The investigation was a success.
Preston sent me the information that Park retrieved from the Pastor’s phone, and it piqued my interest. I was inside my coffin when I heard the message tone that played church bells ringing, so I opened the coffin lid and looked at my phone.
After entering my slide passcode, I saw pictures of the Pastor and his blasted guildspawn doing all sorts of activities, like playing frisbee at the park, plumbing seminars, and recruitment campaigns. I’ve heard a lot about the Guild’s recruitment campaigns, but there was something off in the photos. The blasted Pastor’s medallion was giving off a dark glow in every one of them. And in every damned photo, there was always at least one brutish plumber that doesn’t seem human.
I need to get the Pastor’s medallion. It might be one of the keys to unlocking another part of myself. I’ve recovered plenty of fragments since I turned, and with every touch, I regain a certain memory. When I recently stole the late 18th-century painting of Maximo Gutierrez called Pax et Bellum, I regained my memory of dying in a forest during the Lutecean-Windenburger War of the Candles in 1835. What exactly happened before and after that, I do not know.
I need to know more.
It is like opening a part of a book that you want to read, but many of the pages are torn out.
Other vampires recall their life before turning, except me. When I recover those memories, I shall feel whole.
Nothing will stop me from collecting those fragments, even if it takes centuries of stealing art and antiques.
I close my phone and take a look at my coffin, which is one of the most comfortable ones I’ve had. I recall my first coffin being made of plain wood. The coffin I have now is made of premium materials, but it is immobile. I have a portable one tucked away in storage just in case. I then look at the plaque I’ve placed above my resting place, and it reads, “Here lies Dr. Domingo de Guzman, Second Paragon of Windenburg. Requiescat in Pace.”
This plaque was the very first thing I found after I turned. I couldn’t remember my real name at that time, so I took the name on it as my own. I also took the nearby greatcoat that was abandoned next to it. And then I started taking more things until I created the art smuggling syndicate that I created today.
I stop reminiscing as the alarm clock by my coffin buzzes, telling me that it’s already evening. My minions must already be waiting for me upstairs.
I exit my inner sanctum and find Preston fiddling around with the computer. He’s playing that damn game with the chickens again. I should really consider limiting Internet use around the hideout.
“Preston!” I call my incompetent minion as he turns his head.
“Yes, Doc! Good evening!”
“Have you sent Park to the bedroom upstairs?”
“Yes, Doc. I let him in earlier.” Preston said as he kept making quick glances at the monitor, as if he isn’t able to pause whatever he’s doing. He repeatedly clicks the mouse as a whimsical tune plays, indicating that he has, in his own words, “gained a level.”
“Very well, I shall talk to him now.” I say as I go up the metal stairs leading to the bedroom, letting Preston enjoy his game.
I find Park with his head looking down on the floor. Is he in a foul mood? I don’t even sense it. Heck, I can’t even tell. As I close the door, he immediately snaps to attention and greets me in Koguryeon.
“Good evening, Mr. Park.” I greet back in Koguryeon. “I believe you have much to report.”
“Yes, Doctor. We had an encounter with the Guild, but the Pastor got away. The medallion seems to be the thing you’re looking for. Oh, and Presto was able to fight!”
I nod in order to acknowledge his report, but one thing sounded off. “Don’t joke with me, Park. Preston cannot even defeat a chicken let alone a madman pastor.”
“But Doctor, I really did see him fight. Brought out his sword and almost defeated the Pastor.” Park insisted, but I really can’t believe him until I see Preston actually fight by himself. The last time Preston and I were in a serious fight, he couldn’t even land a dent on the guildspawn. I had to do all the work.
“If you insist that Preston was able to defeat the Pastor, you must be making things up because the fact remains that he escaped. I do commend you for pilfering his phone at least.” I tell Park as he gives a resigned look and nods his head.
“You may now resume your regular duties around the hideout. I have a meeting to attend tonight.” I continue.
“A meeting, Doctor?”
“Ah, yes. I haven’t told you yet.” I suddenly remember only telling Preston but not Park. “The Newcrest Vampires Association will be having a Gathering somewhere in West Newcrest. It is my duty as the Archon of our House to attend.”
Park just nods as if he wants to let me speak more.
“It is the perfect opportunity for me to appeal to the Grand Archon to ask for help in destroying Westfall and his band of guildspawn.” Upon saying the title of Grand Archon, I cringe a bit, remembering the old windbag’s eccentric personality.
“I hope we get help.”
“We should get help. Westfall is threatening all of the vampires in Newcrest and not just the ones in this part of town.” I then tell myself inside my head that there is a low chance of getting help, provided that many of the Archons at the Gathering are more concerned with the affairs of their own Houses. And I’m not exactly the most influential member of the Association.
I finally send Park downstairs and go into my wardrobe to pick out my best Diaboli suit, which also looks like the one I am already wearing. The Archons at the Gathering love to show off what they wear, especially my flamboyant old friend, Don Salazar. I suddenly remember one of the cocky Archons named Rodrigo Valmonte: a bumbling show-off who only seems to be good at dancing a Czardas. He will most likely be present later as well, unfortunately.
As I open my closet and look for the right suit, I decide on wearing the very first Diaboli that I wore ages ago. It’s still in great condition, and that’s the reward of proper suit maintenance.
After taking a shower and wearing the suit, I go downstairs to find Antonio ready to drive me to the Gathering.
“Is the car ready?” I ask Antonio as I get down from the last step.
“Engine’s already running, Doctor.”
“This will be your first time to attend a Gathering.” I inform Antonio. “Have you mentally prepared yourself?”
“I’m always ready, Doctor.”
“Excellent.” I reply and then tell Preston who is still at the computer to stop playing and look after the hideout. I didn’t want to get angry because I want to arrive at the venue in a good mood.
I get into the brand new Toyotomi coupe that we got a few days ago, and we head towards West Newcrest.
“It’s great that you were able to get this new car so quickly, Doctor.” Antonio says as we stop at an intersection with a red light. “How were you able to get it so fast?”
“Connections, my dear student.” I tell the young man. “Connections will always be more powerful than knowledge in today’s wretched world.” I say as I look at my phone, watching the video I took of a local car salesman who hasn’t paid us his debt, pleading for his insignificant life as he was reduced to wearing heart print boxers. It was funny watching him beg on the floor as he pissed his shorts in fear.
“Did that man give–”
“It’s called a tribute, Tonio.” I interrupt as the light turns green. “In exchange for his life, he gave us this brand new car.”
It only took us twenty more minutes to reach our destination: Eterna Memorial Park. Parking near the other vehicles of the attendees, Antonio and I enter the white mausoleum in the middle of the park, which is also known as the Crypt Club. I already hear sounds of laughter, music, and shrieking from within. It sounds like some women are getting bitten tonight.
I go down the steps and reach the door, with the music getting louder on the other side. Antonio follows me from behind.
The door opens as I approach it, and a night of vampiric revelry awaits me inside. I see hundreds of vampires inside along with their human retainers, dancing and having plasma fruit drinks. I also recognize some of the vampires in the large dance hall as fellow Archons.
Then a deep voice calls out from the crowd.
“Ah, Doctor de Guzman! You made it just in time!” the deep voice speaks with an Iberian accent just like mine.
At first I thought it was Valmonte about to challenge me to a dance-off, but it was someone else. I look at the person who addressed me and just smile.
“It has been a while, no?” I tell the man who approached me with a grin on his face.