We were curious
In which more secrets are revealed…
Gwen was underwater and breathing. How was that possible? It wasn’t and that was why it was a dream. It was also a dream because she had six fingers on each hand and that was just creepy (her father had told her that if she was ever concerned about whether she was dreaming or not then she should just count her fingers). She was not alone either. A woman was floating opposite her; hair the colour of mud and clothes of eras long passed.
“You are a force to be reckoned with Gwendolyn,” she said, looking at her intently. The water was cool around them and little fish played with her feet.
“How do you know my name?” Gwen chose to say in lieu of her first reaction which was to tell the stranger not to use her full name.
“I know all,” the woman said, “I know that you are going through a time of transition which is very important indeed. This time is for when everything will change,”
The woman chuckled, “I can’t tell you that, it would ruin the surprise of course.” Well that was certainly useful to her, although it just added to the greater mystery, who was this woman? How did she know everything? “But I can tell you something; you are more powerful than you think, your entire world will be flipped upside down but you will survive, and above all do not trust anybody.”
“You have so many questions but I will satisfy your curiosity; they can’t be trusted.”
Then between blinks the woman was gone and Gwen was left alone in the water. Words whispered around her and Gwen grew slightly terrified. What scared her the most was what the whispers were saying – I’m sorry. But what were they sorry for?
Gwen flung herself up from her bed and she awoke with a scream. She clung to her blankets, then she tore them away from her skin, they were sweat sodden and as she turned she noticed her pillow was wet with her tears. As she lay there trying to regain her steady breathing, she suddenly felt sick. Hauling herself up on unsteady legs she stumbled towards the bathroom and as she barely reached it she fell to her knees and retched into the porcelain bowl of the toilet. That was so gross, she thought as she rested her head against the rim and simply breathed. Her breaths seemed to get stuck on something in her throat and she shuddered, trembling so violently that she thought that her phone was vibrating in her pocket and forcing her to mimic its call. Rushed steps stomped down the corridor and the light was switched on. Gwen had to close her eyes because of the brightness and the resultant burn. “Oh, Gwen,” Her Aunt sighed as she quickly cradled her niece in her arms, feeling her head in the process which was clammy. “What happened, baby?” Grace whispered into Gwen’s ear.
“Nightmare,” Gwen choked out.
“Want to talk about it?” Grace said as she smoothed down the soaking hair on Gwen’s head. Gwen just shook her head, she didn’t have the words to explain what she had saw in her dream. Why shouldn’t she trust anybody? The dream was so weird that Gwen just couldn’t bare for the words, depicting that dream, to leave her mouth. “You’re not going to school,” Grace said bluntly and shushed Gwen’s poor attempts of protest, Grace went on to explain that she should’ve never went into school yesterday and god forbid if she was going in today.
Eventually, the pair moved to the living room, where the back wall was replaced with a floor length window exposing the countryside beyond the house and they curled up in blankets and they watched the sun rise. Gwen was too scared to sleep, she didn’t want her whole world unearthed again. But if the simple fact that she couldn’t trust anybody unnerved her that much, what did that tell you about what she could handle? Eventually, Grace had to go to work (she worked at a bookstore downtown) and went due the persistent orderings of Gwen. Gwen was then left alone, wrapped up in a lazy burrito of blankets with boring television shows playing on repeat. She didn’t cry and she didn’t smile she just stared at blank notes and wallowed in her bunny pyjamas. Her head going over and over the facts that she had been given. She was well on her own in this mystery, or she would get hurt. Gwen was sure that she would get hurt anyway because the world rarely worked in your favour when you asked it to work correctly in your way.
It must have been hours of her sitting there when there was a knock on her front door. She approached it with a sniffle and a frown, opening it to find Rob standing on her poach. “What are you doing here?” She whispered, her voice small and unused.
“I got worried when you didn’t turn up for school,” Rob said bluntly, swinging back and forth on his heels, his hands stuffed firmly into his pockets and his head swivelling back and forth from her face and behind him, as if he was paranoid about being snuck up upon.
Rob laughed, it sounded more like a dogs bark than a proper human laugh but Gwen preferred it that way, “You’re so not sick, I’ve been told that I have a really talented nose and you don’t smell nor look sick, you just look bored and sad.”
“I don’t want any social interruptions Rob, I just want to – “
“Become less bored?” Rob asked and scratched the back of his neck with a single finger. In one movement he barged past her and into her house. He turned in a circle and surveyed his surroundings only smirking when Gwen shut the door behind him with a muffled sigh. “Now, what you are going to do is go upstairs and get ready and come out with me.”
“Rob I’m not…” Gwen tried but then she was suddenly chucked over his shoulder, the blood pounding in her head as she hung upside down and ignored the view of his backside. She was yelling at him for him to let her go, for him to stop and for all of the above, yet he just chuckled at her and walked up the stairs and straight to the door that he assumed would belong to her room. Surprisingly, he got it right on the first try. He then proceeded to fling her on the bed, making sure that she landed safely of course, he wasn’t that much of an animal. Striding to her wardrobe he rifled through all of her clothes, ignoring her squawks, and picked out several items: jeans, a plain, long-sleeved, white top, jeans, a red flannel shirt and matching red converse. Chucking them at her he moved over to her draws and opened the top draw before she could stop him pulled out a pair of red, lacy underwear. It got the reaction he wanted – that of anger. She rushed over to him, with the speed of light almost, and ripped the piece of clothing out of his grasp, shoving him towards the door. “That is enough,” she said bluntly.
Rob, being the cocky person that he was, just put his up in surrender and left, closing the door softly behind him. Gwen was sure that he was waiting just on the other side though. Still she sighed softly and got ready. “Where are you forcibly taking me anyways?”
Behind the door Ro scoffed, “I’m not forcibly taking you anywhere if you’re actually getting ready and admitting that we’re going somewhere.” He said and then he flinched as he almost got impaled by a shoe, he was glad that there was a door in between him and the feisty red head. “But to satisfy your curiosity, I am taking you to my house,”
“Why there?” Gwen spluttered as she put her foot on her bed to tie her shoelaces.
“Because that’s the best place to be,” Rob retorted, “How long are you going to be?” he asked them and Gwen could hear that he was tapping his foot restlessly on the floor. She imagined him leaning against the opposite wall of the corridor or the door frame, with his hands still stuffed in his pockets and rocking ever so slightly. Gwen stood in front of the door and just watched the wood, imagining Rob and his changing expressions. “You know girls, they take forever to get ready so you should’ve gave me about 30 minutes to get ready.” Gwen laughed then, “You want to take me to your house just to get me in your bed,” she said bluntly. She laughed even harder when she heard him choke on his own breathe and then try to recover in a fit of splutters.
“No, that’s not why – I – “
Gwen opened the door and poked the boy hard in the chest, “I was kidding you dork,” she said and moved past him to the stairs.
“Let’s just go,” Rob muttered sullenly and followed her like a shadow around the living room, where she collected a bag, her phone, her purse and her keys.
“Oh, cheer up sourpuss,” Gwen flew over her shoulder as they both exited the house and Gwen locked the door.
Rob then led the way to a parked car where a man was sitting in the driver seat, a book propped up against the steering wheel. The man had dark brown hair, and green eyes, a sharp set of cheekbones and a stern yet calming expression on his face. Rob opened the back door and ushered for her to get in and still the man didn’t stir from his position, just flipping another page.
“Gwen, this is my dad Beck Williams, dad this is Gwen,” Rob said and even with this acquaintance the man still didn’t move.
“Nice to meet you Gwen,” he said cheerfully and kept reading the book. After a few moments of silence Rob cleared this throat and told his father to go yet his father just held up a hand, “Let me finish this chapter, Robbie, we’re not in that much of a rush,” after that Gwen had to stifle a laugh and put her hand over her mouth to contain it. Rob shot her a look.
“I’m sorry, but Robbie?” Gwen couldn’t hold her laugh back from behind her hand anymore, transforming into a full on laugh. The man laughed along with her and put down his book, storing it in the glove compartment and smirked at Rob as he sulked in the passenger seat.
“Turn that frown upside down Robster,” Mr William’s smiled, his eyes lighting up with his pleasure.
“I have got to say, I’m loving the nicknames Mr. William’s,” Gwen smiled back at him and caught his eye through the mirror.
“No need for the formalities Gwen, just call me Beck. Rob has told me a lot about and by the sounds of it you’re a lovely lady,” Gwen just preened under Mr – Beck’s words, Rob just blushed and then whacked his head against the dashboard, muttering that he just wanted the car ride to end.
Eventually they pulled up to the most beautiful house that Gwen had ever saw. The inside was even better though. Everything looked opulent from the gleaming wood floors covered in loving throw rugs to the sheer curtains billowing like mist on the wall of floor to ceiling windows that faced a slope and a rolling expanse of the setting sky. Nothing else. The furnishing were old but each one had their individual story to tell, so they had to be antiques with what looked like hand carved workmanship. Each area of the room melted into the beauty of the next with some delicate settees next to more heavy bookcases and a fireplace that mated with the walls that appeared to be actually used. Gwen was just in awe.
Then a woman, with light brown hair, the same as the twins, and brown eyes came bustling out of what Gwen presumed to be the kitchen and flung her arms around Beck and Rob. When they departed the woman suddenly latched onto Gwen. Gwen felt cramped yet warm and protected in the woman’s arms, “I’m Elena, Rob’s mother, and I’ve heard so much about you Gwen, you’re such a strong and sweet girl.” Gwen just nodded into Elena’s hair and she missed the contact when they came out of their hug. “Seb, Mel come on down!” Elena shouted up the stairs and then came the twins walking down the stairs,
“It seems that we can never get rid of you,” Melanie stated, inspecting a painted fingernail and shooting her brother a harsh glare when he elbowed her in the ribs.
“Mel!” Elena shouted, and ushered her into the kitchen with shooing motions as she profusely apologized for her daughter to Gwen and then settling the face of a demon on her features. It seemed like it didn’t belong there but Gwen knew that the demon only came out when her children were being stupid.
Gwen messaged her aunt with where she was, she even included the exact address of the house and then Rob took her on a tour of the house. He said that he was thankful that she was there because otherwise he would have been stuck with helping set the table and get everything ready with Beck and Sebastian. Each room was just as beautiful as the rest of the house but what Gwen loved the most was the library.
Walking into the quiet, still library, she could taste the metaphorical strong emotion of thinking and enlightenment. The vacuum cleaner, which was probably now stored inside the large cupboard at the back, hadn’t been silent long, the heat still mildly rising from the task. The atmosphere was buzzing with all things that woke her senses. Gwen was enraptured by the sight of the home of knowledge and wonder, she could smell the place that served as an oven to new ideas, and the final products of imagination. There were rows upon rows of books, and she wanted to do nothing more than touch the smooth binding of ancient and new tomes, to open the covers and start to read the yellowing pages. Words were like little ingredients and Gwen could pull them together to create a potion or a spell that would do so much more, something wonderful. If Gwen strained her ears hard enough, she would hear nothing but the imaginative, quiet, peaceful sounds of pages turning and minds thinking at their best.
Gwen could imaging Elena with her honey-brown hair in a taut bun, wire-rimmed glasses hanging on a silver chain mid-way to her chest, sitting behind the grand oak desk near the entrance and walking erectly to escape its wall. Her face would be serious: no smiles were allowed after all. The only sound would be the soft patter of feet on thick, soft plush carpet, whispers and the occasional hum of a copy machine or printer. The only family would gather there and there would be eternal peace long after they had left again.
The place, always like this, feels like a shelter or a refuge. Warm, abiding, accepting. Gwen imagined Elena walking over to her rowdy bunch of children and saying, much like a librarian would, that they
must conform to "the way..." That's ok of course; that's "how it is."
For a moment Gwen forgot that Rob was there with her and then she found him somewhere near the back, he had left her alone to explore the library on her own. She walked down the aisles of books, touching them and picking a random one up. This book had a fancy cover with elaborate bordering and creative patterns adorning it. It looked to be old as the pages were curled, as if someone had thumbed it a lot too, and yellowing with age.
Everything went so quiet for a moment. Everything seemed to slot into their figurative designated spaces and everything was right. Then everything fell apart. The wind picked up although the windows weren’t open, not even in the slightest, the air grew warm, books started to fall off their shelves, pages becoming dislodged and then fixing themselves all over again. The words of the book that she held in her hands seemed to be in a different language, it was symbols and drawings not words. Then the words slurred, melting down the page. There was whisperings, the same that were in her dream – I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
It was all too much.
Gwen couldn’t breathe. She went dizzy. The severe sense of derealisation came over her. She felt out of her own body and she could practically see herself kneeling on the ground.
Everything weird had stopped but that didn’t quench the feeling of terror in her bones. Gwen then started to get visional snow, that feeling when the eyes started to see their surroundings as though looking at them through a fuzzy TV screen. Gwen couldn't think and she just had this overall feeling of needing to escape. If she didn’t escape, she was sure that she would faint. She started shaking, sweating and twitching sort of. She needed to move. If she stayed still she thought that she was going to die. It was that bad and in her mind she realised that she was having a panic attack yet she couldn’t stop it.
Then she started to hear again. Elena was there, kneeling next to her son and talking to him quietly. Rob himself had placed her hand on his heart and was counting breaths with her. Eventually, she listened to him 1…2…3…4, her breathing slow and her surroundings calmed. She was okay, she was safe.
“Do you know what set it off?” Rob was saying and Gwen just shook her head. Her hand was still on his chest and she found that its steady beat calmed her significantly, it made her feel safe.
“Do you get panic attacks often?” He asked her again and she again shook her head.
“C’mon son let’s get her a glass of water and then some food in her, she looks exhausted and hungry,” Elena said.
“Thanks mom for helping her too,” Rob muttered as he picked Gwen up, supporting her with his strong arms as she stumbled a little.
“H – How?” Gwen stuttered,
“Mom is a nurse and she knew how to help,” Rob answered her.
“Now, you don’t have a valid reason to say that ‘my healing and helping baloney’ is useless,” Elena chuckled and led everybody to the dining room.
Gwen’s panic attack didn’t ruin dinner to say the least.
“The food is delicious, Elena,” Gwen said after swallowing a mouthful of delicious lamb,
“Thank you dear,” Elena replied, “Now, you must have questions to ask of us so fire away,” she chuckled and focused on looking at Gwen at the same time as cutting up her meat.
“I hope that this won’t offend you but why did you move here?”
Beck replied with, “After an illness in the family some information came to light about some lost heirlooms, we believe that they are here and so we moved to search for them,” However, Gwen felt that these words were only half truth. But was that the paranoia from the dream just affecting her judgment?
“Do you mind me asking what these heirlooms look like, maybe I’ve seen them somewhere?”
“I don’t mind at all Gwen,” Beck chuckled, “The thing is that we don’t exactly know what they look like,”
Before Gwen could question further, Sebastian jumped in, “Our Grandfather is a very unusual man and just said a possible location, here of course, and that we would know them when we saw them.”
“But then why were you at the Campfire’s Domain?” Gwen said and looked at the three people in question.
“Yes why were you?” Elena asked of her children and the three of them just groaned,
“We were following a lead about them being in one of the cabins there,” Rob said after polishing off his plate, yet Gwen felt like he was lying, why would he be lying? “Why were you there?”
“Like I said, my father died a while ago,” Gwen ignored the apologies and pity from the family and carried on “That place is a happy memory but also because my father sent me on a treasure hunt of notes obviously to keep me going and make me feel at peace after his death but so far they haven’t really shown something useful.” If they could lie then so could she.
“I suppose that grief is like being a ship in a bottle, trapped and sea sick.” Beck uttered as he too finished off his meal.
That was the one thing that made her father’s last note click. She knew where the next note would be.
Later that night, when Gwen had departed the William’s house after they had claimed that the town was something special, Gwen had headed to her Aunt’s. After spending some time with her Aunt, who was still concerned about her after that morning, she headed up to the attic. The attic was the place where most of the boxes from her home had been stored. One of those boxes stored the shop in a bottle which was a wedding present from years ago.
The attic itself was dusty and a weird place but Gwen had to find that bottle. She searched those boxes desperately, but still managed to be careful as she didn’t want to break anything. In one box she didn’t find the bottle but she found a painting. It was wonderfully and so realistically painted and it depicted a young man, someone whose eyes were gold and magical, his face stern and strong, and his hair a dark brown like that of her father's, and a woman, whose eyes were cold and dark, her hair the colour of coal and lips as red as blood. But it was not what she was looking for, she was looking for that ship in a bottle. She did find it and in the wooden box in which it was stored, she also found the note.
Dear my Wendy,
I’ll get right back to it shall I?
Merlin was a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in Arthurian legend. However, he was also very modest and careful back in the day. Being able to wield magic was something that was frowned upon and many had been killed or persecuted because of it so Merlin hid his birthright talents. Merlin was very powerful, wield all five elements (that is fire, water, earth, air and thought) and so much more yet he hid it in the day and in the night he became known as Emrys, the wizard who protected Arthur and saved him from Death’s clutches many of times. He evaded capture and did the best he could. But he wasn’t always the good person that narratives prove him to be. He met a woman, someone who he was told to hate because she warped and destroyed lives without a care, her name was Morgana le Fay and she was his downfall. It started when he was tortured and she poured her heart and soul into him. Bewitched him with her thoughts and her love. Eventually, Merlin thought that in order to win the battle between her and rest of Camelot he must come to terms with her. He tried to, oh he tried so valiantly, he became her friend, and he poured his own thoughts and desires into her. He was told that trusting her was wrong yet he never listened.
Some would say that he turned against Arthur and his side and went over to the dark side as you would say. He learned her magic, he found that it made him stronger, he became less modest, more confident, and more risky. He became less of himself. But he loved her and he would do anything for her.
The people of Camelot thought that this was wrong and fought against Merlin along with Morgana and they won. One night, Morgana and Merlin ran for their lives. It was also the day in which Morgana died, her and Merlin’s child died along with her. Merlin, so enraged used his power to send Morgana to Avalon and then he departed from that world himself.
Again you must be wondering why I'm telling you all of this, but there is a point to it. You just have to be patient, and patience was never one of your talents if I do so correctly recall.
There is only one last note to receive and then my story is complete – my resting place is in the world of happiness and in the world of loneliness that is where the X is found.
Good luck and with my everlasting love,
It was only after the letter that she found herself staring once more at the woman in the painting and she realised who it was. The woman in the painting was also the woman in her dream.