Bellegrave Castle in the remote part of the forest had been a strange and, for most people, a forbidding place, full of rumors of old misfortunes and even violence. Oddly, the people who had fallen victim to its mysteries were loners, rarely related to any family members or wide circles of friends who would follow up on disappearances…. or foul play…almost as if the castle actually knew who to pick and choose for its murderous mischiefs.
Imagine! A place that actually was capable of conscious thought…and willful malevolence. Skeptics who stumbled on tales of the place would apply their 20th century sensibilities and learning and deny that anything like that could happen, in the “real world”. Of course, there have been other tales of places infected with a methodical evil. But perhaps nothing quite like this.
You see, the castle had been built by reputedly loving and much loved people; a royal family known for wisdom, justice, and generous displays to their subjects and vassals. The lords of Bellegrave also had been the extremely lucky residents of peaceful times, free of the constant wars and conspiracies that plagued the centuries in which they lived and the neighboring countries that seethed and burned so nearby. The great good fortune that shone on this beautiful place seemed indeed heaven-sent, and the sobriquets of “The Good”, “The Fair”, ‘The Kind Hearted”, and “The Blessed” often were added to the rulers’ names as they were crowned and followed one by one in direct succession, father to son, and even to daughter, in the case of Princesses who also could ascend the throne with no complications of the restrictive male primogeniture where only sons could rule. Each generation was blessed with happy, healthy children, again unlike the other royal houses of Europe where infant mortality and the demise of dynasties could result in secret crimes concealed behind palace walls, or civil wars played out in open countrysides.
So how, how after the centuries of royalty and chivalry flowed by, and the modern age of reason and modernism had dawned did Bellegrave Castle lose its lustre? Its radiance? …and its sanity? As royal titles faded, duchies and principalities merged, and families gave up putting Roman numerals behind their noble names… Bellegrave Castle drifted from a golden haze into a grey and forlorn miasma… sad at first, and then slowly rotting from somewhere inside…its walls, and its soul…