The Captain of the Manor
"What the hell is going on around here?" Aidan asked as he looked around after the event. He shoved a hand through his wild tangled hair, but didn't move from the threshold.
Edmund remained kneeling on the ground, arms around his body as it flickered from his corporeal to ghost form several times. His mouth opened in a scream, but there was no sound.
"Edmund? Edmund, what happened? Are you all right?"
Before Aiden could move, the balcony doors burst open and smoke and ashes blew through, encircling them. The wavy image of a female in tribal like clothing appeared.
Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust Twist and bend the bones of thy enemy I bring pain With this curse to learn thy soul and heart I control the soul with eternal fire On all hallows' eve my curse can be undone Touch not heart before By the light of the full moon take thy heart in thy body Pledge forever more and become corporeal By sun rise you will be forever gone or leave the shadows With the eternal fires out of control With this curse I release thy soul This is my will let it be done
The woman faded away along with the wind, smoke, and a few strange scents. Aiden braced his hands on the doorframe at the last burst.
"Leave. Please leave," Edmund said in a low strangled tone.
Edmund glared at him and turned away. "Leave."
"No other man who crossed the entrance was touched by my curse. Not in almost 300 years has the blasted image of the priestess appeared to me. Only by your step over my threshold, the barrier of my prison, did she take notice," Edmund said.
"On All Hallows' Eve, I will either die permanently or become a man."
"Can you choose to remain cursed?"
"Why would I continue my existence?"
Aiden stepped forward but stopped when Edmund held up a hand.
"Leave, please. Return to your room. I will not ask someone to endure my cursed existence."
"You would rather die. Without your soul, you'll be damned."
"I've already been damned the moment the curse will lay upon. Finally, I will be at peace and rest. My life over. It is done," Edmund said and disappeared from Aiden's view.
"Edmund! Damn you, get your misty ass back here and talk to me," Aiden demanded to the room, slamming his fist against the doorframe. "Edmund! You rotten stinking ghost! Fine! Have at it. I was willing to offer myself for you, but screw you, Captain."
Turning, Aiden yanked on the ancient handle and the door slammed behind him. He stomped down the hall, the stairs, and found his way on the porch and boardwalk leading to the beach. Kicking off his shoes and socks, Aiden left them at the end. Rolling up his pants, he stepped on the sand, cool with the evening air and breeze. He strolled up and down the beach, thinking, considering options, and wondering what the hell he was going to do. Hours later, exhausted, he plopped his ass in the sand and stared over the dark water, the gentle waves with the misty breaks rolling up the beach.
* * * *
Appearing in the lower lighthouse's abandoned caretaker's room, Edmund shoved hands through his hair. Since he oversaw the conversion of the lighthouse to electrical, there wasn't a need for a caretaker to remain on the property since it could be monitored from the manor. Instead, he used it as a reclusive area throughout the rest of the year. He hated having people walk through his form. It bothered him at how he couldn't interact with anyone.
Now this chance, this appearance of the priestess who ruined his entire life, and his entire world was turned upside down. There was no possible way he could dare ask Aiden to do what the priestess said. Why would a young gorgeous man wish to move into the manor and stay with him? He was over 300 years old. How long could he even have if this scheme to end the curse worked?
"Damn you, priestess, why do you enter my life? Why must you continue to torture me and my heart? I resigned myself to this position in life. I'm secured in who I am and why I do to survive year after year. Why now? Why him?" Edmund called out.
Never expecting an answer, the erotic ancient spices of the magic flowed around him. Where there were no candles, tall pillars appeared and flamed high. A fireplace roared to life in the empty hearth.
Spinning around, Edmund saw the voodoo priestess walk through a wall, dressed in her traditional attire. She became more solid in appearance. Her skin was a beautiful copper brown of mixed heritage. Her eyes were dark and ageless, but filled with knowledge and power.
"Do you not wish to return to mortal man and retain your soul? Is this not what you dream from the night you were cursed to regain your life? I watch you these many long years, Captain Edmund Carslyle. I was verra angry at the death of my beloved Bartolomeo and cursed you with all my might."
"Aye, you did but I wasn't the cause of his death," Edmund said.
"You ordered the attack and plunder of his ship. You were the cause, the order was yours. There was no other to rescind the order," she said, pointing her finger at him.
Edmund held up his hands, knowing he would never win against the priestess. "What do you me to do with this cursed life?"
"See the error of your ways and open your empty heart. The dalliances of young men meant nothing to you. You saw them as a means to an end. Lives weren't involved. Hearts were left to themselves to break and reform. You had no care other than your own."
Why would he bother to care for others when they knew he didn't exist beyond the manor? There was nothing he could do to change his circumstances.
"This young man opened your heart the moment you saw him, wanted him, and yearned for him. Deep in the hole where I took your soul. He is to you what my Bartolomeo was to me."
"Do not harm him, Priestess. He has done nothing wrong but appear upon my doorstep."
"Which you let him enter and stay without payment."
"He was left alone after I tossed out his boss. What could I do?"
"Close the door upon him."
"Nay, I couldn't leave him outside."
"Your heart wanted him."
"My cock wanted him."
The priestess shook her head. "Look deeper, Captain Edmund Carslyle. You will find the answers you seek."
"What about Aiden?"
"He will live."
"Beyond All Hallows' Eve?"
"My promise. My curse will not harm him."
"Choose well. Die or live."
"For how long?"
"For you to decide," she said and disappeared along with the flames and scents.
"Some damn answer," Edmund said to the empty room and paced the room.
TO BE CONTINUED