Mirewood Manor - Part 2

For the month of October, I will be publishing a choose your own adventure.  Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will see a new post based on the most popular decision.  The goal is for everyone to reach the end of the story by surviving the month.  Cast your votes by Straw Poll.

Taking the lantern from the backseat of the car, you confidently declare your intent to conquer the ancient halls of Mirewood Manor.  You’ll climb that spire where the Lady Fletch hung from her broken neck and light the lantern as proof.  With the cheers and shocked gasps of your friends lending you renewed strength, you stride past the towering wrought iron gates and down the gravel driveway.

As the forms of your friends fade into darkness, you feel a chill sweep through and threaten to take root in the core of your being.  Pulling up the collar of your jacket, you quicken your pace, eager to get on with your task.  With your hand nervously wringing the handle of the lantern, you draw nearer to the menacing mansion.

Up to this point, you had only heard stories about Mirewood.  The house sits far away from the road, shrouded in the shade of the surrounding forest.  Only those invited decades ago could accurately recall the grandeur and decadence of the once magnificent home.  But all of those stories are just that now…stories.  With gravel crunching too loudly for your comfort, you near the derelict mansion.

Describing the home as distraught would be a kindness.  Even at 200 yards away, you can see the manor has clearly fallen from grace.  A shadow hangs over the monstrous estate, casting it into a peculiar darkness.  Standing at two stories tall and easily stretching several hundred yards, the ivy-covered walls whispered with the secrets of the wind.  Broken windows dot the few spaces the sickly green ivy hasn't completely taken over.  A haze of light fog obscures the details and lends the entire scene an otherworldly appearance.  Squinting, you can make out the towering spire towards the rear of the house.  It rises another two stories above the rest of the house.  You see that the ivy has only crawled up a tiny portion of the spire, as if afraid to reach for the heavens like the Fletchs had.

A massive fountain stands in the middle of a circular drive.  Though it’s clear water hasn't flowed through it in ages, the stains lend a haunting visage to the angel adorning the top.  She covers her face as if weeping, looking away from the same heavens the ivy dares not approach.

As you near the front steps of the mansion, you realize that your heart is hammering away.  Chilled blood pumps through your veins and pounds loudly in your ears.  Griping the lantern tightly, you steel your nerves and start ascending the half dozen stone steps towards the front doors.  The oaken doors follow the motif of the home and stand at easily ten feet tall.  The wood is worn and weathered from years of neglect and exposure to the elements.  Heavy door knockers cast in the shape of once majestic lions’ heads adorn each door.  They seem to stare down at you with an intense hunger.  Their unblinking eyes contain an unmistakable sense of malice.

As you creep towards the door, you realize it is cracked open slightly.  Perhaps one of your friends got a bit braver than you thought?  It’s only open by an inch or two.  Steadying yourself, you plant your feet in front of the door.  You realize you've stopped breathing.  The only sounds are your own pounding pulse and the hushed whispers of the ivy.  Keeping the lantern at your side, your other hand reaches out slowly to the weathered wood.  Slowly and deliberately, your hand journeys across a seemingly endless abyss.  Just as the tips of your fingers threaten to brush against the door, it violently slams shut in your face!

Jumping back, it takes all of your willpower to stifle the scream threatening to leap from your throat.  You quickly look to the windows on either side of the door, but it’s too dark to see inside.  Despite knowing the house has been empty for years, you find yourself too nervous to peer any closer in the windows.  Thoughts of the emaciated face of Mr. Fletch popping up on the other side, screaming for blood, fill your head.

It’s just the wind. You tell yourself over and over.  A draft caught the door just right and slammed it shut.  Taking a moment to compose yourself, you remember seeing the spire towards the back of the mansion.  Part of you reasons that it would be quicker to walk around the back of the house and look for an entrance there to ascend the spire.  Still, you’re literally standing at the front door.  What do you do?

Go through the front door.

Look for an entrance in the back.