I'm baaaaaaaack!

I apologize personally to each and every one of you for not updating ALL SUMMER! I don't really have an excuse, I just was not in a writing mood for the past almost 3 months, I suppose *shrugs*

Anyways, as an apology to you all, here is a nice long Chapter 10!

~Read, Review, and most importantly; Enjoy!~

-MCD

(Also, if you enjoy "Layton Brothers: Mystery Room", I just posted part 1 of my two shot starring Lucy and Alfendi! Check it out on my profile! ;)


I slowly opened my eyes, only to close them again due to the sting of sunlight through my window. I lay on my stomach, face half smothered in pillows. After yawning, I pushed myself up off the bed, and then turned over so I was sitting. There were no covers over me last night, added to the fact that my window was still open, which explained why I was so cold. I stood up, cringing when I became dizzy from getting up too quickly, and made my way over to the window. I glanced at the clock near my wardrobe. I'd never been a terribly early waker, so the fact that it was 7:00 was not a surprise to me. Before closing the window, I used my arms as support while I leaned out over the stone sill. The morning air was light and dewy, and just beginning to sparkle with the rise of the summer sun. I gazed out far over the landscape, seeing the end line of the forest where the Herzen Mines began. My mood fell a bit when I saw them; large drills hanging above the open pits, and the constant noise of them hacking away at the earth below. I hated it. Not necessarily the mining parts; that provided jobs for the people of Folsense, not to mention the resources that came from it. I hated what that mine was doing to my father. He used to be such a kind, thoughtful man. Now I noticed that he was slowly becoming greedy. It was as if he couldn't get enough of it all; like a drug. I've tried to reason with father on the subject, but to no avail. I pushed the thoughts away, trying to stop wondering what would become of him. I ended up slamming my window shut with a little more force than intended.

It was only minutes before I was dressed for the day. I chose my favourite pinstriped shirt, layered underneath a tan vest and trousers, a navy jacket, and a deep maroon tie. I'd just realized I was a little dressed up for a regular Saturday morning, but I didn't care. Not like father would criticize me for looking professional. I headed towards the breakfast room which was attached to the kitchen. It was a tradition of mine to always have my morning tea there; I just couldn't properly function during the day without it.

I'd finally made it to the door of the breakfast room. It was a horrendous door, as Father would say. Its brass handle squeaked when turned, and the door was so heavy, it wouldn't budge the first time you tried to open it. The same thing was happening to me now. I placed both of my hands on the handle and tugged again until it gave in. The door's hinges creaked as I lugged it open. I sighed with relief while walking through, and shutting it behind me. I didn't really mind the trouble that door caused though. It was a small part of what made this house original.

The sun had risen a bit higher now, making the walls glow a warm yellow instead of their usual sandy colour. I stood, eyes closed while basking its rays for a few glorious seconds. Behind me, I heard the kitchen door open, and the familiar clinking of china.

"Good morning, Master Anton. I have brought you your tea." Nigel announced.

"Fantastic." I replied, whirling around to take my seat at the long rectangular table. Nigel brought the silver tray right to the table, then setting down a white cup with its matching saucer, along with a biscuit on a small plate.

"The biscuits just came fresh out of the oven, so I thought you might enjoy one along with your beverage." He explained in his nasally-sounding voice.

"That's wonderful Nigel, thank you." I said back, nodding to him and placing a napkin on my lap. Nigel made no sound, but folded his arms behind himself, and retreated back to the kitchen.

The scent of the tea wafted through the air. I smiled. Finally, my favourite part of the morning. I pinched the string on the tea bag, and lifted it out of the cup. Next I spooned in a couple lumps of sugar, and mindlessly began to stir. The small metal spoon clinked against the teacup with every round it made.

Clink

Clink

Clink

I stopped stirring and placed the spoon onto the saucer. I exhaled, and took a long sip of the tea. The heat of the drink radiated through me, putting my mind a peace. But unfortunately, not for long. Just then, Fredrich burst into the room. Well, maybe I shouldn't say 'burst', considering the fact that he always has the hardest time with opening the hallway door. Nevertheless, he pushed the door shut behind him, and looked up at me with a terrified expression.

"Father... On his way... Here!" Fredrich huffed out, gasping for breath. He then immediately climbed up into his seat across the table from mine.

Father, actually coming to the breakfast table in the morning? This could not be good. I gulped down my tea as quickly as I could, and shoving the cup and its saucer aside. In the corner of my eye, I could see Fredrich combing his hair through his fingers, trying to neaten himself up. I noticed that he was still wearing the same suit from last night, so he must have just woken up on the couch that I left him on. I shook my head, sighing and folding my arms on the table while he finished primping himself.

"Oooh.. A biscuit..!" He muttered happily under his breath, stretching his arm as far as he could across the table in order to snatch the biscuit. Mid reach, the door knob began to turn, and there was a loud banging on the door. The person on the other side, frustratingly whispering profanity, would have been no one else but my Father. Just before the door forcibly swung open, I smacked the biscuit right out of Fredrich's hand. It flew until it hit the opposite wall with a soft plunk, then rolled to hide behind the drapes.

Our eyes snapped back to the doorway when it gave in, allowing an extremely aggravated Father into the room. I quickly scanned over him, noticing his unkept grey hair and apparent lack of sleep from the bags that rested just below his droopy eyes. He held stacks of paper in both hands, each scribbled on in his rough handwriting. Father did not look at us as he came in, though we still sat as quiet and straight as we could. He eased himself into the chair at the head of the table, a shuffle of papers being accompanied by a faint cracking sound. Father groaned and held his side. He continued to organize himself while I nervously glanced at Fredrich. I gestured to him to say something. Fredrich shook his head and pointed at me, then Father. After a few moments of silent bickering, I gave up and cleared my throat to break the uneasiness.

"G-Goodmorning, Father." I spoke up, nervously, running my right hand through my hair.

There was no response, as if he hadn't even heard me, let alone acknowledged mine and Fredrich's presence. A few moments passed before Father announced the beginning of a conversation with a loud sigh.

"Well, if it wasn't too obvious, I have not gotten even one wink of sleep since the ball. It has recently dawned on me that this mine requires change; immediate change." He heavily enunciated the last part. "On these papers are some of my own personal plans and suggestions, most of which were the reason I stayed up all damn night." He chortled, then lifted his tired head and stared straight ahead. "My most important improvement being... The digging of a brand new ore mine."

"What?" Fredrich and I said in unison, staring in disbelief at Father.

Fredrich was able to speak up first, "You cannot be serious Father. Do we not have enough? We currently have 5 mines running, 3 of which that run around the clock. At least 75% of Folsense's male population is employed through the mines, and all others have jobs elsewhere. There is simply no way we can have enough miners to work." I glanced to my brother, remembering how utterly serious he always is with plans regarding the mines. Yet again, I'll admit, Fredrich would make much of a better Duke than I ever would.

Father's eyebrows knit in annoyance. "Of course I'm serious, boy! Do I look like I would kid with you?" He seemed to glare at Fredrich as if warning him to back down.

I tensed up a bit. This was not a good start to this conversation. Every time a discussion of the mines arose between us three, it always came to an abrupt end with Father and Fredrich in a full-fledged word battle, usually revolving around respect; or in Fredrich's case, the need to be involved. Father felt that since Fredrich was not going to be the next Duke (unfortunately), his opinions regarding the mines were not needed. As for Fredrich, he assumed that his recent 18 year old status would grant him the respect and attention he craved; traits he undoubtedly inherited from our Father. And in the whole scheme of things, two people with such personalities were most likely, if not always, going to butt heads.

"ANTON." Father roared in my direction, his hands and arms placed in the tabletop as a brace. I literally jumped in my seat, forced from my thoughts. "Quit spacing out, son! This is business, here!" I quickly nodded, too intimidated to say a word until called upon. "Anyways, now that you're back down to earth, I would like to know any of your concerns or thoughts on the new mine?" Father looked to me, head tilted forward.

"Well, umm..." I racked my brain for something, "Where, exactly would you be planning on putting said mine, Father? All the usable land we own is taken up."

"Ah, excellent question, my boy!" Father praised. I could see in the corner of my eye, Fredrich beginning to go red. He brought the facts right to Father and had gotten scolded while I ask a simple question and get commendation.

"In fact, I was planning to begin digging right under the castle!" Father answered me, finally smiling and looking cheery.

My jaw hung open at his response. I could now see just how bad his mining obsession had grown. He would rather dig out the ground beneath our feet for money we don't need than tell himself it was enough. It was never enough to him.

"No." Fredrich spoke firmly, standing up on his chair. "I will not allow this to happen, Father."

"Excuse me, Fredrich. But this is a matter between Anton and I." Father replied, equal in tone. I wanted to speak up before anything got too heated, but it was too late. I was already caught up in their crossfire.

"Why can't my opinion be as valuable or regarded as Anton's? And don't give me any of that Duke bullshit again!" Fredrich yelled out, fists clenched and expression twisted. Father was taken aback for a moment, as was I.

"Don't you dare use those words when talking to me, boy." He dictated through his teeth, obviously enraged with my brother's behavior.

"Why not?! You would never hear me if I didn't! You don't even care about me; or anyone else! You're too fixated on the mines to even have a second thought about anything but that!" Fredrich bellowed back.

I had nothing to do but put my head down. My forehead pushed against the wooden table, my palms clamped over my ears in effort to shut them out. They screamed at each other, back and forth, each comment becoming more rude and offensive than the next. I could feel the vibrations of their voices through the table, sparking a throbbing headache. I wanted to leave. But I couldn't. My Father and my brother both acted as walls that held me in place. My back arched and my shoulders hunched, trying to give myself some feeling of defense. But in reality, I knew I was more venerable than ever.

I was surprised when all of my contracted muscles relaxed, and my body calmly stood from the table. Father and Fredrich stopped in their tracks and stared at me, wondering what I was doing. I could not stop myself, for I was already on autopilot while I somehow opened the old door with ease, and left the room without a word.