He pointed at her. "Stay here," he bit out, then disappeared. She heard him downstairs, locking away her freedom again, then he was gone once more. Stay here? In the room or the manor? He'd been so thrown by the news that he hadn't elaborated.
So stumbling, clutching at the wall as energy funneled out of her, she finally made her way to his study. She pulled aside the cabinet, finding the safe behind it. When she reached for the lock, her hand veered off course as though pushed by an unseen force. She bit her lip and tried again, fighting to simply brush the metal.
Commanded not to touch it. Just like he would command her to forget who she was, that she even had a family. Lightning cracked outside in time with a sob. He'd been about to do it.
It was true then. Vampires couldn't be trusted - he'd seemed out of his mind with rage. Why had she gone against all she'd ever learned to be with him?
The years had been weighing on her and she'd been overwhelmed by the yearning to simply lean on someone, just for a while, to have a partner to watch her back and hold her when she needed it. Surely she'd convinced herself to accept him because he was strong and she had grown so weak. No longer.
There were ways she could get around his orders - nimble thinking, creative reasoning. As tears poured from her eyes and the lightning grew to constant furious bolts, she tore at the wall, at the very stone that housed it.
So he would use her? Like a toy. A mindless slave. Adjustments?
Toy, bait, whore...Just because you wanted to be f**ked, he'd sneered.
Two millennia of people thinking they could use her. Always using her.
She'd take this safe with her teeth if she had to.
"You should see the other guy," Murdoch grated from his bed when Wroth traced into his room.
Wroth shuddered to see his brother's face torn and limbs broken like this even while knowing he couldn't die from anything short of a beheading or sunlight. He shook himself. "What has happened to you?" he asked, his voice a rasp.
"About to ask you the same. My God, Nikolai, you look worse than I do."
He thought about how he'd left Myst at the window, crying, staring out at the lightning storm that came from within her. It pained him so much to think of her hurting alone... "We'll talk of my problems later. Who has done this to you?"
"Ivo has demons. Demons turned vampires. They are strong - you can't imagine it. He is looking for someone, but I don't think it's your Bride - they mentioned something about a 'halfling'."
"There were three in his party - other vampires as well. We took down two of the demons but one remains." He glanced behind him. "Where's your Bride?"
After a hesitation, he explained everything, seeking the same unburdening he felt when he spoke with Myst. His brother's expression grew stark.
Long moments of silence passed before he said incredulously, "Wroth, you took away the free will of a creature that has had it for two thousand years. A good wager says she's going to want it back."
"No, you don't understand. She's callous. Incapable of love. It eats at me, her deception, because it's the only thing that makes sense." More to himself, he muttered, "Why else would she want me?"
Murdoch weakly grabbed Wroth's wrist. "For all these years I've seen you continually choose the best, most rational course, even if it's the most difficult. I've been proud to follow your leadership because you've acted with courage and always - always - with rationality. I never thought I would have to inform you that your reason and judgment have failed you, Nikolai. If she's as bad as you say then you have to...I don't know, just help her change, but you can't order this. Get back to her. Explain your fears to her."
"I don't think I can. You saw her, Murdoch. Why would she so quickly acquiesce?"
"Why don't you just ask her?"
Because I don't want to show her again how craven I've become with wanting her.
"And about the other men - this isn't the sixteen hundreds anymore," Murdoch said. "This isn't even the same plane. She's immortal, not an eighteen-year-old blushing bride straight from a convent. She can't change these things, so if you want her, you have to adjust."
Wroth ran a hand over his face and snapped, "When did you get so bloody understanding?"
Murdoch shrugged. "I had someone explain a few rules of the Lore to me and learned we can't apply our human expectations to the beings within it."
"Who told you this?" When he didn't answer, Wroth didn't press, not with all the secrets he'd been keeping. "Will you be all right?" he asked.
"That's the thing about being immortal. It'll always look worse than it is."
Wroth attempted a grin and failed.
"Good luck, Nikolai."
Outside of the room, he spoke with those watching over Murdoch and emphasized what would happen to them should his brother worsen, then contemplated tracing back. He was almost glad when Kristoff called a meeting about this newest threat, grateful for the time to cool off before he faced Myst again.
Kristoff didn't hesitate to ask, "Why didn't your wife tell you about the turned demons?"
"I don't know. I will ask her when I return." He wondered as well. Had she known? No, she'd been teaching him everything she knew - teaching him constantly.
Why would she do that if she only planned to leave him?
When he cringed, he realized Kristoff was still studying him.
"Something to add?"
He owed Kristoff his life and the life of his brothers. Three brothers and for Myst herself, he owed his king. He would withhold information on Myst's kind but relate the rest. "I've learned a good deal about the Lore from her and want to discuss it with you, but I left my wife feeling poorly. I'd like to get back to her."