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Shroud's Deceit

 
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The High Priestess
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:35 pm    Post subject: Shroud's Deceit Reply with quote

Trodden Soil of Twin Desire
Sat, Oct 18, 1997 11:10


Recoiling fingers of hemlock and ivy snake slowly away from the wrought iron gates of Shroud's Deceit. Licking tongues of animated plants quiver as they pull away from the gentle pulse of the young lad's life's blood. The first to ever cast their mortal steps across this mirrored land. A messenger, an advocate of this realm, with spun golden hair of Gabriel's own hue.

The pale towers of the Keep loom within the boys sight, lapping at the twilight sky just beyond the topiary garden of discarded silhouettes. The young boy stands there, his face canting to the side searching over the ancient lock upon the gate that looks quite useless, yet sacrilegious to overcome. But somehow, the sense that he was invited thus far overwhelms him, and a tiny hand reaches for the latch, as slowly, old metal grates open.

Wide eyes drink in the shadows that breath over him from each side of the neatly stone lined path to the castle's door. Gravel grinds beneath his small leather bound feet as he sways to each side as something opposite him moves or whispers.

Audible swallows and relieved sighs slip out of his tender, exposed throat. Half way there, a caught breath is pushed out quickly, tossing a strand of hair forcefully out of his eyes. Great shadows clime around him, oddly kept bushes watch as he moves, faces of mythical creatures as well as the mundane leer at him. A griffin’s outstretched wing causes his small frame to bend over and regain his quickening pace as it stretches over the width of the path. Strange that he should run through this gallery of terrors towards something that, within itself, seems more ominous.

A fountain, beautiful and pristine in the moonlight (Has the moon risen already?) splits the path in two as it gurgles cool water from the throat of a single dove. A step falters as the young boy approaches, for things move within the water. Copper wonders swim, twist and bob in a fantastic display of artificial life and wondrous skills. Each mockery of life, each *living* creature that makes its home within the clear water seems to have a winding key protruding from its back. The hinges of a water moccasin’s jaw creek beneath the reflecting waters as it devours a brass minnow.

The boy's eyes dart upwards at the lonesome dove, and the flickering eyes of a great serpent glimmer back, water protruding from its endless throat. A skip and a jump toss the boy back upon the path as it converges upon the other side of the fountain to one, gravel strewn route. Black roses spring up besides him, seeming to grow and bloom even as he passes. The endless garden sprouts upwards upon white-washed trellises, covering the walkway at a reasonable height and devouring the night-scape sky. The boy twirls once, he finds nothing but his path and a wilderness of thorns and night dark blossoms. Fully round, oaken doors stand before him, the burnished hinges reaching midway through the door in the semblance of winding flames. The door knocker, a blatant, blackened metal contraption fashioned into the head of a goat knocks upon an iron circlet, with no aide. Sectional horns like a nautilus' shell, infinitely turning in upon itself and segmented rap upon the door in low, bellowing echoes.

The great doors swing open. The boy steps in. Red lush carpet recedes into darkness and far down the hallway, a pinpoint of light sways closer. As the boy watches the flames grow, he stands, nearly mesmerized, and strangely, unafraid. The gleaming lantern is held at the shoulder's height of the woman before him. Auburn hair coils about her as ever-green eyes cast a smile at the boy, a glimmer of malicious intent, the brevity of the change so fast as to go unnoticed by the innocence. Leonine features, exotic and enticing watch him, seem to study him within only the few seconds he stands there, but her attentions are upon him, and him alone, soft, secretive and ...cavernous.

A lilting voice seeps past berry stained lips, a strange accent sing-songs the words that may not have even been in his language, but he understands. "For the parents of the child, I give you this from me and my...Son. Be careful with the box. Please" the voice itself smiles upon him, warm irony. "..make sure this is given to them as soon as you can possibly have it delivered." The boy looks blankly at the woman, and offers the ink ribbon-laden cigar, symbol of his message, and seemingly adequate. Long slender fingers curl forward, spider-like and serpentine as she nods, the night sky itself twists in acquiescence to allow the hand to take the offering. A glimpse of the fabric of her dress, sheer and black covering her arms, allows the boy the uneasy feeling, and he would swear to it later, that something moved upon her skin as that hand was recalled.
"Tell them, they have my best wishes and that I expect to see them soon enough." A charming smile. "Run along now, be swift." She moves as if to turn, the boy motions to do the same before he catches her eyes. "Ah, and lad, it bites." Low, supple laughter follows the shaking of her head. The lantern flames snuff out, and the boy finds himself face to face with oak and the perverse gleam in the face of that metal goat.

Turning the oak box in his hands he moves to open the lid. "Ah ah ah... it's for Sable to open." Just a voice. The boy blinks, and trots off down the gravel path through the strange rose garden, his pace quickening as he rounds the fountain.

Beyond the gates of the Keep he wonders just when it was he had started to run, but concludes it doesn't really matter, he's Out of the garden, and that was good enough. Catching his breath between panting gasps, he starts his way back home, tucking the box within the satchel at his hip.

The spider's web is confirmed in its existence upon this plane, the Keep, hunched and waiting, grins its gothic grin. A vision of dark stone and stained glass.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Cathedral d'innocence
Mon, Nov 10, 1997 18:47



"I know not who built it, but he does deserve your flattering words indeed. And, also, I myself thank you."

There is a darkness that touches flesh and bone. If it was never within your grasp before, it was here with you now. It was foreboding, it was a sense that the things that dwelled here would not only invade the body, but also the mind. As overwhelming as it was, it was wickedly soothing. You tasted it, and it tasted exhilarating, it took care of that formerly unquenchable thirst. It took the base instincts within its arms and it showed them what
it truly was to walk and breath, love and hate, touch and procreate. It wanted you. It was with you, and it was in you.

The door closed behind the lithe woman, and it was indeed the Mistress who closed it. Ever-green fires lapped at her back even as she passed the young woman who stood absorbing her surroundings. Slowly, as if the night would acquiesce to her near silent steps, the room was illuminated. As the dark retreated into its respected corners the room gradually grew into an intricate mockery of the Sistine Chapel. The Rose Window shown in all its glory
as if the dawn were breaking at an unnatural speed. Even as the dusky light grew in dusty shafts there was a sense of emptiness, the cathedral was devoid of crucifixes. For all its spider rafters, for all its deep wood columns there was not a single cross. A connoisseur of old architecture would also note, under a keen eye, that the room was huge, much larger then its French predecessor.

Pewless, the would be aisle was carpeted in ancient weaves of crimson, burgundy and chartreuse. Off in the distance, if attention were to be given to a shadowed corner, a medieval winding staircase of cherry wood and wrought iron spiraled itself upward to a second floor somewhere above the lofty stone and wood ceiling.

Tender is the touch cast upon the woman's arm, hoping to draw attention from would be wandering eyes.

"Welcome to my humblest of homes. Welcome to the Keep- Shroud's Deceit. Would you care for anything to eat or drink?" A smile follows, perhaps it is a smirk or even a ground grin. "And I do mean...anything..."

=================

A morning at the Keep
Mon, Oct 27, 1997 17:40



"Winding paths bring us to each and every crossroad", sultry and quite feminine was the voice as it followed the light as it bent around the corner. A faint huskiness rounded whatever accent it was that this voice held, yet it was quiet, and demanded attention from whom ever would be listening. Things raced for the receding shadows as they were pushed back by the gentle, amber flame nurtured and protected in a shoulder-height held lantern.. These things, however, were not the typical vermin of
Keeps as old as this one, these things didn't slither, or crawl, one could argue whether they were truly there at all. The woman, however, knew better, she knew that many, many things within the walls of her home shirked the light, even the gentle glow of a fire.

"Do they have to believe in us? I find it almost unnecessary for them to know what stands before them, it calls for too many questions, my dear. Who needs a confrontation?" As the light slinked forward it retrieved nothing from behind, the light from the lantern seemed to be only cast forward, it disappeared into the velvet darkness behind her. Spidery fingers of breathing shadows filled the hallway as the woman walked forward. Tiny pinpoints of light, like what looked so much like stars glittered in the darkness behind her- solace in the ichor. The darkness seemed to
waver and flutter but made no noise as it followed, the only sounds in the stone hall were the quiet tapping of silk-wrapped feet on damp stone and the quiet rustling of velvet and eye-lit. Rich burgundy velvet draped the form of the woman, emasculate down the silver embroidery upon its bodice and rich off-white lace along cuff and trim. Sheer petticoat peeked out just beyond the velvet, the mixture of lace and eye-lit; an odd declaration of middle class and nobility. Burgundy sleeves sheathed her arms in skin tight softness and ended in gentle points upon the backs of her hands as silver webbing chains ended the sleeves and connected to silver rings upon her middle finger. The circlets are topped in tiger's eye.
The old-world style of the gown declared some degree of eccentricity, with an odd lack of modesty. Warm light sifted through the lacing's of the bodice and danced along the pale, pale flesh of breasts and stomach, age marred no inch of this woman.
Somehow the silver tapestry upon her chest seemed to center about an ornate necklace with an almost too large ruby within its center. Firelight flashed harshly along the facets of the jewel. At her shoulder a silver triangle enclosed a fireopal carved into an upwards pointing arrow as it clasped the night-scape cloak about her throat, the collar lay loose about her shoulders, the cloak seemingly weightless. A jagged silver necklace encircled her throat tightly, clawlike structures seem to form something of a collar of their own as they reached up and down her slender throat.

"There are very few that could contain the need for knowledge, but just as few would risk all for it."

The spectacle of a woman kept up her pace in the darkened hall, her streaming auburn hair streaked her body in cascades of fiery reflections down past her curving hips where a silver chain dangled the same symbol of her broach upon her thigh. Ever-green eyes searched the floor at her feet almost absently as she walked, seeming to need no guidance within these halls, her thoughts someplace else.

"Ahh, but my Son is like no other male you have ever known." From the shadows before her a crimson rug, long and narrow, began and proceeded down the widening hall. The first doors she had passed on her walk disappeared into the thriving night behind her-an explorer that left nothing behind.

"Arieanna is another case all together, never forget that." her next step paused. She turned on her heel to face a massive oak door to her right, a wrought iron key was drawn up from a pouch at her hip within the confines of her cloak and pushed almost lovingly into a keyhole fashioned into the gaping maw of a lion. The lock protested loudly before the latch gave way and both lion and key disappeared into the aging metal doorhandle. Pale hands with filed, well kept nails painted blackest of reds alighted upon the handle and pushed; as berry stained lips muttered to herself under her breath, the firelight was blown out before the first rays of light tumbled out of the room beyond.
"I trust the new one, you must remember they don't last as long as we do and they are so easy to read, my dear. Of all people to question their ability to judge character." the tone of a disappointed mother.
Multi-coloured light created outlined images across the expanse of the floor. The Three Horsemen road their flame breathing steeds eternally across the expanse of clouded sky. Silk wrapped pillows and ornate tables nearly covered the floor, huddled forms stretched lazily in the dawning light. The woman never preceded further into the room then to stand in the door frame, the hem of her gown grazing flaxen, spiral curls of a young girl-child as she slept besides the door upon a violet, down-pillow. She leaned down, placing the lantern upon the floor and knelt, framed in star laden
sky, to grace a gentle kiss to the creamy brow even as long boned fingers caressed the collar at her throat. Abruptly she stood, yet her gaze lingered upon the girl as her head canted and she watched her chest rise and fall in slowed, sleep-ridden breaths.
The door closed nearly silently, and she pulled the key from the teeth of the beast. "She is efficient, and they suffice." She crossed the hall in darkness and pushed open the door their, the heavy door glided open on well greased hinges. "She takes care of every other thing in my home, that I can not." Ever-green pools fell upon the covered, feminine form upon a high, cherry-wood bed with towering, gilded bed posts. Curtains were drawn closed yet rays of the rising sun fell upon the sheets and glistened
upon waves of golden hair. Standing within the doorway she forgot her unseen persecutor and couldn't help but smile. She whispered softly as she began to close the door. "I'll tell her to bring me the girl after she has risen, she's earned her sleep in these last few days. A wonderful child she is, truly a ....god-send." The malicious smile disappeared as the latch confirmed the closing of the door.

Soft steps padded down the hall, and for the first time her voice was tinged in anger. "My Son's doing's are none of your concern, and you are quite aware of all you need be concerned with." She continued down the hall in darkness, the lantern having been left within the first of the two rooms. The red carpet muted her steps, but soon the muffled echo rumbled through an enormous stone room as the hallway emptied into a grand chamber. Her face glowed with each passing colour as the stained glass wall shone in all it's glory as the light filtered in, the scene danced along
her angular features as she passed through the Hall of Perish.

Ascending the polished, crystal steps upwards she slid into the throne shaped glass encasement. The everburning fire never heated the angular cover and never required any other fuel besides the mosaic floor beneath it that covered the entire expanse of the room. Her night-scape cloak melted around her form and made it look as if the woman sat upon nothing but the heavens and flames. Her fiery hair swirled gently about her as if upon some heated wind even as no warmth rose from the enchanted throne.

"Now...where oh where is that Son of mine." Dark nails rapped in even succession upon the smooth, clear-crystal armrest.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

•†• The Call from Grace •†•
Mon, Nov 24, 1997 18:25



The Keep shivered as the kindred spirit alighted on her highest ramparts. The North Tower's gothic precipice’s groaned in haunted embrace of this woman's nimble weight. Smoky voices -muffled by vast spaces like none other- were whispered and sang their nightly praises to this winged creature that seeks audience with this majestic tear in the real.

The prickling of the sixth sense foretells the infinite smiles that grace the faces of each soul held within every stone of the Shroud.

"She has come, yes."
"The Lady will be pleased, even as she pleases the Three Ladies."
"Vengeance harkens in the North Lands."

"We.....Know......You."

"You are one of us."
"We are all of you."
"We....are your home."

The slightest shift of weight from foot to foot causes all voices to gasp to a halt. The deep grey stones of the North wall stand reverent and awaiting for the motion to change that slow elongating image of her shadow. The sun stretches the woman's shadow over the darkening fields to the south and west of the Keep. Each tortured gargoyle and breathing gutter hisses its silent scream or breathes its evaporated breath out and past the
setting sun. The spindle like minarets watch the sun as it graces the tall, gnarled trees of the north forest and those that line the eastern path.

Red and bloody, twilight's sun dips beneath the horizon of town and trees. The Tower embraces the night first in the eyes of all who dwell in the land. Look to the horizon and you shall see.

And to those who walk its mirrored halls, night and flames never leave the stained glass image of the Three Riders or the brow of the stately, angelic, Morning Star.

"She is waiting."
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Verkehr
Tue, May 12, 1998 13:55



"Darling dear, I do declare you're all too much for me." The voice was familiar, but tinged with the dark German accent.

"Oh, that's it. Brilliance from the captor's mouth" The man raised both his brows. He was gaunt, pale and clammy. Always a pain in his eyes but never its aftermath in his voice. He was thin, and he would have been more handsome had he not been so ill. The woman scoffed softly and shook her head. "Dora, come here." And she did. Her legs had been brushing the floor, pale legs angular with toes splayed in the carpet. With his words she dragged her legs up onto the bed and turned to him. Her night-gown was loose and white as the moon. He was splayed out in the bead, ankles crossed some where under the blankets that covered him. He laid the leather bound book upon his chest, his pen placed atop it. He only wanted her to look at him, and she did as she placed the paper she held atop sheets.

"It's true Franz, you were there before I brought you. You didn't need me."

"They always need you .'Dora'." Dora Dymant lifted her brows, the eyes beneath met him and stole the secret from the glance he now gave to her. She looked down, almost a sad smile twisting her lips, she raised the paper in her hands again. She began to read.

" 'I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us.... We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone who loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.'

That was January 27th, 1904, Fanz. A letter to Oskar Pollak, do you remember? I found you that day. Two years before you received your degree." She was canting her head, a soft light was filtering in through the blinds. It was Berlin light, something so simple was never the same in Berlin these days.

"I remember, 'Dora'."

"You had it then, you didn't need this." She pivoted to place the paper upon her night stand. His night stand. "You didn't need me."

He laughed, the sound turned into a coughing fit. The tuberculosis was killing him even faster then she was. "You, you were always there Dora, casting the shadow of your wings over my work. You just never gave me your name." He remembered the year. 1923 had been beautiful, 1924 would be the death of him.

His eyes had always been dreamy but so penetrating. He had had deep interest in his dreams. When he had found that out, he had sleep-walked his life away. A place where the dream not only still controls its special reality but strongly influences that other reality to which it must inevitably yield. The only thing that seemed to matter to him was his dreams anymore. She was one of them.

Sometimes, sometimes there were regrets. But her words were binding, it was her purpose, her piece of life. She only nodded. "I'll see The Sons made. As you wanted it. They'll be put together."

"No, no 'Dora'. Tell Brod to burn my unpublished manuscripts. I don't want..."

"Ahh, but Franz, that was our deal." Something strange happened to her as the light fell across her. Her hair was like fire in the dawning sunlight. "It's what you wanted back then." She leaned down, she was closer, but it was against his wishes. Something about her seemed to crawl, like she'd met resolution with the dawning of the sun. He saw it in her eyes. They were ever-green. He never remembered that.

He began to speak, but his words met another coughing fit. She touched his lips with a pale finger, his body ceased to quake. That hand slid over his cheek, so sweet, so soft against his sickly skin. She touched his almost olive tinged lips with hers. She tasted of cinnamon. Startlingly sweet. He slept in her taste.

And he never woke up.

"Georg felt forcibly driven from the room, the crash of his father falling to the bed still rained down on him as he fled. On the stairs, which he slipped down as he would a hill, he ran into the cleaning woman, who was on her way up to do the morning tidying. "Jesus!" she yelped, and covered her face with her apron, but was already gone. He leapt from the door and across the road, driven toward the water. Already he clung to the railing like a starving man to food. He swung himself over, like the outstanding gymnast he had been in his youth, the pride of his parents. He was still clinging with a weakening grip when he spied an approaching motor bus through the railings that would easily dampen the sound of his fall; he softly called out: "Dear parents, I have always loved you," and let himself drop.

At that moment an unending stream of traffic crossed over the bridge."

---Franz Kafka's "The Judgement"

-------------------------
** Verkehr, in German, means "traffic", or "intercourse".
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isabelle of Castille
Mon, Nov 24, 1997 18:55



Her violet eyes lay hallow and broken in the image of golden curls and youthful skin-- cream and milk, honey and sunlight. The silver brush of finest comb stroked absently and forgotten, over and over again through perfect spirals of coveted flax. A child-beauty, barely marred by the angular refinements of time in cheeks and chin, her image cast her violet gaze back over the perfection of androgynous innocence. Purity. In gaze and grace, how like an angel.

She slowed in her task of smoothing her curls, the silver brush placed gently upon the cherry-wood armoire. She leaned into the looking glass, her face drawing closer, completely enraptured by her curiosity. What am I?

Her small fingers traced her petal shaped lips, small and demure but full and captivating. How like a porcelain doll. How like the strived for perfections of craftsmen throughout time and space. It took the feral intentions of a Demoness to sculpt innocent beauty with darkest and oldest of loves. Deepest of instincts and most well kept of secrets.

Delicate fingers splayed over the soft skin of her throat. How many times have heated lips sought the skin beneath her touch. How many times has unrepressable moans of untold pleasures seeped past those lips when her small form was crushed against the pale body of her Keeper.

She leaned back slowly, a pale pink flush had brought colour to her smooth cheeks. Her hand fluttered to her side and she sat, staring at herself, still and seemingly somber. Her fingers began to gently toy with the white silk of her sheer and simple gown that graced her barely five foot frame. The dress is loose and flowing, but hardly modest as the languid silk clung hungrily like spilled milk to her small, just forming breasts. Her lithe, and all together childlike form is reminiscent of a water nymph or forest dryad even as she sits humbly before her mirror. Perhaps she was once of the forgotten race that hid in the dark woods of Albion or the dense and hidden places of Gaul.

"Isabelle?", the name is spoken soft and hush.

The girl blinks away the musing cloud from her violet eyes. She clears her throat softly, and in her soft, warm voice that finds itself somewhere between the sureness of womanhood and the innocence of a child, she answers the familiar call. "Please, pátron, come in."

The tall form slipped through the barely open door, priestly robes rustling softly against the crimson rugs that added to the unusual warmth of the stone room. She watched the robed figure enter from where she sat, watching with a quiet intensity that brought years to her youthful face. She did not rise, she watched the graceful motions through her looking-glass. The willowy form was faintly bent, its unseen arms crossed over its chest and hands
tucked and lost within opposite, voluminous sleeves.

"Isabelle, She wishes for you to join Her in Her chambers."

A quiet, caustic anger was futile, a naive excuse for the flush that returned to her pale features. Even as she thought of a long bred independence, (her most appealing quality if you asked the most influential people) she felt the heated hands above her skin. She felt the fierce delicacy of that caress, one of the few she had known. It was intoxicating, she was the only one they had kept, and they were as much of a slave to their whims as she
was. Lips trembled as she rose from her cushioned chair, turning in a sweeping arch to regard the hooded face, familiar, but long lost within the recess of over hung shadows.

There was a silent pause between benefactor and benefactress. Heir and heiress. The loathing and the desire was thick and overpowering in the gothic, dark, and rich room.

She slipped past the robed figure. Leaving her chambers in all the haughty grace of a whimsical child. And as she was lost to the shadows of the hall, her pale hand alighted upon her silk covered breast, her skin afire and her eyes aglow.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The shelf that said "Stale".
6/3/99 2:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time



It was really just a voice. A voice from nowhere but far, far away. It was hushed and hissed in its false urgency. A voice demanding counsel.

"She is mad, and we are in hell because of it."

The voice's polite answer was clipped and British tinged. "We are not in hell, even if some of us had belonged there."

"This is no heaven, and purgatory…. I would have believed it to be less tangible."

"Vigilance. It is the only thing the records ask, and that is what we shall keep. We shall count our blessings and make a note of our stupidity."

"And why should we keep note of it? As far as you know, this is eternity."

"This is no eternity, and if it were even half as long, it would be worth knowing nothing of that Room of Bottles. Even the shadow-mirrors loathe that room, even the insects refuse to breech its walls."

"Oh, but swift end! I would enjoy it!"

There was silence a moment, someone was weeping and there was a great shift. Disturbance that displaced the gasps that were no louder than wind over cobbles.

Hushed was the voice with reason. "Who said that was end? Faces in her eyes, dancers in her mind. Can you fathom what she is? Can you fathom what exactly it is…that we Keep?"

"A Demon. From time Immemorable."

Gasps scattered, the sound of hundreds of voices and conscious entities retreating. They were not entities, not alone. No longer singular, they were the collective. The Breach of silence, the impossible effort that had been given to hold this singular conversation was shattered and torn from the very fabric that was the living stone. For how could she allow each of the stones to breach its mortar and hold councils? The night was never silent
hear, but the foundation would be an uproar. Injustice!

The things that watched severed the individuals. Two more bottles appeared in that room, their light was grey, and they flickered upon a special shelf.

The Keep's walls were quiet again, the souls that made it were tamed and the upstarts… duly rewarded.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Demitasse
3/3/99 6:56 PM Eastern Standard Time



She turned the lock with the key. It groaned and then clicked as any lock would, but this lock was to no summer home nor attic door. This old iron lock lay in an equally old oak door that did not open to a dusty closet, but it did keep something safe. Low phosphorous-like light sifted out of the room, soft like static. Just like static it did bring with it a temporal electricity. This light fought a pillowed battle with the night-velvet folds of her cloak and the cloak relinquished, hissing and snapping its tentacle edges like a night beast cursing a candles' light.

Slipper steps over stone; soft padding, soft like the light. She invaded the faerie tale Strangeness of the room with her cool, brisk contours and distinct angles. The rooms, yes, more than one, had no windows. The light came from jars, hundreds of thousands upon the shelves that stacked thirteen high over every inch of wall. The room had a low stone ceiling, one of the few in the bowels of the Keep. The bottles were all shapes and all different contours, and they each contained some smokey, amorphous source of light.

Closer she stepped and with nearness came the realization (for you, not her) that it was not the bottle's colour that changed from bottle to bottle, but the light sources within. What are they? No, you ask the wrong question. Who are they?

Each shelf had a bronze plaque upon its edge with an inscription. Old and covered in dust beneath each bottle. It didn't matter that they were unreadable, she knew them all.

Smoke-white fingers lifted, talons elongated spindle digits as black ivory slid from the backs of nails even as distance was still being judged. Between claw tips she lifted a bottle who's colour was a soft citron green-yellow. A talon broke the wax seal and skewered the strange cork. Opaque was the air that rose from the bottle, how long had it been trapped within? She could smell the age like a fine wine. It looked like your frosted breath, and it smelled of age and ice. Glacier's cloying.

The light pulsed.

*thud-thump*

She smiled a strange smile

*thud-thump* *thud-thump* a sound, deep and too alive.
The light began to stir inside the bottle like it had been awoken or it was slowly thawing from a chill.

The strong flickers and pulses (could she hear them?) shouldn't have seemed strange. Unobtrusive and so faintly the other jars all held their separate rhythms. Barely noticeable dimming and out of synch with the rest. Had they been in synch, the room would dim and brighten in step... like a heart beat.

Motion in the bottle, and then she lifted the half woken thing to her mouth. The narrow rim of the small neck of bottle touched her soft, soft lips.

She rolled the light over her tongue, emptying the bottle. The light, for a moment, shimmered in her eyes and a circlet above her red brow turned a mimic green. Fire in her eyes had the same colour tongues of flame, and a face was screaming as disembodied hands clawed from the inside...to get out. Your face.

She swallowed the light.

The face was gone.


"Forgive me for my extravagance."

The door to this room closed. Waiting to offer up its secrets again, the next time she dipped her hand into her coffers.


The two flesh fork tips of a tongue licked the taste of a soul from her lips.
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