CASTLE OWNER: Welcome to the castle! I live in a lodge down by the gates. It's really far away. Nobody could hear you scream.
SARAH: Oh... good...
Eldritch voices kept informing me that the curtains were moving even though there was no wind, and that a dark presence walked the halls.
So I told my friends they weren't funny and turned off my phone.
After some very necessary sliding around the Fabulous Dining Hall in socks, I decided to get started on serious business.
Clearly, the fighting skills of Team Castle needed to be tested. So I had a plan to catch a deer, outfit it with a horn and set Diana Peterfreund on a unicorn hunt.
There was a large animal whisking around in the shadows of the court yard. I chased it happily around, but did not catch it. Something about my cries of 'Here, little unicorn! Here, here, little unicorn!' did not appeal.
The next day I picked up seven other members of Team Castle. I hugged everyone in the group, aside from Carrie Ryan.
CARRIE: I cannot hug you. I need my hands free: the zombie apocalypse might occur at any moment.
Our last two members, Robin the Killer Robot Killer Wasserman and Maureen Johnson, were due to arrive that night. We spent much of the day exploring the castle.
There is one room we call the Murder Room. A dark passageway leads to it, far away from the other rooms in the castle. When you go in, the walls are a dark arterial red, the lights are flickering and also red, and there is a black tapestry on the wall that bears Latin words which translate roughly as 'Whoever Sleeps Here Is Totally Doomed, Have You Never Seen A Horror Movie in Your Lives?'
I know this from my learnings.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes, she of the curly hair and our defender against monkeys, is sleeping there. So far she's still alive, but we know it's just a matter of time. I shall miss her.
As we explored the court yard, admiring the ruined tower where the barn owls live, we heard a terrible screech. Holly Black, intrepid battler of evil faeries, and I pretty much clung together in fear.
TERRIBLE SCREECH: terribly screeches.
CASSIE: It's a peacock....
PEACOCK: Is mysteriously, indeed a peacock.
HOLLY: Hello peacock! Be my peacock friend!
PEACOCK: Holly Black, I am just not that into you.
Holly chases the peacock around. The peacock flees from her. Yet Maureen plays it coy. She backs away from the peacock, eyes downcast. And the peacock is entranced by her and screams her its strange love songs. So far it has twice tried to storm the castle and attain its lady fair.
We hear it is peacock mating season. I'm just putting that out there.
CASTLE OWNER: Welcome ladies. By the way, avoid the fields. There is a mad cow on the loose.
CASTLE OWNER: By the way, all the red deer are in a pen.
SARAH: ... Then what was I chasing last night?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. In the shroud of night, I have stared into the face of insane, bovine death.
After that charming news, we decided to go on a walk through the moors around the castle and immediately headed for the graveyard, where I translated the Irish on some gravestones (not Gaelic, everyone! Remember that!) and Carrie tried to break into a tomb. We admire her dedication to the zombie hunt very much, but had the police come for her, we had a plan to vault the graveyard walls and escape into the forest.
Yesterday we also had high tea, where we ate scones and warm bread and cucumber sandwiches, as ladies must. I lowered the tone somewhat by insisting on many skits about books we have read, and also reading out useful tips about unicorn and zombie hunting from an advance copy of Diana Peterfreund's Rampant and from a copy of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, out tomorrow. We have also been sharing many clever writing thoughts, like 'If it can talk, it can shapeshift. That's a rule.'
In the hall there is a suit of armour and several swords fixed on the walls. We are prepared for the inevitable moment when we find Jen Barnes dead and realise supernatural forces are attacking. I call dibs on the armour.
Some pictures to prove my story can be found here.
So far, we have desecrated a graveyard, designated a murder victim, armed ourselves for the zombie apocalypse and Ally Carter has just brought in the exotic and mysterious American dish of snickerdoodles. Death, mayhem and cookies: Operation Castle is going very well! Learn more about our adventures on the Team Castle twitter feed.