The Black Castle

The Black Castle

A Story by Kaitlin W. Blaylock
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this is a fantasy story I wrote for an assignment. We had to take a portion of an old essay, and completely rewrite about anything from that portion; or change the point of view of an old essay we had written. I re-wrote from a portion of Dead, and here i

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I was frozen. My heart stopped, my breath caught in my chest, and I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. It seemed as if the gods wanted to torment me. Right in front of me stood the most beautiful and terrifying house, if you could call it a house, I’d ever laid eyes on. Solid gray stone spiraled into the desolate storm-ridden sky. The main house, minus the towers, looked to be five stories.

“Ahem,” coughed the stubby manservant next to me. “Would you like to go in, or will you gawk all day?” he sneered.

I took a deep breath and a solid step forward, as we entered my ancestral castle. I didn’t care much for the man, and judging by his expression, the feeling was mutual. He was barely over 4’ tall, looked unhealthily skinny, and had sallow skin with glowing yellow-green eyes. His overall appearance could be summed up as simply creepy.

I turned my attention away from the disgusting creature, and took in the foyer. A beautiful black staircase spiraled down on either side of the massive waiting room. I was later informed that the staircase to the left was forbidden to all without the family Gift. The waiting room contained a number of luxuries, soft leather sofas and chairs, a glorious black marble fireplace, and a black wooden bar complete with ingredients for any cocktail one could ever imagine.

The ugly manservant led me up the right staircase, down a hallway lined with portraits of imperious-looking people, around three corridors, and along a final hallway. I quickly became lost in what is apparently my maze. When we finally stopped, the man produced a black iron key from a hidden pocket, and handed it to me. Puzzled, I looked into his face, then at what he was staring at – huge black iron double doors that matched the key in my hand.

“These are your rooms. None may enter without your confirmed approval. Any unwanted company that attempts to enter will be repelled,” he uttered with malice and contempt.

Sheesh, this place is creepy, I thought. Well duh, said the other half. This is your inheritance from creepy Grammy. “So the creep factor is a family trait,” I whispered, as I stepped forward to open the doors. They swung wide to reveal…darkness? The mystery of Grammy’s family is darkness? Dumbfounded, I stumbled into the black and ran my fingers along the wall, searching for a light switch. Instead, fire erupted along every wall, contained within torches. “Whoa!” I gasped. I have yet to see so much black in one place as I witnessed there. Everything was made of black leather, iron, wool, or wood of the darkest shades. The only color came from the windows of stained glass.

The first room was a sitting room, with accommodations for about twenty people. The next was a dining hall, followed by a ballroom, a bathroom connected to a massive bedroom, and finally a library. My rooms were big enough to hold a town, or so it felt. And absolutely everything was black, right down to the doorknobs.

I circled back around to the only bedroom I’d found, and discovered a small hutch hidden in the wall next to my bed. Were it not for the cracks that formed the outline of the “door,” I wouldn’t have ever noticed it. I knelt on the floor and examined the cracks, and gently pushed, testing the wall. It swung open to reveal a tiny chest filled with ancient artifacts; jewels, titles and deeds, and a diary. Curious, I opened the cover of the diary, and written on the inside cover was my Grammy’s unmistakable handwriting…I’d found Grammy’s diary! That meant I was staying in Grammy’s old rooms. That explained all the black in the suite, but not throughout the rest of the…I mean, my…castle.

I curled up on the chaise, and the fire roared into existence. I opened the diary, and began to read about Grammy. The more I read, the more intrigued I became, until it nearly became an obsession. I have no clue how much time passed as I lay there reading, but I couldn’t stop until I’d read every last word. Once I’d read the thing from cover to cover, I began to think and analyze all that I’d just learned about Grammy, the family, the Gift, and my inheritance.

The castle and all within it had to be in the possession of a woman. Better still, a woman with the Gift. As I was too young to know whether the Gift was mine, Grammy had had no choice but to leave it to me in the hopes that the youngest granddaughter of her only son would be so blessed. Grammy had three children, two daughters and a son. Neither of her daughters had the Gift or children, and her son, my father, wasn’t eligible to receive the family inheritance. He had four children, my brothers and sister and I. Apparently, she who possessed both the castle and the Gift had the world at her disposal, and could thus order it to her liking. Grammy’s mom was one such woman, and it was safe to say that she was solely responsible for the Great Depression. Supposedly, if the diary is to be trusted, she was manically depressed, even though that was not yet a readily acceptable diagnosis for her time.

With all of this information at my fingertips, I realized I had to stay. I decided to accept the castle until the time came when the Gift, should it come to me, be revealed. It is the universal order of things that if by the eighteenth birthday no magic has occurred, the Gift cannot be received. My eighteenth birthday was three months away. I considered spending that time redecorating, but that couldn’t happen without the Gift. The natural state of the house was black, but it could accommodate the wishes of the resident Mage. That’s what Grammy’s family was…a family of Mages. I also considered exploring my new castle, and I did explore the entire right half. When I attempted to climb the left staircase, I was repeatedly thrown across the room. So, I settled on my third consideration: a housewarming party. As I didn’t know anyone in town, I had the manservant gather the entire household (both day and night shifts) in my ballroom, although I had no clue how many people my household included.

Once all were gathered, I announced my decision, and asked that all who resided within a fifty mile radius of the castle to be invited. “Come as you are, but hide nothing of your face. This is to introduce me to the locals, not to host a masquerade,” I announced sternly, yet kindly. And just like that, preparations began. Though hardly seen before, my staff was nearly running over itself.

I settled disputes among the staff to suit my personal tastes. The decorators fought over cool tones of blues, greens, and purples versus pinks, reds, and gold. I chose the blues. The cooks couldn’t decide between duck, lamb, or roast. I chose an Italian cuisine menu of pastas and seafood, which apparently hadn’t occurred to them. The maids fought over who should dress me. Once I had chosen a lovely girl named Aurora, I had to decide the color, style, and length of my gown.

After two weeks of preparation, my party was finally here. Hundreds of people poured into the main ballroom on the third floor, which was triple the size of my personal ballroom. We danced and sang and laughed the evening away. At twilight, I stepped onto the garden terrace to catch some air, when I spotted a young man approaching. He was tall, about 6’2” with a healthy build and defined muscles. His eyes were a deep brown, and he had a charming smile.

I settled myself on a bench beneath the cover of a very large, ancient tree, and watched the waters below. I pretended to ignore him, as he came steadily closer. I continued to gaze upon the ponds when he tapped my shoulder. I turned to face him, feigning surprise.

“Forgive me the intrusion,” he said politely, “but I wondered if you were the gracious hostess of this event,” he bowed to me and smiled.

“Yes, I’m hosting the party. Is there anything I can do for you?” I smiled back.

“Yes, actually, there is. You can dance with me.” He smiled as he said it, but his voice was completely serious. I nodded, and took the arm he offered, as we walked back inside. We talked as we danced, of our families, our lives, and all manner of things. His name was Jacob, and he was the oldest of four sons. His parents had died, his mother of suicide, his father of a broken heart. He lived with his brothers in a two-story house not far from the castle.

When at last I could dance no more, I found myself drowsing on my feet. I fell into his arms, and he carried me up to my room, led by Aurora. I granted him permission to enter, and he gently placed me on my bed, and quietly insured that I was well taken care of, before taking his leave with the other guests. For the first time in my life, I knew what it must feel like to be a princess.

The next morning, I awoke with a start. My eyes opened to find a blue bedroom, not the black I’d become accustomed to. I wandered through my suites, to find each had miraculously changed color. This was the sign I’d been waiting for: I’d received the Gift. Ecstatic, I rolled out of bed, ran down the stairs and skidded to a halt in front of the left staircase. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and braced myself for the flying sensation that came with trying the first step. Only this time, nothing happened.

Emboldened by the lack of reaction, I steadily climbed the staircase. On the first landing, there was only one direction to go, down the hallway. It was lined with doors, and I naturally explored every one. Most of them were tiny libraries, containing magical artifacts within the cabinets and drawers. I slowly wound my way through them, stopping occasionally to read an excerpt of an interesting title. The majority of the books looked old and valuable, with leather binding and tooling.

Beyond these rooms, at the very end of the hall, was a treasury of sorts. Gold coins, swords, armor, jewels, and crowns littered the floor. There was a walkway cleared of any debris that led to a dais. The dais appeared to be empty of purpose. As I stepped upon it, and walked into the center, I noticed a lion’s head knocker on the wall. I reached forward and lifted it gently, to get a better look at the inscription. I blew on it to clear off the dust, and as I began to read, the floor dropped, and I found myself in a hidden chamber. As I rose to my feet, torches burst into life, illuminating a cryptic hallway, devoid of any exits to the naked eye. I walked to the end, and lifted a torch to get a glimpse of the characters carved into the wall. I couldn’t translate or understand the meaning, but I knew it was a language of sorts. I committed the characters to memory, returned to the place where I had dropped, and visualized what exactly I wanted to happen. Moments later, I was staring at the dais again from the doorway to the room. I turned and ran back to the first tiny library, and began to read every book.

It took me months to read every book in every room on that hallway, but I accomplished what I’d set out to do: I’d discovered the meaning and origin of the language written on the wall. They were symbols used by Alchemists in the early centuries of magic. The primary purpose of the symbols was to record formulas and warnings that one practitioner would want to keep secret from the majority of the outside world. I had also discovered a book on translation and dictionary in one of the libraries, and carried it with me at all times. I slept with it under my pillow. It was never off my person or out of my sight.

During those months, Jacob visited often, sometimes twice a day. It was a very pleasant distraction from my self-imposed studies, but a distraction none the less. His eyes lit every time I entered the same room. His lips curled into an easy smile when he saw how excitable I was to any new theory on my Gift. When I realized I was falling for him, I’d already planned out a suite I thought he’d enjoy. I had the plans finished, the construction was underway, but I had no clue how to invite him to move in with me. So I held off, and kept his affection in my heart.

After I’d studied all that I could, and had committed all that was necessary to memory, I returned to the dais. I lifted the knocker, blew upon it, and landed on my feet in the hallway. I had been practicing the art of free fall in my spare time. The torches burst into life, and I lifted the one nearest me. Instantly, I found myself in front of that same wall. I extracted my book, and quickly translated:

Careful to those who seek the meaning of all, for what shall be discovered here behind the wall. The House of Warren and its descendants may always or never regret, for the soul is independent and hard to protect.

Thoroughly intrigued, I drew with my fingernail the symbol for entry in the center of the wall, below the message. It slid open to reveal even more hallway. I was disgusted to find remains of the once living scattered here and there.

My time in the Warren House had hardened me, so that I was less squeamish and harder to frighten. Part of my personal Gift was an innate knowledge of all types of fighting and defensive techniques. The hall widened into a cave, for all was dirt instead of stone. Here, I found chests. Some old and chipped, others looked to be new and gleaming with metal and lock. At the far end of the cave was a dresser, and within each drawer, I discovered keys. Each drawer contained a different collection of types. The first contained ancient silver, the next gleaming bronze, and the next clean but old nickel, so on and so forth. The last drawer contained a single key made of black iron. I lifted it, and closed the now empty drawer.

Upon close examination, the key was also engraved. I scoured the area for the matching lock or chest, and came up empty handed. After triple checking the area, I went back to the dais, and up the spiral staircase to the second landing. This part of the castle was still new to me.

 

© 2009 Kaitlin W. Blaylock


Author's Note

Kaitlin W. Blaylock
Advanced critique welcome

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Featured Review

His overall appearance could be summed up as simply creepy... and the creepy grammy part was great... lol... i want an all black bedroom with everything black eventhe door knob.

He was tall, about 6'2" with a healthy build and defined muscles. His eyes were a deep brown, and he had a charming smile.
Can you say helllo beautiful?!?!?!

MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE... It was great

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Great start! I think you should put this into a book, this has publishing material all over it!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

His overall appearance could be summed up as simply creepy... and the creepy grammy part was great... lol... i want an all black bedroom with everything black eventhe door knob.

He was tall, about 6'2" with a healthy build and defined muscles. His eyes were a deep brown, and he had a charming smile.
Can you say helllo beautiful?!?!?!

MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE... It was great

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I agree with most of what Rebecca has said, and cannot think of anythin else to add. Very nice story. I am rather interested in seeing how it continues.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was, seriously, the best thing I've read so far on this site. I wanted to keep reading. I think you could make this into a book.

I do have a few suggestions:

*and a black wooden bar complete with ingredients for any cocktail or mocktail one could ever imagine...
**I would omit the "mocktail" part. It's unnecessary.

*the 'door,'
**Use double quotation marks.

*Grammy had had no choice...
*I would omit one "had."

*You can dance with me," he smiled as he said it...
**I would place a period at the end of "me" because you can't smile a dance with him. :) And capitalize the "H" in "he."

I also would make the font smaller on here so it's easier to read. I had to copy and paste this into Word just to read it.

Nice work!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on October 24, 2008
Last Updated on November 4, 2009
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Kaitlin W. Blaylock
Kaitlin W. Blaylock

Cherokee, NC



About
I am a 21-yr-old graduate of Western Carolina University. I live with my Yorkie, Rose. Rose is very spoiled, and I call her my baby. I am pursuing a MA New Media Journalism degree, currently in the ap.. more..

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