Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Vampire's Ball: Act 4

The Vampire's Ball:
Act 4

It was months after that horrific night and the acts of atrocity were almost all but forgotten by the simple community.
All but Felicity.
Their wealthy benefactor had fully adopted the young ladies and showered them with gifts and graces. He transformed them from dirty, ragged urchins to beautiful, educated, and articulate debutants who had become not only accepted by the once resistant townsfolk but respected and almost unbelievably adored. It is amazing what a little polish and prominence will do, especially when wealth and position are applied.
How quickly the sins are forgotten when intoxicated by the wine of excess and entitlement. After all, it was half a year ago and Nicoli had nearly drowned the town in charity, providing coffers for repairs, a new stockyard, and numerous donations to a plethora of forsaken folks. Using his contacts he established the town as a hub for sea trade bringing overwhelming prosperity to a providence which was nothing more than unexceptional before.
He finally purchased the orphanage with the help of public dissent and Vladimir’s failing health. Almost overnight, it went from tragic eyesore to a proficient and superior facility that serviced every orphan’s need, providing the highest levels in care and accommodation. He brought in the finest staff with exceptional pedigrees and schooling. Even with all of the improvements to service and structure, adoptions remained low, but with the institution in such an efficient and comforting state, none question or even whispered a complaint.
Despite his unconditional generosity, Nicoli remained unseen for over the last few weeks with only his daughters acting as his liaisons. The girls had garnered the profound admiration from the town’s populace and went out of their way top prostrate themselves upon the rich young ladies presence. The elders poured their gratitude upon them publicly and at every instance. With each meeting, the air was filled by abject humility and overt appreciation. In their minds, their selfish and vile acts mercilessly inflicted upon these two helpless children must have been repented for by now.
In their minds.
It was October when the mystery began. It started with the disappearance of just one or two of the orphans but then by mid-month the number had increased into the teens. The constable was perplexed as there was no evidence of foul play or bodies ever found. Could they have simply run away? Left of their own accord? That seemed impossible with the strict and consistent security and safety procedure that Nicoli had put into place and the relentless commitment of the staff. There was no evidence of a forced entry or struggle. No witnesses to interview or crime scene to meticulously review. By the last week of the fall month, a total of twenty children had gone missing with a shred of proof as to why.
With All Hallows Eve fast approaching, the town was distracted from the strange disappearances with the upcoming Fall Ball that the Nicoli and his prodigy had planned. It had been a staple of the season since the wealthy lord had taken possession of the plantation. He majestically decorated every square inch of his palatial manor and served an immaculate cuisine. The air would be saturated with the most angelic of ballads and melodies as an armada of talented minstrels performing classic works and contemporary favorites. It was a spectacle of autumn hues, delectable scents, and the joyful glees of all who attended.
And this year would be no exception.
Felicity had taken the reigns of all of the planning and preparation for this year’s festivities. She intended this to be the grandest of all of the balls they have hosted before. The decorations were more extravagant, the menu riddled with delicacies from all around the globe, costumes crafted by the most nimble masters, and musicians renowned throughout the world. She spared no expense to create a celebration of the decade, maybe a century.
While her sister, orchestrated the magnificent party, Katalina spent her time at the orphanage providing her assistance in anywhere needed. She was neither impressed nor attracted to such social indulgences but would rather remain shrouded by her kindness and humility. Her heart was larger than anyone who had ever lived in the small town, greater than anyone who had existed to that point in time. Her life was dedicated to helping others, even at her young, na├»ve age. There was not much time or desire for anything else. She had grown distant from her sister, not by choice, with Katalina’ s volunteer activities and Felicity’s social and public engagements made it very difficult for the two to meet even by accident.
Adding to her solitude was the sorrowful fact that she had not seen her loving father in weeks. She was told by the rather secretive staff that he had gone across the sea to Europe to further establish trade relations with the small province. To say she was skeptical would be a significant understatement. She had also instituted her own investigation into the missing orphans, although it seemed, at the time, she was the only one still concerned. Felicity visited the orphanage on a regular basis as well but never when her sister was there. She had developed a close relationship with the staff, one that kept them distant from Katalina as well. The once very receptive and gracious team seemed more aloof in her presence these days.
Despite her tenaciousness, Katalina was unable to gather any new or more detailed information regarding the disappearances. She even found the staff quite unresponsive and uncooperative when she questioned them. Her suspicions’ grew with each passing day, what were they hiding? Where was her father? Why such secrecy? It had to be all connected, but to do so would be an enormous stretch.
So one night, a week before the ball, she decided to throw caution to the wind and truly dig deeper into the matter. She would sneak into her father’s office, a place forbidden to both of them since the came to the manor. But his warnings had been voided; she needed to know where he had gone and deep within her soul she knew the locked room would hold all the answers.
Answers she would wish she never came to know.

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