Hand in hand, they walked up the steps. When they came across another couple heading out into the gardens, Lucie tightened her grip on Olivier's elbow. But the other couple simply nodded, and Lucie realized that no one was going to notice the blood that covered their outfits. She smiled up at Olivier, and he smiled back.
Inside the hotel seemed darker than before. Had her eyes gotten used to moonlight and fire? She looked about – some of the lamps in the anti-chamber had gone out, as well as some of the sconces that lined the hallway to the ballroom.
Then they entered the salon, and their smiles fell away. Olivier reached up and gripped her hand in his.
All was still but for the crackling fire, casting an orange glow over the blue room and turning the color sickly. Lucie saw two girls sitting on the couch. Both slumped sideways, one's head resting on the shoulder of the other. A young man sat on the floor with his face resting on the seat of the chair. He did not appear to have fallen, but rather as though he had chosen to sit on the floor and fallen asleep this way. Another young man sat alone in the corner, with his head back and arms and legs spread wide. He was not asleep, for his eyes were open.
The throat of each had been cut.
"Who did this?" Lucie whispered, pressing herself into Olivier's side.
Throats gaping wide, appearing at first glance like the red ribbons everyone had been wearing. But no blood down the fronts of their costumes.
"I do not understand." Lucie took a step forward. Then another. She heard a sudden snap, and spun to look behind her for some hidden figure before realizing it was the fire. The roaring, blazing fire with no one to tend it or to feed it.
Lucie's gaze caught in its depths for a long moment. Annette, she thought, blinking away her trance.
Olivier had moved into the room behind her, and looked down at one of the two girls. "They were stabbed in the back," he said, voice hushed. "Look, they each have a small spot of blood on their chest, and beneath them, they are soaked through." The blood would have been hard to see with just the fire lighting the room and throwing its flickering shadows around.
"Someone did this," Lucie whispered. "Someone killed them and arranged them like this."
"Do you know any of them?" Olivier asked.
She glanced at the faces, then shook her head. "None that I imagined killing, if that is your meaning."
"Yes." Olivier looked at her, his mouth tight. "It seems you may have been right to worry about this other murderer."
"What of the rest of the party?" Lucie asked. She turned her head, listening for the music in the ballroom. The silence, and the four bodies in the room, made her skin crawl, until she heard the clock in the ballroom chime once. One o'clock already? It had only just chimed for midnight when they left for the garden. Lucie shook her head in disbelief. "Have they all left, or are they all dead?"
Both of them looked to the doorway that led to ballroom. Some light came from that direction. All of a sudden the music began again, a heavy, stomping tune unfamiliar to Lucie's ears. She looked toward the door to the dining room, which looked like a gaping black maw.
"We should leave," Lucie said. "We should leave now and never return."
Olivier bent toward one of the dead girls, and for a moment Lucie had the horrifying idea that he was going to kiss her. Instead, she saw that he reached for the small oil lamp there. He was lighting the lamp.
"You wish to go in there?" Lucie hissed in disbelief. "Are you mad?"
"We are more likely to find the murderer there than in the ballroom," Oliver said.
Lucie thought about that, her hands on her stomach. She liked that she could feel the stiffness of the blade. Yes, they should find the murderer. She nodded. They could find the murderer and kill him. Then they would not have to worry as they had their revenge.
"Allons-y," Lucie said, and withdrew her dagger.
Author's Note: This is the song I imagine they hear playing in the ballroom, but I couldn't find a version that was "playing from another room" so you'll just have to lower your volume to get the idea :D
Also, I try to use French phrases that most people would know, but is the phrase "Allon-y" ("Let's go") too associated with Doctor Who?
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The Victim's BallHistorical Fiction
HER REIGN OF TERROR HAS JUST BEGUN... When Lucienne Reneault receives an invitation to a Victim's Ball in honor of those aristocrats who have been guillotined, she believes it must have been a mistake. Of two things she is certain, however: she wil...