While they had taken a few days to recover, unable to move from their beds, Alice had taken up the responsibility in fortifying the castle against any future dangers. It was hard for the two brothers to make sense of this drastic change in their sister. Anyone else would have thought that perhaps Alice had been swept away and this changeling had been placed in place of her. The only explanation that remotely made sense was her own. Did Alice really recall her past life? Did their fifteen-year-old sister really kill three men and adapted so quickly?
When Alex had gone with his father to deal with the bandits near their castle, he wasn’t able to sleep properly for a few days after witnessing a corpse. It wasn’t that he felt sorry for them but a dead person’s face just reminds you that death exists and he couldn’t take the thought out of his head for a long time. Of course he had known that death exists, but had never seen it before. Perhaps Alice indeed was made of harder mettle than both of them put together.
But seeing Alice, not even a little bit shocked, no matter how tough she was, disturbed both brothers. The story about her past life had left them confused. But they also got the sense that she hadn’t told them the full story, perhaps thinking they wouldn’t be able to handle it.
“I don’t think I can ever forget the face she made as she did it,” said Aaron, with something like fear in his eyes.
“What face?” asked Alex.
Aaron looked at him. “I don’t know,” he said, “She looked so calm, and she looked frightening. It was disturbing.”
Alex leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees, then hissed as his wound hurt. He stretched back a little. Aaron handed him a cushion. Alex put the cushion on his thigh and placed his elbows there, deep in thought.
“Just because she ‘thinks’ she has killed before,” said Alex, “Can she really kill like that?”
“What?” asked Aaron, confused.
“I mean, I have killed before too,” said Alex, “I have fought bandits and robbers and… some died. But the moments were always a blur. The way she did it, with calculated movements, slicing the same area…” He looked at Aaron, who still looked bewildered.
“What I am saying is, this knowledge about arteries and where to slice them to make it fatal,” said Alex, “And she did it all with a hairpin. The quickness in thought and planning, despite the situation. I am unable to understand it. She seems to be too meticulous in killing somebody, all of a sudden.”
Alex’s face was gloomy. Aaron was breathing fast. It didn’t make sense. A woman accidentally killing someone in self-defense was understandable. But what Alice did was too meticulous as though she already knew what to do, instead of fighting in the desperate moment to save herself. It had not seemed like a desperate move but a calculated one.
“What should we do?” asked Aaron, completely out of ideas.
Alex was silent for a while. “Let it be for now, I think” he said, “Let’s stick to Alice’s description that she wrote in the letter. That we managed to put our strength together and overpower the robbers.”
“But Alice,” said Aaron, with something like fear in his words, “What if she becomes stranger than she is now? What if she never goes back to normal?”
They either had to believe Alice about her past life, or she had some illness that was making her delusional. Except, she wasn’t delusional and she had saved their lives.
“Let’s wait and see,” said Alex, “Many things are unclear right now. We need time, she needs time as well. If this past life story is true, she will gain more memories and we can talk with her. We will figure out what to do then.”
Aaron nodded. He was relieved by Alex’s words. Aaron was well-read in theory but practicalities stumped him. When he was greeted with a dilemma to solve in real life, he became flustered. Alex, being eldest, took the responsibility and tried to appear calm and rational, for both their sakes. He was uncertain about his decision himself, but wasn’t prepared to show it to his brother in case it made him panic more.
The next day, Alice disappeared from Wishburn Castle. Even Amy, Alice’s maid, did not recall her going anywhere outside her room. The guards had searched the whole castle and had been unable to find her. The guards positioned at the gates hadn’t seen her pass that way. Aaron led the small group of soldiers in search of her throughout the estate. She was nowhere to be found. Except the four bodies of men they found near a small road from East Boulevard to the Green Apple Forest, their efforts of finding her turned out to be futile.