A warm blast of air surrounded me, causing me to shield my eyes. I looked up and my breath caught in my throat. The place before me could rival the opera house in likes of grandeur. Such artistry and detail, I'd never seen such craftsmanship. The ceiling was a vast mural of heaven, angels and cherubs alike dotting the blue sky. The floor was polished white marble, not a scratch or scuff in sight. I hesitantly stepped in, the doors swinging shut behind me. I gulped. Fear crept back in as I looked around. I felt so out of place, my hair a mess and still in my nightgown, soaked with melted snow.
I heard footsteps coming from one of the hallways and soon a young lady stood in front of me. Her hair was bright orange and curled tightly. Tiny freckles dotted her cheeks and her blue satin dress swished as she settled. She was very pretty, I felt at peace in her presence.
"You must be the new wife," she said in a light voice, like little chiming bells.
"New... wife?" I said, cocking my head to one side.
She shook her head. "I mean, you aren't a wife yet, but you will be soon. The Eleventh wife passed on last week, terrible illness. But, the Master knew that when he chose her. It was very kind of him, giving her such a grand life before it ended."
I stared, wide-eyed. "What in God's name are you talking about? Where am I? Who are you?" I said, panicked.
She laughed, dropping into a curtsy. "I am Amelie, the Sixth wife. A pleasure to meet you...?"
"Christine," I replied, nervously returning the curtsy.
"Christine... How pretty. Well, the Master is away on business, so I will take you to the First wife, and she'll get you settled in," she said, holding out her hand. "Come along, I don't bite," she said with a gentle smile.
I took her hand, hoping that the First Wife would be as nice as Amelie. She led me through the household, weaving in and out of hallways until we stopped at a set of double doors.
"I'll leave you two to get acquainted," said Amelie, before she went back the way we came, leaving me alone once again. I looked at the door and knocked twice.
A firm voice answered, "Enter."
I swallowed before pushing open the door and walking inside. The room was lavishly furnished, gilded furniture and polished surfaces, plus a large chandelier hung from the ceiling.
"You are the new wife, yes?" said she, sitting at her vanity. adjusting her hair. She turned to face me, piercing me with dark green eyes. Her blonde hair rolled in curls down her back and framed her oval face. She had a very regal but cold air about her, I couldn't look her in the eyes.
"Yes, that is I," I said, feeling dreadful in my clothes. She looked me once over and made a noise of distaste.
"I don't know what he sees in you, but seeing as you are the last wife now, it's fitting."
"Pardon me?" I asked, feeling insulted.
The corners of her lips quirked up into a smirk. She stood, getting dangerously close to me. "Let me make myself absolutely clear. I don't care what you do, or where you go, but do not think for one second that you will rise to any place above where you are now. You are nothing. He may have chosen you, but you start at the bottom of a very cruel ladder. Even the girl above you will have no qualms of killing you if it means she keeps her place. So, with that in mind, stay out of my way."
I stood aghast, tears threatening to spill from my eyes. Running from the room in fear of my life, I lost myself in the maze of the house. I desperately tried to find someone, anyone but her. I could tell then that she was my enemy. She was the complete opposite of Amelie. I soon took refuge in a small courtyard, curling up underneath a tree. No sooner had I found my refuge, I heard someone approaching me from behind. A dark figure loomed over me.
"My dear Christine, what is the matter?" A deep voice asked. I looked up.