James’s Note: I’ve been excited to get to this story for a while, partially because it’s about vampires. I always loved Dracula, but really got into a role playing game, Vampire: the Masquerade, when I was in college. It had some awesome stories, but also some tropes I just thought were dumb. Just like the last story, this is my rebuttal to the modern fantasy genre.
Anton straightened his improbably charming bow tie. He was finally back on familiar footing. “ You see Witcherman, my employer’s brother was just murdered.”
Anton just dropped that fact in the middle of the conversation and let it lay there like a dead wildebeest. I knew exactly who his employer was, and I knew who his brother was. They were both elder vampires, the kind with a capital E. And while I wouldn’t call their power incalculable, you would probably have needed several whiteboards and an abacus to calculate it properly. If someone had managed to kill a vampire with the power to be considered a tactical level demigod, this was probably going to spell bad news for the city.
Anton looked smug. I didn’t begrudge him that. His authoritative recapture of the conversation was his little revenge for me making him wait.
“Let me guess. Your boss wants me to find out who did it?”
“Oh no,” Anton said briskly, “ Master Moragain knows full well who killed his brother. What he needs from you is proof to present to the other elders so there will be no misunderstandings when he retaliates.”
That absolutely sounded like vampire logic to me.
It would be unfair to say that I didn’t like vampires. That would just be racism. No, what I didn’t like about vampires was that most of them firmly believe they were the most important being in the universe. Sometimes it seems like narcissistic personality disorder may be a side effect of their undead transformation.
That’s not true of course, because some vampires are perfectly reasonable. Much like with werewolves, it’s just a toxic culture. The elder vampires brutally control the younger ones in the name of protecting the species. Part of what props up the system is that every vampire dreams of someday becoming an elder. Ultimate tyrannical power sounds just fine as long as you get to wield it.
The problem is, the elder vampires have a point. When vampires are allowed to feed on humans without restriction, you can end up with all kinds of Lost Boys, Elizabeth Bathory, Blood-pocalypse nonsense. The younger vamps are controlled by fear and ambition, two things most of them have in abundance.
“Alright,” I said, “I’ll look into it, but on my terms. I go where I want, I talk to who I want, and I ask any questions I want. If he hires me, he’s paying for the truth. I’m not going to take his money just to amen whatever perception bias his blood-soaked gray matter may have dreamed up. Also, he’s going to have to pay out the undead rectum.”
Anton inclined his head with the sort of classy tolerance that I’m sure could become infuriating with enough time. “My master wouldn’t have it any other way.”