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   Chapter 23 Tear-Drenched Heart

SANCTUM By JMFelic Characters: 16607

Updated: 2018-08-16 21:18


Later in the evening, Aurora made her way down to the parlor without any help. She didn't wait for Father Azrael to come and fetch her upstairs nor did she wait for the lip-pierced man to inform her that dinner was ready. There was a kick on her feet that she wanted to browse the house alone, especially the parlor where it had the only family portrait of her parents and her.

The door was half open when she reached the room so she nudged it gently and in she went. There was fire burning still in the hearth, but there was nobody inside. Consciously, she glanced at the shadowed area where Eriol hid earlier. 'Good. No lurking man in there now, ' she thought.

For quite some time, she stood in front of the painting; staring at it with great concentration. "Dad... mom..." she uttered faintly, breaking into sobs, then tears suddenly rolled from her eyes. Her heart felt like it was being squeezed out real good. Yes. She was an adult, but that doesn't mean that she has a calloused heart. That doesn't mean that she was not missing her parents.

Patting her eyes dry, she inhaled in deep, slow breaths. Now, she was more than determined to know about her family and of course, the demon mark in her neck.

*

*

*

When Aurora intuitively found her way into the dining room, she found Duke Heilwig already sitting in the center master chair. There were a number of vacant seats available, but she set her eyes in a chair where a dining set was readied. This was at Duke Heilwig's left side. Opposite hers, in the duke's right, there was a readied set also, which she assumed was for Father Azrael.

"Ah, Aurora! Come! Come! Take a seat, " Duke Heilwig expressed by the time he noticed her inching forward in the rectangular table.

"Was Father Azrael already informed, Duke Heilwig?" she asked.

"Yes, I have already sent Eriol to inform him." He placed his empty wine flute down and elbowed the table facing her. "Now, I would like to start the conversation with you while waiting for Father Azrael, " he stated. Taking a bottle of red wine, he refilled his container and poured a generous amount in Aurora's. She quickly waved her hand to object silently, but it was too late.

"You don't know how happy I am right now, my dear. I have never thought that you are alive all this time!" he exclaimed, taking the flute and drinking the content liberally. Aurora just sat there, looking at her red wine as pockets of air bubbled on the surface.

"You know, I have received a report from a local police in the City of Soren that your parents were killed by a bear in a camping trip, but they never told me about you! They never told me if you were dead or alive!" He gasped, feeling exasperated suddenly.

"I have sent an investigator to investigate about it, but he ended up with nothing... nothing at all. Well, except of course the information I knew already, but you..." He paused and scanned her face slowly. Aurora felt her hands tense, so she clasped it.

"I...I kept the investigation going just so we could find you... until a year after when we finally announced that you too are dead." There was suddenly a hint of sadness in his voice. His hazel eyes, the same color as hers dulled for a moment. "Tell me... where have you been and how did you manage to live all these years? I want to know everything, my dear. It pains me to know that I hadn't been a good uncle to you."

Aurora saw the heartache in his eyes. She could see that he was genuinely concerned about her. However, pondering about what the duke had said, it seemed to her that the pieces didn't add up perfectly. It didn't fit right at all! Every detail was misaligned.

First. She had her pink bag with her that time. The authorities would have known that she was a Clave and they would have informed Heilwig about her being alive. She had the nametag too in her bag, which was an additional evidence.

Second. Her parents too would have had identification cards and other identifiable objects that would guide them to her, but what happened? How was it that the local police seemed to disregard that important detail? It seemed to her that her identity was intentionally overlooked.

"I was in an orphanage, Duke Heilwig, " Aurora started with a determined voice. "The name of the orphanage is the St. Therese Charity House in the Town of Sereves, in the City of Soren. Sister Cene, the mother superior in there, told me the authorities had sent me there temporarily until someone, a relative maybe or a family member, would come and get me. But, nobody did."

Duke Heilwig's untrimmed brows lifted in surprise. "So you mean to say you were in an orphanage all these years?"

"Yes, " was Aurora's short reply.

"My goodness! How did it happen?" She saw the duke's cheeks heat up and the folds of his chin wiggled like jell-o as he shook his head in disbelief. "I had my investigator go through all the orphanage hous

placed his hands on his belly. "Well, it was just a hunch though knowing that the burden started with a demon. Now I understand why Thadeus and Odessa suddenly left the house. They never told me where they were going. They didn't even let me see you anymore. I never knew during that time that they were actually protecting you because of the demon mark."

"U—uncle..." Aurora uttered softly. It was her first time, but the noun didn't taste bland in her mouth at all. "Other than the family, does anyone know about the curse?"

Duke Heilwig pondered for a time. "No, not that I know of. It is a closely-guarded secret kept hidden for generations my dear. It's not a secret to be boasted about."

"I did found out about it in a historical book in the Vatican Secret Archives, Duke, " Father Azrael stated.

"Ahh, of course, " the duke expressed. "No wonder you found out about us Father Azrael. You know, since yesterday, I have been wondering how you knew about the Clave Family. I had kept a low profile since my brother died. You see, the family has our very own priest since centuries ago. The Pope during that time had personally assigned a priest to keep an eye on the family members. They keep records of any unearthly events inside the family; well, not that there are any, but whatever records they keep they probably stored it in the secret archives. Every generation, we have one priest, and in our time Aurora, we have Monsignor Nicholas."

He eyed the priest next to her and said, "He is actually an exorcist priest like you, Father Azrael."

"I see..." was the priest's remark, "but are you really sure you have nothing to tell me on how to get the mark out of her body, Duke?"

The man reflected harder this time, but there was none that he can remember to help them. "No... nothing Father. I do apologize, " he said with certainty.

Father Azrael clenched his fist. This is going to be difficult. Definitely difficult.

"Aurora. I'm really sorry for this. I feel responsible for your bad luck now, " the duke said in worry.

"No, don't be Uncle. Cirr— ah... Father Azrael is with me. I know we can surely find a way to get the curse lifted out."

When Father Azrael heard it, a quick pang of pain filled his heart. He did found a way to get the mark out of her body— the electricity in his fingertips can vouch for that — but the cost will be her own life, which was definitely not an option for him. He knew that she trusted him, and to inflict her with pain would surely erase her trust.

"My dear, you don't know how much I am relieved right now that no one in my children would get the curse. I know it would sound too selfish of you. I really do apologize for it, " Duke Heilwig stated in all honesty.

"Uncle, I will be most happy if your children would come back here. If they find out that they are safe from the curse, I'm pretty sure they will return."

"You have such a good heart, my niece. Thank you for understanding."

The duke stood up and approached her, and without any awkwardness, he embraced her tightly. Aurora, this time, didn't feel uncomfortable anymore. She understood his plight, and she accepted his apology. She also accepted the fate that was thrown out to her, but still, she asked herself, why?

Why her?

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