The fire was extinguished.
She kept gasping for air, she started to panic and scream.
Will grabbed hold of her, clamping a hand over her mouth to silence her. This only made her more terrified. She clawed at him and managed to rake her broken nails across his cheek. He yelled in pain and let go.
She wriggled out of his grip and ran forward… straight into the arms of Theo.
“Iris, Iris, it’s alright,” he said softly, holding her close. He waited until she stopped struggling. She looked at him with those blue eyes no longer blank but absolutely terrified, bewildered and alive.
“She’s a bloody wild animal,” Will said, smearing the blood on his cheek with the back of his hand.
Iris shrank away at the comment, gripping Theo’s jacket.
“Be quiet sir,” he said.
“You do not tell me what to do,” Will replied, glaring at them. He felt self-conscious of the nail marks on his face.
“Do not worry about your handsome face sir, I am sure you could say it happened on one of your wild ventures.”
“I guess I could.”
She shivered and through chattering teeth said “It’s cold.”
Theo couldn’t help but smile slightly, such a normal thing to say considering the circumstances.
Will removed his jacket and moved forward, Iris tensed up.
“It is alright, he will not hurt you, he is a little rough around the edges,” Theo said and she relaxed allowing him to place the jacket over her shoulders. “This is the new jacket, is that why you brought it?”
Will grinned. “Well you got to give the Lady the finest things, even if it is for chivalry sake.”
Iris stared at him biting her lip nervously. “Is this purgatory?” she asked, turning her eyes back onto Theo.
“No this is not purgatory, this is the world of the living,” he replied.
Iris began to hyperventilate.
“I died,” she said, remembering the sharp drop, the rope that cut into her throat closing off her airways, the agony that followed…
“Iris, do not think about your death,” Theo said, he shook her shoulder lightly to get her attention.
“I can’t.” The memories were becoming too overpowering for her.
“Trust him when he tells you not to ponder upon your death,” Will said, he was leaning against the wooden pole. “He knows the consequences.”
“You are dead,” Iris asked.
“I was but not anymore, and neither are you.” He glanced up at Will and added “Sir I think we best make haste or we will catch our deaths.”
“Or your second deaths,” Will smirked.
Iris looked out of the open window feeling the cool breeze on her face. She spotted the misshaped houses on the edge of the city on one side and rolling green hills and farmland on the other. It was evening and everything was starting to fade from her vision into darkness, only small flickering lights appeared on the city side as the streetlamps were brought to life.
“It is rude to come into a Lady’s room without her permission,” she said, and turned to see Will close the door behind him.
“Well I wanted to see you Miss Iris Cadance, although that isn’t your name really only the one you go by these days,” he said, stepping towards her with his shoes tapping on the wooden floor.
“Does that fact bother you?”
“No it does not, I wanted to let you know that I know who you really are.” He stopped beside the vanity table, he picked up the blood red diamond that had been sparkling in the weakening light.
“I knew that already, in fact I assume you want to use my abilities to your advantages,” she replied, twisting her hair in her hands.
“This would suit you,” he said, holding it up for her to see before placing it back down. “Yes I do if you are willing to.”
“Of course, I feel that it is not likely for selfish reasons.”
“You seem more confident today, I took you for a shy, meek girl,” Will said, taking in her appearance in greater detail.
His eyes burned into her skin and her cheeks were set aflame. She quickly turned to the window.
“I am not a naturally shy and meek girl, I am-“
“A high priestess of a secret order,” he finished.
Her hands dropped to her sides. “Yes exactly.”
“Hardly human anymore.”
She glared back at him and through clenched teeth said, “I am more human than you.”
“Actually the witch and I are more human than you will ever be half-blood,” she said seething with rage.
The smirk dropped off his face and he said icily, “You better curb that tongue of yours Miss Cadance.”
“I will not curb my tongue if you continue to insult me, dog,” she said.
He stiffened at the response and asked “How do you know that?”
“I am trained in seeing into peoples’ souls Will, and I see into your soul most clearly.” She gripped the window ledge. “I also see into Theo’s soul, the poor boy has suffered so much and adores you, like how a younger brother looks up to the older brother. Yet he cannot get out of the habit of servitude no matter how many times you tell him to call you Will not sir.”
He moved forward and grabbed her arm, she cried in alarm trying to push him away. He put his face close to hers.
“You stay away from Theo,” he replied in a low, threatening voice. “I will make no hesitation to kill you if dare try to hurt him.”
“I would not hurt him,” she said firmly.
He unhooked his hand from her arm.
Will pulled away and left the room.
Iris let out a sigh of relief and touched her tender arm where the fading red marks were left by his hand. She felt something dripping down her face and she touch her cheek realising it was tears. She quickly wiped them away.
“Do not cry like a child, you are a woman who must be strong, composed, cold. Do not let emotions rule your head,” she told herself, and crossed the room and sat in front of her vanity table mirror. Her eyes seem bigger because of the grey circles, her skin stark white and her hair badly knotted. She took the golden brush from the table and began to brush the tangled mess. “You are safe here, they think you are dead and these people will protect you for a while.” She put the brush down and reached over to get the powder. “You have to keep up appearances.”
A huge roaring fire cast out excessive heat into the drawing room and chased away any chills.
Theo sat in the huge armchair that engulfed him with his legs crossed and a book in his hands. He pushed his reading glasses onto his nose and noticed movement just above the book page.
“Good evening sir,” he said, and set the book upside down with the page still open.
Will walked over and picked up the book taking care not to lose the place.
“I have told you before, do not call me sir,” he said, “Haven’t you read this already?” He handed the book back.
“I love it, you should read more, it will open that mind of yours up to the endless possibilities sir.” He quickly added “I mean Will sorry.”
Yet he cannot get out of the habit of servitude no matter how many times you tell him to call you Will not sir. Her voice echoed inside his head.
“You look very sullen today, is this about our guest?” Theo asked, noticing he had that inward expression when something was bothering him.
“Our guest has come out of her shell certainly,” he said.
“Indeed she has sir,” Theo replied, stumbling up from his armchair.
He watched Iris enter the room dressed in a wine-coloured dress; the bodice decorated in golden lace patterns, the dress that broke out into full ruffles at the back. The sleeves showed how slender her arms were, her hands were resting on her stomach. Her hair was piled upon her head in glorious ringlets, the blood red diamond hung around her neck.
“Miss Cadance you look as lovely as ever,” Theo said, his nervousness clear in his voice.
“Thank you Theo and please call me Iris, Miss Cadance sounds much too formal.”
“Yes of course miss, I mean Iris,” he stammered, and his cheeks flushed with colour. “Do you want to sit down and have any refreshments?”
Before she could answer Will said “You are not a servant Theo.”
“I am only being polite, anyway we do not have servants here,” he replied.
Will barely heard the reply he was looking down at his hand, were those claws she saw, before he quickly clenched his hand. A tight grin appeared on his face.
There was silence.
A deep, rumbling echo filled the silence for a few, short moments. When they died down they heard footsteps nearby.
“We do not have servants apart from Daisy of course, who answers the door and does some cleaning,” Will said.
A male voice broke through clear and powerful “I wish to see Will.” Loud footsteps stormed down the hallway.
Iris watched as both their faces paled.
“I will stall him,” Theo said, and hurried out of the room.
Iris wanted to go after him, he seemed so breakable and the man advancing sounded like an awful beast from Greek mythology; the Cyclops, the Minotaur.
“You have to hide, he can’t see you alive,” Will said, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards a door.
“I don’t understand, who is he?” she asked, dragging the hem up in order to run across the room, almost slipping. Her hair broke free of the hair grips.
Will wrenched the door open and pushed her inside some storage cupboard.
“Do not come out, make a noise or do anything.”
She opened her mouth to say something but he interrupted.
“I will answer questions later,” he said sharply, and slammed the door.
She was left in darkness, all alone. Her breathing accelerated and she shook more violently. Her mind flashed back to her death and the thought made her feel dizzy.
A single, weak beam of light drifted through the gap between the door and the door frame.
“Keep calm, remember what Will said,” she thought, slowing her breathing. She shifted her position in order to lean forward to put her eye to the gap. She could see him looking towards the door and he appeared to be sick with fear.
Will moved forward and saw the tall figure stride into the room.
“Hello Uncle,” he greeted.
His Uncle glared back at him from under a pair of bushy, black eyebrows. He opened the sharp line of his mouth.
“You do not call me Uncle, Will,” he said.
“Sorry Dorian,” he replied.
Dorian moved forward with his muddy shoes leaving marks on the floor, ungloving his hands slowly. He sat down in the armchair his arms resting on either side. It made Will feel like a child who was about to take a beating from the headmaster. He wouldn’t be surprised if he saw a wooden cane appear in Dorian’s hand.
“I have heard you have expressed a wish to investigate your father’s death.”
Will simply diverted his eyes to the floor.
“Yes,” he replied more nervously than he wanted to.
Dorian narrowed his eyes and barked out an order, “Enter.”
Two men came through dragging Theo inside.
“Theo,” Will said, and rushed over to him however Dorian got up to block him.
Iris shocked by this went to open the door to help Theo but she managed to stop herself. She knew she had to keep hidden, that her appearance will cause more trouble. She gritted her teeth in frustration.
“Get out of my way,” Will growled, his hands stretched out with the fingers elongated and tipped with sharp claws. An animalistic growl escaped his throat. Even his eyes had a yellowish glow to them.
“Let him go,” Dorian commanded.
The men threw Theo to the ground who cried in alarm and spat blood onto the ground.
“Theo, Theo,” Will said, holding him in his arms.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” were the only words that escaped his lips in a distressed cry. He wasn’t talking to Will however.
“What have you done to him?” he asked.
“Simply a trip down memory lane, courtesy of Robert here.” Dorian gestured to one of the men.
“Can you stop it? You know what he has been through.”
“I cannot but it will wear off,” Dorian replied. He began to pull the gloves over his hands. “I want you to not pursue your investigation into your father’s death although really he is not your father is he? You are an adopted thing that my brother and that stupid wife of his doted on.”
“Do not dare call my parents! I will not stop pursuing the lead.”
Dorian sighed heavily. He gestured to the men who grabbed hold of Will.
He kicked and slashed his claws, fangs appeared in his mouth. The men were unnaturally strong and dragged him over to the table where they slammed him onto the table top.
“What are you doing?” Will shouted, craning his neck to try to catch a glimpse of Dorian.
Iris watching this covered her mouth to stop herself from crying out.
“I need to teach you a lesson,” he said, and came back with a blazing hot poker in hand the tip of it was white. He came closer pointing it at Will.
“You can’t do this,” Will said, as the poker came closer. Sweat broke out on his forehead and his skin was heating up. He tipped his head back to get his throat far away as possible from being branded, he closed his eyes in terror. He clenched his teeth. “Oh god, please, please, you can’t do this,” he cried, opening his eyes for a second to see the poker wavering near the hollow of his throat.
“If you agree to not to meddle in the circumstances of my brother’s death, is that clear?”
He didn’t answer right away but as soon as Dorian put the poker uncomfortable close he cried.
“Yes, yes, oh god, yes." Squeezing his eyes shut.
The poker was withdrawn and Will breathed out a sigh of relief.
“However I must make it perfectly clear to you.”
He placed the poker quickly onto Will’s hand which blistered and boiled. He screamed in agony, arching his back.
Iris turned away and fell to the ground in shock and felt sick at the horrific act. The screaming quietened and there was only whimpering.
He removed the poker and thrust it back into the fire.
The men let Will go who grasped his hand, cradling it to his chest.
They followed Dorian who paused to look at Theo.
“Learn to put your pet on a lead he needed to be taught some manners, but then I do wander who is the pet, you being a wild animal dressed in human clothing.”
Will staggered towards Theo who was muttering to himself.
“You are not there, you need to wake up,” he said desperately.
Iris knew the man was definitely gone and quickly opened the door, she rushed over to them.
“Are you alright? Is he alright?” she asked, kneeling beside them.
“No he is not, he is currently experiencing his past memories; nasty, vile things,” Will snapped. Blood was pouring down his hand staining his shirt.
“I can help,” she said, reaching out to touch him but Will shook his head. “Will, please trust me,” she pleaded seeing Theo’s face contorted in pain and tears streamed down his face.
Will nodded and moved away reluctantly.
Iris placed her hands on either side of Theo’s head. Her fingertips started to tingle, she felt the power build up inside of her. It flowed into him draining her of strength. Her hands dropped from his head.
Theo jolted up gasping for air after waking up from a nightmare.
“Are you okay?” Will asked, his eyes scanning him.
He was disorientated and murmured “My head hurts.”
“It will,” Iris said tiredly. She closed her eyes.
“Thank you,” Will muttered.
She smiled slightly. “It is my job right? Please tell me one thing why do you need me?”
“I need you to help me investigate my father’s death.”
“But that man, Dorian, he did not want you to investigate, I mean he is dangerous,” she said, shuddering at the thought of him appearing again. The brand mark on Will’s hand. “He hurt you, you need to treat that wound.” The blood was still flowing.
“This wound makes me want to investigate even more, you will help me in this task to bring him down. I would kill him but there is something more fitting,” he said, and a crazed look appeared in his eyes. “I want you to curse him.”