Chapter 7- Caius Ashfall

Chapter 7- Caius Ashfall

A Chapter by Cynical_Art

Chapter 7

 

Caius Ashfall

 

 

            The raven soared into the empty blue sky. The first of many. Writing the letter to Charles last night had been the hardest thing Caius had ever done. He had written it three times before he finally decided to keep what he wrote, and even then he wasn’t satisfied with the words. The first time he wrote it, it was simple. Charles, your family hates you, especially your wife. I hate them too so far. But he knew that was the equivalent of writing his own obituary. The second time was less like a report and more like a journal, but after reading it over he saw he still had nothing nice to say about his family. Finally, on the third time, he wrote something that was neither offensive nor a lie. He spoke about the difficulties of becoming part of a family. The constant need to please but unable to figure out how.

The second part of the letter was much easier, although he took note not to say too much. He mentioned the possibility of putting an end to Paradise Lost once and for all, but none of the demands asked of him. Hopefully that’s enough to make him return soon. I don’t know how many days I can last of this pretend life. Between being part of a family and a Shadow, Caius was hardly getting any time to dream anymore.

            Caius heard a knock on the door. “Master Ashfall, breakfast is ready.”

            “I’ll be there,” replied Caius.

            He closed the window once the raven was no longer visible. Before heading towards the door, he opened the first drawer in his bureau and pulled out a syringe. He injected the blue serum inside into his veins and placed the syringe back in the drawer and made his way out the door.

Downstairs the entire family was assembled, for the exception of Charles. He found that he didn’t even need to take his seat at the dinner table before receiving loving glances. Is breakfast always this awkward with a family? Caius had never felt so unwelcomed anywhere else in his life. His own enemies welcomed him with more enthusiasm than Charles’s lovely family.

            Liana had her kind and loving mask back on. “How is your breakfast, Caius?” Caius glanced at the oblivious children. They must have no idea who the woman behind the mask is.

Caius smiled awkwardly. “The best I ever had.”

            Liana blushed. “You are too kind. By the way, I don’t think I’ve formally introduced you to my son yet.” She waved at her son across the table. “Caius, I’d liked you to meet Venir, my lovely son. He’s every mother’s dream.” But not every father’s apparently.

            Caius politely turned his attention towards Venir and nodded in acknowledgement. “A pleasure to meet you, Venir.”

            Venir looked at him unmoving. “So why are you here again?”

            “Venir!” his mother scolded. “Your father has already told you he’s here for our protection.” At the very least I can count on her to play her part when her kids are around.

            Venir chuckled. “He doesn’t even look intimidating. I doubt anyone looking for trouble in Father’s manor will find him threatening.” He turned to look at Caius again. “Just what is your job exactly? Based on age, my father looks like he could be your father. I find it hard to believe you’re his most trusted companion.”

            Most trusted companion? If his Mentor had ever made anything clear it was that he trusted no one. Caius was still having a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that he was actually dining with Charles’s family while Charles was miles away at the capital.

Caius swallowed his food. “I’m your father’s assistant at the Judicium’s Youth Center.”

            “So you help teach kids how to be obedient,” responded Venir in a mocking tone.

            Caius smiled genuinely. “I help teach kids how to kill.” Venir stared back silently. What, no smart comment?

            “Caius!” scolded Liana. “Not in front of my daughter.”

            Caius got some satisfaction out of that. “I apologize. I was merely correcting your son. Perhaps now he will feel much safer.”

            He could see Liana restraining her anger behind her twitching fake half smile. “Very well, but let it be the last time. I don’t need my kids hearing about the things you do with those poor orphans. I like to start my mornings on a good note.”

            “As do I.” Caius took another bite out of his food.

            “Why did the Fuhrer call my father?” asked Venir.

            His mother jumped in for the save. “You know he’s not allowed to talk about that, Venir. Let’s talk about something else instead. How goes the academy?”

            Venir stubbornly rolled his eyes. “Wasn’t father the one who said to treat our honored guest like family?”

            “By getting to know him, not by asking questions about your father.”

            Venir accepted defeat and quietly kept eating his dinner. Well, I guess that puts an end to this little charade.

            “Hey, Mister,” the little girl called out. The fragile girl looked genuinely sweet and hardly old enough to be as audacious and rude as her brother and mother. “Are you a Rat?” Perhaps I spoke to soon.

            Caius could hear Venir snickering to his side and their mother staring observantly with curiosity. Caius pictured slitting the little girl’s fragile throat for her mother to see and laughing out loud for her brother to hear.

Caius was grateful for his remarkable discipline. An average person might’ve said all the wrong things at an insult like the one he just received but he could control his tempter as well as he could wield a blade. “If you knew your father,” which obviously not a single one of you does, “you’d know he’d only work alongside a Judician. If I were a Rat, I’d be helping clean his floors like the rest of the Rats in this house. Instead,” I’m here taking his place to keep his undisciplined family in check while learning to love them, “I’m here dining with his lovely family. If it’ll put your curiosities to rest though, the reason my hair is so dark is because I dye it.”

            “An odd color for a Judician to pick,” said Liana.

            “I dye it frequently. As long as it’s not red I don’t think Charles would mind.”

            Venir was suspicious. “You seem to have a lot of respect for my father.”

            “He is my superior.”

            “I imagine you share similar beliefs as well then.”

            “We’re both loyal subjects of Judicium, the same as all of you. I imagine we all share similar beliefs.”

            “Indeed. I’m curious, while we’re still on the topic of beliefs, do you believe in God?” Venir stared long and hard awaiting an answer.

            Caius decided he would be honest. “I am a man of the faith, yes.”

            That seemed to throw Venir’s mind for a spin. “That doesn’t make sense. My father hates the Church. Not even our servants believe in God. Why would my father send you of all people to protect us?”

            Caius looked to Liana. Now is your time to jump in, Mother. But she did nothing but stare in wonder yet again. He took another bite of his food and swallowed. “I’m afraid that’s a question you will have to ask your father. I’m simply doing my job.”

“But on whose orders?” He thinks I’m here on someone else’s behalf.

            Liana finally decided to step in. “I was here when your Father introduced him. I can vouch for him that it was indeed Charles who placed us under his care.”

            “If you say so.” Venir stood up. “Well, I have to head to the academy. I’ll see you all later.”

            After Venir left, dinner was quiet. Caius was grateful for that. He didn’t enjoy being interrogated. Had it at least been an enemy interrogating him it would’ve been simple. Stay quiet and kill yourself at the first opportunity you see. But this was Charles’s family. The family of the coldest and most ruthless man in Judicium.

After breakfast was over, the Rats came in to clear the table. Not long after, a Judician scholar who was Emilia’s tutor entered the house. His name was Oliver. He was a man in his late twenties to early thirties. His face was plain with dirt brown locks for hair. The man seemed kindly judging from his demeanor alone. His dress was rich enough to know he either came from a good family or that Charles paid him well. Caius concluded it was the second option. He’d never met any person from a wealthy house striving to be a tutor.

Oliver took Emilia upstairs leaving Caius alone with the beautiful Liana Veritas. They both found themselves staring at each other, silently. Her kind mask was off. There was no love in her bright brown eyes, but he didn’t see the anger from the previous day either. Now they flared with curiosity.

She made the first move. “Would you like me to escort you to your room?”

            “Who said I wanted to go to my room?”

            She smiled. Fake or not, that smile can melt any soul. “I…apologize for my rudeness yesterday. I admit I was not myself. You must understand. It was like a cage bird seeing the sky for the first time unable to do anything more than stare.”

            Caius didn’t understand this woman. Judicians were expected to have no more than the necessary liberties. Growing up, Caius lived a caged life himself. But he accepted it, like any normal Judician. Why Liana, who was born and raised Judician, couldn’t understand her limitations was beyond him. Then again, by all Judician rights, she should be able to leave this house.

“You were in the right. Charles was the one who forgot to inform you,” he said, to avoid another confrontation.

            “There was no need to inform us. It has always been the case.”

            Caius feigned ignorance. “Always?”

            “Let’s head up to your room.” Her eyes glanced at Pearl wiping the dinner table. “I don’t want to get in our servants’ way.”

            He took the hint. “As you wish.”

            As soon as they entered his room, Liana walked idly scanning every inch. The caged ravens seemed to especially catch her attention. Caius got her attention before anything else caught her attention. “You were going to tell me why Charles keeps you locked in the manor.”

            Liana turned around and took a seat on his bed. Caius grabbed the chair by the desk with his two remaining ravens. He sat with his legs crossed staring at the irresistible wife of his Mentor. She was wearing a scarlet dress, without a jacket this time, exposing her perfect bare slender shoulders. Caius did his best to not let his eyes wander off to her cleavage, although she made little effort to hide it. Luckily, her hazel eyes and delicious lips were just as easy to stare at for however long.

            “Charles is very protective over his family,” she started. “Given his tragic past, I can’t blame him. He lost his brother to someone he thought he could trust more than anyone. So he hides us from the world so that we might always be safe. I know he doesn’t mean ill by it, but it’s suffocating. Every day I grow more restless.”

            “I can hardly last an hour in this house without growing restless, I can only imagine how you must feel,” agreed Caius.

            “But at least you’re allowed to leave past curfew.” So she noticed. “Might I ask, what business does our protector have so late in the hour?”

            Will I ever catch a break between her and her son? “I still have to check up on the Youth Center. With Charles gone, there’s a lot of work to do.”

            She didn’t look convinced but ignored it nonetheless. “I see. It’s a little off topic, but the real reason I brought you here was because of your faith. Like my son said, Charles is very strict about his lack of faith. He thinks the Holy Grimoire’s teachings to be poisonous. So much that he doesn’t allow anyone of faith near this family, for the exception of Venir who’s allowed to leave the house.”

            Caius wasn’t surprised to find out Charles forbid God’s teachings in his family. He had lost count on the amount of times that Charles had spat on God. “That would explain your son’s reaction. However, I’m still not sure where you’re going with this.”

            “My only desire is to speak with someone who shares my beliefs.”

            “To what end?”

            “Before I married Charles, like majority of Judicians, I was a firm believer of the Church. Still am, in truth. But Charles would never have his family rely on such fairy tales. He thinks faith makes people weak and naïve. In the beginning of our marriage I had tried to fight it, but I grew tired of the battle and gave in. I didn’t want to spoil our love over something so meaningless at the time, so I tried to make him happy by accepting his views. Only, deep inside I never did and it only served to bring us further apart.”

            “I’m sorry to hear that. I must apologize though, I do not believe I’m the one whom you should be discussing this with.”

            “Who else am I to tell? I don’t want my children discovering that I lie unflinchingly to their father’s face. Venir might understand, but Emilia is still young and innocent.”

            “Even so, why not speak to one of your servants about it, or even Venir. You yourself said he might understand. He seems a smart boy.”

            “Venir is his father’s son, no matter how much he might deny it. He’d laugh at God the same as his father. And my servants,” Liana chuckled. “They are all Charles’s servants. Anything I say to them, he will know not long after.”

            “And what makes you think I’m any different?” He pointed at the ravens. “Those aren’t here just to keep me company. I’m to write to him regularly.”

            She didn’t seem to like that. “So I can assume he already knows about my little attempt to leave the house yesterday.”

            “No, actually. I decided that wasn’t worth mentioning.”

            That made her smile. God bless that smile. “Then I wasn’t wrong about you. Like me, God is your disconnect from Charles. Your faith is the only thing that keeps you from completely belonging to Charles.”

            I belong to Judicium, not Charles. “I don’t know what you hope to gain from me, but I would caution you to not be so…careless. I didn’t tell Charles about your little outburst because it seemed unnecessary. It doesn’t mean I’m going to continuously turn a blind eye whenever you decide to test your luck. Not only do I intend to make sure you never step foot outside this manor for as long as I’m here, but anything you do or say that I feel Charles should know, will be reported.”

            “Say what you will. You serve my husband because it’s your duty but I can see the doubt in your eyes. When Charles demands anything of me he has unwavering conviction. You’re eyes are full of uncertainty, curiosity, shame, and fear. God gave you a conscience.”

            That’s only because living life is a hundred times harder than killing a person. “You’re right. I am full of uncertainty, curiosity, shame, and fear. But not for the reasons you believe. I’ve never had a real family before. To me, this is foreign territory. All I know is the cold order of Judicium. Why Charles wants me to pretend to be a part of this family, I can only speculate it’s to protect it from the realities of the outside world. Unfortunately, the realities of the outside world are all I know. So yes, I’m uncertain of how a family is supposed to live. Yes, I’m curious as to what it is that ties a family so closely together. Of course I’m ashamed that I’m trying to force myself into it. But most of all, I fear to discover the love that keeps a family together. For it might change who I am as a person.”

            Liana was at a loss of words but for all her lack, her sparkling eyes spoke volumes. I fear I might have just strengthened her resolve. “Perhaps I’ve misread you, Caius,” she said. “It seems there’s a lot more to you than I thought. ”

            Caius tried to undo his mistake. “No. I’m exactly what you thought originally. Judicium’s lapdog. I have no conscience.”

            She giggled. “Well they’ve certainly trained you well, but they’ve clearly placed you in the wrong line of work.” In that, we can both agree. Why am I here?

            “This is more of a favor,” he argued. She burst into a sweet laughter. “What’s so funny?”

            “Nothing. I just imagined the prospect of sending Charles to become part of a family.”

            “Are you implying I’m like Charles now?”

            “I’m implying that you don’t send a killer to be a father. I don’t know Charles’s true purpose in sending you here. Knowing him, I’ll probably never know. But Charles never learned what it meant to be part of a family. I fear neither will you. At least not by following in his footsteps.” She stood up. “If you’re really curious about what it means to be a family, feel free to seek me out.”

            Caius was cautious. “If you’re hoping that somehow someway you’ll convince me to let you out of this manor, allow me to crush those hopes now.”

            She laughed innocently. “No. I think I’ve found something far more appealing.”

            “What’s that supposed to mean?”

            “Nothing, relax. You’re amongst family.”

            She made her way out before Caius even had a chance to respond. He made no effort to chase after her. Is this a test, Charles? Is this your way of finding out which I hold more dear, my country or my faith? Or do you truly mean for me to discover the meaning of this love. Why am I here?

            Caius looked out the window. The day was just beginning. Sitting here, I’ll never find out anything. As a Shadow, before he made deals with his spiders, he first needed to know what it was that drives them. Every Shadow had his web of spiders. Spiders came in many forms. Homeless people in the streets, black market dealers, servants, Owners, Cruorians. As long as they had something to offer, anyone could be a spider. Shadows established their web of spiders on promises and rewards. Some were more costly than others; others required a different kind of cost entirely. Like a controversial marriage. Liana wanted the one thing his Mentor stressed not to allow. Unfortunately he had no way of discovering if this was a test from his Mentor. What he could discover however was what Liana hoped to gain from it all. Despite her recent claim, Liana was more than eager to leave the manor just yesterday. Most spiders were satisfied with just money or slightly higher standing but Liana already had both. So what reason could she have for wanting to leave the house?

            Caius was walking down the hallway heading towards the spiral stairs when he ran into one of the maids. This Rat was fair to look upon unlike Pearl. She had her straight ebony hair held back by her white headband, falling loosely down her back. Her eyes were dark as her hair but large and pretty, her skin a pale complexion, and lips thin. She was skinny with no noticeable curves, but her young innocent face made her desirable enough. Of course, she had little affect on Caius. Her most distinguishing feature was her family brand. A chain of roses wrapped around her neck.

            Caius attempted to walk around her but she stepped in his way. “Is there something you need?” he asked, irritated.

            “I-I’m sorry, I-I didn’t mean to get in your way, Ma-Master Ashfall,” she stuttered.

            “Then why did you?”

            She looked down ashamed. “Ma-Master Veritas asked me to attend your every…need.” She looked up through her lashes, flustered. “Even…even those…that…”

            Caius spared her. “I understand. I’ll call upon you if I need you.” When I’m drunk enough to think you’re Liana Veritas. He walked passed her and felt her shadow as he continued walking down the hall. He turned. “Is there something else you need?”

            She looked away again, ashamed. “If…if you need anything else…”

            “Calm down. Leave me be. I already told you if I need you I’d call upon you.” She nodded four times too many and scurried away. “On second thought.” She stopped and turned nervously. “I might need your help after all.”

            “An-anything you need.”

            He caught up with her. “How long have you worked for Charles?”

            She looked up without meeting his eyes. “Five years…”

            “You hardly look twenty.”

            “I was…fourteen when he took me. He said…he wanted his daughter to have a young maid.”

            Caius rubbed his chin. “Seems odd that he’d separate you from his daughter then. There are three other maids, aren’t there?”

            She blushed and looked down again. “Th-the master said you’d want so-someone young.” Caius had seen the other maids, they were indeed unpleasant. If not for age, for other reasons. “I-I tried looking for you….ye-yesterday,” she went on. “You weren’t there so I-I thought…I though you mi-might’ve left to a br…”

            “Is that why you’re so scared? Well you didn’t miss out on your duties. I was out on business.” She seemed relieved. “Anyways, my needs for you aren’t in bed. I have some questions.”

            “Wh-what do you want to know?”

            Caius started leading her towards the spiral stairs while she followed. “Do you have a name?”

            “Rose…” How original.

            “Rose, how do you like it here in the Veritas household?”

            She didn’t hesitate to answer. “I love it. The Master treats me well and the pay is good and he gives all his servants a place to sleep in his home. We have nothing to complain about.” She seems fond of this cage, unlike a certain other woman. Caius wasn’t surprised given most Rats over ten years of age had been slaves. Essentially anything was an improvement for them.

            They reached the first floor. “You like it here a lot, then. I imagine you’re very aware of all the on goings in this house, seeing as you pretty much live here.”

            She nodded. “Not much goes on here. It’s peaceful and everyone goes about his or her duties. It gets most hectic when Master Venir arrives from the academy and plays with his sister, which I’m always in charge of overseeing.”

            “I bet it’s the highlight of her day. Venir seems the closest thing to the poor girl’s age. A shame he’s growing up. Soon he’ll be as absent from home as his father.”

            She shook her head. “No. The young Master would never abandon his little sister. She means the world to him.” So the young maid has a mind to go with her eyes and ears.

            “Is that so. What about the Lady Veritas? She hardly seems to be with her kids but at the dinner table. What does she spend most of her days doing?”

“The Lady is a very dutiful woman. She rarely calls upon any of the maids to tend to her needs and sometimes even helps with ours. She also attends her garden three times a day. Would you like me to show you to her garden?”

            Caius waved his hand for her to take lead. “Please.”

            They went behind the spiral stairs to a back door. Passed it, led outside to a courtyard. The sunlight lit the flowers brilliantly. The aroma stepping in was intoxicating. There were flowers of every color, each in their own basket on the ground. On the far end of the garden there was a large tree with glowing blue veins and blue leaves. From it hung a couple tiny crystals with a pulsing blue light inside. A crystallite tree.

            Crystallite trees were rare and known to cost a fortune. It was no secret why they were so expensive; the problem was, not all crystallite trees produced crystallite. Most just had the azure energy pulsing through its roots. The few that did produce crystallite didn’t produce much. This tree in particular though had a noticeable amount. Enough to make a homeless person upper class overnight.

            “She calls it the rainbow Garden,” said Rose. “Every flower you see here is an alien breed from the crystallite tree you see there.”

            “Crystallite engineering,” said Caius, quietly to himself.

            Caius was no stranger to crystallite engineering. He injected it to his body every morning with the serum known as crylist. All orphans from Judicium’s Youth took a daily doze to enhance their performance. Crylist was only one of many forms of crystallite engineering though. Chemist had discovered ways to apply crystallite in ways that could alter both form and color. The application was generally done on plants since it tended to have detrimental side affects on most living things. Even on plants though it was no easy feat. For Liana to know how to do any form of crystallite engineering she must’ve been some form of chemist herself.

            “Where did the Lady Veritas learn to do crystallite engineering?”

            “Don’t you know?” she asked surprised. “The Lady comes from the Evermore household. They own the biggest crystallite engineering industry in the Judimia.”

            Caius was dumbfounded. “But that would make her father…Gladys Evermore.”

            “The one and only.”

            The Evermore family was a well-known name to any Judician. They were regarded as one of the uppermost households in Judicium owning the leading industry in crystallite engineering. Publicly they only took credit for their medicines and plant products but Caius knew where their real income came from. Not only were they responsible for creating crylist, but rumor had it they were also behind the drug cryst as well. It was more of an unofficial fact than anything else to be honest. Caius had personally confirmed that much himself two years ago. To think, Charles never even as much as hinted that I was killing his mother-in-law.

            



© 2013 Cynical_Art


Author's Note

Cynical_Art
Taking everything that has happened thus far, what are you're predictions towards the future? What are your thoughts on Liana's character so far?

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Featured Review

Okay, I think Caius is becoming my favorite character so far. With Charles right behind him. Like always, this was amazing. I loved how easy you make explaining things and events flow together. I really can't wait to see how things will play out in the end. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Cynical_Art

8 Years Ago

I'm really curious to know if it'll remain that way or if you will have a change of heart in the lat.. read more
Dark Rider

8 Years Ago

Who knows. *Shrugs* I change sides a lot. XD



Reviews

Okay, I think Caius is becoming my favorite character so far. With Charles right behind him. Like always, this was amazing. I loved how easy you make explaining things and events flow together. I really can't wait to see how things will play out in the end. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Cynical_Art

8 Years Ago

I'm really curious to know if it'll remain that way or if you will have a change of heart in the lat.. read more
Dark Rider

8 Years Ago

Who knows. *Shrugs* I change sides a lot. XD

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Added on January 23, 2013
Last Updated on February 1, 2013
Tags: Beauty, Lust, Family, love, hate, father, son, school, friends, lies, truth, questions

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Cynical_Art
Cynical_Art

New York, NY



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I am 21 years old, I got my Bachelors in Science Degree when I was 19. My career profession is computer animation (I am an Environment Modeler, for those that follow the profession) but I love to writ.. more..

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