I opened my eyes to hear the sound of birds chirping, indicating that morning was upon us. From the way the sky was barely lit, I could determine it was close to five in the morning, and I quickly got out of bed. I made the sheets and went to a small jug to pour cold water into a sink for me to wash my face. With the task completed, I found myself in my clothes for the day, a lavender maid dress with a white apron, the only thing I had known for the past three years. My hair, the only thing I had truly treasured when I had walked through the doors of Berrymore Castle…was cut to my shoulder as punishment for not having the dinner ready at four. My master had seen to it…so I quickly put it into a bun and put on my bonnet of sorts.
I walked down the servants stairs to find Angela putting some scones in the oven. Her greyish hair shimmered in the limited light and she stood up to look at me with a smile on her face. The two of us had never gotten on…not since I found her with the Master in his chambers.
"Master wishes to speak with you," Angela announced as she dusted off her dress.
"Where is he?" I asked as I straightened my apron and viewed her.
She considered herself superior to me, but once a guest arrived….she was sweet as sugar with them. It was only with me that she treated me like an unwanted dog. I sighed as she motioned to the bell now swinging, hurting my sensitive ears. The bell chimed that he wanted me in his office. It was six by the clock over the stove so I wondered why the master was up this early. I hurried out of the servants' room and to his office, the only place he would see me on a single basis. He romanced Angela…I was again, something small and unwanted to him.
I opened the door of his office, seeing animal heads hanging at various angles, trophies in his various hunting games, his and older generations. I stood by the door after I had asked him, "Master?" a word that sickened me, made me feel like the floor he walked on. That reminded me…the steps at the door required a wash.
"Elena, you are to go into town now and look upon the dogs. You will act as the eyes and ears of the Berrymore hound."
"Yes Master," I replied and bowed my head.
"You will leave immediately," and I nodded as I left the room. He hated me, he treated me like dirt and all I wanted was to have a new Master, someone nicer than Berrymore but they were dreams of a fool. I walked back into the servants' room and back to my corner room where the breeze always snuck under…and grabbed my cloak before undoing my apron. I undid the bonnet as well and walked out the back door, as per the normal. I was never allowed to leave the house by the front entrance unless a guest was to arrive. Since Lord Berrymore never wanted me in the house when he had a guest, I could only assume he was waiting on a guest…wanting me out of the way in the process.
I walked quickly, viewing the land on either way of the path as I watched out for the ruts that could catch my foot. Was this really what my life was? A maid to someone who wanted a woman like Angela? My story was bleak and hopeless; my dream was to die soon so I wouldn't have to suffer Lord Berrymore's life anymore. It took me an hour to reach the town, seeing the dog's head pouring water into a small pond, the buildings surrounding the town only starting to wake up.
"Morning," I said softly to one child but they stiffened and ran away.
I walked to each house and saw that everyone had five dogs or less…not significant in the long run but each person I spoke with asked me to pass on their good wishes to Lord Berrymore; that Houndsworth was prospering. I spotted a woman crying and walked towards her, seeing the dead dog wrapped in the blanket of a child. Yes, children disappeared everyday here, you couldn't breathe without noticing. I walked towards one of the last houses and spotted James, a sweet man who took care of his dogs…and was training a new addition.
"Whose this?" I asked as I reached the fence, and James looked up as the dog growled at me.
"I don't have a name for him yet," James answered as he caught the dog, giving him a tap on his nose.
"My Master requested a look at all the dogs today," I whispered and James nodded, not seeing that this sixth dog was a problem. He was too sweet hearted for his own good. A bell chimed announcing the hour and I returned my gaze to James to see the other dogs had started barking. They probably felt their Master was cheating on them…maybe that's how Angela felt with me.
"Sit," James said to the dog and the dog responded, making me smile, "lie down" and the dog responded before James put out his arms and the dog moved for the cuddle, the reward, "whose my good boy, my good boy!" and the dog appeared to hug James…and James found the whole thing amazing.
A single tear escaped my eye at the fact that I would have to tell Lord Berrymore about this, this sixth dog so he could deal with it…it broke my heart a little.
"Oh my!" a woman said and I turned to see a carriage, with four people. There were three men and the woman, two men were blond, their age apparent. The older blond appeared to be…maybe thirty while the younger blond with red clips in his hair seemed to be my age. The woman had reddish plum hair, a pair of oversized glasses hiding her eyes as she put her hands to her cheeks and blushed at James.
"I'd let him pet me, yes I would," the woman said as she smiled at James. I could see the attraction; James was a sweet man who never said a bad word about anyone. He defended me on occasion when my job became known…but now people begged me to pass on good wishes to Master Berrymore.
"He manipulates the dog with rewards and punishments, he commands the mutt's obedience but…the dog isn't blameless either. It fawns on its human and welcomes the chain around its neck. I can't understand it," a man said to a boy in another carriage, ahead of the plum woman's when I considered it. The boy looked around briefly before he spotted me and returned his gaze to the man driving the carriage.
"If you are trying to get to something deeper, just say it," the boy demanded, which seemed odd in itself as the boy appeared as young as the blond with clips in his hair…maybe younger.
"No it is nothing of import my Lord, it's just…I'm not especially fond of dogs," the man announced. I considered the statement and wondered why the man had come to Houndsworth if he didn't like dogs.
"To be completely frank," the man continued, "I hate them."
The fact that the man had come to place where dogs were adored seemed rather odd. If you didn't like dogs, you didn't come to Houndsworth. It was a place where dogs were seen as something loyal and worst still…used to attack the "bad dogs". The poem that Lord Berrymore had drilled into my head sounded, upsetting me so as I had once owned a dog, a lovely black dog who had tried to protect me, but it died due to injuries it had received completing the task.
"Woof!" the boy replied as the carriage pulled further away so I could no longer hear the conversation. The boy was obviously in charge of the driver but the fact that the driver referred to him as 'My Lord' was rather odd. I called Master, Lord Berrymore or Master Berrymore…but my Master was far older than that boy. I looked back at James as he entered his home, and I made my way back to Berrymore Castle…the only place I considered home since the incident.
I arrived back in record time before I snuck into the servants' quarters and re-donned my apron, removing my cloak and preparing for the morning chores. A bell chimed, telling me Master wanted someone in the drawing room, a place Angela normally dealt with. I looked for the woman only to see she wasn't there…she was missing in fact. I ran to the drawing room, brushing down my skirt before I knocked on the door. Master called out, "Enter!" and I stepped into the room and closed the door behind me, spotting Angela on the floor as she got up rather shakily. She was to serve the tea to guests…to whom I recognised from the carriages. The boy was sitting at the table, a small walking stick in front of him, the colours of ebony and gold. His hair, the same as navy from this light, shun softly. His clothes were blue, something only I could dream of. The man, the driver, moved away from Berrymore to stand by the tea cart presently rolled into the room. Angela moved to pour the tea but her hands…they were marked with bruises starting to form and welts from the whip.
"Please miss, allow me," the driver took her place with her nod as Berrymore took his seat opposite the boy. The man poured the tea with steady hands, which led me to re-evaluate what his job was. He was dressed like a butler…which meant he was probably also the boy's driver on occasion.
"Elena," Lord Berrymore said, his voice full of anger at the fact he had to call for me, "your job?"
"Everyone in the village sent their best to you, Master," I replied simply, "but…James, he has one new dog. He was training the dog when I spoke with him and from what I saw, he already had five and this new one…"
"Was against our laws!" Lord Berrymore snapped.
"Yes Master," I replied, feeling like a rat.
I lifted my eyes to see what my master thought, and he was considering what I was saying, the boy was ignoring me but the butler, his eyes were on me, trying to suss me out I believed.
"Hmm," my Master muttered as he picked up papers that the butler put before him with a fresh cup of tea. Angela was still shaking but as the lead maid…she was expected to remain there for the duration of the visit.
"Master?" I whispered, "can I do anything else for you?"
"This toy poodle and his Doberman are staying at the castle, their luggage should be in the entry way, retrieve it and bring it to their rooms. Understood?" Berrymore looked at me, wishing for my old defiance.
"Yes Master Berrymore," I answered as I bowed to him and left the room and as I left, I heard him say… "there's nothing to discuss, under no circumstance will I sell Berrymore Castle to anybody."
"Why is that?" the boy must have said, my hands still closing the door.
"Because of the curse," my master announced.
"Oh? What curse?" the boy asked as I left…taking it as this was our guest.
I walked to the entry way and spotted the two luggage cases, one slightly bigger than the other. I took it slowly as I brought them up the stairs, putting the boy in the room opposite my master's and his butler, I would have to put his luggage in the servants' quarters. Lord Berrymore would be so annoyed if the butler stayed with his master during the night, but as I wasn't sure who owned which bag…I put them both in the room and hoped the butler would know his place. When the meeting was over, I was sure I could direct him to the living quarters for us and from there…I'd probably be sleeping outside with the Berrymore Hound.
I put the bags by the chair, the only chair that was facing a fire. The boy would come up here soon so I quickly retrieved kindling and lit the fire, putting logs on top to keep it burning for a while with no aid as I added a few more logs to the side so the butler could set the fire up if the boy required it. I retrieved hot water and put it by the sink for the boy if he wished to wash his face and left the room after that. I made my way down the stairs and started my chores of cleaning the floor. Once that was done, I wondered if I should start dinner. Well…the starts of it. Did the boy wish to join Lord Berrymore for dinner? Was it against some society rule for him to decline?
I went into the kitchen and spotted Angela, sitting with three other servants, the three from the carriage but where was the fourth? I spotted the greying man in the corner with a cup in his hand, a Japanese symbol embossed onto it and the cup was steaming. The servants turned in my direction as I smiled.
"Hello," the younger blond commented and I again smiled.
"My name is Finny!" and he came over to shake my hand, and I smiled a little wider, "Elena."
"Elena, that's a pretty name!" Finny said with his eyes glowing, "Angela, you said you were the only who worked here…"
"I work with the master directly," she replied as the bell for his bedroom told her it was time for her to go, "I have to go right away, my master is calling."
Angela was running out if the kitchen before I could blink and then I sighed. The bruises were gone but they were probably covered up, Master wanted us as pretty as we could be…if even a blemish marked us, it would tell people we didn't follow the rules all the time. It would look bad on his character…
"Elena?" and I lifted my head to look at the three people, "what are you doing now?"
"Preparing the dinner," I replied as I walked to the stove and started the fire, thinking lamb would be the Master's dinner of choice most evenings. Potatoes and carrots along with lentils wouldn't go amiss as I started peeling vegetables.
"It's only twelve!" the plum woman squeaked.
"Master likes dinner to be finished for four," I replied, "it gives him a chance to look over the village then."
"Our Master has his dinner for six at the manor," Finny said thoughtfully.
"Is your Master allergic to anything?" I requested as I peeled another potato.
"Not that we know of. Sebastian prepares his meals so…we don't know," the older blond answered and I looked over him, "I'm the master's cook, Bardroy but I'm mostly called Bard."
"Elena," I replied as I turned to stoke the fire.
"My name is MeyRin," the plum woman said simply.
"Elena," I repeated as I started to peel another potato.
"Do you want any help?" Bard asked but I shook my head gently.
"It's alright," I replied, "I've prepared this meal before."
"Well, let us know, us servants stick together!" Bard said, receiving a "Right!" from Finny.
They discussed matters important to them, but my curiosity got the better of me, and I stopped cooking to look at them.
"Who is Sebastian?" I asked, not sure who was who other than the people present in the room, "oh, and who is the man with the cup in is hands?"
"The man in the corner is Tanaka, he worked with the young master when he was a kid. Sebastian is the head butler of the Phantomhive estate now. He's…"
"Hello," a male voice spoke softly and I looked to the door.
The man's favourite colours were black and grey. The uniform standard for a butler and I spotted a pin in the lapel of his tailcoat. His hair was black like my own and his eyes appeared to be a pale brown, watered version of my own. His skin looked smooth and I gritted my teeth. I had spent two years of my young life with spots, marking me with scars…and now burn marks from the incident. This man was truly perfection and he was watching me.
"You are?" he asked, even though he must have heard my name in the drawing room.
"Elena. Elena Hamilton," I replied as I returned to peeling another potato, "you?"
"Sebastian Michaelis," he answered as he looked over my work.
I walked over to the counter to put the lamb on a tray and placed it into the fire to cook. The last thing I wanted was for the boy to get sick on this trip, he looked so frail as it was and illness would make his current shape fade. The butler could eat with the rest of us if he wanted. Once the task was done, I raised myself, nearly dropped as I found Sebastian had moved closer and his head had lowered to look into the oven.
I raised my hands to my head and bit back the cry of pain and I looked to see he was rubbing his nose. Blood dripped between his fingers and I quickly got up and brought him to the table, set him down and pulled out a small piece of paper from my pocket and held it to his nose. I was such a klutz at times, it wasn't funny. I could trip over my own feet and did often, that's why I looked out for ruts…the man removed my hand and replaced it with his own.
"I do apologise, Mr Michaelis!" I stammered as I washed my hands of the blood and returned to the dinner.
I needed to stay away from him, his eyes felt like they were burning a hole into my back which I wouldn't blame him for. I mean he had every right to be annoyed; I should have looked where I was going before I stood. But he could be partially to blame as he had lowered himself to look into the oven. I sighed as I finished the potatoes and started shopping carrots quickly before putting them in water to cook. Lentils took the same amount of time before I was finished with dinner. The lamb would take a few hours and would be piping hot by the time it was out of the oven.
I looked around before I spotted a bowl and left the servants of the Phantomhive estate so I could retrieve berries. Summer berries worked wonders in pies and that was my plan, until I heard, "ELENA!"
I turned to see Finny was running to catch up with me, Bard on his heels as was MeyRin. They were smiling at me which seemed odd. I'd probably just given their boss a nosebleed. I sighed heavily as I walked towards a berry bush and started to pick the ripe ones, Finny looked at what I was doing before he started getting berries.
"Why are you collecting berries?" MeyRin asked and I shrugged softly.
"To make a summer fruit pie," I replied.
Night came and with it dinner was served. The boy had eaten with Lord Berrymore which seemed odd considering the boy could pass as my master's son. I brought in the dishes and served them, as was my job. The lamb was sweet as I shared what was left among the servants, not eating myself even though my stomach growled. The servants disappeared to fulfil their jobs before I washed the dishes. The dishes were put away before I heard the scream. I ran out of the house to see a mass mob of local villagers making their way to the house. Angela was already outside, the boy and Sebastian had followed her as I took a place beside her, spotting one of the villagers in particular.
I spotted faint green shimmering paw prints on the ground before the colour was washed away by the light of the torches…and the shouts of the crowds.
"Master! Angela!" Bard, MeyRin and Finny called out, each in their evening wear. It made me feel overdressed in the lavender dress that was my uniform.
"What's going on? What's the fuss about?" Bard asked.
"The demon hound is here," Angela answered.
"Demon hound?" the three servants, oh…Tanaka was there, all four of them seemed to echo.
"It brings great catastrophe to the village, to anyone who defies my master will be punished by the demon hound," Angela answered.
"That's the law here," I stated, "There's no way to stop it."
"Angela! Elena!" one of the villagers brought us back from our explanations.
"Please find Lord Berrymore at once! The demon hound has come again!" a villager stated.
"Who was the punished one?" Angela asked; her voice high with hysterics.
"No," I croaked, as I ran past the crowd, Finny calling out "Elena!" as I ran to the town. I was out of breath as I made it to James' house…only to see his mutilated body. His clothes were torn, his hair unkempt, bite marks rose on the surface of his skin with dried blood and a brand new blue lead and collar wrapped around his throat. It was my fault, I thought, I was the one who acted on behalf of the Berrymore Hound. I had gotten James killed. Torches glowed around me as I became aware that I was no longer alone. The villagers had made it down to me.
"How awful," I turned to see it was Bard who had spoken.
The boy moved closer to me, ignoring me as he picked up James' hand and viewed his injuries. He seemed confused for a moment which made me look at him. His eyes were bright blue, well one of them was while the other was covered by an eye-patch.
"So that's it then," the boy stated which served only to confuse me more.
"Stand back, don't touch!" I heard my master call, "I see it was James then, he was the bad dog."
He was dead because he had six dogs, one more than what was allowed by our laws. I looked around before I spotted the five dogs barking but the sixth…it was gone. Probably seeking to hide from the villagers who only wanted to kill it.
"That's all you can say, really?" Bard asked as I stood and moved to stand closer to my master.
"This village is under my rule and no other, the demon hound protects that rule," Lord Berrymore stated as he looked at the boy, "as the guardian of the Berrymore family, it punishes anyone and everyone who dares to challenge me!"
"The white dog is a good dog, good dog good. The black dog is a bad dog, bad dog bad. He'll eat your flesh down to the bone, down to the bone. He'll gobble you up until you're gone, until you're gone. As the sunsets at the goodnight, the white dog is a good dog, a good dog good…" I heard the villagers chant as they took away James' body.
"I was sure you outsiders were his next prey, you're lucky to have escaped," and Lord Berrymore beckoned for me to follow along with Angela, bringing us with the procession of villagers with James' body….
I was halfway through my chores when I heard Bard say, "This has to be the worst holiday ever." The other two, Finny and MeyRin seemed to agree with him and I sighed before I returned to my berry picking. It was the only thing I really had to do today, Angela was busy attending to the master and after I had run away, to find James…Master had whipped me harshly. Seeing me shaking, Angela had taken over a few of my duties except dinner so with crippled hands, I picked the berries from the bush.
"What's the matter?" I heard Sebastian ask so I turned to see he had bathing suits and a picnic basket in his hands, "you were so excited on the way here."
"Well," Bard announced, "that was before."
"Don't look so gloomy," Sebastian said as he brought their attention to the picnic, "we're on holiday, the time for enjoying and relaxing."
I could hear their inhales as I returned to my task, only noticing then that the basket had enough berries in it for two pies. I lifted the basket and slowly got up; feeling dizzy as I did so and Finny caught me.
"Elena?" he asked but I shook my head gently.
"I had a question for you, Elena," Sebastian asked and I turned my gaze to look at him, "do you know the best way down to the lake?"
"You go to the village square and well…go back a little way you came and continue to a small path that leads to the beach. I'd show you but…I have to prepare dinner."
"I see, I'll ask Angela as she is joining us," and Sebastian handed his little basket to the group and I nodded. A day at the beach didn't sound half bad considering I had only really been in the village on business. It would have been nice to tag along with the group…feel the sun on my skin and close my eyes. I decided moping wasn't the best way to continue today so I sighed and went into the overheated kitchen to cook…
A bell chimed announcing that something wasn't right.
"Lord Berrymore! James' dog has been found!" someone announced.
Master walked to the door to motion for me to follow. Angela wasn't here to follow him which meant…I was the next maid. He brought me to the baiting pit, the one place I hated in the whole of Houndsworth as I hated the dog baiting. The crowd was thick as we arrived and people were shouting. Lord Berrymore moved forward so he was near the four dogs, aiming them towards James' dog.
James' dog growled and I spotted something in his mouth, which seemed odd in my opinion. A villager moved closer with a pole in his hands, trying to appear as a threat to the dog. The four hunting dogs were growling and barking at the sixth dog…the only thing that remained of James' good nature.
"Bad dog! Let go!" the villagers demanded as he grabbed what was hanging in the dog's mouth, "bad dog! Give it to me!" and he hit the dog. As he hit the dog, he demanded, "let go!" with each hit.
"What a bad dog, he deserves punishment," Lord Berrymore announced, "get started!"
I hid my eyes as the hunting dogs were released. I hated seeing any animal harmed and that was why I closed my eyes. I loved dogs, especially my black collie that had saved me…my sweet Julius. He had been a massive dog, the first and only dog I had owned as my parents wanted me to feel safe around the animals. I shook my head as the villagers demanded the hunting dogs to complete the act. It broke my heart every time.
"Just let the poor thing go!" I heard and I opened my eyes to see that the speaker was Finny. So I wasn't alone when I was against the animal cruelty.
Finny rushed forward and pulled a post from the ground, something that had taken four men to plant in the first place and swung it before he went for the hunting dogs.
"Stop this now!" he shouted before he hit the dogs and swung them back the way they had come.
"Ahh!" a woman shouted and I watched as she fainted, three villagers catching her before she dropped to the floor and possible got a concussion.
"Finny!" his group called out as they surrounded him…and I moved to stand closer to them, and further away from Berrymore. I took a spot beside MeyRin as they each turned to face the mob.
"They interfered!" a villager snapped.
"They must be punished!"
Berrymore stepped forward, trying to grab me but I pulled away. I hated the dog baiting, I always had even as a child. I had been worried about my Julius but Mother had assured me, with one dog, the Berrymore hound wouldn't want to hurt us. I took a further step back until I was in front of the boy. I felt oddly protective of the boy as I shook my head.
"Elena!" Berrymore snapped but I continued to shake my head.
"Bad dog!" someone shouted and the lights went out as a person hit me with their stick.
I opened my eyes to find myself tied up with the rest of the servants, Tanaka's legs were dangling. I spotted the boy was tied by chains to his neck, arms and feet…and my head ached. I was gagged as were the others and I spotted James' dog where the hunting dogs had left him, seeing the blood made me feel ill.
"Not so powerful now, are you?" Berrymore asked, "…and Elena, I expected better from you. For siding with them, you will be punished with them!"
"Master! I beg you, show mercy this one time! These people don't deserve the punishment!" Angela begged but her eyes glared at me which told me in her opinion, I deserved every bite mark for being employed. Thanks Angela, I thought bitterly, I like you too.
"You have a point," Lord Berrymore stated, "this Pomeranian is the Queen's guard dog after all. If he can be made to see reason, maybe I'll consider letting them go…"
"Leave this village immediately!" Lord Berrymore stated, "Advise her Majesty to never send her minions near it again!"
"You are so pathetic," the boy stated, "you rely on tricks to retain your meagre power. If there's a stubborn dog here, I'd say I'm looking at him."
"If that's you final choice," Berrymore snapped, making me recoil against the post, "you can learn what happens to a dog that challenges me! Get him!"
I watched as the dogs ran forward, five of them but one…a small brown one moved towards me and caught my leg, making me howl as the bite caused pain to shoot up my leg. I screamed out as I kicked against the dog, barely seeing the figure in black disengage the other four dogs before freeing me from mine. My leg was bleeding from the bite and my body was shivering from the shock…Julius had never bitten me like that.
The dogs fell to their sides as Sebastian straightened, fixing his white gloves as he kept his back to the young boy.
"You cut that close," the boy muttered.
"It won't happen again, trust me," Sebastian stated in an offhand way.
"Huh," the boy breathed and I turned my attention back to Berrymore to see the dogs were lined up again, ready to take another bite.
"You dare to interfere mutt?! What are you mangy mutts waiting for? Kill both of them now!" Berrymore snapped at the growling dogs as I flinched away from them. I wouldn't be able to stay in the same room as a dog again for the rest of my life because of this, no matter if Julius was still alive.
"Shameful," Sebastian said, "what course noisy growls they have…one of the reasons I despise these creatures," and he turned his gaze to glare at them.
He reminded me oddly of Angela at that point as he glared at the animals; it was like she was glaring at me at that moment. The dogs seemed to shudder before they lay on their stomachs and wagged their tails. Sebastian becoming their almighty master as Berrymore and the others starred at the change in behaviour. My leg was still bleeding which made me whimper.
"What the hell?!" Berrymore snapped, "What did you do?!"
"Your pitiful farce ends here, Berrymore!" the boy shouted, catching everyone's attention, "listen, there is no demon hound! It's all a lie! There's just him, an old man obsessed with power! Determined to keep it no matter what!"
"What? What evidence do you have?" Berrymore demanded, which seemed odd that he didn't deny the allegations.
"There's this," Sebastian had moved while my attention had been on Berrymore who appeared shocked.
"We found it in your mansion," Sebastian continued, pulling out a skull from one of the unconscious dogs' mouths. I wondered how something like that could fit in the mouth and considered that the dog was probably in considerable pain, "I took the liberty of confirming the teeth marks on James matched the teeth in this skull."
I ignored the sudden inhale as Sebastian pointed to the sky, a shadow that I had come to know as the demon hound appeared as Sebastian said, "do you see it now? The truth behind the demon hound…" The shape of a dog was illuminated in the sky, shattering the demon hound myth in my head. The crowd parted a little to reveal a projector on the floor…the shape in the sky the same as what Berrymore had put to the moon.
"Its shadow is nothing but a projection," Sebastian continued, "just a transparent trick. The glowing is phosphorescent dust, sprinkled on a normal dog," and Sebastian lifted a vial of the green shimmer to allow it to fall to the floor, the sound reminding me of sand between my fingers.
"The demon hound is merely an illusion, a story made up by an evil man. A man you let rule your village," the boy stated, "this man: Henry Berrymore!"
"No," Berrymore stated, "it's all nonsense! You can't fool them, where's your evidence?"
He needed more evidence? But this…it scrapped his story of the Berrymore Hound and made me out to be a…accomplice in James' murder. The boy smirked and I watched out of the corner of my eye as Sebastian moved towards James' dog, lowering himself so he could reach into the dog's mouth easily.
"You can rest, your duty is done. I'll take it from here," Sebastian spoke to the dog, and if I didn't know better, I would think he had a soft spot for dogs. Sebastian took the thing from the dog's mouth and I watched as the dog closed his eyes and no doubt blew out his last breath. Sebastian rose again, to address the crowd now gathered.
"What fine material, I wonder why the dog was eager to hold onto it until the last moment. Interesting behaviour," Sebastian stated as he turned to face Berrymore, "don't you think?"
The thing in Sebastian's hand appeared to be a piece of plaid…and then I recognised it. Lord Berrymore wore hunting clothes most days and had a pair of trousers he preferred, a pair of dark green/brown plaid trousers. That morning, before the bell had gone and after the servants and the boy left for the beach, Berrymore had gone to the kitchen and handed me the trousers, telling me that a piece had been ripped off as he was hunting deer and could I mend them. If I couldn't, I was to get rid of them. To see that scrap meant Berrymore had killed James.
"What the hell?" Berrymore repeated.
"Yours," Sebastian stated plainly, "a scrap of cloth from your pants. Torn off by James' dog when you attacked his master. You recognise it, yes?"
Berrymore looked annoyed and repulsed by the piece of cloth in Sebastian's unstained white gloved hand. My eyes were blurring a little but I shook my head to keep on this subject. The village had started to mutter about the new evidence and their hatred was now turning towards Lord Berrymore.
"Give up Berrymore!" the boy announced, "it's all over now!"
Berrymore had his pants leg lifted to reveal bite marks, healing bite marks compared to my fresh ones. Upon this evidence, and everything else heard, it was clear that everyone believed Sebastian and the boy. The villagers picked Berrymore up, bringing him away as they chanted, "Punish James' killer!"
Sebastian undid the boy's chains first as Angela undid our rope bindings, using her foot to push against the bite and making me sob. She obviously had wanted me to stand by our master and not defy him publicly. Once free, the boy rubbed his wrists as I staggered, almost like a drunkard.
"My goodness, I'm glad that's over yes I am," MeyRin said as Bard stretched.
Finny turned his gaze to James' dog as I coughed. He dropped to the dog's level to say, "You were one amazing pup. A loyal dog defending his master till the very end…ah?" and I saw the moment when Finny realised that the dog was indeed dead. He reached out and lifted the dog to his chest as he cried and I fell to my knees as exhaustion hit me.
"You were a good boy, such a good boy," Finny whispered.
"There you go," I heard Sebastian say, "yet another reason that I hate dogs"
Rain began to fall on the baiting pit as I raised a hand to rub my eyes, finding that someone was trying to lift me. I looked up to see Bard, his arms finding their way to wrap around me so he could help me up. MeyRin took my other side so I could limp between them as the pain lanced through my system. Sebastian turned at my whimper to see the three of us before he took MeyRin's place to hold me up. With a more even height, they brought me slowly to the castle, avoiding ruts and such as I whimpered. It made me sound like a child but the pain was quite incredible. Before we were halfway to the house…I lost consciousness and heard a soft, "give her to me…"
I opened my eyes to find myself in my room, Angela was at my leg as she quickly wrapped it in clean gauze. She applied a little too much pressure and I moaned and she looked up at me.
"You're awake," she pointed out, "Lord Berrymore would be greatly ashamed of you."
"What happened to him?" I croaked.
"The villagers placed him the cells below the manor for someone to judge on. The rain hasn't let up yet and so Lord Phantomhive and his servants are staying until it stops. I've finished here and with Berrymore's blessing, I have been given the order to inform you, you are relieved of any more duties to this estate."
Angela stood and left me, leaving my door open a little so I could see her as she stopped in front of the window, looking at nothing from my bed. I quickly got up, noticing I was in my maid's outfit as I shuffled out into the hall, away from the bed I had been put in. I spotted Finny, his eyes on Angela as she continued to look outside and ignore me.
"What's wrong with Angela?" Finny asked as I got to him, gasping for air.
"Elena!" he caught my arm, "you shouldn't be out of bed!"
Thunder and lightning rumbled in the sky as Finny tried to bring me back to my bed but I refused.
"I need to speak with Lord Berrymore," I croaked softly and seeing as I was not likely to go to bed peacefully…he brought me down to the basement. I heard a scream and that made him move faster as we got there at the same time as Bard, who was slowly followed by Sebastian and Lord Phantomhive. I stared in open disbelief at the massive hole in the wall, the size of three people with their arms holding onto each other. Blood lay splattered on the floors and there wasn't a single doubt in my mind that Lord Berrymore had been taken…but by what, I wasn't sure…all I knew was; I was too young for this crap…and now I was a masterless maid; my mother would be so disappointed in me…