82 The Doctor“s Second Chance*
"Doctor Sagen Zaroth, your inability to carry out the task given to you has resulted in a devastating blow to your benefactors. As a result, you are hereby removed from your position until further notice. You will be escorted to a holding facility where you will be detained for the time being. You are dismissed".
The words echoed in and around Zaroth, but he couldn't seem to bring himself to acknowledge them. No. He was Cornelius Kildare's most trusted man in research and development. He couldn't possibly have been condemned like this. But why else would he have heard those words?
Zaroth was escorted out of the estate just as the Duke had proclaimed, and then taken away in a carriage far less auspicious that the one he had arrived in. He had no idea what part of the city he was taken to. He was too stuck in his thoughts, wondering where he truly went wrong, to think of anything else. He had been nothing but loyal to the Duke. And prior to this, the Duke had always allowed him to have his own side projects before. Now that he'd presented the results of one of his successful ones, he was cast aside? That just...it wasn't right.
The carriage stopped, and the door opened. A guard roughly pulled Zaroth down from the carriage.
"Come on," he gruffly spoke.
Zaroth had no words of protest as he was dragged from the carriage. Well, to be more accurate he had plenty of protest, he just didn't know how to put it into words. The guard dragged him inside a small guard house and deposited him into one of the cells inside. From the brief glimpse he had gotten of the outside, and Zaroth's limited knowledge of Fountain Ridge's topography, he guessed he was somewhere beneath the cliff to the North-West of the city that the Kildare Estate was situated on. Still, Zaroth was no fighter, so that information didn't exactly help him.
The day passed by and Zaroth paced the cell, determined to think of a reason that the Duke would have to take him back. It was well into the evening when the guards were in the middle of their meal that Zaroth was visited, though not at all by who he expected.
The child spy. He may have been a couple of years older, and his hair now shaved on the sides where before it had been long and messy, but it was certainly the boy that Zaroth had been informed was dead.
"You're dead," Zaroth stated.
Aegin rolled his eyes, and turned as another man joined him from the shadows of the hall, this one older, and all too familiar to Zaroth as well. Though the last time Zaroth had seen this man, Zaroth had been feeding his lover Voluton Fruit and delighting in the results.
"Phillip Kildare," Zaroth said in shock.
"Just Phillip," the man replied, his face no longer youthful as it had been before, "I'm not much for arrogant, lying, pompous bastards".
Zaroth frowned, "So he is your son? I did wonder when Cornelius mentioned his familial relation to the boy".
"Where is my son, Zaroth?" asked Phillip.
"Jerrica," Zaroth replied, "Where he will stay until his last day".
Phillip looked at Aegin, "Make the preparations".
"You can't seriously think that you can break him out?" Zaroth asked, "Not only is he in the most heavily guarded prison on the continent, he is the property of the Kildares. Nobody goes against them".
"I did," Phillip stated.
"And look where that got you," Zaroth snapped back.
"It got me a family, which is more than I can say for the rest of them," Phillip replied, "And now, their interference has taken that family from me, and I will not stand by and continue to allow my son to be tortured and used like an animal. Worse than an animal".
"Just say it, Phillip, you know what he is," Zaroth stated, "He is a monster".
Phillip's eyes narrowed, "From what I hear, you're the monster".
Suddenly, Zaroth was pulled against the bars, a dagger at his throat, "I should kill you now for what you've done to him".
"Then do it...why do you...hesitate?" Zaroth managed as his breathing became staggered through his fear.
For a moment, looking into Phillip's eyes, Zaroth was convinced he had pushed the man over the edge. Then Phillip released Zaroth, and the Doctor dropped to the ground.
"First, because you deserve so much worse," Phillip said, "And second...it's not my right to kill you. That belongs with my son. And I guarantee he'll do a lot worse than just kill you".
Phillip hid his dagger once more as he turned to leave, "Savour the moments you have, Zaroth, I doubt there are many of them left".
When Zaroth looked up, Phillip and Aegin were both gone. Zaroth glared at the space they had once occupied, then placed a hand on the bars as he got up. He turned, nursing his throat, then, as he dropped his hand to his side once more, his hand brushed his coat, and Zaroth felt the small, hard, cylindrical vial that he'd kept by his side for emergencies.
Zaroth froze, then dipped his hand into his inside pocket, and retrieved the vial, revealing the dark blood within. The only blood he had left out of all that he had managed to withdraw from Rassa. He'd kept it secret that he still had some, even kept it out of his own notes so that no one knew the power that he still had. After all, anyone who wanted to replicate Zaroth's experiments would have to retrieve the power to do so from a being who would likely kill them before they got the chance.
Zaroth took a long hard look at the vile as Cornelius' decree echoed in his mind. As Phillip's sentence echoed in his mind.
"I am not incompetent. I will not die for achieving such astounding results in my research. I deserve to be acknowledged. And so I shall be".
Zaroth popped the cork out of the end of the vial, then upended it into his mouth, swallowing the contents whole.
He was shocked by how it tasted. It was sweet. like his favourite honey cakes. No, it tasted exactly like his favourite honey cakes. How strange. But Zaroth would not have much time to think about how strange it was that Rassa's blood tasted like his favourite thing to eat. As soon as the blood was absorbed into his system, Zaroth collapsed in seizing fits, and frothing at the mouth, his world turned black...or should it be red? And all that was left was desperate, undying hunger.