Casper led us through the dark woods that became denser and wilder with each step we took. It seemed strange that this wilderness existed in the middle of perfectly manicured and landscaped estate. Why had the castle gardeners left it to waste and wilderness. I took another step forward and found my foot colliding with the edge of solid mass...a square solid mass. I looked down and through the darkness, weeds and briars, glimpsed the stone edge of what looked like a flowerbed. It was well hidden underneath the overgrowth and I couldn't help but wonder why anyone would want to put a flowerbed in the middle of this.
"Mia," Casper called my name, "We need to keep going."
My eyes reluctantly drifted up to meet Casper's, and couldn't help but say, "There's a flowerbed here."
Casper's eyes saddened and he replied quietly, "We need to keep moving."
His sad expression reminded me so much of Luc. That sad face fraught with the worry and stress of the terrible and inescapable past that haunted this castle. How Casper must have suffered in that little concrete prison, shackled to the floor and left to die for a crime he never committed. Spending hour after hour, day after day, glaring at concrete ceiling and waiting to starve to death at the order of his brothers. I wondered how Luc felt having to standby and watch his older brother condemn his younger brother to death. Even if Casper had been guilty no one's heart was made out wood, not even Luc's.
The trees began to thin out and was replaced by an explosion of overgrown bushes and ferns that towered over Casper and I. Casper slowed down and carefully guided Connie and I through the dense vegetation. The giant plants were strange and unfamiliar. They did look like native plants but rather something from a botanical garden. I paused, grinding to a halt as it suddenly dawned on me- this was not a wild and overgrown patch of land...this was a garden that had been left to waste.
"Come on," Casper called, "There is something I want to show you."
Casper moved carefully through the plants and came to a standstill. In front of him stood a high stone wall covered in a impenetrable mesh of dead creepers. Raising his arm, Casper waved a hand over the dead vines which suddenly twitched with life. The vines seemed to give a sleepy shake and then snake their branches upwards revealing a weathered metal gate with a large sign fixed to it that read in large red angry capital letters 'DO NOT ENTER'. Casper ignored the sign and held the gate open for me. Nervously I stepped through into a beautiful forgotten garden.
Casper closed the gate and the creepers moaned as they once again veiled the walls of the hidden gate. Amazed I stood quietly taking it all in. The garden was overgrown but had retained some shape and form. I could see the gravel paths that cut across the garden in a diamond pattern, and beautiful sculptures of nymphs and maidens peeking out of dead giant shrubs.
"This was Celia's garden." Casper said.
The breathe in my lungs stilled. This was Celia's garden. The garden of the elusive ghost who haunted me. I closed my eyes and imagined that pretty bright young girl walking through this garden while be watched by her adoring husband Louis. I imagined how happy they were before the days of Henrietta and her evil.
Casper's pointed to a stone bench and said, "Louis and Celia used to sit right there all the time holding hands... me and Luc teased them." His voice trailed off and I felt his sadness beating down at me. Celia and Louis were dead. Nothing, not even proving Casper's innocence was ever going to bring either Luc or Casper the joy of seeing Louis and his true love happy.
Casper cleared his throat and straightened up, dragging himself back into the present. "After Celia's death these gardens were closed off and forgotten." Casper explained.
"I think its magically." I smiled.
"Well, I think Celia would have wanted you to see them." Casper replied gruffly.
Smiling I touched Casper's shoulder lightly and said, "Thank you."
A ghost of a smile flickered across Casper's face for a moment and then it was back down to business. I held Connie's hand and we walked across the garden to another gate in the wall. Casper waved his hand over the creepers which retreated upwards just like the gate before. We passed out the garden into a meadow that ran to the edge of the lake that surrounded the castle.