As soon as he stepped foot on the island, Vlad found himself face-to-face with Horus. “Oh, my, Bast’s pet falcon,” Vlad said with a sneer. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence?” Horus opened his mouth, and Vlad waved away whatever Horus was about to say. “Nevermind, I don’t actually care. Whatever words you’re about to say, I’d prefer hearing them from your mistresses lips.”
Horus glowered as Vlad brushed past him. “You would do well not to dismiss me, monster.”
Vlad whirled to face Horus. “Ha!” he said, a single sound with all the mirth of the grave. “You have the audacity to call me a monster? You?”
“What are you implying?” Horus said through gritted teeth. “You are what you are.”
“Yes, but I am not in denial. You, on the other hand…you make yourself a slave to someone who is as much a monster as I am. For nothing. You really have become a joke, Horus. When are you getting a fedora?”
Horus blinked in confusion. “I don’t see what hats have to do with this.”
“Nevermind.” Vlad turned to walk away. “You’d think being immortal would come with a faint obligation to keep up with the times, but…”
Before Vlad could take a step, Horus’ hand lashed out and grabbed the vampire by the wrist. “I wasn’t done with you.”
Vlad looked at the hand, then back up into Horus’ eyes. “But I, Horus, am done with you. Release me.”
“No. I’ve had enough of you, vampire.”
Vlad blinked in puzzlement. “We’ve barely spoken before this. Had enough of me? You barely even know me.”
Horus reached out into his nanoverse, pulling out a dagger to plunge into Vlad’s chest. Something in his eye betrayed the strike, and before the dagger could strike home, Vlad turned into a cloud of mist. Horus’ dagger passed harmlessly through the space the vampire had been occupying.
“I see,” Vlad said as he reformed, a dozen feet away and crouched on the roof of a building like a giant, grotesque bat. “You consider me a rival for Bast’s lack of affections? I assure you, you have nothing to worry about. She still loathes you slightly more than she does me.”
“Cease your prattle!” Horus shouted, reaching out to twist reality. Lightning surged forth from his fingertips, filling the air with the smell of ozone and a crack of thunder. Vlad was already removing as Horus shouted, turning into another cloud of mist. The lightning passed through the air Vlad had just vacated, arcing wildly until it found the truck of a long dead tree. The tree exploded in a deafening shower of splinters.
Vlad reformed and wasted no time with banter. He reached out to twist as well. The twist he made seemed unnatural to Horus’ eyes, something fundamentally wrong to what the vampire was doing to reality. A bolt of black energy lanced from the vampires hand. Horus dropped into a defensive posture, but before it reached him the bolt of energy split into a dozen individual streams that veered away from Horus. Each one struck the shadows of the buildings and trees that surrounded them.
The shadows took on the shapes of wolves and leapt for Horus. He kicked off the ground, propelling himself into the air with an additional twist of Air to lift himself. Impossible, Horus thought wildly as the shadow wolves took the shapes of great bats and flew into the air. And it should have been. Divine power worked by manipulating natural laws, but beings made of living shadow weren’t a manipulation, they were a straight violation of how reality worked. An impossibility.
For the first time, it occurred to Horus that Bast might have been holding back the true extent of her – and the vampire’s – powers.
No time for that. Horus thought, dismissing the doubts. He pushed himself higher into the air, and let out another bolt of lightning, arcing it to strike all the shadow creatures. He knew he was burning through power at an alarming rate, but without knowing what these creatures could do…
The lightning flashed through them, and their forms temporarily vanished before reappearing. Realization crystalized. An illusion!
Horus attempted to turn around, but he felt painfully slow. Vlad had materialized behind him, a sword in hand, and brought it down across Horus’s side. It would have been a decapitating strike if Horus hadn’t moved when he had. As it was, Horus howled in pain as ichor flowed from the wound.
Gravity reasserted itself over the two gods, sending them plummeting to the earth. Vlad struck again in a series of blows that Horus desperately attempted to parry, steel ringing out against steel.
Neither combatant managed to land a decisive blow before they impacted the ground. Horus hit hard, feeling worn pavement crack beneath him. Vlad turned into mist just before the impact, his form spreading across the ground. Horus scrambled to his feet as Vlad coalesced a few feet away.
“I forgot to say ‘nothing personal, kid.’” Vlad muttered as he eye Horus warily. “I had one chance to do that properly, and I completely blew it.”
“You’re insane,” Horus countered.
Vlad shook his head. “No. I just let the internet rot my brain sometimes. It’s good to know what kind of things my food finds interesting. Like how a farmer studies what feed his cattle prefers.” He watched as Horus struggled to stand. “I’m willing to let this go, you know. Bast will be annoyed with me for breaking one of her toys, and you’re already halfway beaten. Surrender, and I’ll consider this even.”
Horus waved his hand over the wound in his side, radiating intense heat to cauterize the wound shut. He growled in pain as he did. Vlad rolled his eyes.
“Or you could do the stupidly masculine thing and continue fighting. I hope you know I’ll have no qualms shattering your nanoverse once you’re beaten. You do realize that, don’t you? When I win, your death will be permanent.”
“Then why aren’t you doing it, vampire?” Horus asked, starting to grin. “Why the tricks, the cowardly tactics? Why not fight me head on?”
“I told you, Bast will be annoyed if I break one of her toys. I prefer her agreeable.”
“No.” Horus stood up straight. “I think you’re afraid of me.”
“You’re leaking ichor from a dozen cuts, and you had to burn yourself to stop one of the leaks.” Vlad sneered. “Why on earth would I be afraid of you?”
“Because your kind has few weaknesses. Holy relics of the Judeo-Christian god. Garlic. And, most importantly, the thing I was once the god of.” Horus opened his eyes, and they glowed with golden light. “The Sun.”
Vlad didn’t answer with words. Instead he hissed and lunged at Horus.
Horus held out his hand and, with a twist of reality, sent a beam of pure, unfiltered sunlight streaking towards the vampire. “Burn, monster.”
Vlad screamed as he continued to advance through the light, bits of his flesh flying away and turning to ash, but he didn’t suffer the instant annihilation Horus was hoping for. The vampire was injured, that much was without doubt, but it didn’t stop him from closing the distance between the two.
The artificial sunlight vanished as Horus felt the skeletal, clawed hands close around his throat.