january 7th, 2021
excerpt from the manor labauve
When the burden was too much to bear, Narcisse LaBauve built a house to bear it for her. A grand manor in her favorite Gothic style. It was a place to rest her weary head, but beyond that it was a work of art. She sought out the best architects of their times, building new additions to the house for decades to come. The Manor LaBauve was truly a sight to behold. Of course, it was not just a symbol of wealth and craftsmanship, not even just a home—The Manor stood to keep out a certain darkness, and to hold in a different darkness entirely.
Narcisse LaBauve would take one husband in her life, a man called Samuel Chauff, who took his wife’s name upon marriage. He was quite younger than her, but, then, so was everybody. Samuel’s time in the Manor would give him a chance to catch up. Some two centuries into their marriage, the couple finally decided it was time to have children—and not a moment too soon. On the eve of the birth, Samuel LaBauve boarded a carriage and disappeared into the misty night. Narcisse gave birth to three decidedly un-identical triplets. Nikolas, Vera, and Elodie LaBauve came into the world screaming, drenched in perhaps the most ancient blood there was.
Nikolas came first, in birth as it would be in life. He excelled in school, he excelled in university, he was respected and feared. His was the most coveted hand, one which he did not give lightly.
Vera, always the accomplished troublemaker, made a real mess of things in her adolescence. Then, she eloped with the mayor’s daughter on her twenty-first birthday. The couple sent postcards back home twice a year.
And that left Elodie LaBauve, the lowest-achieving LaBauve in the entire family tree, which was exactly how she liked it, and stop inquiring about her love life, mother. She stayed at home long after the others had gone. Publicly, she would say she was caring for her ailing mother, if she had ever set foot in the public, and if her mother had been capable of ailing. She loved to read and tend to the garden and draw out blueprints for yet another extension on the labyrinthine Manor. For Elodie, everything was perfect, right up until it wasn’t.
For one day, like her husband before her, Narcisse LaBauve vanished. And Elodie was left to pick up the pieces of an estate which was not nearly as in-order as she had been led to believe.