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Synopsis 🔞

'Even the lone wolf has a thirst for love'

Calhoun Hawthrone's mother is kicked out of the royal castle of Devon before he is even born, where she eventually dies out of an unknown disease. Seeing her suffering, he swears to avenge the royal family who caused his mother grief. 

Devon is led by King Laurence with his mother Queen Morganna who hasn't handed her position to the next Queen. Desperate for an heir, when the King finds out about Calhoun's existence, and he brings him to the castle to be his heir. 

Queen Morganna tries to throw many obstacles at Calhoun by sending men to kill him and tries to sully his name, but he continues to stand his ground. It is later found out that Lady Rosamund, who is the King's sister, had worked with her mother in doing something worse than just kicking Calhoun's mother out.

During his time in the castle, he meets his half-sister, Lucy, who is kind compared to the rest of her family. Lucy and Calhoun's right-hand man named Theodore spend time with each other, falling slowly in love to only have their love stolen before they have the opportunity to stay together. Queen Morganna arranges Lucy's marriage to Samuel Grivelle, while killing the woman who had taken the orphan Theodore when he was a small boy. This pushes Theodore to turn distant towards Lucy so that he can concentrate on helping Calhoun to get his revenge. 

Lucy marries and leaves the castle. As time passes by, Calhoun gains the favour of the King and the people around. He frames the Queen for committing treason against the King and gets rid of her. He then kills the King and the Queen, while leaving Rosamund alive as the new organization who are looking for justice and fairness have arisen, who keep an eye on people who get the others executed for no reason- The High House. He eventually takes up the crown and the throne for himself, but his heart continues to remain cold. 

The world where they live in consist of vampires, weres and the humans, but there are other people who have hidden themselves, camouflaging in the background. They are demons and angels. 

Two decades passes by and the Eve of the Hallow is held in the Hawthrone castle, where people from the villages and towns have been handpicked to attend the ball hosted by King Calhoun. 

With the commoners invited to the ball, families look forward to looking at the castle, while many anticipated suitors for their daughters to get married to. Out of the many families, one such family is the Harris', who are humans. Mr. and Mrs. Harris are blessed with two daughters, Elizabeth and Madeline, who are dear to them. The family is excited for the ball and they visit the castle.

While most were dressed in silk and jewels, the clothes vibrant, Madeline Harris' gown falls paler in comparison to the rest of the crowd which is beige in colour. It isn't the same when it came to her older sister, Elizabeth, who rented a red gown to stand in a ball. But with every wearing vibrant clothes, the older sister's gown gets lost in the sea of the crowd while it is Madeline who catches the King's attention.

To Calhoun it is love at first sight, but the same cannot be said when it comes to Madeline. She is wary by Calhoun's presence who has his face hidden behind a silver mask.

He steals her handkerchief to create an opportunity to speak to her and he only turns more smitten by her. Someone who has been away from love for years with the lack of humanness, he ends up courting the girl like a wolf under a prowl.
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Excerpt

"Your bed is cold," spoke a voice in the room that had her eyes go wide in fear. Nervously, she turned around, gulping softly to see a shadow on her bed as if someone laid down there. The man who had been lying down sat up emerging out from the shadows where he had been waiting for her.

"What are you doing here?" she asked when his feet touched the ground and he pushed himself up to start walking towards her. His handsome features looked darker than usual because of the lack of light in the room.

"I came to meet you," he tilted his head, "Where did you go?"

"I went out for a walk," came the quick reply that had him smile, a smile that scared her the most.

She took a step back when he came close to her. It didn't stop him from cornering her, and her back hit the wall behind her. He raised his hand towards her face, and she closed her eyes, scared. She shuddered when his fingers trail down from her temple and her jaw and neck. Her blonde hair was left open.

"In the middle of the night?" she didn't answer him knowing he could decipher her lies through her words. He stepped closer that had her turn her face away from him and his words vibrated on the skin of her neck,

"Did you go to meet him, my sweet girl?"

--

Note: The ML appears more eviler than what you will find in other books. He's an alpha male. There will be a good side, but it will take time. This is a slow-burn book. 

Some of the facts and the use of dialogues have been bent and changed to fit into the story. So if you find a unicorn or frogs flying in the book wearing capes and glasses, then remember that this is a work of fiction which doesn't adhere to real facts.
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Invitation

Author-note: If you want to know more about the King's background of why he is the way he is, please read the first few chapters of volume-2 that starts from chapter 561

.

"Mama!" a young girl made her way inside the humble house of the Harris with an envelope in her hand, "Look at this!" her voice was full of glee and excitement that she could barely contain. She waved the envelope in her hand, she looked around the house, "Mama!"

Not finding her mother or her sibling inside, the girl made her way to the backyard of the house where she saw her mother and her younger sister who were hanging the wet clothes on the clothes line. The sun was bright and warm enough to dry the clothes they had washed in the river.

"Mama! Maddie!"

"Stop shouting, Beth. I am sure even Mrs. Parkins can hear you over the fence," said the woman who had an apron tied around her waist and her hair tied in a bun, "What's gotten you excited?" asked her mother.

The girl named Beth smiled at her mother and showed her the envelope in her hand, "Look what I received," there was a red seal on the envelope that had been opened, "It is an invitation to the grand ball of Hallow in the King's castle."

"That is not possible. Why would the King send an invitation to us?" her mother asked and then took the letter from her to notice the seal that was on the outside, "Madeline, why don't you read this one as my hands are wet."

The grand ball of Hallow took place every year in the King's palace and it was a ball that many wished to go but it was not for the lower people but only for the men who worked for the King and his other acquaintances who mostly hailed from the rich class. People like the Harris' family didn't have the opportunity to get an invitation which was why the woman wondered if her older daughter was imagining things.

The youngest daughter, Madeline said, "Let me take a look at that, mama," and she read what was written in it. Her eyebrows furrowed, "It is indeed an invitation from the King. We have our name in there."


"I told you!" the older girl replied, clapping her hands and coming to stand next to her younger sister who was two-inch shorter than her. Beth had dark brown hair that almost looked black and eyes that were green in color, acquiring her features from her father while the younger girl took after her mother's pale features with blonde hair and brown eyes that had her living in her older sister's shadow, "What do you think? Should we go to the ball?"

Madeline who was the youngest smiled at her sister who was a year older to her who looked excited to go to the ball. It was obvious Beth had been wanting to go there like many other folks who couldn't afford to even step into the castle and only look at it from afar. Her brown eyes shifted to look at her mother who was in deep thought.

She could tell that her mother was calculating the cost if they were going to attend the ball. Birds flew up in the sky, chirping as they made their way towards the forest.

"How did we get invited?" asked Madeline to her sister Beth, "Is it for everyone?" she found it hard to believe that the king or the people who worked for him had decided to send an invitation to a family where the crown would not benefit anything from it.

Seeing the frown on her younger sister's face, Beth said, "The King has decided to be generous enough in inviting many families to attend the ball this time instead of limiting it with minimum numbers. I was right there in the market when I heard the announcement made in front of the village's scaffold."

"How kind of him," Madeline murmured under her breath. With what she had heard, the King was nowhere generous and had the reputation of a cruel tyrant. People like her or many of them who lived on this side of the village had never seen the king but had heard only stories.

Some good but mostly bad.

"Are we going, mama? It is not every time we are invited by the king and get the opportunity to see the castle," Beth eagerly waited for her mother who said,

"We will need gowns, shoes and carriage to travel which we can't afford. Your father is working really hard and the little money we have saved is for one of you married and settled while we seek the help of whoever gets married first," Beth looked glum hearing this.


The elder woman gave it some thought, her eyebrows knitted together. If one of her daughters were able to acquire a male's interest who was of high status, everything would fall in the right place. There were enough suitors who were already trying to woo her daughters. Like every mother, she had the best interest of her daughters in her heart and wanted to see her daughters married and have a good life.

"I suppose you are right. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity but you will need to arrange the gowns, Beth. I will ask your father if he can arrange the carriage," said their mother to have Beth scream in joy.

"Oh, mother, thank you! I will ask Mr. Heathcliff if he can rent us some clothes for that evening. Surely, he wouldn't mind for a day," Madeline heard her sister speak excitedly where she could see her elder sister was already dreaming about it, "You wouldn't mind if I take Maddie along with me, do you, mama?"

"Don't go too far!" their mother yelled when the girls stepped out of the house.

The woman knew out of her two daughters, it was her older daughter who was interested to go and keen on finding a suitor amongst the possible crowd in the ball that was going to take place in the castle. Maybe it was a good thing and the probability of Beth placing a man as husband was higher than Madeline as she was the stunning one out of the two girls. It would place her daughter in a better position while it would also improve the Harris' status and wealth.

But no one knew what fate had in store.
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Tailor's door

The roads of the village were busy with people walking and a few carriages that came to pass by them occasionally. Beth tugged her sister, Madeline by her hand. Madeline saw her sister walking quickly and she said,

"Sister Beth, the shop won't close right away. We still have time for the ball," Madeline had to remind her sister as she appeared to be in a hurry.

"Oh, hush, Maddie. You don't know how people are going to be swarming in the shop soon to get their clothes tailored or fitted. Knowing a lot of us cannot afford, there is going to be a line when it comes to renting the gowns," said Beth walking along with her sister as they made way to the village's esteemed tailoring shop owned by James Heathcliff, "It's right to take you along as the man fancies you. It would be easy to get our clothes from him. Just because you aren't interested in going to the ball and don't enjoy those things doesn't mean I should too, does it?" her sister let out a hearty laugh.

A smile appeared on Madeline's lips when she said, "I never said I didn't want to. I do wish to attend to the ball."

"Don't be a damp weather on a sunny day then," Beth smiled, giving a quick look to Madeline. If it weren't for the little laugh, one would have found how Beth tried to demean her sister, which the younger girl brushed it away by thinking it was her sister's playful words.

Like many others from the villages and a few towns, Madeline wanted to go to the ball, but her purpose of going was different compared to her sister. Her sister, Beth, wanted to place herself in the highest social standing than live her life here in the village. Madeline was slightly hesitant in going to the shop because it wasn't just Mr. Heathcliff who fancied her. She liked the man, but neither of them had ever spoken about it. The most Madeline had done so far was smile at the man.

Once they reached the shop, as expected, there were young girls and women, who Beth had seen receive the invitation letters from the messenger of the castle,

"Do you think he has so many gowns to give everyone?" Madeline noticed how far the line had been formed. By the time they would go to receive it, there would be none left.


"Of course, he doesn't. The man barely has five to ten good ones while the rest I believe have been given away by now," Beth looked at the entrance of the shop and then the line before she pulled Madeline towards the door. She pushed her sister in the front so that Mr. HeathCliff would notice Madeline which he did in less than a few seconds.

To Beth's calculated expectation, Mr. Heathcliff excused himself from the customer by handing the work to his assistant so that he could talk to her sister.

Madeline smiled when her eyes met with Mr. Heathcliff's pale green ones, and he smiled back at her.

"Miss Madeline," he greeted her first and then greeted Beth, "Miss Elizabeth."

"Good afternoon, Mr. Heathcliff," Madeline greeted him.

Beth didn't know why the man took an interest in her sister as she was better looking out of the two of them and Mr. Heathcliff was a decent looking man in this village. Not caring about it as she had to get the gowns from him, she used her sister as a means to get it.

"How have you been doing, Mr. Heathcliff?" Beth initiated the conversation.

The man gave a gentleman-like smile, "Very well, milady. The King gave out invitations today to some of the families in and around the village. It is why we have a line of customers waiting to get their clothes," said the man.

He turned around to make sure his assistant was taking the right measurement as it wasn't often they had these many people waiting in a queue.

"Are you here to buy clothes?" he inquired before his eyes fell on the younger blonde girl as if he were unable to keep his eyes off of her.

Madeline, who felt her sister nudge her back from behind, spoke, "We received the invitation too."

"You did?" he asked, surprised to see Madeline nod.

"Did you get invited to the ball too, Mr. Heathcliff?" asked Beth and the man smiled at her.

"I didn't," he laughed at the end, "I am guessing you are here for the gowns?"

"We were hoping we could get the gowns from your shop if it is possible. We will make sure we return the gowns in the same condition," Beth politely asked the man with a smile of promise in the hope that he would agree.

They heard Mr. Heathcliff say, "I don't know about that. Some gowns will be given to the ones who are first in the line."


"We don't mind gowns that look average," it was Madeline who said this to him, "Please," and he finally gave in.

Mr. Heathcliff opened the back door for them so that they could come in and have a look at the gown that were kept as rented gowns without it costing too much. While her sister, Beth, was busy searching a silk gown for herself, Madeline looked in the other side to have Mr. Heathcliff assist her.

"I am surprised you didn't receive an invitation," said Madeline as he helped her. It was because the man stitched and delivered materials of clothes for people who lived in the palace.

"My guess is a tailor isn't much of an importance. I would have probably felt less bad if I didn't know you were not going. I mean you girls," he laughed and then said, "I am happy that you are going to attend it. Maybe you can come back and tell me how it was."

"I will be sure to do that," Madeline agreed to it before her sister, Beth, called for her help in choosing the gowns.
_______
Worry

"What do you think about this?" Beth asked, picking up the gowns which she had chosen. The elder Harris' daughter picked up the dress in her hand and placed it at the front so that Madeline could decide if it was good enough to be worn at the grand ball.

Madeline moved forward and looked at the gowns that had been chosen and asked, "What about the red one?" compared to the other dresses, the red one stood out the most. Made of silk and lace with embroidered stonework, she waited as Beth picked up the dress and turned to look at the mirror.

"I guess it doesn't look bad on me," Beth turned back and forth. She turned to look at Mr. Heathcliff, who had been waiting on the two girls. "How much is this one?" she asked him with her expressive green eyes.

"That would cost a whole silver coin," Mr. Heathcliff wasn't sure if they could afford a whole silver for a single piece of the gown as there was also Madeline who was yet to choose her gown. Even Madeline wondered if they could afford it but her sister, Beth, surprised her by saying,

"I will take it. Maddie, why don't you choose one for yourself?" asked Beth.

"Mr. Heathcliff, could you excuse us for a moment," Madeline requested the man who gave her a nod and left the sisters in the backroom. The younger girl asked, "Do you have a coin of silver? We still need to get clothes for mother and father."

"Oh, don't worry about that. I saved some money from what I received," answered Beth who was still looking at the gown that she held in her hand, " It is not a small gathering. People from different parts of the towns and villages are going to be there. I would like to see our family dressed well. I wouldn't rob my sister and my family from the joy of going to the castle. Is that what you think?" Beth looked sad with the thought.

"Of course not! It is just that a coin of silver is too much for us to give for a single gown. I know you aren't like that," said Madeline with a small frown, "If you say that you have saved enough, then it should be fine."

"You worry for no reason," Beth placed the gown down and started to look for other gowns that were not from the same rack which she had picked for herself, "We are visiting the castle, therefore, we cannot afford to look like we came from the village."


"I don't think there's anything wrong in the village," Madeline said, searching the gowns herself.

"Nobody said anything is wrong with the village," Beth laughed, "Before I was on my way home, I heard Mr. Craigs that he received an invitation to the ball too. So you can tell what kind of people will be there. There are going to be eligible men, you should find one there," advised Beth to her little sister who didn't know how life worked.

"I think I am fine here," Madeline laughed as her sister Beth had plans to marry a man from the ball.

Beth, who was looking for a gown for Madeline, stopped and came to stand next to her sister, "Truly, you don't plan to find a man like Mr. Heathcliff. He is a nice man, but as your sister, I would want you to marry someone much better than him. Imagine both you and I married someone who is sound in wealth. It would benefit not only us but also our parents."

Madeline didn't respond. It was rude to speak about Mr. Heathcliff when they were in his shop. He had been generous to lend them the clothes first, "I think I am much more suitable for the life here. I have you. I am sure when you get betrothed to the man you want, you will help us."

"That I will," Beth replied with a grin, "I hear the king is very handsome and is single."

"Aren't there gossips about him bedding many women?" Madeline asked her sister, going back to look at the gowns.

"They are just rumours. It isn't like any of the villagers have ever seen him. The King doesn't invite everyone to see him. People are jealous and will spew any nonsense," Beth said, taking the red gown she had picked for herself, "and who knows, if the King takes an interest in me, there wouldn't be anything to worry. I guess red is the right choice," Madeline saw her sister Beth grin widely.

"Red suits you. You will stand out once you wear it, you stand out without it too," Madeline smiled at her sister.

"Look at you being my personal cheerer. Let's find you a gown so that we don't impose on the man further."

Beth instead of looking at the gowns that were fabricated in silk, moved to the other side looking at different materials, "I think I found one," said the elder girl and pulled out a beige coloured gown.


Compared to the striking red gown that Beth had picked for herself, she had picked a paler gown for Madeline. It wasn't silk but made of different fabrics. Not having a chance to open and look at the dress properly because of the crowd that stood waiting outside the tailor shop, the girls quickly picked up gowns and clothes for their parents. Paying Mr. Heathcliff with silver and bronze coins, they left thanking the man.

After the time of dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Harris had retired to their room. Mr. Harris gave a thought regarding the invitation that had been sent to them.

Mr. Harris said, "It is said that the castle is not safe. People get lost and disappear, never to be seen again. You have heard rumours about the King. Somewhere, I don't feel right to go and attend the Hallow there."

"It would be rude to refuse an invitation that has come from the castle, you and I both know that. It is only a ball, what can go wrong. There will be masks covering our faces," Mrs. Harris tried to ease her husband's worried lines that had formed on his face, "Also, the girls have reached their peak point of age, meeting other men out of this village would do them good," she said while fluffing the pillow and getting the blanket on the bed which had been washed and dried today.

Her husband's frown only deepened further, "You don't plan to marry them with somebody there, do you? We know nothing about the people who will be attending there. Beth is a child, still young."

"Beth is a grown woman and knows what she wants. She would be helping our family with our current situation. There's no harm with that," said Mrs. Harris, keeping the best interest of her family in her mind. It wasn't that Mrs. Harris was greedy but she was only looking for the best for her family, to have a better life.

"And what about Madeline?" asked Mr. Harris knowing how tender the girl was compared to his older daughter who was bold.


Mrs. Harris sat next to her husband and said, "You and I both know Madeline wishes for a simple life. While Beth, you know Beth. The girl dreams about mansion, servants and jewels. If she finds a decent suitor, it might make way for Madeline too," once Beth would get engaged, there would be better prospects for Madeline, thought Mrs. Harris to herself, "Madeline is mature enough to handle herself too. Have some faith that they will be alright."

"It is not that I don't..."

A parent was not supposed to show a difference in emotions when it came to their children. Mr. Harris couldn't stop but worry about Madeline who was the opposite of Beth. She was gentle and too kind. Madeline fell paler by looks in front of her beautiful and attractive sister, but that didn't mean she wasn't pretty to look at.

The girls were often seen together, and when a man passed by, it was often Beth who caught their attention. And just because he was more concerned about Madeline, it didn't mean he loved his elder daughter any less than the younger one.

After some thought, he finally said,

"I will ask Mr. Miller if he can lend his carriage for the day."
______

Preparation to go

The day of the ball finally arrived, and many young girls, women and men couldn't help but look forward to the night that was approaching closer with every tick of time and second that moved without waiting for anyone.

As written in the invitation, the ball would start at eight at night. It was also added that everyone would be eating in the castle. The thought of tasting something unusual with the mouth-watering delicacies that most had only dreamt, people could hardly wait.

The journey to the castle would take nearly an hour and none of them wanted to be late to the ball. After all, it was once in a lifetime.

"Are you going to be alright?" asked Madeline who was pulling the laces of the corset that her sister Beth wore right now. Beth held her breath and nodded her head while she held one of the bedposts.

"Make it tighter," Beth said and Madeline pulled the lace further so that Beth could have a more accentuated bodice of the figure once she would put the gown that was borrowed from Mr. Heathcliff's shop, "Okay, this looks good."

Beth went to stand in front of the mirror, turning herself back and front to make sure it looked as she wanted and it did.

"Will you be able to breathe?" Madeline asked at the tightness of her sister's corset that was making her worried just by looking at it.

"Absolutely," Beth smiled with an assuring smile, "Come, let me help you with yours," Madeline looked at her sister apprehensively.

"I will have Mama do my laces. I wouldn't want to die out of suffocation," said Madeline whose arm was pulled by Beth.

"Don't be a child. If you don't tie the corset with bodice the right, the gown is not going to sit well. I want to make sure my sister looks beautiful," Beth tugged her sister to come forward and stand near the bedpost, "Hold your breath," and when Madeline did as asked by Beth as her sister pulled the laces from the back.

Madeline let go of her breath, holding the post too so that she wouldn't be pulled back with the force that Beth used to keep the laces tight together. Beth was a good sister to Madeline and personally, she didn't mean any wrong unless there was a need for competition. She was a good person if things went her way. She liked to be first in everything and it was something she had inherited since she was a young girl.


Beth was the first one to get ready as she had completed doing her hair by tying most of her hair up while leaving two pieces of her hair curled in the back to rest on her shoulder. She wore the striking red dress that fit her perfectly that had a zip in the back. It was a half-sleeved gown with stone works around her chest and at the bottom of her skirt that had several layers.

The elder daughter of the Harris looked nothing less to a high standing woman of the society.

"Do you need any help?" asked Beth who was yet to wear her dress.

"No, I am fine," Madeline responded back who was looking at her shoe and then she turned around to look at her beautiful sister. She could see the excitement in Beth's eyes and she said, "I am sure we will have a line of men waiting for you tomorrow once we come back from the ball."

Beth waved her hand before asking, "Do you think it looks fine?"

"I think it looks fantastic," Madeline chuckled to hear her sister say.

"Are you sure you don't need any help? You haven't got your hair done yet either," Beth pursed her lips looking at her sister. To Madeline, her sister's words were of concern shown towards her.

"Yes. I will be done soon. Why don't you see if mama and papa are ready?" Madeline asked her sister to check on their parents and Beth gave her a nod.

"Alright," said Beth leaving Madeline in the room.

Madeline finally wore the gown that was somewhat pale beige in colour. Unlike her sister's dress that was made in silk, the texture of this gown was different and something she had never stumbled upon in past. It showed her shoulders with a little extra work at the top that emphasized her figure as the dress travelled down her body to touch the floor.

The dress wasn't eye-catching but it was simple yet beautiful in its own way. There were no stones but a lot of delicate thread work which Madeline had to remind herself to bring back the dress to Mr. Heathcliff in the same condition she had borrowed from the shop.

She then worked on her hair by taking many pieces of her hair at the front of her hair to tie and leaving out the rest of it that stopped just above her waist. She used pins to secure her hair while pulling small pieces of her hair from the sides of her temple.


When everyone was finally ready, they could hear many carriages passing by their house as a lot of the guests had started to head to the castle to make sure they weren't going to miss anything today.

"Look at both of you, you look so beautiful," Mrs. Harris, raised her hands to have both the girls hug her back. When they pulled back, Mrs. Harris asked Beth, "Why didn't you help Madeline with her hair? It looks very simple. There should still be time to fix it up," it was because Beth's hairstyle suited her attire and the place they would be going while Madeline appeared to have tied her hair by letting it down by simple clips.

"I did ask her," Beth said looking at Madeline's hair that did look simple and she pursed her lips. She looked at the dress that her sister wore for the fifth time since Madeline had worn it, "I asked her if she needed help," this was precisely why she had asked if Madeline needed help so that they wouldn't be late.

"That's alright, mama," Madeline held her mother's hand, "Didn't you just say we look beautiful? It should be fine," she smiled at her mother, a smile that had her mother smiling too, "Doesn't Beth look beautiful with the red dress? It suits her well," Madeline deviated the topic where her mother gave her a knowing look before she said,

"Beautiful as always," hearing the sound of the carriage and horses again, they looked at the road to finally see the carriage stop at the front of their house.
________

Grand Ball: Hallow- Part 1

The Harris family didn't have a private carriage of their own. The most they had done was use the local transport that moved twice a day from the village they lived in, to the next one and the other towns where one would have to change carriages.

It was a reason why both Madeline, as well as Beth, appeared to be looking out of the window with eager eyes, and this included Mrs. Harris.

Madeline, who sat next to Beth, looked outside the window with the trees that passed by one after another. The sky had turned dark two hours ago due to which it was just their carriage that had fixated lanterns that gave out light outside along with other carriages that were either in front of them or behind them heading in the direction of the castle that was emitting light from the lanterns.

The young girl continued to look outside the little window until she heard her father say,

"Were the Hamptons invited?"

"They have been invited," it was their mother who answered to this who had been sitting prim and proper with a straight back as if trying to rehearse how to rest as she was wearing a gown herself that was made of silk, "Mrs. Hamptons kept speaking about it in every conversation with everyone she met as if the King had come to invite her personally. She wanted to let everyone know that her family was special; therefore, I made sure to tell her and some of them that the King invited us to the ball too."

Beth and Madeline smiled at their mother's words who had knit her brows as she said it. Their father said, "I am sure you did that, my dear."

Beth chuckled to say, "It is the King so everyone cannot wait to show off that they have been invited to the castle."

"That is true," said their father, "It must be the very first time that the King decided to invite people like us," people who lacked when it came to both money, as well as status, had always been separated from the rich folks.

"Do you think the King is a good man, papa?" Beth asked her father.

"It is hard to say," muttered her father and then said, "Once we reach the castle, make sure both you girls stay together. We have seen the castle only from afar. I wouldn't want my daughters lost and where your mother or I will need to find you girls later in worry."


"And do not cause any trouble," their mother added to have both the young girls nod their head, "I heard the castle is vast. As big as the village," said her mother that had her father continue with the conversation but Madeline didn't listen to it. Instead, she turned her head to look outside at the trees.

As they neared the castle, they were able to see glimpses of it from afar, and they continued to ride in the carriage. She clutched the mask that was in her hand. It was a masquerade ball. If it weren't for the ball and Beth's persistence of wanting to attend the ball tonight, they wouldn't have got the opportunity to wear dresses like these or go in the carriage now.

When the carriage passed through the big pillars, Madeline looked at the leaves and creepers that decorated the gates. The land was vast with trees and gardens that were beautiful like one would imagine heaven to be. Like Madeline, there were some men and women who were busy looking at their surroundings.

Madeline took her mask that was gold in colour, tying it around her face before they would reach the entrance of the castle.

The carriage finally came to a pause and the door of the carriage was opened for Mr. and Mrs. Harris to get down first who was followed by Beth where she had to make sure she didn't step on her dress. Two servants came forward to straighten her dress once she had stepped down before they moved to help Madeline.

"Thank you," Madeline bowed at the castle maids after they had helped in fixing her dress.

The castle was lit up with torches of fire, and right now it looked beautiful. Madeline continued to look at the castle which in truth was as big as the village they lived in. Every person who had stepped out of the carriage and was getting down were dressed in different materials and texture of clothing that was eye-catching.

"Please head this way ladies and gentlemen," the guard stood guiding the guests who had stepped out of the carriage.


Madeline, along with her sister, walked inside the castle that had wide doors that were carved beautifully. There were paintings on the ceilings that lit up for view because of the chandelier that held many candles in them and these hanging chandelier's carried stones like diamonds that reflected light around them. While the elites continued to walk forward, it was the poor people who couldn't help but look at beautiful things they were surrounded in.

When Madeline and her parents were taking their time to look at their surroundings, Beth urged, "Let's go to the main ballroom," she noticed how the people who belonged to the higher class spared them one glance and showed the distaste on their lips.

"Look at that painting. What do you think it is made of?" Mrs. Harris whispered to her husband.

"It should be an oil painting; they still look greasy," answered Mr. Harris.

"Really?" asked Mrs. Harris in surprise, "I would have never thought."

"I saw Milton having one of these. It takes a lot of time to dry. It should be very old, though. Some have excellent qualities," Mr. Harris responded to his wife's curiosity.

One of the couples who passed by them snickered as they heard the Harris speak and Madeline noticed this. She heard the man say, "I don't think it's hard to differentiate people from us," and the woman smiled with a smirk. Her eyebrows drew together with the way the eyes looked at them even though there were masks on their face.

Madeline knew the kind of place she and her family members had come. Though the King for the very first time had invited the villagers and people who lived in the town, she wondered what was the King's motive in doing so.

"Maddie!" Beth called her, "Let's go," giving a smile, Madeline walked next to her sister, and Beth took one step forward so that she was the first one to be seen.
________
Grand Ball: Hallow- Part 2

As expected, it looked like everyone who had received the invitation had arrived at the castle unless they had died, thought Madeline to herself because there were many people, men and women dressed in dresses and gowns, masks on their faces which made it difficult to know who was who. Not that it made much difference. Still, it would have been nice to meet the people of her village.

Madeline's parents took their own time to look around the castle while she accompanied her sister, who could barely wait to explore and go to the ballroom which was where the celebration of the Hallow was taking place.

Before they even reached the ballroom, they could hear music filling up every part of the castle.

"This is going to be a wonderful night, isn't it!" Beth exclaimed it to her sister as quietly as she could, "The music is so beautiful, yet there's some sadness in there. The castle is magnificent."

"Indeed it is," Madeline agreed, looking at the walls and the pillars that were part of the castle. Some people walked by, talking and laughing with each other. People who knew each other. A lot of men who came to pass by looked at Beth as she stood out with the gown that she wore, the stones on it sparking to catch one's eyes in the long and wide corridor.

"Imagine to live here, Maddie," said Beth looking around without being too obvious, "One would be like a queen."

"There must be a lot of servants to maintain something so big like this castle," Madeline responded. She was sure with the amount they had walked and covered, and this was just little part of the castle.

Beth laughed, hearing this, "Oh, sister. Are you thinking about cleaning the castle?"

A man who was coming in the opposite direction appeared to be of tall, wearing clothes that only the richest of the rich could afford. With half of his face covered by the mask and the other half free, one could tell this man was a handsome one with decent looking features. As he walked by them, his eyes fell on Beth, and he smiled. Beth raised her head, tipping up her chin as if she were the daughter of a Duke or a Lord.

"He was looking at you," Madeline pointed the obvious with a whisper, "Do you think he will ask you to dance later?" it was because the girls were not familiar with the people in here.

"Who knows," Beth replied, shrugging her shoulders, "I don't think he is the King," she murmured.

"How do you know he is not?" stated Madeline as they had never met the King personally.

They started to head towards the ballroom, and Beth said, "The King appears only in front of people who are worthy of him."

Two guards stood on either side of the door as they entered the ballroom, which was filled with music and people. The room was lit just enough for one to be able to walk without crashing with another person. Like her sister had mentioned, the music that was placed in one corner of the room was indeed beautiful yet hauntingly sad that could make a person anxious.

Madeline and Beth did meet a person who they knew. It was Mr. Keith who had noticed Beth as he was her admirer.

"Lady Beth, you look beautiful. So do you, Lady Madeline," praised Mr. Keith whose eyes shifted to look at Beth.

"You don't look bad yourself, Mr Keith," Beth gave the man a polite smile, "Did you come alone?" she asked him. Madeline heard Beth and Mr. Keith converse, and she looked around at people who had found the people they knew to speak to.

While the guests were in the ballroom, entering one after another that still left enough space for others who were still getting to the castle, two men stood in the balcony wearing masks. One man stood near the railings of the gallery, looking at the people through the golden mask that covered his eyes,

"We have many people who have gathered in the ballroom," the man commented, and he then turned to ask, "I thought with the minister's words, the castle would have turned to a local market in the Pastical but it looks much better."

"Pity. I was ready to hang him in the scaffold that is in front of the church," said the other male stood with his back and one leg against the wall. Unlike the person who had spoken, this person's face was entirely covered by a silver mask. His black hair was combed back, and his head leaned against the wall with his eyes closed, "Any good meals for the night?" he asked.

"There are some decent looking women. Finer and different."

Hearing the reply, the man who stood against the wall, one side of his lips pulled up behind his mask, and he opened his red coloured eyes.
__________
The girl in white

The man with red eyes looked down at the crowd of gathering that had taken place in the ballroom. His eyes moved leisurely towards the people who were playing the music in the corner of the room, the music that was to his taste which he enjoyed the most.

"Will you be making your presence known?" asked the man who took a step back, making way for him to stand in the front.

"Let's see," hummed the man with the full mask, "It would have been better to have people of our class, but I guess it isn't so bad. It isn't every day we get to see people who live in their burrows. Do we now, Theo?"

"I guess not, milord," the man named Theo who had his brown hair combed to the side replied with his head bowed, "Not everyone has the blessing to meet and see you."

"It isn't hard to differentiate the guests from the ones of our own. Humans," said the man looking as his eyes fell on a couple of people who appeared to be curious, "Fragile and weak, like lambs when given grass. They will come and chew not knowing the butcher is going to cut its neck. Curious and foolish little things."

"I hear Lady Sophie engaging herself with the Duke. Her parents want her to get married to the man," commented Theo.

"Let her be. Women like her are plenty. Trying to get under my good side which I enjoyed for a day but even flattery gets dull. One more day and her parents would find her floating in the river."

Theodore gave a knowing smile. The man next to him was hard to please, especially with the years and time that had passed by, there were only a few things that could keep his attention, and when it did, the King seized it for himself.

"Milord," came a maid who held a tray of wine in her hand. She had her head bowed where she didn't dare to lift her head. The girl's hands appeared to be shivering, and she tried to keep still.

Theodore was the one who picked up the two glasses who then waved his hand for her to leave. He wondered if the maid had been touched or if she had been warned and threatened that her hands shivering. He handed the glass and stated, "You enjoy the ball," and he received a chuckle in response.


"What is not there to enjoy. There's music. Food. Women and girls with gowns decked themselves waiting and willing to be taken to bed. Men, women. It is a treat for everyone," said the person, raising his glass to drink the wine through the little line of space that barely showed his lips.

Theodore took his drink as if to toast, agreeing to the words spoken before taking a sip from the glass, "Are you planning to go down, Calhoun?" asked Theodore.

"Go ahead. I will join in sometime."

Theodore made a bow and left the King's side, going to join the merriment of Hallow that was taking place in the castle.

The man with the silver mask looked at the crowd from the gallery with music that echoed and hummed in the room they were in. As his blood-red eyes moved across the room, he noticed something he didn't expect to see.

In the sea of darkness that had been created by the guests who wore dark clothes and girls who mostly wore red in an attempt to catch the King's eyes, the man noticed a girl who was in a light coloured dress. And maybe it was the dress or maybe it was the mask on her face that had slipped away from her face, the ribbons turning loose behind her head to slip down to show the girl's face.

His red eyes fixed on her, unmoving and taking up all the attention where the rest of the crowd appeared to have disappeared in his sight.

She had refined features. Her eyes expressive though she wasn't speaking to anyone, her lips unpainted with red but a pink that was subtle. Her blonde hairs cascading down her back. Her dress exposed her delicate shoulders that appeared smooth. There might have been plenty of girls who were beautiful but there was something on this girl's, a drop of innocence more than the others.

Before he could see her more, the girl tied her mask back in hurry to hide her face and it had one of his hand clutch the railing of the gallery. His eyes slightly narrowing for not being able to see more without the mask and one side of his lips pulled up in mirth.

Placing the glass of wine down, the man left the gallery to make his way towards the ballroom.


Madeline was in the midst of the crowd with her sister, Beth, until her older sister was asked by a gentleman to dance with him. Her sister danced with the other couples to the music that was played when she had felt her golden mask slipped down her face. She caught it in time before it would fall down on the ground where there would be no way to retrieve it with people moving back and forth and the gowns covering up the floor.

She tied it back, her eyes looking left and right to make sure no one had seen her mask slip, and she released a sigh.

Her parents must have been looking at the castle as she had not noticed them in the room. Her sister was enjoying her time dancing with the man, and her parents were surely having their own fun that had Madeline smile.

She spent a few more minutes before deciding to step out of the ballroom.

But when Madeline turned around, ready to walk forward, she saw a person not too far away walking in the opposite direction she was in. By clothes, she noticed it was a man but he wore a mask unlike anyone in the room. It was a mask that was silver colour, covering the person's entire face except for the eyes that were red in colour.

Madeline had started to walk forward, her eyes shifting away from the person to look at the other guests but her eyes went back to look at him, noticing him looking at her and it almost felt as if he were heading towards her.

Just when they were about to pass by his eyes appeared to be looking elsewhere and she realized she had mistaken him that he was looking at her. Madeline let her breath out which she didn't know she had been holding which was too soon as she took two steps away, she heard a man's deep voice say,

"Fair lady...I think you dropped your kerchief."
________
Amidst the crowd

Music recommendation: Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 14 "Moonlight Sonata": I. Adagio sostenuto

.

Hearing the deep voice behind her, Madeline turned around to meet the man's eyes that were looking at her. There was something very intimidating the way he looked at her, a darkness that lingered in those dark eyes.

He raised his hand with the handkerchief in his hand, and Madeline's brown eyes looked down at his hand to realize it was indeed her kerchief. She had been holding it all this while, which made her wonder how it slipped out of her hands.

Thankful that the man had noticed it, Madeline offered the man a smile, "Thank you," and when she said those simple words of gratitude, the man who was looking at her breathed in her words that sounded sweet on his ears.

He saw how she stepped closer to take the handkerchief which he had pulled out from her hand without her knowledge when they walked past each other. There was no ring on her finger. Half of her face was covered with the golden-rose mask, which was made of cloth. He had seen a glimpse of her face without the mask that came and went quicker than a breeze, but his eyes had captured it.

She didn't wear perfume like the others that were too strong and instead, she smelled like flowers. Flowers that were rare and grew in times of spring. He noticed the sliver of fear and doubt that appeared in her eyes when she took hold of the handkerchief, tugging it gently, which he didn't let go in the first two seconds. A smile formed on his lips that widened behind his mask, which the girl couldn't see.

Madeline didn't know if the person was smiling or not as his eyes appeared to be looking at her dauntingly. When he let go of the cloth, she finally took it back to her side, tucking it in her side pocket.

"Do you care for a dance?"

"What?" but the man took no effort to reiterate it as he knew she had heard it and her words had come only out of surprise.

Madeline wasn't sure about dancing not that she couldn't, but she had planned to step out of the room for some air. Wasn't he walking looking for someone else? Thought Madeline to herself.

"Your partner might want to dance with you first," she said and noticed the way his head tilted to his side.


The man raised his hand this time empty, waiting for her hand, "I don't have a partner to dance with, will you do the honour," the girl looked hesitant as if being apprehensive of him and he chuckled, "Is there someone waiting for you?" he asked her. He had been looking at her, studying her since she had caught his eyes and the girl had no partner. Some of the men looked her way, wanting to ask her to dance with them, but they were still reciting how to ask the girl.

Calhoun didn't care about the others, and he didn't need to recite on how to approach her. When he was in the gallery, he wanted to know if the girl was as intriguing as she appeared to him from the top. He had caught her attention, and now that he saw her up close, she was indeed a beautiful flower that was untouched.

This time Madeline could tell that the person behind the mask was smiling, his eyes turned slightly small, "No. I didn't come with a partner," she said to see him take a step closer to her and Madeline had to crane her neck up to look at the man, "I came with my parents and my sister," she looked in the direction her sister Beth was dancing with the man who had asked her to the dance floor.

"Good, it shouldn't be a problem then," she heard his deep voice echoing through her very body along with the music that they were surrounded in.

Considering the man had returned her handkerchief, it would be rude to reject, and it wasn't like Madeline had been asked by anyone to dance with her tonight. She didn't know if it was because of her blonde hair that was let down, unlike other girls and women who had twisted, turned, braided their hair in different hairstyles.

Seeing the man's hand, Madeline finally placed her hand in his hand that appeared to look small compared to his large hand. He clasped her hand, taking her to the dance floor where couples were dancing, and the music out of the blue changed to a much slower and gentle one that had Madeline's eyes turn in the direction of the musicians who had changed the tone of the music.

Having her turn around to face him, he placed one of his hand on her waist and another that continued to hold her hand. Madeline felt the way his hand that just didn't position on her waist by slid towards her back and pulled her close.


In an effort to drive away from the silence as they were strangers, Madeline spoke, "What music is this?" she asked, moving along with him and following his steps. Careful so that she wouldn't step on his shoes.

"It's called Improvision. Music which turns better with every century that passes by," he answered, looking at her.

Madeline smiled at his words, "It would be hard to judge about the beauty of music going along with time in terms of centuries. I can only tell how it sounds now."

"And how does it sound, milady?" he hummed the question.

"Subtly quiet," she answered.

"Interesting," he let go of her waist so that he could push her away from him to only pull her much closer than before, "Don't worry about stepping on my shoes. Move freely else you will appear to be stiff," he said that she looked up at him. Was it that obvious that she was worried about it.

"Thank you for your words," Madeline responded to him. Compared to what she had felt before, he appeared to be friendlier, but she didn't know he was only deceiving her by his words, "I don't know who I am dancing with," she said with a polite smile.

"Isn't it customary to ask one's name only after giving yours," asked the man, continuing to look at her without blinking.

The girl appeared to look away at the basic error she had done, her cheeks turning warm, and her eyes finally moved up to look back at him, "Madeline Harris."

"Madeline," her name rolled off his tongue, a whisper at the end and she waited to know the person who she was dancing with, but he never gave out his name,

"You didn't give me yours," she said, staring into his eyes to realize she wasn't dancing with a kind of her own. She had heard whispers and stories about people with red eyes, people who lived in and around the mansion.

The man happened to pull her at the same time, closer, to have her bend backwards for her neck to bare to his eyes. She saw the many chandeliers that were hanging up from the ceiling until the man with the silver mask came in view, bringing her back with his eyes gazing at her.

When he pulled her up, his breath falling on her neck.

She heard him say, "What is in a name, Madeline..."
_________

Illusion

Author-note: If you want to know more about the King's background of why he is the way he is, please read the first few chapters of volume-2 that starts from chapter 561

.

Madeline shivered by his words, and as he pulled away from her neck, their face was close with their masks on their face. Her eyes darted from one eye to another, staring back at him and she heard him say,

"I see you're not scared of the night creatures," Calhoun noticed how she pursed her lips at his question, wetting her lips very subtly.

Madeline knew not to fear when one met a night creature, and they were in a ball. She doubted he would do anything to her that she had to worry about, "Is there something I have to be scared about them?" she asked him, questioning the words he spoke, and the man behind the mask smirked.

"Many humans fear their existence. Stay far away from them while internally cursing and wishing death, isn't that so?" he asked her.

"I don't think I have come across anyone to fear," she replied, feeling his hold on her waist gentle yet firm.

He pushed her away again, playing with her with the music that was played in the corner of the room. When Madeline twirled around, her dress spun along with her, and she ended up back in his arms, her hand locked as her back faced the front of his body, "So brave. I can tell I am the first one you have met," he whispered the words next to her ear.

He let her go from his hold, dancing with her while the girl moved with him, "You must be working here in the castle. Have you seen the King?" she asked him.

She felt his hand move around her waist as she turned to be caught by him again, "The King?" asked the man, "I have, why do you ask?" he asked, his eyes carrying curiosity towards her.

Madeline shrugged her shoulders that had the man glance at her slender and delicate part of her body that looked soft and smooth. He wondered how it would feel to bite into that skin, and the thought had his hand grip on her tightly as he pulled her close once again.

"He invited his subjects to the Grand Ball of Hallow and isn't here. I find it…"

"Rude?" he chuckled.

"I was going for improper," Madeline said to look away from his daunting gaze as it never left her face.


She looked at the people who were dancing on the floor and also others. The men and women who were standing on the sidelines talking, appeared to be curious about who the couple was—some eyes on the mysterious man and some on the woman who was with him.

She noticed her sister Beth who was dancing with another man looking her way, curious about who Madeline was dancing with.

"The King must have his reasons for not showing up here. We all have our problems, don't we, Madeline?" Madeline came to realize how he wasn't addressing her with 'Miss' or 'Lady', but instead, he was using her name as if they were familiar with each other, "Are you interested in seeing the King? Is that why you are inquiring about his presence, I wouldn't judge if you wanted to."

Women often wanted to meet and flatter him in the hope to win his favour, but Calhoun Hawthrone was smarter than them. He complimented them back, spinning and twisting with their own words for his amusement.

"I don't," she replied to him.

"A mere interest then," he replied with a whisper for her to listen.

Madeline then said, "It would have been nice for him to spare a moment. Especially for those people who have travelled from a far distance.."

"People," said the man, "Do you believe they are here for only the reason of having to see a man who they fear? There are plenty of reasons, and most of them are getting filled. Attending a grand ball, food, people to meet and enjoy."

"It seems like you love the King to side with his actions," the words slipped out of Madeline's lips, and she bit her tongue at how the words had rolled out which she regretted now.

The man instead of looking at her with accusing look in his eyes for not kissing the ground where the King walked, he laughed, "Seems like you aren't fond of him," looking at her with intrigue.

Madeline smiled at the man, "I haven't met him to know if I am or not fond of him. I have nothing against him," she added, not wanting to get on the wrong side of the King if ever her words were to reach his ears.


"Worry not, your words are safe with me," he said and finally let go of his hand that was on her waist when the song ended. It was hard to trust with the full mask on his face, thought Madeline to herself but the man had created some sense of intrigue in her which she knew she should not have, "Thank you for the dance, Madeline," he said, and she bowed.

Taking a step back and then two, she saw the way his predator's eyes looked at her every move and action. She turned around to leave, walking a few steps before turning around to take a look to see the man who she had danced with had disappeared like an illusion.

Her brown eyes looked for a second more before she walked through the crowd of men and women. Madeline hugged herself and rubbed her arms as she had moved from the ballroom that was filled with people to a less crowded place where the cold wind of the night moved quickly.

She took a deep breath and exhaled the air through her pink lips.

Beth was busy with a man who wore rich clothes that had her wonder if her sister had caught the King's eyes by any chance. Not wanting to disturb her, Madeline decided to take a look at the castle while searching for her parents.

While she searching not too far away from the ballroom, Madeline heard someone call her.

"Lady Madeline!" and Madeline turned back to see who had called her.

She saw a man walking towards her who wore a mask on his face like her and her eyebrows slightly drew wondering who it was and her eyebrows raised in realization,

"Mr. Heathcliff?"
___________



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