As our white BMW rounded the corner, I spoke for the first time since I left home,
“Remind me again why I have to live here for the next... what? Half a year?” As my mother turned to me, an irritated expression briefly flitted across her face, before it disappeared.
“I’ve told you several times already. It’s only for four months, and it’s because of... what’s going on at home. Our families going through a rough time right now-”
“Dad’s cheating on you. I get it. You’re getting a divorce.” She continued as if I hadn’t said anything.
“Besides, it’ll be good for you to get out of the city for once.”
“But why here of all places? Why, of all the places on the wide, wide Earth, would you send me to Bardstown, Kentucky‽ It’s absolutely humiliating!” Instantly the amicable look disappeared from her face, and the annoyance Mom had masked fully surfaced.
“Your uncle, Alfred, offered you a place to stay.”
“Yeah, the uncle I never even heard about until almost a month ago. Why haven’t you ever revealed you have a brother before? Huh? You still haven’t disclosed even one bit of information about him even though I’m to be staying with him for four months! Who is he? Why haven’t you mentioned him? Tell me!” Finally, Mother snapped, and pulled over. She turned to me.
“Shut up Jaden! You don’t know everything just because you're a teenage boy! You’re only seventeen! There are more hardships in life then you could ever imagine! My brother and I have had a very rocky relationship, and we are trying to make it up to each other! This is him attempting to do just that! So shut up, be a good kid, and leave me to my own problems, with my husband!” Her jade eyes were bright with fury, and her mouth was set in a hard line. I could tell I had overstepped my boundaries, but, not one to be easily cowed, I rolled my eyes, and looked out the window This vacation was going to be atrocious.
My eyes go out of focus as I sink into my thoughts. In the past, my mother was never like this. Bryn Eld used to be the nicest soul ever. Her face was always open, and warm. Her eyes would shine with warmth and affection. She put a lot of pride in her appearance, so her blonde hair always shone, and she wore nice, ironed clothes.
That all changed when we found out my father was dating another woman. Her appearance was always lackluster at best, she was quick to temper, and always short with me. In my opinion, it because I remind Mom of Father. I know I have her eyes and nose, but his face and hair. My jaw is strong and my hair is a dark mahogany, just like my father’s. It hurt that she took her stress out on me, but I said nothing. Besides, I was a resilient teen, so I could bear it. Even so, I had hope she would be back to herself one day soon, as there were days when things were better.
Nevertheless, my grades slipped, and I wasn't doing so well in my football either. As the quarterback, I always had to be on my A game, but I haven't been for a while. The coach said that if I didn't shape up, I might not make it back on the team, so that was a vexation. Slowly, all my thoughts drifted away.
I looked outside, and practically cowered away. The abode was in shambles. It was of a considerable size alright, but it was falling apart. The support beams were fractured, the water pipes were rusted and visible, the chimney was crumbling, shingles were falling off, shutters were hanging on by a thread, windows were dusty, boarded over, some literally had cobwebs, the yard was mud, and there were gravestones. So basically a haunted house. I walked in and a withered old man in a red doorman suit greeted me.
I followed him inside only for my a man to jump out of the shadows grinning maniacally. He spoke,
“Welcome nephew! I hope you have enjoyed the last few minutes of your stay on Earth! Now for my revenge on your mother!” All of a sudden Alfred pulled an axe from behind his back and swung it toward my neck. And just as it was about to hit me...
I was jostled out of my dream as we came to a jarring stop, throwing me forward and completely reawakening me.
“We're here.” Mom spoke. “Go get your things” I did so, and the moment I closed the trunk of the car, she was speeding away. For the first time, I looked up to what was to be my house for the next four months. It actually wasn't to bad. There was a nice green yard, and the house was in good condition. It was large, white, and had what appeared to be marble pillars on the porch. As I approached the door, I noticed a strange door knocker. It had a burnished silver backdrop of what looked like an ancient family crest with a dragon, unicorn, pegasus, and a...Water drake? The knocker itself was gold with swirls traveling across it, sometime looking like water, air, vines, or flames. All and all, it was a peculiar knocker.
I resent admitting it, but I hesitated quite a while before gaining the courage to hold the ring and bang it against the backdrop. When I finally did, though, it felt as though the sound was echoing throughout it the world indefinitely.
After what felt like an eternity, but was truly only the span of a few seconds, a man opened the door. He appeared to be in his forties, with blonde hair run through with silver. He had laugh lines around his mouth and smile lines around his green eyes. He was thin and fit. Overall he seemed like a pretty cool dude, there was only one problem. He was dressed like he was from the renaissance. He was wearing a dark blue doublet embroidered in gold,white stockings, navy knee length pants, a cape with blue on top, gold underneath, and a golden crown with navy velvet and jewels. To top it all off, he had gold wings attached to the back of his shirt.
All I could do is stand there, my mouth agape. I could tell he was studying me too, and eventually, a quizzical look came into his eye, and he finally spoke,
“What is is that though starteth hither? Is it so different from whence thou-,” the man paused in the middle of his speech in Shakespearean English, then he started back up. “Oh, why yes. I suppose this would be why.” He gestured to himself. His voice was deep and clear. “This would be odd to any sane person. It's just that Ari, well, I can never say no to her, and we had a bet going on, and I had to do this for a week if I loss. Obviously, it was so.” I accepted his alibi, but it was still weird. Was this Alfred? And who was Ari?
After several minutes passed in silence, The man, who I believe to be Alfred, spoke again, while opening the door wider, and gesturing for me to follow. “Sorry about that. Anyway, you must be Jaden? Am I right?” He paused for a moment, allowing me to nod, before continuing. “As I'm sure you've already guessed, I am your uncle, Alfred, but you can call me Al. I assume you're hungry and tired. Ari’s almost done fixing dinner, so you should have just enough time to settle in.” I just nodded, I far too much of a black mood to be friendly. Al led me up to the top of the house to a room with my name on it, and opened the door.
Al bowed jocularly, still playing his character, and walked off, leaving me alone to study the room. It was fairly nice, it had a king size bed with green and gold canopy, covers, pillows, and duvet. The walls were painted a soft green, and the carpets were a color similar to grass, but much softer. There was a wall covered in mahogany bookshelves and books, as well as a alcove with cushions in it connected to the window. The best part though, was probably the bathroom, because after all, what teenager doesn't want his own bathroom.
A few minutes later, I heard Al call up to me.
“Come on down! It’s time for sup- Oh, wait, what’s that?” He seemed to be talking to someone, assumedly Ari. There was a slight pause in which the most probably conversed, then Al began to talk again,
“Right! Come hither! It be supper time!” As he finished, I was already on the bottom floor, so I was following his voice in order to find the kitchen. After all, right now this house may as well be a labyrinth with the way I can find my way about it. I should be given a map for this stupid place! Finally, I reached the dining room, wherein sat Al, and someone else; whose presence I noted, but didn’t care to find out about. Then I sat down, looking at my meal, not even bothering to look up. The food looked... interesting, to say the least. Some sort of stuffed fowl and grilled vegetables. At the clearing of Al’s throat, I finally looked up, and growled,
“What?” He sent a scathing glare at me, and I was stunned. While I hadn't known him long, he didn't seem like that kind of person, so I focused more on him. Al gestured to his left, moving his hands in a circular pattern. Then, after clearing his throat, he spoke.
“This is Ari.” I finally looked to his left to see who was there. It was a young girl, who looked about eleven. There were several, strange things about the girl, but the most sticking was that she looked... Ill. Her face was giant, and her cheekbones were highly refined, as though she barely ate enough. Also validating that theory, was the fact that her arms were as stun as a whip, and so were her legs, and her stomach didn't go out in the slightest. Her skin was pale and sallow, making the dark bags under her eyes stand out in stark relief. Her white-blonde hair was stingy, with no shine. So yes, she looked extremely ill.
However, even with that, her physical state was not what intrigued me the most. No, it was her eyes. They were like bright, molten silver. They practically glowed. There was also a certain depth of wisdom in those eyes. Something unexpected in one so young.
She, had been looking at her plate until then, when she looked up at me, and began to stare at me. I didn’t want to look a way first, but her eyes unnerved me, so I tried to avoid them, and looked to my uncle. After a couple minutes of staring into his deep blue eyes, hoping to make him look away as Ari had done to me, and he didn’t, I voiced the question that was on my mind.
“So, who is she?” He opened his mouth to respond, before he was interrupted.
“She is right in front of you, and able to hear you as well as talk, thank you very much.
” For a moment, I was startled by her voice. It was exactly like most girls’ her age voices. Still slightly rough and high. I guess I expected it to be like her eyes, but I know I should have realized that it was probably just the way her eyes looked. Afterall, mine were quite similar. After a few seconds, she continued.
“My name is Ariana Le Fay.” Suddenly, she grinned impishly, and I became all too aware of just how harshly I was judging her. She was, after all, just a kid. “And yes, I am aware it is the same last name of Morgane from Arthurian legends, that’s why I chose it.” It took a few minutes before her words sunk in, she had chosen her name.
“What’s that supposed to mean Ariana?” I asked. “How could you choose your last name.” All of a sudden, her face paled even more, and it was obvious that this subject saddened and scared her. Ariana answered cryptically, brushing it off.
“Nothing of Importance. Oh, and you can call me Ari. Everyone does.” Suddenly, I became irrationally mad at being repudiated like that. I pushed my chair away from the table, before I had even touched my food. Right now, I wasn’t in the mood, and Al had said Ari had been making dinner when I came in, therefore Ariana made it, which made me want it even less, and I said as much.
“I’m not hungry. I would probably get food poisoned by it anyway. It was made by a child, afterall. So goodnight.” I then stalked out of the room, and up to my bedroom. Once there, I slammed the door, and collapsed into an armchair. I had no idea what made me act like that, and I did regret it. Slightly.
After a few minutes of just sitting in the chair, I got bored. Standing up, I walked over to the bookshelf. I quickly scanned the titles on the spines of all the books. They all seemed like dull, fiction, with titles such as “The War of the World”, “Geography of Earth”, and “A Complete Book of All Flowers to be Found in Kentucky”. Then, I finally found discovered an interesting looking book title, “The Time of Queen Desmonda of the Devils.”
Whenever I do read, I always like to read fantasy, not that I do much. Anyway, it was the only book like it in the bookshelf, so I reached out, and grabbed the book. As I pulled, it seemed to get caught on something, so I pulled harder. It didn’t come out, but as I pulled, I heard a click. After that, just as if I were in some fantasy myself, the doorcase started to turn, revealing a staircase spiraling upwards.