“Argh!” There was a muffled scream.
Erin had a string of adjectives she could apply to how she felt.
She lay on her bed, thoughts running and face smothered into satin pillows.
She was annoyed about more things to count on one hand, but there only important thing: Sabina.
She had no progressions in seeing her Aunt for months, and it was driving a stake into her chest. There were still so many things she needed to tell her. So many things she wanted her to know. So so so, many things and too much left unsaid. If only she could just see again. Talk to her again. Laugh with her again. Smile with her again.
"Saby," she mumbled.
She'd give the world to see her again, and have answers or clarity. A brief drop of annoyance mixed into her frown.
But there was nothing.
Every time she searched for answers there was nothing except for disappointment.
'Prince Kaelixson-Nier is taking care of her.'
'Don't worry over matters that aren't your concern.'
'Everything is fine.'
"Everything is fine, huh?" she said, angrily smothering her face.
She considered that the same fluff she had been hearing before her parents shipped her off to Marigold's. How could it be, she wondered, even after she returned she was hearing the same things. They could just as well read if off a script.
She huffed, hot air spreading across her squished cheeks.
She just couldn't accept this. No matter if Sabina was ill again, she needed to speak to her for herself. How could she trust their word alone? They were liars, and the best ones too.
She reviewed her thoughts with disdain; her aunt was married to a monster, and she seemed to be the only person who recognized it. All the times he had tried to keep her away by having the Tricipital guards stop her from entering, informally banning her from royal functions, and even threatening to put her head on a pike if she continued to get between him and 'his wife'---she remembered all of it.
Everything that had happened was that 'Blessed Glorified' Prince Kaelixson-Nier's fault; it was his fault that her uncle was sent away to the farthest corners of the Tri-kingdom to the dangerous insurrectionist infested Dread Exclave. It was his fault, Sabina was unwell. Everything was all his fault. She utterly certain.
She could not let him get away with it. But what could she do? It would be no point to show up to the Tricapital knowing Sabina was away in some far-off place hidden away from the rest of the world like a prisoner. She had no intention to leave Sabina such a way, but what could she do?
She had no answers.
But knew she had to try, and if anyone could a mountain it would be her father.
Pushing with her arms she raised from her bed and got to her feet.
She cautiously crept out of her room, the floorboards creaking as she moved. Swallowing, she eclipsed her eyes; the blanket of darkness over the hallway corridor was a firm contrary to the lit room she had just parted from.
It was dark, stiflingly so.
A shiver ran down her spine.
"Uncomfortable darkness," she muttered, surveying the walls for a candelabra to make use of.
Although candles and artificial gas lights lined nearly most of the walls, the moment the sun fell, parts of the house still sunk into the shadows. What unlucky sight, she frowned, for it be one of those nights.
Sighing, she spotted a halfway melted candle flickering in the distance. She pushed up on her tippy toes and grabbed the candelabra; the feeble flames lit up a small radius around her.
She landed back to flat feet. Even with the light, it was still hard to see. Her squinted eyes bounced around the ghost corridor, the silence and darkness permeating.
It was not unnatural for her to be in the dark, yet never was she accustomed to it. Thus, she moved slowly and cautiously, her pace slowed to the consistency of honey. She watched the moving walls, her free hand protectively around her necklace chain.
For a moment, the darkness conjured up imaginations of childhood tales and silly superstitions from whispering nannies and gossiping maids.
'Never look into the third floor's east side room mirror under the moonlight.'
'Never step on your shadow more than twice in a row when passing the gaze of a Sutherton statue.'
'Never pluck roses from any of the manor's gardens at dawn .'
'Never run where the bones of Sutherton bodies rest.'
'Never move without respect, always bow before a portrait in the west great hall.'
Never, never, and ‘Never this, never that, or surely a dreadful it will act.’
Whatever the dreadful it was always was up for debate. In fact, there were many ‘this’ and ‘that’s’ she found herself losing track of which ones were bold faced delusions from servants and which ones were rules old as the Sutherton estate stood.
She paced slowly through the halls that were increasingly darker with every step. Her hand coiled tightly around the candelabra; the small flame appeared to burn weaker as the wax withered.
She swallowed, her was breath shallow yet with every exhale, it shook the weak candle flame.
She wasn’t superstitious, but there were some rooms and halls she preferred to avoid---like the one she happened to walking through now.
She would have went another way if her current route was not fastest although, discomforting.
There was a draft of wind from some unseen distant source. It hissed loudly making her grimace.
Of all the whispers and stories, there was one she fought to forget.
And how could she? It was the only one that was true.
Another waft of wind creeped by her and she shivered on impact with the cold air.
What was she doing? She questioned herself.
Why think of silly childish stories now? She knew they were silly, silly, silly things. But she never could stop herself from thinking briefly on them, especially the one of her grandmother.
Her footsteps moved a little faster, a sickening feeling crawling out from the pits of her stomach.
Naymath Bnova Sutherton.
She never the knew the woman. Nor did she care for her.
It is not the responsibility of the living to think of the dead. But, persistent they are. Indeed, the events that occurred a mere few years ago happened on the very floor she traversed carefully through. The same creaky floorboards. The same dark wallpaper. The same phantom noises of wind and air. And it was dark and cold, just like the night she once heard about as a girl.
A noisy child she was then. She was eavesdropping when she heard the story. She could almost see it now, she visualized it, summoning images from her memory. There was once a wrinkled eye unsightly looking maid with a large mole who could chatter all day with the younger Miss Pedigree. Together they were two cackling hounds, always finding something to whisper and gossip about.
She did not remember how the gossipmongering ladies’ conversation began, but she knew it started first with a mutter, 'On a cool and dark night, not too late in the day for the owl to caw, not too early for rooster to rue. Naymath Sutherton is said to have taken a stroll through the manor south corridor, singing with that lovely voice of hers an awful tune;
'Never be sad, never be mad, if I’m taken too quickly or run too soon, after all my body was meant to be ruined. Said the old, old, hag. Life is too short, and life is too early. Could I not be immortal, am I not worthy? Said, the old, old, hag. If only my God would have mercy, or let me take his place in his stead, for even I to end suffering could work much more swift and curtly. Said the old, old, hag.'
Again and again, she sang her songs. After hour after hour, every ear could hear it, that is until she stopped and busted the windows in the entire hall, only with bare hands and a rock. They all fought to stop her, servants, her husband, and even her only two sons, but who could refuse a woman who claimed to have tasted the flesh of heaven? And who could stop her from jumping to most grisly of death—-'
Erin jumped, turning her head to the windows where a burst of wind smacked the glass.
Nature. It was just nature. She had to reassure herself as she placed a hand over her startled heart.
She was better than letting her nerves get the best of her, and like most momentary delusions that are sudden arising and unexplainable, in the end they're always nothing more imagined.
Exhaling hot breath, she released her necklace and rubbed her arm with a frown,
Childhood things, she remembered, belonged in her childhood.
"Heaven. I must take the alternative way more often,” she muttered, finally making her way down a flight of stairs. Frigid cool air nipped her skin, making goosebumps as she moved quickly; the light, thin, lacey evening dress she was wearing did little to keep her warm. She would have changed, but there was nothing to change into. Her mother had a monopoly on her wardrobe. It was only the responsibility she truly dedicated time specifically for her daughter. She suspected it was because as a Sutherton, she had to look the part. Appearances. Always appearances.
So, in thin or tight pretty frilly dresses she remained.
Breathing out sharply, she scratched the shoulder of her dress as if the fabric irritated her. She was willing to bear it---for Sabina.
For footsteps slowed as she approached the doors to her Father’s study.
She had to talk to him.
She gripped the candelabra, trying to ignore the sweaty feeling suddenly wetting her palms.
He wasn’t going to hear her out, or allow much from her mouth unless she told him about something he wouldn’t be able to deny his attention from, and she had exactly that.
Gathering all of her strength, she raised her fist, managing only to weakly tap the door. "Lord Sutherton?" Her voice came out meeker than she intended. She was squeaking a mouse.
She swallowed again, her mouth suddenly turning dry.
Once more, she lightly made two light taps on the door.
The dark mahogany wood stared back at her, its height imposing over her, while the golden lion shaped doorknobs pounced at her.
Her eyes settled on the doors once more.
One more attempt, she thought.
One more attempt.
She took a deep breath and tried the doorknob.
It was unlocked.
Slowly and carefully, she churned the doorknob and tugged the doors open.
"Lord Sutherton?" she softly said with a weak tongue. "Lord Sutherton?" She swung her candlelight around, illuminating a small corner of the darkened room.
She caught sight of a man's silhouette, and she approached him without a thought.
"Lord---Father." She swallowed. "It's quite dark in here. I almost didn't recognize you." She peaked around the darkness. "The door was open. I figured it would be alright if I-I came in because I had something urgent to talk to you about." She sat the candlelight down on the desk and closed in the distance.
"Father?" Her tongue was caught in her mouth. She reached out, her hand hesitantly landing on the silhouette's shoulder.
The figure turned to face her slowly. They small range of the candle light revealing an unfamiliar face.