This is part of the story im working on.
Chapter One: The Cold Embrace of Winter
It was winter. The coldest season, lacking of any warmth or love. Especially this winter. The pure white snow covered the rich soil. The soil was rich for one reason, and that reason was that this very blanket of snow covered a family cemetary. The cemetary between the woods and a castle. Which castle, one might wonder, and which family? The family known as the Vivalden's, who had lived in the castle as long as anyone could remember. They had just buried their youngest daughter in this cemetary, Seven year old Sarah. She had filled their days with her warm glowing heart, and kind soul. Until the fever had taken her away from them, the winter engulfing her in its could embrace. Now, little Sarah played in the sky instead of in her playroom in the castle. The castle was emptier than before, as if it had lost a part of its own spirit. Elizabeth Vivalden and Lord Cordelius Vivalden were devastated at the loss of her daughter, especially in such a dark
season. They didn't speak of her, simply choosing to treat their surviving daughter like a princess, making up for what Sarah had lost. Their surviving daughter was the heiress of the castle, She was also the most beautiful fifteen year old in the country, possibly the world. But it didn't matter to her now, she just missed her sister. Victoria Vivalden was no selfish brat, and she didn't enjoy being treated like the only daughter her parents had ever had. She was their first, yes, but not her only daughter. Now she knelt on her sister's grave, wiping away snow then standing again. She brushed some snow off her black skirt, then turned her gaze to her i'll fated younger brother's grave. It was nearly invisible, the stone was so small. He hadn't even been named, as he died right after birth. She went back to kneeling over her sister's grave and whispering prayers. If Sarah was here she would be laughing at the snow falling in Victoria's long hair.
Victoria heard a sudden noise, snow crunching under someone's shoes, and she froze. Her heart was pounding in her chest as the sounds came closer, closer yet. They ceased for a second as something blew past her, then broke into a quicker pace. A red gloved hand snatched up a matching shawl in its slender fingers. Victoria exhaled in a burst as she realized who was behind her.
“Jane! You scared me to death.” Victoria said. When she said the word death, she thought of Sarah and cringed. Jane laughed slightly, wrapping her shawl back around her shoulders.
“I know, I must look a fright.” She agreed. She wasn't right, of course. Jane always looked perfect, and especially in winter. Her pale cheeks were flushed into a rosy color from the cold, and her light blue eyes glittered like the ice on the nearby pond, her black hair was tied back into a braid.
“You never look a fright.” Victoria replied, helping her friend straighten her shawl then straightening her own. She was concious of getting to cold out here, as she might catch the same fever as her sister.
“Psh. You just say that to be nice.” Jane said, then grinned.
“I miss Sarah.” Victoria said, changing the subject effectively. Jane followed her gaze back to Sarah's grave, and nodded solemly.
“I know.” She said, wiping more snow off of the grave with one of her velvet gloves.
“I would do anything to have her back.” Victoria said quietly. She pulled her hair more back under her lace shawl that also covered her head. Her hair was a dark blood red color, which dumbfounded her whole family. Most of them were brunette. She also had green eyes on the verge of being a turqiouseish color.
“I'll see you tomorrow. Mother is taking me to the tailor to get a new dress for Friday's ball. I can't believe your parents are still having the winter ball.” Jane said, putting her gloves back on and starting to walk in the direction of the woods.
“They didn't want to cancel it, since its always happened as long as our family has been here.” Victoria said. Jane looked back at her and nodded, then was off again. In the distance, Victoria could hear a horse galloping away. How had she not heard that before? Well, it was probably the fact that she was engrossed in her own thoughts, which were again drifting back to Sarah.
“She's with the angels now, in heaven.” Victoria whispered, reassuring herself. Sarah had always wanted to visit the angels, ever since Father had bought her that painting of glowing women in white gowns that sparkled like the sun. She remembered the day she'd fallen sick, how she had spoken of the angels..
Sarah had coughed a few times, gazing at her painting as her mother folded some of her dresses.
“Mama, I want to visit the angels.” She had said as she ran a small hand over the painting. She was paler than usuall already, even though she had only just taken sick. Her mother had stopped folding one of her favorite dresses, a dark blue one, to turn and look at her.
“You can't visit the angels until you are very old, child. When God takes you back in his arms.” Her mother had replied, smiling slightly. Sarah had nodded obidiently, smiling back pleasantly. Days later, Sarah was bedridden sick and delirious. The night she died, she said she saw the angels. She had been lying their quietly, staring at nothing as her mother held her hand and listened to every wheeze, every cough, and known that her daughter was going to die. But there was still this blossom of hope, a slight glimmer in the darkness.
“I see the angels, Mama. They want me with them, they want me to come with them. They're so pretty..Mama, They're waving.” Sarah had rambled on quietly, pausing several times to cough and hack. Her mother had listened, then went to her own room to cry into her pillow. Her child was already leaving her, her perfect child. She rushed back to the room as she heard a cough even louder than usuall, but by the time she got there Sarah was fast asleep. Fast asleep in a dream that would never end, her soul had already left. She would never open her caramel brown eyes again, never skip around the house happily. Her mother had just screamed, over and over. She was hysterical, and her father took her back to their room to try to calm her down.
Victoria pushed the thoughts out of her mind, but they just kept coming. They wouldn't go away, they wouldn't leave her alone for just a second. She stood quickly, and paced back to the castle. She entered the living room and found her mother already awaiting her return. Her mother forced a smile as her daughter embraced her stiffly.
“Go warm yourself by the fire.” Her mother said, that fake smile still on her face. Her cheeks looked ready to crack into a frown.Victoria nodded obediently, and sank down on the purple cushion right in front of the roaring fire. It was nestled on an embrodiered rug of red cloth, between a few chairs and a long couch which was long enough for one to sleep on. Victoria watched the fire blazing, and became lost again in her thoughts. She wondered if Heaven really did exist, and if god did, why had he taken Sarah? She was so young.. To young to die, in her opinion.
“I will retire to bed.” Victoria spoke at last, breaking free of her faithless thoughts. The lord loved her, he took Sarah for His own reason which had not yet been revealed.
“Alright, my dear. Goodnight.” Her mother said. Victoria started to leave, but then she stopped and turned again.
“Where's father?” Victoria asked, puzzlement showing on her face.
“He went to the tailors to pick up our new dresses.” Her mother replied. Victoria uttered an inane 'oh' then slowly trudged down the hall. Though she was trudging, she still walked daintily without making a sound, as she had been taught. Her mother's words so long ago echoed through her head. You must not lope around like an animal, Victoria. Small, graceful steps.Victoria smiled a little at that, her smile faded again and she stepped up the stairs. They were also covered with a red rug, to keep one from slipping on the slick shiny wood of the floor. That carpet had been put there after Victoria had fallen and broke her arm when she was a few years old. She kept going along it, then down another hall with its walls lined with doors to other rooms.
Chapter 2: The Claw in the Dark
t he very end of the hall was a slightly larger door, which she tugged on. It opened to reveal a spiral staircase leading to her room at the top of the single tower attached to the castle. From her window, she could see the whole forest, including the ruins of an old church. She loved to gaze down at it, at the statues of weeping angels, strange creatures, and even death himself. It had belonged to a cult once, who worshipped death and all things dead. The group had long since died or been killed off. Victoria changed into a nightgown and hung up her dress in her wardrobe. She shut the wood doors quietly, seeing the knobs that had flowers painted on them clasped in her hands, which were trembling, she realized. She was trembling all over, though she didn't know why. The curtains on her window flapped in the wind, revealing the moon. It was a slim cresent, though it still let light into her room. She tried to keep the curtains from fluttering, but the
wind was clearly determined to chill her room all night. Finally, she gave up and climbed into bed, pulling the covers up to her chin and trying to get comfortable. Another sharp breeze rippled into the room, this one colder than before. Fog was rolling in, and a low drizzle had began. Fog even seemed to be in her room, and she shivered then closed her eyes. She forced herself to think of a meadow full of sunshine, with young cows grazing and the lush grasses blowing in the slight breeze, so unlike this unpleasant icy blast. It seemed to be whispering her name, over and over endlessly.
“Victoria..Victoria..Victoria.” It said, getting closer and closer each time. She resisted the urge to scream, biting down on her lower lip and clenching her teeth. But it kept going, kept getting closer. Then she felt something running something sharp down her cheek. It was a claw, a long black claw. She felt a bit of blood trickling down her face in a crimson line as the claw trailed down, nearing her neck. She tried to scream, to lash out and slap that claw away, but nothing happened. It was like she paralyzed there. She felt as if her heart was about to burst, her veins pulsing with her blood, and that horrible claw still traveling. When would it stop? When it had cut a line all the way down her body? She felt tears running down her cheeks and mixing with the crimson blood. Then, as soon as it had come, it was gone. Her name was no longer being whispered, over and over, and the blood had stopped flowing. She reached up to tenatively touch her
cheek. Nothing, not even a scratch. Even her tears had dried and dissapeared. The fog had cleared, the rain had stopped sprinkling, everything was as it should be. She must have just had a bad dream, or just be imagining it. Perhaps she'd spent to much time at the cemetary. Or maybe she'd gone insane. She then shook her head, laid it back onto the pillow, and buryed her face in it. Tomorrow would be a better day, and maybe it wouldn't be so dark and cold. She' d feel better waking up to warm toast, and steaming eggs. It made her stomach rumble, thinking of it. Finally, with foods swirling in her head and the daydreams of tomorrow, she drifted off into a deep sleep.The sunlight burst into her room like a bullet piercing a heart. It streamed in, golden rays of sparkling light. It was like it hadn't been here in years, though it had only been a small amount of time. The snow outside was melting into a pool of slush, and there wasn't a cloud in the blue
sky. It was like spring had come, though it wouldn't really come until later in the year. She stretched, loving the feeling of the sunlight on her skin as she dressed in her new dress that had come from the tailors. It was laid across her wardrobe, and her father must have brought it in the middle of the night. She didn't bother to call her servants, simply dressing herself as a girl in her early teenage years came in carrying breakfast. As she had thought last night, it was of toast, eggs, and other delicious foods. Her mouth started to water as the girl set the tray of food on a table near her bed. The girl nodded at her in acknowledgement, then left. Victoria ate her breakfast quickly, but she still felt hungry. Her breakfast was always scant, though she did not know why. Perhaps it was so she wouldn't eat to much and bloat herself. She finished the last crumbs of her toast and went to look in her full length mirror at her new dress.
It was a dark red, the same color as her hair. She admired the velvet and silk material, as well as the lace. She did a small twirl, watching the stiff skirts swirl out around her. For an instant, she didn't think of her sister, or anyone else. It was just her, no one would put a damper on her mood today. The sun was out, her dress was pretty, and she was going to go exploring the woods. She slipped her small feet into her matching shoes, then quickly walked down stairs out of her room, and all the way to the bottom of the second set right in front of the door at the beginning of the house. She grabbed her black lace shawl off its hook quietly, hoping her mother wouldn't hear her sneaking out from where she sat in the living room. She didn't, as no one yelled her name as she slipped out the front door and broke into a run. It was hard to run in all those skirts and high heeled shoes, but she managed to reach the curtain of the trees. No one would know
she was here now. Unless her mother happened to figure it out before she got back. Then once she did come back, her mother would be quite cross.
She padded along the moss on the forest floor until she reached her favorite spot in the forest, the ruins. But she realized she wasn't alone. There was a strange young man nestled on the pedestule holding a weeping angel. He was writing in a journal of some kind, and tapping his slender fingers on the stone. She sucked in a breath, continuing fearlessly into the ruins. He heard her, and looked up.
“Mm, hello there.” He said, then went back to ignoring her and writing in his book. She frowned. That was no way to greet a lady, even if that lady was sneaking out of her own home to go running around the forest all alone.
“Hello.” She replied sassily. He looked up again.
“Well, aren't you the prissiest princess.” He said, sarcasm noticable at the word princess.
“Why are you sitting there if you're just going to insult me?” She asked. He was sitting in her favorite place to be, after all, acting like he owned the place.
“Actually, I own this place.” He said, as if reading her mind.
“Oh.” She said, not knowing what else to say.
“I just bought the forest a few days ago.” He said. She hadn't been to the ruins for at least three days. No wonder she hadn't known that it had been purchased.
“I didn't know that. I apologize for my rudeness.” She said politely, correcting her mistake.
“As do I. I'm not in the best of moods today.” He said. He glanced at the rays of sunlight that poked through the tree's then back to her.
“I'm glad it isn't snowing anymore.” She said softly. He nodded in slight agreement, then reached up to touch a finger of the weeping angel who's feet he sat at.
“This place is..”He seemed to be searching for a word.
“Beautiful.” She finished for him, a smile crossing her face. He simply nodded.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I am James Nevelcas” He said.
“Victoria Vivalden, heiress of the castle of Vivalden.” Victoria replied.
“Ah. Victoria Vivalden. I have heard of you. Most of the ladies in town really don't like you.” James said.
“You probably were talking with the wrong ladies, Mr. Nevelcas.” She said.
“Please, just call me James.” He said.
“Alright. Then you can just call me Victoria, I suppose.” She replied. He thoughtfully stared around the ruins. His eyes almost looked clear, but perhaps that was just the light. His hair was a dark blonde, on the verge of a light brown. The breeze kept blowing it into his eyes. He flicked a few strands away with his hand.
“What brings a rich heiress to the middle of a forest?” James asked. His eyes seemed to change a slight, almost unoticable amount to a light blue.
“I like it here.” She said simply.
“So you snuck out?” He asked, smirking at her. She nodded. This man wasn't likely going to drag her home and report her to her mother after all. She might as well tell him the truth. Anyways, she'd probably never see him again.
“Ive been having a hard time lately. This is my sort of..Escape.” She said honestly.
“Why?” He asked.
“My sister died.” She said. His expression changed at the mention of dying, to a completely unreadable, unemotional look.
“What was her name, and age?” He asked, as if interrogating a criminal.
“Sarah. She was seven.” Victoria answered, ignoring the fact that he seemed to be interrogating her.
“Oh, yes, she was in the newspaper. Sarah Vivalden.. Yes, I remember now.” He said.
“You're very strange.” She said.
“So ive been told.” He said, laughing. He stood up and tucked his journal under his arm, walking over some wet leaves to the statue of
Death. He traced his finger over one of the feathers of the wings that were outstretched behind the evil creature.
“Ive seen much better depictions.” He mused aloud, frowning at the completely skeletal form of the statue.
“My mother forbids me even to hear about death now. Since Sarah died..” Victoria's voice trailed off.
“Death is a part of all of our lives. Death comes eventually to all of us.” James told her. Both were silent for a few seconds, before James spoke again.
“I'm afraid I must depart. But, I will see you at the party this friday.” He said finally. She remembered now, the party that her mother had been planning before Sarah died. It was going to be the annual winter ball. At this ball, everyone was to wear white, for winter. Her mother hadn't cancelled it because it would be breaking the ancient tradition to hold it. Victoria was also being presented as elligible for marrige at the ball. She wondered who might try to ask to marry her. Well, probably a lot of men. But who's proposal would her parents accept? After all, it was them who would choose. Not her. Victoria pondered this as she made her way back to her home. She didn't even think of how she hadn't even bothered to say goodbye to James. Well, she could apologize this friday anyway.Just as she was grabbing the door handle, the door opened and Jane ran right into her.
“There you are!” Jane said, laughing as she bumped right into Victoria. She looked her over, eyeing her new dress. “You're looking good”
“So are you.” Victoria replied. Jane was dressed in a light blue silk dress that matched her eyes.
“Where were you? In the forest?” Her eyes glittered teasingly.
“Of course. I met a strange man. He seemed.. Timeless. Like an immortal.” Victoria said. James did look ageless, like a man and a boy at the same time. Perhaps he was just her age and wasn't really one or the other at this time in his life.
“Was he cute?” Jane asked.
“I wasn't really thinking about his looks. But I guess so.” Victoria said. She shrugged slightly.
“Is he rich?” Jane continued to ask her questions.
“I imagine so.” Victoria answered.
“Maybe your parents will marry you off to him.” Jane winked, giggling. Victoria burst into giggles as well.
“No, probably not.” Victoria said finally. Her parents were probably going to betroth her to someone with a very high standing. After all, she was the heiress to a grand castle. She should marry someone who could make her live like a queen.
“Awww.” Jane said, pouting. Victoria smiled at her.
“Did you get your new dress?” She asked.
“Yes, and its gorgeous. Come on, lets go to those ruins.” Jane said, grabbing Victoria's hand and pulling her towards the forest. Victoria didn't protest as her friend dragged her over the wet leaves and to the ruins. As soon as they arrived, storm clouds starting drifting in. The sky darkened considerably, and cast shadows over the mourning angels.
“Oooh, creepy.” Jane joked, skipping over to the statue of death.
“Watch out. I bet he bites!” Victoria said, joking along with her. Jane grew serious suddenly.
“We shouldn't be joking about death..” She said. Victoria nodded in agreement.
“I bet he does bite, though.” Victoria said seriously. She looked at the expressionless black hole that was under the dark hood on the statues head. The whole thing was swathed in flowing robes, and it had clawed skeletal hands.
“I bet he uses those claws to.. To scratch up our graves.” Jane said, her voice barely above a whisper. Victoria shivered as a raindrop hit her arms. She pulled her shawl up more on her shoulders. The statue seemed to glare at them, even without a face. It leaned towards them, forever in a stance of battle. It looked as if it were about to grab them, and steal their souls. Victoria moved closer to Jane, and further from the horrible statue.They both heard a noise, sticks cracking. Jane screamed and clung to Victoria. A laugh was heard as someone emerged from the bushes. James.
“You scared us!” Victoria said, glaring. James was practically doubled over with laughter.
“I'm sorry! Thats just.. So funny..” He said.
“You about scared me to death.” Jane said. Once she said that, he laughed even harder.
“Scared you to death..oh..” He couldn't even finish his sentence he was laughing so hard. Victoria continued to glare at him, her heart beginning to slow finally.
“Really. I'm sorry. I won't do it again.” James said candidly, stopping his guffaw.
“So,you're James?” Jane said, eyeing him up and down.
“Yes.” He said, appearing not to notice her staring at him.
“This is my best friend, Jane.” Victoria said. Jane curtsied, then went back to staring right into his green eyes. Green eyes? Weren't they blue earlier. Victoria was deep in thought. It was just the light. He probably had blue eyes that looked green in the dark, and clear in the light. Simple as that.
“It is always a pleasure to meet a best friend of a friend.” James said charmingly.
“Victoria told me about you.” Jane said.
“Did not” Victoria said. She blushed slightly.
“Yes you did.” Jane giggled. Victoria looked away and pretended to be observing the clouds and the rain that was falling faster by the second. James followed her gaze, then went back to looking at Jane. He couldn't decide who was the prettiest, Jane or Victoria.
“You've got positively lovely eyes.” He said to Jane, who in turn stopped staring at him and looked modestly at her feet. Victoria rolled her eyes. Jane was such a big flirt, she'd finally met her match. Jane walked slowly over to a statue of an angel and sat on the stand for the statue. James thought she looked like an angel, sitting there. But Victoria, she was much more mysterious. She also seemed to be hiding another part of herself, whereas Jane was as easy to read as an open book. She was young, and innocent. Victoria was wise beyond her years, and mature.
“Jane is aware she has beautiful eyes, James. She hears it all the time.” Victoria said haughtily. Was Victoria jealous? Possibly. She did tend to get jealous of her friend, even though they'd been best friends all their lives.
“She does? What about you?” James questioned. Victoria's green eyes peeked at him from under her lowered lashes.
“My eyes are rarely noticed.” She said.
“Well, green is a very nice color.” James managed. His own eyes had changed with the light to a color on the verge of turning to brownish orange instead of green.
“It is.” Jane agreed. Victoria went to sit beside her. They were a few yards away from James now, who was still standing in front of the bushes he had emerged from.
“He is cute.” Jane whispered to Victoria, and a blush crept to her cheeks.
“If you say so.” Victoria whispered back, a slight giggle escaping her lips. She stood again, leaning on the angel.
“You do pop out of the weirdest places, James.” She said.
“Think about it. You've seen me only at the ruins. I'm here a lot, Victoria.” James argued without an angry tone.
“I suppose you are right.” Victoria gave in. He nodded, and went to sit at the feet of the statue of death.
“I'm fonder of this statue than the others.” James admitted. He didn't really like the angels. They looked slightly out of place with a statue of death standing next to them. Jane wiped away a bit of moss from the face of the angel that she and Victoria were sitting on.
“I don't like to think about death.” Jane said softly. She herself preffered the angels, and wasn't sure what Victoria liked the best.
“I think the statue of Death is interesting.” Victoria said. She remembered the claw she had imagined the night before, and shuddered, She'd been hanging around this place to much.
“It is Tuesday, isn't it?” James asked. Victoria nodded. His expression changed to an annoyed one. “Well, ive got a meeting to attend.”
Victoria nodded and Jane watched him as he left back the way he had come.
“I think i'm in love.” Jane said, leaning back against the angel dreamily.
“You always say that.” Victoria said, playfully pushing her. Jane pushed back, then leaned against the angel a second time.
“I mean it this time.” Jane said.
“What if he likes me?” Victoria asked.
“then i'll change his mind with my charm!” Jane exclaimed, laughing. She batted her eyelashes and flipped her dark hair as an example. Victoria laughed along with her.
“I'm going back to my castle.” Victoria said.
“I'm staying here. I'll be back in a few minutes, though.” Jane said.
Chapter 3: Death's Dealings
Victoria turned and left. The rain was staying a steady drizzle still. But once Victoria had gone, mist came into the ruins. It was just at her feet, covering the forest floor. She shivered. The statue of death seemed all the more menacing with the mist swirling around its feet. Her breath quickened as her own imagination frightened her. The mist rose a bit, getting to her knee's. She felt it wrapping itself around her, in a cold fog. She shivered again and stood up on the angel statue. The mist continued to rise, then shifted. It went away from the statue of the angel, and gravitated around the statue of Death. Then it dissapated. She timidly walked over to the statue of Death and reached out to touch one of its hands. She screamed as the hand grabbed hers, the stone crushing into her skin. She screamed again, trying to fight away from it. She realized this was all a dream, and she had drifted off in the forest. This was all a dream, she repeated. All
a dream. She told herself this over and over as the statue stepped off of its pedestule, pushing her forward and out of its path. It looked at her hand clasped in its own.
“What do you want?” She gasped, trying to pry its stone hand off hers. But it was so hard, and it wouldn't budge. She looked into its hood and screamed again. Blood red eyes glowed at her, the only color on the grey stone.
“Quiet.” It hissed. Its voice was tainted slightly, and seemed to come and go with the fog. It was all around her, like the mist had been. She knew now that she was definitely dreaming, so she calmed down.
“What do you want?” She asked again, this time calmly. It actually seemed surprised at her sudden calmness, then it cackled. It was a horrible, dark sound.
“I want you to listen to me.” It said.
“Okay. I'm listening.” Jane replied, nodding. She was still completely calm, though the laugh had chilled her to her very core.
“I need you to bring me a young woman. Pure as a young animal, and untouched by male hands.” The statue told her.
“What if I do not?” Jane asked.
“Then i'll use you for my spell instead.” The statue growled. She shuddered, then told herself to remember that it was just a dream.
“What will you do with her?” Jane asked.
“Strengthen myself by sacrificing her when the moon and sun cross.” the statue replied. It was talking about the lunar eclipse, Which was only a week from now.
“No.” Jane said. It growled, yanking her arm so she was closer to it and had to stare right into its glowing eyes.It reached up with the other hand and touched her neck with its claw. She struggled, and tried to get away. But it cut into her neck and carved some kind of symbol. She gasped and struggled more, feeling the stone cut into her wrists. The symbol started to pour crimson blood, down on her dress. The statue let some run onto its claw, and it scraped the same symbol into its arm.
“Now, if you do not do as I say, You will be brought here by a spell on the night of the eclipse, and I will sacrifice you. Then I will bring you back as my queen.” it said. Apparantly the statue wasn't really an it, it was probably actually male. She perked up slightly at the word queen.
“Queen of what?” She asked.
“The underworld. The world of the dead.” the statue replied. It smirked under its hood at the contemplative expression that had crossed her face.
“I will find you a sacrifice. And you will make me your queen.” She said. It cackled. She remembered that she was dreaming, and let out a laugh of her own. God wasn't going to punish her for being a goddess of evil in her own dreams. Anyway, she'd never do that awake. So it didn't matter in the least.
“Good. I will see you.. Soon.” The statue said. Jane nodded slightly in agreement.
Jane awoke standing close to the statue of Death, which was still perched on its pedastule and in the same exact pose as always. Its eyes, of course, weren't glowing. It wasn't raining anymore, and the mist had gone. Like she had thought, it had all been a dream. She realized that Victoria would have expected her back long ago, and sprinted to the house, ignoring the fact that her skirt was getting slightly muddy. Those ruins were spooking her, and she wanted to stay away from them now. Victoria was in the living room lounging on a couch beside the fire. Jane sat in a chair across from her, brushing her hair away from her face with a hand.
“What took you so long?” Victoria asked.
“I fell asleep. I had the queerest dream, too.” Jane replied. Victoria laughed at the idea of Jane falling asleep in the muddy forest with her pretty dress on, then noticed the mud. Well, that was a funny sight. Anytime Jane wasn't perfectly clean and neat was a rare occasion.
“What was it about?” Victoria said uninterestedly.
“Oh, Death. He made me make a pact with him to bring him some innocent woman to him then he was going to make me his evil queen.” Jane laughed.
“Thats not funny. What have you been reading?” Victoria said, gasping slightly. What had Jane been reading? Though she probably shouldn't be asking, since she had had a dream exactly like that.
“Ive just been reading..” Jane paused to scratch at a scab on her neck. She traced her finger over it.
“Whats that?” Victoria asked, alarmed.
“I guess I scratched myself in my sleep.” Jane said, shrugging.
“It looks like..Some weird sign.” Victoria said. Jane froze completely, stopping her scratching. She ran into the washroom to look in the mirror. She looked ready to faint when Victoria came in.
“I wasn't dreaming! Lord, save me!” Jane exclaimed, dropping to her knee's and closing her eyes in prayer. She was hyperventilating, and looked paler than usual.
“Jane, your overreacting. You just scratched yourself in your sleep, like you said.” Victoria said, rolling her eyes. Jane was known to get worked up over a simple scratch like the one she had now. Besides, hadn't she ran into that branch on their way there? She had probably gotten that scratch then, and hadn't noticed until now.
“Remember the branch.” Victoria reminded her. Jane stood up.
“Oh.” She breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn't a sinner damned to hell after all. Or the underworld. They were probably the same thing, anyway. How could Death and the Devil exist all in one? They were probably brothers, and Death just got the less powerful job.
“You drama queen.” Victoria teased. She whacked Jane with a towel, then threw it back into the laundry basket.
“Yes, Ive got to work on not being so dramatic, I suppose.” Jane agreed. She laughed at her own silliness. Of course she hadn't really made any pacts with the lord of death. She would never be that stupid, anyway.
“I'm tired. It was an early morning. I'm going to nap until dinner.” Victoria said. She sprawled out on the couch. Jane sat across from her again and opened up a book on manners.
Victoria found herself back in the ruins, surronded by an icy mist. She walked around, trying to escape from it. But the tree's were blocking her path. Before her eyes, the mist swirled together higher and higher and shaped a man. It dissapeared. And as it did, Death appeared. He was dressed in flowing robes like the statue's, and his eyes glowed. Long black feathered wings stretched out behind his form. But his hands weren't bone, they were normal skin. Pale skin with a light purple taint, though. Through his hood she could see the gleam of teeth as he smirked.
“Victoria, ive been waiting for you. You sure took a while.” Death said, drumming his claws on the statue of an angel. It cracked under them slightly, little holes forming.
“Why are you bothering me? Let me get my sleep without having nightmares, please.” Victoria said.
“I will. If you'll do something for me.” Death said, approaching her. She backed up, and he laughed at her instant reaction.
“What?” She asked.
“I want you to bring me Jane. Then I will give you back what you hold most dear.” Death said, “Sarah.”
“Sarah? You can't do that..” Victoria shut her mouth as she remembered who she was talking to. Or, talking to in her dreams. At least she could dream that Sarah was back. That would be nice.
“I will give her back to you, living and breathing. If you give me Jane, and do one other thing for me.” Death said.
“Whats the other thing?” Victoria asked, playing along with his game.
“You'll come with me, to live with me in the underworld. I need a wife.” Death said.Victoria considered it. At least she'd be seeing Sarah in her dreams. But if she was in the underworld, would she? No. So this dream would still be without Sarah. She'd just be a god betraying dreamer.
“I'll do it.” She shut out all other thoughts. At least in her dreams Sarah would be alive, even if she didn't see her. Her parents would be happy in her dreams.
“Tell no one of this.” Death cautioned her. Death reached out with a claw and traced the symbol she had seen on Jane's neck on her own. Jane, sweet Jane, who she was offering to Death himself for her own selfish reasons. Why was she such a bad person in her dreams? But then again, it was just her dreams.Plus, She didn't have control over what she dreamed, and she'd see Jane plenty when she was awake. So all was right. Victoria reached out to feel Death's claw as he was withdrawing his hand. He laughed wickedly as she felt the smoothness of it. His claws were like knives on his own hands. She stuck her hands behind her back. Death was almost fascinating when you knew you were only dreaming, so she softly poked the skin of his hand. It felt cold as ice.
“Are you dead?” She asked. He burst out laughing.
“I am Death. How would death kill himself, Hmm? You do have much to learn, Victoria.” He answered. She reached up to push his hood out of his face. It fell down to reveal blood red eyes in a face that looked like an angels. How could something so evil be so beautiful? This was what she wondered now. He had black hair falling to his shoulders that flowed like his almost transparent robes, and all of his skin was that same white tinged with purple color.
“You find the strangest things beautiful, my lady.” Death said, as if reading her thoughts. She actually agreed with him. Hah, agreeing with death in her dreams. She'd have to beg for mercy in church on Sunday. She remembered that a special lunar eclipse was to take place on Sunday of the next week.
“And you agree with the strangest people.” He said as if reading her thoughts a second time.
“I should go. Dinner will be ready soon.” Victoria said.
“Yes you should.” Death agreed, laughing at her completely casual tone. He started to glow all over with a black shadowy light, then dissapeared. She awoke suddenly, still lying on the red couch. She felt some kind of liquid running down her neck and dripping on the couch, then saw her cat sitting on the edge of the couch next to her.
“Tabitha Rose! How dare you scratch your owner.” Victoria said angirly. The black cat stared at her. She snatched up the cat, and opened the door to put her outside.
“You can come back in when you're going to behave.” Victoria said. Tabitha Rose meowed in protest as Victoria shut the door. Victoria opened it again a second later, not being able to bear the thought of her cat being outside in the cold.
“Just don't do that again.” She said, and set the cat on the chair next to the door. The cat flicked its black tail around, and hopped off of the chair. It strutted out of the room and in the direction of the kitchen, in search of some cat food. Jane entered from the washroom, instantly looking at Victoria's neck.
“Tabitha Rose scratched me.” Victoria said just as instantly. Jane laughed.
“Were both getting scratches on our necks. Maybe were two of one kind.” Jane said.
“Two pea's in a pod.” Victoria said. She grinned, and Jane grinned back. Somehow the idea of them both having identical scratches on their necks was quite funny. But it couldn't help haunt Victoria at the very back of her mind. What if she hadn't been dreaming, what if she was really about to offer her friend up to Death? You weren't supposed to make pacts with the devil, and death was just about as bad, if not worse. The devil existed to punish you. Death existed to kill you, to punish you in his own way. He could choose how he killed you, even. All the devil could do was choose how he punished you after you landed in his domain, if you were truly a bad person and didn't go to Heaven. Unless the Devil and Death were the same person, then Death would just be that much worse.
“I was thinking about Sarah again. I found her doll.” Jane said. She was holding the delicate porcelian doll clutched in one hand. Victoria gravely looked at it. Sarah would be back in her dreams, soon. Jane handed her the doll, and she set it down on the table. Mother would find it and put it somewhere safe. Or maybe they would take it to Sarah's grave and set it there for her spirit to play with.
“I was thinking about Sarah, too.” Victoria admitted. She thought it was best not to tell Jane about her dream. She might faint or something of that nature.
“Your mother said I could spend the night. Remember when we used to have sleepovers when we were little?” Jane said. Victoria nodded, and sat back down on the couch. She gazed out of a nearby window. It was starting to snow again. The sunshine had been short lived.
“I'm afraid of these dreams I keep having.” Jane said quietly. She fidgeted and fiddled with a bit of lace on her dress.
“Don't be. They're not real.” Victoria assured her.
“What if they are?” Jane replied. She went to stand by the window, blocking Victoria's view in the process. She rubbed a bit of condensation off of it to peer out more easily.
“Then you're helping out death and making crimes against God.” Victoria said. She shivered at her own words.
“It is just a dream, even if it seems real. You're right.” Jane agreed, She wouldn't betray the lord in conciousness, only in the state of mind that you were in while you were dreaming. Victoria didn't speak again, she reached over to take the lid off of a tin of chocolates. She grabbed one, looking around quickly to make sure her mother wasn't somewhere watching her as she popped it into her mouth. She tossed one at the back of Jane's head, and it bounced to the floor. Jane snatched it up and unwrapped it.
“Thanks.” She said, letting out a laugh.
“You certainly aren't worried about sickness.” Victoria observed.
Jane idly walked over to a painting of Victoria's mother which was on one of the walls of the living room. She looked at it, and wondered why it was hung in the middle of the living room. Well, she did know that Victoria's mother was a very proud and dignified woman, even if she was so nice and kind. She didn't flinch when women talked about her behind her back, she didn't even show an emotion. Some had said that she had been selfish and not called the doctor for Sarah because she didn't want to use up some of her vast amounts of money. Really, it had been that the doctor would have come to late anyway. By the time they knew Sarah was sick, it would have been to late for the doctor to arrive in time. Jane silently made her way to the hallway and saw Victoria's mother coming towards the living room. She stopped to say hello.
“Good evening, Mrs. Vivalden.” Jane said.
“Good evening to you too, Jane. Dinner is almost ready, I hope you are hungry.” Elizabeth Vivalden replied. Victoria saw her coming and stood up.
“Come, dinner will be served soon.” She said as soon as she saw Victoria standing up to greet her.
“Yes, mother.” Victoria said. Jane and Victoria followed Elizabeth Vivalden to the dining room, which had a long rectangular table in it. Victoria's father and mother sat at one end, and Victoria usually sat at the other side. Jane sat on the right side of her. Soon, servants came, their arms loaded with different delectable dishes. They set the table quickly with practiced motions then left. Victoria put a few pieces of steak on her plate, mashed potatoes, and gravy. She slowly nibbled away at the food, knowing that if she ate quickly or messily her mother would scold her. Jane did the same, though she ate a bit more quickly, since Mrs. Vivalden was unlikely to scold her. After all, she was their guest. Even if she had been here many times, and had dinner just as many times.
“So. Victoria. Where were you this morning?” Elizabeth Vivalden asked idly.
“Yes, dear. Where were you?” Her father also asked, curiousity in his voice.
“She came to my house.” Jane lied for her smoothly.
“Then how did you arrive before she did?” Her mother asked skeptically.
“My mother wanted to show her my gown for this friday, and I decided to go ahead.” Jane said. Her mother nodded, finding that a valid reason, then went back to picking pea's off of her fork. Victoria stopped eating suddenly, simply staring at her plate. She looked closely at the gravy, not believing her eyes. There, in the liquid, was an image of a cemetary. It was filled with the same mist seen before. She noticed her mother staring at her, and so she dug her fork into the gravy and stirred it up. The vision dissapeared. Am I going insane? Victoria wondered. Of all the things to see a cemetary in. A food. I really am going insane, Thought Victoria. But she didn't know that Jane had been seeing the same thing in her steak.
“May I be excused, Mother?” Victoria asked softly. Elizabeth Vivalden looked at her daughter's half eaten food. She let out a sigh of exasperation.
“Very well, Victoria. Do try to get some sleep tonight.” Her mother said. Victoria nodded solemnly, then left the dining room. She went straight to her own bedroom, Jane coming seconds behind her.
“Jane, did you see a cemetary in your meat or your gravy?” Victoria asked, just to be sure that her assumption was correct.
“Yes, I did.” Jane admitted quietly “Are we going insane?”
“No, no. Of course were not insane. We're just tired, I think.” Victoria said.
“I have an idea, Victoria. We can sneak out and go to the cemetary, after everyone else is asleep.” Jane said daringly, her eyes glittering with excitement at the thought of her wicked plan. Victoria considered it for a moment.
“Well, maybe what we saw was a sign from God that we must do something at the cemetary.” Victoria suggested in agreement.
(end of part 1, I'll add more eventually.)