–Excerpt of a taped interview with his Royal Vampyric Majesty, King Vladimir Nikolai di Dracoriescue—
Dateline: 6 Apyralyne, 2139; Shadow Valley, Monatya
Jones: (rises and curtseys) Your Majesty, thank you for being willing to give this interview. It is something we have hoped to have happen since the Queen’s chronicler suggested that it might be possible.
Dracoriescue: (extends his hand to help Selby rise) It’s my pleasure, Miss Jones. When Aurora suggested it, I will admit that my schedule wouldn’t have allowed for it, but Joanna suggested that spending some time out of my office would be salutary for me, so I made the time to come to visit. So, what did you want to discuss?
Jones: What about the latest gossip on the Queen’s newest production? Can you tell us anything about it? (Watches him eagerly) Or the latest activities of your four most recent young ones?
Dracoriescue: (Chuckles) Which one? The most recent production of the Wretched? Or the rumor that Troubled Hearts is coming back to town at last? Or are you speaking of the– currently unsubstantiated– rumor that Silent is the Heart is finally going to be going into production? Or is it Star you speak of?
Ah… I see, it is Cinnia’s Curse you are interested in hearing about, isn’t it? Or would you rather hear about how Hayden is flying more strongly than I would have expected for an eight month old? (Chuckles as though at an image only he can see)
Jones: (whispered breathily) Any of them… all of them… (closer to her normal speaking voice as Selby clears her throat) Whichever one you wish to speak of first, of course. But if you would rather speak of your children, they are always a welcome topic of conversation here.
Dracoriescue: Well, let me think a moment… of course, the Wretched has been a perennial favorite in Shadow County, and Troubled Hearts has enjoyed an extremely long and profitable run on the small screen—though I have heard rumors of a movie deal for the authoress… though not as long as the Wretched, or Cinnia’s Curse, of course.
Jones: Of course…
Dracoriescue: (turns slightly to one of his aides standing behind him) That reminds me, I must speak to Lady Francesca after I am done here, to find out if she intends the original cast to audition for their roles when the people from Sacré Bois are ready to begin that phase…!
(turns back to Selby) But, as for whether or not the production is coming back to town, I’m afraid that your readers will simply have to settle for contacting their local theatre to find out for certain, as I don’t know. However, if it is, then I am sure it will enjoy continuing success.
Her collaboration with another gifted local author—the late William Cliffton—Cinnia’s Curse, as you know, was only planned to be a very short production run; perhaps six performances over the course of a two week stint on campus. But when the news about the play’s existence broke, your readers and the population of Shadow County demanded that the run be lengthened by more than three months, and then again to six months after that, if you’ll recall. She was quite glad that the play met with such approval…(smiles) And yes, to answer your unspoken question, there are indeed plans in the works for the Cinnia and Kendall stories to be made into movies. But it may not be for several more months yet; the screenplays have to be written before the movies can be considered.
However, it was something that happened because of the interest in the first play, and the original stories themselves, of course. Poor William. I wonder, would he be proud or horrified by what has been done to his story? But I know that Joanna mourned deeply when he passed on, and he will be missed by his loyal readers.
Jones: Yes… I do recall the situation you describe. In fact, I was one of the ones who stood in line for three days to get tickets for the first performance of the second run, after the play had shifted to the theatre in downtown Shadow Valley. But everyone I spoke to enjoyed every minute of that extended run. And we eagerly await news of any of the others. By the way, you wouldn’t happen to know if there are going to be any ‘lost’ volumes found, would you?
Dracoriescue:(Nods with a chuckle) Not that I know of. As far as I know, all of his books have been published, though rumor has it that there was a stockpile of his unpublished manuscripts found in a crate in a warehouse on the south side of Foamcrest. But you would have to discuss that with his publisher, to either confirm or deny the veracity of the rumor, I’m afraid.
But to answer your other question, yes. I too have encountered productions worth waiting in line for. Specifically, the first production of the Wretched when it opened in 2018. (looks reminescent for several seconds) Chastity was so beautiful and talented– even as young as she was at the time– and Dorian was absolutely adorable. And when the children were teaching their adult counterparts the role so the adults could continue the run of the production in Rauschenberg, Princess Joanna, and Princess Amelia were so very professional, even though they were both very young.
Jones: (gasps) That was the Queen?? I didn’t think she was old enough to have been in the original cast of the Wretched. That was…what, nearly a hundred and twenty years ago… ok, so she would be old enough, since most of the cast was ten or eleven when they did it… But she looks so young…!
Dracoriescue: Yes, that was she. And her sister, of course. They were as inseparable then as they are now. (chuckles again) I’ll tell her you said so. And she was ten. No, eleven. That’s right; it was just after the second kidnapping attempt…
Jones:(interrupting) Wait… what? There was a second attempt? That implies that there had been a first kidnapping before that… can you tell me about it?
Dracoriescue: Suffice it to say that the second attempt failed. And we’ll get to the first one later. But, getting back to the topic you said you wished to discuss; Her Majesty’s first solo production, Star, has completed its first run and is currently in talks to begin the second. But I am not sure where or when it will begin, though the talks are being held in Barney’s Mountain. I’m sure the theatres will have more information on it than I do.
As for Silent is the Heart, as far as I know, the Queen is almost done with the final form of the script, so the selection of theatres is next. Then, I believe, comes the audition process, but the show will be in production soon. The fliers have finally come back from the printers, (shows a flyer for the show) as you can see. And the auditions should begin soon. Ah, yes, I see. She set the audition date for the 18th of the month. And those who are interested should bring their own sheet music to the audition; it is a musical.
But I have no idea if any of the Royal family will be involved this time; after all, Princess Amelia and Prince Daniel have gone back to their regular jobs. Her Highness works with her Mother at Mercy General—when she isn’t attending the Queen–as you know, and Prince Daniel works with me, of course.
Jones: He is also the King’s Just Right Hand, am I correct? Can you tell me more about him?
Dracoriescue: Yes, he is. (Smiles) But if he wishes to return to the acting company, then he is at liberty to do so, of course. His regular duties will be waiting for him when he is ready to return, as always. He is a singularly talented young man, who takes his duties to me extremely seriously. He was actually brought to my attention as being a viable choice for the position even before he left college, and more, it was years before he became a vampyre.
But you understand that I can’t detail his actual duties for you, I trust.
Jones: Of course, your Majesty. Let’s change the topic for a moment. Which of the shows you mentioned earlier is your favorite? You mentioned the Wretched earlier… your Majesty. I would presume that you have a favorite among them…. Or do you prefer something you saw in another country?
Dracoriescue: No, the shows here are my current favorites, though the productions in my homeland would be complicated to try to explain in comparison to the productions here. It would be easier to describe the productions I didn’t like. And those, I prefer to forget.
Jones: I can agree with that…
Dracoriescue: I like all of the ones I mentioned earlier, but my favorite scene has to be the first three- way aria in the Wretched, between Chastity, Dorian and Matthias, the one that ends, “It is the strong who love/ Charity to those who fear breeds change/ that all who would live must make…” (bows in his seat as his voice dies away)
Jones: (eyes wide, whispers in awe) I… didn’t know you could sing, your Majesty. That was amazing, you should sing more often. And others will agree, I’m sure. Does the Queen like it when you sing?
Dracoriescue: Thank you, Miss Jones. To answer your question, I don’t sing that often, usually only with the Queen, when she is playing her harp. Or when I am invited to sing with her. But she has told me that she sleeps better when I sing to her in the evenings. (smiles gently)
Jones: (sighs) Oh! How romantic!! I knew she sang and acted—among her many talents– but she plays harp as well?
Dracoriescue: Yes. She could have played professionally but for the kidnapping that interrupted her rehearsal schedule when she was quite young. (looks sad, and the next line was sotto voce) So much was changed that shouldn’t have been during those days of Punishment-on-Tellous…(shakes it off, and the next thing he says is closer to his normal speaking voice) But that is ancient history. You asked about the first kidnapping; well, this is the tale of it. (see article below on the twelve days before the kidnapped children were recovered; and Kidnapped, by Joanna E. M. di Lathomier)
Jones: Didn’t Her Majesty write a book about the time you mention? I think I remember reading it in school… But I know the incident you mention was before my time at the station.
Dracoriescue: You may have, Miss Jones. I didn’t know about the book until well after the fact. But you are correct in that she did write about her memories of the time, though she thought the story she wrote was fictional at the time.
Jones: Your terminology begs the question, your Majesty. What do you remember about that time?
Dracoriescue: I don’t like thinking about those days, but it was so long ago that it shouldn’t hurt to discuss them now. I will tell you what I can without compromising the investigation. I recall that she vanished from the schoolyard where she and another child—one of her group of usual playmates– had been playing. And I instantly set the Just to following the one who had snatched them.
The children had been minding their own business—they had been innocently playing–and no one saw them vanish. But vanish they had. And unfortunately, there was almost no evidence to point me or the other searchers in the right direction to find either her or the boy who had also been stolen.
There was only one full footprint that clearly belonged to Joanna, and a scrape that could have come from the other child being dragged into the vehicle, and there was a small blood patch that was later proven to be a mix of Joanna’s and whomever had stolen them, which is what makes me think that she had fought back.
Jones: Oh, the poor children! They must have been so scared!!
Dracoriescue: I don’t know, for certain, but I think they had been rendered unconscious by that point, and there was of course the proof that I mentioned before that Joanna had fought back even then. The space at the edge of the field they had disappeared from was covered in gravel and very sparse grass, so there was almost no possibility of matching tire tracks or treads, or the landing skids of an air vehicle, though there were deep gouge marks in the ground there that indicated there had indeed been a vehicle present in that spot in the recent past.
But it was the only evidence of a vehicle, and that was so little help as to be no help at all, I knew. The only physical evidence to that point had been the trace of fuel on the withered blades of grass at the edge of the field, but it turned out to be basic ground vehicle fuel that could be bought in any of a hundred different places in the area; again, no use forensically.
It took me two days to discover that they were being shielded by powerful magicks, and it was that which allowed me to track the movements of the vehicle that had brought them away from the schoolyard, even if it didn’t lead to where they were being held as yet.
I found the vehicle abandoned in an empty field a few days later, with nothing in it or on it to indicate what had happened to the children, but a powerful magickal field around it that matched what I had been tracking.
It was then that I realized–to my chagrin—that my opponent was very clever. In fact, he was diabolically clever, it turned out later. And I will admit that I was… well, to put it charitably, I was in a state of panic that I hope never to achieve again, for most of that time.
There is a reason why I refer to those days as Punishment-on-Tellous; they were for me, and for most of the ones who were looking for her, including her Father. I had asked him to stay by his phone, in case the kidnapper called with a ransom demand. But there was never a call, and after five days, the local law enforcement gave her up for lost, stating that if there had been no word after five days, she probably had run away from home, not been kidnapped.
And I… suspect that it was only her Father’s connection to me that kept him from becoming a suspect in that instant… he almost bodily threw the officer out of the house…! Senator di Lathomier was so angry that day. I was concerned that if I failed he would never forgive me, even if I found a way to forgive myself…
In fact, (looks thoughtful) I don’t believe I have ever seen him angrier than on that day. Anyway, I told the officers that I would be handling the case from that point on, and they left me to my own devices in my search for her and the other child that had vanished at the same time she had.
I had realized almost instantly that I couldn’t reach her conscious thoughts—you knew she is Gifted, correct?—but it took another near day for me to realize that I could reach to her subconscious thoughts, and try to track her down that way. The Queen’s Gifted status is a matter of public record, anyone can discover that she is registered as a telepath with a midrange empathic rating, and snippets of a dozen other Gifts.
But anyway, it was her Gifts that led me to where she and the other child were being held. But she wasn’t anywhere in Shadow Valley, and she wasn’t in Seven Havens or in Amberhill, Concordia or most of the others… I finally found them in the depths of a secret passage in an unmarked ‘abandoned’ mine in Ruby Fells… they were being held upside down…
Jones: Your Majesty… if this is too painful to speak of… you don’t have to tell me… (gasps) Oh blessed Patriarch! Are you… I can see what you are saying… is that something you are doing, your Majesty? How strange! I can see what you have been telling me…oh, the poor children! (frightened voice now) Yes… oh yes, oh please, please get them down…!! You can’t leave them there!! He is coming back!
Dracoriescue: Yes… it is an ability I have always had, to show people what is …too painful for me sometimes to speak of… that is all it is, Miss Jones. If you wish me to stop, I will, but we are almost to the end of the tale now…
Jones: No, I-I’m alright now. Please, go on with what you were telling me.
Dracoriescue: I found them, in the place that you saw, and freed them. I brought them home, but I had to let the filth who had captured them live, when I would much rather have administered summary justice and removed his head, for he was clearly in violation of the laws of my people and yours.
Jones: But why did you let him live if he was so obviously guilty, your Majesty? And he was! How long did he hold them prisoner like that? (the pain in her voice is obvious)
Dracoriescue: (frowns as though in pain himself) When I was able to find them, they had been missing for almost twelve days. How I wish I was able to have found them sooner!
Jones: Oh blessed Patriarch! How awful!! But he must have been turning them upright again, once in a while to keep them from suffocating… mustn’t he? After all, it looked like the boy was Prince Daniel, and you have said that the girl was Princess Joanna… our Queen Isolde. Does she consciously recall any of this, I wonder?
Dracoriescue: That was my understanding later, after I had a chance to cool down, but yes. They survived, but it was only through the swift intervention of Doctor Kirkpatrick, and Strongelk. He had whisked Daniel into a Sing almost before I could step off the porch, and Jayne had dropped into Healing trance almost as soon as I had given Joanna back to her Father’s keeping. The next time I saw her conscious was when she was expecting me to attend her for the first production she was in with the Drama Department for her elementary school. The school billed it as a play, though it was really more of a showcasing of student talent, I decided after a bit. (sighs a bit shakily)
But to answer your other question, I don’t know. As I said, she thought the story she had written was fictional until her Father told her that what she had written about had actually happened. Her reaction was… shall we say… predictable?
Dracoriescue:(smiles a bit grimly) The uncharitable would say she has the same reaction to anything even mildly frightening; she has fainting spells. Has had since she was seven or eight years old. But no, not this time.
This time, I would think, she reacted in a somewhat more normal way… she got very thoughtful, and sat down with the copy that she had brought home in one of the more comfortable chairs in the library on the second floor of the UnderManse, and read the whole thing through with an eye toward figuring out if it could have happened the way she had described it.
And it turned out that she had begun to remember most of it by the time she was able to call for Daniel to find out what he recalled of it. He read it through as well, and asked her what she remembered. She told him, and they spent the rest of the afternoon comparing notes about the situation. I recall too that Princess Amelia’s response to Joanna’s ordeal was… not as practical as she normally is. Her Mother was spending rather a lot of time trying to calm her hysterics—understandable, but distracting nonetheless—and I suspect that was why Jayne did what she did not long after I had found the pair of them and brought them back.
And I had good news not long after I got back to the Council chamber that night; I had received word that the one responsible for the kidnapping had been tracked down by the just and destroyed within hours of my rescue of the children. But it had very little to do with her solution to the problem, I must say. Her solution had the benefit of being… unique, at least.
Jones: What did Doctor Kirkpatrick do, your Majesty?
Dracoriescue: She convinced each one of them never to go anywhere without the other two children.
–Addendum to the above interview–
Today in the News—
Dateline: 4 Myelan, 2014 Shadow Valley, Monatya Byline: Marcelyn MacIlroy
Two children went missing today, and they are thought to have been kidnapped. Their identities are being protected to preserve the investigation, and to allow for the kidnappers to reach their families with the ransom demands.
We will have the details as they become available.
Dateline 16 Myelan, 2014 Shadow Valley, Monatya Byline: Marcelyn MacIlroy
Missing Children Found Alive!!
Late this afternoon, two children—missing from Shadow Valley for the past twelve days–were recovered alive from the back of a hidden mineshaft in Ruby Fells. The girl—Joanna Elizabeth Maria Fiona di Lathomier—second youngest daughter of local Senator Richard William Tiberius di Lathomier was unconscious when she was delivered to her front door at sunset tonight by her Protector, his Royal Vampyric Majesty, King Vladimir Nikolai Di Dracoriescue.
Also rescued unconscious was the grandson of Strongelk; local Shaman of the Xáyx Villagers, young Daniel Longwing. Not many details are known as yet of how the children got down there, or how they had been found, but as they become available, we will publish them and keep you all posted as to the children’s recoveries from their ordeal.
The mineshaft wasn’t a vertical shaft like so many are; this one is horizontal and leads into a maze of chambers and tunnels into the body of the mountain; rumor has it that the King went into the
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