Presenting a brief excerpt from

Modern Marvels titleblock Viktoriana titleblock

....... As the first vampire raised its head, Haggard slowly slid the Bowie knife from its scabbard. The abomination glanced around, as though half-dazed and confused by the brilliant flare, before its ebony, watery eyes locked on the form of the human standing twenty feet away. A frown furrowed across the hairless brow and the vampire hissed, its oversized maw extending far larger than a typical living humanís mouth. Although he knew it was merely a product of his imagination, Haggard swore he could smell the rancid, offensively hot, foul breath of the fiend, even from that distance. The sound soon aroused the others in the group, until they all were intently studying the intruder. Obviously, they were also confused, since no living human had ever dared to enter the very haven of the vampire nest. Not voluntarily, at least. But here stood a lone daywalker, appearing bold and unafraid.
....... Haggard was fully aware that these demons were merely the first line of defense in the vast network of caves. They were only the worker ants of the colony, making certain intruders did not infiltrate the deeper caverns. And somewhere, in the abysmal underground cavern system, lurked the deadliest member of the vampire clan, the queen mother.
....... Cautiously, they stalked toward the solitary human, walking in a half-hunched, crouching posture. Haggard occupied the middle of the narrow corridor, making it impossible for them to slide past him and surround their prey. They growled and hissed, displaying oversized canines and mouths full of razor sharp teeth. Their dismal eyes were bottomless pits, showing no signs of the humanity they once possessed.
....... As one unit, the vampires swarmed forward. Razor-sharp claws clacked viciously, no longer mere human fingernails. The sound of growls and hisses filled the confined space of the cave as a score of mouths emitted their deadly warnings. Even the bravest of souls would have fled in terror at the menacing advance of this supernatural undead. But Haggard firmly held his ground, as steady as a statue carved of stone. And then, suddenly, he was a blur of movement.
....... The blades of the khukuri sword and the Bowie knife slashed through the air, too fast to be followed by the human eye. Occasionally, the crimson flare would catch the reflective surfaces of the knives and flash across the walls of the cave. The whispering whoosh and slash sounds made by the blades drowned out the animalistic clatter of the undead. Heads, arms, and legs were severed from bodies as easily as a man might wave aside a trail of smoke from a smoldering candle. Hearts were pierced by the Bowie knife, which was quickly extricated, only to skewer its next victim. An army of soldiers could not have dispatched the advancing horde as quickly or efficiently as Haggard had done single-handedly.
....... As each vampire fell, their wounds burned with an unearthly fire, quickly consuming the inhuman forms. Several exploded into a flash of smoldering ashes as they struck the floor of the cave. Even the bones became fiery embers before crumbling to ashy soot and cinder-like remains. More than one head or arm dancing briefly across the ground before bursting into flames, the flesh quickly melting from the skulls or bones, leaving gleaming ruins that quickly crumbled to gray dust.
....... The glow of the first flare was beginning to fade as Haggard breathed a sigh of relief. The conflict had been so brief that he had not had an opportunity to inhale even once. He calmly reached into the rear pocket of his denims and extracted another flare. Although two-dozen vampires had been quickly dispatched, he knew that this was merely the first wave of demons he would encounter in the vast maze of tunnels. There might be hundreds of vampires in a primeval nest of this size. And he would have to dispatch them all before reaching the deadliest one of all. The undead queen.
....... The last glow from the smoldering ashes was extinguished and the flare slowly burned out. Haggard estimated that he had already been underground for nearly three hours. As he had entered the mouth of the cave, the African sun had been burning high in the sky and the heat was stifling, even beneath the canopy of leaves offered by the umbrella thorn tree where the group had set up a base camp. He thought about how he offered a final, brief nod of the head to Wells and Umslopogaas as they waved and wished him luck. Right now, Wells was probably enjoying an afternoon tea, despite the sweltering heat. The Englishman was a scientific genius, but not a soldier. Not a warrior. Haggard was cut from a different bolt of cloth and never felt more alive than he did during the heat of combat. He always believed that he had been born in the wrong century. His family lineage could be traced back to the legendary Charlemagne and he would have given anything to fight alongside his ancestor in battle.
....... A noise disturbed his brief recollections. The sound was no more than a faint whisper of cloth against stone, but Haggardís lean frame tensed. His sensitive ears searched the impenetrable darkness but found nothing. Silently, he cursed at himself for allowing the light of the flare to grow dark before lighting the next. The first rule he had been taught, as a future knight elite serving in the order of the Brotherhood of the Dragon, was to always be prepared for the unexpected. The second rule, naturally, was to never panic. The crystal at his neck was glowing, but not brightly enough to clearly see anything at a distance of more than a few feet. He heard another rustling movement. Something was out there. Waiting. Stalking him. And he cursed to himself again, this time regarding the jewel at his neck that boldly illuminated his position to his enemy. Grasping the khukuri firmly, he held his breath and struck the flint across the head of the flare.
....... For a quicksilver second, he felt himself almost lose control. He fought down the instinctive urge to run, to panic. In the bright flash of light, several hundred vampires were visible, crowding the narrow passage of the cave and far, far into the yawning cavern beyond. Exposed teeth dripped bile and claws were curled in anticipation of rending and tearing into this daring intruder. The legion of undead expected Haggard to turn and flee. If he had, they would have been on him in an instant, tearing and ripping at his soft human flesh, slobbering as they savored his warm blood.
....... Instead, H.R. Haggard did the one thing they werenít expecting. Tightly gripping his khukuri and Bowie, he flashed the creatures a wide smile. Wells, his companion on the surface, would have been more surprised than the vampires, since he had rarely seen the solemn man display any sort of emotion. But Haggard lived for times like this, when the odds were poor and things appeared grimmest. With a mighty defiant roar, he attacked.
....... Like warrior ants, the undead surged forward, determined to defend their stronghold from this bold invader. Ten fell before his slashing blades. Twenty. A hundred. And still more attacked, their vast numbers seemingly endless. He was an unstoppable warrior, the khukuri a deadly scythe clinched in a steely grip, wielded by a skilled reaper of death. Haggardís entire body was bathed in sweat, ash and blood, his arms a blur of motion as he fought wildly. With a relentless onslaught, the vampires finally overwhelmed him, forcing Haggard to the ground, burying his desperately struggling form beneath a swell of gnashing teeth, snapping jaws, and raking, clawed hands.

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