“The manor has a lot of things most people don’t get to see. That’s what makes it amazing, but the fog covers everything up. Somedays, Archibal lifts the fog and you can see it all. Though, it hasn’t been safe. People have been trying to get on the island. Maybe you can’t see it, but the manor was built on a island. The fog protects everything here including the manor. There is a lot of things in this manor, like the rooms. They are probably close to seven hundred rooms. Many other rooms I’ve never seen. I’m sure Archibal told you that they shift around. It is a way to safeguard their contents. Some contain precious objects. I found one that contained gold coins. Archibal told me that through the years, scholars have added rooms to the manor for different purposes. One scholar made a room full of various automatons. Another scholar collected birds of every species even the magical ones. The servant spirits tell me there is a firebird among them.”
“A firebird. What’s a firebird?”
“The most beautiful bird to exist. It has majestic plumage that glows in a red, yellow and orange light. Even if a feather is plucked from them it still keeps its magic. I haven’t found that room. They say it only appears every three years. That was another way scholars protected the rooms by putting timelines on them. There is one that appears every hundred years. Archibal has never seen it, but the scholar before him did. He found it by accident.”
“What is all this talk about?” a female dressed in a closed-bodied gown mantua came floating in through the wall. She was a translucent white unlike the lantern ghost in the woods.
“Sally, this is–” Cadi started.
“We have met before. I’m sure Archibal has told you not to bother Cadi. She needs her rest,” Sally chastised him. “And you, Miss, should be in bed.”
Walter stood up.
“It’s not his fault,” Cadi said. “He didn’t know it was my room, Sally.”
“A boy shouldn’t be in a girl’s dormitory,” Sally screeched. “I have good sense not to tell Archibal about this.”
“Don’t get mad. I couldn’t sleep,” Cadi said.
“I’ll make you some tea. Off to bed now,” she ushered Cadi under the covers. “And you,” Sally turned towards Walter. “I suggest you leave.”
“Sally, please,” Cadi pleaded. “I barely get to see my friends.”
“You need your rest,” Sally was obdurate. “Maybe another day he can come and visit, but for now, you need to rest.”
“I promise to come visit you,” Walter said.
Cadi barely smiled. “I know you will.”
Walter said goodbye and left. He couldn’t help, but wondered if Cadi sensed something amiss. She always seem to know things, but she wouldn’t let it be known. Walter didn’t know how long she had been living with Archibal or what happened to her family. Walter couldn’t blame her. He didn’t like talking about his father. His mother had forbidden it. What was there to say? He was four when his father left and whatever memories he had were precious to him. He didn’t like sharing those memories. He tried asking his sister about him, but like his mother she refused to talk about it. All he had from his father were trinkets he salvaged from the dumpster. Maybe, he and Cadi were similar in many ways.
He understood if she didn’t want to talk about it. He begin looking for room two-hundred and twelve. He found Alden inside sword playing with an armored knight. There was another armored knight and asked Walter if he would like to sword play. Walter couldn’t refuse.