The Treasures of Madelia
By Chloe A.B. Taylor
Her gown flowed like a river bathed in moonlight behind her, floating just millimetres above the deep, rich cherry carpet beneath her white silk shoes that tiptoed along the floor willing her to reach the end of the hall before their time. Gwen watched her cousin glide along the isle between the cream velvet chairs and envied her angel-like figure, but at the same time she adored and loved her as any cousin should. She sat in her new dress, which had been bought three months in advance, it was a deep rich turquoise, knee length halter neck, that shimmered in the light and beneath the hem of the dress protruded a delicate line of black lace and thin netting that seemed to make the dress float when she walked, there in making Gwen look like she was floating.
Gwen, now 17 years of age had shoulder length mahogany brown hair, bright leaf green eyes and a strong sense of adventure, the apple of her mother's eye. Five years ago she had informed her mother that she no longer wanted to hear tales of fairies, princes and evil magicians as she felt that she had grown too old for them. But it was at Gwen's age that her mother discovered that some things we consider to be make believe are actually more real than could possibly be conceived; Gwen's mothers name is Haylie McDowell and since she was very little Haylie had told Gwen all about her great adventures in a far away land called, Lardinia.
"Mum!" Gwen had sighed, "I don't believe in fairy land anymore, all those things they're just made up in your stories."
"You used to love those stories, we used to plan trips to Lardinia together, we used to rein-act my adventures in the back garden." Haylie had replied, reminiscing about their past years.
"Used to, yes mum we used to but I'm too old to play anymore and your adventures are just stories, nothing more nothing less than fiction." Gwen had yelled back at her mother. After their row relations between mother and daughter had grown slightly chilly, no love was lost but they seemed to talk less and less each week, so when her cousin Emma's wedding was announced the occasion had given the pair something to talk about. Then of course there was present buying and dress shopping, Haylie had chosen a mauve, knee length skirt with gold silk trim and gold embroidered flowers arranged at the bottom of the garment, the skirt had a matching bolero, also embroidered with gold flowers and silk trim.
The wedding was being held in a grand old hall called Larden Gate Hall, and Gwen did all she could to prevent the idea that the name sounded rather familiar or at least similar to one her mother had used in her stories. Haylie, her husband Richard McDowell and their two daughters, Gwen and her younger sister Beth had been invited to the ceremony and the reception and to stay as guests at the hall with their cousin and her new husband. After the beautiful ceremony had concluded, the guests and the newly weds moved off into the west wing of the hall where tables and chairs had been assembled in a grand dining room, next to it another room had been prepared as a bar and a buffet lunch had been assembled, and on the other side of the dining room a further room had been fitted out as a ball room with flashing lights, glitter ball, DJ and wooden dance floor.
During the after party Gwen seemed to attract the attention of a young boy who had also been invited to the wedding, he was about her age and had coal black hair that fell this way and that over his sculpted face, his grey eyes almost never left her throughout the entire evening and when she retired to her room she was sure he had followed her part way and then changed his coarse. Gwen changed out of her gown, into a pair of cool blue jeans, a white tank top and she threw on an old checkered shirt just incase she felt chilly later on. No one at the party seemed to know the strange boy, and all she could discover was that his name was Blane, and he was also staying the night at the hall with the other honored guests.
The moment her trainered foot left the bottom of the grand spiral staircase she could feel his piercing eyes staring at her from some dark corner of the stairwell, she decided it may be rather productive if she took a speedy walk through the hall's many walled gardens, and with a little luck she might just loose her persistent pursuer. Gwen walked briskly from the back of the house to the gardens, all the while she felt as though some one was watching her. The walled gardens were beautiful, even in the dim light of the crescent moon, the garden seemed transformed by the moons mysterious and magical light, the flowers, though not their usual vibrant colors, were now varying shades of silver and ebony dancing in the evening breeze. Suddenly Gwen noticed a dark shadow dart around the next corner into a garden enclosed by tall, thick box hedging.
"Who's there? Blane if that's you, would you leave me alone because ignoring you all night obviously isn't a clear enough hint for you"
Gwen did not want to be found out here, she preferred her own company far better then unwanted company. However, she wanted to reveal who the shadow belonged to so she followed its path into the next garden. This garden, unlike the others, had no flowers or borders around its edges only a single stone well at its centre. The walls of the well were lined with a thick barrage of moss and mud, this part of the garden was clearly not as loved as the rest but something about the well seemed to stir something inside of Gwen. Perhaps it was her sense of adventure that led to the events that followed. Maybe it was her newfound disbelief in her mother's fictions or was it good old fashioned fate that drew her to the edge of the well?
Gwen leaned on the side of the mossy well and peered over the edge, as she did so she noticed a hazy blue light emanating form somewhere deep within the waters of the well. The light grew brighter and Gwen could only assume that she had triggered a sensor and activated a light on the wall of the well, she leaned further over to find the source of the light, she leaned further and further until she had only one foot left on the grassy floor behind her. Suddenly there were hands on her back. Small firm hands that pushed hard into the base of her back. Suddenly she was falling head first into the well, she managed to draw in a last minute breath before hitting the still surface with a loud splash and sinking several feet under the icy water. The source-less light quickly engulfed her and she tried to kick rapidly to the surface to escape from it, but it was too little too late.