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