The lantern tethered to the crook of her staff shone blue light, a warning sign of dark magic. But what has been done had been done, and the glow was feeding off only on the remnant haze. The many strewn heaps of clothes and shoes were proof that it was already too late.

Her wooden-heeled shoes and staff clicked loudly on the marble floor, ringing out eerie echoes in the empty hall. Bunching up her skirts with one arm, she stepped carefully over the spilled plates and trays of little bits of food, no doubt on their way to the main ballroom before the servants were whisked away by the cursed cloud.

She tried not to linger at the sight of the disheveled uniforms noticeably crowding closer to the doors leading away from the main hall, signs of human panic – of want to escape and evacuate regardless of anything.

The opening of the ballroom doors revealed even more clothes; the gathering of the higher lords, ladies and footmen trampling over each other in vain to get away from the manifestation of the dark powers.

Her lantern’s light glowed with an even brighter hue, turning almost blinding white. “Shhh,” she whispered, trying to soothe the fear. The light pulsated, complaining, but slowly dimmed back to a light blue hue.

Keeping her feet on the ground, she shuffled forward, pushing a trail between the silks, satins and strings of jewelry. She briefly considered plucking a few to aid her in her travels, seeing the light glint off them like stars at her feet, but the harsh flash her lantern gave her suggested otherwise.

She smirked at the pride and continued her way to the other end of the hall. Once or twice, she felt cold wisps of something around her shoulders and ankles, but they dissipated with the swishes of her lantern.

Her taffeta skirts rustled as she climbed the heavily carpeted stairs to the upper landing. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the shattered window wall, its stained glass all over the stone floor. A force from outside, deduced by the amount of glass at her feet. Damn. She loved that window. Sunrise and sunset, ripples of sunshine would be caught by the strategically placed gems in the floor and cast beautiful colors up to the lonely dark ceiling high above.

In the sunlight she saw a silhouette with her, gazing out of the window, laughing and smiling; but she couldn’t remember who. A pair of silver lined shoes opposite her own bare feet. What was she here for again?

Her lantern flickered, illuminating the sliver tips of her own wooden-heeled shoes. She was wearing shoes. Oh, right.

Her steps crunched broken glass. Cool night air wafted in, too soothing for the aftermath of a mass spiriting curse. Her lantern light softened its glow, comforting her. Its turquoise sheen highlighted a returning yellow shade.

A little while longer, and passing more doorways, she found herself in a dense hallway, lined with mahogany trims and heavily decorated with tapestry and carpets. Soft oil lamp light lit the way, their fuel still burning true in their gilded bronze petals as if the horror the castle screamed an hour ago barely touched them.

She hung her own lantern over her shoulder behind her, it’s properties no longer required.

The smell of sandalwood and paper wafted in the air, bringing her even more long-forgotten feelings. She was certain where the patches of floor underneath the carpet would squeak when stepped on; and which door lining would give her splinters if she bothered to run her fingers down them. But how? A far as she remembered, she had never set foot inside this castle before. Was it magic or her own bad memory?

She stopped in front of a humongous pair of doors, blue with gold flower linings. She knew the sound the door made when she swung them open slowly before she stuck her lantern in to illuminate the dark beyond. It glowed a stronger yellow, casting light to the entire room.

She always liked this room. Unlike many libraries, which were padded with carpets, curtains and chairs to reduce the interruption other readers brought, this place welcomed such sounds, welcomed her sounds. How she wouldn’t keep still, practically running along all the bookcases scouring for whatever caught her eye. How his voice would echo trying to read to her.

His voice.

She shuddered from within, feeling forgotten warmth. His… him?? Her light glowed soft, also feeling her growing confusion. She looked to the source within the lantern, questioning. It hummed back, echoing her puzzlement.

Footsteps to the far left behind her pattered, causing her to spin around and brandish the lantern like a flail. The light swung, illuminating as many corners as it could, but nothing was to be seen behind the thick books and the heavy shelves.

More footsteps resounded, running behind her across the hall. That was impossible. The spiriting curse left no stragglers behind. Unless…

Another had followed her. But to loot or to know?

She slammed the butt end of her staff down hard, casting a ring of light to shoot up from her lantern and descend from above. The light shone on all the corners of the room, and she spun around looking here and there for the one the footsteps came from.

But the pitter patter always managed to get behind her as she turned, and she thought she saw the trails of a black coat out of the corners of her eye.

Oh God. Did the caster come to survey their work? She backed up to the door, but it slammed heavily behind her. Her lantern shined a brilliant blue, channeling her fear.

A crackling resounded, and she turned to see the big window form a lightning-like pattern as its glass grew a shattering tree upwards. She barely had any time to blink before the window blew apart inwards, showering her with forceful shards.

She staggered back, doubling over to minimize the amount of glass hitting her face. Her lantern flashed in an erratic strobe, but she couldn’t lift her head to see anymore, lest some shards make their way into her eye.

Before she knew it a coldness opened up behind her, and ends of a cloak billowed out around her. She barely had time to scream before the darkness enclosed in the cloak swallowed her whole.

The lantern and the staff it was tethered to clattered to the floor, and its light dimmed to that of a dying firefly. The girl was gone, spirited away. But this force had taken her whole, unlike the rest of the castle, whom were snatched only by the essence of their presence.

Writer’s note: Sorry for the month-long absence. Got struck with a burn out and just couldn’t deal with everything 😦 Juggling two jobs is harder than I expected, and my anxiety amplified to a crippling point of depression D:

But here’s a new month and a new outlook, so here’s pushing to back to normal and hopefully even better 🙂