A Darker Love Ch. 03byAMY_Monaco©
One look at her and he instantly knew things about her. Her name was Altair, her mother had suffered three miscarriages before giving birth to her. Another pregnancy following had led to Altair's mother's death. Altair's father, a simple farmer had been killed by a drunkard accidentally. Orfeo could easily read people's suffering and pain as one would a good book.
But such tragedy in her life had yet to show. Altair had a heart-shaped face, an upper lip that was a bit fuller than her bottom one and a tiny mole just below her right earlobe.
She was quite pretty, he thought. In all his life -- and it was a long one -- he'd seen many beautiful women. But this one was neither a seductive beauty nor one that would make men duel at dawn. Hers was a quiet beauty, something he found quite intriguing.
He was pacing the room when she stirred. Upon wakening, Altair realized she was no longer bound in chains and sat up, eyes darting around. Fear shone in her face when she locked eyes with him.
"Who...who are you?" She asked. His face was slightly familiar, but she couldn't place him.
He bowed his head ever so slightly. "I am Orfeo, at your service."
She gasped. "It cannot be..." The man who stood before her looked incredibly handsome. Built of strong muscle and height, he bore some resemblance to the many statues built in his honor in Ottavia, yet they did not do him justice.
His chestnut colored hair was worn fairly short, then ends teasing his forehead, ears and the back of his neck. His eyes, such an odd shade of blue-gray that made him look cold and distant. The upper half of his body was exposed; the rest covered in the robes Ottavians wore, though his were lined with gold embroidery in symbols that made no sense to her.
"You took my life, did you not?" She asked.
"No, I didn't."
Visible relief flashed in her eyes and she looked away. "I was not ready to die." Then she looked up again. "Why did you take me from the temple?"
As soon as her question was voiced, she knew he wouldn't answer it. Those cold eyes regarded her silently.
"You must be hungry. Someone will arrive with food soon." He said. Not a minute later, a servant woman appeared out of a mist with a tray of food. She set it down on a table and disappeared in the same manner she appeared. Suspiciously, Altair glanced at the food.
"I don't use poison, Altair." He said. He didn't bother to expand on it, which got her wondering what methods he would use to kill. Did his mere touch take the life of someone? Or perhaps he sucked out the soul somehow.
"Did you take the others, as well?" She meant the other supposed sacrifices.
"I don't take sacrifices given to me by Ottavians. I have no use for useless souls around here."
"Then why am I here?" She dared ask. Her heart was racing from anticipation of his answer. She had a feeling he did want to kill her. The way he looked at her with such icy intensity.
Perhaps he wanted to play with her, as a hunter would his prey before taking her life.
"You are my prisoner here, Altair. Until I decide what to do with you." He said harshly, his voice turning so suddenly that she jumped by the change in volume. He turned to leave the room and slammed the chamber door.
Orfeo was angry. At himself, mostly. It was not fair to her to keep her here. But he could not bring himself to return her to Ottavia. He'd already decided he'd do everything to make her comfortable, so that she'd never want for anything. Perhaps, she would decide she liked living here with him. If he returned her to Ottavia, there would be nothing there for her. Better a prisoner here than a Carthanian captive in Ottavia.
She was offered a luxurious bath, something she rarely got to experience. After, she got to choose from a collection of pretty gowns made of the best material to wear. Someone appeared to dress her hair, to refill the teapot when it was empty and when she returned to the main part of the bedchamber, the bed was made.
Altair kept her guard up the entire time, eyes searching for anything that may pop up, spirits haunting the grounds or worse, demons of grotesque form. She'd heard many things about Ottavians and their worship of Orfeo -- many things that provoke fear.
She soon discovered that when the servants weren't needed, they disappeared. So after, her bath, Altair sat on her bed in the incredibly large and lonely bedchamber. There were no pets like a kitten or loyal dog around, no animals in sight. She heard no voices of any kind indicating that others resided here.
Everyone knew that Orfeo had no wife or children, so she did not expect to hear any voices to indicate such, but she had thought him to be surrounded by evil.
After another hour of silence, she laid down on the bed, feeling so very lonely. This place surely was a prison.
Meanwhile, Orfeo was with his younger sister, an ethereal creature of wispy blond hair and a pixie face. She held powers over nature, the growth of all plants.
They were sitting down to dinner, at one end of a very long and beautifully set table. Just a moment ago, he had sent someone to fetch Altair to join them.
"This girl, is she very pretty?" His sister, Cora asked. "But, of course she is. You would never pick an ugly one. But is she a Beauty or just pretty?"
"Why does it matter?" He asked absently. He lifted a goblet of wine to his lips. But so like his sister, she was changing the subject already.
"And what has convinced you to bring her here? Are you in love with her?"
"If I say yes, will you stop asking questions?"
Her entire face lit up and she reached over to touch his arm. "Oh, are you really in love, Orfeo?"
He flashed her a wicked smile. "No."
"Oh!" She swatted at his arm and sat back in her chair. "You mustn't joke about something like that. What if Marie decided to really make it true?"
"Then it is Marie's prerogative. But I sincerely hope she doesn't play such a joke on me."
"It would be nice if you found a wife."
"I'm Lord of the Underworld. No one would ever want to marry death."
Cora frowned. "You're very much alive, Orfeo. I hate it when you refer to yourself as being dead."
Orfeo merely shrugged and drank more of his wine. Just then, Altair arrived, following behind the servant he had sent. As soon as she was seated, another servant came forward to serve their dinner.
"I'm Cora, by the way." There'd been no need to explain her relation to Orfeo, since all who knew him knew his family tree.
Altair tried for a small smile, but then her eyes shifted to her plate. Cora sent her brother a look, one silently questioning just how exactly Altair came to be here.
Barely touching her meal, Altair soon retreated to her room. Both Orfeo and Cora watched as she left the dining hall. He ignored his sister's inquiring look, finishing his wine with great ease. But like him, she was stubborn and after ten minutes of her staring at him, he finally looked at her.
"I suggest you bring in some musicians or some sort of entertainment. She'll be bored to death if you let her alone like this."
"That was a terrible pun on your part, sister."
Her smile was brilliant and she leaned back in her chair. "This place is so empty, Orfeo. Really, your job is death, but this place doesn't have to be. Why is she here anyway?"
He didn't answer right away. "The Ottavians had captured her from Cartha. She was a sacrifice to me."
"I'm surprised they let you have her. They are so blood-thirsty sometimes."
"They want a victory. I expect many beautiful sacrifices to me in the next few weeks." He said without arrogance, as he stood up from his chair.
"You're not going to follow Rinaldo's example and practically keep a harem of women, are you?"
"A harem..." he let the sentence trail off. "Now there's a thought." His comment earned him another swat on his arm and he chuckled. "You know I have no interest in a harem."
He didn't care to elaborate and his sister sensed this. She soon left him to his solitude. Ah, but that was the new beauty of it. He was no longer really alone in his dark palace. In a room beyond the one he stood in, was a young woman who truly intrigued him. Her fear of him was only natural, yet it irritated him deep down. He didn't want Altair to fear him.
He started up a wide staircase, wondering where Altair was, what she was doing. Even as these thoughts filled him mind, he had decided that he wanted to keep her.