I took the stairs up to the balcony, wanting to prolong this meeting. Since Rogan was downstairs with his sister, who was waiting for me in the box? I began having second thoughts about this meeting. I took a moment to pull myself together, took a deep breath and willed my feet to move forward up the stairs.
I entered a lounge area at the top of the stairs and had to take a moment to gain my bearings. I found the door to the balcony and stepped through into the dimly lit hallway leading to the viewing boxes. I paused to let my eyes adjust to the dark.
I was surprised at how qui ckly my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. I was standing in front of the curtain to Box A without realizing I had even moved my feet. I peered in through the partially opened curtain and saw a man sitting in a chair at the front of the box.
He made no indication that he was aware of my presence, yet he knew I was there. I could sense him probing into my mind. Actually, I could sense several intruders; violating my thoughts. I tried to empty my mind, but it was proving to be difficult; more difficult in this place, than ever before.
Each probe was like a voice; much like one can discern a speaker by their voice, one can discern these probes and identify their originator. However, I only “knew” this man’s intrusions, although others seemed familiar, I was unable to identify them.
“Come; sit! Don’t waste my time,” he snarled, seemingly annoyed. He made only the slightest tilt of his head in my direction, before returning his gaze towards the stage.
Well, I could see this was going to go well, but I was here to seek information. I took a breath, choking back some biting words and stepped into the box.
“What was I doing here?” I thought as I closed the curtain behind me.
“You’re here in an attempt to learn more of what you are,” his thoughts invaded my mind. I hesitated just inside the curtain, shocked by the realization that I was so vulnerable. My mind was an open book to these people. I would have to learn to suppress my thoughts better; and quickly.
The lights from the stage below draped the theater in a soft glow which set off the rich reds and dark woods. Melded together with the ambient lighting it created an ominous atmosphere in the balcony area. The only thing missing was fog. I can only imagine the depth of these colors under normal lighting.
“You really should get out more, Jadon. Your thoughts lend me to believe you have yet to experience your true heritage.”
Before I could take another step, he turned his head toward me and blasted me with thoughts; angry and annoying thoughts, all urging me to sit down.
I refrained from answering, instead concentrating on clearing my mind of petty thoughts.
He clearly looked annoyed; perhaps not wanting to be here in the first place. I could sense that he was not here of his own volition. I couldn’t help but wonder if that look was etched on his face for all time.
“Of course I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed with you. Now sit down and let’s get this over with,” he conveyed in an even, unemotional tone; almost monotone, if thoughts can be likened to verbal speech.
I couldn’t help but to stifle a chuckle; knowing I was an annoyance to this man.
“Clearly you have a lot to learn. How one of your nature can be so ignorant is astounding. But I must forgive your stupidity, having lived with humans all this time. I am sure we will be spending quite a bit of time together.”
The way he said “humans,” seemed forced. One could feel the very hatred in him for them. Do I really want to be associated with such a person?
Taking a seat next to him, I shot back, “That’s a daunting proposition, at best. I have no desire to spend any more time with you than I have to.”
There was a troupe of actors on the stage below, acting out some medieval scene. This was clearly a rehearsal as they were clumsy and miscalculating; human. Gah! Why did I even think that? I don’t want to be like Rogan; or this man next to me; finding fault with humans. Unlike them, I do not feel disgust and hatred of humans. I find them endearing, not cold and controlling.
“Well, let us make the best of this situation. Clearly neither of us wants to be in the company of the other.”
“What would you like to ask first? Ah, yes, your indolent actions have made me forget my place. I am Dieter van Halstaed.”
“Thank you,” I said aloud, “And I am…”
“Yes, yes, you’re Jadon! Please do not defile this place by speaking aloud. It is so cumbersome and irritating. If you’re anything like your father, you have a bright mind, so use it.”
“Okay, so you’re name is Dieter,” I began, “But just who are you? Why should I waste my time with you?”
“You really are a simpleton, aren’t you? If you had not been with humans for so long, you would know who you are! You have a lot to learn before you will be of any use to our master.”
“”Of use to OUR master?’ Just what are you implying?”
“Yes; why else do you think you came here, but to serve our master?”
“You are more pretentious than Rogan. What is it with you people? Where do you get off telling me what I will and will not do? I am not here to serve anyone, especially your master. I only seek to find out who I really am. I made a mistake coming here. I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
I tried to rise from the chair, but was unable; somehow compelled to remain seated; forced against my will. I could feel another presence, a presence even stronger than Dieter; yet I could see no one else.
A vile grin spread across his face. His thoughts betrayed him; reveling in the fact that I was being forced to sit there.
“Go ahead, fight it; you cannot win. The master can make you do his bidding and you will have no recourse but to comply.”
“Who is this “master” you keep talking about?”
“He’s your father. And you will serve him.”
“If he truly is my father, why has he not come to me himself? Why send a lowly minion such as yourself to do his bidding?”
“Lowly minion,” he scoffed. “If it were up to me, I would do away with you right here. Be glad your future is not up to me.” He grimaced as if in pain. Was he receiving a mental brow beating? I could only hope so.
“Let’s get back to the subject at hand, shall we?” he asked, speaking aloud for the first time; seeming more congenial.
“Why am I here, exactly?” I ventured.
“Your father wants to offer you a haven. You do not have a place among the humans. They are weak, frail creatures that are short-lived. If they realize what you are, you will be cast out. As a result, you will have to move from place to place, to keep your true identity hidden.”
“And just why would he think I would enjoy living under his watchful eye?”
“He can offer you protection.”
“Offer me protection from what; who?”
“From those of his kind that would see you destroyed,” he said curtly.
“And just who or what would they be?”
“Vampires! Most of them would see you destroyed! You are an abomination to them; a half-breed. You are loathed in their world, and cast out by humans. You have no other place where you can belong, than with him.”
“I see! So, in a nut shell, I’m damned it I do and damned if I don’t? And why do you choose to serve him?”
“I am as you are. I have no place in this world. I am fortunate that he offers me protection.”
“So you are Branded as well!” I stated as if confirming the fact for myself. “Yes, I sense that, now. How long have you been here?”
“I have been with my master all my life. There is nothing else for me.”
“He’s brain-washed you into thinking you have no other option.”
“Hold your tongue. He has been good to me.”
“Good to you for keeping you bound to him; locked away as if in some fairy tale tower?”
“I have everything I could need. What more is there?”
“There’s life; to make your own way in the world; make your own decisions.”
“Unlike you, I have not been tainted by human ideals. I do not need to trek about the world in search of excitement and riches; in search of myself. I have everything I could possibly want right here.”
“Do you have freedom?”
“I have my freedoms, yes.”
“No, I don’t mean allowances; I mean freedom; to go where you will, when you will; to do as you please; to say as you please.”
“I have all I need.”
“And I have all I need. I will need some time to think things through.”
“”You would defy your father’s wishes and leave?”
“I must go back, for a time; to collect my things.”
“Everything you need is here.”
“Perhaps! But I have become attached to some material belongings that I would like to have; wherever I end up. Pleas offer my father my apologies.”
“As you wish. I will have a car waiting outside to return you to your hotel.”
“Thank you,” I said as I rose. “You’re my brother, aren’t you?” suddenly coming to the realization. I could sense something familiar about him, but couldn’t quite place my finger on it until now.
“Yes, I am,” was his simple reply.
I walked out, not sparing a backward glance. I was actually surprised that I met with no resistance. Once outside, I made my way around the side of the building to where the car was parked. As I was waiting for my ride, a woman approached.
“You must come with me, please,” she pleaded. “I have dismissed your driver.”
“Just where…” I began to ask.
“Do not speak; not here,” she spoke with fear in her eyes.
She took my hand and led me to a car that was left running. She motioned for me to get in the passenger seat as she moved around to the other side and got in behind the wheel. No sooner had I closed the door, than she had pressed her foot on the accelerator and sped away from the opera house.