Chapter One

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The white clouds hung low and heavy in the sky, darkening with the promise of a storm. No breeze could be felt in the air, or at least not in this part of the city —where a barely detectable passageway lead to a small square, surrounded by contemporary offices and residential buildings. The distinction in style served to highlight the beauty of the structure that stood near the centre of the square, a former brewery. No kind of chaos could be found here, merely bricks, a few scattered trees and an almost misplaced sense of tranquillity.

Dorian skidded his motorcycle to a halt and took off his helmet. He fished a note from his jacket's pocket and glanced at the hastily written scribbles, rechecking the address for the tenth time. Finding the place had been a challenge in its own right, even Google maps had had some trouble doing so. Now that he had arrived, however, Dorian began doubting his reading abilities. Surely, this could not be it. He would have expected something less... grand.

The construction looming over him was situated in the core of London, in the midsts of modern architecture. Once upon a time, it had been part of a Victorian brewing complex but had been restored to its current state a couple of years ago –or so the ad had explained. As Dorian peered up, he found a prominent feature that caught his eye: a clock tower in the roof. Listening closely, he could swear he heard soft tick tocks permeating the air.

Parking his motorcycle to the side, he slipped off and approached the front door. A light breeze started to gently blow, causing the leaves above him to rustle the trees awake. With the shift in the wind, he took a deep, encouraging breath before pressing a finger to the bell. When the door swung open seconds later, Dorian's eyes zoomed in on an oversized jumper that stated "SAVE THE WHALES" in almost aggressively bold letters. The person wearing it held her face forward in a steady gaze, and had an air of authority that was palpable.

'Hi, um, does Fio-noo-la live here?'

The woman scrutinized him intently, undoubtedly already forming an opinion on him. He could almost hear her brain clicking into gear, creaking and humming for a first impression.

'That's me.' She said simply, without bothering to correct his poor pronunciation.

'Right, I'm here for the rental ad?'

'Of course!' Her eyes lit up as she moved aside, allowing him space to enter. 'Please, come in.'

The hall was grand and bright with a concrete staircase leading up to the first floor. In contrast to the bare walls, the floor was an explosion of earthy colours, a masterpiece consisting of mosaic-like tiles that were lain in an intricate, organic fashion.

'Fionnoula Archibald.' She introduced herself officially, holding out a hand. 'I know it's a mouthful so Finn is fine.'

Taking note of how she pronounced her name like finn-ula instead of fio-noo-la, Dorian firmly shook her hand and casted a well-mannered tilt of the lips. 'Dorian Stones, it's a pleasure.'

Without voicing some pleasantries in reply, she turned around and gestured for him to follow. Together, they ventured into an elongated room with nothing safe for wooden stairs that presumably lead to the basement. Descending the steps, Dorian was relieved to discover the lower ground floor did not appear to emit the cliche paranormal activity vibe.

'Many previous viewers were turned off by the fact the rooms are located in the basement, which I specifically mentioned in the ad.' Finn spoke up, as if reading his mind. 'There is no reason for such negativity though, I can assure you.'

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