Chapter 3: Heart of Ice Meeting You
I remembered…what humans meant to the world. What it means to be born? The first cry of an innocent infant, the joy of those around it, and the world in every newfound senses when that child opened its eyes – touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell…The capabilities of every living beings. Ah, how pure and wonderful that sounded…the good things in life, the perfect disguise for everything to come before the final destination – death. A wake up call for all human beings or an ending to their relentless journey called life?
I seriously don't know…or rather not knowing it. There was only one truth I held onto during my mortal lifetime, and that was…
The present day,
"What will I get in payment for fulfilling your wish?" the Devil dressed in white enquired as his patron took a sip of exquisite White Darjeeling which she ordered previously.
"My immortality," the mysterious beauty's answer was direct and untouched. Her steady gaze of light blue eyes scanned the gentleman that sat opposite her, noticed the disinterest look that played across his handsome face as he debated in his mind the worthiness of such a fee.
"It may not be any concern of mine but, Miss Winslet doesn't the thought of terminating your life frightened you even just a little? Or on the other hand, there may be a chance for you to meet up with him again if you continue living."
She shook her head along with crown of silky straight raven locks following the action. "I have lived far too long…going through the days, the years, the centuries thinking of him, missing him, wanting to see him so badly that it drove me to the brink of insanity. Perhaps I already am…"
He remained silent, expecting her to continue on.
"No, it scared me even more to learn of a world where he no longer exists in it. I have lost all hope in ever seeing him again. The empty promises and the fairy-tale like thinking are nothing more than mere illusions. I've had enough of them, I am too tired to go on any longer." Her reflective glass like eyes looked up as empty dead gazes greeted the Devil's own golden pair. "Please, let me see him one last time by relieving the memories of our past." her soft gentle voice seemed to echo throughout the rather vacant café during that late evening.
"Very well, I shall grant your wish. Make sure to return the favor with your stated price."
With a snap of fingers, she fell into a deep slumber. A dark abyss where she would reawake in a dream she longed to see, to watch the memories of long ago where she once found the twin blade of happiness and despair in her momentary entire lifetime.
For the past few days it kept on raining. The clouds were as gloomy as ever and the air cold as ice. The thunder and lightning clashed, engaging in an endless battle; there was no clear winner to begin with. And as usual I sat in that very same corner of a dark street, gazing emptily at the stoned ground beneath me; hearing the pitter-pattering sound of raindrops falling.
Drenched and wet, my long raven locks plastered onto my slick body as do the clothes I wore. A few strands of hair covered my face, shielding it from the world around me. Yes, the living things that surrounded me were all dead; non-existent within my realm, just as I was to them an insignificant person...
Living in that filthy and rather dull environment, I've always played a game to amuse myself. It was at times like these that I would throw myself out on the street and just sat quietly without a motion. Pretending to be dead, which in my opinion I was since that very day. Waiting endlessly to see if someone would dare approach me – a dirty homeless girl.
There were all sorts of reaction received, but the most common was ignorant. Many would choose just to bypass me like I'm not even there. I'm used to it really, this sort of abandoned feeling. Loneliness might as well be my best mate and worst enemy at the same time. Having satisfied my crave for the rain and grew tiresome of my waiting game, I would pick myself up and head back towards the one place where I'm neither welcomed nor shunned from, it was the neighborhood church. It has been 3 days since I stayed there after the tragic incident that befell my family. You see, they were all killed in a dreadful fire – both my parents and my beloved little sister Marianne.
How was I the only survivor left? It was a miracle some said or just my luck for being somewhere else when the fire spread throughout the mansion. No one really knew what has caused it. That night the wild raging flames engulfed the whole manor along with its residents and those who worked there – nothing but ashes were left as remains to prove the once existence of the living inhabitants and the structure.
In that one single night, the whole Winslet family was killed. They burned along with their mansion in a mysterious fire. Many had believed that there were no survivors left, but I myself knew better. I was there, out in the garden watching helplessly when my home was covered in flames and smoke. Tears sprang from my eyes uncontrollably as I shouted for my parents and sister… there was nothing I could do to stop it. Suddenly as I was wailing to myself, something or rather someone hit me with a hard blow and knocked me unconscious. The next thing I found out when I opened those light blue eyes of mine again was…the sight of a somewhat exclusive brothel!
Someone had apparently sold me off as a prostitute to that place – which I eventually found out who it was, my traitorous Uncle Sergey, the unforgivable bastard who had murdered my family in order to obtain my father's company and estates.
As if by a turn of fate, on the exact same day I was brought into the brothel someone has requested to buy me for a very high price. Shoved roughly into a carriage to be sent off to my newly acquired buyer, I was scared and intimidated, but more than that I was struggling to free myself – even at the cost of my life. Threatening the two strangers who were supposed to escort me with my hidden dagger, I instinctively opened the door and jumped out from the moving carriage. Lucky for me the horses weren't galloping that fast then. Or else, I would've suffered a more critical injury than mere minor scratches. Running for my life as far as my weakened legs were willing to support me, I finally gave in to my tiredness and collapsed right in front of a church. And it was in that certain place where I was being taken care of by a priest during my unconsciousness.
The priest – Father Rowland was what everyone called him. He was a very respectable and kind generous old man. He has never force me once to tell of my identity throughout my stay there. He simply just accepted me for who I am without further questions seeing that I kept silent most of the time and felt reluctant to speak of my family tragedy.
I've been in and out since then, battling with my inner demons trying to retain my very sanity. I could've gone insane and lost myself in a realm of fantasy, or ended my life to journey on to where my parents and Marianne were. Such a thing as life was no longer meaningful to me. It held no value or attachments in the real world. It was the end for me, until…
"Would you like to come live with me?"
A hand, accompanied by a velvety deep voice awakened me from my usual trance of staring into the rain. Looking up from the stranger's hand extended to me, I raised my gaze till it met a pair of crystallized green eyes. They were so clear and unclouded, yet deep and intriguing the same. The face a handsome one, he resembled those of the noblemen then.
Short warm blonde hair that framed his well structured jaw and high cheekbones with a body well built for a man his age, from what I could make of he seemed to be in his mid-twenties. Aside from his heavenly appearance, I was caught in his mysterious aura which hypnotized me into accepting his offer instantly.
I had no idea then why I reached out for his hand…at that time in the rain he seemed like a savior, an angel of death there to greet me and salvage me from my tainted hopeless world. I was right on the part of him having a dark air surrounding his very presence. He may not be related to death but he was no angel, in fact he could be a descendent of Lucifer himself. I have accepted a devil's deal without realizing it, one that granted me not death – but a gift of eternal damnation and suffering.
"Are you taking me to heaven or hell my angel of death?" I asked innocently eyeing him as he sat across from me in his luxurious carriage.
"You are quite amusing dear. Why ask such a question indeed? I am merely offering you a place to stay. But if you shall insist, it will be neither of those two places. In fact, it is a realm where you will never dream of going, it's where miracles happen and the impossible becomes possible."
I looked at him puzzled, but he only laughed it off and commented me to be somewhat adorable. His face with expression shown reminded me of an animated puppet – not to be meant that he looked weird but somehow he seemed the type to be all stoic and cold. And given the opportunity to see him smile was very rare indeed.
"May I have the privilege to be graced by your name, milady?" he asked with a tip of his top hat, a skull engraved cane he held in his hand.
"Scarlet…I am Scarlet Alexandria Winslet."
"Well Miss Winslet, should I be permitted to call you Scarlet?" I nodded my head to his request. With a smile yet again he continued on, "Scarlet, may I introduce myself. Count Wiegand is who I'm known as, but close acquaintances called me Konstantin."
Nodding again I looked out the carriage's window for a moment trying to figure out our destination. "…Um…Count Wiegand, where are we going?" Seeing only trees and mountains as the carriage passed by, it was obvious that we were heading deep into a forest. And somehow my instinct told me something was terribly wrong then. I despised dark secluded areas like these, especially one within nature.
"Oh, I am terribly sorry for not informing of our destination. We are heading towards a humble countryside mansion of mine. The location might be a bit secluded, but it's a safe place during the day I assure you."
Before realizing, the carriage has halted. "Finally we've arrived!" He got down from the carriage first before helping me out. Once outside my eyes were immediately glued to the enormous building structure before us. It was a splendid mansion not like anything I've seen before. Instead of mansion it might as well qualified to be called a castle.
The beautifully crafted workmanships were shown clearly on the pillars and walls surrounding the mansion itself. Black stones were the only main ingredients used to build it, accompanied with colored glass for the windows and a lovely fountain situated at the front with hundreds of acres of garden surrounding it. The whole sanctuary itself was a hidden masterpiece or jewel within the forest.
"Come along now." Following behind him as he unlocked the door with a gold key, I took a few peeks inside before stepping into the mansion.
"Welcome back, Master Wiegand." A middle-aged butler greeted us after a few steps from the doorway. He was a tall man with neat short raven hair and stunning amber eyes who looked just as charming as his master.
"Thank you, Ivan." Taking the hat and the cane from his master, the obedient valet stood silently to await his next order. "This is Miss Winslet, and she'll be staying with us from now on. Please prepare a suitable room for her and garments which are up to her taste. We'll be waiting in the study room." With a brief nod, the butler was off to his duties.
Cold hard marble floor greeted my feet as I trailed along behind the Count, looking each and every way as we passed a corridor lined with valuable tapestries and metal suit armor of a knight on every corner we turned into. Finally arriving at a door with a crescent symbol engraved on it, we stopped. Count Wiegand took out the exact same key he used for the entrance door to open it. I had an idea that all rooms within the mansion are locked for a reason, and the master key seemed to be the only item that granted universal access.
"After you Scarlet," Stepping into the room my eyes transfixed themselves to a spiraling stairway attached to the wall lined with countless bookshelves fully furnished with volumes of collections in each of them. For an instant the feeling of being in a tower filled with books that could probably cover volumes belonging to a hundred national libraries enveloped me. It was unbelievable. It was like a hall of infinite knowledge in there. Clearing his throat the Count motioned for me to join him at the couch seating located in the middle of the towering room. Keeping my face straight I walked over and took a seat opposite him.
"Would you like some tea?" he offered holding up a teapot.
Filling my teacup first before attending to his, he set the teapot down gently and pushed a tray containing a jug of milk and a container of sugar towards me. Putting in a teaspoon of sugar into my cup, I stirred a little before taking a sip from it. The scent and taste of Darjeeling reminded me of my mother a lot. Absentmindedly I admired the clear brownish tea swirling in my cup.
"You've been thinking a lot lately haven't you?" His voice awakened me from my momentary trance as I looked up to face him. Strangely my mind felt heavy and I was a little light-headed.
"Yes, a lot has happened recently…My family…all…died…in…fire…" Those were the last words I murmured before collapsing unconscious on the sofa. I had no clue what followed after.
I awoke to find myself on a huge comfy bed confined in a very lavishly furnished room. The chamber was heavily filled with a kind of floral scent – rose it would seem. Examining the surrounding, I was speechless when I spotted white roses covering every single space in that room. They were kept in lovely glass vases on tables and the floor. Snow white petals were found scattered everywhere, including the bed which I occupied.
Picking up a single white petal from the scarlet mattress I laid on, I felt its smooth soft texture against my fingers. The color on it was white as snow, a pure untainted symbolism. A sudden sound of footstep alerted me to look away from my amusement, and there he stood right at the end of the bed.
"Do you like the roses?" Bending down he picked up a stalk of rose that seemed to appear magically out of nowhere. Smelling the white flower he continued his gaze at me, waiting for an answer.
"I have nothing against it since I enjoy tending to flowers in my garden. And, white happens to be my favorite color." I smiled to him in reply.
"And that color certainly does suit you, Scarlet." Following his line of sight which landed directly onto my newly changed attire which I was not aware of previously, I felt flustered at the thought of having my clothes changed without my knowledge.
"Don't have to be shy dear, come let's get you to supper shall we? I'm sure you are quite famished after the long carriage ride." Extending his hand to me once again just like how he used to when we first met on the street, I couldn't help but be charmed yet again by his alluring green eyes and suave voice. But more than that, he was the first person who held out to me back then. In that pretentious game of mine, where everyone had chosen to abandon me, he invited me. It may be true that he has hidden intentions behind his act of kindness just like others, but somehow I felt that I could trust him in a way…For a person as lost as me to be wondering aimlessly in a world where nothing exists for me, he seemed to be the only reason that I saw hope in.
Taking his hand, I decided I've had enough. Before the tragic cycle replayed itself again, before I have the chance of seeing the painful scene, before I was granted the dark gift and fell into a deep bond with him, I have to end it once and for all. In this dream, I materialized a sword and stabbed it through your chest and into your heart.
"Why do you still greet me with a smile despite what I have just done to you?"
"It is my retribution Scarlet, for causing you eternal grief…"
"Why did you leave me back then? Constance, you know how I felt about you. Why turned me and chose your own death?! If you had planned to abandon me in the end, then you shouldn't have invited me to come with you…"
"You still remember my real name…even my sire may have long forgotten it. I am sorry Scarlet, due to my own selfishness and twisted desire I've used you."
"A longing to know if a vampire's solitude may be fulfilled with the continuity of keeping one's presence in the memory of the one chosen to live on. Our kind are cursed to exist alone and to perish alone the same. From the very first to the last, none could escape such a fate. Knowing that in some way I could at least be in peace with my inner conscience and to finally achieve a closure to the cursed immortality bestowed upon me, I decided to be heartless."
"Then all those tears that were shed for you…that moment when you perished…"
"Were all for naught."
"H-How can you be so cruel? And yet I believed you all those times, I was only playing along with your game. To you I am nothing but a mere test subject?"
"I am such a fool…I should've trusted my instinct and rejected you!"
"You could've if your will was strong. However, you have given up on life and that was why I could have you under my spell within a second. Vampires can easily use their charm on any unguarded mortals."
"I thought that I could no longer hate you more than the hurt you've caused me in my immortal time, but I was wrong. Your betrayal has to be the weapon to my demise. Constance, you are far worse than the murderers of my family. I hate myself even more for loving a monster like you! Nevertheless I'm glad to learn of the truth by seeing you one last time. Finally I can have the closure to my own chapter."
In an instant the sword was swiftly pulled from his chest, blood splattered from the wound as it poured like crimson rain. The red tainted the white of roses coloring the room with life stream. Slowly he felt his body hardened like granite and eventually cracked before it broke into pieces and dissolved into dust particles in thin air. Before the last teardrop escaped her, a whisper came through "Thank you for breaking the chain that binds us…now you can finally smile again…"
Light blue eyes opened once again to the familiar sight of a café. "Why am I still alive?" staring down her hands, she was taken over by surprise and disappointment.
"Congratulations Miss Winslet! You are no longer an immortal but a mortal that you once were. Aren't you glad?" the Devil smiled with mock delight.
"How come...But I'm supposed to age with the passing of time and die. There's no possibility that I can continue living…"
"True, yet you are sitting here having civilized tea with me at this very moment. How is that not possible?" the Devil looked up to her, golden slit irises pondering. "By the way, your payment is settled. You owned me nothing in return and your contract is fulfilled. Go and enjoy your life to the fullest, it's not everyday that you get a second chance like this."
She seemed surprised at first, but the reality finally sunk in. "Yes I guess I will," a carefree smile graced her lips after years of confinement. "It's been awhile since I've been waiting to start anew. This might be a good chance after all. Thank you, Lucifer." With that parting word she left the building and never turned back again.
Like a hunter losing its prey, the Devil sighed. "That will be your only chance Miss Winslet. Unfortunate indeed that I don't get to keep your soul, you better be grateful for your sire's sacrifice. If it were not for him, you won't be walking out from here alive."
"If you dare harm her, I would not hesitate to stop you with everything I've got Lucifer. Even if it means going against the master I am bound to serve for all eternity." Despite not making an appearance, the demon lord made his voice and intention clear to the Devil.
"Calm down Constance, that girl is of no interest to me. Rather it's an honor to have Astaroth's descendant under my con-…management. I know what you are capable of and you have my recognition for your position in Hell. Let's try to work out our cooperation from now on."
Heart of Ice – Meeting You / END