They found their entrance into the hotel servant’s corridor without meeting
anyone. Her driver quickly ushered her into a small hallway off the main
servant’s stairs and headed for the area, which contained an old iron door. She
remembered this door from earlier times when the two of them used to run amok
inside the hotel’s vast network of passages.
“In here, quickly.” Her driver spoke harshly. “Someone’s coming up the corridor from around the corner.” The two of them quickly darted into what resembled a small storage room containing dinnerware.
“How far are we from the iron door?” she whispered so as not to be heard from
the corridor outside the closed door.
“We’re about thirty metres from it.” Her driver spoke. The footfalls passed them and they alighted from the storage room. Her driver led them directly to the iron door.
She looked at the plain iron door. There was neither handle nor keyhole to be found. Clearly visible above the door was an inscription written in Latin.
Those who have not earned passage shall not enter.
“What does it mean?” her driver asked.
“I know.” She spoke softly. “Only those who are meant to pass shall be able to open the door, but where is the lock?” She stepped closer to the door and felt her hand tingle.
“Did you feel that?” her driver whispered.
“I did.” She replied. “Almost like it’s telling me how to open the door.” Together they stretched out their arms and slowly stroked their index fingers down the centre of the door. Instantly, they began hearing a series of mechanical clicks and springs. The door swung gently upon its hinges as though it was new, but the door had clearly never been opened in years. Their view beyond the door’s portal revealed a small alcove. They stepped over the door’s threshold and into the alcove. The iron door gently swung closed behind them. The sounds they heard previously repeated themselves and the iron door was once again locked. Torch holders on the wall sprang to life the instant the door was locked.
“Looks like we’re here for a while. The door looks the same on this side too. No handle or keyholes.” Her driver reflected.
“I think our exit is by another way. Remember the few one way doors in the hall?” she spoke.
“I remember them; they had us trapped a few times in places we weren’t supposed to be.” Her driver spoke. The two of them carefully examined the contents of the room. The first thing she noticed was that there was an absence of any dust on the floor. It was as though someone knew the alcove was to be used soon and was cleaned from top to bottom, yet the room smelled devoid of any recent cleaning. Their only exit appeared to be a staircase leading downwards. Also in the alcove were several items that appeared to be new, but were clearly hundreds of years old. One item in particular caught her attention. It was a simple garment made from what looked like silk, but was clearly anything but. She glided her fingers over the soft material as though it longed to be worn by her. She recognised the family coat of arms on the sleeve and wondered why it was there and not on the front, where she had always seen it.
“This is strange.” Her driver noted. Half hidden by a shiny yet old
breastplate, set into the stone floor, was the family coat of arms.
“I wonder…” She started to say as she stepped on top of the shield in the centre of the coat of arms. Instantaneously, her own garment flew from her body as though torn at the seams. The garment she had admired earlier leapt onto her body. The matching halves of a breast and back plate, followed by leg covers and shin guards, joined the simple garment. Her shoes vanished and she looked down to see her feet covered in leather boots with shiny steel spats. She felt leather shorts on herself underneath the leg guards. Her fore arms were bound with braided leather covered with steel guards similar to the ones on her shins. The entire wardrobe change enveloped her almost instantly. She then nodded to her driver to do the same as she stepped off the coat of arms shield. The same process repeated itself with her driver and the two women regarded each other.
“This is getting too weird.” Her driver spoke aloud.
“Something here wants us to present ourselves dressed in this manner.” She observed. “We shall not disappoint them.” She noticed her wedding band begin to glow. Other than her ring, she wore nothing except the new garments she’d received after stepping onto the coat of arms shield. She noted her driver’s wedding band also glowed slightly. She held up her hand so that her driver could also notice her ring.
“Mine too.” Her driver noticed. “I am starting to get a little nervous about this.”
“I am too, but I think what wants us to present ourselves, has prepared us for something.” She spoke softly.
“Perhaps it’s some kind of test?” her driver asked.
“Perhaps, but I think it’s not quite like that.” She responded. “These garments almost seem to be ceremonial. If you notice they are quite light.”
“I noticed that too.” Her driver commented. “But they also appear to be very strong too.”
“Well, we had better get going if we are to find out what is waiting for us.” She spoke firmly in a calm yet commanding tone.
“Let’s be off then.” Her driver announced. No sooner had they taken a step towards the staircase that lit torches flew into their hands. They had not even stopped to consider taking torches, but she had thought briefly about how they were to see their way down the dark staircase.
“I don’t know where these torches came from, but it will make it easier to see where we are going.” Her driver commented.
“I was thinking about how we were to see anything in the dark staircase, and
the next thing I knew, I was holding a torch.” She spoke. The next instant she
felt a weight on her shoulder. She glanced at her driver and noticed the hilt of
a sword at her driver’s hip. She looked to her own hip and noticed the hilt of a
sword as well. A simple leather belt held a short scabbard in which the sword
rested which ran over her shoulder.
“Anything else you care to think about before we descend these stairs?” She giggled.
“If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know before we end up wrapped in something really heavy.” Her driver snorted. The two women began slowly descending the staircase. The torches they held illuminated the path before them. The only sound she heard was the clinking of the light armour the two of them wore. The staircase was made of several individual flights of stairs, which led them down the equivalent of three floors. Upon reaching the bottom, a short tunnel led them into a large chamber whose ceiling seemed to appear as though to flood the room with light, but was merely a reflection of the light from their torches.
“I guess we won’t need these anymore.” She commented. Two torch rings appeared as their torches illuminated the wall behind them. They each placed their torches into the rings, and they began to examine the chamber they had just entered.
“I found something.” Her driver spoke. “Over here in the corner.” She hurried
across the room to inspect together what her driver had found. Half laying, half
sitting, chained to the wall, was a skeleton, dressed similarly as they were.
The skeleton’s identity was a complete mystery. A sword lay on the stone floor a
short distance away. It appeared to be beyond the reach of the limit of the
chain, which still bound the skeleton’s remains to the wall.
“Touch nothing until we figure out what we are supposed to do.” She spoke quietly. “I really don’t want to end up like our ancestor here.” Her driver nodded in compliance. The two women continued to search the chamber carefully. The only other items in the chamber was a shield bearing the family coat of arms, which was resting against an adjacent wall, a chamber pot, and a small book which appeared from it’s cover to be a journal, a bottle of ink, and a quill resting on a small desk within the skeleton’s reach of chain. Hanging on an opposite wall was a single key, which they both commented must open the lock binding the skeleton.
“What now?” her driver asked. “Do we open the book or retrieve the key?”
“How about both at the same time?” she spoke. That way if one of them is a trap we can still come to each other’s aide.”
“Good idea.” Her driver responded.
“Together, on three.” She firmly spoke. The two of them, positioned themselves and placed their hands close to the items they were to retrieve.
“One, two, three.” They closed their hands upon the key and journal simultaneously. Expecting something to happen, they quickly approached each other and remained close together.
“OK, nothing unexpected so far.” She spoke. “Book first. Keep hold of my arm so we don’t get separated.” She gently opened the journal’s cover. The date neatly scripted inside the cover was April 30, 1683. Underneath the date was the name “Lady Gwen”. The entire journal’s pages were completely blank.
“Either this book was never written in or the writing is invisible for some reason.” She commented to her driver.
“Look now!” exclaimed her driver. The front page shimmered slightly and words began to appear on the journal’s open page.
“I am the Lady Gwen. You have found what no other before you have chosen to seek.” She read from the page.
“For some reason I think our ancestor chained to the wall might want us to help her.” She spoke.
“But how are we to know what is to be done?” her driver questioned. The
journal’s page shimmered once again. The previous passage was replaced with new
neatly written script.
“Yes, indeed. What will you do first? Complete a prearranged sequence and you shall be able to find what I was not able to. But beware, choose poorly and you shall take my place.” She read aloud so her driver could hear.
“Unlock Lady Gwen’s bindings first.” She commanded. “When we’ve finished finding what we are supposed to, we shall have to make arrangements to have her properly laid to rest.”
“I agree. It seems only proper to pay respect to our ancestor.” Her driver commented as her driver walked across the floor and unlocked the shackles binding Lady Gwen’s skeleton to the wall. Her driver returned the key to its ring on the opposite wall. The skeleton’s remains rose and were enveloped with a swirling mist. Moments later the form of a young woman appeared before them similarly clad as they were.
“I thank you for freeing me from my fate and my prison. I am forever your
servant, Ma’am.” The form of Lady Gwen’s voice resounded sweetly.
“I am The Grand Duchess and Matriarch of our Family. I am honoured to have you join us in our quest.” She spoke softly with a commanding tone. The Lady Gwen’s form dropped to her knees and touched her head to the floor.
“Forgive me for not recognising you immediately, Ma’am.” Lady Gwen’s voice sounded. “For only those who have earned passage may enter this chamber. I do not however, recognise your companion, Ma’am.”
“Lady Gwen, Rise and be introduced to my confidant and master of swords to
the family.” She spoke softly. She looked to her driver and noticed that crossed
swords had appeared elegantly engraved into the breastplate her driver wore. The
swords that hung from both their hips now bore the family’s coat of arms on the
basket half covering the hilts of their swords. Her hand tingled slightly and
she felt the urge to extend her hand. The Lady Gwen’s form rose slowly and
gently kissed her outstretched hand. The next instant she felt a sensation flood
through her entire body. Her ring glowed brightly from where the Lady Gwen’s
form kissed her. The mist surrounding Lady Gwen vanished instantly and Lady Gwen
collapsed onto the stone floor.
“Help her.” She commanded her driver. “I don’t know why or how, but I think we’ve resurrected her or removed a very old curse.” Her driver supported Lady Gwen and checked her pulse and breathing. She was indeed very much alive where before she had been nothing more than a skeleton bound by chains to the wall of the chamber. A few minutes later Lady Gwen opened her eyes.
“Ma’am, Forgive me. I did not know you were here.” Lady Gwen spoke through tears. Her driver continued to hold Lady Gwen.
“Lady Gwen, How long have you been here?” She commanded.
“I am not sure, Ma’am.” Lady Gwen wept.
“What date is it?” She asked, again with a commanding tone.
“It must be the second or third week of May, Ma’am.” Lady Gwen spoke, beginning to hold back her tears.
“What is the year?” She commanded softly.
“Ma’am?” Lady Gwen spoke softly. “The year is sixteen eighty three. Why do
“Lady Gwen, Do you recognise the family’s Master of swords against whom you rest?” she asked in a softly commanding tone. Lady Gwen looked into her driver’s face and looked shocked.
“Ma’am, you do my sister a great honour by making her your master of swords.” Lady Gwen spoke softly.
“Lady Gwen, You have returned from a long sleep. You are being held, by a great grand niece several generations departed from you.” She spoke softly. “It is the year of our Lord Two thousand and two and you have finally awakened and returned to us after sleeping for more than four hundred years.” Lady Gwen fainted from shock.
“That went well.” Her driver giggled. “Shall we see if she can remember anything else when she wakes up again?”
“This time, I think we should not try and tell her too much about the present and have her faint on us again.” She giggled in response. Lady Gwen awoke a few moments later.
“T-T-TWO THOUSAND?” Lady Gwen stuttered. Her eyes were wide in disbelief.
When parents are out, what can teenagers do?
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