Like a worried mother hen, Sam had never left the earl's side. He didn't expect it to turn out like this. He was sure even the earl didn't predict it. In their imagination there had only been a small possibility for death, but none for continued unconsciousness. They just didn't think about it.
It has only been two days, he tried to calm himself down. Two days were nothing. He could still wake up every minute. Since a while now, Sam had been unsure if he should remove his magic that altered the earl's hair and eye color. Maybe something would change if Katherine managed to chase away the darkness in the earl's eyes. After all, they said that the eyes were the window to the soul.
Sam crossed his hands and discovered a new age spot on the back of one. This boy, always making him worry and age faster. Sam sighed. He would wait for a few days more and tell Katherine to concentrate on clearing the earl's face of poison. Hopefully, that would suffice to wake him up.
Whatever happened, he couldn't disclose anything about the earl's weakened state to the outside world. It would attract a lot of unwanted attention and would even raise the thought of killing him in a few ambitious people. First of all that crazy woman.
Luckily, besides Sam himself and the doctor, only Christine might deduce that it was the earl who was lying here unconscious. The doctor and Christine served the earl for years already and knew some of his secrets.
Out of them, Christine was completely loyal to the earl for saving her life, while the doctor was addicted to his research - which since some time focused on the black poison in the earl's veins.
As of late, however, the doctor was getting more and more frustrated since it was the only poison he couldn't figure out in all these years. Now there was even a little girl that could do better than him. Because of this, the earl had ordered to keep track of the doctor's actions again some time ago.
Though Sam was a bit worried that the doctor would break off with them at this dangerous time, he knew that he was a person that kept favors at heart and would at least not exclude things to the earl's enemies.
With things as they were, Sam fabricated a lie for the majority of the mansion's inhabitants to believe: the earl was investigating the disappearance of the Renat army. When the earl would wake up, they would declare that the army was killed by a mage and the earl managed to get his loyalty. The last bit had been planned like this regardless of the outcome, as it would scare the people to know that the one who killed so many was their lord. Then they would trip over their own feet in fear whenever they saw him, so Nathaniel had decided to shift the blame to some unknown person, but still take this power as his backing.
Of course, the people he wanted to get attention from would never be blinded by this story. It was only to soothe the masses. The ones he wanted to react were those who already knew who the master of this magic was. Some of them had seen it first-hand, some heard about it, but they feared it enough to throw him out of society and try to kill him multiple times, even though they had only seen the tip of the iceberg of his abilities. Now they would be too scared to continue to exclude him. A little monster could be hunted, but a big one should be revered and flattered.
It took three days for the rumor to spread and the villagers to return to their housings. The compensation for the destroyed fields got distributed. Finally, two soldiers set out with a cart rolling behind their horses. In the cart was the commander of the Renat army, tied up and gagged. The stumps on the ends of his legs were bandaged professionally, but he would never walk again. Fully consciousness, he was brought back to the Renat kingdom so that the message of his defeat would spread.
Right outside the first city on the other side of the boarder, the soldiers removed his gag and the bindings, severed the link between the cart and their horses, turned them, and left the commander there. Maybe the first person who found him wouldn't recognize him, but there was no doubt that it wouldn't take long for his identity to be known.
After some days, the patients face was spot free and Katherine gaped again at his features. This family was blessed with heavenly looks. If only their character was equally as good!
Since Sam was right now talking to a guard at the doorstep, and the doctor was no where in sight, Katherine secretly took her time to stare at him. His eyelashes rested like light feathers on the fair white skin, the nose straight and not to big nor to small. His sharp eyebrows in a relaxed state gave off a peaceful feeling like he was just asleep. A sleeping beauty. This pair of brothers looked so much alike aside from the hair and eyes.
For a second, Katherine suspected them to be twins, but quickly dismissed the thought. If they were twins, how could only one of them have that strange hair and red eyes? She had to admit, even though he could be scary sometimes, she preferred the looks of the earl. The red eyes gave him an evil charm that was kind of ... s.e.xy.
Slapping her reddening cheeks, she stood up. Stop dreaming! What's so good about this devil?! Beside his good looks, he had nothing in his favor!
She heard that he was searching for the origin of the darkness right now. Hopefully nothing bad would happen. She didn't worry for him of course, but for herself if he was killed. Right, only for herself...
When she stepped out of the door, she saw Sam talking with someone else now. Katherine had never seen the uniform of the person before. Maybe he wasn't from the mansion? It could be some messenger of another aristocrat...
The map she found in the library didn't show many aristocratic families in under a days traveling distance from the mansion. Only the Iceflowers and the Snowstorms lived in this area. The latter wasn't one of the old families, but got a territory appointed for serving the crown. The earl was the third party living here, but he was just too mysterious. Not even his subjects knew his family name. To them he was 'the earl of the southern boarder' or 'the earl of Hymirhall'. Though Katherine knew from Hazel that he had an 'Ice' in his last name and was therefore most likely out of one of the old aristocratic families, she still didn't know which. It couldn't be the Iceflowers though, or else he would be better known in this area. No, the earl seemed to appear out of no where two years ago.
Sam and the messenger didn't exchange many words, but the messenger handed over an envelope. Before Katherine could make out any details, Sam hid it in his dress jacket. With a slight bow, the uniformed man left.
Turning around, Sam seemed to be so deep in though he didn't see Katherine until he nearly ran into her on his way back to the room. His already serious expression got even more worried as his brows knitted together. "How is he doing? Did he wake up?"
Although Katherine would like to lighten the butlers burdens, she had to shake her head. "It seems like clearing his face isn't enough. Don't worry, I will continue to treat him. It may take some time, but he will surely wake up!"
She heard Sam mumble something under his breath.
"Nothing, milady.", he pretended and gave a tight smile. "I'm just worried. The patient is really important to the earl, so please continue to give your best."
"Of course.", Katherine ensured him, a bit bitter. "That is what I am here for, after all." That was everything the earl wanted from her, her only reason of existence in his eyes.
Sam's mood seemed to lighten up a bit. "Thank you, milady. Although the earl doesn't show it, you must know that your help means a lot to him."
Her help. Her power. Nothing else. She pressed her lips together. "Is that so? Well, I'll be in my room for now. I'll be back when my magic is refilled." That had been her routine for the last days. Heal the patient till her magic was used up, eat, sleep, and heal again. Till the patient would wake up she didn't plan to stop.
Sam nodded, and let her go. When he couldn't see her small back anymore, he heaved a sigh. "We don't have the freedom to wait until he wakes up, I'm afraid..."
His wrinkled hand felt for the envelope in his dress jacket. Although he didn't read the letter in it yet, he could already guess the content. It would have been a good message if the earl was awake, but like this... it meant even more trouble.