Many years ago my sister returned from New York where she had been working . When she opened her case she found Vlad! There he sat master of all he surveyed,immortal and invincible there he was laid in between the wash bag and the dirty laundry!!
Long story made short Vlad is an immortal Vampire Bat older than the universe and has traversed it may a time . For some reason never explained he moved in with us and since then our lives have never been the same. He has also moved in his best friend Grim, now he is not easy to ignore, tall guy about eight ft tall dressed in black hooded robe and carrying a scythe.
I might tell you more about their exploits later but now I just wanted to publish a story I wrote about Vlad five years ago, when I was a different person. so here goes.
Vlad receives a summons.
It was a dark night and it was raining, Vlad was sitting by the window watching the large drops of rain plop, plopping off the window ledge onto the garden below. There was no Moon visible because the cloud was so heavy. Wrapping his cape around him Vlad felt very glad that he was inside on a night like this. This had not always been the case. Time was that Vlad would have revelled in this type of weather and he used to like nothing better than flying around in a thunder storm dodging the lightening and dancing to the thunder. Not tonight though he was warm and cosy inside this house with all his friends and family around him.
It was some time later and Vlad must have nodded off because he was awoken with a start by a loud banging at the window. Rubbing his eyes Vlad peered out into the gloom trying to see who or what was making such a commotion. Slowly his eyes adjusted to the darkness outside and he saw a drenched bat smiling or snarling, it was hard to tell which. Carefully Vlad eased the window open and invited the sopping creature into the house. After he had given the bat a towel and a warm drink he asked him what he wanted. The visitor was very black and short sighted and Vlad had to chuckle as the bat addressed a duster that had been left on the sill next to him. Tapping him on the shoulder Vlad said “I’m here old chap, unless you have bought an important communication for the duster and as I am the only creature in this household named Vlad I do not think that that is very likely.”
The bat turned around, stretched his wings and then using his sonar instead of his eyes he found, he whom he sort! Bowing deeply he handed Vlad a rolled parchment tied with a crimson ribbon that was edged with gold. Vlad took a deep breath as he recognised the writing on the front of the parchment; it was from the Grandmother with The Invisible Cape. Instantly Vlad knew that this could only mean one thing……TROUBLE! not only with a capital T. but completely spelt in capitals!
With shaking paws Vlad took the letter from the outstretched bats paws and looked at it, then decided to read it later. As he did the bat bowed him another deep bow and then without any warning disappeared in a puff of smoke leaving behind only a few ashes to prove that he had ever been there. “Hum” thought Vlad “that was a little melodramatic and uncalled for; he had not even finished his drink!”
It was all quiet and Vlad was on his own again. He had pushed the parchment to the other end of the window sill and was trying to ignore it. As the thunder and lightening thrashed about outside and the rain splashed against the window Vlad tried very hard not to notice that the parchment had two claws sticking out on either side. As the noise of the thunder clapped overhead Vlad tried very hard not to see that , slowly it was creeping towards him. As it got closer and closer Vlad could hear the unmistakable voice of the Grandmother with The Invisible Cape and the closer it got the angrier it sounded. “I know you are there Vladimir, and I know that you know I am here too. Just stop pretending this is not happening and talk to me!” Then with a final flourish the parchment upended itself, unfurled, to reveal a very red faced and angry black caped figure.
To say that the Grandmother with The Invisible Cape was an imposing sight was an understatement.From the pointed black ears that stuck out of her black lace viel to the pointy black shoes that stuck out from underneath her voluminous black skirts. She looked scary enough but when she spoke Vlad visibly paled, not a sight seen often. “Just what do you think you are doing keeping me waiting like this?” Roared the Grand mother. “I have travelled thousands of miles as this message and you shove me in a corner.!!!” Vlad realised that this was of course not the real Grandmother with the Invisible Cape just her message, though this was scary enough. She was now coming towards Vlad waving her black and silver walking cane at him.Quaking Vlad held uoip his paws to protect himself from the blows now reigning down on him Vlad said, as calmly as he could. “Please, please what is the message, I am listening. Look I am all ears.” Seeming to double in size the message took a deep breath and looked Vlad in the eyes and announced “You are to present yourself to me at the Family castle in Transylvania tomorrow.” With that she held up her hand to silence any objections that Vlad was about to make, then as the room lit up with a lightening flash she disappeared, just as the bat who had bought her had done. Vlad picked up the duster and wiped the sill.
Standing alone in the dark Vlad sighed a sigh at the thought of the journey he now had to make.
Creeping upstairs so as not to wake anyone Vlad first wrote a note to to explain his absence which he hoped would be no longer than 24hrs at the most! And then he packed a few essentials into his cape, checked that all was well with the others and then left as silently as he could….This was not so much silent as noisy, he misjudged the window frame as he went to pass through the glass bashed his head on the plastic frame and as he tried to recover his balance his cape got caught on nail in the wall and he landed with an undignified thud on the front lawn.
As he lay there in the pouring rain trying to recover his self composure he heard someone calling his name. It was White Ted “What’s going on Vlad? Have you gone mad? It is chucking it down out there!” “That fact has not passed my notice.” replied a very wet and now irritable Vlad.What was he doing out here getting soaked when he could be inside, all warm and cosy. He took a deep breath and told white Ted about the visitor, the Message and the Summons. White Ted listened intently to Vlad and when his best friend had finished talking he said, without hesitation. “I will come with you, Vlad and keep you company on your journey.”
Vlad raised a paw as if to stop White Ted then he seemed to stop and think. Perhaps White Ted could be of assistance, if nothing else he was always a good friend to have in your corner. So lifting his head up Vlad smiled at White Ted and replied, “That would be good if you are sure. Be quick my friend get your things and tell the others what you are up to.” As he flew up stairs White Ted heard Vlad say “we will have to travel light.”
The rain still had not let up and Vlad and White Ted were finding it very hard going. Their capes, now sodden, were weighing them down and the rain drops were blurring their vision. Their progress was none the less impressive. Vlad being a real Immortal Vampire Bear had special powers, though he had not used them in an age and they were a little rusty. White Ted held on tightly to the back of Vlad’s cape and this allowed him to keep up with his supersonic friend.
They had been flying for fifteen minutes, now and had taken a route out over the White Cliffs of Dover, across Paris and the Eiffel Tower where the had stopped to see the city by night and look at the lights of Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur whilst hanging upside down from the glass triangle at the Louvre.They had then moved swiftly on over Germany then stopping for a few minutes in the Czech Republic for refreshment. They enjoyed a plate of pork dumplings and sauerkraut washed down a bottle of the, new Czech speciality wine, Ice and Straw, which they enjoyed very much. As they passed over Slovakia Vlad pointed out the village where the two Slove Bats ( another story) had been born a long time ago.
The rain had long since turned to snow and white Ted was getting very cold and tired. He asked Vlad was it much further as his paws were going numb.Vlad turned to him and said “Do you see those mountains up ahead, they are the Carpathian Mountains. We are entering Hungary now and soon we will see the Family Castle in the Trinova Mare Valley. So hold on my friend we are nearly there.” Reaching out Vlad pulled white Ted closer to him and shielded him from the snow and wind with his cape. “Look, look” cried Vlad “there is the Castle now over there on the highest peaks.” White Ted strained his eyes to see what Vlad was pointing at and to his surprise he could see two massive castles looming up through the snow. Raising his voice above the noise of the howling wind he asked Vlad. “Which is your castle?” Vlad laughed “The bigger one of the two of course is ours that other one belongs to our neighbour and is called The Fortress of Sighisoara, it has a very chequered history.”
Before white Ted could ask any more questions he felt Vlad slowing down and descending towards the very big, dark and menacing castle. If white Ted was hoping for a soft landing he was to be unlucky
The arrival and introductions
Vlad was as usual showing off, knowing that all the staff would be on the look out for his arrival he decided to give them a show. Circling the castle twice getting lower each time Vlad went into a fast dive pulling up at the last minute and soaring up into a barrel roll spiralling back and forth across the courtyard he was indeed putting on an impressive show.
Unfortunately as he started to perform a Triple Sulko, the formidable figure of the Grandmother with the Invisible cape appeared at one of the windows and loudly commanded Vlad to cease this ‘Tom Foolery’. Vlad was so shocked that he lost concentration and White Ted who luckily for him fell onto a soft mattress that had for whatever reason had been thrown out into the courtyard. Stunned and shocked Vlad misjudged the height of one of the castle ramparts and smashed into the stone wall with some force. As he lay on the stone floor of the courtyard watching little stars dance around his head Vlad could hear the harsh voice of the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape Saying. “Boris, will you kindly go and collect the creature that landed on the mattress and while you are out there scrape up young master Vladimir and bring him to me in the great hall!”
The Great hall was just that, a huge long room with a stone floor and high stone walls decorated with richly coloured tapestries and painting of Vlads’ ancestors, along the left side there was the most impressive display of medieval weaponry that you could ever expect to see! The centre of the room was taken up with the longest table you had ever seen it could sit thirty people or more, though it was not set for a meal it did have several large candle sticks and silver and gold bowls dotted about on it. The hall was dominated by a huge fire place above which was Vlad’s family coat of arms; the fire was alight and warming the top end of the hall. Next to the fireplace was a huge black chair upholstered in red and edged in gold, and sitting in this chair, dressed in black was the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape. She was sitting facing down the long hall and had a perfect view of the huge wooden, double doors at the entrance to the hall tapping her toes and fingers, and she was not a patient Bat….
White Ted, meanwhile, had had a soft landing and had been pleased to meet Boris who had gently scooped him up in his massive hand and carried him into the warmth of the castle kitchen. He had set him down on the kitchen table and then left him to take in his surroundings while he went out again to fetch, as he had put it ‘the Master’ as he went out into the courtyard he looked back over his shoulder and said to White Ted “Help yourself to the food and drink, my wife has prepared it especially for you.” And then he was gone. Left alone white Ted looked around him and could hardly believe what he saw, everything was so large, he was used to human large but this was different, this was huge! The room itself seemed endless and the ceiling as high as the mountains outside. Luckily though it was much warmer in here than it was outside and there was no snow falling that had to be a plus.
Moving along the table, which was long and broad White Ted was shocked at how far he was from the floor and decided that it would be prudent to keep away from the edge. Venturing further up the table, which was set with all manner of cooking utensils and food and bowls all bigger and richer than he had ever seen in his life White Ted eventually found a plate of food and a steaming hot drink set out on china that was just the right size for him. He was starving all that flying had given him an appetite, though in truth it was not really that long since he and Vlad had stopped for a snack on route. He was not one to waste food so he picked up the silver knife and fork laid out for him and began to eat. He had not had many mouthfuls when he noticed a large face smiling at him. This was Olga, the wife of Boris, she was also larger than anyone White Ted had seen before but he was not afraid of her, he could tell instinctively that this was a kind and gentle being. “Hello little teddy, what is your name?” she asked her face lit up by her smile. “You seem very hungry, would you like some more food?” she enquired, “No thank you.” replied White Ted, he was nothing if not polite. “The food was absolutely delicious, thank you. My name is White Ted.” He then took a step backwards and in true bearmanly form, with a flourish of his cape he bowed a deep bow to Olga. As he straightened up he asked. “And may I have the privilege of knowing your name Madame?” “Of course you may it is Olga and I am the wife of Boris who bought you in here.” With this she held out a finger to White Ted which he took and shook, which was no mean feat when the finger in question is the biggest you have ever seen. “I see that you have accompanied the young master and from the state of you I can see it has been an eventful time for you.” Olga said, straightening White Ted’s cape. “Yes it was rather” replied White Ted. “I have not travelled so far or so fast before and I can tell you though it was very exciting I hope the return journey is a little less rushed!”
Olga smiled at the little white bear and felt touched by the innocence in his eyes. “yes she said let’s hope it is” as she turned away for a second she added under her breath, “If return you do.” Then taking a deep breath she cleared her throat and was just about to add something when she was stopped before she could speak by the huge kitchen door swinging open with a resounding bang! White Ted and Olga swung round to see what had caused the commotion.
What a sight met their eyes, Boris was covered with snow and soaking wet, his coat and boots were covered with mud and his scarf, which was usually wound around his neck in three neat pleats was hanging down by his knees giving him an overall bedraggled look!!! “Oh my, what happened to you?” Asked a shocked Olga. “Hum” replied the miserable looking Boris. To White Teds surprise he noticed that Boris was actually smiling; despite his bedraggled appearance he looked happy?? Olga smiled a knowing smile and asked “Did you find the Master?” “Yes I did and here he is!!!!”
Just so you will understand why Boris was in such a state I will recount to you what had happened in the courtyard. If you recall Vlad was showing off and attempting to pull off a triple Sulko manoeuvre which he had sadly misjudged and slammed into the castle wall with such a force that he had landed splat on his back on the courtyard floor, after loosing hold of white Ted.
Well he had laid there for some time watching the pretty stars dancing around his head with the fairy blacksmiths banging hammers on anvils in his ears! As the dizzy feeling had slowly subsided he had heard footsteps approaching, large, giant footsteps. Pretending to be unconscious Vlad had lain very still and quiet waiting …. .
He knew who was approaching. As the poor unsuspecting Boris arrived on the scene he was greeted by, a for all the world a comatosed Vlad. Unaware that he was being watched by the tiny prone figure Boris strode right up and bent down to gently pick up his master. It had been a long time, eon’s infact since he had seen Vlad and time had clouded his memory as to how mischievous his master could be. Just as he stretched out his hand to pick up Vlad he was shook to the core and dazed by the horrendous roar that Vlad let out. To say that, that was the shriek to end all shrieks was an understatement!! As the poor unsuspecting Boris was reeling from the noise Vlad flew up his left trouser leg, through his thermal vest and out of his scarf at such a speed that Boris had been sent flying into the slush and snow of the courtyard.
Having hold of Boris’s scarf Vlad proceeded to circle around the beset servant unravelling his scarf as he went. This continued for several minutes until Boris finally recovered himself and reached out a large hand and caught his spiralling Master as one would catch a Dandelion, fairy, seed. Well Vlad was so pleased to see his old friend; Vlad had seen Boris grow from an infant.
Boris was as everyone else inside the castle walls, immortal though unlike Vlad and the rest of his kind the servants could not leave the castle unless they were in the company of one or more of the Family for if they did they would age and die.
After a lot of larking around Vlad asked Boris how Gregor and all the other servants and retainers were keeping. Boris Had replied that all were well apart from the odd aches and pains, and believe you me, the aches and pains in this castle were very odd indeed!!
Stopping short Vlad said with a sudden urgency “Boris have you seen my companion his name is white Ted he travelled all the way here to be with me and I dropped him when I heard you know who shouting at me? Is he ok, have you seen him?” Boris smiled at his Masters worried expression. “Yes Master I have seen him and he is safe and warm inside with Olga she has prepared you both a meal.” So with that they both entered the kitchen.
After Olga had made a great fuss of Vlad and made sure that he and White Ted had had enough to eat, no mean feat. Boris reminded the Master that the Grandmother with the invisible cape was still awaiting him in the great hall. Now Vlad had been enjoying being back with his old friends and the other members of staff had all been in to see ‘the Master’ Vlad enjoyed holding court, as we well know.
Boris gently reminded him that he had been summoned here for a purpose and that the purpose was getting very impatient. Vlad did not like being reminded of this and started to throw a tantrum, stamping his foot and thrashing his cape around and working himself up into real state. Boris, who was used to all this and was not impressed, banged loudly on the table and told Vlad in no uncertain terms that he was expected in the great hall NOW………………
The Grandmother and the hall
As Vlad slowly pushed open the huge doors to the great hall he could hear a rhythmic, tap tap tapping of tiny black pointy shoes on the stone floor and the scrape scrapping of tiny sharp claws on the arm of the chair somewhere in the distance.
He entered the vast hall and immediately he could feel the tension, a distant but fierce voice reached his ears. “Vladimir is that you, Why have you kept me waiting for so long?” The Grandmother with the Invisible cape did not sound happy. As these words resounded across the room Vlad felt the temperature drop to at least forty degrees below zero and he could see icicles forming on the chandeliers high above him. “Well!!” the voice boomed out again. “Are you going to keep me waiting all night?” Knowing that there was no sense in prolonging the agony Vlad flapped his cape and took off for the dark side of the hall. Dodging the icebound chandeliers he headed for the fire light at the far end of the room.
As he neared the huge chair where the Grandmother with the Invisible cape was awaiting his arrival memories of centuries gone by rushed before him, making the room very crowded and difficult to navigate. Finally he arrived and landed on the arm of the chair…. Well I say chair it was more a throne, it was made of what looked like black mahogany and ivory and the back and seat where covered in a blood red material the like of which no human eyes had ever seen.
The strangeness of the chair did not stop there it was like a living thing and had four clawed feet and two clawed hands on the end of its arms. These feet and hands were tapping in time with those of the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape. “Hello Grandma.” Beamed Vlad, flashing his pearly white fangs and bowing deeply. “Don’t you Grandma me you snivelling toad and you can stop crawling before you begin, as it will do you no good. No good at all!” the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape looked furious, her eyes sparkled as she spoke and smoke was coming out of her ears and mouth.
Ok thought Vlad there was no point in trying to flatter her when she was like this there was no reasoning with her! So clearing his throat he took another deep bow and said. “Please forgive me Grandmother, for keeping you waiting. It was very wrong of me but the truth is it was so tempting to stay and show off to everyone in the kitchen, when I knew all I would get from you was a frozen greeting and a telling off!!”
Vlad had learnt over millennia that the blunter and more truthful you were with the Grandmother with the Invisible cape, the better things went for you. The tapping and scratching stopped immediately and the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape took in a deep breath. “You always were a spoilt show off but that is why I love you so much, always I have said to your mother that she has made a wonderfully spoilt creature in you.” As she finished speaking she threw her arms open wide and grinning a hideous grin levitated towards a similarly grinning Vlad.
The two of them embraced for a few minutes then Vlad being the one to break the embrace stepped back and asked. “So, why have you summonsed me? Grandmother, what have I done wrong this time?” The Grandmother with the Invisible Cape raised her eye brows took a sharp intake of breath, folded her arms and then said. “Vladimir, I know it is your duty to travel this world and do as you see fit, which I must say to your credit you have done since before the beginning of time and you have” at this point her voice dropped and it seemed as if she might choke on her words.” Done a very good job.” These last words were almost inaudible and Vlad said. “Pardon Grandmother I did not catch that.” “Tough!” replied the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape. “I shall not be repeating it. I was saying so far you have made a passable job of things but of late you seem to have stopped your travels and to have settled down in a little house in a nondescript town in middle England of all places!!!!!!!!!!” as she came to the end of this sentence her voice was climbing as high as the ceiling and she was choking again. Noticing that Vlad appeared to be amused by the situation she demanded an explanation.
The Grandmothers favourite
Now it is not often that Vlad is stumped for an answer or at a loss for words but he was now and he had no idea of what to say in his defence. He could see that the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape was in no mood to wait and he could see that her toes were beginning to tap again (as were those on her chair. which was inching closer and closer every silent second that passed.)
Vlad thought all was lost, as he could not think a single explanation except the only one that the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape would not like. Sweat was dropping from is brow and he could feel the heat of his Grandmothers rage and the chair was now attacking his legs. Just as he decided all was lost the door at the far end of the hall burst open and in came Boris carrying White Ted on the palm of his hand and whatsmore he was followed by two richly dressed creatures. One of which was a bear the other, the female was a bat.
The Grandmother with the Invisible Cape had just raised her silver cane to Vlad when she was distracted by the sudden noise of the door opening and people or should I say creatures entering.
When she saw who was approaching she stopped and seemed frozen in time.
“Mother in law how are you, I must say you do not age at all. You look every bit as interesting as when I first met you.” Ivan the Vampire Bear approached the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape a large grin spreading across his face he was genuinely pleased to see her. Spreading his arms to give her a big hug he rushed towards the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape, who did not seem to share his enthusiasium and was visibly horrified by his advance! “Don’t start all that!” she command in a voice that could turn milk into yoghurt at fifty paces. Then throwing up her hands and to Vlad’s’ relief dropping her cane she froze the approaching Ivan in mid flight. “That will sort him out for a while.” She muttered. Then the room was filled with unusual warmth, any warmth was unusual really in this place. The female of the couple Annuska, Vlad’s Mother and Ivan’s wife, was speaking. “Now Mother that was very unkind. You know how much he loves you he was so excited when I told him we were coming to visit. Please undo the spell.”
Vlad looked up to where his mother was hovering next to the static Ivan and waived. “Is that my Vladdy?” cried Annuska in delight “I did not know you would be here. How wonderful.” she clapped her paws and beamed from pointed ear to pointed ear. “Look Ivan its’ Vladdy look!” She said shaking the frozen bear by her side then remembering she snapped. “Mother will you please release Ivan at once!” “Alright.” replied the Grandmother with the Invisible cape, a nasty grin crossing her face. Quick as a flash she lowered her cane and before he had time to recover himself the unfortunate Ivan was sent crashing to the floor, just missing bashing into Boris as he went! “Thank you Mother.” tutted a rather annoyed Annuska. “Well.” Muttered the grandmother with the Invisible Cape “he is too nice to me for his own good and I have no patience for his simpering tonight.” Annuska was bristling visibly now as she helped Ivan to his paws and brushed his cape down lovingly. “He does not simper mother he genuinely loves you though goodness knows why, the way you treat him he should not even acknowledge you!” ending her sentence on a hiss Annuska again looked at Ivan and smiled, “are you alright dear?” she enquired. “Yes thanks beloved, I see the old dear has not lost any of her sense of humour in the years since our last visit.” Said Ivan putting his paw through Annuska’s and hugging her. “Is that you Vlad, my lad?” He called across the room as he caught sight of Vlad teetering on the arm of the big black and red chair. “What a good boy you are, how nice of you to visit your old Grandmother, when did you arrive, did you know we were coming?” Ivan was so pleased to see Vlad that he did not notice the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape, who was bristling with anger, approaching him from the side her cane poised to strike. Infact it was only the look on Vlad’s face and the horror in Annuska’s voice as she shouted out “No!” that he was, just in the nick of time alerted to the fact that he was in danger. As he swung around he came face to red face with the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape. “Oh Mother in law you want a cuddle” he beamed stepping foreword and catching her up in his arms he proceeded to dance her around in a big circle laughing and singing loudly as he did. This did not improve the Grandmother with the Invisible Capes’ mood in the slightest, infact there was already smoke pouring out from her ears and mouth and her bat wings, normally hidden were nervously twitching for all to see. “Put me down you cretin!” She angrily shrieked at the blissfully happy Ivan. “Put me down before I have you put down!” She was screaming now and the icicles that had earlier formed on the chandeliers were now raining down on those beneath. Well Annuska thought that at this point something had to be done so taking hold of Boris’s arm she asked him to rescue the Grandmother and distract the affectionate Ivan before the Grandmother with the Invisible cape carried out her threats. Being her daughter Annuska knew only too well that the “old dear” was quite capable of carrying out her threats and much more.
Mission accomplished Boris and Ivan were settled in the kitchen by the fire drinking a bottle or two of the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape’s best wine enjoying a chat about the old times. White Ted who had been astounded and exhausted by the events of the night was asleep at their feet in a little bed that Olga had made for him.
Meanwhile back in the Great Hall Annuska was trying to calm her mother down and at the same time asking Vlad what was going on for him to have received a summons here to the Castle. “Mother why have you sent for us all it is not convenient for us to drop everything at this time of year. We were in the middle of preparing the Winter Palace for the nearly new Millennium celebrations. I have so much to do and good as he tries to be Ivan, as much as I love him is as much help as a chocolate fire guard.” Vlad looked up at his mother, at this point licked his lips and smiled. Smiling back and patting his head Annuska continued “Mother it is most inconvenient of you to demand our presence right now when you know how rushed I am!” The Grandmother with the Invisible Cape again was bristling as she visibly grew several inches and moved towards her daughter, pushing Vlad out of her way as she went. “I will summons who I want when I want as urgently as I want!!” as she finished speaking her voice had risen to high shriek that was splintering the ice bound chandeliers. “and when may I ask was I to get my invite to these grand celebrations, had you sent the chocolate fire guard out with mine as I have not received it yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!” As she ended this time she turned on her heels and stomped back to her chair and as she sat down in it she tapped twice with her pointy toes and the chair raised itself up on its legs and scuttled back to the fire, turning its’ back on Annuska and Vlad as it went.
Well that explains a lot though Annuska to herself how typical of Mother to assume that we have forgotten her. Giving Vlad a knowing smile and a comforting pat on the arm she took a deep breath and began to speak. “Mother dear I have not sent any invitations yet, you know full well that the Snowman of Seidozero has not awoken from his long sleep yet and you are the first name on his Sub Artic list. Why do you always assume the worst of me? Have I ever let you down? When have you not been included in the past?” At this the chair slowly inched its way round so that the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape was again facing them. Looking a little shamefaced, but not a lot, the old bat cleared her throat and said. “Well, err ….. I um” just when it looked as if ,for once in Millennia, Annuska had struck her mother speechless a wicked glint sparked in the Grandmother with the Invisible Capes’ eyes and she triumphfully announced “You married that chocolate fire guard Ivan against my wishes and better judgment!” Smiling widely she awaited her daughters reply. She did not bargain on what she got though. Annuska, normally extremely patient with her mother went red in the face and she now began to grow in size and width. Her shadow filled the room and Vlad who had never seen his mother this enraged ran swiftly under the table for safety. “How dare you call my beloved Ivan that? I let it go the first time but not a second time.” Before Annuska could continue her mother cut in. “You called him one first.” Holding up her hand to silence her mother, no mean feat but she succeeded, Annuska continued, “I am allowed to call him what I want he is my husband and I love him.” Throwing her arms down by her side Annuska stamped her foot and the whole room shook icicles and dust flying everywhere. “Why must you always do this? Mother. Why do you always assume you are being hard done by? Let’s face it no one in their right mind would dare leave you out. We, least of all, Ivan and I love you dearly for all your bad temper and mean mindedness. Though for the life of me I cannot understand why Ivan loves you so much you treat him like dirt under your shoes.” With this Annuska threw her wings up in the air and after taking a deep breath shrunk to her normal size and sat on a near by chair. “Come here Vlad and give your mother a hug. Gosh I need one!” Slowly encase there were anymore falling icicles Vlad emerged from beneath the table and when he was sure it was safe rushed into his mothers open arms. The Grandmother with the Invisible Cape watched all this from her chair and slowly a smile crept across her wrinkled face.
Silence is needed
Back in the kitchen White Ted had woken up and been introduced to Ivan and was now listening intently to the tales the other two were telling him. Snuggled up in the crook of Boris’s arm white Ted felt very safe and warm. Whether this warmth was from Boris, the fire or the glass of wine he had just drank he was not sure. Ivan was in full flow reminding Boris of the last time they had been salmon fishing on the Kola Peninsular. What a time they had had and what huge Atlantic salmon they had caught and taken back to the Winter Palace where the cook had prepared it for their supper and they had sat on the roof eating it and watching the show being put on by the Aurora Borealis. How the Sky had been lit up that night and after they had finished the meal they had all flown over the Peninsular so that Boris and Olga could see all the sights from the shores of the Barents Sea to the Bay of Kandalaksha taking in the Lakes Umbozero and Lovozero and all the beautiful forests in between then they had stopped of for a cup of hot chocolate with the Snowman at Seidozero before travelling to Monchegorsk on Lake Imandra for a spot of late night skiing. Needless to say they had slept late into the next day and Olga and Annuska had got bored waiting for them and gone to visit the Hibini Mountains where they had had a lovely day picnicking in the valleys and ice skating on the glaciers. White Ted was very taken with Ivan and could see where a lot of Vlad’s character had come from. He was certainly an entertaining chappy and good to be around. Just as they were about to open another bottle of wine Olga entered the kitchen and told them that Ivan and white Ted were to report to the Great hall at once. “Oh good” said Ivan jumping up and sending his glass crashing to the floor.
Wine and glass spreading all over the place. “Come on white Ted at last you get to meet my wonderful and lovely mother in law again.” With that he leaped over the broken glass and spilt wine and scooped white Ted up into his arms and was gone. “I shall never get used to that even if I live for ten million years, never.” Olga said shaking her head and stooping down to clear up the mess. “No” agreed Boris “that disappearing never gets easier to cope with does it?” and he too bent down to help his wife.
Ivan, as ever, was in a rush to get back to the great hall and his ‘beloved mother in law’. White Ted clung to him as fast as he could so as not to fall from any great height. “Listen Ted” Ivan said in a hushed voice “we will take the short cut through the hall of mirrors but do not tell the others that we came this way as they will only moan at me and I get moaned at enough without asking for it!” with this said he told white Ted to close his eyes and keep them shut tight until he was told otherwise. White Ted shut his eyes and held on tight to Ivan’s red and gold waistcoat and felt the rush of wind as they did a left turn he then felt something strange that he could not describe a sort of pushing and spreading feeling. Had he had his eyes open he would have been amazed as Ivan had just flown them through a four foot thick stone wall and they were now in a long and narrow hall lined on both sides, ceiling and floor with huge mirrors. As they travelled through this strange place white Ted could not resist the urge to take a peep. Very slowly and carefully so that Ivan would not notice white Ted turned his head and opened his eyes. The first thing to strike him was the light, it was so bright and hot he was sweating and his eyes hurt so much that he decided that he would close them right away. Just at that precise second he caught sight of himself in the mirrors! I say saw himself because that was all he could see, he could feel Ivan holding him, he could feel Ivan’s breath on his forehead and he could hear Ivan’s voice as he sang a strange song. What he could not see, and this worried him, was Ivan! White Ted looked up, down and to both sides still he could not see Ivan what he could see to his horror was that they were heading towards a huge guilt mirror at the end of the room and Ivan was not slowing down! As the end of the hall got nearer and nearer Ted decided that he would have to trust in blind faith, so he closed his eyes and crossed his paws just as he felt the sensations he had felt on entering the hall and he assumed that they were out the other side safely. “Okay little one you can open the old peepers now and please remember what I told you we were never in the hall of mirrors!” Ivan said ending with a conspiratorial wink.
Annuska was rushing along the corridor that lead from the great hall to the top of the staircase where she was hoping to head off Ivan and white Ted as she rounded the fist corner she was amazed to come face to face with them both, Ivan looking guilty and white Ted stunned. “How did you get here?” asked Annuska coming to a dead stop then taking a deep breath she added “don’t answer that I do not want to know.” She smiled a knowing smile at Ivan and said I see you have bought the little white one. He is very cute and reminds me of Peter the polar bear we met years ago on that that short break we had in the artic circle on St Lawrence Island. Oh he was a sweetie too! But I digress I am out here to catch you both before you go in, Mother is in a terrible mood!” at this point she held up a paw to silence Ivan who was about to speak. “No Ivan do not interrupt me , we do not have much time and what happens next in there” she now motioned back over her shoulder with her paw “will not only affect you and I but Vlad, this little fellow, Vlad’s little family and some innocent humans. So listen to me good and take what I say in!” At this point Ivan started babbling on about his mother in law being a big softy and that he could win her round with a joke and a smile. Annuska was at screaming point when would this dear, kind hearted creature wake up and smell the coffee. This was not a fairy queen they were dealing with this was the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape and she was angry and threatening to call the neighbours in. The last time the Dracul’s had been invited in the place had been wrecked and it had frankly ended up as a bloodbath. No she decided she must take firm action and now. Quick as a flash she spread her wings and waved them over beloved Ivan’s head saying as she did “No words of wisdom shall escape from your lips tonight” and then just to be doubly sure she added “and no rubbish either.” Ivan tried to appeal to her but not a sound left his lips. “Right I think we are ready to face her now come on lets go and Ivan, I mean this, do not move from my side your sons’ and our futures’ depend on this!” Annuska then smiled at white Ted and said “Come to me little one and do not be afraid as long as you are quiet and stay with me you will be safe” then with a final warning look to Ivan she turned and lead the way back to the great hall.
All is well?
Vlad, meanwhile had been telling the Grandmother with the invisible cape about his friends and the human family that he was staying with. He was doing quite a good job and she was, at least, listening to him. As he explained how he had been bought in error, mistaken for a Halloween toy, travelled from New York America to England in a suitcase and all his adventures since. He had her smiling, well as near to a smile as she could manage, at points he had her annoyed but on the whole she was beginning to see that Vlad had commitments to these creatures he called his family and also a begrudging love for the family of humans who for whatever reasons loved him very much. Things were going well, Vlad thought to himself, as he continued to explain that these humans only spent a short time in their world before they died. He knew that his grandmother new this fact well but he felt it was crucial to his case. “So grandmother their short lives are but a wink of your eye and they have given me much pleasure and I think I have given them pleasure too by allowing them to live in my presence.
I only ask that you allow me to stay with them until the line dies out. This will not be long a mere century or two, nothing to you of such patience.” Watching the grandmother with the Invisible Capes’ face Vlad realised he was creeping too much and that she was loosing her temper with him so he quickly put in. “Alright, we all know you have no patience but you could visit regularly and I promise that I will bring friends to see you often.” Seeing he was at last winning he decided to stop pleading his case while he was ahead. So with a coy smile he ended by saying “I have a friend called Abbi who makes a mean chicken soup and I am sure he and cook would get on like a house on fire.” This was a very apt turn of phrase as the cook was a part-time pyromaniac. The tapping of the grandmothers toes and scratching of her claws, and that of her chair also, had stopped, she was considering Vlad’s’ case. ………………..Seconds then minutes ticked by Vlad sat down on the arm of the chair. The great hall was so silent that it was deafening …………..you could hear a rubber band drop! The chair started to scratch its’ leg then suddenly stopped, feeling embarrassed for braking the silence!
This went on for what felt like ages and just when Vlad felt he could take it no longer and his head would burst…………….. CREAK the door at the far end of the room swung open.
“Mother” called Annuska as she entered the hall cradling white Ted gently in her claws and followed by a smiling Ivan who was waiving furiously to the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape. Spotting this Annuska slapped his paw down and hissed “be still will you and leave things to me” a crest fallen Ivan lowered his paw and bowed, in obedience to his wife. “Here we are mother as you requested all of us including the little white one. See I have him here in my paw.”
The Grand mother with the Invisible Cape looked up from her chair, her face a picture, not a nice one but a picture all the same. “And?” she replied curtly looking at her son in law and daughter as they approached. “And!” answered Annuska as she landed delicately in front of her mothers chair, which tried, unsuccessfully to trip her up, nasty thing.
The Grandmother with the Invisible Cape watched as Ivan bumped down and stood quietly beside his wife. She waited a few seconds and when he had not opened his mouth she asked “What is the matter with him has the bat got his tongue?” she then proceeded to cackle at her own joke. No one else even smiled but she was undeterred and carried on by adding “No sickly sweet greeting for me Ivan my little slug?” Annuska squeezed Ivan’s paw to reassure him, though he did not need it as his hide was, metaphorically speaking ten foot thick.
Deep breath time again for Annuska and then she announced. “Mother have you listened to what Vlad has to say in his defence?” “I have!” replied her mother. “And have you reached a decision about his future?” “I have” said the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape, a smile crossing her lips but it could have been indigestion. Again there was silence and the only sound was the fire crackling and then to everybody’s surprise white Ted piped up. “Well what is it then? Please.” The silence continued, if a little shocked by the interruption. Then as if it were the simplest of matters the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape said, “Thank you white Ted for your directness I like that. After some consideration and great deal of thought I can see that Vlad has done well over the centuries. He has worked hard as the representative of this great family and has caused havoc not only in this universe but also in many others too. After more thought I can see that he may deserve a short rest and as he seems to have a family to support now it would be unworthy of me to punish him.”
At this point she was interrupted by White Ted again. “Punish him for what?” all eyes were on him now, then slowly all eyes turned back to the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape who was shaking in her chair. No one new that she was actually laughing but she was. “Punish him for neglecting his duties and me; punish him for allowing his powers to grow rusty with disuse. But as I said I will not punish him if he will spend time here with me every once in a while to hone his powers back to full strength. Also he must bring his friends here spend time at the castle. I shall also be making impromptu visits to England to meet the friends and also the lowly humans he is gracing with his presence.” Every one was waiting with baited breath to see if she was finished. She was not “Furthermore I demand that my invitation to the nearly new Millennium party be the first to be delivered and that Ivan brings it personally.” As she ended the Grandmother with the Invisible cape reached out to her daughter and said. “Give me that little white Bear I would like to talk with him and Vlad.” With that she snatched White Ted from Annuska’s paw and then looking at Annuska and Ivan she shouted “I thought you were busy, do you not have a party to organise. Well don’t just stand there be gone. Get organising, things will not get done at the Winter Palace with you two numskulls standing there with your mouths open!!!”
As they left the great hall Annuska removed the spell from Ivan so as they went the Grandmother had to listen to a string of endearments from him. This greatly annoyed her as Annuska knew it would. Left alone in the great hall Vlad, White Ted and the Grandmother with the Invisible Cape talked long into the night. The next morning after a huge breakfast the entire castles’ staff turned out to waive Vlad and White Ted off on their return journey home. Before they left they made arrangements for the Grandmother with the Invisible capes’ first visit to England and they would all see each other at the party at the Winter Palace on the Kola Peninsular very soon.That as they say is another story. As was the journey home!!………….