Genres: Dark Fantasy, Mystery
Note From the Author:The XIIIth Hour at Duskland is an introductory short story to my upcoming illustrated anthology Stories of Duskland.
This first work was published in advance as a way for me to experiment and experience what is like to publish a fiction work. It was published so I could learn about the market, improve my writings and understand what motivates fans of Dark Fiction.
While I am finishing the short stories for “Stories of Duskland”, I present its main characters Leonard, Elisa, Dr. Charles, Giorgio, Gerania and Iphigenia to you.
The XIIIth Hour at Duskland was written directly in English, rather in my primary language, Portuguese, so much of the story wouldn’t be lost in translation.
The 2nd Edition is professionally edited, and I counted with the help of great beta readers to help enhancing the read!
I invite you to know the mystery behind Leonhard’s beautiful guest. Would you dare take this trip? There’s so much more than what meets the eye…
“The XIIIth Hour at Duskland” is the introductory story to the upcoming Dark Fantasy illustrated anthology “Stories of Duskland”.
Death is just the beginning…
Leonhard is a wealthy gentleman surrounded by the most unusual and loyal friends. His life has been a hiatus for many years until the day he finds a mysterious young lady lying unconscious and hurt in the nearby woods. Pity and curious, he brings her home, where him and his friends do all they can all he can to help her recovery.
A day later, by the XIIIth Hour, Leonhard, Dr. Charles, the Siamese sisters Gerania and Iphigenia and Giorgio, the barber, discover the horrid truth about the stranger’s past. “Elisa” and the ones she came across were never the same, once they met in the picturesque and dark world of Duskland.
You still need more highlights in your hair, I’m afraid. Leonhard dipped the camel hair brush into the natural white and gave the canvas a very small, meticulously calculated stroke. I will leave you for today, Graziella… He set the palette aside, put the brush in the smelly solvent and took off his apron. Two steps and he stopped to admire his work in progress, the cause of so much eye fatigue and shoulder pain. …Yet you are so beautiful in this mortuary gown! After contemplating his painting, he left the chaotic room.
In the kitchen, Leonhard put down the paint jar and washed his hands. He was still thinking about the final details of his new painting when he heard approaching footsteps on the wooden floor behind him. He reached for the half-filled jar and, without turning his head even a third of an inch, he smiled.
“I thought you were sleeping, Dr. Charles!”
After a brief pause, a harsh voice responded. “I wish I was! However, I can’t seem to close an eye, so I came here to make some deadly nightshade’s tea to help me on my difficult journey to Dreamland.”
“A peculiar name for a plant, isn’t it?” Leonhard poured the dirty water into the sink and turned to face the tall, slender figure.
Dr. Charles was incapable of even the slightest smile. “Occasionally it can be deadly!”
Leonhard left his friend to prepare his deadly tea in peace. “See you tomorrow. Hope you have some interesting hallucinations … oh, I mean dreams!”
In the gloomy entrance hall, Leonhard put on his almost-black jackboots, plaid woolen jacket and warm country cap. Every evening, by the eleventh hour, he went out for his lonesome stroll.
His journey always started on Chapel Street. He walked for several blocks to the far end of the village, beyond the Pax Park, and then ventured into the woods. It was almost completely dark as the thirteenth hour approached and he was careful to have a lamp with him in case the stroll would be long.
Alone among the trees, he could dive into his own thoughts whilst enjoying the fresh air. He walked slowly, listening to the silence, searching for loneliness’ embrace.
That night was as cold as every other night in Duskland, but there was something unusual about it. A dim, greenish light was coming from the east and, as Leonhard followed it, the light got more and more intense. When he came close enough the light vanished, leaving in its place a young woman lying on the freezing ground.
Oh, I’ve never seen anything like that before! What was that light? He knelt, putting the lamp closer to her face and studying her countenance. Who are you? What are you doing here? She had a nasty cut almost an inch long on her forehead and, as he reached for it, he felt her face was hot and sweaty. The unknown woman was burning with fever. What should I do? I can’t leave you here and search for help. Who knows what might happen to you in the meantime?
“Come, I will take care of you. We have a harsh walk ahead.”
Leonhard took the lady in his arms and endured carrying her out of the woods. At the Pax Park he spotted the perfect place to rest his painful muscles: a wooden bench. He laid the unconscious lady across the bench and sat down beside her head. After a while he gathered his strength and then took her in his arms once again. With much struggle and effort, he managed to bring her safely to the mansion.
“Dr. Charles! Dr. Charles, please help me! We have an emergency!” he yelled, hurrying as quickly as he could through the entrance hall and into the living room. Leonhard carefully put the mysterious woman on the couch and ran upstairs, storming into Dr. Charles’ chamber and waking him with the noise.
“Are you out of your mind, Leo?”
“You bet I am! In fact, I’m desperate! Hurry, there’s an emergency waiting for you in the living room!”
Dr. Charles put on a robe and slippers and followed Leonhard downstairs. Leonhard sat close to her head as the doctor examined and medicated the stranger. He was relieved she was now safe.
“Keep an eye on her and call me if she gets worse,” said Dr. Charles. “She has a fever and it may take some time until it dissipates. I’m sure she will recover but it may take some hours, maybe days. I will medicate her again in eight hours.”
Dr. Charles went back to his chambers. The nightshade tea he had drunk earlier was taking effect and he felt very sleepy.
Leonhard spent that night sitting on a chair, observing their guest’s recovery. Sometimes she seemed to be delirious. She moved her head and groaned, mimicking words, her eyes staying heavily shut. Every time she moaned he felt uncomfortable.
What happened to you? Why were you left all alone in the woods? He fought with his thoughts, resting his head against the back of the chair. He stared at the ceiling, reluctant to fall asleep whilst the stranger was struggling.
Strangely, he felt pity for her. She looked deeply afraid and that concerned Leonhard. He came closer with his chair and laid his hand on her forehead; she was still burning with fever. It was just another delirium.
Leonhard caressed her sweet, silky hair. He found her presence hypnotizing. Abruptly he restrained himself, moving some distance away from her. What is it about you that makes me weak?
Hours passed and the sun was glooming in the sky. Leonhard was still there, thoughtful, watching the stranger sleep. Please… get well.
About Isis Sousa:
No, I am not a writer neither is writing my biggest passion!
I am in fact an artist who has worked with Graphic Design for many years and has switched to illustration since 2010. I always loved to paint and create characters and portraits, since I can remember. Doing this kind of work evokes many dreams and stories from the depths of soul and since 2012; I thought it was about time to share these tales, these fantastic ideas with people from all over the world.
My creative process is simple; I build my stories little by little through my daydreaming. I paint and draw first, then sketch the stories for these creations.
I live with my dear husband in a small peaceful valley in mid-Norway. The nature surrounding us plays an important role as part of my inspiration.
If you would like to see some of my illustrations, please visit http://www.isissousadesigner.com/ & http://canvasnoir.tumblr.com/
Connect With Isis Sousa:
Isis is giving away one ebook copy of her book at every tour stop. For your chance to win, leave a blog comment and please include an email address. Follow the tour and comment at every stop for more ways to win. Open internationally.