The Children of Eris
With the negotiations concluded and the treaty signed, David and the twins swiftly returned to his office, leaving two Ravens and eight of Jorōgumo’s spy brood behind to allow effective communication between the two allies.
“Ah, I’m so tired,” Scylla moaned as she fell in an exaggerated manner into her sister’s arms. “I don’t ever want to have to do that much boring work again in my life.”
“Scylla, that’s rude to say in front of our master,” Charybdis lightly chided her. “Also, you didn’t do anything other than stand in the corner as his majesty conducted the negotiations with the Dark Elves.”
“I was on guard duty for an entire week without rest!”
“Your snores during the night would disagree.”
“Hey!” Scylla screamed, her cheeks flushed. She lowered her head in embarrassment. “She’s lying, master.”
David gently laughed and pet her on her head. “I don’t mind if you do, but it is true that you and your sister both worked hard during this last week. While I would love for you both to have a much-needed day of rest.” There was a knock at the door. “It seems that won’t be possible. Enter.”
“Excuse me, Lord Allaric,” Eva said as the doors to his office opened. She stepped in and bowed politely to the three in the room. “I’m sorry to interrupt you so soon after you’ve returned, but I found a letter addressed to you in your bedroom as I was cleaning this morning.”
“Let me see it.”
Eva passed him the sealed envelope which was bound with a piece of brown string and sealed with red wax.
“Whose it from?” Scylla asked.
“I’m afraid the sender didn’t leave their name, my lady,” Eva replied. “There are no other details on the envelope other than that it is addressed to the Dark Lord.”
“How did they manage to sneak into Master’s room without being detected?” Charybdis wondered.
“With most of the Ravens currently on assignment, there are small gaps in the security around the Dread Keep, so it’s not impossible for someone to make it in and out. If they managed that though.” David broke the seal on the letter. “They have to be someone highly skilled and someone who knew I’d return from the negotiations with the Gørviligr today.”
“Is it possible that they were observing us during the negotiations?”
If they were, then it’s worrying that we didn’t notice them, David thought. He examined the wax seal more closely; it had an image of an open mouth with sharp canine teeth on it. Fangs? Maybe a vampire’s? If Rebecca was right and vampires still exist, then they could’ve been like Jorōgumo and sensed my arrival in this world. Maybe they’ve been watching me for a long time.
Though, I thought vampires were vulnerable to sunlight and could only safely move around at night. David frowned. I shouldn’t judge Aangapea’s vampires based on the ones from my world’s fiction. My summoned generals might have been like their counterparts in my world, but that doesn’t mean everything would be similar.
In Aangapea, vampires could be incredibly powerful beings that aren’t afraid of sunlight like you see in some games. Rebecca did think Mania was a vampire the first time she saw her, so maybe I could judge them based on Mania’s abilities and strength?
I’ll need to ask Rebecca for more information on vampires.
“Master?” Charybdis asked, slightly concerned. “Is something wrong?”
“It’s nothing. Just lost in thought. Now, let’s see what this mystery sender wants.”
To the Dark Lord and the ruler of the Dread Kelsey,
I am Lord Ruthven, head of the Vampire Court of Aangapea. Whilst I understand that this is hardly an appropriate or normal method of contacting one such as yourself, my colleagues and I felt that it would be best to contact you in as discreet of a manner as possible.
Normally, we would have contacted you in a more direct manner however, because of Karak-Harth’s resurrection, we are trying to avoid drawing attention to ourselves at this time.
Originally, I wished to write my full proposal to your lordship in this letter but, as I’m sure you will agree, time is of the essence. Therefore, I would like to invite your lordship and his party to a ball at my family’s home, Castle Bathory.
My subordinate who will be with you tomorrow morning to lead you to our home should you wish to accept my offer.
Many blessings and tidings upon the Dark Lord,
Lord Ruthven. High Lord of the Vampire Court
David finished reading the letter aloud, then passed it over to Charybdis who studied it intently.
“The Vampire Court?” Scylla, who had been reading the letter from over David’s shoulder, repeated. “Eva, have you ever heard of them?”
“Only in stories and legends, my lady,” Eva replied. “The Court used to rule one of the seven kingdoms of the south-east but they were thought to have been destroyed by Saint Themis during the War of Unification.”
“It seems that there are more of Themis’s dead enemies that survived,” Charybdis mused. “What about Castle Bathory?”
“People said it used to be in Adetite before Themis captured the city, but I can’t imagine that they would invite Lord Allaric to such a place,” Eva replied.
“I agree,” David said. “Lord Ruthven must mean somewhere else, perhaps somewhere within the Beast Woods.”
“They were thought to have come from the Beast Woods before they ruled Adetite, so perhaps they fled there after the Holy Legion took Adetite. The stories say that Themis led the first Holy Legion into the woods after taking Adetite to finish off the Court.”
“Either Themis has lied a lot about her achievements or she’s just sloppy,” Scylla muttered.
“All will be revealed after we attend this ball,” David said. “Scylla, Charybdis; start making preparations. Eva, pick your five best maids to come along with you.”
“I-I’m to attend as well, Lord Allaric?”
David nodded. “Not just you and the maids. Rebecca and Hilda will be coming as well. Actually, bring Fenrir, too.”
“I don’t think the little pup’s going to like a stuffy ball, master,” Scylla playfully said.
“She won’t attend the ball; she’ll explore the Beast Woods for signs of any werewolves in the region. If Fenrir finds them, she’s to bring them into the fold. If not.” David chuckled. “She’ll get plenty of exercise.”
“…Your majesty, why do you wish to bring Hilda with us?” Eva asked nervously.
“If Hilda’s going to serve as my knight, then she needs to get some experience guarding me before she has to defend me from any threats,” David reasoned. “Mania’s holding her graduation ceremony today to see if Hilda’s ready. Once the ceremony is over, take her back to her chambers and help her pack, Eva.”
“As you wish, Lord Allaric.” Eva curtsied. “I shall inform Lady Rebecca and begin preparation at once for both her and the others.”
David nodded. “I’ll leave that to you. Scylla, Charybdis, tell Fenrir and get yourselves ready. If you need me, I’ll be observing Hilda’s graduation.”