Charlotte, △△△, Devan, & Persephone
Finally, Charlotte returned and announced the guards were gone. Persephone immediately uttered the countercourse and fell to the floor with a loud thud. She groaned in pain and sat up, then crawled out from under the table. She pressed the wet rag to her face and nodded towards Charlotte. ”Thank you, I owe you all. It is greatly appreciated. As for the truth - where would you like me to begin?” It felt as if weights were holding down her legs as she crawled out of sight of the windows despite the curtains being closed.
“Please begin from last night.” Charlotte replied curtly.
Persephone nodded and took several deep breaths. The cold cloth against her face kept her awake, and she resisted the urge to yawn. Blinking, she rubbed her eyes, and then began speaking. ”I attended the ball in order to steal food. I had a bag with me I used to hide everything in. I’ve… I have been on my own, and well, living is rough in the slums especially with my family’s… history. After the ball ended, I went to go check my loot when I heard Calbert talking to you. I eavesdropped on the conversation while eating, because I was shocked to hear it. He left suddenly so I tried to hide in the trees but he saw me and followed. There, he threatened me if I exposed what he’d said to you and threatened to have me punished for stealing from the feast. …. So then…”
Charlotte glanced at Count Fritz, her initial reaction a mix of emotions. However, Persephone’s next words quickly drew her attention back to her.
Persephone’s voice quivered when the memories of Violet’s dead body filled her mind’s eye. Tears blinded her vision, but she rubbed her eyes and continued. ”...After that mess, I had changed and was walking around the streets, eating, because I was so hungry, when I saw… I saw… V-V-Violet D-D-Damien’s dead.. Dead body… With an ax to the face.. I don’t.. I don’t know how.” Persephone choked up and shook her head, but continued speaking. ”And I dropped bread from my bag I noticed earlier this morning, the same from the banquet and what Calbert had seen, so now he thinks I killed her. I didn’t do it though! I’m not strong enough to wield an ax!”
Charlotte’s hand immediately went to her mouth in shock. Her eyes widened as she struggled to process the information. She slowly made her way over to a chair and sat down, feeling overwhelmed by the gravity of what she was hearing.
Persephone hiccuped and wiped her eyes on her clothes. There was a pause while she collected herself, then continued, but her voice shook. ”And at the ball… Kazumin upset Crystal, I don’t know how the girl’s so clueless and fragile. So Calbert wanted Kazumin over for “brunch” and well, by the time I arrived he was threatening Kazumin, had a gun to his head and wanted to take him hostage, it looked like, so I intervened. I used the invisibility spell to hide us running away and came here because I couldn’t hold the magic for too long. I’m so sorry Charlotte.” Persephone broke down crying now due to the stress, terror, and anxiety overwhelming her. ”Kazu is my childhood friend and the only person I have left in this shitty world because my family’s dead. I didn’t want to lose him. I just found him yesterday.”
”...” Charlotte’s gaze was lowered as she listened, her grief palpable to the others in the room despite the silence. The idea of Violet being gone made her sick, let alone knowing she could have been killed in such a vile way. That was unbearable. Her eyes watered as images of Violet flashed before her. She wanted to believe Persephone was lying, but it certainly hadn’t sounded like so. Though she had listened and absorbed all that Percy had said, she had only initially managed a few words half-heartedly after a pause. “Don’t speak poorly of Lady Crystal… She is precious to me.”
Persephone glanced at her without a word. She would have uttered a sarcastic response normally, but she didn’t dare test the waters. ”....Sorry.” Her words fell flat, however the effort had been made. She gritted her teeth and pulled her knees up to her chest.
She tapped her nails on the table as if trying to soothe herself. Tears spilled over from her eyes and soundlessly slid down her cheeks as she glanced up at Persephone again. “I don’t know who would want to hurt Lady Violet. She’s an innocent woman who keeps to herself. I-...” Charlotte sighed deeply and shut her eyes tightly for a moment in an attempt to compose herself and collect her thoughts.
”I have no reason to want to kill them off. I was happy living the farmer peasant life… before…” She trailed off and shook her head without finishing her sentence. ”I don’t want anything to do with this bullshit. I regret going to the ball or being there.” Or being alive, really.
△△△ listened to story with a stoic expression. For the most part, it matched Peter’s account of events. Assuming Duke Damien’s true character was not as genial as he pretended to be, the rest of her story sounded credible as well. If there was anything that surprised him, it was how openly Persephone admitted to using magic. His eyes drifted to Lady Vikena’s direction, wondering if she caught that detail buried in the tragic news.
Charlotte raised her head and met Count Fritz’s gaze. She gave him a subtle nod. He’s giving me a ‘I told you so’ look… I suppose magic’s the word of the day. She thought to herself and shifted uncomfortably.
“Do you think Count Damien was aware of his daughter’s murder when he had us trapped in the tavern?” he asked.
There was a long, awkward silence before she stood up. She moved to retrieve a tissue and approached Persephone. Charlotte then began to dab at the blonde girl’s eyes delicately. “You poor soul.” She commented finally quietly. “This situation is worse than I thought… But I assure you, I will do everything in my power to make sure it works out okay..” She gently brushed her hair behind her ears. “You’re going to have to remain here and try to lay low, Percy… Alright? And I think maybe we need to change up your appearance.”
“If worse comes to worse, I offer my abode as refuge as well.” △△△ added, ignoring Udo’s frustrated groans and Peter’s fist pump.
Persephone stiffened when Charlotte stood up then approached her. Her gaze was watchful, like a prey animal cornered. She watched with astonishment as Charlotte… dabbed at her eyes? Seph didn’t move, unsure of how to respond. She locked eyes with Charlotte as she spoke and sniffled.
”Th-...Thank you….” She whispered, and began sobering up. Her tears flowed, but not as heavily as before, and the rest that flowed were blinked back. Persephone took several deep breaths again and gently set a hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. ”.There are some spells… I can use it to alter my appearance… but I don’t have the stamina for them at the moment. I don’t.. I don’t want to use too much more right now too…”
She trailed off, then continued. ”In exchange for your empathy and help, I will make it up to you; I can cook, clean, and sew. I’ll make whatever you want when you want. How’s that?” I am really sorry for dragging you all into this. I didn’t … I didn’t mean to…”
Next, Count Fritz spoke cand caught her attention. Persephone looked at him with surprise, then nodded gratefully. ”Thank.. Thank you. I appreciate it.”
”Spells…” Charlotte repeated as if tasting the word. She was uncertain on how she felt about that remark. “Well… I am not looking for anything in return so, um, don’t worry.
The count and the rooster exchanged a short glance. Lady Vikena clearly heard the taboo words, but avoided addressing the matter. He doubted she started to believe the existence of magic just because Persephone said she used it. He hoped, however, that it helped the seed take root in her mind.
Then again… Lady Vikena could potentially witness the aftermath of magic firsthand. △△△ studied Persephone carefully.The nosebleed and fatigue were clear signs she used magic. Her heavy movements suggested the backlash from levitation. What about the consequences for invisibility?
Things had a way of going wrong... quickly around here, Devan was learning that.
He had allocated most of his focus towards unpacking, trying to get into the groove of being here. From the pancakes at the park back to the estate, he'd been stuck churning over the situation he was in. Charlotte was stressed, people seemed to be at one another's throats and everything was otherwise too exciting for his tastes.
Unfortunately for him, it continued to be exciting.
He was jarred from his task by the sound of glass shattering, of the blasting of guns. The suddenness of everything made him terribly reluctant to even humor it but the idea that someone he cared about could be in danger was enough that he pushed himself to his feet. "This is a nightmare." He notes to himself quietly, "I could have kept delivering mail."
Of course, he couldn't have, because his parents would have found some way to cut into that and ruin it but-- it was a nice thought. All the same, he needed to tackle the current issue before he started reminiscing on the fact that he didn't have a job anymore and that this chaos was his chaos now. He made his way towards the noise, ignoring every valid instinct in him that told him that approaching chaos was asking to be a part of the chaos.
Approach he did though and eventually he was standing at the edge of all of it.
He drew in a breath, exhaled it through his nose and said. "...is everything okay in here? Or do I want to know?"