Chapter Eight: The Black Turret

     The sea became black where once pale blue, and the sky full of rain and storm.  The swift vessel carried us forth to the isle where my family once came from — an ancient land I had never really known much of except through old tales and legends.  Echoes of a lost world seemed to haunt me, a world my family had long forgotten.
     Here at least, with my dark hair and pensive, downcast eyes, I would be less exotic, but this world still seemed exotic to me . . . as we neared the launching, I fought a chill . . . there on the banks, a great black tower.  It looked like a remnant from some ancient song, a song about a knight, his lover fair, and a dark tower.  Such things always seemed to haunt me and cause me much despair . . . and yet a strange solace.
     I felt the charm at my neck. It was still there.
     Beneath the veil of fog, our ship arrived.
     Tentatively, I stepped, a woman from the New World, seemingly entering the old. I looked for a coachman, for I thought one would be sent that could take me through to the mysterious home of my relations, but when I asked, in the tongue they spoke here (taught to me in my youth), I only received smiles, yet nothing more.
     “My lady, there are no coaches here; you must first walk a little, a mile maybe, then, you may stay with the Sisters of The Lamentable Blood.  You will see the convent henceforth a mile from here — keep on the eastern path.  They will help you out.  This place you see, is very wild and the paths do not have roads for a carriage.  You must ride.”
     Within an hour I did see the convent; it rose high, higher it seemed, than the cragged mountains that surrounded us.  When I knocked on the convent door, it slowly opened, as if by its own volition. Slowly, a figure appeared.
     Her extremely pale and thin white face shone in the moon’s light.  High-collared, almost haughty, she enquired who I was.
     When I explained that I would be staying with my relatives up north and only needed a place to stay the night, and perhaps also a mount, the grim nun eyed me suspiciously and ushered me inside.
     The smells of burning wax and incense invaded my senses.  I was led through a hallway of incandescent candles in amber votives and steel crosses.  The grim lady turned to me once before leaving me to my room and spoke in dreary monotone.
     “Pray to the Saviour, and the saints, and the God utmost high. Pray.  Be without sin, and beware.”
    With that cryptic admonition, I was left in my room.
     I went to sleep.  I felt so very far away from home.  That night, I cried, for the first in a while, more out of tiredness than anything else, although to be honest, a strange longing came over me that I could not explain.  Perhaps it was still the scent of the wildflowers I had picked.  The smell of the ocean.  And the sky, so blue and yet haunting despite all the beauty and joy around me, so much desolation.
     And I felt alone.
     But I put away all thoughts soon after and tried to get some proper rest, if that is what it could be called…


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