Blake stopped in front of her house.
“Wow,” Sun said. He swallowed and reached his hand up to touch the yellow warning tape crossed across the entrance at the bottom of the stairs. He pushed it down, standing on his tiptoes to look further down the blocked bath. “What happened here?”
“I don’t know,” Blake said. Her parents would never barricade their house like this. They always were available to anyone in Menagerie who might need them. Blake ripped the tape away and up the steps to the front door. “But I’m going to find out.”
“Stop!” A voice cried out.
Blake turned and saw two members dressed in White Fang garb jogging down the road to the house. Sun moved to a defensive position, but stayed at the ready instead of acting. The two caught their breath and straightened.
“Who are you two?” Sun asked.
Blake stayed on the stairs, aware of her weapon on her back.
“Corsac,” the one with the tail pointed to himself. He indicated his companion with tall fox ears and said, “and Fennec Albain. We are members of the White Fang. You are Miss Blake Belladonna, are you not?”
“Yes, but I have nothing to do with the White Fang,” Blake said. What were they doing at her parents’ house? “And I want nothing to do with you.”
“Be that as it may, please listen to us.” Corsac held his hand up, his tail swishing behind him. “Miss Belladonna, you do not want to go inside. There’s still an investigation going on and it is best to leave things as they are.”
“Perhaps we should go somewhere and sit down,” Fennec said. He folded his hands together, his ears falling back. “We had hoped to send you a message when we had more information, but perhaps it is fortuitous that you’ve come for a visit now so we may tell you in person.”
Blake felt something twist in her stomach. “Tell me what?”
“We really should go inside were you can sit down,” Corsac said. He reached out to put his hand on her arm, his tail curling near his body. “Please, come with us.”
“No, I came to see my parents and that’s what I’m going to do,” Blake said, smacking his hand away. She took a few fearful steps away, refusing to believe the pitying gaze aimed at her. Hurtful words and buried guilt disappeared in her panic as the bad feeling in her stomach grew. She turned and ran toward the door, ignoring Sun call after her. Blake threw open the door and yelled, “Mom! Dad!”
Blake felt a chill in the house, swallowing as she walked through the rooms. Everything looked as it did when she last left, but there was an empty feeling that clung to her steps.
She turned on a light in the next room, her eyes sweeping across the surface hoping to see her mother drinking a cup of tea or her father at his desk. Blake felt her breath pick up and picked up her pace as she regretted the large size of her house. She looked in every room, but she didn’t find them.
Not a trace of her parents existed aside from a set of clothes set out on the bed, waiting for their owner to come and change into them.
“Blake,” Sun said. His voice sounded thick in his throat and he clenched his hands into fists. Sun walked forward until he reached Blake, where he pulled her into a tight hug. He squeezed and whispered, “I’m so sorry, but you really need to listen to those two outside.”
He took her hand and led her back down the entrance stairs to the waiting White Fang members.
“Where are my parents?” Blake demanded. Corsac and Fennec shared a look that spoke a thousand unsaid words. Sun looked away and crossed his arms. Blake raised her voice. “Where are they?”
“It is out deepest regret to inform you that your parents have passed, Miss Belladonna,” Corsac said. He lowered his head and looked to the side, putting his hand over his mouth. “They were murdered two days ago.”
“No,” Blake said, shaking her head. “That’s not possible. My father is one of the strongest men I’ve ever met! How could anyone murder him?”
“When we find the culprits, we’ll have to make sure to ask,” Fennec said, his ears flicking. “As it stands now, we only know that he was poisoned while out at a restaurant eating. We are unsure of a motive and have no leads.”
“A horrible tragedy,” Corsac added.
“I don’t believe you,” Blake said, shaking her head. Her ears fell flat against her head and she felt her breath pick up. “That’s not true. This is Menagerie! It’s safe and peaceful! Everyone loves my father. Who would do this?”
“We do not know,” Corsac said.
Fennec finished, “But we assure you we will find out.”
“I need to see this for myself,” Blake said, her voice choking in her throat. “Where are they?”
“Their bodies are being held by the local authorities as they investigate,” Corsac said. “I’m sure they will grant you access.”
Blake sucked in a breath and walked the rest of the way down the stairs. “Come on, Sun.”
“Right behind you,” Sun said.
Corsac and Fennec watched Miss Belladonna and her scruffy companion walk back down the street toward the main part of the town.
“So that was Miss Belladonna,” Corsac said. He turned his head toward his brother and smiled under his breath. “She’s rather lovely.”
“Such a shame she as acquired his wrath,” Fennec said. He tilted his head to the side. “Shall we inform Brother Adam that the work has been completed?”
“Yes,” Corsac said. He turned and put the tape back up over the entrance of the empty mansion and dusted off his hands. “And afterwards, we’ll encourage the young mistress to return to the mainland. The sooner Brother Adam gets this subsection of revenge out of the way, the sooner he’ll turn his attention back to the White Fang.”
Fennec nodded. “After you, brother.”
Sun stayed along the back wall, his head down and his hands in fists.
Blake sobbed, raw and mouth open, wrapping her arms around herself as she fell to her knees. She rocked, leaning forward until her head rested against the leg of the exam bed.
“I didn’t get to tell them I’m sorry,” she said, soft and to herself. The tears poured down her face and her ears were so flat against her head they disappeared in her hair. Blake’s breath shuddered. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll be outside,” Sun whispered.
He shouldn’t be watching such a private moment.
Sun waited outside the room on a bench for another twenty minutes before Blake stumbled out and joined him.
“Hey,” he said. He put an arm around her shoulder and dragged her over. Blake rested her head on Sun’s shoulder and exhaled. Sun rubbed her arm. “Do you want to find a hotel or something to rest?”
Blake shook her head. “I’m going home.”
“Is that a good idea?” Sun asked. “The house’ll be so empty.”
“That’s why I need to go,” Blake said. She folded her hands in her lap and breathed out. Sun squeezed her closer, unable to comprehend what she could be feeling right now. “It’s my home, Sun.”
“If that’s what you want.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes more before Blake leaned away. Sun put his hands back in his lap and she sat up straighter, her shoulders square.
“I don’t understand, Sun,” she said. Her grief turned to confusion as she stared at the floor. “Who would do this? Everyone, and I mean everyone, adored my parents. No one would want to hurt them.”
“Sometimes people are just rotten.”
“But who’s that rotten?” Blake asked again. She clenched her hands into fists and gritted her teeth. “Even Adam respect—”
Blake cut herself off, sucking a harsh breath through her teeth. She shivered and her entire body froze.
Sun put his hand on hers. “Blake?”
“He said he’d destroy everything I loved,” Blake whispered. She put her hands over her mouth and leaned forward. Blake’s eyes were wide in terror. “He’s behind this. He has to be.”
“Why are we in Patch?” Hazel asked, stomping behind his bratty charge. The selfish, egotistical Faunus wasn’t exactly his idea of good company, but Salem had assigned the boy to him, so he had to stick with the brat. “There’s nothing out here.”
“On the contrary,” he said, stopping in front of a small house. He checked a note he’d scribbled on a small piece of paper with an address and turned over his shoulder. Adam shoved the paper in a pouch and grinned in self satisfaction. “I have unfinished business here.”
He put his hand on the hilt of his sword and walked toward the house, the tail of his coat swishing behind him.
Hazel crossed his arms and followed.
He had no intention of aiding the boy in his personal vendetta, but he would be there to drag him out of trouble if it took a turn for the worst.
Salem had plans and he was going to see them through.