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Bambi and the Duke 164 Winter's ball- Part 3

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Vivian saw the shadow that was behind the wall. It wasn't that it moved but that was the only wall that had a bigger shadow that fell on the ground that the rest of them. It was the ghoul who was hiding behind the wall.

Remembering how Nicholas had told them that one of his ghoul named 'Everest' had been not listening to him, she turned around to look at the ghoul that was still behind the wall which hadn't stepped out into her complete view. The Lord had been worried as it was out of character for the creature of the dead to behaving like this and this made her wonder if the ghoul had come to see her without letting its master know, or was it another ghoul? When she had asked Nicholas on the name of the other ghoul he had called it 'Narcissus'.

The ghoul was to listen to Nicholas' commands and words as they were part of him. They were born from his pain and anguish after his mother's death.

"Everest?" she called the ghoul's name but the creature didn't step out. Maybe it was the other ghoul, thinking about it, she called it with its name, "Narcissus," but there was no response.

While she stared at the shadow, one of the maids who had been walking by saw the lady talk to the wall where there was no one. The maid took it as the rumours related to the former maid to be true. She must be a witch and to steer clear of the path, she took a sharp turn and saw herself out of there. Nobody wanted to talk or see the black witches who brought ill fate and luck to the others.

Vivian had seen a maid appear from the corner of her eyes but when she looked in the direction the maid had disappeared. Not giving it a thought, she went to look back at the ghoul. Pressing her lips for a long time, she opened her mouth, "There's no one now. You can step out...Everest," finally the dark shadowed creature moved from behind the wall to come out and stand tall.

So it was the ghoul named Everest. She had been standing here for more than half an hour, making her wonder how long it had been since the ghoul had appeared, waiting for her to notice it's presence. Both the ghouls were tall in stature. Tall and lean with the ragged cloak which they adorned on themselves. The cloak was a shade of brown, a colour that reminded of an iron which was rusted in time. The ends of the cloak were torn and as the ghoul moved to stand closer to her it was as if it didn't have legs.

"Do you have legs?" she asked it curious to hear a garbled voice from it. It was the first time for it to be interacting or rather giving her a response to her question. Not that she had asked anything to it before. She looked down at the cloak that covered the floor that it stood and she wondered if it had replied with a yes or a no. Looking back up at its hooded face, she tilted her head, "Does your master know you are here?" the creature was quiet this time.

As if a child who had been caught lurking for a midnight snack at night, it turned it's body the other way slightly.

"I take it that he doesn't know. He's worried," she added the last line to see it turn back towards her.

Not knowing what it was doing here and with the communication which would go nowhere, she leaned back thoughtfully wondering what to say to it. She looked to her side to look at the setting sky which was slowly turning blue and dark with its horizon lighter in colour. Seconds started to pass between them in silence and Vivian came to not mind the ghoul's presence with her. She had been scared of the dark shadow but since it had come to show her concern, her guard around it had been lowered.

Vivian had no friends here. The people she had come to befriend had all turned dead and it was something that made her smile unhappily. Paul, Martha, Charlotte everyone had passed away leaving only Leonard who she treasured dearly. The maids she once used to speak to avoided talking to her as it wasn't in their place to talk to a lady of her status. She had no people to share with and she wondered if the ghoul had turned to be her friend as it didn't speak garbling to her but just looking at her and giving her company in this empty side of the corridor of the mansion.

When the sky turned dark and Leo who had been occupied by the councilmen, Vivian's thoughts drifted back to the Winter's ball. To the West part of the land where she would know her parents. Enveloped back in sadness she stared at the starry sky which occurred only in this part of the season before it would start to snow and then go back to raining the rest part of the year.

Lost in her thoughts she felt someone's hand on her head and when she turned, a small gasp of surprise came out of her lips. It was the ghoul who had come to place it's cold hand on her head as if wanting to console her.

"Are you trying to console me?" she asked the ghoul to receive gibberish response making her laugh, "You do know I don't understand what you say. I wish I could know why you follow me," she murmured the last part under her breath.

She would the ghoul pat her head as it moved lightly before stepping back from her, "I didn't know ghouls had the ability to read and convey emotions. I saw you what you did a few years ago," her voice dropped a few octave low, "To Lord Wilhelhum."

The ghoul appeared angry as a series of angry growls were heard. She wondered if the ghouls were the alter ego of the Lord, no one knew about these ghouls so all she could do was build her own theory and speculation on what they were.

Lord Nicholas was always so composed, and she could tell that for his age not many were like that. He always had a gentle smile on his lips. Now that she thought about it, he never showed another emotion apart from it. It was as if he were trained to be that way. One of the major reason was due to this mother's death. The boy was forced to grow up, leaving his childhood behind and maybe this ghoul was that side of him. The ghouls of death were the personalized weapons of the lord who were used to kill people on his whim.

The ghoul's close proximity had scared her. To have something that killed people readily, it was only common to react to that and though the ghoul didn't show much emotion, she hoped it didn't take her reaction too badly.

"I wish I could talk to you, you either learn my language or I learn what you speak. Can you say my name?" she asked Everest the ghoul who gave her garbled words. She concentrated on what it said but it wasn't anywhere close to her name. The ghoul turned away and stand next to the wall, "That's okay. I am sure we can work on it," she assured the ghoul to receive another set of garbled words. Taking it as a yes, she smiled.

Her smile then faltered, having no one to talk to right now, she spoke to it, "I haven't met them at all not that I could remember them. I was really small when I was brought here," she explained while the ghoul patiently heard her speak, "I am scared. Scared that when I meet them, they will shun me. Deny that I am their daughter and fail to recognize me. Do you think it is wise to go search for someone who hasn't come to search for you?" it wasn't a question to the ghoul but more of a statement.

Her eyes cast down on the dark floor and she heard the carriages and hooves of the horses come from the front of the mansion to indicate that the guests who had come were leaving now.

"Thank you for coming, Everest. I will see you around," she offered the ghoul a smile, bowing her head and she went to meet Leonard.

During the time of night, Vivian had a dream where she walked in an empty mansion. The place was deserted with no person in sight. Looking around, she decided to walk forward as no matter how much she tried to wake herself up thinking it was a dream, she couldn't snap out of it. It seemed that she was wearing the night dress she had worn before getting to sleep with Leo but Leo wasn't here.

For some odd reason, this place felt familiar as if she had previously walked through these corridors and past the rooms. It was after she came to the main hall did she come to realize that this was the snow mansion. Why was she here?

Not knowing, her bare feet padded across the chilled floor as she walked aimlessly. The snow mansion was something that she hadn't thought about in a while not at least since she had heard about it from Leo's uncle, Sullivan.

She spent time walking around but no matter how much time passed by she never came to wake up from her sleep which started to worry her. Having an interest in the strangest things, she had gone through a book called dream patterns and according to it the time spent in the dream world was too long when in reality it was very less. As she walked in the above part of the stairs she felt something pass by one of the rooms that got her heart beating.

Vivian had never been fond of ghosts. She could get through the thunder and lightning in darkness but the ghosts were something she was scared of since an early age of time. Taking a deep breath she turned her face to see empty rooms where the doors where opened. Had it been opened when Leo and she had come here? No, she thought to herself. The mansion was much much darker than how bright it looked right now.

Wondering if she should ignore it, she stood there before coming to realize that if it were a ghost it would catch up with her. There was no point avoiding something that was going to happen and the only thing here that could happen was she dying and waking up from her sleep. Chewing on her lips, she took the courage to go explore. If she was here, there must be something that was leading her somewhere where she was ought to go.

Walking towards the rooms, she entered in and out, taking it turns as she held her breath every time she stepped inside the empty hollow rooms and stepped out of it.

It was when she was stepping out of the last second room after turning around did she come to face a woman who stood down the stairs staring at nothing in particular as if she were a statue. Why did she seem familiar? Vivian asked herself. Vivian stood above rooted in her spot while the woman whom Vivian believed to be a ghost stood there without a single movement until her eyes that had been staring into space suddenly looked up to where Vivian stood to make her heart slip.

The ghost, whoever she was stared at Vivian before she disapparated and stood on the beginning of the stairs. The woman apparated and disapparated again who moves a couple of steps up again. Every time the ghost did that it moved closer to where Vivian stood and it took no more than five seconds for it to stand in front of her before showing its rotted face and giving out a shrill scream whilst making her scream out of fear.

She got up from her sleep with eyes wide open.

"Vivi?" Leo asked her concerned as she had previously experienced bad nightmares before. Vivian hugged Leo, closing her eyes and hoping to forget what she had seen in her dream as it felt vivid and real even after waking up, "What did you dream?" he asked running his hand on her back. Leonard had been sleeping when he had picked Vivian's heart begin to beat loudly as if she were running. It had him woken up and he had got up to see if she was alright before she had let out a scream.

"It was a ghost," she muttered not wanting to let go of him. When they were children Leo was the one to chase away her fears of the ghost, he was the knight who shooed them away so that she could sleep peacefully.
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