Word Drama VII
Denver, Grand Duchy of Carthage, Area 1 (North America), Britannian Empire
October 21, 2017
It was with great and uncharacteristic disdain that Gino looked out the window, watching and waiting as his limousine pulled up to his onetime home. For almost two years he had remained as far from it as he could, since the very day he had "ran" to West Point, and if he had had his way he would have remained as far from it still. Alas, even with his present uniform, adorned with its famous, almost legendary dark green cloak, there was only so many things he could truly get away with. And from.
The limousine pulled up to the entryway soon enough, the chauffeur dutifully exiting first and then coming around the limo to open and allow Gino out as well. Once again forcing back his desire to remain where he was and to drive off into the proverbial sunset, Gino stepped out regardless, already feeling the chill in spite of his aforementioned cloak and uniform. No, it wasn't the Fall air that caused him cold. The estate had always felt that way to him, even as far back as childhood. Even on the outside it looked less like a home and more like a museum or a mausoleum, evoking a still, frozen beauty of sorts, which – so long as one stood on the outside and casually observed, and most certainly did not touch anything – one would have found otherwise captivating, perhaps even inviting on some level. Only those who had lived there on a permanent basis otherwise found it not so much.
The associated memories helped even less, especially as Gino felt them begin to reenter his mind and make him colder still. As with so many other forms of so-called "nobility", the Weinbergs had, again much like their estate, only appeared so on the surface. To the outside world, and especially the "commonfolk", they had always appeared a proper Britannian family, adhering to the ancient rules and trappings of their Empire while holding unquestioned loyalty to its Crown. Once more it was only when looked beyond the surface that one saw the same cold, colorless stillness therein, in which the Weinbergs held image and little else. A cold, colorless stillness that Gino found himself stepping back toward after so long, his bootheels audibly impacting against the front steps as he gradually came to the front double doors, an anonymous servant opening it for him to enter.
Indeed, colorlessness was the best way he could describe the interior as well. Not in the literal sense, as there was much in the way of aesthetics and grandeur, but rather in the air and overall setting. It was one of the few places Gino knew that was even colder inside, and still was to the present. As though he need be remined that she – the only one who had ever brought any kind of warmth whatsoever – was no longer present.
Once again he felt the tears begin to return over that, only for him to force them back with considerable effort. He would not shed them there, no matter how much more he still had to shed. He would not give those waiting for him the pleasure.
Even so, that did not stop the memories from continuing, especially of that night. The sound of her cries echoing through the open halls as his father beat upon her, forcibly and relentlessly. His own anguish and desperation as he ran to the kitchen to draw a knife, and then ran back into the room to defend her, only for his father to turn on him thereafter. The renewal of her cries as she placed herself between them, using her broken body to shield him from his father's wrath, as well as the helplessness he felt at his inability to defend her. His father all but throwing her to another servant, ordering the man to "get that Eleven trash out of his sight", followed by his own attempt to reach out to her before she disappeared.
All culminating into a little over a month ago. Where she again disappeared, this time forever after.
"It's true," a woman's voice – far from the one he would have given his very life to hear again – spoke up from nearby. Its owner entering into his view with as much projected pride as she could muster. "His Majesty has indeed recognized you."
Somehow managing not to deepen his frown, Gino could only address her. "Hello Mother," he said as he continued to walk, her coming next to him. After finally returning home after whole years, he would have thought she would at least welcome him. "I see not much has changed since I left."
"No, not really," Martha Weinberg answered, still beaming with pride toward her son. "Other than your leaving of course."
Gino knew that was a pointed snip, though it was tempered again by his white uniform and green cloak. While he had indeed run away, he had still become the Knight of Three. And his surname was still Weinberg.
"Well, no matter," Martha surmised, ultimately deciding not to push the issue. Again, the results spoke for themselves. "It's all water under the bridge as far as your father and I are concerned. And it wasn't like you wouldn't have left us eventually."
More than you know, Gino thought but reneged from speaking aloud. Already he could feel the all too familiar anger begin to emerge. Alongside the memories of her standing by passively as Aoi was beaten to an inch of her life in front of her. And he not long after.
"That being said," she finished with as they reached the intended destination. "Welcome home, Sir Gino."
Biting back the bile at the emphasized pride – that her "beloved" son was indeed now a Knight of the Round – Gino forcibly turned toward the waiting doorway and opened it, moving from one despised parent to another. One that he despised even more.
"Gino!" Winston Weinberg called out no sooner than when the door opened. Sounding very pleased to see his long departed son, having now returned in a green cloak. "Or would Sir Gino be more proper?"
Allowing his mother to enter, Gino again bit back the bile, as well as the reflex to tell his father where to stick his praise. Not that he had ever been a praising man to him, most certainly in his younger years.
"It's good to see you as well Father," he forced out after a servant moved by and closed the door. He was now well alone with his beaming parents, much to his barely controlled disdain. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your summons?"
Though the cold in his voice was evident, neither his mother nor father seemed to notice. No, Gino corrected himself, they pretended not to notice.
"Simple, Sir Gino," Winston exclaimed as he moved to place his hands on Gino's cloaked shoulders. "We merely wish to congratulate our son upon his knighthood, and for him to understand just how proud he has made us."
Somehow Gino managed to keep from sniffing contemptuously, as well as shaking off his father's hands then and there. No, the praise wasn't false, but he knew better than to believe it wasn't self-serving. His parents were of noble breed after all.
"Strange," the Knight of Three stated, at last moving his father's hands off his shoulders. "I specifically remember our last meeting being far less…endearing, father."
This time his father actually laughed in order to keep up appearances. "All water under the bridge, my son," Winston assured with his patented smile, the one he always reserved for those higher in standing than he. Gino could actually believe his father hadn't deliberately repeated his mother's claim. "What matters is you're here now, and that we have so much to catch up…"
"No we don't," Gino stated, at last feeling his patience begin to snap. "Your summons spoke of urgent business, father, and that is what I am here for. Nothing more, nothing less."
Both senior Weinberg's could only blink toward their son's hostility, as though they actually hadn't expected it. Even so, it wasn't long before the mask slipped back on either of them, again deliberately ignoring the Knight of Three's ire. As well as the highly specific reason for it.
"Indeed," Winston stated with the vocal tone of a shrug, right before leading Gino back toward his desk. The Knight of Three noted his mother remained by, hovering just off to the side as his father sat down, and then gestured for Gino to do the same.
"Look here," Winston said as he slipped a picture in front of Gino. "I'm sure you recognize her."
From that picture alone, Gino now learned what this was all about, and his anger began to burn that much more intensely over it. "And if I do not?" he decided to pretend for a change.
Again his father laughed in portrayed ignorance. "Why, surely you remember Rebecca Upson!" his father proclaimed in false astonishment. "Don't you remember? You two used to play so much together!"
"I haven't seen her since I was seven," Gino responded, somehow managing to breach onto the subject of the matter, though he knew it was coming. "And if memory serves, she and I never got along."
"Well," Winston said with the disposition of a man whose first approach failed, and so he (visibly) attempted to come up with another. Fortunately, Winston Weinberg was as good at saving face as any other Britannian noble. "That was a long time ago Gino, and she's grown up as much as you…"
"To the point she's next in line to inherit Admiral Upson's estate and title, I take it?" Gino inquired rather pointedly.
Winston actually nodded to that. "Indeed," he repeated once again, then smiling approvingly down toward the picture. "Quite the match for the third of His Majesty's chosen, don't you agree?"
Taking a very long breath, Gino found himself staring at the picture, the picture of the woman who his parents were hoping and praying would become his fiancée. Admittedly Rebecca had grown up into a beautiful woman, holding the graceful form attributed to nobility alongside flowing brown hair instead of the pig-tails he remembered most from her, her eyes an even darker shade of brown as she looked toward the camera. Between such an appearance, as well as the fact she would be the next Countess of Thurston, what red-blooded male of high-breeding wouldn't go for her? Surely not Gino Weinberg, Knight of Three!
Except, Gino didn't, not in the least. As beautiful a woman as Rebecca had become, Gino remembered those eyes all too well, and not because of their coloring. Those were the same eyes she had held as a child, in which every one of her whims was indulged, and everything was given to her without second thought. The eyes of a girl, now a woman, who saw the world around her as a collection of slaves and servants, in which the entirety of human existence was meant strictly to make her comfortable and lavish her with gifts, while those who could not were either beneath her notice or meant to be crushed. And Gino did well to remember those tantrums, which she would throw whenever she did not get her way. He could only imagine how much more intense they were now, though from the picture alone he could see she still threw them.
This time he did sniff contemptuously at the image. Knowing full well what a relationship, much less a marriage, with Rebecca Upson would entail.
"A match she could be for a Knight of the Round, father," Gino responded, slipping the picture back. "But not this one."
Though visibly taken back at how his son could possibly reject such an offering, Winston remained determined. "Alright, alright, maybe you didn't get along with her," he admitted as he placed the picture back in an anonymous desk drawer. "But that doesn't mean you need remain a bachelor Gino. There are plenty of other woman that…"
"Would be of little different character from 'Becky' there," Gino said, shaking his head. "All of whom would undoubtedly lead to empty marriages, heavy drinking and my ending up in other wives' beds."
It was then the Knight of Three stood back up. "No father, I don't care what estates or titles I would be inheriting from these women," he stated with finality. "If I'm going to marry, it's going to be for love. Nothing more, nothing less," he purposely repeated.
At that, the first vestiges of anger finally reached Winston's expression, such that he himself rose to his feet to meet his son in the eyes. "I see," he nodded, as though being forced to accepted a much disdained fact, which he apparently had. "So you're still hung up on that Eleven whore."
Gino grit his teeth to that, but managed to force it down again with the associated memories. "This decision is my own, and it is final," he stated firmly, unflinchingly. "So if there is no more business to be attended to, I will be on my way."
Thus with a wave of his cloak, Gino made his way back toward the door, ignoring his mother's shocked expression as he moved toward the exit. Only Winston Weinberg wasn't done yet.
"It would have been one thing if you had just used her to pop your cherry, Gino," Winston stated in an artificially even voice, one that barely contained rising anger. "I actually applauded your first time being with a beautiful a woman such as her."
This time, Gino did grit his teeth, unable to force back the memories. That of he and Aoi consummating their love, in spite of everything. And then but a few days later…
"However," Winston continued, his disapproval now very much in the open. "To actually mix your purity with her mongrel strain, that I could not overlook," he said, fingers flexing. "I had hoped you would have realized that with your knighthood, my son."
Despite his own ire, Gino did well not to face his father. Especially as the memories – their sheer vividity – began to encroach him more and more.
"On the contrary, I have realized much since I left home father," Gino tried not to snarl, but did not completely succeed. "My eyes have been opened to many truths, both in regard to our 'great' empire and to the world that surrounds it."
Winston opened his mouth to counter that, but Gino spoke first. "Of those truths and realizations however, there was one I have known since the beginning."
Gino closed his eyes, unable keep his final sight of her from his mind. "We all bleed the same blood," he managed to force out, somehow and some way.
Hearing that was enough for Winston to ground his teeth as well, anger transitioning into uncontrollable wrath. Even so, Gino kept his back, shrouded as it was in his green cloak, to him.
"And even then, I would wager her blood was far purer than yours," Gino declared as he reached for the door handle. "Goodbye Father, Mother."
"GINO!" Winston Weinberg howled, all but vaulting over his desk after the Knight of Three as the latter attempted to open the door. His hand raised up to strike, not unlike it had been that very night. Only this time it held a letter opener within its grip.
Unfortunately for him, Gino was far from the weak, powerless boy he had been once upon a time. Just as he was wholly consumed with his own rage in that instance.
Thus Winston was nowhere near close to stabbing down when the Knight of Three twisted around to meet him, both hands launching out and grasping onto his father's neck. From that, Gino brought his father down against the floor, his hands remaining in place and squeezing. All of it flowing out in that instance: rage, hatred, sadness, pain. All of it flowing into his fingers as he squeezed more and more of the life out of Winston Weinberg, who could not but squirm in his son's iron grip. All the while Martha Weinberg could only stand and look on in horror, unable to come to her husband's support without turning her son's wrath upon her.
In that brief span of time, the memories ran in repetition within Gino's mind. Aoi's initial beating, soon followed by his own as he ran to her defense, only for her second beating to take place as she shielded him, and then her prompt, unceremonious removal from the Weinberg household thereafter. All of it complimented by his receiving the news of the Devastation, and the damning knowledge that he had lost her forever. All because of the man – that bigoted, spiteful elitist of a man – that now struggled within his hold.
He wanted him dead. More than anything Gino wanted Winston Weinberg to die, just as he had sent her to. And he knew he could get away with it. The penalty for attacking a Knight of the Round was death, and the fool had been foolish enough to come at him with a weapon. It would have been all too easy for him just to press his grip until his father suffocated or his neck actually snapped. All too easy, and without any more thought than pressing down on a trigger.
Except it wasn't. As he looked into his father's now frenzied, horrified eyes, Gino could not but see his own visage, as well as the sheer rage he now projected. Through that image, the endless string of recognition lifted from his mind, now replaced with a new image. That of the one woman he had ever loved, looking upon him with her own love, as well as approval and hope. That Gino Weinberg, her fiancée, was a man apart from his origins, his so-called breeding. A man worthy of her, and the life they would one day hold together.
From that image did Gino snap back to reality, now realizing that the tears had at last come, now falling upon his father's face. Unable to hold them back now, the Knight of Three could only loosen his grip and look away. Anguish and dismay now apparent upon his features as he rose up.
Allowing his mother to come and help his father to his feet, Gino turned away once again, his hand reaching toward the door. "This will be our last meeting," he stated with grave finality. "Though I retain the Weinberg name out of obligation to His Majesty, I am not your son. Nor are you are my mother and father."
Both Winston and Martha too agape to respond, much less stop him, Gino pulled on the knob and opened the door.
"Farewell," he said before making his exit and returning to his limousine. Leaving the Weinberg Estate, and all the nightmares therein, behind for good.