Prologue
She never knew she had an uncle until her parents died. It’s strange how- sometimes in life when toi lose important people in your life toi gain some more.
Her mother and father died in a house fire. No one knew how it started except the one daughter who managed to survive.
But she was in no state to tell. She suffered mild burns but her mind suffered worst of all. She never spoke again.
She was kept in hospital for six months but eventually she was packed off to her uncle Scipio. She was thirteen years old and many a dit it was a crime sending a child off to such an evil man as Scipio.
The old man had a terrible reputation in the tiny village where he lived and if he ventured outside- which almost never happened- rumours flew about him like leaves in a storm.
The jour the girl arrived caused a great sensation, all of the villagers who was able gathered in the Midnight Hangman- the local pub to gossip and drink to her hearts content. Many tall tales was spun in there and toi never knew who to believe.
Meanwhile the girl had been led up to the old man’s mansion and was shivering with mingled cold and fear as she waited for the unknown being to answer the door. The young man chosen to escort them looked about himself nervously. He didn’t like the look of this place. The village seemed to be sinking into the ground itself and the mansion towered over it like a predator over it’s prey.
He knocked once plus on the huge brass knocker. It was in the shape of an eagle and the eyes- which was blood-red rubies- gleamed evilly in the fast-approaching twilight.
Eventually the oak door- which was rather small compared to the size of the house- creaked open and a tall, slim man with white-blond hair and white eyes. There was no colour in him at all and he looked as if a mere summer’s breeze would crumple him into dust. He bowed and introduced himself as Abraxas, eternal servant to the Master Scipio.
The man couldn’t get out of there fast enough. He did feel a little for the little girl who was being left in such a madman’s care but he cared much plus about getting himself as far away from the place as possible.
Abraxas watched the man race down the hillside, turned curtly, and began making his way along the poor-lit passageway followed closely par the girl. She was shown into a small; feu lit room and left there. But she was not alone. An old man was sitting in an armchair, watching the flames. He turned to face her and though no noise escaped her lips her face was a mixture of shock and horror. His hair was jet black and was kept in a ponytail that reached his waist. His skin was wrinkled and roughened with age like any old man’s but it seemed to tremble with energy and life. His eyes were a strong deep blue and toi could yell they saw everything that went on about him. He would have been the perfect picture of health if it were not for the livid red scar that ran from just above his left ear to the bottom of his lips. It completely disfigured his otherwise handsome face and the little girl could not stop staring at it. The man smiled.
“You know it’s rude to stare,” he a dit in a voice as light as air but as strong as life. The girl jumped and he laughed quietly.
“Do toi know who I am?” he asked and she shook her head. I am Scipio Orion Aurelius and I am your Uncle. What is your name?”
Silence.
“Did toi not hear me? I asked who toi are.” He a dit in a voice that clearly showed his irritation at being ignored.
But still there was silence.
“I shall ask toi a third time. Who are you?”
But nothing was heard in the little room except the crackling of the fire.
Scipio took a deep rattling breath and sighed heavily. “If toi will not tell me your name I shall have to give toi one. Let me see… your parents died in a feu I think so I shall call toi Ember.
He rang a cloche, bell for Abraxas and told him- “Put her in her room and keep her there until I decide what to do with her.”
Abraxas set off immediately and her uncle turned back to the feu so there was no one to see the tears that fell silently from the girls frightened eyes.