VII. Sunday Afternoon

The first ray of sunlight gave the Crisiotas an excuse to investigate last night’s strange happenings. Yet in their fright, they forgot that it was a Sunday, thus they had to attend church. Once loaded into the carriage sitting across from the usually laconic Mr. LaLauren, Eleanor’s sleep depravity allowed herself to mutter aloud too innocently, “Where is Cephas?”

Mr. LaLauren cocked an eyebrow, “Eleanor, is it not unusual for servants to ride with their masters to church?”

She turned away from him after muttering an apology for the randomness of her inquiries while Sirius grumbled about having been woken up too early.

During the sermon, she extorted most of her energies looking for Cephas without doing anything other than concerning Mr. LaLauren, who questioned her with an assumed parental consternation once they returned to the mansion, “You seemed very, very unsettled today, Eleanor.” She knew that his cold gaze saw through her in her seat by the window and only wanted for her to say it directly.

She set down her pen since she was in no mood for a letter, anyway, “No-nothing, Mr. LaLauren, it was just that…I didn’t sleep that well last night.”

He chuckled and pocketed his hands, “Are you fond of Cephas, Eleanor?”

“What?! Yes, I meant, no, why…what no…” She gave up.

Mr. LaLauren scoffed at her helpless stumble, “Why, it is perfectly normal for a young girl like you to be crossed in love easily.”

“…” She stared blankly into the greens of the park, hoping that her face and the leaves would not be too reminiscent of the winter holidays.

“Anyway, it will pass, just don’t think so much about it,” She assumed that he went away afterward, though she was immediately distracted from her troubles as a maid hurried over with a single envelope addressed with the beautiful hand that she could not be more familiar with.

Ah, her mother. It was as though she knew when she was needed most.

With a mighty hurry she ripped open the envelope without much propriety and beheld the scripts with more attention than what she had given to any sermons.

Dearest Eleanor and Sirius,

I hope that you are not too much of a bother for Mr. LaLauren, and that you do not miss me nearly as much as I do the two of you.

She could just feel the slight grin resting upon her mother’s nervous face as she wrote these words.

The business that propelled me to abandon you to Mr. LaLauren’s care has its complications, but it does not pose as much trouble nor is as sinister as I make it out to be. In fact, I expect to return by the end of next month, so even if you are unhappy with the present arrangement it would not be too long. Have the two of you made any new acquaintances? Or, has it simply been a lonely week or so (I estimated the time it would have take for this letter to arrive)? I am sure that you would manage quite well, Eleanor, and that your brother would not be too homesick.

The purpose of this letter, my dear, is to reiterate that you must not use your power under any circumstances: it had slowly became obvious to me that the adversary that so occupies me is essentially tracking our very existence once any of the Crisiotas utilize their powers. Please—

A scream interrupted her reading, and instinct brought her to her feet, tugging the letter into her sleeve before running to the source of distress. She found herself in the open courtyard, where a crowd of servants obscured a nightmare plastered upon the brick floors.

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