As she sat on the bed, she looked around with tears rolling down her face. She had left the Straud estate seventy-five years ago, and this place was her safe haven since – Diego was her family and this apartment was her home. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she would ever take her father’s place as the Monarch of Vampires. She never wanted it, she hated the very idea of it. Now, she had no choice – Either she take over or it goes to the League…and she did not trust the League to be fair and just. But first, I have to pack and go back…
She decided she wouldn’t pack and would leave a note for the human servants on what to pack and bring to the estate. Then she decided to leave a note for Diego.
“Thank you for being amazing. I mean it. I surely would have died if you didn’t help me. Things are going to change, for better or worse, I don’t know yet…but you will always be my family. I know you won’t come with me to the castle, so if you need anything, and I do mean anything, do not hesitate to call or visit. Don’t be a stranger. Love always, Guinevere. P.S. Don’t eat the humans. I need my things.” She reread the note out loud and looked it over. She had crossed out friend and replaced it with family, and there was a scribble of ink in the top corner from when her pen had stopped working momentarily…but she was satisfied with it and left it on her pillow for him to find later.
After everything was in place, she thought a shower and a change of clothes was a good idea. They had plenty of time to get to the Hollow before sunrise. While in the shower, she mourned. She mourned for her family. She mourned for the brother that should be king. She mourned for the guidance she would never get from her parents. She mourned for how her life used to be. Once she felt thoroughly cried out she turned off the steaming water and exited the warmth. Quickly, she dried and dressed. She reapplied her make up and left the room. She was ready to start her new life.
Guinevere and Bernard arrived in Forgotten Hollow hours before dawn. She stopped to take in the scenery: everything in Forgotten Hollow was a complete contrast to the city lights she had become used to. It was dark except for the houses and the path lights in the center plaza. In the distance, and through the fog, she could make out the monolithic castle she would once again call home. Coming back felt like a pilgrimage of sorts – She had been away for so long and learned how vampires functioned outside of the Hollow…now she was coming back to use that knowledge to better her peoples.
The pair began walking again. She was silent, taking in the world she had left behind. Bernard was rambling about the things that had changed since she left: The Hemlocks recently had a child. Lord Van Gould had lost his wife. There were ‘anomalies’ living in the old farm house.
They arrived at the center plaza. Guinevere stood at the base of her great-great-grandfather’s statue. She read the placard. ‘Here lies Vladislaus the First. Founder of Forgotten Hollow: Sanctuary of the Night.’ She lit one of the candles that lay at the foot of the base and smiled.
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep your legacy alive.” She was very young when he died, but she could remember his kind smile and joyful laugh. He was an advocate for friendly vampire and human relations, and he hated the League – much like her.
“Don’t let the League hear you say that.” Bernard joked, but she knew there was an underlying warning in his words.
“You’re the only League member I can trust.” But only because my father turned you and made you vow to never harm him or his. Guinevere couldn’t say her thoughts aloud. Dawn was starting to break so they continued up to the castle.
It was as daunting as she remembered: Brown stone and black brick towered behind the black iron fence. It was dark but candles illuminated parts of the parapet and a few of the windows.
“Your aunt should be awake…she’ll be very glad to see you.” Bernard made small talk before pushing the gate open. Guinevere followed and closed the gate with a resounding thud.
Inside the castle was warm and welcoming despite all the cold stone. As Bernard had predicted, his wife was awake and waiting. He kissed her cheek, and Guinevere could see her aunt sigh with relief…relief that he made it home was what Guinevere could only guess. Her aunt broke away from Bernard to look over Guinevere. It took Mimsy a moment before she attacked her with a long and tight hug.
“Oh! My darling Guinevere! You look so much like my dear sister, it hurts my heart. But I am glad to see you well.” Guinevere returned the hug. She would be lying is she said she didn’t miss her aunt.
“Thank you Aunt Mimsy. I’m glad to see you too. I do wish it was under better circumstances though.” Guinevere felt the tears building up, but she vowed to not cry in front of her aunt.
“Oh dearheart. This is a good circumstance. You’re our queen.” Something about that sentence felt off to Guinevere. Or maybe I’m just tired. She wriggled out of her aunt’s grip.
“I’m going to go sleep now. If the League is here, they can wait a little longer.” Mimsy and Bernard nodded and wished her a good slumber.
At the top of the first set of stairs she was greeted with portraits of her family and her. They were painted by Bernard shortly before her brother and mother perished. “Even then, black was my preferred color of choice.” Fond memories of the past played in her mind as she walked up the stairs and to the master bedroom.
The events of the evening took over as she lay in bed. “There is no way my father killed himself. Something is going on here, and I intend to figure it out.” Was the last thought she had before falling into a deep hibernation for the day.