The Daily Grind

Small story experiment

Excessive up, crowning the grassy summit of a swelling mound whose sides are wooded close to the bottom with the gnarled timber of the primeval forest, stands the outdated chateau of my ancestors. For hundreds of years its lofty battlements have frowned down upon the wild and rugged countryside about, serving as a house and stronghold for the proud home whose honoured line is older even than the moss-grown fort partitions. These historic turrets, stained by the storms of generations and crumbling below the gradual but mighty strain of time, shaped within the ages of feudalism some of the dreaded and formidable fortresses in all France. From its machicolated parapets and mounted battlements Barons, Counts, and even Kings had been defied, but by no means had its spacious halls resounded to the footsteps of the invader.
 However since these wonderful years all is modified. A poverty however little above the extent of dire need, along with a pleasure of identify that forbids its alleviation by the pursuits of business life, have prevented the scions of our line from sustaining their estates in pristine splendour; and the falling stones of the partitions, the overgrown vegetation within the parks, the dry and dusty moat, the ill-paved courtyards, and toppling towers with out, in addition to the sagging flooring, the worm-eaten wainscots, and the pale tapestries inside, all inform a depressing story of fallen grandeur. Because the ages handed, first one, then one other of the 4 nice turrets have been left to break, till finally however a single tower housed the sadly diminished descendants of the as soon as mighty lords of the property.
 It was in one of many huge and gloomy chambers of this remaining tower that I, Antoine, final of the sad and accursed Comtes de C——, first noticed the sunshine of day, ninety lengthy years in the past. Inside these partitions, and amongst the darkish and shadowy forests, the wild ravines and grottoes of the hillside beneath, have been spent the primary years of my troubled life. My mother and father I by no means knew. My father had been killed on the age of thirty-two, a month earlier than I used to be born, by the autumn of a stone one way or the other dislodged from one of many abandoned parapets of the fort; and my mom having died at my start, my care and training devolved solely upon one remaining servitor, an outdated and trusted man of appreciable intelligence, whose identify I keep in mind as Pierre. I used to be an solely youngster, and the shortage of companionship which this reality entailed upon me was augmented by the unusual care exercised by my aged guardian in excluding me from the society of the peasant kids whose abodes have been scattered right here and there upon the plains that encompass the bottom of the hill. On the time, Pierre stated that this restriction was imposed upon me as a result of my noble start positioned me above affiliation with such plebeian firm. Now I do know that its actual object was to maintain from my ears the idle tales of the dread curse upon our line, that have been nightly instructed and magnified by the straightforward tenantry as they conversed in hushed accents within the glow of their cottage hearths.
 Thus remoted, and thrown upon my very own assets, I spent the hours of my childhood in poring over the traditional tomes that crammed the shadow-haunted library of the chateau, and in roaming with out purpose or objective via the perpetual nightfall of the spectral wooden that garments the facet of the hill close to its foot. It was maybe an impact of such environment that my thoughts early acquired a shade of melancholy. These research and pursuits which partake of the darkish and occult in Nature most strongly claimed my consideration.
 Of my very own race I used to be permitted to study singularly little, but what small data of it I used to be capable of achieve, appeared to depress me a lot. Maybe it was at first solely the manifest reluctance of my outdated preceptor to debate with me my paternal ancestry that gave rise to the fear which I ever felt on the point out of my nice home; but as I grew out of childhood, I used to be capable of piece collectively disconnected fragments of discourse, let slip from the unwilling tongue which had begun to falter in approaching senility, that had a type of relation to a sure circumstance which I had all the time deemed unusual, however which now grew to become dimly horrible. The circumstance to which I allude is the early age at which all of the Comtes of my line had met their finish. While I had hitherto thought-about this however a pure attribute of a household of short-lived males, I afterward contemplated lengthy upon these untimely deaths, and commenced to attach them with the wanderings of the outdated man, who usually spoke of a curse which for hundreds of years had prevented the lives of the holders of my title from a lot exceeding the span of thirty-two years. Upon my twenty-first birthday, the aged Pierre gave to me a household doc which he stated had for a lot of generations been handed down from father to son, and continued by every possessor. Its contents have been of essentially the most startling nature, and its perusal confirmed the gravest of my apprehensions. At the moment, my perception within the supernatural was agency and deep-seated, else I ought to have dismissed with scorn the unbelievable narrative unfolded earlier than my eyes.
 The paper carried me again to the times of the thirteenth century, when the outdated fort by which I sat had been a feared and impregnable fortress. It instructed of a sure historic man who had as soon as dwelt on our estates, an individual of no small accomplishments, although little above the rank of peasant; by identify, Michel, often designated by the surname of Mauvais, the Evil, on account of his sinister popularity. He had studied past the customized of his sort, looking for things like the Thinker’s Stone, or the Elixir of Everlasting Life, and was reputed clever within the horrible secrets and techniques of Black Magic and Alchemy. Michel Mauvais had one son, named Charles, a youth as proficient as himself within the hidden arts, and who had subsequently been referred to as Le Sorcier, or the Wizard. This pair, shunned by all trustworthy people, have been suspected of essentially the most hideous practices. Previous Michel was stated to have burnt his spouse alive as a sacrifice to the Satan, and the unaccountable disappearances of many small peasant kids have been laid on the dreaded door of those two. But via the darkish natures of the daddy and the son ran one redeeming ray of humanity; the evil outdated man beloved his offspring with fierce depth, while the youth had for his guardian a greater than filial affection.
 One night time the fort on the hill was thrown into the wildest confusion by the vanishment of younger Godfrey, son to Henri the Comte. A looking out celebration, headed by the frantic father, invaded the cottage of the sorcerers and there stumbled on outdated Michel Mauvais, busy over an enormous and violently boiling cauldron. With out sure trigger, within the ungoverned insanity of fury and despair, the Comte laid palms on the aged wizard, and ere he launched his murderous maintain his sufferer was no extra. In the meantime joyful servants have been proclaiming the discovering of younger Godfrey in a distant and unused chamber of the nice edifice, telling too late that poor Michel had been killed in useless. Because the Comte and his associates turned away from the lowly abode of the alchemists, the type of Charles Le Sorcier appeared via the timber. The excited chatter of the menials standing about instructed him what had occurred, but he appeared at first unmoved at his father’s destiny. Then, slowly advancing to fulfill the Comte, he pronounced in uninteresting but horrible accents the curse that ever afterward haunted the home of C——.

 

“Might ne’er a noble of thy murd’rous line
Survive to succeed in a larger age than thine!”

spake he, when, all of the sudden leaping backwards into the black wooden, he drew from his tunic a phial of colourless liquid which he threw into the face of his father’s slayer as he disappeared behind the inky curtain of the night time. The Comte died with out utterance, and was buried the subsequent day, however little greater than two and thirty years from the hour of his start. No hint of the murderer could possibly be discovered, although relentless bands of peasants scoured the neighbouring woods and the meadow-land across the hill.
 Thus time and the need of a reminder dulled the reminiscence of the curse within the minds of the late Comte’s household, in order that when Godfrey, harmless explanation for the entire tragedy and now bearing the title, was killed by an arrow while searching, on the age of thirty-two, there have been no ideas save these of grief at his demise. However when, years afterward, the subsequent younger Comte, Robert by identify, was discovered lifeless in a close-by subject from no obvious trigger, the peasants instructed in whispers that their seigneur had however recently handed his thirty-second birthday when stunned by early demise. Louis, son to Robert, was discovered drowned within the moat on the similar fateful age, and thus down via the centuries ran the ominous chronicle; Henris, Roberts, Antoines, and Armands snatched from comfortable and virtuous lives when little beneath the age of their unlucky ancestor at his homicide.
 That I had left at most however eleven years of additional existence was made sure to me by the phrases which I learn. My life, beforehand held at small worth, now grew to become dearer to me every day, as I delved deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the hidden world of black magic. Remoted as I used to be, fashionable science had produced no impression upon me, and I laboured as within the Center Ages, as wrapt as had been outdated Michel and younger Charles themselves within the acquisition of daemonological and alchemical studying. But learn as I’d, in no method might I account for the unusual curse upon my line. In unusually rational moments, I’d even go as far as to hunt a pure clarification, attributing the early deaths of my ancestors to the sinister Charles Le Sorcier and his heirs; but having discovered upon cautious inquiry that there have been no identified descendants of the alchemist, I’d fall again to occult research, and as soon as extra endeavour to discover a spell that may launch my home from its horrible burden. Upon one factor I used to be completely resolved. I ought to by no means wed, for since no different branches of my household have been in existence, I’d thus finish the curse with myself.
 As I drew close to the age of thirty, outdated Pierre was referred to as to the land past. Alone I buried him beneath the stones of the courtyard about which he had beloved to wander in life. Thus was I left to ponder on myself as the one human creature throughout the nice fortress, and in my utter solitude my thoughts started to stop its useless protest in opposition to the approaching doom, to change into nearly reconciled to the destiny which so a lot of my ancestors had met. A lot of my time was now occupied within the exploration of the ruined and deserted halls and towers of the outdated chateau, which in youth worry had triggered me to shun, and a few of which, outdated Pierre had as soon as instructed me, had not been trodden by human foot for over 4 centuries. Unusual and superior have been most of the objects I encountered. Furnishings, lined by the mud of ages and crumbling with the rot of lengthy dampness, met my eyes. Cobwebs in a profusion by no means earlier than seen by me have been spun in all places, and big bats flapped their bony and uncanny wings on all sides of the in any other case untenanted gloom.
 Of my actual age, even right down to days and hours, I saved a most cautious document, for every motion of the pendulum of the huge clock within the library instructed off a lot extra of my doomed existence. At size I approached that point which I had so lengthy seen with apprehension. Since most of my ancestors had been seized some few minutes earlier than they reached the precise age of Comte Henri at his finish, I used to be each second on the look ahead to the approaching of the unknown demise. In what unusual kind the curse ought to overtake me, I knew not; however I used to be resolved, at the least, that it shouldn’t discover me a cowardly or a passive sufferer. With new vigour I utilized myself to my examination of the outdated chateau and its contents.
 It was upon one of many longest of all my excursions of discovery within the abandoned portion of the fort, lower than every week earlier than that deadly hour which I felt should mark the utmost restrict of my keep on earth, past which I might haven’t even the slightest hope of constant to attract breath, that I stumbled on the culminating occasion of my entire life. I had spent the higher a part of the morning in climbing up and down half-ruined staircases in some of the dilapidated of the traditional turrets. Because the afternoon progressed, I sought the decrease ranges, descending into what seemed to be both a mediaeval place of confinement, or a extra not too long ago excavated storehouse for gunpowder. As I slowly traversed the nitre-encrusted passageway on the foot of the final staircase, the paving grew to become very damp, and shortly I noticed by the sunshine of my flickering torch {that a} clean, water-stained wall impeded my journey. Turning to retrace my steps, my eye fell upon a small trap-door with a hoop, which lay instantly beneath my ft. Pausing, I succeeded with problem in elevating it, whereupon there was revealed a black aperture, exhaling noxious fumes which triggered my torch to sputter, and disclosing within the unsteady glare the highest of a flight of stone steps. As quickly because the torch, which I lowered into the repellent depths, burned freely and steadily, I commenced my descent. The steps have been many, and led to a slim stone-flagged passage which I knew should be far underground. The passage proved of nice size, and terminated in a large oaken door, dripping with the moisture of the place, and stoutly resisting all my makes an attempt to open it. Ceasing after a time my efforts on this path, I had proceeded again a long way towards the steps, when there all of the sudden fell to my expertise some of the profound and maddening shocks able to reception by the human thoughts. With out warning, I heard the heavy door behind me creak slowly open upon its rusted hinges. My quick sensations are incapable of study. To be confronted in a spot as totally abandoned as I had deemed the outdated fort with proof of the presence of man or spirit, produced in my mind a horror of essentially the most acute description. When finally I turned and confronted the seat of the sound, my eyes should have began from their orbits on the sight that they beheld. There within the historic Gothic doorway stood a human determine. It was that of a person clad in a skull-cap and lengthy mediaeval tunic of darkish color. His lengthy hair and flowing beard have been of a horrible and intense black hue, and of unbelievable profusion. His brow, excessive past the standard dimensions; his cheeks, deep-sunken and closely lined with wrinkles; and his palms, lengthy, claw-like, and gnarled, have been of such a deathly, marble-like whiteness as I’ve by no means elsewhere seen in man. His determine, lean to the proportions of a skeleton, was unusually bent and nearly misplaced throughout the voluminous folds of his peculiar garment. However strangest of all have been his eyes; twin caves of abysmal blackness, profound in expression of understanding, but inhuman in diploma of wickedness. These have been now fastened upon me, piercing my soul with their hatred, and rooting me to the spot whereon I stood. Eventually the determine spoke in a rumbling voice that chilled me via with its uninteresting hollowness and latent malevolence. The language by which the discourse was clothed was that debased type of Latin in use amongst the extra discovered males of the Center Ages, and made acquainted to me by my extended researches into the works of the outdated alchemists and daemonologists. The apparition spoke of the curse which had hovered over my home, instructed me of my coming finish, dwelt on the incorrect perpetrated by my ancestor in opposition to outdated Michel Mauvais, and gloated over the revenge of Charles Le Sorcier. He instructed how the younger Charles had escaped into the night time, returning in after years to kill Godfrey the inheritor with an arrow simply as he approached the age which had been his father’s at his assassination; how he had secretly returned to the property and established himself, unknown, within the even then abandoned subterranean chamber whose doorway now framed the hideous narrator; how he had seized Robert, son of Godfrey, in a subject, compelled poison down his throat, and left him to die on the age of thirty-two, thus sustaining the foul provisions of his vengeful curse. At this level I used to be left to think about the answer of the best thriller of all, how the curse had been fulfilled since that point when Charles Le Sorcier should in the middle of Nature have died, for the person digressed into an account of the deep alchemical research of the 2 wizards, father and son, talking most significantly of the researches of Charles Le Sorcier regarding the elixir which ought to grant to him who partook of it everlasting life and youth.
 His enthusiasm had appeared for the second to take away from his horrible eyes the hatred that had at first so haunted them, however all of the sudden the fiendish glare returned, and with a surprising sound just like the hissing of a serpent, the stranger raised a glass phial with the evident intent of ending my life as had Charles Le Sorcier, 600 years earlier than, ended that of my ancestor. Prompted by some preserving intuition of self-defence, I broke via the spell that had hitherto held me immovable, and flung my now dying torch on the creature who menaced my existence. I heard the phial break harmlessly in opposition to the stones of the passage because the tunic of the unusual man caught hearth and lit the horrid scene with a ghastly radiance. The shriek of fright and impotent malice emitted by the would-be murderer proved an excessive amount of for my already shaken nerves, and I fell susceptible upon the slimy flooring in a complete faint.
 When finally my senses returned, all was frightfully darkish, and my thoughts remembering what had occurred, shrank from the concept of beholding extra; but curiosity overmastered all. Who, I requested myself, was this man of evil, and the way got here he throughout the fort partitions? Why ought to he search to avenge the demise of poor Michel Mauvais, and the way had the curse been carried on via all of the lengthy centuries because the time of Charles Le Sorcier? The dread of years was lifted from my shoulders, for I knew that he whom I had felled was the supply of all my hazard from the curse; and now that I used to be free, I burned with the need to study extra of the sinister factor which had haunted my line for hundreds of years, and made from my very own youth one long-continued nightmare. Decided upon additional exploration, I felt in my pockets for flint and metal, and lit the unused torch which I had with me. Initially, the brand new gentle revealed the distorted and blackened type of the mysterious stranger. The hideous eyes have been now closed. Disliking the sight, I turned away and entered the chamber past the Gothic door. Right here I discovered what appeared very like an alchemist’s laboratory. In a single nook was an immense pile of a shining yellow metallic that sparkled gorgeously within the gentle of the torch. It might have been gold, however I didn’t pause to look at it, for I used to be unusually affected by that which I had undergone. On the farther finish of the residence was a gap main out into one of many many wild ravines of the darkish hillside forest. Stuffed with marvel, but now realising how the person had obtained entry to the chateau, I proceeded to return. I had meant to move by the stays of the stranger with averted face, however as I approached the physique, I appeared to listen to emanating from it a faint sound, as if life weren’t but wholly extinct. Aghast, I turned to look at the charred and shrivelled determine on the ground. Then abruptly the horrible eyes, blacker even than the seared face by which they have been set, opened huge with an expression which I used to be unable to interpret. The cracked lips tried to border phrases which I couldn’t effectively perceive. As soon as I caught the identify of Charles Le Sorcier, and once more I fancied that the phrases “years” and “curse” issued from the twisted mouth. Nonetheless I used to be at a loss to assemble the purport of his disconnected speech. At my evident ignorance of his that means, the pitchy eyes as soon as extra flashed malevolently at me, till, helpless as I noticed my opponent to be, I trembled as I watched him.
 All of the sudden the wretch, animated along with his final burst of power, raised his hideous head from the damp and sunken pavement. Then, as I remained, paralysed with worry, he discovered his voice and in his dying breath screamed forth these phrases which have ever afterward haunted my days and my nights. “Idiot,” he shrieked, “are you able to not guess my secret? Have you ever no mind whereby you could recognise the need which has via six lengthy centuries fulfilled the dreadful curse upon your own home? Have I not instructed you of the nice elixir of everlasting life? Know you not how the key of Alchemy was solved? I inform you, it’s I! I! I! which have lived for 600 years to take care of my revenge, FOR I AM CHARLES LE SORCIER!”

Now the question, who’s the original name and author of this short story?

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