The Count opened the door to find a pair of pale yellow eyes piercing at him, lips twisted to form a predatory smile. A unique eyebrow and eyelashes. Francis was certain that he didn't have met this Crocotta before. An edgy frown wrinkled the inside of his throat, a consequence for controlling his outside look. Being neutral, calm was his secret weapon. Those mythical beasts sniff fear and charge when they discern it.
Witnessing the live proof, made him believe in what Nicolai told him before. The Crocotta always moves in groups, no wonder this place soon, will swarm with them. Francis smiled back, it was the courtesy type of smiles: "Yes?"
"I am here to invite you to dinner. " Savannah announced after making a slight bow like a butler, mimicking the etiquette of the pure-blood.
"You don't have the right to refuse. Our lady will never accept "no" for an answer." She enjoyed the silent reply, she considered the silence evidence of conquering.
Francis understood those kinds of formalities very well. He was surprised that those beasts showed it. He looked at the androgynous Crocotta in front of him and responded: "Very well, I shall accept the invitation."
" Then I shall escort you." grin never left her lips
The glow of doubt shined in Francis's eyes since it's not like he didn't know the way to the dining room. He suspected that this young Crocotta had an ulterior motive. "It will just take me a moment to be ready." In essence, he wanted to gain some time.
In contrary to what he said, Savannah waited for what it seemed ages. And once the door was opened, the person who got out was as bright and polished as a gem. Hair is neatly groomed, clothes unparalleled, and of course, he didn't forget the accessories; a mechanical watch, a collar pin, cuff links, and certainly white gloves.
Savannah sighed in her heart, finding other connections. No wonder this man was Hendrickson's acquaintance.
But, then, the rumors she had collected about the noble vampires were true; most of them are classy, prefer the elegant sophisticated style, and have a high taste for visual arts.
A flash of insight of the decoration in the main hall made Savannah persuaded that it must be this man's taste in arts.
This man's taste in art was in more harmony with her mother and sister than of Nicolai.
Oh, god, don't tell her that this is why those two - her mother and sister- tea-sets fans and ceramic items lovers easily gave him Nicolai shares.
Savannah nearly slapped her hand into her face in shame.
She slightly bowed again and referred with her hand to the direction of the staircase before she said: "Then shall we go?" Francis tracked her steps, he was drowning in suspicious. Furthermore, the fact that she was giving him her back without the barest hesitation made his doubts grow wilder. This reckless conduct only meant two things for him:
Either she believes that he would never attempt to attack her because the Crocotta has formed some kind of alliance with him, or she is awfully confident in her abilities.
Just because there is two more other Crocottas downstairs, she maybe thought that he would never dare to attack her.
Francis' heart relaxed at those thoughts, he even smiled, because, it looks like those barbaric beasts still the same, even if they imitated the etiquette and formalities of the sophisticated race. They will never learn the lesson. Sometimes, some attacks that cause damage worse than physical ones.
What he should do? Compel her, hypnotize her. Regardless, it will be a nice try to stir his rusty faculties as well as to collect information.
When he saw her steps slow down, he changed his amused face expression to a neutral one.
"What should I call you?" She asked him, her tone carried the friendliness touch. Forthwith, Francis decided to make his name the incentive to the hypnosis. He replied: "You don't need to be formal, my name is Francis Leal Di Montez, the Count of Di Montez."
" Mr. Franz..." Savannah proceeded to reiterate his long name but before she finished he interrupted her at once, being gentle and horrified: "And you?" Somehow, he was certain that she won't pronounce his name correctly. It always pains his ears when someone butchered the pronunciation of his precious name. Perhaps, he will use another word for inciting the hypnosis.
He noticed her getting closer, till they walked side by side. Soon, her formal display dropped as well as she conducted herself in a friendlier manner when she asked him: "So, what have happened between you and Nicolai?"
The Count didn't fancy this personal question, yet he found it useful to incite the hypnosis...
" Well, not much, we were business associates." He glanced at her before he continued: "We have disagreements in handling things..."
" Hmm, really?" She murmured, sounding not persuaded: "Do you destroy people live just for disagreements?"
"Aren't you doing the same, destroying the lives of those mongrels."
Savannah's eyes strayed towards the ceiling, reflecting a little before she answered: "Those Chimeras are our food, and life is simple; either you eat or you died. Besides, they are not our associates. If you have killed Nicolai for the sake of survival, this question will never cross my mind." Savannah agreed with her mother's opinion that this man did what he did to Mr. Hendrickson was in pursuit of satisfying his grudge.
" Then you love to torture your food?"
This smart mouth jerk, Savannah sighed in her heart: "Unless I want to have an unpalatable and insipid dishes. But I do when I am hungry, everything is tasteful when you get hungry."
A symbolic threat, Francis glanced at her again, he admitted that her answer was sharp. He also thought that this conversation was enough to activate the hypnosis. Hence, he stopped walking and waited for her to look at him before he said:" What do you know about Nicolai? " At the same time clicked his fingers without waiting for a response.
It was an instant, Francis felt lost in a sea of darkness, not able to move. He could feel his legs disintegrating like a piece of sugar cube shattering under a big stone, and aimlessly floating in the void in a spiral motion, that gets faster and faster.
Under the spell of the nothingness, a conscious being experience the horrifying process of perishment. It was a miracle Francis could open his eyes to the real world.
He was already on his knee, shaking. His hand covering his mouth. The dizziness trifled with his senses. He barely could hear Savannah when she said: "What?" or when she approached him asking about his condition.
After he got a feel of the ground supporting his weight, he declared: "I think I need to throw up." Because he couldn't walk straight, or he was able to control his nausea, he crawled to the side of the corridor and started to throw up.
When the relief climbed the muscles of his body, he became conscious of his state. Humiliated by the sudden weakness, he apologized for the indiscreet sight. Savannah waved it like nothing and waited for him until he regained his force and adjusted his attire before they go down. She even brought water and cleaned behind his mess.
It's insane, this hollow darkness. It's insane, how can someone with an inane vortex in his mind keep his sanity? This question dominated Francis's perception, savored all his wits until he set a foot in the dining room.
The dinner table was almost ready, splendor with food variety. What grabbed Francis's attention was the two cooked goat head who resembled some Chimeras who were serving him. They vigorously displayed on the table with an apple in their mouths. That not all, there were also few birds and some vegetables. In short, he never saw a table full of a lot of dishes as he was witnessing right now.
He gaped, who is going to finish all of this?
It wasn't long until Hendrickson made his entrance with someone Francis didn't recognize at first, especially with those black horns crowning his head, and those bat-like wings cloaking his body.
A moment after, Lady Akila emerged, holding a teapot. After she saw the gentlemen all present she smiled at them: "Thank you, everyone, for your presence, please take your seats, the dinner is ready, I hope you will enjoy my cooking."
A minute late, Kanari followed, holding a basket full of fresh-baked bread. She appeared immersed in her labor, forgetting all about her shyness towards Shiva, her dislike towards Hendrickson, and her wariness toward the Crimson Lord.
Later, When she was obliged to take a seat, she found the only one which was not occupied. The seat between her mother and Lord Shiva opposite to Mr. Hendrickson and all her insecurity resurfaced.
Kanari puffed her cheeks. Stealing glimpses at her sister in hope that she will help her exchange the seat with someone, But Savannah was busy sucking up to Lord Shiva who sat in front of her. Kanari swallowed her saliva and sat down in contempt.
Less than an hour, Francis was shocked, he didn't expect that all the dishes will be licked clean. Those who ate more and without reservation were the three Crocotta, despite that their way of eating was somehow respectful. However, they have eaten like an individual who didn't dine for days, rather weeks.
Was he starving them when it was his duty to feed them?
Whereas the other horned creature whom Francis assumed to be the real Lord Shiva didn't eat much, a cup of coffee, a sip of water, and he was done.
Francis considered himself and Hendrickson the only ordinary people around this table.