October began with no anomalies. It was just another day with rain and chilly temperatures. On the fourth night in a row, Walter was startled awake by a low, incessant humming sound. He looked down on the floor for any movement of shadows, but saw none. It was the third night he had been woken up by that sound and every time he looked out the window he never saw anything out of the ordinary. He blinks a few times, but he sees nothing in the darkness. He tries to go back to sleep, but can’t.
He had asked his aunt if she heard a humming sound in the night and she said no. He had asked ornery Gertrude, chirpy Mildred, and even the hired help if they had heard the noise and they all declared they heard nothing. Uncle Obel did not hear it either.
He heard the sound only at night. He couldn’t understand why. He wondered if he was going crazy.
The next night, he was determined to find out what the noise was. When he heard it, he got out of bed, dressed, took the ring, and slipped into the corridor. He could have used his ring but he didn’t know where to go. What was he even looking for? What if he appeared in the path of danger? After seeing the animals vamoose he didn’t want to face whatever they feared. It was best to footslog to the woods.
The corridor was quiet. He passed his mother’s room then his aunt’s, reached the door to the courtyard, slowly turned the knob, and slithered outside. The courtyard was also quiet. He quickly crossed it and went into the alley. Once out of sight of the inn, he hurried down the dirt road and took a turn onto the main street. From there he could see the vacant streets.
The Swan Inn never closed. Only a few laggards occupied the taproom. Someone always needed a warm place to stay and some ale after a day of journey, was how Uncle Obel put it.
Walter followed the sound. It led him outside the town, down a dirt path leading through the woods. He passed by the Black Forest, nothing stirred from there. He never realized how pitch-black it looked from the rest of the woodlands.
The path was lit by the moonlight, but he felt he was walking away from the sound. He took a left to where the sound was clearer. For some reason, he headed to castle’s remains. Maybe he would find something there. As he came upon the castle, he saw it: a bright green light that glowed. It came from the mountain. It was a sublime, spellbinding sight.