The scent of vanilla-infused wax hung faint in the air, even though the candles weren’t lit and hadn’t been all day. Spent matches lay cold in the dusty fireplace, splintered and damp. Lady Changeling opened an eye halfway, watched the shadow of the window grill fade across the carpet with the setting sun and muttered aloud:
“I do wish you’d draw the curtains.” Her voice was cold and stiff, crackling from age and disuse as the breath dragged itself across her throat with a sound like splintering steel.
“But the sunset is beautiful. It’d do you good to come and watch it,” replied the only person who had willingly visited this dilapidated house in three and a half years. They sat in the armchair by the open window, silhouetted by the glow of the evening sky. A breeze carried the sweet perfume of the blossom orchards up from the valley below. It was a sharp and unpleasan