✍️✍️✍️✍️The Crown's Obsession Chapter 281 - 290 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Consequences- Part 2

"Six," her grandmother was the one to answer, "Your parents were so scared that they didn't dare to have another child for ten years after the incident took place."

Ten years and six...She was in the coffin for sixteen years, and nobody came to see her? Unable to look at them, Madeline looked down at the table that was in the middle. 

"You could have searched for other ways," she whispered. 

"There was no other way, Madeline," said her grandfather, "When your parents visited Carnival's village again, the last thing we expected was you showing up at the doorstep. Do you know how much trouble that had caused us. And you woke up yourself, probably opening it yourself."

"You are blaming me for something I had no control of," Madeline raised her head to meet their gaze. 

Her grandfather shook his head.

"I don't think everything was peach after that," said Calhoun, gaining the old couple's attention.

"No, we had to make up reasons. The worst thing was, during the same time, one of the members of the High House had visited the village. Of course, we took precautions making sure she wouldn't kill," answered her grandfather. "But after two years it happened again. Breaking glasses, screaming or finding herself in odd places. We thought maybe staying in the coffin for sixteen years had taken away whatever darkness was in her, but we should have known better. Madeline killed another girl, and this time, it was in front of her sister Elizabeth."

Madeline sat on the couch uncomfortably with the way her grandparents looked at her right now and the things they had hidden for years. They looked at her like she was not supposed to exist. 

"Beth said she saw a vampire kill the girl. The girl who shared the same name. Jennine our friend," stated Madeline. 

"We didn't want Beth to follow your path, so we decided to tamper her memory. It took more than a week to get her to believe that it was a vampire," her grandmother looked like she was tired, with her lips set in a thin line and her eyebrows raised. 

They tried to meddle with Beth's mind? 

"But that is not all you did. Is it?" Came Calhoun's voice who was staring at the couple in front of them intensely. 

When her grandparents didn't respond, Madeline turned anxious. She wasn't sure if she was ready to hear it, "Did you put me back in the coffin?" Madeline questioned. 

"We did," replied her grandfather, "But we did something else along with it." 

Madeline asked, "What?" The silence in the room felt dreadful. 

"The fallen angels lost most of their powers, and it was just a few basic ones that they possess. But in Madeline's case, the second time she attacked that girl, she sprouted wings," explained her grandpa, "The wings that were white, were drenched in blood. An angel is not supposed to harm anyone." 

"Is that why you placed the knife on my neck the night you put me in the coffin for the first time?" inquired Madeline. 

Calhoun was more than interested in seeing the story being unfolded and the way Madeline was asking questions which he needed answers for. 

"We did it for our own protection. To keep your parents safe," replied her grandfather to stand up from his seat, walking towards one of the windows which was kept open for ventilation. "We couldn't keep you like that, with the wings which were soaked with blood. We knew you were going to cause more death, deaths of innocent people. So we sent you to this man named Walter Penhallick. He has been around for some time, dealing with the rare cases of the apples that turn bad."

"You need to stop saying that if you want you and your wife to continue to stay in one piece," warned Calhoun, not liking the way Madeline's grandfather was speaking about her like she was the bad one. She was a child, and children knew nothing. "Who knows, she got your genes, maybe the tree was rotten from the very start, and you need to stop blaming the apple." 

Senior Mr. Harris' eyes flared in anger, gritting his teeth. 

"What happened with Walter?" Madeline continued to ask her questions. 

"We left you with him to see what could be done. Asking for his help, and he came up with a solution to it. To get rid of your wings that had sprouted." When the old man said this, his back faced them, "He burned the wings."

Madeline didn't know what happened next because the information was too much to take in and she was still processing it when Calhoun disappeared from her side of the couch and appeared behind her grandfather. 

In less than a second, when Senior Mr. Harris turned, Calhoun's hand went straight at the older man's neck. 

"Calhoun!" Madeline exclaimed, quickly standing up and went to where they were, and so did her grandmother. 

"Let him go right now!" demanded her grandmother.

"You have quite some nerve to show up in front of Madeline and behave as if nothing has happened for all these years. Here I have been thinking all these years that the angels are a symbol of purity, but then I see you and see the disgusting fallen angels—correction descendants of fallen angels. As I said, the tree itself is soiled, and you blame it on the lone apple," Calhoun glared into the man's eyes.

"Do you know who I am?" questioned Calhoun, his eyes darkening as they glared at Madeline's grandfather.

The old man struggled to get away from the vampire's hold, "You might be a vampire and a demon, but that doesn't mean you can save her. This is how she will be saved, so we took her wings away from her before putting her back in the coffin. And then after a month, we get a letter from my son that Madeline has returned home. They shielded her from any and everything, from the possible ugliness of this world so that it would not trigger her inherent nature." 

"Calhoun, please," Madeline placed her hands on Calhoun's hand that continued to choke her grandfather. She wanted more answers from them to know what else she was supposed to be aware of. With the way things looked, Calhoun was going to kill her grandfather. 

"Do you know what it means to destroy one's wings, Madeline?" Calhoun asked her, wanting to enlighten her. "It tears a piece of your soul from you. It's the most painful thing, and to burn it..."

There weren't many who he came across who had wings, but there was one person--a demon-like vampire, of his kind. He didn't know how it felt, to have the wings burnt, but he had seen the vampire's wings being torn out like a bird, blood bleeding out from his back and the vampire's screams echoed in the back of Calhoun's mind. 

Her grandparents didn't care about her. It was right to say that, all they cared about was keeping their families safe, while willingly ready to give up the child who knew nothing about the world. Madeline was small at that time, someone who knew nothing of what she had done. 

"Let him go, or I will put her to sleep this very instant," Madeline heard her grandmother's voice before noticing she stood behind with her hand raised.

"Could you be kind enough to elaborate what you mean when you say sleep in this context?" asked Calhoun, using more force on her grandfather's neck. 

Out of nowhere, her grandmother pulled out a knife and tried to stab her. Madeline used her hand to stop her grandmother. Madeline was in shock because she had not expected her grandmother to try stabbing her. The expression that had always been kind changed to a vile one. Upon Madeline's hand's touch, her grandmother started to splatter blood from her mouth. 

"Kill her right now, Gemma!" shouted the old man, leaving burns on Calhoun's hand as he tried to get rid of the vampire's hands around his neck. 

This was enough cue for Calhoun to dig his fingernails into the sides of the older man's neck. Pushing his fingers to catch hold of the bone which was part of the spine. Pulling it out with the front portion of his neck that left the blood splattering out. Raising his free hand, he threw the woman right at the wall who fell on the ground.

When Madeline turned to see her grandfather, her mouth was left agape, and she staggered back with her hands coming up to cover her mouth. 

"I-Is he..." 

Calhoun's hand released the man, pushing him to the side, and Madeline saw her grandfather fall straight down on the ground with his eyes open. She then looked in her grandmother's direction, 

"She's alive," said Calhoun, wiping the spots of blood that fell on his face. 

H-how did this happen...Madeline felt her eyes well up, a small sob escaping from her lips. Her grandfather was dead. 

"I am sorry that the day didn't go as we expected. But you need to know, any harm that might come towards you, I will not bat my eyes at it. The first time, they put you in the coffin. The second time, they not only put you in the coffin but also burned the wings which you once possessed. It is either you or them, Madeline. And to me, it is always you," said Calhoun. 

He saw a drop of tear escape from one of her eyes that fell and rolled down her cheek.

The door to the room opened, and Theodore appeared, "Take both of them to the dungeon. Separate ones," ordered Calhoun. Like many times in the past, Theodore didn't question what happened and got the guards to fetch the elderly couple, one who was dead and one still alive. 

Madeline didn't question if Theodore had gone hunting or if he had returned early to the castle. Her mind had gone blank. Her back hit the wall, and she leaned against it, feeling cold. 

She wanted to argue with Calhoun, but she wasn't deaf. She heard her grandfather order her grandmother to kill her, and they were ready to do it without a hint of remorse in their hearts. 

"Do you want to spend some time alone by yourself?" Calhoun asked, seeing how Madeline was in a state of shock. She nodded her head. 

"I would like to be alone," she didn't wait for him and walked out of the room to make way to her room. Stepping inside the room, she closed it. Her forehead touched the surface of the door as more tears welled up in her eyes. 

Taking a sharp breath, a hiccup escaped her lips before more tears spilled down her lashes to fall on the ground before she started to cry. 
Consequences- Part 3

Music Recommendation: Your part of the Bargain by Joby Talbolt


She stood in front of the door for several minutes, crying and the tears never stopped. With her forehead leaning on the door, she finally pushed herself back. Standing straight, she turned to go to her bed. 

Madeline felt her mind had turned numb as she stared at nothing in particular. It was one thing to be lying to her, and it was another to try to kill her. Was she a bad person? Did she take the lives of the innocents? But that wasn't all. Her grandfather was dead and would not be returning back. What was she going to say to her family? 

Amid all the things that were going on, when she and Calhoun had gone to visit her grandparents, the last thing she had expected for them was to look at her in disgust, wanting to get rid of her. Climbing up on the bed, she laid down, recollecting the words exchanged between her grandparents, her and Calhoun. 

She had spent sixteen years in the coffin, and her parents never came to visit her? Or did they visit her grave only with the thought that she was dead? The drops of tears continued to slide down one after another, falling on the surface of the bed which absorbed the water and made it wet. 

Madeline didn't know how much time had passed, her eyes slowly lulled to sleep. 

The next time she woke up, Madeline found herself to be standing in the graveyard. She didn't want to be here. The last time Madeline had dreamt, she had gone through the pain of finding the hard truth about what her family had done. She tried to wake herself up, but she couldn't. Instead, she came to stand in front of a coffin with its lid open, and she saw the person who laid in there was her grandfather. 

With Calhoun who had torn the front portion of her grandfather's neck, she could see the bones peeking out, and it made her eyebrows furrow. 

Her grandfather suddenly opened his eyes to look at her, making her gasp. "You will die soon, Madeline," he said to her. She took two steps away from the coffin, but that didn't stop him from getting up and looking at her, "It is because of you that I am dead. You have seen many deaths. Soon you will kill others and will also want to die."

Madeline told herself this was a dream, and it was just her imagination. Dead people didn't come back. But until now she wasn't aware of the angels and demons existence. 

"You cannot accuse me," she whispered to her grandfather, "I didn't do anything."

Her grandfather's neck fell weakly on the right side of his shoulder. "I saw what you did, Madeline. You might want to forget, but this is what happened. You went to the house and killed the family members. Cruel and heartless. Wait until the time comes where you will bring nothing but bad luck. Crops will wither, the sky will turn dark."

He had always been strict with Beth and her since they were children. Asking them not to go anywhere alone when she and Beth visited their house. The truth was finally out that they were being sent to their grandparents house only to make sure that she and Beth didn't have a killer tendency. 

"Why me?" asked Madeline, "Beth is a human while I am an angel. Why are we different." 

"Because you were the rotten apple," whispered her grandfather. It broke her heart, thinking that the people she thought cared for her all this while had only despised her existence because they couldn't kill her.

Suddenly the scene in front of her changed like a drop of ink that diffused itself in the water. She woke from her dream. Her head felt slightly heavy, and she pushed herself from the bed to notice the room had turned dark. Night had approached. Quickly pushing her hair behind to make it look less messy, she headed out of the room. 

Her grandparents had arrived at the castle during the time of morning. Had she been sleeping since then and nobody had come to wake her up?

"What hour of the time is it?" Madeline asked the maid who was walking by. 

"It is six in the evening, milady," the maid bowed her head while answering Madeline. She hadn't expected to sleep for such a long time. 

"Do you know where the King is?" inquired Madeline, but before the maid could answer her, her mother appeared in the same corridor. 

"There you are, Madeline!" her mother walked towards her and Madeline's body froze. It felt different being around with any of her family members now, for the things they did. She didn't know if she had the right to be angry at them or not. In the end, she did grow up around them. "The King said you weren't feeling well and we should let you rest in room. How are you feeling now?" 

Madeline couldn't help but try to interpret what the question actually meant. 

Her brown eyes stared at her mother's black eyes before giving a nod, "I'm a little tired." By the way, her mother was looking at her she could tell her very own mother was trying to decipher her answer. Wanting to test, Madeline said, 

"I was holding a glass earlier in my hand, and it shattered, mama. I must have held it too tightly." She noticed how her mother's eyes turned wide. 

"B-break the glass?" her mother stuttered, and gulping the obvious ball of nervousness. "It must be because of the pressure of your hand. Go take some rest if you want. I will let others know. It's a good thing that your grandparents are attending the wedding. I mean if you fall sick, your grandfather will take care of you."

So that I could be put in the coffin, thought Madeline to herself. But her grandfather wasn't alive anymore, and her grandmother was in the dungeon right now. Her parents had always treated her kindly. But so did her grandparents until they showed their true colours. It was turning hard for Madeline when it came to placing her trust in people. 

Madeline put on a smile on her face, "Yes, you are right. Did you see where the King is?" 

"I have no clue dear. The King is never in one place. Did you have something to speak to him about?" asked her mother.

"It's just about the dress that was supposed to be stitched."

"Oh, yes! Did they hear anything about Mr. Heathcliff? Poor man," her mother shook her head.

Madeline pursed her lips and then said, "I heard Senior Mr. Heathcliff passed away." 

"Oh no!" exclaimed her mother. 

"Calhoun is looking into the matter right now. I will ask him about it and let you know," she said. After pausing for a second, Madeline asked, "Mama, can I ask you something?" 

Her mother looked startled, "Anything dear. What is it?" 

Madeline wasn't sure how to phrase it as she said, "If I were to ask you something, would you tell me the truth?" Her brown eyes stared at her mother, noticing how her mother was quick to oblige by nodding her head. 

"You know I would never lie to you. Is there something you wanted to ask?" Her mother took her to the side of the pillar so that they weren't standing in the middle of the corridor even though there was no one to disturb them. 

"Do you love Beth and me equally?" questioned Madeline. 

She had never asked something like this before because it was an absurd question, but she wanted to know the truth now. Beth was a human unlike her. Her grandparents had claimed that she was a killler who was bound to cause destruction. 

Her mother, for a moment, looked blank before laughing, "What kind of silly question is that? Of course, I love you both equally. A mother never has favourites, it is tough to pick favourites. You both have different nature, but I love you both." Her mother then stepped closer to Madeline, placing her hand on her cheek. 

Madeline remembered her mother sitting on the chair and crying out of shock. Her mother had cried for her, at least that was what she hoped it to be. She didn't want to be negative, but with her grandmother, who jumped to kill her with a knife, it was hard to not watch over her back. 

Despite all those thoughts that were hovering like dark clouds in her mind, Madeline placed her hand on her mother's hand that was on her cheek. "Thank you, mama," she whispered. She wanted to believe so that she could keep her sanity, to not to think about how others wanted her dead and back in the coffin. 

"Come here, my child," her mother opened her arms, and Madeline hugged her mother. Letting her chin rest on her mother's shoulder while putting her hands around her. 

"You ask some strange questions, Maddie. Is it because of the wedding?" she heard her mother ask. 

"It must be," Madeline said with a lack of emotion in her voice. 

"Don't worry. Everything will settle down in time. It is normal to feel stressed in this period of time." 

While Madeline continued to hug her mother, who was still speaking to her, she saw Calhoun step into the corridor. The one person she could look at without doubting. He made his way slowly towards where they stood, and Madeline couldn't believe how things had turned. There was a time when she didn't want to see Calhoun, to stay away from him but after accepting him by her side, it made the current situation bearable. 

He watched her unblinkingly. Keeping his eyes always on her. 

Hearing the clicking sound of the shoes against the floor, her mother pulled away, turning to see the King make his way,

"Milord," her mother was the first one to greet him, and Madeline followed next, bowing her head while not breaking her gaze away from him. 

"Hope I am not interrupting the mother-daughter time," Calhoun put a charming smile on his face, and Madeline wondered how he did it. To have a nonchalant expression on one's face for people to see, regardless of how he felt within. 

"We were just talking about the wedding. I was asking about the wedding dress," said her mother with a small smile that quite didn't reach up to her eyes. 

"I have told one of my men to check with the assistants regarding the wedding gown. They should bring it by day after tomorrow," responded Calhoun, and her mother quickly nodded. 

"That's good to hear," her mother stood there for a few more seconds in silence. Calhoun had decided to look at her mother who looked unnerved by his gaze. "Well, I will leave you both and see what Madeline's father is up to." 

Calhoun continued to smile, watching the woman leave and the smile fell a little from his face. "Did you sleep enough?" he asked Madeline. 

"I fell asleep," she replied, to feel Calhoun's finger run under her eyes.

"But you didn't have good dreams," he noted.

Madeline asked, "When did everyone return to the castle?" 

"Two hours after you left the room. Nobody knows your grandparents were here and let's keep it that way. Your parents might be harmless because of the lack of ability they hold, but I wouldn't be too sure when it comes to the people they are acquainted with. Not to forget, I asked your sister to send an invitation to your aunt," Calhoun let her know so that she was informed about what was going on. 

"Do you think my aunt is involved in it?" asked Madeline worried. 

"It is better to be cautious, isn't it? Because you mentioned spending your time with your aunt, and I believe both you girls were sent only after you reached an age of understanding," said Calhoun. "It would have caused too much suspicion if both of you spent your time only with your grandparents." 
Consequences- Part 4

Madeline finally understood why Beth and she spent less time with her maternal grandparents. And it wasn't because they didn't invite her and her sister to their place. But it was because her paternal grandparents had always monitored where she and Beth went. To be more specific, where she went so that she wouldn't cause more death. 

"How could they tamper Beth's memory," Madeline whispered, her eyebrows furrowing, "What if they did the same with me?" 

"Not possible," remarked Calhoun, "If I am not wrong, it is hard to play with an angel's memory. You are a heavenly being," he chuckled. 

"Earlier you said you were a demon," Madeline had called Calhoun a devil several times in the past in her mind, but she had never thought that he would really turn out to be one.

Calhoun's eyes moved behind her, watching the empty corners, "What can I say, it is my grandfather's gift to me. Something that I discovered before my mother's death. Angel's receives their wings sooner than a demon does."

"Why do you think the bruises are showing up on my back if my wings have been burnt?" It was when she asked the question did she realize how much she missed the opportunity to have something that she didn't remember seeing. 

"Isn't that obvious, silly," Calhoun moved his hand around her back and led her away from there. "Not everyone has the ability to regrow them back. Maybe for a normal angel and for a demon, it wouldn't work, but according to your grandparents," he paused for a second, "You are a dark angel and that itself gives an opportunity for a change in the body structure."

He then continued, "Your grandparents wouldn't have planned to come here and try to kill you again, if they thought you weren't going to turn back to who you are. The bruises are an indication of what you once had, where it is trying to regrow. Though I don't think they are big like the demon's have, the size of wings varies when it comes to each demon. The bigger the wings, the powerful the demon."

Madeline remembered it was from Calhoun's maternal grandfather, who was a vampire resting in the coffin from where Calhoun received his wings. Considering how the Wilmot's and the Hawthrone's family consisted of normal vampires, the genes that Calhoun possessed came from his grandfather. He was a demon. 

"How do you exactly differentiate between vampires and demons?" asked Madeline.

"Just like how you differentiate between humans and angels: wings and no wings. Abilities and no abilities," came Calhoun's answer. "Let me show you something," and he led her through the corridors. 

Madeline wondered where the others were. She looked around the castle and found only maids and the other servant's. After entering the gallery, Madeline wondered what they were doing here. She stood there looking at Calhoun, who walked towards one of the cupboards and pulled out a stack of parchments that was binded to form a book. 

"What is this?" 

Calhoun placed it on the table. The parchments looked old. The sides of it had curled.

"This is something I retrieved from my mother's belongings. People have the habit of snooping around a lot, wanting to know what the King does. Therefore, I placed it here in plain sight."

Opening the book, he said, "My mother was an artist. At least that is what she did back in the village. Though most demons turn to vampires, not all vampires are demons. Like angels, the term of demons has been lost, and they have turned to nothing less to mythical creatures," explained Calhoun, "Things that are rare always hold a certain intrigue. My mother drew some things in here."

Madeline looked at the drawings of demons who had horns, and some who had wings. "As you see in here, there are different sizes of wings. The one I mentioned earlier, of someone whose wings were torn, he had smaller ones."

"What do I do from here?" asked Madeline, wanting guidance from him. 

"I have asked Raphael to visit the castle. If he's still in town, he will drop by for another reading or tea," replied Calhoun.

"One day my parents and the others will come to know on what happened with my grandparents. On how grandpa died," Madeline said, in a tone of worry.

"Then they should also know that you were only protecting yourself. Your grandmother has been placed one cell away from mine. I thought it would be good to keep distance between both of them," informed Calhoun, "She will die. You know that right?" he reminded her. 

Calhoun might have been soft when it came to Madeline, but it was only because he wanted to win her over, win her heart and take it for himself. At the same time, it didn't mean he would treat the others in the same way. Anyone who would think about harming him and her, he would lay down the trap for them. One was already laid and set in motion. The question was, which one was going to take the first dive. 

Madeline didn't respond to his words. Her grandfather had only ordered, and he was dead. But her grandmother was the one who had tried to kill her. She wondered how bad her luck was, or maybe it was good. When she and Calhoun had gone to visit her grandparents, it was before they left the house did she break the glass in front of them. 

Would her grandparents have tried to kill her off if she had stayed there longer? 

"They didn't do anything to me thinking I got better," Madeline murmured under her breath. 

"Nothing is wrong with you to get better. You are who you are," stated Calhoun. "They must have thought that you turned dormant as it must be a decade since they last saw any sign." 

"Do you think Raphael knows the difference between the dark and normal angel?" she asked him.

"We don't have to wait for him for that. Your grandmother is still there, cursing us," one side of Calhoun's lips pulled up, "I would have never guessed your grandparents would turn out that way." 

She didn't know it either, thought Madeline to herself. It was like her life had turned upside down. 

Madeline doubted her grandmother would speak to them willingly. Calhoun had killed her grandfather, and…

There were too many things going on around her. Madeline pulled the book closer and turned the parchments herself, to see the illustrations of creatures. 

"It is a wonder how nobody caught her with it," commented Calhoun, "Things like these, doing something different in this world, is always frowned upon. But I think people were too focussed on her being the King's mistress and my father was too full of himself to notice it." 

Madeline returned the book back to Calhoun. 

"Who are the High House exactly?" questioned Madeline. She had never heard about them, and they were as good as non-existent until this point, "Grandfather was worried that the angel's existence would be put under threat if they found out." 

"I believe he meant along the lines that they might feel all angels turn to dark angels. The destructive one's" corrected Calhoun. "The High House was formed by the approval's of the Kings, wanting their responsibilities to be lessened and create a better decorum in these lands where we live in. But as time passed, the High House started to exert more power, moving higher in position than the Kings." 

"How often do they visit the castle or the Kingdoms?" Madeline asked curiously, her eyebrows drawn together. 

"Once in every six months. They will be visiting early this time, before our wedding," replied Calhoun while he went to place the parchments back in the cupboard.

"To attend the wedding?"

"No, to meet me. My dear cousin has sent out a message for them to come and see what I am doing with the hostage situation. Not to forget his snooping in the dungeon." 

Madeline turned more worried by this, "What do we do?"

Calhoun couldn't help but smile that Madeline used the term 'we' right now. "There's nothing to worry. I have got it under control." 

Only time would tell, "What if I end up killing someone?" Madeline didn't know how it happened, but when her grandmother had come to kill her, her mere touch had led her grandmother to spew blood from her mouth. 

She saw Calhoun offer her a smile, "If you kill someone, I will help you to hide the body." He then walked to where she was, coming to stand in front of her, "I am here now."

"Thank you, Calhoun," she thanked him. 

The smile on his lips broadened, "Anytime." 
The Antidote- Part 1

Madeline and Calhoun left the gallery, making their way towards the dining room as it was the time of supper. Her mood still hadn't gotten better, but Madeline had stopped worrying about what took place post morning. Coming to terms that her grandfather was dead was something she would need to sleep on for the second time, and this time she hoped she wouldn't dream about him in the coffin. 

Even though her grandparents had tried to kill her in the past and this morning, there was a part of her that was sad. Unlike what her grandparents presumed her to be, Madeline could feel pain. The uncertainty about who she was going to turn to be didn't disappear, and it weighed on her mind. 

"You should stop thinking about it." 

Madeline turned to look at Calhoun who was walking beside her, not a step forward nor behind, just at the right pace to keep up with her. "He was my grandfather," she whispered.

"Someone who ordered his wife to kill you right away," stated Calhoun, whose eyes met Madeline's as they walked down the corridor. "The more you worry, the more it's going to wear you down. It will make people question your actions, and the decisions that you want to make will be hindered."

Calhoun knew in what state of mind Madeline was in right now. He didn't know if she killed someone out of vengeance or self-defence, but it didn't matter to him. In his eyes, she was that girl who was delicate whom he had first met at the time of Hallow. It was strange how he was attracted to her who was not a human but an angel, someone who her very own family was scared of. 

Madeline was about to question if Calhoun had killed someone who he was close with, before she remembered he had killed his mother. As they continued to walk next to each other, she heard a howl coming from the other side of the castle grounds. 

Pursing her lips, she asked, 

"Is he forever going to stay like that?" 

"Pitying the tailorman," hummed Calhoun and Madeline bit her lip. "It's only during the time when the light of the moon falls on the ground," saying this, he halted his footsteps for a second before moving to the side of the corridor, looking up at the sky where the moon was, followed by Madeline. 

"It's going to be difficult. Is there no cure for it?" The sight of werewolf had scared Madeline, and she had stepped out of the room before James could claw her. "How strange," she murmured. 

"Hm?" Calhoun gave her a questioning look. 

Madeline wondered if she should say it out loud as it was something unimportant, but now that the words had already left her mouth and with the way, Calhoun looked at her curiously, she cleared her throat,

"You cannot be the big bad wolf anymore." 

Calhoun stared at her for two seconds, "That one is a useless wolf in the dungeon. Regardless of me being a vampire, I will still be that. Unless…"

"Unless?" Madeline prompted. 

"Figure that one out yourself," Calhoun stepped back to walk, and Madeline quickly followed him. 

When Calhoun and Madeline entered the dining room, their family were settling at the table, taking their seats, and Madeline and Calhoun joined them. 

"You missed a wonderful hunt today, Lady Madeline," Markus was the one to speak to her, "Isn't that right, Elizabeth?"

Her sister Beth would not have bothered to answer her if it weren't for Markus striking a conversation and pulling her into it. 

"Yes, it was one of the hunts I enjoyed the most. The first one being our first hunt together," Beth smiled before going to place the napkin on her lap. 

"It is a pity that the future Queen doesn't share the same interest as brother Calhoun," commented Sophie, who had decided to sit in Lucy's seat as Lucy had arrived late at the table with her husband, Samuel. 

"I don't think there's any compulsion for a Queen to enjoy hunting," Madeline replied to the vampiress who sat right opposite to her at the table.

Sophie smiled, "Of course, not. There are other things that the Queen can do. Pardon me, but knowing where you come from and hearing Lady Elizabeth's hobbies, I don't think it would suit you and maybe you should try to fit in."

"I think I am fine the way I am," Madeline remarked in a polite tone, "I think after the arrow that was shot at me, it would be best to be careful." 

"A Queen should know how to protect herself than hide-" Sophie's were interrupted by Calhoun,

"Are you in a different mood today, Sophie," he asked to have Sophie's attention move to Calhoun.

Sophie gave him an innocent smile, "Mood? Lady Madeline is going to be my sister-in-law. Wouldn't it be nice to share common interests?" Calhoun's eyes narrowed at his cousin's words. 

"That is very sweet of you, Lady Sophie," said Madeline, "To think of spending time together with each other and strengthening our bonds. I enjoy gardening. Pulling out the plants and planting them in a better place. I am sure you will like it," she suggested. 

"I think it's settled then," Calhoun who was holding the glass, toasted it towards his cousin.

"That's not even a hobby," Sophie scoffed. 

Beth didn't want to lose this opportunity, and agreed, "Yes, Lady Sophie should try it. It is something Madeline and I used to do."

Sophie sent a silent glare at Beth for trying to dig her grave deeper. The last thing she wanted was to get her hands dirty with mud and worms. Just thinking about it made her skin crawl. "If you are good at what you do, I think you should take extra lessons when it comes to horse riding. We don't want you falling in the mud." 

Madeline sensed the heated gaze both Sophie and Beth shared with each other. Somewhere she was glad knowing that Sophie was not happy with the idea of Beth being her sister-in-law, but then Sophie was not happy about her being Calhoun's wife either. Madeline didn't like Markus, not after yesterday at least. There was something very uncomfortable when he looked at her like he was trying to instigate something. 

She still felt sorry for Beth's memories that were meddled with, not knowing what else her grandparents had done to change her sister.

"Why are you sitting there today, Sophie?" asked Markus, slightly annoyed by the fact that his sister was back to pushing Elizabeth's nerves. 

"I wasn't sure if Lucy was joining us for supper. She has been feeling unwell lately," Sophie replied. She turned to her cousin sister and asked, "Are you feeling better?" 

Madeline's eyes fell on Lucy, who offered Sophie a kind smile. Her eyes then fell on the cheating husband who was behaving like he did nothing wrong. She didn't understand how Lucy was able to sit next to him, sharing the same room. Asking about the matter would be intrusive, and she hoped Lucy was alright. 

"My King," Lady Rosamund interjected the childish retorts that were going around at the table. "I was wondering if you will be inviting the neighbouring King's for the wedding. Also, some of our relatives who would love to wish well to both you and Lady Madeline." The maids had started to bring in the food and place it on the table. 

"Did they write to you about it?" questioned Calhoun in a casual tone. 

"Oh, no! It has been quite some time since I last spoke to them," chuckled Lady Rosamund.

Calhoun then said, "That is a pity," his gaze went to meet Theodore's who sat on the far end of the table, on the right, "Are there any more spare invitations left?" 

"No, milord. The ones we sent two days ago were the last one's," Theodore answered promptly. 

"With the card maker who has closed his shop to go to his village, I guess they can visit some other time or when word reaches them." It was evident in Calhoun's tone that he was hardly bothered when it came to inviting his relatives, and maybe if the Wilmot's didn't live this near, he would not have bothered to invite them either. 

Madeline wondered which other relatives she would be meeting during the time of the wedding who were related to Calhoun. Though he said his maternal grandfather lived somewhere in the mountains, she questioned if he had ever attempted to meet him. She wondered what kind of person his grandfather was. 

Since how many years was Calhoun's grandfather hibernating? And whether he had come looking for his daughter? Or maybe his grandson?

During the time of night it wasn't easy to sleep. Madeline tossed and turned in her bed thinking over what happened. She had lost a family member, and she couldn't share the grief over what took place with her family. Raising her hand in front of her, Madeline stared at her palm. She had hurt her grandmother, and it worried her. 

Pulling her blanket closer, she wondered what awaited ahead of her in the future which she was still not aware about. Silently she prayed for the family she had possibly hurt in the past, hoping they would forgive her for her actions. 

The next morning, Calhoun took Madeline to the dungeon, where her grandmother and James were staying right now. It was hard to get rid of the memory when her grandmother's expression changed when the old woman was about to stab her.

"The dungeons are safe, and so are the cell rooms," Calhoun let Madeline know after noticing the distressed look on her face. "After the old Queen, and my father and step-mother died, I got a lot of things altered in the dungeon. Anticipating the possible guests I would have. Though I doubt your grandmother possesses any abilities, it would safer to keep her in here for the next few hours."

Few hours, thought Madeline to herself. 

Making their way through the passage, Calhoun took out the key from his pocket. When they came to stand in front of a locked room. Madeline asked, 

"What about him?"

As they were standing at the front of the door, Madeline's words were short. Calhoun didn't need her to elaborate that it was her grandfather whom she was speaking about, and he responded,

"I got him moved to the forest. Do you want to visit?" 

"Maybe later."

Calhoun opened the lock, pushing the wooden door and stepped inside with her. Madeline saw her grandmother sitting on the ground and staring at the wall. Her lips parted to speak, but she was unable to bring herself to speak. 

"How are you doing, Gemma?" asked Calhoun, dropping the honorifics with Madeline's grandmother. 

When Madeline's grandmother turned her head, the old woman glared at Calhoun and Madeline, having a scornful look on her face. 

"You killed my husband, and are asking me how I am doing?" 

Calhoun gave a slow nod, "You didn't expect me to let you kill Madeline, did you?" 

"What if I said, not only will she cause our death but she will also kill you?" questioned Madeline's grandmother, sending a glare at Madeline as if she couldn't stand her presence. 

Calhoun said, "Have you met your granddaughter or is it the first time you are meeting her now?" he asked the older woman in a sarcastic tone. 

Madeline saw her grandmother laugh, "You don't know what dark angels are capable of, are you? What we were doing was protecting our kind and our family. Her existence is worse than a demon. Someone of our own kin turning rotten to the very core who will come to kill anything and everything in front of her." 

"She," continued her grandmother, looking at her and it took everything in Madeline to not let the hurt to be seen on her face. "Dark angels are not like us. We were only protecting, but she is nothing but bad luck. A doom."

"I think the term you are using here is a demon?" Calhoun raised his brows to see the older woman shake her head. 

"What is the difference between the two? Apart from being light and dark?" Madeline finally asked, "You could have helped me instead of trying to kill me." 

"Dark Angels are beyond any help. It is like asking someone to turn an adult into a baby, which is possible only by dying and then reborning again. How dare you stand in front of me after what you did to your very own grandfather?" her grandmother didn't stop glaring at her. 

Madeline wasn't the one who had killed him, and it was Calhoun. But he had done it for her sake. Taking a deep breath, she commented,

"You paused the process of me killing people by stopping my time. You could have done it again." 

"You are not a child anymore. It is difficult to control a grown dark angel compared to when they are small," her grandmother responded. And she then turned to look at Calhoun, "Kill her now, and save yourself and the people you care about. Else you will burn down with her." 

"Sadly I have nothing to protect but her. I think I am fine," Calhoun answered, smiling as his fangs appeared. 

"What if I do not cause any destruction? What if your notion is wrong?" asked Madeline. 

Her grandmother stared at Madeline before saying, "I won't be there at that time. But you will, Madeline. Maybe he is right," agreed her grandmother. "Maybe it is the root. Because you're the descendant of that first fallen angel. No one in our family ever turned to the dark side, which is why we thought we had a clean family. You see...angels have wings, fallen angels don't have wings. Some of the fallen angels never wanted to turn the way they were, but they were tricked. A dark angel, he or she receives the wings from the first fallen angel." 

Was her grandmother saying that her great... and God only knew how many generations, that the first fallen angel was related to her? 

"Where is that first fallen angel?" inquired Madeline. 

"Nobody knows. The last I heard, he associated himself with the dark beings." Her grandmother gave a look at Calhoun. "Some say he's living amongst the humans. The unwilling angels who were kicked out of heavens were granted with one redemption. To kill every dark angel." 

Calhoun's eyes narrowed, "Let me guess. An entry back to heaven if you showed your loyalty." 

"You are not sure if the dark angels will actually cause destruction," whispered Madeline. "Just because they show the traits of the first fallen angels you believe that the dark angels are bound to harm people." 

"Every dark angel is bound to cause harm. It is an inevitable truth, Madeline," replied her grandmother, "And there's no redemption for your kind." 

"I will make one for myself then," said Madeline.

After a moment of silence in the room, Madeline and the rest heard a man groaning in pain. The groans echoing louder in the rooms which were near to them, "Well, this was lovely," commented Calhoun. "We have another guest to greet. By any chance would you know any antidote for a werewolf?"

The older woman only glared at the vampire's audacity and Calhoun chuckled, "We'll see you later."

"I thought you were going to kill me," Madeline's grandmother instigated.

"Hm, I thought to keep you around for a little while longer." Calhoun wanted to kill the woman but at the same time, he felt she was hiding something.

"In the meantime, please enjoy my grandmother's company. She is a little shy, so she might not talk."
The Antidote- Part 2

Music Reccomendation: Amour perdu by Francine Leblanc


Madeline gingerly stepped out of the cell room, and Calhoun locked. The door was not completely closed, and it had a little space of gap that allowed a person to peek into the room. And right now she could see her grandmother who was glaring at her as if cursing in her mind and Madeline stepped away from the door. 

"She will hate me forever," whispered Madeline as the walls of the dungeons had the ability to echo, making the voice loud enough for the prisoners to listen. 

Calhoun, who was walking next to her as they made their way towards James' room, said, "Is it worth worrying about a person who is trying to kill you and baselessly assumes that you are the apple to turn to a damned?" 

Madeline couldn't help herself but slightly be hurt that her grandmother despised her. And maybe in her grandmother's place, she was right, but looking in Calhoun's perspective, her grandparents were wrong. 

"She is my grandmother, and he was my grandfather. It is hard to feel indifferent towards them suddenly," that was not who she was, thought Madeline to herself.

"You better turn to one then, sweet," came the quick reply from Calhoun, "This world is filled with different kinds of manipulation and lies. You will find it to be surprising that it usually comes from the ones whom you believe to be close or are." His eyes met her brown one's, gazing into the depth of her soul and Madeline couldn't help but ask,

"Will you do that too? To me?" the tone in her voice was innocent, and Calhoun couldn't help but feel how endearing it sounded to his ears. 

The way Madeline questioned it was nothing less to a small girl who was trying to cling on to the closest person she knew, looking for shelter to hide and to be protected in. To believe that, that one person would have her back. 

"I have been doing that for a while, have you not noticed it?" Calhoun's words were profound as he continued to look at her. 

Madeline somewhere knew this was going to be his answer. If he had instead told her that he wasn't going to do it, that would have been a lie. But instead, he didn't lie about his actions. 

"I won't betray you like the ones who have been calling you as their own, Madeline."

"I know that," Madeline replied to his words. Right now, the only person she could lean on was Calhoun. Despite his harsh behaviour towards her in the beginning of them spending time together, his actions had turned much gentler, or at least it had in her eyes. 

After staring for a few more seconds, Calhoun headed towards the door behind which the tailorman was shackled. The lock opened with one click, and he pushed the door open. 

Madeline had met James last night, but she had bolted from here when he had turned to a werewolf. Walking into the room, she found James hurled on the ground, who appeared to be in pain. He groaned again, and Madeline questioned what was happening to him. Calhoun had told her that it was only the moonlight that was going to affect him, if that was so why was James still in pain then?

James' shirt' condition had turned worse than she had seen it in last night. It looked fragile on his body as if waiting to fall. Even his slacks had turned tattered at the ends, coming to fall short and below his knees. 

Though things didn't go as expected for James or Madeline, she still shared a soft spot towards the man who was restrained in chains. James had not done anything to her, and the only thing he had done was to have feelings for her. 

"What are you doing here?" James growled, looking at Calhoun who stood in front of him in a better condition. 

"Madeline wanted to meet you. I thought it would be best if she met in my presence so that you don't use your claws to hurt her," replied Calhoun, his red eyes burning bright. "If you aren't aware, it is better not to stay around a werewolf. Werewolves claws and teeth are quite infectious. The last thing I need is my love turning to a werewolf."

Hearing Calhoun address Madeline as his love, James' anger doubled. The tailorman not only glared but also bared his human-like teeth.

"How dare you stand next to her?! She doesn't know who you are," growled James. 

"She knows every bit of me by now, Mr. Heathcliff. You should be careful with what you speak to the King," tsked Calhoun, "Not only are you speaking ill about the King, but you are a creature now whom many of us don't accept." 

"And who do you think is to be blamed for my misery?!" questioned James. 

Madeline noticed how James, who once used to be a calm and patient man, had now turned to be a person who lost his temper quickly. Was it because of the werewolf venom or blood which was running in his body right now? She doubted things would be the same as it was before. She and James were both two different people now. Correctly saying, two different creatures, thought Madeline to herself. 

"Again with the blaming game," Calhoun shook his head in disapproval.

"Weren't you the one who sent Mr. Barnes to get me married to Lady Catherine?!" questioned James, his eyes flaring up and then he turned to look at Madeline, "Ask him about it. He was the one who sent the man and to threaten me."

Madeline this time frowned and looked at Calhoun. But before she could ask or tell something, Calhoun said, 

"I did talk to him about your wedding to Catherine, but I never forced him. I don't know what he did, but it was not on my command. You should be grateful that you are not being executed right this moment for blaming me for your father's death and your current condition. Where was the explanation, when young Catherine spoke about her feelings with you in front of everyone? Weren't you the one who didn't deny or refuse her words?"

"I couldn't refuse her on her face, not knowing how she would feel if I did in front of everyone. That doesn't mean I love her. I love Madeline," James confessed. 

Madeline felt her hands turn cold. To think and to hear, were two different things. Since one month and maybe a few days more to it from the time of Hallow, the three of them had been running around in circles. She, Calhoun and James. And then entered Lady Catherine. 

When James confessed those words to her, Madeline could sense Calhoun's eyes on her, gauging her expression, and she slowly turned to look at him. The playfulness in them had disappeared, and he was waiting for her to react. 

"I have always loved you, Madeline," James continued as if wanting to be killed by the King. The man didn't think. Without using his brains, he followed his heart, "It might have looked like I was in love with Lady Catherine, but I never had an intention to marry her. The only reason I came to the ball that night was to meet you. To see you."

He had turned to a hideous creature. He might as well express his feelings for her now, thought James to himself.

Madeline felt an invisible force weighing on her shoulders. She then parted her lips, giving it a second before saying,

"Thank you for your feelings, Mr. Heathcliff, but I cannot return your feelings."

James stared at Madeline, his face slightly cracking, and so did his heart. Madeline somewhere felt guilty about it, and she didn't know how long she would carry the pain for breaking someone's heart. But this was the wisest thing to do. 

When she had heard about his marriage to Lady Catherine, she had started to move on and let go of her feelings for him. A part of her would continue to care for him, having the soft corner, but that didn't mean she loved him. Madeline had moved on, starting to open up to Calhoun and accepting him.

It was a long process, but she was here now. 

"I think it is too late right now and both of us are way different than what we are and what we want, Mr. Heathcliff. I am very thankful for your words but…" Madeline bowed her head at James, who only stared at her. 

While James was heartbroken by Madeline's words and Madeline was trying to be strong, on the other side, Madeline's words were nothing less than music to Calhoun's ears. 

Somewhere in the back of James mind, he knew this was going to happen. Though he didn't understand what Madeline actually meant, because she had not mentioned just him, but she had also included herself to be different, he could only glare at the King who stood in the room. 

"It is not Calhoun's fault," Madeline defended Calhoun, when James' eyes fell on the vampire before his eyes shifted back to hers. "I have my own reasons right now."

James doubted how far it was true, because the way the King was smiling standing two steps behind Madeline, James couldn't help but want to hurt and harm the vampire. 

"May I know what the reasons are?" asked James, his voice coming out to be agitated because of the wolf's blood coursing through his veins.

"I cannot answer them right now as I am looking for them myself, and Calhoun is helping me with it," answered Madeline.

The Antidote- Part 3

Silence filled the closed room of the cell. Madeline stared at James' face that looked like he had used his own hands to claw his face, but instead of the bruises looking harsh, they looked mild. 

Without waiting for a response from James' Madeline turned around to ask Calhoun, "Is there any cure for a person who has turned to a werewolf?" 

Calhoun shook his head, "So far, none. Though there have been rumours about it, no one has ever turned back to a human after turning to a werewolf."

"The rumour must have sparked from somewhere, isn't it?" asked Madeline. After seeing what James turned out to be and taking in his current situation, she didn't want him continuing to suffer. "What about Lady Catherine's marriage to him?"

"They do not hold any leverage with me anymore."

Madeline heard James speak behind her, and she turned around to see James who pulled up the sleeve of his shirt which was frailly resting on his shoulder. "Mr. Barnes had threatened my father and me, that they would kill us, but now with my father gone, they cannot force me into it." 

Madeline gave Calhoun a pleading look, wanting him to help James. Calhoun, on the other hand, wasn't sure if he wanted to help the werewolf. Calhoun was more than happy to brush this case of James Heathcliff off his hands, but this was also an excellent opportunity to bring and seal the deal with Madeline. He didn't want to miss such a golden opportunity. 

"Do you know who might be wanting to frame you for the murder that took place? And maybe why?" questioned Calhoun to James, wanting his perspective, even though he had already found some of the trailed pieces of evidence. 

James answered, "I don't know. I didn't have a brawl with anyone and the villagers in East Carswell, they have always been peaceful." 

"Sure, but nobody decides to leave a body behind in your backyard, thinking it to be for decorative purpose," Calhoun's words were sharp, and James only glared. Just because Madeline had made peace with the King, it didn't mean James liked the vampire. He continued to despise the man but knowing nothing could be done right now, he decided to behave civilly. 

"The body was not found in one piece, but it was torn. Forcibly. The head was pulled away from the body, not beheading," Calhoun said, his gaze falling on Madeline, "Do you want to know who it was?" 

James shook his head, "If it was someone who tore the body, it must be a vampire's work." 

"Yes, that's right," Calhoun agreed, and then said, "Mr. Barnes who had come to the cremation of the dead girl said he didn't know where you are. He hoped that I would help you out from the sticky situation which you were put in."

"That's because he wants me to marry his daughter, Catherine," answered James, his voice dull, and he looked at the ground. James didn't know what to do right now. The one girl he loved didn't love him, his father was dead, and he had turned to a werewolf. 

"Lady Catherine's family must be looking for Mr. Heathcliff right now," replied Madeline and she saw Calhoun nod his head. 

"Yes, considering Mr. Heathcliff didn't go to his in-laws asking help to protect him, I would say yes. They are looking for him," stated Calhoun. "I found some fascinating trails from the Barnes' family. Young Catherine has been killing people in her mansion." 

Madeline and James furrowed their eyebrows. 

"Y-you mean she's the one?" asked Madeline.

"That's not possible!" James defended Catherine Barnes. The vampiress was pushy, but she was a person who would never hurt a fly, "You must be mistaken."

Calhoun chuckled at James' naivety. He wondered if turning to a werewolf had turned the tailorman's mind more dumb than before. 

"I have no obvious proof, of course, because I heard it from someone, but it is very much possible. Your future wife to be is trying to do something and who knows what is running in her head. There have been no leads so far, and you are the only suspect. Not to forget with your current transformation...You will be directly sent to execution." 

"I didn't do it!" James defended himself, "I was with my father the whole time. At the graveyard."

Calhoun said, "I believe you. Only because Madeline believes that you are incapable of killing people." 

Madeline looked up at Calhoun, her heart turning warm over his words. To Madeline, Calhoun was willing to respect her words and thoughts right now, it meant a lot to her. The King then continued to speak, 

"I don't think Mr. Barnes would be happy if he heard about his future son-in-law turning to a werewolf. But if we informed the Barnes, it is possible that Mr. Barnes' will get rid of you by informing the authorities himself."

"What do we do then?" asked Madeline with a worried look, bringing a broad smile on Calhoun's lips. 

"Leave it to me, sweetheart," he said to Madeline. He then said to James, "We don't know if the cure exists. But if it is true, I will get one for you," and it was only because having James as a werewolf was troublesome. Calhoun wanted James far and away from Madeline, "But for that, you will have to do what I tell you. Do you agree?" 

James stared at Calhoun, "Is this your way of getting rid of me? What if you set me up to be executed?" he questioned the vampire. 

"Isn't that why Madeline is here," Calhoun smiled down at James. "Me hurting you would be nothing less than breaking her trust. This way, we have an assured deal. Now that Madeline has also confessed how she feels, I am hoping that you wouldn't be foolish enough to chase her any more. It is a very unattractive quality." 

"Is that what you did?" asked James, challenging the King but Calhoun was in a pleasant mood to take any offence. 

"Every rule has an exception, and I am the exception," responded Calhoun. 

Madeline stared at both Calhoun and James, her eyes moving back and forth until Calhoun said, "I will have my men come and unshackle you. But you will be shackled back during the time of night. It is just for precautionary measures until we find the rumoured antidote." 

When Madeline and Calhoun stepped out of the cell room and then from the dungeon, she asked him,

"How are we going to find the antidote?" 

"We shall look for it from where the rumour was stemmed. Not to forget, you are not human anymore. You must have more abilities apart from cracking glasses and picking up locks. Does your sister know how to pick locks too?"

"Not as good as me," answered Madeline. As they were out in the open, she could smell the fresh air, "You said the people of the High House are on their way. What if they put James up for execution and frame you for it?"

"The High House people will take three more days before they arrive. Three days is a lot of time," Calhoun looked confident, and somewhere Madeline believed James would be able to return to his everyday life. At least she hoped she would. 

Far away from the castle, and in the Barnes' mansion, the young vampiress paced back and forth in her room. 

When she heard her father enter the room, Catherine stopped walking and asked, "Did you find him?" 

"No, there's no trace of him," answered Mr. Barnes', internally smiling and happy that he had somehow got rid of the lowly human. 

"Where do you think he is?! He shouldn't have gone too far away from here!" Catherine cried as she turned hysterical by the disappearance of James Heathcliff, not knowing where he was. Did her plan backfire? Catherine had been expecting James to come to her for help, but instead, the man had disappeared.

"We don't know, Catherina. He must have left this land," stated her father.


Mr. Barnes had sent his own men to find James, but he was nowhere to be found. If the tailorman would not return to Devon, Mr. Barnes would throw a party next month. There would be no pressure from the King, nor would his daughter be hung up on the human. 

"There there, my dear," Mr. Barnes hugged his daughter, patting her back and he smiled internally. Good riddance thought the vampire in his mind. 

Catherine, who couldn't see the change in her father's expression frowned, wondering what she could do to fix the situation. She had found out that James' father had passed away, which gave him a reason to leave this place unless his shop meant something to him. 

Next day in the Hawthrone's castle, a man who wore black robes with a rope tied around his waist stepped down from the carriage, looking up at the walls and pillars of the castle, 

"You don't have to carry that one," said the man with a small polite smile on his face to the servant who had come to pick his trunk. "I carry my things myself. You can let the King know that Mr. Sparrow is here." 

Instead of stepping inside the castle, the man chose to walk in the garden. Playing with a card in his hand, he twirled and twisted it around. It had a picture of the fool with a hat on the character's head. He was idly playing with it when he heard the slightest sound behind him.

Without a thought, the man threw the card behind him. The man turned around to see Calhoun, who had caught hold of the card with his two fingers, near his face. 
Troublesome hearts- Part 1


Raphael offered a smile to Calhoun, his droopy eyes staring at the King before his eyes fell on the hand that had caught hold of the card of the fool. 

"My King," Raphael bowed his head.

"Throwing the card at me so that I catch hold of it," Calhoun said, who brought his hand in front of him to look at the card that was thrown at him. But when his eyes fell on the surface of the card, there was nothing in there. It was a blank card. He threw the card back at Raphael with double the intensity and the card reader caught it. In the process, the side of the card which was sharp left a cut on Raphael's thumb. 

If Calhoun didn't know Raphael, he would have had him executed, for being nosy and interested in his readings. But Raphael was not any acquaintance. He was a friend who was very similar to him as they had demon blood. 

"I was only checking your precision, my King," Raphael smiled, while bowing his head. Calhoun shook his head, "I received your letter and decided to come here quickly with my trunk." He had been called here only to give a reading, but Raphael had decided to stay here till the wedding because he had a feeling he had to be here. 

"There are plenty of rooms in the castle. It shouldn't be too hard to accommodate you in one of the guest rooms," said Calhoun. "What are the blank cards for?" he inquired. 

Calhoun preferred not to know about what his future consisted of as he believed that when a person heard about it, they came to believe even if it meant it wasn't true—making it to be the truth and destiny of the person. Calhoun was a person who decided his and others fate. It was who he was. 

Raphael on hearing this walked towards Calhoun. His eyes fell on the card of the fool he had thrown at the King to receive a blank card. 

Though people didn't like to receive the card of the fool, what people didn't know was that the card of the fool was what determined the character of the person—showing traits and information. With the number of years, Raphael had lived, he had seen more than seventy-four different types in the fool's appearance or expressions. Therefore, it came as a surprise that the fool had disappeared entirely from the card, and he tilted his head. 

"I have no idea," murmured Raphael, "You appear to be the first few who always encourages me to have more knowledge about my own cards," smiled the man. Getting into the serious discussion, he asked, "Why did you ask for a second reading for the lady?" 

When people came for card readings, Raphael had always advised them to have a three months gap before they would approach him for the next reading. It was only because there wouldn't be much difference if the reading was done too soon. 

Calhoun stared at the walls and pillars of the castle from where they stood in the garden. Without looking at Raphael, he said, 

"Madeline is an angel." 

The smile on Raphael's face fell, "That's not possible. Creatures like those don't exist." 

Calhoun was in no mood to joke, not at least when it concerned Madeline's well being and life. He looked at Raphael, "Apart from her, there's one angel imprisoned in the dungeon while one more rots in the forest." 

"You don't mind if I pay a visit to the one in the dungeon, do you?" asked Raphael, his droopy eyes for once looked like it was filled with interest. 

When both of them reached the dungeon, Calhoun opened the lock and pushed the door open where Madeline's grandmother was held captive. 

Madeline's grandmother glared at Calhoun and the new man who had come to look at her. Raphael, on the other hand, looked at the older woman with keen interest. He said, 

"It doesn't look like she's one. She looks very human-like," commented Raphael. 

"It would have been better if she was a human, but she isn't," stated Calhoun. The woman looked as if she was waiting for an opportunity to strike at Calhoun for killing her husband. "She is Madeline's grandmother."

Raphael's eyebrows raised, his lips forming into an O shape.

"That's very interesting," hummed Raphael, "I never knew they existed. Why is she in here?" 

"Just so that she will not try to kill Madeline," came the casual words from Calhoun. He wanted to ask the woman questions, and he didn't mind torturing her. The woman looked stubborn, and she hadn't spoken a word since his and Madeline's last visit.

Once they stepped out of the dungeon, Calhoun continued to say, "Apparently, there is more to the story of angels when they fell. There is a possibility that the first fallen angel bedded a human, who gave birth to children. And the last descendant happens to be Madeline." 

"What is this? A war between the first fallen angel and the rest of them?" asked Raphael, intrigue in his voice. 

"Possibly," Calhoun replied before continuing to speak as they made their way towards the castle. "Madeline is not a normal angel, but a dark angel, the last descendant of the first fallen one. If there is more than one angel in the vicinity, it is possible that soon they will come for her. But I would like to kill them before they even smell her presence." 

"Fair enough," Raphael agreed, nodding his head, "What do you want me to do?" 

"I have Theodore for keeping an eye in the villages and towns now, but I will need another pair in the castle. Also, if possible, amuse others and keep a low profile about yourself while guiding Madeline by your words," stated Calhoun, "There are two more weeks left before the wedding, and the High House has decided to pay a visit to the castle." 

"I didn't know you were close to them," Raphael gave a questioning look.

For the people they were, demons in the disguise of humans and vampires, the demons had often stayed and strayed away from the High House. And it seemed like even fallen angels were doing the same. 

"Markus and Rosamund have been trying to throw me into a pickle."

Raphael chuckled, "I see they are still being persistent and don't know when to stop. I will keep an eye on them." 

Calhoun hummed, and as they entered the castle, they caught sight of Beth who was walking with Markus in the corridor.

"Who is that beautiful girl?" asked Raphael, his eyes taking in the appearance of the green-eyed brunette girl. 

Markus and Beth reached where Calhoun and the stranger was, who looked nothing less to a beggar in Beth's eyes. 

"Going out?" Calhoun questioned, and Markus gave out a charming smile. 

"Yes, my King," answered Markus, "Lady Elizabeth wanted to buy shoes for the wedding, and I thought to take her out to the town today." Markus then turned to look at the man whom he had never seen before. By the man's appearance, it looked like he was someone who had been picked from a local street. 

Raphael noticed their gazes, and he bowed his head in greeting, "I am Raphael Sparrow. An old acquaintance of the King." 

Markus didn't hold a surprised look on his face. He was aware that before Calhoun had turned to be the King or had entered the castle, Calhoun once used to live in the dirty market area. People who lived there looked similar to this shabby man. 

Not bringing his distaste on his lips, Markus introduced himself, "Markus Wilmot. I am the King's cousin, and this here is my fiance, Elizabeth Harris." Beth could only bask and beam in the glory that she was the fiance of a man who was the King's cousin. Though the man named Raphael Sparrow whom she was being introduced to looked like a worthless man, Beth bowed her head in greeting. 

"Has there been any word about what happened in East Carswell?" questioned Calhoun to Markus. 

Markus replied, "Yes, my King. It seems they found the trails of the guards whom you had assigned at the shop. Clothes of the guards have been retrieved from the forest, but we are yet to find the bodies." 

"What a pity," murmured Calhoun, his eyes staring into his cousin's lighter coloured eyes, "It must be someone who doesn't know how to cover the trails of their actions. What do you think, Markus?"

Markus looked slightly startled at the question, "My King?" 

"I was asking if the culprit would be caught in time. I would love to see the person's head hanging at the front of the castle. Wouldn't that be wonderful?" questioned Calhoun, a broad smile forming on his lips. 

While Calhoun was busy speaking to Markus, Raphael couldn't keep his eyes away from the girl who stood in front of him. Even though the lady was introduced as Markus' fiance, Raphael couldn't help but look at the girl. After all, he belonged to the kind of creatures who had no morals. 

Raphael still had the card of the fool in his hand, and testingly, he dropped the card near the girl and far away from him. Beth, who was good in portraying herself to be the kind and benevolent girl, bent down quickly and picked the card to hand it to the man, who offered her a smile. 

"We shall be going. Lady Elizabeth," Markus called her name, and Beth let go of the card as the man had taken hold of it. Bowing their heads, they left from there. 

"She is a troublesome girl," Calhoun commented noticing the interest in Raphael's eyes and then said, "I will see you later." 

Raphael nodded. He then looked down at the card of the fool to notice the fool carrying branches with thorns in them and stepping towards the cliff. He couldn't help but chuckle, 

"Looks like a damsel." 

When Beth and Markus reached the town, Beth's joy knew no bounds. They entered a shop which she had only seen from afar in the past. The feeling was nothing less to a princess as assistants hovered around her holding shoes in their hands. She only had two pairs of shoes which she made sure not to walk on the muddy patches so that she could keep them in good condition.

To be offered so many different shoes, it was a treat to her eyes. Beth looked at Markus who offered her a kind smile. 

"If you don't like the one's in here, there's another shop that Sophie visits. We can go and take a look there," said Markus to her. 

Beth wondered if this was what heaven felt like. Somewhere it felt her wishes and dreams were finally coming to be true and fruitful. Her prayers for a husband who would dote on her had been answered. Given Markus was not her husband and only fiance, she still enjoyed the title of being related to a powerful man like him. 

"I will see that one," Beth pointed at the shoe that was gold in colour. The shop assistants were used to assisting the vampire and other elite families. 

"Is this all that you have? Get the most expensive shoes for the beautiful lady," Markus' words brought a certain blush on Beth's face. But at the same time, she couldn't help but look down at the assistants who had given her looks in the beginning when she entered the shoe shop. 

To Markus, Beth was not the first girl who had eyed him or tried to land him as their husband. While pampering the girl, he had also tried to find out about her and her sister, Madeline's dynamics. The good news was there was a rift. 

After buying the shoes, they headed back to the castle in the carriage, when Markus decided to bring up the conversation,

"Knowing how Sophie is, you should bring your sister here. You might enjoy shopping for clothes and jewellery," stated Markus, a kind smile still on his lips.

"You are too kind, Markus," Beth replied to his generosity. Madeline already had the King to dote on her, she didn't see why there was a need to shower Madeline with such things. "Thank you for buying the shoes for me," she smiled. 

Markus shook his head. He took hold of Beth's hand that was on her lap. Picking it up, he kissed the back of her hand, 

"Anything for you, Elizabeth." He saw the human blush one more time. Though the elder daughter of Harris was beautiful and had caught his eye instantly, lately it was the younger one where his thoughts were drifting to, "You are my fiance, it is the least I can do. Once you become my wife, you will be showered with much more luxury," he promised her. 

"Did things get better between you and Lady Madeline?" asked Markus. Even a little bit of spark is enough to set the entire forest aflame. To Markus, Elizabeth was nothing less to a pawn, and even though he was starting to notice the younger Harris girl, it didn't mean he forgot what his aim was. What he wanted was the throne. 

Beth gave a tight smile, "Not yet. It is a common thing between siblings." 

"She must have really hurt you. Especially someone as kind as you," Markus praised her indirectly. 

"Sophie can be insensitive, but she mentioned how the King didn't choose you when you are the most beautiful, most thoughtful and wisest of the two sisters. I mean, it is usually the elder one who is sent to get married first. Pardon me, but sometimes, I feel it was unfair that you weren't the one but Lady Madeline. Didn't she say anything?" Markus gave a pitiful look before adding, "I must be lucky to have you by my side. But I do understand how it feels when you don't get chosen." 

Leaving a question of doubt in Beth's mind, he waited to hear Beth ask, 


"Yes," Markus put up a solemn look on his face, "My parents have always aspired to see me ascend the throne considering Calhoun was the illegitimate son of the previous King. Can you imagine how it would have been? If I were to be the King and you my Queen?" Markus turned to look straight into Beth's green eyes. 

To be the Queen? Thought Beth to herself. The greed that was lurking in her reignited, "Why didn't they fight for it? That seems unfair," she responded back to his words. 

"Yes, sadly it is. The previous King had already decided, and we couldn't do anything. It does feel unfair, and I know you understand how I feel. When what rightfully belongs to you is snatched away, without a chance," Markus carefully tried to weave the trap around Beth. Knowing how much she was smitten by him, he used it to his own advantage, "Only if things would be different."

Beth couldn't help but dwell on the thought of 'what if's?' in her mind. Since they were children, Madeline had always shone better than her, and Beth worked hard to be the better one. More presentable in appearance and in character that was appealing to others. It was also something her grandparents thrived on. When the King's invitation arrived, she was sure she had reached her goal, but it had shattered. Madeline only showed that she was better than her again. Beth wanted to be the Queen, and she liked Markus more compared to the blunt King. 

Somewhere also the possibility of the King executing her had crossed her mind as he was now aware of the letter she had written to James in Madeline's name. 

"Would you like to be the Queen, Elizabeth?" questioned Markus in full seriousness. 

Beth couldn't help, but smile. But seeing the serious expression on his face, she said, "Anyone would love to be the Queen." 

"What if I said I can make you the Queen?" 

The carriage entered the castle ground through the wide opened gates while Beth stared at Markus, "That is not possible." Her sister was marrying the King, and she was marrying Markus. Beth had a frown on her face when she heard Markus say,

"Don't worry about the possibilities. My question is if you want to be the Queen or not." 

Pursing her lips, Beth answered, "Yes. Yes, I would love to be the Queen." 

Markus tested the waters, "I will help you with that, but you will need to follow my words closely. Okay?" 

Beth knew the underlying meaning of Markus' words, but the offer was too tempting, and she gave him a nod. Markus couldn't help but smile to himself.
Troublesome hearts- Part 2

In one of the fanciest rooms in the castle, Madeline sat out in the patio with Lucy, Lady Rosamund, Sophie and her mother. Madeline was holding the cup of tea in her hand without taking a sip from it when she heard something crack at the table. For a moment, she was sure it was her teacup.

"Sophie, dear. You need to be careful with the teacup," laughed Lady Rosamund, giving a look at Sophie, who had been mostly quiet nowadays. 

Madeline felt a pair of eyes on her, and she could tell it was her mother who was staring at her. When her eyes slowly moved, she saw the look of worry change to a smile on her mother's face. 

"How are you doing now, Lady Lucy? Are you feeling better?" asked her mother to the vampiress who offered a kind smile.

"Yes, Mrs. Harris. Much better. I am not used to travelling and spending my time away from home," came the polite words of Lucy. Since the time she had caught her husband having an affair with the maid, Lucy was trying to spend less time with Samuel. Life felt unkind, and the pain was heavily weighing on her heart. She had tried to find the maid in the castle, wanting to talk and question but the maid had disappeared. 

"You should travel with Samuel, Lucy dear," stated Lady Rosamund, "Calhoun sends your husband away for work. You should ask him to take you with him. You will even get to see the world." 

Lucy wished they would stop speaking about her marital relationship and her time with Samuel. "I think it would be unsafe to travel with him, considering the enemies. Also, I wouldn't want to trouble him." 

"What a sweet girl you are," commented Lady Rosamund, picking up her teacup and taking a sip from it. 

"Your husband is very lucky, Lady Lucy. To have a wife like you," praised Madeline's mother. 

Madeline who was listening in on their conversation could see the uncomfortable look on Lucy's face, "Lady Lucy is down to earth despite her being the princess of Devon," said Madeline, "She even promised me to teach the game of checks and cross-board." 

"It is the least I can do," smiled Lucy, "After Sophie's words, I thought it would be good to spend time together as we are soon going to be sisters-in-law." She looked relieved that the conversation had been diverted. 

But Lady Rosamund was not done with their previous conversation, she then said, "That is how Lucy has been. Though I must say, you should be careful with Theodore," and she then turned to Mrs. Harris to say, "I saw him follow our dear Lucy in the middle of the night. He is quite a leech-" and before more words could be uttered, the teacup that was raised near her face suddenly shattered. 

The ladies at the table gasped, "Are you alright, Lady Rosamund?" asked Mrs. Harris as the pieces of the teacup had hit her face to leave angry lines on the older vampiress' face. 

Lady Rosamund didn't know how it happened, but she composed her face, "Yes, I am fine. Let me go and take care of it. Excuse me," and the vampiress got up from her seat. 

"Let me come with you, mother," said Sophie, getting up from her chair and quickly following her mother. 

"The teacups must be truly delicate to break so easily," said Lucy in a worried tone. She then looked at Mrs. Harris and Madeline to make sure they were alright. "Let me call the maid. Let us move to another room," suggested the vampiress. 

As they were leaving, Madeline met her mother's eyes, who stared at her with a worried look. 

Madeline knew the reason the teacup broke wasn't because of Lady Rosamund, but it was because of her. Seeing Lady Lucy's distress with the topic of conversation, Madeline had quietly glared towards Lady Rosamund. But who knew it would end up breaking the teacup without her needing to touch it. 

"Are you alright, mama?" asked Madeline to her mother, her eyes looking innocent. 

Her mother stared at her before saying, "Yes."

Madeline could tell that her mother was worried, and maybe even tense. Her powers of being a dark angel were returning, and Madeline only prayed that she would not kill anyone. She didn't want somebody's blood on her hands.

Madeline didn't tag along with Lucy and her mother, but when she was walking in the open corridor, looking for Calhoun, she noticed a familiar man who was sitting on his heels and talking to one of Calhoun's wolves. Hearing her footsteps, the man turned around. 

"It is good to see you, Lady Madeline," Raphael bowed his head in greetings. 

Madeline did the same, "Mr. Sparrow." 

"How are you doing? I heard something very interesting from Calhoun," mentioned Raphael, patting the wolf's head and standing up.

Madeline wondered if it was safe to say anything in here out in the open, "Are you aware of my kind?" 

"I have only heard about them as mythical creatures. But if the King and I exist, I guess I shouldn't question about you," his lazy eyes looked at her. Raphael was a demon like Calhoun, the only difference was he wasn't a vampire which was why his eyes were black. 

"I think I finally understand what the previous readings meant," said Madeline to him, "The skull, the tulip and the tombstone. I have killed, and I will kill again. I have been in the tombstone, and I wish none of it repeats again." 

"You are searching for answers to stop it," Raphael's eyes softened further.

She gave him a nod. "Yes," responded Madeline, and then she asked after a pause, "I was wondering...If it is possible to find what I have lost during my childhood. My memories. It is important that I find them, and also my sister's."

"Lady Elizabeth?" Raphael tilted his head.

"Her memories have been tampered. I think I will find a piece of what I am looking for through her. Do you think it is possible? To bring it back." She looked at him anxiously for an answer with hope in her eyes,

Raphael answered, "That's possible, but memories can be tricky, Lady Madeline. There is a possibility of lapse that can either bring it back or tamper it further." 
Troublesome hearts- Part 3

Music Recommendation: Fairground by Joby Talbot


Madeline didn't want to tamper Beth's memories. Further, all she wanted was to take a look at what Beth had seen before her memory was replaced. She wondered if there would be consequences, but this was one of the easiest ways to find out what happened that day when their friend had died. If her memory served her right, her grandparents weren't there, and it was just three small children. 

"How do you achieve it?" questioned Madeline, her voice falling.

"I will need to put her in a sleep state. It will be tough to access her memories when she's awake. The mind needs to relax," replied Raphael. He then pulled out a card from his pocket, "Do you mind holding this for me, Lady Madeline." 

Madeline didn't take it immediately, and she stared at the card before her sight shifted to the card reader, "Why?"

A faint smile appeared on Raphael's lips. Though the girl looked naive, she was smart to question before touching the card, "People have a misconception when it comes to demons and angels. Though we are considered to be mythical, people still like to believe that the world is segregated with black and white. Good and evil. That the demons have powers to destroy while the angels are the ones to bless you." 

Raphael continued, "Demons and angels are blessed with abilities. There is good and bad on both sides. I am sure you have experienced it first hand. I just happened to be a person who has the ability of insight. I can look at people through the cards that I carry, that hold a part of me in each of them. The card here," he said, "It is a card of the Fool. A special one which will take the appearance of a person's nearby destiny of who they have become and what awaits in their future."

"Aren't all the cards like that? That tells something about the past, present or future," and she took the card that was offered to her—holding it firmly to take a look at what was there. 

"Consider this to be a card that will give direct answers, milady. What do you see?" Raphael inquired, his eyes curiously looking at Madeline, and he didn't peek at the card. 

For a moment, the card was nothing but blank. She was going to tell him that it was empty when she saw the surface of the card shimmer from left to right.

Staring closer at the card, Madeline noticed intricate lines forming on the surface of the card, moving haphazardly until she saw what had formed itself in there, "It is a person in the boat. Stormy night," said Madeline to Raphael, "Is it bad news?" she asked him. 

"Let's look at it this way. You are still on the boat, intact even after the storm in the sea," Raphael took the card back, looking at what the lady found in the card of Fool that stayed there for less than fifteen seconds before it disappeared and turned back to the Fool with the hat, "Even in such bad weather, you are still on the boat, not drowning. That counts for something, doesn't it?" 

Madeline wondered how she was supposed to perceive it. Though it looked like Raphael was trying to encourage her, somewhere she felt as if he was hiding a part of truth so that his words wouldn't disturb the progress of the path she was supposed to walk in. 

"Did you take readings of the King?" inquired Madeline. 

"He doesn't indulge himself in things like reading from the cards. Calhoun has never picked a card out of his own free will," revealed Raphael. This was something that was not to be mentioned to anyone. But seeing Madeline was going to be Calhoun's wife in the future, he decided to drop in a few information. 

"What do you mean free will?" Madeline furrowed her brows. 

Raphael put the card back in his pocket, "I have always given him cards to pick. Unknowingly," he added, and Madeline nodded her head. "He has touched only two cards so far." 

"What reading did he get?" Madeline asked curiously, she keenly waited for Raphael to reveal more about Calhoun. Though Calhoun was transparent when it came to his feelings for her and his family in the castle, Madeline felt that there was still more to who Calhoun was. 

"Will you keep it a secret?" This time it was Raphael who whispered. She was quick to nod her head. "The King's card today turned out to be a blank one. I have come to believe that he is a powerful man, not just figuratively but by who he really is. Not all demons have wings like him. They are more bat-like. Do you know who has feathered wings?"

"Angels," she murmured to see Raphael smile. Madeline looked at him confused, "But he isn't an angel. Do you know about his grandfather?" 

Madeline had only heard from Calhoun about his grandfather, who was still resting in the coffin. But what she didn't understand was when did Calhoun's mother leave her father's side and why. Why live a life as a human would? If there were some people who knew about Calhoun, that was possibly Theodore and Raphael as they seemed closer to him than anyone else. 

Raphael could see the burning question in the lady's eyes. Then he said, "I only know that he is still alive, but I have never got to meet him. Not even the King himself has met him." 

"What do you know about him?" she continued to inquire. 

"If Calhoun is powerful, I can tell you that his grandfather is more powerful because that is where Calhoun received his abilities from. But we don't know what kind of wings he has. If they are bat-like that belongs to demons or if they are feathered wings," Raphael answered her question. Madeline pursed her lips. All this while, she knew nothing about demons and angels, that she was one of them and was also living with some of them. 

"Do you know how to identify who are demons and angels?" 

Raphael shook his head to this, "Unfortunately no. The most I can do is read people through my cards, Lady Madeline. I doubt any of us demons have the ability to identify the demons and angels," pausing for two seconds, Raphael then asked, "I met your relative who has been locked in the dungeon. Did she ever mention anything about it? I think you will get your answers from your own family if you are looking for one." 

Madeline wasn't sure how much her unwilling grandmother would reply to her. She knew her grandmother had the answers, but her grandmother didn't appear to be in a communicating mood. The next was her sister and Madeline herself. 

"I will see what I can do." 

Raphael offered her a polite smile, "Yes, please. I will take your reading tonight. I am sure Calhoun would like to be present when it's happening." Madeline and Raphael had started to walk down the corridor, heading towards the courtroom where Calhoun was supposed to be. "By the way, I have something to ask. Your sister. Is she the brunette one with green eyes?" 

Madeline's eyebrows slightly furrowed and she gave him a nod, "Yes, that's my sister. Why? Have you met her before?" 

"Just today. She has an interesting personality, quite different to you," chimed Raphael, and Madeline wondered in which aspect of her sister he was speaking about. 

She couldn't help but wonder what Raphael meant. Feeling her gaze, Raphael stopped walking, and so did Madeline. "Your sister, how do you see her, milady." 

It was one of the oddest questions Madeline had ever received or asked until now, "She is my sister." As much as there was a rift between her and Beth, there was still a soft corner in Madeline's heart where she would forgive her sister. They grew up together, sharing each other's thoughts. 

"I am aware of it. But how do you feel about your sister?" questioned Raphael, he looked left and right. Madeline did the same, making sure no one was there to listen in on their conversation. 

Pursing her lips while staring into the black eyes of the man, she said, "She might come off to be materialistic, but somewhere deep down, she has a good heart. Someone who gets persuaded easily. When we were young, she would often protect me from the people who liked to bully me."

"Why did that happen?" he tilted his head, curiously looking at her. 

Madeline shrugged her shoulders, "I just remember there were some men, adults who liked to…" this was some part of her memory which she had herself forcibly tried to forget, "Beth was always there to make sure I was alright. She likes to lead." 

"You should know that just because someone likes to lead, they don't often turn to leaders." 

"Are you speaking about her not being the Queen?" Madeline frowned.

"No, not about it. Some are destined to lead, even though they don't show the inherent trait. But that is not what we are speaking about. What happened to those men? Are they still there?" on Raphael's question, Madeline gave it some thought and slowly nodded her head. 

"I guess they are there. I don't think Beth or I remember any of them now. It was long ago." She didn't even want to remember it by mistake. 

"I see," Raphael answered before saying, "I wanted to drop a word of caution to your sister. The path she has chosen will lead to her death." 

Madeline felt her stomach fall over Raphael's words. She had lost her grandfather, and her grandmother would die soon because of the woman's intention to kill her. The last thing Madeline needed was more death. 

"Can you elaborate more about it?" she asked in a whisper. 

"She is a beautiful girl, and I couldn't resist not wanting to see what she would get when touching the card of the Fool. With what I saw, she is walking towards her death. Though I don't think it is out of willingness. Some readings are easy to predict, Lady Madeline." 

Madeline pressed her lips before she asked, "How can I prevent it?" 

"Keep her occupied, and away from people who you think will harm her. But somewhere it makes me worried," Raphael let his thoughts known to Madeline, "I found out that she is going to get married to Markus Wilmot. If you take that into consideration, it would be better if you keep her away from yourself. I am sure you are already aware of the Wilmot's intentions." 

She didn't know how to feel about it. 

Madeline didn't want any harm to befall on her sister, but would Beth try to do something? To help the Wilmot's. 

"I also have another suggestion. If I may?" and Madeline quickly nodded her head for Raphael to continue to speak, "How about I try to divert her myself. It would be a pity to see someone like her, especially when it is your sister to be stepping towards her death." 

Madeline didn't know what Raphael meant, but if it was going to keep her sister Beth away from trouble, then it didn't sound too bad, "Okay." 

"This way, it will be easier to get her readings, too, when it comes to accessing her memories." 

Madeline and Raphael were still speaking when Lady Rosamund arrived from the other corner of the corridor, making her way in their direction. 

Lady Rosamund looked as if she was in a foul mood. The closer she walked towards them, the more prominent did the red lines appear on her face. As Madeline was no more an average human, Lady Rosamund bowed her head, but the same was not offered to the man. 

"What are you doing here, Lady Madeline?" asked Lady Rosamund. 

"I was speaking to Mr. Sparrow. He is the King's acquaintance," Madeline introduced Raphael who bowed at the lady. Lady Rosamund only gauged at the man from top to bottom before her eyes shifted back at Madeline. 

"I was going to meet the King," smiled Lady Rosamund. 

Madeline and Raphael accompanied the vampiress to the court as they were also heading in that direction. When they reached the vast room which had white walls and white marble floor, Madeline saw Calhoun who was seated on his throne. 

On seeing Madeline, Calhoun stretched his hand towards her, and she quietly made her way to his side. 

"What happened to your face, Aunt Rosamund?" Calhoun had a look of curiosity in his eyes as he noticed the red lines that had formed on the vampiress' face. 

Lady Rosamund's face hardened, "The teacup broke in my hand. It must have been a delicate one."

Calhoun heard Madeline's heart skip a beat, but he didn't turn to look at her.

"I guess things in the castle have turned old and needs to be replaced with something that is much sturdier, isn't it," he offered her a smile, "You should have asked the maid to tend to your skin."

"They will heal in good time. I am here to ask you about Lady Madeline's wedding gown. Only fourteen days left and there has been no word about the gown to see if it will fit," came the sharp words from Lady Rosamund. 

"Emilio, Mr. Heathcliff's assistant, will be bringing the gown tomorrow so that Madeline can wear it and see. Shoes and other things have already been ordered to be brought tomorrow," Calhoun let his beloved aunt know about it, a smile plastered on his face. 

"What a lovely and kind aunt I have. Taking care of our wedding, sweet Madeline," Calhoun praised his aunt. Lady Rosamund bowed her head at the compliment.

"I heard something about the tailorman. That he killed someone…" said Lady Rosamund and Calhoun stared at her with the smile still intact on his face. 

"Yes, he is under investigation," Calhoun was already aware that the Wilmot's knew about James Heathcliff being imprisoned in the dungeon. 

At the same time, they heard the sound of quick footsteps from outside, and in came a servant huffing for air and he bowed his head,

"My Lord! The people from the High House are here!"
High House- Part 1

On hearing the words 'High House', most of the people's face turned pale who were in the courtroom, and this included Lady Rosamund. The smile that was on Calhoun's lips lowered, and he ordered, 

"Bring them in here. Also, bring Lucy and the others in here. We wouldn't want others to miss meeting them." 

Madeline had heard the hype about the High House, but this would be the first time she was going to meet them. She couldn't help but wonder what kind of people belonged to the High House. Though she knew it was the Wilmot's who had tipped the High House people to come here, she could tell that by the look on Lady Rosamund's face, she didn't want to be on their wrong side. 

The servant quickly left to bring the other family members to the courtroom while another servant went to lead the members of the High House to this room. Madeline turned to look at Calhoun, and he stood up, to come and stand next to her. 

"What a surprise that they are here!" exclaimed Lady Rosamund. 

"A very shocking one," Calhoun replied where his aunt missed his sarcastic remark. 

Madeline couldn't help but be worried about what was going to happen. She felt Calhoun's hand on her back before he let it go. 

The sharp sound of the shoes could be heard heading in the direction of the courtroom, that got louder and louder until the members of the High House finally showed up to enter the room. There were four people who wore cloaks: two men and two women. 

"King Calhoun," one of the female stepped forward, and Calhoun did the same so that they could shake each other's hands. 

"Lillith," Calhoun greeted with his charming smile, "I didn't know you were visiting the castle today. I would have got the rooms and food prepared so that you were well served." The woman was a brunette with black eyes. 

Madeline took note of how the woman looked mature and probably a few years older than her. The servants came to help in remove the cloaks that the guests wore. At the same time, Madeline caught sight of the hourglass shape of the woman named Lilith. 

"I thought I would give you a surprise," Lilith smiled, her eyes not breaking eye contact with Calhoun's. 

"You or everyone?" questioned Calhoun, his mind sharp as always. Lilith smiled. 

One of the men, walked forward to shake his hand, "Dimitri," Calhoun greeted the man. 

"We heard about the King getting married and thought to come and wish the couple," compared to the other three members with whom he had come with, the man named Dimitri appeared older and had a tone of seriousness on his face. He had peppered white and black hair, while the other man appeared to be in his late twenties.

"How kind and thoughtful of all of you to come to visit," replied Calhoun, and then he looked at the servant who was standing near the entrance of the courtroom, "Have the dining room prepared for our guests." 

"Yes, milord!" the servant was quick to leave. 

"Congratulations, my lord," the second man who belonged to the High House bowed his head and so did the woman who had blonde hair. 

"Thank you, Wesley and Daphne." 

Madeline stood three steps away from them, and she heard the High House people congratulate Calhoun. So far, the members of the council had their attention only on the King, not even sparing a look at Lady Rosamund, who was Calhoun's blood-related aunt. 

After a while, Madeline felt a pair of eyes on her which were intensely looking at her. The gaze was from Lilith. 

"Is she the girl?" the woman exuded confidence through her words, not caring how she addressed Madeline in front of the King. 

When Lilith walked around and came to stand in front of Madeline, her heels clicked sharply on the white floor, she stared at Madeline. Slowly sizing her up and down. Madeline felt uncomfortable, but without bringing it forward, she bowed her head. "What's your name?" 

"Madeline Harris," Madeline introduced herself. 

"What an old name for a young girl. Reminds me of my grandmother," commented Lilith with a small huff. 

Madeline could tell that she and this member of the High House was not going to get along. Though Madeline had not uttered a sentence so far, the woman had gone as far as to throw an insult in the first one minute of their greeting. 

"Was your grandmother also beautiful like her?" Calhoun questioned, and it brought everyone's eyes on him. The other woman of High House, Daphne, smiled at the King's retort. 

Lilith had a serious face as she turned to look at Calhoun and she answered, "Much better. It is where I acquired my looks from." 

Calhoun chuckled, not taking any offence and Madeline decided to do the same. She wondered for how long the four people would be staying in the castle.

The two men didn't bother to indulge themselves to know about Madeline and continued to speak to Calhoun. Dimitri, who was the senior-most of them all, said,

"My King, I believe you already know why we are here." 

"I do?" asked Calhoun with an oblivious look on his face, "Please enlighten me because I don't. Unless someone has invited you people here? Right, Aunt Rosamund?" he asked the vampiress who had been standing there quietly without coming to talk to the members of the High House. 

Lady Rosamund had her expressions schooled, responded with a smile, "Lady Lilith mentioned she wanted to surprise you. I don't think anyone invited them to the castle." 

"We have received anonymous letters about what you have been doing," Dimitri said it to Calhoun. The man was a vampire. 

"And what is that?" Calhoun's tone was pleasant. 

Dimitri turned to look at Madeline, "My lady, are you getting married to the King with your own consent?" 

"From when did the King getting married to a woman ever been questioned, or be it any other man?" Raphael raised the question to receive a glare from Dimitri. 

"And since when did strangers come to interfere when the members of the High House questions?" Lilith was the one to speak back to Raphael, "It would be best if you don't interfere unless there's something to hide. Yes?" 

Raphael smiled and bowed his head. Madeline felt the questioning gaze being sent towards her from Lilith.

"As much as it is not our business on who the King marries, we need to make sure that the people are well protected and feel safe. Of course, most of the times it never comes to our notice, but there have been too many allegations towards the King of Devon, which is why we are here. You don't have to be scared, Miss Harris. Feel free to speak on what happened," said Dimitri.

Madeline met Calhoun's eyes that looked at her calmly.

They heard a couple more footsteps approach from outside the courtroom before Lucy, the Wilmot's siblings, and Madeline's family appeared at the entrance of the room.

"We would have asked the servants who work here, but we are very well aware that they are very loyal to the King," stated Dimitri, "Has the King tortured you for the marriage with him or are you doing it willingly?" 

Wetting her lips, Madeline answered, "I am doing it on my own free will." 

"Is it only now that you are willing to marry him or were you against marrying him before?" This time it was Lilith who questioned her. To Madeline, it seemed like the woman wanted to hear something against Calhoun. Not because Lilith wanted to look down at the King, but something told Madeline it was because the woman wanted the wedding to stop. 

Madeline said, "As I come from a very humble family, it took me some time to realise that the King was serious in his intentions towards me. That he wanted to make me his wife. To conclude, yes, I want to marry him." 

Even though Dimitri nodded his head, Lilith was not pleased with the answer, and she said, "Prove it. Prove it that you are doing it out of your own consent. The letters we received were not one, but many. The people who sent the letters, heard rumours about how you wanted to kill yourself. Or more like it was an unsuccessful attempt when it came to killing yourself because you couldn't bear the thought about marrying him." 

Madeline didn't know how the rumour stemmed when in truth, everything that happened that day was by mistake. 

Mr. and Mrs. Harris had a look of shock on their faces on hearing that Madeline wanted to end her life. Being Madeline's parents, they were aware of their daughter's feelings before she accepted to marry the King. 

"Do you know about it, Mr. and Mrs. Harris?" Lilith interrogated her parents. 

Both of them shook their heads, "We didn't hear anything like that." 

"It is possible because your daughter, Madeline, was held here in the castle, which is why you never heard the news?" questioned Lilith again. 

"Lilith," Dimitri called for her attention, "Lady Madeline has no objections so it shouldn't be a problem." 

"But we aren't sure about it," smiled Lilith, "People say anything and everything when they are under fear." 

Is that what this lady was doing right now? Asked Madeline to herself. Even though the older man of the High House wanted to move to the next issue, this woman was not letting it go. It made Madeline wonder what Lilith feared about. 

"I agree about my consent in front of everyone. Isn't that enough?" asked Madeline to hear Lilith chuckle. 

"No, it isn't. At least not for me. No offence, but the King is known to be a charming man and not to forget his reputation. He would have bedded you by now, and you would have agreed to it if you are willing to marry him. A woman likes to secure a man like him quickly by bedding him-" 

Madeline interrupted the lady, "Women like that must be truly insecure to think that the way to a man's heart is through sharing bed." 

The words that left her mouth left many of them speechless, and Lilith didn't bring out displeasure on her face, "Unfortunately, that's how some of them think," Lilith's voice lowered down. 

Calhoun, who stood there listening to the little exchange of words couldn't be anymore happier with Madeline's choice of words. One corner of his lips had pulled up to a cocky smile. 

Madeline wondered if the members of the High House held power more than just the word of status or if they carried abilities, that were not fully known to people. Lilith had black eyes, and she appeared to be human, but was she? Was she a demon like Raphael?

Her eyes glanced around the room, feeling several eyes on her and Lilith. The woman tipped her chin up with questioning eyes towards her. Beth was staring at what was happening while Markus, who stood next to her, he had a faint smile on his face. The Wilmot's were trying not just to diffuse the wedding, but they were trying to pull Calhoun down. 

After two more seconds, Madeline walked up to where Calhoun stood, and every person in the room witnessed what happened next. 

Madeline placed her hands on Calhoun's chest, and she stood on her toes as she craned her neck up. Calhoun met her halfway, his lips pressing the bold girl's lips. He could hear her heart beating in her chest rapidly.

It was a fleeting kiss, but enough to let the High House members know how she felt. 

It took everything in Madeline to not be embarrassed for doing something like this in front of strangers and her family. Turning around, she looked at Lilith.

"Is this enough proof?" asked Madeline to see the woman stare at her with her mouth slightly left ajar. 

Calhoun softly chuckled, and everyone's attention fell on him. He asked Dimitri, "What are these other accusations that you heard about me? Maybe we can speak about it after supper?" he proposed. 

"Yes, that sounds better. We wouldn't want to interrupt everyone's meal," replied Dimitri.

When everyone started to leave the courtroom, Madeline felt her knees go weak over her action, and she felt Calhoun place his hand on her back to support her.