tagChain StoriesF5: Heirlooms of a Wicked Time

F5: Heirlooms of a Wicked Time


F5:Heirlooms of a Wicked Time

(Author's note: This story is an entry into FAWC (Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge), a collaborative competition among Lit authors. FAWC is not an official contest sponsored by Literotica, and there are no prizes given to the winner. Every story for this FAWC begins with the exact same line. Where it goes from there is up to the author.)

* * * *

Upon the table lay three items: a handkerchief, a book, and a knife.

As Philip looked around he saw that they were the only things in the room that was not covered in a thick layer of dust. Those three items and a manilla envelop, leaned against the rust red cushion of a tall backed chair. When he saw the envelop he swallowed and his hands began to shake. He dreaded opening it. He knew already what it had to say, but the fear of what else it might hold was nearly crippling. If he didn't read it, then somehow this night--- well it wouldn't be happening.

But of course it had already begun. It began the moment his grandfather's lawyer, Mr. Donald Redburn, chained the front doors closed behind him. It in fact began days ago. It began when the old man breathed his last rattly breath and left this curse for his grandson to carry.

The family curse.

How silly that had always sounded. Philip had laughed with his older brothers about it. He had heard his father, Jackson Mires, joke about how it was just an old practical joke that the men in the family, had for generations, played up the next oldest male. A joke was what Philip had though it too--- till the curse took those men from Philop's life.

His father? Gone, far too young. His older brothers? Gone, even younger. Now his grandfather, also had passed, but not young. Oh no, he was anything but young. That was part of the curse they said. You would live to see the passing of decades, watching everything you love fall to dust and dross.

As he looked at the items on the table he knew without touching them that the knife had dark stains upon the blade, the book would smell of smoke. The handkerchief? It was said to be the most damning of the three heirlooms. They said it held the tears of---

"Nonsense and rubbish!"

Grabbing up the yellowed envelope Philip ripped off the top with a cloud of papery, fibrous dust. Inside he saw the documents he had heard about. One was new, a copy of the older, said to have been commissioned by his grandfather when he received the original and it tore. Philip reached for the newer copy, but stopped. For some reason he wanted to hold the brittle, too often folded, original in his hand first. It slipped out with a whisper. "No."

Looking around, Philip peered into the shadowy light of the room to try and see what had made the noise he had heard. The ancient house was not quiet, it moved in the operatic winds that sang across this rocky moor, groaning and creaking; drafts moved the curtains in little puffs that changed when the wind shifted note and tone. But none of those sounds was what Philip had just heard. A deep moan so low as to be said to have never been heard but for the chill that settled into his spine. The cold feeling of a watching awareness the made his marrow weak, his bones ache at their joints.

The paper was not paper he noticed, but velum. Fully illuminated, with edges of gold and red, the document was both property deed, noble title and a signatory history of the family Mires. The first name at the bottom was Viscount Orthallen of the Mire. His script was a fluid flourish of darkest ink.

Every name after that was in dark brown. Scratched into the page with the tip of a very sharp pen. It gave the signatures a spidery look, and the ink? Blood? Well, that was the family legend.

Looking at the table with its three relics of the dark times Philip wanted to scoff. He wanted to leave them there to gather dust like the rest of this ancestral pile. But he could not. He tossed the envelop to the table not caring that he scattered the relics of his family.

Sitting down in the high back chair, unconcerned for what the dust did to his clothes, Philip sighed in disgust. He checked his wrist watch, stunned to see that only moments had passed. It was going to be such a long night. Chained into this dark house, till the light of dawn touched the front door. That was what the Will had said he had to do. If he did not he lost all access to the hereditary accounts. The 'Old Money' as they called it. His eyes went to the grime rimmed windows, but they felt like eyes looking into the room.

Looking down, Philip noticed the book sitting next to his foot. Picked up the tome he held it for a long time, just feeling the leather covering, the tarnished silver corner edges, the real silk marker, the gilded outer-paper. A finer book he had never held he thought as he ran a finger across the old family monogram. It rested under the ornately scripted title. When he finally opened the cover the smell of old smoke stirred his nose.

He began to read almost against his will, this history of his family. He didn't need to do this to get access to the money but he felt compelled to. He had to follow the pattern of his father's father and all the others before that back to that viscount. Back to the time when Orthallen, the youngest son, of a youngest son saved the life of a Nobleman from a mob by hiding him in the feted swamps to the south. When the King's knights arrived to find the manor house in flames, and the lady of the estate being raped, her children slain, the Knights violently butchered all of the estate's peasants.

All of them.

Even the family of Orthallen.

When he dragged himself from the marsh the nobleman learned of his saviors loss. Here was a man that had given everything to save his noble self. He would reward this man. Reward him richly, so that he might forget about his losses.

But no youngest son of a youngest son should be a Noble.

Orthallen was sick with the loss of his wife, bitter, and so bitter a pill did sit upon his tongue that he took what he was given to him without question, even as he gnawed inside with envy for more. Revenge for more. For what was his, as he saw it, by right.

They deeded him the marsh.

That was Orthallen's reward for saving this nobleman's life. A swamp--- and the title to go with it. Even that was a snub, a joke upon the head of this youngest son. His envy would gnaw its way deep into his bones in the years to follow.

As the sun failed Philip lit the kerosine lamp he had brought with him, and continued to read. He learned that Orthallen married, fathered several daughters and one son. They dwell happily in a small estate given to him to preside over,near his swamp lands. Life would have been happy if not for that burning desire to gather what was his to him.

Then the offense was given, one night on the road near their house.

It was not the son, Adrian,that gave the offense to the manor lord it was the oldest born daughter. Elbreth, called Elbreth the Lovely, by the young men of the estate.

Called "The Witch of the Mire" after she started the lord's horse, causing it to throw the manor lord, into a muddy ditch. The irony of that day was not lost on many.

The father's gain came from getting the nobleman soaking wet and muddy, the daughter's loss from the same.

He had her flogged.

No longer was she called, the Lovely. The whips had bit cruelly into her young flesh, taking more that their allotted bits of skin. They took her beauty that day, and her innocence was lost under the nobleman's guards. When she was half dead, they chained her to a post and tried to take the other half. Long into the night her screams were heard, they filled the surrounding lands. They reached into every nook and cranny.

They reached her father, Orthallen. His guardsmen held him from going to her aid.

They reached her brother, Adrian. His huntsmen held him to the ground to stop him from going.

The screams at last reached the ears though of one that could help. Would be happy to help.

With the coming dawn, when at last her family was allowed to go to bring her body back, she was not there. No the chains that had held her were still locked, the cuffs dripped thick blood. But she was gone.

Philip rubbed his own wrists at the thought of that.

Putting down the book, he got to his feet and went to find the supplies that the lawyer, Mr. Donald Redburn, had said where here. The kitchen held nothing but cans of soup and bread, a feast no doubt before the dawn they would seem. The pantry held dust and more dust, but there he found what he felt the sudden need for. Wine.

The bottles were as old as everything else seemed but they were clean. As if caring hands had come in here and wiped them, knowing this need would be upon him. The corkscrew was sitting in plain site, also cleaned. He didn't question this. It was as it should be of course. The wine reek greeted him as the cork gave up it's stubborn resistance. It should have been soured given the date on the label but it was only just past its prime. Carrying it back to the table he picked up the relics and restored them to their proper place. Philip put the folded copy of his land deed and title on the top of the envelope and picked back up the book.

As he turned the page he stopped. Upon the top corner was a fingerprint. It was clearly visible but was a dark brown color. He didn't need to lift it to his nose to tell that it was old blood. Not that he could have smelled it anyway. The book truly reeked of old smoke.

He kept reading.

Upon the pages of this gold bound historum he leaned that the eldest daughter Elbreth was soon seen again. Upon the moor, at twilight by the swamp. Her clothes tattered, draped in the sick growths that flourished in the deep heart of the marsh. When the farmers called out to her she fled.

They told Orthallen what they had seen. He had them whipped for their lies. They begged for mercy , all the while insisting that what they had seen was true. Their words hardened Orthallen's heart but weakened Adrian's. Desperate for word of his sister he fled the scene and rode to the swamp. His years hunting boars near it had made him familiar with it's edges but none ventured into it's dark, wet heart. But that day, that day he dared.

Ever deeper ever farther he slogged his way, till mud claimed almost all that he carried. Till it nearly took his life from him a dozen time. Still he trudged onward, ever calling out his sister's name. The fen birds cawing back their laughter as they arose from his path. When hope was lost, when light was lost Adrian saw a hut. Just a simple dwelling of mud and grass but it was the first sign of human life he had seen in hours.

There was no door. He simply walked up and looked into it. The inside was a shadowy murk of smokes, foul smells and then he saw twin eyes looking back at him from the darkness. One set was similar to his own dark blue but the others? They bore more in common with a hunting hawk than anything human. They moved out of his awareness and vision though as the first pair moved into the light, bring the dirty face of his sister into view.

Philip read the account of how his ancestor tried to talk his older sibling into returning with him. How she had refused then recanted. She said she would come back to him. But there were conditions.

She would be able to come and go at any time. Her presence would never be know by their father. She now hated him. She said that his saving the nobleman's life had placed a fell mark upon them. The man had been meant to die that day and their father's actions had angered The Fates. Angered the spirit's of the swamp as well that they had been used to hide the man from the Hand of Fate. That the swamps had then been given by that very man to his rescuer was seen by the spirits of this place as an unforgivable insult.

Her whipping had been but the first of the dire days that her father's decedents would suffer. There was far worse to come.

He brother, justifiably, believed her mad. He tried to grab her, to somehow drag her back through those endless miles of swamp against her will, but she slipped through his fingers. Laughing she ran from him, till his feet splashed into the edge of the waters.

Then he was driven into the muck by an enormous weight. His mouth filled with mud he tried to fight but a child would have fared better against an armored knight. When he was half drowned he was dragged from the murky,midnight black waters and tossed like a broken child's toy into the mud before the hut. A fiendish laughter assailed him as he gasped for breath then clawed hands were tearing at his clothes, shredding them from him.

Then they stopped. He heard whispering then even more laughter. Then the claws were back, not rending fabric but holding him down. His sister's face appeared above him.

"I have made a bargain with the spirit's of this place. They want something from you. From you and from all of Father's line to come. Vengeance they will take. They will take it but,--- if something else is freely given, they will spare the children of your seed."

As he tried to fight what was being done to him his sweet sister, called the Lovely, called the Witch, removed the last scraps of his clothes and, taking him in hand, stroked him to hardness. To his horror he watched, unable to resist, as she mounted him. While he protested and she moaned he was ridden, ridden to a pleasure he had never felt before. Not in the arms of the tavern whores, nor in between the sweet thighs of a nobleman's widow, from a nearby estate, had he ever been taken such. He cried out for her to stop, he begged his dear, dear Elbreth to not do this. He pleaded with her---

---never to stop.

Lost in his passions, Adrian began to trust up into her warmth. He saw her smile as he gave into this carnal act, this incestuous plague upon the honor of their house.

"That's it, dear Adrian. Given willingly," Elbreth said, her voice filled with laughter. "He is close."

Suddenly she was not there but in her place he looked upon a horror so vile his mind reeled back from the image. Screaming, he fought the hands that held him. No longer claws but now the delicate hands of his dear sister Elbreth. He should have been able to pull away easily but her strength was that of the ancient cypress trees, hard as willow roots, as undeniable as the sucking mud of the swamps. She held him easily as this monster of the mire took it's lust filled due from his body. His flesh rebelled on him then and hardened unto like column of diamond. He screamed when the sagging flesh of the horror settled more heavily upon his chest and the foulest stench of his life approached his face.

"You will love me brother. You, and all that follow you, till the end of days."

Adrian looked into the face above him in mind screaming horror as his sister's sweet voice came from this ungodly things mouth. Her dark, sky blue eyes looked down upon his own out of a face that was born in the deep murky abyss of rotting Sargasso seas and pulled steaming from a feted womb of the deadest night.

It was nightmare given life and it was also his sister. His Elbreth. His beloved, the daughter of his father was this monster?

That could not be his simpering mind chanted in insistence

She was Elbreth, the Lovely. The Lovely!

He cried that out when the flood of his desire emptied out of him. Panting he lay his eyes clouded with mud and washed with tears. He tried to not listen as a slurping sound began near his groin. The feel of a rasping tongue though was too much to much for his mind to hide from. He opened his eyes and looked down.

Philip laid the book upon his lap and sipped at his wine. He didn't even question that the glass was refilled. That there was a warm fire now burning under the mantle. Looking out the clean windows, across the singing moor towards the distant swamp he puzzled, for only moments, about the massive bonfire he saw lighting it from within. It could only be a huge fire as the ancient cypress trees were as black as silhouette and they danced in the winds.

He turned back to the book.

Philip gave little attention to the next three pages as they dwell one the sudden death of Orthallen. Brutally murdered in his sleep with his own knife, this very knife in fact. His other children passing from the world so young was not remarked upon by the people of that age. Many died young. The violence of their deaths was seen as unusual, but hardly uncommon. Adrian gave no comment upon it save that he would never forget his sisters. About his father he made no words. Many think he never forgave his father for what was done to Elbreth.

The only direct link to the new Viscount Adrian Mires after that Philip could find was the faded brown signature upon the vellum before him.

The next ten pages Philip thumbed through. He had no wish to read about how the family rose to power, only to loose it again and again. How a direct male line had always seemed to be secured, but how horribly the other members of the family would perish. All taken from this life far to young. The first mention of "The Curse" appears somewhere in this part.

Also the silly tales of the family estates being haunted begin to appear at that same time. Shadowy figures in tattered rags were said to wander the hall in the hours between twilight and dawn. Often seen near the main bedroom.

Wet footprints, upon the stone floors, were spoken of. There is even a engraving plate showing a hall with a trail of bare footprints leading to a large door.

As Philip turned the last page a folded piece of paper fell out into his lap. He picked it up and to his disgust saw that it was torn from a bible. A passage was circled in that brown ink.

Proverbs 5:1-5

My son,pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to Sheol.

Under it a shaky hand wrote something. The words looked spidery Philip had to hold the candle closer to it to see, the hot wax threatened to burn his skin as he tipped it closer still.

"You are already lost." In the same brown ink.

Picking up his cigar Philip rolled it between his lips, his teeth just brushing the end as he sucked in the brandy soaked smoke. He turned this scrap of scripture in his hand,wondering if he should put it back, then winced as a sharp foil edge sliced into his thumb. Letting it fall, Philip just did manage to catch the book as it threatened to fall from his lap. He sighed and went to set the precious thing down on the table.

He didn't notice that his bloody thumb left a perfect red print upon the very same page where he had seen just such a fingerprint. No, he didn't notice that, for at that moment he saw the lacy handkerchief laying in a tumble by the leg of the table. Picking it up Philip brought it to his nose and inhaled the heady perfume that soaked the bright white cloth. The wonderfully feminine scent of it aroused him as it always did. He smiled thinking of the far sweeter scents that the lady carried with her. Looking up at the master bedroom, Philip put down his cigar next to the old family book, leaving it to smolder its last moments away, and he got to his feet.

Philip started to go up to bed when, at the last moment, he remembered the document he had to sign. With a frustrated sigh he picked up his pen, dipped it into the ink, and signed his name there under his grandfather's shaky scrawl. He shook his hand wincing at how painfully his thumb was suddenly hurting again. Kissing away the blood, he laid the knife back on the table,then Philip picked up his candle and in it's circle of light made his way through the house and up the stairs.

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