Chapter 72 - Angel
“Our time here is limited, we can spend it exchanging threats and barbs, or we can do what we came to do?” Rowan challenged them, and Alena glanced at Marcus, who pulled out a chair for Alena to sit.
“Good, I told the Watchers that you were reasonable people - most of the time,” Rowan drawled, and Alena had trouble pretending to annoyance when she wanted to laugh. Rowan played this to the hilt, but her eyes betrayed that she might like this roleplaying just a little too much.
“You have no respect for your betters, Damphir,” Alena bit out, but a glance at the dark look Marcus adopted, showed her that his eyes glittered with mirth too.
“If...” Rowan started to say, but Marcus came to his feet and slammed his hands on the antique wooden table in an impressive display of controlled fury.
“Shut up! We’re not here to entertain your childish games,” Marcus was so convincing in his chilling anger that for a moment they both forgot they were pretending.
“Are we to begin with these books?” Marcus demanded as he snatched a book from the pile, and Rowan shrugged at him as if she didn’t care.
“To be settled with mere children,” Marcus grumbled just loud enough for their hidden audience to hear, while Rowan and Alena his their expressions with some difficulty. He sat back down, but as he did, he discreetly took inventory of the room.
Two days passed in a seemingly hostile silence as they searched the library and found some definite, but unhelpful records. Rowan stared at a row of books, and her companions frowned when a small smile touched her lips as if at some fond memory. She cocked her head in that distinct way that suggested that she heard something and they listened too.
Her eyes strayed to where a panel slid noiselessly back, and her eyes fixed on the darkness beyond with no physical reaction. Her gaze lifted slightly, and when Alena turned a little, she understood why.
Rowan was gone a while. She expected a child, but that child had grown into a woman. The girl was beautiful, dressed well, but there was something ethereal about her. Fragile almost.
She glanced at Alena with uneasy trepidation, but her eyes focused on Rowan with absolute trust. She skirted Alena just slightly and hugged Rowan fiercely. Rowan returned the gesture without the slightest hesitation, but with restraint, careful not to hurt the human child.
Rowan touched her face with an unexpected fondness, but there was just the smallest amount of accusation in those clear blue eyes that stared back at her. The girl took Rowan’s hand and started to lead her away, but she never spoke.
“Come,” Rowan instructed Alena in a tone of voice just at the edge of her hearing. The head of the Watchers summoned Marcus to his office hours ago, and he hadn’t returned yet.
They followed the girl through passages and corridors until they reached an older part of the house before they finally they entered another library filled with ancient books and manuscripts.
The young woman handed Rowan a slip of paper, and she hugged Rowan to her once more before she left. It was the kind of affection that one would have for a sibling or a beloved friend. When the girl left, Rowan looked both infinitely sad and tired.
Alena wistfully wondered what it would have been like to grow up with Rowan? What would have happened if Victor brought Rowan into their home and treated them both as his daughters? Alena suspected that they would have ended up bitter rivals for Victor’s love and attention. Would they have learned to hate each other?
“Who is she?” Alena asked as Rowan started her search, and Rowan visibly hesitated.
“She’s Ronald Lazarus’s granddaughter. They were on their way here when some robbers overcame them. The men brutally murdered her parents and forced her to watch. They beat Claire severely and left her for dead. She recovered, but she never spoke again,” Rowan relented, and Alena frowned.
“We seemed to find some affinity in each other. Unlikely, but possible,” Rowan added just as she found what the girl intended for them to see. They removed the documents and returned to the passage which led back to the other library.
“How did she know what we were looking for?” Alena whispered as they made their way forward.
“She knows everything that goes on in this place, and she can sense people’s emotions or intentions. Her mother was a clairvoyant,” Rowan explained as they slipped back inside the main library. “Plus she’s good at sneaking around,” Rowan revealed with a smirk.
The documents had all the missing pieces of the puzzle, and even more. It took two weeks for them to piece it all together without the Watchers realizing what Claire gave them.
Claire seemed to Alena like a friendly ghostly presence. Things appeared in the library in moments when they left or during the day, and they were added so only Rowan would notice.
They were just putting the story together, one piece at a time and adding their knowledge to it, when the door opened. Rowan didn’t even glance up to see who it was, but her manner became tense. Alena looked at Marcus, and from his wariness, she knew he noticed it as well.
Rowan hid the handwritten note she worked on with the ease of someone adept at concealing things, and the others did the same.
“Angel, come,” the lean woman almost ordered. Her face had a warrior’s edge to it, but she also had an intensity to her that was odd. Somehow not quite human, but their senses perceived her as such.
The name was unfamiliar to them and caught them off guard, but Rowan obeyed without hesitation. Something in her manner betrayed reluctance, anger, and unease.
“Yes,” Rowan agreed as she prepared to follow the familiar stranger through the corridors. She knew Marcus and Alena had no idea what this was about, and she needed for them to remain calm.
“I have an appointment, please excuse me,” Rowan said in an annoyed tone that she realized wouldn’t fool her family, but it did what she wanted, they remained seated and asked no questions. Alena tried their bond, but something in this place dulled their connection to each other.
Rowan once worked side by side with the woman who came to fetch her, but the balance had shifted. They were now on opposite sides of this matter, and they would never be on the same side again. Rowan mourned the loss. By choosing Alena and Marcus, even though these people had no idea of the truth, she closed the doors to her past with the Watchers.