Lord Alexander Northam
February 1st, 1883 6:59 AM
The dreary dark of the early morning cloud cover kept the manor largely silent. While the staff moved silent, wary of disturbing anything receding into the shadows as the night fled the sun, one member of the family stalked the halls. Feeling the frosty interior of his bed and bedroom Alexander moved like a ghost returned from the otherside of the veil. His footsteps barely disturbed the thick carpets of the hallway as he walked. Moving with purpose he slid by doorway after doorway. Some of them held secrets lost to time, others he know life or death stirred behind them. With hope he would beat the rays of the sun to the kitchen where he could sit in the low warmth of the ovens and enjoy tea in peace.
It was such a strange word and such an elusive concept of late. It was really his own fault. If he had simply let the estate pass into the care of his sister-in-law or one of the other estranged siblings he might have maintained some facade of peace at least. Lost along the banks of the Bosphorus or trudging the sands somewhere. But no...such was not the case. He had come home to dreary old London and then on to the Manor. Drawn as though by some unheard calling. Whispers at the edge of his mind.
It had been a...sullen...homecoming. Dour faces had greeted him and his new bride. Those who had perhaps thought him gone for good. Those whose routine and delicate way of life had been upset by the passing of his parents. And then upset again by his own appearance blushing bride in tow. The thought of Cora being blushing though almost made him snort. The woman was not what he had expected from the file his families solicitor had provided for him. Though perhaps in the end it was for the best. The Manor was a hard place to live and someone with a frailer constitution might have been immediately put out by its. Eccentric. Nature.
Drifting as though on an unseen breeze he made his way through the dining room towards the kitchen. The hairs on the nape of his neck stood on end and he turned slowly as though he were being drawn by some unspeakable force. Turning on his heel he scanned the room eyes dancing across large paintings, white table clothes, and dark hardwood furniture. There was something amiss and his animal brain had picked up on it. The warmth of the kitchen was just inches away. Safety. Security. Tea. It tugged at him. All he had to do was accept. The door of the dining hall was ajar. No doubt a servant had left it so. Perhaps that was all. Three long tables. Eleven floor length paintings. Six dozen chairs. The various essential cabinetry for running a dining room. Turning to the door of the kitchen he put it out of his mind until his hand was reaching for the door. In that instant he frozen and cold sweat prickled across his neck.
The dining room only had ten paintings. Five on each wall…
In a spine tingling wave every hair on his arms and back stood on end and he turned slowly to confront the oddity. As he did there was a gust of air and the door at the other end of the hall cracked shut. Startling he leapt and furriously counted the paintings again.
No eleventh painting. His brain refused to acknowledge what he had seen. He refused to look at the double doors out of the dining hall. There had been no portrait of a tall woman dressed in dark colors. There had certainly been no sight of a dark cloth like the hem of a dress sweeping out the door as he had turned.
Firmly convincing himself of the fact Lord Alexander Northam did the only sensible thing and beat a hasty tactical withdrawal to the interior of the kitchen. There he could rally his nerves and his senses in the safe warm glow of the fire.
It was clear somethings about Manor North would never change.