They arrived in Windenburg three hours after leaving San Myshuno. The trip was eventful: Instead of taking a train, they rode in one of the Goth’s town cars. Naturally he had a driver – Guinevere noticed most rich and affluent human families did – so Gunther was free to drink wine on the way to the restaurant…he ended up spilling it all over him. Some would have spilled on Guinevere if she hadn’t turned into a bat at the last second. He had to change his shirt (luckily there were spares in the car), and it would have been even more cramped if she hadn’t have turned back into a bat.
The rest of the trip went smoothly. They were seated on the top section, with a view of the waterway. They studied the menu and called the waiter once they knew what they wanted.
“I’ll have a Plasma Jane and a plasma fruit salad please.” Guinevere pointed at the menu to confirm her order with the waiter when he looked at her in shock. He nodded once he understood. Guinevere handed the menu to Gunther, but he handed it back.
“I know what I want, I’ll have fish and chips with a Sunset Valley. Please and thank you.”
“Coming right up.” The waiter finished writing the order and took the menus.
“So what’s it like being a queen?” Gunther asked. Guinevere didn’t quite know how to describe the feeling, or the experience without spilling her every thought. It would be nice to just get it all out. So she opened the gates and let it pour out.
“It’s a lot of pressure. I feel like I’m losing a grip on who I really am. I have to present myself in a way that’s acceptable for the League.” She stopped for a moment to collect her thoughts.
“Have you tried just being yourself?” He said simply, adjusting the napkin on his lap. Guinevere looked out the window and watched the flow of the water. She could feel the emptiness clawing at her soul and wished the water could drown it.
“Yeah. And it resulted in anger and this feud between me and one of the League members. So now, I just hide myself behind this persona of a regal and noble queen that listens to her government. Granted, I have not lost my sense of questioning and still question every action and motive. At the castle I try to make an effort to not show my spark or passion. And it’s tiresome, I’m so tired.” She ended with a sigh filled with sadness and hopelessness.
“Well chin up, Gwen. You don’t have to hide your spark or your passion with me.” His voice was low and edging on flirtation. Her gaze left the water to look at him. For the first time in decades, she felt shy and exposed.
The topics changed rapidly as they got to know each other. She felt it was finally time to ask: “When did you first learn about vampires?” Guinevere knew that his uncle had studied them. And if Samuel is this uncle…Gunther would have had to have been an infant when Samuel left.
“Well I told you my uncle studied them, right?” Guinevere nodded, listening intently. “I was probably no older than ten when I first actually noticed a picture of him. He looked like my father, but wasn’t. So, being the curious child I was, asked my father who this man was. He said, ‘Well son, that man is your uncle Samuel-” Oh fuck. I…I should tell him. I need to tell him. It’s the right thing to do…right? Right!? Guinevere felt like vomiting, but remained seated and listened to the story. “-happened to him. He said nothing and handed me a file with his completed research. After that, I – like my parents and family – assumed he had died when visiting the coven he sought out.” It was now or never, Guinevere mentally prepared herself.
“Gunther, there’s something I think I should tell you…if we’re going to be friends.” The confused look on Gunther’s face made Guinevere hesitate. Should I really tell him? I mean…this could potentially ruin any friendship we could have. “I don’t think your uncle is dead. In fact, I’m sure he’s the same Samuel Goth living in my castle.” His eyes grew wide as he leaned away in shock. “He told me a little about how his research led him to the castle, and my father found him trespassing. Instead of killing him, he allowed him to stay as a staff of the castle and continue his research.”
“H-he’s alive? Is he okay?” Guinevere felt a pang of hurt, she felt insulted that he would imply that she would mistreat her humans.
“He’s perfectly healthy and fine. In fact, he’s one of the people I trust the most.” She didn’t try to hide the hurt in her voice, but it was the complete truth. She did truly trust Samuel with her life.
There was an uncomfortable silence between them until their meals arrived.
“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. I should have known you would never harm a human, your aura is nothing but pure intentions. I’m relieved to hear he’s alive, though, I’m not sure if I should tell my parents. They’ve already mourned him and moved on with their lives.” Guinevere shook her head, telling Gunther was enough.
“Samuel didn’t want to come with me this morning because he was afraid of his family finding out. I’ve already betrayed his trust by telling you. But I couldn’t hide something like this from the very beginning. Too many of my friendships in the past were built on a foundation of lies, I won’t allow this one to be.”
“I’m thankful you told me. I had sometimes wondered if he truly was dead…I had hoped he was alive and well and knowing he is, is a relief.” Guinevere nodded, taking a sip of her Plasma Jane. She set the glass down with a thoughtful look.
“It is a little weird that your uncle is one of my humans. Something deeper is going on, because this whole thing-” She gestured between them in a circle. “-it’s a little too coincidental. And I bet the fairies have something to do with it.”
“Do you remember what the fairies told you in the glade?” Guinevere closed her eyes and tried to recall the conversation she had with the fairy before it disappeared.
“The only thing I can remember is that they told me marrying Van Gould was dangerous. There was something else, but it’s still a little foggy. I think it had something to do with ‘fate was already altered’ but there’s something missing.”
“Maybe this-” He repeated the same gesture she did. “-is their way of fixing fate. But what exactly does it have to do with us? Does it have anything to do with us? And what was altered in the first place?” Guinevere shrugged, she was more confused and angry than before: She loathed the fairies for messing with her memories of the glade, but was angry that they told her something so important and made her forget afterwards. What was even the point? “Maybe the foggy piece will come back when it’s triggered, like everything about me did.”
“Maybe. Who knows.” She finished her meal, trying her hardest to remember the last piece of the Sylvan Glade puzzle. It ended up frustrating her more before she gave up.
After their meal, Gunther asked if Guinevere wanted to go to the nearby park to clear her mind. She agreed, the fresh air will help. So they walked, arm in arm. The placard at the entrance made Guinevere giggle.
“Shallot Memorial Park – In Memory of Lord and Lady Von Haunt. I’ll have to tell my aunt and uncle they have a park dedicated to them.” Gunther stopped, causing Guinevere to stop too.
“You’re telling me, Bernard and Mimsy Shallot are vampires?” She looked at him with a smile and nodded. They continued walking.
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you. They faked their deaths so they could leave the human world. They’ll be amused that the humans cared so much they built this park in their name.” They both laughed lightly.
“That makes me wonder how many people of the past are still alive as vampires.”
“Oh my dear Gunther, you don’t want to know. But because we’re friends, all you have to do is ask and I’ll tell you.”