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"Very well," the Duke du Bois muttered under his breath, "Though I suspect, when the King finds out about this-"

"If my father becomes aware of this, I'm sure he will understand; considering the situation," Cal said simply, and glanced to the Count de Loielle.

The count shuddered underneath the Prince's stare, "O-Of course."

"Then we shall begin." Cal stated, "Why have I been called on this morning?"

The Duke cleared his throat and began tapping his fingers against the table, "Some of the councilmen and nobility suspect foul play considering the case of the wounded debutante."

Cal had been piecing together the information of Ariella's accident all night, the horse becoming rabid at precisely the right time, the hole already dug—not to mention the spears. Cal stared the Duke straight in the eyes, his fists clenching beneath the table, "Of course it was foul play. The question is, who is responsible?"

"P-Perhaps the investigation should be led by someone who is.. uninvolved with the victim," the Duke stuttered, trying to advert his eyes away from Cal.

The Prince took a noticeably deep breath, "Then who, Your Grace."

"I'd be happy to-"

Cal put his hand up, "Absolutely out of the question." He glanced around the room at the councilmen, either unaware or simply unconcerned with their frightened and confused expressions. The Prince's eyes landed on the Count de Loielle.

The stout, gray bearded man's eyes bulged, "I-"

"Ah, Claude, a dear friend of my beloved father," Cal said with a dark smirk, "You will lead the royal investigation in my place—for it seems I am unfit."

The Duke cleared his throat once more, gaining Cal's attention, "The Count here has no experience with investigation procedure, Your Highness. I for one, was the head of the Royal Guard for five years."

Cal smirked, "Then you'll be a great assistant. Council dismissed."

The councilmen began gathering their papers and shuffling around the room, desperate to get out of the Prince's unusually forceful eye. Meanwhile, Cal slipped out of the dining room in seconds and raced back to Ariella's chambers.

He knocked several times gaining no response, until Mae peaked through, her eyes disappointed and wary, "She's taken a turn for the worse."

Cal pushed through the maid and rushed to Ariella's bedchamber. He stood in the doorway,  taking in the scene around him. Ariella lay on the bed, surrounded by a puddle of her own blood. Pale, eyes open, unmoving.

His heart began to beat faster, he could feel the blood boiling beneath his skin. He could barely comprehend anything the physician was trying to say to him, instead his eyes remained on Ariella, frozen.

"-my apprentice, he was only trying to help."

Cal looked to the physician, who continued to mutter apologies, "Excuse me?"

"M-My apprentice."

Cal looked around the room eagerly, until his eyes landed on a thin, small man. Cal felt his muscles tense, his face becoming hot and splotchy. Before he knew it, he was across the room with his hands around the man's neck.

Mae and the doctor tried to pry him off, but Cal continued to strangle the man, who was dangling, almost unconscious beneath his strong grasp.

What was he without her? What kind of a man would he be in her absence? How could he ever love anyone ever again.

"Callan?" A soft voice called.

Cal's vision became blurry as he turned his head to face the bed. Ariella looked at him with wary eyes, a pale hand reaching out for him.

Cal dropped the man's neck and walked towards her, not looking back as the maid and the doctor tried to keep him conscious. Cal grasped her cold hand in his own and leant down to place a kiss on her forehead, his eyes tearing up.

She looked up to him, "S-Stay here with me," she whispered, "I don't want to be alone."

Cal grasped her hand tighter, "You're not going anywhere, my love."

"Kiss me before I go," she said softly, her body shivering.

Cal traced her cheek with the back of his hand, as if he were trying to memorize her face. He lent down to place a kiss on the corner of her eye, then down to her nose, then her cheek and finally he rested his lips softly on hers. Her lips were cold, and so were her hands as they became limp against his arms.

Cal let go of her as he felt her lips become weak against his own. "Ariella," he whispered, his voice small and unclear, "Ariella," he said again, this time a bit louder—and more alarmed. He placed his head against her heart, now beating so softly that he could barely hear it.

Mae walked over to him, her eyes red with tears, and placed a hand on Cal's shoulder, "Monsieur Guise has informed me that there is nothing more he can do."

Cal glanced up to the maid from Ariella's chest, "She's still alive. Don't give up on her."

Mae looked to the physician, who looked to his bag. He quickly walked over to his station of medical tools and medicines and pulled out a metal syringe, with two tubes and two needles protruding out of it. He walked back over to them and presented the device, "Transfusion," he muttered, "It is virtually untested, very dangerous, and a blood match is impossible to know. But it's the only thing that can save her now."

Cal raised himself from Ariella, "I'll do it."

The doctor nodded, and began gathering supplies from his bag, then turned back to them, "I'll warn you of infection ahead of time. Ive cleansed the device as best as I can but this is to your own accord. It is very dangerous."

Cal nodded and stuck his arm out as Mae began to tie one of Ariella's ribbons above his forearm, as instructed by the doctor, who then walked over to them and began assembling the device.

A needle was inserted into both Cal and Ariella's arms as the physician began pumping a strangely shaped syringe, it was air pressure he said.

"And how do we know if the blood is a match?" Mae asked.

"If the blood is not a match, her blood will begin to clot rapidly and her kidneys will fail. In other words," he paused, his glasses slowly slipping off the bridge of his nose, "she will die."

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