I am doing my final preparations this morning to dive into writing Project Music Box, my Pride & Prejudice meets Jane Eyre in a steampunk world novel for Nanowrimo. I have been sitting on this idea for about 2 years now, and I have been excited for it since the moment I came up with the idea. And now the time has finally arrived! I'm looking forward to taking a bit of a break from Hynafol Castle and diving into a totally different world. Thus, I have been reading over the bit I already wrote when I first got the idea, and I am amazed at how different my writing style has changed in those couple of years. I feel I have improved quite a bit! But alas, I must scrap this first chapter-ish I wrote so I can start afresh. But I did not want to waste it, and so I'll just post it here. Feel free to compare it to whatever I actually write for it whenever I actually publish this sucker. (Who knows when, Hynafol Castle takes priority, but might publish in between, who knows)
Enjoy and happy Nano!
To my Dearest of Readers,
I beg of you not to be overtly curious of the world I am about to place you in. The story I am about to tell is nothing short of a secret, so you must promise not to tell. If the general population were to find out about this other-worldly place, I am quite afraid they may just burst with exhilaration, as I am equally frightened you may as well.
So yes, fair warning to you, traveler of the pages, wanderer of worlds, and consumer of words. Think not highly of yourself until you are sure you have not spontaneously combusted due to the fantastical components declared within these pages. Do not be embarrassed if you do, many have before you, and many will after you. I am quite sure those in the first category would be happy to share their version of the explosion to you once you have finished yours, perhaps over tea or coffee. And, of course, you can be of great assistance with those in the latter category, if you are the kind and helpful sort. I do not doubt it of you, but I can also see you may wish to take time for yourself, for the number is great of those who spontaneously combust over such incredible prospects, and you may tire of the endless pouting of those who have just, well, exploded. Occasionally there are those which mourn their death, but most simply pout that their demise forced them to stop pondering the wonders they were endeavoring upon learning. Fear not, there are many others who can welcome the new arrivals, if you so wish to partake of some eternal rest owed to you.
I shalt not pester you with endless, quite possibly unsolicited, advice revolving around your impending doom that is quite likely. But forget not that I have indeed warned you, that is all.
Enjoy the journey, dear reader. However, do not resent your own reality all that much, for it will only cause you to grow sick at heart. Indeed, it is quite the unfortunate matter that there is nothing you can do to change it, and I must admit a bore of a life is perhaps no better than a life ended with spontaneous combustion, thus, I endeavor to take this fairly hazardous risk in presenting this literature to you; my very own story in which I shalt not lie. Lying would be a cowardly, yet easy approach to securing your safety; but I ask, dear reader, what would be the purpose in such a deceitful maneuver? No, I will trust that you, my brave reader, have weighed the risks and understand the undertaking you are accepting.
In some ways, I am of utmost gratitude that you have agreed to this, and present you with my highest marks of courage and my sincerest wish for you to be able to finish it in its entirety. It is my greatest desire to have someone understand. Someone outside this world that I will forevermore reside, and someone inside the rather charming, but mundane world also appearing in the story. That world is yours, you see. So please, try not to combust, will you? At least not until the end. In all honesty, I would quite appreciate it.
My throat felt as though acid was corroding holes into it as I vomited into the sizable, silver bowl that had sat on the top of the darkly wooden dresser next to the bed in which I was previously sleeping. Perhaps the reason behind this lurid sense was due to the actuality of it, after all the bile from my stomach was, in fact, a type of acid, and it was now encompassing my throat due to the disgorgement I was now participating in. At long last, I was able to dislodge my face from the vessel as the nausea finally left me. I had awoken from a heavy slumber with a fierce need to retch. It was a fortunate matter that there was this lovely dish nearby, etches of ivy around the rim of the basin, I would not like to think of the slew of vomit that would otherwise be strewn about.
It was not pleasant to be located stationary over the bowl for the initial fifteen minutes after awaking, but unpleasant things we all must endure from time to time. I sat for several strenuous moments afterwards with my eyes clamped shut, taking deep, full breaths in and releasing them slowly, earnestly wishing the room would stop its dance around me. My eyes flickered open, and was able to observe the strange room about me, as it has ceased its spinning.
Immediately my ears perked up at a melancholy tune that was drifting around in the air, unfamiliar to me, yet so incredibly exquisite. Indeed, I had never heard it before, but it captured my heart in such a way that I felt like I belonged wherever this song was being played. As I looked around the rather immense and elegantly furnished room I was currently residing in, searching as to the source of the enchanting music, my eyes drifted to finally land on a small music box, which was a resplendent work of art, with a metal, carved rose protruding from the top, and whimsical swirls flowing through the flowers which were elegantly engraved into the small, silver box. I felt my eyes narrow as I studied the lovely, mellifluous box. From where I stood, I could see different cogs and gears of many different shapes and sizes turning about inside the box. I could not help but let the enchantment of the music take hold of me, stepping closer as a moth to a flame. But one step in, and I stumbled due to the expansive dress that was draped about me, which had caught under my foot, nearly sending me toppling to the floor. I felt myself reach for the box, almost as if I was out of my own body, witnessing someone else stretch their arm forward, just as I heard my own breathing coming in as sharp, short spurts. I laid the other hand over the left side of my chest, feeling the rapid rhythm of my unrestrained heart beating underneath. My fingers were nearly touching what I could imagine was a cool, metallic surface with a captivating texture of the different swirls and flowers, and…SNAP.
Before I could comprehending what was happening, a man had burst through the only door in the room and marched over to where I stood, forcefully closing the small, ornate music box with a slam, causing the music to cease, thus breaking the spell that the euphony held over me. I attempted to swallow the knot that was adamantly lodged in my throat, quite unsuccessfully, may I say, before slowly facing the man.
He was reasonably tall, with a strong jaw. His black hair was swept to the side, and his broad chest fell and rose very quickly. A bead of sweat trickled down his rather large nose, and his sapphire eyes were bulging at me before he took a deep breath through his nose. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply once again before speaking.
“Why is she in here?” His baritone voice made me take a prompt step backward.
“Sir, this is just any ordinary room, like any other, sir. It’s time we use it, I think. And since there is a possibility of guests from the University coming to stay, I thought it best for a stranger to take up this room and come and go quickly, since guests from the fine establishment usually tend to linger a bit longer and we have only been requested to care for this young lady for a month, sir.” Another tall man marched over to the dresser next to the bed, picking up the silver bowl I had disposed the contents of my stomach into without a flinch or a scrunch of his nose, impressively. Without waiting for a reply from the man that stood adjacent to me, he marched straight out of the room, his back completely straight, and his fine suit crisp and clean.
My gaze turned back to the man who stood beside me, his hand still resting on top of the music box. His jaw clenched, and he muttered something along the lines of butlers are rather intolerable.
He caught my curious stare and straightened his back, buttoning the black tailcoat he was wearing shut, hiding away the majority of his white waistcoat beneath until only the top, near his neck, showed. He then brushed the fabric briefly with a flick of his wrist, wiping away imaginary dust particles. “What? At least I was not found unconscious in an alley with men’s clothing on. No, I have nothing to be ashamed of; he’s just a vexing servant.” He gestured to the doorway with his formidable nose before marching out of the room without a second glance.
I, on the other hand, remained stationary, bewildered and feeling dazed. Perhaps you may ask me why, dear friend. I certainly cannot blame you. But you may find my answer to that question lacking. For if I’m honest, I do as well. I do not know. I cannot remember why. I cannot remember anything. Not my name, nor my family. Not who I am, where I come from, where this place is, who these people are, not a single thing, my friend. Not one.
I knew that there was a probability that if I recalled my life, I would know exactly what was being spoken of. But alas, fate had it so I was left to wonder what those men were speaking about, and pondering their identities. I especially inquired about what the man meant when he spoke to me, about someone, obviously not him as he had made that abundantly clear, being unconscious in men’s clothing as if that was some great horror or disgrace. Unless, that was of course that the particular someone he had fore mentioned was, in fact, not a man.
Obviously I was having great difficulty sorting the sarcastic nature of his tone from what he was implying with his words. What was he trying to say, precisely? Surely the sarcasm did not mean he was found in the alley. But, if not he, then whom? He said it as if I should know, and he needn’t bother saying. But why bring this exact topic up? It was strange first words indeed. No such kind greeting or polite formalities that I seemed to somehow know was normally issued. It seems not everything could be forgotten, unless you are that strange man, unless of course, he chose to make such a rude, but bold statement towards me. Did I not belong here, was I not bound him in any way? His reaction would be understandable if I was nothing more than a hassle or a burden, unwanted, unwelcome, however required. So many questions lingered in my mind, fresh from the encounter that had just taken place. As many questions as I had awoken with, so many more had stirred to life once he had entered. Why did he shut the music box with such fiery passion and haste? What kind of respectable man allows his butler (this, I assumed, was the man that had come to collect the bowl, after all, the other man had practically said it, this joined with the man’s attire and how he addressed the man who had forgotten his good manners, had formed my conclusion) speak to him in such a forward way? But most of all, why did he choose to say anything at me at all, and why choose to say those such words, which seemed so foreign and unknown to me, when choosing to say anything to me at all? Why ever not a ‘good day’ or, ‘are you well?’ in the very least?
My breath caught in my throat. Surely this man wasn’t implying I was found in an alley, unconscious in men’s clothing, was he? Inconceivably so.
I hurried over to the tall mirror that sat in a corner. I could not help but admire the colorful arrangement of flowers that were clearly hand painted onto the white, wooden surface surrounding the glass.
One glance in the reflection I saw made me blink rapidly. That was not what I was expecting, whatever I was expecting was certainly not staring back at me in that mirror. I whipped around in the opposite direction, turning my back on the beautifully decorated mirror.