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There was just some insults a girl couldn't take. That was number one on my list. Lord Chamberlain is just.. just.. UHG! I cleaned up my house after they both exited and sat down in my over sized chair. So who wanted me out the way? Rather who wanted my work? They could have had Dal and Nimie kill me, so why didn't they? Why would they go after Professor Pinfeathers? Is it Lord Chamberlain up to his old tricks again?
I look over at my wall of Runes and sigh. I have so many questions and not enough answers. I guess I am on the right track. You are always on the right track when someone wants you out of the way. I was so sure it was Just John. Who could it be? Why is my stomach grumbling? I go over to pantry and realize it's empty! Great! Where can I find food at this unholy hour?
The Crypt Corpse
I don't know how long I stayed closeted in my house trying to figure out the rooms. It seemed as though time passed quickly but at a snails pace at the same time. I was frustrated that I couldn't find a pattern in the Runes. I had tried everything I could think of. I knew I was getting no where fast. I decided to head out for some air and stopped by the Crypt. The corpse in bridal attire always made me a bit skittish but it also peaked my curiosity. I finished poking around, finding a Murder's Eye and headed off to check on Professor Pinfeathers. I found him sitting in the Throne Hall where Lord Chamberlain usually stands.
"Hi there, Professor! How are you feeling today?"
"Hello, Rahia! The wing is healing nicely thanks to you. What are searching for today?"
"I was wondering about the corpse in the Crypt."
"Ah, you mean Rowena."
"She has name?"
"Of course! They all have names and even a story!"
"What is her story?"
"Well, if you have time, settle yourself in. I only know about her from rumors and the gossip mill of the Castle. She has been there for a very long time."
I settled myself on the Door Cache and looked at Professor Pinfeathers expectantly. I didn't have to wait long as he started his tale with a flap of his good wing. It seemed the Throne Hall changed and I was looking at it through some one else's eyes.
It was majestic back in the day. There was an Ambassador at the entrance. He looked at if he came from Cloud City. I saw a very young Lord Chamberlain enter the Hall with a beautiful woman on his arm. They smiled at each other as they parted to mingle with the crowd of guests. I was truly shocked to see the Lord Chamberlain smile. He had never smiled in the year that I knew him only looked down his pointy nose at me. The woman I knew I had never seen. She was vision of golden curls and laughing blue eyes. I watched every single male look in her direction as though cursed no one could take their eyes off of her. I noticed one male in particular looking at her and watched his eyes darken with malice. He wasn't someone I knew from the Castle as it currently was. He wore the brown robes of a monk but instinctively I knew he wasn't a monk. He was playing a part. I wanted to warn the woman to run for her life as she approached him but I also knew there was nothing I could do. I was just somehow watching the past unfold and knew that I couldn't change it.
I watched the two talk for some length of time before there was a loud crack that silenced the Throne Hall. The woman had slapped the fake monk and walked angrily from the room. I heard whispers go around the hall. This was Rowena and tomorrow was her wedding day to Lord Chamberlain. I felt my heart sink as I knew she would never make it to the Chapel. I tried to follow after but my footsteps took me in another direction. I was following behind the fake monk. Had Professor Pinfeathers somehow sent me back into the servant of the fake monk?
"She dares to insult me! I offer her the world, everything she could possibly want and still she prefers that weak pathetic Lord Chamberlain over me," the fake monk bellowed as he slammed up the stairs of the Forbidden Tower.
I didn't make a sound as I took in the room I had never seen before. It was filled with potions, herbs and very odd devices. It had a crystal ball set on one of the tables surrounded by crystals of various shapes.
"She'll never make it to the Grand Altar tomorrow. I have seen to that! As soon as she puts on that veil she is doomed. As for the Lord Chamberlain, I'll make sure he will live forever," the fake monk laughed, "I'll make him wish he had never seen Rowena of the Fae!"
I blinked in surprise, as the corpse in the crypt didn't look Fae but one could never be sure in the Castle. Sadly, the poor body I was inhabiting was the instrument in Lord Chamberlain being turned into a vampire. That night after the Castle feel silent I crept into Lord Chamberlain's room and slipped him a Blood Flow Potion. I tried to fight what the body was doing but I couldn't. You just can't change the past. I watched as the body poisoned the Ambassador and turned the Knight Lords at the Castle Gates to stone. Slowly, I watched as the once proud Castle became as I had once found it. I watched the beauty being drained from the Castle over night.
The next morning, I heard the screams coming from all over the Castle. The Lord Chamberlain was in despair and the Lady Rowena was dead. I wept over what I had done. Oh I did realize that I hadn't done it but the body I inhabited wept all the same. I curled into a ball on my cot in the Forbidden Tower and listened to the wails below. The door to the chambers I was in was thrown open and Lord Chamberlain strode in. The silky midnight hair he had once had was replaced by coarse white hair and the sparkling emerald eyes were red with fury.
"Where is your master? Where? Rowena never kept secrets from me. I know your master has been chasing after he for years! Tell me now and you may live!"
I tried to shrink back into the wall but solid mass can not go through stone. I found myself being dragged out, down the stairs without mercy.
"You will tell me how to reverse this," he commanded, "or I will see you caged forever!"
I couldn't tell him what I didn't know. I only followed my masters commands. There was nothing I could do for either of the. Those words did leave my mouth but he didn't like them. The laughing Lord Chamberlain was gone and in his place was an cold man. He locked me in the Prison Cell at the Castle Gates. I watched for days as workers came and went from my vantage point. I could see the work they were doing at the Castle Vicinity. I watched them build the Crypt and put Rowena's body there. I watched the Lord Chamberlain visit her every night for years. Slowly, my flesh faded away and I became nothing more than another skeleton in a pile them throughout the Castle. The Lady Rowena faded into the mist of time of legend. Lord Chamberlain was never the same. He schemed for years to have the Castle for his own. The potion and Rowena's death turning the once laughing man into nothing but a cold, stone faced man.
I came back to the present with another flap of Professor Pinfeather's wings.
"..and that is the story before Rowena. It's sad, isn't it? If only she had never tried on the veil the night before. If only she had went to her father and told him of the Gnome King's threats," Professor Pinfeather's finished.
"So the Gnome King was the fake monk?"
"The fake monk? I said nothing about a fake monk! Were you not listening," Professor Pinfeathers asked, adjusting his monocle.
"I guess I got a bit lost in time," I said with a shrug, wondering if it was really the Gnome King or if that part was just legend.
I thanked Professor Pinfeathers for the tale and made my way back to the Crypt. I took out a few Irises from my backpack and laid them at Rowena's feet. I swear I could hear a tinkling of laughter from the corpse. I saw Lord Chamberlain coming from the Castle so I hastily made my way into the Tavern. I nodded to the Innkeeper, played my round of dice with the Iron Knight and started wondering about the other skeletons of the Castle. I had learned of three, the Dead Ambassador, the Prison Cell and the Corpse in the Crypt. Was there more like this? Could this give me clues as the what all the Runes actually mean? If only I knew the right questions to ask! The only thing I got from this story was that Lord Chamberlain was once a very happy man. Although, now after many many years had passed he seems to have accepted the fact of being a vampire, embraced it even. All I knew was that he wasn't the purely evil person I had first thought.
"Ha, lost again," the Iron Knight said breaking my train of thought.
"Yes, well you can't win them all," I said and walked away before Canta and the Iron Knight lured me back with a promise of recouping my loses.
I made my way out of the Tavern and stopped short. There was Lord Chamberlain tapping his cane at the bridge. He nodded in my direction, walking towards me. I froze, my face draining of blood, my hands growing cold. The closer he got the more I wanted to flee. Yes, we bickered but it was just my way of dealing with my fear of him.
"Rahia, we should talk," was all he said as he passed me and enter the Tavern. I looked towards the door and the bridge. It was just a hop, skip and a jump to be home again. I could nestle down in my cot with all of notes or I could follow. I followed.
I reentered the Tavern and the Innkeeper just pointed up. So I made my way upstairs, for once the flirty Drunken Skeleton, Hamish, let me pass without a word. Lord Chamberlain was sitting at a table in the corner with Professor Pinfeathers. I didn't stop to wonder how or when that wily bird had shown up. I made my way over and pulled up a chair.
"I'm here, let's talk."
"You asked about Rowena?"
"Well, yes, you know I'm curious about everything in the Castle."
"You didn't think to ask me directly?"
"No," I sighed, knowing I looked as shocked as I sounded.
"I can see why. You fear me, yes?"
"I don't bite," he said with a ghost of a smile, "well not much."
Professor Pinfeathers snorted with laughter and even I had to smirk. I had so many questions for him swirling around in my head but he started talking before any could form on my lips.
"Rowena was the love of my life. She was my other half, the better half. The half that kept me sane and level," he explained and I noticed Professor Pinfeather's wings start to flap, "I had it in my head that the Castle belonged to me and in some sense it did. You know I am related to the Vesnik brothers. Oh, it's many times removed but I'm the real heir. However, I could never claim my inheritance because of the circumstances of my birth."
"Prof, before you flap me back in time let me listen," I glared at the bird. Professor Pinfeathers cleared his throat and settled his wings.
"My mother was a chambermaid in the Castle, a really long time ago. She fell in love with the only son of the Castle. Now this was way before either Vesnik brother was born. They weren't even a twinkle in their great great great-grandfathers eye yet. Anyway, she fell in love but he was betrothed to another. I'm sure my father loved her as well but time has dimmed my memories of what she told me before she passed."
He paused in his tale to take a sip of Blood Lotus Tea and I admit this was the most talkative he has ever been. I was literally on the edge of my seat.
"She was removed from the Castle , of course you couldn't have such a reminder hanging around the Castle. The wife then sent her brother after my mother but he was taken with her beauty. He decided to bite her instead, claiming me as his own. So I grew up in Town but I longed for the Castle. I met Rowena one night at the Chapel. We became friends and things quickly progressed from there. She was there when my mother passed ans she heard the words my mother whispered. You see, the bite didn't turn my mother and it didn't turn me. It just made me stronger, faster and wiser. She told me to actually reach my full power I would have to take the Blood Flow Potion which would unlock the Vampire part of me. I decided not to, for Rowena. Oh, the draw was there but I loved Rowena that much. When the manservant had spiked my tea with it, the choice was taken from me and I turned. It was quick and violent. My heart went to ashes when I learned what had happened to Rowena."
"I'm sorry to interrupt but how did you come to work at the Castle." I asked, praying he wouldn't yell.
"My biological father's wife never had any children so his sister inherited the Castle upon his death. She took pity on me and gave me the job," he said the ghost of a smile back on his lips, " Aunt Ashildr was sweet and loving. When she passed and her son took over, that's when thoughts of taking the Castle entered my mind. Satisfied?"
"Good," he said and waved to Professor Pinfeathers who rustled his wings, "Years started to fade and blend in to one another until I noticed someone leaving flowers on Rowena's grave. I knew all of her family had long since passed. So I became curious as to who it could be. One night I waited and met Discordia Scales..."
Lord Chamberlain's voice faded and for the seconded time today I was whisked into the past. I knew what to expect this time as I watched everything fade.
I took Arabella to the Underground Grotto and spent years with her. I realized that the Lord Chamberlain was right, she was all her mother. She didn't need potions and herbs as her mother before her, all she had to do was command and you would do her bidding. She was powerful. The day she turned sixteen I explained what had happened. She didn't thank me, no she turned me to stone and made me guardian of the Stone Bowl. I watched her grow more powerful and more like her mother. I cried tears of ash but no one paid me any attention. I tried to warn the men that came to court her but I must have been talking to the deaf. She did stay far away from the Blood Flow Potion, she was already immortal in her own right. She didn't need to become a vampire. I watched her trick Anabel into taking it one night but that is another story.
I blinked my eyes as I refocused on the present and Lord Chamberlains voice.
"..I'll never be able to forgive myself. I failed Rowena but I also failed Arabella," the Lord Chamberlain was in tears. I was shocked. No, I was beyond shocked!
"There, there. We can't change the past, old friend only try to repair the damages here and now," Professor Pinfeathers consoled.
"If I had only been there for her when she was younger, maybe she wouldn't persist in changing me into a bat at the drop of a hat!"
I giggled at this because he really did turn into a bat quite often and he was pink when he did so. So much for the fear I always felt when I saw him. He did glare at me at my giggle but I just kept on.
"I guess it is a tad funny. She's only tried to kill me once or has it been twice."
"It is nine times by my tally," Pinfeathers stated.
"That many," Lord Chamberlain smiled, "Well she is still young. Perhaps one day she shall succeed."
"I have a question."
"Yes, go ahead, Rahia."
"The runes in the Castle, what do they mean?"
"The Castle reveals its secrets over time. The more you try to uncover, the more that pop up. The Castle is one glorious mystery and there are always people lurking in the shadows," he said getting up to leave, "It is best to leave them alone until one is ready to reveal itself."
I nodded and watched to the two friends leave. I saw Lord Chamberlain in a different light. Sure, he had done some truly rotten stuff but he wasn't all bad.