Claude woke me the following morning with breakfast before picking up the dirty clothes littering the floor and leaving the room. I remembered the meeting with the four new warriors. They all seemed tedious, and I got out of bed with not the most enthusiasm for the day.
After I had finished getting dressed, I had little less than an hour left before I had to go to Niklaus's room, and I decided to spend it in the library. But just as I opened my bedroom door, I saw an annoyingly familiar face.
"Good morning, my lady!" Lucretia said brightly, "I was just wondering if I could ask-"
I slammed the door closed. Holy Spirits, could she not comprehend the word 'no'? I called, "Claude?"
The door opened, and Lucretia tried to get inside, but it was once again slammed in her face. "Yes, my lady?"
"Keep her away from me," I said.
"That will be difficult, my lady," he said, his voice slightly strained even though his face, as always, was expressionless, "She is very persistent."
"That's why I don't want her near me," I said irritably, "There are twelve new servants, so your duties won't take as much time anymore. Just … keep her away from me."
"Very well, my lady," he said, exiting the room. I heard him speak, but I could not make out the words, and then there was silence.
But I had lost the will to leave my room. I was depressed because Syrus's violin would overpower me if it was used carefully: he was obviously older than me, so there was no telling what his combat skills were like. I hoped for the sake of what little pride I had left that it was at least not better than mine.
Niklaus continued taunting me throughout the hour in which he trained me and, despite the fact that I tried ignoring his remarks, they still sparked that rage within me that I had worked so hard to try and control. Whenever I asked him to stop pestering me about my revenge, he would tell me things like "Your hate will fuel your power" or "Do not be afraid to relish your anger, it will make you strong". I knew that if I continued telling him to stop, he would take it as complaint, and stop training me. I could not allow that, because I could physically feel myself becoming stronger.
I returned to my room glumly after the hour's training. Claude entered with lunch - a sandwich with egg, bacon, a beef patty, tomato, gherkins and cheese, like I had requested it - and I ate it like a vulture.
"Where are the new ones?" I asked between a mouthful of sandwich.
"Lucretia is attempting to break through the seal I put on her to keep her away from you," he replied, "Her brother is training with the elementals, Flynn is - as per the modern phrase - flirting with any female he comes into contact with, and Syrus is in the music room."
"Is Flynn any good in battle?" I asked.
"I cannot say that I have seen him in action, I'm afraid."
"I don't really get his power ..."
"Those cards were nurtured with Ceilos for a few years, possibly by his father, and then handed down to him. When coming into contact with the family's Ceilos, the cards cause great explosions. Luckily, as a form of caution, the family can also contain the power of the explosion, and absorb it."
"Right ..." I said, "Do you think any of them would be able to beat me in battle?"
"I highly doubt it, my lady, what with the pace you are improving at," he replied, "I daresay Lord Niklaus would soon start allowing you to literally train with him."
"What do you mean?"
"The training he is putting you through now is a form of preparation. It is improving both your speed, strength and your control over water. Have you noticed that, the more you use it, the less power your elementalism consumes?"
"Now that you mention it ..."
"It is like that with any skill. You see, Lord Niklaus is preparing you to become his equal. He has not done that in a long time."
"Since Lady Victoria Narlith."
I did not reply. I was sure that it is purely coincidental, but the fact that they continually brought up her name was really off-pissing. Was I supposed to feel bad that I look like her, and have the same name? Seriously?
I decided that I would ignore the mention of her name altogether.
“I’m going to train for the rest of the day,” I said. “Without the weights. I really just want to see what the others are like.”
“Very well, my lady.”
A few minutes later, I was on the eighth floor of the mansion. I entered the enormous training room, and was able to locate the new recruits fairly easily. Flynn was doing his pathetic little card tricks while several maids clustered around him, cheering for him. Lucretia Was right on the other side of the room, and as she set eyes on me, an invisible force seemed to push her to the nearest wall and force her from the room. Tyron looked around and his eyes rested on me.
He’s going to blame me for it, I predicted. I pretended not to notice him and sat down on one of the stands against the nearest wall. I saw the bulk of a man making his way toward me, and let out a dismal sigh. A few people’s gazes followed him, including Flynn’s. While trying to ignore him, I scanned the room, and my eyes rested on Syrus, who seemed to have been in the middle of training with a long sword, but he stopped to follow Tyron’s movements as the giant walked toward me.
“You,” Tyron said in his deep voice. I sat forward and rested my elbow on my knees, simply staring at him arrogantly. He was simply begging to see the ugly side of me. “What’ve you done to my sister?”
“I ordered the butlers to keep her away from me. I guess they put a seal on her, preventing her from coming near me,” I replied coolly.
“Remove the seal,” he said.
I snorted with laughter. “You’re ordering me around? Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?”
“The one who will feel my wrath.”
I saw his muscles tense and knew that he was going to strike a blow. His arm raised with the massive sword he carried and, just to prove a point, I trusted in the speed of vampires and called Sebastian’s name. In a flash, the butler was standing before me, and I could feel the power of Tyron’s blow explode on the silverware tray Sebastian had used to block the hit.
“Actually,” I said, standing up coolly. “If you ever try that again, you will be tortured and killed.”
“I advise you to obey Lady Victoria, Master Tyron,” Sebastian said, “She has quite a reputation, and is not above living up to it.”
“Is that supposed to scare me?” the large man roared, lowering his sword.
“It should,” I shrugged. “Don’t ever threaten me again.”
To my surprise, Tyron chuckled as he walked away. I did not think much of it, simply watched as he walked right to the other side of the room again. I could see Syrus smirking before he returned to his own training: sparring with a maid.
“Thanks,” I told Sebastian.
“Thank you, my lady, for trusting that I would get here in time,” he said with his legendary smirk, and left the room.
“Hey, that was really cool,” Flynn said, approaching me.
“Oh, dear Lord,” I said, rolling my eyes and sitting back down. He sat down, uninvited, next to me. Syrus moved to the targets, which were only a few feet from where we were sitting.
“So what’s your deal?” he asked me with a grin, flashing brilliant white teeth, ones that I wanted to punch out. “You’ve got everything you could ever want, in this mansion. Why so cold?”
“I just don’t like to be bothered,” I said deliberately, but of course the fool did not catch the hint. I watched Tyron train, sparring with a man-servant nearly as burly as he was.
“Do you wanna, maybe, watch the sunset-“
“Definitely not,” I said, “Sunset is the curfew.”
“What about if we went downstairs to the gaming rooms and, I don’t know, played a game together?”
“Uhm…” I racked my brains in search of an excuse. “I’m Niklaus’s ward. He won’t take kindly to me being alone with one of his warriors.”
“I’m sure he’ll-“
“Look,” I snapped, “I don’t want to have anything to do you. I barely know you, and I can tell you’re one cocky son of a bitch. How many girls have you hooked up with since you got here?”
“Hey, there’s no need-“
“I’m guessing more than five,” I continued bluntly, just wishing he would go away.
“Now I get why no one likes you,” he said angrily, and then left. I heard a dark, creepy chuckle, and followed it until my eyes came to rest on Syrus.
“What’re you laughing at?” I snapped.
“You are the first girl I have met with as little tolerance for Flynn as me,” he replied.
“He grosses me out. What’s your excuse?”
“He is a hypocrite, and a liar. I don’t take kindly to that sort,” he replied. “Well, good day to you … Lady Victoria.”
Just then, I felt a sharp pain in the centre of my chest. It was a pain so familiar that it hurt even more. A wave of nausea followed and I distantly heard Claude calling my name. I snatched Tio just as a warp formed in my vision, and I was pulled from this world.
Another wave of nausea, caused by panic, hit me as I started flying through the pitch black world full of people, strange animals and objects alike. I briefly thought I saw several familiar faces, but before I could label them, I saw the tunnel ahead, growing ever larger, until I was swept into it.
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