SoaL Chapter 34, Part 2

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SoaL Chapter 34, Part 2

  1. 1. And such as it was, there was more to come for Cecily. Her suffering with Bayes continued into the later half of the Century, yet it would not be so long until she found herself no longer alone in her plight. For it is always so that as the threads weave ever closer, more and more fates begin to collide.
  2. 2. 1881, Autumn
  3. 3. Staring out of the first floor window, Cecily Urswick‟s face lit up. Although it was midday, the temptation for her to oversee had been too great There was never any question that she would brave both waking Bayes and the warm glare of the unfamiliar sun to see it. Looking out across the streets of Kensington, the sight of four newly erected towers made her heart soar.
  4. 4. “They did it.. They finally did it!” she mused. “They let the worl‟ see! Oh, „ow wonderful tha‟ everyone „oo wishes it can enjoy the wonder..” She had kept the newspaper clippings concealed from Bayes, but had been studying the building‟s construction for years. Though it had faced troubles of its own, Cecily was so proud to be alive, such as she was, to have seen it completed through to opening day. So proud that she had even begun to let her long trained pronunciations slip! And it was a day she knew her father would have marvelled at.
  5. 5. “The British Museum of Natural History..” she mused. “Tha collections of Montague House in their own museum! Allowing the „ole world to come and look at the treasures! My treasures. Papa‟s treasures.” Feeling her skin begin to burn under the noon rays, Cecily knew she had to drag herself away. And yet.. “I need to be there!” And with a smile, ran to her wardrobe. ----
  6. 6. She had not realised how much of the long day she had spent there, but it was past sunset by the time Cecily returned to the house. She opened the door as quietly as she could, and tiptoed inside – praying Bayes was still asleep.
  7. 7. “Did you have an enjoyable day then, my dear?” “Erm..” No. Of I wouldn’t have been able to get away with it.. She sighed upon seeing the vampire standing in front of the fire.
  8. 8. “What do you think you were playing at, Cecily? Going out in broad daylight!” “I had a hat.. No one could tell I wasn‟t jus‟ loike them!” “That is not the point! What if they had? What if you led them here?!” Bayes hissed angrily.
  9. 9. “But I didn‟! Oh hush Aldous, it was righ‟ amazin‟ it was! Everyone was so excited to be in the new museum, no one looked twice at each ovver! The ceiling, the carvings.. So beau‟ful it right was. And the dinosaur! Oh Aldous, the DINOSAUR!” “I cannot find myself particularly willing to care about dinosaurs, Cecily.” “Don‟ be so silly! Everyone cares about dinosaurs.” “In fact, I cannot find myself particularly caring about much at this particular moment.”
  10. 10. “Other than the fact that you, Cecily, have disobeyed me. I specifically told you not to leave this house, for your safety, for my safety, and the safety of our kind. You feel too kindly towards humans, and I am not sure it is something I can tolerate much longer. But more than this, my dear, I will not stand for having my instructions ignored by a insolent, stupid, woman.”
  11. 11. “Bu‟.. Bu‟.. I just wan‟ed to see the dinosaur Aldous! I was careful, I though‟ it wouldn‟ ma‟ter.. I stayed safe, I promise! No one noticed, they jus‟ all said „ow nice my hat was. I‟m sorry Aldous, I am so sorry! I jus‟.. And Papa.. And-”
  12. 12. The blow came so quickly that it knocked Cecily clean off her feet. As her hat tumbled to the ground she looked at the floor, shocked and confused by what had happened. She almost wondered for a second whether the was back at the Urswick estate, and her Grandmother had just found her trying to snuggle songbirds into the parlour again. But no. Glancing up, she was reminded that those times were long gone now.
  13. 13. “I have business to attend to. Do not dare disobey me again, woman.” ----
  14. 14. “Eet eez certainly good to see you again, dear Aldous! Eet „az been too long.” “Thank you Madame. I feel likewise. It is a great pleasure to have been invited once again to your home. It always seems so.. Peaceful in comparison to my own.” “Indeed.” she agreed, speaking in English heavy with a French accent. “My „usband and I are alwayz „appy to „ave one such as yourself viseet us, and bring such wonderful gifts!” “Wonderful indeed!” agreed the blonde vampire, and gleefully swirled the liquid in his glass.
  15. 15. “Thanks you Julian. I was hoping you would approve. We have begun a new method of extraction, and the results so far appear most satisfactory.” “Oui, oui!” hastily agreed the female, from across the room. Bayes nodded and glanced to the tray on the table next to him. “You are a great friend Madame, I aim to please.”
  16. 16. “And you do Aldous! But we were wondering..” the vampire trailed off and turned pleadingly to her husband. “Yes Bayes, this is wonderful stuff. But I do believe my wife was hoping to have the company of Miss Urswick, as well as yourself, this evening. So tell us old chum, how is the new gal doing?”
  17. 17. “Ah. There has been.. An incident.” Bayes said slowly. “I fear she is becoming a liability Madame. She went out into the open today, you see.” Two shocked gasps hailed from the couches. “Exactly. She is becoming inquisitive about the outside world and could have cost me everything I have been working towards! I simply could not have that, and she seems to have forgotten her place and fear. I do not know what to do with her!”
  18. 18. “Well for starters I hope you gave her a damn good beating!” chortled Julian. “Oui, we cannot „ave „er putting you in danger Aldous, especially when it is because of you we have such delicious..” again she glanced into her glass and seemed to forget what she was saying. “Just lie to „er Aldous! She eez not that important.” “Exactly. But my dear, we did not invited Mr Bayes here this evening to discuss his disaster of a woman.” “Non, we most certainly did not.”
  19. 19. “So what do you think of the product?” Bayes asked, glad to be off the topic of his disastrous evening so far. “It is gorgeous Bayes, the best human blood I have tasted for a long time. And so convenient!” “Oui, oui! I „ave never liked the business of „aving to go out and kill the people myself, eet ees so messy. So you will supply this quality always, Aldous? And save us „aving to leave the beauty of our „ome and mingle with the „orrible humans?”
  20. 20. Bayes nodded. “Fantastique! Then Aldous, I would like to place an order. Thees blood is pefect, as fresh and sweet as I have ever tasted, and if you can supply my „usband and I wiz eet then we would be most „appy. I shall never drink anything else ever again!”
  21. 21. “Of course, then I shall speak to my supplier at once.” Bayes smiled, he knew he could count on Madame. “But first, let us raise our glasses to this new partnership. Long may it last, my old friends!” It was not until several blood-filled toasts later that a very pleased Bayes finally left to finalise the mechanics of his new deal.
  22. 22. “Every time I seem to forget how horribly unkempt this part of town is. Especially this place..”
  23. 23. Looking at the ground, Bayes shook his head. “There are fallen trees and leaves all over this estate, and yet no one ever removes them! It is a disgrace.. But no matter.
  24. 24. At least it means that his energy is being better spent on more important projects.”
  25. 25. Quickly the door opened, revealing a human man in the dim light of the house. “Good evening, Tricou.” “Mr. Bayes! It is an honour, Sir! Oh do come in – do come in at once. We have been waiting a long time this evening Sir, is everything alright?” “I had more important people to see first, Tricou.” snapped Bayes. “Ah of course, of course.”
  26. 26. Closing the door, Jon Smith Tricou led the vampire through his home to his parlour where the meeting was to be held. He did so as quickly as possible, he did not like the idea of Bayes lingering in the same room as his young and precious family..
  27. 27. “Ah, so he has bothered to turn up in the end then!” “Jennicor, please.” hissed Jon as he took up his seat next to his wife. “I am just saying that it is rude, my love! I do not care whatever stupid time one arranges a meeting, but one should be there punctually!” “He can do what he wishes Jennicor, he is a vampire.”
  28. 28. “Nor a deaf one at that.” “My apologies Sir.” Jon said sheepishly. “My wife was merely expressing her gratitude that you have come to see us at last. Please – take a seat.” Before Jennicor could growl how that was like hell the case, Bayes stepped in. “I would prefer to stand Tricou, and just get down to business.”
  29. 29. “You have been helping me harvest blood for vampiric consumption several years now, and I am impressed with the level of your service and quality.” “Thank you.” Jon beamed. “I did not come here to praise you, you fool! This evening I have secured another big order for our product and I will need the quantity being produced to increase substantially. At once. Do you understand? Madame is a great friend of mine and I will not have her disappointed.”
  30. 30. “Did you hear that Jennicor?” Jon whispered excitedly to his wife. “He wants us to make more! More! That means we shall be even richer by the end of the season!” “I feel we should make sure before we agree to anything my dear..” she said slowly. “I do not trust Bayes one bit.” “Do not anger him Jennicor, you shall not dare say anything to him-”
  31. 31. “And how exactly are we to do this?” Jennicor butted in. “Do what, woman?” “What you want. Supply more blood to you and your „friends‟. My husband is but one man, and our finances are ever so stretched as it is.. Why should we agree to this for you? What is in it for us?”
  32. 32. “Oh Jennicor.. Such bold females I am meeting this evening! I cannot say that I care much for your opinion, seeing as it is your husband with whom I came here to talk business with – not his judgemental harlot of a wife. So hold your tongue while this matter is settled. I trust Tricou‟s judgment."
  33. 33. “Of all the rude and un-gentlemanly things to say..” growled Jennicor, when she saw she was going to get no defence from her husband. Jon Smith Tricou simply ignored her mumblings and continued to keep his eyes on the vampire. “Please, please forgive her Sir. But Jennicor is right, she-” “You will be paid for the blood. As always Tricou, or have you forgotten that I am a fair man?” “No! Of course not, and that is very generous of you Sir, very generous indeed. But such an increase in the product will require more time, I will need to gather-”
  34. 34. “You will make the shipment dates, which shall be the same as always. I am sure that you will Tricou. For if you do not? Well.. I would hate to see that family of yours suffer. Such lovely daughters you have, and fine plump grandchildren.. No. I am sure that you will deliver on time.” ----
  35. 35. “Well that went just as smoothly as possible..” It had been a few minutes since Mr Bayes had left the House of Fallen Trees, but Jon Smith Tricou still found himself leaning against the door after him. So. He now had to find twice as much blood in the same amount of time. That was nothing. No big deal. He could do it.. And all that money! Oh, that would be good.. He grinned at that thought.
  36. 36. Until he heard a small voice behind him. “Who was that strange man, Grandpapa?” A small boy with large blue eyes blinked up at Jon.
  37. 37. “That, young Fricorith, was the man who keeps us well stocked in the finest linens and wines. And not only that – but he has asked me to increase my services! And that means more money for us Grandson.” “But that is brilliant! Can I help you Grandpapa? With your work? Oh, may I! It would be ever so exciting.”
  38. 38. “Well you are a eager young lad, are you not Fricorith?” “So can I?” “Hm. It is very hard work young man, and I am not sure you are quite up to it yet.” “Oh but I am Grandfather, I really and truly am!” Jon hesitated. “We-ell..”
  39. 39. “WHAT was that Father?!” The eldest of Jon and Jennicor‟s daughters, Jennail Tricou, had heard the conversation between her father and son and did not like it one bit. “Am I understanding this correctly – you want to take my son to help you take care ofthis? I shall not hear of such things!” “Everyone in this house is always overreacting..” sighed young Gvaudoin, watching her Aunt‟s outburst.
  40. 40. “She is right Mother!” said Fricorith, running up to Jennail. “What Grandfather does always sounds so exciting.” “I do not think I would use that word for it, son.” “But it is! And I WANT to help him. He said he needs to do lots more anyway, so he would need someone like me to help him to make sure we get all the money so that we can all buy nice things! And that would be wonderful, would it not? It would make us all so very happy if I helped Grandfather.”
  41. 41. “It is not actually a bad idea..” said Jon, stepping up behind Fricorith. “SEE?” beamed the small boy. “With the more customers Bayes obtains, the more product we will need to supply as demand grows. He is immortal after all, as are all his buyers, so it would make sense to keep the business in family as it were. And I can hardly expect my sons-in-law to take up that task.” he finished, with a cold look towards Jennail‟s husband happily tinkling away on the piano.
  42. 42. He didn‟t even bother looking at his second daughter, Nylissit, and her husband Kiernan. “Do you not feel left out, Father?” asked Gvaudoin at this. “You could help Grandfather.” “Oh he‟s fine!” Her mother had answered for her husband. “Really sugar lump, you Father and I are just happy that the vampire has asked for more – it means your Grandfather is doing a good job, and it inevitably means more silks for me and more fine under-garments for your Father to dance about in” “.. Mother.” “Yes baby?” “I do not think I shall be asking such things again.”
  43. 43. Ignoring her sister‟s giggles, Jennail had stayed very still. What they were all proposing was preposterous! “No, Father. Fricorith is just a boy. And what you do is no a life for such a young and innocent child, especially for one who happens to be my son. No. No, he shall not be apart of your schemes. Never.”
  44. 44. “WHAT?! Oh, but Mother!” “No Fricorith.” Jennail said sharply. “I am not having this. You are my son, not his, and you shall never be going near any of this „business‟.” “But-” “No!” she hissed. “You are but a child.” “Well I will not be so forever..” the boy said quietly.
  45. 45. “Indeed.” said Jon, and scooped his Grandson into a hug. “Do not worry Fricorith, but I fear your Mother may be right for the time being – you are a little young.” “Grandfather! I-” “Will play your part in good time. But not yet. Now it is just time for little boys to go to bed. And that goes for us all!” he said to the room. “It is unreasonably later after all.”
  46. 46. Grumbling, Fricorith eventually stomped up the stairs after his Grandparents and Aunt‟s family. Too young indeed.. Jennail waited until he had started climbing before she walked over to the family piano.
  47. 47. “Well that was well defended Kvornan, thank you very much for helping me rush to our son‟s aid. Did you see that look in my Father‟s eye? He would have taken him, Kvornan! If I had not said something. But no, of course you did not, you were busy sitting here!” “That does not mean I was not listening Jennail.” her husband said calmly, and got up from the stool.
  48. 48. “I know Jon would have, I fear he is already looking for an excuse to mentor Fricorith.” “Then why did you not say something?” “Because he would not have listened to me. You know as well as we all do that your Father only ever hears what you and your Mother have to say.” “I know, and I am sorry. But what are we to do?! You cannot blame me, I do no want to lose my son Kvornan. What can we do..” Jennail repeated, and looked nervously at the floor.
  49. 49. But her husband knew what to do, and drew Jennail into a kiss. “We will do all we can. I love our son just as much as you, and it is our job to protect him as long as we can. We are his parents, and we will do everything in our power to keep Fricorith in the light.” “Oh Kvornan..
  50. 50. How can we? When all there is in this house is darkness..” ----
  51. 51. What an evening.. But it had been done. Another deal struck and Bayes had faith that the Tricous would keep up with supplying the blood for him. And well, if they did not, he had always quite fancied the look of Jon‟s younger daughter. She always smelled so sweet.. Ah, he could almost taste her scent now.. Suddenly, Bayes stopped. There was a definite scent filling the air, but it was not that of blood. Gritting his teeth, he followed it.
  52. 52. “Ooow, this bread is right fresh it is! This will be the tastiest one yet, I reckon..”
  53. 53. Bayes found himself in a room he had never stepped foot in before. It was full of strange and nauseating smells, but mostly it was full of “Cecily. Would you please. Explain to me. What. You are. Doing.” He tried to keep his voice as level and as calm as he could, but inside Bayes was fuming. It was all he could do but keep his body from shaking.
  54. 54. “What do you mean „wot am I doin‟? I am having some supper, I am! I am bored of keeping this kitchen only to fool anyone peering in through the windows, I wants ta USE it Aldous! I went to the market today while I were out, and I got all this delicious food for us, I did! I „aven‟t gone out since you left, I „aven‟t left this „ouse. I ‟ave done nothing wrong Aldous and I do not want ta be criticised for it!”
  55. 55. “Nothing wrong? Nothing WRONG?! Oh, you really do not understand do you..” “No. No I do not, not any more Aldous. And besides, where has you been all night?” “What does it matter? What matters if that you dared to bring this.. Filth! Into my house! Remove it at once Cecily.”
  56. 56. “But why? I fought we could put together some of this bread and cheese, and perhaps toast it over the fire. The man at market recommended it to me, he did. I fought it would be something nice for you! What wiv you bein‟ out all night..”
  57. 57. “Oh Cecily..” Bayes said, regaining some of his composure as he remembered what Madame had told him earlier that night. “I am merely trying to look after you – as always! My sweet, such things are terribly poisonous to those of our kind, it would be best for you to throw these things out at once.” “They are? Ooow Aldous, I did not know! I am so terribly sorry, I am. I did not mean to poison us. It is just that I do not like all of this blood an‟ killin‟ business..”
  58. 58. “There there, my sweet. It is alright. But it was a terrible mistake to turn your back on the consumption of humans. I have told you many times why it is that we must feed on them.” “I know. But it is just so.. Red! And sticky.” “Some pay very good money for that, you know my dear.” ----
  59. 59. Time passes, as time always does. Cecily once again fell under the lies of Bayes and did not again seek the freedoms she had that day. The more deals Bayes made and the more confident in his business he became – the more he asserted his authority over her. The more her spirit shrank. Despite all threats, Tricou had managed to keep up the supply as Bayes’s demands grew ever larger. But time passes, as time always does.
  60. 60. 10 years later
  61. 61. “Jennicor.. Jennicor my love, are you awake?”
  62. 62. Flickering her eye lids awake, Jennicor felt a warm presence beside her. “Mmm?” “Do you know what today is?” her husband whispered in her ear. “The day I wish I had not been awakened before I was ready?” “No my love. Today is the final day before our birthdays.”
  63. 63. “What?” gasped a startled and now oddly awake Jennicor, turning to face Jon. “Already? But it can not be my love, I do not what to be.. Old. There is too much to do!” “Agreed Jennicor. And I have been thinking, and it would not suit our current working arrangement at all” “Then is there some way you have found to cheat our aging, dear husband?”
  64. 64. “No my love, I fear we cannot stop the inevitable march of time.” Jon Smith smiled, despite his wife‟s face falling. “No, but the money Bayes gives this family is too great a sum to lose and demands must be kept. Fricorith is as dedicated to the business as I am, but cannot do it all alone - and so what I propose is that we get some help.” “Oh my love, what an idea! But.. Where would we get anyone who would be willing to help us?” “I have a plan Jennicor.”
  65. 65. “As you always do. And I shall hear it in detail my darling; but first - I have a different kind of plan.” she smiled. “I know.” her husband grinned back. ----
  66. 66. With their elder birthdays approaching faster with each passing hour, it was that very afternoon that Jon Smith and Jennicor went to action. “The Sloane Foundling Hospital? My love, are you sure?” “Yes Jennicor.” “But, this place..” “Exactly why I chose it, my dear.” he finished for her, and pushed open the door to the slightly run down looking building.
  67. 67. Stepping through the door, the couple were confronted with a shabby entrance room, with and equally shabby looking man behind an even shabbier desk. He did not notice the Tricous as his head was bent deep in thought over a thick ledger, and it was not until Jon cleared his throat that his eyes raised from the pages.
  68. 68. Quickly slamming the ledger shut and crossing his arms, the man glared at the two visitors with a harsh looks. “No I am sorry, but we simply cannot take in any more foundlings at this point – we are just too full! Our resources are already stretched far too thinly as it is and I cannot afford to add any more children to the hospital. So I‟m very sorry good Sir, but you must take them else where.”
  69. 69. “Oh, but you have it all wrong..” sighed Jennicor sweetly, and clasped her hands together in what she hoped was a charming fashion. “Indeed,” agreed Jon, “we wish to adopt some of your children Sir – take them off your hands, not bring you more! To help us work on our, erm, family farm!”
  70. 70. “You er, you are sure about this?” asked the proprietor, a bit taken a back. “Nobody ever wants our kids, you see. Not that there‟s anything wrong with them of course!” he added hastily. “But.. Not many travel to this part of town.”
  71. 71. “Ah, but I need children with strong backs to help me as I advance in years and I have heard that yours would be perfect.” “Why yes! I do not see why they would not do.” said the man excitedly, and jumped up to Jon sensing a genuine opportunity to offload as many wards as possible. “Strong backs you say? Hard workers? Well, I can do that for you. How many do you need? Would you accept some young girls, if they are strong enough?”
  72. 72. “I do not see why not.” Jon smiled. “Just so long as they can put in a good day‟s work.” “Excellent, excellent! Well, then Mister..?” “Tricou.” “Mister Tricou – I am Oliver Sloane, and it is a pleasure to do business with you. I shall fetch some suitable children at once.” “You as well Sir.” Jon replied coolly, and took the man‟s hand.
  73. 73. “Oi! Latrine-scrubbers! Bring your hides over here this instant – you are getting adopted!” “Are you sure this was a good idea?” hissed Jennicor. “This place does not exactly fill me with a sense of quality.” “Exactly..” murmured her husband. “The children will not be missed.”
  74. 74. Three scruffy teenagers traipsed out of the door leading into the rest of the hospital, and shuffled to line up behind Sloane. “So, what do you think Mister Tricou?” he grinned. “These are three of my best.” The Asian girl scratched meekly at her hand with her eyes fixed on the Tricous, while the boy next to her seemed more interested in keeping his gazed locked anywhere else. But the third teenager boldly looked at Jon and waved cheerily at him, a big smile plastered over her face.
  75. 75. “Well, they appear as good children as any.” Jon said with a nod of approval. “They all look healthy enough, and of good constitution.” “Yes..” agreed Jennicor, scratching her chin. “It is a good start. But I fear we may need more than this my darling. Mr. Sloane, have you any more orphans that may meet our criteria?” And eager nod from the proprietor assured her that he knew just the ones. “Wonderful. Husband, you go with Mr. Sloane and take a look at these others, and I shall inspect these three here.”
  76. 76. “It does not seem such a difficult request to me!” In the back courtyard of the foundling hospital, two teenaged boys had sought solitude from the younger children, and to be honest, the lice that also roamed the floors inside. “Sloane does no even appear to be trying!” continued the darker of the two, as he stalked up and down the wall. “No wonder we are still suck in this hellhole.”
  77. 77. “Why does it matter to you so much anyway?” asked the other. “You‟ve been here most of your life Taylor, and this is just the way things are. And I don‟t blame Sloane for that, at least he has the decency to keep this place going for the younger ones who need him. We could get by quite well on our own now, and so it is our place to help him protect them when the small ones would be so much worse off without this place. We have had our time.”
  78. 78. “No we have not!” spat the first boy. “Or at least I have not, it is no concern of mine if you feel you are done Ocean. Sloane promised me a family, and I deserve one. I have done my time chewing crusts and begging passers by to spare a coin, it should be the young ones who now have to live that life. And the just rewards given to whom they are due. I want out of here, and I want to prove I am just as worthy as any of them to belong.”
  79. 79. “Do not be so ridiculous.” sighed the blonde. “There is never going to be any happy ending for us Taylor, that is just the way that the world works. True we may leave this place, but not for a life of love and family that you seem so desperate to claim you‟ve earned. We are not anything special, just born into the gutter to die right back into it.” “Ah, but tell me you would not take it if it happened to you Ocean.. Tell me that!” “In a heartbeat. But it never will be Taylor, not to any of us. Love may well be a myth for all we know.”
  80. 80. “Ah boys, there you are!” grinned Sloane, opening the door before Taylor could once again snap angrily back. “I have a special visitor for you to meet.” “Oh good, another cabbage merchant wanting to measure his stock again the size of our heads.” “Quiet Ocean! It could be someone who wants to.. Who wants to..”
  81. 81. “..take us out of here.” Taylor finished, as Jon Smith closed the door behind him. “Are these them?” he asked. “Why yes Mr. Tricou, indeed they are!” Sloane said in his best-possible-happy-voice. “It is a wretch to give them up, but I have no doubt that they will serve you equally – no, better! – than they have served me. Please, go ahead.”
  82. 82. “You boy, you are a good worker?” Jon asked as Taylor came running up. “Oh yes, Sir! The best. I have been training myself my whole life so that when the time came I would be head and shoulders above the rest. And if you wish, I will give that strength to you, and your family.” “Oh goat..” sighed the blonde, and rolling his eyes and went back to leaning against his wall.
  83. 83. “Excellent, excellent! That is just what I like to hear. Now, have you ever had any experience in farming?” “Well.. No Sir, but I have an excellent record in the extermination of vermin in this street. Hard work alone is all that is needed when you have my skills and intelligence.” “Vermin? Ha ha, you do remind me of my Grandson ever so!” smiled the Tricou. “He always refers to what we do as.. But never mind.”
  84. 84. “Your work ethic is most admirable boy, but tell me. Would you be truly willing? To do whatever is asked of you, to work harder than you have ever imagined, and to do so every day. Would you be willing in short, to dedicate the rest of your life to my family?”
  85. 85. With a stoic face, the orphan locked eyes with the man and nodded once. “To the end.”
  86. 86. After patting the first boy on the back, Jon Smith‟s eyes turned to the second on the floor. “And you boy? Are you willing to dedicate yourself to my family?”
  87. 87. Sighing, Ocean picked himself up off the flagstones. “Well Sir, if your family has a spare bed and eats a hot meal more than once a winter; then I would be found willing to leave with you.”
  88. 88. “Splendid!” Jon clapped his hands together and looked at the boy. “You certainly seem to be the strongest looking yet. You are also obedient I trust?” “I will work hard when required, if that is what you are asking.” “So I have your dedication?” “Sir I will work for you, even alongside Taylor is necessary, but I think that the things you speak of require more time to be bound than thirty seconds in a courtyard.”
  89. 89. “Such insolence, when I offer you a home and life, you little-” But he paused. “What.. What is this on his face?” “Do not poke me in such a- OW!” cried Ocean as Jon started to grab him.
  90. 90. “Ah yes. Um, well.” Sloane was hesitating, hoping that he could have got through this without the other man noticing. “Although this one is most strong he is also.. I shall give him to you at a great discount Sir! After all he is oddly named, oddly mannered and.. Has a strange habit of rubbing coal dust under his eyes. I‟ve never been able to fathom why, Sir!” “Because he‟s a blondie bimbonic MORON!” mcoked Taylor, as he watched Ocean being tugged around by Jon Smith.
  91. 91. Shaking his head, the Tricou released the boy. “That is the strangest thing I have ever heard.. But no matter, he is strong though albeit it not as favourable as the other.” Behind him, Taylor did a small victory dance. “But yes. Sloane – I shall take them both.”
  92. 92. Now that the two older boys had joined the rest of the group, Jennicor surveyed the five teenagers in front of her, while Jon dealt with Sloane. “I assure you Sir, money really is no object for our family.” Taylor‟s ears pricked up. “Indeed? How excellent..” grinned Sloane. “But that is a fair price for the five I think, especially when one takes into consideration their quality.” “Five..” said Jennicor quietly.
  93. 93. “Mr. Sloane, I hate to be a bother, but..” “Yes, Mrs. Tricou?” “I believe we could do with one more.” “A sixth Jennicor?” questioned her husband. “Yes, six will be a nice round number. Have you any stock left?” “Well, I suppose there is one..” Sloane said slowly.
  94. 94. “NO!” A sudden cry came form the blonde teenager. “Not him, please.. That is not fair. He‟s just a child!”
  95. 95. “You. Get up. And put down that ridiculous thing, I have no idea how you found it again.”
  96. 96. “Me, Sir?” “Yes you, I don‟t see anyone else hiding in the corner. Now put it DOWN.” “A nice lady with a funny necklace gave it to me. She said I was the cutest child she had seen in a long while, she seemed nice. She gave Ocean three coins as well! But he spent them on butter- scotch and humbugs for me, he always looks after us. And-”
  97. 97. “I do not remember giving you permission to talk. Now come, you are being taken away by man paying me far more than you are worth. You are to work on his farm, and judging by his tone I can bet my entire year‟s wages that you won‟t be getting any more butter-scotch from now on.”
  98. 98. “But I d-do not want to be taken away by a s-strange m-man who does not frequent sweet shops!” “That is no concern of mine.” “B-b-but I am afraid!”
  99. 99. The pleas fell on deaf ears, as Sloane went to grab the small boy‟s arm. “You should be, because if you do not go to him this instance than I will beat you to within an inch of your life. Maybe even less than that if you do not stop snivelling.” “I.. I..I-” “QUIET!”
  100. 100. “Is there a problem in here?” The silky-smooth voice broke the room as Jennicor glided in, a sweet smile spread upon her lips. “Because I would hate for there to be a problem.” Quickly Sloane mumbled that no no, everything was just fine, and he backed away from the child who was now gazing up at the strange woman.
  101. 101. “Was that man bothering you, my dear?” “N-no, I-I was j-just..” “Hush now. There is no need to be scared! I am here now, and I will look after you.” “You will? Really?” gasped the little boy. He had never seen such a glamorous lady before and was awestruck. And now she was offering to look after him. Him!
  102. 102. “Of course, my sweet. Now, how would you like to come home with me?” “R-Really? So you want to b-be my new.. M-M-” “Your Mother, that is correct. My husband and I have been looking for a little boy just like you.” “You have? You really want m-me?”
  103. 103. “Oh my darling.. Would I ever lie to you?” ----
  104. 104. “RIGHT!” Later that afternoon, Jon, Jennicor and their six new adopted children arrived back at the House of Fallen Trees. “Listen up you lot, we are your new parents. You shall call me Father and my wife Mother, and this is your new home. So come inside.” “But be QUIET about it!” barked Jennicor.
  105. 105. Several of the children gasped as they stepped inside. The Tricou estate was like nothing they had ever seen with its richly decorated interior, and expensive ornaments and paintings wherever one looked. “Do not touch ANYTHING.” hissed Jennicor, seeing where their gazes fell. “This is a funny place for a farm.” said the youngest boy. “Yes.. It is.” agreed Ocean nervously. “Oh, you will be surprised!” laughed Jon Smith. “Yes. You will.” said another voice.
  106. 106. All eight sets of eyes turned to look at where the voice had spoken from, and saw its owner at the top of the stairs. “You will be surprised, all of you. But I am not. These are the children you were speaking of, Grandfather?” she said, as she started to descend the staircase.
  107. 107. “Gvaudoin..” smiled Jennicor, as she saw her Granddaughter come towards them. And for the first time that day, it was a sincere expression. “Yes, beautiful child. These are they.” nodded Jon. “Have you seen your cousin today?”
  108. 108. Gvaudoin stopped, and spoke to those below in a smooth, cool voice. “Yes, I thought this might be them. They are.. Interesting. What an idea this was on your part, Grandfather. However.. It is of no consequence. And as for Fricorith? Yes, I have seen him. He is where he always is, not that that will come as any surprise to you. I am his cousin, not his keeper. That task appears to have fallen to you, Grandfather. I take no part in his comings or going, it is not my way.”
  109. 109. “Someone got out of the wrong side of bed this morning!” laughed Ocean. “Yes, it seems so!” Tyler giggled. “M-maybe she sleeps upside-down, like a bat!” he added. “Haha, I would not put it past her! My, I would not like to be her cousin, whoever this poor blighter is! What a witch..”
  110. 110. “How dare you speak about my Granddaughter that way?” hissed Jon Smith, turning round to cast a glare on the two of them. “You two will hold your tongues, until you have learnt your place here!” “Would you care to join us, Gvaudoin?” called Jennicor ignoring them. “Your Grandfather was just about to bring the children on a tour of the.. Facilities.” “No, I think I will be pass Grandmother. It does not suit me at this current time.”
  111. 111. “Nor any other time for that matter.” she finished, and turned back upstairs. No Grandmother, it does not suit me at all..
  112. 112. “Well then,” said Jon as he turned back to the orphans, “I think it is time I showed you what you will be doing for me during your time here.” “At last!” grinned Taylor. The girls looked on with interest as well, but Ocean merely turned and looked out of the window with a sigh. “We will begin upstairs.”
  113. 113. “This – is the holding area.” he declared as the six climbed the staircase behind him to the top floor of the house. With this declaration, the orphans slowly began to look around the room.
  114. 114. “Holding area for what?” asked the Asian teenager eventually. Four of the children had chosen to stick close together, and it had taken a while for them to pluck up the courage to ask their new Father. “This is the strangest farm I have ever since..” whispered Tyler, and went to hold on to her apron for comfort. “There‟s not even a ducky!”
  115. 115. “Well I think it is brilliant!” declared Taylor, looking around the area with glee. “Look at all this stuff, it‟s amazing!” “That is one word for it..” said Ocean slowly, peering into one of the metal holdings.
  116. 116. “There are an awful lot of cages up here.. I wonder what they could be for?” “For holding blonde freaks wearing make-up!” jeered Taylor. “What do you think?”
  117. 117. “Yes.. What do you think?” asked Jon Smith as he came over to the two eldest boys. “You certainly seem rather blasé about this all.” “What? No! It‟s him Father, it is just Ocean – he never seems to care for anything important. And this is of course very important! I never meant to suggest otherwise! I would never show such insolence Sir, unlike some.” “Ah, I see.”
  118. 118. “But you are in fact right.” he continued. “Wha- I am?” “Yes. We do put blonde freaks in here. And many others of course, before they are to be taken downstairs for processing.” “..Processing? Well what is that supposed to mean!”
  119. 119. “I thought you said you did not show insolence boy..” said the Tricou with a yawn. Taylor was quick to splutter protests, desperately trying to curry back favour with the man. Damn you Ocean.. He fumed to himself. “Father, I tire of it up here!” said one of the girls. “It is cold and dank and I do not care for it.”
  120. 120. “Really?” “Yes Father. I wish that we should leave now. At once!” Jon chucked. He motioned for Taylor to gather the three cowering in the corner, and with a sly grin Taylor did just that. Ocean stared once more at the cage in front of him. It was perhaps the sturdiest of the room, and the chains inside looked particularly tight and unforgiving. “I would not like the be the one in there..” he said quietly, and shaking his head followed Taylor.
  121. 121. “Father!” “Yes my dear..” “Theresa!” “Theresa. Ah, a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. And a smart one, so I agree that we should be leaving here now. Come children – we should hurry.”
  122. 122. Underneath the House of Fallen Trees was situated a large cavern, and it was here that Jon Smith next led the orphans. As he descended the final set of stairs, he heard a scream echo from the room ahead. Smiling, he went forward.
  123. 123. “Oh my – what a stench!” gasped Marissa, as she and Ocean took up the rear of the procession. “It is unbearable.” “Something tells me we may have to get used to it..” “What, do you mean-” But they were both stopped by another scream, this time followed by high pitched laughter.
  124. 124. As blood from the table spattered onto his face, the boy continued to laugh. He looked down as his handiwork fell to completion. And smiled some more. Oh, he was good.
  125. 125. “Welcome children, to your new home!” “Oh my..” gasped Marissa, as all six of them took in the scene in front of them. “O-O-Ocean..” wobbled Tyler, and the older boy put his hand on his shoulder. “What is the matter with you all?” said Taylor as he folded his hands. “This is.. This is..” he faltered.
  126. 126. “This”, said Jon Smith, “Is my Grandson – Fricorith Tricou.” Taylor‟s eyes immediately narrowed as he stared at the boy no more than he age, rubbing his hands together looking over the body of a man twice his size. Grandson? Well, that did not seem fair!
  127. 127. “You have been busy I see Fricorith?” “Yes Grandfather, as always.” “And this is..” Jon asked, gesturing to the body. “I know not. Other than number eight today.”
  128. 128. “Ah, I knew you would not let me down!” cried Jon, and clapped the boy on the back. “Thank you Grandfather! As always it has been a pleasure to aid you, and your valuable work.” “That‟s my boy.”
  129. 129. “Are these them?” Fricorith asked, meaning the five shocked orphans in the doorways and the one still pouting from observing the family embrace. “Yes, the six strongest your Grandmother and I could find to help us. Seeing as how you have done such good work, my boy, would you care to address them?” “Oh, I would be happy to, Grandfather.” he said, and turned to the doorway.
  130. 130. “Now listen, you bunch of worthless orphans. You have been brought here to work for my illustrious Grandfather, and thusly also for me. We run a successful family business, and I will not have you getting in our way and messing it up. But that said, we have too much work to do – my Grandfather and I. And so it is unfortunate to say that alas we need you. But as you are now Tricous, we expect nothing but your hard work and allegiance to this family as I presume my Grandfather has already made clear.
  131. 131. As I said, we have too much work on our hands and this place has fallen foul of it. It has become a mess, and it shall be your task to keep it clean from all the.. debris, that somehow manages to accumulate here. Maybe one day if you prove your worth, you will fully be able to assist Grandfather and myself with our work, but” Fricorith laughed again, “we can hardly expect miracles.”
  132. 132. “Just you wait, nephew” said Taylor icily. “I do not want to clean, I am no good at cleaning.. Father do I have to clean?” whinged Theresa. “Wait one second.” said Ocean with a scowl. “I can see as plain as anyone what is in front of me here, and that the smell of death lingers in this room. You speak of work, of business but tell me this – what manner of duty could possibly call for this?”
  133. 133. “A fine question” trilled Fricorith, and skipped over to a wall where many shelves lay. “This is what we do!” he gestured. “We collect, bottle, and ship the finest blood to the undead! The orders and quantities are sent to us along with payment, and Grandfather and I fulfil them. You see these bottles behind me? This is our product! You will find no finer in all the land.” “And no finer at collecting it than Fricorith.” added Jon proudly. “Indeed.”
  134. 134. “But you see, we do not have nearly enough product! We need to harvest more to keep up with the demands! And so therefore Grandfather and I shall be very busy. Do not think to bother us with your pitiful needs. You want something, you sort it out yourself and it is no concern of mine. The blood is all that matters. And what we must do to obtain it. The tools will not sharpen themselves. Now GET TO WORK!”
  135. 135. With that, Theresa passed out cold on the stone floor. It was too much, it was just too much..
  136. 136. “Ocean.. W-what are we going t-to do?!” “It will be okay Tyler, do not panic. It will all be alright.” “Y-you prom-mise?” The older boy bent down and held the child tight, and as reassuringly as he could. “Yes. One day, everything will be alright.” ----
  137. 137. But does it really matter who is there to hold us? In the end they cannot stop the world from turning, horrors from rising, or keep us from the events that inevitably come to pass. We are bound by our thread, as is everybody else. The only question is now – are these threads strong enough not to break? For Cecily and the Orphans, that question was soon to be answered. ----

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