"Honestly, Detective Bask, this is why our ancestors changed their name;" Nikolas said. "We didn't want the rumors from Hungary to follow us here!" Detective Bask pulled out his notebook and prepared to write. "Really Mr. Nadasti;" he said. "What rumors would those be?"
Outrage made the family patriarch clench his hands against the arm rests of his chair. "Sir I assure you we are fine American citizens!" Nikolas shouted. "My great-great-great grandfather, Frederick Nadasti fought in your civil war! Our family has been making glorious contributions since our arrival on these shores in 1850! Those must matter more than anything." The seasoned investigator was not satisfied with this answer but knew pressing the issue would not further his objective.
"I'm sure they have, Mr. Nadasti;" Bask said. "But the victim, Lesly Peterson, was invited to the Masqureade party at your house. She didn't come home that night...or the next. Lesly's parents are very worried. You're a parent, surely you empathize with them." Nikolas relaxed, calculating how to best assuage the detective. "Yes I have my three children;" he said. "I would be inconsolable if anyone harmed them. I will tell you what I know."
Nikolas' son, Gregory, was having his eighteenth birthday party. Gregory was in love with the idea of old meets new. So his mother, Arianna, had decided to have a Masquerade with the best DJ in Philadelphia. "Make sure you emphasize the dress code mom;" Gregory said. "I want everyone in semi-formal dress and masks are mandatory." His mother was always indulging her only son's whim. "Yes my boy;" she said. "I promise you'll have the best coming of age celebration." Arianna wiped a tear from her eye. She felt it had only been yesterday Gregory had been her little baby. Tonight he would become a man.
By the time Lesly had arrived, the music, smoke machine and lights were going full blast in the Nadasti family mansion. A woman who was tall and intimidating stood at the front door. "Your name?" She asked the new arrival. "Lesly Peterson;" the girl said from behind her ornate mask. Lesly always liked to make an entrance. She had worn her pearl colored prom dress from last year. Her face consealed behind a porcelain shell with gold leaf floral patterns around the eyes and mouth. Lesly loved being ostentatious.
The woman had finished scanning her list. "I found your name Miss Peterson;" she said. "Go on in; the ballroom is the first door on the left of the atrium." Lesly thanked the lady and went inside.
Gregory had been talking with his sister, Elisabeth, by the refreshment table. "So brother mine;" she said. "Are you enjoying your big night?" Gregory lifted his dragon head mask to take a sip of spakling cider. "I suppose;" he answered. "I was hoping to find a suitable young lady. Like father asked me to." Elisabeth playfully jabbed her brother with the swan mask that she held on the end of a stick. "I see you have your priorties straight;" she said. "Don't worry, I'm sure your instinct will guide you."
He had been about to snap at Elisabeth when he spotted Lesly. Something long dormant stirred in Gregory's veins. He could smell Lesly's sweet scent wafting across the room. Even the fake fog couldn't conceal it. "I believe you're right dear sister;" he said. "Excuse me."
Lesly had been taking in the party scene. She had hoped to see someone she recognised. Perhaps that was foolish considering everyone was in disguise. "Why hello;" a strong, familiar voice said. She turned to see a tall, sophisticated young man approacing her. He was hot looking, clad in black with a dragon's face hiding his own. "Is that you Greg?" She asked. "Nice dragon outfit!"
He hadn't expected to be reccognised. "Yes;"he said. "How do you know me?" She laughed a little "It's me Lesly;" she said. "We're in AP Chemistry together!" That seemed to refresh Gregory's memory. "Oh yeah;" he said "I know you! You're Mr. Riley's favorite student! And also the most attractive girl I know."
Lesly flushed at the compliment. "Well I wouldn't say I'm that pretty;" she said. Gregory, taking a leaf from his father's book, lifted her hand and kissed it gently. "Well I disagree;" he said. "I find you...irresistible. May I invite you to our private sitting room? We can be more...private there." Gregory's natural charm was impossible to say no to.
"Sure;" Lesly said. "You don't bite do you?" She giggled mischeviously and Gregory joined in her joke. He took her by the hand and led her out of the crowded ball room.
"My son sent me a picture;" Nikolas said. "I believe they call these 'selfies' don't they?" Nikolas handed Detective Bask his cellphone.
Bask looked at the screen. It showed Gregory and Lesly sitting on a white antique love seat. Both had their masks off and were smiling at the camera. Nothing to suggest Lesly felt unsafe. "It looks like they enjoyed themselves;" Bask said. "Any idea what happened after that?" Nikolas put his phone back in his pocket and pretended to think. "I'm not certain;" he said. "I believe Gregory spent the rest of the night with her. Detective, we were about to eat supper. Why don't you join us? Arianna always makes more than enough food."
The investigator's stomach betrayed him. Bask hadn't had time to eat lunch, there had been too much paperwork. "Would it be allright if I talked to the rest of your family while we enjoy our meal?" He asked. Nikolas rose from his chair. "Of course;" he said. "I understand how important it is to reach the truth quickly. Let me inform my wife you'll be here for dinner."
Except all the Nadastis were rather pale, the dinning room looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. Nikolas sat at the head of the table. Gregory and Elisabeth sat next to an empty chair reserved for their mother. Across from Elisabeth was a girl of about five with black pigtails and a lacey red dress.
"Who is this little darling?" Detective Bask asked. The little girl looked up. "I'm Leti;" she said. "Papa's teaching me about the Countess! Did you know--ow! Elisabeth! That hurt!" Her elder sister laughed. "Oh Leti!" She said. "You're just confused. Dad's not teaching you about any royalty. He's teaching you accounting right?"
Leti was still rubbing her shin as she answered. "Right!" She said. "Now I remember. So thats why he kept talking about dividends!" Bask knew that something was off. Little girls didn't usually learn such complex mathmatics.
Arianna swept into the room with a large, well prepared, roasted chicken. "Here's the main course;" she said. "Detective, my wonderful husband has told me you are to sit over by Leti. We are honored to have a real 'Keystone cop' for supper." Bask took the indicated seat greatfully. "Honestly ma'am I would rather think of myself as a servant of the citzens of Philadelphia;" he said. "I'm glad to join you."
After placing the chicken in the center of the table, Arianna brought out a bottle of red wine and poured some for herself and Nikolas. Bask covered the mouth of his goblet. "I'm sorry;" he said. "I can't drink on duty." Arianna smiled sweetly. "Perhaps you can drink juice?" She asked. "Or perhaps some water?" Bask nodded in affirmation. "Juice sounds nice;" he said. "Thank you."
The woman of the house returned with a bottle of cherry pomegranite juice and poured it in four of the goblets. Once they were all seated, the family began dividing up the food. "Gregory;" Bask said. "Your dad told me about your birthday party. He said you met a pretty girl there. What was her name again?"
Gregory had been taught manners and swallowed his food before swallowing. "Her name was Lesly;" he said. "I think we really hit it off." Bask cut a piece of chicken down to size and chewed it thoughtfully. The meat was saltier than he was used to. Bask took a sip from his goblet.
"Do you...know..." Bask trailed off. He was begining to feel like his head was revolving like a balerina in a dance solo. Nikolas eyed his guest. "Are you sure you're feeling well, detective?" He asked. "I hope you are not overly tired." Bask's face was begining to tingle and black spots spread over his vision. "Mr...Nadasti...I..." Detective Bask lost consciousness as he slumped to the floor.
A ringing sounded in Bask's ears. He knew his body wouldn't hurt so much if he were dead. Trying to sit up, Bask found that he was bound to some sort of stone table. "I was hoping you would stay asleep, Detective;" Nikolas said. "I guess Arianna miscalculated the dose." So they had drugged Bask on purpose. "Why are you doing this?" he asked.
"You were dangerously close;" Gregory said. "If you had kept up with your questions our true nature would've been exposed. We couldn't have that." This was getting weird, why hadn't the Nadastis tried to buy his silence. That was the normal rich person response.
"I promise you I won't bring any unwanted attention to your family;" Bask said. "There's no reason to kidnap me." Nikolas and Gregory loomed over him. "Oh but there is;" he said. "That night with Lesly, was so passionate. I'm afraid I lost controll and my instincts took over." Maybe there was a chance of reasoning with him. "So you what?" Bask probed. "Did you rape Lesly? Maybe you killed her? If it was an accident--"
"Her blood was like heaven!" Gregory shouted. "I couldn't stop drinking! I wanted her to join our covenants." The boy was serously freaking Bask out. "What are you talking about?" He asked.
Nikolas placed a comforting hand on Gregory's shoulder. His son was sobbing. "I suppose it wont hurt to tell you now;" Nikolas said. "We are descendants of Pól Nádásdy, the son of Elisabeth Bathoroy. Like him, we share in our ancesstress' legacy." The infamous Countess of Hungary! It was all coming together.
"We are the last of her faith;" Nikolas said. "Through her, we are blessed and cursed. We have covenanted to serve the ancestors' gods and they bless us with extremely long lives. But that blessing comes with a price. We must feed off human blood once in a while. Also, our kind cannot reproduce with those not of the covenant. So it was Gregory's turn to take a mate. He was supposed to convert her but I suppose my son has trouble controlling his thirst."
Bask was breaking out in goosebumps. This was so not what he'd been expecting. Why couldn't these people have been ordinary suspects? Did they have to be supernatural fiends?
"We'll try to be gentle;" Nikolas promised. "We just can't let you live. Now that you know our secret. It's not personal, honestly." Both men had sprouted fangs and their eyes glowed red. Bask only screamed for a second as their teeth tore into the arteries in his neck. In less than a minute, the detective was dead.