The trip had been long. First an hour or so in a plane and then more travelling
in a car. Well, technically it was a limousine, though a small one. She knew they were up north
but she didn’t know how far… and she wasn’t sure if this was still Finland or if they were in
Sweden already. She was sitting on the back seat, looking outside and turning her attention to
Null every once in a while. He’d sat still the whole ride his eyes fixed on the scenery outside.
To him everything moved backwards as his back was to the driver, his elbow was on the window sill
and his hand under his chin supporting his head. Sebille wasn’t exactly sure if he was actually
looking outside or dreaming his eyes open. He hadn’t said a word since they’d gotten on the car.
It was almost dark now, only the last rays of sunlight lingered in the horizon that came visible
at times. The roads had started getting smaller and smaller and there were more and more trees.
She had to question herself. Had it been wise leaving the security of the house with a killer? She
didn’t think of him as one, but everyone else, including Null, did. She hated herself for letting
such thoughts get to her. She knew he wouldn’t harm her, he had no reason to. But still… at times
such thoughts surfaced.
There weren’t any street lights to be seen anywhere anymore. The current road was narrow and badly
taken care of. The car had slowed down on the icy road. It had gotten dark all of a sudden and
she turned to look at Null. He still hadn’t moved. She could still see him in the dim light from
the ceiling but she couldn’t see his expression. The beginning of the car trip had gone nicely,
she’d enjoyed looking at the scenery and guessing where they were, but now all she could see was
the dark woods. It was depressing in a way.
She turned back to look out of the window. Dull. It was dull until she finally saw something
different. There was a huge stone wall in front and a large iron gate lit beautifully with lights
from below. The car stopped right in front of the gate, Null opened the door and stepped outside.
Sebille leaned on her left hand and moved her weight on it. From the open door she saw the tall
man walk to the gate and press something onto a device with a camera on top. The cold air started
getting into the car and she sat back upright to pull her coat around her shoulders. As Null
came back in and closed the door, she wondered what the place was. “I’m suspecting we’re almost
were we were going?” she said, breaking the many hour silence at last. His silver eyes turned
to her “Yes.”
The car moved again. She had not been expecting the scenery change so much after passing the
gate. Sebille gasped at the sight. The courtyard was huge! It seemed like a garden actually, but
not the kind that was full of flowers in the summer. No, even though it was winter and the snow
covered the ground, you could see what the place looked like in the summer. The whole garden was
evergreen, full of coniferous trees and plants. The newer bushes and trees were planted in a much
planned manner, leaving paths open for walking, while the older spruces grew high towards the sky.
The most remarkable feature of the place was the lights, though. They were placed on the ground,
just like at the gate and they lit the trees from below. Most paths had been cleared of snow,
which made her wonder who it was that actually lived here. “This place is amazing.” She said
and glanced at Null, who was now looking at her. “It should be…” He replied mysteriously.
The young model didn’t have time to ask him what he had meant since her eyes caught something else.
The house… it was humongous. No, actually it wasn’t a house at all; it was a mansion! She’d have
classified it as a castle if it had towers, it was just that big. It was made of dark red and
brown bricks and had the kind of entrance you would see in the movies. The kind of entrance that
was suitable for a place that held an elegant ball for Royals. The car curved to the front entrance
and she could just imagine a huge hall behind the door lit by hundreds of chandeliers.
Sebille thought it was a luxury hotel for the rich that wanted to relax in the countryside. What
else could it be? The car stopped and Null grabbed her luggage. She only had one bag, though, since
he had said she’d only need clothes. Not that she’d taken just clothes, but she had tried to keep
the amount of stuff minimal. What had puzzled Sebille was that Null, himself, hadn’t taken much
of anything with him, just one small bag that wasn’t even full.
He opened the door and stepped out. Sebille was about to do the same but the driver was faster and
had already opened the door for her. She stepped out as elegantly as she possibly could. This was
exactly the kind of setting where, in her mind, it was required. She stood still for a while, taking
in the breathtaking scenery: the path coiling around like a snake between the green plants and trees,
and the lights strategically placed just so that they lit exactly the right amount of area. It was
truly beautiful and even though Sebille seemed like a vain, shallow girl with expensive taste in
shoes, she knew when to appreciate something like this as well. She sighed and turned to her tall
Null had politely waited for her, which wasn’t like him at all. She joined him and they walked up
the cleared stone steps together. She was semi-expecting someone in a red suit with two rows of golden
buttons to open the door for them, but nothing happened when they approached it. She was even a bit
disappointed when she saw Null reach for the handle and open it. He held it open and she stepped in.
The hallway was dimly lit (by chandeliers, though) and the walls were made of dark wood. He stepped
in behind her and closed the door while Sebille was squinting to see what was at the end of the hall.
It wasn’t very long but the lighting was bad. She heard Null taking off his coat behind her, so she
did the same and hung it next to his. And just as her fingers had left her coat, she heard footsteps
from the end of the hall. Null walked towards them as silently as he always did, and Sebille followed
–not so silently. As they reached the end of the hall a new light was lit.
An old man in an old fashioned suit was standing in the room. The room was a little what she had been
expecting and a little more what she hadn’t. Null nodded to the man and spoke: “The security system
needs an upgrade.” The man bowed to him and then spoke in a quiet but a gentle voice: “I am pleased
to see the young master again.” Then, he turned to Sebille who didn’t really know what to expect, and
continued; “I wasn’t informed that you would have company, sir. I didn’t realize to get a guest room
ready.” He bowed to her as well and all that Sebille could manage was a flustered smile and a small
curtsy. “There’s no need.” Replied Null and looked around the spacious room a little absent-mindedly.
“The young lady isn’t staying?” “She is.” Sebille answered in Null’s place and glanced at him. “Oh!”
The old man seemed slightly astounded, “Then, I believe an introduction is in order. I am Sebastian,
a lifelong butler of this household.” Sebille blinked. It was so cliché, and it was true. “Sebille.”
She managed and curtsied again. Sebastian smiled but she couldn’t really make out the rest of his
expression. Null turned back to the old butler and asked “Everything in order here?” “Yes, master.”
Sebille looked around the vast room. It was only partially lit and every piece of furniture seemed
rather expensive -but not in the tacky way. The room was really… earthy, so to say. She liked it.
There were two new hallways on each side of the room and one wide staircase leading upstairs. Sebille
walked to the middle of the room looking up at the ceiling and the walls. “You own this hou— mansion?”
Null glanced at her and practically grunted; “Mhh.” Sebastian looked at Null questioningly. “She’s a
guest.” He said and walked towards the other hallway, leaving Sebille’s bag on the floor. Sebastian
then turned to her and asked if there was something he could do for her. “I’d love a bath… or a shower
if that isn’t possible…?” “I will get a bath ready then, miss. I will return when it’s ready.” He
started towards the stairs and Null’s voice echoed from the dark hallway; “The second bedroom.” The
butler stopped to bow, although it was clear that Null couldn’t see him, and continued up the stairs.
Sebille was left in the enormous room all by herself. She was still in disbelief. The place was huge
and Null owned it. And he had a butler. She just couldn't get over that fact.