Namarai tasted the chocolate cake, it was delicious. Though she was the only one eating it as August and Unisia watched her. August folded his arms tapping his foot with impatience to her leave.
"Are you done yet?" August sliced his words with back biting between every one.
"August, why don't you go make sure that the lucid chamber is adequate for our Miss Reade."
"The lucid…chamber…for Miss…Reade…" August stuttered with crazy eyes as he laughed to the thought of actually giving shelter to this insect.
"You know what Houlwood!!!" August stiffed up like a peacock being territorial.
Houlwood stood from his throne and gracefully walked closer with a slow pace to August stopping nearly 2 inches in front of him.
"What…August." Houlwood and August stared at each other. August glared wanting to tear this castle apart as he dared to compare strength. August tightened his fist begging for some blood on his hand. He viciously turned the other direction obeying Houlwood's ridiculous commands.
"Unisia, do you perhaps have some attire that would be fitting for Miss Reade?"
Unisia gasped to the disgusting request as she nodded without any confrontation.
Namarai had never felt more uncomfortable in her life; everybody hated her and wanted her to parish.
"I'll take you to your room Miss Reade." Houlwood accompanied her down the hallways to the right and up a tower on the opposite ends of Tiere's chambers. He opened the door once they finally reached the top and Namarai's eyes glistened to the sight. It was indescribable. Everything was white with glaze, no spider webs, no dusty old furniture. Curtains trailed over her bed above with white lace. She had never seen a bedroom more beautiful and elegant.
"Is it well suited for you?" Houlwood could tell she was enthralled.
"It's amazing! I've never seen a room like this…" Namarai twirled herself around looking at all the art and paintings on the walls. Mirrors and poignant designs even showed their beauty on the rugs. She felt like this room was made for a princess.
"I'm glad you're pleased. Unisia will be bringing you some garments that you can settle in. I bid you a good night." Houlwood bowed as he started to close Namarai's room door.
"Wait!" Namarai quickly stopped him from leaving just yet.
"Why are you doing this for me?" Namarai needed to know how he could be so merciful unlike the others.
He placed his hand underneath her chin and stared at her with no expression. He never smiled but his eyes were so deep with demeanor.
He walked away down the dark staircase. She smiled and closed the door. She felt her heart flutter.
A knock on the door was made as Namarai happily opened it, a flung of clothes trampled on her face as Unisia slammed her door and left down the stairs.
Namarai's mood would not be ruined tonight; she made it this far from Tokyo. She knew this was where she was meant to be.
She put on a nightgown and slithered into the silky smooth white bed. A scent was drenched all over the sheets, a scent of rosemary. It smelled wonderful. Namarai fell right to sleep without any trouble. The moonlight shimmered through the glass window placing rays of light on Namarai's face. She was too consumed in sleep to notice that the moonlight had bled red throughout the sky making her entire white bedroom the color of blood. A bat crawled onto Namarai's window and watched her as she slept.
"How? How could Houlwood let this happen?!" August felt so betrayed.
"August calm down." Unisia was beginning to feel the disloyalty from Houlwood as well.
"A human! Sleeping in our home! This is unacceptable!" August could not believe this was actually his reality.
The next morning Namarai opened her eyes. The darkness was still set as she remembered it the night before. She walked over to the window to see why the sun never rose. The moon was still lit high in the sky with a blood surface melting around it. This place…this land…Elmbridge was forever a world for only the souls that roamed in the dusk times. Never the light, never for mortals. Namarai was still adapting to the thought that she was actually here. That this place actually exists. All those fairy tales and horror stories were coming true. Who knows how much of it was real! How far does Elmbridge go? Were there more of them? All of the sudden Namarai saw the swarms of bats once again. They surrounded the sky as if they were the black substitutes for stars. Then Namarai could see them fly into the castle walls. Thousands of them came from all directions. She opened her window to see where they were all going, they entered in through the windows of the thrown room and then she could hear them. Voices, laughter, hundreds of other visitors had arrived. The sounds were as if a party had started. Was this a little monster get together? What were they all doing here? More bats flew into the castle, Namarai closed her window just incase one of the predators were hungry. A knock was heard from Namarai's door. She gulped as she slowly turned the door knob and opened the door. It was Unisia.
"Houlwood sent me. If you haven't noticed we are having a banquet for the Elmbridge prelude. If you feel so inclined to join us here are some gowns I found convenient." Unisia handed Namarai the dresses as she started to leave.
"Um…thank you!" Namarai spoke rather loudly trying to get on Unisia's good side but seemed to just end up startling her.
"If I were you, I would lock your door and stay put. You might regret the thought of being known." Unisia advised as she pitied the daft fool for being here in the first place.
Unisia's words brought chills to Namarai's neck, an entire castle full of these beasts! What was Namarai supposed to do? She had intentionally come here for Tiere but Tiere was the least of her problems at this moment. She bit her lip debating whether it was worth the risk of her own life once again but she sucked up the courage and fit herself to one of the gowns Unisia had brought. She could see the flickering lights of fire dance across the throne room windows, there were dark shadows on the walls. Faces of terror she would only imagine under her bed. Taking in a deep breath she stepped down the staircase and to the hallway towards the throne room. The rocks that she remembered being from August's outburst completely vanished. The floor was spick-and-span for the new arrivals. Orchestras of strings were heard behind the doors, voices around every edge of the room. Namarai shook as her hand attempted to touch the handles to the two doors but she couldn't. Sweat streaked to the side of her face as she feared the moment those doors opened she would be as good as dead.
"I can't." Namarai lowered her head trying to shake the fear away but it was inescapable. Her whole body was terrified.
As Namarai started to turn around about to return to her chamber the doors opened. She looked to see inside as faces filled the room, men and women stared at her. So many people, so many creatures of darkness, though they put on the façade of a human's skin.
"Miss Reade, welcome. Do come in." Houlwood stood up from his throne as he waved for her attendance. The crowds split evenly for Namarai to pass through.
Namarai took a step forward as she swiftly came closer to Houlwood. Eyes among her from every angle, those red eyes didn't miss a single face. Many of the strangers whispered to one another as she could guess what they were saying. None of them stopped for a moment to take their eyes off of her. She felt like a walking tray of parfaits waiting to abrupt. As she took her last step to Houlwood she couldn't go any further. Frozen like an iceberg right in the middle of the mocked assemble she fell to her knees. She quivered unable to stand; she could feel the faces smile ready to dive in to their ritual dinner. Namarai covered her head with her hands shredding away all the nerve she pretended to possess. A hand was placed on the top of Namarai's head giving her comfort. She looked up and saw Houlwood on his knee with his hand on her hair.
"Are you afraid now?" Houlwood tilted his head certain she was a leap away back into the human world.
Namarai couldn't stand this coward inside her, this pathetic weakling who can't defend her rigid need to show that she can endure anything. She stood on her two feet and raised her head to Houlwood.
"No. I'm not." Namarai justified as she ignored the fear hanging on the back of her conscience.
Houlwood reached his arm up for Namarai to hold onto. She took it respectfully as he strolled the two of them back onto the thrones which she knew. Gasps were sounded like an alarm as the glares and defiant daggers were thrown from every person in the room watching this depraved setting displayed.
"Greetings my brethren, bloods of our families. I thank you for coming. I have summoned you here on behalf of Tiere Elmbridge's deposition. He has renounced his legacy to our dominion and has departed as we well know. We shall begin a fresh new heir starting before the next blood moon. I have yet to cast who will be our taker." Houlwood broadcasted as if he were hosting a show for night of the living dead.
"Tiere's gone?!" Many voices repeated in dissatisfaction to this appalling news.
"A new heir!" Echoes spun in circles to Houlwood's ears.
"Who's the girl?" A loud voice spoke over the others to appease the confusion.
Houlwood sighed knowing this was going to be a suffocating reunion.
"Yes Houlwood, why don't you explain to us all why a human girl is sitting in the royal throne?" August created a batter of unnecessary conflict between the blood lines.
"What's she doing here?"
"Can we eat her?"
"I can smell her blood."
Namarai knew her time here was limited. Only a matter of seconds before she would be fed to the wolves. Everyone was getting excited ready to take a bite.
"First come first serve!" A man jumped nearly 20 feet into the air as he aimed his destination right for Namarai. She could see the fangs grow from his sides as the lust for blood was screaming inside his veins. Namarai shielded herself with her arms knowing this was one of many.
"Ahhh!" Namarai screamed until she saw her loyal protector blockade her vulnerability and grip his hand around the free falling man's neck holding him at arm's length.
"What…what are you doing Houlwood?" The man struggled as Houlwood gave him no escape but to jiggle like a worm on a hook.
"Let this be a warning to you all, anyone who so desires a drop of blood that belongs to me will never thirst for anything again." Houlwood constrained the careless man as he tightened his grasp pushing the man's bones together without an inch of effort.
"Houlwood! Don't…" August knew what Houlwood was capable of. Would he prove to Namarai that he was the monster she feared them all to be?
Houlwood took pleasure in watching the powerless quarry squeal for mercy even though the ill-bred buffoon was of his kind. As he prepared for a pleasurable beheading he couldn't help but see how Namarai was coping with his habitual routine. He watched as her wide eyes started to sever their extraordinary bond. So fragile, so childlike, she was afraid…afraid of him. Something about her made Houlwood feel the same despair she felt to actually witness a murder. Though he deeply wanted to prove his point, he released the wild dog back into the herd with his tail between his legs.
Houlwood sat down in his chair and directed the orchestra to carry on.
"We shall continue this consultation after our traditional en l'air."
The mob of brutes were surprised Houlwood did not shack some blood for once at their gatherings. Astonished by this unworldly kindness Houlwood presented started gossipers on their chain of rumors. The men and women all took partners in dancing like an old movie Namarai could only dream of observing.
"How are you feeling Miss Reade?" Houlwood knew this was a hard calamity to take in.
"I'm alright. You can call me Namarai…if you'd like." Namarai painted on a pretend smile, Houlwood could see right through it.
"Come with me." Houlwood reached out his hand taking Namarai to a balcony just outside the throne room. She could see how far this land would go, miles and miles away.
"Houlwood…?" Namarai softly spoke.
"Yes?" He responded happy to hear her use him name.
"I don't want to intrude on you and your family. I know I'm a burden to you all. I'll find another place for me to stay. You've been so kind to me, I didn't expect that. And I'm grateful to you. But I…" Namarai panted as Houlwood touched her cheek with his hand. The same warm touch he did before.
"Not a burden. But if you wish to return to your home I won't stop you." Houlwood's behavior was surprising himself.
"It's not that I want to return home…it's just…" Namarai didn't want to say it.
"You're looking for Tiere." Houlwood finished her sentence with a slight tint of resentment for Tiere.
"I have to know he's okay. He's all I think about, you would understand if you had read the letters he had written." Namarai hid in shame as she leaned against the balcony railing.
Houlwood could see the suffering from Namarai's concern. Those letters brought a part inside of her back to life.
Namarai's face paled white as all the blood rushed from her face leaving her in a state of collapsing.
"What?" Namarai could feel her heart start to tear apart to these unwanted words.
"Well…he is a vampire." Houlwood lifted his eyebrow up teasingly. Namarai sunk to the floor realizing that he was just being mischievous. Giving Namarai a slight heart attack. Houlwood bowed like the gentleman that he was to the girl as he returned inside to his banquet.