As we finally arrived down that long stretch of road at Blackfort, I was really surprised to see, as Nathaniel parked at the stairs, two grand lions with their mouths open and water coming out into pools which circulated in half-moons to the windows, were the focus point of the banisters. Grand wasn't the word for this place… and picturesque or exquisite was getting too plain. It was like something out of Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice, it was that extravagant. With a spring in his step, Nathaniel came round to my side and opened the door, this time actually offering me his hand. I hesitated to take it at first but he nodded his encouragement for me to take it and discreetly winked at me. I cringed, ready for another shock but to my surprise, there was only a slight tingle, much like pins and needles from sitting on your hand too long. Satisfied, I allowed him to pull me out of the vehicle before reluctantly letting go of my hand to retrieve my suitcase. The doors to the boarding house swung open and before I knew it, a petite pixie-like girl raced down the steps and threw her arms around Nathaniel. She was extraordinarily pretty and had such an energetic presence, ranging between sixteen or… seventeen like me. I hadn't even realised I'd been staring, but Nathaniel seemed to noticed and as he'd welcomed this girls hug, I felt a somewhat discomfort… as if I were imposing on two lovers who'd been apart for centuries. That was until he smiled toward me and introduced the cute girl to me.
"This is Alice Dawson, she's my younger sister. Alice, this is…"
Before I could gather the information Alice had thrown herself at me and embraced me too as though we were old friends.
"You're Chelsea-Raye; oh thank god you're here. I'm so excited to have another clairvoyant around."
I didn't know what to do… and even though Alice was hugging me really tightly I might add I was getting absolutely nothing from her. No thoughts, no aura, no live movie slideshows. She'd said 'other' clairvoyant; did that mean that she was one too? Nathaniel observed us both closely with a smile, and must have noticed my awkwardness, because he laughed.
"As you can probably tell, Alice doesn't do personal boundaries, so you're basically screwed there. She's much too forward and doesn't really care, unless of course she senses evil, which clearly you're not."
Evil, what the heck did he mean evil? I thought I was the only weird one in this world, but clearly (I took in Alice) this amazingly confident and sunshine energetic girl, dressed in a bright yellow sundress and had her beautiful honey blonde hair loose… were those daisies? She had daises on her head? She defies everything that I ever thought about being un-normal. Her sparkling green gems for eyes were so calming, that I couldn't help but smile at her.
"Thank you for the warm welcome, Alice."
Alice pulled away, but linked her arm through mine as she pulled me toward the steps, Nathaniel following with my suitcase.
"Oh I can't wait to show you around, and I hope we get to be roommates. I've never had a roommate before because people felt intimidated by me, but I can tell you're not intimidated by me, are you? Of course, I know you're probably frightened what with this being all shiny and new but I swear you'll love everything about it once you…"
Alice had spoken so fast, it was like she was on something, until Nathaniel chuckled behind us and spoke to her softly.
"Alice, please let the poor girl get inside. And for heaven's sake take a breath when you talk. You know what happens when you ramble like that."
As Alice went to snip at her brother, I took in my surroundings as we came into the miraculous, circular entrance. The floor swirled with clear, multi-coloured mosaic patterns leading to an angel lying in the centre, her arms were up to her chest, and as I followed the jewelled eyes upwards, I saw a dome-shaped roof with small stained-glass windows and hanging from it, a crystal chandelier glittering rainbow prisms around the entire hallway. It was otherworldly. The walls, they were just white and pillars were joined together by an arc to which held large white doors behind them. It was somewhat like the Greeks had inside their palaces. You wouldn't have guessed it was a Church prior to this, except for the angel statues and stained-glass windows. There was, however, a grand white marble staircase which was clearly the head of the entire room. Nathaniel stopped beside me and lowered my suitcase as he spoke, quietly.
"Many people who come inside have that very same reaction."
I turned to look at him and noticed he was just staring upward. I glanced up again too but this time something was different. The chandelier was literally turning slowly, allowing the prisms to dance and sparkle around us. My gaze travelled to Alice who was just twirling, letting the rainbows just glide over her hands as she closed her fingers around them… it was like some sort of elegant dance, so incredibly beautiful.
"It is rather incredible. I've never seen anything like it in my life."
Nathaniel leaned in a little closer to whisper in my ear.
"There's more to see too."
If it was anything like this, I couldn't wait to explore it all, except as I brought my attention back to Nathaniel, he had a somewhat teasing expression on his face.
"But that'll have to wait because, you need to settle into your room first and meet with Mr. Lancaster."
I let my shoulders slump forward and Alice stopped dancing then as she had heard her brother take the wind out of my sails. It appears the feeling was mutual between Alice and me.
"That old man needs to smile more, he is awfully dreary. Can't we just take Chels on a tour of the house first? My guess is she will definitely not want to tour after that particular meeting, infact she may just divert right back to…"
Nathaniel interrupted his sister again before she no doubt rambled on with herself again. To be quite honest I really enjoyed her rambling… it was as though she didn't have a stop switch. She was like a young child on a shit load of Red Bull!
"I'm afraid my dear sister that, be that as it may, Chelsea really needs to know the rules and regulations of this place, before doing anything else. You and I both know Mr. Lancaster is really particular when it comes to these things and if we disobey him… "
The way Nathaniel spoke my name, made it as though he was correcting Alice but she didn't seem to notice because she just wafted her hand in the air and came to my side as she took her hold on me yet again.
"Oh pish posh, look at her face, she's at risk of dying of boredom."
Alice then turned her eyes really sorrowful, but I had to hand it to Nathaniel, he didn't budge, much to my dismay.
"She's at risk of no such thing. Now, please go and alert him of our arrival and for heaven's sake please please mind your manners."
On the third 'please' I noticed Nathaniel close his eyes tight in exaggeration, but as much as she hated to and with a rather childish glare toward her brother, she merrily skipped off down a rather long, red-carpeted hallway which began just a little off the dome. I sighed as I laughed a little.
"Wow, you really have your hands full with that one, don't you?"
He gave me a rather distressed, but amused look as he gathered my case again.
"She certainly knows how to make me nervous, that's for sure. Shall I show you to your room before she comes back?"
Before I could reply, he'd already set off toward the stairs, so I ran to catch up with him. I was so certain I would most definitely come to love these two and we'd become close friends… or rather, hoped seemed more appropriate to use.