“Miss Estelle! Your clothes are ready for you!” A single woman in maid’s attire. stood before twin elegantly carved wooden doors, with an assorted pile of clothes in her arms. Her voice aroused movement in the room beyond the door from a lone figure who sat cross legged on a bed.
“Ah! Thank you! Could you bring them in?” They flashed a smile from behind the bed canopy and uncrossed their legs. There was a brief pause before the doors opened with a creaking groan, and the woman in frilly attire stepped in. Her eyes canvassed the room that was full of reagent furniture, and spotted a slender silhouette behind the bed canopy.
“Miss Estelle, you-” The woman approached the bed, pulled the canopy drapes open and caught sight of a young woman she knew all too well. Silver white hair, pale white skin and large pink eyes. She was a Star class, Estelle. “Miss Estelle, why are you still in bed?”
“I uhm…” She seemed a little out of it, indicating she just woke up. “It's early.” The excuse only made the maid shake her head and place the clothes in her arms on the bed beside Estelle.
“You must be up and ready! The day has begun, and you are expected at the dining room in five.” At those words Estelle slid off her bed onto the carpeted floor. Still in but a purple nightgown, she faced the maid whom she knew as Lilicia.
“What for?” She inquired while she began to change. Seeing that the Star class was at least out of bed, Lilicia pulled out a roll of paper and began to read it.
“To discuss the current guards you have, as well as a new one coming into town.” As she said this Estelle looked to her with a quizzical expression while pulling a fancy blue and purple blouse down.
“Really?” Though she seemed surprised, the young woman's voice gave off a carefree and indifferent vibe. Her maid nodded and continued scanning the paper.
“Yes. There is also the matter of the social event downtown this evening.” Estelle finished getting dressed by this pointed and paused once she heard that. “You are going to be there right?” Estelle brought a finger to her lips as she recalled the last social event she attended, and an image of a blonde, green eyed man briefly flashed in her mind.
“Is that Diamond class going to be there as well?” Lilicia cringed on reflex at the mention of ‘that Diamond class’ and dropped the paper in her hand in favor of crossing her arms to show her displeasure.
“He will be there too. Why does it matter?” Estelle shrugged with an innocent expression.
“Just curious.” Lilicia sighed and reached down to pick up the roll of paper, while the Star class walked past her as she fixed up her hair.
“Why do you even bother? That guy isn't anything good.” Estelle only shrugged again while brushing bangs from her face and faced Lilicia.
“I don’t see the problem.” The Star class approached the twin wooden doors, and placed a delicate hand on them. “Well I have to go. See you later.” She gave one push and they opened with a groan. Sunlight shone into the room from windows in the hallway, and after offering a small smile to Lilicia the Star class started down the hallway. Watching her go, the maid gave a hefty sigh and took a seat on the bed.
“You live in luxury, but you’re isolated from others. Sometimes I worry for you, miss Estelle.”
“Hm hm~” While Estelle descended a winding staircase to the lowest floor of her home she hummed with a high pitch, though made sure to pay attention so as to not accidentally miss a step and fall down. When she reached the bottom, she spotted two figures standing at the far end of the hallway with stoic expressions, and immediately recognized them as guards, the same ones from the day before. This in turn made the Star class recall what the maid upstairs had mentioned before about a new guard, and she fell into deep thought.
A new guard huh? She kept walking as she monologues internally, turning a corner and stepping into another corridor that she knew led to the dining room. It should be fine. It’s not like I have to change anything about my daily routine. She came to a stop just in front of an oak wood door, and hesitated just momentarily when she reached for the door knob.
“I wonder what this new guard will be like?” She opened the door as she muttered this, and almost immediately upon stepping out into the dining room she spotted another maid, and a man whom she did not recognize. Long black hair that was held in a high ponytail, and blue eyes that were turned up in a feral look. Such an appearance was initially surprising and made a slight chill go down Estelle’s spine, but she shook it off and approached with a carefree smile.
“I heard you were looking for me?” The maid beside this man nodded and while holding a tray of wine glasses, brushed her short brown hair out of her face.
“Yes. We would like you to meet your new guard, Brand.” She gestured to the man beside her briefly, who didn’t seem to acknowledge this and just stared ahead with the same stoic, detached expression all of Estelle’s other ‘guards’ had. “He’s of the Moth class, so you can rest easy.” Estelle cocked her head to the side curiously at the introductory explanation, and despite know how this usually goes she still intended to greet this person.
“Hello.” She offered a light wave to the man called Brand, who ever slightly acknowledged her with a glance, and then he nodded silently. Well it’s better than the others I guess, was Estelle’s thought at the man’s reaction. She took a deep breath and exhaled, then faced the maid. “Where is this social event happening today? I heard about it from Lilicia and-”
“It will be at the center of town. After sundown.” Brand cut in before the maid had a chance to answer, much to her dismay. She shrugged it off and followed up.
“For now just try to stay around the confines of this building. For obvious reasons.” Estelle momentarily puffed her cheeks, then a sigh exited her throat and she nodded without any complaint.
“As always then.” She was ready to exit the dining room with those words when the maid beside Brand cupped a hand over her mouth.
“Take Brand with you. He will accompany you tonight so it would be best if he goes with you now.” Estelle was a little hesitant, but even if she were to disagree the Star class new there was no changing this person's mind.
“Okay.” Her voice trailed off just slightly and she walked out of the dining room. Branch wordlessly looked to the maid next to him, and upon receiving a nod of confirmation he followed after Estelle. Watching him leave, the now lone made scrunched her forehead and fell into thought as she began to monologue to herself.
“It would be nice if the event tonight goes well but,” She paused as a shiver went down her spine and crossed her arms. “why do I keep having this feeling like there's something we've overlooked?” The maid stole a glance out a nearby window, and watched as several people of various upper classes walked through the streets.
“Be well, miss Estelle.”
Given that Estelle and Brand were confined to the interior of a single building on this day, waiting for the evening to roll around was dull and monotonous. Whenever Estelle tried to strike up conversation with Brand, it always ended up being one sided or lasting too short to really be called a conversation'.
Even as it became night time, and the streets were aglow from streetlights things were still quiet between them as they walked a short journey to the center of town where this social event was taking place. Estelle could hear the chatter between various upper class people, who were either Diamond class or Raptor.
There was already a high amount of energy from the crowd of people, and while Estelle and Brand merged into the mess of people the latter a buffered brief ‘excuse us’ here and there. As subtly as possible they made their way to the center, where Estelle spotted a few Diamond classes drinking from wine glasses and laughing about something. She stopped to stare out of curiosity, but Brand grasped her by the arm and pulled her along.
“Come on.” Estelle had to walk faster to keep up with the man as he approached a group of tables by a fountain, where water was sprayed forth from a number of holes in a statue. Brand quietly took a cup and grabbed a pitcher full of something from the table and poured.
Estelle, not wanting to stay quiet any longer tentatively stepped up next to her new guard and craned her neck to get a better look at his face.
“So, is this your first time at a social event as a moth class?” She watched the man’s expression loosen just slightly as she talked, and then he handed her a cup with a slow sigh.
“You are the first Star class I've guarded for an event like this.” His reply only gave Estelle more questions than answers, but couldn't put them into words and just stared blankly at Brand. “Drink.” He gestured to her and the young woman peered into the cup in her hands to see a clear liquid, like water. She was tentative again, and slowly brought the cup to her lips to take a sip. To her surprise, it was indeed just crisp clean water. It was simple, but delicious and Estelle found herself gulping the rest without a second thought.
“Mmm…” She lowered the cup from her mouth and looked to Brand with a content smile. “How nice it would be if all the water was as clean and crisp as this.” Her guard just folded his arms and shrugged.
“All of tonight's items are courtesy of the work of the Canine and Work Horses. They were the ones who tirelessly prepared it for the upper class.” Estelle followed along as he spoke but was more surprised to hear him talk that much at all, realizing it was the most he had spoken all day. She noted his expression was more animated than before, if only slightly and was intrigued. Before she could ask any more however-
“Is that who I think it is?” A high pitched, energized voice drew both of their attention to a young man approaching from the crowd, a glass in his hand and a sly smile plastered on his face. While Brand was unfamiliar with this person, and thus put on edge, Estelle recognized his suave blond hair and striking green eyes.
“You are, Tolliver?” She put a finger to her temple as she tried to recall this person, who nodded with joy.
“Yes! I'm so glad you remember me. It was quite an honor to meet you last time.” Tolliver performed a small bow with arm under his chest, and while Estelle seemed to be flattered Brand wasn't so amused and frowned but kept quiet.
“Hard to forget you. You were so very conversational before.” Estelle remarked with a sideways grin, perhaps from her uncertainty at how to respond to this man's high energy. It was also strange to talk like this considering that she was only 5’1 and thus much shorter. Tolliver just gave an innocent smile, that faded when he took notice of Brand, at which point his expression darkened.
“So who is this, I may ask?” It was hard for Estelle to pick up on the icy nature of his voice, but Brand did and stared sharply into the man’s eyes. Off put by this silent exchange, Estelle hastily put a hand on Brand’s side and smiled once more.
“This is Brand, he's a new guard. Don't worry, he doesn't bite.” The Star class furrowed her brows all of a sudden and rethought that statement. “I think.” Tolliver watched Brand intently for a moment, before looking back to Estelle with a soft sigh and showed a calm, collected smile.
“Oh.please don't worry. That little bit there was nothing. We’re fine.” He did steal a glance at Brand again before taking a step back. “Well I just wanted to greet you. We'll talk more later?” Estelle was a bit surprised by his request, but found no reason to refuse and nodded.
“Of course.” Content with her answer, Tolliver continued stepping backwards until he merged with the crowd of people again, disappearing as quickly as he'd come. Estelle watched him go and offered a polite wave, muttering under her breath about something she and the maid Lilicia talked about earlier.
Brand, having remained quiet up till now finally got Estelle’s attention by tapping her on the shoulder.
“I am going to canvass the area to make sure it is safe. Please wait here until I return.”
“Wha-? Uh, okay?” She was caught off guard by his statement, but did not argue and watched as her new guard backed away, swiftly moving past another crowd of people. “Since we got here, he's been acting strange.” Estelle shrugged the thought off, and stood by the table as she was asked and began to patiently wait for Brand to return.
“I wouldn't have expected her to get a new guard so soon.” Tolliver stood near a table full of food and wiped some crumbs away from his mouth with a handkerchief as he mumbled to himself. “It won't be easy to approach her from now on. I'll have to think of a way to get on that guy's good side.”
“Tolliver, sir you're about to knock that glass over.” A soft male voice called to him and with a surprised look he saw how close his own glass was to the edge and chuckled.
“Oops. I suppose I've been talking to myself too long again.” He said indifferently and showed a calm smile as he turned to one of the Canine ass waiters nearby. “Would you be so kind as to fetch me another glass?” This person seemed eager to comply, and hastily took the wine glass from Tolliver before hurrying away to do as asked. Once he was gone, the Diamond class male dropped the smile for a tired look of disgust and ran a hand through his hair.
“First thing I'll do when I become a Star class is order more competent helpers.” He closed his eyes with a huff and leaned against the table. “First I must marry the woman who will do just that.” Now a creepy smile formed and he looked up at the sky with a malicious gleam in his eye. “Wait for me, dear Estelle.”
When ten minutes had passed after Brand left to survey the area, Estelle began to grow impatient, and shifty. Thus against her better judgment, she discretely backed away from the others and walked the alleyways to look for her new guard.
“I thought being a guard meant always looking after me?” She mused quietly to herself while turning a corner. Her boots clicked against the pavement and in this part of town where no streetlights shone she began to grow uncomfortable. The Star class turned another corner, and felt a chilling wind sweep through that light blew her skirt back.
She gulped, and kept walking for another minute, until she couldn't take it anymore.
“Brand?” At first she called out softly, but when no one reply and a bead of sweat rolled down her face she gulped. Braaand!”
“What are you doing out here? The deep voice startled her as she spun around, and was relieved to find the exact person she was looking for right there a few feet away.
“Oh good. I was wondering where you went.” Estelle breathed while she started to approach him. “Where have you been?” When she didn't get a reply she frowned and folded her arms. “...Brand?”
“...” The guard was stoic and silent, unmoving from his position as the Star class girl approached him and even when she was right in front of him.
“Brand, did something... happen?” There was a trace of worry in her voice, but the moment she reached out to touch him her whole body felt sluggish, and her vision blurred somewhat. “Bra...nd?” Her speech started to break up, and her eyelids became heavy. Unable to stay upright, she fell against Brand's chest and closed her eyes.
Still, he remained silent. Right up until he felt Estelle’s slip downward, and then he used one arm to keep her upright. He breathed a long sigh and closed his eyes, and said out loud-
“I have her with me.” He spoke seemingly to no one, but a short pause later a much older voice replied in a chillingly cold voice.
“I knew we could count on you. Thank you Brand.”