Mikael made his way through the maze of corridors that mapped the castle, trying to keep in mind the route that the young servant had showed him yesterday. He was carrying a plate with some fruit bread on it, and a cup of water. Since his arrival at the castle he had barely been spoken to, save by the girl who had shown him what to do. She seemed kind enough.
At last he reached the studded door which he had been shown to yesterday. A guard stood outside. He sneered at Mikael as he approached, but took the keys from his belt and unlocked the room. Mikael entered warily, as having not been inside the room before he did not know what to expect, and jumped slightly as the door he had entered through was slammed shut.
At first all Mikael could see was darkness. Then, as his eyes adjusted, he realised that the windows had been boarded up, and that this is what had caused the absence of light in the room. A simple bed, only a little better than the one he himself possessed in his new servants’ quarters, was in front of him, and the only other piece of furniture in the room was a small table on which he placed the food. There did not appear to be any occupant in the room, which was strange, for who would guard and lock an empty room? Then, a sudden movement caught his eye. Someone was crouching beside the bed.
“Hello? Who’s there?”
There was no answer, and just as Mikael was about to step up to the bed and satisfy his curiosity, the door reopened and the guard appeared.
“You there! Hurry up.” Mikael jumped and scurried from the room. The threat of death still rang in his ears from the previous day, and he did not wish for his life to be ended by mere curiosity.
The rest of Mikael’s day was filled with orders and running to and fro, but in the evening he was once again ordered up to the room, this time with a bowl of stew, a roughly cut piece of bread and another cup of water. There was a different guard outside the room this time, and he let Mikael in without the look of disdain he had received from the previous man. Once again, Mikael approached the table through the dark as the door behind him shut, and, took the previous dish from the table, replacing it with the new one.
“Hello?” He whispered, peering at the bed. Through the dark he could see a form with its back to him. At the sound of his voice the form shifted and suddenly he found his mouth covered by a hand. He struggled momentarily, until a soft female voice spoke in to his ear.
“Surely you were ordered not to speak to me?” He nodded, somewhat calmed by the gentle, melodic way in which the woman had spoken. “And yet still you dare. You are either very brave, or very foolish.” The hand on his mouth vanished, and he spun to see the woman who had spoken. But she was gone, and though he peered in to the gloomy room he could not make out her form again. He returned to the door and knocked in order for the guard to release him.
As he lay in his bed that night, Mikael relived that moment in the darkened room. The woman, whoever she was, sounded young, around his age, although some depth in her tone convinced him that surely she was older, for she her words had been spoken as though from one who had seen many a year go by. Minute details that had escaped him previously were brought to his attention. He could now swear that he felt material on his cheek as the woman had covered his mouth, and he was sure that there was a faint scent of flowers from her person, despite the dankness of her conditions. With these thoughts running continuously through his head he drifted off, and dreamt all night of a mysterious woman whose face he could not see who appeared to be beckoning to him with one gentle hand.