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The Horror of Crooling Grange

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Author Topic: The Horror of Crooling Grange  (Read 773 times)
unknown
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« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2007, 06:39:52 am »

Happy Halloween Pagan...

This is still tentative... just a first draft, it will start getting creepier in the next chapter. I promise!


The Horror of Crooling Grange


The Wheel

Warren was bare-chested, chopping firewood in the early morning light. He saw the long shadow of a man on horseback moving through the wide gates of Crooling Grange. As the man drew closer Warren recognized him, it was Grayson Mansfield, followed closely by two wagons. He was slightly over six feet, with broad shoulders a narrow waist, brown hair and a full salted beard. Grayson dismounted looking pale and shaken, “That is the most damnable wood. We were nearly eaten alive by the bugs!” 

“Isn’t it though?” Warren replied. Trying hard to hide his innate dislike for the man. The wagons Grayson brought carried fresh timber and building supplies, foodstuffs and other sundry items. 

“Where is Lorelei? I brought something for her.” Just then Jake walked out of the smithy where he had been working, he pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“Jake come over here for a moment, will you?”

“Certainly sir,” Jake strolled over to where they stood.

“Mr. Mansfield, I would like to introduce Jake Corbin. Jake this is Lorelei’s fiancé.” Jake’s eyes got big, his shock was apparent.

“I don’t have time for this.” Mansfield said, ignoring Jake’s outstretched hand.

“Jake, will you get Maria and ask her to bring Lorelei out?”

“A-course sir.”

***

“Lorelei, Lorelei,” Maria called, as she knocked softly on the door. “Are you all right dear?”

“Just a moment,” Lorelei moaned.

The door swung open and Maria saw her standing there half crouched, with her arms crossed over her stomach. Maria reached out a hand and stroked her hair, “You’re so pale, dear.”

“I’m nauseas, my head aches.”

“I’ll have Warren bring the doctor out again.”

“No, no, don’t do that. I’ll be all right.”

“Are you sure, you don’t look well.”

“Yes, please don’t say anything.”

Maria held her shoulders and looked into her eyes, “Do you want me to bring you anything?”

“No… well, maybe some tea. I think I could keep that down.”

“Oh, I nearly forgot. Mansfield is here. He wants to see you.” Lorelei wheeled ran to the bed, kneeled quickly and vomited forcefully into her bedpan. It spattered back up into her face and hair, staining her nightgown with sick-yellowish orange chunks of undigested food.

“Aughhh,” She gagged and threw up again. Lorelei’s eyes beamed fiercely at Maria, “Tell him to go to the devil! I’m not his ****.”

***

Maria walked out into the courtyard, trying hard to hide the smirk on her face, “She won’t come out; she absolutely refuses.  She told me to tell you -- sir.” She said looking meaningfully at Mansfield, “She can’t be bought.”

“Well, we’ll just see about that!” Mansfield said.

Grayson started for the manor, and Warren grabbed his arm. “Leave her be… for now. She’s young, she needs to get used to the idea of becoming a bride.”

“Take your hands off me! Sir.” Mansfield yelled, yanking his arm from Warren’s grasp.

“Horse’s ass,” Mari called, as Mansfield disappeared into the manor. Jake and Warren laughed hysterically.

***

It was late in the afternoon two days after Mansfield’s arrival and Maria was feeding an apple to Ares. Mansfield stormed into the stable. He confronted her with a scowl on his face,” I know you’ve been taking food to her. I am not to be trifled with women.”

“What if I have, is it your intention to starve your future bride to death?"

“I meant to take her before I left for Delhi, but since you have interfered with my plans, I shall have you instead.” He said with a malicious leering grin.

“Pig!” Maria shouted, and spat in his face.

He grabbed her wrists angrily, lifting her arms above her head. He slammed her forcefully against the stall. Ares snorted, rising up on his hind legs, stomped his hooves into the earth and caprioled violently. The hooves stuck the back wall of the stable making a loud rattling bang. A wave of nervous energy went through the other horses. They neighed and snorted moving restlessly about their stalls.

Maria’s deep-auburn eyes were normally warm pools of compassion, but in that desperate moment they were filled with intense fear and loathing. Maria started to scream, and Mansfield clamped a hand over her mouth. One of Mansfield’s huge hands reached for the bodice that bound her overflowing breasts together with leather and lace. Like a Gordian knot the laces confounded his crude attempts to unravel their secrets. Then in frustration with both hands he ripped her bodice open. Maria fought like an alley cat trying desperately to scratch his eyes out. He slapped her roughly. The blow jerked her head to the side nearly knocking her to the ground. Mansfield just smiled as she pleaded with him to let her go.

Mansfield heard a low growling behind him. Realizing his peril he turned quickly.  His face turned ashen white, as he saw a pack of wolves slinking low and quick through the stable doors. They surrounded their prey in a semi-circle their hackles rising, their lips curled back in a ferocious snarl. Their eyes fixed with deadly intent upon their prey. Mansfield spun Maria around and held her out in front of him like a sacrificial lamb. Maria’s eyes stretched wide in shock; she lifted her hands to her mouth in silent terror. Then remembering her rosary she held it firmly, closed her eyes and began to pray.
 
When Jake heard the stifled scream he ran to the edge of the loft, the site that met his eyes filled him with contempt. Anger stirred his blood to violent passion, intent on thrashing Mansfield within an inch of his miserable life. He grabbed his pitchfork and leapt from the loft. He fell squarely over the back of a wolf, driving down with the pitchfork. The pitchfork sliced through the wolfs back pinning it to the dirt floor. It yelped in pain, twisting its body snapping at the wooden handle. Maria screamed, as another wolf leap through the air at Jake. 

Warren was sitting on the steps of the manor smoking his pipe, when he heard screams coming from the barn. He yelled back into manner rousing the men. As he ran passed the woodpile he yanked the axe up out of the stump. Just then he saw Mansfield running from the stable two wolves were rapidly gaining on him. The first wolf grabbed him by the ankle and dragged him down; the other went for his throat. Warren hesitated for just a moment. He heard Mansfield’s screams and catapulted into action. Mansfield got his arm up just in time to keep the wolf from his throat. The wolf sank his fangs deep into his arm. The wolves were shaking their heads and yanking fiercely trying to strip flesh from bone.

The wolves were so intent on their prey; Warren was on top of them before they realized their danger. The axe swung in a viscous arc burying itself in the back of the wolf mauling Mansfield’s arm. The wolf yelped pitifully and fell to the ground nearly chopped in half and paralyzed. The other wolf growled menacingly, but it took to flight when it saw men running up from the manor.

As they enter the barn they saw Jake laying on the ground his hands at the throat of a snarling wolf, desperately trying to keep the beasts from his throat. Maria lifting the pitchfork high drove it deep into the beast, the blood sprayed up into her face. The wolf went limp, and Jake thrust it aside, standing slowly. Maria stabbed the beast again, “Maria its dead,” Jake said, “Ugh, ugh,” Maria grunted as she stabbed it again and again.

Jake grabbed her arms, “Its dead.”

Maria looked up into his face with a scowl, and then her looked softened to a frown, then she through the pitchfork away and began to cry. Jake grabbed a blanket it gently over shoulders and led her from the stables.

***

Mansfield lay on the ground moaning, “Help me,” he cried.

“Let that beastly man bleed to death!” Maria shouted.

“Maria!” Warren said shocked.

Jake whispered something in Warren’s ear. “I should finish what the wolves started, Mansfield,” Warren’s eyes squinted and his hands balled up into fists as he spoke.

“Let me do it, Sir.”

Mansfield groaned. The blood soaked his sleeve to the elbow and blood spilled out over the ground beneath his legs.

“No… Mansfield, I want you and your wagons out of here by tomorrow night, or so help me God, I will kill you myself.”

“You’ll be hearing from my lawyers,” He threatened.

“No, I don’t think I will… If I ever see you -- or hear from you again, I will have you brought up on charges for ****.”

“You can’t prove anything!”

“Well, I’ll just bring the magistrate out, and we’ll see what he has to say about this.”

“This isn’t over,” Mansfield said, gritting his teeth in pain and anger.

“I say we drag ‘im out in the woods and let ‘im bleed tah death.” Jake scowled.

Warren looked at Mansfield’s men and said coldly, “Take him inside before he bleeds to death.”

Mansfield’s men looked disgusted, they lifted him from the ground and carried him into the manor.

“Well, if yah will-nah let me kill him, he’ll need seein’ to.”

“Damn, looks like you could use doctor too.” Warren said.

“Just a scratch, sir.”

***

Warren saddled Ares and rode along the dark lane towards Ormsblood. When he reached the clearing were the crossroads met he saw an overturned carriage.  As he neared the carriage, he saw the horses lying on the ground, entangled in their harnesses. They snorted as he approached and kicked their legs and threw their heads up trying desperately to regain their feet.

Warren realized it was the father’s coach and his heart sank in his chest. The coachman was lying at the edge of the wood, his legs had been shattered, his bloody femur protruded through the woolen pant leg.  Warren went to him lifting his head gently.  He tried to speak, violently coughing up blood. It dribbled slowly down his hairy chin. “The -- black dog,” he sputtered, spewing blood into Warren’s face.

“Don’t try to speak, I’ll bring help,” Warren said, trying to calm him.

His hand reached out and clenched Warren’s coat fiercely; with a desperate look in his eyes he pulled him closer, “The black hound… it charged the horses, spooking them -- overturned the carriage!”

“Lie still,” Warren said, gently lowering his head to the ground and then wiping the wet blood from his face with his handkerchief.

Warren went to the shattered remains of the carriage.  There inside lay Lord and Lady Pierson on what had once served as the carriage’s ceiling. He went to his mother and lifted her head and it rolled loose and sickeningly in his hands, her neck broken.  Tears brimmed in his burning eyes and a wave of nausea assailed him; the gorge rose in his throat. He choked it back forcefully.

To his shock he heard father stir, he groaned softly, his eyes opening slowly.  His head moved in Warren’s direction, but Warren could tell his father didn’t really see him through those glassy eyes. After a heart-wrenching moment of silence, a smile lit the elderly gentleman’s face, “Ah, Warren, always the gallant, I am afraid you have arrived to late -- to save us, son,” he said, wincing in pain.  “I’m sorry, I was so hard on you, my boy -- forgive me.”

Unable to hold the tears back any longer, they flowed down Warren’s face, “There’s nothing to forgive, Father.”

“You are too kind -- before I breathe my last -- I must charge you with a solemn duty.  You must promise to look after Lorelei for me… she loves you, you know.”

“I give you my word, sir.”

“There is one more thing… I never told you -- because to me you are my son…  after Lorelei, your sainted mother could no longer bear children, Warren -- son -- you are adopted.”

His words drifted slowly off into the endless night. The light drained from his father’s eyes and he was gone. Lord Pierson had held on stubbornly to life until he could extract one last promise from Warren, a promise to insure the safety and welfare of his only daughter. With Warren’s vow Lord Pierson’s will gave way and his soul silently traveled through the thin veil between the worlds.

Warren’s heart ached. He could never have imagined the immense depths of love and affection that had lain hidden in his heart for his parents, only the pain of their untimely deaths revealed it. Warren’s mind swirled in confusion he was not a Pierson! Lorelei was not his sister!

Why had fate chosen this terrible moment of grief to reveal this world shattering truth? His life had been one of overwhelming guilt and self-recrimination because of his feelings for Lorelei. Fierce anger arose in a relentless tide and then subsided in a cleansing wave of understanding and forgiveness.

Then the urgency of his mission pressed itself upon his mind; there was no time now to grieve.  As he road through the dark canopy of trees he could have sworn he saw red eyes following in the darkness. The sensation of being watched was overwhelming. He heard the snapping of twigs, a hound baying and barking like it had caught the scent of prey.

Unreasonable fear overtook him. He spurred his horse to a full gallop; looking over his shoulder again and again. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief, when at last he saw the lights of Ormsblood. Shaking off his fears and regaining his composure he headed for the magistrate’s office.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2007, 02:19:05 am by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2007, 11:11:21 pm »

Nice work!  Segues nicely from the earlier sexuality into the dark, downward slide of horror.

I'm guessing it will become a werewolf/shapeshifting story eventually.

Happy Halloween! 
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unknown
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« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2007, 12:50:20 pm »

Thanks Rachel

Happy Halloween
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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