All Hallow’s Eve: Part Two
Douglas finished putting his books on the shelf in his new room at Feradean Manor. He looked around again at his room. It was furnished in what had been the height of opulence fifty years ago.
"Are you sure you're all right with this, Douglas?" Holly asked.
"We're living in a mansion, Holly. What's not to be all right with?" Douglas laughed.
"Remember, you must not bother Jasper. The library and the attic are off limits and you must be quiet in this hall. But, you have the run of the grounds, that'll be fun, won't it?"
"It's a good thing I brought my hoop and stilts," Douglas said as he looked out the window.
"Excellent. I'm going to make the kitchen pristine so we can eat without worry," Holly laughed as she left.
Holly made her way downstairs and crossed paths with Jasper in the hall.
"Where are you off to?" Holly asked, seeing his satchel.
"Nowhere," Jasper replied with a sneaky grin.
"Don't get yourself killed; you can't pay me if you're dead," Holly teased.
"You're such a mercenary," Jasper called as he walked out the front door.
Holly entered the kitchen and gasped in dismay, it was worse than she had expected. She sighed as she rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
Around dusk she finally finished. She looked around the glistening kitchen, grinning with pride. She got out a sparkling pot and set it on the stovetop to start making soup for supper. Not long later, someone passed the window, but Holly didn't look, thinking it was Douglas on his stilts.
The outside door opened and Holly said, "Douglas, it is almost time for supper. Go wash up, please."
There was a heavy thud behind her, and Holly turned to look. Jasper was lying in a heap on the floor. She screamed in horror and ran over to him. He was covered in blood from numerous cuts and caked with mud.
"Jasper, can you hear me?" Holly gasped.
"Yeah," Jasper moaned weakly.
"What happened to you?" Holly asked.
"I encountered some not so friendly creatures in the Woods," Jasper explained.
"I told you!" Holly cried.
Douglas came running into the kitchen. "Holly, are you okay? Oh, gosh! What happened to Jasper?"
"This is why you are not allowed in the Woods, Douglas," Holly said. "Now run upstairs and get towels and bandages, quick as you can."
Douglas took off running. Holly propped Jasper up against the table, then filled a pot with water and set it to warm while she looked for some soap. Douglas came back with the towels and bandages. Holly set to work cleaning Jasper's cuts and then bandaging them.
"Douglas, run for the doctor, some of these need his attention. I'll get Jasper to bed," Holly said calmly.
The boy ran off in a hurry. Holly put an arm under her friend and supported him all the way up to his room. She set about making him as comfortable as she could while they waited for the doctor. After what felt like ages, she saw Douglas running up the drive, the doctor beside him. She hurried down to open the door and showed the doctor up to Jasper's room.
She reluctantly went back to the kitchen to check on the soup. Douglas followed her every move, he was clearly shaken by what had happened. Holly noticed and hugged her brother, ruffling his hair.
"You did very well today, Douglas. I don't know what I would have done without you. Jasper will be fine, he looked a lot worse than he was. A day or two of rest and he'll be back to normal," Holly consoled her little brother.
"Really, Holly?" Douglas asked.
"Of course, there is no reason to lie about it. Jasper will be fine."
Just then the bell for Jasper's room rang. Holly hurried out of the kitchen and met the doctor halfway as he was coming down the stairs.
"There you are, Holly. No need to worry yourself, lass. He'll be fine, but keep him off his feet for the next two days. This is what comes from going into the Woods. You're a sensible girl, Holly; you might be able to talk him out of such folly," Dr. Moon said.
"Believe me, Dr. Moon, I've been trying. Jasper is rather hard to dissuade from something when he gets an idea into his head. I'll do what I can," Holly replied.
"Well, good luck and good day, Holly." Dr. Moon stopped at the door to say, "Oh, and by the by, you are doing a wonderful job with that boy. Douglas is growing into a fine young man."
Holly beamed at him, and then closed the door behind him. She went back to the kitchen and ladled the soup into bowls. She served her brother at the table in the kitchen, then put Jasper's on a tray with his tea and carried it upstairs.
She opened the door to his room and smiled at him. His face was more white than blue, but she was certain that was more due to shock than anything else. She set the tray down on his lap.
"Eat, it'll do you good," Holly said, unsure what else to say.
Jasper looked down at the soup; he didn't seem to have anything to say either. Holly made a move to leave, but he caught her hand to stop her.
"I'm too weak, Holly. I'll never get us out of here like this," Jasper whispered.
"Oh, Jasper," Holly sighed. "There is nothing worth getting yourself hurt like this! Please stop, because if anything happened to you I would never forgive myself. You're my dearest friend and there is nothing wrong with Neovia. It's safe."
"The books say that the trees outside of Haunted Woods have leaves and flowers. They say that the light is golden instead of grey; they say there are rivers and oceans. Why would you want to stay here forever when there is a world like that out there?" Jasper asked.
"Jasper, I'm not entirely sure I believe that your books aren't filled with faerietales. If there was a world out there, why would our ancestors have settled here, deep in the Haunted Woods, instead of getting out?" Holly replied.
"I don't know why, but I believe, and somehow I'm going to find a way out of here. A safe one, for all of us," Jasper said firmly.
Holly sighed. "All right, but please don't go back in the Woods until then. Jasper, please?"
"Fair enough, I'll stay away from them for a while," Jasper gave in.
"Good, now give me my hand back and eat your soup," Holly chuckled.
For a month after that there was calm. Jasper stayed mostly in his library or in the attic. Holly wasn't sure what he did up there, but he had asked Holly not to go up there and clean anything. He said he kept the things up there in a particular order and didn't want them touched.
Holly kept herself busy cleaning up the old house. Douglas also had a good time, following his sister about the house; looking at all the antique knickknacks and gadgets. Jasper was soon back to his old cheery self, and, when he came out of his library or attic, they spent long hours talking about everything under the sun, just as they had used to do when they were children.
But as the fall wore on, Holly thought she noticed a slight change in his demeanor. He seemed slightly stressed and his eyes often looked tired.
Holly blew out her candle and got into bed. She pulled the covers up under her chin; against the chill of the October air and fell asleep instantly. She suddenly awoke sometime later. It was still dark out, but the moon was at a level where it filled her room with light. She looked around wondering what had awoken her.
Thinking that the brightness of the moon must have roused her, she got up and went to pull the drapes shut. The moon was brilliantly large and full.
"The moon will be full again in twenty-eight days, on All Hallow's Eve," Holly murmured, gazing at it.
A chill slid down her spine, her mother had told her that a full moon on All Hallow's Eve was a bad sign. She was about to pull the drapes together when she heard a sound above her. Above were more rooms and above that was the attic. The sound had seemed too loud to come from the attic. It came again, something was moving around in the room above her.
Holly slid on her dressing gown and shoes. She figured someone must have opened a window up there and it never got closed. Some petpet had probably gotten in; she would go shoo it out and close the window. She lit a candle to see by and headed off.
She hurried to the steps to the third floor and found the door locked. She was confused; since she was sure she hadn't locked it. She didn't think Jasper would lock it behind himself. She pulled out her ring of keys, unlocked the door, and climbed the stairs to the third story.
To be continued...