Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Shadow Princess- Part 15

Crackling tendrils of flame licked along the walls, yet the room grew so cold Genevieve's fingers numbed. There was little doubt what demon Stephen conjured with his challenge. Her pulse roared in her ears, body quivering in fear. Stephen remained outwardly calm, waiting for the inevitable, realizing his life would eventually come to this. The mirror fogged as unseen breath blew against the glass, the shrouded form of a woman materializing. A thunderous boom echoed through the house as the roof collapsed onto the second floor above their heads. Genevieve couldn't prevent the reflex of glancing heavenward, the goose flesh on her arms alerting her to the outcome she was dreading. No more were they alone in the room. Her lungs stopped working, breath catching, as she watched the ghastly woman in grey standing before the fireplace mantle scant feet fro the man who evoked her presence. Bloodshot eyes simmered with pent up rage festering for countless generations like a necrotic wound. All Genevieve wanted to do was run, but Stephen didn't flinch, locked in a battle of wills with his vengeful ancestor. 
"You had all of my family since your sister living in fear. You got what you wanted for so long. Watched so many suffer as you suffered. Your reign of terror is an an end. I am not afraid of you anymore." 
The shadow princess cocked her head to the side, a terrible grin pulling skin on her skull taut as a bow. A maniacal cackle bounced off the walls growing so loud Genevieve had no choice but to clamp her hands over her ears. The shadow princess raised her skeletal hand and waved goodbye to the last of the Westerfell line just as she had to his mother when she was a girl. Waved goodbye as the mirror over the mantle shattered. Razor projectiles flew into the room. The librarian dropped to the floor, covering her head, glass biting into her skin. It wasn't until the musical tinkling ceased she dared glance up. The shadow princess hadn't moved, the same psychotic smile plastered on her face. At her feet surrounded by bloody glass lay Stephen Westerfell, a growing puddle of crimson pooling from the jagged gash across his throat. Genevieve wanted to scream, wanted to cry, but her body refused to follow her commands. Flame licked across the ceiling, as the fire invaded the last bastion of safety. An icy chill swept across the room, the window behind her unexpectedly blown open by invisible hands. The ghost turned her hateful gaze to the sole survivor and pointed at the window. Genevieve needed no further instruction as she blindly raced for freedom, leaving the horrors of the shadow princess's funeral pyre behind.   

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Shadow Princess- Part 14

The world paused, sounds hushed. Stephen was bruised, knuckles bloody from the sheer number of times he struck the door and windows in vain. Choking plumes of ebony smoke spilled under the door as the fire drew closer turning the structure to tinder. Genevieve was paralyzed, her mind rapidly acclimating to the fact she was sealed in a fiery tomb. Faintly she could hear her name being called, but it was garbled like it was spoken through water, the world drifting further away. 
"Genevieve, stay with me. I need you now."
Stephen's voice rang in her head like a perfectly struck bell as he shook her shoulders once more, jolting her back to reality. The door was a lost cause, the heat warning them both what terrors lay beyond. Their only chance of escape was the windows, but no matter what they threw against the glass it refused to break.
"Stephen, it's no use. She'll never let us go."
Perhaps it was survival instinct as the smoke began to make the air unbreathable. Perhaps it was a burst of courage prompting him to face his fear. Or perhaps it was the heart wrenching dread and despair he witnessed in Genevieve's eyes. Regardless of the reason, Stephen decided to act. He strode with purpose to the massive mirror overhanging the mantle, tearing the covering from it and exposing the glass.
"For too long have you haunted my steps. For too long have I run. I am not running anymore, Violetta. I am not letting you destroy another innocent life. Let her go and take me. Kill the Westerfell line if that's what you want. No more will you be allowed to lurk in the shadows. This ends tonight."

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Shadow Princess- Part 13

Genevieve's footfalls boomed through the house as she raced down the staircase, expertly navigating the darkness. The scream reverberated in her head, her very bones quivering with the aftershock. Whatever embarrassment or confusion she entertained moments ago was set aside. The resident ghost wielded horrendous power, a specter more diabolical than any phantom her wildest imagination could devise. The shadow princess clung to her vendetta against the Westerfell line and there was no predicting what the ghost would do. She had to get to Stephen before it was too late. 
"Stephen, what happened? What's the matter?"
A head popped up from behind the couch, a blur of shadows as Stephen responded to her concern. 
"Nothing. I am fine."
"I heard a scream." 
"It didn't come from me and I heard nothing."
Genevieve could not shake the chill creeping down her spine, getting the sneaking suspicion the shadow princess was up to no good. Without warning a massive bolt of lightning ripped through the house as the door to the hallways slammed shut with such force it sent Stephen scrambling off the sofa in surprise. Genevieve reflexively grasped the doorknob and pushed with all her strength, but the knob did not turn and the door would not budge. Stephen, realizing their dilemma, tried his luck, but to no avail. 
"Stephen, wait," she ordered, laying her hand on his arm. They stood in silence listening to the eerie humming as if a woman was rocking a baby to sleep. 
"We have more pressing matters than the ghost," Stephen announced, voice tight with mounting panic. 
Genevieve followed his gaze to the floor. At first she thought it was her imagination that her hand against the wood felt warmer, but grey wisps of smoke crawled along the floor like children's exploring fingers. The house was on fire. They were trapped.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Shadow Princess- Part 12

Icy particles danced along numb skin, its frigid warning unheeded. The ranging tempest which trapped her in this horrid place continued to howl like a lone wolf, mocking her fervent wish to escape. Genevieve felt ill, wrapping her arms tighter around herself in the darkness of Miss Matilda's second floor study, letting the snowflakes invade through the open balcony door. Unconsciously, she touched the fading ruddy imprints of fingers on her neck. She remembered the lights going out, remembered her investigation of the exposed mirror. She remembered the shadow princess' death grip, but after that everything went dark. She had no memory of what happened next, no memory for that hour forever lost to her. No memory until she awoke next to Stephen in a position she never dreamed she would find herself in. What was clear in her memory was her screams and Stephen's disturbed response which became downright petrified when she related the reason to her alarm to what should have been a pleasurable if not compromising situation. Genevieve had no desire to be alone in this house, but she could not face her friend either and he clearly needed space as well since he rapidly vacated her presence with the oddest mix of embarrassment and fear clouding his countenance. The librarian, for all her love of fiction, preferred facts and reasoned explanations. This situation was incomprehensible to her. What happened during that hour? What had Violetta accomplished by doing such a thing? Genevieve shivered, but it wasn't the ambient frost which provoked such a reaction as she shut the door and drew the drapes. A horrified scream reverberated through the manse, wafting up through the floorboards and echoing off the walls. It was a cry like the fabled banshees she'd read about so often during lonely hours alone in the library...a scream of a tormented soul in horrendous pain.