Chapter 64 - Arthur
When they reached their destination, Byron figured out the distance they must have traveled in his head, and his disapproving glance was no mystery to Marcus, who chuckled to himself. At least if something happened to him, the women would have one champion on their side.
Marcus’ mind returned to earlier in the evening. He had to chip away the glass to reveal a miniature square made from metal. When he held it up to the light, he discovered letters engraved into the surface and filled with gold. He couldn’t imagine the painstaking work that went into this tiny treasure. He could barely believe it was possible, and yet he held it in his hand. Something in the style of the words seemed familiar to him, but it wasn’t in any language he encountered before.
“I know this,” Alena marveled, and Marcus handed it to her.
“It’s a pendant, and this one belonged to the house of Vivier’s des Lux. My dad had a thing about heraldic signs, and this one was their family weapon and motto. This metal came from a piece of a star that fell from the sky. Pity we don’t have access to our library,” Alena sighed as she sat back.
“I have a friend, near here, that might just be able to help,” Marcus said without explanation as he plotted a change in their course.
They were about to go ashore, and he instructed Byron to fetch them in the hour before dawn, in two nights. They landed on the beach and made their way to a small coastal town, where they hired horses from a stable. The horses were nervous, but Rowan calmed them with ease. They rode hard and reached their destination before midnight. Marcus stopped outside of town, near a stream. He took a bulky package down from his horse and revealed two dresses, along with some female necessities.
“Are we to impress someone?” Alena asked with amused tartness, and Marcus grinned as he revealed a formal outfit of his own.
“Arthur is a gentleman who likes the formalities of life,” Marcus revealed as he gave them some privacy to freshen up. Rowan stared at the dress he picked for her.
“Do you need some help?” Alena asked when Rowan didn’t move.
“The last time I wore a dress like this, Marius impaled me with my sword,” Rowan revealed before she shrugged off the memory and disrobed. Alena grew still as her mind took in what Rowan just said, but she didn’t have time to linger. They helped each other dress, and Marcus soon returned, looking dashing and debonair. Rowan had never seen him dressed up as lord of the manor, and it made her knees weak.
Marcus could barely tear his eyes from the picture she made in that light blue dress. Alena helped Rowan fashion a simple, but elegant hairstyle, and with the formal dresses, their hair swept away from their faces, the resemblance between them became more evident.
He helped them get back on their mares, a difficult thing without sidesaddles, but their journey was short. They arrived in a large and thriving town, where they knocked on the door of an imposing mansion.
The door opened to expose the most ancient man that any of them had ever seen. He peered at them with rheumy eyes, but recognition dawned when he noticed Marcus.
“Hello, Bolter,” Marcus greeted, and the old man’s face lightened in a smile.
“Mahster will be sooo glad to see thee,” he enthused with a proper British accent.
They expected the master to be even more ancient, and instead, he turned out to be an attractive-looking vampire. He seemed distinguished like a scholar but with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Marcus?!” He greeted them with a warm tone of welcome.
“Arthur,” Marcus greeted back with equal warmth, and Arthur rose to his feet with the ease of a leopard.
“What are you two beautiful ladies doing with this scoundrel?” Arthur asked with charming amusement, before offering them an elegant bow.
Alena curtsied, Rowan didn’t, and when she looked into his grey eyes, Rowan deduced that this vampire missed nothing. His penetrating gaze already took stock of her and drew conclusions. Curiosity made her wonder what those conclusions were.
He offered Alena and Rowan his arms and led them into a cozy room. Marcus followed as he directed them to the chairs by the fire and made sure they were comfortable.
In the confines of that large book-lined room, Arthur seemed to be the wise oracle. Rowan could tell he was far older than Marcus. Marcus told their story, and Arthur listened intently.
Marcus spared no detail, and he showed Arthur everything, even the scarab, the pendant, and the drawing Rowan made of the tomb painting.
Arthur studied the information and the artifacts for a long while before he wrote something on a slip of paper and caught Rowan’s eye.
“Bring me this?” He asked and indicted the shelves. The number on the paper correlated with a book, and so it began.
Daylight never entered that room and night turned to day and day to night, before Arthur set down his pen. He opened a world to them that they would not have found on their own.
Rowan rubbed her temples, fatigue dragged at them all, and thirst made her insides hurt, but every minute they worked had been worth it.
“The girls and I will take a moonlight stroll to my greenhouse,” Arthur announced and Marcus leaned back in the big leather chair to study him with a frown. He didn’t seem alarmed, just curious.
“Does that mean that I’m not invited?” Marcus asked with a smile, and Arthur nodded.
“That would be it,” he smirked as he once again offered his elbows for them to take, before he led them down the wide hall and outside, a gentleman in all things. They were both curious; Arthur was a charming man with a mind like a steel trap. He remembered even better than most vampires, and his intellect was astounding. What did he have to say that he didn't want Marcus to hear and why did Marcus allow it?