History of the Vampire: Part Five
“As I was saying,” the figure continued, “the stranger left swiftly, and the old man sat perplexed. Completely baffled of the reasoning behind the stranger’s intentions, he stared at the dice, searching for answers. Immediately, he noticed a difference. The King’s magical dice were bright and colorful, and adorned with symbols indicating the prizes or neopoints the thrower would win. These dice were simple black and white, and embossed with grim skulls in the traditional six-patterned numbers. Although a little confused, the old man felt a twinge of fear deep in the pit of his stomach. ‘Still,’ he thought, ‘might as well find out what these things can do. I’ll have one last game before my time on Neopia is finished.’ Grabbing his cane, the old Blumaroo called up a dozen of his friends and arranged a massive dice game at his house.
“The game was in full swing, each tossing their own dice into the vat they used for gambling, betting on whose would contain the highest sum of numbers. The old Blumaroo had saved his special dice for the end, and threw them into the circle rather weakly. To his astonishment, all twelve pairs of the group’s dice summed up to the same number when his dice entered the vat. While his friends stood in silence, the old Blumaroo barely detected a slight change in the air, as though the atmosphere had grown heavier, tenser. Shrugging it off as the island humidity, he grabbed his dice again and they all threw into the vat.
“This time, there was a drastic difference. The skull dice came up double sixes, the highest number possible, and the room began to shudder. His friends, who all wore the hard mask of fear, appeared unable to move as white wisps of sparkling mist drifted out of their bodies. The mist converged into a glowing orb, and struck the old man. Upon contact, his skin smoothed, hair sprouted, and sagging muscles grew lean again. Restored to his youth, the once old Blumaroo looked about excitedly, ecstatic at his luck.
“And then he saw his friends. They all appeared withered, as though they had suddenly aged, although he knew this was not the case. A rather old one was unconscious. Each had a portion of life sucked away, and replaced into his body. Frightened, the Blumaroo ran for his life, and couldn’t help rejoice in the boundless energy of his new body. Since then, he had discovered that the dice did not keep a person alive – they merely restored vitality. Sustenance was still a requirement. No longer in need of the dice, as he was young again, the Blumaroo left his house where his friends gradually began to recover.”
The figure ended with a dramatic silence. The latter had a piercing gaze, eyes fixed greedily on the dice in the figure’s grasp.
“Fascinating. And what does this have to do with you?”
In response, the first figure ripped off his hood, and revealed the youthful face of a Purple Blumaroo. Eyes glinting like black river stones, the haunted look was enhanced by a rather staunching grimace. His companion remained concealed, and stared at the astonishingly young face.
Without waiting for a response, the Blumaroo tossed the dice casually into the air, catching them in the same paw. “Now, I’m sure you comprehend where we stand on this deal. I no longer want these life-suckers. They rid me of my friends, and I want to lead a new life. You want these dice, dealer – I need money for support. We can compromise.”
A devious grin overtook the dealer’s expression as he imagined all of the black market uses for such magical artifacts. “Yes, we sure can.”
Venue stood thunderstruck, the idea that had earlier grasped at his mind fully surfaced. Dice that could give life instead of money... yes, that was just what he needed. Although, they came at a price. The life given was first taken from the losing competitors, and the need to feed was not silenced. However, Venue knew he had to have those dice.
In a snap decision, he stole from the balcony as silent as a Miamouse, and climbed down towards the unaware intruders. Hiding in the shade of the very same tree, he listened as the pair bartered over a price (which was quickly skyrocketing). Waiting for just the right moment, Venue watched for the split second when the Purple one would open his hand to exchange the goods.
When the moment arrived, he wasted no time. Swiping his paw in a lightning movement, he snatched the dice from the Blumaroo’s hands.
The Purple Blumaroo noticed the movement and the sudden disappearance of the dice. Turning to see the disappearing back of a cloak, he grew angry.
“HEY! GIVE THOSE BACK!” he yelled.
The cloaked Venue stopped, and slowly turned to face the Blumaroo. He watched with pleasure as his face turned white with fear at the sight of his gleaming fangs and glowing eyes, and his companion looked as though he would faint. “They are mine now. Why would I give them back?” he said politely, attempting the best semblance of menace he possibly could. This was the most fun he had experienced in ages.
The pair bolted, streaking towards the city with as much speed as they could muster, not bothering to look back as Venue laughed at their fear.
“Remember!” he shouted towards their retreat, “Should you ever come here again, you are trespassing on the lands of Count Venue!”
Chuckling, he casually tossed the dice into the air and caught them in the same paw.
‘ROO ISLAND VAMPIRE DISCOVERED – COUNT VON ROO IN POSSESSION OF DEADLY DICE’
The headline screamed at Venue. They must have heard me wrong, he thought. Still, I like it, it’s rather catchy. And Deadly Dice – what a ring to that name; couldn’t have named them better myself.
His life wasn’t perfect, he knew. While every roll of the dice provided adequate vitality to last him several weeks, they had also cost him from the few times his opponent would win. And that still did not cancel out the need to satiate his thirst once in a while. Rarely, when an intruder dared steal into his sanctuary, he would punish them in a way that he viewed as some sort of justice. Although he did not kill anyone, he would sate his thirst on the blood of the trespassers. One time, a pair of kids had accidentally kicked their dodge ball into the open door of his basement, and how that brought back some of Venue’s oldest memories. It had been coincidental, so he let them go without punishment. Their fear was punishment enough.
The newspaper had just arrived at his doorstep by a rather timid Shoyru, who had fled long before the paper hit the sidewalk. Since nighttime was the only period of the day where he could truly be safe outdoors, his mail arrived at midnight. Shuffled in were the contents of his ‘mailbox’ – in truth, he didn’t own one; they just chucked the mail at whatever house they could find.
In a small package was the object of his search. The corner of a letter, written in Lessee’s beautiful script, stuck out of the package wrapping. Curious, he opened the box, and pulled out a single red rose. Touched, he read the letter:
I read the newspaper. I know that must be you. To think, we had gone from best friends - gallivanting in the Haunted Woods, of all places – to a long-distance friendship on Roo Island (how backwards is that?) via letters. I know you must be desperate for some form of a friend, but don’t worry. No matter what the world says, you will always be Venue, my best friend in the whole of Neopia. Take the rose; put it in a vase, and think of me. I hope the memories we shared will be enough.
Tears in his eyes, Venue read and reread the letter. He felt happy for the first time in a long while, and swept off to the basement. Opening the lid of the coffin that he did not occupy, he let go of his hold on the letter. Like so many others, it fluttered down, and settled gently on the massive pile of mail from Lessee. Closing the coffin lid, Venue gripped the rose in his hand, choked by emotion. He was not mourning – merely paying tribute to his friend’s unending devotion.
Venue was interrupted by a doorbell. Smiling, he placed red rose on the cobwebbed stone, and went to open the door. Time to become Von Roo again, he thought to himself as he recalled the case of mistaken identity that had snowballed his entire career. Every day, he was visited by countless Neopians, hoping to score levels of vitality for their neopet (the public had shortened the name simply to ‘levels’ for ease of speech). In the entryway corridor, he snatched up the dice, preparing for another high-stakes game of Deadly Dice.
A Ruki stood on the other side, a determined look on his face. Venue grinned in response, and the expression wavered.
“Hello,” he said oily, “My name is Count Von Roo. Would you like to roll the dice with fate?”