>The guests were unperturbed and continued to dance and swirl across the shining floors, their soft chatter as light and cheerful as ever, and Harclyffe remained on the balcony overhead, seemingly unaware that two of his assets were weaving themselves out of his decade-long web with the help of another, yet-unknown Lord.
>Sebastian shrugged and nodded at the oblivious revellers.
>“It’s not important. It’s also not time yet. Act normal and wait for the signal. You’ll know when they’re ready,” he chuckled. “Everyone will know and we’ll vanish in the chaos.”
Betrayal – Part Two
“How can it not be important?” Henry replied, but Sebastian had returned to his position against the wall, appearing every inch the dutiful servant he had been for the past ten years as he smiled and bowed his head at whoever glanced his way.
The music’s tempo increased and what once sounded like a single piano transformed into a vibrant orchestra that imbued the cavernous room with voracious energy and spurred on the movements of the dancers, their swirling fabric sweeping across the floors in an endless rainbow of colours.
Releasing a deep exhale, Henry stood at attention by the banquet table and waited. The music no longer called to him which was the greatest relief; perhaps this night would go well after all. It would be nice to know who Sebastian’s so-called ‘patron’ was, however; he wasn’t entirely sure he liked the sound of that. Freedom and possible vengeance were what he desired, not more servitude.
A light rustling resounded overhead and a black cape descended to the centre of the room. Harclyffe raised himself up on one knee then leapt to his feet in a flamboyant flurry of flying fabrics before offering a hand covered in rings to a young girl, barely thirteen. Harclyffe had made his first choice and the decision made Henry’s heart sink.
Cherubic cheeks flushed bright and doe-shaped eyes sparkled as the girl took the offered hand and was swept across the floors to the beat of the music and to the cheers of the other guests. If only they knew what they cheered for. The child’s parents would soon be missing a daughter just as he once missed a sister.
Henry swallowed and wrenched his gaze away, both disturbed and surprised he had been able to portray a hint of emotion after having it forcibly repressed for so long, only to have his eyes land on a globule of blood where Harclyffe initially courted the girl. It was a dark, gleaming drop that tarnished the pristine floors and he hastened to wipe it before any guests could see, his stomach rising as cloth met crimson.
The action was reflexive after so many years, but his response wasn’t. The magical pebble Sebastian had given him, the bizarre item that had begun to unravel his instilled instruction, was working quickly. Was it possible Harclyffe could remain ignorant for much longer —what was the signal they were waiting for? He leant against a cool pillar and took a shuddering breath, then quickly composed himself before the Lord or his loyalists could notice anything out of the ordinary.
When he reopened his eyes they met the bored stare of a blonde woman who stood by the windows, strangely unaffected by the otherworldly music that pulsed through the ballroom. Dressed in similar silken garments to the other women, she wore just as many jewels and there were ornate ribbons threaded through her hair, yet she did not vie for Harclyffe’s attention or show any interest in being a part of this grand event that most fought to be a part of. Her eyes passed through his as though he didn’t exist and then returned to the night sky. He paused, momentarily confused by his racing pulse, then took an involuntary step toward her. Her eyes had been sequins that glimmered beneath the candlelight, akin to the shining stars that sparkled in the midnight skies, and as bright as the gleam of blood that glinted as… more blood? He winced and wiped away the fresh droplets spattered across the floor.
The orchestral music deepened to a resonant thrum that sent mild vibrations through the manor-house and stirred his already unsettled stomach. Harclyffe had travelled to each corner of the known world and to many planes in-between and was proud of the collection of musics he had discovered —many of which only his spirits could mimic— and the resulting melodies were an inharmonious chaos that only a thrall could enjoy… and he was no longer a thrall.
A hand clapped Henry’s shoulder and he near leapt back into the pillars. He whipped around and met Sebastian’s amused smirk.
“I really wish you would stop doing that,” Henry hissed.
“Just testing,” Sebastian shrugged. “You seem to be escaping the web faster than I did. Come. We should ready ourselves by the windows while Harclyffe is occupied. They’ll be ready any moment now.”
“’Occupied,’” Henry shivered. “You sound so impersonal.”
“It is what it is.”
Henry’s gaze flickered back to the blonde woman, conveniently located by the windows Sebastian headed for, and winced. When he had first entered this room, his friend had warned of an ensuing chaos. Hopefully there would be no deaths in the mayhem… except for Harclyffe’s.
That was probably too much to ask for, he grimaced. The bastard had already exceeded a normal lifespan and it was likely he would never die.
Today’s Prompt: is — global — but I interpreted it as “all around the world” in this segment.
You can find the daily #freewrite prompt at @mariannewest’s blog!
Today’s header image is: courtesy of Pixabay!
Thank you for reading! 🙂
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