Monday, December 13, 2010

Grimmer Fairy Tales-- Part the Fifth

Judging by the beleaguered faces around the hushed breakfast table, Catalena's eerie visitations had not been a unique experience. One young woman heeded the spirit's warning, fleeing into the night, leaving three to eat their tepid porridge, all three too exhausted to complain about trifles like cold food. Thick soled shoes clomped down the hall towards the dining area. Catalena secretly hoped it was Prince Dragos so she could relate her annoyance and disapproval with regards to his hosting duties and accommodations, but it was the Vizier not the prince who appeared. He exchanged no pleasantries, not even a glimmer of a smile disturbed the harsh lines of his weather-beaten face as he spoke. "You ladies may amuse yourselves as you see fit today provided you remain in this wing of the castle. You are not to leave or wander off into other sections. To disregard my warning is to do so at your own peril." The Vizier turned to depart, but the mousy voice of one of the women halted him. "When are we to see the prince?" she inquired. "The prince desires to see none of you at present, Lady Heleni," the Vizier's answer as abrupt as his exit. Catalena left her chair as he left the room, half her porridge uneaten. "Where are you going, " Lady Vivian queried her dining companion. "The Vizier said we could explore the castle. That is just what I am going to do." Catalena snatched the candelabra from a table as her companions trailed behind. Even during the day, the palace was dark as midnight, heavy curtains restraining the playful sun. They went from room to room, each more deserted and ramshackle than the last except the library which seemed cozy and well-utilized. At the end of the hallway they came to a massive wooden door with a thick iron lock. Catalena was about to open it when Lady Heleni grasped her arm. "Remember what the Vizier told us, Catalena. We are not to leave this part of the palace." "I want to see what lies beyond. If you do not wish to come, you are under no obligation to follow," Catalena responded. The latch clicked as she opened the door and pulled it ajar with all her strength. Spiral stone steps wound down towards a black abyss, disappearing into silent nothingness. Flame cast bizarre shadows along the damp walls as Catalena carefully descended, her frightened companions timidly at her heels. Reaching the bottom, she held the light aloft, examining her surroundings. Rusty shackles hung from walls and metal bars laid into the rock demarcated cells devoid of prisoners. "I do not like this, Catalena. I want to leave," Lady Vivian whispered. Before Catalena could respond, a thunderous bang ricocheted down the stairs as the door slammed and locked. The two women behind her whimpered, but that was not what made Catalena grasp tighter to the candelabra, her heart thundering under her ribs. A deep, throaty snarl echoed from the gloom like the growl of a demonic wolf. They were trapped in the dungeon... and they were not alone.

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