“Wow…nice place you’ve got here.”
“I think you should take off your shoes…they’re really muddy…I’ll…I’ll go get you some new clothes…” Vladimir eyes your shoes uneasily, as if they were evil.
“Oh…right,” you pull them off and set them against the wall; his eyes settle on you.
“So, where do I go?” you ask while looking around at the grand estate.
“Where ever you like,” he says with a sly grin and walks away from you towards a large staircase. You watch him but don’t follow; instead, curiosity strikes you hard and you wander towards one of many corridors.
The ceiling is more or less the sky, and the floor beneath your feet is regal and expensive-looking; the tile is checkered black and white, and there’s an occasional rug of some obvious importance.
The walls are decorated with portraits, all of whom you’ve never seen before. You pass large wooden doors that are brass handled, and some doors that are not as grand, but hold a sense of mystery as you pass them.
Moonlight filters through the beautifully circular shaped windows, making your shadow stretch far like a partner at your side.
You’re so caught up in the scenery that you didn’t even notice that you’ve come to the end of the corridor and a door waits silently for you; without hesitation, you push down on the brass lock and pull back on the sphere knobs.
The room is dark and large, so you assume it’s a study from what little you can see. You wonder if the castle even has electricity or if you have to carry around a candle everywhere you go.
You feel against the wall around the door until you do find a light switch (which surprises you a little). You flip it on.
Your guess was right: countless shelves line the high walls; papers are neatly stacked on the huge oak desk, and a comfy red chair is pushed in behind it. Writing utensils of every sort are laid out for use. After a glance over your shoulder you sit at the desk, the cushioned chair morphing into the shape of your bottom.
You reach up and pull down a quill; the feather is large, sky blue and the point of the quill is captivating silver.
“Geez, this guy’s got way too much time on his hands,” you think aloud.
“That’s what happens when you’re immortal, dear.”
You jump and reach for your knife, not expecting a reply; you swivel around in the chair to find Vladimir standing in the doorway, holding a bundle of clothes. His expression isn’t angry, but actually affectionate.
You stand from the chair quickly. “You’re immortal? I thought that—”
“I am. All vampires are immortal, but most normally chose to get themselves killed. It's hard to explain....I’m sure you know the names of a few of the famous ones.”
Vladimir sets the bundle of clothes into your arms. “You can carry that. Follow me.”
“So you live here by yourself?” You furrow your eyebrows as you trail him from the study.
“I do. I don’t normally stay here often. But sometimes people stumble upon this old castle and stay a while.”
“Do you kill them?”
Vladimir laughs heartily for the longest while. “No, [Name]. I don’t kill them. I do scare most of them. Being alive for centuries can be boring, I’m sure, unless there’s humor.”
You roll your eyes. “So you’re a sadist? Seems legit.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say a sadist…”
“How old are you?” you question him.
“How long have you been alive?” you rephrase your sentence.
“Does that hold any importance?” he asks lightly, pushing open yet another door and holding it for you to walk through; you do so and stop a few feet ahead so he can take the lead again.
“Yeah, it does. Or at least, I would like to know.”
“Well, if it really concerns you: I am no older than the sun, yet no younger than the fresh spring’s prim rose. I am no older than you, yet no younger than me.”
“That didn’t make any sense.” you say flatly and click your tongue irritably. Is he always full of games?
“It does, if you think about it.”
“Alright, I give up.” You shrug and juggle the bundle of clothes. “So where are we going?”
“Your quarters…I figured you wouldn’t be going anywhere tonight, so I found a nice area for you to roam about.”
“I’m not a petting zoo…and I don’t plan on becoming one for your liking.”
“Are you sure about that, human?” he laughs, throwing back his head and eventually wiping away another tear; you don’t even crack a smile because what he said wasn’t even that funny.
He’s a puzzle. He’s a Rubik’s Cube. He’s a vampire.
You can’t figure him out! You can’t tell when he’s serious or joking; you can’t tell if he actually is planning to eat your soul while you sleep.
Exactly who is he? Is he even a real vampire? There are always plenty of wannabe’s.
Vladimir holds open another door for you. “Alright, [Name], here are your quarters as promised.”
You walk through the door and stop in your tracks: there’s no way he’s actually being this kind without wanting something in return.
“You’ve got a bathroom over there. The bed’s never been slept in, so have at it… I don’t mind if you go out onto the patio. Wow, I forgot about that harpsichord…well, you can play it if you like. There’s a wardrobe over there, you can put whatever you don’t want to wear inside it…Um…I think that’s all there is to this place…Do you like it?”
You nod slowly, keeping an eye on him. “Yeah, I do…Um…” You frown at yourself. “Th—thank you.”
“It’s nothing,” he shrugs and walks to the bathroom. “In the cabinet should be a few healing potions and a few different skin herbs…you may need those. If you need anything else, pull that lever over there.” He points to a gray lever with a black knob protruding from the wall furthest away.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” you ask hesitantly.
Vladimir frowns a little: his ruby eyes seem to sadden. “What do you mean?” he asks quietly.
“I mean exactly what I said: What reasons do you have to help me? I could’ve just been eaten alive by the church for all you care. I’ve never showed kindness to any vampire, so what gives you a reason to help me?”
He sighs, his eyes not meeting yours anymore. “I understand that this may seem odd…but you have to trust me, it’s for the best…and I owe you this.”
You scowl now, glaring at him and his puzzling ways. “Owe me for what?”
“We’ll talk about it some other time. It is best if you get some rest, don’t you think? I’ll see you in the afternoon.” Without giving you a chance to say anything else, he turns and vanishes into a cloud of sparkling, red dust.
You stand there for a moment: the recent events replay in your mind until you remember the present and begin to prepare yourself for sleep.
Lying in a real bed for the first time in who knows how long is a relief to your body; you didn’t realize how bad shape you were in until you used one of the healing potions Vladimir suggested.
After a moment of waiting for sleep to come, rest embraces you with a tight hug.