The characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries belong to Miss Charlaine Harris. No infringement on my part is intended.The characters on True Blood belong to Mr. Alan Ball. No infringement on my part is intended.
I have no BETA, editor, or other such charming person. All mistakes are my own. This Story is rated M.
The war was over without a shot fired! Or fangs bared! Or other vampire blood letting! They were still alive! The takeover had been simple. Just let loose The Viking and watch him dance!
And The Viking liked The Hun and Vlad Drac! For new sovereigns…that was good enough….and besides…they had money and they liked that also!
All present swore fealty to the two new kings. And then it was business as usual. Sorta….
Everyonewent to work righting the palace to include the two new kings. When the trash was removed and what was left of the furniture, corrected, all stood and admired their handiwork.
“A good night’s work,” was heard by more than one. And that sentiment was echoed by the kings as well, as they slapped those on the back that had worked side-by-side with them.
The two kings mounted the steps to the mezzanine as those on the floor beneath them gathered so they could see them.
The Hun looked over the crowd and liked what he saw. Everyone on the same financial footing. As in poor had never looked so good. All would work equally to improve everyone’s wealth. That was one of the reasons they were here…to encourage everyone to bring theirAgameat all times. And maybe whack them on the head when they did not.
“Welcome to the ending of an old dark and a new beginning,” Vlad spoke down to the crowd and nodded at those he knew. “Thank you for your help, tonight.”
“Hear! Hear!” was shouted from below.
Raising both hands, and grinning, both kings once more stood in silence.
“We have much to do. All of us,” Attlia looked out over the crowd. “Much to do. And while we toil quietly away in the background, there are many who will step forward that we will have to pacify. Catherine was known by many, cheated those who did not know her, and distrusted by all that she did know. So, let us begin with what we know.
Here is what our videos’ will prove as fact,” he said, holding up his phone. “Catherine has met the true death at her own hands. Let them draw what conclusions they will. We will not offer anything unless they specifically ask.” All nodded in agreement. “She was in bed with a lot of different countries promising them they could own world. Because of this, there shall be those in different government services that shall be around and about to see how her true death came about for themselves and if we are showing any weaknesses.”
Vlad stepped forward. “What they will leave here with is that they shall see strength and unity in our common goals. What they shall observe while they are here is pride in ownership and pride in ourselves. We shall be neat, clean and forthcoming. No one here has anything to hide as far as her death goes. We have video to show them of how all this transpired if they ask.”
An unnatural hush fell upon the crowd.
“Fine,” he nodded, “we shall address the vampire slayer in the room.” You could visibly watch everyone relax. “Did we see The Viking waltzing his bride across the floor and disappear into that far wall?”
There was a lot of shifting of feet but not one word.
Vlad was looking out at the crowd. “Does anyone have video of Eric waltzing his bride through that wall?”
All across the room was a sure shake of heads. No, no one had any video. And all the phones were on at that time to capture the couple waltzing, the darkness before them dissipating as their steps lit the candles above and around them. Beautiful to watch, but was not on any phone! He had even checked his and what he had been recording was not there.
Vlad was very simple in his approach to this. “That answers that question. If we cannot prove it, then it did not happen.”
There were happy nods of agreement all over the floor.
“One last thing,” Vlad raised his pointer finger to help make his point. “The Hun and I have known Eric for centuries. We are both blessed to call him friend. The Viking is capable of things others of us are not as you just witnessed. The Viking race is descended from dragons, he would boost on boys night out. Frankly, watching him through the centuries, I can fucking believe it.
Did he dance his bride through that wall? Fuck yes, we all saw it happen. Bringing Catherine the true death behind a locked door is a very good example of what he is capable of. And fuck yes, that happened. Keep that shit in mind if you want to tangle with him. It will be the last thing you ever do.
All right, time for walk about. To your posts and tell us who you are and what you do. If you are a guest, claim a spot on the floor. We’ll be around to do the meet and greet as soon as we finish up with the staff.
Herman,” Vlad yelled over. “How about some walk about music?”
“My king, anything in particular?” he asked.
“How about some boot scootin’ music. Folks can dance while we get acquainted.”
“Keith Urban, Willy, Toby Keith, Garth Brooks?” H-Man asked.
“Yes to all, and Reba,” The Hun called out.
“We all love redheads,” Herman grinned. The boys geared up. “On it,” Herman said pulling on his shades. “Anything you want to go down as a first in your reign?”
Both kings started laughing. “Guess,” they both hooted.
Friends in Low Places started and the folks formed up for line dancing as everyone started singing along and howling in appropriate places! *“Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots, and ruined your black tie affair…”
It was interesting walking through the palace. There were wings they had never been in…and from the smell, that was a good thing. As they did the meet and greet, they could hear the music and the good time that was being had. “When?” The Hun was looking at blood splatter on the wall outside the throne room, “do you think the last time was anyone here had a good time?”
“If it all goes to Were shit,” Vlad walked into the throne room and then out, the smell of fear and death blood nauseating, “at least they will have tonight to look back on.”
The walk about had been most productive. There was not much left in the palace of any value. But there were some things that a price tag could not be placed on. They had talked about that as they surveyed the damaged, burned out wing. “We don’t need all this room. At least we can bring them out of the woods,” they both agreed.
The music had stopped once they started to climb the stairs. The two kings stood on the mezzanine with everyone else down below. “This,” Attila made a wide expansive motion with his arms. “This is our home and this is also your home. We know she kept many of you as indentured servants or worse, slaves. There are many of you who sleep in the woods but you can now find shelter inside. After meeting you, many of you have skills. That burned out wing comes to mind so we will need stone masons and carpenters and whatever else you can bring to that mix. Recycle what you can. We will purchase paint. We cannot pay you for your labor but it can become a place of sanctuary for those of you without a home. But we expect you to work to bring it back.” Attila stepped back and Vlad stepped up.
“Work. You will be hearing that term a lot. We all work while we are here, at even the smallest thing. Villains are coming, looking to take our dignity! We may be poor but we must look rich in pride. And that is actually a simple fix. It is now the responsibility of all to help keep the grounds and floors clean. We are not monsters or animals and no one of a sound mind likes to live in filth. You see something that needs righting, we expect you to see to it. The Hun and I are no different. We shall do the same. When it comes to the care and upkeep of this place, we are all equal partners in this endeavor. This palace and the grounds shall always look presentable,” he said with a stern tone.
There were hopeful eyes staring back at them.
“There shall be,” The Hun put both hands on the railing and leaned forward, his voice low and threatening, “no more entertainment of the bloodied sort appearing on the main floor. No one tortures anything on these grounds. Not human, not supernatural, not animal.”
“Especially the animals,” Attila stated as his eyes landed on Karlofstaff. “If an animal is broken and cannot heal, then a quick and merciful death. You are not to prolong its agony. Not for your amusement or anyone else’s. We found a horse in the stables which we put out of its misery,” he looked down at a great hulking Were that growled in defiance.
With a leap, The Hun was off the balcony and with his drawn sword, the Were’s head was on the floor. His body stood for a moment then collapsed.
With a look of disdain, Attila wiped his blade on the Were’s shirt. “Especially horses, you lower than Were shit asshole,” he glared.
Sheathing his sword, The Hun was back on the mezzanine. “If you cannot agree to this, then you need to bail out now. As in move your ass out of our kingdom. If you are caught…” his voice trailed off. “There are exceptions to every rule and there is a dungeon and the same will be done to you.”
Attila stepped back from the railing and Vlad stepped forward.
“Catherine’s medieval perverted circus days are over. We live in the 21stcentury. Make the leap and stand with us. There is not much left of the dark. Enjoy what time you have left. Rest well this day.”
They watched as the room emptied.
“It was a very good night, my king,” The Hun said to Vlad.
“A very good night, my king,” Vlad replied with a sweeping bow.
“How long do you think it will hold?” Attila asked.
Vlad chuckled. It was a low raspy sound…like someone walking through dead leaves. “Until they get a better offer.” Looking long and hard at his friend, he shrugged. “Those that work in the palace I believe will continue to do so. Especially if they think they might receive some type of coin payment. There is an extensive library in the basement. Left over from the previous ruler, Georgie. Those manuscripts are worth a fucking fortune. We’ll start there and get the staff paid.”
“What do you think those Roman artifacts will fetch?” Attila asked.
“Some money but not as much as the manuscripts. I saw a couple of Torahs in that collection. I will talk to Eric. He will be interested in those.”
The Hun raised an eyebrow. “Since when is The Viking Jewish?”
“Since his brother is Samuel Da’vid,” Vlad responded.
“Oh come on Vlad,” Attila rolled his eyes. “Da’vid! A myth and a legend! One that Eric winks about on those nights when he is winning at cups and has charmed all the ladies.”
Vlad smiled. “Did you ever notice how The Viking always has the same amount of money. No more, no less. But always the same. You spend a big night out whoring and drinking and Eric says he will buy and there goes all his cash and the next night that you see him, he always has the same amount of money.”
“And…” Attila frowned at him. “He budgets. We all do.”
“No,” Vlad shook his head. “We don’t. If you spend 10,000 Krone one night do you have 10,000 Krone the next night to also spend? And the next, and the next and the next?
We went from a month of partying in Norway to British Isle and he had 10,000 in sterling that he spent each night for a month. That was back in the day when you actually paid in cash. Eric is not flashy with his money, but he always has money. Which means there is a bank that supplies him wherever he is. And he has been a lot of places.”
“Well…we all have money…” Attila replied as he patted around in his pockets. Taking out his wallet he had a couple of hundreds and two twenties.
“Taken from the ATM? Taxi money?” Vlad chuckled. “You certainly do not have enough there to leave town in a hurry if you had to.”
“I see your point,” The Hun nodded. “But why have you paired him with this boogie man of the wealthy?”
“Well, Eric seemed to be very well informed about the BitCoin fiasco and was nice enough to pass that along to us.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “And that Catherine was going to meet the true death and asked us if we wanted the job.”
“He has his ways,” The Hun responded.
Vlad nodded replied, “Yes he does. But I was here three hundred years ago, the last time Queen Bitch had him. I arrived about this time of year. He had been here for three months and had spent that dark strapped to the pillars of the second arch. The sun was coming and everyone was gone so I unchained Eric and carried him down with me because she had gone to her chambers and there was just not one fucking anyone left to see to him.
I woke from my day rest because I could hear Eric crying in what sounded like joy. ‘Samuel,’he was weeping, ‘my brother…’”
Looking through the blackness I could see a short man and hear his loved filled words. ‘Sh-h-h, my brother. I have you now. The God of my fathers will see us through this.’ And vamp speed, they were gone.”
“So, The Da’vid, he not only runs the money markets and the banks, but can day walk as well?” Attila hooted.
“I believe so,” Vlad replied, his tone serious. “I will talk up the Torahs to Eric and ask him if his brother would help us invest whatever money we find here in material goods.”
Attila smiled at his partner. “Just in case the money boogey man really does exist, I am game. But sunrise is coming. Where do we sleep?”
“Good question. Since we know our way around our hotel, let us head back there.”
“I like your suggestions,” The Hun smiled. “A shower, a meal, some rest. This,” he looked out from the mezzanine, “this is going to take a while.”
“Oh,” Drac felt a vibration in his pocket, “a message from Eric,” Vlad said tapping the screen. “He has money matters he wishes to discuss. Wants to know if it is all right if he starts with Mercer and Homer before we rise…”
“So, now The Viking is a day walker as well,” Attila shook his head and rolled his eyes. “By all means, get his ass over here and money in our vault before we rise.”
“Come on,” Vlad sent back. “I will leave word to expect you.”
It was morning and Sookie stood looking out the window of their dacha as it snowed. There were trees as far as the eyes could see. The mountains that surrounded them, rising up like the teeth of a giant alligator. Her herbal tea was refreshing and the blintz that was filled with sour cream and strawberries was rolled up smartly and delicious as well.
“I have to ask, Eric,” she looked over at him, “how is it that Catherine found you the last time?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I woke up and I was being transported. After several days of traveling by land, I woke up and I was there.”
Sookie was watching the landscape and wondering how the impossible had happened. “I know vamps have super powers, but looking out over all this vastness, how in the world is it even possible that she located you? I know how careful you are.”
“I often wondered. At the back of my mind, I thought I was betrayed. But I did not know by whom.”
“Mo’ fo’n,” O.I. rumbled. “The godmothers…!” he spit out.
“Yes and it just pisses me off,” Eric scowled. “They do not use their powers for good. Or at least the one that calls herself Catherine’s sorceress does not,” he was frowning. “I would like to take a walk about through their manor home, or maybe one of their heads…” he hissed.
Sookie reached over and patted his hand.
“Lover,” he was thoughtful. “Is it too early to go calling at the palace?” he asked.
“No,” Sookie stepped away from the window to her husband. Lovingly she ran her hand down his face. “I don’t think so. People should be up. And the kings did not specify a time. Said they would be expectin’ us. It is mid-morning.”
“Soonest would be for the better. I need to speak with Homer and Mercer. Before folks start opening up all the boxes, we need to get their gold out and tucked away and making money.
Samuel,” he smiled at his brother. “You feel up to doing your good deed for the day?”
“I will be a blessing to who ever has been a blessing to you my brother,” he replied. “Let the show of money force, begin.”
“Let me make a call and let Mercer and Homer know we are on our way. They will make whatever small provisions they can to make us welcome. But do not expect much. This palace was not built for humans. It can barely be tolerated by most supes.”
The trip to the palace was uneventful and the car was warm. Inside the walls of the palace, Sookie would find, this was a different matter.
Homer and Mercer were standing outside to greet them and proudly lead them to their office. When their visitors stepped out of the car they both took a step back and quickly they led them inside, away from prying eyes.
Homer and Mercer could only bow and introduce themselves as Eric introduced his entourage. There stood Eric’s father…his father…their eyes went up, up, up!
And the small vampire…they were trembling with fear, joy, and would gladly work for him with righteous servitude. The Da’vid!
The Mrs…how lovely, how beautiful…how brimming with life!
After the how do’s were said, things were sorted out. Eric’s father and his brother,the Da’vid,they both looked at each other and wanted to openly weep with the great expectations that were to come, went downstairs to access the library, leaving them to escort Eric and his bride!
Sookie noticed everything. A big, hulking structure on the outside but inside…this was not anyone’s idea of a palace. Or maybe that was her human talking! Wind whistled down the corridors! There was even snow blowing through the windows. She could see where there had been glass windows. Seriously, Catherine had borrowed the windows! What a cheap bitch! This…this reminded her more of a big stone box that had been stripped of any type of civilization!
The cold followed them. Once they were proudly shown into the accountants office, a chair was presented to her with a bow!
Sitting in with the accountants, just getting her teeth not to chatter was an event. “Damn,” she shivered. “It is just cold in here!”
Eric drew the fur blanket more tightly around her and tucked her into the chair.
“We need to get your gold out of here,” Eric began. “I have brought help.”
Around Sookie’s neck there was a beautiful dragon torque that held her layers together. Then the dragon raised its head.
“This is O.I., guardian to my wife and king of the dragons,” he began.
The two accountants just watched the dragon as he unfurled! Said nothing….and…watched…the…dragon! Who was now fluttering in the air. No, nothing surprising here! This is The Viking! The dead shall rise up and spit gold and…and… he knows a dragon! And just not any dragon, according to Eric’s introduction. But the king of the dragons! Well why not! Catherine was dead at Eric’s hands and he fucking knew the king of the dragons! So…so…so…there was more than one dragon!
The morning progressed. At noon, a small picnic lunch was provided. Sookie ate while the talking continued at first taking off her gloves and then hurriedly pulling them back on.
“We are so sorry my lady,” Homer bowed for the 10thtime. “The fireplace in here has not worked in centuries. Mr. Manroe, the building manager, he has people working on that right now. Ever since last night, when the kings let us know you would be here during the day…” Homer’s voice trailed off. Yes, there stood Eric. King Vlad had not been kidding when he said The Viking could do remarkable things! Not that the sun could be seen behind all the clouds and snow, but neither did this vampire have the bleeds.
“I am sorry,” she looked kindly at the dwarf and gnome. “I am a guest here and I should not be complainin’. And I am grateful for the mug of hot water,” she smiled at them and they smiled back. “I can feel the heat of it through my gloves and that is real nice.” Their smiles got bigger.
“Eric decked me out all in fur before we left the house and when he snagged this blanket, I thought…well…really? All this and that too? I can see the wisdom in it now.”
There was a shrill whistle that came down the chimney. “All clear,” was followed by a voice. “Start the fire.”
“Mo’ fo’n,” O.I. fluttered over and looked up the flue. “Thank you kindly,” he yelled back and with a cough he started the kindling.
“Oh,” Sookie wiggled closer to the fire. “Better already!”
“Now that our beautiful, expectin’ princess is seen to,” O.I. bowed deeply and then raised her hand for a kiss. “And I have a map, I shall be off to fetch the gold.”
Then within a few minutes, O.I. was back. “Mo’ fo’n my prince,” he was eye-to-eye with Eric. “I done fetched the gold to the house. I took it from the hidey places, just like Homer and Mercer said. Followed their directions exactly.”
“What’s the problem?” Eric asked, looking concerned.
“Well, I was expectin’…well, not exactly a dragon’s hoard of wealth…but…” he turned and looked at Mercer and then Homer. “You two’s sure ‘bouts this map? I took what I founds there. Was not much? Would not fill that fireplace.”
“No,” they both nodded, “that is about right. Thank you so much for your help. We could never have gotten that away from here.”
“Okay then,” O.I. nodded. “More than glads to be of assistances to you and yours. If there is nothin’ else,” he bowed to the two accountants, “I ams back to my original duty.” Flying over to Sookie, he wrapped himself around her neck, holding her furs in place.
They blinked, and there around her neck was an exquisite piece of jewelry.
The four sat and talked about money for the next several hours. Eric talked trends while they made notes.
“We get the stock market exchanges on the radio for thirty minutes each night,” Mercer said. “We like the one out of London the best but when there are sun spots or heavy clouds, like tonight, things are a bit thin and we don’t always get the complete report.”
“That has left us hanging more than once,” Homer sighed. “We had to make some best guesses.They always turned out okay but there was once or twice I thought we were going to be tortured for days, for sure.
Oh…sorry Eric,” he sniffled a bit and reached over and patter Eric’s hand. “You are warm,” he smiled at him.
“Yes,” Eric smiled back. “And fertile, just in case anyone asks.”
“And who would be asking such a question?” Vlad stuck his head in the door.
“Fertile!” The Hun snorted in laughter as he walked in. “So, are we as rich as Midas?” he asked. “And Eric, you beat us here. You must be staying closer than we are.”
“I have been here for the past several hours, you sleepy heads,” he smiled at them. “Your royal highnesses,” he said standing and bowed, “I would like to present to you my wife, Mrs. Northman.”
“Hello,” Sookie grinned. “I would stand but I am not for sure I would ever be able to find my way back into my cocoon. I appreciate you guys getting the fireplace workin’. That takes the chill off. I can no longer see my breath.”
“My lady,” they both gave her great sweeping bows, “please, remain as you are.”
“Our kings,” both Mercer and Homer jumped up. “Please sit, and we shall fetch other chairs.”
“No need,” The Hun said as he flowed down to the surface and sat. “I sit on the floor.”
“Don’t be impressed,” Eric chuckled. “It is not a cultural thing. He can feel the vibrations of anyone approaching faster than he can smell them.”
“Smart ass,” Attila glared at Eric and then grinned. “So let’s talk business. We have a basement full of things that you may want. Torahs for example.”
“Yes,” came the voice from outside the door. “And also,” a short vampire walked in the door followed by an Eric look-alike. “Manuscripts that will be enough to generate money to keep this running in the green.”
“Gentlemen,” Eric smiled and bowed, “may I present to you Samuel Da’vid and my father, Eer-erikr.”
Both kings were just a little thunderstruck! They looked at Samuel. The looked at Er-erikr, then at Samuel, then back to Eric’s dad.
“We’ve been down in the catacombs,” Samuel said brushing the spider webs off his sleeve. “Georgie had a nice library collection. One of the best in the world during his time. I had wondered what had happened to it.”
Vlad blinked. “You wondered?”
“Yes, I would pass through here when I was out making my rounds. He was always cordial.”
“Did?” Attila sat up straighter, “did he happen to leave a gold fortune down there?”
“No,” Samuel shook his head. “I took his money to invest for him. Any dividends he made, he purchased books. This was actually a learning mecca back in the day. He welcomed just about anyone who did not want to stake him. He believed knowledge killed ignorance and you would find all sorts studying here.”
Both kings sorta nodded at that. This male was vampire. Old vampire. They understood that. So this really could be The Da’vid. But there was no understanding what Eric’s father was…
“Your father,” Vlad nodded to the older man, “your family, Eric, must live a long time.”
“That we do. It’s the dragon’s blood,” Eric smiled.
“Dragon’s blood,” Attila hooted. “Eric, forever and a day the bull-l-l-l-l-l-l….” his voice trailed off as O.I. raised up from around Sookie’s neck.
“Mo’ fo’n my prince and king,” he glared at The Hun. “To use such languages around our princess, do you wants me to flame him now or just chew his boy bits off so that they will never grow back?”
Everyone was laughing but Attila.
“No, O.I. that would not be for the best. He and Vlad co-rule here. I would hate to shove all this off onto Drac on such short notice. And besides, despite his bravado and flashing blue eyes, the ladies really do like his boy bits from what I have heard.”
“As you say, my prince,” O.I. arched an eyebrow at The Hun as he raised his paw and pointed two of his claws at his own eyes and then two claws at Attila’s baby blues.
“I am getting hungry and could use some dinner,” Sookie said as she started to stand.
“Of course Lady Northman,” Homer said standing. “We…we…”
Eric was shaking his head no. “That is most kind, but O.I., if you would see to our princess. I think home is for the best. And Lafayette will have a nice meal waiting for her.”
“Of course my prince,” he bowed, glared at The Hun, “my king,” he bowed to Er-erikr and helping Sookie from her chair, poof, they were gone.
There was no reaction from the room. Just like you saw folks poof out everyday. Homer and Mercer just continued to sort out seals and pens and papers. They had seen poofing earlier. Their gold had poofed and was now making money!
Vlad was still staring at the chair where Sookie had sat and Attila could not help himself. Reaching out with his hand he waved it back and forth where she had been and then drew it up next to his body, hoping no one had noticed.
“Let’s talk business,” Samuel said taking a ledger out of his pocket and everyone became focused. “I know the value of Georgie’s library. There are several pieces that are outstanding and will bring top dollar if you were to auction them off. The problem with that is if you auction them off, the world is going to know that you have money and Catherine owed everyone.
I am more than willing to offer you fair market value. With this money, I can set up an account that will earn interest that you can draw from to run your kingdom. There will be a maximum amount you can draw daily so that a great big expense, no matter how tempting, gets a 24 hour cooling off period and talk about.
We would run your money through Lloyd’s. British Isle can easily be your go between. He will do this for a small fee. The same can be said for the king of Eire where your money shall be in the Danske Bank and Miss Pamela, whom I believe you have had the pleasure of meeting, will handle your money in the U.S. She has her favorites and who ever is paying the most interest is where you money could be on any particular day.”
“So, we have just been handled, I believe is the term,” Vlad said as he watched the room.
“By the best,” Eric replied, “If this is what you want.”
Both vampire kings looked at each other and shrugged. “We would like to hear more,” Vlad said.
“As you can see,” Samuel continued on, “we are keeping your money off the continent and away from prying eyes.
I know not all approve of my banking habits and seek their own accord. You are more than welcome too,” he looked from Vlad to Attila. “I merely suggest this route as a favor to my brother.
You should take your time to consider this. Check your resources. You can certainly do this on your own. But I must stress, only do business with the auction houses in British Isle, Eire, or the U.S. Sotheby’s would be a good place to start. Ask for Alma. She is trustworthy and will not discuss her clients.”
“And you will buy all of it from us, invest the money, transport it and we can call this done,” Attila said. “How much is coming to us?”
“One billion,” Samuel said. “After all is said and done, that is about what you would make if it went to auction. Of course, after the auction, you would be paying handling, shipping and taxes on that money. So you could deduct about one-half, just off the top.”
“But with you, one billion,” Vlad breathed out. “And, we could be earning interest on this billion?”
“Yes, but I take a percentage,” Samuel replied. “So minus my ten percent of handling your money, yes. Then, who ever you want to set up your account or accounts, they will get one percent for handling your money in their country. You should take some time and discuss this,” Samuel bowed to each of them.
“You really do exist…” the Hun said in wonder to Samuel.
“The money boogey man? Yes,” he grinned. “So, take your time…”
“No need,” Attila nodded in agreement. “Eric trusts you and calls you brother. Is there anything you can do for us now.”
“Yes. We can begin by paying your staff. Do you want Hryvnia’s or Euro’s or a mixture of both?”
Both kings shrugged.
“Accountants, what say you?” Vlad asked.
“Hryvnia’s and…and…” Mercer paused. “Can we ask them when they come in to receive their money? I know some have sent money to relatives and have to pay the exchange rate.”
“We can do that. How much would you suggest I bring in?” Samuel asked.
“That would be hard to say? My kings,” Homer looked at them. “How much do we pay them?”
“Is there a pay schedule somewhere?” Attila asked.
“No,” they both shook their heads. “When we had money to pay, we all got the same amount.”
“That’s fair,” Attila nodded. “So what? Two thousand a month? That is what I pay my driver. I know that is high for this area and we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves…”
“We will tell them it includes back pay until we get this figured out,” Vlad was thoughtful. “We don’t want to overnight go from being the most economically depressed region to being one of the wealthiest.”
Samuel smiled and nodded. “Good, you see the problems that lurk, ready to devour you. You need a product to sell. Something that would help to explain this turnabout of good fortune.”
“Make it human habitable and market it as the haunted palace of the late vampire queen of the old empire,” Eric said. “The lords and ladies of England have been doing it for several years now. They can no longer afford the upkeep of the family manse so they let tourists in to look, gawk, and sometimes even sleep. And hell, we even have the romantic haunted Rhine sleep over that Hershey owns. I think he is doing well.”
“That could work,” Vlad nodded. “Attila, what think you?”
“Clear out some trees, put in some cross country trails. Snow shoeing, sledding. Spooks in your bedchamber, catacombs to wonder with candle in hand. That could work,” he nodded in agreement.
“We will leave you gentlemen to your evening’s work. I believe me and mine are headed to the catacombs,” Eric said rising.
“Time to get started,” Samuel grinned. “There is money in the trunk of my car,” he said passing the keys to Attila. “I’ll be downstairs until I am not. If you have questions, seek me there.”
As they stood to leave, Attila looked at the two accountants that were busy at their desk, talking quietly between themselves. “All this is high level risk,” The Hun said, leveling his piercing gaze on Eric. “Can these two be trusted?”
Homer and Mercer looked up from their figures, reading only too clearly was on The Hun’s face!
Eric smiled at Attila then at the two accountants. “With my life,” he said softly. “When Vlad found me and carried me down that morning, it was not the first time I had been left to greet the sun. Mercer and Homer were the only ones brave enough to side-step Catherine’s disdain and carry me to safety. If Vlad had not done so, they would have.” Tears formed in his eyes. “For a month she beat me and denied me blood. Because of Mercer’s pity, that is why she picked his daughter to chain with me, hoping I would drain her. Because of my misery, the child took her own life.” Eric blinked back the tears. “I hope that bitch is burning in Sookie’s God’s hell. I hope she is starving and is a never-ending feast for others just as depraved as herself.” Eric righted himself and shook off the old days.
“And because of their kindness to me, they fall under my protection. My brother has seen to it that they have a retirement account. They do not need to stay here and work for you. So be nice to them until you can find someone you can trust to take their place.
I am downstairs if you need me. I am going to help Samuel and also, look for the sorceress’s lair that she had working for her. Somewhere on the property is a place of dark enchantment. When we find it, Samuel will douse it with his holy salt and call upon his God to cleanse this place of evil.”
“What?” Vlad and Atilla both took a step back.
“Yes, she had her witches that came and went and some came and stayed as her next meal. But there has been one that has stood by her side since I was taken and brought here. The witches were broom riders and could speak to the dead if the moon was full and brushed the floors with rosemary. They were women practicing their craft and attempting to earn a living by doing so. But this one, she is evil.”
“We thank you Eric,” Atilla nodded. “Happy browsing. Do you need our help?”
“We have no secrets,” he said. “Come on down if you wish. Samuel is a joy to behold when he is on the hunt.”
“He would not mind?” Vlad asked.
“No, Pamela has certainly been entertained by him.”
Both kings registered that on their faces. Pamela…huh…this could be entertaining or just down right scary or both.
“Thank you, we’ll be right down, once we settle here,” Vlad nodd.
Eric and Samuel disappeared. They apparently knew their way around better than they did. It was time to go to work. Attila and Vlad went out to the car. The money was brought in canvas bags and placed on the floor. There looked to be a couple of million!
“However you do this,” Vlad place a bag on the table. “They have to understand that we all want to prosper. Tell them for now, we are paying them out of our own pockets.”
“I would not my king,” Mercer said shaking his head. “Others will appear with their hands out wanting to be paid thusly out of your coffers. It would be best to tell the staff we have sold the crown jewels.”
“Were shit,” he growled. “How do we do this?”
“We will give them money to spend. Three hundred is more than generous. We will tell them that there will be money until the crown jewels runs out.”
Both kings nodded.
Homer was running numbers while Mercer talked. “The world will know that the crown jewel money will not last very long. Those royals that she owed will complain long and loudly about not getting a breathe of coin from that transaction, but they have all bitched before.
I have been researching casinos,” he continued on, taking a brochure out of his desk. “Start small with a couple of Kino and slot machines and as our bed and breakfast empire grows, we can expand to a bit bigger. We would never want to push past the footprint of our building…” he let that thought trail off. “I think the burned out area could be retrofitted for humans and once the subfloors are cleared out, vampires could sleep there.
My kings,” he looked hopeful. “If we could get the BBC financial on the radio, we would have a better feel for what the real world is doing.”
“What?” came the started reply from both.
“Some days it is impossible to get the signal,” Homer said, taking out a key and unlocking a cabinet door and showing them the small transistor radio they had to listen to.
“Were shit…” Vlad could not believe his eyes.
“We track the trends the best we can,” Homer fondly patted the small piece of electronic equipment that was their link to the world. “We like BBC the best.”
“We will see to this,” Attila was looking in disbelief at the small metal transistor radio from the 1960’s that they held more precious than their lives and then at the two who had run this place on pennies.
“Thank you,” Attila bowed to them. “Apparently we cannot pay you what you are worth, but we would be grateful for any and all help. Please stay and see us through this. We are going to call a gathering of those that are here and explain this. That might make things easier for you.”
The two kings bowed and then they were gone to break the news. There was money but with conditions.
Standing on the mezzanine the two kings explained their financial situation. Everyone was listening. They were going to get paid a wage! A haunted palace and small casino! Yes, they could give up the burned out wing and outfit it for humans. There were other places in the palace that were never used. They could render those supernatural friendly.
“The money from her crown jewels will only carry us so far,” Attila stressed. “Word will pass that our small part of the world is flush with money. They will all come with their hands out. You have survived on next to nothing for centuries. Please, be prudent just a bit longer.”
“Our kings,” Boris from the dungeon stepped up. “What about the sorceress? From time-to-time she appears below and threatens to dissolve my bones and make shoes from my hide if I do not give her my pennies.”
“Even as we speak,” Vlad held up his hand as many took a step back and looked anxious. “That is being dealt with. The Viking is down in the catacombs now looking for her lair. He has with him a holy man and they know what to do once her nest is found.
If we are finished here, The Hun and I are on our way down there to help this along. You know what needs to be done. We will check in later and let you know what we have found.”
“What if someone comes calling?” Leah asked.
“If they want money, send them to the accountants. If they want to see us about money, send them to the accountants. If they want just to see us and pass the time and wish us well….” Both kings snorted with mirth, “tell them we are still cleaning house,” Vlad laughed. “And they are welcome to join us if they would like to shovel shit. Literally. Quote me.”
“Yes our kings,” she smiled and curtsied.
With a wave of their hands, the two royals started for the catacombs. They walked to the door that would take them down to the basement level and then past that.
“What is more amazing? Da’vid really exists? Eric’s father is still alive or that Eric really is descended from dragons and he has one to prove it,” The Hun laughed.
“Fuck,” Vlad sighed. “What is truly remarkable is that transistor radio. They have run this place by listening to sketchy reports from the BBC. Our accountants just might have a way out of this mess for us.”
Eric and his brother were walking about and watching for anything that held a variance. Hell, maybe she really did have money hidden down here. At the end of a corridor, it emptied out into a vast room.
“The palace was built on a monastery,” Samuel said as they stood and viewed the large chamber of the cave where the library wasstacked… “the catacombs are farther down.”
“Dad,” Eric was looking around, “does this remind you of any place in particular?”
“It sounds like the description that Fairly gave of what was under the fairy godmothers home. “
“What?” Samuel asked.
“Fairly, the daughter of a fairy godmother who was killed as the ringleader during the Unholy Wars. Fairly’s description of the basement and the way these books are stacked are very similar.”
“We thought the sorceress was fae,” Eric was cataloguing the scene in his mind. “Let’s bring Sookie and O.I. back in. They are going to want to see this. Plus, O.I. can recruit a few of his fellow dragons and move this to wherever you want.”
“Thanks, that’s handy. Could have used that during our tomb raiding days,” Samuel chuckled.
Eric just grinned. “Sookie and O.I. are incoming. Vlad and Attila are on their way down. They should be here any minute as well. Time to get to work.”
Sookie trekked along with the others, O.I. lighting the torches that, according to Samuel, would have been down here for a couple of thousand years.
“When the Christians fled Jerusalem,” Samuel began his history lesson, “they were looking for places of sanctuary. As they spread out, this sect came here and made a home above this cave. The cave provided a constant temperature during the winter and a place to put their dead. Ah, here we are,” he said pushing open the iron-gate that swung open without a squeak. “Georgie had that gate made and then installed. He was so proud of it. One dark he brought me down and showed it off and told me he had the Star of David incorporated into it just in case there were Jews buried down here.
I did not tell him that at one time, the original Christians had probably all been Jews.”
There in the center of the gate was a Star of David.
“He must have liked you,” Sookie ran her hand across the star and the gate easily pivoted. “Now that’s odd,” she said pushing the iron-gate purposefully back and forth. “Not a sound. I grease the gate to our side garden, but it still squeals when you push on it.”
“It’s been oiled,” Samuel said taking a sniff. “So she has been this way. I don’t smell anyone, but we must be getting closer,” he said as they entered the burial chamber area.
Neatly built into the cave were the crypts of those who had lived and died, here. Placed next to each other, forgotten for an eternity until now.
“Up ahead,” Eric said as he motioned with his hand. “There appear to be skeletons piled up…
Sookie, follow slowly,” Eric said. “O.I. provide some light for her feet so she can see and guard her well.”
“On that my prince,” the dragon was on alert as the rest of the men went forward and the lovely lady and the dragon walked carefully, behind. The men reached the end of the corridor first.
“So this is why Catherine had no money for the last century or so,” Vlad was looking around the room that had been created by pulling out the skeletons and knocking down the walls that had been built to house them.
The room was at the end of the corridor. It was perhaps 20 feet by 20 feet and it was knee high in gold and jewels. In the center was a bare floor that held a fire pit with a tripod and a cauldron hanging from it.
Samuel had already begun reciting the Psalms. Nothing appeared to stir at the holy words as Eric and the boys peered in and was watching for anything unusual or threatening.
“How goes it?” Sookie called out.
“All clear,” Eric responded. “But be careful.”
Eric watched her approach. O.I. was providing light for her feet. Which was good because this was truly now a bone yard.
“Damn, I hate walking on a stray bone,” she said when she heard the crunch. “Sorry, no disrespect intended,” she said softly. “Please rest well. I am sorry you were disturbed in such a fashion by such an unholy bitch.”
Eric grinned. His wife was many things, respectful was one of them.
“Just like something out of The Brothers Grimm,” Sookie said arriving and looking around. “As a matter of fact…” she paused, “it is a whole lot like from The Brothers Grimm. All those ravens done in black and white on the wall. And that little girl wearing a cape. That could be Red. And then of course, there is that panting of Eric on that altar.”
“Were shit,” he hissed.
“Mo fo’n my prince,” O.I. fluttered over and took a sniff. “She has done and built you a cookie house for you to abide in.”
“Look at the walls!” the king of the fae was seething. “That is a directional spell she has surrounded you with. Only….” Taking a step up, he was now walking on air as he made his way to the altar. “The ordinal directions are wrong on that compass. The cardinal directions are as well.”
Still standing outside the room, Eric got his bearings and turned to face True North. “This way is North, she has it as South East. So she’s been down here trying to…to…” he waved his hands around, “something meand…” he started laughing. “Were shit…” was all he was able to get out.
Vlad looked at Eric and shook his head. “Some sorceress is gunning for you and you think this is funny? And how do you know that way is North? And your father can walk on air!”
“Yes I can. It’s my dragon blood. And pointing True North is something he inherited from his father,” Er-erikr replied. “You can’t get us lost.”
“This dumb bitch has been sitting down here cooking her who knows what,” Eric eyed the cauldron, “and draining Catherine of her money. Gawd gambling debts, she told the accountants. Instead, she had been handing it over to her sorceress and getting nothing in return. Damn…I like it.”
O.I. was chortling as he looked about the room. Slapping his thigh he fluttered up to check the corners. Sticking out his tongue, it appeared he was tasting the air. “Dumber than harpy shit,” he laughed. “She’s got this orientated by the directions at home. No energy lines cross here. Mo’ fo’n my prince. Yous is right. Just dumber than Were shit.”
“That might be,” Sookie was looking around, “but what has she been cookin’ in that pot? And is it safe to walk in there?”
“No,” was the resounding answer from everyone present.
“Touch nothing,” Eric said as Samuel spread his arms heavenward and recited the 23rdPsalm. Reaching into the leather bag that he had carried with him, he took out the rock salt and with a blessing, began to scatter it about the room.
Occasionally there would be a groan or a rumble when the salt would make contact with crowns that looked like they were covered in blood spatter. When Samuel was standing at the cauldron, the little black pot said, “Stop where you are and lie down and die!”
“No,” was all Samuel replied as he poured salt into the pot. There was the smell of sulfur and vomit as a green cloud came boiling out and over the side and disappeared into the floor.
“We need coffee,” Eric’s dad said as he surveyed the room. “Just to be on the safe side.”
“Coffee?” Attila and Vlad said together.
“Just to make sure she has not poisoned the jewels.”
“Poisoned the jewels?” they echoed. “She would have…?”
“Yes,” Sookie replied. “She is a mean bitch on top of everything else.”
“If it is her own local poison, coffee should clean it. Then, we get this to pass muster,” Eric was nodding, “and you can tell the world you found Catherine’s hoard and use this money to pay off debts.”
“It’s jewelry,” Vlad said eyeing the room and the small vampire who was spreading salt around and…oh…that last crown screamed in its dying death throes!
“It could be poisoned jewelry,” Sookie said kissing Eric’s hand and reaching over, she took her father-in-law’s hand as well. “We have seen this bitch work this before.”
O.I. popped out and then back in with several gallons of coffee from Starbucksand a dish tub. “I have brought some family. We will move the jewels to a cell and the rinsing can commence.
Brother Samuel,” the small dragon bowed, “You shows us where you want these books stored and we is happy to do so.”
“Thank you O.I.”, Samuel offered him a small bow. “If I might accompany you. We are headed to my penthouse in New York. My staff will start sorting them, there. Clifford knows what to do.”
As the dragons went to work, they walked back to the library.
“And these have not been spelled?” Vlad was looking over the documents.
“No,” Samuel carefully picked up a book and opened it. “This was a monastery. All these books are spiritual in nature. They would have held no interest for her and she would have been fearful of touching them.”
“How can you tell?” Attila asked.
“Here is the padded jacket and the gloves she wore to move them. She did not want them to come into contact with her body. And since many believe evil can track you by smell,” Samuel picked up the jacket and took a whiff. “No smell. Nothing to identify her.”
“Now that’s interestin’,” Sookie was looking around as the dragons went to work popping things out. “So, who ever moved the books in the basement of the other library, they did not want to touch those either.”
“So it would seem,” Eric replied. “Good point my wife,” he pondered that thought. “A very good point.”
“Other library?” The Hun eyed Eric.
“Yes. This is the second one to be in such disarray. And if the pattern holds, whoever did this poisoned my mother and I do believe betrayed me to Catherine.
Her death will not be quick or pleasant.”
“The Living Death,” the king of the fae snarled. “I curse this bitch, whoever she is, with The Living Death.”
All the dragons stopped what they were doing and stretching their necks out straight, a single vibration came from them as every thing around them for a moment glowed blue then faded away.
“Living Death…” Vlad began slowly, wondering if Eric would have more blue lightning flowing from his pores. “I guess you do not mean vampire.”
“Not even close,” Eric’s fangs dropped. “Not even fucking close.”
The jewelry was dunked into a favorite human breakfast drink and then burned with a little dragon fire. The door to the cell was locked and Boris stood guard with Homer and Mercer inside with the jewelry doing inventory.
Eric and his crew had gone home for the evening. Vlad and Attila were making their way back up the steps to the main level.
“Maybe, just maybe, there will be no need to become innkeepers after all,” Vlad said as they stepped up out of the stairwell and onto another sub floor. They stuck their heads into the accountants’ office.
“Good, looks like the internet is up and running. I see a couple of new computers and if they don’t know how to run those, a brand new satellite radio with a million channels. And all the financial news you care to listen too.”
“Do you think there is enough there to explain our windfall?” Attila asked as they secured the door and walked up the stairs to the mezzanine.
“Yes…maybe…damn…I don’t know. I hope Mercer and Homer hang with us for a little longer. Until at least all this gets straightened out. It would be good to be out of debt. To everyone. Not having to wonder who the hell was pounding on your outer door or wanting to burn you out. But the important thing is that the jewels will give us a plausible explanation for the wealth. We’ll just let the interest off the billion carry us the rest of the way, to include repairs.”
They both laughed.
“Who would have thought it?” Attila asked. “Here we stand, kings of all we see…which is not much.”
“Certainly not me,” Vlad answered and then sniffed. And then sniffed again.
“Cici,” he cried out as he began running up the stairs.
“My brother, Mundzuck,” Attila sniffed, looked around and saw a young man approaching him. Vamp speed, Attila had him in a bear hug and danced him around the room! “Where have you been? How is this possible? Who returned you to us?”
“Mo fo’n” the young Hun prince looked puzzled but happy. “I was locked in an underground chamber, surrounded by silver. As I lay there dreaming, I heard someone talking in a language I did not recognize…all I could understand was mo’ fo’n. I hope it is as nasty as it sounds.”
“It is my brother,” he hugged him even tighter. “It is. Now, come, are you hungry?”
“Not really. I think I fed in my sleep. At least I dreamed I was feeding. Ah-h-h-h, my brother, are we in Catherine’s palace?”
“Well yes,” he sighed. “And that is a long story. But it is going to have a happy ending.” Because after all, The Viking bled blue fire, could day walk, and had a pregnant wife and could walk through walls. What could possibly go wrong!
The boys in the band were back in the palace. Their gig was contracted until the New Year. Those dates just might hold.
They were looking around at the changes that were being made and setting up on the mezzanine again to play. Things had certainly transformed in the past twenty-four hours. Good improvements, from what they could tell. For starters, the place was clean! It not only looked clean but it smelled clean! And they heard the rumor that windows were on there way!
There was a party going on the main floor! Listening to the chatter, apparently Catherine’s hoard had been found and folks were coming around and actually getting paid!
Moe was watching a little redhead on the floor and counting his blessings. They had been here through some horrific times here…well hell…every time they had played here had been horrific! Never knowing if you were walking out with your undead life or not!
This was sweet! The two new kings out doing the meet and greet and everyone just getting along!
It was good to be performing a gig where you did not have to worry for your life, the life of your audience or the life of your equipment. In the past, they did not get paid much, if any at all, when they played for royalty and often, what money they made was spent to replace smashed equipment. Those fucking royals really wanted to be rock stars and would insist on coming on stage…just so they could sing karaoke and then break something!
Apparently the new rulers were flush with money and they were getting paid! Mercer and Homer had said so! “Damn, we are making money tonight! Union wage! Sweet!” Moe could not explain it nor, he stressed to himself, did he have to. Apparently the universe was righting itself and was starting in the old bitch’s palace!
“H-man, what key are we singing in tonight? We have the makings of a pretty nice crowd. All happy, happy and teaching those who don’t know how to line dance. Hell, King Vlad has got some moves. Really seems to understand the nuances of the two-step. We could get going as soon as we set up.”
“What?” Herman’s voice held a shocked note. He removed his shades and looked at Moe. “Moses Buchannan of the Clan Buchannan, youngest son and your father’s only nitwit child. Are you passing up your right to decide which gawdawful key we shall sing in so that we might amuse you?”
“Well, maybe I am still recovering from the old dark,” he nodded, his voice low and a bit edgy. “Seeing a dragon was bad enough! Not everyday you get to see The Viking and his Mrs. dance through a wall! And I don’t care what you fuckwads say. I saw two men and a woman standing right there,” he pointed, “under that last arch. They just sorta turned to vapor and disappeared as well.”
“So now he is a ghost whisperer,” Larry chortled. “Poor Moe, he finally has some money and has gone bat shit crazy. His life is never on track.”
Moe growled and threw a drumstick at their lead guitar. Catching it easily, Larry tossed it to Curly who gave them a big braaaaaaa rump pa pa pum! on the snare drum.
“Well, I enjoyed seeing Eric’s family. Miss Sookie is a beautiful dancer and Eric’s father is a handsome man,” Jules added.
“Oh fuck!” Moe said in disgust. “That’s right, just keep talking in up. The Viking and his magical ways! Dragons and pregnant brides and…and…his father!
Ooooo-rahhhhh! As we used to say before we charged the battle line while I still lived and breathed and had no common sense at all. Let’s just toss all that out there for me to deal with as well. I am still saying the rosary every morning before I go to my day rest! You know how I get when things don’t sit right with me.”
They all broke into laughter.
“I suspect your mother’s tit did not sit well with you on the day you were born,” Herman put his shades back on. “Key of G, no sharps, no flats.”
“What?” Came Moe’s horrified response! “There is no such thing! You mean the key of C with not sharps or flats,” Moe growled at him.
“I mean, fuckwad, there is no such thing when you are not in a snit about something! Do your fucking job. It is not much around here. So pick the fucking key and let’s get this started. We have fans here tonight,” he smiled and waved to those below who started tossing flowers up to them and whistling and applauding! “Let’s give them a show!”
When the music started, there was much cheering and singing along. Apparently those here tonight had spent some time doing the things that they were singing about! There were many John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe fans as well as that set the crowd off with foot stomping and hands pounding out the rhythm on the floors when they would turn and begin the next round of the line dance Tango With the Sheriff.
Eric stood on the small, upper balcony tucked into the shadows, watching his friends down below having a good time as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
“I knew,” he said as he felt his father step in behind him. “I knew this day was coming. I could see it. When I was a boy, I dreamed of this place. The rooms, the winter when I looked out the windows. The coldness of the stonewalls and the heat from the fireplace.
Then, when my maker brought me here, the dream changed to a nightmare. I wanted to run from it…but in my day rest dreams, I could see all those that she had tortured and killed that had gone on before me. They would smile at me and applaud and they gave me a sense of peace.
I knew that…that Catherine would torture me but that I would survive.
And then the reality of it…while she tortured me, through my pain I could see it…a vision would take me that peace was coming to those that she spit upon and destroyed. This…this song…” he laughed through his tears. “I would dream about it when I saw the people dancing and full of joy. The words made no sense, but I could see them singing along and I knew that joy was now theirs to have and to keep for the rest of their days.
I love you Father,” he said as he turned to the man who had given him life. Wrapping his arms around him, he put his head on his dad’s shoulder and cried.
* Friends in Low Places.Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee. 1989