The sun hasn’t even had a chance to rise before you awake from your slumber. After so many years of living in such poor environments, slumbering until the sun rose in that bed will drive you crazy.
You get out of bed and decided to dress: you decide to wear the most mundane clothing in the bundle, but only because everything else was far too fancy for your liking. Afterwards, you begin to tour the castle again, hopeful to find something interesting.
While doing all of this, you can’t remove Vladimir from your thoughts: clearly you are still alive, which means he didn’t suck the soul right out of your body and leave you a lifeless hallow shell of agony and despair. Yet, you are suspicious of his acts of kindness; no vampire is kind to anyone but themselves…so why is he different?
Perhaps he’s an outcast among his kind?
You can’t wrap your mind around it…but anything can happen. You’ve lived by that all of your life.
Around noon, you find yourself back where you started from and you decide that was enough of the castle for one day. Becoming slightly lonesome, you travel to where you recalled the dining room to be, in hopes of finding him.
Vladimir sits at the long glass table, politely eating what seems to be extravagant food. His fork is held with such delicacy that you almost want to ask him where he got such manners: but before you do so, Vladimir greets you. “Hello.”
You slowly walk into the dining room: it is just as large as the rest of the house with an amazing chandelier strung so high it looks rather small. If it was possible to climb so high, jumping up from it would make you stick to the sky like a bug on sticky paper.
“Good afternoon.” You take a seat opposite to him and try your best to look happy and less suspicious.
Vladimir sets down his fork and looks at you. “Did you sleep well?” he asks cheerfully. A small smile comes across his lips.
“I did, actually. It was the best sleep I’ve had in a few years,”
“That’s good to hear,”
You frown a little at his meager attempts for a conversation: he doesn’t seem as bombastic as last night; you wonder if it was your attack on him that might’ve made him draw away…perhaps it was a little vicious.
“Listen, Vladimir. I want to apologize for the way I acted last night: ‘You shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth’, my mom used to say…or something like that…I really do feel bad about the way I treated you, even though you’ve been so kind to me.”
Vladimir looks as if he’s having an internal battle: it’s obvious that he wants to say something, but he doesn’t. You wonder what has his tongue so tightly.
“There’s no excuse for the way I acted towards you…I’m sorry again,” you repeat bashfully. To avoid the guilty feeling creeping down your spine, you drum your fingers on the table.
“It’s quite alright, [Name]. It’s only natural.”
“It isn’t…” you insist meekly.
“I forgive you…” Vladimir’s eyes drift from you and onto the white table cloth as if he were a puppy being scolded. “I don’t blame you. I can’t blame you, in all honesty.”
You raise your eyebrows, attention caught by this modesty. “Why?”
“We’ll talk about it some other time.”
Your eyes narrow at his anxiety. Now it’s clear he’s dodging something: what is he scheming? “Can’t we talk about it now?” you ask sweetly.
“No, that isn’t a good idea,” he laughs nervously while hurriedly shoveling another bite into his mouth.
You push further: “Why not? I’m sure it’s nothing bad…”
“I have my reasons.” He makes eye contact again, and now his eyes have gained their usual confidence.
“Oh? Does it evolve my soul, by chance?” you continue testily: he won’t be able to dodge you so easily.
“Very funny, [Name], but I’m not interested in your blood, nor your soul. Yes, it all has something to do with you. In fact, it’s primarily a concern for—” he lets out a quiet gasp and quickly looks down at his plate as he begins to take a huge bite.
You look at him expectantly as if waiting for him to finish chewing, but he fiddles with the food on his silver plate, still avoiding your gaze.
“Go on,” you say quietly. The curiosity is killing you now.
“Nice day today, isn’t it?” he laughs heartily, throwing his head back.
“Yeah…it is…” you agree flatly. You don’t care what the weather is at the moment; you just want to know what he’s up to and why. But it doesn’t seem you’ll be getting that answer, for he jabbers on.
“Well, I hate the daytime. It’s overrated!” Vladimir chuckles and stands up. “But as long as a drop of sunlight doesn’t filter in this castle, I could care less if it’s sunny or an apocalypse out there!”
And then he claps his hands together twice. “[Name], I promise you, when the time comes, you’ll understand why I’m doing this. But until that time comes, I will say nothing more on the matter. Now wipe that look off of your face and give me a bright and sunny smile!!” The last words are milked down with irony, so heavily milked you can taste it.
You don’t want to smile; you want to know why he won’t tell you his reasons. On the inside, you’re tugging out tufts of your hair and screaming. And as you rampage and mentally tear down his castle, two people emerge: one with black hair and blue eyes and the other with blue hair and black eyes.
The person with black hair swoops up Vladimir’s dishes while the other whips out silverware from thin air and resets the table. They both move agile like cats—like masters at the art of butler-y.
You look at Vladimir in surprise, raising your eyebrows. “I thought you lived here alone…?”
“That’s what I said, didn’t I?” He gives you with a puzzled look.
“Then who are they?” you ask, nodding to the two as if he was blind for not seeing them.
“Oh, them!” Vladimir grins widely. “They are Lessers,” he says as if it was the most obvious answer in existence.
“Lessers,” you repeat with a small frown, still watching the two. “Have I heard of them before…?”
“Have you, darling?”
“Nope, I’ve never heard of them.”
“Well, in a nutshell, Lessers are like marionettes that are formed from the mind. Basically, I created them as their own being, although they live off of my life force and thoughts. Without me, they’d be nothing again.
They feel no pain, probably don’t have their own thoughts and take commands only from me. In a sense, they are me, and I control my own mind. So as I said: I live alone.” Vladimir turns to the blue haired one and nods. “Thank you very much. What will be for dinner?”
His voice is monotone and drawling, “Dinner will be a surprise, master.”
“Ah! I love surprises!” Vladimir claps his hands together merrily. “I really appreciate it, Lon.”
“Anything for you,” Lon bows grandly before turning to his companion. “Alsek, you have laundry today.”
Alsek groans loudly, stamping his foot and pouting. “I had laundry yesterday! Why don’t you take a spoon and shove it up your nose?!”
“I was created first, silly little brother!” Lon throws his nose into the air and wraps the silver tray he clutches close to his heart.
Alsek turns redder than an apple. “Perhaps: but only by a minute! Save the best for last, I always say!”
“No one ever listens to what you say, which is why I always have to listen to you.”
“Stop bullying me!” Alsek cries and clutches onto Vladimir. “Just make us go away. We can settle this later!”
Vladimir nods his head and sighs. “You both are dismissed.” Alsek and Lon vanish immediately into then puffs of smoke.
“Interesting…” you murmur as you try to digest their bickering behaviour. “Do they argue often?”
“Always. There’s never a dull moment with those two. They keep me company…and do all the chores I need them to. So, I’m sure you’ve had enough sightseeing. Would you like to go into town?”
“Go into town? Wouldn’t that be risky, seeing as how the Church is probably looking for me as we speak?” you release a breath of irritation: not to your host, but to the pesticides.
He puts a finger to his cheek. “Although I would prefer not to go outside, I guess you could get yourself some clothes that would actually suit you…”
“I don’t have any money, and I don’t want yours.” You cross your arms and frown at the table.
“Come now, [Name], you can’t be that way. ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’, remember?”
“I’m pretty sure you’re using it in the wrong context.”
With a grin, he asks slyly, “Or Am I?” but doesn’t give you time to reply. “I’ll go get my umbrella. We’ll leave in exactly three minutes.”
He vanishes, leaving behind the same sparkling red dust as last night. You groan and navigate your way back to the front door, wondering if your shoes were still there. Sadly, they are not: but pair of fresh, clean shoes take their place. Perhaps Vladimir thought your shoes really were evil.
You assume that Romania had the Lessers locate new ones. Taking your time, you slide your foot into the soft, cold padding as the shoe fits perfectly. “Great, he knows my shoe size…”
Around the time you finish, Romania strolls up to you, black umbrella in hand. “Ready to go?” he questions as he opens up the umbrella: it makes a loud groaning noise and snaps open. It’s extremely large for absolute security and it as dark as the night sky.
He pulls on his black gloves and adjusts the small hat on his head.
“Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go.”
“You don’t think the Church will find me here? There are a lot of people.”
“Not at all, [Name]. How can they find you so many miles away?”
“Because I’ve tried to escape them, but I never really can.”
“Well, I’m here to protect you now, so there’s no need to worry.”
You try to hide the surprise from your face. “It’s kinda hard to fight or flee when you’re carrying a huge umbrella…Doesn’t that seem a little suspicious to anyone?”
“I could very well have skin issues or want to prevent skin cancer. Humans can rarely tell.”
“You are kind of pale. I guess you don’t tan too well, do you?”
“Quite humorous. You should apply to be the next royal jester. I’m sure the king would enjoy your company…but you’d probably be beheaded for your sharp tongue,” Vladimir snickers.
“There are no more kings.”
You fold your arms and look around the village: small shops, cafes, a library. The sidewalks look as if they were paved the day before. All of the people you two pass look content and pleased with the lives their leading.
Vladimir continues, “There’s a shop called ‘Lillie’. They should have clothing that’s more your style…”
“Alright then. Although, I’m not too sure I have a ‘style’.” You nod and follow behind him down the street side.
While walking and chattering, you can’t help but notice little things about Vladimir: the way he holds himself tall and prideful; the way his strawberry blond hair floats on the gentle breeze; how he always takes his first step with the left foot instead of the right; how he absently twirls the umbrella while keeping himself entirely covered; how his ruby eyes catch every movement of the people and wind; how his ears twitch in the direction of loud, abrupt sounds; and how he seems to watch you without actually ever looking at you.
“Thank you for taking me to get clothes,” you thank him sheepishly.
You watch out of the corner of your eye as the side of his mouth twitches and curls into a triumphant grin. “You don’t have to thank me for everything.”
“Really? Thank you for telling me.”
He lets out an irritable sigh and scratches his head. “Since it’s evening now, we might as well as get dinner. I think there’s a decent restaurant up the road.”
“I thought Lon was fixing dinner?”
“Lon can have the night off.”
“Maybe you should tell him that. I mean, what if he cooks lots of food and you won’t want it?”
“Nonsense,” he mutters and drags you by the wrist all the way to the nearest diner.
“I’ll just take the tomato soup,” you say quietly as you curl your toes under the table in your comfy new shoes.
“Will that be all?” questions the waitress politely.
“That’ll be all, thank you.” Romania informs her kindly; she nods and sashays away, barking loud orders in a completely different tone to her co-workers.
“Aren’t you hungry?” you ask Vladimir, wondering why he ordered no food.
“No, I’m fine.”
“Okay…” After all, you couldn’t force him to eat anything. “Well, I really did enjoy today.”
“I must agree.” He fumbles with the umbrella on his lap. “…I did have quite an enjoyable time.”
You open your mouth to say something else, but you’re stopped cold; you duck your head quickly, concerning Vladimir. “What is it?”
“The Church: one of the Hunters from last night just walked in,” you say hardly above a whisper.
Vladimir swears and quickly glances back to confirm your fears: the Hunter is tall and slender, with a young face and courageous bright amber eyes. A cross hands around his neck along with the symbol of the Church. He stands close to the entrance/exit, eyes narrowed and searching.
“Okay, then it seems it’s time for our fun day to come to an end…” Vladimir looks back to you with his face set in determination.
“What do you suppose we do?” you whisper.
“Well, this is where I protect you while holding an umbrella in my hands.” Vladimir chuckles briefly and then lets out a large sigh. “And to think our date was going so well.”