Vivian opened her eyes after her dream-like state broke when her fingertips touched a coarse texture on the portrait. Staring at the woman in the painting, looking her in the eye she came to know that the young woman she had seen in the flash of memories was the same person named Louise, mother of the Lord. Something bothered her though, it was the man in the dream.
Walking back towards the portraits she had walked by, she looked at the previous Lord of Bonelake that read Wilhelhum Rune. Clearly, in what she saw the third Lord was Louise' uncle and if she was Nicholas' mother due to the resemblance they shared how was the third Lord his father? Scrunching her brows she wondered why things weren't adding up before it dawned on her. Was it possible that Wilhelhum had married Louise? Unlike the other paintings where the third Lord adorned on the walls, there was only one painting of the lady that was placed away from the rest next to the window. None of them had both of them together in it as a couple, it was something to ponder.
Wondering if she could get answers to the questions she had on her mind, her hands very slowly raised up to the painting that had the third Lord, Lord Wilhelhum in it. A portrait which was probably created after his inheritance to the Lord's title. Though Lord Nicholas had said the butler would be around the corner if she needed anything, she didn't find the old man anywhere near her, unless he was hiding in a place where she couldn't see him.
She wanted to know what these visions she kept having by touching objects. Never had something like this happened before, not until yesterday at least. Placing her hand on the portrait she felt nothing. Looked like not every object told the story and this made her wonder how she would know which one did.
Moving to the next portrait she did the same but there was nothing there either. It was as empty as the one she had touched. Was that she couldn't sense anymore and the ability was limited? A frown placed on her forehead as she walked away from all the portraits that were painted with dull yet rich colors. Even though the portraits were probably cleaned regularly, she could still feel the rough texture on the tips of her fingers.
Crossing a series of windows, she stood by one of them to look at the vast stretch of the lands that surrounded the Rune mansion. Though outside the mansion gates there were a lush amount of trees, inside the mansion held trees that held no leaves at all. Dried ground and dead trees were what it was decorated with. The clouds continued to rain, moving in the direction of the West to pass the cool wind across the other lands. The dress she wore didn't suffice the cold weather, running her hands against her arms she saw Leonard's carriage start and leave the mansion.
"He will be back soon," her head snapped to look at Lord Nicholas who walked to her, taking a stand in front of her to peek out of the window, "The magistrate needed him to get the scrolls signed so that it can be sent this week to the council for approval."
"Okay," Vivian nodded her head, her back stiffer than usual.
She had met and spoken to the Lord before but it was always in the presence of Leonard and now that he wasn't here, she didn't know what to do. If she could, she would have preferred to disappear but something told her she couldn't even if she wanted to such was the presence of the Lord.
"Did you tour around the mansion?" he asked politely.
"Not much. I was still covering this side of the mansion," she then added careful with her words, "The portraits are lovely," he nodded his head with a smile.
His eyes that were the same color as Leonard smiled, "It is, isn't it. My father was a narcist when it came to these things. He enjoyed the complete attention of people while giving them the same. Walk with me, Vivian."
As they walked down the corridor, she commented, "You haven't grown new trees in the mansion," she expressed what she had seen outside the window.
"I thought it would be good to have the old ones die and wither away before the new ones are planted. That way we wouldn't have to worry about the old ones taking the nutrition away from the new plants," and it made Vivian wonder if he was talking about the plants or something else, "I heard what happened this morning. You must be happy and relieved to have the bond broken away," he stated, throwing a glance to her.
Had Leo told him about him removing the master-slave bond from her?
"Leonard didn't tell me," he answered the question without needing to hear it, "The boy seldom speaks about matters that are of concern to him. You haven't met, Toby, have you?" she saw him look ahead with a small smile that was always on his lips, "Toby," he raised his hand in the air.
For a few seconds, Vivian didn't know where this person named Toby was as she waited to hear footsteps arrive which never did. A few more seconds later, she heard flapping of wings when a bird flew in the air to perch on Nicholas' outstretched hand.
"You have a pet," she whispered looking at the crow hop on his arm until it reached his shoulder.
"Is it surprising?" he questioned while petting the bird's head, "Not many know of him."
She then realized what Lord Nicholas and Leonard were speaking about before she came to stroll through the corridors of the mansion.
"I have never seen anyone keep a crow for a pet," she answered truthfully to hear him chuckle, "Can I touch him?" she asked to see the smile on his lips broaden.
"If he allows you too, then why not," Lord Nicholas remarked to see her walk closer to him so that she could but she was shorter in height when compared to the Lord who stood tall.
Intrigued with the bird who had come to Lord Nicholas with just a mention of his name, she raised both her hands while standing at the tip of her toes as she picked the bird. Being gentle, she brought it close to her when she saw another flash of an image appear in front of her eyes. Unable to hold on to it, her hands shook when Nicholas took the bird from her own hands, letting the bird fly away.
"Are you alright?" he asked, his intelligent eyes looking at her.
"I-I am sorry," she apologized, a little breathless and lost.
"Crows are not everyone's favourite so don't worry about it," he consoled her with the same constant smile to ease her, "I usually send Toby to keep an eye on people, not out of suspicion but also care. Leonard grew up here, so he is like a younger brother," Vivian tried to get rid of what she saw but it was hard to concentrate, especially with what she just saw that turned her blood cold, "I cannot help but feel it's my duty to watch over him."
"You don't have any siblings of your own, milord?" Vivian rubbed her sweaty palms against her dress.
"Fortunately, I don't. It is good that Leonard brought you here today, I don't often get to talk to you especially not when he's there batting me away trying to keep you all to himself," at Lord Nicholas' words Vivian felt her face catch flame, "Do you feel the same way about him?" he asked her without beating around the bush.
"I..." she looked at the walls that looked more interesting to her than the conversation they had stepped into. She finally looked at the Lord, "I think it's something between us, milord."
"True, you don't have to answer," Lord Nicholas didn't press the question further.
Though what he said was true about Leonard being like a little brother to him, the Carmichael boy had literally grown up in front of him. He had taught him most of the things he knew, from knowledge to skills.
The amount of interest had turned to affection towards Leonard as he spent time with the boy when he was young. His aloofness was something that attracted people, making them curious. After Leonard's parents died, he hadn't opened up about it and it wasn't something Nicholas would intrude on because he understood the loss. The kind of loss Leonard suffered in front of him.
From the corner of his eyes, he looked at the girl who walked a little behind him.
To think such a simple girl could catch the interest of Leonard was quite surprising to the Lord. After all, Leonard was a handsome man belonging to the highest class of the society, a pure-blooded vampire. She hadn't answered his questions but it looked like the girl held similar interest when it came to Leonard.
Vivian could feel the Lord's eyes on her as they walked through the corridors, her feet only getting stiffer as she felt smaller under his gaze. He didn't ask her anything but she wished he would stop staring at her. Hoping Leo would return back quickly, she sighed softly.
"Have you ever had the opportunity to paint, dear Vivian?" Lord Nicholas asked her opening a particular on their way.
"I, ah, no milord," she answered standing outside.
"What are you doing standing there? Come on in," he invited her stepping into the wide room that held plenty of canvas with a stench of paints filling up the air.
"I didn't know you painted. These are beautiful," she murmured looking at a fresh piece of painting that was still in progress, "You are very talented, Lord Nicholas," she said leaning forward to look at the different colours of paint that blended together to give a definite structure to the landscapes.
Lord Nicholas had walked to one corner of the room to push away few paintings. Paintings that weren't wise to show her. Though he had an inkling that her reaction would be priceless, he would like her to come by the mansion again than Leo stop her from coming here.
"Unfortunately, Leonard never took interest in art," she heard Nicholas speak, pushing the paint away from her dress which she didn't notice before, "Teaching him Piano was much easier though," Vivian raised her brows softly, "You didn't know he played?" she shook her head.
"I never saw him touch the piano. It was always Lady Charlotte playing it."
"He must be shy," Lord Nicholas chuckled, pushing his brown hair behind knowing it wasn't true.
The time when Leonard was being taught to learn the Piano, it was hard to get him to play. The educator who was skilled with the instrument couldn't make Leo sit in front of the piano due to which Nicholas had taken the small job only because of the fondness he had over the boy. Nicholas hadn't forced him but he always made sure to keep Leo around when and as he played until one fine midnight he caught the boy playing the same piece of a song he had played much better than he did.
When the time arrived to leave the mansion along with Leonard, Lord Nicholas said, "It was lovely having you here, Vivian. Do we visit again, it need not be necessary you have company," he looked at Leonard to receive the expected annoyance pass by his handsome face.
"I had a good time. Thank you for having me here," she bowed her head.
"Anytime," the Lord responded back with his signature calm like smile.
"I believe you won't be joining us in the evening today," Lord Nicholas spoke to Leonard.
"I have other matters to attend. You can Rhys to join you men," Leonard suggested his cousin's name.
"Hmm, I doubt he will. He hates it more than you do."
While both Leonard and Lord Nicholas spoke to each other, Vivian decided it was time to get into the carriage. Before she could turn and step into the carriage which the coachman held the door open for her, she noticed something dark lurking behind the mansion which moved and she gulped. Even with the rain, she noticed it. Turning around she got into the carriage, remembering what she saw when she held the Lord's pet crow in her hands.
Momentarily, the memory of what she had seen had been pushed behind but it had resurfaced again.
The images of gore, the sight of pain made her head spin. It was a boy, a boy with black hair who was surrounded by blood and creatures like death she never wished to see who fed on flesh. It was a brief flash of an image which had been caught and stored into her mind.
Before the carriage could start and leave the Rune mansion, Vivian looked at the Lord who looked back at her. His lips smiled at her but there was a question in his eyes as if he knew she had discovered something here today.