**************************Prologue: June 1860
The ticking of the seconds hand drummed in beat with Raleigh’s heart. 3 o’clock sharp.
The young Lord Raleigh Maddox snapped his pocket watch shut, slipping it into his waistcoat pocket. He stared at the stoned pathway ahead of him, leading to the large pristine-looking building. The Harlow-Carver Institution was one of the most acclaimed and accredited mental hospitals in the entirety of Dianus. And it had been the one place Raleigh dreaded the past 7 years.
“Are you going to stand there all day, boy?” the coachman called out to him in a strong Svengian accent.
Raleigh turned back to the older man sitting atop the horse drawn carriage with a cold glare. Boy? He had just past his 16th birthday. He was considered a man by Anglossan standards though he had already lived enough for two lifetimes by now.
“Wait here for me, driver” Raleigh’s bitter tone seemed to surprise the coachman. He had barely spoken a word since the train station. “I won’t be long, just a courtesy call to appease my aunt.”
Raleigh turned back as he briskly walked towards the institution’s entrance. His great-aunt had insisted he heed the letter’s request despite his own hesitations and fears. He swore he would never return here. He would never again speak to him. But the Lady Korinna Maddox, Countess of Harvithe, was very persuasive and always won the argument.
“It’s your duty, Raleigh…you must obliged his request. You can’t run from this…”
Didn’t she realize he was the only one not running from this? The only one who daily dealt with the pain and the guilt? The only one who still remembered the truth?
Subconsciously, Raleigh brought a hand to the right side of his neck. Beneath his collar and cravat lay a jagged scar running from the bottom of his ear to the top of his collarbone; a scar from one of the nights that plagued his nightmares and haunted his daily thoughts. He had only been 9 years old when life as he knew it came to a shattering halt, stealing away his childhood innocence and nearly costing him his life. His hand continued up to his right ear, running his gloved finger along the rough edge where its curved tip once rested. Raleigh readjusted his shaggy hair to cover the deformity before reaching to grab the door knob.
Inhaling as deeply as he could, the young lord threw open the door and entered the institution. The crisp white and sterile walls sent a chill down Raleigh’s spine. He had always had an aversion to hospitals as a child since he had spent some much time in them due to his mother’s fragile condition. But now the vile began to rise in the back of his throat as memories from his last visit resurfaced in his mind.
“Can I help you?” asked the bored looking woman from behind the reception desk. Obviously the visitor traffic through here was limited.
“I have a visitation appointment with Edwaris Maddox.” The words came out colder than Raleigh had intended.
A sad sympathetic smile slowly spread across the woman’s face as she looked up from her chart, “Oh, yes, let me ring from an attendant to show you to the western day room.”
He hated when people gave him that poignant smile and pitiful look, trying to show their concern or sorrow for his situation. He didn’t need their sympathy; they would never understand what he had lived through or how he felt. The past couldn’t be changed and he had learned to deal with it the best he could.
That’s it for now…but I’ll probably post another excerpt later on. Hope your enjoyed it!