The Bane of Rendsberg- Part II
Lucifer and his ward traveled for several of weeks in search of the place called Cuxhaven, where they would find his brother and sister. Although eager for the journey's end and what he would find there, Lucifer's sense of direction left much to be desired, and Cuxhaven was a goodly distance from Preetz. If it was not for Hans, the journey could have taken him years instead of mere weeks. All the same the journey took a bit longer than he had expected or would have liked, but he eventually came upon a dense woodland that suddenly broke off into a clearing.
There was a building in this clearing, and it seemed to be built on the scale of his own people. The dark haired Kobold raised his eyebrows at the sight. This was most unusual, since his people were not known for their building skills. They were more of a haunt for the places that humans had already established. In his own variety of Kobold, his people tended to scare the humans off and take over the place, then bar them from their return. In the house Kobold, though, they tended to be subservient to the humans. He was unsure why, but Madelyne Preetz had tried to explain it to him. In a way, he understood. He had found humanity fascinating, because they were able to create things from seemingly nothing. All the same to have a place built as such spoke of great arrogance. They were not creators, and they lived at the whims of those who built. The scale of the place was magnificent for one of his size. In human terms, the place would easily be called a mansion. It had high garrets and gables. He wondered if there were many hidden passages and rooms as stories said of such houses. His sharp eyes looked over the strange place. There were signs of recent decay being wiped away, as if the place had been abandoned for many years, and finally, someone took interest in it again. The windows and doors were cleared away of debris and foliage, There were signs of life about the place. A couple of dim candles burned in the interior and there were several well worn paths leading in different directions to and from the house. A well stood in the midst of the clearing near the edge of the trees.
He grabbed hold of Hans' collar and held the youth back from barging forward upon this new unknown ground. This foolhardiness is what got the elder Kobold into the trouble that he presently had. It was best to stay back and watch for awhile. The youth looked up at him with questioning eyes. The vampire shook his head. Hans sighed and yielded to his guardian's bidding. He would obey, even if it meant that he would mean that he would eat a half cooked meal again tomorrow night.
They stayed hidden and watched. It was not long before an actor of a drama appeared. A female Kobold with long brown hair was tied back apparently early in the night, but it was coming out of its bounds. She was wearing the traditional garb of her kind . . . a brown ankle length dress pulled over a white long puffy sleeved shirt . . . exited the house with a sense of urgency. Her round face was creased with a stern seriousness as she crossed the clearing to the well with a bucket in her hand. She pulled the rope up and tied it to her bucket with clumsy fingers. She muttered some very unladylike things as she fumbled to secure the rope. She finally dropped the bucket into the well with a resounding splash from below.
Brushing a loose strand of hair out of her face, she stood up straight and stretched her back as if it had been a hard day's night. She rubbed her red rimmed eyes with the sleeve of her soiled shirt. Upon closer observation, her dress was covered in dirt stains and what appeared to be blood. With a deep breath, she pulled the bucket up.
Lucifer went over all the reasons why he shouldn't approach this female in his head. He was a black haired Kobold, and thus, he was marked as an outcast. This female was not obviously marked in any of the ways of outcasts. Kobolds were not exactly nice to strangers, much less those that were marked by the evil spirits. He shouldn't leave Hans alone. Like his counterpart before him, he drew in a heavy breath. He had to remind himself that these were supposedly relations of Madelyne, and the Preetzes did not did not disregard him or push him out for his flaws. He was getting nothing accomplished standing out here in the dark.
He turned back to his smaller companion. Hans looked up at him with those wide hopeful eyes. Shaking his head, the vampire smiled. He remembered being that naive and hopeful. Hans needed a good meal and a warm place to sleep away from the dangers outside. Of course, being in the company of a vampire, kept most predators away. Lucifer ruffled the child's hair and motioned for him to stay put as he went ahead and investigated this female Kobold and this most unusual establishment.
Moving forward, the vampire evoked one his special skills and merged with the shadows about the clearing. No sound was made as he moved in closer. He stopped himself in the midst of such stalking. This was not a hunt. He did not feed off his own kind. He dropped his hands to his sides. He needed to go forward and greet this Kobold and be done with it. He drew in a deep breath and remembered that, after all, Madelyne had accepted him for what he was, and this female was apparently part of her family. She bore some trademarks of the family in her appearance.
All his instincts yelled at him and called him some amusing names, but he did what his head told him. He stepped forward out of the shadows, as the Kobold drew the bucket to the edge of the well. She turned slightly at the sudden flicker of movement and came face to face with a stranger. She jumped startled at his abrupt appearance and dropped the bucket. Lucifer moved with his uncanny speed to recover the fallen bucket and water but to no avail. It splashed and splattered onto the water far below in the distant dark depths.
"I'm sorry," he apologized and he moved to retrieve the bucket from the hole again. "I did not mean to scare you."
His opposite pulled away from him and blinked her black eyes at him. He continued on with the chore without noticing her look and hoped that she didn't notice anything out of the ordinary with him. Kobolds were not a very travel wise race in general. They usually did not leave their own domain, except to go to the Festival of Meetings, and that was only once every five years. So, it was most strange to see one that one did not already know or was related to standing in one's backyard. "Who are you?" she finally voiced.
The rope slipped from his hand and gave him a jerk at her question. She moved to support him so that the weight of the burden would not drag him into the well. She did not know that his strength was more than enough to cover the pull. He finished the task and placed the mischievous bucket on the ground before another mishap occurred. He turned to her and gave a half smile. Placing his hand to the back of his neck, he gave a nervous laugh. "I . . . uh . . . am called Lucifer Rendsberg. I've come searching for my brother Johann and my sister Hannah," he replied finally.
Her face clouded over with concern. A lump formed in his throat and he swallowed it down to the pit of his stomach. Was it a reaction to his name or was it his black hair that angered her or gave her anxiety? He took a step back, and the need to flee flooded his body, but he would brave her negative reaction. Running away would not get him anywhere near his goal. "Johann and Hannah are both here. Neither of them have ever mentioned a brother before," she answered levelly with er eyes narrowed at him.
The fear subsided, but he knew he was not out the deep waters yet. "Well," he stammered, then he took hold of his jittery nerves, "I was not exactly accepted by the family." His face flushed red and he added, "Black sheep, you know." He pulled at a strand of his black hair to punctuate his point.
She blinked at him, and the irony of what he said dawned on her. She gave him a winning smile. "And we always though Johann was the black sheep," she answered with a hint of a laugh.
The vampire laughed nervously at her remark, then the other concern on his mind came running into his field of vision. Hans had decided that he had enough of waiting out in the woods all alone in the dark with prying hungry eyes. He ran up to the two of them. He had yet to see an adversary that his guardian could not overcome, and one girl could not cause him too much trouble, and she seemed friendly enough. Somehow, she reminded him too much of Mrs. Preetz to fear. The female Kobold turned to the new arrival and smiled down at him.
"Hi there!" she enthused, "And who might you be?"
"I'm Hans. I'm with him," he replied happily as he pointed to the black haired Kobold.
Lucifer narrowed his eyes at the young one. "I told you to stay put," he complained, as he stood holding the bucket, "She could have been dangerous."
The female laughed full heartedly. "I'm not that dangerous, although your brother would disagree," she remarked as she made full eye contact with the vampire. "I am your sister in law Silsenya Kiel. I am the Kobold that was crazy enough to marry your brother."
"Oh," he answered a bit startled. A slight blush colored his cheek. He did not know his brother well enough to get the full gist of her statement.
Silsenya looked down and her features seemed to pale in the dim light. "He has been gravely wounded," she spoke. "I need to get back to my own brother with the water."
"I will come with you, then, since he is the one of those I came to see," Lucifer stated.
She nodded to him and led the two of them into the strange building. She moved to pick up the bucket, but the black haired one insisted upon doing it for her. Not only was he at fault for her losing it the first time, but he was vastly stronger than her. It was also rather a courteous thing to do for a lady. Besides, it was his brother she was tending to, and he should be helpful in such matters. He motioned for her to lead, and he and his ward followed. Looking up at the formidable structure before him, it seemed to frown down upon the interlopers in an ominous way, and the vampire was taken back at the prospect of what adventures might lay ahead of him and his own.