Waidaminute here! This is the Author speaking! Do you have taste for over used Gothic nonsense? You do? Excellent! Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
She turned with a smile playing around the corner of her lips, “The apocalypse is coming.”
His eyes drifted over to meet hers, they lingered there for a moment, till a non-committal sound emanated from his throat.
Her attention was once again engaged with the dull gray shadows flashing outside her window.
He shut his eyes and flowed down the seat till his head was positioned comfortably against the cushions. He needed to think. Only, his mind was rather preoccupied with the touch of cold flesh on his leg every time the vehicle jolted over what he hoped was a stone in the dark.
The carriage jerked to a sudden halt. The horses neighed impatiently and stamped their hooves.
The Count languidly glanced at the foot man who stood ready by the door.
“We’ve arrived m’ lady,” he said, as he slouched out the door, shuddering empathetically, once way from the groping touch of the dead hand.
“You really should treat our dear brother with greater compassion” said the melodious voice, as the Lady descended from the carriage with the support of her brother’s arm.
“Graveworth” she breathed softly, looking up at the imposing gray stone structure that towered before them.
“What should we do with him you suppose?” said the Count, eying his brother distastefully.
“Do whatever you please, Kain” replied the Lady distractedly. “No wait,” she added, remembering a small detail, “he will want proof. Take some trifle as souvenir, will you?” she said, eyes still fixed on the soaring battlements.
Her brother looked at her queasily, “A souvenir?” he repeated.
“Yes, yes, a souvenir,” said Lady Diane impatiently, “the ring should be good enough.”
“Oh, that kind of souvenir.” Count Mort said, affected with a trifle more haste than his usual manner.
Once the ring had been wrestled away from the rigid finger, Kain dismissed the coach with a small gesture of his hand. The footmen stared at him blankly for a moment, before opting prudence and the coach plunged way in the half-light.
The carriage bounded away with the remains of the late Count Mort, (who had been cousin seven times removed to his predecessor, but had gradually worked his way up the family hierarchy- only to meet an untimely death a month after the lawyers had conjured up the necessary documents) beloved brother and wealthy owner of the Cravenhall Estates.
“We part ways here, my sister,” the Count began, steadfastly ignoring his sister’s faintly raised eyebrow.
“Surely you would stay for dinner…Count?” inquired a pleasant voice from the doorway. The last word dropped into place after the slightest of pauses.
“Lord Gravesworth” Lady Diane said smoothly, dropping her head by a few degrees.
“M’ Lady” he replied, his pleasant eyes fixed on the Count.
Lord Graveworth soon lost interest in the visage of the Count, and instead, he ogled the fast-disappearing coach through his ornate eye piece.
“So it is done?” he remarked.
“My late brother presented you with his best wishes” said the new Count, and tossing the ring to Graveworth who snatched it neatly in the air.
The reflection of the ring glinted in Graveworth’s eye. “I’m honored,” he said, sweetly.
He glanced up, finally, and his eyes fell on the Lady Diane. He eyed her, with his head cocked slightly to one side, casually stripping her layers in his mind.
He slowly strolled down the steps, and sunk into one knee in front her.
“And will you do me the honor m’lady?” he drawled, insult underscored into every syllable.
The Lady Diane replied with a curt nod. The Lord slid the heavy signet onto her slight finger, an expression of mild amusement on his face, seeing the hunger in his bride’s eyes.
“The Cravenhall-Graveworth names are alliances at last.”
The Lord looked towards the Count Mort with the same expression of amusement – “I believe a celebration is in order then,” he said, waving the siblings into the cold hall with a flourish of his hand.
A long drawn out scream pierced the air – the last howl of a dying animal, only it had not been the voice of an animal at all.
“It is only a servant girl who became ill, and we had to lock her up in the upper bedchamber,” said Gravesworth casually tossing over his shoulder as he padded down the marble floor. After a pause he added, “She will not be bothering us any longer.”
The door echoed with a dull thud that seemed to echo for several long moments in the empty hall.