Quartz: Hullo, Juliet and Albert, welcome to the Fourth Wall. (Picture a dwarf with a graying beard, with a fair number of dark and russet streaks, and an increasingly red nose, sitting on that wall.) I’m drinking a mead eggnog. That’s right, mead mixed with eggnog. Don’t give me that look, scribbler.
Me: (mutters from behind the curtain) I suppose it wasn’t that bad, but I only put a little mead in the eggnog. It’s no longer the season, Quartz.
Quartz: Bah, it’s whatever season we want and we’re drowning our sorrows in whatever we want. (gives the vampires a sideways glance) Or whoever we want as long as it’s not me. (pauses) On the other hand, getting bitten by a couple of vamps might really make Nimmie Not squeal like a pixie-
Quartz: Right, I’ve invited you here to join me to talk about the young. Our young, whether they’re our surrogate children or simply our progeny. Christopher and Neil are their names, aren’t they? In their current, ahem, existences?
Albert: Nice to meet you, Quartz and Juliet (nods and hopes his smile doesn’t appear as wary as he feels, because although Albert has existed for more than two thousand years, this is the first time he’s encountered this intriguing wall…not to mention, Quartz…or Juliet). Ah, yes…Neil is my blood-mate’s name. His human name was Phillip, but he was given a new identity after being converted. I’ve actually converted hundreds of the humans we’ve recruited to join our faction over the past few centuries, but contrary to most of the lore, there’s no connection between a freshly turned vampire and their maker (glances at Juliet). Not in my reality, anyway, I’m not sure how things work in Juliet’s world. Neil is my blood-mate, but not because I’m the one who turned him.
Juliet: Fascinating. (she smiles at Albert). I would love to learn more about that, but another time. (She turns back to Quartz), it’s a pleasure to meet you both in such an unusual manner. (She glances around for a place to sit and decides to tempt fake, snaps her fingers and a chair appears. She smiles and takes a seat, crossing her legs). It’s not often I travel to other…realms…I guess you would say. To your question. Yes, Chris would be my Called. Like Neil, Chris is a new identity for my Called. His birth human name was Duncan. We are connected, unlike with Albert and Neil.
Quartz: My brothers and I took in a human girl, gave her shelter. I guess you could say she became my daughter. (lowers head) She used to be called Blanche. Hated the name. (smiles a little) That’s why I gave her the nickname Fairest. Sweet maid, that one, always did her best, although she had a tendency to brood. Usually about one particular someone, I found out later. (scowls) Drove me batty, the way she brooded, although she was starting to get better, until that someone showed up and ruined it. (scowls some more) Anything your Called or your bloodmate do that drives you batty? Makes you want to put your fist through the wall or worse?
Juliet: (Laughs) Chris? No. He’s charming and polite. He can be a little unsure of himself and overly emotional but that is common in new Immortals, at least in my world (she glances at Albert). There is nothing that would make me want to put my fist through a wall, however, I will admit there have been occasions where Chris and I do not agree.
Albert: (nods at Juliet) Understandably, our new ones are often unsure of themselves, too. (shrugs) Maybe if I had encountered Neil when I was human, or even in my earliest centuries as a frightened vampire, his insecurities might have angered me. But the thing is, I’ve got millennia of experience dealing with people and learning to understand that it’s usually best to simply lead them in the right direction. If I had let my emotions rule me, I never would have been elevated to faction leader (hangs his head and gnaws lip before looking back up and shuddering at the vile looking mixture in the weird dwarf’s mug). Okay, if I’m going to be completely honest, then I have to admit that having my own blood-mate is a new experience, and that’s a whole other ballgame than simply dealing with regular humans or vampires. When Neil thought I was capable of—(winces)—well, never mind. He didn’t know me very well then. But it really hurt, and I’m ashamed to admit that I did let my emotions rule my reaction even though I didn’t resort to violence.
Quartz: It’s hard to get your emotions out of it when it’s someone you care for. I’ll tell you one thing that makes me want to spit magma. If I were a dragon, like Pru, the ruddy countryside would be burning around that thing’s castle. Not that the castle is my problem. It’s the witch queen living within it, like a snug little spider tucked up in her web. (scowls) Who does she think she is, breaking my poor girl’s heart? Oh, right, she’s the bloody queen. Only that wasn’t bad enough for her, oh, no. She has to come back and wreck my Fairest’s life, right when she was putting it back into something vaguely resembling contentment by cursing her! Albert, man, you know something of this, don’t you?
Albert: Hmm (scratches his chin). You’re referring to Neil’s ex, Cameron, and Cam’s new boyfriend, Dennis, right? How do you know about them? (eyes the wall suspiciously and sighs) I regret so much of what happened with those two. If only they’d accepted things at face value and let it go. But no, they had to pursue us. They thought they were doing the right thing, but they were caught up in all the misleading vampire lore and thought we were evil beings. (gives head a sad shake) In past centuries we encouraged the incorrect lore because it helped us hide in plain sight, but in situations like what happened with Cam and Dennis it works against us.
Quartz: Exes, I swear, they’re like bloody skulls and crossbones. (takes a big gulp of his drink) Grinning at you, ready to cast their miserable shadow over anything like happiness… Juliet, d’ye have any such skulls hovering over your unlife? Or Christopher’s?
Juliet: (Clears her throat) there are always things in our past that could have been handled better, or should not have happened at all.
Quartz: Huh, that’s a bit different than what Victor said.
Juliet: (Her eyes narrow and a frown tugs at her lips). Yes, well Victor has a tendency to speak out of turn about matters that are best left in the past.
Quartz: Yes, some things are best left in the past…like bloody Oriana. Why couldn’t she just let things be? No, she has to sneak into our cottage and steal our daughter from us. Once she’d made us all miserable, she comes crying to my brothers and myself. As if she were the one who’d been cursed. What’s the point in casting enchantments if you can’t fix the damage you’ve done? (mimicking a high pitched desperate tone) “Oh, I don’t know what went wrong. Why can’t my kiss wake her up? Boo hoo!” Blast it all to the depths, why are innocent lasses who use magic to heal people hated as witches, yet a queen wreaks evil spells and everybody loves her? Eh? How exactly does that makes her fair? Just what did my girl ever see in her??!
Juliet: (leaning forward). Not all witches are hated, Quartz. Some make excellent allies. I find that it is those who desire power to be the ones you have to worry about. Sadly, that isn’t only limited to witches, Immortals can be that way, so can humans, and all other manner of beings. It can be anyone, including a beloved ally (she shakes her head).
Albert: Witches? I’m pretty sure they don’t exist in my…uh…realm. Not real witches able to cast actual spells (turns to Quartz and nods). But I thought you made an excellent point, Quartz. All too often people can’t—or won’t—see the evil wrought by those in power. I was forced to do horrible things when I was human, as a Roman soldier. It was that or have those same horrible things done to me (quakes at the memory, which is far worse than the nasty beverage Quartz keeps downing). And yet, the general population respected those leaders. I’m still not sure how I feel about Neil knowing the story of what I did.
Quartz: (takes another generous swig of his unseasonal concoction) Honestly, the young. Sometimes I don’t understand them. Why do they do such fool things? Although I suppose I did fool things myself. Like move into a cottage a kobold offered me…with a bloody cuckoo clock. Ruddy wooden bird..(hiccups) What about you two? Ever do silly things yourselves when you were young?
Albert: (grins) I’ll have to go all the way back to when I was young as a human, because when I was a “young” vampire, my life was too terrifying for silliness. As a human child, I was fortunate. I had kindhearted parents, and silliness was encouraged. I was a creative child and liked to form creatures, real and imagined, out of clay. I can still hear echoes of my family’s laughter at some of the playacting I did with the figures (snorts a laugh, and shakes his head). I need to share that memory with Neil. As an adult, most of the silliness I’ve participated in has taken place in bedrooms, and that’s…personal (glares at the wall and hopes that stuff is private).
Juliet: (a grin fills her face). Many, many silly things. (She laughs).
Quartz: Care to share?
Juliet: Not at the moment, perhaps another time.
Quartz: Ah, youth. Such folly, such beautiful folly. (smiles a little) In the end, what did we learn after all these years?
Juliet: For me it’s been all about becoming a better person and helping my people. As well as keeping them safe. Our world is changing and we all must adapt or die.
Albert: I couldn’t agree more, Juliet! That’s how we operate in my world, too. Life is short (laughs). Okay, maybe not for vampires. But still, life is precious, and should be respected. We do our best not to negatively affect human lives, because to people like us—yes, “people”!—who measure their lives in centuries and millennia, human lives seem so very transient.
Quartz: Well, thank’ee, Juliet, Albert, for joining on the fourth wall. The view is nice from up here…(looks down and passes out)
Juliet: (rushes from her chair to catch Quartz). What an odd little man. (She places him on the ground next to the wall). It’s was an interesting session and Albert I would love to opportunity to learn more about your world and the rules that govern it. Regardless, it was a pleasure meeting another Immortal from a different reality.
Albert: (steps forward to catch the strange, drunken dwarf who has, after all, demonstrated a decent moral code, but Juliet is fast, and gets there first) Yes. Interesting indeed. It was a pleasure meeting you, too, Juliet (eyes Quartz, sprawled inelegantly in the grass, and sighs). And Quartz.