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Before the Fall


A storm had taken possession of the city and its surroundings. The rain stormed outside, aggressively pounding against the floor-length windows of the Mansion of Saints. Yet, its screams were drowned with soft jazz music, laughter and the warmth of a fireplace. The living room of the mansion burst with glee, shielding from the night's dread twenty people.

Between the chatter and the giggles, a question silenced the gossip and soured the mood, "When are Julian and Scarlett arriving?", Leopoldo asked innocently still munching on the platter of cold meats at the centre of the coffee table. The small crowd looked amongst themselves waiting for someone to appease their curiosity. Silence. "They should be arriving soon", a voice emerged between the quiet. "Are you sure Grandfather? It's already very late, shouldn't we start?", Aaron suggested from the chaise longue. The elder, alienated from the rest of the guest, stood in front of the windows watching the rain roar outside the glass barriers with his half-empty whisky glass, turned to look at his family and friends. He didn't respond and simply finished his drink from one swing. "Yes, Valento, I don't think they are going to join us at this point", Eros chimed in. Instead of responding the elder made his way towards the bar and only when he had poured and drank another glass of scotch did, he finally stated with a stern and low voice, "I said, they will be here soon". This time no one questioned him.

He was, of course, right, not fifteen minutes later the sealed double doors of the living room broke open aggressively. Pale-faced and soaked to the bone, Julian, walked into the room leaving a wet muddy trail behind him; the chilling wind of the outside followed him inside killing whatever warmth the fireplace had provided. Valento stared at him from his armed chair with another scotch glass in his hand. "Julian...?" Angelica asked softly from the ottoman her eyebrows scrunched up with concern. The numbed man clenched his hands into fists desperately trying to find the courage to lift his gaze from the floor and speak. "Julian?" This time it was Eros who stood up from the couch. An airtight knot formed in Julian's throat barely allowing him to breathe, slowly he looked in Eros' direction revealing red like wine eyes. Julian's dead eyes stopped Eros' heart. "Scarlett…" Julian started, his nails digging into his palm as his voice found a way through. "Where is she?" Eros' firm voice interrogated taking a few steps towards him.

Silence reigned supreme. The music was no longer playing and what was left of the previously pleasant atmosphere darkened into a dire brisk aura. Everyone was staring intensely at the shadow of a man standing still drenched in the middle of the room. "Julian" Valento's deep gruff voice cut through the thick silence. He wasn't asking, he demanded Julian to speak. Julian immediately looked up to his grandfather, when their eyes met Valento's pupils widened.

"She's dead"