It would only be a matter of time before the full history of Shaldorn reveals itself. Jennifer wanted to visit the place of her dreams of late. The bathroom mirror reflecting her eyes resting on the coin necklace, fashioning her hair into a pony tail, and wondering again how much longer until the affairs of the estate would be over.
The staircase wound down in a tight spiral. Each step echoed around, emphasizing she is alone. They curled around to the left with no hand rail, and only the narrowest of windows to provide light, which crept in gingerly as though unsure of it’s welcome.
The stones cold, even through her shoes her body heat leaching out stepping onto the ancient stone floor. The room is pitch black; blind like someone gouged her eyes. Her fingers to her eye sockets; their presence providing relief as she shines the light in arcs across the room casting shadows from the boxes and wine rack. No doubt the most exclusive vintages of Europe lay here in wooden racks, trusted to the natural refrigeration of the soil behind the dense walls. Brackets for candles every few feet, devoid of any wax residue on them.
The cobwebs hung from the rafters and billowed in the breeze which stirred the dust in the old tower like great sheets of hair from an old hag, white, dirty looking and tangled. Each one is enough to set her heart beating faster than it should. Crackling softly as they contact her jacket, or worse, her face. Much of the stickiness the spider gave them is gone, yet they still cling in a spooky way.
The room is dank with a musty smell but in the dim light provided by the tiny slits in the wall revealing little else except the built in alcoves. The perfect place to store things with moderated temperatures and lack of sunlight. Without any circulation of air the stagnant aroma made it dungeonesque and the unsoftened echo of Jennifer’s feet brought on a claustrophobic feeling.
Her curiosity got the better of her. Finding a table near by and glanced into the dark gloom of the room, letting her eyes adjust. The wind screeched through a tight gaps in the ancient walls, the room was as cold as ice. Adding to the general disarray was the furniture which was high end and bespoke. Every piece was hardwood and harked back to the Victorian era, but not a scrap in the room was less than a one hundred years old. Shinning the light against what looked like a large whole in the wall inset. It is a metal box. Reaching inward grabbing the box breaking cobwebs. Jennifer carries it to a table.
The resting hinges squeaked as the box is opened showing a rolled up document sealed in wax, and a note inside. The writing on the note looked like her uncles hand writing. It read: October 16th midnight. Her phone lit up indicating it was October 16th and two minutes of midnight.
Her eyes narrowed. The seal looked familiar to her. Reaching for the necklace her uncle gave her she unclasped it and compared it to the seal. It was an exact match. Braking the seal she opened the scroll. Having never seen a language like this.
Why would someone put a note like this and a scroll sealed in wax inside a wall in the base of Tower Two.
Her brows snapped together. She bumped her phone causing it to light up showing that it is now midnight. Not being an ancient language expert Jennifer attempted to read the words on the scroll aloud as best she could. Inserting the ancient coin her uncle gave her into the small round hole in the wall she began to read the words written on the scroll noticing each Latin word changing to English as it is read. Her brain senses something out of place even though her conscious isn’t registering it. It’s a feeling of being watched.
Hairs stood up on her arms as a chill moved through her body while reading the words. The cold causing her to expedite her words, her breathing rapid and shallow:
Mihi dura videntur surgere luna noctem sub caelo, in quo scies tempus ad me verum Shaldorn loco et tempore.
When night is upon me the moon will rise coarse unseen across the skies, take me back in time to where I’ll find, the truth of Shaldorn in place and time.
A low noise, like the moaning wind rises. At first she hears it, that is, she feels it, as if the tower foundation is coming alive. Seeping through the stones, one after another, imperceptibly through the walls from the depths of the tower, and hovers around her with intensity. The table vibrating. Items fall to the floor. She lent forwards to touch the table for balance feeling a fabric fall down her arm, soft and velvety.
An apparition stood next to Jennifer, translucent, shimmering and gaunt, eyes black as wells, her ghostly hand slow to reach for Jennifer’s arm. She does everything to move, yet it remains still. A sensation passes through Jennifer like touching arctic air. She can make out some details in the face of this apparition. Her fingers caress over Jennifer’s forearm, while she stands still, paralyzed. Jennifer wants to scream, but she can’t find the strength as she tries to move her hand away from the apparition. It’s not her, or her touch which scares Jennifer, but her Jennifer’s inability to move.
The ghost more silent than the grave it arose from, staring with heavy lidded eyes and a slack mouth. Her cheekbones accentuated the skeletal look and in her gaze Jennifer’s mind robbed of emotion. The ghost pointed across the room to a door. Jennifer followed her gesture, in a zombie state walking through the door, like being inside a tornado as the dust of a thousand years swirls around her with freighting speed. Ending in an open courtyard half conscious. Like when her childhood friends spun her around for fun causing her head to spin. The dizziness slow to fade.
God adjusted the color’s of the world in the sight before her, like twisting one of those old plastic dials on a TV set. Everything brighter; the trees not just green but radiant virescent hues burned themselves in Jennifer’s retinas. Jennifer turned back to look behind her only to see she is no longer in the basement of tower two. Gazing upon an ancient castle complete in it’s construction seeing people moving about. The modern estate gone.
The sent of horses and manure filled her nose. The thundering of hooves split the silence as a lone stallion galloped through the open courtyard. The wind wisped his mane into the air like flames; after all he appeared to be a knights horse. His muscles rippled from under his freshly groomed pelt and his powerful legs. It’s rider wearing a cloak. His face bespoke the toll of combat. They propelled him forward and kept him going as he powered past Jennifer glancing at her. Turning she notices a man on a horse. Beneath the cloak he wore a dark robe, smeared with dirt and the robe girdled with a three knotted cord wearing a hood over his head. Dismounting his horse he entered the castle. The sensation of being pulled almost falling, she finds herself in a hallway.
Beams of moon light fill the hallway. Jennifer sees a woman wearing a fitted bodice, accented with gold, inlaid long sleeves, and inlay front, and deep forest green brocade gracing the ground, a long velvet cloak, her hair protruding the hood walking with a man. Turning to a tall man of striking appearance they walked together down the corridor passing a dark corner. Her eyes sparkled as though she had known him for a long time.
Jennifer could sense there was something waiting in the darkness. It was ancient, and cruel, and waited in the shadows. It was not of this place. Jennifer could see, and hear everything but was watching it as a movie playing out. Whatever it was in the dark Jennifer could sense its primordial cold. Hiding in darkness, a man steps out reaching for an object wrapped inside cloth, something heavy, as he inched toward them, then caught proper hold of it, and drew the object free. Jennifer wanted to yell out to warn them but couldn’t speak. The strange man grabbed her lover by the throat from behind, thrusted a dagger deep into his back, piercing his heart killing him instantly.
Screaming, she ran, with torn raiment and disheveled hair. Her feet slipped outwards on the stone floor as she round the corner, the cold evening air shocking her throat and lungs as she inhaled deeper, faster. With each footfall a jarring pain shoots ankle to knee, ankle to knee. Who was this man and why was he after her. Her heart beats frantically. The air didn’t seem to be enough for Jennifer to warn the woman as he closed in on her. Jennifer wrenched at the words but no sounds came out of her mouth.
The man giving chase grabs her from behind with all his strength, she felt his fingers snatching her long hair, tangling and tugging. her head bobs backwards. The scream squeaks through her scorched throat. Snatching at the air, she begged it to help her keep balance. His face looming over hers. Her body numb. Covering her mouth, reaching around with his other hand, yielding the dagger stabbing her in the chest.
As Jennifer awoke realizing the cold hard stone floor was beneath her. Slow to get up. The dizziness in her head fading as she extended her right hand onto a protruding stone in the wall. Raising herself up the stone gives way and others fall with it. Brushing back a lock of hair while rubbing her brow. Her mind returning to the present thinking she must have fallen, and hit her head and past out. Getting up and dusting herself off thinking she must have slipped on the stairs, fallen and fell sleep; Jennifer tries to make sense of what seemed like a strange dream.
Cindy was busy in the kitchen preparing a lite mid-day meal. “Cindy, have you seen Jennifer”, said Nigel holding a gardening tool?
“No I haven’t. She may have gone for a walk.” Cindy continued rinsing the vegetables in the sink. “Well, I guess I’ll keep working on the garden. It’s been needing work since Jennifer arrived.”
On the walk back to the manor Jennifer thought about her life in the last year. Three months ago, a tiny bubble of doubt had welled up in her sometime between the letter from her uncle about his stateside home and the letter about the inheritance. Her mother had never gone to college but after two daughters who did go to college, Jennifer knew her father was hopeful she might be the one to follow in his footsteps of earning a law degree and becoming a successful attorney. Her sister Susan had chosen a different path. She had politely joked the suggestion off.
Cindy noticed Jennifer walk into the dinning room seeing her slumped at the table, her brows creased and face tense. When Cindy sits, coffee in hand, she asks “What’s up?” her tone casual and light. Jennifer starring out the window. Putting her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder noticing her face flushed. Cindy puts her hand on Jennifer’s forehead. “Oh my God your forehead is hot. Something isn’t right. I can tell. What is it?” Cindy surveyed.
The remnants of her nightmare still clung to her mind, haunting her. Silence is the moment.