Ian raised one of the practice weapons he and Trevor had been provided with. “Does evil attack with wooden swords and bags of sand?”
V remained still aside from his eyes darting to one of the sand-filled burlap sacks hanging on a pole nearby. The eyes jumped back to Ian. “Very rarely.”
“Then why are you teaching us how to fight with them?” Ian lowered his fake sword and nodded at the very real one resting against a wooden crate where Albert sat. “If we’re really sure the Keepers are going to attack us, I want to know how to defend my life with that.”
“We’ll work up to the real sword,” promised V.
“Vendo Lary?” The voice butchering his full name came out as an almost childish whine.
“It’s Vandalarius and please, please just call me V, Trevor. What is it?”
“Did the queen really turn Sylvia into a vampire?”
“Yes, she had to.” V glanced at the back of Albert’s head while continuing his explanation. The zombie had not been particularly thrilled earlier upon learning his niece now bore fangs. “She was dying and there was no other way to save her if the illness progressed.”
Trevor pouted further. “But do you think she’ll still love me even though she’s no longer a normal human?”
Albert half turned on his crate to share a look with V, both wondering if they should try once again to make the heart stricken man understand Sylvia didn’t particularly care for him. “Trevor,” Albert turned back to face him, “I believe I can honestly say that my niece’s recent transformation will have no effect whatsoever on her feelings for you.”
Trevor breathed out a sigh of relief while Ian rolled his eyes. “Speaking of turning into monsters,” Ian waved a hand at the burlap sacks, “how is learning to attack an immobile object going to help us against the Keepers? They could throw anything at us!”
“True,” admitted V. “But right now, neither of you know how to fight at all. Even a little knowledge could protect you long enough for one of us to come help if a battle ensues.”
“But I’m not going to stand a chance if I’m up against a vampire like you. A zombie, sure, I don’t even need to waste practice swings for that, but if I—
“Oh, you don’t need to practice fighting against zombies, do you?” jeered Albert. “And tell me, how many have you fought in your life so far?”
“Well,” Ian looked back and forth between V and Trevor as if he expected them to back him up, “none yet, but—
“Fine then, here we go.” Albert hopped off the crate (as much as zombies are capable of hopping off anything) and hobbled toward him. “I’m a hungry monster and you have a sword. Defend yourself, young man!”
“Albert,” V flung his arms up, “just start with the burlap sacks! I don’t want anyone to actually get hurt.”
Albert halted in his beeline to point at the pretend victim. “It’s a wooden sword, V, with a cloth tied around the top. I seriously doubt he’ll do any real damage to me. And I’m not really going to try eating him.” The zombie paused again, considering. “Most likely won’t. At any rate,” he marched onward again, “I’m certainly no burlap sack!”
Ian tapped the monster’s right shoulder as soon as he got in reaching distance. “Ha, I just cut off your arm!”
“What do I care?” Albert put the out of play arm behind his back while stretching the other out toward him. “I’m left handed.”
“Eh, I cut of your left arm then!” Ian skipped back a step after tapping his left shoulder.
“So?” Albert put the other arm behind his back. “I’m a zombie and I feel no pain. Losing both arms and hands doesn’t bother me. If you get attacked by zombies, they aren’t going to try to tickle you, Ian, they’re going to try to eat you. Why aren’t you aiming for my head, the only dangerous thing in front of you?”
Ian skipped back another three steps, “I don’t want to risk getting bitten!”
“Aim for my head already, you girly coward!” yelled the zombie, charging after him.
“Graaghh!” Ian swung the sword wildly in the air, none of his frantic attempts coming anywhere close to hitting Albert. His next skip also turned out to be one too many as he tripped over backwards and landed on his back. The sword fell out of his hand during the fall and ended up resting under the boot of his would-be assailant.
Albert reached down and tapped Ian on the shoulder as if they were playing tag. “And I fall on you, I bite you, I eat you, you’re dead.” The zombie stood back to his full height. “And depending on how much of you is left, you probably become a zombie. Welcome to the family.”
V waited until Albert hobbled back to his crate and a sheepish Ian retrieved his sword before speaking. “Can we, please start with the burlap sacks now?”