150 years ago.
“Look, its snowing!” The young Prince said to the older one as he ran to a window. Being from the a tropical country surrounded by water he had seen the beaches and the beauty of the sea but it was the first time he had been able to realize just how mesmerizing cold can be. Whenever he heard that his cousin was from a place where it snowed and had no beaches and plants like his own kingdom did, he often pitied him. Not anymore. All he wanted to do now was run out of the castle walls and enjoy the snow.
“Eric,” his cousin said catching up to him. The young prince was a handful and Prince Drake’s father insisted that he spend time with the kid. It would be good for future relation he had said. Being prince from far and different kingdoms meant they rarely saw each other even though they were family.
“Adam lets go out and play! Please!” The young prince said as he jumped up and down in his usual happy attitude. Like most of his family, Eric insisted on calling the older prince with his middle name.
“We can not. Our fathers require our presence in the courtroom.” The older prince said sternly. A sad look passed over the young prince.
“But Adam-” he whined but decided not to continue as he saw the pointed look his cousin gave him.
“We can not. Not right now.” The older prince said with a plan forming in his head. He may not care much for the young prince but seeing him sad stirred something in him. Sitting on one of his knees he looked his cousin in his eyes and spoke,”We step out when everyone is asleep.”
To say the young prince’s smile could light up the kingdom was an understatement. For the first time in months even Prince Drake had a genuine smile.
“.. and that’s how we caught cold.” Margaret finished with a tale of her past as she sat on a cold seat in the ice covered garden. A peaceful silent followed.
Lord Wellington had been different for a while and just sat there listening, often giving in his input in form of questions. It was nice to have someone listen even if the person literally wore a cloak full of mystery. Even back at her home Margaret was used to being told or helping while being invisible. People would either go up to Giselle or up to Gilbert or Asher. The only ones who came up to her were ones wanting to be familiarized with her siblings. The same happened in the village and the balls.
“You seem so different today,” Margaret voiced her thoughts without realizing she had done it loud enough for him to hear. Looking up from her feet to the man sitting besides her she asked him a question that nagged her since he had joined her out here amidst the snow,”Do you enjoy the snow?”
“Like it does for you, it does for me. Pleasant memories my Lady,” the lord replied after a moment. Margaret could not help but think he wanted to speak more. Being in a place as lonely as the Wellington manor, it must have some effects. The secrets inside the walls were suffocating for her and she could not imagine what it must do to the man she sat besides. Before she could stop herself she felt her mouth move.
“Be careful what you wish for they say.”
“An odd thing to say, my Lady,” the harsh voice Margaret was used to hearing stated.
“Yes. But something I can now relate to My Lord.” Margaret said looking at the winter birds chirp away. The Lord said nothing. How long had they been out here without a mishap happening like it usually does? Everyday she had spent in the manor something or the other has happened that she had never experienced before. The tale of the Dark Wellington manor would be one she may write down someday and leave for someone like herself to read. It would be for the one who wanted adventure but was stuck amongst the society and things that were expected of her. It would be for the one who wanted something different. The mysteries were yet mysteries but she could not wait to uncover them.
“You are shivering Miss Roland. You should head back inside. I will have someone start a fire for you immediately. ” Lord Wellington stated and stood up. Realizing just then that she was indeed shivering, Meg let the man order the maids as she followed him inside.
Not a minute later she was sitting in front of a fire with a blanket over her shoulders. She was drenched because of the snow and if she remembered correctly Becka had been told to get her a warm bath drawn. She was left alone in her room and only now had she started feeling the cold set in.
“How did your time with him pass?” A female voice came from behind her making her jump a little. “Sorry, did I frighten you?”
“No, no, I was just not expecting someone for a while. Except Becka that is.” Margaret said quickly recognizing the person in front of her as someone who had once drawn a bath for her.
“There are more people working here except dear old Becka Miss Roland, ” the girl said mockingly feigning hurt.
“Yes, yes of course.”Margaret said blushing a little. The girl in front of her looked around her age. Her hair were tied back in a braid and she wore a working gown. Margaret wondered why she hadn’t seen her around more than once before.
“So, how was it like spending time with ..,” footsteps were heard outside and the young maid stopped talking. She looked at Margaret and straightened her back.
“I shall ask again when I am back later. It seems like Becka is coming. Would you please not tell her I am not in the basement but here? Do not mention me to her.” Margaret heard the emphasis on the last part of her speech and nodded. She could not figure this girl out and hoped to ask about her but she understood that Becka may scold her for not being at her duty. She was coming back anyway and Meg would rather have a hot bath than a chat. Still she hoped she had at least caught a name this time.
“Ouch! Stars Alice! Are you putting me in a death contraption? Not so tight please!” Margaret yelled out loud as the seamstress pulled on the cord tightly.
“Hush! Don’t you want to look good for the engagement? Sure you do. Everyone does. Do not fret.” The seamstress instructed not caring for her words. It was the week of the engagement and she would not have anything less than perfect presented in front of the crowd.
Margaret huffed. Apart from the small torture, being with Mrs Weatherly was fun. She was young and energetic in her own way.
“I would have had it not been for the fact that you dragged me her against my will while I was reading. No one messes with a person who is reading.” Margaret said in the darkest voice she could muster. She was reading her favourite book about place far away with prince in disguise, magic and a few sword fights.
“Yes, yes, whatever you say.” the seamstress pulled the threads again knotting them while Margaret tried to catch her breath. She was definitely taking out her anger on her for not coming in one call for the fitting.
Margaret hummed. She wasn’t that much annoyed. She had recently poured her heart out as she wrote to her parents in the library. That’s when she had seen the book and started a new adventure.
“Finally. Now you can stop fretting and go as soon as you are out of the gown. That’s the last of today’s fitting.” Alice said and Margaret jumped up excited which got her another poke of the needle.
“Ugh. Just help me out of this already.” Margaret grumbled sourly and the old lady laughed. She had plans for what she wanted to do now. It did not include getting poked my needles and becoming a clown for the seamstress.
“Let me my Lady,” Becka said as she moved towards Margaret to help. Margaret fearfully accepted the old woman’s help not wanting to stay in the torturous dress any moment longer. She wondered why they had to be like they were. Breaches would be far more comfortable than the corsets she imagined.
“You are no the only one going through this so don’t grumble.” Alice scolded as she helped pull out pins. Not the only one? Did that mean the lord too was getting a garb made?
Margaret didn’t voice her thought, she simply wanted to run back to the library and knew if she did, Alice would find a way to get her back. That lady was not of this world according to her.
“Well then, this is it. After a final fitting tomorrow, you would be able to wear this gown on your engagement. How fun is it?” Alice chirped as Margaret shot daggers at her. Now that she was done she could go back in the far off world of princes and magic.
“Winter froze in fear not having expected anyone to come back just yet. She was hungry and even though it was against the rules set by the queen, she sneaked out of the room till the kitchen. Being a curious little girl, she also sneaked a peak inside the Hall of the Royals knowing fully well that she would be punished if caught.”
Margaret couldn’t breath as she tried to think who it could. Her love for winter was growing with every word she read.
“What are you reading?” Margaret screamed out loud not having expected anyone to speak out or even sneak up on her.
“Do not ever do that again.” Margaret said in a stern voice however she was shaken to core and her heart beated like the wings of the humming bird.
“You should be more aware of your surroundings Miss Roland.” The lord said mockingly.
“You should not sneak up on people Lord Wellington.”
“You win. So what is it that you are reading? Your nose is always in the books.” Margaret was surprised at the curiousness. She wondered how someone could not have read the books he owned.
“I can’t tell you, you will have to read to find out.” The lord stood up suddenly and a loud growl like voice tore through the room. In a second Margaret was pined against the wall.
“Are you trying to mock me!?”
“No, no..! Why would you even think of that! ” Margaret asked scared. Her heart was back to its frantic state. The mood swings of her captor were getting to her.
“How dare you!” The lord yelled and th voice seemed to tear out through out the manor. Suddenly the servants were rushing to see what the ruckes was all about.
Margaret stood pinned against the wall frozen. Her eyes were huge and water. The aura of the lord was scaring her. An odd energy she had noticed before when he is angry was clashing all around her. Unlike the other times she could somewhat comprehend the situation she was in. The light in the library was enough to see something she couldn’t before and feel a stress on her body she didn’t remember from before.
It wasn’t before when like the previous times, she fainted.
She couldn’t forget it. The look, the face. It was like she had looked at the face of death itself.
As she sat on the dirty prison floor as a real captive, Margaret wondered in fear what all the manor held. Not just a few hours ago she had woken up remember everything. The face, the pressure, the fear. Margaret wondered how she could ever forget the nightmare that stains her heart. As she had tried to run away, she was put in here, a dirty underground prison. Again and again she screamed having seen the monster of the castle. Skin a pale white purple and eyes a dark blood red. Veins marred the thin face and sharp teeth elongated as the Lord of the manor had let out a voice so inhumane that everything has been a blur of black dots.
Oh stars, was her first thought of concern. She had sent out a letter not long ago to her parents to come to the manor and now that she knew of the true face of the lord of the manor she wondered what would happen to them. Ignorance is bliss. If only she had been ignorant of everything around her. The ghostly seem of the workers was only a little better than the lord.
Everything was out of place, unreal however a small part in Margaret made sense of it all. Sitting on the dirty cold floor filled with left over pieces of straw, Margaret went over a million things in her head. Being a reader could be bad in situations like this. All the worst possible scenarios from all the books were coming to her. She knew she had no knight in shining armour or a thief in love with her. There was a beast guarding her door to freedom. It’s been doing that for the past month and there were no signs of any savior coming to the rescue.
Anyone who even could muster the courage and determination to come to the rescue was sure to be slaughtered by the beast. Lord Wellington; Talk about a wolf wearing a sheep’s skin. How could such an inhuman being exist beyond folklore.
The past month has been a mix of feeling. From being in her village room reading a book on herbs to having to come to this manor and being told that she was now promised to someone. Was everyone in the castle like the Beast or did the beast keep them as a captive too?
Margaret remembered that once she had fainted when the Beast had gone crazy about the young lady Toby. Whenever the Beast went into a rage or showed a lot of emotions in front of Margaret it seemed that she would faint. The aura surrounding the inhuman Beast was too much for the young body of a human girl.
Margaret doubted that the Beast wanted to eat her as a snack because if that were the case she would have been long gone. Maybe there was a special ritual that consisted of him eating her on the wedding day. Who knows what sort of things go through the mind of the beast. He was a tough one to figure out and an over imaginative mind was doing Margaret no good.
Maybe he would let her go. Maybe he would realize that she was no good to him and if he ate her he would get indigestion. The Beast did not seem to lack any money nor man power. The reason for her to be here were something Margaret could not comprehend. On top of it he hadn’t really treated her badly except making her faint a few dozen times and some crazy things now and then. She did crave an adventure and she was getting it. A mystery far greater than anything she had seen in her life.
A knock broke Margaret’s train of thoughts followed by a familiar voice. “Ms Roland? ”
“Becka!” Margaret exclaimed happily having lost her sanity in the few hours spent alone in the dungeon. She rushed from the corner of the room to the door letting some light into the pitch black room.
“Poor girl, you look horrible. We need to get you fixed up.” The old woman said and a small smile lit on Meg’s face at how concerned the old woman was for her as always. She was almost a mother to her and she couldn’t think of her as a beast no matter what.
Delicious smell filled the air as Becka opened the door and bought in some food along with another person carrying a lamp. Margaret’s mood saddened at seeing only a couple of spoon worth food. Enough to get rid of the growling in her stomach but not enough to fill it up. Margaret wouldn’t mind filling her stomach up to the brim and taking a long nap just to wake up to find it all as a horrible dream.
“I know a lot of things may be going in your mind now but trust me Miss, everything will be alright at the end. Enjoy the meal while it lasts. Lord Wellington would like to meet with you in an hour. ” Margaret shrugged and wondered what will be going wrong this time. All her hunger lost as the key turned in the lock again.