History of the Vampire: Part Four
Rumbles of thunder miles away rattled the window pane. Lessee hoped this cloudburst would not keep her awake. Although there was no rain, the thunder and lightning struck with abandon on the miniscule coastline. Curled in her bed sheets, Lessee covered her ears to the growling storm.
As one particularly loud bang shook the room, Lessee bolted upright to see the window thrown open. The cloth cover flapped about like a beached Pfish, and Lessee went to close the window.
A prickly sensation ran down her neck fur. It was that feeling again: the feeling of being watched by something sinister.
Slowly, Lessee turned to see a looming figure, wreathed in the darkness in the opposite corner of her room. She could barely make out the shape of a Blumaroo, but the gleaming red eyes seemingly gazed into her heart.
The Yellow Neopet loosed a loud shriek before further reading those horrible eyes. Instead of triumph, as a monster would show at the climax of its hunt, those scarlet beacons were filled with hope, apprehension, sadness, and fear. What shocked her most was the friendly camaraderie that resided in those eyes as well – faintly, like a message partially erased from a chalkboard, but there nonetheless.
Crimson, green, or cerulean, she knew those eyes anywhere.
“...Venue? Is that you?” she asked. The stranger seemed to crack a fanged smile, and nodded. His face was filled with an odd relief. Lessee had no clue that up until that point, Venue could not remember his own name.
She approached him cautiously, as one would a wild animal, afraid he would disappear in a puff of smoke like some odd illusion. He narrowed his eyes, and took a step back. “I-I don’t want to hurt you, Lessee. Please stay back,” he begged.
Suddenly, the bedroom door flew open, and Abigail flicked on the light switch. Still in her pajamas with frazzled hair, she carried a baseball bat. Her sight rested on Venue, the intruder who threatened her pet’s safety. With a yell that rival a Neanderthal, she charged him, bat raised to strike.
She struck the wood paneled floor. Venue had leapt through the window within seconds of her arrival, and Lessee froze with one hand held out towards the empty void now left by her disappeared friend.
Venue was at a loss. He had found Lessee, and she continued to send him letters – no one could ever force him to leave Roo Island now. Still, that left the all-important question of sustenance. How could he survive in this tiny, colorful place without taking a life? Surely someone would notice, and he had already sworn to himself that he would not, if he could avoid it. Yet, as time passed, he could feel himself begin to grow hungry again.
The answer arrived several weeks following his visit to Lessee. Passing through the streets with a hooded cloak covering his entire body, the Blumaroo suffered no ill effects from the sunlight. Careful to hide all of his face in shadow, Venue drifted towards a popular diner. Not to eat; no, he wanted to catch up on all the latest news, perhaps discover the cause behind the sudden island-wide obsession with gambling.
Seating himself on a silver-patterned stool, he stared at nothing but the empty counter and the kitchen behind it. A statuesque Striped Ixi waitress in a red and white striped vest and skirt appeared, and asked “Can I take your order, hon?”
Venue meekly answered “Just the newspaper, please.”
She chalked up his fifty cents, and passed him a newspaper. The headline jumped off the page:
“KING OUT OF SLUMP – MYSTERIOUS DICE GAME” It continued to list interesting details of the mysterious Blumaroo Dice that had been given to the King by a cloaked figure. How interesting... Venue thought. Magical dice that give and take items and money...
He had no need for money, but some thought was tugging at the back of his mind. Digging deeper, he attempted to unearth the idea in vain. To no avail, he placed the newspaper down on the counter. Nothing else grabbed his interest.
Meanwhile, he appeared to have grabbed the interest of the other diners. Venue noticed several glinting eyes watching him as he swept from the restaurant. Unnerved and discouraged by their rapt attention, he pulled the cloak closer to his face, obscuring it in the shadows.
Seeking shelter from curious eyes, Venue walked to the other side of Roo Island, where he resided in solitude.
He had discovered a rather small abandoned castle, just the size for one person to live comfortably. Actually, now that he thought about it, it was more of a crumbled old fortress than a castle; the outer wall had collapsed into complete disarray, and the center compound was no larger than a brick house. Still, this did not deter him – the place held a unique beauty that had more to do with the structure of the sculpted stonework than the outer appearance. It seemed to beckon, pulling you forward and grabbing you with its awe-inspiring view.
The indoors were even more odd than the outside, in complete contrast to everything modern Roo Island stood for. Draped with cobwebs and filled with dust, the lightless interior was cold and unforgiving, ancient candles burned down to wickless puddles of wax standing as long-overdue rubbish. Tigermice scuttled about in the walls, nibbling the worm-eaten rugs, squeaking, and leaving their miniscule pellets in discreet corners.
And strangest of all – portraits of a young, handsome, wealthy Korbat littered the walls. No Korbats had ever been identified on Roo Island before the Great Opening of the Island. This prominent figure had red-rimmed scarlet eyes, unusually large fangs, black wings, and shaggy white hair combed neatly like a schoolboy’s. In the deepest pit of the fortress lay his coffin, fashioned of solid rock with a tiny winged symbol, and empty. On the lid, the words ‘Count D.’ were scratched, as though added later as an afterthought of a careless stonemason. Venue himself had soon scratched out the ‘D’ and replaced it with ‘V’ – he rather liked the title of ‘Count’ before his name.
Ducking inside, he walked up towards the upper balcony, where he could watch the landscape unhindered by threatening sunbeams or attentive passerby. The cold draft soothed his mind, and settled down to observe the land.
A shadowy movement caught his eye. In the shade provided by an awkwardly bent oak tree, two cloaked figures stood, suspiciously casting glances to their side, oftentimes towards the fortress. Their eyes never settled on Venue.
Curious, the Halloween Blumaroo perked his ears, interested in what these strangers had to say when they thought no one was within hearing distance. Snippets reached his ear drums...
“These brand new dice are freshly made,” one of the figures whispered, “brand new magic, one of a kind.”
“I understand that,” another one muttered exasperatedly. “I want to know how they came to be, and what they do.”
The first cleared his throat, and straightened his cloak tassels. “I am sure you are aware of the magical dice given to King Roo by a strange Blumaroo, correct? Well, as it happens, that very same neopet came to an ancient Purple Blumaroo somewhere in the far reaches of the island, and handed him these dice. The old man was getting on in his years, and was nearly on his deathbed. The stranger arrived and instructed him to care for the dice, and use them as he would. Since he had read the newspaper, the old man immediately recognized the stranger as the Blumaroo who had gifted the King with his dice. At first, he refused, claiming that he had no use for money or prizes, since he was about to die himself. But the stranger persisted, telling him that these dice were the negative polar opposite of the King’s dice, and had been brought into existence as a result of the first dice’s creation. ‘They work a little differently,’ he said, ‘and I know these will help you. Use them wisely.’ With that, he left.”
“Why do I need to know all this?” the second figure interrupted, impatient. “I asked you how they came to be, not how they traveled to your hands.”
“I don’t know all the details. Please let me finish.”
With a huff, the first gave in, crossing his arms. “Fine, but only because this information could be useful to me in the future. You had better make this fast. I can’t tell you how many potential deals could be sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be made as we speak.”
“You mean, goods, waiting to stolen? Lives, waiting to be ruined? Spirits, waiting to be crushed?”
The dealer fixed him with a flinty look. “Watch your mouth, filth – it will get you into trouble one day. IF you ever get that far. I have allowed you to continue on your ridiculous, pointless tale. Do not push the levels of my patience.”
To be continued...