"Well that is…maddeningly unhelpful," I muttered, watching him with a look of frustrated confusion before he turned a sharp corner, and I started to run after him, afraid of being lost in this castle.
But when I made the turn and looked up, I saw only the empty corridor, going what could easily have been a half mile, until it came to a sudden stop at a stone wall that was hardly visible from where I was standing. I glanced to my left and right, and noticed the fact that the cold walls were covers with paintings and tapestries, but no sign of a door. I swore to myself and turned around in circles, looking for another way, but found myself facing either the way I had came, or the way the stealthy man with purple eyes had told me not to go. I decided not to trust the words of my dance partner, or a murderer for that matter and started to go in the other direction.
It proved to be useless.
After a long pattern of turns and passages that made me dizzy, I found myself at another dead end and forced my already tired feet back the way they had just came. I decided maybe to go the way the murderer had and started to run, determined to get out of this mad house and make a stop first at the nearest fast food restaurant then to the police station. As I ran I looked left and right, trying to see any doors that he could have went through but found none, and made a small thud as I ran right into the dead end as I was too distracted to notice. I groaned rubbing my sore shoulder that had taken most of the impact of the collision and turned around looking at the distance I had just come and leaned against the wall for support.
They were playing with me, just like the night before.
I ran both hands through my hair to calm myself down and turned back to the wall to exam it more closely. To my dismay it looked like any old stone wall, no cracks or small wholes to be seen. I ran my hands over it, adding pressure to try and make it move but it was absolutely useless, it stood strong as ever and looked down at my mockingly as I let out an exasperated scream and kicked it, only to cause a sharp burst of pain running up my leg, and trying to stand on one foot as I examined the damage.
"Fine…fuck you wall," I muttered, cautiously putting my foot back to the ground and adding weight a little at a time.
Finally managing to stand normally again, I turned my back to the wall and looked down the corridor, biting my lip. The murderer had said that I was in some kind of castle…of….a court.
It struck me that this had something to do with fairies, and Annie's death, and my heart skipped a beat, fear taking my breath away.
In any sane day I would have said it was a cult, or some wannabe's screwing with my head, but I had been nowhere near sane in months, since the pounding of the noise, and feeling of madness, let alone this past week, with all the stories of folk in my head, the dream, and that day, the day I had found her.
"What do you want with me?" I yelled up at the ceiling, and felt tears form in my eyes for no other reason other then the madness taking a hold of me again, and old nightmares coming back into view.
I steadied my breathing and brought my hands up to my face, cradling it and fighting back the tears and memories that threatened to deluge me.
Standing there in the silence, I felt my heart beat pick up as I felt the pressure and darkness from the hallway close in on me. I closed my eyes, and stained my ears, waiting for the sound of laughter, or any human sounds, but none came. Then finally a sound came, at first I though it was my own heart beat, when I realized it was the own steady pulse of the corridor itself, watching me and surrounding me. The thumping started in my head, but soon consumed me until I felt myself chill to the bone and my skin became covered in goose bumps. Frozen to the bone, a shiver went up my spin as a slight breeze ran through the darkness, although there were no windows. It was a presence that was taking me, clouding my thoughts and bringing the chill and pain not only to my body, but my mind.
I had to escape this mad house, it was simple really. All I had to do was clear my head, but it was proving almost impossible and I decided the first step was finding my way out of this absurd labyrinth. Taking a deep breath and trying to rid myself of the cold, I started to move.
I made my way over to the right wall, running my hands across it as I walked, looking at the paintings for any clues. They were nameless and all from different time periods and genres which only frustrated me more. Whoever built this wanted to make sure no one could get in or out. Then I noticed a good size bulge in one of the stones. Touching it, I noticed it fit snuggly in my grip, much like that of a…
I glanced around at the surrounding area, running my hands across all the crevices to see if any connected together to form that of a door. Checking five feet both ways and getting down on my hands and knees I finally found something intriguing but not exactly what I was looking for. Small letters were carved into a stone parallel to the one with the 'door knob' but they seemed to be in a different language. I ran my fingers across them gently, hoping the dirt was covering up more, but found nothing, only that of the strange words and I groaned, standing up again slowly.
Standing in front of my new discoveries I wondered how on earth people had the patients to do this sort of stuff for a living. Go through labyrinths, find hidden clues and the worse of it, nose around in some tomb with dead people. Definitely not a good career option for someone with my small intention span, but here I was, stuck doing the crap most people got paid for.
Giving up on that spot for now, I continued to walk back to the main hallway, leaning against the wall as I went, when I fell to the ground in a sudden thud, banging my head on the hard ground.
I brought my hand to my aching head and blinked several times at what I saw, the stone wall I had just been leaning on was in front of me.
Spinning my head around in surprise, I collided with something very hard and sturdy, making me see stars.
Today was not my day.
Recovering from my newest injury, I got to my feet and noticed that a couple feet to the left of the new stone wall was a large arch way, with light pouring out. Looking back, I saw that where the old wall had stopped, this one had continued, so the arch was part of the new wall but hidden behind the first.
The walls had been overlapped.
I mixture of relief and irritation flooded me, at the simplicity of it. Looking back over my shoulder…
The paranoia was still following me everywhere
…I walked through the arch and into a well lit room that was the size of a small house. It had stone walls that ran up to a high doom ceiling, and windows lining the left side. It was a grand hall filled with artwork of all kinds, carpets blanketing the cold floor and a large oak table in the center, surrounded with at least a dozen chairs with room for more. Looking out the windows, I saw a scene similar to the one in the room I had spent the night in. The colors of the sky held hope and darkness somehow mingled within each other, painted together in beautiful blends as far as the eye could see.
Laughing I ran over to the table, running a hand against the smooth surface and then started twirling around in the bright sunlight pouring in from the window. Compared to the darkness of the corridor, it felt electrifying against my skin and I felt my head clear from the cloud that had started to over come it.
My laughter and spinning stopped when I glanced up at the ceiling and gasped at the sight. Like a large black crow, my dance partner was sitting perched up in one of the rafters, safely hidden from the sunlight, but when he saw my stare, he jumped down in a fluid movement, landing on the floor in a crouched predatory position. I took a few steps back, but he straightened up and sent a small smile towards me that warmed my heart.
"It took you long enough my dear. I was beginning to thing the demons had gotten a hold of you."
"The…the what?" I stuttered, still feeling dizzy from my moment of spinning in the warmth and light of the sun, which after being trapped in my mind for so long felt and tasted so good. My mind would not allow the thoughts of demons, or anything dark at the moment, penetrate the sweet feeling that was running through my veins, but it soaked in soon, and my dance partner waited patiently as my smile faded, along with the glow that had momentarily filled me.
"The demons my dear, but not living creatures of which you think. I meant the demons in your head." He reached out pointing at my forehead with his covered hand and even though his faced remained blank, his eyes seemed to smile.
But only a little.
"I have no demons in my head," I retorted sharply, and turned away from him, back to the open window were the sun was shining in, biting my lip. The thought of being crazy or even depressed scared me deeply. I knew I was emotional after the death of Annie, but wouldn't anyone be. Just being sad and mournful didn't make me crazy, and I felt a surge of anger for him suggesting such a thing…even if it was…
No…I was fine before…
Instead of taking my hint to leave me be, he stood behind me, away from the direct sunlight, and the worst of it, chuckling at my stubbornness.
"Danielle, I didn't mean it as crazy, but…to say you were emotionally unstable…my dear it would be an understatement."
My heart seemed to lift at this, and he must of know it, because even when I glared back at him in slight anger to state I was perfectly fine, I could see it in his face. He knew the truth, possibly even all of it, and there would be no part in arguing in it. It would simply be as if I was determined to tell him the earth was flat, he might humor me, but he would know…we would both know the truth.
Yes that was a very good question when you got right down to it. How would anyone know what trouble I had gone through, not only these last few months, but my life, my whole damn life?
He seemed to have read my thoughts, since when I turned around he had a troubled look on his face, which went instantly blank a second later.
"I would love to explain to you, and I'm sure you have question, but first would you like to eat…you look like you need it." His eyes glittered at this, and with a normal person I guessed there would have been a huge grin as well, but not now, not with him.
I was about to protest again, but I knew I wouldn't be able to. Other then the basic fear of being in a new place, and the terror from the hall, I had found a kind of feeling of belonging start to creep over me, and I also could not deny my stomach felt quit empty.
"I am hungry…but you have to promise to answer all my question…" I didn't know why I felt threats would work, but when he didn't protest I was satisfied enough with myself and went to sit at the large table.
"Oh no my lady, we shall not be eating here," he said with a little chuckle and I blushed, irritated that I was yet again wrong.
"Why not…I like it here and it's so beautiful." I whined it without meaning too and felt my cheeks heat up more.
"This is only for very small parties and games, not for dinning. I'll show you the way to the smaller of the dinning halls, but trust me in that you won't be disappointed."
"Alright then, but as long as you don't try to lose me this time," and I couldn't help keep the small smile off my face.
"I had no intention too, it's a pleasant little walk anyway," he shrugged and started to lead me to a doorway I had not noticed when I had first entered the room.
However I found that I had no trouble keeping up with him this time. Indeed for the most part I walked right next to him. Despite his long legs and stride he had somehow managed to match my much slower stride with graceful easy, and strolling next to him, I felt the menacing feeling of his presence seem to slip away to a more comfortable feeling.
But only a little
So we walked for about ten minutes, down more stone hallways that where might nicer and better lit then the other hallway I had to struggle through myself. There were turns and doorways in this one for a start, and the rooms that they opened up to were all so beautiful I found I couldn't take my eyes off of them.
Looking to my right I noticed one room filled with bright colors I had never even seen before, they seemed bright and good and evil and dark all at the same time, much like the sky that had lightened slightly outside, visible from the large windows in the room. There was what looked like an old women from the back, which turned around just as we walked by and with a start I realized she couldn't even be human. The long grey silver hair was pinned back for the most part unsuccessfully, but her face was a leathery green color much like that of a frog, her noise hooked down almost over her mouth and her face narrow and small eyes that seemed to be all black, giving her a very bird like appearance. Her humped back was covered with shawls and a large grey sweater that fell the ground and matched the color of her hair, leaving her face and her hands (which were that same leathery green) the only skin exposed. When she looked up and saw me looking at her rudely, she only smiled and waved, letting out a loud cackle, which was far from malevolent, it was actually closer to friendly.
"What…who…" I looked at her in bemused bewilderment before my dance partner hurried me along, but not before sending the old women a little wave that sent her cooing, even when we were a good while away I could still here that strange noise coming from her.
I glanced in other rooms as well as we passed, all just as dark and beautiful as the next, all having as many as seven occupants who all looked up curiously as we passed.
Known of them looked human.
They all looked like creatures out of my mythology books that I loved so much, yet…somehow not. As if only parts they wanted humans to see had come out, as like a protection…much like that of a lizard that could change colors to match its surroundings.
And that's when it stuck me that I had either lost my mind and was imaging all of this, or I had falling into other world.
I think I preferred the first of the two.