Chapter 4:  The Decaying Garden

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Aaron frowned.  Something was off…he sat up in bed to find a pair of icy blue eyes staring at him.  It was almost as if those eyes could read his thoughts.

He chuckled at the thought, like people can read minds.  He frowned again when he realized the woman was still staring at him.

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“Wh- What d-do you want?”  Aaron winced at the sound of his voice, hoarse from disuse.  He wanted to sound stern, intimidating, but he just sounded like a scared little boy.

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The woman smiled but said nothing.  After a moment she stood up and went to unlock the door.  As she turned the handle she gestured for Aaron to follow her, and abruptly disappeared through the door.

Aaron stood dumbfounded.  What was going on?

‘Am I finally free?’  He thought, careful not to get his hopes up to much.  It couldn’t be this easy.  He tried following her so fast he nearly tripped over his covers as he got out of bed.

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When he finally made it past the door, he paused for a moment to survey the hallway he found himself in.  It was obviously in some ancient structure, maybe an old manor?   There cobwebs and cracks everywhere.  Aaron could hear faint creaking sounds above him.

He was distracted from his thoughts by a polite cough and looked up to see the woman disappearing down the hall.

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He hurried after her, feeling more awake than he had in who knows how long.  Even if he wasn’t being set free, at least he was getting a change of scenery.

At the end of the hall they continued up a flight of steps and into another hallway.

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His nervousness grew as they neared the end of the hallway, he could see a faint, eerie light coming through the cracks in the door.

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The woman inserted a key into the lock, and pushed it open.  He followed her through and soon found himself in what looked like some sort of grotto.  A misty haze of soft green light settled over the cavern.  He gasped at the sight.

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There were all kinds of plants around him, a lot of them looked unfamiliar but he did recognize a few to his surprise.  Even though he wasn’t much of a gardener, his mother was.  She had hoped to open up the first park in Newcrest, but that was before…

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Aaron suddenly realized he had almost forgotten about that strange lady, when he saw her standing in front of what looked like a decaying apple tree.

Not all of the apples left looked to far gone and the site of them made his mouth water.  He went over and started to grab one when the woman put her hand on his chest to stop him.

“Don’t.”  She quiet voice that resonated with power, “These are not edible, they will make you very ill.”

Aaron didn’t want to believe her, he could imagine finally feeling full after so long.  But her powerful words prevented him from going any further.

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She took her hand away and gazed at him, “You will now be working in my garden.  You must revive these plants, they must be of the best quality for what I need.  Now, come with me.  I will show you to your new lodgings, of course you have free reign of my garden.  Just mind the cowplant, Beaufort doesn’t take well to strangers.”

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Aaron stood there dumbfounded, ‘Cowplant?’

“I just want to go home, what if I don’t want to take care of your old dead plants?” he said balling his hands into tight fists.

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The woman slowly turned around and raised an eyebrow at him, “You would rather go back to being stuck in that old room?”

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He felt doubtful.  Yes he wanted out, but to actually get out.  Not get forced into being free labor.

Seeing there wasn’t really any other option, he let out a sigh and followed her as she wound her way through the plants.

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At least if he was working in the garden, he might be able to snag some extra food every now and then, besides maybe he could use a trowel to dig a tunnel out of here.

He nervously chuckled to himself at the thought.

“So how do you expect me to revive your garden?  I’ve never worked with plants, I have no idea what to do,”  Aaron asked after a moment.

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“I have plenty of books on the subject, your welcome to read them at your leisure.”  She responded, continuing her swift pace.

He was confused, “wait…what?  I’m not going back to that cell?”

She suddenly came to a stop in front of a large staircase.

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“As I just stated, as long as you’re making progress with the plants, and tending to Beaufort, you can have free reign of this place.  But you cannot leave.”  She simply said, and started climbing the old stairs.

After reaching the top she called out, “We’re here.”

Aaron was exhausted after spending so much time walking around, the last thing he wanted to do was climb these awful stairs.  “What do you mean?!  Where’s here?”  He muttered feeling slightly annoyed, and more than a little nervous.

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“Your new home,” she said almost casually, over her shoulder to him.

He stood there for a moment, slightly taken aback.  Feeling a mixture of emotions, Aaron slowly trudged up the creaking staircase.

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A/N:  Sorry for the long chapter!  I kinda wanted to scoot things along so the story wouldn’t drag along in the beginning.  So I really hope you enjoyed reading!  ❤

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