After a two hour drive from Windenburg, the Don’s female chauffeur drops me off at this quaint little town just before the castle where Don Antares resides. A little chapel sits on top of the hill as I see the inhabitants of the village going about their business. Most of them humans, ghouls, and a handful of vampires enjoying the fresh mountain air and socializing with each other. Seems like a place where humans and supernaturals co-exist in peace.
Clutching the Don’s letter in my hand, I enter a little pub and ask one of the vampires sipping a plasma packet about the Don’s castle, but he almost spits out his drink and makes a gesture saying no.
“I’ll give you a hundred simoleons if you lead me there, young man.” I propose to the young vampire.
The young man just shakes his head. “That castle’s a dangerous place, man, even for us vampires. I’d give you a hundred simoleons to go back.”
“Keep your money. I am an Archon, and I fear nothing!” I adjust my turban after raising my voice. People have to know I’m an Archon.
“That’s what those other Archons also said…” the young man says while I raise an eyebrow.
I notice the other townspeople in the area have started staring at me as if I were some kind of lunatic.
“Well, do any of you wish to accompany me?” I ask the whole room as people shake their heads. “200 simoleons for each man who joins me! There will be more once we meet the Don!”
“We don’t want yer money. Just go back to Windenburg, friend.” the human bartender speaks up.
“Please, sir. The Archons who have visited that castle have never returned.” a vampire woman holding a baby tells me.
“And if anyone goes in that castle, they comes out all different, they does! I’ve seen it with me own eyes!” a disfigured old ghoul half-chewing a severed finger chimes in and laughs as he makes an hourglass figure in the air with his hands.
The other townsfolk keep telling me to turn back, but I am determined to get to the Don’s castle. The Don and I have business to discuss. Covering my ears to block out their pleas, I leave the little pub and push on by myself.
Cowards. Don’t they want a share of my new riches? I am being generous yet they refuse my money! Ignorant mountain folk!
Now I have to walk to the castle alone, even if the letter instructed me to bring a few companions. The Don wrote that he wanted to propose a business venture for my House; something that will make House Malachi richer than before. No longer will we be a destitute minor House in the Willow Creek area. We’re finally joining the big league!
After twenty minutes of walking and watching out for werewolves that might be in hiding, I come across an imposing castle, as if it came out of a fairy tale. It’s no doubt that Don Antares is one of the wealthiest vampires in the League and one of the most powerful.
Securing an alliance in his plot to overthrow the Grand Master will definitely get me a spot in his inner circle. House Antares and House Malachi will have a great partnership.
But why are the townspeople so afraid of this place? It’d make a great tourist spot if they put their backs into it. And I know that the Don is a good-humored vampire. What makes him so feared even by the vampires in this area?
I walk down the long pathway leading to the castle and hope that I’ll be able to get a castle of my own someday. Getting your own castle is much better than using an abandoned warehouse as a hideout, and with the amount of simoleons that the Don wanted to give me, I might even be able to buy two castles in Windenburg alone.
Smiling at the Don’s proposition, I see a familiar figure emerge from the doorway, flanked by two butlers who appear to be female. Have I seen them from somewhere before? I’ve only seen them for the first time, yet there is this feeling that I’ve talked to them at one point of my life. Shaking away that thought, I proceed to greet my new business partner.
“Don Antares!” I smile and greet my old acquaintance.
“My dear friend Roy Malachi!” the Don approaches me to shake my hand. “I have been expecting you. Did you run into any trouble along the way?”
“Not at all, Don! Your chauffeur was polite and charming, and I had no trouble finding the castle. But why do the people from the nearby town say this place is dangerous? They kept telling me to stay away from it.”
“Bah, they’re just jealous of my castle, Malachi! Petty townsfolk don’t understand the history behind this beautiful structure.” the Don scoffs and looks at the archway of the castle.
The Don then explains that this castle used to be the residence of a Windenburger prince who rebelled against an old Kaiser who was a feared tyrant. The prince began his rebellion here, which gave way to a new and benevolent dynasty. And seeing this as the base for our rebellion is certainly most fitting!
“…And that is how I came to possess this castle. Quite a bargain, really.” the Don brags.
“This is definitely an impressive castle, Don.” I praise the architecture again.
“Indeed! And you came alone? I thought I told you to bring some companions.” the Don looks around his surroundings.
“I tried to offer the mountain folk some money to join me, but they all refused.”
“They’re savages, Malachi. Savages. But I’m glad you came all the way out here!”
I smile and feel welcome for the first time. No one paid House Malachi any attention back home; we were always known as that little House by the docks that uses a hurricane-damaged warehouse as headquarters. Our assets haven’t been making any money lately due to a bigger police presence in Willow Creek. Apparently some thugs from the San Myshuno Feng family were spotted in nearby Newcrest.
“Well, don’t just stand there! Come on in!” the Don derails my train of thought and then turns about to give orders to his butlers, who go do their assignments with haste.
I enter the castle and look in awe at the marvelous interiors.
“Now, for our business agreement…” I waste no time in bringing it up.
“We’ll get to that, later, my dear Malachi. For now, you shall join me upstairs for a game of chess.” the Don wipes his feet on a doormat and then I do the same.
“Chess?” I raise an eyebrow.
“The game of kings! You and I will soon be partners in our new order of vampires, so I’d like to evaluate your skill.” the Don extends his hand as I shake it with a firm grip. He never said anything about playing chess in his letter, and I’m quite bad at it, to be frank.
I follow the Don up the staircase and see little vampire children playing tag. They seem to be having a blast as they run past me and the Don to the second floor landing.
“No running up the stairs, my dear children!” the Don tells the kids.
“Yes, father!” the three children shout in unison as they enter a room full of toys that any kid might envy.
“How many children do you have, Don?” I become curious.
“I have quite a lot. There are three who live here, but I have others living with their mothers in different cities.” the Don explains. If he has this many children, he must still be practicing the tradition of having multiple vampire wives.
I look in the room that the children entered and see one of them standing by the bookcase. The well-dressed boy looks familiar for some reason. As if I’ve seen him somewhere before.
“Ah, so you’re looking at little Jasper!” the Don tells me as we observe the children playing in the room. “Full of energy, isn’t he?”
“Yes, he’s quite lively.” I look at the child’s features again as he catches a ball from his sibling. I know I’ve seen that face before. Was it from someone I knew?
“Little Jasper wants to be an accountant someday. He’s actually helping out the castle by monitoring how much plasma we have in stock.” the Don explains. That kid must be quite intelligent.
The Don and I then go past a dining hall and see the two butlers from earlier bickering over whose turn is it to clean the tables.
“Christina, you were supposed to dust the shelves tonight!” the brown-haired one says.
“But Kaella, I told you that our schedules got mixed up because someone forgot to pin a note on the corkboard!”
“My dears! Enough bickering. Get back to work!” the Don shouts at the two as they bow and excuse themselves. I look at the one with white hair wiping the table while muttering something under her breath. She reminds me of another Archon I met a long time ago, but I cannot quite put my finger on who it was. Could it be…
It can’t be. The name is already at the tip of my tongue, but I still can’t remember who. Maybe they’re just long-lost siblings.
“Is there something wrong, my dear Malachi?” the Don calls my attention as he walks back.
“I was just looking at her.” I gesture at the white-haired butler with my head.
“So she has caught your fancy?” the Don elbows me and winks.
“Not really. It’s just that I noticed all of your butlers appear to be female. And they remind me of some people I met before.” I recall that even the female chauffeur who drove me to the mountain town was dressed the same way. Is he obsessed with short-haired women dressed in masculine clothing? Rich Archons like the Don come off as pretty eccentric in the community, like Grand Archon Imperial and his harem of belly-dancing ghouls.
“Ah, yes. I find female butlers to be easier to deal with than male ones. More pleasant on the eyes.” the Don explains as he gestures me to follow him to a nearby room. “And if they misbehave too much, I send them off to a lonely Archon in need of a bride.”
I laugh at the Don’s remark and join him for a game of chess in the adjacent room.
The Don then looks at me straight in the eye.
“I wasn’t joking, by the way.”
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
Dracula’s Corvin Castle by: MissRubyBird
Little Mountain Village by: MissRubyBird