Castle Shadows

A man and woman kissing in front of a castle window Illustration: Thinkstock, Mandy Dixon


The ancient building had many secrets to share with one special visitor…

The shadows of the church half-hid her as she gazed down at the candlelit tomb, her fingers tenderly smoothing the chiselled features. By the flickering light she read faint words cut into the stone: Sir Richard Beddoes. Gallant knight.

The coach party moved away to climb the worn steps from the crypt. Sunshine through stained glass windows glinted on the fair hair of the man ahead as he turned, smiling, his voice sending a quiver through her.

”I’m Richard.”

“Richard? How strange,” she murmured, remembering the handsome knight in the tomb below. ”I’m Katherine.”

She let him guide her out into the bright sun, across the ancient town to where a castle rose starkly on the hill.

Under her feet the grass was dew-wet in the shadow of its stone walls, but she hardly noticed, captivated by the man beside her. His voice was gentle, telling the history of the castle, and she marvelled that he knew such detail.

Standing on the battlements, wind stirred her hair as she looked down towards the curving river, visualising the town as it used to be. Small, its houses clustered, fields green for miles around.

She could sense the rough stone tremble under her gripping fingers

As Richard’s voice described the final, terrible battle, she shivered. He made it all so vivid. She could hear again the swish of arrows arcing through the sky, the clash of sword against sword. Feel the dull thud as soldiers battered at the gates; the sudden boom of a cannon. Sense the rough stone tremble under her gripping fingers, her ears echoing with cries of anguish, her eyes stinging with tears. Destruction. Walls falling…

He caught her as she swayed, his arm around her waist, his face close to hers.

At first his lips were tender, growing more passionate as his kisses deepened, filling her body with scorching fire.

“Why are you crying?” he whispered, his mouth brushing her tear-wet lashes. She could only shake her head. All she knew was her love for Richard. A love that could span centuries, never lessening. A love that would never die.

When he kissed her again, Katherine’s exploring fingers found the puckered scar running across his neck, hearing his sharp intake of breath, his hand stilling hers. Then they were lost, together in a world that was only for the two of them.

The sun was low, casting a sullen glow over the castle walls, but Katherine knew she had to return to the church with him before the coach left.

“I never want to be parted from you,” he murmured.

“Nor I you,” she breathed, gently taking his hand.

Thursdays were always the same. The coach driver watched the group straggle back, souvenirs in plastic bags.

Castle on the hill. Historic town to your left. Museum and art gallery in the High Street. Make sure you return on time, or I’ll have to leave without you.

He rose heavily, glancing at his watch. Automatically he counted the filled seats.

“Always one,” he muttered. “Disappeared into the church a while back. Have to turf him out or we’ll never make it to our overnight stop in time.”

He hated the darkness of the crypt.

Creepy sort of place, reeking of musty decay

The guy must be here; rest of the building was empty. Why did it always draw the tourists? Creepy sort of place. Reeking of musty decay.

His eyes read the carved inscription on the tomb. Sir Richard Beddoes. Gallant knight lost in battle. And Katherine, his beloved wife.

No sign of that young man. Recovering from a mugging, someone said. Neck slashed with a knife a few months back.

Can’t wait any longer though. The driver’s quickening footsteps echoed in the hollow silence. Above the two stone figures a candle guttered, wax dripping. Its flickering flame made the carved features of one appear to move.

As if she’s smiling, he thought, closing the wooden door.

Our next haunting story will be published on Thursday…

Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me