It had rained for three days now. The gray skies gave no sign of getting any better, and now thunder and lighting joined the afternoon shower lighting up the hills and surrounding valleys as a great battle raged in the heavens. It was beating hard against the stone walls of the outer castle and the moat was starting to flood again. The winds howled with rage as the farmers in the nearby fields gathered their flocks to rush them inside before the low lands started to flood for the third time in a month. They couldn’t afford to lose any more animals to this wicked storm. The coming winter was going to be a hard one with the loss of animals and the crops being as poor as they had been in years previous.
Carolyn Kincade sat in her high backed wooden chair, tucked away in the east wing of her castle. Animal hides and furs lined the floor of her bedchamber for warmth, as the soft glow of the well-tended fire and candlelight danced and set shadows scattering to every corner of the dimly lit bedchamber. She found herself lost in her own wandering thoughts. Water trickled in thru a small slit in the wall that acted as the window, leaving a small puddle on the floor. She looked at it and noticed the red hue it gave in the dancing candlelight. Strange as it was, it was the third time this month that the rain was red.
She turned her attention back to the fire, finding comfort in its warm embrace. A black bear hide draped over her shoulders brought memories of her husband, the warmth of his love for her brought a smile to her small lips. The way his long dark hair felt between her fingers, the way his lips found every cravas of her body before he left.
The sound of wood crackling and the smell of smoke brought her comfort when Christian was away with the men on their stag hunts. The hides carried with them, the smell of the earth, sweet and musky, it was like being wrapped in the Great Mother herself.
A knock came at the chamber door, she didn’t look up from the soft glow of the fire, the way the flames moved and danced around each other had become mezmorizing.
A petite girl with long brown hair came in quickly shutting the door and bowing. Carolyn looked over her shoulder to watch Morgan, her chamber maid, relight the candles and stoke the fire. Two years prior, Carolyn had been in the neighbouring village and found Morgan begging on the streets. When she had asked people about the girl, the villagers warned Carolyn that she was a witch and the girls mother had recently been burned at the stake. She took pitty on child, took her off the streets and gave her purpose again with a place within their home.
People always mistook them for sisters when they were together, the only difference was Morgan had brown eyes and Carolyn had emerald.
“Has there been any word yet?” Morgan turned to her Mistress, her long skirts sweeping in a wide birth around her as she bowed again, “No M’Lady. There has been no sighting of them. Can I bring you something warm to drink?” Carolyn waved her hand at the question dismissing Morgan. She turned her attention back to the fire. When she looked up, Morgan had disappeared into the shadows.
She found that odd, the door made no sound as it shut behind her. Taking no mind to it, Carolyn turned her attention back to the rise and fall of the flames. It was both mesmerizing and enchanting. She let her foot hang over the side of the chair and dangle in the soft furs of the sheep skin that lay at her feet.
Carolyn ran her fingers over the hand carved wolf’s heads that made up the arm rests to her chair. It had been a gift from Christian on their wedding night over three years ago. The Stag and Bear that were carved into the back remined Carolyn of her husband’s power. She longed for his touch every time she sat in it.
Christian was late returning with the hunting party, but everyone had blamed the bad weather that had rolled in. The servants in the castle were busy preparing for their Masters return when another knock came at the chamber door.
Morgan entered again, but this time she was very red in the face from climbing the many stone steps to Carolyn’s bedchamber as quickly as she could. The fire light that danced off the stone walls gave an earie glow to Morgan’s face as she tried to compose herself to give the message she had just received.
Carolyn slowly stood from her chair, pulling the fur around her shoulders. Her raven colored hair blended in with the dark color of the bear hide, giving the illusion that she was morphing into the animal in which she found solace.
Carolyn saw the stress on Morgan’s face, “What is it? What has happened?”
Morgan gathered her thoughts and her breath as she bowed again to her Mistress, “There has been an accident, you must come at once.” Morgan quickly gathered Carolyn’s slippers that were hidden under her four-post bed on the far side of the room, and helped Carolyn slip them over her delicate feet to keep her from getting cold on the stone floors.
“Where are we going?” Carolyn turned to her friend in the narrow passage as Morgan ran ahead of her lighting the torches along their chocen path.
She looked up at her Mistress with fear in her eyes, “The healer’s room. The Master has returned.”
Carolyn watched in horror as Morgan took the lead down the narrow steps, her brown hair bouncing under her head scarf as she went.
The two women, followed the long and narrow passage that led to the lower levels of the castle where the Healer’s room was kept. The passages were well marked, but for some reason, Carolyn felt lost, almost like she shouldn’t go down into the dark spaces that held the earthen and death. Like she shouldn’t be there in that time. The walls were starting to become covered in suit again from all the torches that lined the walls lighting the way. The smell of musk and earth was strong in this end of the passage as it was connected to the water way that led to the lower ponds. It also served as a location for waste runoff for the entire castle, making the smell more unpleasant.
It was like being lost in the darkest caves, the sun and moon never shone here, letting the darkness rule with its monsters and secrets.
As they neared the end of the passage, Morgan turned and lifted one of the torches from the wall to help light the rest of the way. They rounded a corner again and came to a large solid, wooden door. The door had started to become covered in moss along the bottom, from all the water that collected in small pools this far under the castle.
Morgan placed the torch in its holder that hung bolted on the wall near the door. Moss had started to collect on the walls and floor giving off a green glow from the torch light, making the door look like it would lead to another realm. The soft moss looked like patches of blanket that the fae gently placed out to dry.
Carolyn pulled her furs closer around her shoulders as Morgan knocked on the heavy wood.
The healer’s apprentice Ann, opened the door. Her long blond hair was pulled back under her head scarf letting her large brown eyes see better in the dimly lit space.
As Carolyn stepped inside, she noticed more torches and candles had been brought in for better lighting. The room was big enough for three beds, but only one was present. Herbs, oils and glass jars containing substances Carolyn had never see before, lined the far wall. The smell of death and decay mixed with the smell of the earthen floor and sage. Incents burners were ablaze with smoke that wafted into the air covering over the smell of death.
Ann stood with a Salome expression, to one side of the lone bed that had blood stained sheets draped over it. The front of Ann’s leather apron was also covered with blood and oils, a clear indication they had just preformed surgery of some type.
A flash of light sparked in the corner of the room. Carolyn seemed to be the only one who noticed in the dark chamber. She started to approach the bed, when the flash came again.
“Mistress?” Ann’s face seemed to fade in and out as she addressed Carolyn.
Another flash of light.
Carolyn turned around to look at Morgan who should have been standing in the doorway. She had disappeared, when Carolyn turned back to the bed, it had also disappeared. She found herself standing in an empty earthen room. The cold stones of the walls and one window on the far right were all that was left, giving the appearance of a dungeon more then a healing room. Puddles of water appeared that were stained with red.
Carolyn blinked, Christian was standing before her. His white linen shirt was stained with blood, his blue eyes were sad as he turned his hands, palms facing her. When she looked down, his hands were covered in his own blood.
Carolyn woke up from her dream in a cold sweat. The same nightmare that plagued her dreams for over five centuries, were starting again. The silk sheets that covered her Queen-sized bed had been torn again. She sighed as she rolled over looking at the digital clock that sat on her night stand. The clock flashed four thirty in the afternoon.
Carolyn sighed as she ran her hands thru her long raven colored hair. She sat up and looked around her dark room for signs in the shadows for monsters from her past.
The room held her few possessions that she carried, a few clothes on the floor, her keys to the nightclub she owned sat on her dresser along the far wall, and heavy curtains covered the ten foot windows along each wall blotting out the sun during the day.
The smell of earth and death was strong with this dream. These flashes from her past were becoming more frequent and more intense.
A knock came at her door, and the sound of a meek voice was heard on the other side.
“Is everything alright Mistress?” Carolyn sighed as she threw off the remaining covers and paced her feet on the bear skin that lay on the hard wood. She let her toes burry deep with in the furs for a moment before she got up and quickly dressed for the night.
Carolyn opened the door to find Morgan standing on the other side of it, worry creasing the corners of her eyes. The little serving girl, the one she had saved from the streets and poverty, the one who was the only other constant in her life, besides the dreams, stood with her brown eyes wide.
“I’m fine Morgan, it was just nightmares again.” She smiled as she passed Morgan, heading for the kitchen.
Their two-bedroom flat was the best that money could buy now a days in the city of Chicago. Hardwood floors ran threw out the apartment complementing the brick face of the walls. Ten-foot-high windows ran threw out the length of the place in every room, letting in much of the street lights that came on when the sun went down.
Before they moved in, Carolyn had paid a contractor to put in UV glass and a motorized track for the curtains so they would lock shut when the sun was up, just to be on the safe side. She always worried that her past would catch up with her one day, more over, she did it to protect Morgan. They were all that each other had, more then family, bound by blood.
Morgan entered the room, quickly made up the bed and grabbed the keys off the chest of dressers that would allow access to the nightclub.
Shutting the thick steel door behind her, Morgan made her way to the kitchen. She found Carolyn already into one of the many blood bags they kept well stocked in the fridge.
She watched Carolyn suck the bag dry and reach for another one as she placed the used one in to the biohazard bin that sat near the kitchen sink.
Morgan flicked the switch that turned on all the florescent lights in the unit, causing Carolyn to shut her eyes tight to keep from getting those damn blue spots that always danced across her line of vision.
The flat held little of anything. A leather couch and matching chair were set to one side of what would be considered the living room. A white long fur sheep skin lay on the wooden floor between them. The kitchen was just off set to that with a window cut into the wall facing the adjoining room. A few house plants found space along the walls and in a few corners. Hot water rads heated the space nicely. No dishes filled the cupboards except for a few wine glasses, and a stack of boxes was left in the hall just outside Morgan’s room.
Morgan came back into the kitchen, grabbing a blood bag for herself before Carolyn drank them all.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Morgan popped the cork out of the tube in the top of the bag and started to drink while she waited for Carolyn to respond.
Carolyn rubbed her forehead trying to make sense of what she had seen. She had had this dream a million times before, but there was something different this time. “Not really. It’s Thursday, right?” Carolyn ran her slender fingers thru her hair trying to get rid of the pain behind her eyes.
Morgan nodded her head as she took another suck of her blood bag. “We have a shipment coming in, we’ll have to leave soon for the Cave.”
Carolyn threw the empty bag she was holding, into the bucket. “Please get my outfit ready.” She left the kitchen, making her way down the hall to the shower.
Morgan watched as her long-time friend closed the door behind her and started the shower. She chewed her bottom lip wondering to herself if she should tell Carolyn about her vision she had had, before knocking on Carolyn’s bedroom door.
“I’ll tell her later.” Morgan whispered to herself as she finished her breakfast and planed out her night. If everything went well, Carolyn would have new love in her life, but if everything went bad. Well. Morgan closed her eyes and let the most recent vision replay in her head. She smiled to herself, everything would be fine.
Morgan breathed out a sigh of relief but worry still danced in her eyes for the darkness yet to come.