Sacrificial Love (Chapter 2)
My presence in the room was no longer a secret. I cursed myself mentally, how could I be so stupid? I waited for any sign that would allow me to know if they were aware of my presence yet, but the room remained in utter and sheer silence.
"Oh dear me, these annoying birds fluttering by the windows." The headmistress brushed it off with a nervous laugh. I almost wanted to roll my eyes, that was the lamest thing she could have ever said. The head mistress was definitely aware that someone was in the room and instead of chastising the person as she would usually do- the person being me- she was quite bent on pretending that no one was here. It had to have had something to do with the guest.
"I had no idea birds made such horrifying sounds over here." The mockery in the man's voice was so evident that I felt like standing up and exposing myself right then and there, regardless of the consequences.
"Things are more different here than they are by you." My ears perked up at the words of the head mistresss.
"Then again, that is true."I felt like taking a peek at whoever he was. His voice was nothing like any of the voices I had ever heard before.
"Let us go, we do not want to be late, we can talk on our way out." I noticed the urgency in the headmistress's voice as she ushered the man out.
"I see you have an extraordinary table here." Something filled the voice, a mixture of boredom, and sarcasm. Oh god, I was sure that that man knew about my presence, why else would he mention the table?
I could hear the footsteps against the wooden flooring as they neared me. My heart leaped up and down what would happen if this man found me? Millions of thoughts scurried their way in and out of my mind enough to cause me a tumult of confusion.
I held my hand across my chest tightly as it beat against my rib cage, making me feel as though this man could hear it too if he came any more closer. The footsteps stopped right beside the desk. I shut my eyes tight, this might as well be my last breath, my last words, my last thoughts, okay maybe I was a little too dramatic, but it definitely felt like it was my last moment.
I felt a cold shudder of wind pass through me as the man stood beside the desk.
"Hmm, honey cakes, disgusting." My eyes opened up in horror in response to the man's words, and in the flash of a second, he walked away from the table and exited the room with the head mistress.
"Disgusting cakes?!" I repeated those words to myself as I crawled out from under the table. Just who did he think he was speaking so freely and rudely and vulgarly. I munched on the rest of the cookie while thinking of a million ways to squash that insect of a man if I ever saw him.
The grandfather clocks in the entire dormitory began ringing abruptly, and I had no more time to think of anything, I was very late. I held my skirt and raced to the main dining room where long rows of tables were set with chairs alongside them.
The only table occupied was the middle row, which was filled with all the girls who I recognized as being in the same age group as Loraine and me. Chills ran through my spine as I remembered Loraine mentioning all the girls who disappeared and then the conversation in the head mistresse’s office. Something was wrong here, but I cut my thoughts short as all the girls seated stared at me expectantly.
I ran my eyes through them until I spotted Loraine waving madly at me as she pointed to an empty seat besides her. I hopped towards her in excitement and took my seat beside her to receive a whack on my arm.
"Ow," I yelled at Loraine, which earned me more stares. If only all the girls here were as normal Loraine and me and engaged in conversation, then the hall would not be so silent, and my voice wouldn't be the only one being heard.
"Where were you?!" Loraine half screamed-half whispered to me.
As I was about to respond to her, the main doors to the dining room burst open, and the headmistress headed in.
I stood up along with all the other girls simultaneously, and we lowered our heads in respect.
"Girls, we have a special guest today, show your respects , and do not turn your faces to meet him, he is someone important." My ears perked up as she said that. Could it be that this guest is the man she spoke to in her office? I felt excitement at the tip of my toes. I might just be able to get a peek at who he was if I was lucky, because the head mistress already indicated that we would not be able to look at the guest. Still, knowing myself ,I would make a plan, curiosity was my greatest weakness.
Hard footsteps marched on the floor leading into the dining room, and as they stepped into the hall, all the girls greeted, but I remained silent as I tried figuring out whether the footsteps were the same as the ones in the office, but these footsteps were way harsher than the other man’s which meant that they were not of the same person.
"May you find warmth within our beloved abode, our beloved place to where we live under the sun." Simultaneously all the girls spoke their voices echoing in unison.
No sound or voice came from the man who stood in the front, and that is when another set of footsteps immerged, which I recognized instantly as the one who was in the office. So he was here! My mind wandered to who the other person could have been, but that was not important at this moment, I wanted to know what they were going to do.
"You may sit, let us feast first, and then we will continue with the formalities." His voice somehow sounded more pleasant and less scary as he spoke to everyone.
I sat down on my chair along with the other girls as the food was served to us by the maids. Nobody ever served us on regular days, if anyone did the serving, we all did it ourselves. Something was utterly wrong, and I could feel it. There was another table right in front of us where I assumed the head mistress was seated with the two strangers at that table.
I picked at the meat on my plate as I tried devising a way that I could peak at the strangers and not get noticed. I would simply pretend like I am eating and quickly sneak a glance from under my lashes, nobody would even notice.
My body felt nervous and jittery even though I had no reason to be nervous. Unless I got caught,and I was sure everyone was too busy eating to pay any notice to me. I bent my head slightly, and when I felt ready, I took a quick glance to the front to be met with a pair of eyes staring directly into mine, they were a stormy grey color, but I was not able to see any face because it was obscured with a mask. I screamed out of impulse, and by that, I mean really loud. I was not supposed to get caught staring, but I did, and I was caught off guard, which led to this reaction.
Everyone paused and turned their eyes to me questioningly. l could feel all the stares burning into me. I was flustered, oh god, was there any other way that I could embarrass myself even more? It seemed I was destined for humiliation.
The headmistress looked straight into my eyes with anger swirling in them. "You are dismissed, I am very sure I made myself clear on ettiquette." Even though she spoke calmly, I knew she was probably fuming inside, but dismissing me? She would never do that, so why was she doing this to me now in front of everyone. I was part of the girls, and I deserved to be here and to find out exactly what was going on as much as anyone else did.
"I-I am sorry, I thought there was a mouse under my foot." I said the first thing that popped into my head and pleaded to the lord that she would buy it, and besides, everyone was aware of my fear of mice. Although it was not the best of excuses to give, I had hoped it would seem realistic enough.
"I have spoken, and that's final." And with those words, she sealed the topic." Get back to where you were, everyone, and pretend this never happened." The clatter of forks could be heard as everyone resumed eating, and just like that, I was shut out and forced to retreat back to my room.
I pushed back my chair as it scraped against the tiled flooring, yet no one spared me a glance. I stood up and left, walking away in humiliation. My skirt swished behind me as I marched away, if only I had not been so curious, this would not have occurred , but it was too late now to wallow in self-pity. I had already gotten dismissed, at this point, it did not matter to me whether I had upsetted anyone by looking at the strangers and so I did exactly that.
I flitted my gaze to the table that the head mistress was seated at, besides the strangers. I was able to get a clearer look at our guests now, they were both clad in black, but one was seated, and the other one stood beside him. They had capes that covered their faces and masks on their face revealing nothing other than their eyes, which were not visible anyways as they were not facing my direction.
Almost instantly, the man who was standing turned his gaze towards me as though he could read my mind, and my breath got caught in my throat. Those stormy gray eyes, unlike anything I had ever seen in my entire life, nobody had gray eyes here, nobody had anything other than honey-colored eyes. I was not sure if I was frozen in my steps or if I continued walking because my eyes seemed to gravitate towards his with wonder. They were like an eerie storm , a tumult of emotions that swarmed between them. I was not sure it was even possible to view the details of one's eyes from such a distance, but I was now doubtless that it was possible.
He broke off the eye contact within seconds and that is when I returned to reality and realized that I had frozen by the door, but to my luck, nobody noticed me except for that mysterious man who I probably would never see for the rest of my life.
I slumped as I treaded back in despair to my room , however one thing stuck with me and kept playing in my mind. The identity of those strangers, just who were they exactly? Nobody dressed in black, nobody liked black, it was a color that symbolized evil, and all that's bad, yet the head mistress sat down besides them as though she was not surprised.
I grabbed my diary from under my bed, -a place none of the girls bothered to check-, and decided to write down the events that occurred today and find an answer for it. I rolled onto my bed and placed my hand under my chin as I analyzed the events.
One thing was obvious, they were definitely not from anywhere near us, perhaps they were travelers from a distant land.That thought certainly intrigued me, and my eyes automatically turned to the windows that streamed in bright sunlight. It simply never went away, we lived with the sun as the only thing we knew, but a part of me craved something different, something unique and never seen before, but here I was stuck in a room with only the suns never-ending rays for company.
Time passed, and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep because Loraine was beside my bed, shaking me violently. "God, let a girl sleep for a moment." I groaned as I turned around to face her, my eyes heavy with tiredness.
"There is no time to sleep Alaria, I am leaving, we all are." My eyes shot wide open as Loraine uttered those words, and suddenly, sleeping was not as significant anymore.
I sat up to be face to face with Loraine , my mind racing with a million possibilities. "What do you mean leave ? What is going on, tell me everything."
"That stranger who came today, he is taking us away, apparently it is a really far away place from here. He is taking us, but we don't know why, and the head mistress won't say either, but she promised that nothing will happen to us, and we will be brought back safely."
I could hear evident fear mangled in Loraine's words, she did not seem assured that it would be safe, and neither did I.
I held her hand in support. "It is okay, don't worry, we'll be together no matter what."
Loraine looked into my eyes, and if I had not been her best friend, I would not have been able to see the sadness that lurked within them.
"Alaria, you're not coming." My face distorted in confusion as she said that.
"What do you mean I'm not coming? You said everyone is going."
"Everyone but you. The head mistress said you're not fit to go on a journey like that, and you'd only bring them trouble." Loraine hung her head in shame as she spoke.
Hurt panged in my heart. I had known the head mistress all my life, and I made one mistake at dinner, and suddenly I wasn't fit to go? It felt like a betrayal,and I wanted to yell out in frustration, but then again, that wasn't how this place worked. You couldn't just yell or scream as you pleased, you followed the rules.
I shoved all my inner feelings aside and decided to work differently, I couldn't show my frustrations so I'd deal with them in my own way.
"Loraine, when are you guys leaving?"
"Tomorrow after breakfast,." I smirked to myself as I figured out exactly what I have to do.
"Well then, Loraine, I guess we both have packing to do, we leave tomorrow, don't we?"