Chapter 111 - Scheme
Having had his fill of degrading and intimidating the sisters, Belvare ignored them over the next week or so, which allowed them time to think, hate, plot, and scheme.
When he deigned to summon them, he once again acted the part of the gentleman as if nothing happened, but the evil in him had escaped through the cracks, and they could never again see him in any other way.
Belvare preyed on their little insecurities, finding them like a ferret, and leaving the sisters no leeway, and no escape, but instead of turning them against each other as he intended, he fuelled their hatred of him.
The dank confines of the caves became a prison from which the only escape became his death. Belvare’s existence inexorably trapped them in this lavishly furnished tomb.
They left his presence as soon as he would allow, only to find the door to their room ajar, and even as they ran to uncover the secret hollow they dug into the hard stone beneath the rug, they knew it would be empty.
Someone removed the poison they had smuggled in with them by painfully concealing the tiny vials beneath their flesh and with it, destroyed their last hope.
Rowan lashed out, hitting the bare rock with so much force that she split the skin of her knuckles, she stared at the blood on her hands with blind hatred.
“There is no way out of here!” Her voice had no intonation, but she shook inside with reaction and despair. It was as if they realized all along that there was no escape.
Alena knew better than to touch Rowan in this moment that broke both their spirits. Rowan’s pride kept her aloof from Marcus and Alena in the beginning. Her pride had kept her in a cocoon, safe from the world during all of her harsh life. Belvare left nothing of that pride in his wake, and Rowan’s child would never have any, Belvare would make certain of that.
As if Rowan sensed Alena’s thoughts, she touched her stomach with the utmost gentleness. She should never have been one of us, Alena thought in that instant. She should have been born to a human father to have a nice human life, parents who loved her, a village where everyone knew her name so she could fall in love with a nice boy, marry, have children and grow old with a heart filled with love.
“Then you would be alone,” Rowan answered her thought, and Alena grew still.
Sometimes this closeness still scared Alena. She’d been alone most of her life, despite having a family. Rowan, who had been more alone than she could ever have imagined, took to this bond with a natural ease that she envied. Still, Rowan clung to some piece of herself that she kept in reserve. Victor was fond of saying that a dog, once beaten, remembered the pain. Alena shook her head as if with some inner denial.
“What?” Rowan asked when Alena shielded her thoughts, but Alena noticed that Rowan’s eyes had lost their manic edge of despair.
“What would father think of all this, of us, now?” Alena asked quietly. The set of her mouth betrayed just the faintest hint of vulnerability.
“Victor would have gotten you out of here, but he would’ve expected us to kill this sick bastard,” Rowan said with the utmost certainty, and Alena glanced oddly at Rowan as her sister said these words.
“You were this angry the first time we met, although you tried to hide it,” Alena acknowledged wryly.
“No, I’ve never been this angry, not even at Victor or Martin,” Rowan corrected, but she wasn’t just angry, she hated Belvare with every fiber of her being.
Alena startled as the door swung open and she grew still when she recognized the intruder. Robert stood in the doorway with an expression that betrayed nothing, and they couldn’t guess how much of their conversation he heard.
He pointedly closed the door behind him when he entered, and both of them felt a rush of fear. If this conversation reached Belvare, it would seal their fate. Then again, he already had the poison, and he must have known they were plotting something to send Robert to search their room. Judging from the slight disarray, Robert had been thorough.
They both tried desperately to keep their inner thoughts from Belvare these past days, but he scaled the walls and breached their defenses.
“Arrogance,” Rowan admitted almost to herself and Alena frowned, but her mind caught on instantly. She nodded with the same set expression that carried her through her father’s campaigns and the torture of those who angered him.
Belvare’s supreme arrogance was the only dent in his perfect armor, and the only weapon they could use. Robert frowned at the cryptic word, but when they said no more, he didn’t ask. In fact, Robert didn’t say a single word as he turned on his heel before he exited the room again and locked the door behind him. He just wanted them to know he heard their conversation, and that it was he that found their hiding place.
It scared them that he said nothing, that he didn’t harm or threaten them, and that there was no dire message from Belvare. It terrified them even more that Belvare didn’t come to settle this score personally. It meant that he had a plan to deal with them and whatever it was, would destroy them.
“We’re dead,” Rowan said with utter conviction, and Alena didn’t contradict her. There was a limit to what Belvare would take, and if he didn’t kill them, they would wish he had.