“It’s a bit more than a house” Fang said in awe with an air of sarcasm I’d expect from Aya.
This “house” was in fact a manor house. A very big manor house. It was colonial-style, the constant theme of black and white that this town seemed to have. The roof had recently been retiled but it kept its antique glamour. The door was a sleek, glossy black with the classic doorknocker all old houses seem to have. Ivy danced up the pastel white walls, curling around the matching black-framed windows. The garden was mysteriously well kept though there were no signs of a resident in the house. Etched into the door was a spiralling trail of dragonflies. What was it with these Libellules and dragonflies?
“Welcome to Libellule Manor. It’s been in my family for generations” Tawny said.
“You don’t say. What happened anyway?” Fang asked, staring up at the roof.
“Well, the good little girl that I was, was supposed to marry some rich oil baron. Unfortunately I disappeared. They’ve never been able to do anything with it because they can’t find the deeds to the house”.
“And let me guess, you know where they are”.
“Of course. They’re in the vault. Only, nobody knows the combination”.
The garden lost none of the house’s grandeur, littered with Scottish heather and scarlet rose bushes. The grass was a pale green, neatly trimmed and fragrant but of what I’m not sure. A path of round, white pebbles led up to the house, a circle in the middle which held an ornate marble fountain. Water spurted from the top and dribbled down into the waiting pool, always thirsty for the water at the top. Tawny led us up the path ‘til we reached the small porch. She knocked twice on the door with the knocker before laughing.
“One kick ought to do it” she said.
All of a sudden a little hermit came running towards us. He really was a hermit, he was slightly bent over and had a small hunch that gave him the appearance of a hermit crab. His face was weathered and creased with age. Lank grey hair dressed his head.
“What do you young punks think you’re doing?” he shouted, clearing the final metre or two between us.
“I’ve come for my inheritance” Tawny said.
“This house belongs to the Libellules. How many punks d’you think I get coming here saying they’re a Libellule? Only I know what happened to Mairie”.
“And what was that?” Tawny asked, genuinely intrigued.
“She eloped, didn’t she? Didn’t want to marry that oil baron so she ran off with her sweetheart”.
Tawny smiled as if remembering something pleasant. The hermit still glared at us hostilely. How did he manage to look so much like a crab? I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some hidden crab legs under his coat.
“I apologise for arguing with you but I am the last living descendant of Mairie Libellule” she said with a smile.
“Prove it,” the hermit grumbled.
“I know the Libellule motto. Quand la mouche tombe, le dragon prend l’aile”.
“But that… that’s been lost for years. Ever since Mairie’s mother and father died. How do you know it?” the hermit asked, bewildered.
“It’s been passed down through my family. I guess Mairie didn’t want it to die”.
The hermit stood flabbergasted for a few seconds. Flabbergasted. That’s a funny word, maybe I’ll use it more. He then took his hunch and hidden crab legs over to a small shack the three of us failed to notice before. And no wonder we didn’t notice it, it was a shed. But it was the hermit’s shed, and I’d already made enough fun of the hermit. For crying out loud, I’d named him ‘the hermit’. The hermit came back with a beautiful silver key. He presented it to Tawny but insisted on talking to “the last living descendant of Mairie Libellule”. Through the hermit’s chattering, I discovered his name was not ‘the hermit’; it was actually quite a normal name as far as hermits go. He was one Quincy Porter and his family had served the Libellules for generations. His name may have been Quincy Porter but I would still call him the hermit, if only in my mind. It seemed to suit him better. When the hermit had finished talking to Tawny he returned to his shack and told her to call on him if ever she needed anything. I think Fang was just glad to be rid of the hermit. He wasn’t that interesting to talk to but he was interesting to look at in my opinion. The inside of the house was no less spectacular than the outside. The hermit really had kept the place in good shape.
The floor was varnished oak and glimmered slightly in the lamplight. The walls were still the same pastel white as all the houses in Apollo’s Arrow seemed to be, though they seemed to have a light pink flush to them. Hanging overhead were a series of chandeliers, laced with Swarovski crystal studded chains and the same dangling from the metal structures. Various furs graced the floor in the main room, which was spacious as a palace and decorated much the same as one. Everything was made either of gold or crystal or decorated with luscious furs. Tawny danced through the room, exploring every nook and cranny to get a feel for her old home. The hermit really must have been devoted to not steal any of this stuff. Or to take the house as his own for that matter. At the side of the main room was a grand marble staircase, leading up to a spacious indoor balcony and most likely the second of the three floors.
Tawny disappeared into another room while Fang and I stayed rooted in place, gazing at the riches Tawny grew up in. The next thing I remember is waking up on a sofa in said room with one of said furs draped over me. I was slightly repulsed by it but at least it didn’t still have its head like most furs seem to have.
“Hallie! I’m sorry we couldn’t put you somewhere more comfortable. Quincy went out and, well, I don’t know where he’s been keeping the bed sheets over the years” Tawny said.
She seemed to have found a wardrobe as she graced my presence in an extremely expensive-looking silk dress. It was red, flowed down to the floor and suited her perfectly. Fang was in the corner of my eye and Tawny seemed to have forced him into a suit, he stood picking at his tie while Tawny fussed over me.
“Guess what I found for you” she said impishly.
“No. No dresses” I said sternly but I might as well have said ‘go for it, Tawny!’.
So there I was. Forced into some hideous monstrosity of a dress… No, it was actually kind of nice. Black with a purple tinge, the skirt wasn’t too bouffant and it actually made me look quite nice. It wouldn’t become a habit of mine to wear dresses, though, I would make sure Tawny was absolutely clear of that.
“Miss Libellule,” the hermit said from the doorway, “Dinner is served. And could you kindly tell your friend downstairs to stay out of the kitchen if he is to attack his attire”.
“Sure, I’ll knock some sense into him. Come on, Hallie” she said and dragged me into the grandest dining room I’d ever seen.