It took them a couple of days, but Revis and Matticus finally had the city of Bruges in sight. Matticus resisted the urge to jump up and down. That would be undignified, after all. He looked over and saw that Revis was deep in thought. Well, either that, or he had gas. It was hard to tell sometimes.
“Something on your mind,” the Jester asked.
“I’m trying to decide whether or not we should go in through the city gate, or sneak our way into the city.”
“Why wouldn’t we go in through the city gate?”
“We’re well known throughout the kingdom. If something out of the ordinary is going on around here, they’ll stop once word of our arrival spreads.”
Matticus thought it over for a minute. “True,” he replied, “but if we show ourselves openly, the sparkly vampires might panic. That could lead to them making mistakes.”
With a shrug, Revis began leading the way to the front gate. When they arrived, they found that their way was blocked by a city guardsman. “I am the Gatekeeper. El Guapo is my name.”
Matticus was about to reply when Revis leaned in towards him. “Watch out,” his First Knight cautioned. “He’s a sparkly vampire.”
Surprised, Matticus took another look at the Gatekeeper, but still couldn’t see anything sparkly about him. That could have been because El Guapo was covered from head to toe in armor, with a very thick plate around his neck, or that could have been because Matticus still wasn’t sure he knew what he was supposed to be looking for. Unsure of how to proceed he looked back to his knight, giving him leeway to take charge of the situation. That was, after all, the benefit of having a trusted knight.
It’s good to be the king, Jester or otherwise.
Revis stepped forward, his body twisted slightly to hide that his right hand was on the pommel of his sword, and addressed the Gatekeeper, “We are travel wary and in seek of an inn for the evening, can we seek shelter within your city?”
Emotionless, El Guapo replied, “Only the Keymaster can pass.”
“We have no vacancies here. Move along.”
“But there is nowhere else to go. Surely there must be somewhere we can rest our heads?”
Engrossed in the conversation, and still trying to figure out what was sparkly about the Gatekeeper, Matticus nearly missed Revis begin to pull his sword from it’s sheath. “I said move along,” El Guapo raised his voice. “We do not tolerate foolishness around here.”
“Not even on Friday?”
El Guapo pulled out his sword, turning towards Matticus. The Jester looked to Revis, but found that he had disappeared again. He knew that his knight was probably sneaking up behind the Gatekeeper. All he had to do was keep the vampire occupied until Revis got a chance to strike.
Yanking his sword out of his sheath, Matticus barely got it out in time to deflect the first blow. By the time El Guapo swung again, Matticus had his feet under him. He blocked it easily and fell into a defensive stance. Next, the vampire swung his sword in an overhand chop. It was a fairly simple attack, so Matticus set up the standard parry. Unfortunately for the Jester, the vampire, who has enhanced strength, was holding back on the first two strikes. Adding in additional power to this attack knocked the sword out of Matticus’ hand.
“Any time, now,” Matticus shouted as he backed away from El Guapo.
As the vampire raised his sword for a final swing at the Jester, his helmet went flying away. A look of horror crossed its features right before its head rolled off its shoulders, making a wet thud on the ground as it landed.
“What took you so long?” Matticus fumed, as Revis became visible again. His knight grinned but made no reply. The Jester shook his head and retrieved his sword. “Serves me right, I guess, I still have a lot to learn about these annoying sparkly vampires.”
Revis’ grin turned into a genuine smile, “It’s better to have learned that particular lesson, they are crafty and they are strong, when I was here to support you, was it not?”
Matticus nodded in agreement and then turned his gaze back to Bruges. “The way is no longer blocked, should we proceed?”
Revis joined his companion in looking beyond the city gate to the shadows of the dark corridors and canals that dominated Bruges. There would be many secret place hidden within the nooks and crannies of the city, many places for dark deeds to be carried out without worries of the screams being heard. The Knight frowned.
“Let’s get rid of El Guapo’s body first, and then we will head in and see what we can find. Be on your guard, though, this city is an evil place.”
After depositing the body, and head, into the nearest alley, the duo made their way through the streets of Bruges. As they walked, Matticus remembered why they didn’t want to come here in the first place. The city was full of nothing except really old buildings. None of them were in bad condition, but with no modern buildings, it meant that there was nothing to do in Bruges. Since there was nothing to do in Bruges, they had no idea where to start their investigation. Figuring any place was as good as the next, they went into the first bar they came to.
Most bars are loud, with at least a couple of patrons that were boisterous. They were filled with people drinking, laughing, and having a good time. The bar they entered in Bruges was not like that. It was more like a library than a bar. People were drinking, but they were doing so in a calm, orderly fashion.
“I don’t like this place,” Matticus whispered. “It’s almost as if we stepped into a different dimension when we entered through the scary door.”
“Keep your guard up. I can see at least three sparkly vampires in this crowd.”
“What? Really? Okay, this is getting ridiculous. I know I’m blind and all, but what am I not seeing?”
Revis chuckled under his breath, “You’re trying too hard perhaps. You are looking for the obvious and missing the subtle clues.”
“Okay, give me an example.”
“Look down the length of the bar, don’t focus on the patrons, but look them over in a glance and tell what you see.”
Matticus turned his head and quickly took in the myriad of customers sitting at the bar and then returned to conversation with his companion. “Six men, all armed, some well dressed, others barely out of rags, a good mix of height, weights and builds.”
“Good, now look again but tell me instead about the light around each of them.”
Scoffing, not really sure he understood the request, Matticus looked back and his eyes went wide when he saw a definite increase in the light around the third man down. “The light around him is different?”
“His skin is glowing, sparkling.”
Matticus and Revis turned to look again and found the vampire looking directly back at them. His mouth opened in a sneer, exposing two elongated fangs, and he stood and shoved his bar stool out of the way. It went crashing into a nearby table, upsetting the quiet about the place.
“Well, at least it feels more like a bar now,” Matticus said as he stood and unsheathed his sword.
Revis joined the Jester, and only managed to utter, “Crap,” before they were met in battle by the sparkly beast.