He stared at the woman who came to stand right in front of him outside the cell where he stood behind the bar. To say he hadn't imagined him here would be a lie. With the way his mother had passed away without being cared for while Malphus was not allowed to go see her, it didn't take him too long to guess on what his state would one day come to. But this was too soon. Sooner than he had expected. Sure once in a while for fun, he and Silas had locked themselves when they were young boys here but it was never in terms of hours.
"How are you finding the cell, Malphus?" his step-mother asked him as if she was concerned.
"Does father know I am here?"
Ester smiled. Her blue eyes slightly sparkling with an amused expression, "What do you think?" she asked him.
"If I knew I wouldn't be asking you now, would I?" Malphus tilted his head for her to nod.
"You should know how to handle that smart mouth of yours. Men like you fall faster from the ladder than you can even imagine," she raised her hand to bring it down before snapping her finger, "That fast, you see."
"Are you saying it by experience?" Ester only smiled as if the young man who was in the child had no clue what was going to happen to him. As if wanting to show him his place, she said,
"Your father has been informed of how you have stolen my jewellery to earn some money from it. And let me tell you, he isn't happy about it."
"He was never a happy man, at least not after meeting you. Maybe if you saw him with my mother, you would have known but I believe you have already seen it before poisoning my father," Malphus didn't hold back in his words. It had been years since she and his father had married and even though the words were never exchanged on what happened, the words had been transparent by actions that now no one had to hold back their words verbally.
The woman didn't look upset by his words, she chuckled looking at her right from where she had come.
"Don't blame me, Malphus. Your father was only easy to poison, he is a weak man."
"I guess it is the only thing we can agree to."
"Hmm," the woman hummed, her face turning serious before she asked, "Where are the parchment papers?"
"What parchment?" Malphus feigned innocence but the woman somehow knew that he had taken the parchment from the safe that was in her room.
Hearing a pair footsteps, Malphus turned to see the guard who often followed him. It was Leroy. The man didn't wait for his stepmother's words and instead, he opened the lock of the cell and stepped inside. Malphus who was previously standing close to iron bars took a step back at the man's presence. Even though they were of the same age, the man had been hired to guard and kill people who posed a threat to Norman's family.
But what if the family member was subjected to be the victim under the hands of such skilful hands? Malphus was agile but not strong enough.
"Don't play naive, son. I know you stepped into my room to steal the parchment I have kept safe for years. Tell me where they are and I shall let you go unharmed," but he saw the lie through her words, "Leory," one word and the guard started to hit him.
Malphus felt the hand come right at his stomach making him cough, though he tried to evade the punch and the hits, he could hardly avoid them for long. For some reason, his hands felt weak or it was just that the guard was stronger than him. After five minutes, the woman asked,
"Tell me. There's no point lying and you should know that. You might think you are smart but you should know that this mansion doesn't just belong to you but it belongs to me too. I am the wife of the Lord and no matter how much you hate it, it doesn't erase the fact and truth. Where are the parchments?" she continued to ask when Malphus started to cough blood.
The series of punches were too much for him to handle that the more he coughed, the more blood spurted out of his mouth.
"I don't know what you are talking about," he heaved for air, a smile coming to form on his lips with bloody teeth which looked like he was jeering her. It appeared that the parchments were very important to her as he could see anger bubbling up in her eyes.
"I found this from you," she said bringing up a little bottle, "Don't tell me it jumped into your pocket from my room. Where are the parchments?" receiving no answer, she closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath before exhaling it out and opening her blue eyes back to look straight at him.
"Alright. If you're going to be stubborn and lie go ahead. But you aren't going anywhere from here, Malphus. Until you don't spout where you have hidden them, I will make sure these walls have heard your screams of agony well. Leroy, you can continue," his stepmother said before walking away from the cell.
By the time even the guard had left the cell, Malphus laid on the ground motionless. He wasn't dead but he was soon going to be dead if he were going to be beaten like this. Bringing up his hand up to his lips, he flinched in pain when he touched the cut that had formed on his lips.
For her to be this angry and to lock him up in the cell, it only showed how important those papers were. If he had another day he would have got it examined from the local priest of the church. But that had little chances as he was locked in here now to know what those names and inscriptions meant.
But who had the time for it? thought Malphus to himself.
The woman after returning back to the mansion room paced back and forth in anger. Those parchments were the ones she had acquired from the white witch of Valeria. Those were precious not because they had names of her sisters but also because there were spells she couldn't crack open even after so many decades had passed.
She knew those were spells but she didn't know how to use them. Those were high magic which had been passed through generations of the previous white witches which was equal to gold. But what use was the parchment of spells that she couldn't use? It was as if giving a person fire to cook but with no grains in it.
When the maid arrived at the door, the servant asked,
"Did you have any luck, sister Ester?" the maid's tongue turning to a serpent that slithered in and out of her mouth.
"He has hidden it somewhere," Ester gritted her teeth, her skin cracking to show up the scaly skin before it turned back soft to a human's skin.
"The guards have already been sent around the town to look for it. And even here. He must have not gone far as he never left his room-"
"He's not an idiot to leave it in his room and the parchments are thick that you cannot hide. I checked everywhere," said Ester but she hadn't looked through enough as she never came to notice the hidden passage that led from the bookcase to the insides of the mansion.
"He will spit it out in time. Humans are delicate creatures and easy to break," Ester didn't respond to it and instead fished her pocket from the dress, bringing the little bottle in front of her face.
"I have a job for you. Take this to the far village that lies around the border. Mix it for the vampires to drink," instructed Ester, her eyes serious as she handed it to the black witch.
"Just one bottle?" the maid asked dumbfounded. Would it be enough at all with this little bottle?
"Yes. It is the last bottle that exists so use it wisely. Two drops each in the drink should be enough."
Back in the cell when a few hours passed with the night turning quiet, he finally sat up to look around the prison-like cell he was in. To kill time, Malphus took a stone that was in there, carving the year and his name on the wall before standing up to inspect the lock. He fished his hand in his pockets for the pin which had gone missing.
Fumbling with the sleeve of his shirt, he pulled out the wire around his cuff. Twisting and folding it before getting to work with the lock. With the lock that was from the outside, it was hard to open the lock without looking at it.
Opening the lock, he grinned to push the iron door which creaked noisily. On his way out, he caught sight of some of the prisoners inside and though he would like to free them, Malphus had no time for it. He walked passed them, slipping from the eyes of the guards to go the tree where he had placed the parchment which was right next to the mansion.
Climbing up the tree he retrieved it which had been safe since the time he had left it. Just as he stepped down the tree, a guardsman of the mansion who was taking around caught sight of him and started to alert the others, "Thief! Catch him!"