Chapter 24: His Superiors
“Hunter…” Kenneth’s voice trailed off in sarcasm, his eyes wandering to the tensed man standing but a foot before us as Tarlac’s and my own glared at Erebus who sat in his throne. “I’m glad you’ve decided to join us.”
Hunter didn’t care to pay attention to Kenneth. Instead, he kept his eyes on Tarlac—we all knew he was the most dangerous of us in the room. He was furious, and while Kenneth and I simply tagged along for the ride, Tarlac had been the one who had decided it was time to have a word with the man he left in charge of this world.
“Erebus,” Tarlac spoke lowly, “shall we speak elsewhere?”
The look on Erebus’ face was surprising, he didn’t seem the least bit concerned. His features remained still and he appeared calm. He never said a word, not to his brother nor to the men who had came here for him. Or, at least, he didn’t until he noticed the greater uneasiness that gathered within the room as those who took residence in his home came to an approach for caution.
“Of course,” Erebus mumbled, raising to his feet.
He cleared his throat and tucking his hands into his pockets. At the first step down the pair of stairs, his eyes gazed away to a brunette woman confidently emerging into the room. The minute our attention had been turned to her, her eyes locked with my own and she ceased her movements and held her breath tightly.
Her lips fell ajar and she furrowed her eyebrows until it our presence dawned on her and her own senses kicked into alert. She had prepared to lunge forward; however, her intentions had been anticipated and for her sake, Hunter moved to her before she could so much as take a step forward.
“Gensee,” Erebus warned.
The power that man had over her appeared to be absolute. So much so that at the mere sound of his voice, she stood down and held herself together before Hunter had to deliver any sort of damage that would have been necessary before either Kenneth or myself had to take her life for threatening her superiors.
It was pitiful.
Not wanting to stir up any more trouble or drawing any more attention to us, Erebus did not waste any more time than necessary and began to guide us to his office.
Our footsteps echoed down the long corridor, passing the multiple pairs of aristocrats standing on the sides with a mixed look of curiosity and intimidation on their faces. Still, none bothered to so much as move: they were smart.
When we reached our destination, Erebus motioned for us to take a seat in the chairs positioned before his desk and his own. He had lowered himself to his chair, holding his composure. The few seconds that were held in silence had been sustained until he parted his lips and Hunter emerged into the room. He waited for no invitation, slamming the set of double doors behind him and moving to stand against the wall with his arms crossed and tucked against his chest.
“So,” Erebus cleared his throat, putting his hands together to rest upon the desk, “what brings you here?”
“We have a problem,” I acknowledged, leaning back on my seat.
“Someone has been calling for attention—attention that we do not want,” Kenneth explained.
“It’s no big deal. I have it under control.”
Erebus’ attempt to call the situation minor was insulting. He, greater than anyone else, knew that attention was lethal. Humans are smart and if our existence were to be exposed to them, it could mean the end of the corruption of this world.
Corruption—we need it to survive. Their blood gives us life.
“Do you?” Tarlac challenged. “If so, why has it been brought to our attention?”
Erebus’ gaze never faltered, but it was obvious in his eyes that he understood where he went wrong. The rest was self-explanatory, nonetheless, Tarlac pressed the issue and Erebus continued to stand with a look of arrogance.
“Your role as the Vampire King is to not only keep order amongst those of your kind, but to report any unnecessary attention others have drawn in attempt to rebel against your kind.”
A sly smirk broke upon Erebus’ lips. He slightly nodded and briefly glanced at Hunter, eyeing his brother’s response before returning to Kenneth who was quick to attempt to break Erebus’ confidence, “If you cannot handle the role of a King, step down.”
Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see Hunter’s uneasiness growing by the second. He, like his brother, pretended to be the big, tough guy in the room, but their efforts were useless and only worked against them.
You do not challenge your superiors.
“I believe you are familiar with the consequences of insubordination,” Tarlac presented. “However, considering the magnitude of your absence of cooperation is minor, we will grant you six months to calm your rebels. If you fail, we will take action and it will result in the loss of your command.”
For a moment, it seemed that Erebus’ mind had been lost in thought. He stared blindly at us until the final works flowed from Tarlac’s mouth and he breathed out, “Excuse me?”
“If you fail to get the witches under control, you will give up the throne,” I repeated.
“And if you decide otherwise, we will take your life,” Kenneth concluded with a hint of humor in his tone.
Now the tough guys break.
“No,” Hunter growled, lowering his arms with balled, tightly clenched fists.
His reaction was exactly what Kenneth hoped for and he had the joy of turning to him and threatening, “If you interfere with this, I will not hesitate to take your life as well.”
“It is not my job to control the witches,” Erebus snarled. “It is yours!”
“Indeed it is,” Tarlac mused. “But if you had done as you were told, the problem wouldn’t have gotten this severe. Therefore, you are now responsible.”
“No need to worry, right?” Kenneth taunted as he lifted from his chair. “It’s no big deal. I’m sure you have it under control.”
“We will show ourselves out,” Tarlac concluded. He too lifted from his chair and began his movements for the door.
I watched him exit, Kenneth following shortly behind him. It was in the moment that I stood up that a familiar scent caught my senses and I was frozen on the spot. My eyes had fallen elsewhere, my eyebrows furrowing. I felt my heart drop to my stomach and my breath hitch in my throat.
A shaky breath passed my lips, my gaze reverting to meet that of Erebus’ angry one. He didn’t say a word but he glared at me hard enough for me to understand just what he had in mind: he wished that he had the power to kill us all or control us the way we had over him.
Nonetheless, my concern was not for him. My concern was on a different thought and a different fact that I could not acknowledge to him for no one outside of the walls of our home knew: my granddaughter, Silver, was missing. She was missing and no one could know because she would make an easy and perfect hostage.
She is the greatest bait for power and control...
“You should’ve done as you were told...” I stated lowly, my voice trailing off as I turned to face the doorway. Hunter stood still, his own glare shifting between myself and his brother: he knew the only one to blame was his brother or himself.
Hesitant steps were all I could give, taking my leave and distance from Erebus’ office. The farther I walked, the stronger the familiar scent grew and I was left to trail it alone until I came across Tarlac and Kenneth who had been standing on the long staircase with curious looks on their faces.
They had waited for me, and when I met with them to continue to the throne room, Kenneth’s voice met my ears from behind me. “Hey… Do you smell that?” he questioned, my steps coming to an immediate halt. “It’s Silver’s scent…”
“I thought that I was the only one,” Tarlac mumbled.
In the middle of the throne room, the scent I missed when we first arrived struck me into a paralytic state.
I couldn’t think or process. My mind was in a million places, trying to pinpoint the exact direction I should follow to trace the scent to the end of this house. However, there was no where to go. The scent ended here, where we stood, and I was left to feel helpless.
“How long ago did Erebus host that ball?” Kenneth questioned, being the first to come to his scenes.
I was grateful. He had drawn me away from an impossible thought and possibility that crossed my mind: Erebus had my little girl.
“About three nights ago,” Tarlac responded, he remembering better than anyone else for his daughter, Celic, had been here for that event.
“She couldn’t…” Kenneth’s voice trailed off, acknowledging what I didn’t want to.
“She was here...” I muttered and again, my lungs constricted.
A sigh passed Tarlac’s lips, his eyes shifting to lock with my own. He stated, “I guess the question now is, where is she?”
I shifted my gaze elsewhere, wanting to give my attention to something else. I did not want to think about the possibility of her being hurt though I knew—I wanted to believe—she was okay. If something had happened to her or someone had hurt her, they’d be calling for a price in return for her.
My grandbaby...wherever you are, please be safe.