At An Undisclosed Location in Newcrest
—A transcript of the interview with the Archon of House de Guzman—
Doc: Time is of the essence, so let’s make this brief.
Reporter (R): Of course, Doctor. This interview won’t take long, I promise.
Dr. Domingo de Guzman (Doc): Normally I’d be ecstatic when a reporter from The Sanguinarian Times comes over, but I have been quite busy this week. You didn’t even schedule an appointment!
R: I apologize for that oversight, Doctor. But I hope that the rare painting we sent last night was a sufficient gift. Our editor-in-chief has taken note of your recent feats in the past few years.
Doc: What feats?
R: You know, like how you got rid of that Pastor who plagued Newcrest with his deviant guildspawn and shambling vampires. Getting promoted by a Grand Archon doesn’t happen often these days.
Doc: Oh, right. I do recall that. It was quite a troublesome affair that paid off in the end.
R: How exactly did it go for you?
Doc: There was a big decrease in Guild activities and vampires in my neighborhood could roam around safer at night without fear of getting a silver crossbow bolt shot through their heart.
R: And according to one I interviewed, he said that he could feed on someone without looking over his shoulder for a crossbow aimed at him.
R: It also says here in our investigation that you were able to track your great-granddaughter in the process?
Doc: Ah, yes. She was an interesting child. But I had to send her far away.
R: And why is that?
Doc: Having her stay around the Newcrest area would cause problems. That’s all I can say about that.
R: I see. Next question, Doc. This is about your other feat.
Doc: *raises an eyebrow*
R: About the one in San Myshuno?
Doc: *laughs* Oh, that. Look, I am a modest vampire. I do not want to elaborate on what I did.
R: “A powerful vampire named Archon de Guzman, along with his minions and allies, took on the entire Feng clan that was developing super vampires and completely restored vampire peace in San Myshuno, receiving an outstanding commendation from Grand Archon Imperial of San Myshuno.” That’s what it says in this news report.
Doc: My word, there’s a lot of exaggerations in that story alone. Who wrote that?
R: One of our newbies. I apologize if it sounded exaggerated. The editor-in-chief wanted to make us vampires look powerful to other supernaturals who read our paper.
Doc: I see! *laughter* And it will put those insolent ghouls in their place. But seriously, the credit to that goes to my protege and my daughter; they spearheaded the attack on the Fengs.
R: Could you tell me more about them?
Doc: My protege, although brilliant and reliable, is still clinging to some parts of his human past. I believe that a true vampire must find acceptance with their undeath to achieve more power.
R: That is what The Way preaches, right?
Doc: Ah, so you are also familiar with The Way! *laughs*
R: Care to show me de wei?
Doc: I beg your pardon?
R: Never mind, forget I said that. It’s an Internet meme. *nervous laughter* Moving on, what about your daughter?
Doc: She has her mother’s intelligence and has inherited most of my features. She’s still a bit of a rebel, considering that she’s now more than 40 years old. And I wanted her to be a Lady of the Association.
R: That’s an ambitious title for any female vampire within the Association.
Doc: And with that, comes more influence for my House. But I will respect her wishes and let her do what she wants with that degree she’s pursuing. She may even establish the cadet branch of House de Guzman in San Myshuno someday, with a retinue of her own.
R: Interesting plan, Doctor. Cadet branches of Houses give the main branch more prestige in The League!
Doc: *smirk* She might be even smarter than I am.
R: Anyway, Doctor. I just have a few more questions.
Doc: Carry on.
R: About your minions. They don’t seem to be as miserable as the ones I’ve seen in other Houses including the one I’m under.
Doc: I believe that happy minions are effective minions. Give them the tools they need to succeed, and the House will prosper. I cannot say the same for ghouls and werewolves though; they make inferior minions. I only hire vampires and willing humans, with one ghost minion being an exception.
R: And these humans aren’t thralls?
Doc: My friend, I’d prefer to converse with a human that can speak for itself than a drone-like being that repeats “Yes, Master” over and over again. I tried that for a year, and it almost drove me crazy!
R: *laughter* True! Maybe I should tell that to my Archon. Also, given the success that your House has, could you tell me about the key figures who operate it?
Doc: Ah, you mean my inner circle? Before anything else, this will only be read by Grand Archons and the Grandmaster himself, right?
R: You have my word as a vampire.
Doc: Very well. I shall take that as a verbal contract.
Doc: I operate with several lieutenants and veteran vampires, but they manage my businesses and other operations around the neighborhood, so they’re normally not around the hideout, which serves as headquarters. There are also my general henchmen; mostly fledglings and minor vampires who commit petty crime on the side when they’re not given any assignment.
R: Just like in many other Houses.
Doc: *nods* Also, aside from the protege who works directly for me, I also have a human art forger and a ghost as part of my personal retinue.
R: According to our investigation, your protege was a former star writer for a San Myshuno foodie magazine, your art forger barely speaks Simlish, and this ghost minion of yours is a chicken-phobic knight who reeks of incompetence. Those are quite the characters.
Doc: *laughter* I love how you described Preston!
R: That was from an older interview with you, Doctor.
Doc: Right. I think it was probably your Archon who interviewed me 50 years ago.
R: If this Preston is so incompetent, why do you still keep him around?
Doc: He is what I would say… a ghost bound to eternal friendship after losing a bet he made with me. He can never move on to the afterlife and never go insane like other ghosts under this magical contract. So I can’t get rid of him.
R: That must be some pretty high-level magic right there.
Doc: A wizard thought of it, and I honestly don’t remember why I agreed to his idea! The town Preston haunted, or annoyed in his case, simply wanted to get rid of him! *laughs* And he has been my loyal servant ever since.
R: Moving on, Doctor. One thing we’ve noticed about your House is majority of the members are… um, quite handsome.
Doc: *laughs* Better than having an ugly ghoul that reeks of that awful stench they make! Or an ugly vampire who prefers to have a monstrous dark form. I prefer to surround myself with people I find pleasing to the eye, like art.
R: Does this also mean that you are into men? A few Archons are just curious.
Doc: It doesn’t matter if I prefer men or women; a real vampire has the ability to charm anyone regardless of what they are.
R: I find that quite interesting. If you were to sum it up in three words, what is a real vampire for you?
Doc: I believe that a proper vampire should have three things: style, poise, and charisma. Without these, you cannot make a good first impression with other Houses and vampires. And without that impression, an Archon won’t even give you the time of night.
R: That’s how our vampire society is like, unfortunately.
Doc: Set by the Grandmaster himself and the Grand Archons. But I won’t delve into complicated vampire customs. That’s one reason I’m reluctant to take on the mantle of Grand Archon, even if Leclerc just offered the position to me.
R: So you prefer to focus more on being an Archon?
Doc: And a local crime lord. Controlling an art forging/smuggling operation with many front businesses to help fund it is satisfying enough for me, unlike those other Archons who are megalomaniacs with domination of humanity in mind.
R: True, they can be quite crazy to the point that some even get kicked out of the League. Oh, and it says here that your hideout has a clinic?
Doc: I converted a part of the hideout into my personal clinic for vampires and other supernaturals.
R: Do you also perform treatment on ghouls?
Doc: Yes, unfortunately. I took an oath in vampire medical school to receive any patient who needs treatment. And I don’t want to get my medical license revoked if I turn away one ghoul.
R: I see.
Doc: That doesn’t mean I’m kind to them, though! *laughter* I charge ghouls a bit more for treatment, next to werewolves.
R: You can do that?
Doc: There’s no law preventing me from doing so! *laughter*
R: All right, last question Doctor.
R: How would you describe your relationship with Don Antares? *shows picture*
Doc: I still don’t understand him, even if I’ve known him for a long time.
R: What was he like to you?
Doc: He was a mentor, a father figure, and a good friend. He taught me almost everything about being a vampire, including vampiric medicine. But I keep asking myself, why is he doing all these things now if he had the opportunity to do them earlier?
R: Based on previous studies, this has happened to some vampires with a master-student relationship. The master normally fears that their protege is becoming too powerful, fearing that they might one day challenge them and take their title or House. The greatest example of this is the Incident at House Cromwell. Hence, what we now call the Cromwell Phenomenon.
Doc: A horrific tale, if I recall. And that happened 100 years ago.
R: Both master and student perished, including all members of House Cromwell. A tragic sight.
R: I’m sorry if that was unsettling, Doctor.
Doc: Take no heed of it. Maybe the Don was just waiting for the right moment to get back at me. And I was just thinking about my protege Antonio. He’s actually the nth vampire I’ve named as my protege.
R: So there were others before this Antonio?
Doc: Many enough to lose count. Majority of them were slain in battle with guildspawn, being the reckless fledglings that they were.
R: That is unfortunate.
Doc: Oh, but the worst one was betrayal. A few tried to take over my House and challenged me to a duel, but I made an example of them.
R: I recall that you were one of the few vampires to have survived a 5-minute spar with the Grandmaster.
Doc: Once you’ve faced the Grandmaster in a duel, you’ve seen everything that a vampire can do. And those traitorous fledglings did not last five seconds in a fight with me. You know what happens to anyone who betrays their House.
Doc: Exactly. I’ve accepted the Cromwell Phenomenon as a part of vampire culture a long time ago. So if Antonio were to betray me someday, it would come as no surprise.
R: I hope that it does not come to that.
Doc: It won’t. I have a feeling I can trust the fledgling. There’s something different about him compared to the previous ones.
R: All right, before we wrap things up, I almost forgot another question. Forgive me, Doctor.
Doc: It’s fine. What else do you want to ask?
R: I can’t believe I overlooked this one. A personal question from our editor-in-chief. *ehem* How does it feel to be nominated as the Best-Dressed Male Vampire of the Year? You were nominated by Archon Salvatore of San Myshuno.
Doc: *looks at the first photo* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
R: Is there anything wrong with the photos sent to us, Doctor?
Doc: No, it’s not that. I just can’t believe that Salvi would actually use these old photos he had lying around! When were these taken? I’d better have a word with that old bat! *laughter* I mean, what am I staring at? Am I supposed to be pondering over something here without looking at the camera? The photographer just told me to look somewhere and this is what happened!
R: Um, you still haven’t answered the question, Doctor.
Doc: Oh, right! Pardon me! *cough* This is quite flattering, considering that the nomination came from my best friend. I believe I should return the favor.
R: There’s also this photo of you sent in by an anonymous nominator.
Doc: Oh my. How did they get a picture of me there? I guess I’d better check for hidden cameras more often! *laughter*
R: All right. I guess that wraps it up, Doctor.
Doc: And it’s almost dawn. We’d better retire to our coffins soon.
R: Thank you very much for your time, Doctor. Our Archon will be most pleased to hear much about you and your feats.
Doc: You are most welcome, but next time, do schedule a proper appointment.
R: I will keep that in mind, Doctor. The Sanguinarian Times thanks you again!
It’s been two years since I started writing this story. I thought it would be best to celebrate the second year of Undead with Benefits with this form of story. I’d like to thank all of my readers, even if they just lurk around.
Thank you for reading! m(_ _)m