As I was weighing the pros and cons of each plan, there was a knock on the door.
“Door’s open.” I call out as I see Gran enter the room.
“Tony, my dear. A word?” Gran says with a tone of worry.
Without saying anything, I nod and Gran sits down beside me on the bed.
“What is it, Gran?” I ask her as she sighs.
“You might have noticed that Malefica and I aren’t on very good terms.” Gran says as she looks at the door, seeing that it closed by itself.
“I didn’t know you could become like that at times. What happened between the two of you? If you don’t mind me asking, of course.”
“It’s a long story, my dear. But to put it simply, she almost ruined my business.”
Gran then explains that pharmacists like her rely on man-made or organic medicines/vaccines while Malefica’s potions were made through alchemy have a strong magical power. Those two schools of thought have always been at odds with each other, with the former relying on sciences while the latter relying on magical power. Initially, Gran and Malefica were on friendly terms, but the stores that they owned were rivals in the neighborhood. There was a lot of conflict until the Association, with the help of the Doc, intervened in their dispute and ordered them both to stop.
“That is why you can’t trust her.” Gran concludes her story. “She’s a hag who only thinks of nothing more but perfecting her alchemy through unscrupulous means.”
I think about what Malefica has done so far, and it seems right. She kidnapped Miggy, threatened to kill me if I didn’t leave her hideout, and even cheated during our duel.
Should I really go with Gran’s decision?
“I urge– no. I beg you, Tony. Please let me cure Domingo. I know we’re currently at war with Don Antares, but we could lay low and keep the Doc hidden and safe while he’s in his coma. I’ve even talked with a skilled coffin craftsman to keep him protected in this special coffin I had drafted up.”
This is a lot to think about. Don Antares and his men have left us alone for a while, but they could attack at any moment. Staying put and laying low would sound like a good idea, but we can’t just hide forever in the shadows. Knowing the other members of the House, they might probably want to take action immediately to retaliate against the Don.
“You do know that the Don could attack us at any moment, right?” I remind Gran.
“I am aware of that, which is why it’s best to lay low and keep him safe while he’s in his coma.” Gran justifies her position again.
“What would the Doc have done?” I ask.
Gran becomes quiet for a moment.
“Knowing his nature as a man who takes things for himself, he would jump at any opportunity he sees to reach his goal. Even if it was risky.”
“I didn’t know the Doc was like that.”
“He was hot-blooded and impulsive when he was a minor vampire. Although he may not look like it now, he still makes pretty impulsive decisions without thought.”
“His hot-blooded nature hasn’t changed at all, though.” I remember how the Doc would often curse if Preston or anyone else screws up.
“Haha, true!” Gran and I chuckle.
I attempted to lighten the mood a little, but the atmosphere returns back to that of seriousness.
“The Doc chose you to be his protege for a reason, Tony.”
“Because I saved his life, right?”
“I think there’s more to that. The Doc has had countless proteges before, but this is the first time I’ve seen him treat his protege well.”
“Did he do anything to the previous ones?”
“Enough for them to challenge him for Archonhood or mutiny against him. I won’t elaborate on the details, my dear. But I think he’s changed when he took you under his wing.”
I admit that I do not know much about the House’s history, but it made me curious how the Doc was like in the past.
“Anyway, I hope that you make the right decision, Tony. Do what you think is best for the Doc– no. What you think is best for House de Guzman.” Gran then leaves the room as I head for the coffin to retire for the day.
“Have you made up your mind yet?” Malefica asks me.
I just nod and look around at everyone gathered by the bar.
“We’re going with Malefica’s plan. I know that it isn’t the safest option, but we could be attacked by Antares and his men at any moment. We need the Doc back in action, even if he grows a third ear.”
“I’m glad you made the right decision, Tony.” Malefica seems pleased as I see Gran look at me with disappointment.
“Are you sure about this?” Gran asks me, crossing her arms.
I just nod, having made up my mind. This is the path I chose.
“Very well. I’ll respect your decision, my dear. But whatever happens to Domingo, promise me that you will take full responsibility as his protege.” Gran tells me.
“I promise, Gran. I believe this is the better option out of the two.” I justify.
“I hope you’re doing the right thing, Tony.” Preston crosses his arms, but I can’t get a feel of his mood. “But if it gets us back in action, I’m all in for it.”
We all agree to perform the treatment at our hideout, where the Doc’s clinic is located. As Gran holds Miggy by the hand as we walk to the car, I can’t help but think that this is the last time we’ll be with him. I’m going to miss Miggy a lot, especially when he called me Uncle Tony, but we need the Doc back.
House de Guzman needs its Archon back.
It was almost dawn when we arrived at the hideout. Malefica started to get to work with her formula while Gran kept an eye on her in the clinic to make sure that she wasn’t putting in anything suspicious. I ordered Preston and the rest of the gang to keep watch around the hideout for any sign of the Don’s men while I caught up on the House’s administrative work, signing documents in the Doc’s place and deleting the spam mail in his e-mail account. He must’ve clicked on ads by accident while he was watching his favorite operas online.
Life went on as usual in the hideout for three days until I was called down to the basement by Malefica. Gran was already waiting in the hallway for me as I looked to see if Malefica was around.
“So what happened?” I ask Gran, looking at her sleepless eyes. She must almost be out of energy at this point.
“The Doc’s already back to being an adult, my dear.”
“Thank you for your hard work. I’m surprised you were able to work with Malefica on this one.”
“I was against the idea of working with her at first, but we had a job to do. Countering the strong effects of the potion required both Malefica and I to work together, using our knowledge of medicine and alchemy. As for the side effect, well–”
Before Gran could elaborate any further, Malefica steps out of the clinic to greet me, and I notice that she also looks tired, despite trying her best to hide it.
“Tony! Just the vampire I wanted to see. Domingo wanted to stay in the room so that he could rest a bit more.” Malefica tells me.
“So the Doc is back to normal?” I ask, feeling a bit sad that Miggy is gone now.
“…You could say that.”
“That doesn’t really make me feel comfortable.”
“You’ll just have to see for yourself, my dear. But remember, don’t be surprised. This is just a side effect of the potion.” Gran explains as she and Malefica lead me to the front of the clinic door.
“Just remember, Tony. We both did our best.” Malefica adds.
“Did he grow a third ear then?” I ask.
Malefica and Gran do not answer my question and gesture me to go inside. I guess whatever happened to the Doc is inexplicable. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
“Right, I won’t laugh if the Doc grew a third ear.” I prepare myself to see what happened to the Doc as Malefica opens the door for me.
“Doc?” I look inside the clinic and see the Doc sitting on a medical bed.
But what I saw next was something that I wasn’t prepared for.