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[font "Times" [size15 As Imogen walked, with her mind dancing with conjured images of what she imagined this place to be, it was as if the forest bent an ear to her. And then itself, weaving her through the fabric of its depths toward the place she sought. Lucky for her, she went on the night of the full moon, and as she started to see the dark shapes of lonely markers and graves, of an old road that was now well overgrown and marked with the woven likenesses of men in the trees she was getting close.
On such a still night, the light seemed to keep back most of the things that dwelt in the darkness, making the forest still. On a moonless night, she would hear much more. But, for now the titter of the nighttime hunters, swooping in the air and snatching some of the lightning bugs from the air itself- their dark forms overtaking the delicate glimmers, and fettering them- and the rustle of the breeze was all she heard.
And through the trees she could see the moon alighting on the still waters of the pond. She had reached the water's edge. And standing in its center was the large, shadowed manse that she had only heard tell of. It guarded the pond glen like a creature, keeping its secrets.
And at its feet- eyes glimmering in reflection and drifting beneath were the long, lithe bodies of crocodiles, the little, multitudinous bodies of frogs perched on the bend of what looked to be a long just above the water where plants congregated. The swamp here was deceptively alive. The call of an owl somewhere nearby ensured that. There were things alive here. And she was being watched.
Eyes turned to the windows- with the light of candleflame behind their lace depths, a pale suggestion of a humanoid stood, watching. But as soon as her eyes went to them, a moment after, they weren't there longer. For a pale hand drew the drape closed.
Something splashed into the water near Imogen's feet as she made her way to the house's front porch. A great careening of water from underneath the walkway she came across, slashing open the silence, and a pale form disappeared underneath the water plants.
The door to the manse was large and wooden, with a filigreed knob. At the beckon of something, it opened for Imogen and let her into the entry hall. It had doorways coming off of it, and the singular flames of candles on side tables or on large, spreading candelabras with trails of wax to the floor flickered, flames dancing with the air from outside.
And when Imogen opened the door to that house, and set her living self in it, something stirred in its depths. Something stirred in the breast of something that had seen her only from afar, that had watched her approach the house. Had seen her lantern bobbing in amongst the trees.
Imogen chose the front parlor at her left, the closest, beside the staircase upstairs. It was a plush fine room with but the lace curtains open beneath the heavy, dark drapes of the tall windows, sending shadows slanting across the carpets and the furniture nearly choking the place. A globe, bookshelves, more caneldabras, some unlit, or with only one candle alive on them. Couches and chairs and little benches and ottomans and a window box stood for her use all in brocades or velvets. Reds and blacks and deep mahogany woodwork greeted her. And at the focal point of the room stood the great mantlepiece. Above it stood a mirror, huge, and dotted with tarnish.
The fireplace was big enough to fit children in it, but it had a grate, and some wood beside it in a hammered copper kettle.
From upstairs came a soft, slow creak of the floorboard. Something shifted its weight, and then fell silent. The silence inside the house became thick with the potential, the static of the sound having broken it.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/83/42/20/834220263a9142a6ccdf458ae2b02124.jpg]] And when Imogen's eyes flew open to look about herself, a tall, tall figure stood in the door. Alabaster pale, his thin, angular face was turned toward her from the doorway. But he wasn't in the moonlight, it was the contrast of his long, loose raven hair to his skin and the darkness of his garb that signified him. He wore a soft, amused smile, but something in those eyes- dark and inoccuous in the shadows, blanched by the moon- looked at her differently. He was so still. Apparitioned there in the front hall.
When his head turned, just so, shifting his view of her to look at her properly, something glimmered in those eyes, like coals in the back of a grate.
"[+maroon What do we have here?]" came a soft, coy voice.
The night was quiet with the sound of crickets, and frogs croaking in the trees. The wind brushed along Imogen's nightgown. What had compelled her to come out here so late at night, was the rumors of the hidden lake and the castle and graveyard that stood near it. Imogen was full of curiousity, and she wanted to see it for herself. It was a full moon tonight so the forest wouldn't be completely black if she went.
She had pretended to be asleep, as a young lady should not be going into the forest alone; but when the rest of the house had settled in for the night and the lights had gone out, Imogen crept out of her bed and down the stairs. Stealing a lantern to light her way, her riding boots, and a shawl to wrap around herself and keep warm.
Imogen knew that the place was located in the center of the forest, so if she just walked straight forward, she was sure she would find the place. She had heard, at night the place was even more beautiful, from the people who had been. They claimed that fairies had the run of the grounds, that they would invite you into the castle, and you would never want to leave. She wanted to see that for herself, if there were really fairies. She didn't totally believe in the supernatural; ghosts and fairies seemed more likely to exist than vampires and werewolves.
After walking for what felt like forever she could see the opening of a clearing. Imogen trudged through the last of the thicket. There were things hanging in the trees, that she couldn't quite make out, until something hard brushed her shoulder. She shone her light on it, and to her surprise and horror, it was the skull of a cat or a fox. She backed away from the trees until she was face to face with the beautiful pond, and right in the middle of it was the rumored castle, or rather more like a mansion. She walked up to the edge slowly, staring at the moon's reflection on it's surface. It was beautiful and haunting. But as she gazed longer, eyes stared back up at her; frogs and something bigger. Much bigger than she was. She was hesitant to get closer and instead backed away. She could see a stone walkway up to the house, that felt inviting.
Lights flickered in the house softly, making the desire to enter, that much harder to resist. Could this be the fairies doing? She wondered as she walked along the edge of the shore, her nightgown trailing in the mud. She had so many questions for the fairies, if they were real. As Imogen got closer, her curiosity ate at her. She needed to get inside. She needed to see if there were really fairies inside. Imogen walked along the stone walkway to the door and knocked twice, the door creaked open and she stepped inside. "Hello?" She asked quietly, though her voice still echoed off the walls. She pulled her shawl closer to her, and stepped in even further, looking down the hallway.
It was too late to be afraid, she was already here. Her oil lamp was getting low, and she knew she would have to stay the night. The floorboards creaked as she moved into the first room, lit by a single candle. She could tell that this was supposed to be a sitting room or a place to entertain guests. It was good enough to stay in for the night. There was a small fire place in the corner with some would laying next to it. Imogen wondered if the fairies got cold too.
She placed a couple of logs in, and used a match to light it, before settling on the worn couch, the need to sleep taking over her for the first time. Imogen leaned back and closed her eyes, ready to fall asleep in front of the fire. She slowly started to drift off.