Things were growing increasingly dark. From this point on there were absolutely no signs of any visible light; no lamps, no campfires, nothing. The path ahead was now only sparsely illuminated by the lantern which Caleb had retrieved earlier, something which he now held tightly in his own cold clenched hands. There were also at present no signs of any other human or even animal habitation; not even the faintest noises of scurrying rodents or fluttering bats could be heard anymore. Caleb allowed himself to release a very deep sigh. Here he was, undead demigod and hardy gunfighter, going on a wild goose chase after a stray gargoyle through the dank, dark, bowels of the earth. For some strange reason thinking about it all actually did very little to raise the old gunslinger's spirits.
Then that he saw it. Caleb immediately halted and squinted in the dark. There was a faint glint of light ahead, shining forth like a welcoming beacon. Caleb walked on with a far greater urgency than he had done before. Bright moonlight was finally beginning to illuminate the shadowy passageway, starting to show a way out of the labyrinth. Caleb now rushed forward, his eyes irritated slightly by the sudden change in light level. Outside he could see tall trees and even a lengthy stone pathway leading off into the distance. A pillar of chimney smoke could be seen rising from a large building at the end of the path. It all seemed very inviting. Caleb had not realized that he had started running, and upon doing so finally stopped, having at last reached the end of the long gloomy passageway. Glimmering starlight shown above him, and he finally began to feel at peace again.
Caleb suddenly found himself thrown against the hard ground as something heavy landed on top of him, forcing him face first into the rough stone pathway. He could hear the familiar sound of growls in his ear as he quickly scrambled to pull himself back onto his feet. Unfortunately for him, Caleb then felt the force of two very strong arms pinning him further to the ground. Caleb released another very weary sigh. "Hello again gargoyle" he commented dryly, now harbouring no doubts as to the true identity of his present attacker. Caleb cringed as the foul scent of the gargoyle's breath reached his nose, more of which was released every time the creature opened its obscene mouth to growl. Caleb slowly worked his arms towards the thigh of his right leg, placing his fingers around a familiar handle.
"It's time you learned some manners!" Caleb shouted, shoving the knife deep into the gargoyle's underbelly. Although constituting only a minor pin prick in the eyes of the gargoyle, it did prove to be enough of a distraction to allow Caleb to finally free himself from the gargoyle's clutches and roll out from underneath its scaly body. With lightning quick reflexes, Caleb grabbed his sawed-off from where it was thrown from his interior trench coat pocket during the scuffle and promptly shot back up to his feet, pointing the weapon directly at the gargoyle's reptilian head. "The choice is yours, fly now and live, stay and die!" he taunted, having gained something of a competitive advantage again. The gargoyle simply looked back at him, almost amused by his outburst.
It was not until then that Caleb had actually been granted a proper opportunity to have a good look at his opponent in decent light, and now that he had been given this opportunity he kind of wished that he did not have to. Its skin was thick and grey, the colour of royalty, and its rock hewn form was simply staggering in terms of scale. Caleb gulped reflexively. He had not picked a fight with just any gargoyle; he was now facing off against a tougher, meaner, stone gargoyle, the leaders of their race. The gargoyle continued to just stare at Caleb, releasing what could only be described as an amused growl. Caleb carefully loaded a few more shells into his shotgun and then pointed the weapon proactively at his opponent once more. He would wipe the smirk of the creature's face soon enough.
It was the gargoyle that made the first move, striking forth quickly and decisively, attempting to throw the weapon out of Caleb's hands again. Caleb was simply too quick for it however, swiftly rolling behind the cover of a nearby tree before releasing both barrels into the creatures abdomen. The gargoyle, still relatively unperturbed by its recent injuries, rushed forward to try and disable Caleb again, pushing its significant mass against the tree that the old gunslinger was now using as his cover. A loud crack echoed through the night as it began to fall right where Caleb was standing. Caleb may be quick, but this time he was simply not quick enough. The bottom of his long trench coat became caught underneath the fallen tree, trapping him once more with a large gargoyle starring him right in the face.
Thinking fast, Caleb rummaged through his pockets but to no avail. The gargoyle slowly moved one of its sharpest claws delicately before its victims eyes, showing quite clearly what it intended to have done. It was going to cut Caleb's throat. He had only one option left. Caleb closed his eyes, adrenaline flowing though his body, and pulled. He heard a loud ripping noise as the fabric of his trench coat was torn in two. Now free of the tree, he turned, still running on pure adrenaline, and aimed his shotgun. He then started firing repeatedly, aggressively, angrily, manically, the only thing still audible above the stream of shells being his own maniacal laughter. Suddenly the firing stopped and the smoke cleared. The gargoyle laid in a rubble heap on the ground. It was dead.
Caleb sat down on a nearby rock and breathed. His whole body ached from the strain that the contest had inflicted on him. He simply sat, too tired to speak, too tired to taunt, too tired to breathe. Nothing else could weigh on his mind now. Then he remembered the scroll. It was the whole reason he was here, the whole reason he had fought the creature, the whole reason that so many had to die in order for him to meet his ends. The object should now be somewhere before him, clasped in one of the gargoyle's dead talons. Caleb got up painfully and kneeled down by his victim's corpse, searching for the scroll. Maybe if he was not so tired he would have noticed the figures behind him. Maybe if he was not so tired he would have heard the sounds of their footsteps approaching. Alas for him he did not, and now they had the advantage. Something hit Caleb on the back of the head hard, and then all for him was blackness.
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Some might recall that I had previously made mention as part of the Blood Wiki's sixth anniversary that I had plans to once again invest some of my time in an area of Blood fandom that I had formerly been quite involved in. To that end I present Scroll, a story I originally began in the summer of 2008 as a kind of retelling of the story behind Cryptic Passage in an attempt to bring it further in line with the main Blood canon. Designed to be published in multiple parts, I shall endeavour to release a new instalment of Scroll every Sunday from March 9th on until the story is complete.