Chapter 14: Lords Of The Night

‘The lords of the night’, as they are called, are some of the deadliest species to have ever existed in history. The very source of their survival is blood and the human blood soothes to their tastes the most. The one word which is the name of the specie is also a word that commands fear among every human who knows of them. It’s –

Queen: “Vampires”

Ro: “Huh? W-wait, t-that’s …”

Ro has heard something he never thought he would. Not even in his wildest imaginings could he have thought of there being ‘living’ vampires.

Ro: “T-that should be …”

Barry: “Impossible?”

Seeing Ro unable to finish his words, Barry did so for him, though he says so knowing what would come next.

Reid: “Barry!”

Reid almost shouts out his name barely able to hold himself back from attacking him. Seeing that,

Barry: “Yeah, what?”

Barry smiles like he doesn’t have a care in the world.

Reid: “Tch!”

Queen: “Constantly raging on every single thing will earn you nothing, Reid. Stop it.”

As soon as Reid hears the queen saying that, he comes back to the bowing position and his tone gets humbled,

Reid: “Forgive me! It’s just … I …”

Ignis: “How many times are you going to say ‘forgive me’ in one day, huh? Don’t you feel ashamed at all for troubling the queen so much?”

Ignis says the words as if to mock Reid, but Reid does not reply. Though from Barry’s field of view, he could clearly see him gritting his teeth.

Queen: “Stop Ignis! Reid getting angry over those things is nothing more than proof of how much he cares about this kingdom. Reid, you may raise your head.”

As the queen commands, Reid raises his head but says nothing. Seeing as this exchange has given him some time to, Ro calms down a little. Nothing will come of getting anxious. He has to calmly think in order to understand the situation. Following that train of thought, Ro looks at Barry.

Barry: “Something wrong?”

The sudden question by Barry without even looking his way does not surprise Ro. He knew full well Barry would notice him so there’s no point in acting like it’s a big surprise.

Ro: “I have a lot of questions regarding … well, vampires.”

Ro decides to use the truth at first. He does have questions regarding vampires and also regarding Barry and his own involvement with them.

Barry: “Can’t say I didn’t expect that.”

Barry says so with a pretty normal expression. He’s neither mocking nor reprimanding him, just stating a fact.

Ro: “I know you did.”

Barry: “So, I don’t think there’s any need for you to ask them here, is there?”

Barry suggests that he should ask his questions someplace else when he gets the chance to, but this is also something Ro expected.

Ro: “I believe there is a need for me to ask these questions here, or more accurately, ask them to the queen.”

Reid, the four generals and the queen turn towards him in surprise. They expected him to trust Barry the most out of all of them, so there’s no sense in him choosing to ask the queen instead of Barry.

Ignis: “F-fool! You think you have the right to disturb the queen with such petty talk?”

Ro: “I do.”

Two words – and each person in the court become silent, their eyes getting fixed at Ro. In this silence, a smile emerges on a single man’s face.

Barry: “That’s certainly something.”

Noticing that smile on his face, Ro gets irritated but tries to bring himself back to the topic.

Ro: “I am someone who can be really useful to you all – vampires. That also means I am someone that can be very useful to your opponents – the ghosts, right?”

Ro could figure out these basic details from the exchanges between those present there with Barry.

Ignis: “Your point?”

Ignis shows clear irritation on having been asked such an obvious question.

Ro: “I’m already dead, you can’t kill me and the ghosts will surely find me eventually. If you don’t want me joining their side, then you need to gain my trust.”

This part’s less certain and it’s a gamble Ro has taken to see if it works out.

Ignis: “Tch!”

But Ignis’ reaction hints that it may work out.

Barry: “Seeing from the flow of conversation up to this point, are you planning on threatening the queen?”

Barry asks so with a smile. One similarity between Ethan and Barry is this smile they carry around while asking incredibly serious questions. It’s this similarity that makes each of them easily disliked.

Ro: “Not exactly. That is to say, if she just agrees to it, there won’t be any need to threaten her.”

Ignis: “You imbecile!”

Reid: “How dare you!”

Reid again loses his calm but this time Ignis readies himself to attack too.

Ignis: “Just because you are already dead doesn’t mean you can’t feel pain, you …”

Queen: “I accept.”

The queen’s sudden words surprise everyone putting them in a standstill, everyone except Barry and Ro.

Barry: “Well, that’s how it would go I guess.”

Barry knows her well and Ro understands at least that she is a rational and calm individual. While Ro was still betting on his assumptions of the queen being right, Barry knew full well this answer would come.

Ro: “I see. Thanks for accepting this request.”

Ignis: “Huh? So now it’s became a ‘request’?”

Just a few moments ago, Ro referred to his words as a ‘threat’. Seeing him now call it ‘request’ infuriates Ignis to say the least.

Aquarius: “There’s no point in yelling at him, Ignis. Sit down.”

Ignis: “Don’t you dare order me.”

Aquarius: “(sighs) that’s not what I was doing.”

Ignis has proven himself to be hot-headed, to say the least. When it comes down to it, if there hasn’t been Aquarius who has been holding him back from attacking, Ro may be in a much worse condition.

Queen: “Anyway, I assume you want to speak where there aren’t so many people.”

Ro turns his attention back to the queen as she asks this question.

Ro: “Yes, if at all possible, I would like there to only be Barry and you.”

Queen: “Hmm … that might be a little difficult. I don’t think my generals would leave us be no matter how much I try to convince them.”

Their attention turns to Ignis, Aquarius and the other two generals who have been listening to the conversation with no interest.

Queen: “I am sure they’ll find a way to not let that happen. So, just to be safe, I propose we have Reid with us there as well.”

This time, everyone except Barry is surprised by her words.

Reid: “M-me?”

Queen: “Yes, Reid is a loyal servant who has no personal interests other than serving the Vampire Kingdom. Therefore, I think everyone would feel at ease if he is there with us.”

Ro thinks to himself about the points the queen mentioned. Indeed, it doesn’t seem like Reid serves any personal interest. He is very emotional about the queen and the kingdom. Whenever Ro spoke anything that may be disrespect to either of the two things, he immediately reacted to it.

Ro: “I see your point, your majesty.”

He says while bowing.

Barry: “Well, is that okay with all of you then?”

Barry asks this while looking at the four generals.

Aquarius: “Yes, I think Reid is a very trustworthy person.”

Ignis: “Tch! Well, I guess I would trust the queen’s judgment.”

Aquarius and Ignis agree to it. The other two generals don’t speak anything. Ro starts feeling anxious about it but,

Barry: “Don’t worry, they are like that. They don’t have any problems either.”

Barry says so and nobody objects.

Ro: “I-I see.”

The queen then stands before declaring,

Queen: “Well then, I ask everyone except Reid, Barry and Ro to immediately leave this place.”

All: “Yes, your highness.”

*******************************

The four people left in the court stand in diagonals to each other. The queen, Barry, Reid and Ro are standing on the same level floor and it would not be possible to tell by looks alone that they have such difference in power.

Queen: “Well then, first let me formally introduce myself. My name is Valdis.”

Ro stays quiet. He knows full well he can’t just start calling her Valdis and that the only reason she is telling him this is for him to not accidently ask the question in a way that may anger others.

Valdis: “I am the queen of Vampires and one of the strongest people in the world.”

She says so in a formal manner but Ro understands that she is not trying to brag. He understands that it is the truth.

Valdis: “Do you doubt the last part?”

She asks with a smile. It isn’t a threatening smile, just a genuine smile. Though seeing as how the vampire queen is the one smiling like that, even a genuine smile can be a sign of danger.

Ro: “I don’t.”

Ro gives his answer without a second thought. Even though it is not because she is the queen but because he really believes her that he answers so, it is only logical that she would think it’s the former case because of how people tend to be in front of their superiors.

Valdis: “Oh, you don’t? I thought for sure you would doubt me.”

Thus, Valdis says so expressing her surprise.

Ro: “I have heard in stories about a particular tradition of sorts.”

Ro’s reason for believing her is just as he states. It is the same thing with the different stories Barry had told Kais, it is knowledge passed down through legends.

Valdis: “Tradition?”

Valdis asks curiously.

Ro: “I have heard that the rulers in the community of vampires always tend to be among the strongest. Whenever a ruler is weak, someone takes their place and their heritage ends there.”

It is a rather cruel tradition but it is one which is true for vampires. That’s the impression Ro gets from the stories but he decides not to mention that.

Valdis: “I see. That’s rather curious. I can’t think of any way these legends could be circulating around so freely.”

Barry: “Actually there is a way.”

The attention suddenly turns towards Barry.

Valdis: “And what’s that?”

Barry: “Well, put simply – there’s someone who may be spreading it around.”

Barry’s answer isn’t anything surprising; in fact it is an obvious answer. The problem is that this answer misses the point of the question.

Reid: “That’s pretty obvious. But who is the one? Do you know that?”

Reid tries to bring the most important point to attention more bluntly. But before Barry answers, he turns towards Ro,

Barry: “Are you aware of why this matter is a cause of concern?”

Ro: “It’s because the existence of vampires is thought of as extinct for many centuries. So if someone is spreading the stories, they are either a vampire you guys have no control over or someone else entirely.”

Barry: “(smirks) Well … doesn’t looking at it from that standpoint … I don’t know, make it seem not that big of a deal?”

Barry asks a question that sounds strange to all three of them.

Reid: “How so? Someone is spreading stories about us while we are trying to remain out of sight. How’s that not a big deal?”

Reid points out his concern over the matter.

Barry: “It’s not like they are saying vampires are alive or anything. Shouldn’t stuff like this go down as the legend of vampires or something?”

Barry asks so with a resigned attitude. This sudden change in attitude is as mysterious as it is unsettling.

Valdis: “It could become a problem if someone tries to find out more about our ‘legend’ and ends up finding out we are still living.”

Even though the queen is speaking, the attention remains on Barry. He seems to be looking down for some reason.

Barry: “I suppose so.”

Reid: “So, who could this guy be?”

Reid presses the question seeing as Barry is not answering. Barry glances at Reid and sighs. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to recall the person who he thinks could be the culprit.

Barry: “How long has it been since you first heard these stories?”

He asks looking at Ro.

Ro: “Four years.”

Ro answers honestly as he tries to figure out who Barry is talking about.

Barry: “Then it’s certainly possible, isn’t it?”

Ro: “Are you …”

Ro understands who he is talking about. He understands but does not want to believe that possibility.

Barry: “No, it’s not Ethan Kales.”

And fortunately for him, his expectations are not met.

Barry: “However, there is another really deadly human being who could be doing this.”

Valdis: “Huh!”

The words ‘human being’ is a dead giveaway for who he would be talking about. At least, that is the case for everyone except Ro.

Human population outnumbers that of vampires, ghosts and psychics by leaps and bounds and yet there are only few humans who someone like Barry would talk about like that.

Reid: “He?”

Barry: “I think so.”

The person they are talking about is someone very important to the Vampire Kingdom. He’s their strategist, so to speak. And as this realization hits on those in the court, a silence falls upon them. Ro too understands from all that they are talking about someone who is, or at least should be, an ally to them. This silence tells him this much. But that said, this wasn’t what they had to talk about.

Valdis: “I think we should get back to topic now.”

And so the queen intervenes.

Barry: “Topic, you say?”

Valdis: “Yes, mulling over our own queries isn’t the point of this conversation. It is to clear whatever doubts Ro may have.”

Valdis says so looking directly at Ro. Barry and Reid also turns their gazes towards him.

Ro: “Well, the most important thing I want to ask is – what is your food source?”

Ro asks with a serious face but Valdis starts chuckling upon hearing the question.

Valdis: “My, my. What a bizarre question to ask someone!”

Barry: “Well, it makes sense in this case though.”

Barry says so as a little smile comes back on his face.

Valdis: “I suppose that’s true. Well, it is as you may already have heard, we drink blood.”

Valdis says so with a smile but cold sweat forms on Ro’s head.

Valdis: “Don’t worry though. We have no intention of drinking your blood.”

Ro: “That’s quite hard to believe after so many vampires seem to already hate me.”

Barry: “To be honest, they hate me and because I brought you here, they hate you as well. That however wouldn’t be the case if I had brought you in as food for them.”

Hearing that, Ro recalls the first line Reid said when he came out of the crowd the first time.

Reid: “Well, anything except food that you bring is suspicious as far as I am concerned. That being the case, it seems the queen has decided that we are to not harm this man. Then I shall obey her wishes.”

He says so. Whether a ghost actually has blood a vampire can drink or not is not the point, the point is that Ro looks just like a normal human. Unless someone actually knows he is a ghost, they may try to attack him and seeing from how the rope was able to tie him up, it is possible that vampires may have other ways that can hurt ghosts. Bu now that the queen has given the order for him to not be harmed, he can rest assured. So,

Ro: “Glad to know I won’t be made into food any time soon. Anyway, the other thing I really want to ask is – What’s up with this war between you and the ghosts?”

Knowing that he is touching the heart of the matter, Ro has prepared himself for a cold stare from Reid.

Valdis: “Well, that really is the most important query you have, isn’t it?”

Valdis looks him in the eye as she says so.

*******************************

After getting an explanation of the ‘war’ that’s brewing between Vampires and Ghosts, Ro has decided what he would do. He is running alongside Barry to get to a particular place.

Barry: “You certainly are pretty co-operative now that you know what’s going on.”

Ro: “You can say you are lucky it’s me who died. I can’t think of anyone else agreeing to help you.”

During their conversation, they had come to a realization – one that led them to truly grasp the severity of their situation and that made them realize that they needed to hurry.

Barry: “Really now?”

Ro: “Mohammed is too focused on his personal goals and Sneha works with Ethan so yeah, none of them would help you.”

Barry: “What about your boss, Garfield?”

Ro: “He and everyone at his rank is a full-fledged psychic, not half asses like me and Mohammed. He would rather try to throw you out of power rather than help.”

Barry does know this answer to be true, yet he asks the questions as if he doesn’t. Ro doesn’t feel much bothered by it though.

Barry: “I see. Then I guess I should really be glad that Ethan killed you. Or …”

Barry comes to a certain realization. Another level of desperation gets added to their situation.

Ro: “Or maybe this was part of his plan too? Honestly, I can’t deny the possibility. In fact, it’s probably true.”

Barry: “I see. Well, we know we are dealing with a rather troublesome human being now.”

Barry, the cause of that man finding out and getting so attached to the supernatural, is now scared of him.

Ro: “Yeah, I guess. But it is essential to stop him regardless.”

Barry: “I suppose so.”

They reach the gate they were heading for and stop.

Barry: “Well, it’s time. You ready?”

Ro: “I am.”

They need to stop someone – a mere human as many would call that man. And yet, beings more powerful than a hundred humans combined were becoming afraid of him. That’s the man who they need to stop.

Ro: “Well, I really wonder if even this is part of his plan.”

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