Namarai very sneakily tip toed closer to the castle as she saw the main entrance. It was barricaded with a smashed bridge bolted into the sides. Rocks buried on top of it. No way was she going to get in that way. She walked around looking for another entrance but the walls around the castle were too high. Even a ladder wouldn’t reach the top of them.
How am I going to get in there?
She walked for almost a mile to reach the back of the castle when she noticed a lake of water sitting behind. The moonlight’s reflection in it was breathtaking.
“Maybe there’s a way through there.” Namarai debated whether it was worth getting wet. She couldn’t see any other options to getting inside. The water was her best bet. The water was freezing as she quickly dunked underneath hoping it would make the cold touch less painful. It didn’t. Namarai could feel her entire body screaming for some heat but she had to know if there was an opening. Taking a deep breath she swam under the lake and to the edge of the castle feeling around the masonry with her hands. The water was dark and the moonlight didn’t do much help. She was blind as a bat. Lower and lower she glided but couldn’t feel any holes to a possible passageway. The wall was thick and solid stones. Nothing could break through them and then suddenly she felt something.
Namarai could feel what seemed to her like a wooden door, she searched for a handle but it was without. As she touched around it she noticed that this door was peculiar. As if it wasn’t a door…but a….
Namarai squealed under water as she realized she was trying to open up a coffin. She dived back up fast fleeting to the shallow water. She coughed for air with shaking hands, her heart racing.
“Okay…its okay…it’s just a coffin…just a coffin…with a possible dead person inside of it.” Namarai talked herself down as she wiped the water off her face so she could see more clearly.
Namarai glanced at some blocks on the wall that seemed decently pulled out in a way that she would be able to climb them. Very closely but maybe she could. She began to climb the murky stones that led her remarkably to the top without any trouble.
Namarai didn’t predict how high she would actually be. Nearly 30 or 40 feet off the ground. She saw a chain on the other side of the wall hanging down from the ledge. Scooting herself slowly over to it she finally made her way to the other side twenty minutes later. She reached down and grabbed the chain sliding herself down to the castle grounds. Namarai was proud of herself as she saw how disturbingly black her hands were from the rusty decayed muck from the chain. She rubbed it off on her clothes as she looked around. The castle was the most immeasurable size of towering walls and colossal statues Namarai had ever seen. She felt like she had entered the feudal times of kings and queens. She saw a large wooden door on her right and decided to start with there. She pushed the door forward as it scratched against the cement ground. A long staircase formed to her left, she could tell it spiraled to the top. Namarai began mounting each step she took. Higher she climbed feeling exhaustion in her legs and calves. She had no idea where these stairs would lead but she would soon find out. Panting out of breath Namarai finally reached the top of the tower. She saw a room, the only room in the tower. The door was crushed as if someone had beaten it with a hammer as it barely could stand connected to the bolts holding it to the side.
Namarai’s curiosity continued to get the best of her as she entered the room. The ceiling was taller then the castle walls. Spider webs and dust surrounded every corner. Old furniture, an old table, an old chair, everything was so antique. She walked over to a shelf of books. The books were torn and ruined, papers flooded the floor. She picked up a few of the shredded papers and recognized the handwriting.
It was Tiere’s!! This must be his room!
The room was so bare and so forgotten she wondered the last time he ever stepped foot here.
“Tiere…where have you gone?” Namarai sighed as she held the pieces of paper close to her heart hoping he was still alive.
Voices below were heard from Namarai’s window. She moved closer looking to see where they were coming from. A flickering light was signaling of another presence in the castle. Multiple voices spoke as if it were some sort of meeting. Namarai fled down the stairs like a bird as she followed the voices leading her to a long hallway inside the castle. The voices were becoming louder; she knew there were other visitors here. Perhaps one of them was Tiere. She stopped as she had found where the voices were coming from. It was behind these two closed doors with a chain locked across the handles. She couldn’t help but try to listen and hear what the unknown company was saying.
“This is all Tiere’s fault! How could he do this to us?!!” A man’s furious growl slammed against what sounded like a table of dishes scattered around the area.
“He’s right Houlwood! I say we find Tiere and make him pay for what he’s done to this family!” A woman’s voice spoke next in full support.
“Enough. Tiere is of no longer any concern of ours. He made his choice. We will accept his abdicate and reawaken a new era.” Namarai knew she recognized this voice. It was Houlwood’s.
“A new era! We can’t do that!” The other man refused the thought.
“How will we Houlwood? What if Tiere comes back.” The woman seemed distraught and frightened by this proposition.
“Yes Houlwood! What if Tiere decides to come back! What of the era then?!” The two defenders felt threatened and without any fairness.
“Tiere will not come back. He has left Elmbridge. He is not returning.” Houlwood stayed calm with this realization.
“But what if he..!” The two were interrupted with Houlwood’s last approach.
“August, Unisia, you have no choice but to comply with Tiere’s resign.” Houlwood advised as he watched the mourning overwhelm their faces of disappointment.
A tear dripped from Unisia’s cheek as August punched a hole into the castle wall making the ceiling shake and thunder with falling rocks. Namarai had trouble finding balance with the floor as the rocks came clashing down on top of her. She dodged most of them but a large unexpected stone from the shadows dropped on her foot blocking her from escaping. August’s rage wasn’t finished; he punched another hole and another making the entire castle rumble. Namarai could see the ceiling start to crumble together as she knew she was about to be chiseled into the ground.
“Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!” Namarai screeched to the top of her lungs feeling her life flash before her eyes. The rocks were unsteady, exactly above her. Another punch was made, the chunks of cement gathered above to plunge to Namarai’s foreseen death.
Namarai screamed and cried as she covered her head lying on the ground submitting to the end of her life. The stones fell; she could hear them rupture around her one at a time. Crash… clatter… crack. When would the next rock be her’s? She closed her eyes soaking her face with tears. She waited anticipating every drop. And then there was silence. The ground was steady and the walls held solid. She was too afraid to open her eyes to see if the nightmare had really ended, was she alive? Slowly opening her eyes she could see bits of masonry surround her when suddenly she saw something she did not expect. A hand was beside her; she walked up her eyes to the arm and then…breathless. His white hair hung above her almost reaching her face. Those eyes streaming blood inside his pupils, she couldn’t understand why this man benched himself on top of her.
Did he save me?
She didn’t know what to say. The man said nothing; his eyes were fixated on her as if she were some sort of delicate art from a museum.
“How did you…why did you…?” Was all Namarai could whisper as there were no words she could process at this moment in time.
“Houlwood!” August rushed out after him as he saw the human girl. Namarai could see August from the corner of her eye; he was tall, dark red hair with blood red eyes as well. Then the woman was visible. She was rather similar to August but her hair was lighter almost like an orange sunset descended upon her. She was beautiful. Her hair went all the way to the bottom of her knees. They were also dressed from the days of yore.
How is this possible?
“What’s she doing here Houlwood?” August asked stunned by Houlwood’s actions.
Houlwood was silent. He was as flabbergasted as Namarai was.
“Isn’t that the girl from the woods?” Unisia identified.
“Why…are you here?” Houlwood inquired with agitation.
“I…I told you. I have to find Tiere.” Namarai had never been so close to a man before, never in this position at least.
“She knows where we live Houlwood! Now we have to kill her!” August demanded fearing for the worst.
“She knows too much Houlwood. We don’t have a choice.” Unisia agreed.
Namarai’s throat choked to the thought of them killing her. Her heart pounded hard, Houlwood could feel her dread.
“No.” Houlwood pulled Namarai up to her feet as they were both face to face standing. His head towered over hers as she did not expect him to be so tall.
“What?!” August burbled thinking his ears had gone deaf.
“She is our guest.” Houlwood placed his arm out for Namarai to grab. She had never seen such a gentlemanly act in all her day. She put her hand on his arm as he guided her into the throne room, the room where the two locked doors before were now busted open.
August and Unisia felt as though they had fallen into the twilight zone.
“What’s he doing?” Unisia’s wide eyes blinked in disbelief as she hoped August had some clue to what Houlwood was doing.
“I don’t know. Houlwood! What is this?!” August jabbered inside Houlwood’s ears next to him as he followed.
Houlwood steered Namarai to the throne on the right, Namarai sat as Houlwood took the main chair next to her’s. She felt like she was a queen sitting with her king.
Who are these people?
“She can’t sit there! Houlwood!” August’s blood pressure was bursting out his body to the thought of a human sitting in the royal throne.
“August…” Unisia tried to ease August’s wrath but there was no defeat to his ferocity.
“Get out of here girl unless you have a death wish!!” August warned as Namarai saw fangs grow from the sides of his teeth. Namarai cradled herself into the chair as she didn’t know what to do.
“August, how about some chocolate rose cake for the lady? I’m hoping you like chocolate.” Houlwood set his arm on the chair rest putting his head on his finger. He glanced over to Namarai hoping she was hungry.
“Chocolate…cake…sounds…great.” Namarai hesitated in responding as she could see the flames spark from the tips of August’s hair.
“Great! August, chop chop.” Houlwood clapped his hands dismissing August’s presence.
August clenched his teeth together snarled like a rabid dog as Unisia escorted him out of the room.
“Forgive August’s insensitive behavior; it’s been awhile since we’ve had a visitor.” Houlwood apologized.
“Oh…that’s okay.” Namarai felt like a rabbit wrapped in a cage with wolves.
“I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself. I am Houlwood Elmbridge. We come from a long line of blood nobility. My family has reigned for generations, never has a mortal such as yourself crossed into Elmbridge and lived let alone dine themselves to our catering.” Houlwood was amused with this spoof.
“You act as though you’re not even human. Hahaha.” Namarai had no idea why she was laughing so awkwardly. Why did that sentence sound so out of place? Namarai looked to see what Houlwood’s expression would say but she could tell it was exactly that.
“You’re…not…human…are you…” Namarai put all the puzzle pieces together down to the fangs from August’s teeth to the killing and all the secrets; let’s not forget the castle of bats. Tiere’s letters were starting to make sense. She thought he was just being dramatic talking about all the blood that he yearned for.
“Does that scare you?” Houlwood tipped his head over waiting for Namarai to scream and run for dear life.
Namarai knew she was talking to something not human, some creature of the night that fed upon her race. Was she frightened? This man so kind and so beautiful, how could he ever be a monster?
“No.” Namarai decided as she could see the skepticism in Houlwood’s eyes.
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