The Warmth of the Hearth

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Celine Blaise

“What’s all the fuss about?” Claire mutters as she sees the gathering near the outpost. She proceeds to stand up and face the origin of the ruckus. At the top of the platform was Essie and Carson, along with two other people behind them. Visitors? Essie then begins to speak “Everyone, I have great news!” Carson then proceeds to stand closer to the front, further covering the figures behind his stature. “House Laisren lives on, and it lives on with us!”

House Laisren? Claire was shocked, as she was there when the manor was burnt. They found nobody, not a single soul. Could it be that somebody survived? If so, who was it? Her heart aches at the thought of Luke and the loss of his family, wounds that unlike her left shoulder may never heal.

She looks on to see Essie and Carson make way for the figures to show themselves. One was easily recognizable with his prim and proper demeanor showing in the way he walks. “Olin.” She smiles, happy to see their dear mentor again. The other figure beside him steps into the light as well, his lean figure visible despite the robe. Claire feels her heart drop, tears now streaming down her eyes. The man who she held in her arms drenched in blood, the man who she thought she had lost, and the man she has fallen for was now standing in front of her. The crowd below them erupts, happy to see a new ally. She smiles, happiness overwhelms her as his piercing orange eyes meet with hers. “Luke…”

Essie leads Luke and Olin around the bunker, with her walking in front of them. Olin was impressed at the setup done by Kayden as it was very well thought of. The artificial sky was definitely a good choice for it not only made you forget that you were underground, it also helps grow the different plants that you’ll rely on for food. Essie then leads them to their separate rooms, which Olin would happily retreat himself to.

“If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask anybody. House Blaise is more than willing to help out, that’s what Kayden would have wanted.” She pauses, forcing a smile after seeing Luke and Olin’s concerned look. “Well, I must excuse myself. Make sure you guys rest up. I’ll talk to you later.” Essie waves the two of them goodbye, making her way to the duties she had to take care of in managing the bunker.

“Young Luke, I’m afraid I have to excuse myself to my room before you. My age seems to have caught up with me and my body is begging me to rest.” Luke smiles, amused by Olin’s nonchalant way of accepting the fact that he was getting old. He nods at Olin, happy to see his uncle getting the rest he deserves.

Luke’s eyes fall on the door to his room, an intricately designed wooden frame painted brown. It’s golden doorknob shines in the light, which Luke turns. The room reminds him of his old room in the manor, big enough to cater a couple of people at once. However, it was empty with nothing more than a closet and a bed found on opposite sides of the room. There was also a door which leads to the shower, one that he is eager to use sooner than later. He drops the backpack on the ground and takes a seat on the bed, its mattress soft enough to lull you instantly to sleep. The room’s white walls calms Luke down, as if it was telling him that everything was okay.

Essie walks towards one of the rooms on the top floor, the same wooden door is placed as an entrance. She knocks, signaling her entry. “Celine? I’m coming inside.” Essie slowly turns the knob and enters the dimly lit room, an orange glow emanating from a single lamp.

Celine Blaise lies in bed, her sickness getting worse with each passing moment. She looked younger than her actual age, albeit thin from the exhaustion of the sickness that she was suffering. Her head turns to look at Essie in the doorway, bringing her medicine for her to drink. “My dear Essie, you really don’t have to.” She pauses, coughing in between sentences. “I am well, child. And I have come to accept my fate.”

Essie scolds her aunt as she hands her the dosage to consume. A tonic made by their own personal potions master. The vial contained an orange liquid, swirling inside. She puts it on her aunt’s mouth, making sure not to spill. “Claire and Carson are waiting for you, you can’t say things like that.”

Celine apologizes, her thoughts hazy from both the sickness and the loss of Kayden. “Forgive me, my dear. I do not know what I have been saying.” She changes the subject as she watches Essie clean the room, a job which Claire used to do for her mother. “How is my little blue flame doing? She doesn’t come see me as often anymore.”

Celine did not know of what took place in the Academy for Kayden did not wish risking her health. However, keeping the news of Kayden’s death was something she deserved to know. Essie was the one who was burdened with the task of telling Celine, which was far more difficult than any battle she has been in. “She’s doing well. Claire mentioned that she was planning on visiting soon, so make sure you get well to keep her from worrying.” Essie smiles at Celine who was now smiling back.

“What was all of that cheering that I heard outside? Did something happen?” Celine asks, curious about the noise that occurred earlier.

Essie finally finishes cleaning the room as she closes the closet door. She turns to face Celine, eager to finally bring good news. “Two members of House Laisren arrived earlier today!”

Celine’s pale face brights up, a surge of happiness overwhelms her. Anais was a dear friend, and to hear that someone from House Laisren is still alive brings great joy to her. “That is wonderful news. May I ask who they were?”

“Anais’ son, Luke and his uncle Olin.” Essie smiles, knowing that this miracle of a news would make Celine happy.

Tears drip down Celine’s eyes. Luke, he was alive? The drowsiness kicks in, a side effect of her medicine. “I am glad…” Her voice trails off as she falls asleep, her sentence barely even a whisper to Essie.

Essie tucks her now sleeping aunt properly into bed, her smile never leaving her face. “I am as well.” She picks up the tray that carried the potions and leaves the room, closing the door behind her.

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