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Old 10-28-2013, 03:23 PM   #1
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Beyond Time (closed)

The stone building on the outskirts of London had always been a bit imposing. Centuries old, the grey stone had aged into a darkened color. Four stories tall, it dwarfed the surrounding homes, and the clear glass windows looked like sad eyes that looked out on a well tended garden. The garden grew in the courtyard with trees that were older than many of the buildings and blood red roses that had always been there as far as anyone else was concerned.

Dylan Jennings had always felt at home there. Her grandfather had left it to her in his will since she was his only living relative and it seemed that she was the only one excited about it. Her fiancee, John Davies, was not impressed in the least. They had been living in a small flat in the south of London and all he had done since she announced they were moving was complain. It was too far away from his work, too far away from his mates, too far away from his favorite pub. It would cost too much to heat. It would cost too much to upkeep. Dylan didn’t listen. This was her home and she absolutely loved it.

Exploring the halls of Darkwood Manor had been some of her greatest memories as a child. Her grandfather had been doting and loved having here there, especially after her Grandmother had died nearly twelve years ago. Her mother had been distant and her father out of the picture since she was five. Darkwood was all that she had left from her family and she would be damned if she let her fiancee talk her out of it.

Carrying a box into the wide entrance, Dylan took in a deep breath, savoring the smell of pipe smoke and furniture polish. It reminded her of her grandfather, the dear old man who had passed away three months ago. His furnishings were still there and she would take her time in sorting through what she wanted and what could go to charity. She let out a gasp as John bumped into her with another box, her dark eyes finding his as he smiled at her with that charming grin.

“You’ve been so good about all this, John.” She said, kissing his cheek before she started up the stairs to set the box down in what would be her studio.

She was a painter, one that specialized in portraits. She had chosen the former greenhouse on the second floor to act as her new studio. It was bright and airy, providing her with enough inspiration from the nature she saw outdoors to feed her imagination for years to come. She brushed her blonde hair away from her face and looked around the glass enclosure with a grin.

She would leave John to the unpacking. She wanted to explore. Looking through the bedrooms and the study, she made mental notes of where she wanted to start first. It was the ballroom in the forth floor that gave her the greatest start though. Stepping into the polished wooden room, she noticed for the first time the portraits that lined the walls.

They were of men that were obviously all related. One man stood with a beautiful raven haired woman who was holding bonny twin boys. The large man held a swaddled baby so gently in his arms, his dark eyes looking on the woman with such a look of love. The next was of a great warrior with his arm around the waist of a beautiful woman, her emerald green eyes looking up at the dark haired man with a breathtaking expression. There were three other portraits just like it, but the last was the one that was truly amazing.

It was of a man with a woman in his arms, her gown telling Dylan that it had to be painted a long time ago. The woman’s face was pressed against the dark haired man’s shoulder, only the golden glow of her blonde hair visible as the man’s arm wrapped tightly around her waist. His nose was pressed to her hair, his eyes closed. The portrait was so incredibly intimate that she worried she were intruding on their peace. A little plaque on the bottom of the portrait announced that this was A. Ghis and his wife, Dylandra.

Strange…that’s my name…Dylan thought to herself, though no one ever called her that. The woman’s hair looked so much like her own. Weird. She must have been a distant relation.

“Dyl! Can you come and give me a hand!” John’s voice floated up to her from far below and she glanced towards the ballroom door.

“I’ll be right there.” She called back, sparing one last glance towards the portraits before she left the room, gently closing the door behind her.
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Old 10-28-2013, 06:54 PM   #2
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The halls were silent as Dylan returned to her fiancée, until she turned around and suddenly came face-to-face with the largest man she'd ever seen in her entire life. His skin was a deep dark chocolate color and his hair was long, and straight and ebony, tied back smartly. He was dressed in a rather old-fashioned outfit consisting of s long dark brown riding coat, black breeches and tall riding boots, and a white dress shirt and black vest.

With steely-blue, clearly blind eyes, he seemed to be looking at them. His broad and angled face, trimmed with a fine beard, was emotionless until he heard Dylan's voice. Upon that, a kind, wonderful smile cracked his hard face. "Pardon, miss. But if you'd like, I can have all these boxes and whatnot taken care of for you."

And then it dawned who he was. He was her grandfather's dearest friend, bodyguard, and housekeeper. She hadn't seen him around much since she was just a little girl, and he looked rather different from back then. But he'd always been like an uncle to her, even fatherly when she needed it. He'd loved to dote on her just as much as her grandfather. His name, she could still recall, was Vangren Ambrose. Or Van, as they'd always called him. His family had always served the Ghis family according to history, beginning with an Italian half-sister of the Ghis brothers of Inverness, Valentina, and her husband Theo.
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:02 PM   #3
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Dylan let out a frightened gasp as she turned and saw the man standing there. She hadn’t been aware that there was anyone else in the house, but when she saw him, she grinned broadly. Van had always been at Darkwood Manor and she was pleased to see that he was still around. It was strange, she though. He looked as if he hadn’t aged a day since the last time she saw him so many years ago.

“Thank you, Van, but I think that we can get the last few things into the house.” She said as she walked up and took his hand warmly. “And I am so happy to see you here. I’m sure it’s been hard since Grandpa died, but it’s nice to know that he had a friend as good as you to watch over him.”

She stood on her tip toes and kissed his cheek, smiling broadly as she heard John call for her again. “I’m up here, John!” She called back, waiting until he came to find them.

It was obvious he was surprised to see the other man, but Dylan introduced them quickly. “John, this is Van Ambrose. He was one of my grandfather’s closest friends and he keeps up the house. Van, this is my fiancée, John.”
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:26 PM   #4
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"Pleasure, sir," Van nodded toward John. Last time Dylan had seen him, his eyes were much darker and he could see. Now it was obvious he could not, but it didn't seem to bother him much. He offered out a hand in greeting. "Lord Jennings wished that I stay to care for the Manor and its next owners," he spoke to both. "Everything is in order. But when you have a free moment, Miss, your grandfather left you several special gifts around the Manor that he wished I show to you."
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:50 PM   #5
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“Of course, Van.” Dylan said with a smile, looking back at John as he stood there in complete surprise. “John, dear, why don’t you take our suitcases to our bedroom? Van can show me around and then we’ll go out for dinner to celebrate.”

She leaned in and kissed John’s cheek, giving him a loving smile before she turned to Van and took his great, warm hand. She patted it kindly as he started to lead her down the hallway, obviously not letting his blindness disturb his routine in any way.

"We would love to have you join us for dinner, Van. Maybe at that Italian place just around the corner. The one that Grandpa loved so much?" She asked him with a smile, still wondering exactly what had happened to the man who was now guiding her seamlessly along.

“Van, what happened to your eyesight? Grandpa never mentioned you’d been in an accident or lost it.” She said softly, not wanting to draw attention to his disability but wanting to know the story behind it.
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:02 PM   #6
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"I'd love to join you," he smiled gently. At her next question, he sighed, "About six months ago, a man attempted to steal a very important item that belonged to your grandfather... a special book that he left to you. I'll show it to you up in the library soon."

He led her to the kitchen first, showing her that her grandfather had left her grandmother's favorite chinaware to her, then he took her out to the stables where her grandfather's two prized horses awaited her. Then they came to the huge library, where Van gave her a necklace which held a steel key with the engraving 'A. Ghis' on the side. He came to a shelf with a ladder and climbed to the top, pulling down an old leatherbound journal from a glass case that looked to be incredibly old. It was in amazing condition, though.

He laid the book in her hands and she found it had a lock, and its surface was embossed with the same name, A. Ghis.
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:11 PM   #7
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Dylan looked over the key and the book with interest. She didn't know who this A. Ghis was but his name seemed to be popping up everywhere lately. She walked over and placed the fragile book on the library table, looking over at Van for a moment.

"Van, who is A. Ghis? His name is in the key and on the book lock and its also on the portrait upstairs in the ballroom." She asked him, curious as to who this mystery man was.
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:29 PM   #8
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"Sir Ashien Alexander Ghis, youngest brother of King Brogan Ghis of Inverness. He built the first Darkwood Manor, though it's been rebuilt several times over the past millennium or so. He was known as a Master of horses, and was knighted by the King of England at the time for training the English cavalry that, when combined with King Ghis' warriors, saved the whole of Britannia from the Norwegians."
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:46 PM   #9
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"And he had a wife named Dylandra?" She asked softy, taking the key from about her neck and fitting it into the lock of the book. "It's strange that sh has the same name as me. Grandpa must have suggested that I be named after her."
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:58 PM   #10
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"I don't think so. From what I remember, your mother was going to name you Hailey. It was a sudden idea from your father and your mother fell in love with the name. Your father had never seen the portrait of Lord Ashien before."

The book's lock clicked open and when she opened the cover, she found the name Ashien A. Ghis on the inside, and an ink drawing of a woman, colored in with watercolor paint. She looked very much like Dylan herself, only a bit older, perhaps, with longer hair. She was the woman from the portrait, as written beneath the picture: 'Dylandra, the light in Darkwood.'
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:12 AM   #11
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Dylan looked at the inside of the book for the longest time, studying the blonde woman that looked so much like her that it was eerie. Again, it was the mysterious Dylandra, the one that was in the portrait in the fourth floor ballroom. The watercolor was very pretty, done in vibrant colors and it caught the tone and healthy color of the woman’s skin.

“Was Ashien an artist? This portrait of his wife is very beautiful.” She said softly, a strange need coming over her to learn all that she could about the man that had built the original Darkwood Manor.
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:33 AM   #12
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"You're close. He was an architect and a sculptor, though, as you can probably see, he also dabbled in painting after a journey to China as a young man, where he learned from a master artist in the employ of the Lord of Jiang Dong. That's why, if I remember correctly, his style has an Asian flare. He once had an entire studio in the ballroom, now all of his work is locked safely away and preserved in what was once a studio for your great-grandfather's own painting. Your grandfather turned it into a private museum of sorts. It stands right beside the ballroom through a door that's rather tough to find unless you already know where it is."

Van laid a hand on the book, and from memory, he turned the pages past lines of Lord Ashien's writing, to the twelfth page where there was another small watercolor painting of Dylandra again, perched on a bench in a garden with a white tiger beside her. "And here, I hope it's the right page if I remember it... the tiger, Ballas, he was a gift from Lord Ashien's brother Durban after Lord Durban returned home from a journey to Mongolia and Siberia. You know the descendant of this tiger still lives, in the London zoo. By rights, it belonged to your grandfather... so now it belongs to you. There are five there right now, and according to the ownership agreement set down by the owner when the London Zoo was opened, you own the strongest male tiger. An odd thing, but Lord Jennings insisted I let that be known, should you want a pet." Her grandfather had always been odd like that.
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:50 AM   #13
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Dylan laughed softly at the mention that the tiger in the London Zoo was her own personal pet. Her grandfather had always been a bit of an eccentric and she supposed that it was apropos that he remind Van to tell her about the tiger on the off chance that she would want it. She’d never even had a house cat in her entire life. What on Earth would she do with a tiger running around?

“His work is stunning.” She said softly, looking over the detailed water color of Dylandra, her head pressed against the broad forehead of the white tiger. “I still can’t get over how much she looks like me. I mean, it’s the same blonde hair, the same dark eyes…it’s truly amazing.”

The little moment was interrupted by John who knocked on the wooden door frame, peeking his head into the library. “Sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering if you were ready for some dinner. It’s nearly 7.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean to keep you waiting, love.” She said, glancing at Van. “Won’t you join us, Van? We would love to treat you to a meal out.”
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:00 AM   #14
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But Van was suddenly distracted, "Nearly seven, you said? Hm... I'm afraid I'll have to pass this time. I have an important person to call and I can't catch him any other time. But I'll certainly make up for it tomorrow." He smiled at them and closed the book and locked it, placing it back in Dylan's hands. "Keep this very safe, Miss. It's more important to Darkwood than you might think."

With that, Van swept off down the hall. For a blind man, he seemed to be perfectly in-tune with where everything was, even dodging around a box John had left out like he could sense it was there. Once his footsteps faded, all was silent.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:03 AM   #15
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“He’s strange.” John said as he looped his arm around Dylan’s shoulders, pulling her tightly against his side.

“He’s a good man, John. Van has always been here and probably always will be.” She said with a long sigh, the book in her hands suddenly weighing on her mind as she looked down at the aged cover. “You ready for some dinner? There’s a lovely Italian place just around the corner.”

“Of course.” John said, pressing a kiss against her forehead before he led her out of the manor house, leaving the book safely tucked away with the rest of her art supplies.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:31 AM   #16
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That night when they returned, the lights at the front door were lit, waiting for them and as it had begun to rain, Van was awaiting them in the driveway with an umbrella open above his head and a second hanging from his arm. He opened Dylan's door for her with a smile, bringing her over to John's side so they could share the second umbrella.

Inside, the manor was warm and welcoming as it'd been in her grandfather's days, the sitting room fireplace lit up nicely. Van always made sure the place was incredibly welcoming as Lord Jennings had been a friendly man. "Miss Dylan, before you go to bed tonight, there's something else I'd like to show you," Van told her as they entered. "I have a project to finish, but just come find me in the west wing when you're ready."
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:39 AM   #17
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The rain had been sudden and unexpected, but she supposed that it always was in London. As John pulled up in front of the manor after dinner, she was surprised to see Van standing outside of her door with an umbrella over his head and a second at the ready for John’s use. Once they were safely inside the warm house, she pulled off her coat and hung it on a peg, listening to Van talk about something else he wanted her to see.

“Of course, Van.” She said, turning towards John for a moment. “I’ll just be a few moments, love. Why don’t you go ahead and get the bed ready.”

She kissed her fiancée with a passion that surprised even her. Perhaps it was the romantic dinner or maybe it was all the excitement from being back at Darkwood Manor, but she was feeling rather frisky that evening. She smiled secretly at John, stealing one last kiss before she pulled away to follow behind Van.

“What is your project?” She asked him as they made their way to the West Wing.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:52 AM   #18
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"I've been cleaning some of Lord Ashien's old works, they've gathered quite a lot of dust and whatnot and need careful attention." They passed the door to the ballroom, and soon, Van lifted his hand to the wall, letting his fingers trail over the wooden wall moulding until he suddenly paused. He pushed a piece of the paneling, and it opened like a door into a large domed room with massive viewing windows that let in the moonlight. A large easel was leaning in the corner and there were several tables covered with paint-stained canvas tablecloths, obviously for art supplies to be set upon. There were machines for framing and stretching canvas, a tool rack, a sink and cabinet of supplies for cleaning brushes and tools, and behind a large glass sliding door was another room, the small museum Van had spoken of.

"Even though the manor's been rebuilt many times, this room has never been torn down. These are the original flagstone floors, the same walls, there are even still paint stains on the floor from Lord Ashien himself. The easel there is based on one he used and your great-grandfather used it often. I know you're a painter, so I thought I wouldn't waste too much time showing you where you might like to make your workspace."
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:10 AM   #19
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“It’s a lovely space.” She said, looking around the room with the large windows. It was even more suited for her purposes then the old greenhouse that she was originally going to use. “I think I’ll like painting in here.”

She turned in a slow circle around the room, her eyes falling on the different features. She would have never guessed that there had been other artists in her family. Her grandfather had been eccentric, but he had never picked up a brush in his life. He was a collector of fine things, including many of the pieces of art that lines the halls of Darkwood Manor.

Dylan’s eye caught an unfinished canvas hanging on the wall. It was another of Dylandra, her body not finished, but her face down in aching detail. Dark eyes gazed down at the floor, her hair swept back from her face in an intricate style. She wondered why someone had put so much work into the facial details and never come back for the rest.

“It’s a shame this one isn’t complete. It would make a lovely companion to the others in the ballroom.” She commented as Van finished describing the features of the room.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:20 AM   #20
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"Ah, there's a mystery behind that painting..." Van knew exactly which she spoke of. "Some say he was painting it as a very old man, long after Lady Dylandra had passed away. But he died of heartache after he finished painting her face. Others say he had been painting it in his fifties with Lady Dylandra posing for him, but then she died mysteriously, and he never looked at the painting again because her face haunted him with guilt. After that, he covered up or stored away all her pictures til he died. The problem is, though... no one really knows how old either of them were when they died. There is no record of their lives past the births of their children, no cause of death... No one even knows where they're buried. It's so odd, especially considering there are perfect records of their descendants from then on."
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:24 AM   #21
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“That’s so sad.” Dylan said, staring at the woman’s face as she tried to come up with some explanation for the stories. “How many children did they have? I can only imagine how heartbroken they must have been that their father never finished such a beautiful dedication to their mother.”

Staring at the beautiful work made her own fingers itch. She wanted to paint right then and there but she always stopped herself short from working into the night. John hated to have her gone from the bed for so long and she had long ago sacrificed her creativity for the man that she loved.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:30 AM   #22
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"According to the records, they had two. But we're not exactly sure, they may have had two others but if they did, either they wished themselves not to be known or they died. I know Lord Ashien had a child of his own, an adopted son called Burke who became the next Lord of Darkwood whilst the others married and left."

Van walked over to the sliding glass doors and opened them with a key. "Come, look in here. There is one portrait of Lord Ashien himself that I think you'll enjoy. It's the only currently clean painting left that was made by Lady Dylandra. There are many others, but I haven't finished with them yet."
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:38 AM   #23
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Dylan followed behind dutifully, her eyes still drawn to the portrait of Dylandra as they stepped into the gallery. When she turned her gaze forward, she was stopped in her tracks. Before her was a full length portrait of a very imposing, if not artistic, looking man. His dark hair was nearly inky black and his gaze was piercing, but it seemed that the artist had taken great care in giving him an air of humanity.

“Van, this can’t possibly be.” She said, taking a closer look at the canvas and the simple signature of a woman who had died centuries ago. “The way she signed the canvas is just like the way I do it.”

She crouched down to stare at the canvas even closer, her eyes drawn to the large D that had a vine twisted around it in an intricate pattern. It was her D. It was the same one that was on all the paintings that she had ever made in her entire life.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:46 AM   #24
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"... All of her work is signed this way if I remember correctly..." Van didn't seem incredibly bothered by it, though. "You've seen her work before, when you were little. Perhaps it influenced you and you forgot, my dear." It seemed perfectly logical, a child unknowingly emulating something she'd seen.

"She didn't leave behind nearly as much as Lord Ashien, but their work today is worth millions of pounds. The one piece that was sold to keep Darkwood out of debt a hundred years ago is now owned by the Queen."
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:51 AM   #25
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Dylan couldn’t say for certain that Van’s explanation was correct, but she supposed it made sense. With one last glance at the portrait of Ashien Ghis, she took a step away and stood there with her hands on her hips to regard the man that had started Darkwood Manor. She supposed that she owed him a debt of gratitude and silently she thanked him for the beautiful legacy that he had left for her family.

“Well, we can get to work on the collection tomorrow, Van. Tonight, though, I think it’s time for relaxing. It’s been a long day.” She kissed his cheek as she passed him, gripping his arm lightly. “John and I will sleep in tomorrow morning but perhaps in the afternoon I can help you with some of these canvases.”

Another kiss pressed to his cheek and soon she was exiting the space, bidding him goodnight over her shoulder.
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