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“This wouldn’t have happened if you let me go with them!” William’s muffled shouts roused me from a dead slumber.
“You don’t know that! You can’t know that!” Lord Tiarna’s elevated volume snapped back, “I’ve already lost one son to the enemy, I can’t afford another.”
“I might not have stopped it, but they would have known what they were fighting!”
“It wasn’t worth the risk! How could I have known the enemy was here? If the general public finds out about the enemy, our enemy, it would be chaos. Thousands would die.”
“Thousands would die? As opposed to the thousands who are already dying? Do you even hear yourself? Your secrets nearly killed that Elf girl. Fredrick, a man you’ve raised since his childhood, is alive through divine intervention. Olvia, your own daughter, sleeps on the brink of death because your misogynistic ideas don’t even let you include her in your secrets. Secrets I only know, because they killed Benjamin.”
“Don’t you use his death as a weapon over me. Olivia made her choice. She’s old enough and strong enough to protect herself regardless of what I tell her or not.”
“She can protect herself? Right, that’s why the enemy that she didn’t even know existed managed to almost rip her throat out.”
“Remember your place, boy! You will listen to me and follow my orders. I am your father and your pack leader, you will show me the respect I deserve.”
“What if I don’t? What if I challenge everything you order me to do? What are you going to do? Kill me? Banish me? I might live a long and full life if I’m not around you.”
A door slammed followed by shattered glass. The soft feather bed and warm blankets beckoned me back to sleep. The japes of the argument below me continued to play in my head and kept me awake. I sat up in the bed letting the blankets fall away. The brace of cold air hitting my bare skin silenced the blanket’s siren call.
I could feel someone or something in the bedroom with me. I slid my hand back under my pillow and closed my fingers around the hilt of a dagger. I moved my eyes about the room, looking for what made me uneasy in the clouded twilight.
“I’m sorry,” A young girl’s voice chirped. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
My heart started racing. My eyes darted around for the source of the voice. “You didn’t wake me up. It’s hard to sleep when people are shouting.”
“They woke me up too.” Ophilia stepped out of the pool of black shadow beside the wardrobe. She clutched a cloth toy to her chest. Her bare toes poked out from under her oversized nightgown. “It’s scary when daddy and Will fight.”
“Do they fight often?” I loosened my grip on the dagger.
“Not before Benji left. After Benji left, daddy made Will help him more. They think I’m dumb and don’t hear them, but I always do.”
“And you run in here to hide?”
Ophilia nodded. “You’re the first guests we’ve had in a while. Normally this room is empty.”
“I’m sorry I intruded on your hiding place.”
“That’s okay!” Ophilia smiled, “You’re a nice adult, like Livie. You brought some new friends for me to play with. You can come here anytime you want.”
“You’re very fond of your sister, aren’t you.”
“Yup! Livie and Will and even Fred all teach me fun stuff, like hunting and fighting.” Ophilia flexed her non-existent muscles and dropped her toy. “One day, I’ll be big and strong like them.”
I stifled a chuckle. “I can already tell you’re going to be one hell of a fighter.”
Ophilia’s face lit up. “You really think so? Livie’s and Will’s lessons are funner than the history and manners lessons daddy forces me to take.”
“Fighting was always my favourite too. Can you tell me the name of your dog?”
Ophilia snatched her stuffed toy from the floor and clutched it to her chest. “It’s not a dog, it’s a wolf.”
“My apologies. It’s hard to see in this light. What is the name of your wolf?”
“Benjamin,” Ophilia whispered into her feet.
“Did you name him after your brother?”
“Uh ha. Benji gave him to me before he left. He told me he might not be back in time to meet my wolf, but this way I’ll always have him with me.”
Simon wrapped his knuckles on the door and let himself in. He carried a lamp and started lighting the candles around the room. “Breakfast will be served in an hour. Your clothes have been laundered and mended as we speak. A fresh set of clothes will be provided to you until yours are ready.” Simon spotted Ophilia in the centre of the room and gasped. “ Lady Ophilia, what are you doing here? I do apologise if she disturbed you, Master Percival.”
“It’s alright, Simon, Ophilia didn’t disturb me.”
Simon wagged his index finger at Ophilia. “Your governess is frantic searching for you, my Lady. Come with me. It’s time to get you cleaned up and ready for your daily lessons.”
Ophilia groaned and walked toward Simon.
“Lady Ophilia,” I bowed my head to the girl. “I enjoyed our conversation this morning. It was quite informative.”
Ophilia smiled and curtsied. “I hope we get to talk some more, Mister Percival.”
Simon placed a firm hand on Ophilia’s shoulder. “Do not miss breakfast, master Percival, your attendance is required.”
Simon marched Ophilia out of the room.
Wyanet, I, and the rest of our party filed into the dining room. Lord Tiarna sat at the head of the table with Will in the first seat on his left. The two chairs on Lord Tiarna’s right sat empty. The five of us claimed chairs around the opposite end of the table and a servant spooned thin porridge into bowls in front of us.
“Does anyone want to tell me the exact details of what happened last night?” Lord Tiarna gulped from a large gold goblet.
“The part where a ghost-witch tried to kill us, or the part where your daughter turned into a wolf?” Wyanet shoved her porridge away.
Lord Tiarna leaned into the arm of his chair. “How could I have possibly known there was a vampire there? The church told everyone that vampires are extinct. If I had known one still lived, and in my city nonetheless, I wouldn’t have allowed my daughter to go with you.”
I turned in my seat to watch Lord Tiarna. “You didn’t know the enemy had come here?”
William leaned back in his chair and hid a smile behind his hand.
Lord Tiarna stared into me, the corner of his mouth quivered. “What was that?”
“The floors speak.”
Phebes scooped a spoonful of porridge into her mouth. “It’s a good thing Per-ow!” The table jumped a few inches and she reached down to rub her leg. “What was that for?”
Bucephalus scowled and shook his head.
“You can trust me with secrets, Father, you know my daughter’s affliction. I trust your discretion in reporting it to your superiors, and I hope you can trust mine.”
Bucephalus kicked his chair back and leaned on the table. The table creaked and flexed under the minotaur’s considerable weight. “It’s funny, my company came to Crescent Moon Bay to hunt down a pack of Lycanthropes.”
William slid to the edge of his seat. “We’re all friends here. Let’s not be hasty.”
Bucephalus pulled his chair back and sat back down. “But we’re not in the business of political assassinations.”
Simon breezed into the room and whispered into Lord Tiarna’s ear.
Lord Tiarna tossed his napkin onto the table. “We will continue this when everyone’s tempers have cooled. William, we have business to attend to.”
The story will continue, June 18th, 2020.
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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)
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