The castle of Nasturtium was originally owned by the father of
Esmerelda. She only inherited the castle by marriage. During the reign
of Kwisko (c. 150-175) Esmerelda's father had passed away, leaving the
entire estate to the witch.
CASTLE IN THE MID-SEVENTH CENTURY
narrow, seldom-used footpath branched off the old forest road through
the underbrush and led up to the castle. At that time the highest
parapets of the castle’s four great towers, though the stones of its
walls were black with age (although one of the towers collapsed during
the tunneling of the Great Underground Highway, when the digging
beneath the castle shook the entire building). Its gate, a massive
structure of wood and rusted iron, was shut and locked with a massive
mechanism. There was no kind of knocker, nor any guards on the ramparts
to call out to. The high defensive walls were indeed old. Ivy vines
grew over part of it with roots that were deeply anchored in the
ancient mortar. The vines were delicate and not strong enough to climb.
A high-walled courtyard which was overgrown with weeds and grass and
small saplings that had poked up through cracks and breaks in the once
polished and beautiful granite paving stones.
The interior of the castle was immense. The entrance was a large hall, with a pair of torches, mounted in
sconces, glimmered on each wall, revealing a curving staircase of
polished morgia wood that rose directly before them. Its topmost steps
disappeared into darkness. There was not a piece of furniture in the
hall, not even a chair or a coat rack. To the left and right, corridors
led to other parts of the castle. On either side of the staircase, too,
were gloomy corridors. Four ways out of the hall; five including the stairs.
of the lower rooms had a spindle propped up in one
corner and a pile of raw wool beside it ready to be made into yarn. In
another corner of the room stood a loom with a half-finished tapestry.
From the accumulated dust, it seemed doubtful anyone had worked here
for a long time. To ensure that Esmerelda would keep young, Nasturtium
enchanted that spinning wheel with a time-suspension spell, so when she
pricked her finger about it, she fell asleep. The time-suspension spell
ensured that she would retain her beauty until she awoke. Nasturtium
additionally protected Esmerelda by enchanting the entire castle with a
magical maze. One could never find his way out because every twist and
turn lead one right back to the beginning.
Over the years, the time-suspension spread
throughout the tower room. As the spell was constantly renewed over and
over, the effect eventually permeated the entire castle and enveloped
the entire forest of Mauldwood. Thus an hour or two to one wandering
within its ancient depths could be years, or even entire decades in the
THE SMART-MOUTHED STATUE
guarded the exterior of the castle with a smart-mouthed statue which
she had imported from Mithicus. The tall slender statue stood just
a few yards inside the gate. The figure of a young man had been carved
from a deep, rose-colored marble and set upon a pedestal. Its arms
were folded across its wide chest, and it seemed to be tapping one foot
impatiently. There was the barest semblance of life in its stone face.
Perhaps it was the eyes that roved. Its lips and mouth were the
only parts that moved for certain. It was some kind of sentinal and
wonderfully clever. At the signs of intruders, the statue bellowed,
"Warning! Warning! Danger! Alien life-forms approaching! Danger!
arriving at the castle, the statue was really into a far space of
his own, and was very “mellowed-out” standing in the sun in a corner of
a Mithicus shop until he was sold. It had been a “bummer” ever since.