Vampire Slayer Ferdie, Chapter five:
We seek the princess, Bobetta Kiwi, ruler of the kingdom of San Viano.
The denizens of San Viano are, by now, more than used to even the strangest of events taking place in their thriving little Californian city. No sight is too unusual now or any explosion cause for too much unrest among the citizenry. Between a pair of police officers who seemingly demolish at least three city blocks a week, a detective agency that specializes in the weird and supernatural whether they want to or not, and a mafia boss with a lot of enemies (and superior taste) nothing is sacred and no one is really safe. In San Viano you're either too stubborn to leave or too accustomed to the chaos to care. Granted the city fathers regularly cry themselves to sleep at night but at least the natives know their tax dollars are well spent and not slipped into some greedy politicians pocket (every penny goes towards the rebuilding fund).
All this perfectly explains why, when a crew of the oddest individuals to visit the city to date suddenly stumbled out of an alley and into downtown traffic, the cabbie that nearly hit them only slammed on his breaks, muttered a few chose oaths then offered them a ride.
Hey folks, if you needed a cab, you coulda just whistled, no sense in getting yourselves flattened, the crow cheerfully called. Where can I take you guys, convention hall?
Take, Blade coldly inquired.
The crow studied his next possible fare. They had to be either diehard sci-fi fanatics, albeit with very strange taste, or going to one bizarre costume party. Yeah, where do you need a ride to? Tell me where it is and I'll get you there in a snap.
You will lead us to the castle where the princess resides.
The best the poor crow could come up with a response was, Huh?
Isis elbowed her partner in the ribs to shut him up. We wish to go to the Kingston estate, the castle where Princess Bobetta lives. You can
take us there?
Kingston Estate? Oh yeah sure, no problem, the crow responded. Going to be a bit of a squeeze, good things this is a station wagon. The big guy can ride in the back. Names Edgar by the way, welcome to San Viano.
In true gentlemanly fashion, Edgar hopped out and opened the backseat so Isis could get in. Blade slid in after her and turned to glare at the minions trying to follow. You will remain with Bijou, he snarled.
Laughing a bit nervously, Edgar shut the door and walked to the back of the cab where he swung open the trunk. Fortunately he'd had low seats put in, just in case. Nice costume, he said to the seven-foot plus thing covered in what looked like orange shag carpeting. The thing rumbled something in response and got in. The other two squished themselves in after it.
So where are you folks from, Edgar said conversationally as he pulled away from the curb. The cab swung into the traffic and immediately began imitating an Indy 500 car.
We came from the wildlands, Blade replied, tone superior.
LA huh? Gotta give you guys props for being so brave. No, no, I'm just kidding. I've heard Los Angeles can be nice in the winter. Less smog. Me, I hail from the big apple. Best place on earth if you ask me. Learned to drive a cab there. There was a yelping and some snarls from the back as the cab suddenly cut across three lanes of traffic to make the onramp. Behind them came the sound of honking and swearing as Edgar flipped someone off.
Now they know how to drive in New York, the crow continued as they merged onto the expressway. Not like around here, everyone is too laid back. I've only been here a few months but I can already tell, most folks here wouldn't make it a day in *my* city. Don't worry; I already know this place like the back of my hand. You gotta know every shortcut in this town just to get around; seems like every other week a new section of town is under reconstruction. Can't figure out why this place falls apart so often. They keep the roads in good condition though so you gotta give them credit for that. If you can ignore all the freakin' construction.
Isis watched, somewhat fascinated, as the scenery whipped by. There seemed to be dozens of these metal transports on the extremely wide road but few of them moved as erratically as their conveyance. Several other riders seemed to be showing their admiration for the crow as they shouted or made encouraging gestures. The Slayer came from a very odd world, she concluded, but incredibly fascinating.
So, you folks are going to a costume party, Edgar inquired. Unsure of what he meant, Isis nodded. Blade continued to ignore their guide. Yeah, that's what I thought when I saw you guys. That or some sort of freaky sci-fi convention. Never went in for that sort of thing myself, spooky aliens with antennae or strange sorta mutant creatures that rise from the swamps. All bull-malarkey if you ask me. But I guess it works for a party, eh. Must be some spread if it's at the Kingston place. I hear Bobetta Kiwi is rolling in dough. Strange taste for a lady, though.
'Rolling in dough,' Isis said, uncertain of what he meant.
Yeah, you know. Loaded, stinkin' rich, tons of money, or gold I guess. They say gold is a much better investment these days. Anyway, you gotta admire the idle rich, they know how to live. Hey, but what am I telling you folks for, you guys must be rollin' in it yourselves if your on Bobetta's guest list. I have to ask, is it true the inside of her limo is also pink?
Certainly, is that not fitting for a lady, Blade snapped.
Oh yeah, yeah, don't get me wrong. They say she's one real nice gal, charitable like if you get my meaning. But still, a pink limo? Or is it salmon now, I can never remember. I see it tooling 'round town occasionally, one time it looked like someone had painted it with Pepto-Bismol. Almost reached for my own bottle when I saw it, darn ulcer. Suddenly the cab slammed to a halt as Edgar leaned out his window and started cursing. Freakin' construction crews, they outta put up signs! Warn decent hard workin' folks in advance.
Hitting the blinkers, he backed the cab up and angled for the last exit ramp, blatantly ignoring the horns and screeching of brakes. After running over a bright orange sign, the cab barreled down the exit ramp and into a more affluent section of city. It careened down streets with larger, more expensive family homes until they reached a stretch with large patches of lawn and high brick walls. The road eventually curved into some low, gentle hills where the few mansions one might spot were surrounded by acres of land. People lived out here for privacy and to show off how incredibly wealthy they were.
Eventually the cab turned down a side road that led to a huge, overly elaborate wrought iron gate. Fortune was having a good day for once so the gate was conveniently open. A row of trees towered over the vehicle from both sides as they drove a good half-mile before reaching a large circular drive that led up to the mansions. Only Edgar's creative driving abilities allowed him to miss the large gaping crater in the center of the driveway. Parked off to one side was an old-fashioned black limo, understated and tasteful. The cab pulled up next to it and Edgar waved merrily at the driver before hopping out to open the door for his passengers.
Blade blatantly ignored the crow but Isis smiled her thanks and nudged the raccoon in the foot for his rudeness. Bijou and the other minions pried themselves from the backseat and the two squirrels hobbled to the generals.
That'll be $22.50, Edgar jovially informed them.
Isis called to Bijou, Pay the gentleman, while she and the others headed for the entryway.
Bijou lumbered up and rumbled something vaguely menacing at the poor crow who was desperately trying to convince himself that this was either a guy on stilts or a basketball player because, well, orange shag monsters don't really exist right?
A cloth bag was unexpectedly thrust at him while Bijou searched for some coins. Uncertain, Edgar glanced into the bag and his eyes nearly fell out of his head. The bag was filled with what looked like large gold nuggets! Tentatively he reached in and pulled one at, biting on the edge to test its authenticity.
Oh yeah, definitely real.
The shag monster appeared to be grinning at him so Edgar poured a few out and handed the bag back. Thanks pal, this'll cover it. Enjoy the party!
Bijou watched as the strange bird drove away, cackling madly with glee. Isis-kitty had said to give the crow money but he didn't seem to want any. With a shrug of indifference, he reached into the bag and pulled out a few nuggets, popping them in his mouth. He walked away, crunching merrily and pondering what sort of strange barter system they had in this world. Honestly, who accepted food for giving rides?
Meanwhile, Blade was pounding on the large wooden doors to the odd looking castle, convinced the crow had taken them to the wrong place.
Relax, Isis hissed, we don't want to scare them just yet.
The sooner we have the princess, the sooner we can leave, Blade replied.
Well, I like this world, it's different. Interesting. A pity we can't stay longer.
Hn. I would just a soon have this be done. The longer our mission is, the more chances we have of failure. I would prefer not to fail as I *like* living!
Calm yourself. There is no way anything will go wrong. We snatch the princess and leave. Anyone foolish enough to interfere gets stomped on. Once the Master has the princess all our problems will be over.
Yet another thing that bothers me, where are the guards? He pounded on the door again then growled in frustration. Enough of this nonsense! Bijou, open the door.
The head butler, an elderly penguin named Rhett, was hurrying across the grand entry hall when something particularly solid struck the ten-foot tall oak doors, sending them crashing to the ground with such force that they splintered on the pink-veined marble floor. In the doorway, a black cat in a crimson cloak was muttering something about summoning the palace guards. However the large orange thing lumbering towards him was what caught Rhett's attention and sent him crashing to floor in a dead faint. When no one else appeared, Isis ordered the minions start searching rooms and not to be too delicate about it.
The sounds of mass destruction reached even the occupants of the back saloon where Bobetta was holding court, her subjects a trio of very bored criminals.
Really Bobetta I don't see why you're so upset, the Evil Sir Ivan Kiwi calmly replied as he carefully ignored his ward's pilfering. It was all in the name of good taste.
Squawking in outrage, Bobetta lowered herself enough to glare back from her position on the divan. Good taste! She gave a ladylike snort. You're just envious of my wealth. Each of *my* limos is custom-made. Not to mention, I had just exited it when your minion person blew it up! He could have killed me if he'd missed.
Behind her, Lita silently mouthed the words, Too bad he didn't. Ivan almost choked, suppressing his laughter.
As it is, Bobetta continued, I was severely bruised from the explosion. I even sprained one of my delicate ankles!
Before Ivan could tell her that he'd speak to his underlings about their timing, the sound of something crashing to the floor was heard and Bobetta let out a startled and distinctly unladylike screech. The ever-unflappable Gracie sauntered to the door to see what was happening.
Who's making all that noise, Bobetta demanded as the French hen opened the door to take a look.
Gracie suddenly slammed the door shut and stumbled backwards. I suggest we run, she said while making for the nearest window. She didn't make it.
The door to the saloon suddenly crumbled to the floor as a raccoon wielding a very sharp sword stepped in, glowering at all of them. We seek the princess, Bobetta Kiwi, ruler of the kingdom of San Viano. Surrender yourself or perish.
Gracie fainted while Bobetta started screaming. Meanwhile, Ivan was caught between amazement and hysterical laughter.
Silence, a black cat snarled as she entered the room and Bobetta immediately slumped over unconscious. This one must be the Princess Bobetta.
Just what do you want with her, Ivan inquired once he recovered enough to speak. However, he calmly reached for his guns.
Both of them just ignored him. Bijou, take the yellow one, the cat called over her shoulder and something huge, orange and hairy appeared, picking up the unconscious kiwi and slinging her over one shoulder. Lita started edging towards them, looking for an opening but, unfortunately the cat caught her movement and turned to face her. Blast Wind, the cat called out and an unseen force picked up the rabbit, slamming her into the wall and knocking her out.
The Sign Holder let out an angry growl and charged her while Ivan flipped behind his chair, drawing both weapons. He opened fire on the raccoon who almost effortlessly knocked the bullets aside with his sword. Abruptly he seemed to vanish and something struck the gray kiwi from behind, rendering him unconscious. Meanwhile the Sign Holder was frozen in place, unable to move as the cat somehow lifted him in the air and sent him through a window.
Impertinent lad, Isis said with a scowl. Probably a page, they like to be heroic.
What do you think this one is, Blade asked, nudging the gray kiwi at his feet.
Isis shrugged. Probably a vassal of some sort.
A pitiful lot of protectors for a princess.
So? Simplifies our mission. We'll need a messenger of some sort. Take the rabbit lass, Isis instructed one of the minions. With her fighting spirit she may be able to survive in the wildlands.
Blade beckoned Bijou to him. Take this one as well, just in case.
I doubt we'll need him.
So, Blade retorted. The Master may have other uses for him. Or he'll enjoy torturing him. Besides, I can't help feeling he looks familiar in some way.
He's arrogant, I'll grant you that much. Not much of a warrior though, with those archaic weapons. The lad had more of a fighting chance. Anyway, we have the Master's prize; we should leave now. Once the Master has the princess the Slayer and his friends are doomed.
So that's a princess? Not very impressive creatures are they?
Isis smirked. Of course not, their only purpose is to lay about and look like pretty balls of fluff. Now you, she pointed at one of the minions. Contact the warlock and tell him we have what we came for.
Isaac, the Master Vampire's most powerful and feared warlock, was currently lurking in the shadows of the upper ramparts of the castle. The sun was up, which meant his 'Master' would remain indoors, a perfect opportunity for him to spy on the Wandering Forest again. That sentient piece of land had been his target for several months now, the only conceivable way for the natives to launch an attack on the castle and still be able to retreat quickly. He wasn't about to mention that to his current employer though, that bit of knowledge was far more useful to his own plans. Worming his way into the Master's good graces had been difficult but Isaac was rather proud of his skill at deception. Few realized just how cunning he was.
The air to the right of him suddenly warmed and an imp, a tiny green creature with long sharp claws, popped into existence. It nodded respectfully. They desire a report from you, the imp murmured, being careful to stay in the shadows. They grow impatient.
Of course they do, Isaac replied, still looking out over the wall. They don't seem to realize how tricky my position is.
The imp snorted. Tricky, a fitting word for you.
A sly grin spread across Isaac's face. One does one's best. However, at the moment, there is little to report. The vampire is doing a *very* good job of keeping his plans to himself. He wants the Slayer alive for some reason but he won't say why.
Perhaps he doesn't trust you?
Of course not. He doesn't trust anyone, not even his most powerful generals. With good reason, too. I, for one, am not under his mind control. Free will seems to worry him.
Then maybe you should pretend to be.
He doesn't have nearly enough power to take control of my mind and I believe he's aware of that on some level. However, it does not matter. I am already in the perfect position.
He is reliant on me, that he can do nothing about. I've eliminated my competition.
They will be pleased.
Foolish creatures, more than willing to swear allegiance to him because he did what no other fiend could.
What is a fiend?
That's what they call us here, the mundanes. I rather like the term.
Will they interfere?
The mundanes? No, in fact they will be very helpful when the time comes for me to act. By deciding to take the Slayer alive, the vampire has provided me with the perfect chance without anyone discovering the truth. That blue feathered fool will be very useful.
Then they will be *very* pleased.
No doubt. It is pity things will happen as they wish, I find myself growing fond of some of the vampire's minions. They might have been useful without his influence.
Do not grow too attached to this place, the imp warned. You know what must be done.
Of course. That is no concern. No, it is another world I find myself fascinated with, and only after just a few glimpses of it, how strange. You have my report, disappear now.
Snarling something, the imp vanished and Isaac relaxed slightly. His latest duties were a bit more wearing then usually, but a job was a job. However, when this was finished, it would be nice to return to himself.
A sudden tug on his mind caught his attention.
Back so soon, how wonderful. Let's see the prey they've captured, he muttered as he returned to his tower.
The dimensional portal had been left slightly open so he needed only to pull a few threads and the travelers spilled out, looking slightly worse for wear.
That is the *worst* way to travel, Isis complained bitterly as she staggered to her feet.
Sorry, Isaac replied, hiding his smile. There's too little magic on this side of the barrier for me to control it properly. The dimensions shift out of alignment too easily.
Where is the Master, Blade demanded.
Oh don't worry, he's been sent for. Perhaps you can introduce me to our prisoners while we wait. I admit, I'm curious.
Blade bared a fang. You are far too flippant, warlock. Someday, someone will show you your place. I only hope I may watch.
Isaac shrugged, a mysterious half-smirk crossing his face. Perhaps.
Enough with the male spitting contest if you please, Isis snapped, glaring at the two of them. I'm drowning in the testosterone. I suggest we tie up our guests. Bijou, fetch some chains.
Muttering something, the orange monster dumped his load on the floor and lumbered out of the room.
Fascinating fellow, that one, the warlock commented dryly.
He'll rip your head in a second if I tell him to, Isis cheerfully replied.
How comforting. So which of our new guests is the princess?
The yellow one of course, Blade muttered, rolling his eyes.
The rabbit lass is some sort of ladies maid, Isis added. Watch out for her, I think she's a sneaky one. She'll make a good messenger.
Indeed. The Master Vampire spoke as he materialized in the archway of tower. I see you two have redeemed yourselves. The short black-cloaked figure slowly entered the warlock's chamber room and inclined his head as his minions knelt in a show of loyalty. I knew I could rely on my two strongest generals. A very good job.
To Isaac's carefully hidden disgust, both almost radiated with happiness at the praise. Bijou trudged back in then, bearing several lengths of chain. He grumbled something to the Master who nodded in response, then walked to the gray bird and chained him up.
And who is this? the Master inquired.
A vassal who was protecting the princess, Isis quickly replied. Blade felt he would be of some use to you.
After studying the unconscious kiwi for several minutes, something like a cackle emerged from the black hood. Oh yes, this one will be of great use. How perfect that you found him. Take him to the dungeon Bijou, but keep him away from the other prisoners. I don't want him seen or heard. Inform the torturers that I want this one *unharmed*. I have something very special in mind for him. Bring the other two to my antechamber. I desire to examine them more closely.
When Lita came to, someone was gently lowering her onto soft cushions. I know you are awake little one, a voice whispered in her ear. Isis believes you are a clever one and she is generally accurate. If you are as smart as she says you'll stay still. You are about to learn a great deal, as long as you don't attract any attention. Don't bother with your chains, they won't come loose until the right moment. She caught a vague glimpse of silver before the speaker disappeared and she allowed her body to go limp, slumping over so she could watch the room without being observed.
So this is the Slayer's beloved princess, the Master mused out loud as he studied Bobetta. Yes, she is a fitting prize for a hero. A pity to waste one as lovely as she on such an insipid fool.
Fool, Master, Blade inquired while Isis quietly gagged behind him.
Only a fool would oppose me, my Blade. All heroes are inherently foolish for they challenge the natural order of the world, the rule of evil. And in return for their audacity they acquire magnificence such as this. He gestured to Bobetta. Tell me, do you believe that is fair?
I suppose not Master. But her existence does give the Slayer a weakness.
How true. Originally I had thought to use her as bait and, once the trap was closed and the Slayer in my clutches; dispose of her in a public and painful manner. A way that would cause the Slayer deep pain. I do so enjoy inflicting pain. However I believe I have a more fitting fate for such a lovely lure.
What will you do with her? Isis sounded somewhat nervous as she asked.
I shall make her my bride. Stunned silence reigned for a few minutes, enjoying it's brief moment of power before abdicating in favor of shocked horror. But the Master Vampire remained amazingly oblivious to his minions' disturbed reactions. Beckoning Isis forward, who moved with deep reluctance, he commanded her to wake the princess. It is time I met my new bride.
Wisely Isis left the silence spell on her future mistress.
Bobetta woke and stared around her in surprise and terror.
Greetings my princess, the Master said in a manner that might have been charming. Welcome to my castle. I am certain you wish to know why I had you brought here. I'm afraid the Slayer, your beloved, has proven to be harder to kill than I expected. So I shall use you to entice him into a trap and finally eliminate the last obstacle to my complete domination of this world. Unable to speak, Bobetta just blinked at him as he lapsed into insane maniacal laughter. Ahem. Anyway I see you are the silent type, how delightful. You should know your role, my sweet, will be larger than I first intended. Once the Slayer has perished I shall make you my bride. With you at my side I will rule over this vast empire with power and wealth unimagined by any until now. As my princess you will have all the finest silks and jewels, anything you desire will be yours for the asking. I shall even gift you with your own minions, a legion of mindless slaves to obey your every whim.
Even Isaac looked astonished at everything the Master was offering her. Vampires normally weren't big on sharing. This one was either deeply in love or had completely lost his mind.
Now tell me, my princess, the Master continued, drawing back his hood so she could see directly into his eyes. What is your answer?
Isis hastily lifted the silence spell finally allowing Bobetta to use her voice, which she most definitely did. Tone filled with a mixture of amazement, shock and an incredulous sort of horror; Bobetta screeched her first word since entering the castle.
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