Sorry I’m late, guys… It’s been a tumultuous day:
Somewhere, far away, there is a small village sitting at the foot of a large hill. It is a quiet village – peaceful. And its’ residents do not speak of the castle that crests the top of the hill. If you find yourself in the village, in the dark of some Autumnal night, do not be concerned. The villagers are kind. You will, no doubt, find yourself resting comfortably, staring into the crackle-and-snap fire of some family hearth. You will be given plenty to eat and drink before finally, taking your rest for the night wrapped in warm, homemade blankets, cozy in front of the fire.
And eventually, when all the family has gone to bed and the room is empty and silent, save for the crackling of the fire, you will bask in its’ glow and reflect upon just how lucky you were to find this place, this pretty little hamlet, worlds away from the dirt and noise of the city. This lovely place where everyone is kind and warm. Where people take care of each other, without asking for compensation, merely because it is necessary – because it is the thing, kind, decent human beings do.
Yes, you will reflect, in the calm and peace of the evening, on how very lucky you are. And how beautiful this place is. Quaint, you’ll think. And you’ll tuck the blankets in around you just a little bit tighter as you realize that the silence is not quite as silent as you had thought. Somewhere, just beneath the soft crackle of the fire, you will hear a high-pitched whistle that is not quite a whistle. A fluting sound, somehow melodic and entrancing. You will try, for a few minutes, to convince yourself that it is merely the wind, howling around the thin wooden walls of the house.
But it is not the wind. And now you’ve started to pick out the melody, delicate and sweet and somehow just out of reach. It is not a tune you’ve heard before, but somehow it still sounds familiar. You find yourself almost humming along.
It is calling you. You know that now. You do not recall making the decision to get up or leave the house, but suddenly, you find yourself outside in the bitter cold. Only now the cold is not quite so bitter, not with the sweet tune in your ears. You find yourself itching to hear more of it – a desire you cannot quite put a name to, since you’ve never been particularly fond of music before. But you must hear more. You simply must. The need for it fills you and you begin to climb the hill, regardless of the cold.
You will climb the hill, with the chill moonlight illuminating frosted blades of grass on your way. You heed neither moonlight nor chill nor wind. You will follow the music. The castle looms at the top of the hill, like an ogre, casting its’ shadow across the valley.
Finally, you reach the hilltop. The castle, now that you are confronted with it, is no smaller than you had thought it was. But it is no longer silent. Enormous oaken doors stand before you, open just a crack, just enough for buttery rich lamplight to seep out onto the cold grass.
And the music that led you here is no longer just a flute, but a symphony, the music spilling out into the air like golden steam. Just beyond those doors, you know, is what you’ve always been looking for. You don’t know what it is you’ve been looking for, but you’re certain it’s waiting for you.
You smile without realizing it, as you push open the doors to the hall beyond. And it looks as though all the color that’s been missing from the world has come to rest here. You’ve stumbled upon a ball. Glittering jewel-toned gowns whirl in a dance. Gleaming silver and crystal and gems shimmering against pale skin. A carousel of color, whirling around you, as a man steps forward, taking your hand and drawing you into the dance.
You had not planned on dancing tonight. Indeed, you are not dressed for it, but your feet find the rhythm as you move. It is easier with his arm around you, supporting you, holding you close. Tall and pale, with long dark hair drawn back away from his face, and eyes so dark it seems you could fall into them and never reach the bottom.
He has not told you his name, nor has he asked yours. Nor does it matter. Names have no importance here. There is only the music and the light and the movement. And you.
He holds you tightly and you’re certain that he can feel your heart hammering against your ribcage. You notice that you cannot feel his heartbeat. And then you try not to notice that cannot feel his heartbeat. You do not want to think about why.
You dance for hours. The music continues, like an endless stream, golden and lovely. You do not become tired. Your feet do not ache. It feels like floating. It feels like the joy you have been continually seeking, but somehow never quite managed to find.
And when, in the dimness of the night, in the black hours before dawn, he takes your hand and draws you out of the ballroom, you do not protest. The small chamber off of the ballroom is dark and dusty. Even in the dim light, you can see a thick layer of dust on the furniture, limning the old-fashioned sofa and the heavy, dark-wooden desk. The mullioned windows cast moonlight onto the floor in strange patterns, pale and somehow sorrowful-looking, in spite of the music pouring from the ballroom just a few feet away.
He stands right behind you. Close enough, you think, that you should be able to feel his warmth up against your back, if there were any to feel. Cool fingers sweep your hair off of your neck, gently shifting it onto your shoulder. And when you feel the fangs against the skin of your neck, you are not surprised.
You will come.
You will dance.
You will become one of us.
Dance, Castle, Flute