The First Night

“So, are you ready for your first night at Akebiall?” asked Matthew as he leaned against the door, watching Luke and Peregrine pack a few things for Luke’s first overnight adventure.

“Almost, all I need is that item you promised to give me, whatever it is,” Luke replied, eyeing his strange benefactor.

Matthew grinned, “Good, because you cannot put it in your pack. I’ll explain on our way over. Thanks for the help Peregrine, I’ll take it from here.” Peregrine nodded, and walked to the door, then paused by Matthew.

“Why are you helping him when you have let so many before go to their deaths?” Peregrine whispered harshly while Luke was mesmerized yet again by his destination beckoning him outside his window.

“Missing in action does not mean dead, Peregrine. Besides, I have my orders, and I am not one to question them,” Matthew replied in a low voice.

Peregrine sighed, “Fine, you know what you’re doing. His life is in your hands now, please don’t toy with it.”

“Don’t worry, like I said, I have my orders. Now get back to your customers before they drive Gandulphus nuts,” Matthew remarked, pushing Peregrine out and slamming the door. The noise startled Luke out of his trance, who spun around, but only saw Matthew’s grinning face. “Glad that worked. Now, what say we set out to conquer that castle, eh?” Luke nodded, grabbed his pack and followed Matthew out of the tavern. They walked on in silence, the castle growing with every step. A few feet from the castle, Matthew stopped and turned to face the young adventurer. “Alright, this is where we must part ways. You will continue on to the castle, and I shall go back to the tavern to wait for your return in the morning.”

“Uh, what about that special item you said you were going to give me?” Luke asked.

“Ah yes, do you have those extra candles I gave you?”

“Yes, they’re in my pack,” said Luke.

“Good, get one out please,” Matthew said. Luke opened his pack and fished out a floral-scented, pure-white candle. When he looked up to give it to Matthew, he saw that Matthew was holding a lantern and a lit candle. Luke blinked, Matthew did not bring the candle with him, meaning he must have hid it behind a nearby rock. Luke did not get to think more on the matter nor did he get a chance to ask Matthew for then his guide had taken the candle, lit it, and placed it within the lantern. “Alright, these candles should last you until morning. Do not, I repeat, do not let the spirits blow out the candles while you are replacing them, the light keeps them at bay, thus keeping you safe,” warned Matthew.

“What would happen to me if they do blow it out?”

“You would go insane and not know the difference between nightmare and reality,” Matthew solemnly replied.

“O-oh, I-I see,” Luke stammered, trying to take the lantern from Matthew, but when he refused to let go, Luke was forced to meet his stern and electrifying gaze.

“Are you sure you want to do this? Once you go through those castle doors, there’s no turning back.” Luke paused, then glanced at the castle, his eyes going over its form until they rested upon the tallest tower where a lady lay waiting for her hero.

Luke took a deep breath before replying with, “Yes, I’m sure.”

Matthew nodded, “Very well, may the hand of fate be on your side. I will wait for you at the tavern.”

Luke shook his hand, “Thank you for everything.”

“For everything so far, you mean. And don’t thank me until it’s all over, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will help you for the next two nights. Now, you’d better get a move-on, the sun has almost set. Oh, and one more thing, try singing when you change the candles, spirits are not particularly fond of music.”

“Alright, thanks for the advice,” said Luke as he began walking towards the castle. As he neared the castle doors, he turned back and saw Matthew waving. Luke looked back at the castle, took a deep breath, and plunged into the dark hall, unsure of the mysteries and the terrors that awaited him.

The spirits didn’t show up till some time later, about midnight. Their hideous shrieks and laughter reached Luke’s ears before he caught sight of their horrible faces. If it had not been for the candle, filling his nose with hints of roses and hellebores, he would have fled the castle. And, as Matthew had predicted, the spirits gave the light a wide berth, bringing relief and fresh hope to Luke. When the first candle began dying, Luke quickly switched it out with a new one, without any interference from the spirits, making him bold enough to begin exploring the castle. The first floor consisted of the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, a ballroom, a gameroom, and a library filled to the brim with books. Luke raised the lantern to the shelves, then gasped, he had only a few minutes left of the candle. He placed the lantern and his pack on a table, and took out his last candle. He prepared to light it when he heard a sound that reminded him of a whistling wind. He quickly closed the lantern, just as a breeze blew through. Luke gritted his teeth, the spirits were trying to blow out his light! He had to act fast before the candle went out by itself, but he couldn’t remember Matthew’s advice. He began to panic when he felt the spirits practically breathing down his neck. He started thinking of his home and his family in an attempt to calm himself down. In doing so, he thought of a song his mother used to sing to calm him down after a nightmare, then remembered that Matthew mentioned spirits didn’t like music. Luke took a deep breath, and began to sing, “Don’t worry about a thing, my dear,? The darkness always goes away? The day will  dawn, the light will come/ And keep all your fears at bay./ They cannot touch you, no,/ When the sun peeks over the horizon/ He shoots the shadows with his arrows/ And sends them scampering off again./ They will come back when nighttime falls/ And the moon is at her post/ But the sun has given her some arrows/ And all the stars as her host./ Tis true they are not the sun/ But they truly try their best/ To keep us happy and hopeful/ And strengthen the courage in your chest./ So don’t worry about a thing, my dear,/ The darkness always goes away/ The day will dawn, the light will come,/ And it will keep all your fears away at bay.” Luke let out a sigh of relief, the song had kept the spirits away long enough for him to change candles. Knowing that he was safe, he went back to browsing the shelves, not realizing the spirits had left until the sunlight came streaming through the windows. He made his way back to the Silver Key, where Matthew and Peregrine awaited him with a big meal. After eating all that he could and had related the night’s adventures, Luke walked drowsily to his room, where he dozed off into a deep and dreamless sleep.

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