Greed and Avarice.
His hot clammy hand firm on my shoulder, his loathsome, gap-toothed grin beaming down at me as he fingered the gold coins in his hand. Their vile clinks taking up the silence, I just look at him calmly, my dark eyes just watching him calmly, even though I felt anything but calm.
"You got me a good price me girl, don't disappoint me now with your new master." His smile was rotten. My hands were loose so I quickly struck him down and felt his nose crack under my fist as he fell backwards, his arm lying in an odd angle; realising it was broken bile rose to the back of my mouth. I swallowed quickly as my new owner pulled me away laughing and away from the reach of my previous owner into the jeering crowd.
"Not bad little one, who would have known a scrawny little girl like you, could have such a punch? I will have great use for you." His laugh was not pleasant at all. With him holding my right arm in an iron-like grip, he dragged me through the ally ways.
"Welcome to dead man's ally old man, oh? And his young friend, a tad young to be in that line of business, eh? Young miss." I bristled at his mocking tone and looked expectantly at my new master to sort out the cur, who still hadn't shown himself. But his face was etched with the greatest fear I had ever seen.
I gave the arm that was clenched on mine a shake. He tore his face away from the shadows and looked down at my young face, his eyes widened slightly at my concern and he smiled a gentle smile to try and reassure me. I could feel him trembling.
"Excuse me, sir?" My master looked back down at me sharply, startled at the smooth clarity to my voice, I could tell the other one was as well after all my voice betrayed my true age. "Can you please show yourself, you are causing unnecessary emotions in my master, can you stop that? Please?" There was a shocked silence for a few moments and then there was an echoing laugh, his laugh.
"I thought I told you not to bring slaves into my domain." My new master winced and looked back to the shadows and He stepped out of the shadows. "Of course little one, anything to spare your master."
My master took a step back in fear and tried to pull me back with him; I just gave him an exasperated look and held my ground, looking expectantly up at the giant of a man looking at me in wonder. "Are you not afraid of me little one?"
"Why should I be, after all I have seen bigger," I gave a full examination with my eyes, I watched him stiffen as he noticed the colours of my eyes. "And frankly I have also seen uglier." My master dragged me back.
"What are you doing? Are you trying to get us killed?" I shook my head at him and looked at the giant who was staring openly at me in wonder.
"He won't hurt me, he doesn't hurt girls. And in case you haven't noticed I am a girl." I gave him a patronising sneer. His hand whipped out and caught me fully on me left cheek; it pulled me out of his grasp and onto the ground. I looked up at him in wonder, holding my cheek, he stiffened when he realised it hadn't hurt me. "You can try again on the other side if you wish master." I stood up and tilted my face to him, he just watched in fear.
"What? Did I do something wrong, master? I just want to know if my other side will hurt."
"Why didn't it hurt before little one?" Asked the giant as he knelt to pick me up in his muscled arms.
Holding me in his arms I looked up into his dark brown eyes. "Huh, I thought they were black." I thought.
"After a lifetime of bone-breaking beatings, I just don't feel the weak ones anymore." Both my master and the stranger look at me in open horror. Holding me in the crook of an arm he used his free hand to fish into his skin tight breeches to pull out a small pouch of money.
"For your girl and the inconvenience, don't let me ever find you here again am I understood Marius?"
"Yes, Black Prince." My already ex-master melted into the shadows. Looking back up to the "Black Prince" I searched his scarred brown features with no emotion.
"Thank you sir, but would you please put me down, I am suddenly feeling a spot of vertigo." He looked at me startled and then smiling gently he complied.
"That better?" I nodded. "Good now, come this way and I am not a sir, I am Roderick, remember it as my name alone will probably save your life more than once."
Roderick escorted me through the remnants of a once flourishing part of the city.
"Where are we going?" I asked putting my hand in his bag paw of a hand.
"To my home, my Palace of Furtificus," Looking down at me he smiled gently, half expecting me to cringe away, instead I shuffled closer. "No one will hurt you there okay? For everyone follows the same rule, Nunquam palor ex veneratio, justicia quod a decens farina. Never stray from honor, justice and a decent meal." He burst out laughing. I just looked at him, not understanding his joke. Realizing I wasn't laughing with him, he scooped me up into his arms again, ignoring my small squeak of protest and deposited me onto a burly shoulder. "Look Meus carus, my Palace of Furtificus!" He dramatically swept his arm to a death trap of a ruin of an old mansion. The silence was taken up by cries of birds.
"Rody, Rody! Rody!" The cries actually belonged to a group of small children that were speeding towards us.
Kneeling down easily, I slid off just before his body was buried beneath the bodies of the small ones, only one or two held back, watching me warily. Roderick's head surfaced momentarily to grin wolfishly at the stragglers.
"Don't worry she wont bite." They threw themselves onto him. I laughed quietly and the children stopped abruptly and stared at me as if I was some different kind of species, Roderick stared also. I looked back at them simply.
"Don't mind them, I don't know who is the bigger kid them or him." Came a new voice, I turned my head slightly and saw the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
"That's okay miss; I've dealt with worse behaving children." I swore I could see a vein swell in her head.
"Miss? I am sorry but I am not a miss." He paused, a rueful smile playing on his lips, I jumped in.
"I am so sorry, it's just you look so beautiful I assumed you were a woman, I am deeply, deeply sorry." He just pulled me into a hug and replied with a faked choked up voice.
"This one's mine! I like her, she's got good taste!"
"Let her go Valerian." Roderick said laughing prizing off the last of the kids off him. Dumping a kid in Valerian's arms he pulled me away into the arms of another woman (a real one this time!) I looked up to see her smile down at me; she was really, really tall!
"I am Elaina, Roderick's wife, I am probably the first to ask but what is your name, little one?" I pulled my self out of her arms and gave a dignified bow, suited to one of my rank.
"I am Alexandra ShadowStar, I am the first elite female butler, and I am in your service until you decide otherwise." I stood straight and they noticed the proud white of my shirt and the black silk of my waistcoat and the darkness of my formfitting black breeches, befitting my station, my long, crimson hair flapping behind me. Elaina slapped me suddenly across my face. Hard!
"You are a free person now, you will never bow to anyone again, we will treat you as such, and you owe us no favors." She glared at me silently, almost daring me to argue. I just smiled happily at her and watched, fascinated, by her blush I leaned forward and gave a warm crimson cheek a kiss. Slapping a hand to where I kissed her she blushed a deeper red and ran away to hide behind Roderick. He had been watching from about where I bowed to the kiss and was now doubled over trying unsuccessfully to smother a laugh.
"Did I do something wrong Miss Elaina?" I held out a hand, fear and worry seeping into my face. Elaina's face changed from the confused blushes to a sort of angry understanding. She crept out from behind him, her smile tentative.
"It's alright; it's the etiquette of your training." She held out a hand, I took a cautious step forward and clasped her hand.
"Thank you." I said warmly, Elaina's face heated up again, and by now Valerian was watching as well as Roderick, now both of them were laughing. Elaina's smile became a scowl, the transformation in her face was small but terrifying, as one moment she was a blushing young woman, to a stern faced warrior woman.
"Oh, shut up the both of you, or I'll do something nasty that I'll really not regret doing." She threatened. Their grins were immediately gone and an edge of fear shone in their eyes. Turning to me again her smile returned, oblivious to the faces she was receiving behind her. Not until she saw my shoulders shake infinitesimally from suppressed laughter did she turn round, catching in them in the act, they ran away. I burst out laughing then and a sort of relieved look passed her face.
"Thank goodness, I thought that maybe you might have been trained not to be normal."
"Normal, define normal?" I asked my head tilted to the left. My hair dancing on my back, even tied up it still reached my waist.
"Not allowed to show any emotion."
"On the contrary, I was trained to control my emotions and only let them out at opportune moments to get our opponents to lose focus; to trip them up." I sighed. Elaina nodded, as did one of the children, copying her, I smiled and knelt down to the boy; who hid behind Elaina's leg.
"I am Alexandra, what is your name?" the boy looked up at her and then at me again.
"Cameron, I'm Cameron." The boy said his cheeks flushing at my undivided attention.
"I am pleased to meet you, Cameron." I held out my hand, waiting, until he cautiously put his in mine. I shook it gently smiling broadly as he returned it vigorously. He took a step forward and put his arms round my neck, jumping onto my knee, meaning he wanted to be lifted. I lifted him up, my arms unused to holding anything other than a weapon. Elaina looked at me in wide eyed wonder.
"Can you do magic, I was told that butlers can do magic." His kind smile took on a worried look. "I know that look, that's the look my mom uses when someone goes to heaven." My eyes widened at this. I smiled at him easing his worry.
"Anyone, not just butlers can use magic, but there is a condition to use magic." He looked at me, he put his small palm on my cheek and wiped his hand on his top, I hadn't realized I had been cut and bleeding. "Thank you. The only way to use magic is if that person is close to death, meaning that they are dying."
"Does that mean you won't see them again after they are finished?" I gave a mirthless laugh at his innocent question. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.
"Why do you look so sad? Can you use magic?" I continued watching him, his eyes innocent, and the same colour of the black prince. I nod. Both Elaina and Cameron gasp.
"Does that mean your dying?"
"Normally, yes, but you see I have already died." Elaina gasped sharply and tried to take Cameron from my arms, but he clamped his arms tighter around my neck. Elaina gave up slightly, only after I nodded.
"How did you die? Asked a new voice, both Cameron and I looked down to see a little girl, about up to my thigh, "How?" I knelt down and sat on the dusty ground; another and another and another child came up and sat around me, all expecting a fairytale. Elaina motioned for me to stand up; I did, and she produced a stool and cushions for the children and I. Roderick and Valerian chose that moment to walk around the corner, their eyes widening at the sight. They looked at each other and joined the circle.
"What's the story about Cameron?" he asked his son.
"Allie," he paused to look at me, almost for permission for the nick-name and to tell him.
"Its okay; to tell that is." Cameron nodded grinning at me slightly, but all serious when he faces his dad.
"Allie is going to tell us the story on how she died and came back and can still use magic." Both Valerian and Roderick stiffened. They glanced at me and I shrugged.
"This is a story I'm sure everyone would like to hear." He put two fingers to his mouth and let out a long two note whistle. From almost everywhere men and woman came and sat with the children. Finally after what seemed forever everyone sat. Roderick nodded to me. I look around at the different faces, young and old, clear and scarred. And I take a breath, lifting my face up and I shake my head slightly. I start my story still looking up at the sky.
"Once a long time ago, I was like these children, free." I bring my face down and the group gasp, their faces filled with horror and revulsion for when I shook my head I had removed a spell. "Then I was found. My family slaughtered, and I was taken into slavery, these scars on my face are the wounds I received as my "awakening" of a slave, that I am no more than a slave and I would only realize this under true pain. My face, my body, my organs, were cut, burned and poisoned to make me realize this truth. This started when I was 6 and didn't stop until I reached 19, and still I fought. One would say craziness, one could say stubborn and another could say my desire for freedom was sheer unadulterated determination, personally I say a little bit of all." I gave a small chuckle.
"I was sold finally to a nobleman, a child, who admired my stubbornness. He taught me to read and write, he taught me the etiquette of the nobles of every culture. Then one day he asked me if I had a name before I was taken, for you see I was named Jezabel snake, because of all the poison my body took made my bite venomous hence the name snake. I told him the name I was born with and then I told him my taken name." I paused when an adult rose their hand, I glanced up at their face; it was a woman with a scar running straight under her eyes. "What?"
"Why did you have a taken name?"
"Because I can use magic and not be dying," the crowd gasped. "For this story, my life story is also the story on how I died and lived again. My master, his name was Lord Ciel Phantomhive; he had a demon as a butler, an ex-soldier as a cook, a scientific experiment- a little boy- as a gardener, and an assassin as a maid. They took me in and helped me, and he was only 10 years old." I smile at the memories.
"Then there was an attack on the Phantomhive mansion. All the servants strove together and defended the building; during my "awakening" I was taught every type and style of fighting, I had recovered fully by then, so I joined the fight much to everyone's surprise. And I was good. At the fighting at least, although Ciel ordered them to live, I killed a couple of them." I shook my head, I felt no remorse, I noticed a couple of the adults were looking at me in fascinated horror. "But you see he wasn't upset I killed them, no he was more upset I defied him." I smiled a Cameron who was creeping closer and loser to my leg when finally I put my hands under his arms and pulled him onto my lap. "He and Sebastian –the demon butler- trained me to be a butler and sent me to the academy. The academy suffered bankruptcy shortly after I graduated. But by then I served the young master to the best of my ability, being the first female in many ways, and his fiancée's elder cousin took a shine to me and tried to buy me from him, of course he refused." I eased the worried look from Cameron's face with a long nailed finger, gently. "And then I had my 21st birthday, they made a splendid party and Miss Elizabeth and May made me wear a dress for the first time ever; by then I had grown to have feelings again after shutting them out for so long. For the first time in years, I cried that night. And I danced with everyone, Sebastian, Jonathan, Philippe and even May!" I sighed, smiling at the memory, not seeing everyone's faces soften at my expression. "At that night I met my soon to be husband. His name was Lord Alaric Drosselmiyer. He was a scientist.
He noticed me standing at one end of the room trying to get away from Dizzies cousin, Erick and he came to my rescue, we danced that night and I couldn't keep my eyes away from him for the rest of the time and when I wasn't looking at him, he was looking at me! Then three months later he proposed and I accepted." I looked at the crowd and saw a slightly jealous look in Valerian's eyes. "It took me a month to tell him of my past but instead of the rage I was expecting he was sad, unhappy and compassionate, but he never pitied me, in fact he admired me for surviving for so long. And well this part I really should say when there are kids round." Instantly hands were clasped around the ears and eager faces surrounded me. I sighed and did the same to Cameron and blushed at the memory I was bringing forth. "We made love for the first time that night and every scar that was on the surface he kissed." Many faces flushed, Valerian's the most.
"I had a daughter year later and she grew up and had a family of her own. But you see I died when my daughter, Jessica, was 6, and moment before my death I became a vampire." I said grimly, Elaina snatched Cameron from my lap and the adults pulled the children away from me. I didn't try to disguise my hurt.
"Please everyone, if she hasn't attacked the children by now, I doubt she's going to." I nodded in gratitude to Roderick, Cameron responded to this by lightly pinching his mother and running back to me.
"I died, but I came back with a loathing for human blood. This part of my story is how I died." I paused sitting down again, but this time cross-legged on the ground without a cushion, with Cameron firmly nestled in the center.
"I was on my way home from a week with the Phantomhives, and I was rushing home to my daughter. I was robbed and-," I paused and covered Cameron's ears, everyone followed suit with the other children. "I was raped, and then my throat was slit, it was raining that night so it took them almost a week for my body to be found by then I was in the middle of the change, for you see a vampire had came across the thieves when they were looting me, I was still alive but barely." I paused long enough to take my hands away from Cameron's ears. "He dispatched them with almost a practiced ease. Then he turned to me and in the gloom of the fire they made, I saw it was my husband, Alaric and the rage and fear that shone in his eyes, but I felt no fear, I just felt happiness and love for him and I think he knew that, for surprise showed through, and he died turning me. You see the older a vampire is the harder it is to make new vampires. And according to his journals he was very, very old. Almost a millennia now." I motioned to Elaina to take Cameron and when he was in her arms I stood up and dusted my self off, I lifted my face to the setting sun and shook my head hiding my scars again. "That was 300 years ago. Finally, vampires became a fashion must have as lovers, assistants and servants, I became a butler again and through the years I was sold on and on until it was elves that were the fashion I was sold to a man called Lucian, he was a vile man he entered me into this arena where mythical creatures such like myself were to fight against each other or a human. I was then bought by a collector; red head vampires are extremely rare for many vampires have their hair go silver when they turn. He died and his second son inherited me, he didn't approve of slavery so he gave me my freedom and I was captured again 20 years later and sold to the man Marius and well you know the rest, as the black prince here bought my freedom not twenty minutes from being bought again." I look around. "I'm finished now." They silently stood up and the children swarmed to me and held onto my legs after a while of them clamping on I lost my balance and fell backwards. They only logical explanation for what happened next was that the children jumped me as I couldn't breath for a couple moments as they smothered me in kisses, begging me to stay.
"Get off her." said an amused but firm voice. Elaina held her hand out to me and helped me up, when I was pulled into her embrace.
"I apologize for the stupidity of our species." She said her voice thick with unshed tears.
I clumsily pat her back, trying to signal that she was cutting off my air supply. Finally she let me go only to be replaced by others.
Finally after everyone had expressed their sympathy Valerian stood forward and took my hand and held it firm clasped between his.
"Ci, que ca Dore na mair tre tor carps." He spoke in an ancient language, one that I thought only I remembered.
"You can't be you're speaking the language of the Ancients!" I gasped; I was not alone in my surprise.
"You're not the only one who has secrets little one." He spoke now with an accent I recognized. It was the same accent of the people of my village.
"Valley?" I asked. He chuckled.
"Gods, I haven't been called that nigh 320 years….. Wait you know that name?" I nod.
"That was the nick name of my brother's best man. My brother was called Joshua, Joshua Flame." His eyes widened.
"Little Lexie?" I nod a strange smile dancing. He stood forward and scooped me into his arms and whilst cheerfully laughing, swung me around. "I can't believe it!" he stopped and I fell to my feet. "Does that mean Clara and Joshua are…," I nod, my heart wrenching at the memories.
"How are you still alive?"
"Deathgods, the Shinigami Odette granted me life for helping her." I look at him and lifted the hair that covered his brow, the scar that I remember him receiving because of me. He put his hand atop of mine, and brought it down to his lips, and his whisper was almost so slight I nearly missed it.
"You are not to blame for that accident, I was hurt due to my own carelessness and mine alone." I looked up at him, my eyes watching his. I finally looked down and sighed,
'I was making sure it was you.' He looked questioningly at me. I looked around everyone had left, except Cameron who was watching us from afar, 'Years ago I came across a Bogart, he took your form for a while and travelled with me, he didn't have your scar so I knew he was a fake.' Valerian grinned, thinking back to when he hired a Bogart private eye to find her and report on her situation.
'He left after a couple months of travelling with me. Saying he had to return to his master.' She shook her head, disgusted with the ideal of masters and servants.
Valerian couldn't blame her after all she has gone through in the past. Living through all that horror she had suffered.
All things under lined are in Latin, and will be translated at end.