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Chap. 1

The walls closed in, crushing the air from the bed chamber. Syrupy blood, sweet scented, seeped through the papered walls, trickling to the floor. The warm liquid pooled around and then over Micah’s bare feet, rising to his blanched ankles.

It’s not real…

The room shook, jostling his candelabra’s dancing light to fervor. Micah’s hand swung down, rescuing his balance on the corner of a draped four poster that hadn’t seen slumber in days.

Not real…

Oils paintings of the manor’s long line of patriarch’s rattled the walls. Micah’s head swiveled back and forth between the images. Distorted smiles grinned back at him. One masterpiece of the macabre rattled free of its mount, crashing to the floor, splintering a gilded frame.


He grabbed for the sheathed claymore propped by the headboard. His fingers grazed the hilt, his toes slid through blood.

The floor rushed up to break his fall. The armoire was faster and smashed him in the face. A pewter handle carved a wonderfully deep gash over his left eye. Stars dressed his vision, dancing like fireflies. Micah grunted and dragged himself through the crimson pool, smearing the pristine white linen of his bed shirt. A breeze of rusty iron fluttered through the draped curtains.

A demonic voice taunted from the cold hearth.


Micah screamed. He seized the claymore from its slumber, slipped, and danced his way over the slickened floor. He flailed wildly at nothing, cleaving shadow from drapery until his arms tired.

A knock came at the chamber door.

Micah spun, claymore trembling between his hands.

“My lord. Tis Connor, sir. Is everything alright?”

Not re--

Micah blinked. The heavy sword clanged away, surrendered by his sweaty hands. Connor nudged the chamber door open and peered inside. “My lord, pardon the intrusion but—“

Micah knelt at the room’s center, staring through a column of lunar shine. He twisted his hands over, wringing a sickly mix of sweat and blood onto the floor, wild eyed and on the verge of tears. Tatters of bed linen and drapery were piled about like scraps from a tailor’s mannequin.

“Lord Micah?”

“Can you see it, Connor?” Micah whisper-panted.

“The blood, my lord?”

Micah’s eyes widened to their limit. He pleaded at the paunchy man-servant. “Yes…”


Connor shook his head. “Apologies, my lord. But tis the same as the last time I’m afraid. And the time before that.”

Micah’s shoulders slumped under the crushing defeat. His eye lids suddenly felt much heavier than they had a moment before. The exhausted lord of the manor gestured for assistance. “Rest, Connor. I need rest. And the sun.”

Connor pulled the distraught man upright and then quickly restored the room to something approaching presentable. “Will that be all, my lord?”

Micah’s gaze fell upon the bed chamber’s pristine walls. The stoic expressions of the manor’s previous masters stared back, disinterested.When would they see this unholy place for what it was?


Micah’s eyes flashed to Connor’s. “What did you say?” His hand slid behind an oversized pillow, resting on something cold and sure.

“The sun, my lord. You asked for the dawn. No more than an hour or so now.” Connor bowed, closing the door tightly behind him.

Micah pulled the dagger into the moonlight. His chest pounded like giant’s war drum. The dagger’s finely hone tip kissed a soft spot behind his chin. He pushed, just hard enough to sting. A trickle of blood rolled down the thin blade. There was nothing more he could do tonight.

Nothing but wait for the dawn.

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