Chapter Four

The caverns in beneath Frostmarris's citadel had a strange power. They could suck any sound out of the air in an instant, whether it was a screech from an undead warrior or a howl from a Wolf-folk patrolman. There was just something in the stone that had a tendency to suck all life out of the atmosphere, making everything resound in a constant, disturbing silence. Said atmosphere contributed greatly to Her Vampiric Majesty's sour mood as she brooded in the depths of her chambers. She stared ahead, unwavering in her attempt to burn a hole through solid granite with nothing but a raging glare. It wasn't working, but damn if that look didn't have all the power cow even King Grishmak

Pure, unadulterated fury simply roared through the queen's very core. She couldn't explain why she was so angry - which only served to make her all the more livid - but the king's actions had set off a tempest inside her brain. Sitting and mulling the cause of her anger over, the queen began to realize something. . . . and that something made the rage grow.

She wasn't upset about Kingy going off to fight alone. She wasn't upset that he hadn't woken her up. The rage wasn't directed towards her husband; it was directed towards herself. The Vampire Queen, aloof and elegant and precise in everything she ever did, felt weak. Not being able to withstand Bellorum's constant attacks, the fatigue of non-stop fighting, and emotional tension had made her fall. She was no longer indestructible; the uncompromisable queen was now weak and soft and vulnerable. It was enough to make her want to vomit, or scream until her lungs collapsed, or even both.

Her Vampiric Majesty huffed irritably. Damn emotions. Damn them! Why did the Goddess even feel the need to create something that was so horribly confusing and irritating? Even after almost 1,500 years of existence, she still couldn't grasp the concept of them! A small sound behind her alerted the queen to the presence of someone. She glanced over her shoulder and snapped, "What do you want?"

The Vampire King gulped; he could face thousands of Polypontian men led by a psychotic general with no problems, but when it came to facing his severely angry wife, he was about as brave as an abused dog. He took a deep breath and strode forward, placing his arms around Her Vampiric Majesty from behind. Her shoulders stiffened considerably and she tried to wriggle out of his grasp. The king placed a kiss on her temple, whispering, "Darling, I'm sorry if I upset you earlier."

The queen succeeded in getting away from her consort's hug, whipping around to hiss at him so ferociously it made Tharaman-Thar seem tame in comparison. "Upset me? Dearest heart, in case you've failed to notice, I passed the region of upset long ago!"

His Vampiric Majesty gulped again. Though he loathed to admit it, she was right; she was indeed long past the point of being merely upset. And now that he thought about it a little bit more thoroughly, he could see that she had every right to be so utterly furious with him. He shouldn't have left her alone in the caves. He should've had the decency to wake his queen up when the air-raid warning had sounded. Looking past the rage, now that familiar terror could be seen swimming in her beautiful eyes.

"My dearest, I know that, but you've got to understand my point of view. You were so tired, and I'm healed; I was thinking that -"

"That I was weakened?" she snarled, voice dangerously low. "That I couldn't handle it anymore? Believe me, I know how tired I was. I could've handled myself just fine."

Now it was time for even His Vampiric Majesty's slow-burning temper to ignite. His eyes darkened and he advanced on the queen, gripping her arms tightly as he pulled himself flush against her body. Their Vampiric Majesties were mere millimeters apart from one another, eyes darkened to pitch by fury.

"Don't you ever think that I would consider you weak! The sky would crumble before such a thought would cross my mind. Do you really wish to know why I didn't wake you up? It was because you were destroying yourself one moment at a time right in front of my eyes; and I am not about to let you destroy yourself because you're scared to you'll lose me!"

The ear-shattering silence pressed in from all sides once more, and as his anger receded, the Vampire King realized that tears were streaming down his wife's high-cheekbones. She stared at him with wide eyes, shaking slightly in anger and fear. Immediately, he let go of her arms and stepped back, eyes widening when he saw bruises beginning to form on the pale skin he'd been gripping earlier. The king gulped loudly and clenched his fists at his sides. "Darling. . . . I'm so - "

"Don't you dare say you're sorry." the queen whispered, dashing away tears with a delicate hand. "You were right; I am scared. I wanted to do everything by myself because I wasn't strong enough to let you fight again."

His Vampiric Majesty frowned angrily. "Was that what this all was? Some kind of twisted emotional workout for you?"

Burning pain erupted in his cheek, followed quickly by a resounding "slap!" that echoed throughout the labyrinth of the cavern system. The Vampire King clutched his cheek in astonishment; he hadn't even seen her move. She now stood directly before him, tears flowing angrily once more and clenched fists trembling at her sides. The Vampire Queen placed her hands on either side of the king's face and shook him harshly, shouting, "I CAN'T LOSE YOU AGAIN!"

A stifled sob erupted from Her Vampiric Majesty's throat as she continued softly, "Not again. . . I - I'm not strong enough."

The king placed his hands over the queen's, pulling her closer and giving her a gentle kiss. "If we fight together, you won't have to be."

Bright baby-blue gemstones - ones he'd never get tired of seeing, even after a thousand years - glittered with just the barest hint of a smile, and she leaned into his chest. His Vampiric Majesty wrapped his arms around his consort, placing his chin atop her delicate midnight curls. He chuckled lowly. "You know, our existences would be much more interesting if we'd fight like this more often. I quite enjoy the make-up hugs. . . even if they're not quite like make-up sex."

The queen raised her head quickly to stare at him with a rather odd expression on her pale face. It was a mixture of shock, horror, and amusement, and despite all the tension they'd been feeling moments before, a rather disturbed grin was spreading across her face. "I cannot believe you just said that."

Now it was the king's turn to grin. "What can I say? I've been around Grishmak far too long. It's beginning to disturb my thought processes."

She just giggled in amusement. "Yes, I believe you have been around that psychotic werewolf for too long. Please, for the love of whatever deity there may be, do not say something like that ever again."

Their Vampiric Majesties stood there and laughed quietly for a while, somehow ending up in another bone-crushing hug. For a while they simply stood there, not wanting to disturb the perfect silence that was permeating the air around them. Not surprisingly it was the king who broke it first. "Darling, Thirrin wanted me to tell you that we're supposed to be joining all the allies in the Great Hall later for a feast. All I caught was something about celebrating the defeat of the Sky-Navy."

Her Vampiric Majesty huffed irritably. "I'm beginnning to think that you'd rather spend time with Thirrin than you would with me."

"Well, Tharaman and Grishmak did challenge me to a drinking contest. . . and I was rather hoping you would say yes."

"They do realize that Vampires are unable to get drunk right?"

"I might've forgotten to mention that little detail. But don't worry; by the time they both realize it, they'll be so drunk they won't be able to see an inch in front of their faces."

The queen slapped her consort playfully on the chest, but proceeded to pull him in the direction of the cavern's exit. "You're an awful, manipulative, cruel individual, my dearest heart." A grin quickly spread across her lips, and she pulled him in for a quick kiss. "But you're my awful, manipulative, cruel individual and I love every searingly long minute of it."

"You are a shameless flirt when you're feeling guilty, aren't you?"

"What is this 'guilt' you speak of? I don't believe that word is in my vocabulary."

They stepped into the dimly-lit courtyard. Dusk was falling over the city, illuminating all the bustling activity of not only chamberlains and chambermaids, but soldiers of every species in the alliance. Wolf-folk warriors and Snow Leopards were working to pull huge carts filled to the brim with food and alcohol. Even a few of their own Vampires were assisting the humans with moving long tables and benches into the wide space before them. The Vampire King took his queen's hand, and they strode arm-in-arm into the citadel.

"Don't play coy with me, darling. I've been your consort far too long to not know when you're feeling guilty about something. Now: please try to keep yourself from injuring Grishmak too badly. That werewolf has already taken too many head-injuries to be completely stable."

The queen cocked an eyebrow as they entered the smoke-and-soldier-filled space known as the Great Hall. "I wouldn't have had to have injured him nearly so badly last time if he wasn't such an insensitive - " She stopped to stare at her consort for a long moment.

His Vampiric Majesty frowned slightly. "What is it, my beloved?"

"Your hair is a mess. Turn around.

The king groaned slightly, but, catching the firey look in the queen's eyes, he did as he was told. Long, lithe fingers gently wove themselves into the silky strands that were matted on the back of his head, pulling them apart and arranging them until their owner found herself satisfied. Eventually, Their Vampiric Majesties found themselves sitting at the Royal Table with the other Allied rulers.

And, surprisingly, Her Vampiric Majesty couldn't remember a time she'd ever been happier.