"Rory!" she jumped to hug him, finding solace in his presence.
"What are you doing here this late at night?" he asked when she pulled back, taking her inside his little home until his eyes fell on the trunk that stood next to her, "Oh, Charlotte, please tell me you didn't run away from your house," quickly picking up the luggage, he closed the door shut, "Didn't I tell you to wait for my word?"
"There wasn't much time. Father has decided to give my hand to Duke Harrison," her brows furrowed seeing him light the lamp in the corner of the room, "I shall not marry anyone if it isn't you."
Rory was a simple man. Coming from a farmers family, he didn't expect anything much from his life. Looking after his parents who had grown old along with his two younger siblings who had handed the flock of animals to look after, that was all he had known until he had met the young vampiress. They were opposites in every aspect, their lifestyle, nature, the kind they belonged to were all different yet they were attracted and smitten by each other.
It wasn't that he hadn't tried avoiding her. She was the princess who lived in the garden of rose while he was the pauper who couldn't offer even one stem of rose to her. Despite his efforts, there was nothing to do but fall in love with the kind his people disliked and hated. After all, love was blind.
Her hair which was usually free-flowing stuck out of her braided hair, her clothes were simple something that was less catchy to the eyes. Walking towards her, he took her in arms to hug her.
"When did they decide to marry you to him?" he asked in the light that barely was enough to fill the entire room though it was small.
"In two weeks," she murmured softly not wanting to wake his younger siblings and parents who were fast asleep.
He sighed, unsure of what to do, "I wish you waited before packing your trunks and ready to leave. I cannot leave so suddenly, Charlotte," she moved back to nod. She was aware that this would be his answer. He had his family to take care of here, abandoning them wasn't what she wanted him to do.
"I know," she nodded her head, a small sad smile resting on her lips, "I will be going to my cousin's place who lives in Bonelake. If I stay here, there's no saying they'll get me engaged in less than a week. I am sorry I didn't mean to burden you," though her heart ached, wanting him to come along with her, she knew it was selfish on her side to ask him that.
Rory placed his hand on her face, feeling her cold skin as she had walked all the way to his home from her's without a carriage. He looked into her eyes, seeing the unshed tears and worry that she hid beneath those beautiful red eyes of hers, "It's not safe for you to travel at this hour of the night."
She smiled, kissing the palm of his hand, "I'm a vampire, Rory. I think I will be fine," she assured, "The journey should not take more than three days. I will use the night coach which is safer."
"I can't let you go alone, Char. You might be a pureblood but for me, you are the woman I love. Staying for the night, isn't feasible, is it?" he asked worry filling up his voice. She shook her head.
"I don't have much time before dawn breaks. I have made sure that the bed looks like someone is sleeping in but I am not sure for how long it will work before one of the maids or my mother comes to find out with the letter that's placed with it," she squeezed his hands, "It's just a matter of a few days. My cousin will persuade my father. I know he will."
"And what if your father doesn't approve of it?" he asked the question that they couldn't avoid.
"Right now I am pinning my hopes on persuasion. I mean it, Rory. I cannot see myself to married to another man, to be someone's wife while I hold someone else in heart. You are all I would need in this lifetime," leaning forward she kissed his lips, her lips lingering longer than usual. A kiss to show that they would meet again soon and to miss her until then, she picked her trunk ready to leave.
The man stood there torn between wanting to go with her and yet wanting to stay to fulfil his responsibility of her being a dutiful son and brother.
When she closed the door behind her, her hooded cloak back in place, she began to walk towards the road where the night coach was used by the vampires at this ungodly hour of the night often passed by. Crickets chirped and owls hooted in the silence she was surrounded except for the heavy steps as she carried the trunk in her hand. She wasn't sure when the coach would pass by, making her turn over her shoulder when she heard a noise.
After a while, a pair of footsteps came running towards her. The moment she twirled around to see if someone had caught up with her, her fingers slipped from her hands as strong human arms engulfed her.
"I cannot leave you like this," Rory heaved for air as he hugged her indicating he had run from his home to catch up to her.
"Don't worry. I will make sure to drop you safely and return back here after that. Allow me to see you safe," his forehead touched hers with eyes that were closed as he breathed in the air.
"What about your family?" she asked worriedly.
"They'll be fine. I have spoken to Vlass about it," Vlass was Rory's neighbour and also his friend, "He'll look after them until I return back. Okay?" Charlotte wasn't sure if it was a good idea but he had chased to find her and the little bag he carried behind his back told her that he would be coming with her.
Giving it a lot of thought she finally nodded her head.
"Okay," at her reply he kissed her forehead, taking her hand in his they walked.
"How long does it take for the coach to arrive? I thought it would have passed by," he asked while Charlotte opened the pocket watch which was previously Julliard's possession.
It was true. The coach should have come by now yet it was late. Had it already left without her knowledge? Charlotte thought to herself in dread. It was close to four in the morning. Another hour or more, dawn would break and there would be no escape from her father's bubbling furry if she were to be caught lurking in Mythweald, especially with Rory.
They walked side the dusty path, hoping for the coach to arrive. Trees surrounded them. The night which was quiet and soulless, one couldn't help but worry about their surroundings.
After ten minutes, Charlotte felt her heart lift up out of relief when she heard the coach and the hooves of the horses approaching them from behind. Halting their footsteps, they waved at the ragged coachman who was riding it. The coachman pulled his horses at the sight of them.
"Need a lift?" with a gruff voice and his front two teeth protruding out of his lips, the coachman asked them as he sized them up and down.
A woman's voice came from inside the coach, "Toner! I told we are not picking anyone else-"
"Shuddap you woman!" the coachman shushed her before looking down at the couple, "You have money?" he asked raising his chin. Charlotte was quick to nod, pulling out the little pouch from her cloak which jingled with money, "Hop on then. We ain't have time," he saw the couple get inside.
The woman who had previously spoken to the coachman stared at both of them, her eyes drilling holes such that it made Charlotte and Rory uncomfortable yet Rory held her hand tightly for reassurance. Exchanging words were difficult in the presence of the intrusive woman.
Charlotte who had been awake since last morning had come to feel her eyes turn heavy. Her eyelids drooping to only open up which again went to close. When half an hour had passed, her head rested on Rory's shoulder the coach experienced unsteadiness before the people inside it toppled with the sudden stop which was put on the horses.
She woke up, her eyes wide at what had happened. Opening the carriage, the woman was the first one to step outside it.
"Are you alright?" asked Rory to Charlotte, making sure she was alright first even though the metal bar of the door had grazed over his arm to draw blood out.
"Yes, what happened?" she asked looking at the open door.
"Must have been a pit hole. Let me see," he said, but she got out of the coach too to see the words to be true. One of the coach's wheel had got stuck in the pit hole and it would need at least two men to move it back up.
Charlotte couldn't help but worry more now. Time was passing by quickly and now this had happened. Biting her lip, her red eyes searched for the coachman to ask him how much time it would take before they would start moving when she realized both the man and woman had disappeared and were nowhere to be seen.
She reached out her hand to Rory when she felt a pang of metal hit across the back of her head making her stumble.
"Charlotte!" she heard Rory scream her name midst the pain she felt.
Her head fell in pain, unable to keep up the balance on her two feet due to the resonating pain she tried to stand straight but then she felt another striking pain on her head leading her to fall down on the ground.
She was a pureblooded vampire but not all of them had resistance to pain. She was a girl who had been bought up in an environment where there was no hate or pain, where she didn't need to learn to resist the pain. Her sight felt blurry which constantly diminished in and out as she laid on the ground trying to get up but she couldn't.
The coachman was the one who had swung the rod across her Charlotte's head with a sick smile on his face. The woman who had disappeared like her partner came to stand behind Rory without his knowledge as he stood in shock. Before able to contemplate what had happened, the woman hit his head with another metal rod which she held in her hand.
Unfortunately, unlike Charlotte, Rory was merely a human with less strength. The sight was of a fish when removed out of water. Both the strangers looked down at the couple who were trying to gain the strength to run away but they knew it was impossible for them to get up. Maybe the vampire would, so they gave another shot at her head which resulted in Charlotte spouting blood from her mouth.
"R-Rory?!" she called out his name in panic, "Please don't hurt him!" she cried, "Take whatever you want. Take all the money but please spare us!" she begged but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
"We already got what we wanted," the woman smiled holding the bloodied metal rod, "Toner, finish him," she ordered the coachman.
"No!" Charlotte cried hearing it. Rory who was struggling to reach to her raised his hand but before he could even reach his hand to her, a loud crack like sound echoed through the forest.
Face covered with blood, Rory's vacant and lifeless eyes stared back at her unmovingly. She couldn't help but cry, sobbing and unable to hold back the grief of another person whom she cared to see him die in front of her eyes.
"Shut her up," the man spoke angrily. The woman didn't take much time and swung the metal a couple more times across her head until the girl finally stopped moving. Running the metal rod through her chest, the man then asked, "Which one are we taking?"
"The man," the woman licked her lips.
"What about the girl? Bury her?" the man asked, already on his work by pulling the dead human's legs towards the carriage door.
"Tch. Hang her on the tree here. This will take people's focus away from us for now. Let all the vampires know how much humans hate the existence of vampires," the man cackled hearing this, "Let there be war."