The Midnight Bride

'How many countless times have I perched by a dreary fire, desperately in need of a decent story to while away the night hours? I was tired and ill from my long journey hither and yet I could not rest. My head felt too full of the wild of the raging moors to settle and I was spooked beyond all my possible sensible wit by the eerieness of my recent journey.'

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1. Chapter One.

 

How many countless times have I perched by a dreary fire, desperately in need of a decent story to while away the night hours? I was tired and ill from my long journey hither and yet I could not rest. My head felt too full of the wild of the raging moors to settle and I was spooked beyond all my possible sensible wit by the eeriness of my recent journey. Alone I had walked, across the endless seas of dark, leering heather, accompanied by nothing but some pathetic fool of a light and my own wandering mind to comfort me. The wind was chilly, continuously gusting across my face and freezing even my prize sideburns, and nor had I felt warm at all, since the evening past, for the inn in which I had sheltered was but the house of a swineherd and I had been itching all morning from the lice which had accosted me as I slept. Since that time, I had been walking, bound on my journey to my residence, and accidentally losing myself after every half hour, until I had finally stumbled upon my destination with no feeling in any realm of my body and quite as little patience, only to find, to my intense annoyance, that the gentleman whom I sought was not in. Instead, some old, hideous form of a hag, evidently a servant, had answered my pleas and had dragged me in from the bleak, rambling countryside as so to apparently compensate for her master’s absence. How he could be absent, however, when he knew acutely that I was to visit him, I was ignorant. I knew very little of him, except that he was now to be my partner in business - he was a lawyer, as is  myself - but how reliable of a lawyer he was I was soon to bear the witness, as, despite him being famous in these parts, I have heard very little of him. He ought not have been absent upon his guest’s arrival, that is all I need to know at this point in time and, being soaked through and freezing, my irritance grew infernal and I became rather sulky as I was lead through the house, fine as it was for such a dismal-looking place.

 

When I had arrived, a sign at the front wing entrance had announced the house to be called Thundermere Abbey, despite the obvious fact that the abbey was not, as its name suggested, an abbey. I had imagined the landlord to be a pure-hearted church goer, as, I flatter myself, am I, however, upon first witnessing the ‘abbey’ I found that I had been mistaken in at least one aspect of that prophecy. The abbey, of course, was not an abbey - possibly it had been knocked down years ago by some devil-loving king and then rebuilt to serve equally blasphemic nobels, remaining under its original name - and I could also tell, for all my mild cleverness, that the owner whom I had esteemed through the depths of my imagination, was not at all as pure as I had estimated him to be, a realization that was backed up by his later discovered absence. But the features that sneaked the master’s unworthiness to myself were those on the house itself and, later, when I had entered the counterfeit place of christ, the servants. The place had been neglected. Ivy, and other creepers which I could not, for the life of me, name, slunk up the sides of the cracked and worn stone; in one place, the wall had entirely crumbled away, displaying a crooked, faded interior within. The lattice windows were unclean, the chimneys had granulated over time and, as I made my way up the front steps, I almost tripped on the uneven, parasite-invaded surface and, to the Lord’s clear embarrassment, was attacked by the Devil enough to swear and storm for several minutes as of my bruised foot. Then, you know what came next, I was greeted by the hag and taken into the house, up yet more dreaded, broken stairs. The interior of the house was equally as damaged and as dirty as the view I had sadly witnessed out the front, yet possibly even more so. First impressions, therefore, are very uncommonly deceiving and this wild, heathen society evidently is proof enough to serve as more than a single piece of evidence on that account. The hag took me up these stairs and, as I followed, dismally, her uly, hunched shape, I began to reflect, once more, on my journey hither. I was still recovering from my hideous shock and here I must and shall be excused enough to relate its contents.

 

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