Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge at Sorchia’s Universe.
Find Episodes 1-8 HERE
“A Cold Spring” by Sorchia DuBois
Episode 13: Magic of the Darker Kind
Stately stewards carried in the main course on silver platters—a savory roast seasoned with rosemary and thyme. The sumptuous fragrance drew oohs and ahhs from the assemblage. Cutlery clinked on the fine china, crystal goblets glittered, and the hall filled with laughter.
Conversation bubbled throughout the room, ebullient as the champagne. Even the older relatives seemed to relax. Though the La Croixs sat on one side of the table and the Darkmores on the other, they chatted across the steaming plates and sparkling glasses as if the two families had forgotten centuries of uneasy alliances before Lucia blasted them apart.
With a flourish, the steward refilled Maddock’s glass with champagne and mine with sparkling apple juice. Maddock touched my glass with his and nodded toward the gabbling, laughing crowd.
“Am I mistaken, or does this seem to be working?”
“As Lord of the Manor, it’s is impossible for you to be mistaken. You are automatically correct in word and action by weight of tradition.”
He nodded in the self-satisfied manner that could infuriate or amuse. “I’m going to like this.”
He leaned closer and I closed my eyes in anticipation of a sweet kiss that never came.
The air grew stifling hot. Conversation silenced. A buzz intensified from a mosquito’s whine to an ear-splitting shriek. Goblets crashed to the floor and chairs scraped on the wooden floor as guests leapt to their feet.
Maddock was the first to realize what was happening. He kicked his chair aside and pulled me up with him. He drug me to the door, pushed me out.
“Get out of the castle? Hurry!” No time for even a kiss.
He bolted back to the dining room. Those closer to the exit were already running. I gathered as many together as I could and spread a protective spell around us. A hot gale blasted through the foyer from the dining room, pushing the castle doors wide open. I shepherded my charges through the foyer, afraid to look back. The massive oaken staircase burst into flames. Waves of heat rose to the heights of New Castle Highmoor, tinkling the crystals of the chandelier.
By the time we crossed the foyer and scrambled down the steps of the veranda into the courtyard, smoke billowed from the turrets and flames licked the windows. I sent them scurrying toward gates but I couldn’t make myself go with them.
Lucia had returned to Castle Highmoor and this time she intended to finish us all. Her screech echoed from the stone walls and the fortified gates. If Maddock hadn’t appeared atop the gate tower, I would have run back inside—would have tried to help.
Eight months later, I sit alone in the garden mud and wish I had.
See you Monday for Episode 14: No Hope