Julian smiled as he walked closer to the other man. Same height, same face. Every single thing.

”One thing I like about you is how you find it so easy to forfeit a second of youth just to look like me. ”

The other man cocked his head. ”A eecond of youth is worth nothing. ”

”Of course. ” His smile wavered as he said it, then took the last step closer. It felt like he was looking at a mirror version of himself, like instead of the smoky room, he was standing in front of a building of glass.

”I said, give it to me, Julian. ”

Julian laughed. ”You are funny. Do you think I spent all those years looking for it just to hand it back? I mean…you could have as well hidden it well enough. You could have kept it safe from the onset. ”

The other man tried to come closer, but Julian put a single finger on his chest, rendering him immobile.

”How dare you? ” He said through gritted teeth, his eyes wide.

Julian shrugged. ”The piece…it will be so much fun, Bastien. Keeping her so close so you can just almost feel it…but then you will never be able to get your hands on it. Because… ”

Suddenly the room around them erupted in flames again.

”Because that is all you can do. Set things on fire and howl. ”

Bastien closed his eyes momentarily. ”You can not just be here to say these. I know you a little more than that. Talk. ”

Julian laughed. ”Weirdly, I just wanted to be here. To tell you myself and see the look on your face. In fifty days…I will end it all. ” With a small elegant smile that seemed almost practiced, he started to walk away.

”Just let me end it, Julian. Just this once. Let me end it. ”

Julian only laughed and continued on his way.

”You are underestimating me, Julian. You think because I am here, powerless…you think I will be able to do nothing? I will, Julian. You are underestimating me. ”

Julian turned, smiling. ”For sure. I am underestimating you. But you are not worth more than my next to nothing expectations of you. Keep burning up the room. That is the only thing you will be able to do anyway. ”

”We used to be allies. You and I…back then… ”

”I abandoned you. You were stupid. Clueless. Foolishly arrogant. I let go of your hand. And look where you ended. That piece you want so bad.. It would not exist without me. And you know that. ”

Bastien took a deep breath, the smoke around the room heightening. ”We will see Julian. ”

”Of course, ” he said, then took a step forward. ”Little brother. ”

With that, he left the room and Caroline immediately closed it down.

”That meeting seemed different. ” Caroline remarked. ”What are you going to do with the girl? ”

Julian loosened the cuff on his hand. ”Just let her do what she wants. Until the night of alignment. ”

Caroline nodded. ”I will. ”

Eliana rejoined the party, but Julian was nowhere to be seen. Even Caroline was not around. She made her way to the bar and took a stool, her hair falling around her face. She watched the guests that were socializing around, forming bonds that would most likely earn them a lot of money, and she sighed.

What was she even doing? She did not fit here. This was not her place. Julian was offering a good deal but…

”Eliana. ” She turned to Carolines raised brow. ”Follow me. Julian will not be rejoining the party. ”

Eliana nodded and followed quietly, her head lowered. Caroline took her through the long flight of stairs, Then upwards towards a set of rooms. All had the same doors, and she wondered if any of them would be different.

”Choose the room you want to stay in. ” Caroline said, then folded her arm and backed away.

”Is it all the same? ”

Caroline shrugged. ”You are free to check. ”

Eliana nodded and opened the first room. She expected it to be plain, probably just offering the most modest of furniture. When she opened it, it matched her expectations.

There was no colour code at all, and everything seemed to have been bought differently, rather than in a set.

She closed it and walked to the next. Caroline watched her, a sinister smile on her face.

She decided to expect more. Maybe royal. He was after all, one of the richest in the city. Maybe…just maybe this one would be better.

She opened slowly and stepped in. A double queen size bed whose cushioned head board stopped at the very end of the wall graced the middle of the room.

The furniture seemed cut out of the bed, with all of them having mirrors. Mirrors that disected her image in them. It was large and spacious, and when she walked further, her feet sank into the soft fur carpet.

”It is beautiful. ”

”As you expected, right? ”

Eliana nodded. ”I thought I should expect more, and it didn let me down. ”

Caroline nodded. ”Your expectations will not let you down as long as you are here. ”

”How so? ”

Caroline simply shrugged. ”Is there someone who will be bothered with the fact that you are here? A relative, a parent? ”

Eliana shook her head. ”I am an orphan and…I never knew any relatives. ”

”Perfect then. I do not like to deal with unnecessary mess. Settle in. ” With that, she left the room, then locked the door of the other rooms with a key, leaving only Elianas unlocked.

”She has no relative, Julian. So we have nothing to worry about.

”Still check. I do not have the patience to contend with reports and all that. ” Julian lifted his hand to his head.

”You seem restless. ” Caroline said. ”I have never seen you like this. ”

He broke into a smile. ”But how have you ever seen me? Kind? Generous? I can not wait any longer. Caroline. Fifty days…it is way too long. ”

”I know you for patience. ”

”And I do not intend to tarnish that image. Take care of everything. ”

Caroline nodded and watched as Julian faded from her sight, and she turned towards the dark path of the dungeon. She made her way slowly, till she came face to face with the iron doors.

”You are back, ” She heard from inside the smaller door.

”It is not the piece, Bastien. ”

”What do you mean? ”

”The person with the piece fell for my spell. If she really has the piece, she would be immune to it. ”

A small laugh came from the room. ”Poor brother. Does he know? ”

”No. ”

”Do you intend to tell him? ”

”Never. ”

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