As the hour grows nigh at Place de Plume and the sun reluctantly releases its last grasp on the sky, darkness weaves across the Chateau’s vine-covered walls. On this night, I have all the lights lit and all the windows latched. The ancient trees call out as their naked branches dance with specters tripping across them. The upstairs halls howl when no one is in them yet I refuse to answer the sirens’ call. Their mighty wings flap angrily in their shadowed space. I cast my eyes up the darkened stairs; I shall not grace the upper floors tonight, lest I never descend again.
Phonographs spill sounds as I amble about the first floor deferring to the spirits conducting tonight’s symphony. My hope is if allowed to sing, they will spare us their mischief. The wine I pour runs slower, leaving a viscous thread. I drink and eat but a bit; I have found a touch of hunger keeps my senses keen. Standing alone before my vast dining table I notice a wavering phosphorescence filling my seat. I move not my head, only my eyes and give a small laugh trying to retain my hold as Mistress of their current playground as long as I am permitted. My vigilance is better saved for the ones upstairs; or those outside my beloved barricade.
I hear the goblins scurry about the rooms above me, trying to stay out of the sirens’ path. Even though they mean me harm, I clutch the cross at my throat and say a small prayer for the ones who will fall to the beauties song. A bellow comes from the nearest guest room as the religious words enter my mind. I check the entrance to the stairs once more; the spell is still in place.
Children race to my door, hoping for a sweet. What those innocent eyes do not see are the phantoms chasing them, those who cannot come into the light. Every child is granted an unknown reprieve at each door as the mistress or master stands firm to block the threshold from unwanted permanent guests. Dressing the little ones as heroes and saints keeps the fiends at arms’ length; as they are unable tell the difference between real and fabrication. If I stand still, allowing my eyes focus in the dark, I can see a demon, perched on the far end of my stone wall. She sits like a cat and weaves her head at a rapid pace, hoping to capture the angle of the child’s spirit that will tell her if this plum may be plucked. Her cimmerian eyes widen in confusion and her wings spread in anticipation but she is not able to see into the soul of the little one so pure. When the child leaves, I throw a piece of candy at the demon to flush her out. She sputters away in hopes of finding someone else to steal; the hiss of her fiery breath leaving trails on the air.
I hear a howling in the distance; a pained and tortured cry. My heart responds to such anguish, the poor domestic canine caught in a trap meant for something fiercer. But as I exit with torch in hand, I hear the slightest sound of human cry trapped inside its baying. I make haste back into the safety of the Chateau before he catches my scent on the wind. The gnarled fingers of wronged sorcerers looking for entrance do not mislead by masking themselves as leafless hedges scratching against my windows. Bats flutter about the Chateau’s chimney, hoping for an invitation in; the spiders come out to warn me not to acquiesce unless I have blood to spare. A witch has begun her quest from her ghoulish home in the blackened forest; I have little defense against her should she decide to make sport of me this eve. I throw another log on the fire, hoping the crackle with wash out her cackle. The cinders in the hearth flare up, churning in chaos. They come together suddenly in the shape of The Sophie Tiara, the hottest embers glowing where the rubies should be placed; the center “diamond” pulses, calling me into the grate. I miss her; I feel my blood moving in her direction. I take a hesitant step though I know my eyes deceive me. The clock strikes eleven and she is gone, swirling in a violent stream of smoke up the flue. I smile; he must be here. I am only allowed one hour each year but each year he comes to protect the Chateau and me. The noises eddy above us and the monsters crash about outside but I wrap in my blanket and retake my seat, lying back into the vigilant arms of my Rémy.