Chapter Two:

 

I grew up with an appeal for the paranormal; magic, spirits, abnormal animals, strange occurrences that had no explanations.  My grandmother was from the old country, northern Germany to be exact, and she would always talk about the spirits.  She always said that she was attuned to the spirit world, never thinking of it as a burden but more of a gift.  She would go on and on about the spirits of a house or the spirits of the dead.  I remember many times seeing her in the morning leaving a crust of bread on the hearth as an offering.  My mother never paid much attention to her stories about spirits because she had heard them all her life.  My mother would go about her day, and never let my grandmother’s beliefs or rituals bother her at all, but my father thought it was complete rubbish.  Whenever she began to talk about the paranormal he would politely remove himself from the room and usually find some chore for me to begin at that moment.  I can remember late night hushed arguments between my mother and father about how he thought my grandmother’s stories were affecting his young boy.

            I never minded the stories.  When I got home from school I would spend a little time with my grandmother in her room.  She always had a snack or piece of candy for me and we would talk.  Most of the times when I sat with her, we would just talk about my school or soccer team, but every so often when she was feeling more attuned to the spirit world she would tell me tales from the old world.

            Tales of women who became banshees, driven to madness by lost lovers.  Stories of hauntings, strange creatures, mystical events that had semi-rational explanations but none she would believe.  Every so often she would mention a strange man from the sea that would come to her village to see the elders.  He was a mysterious man, who only spoke to the village elders and always stayed for exactly one night.  My grandmother had an occasion to meet him on one of his visits and she said from that day forward her life changed.  She never told me his name but always said that he was a man of a great power, which instilled a deep fear in her.

            As I got older I would press her for more information on the strange man, but she was never swayed to tell me anything about him.  Sometimes I thought she was close to telling me, but then she would shudder and stare off into the distance as if a cold distant power gripped her and muted her voice.

            My grandmother lived to be a vibrant old woman until the last year of her life.  She would ask me to spend more and more time with her toward the end.  I always thought it just comforted her to have me around and I felt I was doing my duty as a grandson.  We would talk and I would do my best to cheer her up.  She still lived with us, and each day after school I would come home and tell her about my day.  I would make her a cup of tea and she would smile at me as I told her about the girl I had a crush on, or how my classes were going. 

            She refused to see a doctor to diagnose what was making her ill.  She would argue with my mother about it all the time.  My mother was always furious with her for not going to the doctor, but my grandmother would always say in her most endearing way, “I have lived a full life and now my time is nearing an end.”  This would always make my mother start to cry, but she would acquiesce to my grandmother.  My father, who was much more stubborn, would attempt to talk her into going to see our family care doctor.  He would use a myriad of arguments to try to convince her to go, but none of them worked.  I once overheard my father and mother arguing about forcibly moving my grandmother to an assisted living facility.  Thankfully they both realized that if she didn’t have much time to live it was better that she was with her family then in a strange room with unfamiliar people prodding her all day.

            Once this whole argument was settled, my grandmother seemed to open up to me a little more.  She would tell me more about her childhood, and her village.  She said that she wanted to pass on her experiences so that I would be prepared.  I just assumed she meant prepared for being a grownup and left it at that.

            Months went by as I saw the illness take a stronger hold of my grandmother.  She was very frail by this time and rarely got out of bed.  Her body may have been fading, but the spark in her eyes and mind never dimmed.  I would still come home from school and bring her a cup of tea.  We would spend a couple of hours together and then I would eat dinner, followed by homework.  Sometimes at night if I couldn’t sleep, I would go and spend more time with her.  You may think this sounds strange for a young boy to spend so much time with his grandmother, but she was so fascinating.  Even when she was too tired to talk, she would still hold a grip on me.  I would stay by her side not wanting to leave, afraid to miss anything if she felt the strength to share it.

            My father wasn’t fond of me spending so much time with my grandmother.  He thought I should be outside enjoying the fresh air and being a young man, but he never overtly said anything.  My mother just thought it was the sweetest thing I ever did.  She didn’t spend much time with my grandmother, but I think that had to do with the stark reality of what was happening.

            One evening I had finished my homework and decided to spend some more time with my grandmother.  As I went into her room I could feel that something was different.  I tried to get her to talk to me, but she was reluctant.  So I sat next to her in a chair by her bed, and we watched television together.  I startled awake and realized that I must have drifted off to sleep while watching television.  My grandmother was awake sitting up in her bed. 

            “Nana?”  I always called her Nana.  It sounded old country to me and I think she liked it.  When I first looked at her I thought she might have passed away.  She was staring straight at the television, but the programming had ended and all that was on was the late night static.  When she heard my voice she seemed to break away from what was holding her attention.

            “I’m sorry dear, did I wake you?” she said in a feeble voice, like the voice you use when you are completely out of breath from running as fast as you can.

            “No.  Are you ok?”

            “Yes, dear.  I’m alright,” she said still fighting for her breath.

            “You sound like you have been running a mile.  Are you sure you’re feeling ok?” 

            “I think I need to tell you some more things, some things about me, your grandfather, your mother, and even you,” she said.

            “More stories about your village?” I said eagerly.

“Yes, but not now.  I think I have had too much right now, and it’s late.  When you come see me tomorrow after school we will talk.  Now be a good grandson and go to bed.” 

            I could tell something was wrong, I didn’t know what but something was just not right.  I never claimed to have any paranormal abilities, just an appeal for the fantastic, but I swear on anything holy that something had changed with my grandmother.  I could hear it in her voice and see it in her body, so I reluctantly agreed to see her tomorrow.

            I peeked in to see my grandmother the next morning before I left for school, but she was asleep, or at least acting like it.  That whole day I was curious about what she wanted to tell me.  I have heard so many of her stories about the old country that I just couldn’t think of anything else she could tell me.  It seemed as if school took forever that day, but when it finally ended I rushed home to see my grandmother.  I went immediately to her room and sat down anxious to hear the stories that she promised to tell me, but she made me first get her a cup of tea before she would begin.

            By this time I was extremely impatient, but I knew she wouldn’t talk to me until she was ready.  She finished her tea in a relaxed manner and when she handed me the empty cup she could see that I was about to wiggle out of my shirt in anticipation. 

            She took a deep breath and began to tell me more stories about her village.  I was a little disappointed because most of the stories were ones that I had heard before, but I couldn’t hurt my grandmother’s feelings by telling her this.  I just sat back in the chair and relaxed listening to her, realizing that she may not be able to tell them to me again.

            After a while I began to drift off and think about other things.  I know it sounds bad, but it’s hard for a child to keep his attention focused on something that you have heard a few times already.  But then her manner changed.  She became very serious.

            “Danny, you have to listen to me.”

            “I am Nana,” I said.

            “Really listen to me, because I don’t think I can tell you this again.  This is not a nice story.  There are some things that may scare you, but you need to know this.”

            I nodded not wanting to break her train of thought.

            “I told you before about the strange man from the sea that would visit my village.  He had some type of sway over me that I never understood.  I was fascinated by him.  I had seen him a few times before.  I knew he was not a good person, but there was something there that attracted me and fascinated me.  When I was seventeen he came during the spring celebration of the equinox that my village celebrated as the beginning of the planting season.  I was already betrothed to your grandfather by this time.  The man came late on the first night of the celebration.  I saw him enter the elder’s hall, or I suppose it would be better to say the council hall, maybe you would understand that better.  I was supposed to be on my way home, but the night felt magical and I couldn’t go home yet.

            “When I saw the strange man enter the hall, I decided that I had to find out what was going on inside.  I crept as quietly as I could and climbed on a small wall to peer through a window on the side of the building,” she said quietly as if someone would hear her now.  I leaned in toward my grandmother to make sure I heard her.

            “I slipped on the wall making a clattering noise as I knocked over a small bucket.  The fog that was creeping over the village was making everything damp and slippery.  My heart was racing, but I was compelled to see inside.  I slowly edged my way to the window and peeked in. 

            “What I saw still terrifies me to this day.  The council men were all kneeling in a circle around the strange man from the sea.  In the middle of the men was a small table with a small child strapped down on top.  I could see the child crying and trying to break free, but it was no use.  The bonds were too tight.  I didn’t know who the child could be.  No one in the village had had a baby recently, and the room was lit by candles which made many of the details indistinct.  It seemed as if the men were praying while the strange man was leading a sermon.”

            My grandmother stopped and took a deep breath.  I wasn’t sure she was going to continue because a sad look took over her face.  She seemed heartbroken.  After a few more minutes she continued on.

            “I wasn’t sure if I should do something or not.  I was so afraid for the baby.  I looked around to see if anyone was near so that I may recruit their help, but I saw no one.  When I turned back to see what was going on inside the hall, I saw the strange man reach into the folds of his cloak and pull out a dagger.  I screamed, and started to run away, but I was stuck.  I couldn’t move.  It was as if someone was holding me to that spot with a giant’s strength.  I looked back in the hall to see if my scream was noticed and the face of the strange man was looking directly into my eyes.”  My grandmother shuddered and pulled the blankets tighter around her body, as if they could protect her.

            She continued on, but her voice was quieter.  I had to lean forward farther to hear all of her words.

            “The man’s eyes were cold and pitch black like the night.  I screamed again and I felt my body release from whatever was holding it.  I jumped off of the ledge that I was standing on and ran straight home.  I burst into the house and went directly to my room.  I was very scared.  The man was evil.  I could feel it.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but I have come to understand what he was.

            “That night I huddled in my bed afraid of every noise.  I never thought I would fall asleep, I thought I may never sleep again.  I’m not sure when, but I must have lost the battle to stay awake.  I was startled awake by the noise of my door shutting.  I called out to my mother, but no one answered.  Out of the corner the strange man walked into the moonlight streaming into my window.

            “I tried to scream, but it was choked off in my throat.  He began to walk toward me.”

            “Did you enjoy what you saw tonight?” he said to me in a deep scratchy voice that sounded like a bucket being drug through gravel.

            “I wasn’t sure I could respond.  I was too scared.  But he asked again and took a step closer.  I just wanted him to leave so I said ‘no sir’ in a small voice.”

            “Your impertinence will cost you dearly,” he said as he came even closer. 

            “I didn’t know what to do or what was going to happen.  I began to huddle up closer to the wall and brought my blankets up to provide what little protection they could provide.

            “He stepped to the edge of my bed and ripped the covers away from me.  I was in my nightshirt and could feel a sense of coldness being radiated from him.  The hairs on my arms stood on end like gooseflesh.

            “He began to crawl onto the bed closer to me and I was paralyzed.  His eyes were pure evil and I knew he was going to hurt me.  His face became something that wasn’t really human, more evil.  I tried to kick at him with my legs, but he just grabbed them and pulled me underneath him.  I was struck with a terror that I have never before dreamed was possible.  I almost gave in and hoped I could will my life to end so as not to give him any satisfaction.  He was evil.  It radiated from him.

            “He bent down over me and came close to my ear.  ‘You will die, but not before I make you suffer and have my desires filled,’ he whispered in a hoarse growl.  I can remember his breath smelling of rot and sulphur.  He ripped my nightgown at the neck and pinned my arms down more firmly.  He reached up and opened his shirt.  His chest was a dark red and some kind of symbol was burned into his flesh.  Like a horse brand, but much larger.  The symbol pulsed and grew brighter with each breath.  He reared his head back and spoke some words in a language that I didn’t understand, and when he was finished the dark lines of the symbol on his chest pulsed and grew brighter.  A deep red light permeated from him and enveloped me and made me writhe in agony, but it kept me from being able to move.  I was sure my life was over at that moment. 

            “He grabbed my throat and smiled a wicked smile.  ‘This second sacrifice I give you tonight,’ he said as if he was speaking to someone else.  Then he leaned in to me and whispered something in my ear that sounded of another language, almost a prayer.  The symbol on his chest was pulsating and radiating an evil that I can’t begin to explain.  I was still paralyzed with fear.  I couldn’t move a finger.  All I could think about was your grandfather.

            “My bedroom door burst open with a force that jarred me back to reality, and in came the Baron.  He seemed to have a glow about him, and he was speaking in the same sort of language that the evil man was only a few minutes before and gesturing at the man. 

            “I looked at the demonic man and saw that he was smiling at me.  He bent down close to me and whispered in his deep guttural growl that I was still not safe and he would return to exact his vengeance on my trespasses.  The Baron was now yelling in the strange language and I saw that although the evil man was smiling the symbol that was once a deep, bright red was fading and turning black.  The evil man clutched at his chest and jumped toward the Baron. 

            “The Baron was prepared and thrust out in front of him a finely wrought golden symbol on a chain hanging from his neck.  The evil man seemed to hit a wall in front of the Baron, and he fell to the floor.  He quickly got back to his feet and before the Baron could block the exit, he made his way out of my bedroom.  The Baron gave chase, and I could hear him yelling to my stunned father to help me.  When I saw my father enter my bedroom I was overwhelmed and I fainted.

                                                            ******

“When I came to my mother was pressing a cold cloth to my head and my father and the Baron were in the doorway having a heated discussion.  I must have fainted again because the next thing I remember was waking up the next morning.  I laid in bed not wanting to open my eyes and see that what had happened last night was real and not a horrible nightmare.  I slowly rolled onto my side and opened my eyes.  The Baron was seated in a chair by the door and next to him was my packed suitcase.  I propped myself up on my elbow and could only stare at him.  The man that saved my life was more handsome then I remembered.  He radiated gentleness and a purity that I see in you Danny. 

            “The Baron Neusillich von Turek introduced himself and made me feel at ease.  He told me that he had discussed the situation with my parents and they agreed that I should go and live with him and that my things were already packed for me.  I was supposed to marry your grandfather that summer and I voiced my concern to him, but he told me that I needed to go with him for my own safety.  He stated that the man from last night would continue to come after me, and that he was best suited to protect me.  After this he left me to get dressed and finish getting my things together.

            “When I was finished I looked around my room one last time.  I didn’t know it then but I would never see it again.  I told myself that I would only be with the Baron for a short period, and then I would be reunited with my parents and my love, your grandfather.  It was still difficult to leave and deep down I had a feeling that I would never return.

            “I went downstairs and said my goodbyes to my mother and father.  It was hard to say goodbye.  Neither of my parents seemed to understand what was going on, and I have to admit neither did I.  I was still in shock over the night’s events.  My mother was crying, but my father was being his stoic stubborn self.  I gave my mother a hug, and she reassured me that everything would be alright through her tears.  My father did not make a move; instead he just stood there with his arms folded across his chest.  I finally went to him and gave him a hug, which he melted into.  I think he knew that he would never see me again and it was breaking his heart.

            “I went outside to find the Baron had already placed my suitcase on a horse and was waiting to help me mount my horse.  I was very sad to leave my childhood home.  I knew I would have to leave it soon when I married your grandfather, but I did not expect it to be like this.  Finally the Baron said we had to leave and we began our journey to his manor.  It was a quiet trip.  The Baron seemed deep in thought and I had a lot of things on my mind to keep me occupied.

            “After riding for about half an hour we reached the outskirts of the Baron’s manor.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I never imagined I would live in any such place.  The trees and flowers were breathtaking.  The Baron’s family had lived here for as long as anyone could remember, but the manor did not have a look of age.  It was marvelous.  All of the windows sparkled with the sun, and there was a pleasant and comforting air about the place.  I immediately felt at ease and protected.  Whatever happened the night before now felt like a bad dream.

            “When we approached the front of the manor two servants came out to greet us.  The Baron made introductions to me and instructed the servants that I would be staying and to take great care of me, then he hurried inside leaving me with the servants.

            “One of the servants was a young man who attended to the horses and the other, whose name was Frederick, was a man who had a stately demeanor, like someone who had been in charge of many things in his life.  He led me inside and saw that I was comfortable in my new room.  He told me that someone would come shortly with some breakfast, and left to attend to other matters in the manor.

            “I began to get settled in my new room.  The room was amazing.  The walls were brightly painted and there were pictures of animals and hunting scenes hung here and there.  The windows were large and looked out over the lovely grounds.  I was beginning to forget all about the night before.

            “Another servant came into my room and brought with her a tray with assorted fruits and breads.  I pulled a chair over to the window and sat staring at the lawn below with the tray on my lap.  It was a good morning so far.  I didn’t want to think about the night before and with all of the new and beautiful things to look at in the manor, I kept myself preoccupied.

            “I ate my simple breakfast slowly.  I daydreamed about being the lady of the manor with your grandfather as the Baron.  The morning passed and I stayed there looking out the window not wanting to break the moment.  Movement outside caught my eye.  I saw two people on the edge of the forest surrounding the manor.  I recognized one of the men to be Frederick, but I could not make out the features of the other man.  A gust of wind blew and the branches of the trees swayed, and the face of the other man came into view.  I was brought back to reality in a shot.  The night before was again vivid in my mind and the face of the man on the edge of the forest was none other than the man that attacked me last night.

            “I was so afraid.  I thought that I was brought here to be protected.  There was a knock on my bedroom door, and I was so startled that I kicked the tray from my lap.  It crashed to the floor with a loud clatter.  The Baron came into my room carrying a book under his arm, and I did not know if I should be afraid for my life or if he would protect me again.  He asked me what was wrong, and if everything was alright.  I glanced back outside, and saw that Frederick and the evil man were gone from the edge of the forest.

            “I was not sure how to answer the Baron, but before I could answer the Baron asked me to tell him my story from last night.  I told him everything I could remember while he sat patiently listening. 

“After I was finished he told me in a very paternal voice, ‘This is a very delicate matter.  The man you saw last night was part of something greater that I have been battling for many years.  Now that this man has seen you and attacked you, you are unfortunately a part of this battle.  I wish for your sake that it wasn’t so.’  I could hear the anguish in his voice.  ‘This isn’t something I would wish upon you,’ he continued, ‘but nevertheless it has happened and we must come to terms with these events.  I can use your help if you are willing.  I will let you have some time to think this over and in the meantime you may rest in your room, or relax in the manor.  I must ask you to not go outside after dusk.  There are many powerful things about and I have given my word to keep you safe.  Now if you don’t mind I would like to do some more research while this is all still fresh in my mind.  I will send for you later and you can tell me if you want to help me.  Let Frederick know if you need anything.’

            With that he left me to myself.  I had many questions in my head but I couldn’t sort them out yet to ask them.  So much had happened in such a short time. 

                                                            ******

            “Later that afternoon a servant came to my room to tell me that the Baron wished to see me in his study.  I was happy to finally get out of that room.  I was beginning to feel trapped and afraid from everything that happened the night before and seeing Frederick with the evil man this morning.

            “The Baron’s study was marvelous.  There were books stacked from floor to ceiling and everywhere in between.  He was seated at his desk, which was piled with more books, a small lamp, and some half eaten food.  He ushered me into a seat near him and began to tell me about the evil man.

            “The man was part of an ennead that the Baron had been fighting secretly for years.  The ennead, which is a group of nine men, was trying to consolidate their power in the region and bring about a new reign for themselves and their master.  The man that attacked me was one of three that the Baron had not yet been able to stop or capture.  These last three were the strongest of the group and wield great power.  They are demons and can incarnate people for their needs.  They also hold great sway over people who cannot or do not want to fight them.  The six that he had already captured were of a lesser kind, and not as powerful.  The Baron has, as yet, not been able to discover the person or thing in charge of the ennead.  He knew there was a mastermind behind the group, but he could not determine who or what it was.

            “The Baron went on to explain to me the supernatural aspects of what he was doing.  He explained that these demons killed his wife and unborn child and that was the reason he began this quest to kill these men and prevent them from taking over the region.  These demons have been influencing men and events in this region for decades.  Many times it was just a subtle influence, a sort of nudge in the wrong direction so to speak.  These demons would persuade the elders to enact laws that would help them, or convince a farmer to give over his goods or life for the better of the ennead.  I say subtle influences but some of these persuasions were not in the least subtle.  Many times the Baron would come upon the scene of these activities to late too stop them.  There were brutal tortures, rapes, and murders of livestock and humans alike.  All of these activities were framed in an occult like setting with mystical drawings and languages.  

            “The Baron was very intrigued by my description of the evil man that attacked me the night before.  He told me that the man or demon’s name was Eamon.  He was a demon from the third hierarchy, but he did not know who he served.  He had been researching the design that I described to him that was on the man’s chest.

            “The Baron asked me if I would help him in his cause.  I didn’t know what to say.  I was to be married to your grandfather that summer.  He sensed my hesitation and he told me that I would not live that long if I left his protection.  These men are evil and do not let people get away from them.  They cannot afford to let a person that knows about them roam free.  No one encountering them has lived if it was not in the demon’s best interest.  If that person was of no use or if they were a threat to the demons then they were killed.  The Baron said they have been after him for decades, but he has built a system of protection around himself that has kept him alive this long.  None of them are able to get inside the manor and harm anyone here.      

            “The Baron then gave me a beautiful necklace with a finely wrought golden charm, and told me that this should help protect me from the evil intrusions that may plague my mind now that I have been attacked. 

            “Mind you Danny, this was all coming so fast.  I was still afraid and confused by the fact that I had seen the evil man on the edge of the forest with Frederick.  If everything here was under a protection how was this man able to get so close.  I told the Baron about what I had seen and he was very disturbed by what I told him.  He sat quietly for a while and then abruptly stood and began to leave the study.  He turned back swiftly grabbing a sword near his desk and a book from a stack on his desk before hastening out the door telling me to wait here and that I was under no circumstance to leave this room.

            “I did my best to be patient and wait, but it began to get unbearable.  I Flooked at the many books that the Baron had and was in awe.  Time had gone by and I was thinking of leaving when the Baron came back into his study.  His clothes were disheveled and he was winded.  He sat in his chair and seemed to be in another place, almost as if he did not remember that I would still be there.

            “I asked the Baron if he was alright and that jarred him from his thoughts.  He told me that everything was going to change.  He found Frederick and confronted him.  During the confrontation Frederick attacked him and he was forced to kill his servant.  Frederick had been with the von Turek family for ages, serving the family for three generations.  This betrayal was heartbreaking to the Baron.  This betrayal meant that the malevolent group was getting too close to him and his protections.  Things were beginning to unravel.  He told me that I would not be able to stay here with him any longer.  He would send me to the United States and in a few months he would send your grandfather so that we may still begin our life together as we planned.  He had many associates in the United States and these people would assist me when I arrived.

            “I did not want to leave my homeland, but I did not have a choice.  Your grandfather followed later and we began our life here.  Since then I have lived my life here with you and your family, Danny, and have not been bothered.  The horrible feelings associated with that evil man grew less and less as time went by.  I have felt safe for a long time.  Until recently.  I saw that man again.  He is here and he will come after me again,” my grandmother said as she finished her story.

            “Danny you have to be prepared,” she said.  “He will come after you also.  Your mother and father do not believe and although he may use them he will not be able to do much harm.  Years ago I helped protect them from harm.  But you, you have a presence about you that will attract Eamon.  We share a certain bond.  He feels the connection between you and me and will seek you once I am gone.  Be prepared.”




W3Counter



No Responses Yet to “Chapter Two:”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.