Chapter 25

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A/N: Do you think they can escape? Check your answer with the following sentence.  :P

We reach Emberwind eventually, but before we have time to settle down, the searchers arrive. Alvena tries to flee with Nero, but not in time.

I turn to Lucien who offers me something I don't want to hear.

"I did it for you, Eve," he says.

Like that, Lucien accompanies us back to the castle.

Uncle Dietrich demands for me to be punished as a conspirator along with Alvena. Master dismisses Mistress back into her room before his uncle gives any official decree.

As she turns to go, Alvena tries to speak with her son, but is shoved aside by another unwanted onlooker—Kern.

The noble Kern is much disliked even by Master. However, he is cousin to Valerie; thus, family. And in important gatherings such as these, there is no way Kern will sit out, especially when his sweet "nephew" has been kidnapped by a human woman called his birth mother.

I would have received major punishment for my snarl, but no one caught it. They are all to shocked to see Nero bear his fangs in front of his uncle, threatening to fight.

That is when Lord Killua, the awaited guest steps out into the room with his aged elegance. Even Nero freezes before the superior Pureblood. Killua orders everyone to leave the room and no one dares disobey except for Alvena who attempts to reach Nero, only to have Master hold her back.

For the life of me, I stand still. Lucien makes an effort to pull me away, but I stubbornly stay in place.

And the next second, the room is completely empty of all the people and noise that occupied it just moments prior. Just three of us remain—two Purebloods and one Disabled.

Lord Killua's expression has not changed, but the room undoubtedly has gotten colder. He doesn't once spare me a glance, only looking down on the small boy dressed in tatters standing in front of him.

"When has the Dietrichs fallen so low that they can't even afford proper clothing for their young master or at least a competent maid?" the revered Pureblood lord asks the young master with a feigned smile on his face.

Nero doesn't interrupt as his superior continues with his greetings.

"Is the lowly Disabled deaf?" the white-haired vampire questions as he beings to walk around.

"There is nothing wrong with Evelyn."

Killua looks at Nero with increased curiosity, glad that there's some sort of response he can play with.

"If the Disabled isn't deaf, then it must have heard my orders. It must be punished for disregarding an order, but punished even harder for disrespecting me."

The little boy stands protectively in front of me as he tries to reason.

"Leave her out of this," Young Master states with a little less confidence than his usual composed self.

Perhaps in the presence of another Pureblood, he is more aware of the situation. Nero turns around and urges me to leave them, but I pretend I don't hear him as well. This apparently angers him.

I'm sorry, Nero. This is all I can do.

Silently, I watch as Lord Killua puts his large hand atop Nero's small frame. Looking into the youth's golden eyes with his dark indigo ones, he utters something under his breath. Young Master freezes in shock before a delicate tear rolls down his cheek.

Nero looks at me helplessly as if trying to communicate something, but is denied the chance when Killua steals his attention once more.

"From now on, you will hold no memory of the woman Alvena. She is nothing and no one to you or anyone you know. You have one mother and one mother only—Valerie Rosehold-Dietrich," Killua recites to an entranced Nero.

Nero must be struggling, his body doesn't respond to him anymore. His slight shaking from earlier is also gone as all his muscles become limp, rendering him as nothing more than a living puppet with a title.

"You will follow me to learn the ways of a Pureblood and best serve the Elders."

I can no longer sense any self-awareness from the boy as he balled fists drop weakly to his sides in defeat.

"Finally, you are to completely forget the Disabled vampire Evelyn."

Nero's tears finally stop staining his clothes.

"Do you understand Aleksandar Dietrich?"

The boy dips his head robotically as he walks towards the entrance of the room.

I feel my throat, but in its place, a large clump suppresses my voice, disabling me to call out to my master. If I just call out to Nero, I feel he will remember even just a little. But no matter how desperately I search for a sound, nothing comes out.

So I watch as Nero listlessly walks out the doorway without as much as a heartbeat. Without as much as a glance at me.

"Such is the life of a Pureblood," Lord Killua speaks when we are alone. "As the Disabled have their burdens, we have ours."

In this moment, he gives off a strange aura of vulnerability and loneliness. It's so genuine that even I forget the anger boiling inside from my veritable inability to at least bid my master farewell. I am indeed incompetent.

Lord Killua turns to me and I look into his dark eyes. For a second, his eyes glimmer red, exactly like how they did when compelling Nero.

With all my heart, I hope not to forget him. If he forgets and I forget, then Alvena will be all alone. If I forget, it will be the greatest sin to both of them. But like before, I simply stand to receive the Pureblood's order.

"Young Master Aleksandar has chosen to volunteer himself to train as the weapon of the Army. Even though your Mistress kidnapped the Pureblood, she is excused on behalf of Aleksandar's safe return. Finally, you are to report any of her activities that appear suspicious while you monitor her."

As Lord Killua compels, I tell this to anyone who asks me. They all approve and are appeased.

But I tell no one that I still remember the truth—Nero, who loves his mother more than anyone else in the world, had his memories manipulated to forget her entirely. To anyone who might know her, he will be unable to ask. To anyone who would want him to know, he will never see again.

When Master summons me and inquires, I answer, "Young Master willingly followed Lord Killua to best serve his role as Pureblood."

To my slight disappointment, Master doesn't question my testimony despite being just as dissatisfied as I am to deliver the same message. It's as if he thinks that I'd change my answer if he asks the next time. However, I am unable to.

It is not that I cannot speak my mind, but because of a previous promise to Alvena. Afterwards, I visit her and tell her exactly what happened. As she cried, she made me promise to act as instructed. If it is exposed that I am for some reason, immune to a Pureblood's compulsion, they may take me away too.

Thus, I stay the same—the same mundane Disabled vampire, standing straight as a stick, unaffected by anything and everything around her. Immune to all feelings and emotions with a heart beating steadily in its ever-unchanging manner.

Like this, I count my days, watching Alvena living in fear whilst I live without a care.

I serve Master in the day and tend to Mistress in the night. I eat and work alongside the other servants of the mansion. I welcome Lucien to our household as he drops in to entertain at his usual hours.

Everything is back to normal.

Except there is no Nero.

I pass the young lord's room without hesitation as I carry the tray of tea out of the guest room, making note that there may be eyes watching if I show the slightest expression. In the short time that I did, I overhear a familiar voice.

In Uncle Dietrich's voice, an order is given. To who, I know not. But I do not doubt their ability to carry out the mission: Assassinate the Pureblood bearer.

And soon there won't be Alvena.

*****

A/N: It's always great to see new and returning readers. Your likes, votes, comments don't go unnoticed by me <3

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