Click here to read the first 8 chapters.
Having escaped the brawl at the bar, Count Harecula hurried back to St. Mattew´s Church in order to attend his first ASS-meeting (ASS – Anonymous (Blood-) Suckers).
He felt a little bit peculiar – his legs haven´t yet fully recovered from his first ever beer and he couldn´t help feeling somewhat elated by the fight. Of which – truth be told – he hadn´t been really part of, but which at least he´d started in a way.
He wasn´t quite sure what to call it, but he had to admit that he kind of liked how the adrenalin still rushed through his veins. He even didn´t dread going to the meeting anymore.
Before he reached the church though, he quickly cast a glance into the mirror-like surface of a shopping window (as has been unveiled before in this series: Count Harecula had no problem whatsoever to gaze at his reflection – on the contrary: he was rather fond of doing so).
When he caught sight of a bruising starting to colour around his left eye, he very nearly fainted from shock.
No way was he going to present himself in a state like that to his Lady!
What would she think of him?!
Frantically he started thinking about any possibility how to cover this blemish.
He tried to fold down one of his long ears to cover his eye, but that looked really stupid. Maybe he could rearrange the collar of his cloak? But no, this didn´t work either.
When he finally considered to blacken the other eye on purpose by himself just to wipe out the imbalance, his glance fell through the shopping window and onto the things on display.
There were masks!
Rows and rows of beautiful masks and costumes lay and hang right in front of him!
His first impulse was to smash right through the glass, grab one of the masks and run. But just in time he came to the conclusion that this kind of behaviour could arouse unwanted attention.
So instead he quickly sneaked to the rear entrance of the shop and expertly picked the lock.
He entered the building unbidden and without any difficulties (really, what funny superstitions mortals did have about his kind).
There was no need to turn on the light as his night-vision was naturally perfect.
Count Harecula had never been in this kind of shop before – there really was no need to do any shopping by himself having dozens of servants. And with online-shopping the next beautiful vest or cloak was a mere mouse-click away (even he could do it).
It came as a surprise to him therefore, that he actually liked being in a place like this. Nearly all of the costumes were definitely more to his liking than the stuff he saw other people wearing every day.
This really was more like it!
His fingers brushed slightly over delicately embroidered gowns, heavy brocades and soft silk.
Naturally he couldn´t stop himself from trying on one or two of these splendid garments.
The flourish with which he swung a velvet cape around his shoulders was of such elegance one could only achieve by years of dedicated practice.
He admired himself in the long mirror and would have forgotten all about his purpose, if he hadn´t. There it was – this hidious black-eye. With a sigh of regret he returned the velvet cape back on its hanger. He didn´t refrain from just taking it with him because it would have been stealing (really, he couldn´t care less about such trifles), but because he thought his Lady might find it curious if he´d bring an extra-cape with him to the meeting, even if it was in a shopping bag. She might even think that he brought it with him so he could change after another bloody hunt for little rabbits.
If his disguise as a willing abstinent from the stuff of life was supposed to work, he would have to be very careful around her.
When he finally turned his attention to the beautiful masks on display, he felt an excited tingle in his eartips. The vast variety nearly moved him to tears and his hands trembled slightly when he reached out to take one from its stand worthy of a king.
It would cover his whole face and was lavishly decorated with blood-red rubies and feathers along the edges. Of course the stones were mere fakes but even to his trained eyes they looked rather convincing.
He put the mask on and fell instantly in love with his own image.
It did not only suit him very well, but also hid his blackened eye perfectly.
But to be quite honest, it began to irritate him slightly after a while.
This was not really him anymore, was it? And, well, he wanted his Lady to like him and not a different (or better) version of him.
The longer Count Harecula stared at his non-face, the more he disliked the mask.
No, this wouldn´t do.
He took the mask off and propped it rather carelessly now back on its stand. He then opted for a very slim ribbon of black satin with holes for the eyes. The advert beside it stated, that this was the perfect choice, if you wanted to look like a certain “Zorro”. Although Count Harecula had never heard of this guy before, he rather liked the sound of his name. He quickly knotted the tie behind his head and was surprised to see that this little thing added to his already good-looking self the right amount of mysteriousness and recklessness.
Hell, he looked like he could rob a bank in broad daylight and even get away with it just because of his looks!
As it even hid his black eye it was the perfect choice. Feeling an unusual pang of gratitude, he tossed a banknote on the counter (it showed the picture of Benjamin Franklin on it), grabbed the bouquet of red roses he´d disposited there before and quickly got out the way he´d come in.
He was in such a good mood that he even relocked the shop!
And now to those ASSES, he thought with a mischievous grin on his lips.
To Be Continued…