Maladicta materialized again in the top room of a tower. She tried the lock in the door, then the locks in the shutters that covered the windows. All of them held fast and there was no crack whatsoever, no slightest slit where air – or a vampire turned into mist – could pass through. And it was the same everywhere. The entire castle was airtight.

And what was worse, her clothes did not follow her when she changed shape. So she was now naked, and it was only a matter of time until someone would catch her.

Maladicta considered her options. She turned into mist again. Then she went to the laundry room of the castle. There, she resumed her own shape. She pulled on the clothes of a maidservant, covering her pointed ears with a scarf. She walked upstairs and stole a pair of shoes someone had left outside their bedroom door for the servants to clean and polish.

Thus dressed, Maladicta walked to where two vampire soldiers stood guard inside the door of the main hall. "Hello, handsome boys", her voice purred, as she walked towards them, hips swinging. Maladicta didn't have much in the way of hips, but what she had she could swing like a champion.

She stood very close to the younger soldier. "My, my, what a big sword you have."

The boy stared at her. "Listen, lass, we're not allowed to socialize while on guard."

The older vampire kicked him. "Don't talk to her. Can't you smell it? She is one of us."

Maladicta swore under her breath. They seemed more intelligent than could be expected of men so low in the pecking order. "That's right, darlings… I bite back." She allowed the dress to slide off her shoulder, as she grinned at them.

A voice spoke, echoing across the hallway.

"Getting desperate, are we? Come here, Griminirzi." Lady Margolotta stood there, dressed in a few bits of black leather that covered only the most intimate details of her anatomy. There were a lot of buckles, some spikes, long straps, and a whip in her hand.

Maladicta swore, louder this time. She backed away from Margolotta, pretending to be frightened, then grabbed the sword from the young soldier, and attacked Margolotta head-on.

Margolotta swung the whip. It caught around Maladicta's arm, stopping her movement.

"And now that I have your full attention… I advise you to surrender. It will go the worse for you if you fight me." Margolotta told her.

Maladicta kicked her.

Margolotta's hand caught Maladicta's foot.

She was left holding an empty boot. Maladicta's knife cut through the whip, releasing her arm.

Margolotta snarled. She lunged to attack.

Maladicta raised the sword in defense.

At this point, the older of the two soldiers knocked her unconscious with a large decorative vase.

When Maladicta woke, she was in a cell. There was a bump on her head, and she was wearing the clothes she had worn while entering the castle. She searched through her pockets, but couldn't find any of her concealed weapons and tools.

The door to the cell opened, and a body was thrown in. The door closed again.

The body on the floor stood up a bit shakily. "Please sir… good sir…" It was a girl, a frightened human girl, maybe fifteen years of age. She was wearing a nightgown that left little to the imagination.

"Calm down, child. I don't intend you any harm." Maladicta assured her.

The girl stared at her, and then sat in the pile of straw on the opposite side of the cell.

"I'm not a child." She pouted.

"Sorry. My name is Maladict." Maladicta decided that since she was dressed as a man, she would act as one.

The girl smiled shyly. "I'm Charlotte. I'm seventeen next month. Are you really a vampire?"

Maladicta nodded. "Yes. But I've given up blood."

Charlotte frowned. "Really?"

Maladicta smiled. "Yes. I'm addicted to tobacco instead."

Charlotte's frown deepened. "Did they give you any tobacco?"

Maladicta stared at her. "No… no they didn't… the bastards." She hit the wall with her fist, causing some damage to her fist and none whatsoever to the wall.

Charlotte began playing with the straw. After a while Maladicta realized she was weaving them together to make a flat surface. She stood up. "No need for that. You can have the bed."

Charlotte walked to the bed, keeping a good distance between herself and Maladicta. She lay down and covered herself with the filthy blanket. "Mr Maladict… tell me a story." She said in a childlike voice.

Maladict leaned against the wall. She began telling the girl the story of Queen Grimnir of Lancre. It was perhaps not the most comforting bedtime story, considering how much violence said queen had committed, but Charlotte didn't complain. The story took her thoughts away from her current trouble, that was the main thing.