Viewer discretion is advised due to gory violence! Undead! Swords! Death! Beware!
"Indeed." A voice drawled from the side of the audience chamber.
Mary's head whipped around to try to track the sound, but at first, saw nothing.
"It best that you prepare yourself..." The voice said again, coming from a different direction. "... your Majesty."
She looked in the direction of Lucien. The blood drinker did not seem surprised but he seemed to have lost his cocky expression. He might have even appeared a little nervous.
"No need to fret, either of you." The voice said again as a man stepped out into the light. Mary stared at him for a long moment as the man just stood still and let her see him without making a move. He wore the armor and garb of a Dragonshold soldier, but she knew that it was impossible.
"Captain Shrike?" She breathed at last. "But you are dead. You died in the assault on the castle. We buried you, your wife is still in grieving."
"Indeed Captain Shrike was slain your Majesty." The man said.
Lucien spoke up. "There is no more reason to send an envoy to the forest. Your Majesty, may I present to you, Millmor, King of the Night in the Rinelands."
The man that had been named Millmor bowed and when he raised his head his features had changed. While he still wore Captain Shrike's clothing, the face was that of one of High Priest Darius' attendees. Mary tried to remember hard if she had see this unremarkable man earlier. It was entirely possible.
"I was saddened at the passing of Captain Shrike" Millmor said. "He was an honorable and kind man, his duty and loyalty to Dragonshold was absolute."
"How loyal could he have been while you walked in his skin in my castle?" Mary asked sternly.
"I assure you, I mean no harm. If I had wanted to, I could easily have wrecked havoc, but we are allies."
"But we do not know about you." She stated flatly.
"Well the Prince brokered the diplomacy... your son... the older one." Millmor himself seemed a little confused in how to keep track of it all. "Besides that I have grown quite fond of various people in this castle while I have walked its halls pretending to be one person or another, I also do not want to be in a position where Adiran might decide to destroy me."
"Is he capable of that?"
To this Lucien laughed. "Your majesty, though he is now becoming an older human, Adiran is a great wizard. His maject could destroy this castle. Yet he had always seeked to employ diplomacy with all those he encountered that were not corrupted by the Dark One."
"Are you saying that you are beings of purity?" Mary said, a little bitingly. She knew a little more than the average person about the vampires, a lot of the superstitions about them were nothing but old-wives tales, but she also knew that they were dangerous to humans. Despite having her brother in law... her strange, magical son being a threat or a master or a friend to these things, she felt uneasy.
The man known as Millmor raised his hand to forestall what looked like an angry response as Lucien finally seemed to lose his composure. "Your Majesty. These lands are cursed. Some of the creatures that walk this earth are not as evil as their appearances would lead you to believe... Like your own brother."
Mary's heart froze in her chest. "I... I do not know what you are talking about."
"This is the thing that irks me about the human Kingdoms." Lucien said in a somewhat moaning manner that was at odds with his serious and cool demeanor he had before. "Almost all of them have their own strange and hideous afflictions." The vampire smiled at Mary's reaction and slow said. "Ugly truths."
Again Millmor prevented a hot and angry response, this time from the Queen. "Your Majesty. Take not insult. Almost every nation has a curse."
"A curse wrought by this Dark One you speak of?" She asked. "I assume that this is the God of Darkness that the High Priest Darius preaches about?"
Millmor and Lucien exchanged a glance.
"There are theories, your Majesty." Millmor answered. "But we do not have time for that now."
"We need to focus on the impending invasion of the undead that march on your Kingdom." Lucien added.
"I have unlikely allies." Mary shook her head. "I do not know how the world will see us after this. But it is a matter of survival. She looked between the two strange beings. Millmor... a King of Night... should I refer to you as a monarch."
Millmor's face was twisted into a look of shock, then settled into a look of calm repose. "I really do not mind. Perhaps it will help when your troops need to recognize my authority as a leader among those that defend this Kingdom. I do not wear a crown, nor was I ever crowned... I am... more of a Regent. I command my Kingdom in the stead of another, too young to take his rightful throne."
"And where is your ward now?"
Millmor smiled wickedly, Mary thought that his teeth looked a tad too sharp for a human. "He is with your daughter right now."
Back to you then @lex-zaiya!
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