The morning light, pale and orange, drew long rays of selective illumination across the mansion's walk-through garden. This light, cutting swaths through failing shadows cast by branch and bush alike, made the early dew steam and evaporate to nothing as though it was the sins of the night being absolved by the purity of the day. Henry saw none of this; at least not in the beautiful poetic sense it might evoke in another person. Instead he sat silently with his legs folded beneath him on the ground beside a bench, hands cradling a potted cactus in the center of his open lap with the bag full of every last item to his name behind him. As the light crept further across the cultivated grounds of the garden, they began to reveal his body from the shadow of a beech tree.
Slowly the sun gave texture and color to the silhouetted figure who sat like a Buddha in the silent garden. His pants were a black corduroy with knees and cuffs worn to the base cloth and a tarnished pocket watch chain hanging unevenly from his hip pocket. The light continued to encroach on his body like a curtain being unveiled, in his hands was the potted cactus with the label "James" written plainly across the edge. The hands holding it were covered in small scratches and healed over callouses from years of selective gardening and trash picking. Further up still, the chest revealed his black college-style knit sweater which was hemmed a tad short as it exposed the bottom and cuffs of his cross-weave pattern button-up shirt. Finally, the day illuminated his neck and face where a simple black tie resided at the base of a long slender throat flanked on both sides by tendrils of dark straight hair. This revealing light would not touch every inch of his face, however, as the hair wound not yield a last remnant of shadow across his left eye the way it fell from his forehead.
Morning began insisting itself upon him as the black sweater and pants began to heat in the sun's steadily intensifying light and knocking at his closed eyelid like his mother used to when he needed to be roused from bed as a boy. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes to the futile struggle between shadow and day that raged across the garden before him. Lifting his chin, he looked up the right side of the building that was facing him to the second floor where a half-opened windowsill brought a wafting scent of something edible...perhaps edible. Looking back down to the cactus in his lap, he waited a moment before speaking in an ethereal and serene voice "I do not want to spend another night here in the garden.". He stared intently at the cactus and then looked around at all the trees and plants before returning his gaze to the cactus with another pause before speaking. "I am aware of the fact you like it out here. I simply think I would be more comfortable inside for the nights at least. I will leave the decision of your accommodations to you." Another pause before unfolding his legs and standing up with his bag slung over his shoulder and the cactus riding in his open palm in front of his waist. Following the pathway that led to the Mansion's doorway, he took long elegant strides barely leaving footprints in his wake. Upon reaching the Victorian-style door, he turned back to the garden and spoke one last time "Thank you for letting me stay the night. James and I will try and find shelter in here from now on. I enjoyed our conversations." With that said, he put the cactus on the top of his head perfectly balanced and used the now free hand to open the door.
Taking James down from his head as soon as he was within the Mansion, his eyes poured over every last inch of the first-floor's broad and high-arching hallways while following the faint sounds of distant voices accented by a strengthening smell of questionable cuisine. Finding a back staircase which allowed for an immediate access to the kitchen rather than the grand main staircase which opened to the dinning hall first, he flew up the stairs on the tips of his feet with nary a sound until he got to the swinging door which he leaned into delicately. Peering in at first, the voices now had bodies to accompany them and the smell had at least a shape. Two boys, young men, exchanging small-talk. A violent looking red head and a wispy looking blond that seemed to have comically opposing personalities and styles. The food, now that he saw it, became something of a risk in his mind as the eagerness of the blond's voice came with a subtle curiosity as to the concoction's true worth, but with all the optimism in the world. Slipping in as undisruptively as he could, he placed his bag by the swinging door and held James just behind the small of his back as he assumed a patient stance to wait for the right time to ask about dormitories.
In rapid succession, the kitchen had filled nearly to capacity with exuberant expression and conflicting motivations. Henry's eyes darted between all five of the occupying personalities. His mind had to race to absorb as much as he could about what he saw and how reactions played out. He no longer heard words as the world seem to go black and white and the passage of time slowed to a crawl in his own mind. Outwardly, he continued to stand in a comfortable pose but his head cocked slightly and his forest green eyes adopted a thousand yard stare while his pupils dilated then returned to normal. In the span of mere seconds his mind had added still more pieces to the ever growing puzzle. Secondary elements? The traditional set had all been accounted for prior to the two newest arrivals to the kitchen. What power they signify would need more than the simple interactions they'd shown so far.
In his mindscape the image of the girl questioning the origin of the smell, Kari Westwood. American name, American confidence. She kneels to dry the floor with polite but earnest apology, uncompromising and dutiful in the action and choice of words. In this mental image she gets up and declares her intentions plainly and offers to take charge. Responsible, and unphased by callous remarks and humors innocent mistakes. Too young to be a mother, but maternal. What role had she been forced to assume to have become so readily willing to set things in motion in the face of unfamiliarity and hostility. Principled and stern, it could be a dream come true or an overwhelming nightmare for her to shoulder whatever great destiny fate had laid upon them all. Time would have to tell. She gets up and leaves.
Henry's mind rewinds the image and she is beginning to kneel again, frozen in time. Almost simultaneously as Kari had started to speak, a new person exploded into the room from the main door. She gives an abbreviated salutation to no one in particular and her expression is a fluid tapestry of excited and unsure, her eyes move to the pot and abbreviated joy lights up her face, her lips move but Henry does not hear the words. She moves, she is letting Kari pass by despite his mind's eye seeing nothing but the woman's movement responding to an invisible passer. The joy drains from her face and becomes indignant offense, her lips move but the intention is clear that she perceives the occupants of the kitchen as leering at her. The expression is gone and she returns to a disposition of humor and eyes the pot hungrily. She is distracted, she looks to the red-haired boy who is frozen in time. She gives a name, Lucy. The offense returns and she lunges across the room towards Henry. He feels his hand pick a thorn off of James and hold it out to the side as she passes by but it does not touch her. The thorn is gone, it was not for her. His left brain and right brain have kept his normal pattern of behavior intact while he sees the world in this black and white patchwork of fractured events. Lucy is gone from his sight and down the stairwell, did she open the door? he did not see. She rewinds to her original position at the door. Everything about her is snap-decision, everything about her is about her. The consequences are a means to an end, her actions attract and her actions repel but she refuses to be ignored. Erratic, insistent, her emotions blur together so fast she seems to be all at once. She does not stop to think about the perceptions of others towards her beyond her own preordained assumptions. What influence, or lack there of more accurately, would make her so unfiltered and impulsive. She has never been stopped, she does not know what it means to stop. She is an electric-force incarnate.
The door swings open again. A golden presence glides into the room. She is as effervescent and euphoric as young Noah, but her deft movement and bold stance belies a more energetic and fay demeanor that makes her innocently more aggressive. She is saying hello the the entire room without looking at the people she is greeting, she is seeing people because people want to see her. She makes small talk, as though she were on a stage speaking rhetorically to an audience before wrapping her arms around the frozen figure of Noah. Noah begins to move as well their interactions are so similar they become nearly the same entity. Noah chatters back nervously, she says her name is Kira. Her hand has a spoon in it and she shovels the aborted-breakfast into her mouth without hesitation. She does not stop, she continues to be unflappably delighted by life. She holds her waist and the effects of the dish become obvious, but she does not lose her spirited expression. This girl is the sun and all the world revolves around her. She makes no enemies and revels in a constant contented bliss. She wants all the world to love her, such a high-pedestal to put ones self upon. She had the innocence of Noah and the self-assurance of Kari, but lacked the conviction of purpose that the latter had. A small crack in the rose-tinted glasses she sees the world through might be all it takes to sunny disposition into a flickering light.
The scene is reset again and this time it is the only person left without a name who moves. He sneers towards Noah, then continues to give sour looks around the room, to who he cannot be sure, but the thoughts behind such expressions could only be petty ones. The boy's gaze returns to Henry and on him locks for a moment while shifting away from Noah, and ostensibly the golden girl who would have been there at that time. The sour expression turns back to Noah and mutters something. He looks to the door Lucy is vaulting herself through at the very beginning. He gives a demeaning laugh and is suddenly in a state of panic and frustration once more. True to form he abandons the situation and steels his eyes on Henry as he walks past him to the swinging door. Their eyes lock once more and Henry sees into the black pupils of his eyes until he is out of sight and through the door. In passing, Henry once again felt his hand pick a thorn from his cactus and slip it out to his side. This time the action had context and made sense, he sees the thorn thread itself into the back of the unknown boy's coat as he disappears into the narrow stairwell, Lucy close behind him to be sure. His conscious mind had planted a piece of James onto the young man, creating temporary access to the sounds and expressions around it until the thorn shrivels and dies. Perhaps now he would have a name with the face.
The world regains color and all the parties present conduct themselves in a blur of color until his mind was in the present once more. Uncocking his head, he blinked a few times. Sometimes thinking like a plant helped and sometimes it was just a liability. But for now, the status quo was maintained, leaving Noah and Kira in the kitchen with him, Lucy and the unnamed boy apparently confronting each other over something insignificant and ego-driven downstairs before parting. James conveyed to him the muttered ramblings of the red-haired instigator regarding the Professor. Rowan would not be found so easily, Henry surmised, and if there are still more elements to arrive then until they make themselves known he will continue to be absent. Until such time as this, Henry is still left without a room and without any more puzzles to solve. He lifts his bag from the tile floor and holds James out over his waist as the silent steps he takes across the hard surface glide him to the main door leading into the dining room. Looking over his shoulder to Kira and Noah with a narrowed eye, still sharing the questionable merits and obvious consequences of experimental cooking, he opened his mouth to announce his departure, he had a fleeting notion, an intuition that he tacked on to the end of his farewell."Until Kari returns, stay together." he opened the door with the hand holding his bag and looked out into the dining room, "There are scarier people than me left on this island." The cryptic cautionary comment relayed, Henry let the door close behind him and traversed the long empty dining hall.
The high ceilings and far corners dim and unwelcoming without the candle-light to set the proper mood. Coming to the grand main staircase, which spiraled into a cork-screw vein that connected three floors of the main building. The golden haze of light pouring in from the gargantuan picture windows above the front door cast a bronzed and ancient light into the main entryway, which Henry appreciated aesthetically as he glided down the stairs to the first floor. To the right, he saw a flash of hair and black cloth disappear around a corner. The colors and height were benknownst to him, Lucy. The bag and cactus were becoming somewhat of an encumbrance and his initial reason for going to the kitchen in the first place had never been fulfilled, with no other options he would need to ask her where the dorms were. Startling an erratic and seemingly violent person like Lucy did not seem at all conducive to his continued existence, however. Instead of his normal gate, he let his footfalls ring on the hardwood floor. He approached the corner he had seen her disappear behind and called out in dullset tone "Lucy. A moment of your time?", peering around the corner shortly thereafter.
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