“In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice.”
― Marquis de Sade
Baltasar Kristofersson rarely prayed, but if there was ever a time for it, it was now. Tonight, he would commit murder or die trying. He wasn’t sure which one he wanted more. Either way, it felt right to him to be there in this cathedral far from the church he had gotten baptized in Iceland. As he stepped two rows of candles under the feet of The Virgin Mary his hands automatically cross himself.
He took a stick and lit a candle. He smiled sadly as an image of his mother picking him up to sit on her lap during service. The sweet smell of her perfume and her warmth beside him as she read from her bible. His father on the other side mouth along to the bible passages the Priest was reciting because he already knew them by heart.
Baltasar’s eyes stung with unshed tears as he lit a candle and prayed for his family, and that hopefully tonight he would finally bring him peace. One last look at the flickering candles, Baltasar turned around and walked out into the fading light of the day. He pulled out a pair of sunglasses and hailed a taxi.
With it being October and far from tourist season, it was easy to find a cab. He slid into the white taxi.
“Palazzo Mezzanotte, Jekk jogħġbok.”
The cabbie raised an eyebrow, opened his mouth as if he would say something but he just shook his head and started to drive. Baltasar wondered if the cabbie suspected exactly what goes on in Palazzo Mezzanotte? He sighed; it didn’t matter. He leaned back against the seat and looked out of the window. The pink and orange hues of sunset made the tan and off-white colored houses and buildings of the town of Naxxar seem almost ethereal.
Malta in the bright light of day was picturesque, a perfect Instagram backdrop. Palm trees swaying in the breeze. The people on the narrow streets seemed to not get the memo it was late October. He spotted islanders wearing t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts as the car drive passed
Baltasar hands reached inside into the small hole of his jacket and felt the subtle reassuring weight of the only weapons he could risk-taking: two narrow silver stakes. With a sigh, Baltasar turned his attention to the passing scenery. Noticing that they arrived at the edges of the town. The row houses petered out; the only color is their brightly painted doors until Baltasar could merely glimpse the ships out in the harbor.
Finally, Baltasar saw the turrets of the Palazzo, followed the domed roof of the mansion. Although, he couldn’t see much behind the high stone gates that surrounded the property. The taxi pulled in front of a set of wide iron-wrought gates. There was a line of men neatly turned out in tailored tuxedos with women beside them attired in designer gowns and glittering jewelry. At the entrance, they were two hulking guards on either side of the fence. He fidgeted with the cufflinks of his ill-fitting tuxedo; feeling completely out of place.
‘You must have the courage and the conviction to follow through.’
Baltasar straightened to attention as his father’s words came to him as if he was sitting beside him. There was a cough from the driver and Baltasar quickly paid his fair and stepped out on to the street.
He would get into this party because failure wasn’t acceptable.
Baltasar pulled together all of his courage and made his way confidently to the back of the line. There were a few looks thrown his way, but he just gave them a charming smile and said nothing until he reached the head of the line.
Baltasar pulled out the invitation from his pocket and handed it to the man. The huge mountain of a man scanned his clipboard. Baltasar tried not to hold his breath, the invitation should be good. He had used up a good portion of his savings to buy this forgery.
The man looked up and his eyes flashed and he grinned; flashing a peak of fang. Baltasar wanted to be afraid, but he ruthlessly pushed it down. He kept his breathing even and was very careful to show even the tiniest hint of panic.
Vampires could smell fear.
“No, problem at all Mr. Kristofferson.” He handed Baltasar his invitation back. “Enjoy the party.”
Baltasar pasted on a smirk, fiercely holding on to his confidence. He turned around and followed the stream of people through the gates.
The inside of Palazzo Mezzanotte was just as opulent as the outside. Baltasar’s footsteps echoed on the marble floors as he followed the line of guests through the mansion up to the ballroom. The walls were done in gilded rococo design, antique wall sconces lighting the way. Baltasar shook his head as he starred at the dramatic painting of angels on the wall.
And instead, Baltasar knew that he was walking into the den of monsters. With a sigh, he finally climbed the stairs and finally, he could the murmur of a crowd and the sound of instrumental music. Baltasar walked in and gasped.
Baltasar had grown up in a tiny fishing village on the eastern coast of Iceland. The luxury of ballroom beyond anything he had ever dealt with. The dim light cast from the crystal calendars As Baltasar continued to walk, he noticed on the other side of the room was a lounge section. In the center of the area was a dais and on top sat was an empty throne. On either side of the throne were red sectional sofas lined the wall broken up with matching ottomans and golden chairs.
Baltasar just barley reframed from sneering as he took in the blatant debauchery. An Asian woman and Latinx woman were heatedly making out at the end of the sofa, while a white man with salt and pepper hair was gripping a biracial Twink’s hair and shoving his cock slowly and deliberately in and out of the younger’s mouth. The twink moaned, his head thrown back in obvious bliss. In the center of the mess of withering bodies was a gorgeous woman.
She had dark olive skin and a curtain of silky dark brown hair in a black dress that was bits of satin that clung to her voluptuous figure. One of her tits was out and being suckled by a man that he could only see the back of his head from this vantage point. And he was sure that his hands were up her dress. Sitting on her knee, a long ginger hair woman had her head thrown back across the brunette’s shoulders and the woman’s face buried in her neck in a facsimile of an intimate kiss. But Baltasar knew better, this vampire was feeding on the ginger. Baltasar turned away, his face flushed, suddenly feeling sick to his stomach.
made it seem magical. On one side were tables and chairs dressed in fine scarlet-colored table cloths with gold candelabras in the center. Lining a wall was a long bar with few guys behind it giving out alcohol to waiters dressed in a white button-down shirt and black tie.
He found the best place to people watch and went to stand against the wall. Baltasar grabbed a glass of Champaign from a passing waiter watched for his quarry come.
As he waited for there were a few individuals that came up to him to chat him up, but Baltasar would always give the excuse that he was waiting for someone. It wasn’t a lie, but it amused him what would they think if they realized his true mission. He kept his eyes from the lounge section, fighting that part of himself that was screaming to go save this witless sheeple from clearly being led to their deaths.
He couldn’t ever imagine choosing to be some monster’s dinner. Baltasar thought about draining his drink.
‘Alcohol only makes men fools and reckless.
With a sigh, he pulled the glass he had been nursing all night away from his lips. After being dead for 3 years, his father could induce shame and guilt. Baltasar only wanted this whole ordeal over with and the longer his target took, the more it forced him to pretend that he didn’t want to burn this pretentious mansion and all the monsters within.
“Hey, there,” said a male voice.
Baltasar spun around to see an impeccably dressed black man with a short afro that reminded him of a pencil eraser and a neatly trimmed beard.
“Hello,” Baltasar replied, with a grin
“I haven’t seen around these events before.” He grinned at him, his British accent just making him seem even more distinguished.
“Baltasar,” He replied, shaking his hand. Baltasar just barely repressed a shiver at how cold his hand was. “And I have been around,” He shrugged. “You probably don’t remember me.”
Jalen looked him up and down before finally releasing his hand, “I doubt that.”
Baltasar shook his head and tried to not let his wariness show.
The music suddenly stopped, and the room went silent as one they turned toward the double doors.
“All Hail, His Majesty, King Izîl Asar,” a white man announced before he swung open the doors.
As one, the crowd all bowed and Baltazar’s breath caught as the most beautiful man he had ever seen saunter through the doors. Baltasar followed everyone’s lead and bowed in respect. Yet, Baltasar couldn’t quite look away as Izîl’s slight walnut-colored skin glistened in the dim light of the chandelier, his long dreadlocks falling over his shoulder down to his waist. The length of his long coat flying dramatically behind Izîl made his way to the golden throne.
“You may rise,” Izîl commanded, his voice was deep and melodic. He crossed his legs and was ashamed to find himself licking his lips as he watched the tight leather stretch over the vampire’s thick muscular thighs.
“If you excuse me,” Jalen said with an apologetic smile.
Baltasar could only blink because how did he forget that a vampire had been standing so close to him?
‘You’re getting sloppy,’ Baltasar berated himself. He could almost hear his father’s lectures on remaining vigilant. Jalen made his way through the crowd over to the throne and bowed. Izîl waved it away and Jalen hurried up the stairs to talk to him.
And suddenly Baltasar blue eyes met the cold amber brown ones of his family’s murderer.