Chapter 25: The Key

  The full moon was shining pale high above the clear night sky, like a gigantic eye silently looking down on the world, ominous and cold. It’s soft light illuminates the darkness below, casting an eerie glow on Fineline Mansion, giving the old manor a ghostly visage.

  Claire was walking along the dark corridors heading towards his father’s study. The dark hallway was gently illuminated by candles lined along the wall, flickering with a soft and almost pale erie light, making her shadow dance behind her like it has its own mind. 

 Claire’s mind filled with dread as she has never been to this part of their enormous mansion before. Her father and mother have strictly forbidden everyone, including her, from setting foot in this place as the door towards the study is often locked behind the enormous double door made from ironwood.

 Regardless, this time, it seemed that Claire’s father, in his haste had forgotten to lock up, and now her curiosity has won against her better judgement, coupled with the fact that she is utterly depressed and angry at her friend’s betrayal.

  She silently followed her father, wondering what made him so anxious all of a sudden. The air in the hallway was stifling. The musty air was mixed with the strong smell of incense and rot. Claire suppressed a gag, it feels like she has been transported to another world.

 “I can’t believe that I am still inside my own home… this place feels like a tomb… How can dad even work here..” she thought as she silently and slowly walked towards the study room at the end of the hallway. 

  Faint voices caught her ear as she drew nearer and nearer to the room. It sounded like her father was talking to someone, but somehow the other voice seemed ethereal, like ghostly even. Her heart now pounding strongly, beating inside her chest with the intensity of a hammer striking the ground.

  She inched nearer and nearer to the door, taking great care to move as silently as possible, like a shadow. Holding her breath, she dared to take a peek beyond the small crack of the unclosed door. It was gloomy, only faint lighting from a couple of candles kept the darkness at bay. Her eyes adjusted, taking in what little light it can in order to see what’s happening inside the room.

  She can faintly see two forms inside, one is her very own father wearing a black cloak facing what looks like an altar with a single candle and an oval mirror adorned with carvings of two snakes eating each other’s tails in a loop that would seem unending. On the floor was another form, too dark to see, but she can assume that it’s unconscious and bounded on both hands and feet.

  “What on earth are you doing dad?” Screamed Claire’s mind in silence. She squinted her eyes to better focus on the bounded figure on the floor, but the light of the room wasn’t enough for her to clearly see who it was. 

  “That’s nonsense!” Snapped her father angrily at the mirror, startling Claire from her observation of the bounded form. Her attention was once again focused on her father.

  “Who are you talking to, dad?” She silently muttered.

                  …………….

 

 Tobias Fineline is a noble, his lineage dates back five generations. His family founded Triplance, a small village back then, but made it a sprawling province of trade and commerce. Even though he himself is a very powerful and influential noble, he rarely goes around town galavanting and mostly keeps to himself and studies his absurd amount of ancient books.

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  “I know how to handle it… every spell, incantations and gestures, I have memorized it by heart and can cast it with utter perfection.” Tobias hissed to the person he was talking in the mirror. 

 “I am stronger than what you credit me for my dear cousin!” He shouted angrily as he took off his Snake mask, clenching his jaw and furrowing his brow at the figure in the mirror.

 “I don’t doubt your strength, cousin, after all, the same blood flows from both our veins.” Replied a voice as deep and powerful coming from the mirror. “But take heed my beloved cousin, five of our most powerful colleagues died from just summoning one primordial, and here you are attempting to open a gate that will summon a Primeval God?! It would bring utter pain to me if something happens to you and your family, especially to my beloved niece! That’s why I advise you to heed my words!” The baritone voice continued, his words sincere and troubled.

  “You worry too much cousin, you trust me don’t you?” Tobias said

  “More than anyone in this world.” The voice replied, pausing for a few seconds then continued. “But this is far beyond your ken… Very well, if you won’t heed the words of your cousin, then perhaps you would heed the command of your Lord… and I command you to stop this nonsense at once or suffer excommunication from the family!”

  Those words had taken Tobias aback, he never expected his cousin to pull rank just to stop him from proceeding with his ritual.

  Angry and frustrated, Lord Tobias Fineline had no choice but to submit to the command. Bowing low, he acknowledged the command from his cousin. 

  “As you wish… Lord Randal…” Tobias hissed through his teeth, as the form of Mar Randal slowly fades from the mirror, effectively ending their conversation.

  “Randal you fool, you really think I don’t know that you just want this power for yourself?!” Tobias muttered after he was certain that Lord Randal could no longer hear or see him from the mirror. He then casually held up a small cylindrical object filled with runes that were glowing faintly, smiling with satisfaction, he then turned his eyes to the slumped form on the floor.

  “So your father had this with him all this time… what an irony that it would be used to end your life, young Tusk Regnum…” Tobias said with a voice colder than ice as he kicked the head of the still unconscious Tusk.

  Claire heard everything, and a terrible dread washed over her head as she finally saw her father’s true nature, and what he intended to do with her friend and classmate Tusk.

  “Don’t do it dad…” her mind was screaming, her hands tightly gripping the edge of the door, as tears started to flow from her eyes without her even knowing.

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