Haunts Castle was a far older place than most of the other structures within Dragon Valley. A huge stone fortress, built upon the coast to allow barges and boats from the sea to dock at it’s back entrance, it had at one time been a Royal holding of much importance. During the past of my timeline, many Royals and Nobles had resided there at various times. It was more steeped in history and mystery than any place I knew of. Many said it was filled with ghosts and hauntings… if you would believe in such things? I had not been there since my childhood. At that time it had been a grand and busy place with the court of the Yorks residing there quite often.
A few times, I had ventured near there but something about it gave me shivers and sent cold chills up and down my spine? Something certainly did not feel right about to me and I was loathe to tempt the fates by exploring it?
I mentioned as much to John, and he was of the same opinion on the place! He told me that it was a very strange and eeerie place indeed? I was right in my thought that something was not right about it. John told me that after centuries of disuse, it should have been much in disrepair and ruin, but once you entered the place it was as though time had never touched it? The Castle itself was in pristine condition as though the medievals living there had just left yesterday rather than centuries ago!
While most often the place was shrouded in mists and difficult to see either from the sea or the land around it, there were rare times when the view of it was crystal clear? The clouds of fog would dissipate and the castle would appear as if out of nowhere.
When the Council decided to contain the time displaced peoples here, their original thought was to renovate and refurbish this piece of history as a welcoming place for all of the medieval residents. They had thought to give them a cultural center that they would appreciate and feel at home in? There was one major problem with this idea… None who had known of the castle in previous times wanted to step foot inside of it again! It seemed that I was not the only one who feared to return to it!
The Council had gone to great lengths in trying to dispell the rumors of it and encourage us all to visit it… John laughed at this and admitted that even some of the High Council members were hesitant to go there! He shrugged and shared with me the ill placed idea that a few members had come up with for the residents of this time trapped Dragon Valley to become self sufficient and somewhat independent again?
Of course, we all must find new ways of supporting ourselves… The idea of those particular Council members was for us to put our knowledge and skills of the past to “good” use here in our future? They had determined that since there was so much interest in legends, myths and all things historical, we should become a Living History Museum and eventually open our realm to the public as what they referred to as a tourism industry? They were certain that this concept would benefit all involved? I looked at John in dismay and shock! We should put ourselves on display as like odd curiousities or artifacts? We should allow ourselves to be viewed as in some sort of theatrical performance?! “I see not how that would benefit any of us in making an adjustment to our new world! I see only how that would lower us to the levels of beggars and minstrels putting on some sort of show and passing our hats for gifts of meager coins in return!” I was disgusted at the thought of it! “I would sincerely hope that this nonsensical idea has not been given further motion or approval?”
John winced at my shrillness and answered me, “Unfortunately, despite your particular misgivings, the Village Council has agreed with much of the premise? They did much of their own research into the amounts of monies that could be made from such a venture and have voted to move forward with it?” He reached out and touched a finger tip to my chest in a motion to emphasize his next comment, “You would be quite amazed at just much money there is to be made from this entertainment and re-enactment business if done in a proper way? Far more than a few coins tossed one’s way in the street!” Shrugging his shoulders in some resignation, he admitted, “I hate to admit it, but it does appear to be a much viable option? Especially if they choose to go along with Judith’s idea of promoting it as an education and advanced Academics center for History and Culture… She has suggested that it be presented in such a way as to offer advanced level graduate studies and research opportunities in what she called immersion type programs?”
I could not believe my hearing? My loyal friend Judith was involved in this and was going along with selling us as cheap entertainment?! I expressed my disappointment in Judith to John, “I Thought she was my friend, that she cared about how I should go forth and get along? I can not believe that she would think I should approve of this!”
John sighed and looked towards the ceiling again… I was noticing a pattern in him? When ever he seemed too frustrated with my words or behavior, he would look up towards the heavens and begin to silently count? Sometimes, it took him a long length of time to end that counting and return his attentions to me. This was one of those times! Finally he took a breath, looked at me and spoke in his calmest manner, “Eleanor, she is your friend, a most trusted one at that! She knew full well how you should react to this project, which is why she made no mention of it to you even though it is a project that she is much passionate about? When she first heard about the plan, she was as horrified as you and determined to sway them away from any such circus as she called it? When they would not be convinced or detracted from the plan, she did her own thorough research and came upon this alternative plan of an educational center? Her reasonings are sound, Every one of you has a story, a lesson to teach about your paths in history. This place is full of priceless and rare artifacts that have been lost to history. It should be preserved and shared with the world now. This is an opportunity for all of you to make a valued contribution and tell your stories in more realistic and truthful manner than they have been previously presented? Her version of this would not be an entertaining theatrical performance but a true learning experience for any who visit. “ He finished his explanation, “Thankfully, those on the Village Council were swayed by her proposal that done right, it would be far more profitable and long enduring than any attempt at a more trend oriented tourism destination?”
I was still much indignant over the whole idea and asked, “Just who is this Village Council? I have heard nothing of them? I would much like to know who would think to vote for all of us on such a course as this!”
John explained, “Right now, the Village Council is made up of those Nobles and Royals who were displaced… such as Francois DeFrance, Henry of England, Juan Carlos DeSpain, Lady Leona WoodLyon…” He paused for a moment before going on, “Some of the others include Henry’s daughter, Mary… she is an adult of voting age and her Royal blood has allowed her a space on that council… There is some other Village respresentation as well, Hugh and Nell Guinn have seats on the council as does Lady Leona’s son, Francis Woodlyon.” John added, “Eventually, once the community is more stabilized, the Council seats will be put open to voting by all? This initial Council is in a way, another version of testing and evaluating some of those Nobles who assume that they know best and should be given roles of leadership?” He shook his head, “ Believe me Eleanor, when I say that you do not want to be a member of this initial Council! They, many of them think that they were granted this role in deferrance to their status and their royal bloodlines… In part, they were, but it is a trial to see how they conduct themselves now?”
I continued to mumble my distaste for all of it and wanted to set it aside for the moment. I held up my hand bidding him to halt his further explanations of either Councils, “Enough of that for now, it is causing my head to ache! Let us return to what this all has to do with Gerard and that awful place of Haunts Castle?” I refreshed myself on our initial conversation, “So, the High Council attempted to pass of the Castle upon us and failed as none of us want to be reminded of it… Why is it then that Gerard is the only one willing to remain there? Though as I spoke before, it does seem an appropriate place for him, I am sure he is quite happy there!” I remarked in a rather caustic tone.
John, as usual ignored my sarcasm against Gerard, “Gerard is there doing research on the castle and it’s contents. And, no he is not much happier than the rest of you to be there? He in fact warned the Council to do away with their plans to open it to the public any time in the near future, stating that he does not feel it is stable or safe in regards to people wandering around there? He is as concerned as anyone else about it!”
My answer to that was one of sarcasm and doubt upon Gerard’s character, “Hmmmph! Else he is just hiding something there that he does not want known to the rest of us?!”
John was trying quite hard to remain unphased by my comments and replied, “Well, we shall see soon enough? We have been directed by the High Council to assist Gerard in some of his research there!”
I put my hands up is despair, “Who has been directed? Not I! I have received no such directions and should not follow them if I did! I shan’t go to that place, and most definitely not with Gerard there! For all we truly know, it is he that is causing the disturbances there!”
John was grim now, “You shall be receiving your directions soon. I believe Judith will be bring them over in the next day or so? Judith will be joining us in this… though, I daresay that she is any more enthusiastic about it than you are? Would you prefer that she should have to go on her own to face this?” John paused and mused aloud, “I would think that if you wanted to be such a friend to her as she has been to you, you would be willing to endure this with her?”
I almost stomped my feet in frustration! He need not be so smug and self right about it! No, I would not subject Judith to face that place, or Gerard on her own! I glared at him, “fine then, I shall go for Judith’s sake. Now, perhaps you might explain to me just what it is we are to do there?”
He smiled and attempted to not be too self assured in his attitude, “Actually, you will be assisting the young woman hired as curator of the Castle. The poor woman was originally hired when they thought to turn it into a museum and Cultural Center? That prospect seems highly unlikely now but they have retained her services to continue the historical research on the Castle.” He sighed and smiled softly, “Really, this part has little to do with Gerard’s ongoing research. I doubt if you will even have to encounter him. You will simply share your knowledge of the past events with Miss Elizabeth Rivers in order to give her a better, first hand account of some of the history?”
I was still much leery and filled with some doubts but sighed a huge breath of relief, at which John laughed! “I suppose that I could do that quite easily? But, then what is Judith’s role in this?”
John explained that Judith would be learning more about the history, the culture and the traditions of the era as well as assisting in taking an inventory of items that should be moved out of the Castle to safer and more accessible quarters. Many of the artifacts and books within the place were rare, one of a kind items that would be put to far better use by being shared by those who could interpret some of it?
I nodded in understanding, it made much sense to try to protect as much as possible of what was contained there. I questioned John, “So, that accounts for what Judith and I should be occupied with while there… What is your purpose in this? You said that we would all be under directions to go.”
John was gravely serious in his answer, “I shall be watching and observing, keeping you all safe from what ever is there? If I determine that it is time to leave for any reason, you will all follow my orders and take leave of the place whether your work there is finished or not! Richard and Bradley will join me later in this duty and all of you will pay close attention to our advisements…Even Gerard must leave if we deem the place as unstable as he thinks!” He muttered more to himself, “That man is the most stubborn and determined soul when it comes to his research!”