The heavy wrought-iron gates opened as if by magic. Shaped like medieval swords staking the ground, the gates creaked; Colin’s spine prickled with portent.
He stepped into the barren grounds, flanked by a ragged mass of skeletal trees. The castle loomed over him, thunderous clouds rumbled in the distance, and Colin, afraid, thought he might turn back instead. He turned to Lucy, but she’d gone on ahead.
A woman stood at the thick wooden door carved with images of angels and demons tangled in eternal battle. The woman’s long white dress glimmered with unnatural brightness and a green hooded cloak hid her eyes.
“Leave this place,” the woman’s voice sounded like pealing church bells, “you’ll only find grief and misfortune here.”
Colin woke with a start, the lightning flash and the fire still fresh in his memory. Beside him, Lucy, asleep, rested her head on his shoulder. Colin gazed out the window as the train sped through the countryside in blurs of color and light.
“Did I wake you?” Colin whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Lucy looked at him with glazed eyes, still heavy from sleep and slow to focus.
“I was dreaming,” Lucy said, and continued without Colin’s prompt, “we approached the gates to a castle; big iron gates shaped like swords. A storm brewed, and a woman in a white dress and green cloak told us to leave.”
“Then lightning struck a turret and set the castle ablaze,” Colin finished.
“Did I talk in my sleep?”
“No,” Colin answered, “I had the same dream just now.”
The train whistled and the conductor announced the next stop. The train slowed down and the landscape came into focus. It pulled up to a small country station. Atop a hill sat a majestic castle. From their window, Lucy and Colin distinguished the sword-shaped wrought-iron gates.
Storm clouds gathered.