#AtoZChallenge - Keep Watch

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a lovely weekend.
I am having a minor surgery today, so will be away from blogging for a couple days. My super amazing and generous co-author Dan Keidl has offered to continue the story for you all while I heal up (though I'm sure the story could get quite interesting if I wrote it on painkillers!). He, like me, has no real idea where the story is going because it is completely determined by what y'all tell us to write. Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with :)


Amy wanted to be sure little Irena's nap was undisturbed, so she led her back up the short marble stairway to the door they'd come out before, the young child's sandals slapping against the stone stairs. The flapping subtly altered pitch as they both stepped onto the oak flooring of the foyer. Hand in hand they walked down the hallway, and through the very first door to their left, Amy discovered a wonderfully ornate sitting room. Polished dark wooden chairs and couches with green velvet cushions were interspersed with lovingly carved endtables hoisting gas lamps made of brass, unlit. Old suits of armor, in need of dusting, stood on display in the corners. Large paintings of a regal-looking man and woman -- most likely Irena's mother and father -- hung on one wall, and on the opposite a tall arched window let in the light from outside, which was quickly growing darker as clouds rolled in.

As Amy cast about for something with which to light a lamp, Irena wordlessly padded up to a large circular armchair, plopped down on it, and proceeded to stretch her arms over her head in an exaggerated yawn. By the time Amy hit upon a small box of long wooden matches, the child had swung her legs up, lay her head down, tucked her knees in against her chest, and fallen fast asleep.

"Sleep tight, little Rain," Amy said, feeling a certain rightness about the nickname. Turning a table lamp on low, Amy lit it with a match and replaced the glass. In the dim orange glow she found an old, rich green blanket which she draped carefully over her sleeping charge. Actual rain began to patter lightly at the arched window as Amy stood back to admire the sleeping child's gentle breathing.

Amy's ears perked, and she swung her head around as she realized she could faintly hear music. Leaving the safely sleeping child for a moment, she stepped out of the sitting room to better pinpoint the source. A haunting melody, the kind of tune one might hear at a formal dance, drifted down the hall, and Amy was drawn to it.

She found a set of double-doors, the music plainly coming through them. As Amy stepped through, nervously pushing at the folds along the front of the rich dress she wore, she found herself in a vast ballroom. A number of chairs were arranged in a semi circle on one end, as if to seat a chamber orchestra. However, at the center of the empty chairs stood a short circular table upon which rested an antique-style phonograph, complete with an almost comically-oversized copper horn, and it was from this that the music played. Tall windows like the one in the sitting room lined one wall, and in the dim light coming in, she could see a proud figure standing.

He was wearing a dark blue uniform like what Amy fancied a prince or king would wear. His left arm was behind his back, while his right held the lapel of his jacket. He turned his head to face her, and Amy was struck by the resemblance he held to the painting in the room where Irena was sleeping.

As their eyes met, he held out a hand to her across the room, and she walked to him to accept it. As she closed with him, though, a few paces away, she got a sudden sense of wrongness and awkwardly stopped. She regarded him more closely, and was struck again by the too-perfect resemblance to the man in the painting.

"Prince Leo?" she said, remembering the name of Irena's father. He inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement. As he made that gentle motion, her vision swam and she got an impression of him, perfect as a painting, colors dabbed on to mimic life, like he wasn't a real person but the image of one adorning canvas.

White canvas. The man in white.

Her blood ran chill through her veins, but Amy knew that if she revealed the ruse, she would be in terrible danger.

"Won't you join me for a dance?" the figure asked, his mouth barely murmuring the words above the music.

What will Amy do?
Lull the painted man into complacency by accepting the dance.
Lunge away and flee the ballroom.
Lure the painted man into telling Amy his secrets.

Make sure to vote for where you want the story to go below in the comments so I know what I'm writing about for tomorrow! Thanks!

Voting has closed for this post! Please visit the Lulling Through Dance post to continue reading :)