She shuddered to behold them. Her inky tresses shuddered as well.
‘Who,’ she intoned as she stared from her lofty pinnacle at the grounds below, ‘are these miserable creatures?’
‘They are undead, ma’am,’ said Tench her valet. ‘They are lost souls who have died but then returned. Their mission is to devour human flesh ma’am, if I understand the matter correctly.’
‘Well, I can’t say I particularly like the look of them,’ she said as the hobbled, lurching, decaying mob surrounded the mighty oaken front door and set up a monotonous but pulverisingly powerful battering. ‘See them off would you Tench?’
He worked his way down the endless stairs, floor after floor, until he reached the front hall. The pounding on the door was a slow, terrifying, earth-shaking thunder, as the foul creatures flung their rotten corpses against the door. As the ones at the front lost limbs, heads, even torsos, they were replaced by others who, gibbering and feeding on the ever-growing heap of human detritus, crawled over them to take up their positions, pounding and hammering. They gave vent to a wordless sound, part grunt part howl.
‘I say,’ said Tench through the letterbox. ‘I say, hello?’
The leader of the ghastly crowd bent down and surveyed him coolly from the other side of the letter box.
‘Yes, quite. Well I suppose I was just wondering, is there anything I can do for you at all?’
‘Indeed. As you say. You see the thing is, sorry and all that, but my mistress isn’t at home just now. So sorry. Was there a message at all?’
The leader’s eye fell out, rolled through the letter box and landed, wetly, at Tench’s feet.
‘Yes. I see. Well thanks awfully for coming, and I’ll be sure to let my mistress know you came.’
The leader seemed at a loss for a moment. His ravaged, maggot-infested hand crept to his now empty eye socket. Then he turned to the mob behind him. He raised a bloodied stump of an arm.
The mob fell silent for a moment. Then they tore him to pieces and started to feed. Tench wound his weary way back upstairs as the pounding started up again.
‘They seem to still be there, Tench,’ Vampiryirya said as he returned.
‘Ma’am. I did tell them you were not at home, but…’
Vampiryirya flung open the casement and threw scorn at the direful rabble.
‘You! You down there! Hear me! for I am Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of the Damned!’
Some heads twisted up to look (many of them, regrettably, fell off in the process). ‘I abjure you by all the powers of the dark, by the waters of sorrow and mystery, by the awful ecstasy of the Great Memnoch…’
The pounding showed no signs of abating: it seemed, in fact to be increasing in volume. The mob was growing with every minute, and the great door was starting to yield, inch by inch, as the pressure of the gruesome army increased.
‘I’m not sure you have their full attention, Ma’am,’ said Tench. ‘I wonder if they quite understand the meaning of “abjure”?’
‘Abjure? Well it means… you know, it means…’ She tossed her raven hair. ‘Oh sod it.’ She turned back to the casement where the grunts and howls of the horde below drifted up.
‘Look you lot. Just bugger off! OK?’
The mob gazed stupidly up at her.
‘Go on now. Shoo!’
‘That’s it. For I am Vampiryirya, Ac…’
The mob stirred, seethed, grumbled. Then they turned and started to lurch away, leaving bits of themselves behind as they went.
‘Go down and clear up would you?’
‘Dirty little oiks. Oh, and Tench?’
‘Don’t get any of it on your shoes. Hmmm?’
‘For I, Vampiryirya, have only just had my carpets shampooed.’
‘As you say Ma’am.’