Earth to Earth - Part 7
The Atlantic Ocean between Liverpool and Halifax: 1848
“It’s a clear case of assault, Captain…”
Captain Faversham stroked his thick black beard and frowned. “You have no proof of that at all, Reverend…”
Archibald Hinks banged the captain’s desk with his bony fist. “There were bite marks on the boy’s neck, I tell you!”
Faversham shook his head. “At best, Sir, the operative word is ‘were’… According to my Chief Medical Officer, there were no signs of any such marks today when he thoroughly examined your great-nephew for a second time…”
“They were definitely there immediately after the attack! I saw them myself! Two deep puncture holes right here on the boy’s neck!” The cleric prodded his own jugular vein by way of illustration.
“Doctor Brodie says he did not notice anything unusual last night either, apart from the obvious anaemia. Your relative is obviously a rather sickly young man who was unfortunate enough to faint, that is all…”
“Sickly? Harold has not had a day’s illness in his whole life!” Hinks shouted.
“I am very pleased to hear it. Nevertheless, under the circumstances, there are simply no grounds for me to launch an investigation…”
“So you mean to tell me that you are not even going to question the Landgraf?”
Captain Faversham snorted derisively. “You surely cannot be seriously suggesting that I should subject a first class passenger, a distinguished aristocrat, to an interrogation with absolutely no evidence? It’s not as if your young Harold has even made any kind of an accusation. When I spoke to him this morning he was adamant that he remembers nothing at all between setting out to have a stroll on the promenade deck and later regaining consciousness in his cabin…”
Reverend Hinks’ voice cracked with frustration. “Do you not understand? Harold’s memory has been erased. That is exactly what these filthy creatures do whenever they attack their victims! They always cover their beastly tracks. The German fellow is a vampire, I tell you!”
Captain Faversham rose to his feet. “While I respect your greater knowledge of spiritual and supernatural matters, Sir, I must remind you that I am a very busy man with a ship to command.” He walked across his day cabin to the door and pointedly opened it. “So, if you will please excuse me…”
Reverend Hinks muttered, but surrendered to the hopelessness of the situation and vacated his chair. As he stomped angrily past the Master of the SS Europa, he waggled a lean forefinger in his face. “If the Landgraf is not a vampire, then why does he hardly swallow a morsel of food at mealtimes? Surely you must have noticed that?” Receiving a blank look by way of reply, he chuckled contemptuously. “Furthermore, Captain, you might perhaps begin to wonder why the man has brought a coffin with him on this voyage. Rather an unusual item of personal luggage, do you not think?”
“Good day to you, Reverend Hinks…”
As soon as the disgruntled clergyman had scuttled away down the corridor, Captain Faversham closed the door of his cabin and took a deep breath. Really, that irascible old man was quite impossible…
Returning to his desk, he reached into one of the drawers and drew out the cargo manifest. Thumbing through its pages, he arrived at the entry which detailed those possessions of the Landgraf which were presently stowed in the hold. The nobleman had certainly brought a great deal of luggage with him on the voyage, for which he had paid a hefty surcharge to the Company… Lifting the speaking tube from its bracket on the wall next to him, the Captain blew into the brass mouthpiece…
“Bosun? Tell the Purser to come and see me in my cabin, will you? Yes… Right away, please… I want to ask him about a large crate we have listed as belonging to the Landgraf of Blutbad…”
“I don’t want any more chicken broth, Mama. Please stop fussing…”
Mrs Dalton pressed the palm of her hand against Harold’s forehead and gave him a wan smile. “You certainly don’t seem to have a fever, which is a mercy…” She pointed to the half-empty bowl on the night stand next to her son’s bunk. “Please just have a little more, for my sake… You must keep your strength up…”
Harold sighed, picked up the soup and resumed his meal.
“I’d consider him a much better boy if he could remember exactly what happened to him last night,” commented Reverend Jenks, continuing to pace up and down the cabin he shared with his great-nephew. “The way Captain Faversham just spoke to me was utterly humiliating. I’ve a good mind to lodge an official complaint with Cunard…”
“Please, Uncle Archie… Not again…” Hattie Dalton rose from her son’s bedside and pressed her hands against her throbbing temples. “All this shouting is bringing on one of my bad heads…”
“Surely, you must recall something?” Archibald asked, rounding on Harold.
Harold smiled and shook his head. “I told you, Great-Uncle… All I can remember is going out to smoke a cheroot. After that, everything’s a complete blank…” He finished his last spoonful and placed the empty bowl back on the nightstand. “Now, if you would both please excuse me, I think I should like to get dressed…”
“Are you sure you’re feeling well enough to get up?” Hattie asked. “The doctor said that you should rest for at least a few days…”
“I am perfectly well, thank you, Mama…” Harold threw back the quilt and sat up on the bunk in his nightshirt.
“Very well… But you must lie down again the moment you feel the slightest weakness…”
Hattie nodded. “Alright then…” She turned to the elderly clergyman who was still pacing furiously around the cabin. “Come, Uncle… If we hurry to the dining saloon we shall be just in time for a late lunch…”
As soon as he was alone, Harold slipped his right hand inside his long nightshirt and began fondling his stiffening manhood. Even the vaguest memory he had of those beautiful lips crushing against his own in a passionate kiss was stimulating enough to get his dick as hard as an iron bar… He smiled and began stroking his shaft in earnest. Whatever unpleasant things Great-Uncle Archie might have to say about the Landgraf, he didn’t care… He knew for certain that he was in love…
“Please excuse the dimness in here, Captain,” Klaus said, adjusting the dark glasses which shielded his eyes. “I suffer very badly from photophobia and find bright sunlight extremely painful. Can I offer you any refreshment?”
The Captain shook his head. “Thank you, but no. I never drink during the day, Excellency.”
Klaus nodded and waved a languid hand towards a chair near the chaise-longue on which he was reclining. “Then, perhaps, at least, you will please be good enough to sit down, Sir… Lying here looking up at you standing over me like this is giving me a serious crick in my neck…”
“Of course, Excellency; thank you….” Captain Faversham sat and fiddled nervously with the brass buttons on his uniform. This was all very awkward… He was glad that, with the curtains drawn over the portholes as they were, the cabin was so dark that the Landgraf would not see his blushes…
“You said that you wished to speak with me, Captain?”
Faversham cleared his throat. “I understand from Mr Hadley, the Purser, that one of the items you have stowed in our cargo hold is, in fact, a burial casket…” He drew out a slip of paper from his breast pocket and glanced at it. “To be precise, Sir, a polished wooden coffin, eight feet long, four feet wide and two feet high, constructed of stout oak with solid gold handles…”
Klaus nodded. “It is indeed a lovely thing…”
The Captain grunted. “Can I ask why you have brought such an unusual item on board my ship, Sir?”
“I could hardly leave it behind in my homeland, could I? It is an antique artefact and of considerable value.” Klaus pouted. “In my family, it is the custom for all children to be presented with their own coffin at the age of twenty-one. A kind of ‘momento-mori’, if you will… Naturally, given that I am planning to settle permanently in America, I will, at some future stage, require its use…”
“I hope that the sad day to which you refer will not occur for many years to come, Excellency…”
Klaus bestowed his most winning smile on the Captain. “Indeed… So do I…” He pulled himself upright and began to rise from his sofa. “So, if that will be all…”
“Not quite all, Sir…” Captain Faversham said. His tone was even graver than it had been before…
Klaus slumped back onto the cushions. He really wished people would not visit him when the sun was so high in the sky; he had so very little energy at this time of day… “Yes?” he asked, wearily.
“I’m sorry to say that this is an extremely delicate matter, Excellency…”
“What do you mean?”
The Captain squirmed in his seat, almost overcome by embarrassment. This was a much worse topic to discuss than the ridiculous allegations of that silly old fool Hinks… Such matters should never have to be talked about… “I believe that you have a young servant in your retinue by the name of Otto, Sir…”
Klaus swallowed hard. What on earth could the stupid boy have done now? “Yes…”
“This is a very difficult subject for me to talk about, Sir, but I’ve received several reports that he has been… Ahh… How can I put this? Soliciting the favours of some of the younger members of my crew…” The Captain’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Favours of a physical kind, Sir, if you understand me…”
Klaus looked down and began picking at the upholstery of his couch. He let out a deep sigh. “I see…” From behind the half open door of his night cabin, his sharp vampire ears could distinctly hear the sound of Igor sniggering… So… Otto had been caught fucking some cabin boy… He wanted to laugh himself… Summoning all the dramatic ability he could muster, he steeled himself to keep his tone suitably serious and contrite. “Please accept my very sincerest apologies for my servant’s wholly inappropriate behaviour, Captain. I will see to it that he behaves himself impeccably from now on…”
The Captain stood up and bowed politely, relieved to have successfully discharged such a distasteful task. Such things should never have to be mentioned, even between gentlemen… “Thank you, Sir…” He turned towards the door, but then hesitated and looked back towards the prostrate aristocrat. He needed to make sure that this really was the last time such occurrences took place on board his ship… “With respect, Your Excellency, I must warn you that further ‘fraternising’ between your servant and any of my crew members will result in him completing this voyage chained in the brig. I hope I make myself quite clear, Sir…”
Klaus nodded, unable to look up to meet the Captain’s eye. “Quite clear, thank you, Captain…”
“Very well, Excellency. I shall leave the matter in your hands, for now, at least. Good afternoon to you…”
Igor emerged from the shadows as soon as the Captain had gone. “I warned you about that boy, Master,” he said, rather smugly. “He simply can’t keep that cock of his inside his pants… He’s insatiable…”
Klaus sighed. “I know, Igor… I know…” Still feeling quite weak, he stood up shakily and patted his faithful slave on the head. “Irritating though you can be at times, I haven’t known you for these past three centuries without realising that you are generally correct about most things. Where exactly is Otto now?”
Igor shrugged. “Somewhere he shouldn’t be, I expect, Master.”
“Pour me a large glass of the ’36 Cognac and then go and find him. Bring him straight back here before he gets us all into any more serious trouble…”
Once he was alone, Klaus sipped his brandy. Igor truly was indispensable… He would never have been able to attempt this long journey without him… The faithful servant had been with him so long that it was difficult to remember what life had been like before his arrival at Castle Blutbad…
Castle Blutbad, Landgraviate of Blutbad, Holy Roman Empire, 1551
Klaus and Isolde were down in the ancient crypt beneath the castle chapel. It was the twelfth of June, the occasion of their eighteenth birthday and the seventh anniversary of their mother’s death.
Isolde placed the bunch of roses she had picked on top of the massive marble tomb and wiped a tear from her eye. “If only she could have lived to see us both so grown up,” she remarked, sadly. “Our birthdays have always been so bitter-sweet since the year she passed away…”
Klaus gave his twin sister an affectionate hug. “Even though Mother died on our eleventh birthday, she loved us both very much and would not wish us to be unhappy,” he said. He laid his own selection of flowers on the tomb and took Isolde’s hand. “Come… Father said he wanted to see us this morning about our surprise…”
They walked hand in hand together up the ancient stone steps, through the iron gates and into the castle church. After kneeling in a silent prayer of remembrance and thanksgiving for a few minutes, they crossed themselves and headed upstairs to present themselves to their father.
“Ah! The birthday pair!” The Landgraf announced as they entered the council chamber. He was seated at the head of the table in the middle of meeting his closest advisors. Rising from his seat, he warmly embraced his two children. “Tonight there is to be a special banquet in your honour with performers of various kinds and plenty of dancing.” He turned to Isolde. “There will be more gifts for you both later, but if you return to your room you will find something very beautiful to wear this evening…”
“Thank you Father!” Isolde exclaimed, hugging him and kissing his cheek.
“As for you, my son, perhaps you would like to join my Council now that you are a fully-grown man.”
Klaus bowed. “Thank you, Father, I would be honoured…”
Landgraf Georg smiled. “It is fitting that you should begin to learn how to administer our realm. One day, you will be the Landgraf yourself…”
Isolde’s face had assumed an unusually petulant expression. “May I not attend the meeting, Father?”
Although he patted her arm affectionately enough, Georg shook his head. “It is inappropriate for women to concern themselves with affairs of state, my dear. Off you go now and try on your new gown…”
Klaus watched his sister walk away with some sadness. It seemed unfair to him that Isolde could not remain in the council chamber. He knew that she was at least as clever as he, if not more so. Liberal in many ways, their father had seen to it that both his children received exactly the same high level of education as befitted young princes. They were fluent in seven languages and had been schooled in philosophy, religion and mathematics. Like Klaus, Isolde was an expert rider and, although he was the better at fencing, she was far more accurate in archery.
The Landgraf resumed his seat at the head of the table and motioned for Klaus to sit by his side. “Where were we, gentlemen?”
The elderly chancellor unfurled one of the many documents in front of him. “We were discussing this disturbing report from the Duchy of Savoy, Excellency…”
The Landgraf frowned. “Ah yes, the monastery murders… Terrible…”
“Monastery murders, Father?”
Georg nodded. “There has been foul play at a religious community in Italy. Apparently, the monastery is an isolated one, high up in the foothills of the Alps. Not having heard from the Abbot for some months, the local Bishop sent a group of priests to investigate the place. They found a number of monks dead, their bodies completely drained of blood. The Abbot and rest of the brothers are missing. His Holiness the Pope has launched an urgent investigation. According to the archives in Rome, this is similar to a case in the Duchy of Milan which occurred some fifty years ago…”
“Indeed, Excellency,” the Chancellor said. “It was during your father’s time and I remember the incident well. The circumstances were almost exactly the same; all the monks dead or missing and those bodies which were recovered had not a drop of blood left in their veins…”
“Tragic though this may be, how does it concern us, Father?”
The Landgraf shrugged. “Perhaps it does not, but, although it is in Savoy, outside our Empire, the monastery lies only fifty miles from our southern border… What happened there is the work of the Devil and we need to be on our guard…”
“Your noble father is wise, young Klaus,” the Chancellor agreed. “We must be forever vigilant against the forces of darkness…”
The Atlantic Ocean between Liverpool and Halifax: 1848
“You are therefore confined to this suite for the rest of the voyage… Do you hear me?”
Otto hung his head and did his best to look suitably contrite. “Yes, Master…”
Klaus continued pacing up and down his day room. It was now after sunset and he felt much more energetic than he had during the day. “I just cannot fathom how even you could have been so stupid as to have sex in such a public place…”
Otto shrugged. “The lad was on galley duty, Master. We had the hots for each other and thought that no one would come into the potato store…” He shrugged. “Then one of the stewards opened the door and saw us fucking…”
“You had sex in there? On top of all the potatoes?”
Klaus turned to Igor. “Remind me to forgo the pommes dauphinoise at dinner this evening…”
There came a knock at the door of their suite and Igor went to open it. “Yes?”
The handsome young man standing outside attempted to push past him. “I have to see the Landgraf – it’s extremely urgent!”
“His Excellency is not receiving visitors this evening…”
“Who is that, Igor?”
“Harold Dalton!” the young man shouted past Igor, almost deafening him.
“Let him in, Igor,” Klaus instructed.
“I just had to see you, Sir,” Harold said, as soon as he was admitted to the cabin. He appeared extremely agitated.
Klaus smiled. “Just calm yourself, young man and sit down, if you please. Perhaps you would like a drink? You look as it you could do with one…”
A few moments later, Harold was seated on the sofa opposite the Landgraf’s armchair with a glass of cognac in one hand and a lit cheroot in the other. “Thank you, Sir… I feel better now…”
Klaus nodded sympathetically. “Good… Now please tell me what has got you into such a state…”
“It’s my great-uncle, Sir. The Reverend Hinks…”
Klaus thought for a moment. “Ah yes, the elderly clerical gentleman…”
Harold nodded. “He went to see the Captain this morning and made a formal complaint against you, Sir.”
“Yes Sir. He told Captain Faversham that you’re a vampire, Sir…”
Klaus let out a polite chuckle at this, but his mind was racing. This explained why the good Captain had been enquiring about his coffin… “Did he now?”
“Yes Sir…” Harold swigged some brandy and pulled on his cigar. “He says he’s going to destroy you, Sir…”
Klaus shrugged and indicated Igor and Otto who were standing to attention behind him. “I think I have perfectly adequate protection against any foolish actions your great-uncle might take…”
Harold blushed. “Yes Sir, but I thought I’d better warn you, Sir…”
“You are a good boy,” Klaus said, leaning forward to give one of Harold’s knees an affectionate squeeze.
Harold gasped. The merest touch from this man set him on fire… “I wouldn’t want any harm to come to you, Sir…”
Klaus rose and joined Harold on the sofa. He put his arm around the young man’s muscular shoulders. “What a very caring person you are…” He moved his head closer to his visitor’s face. “I like you very much, Harold…”
“I like you very much too, Sir,” Harold said, seeing the Landgraf’s beautiful lips approaching his own. He closed his eyes in delighted anticipation of what was going to happen next…
Their kiss on the lips turned to full tongue exploration and, a moment or two later, Klaus and Harold were tearing at each other’s clothes; popping buttons and loosening ribbons. They rolled off the sofa onto the soft Persian carpet below, hugging, fondling and exploring all the while. Although they were still both half dressed, their genitals and buttocks were exposed. They each sported full erections. Within a few more moments, Klaus was leaning over the sofa with Harold mounting him lustily from behind.
Watching their frenzied intercourse begin, Otto nudged Igor with his elbow and whispered in his ear. “It’s gotta be a lot more comfortable in here than it was in the potato store…”
Igor sighed and shook his head. “You surely cannot compare our Master making beautifully sophisticated aristocratic love with your own bestial peasant rutting…”
Otto watched Harold thrusting in and out of their Master and shrugged. “I dunno… After all… A fuck’s just a fuck…”