Walking into the foyer, Lionel gasped at the sight before him. Written in large, blood-red letters was the word “Ingrates”, across the balcony. And tied from the chandelier was a rope. But that was not was the boy was transfixed on. It was what was attached to it. His mother was dangling from the lamp, the rope tightly holding her by her neck. Visibly, there were several bruises that were blackening under her already purple skin. “Brat, you let dinner get cold.” His father approached him, slapping him in the face, knocking him off his feet. “I ate everything. Clean up this mess and go back to your room.” He grunted, storming back to the entrance of the house. Sighing to himself, Lionel went to grab a ladder. He needed to untie the rope from the chandelier, and also scrub the wall clean. Unsure of how to dispose of his mother’s body, Lionel decided that cremation would be the fastest way. Dragging the corpse to the fireplace, he carefully lifted it into the flames. “Goodnight, mom.” He whispered, walking away from her, one last time. As he continued to wipe the blood from the walls and floor, Lionel could not stop thinking about reading that note. However, he was still digesting the events of what was happening. His mother just killed herself, because she felt neglected by him. But was that really his fault? Shaking off any thoughts, he continued to mindlessly clean off any trace of what happened just now. After this, Lionel was going to read that note. He knew that if he did not prioritize what his father said, he would be in huge trouble. He did not want to even begin to know what terrors would await him should he defy his father.
Passing out on his bed, Lionel tried his best to drift off to sleep. “Sweetie, be sure to eat your vegetables.” He was sitting in the dining room, his mother standing before him, insisting that he finish the food she prepared for him. Looking around the dining room table, he noticed that there were settings for not just the three of them. There was a fourth set of silverware and food. “Mom, who is the extra plate for?” He questioned, knowing full well that this was not real. His mother was dead. He did not care, however. An answer from even a phantom from his dreams would be appreciated at this point. “That’s for Lacey, sweetie. You should call her down.” She suggested. “Lacey?!”He called, uncertain of what to expect. “I’m coming down right now!” A voice called back to them, as footsteps could be heard. “Sweetheart, your dinner is getting cold! Your brother has been waiting for quite a while now! He’s almost done!” Their mother chanted. “Okay, okay, I get it! I’m busy!” She shouted back. “Somebody has to clean up the house, right? I’m in the middle of sweeping up the hallway.” She was in charge of cleaning? The boy had assumed that it was always his mother who did that. “Mom, who does the chores in the house?” His mother gave him a puzzled look, but still gave him an explanation. “Sweetie, I do the cooking, and your sister handles cleaning the house. Your father and I take turns teaching you guys. I handle the geology and history of Regensberg, and he teaches you guys economics, mathematics, and literature.” She started. “You’re still too young, sweetie. I know you want to help Lacey with shores, but maybe when you’re older.” She smiled softly at him, before slowly fading away. “Mom, I’m here!” Turning around, Lionel frowned as he was met with an empty room. He never got to confirm what his sister looked like. Was this a dream, or was it a memory?
Sadly, Lionel’s vision did not last long. “Get up, you ungrateful brat. Now that that bitch Abertha is dead, you’re in charge of cooking me my meals and cleaning the house.” His father glared at him. The boy groggily got up, only for his father to grab him by the arm and forcibly drag him down to the kitchen. Throwing the boy into the room, he slammed the door and stormed off. Getting up, and massaging his pulled arm, Lionel decided to read the note first, before he forgot. “While the mansion may seem like the perfect home, there are many faults and secrets. He does not like how I have been rebelling. I think he wants to keep me silent. I might not be able to see your smile, and hear your laughter for much longer, Lionel. Our family harbors many dark secrets. But I found a way out. Hopefully, you will too. -Lacey”. A way out? Dark secrets? He could not even begin to think about what else his family was keeping from him, or where he could possibly run away to. Lacey escaped. But there was no way. Not with their father guarding the only exit to the building. Unless she escaped the same way their mother did. Shuddering to himself, he put away the note. The last thing he wanted for his father to find it. But at the same time, he could not bring himself to discard or dispose of them just yet. These were the only remnants he still had of his sister. He had to hold onto them, in honor of her memory and her clues to his escape. “Is breakfast ready yet?” His father burped. “Uh, I’m getting it started!” Lionel called back, frantically. “Hurry up! Your mother would have had it ready before I was even awake!” He growled. The boy began to frantically put anything together with the limited cooking experience he had; he could only make toast and milk. He knew that he was going to get beat for this. This was going to be the beginning of his new hell.
Staggering back to his bedroom, trying to ignore the stinging pain from the bruises and cuts that covered his entire body, Lionel had just one goal: safely hiding those notes. He did not think about how his father had just slapped, punched, kicked, and hit him throughout the day, and forced him to clean the house, prepare his meals, and handle all of the chores that his mother used to do. He was forced to shoulder this burden, because she was no longer there to do so. He expected this to happen. Lionel had known since a young age that should his mother pass away, he would be the one who had to take over her duties. Hell, or Fangnis, would have frozen over before his father even volunteered a second of his time to doing a single chore in this house. Hiding the papers inside of the floorboards, the boy quickly placed the board back over the hole as he heard a booming sound echoing in the hallway. His father was coming back up. “Brat, where did you hide your mother’s body?” He glared at him. “I cremated her in the fireplace.” The boy confessed. “Put out that fire. And put the ashes in this.” He threw a large metal urn at Lionel, who caught it before it hit him squarely in the chest. “Once you get the ashes into this, call for me. I’ll tell you where to put it.” He snorted, walking off. “And you better do it within the hour. Or else.” He stared at the boy angrily. “I don’t like having my time wasted. I have crystals to sell.” After putting out the fire, Lionel sighed to himself as he got ready to be blackened by the soot. Collecting freshly extinguished ashes was no easy task, but Lionel had only an hour to collect up all of the contents of the fireplace, whether or not they were once his mother, and put them into the urn. Trying to use the lid to scoop up the charcoal and not burn himself was a smart idea on paper, except that the metal would still get hot from the heat and create first degree burns and blisters on the boy’s hands. It was inevitable that he was going to continue bearing scars and wounds from this experience. He just had to bear with it.
“Alright. Don’t fall, brat.” Going through a door and down a flight of dimly lit wooden stairs later, Lionel and his father finally arrived in the basement of the manor. The walk was unnerving. Lionel was careful not to spill the ashes or drop the urn, especially knowing that if he made another mess, that would be another excuse for his father to beat him. The boy was also unfamiliar with their basement. This was where they mined their alexandrite. However, the only people allowed down here were his parents. “These are the catacombs.” He was referring to a dusty wooden door, bound with a large iron padlock.“You’re going to go inside, and place the urn inside of here. If you try to steal any of the alexandrite in here, I will make sure that you join your mother, you little ingrate.” He growled, undoing the lock and opening the door. “Go inside, brat.” Almost immediately after pushing the boy inside, Leon slammed the door shut and clicked the lock. “I’ll let you out once you put the urn away.” He fibbed, walking back upstairs. He could stand to leave the boy down there. Until he was hungry again, that is. In the mean time, the twerp could just wait in there. He hated that the brat had the same look that she had. He did not need to be reminded of her. She was going to be a distant memory, and hopefully, he would be too soon enough. All of these thieves, benefiting from his fortune. The alexandrite was the only thing he needed. Nothing else mattered. He was not going to have anyone else betray him. If you think that stealing the alexandrite was a smart idea, then you belonged with it. His daughter, his first wife, his second wife, and now his son, they could all rot down there together. They were not worthy of living under his roof anymore.