“You’re JOKING, right?” Malefica just looks at Miggy in disbelief after my revelation. Miggy, seeming to enjoy the attention, just smiles back at her.
“It’s just as I said. This child is Dr. Domingo de Guzman. That is why I want to take him back.” I comment as Malefica rubs her eyes and pinches herself, as if to check if she’s still dreaming in her coffin.
“Come to think of it, he DOES kinda remind me of Domingo.” Malefica comments as he brushes Miggy’s hair with her hand. Miggy then removes her hand as he seems to be fixated on the kiddie show on TV.
“So, how’d he end up this way?”
Before I could even start explaining, Malefica jumps the gun.
“Lemme guess! It was a youthening serum of some sort. Actually, I could feel the magical resonance of the potion, even if it is just a bit. The resonance is a sign that a being is cursed. Normally it has a temporary effect, but this one seems permanent but reversible. Huh. So that’s where the strange aura was coming from. Couldn’t put my finger on it earlier.” Malefica mutters like a geek at a comic book shop describing the plot of a comic book to an uninterested patron.
Magical stuff. Something that I’m not really familiar with. All I know about Archon Malefica from the Doc is that she’s a gifted magic-user. And that she’s a crackpot.
“A magical resonance, you say?”
“Just a teensy bit. You see, dearie, magical serums emit some form of aura that only magic-users like me can see. Whoever did this to him must be incredibly knowledgeable in alchemy and magic. And to affect even a higher vampire such as Domingo! Oh, I’d love to meet that person.”
“You wouldn’t want to.”
“What? Why? I’d benefit from the knowledge that I could obtain from them. So you know then? Who did this to him?”
“Don Antares.” I reply. The Doc’s former mentor is now leading a splinter faction within the League. I have yet to understand his relationship with the Doc.
“I should have known.” Malefica crosses her arms. “He actually sent me an invitation to his castle in Windenburg for a party of sorts, but I refused, sensing that it might be a trap. The Don and I were never on good terms ever since the incident.”
Malefica shakes her head. “Never mind. Maybe I’ll tell you another time. But now on to more important matters. Miggy will be staying here with me forever. So you may leave now.”
“Wait, what? No! We’re looking for a way to cure him!” I protest.
“Why would you want to turn him back into an adult? He’s a mediocre doctor who throws tantrums, treats ghouls like shit, and drinks too much plasma fruit juice, like a kid! Which is why this form suits him best.”
“Look on the bright side, you can make your own House now and make an appeal to the old fart Leclerc to become an Archon. You look like a promising fledgling, so I think you should do it.”
“I can’t do that. Our House needs him!”
“C’moooon. Think of the benefits. Let him stay with me, and you go off and enjoy your happy little undead life from now on. Oh, boys~!” Malefica calls out and snaps a finger as her henchmen from outside enter, armed with silver weapons. The large ghoul seated by the computer also stands up and faces towards us.
“My dears, please show our guest Mr. Antonio the way out. Our business for tonight has concluded and I need my beauty rest.”
“I’m really glad that you’re letting me keep him. You’re such a good listener, Antonio. We should chat again some other time. Baaiiiiiii~!” Malefica waves her hand as two of her henchmen grab my arms and start pulling me towards the door.
“Uncle Tony!” Miggy calls out but Malefica shushes him with a finger.
I break free from the grip of one of the henchmen and hit his chin with my elbow. The other henchman beside me aims with his silver crossbow at me point-blank when I manage to redirect his shot to the ceiling by grabbing his aiming arm to point upwards. The crossbow bolt makes a thud to the ceiling as the other henchmen aim their crossbows at me.
“ENOUGH!” Malefica shouts as Miggy starts to cower. She then rubs his back to calm him down.
“Let me speak, Malefica. Hand over Miggy. Now.” I demand.
“Miggy is mine. Leave now, and your life shall be spared. At the count of three, or I open fire. One.”
Malefica looks at me with a piercing gaze, seeming intent to keep Miggy with her forever. I’ve got to think of something. Something that would help me get the Doc away from this crazy woman.
Then I remember something. A tried-and-tested method of settling vampiric disputes. Every vampire, whether fledgling or Grand Archon would know it and its rules by heart.
“A duel.” I utter.
Archon Malefica smiles and looks at me in a condescending way. I think she has every right to do that, given that she’s centuries-old while I’m just a 3-year old fledgling with the appearance of a 26-year old.
“A challenge? Why, I haven’t received anything like that in decades! Are you sure you’re making the right decision, dearie? Weren’t you just turned yesterday?” Malefica taunts me as Miggy looks on worried.
“I’m dead serious.”
A moment of silence passes as Malefica just looks at me straight in the eyes.
“Now then, what are your terms?” Malefica asks me, as I am the one who issued the challenge.
“Outside. No vampiric or magical powers. A fair duel of pure strength and skill. If I win, you’ll give me Miggy back and help us turn him back into an adult. If I lose…” I gesture to let her speak. The receiver of the challenge also gets to set terms.
Malefica makes a wicked grin and speaks in a voice that sounds grim, almost evil.
“I’ll turn you into the cutest child ever with my own youthening potion. More potent than the one used on Domingo. I figured Miggy will need a playmate, and you can be his younger brother.”
Now what did I get myself into?