Echoes of Midnight

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Three

High Lord Stefan did not find the strength to inquire more about the woman. She was an intrigue right from the moment he saw Erik carried her body from the automobile.

They have warned him about this.

He hoped it wouldn’t be complicated as he foretold their arrival. Night was still too young. Dusk dawned upon the castle, crickets sung their lullabies before sleep, and owls readied their nests for a dark raid.

As grey clouds slithered through the Mudwick castle, cloaked figures began to emerge out of nowhere. The tallest one knocked on the giant entrance of the castle as courtesy to its master.

Indifference masked the face of the High Lord as he welcomed the three women to the castle’s drawing room. They weren’t ordinary-looking females. The three figures possessed bodies akin to goddesses - slender waists, full crimson lips that pucker with distaste against the master, and palms absent of its lines.

The one who seemed to be leading the group spoke first, “Is it true then, the master of the Mudwick castle welcomed a human to his home?”

“I believe words travel faster when you’re in flight.”

“Oh, mighty High Lord Stefan, you aren’t going to amuse us with your thrift words. We are here for something far more important and that includes that little mortal.”

“How about we take it this way? Our bargains seemed to be not working, I ordered you three to do it before the congregation for the Holy Blood Moon. Yet, you came here out of the blue with no progress to tell about, then poke my anger to tell you something about the mortal.”

“Didn’t we warn you before? A lost soul would wound its way to a castle high up the hills. The creature wouldn't get far, not unless a master would welcome it with open arms."

“That’s absurd! There are many castles around Bellevedere, and you three, the wicked fates, decided that it would be my castle.”

Rage wrapped his soul as he tried to dismiss them.

“We are not responsible for your recklessness, our dearest master,” Isa, the smallest of the three, purred with a satirical smirk.

“What do you propose now then? We cannot let Daemeon take over the castle.”

“I'm afraid you should take the most obvious of all answers, Stefan,” the leader of the fates they call Amaris said with conviction.

“And what would that be, pray tell?” bellowed the High Lord as he put his left palm around his hips.

“You take the lost mortal as a wife. That is the only way you could take full control of Mudwick again.”

Wife. Marriage. Love. A strange word to ponder on. High Lord Stefan had been estranged with emotions for a long time. Elation? Happiness? It was to his understanding that mortals marry because of feeling instead of obligations.

“You are goddesses, for holy sakes, give me something more concrete other than that.”

“Why, this is amusing, Daemeon cannot spread doom on the castle unless you show to him that you are human and not-“

“It would take eons before we could convince him of that.”

Before the three could speak up, Erik strode across the room, and went up beside the master to whisper, “My lord, the human. There is a problem with her as we are speaking.”

“Give her another herb for sleep, Erik. I’m obviously preoccupied as of the moment. We could discuss that matter tomorrow.”

With a quick dismissal of his hand, Erik took his cue and went out the door, leaving the three goddesses with their speculations.

“Hmm, this is so exciting! My pretty ear got perked upon the mention of marriage,” Isa spoke again without preamble.

“I hope you're aware of the complications, High Lord. If our congregation cease, then Gwydion's soul will continue to roam free. You and Gwydion are doomed to be separated if you're stuck as an immortal,” the goddess continued with a flick of her black robes.

High Lord Stefan dismissed her silly logic and asked with an exasperated face, “You don't know what you’re talking about, little witch. Branwen, what do you plan to do aside from this madness?”

The second goddess was a quiet, beautiful mystery. Branwen, the least outspoken of the fates, also harbored a very powerful mystical secret - one feared by mortals and even witches alike.

“You let ego take over you, Stefan, that is why I propose you take a humble approach on the matter and think it’s for the best. Can’t you see it, my lord? You are letting Daemeon defeat you, take this opportunity to prove that by marrying this mortal, you are one step closer to the woman you desired most in this realm."

The High Lord thought for a moment before he poised another problem.

“Marriage isn’t hard for me, if it is done without feelings, I can take her easily but this woman isn’t easy, I assure you. Getting close to her intimately would be a challenge.”

“Then, that’s where you draw the line between enjoying the moment as a man and moving with a purpose,” Branwen smiled with a graceful wave of her hand.

As smoke and dust swirled around the drawing room, the fates vanished into the air, leaving silence in its wake and the High Lord in his own thoughts.
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