126 Isle Valley
~The chapter is long, hence the high SS. Read the Author's note~
The next two days, Leonard kept a close watch on Vivian's health. Making sure she was sleeping enough and eating the right food. It made Vivian feel only that much aware and conscious as if she were a pregnant woman which made her laugh.
There was a month gap before the second exam would take place, enough for her to relax and mentally prepare herself to whatever task or job was going to be given to her. Her fever had passed like any other time. It appeared that the venom was out of her system and there was no need for the medicines provided by the church.
Having the sun out after such a long time, Vivian had decided to pluck the flowers from the garden. Though she had intended to pluck them out, she had let them be. The sunlight of Bonelake wasn't harsh, it felt nice and mellow on her skin. With Leonard who had gone out on an errand after pushing his work so that he could stay with her, she stepped out of the mansion and in the garden like area which resided in front of the mansion.
Taking a deep breath of air where she was surrounded by the fragrant flowers, she let out a sigh. Not able to help herself, she touched her canines again to feel no fangs in there. Since she had come to know about her being pureblooded vampire before she turned to a human, her thoughts often drifted to what would have caused the change.
Having read many books in the study room of the mansion she had never come across a reversal process. A human after being turned to a vampire could not change back to a human again. The whole process was irreversible. This only made her wonder how a person who was of pureblooded vampire nature could turn to a human. Did it have something to do with a change in mutation? Only her parents could tell her, that is if they knew about it.
Lost in her thoughts, Vivian was daydreaming under the sun when she heard a carriage pull into the vicinity of the mansion.
The carriage was pulled by two horses that came to a halt with the coachman who pulled the reins of the horses. Not having this particular carriage seen before, she wondered whom it belonged to. Unsure if she was to go greet them, she stood in her place while she saw the housekeeper arrive at the doorstep in a second. A woman stepped down with her flowing dress, brunette wavy hair which was left open making it difficult for her to see who had come to visit.
Seeing the side face of the woman, she realized it was Leonard's second cousin, Eleanor Henz.
Coming from one of the high-class family of pureblooded vampires, she had acquired the best genes from her parents. Her features were pleasant on one's eye and her presence of beauty which made people's head turn to look at her more than once.
Vivian who had spoken her previously walked towards, walking past the shrubs she greeted the vampiress who was going to enter the mansion, "Good morning, Lady Eleanor," at her voice, the woman turned around with raised eyebrows of who had called her.
"Lady Vivian," Eleanor smiled, her eyes bright as her lips pulled up, "What pleasant surprise to find you here. Are you waiting for Leonard?"
She hadn't thought about it twice before approaching Eleanor that what she would answer for being out in the Carmichael's mansion. Not many knew about her being a maid who once worked in this mansion- cleaning the floors, washing the clothes of the guests, cooking in the kitchen while also cleaning the utensils. The list went on but no one knew about it except for some close ones about her staying in the mansion with Leonard. Though they slept in separate rooms, a young woman staying in a man's mansion didn't appease to the society unless there was a reason for it.
"Ah, yes," was the quick response she could think of, "Duke Leonard has gone out in some business."
Eleanor looked at Vivian, her dark eyes scanning the human in front of her subtly as she said, "So I have heard. It's a shame he isn't home. I was hoping to meet him as I was passing by," the vampiress explained before looking at the housekeeper with less regard, "I won't need your assistance on it. Lady Vivian is here now. What?" she asked, her tone changing when the housekeeper failed to respond immediately.
He bowed at her, "Yes, madam Henz."
"What did you want assistance about?" Vivian asked, her eyes moving from the woman to the housekeeper who had his eyes cast down on the ground.
The vampiress then grinned, coming to link her hands with Vivian, she asked, "With the Winter ball approaching so quickly I needed help in picking my clothes for it. Unfortunately, my cousin seems to be busy. Would you like to accompany me to the Isle Valley?"
"Yes, there's only one Isle Valley," Eleanor laughed, nudging her gently towards her carriage which was still halted in front of the Carmichael mansion. Isle Valley was a famous shop street for the high-class society members when it came to shopping from clothes to shoes to jewelry which couldn't be found anywhere else in the Bonelake, "I already have my shoes but I need to buy my gown," Vivian couldn't say no to her when the vampiress looked excited about having her as her company for the day.
Eleanor was the first one to get into the carriage and while handled her dress to get into the carriage without letting it crumple or get stuck to the door of the carriage, Vivian had turned around to look the housekeeper who had his head down but his eyes up which she didn't know to categorize as funny or something to worry about.
Not able to say that she would return back soon, she pursed her lips and followed Eleanor into the carriage.
The Isle Valley was a grand town, shops that had dressed mannequins to showcase the sample gowns and dress. She didn't get to see all of them closely but with what her eyes captured she could tell that she would not be able to afford a single piece cloth or even a kerchief with the money she had collected for herself which was very little.
She had found out about her being a pureblooded vampire but it made her wonder if it mattered.
She was a human right now, a human who couldn't turn to a vampire and it made the matter that much less significant. The only considerable point was that she could meet her parents, know about them and see. She had plenty of questions for them which was looking for answers now. Vivian was a former pureblooded vampire but she still had the status of the maid turned lady. She had no money of her own. No inheritance that she could walk in these streets as if she had heaps of gold yet she walked with her head held high.
When both Eleanor and Vivian were walking down the high-class streets of Bonelake, she came to witness things she had never come across before.
On one side there were rich men and women who wore expensive silk-like clothes as the strolled down with their chin up and eyes down as if they were the highest beings while on the other side, she caught sight of slaves. It was the dark side of society she had stepped into. Men, women and even children were bound in chains like pets as their master or mistress' pulled their collared chain as they walked on the side of the street.
Having been sheltered all her life in the Carmichael mansion, and also protected by the Duke himself, she had never come to witness this side of the life. She had only heard about the slave establishment but never had seen how the slaves were treated. Though most of the slaves were brought and made to work as the workers in the owner's house which were a little better when compared to the others slaves who were collared and dragged like a pet in front of everyone.
"Oh my, look at that! That's what I have been waiting for," she heard Eleanor exclaim and pushing the store's door open which jingled.
Vivian walked into the store after the vampiress and gotten in. She found it strange how one could turn a human or another being for that matter to a mere pet. There was no freedom, their life was put in a box where one couldn't stretch their arms. Seeing Eleanor look through the gowns which were offered in front of her in bulk, Vivian wondered how normal it was for the elite class. This was what they grew up around, a slave was a slave to them and nothing more than that.
"What do you think of this?" Eleanor picked the dress to place it over her front, standing in front of the mirror while moving side to side as she swung the bright red dress, "I think it will match well with Leonard," this caught Vivian's attention and as if realizing what the vampiress had told her, she corrected, "When we were young, Leo and I always matched our clothes. Actually, it was I who matched out clothes with him," she laughed at the fond memory.
"Must have been good childhood memories," Vivian commented with a smile on her lips. Though she couldn't recollect all of it, she herself had some childhood memories of her's with Leo.
"It was," the vampiress responded staring at herself in the mirror, "I missed the last two Winters ball but I have made sure to keep myself free this time."
Vivian then suggested, "It looks beautiful. Maybe you should go try it on," Eleanor nodded before going to change herself into the gown.
The storekeeper who was a lady asked Vivian, "How about you, Miss? Wouldn't you want to take a look at the gowns for yourself?"
"I am fine, thank you," she replied politely, waiting for Eleanor to return back.
Eleanor took her sweet time and Vivian didn't know what to do but wait. She sat there as minutes passed to hear the door behind her jingle where another customer had entered the store. Not bothering to see who had entered she stared at the gown lost in her thoughts when she heard Leo's voice right behind her.
"Are you not going to look for gowns to wear?"
Her head snapped, turning around she saw Leonard standing tall in front of her. What was he doing here?
Unable to stop but ask, she asked him, "What are you doing here?" but Eleanor had returned wearing the red gown she had previously taken along with her.
"Vivian, I think I will-Leo?"
"Hey, El. You look beautiful," he complimented her to which his cousin blushed, "I was passing when I noticed your carriage parked. Are you buying clothes for the Winter Ball?"
"Yes. I didn't want to wear the one which I already have worn."
Truth was that Leonard had arrived at the mansion a few minutes after both the women had left for the Isle valley to find out from his housekeeper that his second cousin had taken Vivian along with her to shop for the Winter Ball.
Hearing it, he had gotten into the carriage to head here. He hadn't come here because he thought his cousin, Eleanor was going to harm Vivian but it was because there were other people who walked down the same streets whom he didn't trust.
Vivian might have appeared to look ladylike but there were some pureblooded vampires who would find her human self with her old habits or question her under who she was by the guards of the Isle Valley. Lower beings from the lower class often sneaked into the town which was designed only for the high-class society. The outlook of the society was such that they didn't want peasants living, breathing or even seeing what was in there.
"Let me go change and we can head back home," said Eleanor with a bright smile on her face she disappeared behind the wall.
Once she was gone, Leonard then questioned, "Didn't find anything suitable to your taste?" his eyes scanned over the number of gowns that had been stack one over the other. Having accompanied Charlotte over different occasions of buying clothes, he was quite familiar when it came to women's clothing and dresses. He missed Charlotte dearly, remembering her annoying childlike character to get what she wanted but with no harm done to people around her.
"I have enough dresses for now. I wouldn't need it," she replied while he picked one gown before dropping it.
"You will need one for Winter's ball. One which is your own one," though she had heard a lot about the ball she had never been to one of them. Not everyone was invited to it. Another reason why she had no need to buy more dresses was that Leonard let her borrow the clothes which Mrs. Carmichael had stuffed in the closet for the guests, "Is this all that you have? What about the one in that box?" he asked the storekeeper, his eyes falling on the wooden box which laid in the corner.
"That one is an old piece, Sir. It was sent this noon by the weaver to remodel it or use the material as seen fit. I don't think you will like it," she answered to see the man firm on wanting to see what it had. Walking to fetch the box, the woman got back with the heavy box to place it on the counter. Vivian noticed that as the woman said, it must have been old as the box had collected a good amount of dust above it. She blew at the top of the box, despite calling the dress to be old she tried getting the dust off the top so that she could open it without getting the dirt on the dress.
Eleanor who had come out with the red gown wrapped around her arm, she saw Leonard looking for the dress while standing in front of the shopkeeper.
Stepping close to where they were, she asked, "You're looking for more gowns? Is this not good?" she saw the woman open the box where the dress was wrapped in a purple satin cloth.
"Your gown is beautiful, Eleanor. Miss Vivian here told me she didn't buy a dress yet for herself for the ball. It would be a shame to not buy when she's come all the way from the other town," he glanced towards Vivian who had been put in a spot.
"Did you change your mind, Vivian? The last I asked her she said she wasn't going. Don't tell me that my cousin changed your mind," Eleanor smiled teasingly, causing Vivia to laugh. Vivian herself didn't know that she was going until Leonard mentioned about buying her a dress for it.
Thankfully, the store woman picked the gown that laid inside the box to let them see a black dress which looked decent. It didn't hold a candle to the red dress Eleanor had picked for herself but the black one didn't look bad.
Maybe it called less attention to it that the bright red color which made Leonard say, "Pack this one."
He didn't give Vivian the choice for a yes or a no, or to let her try on if it suited her. All the three women in the room stared at Leonard for his quick decision.
"Let Vivian tell if she likes it or not," Eleanor commented touching the black material which didn't feel bad on her fingers. Did you like it? We can look for other ones," she turned to ask the human girl.
Leonard stood behind Eleanor near the counter and when Vivian's eyes met his, she didn't know what to make of his serious expression. When she came out with Eleanor, she had no intention of buying anything, not only because she had no money but also as she had no use for more dresses. Refusing would earn a bad mood from Leo.
"It's a lovely gown," she smiled to see him tip his head up in satisfaction.
"Let me get them packed," saying this, the woman went to the counter. Eleanor, who still eyed the black dress asked the woman curious about the cost of the gown, "What is the price of the red gown?"
"That would be twenty-seven coins of gold, milady," there was a look of pure pride when the woman gave out the price of it. Vivian's eyes widened as she heard it, twenty-seven gold coins for a dress? That was ridiculous at the same time one couldn't bargain about it. This was the Isle town where men and women were bound to have money. She was glad that the black dress was old, at least the price of it would be less compared to the other dresses that surrounded it.
Eleanor who looked pleased "How about the black one?"
"That would be thirty-two gold coins."
"Thirty-two? It's an old dress," Eleanor argued to see the dress being placed in the box she had taken out from previously.
"Precisely, milady. It's an old piece, two centuries old which is made of fine silk. Some clothes are older the better, just like the wine I say," she laughed, once she was done packing the red gown, she asked the Duke, "Would you like to pay it here, Sir?"
"Hmm," he hummed, looking at Eleanor's empty hands he said, "Send the bill of the black dress to the Carmichael mansion and you can send the red one to Henz' mansion," hearing this the vampiress' face fell as if she had seen a ghost. It was as if her face fell and she didn't understand why he was billing Ms. Vivian's cost of dress and sending her's to her home when he could bill both of them together.
Vivian who had been seeing everything behind standing quietly saw the nervous smile and disappointment that Eleanor hid when Leo asked her what happened as she stood frozen.
The coachman took the box of gowns which was packed, stepping out of the store Eleanor said, "Father said he wanted to talk to you about the mid-performance of the towns that had been surveyed in Bonelake," Leonard didn't answer to it first as if he were thinking about something before he said,
"I take that you don't have a carriage to return home," he spoke to Vivian not wanting to leave her alone here, "Take my carriage to return back..home. I will accompany Eleanor to meet her father," and before they could part away someone greeted Leonard.
"Duke Carmichael," she heard a familiar voice.
Whoever it was had the ability to bring the displeased look on Leonard's face, like a dark cloud that had appeared his eyebrows contoured together. Vivian turned her head to see the curly-haired man with a warm smile on his lips. It was Jerome Wells.