After returning to Faloren Castle, Agnes rises early the next morning in order to attend to the correspondence that has accumulated in her absence. As she dresses herself, she reflects on how her mother’s charm and social graces seemed to slow the kingdom’s decline. Unfortunately, her father has done nothing to alleviate the grim atmosphere of the castle since the late queen’s death. Agnes proceeds to her study, a dilapidated yet still handsome room where she secludes herself to work until interrupted by her cousin Galien. Galien encourages her to open the summer court, and Agnes agrees. She believes that a large and lively celebration will be an appropriate symbolic marker of her vow to rejuvenate the kingdom.
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This chapter is about Agnes’s comfortable existence in the status-quo world. It is indeed a very comfortable and cozy chapter, if I do say so myself. I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed reading it again as I made edits.
Aside from establishing the scene of the next chapter, which will be the opening of the summer court, not much happens here. As I wrote in my notes for the previous chapter, it’s important for the reader to understand why Agnes is willing to remain in the status quo.
It seems as though Agnes is doing good work and making good plans, but none of this actually means anything. An astute reader should be asking the questions that Agnes is aggressively ignoring: How did she get out in the woods on the border of Erdbhein? Where did the demon come from? Who kidnapped her? Was it someone in the castle? Are they still there?
Agnes needs to start asking herself these questions soon, because Fhiad is going to come back and cause trouble. For the time being, though, it’s nice to have a small interlude of peace.
I recently read a Tumblr post (here) regarding how the Gothic genre is all about taking four pages to describe a staircase, and there’s a bit of that in this chapter. I want the reader to see and understand how run-down and decrepit Agnes’s castle is, and I want them to have an opportunity to enjoy this state of decay.
All of the chapters in this story have titles, by the way. I’m not sure if I’ll end up using them, but I especially like the title for this chapter: “A Slow and Silent Decay.”