This is a holiday gift for Brant, who is long-suffering.
“You can’t trust the Ordo when it comes to the occult,” she said. “That’s not a proverb, but it should be. Here’s another one: ‘You’re smarter than the Ordo thinks you are.’ Put the two of those together and you have the sort of scenario that leads, inexorably, to something like the current state of Walt Disney World.”
She paused, looking up at her audience. “Sabado would tell it differently. Of course. But if you’re worth his investment, you’ll know that already.
“Very well. Here is why Walt Disney World is a separate fiefdom, not part of Orlando, and here is why I am Prince of Walt Disney World, and here is why Sabado is Prince of Orlando. Pay attention. The quiz on stories such as these always continues for the rest of your life.
“The then Prince of Orlando, Hegelsen, found the Wyrm’s Nest that lies beneath Cinderella’s Castle in 1961. I see by your expression that you do not know what a Wyrm’s Nest is. Ask around, children; for the purposes of this tale you need only know that it is a desirable source of power. More so to the Ordo. It became a matter of some urgency for him to extend his control over this portion of land, thusly.
“At the time, this was merely undeveloped farmland. Prince Hegelsen speculated that the Wyrm’s Nest was the source of the legends of the Fountain of Youth. I find this too convenient, but I was a publicist, not a magician. Or scientist. Perhaps he was right. In any case, he immediately began to scheme to extend his official influence over the Nest.
“Walt Disney, according to the official biographies, had begun to consider a Florida resort in 1960. Perhaps a year earlier; I never recall precisely. This was certainly a matter of coincidence, as I was present in many of the early discussions about a Disney Florida theme park. Yes, at the time I was alive and in Mr. Disney’s employ.
“By 1962, Hegelsen was aware of Mr. Disney’s intentions. This lever provided a convenient means for him to claim dominion over the land on which Walt Disney World would be built; accordingly, he took measures to ensure that Mr. Disney would select this area. It was not inordinately difficult, for all the official reasons. His part was mostly arranging for local city officials to grant the concessions Mr. Disney requested. They were quite considerable.
“Now, no secret lasts. In 1965, certain other influential vampires in the Orlando area became aware of Prince Hegelsen’s intentions regarding the Nest. At that time, I am told, Orlando was the most significant vampiric city in Florida. It has, perhaps, declined since then. But at that time, it was clear that should Prince Hegelsen succeed in pressing his new claim, his personal power would appreciate greatly, and there would be no feasible opposition to his regime until such a time as he happened to enter Torpor. This was considered unacceptable.
“Also by 1965, I had entered into my current condition. This was at Prince Hegelsen’s bidding, in order to gain insight into Mr. Disney’s plans. It was arranged by a certain Mr. Sabado, who had an eye both for his own future and for appropriate balances of power.
“I will confess, since it costs me nothing to do so, that I suspect Mr. Sabado was not as entirely an independent agent as he claimed to me. My suspicion is that Mr. Sabado and Prince Hegelsen had previously arranged to position the former of the pair as a peacemaker and compromise candidate for the throne if Prince Hegelsen’s bid for the Nest was unsuccessful. Whether or not that was the intent, that was precisely what occurred.
“I had been charmed by Mr. Sabado’s intellect and keen perceptions. He spent a great deal of time in 1966 and 1967 introducing me to vampiric society, going so far as to install me as the new Mistress of Elysium in Orlando by Christmas Eve of 1967. He carefully depicted me, in a manner quite Pygmalionesque, as an apolitical master of image. His efforts were successful.
“In 1969, with Mr. Sabado’s tacit assistance, Prince Hegelsen was murdered. You might not wish to discuss that matter in detail with Sheriff Steel. Mr. Sabado’s reward for his assistance was the Princeship of Orlando; he also arranged to have me installed as Prince of Walt Disney World. This was not seen as a reward for him on the part of his co-conspirators. However, he gained an ally on his border, whether or not they realized it.
“And no, I do not intend to speak of them. Mr. Parker could tell you more; I doubt that he will.
“Prince Sabado’s other reward, of course, is that Orlando remained in Ordo Dracul hands. He has no hope of attaining the Nest, albeit he would dearly like to do so. He also has a city much weakened from what it was in his predecessor’s heyday. I think that in the end, Prince Hegelsen would have been better off had he eschewed occult ambition… but then he would not have been a true member of the Ordo, would he have? It is almost Grecian.
“I must speak to other attendees now. Your reactions to my tale have been gratifying; I thank you. I trust you will enjoy the remainder of the evening.”