“Mistress of the Night,” by hanna.digiart (@HDigiart)
It was a nice and cool late morning. The wooden plank’s tip plonked onto the edge of the dock, and the ship’s passengers began to disembark. There were friends and family members waiting for some of the crew and travellers, and the wharf was lively with happy reunions as Arendellians welcomed loved ones and compatriots back from London. One of these passengers wasn’t like the others, for she felt almost peculiar about the fact that she could walk around in the bright Arendellian sun without being burned. Her blood-red eyes blinked slowly up at the white clouds and azure sky, and her fanged mouth breathed in the fresh fjord air.
The young woman behind her took her hand as they walked onto the dockside together. “Look,” said Tess Gaunt, pointing and smiling at a well-dressed, middle-aged man waving his hand. “I think he’s the one picking us up.” The locals recognized him as “Uncle” Michael, a member of the royal family and the kingdom’s trade minister.
Vi gave a smile. “Oh, I know him well.” She walked over to Michael, and he to her. “You’ve heard the rumours, right?” she called, as they neared each other. “Well, they’re not wrong.”
Her voice was tired as she made to open her mouth wider. “Shall I show you?”
But Michael didn’t reply. As their gazes met, he found himself more interested in her eyes. Something in them had changed. Even though he knew that behind her soft lips were razor-sharp fangs, her irises, now glowing with a perpetual vampiric aura, actually seemed kinder. More vulnerable. More uncertain.
“You don’t need to show me anything,” declared the minister, drawing Vi into a warm hug. “I’m just glad you’re back, so we can take our time with adjusting to your new normal. I’m not afraid, nor is anyone else you love.”
Before she became Arendelle’s first Nosferatu, its bloodsucking matriarch of the night, she would have made a sarcastic comment and kept the hugging to a minimum. But now, she closed her eyes, slowly returning Michael’s embrace with her own slender arms moving behind him. She breathed in deeply, ignoring the loud pounding in her ears of the carotid arteries pumping blood through Michael’s neck. It was deafening, like with Tess and everyone else she was physically close to. For his sake and everyone she cared about, she would have to make resisting the temptation to bite an everyday fact of life.
“I’m glad to be back, Mike,” she said, her voice betraying her own bewilderment and self-introspection at her new state. The exhilaration of killing Thomas Hunt and his cultists was gone after a week’s worth of sailing. “And thank you – I do need some time to adjust to things here. I’m not the same noblewoman you knew just a few months ago, after all.”
As they released each other, she gestured for her green-eyed, blonde companion to join them. “This is Tess Gaunt,” she said, as Tess smiled shyly at Michael. She was garbed in a new, lime green Arendellian dress. “She’ll be with me. She’s had it rough, but her new life begins here, in Arendelle. I promised her.”
“Hi, Minister,” said Tess. “Your kingdom is incredibly beautiful. I’m so glad to be here, never to have to return to my old haunt of the East End again.”
“Please, Mike will do,” said Michael, reaching out and shaking her hand. “It must have been quite something, staying with Vi while she went about her scary mission in London, right? Anyway, you’ll find nothing but warm welcomes here. If you’re not tired, Vi, I insist that we find the others right now. They’re so eager to see you.”
Vi and Tess first had a long conversation with Sir Alan, Anna’s knightly warrior. He also was shocked to see the dramatic transformation of Vi’s personality – yes, she was still sardonic and wry, but it had been softened considerably by her own vulnerability about her new vampirism. She was technically stronger than ever, but her eternal thirst was now a constant irritation that she needed to suppress. In the drawing room of Arendelle Castle, Alan brought Vi up to speed about everything in Arendelle: looming war with Russia, business intrigue between Kristoff and the Stroganov dynasty, and Sora’s visit to the kingdom. “Let me get this straight – one of Katina’s Grand Dukes came to Arendelle?” asked Vi, as she lounged on a couch, crossing her legs while Tess snuggled beside her.
“Yeah,” said Alan grimly. “Michael and I desperately tried to get her to convince Katina to back off. To Sora’s credit, she tried. But I think the Romanov family want their war, no matter what happens.”
“It seems that I’ve come just in time for Arendelle’s first war in many generations,” sniffed Vi. “Fitting that we face one of the Exalted’s members. When we’ve dealt with Katina, I’m going to have words with Peony and Yixin.”
“You sound plenty confident,” said Alan. “I just hope it’s not misplaced. The Grand Dukes are extremely dangerous.” He’d discussed at length with Vi the strategies the Russian generals would adopt to crush Arendelle. “They’re crazy strong, and have much larger armies than us.”
“But we have Muspelheim, which Anna recommissioned, and we have Hilde. Maren and Mattias. And above all, Anna and Elsa.” Vi was interrupted by a soft knocking on the door. Smiling, Alan stood up and stepped aside as the queen walked into the room. She was dressed in her everyday wear, her dark jacket, wheat stalk-emblazoned shirt, and long green dress and high boots. Vi stood up, and Tess followed, quickly giving a curtsy.
“Hello, Your Majesty,” said Tess breathlessly.
“Hello, Miss Gaunt. Welcome to Arendelle.” Anna nodded at Tess, smiling, before meeting Vi’s crimson stare. “Prime minister,” said Anna, trying to stop a flood of emotions from pouring out as she finally, at last, laid eyes on Vi for the first time in months. It almost (just almost) felt like that time when Elsa leaped down from the Nokk and presented her new self to Anna after saving Arendelle from the dam flood.
“Vi. You’re back. You’re finally back.”
She pretty much charged at the vampire, who opened her arms to receive her queen. Anna stayed for several extended seconds in her embrace, the two breathing in each other’s scent after so long. Eventually, Anna pulled back tearfully and put a delighted hand on Vi’s face. “You look so well. Are the rumours true? That you’d… changed?” she said in slight disbelief, as she stroked Vi’s cheek tenderly.
Vi smiled, and for the first time, she bared her fangs. Anna gave a quiet squeak and stumbled back. “At a price,” said the Draculina quietly. “Anna. I’m afraid you won’t be able to keep your end of our bargain when we first agreed to put our differences aside in my castle.” Vi smiled sadly. “It’s not your fault. I’m in Mephistopheles’ thrall forever. I won’t seek to escape him, either. Not even with you and Elsa.”
“No,” cried Anna in shock, “this can’t be. I made a promise to you, to your whole bloodline.”
“The Mundilfari family exists no more. I killed my clan’s legacy by surrendering to Mephisto,” insisted Vi, drawing closer to Anna and taking her hands in hers. Anna couldn’t stop staring at her. “My only progeny will be vampires – masters of the night and slaves to the thirst for blood.” Vi lowered her face, hanging her head. “It all sounds a bit overwhelming, I know. I’m still coming to terms with it.”
“But you’ll still be here, won’t you? I mean, are you sure that Elsa and I can’t help you anymore?”
Vi smiled at Anna. “It’s not that you can’t help me, but that I’ve promised Mephistopheles not to seek your help anymore.”
“That’s too cruel,” cried Anna furiously. “Tess, have you tried talking her out of this?”
Tess shook her head sadly. “She says it’s too late. That horrible demon has already sealed the pact with her. She gave up her humanity to save my life. I owe her everything. I’m so sorry, Your Majesty. It’s kind of my fault – “
“None of that, Tess. It was absolutely not your fault, no more than it was your fault I went to London in the first place,” said Vi loudly. “Anna, this is new to me too, and it’s not like I don’t have time to figure my place here. I’ll continue to be your prime minister – if you’ll have me.” Her expression was pensive, and Anna felt herself enchanted by this more thoughtful, expressive side of the former noblewoman. “I must make arrangements to control and satisfy my constant thirst for human blood without causing too much harm. There’s no point skirting this matter,” she said bluntly.
“I’ll tell all the ministers and jarls to shut up about your nickname… not that you need it anymore,” blurted Anna clumsily, as Alan and Tess looked at her in a mix of horror and amusement.
Vi didn’t take offence to that, even though a mortified Anna put a hand over her mouth. “You’re not wrong,” she said softly. “There are just two others I must settle affairs with, my queen. Can you bring them to me?”
Anna brightened. “I know who you need,” she said, beaming. “I’ll ask them to head over.”
It was sunset as Vi stood on the balcony of Arendelle Castle, looking out to the waters. The blood red star was descending below the fjord, and soon, Vi would be in her element of eventide. She’d managed to introduce Tess to all the members of the inner court, including Mattias and Maren (both of whom were particularly unnerved by Vi’s new status). Kristoff looked a bit concerned when he learned how closely the vampire intended to work with Anna, but he took it well otherwise – “I trust Anna, so I trust you. If you break her trust or hurt her… ” Kristoff had grimaced and smacked a fist against his palm.
“Point taken,” Vi had sniffed. She wasn’t offended. Kristoff was just worried about Anna. Who could blame him? There was a bloodsucking monster in their midst. She barely knew what to do with herself. People were suspicious enough when she, as a formidable enough human aristocrat, suddenly became prime minister to Anna, who she’d once been a ferocious political enemy of. It wasn’t surprising there was lingering shock and fear, now that she was literally immortal as long as she kept drinking blood.
Tess had gone back to the Grand House, Vi’s stately residence in Arendelle, to unpack and to sleep. Soon, she would meet that special someone who was closest to Vi. Vi insisted on them meeting sooner rather than later. It didn’t seem right that the two of them should fight over her. Or perhaps she was flattering herself, and Hilde and Tess would end up best girlfriends. Speaking of which…
Vi turned around as the balcony’s glass doors opened to reveal the impeccably uniformed Hilde Von Altheim, and behind her, Elsa herself. These were the two most powerful beings in Arendelle, and now they were joined by a new member: Hilde’s own master. Hilde’s usually calm yellow eyes and neutral expression widened into a tearful gasp of joy. “My Lady. My Lady!” cried Hilde breathlessly, voice shaking. “You’re back, you’re back!”
“Hilde. My baby,” whispered Vi, leaping into Hilde’s arms so passionately that she wrapped her legs around her waist. Hilde cried in delight, spinning Vi affectionately about as a tearful Elsa watched, her hands clasped in happiness for them.
“You probably know everything by now,” whispered Vi into Hilde’s ear, which was flushing red. “I just have some business to talk with Elsa, then we can go home. You’ll have me all to yourself.”
“I’m just worried that you’ll no longer have use for me,” replied the werewolf commander, carefully setting Vi down and pulling back, looking anxiously down at her. “You’re immortal now, and you have Tess to give you company and blood.” Her noble, wolfish eyes suddenly looked anxious. “Forgive me. Here you are, turned into a creature of the night like me, and all I can think about is myself.”
Vi tittered. “I care about Tess, but that’s all there is to it. We shared several emotional moments, true, but you’re my eternal guardian, and I’m forever in your care, vampire or no. Tess wants to meet you badly, and it’s my wish that the three of us can live happily together. It’d please me, so you two should at least try.”
She turned to Elsa as a pleased Hilde stepped aside and snapped to attention. “I come, Fifth Spirit, to humbly ask for your help.” Vi took a deep breath. “I’ve not always been the easiest girl to handle. Maybe you have a bit of empathy for that. I’d been meaning to say this some time ago, but when I lost my mortality and became something I can barely understand, I realized that I don’t want to live with regret… because a vampire’s regrets are forever.
“So, Elsa, I’m sorry for manipulating the Arendellian parliament against you for so long, and even scheming to get you destroyed. The Mundilfari family and its history with you royals is my inheritance, but I shouldn’t hide behind that as an excuse. In any case, I no longer see myself as a Mundilfari. So: I ask your forgiveness and guidance.”
“A fresh start between us feels much easier for me than if I tried the same with Hans,” laughed Elsa, “and I would be so glad to begin with you anew. No hard feelings, Countess, truly.”
She gave a slight curtsy, in playful acknowledgement of Vi’s undead ascension. “I’m the Fifth Spirit, bridge between worlds,” she declared, looking up into Vi’s sparkling eyes and extending an arm with a waiting hand, “and I’m so happy you’re here to watch over Arendelle and Northuldra with me.”
“I’m the First Vampire – mistress of the night, blood matriarch, queen of the undead,” said Vi, smirking as she tenderly took hold of Elsa’s outstretched hand, “and I’m here to learn from you.”