Today was the day Guinevere had an interview with Gunther’s future sister-in-law: Agnes Crumplebottom. When Guinevere lived in San Myshuno, she remembered reading her interviews with various influential people…and she respected her reporting style. She had no idea what the woman looked like, but she was buzzing with excitement to finally meet her favorite reporter.
“Hey Yuki, does this look casual and relaxed?” Guinevere had just finished getting dressed. Instead of dressing up, she thought it would be more “human” to dress casually.
“You look very comfortable, Your Majesty. You even managed to do your make up and hair on your own today. I’m very impressed.” The two women smiled and left the suite together. “So my plan is: I’ll escort Miss Crumplebottom in when she arrives, then I’ll make lunch for the two of you.” Guinevere nodded. I wonder what kind of questions she’ll ask. She wondered as they walked down the steps. I hope there won’t be embarrassing questions.
“Gunther said she loves a good vegetarian monte cristo. So make that if you could, please.” Yuki pulled out a notepad and pencil from her pocket and scribbled on it. Guinevere assumed she was making a note about lunch. “Also. If I don’t finish the plasma fruit salad, please don’t take offense to it. What’s left of my stomach doesn’t seem to want to digest solid foods anymore. Period. I may have you schedule an appointment for me to see what’s going on.” Yuki stopped and looked at Guinevere with concern.
“I-is that normal?” Guinevere could only shrug. She had no idea what was normal or not at her age.
“Honestly, no idea. It’s nothing to worry about though, sweet Yuki.” They arrived at the small seating room and parted ways. Guinevere decided to read until Miss Crumplebottom arrived.
“I’m going to be honest, I was a little bit hesitant to come to the castle. My sister and I were raised on vampire horror stories, with garlic braids and wreaths all over the house. But my sister’s fiancé said you’re harmless, and I trust him.” Guinevere recognized this woman from the conference, the one reporter that asked about reflections in the mirror.
“Well, I’m glad you came Miss Crumplebottom-” She was interrupted by the reporter.
“Please, call me Agnes.” Agnes insisted, so Guinevere smiled politely and nodded.
“Agnes, then. You can call me Gwen. It’s only fair. Also, I’m sorry I couldn’t meet you at a café or somewhere to make you more comfortable. My human, Sam, advised me to not drink another sun resistance potion…apparently it has addictive ingredients in it.”
“Oh? It’s okay! I wouldn’t miss a chance to be the first exclusive interview…it’s a once-in-a-human-lifetime opportunity and I feel so blessed to be the one to have it.” Agnes rummaged through her large laptop bag for a smaller case – inside the case was a tablet. “I wrote my questions on here. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all. I’m ready when you are.” Guinevere adjusted herself in her chair to find the comfortable spot.
“These are personal questions, so you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. And some were answered at the press conference, but on the off chance someone reading the article didn’t see the conference…” Agnes trailed off, and Guinevere finished the thought.
“You want them to have answers to questions they’d be asking. It makes sense.”
“First question: How old are you?” Guinevere was expecting this to come up, but this time she was prepared.
“Oh! I actually have an answer to this! After I came home, I asked my aunt because I felt like a fool for not knowing how old I am. She told me I’m three thousand and ninety-nine years old, next month is my birthday.” Agnes nearly dropped her tablet in shock, but caught it and continued.
“Next question: How did you become a vampire?” This was also something Guinevere was expecting. She knew the stories all involved a vampire biting someone to turn them…but nothing about the common way of making a vampire.
“I was born, no different than any other living being. Vampires are capable of having biological children…the exact same way as humans.” Agnes seemed happy with that answer. She typed it in, then looked up.
“So you have parents? Are they still alive? What about siblings?”
“Both of my parents, and my only sibling are dead. I do have a few biological family members left. My maternal aunt and her husband…and a paternal great uncle? He’s my grandfather’s half brother.” Agnes resumed typing. “My father passed away recently, and he was the king. My brother was supposed to be his heir, but he’s been dead for a century or so. Naturally, the crown went to me.” Guinevere had become numb to the emotional pain caused by her family’s death, her voice was verging on emotionless.
“I’m so sorry.” There was nothing but compassion in Agnes’ voice.
“It’s fine. Vampires are used to death. We fall in love with humanity only to watch it die over and over again. We could easily step in and make everyone immortal, but why? There’s a reason it naturally effects a small percentage of humans, because humanity is better than this. We live so long that we don’t appreciate life like humans do.” At least that’s how it is for me.
“You mentioned being born, is that the only way vampires are created?” Guinevere wondered if she should mention the dark leyline. They deserve to know the truth.
“No. Vampires are also created by being bitten, and by being conceived on a dark leyline. Vampirism is technically a mutation of humans…my great-great grandfather suspects the mutation was caused by the Fountain of Youth and believed the fountain is a well of dark ley magic manifested into liquid for consumption. We don’t age once fully matured, but of course…magic always comes with a price.”
“That’s fascinating. I’ve never heard of it described as a mutation before. Are the stereotypes those prices? Like garlic allergy? No reflection?”
“Yes and no. Some vampires become so old they adapt to their surroundings. A vampire like me is immune to garlic, I can withstand the sun for a couple hours if needed, of course it’s highly uncomfortable and I try to avoid it if at all possible. There are perks to this mutation though, other than immortality. I can turn into a bat and run at superhuman speeds but I prefer turning into mist, I feel more mobile that way. I’m built for long-term survival. A newer vampire could have the ability to turn into a bat, but have a horrible garlic allergy and burn to a crisp in the sun. Which is why our numbers are so low: Freshly turned vampires often die within the first two to five years without the guidance of a grand master…and as far as I know, there are only three grand masters still alive…myself included.
As for the reflection thing…totally true and extremely depressing. I can only ever see myself in water, which makes putting makeup on a bitch. So my humans do my make up most days when I can’t be bothered to deal with water ripples.”
“How do you sustain yourself? I’m assuming vampires drink plasma?” Agnes looked squeamish at the very idea.
“I do drink plasma, my stomach is so…withered that I can’t digest most solid food properly. Human food makes me vomit for hours. With that said, I only drink from Sam when I absolutely need to. I prefer plasma fruit and plasma packs.” Guinevere shifted in her seat, embarrassed. It felt weird to talk freely about this with a human. “We have a law in place, for the protection of both humans and vampires. Until recently, it was illegal to drink from humans — it was just recently changed that if the humans give consent, without being influenced, they can be fed upon. They can’t be turned or drained though, that’s still highly illegal.”
“So…Are you the only monarch? What is the difference between grand masters and the monarch?” Guinevere took a deep breath.
“Yes. I am indeed the only known monarch, there might be obscure colonies or tribes of vampires in the southern hemisphere with their own monarchy…but as far as I know, it all started with my great-great grandfather. The difference between a monarch and grand master, hmm, that’s a difficult thing to explain. I guess grand masters are strong and powerful vampires that are knowledgeable in vampire lore and ways. They are probably one the highest respected vampires in our culture and are very seldom questioned. As for a monarch, they are vampires that are supposed to be for the betterment of vampires, but sadly it hasn’t been the case…and I plan on changing it.”
“Very, very interesting. Can you tell me about your government system?”
“I’m not entirely sure the League would appreciate if I went into detail, so I’ll try to keep it brief…Watcher knows I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I ‘gave away’ all of ‘our secrets.’ but basically I am the highest authority, however I answer to the League if I do something wrong. The League was first established in the late fifteen hundreds, and is made of monarch appointed vampires for the sole purpose of keeping the monarch in line. And of course, they have benefits. They’re given leadership positions over an appointed colony, and get to live in Forgotten Hollow. They’re meant to work together with the monarch to better their colonies…it’s a very give and take relationship.”
“That sounds complex, off the record though, it sounds like you really dislike the League.” Agnes set the tablet aside and gave her full attention to Guinevere.
“Off the record, only because I feel like I can trust you. I fucking hate them. I want to dismantle the whole thing, because there’s a select few that have grown so corrupt. They are only looking out for themselves or their family.” Guinevere let out a frustrated breath.
“Then do it. I may not know a thing about your politics…but I know a thing or two about corruption. It will continue to spread to the point of paranoia. You won’t know who to trust at the end of the day, and you may be built for survival, but what will happen when even you can’t see it coming from those who trusted most?” Guinevere looked down at her hands. She’s right. I’ve already felt the paranoia…
“Thank you Agnes. I’ve been so blinded by doing my duty that I didn’t stop and think about the long lasting damage. I’ll keep your words in consideration the next time I meet with the League. I’ve threatened to dismantle it in moments of anger, but I never follow through with it…soon they’ll stop taking me seriously when I say it.”
“I do ask, because I feel like we could be friends, to be careful when going about it. Have a replacement plan in place, and follow through with it.” Guinevere nodded. She had been thinking about what to do in it’s place. maybe instead of replacing it entirely…replace the people. Then go from there. She already had ideas of who would replace who. Diego obviously would replace Van Gould. Maybe I could beg Lilith to replace Wogan. Caleb could stay, and so could Bernard.
“I still have more questions before we end the interview. If that’s okay.”
“Go right ahead. I could answer all day if I needed to.” Agnes picked up her table and scrolled through the app for a few minutes.
“Are you married or have you ever been married? Or in love?” Guinevere took a moment to think about the question. Would she really believe me if I said no?
“In vampire culture, vampires often marry for life. Granted there are a few that don’t, but that’s either their upbringing or personality. I have not been married, and I’ve never been in love. I’ve felt lust and acted upon those urges…it’s not like I’m a thirty-one thousand virgin. I am however dating someone in the prospect of a political marriage. I’m taking it slow to make sure we’re compatible outside of politics.”
“If there’s a wedding, I do hope you’ll invite me!” Agnes winked and typed on the tablet.
“Of course. Would you like to come as a reporter, or a friend?” Giggles erupted from Guinevere. The look on Agnes’ face was priceless – she looked sincerely confused, but touched at the implications of friendship.
“I would be honored to come as a friend. But of course, I may write a short article about the wedding afterwards. Anyway! Next question: How do you make money? I’m going to assume the bills on this place are horrendous.” Guinevere laughed.
“This place runs on candles and water from the stream. I would love to add electricity so I can have have a tv and a proper stereo. And heated water on demand. But! I am rich because my father and grandfather heavily taxed everyone. I’ve already lowered the taxes and made plans to put tax money back into the community. I’m going to earn my own money by reopening my grandmother’s apothecary and running it. It’ll be open for humans to visit too. I’m a skilled herbalist and make everything from fresh ingredients from the castle garden. And yes, that was a shameless plug.” Both women laughed.
“I’ll keep that in. I’m looking forward to the opening and wish nothing but success for it. Okay, last question! Why are you just now coming out to the world after being in hiding for so long?” Guinevere tried to recall what she had said at the conference.
“At the conference I said it was to promote friendship, and to help ease the fear of my people. But I was naive — now they’re even more afraid because of radical anti-vampire groups popping up. I still want to promote friendship, but now I want to end the stereotype that all vampires are evil incarnate. I can promise that most vampires follow our laws and our traditions. They’ve become harmless over the centuries…unless they are provoked. Then I feel sorry for the poor sap, and I won’t apologize for the vampire. However, I do NOT condone a vampire actively going out and harming a human. That is the furthest from my beliefs and my policies. Sorry for running on, but to simply answer: I want to promote friendship and end the stereotypes before they get too damaging.” As soon as Agnes finished typing on the tablet, there was a knock on the door.
“Sorry to interrupt, but lunch is ready.” Yuki came in with a smile. She came into view and curtsied.
“Thank you Yuki, you may have the rest of the day for yourself. I’ll have Sam clean up once we’re done.” Yuki curtsied again and left. “Shall we eat? I hope you’re hungry.” The women left the room, walked down the hall and entered the dining room.
The first thing Agnes noticed was how grand it was, then she noticed two very well-known paintings.
“That’s the Mona Lisa, and the Birth of Venus…are-are they real?” She was in awe of the paintings as they sat.
“Off the record. Yes. The copies in the museums are just that…copies painted by the original painters. We have the originals of most famous paintings. My mother loved art, it was her passion. My father would always use these paintings as a way to bring my mother back home…she was a free spirit and extremely hot-headed and passionate. She refused to sit by my father’s side if he was content with being idle. They loved each other deeply though, she just loved her people more.”
“It sounds like you’ve inherited your mother’s spirit.” Agnes smiled kindly before taking a bite of her sandwich. “Gunther must have told you my favorite food.” Guinevere slyly smirked and took a bite of the plasma salad. I’m going to regret eating this later…I just know it.
“Of course. I wanted you to enjoy today. And what’s a better way to end it than having a meal of your favorite food?” The women ate in silence, which was only broken with the occasional question and answer. Once lunch was over, Guinevere and Agnes exchanged personal numbers and parted ways. Guinevere felt confident about the interview. She felt like she had made another human friend today, and was excited to see her again. I should call Gunther and let him know everything went smoothly. She thought as she went to the Blue Room.