A/N: Hi everyone. Am posting this a week early because it’s February 14th and pushing that publish button would hopefully cheer me up right now. Am temperamental that way, I guess. 🙂 Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Alfred Roucan watched a group of men accompany Louis inside his mansion. He drew away from the window and faced his new chief of security Smith.
“A civilian was with Louis,” Mr. Roucan processed what the man had reported.
“You used this ‘civilian’ to make my son cooperate.” He sorted the photos on the desk into two categories.
“Louis almost overpowered my men, sir. I had to use his friend as leverage.”
“With threats, I presume. Threatened his life, perhaps?” He folded his hands on the table and locked eyes with Smith. Confident and efficient as always, Mr. Roucan thought. A little overconfident, maybe. “If Louis didn’t act the way you predicted, what would you have done then?” What lengths would you have taken to complete this task?
Smith swallowed nervously, unsure of where he stood with his employer.
“There were no other witnesses?”
“No one followed you?”
“Your identities were not compromised? That,” Mr. Roucan searched for a word, “spectacle won’t be traced back to me?”
“Good. You may leave.”
“Good day, sir.” Smith had his hand on the door knob, when Mr. Roucan called him back. “Sir?”
“Try to be more discreet next time.”
The chief of security closed the door behind him. He took a moment to compose himself. The dead fish eye look and toneless manner his employer had used unnerved him. No wonder half of his colleagues had pitying looks when they learned about his promotion.
It had only been several weeks since his rise from rookie to head of security after Mr. Roucan’s son slipped past security undetected. The former Chief had been stern and firm but respected by his men. He had held the position longer than most because of his loyalty to the family. There had been arguments between Mr. Roucan and him. Some of these were even direr than a troubled son who left home. What changed that the former Chief was dismissed? Mr. Roucan had offered an early retirement, but something about it didn’t seem to add up.
Smith turned to a corner, entered a room which he had come to dislike in the days that followed, and waited.
Louis strolled lazily. His hands in his pockets, he glanced at the men flanking him on all sides. They all wore the same stone-faced expression as they followed the slow pace he had chosen. They must be itching to get away from me. A corner of his mouth lifted then fell. These people had played the dirtiest trick of them all. Cowards! They used an innocent man when it was obvious who was winning the fight. If their orders had come directly from the former Chief, he could have predicted their next course of action. As it were, Mr. Roucan had been one step ahead of him all along. Louis determined to get the measure of the newly appointed Chief of Security before his escape.
They entered the gallery. Holograms of his ancestors were scattered around the otherwise bare dim lit room. They looked more like ghosts, translucent with the lower half of their bodies gradually thinning into nothing. Gloomy and creepy as ever, the ancestors appeared to stare disdainfully at the wayward son of Alfred Roucan. As an act of defiance, Louis lifted his chin at them. Let them stare.
This is the man who outclassed my men? Smith thought in disbelief, observing the young Roucan. He’s just a boy. Louis was small and slender compared to the men surrounding him. Smith glanced at his staff. Not one of them had escaped unscathed. Each were covered in scrapes and bruises from the recent fight, while Louis hadn’t a scratch on him.
Cool amber eyes met his gaze. It travelled from head to toe and returned to meet Smith’s once more. Just like Mr. Roucan, the golden pair of eyes didn’t give away its master’s secrets and emotions.
“Mr. Roucan is waiting for you,” Mr. Smith said and moved to let them pass.
Louis stepped forward and paused. He glanced sidelong at his escorts and said, “I can manage on my own. I used to live here.”
The men looked to Smith, who searched for an appropriate way to respond.
“Cat got your tongue?” Louis drawled. “I’m not going to run.” Not yet, anyway. “Or, are you worried I’m going to kill your boss? You’re in luck. I don’t have the stomach for it.” He walked through the door towards his father’s whereabouts.
“Smith?” One of the security staff called. They were still waiting for their Chief’s orders.
“It’s alright,” Smith said. Louis’ words had been directed at him and it had hit home. Mr. Roucan’s voice echoed in his head. What would you have done?
The long corridor to the study didn’t help Louis contain his rising anger. His steps quickened as he advanced on the door at the end of the hallway. Louis flung the door wide open, the wood protested as it hit the wall. The man, an older version of himself, behind the desk, didn’t even deign to look from the article hovering in front of him.
“She’s alive,” Louis said. He stood by the door with fists clenched. Any nearer and he might just break his word with the chief of security.
Mr. Roucan waved his hand up. The article simultaneously moved upward at the gesture.
“I saw her. I talked to her!”
“Say something!” Louis yelled.
“Your sister is dead,” Mr. Roucan said. “She lies peacefully in the forest, the other lies in the columbarium.” He continued to read the news on the holographic computer, the headline “Libya Chooses a New Leader” infuriates his son further.
“You would rather believe that than seek her out.” Louis’ eyes narrowed. “Do you hate her so much that you wouldn’t acknowledge her existence?” When Mr. Roucan didn’t answer, he stalked over the desk, grabbed the tubular holographic computer, and threw it across the room. The device bounced against the wall with a dull thud and landed on the carpeted floor. The hologram flickered then stabilized.
Mr. Roucan leaned back in his chair and looked at his son. Calmly, he stated, “If I hated your sisters, I wouldn’t have bothered preparing a proper burial for them.”
The reasonable and detached tone aggravated Louis even more. He slammed his fists on the table, glowering at his father.
“Why do you insist on pretending she’s dead?” he demanded. “Electra’s alive. Dammit!”
“Watch your tongue, young man.” Mr. Roucan snapped. “I am your father—”
“Not anymore. I renounced your name.”
“—I demand respect.”
“You lost it when you took her away from me.”
Father and son glared at each other. A minute passed in tensed silence, then another. Mr. Roucan leaned against his chair, steepled his fingers in front of him, and asked, “This young lady you saw. Is she happy?”
“Of course, she is,” Louis answered quickly. His brow furrowed at the strange question.
“Happier than your sister?” Mr. Roucan held his gaze.
“She’s your daughter,” Louis’ voice rose a fraction.
“Just answer the question.”
“Does it matter?”
The look in Mr. Roucan’s eyes made Louis pause. After a moment, his lips pressed into a thin line. The older man appeared satisfied with his reaction.
“Stop making excuses for what you’ve done,” Louis grounded out. He marched from the room and slammed the door close.
Doubt began to circle his mind. Louis balled his hands into fists, drawing blood from his palms. His father hadn’t denied his accusations. ‘Is she happy?’ he had simply stated.
Don’t listen to him. He’s lying. He always lies. Louis shook his head. What if he’s not? I need to see her again. Preoccupied, he didn’t notice that no one stopped him from leaving the premises.
“He’s gone now. You can come out,” Mr. Roucan said. He retrieved the holographic computer from the floor and checked its body for damages.
The shadows in the corner near the window shimmered and shifted. A man materialized from the scattering darkness and walked to the center of the study. A cloak made of glossy black material which resembled feathers slung on his left shoulder. It made a stark contrast to his white shirt, pants, and boots. Three brown feathers dangled on his high ponytail. White crow’s feet danced on each side of his temple. His sharp green eyes seemed to take in everything in the room while it stayed on his host.
“You could have handled it better,” the man commented drily.
“I did what your Oracle requested.” Mr. Roucan set the device on the desk.
“It was a warning she gave you.”
“She’s astoundingly late to be giving out warnings.” Mr. Roucan glared at his unexpected visitor. Where was the Oracle when his family had been threatened, taken hostage, and his wife murdered? Who and where is she? Why send a messenger instead of delivering it herself? “You and your Oracle make it difficult to believe this warning.”
“Once there was a man who wished to change the world. The Giver, a woman shrouded in mystery, granted him priceless gifts to achieve his goal. Such gifts, however, require a token from the receiver: his heart. But Fate decreed he would fail. He lost his heart to the Giver and hers to him. With the breaking of his vow, it took the life of the Giver along with his heart.”
“I’ve heard of that lore.”
“Not lore. It was an ancient prophecy foretold by one of the most powerful Seers in Uruimeth. A prophecy which pertains to you.”
“Does it?” Mr. Roucan scoffed. “I always believed that I shape my own destiny.”
His visitor looked at him strangely.
“Is there anything else you want to tell me?” A hint of irritation entered his voice. Who was this man? Mr. Roucan had never been uncomfortable in his own domain before. The only times he had been unsure of himself was when his late wife was in a foul mood and when he visited his daughter Electra in the forest.
The man tilted his head to the side and answered, “None. My work here is done.” He bowed his head slightly. “The Oracle sends her regards.” The feathers on his cloak detached itself, swirling around its wearer. In mere seconds, it turned into a mini tornado and swallowed him whole. A brown feather flitted in the air and landed softly on the floor.
Mr. Roucan stared at the only evidence left by the Oracle’s messenger with foreboding.
Copyright © 2014-2016 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: Is Mr Roucan really a bad person? Is he the villain in this story? What do you think he’ll do next after receiving a warning? What exactly did it say?
We’ll be going back to Fred on the next chapter with a surprise in store…
Stay tuned for the next chapter to be released on March. 😉
Comments and votes are welcome and much appreciated. 🙂
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