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ONE MORE ANSELM UPDATE, THEN KINGFISHING RESUMES...

HALLOWEEN AND XMAS SPECIALS NOW LINKED FROM BONUS PAGE!

 

KINGFISHER TALES PRESENTS:

THE THREE QUEENS, PART ONE

(Transcript and visual captions below)

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The Three Queens

          Voices cried out for Anselm, scratching, shoving at the walls. They begged for him, howled his name. But each time he considered answering the calls, slender deer legs pinned him to his gritty bed and fluttering wings hurried him back to sleep. The sun dipped beneath the horizon and his eyes flickered open, staring up at his water-stained ceiling. Dani on the third floor paced through her living room on a tense phone conversation with her mother. Two rooms away an old man suppressed sneeze after sneeze. Every word of every television show in the building, every creaking pipe and passing car. Then, a polite knock to his door.

The Three Queens

 

        A pillar of flame stood on the other side of the peephole. After some blinking and squinting, he could make out the new office manager, Concetta. She was an artist and had seemed genuine, though they'd only talked once or twice at the mailbox or when he dropped off his benefits statement. He performed his newly minted routine of blanket on dirt, robe on body, and answered the door. Her glossy eyes searched him.
        “Anselm, I’m so happy you’re home today. Is it too early?”
        “You know I keep strange hours. I’m awake now though, come in.”
She flicked on the light switch as she followed him inside. “It’s so dark… Sorry. Well, I don’t know how to say this, but Wagner called the office and said he’d bumped into Cosette yesterday.”
        Anselm collapsed into a side chair. Fantastic, Cosette surely told the world about the lone survivor of the disaster. They'd all be throwing him a Glad-You-Didn't-Die-I-Guess celebration any moment now.
        “News travels fast,” he said.
        “You know Wagner.”
        “Oh sure, I know him. So, uh,” he restrained the irritation from his voice as best he could, “What's up?”
        She knit her brow into a deep furrow. “It’s true? You were there?”
        “I don’t know what the story has turned into, but I did go to that party. Just briefly. I didn't see anything special.”
        “Still, I can't believe… ” She shuddered, lurched forward and collapsed her small body against his.
        “Aw.”
She sobbed wetly and he patted her shoulder. Her flames licked around him, if he held her for long enough, would his arms begin to burn as well? She pulled away when she realized she wasn’t comforting him— just herself. She brushed back her hair and recovered some dignity. “I heard Von Hechten organized it. Was he still there?”
        “I think he left early too.”
        “Really? That’s the best news I’ve heard about this, not that there has been any good news. You don’t think the police will prosecute him, do you?”
        “No,” (sadly) “It sounds like they already found a culprit. He might get a fine but no big loss for someone that rich.”
        “Mm-hmm…” she narrowed her eyes for a moment, then blinked away some welling tears.
        “You’re not working this late because of me, are you?”
        “No, there was a maintenance issue but then— Um, I wanted to ask you… We have a lot of trespassers lately because of the news. Do you have an idea how we should handle it?”
        “Oh lord, they’re trespassing now? They couldn’t rouse me today, maybe that will cool them off. Tell them to leave a message or call me. I don’t know why everyone has to come all the way out here, it’s ridiculous.”
        “I noticed some friends of yours in the lobby so I didn’t toss them out immediately. You know Egon and Lusit?”
        “…Maybe you should toss them out next time.”

 

The Three Queens

The Three Queens

         “Anselm!” Lusit scrambled up to her knees, “Thank god, I don’t know why, I was starting to worry.”
        “Yeah,” Egon said, “You look hungry. You should come eat with us.”
        “No no,” Lusit said, “A show! You need to live!”
Anselm found a corner to lean against, letting the flames around his human friends obscure their expressions.
        “You just saw me yesterday. Why don’t you call next time? The landlady may send the police after you. What's so urgent?”
        “She wouldn’t,” Lusit said, “She’s Kastanian, they’re such warm people. Anyway, life is urgent. We want what’s best for you. For you to live, to love, to get out of this gruesome oubliette and experience fresh air and real people, before you forget yourself and become just another— just another—”

 

        Anselm blinked. “A memory.”
        “That’s right! A memory.”
        Egon said, “I think we should get some food first, they’ll probably only have little hors d’oeuvres. Not enough.”
        “I’ve got plans tonight,” Anselm said, “And you can’t go beating my door down unannounced! I’ve hardly been able to sleep.”
        “I’m sure,” Lusit clasped a hand to her heart, “The guilt eating away at you. How dreadful.”
        Egon lolled his head against the sofa, “We can stop at BonMart and get some deli food. It keeps pretty well under the heat lamps though by the time we see it, it’ll be a few hours old…”

The Three Queens
 

   Another ball of fire approached— a man with beady eyes behind thick glasses. He squinted at Anselm and stepped forward.
        “Herr Eichel?”
        Anselm glanced to the non-plussed schoolies and back. He didn't recognize the man, but he could barely identify him as human anyway. “Uh, hello?”
        “I hate to interrupt,” said the man, “We’ve been trying to locate you.”
        “Ooooh the police,” Lusit murmured.
        “No,” said the stranger, “Though have you spoken to them yet?”
        “What is this then?” Anselm asked.
        “You’re the only surviving guest of the Worshipper Ganzer fire, Herr Eichel. I’m from Das Spektator, just a few questions—”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chilly presence breezed in through the lobby door in a miasma of expensive cologne. Von Hechten turned straight to Anselm, the only fellow non-fireball in the room. “Why didn’t you answer your window? I can't just float around out—”
      The reporter scrambled for his recorder. “Herr Von Hechten?”
     “No comment!”
     “But what about Herr Eichel? Das Spektator would love to do a special interest piece on you. It could be very inspiring. The lone survivor!”
        Lusit straightened up. “What what what? Anselm, you should do that! And Herr Von Hechten, I respect your work, truly! Such an amazing moment! A meeting of minds, oh wow.”
        “No, no,” Anselm edged away from the schoolies and the stranger and Von Hechten took him under his wing. What a world in which your murderer is the best option. “I’m sorry. Just say— uh, that I feel very…”

The Three Queens

 

 

 

 

 

 

        “—Fortunate!” Von Hechten said. “Now we must—”
        “What of the accountability?” The reporter followed them to the door, “How is it that the man who organized the party is spared the fate of his guests? Who do you feel is responsible? What of the arts—”
        Anselm glanced back, “The party was too big. Surely broke safety codes—”
        Von Hechten snapped his fingers, “—We must be going presently. Anselm, please get into the car.”
        Lusit called after them, “See? You do have things to say, it would be good to work through that trauma, with this reporter maybe? I'm sure lots of people would love to hear about it! Why suffer alone, at least let it inspire others!”
        Egon’s voice barely carried, “Have you had dinner? Could you pick something up?”
        The reporter trailed them to Von Hechten’s car, but stayed his distance as Regen cast a withering stare from the back seat. Von Hechten opened the passenger side for Anselm like the proper chauffeur he’d promised to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

         Anselm took his seat and watched the forlorn reporter through the window. He caught the man’s gaze and nodded to Von Hechten. The reporter looked confused until Anselm mouthed 'IT'S HIM' and bugged his eyes with terror. The reporter gasped and scrambled to take notes. Anselm chuckled quietly as the car rolled away.

 

 

The Three Queens

The Three Queens

 

        “This whole experience has been less than ideal…” Von Hechten glanced to him, “Now, don't you want to stop somewhere for better clothes?”
        “I didn't expect to go out in a hurry. Eh, no, we've got a lot to do.”
        “Not such a hurry that we couldn't improve your… situation. Think of what you're doing. You're presenting yourself.”
        “It's not so bad, is it? It's all clean.”
        “They're nobility. You are too, for that matter.”
        “It’s not all that different from Finsterwald last night? And he was wearing lingerie.”
        Von Hechten curled his lip. “It only looks similar on a vulgar level. His was designer. Everyone can tell. People notice these things.”
        “I already made my good first impression last night.”
        “A good second impression is just as important!”
        Regen leaned forward, “It's nothing. No one will care.”
        Von Hechten fluttered his eyelids. “Fine, fine. No one respects the wisdom of experience.”

        Anselm was ordered to choose a CD from neatly organized rows of discs under the front console. CDs! How posh. The stereo even allowed multiple discs with some kind of whirling machinery he could scarcely comprehend. Maybe he could replace his own towering collection of cassettes soon, now that he'd 'moved up in the world.' He chose a disc at random; they were all classical genres he cared nothing for. The music that poured out threatened to put him back into a supernatural slumber. It was all terribly classy.
        Regen caught his eye in the rearview mirror, “You seem less distracted. Have the animals quieted some?”
        “Yes, I didn’t notice until now.”
        “That's exactly what they said would happen. Excellent.”
Anselm smiled tightly. He hadn’t tried to summon the beasts yet. Would they really come to his aid? At least now if his thoughts wandered to murder, he’d know it was his own idea.
        Von Hechten looked pleased. “And once they are gone, any insistent intrusions will be gone as well. No inner demons telling you what to do.”
        “Not inner ones, no.” Anselm said.
        Regen laughed, and Von Hechten only furrowed his brow a millimeter.
        “You will be free to do as you please.”
        “You have some suggestions though, don’t you?” Anselm asked.
        “Not much that I haven’t already expressed. But do you listen to my advice at all? Regen may be thoughtful but her taste in fashion…”
        “She seems perfectly put together,” Anselm glanced back at her. Her dress seemed clean enough.
        Von Hechten snorted. “You’re trying to get my goat.”
        Regen looked up with a little smile, “You got old, VonHeh.”
        He turned the classy music up another several notches. “Keep telling yourself that.”

        The trees grew thicker and the streetlamps more sporadic. Creatures moved between the trunks, fireballs flitting from branch to branch. A distant owl hovered like a glowing balloon. Regen leaned back and rested a heavy boot against Anselm’s seat.         
        “So, Griselda Dallmann is first.”
        “Griselda, she was the one who—”
        “No, call her Dallmann,” Von Hechten said, “That is a safer bet. Some progenitors use familiar names with each other but do not presume.”
        “They call you Lorenz?” Anselm asked.
        Von Hechten wrinkled his nose. “I’d prefer they didn’t. It’s a dignity we appreciate as independent and self-possessed sorts.”
        Regen said, “I prefer it too.”
        “Interesting,” Anselm said, “I guess it must lose its association with one's human family the older you get.
        Von Hechten glanced over, “You don’t prefer it. Does it say something about you?”
        “Does it? I guess I'm like those professors that say, 'don't call me Herr such-and-such, that's my father.' And I’d rather not be—”
        Von Hechten turned his head with a little too much interest.
        “—Anyhow,” Anselm waved it away, “What else should I know about her? You covered her figure well enough last time.”
        Regen narrowed her eyes, “Really.”
        “What would you want to know?” Von Hechten asked.
Anselm watched the trees whipping by. “I'm sure it's not polite to ask about how someone died, but it is a bit curious in her case, being so young.”
        “Something to do with weddings and the illegality of divorce? I've heard more than one story.
        “Huh, that sounds glamorous.”
        “Ah yes, she was quite a hot item back then. Ahahaha—”
Regen poked him in the back of the neck. “Thin ice.”

 

 

The Three Queens

 

        They seemed to have just taken a random turn into the trees, driving along in the dark over a lumpy forest floor until the tires hit gravel and they followed an unlit path. They came upon a little cottage… Golden light shone behind lacy curtains, and sounds of genial conversation emanated from within. In life, Anselm's stomach would have been in knots at a coming social interaction, another benefit to undeath. He didn't have much time to contemplate his words before Von Hechten opened his door and stared expectantly. That was far worse than any awkward social scenario.

The Three Queens

        Regen joined them, and they strolled over the broken cobblestones and Von Hechten knocked on a rustic wooden door.
        Power cords snaked up the walls, subtly hidden among the construction. Otherwise it was a scene from a fairy tale. Frilly bits of ivy poked out between the boards, fluffy moss formed around the window frames. Too cute to be habitable for modern humans, but good enough to stash one's undead body. Footsteps pattered to the door, and it opened to a gust of warm air.
        A cutesy vampire maid looked straight to Anselm.
        “Eichel, you may come in to the parlor. The rest of you… would you mind?”
        Regen’s jaw dropped.
        “Really!” Von Hechten said, “That’s impolite. Not even the parlor?”
        “No.”
He raised both hands grandiosely and turned to Anselm.
        “Have a lovely time, and don’t forget your other appointments.”

 

The Three Queens

 

        Anselm watched his companions return to the darkness of their sports car, when he felt a cold hand on his shoulder.
        “Don’t keep her waiting…”
        He nodded and slipped past the maid and into the warm cottage, “Ooh, they didn’t like that.”
        “Oh well. Who cares about them?”
        A crackling fire burned in a rough-hewn fireplace, casting the room in a golden glow. The cabin was stuffed with antique wooden furniture and charming little knick-knacks. The smell of ancient cloth mixed with the wood smoke and gentle rot.
        Dallmann beckoned Anselm closer with open arms. She sat at a grand dining table and the rest of her underdressed family lurked at her sides. Anselm approached and she took his hands and squeezed them tightly.
        “Thank you so much for coming, Eichel. Do enjoy our hospitality! What do you think of the place?”
        “It's beautiful, thank you for inviting me.”

The Three Queens
 

         “Aww that’s sweet! It takes tons of work to keep it clean, I hate to put my babies through it, but how can I not? It’s so boring!”
        The maid lowered her eyelids dutifully, “It’s okay, we don’t mind.”
Anselm glanced around, it was like an exhibit in the children’s museum. 'This is how quaint old-time people lived. Now don't touch any of the wax replicas.'
         “It's amazing something like this exists so close to the city. How long have you lived here?”
        She continued squeezing his hands and rocking side to side, “Sometimes I forget. This is the second building, it’s a few hundred years old, there was another one before that… You can still see the foundations if you look carefully. Now that you’ve become a noble, you should find a cute place too! It's no good to live like a human now.”
        “It would be nice, I have been very poor. Guess I can save some money on groceries.”
        She grinned and bounced up and down, “Isn’t it great? So many pesty needs before, now replaced by just one need! And an easy one, too.”
        “Sleeping in dirt is a little strange, but I think I'll get used to it.”
        She still held his hands, cold, pudgy fingers gripping him tightly. “You'd be surprised, in time it can feel comfortable, even pleasurable. But let’s talk about things that are lovelier than dirt. You are so adorable. You could be Alfonso’s little brother. Aww…”
        The man of her family smiled coquettishly. He was surely several years younger than Anselm, in a physical sense, but larger than him in every respect.
        Anselm chuckled. “Er, thank you. Everyone here is very lovely.” The other family members awaited their orders around the edges of the room. The maid ran a comically oversized feather duster over some porcelain figures. Dallmann leaned forward, staring at him with moony eyes.
        “What an exciting time. A new progenitor, a new life for our city. I can’t wait to know everything about you.”
        “I hope I won't be too boring.” He worked his hands away from her and took a seat, his jacket folded on his lap to avoid poking ancient furniture.
        “Hehe, no way someone as cute as you could be boring!” she continued rocking in place, “So what did you do again? Some sort of artwork?”

        “Yes, I did illustration. This house looks like something I would draw, straight out of a fairy tale.”
        “Aw! I’d love to see it. You have to be the most artistic progenitor in town!”
        “Really? That's a little surprising, but thank you. You have a lot of art here, do you collect it? Or do you do art yourself?”
        “Haha, I am art! Well, some artists have said that.” She gestured to a nearby panel-painting. It was in remarkable condition, so much so that he had assumed it was just an affected old-fashioned style.
        “That's me! People loved painting me. It was considered a craft back then, just another trade. Everything has changed. Maybe that's why we don't have many artists in our rank, everyone had to be fancy back in the day. The closest we had was Von Hechten, and pfffttt—” She blew a raspberry. Anselm restrained laughter.
        “What do you know about Von Hechten?” Dallmann asked with sparkly eyes, “What do you think about him?”
Anselm chewed on his words and Dallmann watched him, unblinking.
        He combed a hand through his hair, “I didn’t care for him much as a human… I've known him for a few years, but we weren't close. At all. He’s owns his printing house, ‘the family business’ he said. I heard his progenitor died in a fire?”

The Three Queens
  Dallmann didn't change expression from wide-eyed curiosity,
        “Yes, old Holber. The unfortunate and sad character. The world of the night was too much for him to bear. But Von Hechten… He’s got no excuses. Wouldn’t you agree?”
        “Haha— ah, yes, I would. I don’t know… having him around this way, it’s hard to deal with. I don’t mean to complain…”
She clasped her soft hands at her chest.
        “Complain! Such a tasteless brute masquerading in his fancy little outfits.” Her male companion winced at some distasteful memory.
        Anselm did his best not to contemplate that. “It’s— ugh, even besides the other night— he wasn’t someone I had fond memories of. Now this, it's what he said more than what he did.”
        “I know! How rude. I could hardly watch, it was like— so sad. But now, there's such an obvious solution. That silly boy invoked his own destruction.”
        Anselm widened his eyes.
        “Hm?” Dallmann cocked her head, “Are you okay? We’ve got sedative blood.”
        “Oh— oh no, thank you. I’m sorry. What do— um, I didn’t understand.”

The Three Queens

        “Say,” she snapped her fingers and her children hopped to their feet. “Let's go lounge by the fire. It's super comfy.”         The shirtless man pulled out Anselm's chair and the maid led Dallmann with a hand on her back.
        The two progenitors sat on cushy chairs that let out faint plumes of dust on being disturbed. The maid and her siblings disappeared into darker recesses of the cottage.
        Dallmann got comfortable and continued, “It’s simple. Since Holber is no longer among us, Von Hechten is without protection. It does not matter if he dies. Especially if the person who took his life was a progenitor such as yourself.”
        Anselm glanced toward the door and Dallmann waved her hand dismissively.
        “They know better than to tattle, they'd have to answer to me, after all!”
He leaned back with parted lips, searching for words.
        “The… animals that I saw, the ‘guides,’ they were very insistent about— uh, killing him. He knew.”
        Dallmann giggled. “I haven’t thought about that in soooo long! But everyone knows about that. Von Hechten had no special insight, I assure you.”
        Anselm shifted uncomfortably, “He’s so old… they showed me the powers, it was very…”
        Dallmann wrinkled her nose, “Ugh, that's totally gauche. He's more powerful than you right now, sure. But if you wanted to take revenge for that crude display the other night, I could help you. I could kill him for you.”
        A shocked smile crossed Anselm's face, until something caught his eye, moving among Dallmann's scrunchies.

    

The Three Queens

 

 

NO YOU PROMISED YOU ALONE YOU PROMISED

        “Well?” Dallmann wiggled and the bird bobbed along. “What do you think? Consider it a ‘welcome to town’ gift. It would be sooo easy.”
        Anselm turned from the staring creatures and feigned a thoughtful look. “I suppose if I— if I did— it sounds silly, but I guess I should do it myself.”
        “Aw, it could be difficult but I respect that so much! Everything you do is great, Eichel!”
        “That's sweet, thank you.”
        “So, do you want to get better acquainted with my babies? They're very talented. Y'know? Heehee!”
        “Ehm, heh, that's very kind of you…”

    

The Three Queens

 

        Forest creatures rustled around the sports car and cottage's murmuring conversation was indecipherable even to supernatural ears. Von Hechten was affecting huffy poses in the dark, but couldn't find the legroom to cross his legs.
        “People don’t care about genuinely interesting things, you know? What is interesting about Anselm? He was just a human until but a few nights ago! Who cares about humans?”
        Regen watched a nightbird swooping for unseen, chirring insects.
        “It’s simpler for people to understand than your experiment. It's all a bit esoteric to most.”
        “But still, the essence of what happened is easy enough to understand.  A turned vampire created a progenitor. Interesting! Simple!”
        “I suppose it’s like the mother who becomes jealous of the newborn.”
        Von Hechten curled his lip. “How— I… am the mother? And jealous? Preposterous. I’m offended now.”
        “Well, you ‘created’ someone. What’s another analogy… the architect who gets less credit than the building itself?”
        “You’re not digging yourself out of this one, I’m truly offended.”
        Regen sighed into the window glass. “I’m just trying to boil down your position, sorry for any offense, dear friend.”
        Von Hechten squinted and rolled his head around in an indignant fit.
        “I made a progenitor!” He waved his hands wildly. “Why is no one interested in that!”

***

Anselm slipped back into the passenger seat, slightly disheveled but with a hopeful expression.
        “Well?” Von Hechten said, “What was so thrilling that the lowly peasants are not allowed? Did they break out the super drugs? Or knowing them, antique sex toys.”
        “I was given many interesting offers, but it was just a nice conversation. We talked about art and history, for the most part.”
        “She’s interested in art now, is she?” Von Hechten sneered. “That’s great. That’s really tremendous. Where to next, hm?” He slapped his hands on the steering wheel.
        Anselm turned his head from the display. “Whoever is closest. Was she not been interested in art before? She said I might be the most artistic progenitor, that’s nice.”
        “It’s a bit obvious but I suppose she likes to have cute little decorations about the place. It's not like she knows about actual art, the intellectual aspect of it.”
        Anselm looked over with a tight smile and then back to the window.
        Von Hechten rolled his eyes. “That’s right. You did think of yourself as the craftsman. Oh, goody goody. Perhaps we can sell her a book and you can use it to buy a new outfit. Well, Wolz and her Castle Turmfalke are not far from here.”
        Anselm was too busy watching an owl stalk a sleeping chipmunk to register the insult, “It’s strange I was there before, as a child. Two or three times even.”
        “Good thing you weren't eaten up by the wicked old vampire while you were on tour.”
        “She doesn't really do that?”
        “You're the expert on fairy stories. Find out for yourself.”

 

The Three Queens

 

        They passed through the city, and up a winding, lonely road. The chamber music took on a more funereal tone the longer it droned. The castle emerged from behind cresting hill long before they reached it. Only a few windows were lit, and the parking lot was empty save for a couple idle tour vans. The parking lot that had surely been a grand courtyard in some distant time. Anselm tried to restrain his wonder, but this nighttime excursion seemed so different than his previous trips with a bus full of rowdy kinder. No touching or wandering off, following along with the tour guide. What were in all those roped off rooms? Were the swords still sharp? Hm, maybe better not to find that out. Gobbled up by the wicked vampire…
The road ended at an electronic gate. Von Hechten leaned out to address a tiny speaker box.
        “Hello? Hellooo…! How does this
        A muffled voice responded. “The castle is closed to the public. Please come back tomorrow at—”
        “Yes, yes!” Von Hechten leaned out further to yell at the recorded message, “It’s Herr Eichel! Can you hear me? Are you listening? ARE YOU LISTENING?”
        The line crackled.“Uh, can you repeat that?”
        “It’s Herr Eichel! He has an invitation!”
The gate clicked, and rolled open.
        “I swear,” Von Hechten muttered as they passed through, “This is why I don't bother with hired help.”
        Anselm rolled down his window for a better view. “What must it be like to live here?”
        Von Hechten frowned. “It's fine and all, but don’t you think it’s a bit over the top? It’s not like herds of Zurisch are going to come down from the mountains and storm the gate.”
        “Yes,” Anselm said, ”Only one of them.”
        “…That’s quite right.”
        Regen rolled her eyes. “It’s not every night we get to come to a castle. It still has some romance, even for me.”
Von Hechten parked haphazardly in the middle of the lot.
        “Perhaps you’ll meet a knight in shining armor. …Who will be a little old lady with a broadsword.”
        “Little?” Anselm asked, “She’s taller I am.”
        “The point stands. Anyway, whatever, don't appreciate my wit. It's not like I've been lauded for it for centuries or anything.”
        Regen struck out on her own and Anselm made his own escape. They left a sneering Von Hechten behind to set his complex car alarm.
        A fiery human waited at the front door, a modern-sized replica of the enormous main gates beside them.
        “You are all together?” the human asked. Flames licked over his head, obscuring his facial expression.
        “Of course,” said Von Hechten as he came up from behind.
        “I should check to see if it’s okay if you all come in. There was only one name on the list.”
Von Hechten stared wide-eyed, and the man froze in place.
        “We are together,” Von Hechten said, “And it is okay. Wouldn’t you say so?”
        “Oh— uh— yes… except that I don’t have the authority and that’s been made expressly clear to me…”
        Von Hechten groaned. “Whatever.” He dropped his gaze and the human scuttled inside.
        Anselm glanced back, “Isn’t that a bit unethical?”
        “How so?”
        “Tricking someone into inviting you.”
        “What? He’s a human, you can do what you will with humans.”
        Anselm scrunched his face up and turned away. The trio said nothing to each other, stock-still and unbreathing. Anselm jingled his keys just to hear something. The human did not come back, instead a young, pierced vampire leaned outside.
 

 

The Three Queens

 

        “Wolz would like you to know that she does not appreciate the manipulation of her human staff and that only Eichel is welcome tonight.”
        “Really?” Regen lolled her head back, “Again? No castle for us.”
        “Oh, please.” Von Hechten crossed his arms. “At least let us wait in the lobby.”
        “I don’t make the rules,” said the young vampire, “You know Wolz.” There was something very human in the punkish boy's mannerisms. He had to be quite fresh.
        Anselm nodded to his keepers. “I’ll try to keep it brief.”
Von Hechten bowed flamboyantly and clasped his hands.
        “Yes! Thank you, Master Eichel. How very considerate.”
He strolled back in the general direction of the car, gripping the sides of his head.
        The young man cast a sheisty, low-level glance at Regen. She snapped her fingers with a silent snarl, and whipped around to follow Von Hechten. The young man giggled bashfully and let Anselm inside.
        They stepped into a darkened lobby, an open inner courtyard, surrounded by modern constructions— a cafe and gift shop. Above, stars sparkled through an iron skylight.

The Three Queens

 

        “I remember this place,” Anselm said.
        “You’ve done the tour?” The boy led him into a dark stairwell.
        “Not for a few years, but yes.”
        “Me too.”
        “That must be strange for you?”
        “Yeah it’s something else. So you’re a progenitor then?”
They walked winding stone steps. Anselm had been much smaller   the last time he'd climbed them.
        “Yes… I didn’t know it was so uncommon before.”
        “I guess it’s not super rare, it’s just what happened… That’s pretty weird.”
Anselm couldn't see his expression, as the boy walked in front of him.         “Oh no, were you there?”
        “Yes.”
Anselm let out a little sigh.
        “Um,” the boy turned back with a stiff smile, “Ah, don't worry about it. But I wonder, all that, the violence and everything. I can do some mental tricks but it's still kind of… Did you have an easier time with that? Because you’re a progenitor?”
Anselm touched the stone wall, much damper and colder than it had been in the day.
        “I don’t know, I was lucky to only see the aftermath as far as… the others were concerned. I think those two haven’t let me stop to consider anything. I do remember it though, clearly enough.”
        “Damn.”
        “You are young still?” Anselm asked.
        “Yeah, just for less than a year.”
        “Maybe it is a little different, I’m not sure. In some ways it’s—”
He knocked himself on the head. “Never mind that. Did you get the piercings before or after?”
        “Before. Makes it simpler. They heal right up otherwise.”
        “Ugh, still disappointed about my hair. I'd have to bleach it every night, wouldn't I?”
        “It's such a hassle, I know what you mean.”
They went through a creaking wooden door and emerged into a castle hall. Royalty had walked these halls, molecules of their skin and gowns were ground between the cobblestones. Perhaps their blood had been spilled in some forgotten revolution. Famous painters had carried their easels and satchels of precious pigments. He chewed back a thrilled smile.
        They entered a throne room with real thrones and everything. The dense metal furnishings seemed to radiate a deeper cold than even the stone walls. Anselm remembered seeing this scenery from behind ropes and watchful eyes. Now, the velvet ropes were tucked into a corner and the room was filled with undead creatures.

The Three Queens

 

        On the main throne, sat Wolz herself. Her children sat alongside her, their eyes flashing emerald at Anselm as he approached. He folded his hands and bowed slightly. Oh man, etiquette for rich people was one thing, but royalty?
Wolz fanned her clawed fingers in a double-handed wave.
        “Welcome, Eichel!”
        “Thank you for inviting me.”
        “It is my pleasure. I heard that Lorenz came with you.”
        “Ah yes, he offered to be my chauffeur. I’m sorry he was rude.”
She waved and the pierced young man arranged a chair facing Wolz.
        “No need to apologize,” she said, “Why must you keep that company? Do you have no other means of getting here?”
        “Hm, I should arrange one. He’s, trying to be helpful I suppose.”
        “For torturing you to death?”
        Anselm chuckled shyly. “Apparently so.”
        “What a fool. I trust you’ve been exhorted to unmake him?”
        “Ah—” He glanced at her companions. They hardly raised their brows. “Yes, I was. He um, he knows about that now.”
        “That could make things more difficult. But enough of that pompous buffoon. Perhaps you would like to undertake a more leisurely perusal of the public areas.”
        “I would like that very much, thank you.
The vampires rose to their feet. Wolz floated to the floor, her gown fluttered around her ankles.
        “This way…” She gestured grandly with her oversized hands, she must have been proud of them. Anselm followed and she nodded to her children. “Keep an eye on those two outside.”
        The slick-haired Ausmiller fell into the shape of a small shorebird and darted through a tall, open window. Anselm jolted but everyone carried on as if nothing had happened. Wolz led him into another hall, lined with paintings and antiques. The scents of rusted metal and ancient resins hung the damp air. She floated beside him as he took in the art and ignored the way her feet hovered over the ground. She clasped her hands behind her back.


        “Progenitors don’t happen very often. There have been three within the last century, before you. Several more who didn’t make it, surely.”
        “Didn't make it?” Anselm turned from a lusciously painted still-life, “I imagine it would be dangerous your first night or two, is that what you mean?”
        “Yes, like the classic revenant. Get revenge and then perish one more. Others simply cannot accept their new lives. And what of you? What difficulties do you face?”
        “Other than my constant companion… My… guides. They've been distracting.”
        “Ah, the animal spirits. They'll leave you. We realize they are just a part of ourselves and they do not return. Perhaps the trauma of rebirth is why we must talk with ourselves for a time. Are you curious about the antiquities on display?”
      “These are heirlooms for you?”
      “I’m not so sentimental. They keep the halls from being empty.” She lingered at a suit of armor. “No one would use this in a battle.”
        “That’s right, you were a warrior. Is it yours?”
 

The Three Queens
The Three Queens

        “No, this remained from the previous owner. It's all for show, anyway. I would wear the breastplate,” she tapped the gleaming metal with one clawed finger. “And this protection at the joints. This arm would have plates here and here and a gauntlet, but I would keep this arm free. Mobility is important. The attachment of the ankle guard would be less rigid in practice as well. And all this filigree? Wasted on the field of battle.”
        “Wow, it’s like the Grey Queen!” Anselm said, ”I will know more the next time I draw her.”
        “That’s an appealing tale. The stories used to change with each retelling. They became fixed when committed to print. Stuck, unchanging. Like us. Print is the vampirization of thoughts. Of culture.”
        “It's true, the way each region had their own version. And now everyone goes to see the same films.”
        “It's just as well, I'd rather see something created by a true artist than listen to some fool plunk on a lute and make up a story about his sexual exploits.”

 
 

        Anselm chuckled and continued taking in the art. Wolz deepened her frown as she passed a painting. It depicted a nobleman, obviously romanticized, but still with a patchy beard, frizzy hair and a froggish, wall-eyed expression.
        “Oh this one,” Anselm said, “I remember this. Strange to have that kind of fraught pose in this era.”
        “The insistence of the subject, no doubt.” Wolz cast it a single glance and floated away from it. “He was older than I, as a vampire. He and Finsterwald were reborn about the same time. I had a great deal of wealth and Holber had mismanaged his own. So he ceded this castle to me. He never should have had it in the first place.”
        “Another progenitor?” Anselm asked.
        “Yes, a positively miserable sort. My rebirth was occasioned by a political assassination, his was a paltry end, befitting his odious nature. He was so unlikable, and well aware of this, that he turned Lorenz in an effort to improve his standing with the presence of the resplendent raconteur.”
        “Von Hechten’s progenitor?” Anselm looked between her and the painting, “He died in a fire, I heard?”
        “And no one shall miss him. I hesitate to even describe how wretched he was. He would complain about the fact he was complaining. And it would never, ever, end.”

The Three Queens
 

        “Ooh. I wonder how Von Hechten withstood it. Or how he withstood Von Hechten.”
        “I… don’t care. But the remaining one is a concern for you. If he’s aware that you must kill him and considerably more powerful than you, it could be a difficult undertaking indeed.”
        Anselm turned but couldn't quite meet the floating woman's eye.
        “He said sometimes progenitors can’t kill the person. That they get over it eventually.”
        “Some have failed to achieve their revenge. Some lacked the will, loved their oppressor. Some just failed in the face of violence. But there are many more that can and do. If it's too difficult, I could even dispatch him for you.” She clicked her talons. “It would be a trifle.”
        Anselm almost grinned before he stopped himself.
        “Oh, I… That’s very kind of you—”

 
 

Hooves tapped on the cobblestones.

NO YOU PROMISED YOU ALONE

        The deer weaved between their legs, ducked under Wolz's floating feet. Anselm pretended to look at a painting to avoid the sight.
        “Hm… It may sound silly, but I suppose if I am to get my revenge, perhaps I should do it myself. Even if it takes a long time. But thank you for offering.”
        Wolz raised her crinkled brow, “Are you certain? He would but blink and be pinned to the ground with ten thousand needles of cold brilliant black shadow. Then you could dispatch him yourself, just as you say.”

NO NO YOURSELF ITS THE RULE YOU PROMISED

        “I quite enjoy that imagery. Hm… maybe… maybe I will try on my own, but someday you could help me?”
        “As you like, my fellow lord.”
He gazed up at a mounted long sword, gleaming in the moonlight.
        “I will enjoy thinking of those needles tonight. Thank you.”
        “You are very welcome.”

The Three Queens

The Three Queens

        Regen watched a lit window, waiting for a shadow to pass by it.
        “What do you think they’ll talk about? Really.
        “Anselm’s favorite musicians and what the matter is with kids these days. That sort of thing.”
        “They seem like they’d be rather simpatico. I think she even likes that electronic music.”
        “So he’ll get along with the withered crone. So much to talk about. What machinery creates the best clanks? Who had the most interesting beeps?”
        “It may just be a coincidence that we’re out here again, but couldn’t they just talk about such superficial subjects in the club? They could be talking about anything…”
        Von Hechten sighed. “I heard she was given this castle by Holber before I was turned. That might amuse for a few minutes.”
        “That could be. You are a person they both know…”
She looked up at the tower, was that a bird lingering up there?
Von Hechten straightened his hair in the rearview mirror.
        “Of course, nobody is interested in my contribution. It’s all about cute little Anselm and his inky brushes. Oh— but… do you think that they might be discussing my experiment? Really?”
        She pursed her lips and gave him a sideways glance.
        “It's a hot topic…”
        “I was under the impression everyone was unimpressed! Perhaps they were just acting, no one likes to speak to someone’s point of pride. Perhaps they thought me too cocky, that I would be insufferable now that I'm at the peak of my power. I could have been invited if I had affected some humility.”
        “Well, she would be getting Anselm’s take on the event…”
        “A sob story of the pain and difficulty,” he dropped his chin to the steering wheel. “Always complaints. That’s all he would say? I suppose it is still early for him to feel as grateful as he should, but surely Wolz wouldn’t indulge that self pity! She is an iron maiden given flesh.”
        “Yes, but maybe it's like… Never mind. I shouldn't make another analogy.”
        “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

***

        Some time later, Anselm crossed the parking lot, gazing up at the sky. Von Hechten just popped the door open from the inside. The chamber music was already in full effect.
        Anselm took a seat. “I hope it wasn’t too boring to wait out here.”
        “It was crushing!” Von Hechten said, “And I suspect it should be more of the same when we arrive at the Teufelkunst estate.”
        Regen sat up from her lounging position, “Guess it was wise to bring me along to keep the old man company. But you, Anselm, you're getting all the intellectual stimulation tonight, aren’t you?”
        “It’s been interesting, all the beautiful buildings and tales of the past.”
        “Oh yeah? What'd you talk about?”
        “Hm, we talked about the Grey Queen and folklore…”
        “Yeesss,” Von Hechten said dryly, and pulled the car out of the lot.
        “And we looked at paintings,” Anselm continued, “There was a portrait… I’d seen it before. ‘Holber.’ ”
        “Ah—” Von Hechten snapped his fingers, “Did she mention that she got the castle from him?”
        “Yes, she talked about him a bit.”
        “I knew it! What did I say, Regen? I know people so well.”
        Regen gazed out the window, “Yes, plenty of time to talk about many subjects…”
        Von Hechten raised his chin, “And I could probably guess them all. That was part of my job once upon a time. In a sense, it still is. The study of human nature, it was how I was able to deduce Eichel as the best candidate. Nothing gets past me.”
        Anselm glanced away and hid a wicked smile behind his hand. Regen watched him in the mirror, her eyes narrowed to glinty nothingness.

 

The Three Queens

 

        A grand estate stood behind an iron gate, which rolled open electronically as the car approached.
        Von Hechten waved at it, “We don’t get along, you may as well go alone. Enjoy the fantastic, glamorous, palatial estate of Gelthilda Teufelkunst.”
        Anselm faux-smiled with tight lips and exited. A young man was already holding the door for him.

 

The Three Queens

 

        Von Hechten waited until they were out of sight.
        “You think they weren't talking about my achievements at all? That Wolz was entertaining his self-pity. Perhaps Dallmann as well? Then more of the same here. Is that what you think?”
        “I don’t want to make you paranoid. Maybe just consider how you talk about other people when they aren’t around.”
        “I’m utterly fair when speaking of other people ‘behind their backs!’ I say nothing they would not expect me to say. Do you imagine otherwise?”
        “What was it earlier about Dallmann’s figure?”
        “But that is a petty matter! On matters of substance, I only speak true, not that that wasn’t true. I mean, really. But whatever. Will no one recognize what I’ve done and that it is inherently interesting?”
        “Well, suffice to say, he’s making friends in high places.”
        “Of course, he’s a progenitor, it’s what he’s to do. Why do you even think this bears mention?”
        Regen leaned her chin on her knees. “Your baby bird may leave the nest. What then?”
        “Leave me? That would be foolish. I alone have the patience and interest to help him understand what it is to be a vampire. These others, all they want is company, reflections for their own vanity. They would be of no help to him in such things. It would be foolish.”
        “Would you like my advice?”
        “Do you feel I require counsel?”
        She considered her words. “Even if it isn’t accurate, there are many vampires in town and it might be easy to forget about us if we don’t have a clear role.”
        “What? Explain yourself.”
        “Typically, a vampire would have a 'parent' to rely on, and to serve. Naturally as a progenitor, he has no one to serve, and no parent, at least, not in the traditional sense.”
        “Surely, he is no servant to us. He is a noble. He can do what he will, and with whom.”
        “Of course, but I imagine you were seeking some sort of future benefit when you created him, no?”
        “Mostly it was to satisfy my curiosity, but the notion of another progenitor ally, it was a consideration as well.”
        “With enough time, he may be thankful and forget his grudges. But to seal that allyhood, I think it would be wise to act as soon as possible to foster it.”
        “Go onnnnn.”
        “We should make ourselves have an important, integral part of his existence. If he can befriend these powerful progenitors, he may not see the value— and of course there is value— in our company. But if we fulfilled an obvious, irreplaceable role he couldn’t find elsewhere…”
        “It would distract him from this world of glamor? Long enough to secure his gratitude more properly. That is wise indeed. I’ll tell you what we can offer that Gelthilda and Wolz and Dallmann cannot— service. He is above us, we are below. These progenitors are his peers, but also his elders, often to such a degree that it could be intimidating. He will be at ease with us.”
        Regen curled a lock of hair around her finger, “But how to make him at ease? He’s still very new, I only gave him a very cursory rundown of his duties, and our demonstration was… cut short.”
        “Some time together should help. I’m confident we can make our utility clear.”
        “Yes, getting blood, taking advantage of his powers. It should be no problem.”
        “And you were worried!”
        “Yes,” Regen closed her eyes, “How silly.”

The Three Queens

 

        “Are you sure?” Gelthilda said, “It would be no trouble at all. He is my senior, but I have powers at my disposal. I could slay Von Hechten more utterly than anyone else in the city, I can say that with confidence.”

NO NO NO ITS THE RULE ANSELM YOU ALONE

        “That’s very kind… but I think if it’s to be a proper revenge, I should do it myself.”
        “If you do, it is possible that some remnant could elude your grasp in the spirit world. A ghost! Some shade, some grain of his being. Should that happen, I can take care of that for you. It is not much effort to hire a soul assassin. Cut his ghost into pieces and feed it to the abyss. Would that suit you?”
        “Oh! That’s— I might take you up on that.”
        “Splendid! I can hardly wait. I would have slain him before, but it felt petty to do so.”
        “I’m sure it’s not petty at all. Though I am curious…”
Gelthilda almost seemed to brush away the spirit deer as she turned to wander down a hall.
        “We used to be friends after a fashion. I came to understand that he was using my station to shore up his security in lieu of a progenitor of his own. It’s just so fake. So false.”
        “I wonder if that’s part of his plan with me. I’m obviously not much security for him, but maybe in a political sense.”
        “That is exactly the case. He came to me when I was young as well, and the only thing that I could possibly have offered him was my superior rank in the community. It’s quite gauche. And just belies rather pitiful self respect.”
        “That is strange… I’m not very good at reading even normal people, but I don’t understand that. Why create someone who would outrank you? He mentions often about how I will feel grateful in time.”
Gelthilda doubled over in laughter so abruptly that Anselm stumbled over himself. She got herself together and straightened out her kerchief. “Hm… Heh heh… Yes. Gratitude. A failure of his own imagination.”
        “I don’t mind being a vampire in general but…”
        “Some cruelties could roll off one’s back but cruelties that are capable of turning one into a progenitor— that’s something else.”
        “I’m almost bothered that I’m not more bothered. But I suppose I’ll have to put up with him until I… well, whatever I decide to do.”
        “And by whatever, you mean whatever method of disposition?”
        He smiled in response.
        “Good.” Gelthilda put a cold hand on his shoulder, “I’d hate to think you were entertaining any possibilities to the contrary.”
        “I heard that if a vampire doesn’t have a progenitor then it’s somewhat fair game. Do you think anyone will be gravely insulted?”
        “Otumbo seems to find him amusing but he’s very unsentimental. I can’t imagine it would be a problem for anyone.”
        Anselm nodded.“It feels strange— it sounds childish but I can hardly believe any of this is real still, let alone planning to do something like that. I’ve been in a few fights but I didn’t fight back, If you know what I mean.”
        “Aw,” she patted him tenderly. “I have to admit I don’t spend much time thinking about the experience of people outside myself. Perhaps a trait that monster finds appealing. Blegh, shall we play some cards?”
        “Maybe just a hand or two.”

 
The Three Queens

 Anselm returned to the car with a determined stride.
        “You’re looking self-satisfied,” Regen said, ”Getting comfortable with your peers in this new life?”
        “Yes, everyone is very nice. I’m getting along quite well with them all.”
        Von Hechten looked away with feigned humility.
        “I apologize if I’ve been a bit peevish tonight, but it’s never pleasant to be left in the car.”
Anselm nodded and turned to the window, visions of shadowy needles running through his mind.
         “Now you see the power dynamic at play,” Von Hechten said, “Progenitors like you hold unlimited authority over the vampires they turn. The only limits being those of taste and reputation. ”
        Anselm glanced over, “Well, maybe over the vampires one turns, but obviously not all of them.”
        “In a sense, you can’t run riot. But say, if Teufelkunst was to smite Regen, as she is fairly estranged from O’Meara, it’s doubtful it would draw much more than mild reproach from him.”
        Regen frowned. “Uh, thank you for including me in your lovely example.”

 

        “You're welcome. So Eichel, how did you find them? Teufelkunst, Wolz and Dallmann…”
        “ 'Anselm,' please. I liked hearing the stories about the past, the culture, fashions, the art…”
        “Well yes, but as individuals. What was your impression of them as people?”
        “They all seemed friendly enough. Dallmann was cheerful, Wolz was regal, Teufelkunst was elegant…”
        Von Hechten grumbled under his breath. “Right. You don’t have opinions, find anyone to be frivolous or keen or intriguing. No value judgments in all that? Just vague positivities.”
        Regen leaned forward, “What are you looking for?”
        “I don't know, something interesting. Can you conjure anything like that, Eichel?
        “Ugh, 'Anselm,' please. Perhaps if I got to know them better I would have more to say.”
        Von Hechten rolled his eyes. “Then I suppose I have nothing more to ask…”

Anselm gazed out the window, eyes turning with high-speed thoughts. Regen slumped back in her seat and watched his reflection in the window glass.
        “Did they give you a lot to think about?”
He jolted upright, eyes wide before it all fell behind a studied mask of calm.
        “Oh… yes. Thinking about what I’m going to do.”
She cocked an eyebrow.
        “ 'What you're going to do?' How so? With your career? Your undead lifestyle? Your ambitions or your art?”
        “Um, a little of everything. Everyone has these nice estates and I’m still in low-income housing.”
        Von Hechten nodded. “That won’t do at all. I find there are many ways for supernatural creature to amass wealth. ”
        “I could save five or ten Graumarks a week by not eating.”
        “Haha! Oh dear, you were serious. Err, that’s a start…”

        Regen's apartment was first. She stepped out of the car and tapped the windshield by Von Hechten.
        “I'm not waiting until dawn, VH. The usual place.”
        “We'll limit our fun, don't trouble yourself.” Then she was gone and Anselm was alone in the car with the monster again.
        Said monster was unusually quiet, lost in thought, it seemed. Anselm tried to restrain his antsiness, but found himself clicking a pen in his pocket over and over. What if the perfect opportunity came and he missed it? Of course, a vampire could survive a car accident, so yanking the steering wheel wouldn't do much good.
        At last Von Hechten spoke. “You've had many conversations with your fellow progenitors tonight, have you?”
        Anselm glanced over warily, “Well, yes.”
        “Whatever they say, you surely must know that the lowly Von Hechten has your best interests in mind.”
        “Does he?”
Just a flicker of Von Hechten's eyes showed through his eyelashes.
        “Yessss. I've done nothing but elevate you in the esteem of Reckenburg's distinguished immortal community. So much so that your esteem has surpassed my own already.”
        “That doesn't bother you?”
        “It will bother me less when the dust settles on this situation. All I want out of the bargain is your favor. Is that too much to ask?”
        “What would my favor do for you?”
        “Just little things that can make eternity more bearable. Occasionally getting to sit at the 'big table.' Nothing untoward.”
        “Heh. I'm sure. I don't have a table for you yet.”
        “No gratuity for the coachman, with his hat in his hand? Servants are never appreciated.”
        “Do you want a food voucher?”
        The monster chuckled softly. “We'll see if it comes to that.”

 

The Three Queens

 

They pulled alongside the apartment in the increasingly usual spot. Anselm’s mind was blank, too many strange events… too many schemes and offers and daydreams. Von Hechten was silent, unmoving in that corpse-y way that still seemed uncanny. Then he spoke.
        “Oh, I won’t invite myself up to see you to bed, I’m not Lorelei.”
        “What! I—”
Feathers tickled Anselm's ear and as he brushed them away, the memory of a dream came to him. He glanced to Von Hechten, eyes half-lidded.
        “You shouldn’t say that name, you’ll get poked in the eye.”
Von Hechten turned to regard Anselm, wondering at that strange expression.
        “What? Oh that, it was just an accident and she wouldn’t dare. You say the strangest things.”
        “Hm?” Anselm came out of his reverie. “Ah, well, anyway… Goodnight I guess.”
        “Adieu, Prince Eichel. Perhaps I'll take your voucher yet.”

 

 

The Three Queens

 

YOU PROMISED

I know. I didn’t lie.

GOOD BOY YOU WILL BREAK THE CURSE

Yes.

The Three Queens

 

 Von Hechten and Regen met on the balcony of Jacinthe des Bois and sent away their undrunk cups of tea. Regen slipped the waiter a few GMs to leave them alone as closing time drew near. The view looked out over the sparsely attended city street.
        “It's ridiculous!” Von Hechten said, “Don't be so concerned. Look, we were laughing about frivolities and whatnots, quite collegial. Nothing to concern yourself with.”
        “I can imagine a conspiracy wherein a conspirator could joke around with their victims. You know, different meanings behind the laughter.”
        “Pft! The boy doesn't have such depths. You should see his artist statements. All the power of his late brain was devoted to the names of baby birds and collaging picture books.”
        “Well, it was supposed to be a powerful compulsion, wasn't it?”
        “That again? Perhaps we'll talk with Otumbo, but for now let's call it done. Besides, if he's so nefarious, why did you ffffff—”
        Regen narrowed her eyes, “Go on, use your grown-up words.”
        “—Fuck him? I was trying to think of a more polite term.”
        “Maybe I just wanted to escape his youthful rage. You know, my pussy or my life.”
        “Ha! Now see Lorelei, this is a much nicer conversation—”
A passing sedan rolled past the restaurant, the driver flicked a cigarette that caught the wind just so, and blew straight into Von Hechten’s eye socket.

 

The Three Queens

 

        “Gah!”
He flicked it away as it still sizzled, coated with his tears and blood.
        “What! In! The hell!”
He covered his eye, wincing as it healed. Regen spun around in her seat and looked out for more flying debris.
        “Oh no! Wow, that was— What are the odds? It went right in there!”
He squinted and wiped the bloody tears from his cheek.
        “…Poked in the eye, as it were…”

The Three Queens

 

 


END - PART ONE - THE THREE QUEENS

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     March 1st, 2017
     By:  Kelly

Hi guys, sorry this update was so long in the making. Everything in the world is just utterly motivation-sapping these days, as I'm sure you well know. I'm doing okay-esque but… ugh. Anyway, the next edition will be much quicker, and after that, I'm going to take a break on this story to get back to business as usual! (Well, usual from a million years ago when I was being a good boy.) I hope your 2017 is at bare minimum tolerable, and remember that I love you all big time and think about you a lot! Thanks for sticking around all this time and putting up with my shit.

Anyway, this chapter is totally workin for VH with that yellow. Whatever his faults, guy has a consistent aesthetic.
 

COMMENTS

 
 

       TRANSCRIPT: This is visual description of the illustrations, for purposes such as accessibility and internet searches.

1.)

(A new chapter in Anselm's story is begun with this title image, compositionally referring to an IRL piece of Northern Renaissance art, stylistically similar to previous chapters. It's rendered with line art and simply shaded grey tones, with certain areas granted the color red. New to this chapter are yellows, which in this image are mostly used to color jewelry. Anselm lays on the ground, a knife and an owl near at hand, while three women loom over him. One is Griselda Dallmann, a young non-skinny lady with sparkly bangles, sheer loose clothing, and a high pony tail. The next is Gelthilda Teufelkunst, a thin blonde woman, a bit older in a red gown. Last is Hildreth Wolz, a very tall elderly woman in black and spiky gothness, holding a sword and an hourglass. The title at their feet is in an old-time fancy font.)

TITLE: The Three Queens

2.)

(The view through an apartment peephole. A woman of foreign extraction stands there, looking calm and sensitive, but wreathed in flames.)

3.)

(Anselm is putting on his spikiest jacket. So cool.)

4.)

(Anselm walks into his apartment lobby to see Egon and Lusit. Egon is sprawled out with skinny limbs gangling off the couch. Lusit sits
   up looking over the back of the couch at Anselm's approach. Again we have vampire heat vision, seeing them halo'd in yellow fire.)

5.)

(Anselm's point of view, we see Lusit with paws on the back of the couch, eager like a dog when the master gets home, but less affectionate.)

6.)

  (A fiery human reporter with a combover and moustache tries to question Anselm with his
tape recorder in hand, but Von Hechten is on the scene in a bright yellow coat, rebuffing him.)

7.)

(The reporter man is shocked into cartoony floating head styles.)

8.)

(The car ride. Von Hechten is heavy lidded as ever, where's the road at? Anselm looks away, Regen in back seems a bit distant as well.)

9.)

(A fairy tale cottage at night, lit from within, smoke coming from the chimney.)

10.)

(Rosaline - Dallmann's vampire baby - is wearing a fetishy maid outfit as she answers the door.)

11.)

(Behind Anselm, Regen and Von Hechten are annoyed to be left out in the night. No invitation for you.)

12.)

(Dallmann is seated at the table while Rosaline and Alfonse stand at either side, outfits kinky, ready to obey. Dallmann is smiling.)

13.)

(A stylized medieval wood panel painting of Dallmann in her human days, topless and embroidering
  on a hoop, while a unicorn lurks in the background. A title plaque on the painting reads "Virgen.")

14.)

(Dallmann is perched coquettishly on a huge chair with a bearskin rug over the seat. She sits with Anselm in front of the fireplace.)

15.)

(The top of Dallmann's head, her eyes visible and smiling. Rotkehlchen stands astride her bow, shouting.)

16.)

(In the car, Regen seems thoughtful, but her words make Von Hechten slightly peevish.)

17.)

(A large castle looms on a mountainside. One car approaches.)

18.)

(Anselm is greeted at the door by someone with dyed red hair. Regen and Von Hechten are further
    in the background and even more annoyed at a second instance of being rebuffed at the door.)

19.)

(Anselm is a bit uncomfortable, but his kinky pierced-up guide man is cheerful enough.)

20.)

(The throne room, all Wolz lineage members present. From left to right, Clovis, Ausmiller, Wolz
    herself on the tallest throne, Picoult, and Magnus - the fetish guide with shiny pierced nips.)

21.)

(A stylized painting of Wolz from human days, crowned and holding a badly drawn striped cat. Caption plaque: "Hildreth Wolz")

22.)

(Wolz the tall goth grandma towers over bikerish spiky Anselm, but they seem genial. She explains about the armor on the wall.)

23.)

(Painting of a creepy frizzy haired nerd man of olden styled puffy sleeves, hunched in angst, quill to paper. Caption plaque: "Galen Holber")

24.)

(Rehkitz lurks in the cobblestoned hall.)

25.)

(Outside the castle, Regen contemplates the biz and Von Hechten waves away her concern with a hand gesture.)

26.)

(Exterior of the Teufelkunst mansion at night, canted angle. It's fancy and random lights are on within.)

27.)

(In the car Regen has her stockinged knees up and Von Hechten is getting more annoyed with her.)

28.)

(Gelthilda chats with Anselm, looking a bit saucy with her expression. He's concerned, seeing Rehkitz lurking at her side.)

29.)

(Anselm gets back into the car with Von Hechten and Regen, everyone's expressions a little less than pleasant.)

30.)

(As Von Hechten is dropping Anselm off at his place, he has a more pleasant expression. Anselm is out of sorts.)

31.)

(On the floor of his darkened apartment, Anselm is now barefoot and petting Rehkitz, Rotkehlchen perched on his spiky shoulder.)

32.)

(Regen and Von Hechten sit at a glass table in front of a tavern, an umbrella
    above. Von Hechten looks confident, an arm over the back of his seat.)

33.)

(Von Hechten is hit in the eye so hard with a cigarette that it draws blood. He grimaces at the pain and surprise.)

34.)

(Von Hechten clutches his eye and Regen looks on in shock at the unusual situation.)

 

 
 
 
 
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