Strange how the day so easily slips away. Being terribly on edge for the events that are about to begin as this house, well, let’s just say that this house seems to spark to life after the sun sets. The moon’s glow radiates it’s hauntingly through the tree tops and sprawling lawns. It’s been years since I have graced the old family plantation. Established family money, back from when time was unbound. Money that see’s to this old place, caretakers and cleaning staff. To prep this old place for a visit is a matter of a phone call to the local caretaker. Some of the family members have seen fit to come for a visit over the years, although I have kept a great distance away, we shall get into that matter later. For now I will begin my tale. So let me introduce myself as long as you are comfortable and sitting down, go ahead and have a smoke, do you need another drink? No, now let’s begin.
Generally located in the western states, working in the movie industry with several projects always under wing, I juggle living between NYC, LA and London. We are on a first name basis after all. You may call me Gwen, no need for formalities. Born into this well embedded, established long line of money reaching back too far into the past. We have had politicians, tea, oil, wine and liquor dealings, architects and builders amongst many of our family trades; and now into the technology industries, banking and the like. I am sister to several other children, which I will introduce momentarily. The matter of money, well it really is no matter at all. Investments made by the family pays itself and all of us as well. We shall not get into how our family, one of the oldest known, came to be here in the southern US. It’s our ancestors who were very diligent with their investments and business dealings that afford us, the 26th generation with unlimited funds at our disposal, upkeep of this ancient plantation and more.
As the middle child I grew up here on this estate. Quite different I must say, it is made of stone block and granite, elaborate and ornate in its construction. Every attention to detail was seen to and still after a few hundred years, through battles waged on her sprawling lawns she still stands, orchards and grape vines still flourish and the moss still billows, weeping from the old oak trees.
Now to bring you to my brothers and sisters, whom you will know, a bit more in-depth as I re-tell this story and having invited you in, please take note that there is a room prepared for your stay. Our 26th generation first-born, that is Olivia, ever the bequeathed queen, she has taken on a mother role in our little circle, I have had my word with O as she likes to be the conductor of this crazy train, although in her heart she means well. Her husband David, well he’s certainly more her hard hand and he does like to bring the hammer down when he is obliged to do so. Second in line is Gabriella, our quiet muse. She’s always there, although you may never be aware of her presence, a little sneaky illusionist if I must say. Then there’s Carter he’s the oldest of the boys, he’s inquisitive, a master of mayhem and ever the comic, he has 4 years on me, he’s married to Alice, who is his carbon copy in female form, and there in lies the trouble, they are hilarity and mischief in one. Next in the blood line is Vincent he’s very much the gentleman, he is as they say, buttoned up, although I would never underestimate him in the throes of any sort of altercation. This is where I come in, Gwen, I am the one who always meddles in things, I poke and prod my way around, knowing far too much about any given thing, yes you never know what cookie jars my hands are in at any given time. My next sibling is mischievously wicked, a lover of nature with a powerful mind, she is the peacekeeper Jess.
The cousins, well you will get introduced as this tale unfolds. They are a large part of our family and play intricate roles as you will see.
I’ve returned to the homestead after 15 years of being away. It’s time is at hand that we endure past treason’s placed upon our bloodline. The last time that things came to embattled rage was when we were children. It was our grandparents and parents that had to sort this out back then. So upon my arrival at Gray’s Hill, having called ahead, I unlocked the heavy iron gate, driving trough and hitting the button to close it behind me, I drive to the round a bout drive and exit my vehicle. Standing there looking about, I never thought I’d be retelling this, and want to portray the story as factually as possible.
The Sun was out shining brilliantly as I stood there bag in hand. I unlocked the heavy metal door and cross the threshold. Not a thing had changed in the manor, The scent of honeysuckle and lilies bold. Dropping my bag on the floor, laying keys on the hand carved table in the entryway. I continue into the main house. Feeling of love, loss and pain weighed heavily as I walked into the formal dinning room. This was the last place that I spoke with my father, Marcus. His words rang back to me just then, I recall that clearly. I knew that I would be joined by the rest of my kin over the next couple of days and I wanted to take that moment to fully embrace and absorb my childhood home.
The glass encased wall of windows in the heavy wooden dining room over looked the family lake. a long dock jutting out into the water, boathouse built of stone. Fantastic happy memories washing over me as I turned to head into the library, here floor to ceiling books, likes of rare literary works made their home, Shakespeare, Poe, Stoker, Fitzgerald, Dumas along with newer editions King, Rice, Cromwell, Hoag. Many hours of reading took place here from me and my brothers and sisters, I am more than sure prior to our generation as Stoker was said to be a guest of our great-grandfather at one time, of that I have no doubt. Small windows in here, Oval stained glass. An enormous marble fireplace surrounded by iron gargoyles backed up to the music room, where I continue on.
Running my hand along the edge of the grand piano, golden twisty harp still sitting in the corner overlooking the orchard through another wall of windows, this was the room for entertaining. This was a well used room, parties that went on for entire weekends commenced in here. I can hear that piano playing as we sit here. Beyond the music room was an all-purpose room, from there you could go downstairs to the game hall or upstairs to the sleeping quarters or as I did, you can exit to the path that leads to the orchard and beyond. Down this stone path with the lake to the right, barns on the left and orchard directly ahead, I began my decent. Still early in the day, the sun felt glorious on my skin. I recall the birds chirping, A light breeze making the plum-tree leaves rustle ever so gently, I think they were singing a song. Beyond the orchard, well there lies the family cemetery. Yes, you have been there, I can see by the look in your eyes, massive stone and marble crypts in a semi-circle a few single above ground encasement’s. The caretakers always did a fantastic job in caring for the area here. Beautiful jasmine, wisteria, mallows, iris’ and even devil’s walking stick thriving about. Granite benches are about, to rest if you need.
Names engraved and in-layed with gold. I had to visit them, the elders. I think I recall saying hello out loud. I had to let them know that we were back and asked for their guidance. Who else had been through what we were about to undertake, except for them?
Back at the main house, I grabbed my bag and headed upstairs. Of ten bedrooms in this house, I can have my pick. I chose Great Grandma’s room. This room fit for a queen, canopy bed, settee overlooking the pool, pool house and venetian garden. Bookshelves line one wall, her old Victrola on the other side of the room. I laid on the big brass bed and must have dozed off a spell. I awoke to my cellphone ringing.
“Gwennie, it’s Carter, we’re on our way. Who else is there?”
“Um, just me so far. I must have napped, sorry not fully alert” I was a bit dazed. I think I had forgotten where I was. “Carter, come soon, it’s lonely here already. When will you be here?”
“Girl, relax, We were there in April, everything is fine, it’s not yet time. We will arrive by morning. Have a glass of wine and go for a swim.”Carter hung up before I could get another word in. I did not tell him how I hated this place after the sunset, and I was there alone. No chef, no housekeeper, no one. We arranged it that way for this little family reunion.
As night settled around me. A chill ran over me, that feeling of being watched. Deciding to run out and fetch some Chinese, I repeated the process as I had done so many time. Driving down the tree-lined road I exit onto Grey’s Hollow Rd. passing all of nothing but trees and meadows on my way to town. Shifting the car into park in front of the restaurant, I swear out of the corner of my eye I saw a red convertible pass in the direction I just came from. Gab’s has a red convertible. With dinner in hand I head back out-of-town. While parked at the stoplight I happened to spot Greg Wiley, and looked him straight in the eye. That’s just great, not an old family rival that needed to know I was in town yet. But you know of Greg and the Wiley’s. There isn’t many in these parts who don’t. They are, along with our family the oldest, largest family feuds still engaging 26 generations later.
Upon returning back at the house, I see the red convertible. Gabriella! I think I ran into the house, “Gab’s!, Gabby!” Shouting.
“Damn you little sister, just like you to steal grannie’s room. I think we embraced in a hug for 5 minutes before letting go. I love my sister Gabby, she is beautiful, full head of red hair, eyes sparkling. She always the one who trusts nothing and no one. She locked the door behind me. Grabbed the food and started nibbling on a spring roll. “Gwennie, this is going to be big, bigger than you have known and when was the last time you tapped into your talent?” continuing “You better eat, and get to work on channeling sister, things are about to get real.” I told Gabriella about catching gazes with Greg Wiley, she was not pleased. And wondered if he had noticed her arrival as well. She had spoken with Olivia and apparently they were choppering in on Monday. Choppering in, as if that’s not going to draw attention, the last thing we need, an announcement to our rival clan. Swift O, just swift. I’m sure it was David’s idea. He was good for O, but not for us, he was a liability as far as I was concerned. We needed Olivia here with us, less David.
Now, our family has had many unnatural capabilities, as the story goes it began before England even had a name. Vampires, you say? No my dear, we are not vampires, although we do have some bloodsucking friends. Our lineage is much older than that. Wolves, we have also friends and even cousins,who are wolven, mainly Wilhelm who was bitten purely on accident, don’t fret he will join us in our journey soon enough. Oh the tales that have been told, well sweets disregard everything that you have learned from Hollywood dear, inaccuracies flourish there. A tale has been told about us, one that was close, but still incorrect in its details and flamboyance, if anything. We have had wickedness within our walls, peace, hierarchies and loss of life, battles won and lost.
If you need to take a break, please do, as we are getting to the story that you came to listen to, with your meddling. Yes, go ahead and light your cancer stick, have some cognac. I will continue as I’m sure you are ready now. Gabriella and I finished our dinner and sat in silence. Upon my standing she also did the same. I could see what was behind those eyes, she was envisioning. “Gabs? What are you seeing?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer.
“The watch, it’s time to gather the watch now. We will have company before morning.”
“Let’s go down together Gabs, you freak me out sometimes.” And we did, down two levels, past the game hall to the wine cellar. Only there is much more than wine stored there. There is also a secret room into which we entered. I still feel the chilled air that puffed in my face as we entered, Gabriella went first. This was and is a room that is rarely opened and it is the very spookiest of places, dark, dusty and there are relics here that eyes have not gazed upon in centuries. The thickness of the energy in there was so thick you could literally see it in the air, hazy and cold. We walked over to the iron cage, turned the key in the keyhole, and reached into the lead box. Gab pulled out a velvet box, violet in color, sealed with a gold latch. The marking on the box, a gold celtic cross symbol with a red garnet in its middle. Thinking back, I think I gasped. Gabby was hard as a rock, I still to this day don’t think I’ve ever seen her falter, not once. Even in the eye of death, she is as strong as that iron in the gate, not rusted, unyielding.
We ascended back to the upstairs floor, made our way to red velvet chaise in the hall and commenced opening the box. Before Gabby even had the top up, you could hear a sigh and the beautiful, ancient pocket watch seemed to glow. I remember just staring at it, I was lost in its beauty. When my sister closed the lid and stood up, turned to me and said one word “focus”. We went our separate ways to bed down for the night. I was on edge as she said that we would have visitors before morning and I don’t think she meant Carter and Alice either. With all my inner might I tried to focus on my tuning and dare say I failed miserably, I just couldn’t grasp it.
I woke to hearing a conversation. Wiping sleep from my eyes. It was still dark outside. I heard Gabriella and a man’s voice. A man’s voice and I jumped up with a start. Grabbed my robe and rushed down the stairs, stopping short of the bottom, and listened. “You had to know I would come Gabriella, like I would miss this and the chance to see my cousins.” This sweet and tender voice I knew, “Wilhelm!” I exclaimed as I rounded the corner into the kitchen. The smell of freshly brewed coffee heavy in the air. Wilhelm, bald and solid as the day is long. Kisses on each cheek.
“Gwennie, looking good! Do we know when everyone will show up, do tell who knows you’re in town?”
You would never know that Wilhelm was bitten, you would never even suspect that the gifts he naturally possessed were enhanced by his little bite. Wilhelm had a nach of being able to disappear, just vanish, poof and where he stood he no longer was. About the time that we finish the first pot of coffee, Carter and Alice came busting through the door. The chipper easy comfort that Carter and Alice brought is exactly what was needed then. Now Alice, she is a spark of crazy, a dash of magic and allure all rolled into one. Alice has a given nature to stop time, not freeze it, but stop it. Now Alice is not blood, but she is also the last in her family tree, another elder family blood line that entwined over the years, Carter well, he was on her tail since we were teenagers, she finally gave in. Carter, well Carter has a keen sense and he also has the ability to transform things, he can make anything and he can change anything. He used to change water into beer all the time when we were younger. He is the air of solidarity to this group of misfits, dare I say.
The day passed with reminiscing, Carter played a few jokes, Alice well she gets him right back. She stopped the clock and put a green bean up Carter’s nose. Gabs announced that more of the Wiley’s knew we were here and came sniffing about. Of course she glared at me. I felt it burn inside at that heart string, but that will come later in this tale. She also announced that Dillon, a sheriff and also a cousin would be knocking in 10 minutes or less, which rang true. We had another round of family greetings. Dillon came around to keep us informed and as a peacekeeper he knew what was about to go down and would assist in any way he could.
This just happened to be 100 yrs, and to add to that fire, fueled by a lost romance between our family and the Wiley’s. This was to be the confrontation that none of us wanted any part of and feuds that our family had done everything to stop from happening. This, however, was not one we were or could walk away from. There were debts to be paid, hierarchy again reestablished and well the Wiley’s they had gotten out of hand, raping, killing and beating people. Lastly people had just gone missing, they even grabbed some locals so I hear told. It was also said they had gotten deeper into the darkness now. We are all dark inside, but they had gone to slaughtering so it was said. Our family has held an elite club not far out on the edge of town, exclusive invitation only, and although the Wiley’s have always been welcome to drink and dine there. They have been of late been attempting to stronghold our cousin Peter into relinquishing it to them. This shall not be allowed, they showed up one night not long ago and beat Peter to near death and now, we will hold them accountable. Peter who as we speak is still recovering. The Wiley’s, well they have overstepped their bounds and Olivia will have none of it.
Now that our why is out-of-the-way. Right about dinnertime Jess pulled in, or was dropped off, I should say. Jess, our own little hippie. Only a pure toe headed blonde, this girl a fire starter. As much as she loved nature, she had the uncanny ability to spark a fire anywhere. If ever there was a spirit dancing somewhere it was hers. Vibrancy walked in the room with her as she came bopping in. Even though we were all very much older than we appeared, we are still the exuberance of youth and now lack only Olivia to complete this circle.