High on top a craggy mountain sits a towering castle, its gray and heavily mottled walls covered in ivy.The castle keep (a fortified tower) is now vacant, a long forgotten, solitary, still and silent sentinel, once vibrant and seething with energy but now a discarded and hollow husk, lost to time and space as it no longer serves a purpose, that of seeing to the needs of the Lord of the Realm and his family along with his chivalrous and loyal Knights who were once housed there.
A reminder of just how transient life is.
This was their sanctuary, their private abode, where they lived, slept. ate, plotted and planned, celebrated and reminisced, toasted their accomplishments and drowned their sorrows in tankards of ale and honey meade.
This vacant castle holds many secrets and its labyrinths are full of intrigue: acrimony, betrayal, passion, sorrow, fear and remorse, lust and lies, shame, dark corners and dank crevices, musty passages, a dungeon (or two) a chapel, several great halls, clerestories, splendid and magnificent stained glass windows, shadowed archways, cloistered alcoves, winding staircases, expansive rooms, small spaces, mammoth fireplaces with roaring fires, hallways leading to lofty chambers and embossed, intricately carved wood ceilings, long, streaming medieval banners hanging from cross beams of heavy, darkened oak, wine cellars, lavishly carved walnut tables and high back chairs that seated a myriad of people, fine porcelain china, embossed crystal wine glasses, pewter tankards, balsam fir boughs woven together with red and green silk ribbons intertwined with oranges and dates and dusted with cloves and nutmeg, ornate and stately candelabras, bowls of ripe fruit, intricately patterned Persian rugs covering the floors and heavy tapestries lining the walls with pictures of unicorns and beautiful ladies, libraries filled with books on arcane knowledge.
Tucked away from view are small, cold and cramped hiding places in the winter that are miraculously transformed into sunny, happy places in the summer with children scampering about, round ruddy mischievous faces peering out and crying, "catch me if you can", skipping about, laughing and giggling, running and jumping, merrily shrieking as their tiny, melodious voices, sounding like pieces of silver jingling in a pants pocket, echo off the walls of the castle's vacant chambers with sheer joy and happiness.
The grounds are rolling and lush, verdant and opulent. Other sections of the grounds are reserved exclusively for orange trees and lemon groves, Crepe Myrtle, cedar, ash, oak, vintage rose gardens (genus Rosa from the Latin) of Chinensis from China and Burma, Bracteatae from India, lovely Caninae from North Africa, blue wisteria, Greek statuary, keyhole design labyrinths, vineyards, azaleas, lilacs, hollyhocks and morning glories, dense hedgerows, spiral herb gardens, tables and benches with overhead canopies to protect one from the rays of the sun and the occasional downpour as the nobility, dressed in their finery, whisper and gossip, laze under the willow trees, playing board games, reliving the latest battles, the latest trysts, as they indulge their egos in banter and fine beverages, wine and the most delicious of delicacies.
A long, ambling winding road leads up to the castle, meandering through pastured meadows with gentle cows and goats, rambling stone walls, ancient and deep dark pine forests.
Down below are tiny villages with town squares, thatched roofed houses, smoke curling out of chimneys looking like willowy wisps, farms and barns, animal pens, blacksmith shops, tanneries and saddleries, almshouses, tinkers, strolling minstrels, vegetable and fruit markets, flower stands, chickens, hogs, snake charmers, thieves, churches, bawdry and boisterous inns and taverns, liveries and small businesses.
Overhead the moon is full and pregnant with secrets, an elusive and aloof muse, always the mysterious feminine whose bright luminescence shines down on every path, but who also delights in creating shadows that darken one's path, continuing to observe all that goes on below, from her cold barren, lofty domain.
Brittle brown leaves rustle noisily in the wind. A large barred owl flies in front of the moon, soaring to a graceful landing on a tree branch, just a stump of what it once was, yet still clinging tenaciously to life on an old and withered tree.
The old continues to give way to the new but memories will always exist. They just need to find a suitable place, an outlet, where they can be brought to light and shared with others...