Chapter 4: The Woman Under The Cloak
The fortress must’ve been at least 12 stories tall, 50 yards wide and two hundred years old. It was covered in moss from the hinge on the drawbridge right to the flag on the top and reeked of rot. There was an old, smelly moat surrounding it with a bridge locked up and secured to the castle with many locks. On the other side of the moat was a wall of guards, all big and muscular who looked unafraid to shoot someone on the spot.
The witch whispered something to one of the guards and he immediately started undoing all the many, complicated locks. The other guards quickly followed suit. As the door creaked open you could smell something in the air, almost like a combination of desperation and hopelessness but there was something else too, something different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but there was something weird about this place that I was determined to figure out.
The first step into that fortress was something that will always send shivers down my spine. It felt as if the hall was filled with ghosts that were waiting for me to take one step out of line, to do one bad thing, and then it would be over, I would be over.
“Okay, where now?” I tried to sound positive.
“Ugh, positivity. Follow me.”
She lead me to the stairway where we climbed a spiral of stairs for what seemed like an eternity. We passed many intriguing side doors with symbols I had never seen before, never even dreamed of. After an eternity, we came to the end of the stairwell where there sat a simple wooden door with a single purple gem in the center.
As we entered the room it seemed as if the witch started to quiver in the shadows, but was too afraid to admit it.
“Are you okay?” I asked reassuringly.
“I’m fine.” She snapped back.
I guess everyone has their insecurities. Not wanting to get on her bad side, I decided to brush it off.
“So, where are we?” I inquired. Before she could respond a figure did a strange walk emerging from the shadows that can only be described as a catfish trying to do a ballet dance-really this walk can be described as many things but none are nearly as kind-. And that’s what the figure looked like too, a catfish. This figure was quite obviously a woman but she had this catfish-ish quality about her that made her look soooooo………. Unique.
She was covered from head to toe in a long, flowing, black cloak. She approached us and pulled down the hood to reveal shining white hair pulled up into a bun. Her soft eyes made me feel calm, unlike the witch’s glare. Her long, delicate, fingers brushed a hair out of her face. She smiled, showing a set of uneven slightly yellow teeth.
“Maple, I wasn’t expecting you for hours,” said the strange catfish woman. “But, since you are here I suppose we must begin.”
“Can I get some sleep first? Please? We have been traveling for the past fourteen hours!” I complained.
“Of course, my darrrling! How could I have forgotten something as important as sleep! Maple will show you to your room for the night.”
“Thank you!” I called behind me as the witch -who I guess is called Maple- guided me to the room I would be sleeping in for the night.
She lead me up even more stairs, through several large, important seeming rooms, and finally we stopped at a door decorated with seven diamond blue stars that reflected what little light was in the hall. As Maple opened the door, I stared into the room, amazed. The entire room, floor to ceiling was painted dark blue and the same kind of stars that were on my door were covering the walls and ceiling. I sat on the bed and gave a deep sigh of happiness. The mattress was as soft as a cloud.
Maple turned to face me. “Beware.” She warned. With that joyful remark she closed the door behind her.