Chapter 1: Chapter 1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 366

The last rays of daylight struggled in through the grime and dust covering a small round window while darkness crouched in the corners, silently invading the dim light in the center of the room.
As darkness and light fought for space in the dusty attic he sat in an ancient high back chair pushed into the deepest corner taking darkness's side. 
He was waiting.
Waiting for the darkness to win the battle and cover the land like a scared child would cover themselves with a blanket. The darkness was his protection and his only friend. He was rogue and a loner, and he liked nothing better. Of course being a rogue had it's drawbacks, like having to hide each day and not staying longer than a couple days in each place. It was better than being dead all in all.  Usually, He could come and go as he pleased, as long as he stayed below the radar, until recently. He was being hunted.
But within the confines of this space, he felt almost comfortable and considered staying for a while.
  He didn't think anyone knew this place existed. All the occupants long dead and any family still lingering in the area would be a fool to try and take up residence, not that he thought that was likely.
 Cole was deep in the swamps and had traveled for weeks. Sleeping in any hole during the day he could find before he stumbled upon the place. It was built out of huge stone blocks and resembled some of the castles he had seen in the Scotland countryside but on a smaller scale.
 The small mansion sat atop a hill, the only dry spot within a hundred miles in any given direction and was surrounded by large cypress trees dressed elegantly with Spanish moss. Badly weathered gravestones dotted the ground behind the house and lead him to believe most of the occupants died long before this century.
The mansion was nothing more than a fancy, yet, outdated tomb, suspended in time by some unknown event. When Cole had first walked into the place the stench of old death and decay assaulted his nose like a battering ram and he had thought about turning around and going back out the same way he'd come in, but something drew him in. Some feeling of homecoming, of belonging. It tugged at the recesses of his mind. He'd found himself knowing which rooms were which before he'd even walked into them, of knowing things he shouldn't know. It intrigued him and kept him here even though it could be dangerous, and yet, he'd lingered.
Cole spent the first night sitting on the roof soaking in the moonlight listening to the sounds of the swamp echo across the water, trying to recuperate and dry out his waterlogged body. All the while working the mystery of knowing without knowing around in his mind. Some echo of long distant, deeply buried, memories teased him with smoke like tendrils. Every time he thought he had one in his grasp it vanished.
Cole is a hybrid and one of the rarest types, half Demon half Fey and hunted. It had taken countless hours of research for Cole when he was younger before he figured out what he was and what was happening to him.  Now he was relentlessly hunted, his blood is one of the rarest of types. He was still able to perform fae magic, strong blood must run in his veins, in spite of his demon side. It was his gift and his curse, causing him to be called an abomination.  He had learned all this through research and of course, the hard way.
Tall with broad muscular shoulders and arms, a thick chest that tapered down to a narrow waist, Cole was physically a God. His dark mahogany colored hair lay in waves to his collar. A sweeping brow leading down to eyes so green they seemed to glow from within from an inner fire. High cheekbones and dimples, take away some of the sharpness of the masculinity he exudes, as well as a full sensual mouth and light stubble dusting his cheeks. The entire package making for a mouthwatering specimen.
But looks had never been Cole's problem, had he been human, directors, and photographers both would be competing for his time. The aversion to bright sunlight and inability to control his fey magic were his downfalls.
  Strange things happened whenever he was around. Flowers would grow and bloom when he was happy. Darkness would shroud him when he felt threatened. Things would explode in bits of glass and flying debris should he lose his temper.
There had been a few casualties the last time Cole lost his temper, which had led to his discovery and him being hunted.
No, Cole's good looks drew too much attention from the mortals and being an abomination to the other races, well, that's self-explanatory.
He was better off alone as his past was a mystery and his future was uncertain at best.
Cole had nowhere to hide that was part of any civilization. So, he hid in the wild places of the world, the more remote the better. His only companion was the darkness of night and the moon. Cole's love of the moon came second only to the love of breathing. She had been his companion and friend from the very beginning. When you're running most of your life, with the exception of a few years, there aren't that many constants.
Cole hadn't always been on the run though, once, he'd had a family to call his own. If only for a short amount of time.When he was ten his mom told him how he had come to be with them. She's said a straggling little boy dressed in rags with a large sum of gold coins had shown up on the doorstep, with a note that said: "please help my son". That had been it, no name, no other information. They had searched for his birth parents using the unusual gold coins as clues but nothing was ever found out. He had stayed with them only until he had reached puberty, then his powers flared causing a deadly accident.
So here he sat, in a rundown mansion built at least 250 years ago, in a moldering old chair surrounded by old death. The last of the family lay in the remnants of a bed down the hall has turned into nothing but bones and rags ages ago.
The plan was to lie as low as possible and hope that he'd finally gotten off the radar of the Supes hunting him. It was hard enough to escape one race of hunters but two was almost impossible. Cole was shocked they hadn't already caught up with him.
A full twenty-four hours had past and there were no signs of them. There was no feeling of foreboding, no shadows over the moon, and no whispers from the trees. It was quiet here. He almost felt as if he could let his guard down, Almost. He knew the quiet wouldn't last, as grateful for the respite as he was, he knew it would be over soon. They would eventually find him, they always did. Finally tired of brooding in silence Cole decided to take a more thorough tour of the estate. When he had found it he had just wanted to dry out and rest. Rising from the moldy chair Cole made his way down to the main floor.
  Standing in the entrance hall his eyes drifted around the foyer. It had once been a grand estate, double curved staircases lead up to the second story. Marble tiles creating a checkered effect on the floor and huge glass windows swept up to the ceiling ornamented with thick embroidered drapes. A set of heavy oak doors stood behind him keeping out the night, to the right were a set of double doors that led to a woman's formal sitting room. The doors to the left lead to the men's drawing room. How he knew this was as elusive as Bigfoot.
As Cole looked around the foyer his eyes were drawn to a large portrait, hanging between the double staircases, of a man and young woman. The woman was small and delicate with light colored hair and soft features. She was dressed in a beautiful pastel green morning gown and around her neck lay a lovely, exquisitely crafted, crest of arms necklace. She was reclining casually on a beautiful baroque sofa.
The man was dark and austere, easily twice her size and looked very formidable. Wearing a top hat and suit, his right hand tightly gripping a silver-handled cane with a large silver ring adorning his index finger, he made quite an impression. He appeared to be leaning slightly on the cane and he stood stiffly at attention beside the beautiful young woman.
If Cole was to guess he would bet them to be the last proprietors of the house. It was a very good portrait, the details were exquisite, even though it was faded and filthy.
Tearing his eyes from the portrait and taking a deep breath Cole walked into the darkened hall between the staircases.
Cobwebs hung like silken banners from the mold-covered walls and dust plumed with every step. Sweeping aside the webs with every stride a heavy wooden door appeared directly in front of him.
 With shaking, hands cole reached up to grasp the door handle but feelings of foreboding caused him to hesitate.
 Shaking off the feeling he gave the handle a quick turn and shoved.
 The door swung open slowly on rusty metal hinges. A piercing squeal resounded echoing deep throughout the house and the silence that ensued seemed all the more ominous.
Cole quietly stepped into the shadowless dark. He was usually quite at home in the darkness, being able to see well when there was even the tiniest amount of light, but even his eyes could detect none. The room was black as pitch.
After he stumbled around in the dark for a bit he finally bumped into a desk. Grasping around in the dark he shortly discovered an old hurricane lantern and giving it a sharp shake he heard oil still in the bottom. A swift search of the desktop found him holding up a flint and steel. Fumbling only a little he quickly struck them together and sparks flashed brightly in the absolute dark.
Cole stood next to the desk striking flint against steel as the feeling of being watched crept up his back adding haste to his struggle to light the old lantern.
Once he got the lamp lit he took a look at the top of the desk. It was littered with papers and old documents, a ledger lay open with a quill across its pages. A bottle of ink sat off to the side as if someone had just left the room for a quick break but never returned.
Quickly searching through the desk drawers produced nothing but more of the dusty old ledgers that had yellowed with age and some sealing wax. Sitting down in the chair Cole gazed around the room. Bookshelves lined the far wall with a fireplace in between. Two large wing-back chairs sat facing the cold fireplace with books stacked beside them but what caught his interest was the painting hung above it.
It was a portrait of The Enchanted races. Fairies and wisps flew around a large roaring fire built in the center of a clearing. Elves and Witches stood in small clusters seemingly having a deep discussion. Vampires stood off to one side in a tightly knit group being the more unsocial of the races, but a few were scattered here and there. While Weres were in different stages of transformation, the painting was very realistic in a simplistic way. It was either a work of pure fantasy or they had been at that gathering of ancient races.
The fact that the place felt more like a tomb and hadn't been disturbed in years, he was thinking it was more likely the latter.
There weren't many people who knew the appearance of each race, unless, you were one of them or someone of importance. Most of the races hid within human society now. Technology and special effects make-up making it easier to blend in. Some of the races though still preferred to stay to themselves living in shadow; in the wild places. Those places were swiftly dwindling, unfortunately, and soon they would have nowhere to hide. It was a troubling thought as he was hiding in the wilds right along with them.
So, who could have painted it? Cole thought he was fairly familiar with most of the enchanted race's rulers and had not heard of such a painting. Had they known about it one of them would surely possess it. No one wanted their true countenance to be viewed by mortals. It could pose a serious threat to their way of life should someone get their hands on the painting and put two and two together. It depicted too much detail.
It was another mystery just beckoning to him to solve it.
Rising from the chair he picked up the lantern and walked over to the painting for a closer inspection. Hoping to see a signature or a marking within to give him a clue. Cole gently lifted it off the wall and slipped his fingernail underneath the paper backing sliding along the edge gently freeing it from the frame. when he felt a soft thunk on his shoe. Bending down he picked up a small key. It had tarnished over time but was still in fairly good shape. Turning the key over in his hand he looked around the room. Thinking it may fit a hidden safe or strongbox.
The small key looked like those he had seen for jewelry boxes or music boxes. Not much bigger than his thumb Cole poked around the room but didn't see anything that it fit. There were no small boxes in the room anywhere. Slipping it into his pocket with a small sigh he finished removing the backing only to discover it blank, nothing there to indicate the artist. Hanging the painting back over the fireplace he took the hurricane lamp and left the room shutting the door behind him.
Once back out into the hall, he continued his delve into the house. There were a couple more rooms on the main floor but none of them really held his interest for long. A large dining hall, the kitchen, and an elaborate ballroom with mirrored walls covered in dust and grime. Deciding to search for the servant's quarter's he made his way to the kitchen to search for the servant's stairs.
After searching the grime infested kitchen finally lead to the discovery of the servant's stairs hidden behind a door in the pantry. Someone had built shelves over the door effectively cutting off its use.
Prying away the shelves he was finally able to open the door and as he did a strong gust of icy air blasted him in the face chilling him to the core. Left in complete darkness without the aid of the lamp was a surprisingly disturbing feeling. Cole felt as if something were watching him once again. It felt as if it were waiting for him to step into the stairwell. Summoning what little heat that was left in the air around him Cole blew a spark at the wick catching it on fire. Thankful that it didn't backfire and blow up in his face Cole gave a small grin. You would think after 100 years of practicing that little trick he would have mastered it by now.
Cole peered around him in the shadows around him searching for anything that would have led to the feeling of being watched. He hadn't survived this long by ignoring the creeping feelings he occasionally got. Not seeing anything unusual or any disturbances in the dust, except his own footprints, Cole turned back to the now opened door.
There were two flights of stairs one leading down and one leading up. He was standing at a landing where the two met. The stairs were rough and not very straight, very poorly constructed, as were most servant entrances and accesses, he believed that the stairs going down must lead to a cellar. Which would explain the gust of stale icy air when he opened the long-sealed door. It was more neglected here than any other part of the house, which indicated, that it had been sealed shut long before the house was left unoccupied and abandoned. The stairs begged to lead him down into the unknown and having a curious nature he followed.
Cole made his way very cautiously down the twisting stairs each step groaning underfoot, threatening to collapse.
At the bottom, he found himself in a peculiarly deep cellar. There wasn't much to see. Just a few fat candles and extra cookware on the recessed stone shelves, nothing of note.
Just as he was turning to traverse back up the narrow winding stairs a plum of dust arose at the back of the room. Barely visible stood a door. Walking quickly forward he inspected his latest curious find. The door was almost completely covered in grime and dirt gently he brushed the remaining away.
The door was brittle with age and Cole was surprised that it was still standing in place. There was no doorknob only an opening for a key. Reaching into his pocket he took out the small key that he had found hidden behind the painting and inspected it. It looked as if it may fit, giving it a try, he slid the key into the lock giving it a gentle twist. The lock opened with a soft snick as if it had recently been oiled. Cole pushed gently against the door, unfortunately, the door did not budge. It was sealed in place from centuries of disuse. He pushed with all his might but the door refused to swing open. Its appearance was very deceiving it was strangely stronger than it looked. The door should have given with as much force as he was using, like a piece of tissue paper!  Upon further inspection of the door showed no curious markings, only a very aged piece of wood. It was yet another mystery that piqued his interest far too much.
At this rate, he would end up spending far to much time here trying to figure out all the house's secrets and not enough trying to outrun those that hunted him!
Not having had any luck he decided to continue on to the servant's quarters. Not that he held out much hope of finding anything interesting.
Making his way out of the cellar and back to the stairs leaving the mystery door for another time he started up the second flight of steps toward the staff's living quarters. The staircase was worn from many sets of feet trudging up and down day and night. The walls were bare with the occasional candle holder mounted here and there to provide just enough light to see by. Water stains spotted the walls here and there, painting grotesque pictures.
 Other than the occasional spider webs and dust it was bare.
Reaching the top of the stairwell he grasped the handle on the door and pushed it open and stepped into a long gloomy hall. It had doors running down along each side and at the very end was a large window admitting what little light there was from the moon. He walked to the first door and pushed it open. There was nothing but an empty room.  Moving farther down the hall, every room he encountered, was empty until he reached the last door.
He pushed on the slightly warped door and it swung open with a groan, complaining loudly about showing its contents.
The room beyond was completely untouched, much the same as the study and the other main rooms of the house. Everything was draped with a thick layer of dust but left, as if, someone had just walked out and never returned. He stepped into the center of the room and turned a full circle. It was all very odd how some things seemed to be perfectly preserved. The home should have been emptied out centuries ago, perhaps, by family or debt collectors maybe even looters, but everything seemed to still be here.
The bed was neatly made although the material was poor quality. A wardrobe stood to one side, partially cracked, and he could see there were still garments hanging in it. A small dresser stood opposite to it with a water basin and pitcher. A bone tooth comb and silver-back brush lay on it with some bits of ribbon. The room seemed to belong to a female but didn't seem to belong to a servant. The quality of the comb and brush were too nice to belong to a servant. Maybe the room belonged to a guest but why would they stay in the servant's quarters? A family member? Nothing was making much sense in this house.
He sifted through some of the drawers and found other beauty products that would be better suited for a suite of rooms not in the staff's section.
He turned to the wardrobe and pulled the doors completely open sending up a billowing cloud of debris. He pushed the clothes to the side to get a good look at the bottom and found what he was looking for.  Dragging the heavy truck to the center of the room he flipped the latches and pulled it open. Quickly, he sifting through the contents, at the very bottom, he discovered a small box. It was ornately carved with a crest the same as the one he had seen in the study on the ledgers. It was a set of swords one laying on top of the other with the moon set in-between the crossed blades a large D was set in-between the crossed pommels. It was a very simple but strong crest.
Lifting the lid, from the box, he found a small velvet bag lying atop a letter.  He opened it gently and dumped the contents out into his palm, a ring along with a necklace spilled out of the bag. The ring was a simple silver band with a ruby. The crest was carved deeply into the ruby and filled with gold.
The necklace was silver as well with a pendant with the same crest. It appeared to be the very same necklace that adorned the woman in the painting's neck. Slipping the necklace into his pocket for safekeeping he turned his attention to the ring. It was clearly a man's ring because of the size.  Turning the ring to the side he checked for makings and engraved on the inside was the same crest. It must have been the family's crest that had lived here but why would these things be in the servant's wing?
Slipping the ring on his finger for safe keeping he felt an instant blast of heat course through his body. It was as if he was being cooked from the inside out. The pain was excruciating and he clawed at the ring trying to get it off, but it wouldn't budge. The ring had begun to melt into his skin slowly becoming part of him. The excruciating pain suddenly increased to unbearable levels. A sudden concussion of magic blasted through every extremity of his body. It sent a white blinding light searing his skin, leaving him reeling. Cole tried to catch his failing body and took a staggered step toward the bed but ended up falling into a crumpled heap on the floor.

Submitted: January 23, 2018

© Copyright 2020 Luna Eternal. All rights reserved.


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