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Secrets of Ravenhill

by Paracosm

The driveway that twisted and wound a path to Raven Hill Manor had not been disturbed for months. A

silver Ford Explorer broke the streak, kicking upred dust as it pulled to a stop in front of the house. The

car contained three people, a mother and her son and daughter. They had reached their destination,

though no one would ever expect two children as unique as Dean and Millie Fletcher to find themselves in

a house as unique as Raven Hill, least of all Deanand Millie Fletcher. The odds were stacked against

such an occurrence.

The house towered five stories high. Light glinted of beautiful stained glass windows, each one an

elagent depictions of the cross. The house was in theshape of a three leaf clover, except with square

leaves. It was composed of large, smooth stones. Each stone was varying shades of gray to off-white.

A massive oak tree cast shadows in the yard as it swayed in the warm summer breeze. Beautiful

magnolia trees grew in rows between the forest and themanor. Jasmine snaked its way up the walls of

the house. A black wrought iron fence surrounded the abode.

"This is it, beautiful huh?" Miranda Fletcher said to her two children. Millie gasped in awe at the

beautiful manor. She found the shimmering stained glasswindows especially astonishing. Dean was

astonished as well, but as a testament to his distaste over spending the enitire summer in the middle of

nowhere,he wrinkled his nose and stared back at the book he was reading. He sighed as shifted in his

seat, stretching his sore limbs.

Dean shut the detective novel, "Sure, if you're into that kind of thing. Does it have electricity? It looks

old as dirt." Dean's hand dropped to the iPod in hispocket, he wouldn't last the summer without his


"Of course it does, as long as the bills have been paid. Uncle Oswald could've lived in the 1800s, he

may not even be using the power." Miranda steppedout of the car, Dean and Millie followed suit. The

humid Alabama air wasn't something he was used to. He rolled up his sleeves and headed for the


Something in one of the windows caught Dean's eye, a pale skinned man with dark, curly hair gazed

out at him. Dean stopped in his tracks, was this hisUncle Oswald he'd heard so much about? He looked

like a mirror image of Dean in the future, down to his hazel eyes, his curly locks, and even a similarlong,


"Wait Dean, I want to talk to you before you head in." Miranda beckoned her son closer as she opened

the back compartment of the Explorer. Dean ranback, his head dropped low. Did his mother already

foresee trouble in the near future? Dean leaned against the back of the Explorer.


"Uncle Oswald is agoraphobic. He probably won't go outside for anything, you'd probably have to

knock him out and drag him out of the house if it caughtfire. Don't you dare make fun of him. He doesn't

talk much, but he's a good man. Treat him with respect." Miranda's tone was strict, and Dean knew better

than to go against her will, tempting as it was. "Also, take care of Millie. I don't want either of you playing

in the woods alone." Miranda's eyes were drawntowards the tall pine trees and sturdy oaks off in the

distance. As if on cue, a flock of doves scattered into the horizon.

"Don't worry Mom, we'll be okay."

"I'm sorry, I know you'd rather spend the summer with your friends.. Just try to have fun, the mansion is so

big that I doubt you'll see it all by the end of thesummer. "Dean spotted the guilt on his mother's face in a

flash. A momentary sniff, and her lips turned downwards. Dean had always had a knack for reading


"Whatever you and dad decide, I'll still love you both."

"Let's not talk about this in front of Millie, the divorce has been hard enough on her," Miranda stroked

her son's curly hair, a sad smile graced her lips.Dean felt his eyelids grow warm and wet. He couldn't cry

in front of Millie, he'd never hear the end of it. That girl was vicious for a seven year old.

Dean helped his mother carry a summer's worth of luggage to the front of the old manor. The front

porch was made of a smooth white stone that clackedunder Dean's feet. White columns stretched to the roof. Double oak doors stood at least nine feet tall,their handles were a brass raven's head.

Go ahead and knock, Millie." Miranda said. Millie beat her tiny fist against the door. The three heard

the sound of metal sliding against the thick woodendoor, clicks echoed on the other side of the threshold.

The clicking and sliding went on for quite a while, until eventually a man’s voice sounded through thewood.

"Come in," his voice was little more than a whisper, Dean almost didn't hear him. His mother gave him

another one of her looks, reminding him not to tease. Her glare could killweeds. Dean grabbed the large

brass handle and twisted it open. His uncle stood on the other side, beckoning him into the house.

"Come in, quick, quick."

The main hall stretched out behind Dean's uncle. Snow-white tiles spread wall to wall. He could see an

opening at the end of the hallway. An octagonal roomspread out before him. If Dean had to guess, it was

a ballroom. A staircase spiraled around the spacious room, and upwards towards the top floors of the


"I'm Oswald Fletcher, you must be Millie and Dean. I've heard so much about you from your mother's

letters! I was at your birth, Dean, and Millie, it's niceto finally meet you." the man said, he stopped

wringing his hands long enough to shake Dean hand and to give Millie a hug. He turned to Miranda,

smilingas he embraced her tightly, then pulled away from the embrace, kissing Miranda on the cheeks.

Dean noticed that Oswald was wearing a wedding band.Why hadn't his Mom mentioned Oswald's wife? she passed away?

Dean looked on either side of the hallway, noticing many paintings lined the walls. Men and women

stood together, looking solemn. A few black and white photos hung beside them, but there were very few

color photos. Even more oddly, there weren't any photos of his mother's family, or Oswald and hiswife.

Dean's attention was drawn to a new face, he must have snuck up from one of the many passages that

branched out from the main hall. The tall, broadshouldered man wore a black tuxedo and white gloves.

He was square jawed, which made him look like he was irritated.. He nodded to the guests and grabbed

theirluggage without a word. He immediately marched off down the main hallway,

"That's Avery Crofton. He is one of many who help maintain the manor. I guess you three are tired and

hungry, We can catch up over Sunday dinner." Hestarted walking down the main hall, and Dean took it

as cue to follow him. Oswald's shiny black shoes clacked as he walked down the hall, always wringing

his hands, his eye darting towards each doorway they passed.

They reached the octagon room. Dean was amazed now, instead of a roof, there was a stained glass

dome. Red, green, blue, and white light filtered in from the beautiful kaleidoscope pattern. Dean and Millie

both craned their necks to stare at the ceiling. Miranda's jaw dropped as well. She hadn't been in the

house in at least five years. Oswald simply kept walking, he was used to the splendorous display.

"This house was amazing. I was lucky to grow up here. Can you remember how much fun we had here

Oswald?" Miranda asked, leaning into him, hugging his shoulders. Oswald smiled and nodded as he

stumbled to the side, and then started up the spiral staircase. They followed him down long, empty

passages, footsteps echoing into the seemingly infinite expanses.

Dean's first impression from Oswald was simple. He seemed a bit bashful, definitely nervous, but very

kind. He was genuinely pleased to see his nieceand nephew. It was such a shame that he was confined

to the house. Dean wondered how he got groceries, or new clothes, but he remembered Avery and

assumed that he had a lot do with it.

Finally, after passing through innumerable passages, they had reached the dining room. A long table

was set for the four of them. It stretched from oneend of the room to the other. The room could easily

seat fifty people. A fireplace sat empty behind the tall backed chair at the end of the table. Two long

benches straddled each side of the table. A vase full of pale pink magnolias and lily of the valleys made a

nice center piece.

Oswald swept his arm like a magician. "Don't be so dramatic," Miranda said, giving Oswald a teasing

punch on the shoulder. He rubbed his arm, feigningagony. Apparently Oswald had a sense of humor. He

seemed like such a strange man to Dean and Millie, one minute he would barely speak, the next he

was joking with Miranda.

Oswald took a seat at the end of the table, Miranda sat next to him, and Millie next to her. Dean took a

seat across from his mother and next to Oswald.He noticed the forks, spoons, and knives were arranged

neatly in front of him. Dean vaguely remembered his mother teaching him about which forks andspoons

went first, but that was years ago. He could see that this was going to be a polar opposite to dinner at his

family's apartment in Atlanta. Usually youjust ate your food from the microwave tray, but if you were

feeling fancy, a Dixie cup and paper plates would do.

Oswald bowed his head, and before Dean had realized what was going on, he began to pray. "Dear

Lord, thank you for the meal we are about to recieve.May it nourish our bodies and remind us how

blessed we truly are. Thank You for blessing us with one another, and protect us over the coming

summer. InJesus' name, Amen." The group said Amen in unison.

Dean heard a clanking sound, and soon a woman wearing a black skirt and white apron pushed a cart

into the room. The scent of herbs and spiceswafted about the room. Dean's stomach grumbled as the

lady placed a platter on the table. She unveiled a golden brown roast chicken. More food waspulled from

the cart; a bowl of salad, mashed potatoes, a boat of gravy, green beans, and finally, corn on the cob with

butter alongside it.

"Thank you Rosa," Oswald said. He stood, grabbing a knife and carving slices of chicken breast for

each of them. He made sure that he and Dean gotpieces with crispy, buttery skin. He and Rosa spooned

out helpings of the sides. A smile lit across Oswald's face. Dean decided he liked the guy.

"Be sure to save room for desert. We'll be having apple cobbler and homemade ice cream." Deandefinitely like the guy.

Before Oswald started at his meal, he asked Dean and Millie a question. "I know what you two must be

thinking. A summer with some dusty old manwon't be any fun. I promise I'll have Avery take you two out

into the woods, and I'll show you around the library. I'll keep you busy, I swear."

When Dean heard about the woods, a question instantly formed in his mind. He wanted to hunt. It

wasn't that he liked shooting innocent deer, but he didlove the woods. They were so peaceful, plus he

could do practically whatever he wanted and he wouldn't get into trouble.

"Can we hunt with Avery?"

Without warning, Oswald started choking on a mouthful of chicken. Miranda looked up from her meal,

panic on her face. She started pounding onOswald's back, his face grew red, and finally he cleared his



Miranda flashed Dean another one of her looks. He looked back to his plate and started eating. Why

had the suggestion solicited such a response? Wasit a sensitive topic? It got Dean to thinking about

Oswald's wedding band, and the fact that there were no photos of his mother's family.

Before too long, Rosa returned with a steaming pie balanced on her left hand, the other hand was

carrying a tin pail of vanilla ice cream. The mood aroundthe table immediately lightened up. Each of themtook a large slice with a scoop of ice cream melting on top. The scent of cinnamon and brownsugar filled the room.

Dean ate his pie in silence, listening to his mother and Oswald catch up. He noticed his mother left his

dad completely out of the picture. Oswald didn'thave much to say, he stayed busy running the cigar

company that had brought Dean's family all of its wealth. He talked about the library he was gathering.

He had classic books from all over the world, and had greatly expanded upon the library he had inherited.

"I guess you three should get some rest. It's getting dark out." Oswald said. Dean looked out the tall,

narrow window. The sun was setting against thehorizon; evening light flitted in through the window.

Dean checked his watch, it was only eight. He had left his book back in the car, but he decided he just

wanted to sleep tonight. He’d worry about everything else in the morning.

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Points: 234
Reviews: 1

Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:37 am
PinkLoki says...

This story felt so real! It's like being in there with the characters in the manor!

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1220 Reviews

Points: 72525
Reviews: 1220

Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:56 am
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Kale wrote a review...

Hello there Shino,

I bet you thought you'd never get a review on this. Well, I'm here to prove you wrong. *insert mad/diabolical/insane laughter/giggles/cackling/whatever here* For too long have works like yours languished unreviewed, and so my comrades and I of the Order of the Knights of the Green Room (of which I also believe you are part?) are here to bring an end to such an ignomiously neglected state of reviewage.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the reviewing!


First things first: your formatting is a mess. All the lines got cut up and stuck together in all sorts of weird ways, and you really need to fix that because right now, this is pretty unreadable as it is. The only saving grace right now is that no words were spliced. That would've been even more horrible.

So yes. Fix the formatting on this, like stat, because reading this is so not happening while it's in its current state of line and word mashups.

They had reached their destination, though no one would ever expect two children as unique as Dean and Millie Fletcher to find themselves in a house as unique as Raven Hill, least of all Dean and Millie Fletcher.

This sentence feels a bit redundant. It's also quite telly with how it informs us that Dean and Millie are unique, but never shows it. It sends the cynical reader in me to sound the alarm bells for informed traits, and informed traits are not good things to have in your writing. You know how if you tell someone not to do something, they more often than not try to do it anyways? Something similar happens when a writer informs us of a character's character traits; we readers then go off and start trying to find cases where the character acts in ways that contradict or do not otherwise support their informed traits.

So, long story short, informed traits are bad. Kill them all with the Red Pen of Editing wherever and whenever possible.

You also have a few typos in this, which combined with the crazy formatting shenanigans, deterred me from reading this all the way through. The main deterrent is the formatting though, and you really, really need to fix that.

Shino says...

The formatting is awful! I posted it in the early stages of Apollo and somehow managed to forget about it/got lazy for some reason/didn't know how to edit/some other bad excuse. This will be fixed.

Anyway, thanks for the review Kyll!

Shino says...

Okay, I just went through and edited the formatting like crazy, and it's still altering the formatting when I post it. I shall post this in the 'bugs' area.

Be careful or be roadkill.
— Calvin