“You made it back, Seth!” The vampire called out a cheery greeting despite standing before them with his arms crossed. “Though not entirely in one piece I see.”
Seth gave a shrug over his vacant arm. “Ran into to a little trouble along the way.”
“And a few friends.” Deigen’s eyes bounced from Seth to the two companions on either side. “Care to introduce?”
“Eh, can we go inside first?” The zombie shook his head in confusion. “You know me well enough, don’t you? I’d much rather introduce them to everyone at once instead of having to repeat myself. That and,” Seth took a step forward, almost whispering to him, “I really must speak with Gwendoloena as soon as possible.”
“I’m afraid Gwendoloena will be regrettably detained due to a small emergency.” Deigen sighed at his own vagueness. “Fine. Ian injured himself during fight practice, and as I understand it, she needed to step in to keep him from being eaten.”
“Eaten!” Nancy echoed in terror.
Simone snorted. “If you need a volunteer for the next round of practice, may I suggest the fat man who screams like girl over there. It’ll at least be entertaining.”
“My sincere hope, milady, is the next round not include such dire need to use one’s skills.” Deigen gave her a partial bow. “Since Seth is being so slow to share your name, allow me to begin.” He leaned back to his full height. “I’m Deigenhardus, but most simply resort to Deigen if you prefer less syllables to manage.”
“Oh, right.” Seth flopped his lone hand to the left. “This is Simone. She’s an inventor I came across halfway here.”
“Ah, an inventor!” Deigen smiled warmly. “Albert will look forward to meeting you then.” The smile drooped as he turned to Seth’s other new friend.
The moment Seth swung his hand over to introduce Nancy, he realized neither he nor the man who’s actual name still eluded him had given any thought to exactly what they would tell everyone. Since ‘this is the Keepers’ henchman who’s traveling with me to make sure I murder Sylvia’ seemed far from best choice of words, Seth let the hand drop. “Eh, Nancy. This is Nancy.”
“I see. Say there, Nancy,” Deigen darted his eyes back to Seth for a moment as if to make sure he’d heard the name right, “that looks like a nice cloak you have on there, very familiar style actually. You wouldn’t happen to know the Keepers would you?”
Seth gave himself another mental kick. No wonder they couldn’t just mosey into the castle – one of them wore their enemy’s favorite choice of garb.
“Keepers?” Nancy puttered a mouthful of air through his lips, making him sound like a disgruntled horse. “Who are they? Never heard of them.”
“Then,” Deigen gave the man’s ensemble another look over. “Your cloak?”
“Oh, oh, my cloak? You mean this cloak?” Nancy plucked at the thick blanket of brown enveloping him as if he just noticed it himself. “Why, yes, I bought, I found, I mean I, eh, I stole this cloak!”
Deigen rose a brow. “Stole? Are you sure that’s the one you want to stick with?”
“Well, I didn’t steal it from a living person, of course, that would be wrong. I took it from a zombie.” Nancy’s lie became an octave higher as Seth turned his head toward him. “That I fought and chopped the head off of.” The man released a loud gulp as Simone looked over Seth’s shoulder to stare at him as well. “In fact, I took down a whole gang of zombies!”
“A whole gang of zombies, really?” Simone placed a hand on her hip. “And did you have any help with that?”
“Mmmm, no.” Nancy looked as though he were seriously thinking the matter over. “I’m pretty sure I did it by myself.”
“Yes, I’m sure you did.” Deigen’s brow rose higher at the man who looked far more likely to be a meal than a menace. He shrugged the matter off, seeming at least reassured that allowing Nancy in the castle would pose anything but a threat. “Anyhow, before we go in, I need to ask you all to hand over whatever weapons you may have. Seth, I know you have none.” He held a hand out to Simone. “Milady?”
“Fine, but I want this back.” Simone held her pellet shooting machine out to him. “Grab it by the handle but keep your fingers off the trigger and don’t point the barrel toward you or anyone else.”
Deigen stared at the foreign object now resting in his hand. “Um, okay. Not sure what you just gave me but I’ll do the best I can to follow those instructions.” The vampire held his other hand out toward Nancy. “And since you bravely took down a pack of zombies, I’m sure you have something to declare?”
“Yep, yep, just a second here.” Nancy reached into the inner folds of his cloak and thrust something into the hand before him. “There you go.”
“Eh,” Deigen recoiled at the object he now held at arm’s length, “this is a severed arm you just gave me.”
“That’s my severed arm!” Seth whirled around to Nancy. “You kept my arm after you ripped it off?”
“It’s the only weapon I had!” The henchman gave a sad pout of defense. “How was I supposed to know if we’d run into more trouble?”
“You know what?” Deigen held the arm out to Seth. “I’m going to give this, eh, weapon, to it’s rightful owner.”
“Thanks.” Seth accepted his former arm with his only remaining one and quickly turned to whop Nancy upside the head with it. The henchman tried to duck away but got smacked with the weapon’s elbow.
“Gaaahhhhaaaa!” Nancy swung his arms in defense but also closed his eyes so the only thing he managed to hit back was the air around his attacker.
“You’re right, Nancy, this is a good weapon!” Seth smacked him again but immediately regretted hitting the cloaked nuisance at all when he discovered he now held Deigen’s undivided attention.
“Interesting, Seth,” mused the vampire. “Your friend there doesn’t look like any sort of fish I’ve ever seen. Doesn’t that spell of Sylvia’s cause extreme pain if you harm creatures that walk on land?”
Seth gave a guilty look from the severed arm to Nancy and finally back to Deigen. “It, em, wore off.”
“So it would seem.” Deigen nodded slowly. “Well, I have no way of confiscating your primary weapon being that it’s your mouth but perhaps I’d better take that other back as well.” After reclaiming Seth’s arm, neither monster looking particularly happy about the exchange, Deigen nodded to one of the guards to open the gate. “I believe you’re right, Seth. You and Gwendoloena evidently have a great deal to talk about.”