The rest of the day was spent with Cless using her Master Instructor class to the fullest, teaching the four Magic Maids and Kurt the spells in the book at the same time. The girls all picked Deeppockets, the boys Blink. The maids also selected Hearth Recall. Never walk back home again. Utility trumped once again. But then again, none of them needed to throw bolts of lightning, grant luck and happiness over the household and Cless' enchanted construction could probably resist a catapult for a few days. But the choices are situational. She didn't regret taking Revivify even though it was months since she last used the spell for real.
Heimdall followed Cless' suggestion and went with Battlemage as his second-tier class choice.
The sun dipped under the horizon and the stars claimed their spot in the firmament. It was going to be a moonless dark night. The dark creatures stirred in the night and rose from their hiding places. In particular, a certain gloomy undead opened his crystal coffin even though he wasn't kissed by some passerby necrophile-molester-exhibitionist.
"Ok. We are adjourning for today. Our newest member just woke up and I am eager to introduce him to you," Cless said. She searched around and found Helga. "He won't join us for dinner. Let me go pick him up."
She used Blink to move where Kate and Shad were sleeping and noticed some subtle changes in their bodies. It wouldn't be too long before they woke up. Next, she Blinked to the door where Jason was just removing the last bolt.
"Rise and Shine, Jason! Good evening to you," She beamed at him to tease the vampire.
"Ugh. No, thank you. Vampires don't shine." Jason groaned. He was definitely not a morning person, Cless mused.
"Not even sparkle a little?"
Jason seemed to give it some thought. "Yes, we sparkle under the sunlight," He confessed with a groan-sigh. "Only once though. As our bodies burn beneath the odious light, some embers form as we turn to ashes."
Cless poked her cheek with a finger, signaling she was thinking.
"Ashes-ashes. Dead ones," Jason explained. "Not the un-living ashes like when you burned Uncle and Cousin."
Speaking of the devils, "What can they do in the form of un-living ashes? Can they understand speech? Is there a way to restore them?"
"Just crawl, yes, yes," He answered with his trademark shrug. "If you feed them some of your Royal blood, they can restore their bodies. I don't know why you are asking though," Jason looked inquisitively at her.
"Are they evil beyond redemption?" She asked just to be sure. "What are their Skills? Levels? Are they thralls to that Auntie chick?"
She would have no moral quandary in sucking the bloodsuckers dry.
"Why are you asking all that? Yes, they are evil, they are around level eighty-something, Uncle has a Skill to see through another creature's eyes and Cousin can move objects with his mind. Yes, they are thralls. Your blood gave me the strength to break free of her control."
Cless kept her questioning. "How important it is for a thrall to be able to break free of the controller?"
"Much. Having our freedom, without the forced orders and domination. A thrall must keep thinking of the master all the time. The master's presence is overwhelming."
Chess hummed. "What about you now?"
"I am beholden to you but I am confident I chose the lesser evil," Jason said and Cless snorted at 'lesser evil'. "What? You are not dominating my mind. I can think on my own and as long as I don't break our contract I am free to act as I want. It is leagues apart. Why are you laughing?"
"Would you believe if I told you I am the Queen of the Infernal Realm in exile? Would that make me the 'lesser evil'?" Cless asked with a teasing smirk. She was enjoying drawing all these reactions from the gloomy and monotonic blue-skinned vampire.
"Okay, I'll play along. Which one of them are you Queen of?" Jason asked.
Cless tilted her head, puzzled. "What? What do you mean? I am the ruler of the Infernal Realm, all of it. There's no way to go there but the title is mine."
"There's not one Infernal Realm. There are three. Muspelheim, Niflheim, and Svartalfheim. They fused into what the church calls the 'Infernal Realm'," Jason explained.
"Is that so? Where did you learn that?" Cless asked.
"Auntie taught us. Sometimes there's nothing to do out there and she used to be a noble lady of sorts millennia ago when she was alive."
"Just for the record, what other realms are there?"
"Nine. After the end of the old world, they fell one on top of another and now there's three. The upper Celestial Realm is composed of what was left of Asgard and Vanaheim. The middle Mortal Realm is composed of Midgard, Myrkheim, Alfenheim, and Jotunheim. And the lower Infernal Realm we already talked about."
It meant a lot of things. First, she needed to find a second source on the nature of these realms. Second, she needed to learn what realm in the Infernal Realm her father ruled. Third, she needed to kick those heroes' asses and have them give her the whole picture. These bite-sized 'on a need-to-know basis' information releases were too little.
"Well, thanks for the information. We are going upstairs now, I want to introduce you to the rest of the household."
They moved in the pitch-black basement and up into the kitchen.
"Cless! There you were. We were about to go downstairs, we heard your voice echoing," Vic said. He rose a meter on his tail to look behind her. "I guess that blue fellow behind you is our new member? A cold-blooded if my heat sight is not fooling me. Interesting."
Cless stepped aside and pulled the gloomy boy up the last set of stairs. "Well, guys, this is Jason. Don't be afraid, he's harmless. And a vampire."
In hindsight, she should've done that with a bit more tact. The maids screamed and Blinked away to their chambers on the third floor. Silverfang shifted to his combat werewolf form instantly, a feat that she knew was painful. Kurt started to sing a defensive song and Vic hissed. Venaris was the only one that didn't react, she kept eating her stew with the fluffy white bread. Cless noticed she was quite hungry.
Jason hid behind Cless as Silverfang leaped to attack. Cless let them spar a little and moved aside. Silverfang slashed with his elongated claws and tore a huge gash on Jason's stomach. The vampire boy was ripe with disbelief.
"Hold, hold! I mean no harm!"
"I don't know how you managed to charm Cless, but you die tonight, leech. Moon or no moon!" Silverfang roared.
He kept attacking and Jason went on a fully defensive stance, dodging or just converting deadly blows into scratches. Cless noticed he was slowly healing and that the vampire was quite agile. Maybe he could be their rogue, Cless mused. She looked around, met Venaris' eyes and the gnome shrugged as she shoved another spoonful of delicious stew. At least Vic and Kurt kept themselves out of the fray, trusting their senior.
"Cless! Cless! Stop this murderous furball!" One of Jason's arms was limping by his side, the muscle and tendon ripped apart by the Lycan's ferocious barrage.
Silverfang howled and redoubled his savage assault. Jason shifted into a bat to fly away but Silverfang snatched him and squeezed. Jason squeaked and popped, turning to dust.
"There! It is dead," Silverfang growled with a smug expression on his lupine snout.
"Did you have your fun, Silverfang?" Cless asked with a hint of annoyance. "You do realize you've hurt me, don't you?"
"What? I protected you?" He groaned in disbelief. "Vampires can't be trusted. They are evil."
Cless moved to the dust pile and knelt, lowering her arm to let Jason wrap himself around her. She supported the conscious dust pile with another hand. She checked with [Tremorsense] and none of her employees were within hearing range.
"More or less than the Devil's daughter? Stands to reason I am evil incarnate. Rumor has it I run a monster guild," She glared at the towering silver-furred werewolf. "Do you know why I called my guild 'The Blind Eye'?"
He scratched his head and shook his head. The others perked up to listen and Cless noticed she never told anyone that. Nobody asked. Oh. Maybe that's why the Heroes didn't tell anything to her. She didn't ask. It was still stupid and dangerous.
Cless sighed. "It may sound silly, but a blind eye does not judge people by their appearances. I mean, look at me. I am wretched deformed and burned aberration," She dejectedly confessed.
Silverfang shrunk a head's height. "Oh. That makes sense," He mumbled as he exchanged a guilty look with the other guild members.
"It really doesn't matter much. Jason can't be killed that way. Let it go. He might be pissed but nobody else will fight tonight."
Cless created a crystal dart and pierced her arm around Jason's dust. The blood that flowed out was greedily devoured by the mist and soon the blue-skinned and blue-haired vampire was back in his humanoid shape.
"How scandalous!" Venaris quipped. She'd finished her stew. Cless was a bit envious of the gnome.
"Why do your clothes turn to dust with your body? That's a mighty bother!" The only human in the room complained. She used [Weaver's Touch] and separated pieces of her linen petticoats, making a tunic to cover Jason. Silverfang snarled. Cless raised an arm between the two natural enemies. "He is bound by my Skill. With stricter terms than any of you. And now that I leveled... Appoint Hird member, Jason."
Technique failed. Target is of the wrong creature type.
Damn. She tried [Monster Taming] on Jason.
Technique failed. Target is sentient.
"It seems you can't be part of the Hird or be tamed, Jason. You are an intelligent monster."
"That's fine," Jason shrugged. "Well, now that our bonding exercise is over, can we have peace? And can you heal yourself, priestess? I'm trying really hard to appear dignified and not lick the Royal blood dripping on the floor."
"Anyway, big guy. Silverfang. We started on a wrong foot, but I can assure you I mean no harm to anyone in this household. Only to Her Majesty's enemies. I'll kill and suck them dry. Not in this order."
Jason extended an arm. Silverfang growled. "Don't call her by the honorific. She is just Cless. Not even the maids know that."
"Fine, my mistake," Jason nodded and SIlverfang shook his head. The vampire made a dejected groan when he glanced down and saw that the blood was already cleaned up thanks to Cless' House magic. "And one I could avoid because you already told this stubborn me. I'm sorry Cless."
"No harm was done, I'm fine. I'm going to feed myself now if you don't mind. I can see everyone already ate, Jason, included."
After Cless finished her dinner she noticed she should have a way to call the servants. And that she would probably have to readjust their wages now that they were the hottest and highest-leveled maid crew in town. She doubted the Lord had four Magic Maids in his service. But she was a queen and was out of fucks to give.
They tentatively talked to Jason and after half an hour they were asking him all kinds of stories, especially how to ward against vampires. Turns out the invitation, garlic, running water only had some slivers of truth. Vampires didn't hate garlic. It was just the way the vegetable made the blood detestable. Therefore they usually skipped those that ate lots of garlic. He glossed over methods of killing vampires by saying that they shouldn't attempt it, run away, and call a professional. Sensible advice.
But the mortals had to sleep. Cless pointed the library to Jason and told him it was fine to read any book in there. She retired to her bed dragging Silverfang to be her hugging pillow as it was usual for her. She barely noticed Jason's raised eyebrow.
Inside the room, Silverfang asked her, "Why did you pick up the vampire? Are you attracted to him?" He asked making a poor job of hiding his pang of jealousy.
Indeed, why did she do that, the fledgling Queen mused. Why did she take the gloomy vampire under her wing? Why not banish him to a century of crawling the catacombs as a pile of dust like the other two? She had no idea why but it was something in the danger he presented that enticed her. He was no danger to herself, but he was dangerous.
Was that it? The lure of the scoundrel, of the bad boy? Of playing with fire, the excitement of the unknown? Cless imagined letting herself be embraced by Jason and shuddered. No. Creepy. The vampire wouldn't kiss her, he'd bite her. She'd rather have her fur hugging pillow.
Maybe that's the secret. Cless was a werewolf type of girl, not a vampire one. The stoic, silent but faithful Silverfang was more right up her alley. Damn you, dirty mind. Cless blushed. But the fact was. She'd rather snuggle against that soft silvery fur, or be tightly wrapped in Vic's strong tail, or even sheltered inside Kurt's exotic and colorful plumage.
Away, impure thoughts.
Cless undressed to put on her pajamas and became keenly aware of Silvefang's gaze on her body. She did change clothes in front of the stoic and silent Lycan several times but there was something different right now. She turned around wearing only her panties and exposed herself to him.
"Am I ugly, Silverfang?" She asked already regretting letting the words out.
"What?" Silvefang was caught by surprise. "I only think you have too little fur, but if you are talking about the way your skin is not smooth, these are honorable battle scars. It shows your enemy did their worst to you and you survived. That's good for an alpha. You are strong. Be proud of your scars."
The finesse of Silverfang pep talk was like being trampled by a herd of minotaurs. Not the kind of thing you tell a girl but maybe lycan girls were proud of their scars. Hidden underneath their furs, of course. She wouldn't deride her oldest companion's culture or opinion. Cless took his compliment at face value and blushed.
"I'm cold. Come here, embrace me."
That was a blooping lie. She had a Skill to control the room's temperature and Silvefang knew that. Cless wondered what was going on for her to make so many blunders in one night. But she soon felt the large thick furred arms wrapping around her semi-naked form and she buried her face in that chest full of soft fluff. Cless felt the fur rustling against her bare boobs as Silverfang breathed.
"I don't think I can go further than this today, Silverfang. But come, let us sleep together."
"Are you talking about mating?" He asked with a neutral tone.
Cless groaned inside. She should use her profession and teach Silvefang some finesse.
"Not yet," Escaped her lips. "I need more time."
She took the werewolf to her bed and just rested. She didn't feel ready to take that step yet.