Cronan stared outside. It was damp, cold and dark. The wind wu’thered ‘round the manor, howling like a sick child down one of the many corridors. The massive ceder tree doors swung open to reveal a dark room. The walls depicted a bonfire in the forest and a small village dance around it. A small fireplace stood out from the wall to the left and a window seat was placed right across from the doors.
This was Cronan’s room. It dark and almost dismal with a sliver of light. T’was the way he liked it, it reminded him of his own path. Cronan positioned himself on the window seat, looking out on the moor. The rain beat against the glass, pounding and demanding entrance.
“Dumb storm making a bag an’ shutting us in.” Cronan’s sharp pine green orbs glared out at the natural world. The fire crackled, breathing her fire breath into the dead room. the grandfather clock just down the hall ticked calm away, as if it were sunny instead of stormy just outside the walls of the old manor.
Cronan stared at it. It was a curious clock. Not in make, but in sound. Unlike most that give a gloomy tun when chiming, it sounded more like weddings bells or wind chimes. Calm and refreshing. The clock itself was fresh again the backdrop of the hallway. Landed with fading golf fringe and old oil portraits of long distance relatives of the past or just old paintings.
Just to left of the ol’ clock was some spare rooms, the stairs to the next floor and the doors to the grand library. Towers of books, both classic and modern, created a world where Cronan’s mind and soul could be free. He often would wander there before returning to his dark corner where the shadows caressed him as he traveled far away from his dismal home.
To the right was just another corridor that weaved into another before finally coming the top of the stairs to the first floor. The entryway. It was grand and open and yet today it was cold and lifeless. A crystal chandelier took center stage above the red carpeted stairs, trying to distracting from the cries coming from inside. Pillars framed the carpet until it reached the doors to outside. Outside the pillars were the doors to the dining room, the study, the garden and others.
Lighting flashed across the grey clouds as thunder sounded it’s cry upon the green earth below. “Aye it’s bucketing down, but that’s your fault.” Cronan scoffed. Just below, he could hear them. The thunder tried to cover the screams, but he knew what they were. His parents……once again they were at war. An emotional and phycological war again.
Cronan brushed back his long black bangs out of his smooth face. He hated this. They were stuck inside, safe from the storm, but not safe from the internal storm that rifted the foundation of the family. “Big brother……” Cronan whipped his deep green eyes to meet little hazel orbs filled fear and tears. “Artek! What are you doing?” Cronan rushed to his little brother’s side, getting on his knees and opening his lanky arms.
A bundle of plaid pajamas, a woolen blanket and reddish brown hair threw itself into Cronan’s arms. Water spilled form Artek’s eyes as hiccuping sobs escaped the child’s lips. Cronan ran his hand over his little brother’s shaking back. “It’s ok….it’s just thunder. It won’t harm you….Shhhh” he softly hushed his brother, “I’m right here.”
CRACK! “Ahh!” Artek gripped his brother’s hoodie tighter within his small fingers. “The sky is yelling with them. Is it mad at us too?” His small hazel eyes looked up to Cronan. innocent fear hidden in his face. Cronan looked down, his eyebrow lightly knitted together. How could he answer his four year old brother?
“No, not at us wee lad.” Cronan groaned as he picked up Artek and carried him back to his window seat. “It’s just having it’s normal lash a wee harder then normal.” He paused, unsure what to say about their parents. “Mum and Dad…they just have a complete hames to clean up and they aren’t doin’ it right.” Artek nodded and clutched Cronan as the storm continued.
Cronan jerked awake to the sound of banging on his door. The storm crackled in the sky, the rain pouring more relentlessly then before. Cronan frowned before gently picking up his sleeping brother. “Just keep sleeping, it’s better for you then hearing this.” He placed Artek on his bed before striding over to the door, metaling preparing for the next bomb to drop at his feet.
He stopped at his door. The ornate broken handle seemed to challenge him. Just behind the door was either his Dad or Mum. Cronan wasn’t sure who he wanted it to be or if he wanted it to be anyone at all. Perhaps he imagine the knocking, no. He did hear it and if it sounded again, Artek would awaken and start trembling. He wouldn’t have that.
He griped the handle, cold in his warm fingers and slowly opened the door a crack. He made no facial change, but he was surprised to see who it was. It was neither his Dad or Mum. It was butler, Mr. Herne standing tall in front of the cider doors. Cronan let out a small sigh, which Herne understood to be relief. Herne, with his twinkling brown eyes and ash brown hair, gave a small smile and spoke.
“Sir, your father requested me to find Artek. He went to check on him since there room is quite close his and found him gone. He assumed went into the grand wardrobe downstairs but…” Herne paused. Despite being the butler, Herne was the more authoritative figure to the boys then their father and he knew them better then the oul fella. In Cronan’s opinion anyway and Artek seemed to think that too.
“Artek is in here. He was completely knackered.” Cronan brushed back his black hair and nodded to the sleeping boy on his bed. Herne looked past him and nodded. “Then I will take my leave. And Master Cronan,” Herne stopped Cronan from closing the door to look him in the eye. “I suggest you stay in here t’ill the air clears. I’ll send Assane to bring you both something to eat and drink. Have a good evening sir.” With that, Herne left and Cronan shut the door.
“Thanks Herne.” Conan almost smiled at the butler. Despite his dark personality, both Herne and Assane, the housemaid, understood who he was and didn’t mind. His parents did quite it that way. They were somehow scared and upset at his path and tried to lead Artek down and more controlled and well lit path. But that didn’t stop them from being brothers. Artek seemed to be drawn by his brother’s mysterious and was able to go through the walls Cronan had made, much to their parent’s shock.
Lightening flashed across his windows. Cronan briefly look out before sitting back on his bed. His green eyes stared blankly into the old rug on his wooden forested floor. He felt cold, despite the ambers flaring up their heated fingers upon him. Artek stirred in his sleep, grasping Cronan’s shirt tail tight in his fingers.
Cronan looked fondly at his younger sibling. Artek was pure and innocent in mind, but through his child eyes he could still plainly see the monsters that plagued their home. “I wish I could see them so starkly as you Artek.” He whispered as he laid down, enveloping Artek in his safe arms. Just until Assane comes, let us be in peace. The thunder rolled outside the room as the brothers slipped into dreamless sleep.