Dracula glided down the long corridor past the many torchlit crypt gates of great vampires from history. He grinned as he passed a pair labeled for himself and his father. Skeleton maids dusted off the nameplates. "Yeah, keep dreaming. I'm planning to be night-walking for a long time yet."
Finally drifting over to the Court Hall he brushed down his front to ensure he was presentable. With cape held just below his eyes, he thrust the other hand forward forcing the doors to open with his mind.
Instantly his arms and jaw dropped in bewildered astonishment. Before him sat Dana, still in his camp counselor uniform, along with two older vampires in bright polo shirts and shorts, one with a stenotype. Two younger vampires were sort of dancing together across the table in their seats wearing professional business suits as everyone listened to some soft modern music and drank blood-tea around a somewhat short oval table.
Dracula almost whimpered, "What happened to the Judicial Throneroom?"
The oldest looked to see what the noise at the door was, "Ah, good. You're here. We can get things started. Let the record show that my grandson, Vlad III 'The Impaler' Dracula, ruler of the hidden realm of Wallachia, within the borders of Transylvania, arrived in court 22 minutes late. Come, have a seat Dracula."
Dracula walked over, still dumbstruck. "What, grandpa Mircea, what are you doing here? I thought you were going to be asleep for another four hundred years."
Mircea shook his head and sat down his blood-tea. "No, I've been on the Vampire Court ever since the reforms in 1924. Now, even though I'm your grandfather, I will not be giving you any special treatment.
"Dana Carver, representing the Camp Winnepacaca properties, has a pretty strong case here against you. So strong, in fact, that I have granted his motion for summary judgment. Ya did it. Pretty obvious, it was an accident, but ya did. So, wow you will provide appropriate compensation for burning down our beloved campgrounds."
"But I," Dracula started to protest but the suited vampires next to Dana turned on a monitor playing cellphone video of his argument with Dana before the fire.
The suited woman closest to Dracula stood up. "Welcome, Mr. Dracula, it's an honor to advise for a legend such as yourself today, and my first piece of advice is not to try denying events already established in the record unless you can provide substantial evidence against them."
Dracula pulled a face of extreme confusion. "Who are you, and since when do vampires need lawyers, we're all bloodsuckers here."
Judge Mircea shrugged, "Reforms. Vampires present their own arguments, but you have to have an advisor who knows our laws. When we sent out a notice that you needed a legal advisor you got one of the best right here. It’s her job to make sure you know all your rights and stuff, she can help with your argument, but ultimately it’s you who has to make it."
"OK, so, who are you?"
The woman smiled, "I'm Professor Iulia Motoc, a Judge in the European Court of Human Rights. I know, odd, a vampire, judging human rights, but I'm also Romanian, and there was no way I was going to pass up advising Vlad The Impaler, even if it is just an accidental arson case."
Dracula sat down in the low chair fairly overwhelmed. "Ok ok, Professor Motoc, if you're done, what is it Johnny calls this, 'fangirling' over me, what do we do now? And please, I've put all that Impaling stuff behind me, it's just Dracula. I run a hotel now."
She sat next to him. "Well, as his Honorable Judge Mircea the Elder, just stated, we are here to discuss appropriate compensation regarding the accidental burning of Camp Winnepacaca. Now, for the remainder of these proceedings I'll be advising you telepathically, so please don't block me out or I won't be able to help without the opposition hearing me as well."
He could feel her powerful mind tapping at his own to let her in.
Judge Mircea dabbed a handkerchief at the corners of his mouth. "Alright, the council is set, defendant is here, so, Dana, as representative of Camp Winnepacaca and the associated properties, what is it you want from Mr. Dracula?"
Dana cleared his throat and calmly stated, "We would like Wallachia."
"WHAT!?" Dracula blurted.
His advisor tapped his shoulder with a frown and pointed to her forehead then to his own.
Calming himself slightly Dracula allowed her into his mind and shouted. <THEY WANT MY REALM!>
Iulia sat stoically and thought to Dracula, <No, that is just their starting ask. They won't get it and they know that, but they want to start the negotiations high so they can work down to something reasonable. This is fairly standard. They also want to get you riled up again. So calm down or the judge is more likely to lean things further in their favor.>
Dracula put his palms up, "Sorry, but my realm just means a lot to me. I taught five wars to reclaim and keep it. I suppose since you are starting that high you must feel very hurt by the loss of the camp. I too will miss it."
<Nice sympathetic note, but we need to know why they want your realm. That could tell us what they really want.>
Dracula sighed heavily. "You know, a vampire's realm is a very personal thing, why would you want mine?"
Dana looked back calmly. "I am very aware that for you older vampires your realms are personal. However, for the millions of vampires who have lived their whole lives without such a realm, your personal kingdom of isolation has become a symbol of selfish decadence. Camp Winnepacaca was one of the few public realms available to city vampires and their children."
Dracula gestured nebulously with his hands in front of himself, "And it can be again. I don't have a lot of money since I haven't had any subjects to tax for over a century, but I do have plenty of lumber I can donate for reconstruction."
<Good way to show you are willing to help. But lumber alone probably isn't enough. Do you have any available labor?>
Dana shook his head and spoke before Dracula could comment on his zombies. "Oh, I don't think that will work. I wasn't starting with a high ask. See, the lodge contained the master sigil that hid the camp from humans. Each of the cabins held the backups, but you and your friends burned them all down too. Camp Winnepacaca is no more. Our realm is no longer hidden, and far too many humans know about it for a new realm ritual to work. So, we want to turn your realm into the new vampire training camp."
Judge Mircea blinked and responded, "You really want him to give you his realm for his part in an accident? No, before you answer, I'm sure Dracula has something to add."
"I do?" He questioned before hearing his advisor's voice in his head again. "Oh, yes, I do. Oh, ho, yes. I would like you to playback that footage and pause it at the moment I caught my grandson, Dennisavich. Not for vanity, I mean, it did look cool, but I was also the one who threw him off the tower, just like you did, gramps, when I was a late fanger.
"Anyway, look at that rickety tower. I mean, I accept that it was wrong for me to go up there with all those warning signs, but look at it. The camp should have torn it down ages ago, not left it to rot. Look at how small the cordoned off area around it is. Why, look over there, is that pieces of the tower, pieces that fell outside of the fence before I arrived?
"And, seeing as fire is one of the few things that can really hurt us, why, of all things, did you not use fire retardants on the wooden buildings? Wood, which is another of our weaknesses? That was basically a tower of wooden stakes waiting for a strong wind, or heavy monster, to topple it and stake your campers."
Iulia presented Dracula with a few papers. "And what is this? Dana's request to the camp's board, a request to have the tower taken down. And an engineering analysis of the danger. And the board's refusal to take it down. Dana, I'm on your side on this. While I don't like a lot of the wussy training methods I saw there, I agree that the camp is important and that the tower was dangerous. But I can't just give the camp my realm. My hotel is all I have left."
Judge Mircea clapped once and stood up. "Alright, that was very nice. I finally heard what I was missing. I'm ready to hand down my ruling, we'll iron out the details by email. I declare that Dracula will host the new Vampire Training Camp: name TBD, within his realm of Wallachia. Someplace on the lake, every good camp needs a lake, and he will build suitable roads and other accommodations. During and around camp sessions the camp personnel will be provided free priority lodging at the hotel, but he can charge parents and other camp guests normal rates. You guys get a hidden realm for a new camp, Dracula gets more business for his hotel. Working together you get a win-win.
"Now, with that done, my husband and I have a tennis match to get to." Judge Mircea and his stenographer turned into bats and the little Mircea nuzzled into Dracula's cheek. "I'll come to visit you and the great-great-grandkids at your hotel some time. Keep in touch." Then he and his husband flew out the window.
Dana and Dracula's shoulders both slumped as Dana's advisor silently got up and left.
Professor Motoc stood up. "So glad I could help you, Mr. Dracula. And I wish Mavis luck in her Senatorial campaign."
Dana and Dracula sat together as the soft pop-rock played in the background. They each looked to the other and uttered a slow and simultaneous, "Shiiiiiit."