Sun and Moon (part 21)

When Umbry woke up she was in a car, speeding down an unfamiliar road. She was lying down without a seatbelt on, and when the car came to a slightly sudden stop, she was jolted into stronger consciousness. She felt heavy, as though she’d been given a sedative. She saw it was daytime now, so it must have been a long time since she had fallen off the roof.

The roof… What happened? She remembered being with Clay, and waiting for Julia, and…

a voice.

She needed to get out of here. She needed to get up and get back to Julia and Clay and Francesca. She needed to get out of this car, even if that meant breaking a rib. Whatever she did she wouldn’t talk to him again.

She tried to sit up and pain shot through her leg. The sedative must have been for pain, she realized. It had been a long fall, and she had probably sprained her ankle at the very least. She settled for lying down across the car seats, and decided that she would make her escape when the car stopped. She tried to see where they were, but the landscape was too generic to make out. They were going through a forest, but the road was smooth and often-traveled. She tried to pick out the types of trees. White pines…? They weren’t common anywhere near the city, so she was probably at least three hours away. She tried her best to sit up and look for moss on the trees, to find which way was north. The forest was thick, but on the right side of the road there was a steep hill leading down to a very blue lake. The car turned a sharp left and went uphill, and eventually they slowed down. The trees were replaced by tame grass and flowers, and then they came to a very sudden stop, which jerked Umbry from her position and left her lying in pain when the driver and passenger came to get her. She glared at them but didn’t say anything, and when they offered her a hand she instead used the car door and limped toward the door of the mansion in front of them.

It was huge, she realized. In a house with this much space around it, it wouldn’t be possible to slip away and find help – besides, in her condition, running through a forest would be unwise. It didn’t seem like there was anyone else living nearby, so she assumed the land was privately owned, meaning that there might be cameras and there would definitely be guards. She limped as fast as she could, trying to see if maybe she could get inside and make a phone call or send some sort of message before anyone could stop her.

She heard a car pull in next to theirs, but didn’t stop until she heard the footstep land on the ground. Then she stopped and turned around, and gasped.

Julia.

Julia had already seen her — ran to her, embraced her, and for a second Umbry was too shocked to respond. When the pain kicked in after that she almost fell over, but returned the hug, holding Julia there even when she tried to pull away. “Why are you here?” Umbry whispered into her ear, using her long veil of hair to conceal the exchange.

“I knew you were hurt.”

“You shouldn’t have come. This guy, he’s–”

“It’ll be okay, Umbry. I’m here.”

Umbry sighed. How could she have thought there was a problem? Julia was always able to deal with people, even ones as scary as this one seemed. When Umbry failed because of her inability to deal with emotion, Julia could handle it with ease. So this enemy of theirs was obviously no match.

Julia put an arm around Umbry once they released each other and walked her to the door. The guards offered to help them, but Julia declined with a kind smile.

And then they entered the mansion.

The foyer was huge, with a large chandelier in the middle twinkling brightly and refracting light to create rainbows all across the room. The furniture was old but well-kept, and from the looks of things there were obviously maids in the household. They took off their jackets and shoes and proceeded, at the guards’ request, past the foyer to the right and into the living room. A large fire was going in the fireplace and the room had a very homey atmosphere, despite the extravagant decorations and art (was that a Van Gogh? Julia wondered) that lined the walls. Out the window there was a beautiful view of the lake. Umbry took all of this in as she sat down on the couch, quickly followed by Julia. Umbry was still a little scared, especially in her current state, so she moved closer to Julia, whom she was sure would protect her. Julia noticed her nervousness and gave one of her smiles, the kind that always helped Umbry calm down. It worked this time, to perfection, and Umbry even found herself smiling back a little bit.
They waited a few more minutes and finally heard creaking of stairs. Umbry felt herself becoming nervous again, just a little, and even Julia looked a little concerned. The creaking was slow, but by no means unhealthy – the one walking was slow because he wanted to be.

“Hello, Julia, Umbry.” His voice was smooth and cold, and Umbry found herself shivering a little.

And then he emerged at the doorway.

Long, unkempt black hair half-covered both of his eyes. Long and bony fingers held tightly onto two music boxes, each kept carefully half-open. Tall and gray-skinned, he seemed to float across the room into the chair across from the couch. Finally his eyes were close enough to see clearly as he stared at them, unblinking and unmoving now in the silent room.

His eyes were pitch black, with no visible pupils. Umbry felt that if she stared at them too much, she might get sucked in and cease to exist. So she stared down at the ground instead, trying to keep her hands from shaking.

Finally, she looked over at Julia, trying to find some sort of comfort.

But Julia was shaking too, her one visible eye wide with a terror Umbry hadn’t seen before.

Those black eyes, and that shivery-cold voice… was this man even human? “W-who are you…?” Umbry managed to spit out.

“I’m no one, Umbry,” he answered curtly, as if what he was saying was common knowledge. “But you’re looking for a name, I suppose, which means I’ll have to give one.”

He smiled at Julia, seemingly pleased with her reaction to him. Umbry wanted to defend her, but when he turned back to her she found herself once again unable to move. And so he continued.

“I’m Noir LeFevre. And I’ve been looking for you two my entire life.”

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