Captured by the Dark Lord (10 page)

BOOK: Captured by the Dark Lord
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Bianca blinked rapidly,
adjusting to the light.  “Adriana?”

 

Adriana threw herself at
Bianca and hugged her tightly, smothering her with her embrace.  She pulled
back to look at her, then laughed and hugged her again.  “Oh, Bianca, we
worried we would never see you again.  Father is on his way.  When you started
to stir, I sent for him.”

 

Adriana sat on the edge of
the bed, patting her leg.  “Do you need anything?  Are you thirsty, or hungry?”

 

Bianca smiled.  “No, I’m
fine.  And I’ll be glad to see father.  But really, Adriana, why do you carry
on so.  It’s only been--”

 

The door burst open and her
father strode inside.  He shouted and laughed to see her and shuffled to the
bed.  After many hugs and kisses, he pulled back from her and collapsed in a
chair, holding her hand.  “We’d nearly given up hope of finding you.”

 

“I’m sorry, father.  I
thought I was doing the right thing.  I never imagined things would turn out
this way.”

 

John looked confused ... and
worried.  His brow wrinkled as he frowned, and he ran his fingers through his
thin, snowy hair.  “Daughter, I can’t imagine what you were thinking, but I
have some news for you.”

 

Bianca sat up in the bed,
frightened by his and Adriana’s serious expressions.  “What is the matter?”

 

“When you went missing,
Cerise struck out after you.  You know how bold she is.  I fear she is lost
somewhere in the valley ... or she has been taken into Hellsing.  She has been
missing for several days now, and I fear if weeks go by without her return as
with what happened with you, we will never find her.”

 

Bianca shook her head,
confused.  “That’s not right.  I’ve only been gone a week.  Cerise cannot be so
deeply lost in that short a time.  You exaggerate, father.”

 

His eyes widened, and he
released her hand as she pulled away.  “No, I do not.  It has been
weeks,
my daughter.  Weeks.”

 

This wasn’t right.  Something
was terribly, terribly wrong.  Her world could not have skewed so horribly. 
Damian could help her set things to rights.  He’d been the impetus since the
beginning--he had to help her sort this out.  “I will ask Damian to help us.”

 

“Who?” John asked, glancing
at Adriana.  Adriana shrugged, shaking her head.

 

Bianca massaged her temple. 
Her head pounded like a drum.  “The death knight.  I forgot you would likely
not know his name.”

 

“Please, Bianca, this is no
time for jests.”

 

“You do not remember the deal
you struck with the death knight?  I ran away that night to save you.”

 

“I know not why you left,
daughter, but I am glad you are home.  Perhaps you can help us find Cerise. 
The trackers picked up her trail heading to Hellsing.  I feel certain we will
locate her there, somewhere near the border.  I’ve already sent some men in to
continue tracking.”

 

“This can’t be happening.  It
cannot.  He was
real
, father.  As real as you or I!”

 

Adriana stood, looking
worried, and left.  Bianca scarcely noticed her passing, her mind in a whirl.

 

“You are delirious from your
time in the woods.  I’ll leave you to get some more rest.  Do not worry
overmuch about Cerise.  I have our best men looking.  I should not have
mentioned it to you so soon, when you’ve not even recovered from your trials.”

 

Bianca nodded and watched as
he left, dousing the candles near the door.  She was not so addle brained she
couldn’t remember where she’d spent the last week … or weeks.  And she’d most
certainly not been gone longer than that.  Why could he not remember what had
happened?  Did he not think it strange that she would just suddenly run away?

 

It made no sense.  Her head
continued to throb with pain, and she massaged her temples and the bridge of
her nose.

 

Tomorrow she would go into
the valley.  If what her father said was true, she had no need to stay here. 
Cerise was a handful, but she had a notoriously bad sense of direction, and
she’d always managed to leave a trail behind in her ramblings through the woods
wide enough any tracker worth his salt could find her with his eyes closed.

 

No, she would go out
tomorrow, not to help track her sister down, but to find Helmskeep.  She was
not insane.  Damian was real, and she would prove it.

 

A knock sounded softly on the
door before it opened.  Adriana stepped inside, carrying a tray with what
smelled like broth on it.

 

“I thought perhaps you could
use this,” she said and handed it to her.

 

Bianca accepted the cup and
stopped Adriana from going.  “You believe me, don’t you Adriana?  About the ...
death knight?”

 

She hesitated, then sat in
the chair by the bed.  “I-I believe that you do.”

 

Bianca frowned and sipped the
steaming broth, burning her tongue.  She set it down on her bedside table. 
“There has to be some way to convince you I’m not mad.”

 

“I want to believe you, but
there’s no proof--”

 

“His coat of arms!”  Bianca
flung the covers off her legs.  “That is the key.”

 

“What are you talking about? 
And where are you going?”

 

Bianca stood and slipped a
robe around her shoulders.  “I’m going to the library.”  She took one of the
candles glowing by the bed.

 

Adriana followed her as she
left the room and walked down the hall.  “Why?”

 

“There are histories of
Raedan’s ruling families, as well as neighboring provinces.  I recognized
Damian’s coat of arms from somewhere: a spider and a rose.  If I can find it,
perhaps then you’ll believe me.”  They reached the library, and Bianca lit
several more candles around the room, flooding the small room with light.

 

“That does sound familiar.” 
Adriana rubbed her hands excitedly, looking around at the shelves of books. 
“It’s almost like a treasure hunt.”

 

Adriana always saw the
positive side of every situation. Bianca worried that someday that brightness
would be snuffed.

 

“Start looking for genealogy,
then move on to history.  He said it had been several centuries, so that would
be many generations ago.”  Bianca passed philosophy titles and religion.  She
found several written purely for entertainment, and set those aside for later
reading.  They’d been looking for half an hour before Bianca ran across her
first book recording the family history.  Others bound similarly with gold
scrollwork lined the shelves below it.

 

Bianca sighed and pulled the
first one down and began reading.  Hours later, bleary eyed and tired, she
still hadn’t discovered anything about Damian.

 

“Bianca?” Adriana called
behind her

 

Bianca flipped through the
gilt edged pages.  “Hmm?”

 

“You said a rose and what?”

 

Bianca turned around, feeling
a tremor of excitement.  “A spider.  A rose and a spider.  He had banners with
that insignia, and it was etched into his armor.”

 

Adriana held up a massive
book she held, turning the pages toward Bianca.  There was an illustration. 
“Like this?”

 

“Oh my gods!”  Bianca jumped
up and rushed to her, grabbing the book.  “Exactly like this!”

 

The book was ancient, the
pages filled with old style illumination.  It was opened to one of the last
pages, and painted with ink and oils was a depiction of a battle.  Hordes of
dark creatures filled the bottom half, battling knights with surcoats of silver
and purple.  Above them all on a precipice stood a knight in silver armor. 
Platinum hair escaped his helm, and a cape flew from his shoulders, embroidered
with a crest of a single rose and a spider twined around the stem.  In his
hand, he raised a lance high, streaming his banner, and rising above him stood
a white as death man, cloaked in black with a mist swirling around him. 

 

Bianca felt a chill slither
up her spine, and she shivered unconsciously.  The detail of the picture was
magnificent, a masterpiece of the times.  Bianca held her place and flipped the
cover back.  It was titled simply, A History of the Valiants.

 

“Is it him?”

 

Bianca turned back to the
picture.  “It has to be,” she said breathlessly.  Carefully, she turned the
ancient page.  She scanned the lengthy passage, stunned.

 

Adriana noticed her pallor
and asked, “What is the matter?”

 

Tears pooled in her eyes, and
she wiped them away, staring down at the page angrily.  “The last battle of the
Duke of Keiranon, Damian Alessandro of Helmskeep.  ...As the king commanded his
champion, so did Lord Keiranon obey.  He gathered his armies to Hellsing where
the necromancer, Morveresson, lay in wait.  Long had his blackness saturated
the land with evil.”

 

Bianca skipped down to where
the action picked up once more.  “...the blood of his men stained the
battlefield, swarmed by the growing horde.  In a last valiant strike, Lord
Keiranon pushed through Morveresson’s legions.  Through the dying cries of his
men, there could be heard his prayer, that though he should die, so too would
the evil upon the land.  May the gods give him strength.  His steed burst past
the last resistance, and Lord Keiranon poised to strike.  Through the air his
lance soared, striking Morveresson through the heart--”  Bianca broke off as
she shuddered for breath, her eyes pooling once more.

 

Adriana rubbed her back,
leaning her head on her shoulder.  “Is that all?”

 

Bianca shook her head and
continued.  “...With his last breath, Morveresson whispered the words of a
curse unknown, and a black blade could be seen flying through the air.  Lord
Keiranon did not see the blade’s approach in his triumph, and the blackness pierced
his armor, striking his heart.  ...And as the necromancer breathed his last
breath, so too did Lord Keiranon, last of the Valiants, die.”

 

He’d not been a monster. 
He’d performed no black deeds.  He was a hero, and in an ironic twist of fate,
he’d been cursed to eternity as a creature of darkness.  She had been wrong, so
very wrong....

 

The tears welled up once
more, but Bianca made no attempt to stop them.

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

“Are you certain you want to
do this, Bianca?  I fear what father will do once he finds you’ve gone again,”
Adriana whispered to her, nervously glancing around the dark stable.

 

Even though he’d been
tremendously happy to see his mistress returned, Beast was a monster of a
horse, and it took both of them to saddle him.

 

“That’s why you shall cover
for me.  And if he finds us out, just make sure he reads my letter.”  Bianca
put her foot in the stirrup and lifted herself onto Beast.  She tightened her
cloak around her shoulders and tucked her skirts around her legs.

 

“I just worry about you,
Bianca.  You’ve changed somehow.  You were never so ... so sorrowful before.”

 

Bianca reached down and
touched her sister’s hair, smiling.  “I know.  And I must do this if I am ever
going to go on with my life.  I will return as soon as I can.  Beast made the
journey before in but a day and a half.”

 

Adriana nodded and opened the
stable door for her.  The courtyard was quiet, more so than usual, for many of
her father’s men were out searching for Cerise before the trail could grow
cold.

 

She hated leaving now but
knew this couldn’t wait either.  She had to let Damian know she’d discovered
the truth.

 

Beast followed Adriana across
the yard, and Bianca waited as she opened the small, private gate hidden in one
corner of the courtyard.

 

Bianca guided Beast past the
narrow door, her legs nearly scraping on the thick stone walls.  But they made
it through.

 

BOOK: Captured by the Dark Lord
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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