Chapter 30 - Treasure
“The supply train took the treasure to Rome. Those who dared to go below ground, and into that tomb, said the walls held a record of unspeakable things. Every man reported feeling a presence inside the tomb that inspired fear,” Marcus translated from the manuscript.
“The Romans sent a return expedition, but the entire group got lost in the desert. War broke out, and during the ensuing turmoil they forgot about the tomb,” Markus finished reading, but Alena took the page from him, flipped it, and found a note on the back.
“According to this note, on the first moonless night of the summer solstice, the treasure disappeared without a trace. Someone got murdered, but they recorded no details of what happened,” Alena informed them with a frown, and they all shifted further away as if to distance themselves from the leering image.
“It could be a coincidence,” Marcus suggested, but Rowan was unconvinced.
“No,” Rowan disagreed as if it the thought offended her. She rolled up the scroll and folded the drawing.
“We don’t have the time to retrace his footsteps,” Marcus responded with finality in his voice.
“We can’t enter the desert,” Alena added and with that knowledge, they packed it all away. Another week passed and with every hour and everything they found, only the road they dared not follow, remained.
“We have to go to the Oracle,” Alena announced one evening and Marcus glanced at her with the oddest expression.
“No,” his voice brooked no argument.
“She’ll know,” Alena challenged him. Their eyes met and held, a battle of wills ensued, and despite his apparent anger as he rose to his feet, and left them to replace the books they used, by sunrise, Marcus caved. He wrote a letter and dispatched it through their hostess, and her human friends.
You didn’t just show up to speak to the Oracle, you had to send a request, and if she wanted your presence, she would send an invitation. Three days by horse, or five on foot, the reply could take up to ten days to reach them if the Oracle even bothered to answer.
The Oracle was one of the few human beings who held the respect of both vampires and humans. She lived in an ancient fortress, and those who met her said she was a witch, not just a seer. If she didn’t want your company, you would dwell the road to her home for weeks, and not find it.
Those who attacked the castle in the past, say it could vanish, but Rowan believed that most of the Crone’s legend came from the feebleminded.
Marcus’s negative reaction when Alena first brought up the suggestion, intrigued her. Did he know the woman? Know of her? Or did he not approve of such people? She had no idea.
Rowan helped Alena replace the books, and close up the library, then she followed her to the kitchen. Marcus arrived after them, where he went after leaving them, neither knew. He was quiet and unapproachable, positively monosyllabic. Alena tried her best to serve him dinner, but it was like pulling teeth.
Finally, Alena glanced up at Rowan, spied the amused pity in her sister’s eyes and something in her demeanor changed. Her chin lifted, her shoulders squared, she took the plate she prepared for Marcus for herself and dumped an empty plate before him. His head came up, his eyes came alive with sparks of anger, but then he noticed the way they were both looking at him.
It took only a moment for him to grasp that he took out his personal grudge with people like the oracle, out on them. They had no idea what happened to him and his family. He never told them about the woman who saw his fate and kept it from him out of spite. It took a moment for Marcus to admit he hurt their feelings. He took his plate and filled it himself.
“I’m sorry. I hate seers. My mother was one, and it led me to believe all of them to be good, honest people. I dated one for a while, until I realized that she used me, and manipulated me. I dumped her, and after that, she glimpsed the future. She foresaw the path I would take to get medicine for my mother would lead to my becoming a vampire, and out of spite, she kept that information from me. Just like she never told me she was pregnant with my child. She approached her aunt, a midwife, and they aborted my baby,” Marcus admitted as he toyed with his food. They stared at him with pity in their eyes, and it was the reason he never spoke of such things.
“Even if she told you, you would have gone, anyway. You loved your mother, and you would have reasoned that armed with the knowledge of what would happen, you could avoid your fate,” Alena said, and Marcus realized it was true even as he heard the words. When did she get such insight into him? He wondered.
“I think he would have believed he stood a chance against a vampire because he did not understand what he would face,” Rowan added her thoughts, and she was also right. His frown deepened, they were getting to know him, did he understand them as well? He wondered, and as he watched them watch him. He supposed he did, at least better than any other person in their lives.
Marcus had allowed them closer to him than anybody in a long time. They were slowly doing the same with him and each other. He had a feeling that even if the Oracle denied them, they would find their way.