Chapter Twenty Two: The Gala at Rosencroix
Immortal Rose's Journal
All too soon, the night was upon us.
The grand ballroom shimmered like the central gem in a regal crown, accentuated by the golden candelabra and gleaming chandeliers hanging in their pristine splendor. There was no darkness this night, every corner nook and cranny glittering bright and cheerful. Long tables had been set along the walls and filled with sumptuous offerings of food and drink suitable to every guest's palate. As for the guests, there was a wide range, and not simply creatures of a shadowy origin. From my vantage point high atop the grand staircase I could discern visitors from every race and species under the sun and moon. Fellow scholars of nearby lands gazed about, dressed regally in flowing garments and expensive jewels. Winged beings from far away heavens fluttered their wings respectfully, obviously pleased by the vaulted ceiling. Indeed, even Lycan, Drow, Fae, and a few Naga made their entrances into the castle's interior. I could also discern a few mythological entities that I had carefully observed back in the forests of the home. They all mingled together in cheerful tones, a chorus of jovial conversation rising up and echoing across the alabaster lined halls. I could not help but smile at this sight. Had I not known better, I may have imagined that I was standing in a different land altogether. Perhaps even in attendance of the widely celebrated Grand Jubilee of Royalty in my mortal home. Yes, if only for one night, darkness had receded far away, the shadows of fear and uncertainty not daring to intrude on this uncharacteristic merriment.
Sensing a presence at my side, I turned to see the Dark Lord himself surveying the crowd as I had been only moments earlier.
"A wonderful turn out for such an impromptu affair, wouldn't you agree?"
I could only nod, bowing to the Lord's figure. Already an imposing man to begin with, the perfect elegance of his immaculate scarlet brooch and silken cravat adorning his formal coat made his appearance all the more regal. I could not help but feel as though a commoner in my rather plain dressings of flowers and lace on my gown. With a slight stammer, I attempted to make a sufficient answer.
"Y-Yes, My Lord. I am quite surprised as well."
To save myself from further embarrassment, I turned once again to observe those down below.
A few guests close to the food tables chattered nonchalantly, lifting glasses in toast and laughing at the antics of a familiar fellow that had taken too much wine. Many others danced gracefully across the reflective surface of the ballroom floor, weaving around each other as Sir Crux Karayan led an orchestrated symphony. I saw the two I had met earlier, Lazorus and Licorice among the unknown guests, giggling in childish delight as they danced together.
Tuomas contented himself to remain near the roaring fireplace, cautiously observing some of the groups in the hall. These such groups kept quietly to themselves, and I could not help but feel they were not exactly mortals either. A quiet clearing of the Lord's throat brought my attention back to him. He seemed quite ill at ease, such as I have never seen him before. His usually calm and penetrative gaze wandered from me and to the nearby banister before finding a spot on the floor.
"You..look quite lovely, Miss Rose. That is, it is a relief to see you well and at ease once again. I.. I do trust your pain has ebbed?"
I winced, yet only in remembrance of the way the wounds had been obtained, quickly finding my voice once more.
"Yes, thank you.. I feel back to myself once more. It does my heart glad to see such cheerfulness in your kingdom. It feels more...lively. Similar to what you had shown me."
Maybe a smile? I could not be certain, for Karayan's composition had ended and the crowd below clapped in appreciative applause before he began another piece. Soft, and melodic. The couples upon the floor took their places, swaying with each other slowly as they turned circles on the polished tile.
I felt Lord Bloodthorne's form move somewhat closer, brushing past me as he began descending the grand staircase. After a few steps, he turned back, giving a flourishing bow.
"Miss Rose, will you do me the honor?"
I blinked, confused for several moments before feeling a burning color rushing to my cheeks. My eyes automatically found the floor, feeling even more self conscious with each passing second.
"Forgive me, Lord, but I was never taught how to properly dance."
My reluctance seemed to only reassure him, returning to his normal ease and fluid nature. A light laugh shook from him as he held his hand forward to escort me down the high steps.
"This will not do at all. You must be instructed immediately. Follow my lead, and you shall learn."
As there was clearly no other choice set before me I reluctantly set my hand within his gentle grasp, allowing him to lead the way down to the ground floor and carefully in between the spinning couples. As soon as a suitable location near the center was established, he offered another bow, I following suit with a curtsey. He then drew close, showing me the correct positions for my hands and feet, detailing how the movement was a flowing, graceful circling with small variations directed by the changes of music. He set one of my hands onto his shoulder, grasping my other hand firmly as his opposite hand rested lightly on my side. Thus, the dance had begun. He moved gracefully as one would expect of nobility, and even though my attempts were clumsy, I could feel others pausing in their revolutions to watch. Clearly his sheer mastery of the art had more than made up for my lacking, and I felt myself caught up within the majesty of it all. He lowered his head, and I did the same as we moved. I began matching his steps, feeling a little more at ease as he smiled in approval. I returned a smile of my own, relaxing in the spell of Sir Crux's music. Clearly he was as gifted in the art as the Lord in dance, for the rhythm needed nothing of time nor transition as the waltz continued. Yet as all things must, the song reached it's final chords and faded into silence, the now sizable crowd surrounding us echoing with applause. Lord Bloodthorne bowed once more and I did the same, turning to meet his eyes as I raised myself up once more.
His eyes however, were fixed pointedly on something behind me. His expression though, was what made my heart sink, and whatever color was left to drain entirely. The Lord himself looked much the same way as I had felt, eyes wide in disbelief and hinting at anger. Very slowly, I turned to search for what it was that held his gaze so markedly.
Directly behind me, making his way through a now murmuring crowd was none other than Nicolae. A burning sensation coursed though my throat at his approach, the dark entity grinning with his yellow eyes, a smirk writhing over his visage as he finally paused before us and gave a mocking bow.
"Mind if I cut in?"
- Immortal Rose
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