Smug and peaceful to the villagers of Bellevedere, except that day when its portcullis opened with groaning arms.
“A mortal?” he mumbled to himself while approaching a ruined automobile covered in tar. When he peered inside, the old man drew back in surprise.
An unconscious young woman sprawled on the driver’s seat. Her cheeks were stained red with blood.
The old man then carried the young woman like a burlap sack, her palms dangled midair and her lifeless form draped across his body. He brought her directly to the castle’s infirmary, if you could call it like that. Human-sized glass jars lined up its walls. Stone tables took up a larger portion of the mysterious room where dried plants were strewn in disarray.
The fray did not end there when a thunderous boom from the drawing room shook the old man from his reeling thoughts.
“Erik! What took you so long?”
“Forgive me, master, but I am rather preoccupied with something you might want to know,” he replied solemnly.
The master was not an ordinary man. High Lord Stefan learned for a long time how rumors were spun. He was known as the legendary phantom who graced Bellevedere with nonsensical horror stories and why no one should take a step inside the Mudwick castle. His face obscured with the same shadows slithering through the walls of his home, the High Lord was a difficult man to be crossed with.
Upon Erik’s approach, he uncrossed his legs from where he sat and stared at the old butler with anger in his eyes.
“Is it now? Tell me, a horrible tourist lost her way through the castle again?”
“It’s her, master, help is needed and I provided knowing that you would consider her, perhaps.”
“For what, Erik? I’ve lost more than once, I cannot take it anymore! Bring her back to the village where she came from and I can spend the night later in peace.”
“I learned how defeat can weaken a man, my lord, but is it too soon to let go of an opportunity as soon as you see it?”
The master sighed in contempt and considered his options. He could keep the woman, for tonight.
Apparently, the said infirmary was not a healer’s room but something altogether entirely. The High Lord approached the door with caution and knocked once, then twice with a louder tap. Utter silence. The ornate door opened with a creak as he studied the woman intently. Seriously, Erik? He mused to himself.
She looked like one of those portraits the servants used to hang along the floor to ceiling walls, with a fine jaw and raven hair effused with a radiant glow he couldn’t quite figure out himself.