tagErotic HorrorThe Blackmere Society Ch. 02

The Blackmere Society Ch. 02

byRavynsLand©

And so marched onward the hunters of Blackmere...

It is 1897, the twenty-seventh of May. My name is Brialla Wren, and I am the newest member of the Blackmere Society, a hidden cadre of hunters consisting of creatures that would be feared, would be dreaded, were there not a far greater evil lurking beneath us.

I am awoken to the sound of clamouring beneath my generously-appointed room on the upper floors of Blackmere Manor, though the sound is somewhat indistinct to my ears - voices can be heard, but muffled. Movement. Something falling? It is difficult to tell. My excited state of mind (fostered by a night alone in my room, lulled to sleep by the heavy downfall of rain and my own sin) leads me to wonder if the worst may have happened, if hunter may have become hunted in the short span of time wherein I joined the Society. I pray it is not the case.

With my robes still unwashed after a long journey, I search through the small luggage I carried with me to withdraw a simple shift of white linen, throwing it over my bare form and leaving my golden hair entirely loose. If there is, indeed, some form of calamity happening in the rooms below, I cannot be taking too much time to make myself presentable, though I might desire it. Rather, I find myself digging back through the luggage, to the bottom of it, and the false flap of darkened leather within it that hides a smooth, cylindrical shaft of flexible white wood, about three feet in length. I draw it out of its container, taking only a moment to run my fingertips along the intricate carvings that give the rod its power. It won't be able to discharge as much power as a proper spell might, but at the moment I don't have time for a proper spell.

Hurrying barefoot from my room, I scurry down the long staircases leading towards the bottom floor. There's another crash, louder now, and this time I hear shouting - a man's voice, then another's, I think. My fingers tighten around the rod as I try to focus on the first damaging outburst of sorcery that comes to my mind, preparing myself for the worst, assuming that those foul things beneath us have found us... and decided to end us before we complicate matters for them. I have no way of knowing how intelligent the beasts may be. For the moment, I must assume the most perilous thing I can.

"What's happened?!" I cry out as I rush down the carpeted steps, almost tripping on the last one and skidding to a stop, rod in front of me, in the common room where I was introduced last night. I'm greeted by no sight of blood or flame or carnage, however, merely... eggs. Eggs everywhere. All over the floor.

"This is what happens when Erasmus tries to make breakfast," I hear Edgar's voice behind me, his thick scottish accent unmistakeable. "I did say I'd make it, but no - ye had to go your own way, didn't ye?"

I glance from Edgar back to the mess, tracing the scattered heaps of different sorts of eggs to not one, but three fallen pans, making a trail into a tiled alcove beyond the common area that ends up being larger than expected as I wander into it, spacious and lit as much by the window leading outside as the chandelier in the room beyond. Wide, black and white stone tiles have taken a fair brunt of mess on their own, with various spices and yet another egg (this one raw) splattered along their hard surfaces. At the far end of what I now assume is the kitchen, is Erasmus himself, the lycanthrope having donned a neat leather apron as he sets himself to the task of preparing breakfast for the fourth time.

"...Why?" I say softly, glancing from Mr. Grey to the line of fallen eggs and pans, then back to the white-haired man.

"He gets frustrated when it doesn't turn out right," Edgar whispers into my ear from behind, grinning before wandering off, taking a bite of something. Before he leaves my sight I see something in his hand - what appears to be a sausage.

"If I have to eat beans and tomatoes one more time," I hear the werewolf snarl quietly, not turning to face me. "The next morning's breakfast will be that scot."

I try to hide a small grin, placing one hand on Mr. Grey's broad shoulder; lightly, so as not to agitate him any further. "Why don't you let me help? I assume Anathema doesn't do much cooking?"

"Nor eating. Nor does the Wraith," Erasmus growls, slowly removing his hand from the pan's handle and letting me take over. "Shame that of the two women in the Society, neither would know how to cook."

"If you say a single word about cooking being a woman's work, I'll have quite a mind to let you continue this little experiment on your own," I say coolly, glancing back at the werewolf. "You're fortunate that I learned how to use magic to prepare a meal long ago."

"Magic?" the man grunts.

"Yes. It turns out that the primary reagent to forming the necessary gylphs..." I rummage through a pantry, then drawer after drawer before finding what I'm looking for - a small box of salt. Taking a bit of it between my fingers, I sprinkle two small runes within the pan, which elicits a blast of smoke and humming sound as the mangled eggs begin to form themselves into something edible. "...Happens to be found in just about every kitchen in England."

I feel Eramus lay his hand against my shoulder, as I had his, though his hand is so much larger. He pulls close behind me, perhaps looking over me to see my work, perhaps something else, but I can feel the intense warmth of his chest behind me. It's exciting and invasive all at once, causing me to freeze and swallow, my hand unsteady as I turn off the gas stove.

"Impressive," he growls quietly, "perhaps you'll be useful after all."

"If you are quite done molesting the newcomer, werewolf-" a voice comes from outside the kitchen, causing me to squeak and tense.

"I did no such-!"

"Save your lies, dog," the voice says, followed by a soft chuckle. I slither out from in front of the hulkingly tall Erasmus to see the speaker - Anathema, not that I couldn't recognize the sheer midnight in her velvet voice. "To deny that she looks as delectable in her underthings to you as she does to me should be far too... dishonorable, for your breed."

My eyes widen as I remember the shift I'm in. How scandalous I must seem! Awake and barely-clad on the first morning of my stay at Blackmere. "I was making, erm... breakfast, that is all- just- eggs-"

"Already has you doing his woman's work, does he? Shall you wash his clothes, next?" Anathema's grin is damningly wide, too intense alongside her feral scarlet eyes that I cannot tell whether she's serious, or means to make a joke of me. "When you two are finished with... 'breakfast,' come find me. The God in Bondage has given me his instructions. We have a rift to close."

I swallow hard as she slithers away into the manor, and I find myself wondering how she ambulates so easily in the daylight, weak as it is. A question that would be answered later. Glancing back up towards Erasmus, I give the lycanthrope a weak, shaky smile. "I'll go gather my things. And please make no assumptions that I'll have anything to do with..." I gesture to the pans and malformed eggs scattered across the common area, "...any of that."

The werewolf sticks his dining fork into the heap of food I made, crams it into his mouth, and only grunts.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Half an hour passes further before the rest of the Society, along with myself, stand at the entryway of the staircase leading to the basement. My robes have been gathered, cleaned, and donned, my hair fixed in a low ponytail and my pointed hat in place, rod at my side. Anathema and the Wraith come as I saw them yesterday, reliant on tools of no sort, while Mr. Commons carries a rather compact luggage at his side, a simple scarf around his neck, the only addition to his brown suit. Erasmus is the only one among our number who discarded something in his preparation for battle - his vest now missing from around his broad shoulders.

"Must we go down there once more?" I say softly, trying not to let my voice shake. Edgar turns to face me, a serious expression on his face.

"Only if ye have no desire to walk to the rift, lass."

"Might we take a carriage? A motor car, perhaps?"

I get no answer this time, as Mr. Commons of Dumfriesshire begins to descend the stairs into the prison below. Ana follows him, then Erasmus, leaving myself and the Wraith on the main floor. I glance to her, pleadingly, and her cold gaze meets my own.

For a moment, I hear that soft hum, silent enough that I fear I may have imagined it in my nervous state, but it's there - a quiet buzz as that of someone whispering into a tin can, indistinct and ghastly. Again, her lips do not move. "I feared you might say as such," I sigh, swallowing the lump in my throat as I began to descend behind the others. The Wraith follows.

"Good... good... you've come..." I recognize that foul voice, and it chills me. "Now go, my hunters... find your prey..."

From the yew and iron prison that holds the God in Bondage, soft mist begins to seep and extend, reaching out with cold, ghostly fingers, swirling, grasping out for us, enveloping us. The others - with the exception of the Wraith - appear as uncomfortable as I do with the process as the mist envelops and swallows us. I'm blinded by the all-consuming opacity, squeezing my eyes shut and holding them shut for a long time, trying not to shake. Again I find myself wondering; if I am this terrified of that strange thing which is supposed to be the benefactor of the Blackmere Society, how then shall I be able to stand against the true evil with a steady heart?

"Brialla?"

I squeeze my eyes shut harder in response, then feel a gloved hand on my shoulder - followed by a gentle press of a cool, soft figure against mine. "Brialla, we're here."

Even Anathema's cold, lithe arms wrapped around me bring a comfort now, dispelling to some small degree the fear of the mist. I must put my faith in my comrades, no matter how concerning they may seem. It's a few more moments before I open my eyes, and find the lighting no better than it was in the basement where the entity is kept. The room we are in now, however, is far less well-kept, with pale light leaking in through shuttered, ramshackle windows and a rotting roof.

Ancient, earthy gray brick on the walls has now given way to flat, light gray concrete, and it is clear to me that we are in another place entirely, spirited away by the God in Bondage, sent off to where our mission is to take place. I tighten my fingers around the runed rod in my hand until my knuckles creak, my eyes adjusting to the pale light as I take in my surroundings. The Society is with me, looking far more alert and prepared than I, but in this room is also a bed, or more of a cot. The sheets are ripped into tatters, the lone pillow black in the center from filth, laid upon without being cleaned for who knows how long.

Most jarring to me is the drawings upon those flat, blank walls, if indeed they could be called drawings at all. Written perhaps in coal or perhaps in something worse, life-sized but of a childlike level of detail, are what seem to be people - their heads round and featureless, their bodies vertical rectangles with no further embellishment. They crowd and overlap over one another, legion in their number, each staring without a face and surrounding every corner of the room. At the opposite wall is a barred gate, as that of a penitentiary. "God in heaven," I whisper, my eyes widening. "This place is... unholy."

"Tell as much to the patients, should we find any; I'm sure you'd find them a receptive ear," Mr. Commons says, taking a deep breath of his own. "This is a hospital for the quite deranged, if I've ever seen one. One of the greatest shames to science that Britain can muster. Mr. Grey, do you think you could do something about those bars?"

Erasmus nods, shouldering past me and making his way to the cell door, locking his large hands firmly around the bars and beginning to flex, a low, rumbling growl booming out from his chest as I watch the muscles in his back slowly contract, then swell, as if some unnatural foulness is powering them. Veins pop against his skin as the lycanthrope tests his strength against solid iron, but the sound of the man's strained grunts is soon followed by the hideous squeal of tortured metal, the bars bending, then snapping apart, falling to the stained white tile beneath. "Done."

I blink in amazement as the man squeezes himself through the bars, out into a greater chamber beyond, though it appears to be in much greater disrepair than the cell we entered through. Crumbling concrete has rendered many rooms into one, allowing me to see into a lobby area, several more cells, and what appears to be a chamber for... "treatment." More cots, these ones equipped with rotting leather straps and quite a few more rust-colored blotches of dried blood, are aligned in a row along with many more strange apparatus and large machines, their purposes unknown to me.

"I will never cease to be appalled at the evils mankind can achieve in the name of science," I hear Edgar grumble as he walks in front of me, bold enough to enter the place outside the cell. "To think of the suffering these people went through..."

"I find it pleasantly melancholy," Ana coos, and I realize that she's slipped out ahead of me without my notice. Too silent, or too quick, I am uncertain. The Wraith is nowhere to be seen. "No plans to build a pleasure garden here, of course, nothing of that sort... but I must confess that the atmosphere has a sobering intensity."

I find nothing so sobering about this place's atmosphere, nor any other aspect of it, but it does bring an idea to my mind as I scurry out of the cell to be nearer to the other hunters. "But what does this mean about the rifts? If one has manifested in what is already a place of such great anguish, then..."

"Then it means the opening of the rifts is not random, aye," Edgar interrupts. "Quite correct, lass. Even if what it means for us has yet to be seen."

I keep close to the rest of the group, clutching tightly to my staff as we begin to move through the asylum, searching for the rift, or some other sign of the unnatural. I almost startle out of my skin when I see a ghastly shape shifting through the crumbling, filthy walls before I realize that it is the Wraith - that this ghost is on our side, rather than some tormented apparition, a wailing remnant of the mad. I don't know how I'll react, not truly, when whatever darkness lies beneath this place comes for us. Unfortunately, I soon learn... when the whispering begins.

"Soulless, fearless, hopeless..."

"He rises..."

"All is one in Him..."

"Heaven for all who strangle within their Hell..."

I swallow hard, squeezing my eyes shut for a moment. The sound comes from all around, repeating phrases, some I understand, many I cannot. Stuff of horror and nightmare and madness. An unholy speech in a language that cannot be heard by my ears. "I-it's... I..."

"I heard it, too," Erasmus growls. "Show yourself, beast."

"To what eyes?"

"To what eyes?"

"To what eyes?"

"To what eyes?"

The words become concrete, fading from whispers to a single voice, feminine, but sharply accented by some implacable cadence, a sort of ethereal croon, half speech, half threnody. I whirl around, holding my rod out in front of me, and the rest of the Society, too, turns to face the source of the voice - a lone woman, naked, her skin as scarlet as a rose, wet from the dew of a dark, gray morning. Black of hair and naked as the day she was born, her eyes are empty, crackling with a hollow energy as if controlled by another mind entirely.

"What are you, creature?" Edgar says firmly, his fingers tightening around his case.

"I speak with the mouth of the Bleeding King," the woman whispers, her posture straight, arms loose at her sides. The whispering around me grows louder now, almost deafening, maddening, screaming, though it no longer forms words - only those dark, wretched phrases, those that cannot be made by this lovely, incarnadine mouthpiece. "The world beneath swells and shall soon reach forth to take you. It grows hungry. We grow hungry."

"We know a thing or two about hunger," a wide, fanged grin spreads across Anathema's face, and she glances towards Erasmus, who smirks back. "So take us if you dare."

"Fools. You-" the woman strains her muscles without moving, her eyes widening, still mad with that crackling, chaotic energy. "-YoU dEFy tHat wHIcH yoU caNnOt COMprEhenD-"

Whispering becomes a bellow, and the red-skinned woman's arms stretch out wide. The walls of the asylum begin to distort, almost shimmering, as if viewed from underwater. Under dark water. I stumble backwards, almost tripping as I feel the tile beneath me swell and lurch, as if a great quake is beneath my feet and my feet alone, sending me rocking back and forth. I feel my back hit a wall, the world around me still squirming like I'm standing on the deck of an ocean liner in a wild tempest, and my eyes turn up... and I see it, then.

Never in my life have I seen something so horrendous. I am not suited for this. I do not belong in this society.

"RUUL SHA-LOI JJHAHTHNAARAH, KAX THEI COVFEFE SHUULAARR-" the choir of whispers become a single voice, a roar, as the rift opens beneath and around us. Hellish lights from the walls and ceiling taint my vision as I lay my eyes on that horror that should never be witnessed. Pure wickedness, something beyond evil, something that makes my heart beat in my chest so hard that it feels it might burst entirely.

This thing, whatever it is, is tall - taller than the tallest building, yet it fits under the roof with us; clad in endless robes of soiled bandages, blood and worse things staining it so thoroughly that the whiteness beneath can scarcely be spied by any less than the harshest scrutiny. A great hood of tattered cloth shows no face underneath, merely more vomitous wrappings. Between the folds of soiled fabric are glimpses of flesh, or... parts... I see an eye, teeth, perhaps something resembling the wet flesh of a tongue, but nothing goes where it belongs. This entire beast is scrambled, its unholy body a hilarious mockery of anything that may be considered godly.

I cannot bear to look. I turn, attempting to flee, but find no avenue with which to do so, my feet giving out beneath me as I fail to keep my balance. Grasping, ripping hands reach out from the floor and the walls, through the ghostly splits in reality - the rift, it must be the rift - tugging and tearing at the lower folds of my robes. They are everywhere, coming from every crevasse in the hideously bulging walls and floor, every dark place where the eye cannot see has become a home for foul fingers. I scream, falling to my backside as my rod tumbles from my grip, and try to crawl away on my back, kicking at each seeking, grasping paw as they try to take me, pull me... somewhere.

Around me I can see the rest of the Society rushing into action, fighting for their lives. Anathema zips to and fro like a deadly, blood-drenched hummingbird, severed fingers and bits of cloth forming a whirlwind around her as her vampyric speed turns her into an instrument of death. Mr. Commons holds a curious form of rifle, something pilfered from that strange luggage perhaps, churning forth round upon round of bright flashes. The Wraith moves unimpeded and quite unfazed, that fur-lined bow in her hands casting forth a volley of ghastly arrows. And Erasmus... I see him for only a moment as I scramble for my life, but for the first time I see his true form. The beast within him, enormous and white, a primal creature that should terrify me were it not for the things I've just witnessed.

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