Monday, 30 November 2009

Kettle Genies

Eunice arranged herself primly on the decaying sofa in Vlad's drawing room, and watched dispassionately as Roland threw himself into the armchair opposite, wincing slightly as he knocked his injured arm.

She looked at his handsome face, complete with romantically stormy expression, and wondered why he did not move her at all? After all, he was tall, good looking, rich and an alpha? Eunice knew that she would have trouble explaining herself to the Council of Witches and her family, when it came out that she was expecting a child by a werewolf and wished to marry him. But in the snooty, hierarchichal world of the Old Kingdomers, they would almost be as shocked that she had fallen for a mere Beta!

Eunice allowed herself a little smile at the memory of looking down at her mere Beta as he slept this morning. His curly dark hair had been tousled, his long limbs flung over the side of the bed and he had been snoring like a trooper! Still she would have him no other way, and would entertain no notion of another whatever the Witches Council, her family and Roland de Cazalrenoux had to say in the matter!

Roland viewed Eunice's little smile warily. As far as he was concerned, Eunice was the most thoroughly unpredictable female he had ever encountered, and although she totally exasperated him, he could not help becoming more and more attracted to her. She was like a breath of fresh air after all the beautiful, well-groomed women who pursued him. He was a vain werewolf who knew his own worth, but even Roland had enough insight to realise that most of them were after his money and the status he could give them.

What would most of them do if they knew he was a werewolf, a creature of the night?

'So Roland, are you ready to begin' asked Eunice tartly, breaking into his musings.

'Any time you like, Ms Batchworth' he replied urbanely.

'Well as you know, Sue Fisher has been casting spells on your behalf. However, these have not proceeded as smoothly as we would have liked. There seemed to have been a lot of background interference and it was very difficult to get them on the right vibration. It would seem that someone or something, doesn't want you to have any of this information, Roland?'

Roland looked annoyed.

'But wouldn't that someone have to be immensly powerful to block Sue Fisher's spells? I thought that she was the best in the business?' he asked.

'Oh she is' reassured Eunice 'We can only think of four someones or somethings that could possibly be doing it. The big question then is why would they be interested in your missing Clan member or what have you done to upset one of them?'

'I haven't upset anyone' said Roland a trifle haughtily 'I go out of my way to maintain good relations with all Old Kingdomers and even humans!'

'Hmm, like the way you have been getting on with the Count and Lord Kingsteignton?' asked Eunice shrewdly.

'They are vampires who have had the temerity to involve themselves in my business!' bit back Roland savagely 'Anyway, I do not believe that there is a vampire alive, if you can call it that, today who is powerful enough to intefere with Sue Fisher. If you tell me that Vladimerescu is on the list, I will have to laugh!

'Well' started Eunice diplomatically 'Three of them are definitely not vampires. There is old Tog ol Mallich, the renegade witch who lives on the mountain in Wales. We believe that she still has the power, but she is supposed to be totally crazy, is a recluse and why would she be interested in werewolf doings? There is Old Father Tom the Head of the Centaurs in Georgia, but he's a benign old fellow, and only interested in the welfare of his centaurs. None of the packs have taken to hunting centaurs have they?'

'Don't be ridiculous' snapped back Roland 'We have only the utmost respect for our centaur brothers, besides which we wouldn't stand a chance of catching them, even with a full pack!'

Roland grinned, and Eunice could see why this charming, self-deprecating side of Roland could be lethally attractive to women.

She smiled back at him, which broke some of the tension in the room, and continued.

'That only leaves Einneoach Lal Korami the Trollmaster in the Himalayas, but the one we are truly afraid of could sort of be classed as a vampire.'

Roland raised his eyebrows.

'Whatever do you mean' he asked.

'Well, really it's a thought that should not be thought. But we are worried that it is the one who has not stirred for 10,000 years and who shall not be called by name.

An icy chill ran up Roland's spine.

'But that's impossible! They are only stories told to frighten Old Kingdom children on long winter nights! Surely the great Father of Vampires cannot rise again, surely it's not true!'

Eunice sighed. 'Often the job of the witches is to think the unthinkable on behalf of the rest of the Old Kingdom. Don't forget that the Old Kingdom has been flourishing for many millenia longer than human civilisation. 10,000 years really isn't that long? There are many Old Kingdomers still alive who have heard tales of that time from relatives who were alive then.'

'But, why would the nameless Vampire Overlord, be interested in my internal Clan concerns? What is so special about our missing Kea? asked Roland with a frown creasing his forehead.

'This is what we have to find out' said Eunice briskly. 'Sue Fisher is working on some more powerful spells, but we did have the good luck to have a kettle genie pop up on your behalf!'

'A kettle genie?' echoed Roland increduously 'What on earth is a kettle genie?'

'Oh, they are genies who are attracted to living in and around witch's cauldrons. They like the warmth of the steam and the vibrations of the spells. Most cauldrons have one or two, but we are lucky enough to four resident genies!'

Roland was starting to think that the worst thing that he had ever done in his long life was take that call from Kingsteignton. It had only been yesterday morning, but it seemed that he had stepped into a surreal nightmare that never seemed to end.

'Er, why was it luck that the kettle genie popped up' enquired Roland, not really sure if he actually wanted to know.

'Because he had some important information for you' replied Eunice as though she was talking to a small child 'They don't just pop for everyone you know! The genie said to tell you that some of the answers you seek lie on your sofa at home, look for the lavender.'

'Sounds like utter nonsense to me, but I suppose I had better go and check it out' said Roland beginning to unfold himself from the armchair.

'Where do you think you are going?' asked Eunice crisply.

'To check my sofa? God knows what for, as it definitely isn't lavender! At least I can shower and get some decent clothes'.

'No you can't' said Eunice 'The genie also said that you must first help the vampire find the human, Mike Costello. If you don't all will go awry!'

'What a load of rubbish' ground out Roland 'Of what possible use could that human be to anyone. All he has caused so far is trouble! The best thing that could happen is that Kingsteignton bleeds him dry!!!!'

A little gasp behind him made him whirl round to see a pale-faced Vlad standing in the doorway holding a tatty green sweatshirt in his hands.

'No' moaned Vlad 'You do not mean it. Mike is my friend. What has he ever done to you?'

Eunice went over to Vlad and put her arm around his shaking shoulders.

'Of course he doesn't mean it. If he knows what is good for him, he will go out with you this morning and help you to find Mike. Did you bring that sweatshirt for him? That was very kind of you, though he doesn't deserve it!'

Eunice took the sweatshirt from Vlad's limp grasp and flung it at Roland.

'Change your clothes and go with the vampires, de Cazalrenoux. You have hurt Vlad's feelings for no good reason. I think that it is time that you all realised that we are caught up in something a lot bigger than your petty concerns!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Would You Like Ice On That?

'Hold still, Roland, or I will never get this bandage on!' chided Eunice frostily as she attempted to roll a bandage over Roland's badly bitten arm 'You could really do with some stitches you know, why don't you let us take you to A&E'.

Vlad, who was trying to restrain Antonescu in the corner, just gulped as he saw Roland's flat, angry eyes as he tried to jerk his arm away from Eunice's dainty, but firm, grip. This morning was definitely not going as planned! And they needed to rescue poor, old Mike!

'If it wasn't for you, Miss Batchworth, the Count wouldn't have about two inches of my flesh dangling from his fangs!' exploded Roland.

'Yes, I can see what you mean' replied Eunice turning to survey the Count's bloodied face 'Can't be very nice for you to have to look at. Mr Vladimirescu, could you please get the Count to wipe his face clean?'

Vlad who was losing his battle to contain Antonescu was not impressed by this suggestion.

'But...but... How on earth am I meant to do that' he spluttered at Eunice's back, as she had already returned to her task of binding Roland's arm.

'It was supposed to be your throat, witch' growled the Count menacingly.

'Oh I have just about had enough of you three' ground out Eunice sharply whirling back round, and managing to painfully knock Roland's still gaping wound in the process whilst still retaining her grip.

'Let's get a few things straight! I have information that I need to impart to Mr de Cazalrenoux, I will not tell anyone else. If he wishes to share that information with you two, that is his concern! Also, I do not need any protection from a vampire, however big and scary that vampire thinks he is! The only reason that you got bitten, Roland, is that you got in the way of my freezing spell. I was in no danger from the Count!'

Roland flushed once more.

'It is in my nature and breeding to protect the fairer sex, Miss Batchworth, and you could have been killed!' retorted Roland.

'Nonsense! You were just on some macho trip to make yourself look and feel good! That's why I didn't unfreeze you both for a couple of minutes, to give you both time to cool down! You should both be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. As for you, Mr Vladimirescu, if you really want to be the vampire leader, you really need to start growing a back bone!'

The three male Old Kingdomers subsided, quashed by this outburst. Roland grimly remembering those minutes, that seemed to stretch for eternity, where he had been frozen in mid-air with Antonescu's fangs dug into his arm. He was almost certain that Eunice has timed the spell to the second so that Antonescu would bite him, and she had just confirmed that she deliberately dragged the spell on longer than she needed to!

Tying the last knot on the bandage firmly, she picked up the bowl of bloodied ice that she had used (with unnecessary vigour and enthusiasm in Roland's opinion) to stop the bleeding and tipped it down the sink.

'And I don't want to catch either of you sucking the ice cubes or licking the sink' she stated firmly, looking both vampires squarely in the eye 'From now on, we will have a bit of decorum! Roland, if you want that information, please follow me now into the drawing room.'

With that she swept out of the room, still looking band-box neat without a hair out of place.

Roland, patted the bandage on his arm gingerly and grimaced. He was not worried about infection from the vampire's fangs, his werewolf heritage shielded him from that and promoted fast healing, but the wound was throbbing painfully and you couldn't have said that Eunice's ministrations had been tender! He eased himself up from the kitchen table and ambled out of the door, shooting the Count a malevolent look as he went, painfully aware that the usually suave and elegant Roland de Cazalrenoux was clad in a pair of humans black jeans that were too big in the waist and too short in the leg, an old white UCL sweatshirt that was now ripped down one arm and splattered with blood, and that he still had tufts of tawny wolf fur sprouting from his ears!

'The witch will pay!' grumbled the Count low in his throat, after Roland had left the room.

'No Antonescu, YOU will leave it!' cried Vlad decisively pushing the Count hard back into the corner 'I, too have had more than enough! You still have questions to answer yourself! Why did you try to get information out of Miss Batchworth so aggressively, AND you still have not cleared your name with regards me being warned not to trust you!

The Count looked abashed; Vladimirescu squaring up to him was like a sparrow scaling the Rock of Gibraltar, but he had a new note of command in his voice, and Antonescu had been trained to obey.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Just a Little Misunderstanding Between Friends!

By the time that Roland and Vlad had burst into the kitchen, having first been delayed by a brief scuffle as to who was going to get through the door first which Roland's superior height helped him win, the Count was leaning back against the sink with a supercilious sneer on his face and Eunice was rubbing her sore wrist with a decidedly stormy look on her face.

Roland flung himself over to Eunice, grabbed her to him and asked in a hoarse voice

'Are you OK, what has that brute done to you? Where has he hurt you?'

Eunice, who didn't appreciate being mauled by Roland any more than she did being man-handled by the Count, dug the stiletto heel of her dainty black pump into his sock-clad right foot, and dug her elbow sharply into his middle.

'Ow, that hurt' squealed Roland, jumping back with an indignant look on his face. 'What the hell have I done, I'm only trying to help you'.

The Count just rolled his eyes and said dryly 'I don't think that the young lady is in a very appreciative mood this morning, De Cazalrenoux, and she is definitely not in a co-operative one!'

Roland looked for a moment as though he was going to go at the Count and throttle him, but then thought better of it and pulled himself back with a visible effort. His ears had sprouted tufts of tawny fur, his canines had dropped down in his jaw and his eyes had widened and narrowed into glassily cold green stare.

'What were you doing to Eunice?' he snarled 'You must have really hurt her for her to have cried out like that.'

'I did nothing, De Cazalrenoux' replied the Count contemptuously 'I was merely trying to elicit some information from her; these young people nowadays have no mettle and no staying power'.

Roland growled low in his throat and Vlad grabbed his arm to restrain him.

'Why are you pumping her for information, Antonescu?' spat Roland 'What can she possibly know that would be of interest to you vampires!'

'Well, she obviously came her to impart some information to you, so I just thought that I would speed up the process' said the Count reasonably.

'Anything that she has to say was for my ears only, Antonescu' was Roland's hot reply 'Why on earth do you think that she would tell you confidential client information?'

'Unfortunately for her, that was her response as well. So I had to grease the wheels a little to get her to talk. Regrettable but necessary!' replied the Count silkily.

Vlad, who by now was holding onto Roland's arm with both hands to restrain him, glared angrily at the Count.

'How dare you take advantage of a guest in this house! And how dare you assault a lady under my roof!' spluttered Vlad.

'You don't honestly believe that the werewolf would share any of that information with us do you?' asked Antonescu tauntingly 'And that's no lady, she's a witch and you know what they are like!'

'No I don't know what 'they' are like' answered Vlad repressively 'And I will reiterate that I do not like guests in this house being harassed and assaulted in any way!'

Eunice looked up from rubbing her wrist and said in a matter of fact tone 'His sire ran away with a renegade witch, that's why he doesn't like us. They tried to hush it all up, but his family have never gotten over it. The Count now thinks that all witches are cheap tarts on the make.'

Vlad's jaw dropped and the Count looked furious.

'But I never knew this? Why wasn't I told? I thought that old Igor was staked in the Resistance? His name is on the 'Wall of Distinction'. Is he still alive? Where did he run away to?' wailed Vlad.

'Oh yes he is still very much alive. He ran away to the Bahamas. He's a property developer now, I believe'.

'Shut your mouth witch!' growled the Count 'You don't know what you are talking about!'

'Oh I thought you wanted to get information out of me, Count?' sniped back Euncie sweetly 'Do you want me to tell them how he stripped the rings off the fingers of your aunts in their coffins before he left as well?'

Antonescu had stiffened against the sink and a dangerous rictus had overtaken his face.

'Or how he sold your younger sister onto the slave markets in Tangiers to get enough money for the plane fares?' she continued 'Or that the name of this dangerous siren is Doris, and that she is 40 pounds overweight and used to run a whelk stall in Southend?'

The Count snarled and leapt at Eunice, going for her throat this time....

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Roland the Red

Eunice laughed so loud that she doubled over and clutched her middle, but still she couldn't stop.

Roland, who was thoroughly unaccustomed to women bursting out laughing at the sight of his nearly naked body, flushed a dark brick red. This annoyed him further as he knew that a red face did not suit his tawny, red hair, and that usually he could control his blushing. But something about Eunice brought his defences down and made him feel like a naughty little cub of ten again.

Eunice finally ran out of steam and managed to pull herself up straight again, still puffing from her exertions.

'Oh I wish I had a camera' she started, blithely unaware of the stony reception she was receiving from the three male old kingdomers 'You three look so funny just standing here in the kitchen with a bag of blood!'

She almost started to laugh again, but managed to collect herself when she looked into Roland's face and saw that he was not at all amused. She didn't know him well enough to know that, while he was usually an affable and fairly laid back character for a werewolf, his Achilles heel was his vanity and his feeling of invincibility where the opposite sex was concerned. He was not one to laugh at himself and his wounded pride.

The Count glowering and Vlad looking fussily appalled did not concern her; they were vampires and vampires always were a bit weird as far as she was concerned.

'For god's sake, Vladimirescu, do you not have some clothes that I could borrow from you, or are you happy for me to go on standing here feeling humiliated!' barked Roland suddenly.

Vlad, who was never too good in the morning until after he had had his first warm bag of blood, jumped. His nerves were already on edge this morning, what with Antonescu dragging him out of his coffin at an unreasonably early hour of the morning after a poor night spent worrying about poor Mike Costello, Roland strolling casually into the kitchen barely clothed demanding coffee and then this beautiful woman turning up out of nowhere. Were they really safe in this house if all and sundry seemed to be able to turn up out of the blue, knowing exactly who was in the house?

'Yes of course, Roland, just follow me. Do you think that we are actually enjoying the vision of your half-naked body draped over the kitchen dresser?' he asked pointedly as he took Roland out of the kitchen door into the hall.

As the sound of their footsteps faded as they climbed the stairs, the Count turned to Eunice, who was by now regaining some of her composure, took her hand, bowed deeply over it and said suavely 'Enchanted to meet you; it is always such a pleasure to meet such a charming young lady. My name is Count Antonescu, lately arrived from Romania'

The smile that accompanied this gesture was no more pleasant thought Eunice than the glower that he had initially greeted her with.

She snatched back her hand a bit to hastily and drew herself up to her full height.

'Thank you kindly, Sir' she replied 'I am Miss Batchworth - Eunice Batchworth - and I am chief witch's assistant to Sue Fisher'.

'Sue Fisher' said the Count knowledgeably 'you fly high in witch's circles for one so young, my child'.

'Sue Fisher is my aunt, sir. Witching is in my blood, I come from a long line of high fliers'.

'Hmm, I believe that your aunt is assisting the werewolf in the matter of his missing clan member, how is this coming along? Do you have any information for us?

Eunice was appalled at the Counts blunt enquiry. 'As you should know, Sir, I am not at liberty to discuss our clients with you. Any information that I have is for Mr De Cazalrenoux's ears alone; if he wishes to discuss it with you that is his decision and his concern'.

The Count smiled at her answer, but did not seem pleased with it. He looked intently into Eunice's eyes and said 'But I am not interested in De Cazalrenoux's concerns, I need you tell me exactly what it is that Sue Fisher has entrusted to you and I need you to tell me now!'

Eunice, who was not in the least intimidated by this display, broke the Counts stare.

'Count Antonescu, I don't appreciate you asking me for information, when I have already informed you that it is confidential and for the ears of our client only! It is not the act of a gentleman. And please don't try and entrance me with your stare again! I am not a human and could stare down a vampire from the age of five!'

'You make a great mistake, young lady, crossing me. There are things afoot that you could not possibly know the significance of, things that are bigger than your stupid confidentiality clauses! You will tell me now what you know, or you will regret it!'

With this speech the Count leaned over, grabbed one of Eunice's wrists and started twisting it.

'Let me go' she screamed at him and kicked him heftily on the leg 'I will tell you nothing. I do not know you. I do not trust you. And our client's confidentiality will not be broken'.

The Count just smiled some more. Eunice was a tall girl, but she was willowy and slight. The Count was a very tall, very stocky, preternaturally strong vampire from an old blood line, and her kicking him had little or no effect.

'You will tell me' he said sweetly 'And you you will tell me now, before the werewolf and my so called leader return'.

'No!' said Eunice promptly, sinking her teeth into his arm in an attempt to make him let her go.

'I like your spirit, but unless you really want me to hurt you, you will tell me what I wish to know!'

At this the Count increased the pressure on Eunice's slender wrist, causing her to scream out loud. The Count grabbed her to him and roughly put his hand over her mouth to stop her cries.

It was too late however, as the sound of pounding footsteps were heard on the stairs, and both Roland and Vlad burst into the kitchen.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Three Stooges

'Well, we look inconspicuous don't we!' thought Roland wryly, as they strolled up Clarence Crescent trying to look nonchalant in the bright morning sunshine.

Roland had woken up on Vladimirescu's hearth rug in the cold morning light. Back in his human form, he had been stiff, cold and naked. His clothes were in a heap on the sofa where Antonescu had dumped them, but they were too ripped up by his turning to be able to put them on. He rooted through the pockets and retrieved his wallet, keys and phone and looked for something to cover himself. The only thing to hand was a very grubby tablecloth that had been covering a scratched, walnut side table. He draped it round his thighs and wandered into the kitchen.

'Any chance of a coffee' he asked the two vampires who had already arisen from their coffins and were bickering as usual over a glutinous bag of pig's blood.

Vlad jumped in surprise and the Count glared at him.

'With milk and two sugars, if you have them' continued Roland affably.

'Do you not dress in the morning's anymore, De Cazalrenoux?' asked the Count stuffily.

'Not when my clothes are in shreds from last night, I don't! Do you have anything I can borrow?' asked Roland cheerily.

Vlad looked at him with a worried frown.

'You seem mighty cheerful this morning for someone who woke up naked on the rug?' he asked warily 'Has something happened?'

'Nothing' replied Roland 'We werewolves always feel great after turning; it makes us feel good to be alive!'

'I suppose you want us to provide you with a woman as well as the coffee' interjected the Count tartly.

'You do know our species well, don't you Count! I'm not holding out for the milk and sugar, so fully realise that a woman is not likely to materialise!'

'Hm' snorted Antonescu and was about to say more, when the door bell suddenly jangled loudly through the house.

Vlad scooted fussily off to open it, totally unaware that he still had the bag of pig's blood in his hand. After a few brief moments, after they heard the opening of the creaking old front door and the low murmuring of voices, Vlad returned to the kitchen trailed by the almost impossibly glamorous figure of Eunice Batchworth.

'Er, you have a visitor Roland' stuttered Vlad nervously 'How on earth did she know you were here?'

'I wouldn't know' said Roland grinning from ear to ear 'It was you guys who mentioned providing the woman!'

'Sue Fisher sent me' said Eunice simply then looked around at Roland's half naked, grinning figure, Vlad still nervously clutching his bag of pig's blood, the Count standing glowering in a sinister manner and fell into the biggest fit of giggles ever.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Battle Plans

Roland, Vlad and the Count reached Vlad's house without any major incidents. Roland had been scented by a police dog as he loped over Sloane Square, but managed to overpower the dog's mind before he could cause too much of a commotion.

He had been the first to arrive at the house, even though the vampires were flying and should have been there well before him, so he reconnoitered the area to see if anything interesting had been going on while they had been away. There were no new signs of Kingsteignton or Mike Costello, and in fact no signs that anyone at all had been near the place.

'Popular guys' thought Roland sourly 'not even the London vampires want to come around and hang out'.

He was sitting patiently on his haunches when they arrived, bumping into each other and squabbling as usual.

'Pack it in and get us in the door' he growled into Vlad's mind.

Vlad fumbled over the keys in the locks, with the Count tutting in the background, and then stumbled into the hallway, flicking on the specially muted lights as he went. Roland followed the two vampires in, screwing up his nose as he went. The stench of the place had been bad enough in human form, but was much worse now he had his wolf nose!!!

'Have you ever thought of getting a cleaner, Vladimirescu' he projected into the vampire's minds.

Vlad flushed and the Count looked annoyed.

'Look here, de Cazalrenoux' squeaked Vlad 'I live here on my own and do the best I can with this crumbling heap! Do you think that I would spend funds on cleaners, when my brothers and sisters in Romania are starving to death! We will talk in the drawing room - I hope that it will meet with your olfactory approval!'

He stalked off into the dining room, followed by the wolf Roland and the Count, who was glaring at Roland.

Vlad began after they had all made themselves comfortable.

'We need to make a plan to rescue Mike; Kingsteignton has already had him for several hours. I'm worried what might happen to him.'

'Why?' asked Roland in their heads. 'Why are you concerned about rescuing a human; haven't we got more important things to worry about?'

'Because he's my friend' retorted Vlad hotly, genuinely shocked at what Roland had said.

'He's a human. Since when have vampires had humans as friends? Aren't they usually just lunch?' enquired Roland 'Or are you some kind of new vampire?'

'I don't know why you are being do disagreeable, Roland! You know I don't feed the old way, and that I believe that the way forward for the Old Kingdom is to integrate more with humans'.

Roland just looked at him, as disbelievingly as a wolf could manage.

'I think de Cazalrenoux only looks at things from the point of view of what is going to benefit him' interjected the Count dryly 'Costello may be your best bet on getting you missing Clan member back, de Cazalrenoux. He may have information that he hasn't passed on, or he might have picked up something new from being around Kingsteignton. Don't forget he is a true psychic. Probably worth the minor inconvenience of helping us to get him back'.

Roland growled low in his throat.

'Fair point, Antonescu; but I'm just not keen on the idea of Old Kingdomers risking their necks for humans, we have enough on our plates as it is!'

'Look we have to start somewhere, and rescuing Mike seems like a good place to start' said Vlad firmly. 'There is no point going to his place while it is still dark, as Kingsteignton and whatever accomplices helped rescue him are still likely to be up and about. I propose that we go round there first thing tomorrow and see if we can pick up any clues. Anyway, we will need to wait until Roland has turned back. A wolf might just look a little conspicuous in Belgravia in broad daylight. How many more nights will you be turning, Roland?'

'The moon will be full enough on three more nights. I suppose we do have to start somewhere' replied Roland.

'Unless you can think of a better idea?' asked the Count sarcastically.

'Not really' said Roland 'I'm a bit stumped until Sue Fisher comes up with something'.

'Well we might as well rest until morning then. At least Kingsteignton left his car here, so we can use that. Are you OK down there down on the rug, Roland?' asked Vlad.

'Fine' replied Roland stretching out his limbs 'Do you happen to have a nice, meaty lamb bone lying around by any chance!'

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Revelations in the Night

Eunice and Malvolio lay back in the bed, lazily replete and satisfied. The clouds had cleared and now the full moon shone brightly through the curtainless window.

'Makes it something special doesn't it, making love when I should be turning!' said Malvolio grinning and turning to kiss Eunice's soft white shoulder.

A cloud crossed Eunice's face. 'I think that we should stop doing this Malvolio, however good it feels. Roland will go nuts if he finds out that you are not turning as you should, and I could get thrown off the Witch's Council if they found out that I was helping you. Also, we are not sure if it's going to hurt you if you keep doing it!'

'You worry too much sweetheart' smiled Malvolio as he slipped his arm around her and pulled her to him 'No one is going to find out and I will be fine!'

But Eunice would not be placated.

'I really think that I should leave now, and that you should turn. Prosperpine is fine, I can feel her sleeping. It would be better for you!'

Malvolio just laughed. 'But I feel wonderful, my love. I have never felt better. Just relax and stay with me.'

'You know I told you that I met Roland today and then bumped into him as I was leaving earlier' started Eunice hesitantly 'Well, I'm not sure that I should mention this, but I think that he thought that I had come here to see him'.

'You think so' Malvolio asked shortly 'What makes you think that'.

Eunice could tell that Malvolio's body had stiffened under her.

'Well he was very flirty at Sue's and seemed disappointed that I had been visiting you guys. Why had you never told him about me, Malvolio?'

'Because there are some things that I like to keep private. This Clan business is all very well, but you don't get a life of your own. Everyone knows everything about you; what you do, what you say, who you know!'

'There is more to it than that though, isn't there?' prompted Eunice gently.

'Well I'm also not sure how cool Roland would be about you being a witch. I mean the usual Clan way is that you are put together with a selected Clan bitch at the turning time and nature takes over. By the time you are back in human form you are stuck with each other for life.'

'Another valid point, Malvolio, but it's still not the real reason is it?'

Eunice looked directly into Malvolio's face with cool, searching green eyes. He groaned and looked away.

'Oh you know! Roland is like this big stud. The big alpha male! I'm a mere beta and should know my place. If you must know, I'm scared stiff that he is going to sweep in here and take you from me. And you telling me that he is already sniffing around you just makes it worse. If he fancies you and finds out that we are an item, he'll lose it totally. He's not used to coming second!'

'Maybe you are underestimating him, and you are certainly underestimating me. I love you Malvolio, you know that. Do you think that means that I will let the big bad wolf carry me off to his lair and ravage me whenever the fancy takes him!'

Malvolio looked stricken. 'This is the first time I have crossed him, Eunice. And the only reason I can do it is because I love you so much. It would crucify me if he took you from me.'

She smiled gently down at him. 'He will never have me and I will never leave you. Especially not now.'

'Why not now especially' he asked cautiously.

'Because I am pregnant' she said simply 'We are going to have a child, Malvolio.'

Friday, 21 August 2009

By The Light of the Silvery Moon

Vlad tried to shrink behind the Count as he found himself caught in the cold green gaze of the wolf standing before him. The Count snorted derisively and pushed Vlad forward.

'What's the matter Vladimirescu? Have you never seen a wolf before?'

Vlad heard the words in his head, conveyed in a flat, cold tone.

'Did it talk? I heard no words!' Vlad tried to jump backwards again, but only managed to collide with the vast bulk of the Count, and was swiftly pushed forwards once more.

'I think that de Cazalrenoux might start getting offended if you keep on referring to him as an 'it'' observed Antonescu drily 'When he is in his wolf form, he communicates by telepathy'.

'You seem to know a lot about our race, Count' commented Roland in their heads.

Vlad couldn't help jumping and by now his eyes were wide as saucers and his dark curls were jiggling furiously.

'So can you read my mind now' he asked, rather loudly as he was so rattled.

'The top thoughts certainly' replied the cold voice in his head 'And I suppose that I could delve further if I chose, but most minds aren't worth the effort. They tend to be grubby and neglected, a bit like the kind of houses that Health Inspectors are called out to.'

'So how do you do it? Does Antonescu hear everything I hear, or can you have one to one conversations?' Vlad replied.

'You don't have to speak out loud for me to hear you; in fact it would be safer for everyone if you would stop shouting so much' said the voice that was Roland the Wolf 'We don't want half of London turning up to see what is going on'.

Vlad flushed. Between Antonescu and de Cazalrenoux, he felt like an ungainly adolescent. They always seemed to be wrong-footing him, and he felt that he was the butt of some private joke between them. But he, Demitrie Vladimirescu, was the Leader of the Romanian Vampires. He totally outranked Antonescu and was of equal, if not higher rank, than the Leader of a Werewolf Clan!

Roland must have caught the gist of these thoughts as he suddenly chuckled deep in his furry throat.

'Don't worry Vladimirescu, Antonescu can't hear what I'm saying now. You can rest assured that we do not have some private joke against you going on. I have picked up enough from your mind that you have been given cause to doubt the Count, and that you and he have quarrelled about this? asked the voice in his head drily.

Vlad opened his mouth to reply and then firmly shut it again.

'I don't know what to think any more, de Cazalrenoux' he thought in his head instead.

'Is anyone who they say they are? Can I trust anyone? My people, the Romanian Vampires are being annihilated, and I have no idea how to stop this happening! You are a Clan Leader, you must know how this feels, this need to protect your people, this feeling of helplessness?'

Vlad felt a warm rush of feeling envelop him like a soft, fluffy blanket. De Cazalrenoux was offering him his sympathy and understanding.

'But what are we to do?' he thought.

'The first thing we must do is get inside somewhere and out of sight, away from prying eyes. The last thing we need is the police chasing a large dog-like creature and two mysterious dark figures! I think the best thing is if we go back to your house Vladimirescu. We could never get into my apartment block without being spotted!'thought Roland into Vlad's head.

'Yes, I think that's a good idea; we are not doing any good just standing here. We need to work out a plan to rescue Mike and find Kingsteignton.'

Vlad turned to the Count, who was beginning to look a little sour at being left out of the conversation, and said decisively 'We are returning to my house to make plans; we will have to keep up with the wolf, so we will dematerialise and fly'.

Antonescu opened his mouth to protest, thought better of it, and drew himself up to his full height.

'I will take the wolf's clothes' he said regally, bending over and picking up Roland's destroyed raiment.

At that the two vampires evaporated into a trail of fine black smoke and Roland starting galloping hard in the direction of the river.

Meanwhile, the moon continued her stately climb through the night sky and sent silvery moonbeams to bounce off the sleeping world below. She pushed her silvery fingers though the pink Cinderella curtains and smiled at Proserpine laying sleeping like an angel tucked under her pink duvet, more silvery fingers peeped in the window at Malvolio and Eunice Batchworth joyfully drinking wine and making love as he somehow managed to push back the time of his turning, and they even penetrated the bars of the tiny window in the basement of Lord Kingsteignton's house, where Mike Costello lay trussed like a spring chicken, shaking with fear.

The only place where they could not reach was the cold depths of the caves in Romania, where something ancient and evil was stirring. Something that was causing the very earth itself to shake and split in two.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Too Close To Moonrise

Roland settled into a steady lope and covered the ground easily as he cut his way through the darkened suburban back gardens. He easily jumped any fences or walls that he encountered, and continued on his way without his heart beat rising one iota or breaking into a sweat. One of the advantages of being a werewolf was not having to go to the gym to keep fit!

He was not worried about the car; the police would never be able to identify him through it. It was his strict policy that none of the Clan vehicles could ever be traced back to them and they all had falsified registrations and insurance taken out under other names and linked to non-existent addresses. He would make no attempt to retrieve the vehicle; it just wasn't worth the trouble it could stir up.

He was also totally unconcerned as to the fate of the two vampires. Even if he cared what happened to them, he knew that they would have just drifted away from the scene of the crime in a puff of smoke, leaving behind two confused and frustrated police officers. He was also pretty sure that they were tracking him and would materialise as soon as it suited them.

The one thing that was slowing him down was the clothes he was wearing. The heavy black leather jacket, thick denim jeans and dark blue polo shirt were impeding his movements, stopping him from getting into his full stride. He considered stripping off, but did not want to be responsible for some old lady having a heart attack as he streaked past her lounge window!

He raised his head slightly to the sky and sniffed the wind. It was getting perilously near to the rising of the moon and soon her silver orb would be glimpsed scudding through the clouds and bathing everything in her ghostly glow. Roland had never risked turning out in the open in a densely populated area. He wasn't like some of the Old Kingdomers who revelled in shocking humans and creating urban myths about themselves. He believed that the safety of the Clan was better served by discretion; he did not like the current rash of films and TV series about werewolves and vampires. He would have preferred it if humans had never heard of them and didn't believe that they existed.

The turning was close. He could feel it rippling in his veins and muscles. His animal instincts were being heightened with every second that passed. Should he just preempt the inevitable and turn? He would be able to move much faster and would surely be able to find somewhere to hole up for the night? He could even be daring and go and hunt the deer in Richmond Park? He could cover so much more ground in his wolf self.

Twin thuds on the turf off to his left startled him and brought him to a halt. He turned to find the two vampires struggling to get up off the grass, and squabbling with each other as usual.

'Why did you have to fly into me like that! You could have hurt me!' he heard Vlad whine petulantly.

'You know that I have to fly three wing beats behind you at all times, My Leader. You should know better than to turn like that on descent!' retorted the Count.

Roland frowned. Petulant, arguing vampires was not what he needed right now.

'Look here' he started but the rest of his sentence came out as a loud, resonating howl. His thinking about turning when he was so close to it had set off the process and there was no going back now

'What's up with de Cazalrenoux' demanded Vlad, his eyes as wide as saucers. 'His body is writhing under his skin and he seems to be changing shape?'

'Have you never seen a werewolf turn before?' asked Count Antonescu sneeringly.

'No never' replied a horrified Vlad 'Is it going to be horrible? Will we be safe with a wolf?'

As he uttered these words, the silver disk of the moon rose above the horizon and Roland's body seemed to be thrown into a paroxysm of agony. His limbs writhed, flailed and began to change shape. His facial features contorted and ears pricked. And finally, under the shocked gaze of Vlad, Roland split out of his clothes and grew a thick, ruddy pelt. The wolf that was Roland sank down onto four huge paws and looked at the two vampires with cold green eyes. Seemingly not satisfied with what he saw, he threw back his head and gave throat to a deep, bass howl. Only of course there were no other Clan members who could answer him that night.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Flash Point

Roland was just trying to get his car back into the proper gear and move it forward away from the Porsche's crumpled bonnet, when he heard a tapping on the window. He cursed when he saw two shadowy figures peering in; the police had arrived just when he didn't need them to!

He cautiously rolled the window down and jerked back involuntarily when Vlad stuck his face through the window.

'What are you doing here, de Cazalrenoux' said Vlad indignantly 'And what have you done with Mike Costello!'.

Roland pushed the door open with a violent shove, leaped out of the car and grabbed the young vampire around the throat.

'I have just about had enough of this. Vladimirescu!' he ground out. 'Why didn't you tell me you were meeting the psychic tonight and why is it that Kingsteignton is back on the loose'.

Vlad felt his fangs clatter loosely over his bottom teeth as Roland rattled him around for several long minutes as effortlessly as if he had been waving an empty sack in the air.

'I suggest that you let my Leader go now' stated Count Antonescu darkly as he leaned over Roland and prised Vlad from his grip, dropping him back onto the pavement.

Vlad was sure that the Count could have stepped in earlier or stopped Roland from grabbing him in the first place, but he bit his tongue and pulled himself together.

'We have no requirement to discuss official Vampire business with you, De Cazalrenoux' began Vlad, very much on his dignity now. 'We do not know how you know about this meeting or that Lord Kingsteignton is currently unaccounted for; but we do not have to explain ourselves as it is not your concern'.

'Until my missing Clan member is returned to me everything you do, say or breathe is my concern you little bloodsucker! spat out Roland menacingly.

The Count put a very large hand on Roland's chest and pushed him gently backwards.

'Enough! Desist! We have bigger problems than your petty arguments. Name calling is not necessary Clan Leader; you are a bigger man than that!'

Roland drew himself up to his full height.

'Agreed' he said apologetically 'I have had a very trying day and am very frustrated that we seem to be getting nowhere with this matter. Also, I am very close to turning which shortens my temper somewhat. I am here because I got a message on my answer machine to come here, that also warned me to trust no-one. Did either of you leave it?

'No' said Vlad looking a little pale at the idea that this imposing creature might turn before his very eyes 'I had no intentions of anyone but myself coming to meet Mike. But how did you know about Kingsteignton?'

Roland felt about in his pocket and handed over the business card.

Vlad went even paler as he stared down at it. After long moments he looked up into Roland's face.

'Do you think Kingsteignton has got Mike?' he asked piteously 'You do know that Kingsteignton is rumoured to feed the old way?'

Roland softened further at Vlad's obviously genuine distress.

'When I checked out the pub,I definitely caught a whiff of Costello downstairs and then found the card on the table. I would say that they have both been here, but maybe at different times?' suggested Roland gently.

'No, he has Mike. I feel it in my bones. We must move heaven and earth to get him back, he has been a good friend to me!'

At that moment, they were suddenly illuminated in headlights as a police car came screaming around a corner and came to an untidy stop. Two officers got out and walked towards the little group. Roland had the sickening realisation that they had been tipped off about his shunt into the Porsche and also that he would not have time to deal with the police and get safely home before he turned. Also, they would probably breathalise him and take blood.

Knowing that to be caught and tested would open a massive can of worms for him and the Clan, he took a massive leap from standing and jumped onto the top of his car. He was outlined against the dark sky for a dramatic second before he took a second longer leap over the adjacent wall and disappeared from view.

The two police officers could not believe what they were seeing, but were even more mystified when they turned back to the two individuals that had been left standing and realised that they had gone. They had disappeared into thin air, without a sound and with no evidence as to which direction they had gone in.

Meanwhile, many, many miles away, in the underground cavern in Romania, the dark, manic laugh was heard once more, and the ancient sacrificial stone table of the Vampire Nations cracked in two.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

How Many Vampires Does It Take To.......

Vlad and the Count came to to find themselves bound together, back to back and firmly gagged, in the soft twilight filtering through the door frame. They had been propped up on the cold, tiled floor of the front hall.

Trying to talk just produced unintelligible grunts and squirming around, trying to move just resulted in them falling over sideways and Vlad bashing his head against the solid oak legs of a side table. Howling with frustration, Count Antonescu eventually took the matter in hand by using his vast height and bulk to stand up and walk into the kitchen, with Vlad strapped, like an infant in a pouch, on his back. The Count pondered between using a knife to try and cut them free or having a go at lighting one of the gas burners and trying to burn through the ropes. Whoever bound them was unfortunately very good at knots and had used good quality, sturdy rope. Even Vlad's weight being supported on his back and his flailing legs did nothing to loosen their bonds.

Help came from an unexpected source. The wine bottle that Mike Costello had been drinking from had somehow been knocked over and smashed on the kitchen table, leaving a sticky trail of red wine dripping down the table leg to form a glutinous pool on the floor. The Count gritted his teeth, leaned over the table and started sawing at one of the bonds against the jagged broken glass. It was a slow and painful process as he had no hand free to steady the glass, so kept cutting himself, and Vlad, who didn't seem to be enjoying being bound to his back and being leaned over sideways, kept kicking him.

Eventually the frayed threads of one of the ropes parted and Antonescu grimly carried on until enough ropes were severed and he could free his hands to deal with the rest. As the final rope parted he pulled the gag out of his mouth and let Vlad fall unceremoniously into the pool of wine on the kitchen floor.

'What did you do that for' choked Vlad as he pulled out his own gag and tried to stand up 'I'm covered in red wine now and will have to change!'

'Serves you right for kicking me so hard' returned Count Antonescu shortly.

'Look here Antonescu, I'm your Leader now, so you can't talk to me like that!' blustered Vlad.

'Then start acting like one and stop whining!' rumbled the Count 'And while you are at it, can you explain this?'

The Count pushed a crumpled piece of paper across the table to Vlad, who blushed as much as a vampire could when he realised it was Mike Costello's note.

'As my leader, you question my loyalty' asked Antonescu threateningly as he leaned over Vlad.

'No, no, you know I would never do that!' pleaded Vlad.

'But you were planning to meet with this human psychic, and listen to him talk of me being untrustworthy. Me an Antonescu; my family has served yours faithfully for seventeen generations!'

Vlad felt that things were getting out of hand.

'Look Count, I think we are getting side tracked here. Don't you think it is rather more important to work out how we ended up bound and unconscious on the hall floor and how Kingsteignton got away?'

'My loyalty has been questioned; nothing is more important!' growled back Antonescu stubbornly 'You were planning to meet with this human psychic, no? One who slurs the honour of an Antonescu?.'

'Look Count, please don't go all medieval on me! My head hurts, I can't think straight and I don't know how any of this happened to us! begged Vlad pleadingly.

The Count's eyes narrowed but his next comment was more conciliatory.

'We will have to work it out and try and get Kingsteignton back' he declared.

'Do we really want him back' asked Vlad a little nervously.

The Count glared at him again through narrowed eyes. 'He now has even more questions to answer, my Leader, was his behaviour just a ruse to lull us into a false sense of security or did he have help? What can you remember?'

Vlad felt that the Count's mocking tone was a little unnecessary, but decided that nothing was to be gained from winding him up even further.

'I remember nothing until I woke on the hall floor bound to you' he replied evenly ' Before that the last thing I can recall is that I was reading the note and saying goodbye to de Cazalrenoux. You don't think he did this, do you?

The Count snort derisively. 'A werewolf overcome two vampires, I don't think so! And why would he? The only thing he is interested in is his missing Clan member.'

'And women' retorted Vlad bitterly 'But I wasn't knocked on the head, so how were we overcome?'

Antonescu frowned. 'I do not know the answer to that either. You seem to value the information you get from this human psychic, so why don't we go and make this rendezvous with Mike Costello anyway? Maybe he can sense something for us? See what his real game is?'

'Well we'll be late and Mike wanted to see me alone' started Vlad fussily until he realised that Antonescu was now glaring at him in a particularly hostile way.

'Oh, all right then' he conceded 'I'll just change my trousers and let's hope the car starts; I haven't used it in six months'.

As they were leaving through the front door five minutes later, both the Vampires failed to notice the now empty gas canister that had rolled under the chaise longue where Kingsteignton had been laying.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wasted Journeys

Roland was glad that he had decided to drive as he drove up to the next Bricklayer’s Arms in Putney. He had had no success in Fitzrovia, Poplar and the City and was beginning to believe that he had been set up. But why? Who would lead him on a wild goose chase all over town like this, and for what reason? He pushed the idea that someone wanted him out of his flat so that they could get at his Clan firmly to the back of his mind. He had called Malvolio and he and Proserpine were fine; having the usual arguments about getting homework done but fine. The block was an especially secure one and Malvolio would defend Proserpine with his life if he was required to.

Roland parked up and wandered through the entrance of the pub into its courtyard garden. Immediately Roland caught a familiar scent and stood smelling the air for a few seconds. His quest might well be over; the human Mike Costello had definitely been here. He could also scent the rank, stale odour of a vampire, but it didn’t seem to be Vladimirescu? He looked around, and could see no sign of Costello or Vlad. There were a couple of groups of hardy humans sitting at the scattered tables in the chilly spring air, but no vampire and no psychic.

He moved into the building and wandered around, even going upstairs and into the gents. The interior of the pub was empty of any identifying scents, except for a brief whiff of Costello at the bar.

‘That young man really should bathe more frequently’ thought Roland testily as he loped back down the stairs. He ignored the inviting looks thrown at him by a group of young women giggling at the bar, who had been attracted to his height, gleaming dark red hair and obviously expensive attire, and strode back into the courtyard. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself by obviously sniffing around, but meandered round the tables until he caught a stronger scent from an abandoned table in the corner.

The table had been fully cleared, but Costello and a vampire had definitely been sitting here. Frustrated that he must have missed the meeting, Roland could have howled but, as he was turning on his heel to leave, he spotted a rectangular white card underneath one of the chairs. He picked it up and turned it over. He scanned the card and his brow furrowed and his canines came sliding down over his bottom lip as he read the words

‘Lord Kingsteignton, 26 Clarence Crescent, Belgravia, London, SW1’

The fools! How had they let Kingsteignton get away? He had been a soiled, drivelling idiot when Roland had left Vladimirescu’s house. On the horns of a dilemma, Roland hurried back to his car. Did he return to Vlad’s house to see if he could find out what had happened to them or go to Kingsteignton’s house in Belgravia? Did he have time to do any more before he turned? He swore as he turned the key in the ignition and was promptly punished for not paying enough attention to what he was doing by backing into the car behind him, which would just happen to be a Porsche, with a resounding thump.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Astonishment of Mike Costello

Mike Costello slammed his pint glass down on the table and consulted his watch for about the fifteenth time. Vlad had always had a hazy notion of time, but this time he was really taking the biscuit. He was short of cash, as usual, and had been relying on Vlad to get the drinks in. He sighed heavily and fished around in his pocket to see if he had enough money for another pint. His search produced a 50p, a 20p and a button. He really needed Vlad to show and get the round in.

He wasn't the nervous type, but for some reason this evening he just felt wired. It was about warm enough for him to sit at a table outside; Vlad didn't deal real well with the flashing lights on the one-armed bandits and felt more at home skulking in the shadows outside. But Costello felt spooked and was jumping at the slightest movement and the loud guffaws of laughter that suddenly floated out of the pub doors.

He had just started investigating the pockets on the front of his shirt to see if he still had a stray fag, when a hand fell heavily onto his shoulder and gave him the fright of his life. Shaking like a leaf and already chiding himself for being soft, he turned his head expecting to see Vlad standing there.

It wasn't Vlad he saw; but the tall elegantly dressed stranger looking down on him was definitely a vampire. It's vibration was just not human and Costello could feel the hairs on the back of his neck start to rise. It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the courtyard garden and that the vampire was standing in a vortex.

'I'm sorry to have startled you' said the stranger in a low, patrician drawl 'You are Michael Patrick Costello, are you not?'

'Depends who's asking' stuttered Costello getting shakily to his feet and backing away as best he could until his back was up against the courtyard wall.

The stranger put his hand into his breast pocket, withdrew a heavily embossed business card with a crest on it and presented it to him.

'Lord Kingsteington, at your service' said the vampire silkily as Costello took hold of the card with suddenly heavy, clumsy fingers.

'May I get you a drink?' the vampire continued 'Your glass appears to be empty and I myself am in need of refreshment'.

Costello gulped nervously as he was well aware of what constituted refreshment for a vampire; he was also shaken to the core at the vampire naming himself as Kingsteignton.

'Thanks' he managed to squeak 'Mine's a pint of bitter'.

'Wouldn't you rather sample some of the superb brandy that they serve in this establishment?' queried Kingsteignton clicking his fingers, and to Costello's total astonishment summoning one of the barstaff instantly to his side at the table.

'Two large brandies and a couple of those Cuban cigars' snapped Kingsteignton premptorily and the barman scurried off to do his bidding.

'Wouldn't you be more comfortable sitting' asked Kingsteignton courteously as he himself sank elegantly down onto one of the vacant seats.

Mike shuffled himself back into his seat, still clutching the business card. He found that he couldn't stop staring into the deep, dark pools that were Kingsteignton's eyes, it felt that he was being spun in a big, warm tub of melted caramel and he was drowning.....

Kingsteignton's laugh shattered the spell and Costello found himself snapping back into full reality.

'You may be a psychic, human, but you can be played just as easily as any of them. Did your friend Vladimirescu not warn you about the glamour of a vampire; about how we can seduce our prey into submission?'

Costello rubbed his eyes with his knuckles to clear them and looked cautiously back at the vampire.

'How do you know about me' he asked belligerently 'And why are you here instead of Vlad; I thought they had gone off to sort you out!'

'Two Romanian vampires and a werewolf? How you do underestimate me, my boy! Let us just say that young Vladimirescu has been regretfully detained this evening, which gives me the chance to spend some time with you and get to know you better'.

The barman came out of the pub and put a round silver tray with a decanter, two glasses, two cigars, a lighter and an ashtray on it down on the table.

Costello suddenly felt his ears buzzing. 'Whatever you do, do not drink from the decanter' came a firm, female voice in his head.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Sun Finally Sets

Roland pulled himself together and started up the steps that led to the entrance to the apartment block. He would definitely have to take a shower now, before he popped in to say goodnight to Malvolio and Proserpine. It was just not vampire that he reeked of now; he knew that Malvolio would instantly pick up the scent that he had been aroused by a woman and the anger and resentment that followed it.

He stepped into the lift, making sure that he was not seen and thankfully let himself into his apartment. He flung open the wide glass doors that led out onto the terrace overlooking the Thames, and then went into the bathroom and turned the shower on to it's hottest setting.

He stood under the stinging hot needles of water for at least twenty minutes, trying to wash away all the grime and accumulated debris of his day. His mind was spinning; who should he trust, whose story should he believe. And always the alluring image of Eunice Batchworth was trying to push it's way to the front of his mind and into his awareness.

He turned off the jets and towelled himself down. After shrugging on a thick navy blue towelling robe, he padded back into his lounge to look over the pile of post he had brought in with him and listen to the messages promised by the winking light on the machine. He poured himself a glass of whisky from the decanter on the side and flung himself down on the sofa to go through the myriad envelopes. One in particular, caught his eye and he fished it out. The envelope was pink and was edged with lavender ribbon. It wafted a strong odour of attar of roses when he turned it over, and written on the back in lavender ink was the name and address of the sender:

Mlle Simone de Grandjean, 14 The Corniche, Monte Carlo.

Roland frowned. He had never heard of anyone by that name before, so how did they know his name and address? He was paranoid about the security of the Clan, and only trusted intimates knew addresses and phone numbers of Clan members.

He was about to rip the envelope open and, hopefully, solve the mystery when the phone rang and his answering machine whirred into action.

'De Cazalrenoux you are being played for a fool. The vampire is meeting his human psychic friend this evening at the Bricklayers Arms. Trust no-one!'

The message was delivered in a gruff, low tone, as though the speaker was talking through a scarf. Roland played back the message several times to see if he could gain more information about who had called. The number used was blocked, and Roland couldn't tell if the caller was male or female, what accent they spoke in, or even if the message had been pre-recorded.

Was the message for real or was he being set up? There were several Bricklayer's Arms in London, if he was to try and intercept the meeting he would probably have to do a mini pub-crawl!

He thought furiously for a few minutes and then decided that action was the best way forward. He sighed heavily and got on his feet to go into his bedroom and dress. As he looked out onto the terrace he could see the sun dipping down over the river in a fiery glow. He was due to turn tonight when the moon rose, so he needed to track Vladimirescu and his psychic chum down swiftly; he could not risk turning in a crowded London pub or on the street!

He had entirely forgotten about the scented pink envelope that had fallen back onto the sofa as he stood up; that now lay discarded on the black leather of the seat cushions.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Roland's Day Deteriorates

Roland entered the vampire's house warily, although his curiosity was piqued and he wanted to know what the inside of a vampire's lair looked like.

As the Count dumped Kingsteignton unceremoniously on a couch in the hall and Vladimirescu picked up some kind of note, began reading and then started muttering to himself, Roland roamed the rooms on the ground floor. All he could see was faded grandeur; peeling wallpaper, fading upholstery and several holes in the carpets. Even the kitchen cabinets and appliances looked like they had come out of a woman's journal of the 1930's. It was a far cry from his ultra-modern, luxurious flat overlooking the river at Shad Thames.

However, he could find no signs of a human male being currently in residence. His ultra-sensitive nose detected that a male in his late twenties, with not particularly good personal hygiene had been there but had left at least an hour ago. An overturned red wine bottle dribbling over the carpet, an emptied glass and a lot of bagel crumbs were further confirmation of the humans presence.

So Vladimirescu had not been lying about him being here, at least. Roland decided that there was no profit in him staying there if the psychic was long gone and returned to where Vlad still stood. He had crumpled the note in his hand and was looking thoughtful.

'Look Vladimirescu, there is no human here, so I am off. Some of us have work to do you know!'

'Oh' said Vlad vaguely 'Yes it seems his plans have changed. I will try and sort something out'.

'What was in that note he left you?' asked Roland curtly.

'Oh, the note wasn't from him; it was from the milkman asking that I pay his account' replied Vlad weakly.

'Don't take me for a fool, Vladimirescu! All I want is to know where my clan member is? Pretending to be as soft in the head as Kingsteignton, cuts no ice with me. Arrange a meeting with this human psychic of yours and let me know'.

Roland turned on his heel and strode out of the house, passing Count Antonescu, who was still trying to get Kingsteignton to lie on the couch, without acknowledgement.

He walked briskly out into the spring sunshine and hailed a cab to take him back to his flat.

What a total waste of an afternoon! He had learned nothing to his advantage and reeked of vampire! He would have a good, long shower when he got back and see if he had had any messages from Sue Fisher.

As he was paying off the cabbie at the main door of the block, he noticed a familiar figure come down the steps, unhook a soft mint green crash helmet from the handlebars of a scooter of the same colour, and start putting it over her glowing, titian curls.

Roland couldn't believe his eyes. What was Eunice Batchworth, that divine goddess of a young witch doing in his apartment block?

He loped over to where she was now climbing onto her scooter in a few strides.

'Hi Eunice! What are you doing here? Were you looking for me?' Roland asked a little breathlessly.

'Oh Roland, Hi. No I was over having a cup of tea with Malvolio and Proserpine. We were talking about what to do for Proserpine's birthday. As you know, it's only a few weeks away.'

'I didn't know that you knew Malvolio and Prosperpine?' he replied carefully.

'Yes, I've known them since Malvolio brought her to The Young Witches Association Christmas Party last year. I often drop by, or we all go out for pizza or something. Anyway, mustn't stop, have got heaps to do!'

With that, Eunice revved up her scooter and shot off down the road.

Roland leaned his hand against the nearest lamppost for support. Was his world really spinning totally out of control? Although he knew that there was no real reason why Malvolio should tell him who he saw and when, Roland had always believed that he knew roughly who his clan consorted with and why. Clan security was paramount and as alpha it was his job to ensure it. But Roland was honest enough to admit to himself that the real reason he felt so shaken was because a bolt of pure jealousy had shot through him the second that Eunice had mentioned Malvolio's name.

He had arrogantly assumed that the beautiful young witch has been seeking him out; and he didn't like the fact that she had been hanging out with his curly -haired, personable young beta one bit. In fact he was amazed at how little he liked it at all!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Uneasy spirits

The spirits lived in every nook and cranny of the house, formed by the energy of those who had lived and died there. These were not the ghosts of those who had departed, but simply echoes and memories that had chosen to remain behind.

Costello would never have claimed any ability to speak to those who had passed over, but could, if he let his mind go free, communicate with these spirits. He was, with the assistance of a glass of aged red wine, doing this in the absence of Vlad and the Count.

Usually this was an enjoyable, illuminating experience for the psychic, but this time he was troubled by the feelings emanating from the building. At first as his mind swam with the spirits, he felt a sense of unease rising through him, after a short time the spirits seemed to be chanting faintly, just at the edge of his hearing so that he was unable to make any sense of it.

The spirits seemed to want to hold him where he was, and at first it was like torture; not to be able to move, nor to awake from this dream-like state. But as the time passed the voices seemed to be getting louder, as they did so Mike was able to make out just one word – and on hearing it he was finally able to break free of the spell.

The single word which had been repeated over and over in a whisper, and then finally barked at Costello, was this:


Finally able to move freely about the living room, Mike made his way to the kitchen, swallowing the remains of the wine in his glass as he did so. The experience had made him feel weak and a little nauseous, so he filled a glass with ice cold water and greedily drank it down. He was a little shaken, but he needed to keep moving around do that he could think.

House spirits, by their natures, were not vindictive, they did not serve an agenda; they simply existed to maintain a presence of those who had been happy in the house. The spirits had no reason to lie and no reason to try and frighten those who communed with them.

Someone, or something, had unsettled the spirits enough to make them send out a warning – Costello was surprised that he had not noticed anything strange himself, but Vampires were notoriously difficult to read especially if they were hiding something. He would need a quiet word with Vlad without the brooding presence of the Count.

In the extreme comfort of the Vampire Lord’s car, Vlad and his lupine companion travelled back from to the house. The Count sat in the seats behind to watch over the gibbering Kingsteignton.

“What do you think he meant by all that – do you think he was serious about a war brewing?” Vlad asked, relaxing back into plush leather seats and fiddling with the many buttons at his disposal.

“Nonsense – he has clearly lost his mind …” Roland began, but Vlad was not about to allow him to follow that train of thought.

“I respectfully disagree, my furry friend,” Vlad paused to allow his insult to have effect and then continued, “No, I have known that wretched money-grabber for well over a century, and he is self composed, single minded and ruthless. Even the prospect of being savaged by you would not have changed that.

“What we saw back there was wide-eyed terror my young friend.” He smiled revealing his fangs and went back to fiddling with the any gadgets that had been fitted by its owner.

Roland bit back his reaction to being referred to as either hairy, or young. He may not have liked the Vampire sitting next to him, or indeed Vampires in general, but if he was to locate his lost clan member then he would have to trust that the human psychic was all that Vladimirescu had claimed.

“Your problems are your own Vladimirescu, I wish only to find Kea so for your sake Mr Costello had better be able to get more out of the mad Lord here then we could.” He barked back.

As he spoke, the car pulled up outside the Vampire’s residence, and the men made their way to the front door, the Count lifting the prone figure of Kingsteignton easily and carrying him up the steps leading to the front door.

Vlad wandered around and called out for his friend, but no answer came. It was then that he noticed on one of the few remaining tables in the drawing room was a folded piece of paper. He opened it and read its contents:

Dear Vlad,

Something is wrong. Your house spirits are uneasy (and please try not laugh, this is serious). We need to speak in private – after dark make your way to the Bricklayers Arms and I will meet you there.

Also, beware the Count. He is not all he seems.


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Decision Time

‘Look this is getting us nowhere’ said Roland, who was finally calming down a bit. ‘He has either finally lost it or is really a very good actor. What do you want to do? I can try the throat ripping out or do you just want to stake him and be done with it?’

‘But then you would never find out anymore about your missing Clan member?’ replied Vlad in a reasonable tone.

‘I have really got to the point where I don’t think that I will ever get anything out of him’ said Roland gazing contemptuously down at Kingsteignton who was by now dribbling and his eyes were spinning round like toy windmills.

‘I have placed an order for some pretty powerful information spells from one of the better witches; so hopefully that will turn up something I can use. I will also get word to the Clans in Eastern Europe and see if they can sniff anything out.’

‘Ah, Sue Fisher!’ opined Antonescu, causing Roland to look at him in surprise.

‘I have an idea’ started Vlad cautiously ‘there is someone at my house who may be able to give you some leads or further information and if we take Kingsteignton back there he might be able to tell us whether he is lying or not; whether there is any truth in this mysterious, powerful being that he is drivelling on about.’

Roland raised his eyebrows in surprise.

‘A psychic vampire?’ he queried ‘I’ve never come across one of those before?’

‘No, a human. His name is Mike Costello’ replied Vlad simply.

To Roland this day was getting more surreal by the minute. Humans, psychic ones at that, in vampire’s houses? A being that was so powerful that a vampire was literally scared shitless by it? The fact that he had spent a whole afternoon in the company of vampires without any stakes being used? And no useful information whatsoever on the location of Kea!

‘Ok, we might as well give it a try’ he answered, surprised at hearing himself agreeing to enter the house of a vampire ‘As long as I’m back by moon rise, I don’t think me turning in your house will help any of us!’

‘No problem, that won’t be until about 11 tonight anyway; Antonescu can you call someone and ask them to bring Kingsteignton’s car around the front. We might as well take advantage of his hi-tech gadgets. Oh and get them to bring some towels while you are at it; no point in ruining the upholstery!’

'Will Costello still be there?' queried Antonescu.

'Definitely; he hasn't drunk the wine cellar dry yet and he there is no way he would leave before he finds out what has gone on here this afternoon. He's got his blog to write you know!'

'Oh that Costello?' asked Roland in surprise 'the one that writes the fantasy fiction blog; I did wonder how he was coming by his information. Lucky for us, the humans all think he is making it up'.

'Some humans don't' replied Antonescu curtly.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Deeper and deeper

Against the far wall of the cave, the figures were cowering in the darkness. The only light source coming from the high-beam torch held by the approaching soldier, dressed in black and bearing a high-powered rifle.

These small, bedraggled looking creatures were not what Corporal Michael Morrison had been told to expect. In briefings back in London he had been warned of large, fierce beasts that would drain a man of blood in mere seconds, and that he would have to shoot on sight if he were to survive this mission.

Morrison, a former marine, had been pleased to find work with a private security company firm based in Russia, and a large part of his new employment would be to protect high profile businessman from attacks from local Vampires. Although it had appeared to him that he had spent most of his time arranging or carrying out assassinations.

He had accepted this new assignment in the caves of the Carpathian mountains just to get away from Moscow, but it was not going well. He had already caused himself a world of trouble simply by failing to stay with his troop, these caves were notorious from when it had been a popular spot for spelunking (or cave diving) – people would simply go missing down here and never seen again. Although he had been led to believe that this was not just people getting lost, but proof that the dark ones were operating in this part of the mountain.

He approached, with caution, leaving go of his rifle and reaching for a specially adapted handgun that was capable of carrying small wooden bullets that would as effective as a stake. Morrison paused – he knew that if he did nothing he might be set upon and killed – but the figures looked so pathetic he could not bring himself to shoot.

He slowly backed away from the group lowering his gun – that was when he felt something touch him gently on the shoulder. He swung around, raising his gun in front of him as he did so, until he was face to face with a tall, gaunt, grey looking Vampire dressed like the others in simple rags.

In a rasping voice the Vampire simply said: “He is returned. Please help us.”

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Lord in Wonderland?

As Vladimirescu and Roland looked at Kingsteignton in amazement, Count Antonescu burst out laughing.

‘Oh well done Kingsteignton! You have missed your calling; you really should have gone on the stage. You almost had me going then, but it’s just another little ruse to save your own miserable skin isn’t it?’

Kingsteignton just gulped and let a tear roll down his cheek.

Vlad turned to the Count and asked him anxiously ‘Do you really think that he’s making it up? He seems pretty upset to me? I’ve never seen or heard of Kingsteignton losing his cool like this before?’

‘Well you’ve never seen him at the pointy end of two stakes and with a werewolf at his throat before’ pointed out the Count reasonably.

Roland was still visibly rippling with anger and frustration, liable to turn at any minute.

‘Look’ he snapped ‘I don’t know what Kingsteignton is drivelling on about and I don’t frankly care! I don’t know why you lot are trying to drag me and my Clan into your internecine spats anyway. All I want is my Clan member back!’

‘How do you know that there really is a missing Clan member?’ asked Vlad ‘It could just be another of Kingsteignton’s lies to stir up trouble?’

Roland thrust the wad of werewolf fur into Vlad’s face.

‘I’d know the scent of one of my Clan anywhere. Kingsteignton gave me this and he implied that he had gotten it from you! That you lot have my Clan member chained up somewhere in one of your miserable Romanian caves!’

Vlad shrank back a bit as Roland was fairly shouting by now. He also stood at well over six feet tall, his canines had sprung long and gleaming out of his gums and tufts of reddish fur were beginning to sprout from the tips of his ears.

‘Well you can take it from me that we haven’t got one of your Clan!’ stated Vlad a little indignantly ‘Why on earth would we? Quite frankly we have enough problems of our own without stirring up more trouble with the Clans! I also find it a bit strange that you never knew that this Clan member existed?’

Roland backed off a bit and surveyed Vlad thoughtfully.

‘How do I know that I can trust you to tell the truth, Vladimirescu?’ he ground out ‘All I have had from your fellow vampire here is spin and obfuscations!’

He whirled around and advanced on Kingsteignton who was still whimpering miserably on his chair.

‘You can drop your little act Kingsteignton and finally get to the truth’ Roland howled in his face ‘And if you don’t I will rip your throat out with my bare fangs. I realise that it won’t kill you; but it will hurt like hell. And when it heals over, as unfortunately your kind heals very rapidly, I will rip it out again and again until I get to the bottom of what is going on here!!!’

‘I have told you what truth I can’ blubbered Kingsteignton pitifully ‘Rip my throat out as many times as you like; it is infinitely preferable to what he would do if I said more!’

Roland gave throat to a full-blooded wolf howl of frustration at that point, rattling the door frames and windows and terrifying the other guests of the club who had been sedately reading the newspapers in the main lounge.

‘You don’t think he’s on drugs do you’ Vlad asked Count Antonescu gesturing in the direction of Kingsteignton from whom now emanated the distinct odour of having soiled himself.

‘No, I think that his Lordship is either a very good actor or has finally lost his mind; it runs in the bloodline you know’ replied the Count gravely.

At his words somewhere in a deep, dank cavern a long way away, a grating noise could be heard, as though a large stone was being pushed slowly aside. All the bats and the scorpions fled when they heard the sound, and so the cavern was empty of all life when the deep, low laughing began.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


The world flew past in a blur; trees that lined the streets seemed to dash with indecent haste away from the car, flashing blue of passing emergency vehicles with the accompanying sounds of the screaming sirens streaked past, as the car pelted towards its destination.

The radio played solid golden oldies, Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones and a DJ occasional burbled away in a transatlantic accent that was a staple of commercial stations a decade before. When the music petered out and before a fresh batch of adverts kicked in, the sound of thudding rain and phut phut of the windscreen wipers could be heard.

They car was making its way through the streets of London towards Pall Mall, the last bastion of gentlemen’s clubs that did not come complete with half naked women, encouraging men of a certain age to gaze upon their assets.

The Warrington Club was one of the lesser known clubs, unlike Whites or the RAC there was no club website, no club tie, and no waiting list for membership. You were either born into the society that were permitted membership or you weren’t – you required a title, vast quantities of money, and you needed to be a member of the Old Kingdom.

The entrance was discreet, and only the presence of a small brass plaque with the name carefully engraved gave any clue to the building’s purpose.

The car doors suddenly opened and two men, dressed identically, and somewhat comically, in hooded top and sunglasses approached the front door with a confident stride.

The two men ignored the impressive, if slightly sombre, décor – plush dark red carpeting and drapes, the large chandeliers that dominated the ceilings, and the rich, dark patterned William Morris wallpaper. They strode along the corridor toward a door marked private and being guarded by a small, rather nervous looking man in a pair of black slacks and dark red blazer marking him out as one of the stewards of the club. He stood quietly by the entrance to this private area of the club gently dabbing his forehead from time to time with a white handkerchief which he would stow in his blazer’s pocket.

If it was not the sight of two men, (one of whom could have claimed kinship with Everest, such were his proportions) then it was the cry of: “Steward, Steward, I need help!” coming from beyond the door that was adding to his increasing state of anxiety. He would not have been pleased to be hoisted by the two men, who appeared to have pulled from rucksacks large, sharp, wooden stakes, and whisked through the door.

The door slammed opened into the middle of a heated debate that was on the verge of boiling over. Tables had been overturned and glass was scattered liberally over the floor. One man, who had seemed quite relieved to see the door of the room being suddenly kicked opened, looked less than pleased by the turn of events, the other turned to face the new arrivals apparently recognising the smaller of the two men instantly.

“Vladimirescu?” asked a frankly startled Roland, he let the panicked figure of Lord Kingsteignton go and threw him causally against the back wall of the room.
“Roland de Cazalrenoux.” He nodded courteously in his direction.
“If you are looking to finish this weasel,” Roland spat, “Then you’ll find there is a queue.”
The Count grumbled at this, but Vlad silenced him with a look.
“These,” he indicated the stakes they were still holding, “are just for insurance, we are just here, like you, for some answers to some questions.”
“I have not finished with him myself – once I have my answers you can do what you like to him” Roland growled back.
“I would suggest that your questions are much the same as ours – concerning a missing werewolf, a kidnapping, and an attempt to wipe out the Romanian Vampires.” He replied calmly – not wishing to further enrage the Werewolf who was already showing small signs that he might turn at any moment.

Seeing that Roland was becoming calmer, Vlad and the Count picked the fallen vampire up and placed him back in his chair.

“Seeing as you were here first, it is only fair that you should begin.” He smile, and turned to the Vampire Lord. “And if you want to live to see the end of this day Kingsteignton, I would suggest a new tactic for you: honesty.”

The once proud and elegant Vampire cowered in his seat, his eyes shifting from Roland to Vlad. He was also aware of the large glowering presence of the battle scarred Count who looked ready to stake him there and then.

“I can’t tell you the truth, I can’t tell you anything” He began in strangulated tones.
“Why not, your Lordship” Roland asked.
“You may as well kill me now – it is nothing compared what I would go through if I say a word.” He said; what looked like tears forming in his eyes. “You don’t know who you are dealing with, any of you. He is back, and if you know what is good for you you’ll run and hide – he’ll bring the mother of all wars with him and I don’t think any of us will survive.”

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Lord Kingsteignton has a bad afternoon!

Lord Kingsteignton, in a state of shock, gazed into Roland’s burning eyes and futilely tried to break the grip he had around his neck. He was beginning to choke and Roland’s throttling was beginning to bruise the pale, milky skin of his long, scrawny neck.
As Kingsteignton was a cold-blooded creature, he could not understand such passion and anger. His own family were merely pawns to be placed in position and used whenever he chose to further his ambitions. He considered his family to be an entirely private matter; he certainly was never seen in public with any of his wives, and his various children were never registered legally and were made to work or were married off as he saw fit. It suited his purposes admirably to be viewed as a single man; conning rich women out of money was one of his main income streams and admitting to several wives and multiple children would not have enhanced his opportunities in this area. The daughter that de Cazalrenoux was referring to had committed the ultimate crime in his eyes; she had fallen in love with one of the ‘Romanian vampire rabble’ and run off with him when she should have been supervising one of his uranium mines deep in the Carpathian mountains. It was his pride that was injured, not any paternal feelings of love and concern.
As far as Kingsteignton was concerned he had to get his daughter back. No one escaped him ever! If he had to tear those mountains apart with his bare hands rock by rock, he would retrieve what was his! Then she would wish she had never been born and as for those brats he had heard she had spawned.... never had the Kingsteignton bloodline been contaminated like this before! Her tainted offspring must be destroyed and all of those lowlife Romanians with them. This must never happen again!
Roland tightened the grip around Kingsteignton’s neck and started shaking him and banging his head against the wall.
“Where did you get that fur!” he growled into Kingsteignton’s ear his long canines perilously close the vulnerable blue arteries throbbing in his neck.
Kingsteignton ignoring Roland’s request just feebly croaked ‘Steward, Steward, I need help!’
This cravenness and refusal to answer merely served to enrage Roland further.
He suddenly pulled Kingsteignton in so that he was merely inches from his face.
‘Have you ever seen a vampire after it has had its throat ripped out by a wolf’ ground out Roland menacingly?
Kingsteignton was trembling from head to foot by this stage. He personally was not a vampire of violence; that’s what he paid other people for. He did not like seeing or being around violence and the truth of it was he was a coward. Feeding was something he did in a clinical, detached fashion with already supine victims, and even then he was careful not to get the blood on his clothes or skin.
‘Steward, Steward’ he tried to call out again, and tried to inch his body towards the bell-pull. What he did manage to achieve, by luck rather than design, was to crash into the side table sending it crashing into the floor; flowers, water, silverware and broken glass flying everywhere.
The noise caused Roland to release his grip slightly, so Kingsteignton was able to turn towards his saviours when the door came crashing open. The welcome look of relief in his has soon faded however, when he realised that the steward was flanked on either side and being held up by Vladimirescu and von Orloc, both of whom were carrying serviceable, sturdy looking stakes in their hands.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

There will be blood...

In the dim and distant past feuds amongst the species that made up the Old Kingdom were commonplace. Like many disputes they tended be focused on boundaries of territories, since they seldom lived cheek by jowl. These were different times though, the human population had grown exponentially in the last few thousand years, and with territory diminished the Old Kingdomers had to learn to share, or move to remote parts to try and remain apart.

The Vampire colonies based in Romania had chosen to move into cave systems carved out of the Carpathian Mountains which ran like a spine down the length of the country and up as far as Slovakia to the west.

Despite this move, and the attempt to isolate themselves from humans, they had found themselves increasingly attacked by some determined men from the surrounding area who thought their presence an abomination.

Over the years this had become fiercer and well organised. The ragbag of angry locals had been replaced by well armed and well informed soldiers whose sole intention was not to run them out of the mountains, but instead to annihilate them.

It seemed laughable to suggest that the remnants of the resistance movement, who had managed to escape, would start fighting on a second front with a Werewolf clan by taking one of its number hostage.

“This is surreal,” Vlad said.
“Maybe so mate, but that was the very thought on his mind.”
“We are all but defeated in the homeland, where would be keeping this female? We barely have homes ourselves. It is only the fact that I have managed to retain the old family home that I have a place to stay.”
“We do not know who is in London at the moment – we all moved so quickly to leave Romania while we could, there has been no means of communicating with each other.” The Count said thoughfully, and then he continued, “There are still Vampires left in the Cave systems, those who chose to live in the darkness permanently. We lost all contact with them over a hundred years ago…who knows what they are capable of.” He ended darkly.
“We can’t be sure that any of them are even left; as you say they have not been seen or head from for a century. It seems unlikely to me that they would have had an opportunity to go out and kidnap a member of the Clan.”

They were known as the ‘dark ones’ or the ‘întuneric’.

Many of them had been from high ranking families from Romania, and when the anti-Vampire policies had began to take hold all over Eastern Europe they had made their way into the caves, got as deep as they could and disappeared. Stories surfaced occasionally about livestock going missing, children living in nearby villages mysteriously vanishing, and it was often thought that it was the întuneric on the prowl.

“We need to find out for sure whether this is true, if it is, then your plan of uniting the Old Kingdom will be doomed before we begin. The Werewolf clans will declare war; the Witches will almost certainly side with them…” Vlad stopped mid-flow. “...and there is only one man who stands to benefit.”

He grew suddenly angry. His canine teeth seemed to lengthen, and his already pale face grew whiter, making his lips look almost crimson. When he turned to face The Count his eyes were on fire.
“Find Lord Kingsteignton, and bring him here….” He growled, several tones lower than his usual voice.

Cringing slightly in one corner was Costello, watching with barely concealed horror, his old friend grow ever more furious. The name Kingsteignton rang a bell with him.

“Er…this Lord Kingsteignton, the Lord Kingsteignton; big cheese in the European Union?” He asked wide-eyed.
“The very same” The Count answered.
“Only the top dog was due to meet with him…in fact should be with him now.”
“Where were they meeting?” Vlad asked quickly, eyes flashing again with fury.
“I don’t know – I got an image of a gentleman’s club….” He blustered.
“All I needed to know. Count, do you fancy coming with me?” He smiled at his companion, baring his fangs that were now very prominent.
The Count smiled, revealing his own pearly white canine teeth, and nodded assent.
“You had better stay here Costello – I intend this to get very ugly.”

Friday, 20 March 2009

Can a vampire tell the truth?

‘Come on Kingsteignton’ asked Roland impatiently after the silence had dragged out for several minutes. ‘It can’t be that hard to tell the truth; break the habit of the centuries and spit it out’.
Kingsteignton got up out of his chair and went and stood by the fire, kicking a smouldering log back into the flames with the tip of his highly polished shoe.
‘I have told you the truth, de Cazalrenoux; I need your help in sorting out the Romanian vampire rabble. I believe that it is to the benefit of all Old Kingdomers that they are brought to heel!’
‘Brought to heel?’ mocked Roland softly. ‘Who crowned you king of the Romanian vampires? I thought that young Vladimirescu was their leader? That he had taken over from Baron von Orloc? Not that he seems to have left London yet! Weren’t you involved somewhere in the staking of his father? And in the unleashing of the death squads?’
Kingsteignton continued to poke at the fire with his toe.
‘You have given me no reason as to why you are trying to destroy your own kind in Romania. If you were really concerned in conserving the Old Kingdom, you would not be participating in their slaughter! This wouldn’t have anything to do with this mysterious daughter of yours would it?’ asked Roland viciously.
Kingsteignton kicked at the fire harder and turned and faced Roland.
‘You seem to have compiled a lot of personal information on me’ he said heavily ‘especially for one who can’t even keep track of all the members of his own clan!’
‘I only have your word on that Kingsteignton; and your word is not something I would even risk the life of a cockroach on’ retorted Roland.
‘But I have proof, my boy’, drawled Kingsteignton. He slid his long elegant hand adorned with a strange heavy gold signet ring into his trouser pocket and pulled out a wad of tawny brown fur.
Roland felt his hackles rise, and he fought hard to not start the change process. Common belief would have it that the werewolves only changed at night during the period of the full moon, whether they wanted to or not. True this was a period of enforced change for them, but all adult werewolves could change at will, and, if they were not careful, spontaneously if they were put under stress or were in grave danger. It was a life skill that young werewolves had to master, and many had gone in to the change at the wrong time and place, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Kingsteignton tossed the wad of fur at Roland, who caught it in one hand and brought it up to his nose.
He sniffed at it delicately, his incredibly sensitive sense of smell teasing out all the different scents and signatures emanating from the fur. He imposed his iron will to stop his hand trembling as a totally new, but very familiar odour entered his nostrils. The scent was that of a very young female werewolf; this was the fur of a previously unknown member of the Clan.
Roland involuntarily growled low in his throat and bared his shining, white canines. He leapt out of his chair and in one swift movement grabbed Kingsteignton by the throat and slammed him against the wall.
‘Tell me where you got this’ he ground out ‘and this time it had better be the truth!’