The next morning…the dusk had come. Namarai didn't get much sleep after the incident with Unisia. She yawned and put on a beautiful silky dress, it even had a corset to go with it. She entered the throne room and saw Houlwood sipping a glass of red wine or… blood. He stood by the window peering out to the woods.
"Good morning Miss Reade." Houlwood took another sip not even looking at Namarai walk in.
"Good morning." Namarai blushed at the sight of him.
"I assume you slept well." Houlwood removed his eyes from the window and placed them on to the girl.
"Um…yes. Quite well." Namarai lied feeling discomfited to what she witnessed that night wishing she had stayed in bed.
"Seems you find ebbing vaults a complacent fit for relief." Houlwood could see the panic in Namarai's eyes as she didn't know how to explain.
"I heard screams…they were coming from the dungeon." Namarai did not want to hide it. She wanted to see his reaction.
"Screams…what sort of screams?" Houlwood persisted knowing the next words out of her mouth before she spoke them.
She hesitated but continued to speak the truth.
"There was a man…he had blood all over his body…something was killing him…like an animal." Namarai could feel the heart break of remembering what it was like to see a human life slip from her hands.
"I see. And what became of this man?"
"He died. He's…a..." Namarai didn't want to say it, she was afraid Houlwood would find it insulting.
Houlwood raised his glass as if this was a celebration to engage. He drank another gulp; Namarai could see his skin turn from pastel white to a succulent pink. It was blood.
"Was it you?" Namarai asked with a straight forward accusation. Houlwood stopped the blood from passing down his throat.
"Was what me?" Houlwood played along watching Namarai dither to rephrase the question.
"Did you attack that man?" Her stare was stern; he knew this death affected the grown attachment she tried so hard to create with his kind of sort.
Houlwood sat still with nothing to say. He couldn't help the way she made him feel about himself. Namarai waited praying that he was not the perpetrator that committed this cruel inhumane act.
"Houlwood?" Namarai couldn't stand the silence any longer. She needed his answer.
Houlwood moved closer to Namarai and took hold of her wrist. He observed the bite marks; she could tell the sight upset him.
"Well well…looks like you got more than you bargained for." Houlwood avoided Namarai's inquiry.
"Houlwood…don't ignore this." She pulled her wrist away through with waiting.
"What would you like me to say Miss Reade? That I was slumbering in my chambers during this wicked impulse of a merciless beast, that I have never killed an innocent pawn who happened to skip merrily onto the wrong shade of my checkered pattern, what is it you would like me to say Miss Reade… Do words ever stop the inevitable? " Houlwood had a fierce look in his eyes; Namarai had never imagined his response would be so dynamic. She understood what he was saying, he was who he was and so was everyone else that lived here.
Namarai choked her vocal cords subconsciously.
No…don't tell me it was you. Tell me you didn't do this.
"You know Miss Reade; humans can have quite the captivating fragrance on their own." Houlwood touched his fingers over her lips and across the side of her cheek.
Houlwood could see the entrancement illuminating above Namarai. Houlwood pulled the mesmerized girl against his body. She could feel his chest touch hers, so warm, so soft, his arms clasped around her waist. He lifted her chin up with his hand to match the level of his, those dark blood eyes swirled as their faces came closer inches apart.
"Houlwood!" August came bursting through the door with papers flying in his hands.
Namarai jumped herself back faster than Houlwood could notice he was pulling in a glob of air. She made a decent distance from Houlwood embarrassed by August's sudden rushed appearance.
"I know where Tiere is!" August skied in front of Houlwood coming to a short stop barely catching himself.
"These are the places Tiere has gone to in the last 7 months. Our sightings confirm they've seen him in the Forester parts within these last 3 weeks! This is our chance to bring him back! We have to go after him!" August was a scout with an operation. Wouldn't surprise Houlwood if he had already packed his bags.
"Not now August, it's early." Houlwood less courteously made it abundantly clear he wanted August to leave.
August couldn't understand why Houlwood wasn't as jazzed up as he was until he looked over and saw Namarai. Then this thorn in his side all made sense again.
"Ah…you're still here." August thought of a hundred ways he could end this little divergence between him and his superior.
"Yes…" Namarai lowered her head trying to not make eye contact.
"I forgot to mention to you Houlwood that Gildrin will be arriving no later then...my what time is it?" August looked at the grand clock sitting by the wall.
"Seems as though at any moment. I look forward to the liking you'll receive of your new little pet." August grinned tauntingly, striking fear down Namarai's airway.
August started to snicker to himself as he left the two alone. Namarai looked over and saw Houlwood's expression…she could tell this was a concern to him.
Is Gildrin a threat?
"Houlwood…are you worried about Gildrin?" Namarai put her hand on Houlwood's shoulder hoping to see if he needed some support.
"No. Gildrin is young; he will not interfere with my course." Houlwood said directly more comforting himself than Namarai.
"Who is Gildrin?" Namarai was curious to how they were all related.
Are you all siblings?
"Gildrin…is…" Houlwood hesitated, the doors to the throne room blasted open. A dark shadow with blazing hell fire eyes stood in the middle of the doorway.
Namarai felt a frigid breeze rush by her neck giving a hard stance to balance herself. This sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach was never so sharp, this man, no not man, fiend in sheep's clothing spread his mirage stretching out the cries of shadows that reached their arms to the end of the room and onto the ceiling back around to the steps of this satanic being.
"Gildrin…I see you've returned." Houlwood greeted the dark figure hiding from the pale moonlight.
"Come…I want you to meet someone." Houlwood reached out his hand gesturing for him to pursue.
The so called Gildrin did not remove his eyes from Namarai. It was happening again, the red eyes, the dark faces; she was flashing back all the images since her arrival to this place. In the woods, in the throne room, and now here it was again. She closed her eyes unable to stare back for fear of bringing back the same dreaded place in her mind she trembled in.
"Namarai." Houlwood's voice softly assured as she felt him touch her hand walking her closer to the ghost of Christmas past.
"Greetings Miss Reade, I see you've lost your way from home." A cold voice spoke; it was dark and didn't sound like any voice she had ever heard.
She opened her eyes and then she saw him. Her breath was taken back; she shook her head to make sure this was the devil she did not want to advocate.
"But…you're just a boy." Namarai was looking into the face of a small boy who looked no more then 13 years old. The boy's eyes blazed flames as he smiled to this mortal's abashed confusion.
"This is Gildrin Elmbridge Miss Reade. He is my son."
Silence was all that rang in Namarai's head as she tried to process these last four words brought to her shocking attention. All she could do was look at the resemblance from the two. They looked nothing alike! Houlwood was flowing with white locks touching the tips of his shoulders with structured and perfectly made features that no one could ever surpass him from her world. Then she looked at Gildrin. His hair was short, black and covered his face but you could still see his eyes in between the bangs. The auras we're implausible to correlate. Houlwood did not give off anything more then a veneer of an honorable knight in shining armor with a big heart. Gildrin's semblance however was that of a careless murderer that enjoyed wallowing in other's despair.
"Your …son?" Was all Namarai was able to spatter out. The shock was too much for her.
"Yes." Houlwood seemed proud of his offspring, wasn't nearly as wigged out as Namarai was.
"Tell me Namarai Reade, just how did you find Elmbridge?" Gildrin tilted his head very curious to how she could've possibly led him off track.
"I…I found out from someone that Elmbridge was replaced with a different name. Cristlin. Wasn't too hard to find you after that."
"Hmm…clever human. Well I do hope you enjoyed your private tour little girl but if you haven't noticed the Elmbridges' were kept underground for a reason." Gildrin bloodcurdling gazed as she could feel her flesh chill to the thought of him ripping her apart.
Gildrin grabbed Namarai by the throat off her feet tightening his fist feeling her bones start to crush together.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you Gildrin." Houlwood folded his arms without moving; he did not rush to her safety or threaten Gildrin to release her.
"Why not? She wanted this." Gildrin tittered to himself as he could feel her blood flow race trying not to lose consciousness.
"Because if you kill her then you will spend the rest of your waking millenniums with a step mother you created. Is that what you want Gildrin?" Houlwood calmly enlightened.
"You didn't bite her, there are no teeth marks!" Gildrin snarled to Houlwood's distorted joke.
"Are you certain? Perhaps you should break her neck then attest that for yourself."
Gildrin grumbled as he twisted Namarai around checking for any marks on her body. His hand still tightly gripping her neck but releasing enough blood flow to her brain for her to stay awake. Then he saw it, the teeth marks on her wrist. Gildrin dropped the girl to the ground without a moment's hesitance. The girl gasped for breath as she coughed for air. Gildrin turned to look at Houlwood. Their stare wasn't of a family bond; they were disconnected like they were strangers to one another. Gildrin glared at Houlwood and began to leave the premises.
"Teeth marks will only last her a short period father. Once they are gone you can guarantee I'll be there to finish what I started." Gildrin never lied, he always got the job done and Houlwood knew it. She would be in more danger with Gildrin here.