Strange Findings At A National Trust Estate – Final

Missed the start? You can find part one here.


 

Andrew is dead. I should have known it really, but something about those cries were so real, so desperate. I suppose I should start at where I left the last post.

It didn’t take me long to sprint back to the gatehouse and retrieve a shovel; it was talking myself into going back to where I had heard his ghastly cries which took most of my time. My fight or flight had kicked into overdrive, the rational part of my mind begging me to flee in terror. I deliberated over my decision for some time, but eventually the thought of Andrew’s desperate pleas forced me to go back. In retrospect I should have left then. Instead, I grabbed the shovel, and remembering the dimming of the torches, an old oil lantern in case my torch died once more.

After finding my way back to that exposed top step, I began to dig furiously. It was not as much work as I had initially thought. The soil had already been churned, so was loose enough to simply shovel straight out without too much labour, the recent self-exhumation of the creature having done the hard work for me. The stairs continued down into the earth further than I thought possible, and by the time I had finally broken through into that underground complex I had counted roughly thirty seven steps. The soil finally gave way, allowing me closer to Andrew’s cries.

It was, for want of a better word, some kind of ancient tomb. It was impressive, truly it was, and also terrifying. I cannot describe the wave of dread which seemed to waft out with the stale air, but it froze me to the spot. Only another wail from Andrew freed me again. The stonework was impressive, easily built for something twice my height. My torch gleaned detail from ancient stone, images of humans alongside vile beings who towered over our species. Scenes of rituals and sacrifice adorned many of the artworks, along with sets of runes which appeared to be ripped from the same set as what covered the same metal stake.

The scenes showed not only the giving of our own in sacrifice, but gifts in return to the men who willingly gave up other’s flesh. Men with masks received something I could not make out. It was carved as if it were a ball with light cascading from it, which was then followed by those masked men descending into the earth. There were no further images after that.

I moved further into the great tomb, closer to Andrew’s laments. The cries grew less pained and more sorrowful. I descended another set of stairs before entering a large hexagonal antechamber. I recognised the figures immediately. Propped up in large seats were the bodies of nine men, three to each opposite wall. They were covered in long coats, and each wore awful masks – matching the horrific faces of those tall beings from the imagery I had seen. I looked among them and noticed movement. It was subtle, but it was there. Their bodies were disheveled and rotted, but their chests still rose weakly, their eyes still following me with rueful gazes. A couple of them allowed their mouths to gape, but only a putrid stench escaped. Between each of their legs was a lantern, ornately carved and still brimming with oil.

It was then that I heard Andrew. Behind the chairs opposite my entrance was another, more hidden, doorway. I cautiously passed the men sat there, their eyes swiveling to follow, but none of them attempted to grasp me. A short corridor led me to a pit. It was deep enough that my torch barely illuminated what was at the bottom – perhaps that was a blessing.

Something writhed down there, among the filth and bones. It’s terribly ragged breathing echoed up towards me as it pulled itself through the gloom. It noticed me. I stepped back slowly as it rose to full height, just about reaching a quarter of the height of the pit. Then it started to climb.

I scrambled back to the room with the dead men and watched as it effortlessly pushed the chairs and their occupants aside. It’s face was nothing the likes of which I would like to see again, but I know it will haunt me every night until I die. The masks carved in their likeness did no justice to its truly vile appearance, dread and doom billowing out of it and smothering the chamber, its body secreting some oozy, black substance.

The creature turned back to the pit and reached for something. A piercing migraine split my brain as it revealed Andrew. He was nothing but a husk, as alive as the other men in the room. He still clutched the metal stake in his withered and bony grip. His mouth hung open like some of the other men, but his voice was managing to escape it in a constant and maddening scream. I don’t know if he truly knew of his torment or if it was just some trick of the creature, but fear ran freely through me as I witnessed it.

My torch battery wilted, dropping me into pitch darkness with only the terrified and eternal scream of Andrew piercing the air. I scrambled through my pocket and quickly gripped my lighter. My lantern burst into life, throwing flickering shadows around the chamber. The eyes of the masked men all turned to me, their intense stares burrowing into me.

The creature itself stepped back. It made a noise so unfathomable that I fail to find words to describe it. It dropped Andrew, his body falling to the floor in silence, his terrible screaming finally stopped. The creature hissed and roared again, backing into the corridor which it crawled from. It was then that I realised it. The masked men had used lanterns in their rituals for a reason. It served a dual purpose – the most obvious to provide a discrete form of light, and the other for protection from the creature they offered the workers to.

I stepped forward, forcing the creature back into its pit. I looked down, only to find the lantern not strong enough to illuminate the darkness. I said a quiet prayer and threw my lantern into the depths. A hellish scream rose from the pit, the creature howling in agony as oil and flame spattered across the floor. I hurried to the other room by the flame of my lighter and threw another two in for good measure.

The creature thrashed violently, slamming into the walls of the pit. The ancient stone surrounding me shook, debris falling all around. I lit the other lanterns, leaving them to light the room, before escaping with the final one myself.

I escaped into the cold night air, howls of anguish chasing after me. It was not long before the entrance itself collapsed, burying itself and the stairs once more. The rest of the night was a blur.

I am no longer at the estate. All of the belongings that I could carry are with me, and a friend has kindly let me stay until I can find another job. When I appeared on their doorstep, eyes still wild with fright, they did not think to ask me any questions – I do not think I can bear to answer even now. The main thing is that I am safe. I will be posting my resignation in the morning.

The one thing that I made sure to keep was the lantern which guided me out of that terrible place. Even though I watched the creature writhe and thrash in the flames, even though I watched the place crumble around it, there is some part of my mind which refuses to believe that the creature is gone. After all, if such a horror can lurk within the depths of our world for so long, how many others are out there?

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