Our tale begins in an ancient city engulfed in the perpetual shroud of darkness; the kind that clenches its cold fingers around the heart of every living soul, compelling them to a silence only despair could summon. An impenetrable fog veiled the city, setting the stage for the mystery yet to unfold. Welcome, dear reader, to Riddlemeire.
At the heart of the city stood a mansion, teetering on the brink of time, whispering forgotten tales to anyone who would listen. Its slate-colored bricks charred by the ages and its chimneys clawing at the sky, The Blackstone Manor, was an echo of an illustrious past. But an inexplicable sense of dread loomed about it; a secret concealed, a truth untold.
Within its halls roamed the enigma, Lord Edward Blackstone, the last of his name. With eyes as icy as the winter moon and lips sealed tighter than the city gates, Blackstone was a walking paradox.
"A man shrouded in the shadows of his past, who chose silence over speech, solitude over company," said Old Bart, the innkeeper at The Drunken Serpent, riddling Lord Blackstone with stories undefined.
The Blackstone Manor had been silent for an age, its ember hearths reduced to cold ashes, and its tainted tapestries narrating tales of dread. That was until the late hours of one seemingly ordinary Tuesday when an eerie light seeped out of the mansion's highest windows, painting the dark clouds in hues of purple and red.
Disturbed, the city began to stir. Whispers carried with the wind gained momentum, and soon the sleep-riddled town was awake in fear and curiosity. What was happening at the beloved Blackstone Manor? People gathered under the glow of street lamps with apprehension etched on their faces.
"Tis a dark hour indeed," murmured Old Bart, peering at the Manor through the foggy inn window. His face, usually lost in its wrinkles, was now stiff and serious, echoing the fear in the chilly air.
However, none dared to venture towards the mansion, drowned in the panoramic malign, until a brave lad, Sam, a blacksmith's son, stepped forward. He had always been intrigued by the mysterious lord and his home. When he broke the silence, his voice was firm, filled with resolute courage.
"I shall see what is amiss at the Manor," he declared, looking at the mass of petrified eyes focused on him, and amidst the gasps and whispers, he set on his path with a lantern in hand.
As he approached the mansion gates, the daunting height of the house seemed to swallow the boy. The mansion's ghastly glow blinking like a warning, its towers inching towards the sky, and its ivory gargoyles staring down at him, Sam's spirit wavered, almost convincing him to retreat.
Summoning his dwindling courage, he knocked. The ancient echo traveled through the hollow insides of the house, a faint tudum tudum tudum, vibrating the floor beneath Sam. The giant oak door creaked open to reveal the darkened mansion.
He pushed past the cobwebs and the thick layer of dust, the creaking floor singing a tune of abandonment, and the stale air was heavy with unsaid tales. He shivered but not from the cold, as his eyes fell on a portrait, a haunting realization dawning upon him.
There in ornate oil strokes was the Blackstone lineage, their visages as cold as stone, eyes hollow with unshed sorrow. But at the very end stood a portrait unlike the others. It had two smeared black patches for eyes and a twisted smile splattered onto the face. It looked similar to Lord Blackstone.
"Impossible", Sam whispered, half-believing what lay before his eyes. "This...had to be a mistake."
Chilled to his marrow and rooted to his spot, he heard a muffled, unworldly laugh echo in the desolate corridors. The light flickered from his lantern, and a chill wind brushed past him. Sam, engulfed in the inexplicable phenomenon, stood amidst the terrorizing darkness. The suppressed voices filled the air—the chilling tale of Riddlemeire finally ready to be narrated.
Sudden realization dawned on him, and his heart pounded against the cage of his ribs. The night was not ordinary, nor was the eerie light a mere mischief. Something had awakened in Blackstone Manor. Something that bore the name of the Blackstone Curse.
The tale of Riddlemeire and the Blackstone Curse is yet to be chronicled in the pages of time. It rests as a birthright in the hearts of Riddlemeire residents—their silence is a tribute; their whispers, the only chronicles. But whatever the truth, one thing is certain. The night Sam ventured into the Blackstone Manor, Riddlemeire was forever changed...
And that, dear reader, is where the true story begins.