The Alabasters

The Alabasters

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Fantasy

Houses:

Summary

She snorted with bemusement. “Are you some sort of gentleman then?”
“Isn’t a gentleman what any woman would want?”
Now she laughed, sheathing her short blade at her side. “No,” she said. “This is Upovia. Women do not come here to find gentlemen.”
“Then what do they come to find? Disrespect?”
She frowned slightly at his words. “You think Upovians are disrespectful?” she asked in surprise. “Oh, then you have us all wrong.”
“Then explain it to me,” he said and added, “Lady Princess.”
“Upovians are passionate, not valueless,” she claimed.

Finding himself in a country that he struggles to understand, Prince Darrius Dontea sets out to get to know a family that did not know he even existed. Claiming a stranger's name, he finds a sense of freedom he'd never known before.

In this tale the many secrets of the Alabaster family will be exposed. They have many talents, flairs and gifts, but its their odd and peculiar way of living that holds the attention of the masses.

Darrius soon discovers that the Alabasters are cursed to love their First Loves forever. Is that why his mother had never been able to let go of Agustin Alabaster, the famous late king of Upovia?
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Summary

She snorted with bemusement. “Are you some sort of gentleman then?”
“Isn’t a gentleman what any woman would want?”
Now she laughed, sheathing her short blade at her side. “No,” she said. “This is Upovia. Women do not come here to find gentlemen.”
“Then what do they come to find? Disrespect?”
She frowned slightly at his words. “You think Upovians are disrespectful?” she asked in surprise. “Oh, then you have us all wrong.”
“Then explain it to me,” he said and added, “Lady Princess.”
“Upovians are passionate, not valueless,” she claimed.

Finding himself in a country that he struggles to understand, Prince Darrius Dontea sets out to get to know a family that did not know he even existed. Claiming a stranger's name, he finds a sense of freedom he'd never known before.

In this tale the many secrets of the Alabaster family will be exposed. They have many talents, flairs and gifts, but its their odd and peculiar way of living that holds the attention of the masses.

Darrius soon discovers that the Alabasters are cursed to love their First Loves forever. Is that why his mother had never been able to let go of Agustin Alabaster, the famous late king of Upovia?

Chapter1 (v.1) - Promises of a Tretian

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 31, 2017

Reads: 145

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 31, 2017

A A A

A A A

“You have summoned me, Father,” Darrius said and folded his hands in behind his back.

“Kneel before your king,” his father said in return.

Frowning, Darrius lowered himself onto one knee in front of King Eliass Dontea of Treetia Country. He glanced up at him before bowing his head low.

“You are my eldest and the king-in-waiting. Upon my death, you will be the king of Treetia Country,” his father voiced. “You may rise.”

Darrius rose and folded his hands in behind his back again. They were in the king’s library with a view of Lake Treetia before them. After his mother’s death, his father rarely used their bedchamber and mostly slept in his library. His father had always been organised, but of late he had become quite the messy old man. He was a man of sixty two years of age and the years had not been kind to him. His hair was fully grey by now and he was much leaner than he had once been.

The king shifted in his chair before looking past Darrius at the lake beneath. “Join me,” he said and kept his view on the lake as Darrius pulled a chair closer. He fixed his chair next to his father and stared out the windows of the Dontea family’s library.

“Is there a reason you have summoned me, my king?”

“Can a father not have a few minutes of his son’s time?”

“Of course, Father.”

Silence fell upon them and Darrius savoured the comfort he felt at his father’s side. The man to his left had taught him so much in his life and every moment spent in his company was something he cherished.

“I want to talk about the Country of Upovia across the Philantic Sea,” his father stated and his stomach turned.

He swallowed in silence and frowned. “I trust you have a reason for bringing it up, Father.”

“The Alabasters of Upovia…” he said carefully. “What exactly do you know about them?”

Darrius lowered his head. “I prefer not taking about the Alabasters.”

“Humour me. What do you know about them?”

“They are the royal family of Upovia,” he said reluctantly.

“And what do you know of the country?”

“It’s a small country with a loud voice. Quite different to the countries that surrounds it.”

“Different?”

“To me, it’s a country for the sinners.”

His father snorted. “For the sinners?” he asked, bemused. “Well, that is not true. Why would you say such a thing?”

“They drink to write poetry and they write poetry because they drink. The dance scandalously and their music is appallingly loud. They fornicate without shame… Shall I go on?”

His father’s smile slightly faded. “Do you know what it is called to live like that, Prince Darrius? It’s called being free, my son…”

“But I am free and everyone in our country is free as well.”

His father nodded. “Yes,” he agreed, “we are free. But we do not live freely.”

“I do not live freely because I do not drink and fornicate my days away?”

“Well, I at least know that you have fornicated a bit in your life.”

The words made his eyes close as he kind-heartedly laughed at his father. “Apparently the walls have eyes and ears,” Darrius observed. “Is this a lesson on my indiscretions? It will be a short one since I don’t have many.”

“This is not a lesson, Son. I am merely having a conversation with you.”

Darrius nodded his head, a smile still present on his lips. “Why does our conversation include the royal family of Upovia? You know how I feel about them…”

“I know that you prefer not to talk about the Alabasters. It’s understandable… But do you know what Agustin Alabaster did with that country, Darrius?”

“He took a country from a king without a war,” he answered shortly.

“Agustin saw a country that was being ruled by selfish royals and nobles. But the nobles were only a quarter of the country… The other three quarters consisted of the poor, but yet humble, folk that were denied the opportunities of growth and development. With the masses on his side, Agustin Alabaster led a rebellion against the king and, as you know, he won.”

“Are you sure this is not a lesson, Father?”

“He was a leader of a rebellion that changed thousands of lives, Darrius. He brought movement and change to a corrupt country. He offered his people freedom and individualism. Once he was king, King Agustin Alabaster encouraged the arts and inspired the poets. He taught his people that they could live freely because their county could take care of them. It’s not a big country, but he was able to enrol all the children into schools within only a few years after he had been crowned king. He took it upon himself to cultivate his people. He had even built theatres for the writers of dramas and warehouses for the artists of the visual arts. He was a man with an endless passion for life.”

“Was it his passion for life that got him murdered?” Darrius asked, his voice low and raw.

He did not particularly enjoy the conversation they were having and his question had silenced his father. The king stared at Darrius with pity in his gaze, with sympathy that Darrius had not asked for. Whenever his father would bring up the Alabasters, Darrius would always get that same look from his father. It was the kind of sympathy that had always torn at his heart, even if he did not want it to.

His father cleared his throat before continuing. “The popular king of Upovia’s assassin had not been captured and I wonder if they ever would… But in the three years after his death, his son had been able to keep his spirit alive. The young Blaise Alabaster is a good king today. He is fair and he has continued his father’s ways, but he is different… more peculiar in his ways.”

“I was not aware of the vast admiration you had for the late king of Upovia and his children.”

He hated that his toned sounded childish and jealous.

“I do admire the Alabasters,” his father admitted. “I have respect for the movement of freedom that they had led. I want you to remember that once I am gone… But the reason I respect them the most is because their blood runs in your veins. As you know, you are an Alabaster yourself.”

Darrius shook his head. “No… My name is Prince Darrius Dontea,” he said. “To me and to my country, I am the eldest son of King Eliass Dontea and Queen Dayna Dontea. My family is here. My brother is here. I will never leave this country to cross the Philantic Sea, and if I ever do, it will not be to unite with the Alabasters.” 

“I don’t have much time left in this world, Darrius…” his father said softly. He lowered his head and they sat in silence for a few seconds. When he did not say anything, his father continued. “After your mother’s death, you and I were the only two left that knew of your true linage.”

He swallowed uneasily as heat touched his ears. “I’ve been thinking a lot about it… About that day she told me the truth in this same library.”

“It’s been many years since that day…” his father observed, shaking his head unbelievingly before looking at Darrius down the length of his nose. “You will be the only one that knows once I am gone. The only one carrying our secret.”

“To be honest, the thought thereof is quite unbearable.”

The king held his eyes while a silence stretched between them. “You have family in Upovia, Son.”

Darrius frowned. “Why are we even discussing this? You know I have never had any interest in knowing them.”

“They are a large family… You have a half-brother and a half-sister. You have cousins…”

Darrius shook his head fiercely. “I don’t want to know anything about them. My life is here, not there.”

“Don’t you like the thought of having more family?”

“No,” he said. “I’ve made my peace with the path that has been chosen for me.”

“Yes…a path that has been chosen for you.”

“I am going to be the king of Tetria,” Darrius said, his voice clear. “You have named me as your heir even though I am not your son by blood... You have chosen me and I have accepted it.”

“I named you my heir because, to me, you are my eldest. You are my son…blood doesn’t change that for me. I have raised you and I have shaped you. You are going to be an outstanding ruler and I regret that I am not going to be here to see it.”

“But what of my brother?” he asked. “Eli deserves the crown more than I do. Your blood runs in his veins.”

“Eli Dontea would be the perfect king,” his father said carefully. “He is my son by blood, unlike you…but I have made my choice and I want to hold you to it.”

“Hold me to it?”

“There is nothing that stops you from abdicating once I am gone, nothing that stops you from handing the throne to your brother.” 

“To hand the crown to your true son would be the honourable thing to do. Is that not what you have shaped me into being? An honourable man?”

“An honourable man does not break promises and you have made many to me and your mother.”

“Are you worried that I would leave Eli? King or not, I will never leave my brother.”

“Promise me,” his father insisted.

“I promise you, father,” Darrius said without hesitation. “I will take care of Eli and I will take care of our country.”

“And what if temptation comes knocking?”

“Temptation?”

“The temptation of knowing the wild, untameable Alabasters.”

Darrius glanced at his father. “I have no desire to know them. We are too different, in fact, worlds apart.”

“If you ever meet them, you will feel different.”

“It doesn’t matter. I have made promises.”

His father was quiet for a long time before he finally nodded his head and ultimately met eyes with him again. “Remember your promises, Prince Darrius Dontea.”

He rose from his chair and bowed low in front of his king. Slowly lifting his head, he gazed up at his father. “I have sworn my loyalty to you. Nothing will ever alter my devotion to you or to this country.”

They held each other’s gazes for quite some time but looked away once the door to the library swung open. His young brother, Prince Eli Dontea, stepped into the room and smiled with his olive green eyes once he noticed Darrius on his knees in front of their father.

“Well, aren’t the two of you quite the picture,” he said and closed the door behind him.

“Both my sons at my side,” King Eliass rejoiced as Darrius rose to his feet. “It truly is a wonderful morning. Prince Eli, come in, come in.”

Eli moved closer and joined Darrius’ side. He bowed low in front of their father and lifted his head with a proud smile. “You look well this morning, father,” he said.

“I have both my boys with me, I am as happy as can be.”

The joy on his father’s face was returned by Eli’s smile. The two of them never looked more alike than in that particular moment. Eli had gotten all of their father’s features, sharing his ash brown hair and olive green eyes. They had the same build too, tall and slender. Darrius had none of those features. He might be tall as well, but his shoulders were much broader. It was a good quality for a future king to have, but he longed to look like them, longed to share blood with the gentle father that eagerly reached him. Taking Darrius’ hand into his own, he squeezed it reassuringly and grinned with satisfaction at the two men that he had raised.

 

 

On King Eliass Dontea’s day of funeral, nobles all over Treetia Country and their neighbouring countries came to sympathise with Darrius and his brother. Even though they had known their father’s days had been numbered, losing him had still been a shock to them both. As he had expected, Eli was completely devastated. Eli was completely overcome by his grief and he had never seemed younger to Darrius than in those days that followed their father’s death. Eli was eighteen years of age which made Darrius eight years older than him at the age of twenty six. Even though the death of Eliass Dontea had wrecked his heart, he stood firm as Eli leaned on him for strength. The death of their father had brought them even closer and Darrius cherished the bond he shared with his half-brother. They faced each day after their father’s death together. Wherever he would go, his young brother would follow beside him.

The funeral had lasted for hours as each king of their neighbouring countries took a turn to say their farewell. Eli had decided that he wanted to speak and address their neighbours, but as his turn came he was unable to voice the heartfelt words he had written down about their father. Darrius had taken his words and had read them aloud on his brother’s behalf. That moment they shared as brothers had brought tears to every eye in the great hall of the castle.

As the day had faded and after hours of grieving, they had shared a feast of fine foods with the nobles of their country. The two princes remained in the great hall until every noble had stopped at their table before departing to their chambers.

At the end, they were the only two left. The servants moved around them and cleared the tables one by one. Soon they were gone as well and the castle quieted down around them.

Staring at the empty tables and lifeless hall, Darrius loosened a breath before turning his attention to Eli. He glanced at his red eyes and swollen face before lowering his gaze again.

“Your coronation will take place while the nobles of Treetia are visiting the castle,” Eli said softly, finally breaking the silence between them.

“It can wait while we grieve our father,” Darrius replied.

Eli shook his head. “We should not show weakness now. It leaves us vulnerable. We should crown you and make sure the lands of peace know that they have a king.”

“And keep the peace,” he confirmed.

“Our lands are known for it after all… But sometimes I wonder about the fragile peace we keep.”

“The fragile peace?”

Eli was quiet before he spoke again. “I should not question father’s ways.”

“I am the only one listening. You can speak freely.”

Eli hesitated a moment longer. “There is unrest in the East… With father gone it is only going to get worse.”

“Once I am crowned, I will meet with our neighbours to the East and settle it.”

“Some kings find peace to be tedious,” Eli stated. “They are challenging our traditions and customs. They want change. War is the only way to get what they want.”

“Killing thousands of people are not the way to bring about change… Besides, they don’t have our numbers and they know it.”

“They have enough numbers to create chaos. Father once told me some kings flourish when their countries are in disorder. Maybe that will be true for our neighbours.”

As he listened to his brother speak, a young face stopped in the entrance of the great hall. Her light blue eyes moved back and forth between the two of them as a grin touched her thin lips.

“It’s late…” Darrius said. “We’ll take the matter up with our council in the morning. For now you should tend to your woman.”

Lady Rosali waved at him and Eli, her eyes ultimately resting on his brother. She was fair and had long, burning red hair, but her young spirit was Darrius’ favourite quality of her. At the sight of the lady at the door, his brother’s sullen mood seemed to be lifting. A small smile caught Eli’s mouth as he stood from his chair.

“She’s lovely,” Darrius murmured between the two of them.

Eli looked down at him with a broadened smile. “She is the woman I am going to marry.”

“Thinking of marriage at your young age?”

“Love does not care about age.”

“Love?” Darrius wondered out loud.

“You should allow yourself to explore the sensation thereof,” Eli said shamelessly. “Or are kings not allowed to love freely?”

Even after Eli and Rosali had left the hall, Eli’s words still lingered. He had always thought of himself as free, but after the conversation he had had with his father a few days before his death, he was not sure what it meant to truly live and love freely. He had led a controlled life within an environment of tradition. He valued his customs, cherished every one of them, but maybe Agustin Alabaster had been right to break free of the norm... He had openly declared traditions as the restrictions of life. Maybe he had been right, but Darrius could not imagine his life without the customs that his forefathers had embodied.

Sitting alone at their family’s table, Darrius allowed his grief to find him. Wrought with the loss of the only father he had ever known, Darrius closed his eyes and rested his head on one of his arms. Clutching his burning eyes closed, he listened to his heart beat in his ears. As if Clara could sense his sorrow, the bobcat came trailing into the great hall. Darrius could hear the wild cat moving closer, coming to sit next to his chair. With his head still resting on his arm, he reached down with his other hand to touch her head. Clara had been a gift from his father and she was about a year old by now. Fingering her behind her ear, she softly began to purr. The sound of the cat’s appreciation for his touch offered him a sense of comfort that he could not explain.

They remained next to each other for quite a while, finding comfort in one another, but ultimately Clara growled next to his seat.

Darrius lifted his head with concern.

“I did not know that kings could cry,” a woman said, sitting in a chair at the opposite side of the table. Alarmed, Darrius stared at her. She had inky, black hair that rolled down her shoulders and her dark brown eyes looked at him in wonder. The nails of the hand that rested on the table between them were painted black and were chipped.

Darrius did not care to wipe away the tears that rested in his eyes, he kept them there as he watched the woman in front of him. She could not be more than a year of two older than him.

“It’s late…” he began. “What can I help you with, Stranger?”

“Oh, Darrius…” she mumbled and lifted two fingers to tap them on her pulse three times. “There are loads you can help me with but you won’t do any of it willingly.”

“How did you get in here?” he asked, trailing his eyes over the black dress she wore.

“I have my ways…” she said and shrugged lazily. “Ways you are not going to like or understand.”

“What do you want from me?”

“It’s not really about you and me, Darrius. It’s about a promise that I made to your father.”

“I have made many promises to the king as well, promises that I intent to keep.”

The woman rolled her dark eyes and snorted mockingly. “Your king has been able to keep you away from me for a very long time… But the time has finally come for us to meet,” she said and rose to her feet.

“To meet?” he mused. “Then you should introduce yourself.”

She leaned over the table between them, pressing down on it with her chipped, black nails. “My name would not matter to you because your mother had made sure you do not know the Obsidian family even existed.”

He blew out a breath. “Is there something you would like to say to me then? If you don’t mind, I would like to turn in for the night.”

She smiled artfully. “I need the world to go dark, Darrius. Will you help me?”

He stared at her, taken aback. “Excuse me?”

“The darker the world becomes…the more beautiful the light of the fire will be.”

He snorted, his face sore and swollen. “Do not involve me in your darkness, Miss. I do not want any part in it.”

Her brow furrowed, her mouth still hinting at a curious smile. “You don’t?”

Darrius frowned at the woman, already declaring her as insane. “Miss, I have had a long day… And it’s late.”

“It’s not too late,” she suddenly said, her eyes staring past him into nothingness. “I am not too late.”

“Well, it’s too late for me,” he declared and rose from his chair. When he lifted his head, he found her fumbling with her dress, murmuring to herself beneath her breath. Staring at the rambling young woman, Darrius frowned once more.

She fixed her gaze on him. “Your brother is in dire need of you.”

He placed his hands on the table. “I know that Eli is-”

“But I suspect that your sister might just need you more.”

And then he moved.

The woman shot away from him, circling around the table as he approached. Clara caught onto his distress, the hair on her back rose and a low growl sounded in warning. The woman’s laughter filled the great hall as she backed away from them, not fazed by their pursuit.

“I do not have a sister,” he said, calmly.

“You are not a good liar!” she said with laughter in her voice. “Dayna Fitzreese should have known better than to make an honourable man out of you! It does not suit the blood in your veins!”

“Do not speak of my mother,” he barked.

“She is Dayna the Betrayer!”

“Stop it!”

“She never even told your father about you, Darrius!” she claimed, causing the hair on his neck to rise. “He devoted his life to his children. He needed to make them powerful, but he failed miserably. It got him murdered instead...” She stopped backing away, fumbling with her dress once more. “Your mother was a psychotic liar, Darrius Dontea. Do you know how many times he asked her whether you were his son or not?” Darrius paused. “She lied to him every time… Even when he needed her to be brutally honest, even when the lives of his children depended on it, she still denied it. Without even blinking a fucking eye, she outright betrayed him and he fell for it every time.”

“I would never resent my mother for keeping him away from me. She gave me a much better father than Agustin Alabaster.”

She took in what he said, cocked her head to the side and sniffed loudly. “The truth could have saved them both, you know...”

“Saved whom?”

“If Agustin had not been so blind to your mother’s lies…then maybe they both would still be alive.”

“That would not have stopped my mother’s heart from failing!” he declared.

She looked him over with her dark eyes and he found pity staring back at him. “You do not know a lot about the Alabaster Family, do you?”

“I know enough.”

“Did you know that Alabasters love their First Loves obsessively for the rest of their lives…? Don’t you find it odd that your mother died the same day as Agustin? That tends to happen when First Loves still love each other obsessively, and especially when they have a child together. Not always, but sometimes. I should have known then, but I was as blinded by your mother’s lies as Agustin was at that time.”

Darrius remained silent, glaring at the darkling in front of him as he searched for words. The right words…any words.

“Your blood is cursed, Darrius,” she said and finally stopped fumbling with her dress. She lifted her hand and held a black phial between her finger and thumb. “No matter how far you run, you are an Alabaster whether you like it or not. You won’t love easily, but the day you do…” She clicked her tongue and shook her head at him.

“I want you to leave,” he warned, eyeing the phial she held in her hands.

Darrius was ready for whatever she might challenge him with next, but she completely surprised him when sudden tears filled her eyes. Her mouth smiled broadly, but her breathing was accelerating. As if agitated, she tapped her pulse three times.

“What is wrong with you?” he dared.

“A lot,” she snapped as she spilled the black powder over palm. “Well, and I suspect I am finally losing my sanity.”

“Finally?”

She lifted her eyes to his. “It doesn’t matter. I started this, therefore I will end it.”

He opened his mouth to speak, but a salty tang covered his tongue as the black powder stung his eyes.

 

 

 

When Darrius became aware of his surroundings, he found his hands and feet to be tied together. He opened his eyes and stared around in a windowless, crammed room with a wooden floor. To his left, he found his bobcat, Clara, and to his right was a woman with long, blonde hair. They were both unconscious. His eyes trailed over the woman, but she was not someone he recognised. Pulling on his restrains, Darrius noticed the circle that had been etched into the wooden floor around the three of them.

“Clara?” he whispered in his cat’s direction.

“I know better than separating an Alabaster from his pet,” a voice said behind him.

Jerking his head back, he rested his eyes on the dark woman he had met in the great hall. She was standing just outside the circle.

“What do you think you are doing?” Darrius demanded.

“I made Agustin Alabaster a promise.”

To his own surprise, Darrius laughed out loud at her words. “A promise?”

“Did I tell you that I knew your mother? She hated me, of course.”

“Stop talking about my mother.”

She lowered her head and sighed loudly. “We only have a minute or two before midnight, Prince Darrius. I would advise you to spend your time with me wisely. Do you have any questions before you go?”

“Go? Go where?”

“The portal will take you to Upovia Country once midnight arrives.”

“Portal?”

“The circle around you.”

“That is not possible!”

“This is probably the last time you will see me, Darrius Alabaster. I would encourage you to use this time and ask me any questions that you might have.”

Starting to shake, Darrius tugged on his restraints while he spoke. “How can I trust anything that you say?”

“I have no reason to lie to you,” she said casually.

His next question even surprised himself. “How did you know that I am Agustin’s son?”

“I’ve never been sure that you are,” she admitted. “But the moment your late king bought you the bobcat – then I knew.”

“The cat?”

“The Alabasters adore their wild pets. They find comfort in the presence of creatures that dare to be as wild as they are... Your father liked bobcats as well. So does your brother.”

“My brother?”

“Blaise Alabaster… The black seep of our century.”

“And the current king of Upovia.”

“Yes,” the woman said in delight. “You know his name.”

“Doesn’t everyone know the Alabaster name?”

She shrugged light-heartedly. “We all know it for different reasons.”

“And what is your reason for knowing it?”

“The Alabaster family and my family have hated each other for centuries.”

“Then why are you making promises to an Alabaster and keeping them?”

“Agustin was different than his family. So are his children.”

“I don’t care,” he muttered. “I truly don’t care! Now, untie me! Please!”

“You know…” she said, softly. “I am shocked to find that you know about your true lineage. I did not think Dayna had it in her to tell you.”

“Stop talking about my mother,” he snapped, angrily tugging at the ropes around his wrists.

“You remind me so much of him…” she continued. “Of Agustin. You don’t look like them, like the Alabasters, but yet the way you talk is so much like Agustin…”

“Why did you promise him that you would take me to Upovia? It’s not like he is there anymore!”

The woman suddenly shook her head. “That is the only thing I cannot tell you... I play with your fate by telling you.”

“My fate?”

“You need to listen to me…” she said, her voice rising. “You must concentrate and allow the portal to guide you to Upovia Country.”

“Portal?” he asked again in confusion. “But I have no desire to go there!”

“If you fight against it, you will be lost in the portal. You must ask it to take you to Upovia, otherwise it might take you weeks or even months to get there.”

“You’re insane,” he declared out loud.

“You must let Treetia Country go, Darrius. Otherwise it might take you even longer to reach Upovia. Do you have any other questions?”

Untie me.”

“Suit yourself,” she said and slowly circled around them. “The woman next to you will meet you there. You need to protect her, Darrius. You need to keep her safe because she is important. She will find you, she will be drawn to you…or maybe to your brother. I am not sure anymore.”

“Who is she?”

“Her name is Ophelia Evans,” she said, a hint of admiration in her tone. “I have spent many years of my life on finding her. You need to listen to her. Listen to the eerie comments and silent mumbles. She is valuable, allow yourself to see that. But be warned…she is quite the wild one.”

“Why is she so important?”

The woman sighed, closing her eyes before opening them again. “Darrius… I need you to remember that behind every monster there is a person.”

“Excuse me?”

“Every one of those monsters has families, loved ones… You need to find the person behind every mask you meet. Do you understand?”

“What monsters?” The woman shook her head, but when she spoke her voice had suddenly gone muffled. “What?” he demanded as his sight started to blur. “What is happening?” he demanded as panic clenched his heart.

His hearing had been the first to go and his sight quickly followed. Slowly being deprived of his senses, Darrius suddenly felt tired beyond measure. Just before darkness sucked him in, he tried calling for Clara. Leaning to the left, he groped for his cat to lay his hands on her pelt. Finding comfort in having her close to him, he allowed his head to slump to the floor with a loud thud.

 


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