December 8 at 12:00 AM
Photo by Petr Kratochvil
Lord Vangley smacked Dionte and Deverell across the face with one strike.
"Do you have any idea what you have done? Killing a resident of Vissorouy is forbidden, especially a mortal," his voice echoed through the study. "Melody was a member of the family and loved you as her own. She would have done anything for you!"
"She was not really our taste," they said as one.
Vangley slapped them as hard as he could. "Where were you?" He loomed over them.
The twins looked at the floor.
"There has already been one death this morning." He got to one knee. "Do not make it three."
"The swan," said one.
"Swan, what swan?" The elder scanned over them.
"The Black Swan," said the other. "Like everyone else."
"Deverell wanted to see the girl," said Dionte.
"As did Dionte," Deverell volleyed it back.
"You are lucky to be alive!" Vangley rose. "Do you know what I tell every member of Vissorouy? There is safety in a familiar face. The stranger you do not know may be the last you see."
The two did not look up.
Lord Vangley let the tyrants chew on it for a moment. "So what did you see? I am told that the stranger felled three of our men. Is it true?"
Slowly the boys nodded, their eyes anchored to the floor.
"Did you see this with your own eyes?"
They continued nodding.
"I find this strange. You are no taller than spit on a pint of ale. How did you see inside? Did you go to her room?"
"No." They shook their heads.
"What then? And do not dare lie to me!" He raised his hand.
"We were climbing a tree," said Dionte.
"But Brom was already there," said Deverell.
"After he went inside, we started again," said Dionte, "until Alexandre crashed through the window."
"And landed on his head," Deverell added.
"And then did you climb the tree? Or perhaps you built a ladder instead?" Lord Vangley raised an eyebrow.
"We ran," said Deverell. "All the way home."
"It is true." Dionte nodded.
"As nightfall," said they.
"And we almost made it," said Deverell.
"Until the witch snatched us off the path," said Dionte.
"What? She has been here? She knows where you live?" Vangley raised his hand, but did not strike the boys. He steadied himself, and took a deep breath. "And what did she say?"
"She asked if you sent the others to kill her," said Dionte.
"And what was your reply?"
"I told her that if my father wanted her killed, he would have sent someone far more capable," said Dionte.
"At least you got that part right." The old vampire took out his pipe. "Let this be a lesson to both of you. Death can find us in many ways, even vampires."
Although Lord Vangley wanted to smack the children, he also wanted to hug them. But he could not afford to reveal the soft edges of his heart; such would be reckless. "Is there anything else?" he said.
"She wanted us to give you something." Dionte's eyes returned to the floor. "Her name."
"Let me have it then." Vangley put the pipe in his mouth.
Deverell hesitated. "Enura," he said.
Vangley took a moment to digest the name.
Someone tapped on the door. It cracked open a hair and Olivia's greenish-blue eyes peeked in. "My lord, she is here."