The Weight of Wonder

I’ve joined in the “Spectacular Settings BadgeSpectacular Settings” fun, where the Write Edit Publish gang shares an inspiring setting along with one of their own creation!

Luckily, setting and I are well acquainted, after spending the past 100 days in the grips of  The Great Discontent’s Instagram #100DayProject , sharing oodles of my photographs featuring Biltmore Estate, the magical setting of my upcoming YA fantasy series, Architects of Illusion (think Harry Potter meets Night at the Museum with a Greek mythology spin).

Nestled a mere 5 miles from my humble abode lies the 1895 jewel of Asheville, NC–George Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau, crowning 8,000 sprawling acres of a majestic mountain paradise. Every detail of Biltmore lends weight to its wonder, sparking my imagination and unveiling the magic within.

It is here, where our story begins, in the mystical heart of the Olympians. Forged by Hephaestus, ruled by Hera, and run by the Muses, Olympus rests in the boundary between our world and that of myths. It is a place of power and illusion, where statues draw breath at dusk and dawn, legendary creatures lurk in every corner, and the fate of mankind rests in the young minds of those chosen by the gods.

Biltmore Front Lawn_1

I raced past rows of tulip trees, the whispers of dryads trickling from their laughing leaves. Rain licked at my skin and kissed the carpet of grass that stretched before me. The shimmering forms of Hyades pulled out from the sheets to dance amidst the drops. Petrichor, leader of the water nymphs, slipped in beside me. Flashing a mischievous smile, she motioned for me to follow.

We darted past the trio of drowsy tortoises, their necks reaching out towards us, patina beaks dripping with liquid secrets.

I tore up the slanted stairway, my hands sweeping across its jagged limestone throat. At the top, Petrichor stopped to stoop behind the rocky railing, her translucent finger pressed against slippery lips, urging me to be silent. I sunk to my knees and peered through the wall’s teeth, searching the lawn for the prowling lion.

© 2015 Samantha Redstreake Geary

Day 100_Biltmore

Clouds, swift and dark, swept the rain across the dusky sky towards the mountains. Petrichor and her Hyad sisters slipped away with the wind, leaving me surrounded by silent sentinels. Behind me, the towering hemlock Dryads flanked the boundary between the wild woods that spilled over the landscape, and the wave of majestic elegance that broke into the clearing.

The glass eyes of the manor winked with light as shadows crept across its face. The last fingers of sunset played along its edges, setting the stone ablaze. I felt the pull of dusk upon the veil of magic, letting loose spirits both benign and savage.

The clicking of hooves over gravel pulled my gaze to the gates. Atop the pillars, the sphinx stretched the stone from their limbs. The lavish carriage sped beneath them,  pulled by a pair of bare-chested men with long, fair locks, their flesh fading into the familiar hindquarters of horses. The soft green glow of a Naiad broke the surface of the fountain as they passed, curiosity tugging her to the water’s edge.

I spied my playmate dashing alongside the coach, his stone paws muffled by the grass. In one powerful leap, he settled back upon his pedestal, suitably fierce, before the coach came to a stop.

A powerful current sent my nerves skittering with a sense that whoever was inside that carriage carried the winds of change. Our fates were intertwined, the connection charging the air like a living thing. I knew, in that moment, my life would never be the same.

© 2015 Samantha Redstreake Geary

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37 thoughts on “The Weight of Wonder

  1. I couldn’t hear the music, but your written entry was like a fanciful romp. Your words captivated. That is a fantastic photo of the mansion/setting. I’ve not seen the Carolinas at all, only passed through them on my way to New York state once. So thanks for sharing a great setting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Sam! I’ve not visited this setting, but you took me there with your photos and words. You have so much beautiful imagery that I loved. This is just one: ‘Clouds, swift and dark, swept the rain across the dusky sky towards the mountains.’

    Thank you so much for your superb entry for WEP.

    Denise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You never fail to amaze with your writing and the music that accompanies it. Lovely! This was exceptional, and I’m so glad that you chose to share it for the WEP Spectacular Setting Flash Fiction Challenge. I do hope you’ll return in October for the Halloween challenge. I’m so looking forward to all those chills and thrills.
    Thanks, Sam, another excellent creation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah! Another super entry in this WEP! I want to know where you found those “bare-chested men with long, fair locks, their flesh fading into the familiar hindquarters of horses.” They sound scrumptious. And the “stone paws muffled by the grass” was brilliant imagery.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, Lee! Those sexy centaurs are eagerly awaiting your visit–I hear they stock the carriages with wine *wink*:) And thank you, I’m in my element when describing the fantastical *lions and gargoyles and bears, oh my!*

        Like

    • Many thanks, Yolanda, I strive to hone my craft with each project–keep myself challenged!! As always, the music unlocks the “imagery” like nothing else! I’d love to weave a spooky Halloween tale–count me in!

      Like

  4. Hi, Sam…

    STUNNING photos… I’ve always wanted to visit Biltmore mansion, especially during the holidays.

    Your lyrical and lush prose swept me away into the magic…. Lovely details and writing. We have similar styles….

    I hope you’ll drop by my blog to see…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vivid, evocative imagery here. And I always love Audiomachine. 🙂 I would love to step into those photos and stroll looking for mystical nymphs. Thanks for the kind words on my entry. As soon as the bank restores my stolen debit card, I will send you the Kindle version of THE STARS BLEED AT MIDNIGHT. At least the interior images are nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this. It combines some of my favorite things: Asheville, mythology, and great writing! I haven’t been to Asheville in a while, but your words took me back. I loved the imagery that you used…it reminded me of the first time I read The Secret Garden, or the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. That idea that something magical lay beside the mundane. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ” I sunk to my knees and peered through the wall’s teeth, searching the lawn for the prowling lion.”

    So vivid, Sam.
    I’ve always been an admirer of your writing, but in pure lyricism, you’ve outdone yourself in this one.

    I’m sorry I haven’t been by to comment earlier– I read this from your FB post, but with life getting the better of me, haven’t been able to comment.

    Lovely work, and a very well-deserved win! Awesome music, too, btw :).

    Congratulations, so freaking proud of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • We’ve been friends for a while now, and you’ve been there when I needed you. I never forget. Thanks for all the virtual wine and cake, and the laughter, Sam. When your book is out, I shall go cheering it from the rooftops 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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