Chapter 10 : Estates and Blood
She did nothing more than watch him now. Watching with a calm gaze as Comyn fell off of the roof. He knew right away that surviving this sort of fall wasn't possible. The rooftop was five stories up, not counting the absurd foundation this mansion had. It felt stupidly perfect to think that Silicon had been dominating his thoughts moments before. He had been wanting to see the stars with her, and this strange woman was only granting his wish- cruelly, but granting it.
There was nothing grab hold of. Nothing to use to break his fall but air. Comyn stretched out his hand and snatched at the nothing, reminding himself that there still was something that he would manipulate with magic, not alchemy. A strong gust of wind interrupted his fall and sent him back up towards the roof. It hurt his bare hands to grab the side of the rooftop, but it was better than falling back down to his death. He struggled to pull himself to the roof before she could react, but the woman's heeled shoes pressed their toe down on his fingers.
"There's no sense in being stubborn. You may be a child, but there will be no mercy for you at the gallows."
"I don't care! I'm not dying here!"
She pressed harder. Comyn worried that his fingertips were at risk of breaking. Then he'd be at a whole new level of disadvantages. Getting to the top of the roof wasn't an option, so he looked down.
"Fine! I'll fall!"
Then released his hand, but not before swinging himself as best that he could towards the lowest window. Shards of glass hurt, but it was far less painful than having his fingers broken or falling to his death. He pulled himself off of the floor and admired the thoroughly broken window. Now the nobility would really be shaken up. They weren't just being robbed, but having their windows broken.
"That'll buy me some time too..."
That strange woman would need to get down to this lower floor, which would surely take her a while. With being so worried about the law, there wasn't any reason to think she might use magic to get down here. He could steal something and be out of here before she caught up with him.
Unfortunately, his assumption about her using magic was false.
"I'll make you pay for that window before you're killed."
Comyn turned sharply and was met with a foot to the face. Her kicks were strong, enough to send him back towards the window. Comyn caught himself before he could topple out, but it was still a close call. When she came for a second kick he dodged, ducking off to one side and withholding the urge to kick her from behind. If he did that then she might fall out of the broken window, and Comyn didn't want to kill her. It was this act of mercy that resulted in her immediately swinging around and throwing a dagger at his chest. It lodged in his shoulder instead, but that was still painful.
"You're too naive. You really wouldn't have done well in prison."
Comyn gripped his shoulder. He'd never been stabbed before. He didn't know if he was supposed to take the dagger out or not. Acair would have known. Why didn't he take Acair with him? His panic allowed his thoughts to derail momentarily, but another dagger being flung at him got Comyn back on track. Comyn let this one hit the wall behind him and went to yank it out. He had never gotten into a knife fight before, but he figured it was better to bring a knife to a fight than nothing at all. That, and it was reassuring to have some sort of weapon.
"Give it up. You're bleeding all over the carpet."
"Heh. Serves you right. Maybe that'll teach you not to invite thieves into your home!"
"That's right. I'm leaving with something and you won't stop me!"
Comyn had felt he was on a roll. He had a knife now and somehow, a knife meant a confidence boost. He was ready to bite back the pain in his shoulder and show this woman what a spoiled noble like her deserved.
A plan that immediately went off course when she lowered her knives and turned to the window.
"Oh. A thief. Well then, do as you wish."
" c huh?"
The glass shards were lifted into the air, a slow and delicate magical move that seemed to purposefully arrange them so they reflected moonlight. The woman who had been attacking him repaired the window with magic, the very window that she had told him to pay for, and then summoned a broom from thin air. Comyn's mind was still trying to process her attitude change when she started sweeping up the dirt his boots had tracked in. Her use of magic was self-serving and illegal, but that wasn't what bothered Comyn.
"... Hey! Hey, I'm a thief, I said I'm robbing your frickin' house!"
"Do as you wish. Milady has been expecting you. Do put on a good show, at least."
" c That's not the reaction I want!"
Stealing was supposed to be making the nobles uneasy! They weren't supposed to be watching his stunts like they were entertainment!
"We've left a selection of valuables on the kitchen table downstairs. If you'd be so kind as to select at least one, we would appreciate the insight regarding your personal preferences."
"What? Why would you do that?"
She scooped the dirt into a dust pan. The broom and pan disappeared when Comyn blinked.
"We're curious. Well then, I will be on my way. Take any of our china or silverware and I will hunt you down personally, Comyn Reid."
He felt a shiver run down his back. Knowing his first name was one thing, but knowing the surname that he had literally buried was another. As much as he wanted to comment on it, there was another matter that he needed to address. A matter was that was lodged into his shoulder.
"Tch... dammit, it's still bleeding."
Comyn hissed at his bad luck, trying to carefully feel around the blade with his fingers. It wasn't in very deeply and he decided to go ahead and yank it out. It was probably the blood he got on the carpet that got the stranger to come back to him. She had a handkerchief out and pressed it against the wound, almost immediately turning it from white to red.
"You bleed so easily... what a bother."
She sighed. The next thing he knew, Comyn was being swept off of his feet by some woman he did not even know. It was humiliating.
"Hey, put me down! I can walk!"
"Not for long, at the rate you're losing blood. Let's get you patched up before you ruin our lovely carpets."
"I'm fine, let me go!"
He had to wonder why he even bothered protesting after a certain point. His head felt lighter and he was getting dizzy, but Comyn did not want to admit that there was any truth to this woman's wisdom. Instead of giving up on his protests, Comyn just switched to more verbal protesting than trying to struggle away. He was carried down a flight of stairs and then down a long hallway, ending in a pure white room with tiled floors and walls. The chairs were all covered in a thin layer of plastic. There was a chemical scent lingering, but Comyn was not sure what kind of chemical it was.
"Remove your shirt."
She yanked his cloak off and then pulled his shirt up. Compared to the power that she had used when fighting him earlier she was being strangely gentle. Comyn didn't know how to protest against her cleaning the wound she herself had inflicted on him. So instead he sat still, so it would be as painless a process as possible.
"How do you know my name?"
"Did you expect for me to not know it? You are the master of the Reid estate, aren't you?"
"I am, but..."
"Then that is why."
That... was honestly not very helpful. Comyn tried not to watch her dress his wound, mostly because he was certain it looked worse than it was. He couldn't risk psyching himself out and beginning to panic or something.
"That doesn't make any sense, you know. It's not like I advertise my property or anything."
"That does not mean that others are not watching. The Reid estate is exceptionally valuable because of the large amount of property attached to it. Even Milady does not have such spectacular grounds when cooped up in this district."
He had never really thought of that before. Though the houses in the upper class district were very elegant and over the top, they faced the same constraint as the middle class district: space. Their property was mostly limited to their large homes and a small portion of the land around it. On the other hand, the Reid estate had a huge house and the property line extended almost right to town.
"Still doesn't explain how you know my name."
"Every weekend, at the weekly tea party, the topic of how to obtain your property comes up at least once. One of our neighbors hired a sketch artist and trailed you for a week last year."
Comyn felt a shiver run down his spine again. He had never known of this. The fact that people were singling him out for his property made Comyn feel very uneasy. And he hated admitting to his uneasiness.
His wound was dressed and he was allowed to put his shirt back on, but he still felt cold.
"Well, what's your name? You know mine, so... so it's only fair."
She stepped back, giving Comyn enough room to stand and adjust his cloak around his shoulders. The blonde haired woman was at least a foot taller than him and he assumed she was close in age to Andrew or Finella. Her hair fell to her shoulders and she had two longer braids looped on either side of her head, tied up with silky ribbons. Judging by her dress, which was elegant enough to cue someone in on her social class but not burdened with jewelery, she must work for the mansion.
"Sebastienne is the name that Milady gave me. I am the head maid."
Sebastienne grabbed the corners of her red dress and curtsied.
"I apologize for the trouble I had caused you, Master Comyn. I mistook you for an assassin. You are still welcome to take what you need."
"Urgh... you don't have to call me that... and stealing stuff loses it's purpose if you want it to happen, so I won't."
"As I figured. Good, then it's settled. You don't need to steal from us."
Her smile had switched from being pleasant to almost a teasing smirk. Comyn realized that he'd been had. Sebastienne had somehow guessed that he was stealing to distress nobles and wouldn't take anything if stealing wouldn't be distressing... that's why she had pretended not to care. So he wouldn't even try.
"F-fine, you know what then? I'm going to take everything!"
"As you wish, Master Comyn."
Starting with a chair, apparently. He tried lifting the chair that he had been sitting on, only to find it was attached to the ground. The legs had been melted right into the white tiled floor. This strange abnormality refocused his attention from the task of stealing out of spite to just how strange the room Sebastienne had brought him to was.
There were numerous electricity-powered lights around the room of varying sizes, with three giant lights hanging over the room's center. What looked like a bed was bolted into the ground, covered in white sheets, and there were cabinets, a shower stall, a bathtub, and a bookcase. All white. It looked like the cross between a bedroom, a bathing room, and a research lab.
"Where is this?"
"The Bridge manor. You came here yourself, Master Comyn."
"No no. I mean this room. It's creepy as hell."
"Oh... is it?"
Sebastienne looked around. She had only turned on some of the smaller lights, which made Comyn uneasy. Now that his eyes were adjusting to all of the white and moonlight, he could see that there were small details he could not 100% identify... small and unnerving details. Something dark at the feet of the shower, stains on the tub, and even unnerving dark circles speckled over the bed's white sheets. When the main lights turned on, though unexpectedly, Comyn realized that there were blood stains everywhere.
"My my. Sebastienne, of all places to take him, why here?"
Sebastienne turned and bowed to the estate's mistress. A small girl, no older than twelve or thirteen, with her wavy chestnut brown hair that was cut at chin's length. Her blue eyes surveyed the room, which was now fully illuminated thanks to the lights she had turned on, and nonchalantly took in the sight of all of the blood stains. Not even Sebastienne seemed to be horribly surprised by the state of this room. As strange as its design was, Comyn had thought the amount of blood would have alarmed them.
"Comyn Ried, correct? Ignoring his abundant wealth and becoming a pitiful thief in his spare time. An alchemist who, until recently, was making nightly trips over the castle wall to obtain various rare gems."
Her voice was soft and childish, but there were traces of a malicious personality seeping through. Comyn felt himself becoming increasingly nervous as the dainty girl took a few more steps into the room, stopping in its center with her back to him.
"Don't worry, your secrets are safe with me. It's my business, after all."
"Business...? How do even know all of that? And what's with this room? Who the hell are you?!"
The small girl giggled softly, a hand held to her mouth as she turned to face Comyn. Nothing about the way she was looking at him was anything less than unnerving. Her expression was far too calm and she did not seem to be worried in the slightest about her position. About how suspicious it was for her to stand in this bloodied room and list off such facts.
"Why don't you join me for a midnight serving of tea?"