"I dare you.” The voice whispered in the dark, four pairs of wide eyes glittering around the small orb of light that had been summoned between them. It was a wet night, the summer dragging a couple of showers with it from Loshis, though the rain had eased off in the past house. Now everything was simply sodden, the blades of grass on the lawn shimmering in the half and quarter moonlights. It was school break, and only those with nowhere to go or extra studies to complete had stayed on campus, a skeleton staff manning the day to day operations or finishing off personal projects.
It was the perfect time for shenanigans.
“I don’t know Marissa. You know they say the East Garden is dangerous, especially at night.” The blonde girl whispered back, the unmistakable shiver of fear drenching her field as the quartet stood huddled together on the lawn. Between the two girls, Janse snorted.
“What a hingle, right Aaron?” He said to the auburn haired boy with them, who immediately sneered in agreement. The blonde shot him a look that could freeze Mugroba, before crossing her arms.
“What do I get if I do it?” Marissa clapped, delighting in the fact that no matter what, she now had the other girl roped into her plan.
“Uh…I have two tabs of Kings Crop? You go into the maze, make it to the central pond and bring back a memento, in trade for the Crop, yeah?” Janse sucked on his teeth, looking around in the wet darkness.
“Damn, for that I’ll do it myself Tamika.” He muttered, chuckling with a large amount of bravado and self-importance, not at all missing the blonde’s crude hand gesture.
“Shove off Janse. Fine, I’ll do it. But if anything happens to me I’m sooooo coming back to haunt your erses.” All four students laughed, before turning and heading in the direction of the overgrown and undeniably creepy East Garden.
A far cry from its glamorous twin, the East Garden was overgrown with unkempt nature - vines crawling up twisted trees, huge stone statues cracked with age and covered in moss, and wild bushes and brambles everywhere. A cryptic rose garden had grown into a labyrinth of thorns, which students swore seemed to shift and change when anyone entered it. As the fantastic four entered the moonlit garden, the air felt sharp with ancient magic and pregnant with suspense, as though the universe was holding its breath. A strange wind gently caressed their skin, though none of the foliage moved. None of the ninth forms would admit it, but the hair on the back of their necks stood on end and their fields drew closer protectively.
“There it is.” Marissa said quietly, as though any louder would disrupt the moment, all four students standing before the rose garden that had become a labyrinth. It was overgrown, and full of thorns, but still an impressive sight to behold. Janse rubbed his arms, shoving Tamika with his shoulder. The slender girl gasped and turned on him with an angry flare of her field.
“Clock off ersehole!” Her three companions laughed, the fearsome tension broken by the silliness of children, and the Bastian girl smirked with a fluid Seventen salute that was clearly a mockery.
“Gods speed, and may you not get your face eaten off by ghosts.” They laughed again, Tamika joining in with a roll of her eyes and a deep breath before stepping into the entry.
“How clocking long has it been?” Aaron whined, laying on a broken bench seat and swinging one foot lazily back and forth. From the dry and dilapidated fountain before him, Marissa shoved Janse’s face from her throat where he was placing tempting kisses, standing and crossing her arms.
“Half a house? It’s probably taking so long because she’s got lost.” Sitting up, Janse fished for a home made cigarette from his jacket pocket, putting it to his lips with a snort.
“Or she snuck out whilst we weren’t looking and ran home.” The three students laughed, though the Bastian did move to the entrance of the maze and call out.
“Tamika! Hey, Tamika? You still in there? I don’t want to be out here forever!” Silence greeted her yelled words, and with a small sense of worry, the dark haired girl turned back with a shrug.
“Eh, let’s give her a bit longer.”
Deep within the maze, Tamika’s breathing was rapid and her heart racing. She’d been walking for what felt like hours and hours, passing brambles and thorns that caught her jacket with sharp claws and tangling around her shoes. It was as though the maze was trying to catch her, and there was more than one occasion where she swore to Alioe there was something moving out of the corner of her eye.
“Stupid, stupid game. I’m done. I am done.” The student muttered to herself, taking another corner and coming face to face with a dead end. Swearing under her breath, field pressed close with a sense of panic, the blonde turned back again and to the left to walk down a long corridor she’d already been down. On the right she recalled passing a broken and vine choked statue of a woman, and two rights from that was a sundial. She would go back that way and find her way out. Turning to the right she stopped dead in her tracks.
It was another dead end.
“That can’t be right.” She said to herself, retracing her steps and stopping at the corridor. There was another archway half way down the length that hadn’t been there before. Or she had missed it, though it was kind of hard to miss a large opening framed by limp looking roses. Wrapping her arms around herself, Tamika went back down the path, approaching the archway slowly. There was a breeze, and she swore she heard the soft sound of weeping on the wind. Around her, the leaves of the maze didn’t even shiver at the gust, but the student was staring through the opening with wide eyes.
It was a small circular courtyard, with a pond.
The place was different to the rest of the maze, the grass a bit greener and the walls of thorny rose bushes less vicious looking. Stepping cautiously into the courtyard, Tamika looked around, taking in the stone carved pedestals in four ‘corners’ of the circle and an abandoned wicker basket by the water. Her skin dappled with goosebumps, and the air felt like she had just stepped into Ophus, breath pluming softly in the moonlight. Moving forwards step by slow step, the blonde galdor swore the weeping got louder. She approached the pond, looking over the dead-still surface that appeared black as the night sky. Standing on the edge, she turned around one last time to check the area, hairs standing on the back of her neck before kneeling down to reach for the basket. Her reflection stared back from the mirror like waters.
Except that wasn’t her.
Tamika screamed, throwing herself back from the water and falling onto her rump, eyes wide and heart pounding. It was like watching the world in slow motion, the girl in the pond rising to break through the surface without a hint of a ripple. She was pale, so incredibly pale, with long wet red locks loose down her shoulders and dripping rivulets of water from her Brunnhold greens. Her eyes were grey, and she was crying. The student crawled backwards on her elbows, sobbing with terror, unable to look away as the ghostly figure came towards her, toes dragging on the ground as she just hovered above it. The weeping was louder now, filling Tamika’s ears and echoing around the courtyard.
“Please, help me.” The red haired apparition wept, dark waters dribbling from her pale lips and pooling at her feet. A hand reached for Tamika, driving adrenaline through the girl who scrambled to stand, backing away from the figure. She moved towards the archway, turning to run.
Except it wasn’t there.
Turning back she screamed again, moving around the courtyard away from the girl, looking for a way out.
“Let me out! Let me out help! Marissa, Janse, Aaron?! Gods help! Help!” She sobbed, hands tearing at the bushes that rendered her soft skin with their wicked thorns. Pushing and shoving, Tamika found herself half buried in the rose bush wall, too afraid to stop and check on her ghostly visitor. Quite suddenly, she burst through the other side in a familiar walkway.
“Marissa! Marissa?!” The blonde screamed, running with all she could give, glancing back at the bushes to see if the girl was following her. She saw nothing but dry and gnarled bushes, and panting heavily, the galdor turned back. Her heels dug into the soft ground as she gasped and came to a stumbling halt, eyes wide and field pulsing. There was a figure before her, taller than any man she’d ever met. In his hands he held what looked like a set of large hedge clippers, though he was shrouded in darkness so it could have been anything.
“Oh thank Alioe! Please help me, I…I…I’m lost and I saw something back there in the maze and I just want to get out.” She rambled, moving towards the figure who stood still as a statue in the dark. Tamika got closer, her footsteps slowing as the moonlight began to pick out the shapes of the person before her. He wasn’t shrouded in darkness, his body was charred and blackened from one shoulder down across his chest to his torso, where the flesh had burned all the way through. Embers of hot molten rock glowed in the depths of his body, within the gaping hole that allowed her to see parts of the bushes on the other side.
“What the fuck…” The girl stammered in a whisper, stopping and moving slowly backwards. The dark figure also moved, taking one step towards her, then another and another. His strides were enormous, and with a sob, Tamika turned and began to ran. A sound, deep and rumbling came from the figure, and the ground seemed to shake as he pounded after her. Screaming, running, the blonde blindly moved through twists and turns catching glimpses of the hulking figure as she turned corners and corridors. She fell, stumbled to her feet, knees and hands bleeding and lungs fit to burst from her chest.
“Let me out!” The student screamed again, and from the entrance Marissa heard her, faint as though far far away. Her head turned to the maze and she frowned.
“Tamika!?” She called out, Janse and Aaron approaching, all three of them wearing a sense of concern in their auras. Another faint scream, this time it sounded closer. Looking at the boys, Marissa grabbed Aaron and shoved him.
“Go get someone right now!” She hissed, uncaring anymore if they got in trouble. The sound of Tamika’s screams sent all her hair on end, and she felt her mouth go dry. Another scream for help, and this time it sounded like it was just beyond the first wall of thorny hedges.
“This way Tamika! We’re here!” Janse called out, though he refused to enter the maze to go get her. From the other side they heard the blonde’s hysterical voice.
“Help, help me please there’s something here. There’s something in the—” Her scream was bloodcurdling and loud, before it was cut short by a wet gurgling. Marissa began to cry, whilst Janse backed away from the bushes, his eyes shining with fearful tears. Quite suddenly, Tamika appeared, causing both students to scream loudly and jump back. She was scratched and bloodied, eyes staring blankly ahead. She was soaked, from head to toe, and her body convulsed. Eyes rolling back in her head, the student passed out, though she still breathed.
“Tamika!” The Bastian sobbed, grabbing her friend by the shoulders and tugging on her. Snapping her head at where Janse should be, Marissa cried out when she saw he’d fled.
“You ersehole get back here! Janse!” As she called after the boy, she would notice the lights coming on in the dormitories, the sounds of screaming in the dark dead of night carrying all to clearly over to the closer parts of the campus, not to mention Aaron would have reached someone by now. Students and staff alike were coming, dressed in their nightwear and carrying lanterns, curiosity and concern awash in the fields that clung on them.
“What happened?” It was the voice of Ophelia Servalis, the Headmistress frowning in concern, her Brunnhold green dressing gown tied tightly around her form. From Marissa’s arms, Tamika’s eyes suddenly flew open and she screamed in terror, fighting against the other girls hands. It was impossible to understand her words between sobbing and hysterical rambling, but it didn’t stop the Headmistress’ yellow eyes flicking to her small contingent of summer break staff.
“Get her to the medical wing, immediately. And get everyone out of here. No one is to come to the Gardens until further notice.”
This is an exposition post. You are welcome to react in a separate thread, either immediately as part of the event, or days later. If you are in Brunnhold, you will hear about this by the morning light if you didn't already come with the others when the screams were heard. If you are in Vienda, you won't find out till the 9th via word of mouth or the papers. There are plenty of things to explore here. What happened to Tamika? What is going on in the garden? What was it Tamika saw? This is a Main Chapter event, so if you do make a post related to it, please tag with Main Chapter In The Night Garden. If you are looking for some modded threads, DM me. :)