As Sky and Brother Nimbus headed back towards the Church compound she began seeing more and more pairs of black frocked brothers. Most seemed to be carrying crossbows with them. Sky grinned at the preparedness and gabbed at Nimbus about how important she believed that was. She then stopped herself, remembering where she was, “Brother, why does the Church feel the need to be so armed?”
The Brother frowned as he led her through the crowd, considering his words before stopping on top of a canal bridge so suddenly that she nearly ran into him, “I may have not been as forthcoming about the vampire population as I should have been.” He turned around to face her, “The vampires have indeed been a part of Ravila for as long as anyone can remember. We had reached a state of detenté in this generation, as they have had difficulty taking care their own numbers.”
Sky stood agape, “And by ‘take care of’ you mean…”
“As you hunt, so shall you be hunted.”
“The youth these days have no discipline. They have no respect for their elders, or the long reaching consequences of their actions. It is simply the mathematics of exponential growth. If nothing is done about it, our culture will collapse into chaos.”
“You said had reached a state of detenté…”
Paul nodded grimly. “Recently there have been attacks within our quarter. A vampire attacked and killed Father Logos. The other Fathers do not believe this was the work of some out of control rogue vampire. They feel It was a clear, preemptive first strike on the Church itself. But without proof, we cannot levy charges against the vampires. And now we find ourselves in a hostile standoff with them. “
“I feel sorry for the poor bastards,” continued Paul, lost in his own thoughts. “Imagine, being trapped forever at one singular tangent of life.”
The brother quieted as a nearby clocktower sounded off seven bells, “It is getting late and we should return to the safety of the square.”
They darted through the square filled with revelers and eventually made their way back to the Church compound. Upon entering, they saw that Scottie was sitting in the study with a small group of novices gathered around him, his hands moving about as he excitedly finished his story, “…and that is how New Babbage has a reputation of having the most murderous trams known to mankind.” The young students stared at him in awe.
“Don’t scare them too much, love,” Sky chided playfully before kissing Scottie on the cheek. “Are ya ready to go see the party?”
Scottie grinned and pointed to the packed bags beside him, “Yup! But first we’d better take these to wherever you’ve found for us to stay.”
The couple thanked their hosts and made their goodbyes, even giving a sizable donation to the Church in return for all of the kindness they had been shown. The Melniks disappeared into the crowd towards the inn, leaving Nimbus and Miguel at the gates of the compound, Miguel rolling his head back and forth in agitation.
“Albert, what is troubling you?” prompted Brother Nimbus.
“Bad,” mumbled Brother Miguel, staring wretchedly at the ground. “Smell bad.”
Once the Melniks dropped off their bags at their comfortably shady inn they went from booth to booth enjoying what the festival had to offer. Sky took Scottie to the same puppet show she saw earlier with Nimbus and laughed even harder. They ended up back in the square dancing under the lanterns. The music took a traditional Ravilan turn and the Melniks struggled to learn the Ravilan Tango. All four feet were well bruised before they resigned to their normal dancing.
Sky shared with Scottie all that Brother Nimbus had told her. Lost in their own world, they later realized that the crowd around them had long disbursed. The only people that remained were desperate looking men and women milling around the taverns, and giddy, well-heeled slummers daring each other to venture an evening’s entertainment in the Blood Quarter.