The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vampire Wares pt 16

While riding her horse on the road towards Vallaya at a moderate canter, Ileana passed Lucian’s coach galloping out of town.  She waved to Lucian, who was seated in the back, with Beniamin sitting opposite.  He just saw her and returned the wave before continuing the apparently heated diatribe he was engaged in.  She watched him disappear as the coach drove on by in a cloud of dust.

Upon steering her horse into their stable in the back of Andrei’s apothecary shop, she left it with their groom, and entered her and Andrei’s residence from the back.  Andrei was, as expected, behind the counter of the apothecary shop, and she greeted him from behind with a warm hug and a kiss.

Ileana was a young beauty, some two decades Andrei’s junior, who he’d been married to for several years now.  Andrei had, for most of his life, considered himself to be an affirmed bachelor, wedded to his business, with no time for domestic cares.  Ileana was the one woman capable of persuading him otherwise.  She had become his partner in love and in business. Even though she didn’t have the aptitude (or the stomach) for, the messier parts of his business – namely the butchering of vampires and the preparation of the vampire medicines – she was an invaluable asset on the business side of their operation. She had always been the better salesperson: now just returning from a sales trip, in which she’d made deliveries, contacted buyers, established new connections.

“No troubles on the roads?  Didn’t encounter any danger?” Andrei asked her after their greeting, “And was it a lucrative trip?”

She shook her he at the first questions and nodded at the last.

“I really don’t like you risking your life on these dangerous roads.  With all the thieves and highwaymen out there, a lone woman is vulnerable,” Andrei said.

“But you have no skill with people,” she laughed, “If we put you on the road and had you negotiate with these people, our business would fail.”

She told him some of the details of her meetings and sales.  Then she said, “And when I was just arriving here, I saw Lucian heading out of here in a hurry with Beniamin.”

“Ah yes,” Andrei nodded, “He’s visiting all the nearby villages, in the hopes of selling them on his vampire peace accord.  The vampires have got a fairly large hunting ground, so far as I know.  So he’s going to have to make a number of stops.  He’ll probably be gone for weeks.”  Andrei then explained what’d happened while she was away: Lucian’s discussion with the vampires, Vasile’s latest kill, and his own progress with processing it.

Then he ended by telling her about Vasile’s interest in an apprentice: “I’ve told everyone, and the word has spread.  It’s now common knowledge in town, but, so far, no one’s expressed any interest.”

“Who would want to take on such a job?  What parent would want to let their child do it,” Ilean said, shaking her head, “We pay Vasile a generous ransom and he has a king’s hoard of gold stashed away, but for what?  The job is dangerous.  I don’t know how many vampire hunters have disappeared into the bellies of the vampires over the years.  It can only be a matter of time before they finally get Vasile and whatever apprentice he takes on.”

“Well, we’ll see,” Andrei said.

“Do you want to bet?”

“What are we betting?”

“Just boasting rights.”

“You’re on,” Andrei replied, “I do hope I win, for our sake at least.  Whatever has kept Vasile alive for so long he needs to teach to someone.  Before he’s dead.  But it all may be just for naught, if Lucian gets his way.”

“All the more reason why someone would be stupid to take on such an apprenticeship and you’re stupid to make that bet,” Ileana said.

Ileana, though, turned out to be wrong.  As the morning passed over into noon and Ileana reclined in her room, the shop was visited by an unexpected guest.

Approaching with caution and circumspection, Anton, a boy in his late teens, knocked on the door of the shop.  Andrei opened it to the lad, whom he recognized.  He was a sturdy boy, inured to the hard physical labor of his father’s farm, a boy who always walked with confidence, even a little bit of swagger.  When he entered, he wore the ragged clothes of a farmer’s boy and wiped the fresh dirt on his calloused hands off onto his shirt.

There was a well-dressed customer in the shop when Anton entered, and Anton sat down on one of the well-stuffed chairs, hiding his face.  He waited for the man to leave, before he approached Andrei.

“Can I help you Anton?” Andrei asked.

Anton leaned over the counter and said confidentially to Andrei, “I need to speak of something private with you.”

Andrei was a bit surprised and perplexed, since he only knew Anton by face – not at all on a personal level – and had he never really talked with him.

“We’re alone right now,” Andrei said, looking around, “You can tell me anything in complete confidence.”

After a deep breath, and a quick look around to see if they truly were alone, Anton said, “I want to be Vasile’s apprentice.  I’ve heard he needs one, and I’ve thought about it.  I’m the best huntsman for a hundred leagues, and he’d be a damn fool to reject me.”

“He’ll be pleased to hear it,” Andrei said nodding with approval.  “But why all the secrecy?” Anton didn’t answer the question, so Andrei ventured, “You want to keep this a secret from your father, don’t you?  A hard man.  Not the most understanding person.”

Anton nodded in agreement.  Andrei cautioned, though, “You can’t keep this a secret forever, though.  You’re going to be out every night with Vasile.  Surely you don’t think you can sneak out and hunt every night and work during the day?  You need to sleep.”

“Sleep is for the weak,” Anton boasted facetiously, “Just ask Vasile if he’ll take me.  If he says ‘yes’ then I can broach telling my father.  If he says ‘no’ though, then this will be a secret between you and me.  Can you do that for me?”

“Easily and eagerly,” Andrei nodded.  Anton then hastily said his goodbye and left the shop, hustling to return to his father’s farm.

Andrei then yelled into the house so Ileana could here him, gloating, “Ha, ha.  You were wrong.  You were so wrong today.”

<-- Go to Part 15         Go to Part 17 -->

You can see what's been written so far collected here.

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