CHAPTER 2 : Beginning
When Gerard's first child was born, it was a day of celebration and fear. Madeline Connery was born healthy and beautiful. He was a proud father until a letter was given to him by his servant. And to his surprise, this letter was from his late brother.
"I'm only to give you this letter when your first child is born." A loyal demon, Edward passed him the letter.
Gerard opened the letter, curious and afraid.
Congratulations for the birth of your first child.
If you are reading this, I must be already dead. Forgive me for not being there to celebrate the birth of your first child. Do not be shocked because of this letter. You should have known that I'm a very thorough man who leaves no details or possibilities behind. Did I foresee my death? Yes, I did. After all, I have participated in a very dangerous battle. Anyhow with me dead, it is now your turn to participate in this battle.
Now, be brave my brother. For once in your life, try to be a man. It's true that I will never understand you. I will never understand why you prefer to run and hide in the countryside. But you can't hide forever. One day, you'll have to come out and be responsible.
Anyhow you would know by now that the Rose Battle is a battle that has been here for generations and it will continue to be here for generations to come.
The reason I write this letter is to remind you of your responsibilities as a Connery. As much as you hate being born a Connery, you cannot deny it. You can't run from your responsibilities. It will only end when you die and disappear forever from this world.
But even after you die, this responsibility will be inherited by your descendents. Like how I inherited this when father passed away.
The responsibilities of a Connery will never end or disappear. It merely passes on to the future generation.
So my dear brother, you also have to train your child to inherit this responsibility. Teach your child everything there is to know. Teach your child to be strong. Most of all, teach your child to fight.
Don't be a coward. Be a man and fight.
Maybe, I should have been much stricter with you. Perhaps I shouldn't have defended you or protected you too much. Well, forgive me for everything.
Anyhow, I hope you will lead our family to victory in the Rose Battle. You do know that if our family loses again, we would have to be the winner's slaves for a hundred years until the new battle begin.
You need to lead our family to victory. In the last battle, the Kurland family won and our family had to serve them and protect them. Our family has it's own pride and we must protect this pride. Eventhough we are still nobles and live the way we do when we lose the battle but the fact that we have to protect the Kurland family and help them execute every orders they make. It makes me sick. It makes our family pride disgusted.
Therefore I hope you won't think of withdrawing from the battle. When you withdraw from the battle, it means that you admit defeat and that you will serve the winning family.
And if you're planning to run away, I suggest you don't. If you run away now, the rival families and demons that are loyal to our family will be forced to kill you and your family. Why? Well, simply because you know the existence of demons and the underground world.
There is no way out of this, brother. Just accept it and fight. If you can't fight for your own sake, then fight for your family's sake. Fight for your child's or your wife's sake.
BE STRONG and take care.
I hope you will restore our family pride.
Your beloved brother,
Gerard looked at the letter, shell shocked with what his late brother has written. He's afraid but he knew he didn't have a choice. He was really unhappy right now.
He wished that his older brother lived. He wished that he wasn't here. He wished that he could run away.
He also hated how his brother called him coward. He wasn't a coward. It was just that he never intended to live this way. All he ever wanted was just a happy free peasant's life. Was that so hard to accomplish? Unfortunately for him, that life would be impossible.
He thought to himself, was there really no way out of this cursed life of his? Maybe, there is a way out. He only needed to search for a way out.
He knew that his brother would never know a way out of this life but that's because his brother never wanted to escape. Alexander has accepted his faith and destiny with no complains. He never questioned it.
Gerard on the other hand is different. He questioned it. In that moment, he decided that he would find a way out. He would escape no matter what the cost is. He just wanted to leave this way of life.
But for now, he'll accept this ugly fate.
He looked at Madeline, his emotions are twisted inside him. This child of his has the same ugly fate like him and his ancestors. And he would be the one who trains her to accept this fate that he himself hates so much.
Madeline looked so innocent, fragile and gentle. Could she even handle it? Gerard worries for her sake. He wished he could save her.
Gerard's poor wife cried when she read Alexander's letter. Gerard wished she didn't read it but he needed her to read it so that she could understand. So that she couldn't object to him training their daughter to accept her responsibilities.
"It will be alright." He tried to comfort his crying wife.
"How?" She wailed.
"It'll just be. I promise you that I'll find a way out of this."
Time passed and soon, his second child was born, Alexandra Connery. He named her after his late brother because she looked so much like him. It was as if she was his brother's child and not his. But that was impossible because his brother is already dead.
He was a little worried though. He only had daughters. Would they be able to fight in the rose battle and survive? Will they even be able to handle it? He needed a son. He needed someone strong and brave to fight.
When his wife was pregnant again, he prayed and hoped that it would be a son. He hoped for his daughters' sake. He just couldn't imagine his daughters participating in the rose battle.
Unfortunately, he never got a son. Instead, he had twins daughters, Lily Anne and Georgiana. Sadly, Georgiana was born very ill. She had a very high fever and became paralyzed from the waist down onwards since she was a young child. He was very sad and worried.
How were his children ever going to help in the rose battle?
He noticed that the other 2 families that participated in the rose battle had sons. The Weisz family had a son, Daniel Weisz whereas the Kurland family had two sons, Joseph and Jeffrey Kurland.
He has more children than both the rival families combined but all four of them were daughters.
Soon as they grew up, his daughters' characteristics took shape and became much more obvious.
Madeline, his oldest, was the most serious, elegant yet gentle child. Because he was so strict with her, she became a high achiever. In a way, she was a perfect young lady. She was elegant, gentle and intelligent. She also played the piano very well. Gerard was proud of her and proud of the training he gave her. But he feared. Would she be inferior when competing with the rival family sons?
Then there was Alexandra, she was very different from all her sisters. She listened to no one. She was stubborn as a bull. She loved to sword fight a lot. She would climb trees and stay there for hours while reading her favourite books. His wife is very frustrated with her. She could never make her more polite. She was a wild child. But Gerard didn't mind, in fact, he would be the one who teaches her how to sword fight and other things. He needed to train her so that she would be able to protect herself and her sisters.
But because she was wild, he believed she would be able to compete against the rival family. He knew she wouldn't break down easily.
His only wish was that she was a boy. If Alexandra was a boy, she would have been perfect and he wouldn't have to worry for them.
Lily Anne and Georgiana were both very gentle and innocent. Lily Anne is a very talkative child who loves dancing, drawing and cooking. She is a very graceful child that listens to her mother and this goes to the same with Georgiana.
However because Georgiana is paralyzed from the waist down onwards, she doesn't do a much physical activities. The only physical activity she likes is gardening. But she spends most of her time, sewing and doing embroidery.
Lady Connery adores Lily Anne and Georgiana very much. They are both obedient and kind children. However, Lily Anne is slightly more playful and mischievous.
Gerard couldn't take it anymore. The many assassination attempts, the frustration of running his family business and the pressure of training his child for the battle is driving him insane.
He felt that he was being suffocated and that any moment he would snap or die.
He was afraid. He was angry.
"I'm not my brother. I can't do this." He told his wife.
"Everything is hard, my dear. I'm sure it will slowly get better." She smiled.
Even her beautiful smile couldn't help him, "It will never get better."
"Oh, I'm sure you're just being very narcissistic."
"I wish I was."
"Whatever are we going to do?" She was worried now, seeing that her husband was in despair.
"I don't know." Gerard was so close to tears.
"What do you mean by that?" She panicked. "I thought you said that you would find a way out of this?"
"I'm still trying to find a way out of this. You have to be patient." He sighed. He wondered if he was ever going to find a way out of this.
Just before his wife could say anymore, Alexandra entered the room. "Daddy, you promised me that you'll train with me today and teach me more new tricks."
He needed to be away from his wife currently, "Shall we get started then?"
He sighed as he walked to the backyard. He wished his wife wasn't a worrywart. He wished she was stronger and able to support him. He thought that if he told her, she would be able to tell him that it's alright. She would be able to say, she was here for him.
But it wasn't his wife fault for being worried. To know that her husband could be killed at any moment was not a good feeling. To know that her children will have to fight in a battle makes her scared. She can't take it anymore too. She was only a daughter of a farmer who had no exposure to a noble's world.
If Gerard can't find a way out, she will run away. She'll be forced to leave him. She loves him and her children. She doesn't want to run away but she just can't take the pressure anymore. She'll break.
She wished that she was stronger for her children but she wasn't. She knows that if she wants to keep her sanity, she would have to run from this.
As her tears fall silently, she prayed. She prayed that this would all be over soon.
She wished she knew how the other mother's and wife's of the rival families handle it. And she wished she could too.
Gerard looked as his daughter as she practices her sword skills. She's getting better and better. It seems that this is her talent. She has fought with several boys and she has won all her fights. He was very proud of her. He can't help but be surprised with this talent of hers. At the rate she is improving, she would be better than him soon. After all, he isn't a very good swordsman. He frowned. Who was going to teach her then? He won't be able to find her tutor for this. She wasn't a boy. Nobody would ever want to train her.
Suddenly, a man knocked on his gate.
"May I help you?" Gerard asked.
"We're here for Lord Gerard." The man with dark haired replied.
"I am Lord Gerard. What is this about?"
"I'm afraid a factory in the Wendellia Estate has burned down. You need to see it and decide what to do with it. We need you at Wendellia immediately!"
Quickly, Gerard packed.
Lady Connery pecked him on the cheek, "Be safe."
"Take care, papa!" Lily Anne smiled.
"When will you be back?" Madeline was curious.
"In a week or two." Gerard gave a hug to all his children except Alexandra.
Alexandra frowned and cross her arms. She wouldn't allow Gerard to hug her.
"What's the matter? I'll be home as soon as possible. It'll only be a week or two."
"You promised to teach me sword fight! You can't go now! Go later after you taught me!" She yelled.
"Can't you see this is important? I have work!" Gerard rolled his eyes.
"He'll be home soon, Alex!" Her mother glared at her.
Alexandra didn't care. She climbed up a tree and stayed there.
Gerard sighed and left.
Georgiana was gardening and noticed that her sister was still up on the tree.
"Aren't you coming down? Father already left."
"Leave me alone."
"Fine." Georgiana wheeled herself back into the house.
Alexandra continued looking at the blue sky. It calmed her down.
How she wished she could fly. How she wished she was a bird.
Eventhough she knew it was selfish of her to have done what she done today but to her, a promise is a promise no matter what.
Just as she was watching the clouds float by, she suddenly noticed that there was a man jumping from tree to tree. Slowly, she tried to hide herself as she watched that man jump. Then, the man jumped and landed on a branch next to her.
"You're not human, are you?" She examined him. He looked like any other ordinary man but she knew he wasn't. She knew that he was a demon like some of the demons that worked in her house for her father.
"Who are you?" The man was shocked. He was also curious. Normal humans didn't even know that demons even existed.
"A girl." She smiled.
He knew that she was a human because demons smell different from a human. He continued to examine her.
Alexandra noticed that he looks sad and perhaps in pain. His brown eyes expressed so much sadness. "Are you alright?"
"What is a girl like you doing on a tree? Girls don't belong on trees. Who are you?" He might kill her because he can't have a girl know that he is a demon or that demons exist.
"I like trees. My name is Alexandra. What's yours?" She smirked.
"Robert." He was very suspicious of her.
"You haven't answered me. Are you alright?"
"Well, what do you think?"
"I think you look sad." She frowned.
He was slightly shocked but he didn't know what to say so he just sat down. He took in a deep breath, so much have happened to him.
"Are you alright?" Alexandra asked again.
"What about you? Are you alright?" Robert forced a smile. He didn't know why he was sitting here and talking to a girl instead of doing what he planned to do.
"Not really. I suppose we're both unhappy people." She smiled and found this slightly ironic.
"Do you actually think that demons exist?" He looked at her. He wondered who she was and how did she know the existence of demons.
"They do exist. I have servants who are demons." She smiled.
"Really?" He was surprised. He didn't know that she is a daughter of a lord who is participating in the rose battle. That must be the reason why she know his existence and why the demons are working as servants in her house. Demons work for a reason. Any sort of reason. It doesn't matter. But usually, normal average humans will never have a chance to know their existence.
"Of course." Alexandra grinned.
"Now, how did you know that I was a demon?" He wondered if she was the daughter of the man he hated right now.
"Normal humans can't jump tree to tree like you did and they won't jump tree to tree even if they could."
Her answer made him laugh, "Well, that's true!"
"Why were you jumping from tree to tree?"
"Why don't you tell me what's a pretty girl like you doing on a tree like this?"
"I just like to come here." Alexandra looked up at the sky. She loved this spot. She could see the beautiful sky clearly from here.
"Well, why are you here today?" Robert looked at her, with a smile on his face. He found her to be very bizarre. He have never come across a girl who liked to be on a tree.
"I was upset with my father. He broke a promise today." She frowned.
"I understand that he is busy but even if he taught me even for 5 minutes, I wouldn't have minded. I mean, I waited all week for him to teach me new sword fighting techniques and strategies."
"You sword fight?" Robert was now even more shocked and curious at the same time. She is a really interesting girl.
"I know that it's different but I like it!"
"Are you good in sword fighting?"
"I am THE BEST! I haven't been beaten yet and I have fought a lot of boys already." She said proudly.
"But I don't think I can learn more because father said that I'll never find a tutor and father is always busy with something." Alexandra frowned.
"I'm sure it'll be alright." Robert smiled.
"I hope so."
Then for a while, they both were quiet and they enjoyed the scenery. This was what Robert needed. He just needed some quiet time to think and calm himself down. Everything's a mess ever since it happened.
Slowly, the wind blew. He felt the wind gently on his skin. He could feel his body relax. He looked at Alexandra. This girl has helped him in ways she could never imagine. She helped him calm down before he almost make the biggest mistake of his life. She stopped him and allowed him to think and relax.
"Quickly, catch the leaves before they fall. People say it's good luck if you do that and I think we need some luck." Alexandra suddenly said.
Robert smiled and waved his hands to catch the leaves.
Alexandra caught one, "GOT IT!"
"Good for you." Robert continued smiling.
Despite the smile, Alexandra could tell he wasn't exactly happy.
"Here, I think you need luck more than I do." She passed him the leaf.
Alexandra looked at the green beautiful leaves, "I wonder why leaves are green and not purple or blue?"
"It's because of the chlorophyll in them. It's what makes them green." Robert answered her.
"I thought chlorophyll only help plants make food?"
"It does both." Robert smirked.
"You are so smart. Why are you so smart?" Alexandra tilted her head, interested and curious.
"That's because I am a teacher."
Alexandra eyes lit up, "Can you teach me how to sword fight then?"
Robert frowned, "I wish I could but I can't."
"I'm a dead man walking. Or demon to be accurate."
"I don't understand."
Robert sighed and begins explaining to her. He explained to her how he had a twin brother and that twin brother's in the demon world meant that they depended on each other to live. He told her that if his twin brother died, he would also die in the next 2 weeks. Being twins meant that there was a link between each other and that one cannot live without the other.
He also told her how his twin brother was recently executed and killed for committing a crime. But it hurts him because now, he too will die. He wished that they just sent his brother to prison instead of killing him. He felt that the man who executed his brother should have known that it would affect him. He was innocent unlike his twin brother. He didn't deserve this.
And the reason why he was here was to kill the man who ordered his brother's death or to inflict a pain so great to him that he wished he died instead.
"Were you close to your brother?" Alexandra bit her lips. Now, she knew why he is in pain.
"No but his death affects me." Robert took in a deep breath.
"Isn't there anything you can do? Isn't there any way for you to live?" Tears were falling from her eyes.
"I don't know." For a moment, he sat and think.
He never thought of a way out because he never believed that there was a way out. He just accepted that he will die in 2 weeks.
As his mind paced, searching for the answer. He felt hope. Maybe he won't die. He promised himself that if he lived, he would treasure every minute of it and live a useful life. Eventhough he is a demon, he won't act like a savage and harm anyone. He was not his criminal twin brother.
Then, suddenly, he found the solution.
The blood seal.
That was the only way out but it would require something. He looked Alexandra, perhaps she could save him. But that would mean hurting her. And after how much she helped him, he couldn't hurt her. He couldn't believe it but he has grown fond of her in such a short time.
Robert looked at her. He saw a sweet young girl who would help a demon that she didn't even know. He couldn't ask her to do the blood seal with him.
"Isn't there any way to save you?" She frowned.
"There is one but unfortunately, it cannot happen." He looked away.
Robert explained to her the blood seal.
The blood seal was a contract. It isn't any simple contract. It required a human and a demon to make this contract and this contract cannot be broken.
The human will allow the demon to drink their blood every year so that the demon can live longer. When this happens, the demon is a parasite that will shorten the human life. The human would have to sustain their own life and the demon's.
In return, the demon would have to be obedient to the human until the human dies. When the human dies, the demon's death would also follow in 2 weeks.
This contract can only be made if both the human and demon agree to it. The demon cannot force it on the human to agree.
Normally, the blood seal is used to prolong the demon lives or demon's with linkage or bondage like Robert.
"I agree. Let's do it." Alexandra nodded her head after she heard his explanation.
"Don't you understand? Your life would be shortened! And why would you want to do that? Why do you want to save me?" Robert was confused. He couldn't understand why a young girl like her would want to save him.
"I understand. I just need a tutor. You will be my tutor if I do this, won't you?"
Shocked and surprised, he said, "Yes."
"Let's do it." She smiled.
And the seal between them was created. She allowed him to make a clean cut on her wrist and allowed him to drink the blood that flowed from her.
After he drank some of her blood, he healed the cut that he made.
Suddenly, Alexandra felt a sharp burning pain on her chest. The next thing she knew, there was a crest on her chest. Robert felt a burn on his palm and saw a crest there.
The crest was the symbol of the contract and that it cannot be broken. If it breaks, they will both die immediately.
"So now, you are my tutor." Alexandra smiled.
"I serve you now, mistress." Robert smiled. If this was the way he was going to lead the rest of his life, he didn't mind. Who knew that this girl would not only save him from killing a man but also save him from death? He owed this girl his life.
"For your information, my name is Robert Stevenson." He grinned.
"And my name is Alexandra Connery."
"Is your father Gerard Connery?" Robert was surprised.
"Yes, do you know him?"
"No, I just heard of him."
That made Robert laughed. He couldn't believe it. It was just ironic. It was Gerard Connery that ordered his brother execution and he was here to kill him. Who knew that Gerard's daughter, Alexandra would save the both of them?
He wondered how a man like that could have a daughter like her. He still hated Gerard Connery and he probably would never forgive him but he knew that the fault of the father is not the fault of the child. Therefore, he would serve Alexandra well. After all, she saved him.
"Anyway, let's keep this blood seal a secret between us." Robert smiled.
Alexandra nodded her head.