Chapter 1: The Marionette of Winter
Toris led you to a car that was parked out front and popping open the trunk he placed your things inside before re-shutting it and opening the backseat door for you, “Um, I-if you will?” he inquired as he waited for you to take a seat. Following his lead you took your seat in the car and buckled up as he closed the door and quickly scurried over to the driver’s side. After readjusting the mirrors he glanced back at you for a split-second before starting the car and pulling out of the lot to who knows where exactly your new life was.
Arriving in front of the mansion you couldn’t help but gape at the giant extent that fell before you in a gigantic mass of artistic prowess. The dark stone like bricks fell well with the hint of hickory wood and mountains of snow that blanketed the manor. Quickly, Toris stepped out from the driver’s seat and went to open the door for you, waiting patiently as you found your footing in the mounds of snow. Thanking him, you wandered a bit to take in the snow covered scenery that surrounded you while your Lithuanian chauffeur retrieved your bags from the trunk. “Um, this way please…” he spoke with a somber smile forced on his lips as he led you toward the entrance. As he unlocked the door you suddenly felt this odd sensation as if you were being watched and looking around you shot your attention upward towards a certain window just as the curtains appeared to flutter close as if someone were standing there mere seconds before.
As soon as you saw this thoughts of those ghost encounter shows started to play in your head, bringing silent fears to your subconscious. However you were snapped out of it when the click of the door being open caught your attention, bringing you back to where you were. “U-um…I’ll take these to where you’ll be staying, so if you’ll follow me?” he smiled lightly at you waiting for your approval. Nodding acknowledging you followed him into the large manor, but what you saw was far beyond just mindboggling. The ceilings were high and the staircases spiraled in a way that centered the room as other corridors opened up on either ends. This was truly a magnificent home to have the privilege of working in.
Toris walked you up one side of the stairs until you were both on the second floor. While walking you spotted a strange door that seemed blocked off from the rest of the hallway. The door was large, old and worn looking. You could clearly see what looked like an antique key hole beneath the knob. “…Umm…what’s that door?” you questioned still staring at the odd thing. Toris seeing what you were talking about suddenly seemed to have lost all color in his complexion as he paled at the sight of the abandoned door. “T-That? O-Oh, w-well it’s nothing to be concerned w-with…” he stated somewhat fearfully but continued, “O-Only Mr. W-Winter has the key to that room and n-no one’s allowed to even g-go near it…i-if you do you’ll be severely punished! S-so it’s best not t-to go near it, alright?” he begged rather than commented.
Seeing the fear and terror stricken in his eyes you couldn’t help but nod in understanding as he sighed some in relief and continued on his pursuit to transfer you to your new room. When you’d finally reached it you were once again amazed at how grand and spacious it was. You were just a maid, but they sure knew how to take of their rooms. It contained nothing more than a large queen size bed and an old worn antique armoire, but it was still quite nice to say the least. As Toris placed the bags near your armoire you spotted a [f/c] long skirted maid dress with a white apron to boot lying on your bed. Toris saw you eyeing the uniform and chuckled somewhat, “Mr. Winter likes for his staff to be dressed accordingly while under his roof.” You frowned some at the thought but was thankful that it wasn’t anything too showy like a French maid’s outfit or something.
Looking around your room a bit you saw what looked like something shiny off to the corner of the room and curious to what it was you made your way over to it. Getting a closer look you were shocked to see what looked like an old vintage key. Immediately thoughts of that old looking door started popping up in your head and quickly picking it up from the ground you quickly placed it in your pocket in case it was important. Toris was about to ask you what you were doing when a loud crash came from outside, startling the both of you.
“Где же это?! Где?!”
Toris immediately ran out your room and into the hallway just in time to have a smaller boy run behind him in fear, “E-Es nezinu! Es zvēru-man nebija ņemt to!!!” Another man made his way quickly behind Toris as he stared at the approaching man that was beyond angry at the moment. “W-What happened, what is wrong, s-sir?” Toris mumbled fearfully as the tall shadow towered over him and the other two who were cowering behind him. You peeked into the hallway from behind the cowering three and as soon as you did you immediately regretted it as the tall ghostly individual brought his icy stone cold glare away from the cowering trio and instead into your [e/c] orbs. “……….” No words were spoken as he went back to reprimanding the three in front of you, “Где же это?... ключ…” At this Toris eyes widened as if something came to mind, but quickly shaking it off he apologized to the threatening man before him, “Aš atsiprašau nežinau, seras...” He kept his head down and his eyes downcast while the one whom you were by now guessing was Mr. Winter just shot him a cold glare. And without another word he begrudgingly spun on his heel and sped off back down the hall and up the staircase.
Finally seeing Mr. Winter’s retreating form, the smaller boy who was shivering uncontrollably behind Toris finally took a breath, almost as if he were about to pass out if he didn’t while the other man with glasses merely straightened his tie and tried to regain his composure. “Vell that vas definitely a close call, vonder who could’ve taken it…” he pondered curiously all the while Toris continued to stare downcast at the floor, a look of shame and disappointment written in his eyes, “….I-I probably can guess who took it…” as soon as the words tumbled out his mouth the other two behind him jumped in fear. The shorter one stepping forward, a tremble still alit in his every breath, “Y-You know who took the key T-Toris?!” at this all the Lithuanian man did was nod absentmindedly. This time it was the smart one’s turn to speak, “Y-You do realize vhat’ll happen to you if Mr. Winter finds out don’t you?” he said sadly, almost as if he had a clue to who it could’ve been as well.
But all Toris did was nod sadly before shaking off the pressure of earlier’s scare, “Well, let’s put all that behind us and get back to work. Oh, but that’s right! I want to introduce you both to Miss [L/n].” he said leading them back to your room. You quickly stepped back just in time as they made their way over. Toris smiled to you as he waved to the other two, “Mis [L/n] these two are also servants to this household and will be working together with us. The smaller one in red is Raivis Galante and the one next to him is Eduard Von Bock.” He smiled gesturing to the two beside him. You nodded in approval as they went to greeting you as well then all three left to get back to doing what they were assigned to beforehand, but before you could close the door to get ready Toris turned back and called out to you,
You turned to look at him, “…j-..just call me _________...” you stated rather nonchalantly. Toris stared at you for a second before smiling in consideration, “Oh, alright Miss ________—” you mentally deadpanned, “—That man earlier who was shouting, he’s the head of this manor so please be careful when dealing with him and if possible try not to have to meet him…” he stated the last words rather nervously as he slunk his way back into the hallway to join the others. ‘What did he mean by that?’ you wondered a bit befuddled by his nervous behavior. But thinking back to when you’d made eye contact with that intimidating man from before brought all sorts of nerve-wracking shivers down your spine, so you quickly shut the door and went to get changed into the maid uniform.
XXXXXxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx----Crackling fire, twitch of a hand Time skip ----xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxXXXXX
You were in the middle of dusting around the portraits in the hallway when you felt a cold glare pierce you in the back, making your hair stand on end. You took a quick glance back to look behind you but as soon as turned to look you immediately went back to dusting, as you tried to ignore the grueling glare you were getting from a strange girl who was watching you intensely as you worked. She had long platinum blonde hair with a white bow tied atop it and was dressed in a nice dark blue dress with stripes here and there and a matching apron. As you continued to work all she did was glare, watching your every move. “Што ты зрабіў з ім?…” She spoke darkly yet quietly almost inaudible.
Looking back at her you gave her a questioning look, “…I’m sorry?” you asked not understanding what she said but that only seemed to make her angrier as she pinned you to the wall, a sharp and shiny object slowly pressing into your neck, “I said…WHAT DID YOU DO WITH IT?!!!”
Her sudden outburst sent shivers down your spine as you tried to push her away from you but immediately came to a halt as she pressed the knife deeper into your neck forcing blood to start bubbling along the edge of the blade from the inflicted wound. She looked as if she were near ready to finish you off if it had not been for the sudden dark shout of a demanding voice from behind her,
“Стоп, что вы делаете, Natalya!”
At the sound of the harsh voice from behind her Natalya quickly removed the knife from your throat and moved to the side, a look of disdain still present on her face, “Але, бацька яна…” The sound of an unexpected slap echoes in the air as a shiver once again travels down your spine. Looking up you see the after effects of a slap being laid across Natalya’s cheek as her head is turned and her hair is swirling in time with the impact of just how strong the force behind his hand was. Your [e/c] eyes only widen anxiously as you stare feebly at the scene before you.
“Вернитесь в свою комнату сейчас, Natalya…” he murmurs quietly yet commandingly, his cold icy blue orbs staring into her own twin pair. She bites at her bottom lip begrudgingly before nodding, “ды бацька…” she states and quickly sweeps past him and down stairs. You try your best to suppress the shivers that are now coursing through your spine as Mr. Winter slowly makes his way over to you. He stops only a foot away, his towering presence threatening to drown you in fear. For a while he doesn’t say anything and feel that he may just eat you alive if nothing is said soon. So sucking in a breath you gather all your courage and glance up at him “…u-um…I—”
Before you could even register what just happened you find yourself leaning against the wall for support of the impact of his swift hand on your cheek. You do your utmost best to suppress the tears that are threatening to spill but looking up at him you fail to muffle a whimper of fear as his dark icy glare seeps through your walls and wears down your will. “You are to speak when I say you are to speak.” An overwhelmingly strong Russian accent is present in his voice as he turns to leave, heading back to his office. All the while the only thing you could manage to think was…why?
XXXXXxxxxxxxxxxxxx----Peering Natalya from around corner Time skip ----xxxxxxxxxxxxxXXXXX
Back on your way to your room for the night you heard what sounded like Toris talking to someone from just beyond where all the servant’s rooms were.
“She took it. I know she did”
“The key! After all I went through to finally steal it away from Winter…Big Brother’s waiting for me-He NEEDS me!”
You snuck closer to where the voices where and listening in closer you quickly recognized who the other voice belonged to. “N-Natalya, please tell me you didn’t! M-Mr. Winter—I-If he were to find out then—” “—I don’t care! He’s the one who did this to Big Brother..! B-big brother…my beloved Big Brother is mine and only mine…” her voice bled venom as she stormed off, Toris not far behind. Quickly you hurried back to your room only to see it in a total mess. It looked like a tornado had gone through it and the most likely suspect to cross your mind could only be Natalya. Suddenly as if recalling past events you thought back to when you first came into the room and remembering about the key you’d found earlier you hesitantly pulled it out from your dress pocket and took it in as a whole.
It really did look quite old…old enough to unlock that mysterious door down the hall? However, thoughts of your first true encounter with Mr. Winter froze your blood and penetrated your bones. Were you really willing to face the consequences of what you were thinking?... Looking back at the key in your hand you pursed your lips in thought. Curiosity…was always a hard thing to argue against…
That night when you were absolutely sure that everyone had gone to bed was and was full on in the middle of dead sleep you snuck out of bed, your sleeping garments tugging at your every move as you tip-toed across the hall and towards the abandoned door. Listening carefully you made sure to keep in check of your surroundings and when you were absolutely sure that no one was around you pulled out the key and carefully stuck it in the keyhole. Slowly you turned it, the door magically opening allowing you access inside. Once in you made sure to reclose it behind you, however something felt off. For a locked away from, it was freezing inside. Yet you were surprised that your breath wasn’t visible from just how cold it was in that dark room. ‘Nothing out of the ordinary yet,’ you guessed and taking a step forward you were almost blindsided when suddenly a roaring fire started up in an old dusty looking fireplace.
You stared in awe at the warm golden glow it radiated off into the room, lighting it up in a dim warm setting. Taking a closer look around you saw that the room looked rather large, far bigger than the room you were staying in and that was saying something. The walls were covered in thick cobwebs and the cream color of the paint looked faded yet still kept much of its glorious detailed trimmings. The frozen windows were covered by long satin red curtains that drooped down to the hard wood floor and dusty faded ornamental rugs decorated large portions of the floor. To the side you could see what looked like a large king-size bed with tall posts and faded torn curtains to enclose it. Beside it was an armoire that looked like it hadn’t been open in decades and opposite it was a large desk and globe that was set in front of the crackling fireplace, a big desk chair behind it was turned towards the fire as the twinkling warm light dimmed on and off, a lighting the room with menacing looking shadows.
Besides the place looking like it was in need of nothing more than a major sprucing up you didn’t see what was so necessarily important to hide in here. “At least it’s warmer now…” you murmured slightly as you absently placed a soft hand onto the armrest of the desk chair to get a closer look at the fire, but as soon as you did you nearly passed out from freight at feeling a large hand resting atop the armrest. Jumping back you had to bite back the whimpers that were dying to leap out from your chest along with your rapidly beating heart. “W-W-Who-what?” you stuttered at a loss for words.
Looking back at the chair you could now plain as day see the large hand that was resting atop the armrest, but even with the sudden contact it didn’t move an inch. Swallowing your fear and pushing forth as much courage you could muster, you prepared yourself to come face to face with Mr. Winter. So cautiously you inched closer and slowly walked in front of the sitting figure, only to feel your cheeks sudden roam warm as your [e/c] eyes widened in utter surprise.
Sitting before you was not in any way Mr. Winter… but rather a tall young man dressed in what looked like an old formal Russian military uniform. His clothes were dusty and looked a little faded, but the medals on his chest were as shiny as ever. He wore faded white pants that were tucked neatly in his knee high black boots, and the red and gold of his cuffs were fairly dusty as well as a few cobwebs here and there, but they did well to match his white gloved hands. As your blush spread you took in the unusual fact that he was wearing a really long pinkish white scarf to cover the pale bliss that was his strong neck. When you’d finally managed to glance upwards to meet his face you could’ve sworn your heart near maybe of just burst from your chest and quickly avert your eyes.
He had such a forlorn look etched in his glassy amethyst eyes while the rest of his facial features read that of emotionless beneath the frame of his dusty beige tresses. The paleness of his cheeks were only alit by the light brush of a pink flush that seemed to come from deep within the porcelain of his cold flesh. As you continued to examine the solitary marionette that say before you, you unbeknownst to you lifted up a trembling hand, completely mesmerized by the pure depths of loneliness and sadness that rose from his amethyst orbs, and gently placed it on the side of his cheek. Tears clearly threatening to fall as you could feel the cry from deep within this puppet’s heart, the words slip from your lips before you even have a chance to catch them,
“……….Who are you…?”
~To be continued?!!~