To think that he was alive a minute ago and his life ended with one snap of head by Leonard, a cold sweat broke down, her feet staggered one step back in horror of what she saw.
Why? she asked herself. They hadn't gone to the bottom of it if the man was innocent or not. From Leo's words, he had said her life mattered but what about the man? Questioning him and cornering him for an answer of his family, wasn't it bound that he would defend his family?
And as harsh and the truthful words Leonard had spoken, she couldn't stop sympathizing and having tears brim up to her eyes. To kill a man with little to no remorse, how could the man who cared and loved her turn out to be something so cold that she found it hard to fathom the action that took place.
Not able to stand the sight of the dead man who was being untied by the housekeeper, Vivian stepped out of the basement room to go to her room. Once the door was closed, she flopped herself on the bed, the pillow resting beneath her face as she stared at the cloudy sky. Though the velocity of the wind was high, the clouds didn't move from their place and they shook with their threatening growls waiting for the right opportune moment to begin pouring the rain on the lands.
She was angry on Leonard, angry for not waiting and for ending the man's life without giving the poor man the time to explain his plight. The more she pondered on it the more she came to realize that no matter if the man was innocent or not, he would still be killed in the end.
One could be because of his capture by the black witches which happened not once but twice. The black witches were often told in the books that she had studied on how they charmed and turned a man's mind to do their bidding. Another was the reason Leo and the man, Vlass had given on the word of revenge. Touching him had given her nothing, there were no memories she could find.
At first, her thought was because he might have been a good man but now if she thought about it every time she touched Leonard, there was nothing in there when he had seen death in front of his eyes. With the way he snapped Vlass' head she was sure it wasn't his first or second time. The amount of blood could be numerous which were unknown to her.
Was this how the entire council worked? The only reason she had decided to join was to find Rory.
Anxiousness filled her heart which was mixed with anger and sadness that Vivian refused to go out of her room. She was upset with what Leonard had done. An hour passed to two and the clock turned to nine past one when she heard a knock on the door. Pulling herself up she sat up to see it was the housekeeper who appeared behind the door.
"Milady, it's time for dinner," the housekeeper informed her but she had no appetite for it.
"Please ask Leonard to excuse me today. I am not hungry," she said to the housekeeper who didn't wait to ask why and only bowed his head, leaving the room closed.
The housekeeper went down to the dining room where Leonard had already taken a seat. Seeing Jan appear with no sight of Vivian behind him nor her footsteps heard, he looked at the man who came to inform him, "Master Leonard. Lady Vivian asked you to excuse her as she lacks an appetite," Leonard only nodded his head and picked the food to eat.
He didn't regret what he did to the human back in the basement by killing him in front of her. Leonard was someone who killed people in different ways by pulling out their heart or slicing them up in a form of torture. Snapping the man was the holiest death he had given the man so that it wouldn't disturb her mind or the image that she held for so long of him.
Vivian was too forgiving in nature. For someone whom he had looked after like a shadow, and who didn't know how the people out there could be, she was too trusting to think people would or wouldn't change. He was like that, with similar thoughts when he had entered but one mistake of his had taught him the error he had caused. To believe you can sympathize is a folly of mankind. Good people could change to worse and worse people never changed to be good.
As harsh as the decision he had taken looked in Vivian's eyes she would one day see to why it was done in a certain way and how the council functioned without leaving tracks and cleaning up the mess they got into. It would take her time to come around and with that thought, he had his food.
After Jan had left, Vivian touched her wet hair which had been drenched in the rain along with Leonard. She hadn't changed her clothes and it seemed to come to become a habit of not changing her clothes right away after returning back to the mansion. Touching her leg, she felt the bump, flinching when her finger pressed on the wound which was sewed by Leonard.
It was the first time in a long while did they fight like this silently. Disagreement on both the sides of how things could have been done differently.
That night Vivian used the wet cloth to wipe herself instead of getting into the tub at the thought of she would need Leo's help to step out of the tub if she got in. Wiping herself with the warm water, she rubbed her hair to remove any wetness it could pick to wear her night clothes and get into bed.
That night she twisted and turned in the bed as she couldn't fall asleep. Feeling thirsty, she lifted her head to look at the desk where the empty jug laid on the surface. Picking it, she headed to the kitchen to fill the water from the little tank like a vessel. Once she was done, she heard the murmur of thunder coming in full force as lightning struck close but that didn't make her eyes closed or flinch at it. Her head turned to look at the glass room, step by step she walked on the cold floor to see the door slightly parted. Before she could push it wide open to see the beautiful sky with the dark inky hue and grey colour clouds, she caught sight of Leonard who laid on the floor with his one hand behind his head to look at the glass ceiling.
When they were children and when Leonard was still in the Carmichael's mansion, both of them often spent time here at the time of midnight. One day after another to the point where it had become a habit for Vivian to sit alone after Leo had gone away.
She made sure not to make her presence known but Leonard was no tumbling fool to not listen to the soft footsteps that had padded towards the door of the glass room. Still being mad at him, she took a step back before returning back to her room.
When the morning arrived, Vivian had woken up early so that she wouldn't have to see Leonard for the time being until she felt his reason was right but the Duke was smarter than her. Having known and studied her for so long, he exactly knew how her mind worked. As Vivian had entered the dining room with her stomach grumbling for some food as she had skipped eating dinner the previous night, she saw Leonard who was present in the room as he had woken up early like herself.
She saw him reading the newsletter which was sold by the townsfolk men.
On the other hand apart from the couple who weren't talking to each other, Jan, the housekeeper had a long night himself. Not that he had a brawl with a woman but because he had spent his night with the dead body of the human whom master Leonard had killed.
Taking the body and digging it in the broad light when one or more members of the village walked by or through the forest wasn't a good method to hide the body and it wasn't like the Duke was fond of burying the dead in his backyard. Though he had to say Lord Nicholas was much flexible when it came to burying the dead not that one could find the bodies after the wolves ate them. Lord Nicholas wouldn't mind feeding the man to his wolves but with the wolves regularly fed, he doubted the human could be eaten right away without the leftovers being kept aside.
He had gone to the forest when there was no one, dragging the body to the middle of the forest until he reached the Bonelake. Pushing a body as the waves of fog started was not a feasible idea as the body could always merge up which could catch the attention of the officials. Taking the man to the cliff of high height, he pushed the dead man to see him fly down in such speed until the body disappeared in the middle of the forbidden lake.
The Bonelake was a lake where most of the bodies were buried, due to the unusual way of fog with cloud-like appearance some people didn't dare to step close to it. Jan had thrown plenty of bodies in there, due to which he had to watch his back to make sure no souls would come back to haunt him if he lurked too close to the shore of it. Some curious minds who lingered and stepped close never returned back as the lake swallowed them to keep the body part of its existence as it fed on them to collect the remaining essence of the soul if it were present in the bodies.
But that hadn't been the highlight of the housekeepers night.
After getting down from the cliff and the only way to go back was to walk past the shore, he caught the shadow of the previous lord, Lord Wilhelhum whose body was thrown here years ago.
According to the details recorded in the council registry, Lord Wilhelhum had been buried in the reputed cemetery for the pureblooded vampire where now Mr and Mrs Carmichael was buried but that wasn't the truth. Though everyone had witnessed the burial, the body had been taken out and thrown into the Bonelake which was were nameless men and some of the criminals had been thrown into which only made the lake that much ominous. It was on Lord Nicholas' order that Jan himself had dug the grave years ago to pull the decaying body and to throw it down the cliff. With the body being thrown here, Lord Wilhelhum's grave had nothing but an empty box.
The shadow of Lord Wilhelhum stood close to the shore staring at him, red eyes that looked angry and staring at him accusingly. He was a vampire but a lower vampire which made him slightly worried as to how to react to the shadow like a ghost of the previous Lord who was looking at him. It was only after a few seconds had passed did Jan realize that it wasn't him but something behind him which the ghost was staring at.
"Jan," the housekeeper heard the Duke call for him which interrupted his thoughts, "There's a parchment scroll lying on the top of my desk. Bring it here."
Vivian hadn't expected for Leonard to be at the table this early in the morning. Not wanting her emotions to be obvious, she took a seat right in front of him.
Not having a word to speak early in the morning, Vivian stuck to looking at her plate which was served by the maid in the room. Murmuring thanks she began to eat and Leonard joined her in having his breakfast with her.
She sneaked a glance at Leo who was running his knife across the meat on his plate, as she lowered her eyes down, Leonard's gaze moved up to look at her. The housekeeper who had returned back with the scroll found the cat and mouse gaze taking place between the couple. Both of them refusing to talk to another.
The Duke must have been angry to have her touch the man needlessly as it had brought no closure to what they were trying to find. Leonard Carmichael was a pureblooded vampire who was possessive of his woman. The irritation wasn't subtle when Vivian had approached to touch the man. The man had a point and he knew it because he was there when a certain incident in the past had taken place when Master Leonard was working with Lord Nicholas on a job where the Lord had been supervising him.
Men, women, children came in all forms and no matter how good they appeared, they were bound to change with the word of revenge. The Lady, on the other hand, Lady Vivian who was a human appeared to be having something more than a normal human would. Though he never knew what special powers she had, but if the Duke had asked her to take up the council exam, she must be special, thought the housekeeper to himself.
He doubted that the human girl would have ever seen the Duke kill anyone in front of her eyes. It must have been quite a shock to her to digest that the man she loved was a merciless killer. The lady had her breakfast quickly and before she could bolt out of the dining room, Master Leonard's voiced stopped her when he spoke to him,
"Get the carriage ready for the Lady. She will be going to the church to meet Sister Isabelle," and though Master Leonard's words were directed to him in speech, it was intended for Lady Vivian to hear.
When Vivian arrived at the church, she sat at the same bench she had sat previously before Father Conner, the second priest of the church called her to follow him taking her to the door which he had come out from. The door led to a stone like passage which needed the lantern which Father Connor picked up from the wall.
"Good morning, Vivian," greeted Sister Isabelle.
"Good morning, Sister Isabelle," Vivian greeted the woman back as she was asked to sit on the high wooden stool. Father Connor who had come to lead her the way to Sister Isabelle stepped out of the room leaving the two ladies alone.
While the white witch was going through some of the sheets of paper which she had been spread out on the table, Vivian took the chance to let her eyes wander around the little room which was lit up with the help of candles making the room look like a cave. A lot of books where lines which led to little bottles which looked very much similar to what Leonard had shown her a few days ago.
Having not met a white witch or a black witch in particular before she didn't know what to make of the little bottles.
"Do the bottles contain potion?" asked a curious Vivian who still continued to look at the bottles.
Sister Isabelle who was looking through the sheets of paper moved her gaze to look up at Vivian who looked at the room curiously, "White witches don't create potion but medicine, dear."
"Pardon me," Vivian quickly apologized to see the woman smile, though her features seemed a little dark with her black hair and green eyes, her smile was brighter than the sun she had come across in the South empire.
"That's okay. You didn't know about it. Not many come in contact with the witches so a normal boy or a girl wouldn't know the difference. It is usually the unfortunate that come across the black witches and the elite who come across us, white witches," explained Sister Isabelle, getting up from the chair, she ran her finger to hover above the bottles before picking a bottle that had water like liquid inside it. Pulling it out, she poured it on her hand and gave it to Vivian so that she could do the same.
"What is this?"
"Holy water," replied the sister.
"Why place it in the bottle? I thought they are freely accessible in front of the church and in here too," questioned Vivian a little confused as to why she would save the holy water in a closed container like it was something precious.
"True but sometimes not holy things that appear to be holy is what they are meant to be. Sometimes the best things can be contaminated with one single drop of poison."
"Doesn't that oppose the whole purpose of having Holy water then?"
"Not necessarily. Holy water is still holy water but it won't have the same power which it used to because of the poison. It would lower its power but would still continue the little act it's supposed to perform," Vivian handed back the little bottle to her as Sister Isabelle continued to answer to her question, "This one is special because it was created by me. There are some liquids that will take years to harness and tame the way you want it to behave as. This one was done by me when I used to live in another land. I only retrieved it back a few days ago when I left for Valeria."
The woman then asked her, "I take that you have two abilities which might have been the cause of your mutation in the genes for whatever reason it is. There's nothing I can tell when it comes to your healing abilities. The Duke must have already warned you of not using it a lot as it reduces your life span. The more you use the more it will shorten, bringing closer to death."
"I am aware."
"That's good. You don't have to be righteous to people because some people are meant to die. It's destiny," said the Sister, placing her hands in an open position so that Vivian could place her hand there, "Tell me if you can read me, Vivian."
Not knowing how to start, she said, "I don't know how to read. It has always taken place unintentionally," even the time when Lady Eleanor had come to visit her, it wasn't her who had initiated or thought to touch her but when the vampiress had picked her hands she had been zapped into the memories.
"That is why you are here. To learn how to tap into a person's memories that is if there's any. Some people's memories float much easier than others. Some objects are marked with memories while the rest are left empty. It could also depend on how strong the emotion is, maybe that is why all the memories you have seen are of gore. Or some are just good at hiding them."
"Then that's the reason why I cannot read some things or people," she concluded as the candle flickered in the corner of the room.
"It's a theory but we'll be able to find out once you start making use of it. Shall we?" she nodded at the question. Vivian who had already once touched Sister Isabelle's hand tried to see if she could get something but every time she tried her eyes opened with the disappointment of finding nothing, "Nothing?" Vivian shook her head, "That's alright," letting go of her hand, she saw Sister Isabelle place an object in front of her. It was a simple looking stone, making her wonder why the woman had placed it at the top of the table, "Try with the stone?"
Moving her hands towards the stone, she touched it to hear a scream and she suddenly retraced her hand away from it to hold her hand to her chest.
"This stone was picked when a man was beating his wife, and this was one of the stone," explained Sister Isabelle before placing another stone in front of her, "How about now?" Sister Isabelle's intriguing green eyes looked at her, waiting for Vivian to tell what she saw.
Apprehensively, Vivian touched it, her fingers feeling the up and down ridges of the stone to see nothing in there.
"Where did you pick this one?" asked Vivian as it didn't seem like it had anything in there.
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a test anymore. You need to be able to find more than pain. You need to balance what you have with not just pain but also the happy memories. Take it home with you. See what you find in there. I can only guide you, Vivian. The path is yours to take and explore."
Reaching back at the mansion, she saw Leonard who had taken a seat in the drawing room which came before the stairs. Excited about what she had found, she opened her mouth as he raised his head to look at her but immediately closed her mouth shut.
Both being stubborn, she went head holding the stone in her hand. Leonard's temper had cooled down, yet Vivian was upset with him. She wanted to heed to the words spoken by Sister Isabelle but this was something she had got to see in person.
It was after the meal when she was going back to her room when she was stopped by the housekeeper who had come to hand over the milk which he had heated for her to drink.
"How is your leg, milady?" he asked.
"It is healing," she looked at him suspiciously at why he was asking her after dinner.
"Would you want me to send someone to bandage it?"
"No, I did it myself. Thank you for asking," and before she could leave, the housekeeper said,
"It isn't my place to tell, but there was a time when Master Leonard was like you. Because of him, a family died in vain when no number of casualties were to be taken. Excuse me," he said leaving her a little taken back with the information he just gave out to her.
The housekeeper took the tray back to the kitchen, keeping it on the slab he went to the study room where Leonard sat behind the desk. At his arrival at the door, he heard his master speak,
"Try to not speak additional things, Jan," of course the Duke had a lot of pride to tell what had happened in the past but the couple were behaving like children, "Get a maid to assist her if she needs anything."
"Yes, Master Leonard," as the housekeeper turned heading towards the door, the corner of his lips lifted. They were quietly fighting yet looking after each other from afar.
When the next morning arrived, Vivian went to visit the Church again so that she could continue taking Sister Isabelle's help. The whole night she had caught on to the stone, looking at it, playing it on the little side table but she found nothing. She didn't feel a flicker from it. She wanted to speak to Leonard, tell him about what she had spoken with the white witch but they still hadn't talked to each other after what Leonard had done to the man.
Somewhere deep down she wished Leonard had accompanied her today to the church today but with the cold fight, she doubted he would come as he had sent one of the mansion guards along with her who now waited outside the church.
"Yes, Sister Isabelle?"
"I need you to concentrate here than on Duke Leonard who isn't here," Vivian blushed at Sister Isabelle's words, "Young love like yours reminds me of my own. It's bittersweet but I need you here. I am sure he must have his own reasons for what might be bothering you right now," this startled her wondering how she knew something was wrong when she hadn't uttered a word about what had transpired between her and Leonard, "Don't look surprised. Like you, I am gifted with a few things which are why I have been stationed and locked in this church for some years now. I cannot see the way you do but I can sense enough to turmoil and where the reason is coming from. I have seen the boy grow to a man and I can tell you he doesn't do things without a reason. Sometimes, there are things which are hard to understand when our loved ones do something which we feel is out of character. I wouldn't tell he's always right but you will need to see the reasoning."
"Why are you locked here?"
"Hmm...I wonder with why's myself," Sister Isabelle was evasive with her answer, realizing that she might not want to talk about it, Vivian said,
"I didn't find anything in the stone."
"Is that so?" she nodded at the white witch's question, "Hmm, you will have to find it out yourself. What do you feel when you touched the other stone?" Sister Isabelle placed the stone which she had placed first yesterday.
Vivian placed the second stone which she felt empty on the table. So all she had to do was feel exactly how it felt every time she touched an object or a person who emitted emotions. She had never tried concentrating on how it felt as her concentration was mostly focussed on the memories which she saw instead of understanding how she was transported to the past.
When she touched the stone, it felt as if a gust of wind blew across her, the feeling of her heart sinking as she sinked into the memories with her skin tingling like static energy that took place. The scream got louder as the picture came in front of her eyes and she pulled back her hand to come back to where she was.
She touched again to get nothing in there. With older woman not giving up, they sat for two hours in a row without a break in between.
"Focus on how you feel," she heard the witch tell to her. Biting her cheek, she took a deep breath and touched this time. One second passed, two and two passed to five when she heard something in there. It was very low to pick on but she was sure there was something she heard. A murmur? No, thought Vivian to herself, it was the laughter of children.
Though she didn't get to see what or who the children were, the laughter was audible in her ears.
"It wasn't that hard now was it?" Sister Isabelle gave her a warm smile.
"Do you think I can get my own memories if I tried?" she was hoping to get a yes but seeing the pressed smile that appeared on the woman she smiled back.
"If you were to find them what will you?"
The first thing Vivian would want is to hug and cry in her mother's arms. All this time she had thought about herself to be an orphan but to think that her parents were somewhere in Valeria. Though it hurt to think that they might have abandoned her, at the end of everything they were her parents and she wanted to see them. Meet and know them.
"Hope is good, child," Sister Isabelle who had got up patted Vivian's head, "I have heard from Leonard but I would not want you to get your hopes up. It is always good to have the lowest expectation," the white witch's voice spoke soothingly to her. Vivian wondered on how wonderful it would be if her mother was like this woman who still had her hand patting her head like she was a child, "You know if things were different, I would have introduced you to my son even if both you and the Duke are in a relationship. A lovely girl like yourself is hard to find. It would be nice to have a daughter-in-law like yourself."
Hearing this Vivian blushed, her cheeks turning red, she looked away to distract from Sister Isabelle's words. Confused she asked, "You have a son?" were the nuns of the church allowed to...
"My!" Sister Isabelle brought her hand to her face and giggled like she had been caught, "Let's keep that secret now."