It had been five hours and forty minutes since the meeting started and Guinevere felt like it was going nowhere. Lord Van Gould and Wogan Hemlock pushed and pulled her ideas, Caleb agreed with her, and Bernard was acting as a mediator for the debates – everyone was beginning to get thirsty and tempers were rising. She hadn’t even had a chance to mention her biggest and most adventurous idea to the men.
“I do understand why marrying a human would be a bad idea, I really do. I agree it is our nature to mate for life: Life for a human is but a blink compared to a vampires. But! I have known vampires to not mate for life, and I have met vampires who have fallen in love with humans and vice versa. To deny them this, is ridiculous. Which brings me to another thing I would like to see changed.” Guinevere was going to take this chance to mention vampire and human relations a whole. She readied herself to drop the bombshell, but was interrupted.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you, but before you speak, Your Majesty, I would like to say that I think I’m starting to see your point on the marriage to humans thing. If my children ever fell in love with a human, I would want them to be able to marry if they so desired.” Guinevere was delighted to see the selflessness of Wogan shine through his tough exterior. Maybe something can be accomplished today!
A burst of laughter came from beside her: Lord Van Gould was going to be the proverbial thorn in Guinevere’s side, or so she thought. or perhaps a bramble bush I’ve fallen into, instead. Her attention turned to the laughing man.
“Please Lord Van Gould, enlighten us on what’s so amusing.”
“Next thing you’re going to say is that you wish to marry a human.” His laughter died down once he realized no one was laughing with him. “I still don’t agree with this. And I never will. Have you forgotten what humans did to your great-grandfather? They burned him at the stake because he fell in love with the human king’s daughter.”
“Balderdash! They burned him for good reason. He was a tyrant and threatened to drain the princess if the king didn’t listen to his demands. If that was love, then you have a twisted sense of the word.”
“Speaking of marriage, and since none of the men are brave enough to mention it. We think you should marry soon to solidify your position as queen.” This idea hurt Guinevere. She looked at each man around the table and found nothing but guilty faces. I’m going to replace all of these boys with women if they’re not careful. Bitterness rose up her throat like bile. She was angry, and felt betrayed.
“You have gall, Lord Van Gould. When I marry, it will be on my terms. My father was allowed to marry for love, so why shouldn’t I? If I’m going to be with someone for eternity, it will be with someone I enjoy to be with, not someone the League demands me to marry.” The scowl on her face turned into a smirk. “And that princess you mentioned earlier…she ended up being the best monarch during the time of kings and she never once married. She was the last of her family name, naturally, but she is undoubtedly one of the best monarchs in human history.” The men were silent. To Guinevere that felt like a win…until Lord Van Gould spoke up.
“I think I can safely speak for the League when I say: We won’t allow the line of Straud to die. We implore you to marry and have an heir or two.” He looked around at the men. Bernard and Wogan nodded. Caleb remained silent.
“In fact, since I’ve recently lost my wife maybe it should be I that you marry.” Guinevere couldn’t tell if he was being serious, or just pulling her leg. Either way, it felt wrong to her.
“Sorry? Weren’t you the one spewing ‘vampires mate for life?’ and now your going to be a hypocrite and offer to marry me? Wow, what a chivalrous man you are.” Something had began to awaken in her. It was the rage she had bottled away after learning of her father’s death.
“Now, Guinevere, I think you need to listen to him.” Bernard tried to ease the tension, but all it did was pop the cork on her bottled anger.
“Why?! My father undoubtedly listened to him and now he’s dead. And I’m sure his wife promised to obey him, and she’s dead. I’m sorry uncle, but it’s laughable to expect me to listen to him. When he wants me to marry him…none of it is going to happen when the final result is an urn on a mantle. I am not my father who had blind faith in the league, I will not allow myself to die. I will question everything for the benefit of my subjects. I am their voice, and I am not going to be idle nor will I be silent whilst everyone tells me what to do.” By the end of her speech, her voice was loud and on the verge of screaming her words.
Lord Van Gould pointed a finger in Guinevere’s face. The men tensed up, and Guinevere leaned back in shock.
“You’re right. You are not your father. You’re not a man, you’re a woman. And as a woman in an archaic society such as ours, it will be very, very difficult to be taken seriously. Especially as an unmarried one. So the less stubborn you are, the easier this whole thing will be.” Guinevere’s eyes narrowed. She could feel the pure, unfiltered anger pulsating through her veins. I need to keep calm… Her anger ebbed. She needed to be rational.
“There are six people seated at this table. We are the only two that are old enough to be archaic. Wogan is what, three hundred and forty? Bernard was turned in 1792, and Caleb isn’t even a century old. My rule will be the one that ends the old and extremely toxic ways.”
“Are you suggesting we do away with the League?” Lord Van Gould was seething, the veins on his cheeks were pulsating and his jaw was tense.
“Depends, are you suggesting that the League is one responsible for the toxicity? Because, let’s be honest here gentlemen, we all know it is. We have a man stuck in the archaic dark ages, a man who wants to protect just his family, the Straud’s lapdog, and a baby. Individually, that’s okay. But together, it’s not healthy if we want our people to flourish.” Guinevere wouldn’t back down.
“You can’t do away with the League!” Lord Van Gould shouted. The rest of the men were visibly afraid, and extremely uncomfortable. If Guinevere disbanded the League, every benefit they’ve become accustomed to would vanish. No more tax money in their pockets, no more feeding from humans.
“No, but I can do away with the people in it. Meeting adjourned. I think we all have something to think about until next time.” Guinevere stood from the table with a smile. She knew things were about to get messy, but it was a start. As she walked up the steps, the further away she got from the Pit, her smile faltered with the more she thought about what Lord Van Gould had said: They would never take her seriously unless she married and had heirs. Probably so they could kill me off and have my heir take over.