Frasier leaned back in an old rickety wooden chair and began to tilt it hesitantly so it rested on the corner of the marble counter. After doing so, he drew his cigarette up to his mouth and took a puff before spewing the smoke into concentrated wisps that swirled around the room. He then let it dangle out of the corner of his mouth, and it teetered there until he let it slowly slip out of his open lips onto the floor. As it hit the floor, it gave a small hiccup of smoke before Frasier crushed it with his boot, causing a gray splatter on the tiles. That was his sixth cigarette in the past hour. He would usually limit himself to about three per hour, but as there was nothing better to do, he let himself go wild. Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out the musty cigarette pack and flipped one up and then grasped it between his teeth before jerking it out.
However, as soon as he was about to light the cigarette to life, the kitchen door swung open and hit the wall with a lurid thump. Frasier recoiled in surprise, and fell backward off of the chair, arms flailing, onto the ground. He then sat there, situated in a cross-legged position, rubbing the spot where he wacked his arm against the counter. He then spit out his cigarette, due to the fact that he had bitten it in half, and it landed in a gooey clump near a mouse trap that was under the pantry door.
Applause echoed from nearby, and Frasier swung his head around to see himself face to face with Lorelei. She had an amused smirk on her face, but her eyes seemed tired and dismissive. Her hands were blistered and bruised from handling all of the house duties and- not to mention- she was sopping wet.
"Well, what can I do for you?" Frasier said, grumbling as he stood up and brushed himself off. After that, he turned around and gazed at Lorelei, who fingering her hair nervously.
"Wolfram told me you need to stay the night with Esmeralda and keep an eye on her," Lorelei said, sweeping an annoying piece of hair off of her face.
"Esmer-wait who?" Frasier said, furrowing his eyebrows and cocking his head to the side.
"Esmeralda. You know, the girl that Wolfram found lying in a puddle outside in the rain about an hour ago," Lorelei said, trailing off to glance to see if any part of Frasier showed any recognition in remembrance. Yet, he still seemed to be giving her a blank stare displaying his obvious confusion on the matter. So she decided to retell the whole story from beginning to end.
"You see," she started, "Wolfram was coming home from Canebrook and apparently it had started raining. So, he decided to take a short cut where it wouldn't be as muddy getting back. However, when he took the split in the road a girl was lying in front of him like a wet rag. So, being the gentleman he is, Wolfram scooped her up like a princess and brought her back here. Least that's what a little birdie told me," She said winking and motioning him to come closer.
Frasier stepped forward and then stood beside Lorelei as she told him the room she was in and which staircases to take to get there. Frasier nodded halfheartedly and then lopped out of the room and gradually made the long journey through the house to the mystery girl's room.
Esmeralda heaved an exasperated sigh and turned to face –at least where she thought it was- the window as thunder rolled across the land making the glass shudder. She couldn't remember the last time that she experienced such a large storm. Where she came from, it was sunny around the clock. She would stand outside her family's seaside cottage and play her violin in the evening when it was breezy and waves would crash against the cliffs below her. The wispy grasses would tickle her legs and the wind blew kisses into her dusty onyx hair. Her violin was like a girl's teddy bear, her ticket to memories and her best friend. Her violin. Her eyes widened in panic and she patted the bed sheets around her in search of it. Where was it? Last place she remembered placing it was in her bag. Her bag. Her heart fluttered into overdrive and she felt her fingers crease the edge of the bed.
Turning herself, she gingerly slid her feet so they touched oak floor boards and lowered herself off the bed until she was crouched beside it. She then skimmed her hands along the surface searching for her bag. Where could it have gone to? She thought, a fresh wave of panic overcoming her senses.
That's when the sound of a lock clicking came from the other side of the room, and then the creak of doors hinges moaning under the pressure of it opening. She began to scramble back up the side of the bed, but it was too late because the person who had come in caught a glimpse of her. She then caught the sound of their shoes clacking against the floor and she could tell it was a man's footsteps. That's because the pause between strides was longer and the steps seemed to be heavier than a woman's. Biting her lip until it bled, she clamped her hands on the bed sheets and hurdled herself on the bed. She then proceeded to skitter under the covers and poke her ear out of the side to listen for any more clues to who was in the room.
"So you're the lil'un Wolfram dragged home with him," a man's voice said, resonating from-she couldn't quite tell- the left lower corner of the room. From the sound of his voice, he was considerably young, but not as young as her, for she was fourteen.
"Anyway, I'm Frasier and I'll be keepin' a close eye on you for a while," Frasier called shifting his body weight in the corner of the room.
She decided, against her better judgment, that it was safe, and she poked her head of the covers.
"I'm E-Esmeralda," she stammered, twirling her hair in her fingers and using her toes to toy with the sheets. "It's nice to meet you."
Suddenly, the mood Frasier was emanating changed from relaxation to a mild confusion.
"Why are you lookin' straight at the window over there when I'm over here?" Frasier said, exaggerating his questioning tone.
"Dumbarse, you should have noticed already," Esmeralda snapped at him, clenching her fists against her sides. "I'm blind."
(2 Hours Earlier)
Wolfram squinted at the clouds rolling in, trying to figure out if they held any surprises like snow or rain. However, murky as they were, he couldn't tell and decided to terminate it from his mind until further notice. Yet, it wasn't long before beads of rain plummeted toward Wolfram's flawlessly ironed suit and trousers. Nonetheless, he was always prepared and, in a matter of seconds, Wolfram had an umbrella spread over his head and shoulders making it difficult for the water to splatter his clothing.
Great, just what I need to complete my already peculiar day, Wolfram thought to himself, letting his shoulders sag in disappointment. As he rose his head up to gaze at the swerving pathway, he noticed how many mud puddles chose to spread themselves across it, preventing Wolfram from advancing much further. If he had, his dear shoes and trousers might have gotten a nasty trip.
That's when he remembered the short cut Lycloris had once pointed out to him on the way home. Her voice, reciting the directions, rang through his head loud and clear like a silver bell chiming on a still evening. Right… then a left here…past this tree stump… another right…, Wolfram delivered to himself, finally emerging at a fork in the road. That's where he was supposed to make a left. Pleased with his effort, he took the path that merged to the left. Though there were tree branches and rocks scattering the road, he found himself faced with something else strewn across the route. A young girl, no older than maybe fifteen, lay on the trail. Her black hair was caked with dirt and dried blood that was already crusting, indicating that she had been here more than an hour.
Her cerulean dress had holes eating up the surface, and the ribbon tying around the waist was lying in a soggy pile near her head. Her hands and feet were layered with moon shaped bruises and had irritated blisters ready to burst. Adjusting his gloves, Wolfram plucked her off of the ground, bundled the fragile girl in his arms, and began to make his way back to the house once again.
"Wait until Master Balthazar realizes who I have brought into the household," Wolfram whispered, fingering the girl's serene face. "That's if he ever does realize who it is," Wolfram added to himself, thinking that the situation could become interesting.