Once Upon a Time – Chap. 49.6

Seth_with_Cheetos“Eventually, Raynerus lost the family farm and found himself without even a roof to cover his head.” Gwendolena spoke matter-of-factly in between sips of tea. “It wasn’t just the issue of him turning into a giant rabbit every full moon but more due to those same Keepers who took me from the family. When he wasn’t able to keep up the farm, they decided to forgo the usual custom of turning him into crops. Instead those scoundrels seized him just before sunset, tied him to a chair, and set the whole house on fire. Fortunately for Raynerus, that particular night happened to behold a full moon and his transformation into a giant beast occurred before the flames could engulf him. He escaped with only two things before our childhood home became ashes: father’s sword and,” she paused while reaching across the table for her teapot and lifting it up, “this one small treasure from mother.”

Algar held his giant ogre palm out with an empty cup in the middle toward her. “But if you were an apprentice of the Keepers by that point and your brother was a homeless farm boy, how did the teapot come into your possession?”

“We were reunited eventually.” Gwendolena winked at Serena and Kirkaronus after giving the ogre a refill. “Again, thanks to the Keepers actually. Years passed and as I became a more powerful magician under their guidance, Raynerus began to lead quite a rebellion. He helped villages reclaim control of their lands and managed to even takeover one of the Keepers’ own castles from them.” She raised her hands and made an arc of the room with her eyes. “This castle that we sit in now. You see, I was not the only one who had a secret aptitude for magic but he did as well. And even though he lacked formal instruction, he still easily defeated the Keepers who used to live here and forced them out.” The vampire let the hands down slowly. “After that disgrace, my superiors felt it was high time to crush my brother’s rebellion once and for all. And since I was the only one among the Keepers who truly seemed capable of matching him, our reunion was inevitable.”

* * *
As Gwendolena continued sharing her story over scones and tea, V delivered a similar account over the stranger refreshment offerings that Aaron provided. “Our castle was the only real stronghold against the Keepers by the time Gwendolena approached the gates and demanded surrender.” It was difficult to tell if the frown V made were due to this particular part of the tale or the glass of bubbling and unnaturally green beverage he now held in his hand. “But instead, Raynerus invited her in for tea. Before even finishing the first cup, sister and brother became family again instead of enemies and Gwendolena switched sides.”

“Um, that’s great.” Aaron munched on one of the orange, cheese-flavored cylinders about the size of a person’s thumb that he’d offered his guests earlier. “But how did he end up here?”

V took the bag of orange cylinders and sniffed it before cautiously taking one of them out. “We didn’t actually realize he had until the Keepers starting attacking us in this new battle. The medallion that the Keepers used back in those days to rule over everyone was still whole and we all knew that Raynerus had been working on a counter effect of sorts.” The vampire bit into the cylinder and munched with a face that showed it wasn’t quite certain how it felt about this new cuisine. “After Gwendolena joined our side, the Keepers put a curse on everyone in the castle before we were able to break the medallion into the stone puzzle that it is now. And Raynerus was the one to shatter it, just before he disappeared.”

“We all assumed he’d died,” added Deigen, munching much more happily on the orange cylinders than his companion vampire. “I mean, you had to see the explosion that came from that medallion when he broke it, it really didn’t look like anyone could have survived. But rather than being blasted into nothing, Gwendolena now believes he somehow transported himself here. You see, she’d seen him working on his counter effect just before that battle started and it involved several colored spheres corresponding to certain words written in stone. This is the same thing we saw occurring with the medallion this time around when it became whole again. And since Ian had one of the stone fragments, not to mention that other one our friend Sylvia’s family came in possession of, then he must have ended up here.”

“I’m not sure that I follow your logic really but let’s just say this Raynerus guy really did end up here.” Aaron leaned forward in his chair. “Didn’t you say that first war or whatever took place centuries ago? So how would he still be alive, I mean, even if he did turn into a wererabbit every now and then?”

“Ah, you forget.” V raised a finger, the bottom of which now beheld a fine layer cheese powder. “The Keepers placed the vampire curse on our castle before Raynerus broke the medallion so he himself became under that curse before coming here.”

Aaron catapulted back into his chair. “So this person your looking for is a vampire who turns into a giant rabbit every full moon? We’re looking for a rabbit that, that,” he gulped, “drinks blood?”

“Probably just carrot juice,” said Seth. The zombie shrugged as everyone turned to him. “What? If he’s a rabbit, he wouldn’t be trying to eat or drink anything from a human or animal. When’s the last time you saw a rabbit chasing after a cow for its lunch?”

Aaron scooted his chair a few inches from the zombie. “You, um, haven’t drank any of the soda or snacks yet. What do you eat?”

“Well, I wasn’t a rabbit before I became a monster and I happen to be of the zombie variety so,” Seth shrugged, “not carrots.” He raised his brow at the two vampires. “How can the two of you enjoy that stuff? No liquid should have bubbles popping up like that unless it’s boiling and nothing should be that green.”

“We have our flasks so we’re fine.” Deigen held one of the cheese-flavored cylinders out to him. “And if you give some these things a try, I bet you’ll love them.”

Seth took the snack from him but held it out at arm’s length. “And nothing that is supposedly made of cheese should leave powder on your fingers or be this brightly orange.” He gingerly set the cylinder on the table next to his untouched glass of soda. “I’ll gladly stick to eating brains thanks very much.”


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