A/N: Your comments are sweetness overload. I hope I can deliver an original story that can meet your expectations-->though I must warn you of my tendency to take strange swerves here and there.
+Your generous votes are so encouraging and have motivated me to hurry and write this chapter. -->If I am moving too fast (or slow), please let me know so I can adjust the pace.
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It's been a week since Alvena last left her room. Every night without fail, Master is the only visitor she has besides me. He comes in, tells me to stand watch, but always leaves when Mistress falls asleep. Tonight is no different.
With the utmost stealth, he closes the heavy door and brushes past me.
"Good night, Master," I greet routinely.
He gives a soft smile before floating away into his study where he usually stays for another few hours before heading back into his chambers. However, tonight he walks back out in less than an hour. I watch intently from my guard but Master waves me forward.
"Answer when questioned. Speak the truth as is," he orders.
Not waiting any longer, he walks into his study and I follow. Master goes to his bookshelf, bends down, tugs at a book, opens a path to somewhere dark, and casually walks in.
"Master, where are we going?"
A cold hollow breath of air echoes through the hidden tunnel stairway as we descend deeper.
"No question has been asked."
So without further comment, the steady heartbeat and light footsteps of Master is mirrored by my own. That is, until new patterns of sounds begin traveling to my ears and a tiny glint of light flashes in the distance.
When we approach the open area, cloaked figures come into view. There were at least twenty vampires awaiting Master's anticipated appearance. Master floats past them completely unfazed.
I follow right behind, silently collecting as many faces as I can into my memory. Some I recognized from the party, while others were new. Somewhere among the crowd, I see Lucien dressed all formally and neatly groomed, but still looking casual as ever. He sticks out from the other golden-eyed vampires who wear the exact stiff facial expression as the next vampire.
After passing the crowd, Master motions me to stay still before joining an older vampire in the elevated area. They exchange a short conversation before Uncle Dietrich's face comes into view and Master recedes in the background.
"You are all gathered to witness the testimony that will complete the ritual," Uncle Dietrich's voice booms across the space. "Disabled," he calls out contemptuously. A disapproving look sits on his face, either dissatisfied with seeing me or dissatisfied with the short argument he shared with Master. "Come forward."
Seeing none of the other golden-eyed vampires being disabled, I walk forward.
"What is your relationship with Aleksandar Nikolaj Dietrich?" he questions.
"Do you come before us with the full intention of being a witness?"'
"I do not know. I only come to 'Answer when questioned.'"
At my remark, Uncle Dietrich throws me a hateful glare before sending something a little milder to Master.
"Do you testify that Aleksandar Dietrich has performed his rightful duties and consummated his marriage to the human woman?"
"What right do you have to your claim?" Uncle Dietrich asks after allowing the crowd to whisper among themselves.
"I stood watch for seven days following the third night after Hunter's Moon."
"Swear by your honor that you speak only the truth."
"Any objections?" This question is directed to the audience.
From the corner of my eye, a rose-scented vampire unveils her beautiful face from under her hood. Master's expression drops slightly when he sees her.
Soon after, other vampires began removing their hoods. When all hoods were removed, Uncle Dietrich adopts a satisfied grin.
"As the chosen house, the Dietrich family will birth the next Pureblood and assume authority over the rights that come with this honor."
This concludes the assembly. Some leave while others stay to chat. I continue to stand like a statue in my spot, waiting for Master to give me instructions after he is finished talking with the group gathered around him.
"You're standing in a room with all the high nobles across the land. How's the feeling?" Lucien's voice is hard to miss.
I look at him apathetically.
At that moment, an iron grip clamps on my neck and Master Niles comes into view. He is no longer wearing that serious expression.
"Do you even know what just happened?" Master Niles asks. I shake my head. "The Dietrich family is now in charge of the Army. How you feel now?"
Master Niles seem disappointed. "Well, birthing a Pureblood is almost like becoming a royalty among royalty to us vampires. You're serving the main family so you bring honor to the Ayers as well."
"You can lie you know?"
"Master did not instruct me to do so," I reply robotically.
"You little Disab-" Master Niles whips himself around before muttering to himself like a grumpy child.
I do not know why Master Liam and Lucien humors in Master Niles's distress, but their amusement attracts someone's attention and she starts making her way over.
"What's Niles going off about this time?" she asks in a maturely elegant voice.
"Just the usual childish things," Liam answers and Lucien adds in a laugh. They look like a big family, so unlike my own.
While Niles goes off to complain to Liam, the lady turns to me with a warm smile on her face.
"You must be Evelyn," she greets and I nod. "Pleasure."
Lucien conveniently joins and adds in, "Valerie is the high noble of Rosehold."
As the Dietrich family leads in Argid, the Rosegarden clan is dominant in Rosehold, the sector north of Emberwind where Lucien's family rules.
"We grew up together so we're really close," Valerie tells me. "Please help me take care of Alek."
She turns her head in Master's direction, but he's too busy conversing with other district nobles to notice us.
"He seems busy. Tell him he doesn't need to look for me."
With that, Valerie dances to the exit and disappears, but not without leaving behind her signature rose fragrance.
"What do you think of Val?" Lucien asks from next to me.
"No feeling," Master Niles imitates my tone. He appears to be recovered as he laughs like his carefree self.
I look at Master who's talking with another female vampire now, but is distracted with a strange look in his eyes. Sad eyes like that day in his study room. Sad eyes like when he leaves Alvena's room every night. He must've noticed that Valerie has left.
Even from my distance I noticed the change in Master's heart rate. It's so faint that my mind almost believed it ceased beating altogether. My eyes eventually shift back to look at the still laughing Lord of Ashenvale.
You're wrong, Master Niles. I actually have a feeling this time. And it's not a good feeling.