Welcome to Gaia! ::

Kyier lay on his back, his eyes staring up at the ceiling. The deep purple curtain was wrapped around his body, trapping him securely in its grasp. How it even happened, he wasn't all too sure. His head was still spinning slightly. Kyier imagined he must have grabbed the curtain to try and cover himself from the stupid girl's eyes when they refused to stray but then... Ah, yes... That's when the soap he had dropped from his surprise had come into play. The whole damn banister had come down on top of him. Kyier wiggled his shoulders, trying to free himself from the curtain's bind. The water seemed to be evaporating from his skin as soon as it made contact with the fiery Marquess. The girl's high-pitched squeal may have very well caused his ears to start to bleed, and he was forced to listen to it her entire journey down the hall until a loud crash finally silenced it. Kyier rolled his eyes, taking a deep breath. He groaned as he lifted himself from the tub, snatching the towel from the wrack and hastily wrapping it around his thin waist.

Most of him was already dry, but his body still glistened with the wetness of the sweat that his climbing fiery temperature had created. He stepped out into the hall. Elisabeth wasn't at all hard to find. She sat just at the end of the hall, pieces of a shattered vase scattered around her tattered skirt. He sighed, "Stop crying. You're pathetic." he grumbled, rolling his eyes as he approached her. While his one hand secured his towel, the other reached down to lift the girl off the ground. "Go take yourself to the living quarters. I'll start a fire in the hearth, but I would appreciate it if you could manage to take care of yourself for one freaking minute without supervision." he hissed, shaking his head. "I'm going to go put on some clothes. Try to refrain from breaking down my door." he sneered, marching himself right back down the hall which he had come. Kyier heaved sighed as he tossed his towel to the floor. Where the Hell was his mother? If his parents weren't home by now, they must be staying the night somewhere. There weren't fools. Though, at present, the Marquess rather wished they were. Even he had to admit the girl had been through a lot all in one day. Despite the majority of it being her own stupid fault... He finished dressing, pulling the light ruffled blouse over his head. Kyier took one more glance in the mirror before silently cursing himself for what he was about to do...

Kyier stepped into the living quarters where he had left her, surprised to see her still sitting safely upon the couch. "I expected you to be set ablaze or perhaps have a portrait fallen over you by now. Maybe fell through a hole in the flooring that no one else was aware of? Stolen away by the castors in the shadows? ...You know, with how long I left you on your own devices." he drawled, crossing the room to sit with her on the couch. And by "sitting with her" it was actually meant that he sat as far from her on the same sofa as the fixture allowed. He leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, his head held in between his hands."You are by far the most infuriating person I have ever had the displeasure of coming across." he sighed. His words, though harsh, didn't carry their usual sting behind them. The orange flame reflected softly over the room, providing the atmosphere with a much needed calming effect. Kyier glanced side ways at the girl, noticing the wetness of her dirty cheeks. He closed his eyes and sat back, "Uncle seems to like you, however. At least there's one thing you didn't blow." he mumbled, perhaps his own attempt to cheer her up.
Lucy looked over at the man, her own eyes shining with petrified tears. "I know you don't like me." She let her words slide off her tongue like fresh ice water on a hot summers day. Her eyes barely glanced over at him, and she pulled up her feet around her dress, holding on around her skirt. She thought about leaving. Not the city, but maybe she should get out of here, so she wasn't constantly in his hair. "So, just to say again, I'm sorry for walking in on you. And thank you," She said, finally looking at him. "For saving my life, I mean." She smiled at him, and stood up, questioning now everything that had been going on as of late. "Thank you for showing me that you are not truly awful, as you like people to see. I'm going to get you to come out of your little shell, whether you like it or not," She said, now standing up, feeling much stronger, and smiled at him. "Thanks, again. Have a good night, Kyier." Walking as if in a dream, Lucy fell into her bed. The images of a shattered moment reflected behind her, her whispering memories willing her to go back and speak with Kyier. She was in no way afraid of him anymore, yet now she saw him as something else- a young man who never had a childhood like she did. She was going to have to dig up some information on him, which means she would have to speak with Mathius. She lay against the pillow, wanting more than ever to go back and talk, to not ruin this moment, the first moment they ever had, when it was just two people speaking in gentle tones. She knew she had ruined it. Before drifting off into a deep slumber, one of the cats, she couldn't see which, made it's way into the room and hopped onto the bed with her. She coddled it behind the ears, closing her eyes, her last thoughts of, 'How can somebody that mean...look so good?'

She had all night longs, with images of those horrific dogs, and those awful people. Her brain gave her made up images of what she thought Shadow Castors may have been. They looked as though they were dark, with burned flesh, and demonic, with the ability to travel through the shadows. She awoke with a small gasp, making the sleeping feline purr softly. She felt chilled, as though a pair of cold eyes were set upon her. She stepped out of her bed, and with a candle lit, she padded slowly down the dark hall of the manor. Lucy was a child now, one who yearned for comforting after a bad dream, and she was going where ever she could seek that comfort: Kyier. She stood outside his bedroom, about to turn the bronzed knob, but stopped short, staring for a long while as she took deep breaths. She finally just sat on the floor, unable to test the door, unable to wander in the room, and invade his privacy. She held her legs under her dress, and put her head down on her arms. The candle light licked lazily at the walls, and watching one of the walls, she fell asleep.

There was much more light in the hall the next morning, with a small puddle of wax. She had a blanket over her now outstretched legs, and she felt again what had awoken her. She looked up at Kyier, who was using his foot to gently prod her into lifelessness. She was confused at first, but then remember where she had come from, and the dream last night. "Oh. I thought you died here in the night." He moved away, leaving her alone now, and she had heard him say, "Got my hopes up for nothing." She watched him go, heading off towards the stairs. She got up to go to her on bedroom to get ready for the day. And then she remembered that because of everything that happened, she never showered last night.

After she was dressed, she found Kyier down in the study, overlooking one of the books. "Good morning!" She said suddenly, and she smiled widely as he turned to look at her. "I was wondering if you would take me to see your friend, today." She wasn't asking him a question. She was telling him she wanted to go. "If you say no, I am going to smile at you all day, and follow you around and sing lullabies. Just so you are aware," She admitted. "Thanks!" She turned and headed towards the kitchen, grabbing a sugared grapefruit . On the way to Mathius' cottage, Lucy grabbed Kyier's hand.She could see his eyes glaring at her from the side, and suddenly felt the heat of her hand extend to a sudden burn, and she whipped it away from him. They walked a bit in silence, Lucy staring at the well built houses along the way. There was one that had a tall, dark haired woman standing in front, ushering her daughter inside. She looked back, her eyes questioning the Marquess and the Duchess, and she smiled just lightly. Her eyes felt so very judging. Then she nodded her head, and then, just like that, the two disappeared from her view down another street. Kyier didn't bother to knock at the door, just going directly in and petting a large, fat feline that waddled up to him. It was a small cottage, but it was quaint.

Mathius came around from the back door, and was taking off gardening boots and gloves, his apron still on. "Good morning, you two!" He said, awfully cheerful for this time of the morning. "It is quite a surprise to see the both of you here," He said, looking from Elisabeth towards Kyier, half in wonderment at the sudden budding friendship of the two. "Can I offer you any..." Lucy trailed off as he spoke, and she was staring at many of the different pictures. Mathius spoke to Kyier softly in the background. She looked at a picture of Mathius and a young woman, "Your parents were here..." She saw another of Anita kissing the young boys cheek, "Damn hounds - got into my garden, they did...." Another picture of a young couple, the bright eyes woman, smiling wildly at the bundle in her arms. "Getting closer..." Her hair was curly, very much so, and the man next to her looked so much like- "My parents." Mathius came up behind her. "Those are my parents." She smiled, and nodded her head, "They were beautiful." Is that what people said here? Did they compliment others by their physical beauty?
Kyier scoffed and rolled his eyes, easing back comfortably into the couch. Artemis, the fat ungraceful thing, plopped down on his lap like a sac of flour to a wagon, leaving the Marquess to wonder how his contents didn't spill out everywhere from the impact. He felt the creature's abdomen tighten over his leg, his eyebrow rising at the grotesque hairball Artemis belched out onto the couch beside them. It was a curse to be so right all the time. "You need to teach your son how to give better gifts." Kyier grumbled despite the fact that he carried the cat with him upon switching couches, his delicate fingers never ceasing to run soothingly over the cat's soft, white fur. "Thank you for showing me that you are not truly awful, as you like people to see. I'm going to get you to come out of your little shell, whether you like it or not." Tch. Her words played over again in his head, forcing his lip to rise in a disgusted curl. Gods, he hated this girl. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, speaking to his best friend with warm smiles. Her obnoxiously curly hair poured messily over her shoulders like some wild animal trying to eat at her head. It was too damn big for her. Kyier figured that her hair must have been what she replaced her lack of brain with. Filled with all her sickeningly optimistic, giddy ideas. It's probably where she kept her common sense too. That's why it would be forever lost. The Marquess smirked at the thought. He cleared his throat, "Mathius." Kyier's voice carried his name like a command. "Enough entertaining the simpleton. The hounds, did you see them?"

The Marquess placed Artemis off to the side, massaging his brow as he sunk back into the cushions. "I had a firsthand look at the beasts thanks to the pathetically puny moron to your left." he grumbled. "They're bigger then before, Mathius, and their packs are growing larger." He glanced back at Elisabeth who was trying to pretend like she wasn't listening, or at the very least, that she was uninterested. She seemed to have her own agenda for coming here today, and he was curious as to exactly what the Hell she wanted with Mathius. The Marquess stood up, beckoning his friend to follow him downstairs to the basement, well away from wandering ears. The wooden stairs creaked beneath his feet but the noise soon became lost to the happens of the workshop. A purple liquid bubbled and gurgled in the calcinator, and Kyier watched as it flowed into the curled tubing and drained down into the eight ounce glass ampule. He approached the work table, feeling a little light-headed with all the circulating smells of spices and herbs, "What were my parents doing here?" he asked, pulling a stool over to the opposite table piled with books and quills. Kyier and Mathius had been researching the dogs together now for quite some time. King Maxton had called upon his nephew personally to investigate their origin. Needless to say, they hadn't gotten very far. It seemed to be public consensus that the spectral hounds were creatures brought forth by the shadow castors: rogue beings wreaking havoc with no master at their reigns.

A knock sounded from upstairs. Mathius turned to head back up, but a moment later Elisabeth called down that she would answer it for him. Kyier listened carefully for their voices to carry, "Hey, hey!" Okay...so he really didn't have to listen all too carefully. "Whoa, why so tense, my short angry friend?" Ryst grinned widely as he jumped off the last step and spun around the banister. "How are you and the princess getting along?' Kyier glared at the man, his muscles relaxing as he stretched his neck from one side to the next. "And how have you been Mathius? It's good to see you again! We saw your garden's all torn up, another experiment, yeah?"' Kyier rolled his eyes, hoping that the Left was too taken by speaking with Mathius to have remembered he had spoken to him at all. He began sketching some notes down onto a blank page of parchment, his eyes zeroing in on the liquid slowly changing to a deep green in the ampule. He nearly when Chrystiem's strong hand to his shoulder broke him from his concentration, "Are you listening to me at all? Come on, tell us, Kyier. How's living with the Lady Elisabeth?" Ryst grinned. Kyier huffed, brushing him off, "That girl is no damn lady. She's like a damn mongrel begging for food, but instead of food she's attention starved. And my mother, who just had to have her, can conveniently never be found! Did they happen to tell you where they were off to, Mathius?" The Marquess spun around in his seat, groaning as of course Mathius hadn't a clue. "Oh! I have a story for the pair of you!" he shouted suddenly. "I knew from the start that girl was undressing me with her eyes, but never did I imagine the little Jezebel to act on her depraved yearnings." Chrystiem and Mathius both rose a suspicious eyebrow. "I'm not one to lie and the pair of you know it. She came onto me while I was at my most vulnerable." Chrystiem shook his head, "She came onto...you...really?" A low growl resounded from within the Marquess, "She attacked me in the shower! I'm not lying. She flung open the curtain and just stood their for what seemed like an eternity staring at me with a hungry, devious smirk on her face. I felt so dirty..." he gasped, his voice reaching to a higher falsetto as he batted his long eyelashes. "I have the bruises to prove it, if you must see. I tried to cover myself with the damn curtain and got tangled up in the stupid thing." he shrugged. He watched with a dulled expression as Chrystiem and Mathius both exchanged glances once more, "Fine, fine. Don't believe me. Some friends the pair of you are."

Meanwhile, upstairs, Raina inclined her head to the Duchess, her eyes widening when she was suddenly pulled into an embrace. She laughed uncomfortably and patted the shorter woman on the head. "It's good to see you too..." she mumbled rather awkwardly. "You seem cheerful as ever, and I see you are still in one piece. Kyier hasn't torn you to shreds yet?" she laughed. The Right relaxed herself a bit, her eyes scanning about the quaint cottage. It had been too long since she and Chrystiem had paid Mathius a visit. The small home always brought a smile to her face.
Lucy told Raina quickly of what had conspired between Kyier and herself, all the minute details of his ravenous yelling, and then, like the calm after a storm, she quickly whispered while he remained downstairs about the conversation she had with him, and her unladylike devious plans o do some sleuthing on him to find out more about his personality from Mathius, who clearly knew him better than anyone. She kept smiling as she spoke to the guard, asking her personal questions like if she knew of Kyier and the way he acted was too unusual, and then if she and Chrystiem were together in a relationship. She had no wall of questions she wouldn't ask, because she wasn't use to knowing nothing...she normally knew most of what went on in Van Hollen, though she only knew what her parents told her, or who she made sacrificial bread for, in the case of a death. She looked over at the door where the three men had at one disappeared into, and she nodded towards it, signaling to Raina that she was headed in there. She moved slowly towards the door, pressing her ear against it to hear the muffled voices from down there. She poked her head in, and finally slithered her petite body around the door, her curly hair getting caught on the door lock and she tried to untangle it, with Raina's help, and ended up falling down the stairs, her leather boots not helping with traction as she landed on her rump on the bottom, with three men staring down at her. "I did not. I am not an animal!" She said, and she stood up and dusted herself off. "I was merely in a daze from nearly being eaten to DEATH by a bunch of rabbit dogs," she said, dusting herself off and looking around at the room that was so similar to the shoppe. "Did he tell you that he also saved my life?" She asked, smiling like she one some silent battle. All of the sudden, they heard the door open, a crashing and then quick , frantic footsteps shooting from above them. Chrystiem and Raina sprung into action, moving quickly up the stairs, and then Mathius and Kyier, leaving a very befuddled Lucy down by herself. She moved up quickly then, standing behind them as they searched the open door, and the broken vase, and the open back door that practically held onto its hinges. "What happened?" She asked, and then suddenly there was a woman, short, frail looking, with dark hair and deep blue eyes, her cheekbones high and pale, the only colour from being out of breath. She had her big skirt hiked up, her breasts, tiny and shriveled, pushed up to the brim.

She stared at them, and licked her lips, her hair curling over her shoulder, over weighing her as it was pressed up into a clumpy bun. "My son?!" She hissed, holding her knee as if it ailed her. "He came through here, I'm so sorry, but...he has run away, and I cannot seem to catch him. Please, would you help me?" She asked, her voice high and nasally. In a way, she resembled Lucy, but Lucy was stronger, not as frail, and not was dark looking, with those dark circles under her eyes. This woman had a beauty to her, but was also enticing, in a way. She looked rosy and so out of breath, her eyes moving quickly back and forth, gazing at the ones who merely stared. "He just ran through here." She hissed, making sure they understood. "We will help you find him!" She said, going and touching her shoulder, "What's your name, dear?" And the woman smiled, so softly and said, "My name is Katarina Burtenbach. My son..is Wentworth."

Kyier, he was too harsh, and he said over Lucy's shoulder, "You claim he wouldn't listen to you? What kind of son does not obey his own mother? Does the boy not deserve whatever fate is to become of him then?" And Lucy looked over, "Kyier, how can you say that. Surely, like all of us you have lost someone?" She whispered, and she shook her head. "My son has been distant for the past few months, since his father's passing. This morning, we fought, and he just ran. I can't lose him." Lucy looked at her sadly, "You won't. We will find him...Are you all with me?!"She cheered, smiling as she walked with Katarina out of the house and after the small boy. She noticed Kyier had stood back. "Funny, I happen to see numerous reasons as to why I can not waste my time searching through the forest for a disobedient child. The boy clearly doesn't want to be found and it would a large injustice for me to take away his freedom." This man was infuriating. Had he no soul? The woman, she had disappeared int the direction of the forest. Honestly, she disappeared as if she were a wisp of smoke. Raina had followed, and they moved through the forest path, going deeper and deeper, having left Mathius and Kyier at the cottage, Raina and Chrystiem were kind enough to go with her. They moved through the forest, listening for the desperate cries of the woman ahead of them. In a small clearing, suddenly, there he lay, high in the trees with a noose around his neck, his head laying at an ungodly angle. Katarina cried out, screaming and flying to him, pulling him down, "My baby Wentworth, who did this to you!?" She cried out, suddenly laughing as the three came down the trail, and she became dissipate in a charade of smoke.
Raina's feet came to a sudden hault, her arm shooting out to stop Elisabeth behind her. The young woman lost herself in a frantic fit the moment her eyes fell on the lifeless body of the boy. Elisabeth pushed passed her guard, despite the Right's best efforts to capture and hold her back. "Elisabeth, wait! This doesn't feel right." she yelled, following swiftly behind until the smaller woman dropped to her knees at the child's side. Raina stood on alert while Elisabeth collected who they could only assume to be Wentworth into her arms. "Is he alive?" She asked hastily, her eyes never pausing from their frantic search of the surroundings. Something was off...terribly, eerily off. They had heard the woman crying out to the boy and followed her sobs to the small clearing. Now that they found the boy... Where had she gone? There wasn't a single sign of the woman's presence anywhere. "Elisabeth, something is wrong. We need to leave... Now." Silence pursued. When Elisabeth didn't answer, Raina looked back over her shoulder, glancing for but a second before her heart lept straight into her throat. Katarina's beaded eyes were wide with wild, crazed excitement. A malicious smirk formed across her thin lips, her estranged body wrapped around tightly around poor Elisabeth. Her sharp chin rested pointedly on Elisabeth's shoulder, as she looked up at Raina with a look that dared her to make a move. Raina was frozen. Partly from her mind stagnant and unable to process what her eyes were taking in, and partly because she couldn't risk harm coming to Elisabeth. Katarina's wrinkled hand held harshly over the young, frightened woman's mouth, fresh blood seeping down her cheek from where the witch's dirty, unkempt fingernails dug into her soft flesh. Horror consumed the Right as she played witness to the evil woman's pointed tongue licking up Elisabeth's face while she squealed in her grasp. Something in Raina snapped. She lunged forward, keen on ripping the face off the defiling witch, "Release her if you want to keep breathing, you sick, twisted freak!" she hissed, drawing her sword to swiftly press the point into Kat's neck. The woman's insane cackle sent a chill down her spine. She stood up and ripped Elisabeth painfully up with her and if it were possible, tightened her hold over the girl's mouth.

"What so you want, Filth?" Raina growled. "My Objective? Well, Miss Daae..." She pulled off an extravagant looking bow, mocking the official bow that a Knight would do for the King and Queen. "I was told to finish you, take care of you like my master's so called... little puppies could not." Her voice was high piched and shrill. "You need to die, and I will be the one to kill you." Raina stood back, her eyes narrowing on the knife Katarina drew and carried to Elisabeth's neck. She wagged a finger at the Right just as Elisabeth shot an elbow into the witch's stomach. The woman gasped, falling back while Elisabeth dodged and rolled into the dewy grass. Raina ran to her, grabbed her arm and hoisting her up, "Are you hurt?" she commanded, forcing the girl protectively behind her. Katarina vanished, a eruption of slippery smoke left in her wake. It whirled around the pair until a shrill shriek revealed her position. Raina pushed Elisabeth backward as her swords came up to clash with the knife. "What the Hell are you?" clearly the woman wasn't human, but then... "Kyier knew. That p***k knew!" she seethed as the three weapons continued to collide. "Who do you think I am?!" the witch cackled. As she said this, three more smoky shadows flew through the forest, speeding to the spot that the three stood. "Oh come now, Wench. Surely you know who I follow!" she smiled her devil smile and cackled, jumping into a tree. "Do you want to catch me?! Strangle me? I can see the madness in your eyes. You want to hurt me, rip me to pieces! Ahahaha, but you can't catch me! You can't catch me!" She jumped from branch, to branch, screaming at the top of her lungs. Her decrepit laughter filled the air. Her long hair fluttered in the hard breeze. She was smoke. They could not catch smoke. Raina watched from the corner of her eye as Elisabeth took off for the boy. She flew to him, wrapping her arms around him once more. She lightly hit his face, trying to wake him up. "Come on, wake up, please. Come one, you can do it." She heard the cackles of the shadow woman, and looked up as the three other shadows came into view. Raina ran over to their sides only to be slammed by the incoming beings and thrown from her feet. Her body flew through the air, until gravity brought her skull down to an impending rock. Thus...rendering her unconscious.

Katarina looked down upon the woman now bleeding from her head. She mocked the crying girl, "Oh, Boo Hoo.' She waltzed over with her fists tauntingly rubbing over her dry eyes, reaching down and grabbing the young woman by her disgusting hair. She threw her to the side to get close to the little boy she kidnapped as her son. Katarina saw he was breathing, "Oh, whats this? She clicked her tongue. We can not have this now..." She pulled up her dress and with her boot covered foot, applied pressure to the boys throat...

~~ Meanwhile back at the cottage...

Kyier looked terribly bored, his arms crossed over his chest and eyes starting up at the ceiling. Mathius kept going on and on about some ridiculous notion that the hounds were somehow warded off by rose and lotus blossom. Yeah. Like perfume was going to be their solution in defeating the spectral hounds. Idiot. "Perhaps you should keep up on your research, my friend. Or better yet... maybe get some sleep. I feel you might have very well lost your mind." he sighed, his eyes wandering over to the door where that stupid girl had so triumphantly made her exit, chasing after that woman who was so obviously a castor. "Tell me, Friend. Do you not worry about her?" Mathius' voice broke him from his trance, his eyes ever so slowly coming away from the door to glare at the fool. "Excuse me?" he hissed. The apothecary did not more than stare back at him, his silence irritating Kyier to such a degree that his shoulders started smoking. "I don't see your arse racing out there?" he growled. A few more silent minutes, "FINE!" he yelled. "But you better have come up with a Hell of a lot better idea that perfume to defeat the hounds for when I return!" he spat, slamming the door after storming out. He hailed a carriage, but not for the service its driver probably thought. Kyier pointed to the horse, "One hundred gold pieces if you let me borrow the horse." The man blinked, obviously confused, but nodded anyway. He helped him unhitch the stead, taking but a few minutes before Kyier jumped up onto the beast's back. Without uttering another word, Kyier flew off toward the forest.

Luckily, the frequent rain left the ground soft, and the three sets of footprints were enough of a trail for the Marquess to follow. He listened for the sound of their voices, but heard nothing... Not even a rustle among the many trees. It was as if even the wildlife had evacuated the forest for some reason. Kyier cursed himself. After he went through all the trouble of saving the idiot the night prior, his mother was still going to chew him out if she went and got killed by a castor now instead. How aggravating. "Whoa, wait a minute." He pulled against the horse's reins, his eyes picking up on a small form in the distance. Jumping down, he walked over cautiously, kneeling down at the boy's side. Still a pulse... Kyier examined the kid, his hair ruffled and looked to have a few patches from where it had been ripped out. His clothing was torn, blood soaking through in different spots. Kyier could easily outline where numerous bruises were forming over his exposed skin, and the Marquess imagined there were even more hidden away. But nothing was half as alarming as the boy's neck. The red imprint of a boot was cast over markings of a rope that had clearly cut into his skin. Kyier's fingers traced over the black and blue ever so gently, wondering how it was that this boy was honestly still living. It appeared as though someone had intended upon completely ending the child, but had gotten distracted along the way. "Can you hear me?" he asked, his voice soft. "There is no need to play dead, I'll do you no harm."
The young boy opened his eyes, nothing else on his body moving an inch, just a slipped peeking through his still half closed eye, and he watched as the Marquess stood above him. He was so frightened, his eyes misting with tears as he tried to refrain from giving up his game. There was something though, something that was in him that showed him he wasn’t going to hurt him, and the small boys swallowed, trying to speak to him. His voice was so frightened, and it remained distant and low. He coughed, and started to rub his throat where the awful woman had pressed her boot. “She…she killed…” His tears began to double, soothing his dirty flesh, and the man was kind enough to aid him, showing him mercy and safety where he needed it the most. “She tried to kill me,” He said, “And my mother tried to save me…” However, the young man was frightened that his mother was no longer with them. “I think she killed my mother…and those other ladies. They’re gone now…” He watched the man’s eyes question his words. “She took them into the forest. Sir, they were only trying to save me.”

~~~~

Katarina sauntered over to where the knight woman was bound in an unconscious state, and the other one, watching her with horrified eyes. They were in a small cottage in the northeast portion of the forest of Landon, a two roomed house, if it could even be called that. She paced the floor, her eyes scanning back and forth over the two. And finally she kicked the strong one with her boot. “Wake-y, wake-y, wench,” She spit on her face, “Your friend will be here, soon. I need his aid. If he doesn’t come it shall be your heads.” She hiked up her skirt, showing off her pale, thin, dirty legs, and tied the striped petticoat to her waist to work. Then, more than suddenly, Kat watched a knife on a wire, and it twisted around her, binding her arms together to her body. A bodiless voice entered the room, “I must ask you to kindly free these two ladies,” it said, and Katarina smiled. Her teeth showed signs of yellowing, much like the age shown on her face. “It seems I am not the only one by which a means of traveling through shadows is of slight.” She looked around, before she slipped so elegantly through the wire, into the darkness of her own world. Her own voice ricocheted off the walls, “Nana-nana boo-boo!” She appeared, so suddenly, over near the women, and leaning up against the wall. “So, think you can capture a Castor with little tricks? We take more than that, boy. We are the shadows. We are darkness.” And then suddenly, she was gone.

“Ryst!” Elisabeth said, half smiling a goofy grin at her friend, as he appeared soon after the woman left. “Care to help us out of here?” She dangled the shackles stupidly, as if he needed to know what was being referenced. Ryst jumped down from ledge he had been standing on. He cautiously made his way toward the two ladies...unsure of how to proceed with their shackles. “Ryst!” Elisabeth said again, watching as he moved about the cottage with an air of knowing. “Come now, silly woman. Do you enjoy playing the games of a child?” He moved about the room, searching for the invisible woman still. Raina questioned him, “Chrystiem you should escape. There is no way for you to defeat both her and her army. It's foolish. You should escape and inform the others while you can." The man looked over, seemingly so genuinely surprised at the fact that Raina wanted him to go. Not to say he believed her to be selfish, but more put off that she would honestly believe that he would go. He replied, so quickly, “And leave you two in shackles, I'm afraid I can't.” He smirked at them, taking now the opportunity to question how someone of Raina’s high intelligence could have been so easily outwitted and captured. And the woman looked positively furious, though Lucy was unsure if it was with herself, or with poor Chrystiem. And of course, as any man would, he went on, “Alas now I am the sole hope of this Kingdom; Forced to bear the responsibility of two hands now all on my own." He made Lucy smile, because it was clear he was joking. He was rather humorous, though perhaps it was in bad taste that he joked right now with them, especially with Miss Raina, who was so clearly upset about it. “Oh, and what would his Highness think about this?” Then she lost it.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” Raina looked infuriated at Chrystiem, though her anger stormed mostly towards the hidden woman. At least that was what Lucy hoped, otherwise her screaming of “I will have your head you bloody slattern!” was awful. She looked back and forth between the two, ending up silently shaking the metal around her wrist in a lost hope. There was a nasty sound, a metal upon metal type grinding, and suddenly Raina stood free, having ripped the apparently poorly attached shackles straight from the brick and mortar. Chrystiem patted her back, going, “That’a girl.” And Raina, bless her heart, finally took notice to Elisabeth. “We’ll get you out of there, worry not, Lady Elisabeth.” The lady just stared meekly, and nodded her head. Suddenly, from behind the girl, Katarina appeared and yelled, “Boo!” She danced backward as she avoided their touch, and she hissed at them. “I want this girl to stay. If you want her back, I want my own personal guard. I need someone to help find what is precious to me. Simple as that...ewen a pair a' ickle guards can compwehend a simple task such as this, right?” She asked. She disappeared once more, stepping into the shadows as cover.
Kyier couldn't help but feel sorry for the child. He had done nothing to deserve such a fate. Even though it completely went against his character, Kyier wrapped one of his arms around the boy's small shoulders while his other hand gently fell on his head. He pulled him closer for but a moment to try and get him to calm down. The boy was shaking terribly whether or not it was from the cold or fear, Kyier didn't quite know. "Try and relax. You're safe now. I won't let any more harm to come to you. Your name is-" The Marquess paused, "The witch said Wentworth, but that doesn't seem to suit you. I highly doubt that is the name your real mother saddled you with. At any rate, my name is Kyier." he tried to offer a comforting smile to the child, but that was something Kyier really had no skill in. "Come on, I have to get you some medical attention, and then I'll figure out what to do about the women that were taken. Try not to worry too much about them. The one's a totally useless half-wit, but the other is not to be taken lightly." he smirked, opening his arms to lift the child from the ground. Dear Gods...children were huge nowadays. "Alright, up you go." With a little effort on his part, the Marquess lifted the boy up onto the horse, making sure he was secure before jumping up behind him. He reached around on either side of him, grabbing the horse's reins. Judging by the boy's sudden apprehension and silence, Kyier thought it pretty safe to assume he had never ridden before. "I got you, Kid." he stated just before they were taking off back through the trees.

"It's not far." Kyier's eyes zeroed in on the cottage, and he wondered to himself if the boy was still conscious. He hadn't made a single peep since they started riding. "Hold onto the reins for a second, and I'll help you down." he instructed once they came upon the backyard. The Marquess jumped down first, offering his back to the injured lad. Kyier carried him inside then, his eyes darting around for where Mathius had disappeared to, "Mathius, I have the boy and he's injured. We need some supplies." He sat down carefully on the couch, scooting over from the child to give him space. "Mathius is good at what he does, trust me. Is anything broken or sprained?" When Mathius finally arrived, he carried countless supplies in his arms, dropping some tape and bandaging along the way. He, of course, asked about the stupid girl, to which Kyier just gave a shrug. "Hell if I know. I found the boy. Guess that's not good enough for you?" he snapped with a heavy roll of his eyes. "The woman who stole you, she was a castor, right?" Kyier could feel Mathius' scolding glare, "You knew?!" his mouth nearly dropped to the floor. "Of course." Kyier stated so nonchalantly it probably made Mathius' head spin.

Meanwhile...

Raina was beginning to get very...very annoyed with this woman. Her jaw clenched, her eyes narrowing as her breathing suddenly became so much deeper. "We don't negotiate with wretched lunatics. And no matter if you want her as your guest or not, one way or another, we're taking Elisabeth with us." the guard hissed. "Only bloody cowards hide themselves away in darkness!" Her fists clenched, "I tire of this bullshit. aperio pluvia." The words were whispered and brought with them a steady rainfall trickling down from the ceiling in the makeshift home. With nowhere to go, the rain quickly began to collect, drawing up a good three inches before Raina was satisfied. Chrystiem followed her eyes as they traveled over the reflecting pool and smirked."Not bad. Annnd... There we are!"." Ryst grinned as he threw three knives at the "hidden" woman. One knife struck Katarina in the leg in the achilles, another in the arm...and well the other missed completely. "Oops." he laughed. "Well two for three isn't too bad right?" Katarina proved his point to be correct, her horrid cries piercing their ears. She carried on a fit, dropping from her perch to roll around in what she began to curse as poison, devil water.

Raina's outstretched fingers pulled together, calling with them the water from the floor. She directed the substance at the weakened wall, the clear fluid easily busting it down. And what was left over, Raina took please in kicking out herself. "Oh dear...it seems I have made a slight dent in your oh so lovely home." The Right sneered. "Would you like me to make a similar dent in you, Witch? Katarina's eyes widened as she used the walk to scuttle up to her feet, "Evil, Wicked! The likes of you in my home!" She walked up to Raiya, slapping her hard across the face, hard enough to make a bruise. "Here! Her is the key you seek, Wenches!!" horrid voice screeched.She ripped the key off of the chain from her neck and threw it at the only man in the place. That is to say if you could call him a man... the girl fought better than him after all. "Now release the scrawny thing and leave my home at once. We are not done!" Chrystiem nodded, catching the golden key with ease, "Thank you kindly, Ma'am. You needn't trouble yourself with showing us the door, Miss Katarina, my partner seems to have found the way out all her own." he snorted, his eyes shifting to point at the giant hole in the woman's so called home. In a whirl of smoke, Katarina returned into her shadow form and flew up the chimney then, shrieking the entire time. "Good Gods, Woman! Calm down!" Ryst commanded as he struggled to hold Raina back from racing up the damn chimney. "She's long gone, let well enough be." With one strong yank of her arm, Raina ripped it away from her partner, stumbling backward, "You're not the one that got slapped by the b**ch! I want to rip her damn face off! Ryst sighed, shaking his head as he knelt down to unlocked the chains that bound the poor, patiently waiting girl,"Are you okay, my dear?" Raina blinked, her eyes growing wide with surprise as if she had entirely forgotten about Elisa's presence. "I apologize for my language and uncouth behavior, Lady Elisabeth. I hope you are not offended." She fell into a quick bowed, absolute sincerity behind her words. That was no way for a royal guard to act.

Mathius had just finished bandaging the boy up when the front door to his home opened. Kyier looked up from his readings, his eyebrow raise, "Oh, goody...she still lives." he drolled.
The smallest of the group, the nameless young man, just stared around as the adults all seemed to speak up to one another. From what he gathered, the nasty woman wasn’t caught. They just escaped, and took the one lady with them. So, he just quietly waited until he could ask if they could take him back home. Miss Lucy and Marquess Kyier were slightly arguing the background over what to do with the boy, and the woman said she thought she needed to take him home to make sure he was okay, but the man thought that she needed to take him home. He wanted to go home, he thought these people were nice, but he had to make sure his Mama was okay. He had to be sure. Kyier ordered the other man and lady that were standing there, telling them to go to the castle and inform the King of what has happened. The young boy wasn’t even sure of what happened. He watched them solemnly nod and then leave, the man saying something that made the lady hit him. And then his vision was enclosed with face and hair, at first no other way to see around it. Lucy stood in front of him, smiling softly to try and calm any nerves he may be having. “What is your name, friend?” She asked, and the small boy looked directly back to Kyier, his eyes silently asking if he should even tell them his name. What if they were bad like the others? But when his friend nodded, he looked back. “My name is Sebastien. Sebastien Burtenbach.” Lucy smiled. “My name is…Elisabeth. It’s nice to meet you. Did Kyier and Mathius take good care of you?” She asked, her voice soothing and soft. Sebastien nodded. “Do you want to tell us what happened?” He shook his head, “How about…do you want to go home?” He nodded. Lucy, rather Elisabeth, took Sebastien’s hand. “Why don’t you show us here you live? And we’ll get you home.” She stood up, and she smiled sadly at Kyier. “Please?”

Of course the Marquess did not wish to go, and if he did, he hid it very well, but he knew he had to get the young boy back his mother before sun set. So, they bid their quick goodbyes and wish wells to Mathius before they moved down the street. Lucky, too, Sebastien lived along the way. They moved quickly, Elisabeth trying to get Sebastien to talk to her while Kyier stomped on in front of them. The houses were all connected on this side street, all two or three levels, with white and brown side paneling. Nary a face was out this time, shutters were shutting, and doors began slamming, the town was closing their doors right now. There was one house that remained open. At first glance it looked normal, like it would as soon as the sun rose on a Sunday morning. The white lace curtains blew in the breeze in the open upstairs window. The flowers in front in the small yard remained colorful, the door stood shut. Elisabeth was going to move into the house with Sebastien, but Kyier put an arm up to her, and he went in instead. The sun kissed the western sky, drawing soft pinks in the remaining blue, and the first star began to show. They waited, sitting in the soft breeze of the evening, while Kyier checked in the house for danger or for the whereabouts of little Sebastien’s mother. She was not expecting the solemn look in Kyier’s eyes when he came out of the house, and Sebastien, who was picking a few garden flowers from the yard, didn’t see when he so subtly shook his head. Elisabeth nodded at him, and turned to Sebastien, her voice raising one soothing octave, and she said, “Would you like to stay with us tonight?” Sebastien looked up, and nodded his head, looking sadly to the ground.

They walked in a sad silence, the wonderment itching Elisabeth as she wondered what it was Kyier had seen that stopped them from allowing Sebastien inside the house. If she was not there, then he was sure to have just said it. But maybe he didn’t want to worry them, and instead he would just inform Sebastien later that his mother wasn’t home, and they brought him home so that he could be safe. She kept throwing a glance at Kyier, but she knew he was adamant of not saying about it in front of the lad. They walked in more silence, and she had her hand tightly in Sebastien’s. Kyier made them walked briskly. Now they were alone, and it was almost like clockwork, the howls began. They came out of nowhere, with snarling jaws and crazed red eyes. The sound of their padded and clawed feet hitting the round echoed in the roads. Kyier grabbed Elisabeth’s arm, jabbing her to move much more quickly. She held onto Sebastien more tightly. They ran through an alleyway, almost falling over a large canister filled with garbage, and suddenly it shot up into flames, the wall of fire blocking off the rest of the hounds. They turned down another alley, going through some awful puzzle, and they were nearly attacked by a hound from around a corner. It was fired back, like a shot, and an explosion, and it whined as it flew into a brick wall of another home. “Keep going, Sebastien,” Elisabeth cried nudging him gently forward.

She was falling behind, her head casting a look back over her shoulder at the hounds thundering behind them. Her breath was steadily growing more and more rugged, "Hurry Sebastien, go!" she screamed. The coming darkness was messing with her sight. Her foot snagged on the end of a wood pile collected for fire. Elisabeth stumbled, falling to the ground with a quick gasp of breath, the logs scattering. A cloud of dust enveloped her, but it wasn't enough to hide her from the hound's hungry eyes. Elisabeth's own grew wide, her pupils dilating as her life's memories flashed in between glimpses of the monstrous dog flying through the air, teeth barred and drooling. She covered her head, forcing her eyes shut tight as she knew the end was soon to come. Warm hands grabbed her, followed by arms sheltering her away in an embrace. Kyier grit his teeth as the beast's claws sliced across his tender back. He couldn't even scream lest he wish to draw more attention to them. His arm flung backward, unleashing yet another ball of fire that engulfed the dog and sent it skidding across the ground. Without saying a word, he hoisted Elisabeth back to her feet, not taking a single moment's breath to worry over his bleeding wpunds. He could hear her speaking to him, her footsteps close on his heels, "Shut up! There's no time!" he hissed, "Sebastien, lets go!" he yelled. The boy jumped from the dumpster which he had been told to hide in, Kyier knowing that the smell would do well to hide his scent from the hounds...

They were out of the alleys, now running for shelter near wooded areas, and the manor stood directly ahead of them. The hounds must have called Lady Anita and Lord Cederick to arms, the two rushing out in panic, fire and water together, to try and protect those who needed it. The hounds that remained were larger, the stronger, and they pounded towards them. Anita and Cederick stood guard, Elisabeth rushing past with Sebastien, and then finally, when she stood covering him in the manor stairs, she watched as the lighting of Magick shook the outside. Anita, Cederick, and Kyier ran inside, the three shutting and bolting the door, just as another beast tirelessly bolted against it. Three shakes, and it ended, the growling monster going back to whatever pit of hell it spawned from. Elisabeth looked up at the three, all of them standing around silently looking at the newest member of their household.
Anita, of course, was the first to speak, "Elisabeth! Oh my Gods, Kyier, Sweetheart! Are the two of you okay?" she cried, kissing her son's cheek before kneeling down to hug her god-daughter sitting in shock upon the stairs.. "What were you doing out past sundown? You know better than this, Kyier." Cederick's tone carried more surprise than scolding. The Marquess rolled his eyes, "Someone couldn't wait a damn night before escorting the boy home. I merely followed because Ma'ma is more frightening than any ferral beast roaming our streets, and if she had come to find I stood by while allowing the moron to travel alone..." Cederick sighed, holding his hand in the air to signal for his son to say no more. A small, barely evident smirk played at Anita's lips, hidden away from the two conversing men. "How is it you became lost, Lad?" Anita asked softly, "Were you split from your p-" From the corner of her eye, the Duchess could see her son subtly shaking his head, warding her away from the subject. Her heart dropped and she swallowed, "Well, we have plenty of rooms here." she smiled, placing a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder. She blinked, her gentle eyes of mulberry widening after getting a whiff of him, "Oh, dear me. I'm sorry to say, but you smell terrible, Sweetheart. she chuckled, trying to lightening the dreary mood. Kyier sighed, "That was my fault. I had him jump in a dumpster to hide his scent from the hounds. Anita nodded, "All is well, as it is, we do have a bath. I'll see if Lydia can wash up your clothes, and in the meantime... I'll see if I can find some of Kyier's old clothes to wear in the meantime. Come along then, Dear, I'll show you the way. The Duchess stood up, outstretching her hand to the boy, "My name is Anita. If you need anything at all, you need only ask. The boy noticeably gulped then, "Anita as in Her Grace Duchess Anita Lavinia Cross?" he stuttered. The small woman simply shrugged,"Oh, the very same I suppose, but that is quite the mouthful, don't you think?" she giggled, leading him down the hall. "So then Kyier is-" Anita smiled down at him, "My son, yes."

The Duchess rounded the corner, "After your bath I'll let you have your choice of bedrooms. I have a feeling the one closest to Elisabeth's might suit you best. It first belonged to Kyier when he was around your age. All his old gadgets and storybooks are still in there. Though...I dare say my son never cared much for stories. No, he much preferred his fathers reference texts. Oh! And if you stay in there you might have a guest join you. Feenix loves the old blankets in there. You needn't worry, Noir is the one you have to watch out for. Mean little bugger. He only ever took to Kyier, and between you and me, I think he saw him as a role model too." Her eyes shifted to the side every now and again, watching the boy take in the seemingly hundreds of portraits lining the candlelit halls. Anita could also see the sadness building in his eyes when he would look away. She couldn't know for certain, but she had a feeling the lad already knew the truth despite Kyier trying to spare him. She stopped in front of the door and heaved a soft sigh, "You must have been so scared." Anita's soft hand gently touched his cheek, "You're safe here, my Sweet." A little bell chimed in the distance, its sound drawing near with each swift step of the kittens paws, "Speak of the little devil." Anita grinned, pointing at the mischievous feline. She swore the tiny beast smirked just as her son and even walked with the same swaggered. All parties were silent until Noir came to a swift stop. His bright green eyes stared daggers at the two of them before hissing and carrying on his way. Anita noticed the lad jump just a bit, his eyes growing wide before a tiny little giggle escaped his lips as he watched the kittens little butt waddle back and forth with each snooty step. The Duchess shook her head, "Come on along, Dear.'

She pushed open the bathroom door, not surprised to hear the boy gasp behind her. The size of the room had always been ridiculous in her mind. "With the size of the bathtub what it is you would think we were all fat, no?" she smiled widely, thrilled that the boy did the same. A loud gurgling started from the walls, growing louder and louder as it traveled through the pipes until steaming water burst through the golden faucet. Anita rolled up her sleeves to put down the drain, adding bubbles and bath salts from Mathius' shop to soften the water. "There are towels on the sink over there, and for now Kyier's robe will have to do. I'll see what I can find stored away in his old wardrobe for clothes, and I'll make you something warm to eat, okay?" Anita touched his shoulder one last time, "It's okay to feel sad, Sweetheart, but don't feel lost. You made two good friends when you met my son and Elisabeth." she smiled, planting a little kiss on his dirty cheek. "I'll leave you to do the rest for yourself in here." She shut the door softly behind her, closing her eyes as so many thoughts swam through her mind. She hurried back down the stairs with a heavy heart... "Murdered? Cederick's whispered voice carried to her ears as she neared the living quarters. "I saw a woman's body laying on the bedroom floor clutching a bear to her chest. I moved her to the bed and closed her eyes, but we'll have to send someone to tend to her body." Anita frowned, knowing without asking that the were speaking of the boy's mother. "And what of his father? Kyier heaved a heavy sigh and shook his head, "There was a small urn on the fireplace mantle placed beside a family portrait of Sebastien on the shoulders of who I could only assume-" His voice drew quiet. "So he has no one?" Anita asked softly, stepping into the room.

Cederick held his hand out for her to take as she joined him on the couch. "Perhaps it would be best to take him to Molly-" "Absolutely not!" Anita interjected. "We can't just dump him off at the orphanage after all he's been though, Cederick. We have plenty of room here. He needs to be with people he trusts." The Duke thought differently, "Anita... He hardly knows us. Shouldn't we give him a chance to have a proper family? You know that you and I are hardly home nowadays. Our duties allow us no time for another child. The boy, now especially, needs someone who can devote themselves whole heartedly to him." Anita's eyes narrowed, showing perhaps one of the first signs of hostility anyone had seen from her in a long while, "And you think being thrown into a hall with twenty some other homeless children will give him that?!" she hissed. "How many children have you heard of getting adopted recently, Cederick? Especially one of his age. Molly does a fine job taking care of them all, but she cannot devote love to one in particular. He'd be much more comfortable here, with...with Elisabeth and Kyier!" The Marquess rose an eyebrow at the mention of his name, "Excuse me? That's...that's-" Kyier blinked, his heading starting to pound as his mother stretched to become one of two. His hand reached to grab tightly to the mantle as he felt the strength slipping from his knees. "Kyier? Kyier, what's- Oh Gods!" Anita cried as Cederick jumped up to catch his son before he could hit the ground. The Duke's eyes grew wide as he slowly turned his bloody palm from his son's back. "Anita, we need medicine and bandages, hurry! He's bleeding. His entire shirt is completely saturated." Kyier clung to his consciousness, trying to fight off his father trying to lift him off his feet.

"I'm fine, dammit. Put me down!" he growled. "You lost that right the moment you neglected to tell us you were bleeding out. Cederick growled right back. "Yes, cause yelling at each other is going to make this situation so much better." Anita chimed in, her feet gracefully shuffling after her husband with all sorts of medical supplies filling her arms and almost impeding upon her vision. Cederick carried his son down the lower halls, Anita hurrying in front of them to open the door to Kyier's bedroom. "How did this happen, why wouldn't you say you were hurting, Kyier?" The Marquess cringed as his father placed him on the bed, "Because I didn't want all this to happen. I'm fine. Would the two of you please just relax? I was just stupid, dropped my guard for a second, and one of those beasts took advantage." Cederick shook his head, "That is very unlike you son." the Duke sighed. His mother peeled away his vest and blouse, forcing him to lay down on his bare stomach. She pulled the basin of warm water closer and dipped in a soft cloth. Anita was about to sit down when Elisabeth quietly stepped into the room, her hand reaching to lay on hers. The Duchess turned, her eyes curious as they gazed into her god-daughter's own. She was silently pleading with her, that she could figure, but for what reason did she have to want to take care of Kyier? Unless... Anita's eyes lit up as the revelation hit her, and in that moment she had never felt more proud of her son. She knelt down and kissed his forehead and stood back up to take her husband's hand and silent pull him toward the door. "Hey... Wait! Where the Hell are you going?!" Kyier shouted after them. He turned to look over his shoulder, seeing that the idiot girl now stood there. His jaw tensed, "You have got to be kidding me. All that fuse over my life and you leave me to her?!" he screamed. "Please just leave me alone." he groaned. "I can take care of myself, and honestly... you're presence honestly isn't going to make anything better. I'd rather just bleed out."
Elisabeth was the one who stepped into the room, now alone with the Marquess. She could see how upset he was, and she knew he didn’t wish to be in the same room with her. Hell, he didn’t want to be in the same city with her. She knew this, and though she felt awful about it, she was going to continue to try and make amends with him. She had no plans on leaving, and now stepped forward again and kneeled down next to him. “Just relax, would you? No bleeding out for you today.” She took the bowl of steaming water and Aloe Vera and dipped the rag into it. “Just relax, okay?” She said, looking at the soft alabaster of his back. It looked awful, three large swipes now drenched in his blood. She watched him concede in defeat, and she rang out the rag, touching it lightly to his back. She watched the blood run like small rivers down the crevice of his back, and she cringed. She didn’t want to hurt him anymore than she already had. There was nothing she could say to make this better. “Thank you for saving me, Kyier,” She told him, “I can’t imagine it’s enjoyable or pleasant, and I appreciate that you’ve already done it three times.” She really didn’t want him to look at her, and instead she had to do whatever she could to make things right. She kept wiping up the blood, cleaning what she could. She reached for the salve that was left, and blew on her hands for warmth. She started to rub in the odd coloured liquid, and smiled to herself. “This reminds me of one time I got really bad burns on my arms from the stove. I was really young, but I think this stuff is the same that my parents used. I think they had to have it sent from here, and it smelled just like this…” She said. “Can I ask you a question?” She whispered. “Why do you hate me?”
~~~

With red, tired eyes, Sebastien stared straight forward at the wall, watching it practically move with intensified concentration. The scented bubbles tickled his skin, though he didn’t laugh from the feeling. He wouldn’t laugh for a very long time from now. He was a child, but he wasn’t daft. He knew his mother was gone. He closed his eyes, and he could still hear her yelling to him: “Run, Sebastien! And don’t look back!” And those were her last words spoken to him. He could still hear the awful woman’s cackles, too. Chasing him, she yelled obscenities. She was toying with him. She could have caught him if she wanted. He was fast, but he wasn’t Magickal. There was no way he could evade her. That’s why he ran into the house, hoping there would be someone home, but there was nobody, and she came in after him. He knocked over a picture and scared the cat, which he would be sure to apologize for later. He touched his throat where the awful woman placed her boot. It was sure to be red and swollen. Where was he going to go now? Did he even have a home? He wondered if these people would let him leave. He sunk over the edge, watching his soapy arms move slickly along the marble. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He dropped down into the water, welcoming the sting in his already pained eyes. He wished he could just stay down there, stay in the water and not have to worry about anything ever again. He watched the ceiling sway with the water, and was surprised when he looked past the bubbles and saw the Duchess standing there. He sat up, his mind pushing the thoughts previously consuming him to the back of his head. He just stared at her as she apologized, but informed him that she wanted to make sure he got settled in his bedroom. He nodded his consent, and she politely turned as he stood to dry himself off.

They walked down the hall, normally young Sebastien would have been taking in the sights, but in all honesty on the trip form the bathroom to this bedroom he merely saw the carpet that lined the wooden floors. In the bedroom, he looked around. Inside, he was amazed. But outwardly not even his eyes showed his excitement. There were trinkets all around the room, moving at bizarre speeds, globes, maps of the stars, rows and rows of books about philosophy and math and literature. He picked up an abacus, counting the stones on the different rows. “He seems really smart to have had this as his room. Are you sure he won’t mind me using it, ma’am?” Sebastien asked, and of course, Anita eased his worries. She gave him a moment of privacy to change. “I’m sorry that we don’t have too many sets of clothes for you here, but we laid out some of Kyier’s old clothes for you. They might be a little big, but they should keep you warm at least.” He tried to give her a smile, because she was just being so nice to him. But it was so difficult. He ended up just looking down instead, and he heard the door shut softly. He looked at the large bed, where the set of clothes had been laid out. There was a crisp, white shirt, a set of brown pants, and a matching brown striped vest. He wondered if he was supposed to wear it all. He put on the pants, that were too long, and the shirt, that had its sleeves fall over his hands. He looked around for a mirror, but since he didn’t see one, he just sat on the bed, and tried not to cry again.
"Would you like the list of reasons alphabetically, arranged in order from greatest to least, least to greatest, chronologically perhaps?...That means from time of occurrence, Half-wit." he stated curtly, rolling his eyes after gazing back at her vacant expression. Gah! She was so stupid, so infantile, so...so infuriating! Despite his every desire not to, the aloe her delicate hands was massaging into his back gave him chills it felt so good. The tingling sensation eased his burning flesh, his tense muscles relaxing into submission. A small, barely audible moan escaped him. It was questionable whether Elisabeth had even heard it, but just the thought of her-Oh, Hell no. "ENOUGH, GET OFF ME!" he yelled suddenly. "If you really want to thank me then just leave me the Hell alone!" he growled, pushing himself up off the bed. He snatched a clean shirt from his wardrobe. He could feel her eyes on him...watching him. His own narrowed, "You're sick." he hissed. "What? You didn't get enough when your eyes molested me in the shower?" Kyier hastily drew his shirt over his head, forcing it down over his saturated, sticky back. The fabric over his open wounds made him cringe as it tore across the raw flesh. I didn't save you out of any kind of fondness toward you. Not even pity!" he hissed stepping closer to get up in her bewildered face, "My mother would have my head if she found out I stood about idly and let harm befall you. She's the one who saved your a**, not me. I'm just the one who carries the scars of your fricken senselessness." His eyes burned fire, honest hatred reflecting down on the stupid girl. "Keep trying to get close to me and I'll gladly show you what real hatred is like."

He turned on his heel, slamming his own bedroom door behind him with enough force to unhinge a frame from the wall and send it splashing into the basin of water. Anita jumped out of the way just in time to evade her storming son, "Kyier? Kyier, where are you-" His footsteps faded as he drew further and further away. Only the sound of yet another slamming door cued her in to his departure. She sighed sadly, "He'll be okay." The Duke stepped around the corner, "We both know he didn't make a mistake. Our son doesn't have a careless bone in his body." Anita nodded, but her eyes remained unchanged. She was a mother, no matter how much faith she had in her son, it was in her nature to worry. She touched Cederick's hand on her shoulder and offered a small smile, "I gave Sebastien Kyier's clothes to wear. My heart breaks every time I look into those sad, big brown eyes. The poor dear has lost everything in the course of one tragic night... We need to do something about those damned hounds and the appearance of the castors needs to be addressed. My sister needs to know that they have thus far proven enemies. Enemies capable of murdering the mother of an innocent child with no one else in the world!" Her small fists clenched at her side. Cederick sighed, shaking his head. It was always so amusing to the Duke to see his wife so flustered. But only for a few moments, for it took the most infuriatingly tragic things to make Anita tremble with rage. "The boy has far more than no one, Anita. He has made himself the strongest, most gorgeous, kind-hearted ally I know." he grinned. "If it's what he wants, he can stay here with us. It's as you said, we have plenty of rooms." Anita's eyes brightened as she spun around and jumped into her husband's arms. "Oh, thank you, Cederick. You're wonderful." She kissed his cheek, "I'm going to go talk to Elisabeth. Thank you. Thank you."

The Duchess found Elisabeth still sitting silently in her son's room, her hands folded over her lap. Her head snapped up when she heard the door creak open, her eyes looking almost fearful as if she expected Kyier to have returned to verbally brutalize her once more. Anita sat down on the bed beside her, and without saying a word, pulled her into an embrace. "Oh, my dear, sweet, girl. You look like you've been through so much. I'm so sorry." she whispered, holding her tighter. "I shouldn't have been so absent." The more she thought about it, the worse she felt. Poor Elisabeth had been dragged from her home, her family, and was cast blindly into the madness of the inner kingdom. She had only seen the worst of Landon, "I know you must feel so hurt, pushed to the side and unimportant. I-I don't know if you'll believe me or not, but that is so far from the truth, Elisabeth. This isn't how I envisioned things happening. You finally came back after all these years and I can't keep all Hell from breaking lose for two minutes to get to know you." Gods, she could have cried. "Alphonse and Vivian, Cederick and I, we haven't been able to show it, but- Elisabeth I never stopped loving you, Sweetheart, not since your mother let me hold you in my arms. I'm just so sorry you've been through so much and I haven't been here to help you." Anita sighed, pulling back to look into the young woman's eyes, "Landon didn't used to be like this. The hounds started as one that was only legend. Then that legend turned to reality. The one hound turned into a pack that roamed the forests, and then a pack that began to draw nearer to the town. It had only been recent that they wandered into the city, and now..." Anita frowned, her eyes wandering to the window, "Now shadow castors too. It's as if the nightmares from our storybooks are rising from their pages." She shook her head and pulled his lips into a small, loving smile, "I won't let anything happen to you. I promised your mother that a long time ago, and I'm promising you now." Anita touched her cheek, "Cederick is having Lydia start dinner. Perhaps you could do me a favor? Might you bring Sebastien down when he's ready? He needs someone to hold onto, Elisabeth. Can you make sure he knows we are all here for him?" Her lips kissed the girl's forehead, "Oh, and of even greater importance...make sure he knows that I'm Anita, and under no circumstance have I ever been..." she cringed, "Ma'am."

Kyier used the trees as cover, his feet light and graceful as he dodged through the forest. The hounds had already been unleashed onto the town, so ironically, the woods were actually the safest means of travel after nightfall. Part of him wanted to run into a few of them, just so he could unleash some of the rage burning his insides. "s**t! he spat as the night sky grew darker overhead. Something wasn't right. "Faster." An eerie voice whispered in his ear. It moved like the wind, a warning. The air grew cold, crisp, freezing the blood to his shirt. "Get to the light." The voice sounded more frantic this time around, but Kyier was already doing the best he could to obey. He was losing too much blood from re-opening his damn wounds. Curse that stupid girl! Mathius cottage wasn't too far off now, but the Marquess was losing momentum. His legs grew weak beneath him as the darkness engulfed every aspect of the world around him. "Your path is clear, but they are coming. They can smell the blood. The light isn't far, I'll make sure it comes to meet you." Kyier fell forward, the hound's howls piercing through the darkness. Their paws pounded the earth, rattling the ground beneath him. "Mathius!" he screamed, using the last of this strength to shoot a signal fire into the air...

The apothecary rose his head from his knees, his green eyes wide with fear. He sat in the corner of his bedroom, his legs curled up under his chin. Mathius VanAelst had never been known for his bravery. "There is no time to be cowering. Your friend is in grave danger."
The man stood up, despite the awful weakness in his knees. He pushed forward and ran through the brightly lit hallway of his cottage, jumping over a hiding Artemis, and he bolted from the door. The area was mostly dark, and the street lamps were lit far and few between. He made his way towards where the red flare lingered in the air, and pushed back. Kyier lay still on the cobblestone floor, and he seemed to be unconscious. “Kyier!” he shouted, though his voice was lost not on the wind, but instead on the howls of the hounds. He watched the hounds pouncing forward, and then suddenly with a light shining more brightly than a thousand suns, it imploded around him, and the hounds went reeling back, shriveling into nothing but mere dust. The light sat there for a moment, like a glowing bulb, and suddenly began to fade into the distance, moving up in the air before it disappeared altogether.

Shh, I numbed the area, so you should barely feel anything.” Kyier had begun his awakening from unconsciousness, and Mathius had just got him into the chair in his laboratory and got the sedative and numbing agent into his flesh. “You’re going to be in a lot of pain, tomorrow, Kyier. What the bloody hell happened, anyway? This was not just what happened, what happened before? How did three wounds, which were clearly closing, open up again?” He looked down at his bloody friend, and shook his head at his stupidity. “Foolish of you to be out. What did she do this time? Borrow your hair gel?” He joked, watching his weak friend try to be infuriated. Despite his demeanor, Mathius was terrified he had been too late, and no prodded Kyier in search of a spark. He took out this medical tie and needle, cleaning both off in the serum, and going back behind him. “I have to, Kyier. They are open so wide, they won’t heal by natural causes. Even with a serum, I swear it. Bear with me. I’m going to stitch you up.” He went in and out, poking small holes and pulling the lace like fiber through to close the three large, bleeding gaps. Afterwards, he placed the healing gel over top, and finally covered it with gauze and tape. “Don’t do anything strenuous, now. Let this heal, and every couple hours take off the bandages, and use clean ones on your wounds can breathe some fresh air.” He shook his head, “Awful…I can’t believe you came out here. I’ll set up your bed.” He shook his head, going upstairs to do the same thing he had done for his parents. When he got upstairs, he froze, looking towards the door, where it swung open wildly. The darkness met him on the either side. He tip-toed forward, and shut it slightly, just as a beastly back passed the main window. He sunk down, doing his best not to cry.

Back and at Cross Manor


Elisabeth knocked on the door that was no far from hers. “Sebastien,” She said, opening to door and watching his hastily wipe away his tears. “Dinner is almost ready,” She said, coming down to sit next to him on the bed. He looked up at her, his eyes so saddened by his loss, “I’m not really hungry.” She nodded, “I can imagine. You’ve had a rough day. I bet though that you have never tasted food like this, and it would mean a great deal to Anita and Cederick if you could come down to eat. Come on. Come with me and when we get back up you can spend the rest of the night under the covers, and I will tell you a story!” Sebastien looked up at her, “I’m twelve. A bit old for stories. Plus I’m a man now, so…story time is for babies.” Elisabeth gasped, her hand rising to her mouth. “No! Story time is never just for babies! I personally love story time. And…so does…Kyier!” She said. He looked hesitant, and he wanted to release the rest of his energy, but he nodded. “Good!” She grabbed his hand, and took him down the hall. “Oh! By the way, make sure you call her Anita, and not Ma’am. She doesn’t like that.” Sebastien looked confused, “But my Mama always-,” He cut himself off and looked back to the floor. Elisabeth put a soothing hand on his shoulder, before she brought him in for a tight hug. “You mark my words, everything is going to be okay.”

They entered the dining hall, where Anita and Cederick waited for them, the two sitting down at their designated seats. Nobody mentioned the missing Marquess. Despite his tears, Sebastien had an empty stomach of a growing boy, and as soon as they could, he surprised them all by shoveling the food into his mouth. “Fis iz fo good!” He said, smiling for the first time. Elisabeth looked at Anita, both of them sharing a smiling excitement about the boy. “I guess you didn’t realize how hungry you were,” She said, eating rather slowly herself. She picked at her potato, unknowingly worried about Kyier. If he got hurt…again, if would be entirely her fault.
"Call me a fool one more time and I swear, having saved my life or not, I'll set fire to your sorry arse." Kyier growled, his hands clutching tightly to the railing as he slowly carried his injured body up the stairs. He rolled his eyes, coming up upon the coward shaking where he now sat huddled by the door. Despite his scoldings, the Marquess knew well that Mathius was more than happy to have the company. Cozy as it was, the cottage was only home to one. One who happened to be the least solitarily functioning person he knew. The guy was too damn gentle for his own good. That's what had gotten him into trouble when they were kids."You know... You really need to get yourself a mate." Kyier sighed, shaking his head for but a moment before his eyes shifted to steadily follow the hounds movements outside. "I got these from them." The Marquess motioned for Mathius to follow him away from the door. He offered his hand, but Mathius reprimanded him about how his weight would put too much pressure on the stitches or some other nonsense. "Oh, shove it would you?" Kyier grumbled, "I didn't come here for a damn lecture." His hand gripped the back of the couch, his vision dizzying. Damn. How much blood had he lost? He felt Mathius come around beside him, his arm wrapping around to support him. "Let me go, you dolt. I can walk myself." But the apothecary merely gave a flick of his eyes and a shake of his head as if he had heard the same a hundred times over. Mathius got him to the couch, Kyier snapping his fingers to instantly produce an orange, warming flame in the hearth. "The three of us were attacked after we left the boy's home. His mother is dead, killed in cold blood. She tried to protect him. The room was a mess, tables upturned, glass shattered all over the floor... evidence of her struggles. The castor hadn't been counting on that, I imagine. She was sloppy, one jagged stab wound straight through her aorta." He looked up at his best friend's wide eyes as he fell to sit on the couch beside him. "Her skin was discolored, mottled from what I can only guess was some form of poison. I laid her body on the bed. We should obtain a sample of her blood before she is put to final rest, I have a feeling we will be meeting that witch again."

Kyier leaned forward, resting his elbows upon his knees, "The boy, Sebastien, I'm glad he did not come to see his mother how she is now. He should hold onto his memories of how she was. From the sound of it, my mother plans on having him stay with us." He paused, nudging his distraught looking friend in the ribs. It wasn't often the Marquess was the one to soften moods, but seeing as his friend looked like he was about to burst into tears... "My mom has a habit of doing that it seems... impromptu adoption. I'm starting to worry she might have some kind of sick fetish." he grinned. "You don't seem all too scarred though." He sighed, sinking back into the couch, his face returning to its previous seriousness. "Mathius, the three of us were attacked by those beasts on our way back to the manor. The stupid girl, she lost her footing. I should have just let her be eaten." he growled, suddenly reminded of the throbbing on his back.

Anita smiled softly, her heart heavy. "Sebastien... Cederick and I were talking and we both hope that you might stay here with us, if you'd like, this is." She took her husband's hand over the table. "He and I, are ambassadors so we aren't always here, but Elisabeth and Kyier will be. You don't have to make the decision now, but we truly would love having you here, Sweetheart." The little boy nodded, but remained quiet through the rest of dinner. They all cleared their plates, all aside from Elisabeth who seemed to be off in her own world. Anita was the first to stand, "Elisabeth if you don't mind, I'm going to steal Sebastien away for a bit, show him around?" The young woman blinked, her eyes wide with surprise and maybe a hint of confusion that made Anita chuckle. The Duchess held her hand out for Sebastien, "Come along, Dear." Cederick watched as his wife led the boy from the room, "It almost feels like dejavu in a way." he sighed. "You seem a bit distracted, Elisabeth." he mentioned. "Is anything bothering you that I might be of some assistance?" he smiled warmly. "I know I'm not as energetic, as my wife, but I assure you, I too am very happy to have you with us. It's been a blessing to have met you. Your mother was..." The man smirked, "Seraphine was a dear, dear friend."

The Duchess walked with Sebastien's hand held in hers, the pair moving swiftly down the winding hallways as Anita gave mention to each of the passing rooms. She stopped at one in particular, "Do you like to read, Dear?" she smiled, opening the doors to the three story library. She pulled him inside, quickly explaining how the books were organized upon each floor. They came upon a cozy little sitting area in the corner with a couch and two big armchairs facing the fire. This was going to be hard, Anita knew. Saying the words aloud made the truth into reality...a reality that no little boy should ever have to face. Not only did the Duchess' heart go out to Sebastien, but even moreso to his dear mother. Sebastien wandered off in aw of the monumental collection of books. His eyes scanned the shelves eagerly, and while he was distracted, Anita turned her attention to the ceiling. "Lumos, I pray you, take care of his mother, and if you can hear me now, please...let her know that I will not allow harm to come to her son. That he will be watched over and has a home with my family." Anita heard the small swallow behind her. She hadn't realized Sebastien would find something so quickly. How much had he heard? She sighed, her hand softly motioning for him to have a seat on the couch. "Sebastien... Kyier found your mother and-" Anita bit her lip, kneeling down before the boy, "She- Oh, Sweetheart. She died a hero. I'm certain she must have taught you of Lumos and how when we die, the golden goddess is the one to come to lead us into the next life... Your mother's spirit resides in the heavens now, a beautiful angel with great big wings." she smiled, though half-heartedly so and filled with not so hidden sadness. "She'll never stop loving you, Sebastien, nor will she ever stray from you. I know right now it may mean so little, but she'll always be alive right in here." Anita reached out to touch gently in the place of his heart, "I know you hardly know us, and all of this is scary and just not fair, but... we'll be here for you. I just made a promise to your mother, and I dare not break it." Her hand rose to gently touch his cheek, her thumb wiping away a fallen tear, "You're not going to have to suffer alone, Sweetheart. Nor do you have to be scared. You have a home here if you want it." Anita stood up only to take a seat beside him. She drew her arms around the little boy, allowing him her shoulder to cry on.
And cry he did, the small boy heaved with all of the pent up energy and shed tears that he could muster. He had been waiting since he left the house to cry, only few tears escaping from his eyes after the chase through the forest, and now that he knew for sure of his mother’s death, he let it all out. He was so exhausted, his tears hitting her dress, staining them with wet. He couldn’t speak any words, the most he could do was lay there and sob because of this. Why him? Why his mother? And a part of him, he thought, truly was his fault. He would have given anything to live in a place like this, and now all he wanted to do was to go home. But this…this was going to be his home now. He felt Anita wipe his eyes, and he could feel her sorrow. “Thank you, Anita,” he said, strongly whispering her name, and sitting up as he wiped his eyes. “May I go to bed?” He could feel her watching him, and he hopped up, and made his way to his bedroom. Unbeknownst to him, Elisabeth was downstairs still talking with Cederick.

Elisabeth titled her head curiously, “Thank you. I’m glad to hear of it. I hope one day I can hear of your own tales with my mother and father. I hope they were…he, I do honestly hope they were as fun as Anita is. As energetic. Were they? Or were they…royal acting?” What was the right word? She didn’t get an answer, because Anita came in, her eyes red and tired looking, and as soon as she saw her, Elisabeth stood up. “Did he go to bed?” She asked, and without even waiting she ran from the room, yelling a ‘thank you’ to her host’s. She headed upstairs, going into the bedroom, where a sleepwear wearing Sebastien now lay in bed. Elisabeth moved close to him, tucking in the covers. “I know that she probably told you that you don’t have to leave. But if you want to, I’ll go with you. I won’t let you be alone, and that’s my promise to you, Sebastien,” She kissed his cheek, and watched his wet, sloppy eyes close in un-restful peace. “Sebastien,” She whispered. He didn’t respond. She sang to him a soft lullaby, hoping to ease his worries and send him to a peaceful dreamland. “Make my wish come true, let darkness fade to light, show me there’s still hope, show me it’s not over. Battles we can win, our struggle lies within. Will we live to greet the dawn? Love will not leave you. Hate will not heal you. Hope and one day peace will rain…”

Mathius just shook his head, “I have a plan, a new plan, to use a new mixture of poison as a sedative and see if we can lure and capture a live hound.” He looked over at Kyier, watching his face. “It could work. I just need a bit of their blood.” He thought about something again, and looked over at Kyier. “The boy, Sebastien, right? His mother was killed with poison? If I can get her blood, too, I would be happy to see if I can extract any ample amounts of the idealized poison, that way we might have a better idea of what she used, or who the witch was.” He started pacing now, “In fact! What if we can solute the exact poison and then use that to gain the Hounds. We don’t know if it was just the poison that killed her, or perhaps if it was just potent enough to sterilize her into stillness. Maybe it was just the knife that killed her. Do you think it’s possible?” He wondered. He blushed, “That’s sort of what you just said, isn’t it?” he laughed. He finally took a seat, his soft eyes glancing out into the distant darkness where the howls of the monster that plagued them sounded so deafening. His heart beat faster with every howl, and his palms began to sweat. He stood up, making sure to close the blinds and curtains on the window. He had never had a problem with them before, but he felt suddenly so afraid. After all, this was the first time a woman had been killed, and as Kyier was speculating, the Hounds were a part of the devilish Castor’s.

He looked back at Kyier, “Would you like me to have another look at your back? I don’t want you tearing your stitches, okay?” he pleaded. he pleaded. “Come on. Come downstairs with me, again. We have some work to do.” Mathius made his way downward, moving around the table and glancing up at the window that looked through the back garden. He opened one of the books on his desk and showed it to Kyier, a few simple drawings of the hounds, at different age cycles. This was what he had seen. “How far off am I? I haven’t yet really seen one as close up as you have, not all together. I’ve seen glances of fangs, backs, fur, paws, and eyes, but not all together, and certainly on different ages and on the bitches and the alpha’s, and he wasn’t even sure which was which. I have an idea that the alpha’s are obviously going to be bigger, with much more fur and hair covering their backs and manes, and the female I feel might be smaller, and have different colours. I swear I have seen a small one wandering around outside, during the night, and hollering. But every time I looked it was like it just disappeared into the darkness.”

Just like that, Mathius and Kyier studied books, notebooks, drawings and pictures, trying to put together any type of information they could in order to present it to the king tomorrow. “Hey, let me draw your wounds. They are going to start drying up tonight, and I want to get the worst part.” He had Kyier lift up his shirt, the young man quickly scratching at the parchment, just another type of drawing to add. A part of Mathius loved these moments, when Kyier needed him. Not that he ever wished for his friend to be in any danger, but these were just small moments when he was able to pay back his friend for everything that he did for him. His quill stopped moving as he thought about his younger days, and the memory in his head flashed by: “Kick him again! Look at him cry. Cry baby, cry baby! You’re so stupid, Van Aelst! The Gods hate you. That’s why they took your mother, because she was a whore and had you! Cry baby, cry baby! Not even your dad wanted to stay with you. Everyone hates you!”

He shook his head, clearing the awful thoughts he tried so desperately to rid himself of. “I’m done,” he told Kyier. “Thanks for holding still. Would you like some tea?” The two had been working for so long, so diligently, that not only had they lost track of time, but they ended up working through the night. Neither of them ever even took notice. “Well, that was a night. Forget the tea, let’s make b-,” And then a knock on the door startled him. They held handfuls of paperwork and scrolls, nearly tumbling them onto the table as Mathius answered the door to the Royal Messenger, standing stiff backed and unsmiling. This was not good news.

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