Each day that ticks by is like the one before it in this time of the lull. Soulless do not roam the streets openly taking what they once did, as they have been driven back by the strength of the Soulled and the faith of the Devout. At least that is what we keep telling each other. That we the Soulled are stronger than ones without. Assured in our own superiority we walk the streets but even now when we believe in the notion that we have prevailed we avoid the darkness after sunset. Childhood fears of the shadows are not so easy to drive away in the stillness of the night. Darkness awakens within us a primal fear that is hard to ignore. The slightest flickering of light casts long silhouettes of black and that silence that accompanies only makes each whisper of sound echo through us like the scream of a banshee.
We lock out the warnings coming to our ears. The rumors spread from one to another like a plague. Idle hands are the devils workshop and so are idle tongues. Arrogance of superiority abounds, the simple maiden walking down the streets making no mind of the silence surrounding her in the still night air. The sound of scraping gravel catching her attention all too late. The scream blanketing the dark but you cannot hear her cries for you are lost in your own pain and dreams. Your own fears plaguing you during this night, deafening you to the world beyond the walls which hold your bed chambers around you. This night the world hears no evil...
"Silence surrounds you so you cannot hear the screams."
Yet, we are foolish creatures are we not? Coming back within Jericho's Walls, letting down our presences guards. Not all of us but most. A sighting of the Soulless is as common these days as a blue moon. Yet with all things of horror that have passed during the time of humanity a mark is left behind, you can never cleanse all the blood stain from your hands can you? Try as you might a ting of what was remains and so you refuse to look anymore, telling yourself it is just the trick of the light. There is nothing to fear these days outside or within Jericho's Wall. The season is in full swing now and dancing on waves of perfume and silk the parties continue. Self congratulations for a lull well earned. You cannot see it can you? See passed the end of your own powdered nose. Is the world gathered for a final feast? Drink your fill and toast your blindness.
The carvings are on the wall, deep trenches where her nails dug into the brick and mortar, and yet we cannot see them for tonight is a night without awakening. Held within yourself you will refuse to see what is set before you. Delusional to what is about to begin. Remove your eyes and you would see with more clarity than the Fates of old but you will not will you? Comforted by the illusion of the times and the peace in the streets. Tossing and turning do nothing to rise you from your nightmarish slumber. Was there a light? No, empty blackness is there in your mind; hiding in it the moving shadows of what will emerge. This night the world sees no evil...
"Darkness surrounds you so you cannot see the change."
Have you truly forgotten your training? You cannot hear the screams, you cannot see the warnings. There are those out there desperately trying to get you to listen, to get us to listen but it is as if their breath has been cut short. Tongues tied and voices lost to the winds to be ignored by those with the strongest of voices. Is it too late? I beg of you to hear and to see but if you cannot, how can you help? How can you speak the truths which should be dripping like soured honey to your palette? You speak, I know you do but you no longer speak for the dead or the living. You speak to hear your own voice while refusing to hear the voice of others.
Oaths pledged to your masters, deals struck behind closed doors, gossip mongering to gain power and position. Your tongue longing for a taste of succulent meats and perhaps even the taste of another's lips while hiding in the shadows of the garden. Is this what will be happening when the world awakens to something that should have been stopped long before it began. You had your chance and yet you still do not wake. Too lost in your own minds desires to part your lips to truth. Then everything is gone and you still have not spoken. This the world speaks no evil...
"Emptiness surrounds you so you cannot speak the pain."
I hear your breath, even as your chest rises and falls. To me it is like a cry out in the night. Like the scream cutting through the silence coming from my voice. You did not hear my screams but I hear your breath. Mine was cut short, will yours be? Why should your breaths be allowed to be drawn when my screams fall on deafened ears? What truth and justice lays with that? There is none. The innocent are never heard.
Why did you not see me? I was there! So small and fragile. To young to be trained, to old to be defended. Where were you when I needed you? Empty were your eyes! You saw nothing beyond what you wished to see and as I struggled you still could not see me! Refusing to look beyond what was foremost in your mind. I reached for you but your eyes looked straight past me. I was his child and yet you still let me be taken. You never even knew I was gone.
How can you help me now? You heard nothing, you saw nothing, can you speak anything? Into the silence and the darkness I was taken. Call for me... Call for me damn it! Do you even know my name? To much to hope for, is it too late? No, I can still hear your breath, I can still see your face, I can still speak your name. It must not be too late. Help me!!!
"Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Can you save me?"
And into the darkness you go, for now is the time. What lull had been taking over is at an end. The time of the rising as begun and one child, lost, is the key to a salvation even the most heathen pray for in the dark hours of the night. Do not be fooled my children, it will not be as easy as you might think and as you look at the path before you remember that dangers lurk behind each and every corner. The path is clean and clear, white as a newly fallen snow, but as you reach the end it will be stained in the blood of the Soulless and your own. Some of you will fall, some of you will wish you had. For now though, wake... It is the dawning of a new day and London is calling.
March 21st, 1823
@Morose - "Virginia!!!!" The scream cuts through the stillness, willowy trees surrounding you and the evenings fog is rolling in. A cold mist coming up and clamping in around her ankles like tendrils from hell. So cold it feels like it is burning through your stockings and flesh. What is this? "Virginia!!" the scream cuts again and as your head turns you see it. The fog is wrapping like a spiders web around poor little James. Holding him fast. Fight, fight with all that is within you but it matters not how much you struggle, how quickly you cut the fog holding you in place. You cannot get to him in time for it is already too late. You finally see it, he is the fog... He is the Cargast.
@Rivaan - The smell is over powering and you cough, falling to your knees as you try to gasp for breath. Smoke is billowing in from under the door and in the grey you can see the light of flames under the crack in the floor. The heat is building up and the floor gives way, melting into the fires below as she claw and grasp for anything to hold onto as your body hangs below you. The fire is licking at your bare feet and your fingers are slipping from the searing beam you try desperately to hold onto. It is all for not. Your scream is cut short as you fall through the smoke and into the fire.
@mnkee - It was a wonderful day for a duel. The night was ripe and the foe deserved to be punished for the unspeakable crimes. What were they again? You cannot remember but your sword is drawn and you thrust towards your faceless opponent. Such skill and yet it is not enough. The other blade cuts through your one good eye, mimicking the the blind one and sight is no more. A rage fills, a hopelessness and you continue to fight even though you cannot see. Air is all you catch until you feel the steel pierce soft flesh. Victory and revenge is yours but what have you done? A voice rings out to your perfect ears... "Brother..." is the last gasp that comes from the voice of dear Guinevere.
@Sigil - Papal Basilica of St. Peter. The holiest of places the devoted can ever hope to lay eyes on besides the gates of heaven itself. Yet all is silent. The streets are clear and the guards are no where to be seen. Through the courtyard you wander, up the steps, and through the doors. Like a graveyard the once holy place lays quiet as death itself. There is no voice, there is nothing calling you. Not even within. The further you step the less you feel yet you cannot turn back. The faith, the light that called to you is fading and you now rush through the halls seeking out what you once knew with such certainty. You call for God but he does not answer. Into the catacombs you go and in the distance a light shines. Holy Spirit save you, but as you approach and you see into the light... You see the throne of God and it is empty. Nothing but a burned crown of thorns remain. There is nothing left to have faith in, God is gone.
@Sputnik - The smell of salt is in the air and you stand on the bow of a ship, your hands running along the fine grained wood as you look out at the calm seas. A voice rings in through the night and you turn. There, with a bundled infant in her hands is Marianne. She looks brimming with joy as she cuddles your child close to her breast and comes to you. Yet as you step towards her, the world seems to turn upside down as if Cthulhu was just birthed in the waters. The ship tosses in the deep rough seas as the foam billows up. Waves crash on the deck and there is nothing you can do, no matter what you try you cannot stop it, as the mouth of spray comes in and swallows up everything you love. As soon as it comes, it is gone. Nothing remains on deck but you and the seas are calm once again; sated by your sacrifice.
@Lauder - "Your lies brought you to this," is all you can hear. Echoing over and over again in your ears as you stand in an open field of withered vines and broken tombstones. Desolation surrounds you as you look at each tombstone in turn. Each holding a name you know so well. Sheep in your flock, each and every one of them. Each name scratched through. Each tombstone holding one of the seven deadly sins etched into it. You know what it means. None of your flock made it to the gates of heaven. Each is now in the dark ones hands. And so the darkness envelops you for what is worse for a man of god than to never see the light again? Nothing. And nothing is all you can see.
@Pundii - In the halls of literature you sit, at a desk of cherry with fresh blossoms there. Surrounded by all the knowledge you could ever wish to have and all that you have already learned. A single lantern flickers on your table that is crowded with books ages old. Sitting up, you open a book and the words you know you should know make no sense. You cannot string them together. Push it aside and another you open. The same. Each boo you push through the lettering gets more and more faded until the pages are blank and turning to dust in your mind. Turning you rush to the shelves, more books. Knowledge abounds but you know none of it. How to speak is lost to you, your legs refusing to move anymore as you have forgotten how to walk. To the ground you tumble on a pile of dust and parchment, face buried against once ink printed pages as you forget even how to breathe.
Dreams are such horrid things are they not? For only your own mind knows your darkest terrors. It makes you relive them time and time again. Digging its talons deep into your psyche and pulling forth things you wish would stay long buried never to think of or fear again. And so this night has been worse than most. Trapped in nightmares that you cannot escape. Feeling as if they were as real in sight and feel and sound as anything you have ever beheld during your waking hours. It feels never ending but nothing lasts forever and so you wake. You are where you laid your head the night before, you know this place and all seems well but can you shake the feeling that what you dreamed was true?
Some of you will fly from your bed to check on loved one to see if they still hold breath, to a window you may go to see if the sun is truly rising in the east. It is. You are in London, the streets are coming to life and your day has begun as it does each day. Or is it as it always was? Yes, of course it is. It is nothing a spot of tea or fresh air cannot fix, right? Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
Location: Wyndham Estate near Hyde Park
The house is located near Hyde Park in the wealthier end of London. It is three stories high. On the main floor entering from the street there is the Foyer. On the left is the siting room and the formal dining room. On the right is more of a welcoming room as well as the open glassed conservatory, and a study. To the back of the house on the main floor is the kitchen. The second floor consists of private rooms for each of the three daughters and Step-mother. The third floor is the attic and the servants quarters. The house has a wall around it, stables and a garden out back before you hit the alleyway.
The room was dark and the air was thick. Slowly rising from her place on crimson crushed velvet Millicent's dark eyes looked around the faded room. Everything within it seemed to covered in dullness, as if too many years had passed since light had even touched the surroundings. Her slender fingers came to her chest, it felt so tight; as if her corset was cinched several inches to much. Billowing in the back of her throat she felt a cough rising. Wheezing and short of breath it came even though she fought it down. Trying to hold it back but there was nothing to be done.
Each hack, each rough back that climbed from her lungs burned. Her pupils widening in fear as she felt like she was suffocating from the inside. The air was so thick. No, it wasn't the air. It was her. Something deep within her constricting and cutting off her air ways. Stumbling from the couch she crumpled to the floor, gasping for breath she could not draw as sanguine splattered the floor from her lips. Her body trembling as her fingers smeared through the liquid staining the gray tiles.
"Help..." she tried to squeak out but it came out as nothing but a raspy drowning whisper.
Turning from solitary window that had not been there before, a figure looked down at her. Pale and drained of life, blemished skin around the woman's lips. Millicent froze despite the coughing and suffocating. Her mother just stared at her, tilting her head to the side slightly before turning away; ignoring her dying child who attempted feebly to reach for her aide.
Her hand fell to her side, ripping and tearing at the fabric of her gown, trying to pull away anything that touched her, to yank anything away from her skin that could be keeping her from breathing but it did not help. Her bones were growing cold and her joints tensing. Each cough was life lost, each trickle of blood as it consumed her, the way she was told it had her mother. Her deepest fear, drowning in her own blood, unable to draw breath.
Rolling onto her back Millicent stared at the ceiling above her, red trickling down from the corner of her mouth. Her chest rising and falling rapidly as she lay there panting, engulfed in her own wasting away. Beads of sweat on her brow as her face became speckled with another tirade of hacking, splattering her pale skin as she felt the last painful beats of her own heart.
Gasping she shot up, sitting up straight as her hand came to her chest and Millicent looked around her bedroom, the shades covering the windows and preventing any light from entering. Bringing her fingers to her lips she rubbed them frantically and then pulled them away, examining them for any blood. Taking a well earned deep breath she sighed and fell back onto the bed, her head going deep into the down pillow as she stared up to the canopy.
"Was nothing but a dream," she told herself, pushing her tangled curled from her brow and brushing them back. Shaking the heavy feeling away that was still stinging her chest she let her feet fall to the floor, padding into the dense rug which covered her room. Pacing over to the window she drew back the curtains. The first rays of the day were just breaking in the east and much of the city still slept. Few had risen just yet but from those in the street below she could tell that the hour was passed six in the morning. Servants and Maids were out and about, rushing in from the predawn markets carrying fresh meats and vegetables that would feed their masters through out the day.
"Miss Milli, you are up right early this morning you are! Cook is barely fixing the morning scones. Forgive me, I hadn't drawn yer bath yet!" a young girl exclaimed coming in to Millicents room and rushing about to grab Millicents morning gown and rushing it over to her.
"Have breath Abigail. I just woke and far sooner than I had wished this day. Do not fret yourself in such a manner," Milli said in a kind voice as she turned from the window and took her gown from Abigail. Abigail was a new hire in the house, a young girl not more than fifteen years. She was Millicents new Lady's Maid and was working out well in Milli's eyes but the girl seemed to be worried constantly that she would be tossed out on the street if she did not know what Milli wanted even before she knew what she wanted for herself.
"If I may so express it Miss Milli, you look peaked this morn," Abigail said as she stood there, looking at Millicent a tad concerned.
"Was nothing but a dream, now go and fetch the water please," she said, not wanting to go into detail. Abigail gave an untrained curtsy and rushed off without another word. Sighing inwardly Millicent wrapped her arms around herself. She needed her rest but had gotten very little that night thanks to so called dream she had had. Looking over her shoulder at her bed she yearned to crawl back into the cool soft sheets but it was all for not. She was awake now and might as well get started on the day but first she needed to clear her mind.
It wasn't long before Millicent was bathed, dressed, and primped for the day. A cream colored cotton empress waist dress with a dark cornflower blue print on it would do well enough for the day. That even she had enough to worry about, an even down at Almacks. The standard peers and gentry would be expected to be there for another crush on the ton. Millicent dreaded it. Her step mother would be pushing her and her sisters on every titled man in the place. Thankfully right then, the trio were still asleep and most likely would be until nearly the eleven o-clock hour.
Exiting her private bed chambers on the second floor, Millicent made her way quietly down the stairs and around into the kitchen where Cook was busy making the morning breakfast and already elbow deep in preparations for later that day. The place smelled heavenly and Millicent was glad that Cook was on top of things. Having a minimal staff to the house in London was difficult but Cook knew what she was doing.
"Well morning to ya Miss Milli! Watch it, back up, don't ya be dipping yer fingers... You little tart! Shoo, out of me kitchen!" Cook bellowed as Milli took a sweep of fresh sugared cream with her finger and popped it into her mouth as she giggled and dashed out the back door. "Bless that girls heart, can't ever be keeping her fingers out of me cooking," Cook said to herself as she rolled her eyes. Abigail laughed lightly as she got to work helping out in the kitchen, trying to learn all she could from Cook.
Millicent ran her tongue over her lips, savoring the sweet flavor as she walked over towards the stables, pulling a small book out of her dress pocket. Breathing in the cool morning air Millicent smiled to herself. She was already feeling more like herself as she went into the stables to check on Artemus. Not so much to check on him for she knew that Gerard took good care of him but she liked to peek in on him in the morning and palm him a sugar cube she had swiped from the kitchen.
Patting her steed down she pulled up a stool and had a seat, reading always cleared her mind. Plopping down on the stool she straightened her skirt before she opened the pages; Pride and Prejudice. It was not often that she read romance novels but after the last few weeks of dealing with her mother and the horrid men she shoved her to she wanted something to lighten her spirits. The book had been good thus far and she was interested to see where the story went.
Feeling a nudge in her shoulder she chuckled lightly. "Yes yes. Right away," she said to Artemus before she began to read outloud. It was perhaps odd to read to a horse but it was how she unwound. The stables were one of the few places she could hide out in away from the house to clear her head and not worry about being bothered. Her sisters hated the smell and her step mother wouldn't dare muddy up her shoes. As far as Millicent was concerned, it was Eden in her backyard.
~*~ "Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved."
"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any."
"Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?"
"I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united." ~*~
Millicent stopped reading, closing the book slowly as she let out of a breath. "Nor I..." she commented to herself as her fingers ran over the cover of the book.
~*~ - Denotes excerpt from Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austin