Status: This is an old one, but I finally got the inspiration to write it.

Royal Blood

Chapter Three: Missing

William's finger tapped his leg, the thoughts of what many of the people passing him had said still nagged him from the back of his mind. If they recognized him, they had offered condolences as if someone had died. As far as he knew, everyone he cared for was still very much alive. Rosenne and her boneheaded father, Nina Gero, even their butler Benjamin...Nothing had happened in the short time that he'd gotten off of the phone with Alexander, had it?
Then there was that brief contact with that odd man. There weren't very many things that unsettled William, but that man sent a cold chill down his spine and settled discomfort in his stomach. He did his best to keep his black eyes from grabbing the forefront of his mind, but even reading his beloved books on theology and philosophy couldn't distract him now. None of the words on the page registered, and all of it looked like a foreign language he had yet to learn. He shut the book. There was no use trying to lose himself in it now. He was beginning to wonder if this was what Alexander went through when his paranoia took control. Part of William wondered if this was paranoia at all.
His gaze shifted to the scrolling landscape. The trees were thinning as they approached the Kindred countryside, still about a half-an-hour ride from the train station in Hugo. Soon they would be surrounded by sprawling hills and sparse great oak trees. It would be a peaceful scenery if his mind wasn't running about so wildly. Such a waste of a soothing journey...
Several times an old woman with a bonnet and an apron-wrapped dress walked by with a trolley of snacks. Several times William turned her down, his mind much to preoccupied to bother wanting any sort of sustenance. She would just smile, the corners of her dainty mouth creasing, and she would continue on.
She passed by one final time, "Would you like to buy, deary?" Her voice was feeble and soft.
"No thank you." William muttered politely for, what he hoped to be, the final time.
A young man with slightly messy hair and goggles strapped to his head walked up to her, "What're ya selling?" He gave the woman a sleazy smirk that made William shake his head.
After she named off her wares, he said, "Gimme some of those, those and a bottle of pop." She handed them to him, "Thanks granny, keep the change." He handed her a sack of coins and assessed the things he bought.
William opened a new book, hoping to get lost in the words on the page, but a voice interrupted his thoughts, "Have ya heard about the fire at the Goldbrave estate?"
William's head snapped up, his eyes instantly on the young man. The man's pale blue orbs were surely settled on him, "What?"
"The fire at the Goldbrave estate," He prodded.
"I came from Barron, I think I would have heard about a fire at the Goldbrave estate." William waved it away, but his nerves bunched in his stomach again.
"Not that one," The young man seemed to push William's attempt at debunking him away, "I meant the one out in Galenon. It's already made the news, heard they're still trying to put it out." He leaned against the door frame of his compartment.
"How is that possible?" William muttered.
"I dunno," He shrugged, "I just wanna know why someone would torch the place if Goldbrave wasn't even in it."
"He isn't..." It felt like someone had punched him in the gut. If what this man told him was true, then...
"Have they recovered a body yet?" William asked, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"What?" The young man raised a brow.
"Have they recovered a body yet?" He asked again.
The man shrugged, "I dunno," He smirked, "Besides, what should it matter, Goldbrave wasn't in it. He can rebuild the sucker, lord knows he's got more than enough money."
"Are you certain?" William muttered.
"Pretty sure." He shrugged, glancing over shoulder, "Well, nice talkin' to ya gramps, I'm being summoned." When his stalky form retreated into another part of the train, William's mind sped into overdrive.
If this man was telling the truth, what had become of Rosenne? Was she trapped? Had she gotten out? If she had escaped the fire, where was she? Was it true that they were still battling the blaze? Would it be out by the time he got there? So many questions whizzed through his mind at once that he was surprised that he hadn't overloaded yet.
By the time they reached Hugo station, he found himself rigid with anticipation.

The man with pointed ears and metallic green eyes sighed. He could hear Alec running his mouth about the estate fire in Galenon. Was he trying to ruin their mission? They were supposed to collect information, not spread it. Why did his partner have to be such an imbecile? Vaden Aro must hate him.
Yes, that was it.
"Alec," He snapped, "Shut your trap and hurry up."
Alec glanced over his shoulder and shot him a smirk that made his blood boil, "Well, nice talkin' to ya gramps, I'm being summoned." He took his sweet time ambling back to their compartment, and once he was safely through the doors, the elf shut them.
"What the hell are you doing!?" He barked.
Alec put his hands up as a sign soothing, "Damn, calm down man. I was just chattin' with the locals. I got some food, I'm starvin'." He stuffed most of the sweets into his bag, but he popped open the bottle of carbonation.
The elf glared him down, "We were sent to collect information. A simple recon, moron. If Aro found out that we were spreading news before the news channels could, he would have our heads."
"I ain't scared of that pipsqueak." He waved it away, taking a swig of his soda.
"Vaden Aro isn't just a pipsqueak. Just because he looks like a seventeen year old-"
"A very short seventeen year old." He interjected with another cocky smirk.
The elf continued on, "-it doesn't mean you disrespect him. He is hund-"
"Yeah–yeah, blah–blah, whatever," Alec said, "Come on Aegis, get your knickers out of a twist. You're starting to become a drag." He held out his soda, offering him a drink. A glare told him no, so in turn he took another chug.
Aegis's eye twitched for a few seconds before he forced down a deep, soothing breath. When he released it, he spoke, "I wouldn't be such a 'drag' if you would get your head out of your ass. We are supposed to be gathering information, not lollygagging around and doing whatever we please."
"Hey," Alec said, "I am gathering information. I'm just gettin' it my way."
"Oh really..." Aegis said skeptically, his lips pursing slightly.
"Yes 'really', kill joy." Alec rolled his eyes.
"Go ahead..." Aegis said, "Tell me what you have to contribute, I'd love to hear it."
"Just from talking to the old man, I can definitely say that the girl was at the mansion." He sat on the seat across from him and lay his feet across the remaining cushions. Alec tipped the bottle to his lips once more, draining it
"How did you gather that?" Aegis muttered dryly.
"That man asked me if any bodies were recovered." He said.
"So...that means he was expecting someone to be there—and I don't mean the help." A triumphant smirk settled onto his partner's lips as it clicked.
"You might not be as stupid as I thought," Aegis allowed.
Alec threw out his arms dramatically, "And who would be at a Goldbrave estate important enough for anyone to care whether a body was recovered or not..."
Now it was Aegis's turn to roll his eyes, "His daughter."
"I was wondering when you'd figure it out." An eerily pleasant voice rang through the compartment.
Damn it. Anyone but him...
Out of the shadows in the corner of the compartment, a figure of a tall man with silver hair and black eyes draped in a handsome suit materialized. His eyes glinted with predatory hunger and arrogance.
"Well, well..." Alec smirked unwelcomely at him, "Look what came crawling out of pits. Long time no see, Xander."
He cast a look of loathing at him, "Why don't you go rip someone off with a pyramid scheme?"
"Bite me, bloodsucker." His partner sneered. Aegis ran his narrow fingers through his black hair.
"I drink blood not piss, scum."
"Enough." Aegis groaned, "Aro obviously keeps shoving us together, so we might as well collaborate while we're on the job."
Xander gave him a steely glance before crossing his arms over his chest. Alec's jaw tensed, nostrils flared as he glared at the vampire standing in front of him.
"Good." Aegis glanced out the window. They were nearing the station in Hugo, "We have to find the girl. Aro's orders."
"Do ya think your bloodsucker minions can handle that much?" Alec sneered.
"Do you think you could use enough mental capacity to actually sound intelligent when you speak?" Xander retorted dryly.
Alec glared slits at him, "Only if you promise to get staked, leech."
"I'll get right on that. Remind once you've gotten another lead." The train came to a halt making Alec bump his head and spew profanities.
Aegis sighed, unmoved and unaffected just as Xander was. This was going to be a pain in the neck.

William kept a steady pace as his legs carried him forward. His nerves were already stabbing into his gut, twisting and churning. If it weren't for the fact that he had to remain calm until his worries were proved right or wrong, he would be in a panic. His mind kept going in circles. "What if's" were pounding into his brain. He just had to tell himself that Rosenne was okay. She was safe. Nothing was wrong. If the estate was still ablaze—which hopefully it would not be—she had gotten out safely.
He could smell the light, lingering scent of smoke on the breeze, but if he acknowledged that, he might have to acknowledge the fact that something could have happened to his god-daughter.
He reached the heart of town within minutes. People crowded around the fronts of television stores where urgent news was broadcasted. He couldn't bring himself to see, so he trudged on. He flagged down a bright yellow taxi.
The automobile pulled to the side of the road, "Where to?"
William sat in the back seat, "Goldbrave estate."
"Haven't you heard, bub?" The man raised a thick brow.
His stomach nearly dropped, "What?"
"The place is burnin'." The bottom of his stomach gave way as he pinched the bridge of his nose to hold himself together.
"Just take me there," In the stress, he managed to find a little clarity. That clarity was muddled and only half reasonable, but it would have to do. How else would he handle this?
"Alright, bub." The taxi wove between other cars, driving as fast as legally possible.
In the distance, William could see a cloud of smoke rising. It was a thick, stormy grey that rose into the sky as if connected to a funeral pyre. His jaw tensed and the muscles in his body stiffened in anticipation. People were crowding closer and closer toward the estate, most likely to see the burning mass for themselves. William scoffed. These people were looking for a spectacle. They didn't care that someone might be hurt. It was all a part of the show.
"This is as far as I can get ya, bub." The taxi came to a halt. There was less than half-a-mile left to go, but the street was completely packed with news vehicles and automobiles ditched by the pedestrians now littering the last half-mile.
"That's fine." He paid the man for the little amount driven and exited the car. He would have to continue on foot.
And that he did. He was lanky and somewhat thin, so he slipped through the crowds with quite a bit of ease. His long legs gave him a wide stride that allowed him to cover at least twice the distance. By the time he was within fifty meters of the estate, the heat radiating from the barely contained blaze was like standing next to a raging bonfire. When he reached the front of the crowd, he was forced to stop by the caution tape lining the perimeter.
Emergency vehicles dotted the front lawn and newscasters were each telling their own version of the tragedy at hand. He squinted through the blaring lights to check for any sign of a young girl with chestnut hair, but he couldn't see through the blaring lights and red hue of the flames. So, he did the only thing he could in the situation. He slipped under the tape holding people back as an officer approached.
"Sir, you can't do that!" He called out.
He pulled his i.d. out of his waistcoat and held it out. Recognition crossed the man's face, "Oh! You're-"
"I am a family friend." William said.
"Continue." William nodded and continued onward briskly.
He took in the scene. Red and blue lights flashed and the red and orange colors from the fire danced across the lawn. What hadn't already been reduced to ashes and glowing embers still held up the roaring flames licking up the sides of the mansion.
The wind then became chaotic, whipping the air around them into submission. William squinted upward as a ladder dropped from the airship hovering above them. The ladder fell to the ground a few meters away from him, and a tall man with broad shoulders slid down and landed on his feet with a thud. His lean body stiffened into a business like persona as the man with chestnut hair turned to the cameras that now angled toward him.
His chestnut hair was slicked back in an attempt to tame it and his chiseled jaw was tense, his handsome face determined and livid. His clothing reflected his wealth and elegance, shades of beige and gold.
"Alexander?" William squinted to try to get a better look. His forest jade eyes snapped to William and they lightened a shade.
"William!" William allowed his old friend wrap him in a bone crushing embrace. He only spoke again when he pulled away, "Any news on my Rosie?"
"I only just arrived." Each of the newscasters began to commence reporting that Alexander Goldbrave himself had arrived.
"So...nothing? Nothing at all?" His voice was full of slowly diminishing hope.
"I don't know, Alexander." William glanced at the cameras, "Perhaps we'd better talk somewhere more private." Alexander's hands scrubbed his clean shaven chin.
"Perhaps." He glanced to the cameras, "One moment, old friend." He motioned to them in a grand way, "Gather around, reporters of media." William couldn't help his groan. Alexander was never subtle about anything.
Most of the excited newscasters gathered around them—only because Alexander had stopped him from slinking out of the eye of the camera and held him at his side.
"Mr. Goldbrave!" Channel one called out. He acknowledged them dramatically, "What are your thoughts on what has happened this day?"
"Any man that refuses to target another directly is scum." His charismatic voice already boomed without the microphone, but the aid of the electronics only made it that much more intimidating.
"Mr. Goldbrave!" Channel three called, "What will you do about your ruined summer home?"
"All we can do now is contain the blaze and eliminate it." He said.
"Mr. Goldbrave!" Channel seven called, "Who do you think would target you in such an off hand way?"
"I know who, there's no hiding it." William pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Mr. Goldbrave!' Channel three said, "Your daughter and only heir was rumored to be holding residence here. Is it true?"
Something sparked in his green eyes, "Yes."
"No bodies have been recovered yet. Are you worried?" He could feel Alexander stiffen beside him, his fists clenching. Even William was a little affronted with their questioning.
"Of course," Alexander disguised his grief well, "She is my baby girl, and all I have left is hope. If her body has not been recovered, then there is every chance that she is alive and well."
"Mr. Goldbrave," Channel one called again, "Do you think they'll catch the arson?"
"Why? I already know who it was." William let out a groan. He knew where this was going, and it was spiraling down quickly.
"Who?" Don't encourage him.
"Who else? Vaden Aro." Damn it.
"That's a bold claim. Do you have any evidence?"
"Plenty. Think about it," Alexander proclaimed, "If your competition was looming over your head with an ax preparing to squash you and your business for good, wouldn't you feel threatened?"
"That's a good point, Mr. Goldbrave." They chimed, "What do you have to say about it?" All cameras and microphones were aimed his way.
"I only have this to say and it is to you Aro," A challenge glinted in William's old friend that he had never seen before, "If you think a petty little thing like this is going to distract me from dominating the battle field, you are wrong. I will come for you. You will get what you deserve for endangering my daughter in your dastardly schemes. And if you are too gutless to face me like a man, then I will annihilate you like the invertebrate recreant you are."
Every single one of the reporters' faces reflected the deepest levels of shock, most of them with tinges of respect around the edges.
"That will be all." William said. He guided Alexander away from the prying eyes. He needed to get him alone.

The young man sat upon his throne. The throne he built from nothing. Just as his competitors had. He deserved his throne. He deserved the wealth and the power that this seat gave him. That his business brought him. That Goldbrave tried to take away from him.
He twirled a lock of his neatly groomed, powder white hair around his dusky, grayish-blue finger. His golden eyes glinted with malice as they shone in the light of the television screen sitting before him. On the screen, there stood Goldbrave. He with his charismatic vigor that made Aro's reclusiveness pale in comparison.
The way Aro saw it, he shouldn't have to stand in front of crowds and answer questions. He had people beneath him to do that. He shouldn't be required to do something so menial when he had larger, more important things to attend to.
Though, he couldn't help but increase the volume when the all-too-cocky Goldbrave spoke his name directly. In his little rant, he all but declared war on him and his company. Too bad the old man didn't realize his mistake. Aro had no intention on confronting him directly unless he was left with no other options. This was not due to cowardice as Goldbrave had assumed. Merely safe strategy. If he attacked him directly, that would ruin any chance he had of reigning as the victor.
"Vaden," A clear female voice filled his ear. His eyes trailed to his sister's slender form.
"What have I told you about calling me by my first name?" He reminded her distastefully, "Just because you are my sister doesn't change the fact that I am still your employer."
"I am more than some simple lackey that you can order around as you please," She said evenly, "I am your sister, but I am also your adviser. Therefore, I advise you to watch your tongue. I am still your elder, brother. You hold the rank of clan leader only because you were born a male."
A smirk played on Aro's lips, "Testy today aren't we?" His sister was filled with plenty of spunk—one of the many reasons she held the position of second-in-command.
"Wary," She amended.
"Of?" He muttered, not really caring to hear the answer.
"Your mercenaries were sloppy." She said.
"And I will deal with them accordingly," He said harshly, "Get to the point, Solara. I am not in the mood for games."
"Goldbrave will do as he says. He is not one to make false promises."
"I'm aware of this." He said.
"I have told you several times to leave Goldbrave to me. Focus on finding the girl." He said, his patience barely a trickling stream.
"If your men had done their job, I would already have her in custody." Solara said hotly.
Silence fell between them, allowing the television to be the only thing issuing any sort of sound. The newscastor on the television screen was spewing some sort of nonsense about the girl, which peaked Aro's interest. He increased the volume.
"The heir of the Goldbrave corporation, Rosenne Goldbrave is still unaccounted for. Her body hasn't been found anywhere in the wreckage, nor has she been confirmed dead or alive. As of now she is presumed missing—" He muted the sound. That was all he needed to know.
"Where is she?" Aro asked.
"As of now, it is unknown. All that has been confirmed is that she is very much alive." Aro sent a steely look at his sister.
"Which of them set the fire?"
"The bloodsucker." Of course.
"Tell them to report in. I have questions."
"Yes sir."
"And Solara,"
"Tell all three of them: If they don't show, I'll have their heads." He said, a darkness glinting in his golden eyes. Solara nodded and left her brother to himself.
Deep down, he should have known that Goldbrave would resort to something like that. He was always overly cautious, and that ridiculous sense of caution nearly costed Aro everything.
♠ ♠ ♠
None of this chapter was in Rosenne's POV. I got to dabble a little in the points of view of others. Like Vaden Aro himself or some of his henchmen (like Aegis). You even got to meet Alexander in person.