A young child, not older than six stood beneath a tree. Their appearance was simply, beautiful. The child was looking up at the tree and if you asked him what he was looking at, he himself was unsure. The child stood still, too still, one would mistake the child for a statue.
The child breathed slowly, taking in the scenery before his eyes. The tree before him entertained him by swinging its branches left to right. Back and forth.
The child smiled, looked at their hand and looked up again. Perhaps his neck was tired from staring up too long. Perhaps he was searching for an answer. An answer only the tree knew.
The child raised up their hands as if to try and grasp the mystery that was making the tree so delighted. They stood on their tippy toes and stretched. Its flowers bloomed in an instance, like they were enchanted.
And almost immediately, the tree swung its branches a little harder. Just enough for some of its flowers to get detached. The scenery made the little one giggle.
They danced with the flowers that flew around him. His hair came into view as he stepped out of the trees shadow. He had beautiful sapphire hair that complemented his baby-like features. However, on closer inspection, that was where the complements stopped.
His stretched hands were too thin for his age, his eyes were sunken. His body too looked malnourished to the point of wondering how it was still intact.
The nightgown on his body was worn out and tattered but he seemed okay and full of high spirits to care. At a second glance, he did not even look like a six year old.
”There he is. ” A familiar voice said, clearly displeased by this fact.
Those with them were amused by this. They continued looking at the boy as he danced with air, and giggled in his own fantasy. Even when he fell down from exhaustion and struggled to stand, they neither send their servants, nor did they react but looked as though they were viewing the most exciting street play ever.
A fan was flipped open before that familiar voice spoke again.
”I suddenly feel sick, why don we leave? ”
A few protests like, ”Just a little longer. ”, ”Its hilarious. Fall one more time. ” Were heard.
”Older sister is right, we might get infected by… whatever this is. ”
None of the spoke, and they all left, convinced that what the little boy was doing was no more than an infectious disease.
The boy was out of breath from dancing with the flower petals. He looked pale and his legs gave out unable to hold his weight. He was breathing heavily. The sun made him feel uncomfortable so he crawled to the trees shadow slowly.
The tree was also trying to help by stretching its outer most leaves to protect him. He made to its shadow but still continued further until he came to the spot he initially stood.
He laid on his back and took in the scenery again. The cool air felt great on his hot skin. He smiled to himself while allowing sleep to take over.
A man, accompanied by an acquaintance walked while making small talk. When he reached by the huge tree, he stopped and took it in. His lips twitched in a small tight smile before he decided to continue with their conversation when something strange caught his eye. Something white on the ground.
Furious, he stormed to the tree, ready to blow a fuse or two at whoever it was that was desecrating his late wifes final resting place. When he got closer, a mix of emotions drowned him. And, after a long time, he was unable to make a move. He froze in place. The man with him ran after him.
”Grand duke, you have matters o- ” he did not finish. The intensity of bloodlust from his employer made him take ten steps back before he thought of speaking to him. Of course, he had experienced this more than a few time, however, not once had he ever gotten used to it.
Now was no different, and the look on his face could bury him six feet under in an instant. His legs buckled in fear. His heart was packing to leave for its next life. He could feel his blood rushing through his body. And he needed to head to the restroom urgently! But, he could not move without telling his master. Plus, he could not talk to him. At least, not now.
The Grand Duke approached what he had seen, snapping him out of his thoughts and picking his curiosity. His murderous aura till rampant. The boy groaned making him pause. He sighed, mentally scolded himself and tried his best to control it. He continued walking toward it ad when he got close enough, he confirmed it.
What lay before him was his youngest son. He had been at the borders, controlling the outbreak of monsters. He had left his children to those left in the estate but…
His son whose was clothed in tatters, was lying asleep next to his mothers grave. The tree she had once planted stood firm over them, however, it had been six years since it bore any flowers like it used to.
He was convinced that the tree knew that its owner was gone. The Grand Dukes acquaintance watched as he did all this. The man made no attempt to move. He stood there still for a while and looked up at the tree. He stretched his free hand at the tombstone before heading back.
When he came closer, his scared face turned into a serious one. It was as if he turned into a completely different person. In an instant, he went on his knees and pleaded for mercy. It was hard to believe that the man who was cowering in fear was the same one that looked like he could lay his head down for his master.
The man addressed as the Grand Duke did not utter any words. He swiftly turned to head in the direction he came from.
They walked for a while in silence before they came to their destination. It looked like a section of the mansion that either wasn used or it was simply neglected. The Grand Duke clenched his teeth. His veins throbbed visible at his temple.
”You have your orders, Vitry. ” He said through clenched teeth.
”Father! ” an excited voice called to him. ”Wha- ”
”What is going on here? Echo. ” He said while running to the deserted section.
Vitry stopped him in his tracks but he still wanted to see what this place was. His father called out to him and he misunderstood, thinking that his father wanted to stop him or worse. However, he was handed something by his father rather carefully which was unlike him. His father requested that he retire to his room.
Whatever was in his hands was light. Lighter than the sword he had held for practice. His curiosity was filled when he looked down to see what it was. His time stopped as he couldn believe who he was holding. His could not control his tears from running down his face.
Without excusing himself, he left to tend to his little brother. Vitry left after him as well, leaving the Grand Duke by himself. The anger he had been suppressing blew out of proportion.
”Seems some dogs dared bare their fangs, time to give them more training. ” He said this while cracked the fingers of his right hand at once and left. He looked delighted despite the fact that some would lose a finger, a leg or their head.
Various ways to make them talk flooded his head. He was convinced that before letting the off their jobs, they needed to be reminded if who is their boss. And he was certain, to make sure of that.
When Echo woke up, he saw an unfamiliar face that held a look he had never seen before. Concern.
He wondered if he had done something wrong. The face smiled and patted his head. He picked him up slowly, afraid of breaking him. He fed him, bathed him and put him to sleep. This new face did not ask for much. Did not talk much. It was much better than the voices he was used to.
They said so much but did nothing while he had not spoken but it made him feel something stir deep inside. He was sure that he liked this feeling very much. Moreover, he was destined to receive more from this person who turned out to be his older brother who had just arrived from the academy.
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