I don’t know how long it’s been, a few hours, maybe. For now, the noises outside have stopped and I appear to be safer than I was then, I definitely feel it now that I’ve managed to bring the fireplace back to life. Now that things have settled down, I set up a small camp around the fire, and finally begin to take in my surroundings. People had said the old mansion was big, but I never expected it to be this grand.
I look all the way up the ashen walls and the shreds of drapes laden with soot. Years ago this mansion was the epicentre of all things cultured in our city, hidden away in the forest it was the absolute idea of isolated bliss. Then one night a fire sprung from nowhere, catching light to most of the beauty that was and now here I am, little old me, set up in the grand hall of nothing looking at the gaping holes in the ceiling where the moonlight streams in like the blaze once did.
It’s probably not the safest of places, structurally, but it makes me feel safe. There’s a tranquility to it that I can’t find anywhere else. Other than whatever was outside not long ago, I’ve never felt more serene than right here. It’s quite a trek from the city, it takes a few hours by foot but it’s worth it. The sights to see on the way through the forest are unimaginable. The trees accompany me like old friends down overgrown paths and across whispering streams and then they ease their tender embrace of leaf and foliage to the wonderfully desolate old mansion, the once shining glory since turned pauper.
Nobody knew what happened, but by the time people realised the fire had already spread to more than what was manageable and the priority then became containing it in the mansion and keeping it from brushing with the surrounding forest. Since then the derelict building has been left to die of natural causes, mainly nature itself.
I think it’s beautiful, though, now meekly lit by the very thing to cause it harm. I turn my attention back to the fire, jumping and dancing with the wind to the wonderful serenade from the orchestral oaks outside.
Then the noises come again, growls from outside, probably some beasts the forest gave birth to long ago. Something tells me those growls are of hunger rather than greeting. I smother the fire and light a candle to take the attention away from what would seem outside to be the glowing husk of human history.
Without the fire, a chill flows through the hall as the candle struggles to compete with it’s fiery mother, now deceased. Rather than a dance, it gives me a sprightly show of shadows on the nearby walls. Focusing on the moving shapes across the peeling paper is much easier than slowly going mad at the baying growls from outside, it’s as if the trees were scared too as now there is only silence.
The gentle pulse of the candle shows me sights of what had been reflected onto the skin of the building, billowing shadows masquerade themselves as dresses gently floating across the hall in a frivolous fashion. Accompanied by others swaying in the shadows, they all fade one by one as the candle dies until only a meagre morsel limps across the floor towards me as the illumination slowly succumbs to the night.
The candle’s distraction has passed the time well, the growling has deceased along with the light and I think it’s time to sleep. I wonder what else the mansion holds in store for me. Tomorrow will be interesting.