Chapter One: The Decidedly Unpleasant Morning

New to the series? Don’t forget to read the prologue, “The Knife in the Dark,” here!

Autumn Lionflower rolled out of her bed and hit the floor with a resounding thud. At least it was slightly rotted and as such softer than strong, healthy wood. She groaned and pulled herself up, noting in her cracked mirror that she have been floating in her sleep because yet again her hair was standing straight up and a bat hung sleepily from her ear. The banshees had been howling last night and as much as she normally enjoyed their melodious screetchings, she suspected that their yearly howl was taking place this week. An entire pack of banshees was just a bit much, even for her.

At this point you may have several questions on your mind. You may be wondering when a banshee’s screetchings are even slightly melodious. You may be wondering why this seemingly harmless girl lives in such a place that the floor is rotten and the mirror cracked. But Autumn is a necromancer and for them the screams of nightmarish creatures are as soothing as rain, the older (and more haunted) the home the better, and cracked mirrors are simply standard. From the moment that Autumn breathed her first it was clear that she was different from her siblings. She often brought bones, dead creatures, and strange insects home to show them and even though her magic manifested late, it came as no surprise what school she belonged to.

With a wave of her hand she fixed her hair, donned her hat, and waited for her robe to drift over her shoulders. The moment she stepped out of her room she was swarmed by some ghosts on their way out to the graveyard. They swirled around her, making a faint swishing sound and their essences brushed over her skin, cooling it, as if she had touched a cloud. She sighed happily, and felt the foul mood brought on by the banshees begin to ease. She shuffled to the stairs, still thoroughly engulfed by the ghosts, and began to descend, trying her best not to trip. When at last she reached the bottom the ghosts rushed off into the walls without a word. Autumn shook her head, grumbling to herself, “well that’s just typical“, and made her way to the kitchen unimpeded at last. When she arrived, her servantghoul gargled at her happily and presented her with her morning tea. An eye drifted to the top. “Winston, you never cease to improve my mornings,” she said with a wink. The ghoul moaned and attempted what might be a smile. With wobbly steps he headed out to the garden to give the Deadly Fly Traps their breakfast and Autumn was left alone to her thoughts and her tea.

Interrupting the silence with a chirp and a puff of dust Tasha, Autumn’s reanimated mummified cat, jumped onto her lap. Displeased at the fact that she hadn’t immediately received attention she collapsed and began to play dead. Autumn chuckled, picked up the cat and draped her over neck and shoulders like a scarf. Tasha began to purr and hung there happily as her mistress sipped her tea. “I must look like some old, humpbacked hag,” Autumn thought to herself.

Now, Autumn counted herself very lucky that she just so happened to live in a house as haunted as this one. In fact, it had been haunted for so long it had begun to take on a persona of its own. While for some people this could be considered a truly horrible thing, for Autumn this was a weight off her back. Not only was it the perfect environment for her to practice her spellwork, but The House served as pleasant company when the spirits were out and about and it was perfectly capable of waving off any unwanted visitors.

This morning in particular, when The House began to shudder and growl that something uninvited was approaching Autumn could feel its presence too and it was indeed something entirely uninvited, sickly sweet and bouncing with unbridled joy. “Ugh,” she thought to herself, spitting her last sip of tea back into the cup,“a messenger elf.” Tasha lazily fell off her neck and collapsed in a heap next to the chair. Autumn patted the heap absentmindedly. “It’s no matter really…The House will take care of it.” The House continued to snarl and gnash its broken porch beams together and yet the elf kept coming up the path. And then the unthinkable: it arrived at the door. Autumn’s eyes widened, suddenly coming to the realization of what was about to occur. She gasped, grabbed Tasha, and braced herself. The doorbell rang…and The House roared. It was a great bellowing roar that shook everything and everyone in The House. In the kitchen several brain jars and a spider vessel fell off their shelves, leaving the floor smattered with bits of brain, fluid, and hundreds of spiders scuttling off to freedom.

When the shaking finally stopped Autumn was shocked to discover that not only was the elf still waiting at the door, but it was now impatiently rapping on the door and tapping its foot. She sighed and stood. “This is ridiculous…at this hour of the morning…I just can’t believe it…” she grumbled to Tasha who chirped in agreement. She paused on her way to the door for a moment to stare despairingly at the spot where all her jars had fallen. She sighed again. It was going to take hours to gather all those spiders again.

Loathe for anyone to see her in her morning things she gathered her magic around her. With a hollow moan a slight breeze travelled throughout the house, snuffing out the lights one by one. Drawing upon the darkness around her, Autumn wove a shroud of pure shadow around herself. Complete with the bat that still hung from her ear she was quite a fearsome thing to behold. “Maybe this is what it’ll take to scare off the elf” she thought with a wicked smile.

Autumn opened the door.

3 thoughts on “Chapter One: The Decidedly Unpleasant Morning

  1. Julia Lionflower Post author

    @misthead Starting to see how things are connecting yet? ;D
    @eric-stormbringer Thank you! 😀 And messenger elves are at their core the most obstinate of creatures, capable of finding their message’s recipient in rain or shine, on a mountain peak or in the deepest chasm. A little haunted house is nothing!

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