“Calm down,” Miss Four Eyes cried, pulling her arm away. “They escaped before the sparkly vampires could get to them. Everyone was talking about it. Two dragons showed up just as the vampires got to the castle. One of the dragons flew them to safety while the other held the sparkly bastards at bay. I don’t know where they went, though.”
Turning to his Knight, Matticus demanded, “Do you know where they took them?”
“Of course,” Revis answered.
“Take me to them at once!”
“They’re with Rara and Grayson, Matticus. They couldn’t be safer.”
“You don’t know that! I command you to take me to them this instant!”
Revis sighed and shook his head. “I know you’re worried about them. Trust me on this, my friend: Those two dragons would never let anything happen to them. Our families are a lot safer right now than we are.” When Matticus didn’t answer, and simply gave him the evil eye, Revis continued. “Besides, why don’t you just use your locket to talk to them?”
“My locket,” Matticus asked, confused.
Pulling the locket out from underneath his armor, Matticus opened it up. On one side, a picture of the Queen was carved. The other side contained a picture of the Prince. He ran his fingers over their images, missing them intensly in that moment, and spoke their names. Suddenly, an image sprang up from the locket. It was the Queen, holding the Prince in her arms.
“Matticus,” she exclaimed, seeing the same image of him that he was seeing of her.
“Are you okay?” The Jester questioned, his knees giving out as he communicated with his wife.
While Matticus caught up with the Queen, Miss Four Eyes turned to Revis, “Don’t you have a wife and child too? Aren’t you worried about them?”
“If Rara and Grayson managed to get Mattticus’ family to safety, I’m sure they saved mine as well. Besides, I’ve been checking up on them with my own locket throughout our whole quest. I’m not sure why he didn’t know about his…” Revis let a wry smile slip as he glanced over towards the Jester.
Miss Four Eyes was going to ask what the smile was for, but Matticus had wrapped up his coversation and was ready to continue on, secure in the knowledge that his wife and infant were truly safe. “The Queen told me about a gathering of people who want to overthrow the new vampire empire that is going to happen in some place called Long Beach. We only have a couple days.”
“Okay,” Revis said, “let’s get over to Bruges and then head out from there.”
Matticus joined his knight in the small sailing vessel and the two got it prepared to embark.
“Do you want us to drop you off somewhere,” Matticus asked Miss Four Eyes, but, when he turned back to her, she was gone. Her head could be seen bobbing over nearby shrubs as she merrily skipped down the beach. “What a strange woman.”
The two men pushed the boat out into the water and embarked on their journey. Neither of them were very adept sailors, so it took them a while to get comfortable using the tiny ship. The return trip to Bruges seemed to take twice as long as the trip away from there. Matticus figured it was because he didn’t want to go to Bruges, but was very glad when they were able to leave.
As the city came into view, Revis sighed. “I hate this place.”
“Bruges is a shithole.”
“Bruges is not a …… Yeah, I know.”
They docked their new boat in the exact same spot the boat they had left in had been. Before they had made it too far, they heard someone harshly whisper Matticus’ name. Looking to the source, they saw Steph standing in a nearby alley.
The Knight and Jester ducked into the shadows when she motioned them over, “You can’t be here.” Her eyes darted back and forth between Revis and Matticus, and she nervously glanced beyond them and over her shoulders. “It isn’t safe for you.”
“Why not?” Revis asked, his hands dropping to his sheathed daggers. Catching Steph’s nervousness, he too began to scan around for any sign of trouble.
“Bruges is overrun with the sparkly pests, and despite their proclamations that the two of you are dead they’ve been secretly passing around flyers with your pictures on them that have instructions to kill you on sight.”
“I hope it’s a good picture,” Matticus joked.
Steph and Revis glared at him, and the Jester shrugged in response.
Revis turned back to Steph, “Bruges was already crawling with the vampires the last time we were here and we made it through okay…”
“You don’t understand, nearly the entire populace has been changed in the last two months,” Steph interrupted.
“What?” Jester and Knight asked in unison, their voices carrying in the otherwise quiet alley.
Steph put a finger to her lips to remind them to be quiet, “Come on, I’ll show you a secret way out of the city.”
As she led them through a series of alleys and empty buildings, Matticus whispered, “If they’ve turned almost everyone, why are you still here?”
“They still think I’m on their side, so they’ve left me alone. I’ve been trying to sneak out anyone they haven’t already turned. So far, I’ve only gotten about twenty outside the city, but it’s better than nothing.”
Just as Matticus was about to ask another question, his foot grazed a board leaning up against the wall. The piece of wood fell to the floor of the abandoned building with a loud thud. Steph glared at him while Revis lightly smacked him on the back of the head. “Be more careful,” the Knight quietly commanded.
Steph grabbed the Jester’s arm and began pulling him along, but the damage was already done. A group of five sparkly vampires came into the doorway behind them. “It’s them,” the closest one yelled. After pausing to take in the scene before him, he continued, “And Steph is in on it with them!”
Revis pulled something out of his pouch and threw it at the vampire’s feet. It exploded in a cloud of smoke. The Knight grabbed one of his companions with each of his hands and pulled them out of the vampire’s sight. “Looks like you’re coming with us now,” he told Steph.
“I wasn’t overly fond of this place, anyway, but…,” Steph said as she broke free of Revis’ grasp and skidded to a halt.
Revis stopped running as he felt Steph break free and Matticus bowled into him with a curse and further shushing from both his Knight and their guide.
“But what?” Revis asked as he disentangled himself from Matticus. “We obviously don’t have a lot of time.”
The sounds of shouted alarms and a gathering storm of feet drove home that very point.
“But,” Steph replied with a roll of her eyes, “you’re going the wrong way. Perhaps I could take the lead again?”
The Knight made an overly dramatic bowing gesture as way of an apology and then swept his hands forward to usher her back into the lead. Steph made a curtsy. Matticus laughed. And as they were about to embark again, Matticus’s laughter came echoing back to them, distorted and menacing by a wave of encircling vampires.
“Why do I get the feeling,” Matticus said, an edge to his voice as he drew his magic sword from its scabbard, “that you are going to find a way to blame this on me…”