I gathered my focus, my deep-seeded fear shooting through me like fire in the frozen midnight air. I couldn't allow what would come next- not if I could change it. I had to get us far, far away, beyond the reach of Magick-kind and the so-called Angels. They were terrible. All of them. The whole world was horrifying and I couldn't bear it any longer. Everything was coming to a close- our people were finally being exposed for what they were, what they had done, and all they had planned to do. And yet, I could not stand the idea of staying in this place, in this time of such dire circumstances.
So, I continued to gather my focus. "All it takes is the will," I had been telling him what felt like moments before. The will and the focus to bring it into reality. Anywhere but here, I thought. Anything but here and now... I gripped his hand as if I would never let it go, and I opened my eyes slowly.
And then everything went straight to Hell.
I was raised with very little knowledge about what we were doing to people, and even less knowledge of why. I had simply accepted that it was how things were, because I was not a curious child to start. My role was mine, and theirs was theirs. Some could argue this to be a very mature thought process for a four year old girl, but it was, in all honesty, the most childish thing I can imagine. It was because of these things that, when I heard the crying and yelling from the servant quarters every night, I simply assumed that's just how it was supposed to be. That's what ignorance does to a child.
I remember quite fondly the day I learned about the acceptance ceremony. I was almost five, and my older brother, Adrian, had been running about the house excitedly, waving around a paper with some messily scrawled words I couldn't read. What I could see, however, was a special seal from the main house of our family. Before I knew it, we were off to visit our relatives. As soon as we arrived at the large house, Adrian was whisked off, leaving mother, father, and I alone in the first hall way. A timid young girl stepped out seemingly from the shadows and smiled softly at us. She apologized promptly. "I'm terribly sorry about all of this ruckus. Adrian will rejoin you all for dinner tonight, but he really must start getting ready for next month's ceremony." Her downcast eyes were a golden brown, glowing faintly as the light from them touch the floor gently. That glow marked her as a hybrid girl, much like any of the other workers in these sorts of houses. We had quite a few ourselves, but most had been left at home. Visiting the main branch of the family meant we had no need for them as we'd be provided with a few once we arrived. This girl didn't seem to be one of the ones designated to Adrian, and she seemed sweet enough. A small flicker of rare curiosity shuddered to life inside me, wondering what kind of animal she was a hybrid of. In her current form, it was impossible to tell. I simply shrugged the silly question away. Some of the ones who had been changed, not born, were very sensitive to that sort of thing.
Quietly, she asked us to follow her. One at a time, she showed us to our rooms. I would be right across from mother and father, in case they needed to get to me for some reason. "Where will Adrian stay?" I naively asked. The girl shook her head, patting my head softly. I noticed father stiffen when the hybrid touched me, but he remained still. Then they rushed me into my room, my question remaining unanswered.Seeing as I was a small child, I forgot all about being ignored within seconds of seeing the room filled with toys of all shapes and sizes. Sure, as I was the second child of our family line, I wasn't quite the heiress of the house or anything. But, if anything were to happen to Adrian, I would need to take that position. Naturally, this gave me plenty of privileges and such that I wouldn't have received otherwise. As my brother was the heir by blood, it was well known that his future was practically decided already. He was highly educated, extremely sheltered, and was told to do just about everything he did. His future wife had already been picked for him before he was fourteen, and there was no getting any power in the family with him. I, the younger, less-caged child, seemed to be beloved by all of the families of less rank than our father. They showered me with gifts and affection practically from the moment I came to be. Looking back on it, I can see that they were all looking for a way to get into the higher house, and I was an obvious answer.
I suppose to the people in ranks below, I was ten times as important as my brother, even without a direct line to the head of the house.
That night, my parents and I were led to the dining area by the same hybrid girl. Adrian, my fourteen year-old brother who had been so suddenly ripped away from me, was already at the table. As if at home, I quickly took my place to his left. He seemed high up in the clouds, talking on and on to Mother and Father about everything that had happened since we arrived. I, of course, lost interest almost immediately as my attention was turned to the line of hybrids standing by the back wall. Many of them appeared younger than the rest, clearly ones who had been born into their place. One who seemed just a little older than I caught my attention easiest of them all. His eyes glowed bright blue, with pupils that seemed more oval-shaped than spherical. They varied from moment to moment, sometimes settling on the human-like circle and other times being slits, like a snake's eye. Judging by his clothes, less ragged and torn compared to the others, he had just started working recently.
For whatever reason, this boy kept my attention for quite some time at that house. First, he reappeared at my door as my "escort" a few days later. The yard of the building was rather extensive, and the over protective parents and powers residing in the house felt I needed to have someone around me at all times so I wouldn't get lost. It was rather ridiculous, and it didn't make any sense. Why my parents refused to raise me like they should have, I'll never know. Perhaps that force that's simply impossible to manipulate had something to do with it, dragging he and I along without a choice or even an inkling of an idea of what was happening to us.
Now, let me make something quite plain. Just because I reference something like destiny doesn't mean I believe in it. As a matter of fact, I don't think the idea of fate or destiny is even possible. If it did exist, we could sit in our houses and sleep in our beds at night and never do anything. No one would be willing to do anything because of fate; Man-kind and all those among it would become gullible as a whole, and then where would we be? Even if destiny was a possible concept, it would be too dangerous for anyone to believe in it. It would destroy us all.
When the hybrid boy appeared at my door, we became friends rather quickly. There hadn't been any children who had been hybrids in my own home, so I didn't know how to treat this boy. I suppose I began by treating him as if he were simply another part of Magick-kind and started asking questions. He seemed a little nervous, so I started in easy on him. "What's your name?" I probed the older boy gently. His response came out as a quiet murmur, unintelligible, barely audible. Being the persistent little thing I was, I glared at him and refused to budge from the spot. "If you won't tell me, I'm not gonna move." I threatened. His face gained this immediate look of panic. He began to plead with me.
"No, please, I'll get in trouble if I don't take you where I'm supposed to! They'll- They'll-" He seemed to choke on his words as my heartless little face kept the same stubborn expression. Finally, after several minutes of his pleading, he gave in. "Ri-richard... that's my name." He stammered out quickly. I smiled a bright grin of victory and patted the boy's shoulder, and we went off on our way. Richard and I made fast friends in that month. He would come get me from my room each day, and we'd walk about the house and cause general mischief- stealing sweets from the kitchen or moving things around whenever no one was looking, just to drive the workers insane. Whenever Mother or Father would try to whisk me off to go do something, I'd drag him along. My parents attempted to discourage this sort of behavior whenever they could, but the relatives which owned the house would laugh at them, telling them that they shouldn't worry about Richard and I being a bother. Clearly that wasn't the concern of my parents, but they listened to the scoldings of their family anyway. Richard and I were left alone.
Flash forward to the day of my brother's induction to the family, and allow me to set the mood of the festivities after the formal ceremony, as it could be hard for those who have never experienced it to imagine other wise. First, the location. We were in a grand ballroom, so large that my eyes could hardly fathom it. All the women were dressed up in what you might assume was their fanciest gown, but was likely only their second or third best. The best of the best clothes were reserved, as I was told, for the ceremonies and parties accepting someone into the main part of the family. While Adrian was being declared officially related to the Benard family, he was not one of them. So, all the women picked out a gown that was just a tier or two below that occasional honor, and all the men put on their suits, and there was a grand party. They had their own orchestra, to top it all off. And, despite the dinner held directly before this party, there was a wide spread of food of all kinds, from all over. The hybrids of the house were even granted a bit more freedom on this night of all nights. Sometimes their owners would bring them out for a dance; sometimes they were given some of the glorious food as a reward for their hard work. For some, the break from their work was reward enough, and those who felt this way tended to relax at the sidelines.
As for me, I was dressed up in a cute little pastel blue dress with short sleeves. My shoes were a deeper, darker blue to match the bow in my hair, which was in it's naturally wavy state cascading down my back. For a five year old, I looked pretty decent. As all young children did, of course, I was quickly drawn to the food, and particularly the cake. If you had stood me next to it, it was easily a few feet taller than I. It was frosted in darker hues of blue and gold, had more tiers than I had fingers, and, from what I had heard, was chocolate. This, of course made sense- it was all representative of my brother's favorites. All the food laid out was the same way, as well. I didn't mind, naturally. A five year-old doesn't tend to care about that sort of thing. I eagerly went to work at the food before me, piling it onto my plate. Mother and Father were too busy talking to the people around them- likely trying to gain more connections in the higher ranks, though, once again, I wouldn't have understood that at my age. All I cared for was the things in front of me, not what was elsewhere.
I spotted Richard at the edge of the room, sitting alone on the floor. Quickly I gathered up my food, and I moved hastily over beside him, settling down beside him. He looked the most relaxed I had seen him in the month I had been at the house, and it brought a smile to my face to see him so calm. The skiddish boy I had so often seen among his fellow workers and his superiors had seemingly disappeared. Even at that young age, so early in my life, I wished there was some way he could always be like this. And that wish stuck with me for the next nine years. I've told you before, I've always been a stubborn girl. He smiled weakly at me when I sat beside him, though his eyes seemed to quickly move to my plate, covered in way more sweets than anyone could ever eat alone. I offered him some, but he seemed a little hesitant. "C'mon, it's not gonna eat itself!" I insisted.
"B-but... won't I get in trouble for this?" He asked, his voice trembling slightly with fear. I laughed and pat his head. The eight year old was shaking nervously, the poor thing.
"Richard, I promise that if I say it's okay, you won't get in trouble. Besides, I'm the daughter of one of the most powerful families of Magick-kind. I have immunity." With that, I pushed the plate into his hands. Still a little reserved, he picked up the first this that caught his eye and ate it with an animalistic hunger. After he had eaten one thing, the rest simply came naturally to him. It was astounding. I never knew that a humanoid could eat so much! In no time at all, the plate had been emptied, and he let out a content sigh of happiness. There were plenty of odd looks at us, but no one approached. No one dared interfere with the child of such a powerful house, except perhaps my parents, but they had been taken care of by the very people who probably wished I would leave him to sit by himself. It's funny, the way things seem to work out in the world. Once he had a few minutes to let his food settle, I stood up and offered him my hand. "Let's dance!" I insisted. HE shook his head, shrinking into himself. "Well why not?" I demanded, stomping my foot and crossing my arms like the little diva I was.
"P-pl-please don't be mad, Miss Rebecca! Hybrids aren't allowed to dance with everyone else tonight." He stammered over his words, his usual worried self returning. I sighed and pulled him up off the floor. He struggled against me, but he had become so weak from his work and lack of proper food that I easily overpowered him and dragged him out to dance. The amount of strange looks we received easily doubled, but soon everyone went back to whatever they were doing before. Being part of higher society gave them all a very high sense of self-importance, and the deals they were trying to work through were far more important to them than some silly child having fun. So, I took Richard out onto the floor with everyone else, and we danced. Looking back on it, it was probably the first time in his life he had ever done such a thing, though it certainly wouldn't be the last.
The next day, our family was about to leave the fanciful house of our distant family when I found Richard at my door. "I s'pose this is it, huh?" He sighed. Even within a single month, he had put on a little more weight.I had been good to him when others hadn't, and he benefited from it. I had checked with some of the younger children who were part of the Benard family and they assured me that they would keep him fed for me, and they'd do their best to keep him out of trouble. I smiled at him, knowing his life was going to get a little better now, and I reached up and patted his head for the last time during this visit.
"I'll be back, Richard. There are a lot of things like this, and we'll be back for the holidays. That's only four months from now. But, you've got to be careful until then. Be good for me, okay?" I kissed his cheek in parting, and then I was off. I would miss him, but a lot of promises had been made in my time there, and I intended to keep every one. After all, when someone is accepted into the family, they're allowed to take one of the servants as their own. So... at that age, all I could do was hope for the best. Years later, I didn't have to hope any more.
And that is where our story really began. August first, eight forty-eight AM. A young girl received a letter that continued the story barely written at that grand house so many years before. I remember as if it were just yesterday...