Amy tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear as she stuffed her backpack full of supplies for the class field trip. After weeks of lectures on archaeological excavation techniques, she was thrilled to finally get some hands-on experience unearthing fragments of history buried just beneath their feet.

“Don’t forget your sun hat,” Rolene said, passing Amy the wide-brimmed hat. Her friend was always looking out for her, reminding Amy of important details she tended to overlook in her excitement.

“Thanks, Rol.” Amy smiled as she slipped the hat on. “I can’t believe Professor Kern is taking us all the way to Fitzwilliam Mansion. Just think of what secrets we might uncover in that old place!”

Rolene nodded eagerly. “The mansion dates back to the late 1700s. Who knows what artifacts we could find that shed light on how the aristocracy lived back then.

” Amy’s imagination swirled with possibilities as she shouldered her backpack. What long-lost treasures and stories might be locked away in the soil, just waiting to be discovered after over two centuries? Her blood sang at the thought of making findings that could rewrite history books. Today would be one to remember, she was certain of it. The bus rumbled up the long dirt drive flanked by dense woodlands. As the mansion came into view through the trees, Amy gasped. Fitzwilliam was even more impressive than the photographs had conveyed, a sandstone marvel surrounded by lush greenery bursting with color. Yet it also seemed lonely, as if cut off from the modern world for too long.

When they disembarked, Amy could sense the weight of centuries pressing down on the ruins. Moss crept up crumbling walls and vines crawled in through shattered windows. A sense of forgotten history shrouded the grounds, and Amy felt a strange pull inward as if something was beckoning her from the shadows of the past.

“Stay together, class,” Professor Kern called out. “We’ll begin by mapping the foundations before starting excavations.”

The others moved off to unpack surveying equipment from the bus. But Amy lingered, gaze fixed on a towering Rose window whose stained glass was now only shards of color glinting among wreckage.

“Amy, you coming?” Rolene touched her arm.

Amy started. “Be right there, Rol. I just feel…drawn here, as if this place wants to tell me its secrets.”

Rolene shot the mansion an uneasy glance. “Well, we better get to work so you can learn them. But watch your step – who knows how stable things are in there after two centuries.”

With a final look at the beckoning ruins, Amy followed her friend to join the others. What mysteries did Fitzwilliam hold waiting to be unearthed? She was determined to find out., Amy took her surveying tools and began charting the dimensions of a crumbling wing.

Soon her attention was drawn to a section of wall poking out from the leaf litter. Brushing away debris revealed intricate carvings nearly worn smooth by time. But one face remained clear – high cheekbones, a strong jaw, hair cascading in waves… (to be continued)

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