Saturday, 14 March 2009

Once more into the morgue....

Roland followed the steward down numerous dim, thickly-carpeted corridors, until at last he was ushered into a small, opulently furnished roon heated by a log fire crackling in the grate.

The tall, grey-haired figure, who had been reading the Times, stood courteously to greet him.

'Thank you for coming, de Cazalrenoux' he said in his dark, smooth tones 'I wasn't entirely sure that you would show?'

Roland took the cold, well-manicured, marble-smooth hand that was offered him and shook it briefly. It was like grabbing hold of an icicle and sent a shudder into the depths of his soul.

'I am a man of my word, Kingsteignton' replied Roland warily 'But I still remain unconvinced that you have anything that I could possibly want!'

'Now, my boy, put your hackles down and sit down here by the fire. Steward, please bring a bottle of cognac and a platter of cheese for Monsieur de Cazalrenoux, and another glass of the 'er claret for myself'.

The steward softly padded out of the room. Roland sat himself down in the proffered chair and glanced at Kingsteignton's glass. If it wasn't pigs blood, he was Groucho Marx! Well he hoped it was pigs blood; in this neo-gothic monstrosity of a 'gentleman's club' anything was possible.

His attention was brought back by Kingsteignton beginning to talk again.

'Now, I know that you have some strange, liberal views when it comes to the humans; but unlike some Old Kingdomers, I believe that you are a creature of the 21st century!'

'Hardly, Kingsteignton, I was born in 1742' retorted Roland.

Kingsteignton glared at him, but kept his temper on a tight rein.

'You know what I mean, de Cazalrenoux! You run a modern company and live a modern lifestyle.'

'In some respects yes, but in many respects I still adhere to the old traditional ways. But you didn't come all this way to debate on traditionalism versus modernism?'.

'No I did not. I came all this way to ask you what you intend to do to help me with the Romanian vampire question?'

Roland blinked in amazement.

'I don't intend to do anything. What has it got to do with either the Clan or myself personally?'

'They are going to ruin everything!' snorted Kingsteignton thumping his fist down on a small walnut side table, 'So of course it's something to do with you!'

'Ruin what? You are talking in riddles Kingsteignton?' queried Roland.

Kingsteignton sighed and met Roland's amber gaze squarely.

'As you are probably well aware, I have worked long and hard, and pulled many EU strings, to develop my uranium mining interests in the Carpathian mountains, for the good of all Old Kingdomers. Things were progressing well, until the Romanian vampire rabble decided that the mining was destroying their home cave systems and that the mining operations were polluting their environment. Apparently they don't like their humans radio-active!'

'All total piffle of course, but they have gone back to their rioting and looting bad old ways, and I have had to get the authorities to intervene. After all the years I have put in, we cannot allow some reactionary Old Kingdomers who are still stuck firmly in the 14th century to drag the rest of us through the mud!'

'The rest of us!' mocked Roland gently. 'Since when did any of your business enterprises benefit anyone except yourself, Kingsteignton? Or have you set up a Foundation for Distressed Old Kingdomers that I did not know about?'

Kingsteignton flushed as much as his waxy countenance would allow.

'All my business enterprises are run only with the intention to prove to the humans that Old Kingdom races are civilised and rational and can operate in their world safely - I will save the Old Kingdom races from extinction' he said stiffly.

Roland surprised them both by laughing.

'Drop the act Kingsteignton, if you want my help you are going to have to be honest with me. What is your real problem, what do you really want from me and why?.

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