Slavic Knight- Vasily's Backstory
Interview: Vasily Kozlov
January 23, 1992
“I would like to assure you comrade Kozlov, that this is standard procedure for the change of government. We are not here to judge you, we need to understand who you are and what you do for the country. Are we clear on this?”
“Whatever you say, commissary. I get it, the new guard comes in and they want to know all of the old regime’s dirty secrets. Don’t matter to me one way or the other, so I’ll provide you with anything you want.”
“Excellent. I’m glad we understand one another. Now, could you for the record state your full name and date of birth?”
“Vasily Dimitrievich Kozlov. November 22, 1890.”
“Comrade Kozlov, we asked for your cooperation, and here you are, wishing us to believe you are over one-hundred years old.”
“One hundred and two, if we are being precise. But in human years I would only appear to be roughly thirty-four. We age differently from you, that’s all.”
“You’re not human comrade Kozlov?”
“Not entirely. I’m what you would call a hunter.”
“Yeah. A hunter. A supernatural being who hunts other, less savory supernatural beings.”
“And how does one become a hunter?”
(Chuckles) “You don’t become a hunter, much like you don’t become a mage or werewolf, you’re born one. The only things one can become are ghosts and vampires, the rest of the supernaturals hold their powers from the start.”
“So, you were born this way?”
“Yes, though I did not know it until I woke up.”
“Are you implying you did not know you were this so called, hunter?”
“Not at all. Your abilities are latent until you unlock them. Heck, you can live out an average human life without ever waking up. Unfortunately, once you break the flood gates, there is no going back. Our aging slows, and we spend an unnatural life span dealing with the world around us.”
“And how did you come about your abilities, comrade Kozlov?”
“Funny story, one which I remember as if it happened yesterday. It was November 7th, 1917 by the current calendar and the October Revolution was well underway. People were taking sides, there was panic in the streets, but I did not care either way, I don’t concern myself with political matters. No offense commissary, but all you pigs are the same to me, no matter what label you slap on yourself. So, while the city was in chaos, I was out looking for a bar to get a drink after the end of my shift.
“Back then I was a twenty-seven-year-old buck living out his dream of being a detective, and after a hard day’s work, I needed to wet my pallet. Sidestepping a young boy pushing Revolutionary pamphlets, I walked into Strelka, my favorite watering hole. Inside it’s dim, hazy atmosphere, no one cared about the problems of the outside world.
“Smiling as the red chandeliers cast a ghostly glow on the deserted bar top, I walked over and situated myself on the worn leather cushion closest to the door. From behind the bar, Vadim smiled at me. By now he knew my poison. Without saying a word, he slid over a bottle of vodka and a shot glass my way. Thanking Vadim with an extra-lager tip, I set off to work on my drink.
“I was halfway through my bottle when a pretty young woman approached me. A petite brunet with soft hazel eyes. She told me she liked the color of my eyes because they blended in with the smoke so well, and she preceded to sit down next to me and ordered a vodka tonic. Tipping my hat to the lady, I looked her over closely as she sipped her drink.
“Her delicate facial features were partially obstructed by a large hat, and her latest French dress was covered up by a mink shrug. I realized she was no working girl but one of them high-class gals, probably there to drink away as her lifestyle was ending. Hoping to get lucky, I raised my glass up to her and offered to buy her another round. We struck up a conversation. She told me her name was Marina, or Ludmila, or something like that, I don’t know, they all start to look the same after a while.
“We had a few drinks, a pleasant conversation, and soon enough, she invited me over to her place for some extracurricular activities. Satisfied I still had what it takes, I was more than happy to comply. Giving Vadim extra money for the digression, I followed the woman down the street to her lush accommodations at a hotel a few blocks down.
“Inside the open lavender interior of her hotel room, I settled myself down on a plush turn of the century chair. As a working man, the only times I’ve been inside a luxury hotel was when there was a cold body to be investigated, so I took the time to enjoy my surroundings. The lady offered me another drink, and I gladly accepted, considering I’ve never slept with such a high-class tail before. However, it was not long after the alcohol hit my lips that my world began to spin, my vision turned black, and that was all I remembered.
“By the time I came to, I was lying in bed, partially undressed. There was an obnoxious rattling in my brain, and something heavy was on top of me. Straining through blurred vision, I could barely make out the shape of a half-naked woman straddling over me, except this was no woman at all.
“Her body was covered in charcoal grey skin, with two large, gargoyle-like wings protruding from her back. There was a tail curled around my legs. Her amethyst eyes shone brightly as a seductive smile played on her lips. There were two small horns sticking out from the crown on her head, and her long black hair cascaded down past her bare breasts.
“I was in a panic, at first I thought I drank myself silly and was now imagining this horrifying encounter. But as the rattling in my head grew louder, some instinctive part of me realized that I was in the company of a succubus. She leaned in closer to me as the talons on her hands dug into my shoulders, and I knew she would steal my essence.”
“I will stop you right here, comrade Kozlov. Do you expect the panel to believe you were seduced by a female sex demon, who now wanted to collect your sperm?”
(Laughter) “That is a horrible mistranslation of the Hebrew text. Yes, the young woman from the bar was a demon, but it was not my sperm she was after.”
“My soul. Succubus seduces men to feast on their souls, and she was getting ready to suck out mine.”
“Aright comrade. Carry on with your colorful story.”
“Right. As I was saying. I was about to have my essence sucked out of me by this harpy woman when I spotted my revolver propped on the nightstand. Now, under normal circumstances, I would not have minded dying in bed, in the company of a beautiful woman, but I was not about to get turned into a prune by a demon. So, I did the only sensible thing a man in my position could do, I fished around desperately for my duty weapon.
“At first, I thought my efforts were in vain as the situation appeared more futile. Then, just as she started to suck out my soul, my index finger hooked around the carved wood grain of the handle. Not a typical praying man, I thanked God with the breath which remained in me as I pulled the weapon into the palm of my hand.
“As I tightened my grip around the piston, I had no time to aim as I was losing my grip on reality. Best I could do was point the muzzle in her general direction and squeeze the trigger. The revolver discharged with a loud bang, and the succubus let out a fearsome holler as the bullet met its mark. Not daring to take chances I continued to hold the trigger, unloading all the bullets my gun could hold into this creature.
“Subconsciously I knew my lead bullets would have little effect on the creature, I know now you need molten silver to kill a succubus, but as I unloaded my weapon, she fell backward. Falling out of bed, I pulled my pants back up and looked over at where the succubus was lying motionless on the floor. There was no blood around her, I would have thought I missed her if it was not for the wisps of grey smoke seeping out from the bullet holes.
“Gathering my nerves, I reloaded the revolver and slowly approached the silhouette on the floor. The woman did not move from the spot she was sprawled on, so I gently nudged her with my foot… nothing. Not once did I think my simple service weapon would destroy a demon, but at least it appeared that I have knocked it unconscious, even if for a little while.
“I was relaxing a bit when I heard them, voices outside the door. It was stupid to not think those gunshots would not alert the staff to foul play at the hotel. As a police detective, I could not be caught in the compromising position of having my pants down in a room with a seemingly dead body in it. So, I did the only sensible thing a man in my position could do. I gathered up my things and jumped out of the open window which was thankfully on the first floor, and I ran for it.”
“Fascinating. Now, what did you do after you woke up, comrade Kozlov?”
“Not much really, at least not for a while. I returned to work the next day as if nothing happened. Spent the next few years figuring out what happened calculating my next move. Once it became painfully clear I would not age normally again, I left Moscow for another life. Hopping from place to place until I found the Order.”
“And the panel would love to hear more about it, but unfortunately we are out of time for the day. We will resume tomorrow at 0600 if you would be so kind as to accommodate us, comrade.”
“You’re saying that as if I have a choice in the matter commissary. But I’ll be happy to finish satisfying the panels curiosity tomorrow if it so wills.”
“Very well comrade. Be sure to get here at 0600 sharp tomorrow. We will finish your interview then.”
Interview: Vasily Kozlov
January 24, 1992
“Glad to see you made it on time comrade Kozlov. Now, refresh my memory; yesterday you informed the panel you were a hunter and recounted your colorful story of how you came to be. Is that correct?”
“You’re sharp as a tack commissary. Nothing slips by you, does it?”
(Clearing throat) “Spare me the theatrics comrade, I don’t find them comical. Instead, why not state your position for the panel?”
“Very well. I belong to a secret organization, dubbed The Order of the Shadow. It’s an ancient society which spans every corner of the globe and predates human civilization. The Moscow Chapter is known as the Fifth Order, and I serve as its Grand Knight.”
“Sounds archaic. What exactly does a grand knight do? Lead men to battle as some modern-day Alexander Nevsky?”
“Now it’s I who must complain about your skepticism and sarcasm, commissary. I realize that average humans do not understand my world, and honestly, they don’t need to. However, since this panel will not release me until I divulge my secrets, I have no choice but to comply. All I ask is that you spare me your condescending remarks until the end.
“As for your question, no, I’m not some modern-day Nevsky, not even close. My enemies are far less defined, and I will not go down in history books, nor will I gain sainthood for my work, and that’s fine by me. My work is far more complicated and dangerous as I oversee the other member of the Fifth Order and ensure everything runs smoothly. Since the Orders primary goals are to keep humans safe while recruiting as many friendly creatures as we can to fight the Worm, my job gets a little daunting at times.”
“You are telling me this Order has monsters lurking among them?”
“Not monsters, unless you consider me to be one as well. We are supernatural being from different origins and all walks of life. Us creatures: hunters, shape-shifters, mages, fae, and the like, we all share a common goal. Some may even consider us to be cousins of sorts as we basically come from the same source. There is no reason for us all to not get along, if we can help it that is.”
“And what is your so-called goal?”
“Prevent the Worm from crossing over into our world.”
“What exactly is a Worm?”
“No one really knows for sure. Any information relating to him is sparse at best. What I can tell you is that it’s an ancient God-like being which was around before the universe was created. In a way, I guess it can be said that he was partially responsible for its creation, and for our existence. But make no mistakes, this creature is evil, it desires to rule over all things living, at any cost.”
“Is this why it wishes to cross over to us?”
“Not exactly. This is where the story gets a bit… complicated. The reason he is so fixated on our planet is because the Gods hid something here from him, something which he greatly desires.”
“Gods? Blasphemy! Comrade, surely you know there is only one Lord and Savior.”
(Snickers) “Believe whatever makes you sleep better at night, commissary. I told you, mare humans are better off not hearing this stuff. But you know, protocol and all requires me to testify here and shatter your world to bits. So take this with a grain of salt, you can forget everything I said later if you wish.
“Truth is, there are several creatures we may consider to be Gods. Powerful, benevolent beings who are responsible for our existence. The ancient civilizations were more spot on with their renditions; two mains gods, with several lesser ones beneath. They are not responsible for tides, or seasons, or anything else the primitive people believed, but a lot is pretty damn close.”
“Let’s say I believe you, comrade, what trinket did these beings hide here? An ancient amulet, a sacred stone, or ancient weapon perhaps?”
“Neither. It’s not what they hid, it’s who, they hid a woman here. Not a regular one mind you, but a daughter of the Gods, one whose power rivals the Worm itself. She is the only one capable of locking the Worm up in the abyss for good, so he seeks her out to rule by his side instead.”
“And where can we find this woman?”
“Who knows. Thus far, no one can guess what she looks like, or even which time period she is in. All any of us know is that she is hidden here and that the Worm will do everything in his power to get her. If he does, the world is doomed. This is why we exist, to keep the world safe until the woman can be safely located and used to shut the beast out for good.”
“Have you made any progress regarding the matter?”
“Unfortunately, no. There has only been one time in recent history when the Worm attempted to escape, back in 1864 in Japan. He was temporarily defeated and not seen or heard from since, though some rumors persisted. It’s been assumed he was attempting to wait for the woman here, and that the time of the apocalypse is drawing near.”
“What happens if he succeeds?”
“Eternal damnation. I’m sure your minds can fill in the blanks.”
“All right comrade. There is only one more thing I need to know from you, but it will have to wait until after lunch. You have given the panel a lot to think about and discuss. Thus, we will reconvene here at 1300 hours.”
“Understood. I will finish my story after you have finished digesting everything I told you. I’ll be out having my smoke outside, as long as no one minds.”
Interview: Vasily Kozlov
January 24, 1992
“I’d like it to go on record that we are resuming our interview with Vasily Kozlov from the Order of Shadows. Now comrade, could you please tell the panel how you happen to stumble upon this organization and gained your title?”
“It started back in 1935. I was living in Vladivostok at the time, working on the fishing docks under a new identity. Adjusting to a new life was a bit of a chore for a man of the law, but the group of hunters I was running with at the time insisted it was a necessary evil. Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with specifics so as I was saying, I was in Vladivostok and I was on the tail of a beautiful woman.”
“That seems the norm for you comrade… trailing beautiful women.”
“What can I say? Guilty as charged. When I was normal, I did not see the point of committing to anyone. Life is short and there is no guarantee of the big pearly gates at the end when you bite the dust, so why waste the precious time you have being with just one woman the rest of your life. After I awoke and learned of what’s really out there, and well, no point in committing to anyone after that. Not in this line of work.
“That’s besides the point though, the woman I happen to be trailing that night was not for leisure, she was my mark. For several weeks we fishermen have been finding bodies of young men tangled up in our fishing nets. They were always perfectly mummified. Their ghastly, sunk in faces had the expression of horror permanently affixed in place. Didn’t take long for rumors to start floating around about rusalki.
“In my mind, the men were just being superstitious, but the leader of the scoundrel I was running with had different ideas. So, I was tasked with finding this rusalka and eliminating her before she could cause more harm. For several weeks I frequented the popular watering holes among the young men, having no luck… that is until the fateful night I spotted her.
“She was gorgeous. Skin as white as snow, with rosy lips, and eyes as violet as clover flower. Her long, silvery hair flowed down her sea-foam gown, giving her a surreal appearance of a woman who was simply a specter in the moonlight. I could not keep my eyes off her, but she did not notice my stares, she had her eyes fixed on a young man who worked the docks from time to time. Right away I knew it had to be her, so I sat down at the bar a few stools away from her, and waited for her to make a move.
“Finally, after what seemed like hours, the young man stumbled out of the bar without saying a word to his friends, as if entranced by a spell. The woman got up off her seat and glided out of the door behind him, with me staying close on her tail. It was a foggy night. I had to strain my eyes to keep track of her as she blended in so well, appearing to be made of mist herself. I listened for the gentle swishing of the train of her dress which flowed effortlessly behind her.
“We did not walk long as the bar was situated close to the small sliver of coast the local youth liked to frequent during the warmer month. This was January however, and the weather was moist and chilly. I bundled up my jacket to insulate me from the bite of the wind. The young man walked up to the edge of the shore and stood there, transfixed on some distant sight in the horizon. I got behind a tall rock and drew my pistol, I only had one enchanted bullet with me, so I had to get my aim right or I’d blow the mission.
“Crouching, I waited for the woman to make a move, but she never did. She just stood there in the sand, never once taking her eyes of the man. The only thing she did was pull out a vile of bio luminescent liquid which gave off an eerie blue glow. Perplex, I surmised it was some type of potion she would use to drain the man of moisture, not once realizing how I was about to be proven wrong.
“Without warning, the sound of a foghorn ringing through my ears broke the stiff air around me, causing me to collapse on the ground. By now I knew this was a hunter’s way of sensing danger. Each creature has a different vibration to them, but I’ve never heard one like this. Clasping my gun, I staggered from my hunting spot, expecting the rusalka to be attacking the man, except what I saw made me rethink my life until that point.
“In front of me, coming out of the water was a giant dome with shimmering yellow eyes the size of dinner plates, and tentacles longer than any naval ship in existence. One of these slimy tendrils slithered out, winding itself around the man’s legs and torso. With a sharp yank, the boy was on his back, being dragged unceremoniously into the ocean. The woman I was supposed to be watching was running behind them. Like an idiot, I stood there with my jaw flapping open as the giant octopus, the young man, and the rusalka vanished beneath the waves.
“Snapping out of it, I ran to the shoreline a few moments too late. There were no longer any signs of life there, just a dark void which seemed to stretch on for eternity. I was about to concede my failure and report back when the inky blackness vanished in a brilliant turquoise glow. It was a flash of light bright enough to illuminate the entire sky, like a bomb going off in the distance. Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it vanished. The shadows washed back over the horizon.
“There I stood, gawking at what just happen, when I spotted it, a silver blotch moving closer with the waves. Squinting I could see the woman had something with her, a limp figure she was attempting to drag ashore. Not giving it a second thought I leaped into the waves after them. The water was frigid, piercing my wool coat and sweater to douse me in its icy embrace. My skin burned, my lungs clenched up, and I was struggling to breathe with every stroke.
“It took me a minute to get to them, but once I did I helped grabbed hold of the unconscious man, relieving the woman from some of the burden. We did not struggle too much, just rode the waves until we could feel the ground beneath our feet. At that point, the rusalka let the man go, and I dragged him onshore. He was not breathing, and I pounded violently on his chest until by some miracle he coughed up water and brought fresh air into his lungs.
“With life restored back to the young man I looked around for the woman. She was still sitting in the water, having changed into her true form. She was no longer wearing a dress, the locks flowed down to cover her bare breast, and behind her flapped a sea-foam tail. With a forlorn look, she asked me if I would kill her like I was planning to beforehand. Stunned by what happened, I explained I could no longer do such a thing, not after knowing she was there to save the man.
“Truth was, it was her who made me realize the world was not black and white. Sure, we have the children of the Worm, and we have the children of the Amphiptere, but even then, it’s not so clear. The Worm can corrupt anyone, and even the vilest of creatures can harbor some good in it. Seeing the world in so many shades of grey made me ashamed of myself. All this time I have been killing without question, but no more, and I told the woman this much.
“She smiled at me and told me to find her at the Vladivostok train station the next evening before she vanished into the murky waters of the ocean. I grabbed the young man and dragged him back to my place to warm him up. I’m still not sure what story I made up to explain what happened to him. I think I said something along the lines of he was drunk and fell into the sea, whatever it was, he believed me.
“The entire day I felt nervous, purposely avoiding the hunters I was supposed to report back to. All I could think about was the woman. I thought of her all the way to the station, stopping only to admire the majestic structure. The white station, adorned with large windows, and its capped roof took my breath away every time. I stood before the expansive arched entryway when a glint of sea-foam out of the corner of my eye grabbed my attention.
“Trailing my eyes to the side I spotted her standing against the left wall beneath the archway. Eagerly approaching her, I gave her a proper introduction which escaped me the previous night. Smiling, the same warm smile she gave me last night, she introduced herself as Oksana Morozova, Overseer of The Order of Shadow.
“Intrigued, I asked her for more information, and she was more than happy to oblige. She told me I was a good candidate to join if I so wished, and that she would be happy to be my teacher. Handing me a ticket for the midnight train, Oksana gave me a few hours to decide what I wanted to do. I did not need a few hours though, I already knew I wanted in. That night I boarded the train and never looked back.
“Over the years I worked hard, and studied harder, working my way up the ranks until I gained my current title. All the while Oksana has been by my side as the perfect partner, mentor, and friend. But seeing as she is the one who runs things now, I’m sure you don’t want me to rehash her story. So that’s that. This is how I came to stand before you today commissary.”
“Extraordinary. Miss. Morozova didn’t reveal how she came to know you, only that she held you in the highest regard. Tell me, comrade, how do you feel about medicine?”
“I don’t know. Never stopped to consider it. Why do you ask?”
“Because starting next week we are sending you to work as an orderly at the local clinic. There have been reports of strange things happening around the area, including prostitutes being found drained of blood. You seem like the perfect man to infiltrate the place and keep an eye on things for us.”
“Sounds reasonable. Not to mention it beats working as a security guard for the old steel mill. I’ll report to work as you asked, just tell me the time and place.”
“Excellent comrade. The board and I will be keeping in touch with you. I sure hope the Order and the government can have a good working relationship together.”
“Same here commissary.”
“Now before we let you go. Is there anything you can tell us about our next interviewee, a comrade Matroskin, is it?”
(Snicker) “Sorry commissary, but he is something you have to see to believe, I can’t ruin such a delightful surprise for you. You have a good day now, sir.”