An Audience with a King Part 1

Victoria was unsure of how long they flew, and she encountered nothing of interest during their flight.

The bat’s echolocation told her of a large object in the water ahead of them, and the messenger bat headed straight for it.

As they neared it, her escort broke off, but she knew instinctively to keep heading straight until she reached the object and transformed back into her human form, landing gracefully on the deck of a well-maintained galleon that was older than she was.

Seeing it brought back memories of her life before her transformation, and for a moment, she fought back against the wave of nostalgia.

Looking around, she saw it was crewed by members of her kind, dressed as sailors from a time before hers. Several nodded respectfully but otherwise ignored her.

“Victoria!” called out a familiar voice, and she turned to see Lord William striding towards her.

She curtsied in greeting.

“My Lord,” she said.

“Rise,” he said. “It would appear I was not the only one to receive an invitation.”

“Then our host really is…?” she couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Yes indeed,” he said. “His appearance can be somewhat…discomfiting…upon initially meeting him, yet his character is anything but.”

A member of the crew, dressed in finery that set him apart from the rest, approached them and bowed deeply.

“My master bids you welcome,” he said after straightening. “He awaits you in his cabin.”

“Lead on, good sir,” Lord William said, and the well-dressed vampire led them toward the back of the ship.

*****

They reach a cabin she suspected took up most of the rear of the ship.

Their escort knocked on the door, and it was opened a moment later by another well-dressed crewmember.

“Lord William Newman and Countess Victoria St. George!” he announced, and the English vampires entered.

Their host sat in an opulent chair, and her breath caught as she beheld him.

He was bald, with a greyish cast to his skin. His ears were long and pointed, and his eyes were red and sunken. His fangs protruded several inches past his lips, and a large scar ran over the right side of his face.

“Greetings, Lord Gareth,” Lord William said, bowing deeply. “It has been far too long since we last met. I believe our last encounter was…”

He took a moment, thinking back through over five centuries’ worth of memories.

“Prague, 1825,” he said. “We shared a young lady at the opera. She was most enjoyable, but the opera was not.”

"Indeed she was,” he said, smiling. “The opera was about Hamlet, not a fan. She was the only real entertainment that I had. Ah 1825, that year I still had my youthful face."

He looked over at Victoria.

"Where are my manners?" he said. "You must be Victoria."

He rose up from his seat and floated over to her, then bowed and kissed her hand.

"I apologize for my appearance,” he said. “But even age can catch up with vampires. Would you two like something to drink while we discuss matters?"

“But of course,” Lord William said, knowing it was the very height of rudeness to refuse a host’s hospitality.

Gareth snapped his fingers, and another servant stepped into the room carrying a tray with three goblets and an unmarked bottle of red liquid. He poured them and then left the room.

Each of the vampires took a goblet.

“How about a toast?” Lord William said, looking directly at Victoria.

She thought for a moment, then lifted her goblet and looked at Lord William.

“To old friends...” she said, then looked at Gareth and raised her goblet in his direction. “...and to new ones.”

Lord William smiled slightly and nodded, and the three of them drank.

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