gamble, but by saving the Thessalonians from the Miastor Prince, perhaps he could win them over to his side. With a few hundred good men at his command, he could win back what was taken from him.
The Miastor Prince was a creature of the night. It was true that Narkissos could have sought out his hiding place in the light of day and struck when the monster was most vulnerable, but there was no honor in such cowardly tactics. Instead, he approached the manor in the dead of night, the time when the Miastor Prince was at his most powerful. If he succeeded, Narkissos' victory would awe every soul in the city. What could the Thessalonians do but swear allegiance to him?
He kicked open the front door of the manor and entered the atrium. The smell of death filled his nostrils. A common man might have fainted, but it was a familiar scent for a veteran of so many battles.
Deep in the shadows, Narkissos saw two tiny balls of light. He then realized that he was looking at the eyes of something inhuman. Moving forward, the pale light of the moon and stars illuminated the face of a man who was not man. The Miastor Prince grinned menacingly, exposing his long fangs.
"I have been expecting you, Sir Knight..." he said, "with no small amount of eagerness, I must add... Men like you come along once in a millennium. Your strength... Your passion... Your code... A normal human cannot possibly appreciate you... but you have noticed this already, have you not? They reject you because they fear you. They know you are something far greater than they. They drove you out before you could crush them under your heel like the insects they are. A creature so rare... I want you... I intend to make you my own..."
Narkissos drew his sword and pointed it at his foe.
"Enough of your prattling," he said bluntly. "I've come here to kill you, fiend."
The Miastor Prince gave no immediate reaction. Narkissos had barely begun to shift his weight to charge when his enemy disappeared. Before he could even look around in bewilderment, Narkissos felt someone embrace him from behind.
The Miastor Prince whispered in his ear, "Do not fear your hatred. Release it. Spill out your wrath on your betrayers."
Narkissos turned his blade and stabbed behind him. The blade sunk deeply into the Miastor Prince, but the stroke that would have killed any normal man was not enough for this monster. The Miastor Prince effortlessly flung Narkissos into the air, sending him crashing into the impluvium. Narkissos floundered about in the murky water, struggling to get back on his feet.
The Miastor Prince was still standing, even with Narkissos' sword lodged deep in his belly. He slowly drew out the blade and held it in front of him. With one hand, he snapped the sword in two and tossed the pieces aside. The wound from the sword quickly closed, even his robes mended themselves, leaving no trace of Narkissos' stroke.
"Quite a few people have tried to kill me in all my years," the Miastor Prince said, "but you are the first approach me so ill-prepared. You come at me with a sword of bronze? Do you not even know that silver is the bane of the dead who live? Not that any blade of silver would avail you against one of my power."
Narkissos drew the knife strapped to his boot. Unfortunately for him, it too was made of bronze. He did not care if he survived this battle or not, though. All that mattered was that he fought with every last ounce of strength.
"Do you think that pool will protect you, polluted as it is?" the Miastor Prince asked. "Or has your courage failed you and you stand there like a little bird trapped in the viper's glare?"
It was true that Narkissos knew nothing of the dead. Polluted or not, if water had any virtue against the Miastor Prince's wretched kind, it was worth a try. Narkissos' helmet had come loose when he fell into the impluvium and was floating nearby. Using the helmet as a makeshift bucket, he held it at the ready with his free hand.
Again, the Miastor Prince moved faster than the eye could see, appearing right in front of Narkissos, seizing him by the neck and holding him aloft. Keeping his wits about him, Narkissos doused the Miastor Prince with the water in his helmet. A cloud of vapor rose up and when it cleared, the Miastor Prince's skin was mottled and discolored, but only for an instant. He had received no hurt and even the momentary disfiguration did not cause him to skip a beat.
"I suppose I gave you a false hope," he said with a cruel chuckle. "I have long since grown beyond the weaknesses of my kind."
The Miastor Prince then threw Narkissos into the air once more. As he fell back down, the Miastor Prince stopped him with his hand, cracking the fallen knight's ribs loudly. Narkissos was then dropped onto the stone floor, his battered body landing roughly.
His breathing labored, Narkissos hardly had the energy to stand. He did not get a chance to try, for the Miastor Prince stooped by his side and held him down with one hand. Narkissos stabbed his enemy's forearm, but to no effect.
"I have played with you long enough," the Miastor Prince said. "It is time to bring you into the world of darkness."
He effortlessly tore off the front of Narkissos' breastplate and sank his fangs into the knight's neck. Narkissos could feel the life being drained from him. He pulled his knife out of the Miastor Prince's arm and began stabbing him over and over. It had no effect on the Miastor Prince and Narkissos' movements become more and more sluggish. He was certain he was on the brink of death when the Miastor Prince released him. Having killed so many men during his life, it felt strange facing his own demise.
The Miastor Prince plucked Narkissos' dagger out of his side and ran the blade across his palm. Clenching his hand into a fist, his black blood dripped into Narkissos' open mouth. Colder than ice, more bitter than gall, the black blood made Narkissos' entire body convulse violently. He was then plunged into a pain unlike any he had ever known. His whole body continued to convulse and he cried out in agony.
The Miastor Prince held him firmly in place to contain his violent shaking.
"I have not waited this long to lose you now," he said. "You must focus. If you let the blood rule you, you will be nothing more than a mere beast. Focus! You still have purpose. Your revenge... Your hatred... Focus on these. Let the hate deliver you."
Narkissos did not know what the Miastor Prince was talking about. He did not know anything. Only the pain. Surely he was on Death's door and part of him craved the release, but the Miastor Prince's words echoed in his mind.
Yes, he still had purpose. He wanted to avenge his blackened honor. He wanted to save his suffering Companions. He wanted to see his betrayers suffer. His heart stormed with raging fire and the coldest ice. The fire was his rage burning against his enemies. The ice was the freezing of his compassion and all other human weakness. Above all, it was revenge that drove him and hate that fueled his revenge.
At that moment, the pain subsided and a new vigor filled him. He took in a deep breath as if it were the first of his life. He could feel his broken bones quickly knitting themselves back together, the bruises absorbing back into his flesh. And then there was the myriad sensations washing over him. It was like the difference between being asleep and awake. No, more than that. It was like he had never felt before, like he was a senseless stone suddenly made living, breathing flesh.
"Welcome to the border of this world and the next," the Miastor Prince said. "You are now like me, a son of the night... To survive, you must drink the blood of the living. You must--"
The Miastor Prince's words were cut short by Narkissos' hand burrowing into his chest. Narkissos tore out the Miastor Prince's heart and left his stunned foe staring blankly with his mouth gaping in shock. Narkissos looked at the black organ that continued beat. He then squeezed the heart and drink fully of the rich, cool blood. He could feel the Miastor Prince's power flowing into him. It was not enough, though. He wanted more.
The Miastor Prince's lifeless body toppled over and Narkissos slowly rose to his feet. He did not truly understood what the Miastor Prince was before that moment, but with his blood came fragments of his mind and will. Perhaps it would have been easier to learn what he had become under the Miastor Prince's tutelage, but no matter. He would rely on his own power, as he had always done. The time for his revenge had finally come.