✍️✍️✍️✍️ The Crown's Obsession Chapter 451 - 460 ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Fuel of Chaos- Part 3

In the mountains of Belmount where a secretive castle was built behind the caves, Madeline who was unconscious since she had left Devon was now strapped on to the table with her hands and legs bound. When her consciousness returned, Madeline looked at the ceiling, and her head turned to see a room that had pretty much to nothing which her vision allowed at the moment.

Madeline tried to free herself from the straps, but they were too tight. Where was she?! One moment she had seen Calhoun, and the next moment, everything had turned pitch black until she regained her consciousness. 

When she tried to use her ability, she felt her chest start to pain again and she finally gave up. Was she going to be sacrificed here? She tried to look for a window from where she was strapped. At the same time, Madeline heard someone humming a tune, and she caught sight of a young vampire whose oily hair was combed to the side.

"Hello! Please help me!" Madeline persuaded the young man who appeared to be sane looking.

The person looked surprised and looked at the girl he had strapped on the table himself. For a second more, they stared at each other, and Odin shouted, "Master! Master! She's awake, Master!" and he ran out of the room. 

"Wait!" Madeline called, but the person ran out of the room, his voice echoed and she wondered whom he was calling his Master. Moving her body as much as she could, she finally caught sight of a window, and all she could see through it was darkness. 

After a couple of minutes of silence, Madeline heard the sharp sound of shoes clicking against the floor before the person who had abducted her from the castle to this place appeared at the door. 

Vladimir stared at the girl whom his servant had tied so that she wouldn't have the chance to escape, not that she had the luck to do it in his presence. Being the oldest vampire and a devil, he didn't spare people that easily. 

"Odin," called Vladimir, "Raise the table to the front." 

"Yes, Master!" said the servant vampire. He went next to Madeline and started to rotate the handle that was connected to the table. The levers made creaking sounds, and Madeline felt the table's position started to change until the table stood upright, and she was in the standing position. 

"I saw you at the time of the wedding," said Madeline. If this person had killed Samuel, and Samuel didn't know who this person was, it only meant that this person wasn't working with Walter's group. "What do you want?" she asked him. 

Vladimir stood right in front of Madeline, looking into the brown-eyed girl. "Vengeance. That is what I want."

Madeline had no idea who this person was, and she said, "I am sure we can sit down or stand like this and try to sort out whatever issues you have." She knew Calhoun had killed many people, but she also knew there were some things she wasn't aware of because Calhoun wanted to protect her. 

"Can you bring a dead person back to life?" asked the man. 

Whom was he speaking about?

"As I thought, you cannot bring the dead back to life. You cannot heal the wounds that took place in the past. I lost my daughter all because of the King. And I think it is only right that I take what he holds dear to his heart. Don't you agree?" Vladimir asked Madeline. 

"I am sorry to hear that, but he might have some reason to do it. He-" 

"Using my daughter and throwing her away!" Vladimir's voice boomed in the room, shaking the windows. "How dare you mortals think you can do anything you want without any repentance," his voice fell low, and Madeline gulped. Which girl was he speaking about?? Madeline wasn't familiar with every kill Calhoun had until now, nor had she asked in-depth about his affairs with other women. 

"You should talk to him," said Madeline.

"I have no interest in that," Vladimir's features schooled down. "Don't worry, I won't kill you right away. But I will break every finger and toe of yours every day from now on, so that the King knows how it feels to have your loved one taken away. Odin!" 

And Odin dutifully grabbed a nearby device, pulling it next to the table before he caught hold of Madeline's hand. The device only had to be tightened manually, and the finger placed inside it would be chopped. 

Madeline could feel sweat forming on her forehead. The night was only turning worse, and she didn't know what to do.

"Please!" She pleaded, feeling the tension rise in her body and she struggled to keep the servant away by turning her hand into fist. When the servant vampire finally placed her finger inside the slot, her body started to shiver out of nervousness because she wasn't able take it out. "The world is already filled in chaos. You can make it a better place." She tried to drag the time by distracting the older vampire to avoid her finger being chopped. 

Vladimir raised his hand at Odin, and the servant looked back and forth before dropping his hands down from the device which he was going to tighten.

The older vampire scoffed, "Haven't you heard you should be bad with the bad? This world is worse than Hell, covered in deceit and lies where people decieve their own blood, ready to kill for materialistic values and powers." 

"Doesn't mean every person is like that," said Madeline and Vladimir gave her a nod. 

"Yes, my daughter was not like that. I raised her in a way as my wife would want her to grow up, but now I realise I raised her in a wrong way," stated Vladimir. "This world is a shitty place, and I don't care about others except for my own blood," he then raised his hand signalling Odin to continue with his job. 

Odin bowed his head, going back to place his hands on the lever...
Tick Tock- Part 1

Music Recommendation: He saw an opportunity by Nicholas Britell


Madeline felt the tension rise in her body, when she caught sight of the servant named Odin, who went to turn the lever one round after another, her heartbeat increased. A loud click was heard, and Madeline closed her eyes. A finger fell on the ground, and Odin let go of the lever as his Master had said one finger for a day. 

She anticipated the pain, waiting for it to shoot up from her finger to her arms before it would spread to her entire body, letting her know the excruciating pain. When she didn't feel it, she opened her eyes and looked at the finger that fell on the ground, that didn't belong to her. The colour of the finger was white, and it didn't have blood on it. 

Vladimir, who was waiting for the girl to start screaming, looked slightly disappointed. He was staring at the wall behind her before looking at her face that was calm but etched in fear. His eyes then fell on the ground to look at the finger that had fallen. 

"Odin," called Vladimir, and the servant turned to his Master. "How long has it been since you last cleaned this device?" 

Odin looked down at the finger, and his eyes widened, "It must be long, Master. Forgive me for my negligence. I shall get it cleaned right away!" The servant vampire picked up the old finger from the ground, and Madeline stared at it wide-eyed. The finger was cut into a perfect half, leaving a dark black circle of dried blood at one end. 

"Place her finger again in it," ordered Vladimir. 

Madeline didn't know if her torture was being prolonged or if she was getting an opportunity to speak so that she could continue to keep her fingers to herself. "Mr…." 

Vladimir turned back to look at the human. There was something funny about her, but the old vampire couldn't point out what it was. With his narrowed eyes, he said, "It's Lazarus. Vladimir Lazarus. I am sure you would like to know who is cutting your finger." 

She didn't know what to say to this. This vampire was crazy enough to take his ire on her, instead of punishing the person who was responsible. "Mr. Lazarus. I understand that you loved your daughter and that she was precious to you, but do you think she would like it if she were to know that you are torturing someone who had nothing to do with her death?" 

"She was naive when it came to her surroundings. It is why she even got into trouble by staying beside a man who was a worthless piece of shit," Vladimir didn't filter his words, speaking his mind out while Odin was refixing the device by oiling it so that he wouldn't step on his Master's last nerve. "I don't get how you even got married to him. Was it for the money? Or was it his looks that got you to marry him? How can you love a man who used and killed an innocent woman? Aren't you afraid that he will do the same to you?" 

Madeline shook her head, "Because I know he won't leave me for another woman. He is nothing like his father. I do agree that he was quite a..." she paused, trying to find a suitable word.

"Bastard?" Vladimir filled in the word. 

"When I first met him, he was cruel and insensitive about my feelings," explained Madeline. "I know he hasn't done things that would warrant him a ticket to heaven, instead, he would end up straight in Hell for the things he has done and said." 

"I will be extra good to him when he visits Hell soon," hummed Vladimir, waiting to be satisfied by avenging his daughter's death and to save the last part of her honour.

Madeline didn't understand what Vladimir meant by that, but she didn't stop talking. "Yes, you can do that, but no person is perfect. We all have our flaws. He isn't the person he appears to be. I have seen things, some in my dreams which I question if it's real and that is what happened to him."

"What do you say your flaw is, girl?" questioned Vladimir, humouring the human before she would start screaming in agony. Humans were fragile creatures. Even a prick of a pin had them screaming. 

"Would it be a flaw to fall in love?" Madeline asked the question in return to have Vladimir smile. 

"You do understand that emotions are something that can be made use of. If the King loves you, it will only make, sending him your fingers each day will be that much exciting before I send just your head," hearing this Madeline gulped. It seemed like soon she would have no fingers. No one knew who Vladimir was, and Calhoun would not be able to find her. 

Seeing Odin place his hands back again on the lever, Madeline pursed her lips.

"Master, it is all set," informed the servant. Madeline decided to take her words back that she had thought earlier about this person being sane. The servant was insane enough to agree with his master to break her limbs!

"Why didn't you do something about it? When your daughter met the King and stayed next to him, you could have prevented it!" Madeline spoke again. With the way Vladimir looked at her, it felt as if she would lose her tongue any moment now, but if the vampire was going to kill her in the end, it was better to speak than stay mum. 

Vladimir's eyes turned dark, and he stepped forward threateningly, "You think I would have let her stay next to that filthy vampire King if I knew something was going on between them? By the time I woke up, she was gone, and the servants who were supposed to watch over her, she had slipped past their nose." 

So he had slept in the night, and in the morning she was not there? 

"You could have looked for her in the morning once you woke up," Madeline scrunched her eyebrows.
Tick Tock- Part 2

On the other hand, Odin was scared for himself and the girl. The mere human was challenging his master with questions which didn't happen often. Even if people didn't know who Vladimir was, the humans had always steered clear of the devil. 

If it was possible, Vladimir's eyes turned smaller than before, and he spoke through his gritted teeth, "Because I slept in terms of years, and not for a single night. By the time I woke up, she was already dead. My dear innocent daughter. This world doesn't deserve people like her, and I wished that she had killed someone to warrant her soul to go to Hell, instead of Heaven." 

How strange that this vampire wanted his daughter to spend her time in Hell and not in Heaven, thought Madeline to herself. 

"You didn't do a good job in protecting her. Maybe if you treated her the way she wanted, she would have returned to you," said Madeline, her eyes lowering down and she muttered, "Some of you never do it right." She said, thinking about her angelic father, "Even my father didn't do a good job when it came to protecting me."

"Because he offered your hand in marriage to the King?" humoured Vladimir. Odin who had been waiting for his Master's word to rotate the lever again dropped his hands to his side. 

A small smile appeared on Madeline's lips. She shook her head, "He didn't protect me the way he should have protected. And things are not the way it seems to be. If I hadn't met Calhoun again during the time of Hallow, and if I didn't stay in the castle, I think I would be resting in the coffin now, or worse dead." 

Wasn't resting in the coffin and being dead one and the same? questioned Vladimir in his mind. Unless the girl was a vampire like him, who enjoyed sleeping in his warm and comfortable coffin. 

"What do you mean in the coffin?" inquired Vladimir, "You don't seem to be the type who has done anything bad to end up in the coffin." He looked at her closely, noticing how brown her eyes were without a speck of red colour in them. "Speak. I don't think you will be stepping out of this place. Your secrets will be safe with us." Staying in this lonely castle and away from people who were nosey, it had been long since Vladimir had heard anything interesting. 

"My grandparents have tried to put me in the coffin. Making me sleep there," said Madeline carefully. 

"Your grandparents must be knowing how good a coffin feels like. Did they have no beds to spare for you?" questioned Vladimir with a chuckle. 

"They couldn't kill me, which was why they hoped I would stay put in the coffin," hearing the words come from the human's mouth, Odin was sure that this girl was feeding his Master with bizarre stories. 

"Why did they want to kill you? Pity that your own blood wanted you dead," Vladimir tsked. "You do seem a little strange for a human. Something very peculiar yet familiar like I know but I just can't put my finger on. What is it?"

"Will you let me go if I tell you the truth?" Madeline tried to bargain for her life and fingers. 

"Foolish creature. You think your little story is more valuable compared to my daughter, who was killed?" Vladimir's words were not a question to Madeline. "Don't try to push your luck."

"Let me help you with it," said Madeline and the vampire stared at her with a blank expression. "Not every retriubition will bring peace to yourself. Sometimes talking it out, and letting your thoughts out with the other person helps. If you do kill me and the King. What if you do not find the peace that you are looking for or the revenge as you spoke of?" 

"I will drag the person from Hell and torture again. Don't underestimate my hobby of tormenting, especially when it comes to people who have crossed me," smiled Vladimir. "Odin, you can continue turning the lever!" 

"Wait!" Madeline shouted alarmed. "I am a fallen angel." 

Vladimir stared at Madeline for a second and said, "Good. And I am the devil." Did he take it as a joke? asked Madeline to herself. Odin looked worried if he should start turning the lever or not as his Master and the girl were still speaking back and forth. "Do you want me to break your limbs, Odin?" on his Master's words, Odin started to turn the lever for it to make a creaking sound.

Realizing her mistake, she quickly corrected at the end second, "Not fallen angel! But a dark angel!" and she felt the pressure on her finger, making her close her eyes in pain. 

Vladimir raised his hand for Odin to stop. "What did you say?" 

Madeline opened her eyes, her breath ragged because of fear, "I-I am the dark angel..." She didn't know if the vampire understood what she said, but considering how some people knew about her, she hoped he would not break her finger. 

"Prove it," said Vladimir. Both of them stared at each other, and Madeline tried to get out of the straps but she only spewed blood from her mouth. "For a dark angel you are weak," he remarked. 

Madeline had made use of all her strength in her body to save Lucy's life, but in the end, even that didn't work, and she felt nothing but pain. She saw the vampire turn to have his back faced at her, and he took a couple of steps away from her. 

"Do you know what a dark angel means?" she heard Vladimir question her. 

If he had heard of the existence of dark angel, it only meant he was aware of it. "The child who was born to Paschar and the human."

Vladimir seemed pleased with her answer, but not satisfied with it. He turned back to face her, watching the human who claimed to be a dark angel, and some of her words made sense now when it came to her being placed in the coffin. 

"I am surprised you aren't dead yet," he smiled and Madeline didn't know if his response was a good or a bad thing. 
Tick Tock- Part 3

"Odin," Vladimir called his servant, and Odin thought his master wanted him to complete turning the lever. Thankfully he didn't, because his Master said, "Go get me a cup of blood tea. I can spare some time for some chit chat, and it seems like the night hasn't moved much since the time we left."

Being the dutiful servant he was, Odin bowed his head, leaving behind Madeline and Vladimir in the room. 

"Now I see," it dawned in Vladimir's mind. "I was wondering why there were uninvited guests in the castle, but this explains it." Suddenly, Vladimir started to laugh like someone had told him a joke, and his laughter echoed through the almost empty room. Madeline felt uncomfortable as it sounded malicious to her ears. 

Vladimir would have never guessed that, he would be meeting the dark angel today. Though he had heard a lot about the dark angel and the powers that came with it, he had never bothered to find it like the rest. Vladimir didn't chase after things that others did. He had always been different, and it was because of Paschar did he realize how right his decision was, even if others saw it to be going against the Heavens. 

"Where is Paschar?" asked Vladimir, and Madeline shook her head. 

"I don't know." The last she had met Paschar was back in the church's library in the village of Cossginton, and after that, the angel had not come back to meet her again. "Wait. How do you know about him?" 

The smile on Vladimir's lips broadened, "You can say that we go way back in time. I heard how he joined Heaven again, but if I were him, I would have not bothered because the Heavens have reduced his angelic abilities while also lowering his position. Don't you believe in the saying, if you are doing something, do it right else don't fucking do it? I do sympathize with you. Your life must have been rough, and you ended up with the King-"

"Calhoun is a good person to me!" defended Madeline, "And I will be forever grateful to have met and known him. Things and people change Mr. Lazarus along with situations. You must have heard the saying: To know a person, you need to go up close and then find how he or she is. Calhoun wouldn't have killed her-"

Vladimir's eyes turned cold, "The villagers have already testified that it was he who killed my daughter." At the same time, Odin appeared holding blood tea in his hand for his Master and offered it to Vladimir. The servant went back to stand next to Madeline, readying himself to turn the lever. Vladimir stared at the red blood and said, "Constance was the only person who mattered to me. I had no one else."

Hearing this, the loyal servant's eyes slowly moved to look at his master and Vladimir rolled his eyes. "You are not my daughter, Odin." 

Madeline frowned, hearing the name and whispered, "Constance?" 

Her eyes widened, and it snapped at Vladimir. Her lips parted to speak, but she couldn't get any words out of her mouth. It was like a sudden rush of thoughts that had blocked her thinking process. 

"I-Is this the Belmont area?" Madeline whispered the question. 

"The only Belmont that is present in Devon," replied Vladimir. He was ready to signal Odin to finish the process of breaking her finger when Madeline rushed her words,

"You have got the wrong person! The King you are looking for isn't him but his father!" 

"You are lying," Vladimir scowled at her. 

Madeline continued to stare at Vladimir. If Constance was Calhoun's mother, and if what this vampire said before was true, then that would mean this was Calhoun's grandfather who had been hibernating! He did say he was sleeping when his daughter had disappeared! 

Seeing how Madeline stared at him, Vladimir turned his eyes at Odin, "Is this true?" 

Odin quickly shook his head and bowed, "I asked the villagers, and they said it was the King who was with Lady Constance and put her out of the castle before killing her."

"There's an inaccuracy in there!" said Madeline. "The King of Devon indeed hurt Lady Constance, but the King you are looking for is dead." 

Vladimir was not happy hearing that the person he wanted to torture was not alive. "You are telling me that the current King didn't kill my daughter? Calhoun Hawthrone?" 

Hearing how Madeline's heart skipped a beat, Vladimir looked at her with rage filling back up in his eyes, and he closed the space between them and caught hold of her neck. "Are you trying to save him." 

Madeline felt the cold fingers of the vampire around her neck, and she closed her eyes.

"Calhoun didn't kill her because he wanted to. He was forced to do it so that he could end her sufferings. He loved his mother, Mr. Lazarus," she whispered before he could squeeze her neck. 

Vladimir let go of his hand instantly, "What did you just say?" He would have ripped the person's gut for trying to make a joke about his daughter, but he sensed that this girl was speaking the truth. 

Madeline slowly opened her eyes, "Your daughter left Belmont and never returned because for a few years she lived in the Hawthrone's castle with the previous King before she was forced to leave the castle. It was only a few days ago did I find out that someone tried to get rid of your daughter because of her closeness with the previous King. The person presented her a cursed chain that deteriorated your daughter's health over the years, before she couldn't take it anymore, Calhoun ended her pain. If you are looking for revenge, you should catch hold of that person, who presented the cursed chain and not Calhoun."

Vladimir turned his gaze at Odin, who looked as if he was ready to pass out. "I will go verify the information, Master!" and he turned to a bat, disappearing from the room. 

Madeline then said, "The current King, my husband, whom you intend to kill, he is your grandson." And the straps that had been holding her suddenly opened, letting her free.

 "I have a grandson," murmured Vladimir, who took a few steps away from her as he immersed into a deep thought.

Madeline pulled her hand out of the device, rubbing her wrists. Out of curiosity, she asked, "When did you meet the angel Paschar?" 

Vladimir's eyes went back at the human before he responded, "When I was still in Heaven, living there. I haven't met him after I left, thought I would meet him here but the fucker went back to Heaven." At the same time, a white cat appeared in the room, and it walked towards Vladimir. "Meet Lucy with the Fur. She takes after my name. She misses Constance's presence." 

With the chaos and the other crazy things that had taken place, Madeline took time to join the dots and she stared at the man in the room. "Y-you are the angel who turned to the dark side." 

Vladimir didn't answer her question, but he had a frown on his face.

"If he is my grandson, that would mean you are my granddaughter-in-law. An angel," he stated, and then a wide smile spread across his lips. Seeing the smile, Madeline could tell that Calhoun had acquired his features from his grandfather. "My grandson married an angel. How wonderful." 
Drink your tea soon! - Part 1

Music Recommendation: Journey Sequence by Max Richter


In the castle, as the fight went on between the demons, fallen angels and the people who lived in the castle, Beth had fallen unconscious in the garden after transforming back to her human self from her werewolf form. 

The demons who were searching for the dark angel, waiting to abduct her, looked for her in the rooms and other places in the castle, not knowing Madeline was in the royal rooms corridor and not in her quarters. 

"Where are Walter and Samuel?" asked one of the demons who was waiting to sacrifice the girl for their use. 

Another man, who was a fallen angel and a relative of the Queen, who went by the name Braylon, said, "Samuel disappeared when we entered the castle. The bugger must have gone to find his wife. Greyson is not going to be happy when he hears this." Braylon was Mary's husband, where his wife had gone missing since she had come to visit the castle. "I am going to look for Mary." 

"Fucker, do you think we are here to find each other's wives?" asked the demon with a sneer. "We need to look for the dark angel, anything that stands in our way or causes trouble shall be killed." 

Two guards appeared at the end of the corridor, ready to attack them but before that, the demons pulled out their guns, shooting the vampires head and saw them fall. 

"Fjor," called Braylon, "I will go this way to see if Greyson has found her." 

The demon nodded his head, "I will see if I can get hold of this King, about whom I have been hearing a lot." The demon's eyes were bright red, and a smile etched on his lips. But once they did part ways in search of the dark angel, Fjor found someone lying on the ground outside, a girl and his eyes narrowed. 

He walked towards the girl and turned the girl to see she was unconscious and her clothes were tattered. At the same time, a guard who was running to help the other guards and caught sight of the demon and the girl, and exclaimed, "Lady Harris!" 

The demon's eyes narrowed and he looked down at the girl. Harris? Wasn't that Mary's brother's last name? Did that mean this was the dark angel? Asked the demon to himself.

Elizabeth's body was still under transformation, so when the demon had found her, her hair was still golden brown, which was the colour of her werewolf's coat. 

"Get away from the lady!" warned the guard, who held a spear in his hand. But as the guard tried to get close to protect the lady, Fjor shot last bullet into the guard's forehead. 

"Look at that. I turned all lucky," said Fjor. He got another demon to get the ropes so that he could tie her hands and legs before putting her in the gunny bag which they had already prepared before stepping into the castle. Carrying the girl on his shoulder, he decided to look for Greyson as there was no point staying in the castle, fighting the others. 

"Who do you have there, Fjor?" asked Greyson who had only recently slit a guard's throat for blood to splash down on the floor. 

"I have got the dark angel," said Fjor confidently and the other demon narrowed his eyes.

"Are you sure?" questioned Greyson. "You were standing outside, and she fell in front of your feet to be caught?" The last time some of his people had gone to Cossington to get the dark angel, things had turned awry. He had lost some of his fellow demons who were useful because of their stupidity. 

"Didn't you say golden brown hair and that she's a beauty. Her clothes are rich, and it was tattered. She possibly fell unconscious when she was trying to protect herself. What was that called, the power burst?" asked Fjor. 

"I will still need to see her to confirm if it is her or not," said Greyson. Today was the night of the golden moon, but for some reason, the moon had not shown up in the sky, and it was making him restless. 

"Master!" suddenly came a voice from the other of the corridor, and both Greyson and Fjor went to see who it was. They caught sight of a young-looking vampire who had his hair oiled and combed to the side. "Where did master disappear?" asked the man. 

Fjor turned to look at Greyson with an uninterested look on his face. "Seems like a lost duck." At the same time, Beth, who was regaining consciousness, started to move and tried to get free from the binds. She fell on the ground who was inside the gunny bag. "Fuck, she's strong!" exclaimed Fjor, trying to keep the girl down. Not knowing what else to do, he raised his hand and plummeted his hand at the end of the gunny bag, knowing it was where the girl's head was, and the girl's movements stopped again. 

The other demon, Greyson, who had seen Fjor struggle to keep the girl still, could only believe that this was the dark angel. He felt an ominous feeling when he caught sight of the vampire looking for someone amid the chaos of blood and fighting in the castle. Greyson was no a mere demon, but he was one of the preachers in Hell. He had been looking to gain powers and dethrone the devil for so long, and the dark angel was the one who could make his wish come true. 

"Do you know who that is?" questioned Greyson, and Fjor at the same moment hoisted the gunny bag back on his shoulder. 

"The thin vampire?" asked Fjor, his eyes looked back and forth to make sure they were not going to be attacked by anyone. "Are we leaving? Our work is done here, Greyson." 

"It's time to leave," and in a blink of an eye, both the demons along with the girl turned to smoke without a trace of them being there a few seconds ago. 
Drink your tea soon! - Part 2

When the demons arrived at their hideouts by apparating back from the castle, most of them hadn't as they were dead and lying on the ground with torn heads or bullets in their head, Fjor dropped the dark angel on the ground. 

"What about the others?" asked one of the demonesses who had stayed back at the old ruins of the mansion. 

"They are still in the castle, and didn't heed to the call when we left," responded Greyson, not bothered if the demons who had gone along with him were dead. There were other things to bother, and useless lower demons were not of his concern right now. "Get the girl on the table. Once the moon is out, we will be starting the ritual. Did you get the silver knife?" he asked the demoness.

"Yes, it is ready," she answered, and they pulled out a large table and placed it in the hall. The table was carved in markings with a pentagon designed on it and some words were written in demon language. Greyson watched Fjor and a fallen angel getting the girl out of the gunny bag before they put her on the table. 

"Tie her down with the binds. We don't want her lash out in the middle of the sacrifice," informed Fjor, and the demons got the ropes to tie the girl. As they put her in place, one of them asked,

"Why are her clothes torn? If it weren't for the fabric of the dress, I would have thought that she's a maid." 

Fjor rolled his eyes, "This is the girl. Do you know how volatile dark angels are? They can harm their own body because of the power a dark angel possesses. Don't touch her hands and be careful. Unless you want to end up dead with blood splattered around."

"Let me see. She's still unconscious," said a confident demon, when Greyson threw a stone at the demon. 

"Do as you are told and stay away from her hands. Walter said the last two times when her dark angel abilities appeared, she killed a whole bunch of demons and then a third level demon," said Greyson. "Now get to your job and stop wasting time!" he glared at the demons who quietly went back to continue their work. Candles were lit in the room and around the table, readying for the ritual. 

Greyson couldn't shake the thought of the vampire, whom he had encountered in the castle. His eyes widened when he realized who it was. It was the servant of their Lord. Thinking about this, he gritted his teeth. There was no way the devil existed. He hadn't shown up in years, and the demons only believed that he had been smote by an angel's trident. 

Maybe that fool of a servant found a new master to work under. Greyson didn't want to believe that the devil was in the castle at the same time when he was in there. This would only mean that they would need to get the sacrifice done as soon as they could. 

"Bring the soothsayer in here," ordered Greyson. He stood at the window, looking at the sky that was heavily clouded. When the soothsayer was brought in, he shuffled the sticks that were made from bones. "Why has the moon not appeared? You said tonight is the time where the moon would show up." The demon was not happy that the soothsayer had given him wrong information. 

The soothsayer bowed his head, "The moon should have come by now. I don't know why there's a delay but tonight is supposed to be the full moon night. Let me see." Shuffling the bones in both his hands, he then threw it in his bowl. 

"What does it say?" asked Fjor, his eyes watching the soothsayer who pursed his lips. 

"I don't know how it happened, but someone is delaying the time of the moon from appearing in the sky," replied the soothsayer. 

"Delaying?" Greyson looked at the soothsayer as if he grown two pairs of head. "You cannot fucking stop the moon from appearing. It is not a person but part of the heavenly stars." The soothsayer shook his head. 

"Someone must have meddled with it," explained the soothsayer, "Right now something is blocking the moon. If the moon doesn't appear, the day won't come by. It's like the time has frozen." 

Fjor stared at the unconscious girl who was lying on the table, and then back to look at the soothsayer, "You sure about it? What if today is not the day." 

"We cannot extend the time. Even if the moon doesn't appear in the sky, we shall still go ahead with the sacrifice. It might not be to the full potential, but it will be enough to give all of us abilities," explained Greyson. He didn't know when the dark angel would wake up and what harm she was capable of. "We'll wait for three more hours before we start the ritual," he declared, and the demons agreed as they could hardly wait to recieve new powers. 

Far away from the hideout, and in the mountains of Belmont, Vladimir had Madeline sit down on the chair with a cup of tea in each of their hands, while Odin begged for his Master's forgiveness.

"Master! I didn't mean any harm! It was the villager's fault!" 

Odin had replaced Madeline's previous place, and the servant vampire was strapped on the table. 

Madeline was more than worried about the servant while also wondering what was going on back in the castle. This was no time to be drinking tea and catching up on things, but Vladimir had waved his hand and got her to sit right away.

Madeline looked back and forth between the old vampire and then at Odin who didn't look like he was struggling to get out, but he was asking forgiveness from Vladimir for not getting the correct information. Vladimir, who had picked up his teacup, took his own sweet time to sip the blood. With the time amount of time he had kept the cup near his mouth, Madeline was sure he would have finished the entire cup and asked for a refill, but when she saw the teacup being placed back at the table, outwardly, she had a passive look. It didn't look like he even took one whole sip, and she said,

"Mr. Lazarus-"

"You can call me Vlad," he corrected her. 

Madeline offered him an awkward smile, "Vlad," she said to hear him hum in response.

"You have barely touched your tea. Don't you like it?" asked Vladimir and then looked at Odin. "Have you not put enough milk in it, Odin?" 

"No, it's not that. I need to return to the castle right now," said Madeline in an urgent voice. 

"Don't worry if Calhoun is my grandson, which he is. Then he will come looking for you. We can all have blood tea together," proposed the old vampire. 

Madeline wasn't sure if Vladimir was testing her. Clutching her hand, she said, "My sister is in danger. She will transform into a complete werewolf, and I might not be able to save her in time. Please, Vlad." 
Drink your tea soon! - Part 3

Back in the Hawthrone's castle, Paschar, who had sniffed the scent of the person in the air had a big frown on his face and his lips set itself in a thin line. It had been ages since he had sensed and smelt this person's scent in the air. He looked around the corridor, taking a short walk and whispered,

 "I think I know who took Madeline from here."

Calhoun hearing this, stopped speaking to Raphael and turned his attention to the angel, "Who is it?" 

"He is the fallen angel of Heaven," answered Paschar. Was he here to make use of Madeline's dark angel abilities? "It has been a while since I last heard anything about him. Nobody knows where he went or what he's up to because when we sent some people to find him, they didn't find him in Hell. People barely heard about it, and he almost turned out to be a myth. But we angels know that he wasn't a made up person."

Calhoun gritted his teeth, and his eyes narrowed, he demanded, "Do you know where he lives?" It had been quite some time since Madeline had been taken away. At the same time, they didn't know how Elizabeth was doing. 

"I don't know where he lives. He's the fallen one, which was why most of us stopped keeping contact with him. He changed his appearance and the way he is. The angel who once was loved and kept close to God, he fell to the dark side," replied Paschar. 

If Paschar had no clue where this fallen angel was or lived, Calhoun would have to find Madeline with his strength and intelliegence. Minutes had passed, and he didn't want to waste more time. The demons and the other fallen one's were waiting for the moon to appear so that they could cut out Madeline's heart from her chest and then use it for sacrifice. 

"You said you know where the demon's hideout is?" Calhoun questioned Paschar. "I will go and find Madeline, but in return, I need you to get my men near the hideout and make sure nothing happens to the girl, who has been abducted from here. Can you do that?" 

Paschar had an unwilling look on his face, "You need to know that I cannot involve myself in the fight, and the most I can do is, guide you to that place." 

"That will be enough," chimed Raphael. "We'll take care from there."

Calhoun didn't know how Madeline had ended to have unreliable family members. "Raphael," Calhoun raised his hand, and Raphael placed his hand on Calhoun's hand. A thin golden thread appeared around their hands to tie around their arms before it disappeared. "Now I will know if you are near."

When Calhoun's wings spread out from his back, and Paschar's eyes widened at the sight of it. Demons didn't have feathered wings, and it was only the angels who possessed them. 

Calhoun closed his eyes, and when he opened them, they were pitch black as if he was relying on his demon blood. The wings flapped, and Calhoun soared up in the sky while trying to get the scent of the vampire who had appeared in front of him, instead of picking on Madeline's scent where the rose-like smell had disappeared. 

The night was cold because of the snow, but it didn't matter to him. Instead of flying up in the sky, Calhoun had chosen to move closer to the land, picking up every single trace of the intruder. His wings moved relentlessly, and he moved in a speed which he had never moved before because of the worry that hung over his mind if Madeline was alright. 

It took half the time before he finally reached the forest that he and Theodore had once stepped into when they were young, but had never crossed it. Under the night sky, Calhoun's black wings flapped before he came near the mountains and caught sight of the cave that was built cleverly, but not enough to hide from his eyes. Near the forest ground, he caught sight of the dead bodies. Following the trail, he finally landed in front of the cave. 

When he saw the cave's passage it reminded him of one of his mother's drawings. 

Calhoun closed his eyes, stopping his footsteps to smell the scent of rose drift in the air and he could sensed she was here.

Back inside the castle cave, Madeline hadn't touched her teacup, and she felt her heart quicken its pace as if letting her know someone dear to her had appeared. Her head snapped to look in the direction where she sensed him. 

"He's here, isn't he?" Vladimir asked her who was enjoying his cup of blood. He ran his tongue over the seam of his lips. "Let me see how strong he is. It would be a shame if I found out he isn't my blood." The cup made a small clatter of sound on the saucer, and Madeline could tell that there was still a hint of doubt in Vladimir's mind if Calhoun was truly his grandson. 

They were running out of time! 

"What do you plan to do?" questioned Madeline, and she saw the vampire stand up from his chair. 

"Talk. Why?" Vladimir offered a smile to Madeline, and in a blink of an eye, he disappeared from where he stood, while allowing Odin free from the straps. 

When Vladimir appeared at the top of the stairs, he saw the boy had already entered his castle while leaving two bodies behind at the entrance. Dead. His dark red eyes narrowed, and he stared at his kin, who his deceased daughter had left behind. He wondered how he had missed noticing the same characteristics passed down from him to his daughter, and then to this boy. 

Calhoun noticed the vampire standing at the top, and he asked, "Where's Madeline?" 

Vladimir continued to stare at Calhoun in awe, thinking this one was his own blood. He replied, "She's drinking tea."
Apple and the tree- Part 1

Music Recommendation: Leaks and Lawsuits by Tim Wynn


When Madeline got up and was ready to leave the room where she had been sitting in, before she could leave the room, the door itself shut close, and she tried to get it open. What was that old bat thinking?! Turning around, her eyes met the servant vampire who had been barely tortured and was let free before Vladimir had disappeared from the room with a blink of an eye. 

She had heard a lot of lore when it came to the fallen angel who had gone against Heaven, rebelling and raising his own world with his power such that the world now shared the good and the bad. 

"Do you know how to open this?" Madeline asked Odin, who quickly made his way to where she was and tried to shake the knob of the door, but the door appeared to be locked as he couldn't open it. 

She looked around the room to find something, so that she could break the door and get out to meet Calhoun. Though Vladimir said he was only going to speak to Calhoun, his first sentence had mentioned about seeing how strong Calhoun was, which meant a fight would break between them and who knew who would get hurt because of it. 

On the front side of the cave-like castle, Calhoun glared at the vampire who had abducted Madeline right in front of him. Since the moment she had stepped into his life, he had made sure to see that no one would come to harm her. Every hurtful words and every evil look that had been passed at his woman had received punishments by either beheading them or gauging their eyes out of their face. 

Was he playing with him by telling Madeline was drinking tea when in truth she was tied somewhere in this cave? Asked Calhoun in his mind. 

"Did you think I wouldn't find you or her?" questioned Calhoun, his hands dripped blood because of the recent kills. He didn't have the time to play around as he wanted to rescue his woman from here, while also to kill the bastard who had dared to think he could take Madeline away from him. 

Instead of answering Vladimir continued to stare at his grandson. If one knew Vladimir, they would have seen his eyes sparkle in pride. His beautiful daughter Constance had left this world, but she had left a son behind. 

"I thought that you wouldn't, but after a little talk with the girl, I was waiting when you would come," Vladimir tapped his finger on the railings, watching Calhoun get annoyed. "I would have been truly disappointed if you didn't come here in the next hour."

"Where is Madeline?" Calhoun repeated his question. He wanted to take her to a safe place before he would deal with this person. 

Vladimir smiled, making his hair proper at the side, "I told you. She is drinking tea," came his steady voice only to receive a glare from Calhoun. 

It seemed like this person was not going to give in the information, and there was only one way to get to Madeline, which was by defeating this man. Before Calhoun could tell something, the vampire who stood at the top of the stairs said, "Don't worry, she knows that you are here."

"It takes less than a minute to complete drinking tea, unless you are drinking at a snail's pace and you just gave her to drink right now," stated Calhoun. He noticed the vampire step down as he walked down the stairs one after another while the two men kept eyes on each other. 

"Tea is supposed to be relished. You should try the tea that my servant Odin makes. Let the girl have her tea, and we can have some talk," said Vladimir with delight in his voice. Within a second, the vampire disappeared before he even placed his foot on the ground to come and stand in front of Calhoun. Vladimir brought his hand forward to catch hold of Calhoun, but the latter in return blocked Vladimir's hand. "Hm, your reflex seems alright," Vladimir looked at his grandson with his eyes that had a passive look. "Let's see what else you have acquired." 

The next second, Vladimir went to attack Calhoun, who continued to block him before retaliating back by trying to attack Vladimir. 

Calhoun noticed how the stranger enjoyed fighting with him. 

He raised his hand and continued to attack the vampire who was smiling, making the situation that much vexing. Before the person could get an advantage, Calhoun tried to throw the vampire against the wall. He fought a lot of people until now, but he sensed that this person in front of him was merely making use of his abilities. As when Calhoun had thrown Vladimir, the older vampire was back on his feet. 

"Madeline!" Calhoun called Madeline's name, hoping she would let him know that she was safe and he could take his time to kill this devil. 

"You worry for nothing," said Vladimir before saying, "I didn't introduce myself." 

"I know who you are," answered Calhoun, and this brought light in Vladimir's eyes like a small boy who was looking forward to Christmas. 

Vladimir asked, "You do?" his head slightly tilted, and the smile on his lips faltered in anticipation. Had his daughter spoken about him? Of course, she would have. It was only right to let his grandson know that he had an amazing grandfather. 

"You are the fallen angel from Heaven, who descended to Hell," came the sharp words from Calhoun. If what Paschar had said about this person who was the fallen angel, Calhoun knew he would have to be careful as he was up against the devil. 

"I believe ascending the throne in Hell is much more suitable, unless you believe Heaven is right and Hell is wrong," remarked Vladimir. He then raised his hand, and with one snap of his fingers Calhoun was thrown at the wall that left a huge hole with dust that lifted itself in the air. When the dust finally started to settle, Vladimir's eyes narrowed as he could tell that Calhoun was not there. A smile spread on both the men's lips, and Calhoun appeared behind Vladimir, and made use of his elbow against the devil's back, and Vladimir staggered. 

"I don't give a fuck about Heaven or Hell," Calhoun didn't stop and continued to attack the man relentlessly, their hands moving against each other to attack the other. 

"Of course, you only care about the girl. I planned on cutting her fingers earlier, and a finger fell," Vladimir provoked Calhoun, throwing more logs of woods in the already blazing fire. 

Hearing the words, Calhoun gritted his teeth and then used his demon ability to draw out fire from the torches on the walls, directing it at Vladimir. 

"What are you planning to do with Madeline? Use her for her dark angel abilities?" questioned Calhoun in between the fight. He successfully burnt the older vampire who was covered in fire now, but the next moment, the fire exhausted and Vladimir who had been left with blood and bones, his skin started to reappear and make him look as he did before the fire engulfed him. 
Apple and the tree- Part 2

Vladimir offered Calhoun a smile, "You said you knew me. You should know why I have her here. I wouldn't keep her here for some shitty reason like the dark angel's abilities." 

"Paschar said otherwise," Calhoun responded, and the name of the angel was enough to have Vladimir roll his eyes, and he used his gifted abilities to test his grandson. The knives that were in the showcase that were hung on the wall, the outer glass broke into pieces, and they came flying at Calhoun to attack him. 

Calhoun deflected them one after another, not knowing that the knives would rise from the ground and continue to attack him from all the sides. One knife went to pierce through his arm, and Vladimir looked pleased. 

"I am Vladimir Lazarus, Calhoun," Vladimir introduced himself. When he pulled out the knife, blood dripped down from Calhoun's arm and he used the same thing to attack Vladimir. "The same tricks doesn't work on me. I heard you killed your mother."

Though Madeline had told Calhoun didn't have any other option but to kill Constance, Vladimir still wanted to find the truth through this boy's words. If this boy killed his daughter, Vladimir would not let it pass this easily, even if it meant Calhoun was his grandson. He would torture and kill Calhoun himself, thought Vladimir in his mind. 

With both the men who were related to each other and the apple that fell right next to the tree, Calhoun said, "Yes, I killed her." All these years since the time of his mother's death, people had done nothing but blame him, telling how he was the one who had killed her while the people said how his father had committed a lesser sin by only throwing her out of the castle. "I twisted the muscles of her heart, and squashed it in my hands to see the life leave from her body."

Vladimir, who had been calm until now, his eyes flared suddenly, and the emotion of rage took over his face. "I wouldn't expect anything less from you," he snarled, and the air that was in the castle started to turn heavy before it turned as a fast-moving wind to shake the things around them. "Why did you kill her?" 

Calhoun didn't know why this angel was interested in his mother's death. "Haven't you heard about keeping your nose out of matters that don't concern you?" 

"It is why I have such a long nose. I am a curious being," Vladimir offered him a smile. 

Back in the room where Madeline was with Odin, trying to open the lock, she went back to the table where the devices were present to pull out a wire and bringing it to the lock. But that didn't help either.

"Is there no way to get the door opened?"

"We can break it," Odin offered his suggestion, but he doubted his Master would be happy to have a broken door. 

"Break it then," Madeline decided to take the route of damaging the wooden door, and Odin's eyes turned wide. "Right now!" she said with a frown. 

Odin quickly went to pick up one of the larger devices and started to hit the doorknob for it to fall on the ground. Madeline opened the door to finally step out and she tried to search where Calhoun and Vladimir were right now.

The cave-like castle was something she had never seen before, as the walls were rocky and jagged, almost grey. Torches were placed on the walls, burning brightly that showed her the way through the empty corridors. When she turned around to see if Odin was with her, she realized he had disappeared. She didn't go back to find him but continued to walk down the long spiral stairs while searching where Calhoun was. 

Time was scarce, but Vladimir wanted to get acquainted with his grandson, while Beth's life hung on a fragile thread. 

Remembering something, her footsteps stopped. She wondered if this was the cave where the antidote existed. Did Vladimir know about it? Or did he possess it?

When Madeline did end up at the top of the other stairs to the hall, she caught sight of Calhoun and Vladimir, who were creating a mess below. Both of them continued fighting with each, trying to hit the other, and she wondered if the older vampire was only playing or if he was out to get Calhoun's blood on his hands. 

She heard Vladimir question Calhoun, "You know I put your beloved's finger in the device to cut, and the finger fell." 

This increased Calhoun's anger, and he picked up the knives that had earlier fallen on the ground. The metal started to heat up in his hand until it started to burn orange in colour. Not wasting a second, Calhoun's hands started to swipe the hot knives at Vladimir, and the older vampire finally received the cuts on his face and chest. But instead of this action demotivating Vladimir, feeling the cuts only increased his excitement. 

Before Calhoun could sink the knife into Vladimir's eyes, Madeline shouted, "Wait!" 

"Never lose attention," remarked Vladimir and he caught hold of the knife that was in Calhoun's hand. Twisting his grandson's hand, he pushed the knife straight into Calhoun's shoulder to hear Calhoun hiss in pain.

But Calhoun was not done. He picked up another knife, heating it up in his hand. Just when Vladimir turned to meet Madeline's eyes, Calhoun pushed the knife right into the devil's face, leaving a knife sticking out. 

Madeline's eyes widened, and she quickly ran down the stairs, but the men were not done with each other. Calhoun's face was marred in anger while Vladimir looked as if he was enjoying his time. 

Madeline looked around the room and caught sight of the glass pieces on the ground, the one thing she had been practicing. Before either of them could try to harm each other, she built the glass wall between them to have it broken again that left an impact, having both the men thrown back from their places. 
Apple and the tree- Part 3

Madeline finally reached the last step of the stairs, and she quickly went to Calhoun's side, and pulling out the knife that was in the shoulder and saw blood drip down from there. She was ready to turn and ask Vladimir on what was wrong with his head, when she caught sight of the knife that was stuck in Vladimir's face. 

"Are you alright?" she asked Calhoun anxiously. She placed her hand on his shoulder, and before she could even part her lips to whisper a spell, Calhoun caught hold of her wrist, and put her hand down, leaving her puzzled. 

"Don't," there was a hint of anger in his eyes that were directed at her, and it made Madeline wonder what she did to receive this reaction from him. "You used your ability to bring back Lucy." She now understood why. He had made her promise so that she would not put herself in danger, but she had done it anyway as she was swayed by emotions after Lucy on the ground. 

Biting her cheek, she said, "She was losing so much blood. I couldn't leave her just like that." 

"Every time you try to save someone, you hurt yourself," said Calhoun, his hand reached out for her face, and his thumb went to touch the side of her lips where the blood had dripped down from her mouth before. "You idiot," he muttered under his breath before pulling her to his arms. It felt good to have her back, knowing she was safe. 

Calhoun pulled back to quickly take a look at all her fingers that were still there on her hands. He glared at Vladimir who now pulled out the knife from his face, and a drop of blood slid down from the wound before the wound healed itself. 

Vladimir looked at the couple and then focussing his eyes on his grandson, "What?" he asked as if he had no clue and wasn't the one to start the fight. "I never said the finger belonged to her," he shrugged his shoulders. 

"Cal, he's your grandfather," Madeline revealed the truth so that Vladimir wouldn't continue provoking Calhoun. 

"I thought I locked you up with Odin, how did you get out of the room?" questioned Vladimir, unhappy that he wouldn't be able to test and get more acquainted with his grandson. 

"We broke the door," replied Madeline, and Vladimir's lips set itself in a thin line. 

"Odin!" Vladimir's voice boomed, and the bat who was hanging on the ceiling in his bat form turned to his vampire form once he got back on the ground.

Odin bowed his head, "Master, she is related to you now. I thought it would be rude to refuse her words." Vladimir rolled his eyes. 

Calhoun's eyes narrowed, and he stared at Vladimir, who offered him a bright smile. "We are leaving from here, Maddie," said Calhoun, not bothering to speak to Vladimir, and the older vampire's smile fell from his face. He snapped his fingers to close the doors of the entrance and the other windows of the castle.

"Did Constance mention about me to you?" Vladimir questioned, and Calhoun replied,


Madeline's eyebrows raised at Calhoun to see the passive expression on his face.

"What do you mean no?!" This time it was Vladimir whose eyes had turned narrow and he was unhappy hearing his daughter had not mentioned him to his grandson. There was no way out with the doors and the windows closed, and it didn't look like Vladimir would let them go in peace. 

When Calhoun had left the castle in search of Madeline and the stranger who had stolen his wife from him, he hadn't expected to end up near the mountain of Belmont, to find the scent coming from the cave. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he sensed something more than Madeline being here. The smell was abundant, and for some twisted reason, it had made Calhoun feel like he was finally home.

It wasn't like his mother hadn't mentioned about her father. The reason why Calhoun had even thought about passing through the wild forest before the mountains appeared in the past, was to see if the man truly existed, but halfway through, he had decided not to go further. Something he had deep down buried and tried to forget it. It was why when he had ended up here a few minutes ago, he knew he would be meeting that one person who was related to his mother. 

"You are supposed to be dead," answered Calhoun, meeting Vladimir's shocked eyes. 

"She said I was dead?" whispered Vladimir.

"No, I declared you to be dead," deadpanned Calhoun. 

Madeline could tell by the look on Vladimir's face that he was not happy. "Tough luck. I am still alive." 

"Unfortunately," Calhoun replied, and the nerve in the older vampire's head popped. More than anyone, Odin looked back and forth between his Master and the boy who was his Master's grandson. "What is the point of having a father who isn't there next to his daughter's side when she needs him?"

"You should know that I wasn't aware that she would flee from here, and end up with that fucker in the castle," Vladimir's words were not even a bit filtered. "Your father-"

"He's not my father," Calhoun was quick to correct the man's words, and Vladimir stared. "All you had to do was fucking wake up in between and see if she was alright." This man might be the devil, the fallen angel and his mother's father, but Calhoun had not forgotten the tears his mother had spilt in pain. 

Vladimir took a step forward, and Madeline quickly came in between them. She said, "We can sit down calmly and sort out the differences. There's no need for more bloodshed." 

"You think I wanted her to get hurt and die? I protected her for decades! Knowing well how she was, just like her mother. She looked human, lived like a human, but part of her blood came from me. My daughter, Constance!" Vladimir's voice was filled with emotion, shaking the little things around them. "Even she wasn't aware of it. I did everything to protect her. Killed every person who laid their eyes on her knowing how vile people are."

"It wasn't enough," commented Calhoun.

"I didn't expect to sleep that long, and since the time I found out that she died there isn't one moment where I haven't wished to turn back time so that I would not go to sleep. Wishing that I could have spoken to her, letting her know how precious she was to me. That all I did was to protect her-"

Calhoun interrupted by saying, "I think she got the message the day her heart broke and she was thrown out of the castle, letting her know the world was exactly the way you told it to be."

Madeline didn't know if she was supposed to blame Vladimir for what happened or not.

Calhoun was angry because he had seen his mother break down, but not once had she spoken about going back to her father. At first, he didn't understand if it was the same pride that flowed in their veins that had stopped her from going back to the place she came from, or if she was ashamed for what happened. His hands clenched in tight fists, and he looked away from Vladimir.

He whispered, "I didn't understand mother's reasoning in the beginning, but I do now."