Chapter 2: Lords of the Vampyres
Not quite the whole story
Shadow finally landed in front of the looming mass that was Castle Drakan. Her landing was certainly not graceful, her wings flapping at an awkward direction. It was quite clear she was fighting with her newly grown wings, attempting to figure out how quickly or slowly to flap them in order to land. She finally touched toes with the ground. It for certain was no elegant landing, it wouldn’t win any awards, but she didn’t fall over this time and that was certainly a good place to start. Now she was able to gaze up upon Castle Drakan as her wings folded behind her back. It was a very old castle, worn down over the years from the lack of concern and the poor care given to it by it’s current caretaker, a man who didn’t particularly care for preserving the castle just as long as he could live within it’s wall. It was still a very majestic and very beautiful sight, with an ancient medieval build and a darkly, but gothic beauty outlining it’s walls. The castle itself was made out of old stone blocks, each one hand-carved and thus each individually plastered stone was different. Shadow knew this castle was made back in the ancient days of Hallowvale, back when the city and it’s surrounding lands were controlled by the majestic angel-like creatures known as the Icyene. However, the Vampyres proved too powerful for the Icyene and eventually, they were forced to surrender. That story used to be a mystery to Shadow and now, now she knew it a trifle too well.
The guards at the door seemed to be completely focused, not even wavering their attention to look at Shadow. These guards were dressed in the latest Vampyric garments and were wielding long weapons with a claw-like point. Shadow couldn’t help but heave a sigh of relief. The guards at the gates of Castle Drakan rotated often and sometimes there would be two rather distracted, but very hostile guards wielding very long, enormous axes. Shadow herself found she never liked those guards, for she knew they slaved away in Vanstrom’s legion of Vampyres, the very legion that were against her existence. She didn’t recognize these guards, but was intelligent enough to realize by their weapon choice that they weren’t Vanstrom’s—they looked more like Lord Drakan’s—and that was enough to bring her somewhat ease of mind.
Upon approached the door, the guards reacted accordingly. The two of them snapped to attention, a furious state of focus which seemed almost paranoid, but Shadow knew that it had to be done. Some of the Vyrewatch were getting a trifle on the touchy side, feeling as if Lord Drakan were spending more time lurking inside his castle and not enough time focusing on their needs. No one knew for a fact what was going on in these rouge creatures’ minds, but Lord Drakan certainly wasn’t taking any chances either. Thus, his guards were always at the peak of attention, and it was nothing new when they lashed their weapons out in an x-shape in front of the door, blocking off Shadow’s entrance. She wasn’t startled; quite the contrary, she was entirely expecting it. “Stop where you are.” the first guard ordered loudly, speaking with a booming voice that echoed in Shadow’s ears.
“State your business.” the second guard added, speaking just as loudly as the first had. “Lord Drakan is a very busy man and doesn’t have time to deal with you rouges complaining about a lack of blood.” Shadow resisted the urge to snarl at the guard, insulted that she was mistaken for one of the rouges. However, she knew being rude to the guards wasn’t the best way to gain access to the castle, so she kept her commentary to herself. “If that’s what you came for, leave now. Otherwise, state your business.”
“I am Shadow, the metaphorically labeled daughter of Lord Lowerniel Vegidiyad Drakan.” she began boldly, making certain not to waver her expression in the slightest to the proud and valiant guards, for she knew is the cracked by even the slightest, they would refuse to believe her words. “I have been called to Castle Drakan by Lord Drakan himself to speak with him. Ranis fetched me, so if you don’t believe my words, you can ask him as well.”
The two guards glared silently upon Shadow and for a moment, she was worried they didn’t believe her words. She didn’t attempt to argue, though, for she knew that would amount to absolutely nothing useful. They turned to one another, muttering words that not even Shadow’s highly trained ears could detect. After a minute or two of muttering with one another, they finally turned back to Shadow, who was trying her hardest to mask her hopeful expression. Eventually, the first guard responded, “Your access is granted, Lady Shadow.” Shadow tilted her head, unsure why he used the title ‘Lady’ when he spoke her name. “Lord Drakan awaits you.”
The two drew their weapons apart, creating a path between them and the door that had otherwise impassable. Before Shadow could even complete a single step, the second guard interrupted her, causing her to glance over into his blazing red eyes as he hissed slightly, “Do not make Lord Drakan wait. Our Lord does not like waiting.” He was acting as if Shadow had never met Lord Drakan before. She knew him, she knew of all it upsides, his quirks… she didn’t know a lot, but she knew far more then some of the other Vampyres did. Nonetheless, she did nothing more then nod gently to the guard as he reached over, opening the large door for her and gesturing her in. She cautiously proceeded through the large, wooden double doors and stopped for a moment as the guards pushed it back shut behind it, the slam echoing through the near-empty halls of Castle Drakan as it was released.
The guards on the inside of the door turned their attention to Shadow as she entered. Guards were usually more nonchalant to people going to opposite direction of which they were guarding the door. If a guard was making certain only specific people went in, he usually didn’t pay much attention to those leaving; likewise, if the guard’s duty was to make certain only those allowed exited, they were usually daily indifferent towards those entering. These guards portrayed that fairly well, for they simply stood there, silent, motionless, gripping their pronged weapons. One nodded silently to Shadow and quietly muttered, “Lord Drakan awaits, my lady.” then fell silent.
For a moment, Shadow felt driven to inquire upon them about the use of the term ‘Lady’ once again. She once more decided against it, figuring someone such as Lord Drakan would explain this to her when the time came. Either that, or she was simply hearing things. Regardless, she preferred acting as if that never happened. The guards didn’t seem too inclined towards nonchalant conversation nonetheless, which was nothing new since they were trying to focus on their jobs as guards, for Lord Drakan was very nit-picky on the degree of their performance.
Shadow knew Castle Drakan nearly top down, or at least, the important locations were at. She knew how to get to all the royal rooms, Ranis’ room, Vanescula’s room, Vanstrom’s room, even Lord Drakan’s room, which just happened to be conveniently close to Vanstrom’s. In fact, the only thing separating Lord Drakan and Vanstrom’s rooms was a single hallway, which was usually blocked off from any and all access by boxes stacked high, placed there purposely to restrict any access. However, Shadow had been in that room before, it was a dining hall, with a kitchen hidden behind it. Since Vampyres didn’t eat, Lord Drakan found it was better if no one went in that room. However, she once entered that room when Lord Drakan opened it for a ‘dinner’ party of the noble family. Shadow was invited so she could meet the noble family and get to know them all. It was a tense situation and an awkward story followed which Shadow would never have enough time to explain. As Shadow ventured the long, quiet halls of Castle Drakan, she found it to be unusually empty, even for the castle. Any Vampyres she did pass generally avoided her, by either turning around, ducking into another room, or lowering their heads when they passed her if they absolutely had to pass by her. The Vampyres in Castle Drakan were always a trifle on the touchy side, some being completely restricted from access to the outside world, so Shadow didn’t pay much heed to their awkward behavior. Her nose twitched slightly as she wandered past one of the rooms, a powerful scent of O type blood wafting into her nostrils. She couldn’t help but stop, glancing into the room. Shadow knew that O type blood was a delicacy on Vampyric terms and thus was rarely fed upon. From what she heard, only the nobles and a select few others commanded by the nobles were permitted to drink that blood. Usually, Vampyres drank O blood when they had something to celebrate about. Shadow was a little startled when she looked into the room and was met with a gaze of extreme hate, vibrating from blood red eyes bearing deeply into her mind. She instantly recognized the darkly figure glaring upon her, adorned in long waving red robes with his unnaturally white hair in a fine mess, as always. Standing in the room was Vanstrom Klause, two of his guards—the ones with the large axes—lurking prominently behind him. Shadow shuddered at Vanstrom’s snarling gaze, the complete hatred flickering in his eyes as he looked upon his pitiful figure. It became unnerving to Shadow and it didn’t take long for her to quickly proceed to leave Vanstrom’s line of sight.
Vanstrom observed quietly as Shadow came into his line of sight, his dark eyes narrowing in on her. He remained ever silent, spiteful thoughts swirling through his mind like a whirlwind until she no longer stood there. Once he was alone, he lowered his head, snarling to himself, then said to one of his guards without turning his head, “When are we to begin the plan?”
“Very soon, my Lord Vanstrom.” replied the guard on the right side, loosing his grip on his axe by just a little, though unaware that he was doing so. “She will be meeting with Lord Drakan, no doubt about her status as a Vyrewatch. We will proceed as soon as she is clear from the castle.”
Upon hearing his guard’s response, Vanstrom looked back upwards. He couldn’t help but smirk to himself for a second. Vanstrom knew for a fact he was no Lord, that was a title bestowed only upon Lord Drakan himself. However, Vanstrom always liked to think about a day where he would rule, a day where Lord Drakan would be running back and forth as nothing more then ‘Drakan’ performing Vanstrom’s will. He imagined that one day there would be a time where Vanstrom’s word was final. Those plans were for later, though. He planned on putting those plans in motion once his problem was finely out of the way. “And you are certain she will leave the castle?” Vanstrom inquired to his guard.
The guard finally realized he was losing his grip on his axe and thus tightened it accordingly. Thereupon he responded to Vanstrom seriously, “Shadow does not feel great comfort within the walls of Castle Drakan. This is am aware of, my lord. She will be outside soon.” Before Vanstrom could add another comment, the guard then decided to continue by adding, “I also overheard she has been given entry into Darkmeyer. The independence in Darkmeyer should make your task a trifle more simplistic.”
With another devious smirk, Vanstrom responded, “Good.” He seemed unaware that he had been interrupted or simply didn’t care enough to comment. He spoke with a creepy, yet elegant voice as he continued. “I imagine my plans will go quite well. I expect only the best from each and every one of you. Do not let me down.” He sat down his empty glass, stained with the deep red of the blood which he had been drinking. “Now come, we’ve got business to attend to.” Vanstrom’s two guards copied him, for they also sat down their drinks alongside his, even if they weren’t finished, and followed him silently as he left the room behind. Vanstrom was smirking to himself all the way out.
Meanwhile, Shadow was on her way to Lord Drakan’s quarters, trying to get over the unnerving feeling left behind from Vanstrom’s dark glare. Those two never liked one another, and the longer Shadow thought about it, the more she realized nothing probably would have changed that. They met each other on bad terms, for one. Shadow had gotten lost in Castle Drakan not too long after Lord Drakan changed her into a Vampyre. She found the signs for the doors and followed them, but someone must have moved the signs, for she found herself skulking outside Vanstrom’s room rather then Lord Drakan’s. Vanstrom struck with extremely violent intentions, and he probably would have maimed her had she not rushed into Lord Drakan’s room. Shadow used to wonder… if she had never met Vanstrom on such bad terms, could they have gotten along? Shadow began to realize as the years passed that the answer was sadly no. Ever since day one Shadow realized Vanstrom had it out for her, and there were some times she wondered if Vanstrom even had it out for her before she became a Vampyre. Was Vanstrom watching her human life… observing her? Did he secretly know she would one day be one of them… was he waiting to strike when that day happened? Regardless, Shadow knew their was no chance for them. Her best choice was to simply avoid Vanstrom altogether.
A couple minutes later, Shadow found herself standing in front of Lord Drakan’s door, gazing thoughtfully upon it. There was nothing outstandingly impressive about the door to Lord Drakan’s office. Fact be it, it looked just like any other door within the walls of Castle Drakan. Shadow gulped slightly, gazing behind her, for she was always worried the Vampyres of the castle were watching her, even though they pretended to avoid her by all means necessary. Shadow could sense a thick degree of discomfort in most of the Vampyres living in the castle. They were unnerved, they were paranoid, and most of all, they were bored.
Shaking any other thoughts out of the depths of her mind, for she knew it would distract her when she spoke to Lord Drakan, she finally reached out her hand, her fingers curved in a most gentle fist, and softly knocked upon the side of the door. It took a moment for anyone to respond, and Shadow was highly considering hazarding another knock upon the side of the door when a deep voice finally answered in an impatient sounding tone, “What is it? I am very busy!”
It had now occurred to Shadow that Lord Drakan was growing rather unforbearing, a trifle hasty in his waiting for his guest to arrive. At first, Shadow wanted to feel bad, then she realized that it wasn’t truly her fault and how unlikely it was that Lord Drakan was actually planning on doing something else soon anyways. He spent his hours locked in his room, organizing papers, reading over reports for the first time despite the fact that he told the other Vampyres he had already read them, or obsessing over a strange stone which Shadow had never seen closely enough to get a description of it. She heard that anyone who saw the stone was dealt with swiftly, thus as much as Shadow would have liked to know more about the stone, she wasn’t keen upon the sound of being swiftly dealt with. Those words weren’t good, that was especially true coming out of Lord Drakan’s mouth.
“It is I, sir, Shadow.” Shadow announced politely, making sure she didn’t say anything to offend Lord Drakan. She was able to get away with certain comments that other Vampyres couldn’t, but even she had to be careful of where to draw the line. Lord Drakan was an easily offended man, given to the fact that his ego was evidently on the large side. Suffice to say, you had to watch every word that came out of your mouth, something Shadow often failed to do once they got deeply into a conversation. “Ranis said you wished to speak with me.”
A short pause engulfed the room. Shadow’s ears flicked as she caught the sound of a drawer opening up. There was a quick but evident clunk and the drawer sounded as if it were rapidly closed once more. After that, Lord Drakan finally called out, “Well, it’s about time! I don’t know who you two think you are making me wait like this.” Shadow resisted the powerful urge to interrupt him in the middle of his sentence before recalling how ill-advised that was. “Ah, but I guess you did arrive. Come in, Shadow, darling. The door’s open.”
That was very typical of Lord Drakan, can’t be bothered to get up and open his door. He would always complain about people barging senselessly into his room, but everyone attempted to remind him that if he would just lock the door, no one would barge in. He had a lock, Shadow of all people should know this best. He just refused to ever use it. He claimed locking the door wouldn’t help anything, but most people were intelligent enough to realize he was a difficult man, and he would lock the door because he knew he would have to actually get up off his lazy rear end to unlock it. Of course, no one was foolish enough to say that directly to Lord Drakan’s face. Telling him this was like signing your own death warrant. Needless to say, it was ill advised.
With a gentle touch, Shadow reached out towards the shimmery doorknob, taking note of how it’s silver surface seemed almost too well polished. Her fingers wrapped awkwardly around it and she almost felt out of place for a moment. Why, Shadow didn’t know. It wasn’t as if this were the first time she had laid fingers on his doorknob, though this was notably the first time she took personal note of just how shiny it truly was. The way she turned it was so very slowly, almost as if she were releasing her nerves and tension onto the door itself, afraid to twist the knob fully and peel the creaky old door open. Light rushed swiftly into the dark room as she opened the door, a clear sign that Lord Drakan had been locked in here for quite a long time. Shadow had to wonder as she opened the door, when was the last time Lord Drakan had actually left the castle? He never informed anyone when he left anymore. When Lord Drakan wanted to leave Castle Drakan or Darkmeyer or even the region of Morytania in general, he seldom made his intentions clear any further. He just left, leaving everyone else under the impression that he was still in Castle Drakan. Sometimes he would return suddenly to everyone’s surprise; where as on other occasions he would leave for a while and fly back into the castle when no one was truly paying attention, making it appear as if he had never left to begin with. Shadow thought it was great that he got out—obsessing over the rock certainly can’t be healthy—but wished that he wouldn’t do so in such a covert manner.
Even before the light reached him, Shadow could see Lord Drakan’s silhouette woven in the darkness of the room, almost unmoving, quite unnatural. The light revealed him to her and she gasped in shock, for Lord Drakan had changed his attire since they last saw each other. He looked almost like a different man. For one, he changed the white streaks in his hair, they were now embedded in a crisscross pattern on the left side of his head, rather then three thick streaks in an orderly fashion. He was now wearing a shirt in a burgundy color, contrary to his old one which was nothing of the sort. He was wearing a rather formal looking black coat, which fit tightly over his skin. I took note that even though his pants were the same color, they no longer had that glowing green bit at the bottom. His shoes looked the same, except for the missing green stripe, but were no longer boots, instead basic shoes. He still had the same cape, which seemed to be one of the only things that he had not changed at all, that same interesting dark red cape with the two dark blue stripes. The other features that remained unchanged were his gloves, which were still clear red, and his pendant, which still glowed a vivid shade of red. However, the most notable bit was the soft blue scarf, which was tied securely around Lord Drakan’s neck.
Shadow was unable to hold back her shock from Lord Drakan’s new attire, and eventually choked out the words against her will, “What did you do to yourself?”
Lord Drakan narrowed his eyes momentarily, as if he were not pleased by Shadow’s question. Lord Drakan didn’t like when his guests spoke before him, but he softened his gaze, for he realized his outlandish new attire must have been attracting some attention. “I do apologize for the attire change. I assure you, only the hair is permanent.” Shadow could only tilt her head uncertainly to the side. “My tailor thought I should own more formal attire. I do promise, this will only be used for events of the utmost importance. I myself do not find this outfit very comforting, nor is it really my style. I would change back, but it seems my tailor took my clothes and I’m waiting for him to return them.”
“Have you ever considered just going to find him?” Shadow inquired, very subtly suggesting that he was lazy and needed to get up. Luckily, he either didn’t notice her insidious commentary or didn’t care enough to react on them, for not even the slightest flicker of anger rushed through him.
“I cannot be bothered to hunt down my tailor.” Lord Drakan replied calmly, folding his fingers between each other as he spoke. “No, he will return when he is quite ready and he will be lucky that I don’t smite him for suggesting I should gallivant around in such ridiculous attire. Now, that is not what I called you for.” She could see the exasperation embedded in Lord Drakan’s face. He truly wanted his old outfit back. Shadow was tempted to offer, but realized she would be rudely changing the topic on Lord Drakan. Thus she decided against it.
Hoping to get Lord Drakan’s mind completely off his outfit, for she could still tell he was secretly thinking about it, she announced, “So, what was it you wanted to speak to me about?” She made sure her voice was prominently loud, hoping to distract Lord Drakan’s mind for a moment.
It appeared to work, as a blank look entered Lord Drakan’s eyes for a fraction of a second, as if he had suddenly forgotten something very important. “Hmm?” he mumbled quietly, seemingly lost in thought. “Oh yes, the reason I called you here.” Lord Drakan seemed to have focused on a new topic, completely forgetting of his current outfit and how much he desired to change back to his regular attire. “Well, I see you’re aware that you are now a Vyrewatch.” Shadow nodded, not wanting to verbally interrupt him. “Though I am upset to find you hide it from me, that feeling seemed to be etched out by a feeling of pride at the speed of which you have evolved. I can say, my dear, you have broken a record or two in your transformation to Vyrewatch.” He lowered his head a little, rhythmically rapping his fingers on the wooden surface of his desk. “Nonetheless, now that you are a Vyrewatch, much will change for you. For one, you now have full access to the city of Darkmeyer. You may come and go as you please. I figure you will find your new title as lady fitting, enough to get you an ounce of respect from the lower tiered Vampyres.” Shadow was glad to know the reason behind all the other Vampyres dubbing her ‘Lady Shadow’ all of the sudden. Lord Drakan must have informed them all before she had been told of this. “Of course, I figure you are aware of what the standards of being a Vyrewatch are, so do make sure not to let me down. The humans see fear in your kind and if you play your cards properly, they will come to fear the very sound of your name.” For some reason, that sentence caused Shadow to think about Vanstrom. “As of today, you are now an official member of the noble family and thus have some will over lower tier Vampyres. Do not abuse this, however.” Shadow could almost see the thoughts scrawling through his mind as he attempted to organize through the mess of them, the whole lot. He wanted to make sure he covered everything now, so he wouldn’t have to foolishly call her back later in order to add on a detail that he had forgotten. “Ah yes, I shall present you with a high tiered Vampyric weapon, you may choose whether or not to wield it. Though if you choose not to, must I remind you that there will be times when it will be required to be wielded over your other weapon choice.”
Shadow gazed quietly to the side as Lord Drakan motioned across the room with a single hand, pointing to a weapon leaning against the wall, carefully positioned so it would not collapse. It was one of those awkward pronged weapons, the ones that were shaped like an animal’s claws. She looked the weapon over, noticing there was also a capsule attached at the bottom, which was met with a thin needle. It didn’t take Shadow long to realize what that was meant for, of course, as it was quite obviously a more careful and organized means of draining and collecting blood.
Lord Drakan nonchalantly nudged his head in the weapon’s general direction, motioning for Shadow to take it. It took her a moment, but she finally wandered across the dark reaches of Lord Drakan’s room, cautiously taking claim of the awkward weapon. It didn’t quite feel right in her grip. It felt a bit too large, a trifle too heavy, and she decided at that exact moment that was interesting as the weapon was, she was going to stick with her purple tipped spear. Nonetheless, she remained indifferent expression wise about the weapon, turning back to Lord Drakan.
Upon realizing Shadow’s eyes were once again upon him, gazing with that interesting curiosity they prominently flickered with, Lord Drakan finished his train of thought, announcing once more, “Alright, well, the last thing I would like to inform you of is that you now have a Juvinate working under you. I am working on finding a second on as well, but Vampyres aren’t as high in numbers as they used to be and I have to locate one who is not busy with other work.” Shadow had never had someone toiling away under her before; she was actually quite interested in that factor. “His name is Arik Weston, very qualified young man. He should serve you well. He should be waiting in the feeding chamber for you, so don’t forget to visit him.” He fell silent for a moment, as if making certain he had explaining everything that was on his mind. “Well, that’s all I’ve got for you. So be off, then!”
Shadow politely bowed for Lord Drakan, which she did often for him to show respect towards him. To be completely honest, Shadow felt rather happy that Lord Drakan had not turned this into a lengthy debate, for she was not interested in getting into an argument with him. “Thank you, my lord.” she thanked graciously.
“Oh yes, Shadow, darling!” Lord Drakan called to Shadow as she turned on her heel. This caused her to glance over her shoulder, looking into his eyes curiously, wondering what else he could want from her. “There was one more thing I wanted to tell you. Malak will need you to visit him in Canifis. As a Vampyre of Vyrewatch rank, you are required to renew the blood sample collected from you. Vyrewatch blood is prominently different from Juvinate and Juvenile blood.” He smiled, a look that sent chills racing down Shadow’s spine. “I would do so myself, but I’m not a blood expert. Anyways, keeping lists of Vampyric blood samples is Malak’s job. I just check them for accuracy.”
Shadow inwardly shuddered at the thought of having to give another sample of blood to Malak. Sometimes, Shadow would wonder what the true reason was for Malak taking such an interesting position upon himself, for she knew he himself had chosen to take the position, not had it placed upon him. She knew Malak had an obsession towards feasting on blood. He was always looking for new blood to drink. It was quite the disturbing event to stand in Malak’s presence when he was evaluating the taste of blood. He sounded much like a connoisseur, trying a new dish for the first time; suffice to say, the intricate way he evaluated the blood’s flavor was disturbing for a creature that did not feed upon blood to listen to. It was even a trifle awkward in the eyes of some other Vampyres too. It was unnatural, even for Vampyric standards. Sometimes Shadow would wonder, when he took blood samples for listing—Vampyres were required to give up a little bit of blood, which would be documented by Malak as apparently some means of keeping track of the Vampyres and making certain they didn’t betray the race or act wrongly, for all blood is very different—if he ever fed upon them. It wouldn’t shock Shadow for Malak to do such a thing as he, of all creatures, seemed to be most interest in the flavours of blood. Was it too much to assume that he secretly tasted the blood of his own kind? Shadow had to remember that he was the fool who tried to feed on the blood of the afflicted, those brainless, zombie-like creatures aimlessly wandering the wastes of the town of Mort’ton. It didn’t seem that outlandish that Malak may possibly feed on Vampyric blood. However, since the thought of Malak drinking her blood frightened her, she decided not to think about it any longer.
First things were first, though, Shadow had to locate this Juvinate she was supposed to be meeting. She had never met Arik before and didn’t want to make a bad impression. For even if the man was bound to serve her, she would rather he serve with pleasure, not by force. Thus, Shadow made haste to the feeding chamber, which had recently been relocated downstairs so the younger Vampyres wouldn’t attempt to mingle with the higher ranked ones, mostly the nobles. She could hear her boots echoing off the stairs as she trotted cheerfully down.
Upon arriving, Shadow was shocked to see the chamber was fairly empty. Usually there were quite a few Vampyres lurking down there, feeding upon the fresh blood which was commonly brought in for them. Today, however, only four Vampyres dared to lurk down in the chamber. Shadow thought for a moment that it may be because of her, that they knew she was going to be going down there and all decided to avoid it accordingly. However, Shadow began to realize how silly that sounded. She nearly laughed aloud at the thought of Vampyres suddenly avoiding her for little to no apparent reason. Vampyres of Castle Drakan were always touchy, she had noted this once before. It was very unlikely to be her presence in particular that was startling the Vampyres away, but… it seemed awkward, nonetheless. Shadow remembered the bizarre way they dodged her, avoiding her presence in the hallway. She couldn’t help but remember that strange reaction and it made her strongly consider for a minute that it might be her startling them.
Of the four Vampyres in the room, three of them were Juvinates and one was a Vyrewatch. The Vyrewatch was standing somewhat near the entrance, stalking close to a newly stocked barrel of B type blood. His eyes narrowed in on Shadow upon her entrance into the room, almost as if he were guarding the barrel of blood and wanted to make absolute certain she went nowhere near his precious blood. His eyes further narrowed upon her small figure in the doorway and he greedily lowered his head down to his glass, sipping the blood with an avaricious glint in his eye. Shadow had to admit to herself, he was a very uncomfortable Vampyre to be around and his very existence made her feel a little ill at ease, to say the least. There seemed to be lust in his eyes, an expression that was not something she liked to receive from a Vyrewatch of his size. As for the three Juvinates, they were crowded around an older barrel of AB+, chatting in silent, but cheerful tones amongst one another. They didn’t appear to mind the hateful Vyrewatch hoarding his precious B type blood in the corner nor did they initially seem to notice Shadow was waiting behind them. They were attached to their blood, despite it’s older age. Shadow could hear their idle conversation, but couldn’t make any sense of what it was the three of them were rambling on about over there.
Shadow had to wonder, which of those three were hers? Which of those three men would be working under her? On the right side of the group was a man of average height dressed in a long, navy blue shirt, which was thrown over his dark grey pants. The shirt had a tall spiked collar rising from it, which mostly covered his otherwise hairless head. He was wearing small, dull brown shoes. Some of the oldest Vampyres in the order dressed like this still, usually those which had been unable to rank up for a while, though not always. Whereas on the group’s left side was the smallest of the group. His hair was short and red, red hair being something rare amongst Vampyres. He was dressed in an awkwardly bright white suit, something that would stick out a bit too boldly in a crowd. Shadow spotted a red bow tie clearly on him, which eerily matched with the burgundy shirt he was wearing under his suit. He was wearing thin silver colored gloves. It was shocking for Shadow to see he wasn’t wearing any shoes. He stood awkwardly on the tips of his toes, seemingly completely comfortable with the fact that he wasn’t wearing any shoes, which stood out from the group. In the middle of the three was the tallest man in the group. To her, he stood out the most. His clothing was much more flamboyant, yet elegant, then the others. He was dressed in a dull black outfit with a long thick red scarf bunched inside it, sort of like the one Lord Drakan had been wearing earlier. He was wearing pants of an awkwardly dark shade of red, which were pushed into his tall, black, heeled boots. His boots were held together by three straps rather then being zipped up or just slipped on. He wore a short, narrow purple cape. His hair was a soothing black and was combed back against his head. Shadow noticed that middle of the group had the symbol of the House of Drakan on his belt whereas the other two wore it strung around their necks as a necklace, instead. Shadow coughed subtly at the group, catching the attention of the man on the right.
The man on the right turned back to his friends. Shadow just happened to notice the man on the left throw Shadow a quick glance before turning back to his other friends. The only one who took absolutely no notice of her was the man in the middle, who seemed a bit too enthralled in his drink. “Hey, Arik!” the man on the right called. This made it clear he wasn’t the one. However, which one was then one, then? “Your Vyrewatch is here!”
The short man couldn’t help but glance curiously once more over his shoulder, seemingly a trifle on the timid side. “Hmm?” asked one, though Shadow was unable to tell which of the two spoke. The tallest man turned around, taking a glance towards the door. A spark of realization lit up in his otherwise emotionless eyes and Shadow soon realized he must have been the one that would work for her. “Ah, you’re right. Hey, I’ll see you guys later. I’ve got a job to do.”
The man on the right smiled at Arik, an understanding expression on his face. “No, it’s alright. I understand completely.” Arik’s ears flicked twice as his friend held on to his shoulder, adding, “Far as I’m concerned, it’s an honor to be bestowed the right to work under a Vyrewatch.” With a grin, he also added, “And a Vyrelady, nonetheless.”
Arik glared at his friend, attempting, but failing, to hide the expression from Shadow. “Not in front of the lady.” Arik hissed quietly, shaking his friend out hoping it would rattle some sense into his little skull. “You’ve got to show some respect to the higher ups. Go flirt with your shoe or something.” Shadow could barely stifle a giggle at Arik’s response to his friend’s reaction towards her.
“Oh, now that was harsh.” his friend responded. However, the smile on the face of the smallest member of the trio showed that there was a mutual agreement that Arik’s joke was humorous. “Oh but, go, go ahead. I’m sure you’ve got far more important things to do then stand here and insult my shoe.”
Without another word to his two odd friends, not that Arik was anywhere near normal himself, Arik turned away from his two companions, walking at a moderate, but acceptable speed towards Shadow. He stopped in front of her, delivering her a polite bow before she could so much as even catch a breath of air, not that she needed it. “Greetings my lady.” Arik courteously greeted her as he completed his bow. “My name is Arik Weston; you may call me by whatever pleases you most. I am here to service you in whatever way I possibly can. I will be available for you at any hour of the day, so don’t feel shy to call me whenever you need something. Whether it’s of true importance or you simply can’t be bothered, I will perform your task with honor. I can also travel with you through Morytania as a bodyguard, should you ever feel like you need one, or if you simply desire companionship. Remember my lady, I will fight to the death to protect you and will be proud to do so. Don’t ever feel like a task is too difficult for me. I only wish to please you.”
To Shadow, that speak sounded extremely rehearsed. Whether or not it actually was remained to be known, but regardless, he spoke it well. He sounded so much more different now from the Arik she had just witnessed not a minute ago. Back those few moments ago, he seemed so carefree, so happy-go-lucky, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Now, he sounded serious, like that joy and happiness had been carelessly brushed aside and replaced with a powerful sense of duty. It was a trifle awkward, since she had seen Arik how he truly was, but she also had to remind herself how seriously the Vampyre Juvinates took their jobs, not too mention how fine of pieces Lord Drakan would shred them into if they failed to perform to satisfactory standards.
“Thank you, Arik. I am sure you will perform quite finely.” Shadow reassured him with a comforting smile. Most of the Vyrewatch didn’t notice it, for it had been quite a while since they themselves had last been Juvinates, but Shadow knew from spending mass time near them that they were always worried about not performing to the adequate standards set by their masters. They were always petrified of being reported to Lord Drakan as failures and what would result from such a report. So Shadow knew how comforting such simple words could be to the Juvinates. Arik didn’t verbally respond, but his miniscule smile said enough for Shadow to know she had down well in comforting him.
Shadow quickly turned aside, rushing up the stairs at twice the speed at which she had proceeded down them. She wasn’t bothered by Arik’s friends, they seemed like fine young Vampyres, it was that Vyrewatch skulking near the door that was causing her paranoia. She felt as if the quicker she removed herself from that room, the better. Naturally, Arik followed at her heels, deciding to stay close by her side until she ordered otherwise. Shadow stopped for a fraction of a moment near the top of the stairs, barely leaving any room for Arik to squeeze through without bumping into her. She wouldn’t have minded, but she knew for a fact Arik would’ve overreacted had he so much as nudged into her. She brushed her hair to the side slightly as she stopped, nearly knocking over that enormous, heavy weapon Lord Drakan had given her to drag around senselessly.
It was then Shadow suddenly realized she had no reason to lug around such a pointlessly irksome objects, as she clearly didn’t plan on using it. She turned to Arik, who was attempting to tighten his scarf as it had loosened a trifle upon his ascend up the stairs. To be technical, he was not watching Shadow, but the second so much as a huff of air was releases from her mouth, his head quickly turned to face Shadow, seeing if she needed anything. “Excuse me, Arik?” Shadow inquired, even though she knew she didn’t need to ask. However, she didn’t feel right straight up demanding something out of his, for she was too nice towards her kind to do that, so she remained gentle and soft spoken. “Could you possibly find somewhere to stash this where it won’t be in my way, or taken by other Vampyres?” She held out the awkward weapon towards Arik as she spoke. “I find it a bit too large for my liking. I would much rather continue to use my spear, not that I don’t like this thing.” She eventually realized she was not speaking to Lord Drakan and thus didn’t need to pretend she liked a weapon she didn’t really take fancy in.
Arik took the weapon off Shadow’s hands before she even explained her reason for disliking it so. She could quite literally feel a whole weight being lifted off her fingertips as he accepted the strange weapon. He didn’t appear at all shocked by the size or weight of it, possibly because this was not the first time he had carried one of these around for a Vyrewatch. Shadow could only assume this, however, for she was clearly not Arik nor had she ever been forced to perform any of the tasks he had probably performed many a thousand times in his life. “I shall find somewhere to place this weapon where it will not be of inconvenience.” Arik kindly said to his master.
“Oh, and Arik?” Shadow once more turned her attention to her Vampyre servant, who only seemed more then eager to service her in any way possible. She could see that eager look in his eyes; this job meant more to him then she could have ever imagined. “I will be traveling to Canifis to get my blood sample renewed with Malak. I do not require your presence on this journey, sadly. So I will be advising you to remain here at Castle Drakan with your friends until my return. Do enjoy yourself.”
“My lady, you need not advise.” Arik kindly returned, making certain Shadow was aware that he was hers to boss around with wild abandon. He did care not whether Shadow wanted to boss him around or show kindness to him. He simply wanted her to be aware that she did not need to be overly polite towards him, that he would be fine with a more demanding tone of voice. However, Shadow refused to condone such actions towards one who looked up to her so eagerly. She saw the hateful way Vanstrom bossed other Vampyres around and refused to become anything like them. “I am at your service, as always. If you desire something of me, just tell me, do not advise me. Nonetheless, if that’s how you feel, then I shall remain at the castle. I wish you a safe journey. Do return well. I will be waiting.” Arik gazed at Shadow for a second or two further before finally wandering off, once he was certain there was nothing more she desired. Shadow still didn’t care. Whatever he said, she would not boss him around as if he were worthless, because he was not.
Shadow observed with an ever silent gaze as Arik made haste to perform the task he was given. For a moment, Shadow smiled, but quickly changed to a more nonchalant expression, not wanting to appear as if she enjoyed the work she made him do. Sure, she liked that she had someone to do the little annoying things for her, but as she had mentioned before, she was insistent on making a good impression on Arik and this was not done by ordering him around like a puppy at the annual dog show, grinning in amusement as her performed trick after petty trick. She wondered for a moment if it would have been a better idea to ask him to join her on her trip to Canifis, if it would’ve been a positive experience for him. Suddenly, she began to feel a trifle bad about such a hasty decision. Attempting to throw away such feelings from her mind, for she knew they would only serve to distract her further, she quickly proceeded to usher herself from the castle. She approached the door guards swiftly, figuring they would attempt to block her exit wanting to know why she was leaving, as the guards usually do. Suffice to say, it was quite a surprise to her when the guards rushed to push the doors open and quickly step aside so she could pass. Shadow thought that perhaps Lord Drakan had informed them of her leaving, for never before had she seen the guards act so innocent about a body passing through the doors of Castle Drakan. Far as she was concerned, Lord Drakan already informing the guards of her departure from the castle seemed to be the only rational explanation to why they opened the doors for her without even giving her a second glance. This was at least what she thought, for that was the only half rational explanation her simple thinking mind could come up with, but unbeknown to her, that was not at all the truth.
Outside, hidden deep in the gloom and dusk of the looming Castle Drakan were three darkened silhouettes, blotted out from most peering eyes by the cascading darkness of the nearby terrain and scenery. Even Shadow failed to notice the three shapes as she hustled herself out the door, rushing down the streets with extreme haste. The three heads turned in perfect harmony to observe her as she promptly trudged past the malevolent group. It was a little eerie, suffice to say, and had Shadow seen such an occurrence, it probably would’ve offset her more then the Vyrewatch hoarding the barrel of blood within the bowels of the feeding room.
The head of the group lowered his gaze by a little, remaining silent outwardly, but releasing with him an aura of impatience, one that repeatedly asked the same unforbearing inquiry. One of the people in the group spoke up, one of the figures standing behind the main person. “You see, my Lord Vanstrom?” the guard rhetorically inquired, Vanstrom glancing up ever so slightly as he spoke. “The guards have given Shadow absolutely no trouble with leaving, as I told them that you had given her immediate departure from the castle. The plan is going exactly as you detailed it. There should be no major delays for us” Though this was true, the guard knew it was a rather stretched truth.
However, you could never hide even the slightest detail from Vanstrom. If you hide the slightest secret or told the slightest lie to Vanstrom, his mind would detect it almost instantly. His ears would flick a single time, then once more and just that would show, he knew, he knew you were lying. The guard spotted the initial ear flick, but failed to take notice of the second one. He was quickly informed of what he failed to notice, though, when Vanstrom spoke a bit more prominently and demanded, “That is not the entire story. What went wrong?”
Vanstrom’s guard inwardly flinched, snarling in irritation to himself. He was secretly hoping that Vanstrom would not ask too many questions, for he truly hated explaining inconveniences to a savage and ill-tempered man such as Vanstrom. “Nothing can be hidden from you, can it, my lord?” Vanstrom did not acknowledge this question. The guard, feeling a little anxious that Vanstrom didn’t respond to his simple, innocent humor, gulped slightly, making sure Vanstrom took absolutely no notice of this reaction, for he would yell at the poor guard for being weak if he did. “Well, you see, Shadow is traveling to Canifis to renew her blood sample with Malak. She’s decided not to take her servant, which will make the troublesome delay a little less… troublesome. However, we’ll have to wait until after she renews the blood sample, for initiating the plan earlier would only run the risk of it being noticed, as Shadow was already entirely aware that she had to arrive for the event.”
Vanstrom pursed his lips slightly, attempting to decide whether or not this was a huge ordeal and withal, what he should do to his guard—even though this was clearly not his fault—to punish him for such an event. To the luck of the guard, however, Vanstrom decided this was no major difficulty and thus not worthy distressing over. “That’s quite fine.” Vanstrom finally answered, to the alleviation of his guard. “That shouldn’t change too much. We’ll simply await her return to Darkmeyer and act thereupon. Come men, let’s be on our way.” The two guards said nothing—though one of the guards never much of anything anyways—as they trailed their master.
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