No Rest for the Damned - Chapter 1 - awkwardrainbow (2024)

Chapter Text

Mayfair, London, 1815.

The slamming of booted feet echoes loudly up the spiral staircase of the abandoned tower she had been frequenting for the last several months, cloak hastily thrown on that it haphazardly twisted in the wind of her own hurried movements, not doing a thing to conceal the long braided blonde hair as the deep red hood of it is meant too. Somewhere further in the distance, she can hear the slapping of hooves on unpaved roads, the clanging of metal from armor.

She has little time, and no more chances left.

She’s panting by the time she swings the rotting wood of the door wide open, weak bark harshly banging against the far sturdier stone and splintering it further apart. The sudden movement made the other girl that had been waiting for her jump, causing her to turn from the window she had been gazing out anxiously. “Cressida! You are late!” She rushes out breathlessly, like she had been the one to run up several flights of spiraled stairs, with a panic entering her tone that’s deeply painful to hear, a panic that Cressida won’t be the one to soothe this time as she has so many times in the past.

She swallows, examining the unattended brown of her hair as it tumbles past her shoulders and the bright worried blue of her eyes as they examine her from a brief distance. Her letter had been urgent and quick, no sign of the care and comfort that Cressida had normally been putting in their correspondence. She could see the damage of that now. “We do not have time, you brought the things I told you too?” Eloise wearing a long yellow traveling gown, her brother’s hand-me-down boots and black riding gloves. She had clearly dressed as quickly as she could, maybe even packed with the same amount of haste.

She swallows and Cressida watches the action, feeling the tell-tell signs of her own, brand new hunger already invading her senses, following the rhythm of a fast paced heartbeat and the stutter of her breath. A monster, that’s what they’re turning her into, a monster so that anything she might love will never be safe from her ever again. “Yes, but, your letter-”

“Applied as much haste as needed, so you know I cannot explain without us moving.” Despite herself, Cressida takes the barest of moments, the splitting of seconds to examine that the girl in front of her is unharmed. The only reflection of her panic drawn from a hastily written ominous letter. She looks scared but perhaps not for herself, after all, she had once insisted her own family would shelter them if needed.

It was too late for such promises now.

“I told no one, like you said.” Locks of brown hair swish with the abrupt movements of her spin to grab at the large green bag overstuffed with items.

“Eloise.” Her heart was still thrumming loudly in Cressida’s ears, not yet fully the monster she is about to be, it was too hard to tune it out in order to listen for the very real signs of danger heading their way.

“I was worried you were not coming, that you had changed your mind perhaps, but-”

“Elosie!” The girl stops to meet her eyes, examining what she can see in the darkness. Cressida’s eyes are far keener, the horribleness of her new reality is allowing for it. This falters Eloise and she can tell, she can tell that she knows by the steady thump of her heart skipping over itself.

There must be a change in her eyes. “What have they done to you.” She says with a tragedy to her tone that echoes sharply in Cressida’s own chest.

“No time now, please.” She offers her bare hand and Eloise doesn’t hesitate to take it. “We must go.” She feels her own emotions boiling over, the panic, the fear, the sorrow, and squeezes down too tightly on the soft hand in her own, feeling it match her grasp.

“It was the witches?” She asks, even as Cressida begins to drag her back down the endless flight of spiraling stairs she had only just climbed. She should be more winded than she is, Eloise is already panting with her exertion, but her newly afforded curse prevents her from feeling the same level of fatigue, even though she has not fully transitioned into such a curse yet.

“We must get you as far away from here as possible.” Cressida huffs when they finally reach the end of the stairs, holding even tighter to the hand in her own and wasting no time at swinging the door open. The distant clanging of metal on horseback is closer now, just under the hill.

“Me? And what of you?” Eloise says stubbornly. Cressida ignores this, knowing already she is not going to like the answer and so she tugs quickly, pulling Eloise somewhat against her will through tall grass and weeds that cling to the material of their boots. Eloise stumbling as she’s apt to do when being led with force.

“Cressida!” She can hear him shout in the distance, she wonders if it’s close enough for Eloise to hear too, or if it’s just the sharpness of her hearing that makes him sound as if he’s about to be on top of her.

One look at Eloise over her shoulder and she can tell that he is closer than she’d like.

Since he is fully transitioned himself, they don’t have anymore time. “Stop!” Eloise utters, tugging at her hand and digging her heels into the ground. The abrupt force Cressida could probably easily dislodge once she’s not weak from pre-transition, but she is only half the monster she’s about to become right now, and Eloise’s efforts are efficient enough. “What of you!?” She questions indigently even though she already knows the answer.

They don’t have time for this. “Please, Eloise!” She feels her own panic rise up at the threatening whistle of her own father, echoing distantly between them.

Eloise shakes her head, large expressive blue eyes narrowing with her stubbornness, a stubbornness that normally endears Cressida to her on most occasions, but on this one, it just simply pains her. “I’m not moving until you answer me!”

“I am already damned!” She declares, too loudly, her father is prone to hear them. But she tugs at the hand she’s still holding with a deep desperation for understanding, even if she herself can’t explain it. Her eyes are wide and blue and so scared. She touches her cheek and watches her shiver to the coldness of it. “It is too late.” She says with so much sorrow that it quietly shatters all the surrounding space between them.

Blue eyes fill with tears then, “No.” maybe the same ones she had been staving off. “No, we can fix you, you cannot give up. I shan’t go without you!” That stubbornness comes back full force, but she can tell that Eloise already knows this is a losing battle, the tears streaming down her face, the echoing break of her heart ringing in Cressida’s ears.

“You will!” She presses forward to press her forehead against Eloise’s, taking as much comfort from her as she can as well as giving whatever of it she has left. “You will or you will die too and not in this way.” She gestures at herself. “You will go.” She gestures to the nearby woods, her father is calling for her again, angrier than before. “You won’t stop until you find the boat, if you get lost refer to my letter.”

Eloise is shaking her head, tears streaming down her face and Cressida uses her cool touch to brush them away again, feeling the softness of them burn her cool skin. “I don’t want to… not without you, you promised.” Eloise says brokenly, her own gloved fingers coming up to press against the hand still on her cheek.

The hand still holding Eloise’s other’s hand she tugged and pressed it against her chest, “Feel.” The stillness of her heart makes the soft blue eyes widen, wet with her understanding. “It is too late, my love. I will not let them have you too.” She shakes her own head, tendrils of blonde hair pushing into her vision as the soft wind picks up around them.

Eloise sniffles, hand curling against her still chest. “Cressida, please.”

“You are to go, far away and never to return here, not for anything.” Her ears twitch as she turns her head to the hill, horses cresting over it. “We are out of time darling.”

“I’ll find you. I will.” Eloise whispers. “I’ll find you again, that’s what the witches said. He cannot keep us apart forever.” That stubbornness is back, and this time it does endear Cressida as it always has before.

She shakes her head at her anyway. “You shan’t risk a second of this life on me, do you understand. Now go!” She shoved Eloise forward but before Eloise could be propelled into the woods she had whirled back around and grabbed at Cressida’s cloak, pulling her mouth harshly against her own.

“I love you. I will find you again.” She promises with salt staining Cressida’s lips.

Painfully, she shoves her back once again, parting their lips for the last time. “Go, I will buy you time.” She tugs the cloak from her body, the one she had bewitched and wraps it around Eloise’s body. “Keep it on until you are across oceans.” She brushes soft brown hair out from under the cloak and feels her own non-beating heart squeezes tightly in pain at the whimper that escapes her.

Eloise nodded, still crying and staring at her face as if she meant to draw it into every corner of her mind, Cressida knew she didn’t need to do the same to never forget hers in return. She would dream of it every night, the haunting echoes of her human life never to leave her while she’s forced into whatever horrid reality her father had promised her.

“Cressida!” She winced at the pained noise of his anger and watched Eloise disappear into trees. She could no longer see her anymore once she had descended the hood of the cloak and she felt more relief at that than she had the right too.

“You think we will not find her.” She jumped, releasing a pained noise at the sudden grip around her upper arm. “You think you clever girl, to use the last of your petty magic. Amateur.” He threw her to the ground and then gestured at the several guards he had brought with him, all descending from their horses far too gracefully, probably dead and transitioned too. “Retrieve the wretched Bridgerton, I shall laugh in Edmund’s face when we deliver her head.”

Cressida isn’t sure that God will listen to her now, she isn’t sure that her soul can ever be redeemed enough to reach him, but in this moment, as she’s pulling herself back up from the ground, she prays that he takes mercy and gives Eloise safe passage, that he does anything to keep her safe. “You shan’t find her.” She dares speak and her insolence earns her a backhand to her cheek which is strong enough to send her back to the ground.

Her father spits in her direction, like she’s a disloyal dog. “Regardless, you will never see her again.” He shakes with his fury, hands curling into fists as Cressida’s cheek throbs with where he had slapped her.

She shakes her head, daring to sit up from where he had sent her into the dirt. “You cannot control it. The witches said so.” She reminds him and watches as the mention of past prophecies further enrage him.

“The witches no nothing stupid girl!” He gets down on her level where she is still holding the throbbing of her face. “You have always thought you were cleverer than you are, that is my fault for believing that a naive girl could ever truly be heir.” His breath was tinged with the smell of metal, his touch harsh as it wound into her braid to tug her close to him so that she might not miss a single ounce of his malice. “You shall rot away in the tomb I made for you, starving and alone where your disgusting perversions and the devil that lives inside of you will receive no nourishment.” He drags her up by her hair and she tries to valiantly not cry out at the harsh pain of it but is unsuccessful. “For eternity your evil shall be locked behind the very same wretched magic you have claimed to love, I hope you have made your peace with that, you foolish child.”

“You’ll never touch her.” She attempts weakly as he shoves her into the hard wood of a prisoner’s carriage. She spits a bit of blood as she’s settled on the floor of the carriage, the weakness from a half-transition taking over most of her cognitive abilities at this point. She’s surprised she was even capable of bleeding still in her weak, not-fully transitioned state. “She’ll carry on just as all the Bridgerton’s will while your name rots just like me.” His rage doesn’t exactly scare her anymore, it’s something she has dealt with all of her life.

Now she has no life, taken from her so abruptly and forcibly that fear feels like an unnecessary emotion. “As long as you are rotting, then I shall be happy enough.” He says with clinched teeth. This isn’t true, Lord Cowper’s desire for power is one unmatched by any other highborn house in Mayfair.

She says nothing more, however. Eloise is gone, soon to be safe and this is her fate. One that can’t be so bad as long as Eloise has the chance to survive it and with the endless allies that exist for her family, she is to survive it. She will live as the witches predicted and Lord Cowper’s legacy will die with them, even if they are to never die, not truly.

Eloise is alive.

The thought is comfort enough.

Mayfair, London, 1994.

“There’s no way, I’m not going in there, I should have listened to Penelope and stayed home with her, she’s pregnant you know, she-”

“Relax, was it not you who asked me for help in finally breaking some rules? I even brought your emotional support Michaela.” Eloise mutters, tone slightly hushed as she jiggles cold chains along the tall metal gate, peaking through the space of the black bars. She can’t actually see the estate from here, the road behind this gate goes on for another mile, but she attempts a look as if she might see something interesting.

You don’t grow up in Mayfair without the endless campfire stories of The Cowper Mausoleum making their way to you. Three times in her youth she had attempted to sneak onto this estate, admittedly the first time she was seven and actually lost while trick or treating so she had thought it was just a fancy house behind the gate which meant big chocolate bars.

“And here I thought you enjoyed my company.” Michaela teases back light-heartedly in return to her confession at her motives for inviting her. Truthfully, they had done most of the planning for this night together, she wasn’t coming here alone even if Francesca chickened out.

Francesca, however, did not ease from her anxiety spiral even for a second. “I thought we’d like go to a bar after you did whatever troublemaker stuff you do and got us some fake IDs, not try to get us murdered in a haunted castle!” The dark hazel of her eyes widening with fear even as she utters it. Francesca had never been one who handled horror stories well, even if she knew they were just stories.

She had been trying to break it of herself all year as she was about to go off to Julliard and “I’m not five years old, I should be able to watch a movie that’s not even real and sleep just fine at night.” It was a lot easier to say such things than actually put them into practice though.

Eloise gave her panicked sister an affectionate eyeroll as she examined for any weaknesses in the gate that might allow them to slip the bikes they had come here on through. “One, it’s hardly a castle, and two ghosts aren’t real.” Francesca had admittedly found the residence that haunted over Mayfair utterly terrifying their entire childhood, while Eloise had just found the place fascinating for the most part.

“Yes, they are! And you’re going to piss them off and take something and then we’re going to get gutted one by one, all of us, all eight of us and then our friends and then mother and-”

“Frannie, please.” Eloise grabs her sister’s arm to tug her to a stop from where she had started to pace as she spiraled. Michaela, for all of her emotional support praise, was not being very helpful. Instead, she was looking at the two of them with utter playful amusem*nt, leaning against the cold clinging metal of the gate.

Eloise levied a glare at her that did nothing to erase her entertained smirk. “I told you not to let her watch any horror movies anywhere close to us doing this!” She accuses because she had prepared for Francesca’s objections and had figured they’d be easier to curb if she hadn’t already been straining her normally sheltered brain by consuming slasher flicks.

Michaela pulled herself off the cold metal, a look of guilt coming across her face. “But she begged me!” She argued back, trying to defend herself even though they both knew it was weak.

“Self-control Michaela!”

“She’s John’s girlfriend, yell at him for it!”

“I’m going home.” Francesca mumbles, interrupting them and tugging her arm free from her sister’s grip, ready to sprint to freedom. Michaela moves quick and grabs her by the waist, tugging her back into her body, tightening her hold when she tries to squirm out of it.

Michaela’s already close to her ear, as if trying to soothe a feral cat. “Relax darling we’re just going to look around, a couple of minutes and then we’ll go, I won’t let any ghosts get you.” Francesca huffs against her stubbornly but as per usual with the Michaela effect, and the number one reason that Eloise enlisted her in this plan in the first place, Francesca is already given into her, no longer trying to squirm out of her hold and relaxing into her body.

“You don’t know how to fight ghosts.” She mutters petulantly but Eloise is already exchanging a triumphant look with Michaela before the youngest of the trio is released from her arms, no longer a flight risk. “Isn’t this trespassing?” Francesca attempts a slight protest again as Eloise skirts further down the fencing.

“It most definitely is.” Michaela responds pulling Francesca’s bike up from the ground and rolling it to her before she picks up her own. “Do you see an entrance? The one by the cove they fixed.”

“Ben said something about how the chains just fall off if you can unlatch them from…” Eloise climbs up onto the fencing, the cold metal biting into her hands. “Up here, lift me, I can pull it.” Michaela sprints into action then, heaving as she helps her friend up to latch onto the silvery chain. It glinted as if it were brand new and vibrated against her fingertips like it held some sort of magic.

She was sure the magic was electricity and wanted to accomplish this quickly before it decided to work properly and shock the living crap out of her. She tugs it from the top and grumbles as it stubbornly holds. “There’s no way this is going to work.” Michaela mutters through grit teeth, struggling to support her balance and keep her friend up while her shoe tracks dirt and bites into her skin.

“He said,” Eloise huffs and tugs again. “It’s not even real, that you just have to tug from the top and-” She lets out a grunt of surprise when the chain loosens and causes her to lose her own balance, which also causes Michaela to lose balance and they both fall into a heap on the ground. Eloise smacks her elbow hard enough for the hot trickle of blood to pool out of her arm, a cry of pain escaping her.

“You idiots!” Francesca snaps, sounding a lot like their mother, and is crouching beside Michaela first who was hardly disheveled and probably didn’t even have a bruise. “I told you this is stupid and now look at you.” She’s checking over Michaela urgently with her hands, on her face, her arms. Eloise watches this display as she pulls herself up and winces when she takes a look at her own injury.

“I’m fine, princess, your sister.” Michaela gestures toward Eloise, already having noticed the blood as she’s pulling her face from Francesca’s gentle, urgent hands.

“Eloise, I swear to god,” Francesca now satisfied that Michaela is fine, takes notice of her bleeding as well. “All the more reason to get out of here.” She bites, looking a bit more peeved than she had before the fall.

“No way! It doesn’t even hurt.” Which is a lie, she thinks there might be bark in her arm but doesn’t want to struggle to check it out while Francesca is casting a disbelieving eye on her as if she’s lost her mind.

“This is a bad omen and-”

“Guys!” Michaela’s tone urges on excitement, distracting the sisters from each other as she climbs to her feet, pointing at the metal gate. The metal gate that is now wide open, the chain laying on the ground almost neatly, like someone had placed it down, below the threshold.

“Hell yeah!” Eloise says, not even hesitating as she pulls herself up. If there is also a twinge in her ankle and a subsequent one in her wrist, so be it.

“No way, forget this Eloise you’re bleeding everywhere.” Francesca attempts yet again to delay them. The wide panic in hazel eyes doesn’t give her as much pause as it should, the urge to get past that fencing feeling stronger by the second.

“It’s just a little bit.” She assures her as she pulls the bark from her arm which she has to bite down on her lip to keep from yelping about, it also causes more blood which seems to make Francesca’s eyes widen further, paling her face.

“Come here,” Michaela says with excitement, tugging on Francesca’s hand to keep her from Eloise’s wounds. “You can be daring, that’s what you told me last week at the Featherington party, remember? Let’s be daring together, one last time before the end of summer and then we’re apart for months while you’re at that fancy school in America and you’ve only got boring John to keep you company.” Eloise smirks triumphantly at her friend and winces as she’s pulling her own bike from the ground.

Francesca huffs because when Michaela asks her for something she is often unable to resist her. It’s not even a battle actually, just further reason that Eloise insisted Michaela join them. “Fine but if Eloise seems in pain we’re leaving.”

“I’m not in pain!” Eloise lies. “Let’s go!” She can’t tamp down on her own excitement, even the increasing throbbing in her ankle that she’s forcing herself not to limp on does nothing to stop the twist in her stomach.

The furthest she had ever made it onto the locked-up Cowper residence was about halfway up the road, where she could finally glimpse the dark looking house through several trees. She had been chased off then by a gunshot, not to her, but from some hunters who had also trespassed on the grounds and being fifteen, a girl, and all alone she hadn’t quite had the bravery to risk running into strange men with guns.

Then she had tried again at eighteen, much like Francesca, she was about to be off to Oxford and wanted to fill up her sense of adventure before her adult life started. She hadn’t been able to make it past the gate that day though, the place by the cove had been boarded up and the chain was set anew and at the time she hadn’t known you could just simply pull it off.

So instead, she had sat at the base, somewhat venting to herself and somehow talking to the gate about her life and how she feared the change of it when she had seen what really made her want to come back in the first place…

And that was possibly a ghost, but Francesca didn’t need to know that.

“You’re limping.” Francesca observes, tone still petulant but seemingly calmed by the way that Michaela keeps ahold of her hand while she wheels her bike beside her with the other.

“I am not.” She lies and pulls herself to a stop so that she can climb onto her own bike.

Francesca remains stubborn though. “What are we even looking for?”

“We’re not going to take anything; we’re just going to see what it actually looks like.” Eloise rests thankfully against the bike seat, pulling the weight off her hurt ankle as she places it on the peddle.

“I think I can easily imagine what it looks like and that’s like a place with ghosts in it and spiders… I hate spiders.”

“I’ll kill spiders for you, love.” Michaela says charmingly to distract her from spiraling down into another anxiety attack.

“Alright, enough romance, we’ve got another mile and it’s getting incredibly dark so turn your lights on but the dimmest setting. And no ducking into the woods unless you see Frank, Ben said he doesn’t normally patrol but you never know.” She’s already looking out for him as is, turning her head in one direction and then the next. She also is looking for the ghost that she will absolutely not be mentioning to Francesca, but she doubts she’s bound to see it so easily again with so much company.

What is even the plan if she does find the ghost again?

“How many times has Ben been here again?” Francesca asks, settling onto her own bike, fiddling with the light latched onto the front of the bars.

Eloise shrugs. “I don’t know, a few, never at night though so we’re one-upping him.”

Francesca glares at her. “I don’t want to one-up Ben!”

“Look!” Michaela interrupts their bickering again, pointing down the road. “A light, Frank?”

“It’s not moving, so probably not.” Eloise has adjusted the light on her bike properly and winces as she peddles her way forward down the unpaved road just a tiny bit, stopping as she examines the unmoving light in the distance. “Perhaps just a streetlight.” She explains, not able to remember if she had seen any the previous year that she had made it down this road. It was daytime then, bright even in the gloominess of such an estate. There wouldn’t have been need for a streetlight, so super easy for her to have missed.

Michaela quirks a dark eyebrow up at this. “I thought there weren’t any lights at the residence?” She’s squinting at the distance, trying to see the source of the light from an impossible amount of space when it’s practically pitch black.

“Well, how am I supposed to know?” Eloise argues.

There’s a loud snapping of a branch nearby that makes Francesca jump, eyes darting around wildly in the dark. “Calm your girlfriend.” Eloise teases Michaela who glares at her immediately.

She doesn’t scold her like she normally would though and instead sets a much softer gaze on Francesca. “Frannie, it’s fine. Probably just an animal, okay?” She urges, leaning over her own bike to pat her friend’s shoulder supportively.

The touch does help her a little, even though Eloise can practically hear her swallow. “Right.” Her grip on the handle bars of her bike are knuckle white. Eloise really should turn back for the sake of Francesca’s sanity, she’s never been a fan of the dark either. But they’re so close now, and she just can’t squash the curiosity and excitement. She has to see it through.

Eloise decides to get them back on track. “Let’s try not to lose each other, but you’ve got your walkie talkie right, just in case?”

“Yeah.” Michaela nods though Francesca doesn’t answer, eyes still darting around toward the trees surrounding the road, trying to sus out possible enemies in the darkness.

“What do we do if Frank catches us?” She asks, looking at Eloise finally instead of the darkness.

Eloise shrugs, rubbing at her sore wrist. “Pretend to be dead?” She offers rather unhelpfully, feeling a bit of impatience to get moving. The longer they lollygag the less likely they’ll get to the house and actually get inside of it. Something that even Ben hasn’t gotten the chance to do yet.

“Don’t say dead here!” Francesca utters with a scandalized gasp.

Michaela snorts but schools her features when Francesca whips her head around to glare at her. “We just run for it, back down the road. He can’t turn us over for trespassing if he doesn’t catch us.” She shrugs. This doesn’t satisfy Francesca’s anxiety, but its answer enough to give her reason to start peddling once Eloise does, pushing forward at a bit of a slower pace.

It would amuse Eloise that she’s the one maintaining lead with a hurt ankle if the pain of said ankle wasn’t distracting her from the triumphant of the moment. She keeps it to herself though, they’re finally here, there’s no reason to give Francesca more leverage to turn them all back around.

They’re quiet on the ride, only the crunching of dirt and pebbles on tire wheels accompanying them along with the occasional hooting of an owl, maybe the rustling of leaves and the wind brushing on their cheeks and in their ears while their bikes soar down the road. She doesn’t bother glancing over her shoulder to check on Francesca now that they’re so far down the road, her own eyes examining as much as she could in the darkness, looking for the ghost.

She hadn’t even told Michaela about the ghost, sure that she’d think she was crazy. But she knew she wasn’t crazy, she had seen something here last time that gave meaning to every little horror story uttered at sleepovers she had growing up. Eloise could be far too curious for her own good, the kind of person that latches onto an idea and can’t or won’t drop it once it’s consumed her. Even if said idea involves her trespassing at sundown with the one simple intention of seeing The Cowper Mausoleum ghost. Something she had thought a myth her entire life until last year.

She remembers well now the utterances of such a thing in primary school. Teenagers swearing they had seen her, that she had been extremely beautiful and yet terrifying at the same time. Some people said she was hideous, an absolute monster that was spawned in from the witches that were rumored to wreak havoc in Mayfair almost two centuries ago. Others said that she might be a lost angel, stolen away by the evil Cowpers and forced to do their bidding.

Of course, Eloise believed none of these stories. What she did believe is that it was definitely a ghost and she had never properly seen a ghost, nor really even believed in them until she had glanced upon such a striking figure that looked lost in time through the black bars of the very gate she had just left behind. It had only been for a moment, the barest of seconds even. Not even enough time to justify that she had actually seen anything at all. But she dreamed of that moment almost every night since, so, she figured, the Cowper Resident ghost was haunting her, and she’d like to meet said ghost and kindly tell her to piss off in the nicest way possible.

“Eloise!” Francesa’s worried voice brought her back to the present, pulling her bike to a stop at the base of a large canopy tree, though the canopy part was choppy, the tree oozing sap enough to inform anyone that were to look that it was near death.

This was also common knowledge about The Cowper residence though, that anything that seemed to grow here died a slow and painful death. Nothing was fresh and green or even bright like it properly ought to be, the very land itself was unwelcoming to any form of life. This is why the church she used to attend when she was little used to call it a place for hell on earth, a terrifying warning issued to the adolescent attendees to never go near it.

She has always been a bit of a rulebreaker though.

“What do you think he’s doing?” Michaela asks as they watch Frank’s flashlight swing around across the ground with no particular direction in mind it seems.

Eloise squints in the darkness but she can hardly make out the blurry shape of him. “He could be drunk again.” She whispers, turning her light off. The other two follow suit. “Do we wait for him to move?” That could take forever if he was drunk and she’s sure that they’re near the residence now. Frank isn’t normally patrolling the road, so it must be near him and his swinging light.

“What if he comes over here?” Francesca asks a little panicked.

“Alright, I have an idea.” Michaela mumbles, quietly climbing off her bike and rolling it near the base of the tree, leaning it against the bark. “I’m going to try and go around him and like… make a noise or something.” She uses her hands to emphasize such a plan and Eloise gets momentarily distracted watching the movements rather than listening.

Francesca gasps out an immediate protest. “What!? No, Eloise said no splitting up!” She’s got that scolding tone she most definitely gets from mother again.

Michaela gestures wildly toward the swinging light. “He’s not moving!”

“Alright.” Eloise sighs, climbing off her bike too. “I mean, if we can see him, we must be close to the house, right?” Michaela nods and all three of them watch his flashlight randomly dangle and shine across dirt and dead grass. “So, you can meet us there?” She asks Michaela, eyes shining with excitement that she gets reflected back at her. She and Michaela have always been quite the pair growing up. Her other best friend, Penelope, was much more resistant to midnight adventures and sneaking candy from teacher’s desk drawers that they’d only share with kids who answered questions right. She was a bit of a goodie too-shoes, which was a good contrast to Eloise who never seemed to stay out of trouble.

Michaela, however, was just like her.

Francesca slaps Eloise’s arm which causes a bit of a noisy sound and a slight yelp from Eloise. “You said no splitting up!” She reminds her again, scolding and Eloise glares at her, rubbing the offended skin that she had slapped.

“We’re not really splitting up, she’ll be right behind us!”

Francesca shakes her head stubbornly. Her overprotectiveness for Michaela was at least outweighing her anxiety for trespassing and the dark for now. “Absolutely not, we’re not sending her out there to get caught!”

“Alright fine! I’ll go and you two head toward the house once he’s moved!” Eloise says through clenched teeth, annoyance surfacing in her chest as she pulls herself off her own bike, pressing it up against the bark near Michaela’s. “This is probably a good place to leave these, don’t make any attempts to go before I’ve distracted him.” She’s already at swirling canopy leaves of the tree, ready to attend to her mission.

Francesca sighs, also greatly annoyed. “Eloise, this doesn’t solve the problem at all.”

“Yes, it does because I’m doing it regardless of what you say, I’m older.” She gives her a perturbed look, but it does nothing to deter Francesca from complaining.

“By a year!”

“A years a year, now do as I say and follow Michaela to the house and I’ll meet you there.”

“This is stupid.” Francesa pouts stubbornly, about to protest further but Michaela leaps forward to place a hand over one that’s still holding tightly to the handlebar of her bike.

“It’ll be alright, Eloise is troublemaker certified remember, who did we always send to sneak us snacks we weren’t supposed to have past midnight?” At this reminder, Francesca huffs another defeated sigh and gives them both a nod. Pulling herself off her own bike and carefully placing it at the base of the tree on the ground next to theirs.

“Do be careful Eloise, you’re still bleeding.” Francesa says softer now, with real concern as her gaze trails down her arm. It’s not as bad as it was when she initially smacked it, most of the blood on her arm dried to it now, no more fresh trickles.

It still hurt like a bitch though. “Don’t worry baby sister, I’ve got this obviously.” She tips up to give Francesca’s cheek a comforting kiss and pats Michaela’s shoulder as she passes out of the dead canopy leaves of the tree they had been scouring under.

She adjusts the bag on her shoulder that’s got a flashlight and her walkie talkie in it, praying her sister doesn’t panic and use the walkie-talkie at an inopportune time. She seems the level of antsy that it’s quite unpredictable actually. Perhaps they should have left her behind, but she had wanted adventure after all. Eloise was just trying to deliver.

And see a ghost.

She creeps as quietly as she can with a slight limp to her step. The closer she gets to Frank, the more she realizes why his flashlight is shining and spinning in all directions. The guy has it hanging on his tool belt and he’s moving something from a large wooden cart to the ground. It looks like wood maybe, large bundles of it, perhaps they’re doing construction work? She has no idea though why Frank would be busy with that in complete darkness, but it’s really none of her business to try and figure that out, especially right now when she’s got a serious task to focus on.

He's so busy with it, huffing and slapping down large slabs of wood, that he can’t hear her lightly dragging her foot across the dirt, her ankle twinging more and more painfully with every movement. She honestly must have smacked it a lot harder than she realized, but… no time to worry about that now.

She does take a moment, in the darkness to look up and admire the house, about a twenty meter distance from her. It’s large and imposing but blurry to her vision because it’s utterly black out here, even the light of a half moon not gracing the ground enough to improve her eyesight in the darkness.

“God damn nonsense this is!” Frank suddenly shouts, having dropped a piece of large wood on his foot. “I hate this place.” He grumbles, a slight slur to his tone. Eloise had effectively jumped at the sound, but it also pulled her from her thoughts of examining the estate enough and propels her into action. She’s skirting around him, near the short brick wall that surrounds the estate and borders it off from the surrounding forest, to glide into trees on his other side.

She has no idea how she’s going to get him to move, what noise should she make that won’t immediately give her away? Something that will propel him deep into this side of the woods so that they might have enough time to break into the house part of the estate, she wonders briefly in the back of her mind where the mausoleum part is and if it really just holds one body like they always said in school. There’s a loud branch snapping near her but she’s not as paranoid as Francesca so she doesn’t jump to it even as her head turns toward the noise.

Nothing, just darkness.

She turns back to where she can see Frank cussing at wood and then pulls her bag around to unzip it. But before she can think of pulling out the firecrackers Ben had snuck her earlier in the summer, a distant wailing is thundering through the woods behind her, loud and imposing and honestly horrific sounding, like someone might be getting torn apart or something like that.

She flinches then, feeling her heart race at such a horrible noise and then quickly ducks when Frank’s flashlight shines in her direction, tumbling loudly to the ground. If the wailing wasn’t at such a high pitch screech of its own, he would have definitely heard her, at least she bares the smallest possibility her slumping into dirt behind a stone wall didn’t alert him to her existence now.

Well f*ck.

The wailing happens again, and Eloise nearly trips as she’s trying to crawl her way away from Frank’s light as she presses hands to her ears, his barreling steps coming near her. “God damn kids are so stupid, yes, come onto a property with starving animals, nothing bad will happen to you.” Frank’s steps are undignified and choppy as they pound into dirt, boots snapping branch after branch as he thankfully barrels right past her through trees, not even noticing her on the ground.

She lays on her back on the ground, sprinkles of stars peaking down at her through branches and release the quietest breath of relief, her heart racing a mile a minute. “Thanks.” She says to the stars, sure that if there’s a God, he is somehow looking down at her right now even though she’s always been sure she’s not his favorite.

The wailing sounds persist and are fairly horrible and she can only imagine Francesca’s probably hyperventilating by now, so she forces herself back up from the ground, brushing dirt off her jeans and hands, wincing when she puts too much pressure on her ankle.

The warm trail of blood leaking down her arm also informs her that her wound has been irritated again, which brings about it’s own throbbing. She’s probably going to have to go to Daphne to clean this, her sister was a registered nurse, but then Daphne will go to her mother and then her mother will give her another lecture on being too childish for her nineteen years of age and… good lord.

“Eloise!” The muffled static of the walkie talkie in her backpack calls, breaking her from her own panic. She’s still on edge from the terrible wailing sound and almost being thrown right into Frank’s flashlight, her heart not quite slowed yet.

But it’s Francesca, as she expected she would call, at least it’s not an inopportune time. Luckily, based off the fact that she can’t see Frank’s light anymore, he’s deep enough into the woods, hunting down that horrid sound. He shouldn’t be alerted to the low volume of a muffled walkie talkie then.

She makes to unzip her bag and she would have truly, she was all ready to calm her sister’s nerves right down, because even with distant wailing and the mention of hungry animals, Eloise was not actually that scared. She had a goal, and she was a very determined person. It actually took quite a bit to scare her properly.

Which is what makes this such a feet.

“What’s a stunning thing like you doing here?” And at first, it’s just the terror of being caught somewhere she’s not supposed to be. She would have played it cool, but her fingers have frozen on the zipper and her eyes… her eyes are on the most vicious looking angel she’s ever seen her life.

Pale blonde tumbling hair shining in what little moonlight there is peaking through trees and there’s… something red on her chin, eyes black but it must just be the darkness, and that red on her chin litters across the whiteness of her very old looking dress. She briefly registers that the wailing in the distance has stopped, but her eyes cannot move from the commanding presence of the woman in front of her.

She looks like hell, and she looks…

Lost in time.

“What-” But before she gets the proper chance to speak and ask this terrifying figure in the dark what the hell she wants and if she’s the ghost, the figure moves faster than anything she’s ever seen, faster than anything she could imagine moving, and her back hits the bark of a tree rather hard, making her question turn to a cry of pain as the horrifyingly beautiful woman hover over her, cold fingers digging into the jeans around her hips, biting enough to hurt.

“You should know not to go sneaking into places you do not belong.” Her voice is so… delicate for something so terrifying and Eloise’s heart is racing painfully in her chest. The red on her chin is blood, it smells like the old pennies John had been collecting on his trips to America for school and this reality makes her all the more terrifying, after all, why would she have blood all over her? Was she the reason there was such wailing in the distance?

“Eloise!” This time it’s not coming from her walkie talkie, Francesca’s panicked voice carrying through the woods, looking for her. She makes to scream, making any sort of noise, but this… creature seems to know that and is already pressing a hand over her mouth to stop her. She stares at this… woman? With fear coursing through every vein and catches that there is blue around the blackness of her gaze. Sharp white teeth glint in her vision, far longer than any normal teeth she’s ever seen.

“I am ravenous, and you smell…” The girl takes in a deep breath, something hungry and consuming crossing along her sharp features. “So very good.” The woman’s cold touch goes down her wounded arm, digging into it enough for her to cry out softly to the pain of it before she’s watching with horror as she pulls those same fingers to her mouth, eyes fluttering as she sucks up the blood from her open wound.

“She’s awake again, the chains!” Who is that!? Eloise squirms against this woman, whose eyes don’t even examine her, looking vacant and starved before she’s diving toward her throat, fingers digging into her cheek to turn her head just enough that the sharpness of her teeth nick at the skin there, she can feel more blood oozing from her now, the light hot trickles of it chased away by a tongue.

She squirms, whatever noise she meant to make lost against the palm over her mouth.

“Now, now Cressida!” There’s an echo in the woods and the woman stiffens, the calmest of breaths breezing across the cool place on Eloise’s skin where her tongue had just been. “You know better than this, or should we call your daddy?” Sharp teeth leave Eloise’s neck before they cause any more damage.

An aggressive huff escapes her, and she suddenly releases Eloise from the tree bark and her extremely tight hold. Eloise should scream now, call for help from this clearly crazy psychopath but she feels a bit paralyzed in her fear... and something else, something compelling her to examine every last inch of whatever this thing, this woman, is, in front of her. She’s unable to stop staring after the vision of the person she had thought a ghost with her heart still pounding fast enough against her ribcage that it might be entering dangerous levels.

This is no ghost… this is a monster, an actual monster!

She watches black eyes seemingly clear and then gaze upon her once again but this time she seems to take actual notice of her. Eyes quickly roving over her face, stained lips parting briefly like she means to say something else, but then she closes them again. Instead, what was once black eyes have shifted to be far bluer, so blue they almost glow, and they fall around Eloise, up and down as if Eloise is the ghost.

Then this… angel? Demon? Monster? Creature? Speaks again. “You are a stupid child, leave.” She snaps, suddenly very angry. “Take your other two friends and do not come back or I will eat you alive.” She snarls it but Eloise still feels paralyzed with fear, heart racing in her throat as she blinks at her. The vision steps forward, graceful and enraged. “GO!” She shouts and Eloise scrambles then from the tree and from her, tripping over her hurt ankle and branches but not spending enough time on the ground to let this crazy monster change her mind.

Eloise fully breaks into a run, adrenaline masking all the pain in her ankle, booking it for the last place she heard Francesca’s voice. When she finds them, she’s tripping right into Michaela, who catches her with a gasp. “Go-We- Go, now, leave, run!” She grabs Francesca’s arm who looks to be like she might have been crying and tugs her toward the canopy tree where their bikes have settled.

Michaela follows immediately and not a question is asked as they scramble out of the wretched place.

All the damn stories had been right… this was a place for hell on earth.


“I’m telling you Pen, it was like some kind of demon or something!” Penelope scoffs at her antics, forcing her to still while she cleaned the wound on her elbow, she winced when she poured antiseptic over it, already having cleaned the rest of her skin from the trails of blood when she had arrived home.

Francesca hadn’t said a word to her after they got back, entirely pissed off at her and had grabbed Michaela and stomped off to her room, pulling the shorter girl with her with a small wave but not a word from her either. If Francesca was mad at her, then Michaela would accommodate that, it’s the only thing Eloise found annoying about her actually.

Even with her overtly angry sister, she couldn’t pull herself from the moment she had been lost in… a demon or an angel, either one, she must be. She had smelt of blood, pressed up against her as if ready to eat her right then but she… found self-control? She had looked at her with what felt like… recognition, but if Eloise contemplated that too much, she’d fear that the creature might hunt her down, so she shoves the thought away.

“And I think you fell on your head. This is what you get for going up there. You’ve always been so fascinated by that place for some reason. You know the actual history behind it is horrible.” Penelope scolds, much like Francesca would. She would never of gone with Eloise to such a place, she was always a bit of a tattle-tale growing up about rule-breaking when they were kids. She just didn’t like trouble and wished much like Eloise’s mother, that Eloise would stop running toward it at every chance she seemed to get.

But she didn’t feel like she intentionally ran towards trouble, it just found her easier than it found anyone else. It’s because she had no qualms about solving her own curiosities, something everyone else always seemed to hesitate on, as if they were scared of answers.

“Yeah, yeah, evil vicious ruler locks down local princess and tortures families in his basem*nt or whatever, I’ve heard all of that. But there a literal monster there Penelope!” She tries to reason and even though she says it, she can’t quite help the vision of supposed monster running through her mind. She had been quite a beautiful monster, utterly, horrifyingly, beautiful. Perhaps if Eloise had not been so paralyzed by fear she would have been stuck by how someone could look like that. Clearly not something human, there is no way, obviously.

“Those are rumors! I’m talking about the real history. The place was literally made to hold Lord Cowper’s daughter captive as if she was already dead because he thought she was the devil or something. He’d starve her there and punish her and keep her away from society as much as he possibly could. That’s why I’m always saying it’s best to stay away from it, some really bad energy, it’s probably super haunted.” Penelope is still lightly dabbing at her wound since it started to bleed again and she’s trying to get it to stop.

Eloise is too distracted to feel the pain of it as acutely as she was feeling it before. “Lord Cowper never had any children.” She scoffs, wincing as Penlope touches some more medicine to her wound before brushing a large Band-Aid over it.

Penelope gives her a look, one very similar to the kind that her mother has been giving her probably her whole life and if she wasn’t so distracted with thoughts of such a terrifyingly beautiful creature, she’d scold her for acting too much like a responsible Bridgerton now that she’s getting married to one. “I think you’re going to need stitches, we should go to Daphne.”

“No way! She’ll tell mama.”

Penelope scoffs again, red hair tumbling as she shakes her head at her with that disappointed look on her face. “As she should, you clearly got hurt out there and broke the literal law for what? An adrenaline rush and to scare Frannie half to death?”

“Please Pen, it’s fine, I’ll heal and Frannie’s fine. Michaela was there. I’m the one that nearly got eaten by a monster!” She can still feel the pricks of sharp teeth on her throat, the trail of a hot tongue chasing after the blood she had caused. Her mouth had been hot in comparison to everything else about her which had been oddly cold and lifeless.

Penelope huffs, clearly done with her antics. “And you’re the one that’s going to send me into an early grave.” She’s shoving her chair back now, a loud annoyed grumble escaping her as she stands, hand caressing her belly as if to protect the baby from the ire she’s feeling toward her childhood best friend.


“No, Eloise, we’re too old for this now. It’s time to grow up. Why you’re resisting so hard even with your grades as high as they are and the success that lands in your lap without even much effort on your part I can never understand, but sneaking your baby sister out in the middle of the night and terrifying her like that? It’s completely selfish, especially when you give no regard to your own safety, coming back here all bloody! You’re lucky I’m not telling Daphne and by extension your mother. But you owe Francesca your fattest apology and I’m most definitely telling someone if I find out you didn’t give it to her.” Penelope looks a bit irate at her and it makes her shrink a bit. Penelope doesn’t get this mad at her very often.

She slumps sheepishly in her chair, feeling at least, marginally, a bit bad for startling Francesca so thoroughly. She truly hadn’t thought anything like this was going to happen but maybe Penelope had a point. Francesa had asked several times to go back, and she had ignored her, too focused on what she wanted to listen to her. She sighs heavily, burying her face in her hands. “You’re right.” She could get this way when she latches onto an idea, obsessive, seeing not much reason outside of it.

She wants to tell everyone that they should try being haunted by the vision of what you thought was a ghost for an entire year and see how they might handle it but that would just make Penelope think that she’s even more concussed then she initially thought, so she keeps it all to herself.

Penelope seems to soften to her then. “We’re not kids anymore El, you’ve got to let your obsession with that place go properly.” She mutters squeezing Eloise’s shoulder. “And I’ve got to go back to bed, please do not give me another heart attack before my baby is born.” She gives her a pointed look once Eloise has pulled her face from her hands.

“I’m sorry, Pen.” Eloise says a bit more sheepishly and by the wave of Penelope’s hand she can tell she’s already forgiven. If anyone is used to her behavior, it would be her best friend. “Goodnight!” She offers as Penelope glides back up the stairs to rejoin her brother in his room, a thought that still somewhat turns her stomach but she doesn’t have time to examine it right now.

Part of her was holding far too much adrenaline to rest, hands twitch into the fabric of her own bloodied shirt as she recalls the stunning face that had trapped her and nearly murdered her in those woods, just barely away from her own sister. She had been stupid, but she had thought the monster a ghost!? Who wouldn’t have? She looked like she was straight out of one of those paintings mother keeps of old family portraits, passed down through generations, at their summer home.

She could still feel the blackness of her eyes burning into her skin even now, the smell of the pennies on her breath, see the white glint of her teeth. She shuddered, pulling herself painfully from the chair she had been slumped in for the past hour. She doubts she’s going to have solved the haunted problem, she’s just given herself more nightmare fuel it seems.

One thing was for sure though and that was that she’d never go near The Cowper Mausoleum again. It didn’t matter how many dreams she had of pale blonde hair or old white dresses, it didn’t matter if she spent the next ten years with that horrifying image of her about to literally eat her alive haunting every nightmare. She’d never, ever, ever, step foot there again. And she’d certainly never bring her sister back there, or even Michaela.

She shakes her head, trudging upstairs not as quiet as she should and opening her door quickly. She finds herself checking her window, just to make sure she doesn’t see some glowing blue eyes staring at her, ready to change her mind about letting her go and strips the bloodied shirt off her body, tossing it into her overfull hamper.

She keeps glancing to her window every few seconds, stripping dirty pants off as well and pulling on a soft clean flannel to sleep in. She brushes her hair with her eyes locked on the window before she starts to wonder what she would even do if she did happen to see the creature appear there? Surely if she came to finish her off, she wouldn’t be able to stop her? She seemed strong and fast and with some unknown ability that actually rendered Eloise too afraid to speak for once. She had never once in her whole life been too afraid to speak.

She scoffs at herself, looking over the image she presents in the mirror, turning on a light because she’s sick of the darkness and maybe that creature doesn’t like light? She crawls into her bed, stares at her ceiling and tries extremely hard to not look at her window again. She fails but the creature never appears in her window at all.

Images of her just burn behind her eyelids when she does manage to drift, sparking the fresh memory with endless detail she hadn’t considered in the moment, like the way that her fingers had been shaking against the place she had gripped too hard on Eloise’s waist. And the look of not only frustration but… fear, when whoever had been shouting for her had mentioned her… father?

She hadn’t even known so many people worked on the estate. She had believed it was just Frank looking after it all this time. But if whoever owned the estate was harboring some sort of demon that came through the pits of hell then why would she or anyone else in Mayfair know of it?

She’s unlikely near sleep when there’s a knock on her door that forces her eyes open. The creaking of her doorhandle turning before she can even offer a “come in” in response. Francesca peaks into the room, bright eyes wide and a little wet. Eloise doesn’t need to speak, she just scoots over on her bed and opens her blanket up to her. Francesca tumbles in, the door clicking softly shut behind her. She scrambles into the covers and then into Eloise as if trying to hide from anything that could possibly scare her. “You’re alright?” She whispers so quietly that if she wasn’t burying her face in Eloise’s neck, she wouldn’t have heard her.

“Yes.” She lies, because it’s hard to be alright after almost being eaten alive by something she couldn’t even name. But she’s not about to scare Francesca further, Penelope was right. It was selfish of her, perhaps nearly getting mauled by a creature was her karma for it. “Are you?”

“No.” Francesa whispers and squeezes her arms around Eloise’s waist. “I thought something happened to you, with that horrible sound and-”

“Nothing happened, I just fell.” She kisses her sister’s hair. “That’s all, I just fell down trying to get away from Frank’s light. Nothing happened at all.”

“But you looked so scared.” Francesca says with such a small sounding voice, as if she was only a little girl again.

“Well, I heard it too.” She ghosts fingers through Francesca’s hair. “I’m really sorry Fran, I should have listened to you. I was being a jerk.” Francesca squeezes around her waist again.

“No, I wanted to go. We were both stupid.” Francesca pulls herself up and meets Eloise’s eyes. “Let’s not do that again though, maybe next time we just… go to a bar instead.”

Eloise chuckles. “Definitely.” It’s a lot easier to sleep with Francesa squeezing her waist and chasing the thoughts of that… stunning vision of a creature out of her mind just long enough for her to attempt some rest.

No Rest for the Damned - Chapter 1 - awkwardrainbow (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated:

Views: 6571

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.