If we were imagining the hypothetical boy band that the vampires were members of, Barrington would be the conventionally attractive guy, Lhust, the manly guy, and Loremaster, the geeky guy. Maybe those aren’t really boy band tropes, but I don’t listen to boy bands.
Anyway, that left the other two.
Barrington smiled at us, “I think we can be friends, but since we’re introducing everyone, I shouldn’t skip Leo and Bobby.”
He nodded at each of them as he said their names.
Leo turned out to be dressed in black metal plate mail and wore a black, leather cape. On his waist hung a black sword in a black scabbard. If that weren’t enough, he had long black hair and a goatee.
If “bad boys” were a thing, and I was pretty sure they were, Leo fit the bill, though he might be more of a “goth boy” than a bad boy.
“Lheo,” Vincent said, “Nice to meet you. What’s up with all the L’s? Is it some kind of mystical vampire thing? I mean sure, Loremaster’s probably not his real name, but still two out of five. With Loremaster, that’s three out of five—sixty percent. That’s a lot.”
Leo pulled on his goatee, “That’s a deep question—very deep. How, out of infinite possibilities did these five people come together? Did the universe conspire to put such personalities in one place? And if so, why? Did it intend to save the vampire race or was there some deeper purpose? Perhaps it was a way to allow it to know itself?”
Vincent nodded, “You know, that’s pretty deep. It wasn’t quite the question I was asking, but I’ve got another. Can vampires get high? I feel like I already know the answer, but I want to be sure.”
Amy covered her mouth with her hand.
I didn’t hear Leo’s response because I was paying attention to Bobby. Bobby couldn’t have been more than fourteen when he turned into a vampire, assuming that that’s how it worked with these guys. Babyfaced and blonde, he was maybe five foot eight and waiting for a growth spurt that would never come.
Mind you, he still wore plate mail. His was painted gold with black accents. Despite that, he held a morningstar in two hands. Unlike most morningstars, the ball wasn’t grey. It was golden, and whether that meant it was made of gold or merely painted gold, it matched his armor and was very shiny.
Taking one hand off the weapon, he waved at us and said, “Hi, I’m Bobby!”
Then he smiled at us. His fangs were larger than I expected.
Not sure what else to do, I said, “Hi Bobby,” and looked over at Mateo to see if he was about to cue us to fight.
He was facing Barrington, “Alright, we’re introduced. What I said a moment ago still stands. If you and your group say that you’ll leave and that you won’t try this again, we’ll let you go. We’ll know if you don’t mean it.”
Barrington turned to face the rest of the vampires, “Well, what do you think of that proposal, my friends? The man’s made an offer. I’d like your opinions. Advise your king.”
Lhust leaned in toward him, “It’s an insult, my lord. Your subjects need a constant supply of more blood and flesh and this was the best plan anyone’s devised in one thousand years for getting more. Still, there are benefits to be had from it. The Bloodmaiden’s one of our kind even if she’s allied with the humans. If she were to consent to join us, perhaps as a bride for the king, we could consider it.”
Next to me, Amy shook her head, muttering, “That’s not happening.”
Barrington held up a hand in our direction, “Wait until my advisers are finished and then we’ll talk. For now, we’re permitting you to watch.”
With that, he lowered his hand and turned to the Loremaster, “And what do you say?”
Loremaster eyed us all, but especially Mateo before he spoke, “Taking the proposal would get us out of a fight in the short term. And let’s be clear, it’s not a fight that I’m completely certain that we’ll win. The Masks are a force to be reckoned with alone, but adding in a woman that wields an unusually sophisticated form of blood magic and an armored man capable of killing the xosk and we have a hard battle.
“It might be wise to take the offer so that we live to fight another day. We’ll live long enough to create a new stratagem.”
“Interesting how I don’t even rate a mention with him,” Vincent leaned in to whisper at me. “Think he’s upset about that Lhoremaster joke?”
Loremaster didn’t even look at him.
Barrington nodded, “Thank you, Loremaster. And what about you, Leo?”
Leo bowed deeply, “As you know, my lord, I always counsel you to fight our darker natures and find a new way. This may be a start, a path to move beyond the needs of undeath.”
Lhust spat, “And what, have us drink animal blood? No. That’s absurd. We don’t need to fight our natures. We need to be proud of them.”
Holding up his hand toward Lhust, Barrington said, “Please don’t interrupt others, Lhust. Leo, are you done?”
Barrington grinned, “Well then, only one more of my councilors needs to weigh in. What say you, Bobby?”