The house was peaceful, the trees gently swaying the in the breeze outside.
It was a most unprepossessing house, small and not in the slightest bit pretentious, considering whom lived there.
The path meandered up to the door through a quaint front garden, complete with out of control rose bushes entwining everything and drooping under the weight of heavy red and gold blooms. The door was a plain wood with a simple brass doorknocker and a single word engraved on the brass plate.
The little house only boasted four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs. But that was all that was needed for the single occupant. Downstairs was the parlour and the kitchen. The parlour was a warm cosy room, with minimal decoration, but with a roaring fire and the dark wood furniture it could become a haven from the world outside. Bookshelves ranged along the walls, groaning under the weight of books and threatening to topple over. Old books, new books, really old books; they were all there. Through a small wooden door was the kitchen. A spartan room that shrieked 'bachelor with maid', which, of course, he was. There were no cooking pots or any evidence the range was used, other than boiling the kettle and warming the room. The larder looked virtually empty except for some cheese and cold meats. The only indulgence appeared to be the bottles of wine stacked in the larder, mostly dusty and very old.
The upstairs has the same spartan look, a look of necessity. The master bedroom had a big comfortable bed, but it looked like it had never been slept in. There were a couple of rugs on the floor and a chair, and that was the sum total of the furniture - except for the books. More books, stacked against the walls, some on bookshelves, some just piled up. The little window gleamed and looked out over the front garden overgrown with roses.
The smaller room was ostensibly a second bedroom. But this little room bore not a shred of bedroom furniture. Instead there was a desk, covered in papers and books. Pictures were pinned on the walls of monsters evil and foul. There was a large poster of a pentacle on the longest wall, and it was surrounded by words in a script unknown. On the other side of the room from the desk was a settle, of the type normally found in parlours. This was draped in rugs and furs and was surrounded by papers and books, seemingly dropped randomly. The little window looked out over the rear of the house and stables could be seen at the back of the yard. It was a larger stable than usual, but only held one loosebox. The stable door was huge, barred with enormous brass hinges and the upper half was pinned back. Inside, just visible in the inky blackness, was a huge horse, black as pitch.
There was no evidence of anyone living in the house. The grate in the parlour was spotless and the range blackleaded to a shiny finish. The floors were swept clean and all the windows gleamed in the sunlight. There were no boots by the door, nor coal or logs by the fire. In the small hallway there were neither coats nor hats. In the bedrooms upstairs, there were no clothes, nor any storage for clothes. The house looked completely deserted.
In the parlour there was one wall with a bookcase that was very dusty. Off all the books in the house, these were the only dusty ones. At the end of one of the shelves was a copy of 'Demons - Myth or Magic?'. This book was the only one on the whole bookcase that wasn't dusty. A hand landed on the book and pulled it from the shelf. Suddenly the entire bookcase swung open and revealed a narrow passageway. Some paces further on there was another small door and, behind it, stairs leading underground.
The room underground was infinitely more untidy than the house upstairs. A cape was flung casually on a chair and there were more books. But these books were scattered all over the room. Some had noted in the margins and some had pages removed. Papers, pen and ink were on the little desk, and the desk almost sagged under the piles of books and papers.
Boots stood by the door, but only one pair. And a jacket was thrown on top of the boots.
Sitting at the table, hunched over his work was an enormous man. This mountain of a man was busy writing, taking notes and referring to a stack of musty books. His eyes were jet black and he had huge shadows under them, showing long hours working on his project. His black hair fell untidily to his massively broad shoulders and he frequently pushed stray locks out of his eyes. He dwarfed the chair, his long legs telescoped under the desk. Every now and then he would stretch, pulling his legs out from under the desk and pushing them to the extraordinary limit of their length. Standing up this behemoth stood six foot ten inches in his stocking feet, so he touched seven feet in his boots. He was muscular with the height, giving an overwhelming concept of presence. He stood up from the untidy desk and stretched his arms upwards. Biceps and triceps wrestled under his shirtsleeves, and pectoral muscles threatened to break through the silken fabric. When his hands brushed the ceiling, the giant bent down and touched his toes. For a big man, he was incredibly supple. His face wasn't young though, he had the experience of years in every line and every wrinkle. He slowly strode over to a jug and poured a glass of water, and drank it greedily. Then he poured some into his hands, rubbed his face and ran his fingers through his hair.
Then, with a weary sigh, the hard-worker went back to his desk.
The brass plate on the front door read 'Elshin'.