The French Chateau


She was running for her very life. From behind her she heard Them coming, It coming, something that was nobody and everybody and the dread filled her stomach with lead, making her legs feel heavy. She wanted to stop, turn and face whatever it was, fight to the end and get it over with, one way or another. Common sense took over in her terror and her flight, and she raced down one more corridor, slipped through one more door, and ran through another hallway. She had forgotten something, something that was so very important. Without it she would surely die at the hands, or teeth, of her pursuer. This realization was like a sudden pain in her heart, and she felt a sorrow well up inside her that was so deep it caught her breath.

Morgan woke with a start, hands curled, ready to strike as always. The early morning sun came thought the lace covered window like a gently nudging beacon, and she could smell clean linen and potpourri instead of sweat and fear. Still on guard, she let her eyes wander around the room, catching her breath and letting herself absorb the shock of coming so suddenly out of the nightmare.

Turning her head she could see out the window where a lush landscape unfolded before her eyes. Glimpses of the English-style wildflower gardens greeted her. Sounds of early morning birds floated on the breeze that ruffled the sheers. A knock at her door pulled her from her introspective thoughts and she tensed again, ready for whatever was about to enfold her. It was Nadjinia.

She was wearing a brocade morning robe, slightly open, showing a bit of fine linen night garments underneath. Morgan drew the thick comforter up to her throat. Nadjinia was carrying a small patter of scones and tea set for one. "How are you dear?” she asked, smiling softly. Morgan did not answer.

She felt rooted to the spot, unable to speak, as if she were watching the scene from someone else's eyes. She reached for her Others, the Ones who lived within her, to help her judge and comprehend this moment, and felt an assurance envelope her. The dream was still on her, and she tried to sense if it had been a premonition about this woman, or this place, but there was no warning that she could gauge.

Nadjinia seemed untouched by the moment of silence, matter-of-factly setting the platter down on the mahogany stand next to the bed. She addressed Morgan in a completely assured manner. ”I hope you slept well. I’ll be in the garden when you wish to join me. I have a vision in my head of you that I would like to give life to.” She brushed past her and out of the room, gently closing the door behind her.

Morgan ate quickly, and drank the rich sweetened tea, trying to hold herself back from devouring it all too fast. She knew there was no need to guard her food, hoarding what she could, and that if she wished, she could have all this and more. The old habit was hard to withstand.

Finishing, she placed the tray back onto the stand and straightened the comforter on the bed. She pulled on an oversized man’s shirt that was waiting for her. It must be one of his, she thought, smiling a little at the memory of Nadjinia’s earlier attempts to dress her and the miserable failure when they all realized that Morgan’s tastes in clothing was geared more towards fight or flight than lace and gentility. After that laughable episode Morgan always found clean (although older) clothes pressed and waiting for her, but they were clothes of a decidedly more masculine style. She slipped on the soft old pants and bent to buckle her boots. Pausing at the mirror long enough to pull a brush through her tangled hair, she twisted it up and out of her face, fastened with a pin, then she opened the door to the hallway, and carefully looked through.

As always, no one was in sight. She could faintly hear music, and realized that he was probably in the library. She didn’t pause to reflect on her strange ambivalence about him, other than she usually stayed out of his way. She knew he was not overly fond of her, not like Nadjinia, and the less she saw of him the better she felt. She recalled coming across him one morning unexpectedly. He was standing in a long morning robe, smoking and looking out over the gardens. She was sure he had not seen her, but was suddenly overcome with the conviction that he was completely aware of her presence, although no sign indicated it and he had not moved at all from his position. She had silently backed out and slipped back to her own room, knowing that although he never turned his head he was listening to her retreat.

Hearing him at work this morning reassured her that she would not come upon him on her way out, and she turned to go down the stairs and through the butler hall to the gardens. The kitchen was empty, but almost as if someone had just left it, a feeling she often felt while here. She knew there was a servant, or possibly more, yet she never saw them. She only found things folded, cleaned, served. They were quiet as Death, she reflected. It only added to the feeling she had had since arriving here. The feeling was not one of alarm, but it was certainly not one of ease. She always felt that the quiet atmosphere of the manor was fraught with undercurrents that charged her adrenalin, but all was quiet. She pushed the nagging feelings aside for a moment and stepped out onto the grounds of the estate.

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