Countess Victoria von Baden’s pursuit of the compass weighed on her. She reclined on a tufted maroon velvet Gothic settee and frowned into the gilded mirror she held in her hand.
She did not like what she saw. “I have fawned over and followed that miserable reptile for too many years, and all I have to show for it are wrinkles and graying hair. I’m barely closer to my compass than I was more than a decade ago when we found out where it was.” Thinking back to her performance in the hospital, she reflected, “If only I could have poisoned that despicable Jew kid in the hospital, the prize would be mine now.”
When that latest scheme to seize the compass at the clinic had failed, she fled her temporary residence in Zurich for her Altes Schloss Castle on Lake Constance. A few days after that, Raka abandoned the human body of Professor Meiss and made his way back in his dragon form to join her and plan the next move.
How many schemes had she listened to? Victoria drained her wine glass and mocked Raka. “We will have the compass this time, I guarantee.” Imbibing in a drink or two of claret had turned into an everyday routine, and a way to avoid facing what she had become: a tired, aging woman.
Her compelling, sea-green eyes shone dimmer and were red with the weariness of life. She moaned in sorrow as much as in frustration and yanked on her thinning, long, once bright-copper-colored tresses, now showing streaks of gray. Her sensuous lips that had offered such promise now were thin and disapproving. Victoria sighed. “I can’t deny it; I have let myself go.”
With that admission, the Countess drew herself to her feet and began pacing. “I am no longer the innocent girl Raka found. It is time for me to take back my power and get rid of that Einstein boy myself.” She wandered to the bedroom window and drew back the drapes. From the top floor of her villa, she stared down at the statue of her ancestor, Heinrich von Hohenlohe, a former Knight Hospitaller of St. John in Jerusalem with the Crusades and seventh Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, serving in the mid-thirteenth century. Victoria was the heir of one of the wealthiest and most powerful feudal lords in Wurttemberg.
Herr Hohenlohe had recovered in the ruins of Solomon’s Temple the relic Victoria now sought. The twelve-gem-encrusted compass had lain in a dusty chest for centuries until she discovered it and found it attractive, thinking it just a pretty bauble. Her father, completely unaware of what he possessed, took it from her and traded it with other family jewels to the Einstein Electric Company for a new lighting system in their large castle.
“No one had any idea of what power that old relic held,” Victoria mused. “Raka is formidable in his own right, yet he seeks this compass. It must be powerful beyond belief.” Then her thoughts turned in a slightly different direction. “If a powerful being like Raka has not been able to get the Einstein boy out of the way, is it possible the compass is protecting him? That would certainly explain a lot,” she realized. “If the compass protected Einstein, then imagine the protection and power I can wring from it!”
As she considered those possibilities, her lips twisted into an evil smile. “I am a Countess. I am tired of being a handmaiden to a giant lizard. Once I take my compass back, I will be independent of that grotesque toad, and will no longer need to do his bidding.” The Countess heaved a deep sigh as if releasing a long-held burden. “Why, I believe I will use the compass’s power and have that slimy lizard work for me!”
With a renewed enthusiasm and determination, she began plotting to recover the family heirloom “I will use Raka’s cane that has the venomous needles to end that Einstein boy. When I have the compass back, there soon will be statues of me all over my kingdom!”
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