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Emerging | Thursday morning at dawn


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Room of Lord Langdon

 

The chamber is small, but comfortable, a large oak bed resting against the west wall. The bed is hung with rose-colored damask, the fabric trimmed with same-color tassels. Across from the bed is a stone hearth whose crackling fire keeps the chill at bay. Small porcelain doves have been affixed to the edges of the mantel with silver satin bows and to the tie backs of the drapes and bed curtains. A window is set into the south wall, overlooking the Long Walk and Castle Hill. A small carved oak table and chair set rests to the right of the window while a small door, hidden behind a rose-colored curtain with thick tassels, beside the fireplace opens into a little closet. Candelabras rest on the table and mantel, casting long shadows over the polished wood of the floor.

 

 

Right before the sky began to lighten, Sam sat up in bed and looked over at Charles sleeping peacefully beside her. She cocked her head as if curious and then stood up. Not bothering to put on any clothes, she walked over to the window and looked out. As the first colors of dawn flashed across the sky, she smiled.

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Charles slept soundly because the two of them had been at it all evening and night.  There was no need for other entertainment for the couple.  The sins of the flesh consumed all their waking thought.  For Charles, he had been making up for many months of abstinence.  For Sam, she had been making up for years of dreams.

It was because their naked bodies were in a tangle that Charles could note the departure of Sam.  A sleepy eye opened to regard her odd behavior.  This was not the first time she had gone to the window and smiled.  When he queried her before, she had confessed a penchant for sleep walking.  He had not known anyone that truly wandered while asleep, so this was something to be studied.  Quietly, he arose and moved behind her and whispered "what do you see?"  If she answered him while asleep, he might glean what was calling to her and making her smile.

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Sam did not jump or otherwise appear startled when Charles approached her from behind. Nor did she turn around. “Can you not see it too?” Her voice sounded strange, It was higher than usual and had an odd accent. “It has been so very long since I have watched the sun rise. I have missed it.”

 

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Charles was a believer in spirits.  How could he not, given his encounter with the spirit in the bowels of Whitehall?

She is possessed!  What else could explain the odd voice and accent?  Sam would not be pranking him on this.  The only spirit that might possess her would be the Lion.  But why did he not possess Susan?  Perhaps Sam was more susceptible to spirits.  He had heard of mediums that could welcome spirits into their body temporaily.

He needed to take a chance that it was their old familiar spirit.  "Yes, I can only imagine what a century of being imprisoned in dank dungeons would do for the appetite to see the sun.  How long can you stay with her?"  That might tell him much.

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Sam turned around. There was a glazed look in her vivid green eyes. “I know not of whom you speak,” she said. “But I am not surprised there are others. When the veil is lowered, it is possible to escape for a little while. I am not sure how long I can stay, but it will not be long enough. If I could find peace, I would not long for the sun at all.”

 

She turned back around. There was something clutched in her hand. Diamonds sparkled in the pale light of the rising sun.

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This was a surprise.  It was a new spirit!

"Apologies, I thought you were the spirit we encountered in the depths of Whitehall," Charles replied softly, not wanting to wake Sam.  "I am helping this other spirit find peace.  Perhaps I can aid you as well.  Who are you, and how can I help you?"

The diamonds were another surprise.  Sam was not wealthy, nor the type to be wearing diamonds.  Could the spirit be linked to the diamonds like the Lion was to the golden dagger?  That would make sense.  When Sam awakened later, he would be sure to query her about the origin of the diamonds.

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Now that the sun was up, Sam stepped away from the window. “Draw the curtains,” she said. “Direct sunlight can harm my host while I inhabit her body.” She ran her fingers through her cropped curls. “Her hair has been cut, so she must have been ill recently.”

 

Her gaze turned again to Charles. “I cannot remember my name. All I know is that I must be reunited with my true love before I can move on. I have been looking for him for more than a hundred years, but he …”

 

Sam’s body began to shake. “I must go now or she will not survive. As long as the connection between us is maintained, I may be able to speak through her again.” Sam’s eyes rolled back in her head and fainted.  The piece of jewelry she was holding ... a diamond brooch ...  clattered to the floor.

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Another tortured spirit was seeking peace by finding her true love.  It caused Charles to wonder how common this was.  Were there hundreds of spirits looking for true loves?  Did her true love also search for her, or was his spirit already at rest?

He was quick to pull the curtain closed once warned that sunlight might harm Sam.  It made Charles wonder how sunlight could be harmful.  "Who is he?" Charles asked quickly.  A name would be critical.  As expected, the spirit needed to depart.

Sam fainted, so he moved to catch her.  The diamond jewelry was noteworthy.  The spirit mentioned a connection with Sam.  It was becoming obvious to Charles that this connection would likely be with the jewelry.  Was this connection a good thing, or bad?  First, he needed to make sure that Sam was fine.

"Sam, are you well?" he whispered.  He cradled her in his arms and hugged her.

 

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Sam’s eyes flew open. Confusion crossed her features when she saw Charles’ worried face and realized that they were no longer in bed but close to a window. “I think I am all right, just a bit dizzy.” Her voice was back to normal, as were her eyes. She clung to him tightly. “What happened? Did I walk in my sleep again?”

 

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"You were not sleep walking," Charles assured her.  He was convincing himself that he had solved the great mystery.

"You are possessed by a spirit that spoke to me with your lips," he began.  "She takes your body and walks to the window to see the sunrise, yet she claims that direct sunlight hurts your body when she possesses you."  Frankly, Charles considered that only evil spirits would fear sunlight.  "She does not remember her name, so she has been dead for ages I think.  She is looking for her true love, much as the Lion seeks his Swan."  Sam had been allowed to see the Lion speak through lantern light and knew of this search, and the role of the golden dagger.  

"She can control you through a connection. I believe that connection is that diamond jewelry in your hand.  Where did you find it and why are you keeping it near?  I would wager that your sleep walking began shortly afterwards," he surmised.

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Sam was not prone to weakness, and the feeling of vulnerability she was currently experiencing was not at all pleasant. A spirit  had possessed her body? Before she had seen proof that ghosts existed with her own eyes, she might have believed Charles was losing his mind. That thought had occurred to her when he took her down to the dungeons that night. Knowing what she did now, his explanation made perfect sense. Now she knew why she walked in her sleep and woke up by the window while the sun was coming up.

 

She didn’t like it at all. Was she not in control of herself anymore? Would it happen again? Pulling away from Charles, she picked up the brooch from the floor and then returned to him as he told her that he believed that the piece of jewelry was the connection between herself and the spirit.

 

Her eyes widened. If that was true …

 

“You don’t remember?” Sam asked him, moving back into the circle of his arms. She felt safe in his embrace. She was a confident woman, but learning that a spirit could communicate through you was enough to make anybody insecure. “You found it under the skeleton’s shoe and gave it to me."  She had been drawn to it in a way she didn't understand until now.   "I believe you're right and the sleepwalking began when I started carrying it with me."

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As Sam struggled to cope with the fact that she had been possessed, Charles was attempting to decide whether to cast away the jewelry so that Sam would be possessed no more.  It was the origin of the brooch that caused him to react strongly.

"Blazing cannons" he muttered more loudly than intended.  Sam would know that this was his standard way of cursing politely.  "She is the Swan!  Of course, our ghost had a brooch that belonged to her.  All this time Lady Susan was looking for a way to find her and we had the key all along.  She thought she may have located the burial spot of the Swan near to Windsor."  He grew silent as he pondered the next move and tried to recall the names of the Lion and Swan.  "We need a way to unite the spirits, but this does not sound easy," he offered.  "Her spirit was in the secret room all along, with the golden dagger and the spirit of the Lion.  Why did they not communicate with one another?  Bringing back the brooch to the secret room is not enough.  Maybe she needs to possess you for a time while you are in the secret room so that she can speak to the Lion," he suggested.

"I cannot visit Lady Susan to tell her, but you can.  As an officer in the Life Guard, you could speak with her alone.  I am forbidden.  You could get the names and the burial place.  Maybe we can use that.  Lady Susan also has a pearl ring that belonged to a lady.  I had assumed it belonged to the Swan.  Now I wonder if she is walking in her sleep as well.  She could be in danger," he muttered in a concerned voice.  Looking at the brooch, he added "we should put this in a box and hide it until we want to speak with the spirit again."

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Sam’s head swam as Charles explained what he thought had happened and why. “I don’t think it’s that simple,” she said, a thoughtful expression on her face. “It seems odd that their spirits have been in the same room for a century and couldn’t even sense each other.” She wasn’t fond of the idea of going back to the dungeon and letting the Swan possess her.

 

She was suddenly freezing. Taking Charles by the hand, she pulled him over to the bed. Sliding under the blankets, she held them up so he could lie beside her if he chose. “If she is buried near Windsor, maybe that is why she can communicate through the brooch. Perhaps her spirit must stay close to her bones like the Lion’s does.” Sam shook her head. “I don’t know. This is all so confusing.”

 

Sam noticed the concern in his voice when he spoke of Lady Susan being in danger. Was she the lady he fancied, the one who would one day replace her in Charles’ affections? “I suppose I can try to speak to her. We do need more information. Unless it’s already in my head.  I’ve been having strange dreams lately where I am not myself. Instead, I’m a happy young girl growing up in a beautiful mansion. I’ve never even set foot in a mansion, and have no idea what one looks like inside. But I can see it so clearly. It feels like a familiar place.”

 

She placed her hand over the brooch when he suggested that they hide it. “No, I need to keep it with me. I’m not sure why but I don’t want to be parted from it.”

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"The fortune teller warned me that the spirits may not be what they seem.  So, you may be correct that things are more complicated than we know," he admitted quietly as he joined her in bed beneath the blankets.  If she can reach Windsor then she must be buried very close by," he mused aloud.

"Susan Herbert has researched her and may know the location.  If you share some of your visions with her, it may confirm her guesses," Charles suggested.  He would have been surprised if he had known that Sam did not know that Susan was his target for betrothal.  "She knows many facts that we do not.  We will see more tiles in this mosaic after you speak to her."  He hoped that would be soon. "Do not reveal your true gender to her," he encouraged.  "The fewer that know this, the better we can protect it."  Susan would also suspect that the two were sleeping together and he would be placed into a difficult position.

When Sam resisted giving the brooch to him, Charles imagined it was the spirit wanting to retain a hold on her, but he chose to remain silent on that suspicion.  "Let me hold it until you return from visiting Lady Susan.  The spirit might want to know what is in her mind unbidden.  We should never expose anyone involuntarily to risk," he urged.  If she refused, Charles would know that the spirit had a strong hold over her and he would need to take action.

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“I had my fortune told too.” Sam believed that she was in charge of her own destiny, but she was curious about what the woman would say, and if she knew about her dual identity. She had insisted on going alone into the tent, just in case she did. “I asked why I walked in my sleep and she said that the answer would be revealed to me. I guess that much was true. She also said to beware of forces I cannot control. Maybe she meant the Swan.” There was something else the fortune teller had told her that she wouldn’t even reveal to Charles. If only one of her predictions came true, she hoped it was that one.

 

She snuggled against him. He had mentioned Lady Susan before as being involved in this matter, so maybe she was just imagining his concern. It didn’t matter. She wasn’t jealous. Sam knew that this lovely relationship she treasured so much was not going to last forever, even though she wished it would.  Every moment she spent with him was a precious gift.

 

“I can speak to her today if you can tell me where to find her. Going to her family’s residence is probably not a good idea. They will wonder why a Life Guard wants to talk to her. Maybe you can write a note to her and tell her that you sent me.” Of course she would not divulge her secret, but she would have to be creative about her visions. A soldier dreaming that he was a young girl was just too weird.

 

Sam’s hand remained over the brooch. “I don't think the spirit can't possess me when I'm awake.  I can’t see that carrying it with me would harm me or anybody else.” Why was she being so obstinate about the brooch? She didn’t understand her reluctance to give it to Charles.

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"She is a Queen's lady," Charles reminded her.  "You have been part of the Queen's detail.  She is the blond with blue eyes.  Approach her as if on official business and tell her that you have important oral message from Major Whitehurst.  Ask to meet her at the end of the hall as soon as she can get away.  When she arrives, tell her that you know about the golden dagger and the spirit in the dungeons of Whitehall.  She will then know you are trusted by me.  Tell her that we found a diamond brooch in the same room as the Lion and it establishes contact with a female spirit that claims she knows not her name but is looking for her true love.  We think it may be the spirit of the Swan because she has appeared to us only in Windsor, suggesting her body may be near.  Tell her that I have forgotten the Swan's real name, and that of the Lion, and we need to know where the Swan may be buried to see if we can lay her spirit to rest," Charles laid out.  "Maybe bring paper and a piece of charcoal  to write down the names and locations if you doubt you can remember them.  She is brave and will want to come with us, but her mother, Lady Pembroke, would banish me if she found me in the company of her daughter without the presence of her brother or herself.   You may find this hard to believe," he chuckled, "but there are some that think I am a shameless womanizer who can only hurt reputations."  He was certain that Sam would smirk.  "Susan Herbert will need to trust us to test the theory."

When Sam became reluctant to hand over the brooch, Charles replied "a test then."  He held out his hand.   "If the spirit  controls you while you are awake, you will not put it in my hand.  I will then suspect it is an evil spirit and not aid it.  If, however, you are in control or the spirit is a good spirit, then you will place it in my hands and you will get it back after you return."

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Only one of the Queen’s ladies had blonde hair and blue eyes? Sam had never paid much attention to them as individuals, only as a group. If so, she would be easy to find. If not, Sam would have to hear her respond to her name before approaching her. Getting access to the Queen’s apartments was not a problem for a Life Guard and she had seen the maids of honor walking around the halls occasionally. Perhaps she would find Lady Susan on her first try and they would have some time to speak to each other alone. Acquiring the information that Charles wanted would take more than a mere minute, especially if she needed to write it down.

 

Sam knew quite a bit about his history with women and she laughed when he described his reputation. “You must be kidding. Why would anyone think such a thing?” She was aware that she was now one of the reasons for that reputation, and wasn’t sure how to feel about it. The way Charles spoke of Lady Susan told her that he was quite fond of her and she didn’t know how to feel about that either.

 

He really didn’t want her to take the brooch along with her. Strangely enough, her compulsion to keep it close lessened after he gave her his conditions. Was the spirit still inside her, able to listen but not speak? Suddenly, she couldn’t wait to be parted from the brooch. Picking it up, she placed it in his hand. “Maybe you should hide it from me. The spirit might be able to read my thoughts even when I’m awake.”

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Sam enjoyed the laugh about his reputation.  It allowed humor to cut through the seriousness of the mystical things that confronted them.  He was glad that the brooch was dropped into his hand.  It all but confirmed that the spirit could hear them converse while Sam was awake.  That was disconcerting. 

" I will save it for you," he replied simply.  Would the spirit have heard his reference to the Swan and the Lion?  If so, that might refresh its memory.  If not, there was a chance that this spirit was not the Swan, but someone else completely.  That would complicate things and raise concerns further.  If the spirit was the Swan, it would be happy to be reunited with the Lion, and the matter would be resolved once and for all presumably. 

Interestingly, the Lion had not possessed him, even though he held the dagger, nor had Susan been possessed by the pearl ring she had taken for her own.  Did this mean that this new spirit was more powerful, and more dangerous?  Charles made a mental note to put the brooch in his locked trunk.

"Well then," Charles concluded, "Susan and the spirit can wait while you and I have some unfinished business."  His hand stroked her leg.  "This mystery is all about love, so I think we need some lovemaking ourselves to gird us in the challenges of the day.  You can then get into uniform and go to the Queen's quarters thereafter."  With a low chuckle, he moved in to kiss and embrace her.  It would be a delightful distraction and the two of them were still in that phase of not being able to get enough of a good thing. 

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