Adrian shivered in the red brick hallways. Although there were red lanterns to guide him along the black floor, it was dark and cold. These maze-like hallways were bland and much the same; he had gotten lost more than once before. But somehow Sara Felle knew her way around without difficulties. This afternoon—closer to evening than midday, really—she had been summoned out of the mansion for reasons she wouldn't speak of. It was a relief to not have her sharp ice eyes on him wherever he went. But now wasn't the time to relax. He had to find the box. Sara had nearly killed him when he found it in one of the guest rooms. He had burns to prove it. But now he hungrily searched for it.
It was odd, how he saw so few waiters and maids. The only time he saw someone else other than Sara was for meals, but he couldn't exchange words with them in front of the witch. He had decided she was a witch after the first burning she put him through, and the name suited her well in his mind.
He perked up when he came to a coal black door with an intricate silver knob and rubies outlining a phoenix embedded into it. It was locked, as he knew it would be, but he planned for this. Digging out the pin from his coat, he stuck it into the top part of the lock. He patted his pockets down for the sewing needle he found in one of the guest rooms and slid it into the bottom. Within a few twerks with each, he unlocked it. He smirked and kissed his pin before making his way inside.
Velvety drapes covered the windows, and a bed three big men could fit in sat in the center, the backboard pressed against the right wall. A mirror and desk was closest to his left, with open jewelry boxes littered on it. Diamonds were tossed about carelessly, and even a beaded necklace worth more than he could imagine was broken on the floor.
He made his way toward the covered window, where a chest sat below, its lock half undone. Inside was nothing but more jewels and silks. Grumbling to himself, his eyes swept around the room. It wasn't decorated as extravagantly as he had been expecting, but that was fine by him. It made searching much easier.
Ducking under the bed, his fingers brushed against a wooden box. Excitedly, he pulled it out into the light. It was the one he had seen before, he was sure of it. There wasn't any lock on it, so he flung open the top and eagerly peered inside. He pulled out the contents one by one. A black uniform with a hole in the stomach, a spear snapped in half, a seaweed filled gun, and a tiny blue box that fit in the palm of his hand. Curiously, he peered inside. He held his breath at what he saw: a silver ring, fit for a woman's finger, with three white crystals, the middle being the biggest. He dropped the box and brought the ring closer to the light. It looked like an engagement ring. "I was going to marry someone...?" He squinted at the name etched into the side: Mari Lynn. The name sounded familiar when he murmured it aloud. He tried grasping for the vague memory that floated in the depths of his mind, but it disappeared in an instant. He clutched it to his chest protectively. It was the one object linking him to his past. Maybe if he examined it more, it would all come back to him.
He peered around the bedpost to see a young maid, black hair tied into a bun, and tiny mouth opened in horror. She dropped her mop and bucket and was staring at him. She took off before he could move. Growling, he tossed everything back in the chest but the ring, which he placed in his pants pocket, and raced after her.
He barely managed to see her take a left turn at an intersection and skidded after her. She dashed into the servants' room at the end of the hall, but before she could lock herself in, he burst through and slammed the door shut behind him.
She tripped over her red skirts and fell on her side, her face drained of all color.
"You must not tell the w—," he quickly caught himself, "Miss Sara Felle, I'm begging you." He took a step toward her and she scrambled back. "I don't know why I'm here or know anything about myself. I'm getting somewhere though, I know it. But you must not tell her. She'll keep a tighter watch on me after she's branded me some more. Please, do not say a word."
She stared at him, her expression never changing. But she wasn't the only one that jumped in fear when bells clanged loudly, announcing the witch's return.
He wasn't sure what to do. He knew he hadn't convinced this maid of anything, but his time was running out. "It will be in your best interest as well as mine if she never hears of this."
The giant mansion doors swung open with a loud bang that reverberated throughout the empty halls. He grimaced, gave her one more pleading look, and raced out. He needed a place to hide the ring, because once the witch found out he was in her room, she would scour his. But he couldn't put it in another guest room, either. If she was really mad, she would go through all of them herself.
He stopped at a dead end. There was only a single portrait here, but he had inspected this wall before. The only reason for the painting to be here was to cover a hole.
The click-clack of the witch's heels were nearing.
He moved the portrait and stuffed the ring into the hole. His hands stilled its swaying, and when he turned, Sara was there.
"I'm back." Was all she said.
"Welcome home." Adrian forced his muscles to loosen and place on a smile. "Where did you go, if you mind me asking?"
"Walk with me, and I'll tell you." She watched him until he caught up and led him through the mansion. Her red dress with white trim rustled; it was the only other noise she made besides her quiet voice. "I've been thinking of ways to jog your memory. Maybe some time would do you good, I thought. But then it came to me. Familiar faces. That's what you need."
He nodded. If she could find someone that knew him before, they could help him escape. "Did you bring someone I knew, er, know?"
She led him down spiraling cobblestone steps he had never seen before. "In a sense."
It was colder down here, much more than the mansion itself. And damper, he realized. They entered a large room, with a single table and chair. His eyes locked onto scrolls that were carefully placed on the surface, and without waiting for her permission, trotted over to them. He rolled the first one open. It was a painting. With him and a group of men wearing black uniforms and holding spears by their sides. A date was signed near the bottom, as well as the word, 'Graduation'.
He moved to the second, which looked as if it had been in a frame because tiny glass pieces were still dusted on it. It was smaller than the first, and not as expensive. It was him, he guessed, as a child with a woman, a man, and a girl younger than him. He had the woman's large green eyes, and the man's dark hair. But the girl had the man's dark eyes and the woman's light hair. "My family?" He murmured aloud.
Cold metal clamped down on his wrist and he whirled around to see a chain linking him to the wall. Had he inspected the room better earlier, he would've seen other chains much like this one dangling from the stone wall. "What's this for?" He demanded.
The witch's expression didn't waver. "You went into my room. I want to know what for."
She launched forward, her finger tips red hot, and dug them into his shoulders. She forced him to sit down in the chair before she let him go. "It was for the box, wasn't it?"
"Why won't you let me see it?" He growled. "You want me to remember so badly, but you won't let me see what you found me in."
"So you did open it." She sighed, steam trailing out of her mouth. "I can't trust you. I hoped I could, but your stubbornness hasn't vanished with your memory." The witch started for the staircase. "I will find someone who can watch you when I cannot."
"You're going to leave me here?" He shouted after her, but her footsteps were already fading. Slamming a fist into the table, he opened the scrolls again. He would study them until he remembered anything. Something. But, staring at them, it was as if he was trying to memorize another man's life.
About the Creator
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. Every chance I could get I was either writing, drawing, or telling anyone who’d listen my stories. Throughout high school I self published three books on Amazon. Enjoy my short stories!