Vlad makes an enemy.
“Me miserable! Which way shall I fly, Infinite wrath and infinite despair?”
― John Milton, Paradise Lost
Vlad pounded harder on the keys of the pipe organ. It didn’t improve the sound but it did make him feel slightly better about the day. Translation progress was slow-going. The number of sims who knew olde simlish was small, but the number who knew ye olde simlish was even smaller.
There were older vampires, of course, but he didn’t trust a single one of them with this information. No one could know what he was looking for. The risk was too great. Instead, he sent William and Caleb out to survey university professors under the guise of assessing the coven’s recruitment efforts. This mollified Bloodvein and Miss Hell (somewhat) and kept the rest of the vampires where they belonged: out of his business.
The downside to this method was that he was bored out of his mind. In 544 years, Vladislaus Straud had never been bored. If there wasn’t the sheer work of survival to do, there were wars to plan, funds to secure in order to fight those wars, and then the work of establishing his empire.
The Forgotten Hollow vampires had not wanted to be ruled. They were made to bow by force. And by great sacrifice. It took a monster to rule the monsters, and Vlad had become, through great personal sacrifice: the greatest monster of them all.
For them or for you? his conscience wondered. Vlad slammed his fingers down on the keys, banishing the thought.
For centuries, the Forgotten Hollow vampires had run wild through the woods—alternating between hunting in the Windenburg countryside and hills of Granite Falls. Distance did not present the same problem for vampires that it did for mere mortals. Vampires could run at top speed for hours, travel as bats or, if they were truly powerful, simply dissipate into a mist and reappear miles away. There were limits, of course, but when sims wondered how bloodsucking creatures of the night could seem to be everywhere at once, the answer was simple:
Vlad broke the will of those vampires on the battlefield and then, in a long campaign of starvation and imprisonment. It took centuries, but by 1797 they had been brought to heel. Almost 300 years it took to be crowned king, and that was followed by the hard work of ruling. There were always tasks. Always.
But not recently, his conscience added.
It was the sort of thing Vlad didn’t want to admit. Had he been bored before the curse? Impossible! And yet, something told him that he might be wrong.
A knock sounded and Vlad leapt out of his seat and sped to the door.
Once there, he froze. He was a fucking king, for sages sake! He didn’t answer his own doors and he certainly didn’t run to them.
Though, with Caleb and William still down at Windenburg University, there really was no one else. Few ever came to Straud Manor unless it was for something truly important. Most vampires feared him and Bloodvein and Miss Hell found his gothic manor depressing.
“I should have built a bloody castle,” Vlad growled. And it was the first words he had spoken aloud all day.
That did it! He was answering the door. He flung it open expecting to find some young vampire groveling and asking for a favor. Instead, he looked out and saw nothing.
A throat cleared. “Excuse me, I’m down here,” the small voice declared impatiently.
Vlad looked down and bit his tongue to keep the surprise from showing on his face. It was a child? But what was a child doing at Straud Manor? And where were her parents? And why was she dressed in that ridiculous uniform?
“Is there a problem?” she demanded. “Do you own this house or is the person who owns this house at home?”
Vlad was speechless. He stared at her dumbly.
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “My name is Gwendolyn Barrister and I’m here with the scouts raising money towards our college education and a field trip to the Museum of Modern Art in Newcrest. Just one box of cookies can help us achieve our goals. But purchasing three boxes not only earns you a discount, it covers the cost of my museum admission.”
Vlad recovered slightly, “I own this house.”
“Yes, well we’re past that now. It doesn’t matter who owns the house, we’re talking cookies.”
“Cookies?” Vlad answered, bewildered. He was a vampire. He clamped down on necks and drained plasma straight from the source. If he wanted to feel like a mortal, he might have it in a glass. He didn’t eat cookies!
“Yes cookies! Keep up! Is there someone else I should talk to?” she peered around him into the house. “You have a pipe organ! Sweet!”
And in yet another example of a vampire not being fast enough, Gwendolyn Barrister whipped around his legs and ran into the house before he could stop her.