No Use Crying Over Spilt Blood

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Portal Keepers Book 2 (The sequel to 'Would You Like Brains With That?').
Danira travels back to the Realm of the Undead to stop humans being used as blood-slaves.

Cover by Zillah Designs.

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14. SPBR, a Gift and Organising a Ball

 

      I followed Ferriday out to the corridor and we walked to the main part of the mansion.

      “How are you?” he asked as we stood in a painting lined hallway. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to you last night when we got back.”

      “I’m fine thank you. Do you know Lord Luca Harlin?” I replied curiously.

      Ferriday shook his head. “I’m afraid I don’t, but no doubt Leila told you that you are the talk of the Castle?”

      I nodded unhappily.

      Seeing my face he laughed. “You may not enjoy being the centre of attention, but it is good for me. More vampires will be sure to come to my ball so that they can see you, the human that enticed a vampire.”

      I winced at that and asked. “When is your ball?”

      “In two days. I have much to prepare.” Ferriday told me before changing the subject. “The main reason I asked to speak with you is because I am holding a meeting with some of my fellow society members. I thought that you might want to introduce yourself to them.”

      I bit my lip. “I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.”

      “I can vouch for all of them.”

      “It’s not that it’s just...”

      Ferriday interrupted me saying. “I’m sure that they will be willing to help you in any way they can.”

      Reluctantly I agreed and he led me down the hallway.

      “What is your society called?” I asked as we walked.

      “The Society for Protection of the Balance of the Realms, SPBR for short,”

      I smiled. It was so bizarre that there was a group of Undead that wanted to protect the Realm of the Living. I was so very grateful that there was though. It reminded me that not all vampires were bad like I had once believed. I wished that I could convince Dad of that too.

      Ferriday led me into what looked like a dining room. There was a huge round table, seated around which, in high-backed wooden chairs, were several vampires, one of which Pegasus. He waved at me. There were also a couple of ghosts, one of who I recognised as Howard, the ghost that Ridge and I had met in Gore on our quest to find the Infinity Blade. He nodded to me in greeting and I gave him a small smile.

      “Everyone I would like to introduce to you all Danira.”

      All the society members turned and regarded me with interest. Smiling weakly, I sat down in an empty seat. Ferriday seated himself beside me.

      When I didn’t speak Ferriday placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. His voice was kind as he said. “Why don’t you tell them who you are and why you’re here?”

 

      An hour later I emerged from the dining room feeling hopeful.    

      The members of SPBR had been supportive and had offered me their assistance in anything I needed. I had given them all a description of what Ridge, Gina, Bertie and Jayden looked like, and they had promised that they would lookout for anyone matching the descriptions.

      The doorbell rang and I hesitantly strode over to the door before opening it. I was relieved to see a human slave and not a vampire. “Yes?” I asked, unsure what to say.

      He gave me a shy smile and handed me a small parcel. “This is for Danira, with Lord Harlin’s compliments.”

      Gripping the parcel in my hand I stared after the human slave, who was now walking away down the path. When he had disappeared from view I went back inside, closing the huge door behind me. I stared down at the parcel. Was this some kind of joke? I wondered. Intrigued as to what was inside, I carefully unwrapped the brown paper and pulled out a palm sized leather box. Undoing the clasp on the box I popped open the lid to reveal Luca's business card. Unlike my other copy, this card had a handwritten note on it.

      Looking forward to seeing you again soon, LLH.

      I chewed my lip. It looked like Luca would be coming to Ferriday’s ball then. I moved the card, my eyes widening when I saw what was underneath. Resting on a bed of purple velvet was a pair of platinum earrings with diamonds the size of my thumbnail hanging from them.

      “What’s that?”

      I jumped at Leila’s comment wishing that she would stop creeping up on me. Tearing my gaze from the earrings I saw that everyone from the kitchen was stood nearby watching me. I silently handed Leila the earrings and card.

      She squealed in delight and bounced up and down on the spot. “Oh my God! He is so into you!”

      Nadia joined in with Leila as she continued to squeal and dance around excitedly.

      “I can’t wait to see what happens at Ferriday’s ball!” Leila cried.

      “What’s all this noise about?” Ferriday asked suddenly appearing with all the SPBR members that had been in the dining room.

      Blanching I grabbed the box and card from Leila before sprinting down the hallway, wanting to get away from the embarrassing situation.

      Minutes later someone said. “You run really fast, you know that?”

      I looked up from where I was sat on my bed to find Aidan smiling at me. I silently cursed myself. In my haste to escape I had forgotten to control my vampire aspects.

      “Why is this happening to me?” I murmured gazing down at the box.

      Laughing Aidan sat down beside me. “Oh come on it’s not that bad.”

      “I came to the Realm of the Undead to stop the Vampire Lords and instead my life seems to have become a badly written romantic comedy, consisting of balls and a vampire that appears to want to court me.”

      Aidan pulled a face. “Ok maybe it is that bad.”           

 

      Later that day Aidan, Ferriday and I were in the ballroom deciding what decorations to use for the ball. It wasn’t as big or impressive as Nevrac’s but was still very nice.

      “Why do vampires hold balls?” I asked Ferriday as we moved intricately carved wooden chairs onto the small raised platform that the orchestra Ferriday was hiring would be performing on.

      The wooden chairs would have been extremely heavy to any humans, but with my strength I could have easily lifted one using only one finger. Aidan had popped out of the room so I didn’t have to hide my strength while he was gone.

      “The balls are to show off how wealthy and powerful you are. As you could no doubt tell from Duke Nevrac’s ball he is very rich and extremely powerful.” Ferriday informed me.

      “Is he close to the Vampire Lords?” I set the chair I had been carrying down onto the stage.

      He narrowed his eyes at me guessing that I might be planning something. “Yes he is, but don’t even think about trying to use him to get near to them. Nevrac is dangerous.”

      Leaning an arm on the back of one of the chairs I said. “What do you think Lord Harlin’s intentions are?”

      “I’m not sure, but he seems very taken with you.”

      “Does it bother you that he’s paying me all this attention? After all I am your slave.” I said.

      “Of course it bothers me. It makes me wonder if his intentions are honourable, after all he could just be after your blood. But as long as he doesn’t hurt you, then I suppose that there is nothing wrong with it. However, it is rather insulting that he didn’t ask my permission before dancing with you. If I were a different sort of vampire, then I would have confronted him.”

      Aidan returned shortly after that and we all went to the shops in the lower town of the Castle to get supplies for the ball.

      When we returned to Ferriday’s estate Leila and Pegasus came over to help.

      “What is that curious thing?” Pegasus asked peering at the item I was holding.

      “It’s a Chinese lantern.” I told him with a smile.

      “It was such a good idea of yours to have a themed ball.” Leila told me from across the room where she and Aiden were covering the two long banquet tables with Chinese patterned silk.

      As well as the lanterns and silk, we had managed to get some cloth screens that had Chinese characters on. I watched in awe as Ferriday flew up to the ceiling and attached the disco ball sized lantern he had bought to the ceiling. I wished I could fly.

      When he had floated back down to the floor he grinned at me. “I’ve got a feeling that the ball tomorrow is going to be unforgettable.”

 

      Aidan got up at dawn. Well I say dawn, I really mean when the clocks in the mansion said it was dawn, and started baking food for the humans that were going to be at the ball.

      “Mm it smells so good.” I said when I walked into the kitchen hours later, at what I considered to be a more appropriate time.  

      Aidan glanced up at me. He was covered in flour and stirring some cake mixture.

      “Do you need a hand?” I asked with a smile.

      He looked relieved. “That would be great thanks.”

     

      It was around lunchtime when Ferriday appeared and asked if I could accompany him to the lower town. I agreed but as I was covered in flour I had to change into some clean clothes before we left. Ferriday led me to the clothes shop where he needed to pick up the Chinese patterned waistcoat he had ordered.

      “Ferriday,” someone cried in greeting.

      “Dane,” Ferriday beamed. “Good to see you. Will you be coming to the ball tonight?”

      “I wouldn’t miss it, old chap.”

      I felt Dane’s eyes on me but I refused to look up at him. Instead I kept my eyes on the ground.

      “Good, anyway got to go. Balls don’t organise themselves.” Ferriday laughed.

      “Until later then,”

      After getting Ferriday’s waistcoat we went to a shop that specialised in blood so that Ferriday could check that his order of an extraordinary amount of blood would be delivered later that day. I couldn’t help but wonder how much money Ferriday was spending on this grand affair and just how he earned money anyway.

 

      I waited until the blood deliverymen had left before storming into the ballroom. I had found a dress waiting for me on my door when I had gone into my room to tidy myself up.

      “What is this?” I demanded, holding the dress out at arms length.

      Ferriday looked at me in surprise. “Why it’s a dress, Danira.”

      “That’s not what I meant. What was it doing on my door?”

      “You’re wearing it tonight.”

      “I am not,” I scoffed. Don’t get me wrong, the dress was beautiful but there was no way I was going to wear it. “It hasn’t got a back.” I protested.

      Sighing, Ferriday rubbed his temple. “Danira, I don’t ask much of you. Please wear the dress. I need you looking stunning if people are to remember tonight.” he told me, his voice and eyes pleading.

      “They will remember it anyway.” I retorted. “It is going to be a hit with or without me there.”

      “I know that you don’t like being the centre of attention, but because of what happened at Nevrac’s ball people will be expecting something of you. You don’t want to disappoint them do you?”

      I shook my head, defeated. “I don’t want to disappoint you.”

 

      Pulling a face I continued to gaze at myself in the mirror. There was a knock at the door and I slipped my feet into my silk shoes. “Come in.” I called.

      The door opened and Leila walked in. Her mouth fell open when she saw me. “Danira,” she whispered sounding in awe. “You look amazing.”

      I was wearing the dress just as I had reluctantly told Ferriday I would. It was a deep red that matched the Chinese lanterns that decorated the ballroom, and as previously stated had no back.         

      “Are you going to wear the earrings?” Leila asked, fiddling with the hem of her black dress.

      I took them from the box and put them on. I had never worn something so expensive. With the dress and the earrings I looked like I should be going to a red carpet event. The collar that felt heavy around my neck didn’t really fit in with that scenario though.

      “I’m so excited.” Leila told me, grinning ear to ear. “I’ve never served before.”

      As the host vampire’s slaves, Aidan and I were expected to serve the vampire guests, but Leila had said that she would help out too.

      “Come on,” she said grabbing my hand and dragging me over to the door. “The guests will start arriving soon.”

      We walked through the mansion to the ballroom where Aidan, Ferriday, Pegasus and the human orchestra were waiting.

      “Danira,” Ferriday beamed. “You look delightful.”

      I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help but smile. Aidan and Pegasus gave me similar comments and I went over to the orchestra, chatting to them until Ferriday clapped his hands together.

      “The first guests will be here soon. Everybody get into positions.”

      I grabbed a tray laden with glasses of blood, as did Leila. Aidan was going to introduce the guests. Meanwhile the orchestra all readied their instruments and Pegasus helped himself to a glass of blood.

      Ferriday rolled his shoulders and glided towards the hallway. “Show time,”

 

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