This weeks prompt from The Dark Room is hermit. As depicted in the picture above. C’mon and join the fun, won’t ya!?
The door creaked loudly as Piper hesitantly entered Headmaster Lynx’s office, “You wanted to see me, sir?” Her crystal eyes shifted toward the ominous presence of the headmaster. He disturbed her for reasons she couldn’t place.
He whirled around from the window he’d been staring out of and bridged his fingers together in front of his chest, “Ah, Piper. Come in, child. Shut the door, won’t you please?” He motioned for her to have a seat.
Piper slid into the velvet armchair, the roughness of the fabric stabbing her in the back of both legs. She watched the headmaster ceremoniously throw his black cape behind him as he squatted his lanky frame into the chair behind the monstrous desk, “Do you know why I asked to see you, Piper?”
In his presence, she was too timid to speak so she shrugged her bony shoulders and shook her head. However, she had an inkling of an idea. She had noticed the way the gargoyles stood alert, their gazes fixed on her as she and her friends made their way over toward where the gate was. It didn’t shock her when one of the gargoyles swooped in and grabbed her by her waist to deposit her at the door in the center of the building where they instructed her to head immediately to the Headmasters office.
The evil glint in the headmasters eyes signaled trouble brewing for Piper. She knew what was coming so she didn’t need to brace herself.
Headmaster Lynx rustled some papers that were stacked in front of him, his black hair falling across his forehead. He brushed the hair away with thin fingers and steadied his glare at Piper, “You’ve been told, numerous times, to stay away from the border of the grounds. What lies in the woods is too dangerous for children such as yourself, Piper. I let it go the last time but I’m afraid this time, you’ll have to be punished.”
Punishment at Ravenwood was dreaded. The offending student was banished to their room to live like a hermit for a minimum of three days. Piper was always met with the extreme. Last year, she had been holed up in her room for a week. “Sir, I meant nothing by it. We weren’t paying attention, we were busy cleaning up the mess and lost our bearings. Please, I’m very sorry. It won’t happen again!” She hated being stuck in her tiny room, all alone with her thoughts and visions. Plus, the ghosts. They were so annoying when they had a captive audience.
Headmaster Lynx cackled, “That’s exactly what you said, last time. Ms. Rathbone, I’m getting tired of your insubordination. You don’t believe the rules were meant for you? You don’t think I know when you sneak out of your room in the night? You don’t think I’m aware of the fact you practice your magic behind closed doors? You can’t truly believe that I would think to hold you to your word? You, you little orphan child, are not to be trusted.”
Piper opened and closed her mouth. Defending herself would be futile, he was right. She did all of those things. But, she couldn’t help it. Her magic came on its own, begging to be practiced. And the nighttime wanderings, she had to investigate the building when it called to her. No, she certainly wasn’t to be trusted but that wasn’t her fault. “What is my punishment?”
Lynx tapped his forefinger to his temple, “The last time, you were in your room for a week, correct?”
Piper’s shoulders dropped and she hunched in her seat, making her look even smaller than she was, “Yes, sir.”
He nodded, “And to no effect, I see.”
She sunk a little lower, “Apparently not, sir.”
He shuffled the papers again and pulled out her file, which he glanced over, “And, all you want is to know what is beyond the gate. A gate no one can see except you, by the way. All the other students see are trees, but not you Piper. You see the unseeable.” He stood up and walked over to where Piper sat, still hunched and head hanging low, “I am banishing you to what lays beyond, Piper. That’s what you’ve been wanting, right? That’s what you’ve been longing for. Let’s see how well you do out there, alone. Once your curiosity is satiated, only then will I allow you back. Assuming you survive. Go to your room and fill a duffle bag with some of your belongings, I’ll send Fynn for you in 30 minutes.” He turned his back, letting her know she was dismissed.
Slowly, Piper stood up. Her heart was racing, she was simultaneously terrified and excited at the thought of her punishment. As her hand hit the doorknob, she stopped, “Sir, the land beyond here. What is it called?”
Pilar Lynx didn’t turn from the window, where he stood to observe once again, “My dear, I assumed you would have already known since our ghosts are so eager to share secrets with you.”
“No sir, I don’t know anything.” Her hand was still on the doorknob and her heart was still racing in anticipation of hearing the name.
“Greyhaven. It’s called Greyhaven. But don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing safe about it. Now go. Thirty minutes.” He started muttering to the raven on his windowsill but Piper couldn’t make out what he was saying.
Once in her dank room, she began throwing some clothing into her old, green bag she had under her bed for as long as she could remember. Grabbing her red stone ring and small dagger she had kept hidden beneath the floorboard of her closet, she threw those into her bag, as well. Piper didn’t know how she had come into possession of the two objects but she always knew to keep the safe and away from Pilar Lynx.
The next couple of minutes gave her enough time to wonder, exactly, what Headmaster Lynx was up to by allowing her to see what was out there. It was forbidden territory, heavily guarded by magic. Why was he suddenly permitting her to go? Piper realized this so-called punishment was for his gain but what did it have to do with her.
The knock on her door finally came, she knew the gargoyle, Fynn, would be waiting for her on the other side. She looked around the room that had been home for the past ten years and wondered if she’d ever see it or her friends again.
Taking a couple deep, cleansing breaths and wrapping her thick cape around herself protectively, she opened the door and silently followed Fynn toward the answers to her questions. Greyhaven.