Revis studied the poems and gibberish, trying to decipher the rhymes and find additional clues in the nonsense, while Matticus pulled up a stool and poured himself a beer. Looking up from the parchment, Revis asked, “I thought you were in a hurry to be away from this place?”
“Well, they’ve already searched it, right? And you’re studying that, so I might as well take the edge off. We are far from the Kingdom now and we probably have a ways to go still before we can return to our homes, our families. Besides, it doesn’t make sense to just wander around Bruges anymore until we have a solid plan. We don’t know how many more vampires are out there and it’s become obvious that the vampires are working with the city guards for some reason so we don’t know if there are any citizens left in this town who will come to our aid if we need it.”
Revis thought about it for a second and then responded, “Well reasoned.”
“Pour me one too, would ya?”
Matticus poured a second beer and slid it over to Revis as the Knight pulled up an adjacent stool. Revis set the parchment down in between them so Matticus could read it too. The first knight took a drink of the beer, then immediately spit it back out. “Ugh. Why didn’t you tell me it was beer? Beer is disgusting,” he exclaimed as he reached over the counter to grab something a little stronger.
Revis took a long pull off of the whiskey bottle to get the taste of beer out of his mouth. A second later they heard a voice say, “That’ll be ten gold pieces for all of your drinks.”
The two men looked over the bar. Sitting on the floor, cleaning a glass, was the bartender. Before they could ask how they, and the guards, had missed him, he added, “And how do you not know how the guards are connected to those stupid sparkly things?”
“Give us a break,” Matticus replied defensively. “We’ve only been here for an hour.”
“And how do you know it,” Revis asked. “You’d think that would be something they’d keep secret.”
“Don’t you know anything,” the bartender scoffed. “You want to know what is going on in any city you go into, you ask the person working the bar. They know everything. My name’s bardictale, by the way. This is my tavern.”
Matticus looked around the place and was going to say something snide, but Revis noticed the look of mischief in the Jester’s eyes and put his hand out to keep him quiet. Matticus swallowed the insult but noted that was the second time that Revis had been rude to him, and he would definitely get his revenge at some point. It’s just a matter of time.
Revis caught Matticus’ rueful smile, and knew what it meant, but didn’t have time to deal with it then. Instead he turned his attention back to bardictale. “Can you tell us more about what’s going on here?”
“Show me the color of your interest and I’ll fill your heads with fitting stories.”
“He wants us to pay for the information. I’m ruler of the Matticus Kingdom, tell us everything you know about the sparkly vampires, the Bruges Guards, and Jaded, and you will be reimbursed for your troubles.”
Setting the glass aside, bardictale moved to stand behind the bar. “No, I’ll take that coinage now, or I’ll happily call out for the guards to return. First the ten gold for the drinks, and then another 10 gold for each answer for question trade.”
Revis reached inside his armor and produced a coin pouch. With a sigh, he tossed it down onto the counter. bardictale scooped it up and, after looking inside of it, almost fainted. “This is almost as much as I paid for the tavern.”
“How about you just keep that and answer all of our questions?”
“I think we have an understanding, sir.”
“What do you know about the sparkly vampires?”
“They started showing up here a few weeks, maybe a month, ago. They’re led by a woman called Jaded, but she’s not actually here in Bruges. Jaded left Bruges in the hands of the captain of the city guard, Steph. Now, Steph isn’t a sparkly thing herself. She’s just some kind of sparkly thing groupie.”
“Do they have a base of operations,” Matticus asked.
“No, but a big group of them gather once every other night at the warehouse on Pier 12 at midnight.”
“Then we’ve got a couple of hours to get down there and get hidden before their meeting starts,” Revis stated. “Then, we can listen in on their plans, and figure out a way to disrupt them.”
Matticus thanked bardictale while Revis checked the street to make sure it was clear to leave. When the way was clear, the two men took off into the night. As they walked, Matticus turned to Revis and said, “I’m glad we got all that information, but I’m sorry it cost you so much to get it.”
With a smile, Revis replied, “It didn’t cost me anything.” In his hand was the bag of gold he had given the bartender.
“Another trick of your ring? Or just a magic money bag?”
“The money bag always returns to me. Good way to not have to worry about pickpockets.”
“Nice, but, where do you get all those wonderful toys?”
“And why don’t I have them? I am ruler of the Kingdom after all?”
“Well… The Queen decided, due to your silly streak, you probably shouldn’t be trusted with them. I didn’t want to say anything but it was her decision.”
The Jester fumed, but knew better than to question a decision made by The Queen. Plus, he was a Jester, so, it made sense. He’d probably try to do something silly with the magic pouch. Bad things would happen. It was his curse.
Matticus and Revis made it down to the docks without without running into anyone, and then quickly found their way to Pier 12. Based on the position of the moon they still had some time before midnight, but wanting to be in position before anyone else showed up, they slipped into the warehouse and hid themselves behind some stacked boxes against the far wall. There they settled into a comfortable silence and waited for Steph and the sparkly vampires to make their entrance.
“Revis,” Matticus asked as midnight drew nearer, “What’s a groupie?”
“I have no idea.”
“Maybe they’ll talk about it during their gathering and we’ll find out.”
“Maybe. I doubt we’ll be that lucky, though. With the way this has been going so far, they’ll probably talk about unimportant, boring things for a couple of hours, and we’ll learn nothing.”
Matticus didn’t think things were going that badly, but he would admit that some things hadn’t gone according to plan. He was going to point that out, but, just then, a sparkly vampire walked into the warehouse. Then, another walked in….and another….and another. The duo lost track of time as more and more poured in. The sound of a sword hilt banging on the floor called the meeting to order. The hand holding the sword belonged to, who Matticus assumed, was Steph for she was the only one in the room who wasn’t sparkly. Looking at Revis, Matticus couldn’t help but feel like they were in way over their heads.
Revis just shook his head at the sight of around one hundred sparkly vampires.