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You push open the biggest set of doors and enter the room beyond. Standing still in the doorway, you let your eyes adjust to the darker room. As your eyes adjust, you see that this room is not like the gray stone hall, except that the floor is made of white marble, dusty as it was in the main hall. It does, however, feel cool and smooth against your tired footpaws. The walls are also lined with white marble, some of it beginning to crumble. You look up at the ceiling. It is made of thick glass, slightly murky from time. You can see the rain pounding down and the black, tropical clouds swirling. Candlelight casts eerie shadows throughout the chamber. In front of you, almost hidden by shadows, a white wolf lounges on a throne. She wears an old, tattered blue velvet cloak trimmed with purple-dyed feathers, many of which are missing. Under the cloak, her fur is dull and unkempt. She is thin and gaunt, only a shadow of former strength and splendor. A rusty sword with a dull, jeweled star on the hilt rests on the floor. The wolf had raised her eyes to you as you entered. Now you look back. You can tell the wolf was once regal and powerful, but now the eyes that stare back at you are defeated and weary. “What do you want? This fort is no more.” She stares coldly at you, waiting for a response. When there is none, she continues. “I founded this fort. Fort Nightshade. I had traveled from the far north with a small band. When I arrived here, my creatures and I built the fort. It flourished for years. Now it’s just a ghostly relic in this god-forsaken forest.” She rises slowly and wipes her paw across the wall. Marble crumbles off and adds to the dust on the floor. “This place has seen its last glory days, but I can’t seem to bring myself to leave.” The wolf sits back down on the throne, still gazing at you with her defeated eyes. “You’re welcome to stay here, though I can’t see why anyone would want to. Those who still linger here you may be able to find in the tavern. Now leave me in peace.” You stare back into the wolf’s haunting eyes for a moment longer, and then stumble backwards out of the room, back into the main hall.

Anthem of Fort Nightshade

At the edge of a majestic forest,
Lies a castle, strong and grand.
Where dark creatures never rest,
And their names are feared throughout the land.

Across the restless, dangerous sea,
Lies a castle, strong and grand.
Where evil creatures let none go free,
And blood runs through the sand.

The treacherous castle, strong and grand,
That lies at the edge of a perilous glade,
And high above the bloodstained sand,
Is the marvelous fort called Nightshade.

Ruled by wolf with snow colored fur,
The castle, strong and grand,
Is a haven to any evildoer,
And the riffraff of the land.

So come to Nightshade if you dare,
All those as evil as nightmare.
You will find a harmless welcome there,
But be you gentle goodbeast, beware.

By Snowstar Fleetpaws