The Lullaby of Treble Castle
The dungeons of Treble Castle were not inviting in the least. The hallway that led from the greeting hall going east divided split into two parts. One went to the Eastern Hallway where the bedrooms were, and the other to the stairwell leading into the dungeons. No one was supposed to travel that way except the damned spirits Achille claimed for his own, but Lucien marched in there anyway. Florence tried to stop him. Severin tried to stop him. Even Karoly tried to stop him. Lucien had somehow obtained Rachel's inherent stubbornness. He had it set in his mind that his old rival was going to start trouble.
The hallway was so dark after a while that even his candlestick yielded very little light. It was here that Lucien stopped walking. He knew he'd come far enough.
"Achille!" Lucien said. "If you can hear me, there is something we need to discuss!"
After a few moments of dead silence, a voice rang through the hall. "Why don't you wait for sunset and address me then?" Achille was more than annoyed. "The day belongs to you. I don't bother you when you try to rest, do I?"
Lucien waved his hand dismissively. "Skip it. I need to ask you about-"
"Karoly's punishment for indirectly being involved with messing with your dearly beloved?" Achille mused.
"How... how did you know?"
"I know you too well, Lucien." Achille chuckled. "I knew you wouldn't believe he took it upon himself to take his punishment of his own volition. Karoly knows the rules of the bonds of the curse, and he still went against it. He literally begged me to do my job." He did sound very happy or proud about the incident, surprising Lucien. He genuinely seemed impressed that Karoly even bothered. "The boy's not a bad human being overall, even if he's selfish most of the time."
"Who made you the judge of character?" Lucien asked. "That's not everything, Achille." He crossed his arms, still not intending on having a laugh with his nearly life-long rival. "I have one more question for you. Do you still consider me your enemy, perchance?"
Achille laughed even louder than before. "Oh... I get it. After this whole debacle, you want to buy a piece of safety from me and my hoarde of shadowlings, right?"
"...to put it bluntly, yes."
"You're a horrible comedian, Lucien," Achille's manner snapped back to his serious side. "This is very unlike you. To answer your question honestly, no, you are not my personal enemy any longer. I hold no grudge against you or your co-workers. However, if a mortal is left in my territory, then I will not hesitate to claim it. Your best bet is to keep your adorable catch in her cage to ensure her safety. I hear young girls do so love to explore. Especially in moonlight."
"So you will not cut a deal with me at all? The punisher has changed." Lucien grinned. "Fine, I'll leave you be." He started out the way he came. "Au revior, Achille."
Lucien turned around. "Yes?"
"My little ones are starving, as am I. We've not fed upon our favorite meal in years." Achille began, trying to bring out the mock drama as far as possible.
"Neither have I, get to the point," Lucien grunted.
"Catch us some food, and we will not need to eat from your cupboard."
"Now wait just a min-"
"You wanted a deal, didn't you?"
Lucien shook his head. "Give me time to think on it, at least."
"No. You want to save yours, so what are the others who wander in at random?"
"...fine. All others who enter our castle from now until the end of time are yours, but the four ladies who live here now are no longer to be your prey."
Achille laughed yet again. "Will you sign a contract on that deal, Lucien?"
He nodded. "I will."
"You know what happens to those who break a contract within the walls of Treble Castle, do you not?"
Lucien winced, but he nodded again. "I would never do anything to put my beloved in your hands. I know your idea of a good time and it fightens me."
"As it should." A glowing piece of parchment floated down from the ceiling, along with a quill. "Sign the contract, sir knight. Make certain you agree to all terms."
Lucien snatched the paper into his hands and read it to himself. "We catch you food, and you won't chase ours. Yes, that was the agreement. Wait a minute! You can't just expect me to not tell the others about this deal. It says here I'm not allowed to tell anyone at all about this contract? That's impossible!"
"Oh no. They aren't here, so this deal is between you and me. Lucien, my friend, you know I so hate deals without any sense of fun, right?"
Lucien picked up the quill and signed his name on it. "I accept. I will do anything for my beloved. Even sentence newcoming souls to your will." Suddenly, the parchment piece glowed even brighter, and then his wrist began to burn. "What? The rules are... changing?!"
Achille couldn't be seen at that moment, but Lucien knew how big his smile was. He could feel it. "Oh, my. You're running low, now. Replenish your life force before you evaporate."
"You... tricked me!"
"What?" Achille asked in disbelief. "Have you never signed a contract here? These are not just legally binding and require you to be at your most honorable at all times, but they change the rules of everything. How do you think the rules got to how they are, if someone hadn't cut a deal with me before, hmm? Why do you think I only come out at night in the first place? Why don't you ask your brother about how that came to pass?" Achille finally walked into the dim light, showing himself to Lucien for the first time in what must have been at least a hundred and fifty years. He had bright blonde hair that fell about his face, but the rest flowed down past his ankles and dragged onto the floor. He wore vibrant purple robes and a cape cut to fit around his very thin frame. He looked like he was royalty before he was afflicted with the queen's curse. "You were going to need to feed sooner or later anyway. If you don't, this castle will devour you. You can't tell me that you want to die. I don't think so, Lucien! Lucien has fed before. Then the subject killed herself the very next day. I'm afraid you don't know how to feed yourself without frightening the hell out of your food, Lucien. Truly, it is a pity."
"Achille... what are you...?"
"You want to keep her forever, but your're slowly fading away. My friend, the answer is simple. Seduce your beautiful little princess. Your previous feeding was bloody and violent. Not even your brother has had that much difficulty enjoying his dinner before, you know."
Lucien turned away in total disgust. "I would never. I won't take her life force so I can keep on living."
"Maybe not, but she will regenerate her energy. This is something mortals typically do. Perhaps, because you love her so, you will be able to partake much easier, hmm? Maybe she'll even give it to you willingly. Achille shrugged, putting his hand on Lucien's shoulder. "If I were you, I'd not wait. Signing that contract put you in a very bad state. Look at you, you're turning pale. Paler than usual. Oh, empaths lead such hard lives." Achille then walked past him and faded into the shadows. "She loves you. I would not waste the fact, Lucien. I'd hate to see you die over something so trivial as fasting. You are, after all, the only rival I've ever had that's actually measured up to me."