Return to Domum
Castle - Book Two
by J. H. Wear
When Lord Troy Sussex buys a recovered gem with unique powers, he believes it will free him from the spell that confines him to his castle. But the strange power the gem possesses has an unexpected result, and the fate of Domum rests with a thief, a sex slave, and a warlock in exile.
The dark cobble roads gleamed from the wet bricks, reflecting the light from the three-quarter moon. Along the sides of the street that were devoid of sidewalks, rose stone and brick buildings of various sizes. Some of the buildings were in need of repair, though for the most part the two and three storey structures looked like they had been standing for centuries and could last another easily.
The roads and lanes weren’t even; twisting slightly with rises and dips along them. Occasionally they inexplicitly narrowed or widened as the buildings jostled for position. At intervals of approximately a block the cobbled road intersected with another, more or less, at right angles. Not all of the roads were equal in width. Some were wide enough to sport sidewalks while others were so narrow that two people could barely pass one another. The late hour meant the roads were almost empty, except for one of the smaller side lanes where a small figure came out running..
Gilbert stumbled and slipped as he ran, occasionally trying to peer into the dark street behind him as he gasped for breath. The spirit that chased him didn’t have trouble seeing him or did it slip like Gilbert did as it glided through the air like an ill wind.
The small man regretted the six ales he consumed earlier that slowed his reflexes, truly regretted he didn’t bring a protective crystal with him when he ventured out that night and now almost regretted the gem he stole from the headstone in the graveyard.
“Go aways! You’s dead now, don’ts need no gem.”
Gilbert, dressed in baggy brown pants and a leather vest over a green shirt, all rather worn and in serious need of cleaning, wasn’t sure if the ghost could do him any real harm; some could, some couldn’t. It depended on what power the ghost possessed and he couldn’t find out if this one was bluffing or not until it was too late.
Gilbert rounded the corner, sliding on the cobblestones as he did so. The ghost, dark grey in a vaguely human shape, passed through the outside edge of the brick building and was within ten feet of the fleeing Gilbert. The ghost let out a low moan that resulted in a shriek from Gilbert as he looked back to see how close his pursuer was. That resulted in him tripping on one of uneven cobblestones and sliding hard on the palm of his hands. The ghost looked as unforgiving as the cobblestones as it floated in front of him wrapped in a cloak over a dark pair of pants and shirt.
Gilbert rolled on his back and pointed a dirty, stubby finger at his adversary. “Lets me be, lets me be. Me wants nothin’ to do with yous!”
The ghost reached out with its arms and extended its fingers that seemed to stretch in length as it neared Gilbert. The dark grey figure was partially transparent except for its center that remained impermeable.
Gilbert let out a yell and rolled away. “Leaves me alones!” He got back on his feet and began to run again. This time he resisted the temptation of looking behind him and headed straight down the street. After two o’clock in the morning there weren’t many businesses or buildings open, though Gilbert tried the doors on two rooming houses. But there was still one definite possibility; the inn and the adjoining tavern where he had consumed his ale and came up with the inspiration to rob the tombstone. It was several blocks away and though Gilbert normally didn’t do much physical activity he felt inspired to continue to run the rest of the way.
The door to the Greenrock Inn was unlocked and Gilbert grunted with effort as he pushed the heavy black door open. Like most inns and places of business, the door had a pentagon painted inside a circle on the door. The symbol and similar ones were meant to prevent unwelcome spirits and creatures such as vampires from entering. Homes didn’t require the symbol since they weren’t open to the public and thus hadn’t an open invitation for any spirits to wander in. Simple symbols could not stop all spirits and to protect against most spirits a symbol had to be carefully drawn and then for added protection be sanctified by a wizard. That cost money and not all proprietors were willing to do that.
Still when Gilbert ran into the inn’s lobby and turned around he could see the ghost stopping at the threshold, looking frustrated at its inability to move forward. Gilbert grinned at it and shoved the door closed.