After finding a reasonably safe-looking spot to tie up the mule and hiding the cart’s load of merchandise as best she could, Sylvia found herself following the vampire into the tavern. She had never actually been inside such a place herself and now failed to see the appeal of anyone entering beyond safety from the night streets. The air inside was stuffy and rather nauseating, an acrid mixture of smoke, ale, and body odor. She witnessed at least two fights in progress while passing from the main entrance to the other side of the room. Patrons who seemed to have long already had their fill shouted at each other or sang together; some attempting both actions at once. The most sober members of the establishment appeared to be the two individuals seated at a corner table he led her to. Another vampire with black hair flowing passed his shoulders greeted them with a raised glass as they reached the table. “Vandalarius, you were gone so long we thought you’d headed back home.” After downing the contents and landing the empty glass on the table with a long clank, he peered over at Sylvia. “Made a new friend while you were away I see.”
“It seems I did.” The first vampire sat down at the only remaining chair, leaving Sylvia to continue standing in front of them. “This little miss was nearly robbed just outside the tavern. I apparently chose an opportune time to step out and was able to deliver her from harm.”
“My dragon helped with that also,” Sylvia attempted to remind him.
“Dragon?” The second vampire’s brows rose toward the ceiling.
“Oh yes.” Vandalarius rolled his eyes while swishing the contents of what Sylvia hoped was his own glass. “She can summon tiny bloated lizards, Deigenhardus. Watch out.”
“What was your name?” Sylvia asked.
The second vampire pointed at himself. “I’m not sure which of us you’re speaking to but I’m Deigenhardus. You can call me Deigen if the last bit gives you trouble. And this-” he slapped his friend on the shoulder “-is Vandalarius.”
Sylvia nodded, trying to re-pronounce the names in her head. She turned her attention to the table’s quieter third occupant and was surprised to find his skin lacked the snowy completion of death the other two shared. “You’re not a vampire?”
“Nope.” The towheaded young man stirred a piece of bread into a bowl in front of him. Judging from what she could she of the contents, Sylvia gave the assumption it was some sort of brown soup; or perhaps the fellow had an insatiable desire for gravy. “I’m a regular, boring mortal like yourself. Though I doubt you’ll like my name much either.” He swallowed the drenched bread in a single gulp. “Name’s Bastiick.”
“Such strange names,” murmured Sylvia.
“Our names happen to be a bit antiquated perhaps but hardly all that peculiar.” Deigen cocked his head, raising another brow. “And what might yours be, little miss?”
“Sylvia?” Vandalarius and his friends shared a look with one another that made Sylvia wish she’d said her full name to give it extra punch. “Your’s certainly is unique as well.”
“If you don’t mind, I think I might need to shorten yours like Deigen’s.” Sylvia gave an apologetic grimace. “I don’t think I’d be able to say it quite right if I tried the whole thing.”
Vandalarius chuckled and shrugged. “Call me ‘V’ then.”
“Do I get a new name two?” joked Bastiick, continuing to work on finishing his brown gruel.
“No.” Sylvia laughed. “Your’s I can handle, it’s just been a long time since I heard anyone called it. My great grandfather’s name actually was Bastiick.”
“Well, that hopefully concludes introductions,” said Deigen as he stole a piece of bread from Bastiick’s loaf and popped it into his mouth. “And now that we’re all acquainted and abbreviated, tell us more yourself, Sylvia. What brings a little one like yourself to this chancy corner of town tonight?”