Near the Distant Forest lies the town of Darkness, tucked away and hidden by the looming trees. Trevelyan Hale arrives in the town of Darkness only to fall in love with a girl who cannot give him her heart, as it is no longer hers to give. This is a story of love, loss, and the lives surrounding Raincrowe Manor, a house that sits on a hill surrounded by shadows and a tragic family curse.
This story begins and ends in the Town of Darkness, aptly named because of the enormous shadow cast over it by the Distant Forest. Not to mention the fact that it is almost constantly raining. If my memory serves me correctly, it was always raining at Raincrowe Manor. The very thought of the place sends shudders down my spine, but this is a story I want to tell, and the telling of it requires me to remember things I would rather have left buried and forgotten.
My best friend, Ace Adair, had dragged me out of my monotonous life in the City of Wonder and brought me to his family’s estate in Darkness. He told me I needed to get some country air and forget the worries of the city. He had slapped me on the back and said,“Come on, Trev, you’ve been sitting around with your nose in books for months. Its high time you get outside and stop worrying!” He had then somehow managed to wheedle me into his carriage and drag me into the country.
The country air had certainly been fresher, but I could sense an oppressive weight as we passed the Distant Forest, the damp pine scent filling the air. The rain was hammering roughly on the roof of the carriage and I clenched my fists in my lap. Ace had chatted happily to me for most of the ride, but I had barely heard a word of it. I loved my friend, but sometimes his constant energy left me exhausted. I enjoyed time for quiet, time for my thoughts.
I began paying attention again the moment he mentioned Raincrowe Manor, as though I knew even then that something would happen to me there. “Raincrowe Manor?” I asked, hoping he would repeat what he had said.
He smiled happily. “Yes! Raincrowe Manor. My parents told me they are invited to dinner parties there sometimes. I’ve heard myself that the place is creepy and the family even more so. Chances are we’ll end up being dragged to one of these parties, so prepare yourself for an evening of monotonous, yet creepy enjoyment. As long as the food is good, it won’t matter much to me anyway.”
Ace had been my best friend since childhood and he had kept that childhood enthusiasm. He seemed to see only the good in the world and people. By any degree, most would say he was a handsome young man. His dark brown hair was short, yet wavy, and always styled in the highest fashion. His eyes were a soft gray and always clearly displayed his kind heart. Though a slight man, he had strength in his build and was always a fan of showing off in front of ladies.
The majority of the time, I honestly couldn’t have told you why he would choose me as a friend. We were both the same age, eighteen, but that was where our similarities ended. Though I had the brightness in coloring, my temperament had always left something to be desired. I had always preferred to be left to my books or my thoughts. The majority of the time people thought I was a snob. At best I had always been considered broody. I had fought the description for a while, but soon realized that most of what people said about me was true. I was young and could be charming when I had call to be, but I had yet to experience most of what life had to offer me. The world was frightening to me and if it had not been for Ace, it would have seen a lot less of me.
The carriage turned into the centre of the small town and we passed a few curious faces. People were bustling about, unhindered by the heavy rain. The dirt street had turned muddy and young children were playing in the puddles, their mothers yelling and scolding in their wake. It did not take long for us to reach the Adair Estate. We pulled through the enormous wrought iron gates and the carriage carried us up the hill towards the house.
The estate was situated on a small hill, surrounded by a few stray trees. Everything about it was bright and beautiful and it looked completely out of place. The walls were a light colored stone and peaked up into a slightly sloping roof. The windows were large and there were bright plants surrounding the property. The carriage stopped in front of the massive white doors and we stepped out into the rain.
Ace grinned at the sight of his family home. A footman came out of the house and immediately began assisting with the luggage. As we entered the grand marbled hall, Ace’s mother came bustling in, her eyes bright with excitement. She was short, with a bit of a rounded figure and eyes filled with kindness. Briana Adair was the kindest lady I had ever met.
“Ace! Dear Trevelyan, it is wonderful to see you.” She came over to us quickly, drawing us to her in a loving embrace. “I hope you traveled well? I’ll get someone to draw you baths. Dinner is almost ready!” She left as quickly as she had come and soon enough we were both taken to our rooms and hot baths had been prepared.
After I had bathed and dressed for dinner, I went downstairs. Ace joined me soon after and we were led into the dining room. There was a grand wooden table that could easily have seated 20 people. Ace’s father sat at one end reading, a pipe sticking out of his mouth. He looked up as we entered and he smiled happily. “Son! Great to see you boy, you’ve been keeping well I take it? Your mother mentioned you were coming. Good to see you again too, Trev,” he nodded towards me.
I sat down at the table and nodded towards Richard.“Thank you, sir. It is always an honor to be welcomed here.”
“Oh, tosh. Sit down, boys. Dinner is supposed to be here any minute.” Richard waved at the chairs impatiently, quickly hiding his pipe before his wife caught him. After giving his father a quick embrace, Ace sat next to me as we waited for dinner. Ace’s mother appeared soon after and sat near her husband.
I looked around the well lit room and felt instantly at home. I had always been treated as though I belonged and I was eternally grateful for the Adair’s hospitality. My reverie was cut short as the meal arrived before us. It was a simple meal of various vegetables, soup and roasted pheasant.
Ace’s father dug in ruthlessly, stopping every once in a while to talk about various subjects. “So, boys, I hope you don’t mind, but we’ve been invited to a dinner party tomorrow night. Nothing too fancy, but there will be several families in attendance.”
Ace sighed dramatically. “And where, pray, is this dinner party?”
Briana smiled happily. “Raincrowe Manor, of course.”
My heart skipped a beat as I heard that name again. I shook my head slightly. I had never even been there, knew nothing about it. “Raincrowe manor? Am I to be in attendance as well?” I asked, both hoping and dreading the answer.
“Of course, my boy! I already sent a message mentioning you would be coming with us.”
Ace patted me on the shoulder and not so silently whispered, “Prepare yourself for an evening of intense boredom and possibly questionable food.”
I smiled slightly. “I’m sure its not as bad as that.”
Ace raised an eyebrow. “Oh, but it is. I hear the family is so pale it seems as though they’ve never even seen the sun, let alone wandered around in it.”
“Oh do be quiet, Ace,” scolded his mother. “You know very well the Raincrowe’s are a respected family. And they have indeed been in the sun.”
Ace smiled pleasantly at his mother. “Of course. This pheasant is delicious.”
Richard laughed and pushed his empty plate away. “I’m glad to see you again, son.”
When the meal was finished, I excused myself and retired to my bedroom. I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to sleep. I entered my room and sighed contentedly. The fire had been lit in the small, lavishly decorated room, the light casting flickering shadows against the walls. Against one wall stood a bed large enough for three, the gold brocade curtains falling lightly on either side. There was a window seat looking out over Darkness and I could hear the rain patter against the glass. I walked over to the window and sat down, looking out over the town.
I had been wrong; the only view was that of a dark manor on a hill, surrounded by trees and shadows. Raincrowe. I stared at the manor, my heart beat quickening, though I knew not why. There was a faint light coming from only one of the windows, in the tower on the left side of the house. I could see the light flickering through the rain and I stared. I felt drawn towards the house, but I could not yet tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing. I felt there was something important drawing me there, something both sinister and hopeful.
I stood up again and got ready for bed. As I slid beneath the covers, I thought about the house on the hill, the darkness closing in on all sides. All I could see as I drifted to sleep was Raincrowe Manor, a house surrounded by shadow.