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The Dead Skin Mask

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Once upon a time, there lived a merchant who had been so fortunate in his undertakings that he became very wealthy. He had four children, three sons and one girl who were not ungrateful, but used to a lavish lifestyle and loved their silks and toys. However one day, their castle caught fire and they were thrust out of their home to a small cottage that lied deep in the forest, far away from the city and friends who failed to help them when they needed it. The merchant was not bitter, but his family did fall into a terrible poverty, as none of the family knew how to get along without all their money.

Their little cottage was modest, but stable. Eventually through much trial and error, and after they had grown thin, they managed to start a farm and sustain themselves. The father and daughter cultivated the fields while the younger ones, the sons learned to make clothes and kept the home. While things were not easy, after two rough years they made their way back to their feet.

One of the sons, the middle one, discovered the forest around them was filled with magical properties and he found himself very in tune with them. It wasn’t long before the family was prospering under their new life with Lance now able to provide things they couldn’t make easily, but still when a letter came most of the family was eager to jump on it.

“One of father’s ships was thought to be lost, but its returned full of the treasure it was supposed to be!” Beamed the oldest son as he read it.

“This is fantastic!!” the youngest of the family grinned, “We can go back home!”

“Oh I can’t wait to have a bed of down feathers again!” The daughter sighed dreamily.

“Lance? What’s wrong, aren’t you happy that we won't have to work so hard anymore?” his father gently placed a hand on his son’s back. Lance had been very quiet until then.

“It’s not that,” he said, “I just don’t want to get our hopes up- and things here have been just fine is all.” He rubbed his arm before fumbling with his hands until they were in his pockets.

The others gave him a skeptical eye before turning back to their father, “All will be well, I promise.”

He asked them what they’d like from town before he returned and the children bombarded him with requests and desires of treats. However, Lance remained quiet until his father asked him what he would like as a gift. Lance simply smiled and said, “The only thing I want is for us to be together, so return home soon, papa?”

His father smiled back at him, “Of course, but are you sure there isn’t anything you’d like while I’m there?”

Lance sighed, and after further coaxing from his father, he asked for a bit of wolfsbane since it didn’t grow in the forest and he wanted to continue his work in magicks. The father accepted it as an answer with a loving smiled and gave each one of his children a kiss on the forehead. They all worked together to help their father prepare for the journey and gave him a big send off, hoping all their troubles were over.

After six months of travel through hard terrain, mountains, and windy fields that wished to blow him away, he arrived. However once he made it to the town he found that his boat and all its riches had been claimed to cover his outstanding debt. The merchant was terribly upset that he’d have to return empty handed to his children once more.

Tired and lacking supplies and money, he had no choice but to return home empty handed. Through the worst weather that nature could muster, he made his way home and was merely a few days from home before winter began to overtake him. He took shelter in a hollow tree trunk and once the snow stopped there was no road to be seen. Eventually he found something that looked like a road that was very old. He followed it to what seemed to be an abandoned castle.

Intimidating was the first thing the man would use to describe the castle. The architecture towered over him in a way that reminded him of some churches, to impose the fear of god to its patrons. Gargoyles sat at every corner and stained glass murals were in nearly every window, telling cautionary tales he couldn’t decipher from where he stood.

He knocked softly at first, then loudly when no one answered. After a few minutes of silence, the door was opened and a towering man with lilac skin and electric purple eyes stood in front of him. His snow white hair went past his waist, the only thing that matched the unsettling castle he owned were the fangs that curved gently over his bottom lip. “Hello, sir. May I help you?” he hummed down at him.

After admiring the man for a moment, finding him strangely magnetic, the merchant politely asked if he may stay the night. He explained what had happened and that he would only need a night to recover. After a calculating glance, the stranger granted him passage inside. Generously, the man clothed the merchant and fed him a hot meal before showing him to a lavish room.
The next day he readied himself to leave, but on his way out he stopped at a plant of wolfsbane in the garden, remembering his son’s gentle request. Lance had been such a help, keeping them fit with his remedies and making things to sell, how could the man not get the modest gift he asked for. With a pair of gloves, he snipped some of the plant up and put it in an herb bag in his things.

Suddenly, ghostly quiet feet stepped in front of the merchant and scowled. “How dare you, you thief! I show you kindness and you repay me with robbing me if my treasured flowers? Surely you don’t expect me to allow this to go unpunished? Most disappointing,” he growled in an ungodly tone.

The merchant shook with fright and while the creature was beautiful and had a hypnotic allure, he knew it must be a very old and powerful thing. “I’m so very sorry- your home and all it’s frightening glory is so amazing, I did not think you would miss a couple flowers!” he pleaded on his hands and knees, fearing what the fanged beast would do to him.

The creature frowned, angered further by the man’s words, “Flattery? All I hear is excuses. You will pay for your crime and I shall see that you don’t leave this castle alive.”

The merchant’s heart ached as he thought of his son Lance, who couldn’t have known what his request would have cost him. Desperately he tried to explain that the flowers were a gift to his son who had a tallent with plants and herbs. “I could have never asked for all that my sons and daughter asked for, but for my son Lance- he asked for only my safe return and a flower. Please, I only wished to deliver at least one thing to my dear family,” he pleaded again, “Please forgive me and let me go.”

“Very well, you may take the flowers and yourself home- but in exchange I ask for one of your children,” he told him, “Take your flowers and go, but in a month either return with one of them or yourself.”

The father sat in awe at the terrible burden he was now faced with, “What sort of father would I be to exchange my child’s life for my own? What lie could I possibly tell them to make them come here?”

He frowned and shook his head, “None. If they come, it must be willingly. They are to feed me for the rest of their live. Go now and see if one will take pity on you an love you enough for you to keep your life at the expense of the rest of theirs. And do not attempt to hide or I will find you. And I will kill you.”

The man left in a fright and found his way home after two days. After being sat down and calmed with tea and worried looks of his children, he began to tell them what happened. He told them first of his ship being taken to pay his debts and then of getting lost and cold, and finally of the mysterious vampire who gave him kindness until he unwittingly broke that trust. Wracked with grief, the daughter and two sons tried to come with a way to kill the vampire or run far away.

Lance looked over his family as they shouted and panicked. With a pit deep in his stomach, he smiled and stood from his chair.

“I will go.”

Chapter Text

“Lance, you can’t!” his father wept, “It’s not your fault, I should have just come straight home…”

It’s a hard thing to see, watching one’s father cry. In the back of his head a gross, neglectful voice in him said not even to look as his father fell apart. Lance never looked away, and accepted all that his request had started. He would take responsibility and his father’s place, no matter what the circumstances were. Lance took a breath and looked at his family with an optimistic smile, “You said he just wants to keep me, right? I will be fine, Papa. You know nothing can keep me down!”

Tense glanced were exchanged all around, but Lance stood straight and grinned with fake confidence that convinced his family. With a heavy heart, Lance’s father wrapped him in his arms and sobbed into his shoulder. Air stood still in the dusty old cottage as they all mourned the loss of their brother as he stood alive in front of them. This would be the last they would see of him.

The next day was spent quietly as they got Lance ready to send off, taking as much time as they needed to do so.

“He was very hospitable!” his father told him more than once, “And very kind until I tried to take his flowers.”

“So handsome!” he told him, trying to ease the load off of Lance and his sibling’s shoulders.

“His castle was bigger than you can explore in one day!” he said, voice cracking as he loaded the last of Lance’s clothes into the small wagon they were taking to drop Lance off in. Hearts grew heavier as time wore on, and eventually it came time to leave.

Lance didn’t blame his father. The fact of the matter is it was a choice between one’s death and another’s imprisonment; Lance would never be able to live with himself if he had let his father go back on his own, which he surely would have if Lance hadn’t appeared so confident of his choice. This was just the way it had to be, and it was his own request that caused his father this burden.

After a three day journey that seemed like an eternity, they arrived at the castle which was all that his father had described it to be. It was so large it felt like god himself put it there to intimidate those who approached. Large spires were disrupted by clouds, the only thing high enough to touch it. The windows whispered tales that Lance was afraid to know the ending to. Though his father found it a bit frightening, there was something about this entire land that paralyzed Lance with fear.

Doors swung open and Lance’s heart jolted. Lance feared that he wouldn’t maintain as much composure as he was wanting to, and so he straightened himself. With a nod to his Father, he started carrying his things into the foyer where the stranger seemed to not be. They worked in silence to move Lance’s modest things inside, and when it was done they looked at each other before Lance was pulled into a powerful hug. Warm arms that cared for and cradled him from crib to now shook as they held him firmly.

His father’s voice shook in a way he’d never heard before, “I love you son.” Lance didn’t look at his face, but he felt his own cheek dampen from being pressed against his father’s.

Lance smiled and choked out, “I love you too. Don’t worry, Papa. You know I’m the tough one.”

At that his father pulled back and kissed his head, “I do. Should you not have been the man you are I wouldn’t have believed you would make it here. But you are strong and the man here was kind to me. Perhaps things will work out for the better in the end.”

It was a bittersweet thought and Lance decided to hope the sentiment was true. From what he was told, he would be in (relatively) pleasant company and a large castle to mostly himself. So, with a heavy heart and tear stained face, he kissed his father’s cheek and his father and he parted ways. He watched his father ride away back home and wished him safe passage in his heart. Once his father was out of sight, Lance closed the door to the castle and took a better look around.

Old. His father mentioned it, but did not mention how dusty and unkempt it was. The wallpaper was peeling and discolored, while the rugs were mice bitten rags of their former selves. Honestly, he was worried the chandelier would fall from the ceiling from what was surely a termite ridden frame. He stepped out of the center of the room just in case and frowned as he looked about at the mess.

Where was his host then? “Excuse me? Mr. Vampire, sir!” he frowned, “I’m here in place of my father, might you tell me where I will be staying?” Lance crossed his arms over his chest and waited for this supposedly wonderful host.

A blur and then the chest of a finely cut coat is all Lance saw. “Allow me to show you to your room, then,” said a gastly and guttural voice.

Lance looked up and his eyes went wide with terror, making him stumble back and nearly fell. If a man and a bat had a child, they would have been sad parents if it looked like the thing in front of him. Large, batlike ears stuck out of the sides of its head and was pale with purple veins that shown through what almost seemed like transparent skin. Long fangs dominated the creature’s mouth which had not enough lip to cover even his gums. Should Lance had seen this creature in any other context he might have begged god to kill it to ease its suffering.

The creature seemed a bit surprised himself at Lance’s reaction, as if he wasn’t used to it. Shocker. Lance couldn’t imagine his father would truthfully call such a grotesque monster ‘handsome’. Figuring that his father was trying to spare his feelings and lighten the situation through pretty lies, Lance composed himself and tried not to stare. “Ah, yeah… Thanks,” he said and moved to pick up his things, but the creature grabbed most of it.

“Allow me,” he said flatly and started to lead him up the many stairs.

Startled by the gesture, Lance just held his one bag and followed him. The creature remained silent, so Lance spoke up as they made their way through the large castle. “So… Is there anything I can call you other than ‘Sir’, Sir…?” he hummed, still looking around at the decrepit building around him.

The creature hummed and with a low growl, nodded, “My name is Prince Lotor. Although, you may just refer to me by name. I do not care for formalites.”

“If you say so, Lotor,” Lance hummed, looking at the back of this ‘vampire’.

“What is your name,” Lotor asked, not unpleasantly.

“Lance,” he answered cooly, still unnerved by this creature’s appearance. The vampire had some sort of pull to him, though. Perhaps his father had been tricked by it before, and that’s why he said all of those nice things about him. It was common for folk with enchantments or fae blood to have a sort of allure to him. He’d been told himself that he had it, but his father said it was not as strong as his mother’s.

“Lovely,” the prince hummed.

The rest of the walk was spent in silence as Lotor walked him to a large room that still seemed kept. Things were dusty, but the walls and ceiling were intact. There was a dresser and wardrobe fit for a king, as well as a large four poster bed. “This is where you will stay,” Lotor told him and set his things inside, “Make yourself at home, but first let me explain your duties here.”

So he was imprisoned and had to work? Great. Lance smiled, “Sure, what is it?”

Lotor hummed, “I need fresh blood every week, and while I am capable of finding it elsewhere, it would be much easier to just keep a human around. So, your main duty is simply to take care of yourself and not wander too far from the castle when it is time for me to feed.”

Gross. Lance imagined that hideous face close to his neck and wanted to cry. He smiled. “Of course, what else?” he bit the inside of his cheek and Lotor was not fooled by Lance’s front.

“Help keep the castle. That is all,” Lotor hummed.

Skeptical, Lance nodded and Lotor left him to his own devices. Once the vampire was gone, Lance slumped to the floor and cried. As much has he had hated seeing his father in tears, he would have rather died himself than cried in front of him and made him feel worse for the already shitty situation. Take it in stride, stand and smile he told himself.

He didn’t move from his spot on the floor until the moon was high and the bed called to him. Lance stripped down to his underwear and slipped into the large and comfortable bed. It was a bit musky, but the comfortable bed reminded him of his childhood in his father’s castle. With that comforting thought, he was able to drift off to sleep quite easily into the next day.

Chapter Text

‘This isn’t the castle’ was his first thought when he woke up. He was standing in an ocean of manicured stone paths and flowerbeds. Lance smelled the air and it was sweet and the air was alight with tiny critters that helped maintain the garden. Perhaps even, some fae were lurking about. He smiled as he passed by english lavender that was so fragrant the smell lingered on his hand after touching it.

Lance walked around the corner of the path and saw a child. He was no taller than Lance’s hip and walked with purpose along a stone wall meant to hold in a flower bed. The distracted child had shoulder length hair that was platinum blond so light it was almost white and skin that reminded him of smokey quartz crystals that were cut and polished by a master craftsman. He was also dressed very nicely, like a noble would be for a ball.

He watched with a gentle eye, until he saw the child about to misstep and tumble, “-Woah!!!” The child gasped as he fell unexpectedly. Although, he seemed far more surprised when no pain befell him and looked up at Lance in surprise with the biggest eyes he’d ever seen. While the child stared at him, mouth agape, Lance noted he was missing a few teeth, as children of this age normally do.

“Excuse me, Sir!” he said and tried to right himself before Lance had a chance to put him down.

Despite the slight struggle to get him to the ground, Lance smiled gently at him, remembering his younger brother at the same age. “It’s alright, just be more careful, ok?” he told him and squatted down, offering the boy his hand. “My name is Lance, can you tell me yours?”

The boy bit his lip and looked around nervously, “I would, Sir… But she would be mad at me.”

“She?” Lance cocked his head, “Your mother?”

The child shook his head and fiddled with his hand, “My nanny. She doesn’t like strangers and tells me not to trust anyone too pretty to be human.”

Lance nearly laughed out loud. “Well that’s sweet of you… I think... but I promise I’m human,” he grinned.

While he still set a skeptical eye on Lance, the boy seemed swayed slightly. He bounced on his feet and looked around to make sure that his nanny wasn’t around before crouching by the wall and waving Lance close. Lance, of course, nodded and did as the child silently requested of him. “I won’t tell you my name, but if you’d like to help me I think that’d be ok,” he smiled.

Lance nodded and smiled kindly, “What do you need help with?”

The boy with violet eyes beamed at him with mischievous grin, “I’m an adventurer! I need someone to help me.”

He chuckled at that, “I’d be happy to oblige. I’d love to help such an adventurer as yourself.”

Overjoyed with delight, the boy jumped up and waved for Lance to follow. He grabbed a stick and led the older man around the garden. He was telling him of the flowers he had ‘discovered’ in the garden. The child told Lance that he knew all the names of the plants, but gave them better ones since a lot of them were hard to pronounce. Warmth bloomed in Lance’s heart, and he was easily swooned by the kid’s adorable and kind nature.

------

Lance awoke to the comfort of a feather stuffed bed. There was a moment where he had forgotten moving to the cottage. For a few minutes, his father was in town working and his siblings were surely about to interrupt his beauty sleep any moment now. However, as he opened his eyes he remembered where he was and a deep bitterness filled him.

With a sigh he sat up and put his feet on the cold, stone floor. As he made his way to the bags he left last night, he noticed they were unpacked and put away into the drawers and hung in the wardrobe. This baffled and concerned him since he’d slept through whoever did it. He would have to ask Lotor about this later, as he didn’t appreciate a blood sucking monster like that lurking in his room as he slept.

Lance sighed and got dressed before heading downstairs. He noticed all the curtains were drawn closed, wondering if the light had something to do with it. As he made it down to the kitchen to make something to eat, he found that a spread had already been made for him. His father had mentioned Lotor had done the same for him in his first visit. Lance frowned to think of how that turned out.

Despite this he sat and began to eat. He was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food. It was all delicious, and while he filled himself up, he began to remember his dream of the little boy. The child was cute and very like himself when he was younger. Lance hummed, thinking at least this place brought him pleasant dreams. It was very odd, considering Lance never remembered his dreams, especially ones so vivid.

Where would he start, Lance began to think as he finished his breakfast. The castle was large and his new home, if the Master had no use of him for now, then he might as well have a look about. So, he cleaned and left the dining room. It was crazy to think that, even if it was a little worn down, he lived here now! With all the area around the castle there was surely lots of plants like the wolfbane- not necessarily poisonous ones, but plants that could be used for his alchemy.

As his shoes tapped gently through the hallways, you could hear the slight echo. If Lance weren’t thinking about it, he might think there was an invisible person running away from him as each step got further and further away. However, he didn’t get far before there was a breeze of wind in the hallway and a familiar magnetic feeling hit him. Lance turned, knowing who it was, but still felt himself tremble with unease.

“Hello, Lotor,” he said cooly before he managed to face him.

Lotor stared at him, cloudy eyes boring into him, “You can see me, can’t you? Properly, I mean. Your father could not and no one has for some time.”

Lance bit his cheek at how forward Lotor was. What was Lance supposed to say, sorry you’re more butt ugly than I was expecting? “I can, sorry I didn’t realize it was you at first. My father told me how he saw you,” he explained, trying not to be too rude.

Nodding slowly, and almost… disappointed? Lotor sighed, “My apologies then. If my guise does not fool your eyes then there is little I can do about it. It is not how I would prefer you to see me.”

Lance started to lightly glisten with nervous sweat. “Uh, no, really. It’s ok,” he smiled as gently as he always did. He was the positive one after all, “No one can help what their face is like, there’s no reason to apologize.”

Lotor did seem to relax at his words, but never left his polite position of hands behind his back and standing at a distance. “I see. Thank you for your kind words, but I apologize anyway,” he nodded to Lance.

“Ah, ok…” Lance couldn’t take this, it was worse than torture. “Is there a reason you found me or did was just cross paths?” he asked.

Lotor nodded, “I did find you with a purpose. I will need to feed in the next day or so, and I came to give you fair warning to rest and eat well tonight. Though you needn’t worry much, I would not take more than you could handle.”

Oof… Lance shuffled his feet, “Then may I ask you some questions?”

Lotor hummed, though Lance could almost feel the rumble in the man’s chest, “You may always ask questions, but I do not promise answers to all of them.”

“Fair enough,” Lance shrugged. “Ah… I suppose I’m curious about how being a vampire works? How often will you need to… feed off of me?”

Lotor nodded, “That is a reasonable question. Once or twice a week, and I only require a mouthful, but I will need more if I wait longer.”

“Alright… and what about sunlight? Crucifixes? Silver? Stakes?”

Lotor hummed, “While you’re a welcome addition to my home, forgive me if I’m not so forthright in admitting to my possible weaknesses. I will tell you that religious symbols hold no effect, and that I can travel in sunlight if I choose.”

Lance pursed his lips. Yeah, maybe that was a little rude. “Ok, what about mirrors?”

Lotor began to seem amused, though his expression never changed. Lance briefly wondered if he could. Then he did and his eyes grew sad as he spoke, “Unfortunately, mirrors do work for me. Anything else?”

At fear of embarrassing himself and Lotor further, he decided he didn’t and shook his head.

“Very well,” he nodded, “Is there anything I can help you with for now?”

“No thanks,” he smiled politely and raised his hand, “Just wandering around, if that’s alright?”

Lotor bowed and then left in a blur and rush of the air. Lance did wonder if he was simply that fast or if he teleported away. He’d have to ask him later. For now, he started to wander the long halls and managed to thoroughly explore about a tenth of the castle in one day. He kept his mind off of what would happen tomorrow, despite how much Lotor tried to downplay it. How was Lance supposed to be calm about being food?!

It was at supper, once the sun went down, that he found himself face to face with Lotor again. Lance had walked in just as he was setting dinner on the table. While Lance had not seen another in the castle, alive, undead, or otherwise, he didn’t really think that Lotor was the one who cooked for him and his father.

“Uh, thank you. For cooking, but really you don’t have to-”

Lotor interrupted, “It’s not an inconvenience. I like to eat as well, I simply find myself eating in my study more often than not.”

“Oh,” Lance paused for a moment before sitting down, “Well, thank you anyway.” The batlike creature nodded and sat on the other end of the table and had just started eating when Lance spoke up, “Then why do you need blood if you can eat?”

Lotor sighed and didn’t look away from his plate, “I enjoy eating, but I do not necessitate it, nor does it sustain me. It is simply a habit I like to keep.”

Lance could understand that since food was awesome, then more questions came to mind, “Does blood taste good?”

Lotor seemed amused again, “Human blood tastes fine. I’ve found that raw animal blood does not, however.”

“You’ve tried animal blood?” Lance’s lips fought him, trying to grin.

“Yes, and I’d like to avoid doing it again if I can,” Lotor cut into his steak.

“But cooked meat is fine?”

“Yes, it is not blood, it is cooked flesh.”

Silence.

“How do you get around so fast?” Lance leaned on his hand, elbow on the table.

“Magic.”

Lance frowned, “Is it really or are you making that up?”

Lotor made what seemed like a grimace, but something told him it was a grin. “Perhaps.”

“Perhaps to what? Which one?”

“You have an inquisitive mind,” Lotor stated, “An attractive quality, though I think that is enough questions for tonight.”

Lance smirked teasingly, “Aw, you think I’m attractive?”

A snort, Lotor tried to hid it behind his hand, “In a sense. Perhaps I should ask you to be my bride?”

Even as a joke Lance couldn’t say yes. “No, thanks, but thank you for dinner,” he nodded before finishing his food before getting up and started to clear the table.

“Don’t worry about it. Go and get your rest, I will see you tomorrow evening,” Lotor told him.

Lance thanked him and made his way to bed. While he wasn’t content with the situation, his father wasn’t wrong when he said that Lotor was decent company. A short bath and a change of clothes later, Lance snuggled up into his bed. He wasn’t looking forward to getting bitten and having his blood drank, wishing it would at least be like that erotica he found in his father’s library before they were forced to leave his father’s castle. The ethereally beautiful vampire and the swooning maiden who never stood a chance against the creature’s charms.

He smirked, knowing that some tales don’t end in an orgy and eternal youth.

Chapter Text

He dreamed again of the child in the garden. It was almost the same, but they just went right into playing adventure games and pretending to discover new plants. Lance wondered why he never saw anyone else there, but that was fine with him. The boy reminded him of his family in the forest and Lance was more than happy to entertain the child as long as he desired. It wasn’t like he could spoil a nobleman’s child more than he has been.

As he woke up on the second day, he woke slowly and made his way to the bathroom. Drawing himself a hot bath, he remembered what was in store for him later tonight. A hand gently ran over his neck and he grimaced at what he would have to endure. Lotor had promised to only take a bit, but it was still frightening to think about the puncture wounds that would inevitably be in his neck. Tiny neck stab wounds did not make for a calm individual.

It was hard to push these thoughts back as he washed himself. He just wanted to get through the morning with relative ease and not think about his new ‘job’. Once he finished washing he got dressed and went downstairs through the lonely hallways. Breakfast was ready and while it was lacking some of the usuals, like bread, he wondered why Lotor made such fancy meals all the time. He pondered this as he cleaned up after breakfast.

Then there was a loud knocking at the front door. The door was relatively close to the kitchen, so he went to answer it. Lance did find it strange that this castle got so much traffic his father, now these people whoever they were. When he opened the door it was a short brunette girl with goggles that had many appendages, presumably for magnifying small things. Next to the short girl was a man taller than himself, but shorter than Lotor and skin that was a little darker than his own.. He wore lots of tools on his belt and had a small cart of things he had been tugging behind him.

They looked at Lance in surprise and before a word was said, Lance felt the breeze of Lotor arriving. It was something he was becoming accustomed to and he didn’t know how he felt about that. “Ah, I see you’ve returned. Please, come in,” he waved them in as they looked suspiciously at Lance.

“So, who’s your friend here, sir?” The taller guy asked, seemingly more wary of Lance than of Lotor. Lance then remembered that he was the only one that saw Lotor’s true form.

“Lance,” Lance answered before Lotor could and smiled gently. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“I’m Hunk, and this is Pidge,” Hunk smiled, “Lotor usually doesn’t have company.”

Lotor hummed, “He is, shall we say, a new recruit?”

Lance rolled his eyes. That was one way to put it he supposed. “Nice to meet you guys, so are you guys… alchemists?” He eyed their equipment with big curious eyes.

Pidge grinned, “I am, actually. Hunk is more into hardware.”

Lotor purred and nodded, “Indeed. They are also great traders, so I invite them over whenever they have interesting things I stock.”

“Lotor, are you into this sort of stuff then,” he hummed, “Alchemy and such?”

Lotor grinned, “Yes you could say that. For now, let’s make it to the office and see what you two have then.”

Lance gave Lotor a look, then they were all waved towards another part of the castle. They arrived at Lotor’s office and the two scientists laid out a bunch of gadgets and bottles that Lotor looks through curiously. Lance can’t even keep his hands to himself and starts asking a bunch of questions about each item.

Lotor looked at him, “I didn’t think you were interested in the alchemic arts.”

Lance shrugged, “I was the resident alchemist at my folks’ place. I found a book on it when I was younger and just sort of went from there.”

Lotor gave a hummm of acknowledgement and traded a few things for some of the gadgets that Hunk and Pidge had brought, but seemed more interested in seeds of rare herbs and plants. Lance was also eyeing one in particular. He wasn’t sure if Lotor noticed, but either way he bought it and after feeding them, he sent them on their way.

 

As they walked back from letting their guests out, Lance saw Lotor’s reflection in the mirror of a hallway. He paused as he looked and realized that was how everyone else saw him- not as a nightmare with gnashing teeth, but a handsome gentleman. His skin was a pale violet, but his eyes were sharp and beautiful. There was a deep allure to the man in the mirror, and Lance was surprised.

“Why can I see your glamour in the mirror?” Lance asked, looking at the real Lotor.

“Mirrors are easy to fool,” he hummed, as if it were obvious, “Most just accept the first thing they see.”

Lance hummed, “Do all vampires… Look like you? As in, how I see you.”

Lotor sighed, “No. I have a friend who is also a vampire that looks no less human than you do.”

Lance hummed, “Were you… human once?”

“Some would say,” he said softly. Lotor cleared his throat and straightened himself, “Follow me, it’s time for you to start your duty as my dinner~”

Lance somehow felt like he was just changing the subject, but it worked and it was still scary. Lotor led him into a large room and turned up the oil lamps that were installed in the room. His eyes batted as he adjusted to the light change and looked around. The walls were lined with shelves of literature, some seemed to be from the dawn of civilization. In the center of the room there were six long tables with beakers and bottles, along with intricate tools used for who knows what.

His eyes went wide as he looked around and Lotor smiled softly when he saw the look on his face. “Like it?”

Lance felt his cheeks flush and his heart pound. “It’s amazing,” he said breathlessly, “I’ve never seen a lab like this!” His fingers itched to try all the tools on the tables.

Lotor grinned proudly, as much as he could without coming off creepy, “Thank you. It… it is my pride and joy,” he said and glanced around and started leading him around, explaining every item that caught Lance’s attention. Eventually they went to a table near the back, “Here’s a machine that will take your blood so there is no awkward… biting.”

“I really appreciate the lack of biting,” he let out a breath. “So it… sucks my blood out? How?”

Lotor hummed and explained how Pidge and Hunk helped him build it. “You just sit down and I put this needle in your arm and I can accurately measure how much blood I am taking,” he hummed and had Lance sit next to it in a reclining chair. “Comfortable?”

Lance laughed a bit, “As I’ll ever be, I guess?”

Lotor nodded and disinfected the area and set Lance up to the machine. Once the machine was on, he started taking notes and it wasn’t comforting, “Let me know if you start to get dizzy at all. I’ll be sure to make sure you get plenty of water and food after this.”

Lance was a bit unsure, but nodded, “Alright.”

He laid back and after a bit he did start to feel weaker, but Lotor turned off the machine before he started to feel sick. Lance sighed and rubbed his arm once Lotor had everything disconnected and his arm bandage. “That was actually not nearly as bad as I was expecting,” he admitted sheepishly.

Lotor smiled a bit, “Well I’m glad I was able to make things more comfortable for you.” He put his hand gently on his back, “Let me take you to the dining room. You should eat and then get lots of rest.”

Lance shivered at the hand touching his back, but he hoped Lotor didn’t notice. He didn’t seem to, but Lance felt that meant little. Lotor seemed like the type to keep most emotions under lock and key. “Thanks, but I can make it on my own,” he hummed, “You should drink that stuff while it’s still warm. It’s premium stuff.”

Lotor stopped and covered his mouth with the back of his hand, shoulders bouncing. He took in a breath, and seemed to be holding back a grin, “Thank you for your consideration. If you insist you will be fine, then let’s have our respective dinners.”

Lance grinned a bit, wondering if Lotor was trying not to laugh at his joke, “Yeah. See you.” He waved and made his way to the dining room. Lotor had a good sense of humor, he thought with a grin.