Bewitched: Chapter 3

Klara Elmqvist and Merichel Herman

The moment Lyssa stepped out of the horsecar she gasped. In front of her loomed a castle bigger than anything she had ever seen before. No, not a castle, she realised. A fortress.

It had spiralling towers that touched the clouds and it was surrounded by a moat. Ivy climbed up its sides and covered it in green. She felt her mouth drop open and her eyes widen with amazement and a tinge of fear. 

“Are you okay?” Lyssa jumped at his voice and whirled.

“Y—you own this?!” she gasped. He smirked at her reaction.

“Technically, I inherited from my father but speaking in human terms, yes. I own it,” he said and grinned at her wide eyes.

“Let Theodore show you inside. I have an errand,” Matthias said before he vanished into thin air. She got into the carriage and the chauffeur—Theodore—drove them through the large portcullis, the horses’ hooves clopping over the ancient cobblestones. The horsecar came to a stop in front of a big entrance that Lyssa assumed led into the medieval fortress. 

“Miss, your room is ready for you, Grethel will help you,” Theodore, a young boy with curly white hair and a sallow face, said before scurrying off. Grethel, a stout woman who bustled around the corner moments after Theodore had vanished, seemed to be in her late sixties, with brown hair that Lyssa could see was greying at her temples. She too had a sallow face.

“Let me help you, milady,” Grethel said, curtsying. A little bit confused, but honoured, Lyssa nodded.

“Um, right. Thank you, I guess.” Lyssa cleared her throat awkwardly as the woman somehow, without too much effort, plucked her trunks and carried them inside as Lyssa rushed to keep up with her. Lyssa suddenly felt herself groan as she saw the spiralling stairs leading up through the tower. 

“No need to complain, Miss. It’s only a thousand steps to your room.” A THOUSAND STEPS?!  Lyssa sighed and started to slowly drag herself up the winding staircase. By the time they had reached the top, and Grethel had pulled her trunk easily over to one side, toward the first door in the long corridor, Lyssa was practically dragging herself up the staircase.

She had to sit down for a moment once she’d finally made it. Grethel, who had opened the bedroom door, looked back at her and frowned. “Miss?” she asked. “Are you alright?”

Lyssa stood up as fast as she could. “Yes,” she panted. “Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be alright?”

Grethel smiled. “Don’t worry, Miss. You get used to it after a while.”

“I’m sure you do,” Lyssa muttered, preparing to follow the woman into her room. Then Grethel opened the door.

Lyssa stood frozen on the threshold for far too long, staring. Just staring.§

At the walls, white, lined with shimmering vines of gold along the edges. At the vanity, the ornate mirror, wooden desk, the white-cushioned chair. At the bed, king-size and draped in a red and gold duvet, making it stick out in the more subdued white of the rest of the room. At the ceiling-high bookshelf that took up the wall next to the bed. At the doors leading out to a magnificent balcony overlooking snow capped mountains and a big lake, iced over, that seemed to shimmer like a veil in the cool sunlight. She looked down to the shore of the lake and squinted because, out of nowhere, a man was striding towards the mediaeval-looking castle and the moment he came into view, Lyssa felt her knees tremble for a reason unbeknownst to her.

It was Matthias making his way back towards his home. For some reason he looked incredibly handsome in a black, long-sleeved turtleneck med shirt with beige trousers and brown loafers. The shirt seemed fit to his chest and shoulders, showing off his muscular build, the trousers outlining his thighs enough that Lyssa had to look away. She did not notice that Matthias’ gaze found her devouring one and something dark and lusty laced his gaze, but that was only for a split second before he disappeared inside. She flopped down on the bed and closed her eyes.

Lyssa didn’t remember falling asleep, but it didn’t last long enough. She shot upright when the screams began. Her heart rate picked up. They were feminine screams. They were screams of pain and torture. Lyssa started to stand up and make her way to follow the sound but suddenly she met a wall, a wall that was warm, stable and talking? She had never heard of  talking walls before, and when she looked she was sure her cheeks were the reddest shade that would ever exist, because no, it was not a wall. It was Matthias standing there. She also so happened to say the first thing that came to her head;

“You screamed,” she squeaked, even though the screams definitely weren’t his. He burst out laughing at her disorientation.

“I can assure you, darling, I certainly did not scream,” he said, still shaking slightly with laughter. “Anyways… I came to tell you that dinner is ready.”

Her eyes travelled to his collar where a fleck of what she thought could only be blood was visible. He flicked the collar up, the movement so insignificant that she would not have noticed had she not been so focused on it, and held out his arm. She took it tentatively and moments later they were in the dining room where a dinner was displayed on the table. Lyssa heard her stomach grumble and she realised that she hadn’t eaten since dinner last night, before Matthias had swept her away to this creepy castle where women screamed.

Oh geez, she thought, she had been travelling for almost an entire day. The moment she sat down she filled her plate to the brim with food and proceeded to shovel it into her mouth. The room was silent and Lyssa was suddenly aware of all the slurps and chewing sounds she made in Matthias presence while he elegantly let the food slip past his lips without a sound escaping them. The silence that stretched between them was almost too loaded to bear. Her cheeks flamed and she was about to fill a second portion of food—because she just could not help herself—when a knock interrupted them.

“Come in!” Matthias barked in response. Lyssa was suddenly grateful for the distraction. The door opened and Theodore stepped in and walked up to Matthias before whispering something in his ear. Lyssa could barely make out any words but the ones that stood out were she, calling, and meeting. Matthias nodded and turned to Lyssa.

“It is with uttermost importance that you leave this instant. This is a very secretive meeting and if you were to know anything, it could ruin everything,” he said gravely. She sighed before gathering her skirts and making her way out of the room. Just before the door closed, she heard a name.

“Tell Augustine I will be there in a moment,” Matthias said, and just then he locked eyes with Lyssa. She saw something flash in his eyes but she could not place what it was, and he slammed the door in her face. Augustine. The name was familiar but she could not place it. Had she not heard it in a dream? She had. I just don’t want to end up like Augustine. She had also then wondered who Augustine was. She must be somewhat famous—must definitely be important—if Matthias were doing business with her.

Hours later, when Lyssa was cradling herself as the screams echoed once more throughout that haunting castle, threatening to drive her insane, the air suddenly shifted around her and Matthias appeared, pulling her towards him, rubbing her temples. Her eyelids drooped slightly. It was as if he knew exactly what she needed. She snuggled up to him and almost slumbered when she remembered she had a question to ask him.

“Who is Augustine?” she whispered.

As if he had waited for her to ask that particular question he replied, “That’s what you will learn in the next hours. You will learn about the betrayal you have suffered.” He said it soothingly as he tucked a strand of Lyssa’s blonde hair behind her ear. He placed his hands at her temples. “Close your eyes, love. The adventure is about to begin,” he said, suddenly sounding fanatical, his voice laced with something Lyssa could only place as obsession. 

All she felt now was a flutter in her heart as his eyes were no longer a steady grey but yellow with white slit pupils. Whether the rush was from terror or anticipation, she had no clue.