Looking over at us and then turning back to the king, Bobby said, “I love love. I love blood. Blood and love.”
There might, I thought to myself, be something wrong with Bobby.
Barrington nodded, “That’s another one of my councilors against a fight, but still a major change of course. I need a moment to think. I’d like some silence while I consider the situation. I’m going to go over to the corner. Don’t start fighting while I’m gone.”
He walked away from everyone, standing next to the body of the xosk where it had once been a corner. It kept the sun off him, a point I decided to note for future reference. He might be able to walk in sunlight, but he didn’t like it.
Using my communicator, I said, “Bloodmaiden, Blue Mask, can either of you make any sense out of the blood and love bit? I think I understood the rest of the advice.”
Mateo gave a quick shake of his head.
Amy spoke softly into her comm, “It’s not too hard to figure out. Back home, people used blood as a symbol for life. I’m sure some people here do too.”
If I substituted life in for blood when Bobby spoke, it made some sense. It still didn’t make complete sense, but I suspected there was something wrong with Bobby. Still…
I considered that. “So he was basically saying that he loved love and life. Therefore, don’t fight?”
With a hint of a smile, she met my eyes and said, “Exactly.”
Looking at her at that moment and knowing that she’d just put her life in danger to show up here to help, I could understand how some other version of me back in her home universe had fallen for her. It was an uncomfortable feeling.
Well, at least Amy and I could be friends here.
That thought didn’t stop me from replying, “You know, the whole blood means life thing only works if you ignore the fact that it comes from other people.”
She shrugged, “I’ve told you my ancestors weren’t exactly wonderful to their subjects. They were even worse to their enemies.”
Behind us, a door creaked open, and all of us, Vincent, Mateo, Amy, and I plus all the vampires turned toward the doorway.
Rod and Samita walked in. Rod was in troll form and ducked until he came out of the doorway, stretching to his full height in the main room. Samita’s red, hooded robes were unstained. They looked like they’d just come off the rack, but she did specialize in enchanting objects. Her staff glowed, sparks of electricity running down the length of it.
The vampires’ hands went to their weapons. I held up my hands, “Red Hex, Troll, it’s okay. We’re talking.”
In the corner, Barrington turned to watch them as they joined us.
Every one of Rod’s footsteps thumped against the concrete. As he got closer, I could feel each step.
As they reached us, he grunted and scowled down at the vampires. Lhust scowled back. Bobby smiled at him. The rest took a step back. It wasn’t all at once. It was more of a small shift as they talked that left them a foot or two farther away.
“Sun, bright,” Rod muttered.
Even as a troll, he wasn’t stupid, but he liked being underestimated. Samita eyed them as she squeezed in between him and the rest of us, “He’s right,” she said. “They’re not affected. Does that mean they’re dhampirs or extremely old?”
“Don’t know for sure, but it sounds like they’re similar to Bloodmaiden’s people,” I said.
Amy nodded. Samita glanced over at the vampires, “Oh.”
Taller than the other vampires, Loremaster looked over them to eye Samita, “Pardon me, but are you a student of Reliquary?”
Staring at him for a few seconds before she replied, she turned toward him, staff in hand, “I don’t think I should answer your questions.”
He laughed, “Don’t worry about it. He and I go back. We’ve tried to kill each other and fought by each other’s side as well. I recognize some of his techniques in your gear. Well done. Say hello to him for me.”
She pursed her lips, “If I do ever see him, I’ll pass that along.”
Smiling wider than before, Loremaster said, “Excellent.”
Leaving the corner, Barrington walked up to stand between the vampires and our group, “Don’t let me stop the two of you from catching up, but I should let you know that we’ve decided to take your offer. Come on, boys. It’s daytime, so there’s no misting away. We’ll have to walk and then catch an Uber.”
Turning to look at Amy and me, Samita said, “You’re letting them go?”
Barrington turned toward the door, waving the other vampires to follow, “Yes they are. It was a kind offer. I’m not excited about the idea of fighting my way out of here. Nor do I love the idea of hurting mortals. I want a better life for my people, but I don’t want to kill anyone. We need you and I think you need us.”
Vincent’s ears twitched, “Do we?”
Too far away to hear, or deciding to pretend not to, Barrington and the vampires walked away.
Catching Mateo’s eye, I said, “Did we do the right thing?”