Not long after the birthday party, Briana requested to try and read the letters that her parents kept. She was only able to read around half of each letter but all her parents seemed to care about were the names, which happened to be a part of what Briana was able to read.
"Benjamin Bynes and Jasmine Bynes?" Her mother said with surprise evident in her voice.
"THE Duke and Duchess?" Her father was equally surprised.
"No wonder the reward is so high."
"Who're they?" Briana could no longer hold back her curiosity.
"They're very close to the royal family, so they carry a lot of influence in politics. They actually came for the party too." Her father explained.
"You've met them, Briana. They're Austin's parents." Her mother clarified.
"Then... If we do execute this out... Won't Austin become an orphan?"
"But we'd get a lot of money." Her father said matter-of-factly.
"Also, don't forget that he isn't and will not be the only child made an orphan because of us. How we work will not change just because they're someone we know slightly more personally." Her mother reminded sternly.
Briana pursed her lips but nodded obediently. They then discussed if it was possible for them to carry out such a difficult job as if the morality of this job had been the only issue.
Eva hastily scribbled on the paper the few words that she knew Briana could read.
"They're important people! Dangerous! Don't kill!"
"What did she say?" Their father asked.
After Briana read it out, her father assured her. "We know that they're important people, that's why our plan this time must be perfect."
"Bad for them to die!"
"Why would it be bad for them to die?"
"They're money and power."
"Of course they are."
"If they die, bad for us, bad for everyone."
Her messages seemed to be going in circles, so her mother spoke up, feeling slightly exasperated, "Eva, you're not making any sense... You're too young to-"
Eva did not wait for her mother to finish when she started to circle parts of the letter that were important, but were parts that Briana did not know how to read. She then doodled a couple that she labelled as the duke and duchess next to another couple wearing crowns. She drew ships and even more people all around the paper, then drew arrows and money symbols to indicate the relationship between everyone and the couple. Her final message was the same. "They die, everything becomes messy."
"You can read the entire letter?" Her parents exclaimed at the same time.
Her parents looked astounded.
"Are you saying that the duke and duchess actually controls the economy as well?"
"Important." She tried to correct them. She does not believe that Austin's parents would monopolise the market but they were definitely impactful.
"Aren't they far too powerful then?"
"Now I see why there're people wishing for their deaths."
Her parents began talking like the person who sent them the letter. This was what Eva had feared. Her parents could not see that killing them would only bring about social unrest. She looked at Briana with pleading eyes but Briana simply shook her head.
"We're still too young to understand the world of adults. Even I'm still learning, what would you know?"
Over the days, while her parents continued to plan with Briana learning and supporting in the background, Eva only became a nuisance to them with her repeated disagreements.
In the end, her mother scolded her sternly. "Eva!"
Her mother then smiled tiredly. "I get that you're really concerned, but you'll understand when you're older. So, will you be a good girl already?"
/Will I really be unable to change anything...? I'm just as powerless as ever.../
BaoBao did not know what to say. He had already warned her.
Three months passed since the birthday party.
Austin had came to Esmeralda's estate twice already.
The first time he came, it was incredibly awkward because Esmeralda spent the entire time sulking. She had gotten more upset when Austin said that he was also only making his parents happy by coming over, then advised that she do the same. Austin sighed helplessly at her reaction, then suggested that she call over Dylan and Saddie from the next time on. This was when she finally understood that he had not meant accepting the engagement, but to learn to play along, so she became apologetic and accepted his suggestion.
It thus was clear to Austin that they handled matters very differently. Esmeralda was straightforward and honest to a fault, whereas he was careful and calculative.
The second time he came over, the atmosphere was much softer and more casual, thanks to Dylan's soft and easygoing nature and Saddie's frank and princess-like personality.
Eva's parents acted fast. They planned to assassinate his parents the next time Austin left Esmeralda's estate. They tipped off a group of bandits that they knew of, that there would be an easy target for them and indicated where they could find it. Her parents rigged Austin's carriage and placed traps where they told the bandits to wait at. Now that people have guns to protect them, they tended to overlook the danger of more old-school methods of attack, such as close-range weapons and traps. This made their parents confident that it would work out.
However, they did not expect that in their midst, an entity like BaoBao existed. They had planted the traps within BaoBao's scope. So, Eva had BaoBao trigger or deactivate the trap, whichever he deemed fit at the moment, before anyone arrived at the scene. It was an isolated place between Esmeralda's estate and someone else's estate. BaoBao materialised himself at the set up scene and carried out his job perfectly.
The bandits who were expecting an easy loot felt cheated.
Her parents who did not expect Austin's parents to make an appearance were shocked, but they quickly hid their expression, before sharing a knowing glance.
That night when they got home, her parents were clearly upset. They roughly ordered the children to stay home, while they executed their impromptu backup plan.
They found the bandits they had tipped off, appeased them, then led them to the Bynes' estate. The bandits were immediately intimidated by the identity of their targets, since they were not informed of it beforehand. Her parents quickly dealt with this by volunteering to break in first. They silently killed all the small fry, then signaled for the bandits to enter. The bandits went in without knowing that they were only brought in as a distraction for the stronger private bodyguards that the Bynes family had hired. Their intention was to create a commotion huge enough to cover up this incident as a mere house breaking. While the small group of bodyguards were busy with quelling the big group of bandits, they got taken out from the back. Soon, it was left with the Duke and Duchess.
Eva's parents went around the estate but could not locate the family of three. Since their house was built underground, they would not be surprised if there were hidden escape routes or hiding places built in the estate.
Just as they were about to inspect the walls, Benjamin and Jasmine silently appeared behind them, as if they had been a part of the shadows.
The both of them shot Eva's parents at the same time. A loud sound of metal being hit rang out.
"Don't stop shooting!" Benjamin yelled, while he continuously fired shots at Eva's father. His fast reflexes managed to catch Eva's father who had been momentarily jarred from the pain of the impact of the first bullet. However, Eva's father was no easy fry either. He had recovered fast enough to avoid the shot to the head, and only got shot in the leg and arm.
Jasmine had slightly better luck with her first bullet. She had not been prepared for the recoil of the gun, so she missed her intended target. Even so, the bullet that should be lodged in Eva's mother's chest, still hit Eva's mother in her shoulder. Eva's mother recovered faster and immediately ran towards Jasmine. Jasmine fired the remaining bullets at Eva's mother in panic, but none hit her.
Just before Eva's mother could cut Jasmine's throat, Benjamin kicked her hard enough in her stomach to throw her back. "Don't you touch a hair on her!" He growled, while drawing a sword out of its scabbard.
Eva's mother threw out daggers to accompany Eva's father dash towards Benjamin.
Benjamin stood in the path of the daggers and managed to deflect one. Before he could deflect the other, he clashed with Eva's father. So, the remaining dagger embedded itself into his stomach.
"Go!" Benjamin yelled at Jasmine.
Jasmine ran off with the understanding to get help from the outside.
However, as hard as Benjamin tried to hold Eva's parents off from chasing after her, Eva's parents overwhelmed him. Just as Jasmine reached the door, Eva's parents appeared on either side of her, like her grim reapers. She could not even let out a scream or cry before her throat was slit. They then decapitated the dead couple and bagged their heads to be used as evidence of their kill.
"Should we find and kill Austin? He's obviously hiding somewhere." Eva's mother whispered, while panting.
"Let's not waste our time with a small insignificant child. We still have those rats to deal with." Eva's father replied through gritted teeth. They had not come out of the final fight with Benjamin unscathed. So, he wanted to use their energy and time preciously.
Eva's parents killed the remaining bandits who had lowered their guards upon seeing them end the Jasmine's life. They then took anything that looked valuable in the house and from the dead couple's corpses before leaving.
Unbeknownst to them, Austin had witnessed everything they did to his father through a crack in the wall. They had been close enough for him to eavesdrop on their short conversation as well. He gingerly crawled out of his hiding place and all the way to his father's headless corpse. He stared at the corpse silently, his face pale with shock. Suddenly, he took off running in search of his mother, only to be greeted with her headless cold dead body, lying on the ground in a pool of blood, in front of the main door. His knees buckled and he collapsed to the floor.
After a long silence, he suddenly raised his hand to shake the cold body. "Mother, wake up. Mother? I'm scared. Please wake up." He repeatedly called out for her to wake up, tears slowly welling up in his eyes.
"Father! Father! Mother isn't waking up!" He called out frantically. "This won't do, I have to get you to Father." He started to drag the dead body with all the strength he could garner, leaving a trail of blood behind. He only stopped after he placed his mother's body beside his father's body.
"Father... Why aren't the both of you waking up...?" Austin slowly took a look around the house and reality slowly sunk in as he took in the sight of several dead bodies lying in pools of blood all around.
He shook his head in denial as tears started to flow out from his eyes. He dropped to his knees and started shaking the two corpses in front of him. "Please... The both of you can't leave me... Don't leave me!" Austin started wailing and crying his eyes out.
Back on the other side, Eva's parents hid most of the loot in a random house and threw the remainder into a deep river that was nearby. They quickly made their way to the estate of the single Marquess who was the one who requested for the assassination. They snuck into his room and threw the heads onto him. He woke up with a start and his scream was muffled by a hand placed over his mouth. Once he realised what was happening, he felt overjoyed. His wish had come true.
Seeing that they were rewarded handsomely as promised, her parents took the heads away and vanished. They made it home just in time to report to work. Although they were tired, in pain, and had to dress their wounds hastily and carelessly, they were satisfied.
Thick wads of cash laid on their table in front of them.
Eva looked at everything that was happening with a sullen expression. She knew the deed was done even though it had taken place out of BaoBao's scope. It was an amazing feat to have everything completed in one night when it was so far away too. Were her parents that skilled or was it simply fated for Austin's parents to die?