Excerpt from "Darker Than" - 1 of 3
Beneath an ancient Victorian home, in a small, dimly lit stone room known as the Key Chamber, there sits a solitary figure. A woman, cloaked and hooded in robes of royal blue. She rests unmoving upon an old ornate wooden chair.
The woman once had a proper name, yet for more than two hundred years, she has borne a different mantle—
The old Witch sat there in complete silence, her features hidden beneath her hood. She has remained undisturbed inside this stone room for a long time, for the Key Chamber belonged solely to the Witch. No one was welcome without her consent.
The chamber itself was cold, and dome-shaped. Besides the Witch and her ornate chair, it contained a structure, made up of four columns of clear glass which rose from the dry, dusty floor. The columns arched over at the top near the low ceiling, curving down towards the ground. Each column tapered to a blunt point, and attached to each end was a thick heavy chain of black wrought iron. All four chains in turn held up a large cauldron made of smooth transparent crystal. Its jagged rim hung at eye-level over the room's centre. The cauldron glowed with an eerie orange light from within, and this light was the only source of illumination within the Key Chamber.
Its muted glow suddenly changed from orange to a deep blood-red hue. This prompted the Witch to rise from her chair and walk across the floor to the waiting cauldron.
The Eye could not be ignored.
She studied the cauldron's crimson aura for a moment, and then the Witch reached out her hands and touched its glassy surface. In doing so, she summoned her servants; the Werewolf and the Vampire.
She did not have to wait long. The Witch knew they would answer whenever she called upon them. They arrived together, and upon entry into the Key Chamber, bowed gracefully towards the Witch, who acknowledged their gesture. They both stood silent, patiently awaiting her command.
The Witch looked them both over, admiring the Werewolf first. His body was monstrous, the perfect form of strength and power. His thick fur was the colour of dried blood, and his eyes shone like black diamonds.
By contrast, the Vampire looked human. He had sharp facial features, piercing turquoise-coloured eyes, and long black hair tied back with an ebony cloth bow. His skin was pale, like the moon. No emotion showed upon his face.
She gestured them closer, and they approached with caution. Stepping forward, they passed over several etched plaques, embedded into the floor. The light was too poor within the chamber to make out the plaques' engravings. The Werewolf and the Vampire watched as the Witch placed her hands upon the cauldron's smooth exterior once more. Within moments, the crimson glow inside the cauldron faded, replaced by a sea of swirling green clouds. The clouds churned and billowed under the glassy surface, coalescing together to form blurry shapes. Soon, distinct images appeared.
The Vampire and the Werewolf remained silent as the image of a young teenage girl materialized in the cauldron's churning emerald mist. To them, she appeared to be nothing remarkable; small in stature, with long fiery-red hair, a pretty freckled complexion, and large green eyes. She wore a pair of faded blue jeans, a plain forest-green t-shirt, and a grey hooded jacket. Over her shoulder was a blue knapsack with the letter W stitched in black embroidery.
“Is she the one?” the Vampire asked, his voice clean, like an actor performing on stage.
“She is,” replied the Witch in a low whisper. Although barely audible, she still echoed throughout the chamber.
“And...what are your intentions for her?” asked the Vampire, his interest aroused.
“That remains my concern, and mine alone,” said the Witch forcefully. “For now, I want you—both of you—to simply bring the girl here.”
The Vampire nodded. “And once she is within Asylum?”
The Witch exchanged curious glances with the two servants. “Do what you need to do, then turn her over to me.”
Warily, the Werewolf and the Vampire looked at one another, then nodded in unison to the Witch.
“Where is she now?” asked the Vampire, looking once more into the swirling fog of the cauldron. The image of the girl showed her exiting a vehicle in front of a large building set in the distance.
A high school.
“She resides with her family in the town of Caledon, Ontario,” replied the Witch.
“So Canada is our destination this time,” implied the Vampire.
“It is,” said the Witch. “She has begun to attend summer school. You both must be discrete in this endeavour. It is essential you do nothing to attract attention to yourselves. I want you both to merely follow the girl, then wait for the most opportune moment to abduct her. Be aware, gentlemen; time is of the essence.”
“And what of the girl's...family?” enquired the Vampire.
“They are of no concern,” said the Witch. “Stay focused on the girl.”
The Werewolf and the Vampire again exchanged glances, then nodded to the Witch in understanding. She eyed them sceptically from beneath her hood.
“I want it clear, gentlemen,” she said icily, “the girl is to brought here unharmed. I trust that is understood...by both of you?” The old Witch's eyes expressed the seriousness on the matter. As her servants nodded again in agreement, she knew they dared not fail her.
The Witch turned her back on them, and sat once more in her ornate chair. Then the Werewolf, who had remained quiet the entire time, finally spoke.
“What is her name?” he asked in a low, guttural voice.
The Witch did not look at him, but instead observed the crystal cauldron from her chair. She gazed upon the image of the girl, as if reflecting on an answer to the Werewolf's enquiry. Inside the glass, the girl dissolved into familiar wisps of orange smoke.
“Her name is Winter,” said the Witch, as she dismissed the Werewolf and the Vampire from the Key Chamber, “and it's time she came home to Asylum.”