The Meccanica Obscura
On the day of her great, great grandmother's birthday the 10-year-old girl known as Madeline Delphine was presented with an ancient key. The key was like no other that Madeline had ever seen. It was large and simple and grey and felt heavy in her hand. It was no ordinary key, her great, great grandmother explained. It granted the holder access to another time and place. Madeline's great, great grandmother could tell her nothing more other than that the key had not been used for exactly 100 years, on the day of her birth. Madeline held the key in the palm of her hand as those it might be as fragile as a newly laid Robin's blue egg. She knew from her great, great grandmother's tone that this was important...and very serious.
Moments later Madeline found herself ascending the staircase of the heritage house on Rue de l'Abreuvoir. The treads creaked wearily under her feet. Oddly, this sound has always comforted her, made her feel connected to the old villa, but now it made her uneasy...as though the house was tracking her every step...her every breath.
The attic, she knew, was forbidden. It had always been forbidden. For 100 years...to this day. Why was her great, great grandmother telling her now to violate the prohibition and uncover the room's hidden secret?