Enchanted Castle 2
Fandom/Character(s): Vine/YouTube/Thomas Sanders feat. danisnotonfire & AmazingPhil
The sun was going down by the time Napoleon pulled to a stop. We were approaching an area where snow had already begun to fall.
The horse neighed and reared up a bit. I barely held on. “Come on, Napoleon!” I exclaimed. “We have to save Papa!”
After blowing a raspberry, Napoleon continued, but this time at a careful trot.
I became exceptionally grateful that I had brought a cloak as the snow accumulated in my hair. It was getting cold—in June.
But the chill went right to the bone when I heard the wolves howl.
Napoleon whinnied—a high-pitched, terrified sound—and took off down the path. I bent low to his neck, feeling his mane whip my face. He ran through the menacing, snowy woods. I watched for the trees to thin, but they didn’t.
However, they stopped abruptly when we reached a fifteen-foot high stone wall.
An ornate wrought iron gate was hanging open. Napoleon slid through it.
I let him guide himself through an elaborate maze made of hedges that somehow remained green under the layer of white frost.
Looming over the hedge and the wall and the garden was a massive castle.
My jaw dropped.
Once upon a time the castle was probably a grand palace—luxurious and beautiful. But as I rode towards it, I could see that hadn’t been the case for some time. It was missing chunks from the walls and some of the gargoyle-like statues were broken. The stone it was made from was worn and stormy grey though looked like once it could have been purer—like maybe it was covered in dirt or soot.
After only a few more minutes, Napoleon pulled to a stop at some stairs.
I leapt off the horse’s saddle and bolted up the stairs, my boot heels clacking on the stone.
Taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door.
It creaked open.
Gulping, I stepped inside, pulling the strings on my cloak to release the bow so it could hang looser around my shoulders. My heart was pounding so loudly from taking the stairs two at a time and adrenaline from my fear of losing my father that I could hear it in my ears.
“Papa?” I called tentatively. “Are you here? Papa?”
A fire blazed in a hearth wider than I was tall off to my right, giving me enough light to look around at the entrance hall.
It was huge and beautiful, if a bit faded and crumbling. Gold leafing on accents, marble staircase that split in two halfway up to make a circle meeting in a second-floor balcony with doors on either side that presumably led to different wings of the castle, pillars of polished stone that appeared to be marble but I couldn’t quite tell, ornate carvings in the wood of the walls and furniture. It was more magnificent than anything I’d ever seen in my entire life.
But I didn’t have time to admire the beauty of the castle. I had to find my father.
“Look! It’s a girl!”
“Yes, I can see it’s a girl!”
“What if she is the one?”
“The one what?”
“The one who will break the spell!”
The conversation was hissed between two British voices—and given how creepy the seemingly abandoned castle was, it wouldn’t have surprised me if it was all in my head.
But I spun around anyway, my messy hair whipping my eyes.
“Who said that?” I demanded, heart still racing.
There was no one there. Just a mantel clock and a lit candelabra sitting on an end table next to a cushy armchair by the fire.
The candelabra was lit. Someone had to be around to light it. So someone must have been talking.
Slowly I approached the armchair, wondering if one of the voices was sitting in it but I couldn’t see them because the chair was turned towards the fire with its back to me. I was up on tiptoe, making sure the clicking of my boot heels wouldn’t be heard.
There was no one in the armchair.
I heard coughing from somewhere up the stairs.
Gasping—that sounded like the way Papa coughed whenever he caught a cold—I snagged the candelabra from the table and took off after the sound, up the marble staircase and off to the left. I’d return the candelabra to its place on the end table when I was getting my father out of this gigantic, gorgeous, somehow-hidden-from-my-nearby-village-for-years-with-no-one-noticing castle.
I wandered the corridors aimlessly, peering at the paintings and suits of armor as I tried to make my way towards wherever that coughing was coming from.
A door creaked open behind me—I hadn’t even seen it in the relative darkness and the fact that it appeared to be designed to blend in with the wallpaper. I whirled, making the candles’ flames sputter before resuming their pleasant yellow-gold glow.
“Is someone there?” I asked. “Please. I’m just looking for my father. I don’t mean any harm.”
As I spoke, I approached the door and pushed it open properly.
A dark staircase spiraled up one of the towers I’d seen from the outside. My heart rate picked up again in anticipation. I was trying to get control of my fear, but I wasn’t sure it was working.
More coughing came from somewhere up the stairs.
“Papa?” I took the spiral steps two at a time, hitching my skirt up to my knees so I wouldn’t step on it.
In a little alcove of the pillar that made the center of the spiral, a mantel clock just like the one on the end table downstairs sat, not ticking.
Why someone wanted a clock in a spot like this, I’d never know. It seemed weird.
When I got to the top of the stairs, it felt like I’d been climbing for hours. I hadn’t, but I was much more of a reader than an athlete. I didn’t want to admit, but in the moment when my heart was pounding in my legs from the exertion, I was actually a little jealous of Gaston. Panting, with my tangled hair hanging in my face, I looked around.
It was dark, but I could see what looked like a cell against the wall.
“Papa?” I asked again, this one more relieved than panicked.
“Oh, my darling girl! You have to get out of here!” my father exclaimed. I reached through the bars of the cell and took his hand.
“Your hands are freezing! I have to get you out. What are you doing here?”
“No time to explain. You have to leave. I’m here and there’s nothing you can do to change that. But you have to get out before he realizes you’re here!”
“Who?” I hissed, setting the candelabra down to take my father’s hand in both of mine in an attempt to warm it up. My father was shaking his head, terror-stricken and refusing to look at me. His blue gaze was fixed on something over my shoulder.
Slowly, I turned to look.
A giant, hulking shape was lurking in the shadows outside the small circle of light the three candles gave off. “Who are you?” I demanded, voice sounding a lot braver than I felt.
“The master of this castle,” a deep, rumbling voice answered.
“Why have you locked him up?”
“He stole from here.”
“A rose!” my father protested.
I lifted my chin. “I asked him to bring me a rose. Don’t punish him for that. Punish me.” I had no idea where this courage was coming from, but I figured if I didn’t question it too much, it wouldn’t give out on me. Was I still scared? Yes. But my father was getting sick. If he didn’t get to the village physician soon he could get a lot worse. So was I willing to take his place? Absolutely.
“You… you would take his place?” the low voice of the giant figure asked curiously.
“If I did, would you truly let him go?”
“Yes. But you must stay here forever.”
I chewed the inside of my cheek, ignoring my father shouting at me not to do it—that he was old and had lived his life and he didn’t want to lose me the way he lost my mother. I rubbed my lips together and cocked one eyebrow. “Come into the light,” I requested.
The figure seemed to shrink away from me as I stooped to grab the candelabra.
I snatched it up and pressed it forward to see who this mysterious man was.
Not a man at all.