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The Lost Treasure Map Book Collection (2017 Edition)

 

 

 

The Lost Treasure Map Book Collection

(2017 Edition)

 

V Bertolaccini

 

 

 

This edition published 2017 by CB

This is a Shakespir edition 2017

 

Copyright Victor Bertolaccini

 

ISBN: 978-1-3100-0352-3

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the copyright owner. Nor can it be circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition including this condition being imposed on a subsequent purchaser.

 

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Part I

 

Novel 1

 

The Lost Treasure Map

 

V Bertolaccini

Prologue

 

The Lost Treasure

 

For centuries William Randall’s lost treasure had remained buried away in a secret chamber in the immense castle. The few clues to its whereabouts were an ancient riddle: where the last dwell, the markings on his tomb, and the legends of treasure passed down through direct generations of his family, on his instructions.

The details, haunting of the place, and occurrences had been too confused and vague. Key facts had been missing, which people who had known William Randall would have known the answer to, but had died, as it had happened to William Randall, after the fantastic events that had led up to him constructing the castle.

For centuries the castle had remained a lifeless, dormant place, buried in the woods – lost in time, like a ghost castle, out on the edge of reality – on the fringes of what lay beyond.

The inhabitants about the desolate estate, even in the 21st century, had inundated their descendants with alarming accounts of evil, mysterious magical forces, and transcendent creatures, dwelling in the woods.

Local newspapers, over centuries, had continuously reported and warned their readers of unexplained occurrences there.

On the 17th of August 1898, of the worst, of the detailed accounts specified, travelers, on horseback, had come upon the mutilated remains of gypsies, scattered throughout the wood, south of the castle, at midnight, and had been attacked and chased, by things with fearful sounds, and swift-moving lights, shifting through the trees.

Thomas Bryson (a renowned and leading research scientist – who had always characteristically disregarded claims of supernatural phenomena) as a teenager had stayed at Grovnor Castle (under the ownership of his uncle, Sir Richard Randall), where he had endured a surreal night, on his own, in a central room, listening to extraordinary sounds – like they had been materializing from somewhere – like hell breaking into reality.

Sounds like mischievous demons and unearthly elementals had tormented its confines throughout the night!

Stories of the place being haunted, told to him by the servants, had captivated him throughout his life!

So when he had found out about Sir Richard’s death, he had decided to seize the opportunity of investigating what he had only heard there, and to investigate one of the greatest mysteries that he had encountered!

Two leading scientists, psychic investigators, from previous psychic investigations that he had tried evaluating, had accompanied him to the castle, and he had slept in the same bedroom, which had been identical to the way that he had left it. Then, incredibly, during that night, the nightmare sounds had viciously emerged once again, but neither he nor the two psychic investigators could unravel what had been occurring.

During the next morning they brought in many more leading scientists and psychic investigators with extensive equipment to begin a decisive investigation.

 

 

 

 

I

 

The Lost Treasure

 

 

Chapter 1

 

The Hidden Treasure

 

The room slowly grew silent, with the suspense, as the moment drew near, and Bryson adjusted his seat.

Dr Reid stopped at the front of them, and ripped off the top of an envelope.

A glint of amusement appeared on his face as he put his head close, and peered into it.

He observed all the people sitting around the large table in the center of the dining room, and he anxiously took out an old video with a typed label by his fingertips. Then he showed it to them, with a glint of humor, followed by some sadness, and he rolled the envelope into a ball, and threw it into the fireplace.

“Sir Richard Randall requested that you watch this video,” he explained blankly.

He signaled the butler, and he keenly took the video from him. Then he gently fitted it into a video recorder, beneath a TV, as though it were an old film reel.

There were signs of deterioration, with its colors making it resemble an old war film.

The shaking camera showed Sir Richard’s bedroom.

The picture flickered, and stopped moving. Sir Richard then emerged, and briskly moved to an armchair.

He sat upright, staring directly at them.

“My ancestors passed this estate over to me – including some wealth. So I intend that this estate stay with my family.

“My only request from my family is for this estate to remain in the possession of a member of the family – who is at least capable of looking after it! No matter what the future holds …

“This task has not been easy …

“I’ve had considerable trouble choosing a successor!

“However, I’ve chosen Robert – my dear nephew! I wish you, Robert, to inherit the estate. I’ve left enough cash for you to keep it as I’ve requested.

“Through the years, I’ve acquired a vast sum, from careful business transactions.

“Though, through the years, I’ve learned that I prefer not to use it – and I’ll keep it that way!

“I’ve considered what to do with it – and I wish it to go to the wisest of you, or whoever … Therefore, I’ve thought of a plan that will give each of you a fair chance to get it.

“I’ve hidden it in a safe place. All you need to do is find it!

“What I’m saying is that if you are good enough to get it – it’s yours!

“I’ll give you the first clue, to where it is, and nothing more … You must find the rest yourself!

“The clue is: where the last dwell.

“And I’ll give you a week!

“For a week, from the showing of this, the entire estate will legally belong to all of you – and it will be yours if you find it.

“After ten days, it will probably belong to anyone who stumbles upon it.”

He stared once, moved away, and the screen turned blank.

“How are we going to get that loot?” James whispered to Robert, for Bryson to hear. “He must have been rolling in it. He even hid it as a treasure!”

Helen, Robert’s wife, moved over to them, and muttered: “Let’s search the castle from top to bottom!”

Robert looked increasingly more determined to talk everyone into helping. “Our best clue must be that he would not have hidden it out of his sight!”

“So where did he sleep?” Helen asked.

Robert nervously shrugged. “At the top floor, of course!”

 

Chapter 2

 

The Haunted Castle

 

The moon probed deep into the dark clouds radiating the colossal tomb shape of the castle out of the darkness like a haunted castle in a film as the four of them marched along the lane from the surrounding wood.

It was still evening but dark and in the middle of winter, and snow was heavily covering the surreal landscape.

They were breathless and their legs could barely take them fast enough. The outline of the castle was heavenly but deadly from the black wood.

The place was unaltered, and Bryson no longer had the skepticism that he had once had. He had vivid recollections of his first visit to the castle – with his original emotions – as a youth. It had been the most mysterious occurrence that he had encountered.

Even to this day it was still strange! He had tried to disprove it on many occasions through his life, but it had never been possible. Especially due to his uncle, Sir Richard, avoiding his approaches to another visit.

He vividly recollected learning of his death from the small column in the newspaper, while he had been traveling back from California – where he had been on a confidential military project, as leading scientist.

In the outer landscape, he wildly conjured up visions of demons lurking there.

The castle was enormous – and as long as a football pitch, and as high as a five-story building.

It was ancient, weather-beaten, but historical.

Bryson studied pieces of the castle walls strewn about in the grass. They were immense square boulders.

Bryson recalled what he knew of the layout of it.

The castle was surrounded by trees, which went out for miles in every direction. At the front there was only one central door, but at the back there were two. One at the kitchen, and one near the end of the castle, at the right side (from the front).

The front door had a hall that led to the center of the castle, where a long corridor of rooms went from one end of the castle to the other. With rooms on both sides of the corridor (at the front and back of the castle).

The kitchen was in front of the hall (at the back of the castle). In the middle of the hall was one of the two doors to the dining room, located at the right side. The kitchen and dining room corridor doors were almost opposite each other. And the staircase was next to the kitchen, on the left side. The two floors above were almost identical, but without the hall, kitchen, and dining room.

Sir Richard’s room had been on the top floor, at the end of left side of the castle, at the rooms at the back of the castle. And the rooms that they were now staying in were below it (on the second floor), but at the front of the castle. And the room that Bryson had originally stayed in, where the sounds were, was just along from the stairs on the second floor, at the central location, at the front of the castle (where the psychic investigators had brought in extensive equipment to begin a detailed investigation).

Bryson glared at Dr Reid, his late uncle’s lawyer. He reminded him of a German professor, from his early days.

He listened attentively to Bryson, James, and Robert, with eagle-like eyes staring coolly at objects only directly in front of him. He seemed to be constantly controlling his temper! He clearly did not like something, which Bryson assumed was to do with the late Sir Richard, since that was the only reason he was there. He seemed familiar with the grounds, even in the dark, which he gave a sporadic gasp of fright to.

He thought little of Thomas Bryson, and his modern scientist features and approach. But he occasionally seemed to spot his similar resemblances to Sir Richard, which people often remarked about. He was also famous, energetic, used the same business-like approaches, learned everything that he could, and examined the universe at every conceivable angle.

Their shoes crunched into pebbles, as they went near the castle.

The shapes of all the vehicles there became visible.

Robert, Robert Randall, his cousin, then started loudly chatting to James, Robert’s younger brother.

Robert eagerly joked at Bryson, grinning: “So why do you think the only place to have all that noise is at those rooms then? Where we were – and all of you soon moved to! – I never heard a thing.”

For a moment, from his tone, Bryson considered what the others had heard – as he had heard little at the end rooms where he had moved. They could have heard the winter Highland winds making similar sounds. Sounds at night, in such an environment, were only authenticated by scrupulous investigations.

“There’re too many mysteries and not enough facts to be certain of anything!” he stated.

“I know a little history about this estate,” Robert announced to James, for him to hear. “Few people know it, and I’m sure nobody has kept any written accounts … My father exclusively told me many things about this place …”

James humorously observed Bryson. “So what’re your beliefs in ‘ghosts’?”

He stopped himself reacting, and glared at him.

“I think that the universe holds many secrets,” he muttered automatically. “And so far we haven’t had a proper opportunity, and the right means, to prove properly that anything of that nature exists.”

Robert glared, with fascination. “Science may not be able to explain many things!

“Things exist beyond this universe – beyond science!”

His views surprised him.

James’s enthusiasm for answers was building up.

“What’s so special about here? What happened here?”

“I don’t believe that anyone has ever been sure,” Robert answered. “There are legends that mention things … One of them suggests that it was something to do with what killed some of our ancestors, who’d been visiting here!”

“How did they die?” James asked, with confusion.

“Something slaughtered them, in the trees that once were here … Before they built this castle!”

James’s face turned pale, and his eyes glared.

“But surely they had suspicions of what’d killed them? All legends have rough descriptions of …!”

“Nobody knew what they were. But I’ve heard that it was some form of a witch, and that they still haunt here!”

Robert staggered to the doorway; where he banged at the solid wooden doors, almost bruising his knuckles.

A deep thud appeared from somewhere inside the castle, as they stopped in front of it. And the door wearily creaked out. Heavily perfumed warm air swept out, heating their frozen faces.

A hunched elderly man, wearing thick round glasses, stood glaring at Bryson, from the dim hall, and Bryson recognized him as Sir Richard’s cousin.

“We’ve been waiting on you. So we can all go to the top floor together!” he explained.

He led them into the hall, and their eyes fell on glorious paintings, gleaming on the walls. Their ancient views of the estate, and of his ancestors, were enchantingly realistic.

Chapter 3

 

The Top Floor

 

At the top floor, Bryson entered slowly, feeling his way along the wall, as if he were entering a sacred domain.

The corridor had to be the darkest place in the castle. Even with the lights on, there were strange dark and gloomy glows.

Robert wandered about, offering everyone that he met a cigarette. He then spoke confidently with them, giving them confidence and his wisdom in carrying out the task ahead – while gently persuading them to do what he wished.

As they passed different rooms, it became clear that the cleaners had not been near there. Cobwebs and dirt shrouded everything!

“What now?” Helen asked blankly.

“We can separately look about,” Robert declared. “We can cover more …”

They split into groups, going in different directions.

Bryson marched straight towards Sir Richard’s room, and Robert briskly moved after him.

The others mainly agreed to search the corridor, and to check paintings and antiques.

The door to Sir Richard’s room at first seemed locked. But Robert knew something, and viciously shoved it, until it screeched open, and dust flew out from it – like he were entering a tomb.

The dimness and dust was shocking. Webs and fungus had already shrouded it.

“He liked a luxurious bed,” Robert moaned, humorously, patting the firm mattress, sending up a dust cloud, while checking his reactions. Bryson smirked!

They then crept around, listening to the creaks and cracks of the floorboards.

Bryson’s attention fell on the bed again, where he had died, and had stayed until a servant had found him: a month later.

When he moved away, he saw the humorous side of what he had been doing – eying up his deathbed.

He spotted drawers, and went to them.

They were mostly full of old clothes.

Robert investigated every object that he came to.

“This place turns more gruesome the more I see it!” he remarked, flicking webs away from him.

“Do you believe that he made a mistake allowing us to search here?” Bryson responded.

“He was no priest! He ruthlessly ran his business affairs … I saw a glint of sympathy in those eyes – which could only mean one thing …”

Bryson picked up an old bowler hat, realizing how much things had changed.

“Let’s check somewhere else!”

At another room, they could not help smile at James’s methods of searching. He frantically yanked up floorboards, as Sarah, his wife, frowningly held up the carpet.

“Let’s try the floorboards in his bedroom!” James announced.

Robert stood with his mouth open, realized something, and closed it.

“Good idea!” Sarah replied, quickly dropping the carpet, and they left towards the room.

When they moved into the corridor, Bryson realized that it was a good idea, and slowly followed them.

“I’ll see you later,” Robert answered firmly, going in the opposite direction.

Once in the room, James quickly pulled up the carpet, and started pulling up rotted nails with an old metal pole.

Bryson wandered about the room, and wondered if Sir Richard had made a mistake somewhere.

“Where the last dwell!” he mumbled.

He went over to the spot where he had been, when the camera had been on him.

He grabbed a seat, from the other side of the room, and he placed it at the spot – and from it, he studied a painting.

A repetitive forceful hammering appeared in the distance, and occasionally interrupted him enough to stop to listen.

While he considered the room from various perspectives, it escalated into a loud rummaging and banging.

Finally, James went to the door, to gaze along the corridor.

“They’ve found something!” he abruptly announced.

Bryson followed him, as he left.

The noises were coming from a room – where there was a cloud of dust hovering outside.

There were shudders going through the walls, and sounds of rocks crashing down!

Their looks changed to bewildered glances, as they approached it.

Had they found something already?

At the room, he saw chunks of rock and pieces of plaster scattered over the carpet, and the others crowded around an area of a wall, where there was a large hole.

They had discovered something concealed in the wall (perhaps after they had discovered that the wall had given a hollow tone – when they had banged it).

Bryson measured the approximate width of the wall with amazement. It was phenomenal how thick the wall between the rooms was, and he had not noticed it.

Yet it was far older than Sir Richard’s era! And why had someone gone to such lengths to conceal it? Was there any connection between it and the disturbances that had occurred at the place?

Robert viciously smashed a heavy metal pole against the thick stone, while chunks of it crumbled away and crashed across the floor.

Robert dropped the pole, and the clang echoed from in it.

Then he crouched, crept over the debris, and climbed in.

Chapter 4

 

The Mysterious Find

 

Bryson’s eyes followed Robert moving off, and he swiftly followed.

A deep thud echoed down, from behind, as James entered.

The ebbing radiance of the torch clearly was not enough to allow more than three to go safely down.

He scarcely grasped the concept of why a tunnel was there. Surely Sir Richard had not built it.

By the fact that it was in a castle might prove that it might have been part of its defense against invaders.

Sounds took strange tones, and he strained his eyes more, trying to see further in, but there were no features of anything. The tunnel’s small shape (not much larger than his height, and less than a meter in width) vanished into darkness.

As the steps descended sharply, he had to hold himself upright. Its drop almost seemed perpendicular.

He heard distant movements, and their growing surges, and Robert stopped, just ahead of him, with the torch oscillating irregularly. Its light swayed over the stone, and the narrow shaft seemed to vanish at a point.

A stone floor was below, and he climbed down.

A feeble glow came through a crack in a wall, and a faint voice could be heard beyond it.

“Who’s that?” Robert whispered.

“I don’t know!”

Robert shoved his head close to the crack.

“It’s the butler!”

He yelled through the crack.

The startled features of the butler emerged next to it. Then his hands felt the wall.

“Where are you?”

“We are in a passage!”

Robert shoved the heavy mass with his shoulder, making the crack creak and widen.

The brightness from a window beamed out, and they entered the storeroom, at the back of the kitchen.

Someone had made the entrance out of castle stones (put together to hide it). The large cracks between the other bricks hid its shape well!

Chapter 5

 

Ghost Psychology

 

The bedroom still seemed the same, with just the bed remaining there. The psychic research equipment was all over it, everywhere, and they speedily were monitoring it.

The night sky did not seem as dark with heavy snow floating about in it. The faint tread mark of a car was below, under a layer of snow. And the wood remained silent and lifeless.

“Someone seems to have a deep interest in your movements!” Mortimer muttered, at the doorway, glancing sideways, along the corridor.

Bryson knew that it had to be either Robert or James, over at the rooms. But James had been watching everyone! He looked the type that followed his orders to the word.

Bryson examined their thermometers carefully placed at the wall. It was just less than fourteen degrees centigrade. He estimated that the temperature outside was just below freezing point.

“What are the thermometers for?” he asked, for something to say, and to see if he could find out anything, which he did not already know. They were more silent than they normally were.

“Where there have been some manifestations, there have been drops in temperature – discovered before and during occurrences. Although I have never proven to myself that it happens.”

“It would be a good way of detecting if there is something near you!” he replied. “So the room should theoretically feel cold before it!”

Bryson looked about the room. Most of the equipment was on loan. And, according to Merton, was being used in the field for the first time. (They would be carrying out tests and experiments with the equipment to test its capabilities, which could not be properly done in a research laboratory.)

Some of it he recognized from the work that he had done in the laboratory. In fact, he was sure that he had helped in the making of some of their components.

They would be checking for virtually all known forms of energy and matter disturbances (perhaps, if it was possible, fluctuations in time). Presumable if it could alter temperatures and produce all the effects that he had heard could be done, it could produce effects with air currents, gravity, magnetic fields, radioactivity, scent, sound waves, static, and the light spectrum. Most of the equipment was there to check everything in a degree that had not been done before!

“Why have you so many recorders along here?”

“We’re trying to capture the best recording that we can, from here, as well as in the room behind the wall.”

Bryson moved over to a different device. “Is this to detect vibrations?”

“Of course, and we’ve machines here that we’ll use to check the different sound frequencies, to show us the exact sounds that are occurring, and what we are unable to hear. This information will be vital. We may be able to acquire some type of insight into what is happening here, with the right information.”

“Have you any of your equipment in the room below?”

Mortimer strangely glared at him. “Why would you want to put anything down there?”

“To find out if there are any sounds there! And, if there are sounds, if they are louder or less louder than here. It may help to locate the exact position that the sounds are emerging from.”

“That may be a good idea,” Merton replied. “But do you think that it could be occurring there …? This room surely had the loudest sounds!”

“I’ve a few ideas, which I would like to check.”

Mortimer moaned: “We wanted to get the right places.”

“We can carry out your experiment tomorrow!”

Bryson picked up a glass, off the table, and poured some water into it. “That is perfect! What type of camera are you using over there?”

“That is a video camera to film our experiments. It’s the best we could get, in case anything becomes visible. That one next to it is an infrared camera …”

Bryson began to leave. He was getting tired, and he needed the sleep. He silently tried to quench his thirst.

“Do you consider that it will capture anything?”

“Probably not …!” Merton quickly replied.

Chapter 6

 

Spiritual Manifestation

 

Mist shifted about, beneath him, lingering in distant places.

A whisper came from an unseen place.

Radiant rays shone down, from a powerful light in the sky, which neither was the sun nor the moon. Its lunar-like radiance was visible everywhere.

The sky was golden in regions; lights twinkled through thick areas of mist on the horizon. A bright light suddenly appeared, deep in the vapor. It oscillated, and intensified.

A face emerged out of the mist, over its light. It resembled Sir Richard. It was somehow different, and put there by his mind, perhaps trying to control the dream.

A gurgle came from somewhere. He sensed the presence of many mysterious things, which existed about him.

The deep groans of something came from the edge of what he saw. Powerful movements rapidly brought it close.

A creature shape, in a mass of red energy, floated through the mist, towards him …

 

A loud screech ripped through him! Its unbelievable loudness making him conscious, and open his eyes wide.

The deep blackness of the room completely blinded him; and he stayed where he was, breathing silently.

In the blackness, at the end of his bed, something edged out, and he waited, stunned, for whatever was there to hit him hard.

Chapter 7

 

Psychic Experiments

 

Bryson’s anger faded with every stride he took through the empty corridor, heading towards the stairs.

He would always remember that creature’s red features, glaring at him from the end of the bed, out of the blackness of the place, before it had vanished, after him virtually dying in disbelief.

Of course, the psychic researchers had only believed in what they had encountered (and preferably at night).

His thoughts turned to their hunt for the money.

The others had been constantly surprising him with their determination to find it. They had branched out, from the few rooms that they were searching, and they were now searching almost everywhere, in the same rigorous way.

They had even persuaded the servants and lawyer to help them. The lawyer had been going to leave, but they had persuaded him to stay around, especially to give them any advice, whenever they required it.

A few people, who he had never seen before, were roaming about, behind him somewhere, going in the direction that he went in.

Their sounds faded into the distance, when he arrived at the room where the psychic investigators were in.

It surprised him how long they had spent in the room.

Mortimer was still checking the equipment, but he stopped, and watched him enter from the corner of his eyes.

“Well, what did you discover?” he asked, settling down.

“We found a great deal!” Merton replied frankly, coming away from the window, where he was standing, glaring at the snow shrouding the landscape.

“But no break through …?”

“No proper leads …”

Bryson walked over to a digital thermometer, and tapped it, seeing if it would change. It then adjusted slightly to his body heat.

“Did the temperature change when it took place?”

Those thermometers were not accurate enough to detect anything,” Mortimer answered.

“Did you capture anything with the cameras?”

“Psychic energy appeared all over these rooms, from many locations …

“But we never saw anything, anywhere, and there’s nothing on the cameras. I don’t believe that it will be visible! We had to have recorded what must be the most advanced and highest degrees of psychic fluctuations so far discovered. If we could come up with a way to get visible pictures, and it recorded …”

“Will you be checking the room below? We can establish that its nucleus is around that wall …”

Mortimer stopped what he was doing. “That’s good!”

Merton nodded. “Okay, we’ll do that!”

“Your uncle must have been raving mad putting you in that bed!”

“So what else did you discover?”

“We found some incredible frequencies from the wall.”

“There must be a reason why that is mainly at the wall, and the other equipment is detecting nothing!”

“And why is it so loud?” Merton queried. “It produces an effect that it’s occurring all about the place, from other locations – as well as it appearing at other locations! – which we detected.”

“Can I hear your best recordings?” Bryson asked, as he glimpsed Merton playing with a machine.

Mechanically, Merton activated it, and a few crackles emerged, and chanting loudly came from its speakers.

“That is just before it occurred,” Merton called out, with his ear at it.

With utter astonishment, Bryson staggered back, absolutely spellbound, marginally gaining control of his features, while intensely listening to a creature’s roar, as though it were happening in front of him.

The sounds and the time that it had occurred were so precise that he knew that it could not have been from anything else except the thing that had been in his dream, and at the end of his bed.

Chapter 8

 

The Castle Library

 

Most of his relatives were sitting in the dining room, chatting excitedly.

The hunt for the money was an exciting game, and he was sure that they were mainly overconfident. But why worry about it! They would either find it or they would not. They had nothing to lose.

Why not have a good time? Who knows! They might get something else of great value in the place. There were many generations of eccentric owners of the castle. Things in it had been there for an immense amount of time. Perhaps some valuable antique existed somewhere!

He lifted his soupspoon, which was far too flat, and managed to consume the small amount of soup on it. He heard the servants giggling, in another room.

He jerked, as two loud crackles came off the logs burning furiously in the fireplace, behind him. The heat from it made his back sweat.

“Well, how are your two friends doing?” Robert moaned, moving into a vacant seat.

“What …?”

Bryson anxiously took a sip of soup, and watched his chunky face smiling at him at the corner of his eye. For a moment, he wondered if he had found the answer to the clue, or something.

“They made some incredible recordings!”

Robert hesitated, and stopped smiling.

Bryson felt the warm air in the surrounding room, and he relaxed against the back of the seat. The corridor and rooms were cold, and he felt the coldness coming from there, through the door.

He lifted his wine glass, and tasted the sweet white German wine.

“That’s odd! Did they not find anything else with all that equipment that arrived here?”

“They’ve not finished.”

He lifted his arm, and allowed it to fall to his side.

Robert stretched his arms. “It’s time to start work! I was thinking of bringing in some local workmen …”

“That could be a mistake! Even though it seems a good idea. I think we’ll have to do more thinking – instead of taking up ever floorboard in the castle.”

“Have you any ideas about the answer to that clue? None of us have come close to finding anything.”

“It’s too soon! It’s too vague! But there must be an answer, and I shall continue …”

Robert stood up, and followed some of the others out of the door.

Bryson realized that the others were not properly searching the entire castle. They had agreed to concentrate in the right places!

Therefore, it would be a good idea for him to spend the morning wandering about the rooms, looking for anything. Perhaps it would help solve the clue.

He always wanted to search this castle. He had been unable to do it the last time that he was at it as the servants had kept him in the lounge, and had persuaded him not to go anywhere else.

He had the freedom to roam the castle, and he wanted to take full advantage of it before he left.

As he started going through the rooms on the bottom floor, which he had not seen anyone near, he realized that there were too many mysteries, and no noticeable means of solving them.

He stopped to rest at a room window, and realized the hopelessness of such an endeavor. He observed the dark parts of trees sticking out from the blanket of snow.

The snow had stopped, and the sky was cloudless.

Some ravens croaked, and flew up into the air, from nearby trees, as though someone was there.

A gentle breeze blew up some snow on the ledge, like grains of salt.

The furniture, about him, held his attention, as he was unable to determine what its use was. There was no bed. Just furniture – giving it the look of a study. It also had a door at its side, which had not been in any of the other rooms.

Its brass handle was stiff, feeling as if it had been that way for a long time, and he had to give it a hard jerk to make it budge. As it creaked open, a black switch became faintly visible on the white wall. It activated the lights, which flickered and grew bright.

It took a few seconds for the sight before him to sink in, and he stood steady, glaring at shelves of books, covering its walls.

As he approached them, it became clear that it was a small library.

He had dismissed that there were any books, as they’d not been aware of there being a book on the entire estate.

If an answer to the clue existed, he knew that it could well be there! Even though they seemed to be mainly only outdated books on city affairs, which had to have belonged to Sir Richard.

He scribbled down the subjects of the books, and added any interesting facts that he noticed. If he could find out more about Sir Richard, and what subjects he had been interested in, he might be able to discover where he would have been most likely to put it.

Yet, as he went through them, he became aware that they were very old business books, and that he might have changed considerably over the amount of time that he had acquired them to when he had made his video. His business past interests spanned a wide variety of subjects.

Some other books grabbed his attention, but only proved, to his amusement, that he had had an interest in pirates and ships. And, of course, even that somehow seemed to connect to his business interests. He tried to think of where a businessman such as him would have put things, but he could not think of anything.

It was going to take a considerable amount of time to check them in more detail, which could waste a vast amount of his time.

He was starting to enjoy the empty corridors, and vast limits of space, which existed there. His own home, and even the hotels, would never compensate for it. The silence, lack of crowds and city sounds was so unusual and glorious he would surely miss it.

Bryson made his way up to the top floor, listening to the voices there. He glanced about, and saw Sarah, with a mischievous smile. He instantly believed that they had been wrecking the place, to find what they wanted.

The women had rolled up the carpets, at part of the corridor, beside Sir Richard’s room. While the men were searching through everything in the rooms further along.

“Has anyone found anything?” he uttered to James, detecting a scent of a perfume, which he did not recognize.

“I don’t think so, but we are making good progress,” he replied, with a slight smile.

Bryson tried to work out how many rooms they could properly check before the time limit.

They would not even progress close to it, but they were only searching the places where it was most likely to be, and there would be enough time to do that.

Bryson moved over to one of the rooms, where he heard Robert, checking the walls, for any hollow places.

“There he is!” he grunted.

“We were considering trying the outer walls,” Robert announced, without hesitation. “What do you think?”

“That’s a good idea!” Bryson answered, seeking a change of scenery, and to go outside. “We can have a good look at the castle. There may be something outside that will help us answer that clue.”

“Perhaps it’s in something on the outside of it!” James revealed.

Robert shrugged. Bryson could tell that Robert was beginning to lose faith in their plans.

He wondered if Sir Richard would have actually hid it on the outside. However, he could not imagine him climbing out to hide it, or putting it at the ground level. Outer parts of the structure were also crumbling away.

“Have you completed searching here?” he asked.

“We’ve searched most of it,” James replied. “We’re searching where we believe it could be.”

James looked about him. “Why did such a rich guy not have anything of value about him?”

“He explained that in ‘his video’!” Robert moaned.

“Even with his views, he should have had things: such as expensive jewellery.”

“Perhaps someone took everything out of his room!”

Chapter 9

 

The Map

 

“Here’s an interesting one!” James loudly announced – standing up, and sitting back down – holding a tattered book by his fingers, allowing them to view it.

“It’s about castles!” Robert remarked excitedly, holding out his hand. “This castle may be in it!”

Robert took it, and laid it down.

But it was obvious that there was nothing to see, and he just flicked through the pages.

“Well, it’s a start! There may be some useful books.”

Suddenly Bryson saw a page from it lying on the floor, under the table – which clearly had fallen from it.

He picked it up, and unfolded it on the table in front of them.

“Well, what’s this?” James asked, frustrated.

“It’s an old drawing of this castle,” Robert replied.

But Bryson realized that it was more than a drawing – it was an ancient plan. It had far more detail, and it was a map of the interior – drawn by someone. (Something a tourist might use!)

After a few minutes, Robert lost interest.

“Are we going outside?” he announced, with a little hesitation. “What do you think?”

“That’s an idea,” Bryson answered, wondering if Sir Richard would really have hidden it on the outside.

“Good. We’ll go out later then!”

Chapter 10

 

Castle of Horrors

 

A bitter breeze blew across Bryson’s cheek, through a crack in the window frame. His fingers touched the cold surface of the glass, and he brushed his hand across it, cleaning it.

He left his hand on it, heating the frost on the other side, allowing it to melt enough for him to see out of it. He soon confirmed that it was not bright outside.

The brightness of the room light made him turn, to see Mortimer, with his hand at the switch. Bryson immediately went over to admire a Victorian painting on a wall, with his ears sensitive to any sounds.

The painting was like a view into the past, holding hidden clues to what he had experienced there, and he searched it trying to find clues. There had to be something that would slightly suggest something that might answer the mysteries of the castle.

He was soon racking his brain again, trying to scientifically determine what the sounds had been. He could tell that Merton and Mortimer had checked the rooms along the corridor from that room. The castle’s vastness and that the scientists could encounter something unprepared seemed to stop them exploring it further.

Mortimer slightly turned his head from the window.

He had expected some of the others to take some interest and check the scientists and equipment, and give their opinions of what they thought of it. But they insisted in holding to their rule of avoiding there. They only marched past the rooms, taking small glances.

The two psychic investigators had offered no explanations, keeping their views to themselves, and were probably keeping their minds open until they had properly investigated the rooms. With the amount of equipment that they had brought, he was sure that they would shed some light on things.

For some reason, the whole corridor seemed to have dud light bulbs, making it look more dangerous, as well as gloomy. However, he was starting to believe that something had recently damaged the line of lights. It was very hard to imagine them allowing all the bulbs to go dud without replacing any. The rooms had their bulbs working, but he was unsure if anyone had been using them.

As he roamed the dark corridor, listening to the sounds at the other half of the corridor, he still searched for anything that they might have missed.

He wondered if it had been Sir Richard’s intention, by giving him that room, to scare him out of coming back to the castle.

However, he considered it plausible that he might not have known it, as he was sure that he had not stayed in the rooms, because a servant had led him to it. Even though she might have been carrying out his commands. There were too many mysteries and not enough facts to accuse Sir Richard of anything.

Chapter 11

 

Treasure Hunting

 

At the front of the castle, Bryson rubbed his hands, and shoved them deep into the pockets of his thick jacket.

He had forgotten how hideous the castle looked from the outside. It had a look of having deadly things behind all its black windows.

The sun faintly shone through gaps in the thick clouds, edging under the trees, casting long shadows, through wild eddies of falling snow dust, making the castle resemble a castle out of an old horror film.

Bryson studied a clearing going through the wood, in the mess of vegetation in front of him.

Robert and James finished walking around it, and started to move away to it.

They entered the trees, going through the woodland surrounding the castle, as flakes of snow blew about them.

Robert determinedly stayed in front of Bryson and James, as they marched off.

“Where’re we going?” Bryson asked, watching Robert leading them away.

“We want to go over to a structure, out there,” he replied, to his surprise. “It’s in this direction! We saw it from a window on the top floor. None of us knew what it was! It’s in the estate, but not on the plan.”

 

The words of the clue echoed through Bryson’s mind, as the structure emerged.

When they finally approached the structure, a blanket of snow started falling. The thickness of it, and the surrounding darkness, engulfing them, covered up the looks of it. And he was only able to get one proper look at it before they reached it.

They rhythmically crunched through layers of snow (reaching up to his knees in places), and as they arrived at it, he thought of it as a type of castle pavilion.

The door surprisingly never had a lock, but it was heavy, solid, and it firmly shut behind them.

Columns of stone went about its interior like a Greek temple, and, in the middle, stone steps descended to somewhere below.

“Let’s check the underground chamber then,” Robert spoke, not waiting any longer, moving down the steps.

At the bottom, Bryson stopped to watch Robert examine some large tombs.

Robert’s dark figure, evidently startled, and strangely crouching, was speedily reading either something small or something hard to understand – but he saw that he had stumbled on something.

Chapter 12

 

The Vault

 

Most of the words carved into the tomb were by all means to do with the clue. Yet, though the most important words were there, they were in a riddle only comprehensible to someone who would have known the things that it suggested.

What had grabbed Robert’s attention had been that the tomb, of William Randall, had been the oldest. It had been what he had been looking for, as it was where his ancestor who had built the castle had been buried.

There were mentions of William Randall on surrounding tombs, of immediate descendants – with haunting mentions of him – many years later, as if he had been still around to read them.

“Do you get any of it?” James pleaded to Robert, after he had stayed watching him crouching in front of the tomb for an unbearably long time.

Robert pointed at the final words. “It’s that part of it that’s interesting: where sanctuary dwells for the last,” he mumbled.

“Does it refer to him as being one of them?” James asked.

“It doesn’t! It doesn’t explain … That’s what’s wrong …!”

“Perhaps Sir Richard just put the money in it?”

“I’m trying to discover what it’s referring to!”

“So we’re at the same place as before.”

The whole event confused Bryson, and it was turning to disappointment. It had made him happy though – at its simplicity. And there it was sitting out here.

Robert moved away, looking slightly baffled, as well as tired, but thinking of it; and James started copying down the words. Bryson was able to take a close look, from next to him. But he knew that they would be lucky to find anything.

What sort of person had he been though?

He decided to take another look at the other tombs, which had been his immediate descendants.

However, by the lack of anything that could suggest any insight, and by the behavior of James, he knew that the chances of finding it there were vanishing. And he could not think of what to do to put them back on the trail.

For a long time, Bryson went from tomb to tomb, and Robert and James did likewise – continuing to read them – until it was obvious that it was the only clue.

“So, shall we look then?” Robert muttered, moving over to the tomb, examining the lid, which obviously was made solid and heavy.

“How would Sir Richard have opened that?” James uttered, staring at it.

Bryson touched its surface, feeling crumbling bits of stone, dirt, and rotting vegetation spread over it, considering what they were doing.

There were no signs that anyone had already opened it – which Sir Richard ought to have done entering it. Had he had people and equipment to help him though? Yet would he have had trusted anyone, and given away that it was there.

He played with bits of vegetation, like moss.

He gave it a quick shove, pushing enough to check if it would move easily sideways, but it seemed firmly fixed in position, and would need much more force to shift it. The lid had to have been there since they built the place.

“Look!” Robert explained, going around it, at the other side. “It has marks on it – at this side.”

Bryson saw that someone had entered it after all. The people who had buried him would not have had opened it with a crowbar – besides the marks were more recent.

“Why would Sir Richard have hidden the money in a grave?” Bryson asked, seeing his reactions.

“You may be correct! I know he was ‘eccentric’, but I don’t believe that he would have opened a tomb, to leave his money there – all those years ago – out here. And where some grave robber could get his hands on it …”

“Let’s just open it,” James responded. “We can search for clues! It shouldn’t take long, and we can lift it easily together.”

Bryson moved over to the opposite corner from James, and Robert briskly went to the middle.

It being almost stuck together, combined with its weight, made it difficult, but they managed to budge it, so that it was balancing against the end.

As Bryson rested, his sight finally fell on a skeleton, and he reacted to having the privilege of encountering his great ancestor.

There was little dampness, apart from in the dirt that had fallen from the edges.

William’s height had been roughly the same as his.

Traces of hair on his skull showed that he had had similar looks too.

Robert poked under it, to see if there was anything under there, but it was solid.

Bryson looked for anything that he had not acknowledged, and, as he had predicted, he spotted something.

A pendant buried – hidden away out of sight – between his remaining ribs.

His fingers probed through the bones to fetch it.

The pendant had to be valuable: it was made of gold, with tiny jewels embedded in it. Mostly diamonds!

He wiped it, and fitted it in his pocket. Then Robert and James started moving the lid back around.

“We’ve the words on the tomb,” James stated, holding the bit of paper. “The three of us may find something with some time …”

He tapped it with his finger, perhaps considering if they could.

“We can have a copy of it each,” Robert replied. “And started upstairs. “And it’s too dark and dingy here to concentrate …”

They marched speedily up the stairs, as it became clear the darkness was completely engulfing the outside.

As they prepared leave, Bryson tapped the floor with his foot.

It was almost absurd! He dismissed the idea, and looked at the dark windows.

Pieces of material had fallen to the ground from curtains that had been at their sides.

He contemplated being buried there, out at the haunted castle.

Chapter 13

 

From the Depths of Hell

 

The pale sunlight had vanished under the horizon. Then the black winter night had rapidly engulfed them, and they had lost their way, as they had briskly returned.

Thick snow shrouded everything, creating a mind-bending landscape, which Bryson was too exhausted to attempt to recognize.

It was shocking how easily they had got lost. They should have stuck to the corridor, but, in the blackness and snow, it had turned indistinguishable – from the other gaps leading into the outer wood. But they knew the general direction, and they were too exhausted to go back.

A peculiar whistle from an unknown place shadowed them, driving him insane, trying to identify it.

Their legs almost became stuck in a deep bog of stinking vegetation, which resembled quicksand as it grew in depth. But Robert insisted that it was not, and continued to take them on through it, as if it only were another small obstacle.

Then, out of nowhere, a light emerged from the undergrowth.

Its radiance pulsated, like a living thing, magically illuminating the snow and trees.

While they silently observed it, loud pounds of something of immense weight rushed out – at them – causing them to scurry away.

They furiously moved their legs in and out of bogs, shifting away to hard ground.

They ran almost blindly, up and down, over humps and rough ground, rushing through thick trees and snow.

The heavy beast sounds furiously chased them.

It was like a strange nightmare!

They were breathless, and their legs could not take them fast enough, and the thing was closing in on them.

The shape of the castle was blissful from the black wood.

Its lights radiated the colossal tomb shape, through the wood, and they forced their legs to go faster.

The appearance of the hideous place, out of the night, amidst the jungle of vegetation, was staggering!

It was like a phantom castle, out on the edge of realism, on the bounds of what lay beyond – and that they were falling into the depths of hell, trying to return there – to reality.

The place looked static, with supernaturally glowing walls.

Branches broke to pieces as they ran through them!

The trees looked as if they were ready to fall to dust, but for the forces of something supernatural.

As though it were suspending the place – within reality!

Behind him, within shifting lights, darting about, through the wood, he saw ghost images of creatures, shifting too, doing hideous things.

Yet all his looks showed him nothing of the heavy monster thing, rampaging towards them – of clearly a hideous nature – as well as proportions.

Their minds conjured up hiding demon creatures, as they entered the edge of the wood – as they were ready to leave it – and they looked for ways to avoid them.

And they rushed across to the castle, and staggered to the doorway; where James banged at the solid wooden doors, almost bruising his knuckles.

A deep thud appeared from somewhere inside, and the door wearily creaked out.

Bryson swiftly recognized Sir Richard’s cousin, as he moved out from behind the door. And he studied his hunched elderly figure, and round glasses – glaring at him.

“Come in! They’re waiting on you …!” he explained, angrily – not even noticing their appearances, or anything!

Chapter 14

 

A Hideous Death

 

The bright light in large dining room made their eyes bulge as they entered, making him look around.

Two men and a woman were sitting silently, while curiously watching them.

Their weary faces showed no recognition of them.

Sir Richard’s cousin pointed Bryson out to them.

One of the men, the youngest and tallest of them, removed a notepad and pen, and the young woman sat upright – and both got ready to help the older man in the middle.

“You’re Thomas Bryson!” he exclaimed, writing something.

“Is everyone here?” Bryson asked, examining their official clothing (that of plain clothed detectives).

“They’re up at their rooms,” the older man answered authoritatively, showing that he was in command, and the man and woman with him were there to help him out.

“They’ll all be back down soon,” the woman replied, helping him to explain.

At that point, the older man, in one swift movement, entered the center of the room.

He stood firmly, with his hands gripping the top of the pockets of his trench coat, covering his suit.

“They’re present,” he explained. “That is … Except for one of the servants – Molly!”

Bryson made two attempts to identify him, but he was positive that he had not seen him before.

“Who’re you?” Robert finally asked, after resting.

“I’m Detective Inspector George Bailey.”

He silently studied Robert.

Robert and James then studied them, as a group.

Just as they finished, Inspector Bailey stepped back.

“I’m Inspector Bailey. I’m investigating her murder!”

“Here!” James asked, startled.

“Yes. Here!”

“Can you prove that you’re Inspector Bailey?” Robert asked.

Inspector Bailey produced his identification, which he grasped, with curiosity.

He adjusted his eyes twice to the light, before he examined it, and handed it back.

“You said that the others would be back down soon?”

“Yes …” Inspector Bailey replied, and suddenly stopped, forcing himself to leave something until later.

Chapter 15

 

Law and Order

 

Inspector Bailey resumed his pacing, leaving a faint trail over the carpet. His expressions occasionally gave away how deeply troubled he was, and that, most of the time, he was not mentally in the room.

Bryson wondered how easily they normally solved such crimes. He was sure that Inspector Bailey was keeping hidden facts that they should know, which were troubling him, and which he probably did not intend to tell to any members of the public, unless forced to.

The others were mainly in the lounge, chiefly watching Inspector Bailey. They were waiting for something to occur, or him to come to some conclusion – perhaps waiting for him to lose his temper, and to argue with them. Then he might give them some information, to enlighten them.

Bryson gave occasional shudders, from the exertion he had experienced in the woods. His lungs felt as if they had sandpaper grated over them. The cold air that he had frantically pumped in and out him had to have given him some kind of illness.

Robert and James sat at his sides, silenced by the whole event, glimpsing the window, as if something were going to come crashing through.

“How did the three of you manage to lose yourselves …?” the tall policeman inquired viciously – upset at Inspector Bailey not doing as he wished – examining again, trying to discover why they were so exhausted.

“The darkness and snow made us lose our way,” Robert explained, while keeping silent about what he thought had chased them.

The police obviously would not accept the full account, and Robert and James clearly did not wish to be involved in any way with the horrendous crime that had taken place in their absence.

Inspector Bailey turned his back to them – a yellow radiance flickered over the wall from him – and gray wisps of smoke rose from behind his shoulders. He swiftly gasped and blew out a cloud of smoke, from a cigarette.

He gradually turned, coughing into his handkerchief.

“I don’t understand,” Helen argued, “why someone would want to kill one of the servants?”

“Did anyone see anyone having an argument with her?” Inspector Bailey spoke, to Bryson’s amusement.

Nobody moved in the room, and Inspector Bailey continued to pace along in front of the fireplace.

“Where did she die?”

“Oh, the usually!” he muttered nervously. “The killer buried her body under the rubbish in one of the large metal bins, along from the kitchen door.”

“Who found her?” Bryson asked.

“She managed to stay alive until all of you left!

“They realized that she was missing, and searched where they had last seen her. They found strange marks on the floor, and followed them to her body.”

If it had been one of them, and not one of the other servants, who had done it, how could the person have done it? They had been in groups! If anyone had been missing, it would have been obvious.

Had this infernal place a killer? Yet who would want to kill an innocent, harmless, old servant?

Nothing about it made sense – but neither did anything else! – it was completely obvious that they would at least replace her (which was all he could make out).

From the looks that that he caught, he knew that the incident had affected the policemen. Some of them were now argumentative. And he was sure that they had not found any clues.

The killer had to be ruthless … And carefree, to have done it in the way that it had been done. The person had done it under their noses.

One of the policemen, wearing a uniform, who had been at the murder scene at the bins, strolled into the room, and silently conferred with Inspector Bailey. He spoke just out of range of their hearing his whispers. And Inspector Bailey never replied, or showed signs of what he said. Then they left the room.

Bryson touched his sore forehead with his fingers, feeling the coldness.

He saw that it had still stopped snowing, and there was a good chance, according to the forecast, that the weather would stay that way until the following day. Therefore, there was a chance that if there had been anything physically in the woods, chasing them, that the prints would be there.

He was beginning to believe that the place might have turned Sir Richard insane.

He wondered if the killer had an interest in the hidden money.

A vehicle screeched to a halt, outside the window, attracting the attention of the policemen in the other room, making one of them rush by, going to the door, with his walkie-talkie blaring out.

The policeman had a hard time opening the door, and Bryson listened to the woman’s voice on his walkie-talkie. She had clearly been communicating with the police in the vehicle outside.

Bryson then spotted the stunned looks of some of the women in the room.

Inspector Bailey remained normal, giving no reactions.

Nobody debated leaving the room, but Inspector Bailey insisted that they should see the body first.

When they entered the kitchen, Bryson turned his head to look in the direction of the open kitchen door, where the wind blew in short rhythmical gusts.

Through a window he saw the dark shapes of police cars, hidden in the dark, about the castle.

The brightness beamed from bright lights off a window, as they entered a room, and he recognized that it was the storeroom, at the back of the kitchen.

Then Bryson’s eyes followed Robert’s startled glare down to an area of the floor, where there was a body, covered over with a white blank.

“How did the killer manage to do it?” Sarah inquired. “Surely someone would have seen or heard something!”

Inspector Bailey placed his hands together behind his back and turned away, and strolled up to the window.

“She was on her own. And she then entered the kitchen – then here – to fetch something to eat …”

Bryson looked away, towards the hidden tunnel.

“Could the killer have used that tunnel to surprise him?” he muttered, slightly astonished.

Inspector Bailey walked towards it, examining it, and shoved it shut, feeling the weight of it.

Bryson examined it in more detail, astonished by it.

Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to make it with the castle stones. The large cracks between all the bricks hid it. It looked as though the builders had just badly built the wall.

“It’s peculiar!” Bryson went on, interrupting their examination. “That this secret passage is at the exact location of the murder.”

The outer door opened, and a forensic investigator, wearing a white garment over a suit, appeared, and Inspector Bailey rushed over to him.

“So you’ve not found any fingerprints or DNA!”

The man’s face showed only signs of disappointment.

“We’ve not found anything,” he muttered, as he shook his head.

Inspector Bailey’s face was cold and empty, showing little of what he was thinking.

A pale blue radiance appeared and flashed over the wall, at the window, from one of the police cars.

Voices of policemen discussed what they were investigating.

Inspector Bailey stopped in front of Robert.

He anxiously attempted to grab his attention.

“I want to stay here, with two of my men, and I want them to question all of you further. Some of you! I want more details on who accompanied whom. And I want who killed your servant!”

“Poor Molly!” Robert whispered.

“If anyone has any information, whatsoever, disclose it now, before it happens again!”

The door swung as a forensic investigator, wearing a white garment over a suit, marched past, and Inspector Bailey rushed out to join him.

Bryson wondered what would happen now. And why he insisted that it could happen again. Would the killer attempt to take the money or wait to see if they found it?

Chapter 16

 

Strange Encounters

 

Robert then led Inspector Bailey, two policemen, and them out of the room.

They crept up the dim and gloomy stairs, trying not to create any disturbance.

At the second floor, a few lights at the stairs was all that lit the corridor, and Bryson saw a light still on at their rooms, at the end of the dim corridor.

Bryson approached the rooms with noises, in the middle, with urgency, deeply overcome by the hideous place.

He swiftly went past the first room, wondering what Inspector Bailey would think of it.

But he seemed to do nothing else but continually thinking of everyone and their movements.

He recalled his arrival there, a few days ago. The interior of room had been stunning, as he had wandered through, into its realms. Everything had been identical! It had actually been identical to the way that he had left it – as if it had stayed there – frozen in time – waiting for his return …

A painting with some sort of animal (which he still could not identify) wearily hung above the bed.

Its strangeness awe-inspiring, and its similarities to modern paintings bewildering.

Inspector Bailey observed them, staying silent, as they past, almost from a scientific perspective.

At the rooms at the end of the corridor, Bryson entered his room, as Robert gave Inspector Bailey and the policemen the rooms next to it. He then came in his room.

“The strange thing is that nobody seems guilty of committing such a crime,” Robert muttered. “And I cannot imagine anyone here doing anything to …”

“Inspector Bailey must be wrong then!”

“Something else may have occurred.”

“Sir Richard’s death might have triggered something. Perhaps it affected Molly enough to make her do something stupid, causing someone to commit the crime. History is full of occurrences strangely happening simultaneously.”

“Maybe Inspector Bailey knows something else …!” he wearily moaned, and rested on an old seat.

Bryson unpacked things from his case and neatly placed them about the room. And he finished the task by placing a clock at a table beside the bed.

He rested on the bed, observing the room, from different perspectives, giving an occasional nervous listen for anything, and he recalled the events that had taken place there many years ago.

Robert stood, yawned, and marched out of the door.

“We’ll see …” he muttered, in the direction of Inspector Bailey’s room, and closed the door behind him.

At the back of the table, Bryson spotted a jar of water and two glasses, and he poured the water into one of the glasses and drank it.

He then switched off the light, and stopped at the window to glare out at the dark trees.

In the distance, a haunting glow illuminated, strangely cast around an animal-like shape, through mist, as if the moon were beaming from behind some beast.

The shape randomly drifted through the mist. Its movements roaming, as if searching for something.

He then heard the low chanting whispers that he had heard in the other room, before the other had sounds emerged. As if the wind were blowing gently against all the castle windows. Then as if it were emerging out of nowhere, with no particular source. And as if phantoms were flying about the ancient castle.

With the light switched off, he rested in bed, and glared out at the dark wood at the front of the castle.

He heard a distant croak, like from a rook watching there from somewhere. He could not detect where it was. It was too dark! There were no lights anywhere. It was strange, as there was no streetlight, and no glowing sky of the city.

 

Chapter 17

 

Celestial Wonderland

 

Specks of light endlessly glittered, as though he were floating in a celestial wonderland, with no thoughts or cares. Finally, free of all his depressing disturbances.

A curtain of mist occasionally appeared beneath him.

A glow illuminated it, strangely casting an animal-like shadow from him, through the mist, as if the moon were huge and beaming lunar rays from behind him.

He had a mild perception of dreaming, but it was like no dream that he could recall. It was so lifelike that he could not even imagine being in bed. He had no real thoughts, and his attempt to imagine things in it failed.

For a moment, he believed that he was floating over the clouds, with the world below.

Low chanting whispers created a hypnotic effect.

In the distance, a shape randomly drifted through the mist. Its movements endlessly roaming about, shifting towards him, as though searching for something.

It was slow, and he was so tired that when it reached him, he did not entirely perceive its presence.

His radiant celestial surroundings filled with shapes, like flying phantoms, moaning and wailing.

While their eerie murmurs grew loud and vicious, a sensation of great danger mesmerized him …

 

He silently shrieked as he awoke. The darkness of the room instantly blinding him, and he endeavored to pierce it with his weary eyes. However, as he awoke more, he realized that there was nothing there, but there were silent sounds howling through the corridor.

He jumped from the bed, throwing the blankets out of his way, darting at where he remembered the switch was – and instantly clicked on the light.

His mind was full of horror at what he was hearing and from what he had experienced, and he realized that the events had happened again.

A loud knock, from behind him, rattled a chair against the wall.

Bryson unlocked the door. The two psychic investigators were standing in the corridor.

“What in the hell is that?” he grumbled, confused, while something resembling a scream wailed out.

They stood together as a thud rhythmically grew, in the distance, shaking his clock.

Merton stood steady. “By the way that they alter and new ones emerge make it certain that whatever they are – they are authentic. But what we are listening to is presently beyond our perception …”

A dark figure edged out of blackness in the passage.

“What in god’s creation is that?” Inspector Bailey disclosed, as he held his trousers and shirt on him.

He wandered about the corridor listening to the distant wails, as if spirits were screaming in agony, burning in the flames of hell.

Chapter 18

 

Ancient Terrors

 

The something screamed in agony – completely panic-stricken, suffocating, or something, in something.

Merton and Mortimer monitored their equipment, while three scientists rushed about activating switches and altering controls, while new sounds escalated.

There were horrors in the shadows, and the outer dark bottom floor corridor now looked like a place that Bryson would rather not be near – even though it would be a more comfortable place to be with its outer silence.

The night had crept by, and he was starting to feel the after-effects of the staying awake and the cold – making him feel drowsy, with a slight headache.

“You were right about it being an active zone – whatever ‘an active zone’ is!” Mortimer grunted towards Merton and Bryson.

Bryson imagined them putting a sign on the door reading: KEEP OUTRESEARCH PROJECT!

“Is there anything different though?” Bryson asked.

“As far as I can see there apparently is nothing … The sounds changing have confused things though, as I’m unable to accurately establish if they are louder here, or, in fact, more silent.”

“We can easily check by going upstairs!”

“Okay, let’s take that up there then.”

Mortimer took a mental note of the levels on a monitor, places that he had put microphones, and he quickly packed it into its case. He then led them out of the door, and carefully marched through the dark corridor, listening to the sounds from the room behind him.

They remained the same, and Bryson noted that he heard them reappear at the same distance away, when they made their way along the second floor.

Once in the room, it was obvious that they were about the same, but Mortimer insisted in setting up the machine in the exact same way.

“It’s about the same!” he eventually moaned, still looking confused, but standing with his hands on his hips, carefully considering all the possibilities left (which was not much).

“This explains why there were no signs of anything,” Bryson said excitedly. “There were no real temperature changes! And nothing indicating the presence of anything. And, what is more, the sounds never responded to us … or to anything that’s apparently happening.”

Where is it occurring? There is no noticeable difference in the volume!”

“What’ll we do?” Bryson continued.

“Let’s leave it! I need time to think … We need time to think! We can discuss it back at the room, or at some other time …”

Chapter 19

 

The Light in the Woods

 

Merton stood, glaring in front of him, with his back to a blazing log fire, watching Mortimer, sitting at a small table, directly under the light.

His shirtsleeves were at his elbows, and there was a pair of glasses hanging over his nose. In his hand he held a pair of pliers.

Bryson’s entrance briefly disturbed him, but he continued working at the machine, opened up and sprawled across the table.

Bryson strolled over to the window, examining the equipment, and the places that they had placed it.

“There’s something strange about this place!” he revealed to them, mesmerized by the blackness outside, at the edge of his eyes.

Something strange,” Merton muttered indecisively, “about this place.”

“This place is not like any haunted castle that I have ever heard about!”

“It is different from anything I can recall,” Mortimer spoke, briefly looking up at the wall, behind the bed.

“What happened over there?” Merton asked, referring to the police cars out of the window.

“Oh! Just one of the servants being killed …!”

“Killed! How did she die?”

“Of course, she was strangled to death – the usually!”

“My god!” Mortimer remarked. “One of the servants was killed somewhere. Where was she killed?”

“Her body was found under the rubbish, in one of the bins, along from the kitchen.”

“How did that happen …? How did the person manage to kill someone with everyone about? Do they have any suspects?”

“I don’t know. We went out … They do not seem to know who did it … That’s why Inspector Bailey and two of his policemen are staying here!”

“We were going to go along there, but we changed our minds.”

“That’s not all! Something chased us through the wood.”

“What do you mean?” Mortimer said, looking up in surprise. “What did it resemble?”

“It was too dark! We were returning from a walk in the wood, over there, and some type of disturbance … A beast … Creatures … An entity … It came after us. We escaped from it … By a hairbreadth!”

At the window, he glimpsed something, like a light shining from something, within the depths of the wood. Though it could have been the moon beaming through a gap in the clouds, onto the snow, he knew that it must be the light that they had encountered there.

Bryson recalled, when they fled from the wood, that there were other creature-like noises in the surrounding trees – including the peculiar whistles.

The police cars, hidden in the dark, about the front, were so unreal – as though they were part of the set up of a television programme – as though they were there to create an illusion of realism.

How would they handle the things that took place? They might not bother showing the wall and its sounds. Nobody would believe that they were not sounds created by them – it could come across as a joke.

There were faint voices, then footsteps; and when he did not hear anything else, he looked.

In the light from a police car’s headlights, two policemen stood having a discussion, conferring over some particular point.

He tried reading their lips, checking their behavior, noticing any signs of anything, but it was no use. And one of them showed signs of being aware of his presence, seeing him in the light at the window, and then repeatedly turned his head sideways to see him. Bryson eventually just turned his back to them.

What would happen if they told them about the things in the wood? Surely they could not leave it!

How dangerous were they anyway? He was believing that they were paranormal things that not even the army could handle, and that they were best leaving them alone; and just to investigate them. They were doing the police a favor by not involving them. It would only confuse matters further, if they did exist. It also might mean more deaths.

He tried to imagine it as a real, normal thing. And the sounds from living animals.

Would they leave a killer lion roaming freely through the woods, ready mall any people that happened to be passing?

The region was a perfect hiding place for something – if it had the instinct to stay away from humans.

He was determined to leave things, so he could carefully determine what to do, instead of rushing in, and ruining things.

A bang from the car door captured his attention, and he saw the two policemen in the car, in the light in the interior. The one in the driving seat then bent his head down, observing the key, and the roar of its engine interrupted the outer silence.

Why had it vanished, when they had approached the castle? Why had it not tried to enter the castle, if it had been as bloodthirsty as it had seemed? Why did it not attack them during the day? What was it? What real origins had it?

There had to be a way of destroying it, before something serious occurred. It might someday confront the new owner of the castle.

He could not imagine anyone staying confined to the castle, without going out there.

Bryson could tell that Mortimer was now upset; his behavior gave it away – he restlessly thought deeply, while he worked. He was probably desperately thinking of a way to draw more than just noises from the wall. Not many people these days would believe what they had acquired, with all the sound recording studios and computer equipment available (it would not be hard to produce something like it).

He was sure that it would just be like one of the many hazy pictures of ghosts, Loch Ness monsters, and flying saucers.

Even though it was a fascinating project, beyond their wildest dreams, he was sure that they were losing confidence in anything else taking place. They hardly believed his account of what had happened in the wood.

Merton seemed more satisfied believing that he had exaggerated what it was. He said little, and gave away very little, about what he thought. He stood for a long time, just absorbing the warmth of the fire, occasionally keeping it burning, listening to Mortimer trying to repair some part of the machine.

They seemed to ignore his antics over it, perhaps being professional. They had never heard of the phenomenon.

If he could only think of a way to force their attention onto the phenomenon … He could pretend that he saw a werewolf or something, which would more than grab their attention.

Yet how dangerous was the thing in the wood anyway? Would it be more dangerous to encounter it …? And was there actually a way of investigating it, without it mauling him?

Bryson made them notice him. “If we could just check out that thing,” he muttered, “without being killed … We may even save someone’s life!”

He suddenly wondered why he was wasting his time.

“If there’s something dangerous out there,” Mortimer mumbled, “then it should have left traces of it being there. Therefore, we could take a look there, when we go out there tomorrow!”

“That’s a good idea,” he replied, feeling how tired his legs were. “I’ll go and get some sleep.”

Bryson left the room, remembering he needed the sleep.

The outer corridor was cold and dark, with a slight musty odor, with a resemblance to the above corridor with the lights off. His footsteps interrupted the silence, and he deliberately made them less obvious, almost creeping past the doorways, vaguely visible.

The rooms were very dark, and he fumbled along, looking for a light switch, while the floorboards creaked and shook under his feet.

He soon found it – much further up the wall than he had anticipated it to be – above where it normally was. A few bare bulbs, shrouded in webs and dirt, on worn wires, lit the whole corridor.

A door gently closed behind him, making him slightly jerk. It was obviously the air current from him rushing past, making the door move in a strange way.

Bryson removed a bottle of brandy from his bag. “Well, we should at least be comfortable.”

He was still going to have as much of a good time at the castle as he could.

He rotated the bottle in his hands, trying to recognize it. It was either so old that it was not made any longer or an import.

Bryson gently poured it into brandy into his throat, putting a slight gurgle into the emptiness.

He sipped more, and he wanted more.

Bryson felt the alcohol warm him.

For some reason, Bryson felt like to questioning Merton – to see what he thought – to find out what his views of the psychic phenomenon were.

Yet, somehow, he believed that he would not tell him very much.

 

Chapter 20

 

The Gold Pendant

 

Bryson rested on a seat at the window. While Robert stood at the bed.

By his attitude, he sensed something had recently upset him. However, the fact that it was something to do with their hunt for the money made it slightly amusing. Not even a murder, and a vicious killing of a servant, could keep upsetting him. It had to be something preventing them acquiring the money. What else could be so dramatic?

Bryson moved close to the window, allowing the sun and white glow from the snow, covering the landscape, to go over him. And he removed the pendant that he had removed from William Randall’s decomposed remains.

It gleamed under the morning sun, its rays streaming in through the bedroom window, beaming golden shades over the walls.

It swayed beneath his hand, on its chain, wrapped around his hand, as he glared at it, captured by its hypnotic influence.

He disregarded the radiating light, pulsating over his face, and he studied the ancient artifact, with increasing interest. It was the first time that he had seen it in daylight – and not in the dim surroundings of the vault.

“Are all those police cars still parked there?” Robert remarked, moving to look more closely.

“Most of them left, last night. They probably will return though …”

“They should be – it was on someone’s radio – the police are holding a full murder investigation into the servant’s death here. Most of the detectives are coming down from London.”

Was that why he was upset? It might possibly hinder their search.

He felt like asking, but he just left it.

Perhaps the pendant had a value as an even older piece of jewellery. Another ancestor could easily have passed it down to William. Royalty could have bestowed it upon him, or he might have paid a great deal of cash for it. Nonetheless, why would it necessary have a high value just because he had worn it? There were many reasons for wearing such a pendant.

“I would love to see that video of Sir Richard over again,” Robert spoke, rustling through objects, in his hand. “What do you think?”

“Why?”

“There may be some clues on it that we have not seen!”

His fingers parted, and he glimpsed a small notebook in his hand. He held a pen to his mouth.

“That’s a good idea! But what sorts of clues?”

“I am not sure … Examining pictures and films can reveal things that you originally might not have seen. Everyone was listening to what he was saying – they were not expecting him to announce that he had hidden it – their might have been some clue at the beginning of it, which went unnoticed.”

As he played with the pendant beneath his face, turning it around and around, seeking an answer to why he took it to his grave, he recognized a faint indentation over its edge.

Many such pendants opened to reveal inner enclosures, where there were such things as photographs. Perhaps they had drawings in them in those days.

“Your right – we might have missed something. He might have made a mistake somewhere – something that he had not noticed.”

At the thought of it being something of value, Bryson became extremely keen to open it. He found that dirt, encrusted in it, was firmly fastening it.

“He could easily have said something that he should not have. I’ll contact that lawyer – to have him show it again.”

Bryson opened one of his bags, at the table, at the bed, and he removed things that might have things in or on them that he could use to clean it. But the best thing was a needle, inserted in a roll of thread.

He carefully fitted it on the faint crack that went along its edge, without damaging the artifact.

Its gold twinkled at him as though it were winking at him, just asking him to open it. But after many attempts at it – trying to break it open – his impatience increased. And he had horrible thoughts appear of it breaking – and him finding it to be an incredibly valuable instrument.

His fidgeting aroused Robert, who gave slight glances at his figure at the window.

“What are doing?” Robert moaned, trying to see him, in the bright light surrounding him, at the window.

He ignored him, and he made less arousing sounds.

As he thought of William Randall, the cover of the pendent shifted upwards, by a millimeter, giving him the knowledge that it had an inner chamber. The line around it could have been part of the design or there from the way a craftsman had made it, which he had been starting to believe due to its insistence in not moving.

Even though it had lifted, the problem of opening it fully was still there – as something was jamming it. It neither lifted any further nor went back down. It had too much value to break it in any way – especially if it turned out to be a watch (but he doubted that they existed in those days).

He amused himself, calming himself in the process. It had been his ancestor’s pendant – and Sir Richard had given them the estate for ten days. If he only could find something valuable, he could show them that the hunt was not a flop.

If he had a few tools, watchmakers used, he could easily open it. He rummaged through his other stuff, with his mind carefully considering individual parts of things – considering them as tools. But there did not seem to be anything else.

As he returned to trying to open it, the lid squeaked and slightly lifted further – making him think of soaking it in oil. There was no need though as it came up, revealing a tattered bit of material.

It then instantly dropped in value, as it was not a watch, instrument, and it was not even solid gold as he had originally thought. It was an empty container, which William might have used to hold things.

He wondered if it could be a lucky pendant, and if it had something sacred in it. He shifted the piece of cloth around – feeling it for anything – touching a lump within it – and revealing a small key.

It was like a jewellery box key, but the end of it was strangely shaped. But was it another disappointment?

He went for the door, and decided to search Sir Richard’s room for something it might fit.

“Where are you off to then?” Robert remarked, as he reached the door.

“I’m going up to Sir Richard’s room,” he replied.

“You don’t expect to find anything there,” he informed him. “Everyone has been through that room so many times …”

“Well. I found a key, and I want to find out if it fits a lock.”

“What do you want to know that for? Even if it does, what use will it have?”

“I don’t know yet. I’m just inquisitive.”

“I’m going up there …” Robert announced – looking more determined.

“Let’s look there together then.”

“Okay. Let’s see that key first.”

Bryson removed it out of his pocket, and he took it from him, with much interest. But he quickly lost interest in it, and handed it back.

“It could fit something …”

“We are all going out there at some time.”

“Do you mean everyone …?”

“Yeah – all of us.”

“Why are they going out there? You mean that they are going for a walk – like when we went to the vault.”

“I never said that we were going to the tombs,” he moaned. “I meant that we are going out there – into the wood.”

“What for?”

“Do you remember when we went out there, that we went to that structure as we wanted to check it? Well, we are sure that there is another one out there – somewhere!

“And as I gather: some of them apparently want to look about that wood!”

“Why would they want to look about the wood?”

“They believe that the last refers to something that’s there.”

It alarmed Bryson, and he tried not to reply.

It annoyed him more than anything else. He could not imagine them coming up with that theory themselves – even if it did sound insane.

He calmed himself, rationally considering what they were doing, and why Robert had told him it anyway. He had to have told him it for a reason.

“Your investigators seem to have an interest in going there too! Perhaps they are interested in going to the tombs to set up some of their equipment there.”

For a moment, he looked a little surprised at his reply. But he doubted it.

Bryson strolled along the corridor, thinking of how insane it was: them all looking through that wood, with what could be out there – including a “maniac”, probably even capable of killing a group of them, if given the right means to do it.

What would happen if they stayed in this place too long? Would they be picked off one by one until they either sought sanctuary elsewhere or found a way of ridding the place of its awful menaces.

At the window, at the end of the top corridor, a rook tapped rhythmically at the window frame. It gave no indication of seeing them approach it, but it looked ready to fly away from anything that might confront it.

Robert led Bryson to the window, near Sir Richard’s room. And he watched the bird become aware of their presence, and fly up into the air, compelled to make a retreat from the strange giants.

Surprisingly, he watched a few cars approaching the castle. They were full of strangers, who seemed to have a reason for being there, and are full of life and keen to do something.

The car doors swung open, and he listened to them climb out of the vehicles. Banging doors, laughs, and voices mingled.

“James invited them,” Robert eventually confessed, after waiting for him to reply.

“They’re here to help you search!”

“We don’t have a large amount of time left … They may be able to achieve something …”

“Of course, but how much will they be acquiring of it?” he asked out of curiosity, wondering how little James would possibly pay them.

“They will be paid for searching and nothing else,” he replied firmly, mildly surprised that he thought that they would give away such a large amount of money belonging to them.

He examined his face for a moment, and he looked out of the window when Bryson did not budge.

He was sure that they had done it because he believed that if he had not they would not have a hope in hell of finding it. They would help them a lot, and he now could not imagine them going to the lengths that it would take to obtain it on their own.

Bryson turned, and nearly laughed, but saw how serious it was. The room was an absolute eyesore. It actually had becoming more messed up than it had been – and he had considered it to be in its worst state when he had last seen it.

He strolled over to the bed, while he removed the key. He lunged at an old chest, sitting under the bed, at the center of the bed.

“They don’t do things by half!” Robert uttered, glaring at the broken lock sprawled over the floor, at the opposite wall (probably thinking of it as competition).

Bryson picked up the broken lock. And he checked if the key fitted it. But it definitely did not fit, even though it almost was the same size.

He now suspected that it belonged to something else.

“Have you tried one of those keys there?” Robert mumbled – crossing the floor – avoiding the loose planks and other obstacles in his path.

“What keys …?”

“There they are!” he spoke, grabbing the keys.

Bryson knew instantly that one of them fitted perfectly into the keyhole of the chest, and that his gold key definitely never belonged to a chest.

Chapter 21

 

No Traces

 

Bryson approached the room where Merton and Mortimer were, and Mortimer peered out, hearing his footsteps; and Bryson saw that he looked almost unchanged since he had previously seen him.

Merton stood silently, observing him entering. “Shall we look outside? We may realize something from what is out there – gain an entirely new perspective of this place.”

“Good idea!” Mortimer spoke, tiredly stretching out his arms. “And, of course, we can check if that thing, you said chased you through the wood, has left any traces …”

Merton walked to the window, and allowed one of the scientists there to pass him. “It looks cold out there – we better put on some warm clothing.”

They then proceeded to the door.

Once Merton and Mortimer had put on the right outdoor gear, Bryson led them to the door, going out the back of the castle, out of the way of the police.

The sunshine, and white snow, blinded them as they squeezed through the door, partly jammed with snow, piled up against the side of the castle.

Mortimer shuffled through a knee-high layer of snow, moving away, and Merton, at first, could not move, but shuffled after him, tightly wrapping his jacket around him, shivering from sudden cold chills.

The snow thinned, as they went further out from the wall.

At the corner of the castle, Mortimer stopped and waited for them to catch up with him. He did not seem in a hurry to go anywhere – more like rushing to make himself warm. They had been stuck in the dark castle for a long time, without much exertion. Perhaps they should have eaten more than they had. With more sugar and protein, to keep them warm.

“Over there …!” Bryson said, looking at part of the wood, where he had swiftly escaped out of the wood, the night before. “Our footprints are still visible!”

Mortimer approached them. “I see that the three of you were running.”

Merton studied the separated prints, as they moved along.

“Perhaps it would be best to find something to defend us!” Bryson muttered, trying to warn them. “If we destroyed it, we would stop it harming someone someday.”

“It!” Mortimer muttered. “Let’s find their prints first. And obtain some type of insight into what we are up against.”

Bryson examined the snow all around him, keeping his eyes peeled for anything, in the trees. It was hard to believe that he was at the same place as the night before, and that the thing that chased them had even existed. There were no signs that anything had been there.

They strolled through the wood, following their frantically placed prints, and even came across a patch of marked snow where James had fallen over onto the ground, and they had frantically pulled him to his feet.

Bryson looked at every place he had heard the things, and every conceivable place that the thing could have been; but there were no traces of anything.

They finally gave up when they reached the place where the light had been; and Mortimer then led them back.

It astonished Bryson that the evidence of them being there, which should have been completely visible, was not anywhere. It was absurd believing that there was a chance that the snow had covered it. Why would it only have covered it …? They had their prints there! And there would be a larger level of snow.

At their approach to the back door of the castle, Merton stopped and looked at him.

“Your encounter might have been with an entity!”

“It had to be a floating one!” he joked. “But why was it so loud? I heard it crashing through the wood, charging towards us.”

“It might have created the sounds itself. Or like the sounds in the castle: they might have manifested from elsewhere!”

Bryson considered the facts from different angles, while he and Merton cleaned away the snow from about the door, before entering. Mortimer seemed to be doing the same, behind him, but, when he observed him, he saw that he was checking something further out.

After a few minutes, Mortimer crouched down to study something, on the snow. And they followed his path through the snow – to where he was – where the snow thinned out.

Suddenly, almost like magic, Bryson saw shoe impressions appear, going through the snow, leading away from the castle, and he rushed towards Mortimer.

“Whose shoe is that size?” Mortimer instantly asked.

“I don’t know!” Bryson answered.

It was impossible to tell, from the vague marks.

“They look as though they were made at about the same time as my prints were made – over at the wood. They could not have been made earlier, as they would be covered over with snow. And they could not have been made later, as they would have no snow on them.”

“Someone left the castle, at about the same time as you entered it! And they went off into those trees over there.”

“But nobody left! Everybody was in the castle when we arrived back. And who would have left in the dark to go over there?”

“We better tell Inspector Bailey about it!”

“I’ll go and find him?” Merton spoke, leaving them.

Mortimer finished examining it, and he stood with Bryson. It did not take long for Inspector Bailey’s heavy voice to appear from the castle – and rapidly come towards them. He was intensely questioning Merton.

He turned silent as he emerged from the castle – slightly shivering – observing the blinding snow.

He carefully examined everything about him. Merton walked past him, and two policemen came out.

They all moved over to them, and stood beside Bryson.

Inspector Bailey looked as if he wished to pace back and forwards, but saw the print and depth of the snow. He eventually satisfied himself by putting his hands at his hips, while chewing his lip.

The two policemen analyzed the prints, considering whether to start brushing away snow from one.

“Have you been over in that direction?” Inspector Bailey asked, looking at their trail going along the castle.

“No!” Merton replied swiftly. “We were over there…”

“Let’s follow them,” Inspector Bailey announced, setting off, going along the side of the prints. And they followed him, leaving the policemen at a footprint.

As they increased their distance, forensic investigators emerged out of the doorway, glancing at them and at the prints going off into the distance.

“This is a hell of a place!” Inspector Bailey mumbled.

It gave the impression that he had always been saying such things, but Bryson knew that it was something different to him, and he was handling something beyond what he normally had been dealing with. It surprised Inspector Bailey that there had been someone at the castle, and that the person had made such a dramatic exit.

The marks gave the impression that the person had rushed away. Perhaps the person had calmly strolled through the castle first. They were spaced further than normal, and unevenly separated, going in a slightly altering course into the trees.

“It might have been one of the servants taking a short cut!” Bryson asked, to see what he would say, and break the silence between him and them.

“You have to be kidding! None of the servants would walk out here during the day – never mind at night – at this place! The new owner may have to replace them now.”

He increased their pace, determined to arrive quickly at the trees.

They only slowed as they entered the first trees.

Crows, barely recognizing humans, flew up into the air, from above them, sending snow spraying about them, melting on their faces.

Mortimer led them deep into the wood, where it was more lifeless and still. There were no signs of anything.

The sun faintly shone, like the moon, through a thin cloud vapor.

Merton and Mortimer bored of searching for nothing, just copied Inspector Bailey, searching about the trail for clues left there. And Bryson intensely checked the undergrowth and branches, which went about them – in case the person had left anything, while going through the wood, in the dark.

To the their disappointment, a small farm road emerged across their path, and the prints vanished into the heavy tread marks going along it.

“Where does this lead to?” Inspector Bailey asked, trying to recall something like a map, studying the prints going onto the road.

“The village,” Bryson answered. “The person must have walked there, or used a car …”

Bryson realized that it had been a daft idea. The path would not have directly led to the person! The person would have to have been raving mad!

He was glad that they did not have to follow it any further. Because he wanted to return to the castle, as the lawyer would probably be arriving, with the video. And he had better and more urgent things to do.

Chapter 22

 

Direct Action

 

A policeman soundlessly guarded the dining room, with an occasional subdued degree of confusion – surely considering things told to him by Inspector Bailey.

On Inspector Bailey’s nod, he automatically turned off the lights, and the chattering dispersed.

The butler turned on the video, and as the picture appeared, Bryson watched the lawyer look nervously at Inspector Bailey, standing near him. He was sure that the police had realized something. Yet many of their reactions could be put down to a number of things. And he did know that Inspector Bailey for one wanted to move out of the castle as soon as he could. But he was considerably determined to solve the case first.

Some of the police, in nearby rooms, sounded as if they thought that the showing of the video was amusing. Their remarks, coming through the hall, were loud mutters, as someone had told them to speak silently.

When the video was started, Sarah and a few of the others sat with pens and pieces of paper, ready to record any valuable information, like tourists on a treasure hunt. Yet when it got under way, they did not write much, to his amusement.

It became apparent that Sir Richard had planned the video in more detail than they had been imagining. He seemed to have thought over every second and every word, like a good businessman, and no longer looking as insane as they had recently been thinking of him. (He avoided mentioning anything that was not to do with his speech!)

Bryson suspected that he was hiding things, and that the whole speech was an elaborate plan, carefully concocted to achieve something. When the video ended, and they had the lights on, he wondered if the old guy had actually done what he had said after all – and if it had been his last vengeance for something, perhaps at that time, which Robert had once suggested. Even though they had not done anything to him!

“Well, what are all of you going to do now?” Inspector Bailey uttered, looking at no one in particular.

“If any of you need me, I’ll be back tomorrow,” the lawyer swiftly spoke, as he removed the video from the machine himself – opened his briefcase, and dropped it in. He fixed his glasses on his nose, and made his way towards the door.

Bryson saw the policemen react strangely at the doorway, before the lawyer arrived there. The others in the nearby rooms stopped talking, as though to listen to the lawyer.

The lawyer’s eyes bulged out, from behind his glasses, as he went around the door. And he held his head down, and rushed forwards, ignoring who was at the door.

A policeman finally summoned Inspector Bailey, and he crept out to the door.

As soon as he heard voices, coming from outside, it was evident that the media had arrived. However, as they continued talking, they all became interested, and he followed Robert and some of the others to the window.

To his amusement, he saw a large group surrounding Inspector Bailey, and two policemen.

News programme cameramen and newspaper cameramen rushed about filming him from every angle, while microphones were being shoved in front of him. They obviously were all part of the national news media. And they seemed very interested in the castle, with its haunted castle look, which they vigorously tried to capture on film.

“Is there anyone famous there?” James inquired, from the side of the room.

“I recognize two of the women with microphones …” Robert muttered.

Bryson and the others shifted back into the room, and sat listening to Inspector Bailey, with a little astonishment, almost transformed by the experience.

“So did anyone discover anything from that video?” Robert asked, standing in front of them, slightly copying Inspector Bailey – who was at the same time now loudly giving a speech on how he would solve the case soon.

Their ears in the room mostly shifted from side to side, verifying their suspicions.

“I think we should now check the castle ourselves!” James uttered loudly, from the side of him.

“What …?” Sarah moaned, bemused, at what he meant.

“I don’t trust anyone any more!” he argued, losing his temper at something, confusing everyone.

Sarah made a stupefied grin. “What do you mean?”

James jumped to his feet, and paced about in front of them. Then he stopped in front of the television screen, giving indications that he was going to come out with an embarrassing speech about something, or argue with them.

“There is nothing mentioned there that says that we could share the search. It said that the person who finds it could have it!”

Instead of everyone in the room arguing with him, as Bryson expected would occur, a few of the women suggested that they believed that he was wrong, and the rest agreed, and they all ignored him.

Robert just laughed, and remained silent.

When the room turned silent, Robert moved beside James. “What do you think you are doing …?” he argued.

Bryson noticed that the women in the room now had worried looks.

Sarah glared angrily at James. “You search on your own then!” she grunted, sounding slightly drowsy.

“What’s wrong now?” Inspector Bailey spoke, smiling, as he entered the room, looking content at finally handling what he had been doing. Some vehicle doors banged outside, making him stop to listen.

Bryson heard them leaving, at the front.

“Has someone discovered anything?” Robert uttered, glancing about him. “There’s still a good chance of finding it.”

Bryson looked about him, but nobody said anything.

“Look!” Inspector Bailey vented, seeing the other policemen losing interest, and leaving. “Try looking less on your own more – in whatever groups you want to be in.”

Robert agreed, and James rapidly agreed with the idea.

They accepted the arrangement, and Inspector Bailey left to go to where the other policemen had gone.

 

Chapter 23

 

Faint Traces

 

When they entered the library, through the darkness, Bryson sensed something unusual. But he only grasped that there was less snow on the ledge.

Yet things still seemed different.

It was thoroughly black outside, and they all grouped about the table, on seats, sitting on the floor, or standing at walls, becoming familiar with their new surroundings. Most of them were the people whom James had brought into to help.

Bryson then realized that there had been one difference in the room – the door to the library had been slightly open, and he had firmly shut it. It was strange, as even if it were not open, as he remembered it to be, he could not realize why it was unusual. Powerful drafts were capable of pulling as well as pushing objects around.

He examined individual objects in the room, from different perspectives, trying to see if there were anything altered – and it was apparent that different bits of furniture about the room were in different positions.

“Where are they?” Merton moaned, as he arrived, at the outer door.

“They are in here.” Bryson called out.

Snow sprayed across the window, creating a feeling of warmth, from being in the warm and sheltered confines of the room.

Before Bryson spoke, Merton and Mortimer entered, and, with some satisfaction, glared over at the books.

“There has to be something here!” Merton declared, following Mortimer in the doorway, looking all about it.

“There’s a lot …” Mortimer muttered, trying to see their titles. “But why would they mostly about business?”

“Where will we begin?” Merton asked.

“At the start!” Bryson announced, getting a smile from some of the others sitting or standing in the corner, near to the books. And he reached out, to grab a handful of books.

Merton just randomly chose a pile of books, and put them onto the table, next to him, and sat beside Bryson. He quickly confirmed that the first book was what he believed it was, by examining things in it – until he lost interest in it.

They were soon flickering through pages, trying to speed up the process. Nonetheless, it was apparent that it would take them a long time to look through them.

“There’s a fireplace in there,” Merton explained, standing up, feeling the cold. “If we fetched some logs, built a fire in it, and shut the outer door, we could make it warm in here.”

“Good idea!” Bryson answered, with some of the others agreeing, and following Merton to the door.

Bryson considered helping, but did not bother. However, he removed two bottles of wine and glasses, which he had brought with him.

He gave everyone a glass, and returned to work.

He sipped the wine, while relaxing into the seat.

He turned the pages of books sometimes confused at the contents.

Sometimes having to dust the edges of a book, and hold back a sneeze.

“There does not seem to be very much to see in these!” he finally admitted to himself out loud, thinking of ways to cover the whole library.

He picked up many books, astonished at how little they had to interest him. The temptation to flicker through them increased, and he occasionally glanced through the titles.

Once the wood was freely burning away in the fireplace, heating the room, and not filling the room with smoke, or, as far as he could see, setting the chimney on fire, he added more wood; and he retreated to the books.

He recognized Merton and Mortimer’s behavior and that they intended to stay late into the night. However, he did not know how long he would stay there, as he was tired already.

James was flickering through pages without observing them, as Bryson carefully checked the options open to him.

“Here’s an interesting book!” Merton announced – standing up, and sitting back down – holding the tattered book by his fingers, allowing them to see it. It looked old, and from around the First World War.

“It’s a book about castles!” Mortimer remarked, hold out his hand.

“We’ve seen it!” James answered.

“This castle may be in it!”

Mortimer took it from him, and studied its contents.

It finally became obvious that he did not see it, and he started flickering through the pages.

Bryson felt the warm air from the fire slowly surrounding them. It now felt more like a proper library.

“Well, it’s a start.” Merton muttered. “There has to be more books like it, and luckily there will be one that will be of use.”

Mortimer nodded his head.

Mortimer finally examined it on the table.

Bryson removed the map that he had found in the book, and showed it to Mortimer, telling him how he had found it.

Mortimer carefully unfolded the tattered piece of paper on the table, as they watched on, trying to see what it was.

“Well, what is it?” Merton asked, frustrated after waiting, watching him examining it.

“It’s an old drawing of the castle.”

Merton took it, and held it over the table.

He and Bryson considered the faint lines for a moment. It was a map of the interior – drawn by someone. Perhaps something someone visiting might have drawn.

After some consideration, Bryson was sure that it had not been made by Sir Richard, and that he had not drawn it when he had inherited the castle.

Yet he realized that he might have put it in the book, and perhaps even forgot about it.

He tried to realize what he had been like. What had he actually been like younger? And what had he thought of the castle?

There was a chance that he might have stayed the way that he had been, in many ways, and he might have always had a dream of hiding his money, and had thoughts of it being a good idea, for some reason.

He might even have obtained the idea of where it had been best to hide it from his first searches of the castle. It could be more valuable to them than Mortimer had assumed.

Merton studied it from different angles, and became uninterested in it. He obviously wanted to know why he was so interested it.

“That looks like a faded cross marking this library,” he muttered.

Bryson viewed it, with much interest, realizing that he had forgotten about it. The library was older than he had thought. It even looked strangely marked on it.

This interested him, as he wondered where the original books had been put. So far he had not seen any of them. He randomly searched through the titles for them. But he only saw the books that Sir Richard had put in it.

What did he do with the original books – which must have been there? On the other hand, he might have thrown them away over the years, especially if they had just been unwanted books from the previous person.

Once he spotted Merton had lost interest in it, he swiftly took it away from the table, and put it in his pocket. He then pulled over the book that it had been in, for a close look at it.

 

Chapter 24

 

The Treasure Hunters

 

Mortimer became more interested in observing the room.

“How do you know that Sir Richard never invested his money in something?” Mortimer suddenly remarked. “He could easily have concealed it somewhere – without it being noticeable.”

“Such as that bottle of wine!” Sarah joked, and Bryson stopped piercing the cork with the corkscrew, to smile back to her.

“Bottles of wine are not worth that much,” he joked, checking the label, and continuing with the operation.

“He was a businessman … You kept saying to us. Businessmen like investing in things … Perhaps there’s an item that he expected to grow dramatically in value.”

“Such as one of the paintings,” Bryson commented, making them look at each other.

“What about the paintings …?” Mortimer muttered, turning around, looking at the painting behind him. “Has anyone checked the value of this one?”

“We would have noticed a valuable painting,” Bryson replied, taking the glass of wine, and gently sipping it, to taste it first.

“That’s not that valuable,” Merton responded, remembering he had been checking them. “They are all over the castle. They are mostly only pictures of the estate.”

“But there may be one somewhere else … Hidden!”

Bryson considered the idea again. “You may be right – there may be – we have not even been in some of the rooms yet. I cannot imagine any of the furniture and antiques that I’ve seen being worth that much. There would have been a serious risk of someone damaging it, not realizing its value – or even future owners just discarding it. It has to be something that would not have been damaged, and be in a place where it would have been safe.”

“That’s could be correct,” Mortimer replied.

“I think that we should just continue to search objects about the castle as we go along.”

“Let’s have another look in here …” James replied.

Sarah lifted part of the carpet, at the corner of the room. And James grabbed a loose plank, and pulled it up. Then he placed it against the wall, and used a torch to observe under the floorboards.

They removed more, and examined the stone of the original floor under it, under the thick layer of dirt and old pieces of building materials accumulated there – mostly from when they had built the upper part (built when they had installed the electricity into the castle).

James tapped the foundations, and original castle floor, trying to realize how thick it was. It obviously was very thick and solid, like the walls.

Bryson considered if Sir Richard could have cut a hole in it and buried it in it. However, if he had put it in a place such as that, it would almost be impossible for them to find it, without taking apart the castle bit by bit to find it. The immense amount of places that he could have put it was tremendous – especially if he had cemented into one of the walls, giving it a thick outer shell enough to stop them detecting it as a hollow zone.

He vaguely wondered how safe the castle about him really was. Ancient craftsmen, with only a basic knowledge, had built it. Who would know if they had designed it to last a few decades, or something? Yet if it had stayed up the amount of time that it had, it must be strong enough not to collapse. They could have easily built it to last! He had only seen derelict castles crumbling away, and he had never heard of one such as it falling down. However, he had heard of parts of modern structures collapsing.

“If we could just obtain some more information about Sir Richard!” Merton suggested, looking at the books, with interested.

“What do you think …? Is this Sir Richard’s personal library …? We’ve only searched through some.”

“How many of them are there,” Mortimer replied.

“It’s a large amount.”

“They seem to be mainly business books, but I have not thoroughly checked them.”

“Let’s search for an answer to the clue …”

Bryson shifted out of his seat. “There is a large collection, but we may be able to check them without wasting time.”

 

Chapter 25

 

Uninvited Guests

 

Robert’s face showed signs of strain, so Bryson promptly sat along the table from him, not wishing to displease him. The stress causing it was not in any way evident. There were no signs of anything taking place, or having occurred in his absence.

Nonetheless, he just took it that he was running out of proper ideas – the many other problems – and the grim reality of the situation.

The others stayed almost silent, as they had been, only conferring in mutters, in their groups, which they were working in; with their discussions noticeably avoiding talking about their search.

Robert placed his head in his hands, tightly pressing his elbows against the table, which had already marked his jumper. Now he knew why they used those ridiculous elbow patches.

Robert eventually removed one of his elbows, looking slightly sleepy, making an effort to be sociable.

Bryson fought to rectify a smile, which emerged on his face, while Robert pulled his chair over to him.

“Do you know that the police have not found anything?” he spoke, shuffling a napkin around, and folding it.

“They’re doing their best!”

“They’re carrying out their investigations at the village,” he continued, almost yawning.

“I didn’t know that.”

Bryson checked Mortimer, Merton, and Helen sitting silently, in a line, going along the opposite side of the table. They occasionally took something to eat.

His watch told him that it was later than he had imagined, and that they would not be there long, before they would return to the library, to continue their search. He was still positive that Merton and Mortimer were planning to stay there until it was late, to continue to conduct a proper research of the castle.

“Where’s James?” Bryson asked, trying to find some more information about him, knowing that Robert had been closely watching him, almost following him around – perhaps to see why he had been so obsessed with working on his own. Most of the others seemed to have been working near him, as if he now had magnetism.

“He returned to his room, just before I came here,” he instantly replied, giving a slight venomous grin.

“So was he annoyed at not finding anything?”

“He was arguing, but I don’t know if it had anything to do with him not finding anything. Why …?”

Bryson saw that the others were growing restless.

“Let’s have another look in the library.”

“Good idea!” Bryson replied, leaving with him, observing the pictures on the walls, once again.

Bryson could not see any sign that there was anything of value. But there could be a connection between something and the clue. The answer to the clue could be in one of the scenes of the paintings.

At the door to the library room, Robert turned silent, looking startled for a moment, holding his composure. He proceeded in, creeping, not making any sounds.

Bryson saw the door partially open, and that the light was on.

He stuck out his head, and promptly shoved the door wide open.

Bryson, in one movement, shifted in front of it – instantly seeing James, sitting himself, at the table.

“Did you just come in here!” Robert asked, moving into a seat, surprised that he had been there.

Bryson watched him. “Did you move the furniture in here?”

He sighed. “I was looking around.”

Bryson saw by his tense attitude, as well as his replies, he was annoyed. Perhaps at being questioned.

Sarah emerged at the doorway. Her face showed some surprise at seeing them.

“Are the rest of them coming back then?” James asked, curiously.

“Apparently not.” Robert voiced, watching him become happier.

“Who relit that fire?”

“We did,” James confessed.

Sarah stood where she was, staying away from them, as though waiting for James to continue, and perhaps somehow sort out a problem.

“Look!” Bryson moaned. “We are searching together.”

James and Sarah suddenly moved out of the room, and started whispering.

He tiredly turned to them. “We’ll share it …” he replied.

“We agree!” Robert swiftly answered, humorously. “But you’ll have to find something first!”

They vaguely smiled at each other, with slightly embarrassed expressions.

“Of course,” James muttered, “they’re just useless books, and we are wasting our time looking for anything.”

They began where they had been searching, before leaving to have a meal. Bryson and Robert built up the fire, so that it was heating the room more. It now seemed colder. It might have been the amount of people in the room, actively moving around, that had been there.

Bryson watched James and Sarah return, and saw that the agreement between them would last. And that they were in complete agreement over something else.

He occasionally observed them, from the edge of his eyes, trying not to look at them too much. He watched them to see what he was missing.

They were just examining the covers more than the contents. It was all that he needed to know, to realize that they would not find much.

He had occasionally walked along examining them, without removing them off the shelves.

It was noticeable that Sarah did not fully know what she was looking for, and was going out her way to please James. He did have a good idea of what he was looking for, and was insisting on looking for it in particular – especially in the titles.

He was sure that if the map of the castle had not fallen on the floor, that they would not have found it.

There was something about hunting for hidden things that he did not like. There were too many things suggesting where things could be. The mind could almost turn anything into looking like a clue, just by staring at it for long enough, if it wanted to find something badly enough. They could follow false clues to the day that they left if they were not careful. He was sure, that if they had not already been doing it, that they would start doing it as soon as they had checked the main places at the castle – and had no real ways of finding it.

Here they were searching a library for the answer to a clue that could be anything. The amount of things that the mind could associate with it was vast. He doubted if the treasure seekers that he had seen in films, who had chased after clues, could have answered the clues, which they had solved, in real life. Why had he never heard of anyone chasing after treasure? As far as he was concerned, the people who had found things had been looking for them in things like ships, which people had recorded as having treasure, and which something had sank in a specific region – not by solving strange riddles! People found them with machines and knowledge.

They would need a great deal of luck. People customarily only found treasure, searching the places that ships sank.

He realized that he now did not believe that people following clues, from things like Egyptian sites, ever found anything. They endlessly chased after the Holy Grail, Golden Fleece, and Egyptian treasures. The people who had found such things had been lucky – to have been in the right places, doing the right things, which had led them to find the things. Many people had found things while looking for other things. And he could not recall hearing of any of them finding what they had been looking for. However, he had not heard about that many searches.

He tried to compare their circumstances with what he had heard, but he could not recall anything.

He was sure that most people would have no real reasons to report finding anything. Why would they want to? Why tell that people had actually gone about hiding treasure, leaving maps, and riddles?

Would real treasure maps, which people drew, be incomprehensible to everyone else? They surely would try to stop someone else putting their hands on it. Why would they write down obvious places and names that they knew? If someone found it, the person would take it – if the person knew what it was (especially someone with an interest in it).

They could easily use codes and words that other people would not be able to understand. Perhaps they would miss out and muddle up things on it, so that other people would not be able to establish things, and if numbers were co-ordinates or paces. They could put in false clues, and easily remember the real ones.

Furthermore, the clue that Sir Richard had left could be incomprehensible everyone on the planet – apart from him – without him having even realized it. He might have based it on something that people from his era would have answered off the top of their heads.

Bryson was beginning to believe that James knew something, and it would not take long before they found out about it.

Chapter 26

 

The Real Library

 

As Bryson thought of where the best place to look was, as an alternative to flicking through endless empty books, he remembered the plan of the castle.

Then he watched James measure the floor, and he removed the crumpled map from his pocket. It was more damaged. But the plan on it was in the same condition. It slightly surprised him, as he expected it to have dulled lines and blemishes to the faint marks, because of its already bad condition and ancient age.

Bryson glared, partially blinded by the illumination from the sun, and its powerful glare from the snow. However, when it decreased, he saw much more detail – than he had seen before under the room’s light – and faint lines that had faded, and that had not been visible before.

He studied the things on it, astonished at missing them. And he saw something at the small cross at the library. The cross was so faint that he could easily have taken it to be a badly drawn mark or correction rubbed away. But he knew that it was something, after some consideration on that it was some form of indication!

Yet its size was not big – it looked too small to be significant – and it was not just a bad drawing, as it had been carefully drawn there. Why had the person gone to such lengths to draw it so well into the sketch?

Bryson stood up, and started helping James to measure the room, who took it that he knew what he knew.

They paced across the library room – from the furthest wall into the outer study. Then they left the room, and they paced along the corridor, to the same distance.

At the door to the next room, they saw that there was a large distance between that room wall and the library wall. And the room wall did not sound as thick when they tested it, and it was not as thick a stone wall as in the other rooms.

It had to be some type of cupboard where they had once stored things, and they had no longer used. If so, someone had hidden it, like the secret tunnel leading to the kitchen.

Had Sir Richard known that it had been there? And had he been the one who had marked it on the old map, and had forgotten about it?

Nonetheless, how could they check it? Where could the entrance to it be? It could be sealed, but there could be a way to climb into it.

Bryson considered it for a moment, remembering the last time that he had been up at the top floor, and the hole in the wall that they had made to enter the tunnel. Did James intend to knock a hole in one of the walls?

Robert’s face showed puzzlement, indicating that he had not realized what it was. There was something in the book in front of him that interested him more.

 

“I’m not sure,” Bryson replied, removing some books, and tapping the wood, listening to see how hollow it was. There obviously was not any stone behind it. He was sure of that!

“Why would someone put library shelves over an empty area?” James replied. “They normally put them on a wall – attaching it – making it secure! – using the full amount of room available for it.”

“Which looks small to me!” Robert answered.

James marched over to it, and tapped it at various places. “It’s hollow!” he firmly confirmed.

Robert dropped his book onto the table, suddenly looking more energetic – gaining energy from the thrill that there was another discovery about to be investigated.

“It would be a shame to ruin this library,” Bryson explained, considering the tunnel that he had made. “If there’s nothing there – we could make a hell of a mess!”

“How can we check what’s behind it then?”

“We’ll need to tug at it,” Robert replied. “Then we may be able to find out what is holding it in place.”

“They had to have fixed it to the roof, floor, and walls. How else could they make it stay fixed in place like that without it?”

“Let’s check it first, before we come to any conclusions.”

The three of them went to different places at the shelves, and they synchronously yanked at it – feeling its weight and that it was thick, heavy wood.

Robert’s side then slightly shifted outwards – proving nothing was holding it there, and that it only had something stopping it going further into the hollow section behind it.

“Let’s pull Robert’s section out,” Bryson uttered, “and see if we can shift it any further.”

When they grabbed and heaved at Robert’s side, it shifted easily – and they continued pulling it out in stages – like a giant door.

There was no sign that anything kept it there. Its weight was enough to hold it. And Bryson looked for what had been stopping it moving further inwards, and he found a dark space had opened up behind it.

Large webs stretched across it like a giant veil.

Bryson allowed James to go into the gap, pulling away the layer of webs. At a position where the blackness engulfed him, he fumbled about with a cable on the wall.

Suddenly, the whole wall shifted outwards, and Robert automatically pushed it, until it was near the window – revealing a hidden section behind it, full of books.

“It’s another section of the library!” James uttered first, looking confused.

“Someone must have put it there to fit in more books,” Robert uttered excitedly, looking at the cable.

Bryson traced the cable, while they watched.

It went into the wall that the corridor was behind. It had to be connected to something to open it, in the direction of the study.

“That’s crude,” Robert observed. “I’ve never heard of that before. Perhaps it’s a Victorian invention … They had such contraptions …!”

Robert glared at the books with much interest. “These are a lot different …”

Chapter 27

 

The Diary

 

Bryson observed the whole inner library, as he entered it, from a distance, seeing what would become noticeable. His sight instantly fell on an old black book.

For some reason, he could not determine why it seemed as if it had been placed there!

He soon realized that it was not a normal book: it was a diary, and it had events scribbled through it with a quill pen.

“What do you have?” James asked, with interest.

“It’s a diary …”

Bryson conjured up images of one of his ancestors, wearing giant ancient clothes, at a desk, at it, giving their daily thoughts …

Yet the more he read it the more important it became, and it then gave him details of hidden treasure.

There was no doubt about it, and he dropped it on the table not caring if it damaged it.

It was an authentic diary of one of his ancestors, who had stayed in the castle during the Victorian era, and who had been the daughter of the owner. It gave extended accounts of the woman, the activities that she had taken part in, and the things that had happened to her. It was so personal in places that he was sure that it had not been supposed to have been read by anyone except her, and that she had written it to herself to look back on at an older age.

The references in the journal to a treasure began with mentions of tales that had been passed down to her by her father, who had insisted that the family had passed the information down to him (as they had done since the construction of the castle).

“So what is it?” Robert remarked, observing his strange reactions.

“I think that there’s another fortune hidden here!” Bryson uttered, astonished, dropping the book again, producing a bang. “This woman’s father told her about a treasure that their ancestor who had the castle built had hidden here …

“There’s a page missing!” he announced, frantically looking for it.

He then lost interest, and read more, trying to find something that would prove him right.

“Do you know,” he explained aloud, “that William Randall hid the remains of his vast fortune …”

This finally grabbed Robert’s attention.

“It actually says that?”

Bryson turned it about, pointing at part of the text. And he took it, and read it for ten minutes.

“It does: it says William Randall hid it in case any of his enemies attacked the castle. It mentions that he intended to capture the castle back, and that he died with it still hidden …”

Chapter 28

 

Perilous Endeavors

 

There were no clouds in the morning sky. The snow had stopped at around midnight.

Bryson lifted the previous day’s newspapers from the floor, below the bed, and recollected the weather, just before he came to the weather forecast. There was a worsening forecast for the rest of the week.

The servant’s death, on the front cover, was startling, but he had known and expected to see it. What it surprised him about was how far they described where the castle was.

He did not know why the reporters and other media people were taking such an interest in the place.

But it was the twenty-first century. People, even about this region, would not take news events, even happening around them, very seriously – and take that much notice. However, he was sure that they would have noticed this story, with a murder occurring.

It made him fully realize how out of the way the place was.

Bryson lifted the sheets, to climb out of bed, and gave a spontaneous shudder, as he felt the coldness of the room – with a slight draft blowing through it, from the door to the window.

He dressed himself quickly, and instinctively, ignoring it, trying to think of a way to warm the room. Then he moved over to the window.

From the snow, there were no signs that any cars had entered or left the castle – also proving that the servants had not arrived yet.

He considered how they would arrive at the castle if the snow blocked the road, as it probably would.

It was just like Sir Richard to die in the middle of winter – while blizzards were tormenting the landscape.

Bryson filled a bag with some things that he wanted to take with him. He cleaned his winter jacket, and folded it over his arm. It felt slightly damp though, which could prove that some dampness had entered the room.

He wanted to go out before it snowed.

He unlocked the door, and closed it at the outside.

There were no sounds from the other rooms.

None of them had even suggested seeing the hidden library, and it surprised him that they had not found it – considering the amount of ground that they were covering.

As he wandered through the silent corridor, towards the library, and to Merton and Mortimer, he considered what to do. There were two main options, which he could see: they could stay in the library or they could keep looking in the rooms.

He glanced into some of the rooms, to see if there were any doors similar to the door on the library room.

At the library door, he heard vocal tones from inside. They sounded very awake, and that they had gone in there not that long ago – rather than them being there for many hours.

But they usually were more awake at late and early hours.

They usually needed to stay awake to check things satisfactory. Even though many investigators set up their equipment and left it – and checked the results later.

They enjoyed their work, and the thrill of the encounter. But he was unsure that they had fully accepted that there were real dangers.

One look in the library, and at them, confirmed that he was right – they were active, cleaned up, and ready for action.

What they were thinking of doing was not quite clear though, and he could not imagine that they were excited about sitting in the library.

The books were at their feet, and they were studying opened books, all over the table.

“Did all of you have anything to eat?”

“Yes!” Mortimer replied. “And we had a good meal last night – with Inspector Bailey.”

“Did you find anything here?”

“Nothing significant!” Merton replied, looking slightly guilty. “There are Victorian books on psychic research, which are very interesting, for our normal research, but there is little to do with here. Other than the fact that the books show that someone here was interested in explaining what was occurring here.”

What did they think of the castle now that they had read the stuff and had conducted their experiments (besides being confused about certain things)? What sort of ghosts went rampaging through woods?

If the local stories were correct, it was capable of smashing to bits a horse carriage, and it could knock over trees.

Its strength must have limits, or the entire wood would have trees strewn about it, as though a hurricane had been through it.

However, when they had checked the wood, there had been no prints from it, and there had been no noticeable trees turned over. But it might be able to do it under the certain circumstances (which could mean that it could change its strength). Perhaps it could change its speed, making it even more dangerous.

It could be an entity with a type of computer intelligence, programmed to attack humans.

But who had programmed it?

“We would like to see those tombs you mentioned!” Mortimer declared, smiling – instantly grabbing his attention – producing thoughts of it smashing him to bits.

Bryson hesitated for a moment, and steadied himself – calming his mind.

They obviously had a good reason for wanting to go there. Even though he did not know why it was so important.

It even managed to overshadow the sounds of that room – perhaps for the first time in his life.

What would his life have been like if he had met with those things in the wood …?

“Why do you want to go there?” he answered.

“There are numerous reasons …” Merton stated, obviously avoiding answering his question. “We want to look around – as part of our research!”

“Nothing should happen during the day,” Mortimer continued. “It only manifests at night …”

“So all the stories say! If you want to go there, then I’ll take you. But I would prefer to go now, if you do not mind. It becomes dark pretty early here. There’s also a chance that it may snow today.

“Perfect!” Merton replied.

Bryson walked over to the window, to look about the trees. A few crows flew over them, indicating that there was food or something near them – and they were hungry.

Suddenly, he saw something moving to the castle, through the wood.

The figure of the butler emerged, on the road going to the castle, which was attracting the attention of the birds.

The rest of servants appeared, with the butler leading them towards the castle. He was sure that they had walked from where they had parked their vehicles. They more than likely had left them at a place on the road that would not be covered over in deep snow, under a thicker part of the wood, where they could reach the main road from.

He was not aware of how dangerous it was. Why had nothing happened to them before? Surely people had walked through there, in the dark, countless times, over the years. The place would have had the same weather conditions – the climate had created many blizzards over the years. Could the place somehow be out of reach of the things in the wood? Moreover, had he come across it by accident – being incredibly unlucky? Its haunts, according to the stories, were at distant and unpopulated regions of the estate. There was no noticeable logic to this logic!

He listened to the servants enter the building, laughing at a joke. He realized that they might be able phone the local council, or where the snowploughs were, for the region, to ask them to clean the road.

“Let’s go …” Mortimer muttered, moving to him.

Merton and Mortimer led him to their room – where they put on some thick jumpers and jackets.

Once along the corridor, they increased their pace towards the back door. However, as they moved outside, and they saw the depth of the snow, they walked at a normal speed, trying not to become too tired.

On their entrance to the trees, he looked for anything suspicious in front of them. There were no footprints or anything like that, but he saw a few marks that looked as though something large had been there, but it became clear that it was just the wind blowing through some trees.

Distant screeches of crows appeared and vanished from ahead of them, and he listened for any sign of anything. He realized that it was the complete absence of normal things, and the unusual silence, which hid everything there. (Sounds did not seem to carry very far, and the crows were probably screaming, communicating.)

His tired eyesight was all he had to detect anything there, and the vast amount of shapes and shadows, constantly changing about him, was too vast to search. There could be someone behind any of the hundreds of trees. If they had a dog, it would have helped immensely.

He wondered if humans had been losing senses that could put them in danger in such places – which all the other animals seemed to rely on, for their survival.

What captured his attention, more than anything else, was that Merton and Mortimer were in a rush to see the tombs. They were not just tombs to them – they were something important.

Had they came upon something that had told of something, which told them that something existed out there, which could perhaps show them why the place had something haunting it, or perhaps solve part of the mystery? However, if the others had affected them enough, it might be something to do with the money. But where would they have found that information?

As they went deep into the wood his curiosity grew, especially because Merton and Mortimer refused to speak about it, and trudged on, determined to complete their mission. He tried in vain to slow them.

“What is so important about going there?” he finally groaned, walking beside Mortimer, who had perspiration over his brow, and was breathing deeply.

“It interests me,” he replied, making Bryson smile.

“Does it have to do with: finding the money here?”

“That as well!”

“Perhaps I can answer your queries first – since I have been there and looked around there – and you will not have to wait to acquire the information!”

“That’s an idea!” Mortimer replied, finally slowing down, to a reasonable speed, allowing him to think.

“What’s the main thing that you wish to know?”

“We really want to look about there, to see if we can find out anything – especially from the writing that we were told is on the tombs. And we wish to see if there is any clues about the occurrences …”

“And, by chance, do you think that Sir Richard hid the money away out there – at the tombs?”

“They were considering that clue – ‘where the last dwell’ – and they think that it refers to humans …”

 

 

 

 

II

 

Lost in Time

 

 

Chapter 29

 

Mysterious Discoveries

 

“You may be correct about it referring to humans,” Bryson explained, “but none of my ancestors, in the tombs, were the last …!”

“We believe that it may have something to do with your ancestors in the tombs,” Mortimer carefully answered. “They could have believed that they were ‘the last’!”

Bryson smiled, and thought about it once again. From their angle it was slightly astonishing. The reason that he, and probably the others, had not believed that it had been true had been because they had not been the last – there had been as many of them as there ever had been. But they might have believed that they had been the last! Or, for some reason, one of them could have believed that the family would not have any descendants, or something like that, and had something written on one of the tombs.

“So you believe that there may be something mentioning the clue on one of the tombs!”

Merton clapped his hands, congratulating him, on his reply.

“Nonetheless, we just want to look around, for anything of interest – especially to see the tombs.”

Bryson was sure that there was more, and just accepted their reasons, with interest.

“We should have brought torches …!”

“Why do we need torches?” Merton anxiously inquired, shoving his way through a deep area of snow, moving next to him.

“There are stairs running down – to the tombs, and there are no lights – in the underground chamber.”

“Therefore, we’ll have to go back!” Mortimer grumbled, coming to a standstill.

“No! It has light. It would have been better …”

“My key ring lighter should be good enough,” Mortimer replied. “If we need it to read them.”

Bryson worked out the position of the road, and where the place was where the servants would have left their cars. It was further away than he had thought. This part of the wood was more isolated.

Even though the wood held many hiding places, where anything could be – including where the killer of the servant could be lurking, it was far from being as bad as it had been at night. At the most distant parts, as far as he could see, through all the gaps in the trees, he imagined the dark shapes of the trees, branches, and undergrowth as black figures, dwelling there.

They had correctly timed it, as the sky had hardly changed since they had left – except it growing brighter.

When he had told them that it was best to go there before it was nightfall, he had not meant to race there. If anything did appear, it would surely kill them. They would not now be able to run properly. The snow was thick and rugged, and it was too hard to keep a reasonable speed going through it.

Merton instantly halted, removed a cigarette out of his packet, and handed him one. He quickly lit them, before he moved away from him. But he persuaded him to go slow, while they smoked. Mortimer eventually noticed that they had dropped behind him, and waited for them to catch up. He then walked slowly along with them.

The pace did not last long, and Mortimer soon had them going after him again, but at a more controlled pace.

There were hardly any differences to the wood, even though he was looking for prints of creatures anyway. It now seemed even more stranger thinking of them, and the murder of the servant and footprints from the castle.

Why had there been a stranger there at the castle? How many people would have entered the wood? Had the person walked there, or had the person arrived by other means. Nobody had seen the stranger, according to the police. The person had to have been watching the place.

Why had he not left as soon as he had committed the crime? He had been in the castle when the police had arrived. Had he been hiding somewhere, perhaps doing something, until they had arrived there?

The trees had slightly sheltered the area that they were in, from having too deep snow, but in areas, it had patches of thick snow, fallen from the branches over it.

As they approached the building, Mortimer went further out, in front of them. Bryson recalled seeing something in it that resembled a stone seat, and just increased his pace.

Mortimer only stopped to rest when he reached it.

Bryson led them around it, cleaning some of the snow and dirt away from the windows that he passed.

Some had small cracks in them, from something. But it must have been there for centuries.

Mortimer hesitated, as he crept through the door, vaguely surprised that it opened. Bryson nodded his head, and went straight to the seat in it. Even though it was more like a block of stone than a seat, and was there for decoration – like the columns, urns, and other articles.

Merton sat beside him, and Mortimer strolled around its walls.

“It’s dark!” Merton confirmed.

“What do you think?” Bryson asked. “Do you still think that it’s here?”

“You have a point …” Mortimer moaned. “Who would put it away out here! Your uncle would have to have been very eccentric to put it here. Or really determined to hide it from everyone.”

Bryson was still convinced that Sir Richard would have had the money close at hand – making it safe – with it there if he needed it.

In fact, it could even be the best clue that they had, as he was sure that he would not have left it for such a long time anywhere else. He would have to have known that he would never need it, and put his trust in the fact that nobody would have found it.

The interior had much more light than the last time. He was positive now that they had used candles to light it, and he saw places that they could have placed them. It did not have such a bad design, which made the vault under them too dark.

“Do you think that this place is haunted?” Bryson joked, out of curiosity.

“Have you heard anything about it …?” Mortimer instantly inquired.

“No, but it’s in this estate … I wonder if anyone has ever checked it! I cannot even imagine any sane person staying out here in the middle of the night, especially with those things rampaging about the wood.”

Bryson observed the interior, and the windows in more detail. It was in good condition for its age, but it would need a large amount of cleaning to remove the stains from the stone, done by years of wear and tear, especially from the bad weather conditions.

“We can check it!” Merton explained. “We can set up some of the equipment at some other time …”

He wondered if they would run if the things in the wood attacked. They did not seem to see that there was any deadly danger.

Yet he had only heard the things, and seen the light.

He did believe it to be a good experiment – leaving their equipment there – but if it led to them staying in it, and those things turned out to be like what he had been imagining them, then it would be the worst mistake that they could make.

After five minutes of silence, and a proper rest, Mortimer went towards the steps.

Bryson waited until Merton followed him until he joined him.

The steps showed signs that water had recently made it into the building, and had flowed down into the vault, but it had not reached very high at the bottom. They had compensated for leaks, from the door allowing water entering into the structure, as the tombs were far above the ground.

The building also was on a small hill, on slanted ground, which would not allow it to become flooded.

It was a strange design; apparently designed more for its looks … What else would they have wanted …? It hardly was a place, where people would want to stay.

The original castle had been a castle, and a type of fort, as castles tended to be – so there were few leisure places in its originally structure.

The area with the tombs was large, and many areas had remained empty, ready for more tombs. Bryson wondered if there would be any more, and if the next owner would copy Sir Richard – and not bother.

The more he saw the tombs the more he wondered if it proved that the person who had it built had been religious. However, he might have only wanted a respectable place, and for people to remember him for many centuries.

Merton copied things from a tomb onto a piece of paper, while Mortimer just read them, and thought about what the words meant.

Chapter 30

 

The Tombs

 

Mortimer’s attention remained on the tomb of William Randall – the oldest there – the person who had built the castle – and he had been the most likely to have known why the supernatural disturbances were taking place.

“It’s just as Robert said, and definitely to do with your clue!”

He looked slightly annoyed, when Merton disturbed him, and he could not make any sense of it as an answer.

“So we’re still at the same place as before,” Bryson muttered.

The whole event confused Bryson.

Mortimer stopped, and Merton started copying down the words from other tombs. Bryson was then able to take a close look, with Mortimer’s key ring light.

What sort of person had William Randall been? Bryson examined the features of his tomb, all the tombs, and the vault that he had built.

However, he knew that their hopes of finding it there were little.

For a long time, Merton and Mortimer went from tomb to tomb, and he did likewise – continuing to read them – until it was obvious that they had everything there.

Merton eventually lit a cigarette.

Bryson lifted his bag from the ground, noticing that dirt was beneath it.

“If the others thought that they all were the last of something,” Merton theorized, “it could be in any of the tombs.”

“That’s a good point,” Mortimer moaned. “That writing on the tomb could just refer to it. Or it could be something to put people off. Was your uncle as crafty as that?”

“He might have been – I do not know. He had been a ruthless businessman, who made a fortune. But he seemed to like games – hiding his money like he did …”

“How obsessed was he at doing it though?” Merton asked.

“That’s what I want to know.”

“So let’s assume that it is in one of the other tombs,” Merton continued. “What one would it be?”

“I don’t think it’s in any of them.“

“None of the others do either,” Mortimer replied sincerely.

Bryson tapped the floor with his sole, almost putting a grin on his face. It was absurd! Who would want to bury it in a burial site?

He ignored it, and walked about, feeling restless.

Pieces of material had fallen to the ground from veils that had been at the sides of the walls. The place had a morbid look.

“It might have been your uncle,” Mortimer muttered, “who thought that your ancestors in the vault had been the last of something.”

Chapter 31

 

The Intruder

 

Bryson stamped hard, with his sole, into the vault floor – listening for any variations in tone, and for any hollow regions.

Even as he walked to new spots, he continued listening and feeling for any movements.

Yet if it were buried below, it could be drenched in water. And he was sure that Sir Richard would have had to have found a place above the ground.

He banged and tapped parts of the wall, as he walked around it.

They could be there all day searching, for nothing. It was no use – it was not there! – and he was growing tired.

“Let’s take the information and go,” he finally announced, annoyed. “We’re wasting time! We can find out what that tomb meant elsewhere.”

Merton and Mortimer instantly agreed, and they speedily followed him up the stairs, while he still instinctively listened for anything beneath his feet.

The bright warm sun was glorious, and the building was dull and gloomy.

Mortimer strangely never rushed on, and seemed to have reached a conclusion. He was leaving with what he had wished to know.

They were just content to walk in the warm sunshine.

Sparrows flew about the trees, about them, knocking the snow down, making Bryson consider why there were so few. He had been taking it for granted that it was the freezing conditions, altered winter landscape, expelling the wildlife.

The last time that he had been there, it had been at a different time of year, and he recalled that there had only been crows about the wood.

The place would make a good golf course: if they removed most of the trees …

“What’s that …?” Merton revealed, wandering into the nearest trees. “Someone’s …!”

“They’re fresh footprints!” Mortimer exclaimed, arriving there before Bryson.

Bryson crouched near them, and measured their size.

“They look the same as the prints that we followed from the castle,” Merton declared.

“That killer could be out here …!”

“And I’ll bet that they were not there when we came here,” Mortimer remarked.

“Let’s follow them!”

They trailed away into the undergrowth, in roughly the same direction as the castle.

“Where do you think he is?” Merton asked suddenly.

“Somewhere over there,” Mortimer said, pointing at a slight angle to the castle.

“He’s gone outwards …”

“He must have seen our prints, and decided not to go across the path – to avoid leaving a trail.”

What sort of person would have done the murder, which had been in all the newspapers (with accounts of the police investigations), and coolly appear after it?

Was the killer unsatisfied with what he had done?

He must be desperate to do something, or not that good. If the police had found those prints that night, they might have caught him.

The person could be insane though!

Yet how had he hidden?

He must be watching the place!

Had he killed Sir Richard? It was possible, of course, and he could be doing it because Sir Richard had done something. As a ruthless businessman, he might have made many enemies over the years.

There had to be a good explanation for it!

Perhaps the police could watch the wood, and as soon as he did something, they could capture him.

“Let’s fetch the police!” he announced, stopping, not considering their plan any longer. “He must be heading for the castle! And he’s already killed someone.”

“We may be able to find him this time,” Merton instantly replied.

“He’s right,” Mortimer agreed. “We’ll need help.”

“The police may be able to surround the area – before he gets a chance to escape.”

Merton suddenly realized how serious the situation was. “Let’s go …!”

Bryson took the lead, and marched through the snow, going straight to the castle.

He could have kicked himself for not having a mobile phone. They could easily have contacted the castle.

He was beginning to feel tired again. And the bottom of his stomach felt heavy.

He was sure that the last time that Inspector Bailey had not been fully convinced that it had been him – even though they had been still carrying out investigations at the village.

None of them had realized that he was roaming the grounds.

The police should have been doing what they had made out they had been going to do – and had men watching the woods as well.

The view of the castle, finally emerging through the trees, was a very welcome sight.

When they approached it, he immediately realized that he would be in the surrounding wood watching the castle, and would be watching them go in. And it would be necessary not to show that they knew of his presence.

He wondered if they could have handled the stranger in the wood, if they had confronted him.

Even though he had strangled his victim, of an elderly servant, he could have a weapon, to make sure that he succeeded with what he was doing.

Bryson started to slow, as they left the trees.

There were no signs of anything, and the crows were not there.

Once they were in the castle, he raced through the corridor, wondering why nobody still ever locked the door, where he had sneaked into the castle.

The others were hardly content with the front door being locked, stopping almost anything entering.

Merton then led them straight to Inspector Bailey, knowing exactly where he would be.

Chapter 32

 

Escalating Irregularities

 

The police superintendent had only been in the front hallway for less than five minutes, and already Bryson had learned more of Inspector Bailey than he had learned of him over the whole time that he had known him.

Inspector Bailey was, of course, his best man, and favorite, and put there to handle the job bestowed upon them. If anyone could solve the crime, it was he.

“This means a lot to me,” the Superintendent warned, as if fighting to stay calm – under intense pressure.

Inspector Bailey mechanically pleaded: “As I’ve suggested in my report: this is not a routine case.”

“This was why we chose you to handle it!”

He turned about, like an army officer, and marched through the doorway, without wasting any more time, almost glancing at Bryson.

It had to have been important for him to be visiting the castle, with no other intention than to encourage Inspector Bailey to do his job (even though he might have gained an insight into what sorts of problems he had).

Bryson now believed that he had missed things. It left him with deep feelings that they had hidden important information – only known to them.

Inspector Bailey now appeared overenthusiastic to get to the bottom of the mystery, barely stopping himself – with his mind continuing to delve over and over into what he had encountered – trying recognize some minute fragment – in need of anything that could progress things, and stop him being suppressed.

Why had the case been so important and interesting though? And why did they have such fierce intentions of solving the murder of Molly? Surely they had a murder on their patch every so often.

Yet had something put them in fear of losing their jobs? There had been more than the usual suggestions in the newspapers that the government wanted them to reduce the crime figures dramatically.

Merton wandered out of the dining room, chewing hungrily at the last morsel of his meal. “So what’s happening now?”

“It wasn’t the killer,” Bryson answered firmly, referring in the general direction of Inspector Bailey, further along the hallway – still absorbed in his thoughts – not noticing that he was standing himself, staring at an empty wall.

Bryson now knew that the case was not the only thing that he had troubles trying to solve, and he was sure that he might have an illness, such as cancer.

“What did they do?”

“They surrounded the estate, and followed the prints … He was caught by their police dogs …”

“So who was he?”

“They’ve not said.”

Inspector Bailey suddenly became aware of the world about him, and casually strolled in their direction, looking at a form that he had hidden away. He seemingly realized the conclusion to something, or more than likely put it aside for consideration, for another try.

“Who was it?” Mortimer remarked, trying to capture his attention, as he rushed out of the dining room, balancing a glass of wine – not rocking it enough to spill any on the expensive carpet, which seemed to be the only thing that was not ancient.

“Try and guess!” Inspector Bailey moaned, slightly amused at his antics.

“One of the locals …”

“Your wrong! It was a reporter.”

“We were following a reporter!” Merton gasped, slightly taken aback.

“That explains a great deal,” Bryson uttered, wondering if Inspector Bailey would ever again take their word for anything.

“It would explain why he hid,” Mortimer explained. “And why he never crossed over where we had walked through the wood.”

“He had his car parked along the road,” Inspector Bailey continued, “and he walked straight through … to the trees over there – where we caught him watching the castle.”

“Why would a reporter go to such lengths to photograph here?” Bryson instantly moaned, not understanding the logic behind it – mostly confused about why he had not even imagined it. “The man could have found more driving in here … At the most, he would only have been refused an interview!”

“The snow blocked the road … And from what I gather the young man went for a walk from there – to here. Incidentally, thinking that it was better to photograph here from the wood. Is that clear?”

Bryson gave a reluctant nod, giving Inspector Bailey an opportunity to move away to somewhere.

He had expected them to be defensive, and not as gullible, with high alertness, questioning everything.

Merton and Mortimer headed back into the dining room, aroused by the scents of soup, and the servants taking in more food for them, leaving him standing in the hall. And he just followed them.

“Are you not having anything?” Merton asked, between sips of soup. “There’s a plate over there.”

Of course, it was a good idea to eat as much nutritious substances as possible; he more than likely would not acquire a chance later. The events had absorbed a large chunk of his precious time. None of them, as far as he was concerned, had properly considered the words on the tomb.

The servants were cleaning up, and, from the outer noise, the kitchen was receiving a final clean. Their antics were now amusing – they sounded as though they were expecting them to provide another body for them to deal with, and that the place should at least be clean to a high standard.

There were suggestions that the recent events were to appear on the news.

He could just imagine them spending the day occasionally taking looks for bodies.

They could even be suspecting them – they had more motivation than anyone else did – they were trying to acquire the money. They could be keeping silent, believing that the killer would be the one who would be their future employer. He could not imagine working there as a servant for a strangler of a servant.

Chapter 33

 

Deadly Quest

 

A rhythmical patter of weak planks, clattering under their feet, echoed amidst the corridor – reflecting off the thick stone walls.

Bryson and Merton rhythmically copied Mortimer’s steps.

Even though the rooms about them were dark, he was sure that they had no damage done to them, and that the others had not been there. It was more than likely that they just did not believe that there was anything there.

His thoughts returned to the recent events, and he wondered why they had not suspected a reporter. Did they judge people by their jobs so much that they could not imagine it being one?

He started to recall the main reason for them having believed that it had been the killer. Originally, he had believed that it had been him, when they had followed him through the wood, because of his footprints being similar to the prints of the person who had been at the castle.

They could have been very much mistaken, and he might have been so cool due to his cover …

He would have experience of the police – how they work – and what he could get away with, being a reporter. He could have been ready to make out that he had been investigating the crime.

Yet, he could see their point, there was no real evidence that it was him, and what sort of reporter did something like that. He could easily be an inexperienced one, working for a relatively unknown newspaper – desperate to give an impression …

The facts sank in – reporters did not do such things, as they would have little reason to do so.

They moved straight to the library – wherever it was – in the corridor (darkened by the early winter nightfall). The light switches were now too distant, to make any sense of using.

He would have expected the whole corridor to have switches along it, which was the most logical idea.

He would continue his search of the books, and trying to find any clues, especially anything to do with the words that they had seen on the tomb.

The library did not have any indications that anyone had been there since they had left.

If Robert had been there, there would probably have been signs of it.

“It would be a good idea to install closed-circuit cameras about this place,” Merton sighed, relaxing into his seat, almost fully relaxed for the first time since their hike. “Think of what they could capture from the outer walls …”

“That’s an idea!” Bryson uttered, thinking of it.

It would be a good idea for them as well, as they could search through the tapes for any unnatural disturbances.

Bryson went to the window, even though it was dark.

The outside was more menacing that ever, especially with it being on the ground level – where someone could sneak about, at the window, at its hidden regions.

His awareness of danger was high, especially with the amount danger that they had confronted. What was stopping something from the wood smashing in through the window.

If it had happened before, they would not necessarily know of it. It could easily have happened, and the residents put it down to being something else. People said very little about the castle.

The people who had once lived there might have avoided the lower rooms at night. However, the lights might deter any outer occurrences.

What a good idea it would have been if they had installed cameras.

And they only needed a few of them to cover the entrances, and perhaps some of the wood – making it impossible to enter without being filmed.

The snow glowed, in lunar light, from the moon somewhere overhead. While its distorted shapes reflected on windscreens, further out.

The wood illuminated, showing its deadness.

Yet would closed-circuit television do much? Accept deter anyone from watching.

But an obscure view of something would be worth acquiring.

Blackness edged against the wood – from thick clouds stretching across the sky – like a thick black curtain.

Bryson strained his eyes, trying to see what he could.

The coldness coming through the window relaxed him, but made him shiver.

A gust blew up the snow from the ground, below the ledge. And he turned, to protect his throat, from a sudden draft from the edge of the window.

He adjusted his clothing, and moved back to where he had been sitting.

He dropped a book onto the table, to look at its tattered cover.

Now it was as if they were there because of their complete lack of information – about anything vaguely related with their present interests.

Had Sir Richard for some reason, having time to spare, made sure that they did not find anything at the castle – rigorously sifting through it – expelling all with slightest suggestion of an answer.

Mortimer spotted his weary facial expressions, and remaining restlessness. “We should try to find out something. And we’ve not properly considered what the words on the tomb mean.”

Mortimer removed his bit of paper, and he stretched it over the table, taking any creases out of it, making it flat and readable. Then he pushed it over to him, and he took it from him. But he saw that he had badly scribbled it, perhaps due to the dark vault.

Nothing sprang to mind … It had to be a riddle, which he had kept imaging it as, and a message to someone.

Merton sat staring over at it. “It might not be referring to people at all!” he remarked.

“What would it be referring to then?” he answered swiftly, seeking facts.

“Spirits of the dead!” he anxiously uttered, in a strange tone, instantly grasping his attention.

“That could be so …” Mortimer continued, with a serious professional expression – thinking deeply, trying to sort out some way of explaining some belief or something. He resembled a scientist unable to conceive the obvious on a subject.

“Many people in the past were eccentrically superstitious … They knew little – about how things work. Unlike nowadays! It could suggest spirits that were believed to be here!”

Bryson considered if they were typical psychic scientists or now down-to-earth people doing the job, trying to find the answer to everything (like him), which had tormented them.

Strangely, they had proven that something was at work, but not what it was. There was no definite evidence to hold any reasonable argument!

“The answer to the clue,” Merton spoke loudly, deliberately capturing his attention, “where the last dwell, could be referring to where spirits dwell.”

“Or where they had once dwelled,” Mortimer spoke. “Many things alter – over time – even in a matter of years.”

It was a breathtaking thought: it referred to ghosts!

Yet he, and most other people, never knew Sir Richard’s beliefs on that subject, or if he would have done such a thing.

There had been no suggestion from him that it had been it, or even a joke. But if he had not believed that there had been ghosts at Grovnor Castle, he might have used it as a joke subject – to suggest something.

“Somewhere that they believed that they dwelled!”

Merton moaned, shrugging to them – identifying that the riddle might be just as complicated, even with them knowing it.

“It could not be where the tombs are …” Bryson moaned, mainly to himself.

“Not necessarily,” Merton swiftly replied. “They might have built it on the site of where they were or had been.”

Mortimer gave a look of surprise, and briskly thought it over, from various viewpoints. “That could explain why they built it a way out there – where it is not even accurately in front of the castle”

“It may be out of the way for a reason!” Bryson continued. “Most people do not have graves anywhere near where they live. They could have chosen it as it had been out of sight – away from everywhere. At a location where they could reach, without too much strain – but still out of the way.

“Finished!” Merton moodily returned, making Bryson give a smile, and want to quit the argument. “But if it’s on ‘sacred ground’ – or a haunted place – it may be what we are looking for.”

“But why would they put a burial site on ‘haunted ground’? Who would have wanted to have it on ground where there were ghosts?”

“Many people might have!” Mortimer replied.

“Do you think that they would have done it so that they would return as ghosts or something?”

“They could have believed anything! People from the dawn of time have had themselves buried in places that their ancestral spirits have supposedly dwelled. It could have been considered a good idea …

“And why did your ancestor build this castle here, where the legends mention something occurred?”

“He might have,” he resumed, now realizing that there could be some truth in it. His ancestor could have gone as far as that. Moreover, he might have been buried in a tomb where the last, of something, dwelt.

Chapter 34

 

Unconventional Research

 

The sun blazed out, attempting to force life into the wood, which had been pounded out of it. It was as if an unknown element in life hardly existed there.

Perhaps the remains from a forest fire would be enough to rejuvenate it – making it return to its original glory – and pump life into the region. And it could for decades burst out with life, with birds darting about, and creatures such as squirrels hopping from the branches.

Through the trees, far ahead, the unnatural shape of the vault emerged in places, blending into the wood.

Bryson had not noticed that it was possible to see it at that distance. It resembled the other shapes in the dangling branches.

Bryson firmly placed the scientists’ heavy case onto the snow, in front of him, trying to remember what it was. Unsure if it was fragile!

A distant crackle of a branch briefly captured his imagination. What could break them, out here? It had not been as if it had fallen or anything such as that. It had been more like it had broken under pressure, with something heavy going over it.

His eyes scanned snow patches about him, for any traces of clues. Merton, of course, stopped, and shifted back to where Bryson was, as he had done on many occasions with him, throughout their jaunt back into the wood.

There now was something sneaky about Merton now. He was hiding a smile, with a strained face.

He knew very well how heavy the case was. It was by far the heaviest of the equipment that they were carrying, and he was sure that he had intended it to be – for his joke, and to lift the burden he would have had.

Mortimer had taken many precautionary measures, so that nothing like water would damage it. Anything was better than equipment that badly functioned, or never functioned, when needed – and it was not possible to replace it in the near future.

Yet they were going to leave their equipment out here, where they would not go near at night.

If they did have hidden plans, and attempted to stay, they might try to persuade him into doing so. If anything happened, he would never forgive them. It was one thing carrying out their experiments, where there were only chances of them losing their equipment.

They surprised him at times. They strangely argued about the possible existence of paranormal things, but when he insisted that there could be danger, they insisted that the danger was little, if it even existed.

There was no evidence of anything having taken place in the wood, and he had only witnessed noises, which remarkably similar to the ones at the rooms. It was the fact that he had never seen it, and that there had been no signs left from it. All he had as proof that it ever had been there were his reflections of what he had heard.

“Come on now,” Merton restlessly remarked, “we’re almost there.”

Mortimer showed some agitation, at them stopping so close to where he wanted to be. Yet Bryson wanted to rest, and so did Merton by the looks of him. Perhaps Mortimer would help carry the heavy equipment the next time.

“It’s a good day,” Bryson replied, reassuring him, and removing his radio, from his jacket.

He stood, playing with the frequency, moving it in different directions – locating the right place. And he increased the volume. The gap in the trees surprisingly had not completely cut off the signal.

He then realized that there were no forecasts going to be put on anyway, and he flicked it off and dropped it into his pocket. Then he raced after Merton and Mortimer, who had moved away out in front, with full intentions of leaving him further behind.

He had not heard any forecasts, even though he had been listening and adjusting the stations on it for most of the morning. They seemed to have lost interest in it.

“The weather should stay the same,” he finally reassured himself, trying to sense and detect anything that would indicate it. But he could not, and remained unsure.

He should have bought something that would key into the meteorology center, to give him a constant forecast.

Why did they have to take so much equipment to the vault? It was worryingly starting to resemble a test site, than his ancestral resting place.

The amount of time it was going to consume was unthinkable. They would have been better off remaining in that library – wasting time there. There were possibilities that they could come up with something from one of the books. And they, at least, could complete their search.

Bryson rushed over their trail in the snow, trying to catch up.

He was starting to see the point of view of searching for it at the castle. He was annoyed, as they could have searched many different places – especially places that nobody had searched.

Yet there were possibilities that they could shed light on what that thing had been.

He just did not believe their theories about it being the ghosts of the wood that were the last. And he did not really believe that that anything else that they found there would lead them to the money.

Merton and Mortimer rapidly moved into the small clearing where the structure was, with their eyes darted about searching the ground, for any signs of prints that were not theirs.

When Bryson approached it, he hardly looked, but he listened instead.

He carefully placed their equipment at the entrance, leaving it where they could get it.

He felt better without it, and he wandered about, through a deep patch of snow, allowing the heat of the sun to go over his face.

There were possibilities of the money being in the grounds. Surely it was not in the vegetation though!

Bryson peered into the trees, into brightly lit areas – delving deep, in different directions – fascinated by the prospect that he might have overlooked a possibility. What if there was more here than the vault, as Robert had suggested? What if there was another structure or something here? There were possibilities that Sir Richard had hidden it there.

Why did they take it for granted that there was not another structure? What if there were other things out there? They would not have thought that there was a vault in the wood if they had not seen it from the castle. And they had not even known that it was a vault, and their ancestral tombs. They had wanted to discover what the mysterious place had been.

The people in the castle, in summer, when they had built it, might have openly moved about the grounds – and garden – during the day – having such things as picnics. People in the past never stayed inside builds that much. The wood would have been much younger, and full of life, with animals and birds in vast amounts. He could recall many woods that had changed in a few decades – never mind over hundreds of years.

Most of the trees were nothing like that age. A few giant oak trees looked about the age of the castle though.

They could have had places all about the wood where they had visited. Such as a river.

He would like to give the wood a good search. It had to have more than trees. The more he thought it over the more he liked it.

Merton started collecting the equipment, moderately annoyed about Bryson putting more prints on the snow than he needed to do. Of course, he was right, as they needed to check for signs of anything, especially with them carrying out their experiments.

Bryson moved back over his precise trail, making as little mess as he could.

In the vault, Bryson heard Merton saying that he wanted to survey the upper floor of the structure, while Mortimer wanted to concentrate everything at the tombs.

“It would be a good idea having something here,” Bryson agreed with Merton, pushing away the door, going towards them.

“Why?” Mortimer argued, blinded by some desire.

“For one thing,” he explained, “not every grave in the world has a ghost. In fact, I have not heard of any graves with ghosts, and, as far as I have heard, they usually occur where people die. Beside there are no accounts, anywhere, that there is anything here.”

“You’ve a point,” Mortimer quickly agreed, not really seeing the point. “So, where do you think we should look?”

“If this is the place of the last, mentioned in the clue, it does not mean that they would be down there.”

“Okay!” Merton reassured him. “We’ve video equipment that reacts to movements, lights, and sounds.”

“Well, I’d like to have it outside. Perhaps on one of the trees.”

“What!” Merton grumbled, expecting him to reply about putting the camera in the upper structure.

“That’s interesting,” Mortimer replied, slightly smiling.

Mortimer glanced through a gap in the doorway, and at the trees, covered in snow.

“Well, if this is the place where the last dwell, we should have a full view of this whole place, going back as far as possible, into the distance – capturing as much as possible, and the wood.”

“If it snows,” Mortimer went on, “the weather could damage it though.”

“We could leave it at the window,” Merton muttered, thinking of his line of thought. “As well as it filming here …”

“Look!” Mortimer argued. “You can check the sound in here, and you can put a camera over there. Then if we do pick anything up anywhere, we can use more equipment at the place tomorrow.”

Bryson and Merton nodded, still insisting that they were right.

“But if it does snow,” Merton muttered to Bryson, “the water will damage it!”

Bryson removed a waterproof translucent bag for the camera from his pocket, which he had once used before.

“The snow could cover it,” Merton continued.

“I’ll put it at an area of a tree that the snow will not reach, to get a proper picture.”

Merton considered it, and showed a baffled expression, and, perhaps, his thoughts – that it was a daft idea. Then he careful opened the case to fetch it.

Bryson prepared to head for the door with the camera, but Mortimer decided to show him its basic functions.

“It has various means of detection,” Mortimer spoke, showing him various parts of it. “It detects unusual things! It detects various forms of energy. It detects the environment around it, remembers it, and continuously searches for any changes in it, which will activate it. Sound and infrared detection included! It can record the darkest things, which even the eye cannot see, and it can film it in infrared at the same time. And it also records sounds by focusing in on anything that it detects, and it records it in a far better quality and degree than the human ear.”

Mortimer demonstrated its functions, showing him how to work it, and the recorded results.

Even though Mortimer had argued about putting it there, he started to think of it as not just being a useless concept. As something worthwhile might activate it. And it might film the light that Bryson had seen in the wood.

Mortimer carefully fixed it up. He was very experienced with such devices, and Bryson wondered if they could find anything if given enough time.

“It runs – and it’ll automatically turn off …”

Bryson carefully fitted it into his bag, and he securely fixed it onto his jacket, so that he could easily remove it.

He had found the perfect place for it, but he would have to do some awkward climbing to reach there.

Merton and Mortimer stood at the door, as he strolled over the snow towards the trees.

As he pulled himself up the first branches, lightly gripping them, using his legs against its trunk more, he decided to try to achieve a quick climb.

Its branches were more like a strange ladder, evenly spaced, at a few feet apart. The scent of pine mingling with the snow was overwhelming. The view captivated him, encouraging him to keep going up.

Were they wasting their time? Would ghosts activate this equipment?

It might be useless too, as strong winds and swaying trees might ruin the project. A storm might swiftly use up the memory and battery power. But he doubted it! He was now more interested in if it would do its job in a storm.

He realized that they were using the latest technology available, and that science might have finally advanced far enough to get perfect recordings of ghosts.

He considered adapting other technology to progress further.

Perhaps, as Mortimer had once suggested, one day scientists would be the first to capture a ghost with such technology.

A gust of wind made the tree sway about, causing snow to fall over him, and he stopped until it subsided.

The view from the tree was tremendous – and he saw that he was high enough already.

Merton and Mortimer’s figures were in the shade of the building – with their arms firmly folded – looking slightly bemused.

Bryson rested over a branch, occasionally testing its safety. And he spotted a better place for the camera, where it was not observable.

If Merton and Mortimer had not been there, and anxiously waiting on his return, he would stay where he was to rest more.

He considered if there was any primal instinct in his genes to like being in the tree, considering humans had such close genetic links to monkeys.

It was relaxing and interesting!

What would it be like staying there though, in a tree house?

He had seen them out in Africa, with all the comforts that he needed.

Once he had set up the camera, he began descending, shifting downwards, and he quickly arrived at the lower branches.

Mortimer moved down into the lower vault, with his equipment. While Merton continued setting up a sound recording instrument, behind the stairs, next to a window.

At the door, Bryson observed the tree, and instantly noticed how hidden it was, and that he would not see it. If the presence of the equipment altered anything, it might work better.

If anything, it was far more interesting than Mortimer’s plan. He could not imagine anything happening there.

His sight fell on the interior of the vault, and he remembered the sounds in the room.

What was causing it?

Everything had a logical reason! Why could there not be anything existing there? Why would there not be anything at the tombs? In other words, he did not fully understand, and he did not believe anyone properly knew, from what he had heard.

Merton finished, and he followed him down the stairs to Mortimer.

What sounds would they find there? He tried to see Mortimer’s view, and why it would not be a waste of time monitoring there.

Merton and Mortimer adjusted a machine, and tested its recording ability. It fascinated them – capturing spirits from the afterlife, with such devices.

Bryson removed a bottle of wine, which he had managed to carry, and he poured it down his dry throat. Then he continued to take swigs, as he felt it restore his energy.

He tried to think of a new ways of detecting things.

Mortimer passed him, checking what he was doing, as he went to another place.

Bryson imagined a black shape in the pine trees, through a window at the top of the stairs, resembling a ghost animal. Like some primordial memory of an ape, hidden in its blackness. Like a spirit merged with a yeti.

Why did large creatures not exist out here. Although apes and monkeys did not inhabit such northerly regions, normal bears survived in Alaska. While polar animals liked surviving at unbelievable temperatures.

Foxes and deer had survived – while wolves, bears, and large cats had not.

It was relaxing sitting at such a place.

He observed wisps of smoke forming ghostly shapes, over the dimness below him, from Merton’s cigarette.

A gust of wind entering through the door, soon shifted the shapes, dispersing them through the air.

Merton was now content to remain there. He insisted that Mortimer wanted to put the equipment there without any help.

He recognized some of Mortimer’s antics, and that he was going to be there a long time – setting everything up at the precise places and angles, in the way that only he could do it.

Mortimer tapped away at a nail, trying not to make the noise too loud – thrusting it just hard enough to insert it into a crack in the vault wall.

They covered everything – with as much consideration as possible – in the time that they had given themselves. Mortimer still seemed to have thoughts about the camera in the tree. Though he was now sure that he thought that there was a good reason having it there.

The idea had originated from their conversations in the library – that they had built the burial site on the place where spirits, or whatever, dwelt.

Mortimer glimpsed at his watch, and it made him clumsily drop a wire from a machine that he was fitting in place.

Bryson suddenly realized that he was concentrating the equipment around the tomb of William Randall!

Chapter 35

 

Beyond Comprehension

 

Bryson settled down, removed his jacket, and realized that the servants were behaving strangely.

He sensed a disturbing disbelief about something, and that there was something going to occur. Yet there was no indication of what! It seemed, as the servants marched about, doing their regular finishing duties, like they expected them to know or somehow sense it.

It was not only their peculiar reactions, including their rush to escape from the place. Inspector Bailey had a nervous appearance, about something, which seemed above his jurisdiction, and which made him gladly retreat, away to his room.

It had to be to do with the others, and, perhaps, what they were doing to find the money. It almost seemed grotesque, whatever it was.

Were they going to dig up some hideous thing or destroy something that they should not?

Then, as they left the dark and silent hallway, faint murmurs of a stranger’s voice began emerging – from within the firmly shut door of the dining room.

Merton hesitated – moved in front of them – and shoved his head into a gap in the door.

“My god!” he whispered, but swiftly calmed himself, realizing the true nature of something, leaving them wondering what the cause of such a reaction could be.

In the deep blackness, within the room, a few glowing faces, near flickering yellow flames, on candles, became visible.

Mortimer glanced in, shut the door, and showed deep concern. “They’ve a spiritualist!”

“Doing what?” Bryson asked confused, now not recognizing what the problem was.

“They’re holding a séance!”

He peeped through the gap in the door, which this time obviously disturbed the people within.

“What do they want with her?” he mumbled.

Robert appeared from the edge of the door, emerging from dimness, and came through into the hall, swiftly closing the door behind him.

“What are they up to?” Merton gasped, thinking of some implications.

“They’re trying to speak to the spirits …” he muttered, slightly embarrassed.

“Why?”

He smiled, and put his hand at his hip. “To cut a long story short – after a discussion – they decided to bring in a medium to get more information about where the money is. It sounds absurd! I know … But we’re having a great deal of fun anyway!”

Merton and Mortimer stared at each other, giving some hidden communication, making him wonder which of them was the most affected.

“It should be interesting,” Merton finally remarked, to Robert, looking at Mortimer. “We don’t usually allow people to overshadow us in our detection methods.”

“You’re right,” Mortimer replied firmly, as though talking to himself. “I’d like to see what happens …”

“Has anything occurred?” Bryson stated, and Robert nodded that there had not been. However, it was clear that they had just started.

Robert crept back in, leading them over to a place at the side of the room, where they could observe, without disturbing anything.

At first, the medium, an elderly woman, seemed old-fashioned – dressed suggestively like a fortune-teller – using candles in a dark room – but it became apparent that she was creating an atmosphere.

She obviously was not doing it as an experiment, but like a game, customarily done on special occasions.

The people around the table, sat silently, waiting to see what was going to happen, before giving any hint of their opinions.

Even though James had begun giving an occasional shrug – perhaps explaining how stupid he felt.

The woman’s eyes went wide, and she touched the table with her fingertips, feeling for any forces. She showed no sign of knowing what she was dealing with, and he doubted if anyone had told her what could be there.

If they had arrived earlier, they would have been able to explain the situation. She surely must believe in something. What was at the castle might react to her taunts!

Yet it did seem safe: she was just carrying out her procedure. And she did not sense anything different there. Perhaps it would take time though, or it was too early, and that she would need to do it at night.

Her head vibrated, and she shuddered. Then she prepared to do something, which mildly amused James, who now made an absurd expression.

Merton and Mortimer were devoted to searching for anything out of the ordinary. They seemed to signal each other, as it went on, that they were not missing anything.

It did interest and excite most of them, which was what she was concerned with, and he was sure that she would start to act more as soon as they started to become interested in it. She was absorbing their interest – stretching things out, waiting to put in the climax.

Mortimer uttered something to Merton.

Some noises made her open her eyes wide. She looked in their direction, into the dimness.

Her attitude visibly altered. She became serious and cautious about what she was doing, as if realizing that there might be something wrong with what she was doing.

The shadows of the people at the table shifted about, as the candle flames reacted to breezes. The medium used it, as one of her tools, to achieve her goal, to show that there could be some form of presence giving a reaction, and she almost tried to force something into taking place.

Some of the others observed the awesome sight, created mainly by the atmosphere there, not budging in any way, determined to see it through to the end, perhaps to obtain a conclusion (and perhaps receive answers to everything that they had witnessed at the castle, and to where the money was).

Psychics were supposed to be able to solve crimes, but, as far as he was concerned, it was a crazy idea.

Yet the room was cold, colder than he had ever felt it – almost making them shiver.

However, he doubted if he would be able to detect any change in temperature, signifying a real presence, especially with the slight breeze that kept appearing.

A slight click rhythmically interrupted the outer silence, from a wooden clock at the fireplace.

The medium chanted like a witch doctor, provoking the spirits.

Then she looked as though she changed her mind, and she returned to what she had been originally doing. She ignored them, but occasionally checked them.

She seemed to have some beliefs in her powers. She was playing with them, with it as a party trick.

As she seemed to show that she had given up attempting to do it for real, her face tensed, and she reacted, showing she now felt the presence of someone.

Her acting then became worse than ever, and he guessed what she could not do it.

For a moment, it annoyed him: her trying to contact his dead uncle in such a fashion.

Even if they did it, would Sir Richard tell them?

How absurd! How could anyone believe it?

He examined them again, considering how much they believed it.

“Have you any further details to help us find the money?” Helen requested, making James temporary lose control, with an ecstatic snigger.

“You’ll find it,” the medium replied, with a smile, making faces as though something were manipulating her mind. “You should search where your heart takes you!”

Everyone at the table looked either confused or good-humored. It had been what they had been waiting to hear – even if it had turned to an absurd joke.

Bryson sniggered, seeing one of their expressions.

Mortimer pointed to the door, now looking satisfied. And Merton encouraged him to leave swiftly, and Bryson followed them.

Robert stayed behind – with a bemused smirk stuck on his face – with his eyes glued on the medium, waiting to see if she would still do anything. But the medium now was doing a comic act, bordering on the absurd – probably owing to her doing it for so long, and enjoying that more.

She even looked as though she had done it on stage. Parts of it resembled a stage act, which the public wanted for amusement – instead of the real thing. She surely considered herself as a form of fortune-teller.

Outside the room, Bryson listened to Merton and Mortimer talking, and he wondered if they did believe that she could do it.

“Well, that was close,” Bryson jokingly muttered, leading them to the library. “Think what could have happened there, if that had worked …”

“She had trouble!” Merton explained, thinking deeply to himself.

“Do you believe that it works?” Bryson remarked, seeing the opportunity to acquire some more information.

“I did not know, when we went in there! What about you?”

“I hadn’t seen it before – except on television. So I could not fully believe or disbelieve it.”

“I have never fully checked it either.”

“Perhaps we should! We could carry out a proper regulated scientific experiment.”

“Doing what?”

“We could meet with her, after they finish.”

“To do what?”

“We can invite her to visit that room – later – tonight!”

“What will we do?”

“We can wait until the disturbance occurs. Then we can take her there to hear it – to find out her opinion. And we can carry out experiment, and have her contact what’s there.”

Mortimer glared at the floor, looking slightly shocked, and he realized what his real beliefs were.

“If she cannot do the task, it will only prove that she cannot contact anything there after all. But, on the other hand, you may have the chance to find out something, if it really works, which you may never get another chance to do.”

“I’ll ask her. However, I don’t really know what she’ll pick up!”

Chapter 36

 

Beyond Their Limitations

 

Bryson stood silently in the morning sun, beaming through the window of the top floor corridor.

Robert left what he had been doing in a room, and joined him.

They observed the people that James had brought in to help with the search.

Their heavy voices mingled and altered.

“They’re still sure that there’s another structure out there – somewhere!”

“And I gather you want to look about that wood!”

Bryson was more surprised that they were thinking along the same lines now.

It slightly alarmed him, and he tried not to reply, before he had considered it more.

Even if it did sound insane.

“We’re going out there ourselves, but we’re going to the tombs. They’ve set up some of their equipment out there.”

For a moment, Robert looked a little surprised. Perhaps at the scientists checking their ancestral graves.

Bryson thought of how insane it was: all of them looking through that wood with that killer about. But was he capable of killing them in groups?

We don’t have much time left … They’ll speed up the search anyway.”

Bryson spotted the spiritualist leaving the castle, crouched in the back edge of a car, looking guilty of something in particular.

He acknowledged that he should have guessed the medium’s reactions, instead of imagining her as what she had been portraying.

Merton had to persuade her to check the room with cash, which she had insisted he immediately pay her before she would go anywhere near it.

He had not believed that anyone could do anything there by the time she had left.

Even though when she had started trying to contact what had been there, it had deeply shaken him to see her fall back onto the bed, violently shuddering, making the bed loudly bounce, creak, and bang hard against the wall, as if something like an epileptic fit had seized her.

It had soon become apparent that it had not worked, and that she had decided just to act.

They had been too sleepy to explain anything to her.

He had been wondering if she would have believed it, if they had said what it had been. But he doubted it: she would never have accepted it.

He disregarded the radiating light, pulsating over his face from the sun.

He wondered what results other such experiments would do.

They could find someone else, who to do it correctly. Someone capable of giving them detailed accounts of it, of which they might be able to find some clue to what was taking place.

Perhaps they could find something that could pick up such things – without the aid of humans.

He could imagine vast machines like giant satellite discs receiving signals from the stars, monitoring supernatural disturbances all about the universe.

The corridor, with its silence, became noticeable, and he made slight reactions to it, thinking of what a spiritualist might experience.

The brightness outside sucked his sight away, vaguely blinding him, and he turned.

He pushed back the carpet with his shoe, and properly viewed the full length of the floor.

He instinctively shook a floorboard, to detect what condition it was in.

He decided not to check anything. He did not want to start searching the rooms, as the others were doing. He was sure that they were wasting their time. He would never have found the library if he had just done that.

They should look in all the key places first. And he would insist in trying to find it by other means, when it was possible.

Chapter 37

 

The Search Party

 

People began emerging, and rushing about, trying to search everywhere, like a club outing, organized for a treasure hunt. Their apparent intentions, so it seemed, was to go over the entire wood, in close formation.

Even though they had organized the event together, they were furiously competing to find the money – by searching through the wood in their groups – with some people surprisingly on their own.

The noise was strange, at an outstanding level. Some of the people helping them had even gone out of their way to find more people to help.

Bryson was sure that Robert, or most likely James, had put an offer of a bonus figure for finding anything leading to its discovery.

The emptiness was packed full of action – with shouting, laughing, haggling, and arguing.

It was almost a shame to him that the wood was full of such activity.

The scientists had rushed him away at a tremendous pace – going straight to the vault – making sure that they could not interfere with the delicate equipment.

The rooks sat bemused, listening and observing, overwhelmed, with a hint of amusement. Their strange chants and behavior echoed through the treetops, occasionally making them flutter, and go up into the blue sky, in the golden rays of the sun.

Two men emerged from the trees, closely staring at them, studying their faces. But they were just making sure that they were not any of the others, as they walked straight across their path.

Their agile movements and speed surprised Merton and Mortimer.

They would immediately carry out their checks on the equipment at the vault, and return to the castle with it.

But they also wished to search the wood.

Bryson’s hearing was now less sensitive in the wood, listening to the loudness.

He now wished to acquire some of the knack of the animals of the woods at surviving there, with a proper perception of his surroundings, without it being impaired. He thought of commandos, and survival specialists, handling jungle terrain …

It was really a matter of becoming familiar with it – knowing where everything was and was like. South American jungle tribesmen could easily detect a person’s presence, deep within the undergrowth.

The rooks were almost useless to him now.

He recalled legends that South American tribes had about the spirits of the woods.

He heard faint familiar tones of Robert’s voice, over to the side of them.

The visit to the castle could turn to a disaster, and they might not be able to do anything about it. The killer could be anywhere, out there in that tangle.

Yet there surely were too many people in the wood.

It was risky, but there were advantages in what they were doing. Before he had believed that it had not been feasible to search the wood. Now he was sure that they were doing a good job of it. He could hear some of them running through the undergrowth, just behind them, and they were clearly covering everything.

But another drawback was that they would be leaving footprints everywhere – taking away one of their only detection methods.

At the vault, Mortimer ignored everything and rushed down to the tombs, imagining that he were within minutes of saving the equipment; while Merton and Bryson slowly went to where Merton had left the recorder, on the upper floor.

Nothing had moved, and there were no signs of anything.

Bryson allowed Mortimer time to study the stuff, while he observed Merton checking the machine. After he had played around with it, making sure that it had been working properly, he switched it on. But there had been nothing captured, except for things such as their arrival, at least showing that it had been functioning properly.

“You’d better remove it before they reach here,” he warned.

Merton started packing it away, and he went to check on Mortimer. At the top of the stairs, he tried to make out if he had anything, but he did not hear anything; he was doing something. He had expected him to be rapidly moving about.

Once at the bottom of the stairs, he instantly recognized that Mortimer was disappointed, and had surveyed everything the best that he could have, and he began helping him pack things.

It was easier to do than it had been setting up, with the precise work, placing it at key areas, while checking it had correctly been doing its job at the precise precision.

Bryson checked the thermometers – studying their lowest reading, and that they had the temperature that he had expected (at what the weather forecast could have told him had been the lowest temperature!).

He wondered if disturbances did lower the temperature, and the kinds of readings that they supposedly received – and if it perhaps dropped far beyond what it should.

He suggested to Mortimer to rush more, and they were soon heaving it up the stairs.

They then evenly distributed it between them more, to gain the highest attainable speed, and they headed back.

Bryson just left the camera that he had put up in the tree, as there was not enough time, and it was hidden away. He now doubted that there was anything on it, after seeing all the negative results. And another day would only allow the project to be conducted better. Perhaps if any of the others damaged anything, it would capture it.

Merton placed it on the snow, and moved it around to another position, to help him carry it better.

“It should be worth coming back,” Mortimer confirmed, struggling to balance the equipment evenly on him. “It’ll be worth it just to see what they do, and to find out if there’s anything else.”

A faint shout came from deep in the wood, and another voice hollered out from near them, surprising them at the closeness of the person, without them hearing anything.

One of them started explaining where they were heading towards to the people in the other group. There was no suggestion from either group that they had heard them moving through the wood, and were listening to them.

A sudden whistle appeared behind them, and he recognized that someone thought that he had found something, which clear was the vault. And the person started communicating to them to come over.

Had James informed them of the vault? He wondered if there was any chance of them damaging the tombs, while opening them. They would if they dropped the lids or something! He doubted if anyone would or would be able to replace them or properly repair any damage.

It became apparent that they had entered the region in the middle of their groups – spread out – as they worked their way through the wood.

“We’ll have to be more carefully,” Mortimer replied, stopping to listen to the others behind him.

“If there’s anything dangerous here …” Bryson moaned.

“Inspector Bailey said it would be safe, and even helped them out on where to search!”

“Why did he do that?”

Bryson could hardly believe it! The same indications continually emerged, implying that Inspector Bailey was playing an elaborate game here.

Chapter 38

 

Unanticipated Confrontation

 

They soon started to return, after they had reached the castle, and had put away the equipment.

Their idea that the last were spirits of the wood could mean that it was anywhere about the castle though. It could be even underground, where they were walking. But the point that they were accepting, which must be the case, was that it would not be anywhere such as that.

He had to have buried it at a specific place. He would not have just placed it at any old place – and expect anyone to find it.

Bryson briefly considered the archaeological equipment available to survey beneath the ground. And that Sir Richard might not have thought along those lines.

If it was outside after all, they could continue the search after the ten days allocated to them.

But he doubted it very much if anyone would bother. They would just be wasting their time.

Mortimer insisted in taking them back to the vault first, and they soon discovered that more of them had entered the vault than they had expected. Groups of footprints came in from many angles. But it proved that they were an efficient force, to count on in properly searching the wood.

He now saw how useful it would be to use them in the castle. They could at least triple the amount of searches, and places that they searched. Though, for some reason, he was not sure if they would continue using them.

He stood at the bottom steps, with his eyes following the prints, going from tomb to tomb.

They mostly went to the most obvious places. And although the lids had all been lifted, there did not seem to be any damage.

Then his eyes fell on the darkest region, where he had been unable to observe, and fixed onto a dark shape, which instantly made his heart race wildly, and chill his blood. A dark figure was there – standing glaring at him! – out of the darkest part of the vault – as if from the depths of hell.

It surprised him – at there being someone there, standing watching him, without him noticing.

What is more, he was on his own, in the blackness, keeping quiet – clearly hiding there. And Bryson stood, frozen to the floor, just trying to see his face, shrouded in obscurity, and not moving in any way.

He could not recognize any of his clothing, which looked much more unusual than what the others had (for them freely and warmly to run about the wood in).

When he pulled himself together, he saw that the stranger stood staring eerily at him – not flinching in any way – as though trying to remain hidden, even though they were standing staring at each other.

“What have they done?” Mortimer called down, from the top stair – trying to see what he was doing. Bryson had been so enthralled that he had not even noticed Mortimer had been standing staring at him from there.

Bryson considered what dangers there were in such a confrontation, and whether he should back away.

He tried to see what he was doing, but the blackness engulfed his sight, and he saw nothing.

Perhaps outsiders from the village, such as poachers, used the wood, or it could be a region where they walked through. There could be trails leading throughout the woods. Even though there wasn’t the slightest indication of it anywhere.

Yet one of the people that James had there might have persuaded someone to look separately from them, to acquire the money for themselves. It could even be someone who had overheard what was taking place there. There was a large amount of cash hidden somewhere.

As Bryson began to back away, he noticed that not one sound came from him, and he sensed that there was much more to it. This person was reacting more strangely than he should, and he did not like it.

Mortimer marched down to him, fascinated by his strange behavior. And all he did was remain there – almost forced to allow something to happen.

Mortimer jerked, glared at the stranger, and walked over to him.

Bryson followed him. And a torch clicked on, and the stranger held it beside his face, as though showing his identity, but doing it so his features were slightly hidden, and not clearly recognizable. He saw only his blank expression, with no sign of any emotion.

“Did you find something?” Mortimer muttered, to force him into replying.

“No,” a deep voice replied.

“Who’re you with?” Bryson asked.

“I’m a journalist,” he mumbled, moving the angle of the torch near them, ready to remove identification.

“What’re you doing here?”

He made an expression that suggested that they had caught him doing something.

Bryson was sure that he had relied on there not being anyone there. As though he had been listening to them so closely, from a hiding place, that he had believed that they had been all away out of range, and that nobody would have confronted him – not knowing that they would return there to check it for damage.

How could the stranger have observed them so closely and have stayed unobserved? How else could he have so positively have known?

“Are you the reporter that the police caught photographing the castle?” Mortimer asked, startling Bryson. And, to Mortimer’s surprise, he nodded in agreement.

“What’re you doing back here?”

“To continue what I was doing,” he argued, as though continuing with a reply that he had come out with to someone else, which could have been one of the policemen.

“This is private property,” Mortimer warned, forcing him to leave. “You’d better leave now!”

Bryson followed Mortimer to the stairs, keeping the stranger at the edge of their sight – as he followed them out, staying at the same distance away.

At the top door, he watched the man, who now ignored them. His appearance was surprisingly more professional than he had believed. He marched silently and slowly into the surrounding trees, without reacting in any noticeable way. His behavior had been nothing like any reporter that he had encountered.

He did look strong enough to have strangled the servant.

He was up to something, and he did not like it!

Before following Merton and Mortimer into the wood, Bryson closely examined one of his footprints, and it clearly matched the prints of the reporter that they had found. But that was not all what he was looking for: he was trying to establish if it matched the faint prints of the person who had entered the castle. Yet though it did look similar, he was unable to confirm it, making him leave, considering the absurdity of the police at having released him.

Chapter 39

 

The Cottage

 

Even as they rushed through the trees, dodging branches, shoving themselves through thick regions of undergrowth, a deep chill still gripped Bryson. They had confronted the killer in the vault, who had been roaming the wood.

However, if they proceeded with enough caution now, not to make any fatal mistakes, which seemed inevitable with what they were carrying out, they should be able to handle the situation.

They had to check everything that they could, to make sure that this guy never acquired an opportunity to do anything.

What had he been doing? Had he been searching for the money, now that one of them was not going to inherit it? Yet that would mean that someone had been in it with him all along, and, perhaps, was informing him of their movements (probably carried out by mobile phones).

What had he been doing in the castle when he had killed the servant though? Had he realized that she had known something about his associate, at the castle, and had he decided to kill her before it had been too late? But he might have been just trying to hide some clue, which, perhaps, he had left, and the servant had confronted him.

Deep within the trees, he heard cheers, whistles, laughs, and shouts.

They were from a large group. The others had gathered together.

They sounded too cheerful for his liking. Perhaps as they had joined together for a leisure break.

Mortimer took them away to the side of them, but stayed obsessed with his intentions of rampaging through the wood on a straight course.

It reminded him of playing blind man’s buff. The wood was too dense, and it revealed very little. And their luck did not seem to be about to change either.

It was surprising how endless the wood seemed. All the woods he had previously been in were not endless – and had visible fringes, and had such things as gaps, and hills that could be used to survey land about it.

Merton and Mortimer still did not seem to have any real ideas on where the spirits of the wood were. He had expected some theories on where or what they actually were looking for to arise, and they seemed more to be waiting for something just to appear.

A bright patch appeared in the vegetation at their side, where there were shapes moving about.

Bryson felt how tired he had become, but decided not to slow; and he noticed that Merton was doing the same.

It annoyed him – when he thought about it – that Mortimer was just taking them somewhere the others would go. Did he think that they knew where they were going? And was he planning to join them?

He had expected him to change their direction.

Nothing that he heard from the others made any sense (seemingly meaningless conversations), but he heard tones of water, which mainly were splashes.

He was sure that it was only a small river, from sounds of water rushing along, as they could be normally heard a great distance away.

In the trees, at the center of a clearing, he saw the river leading through, with a pool that they were at.

Their presence drew the attention of some of them.

He spotted Robert, next to James, sitting in the middle of the group.

“If we could hire a helicopter,” Merton stated, “we could properly search all of this wood.”

Merton swiftly lit a cigarette, and blew out puffs of smoke, enjoying its intoxicating effects.

“Where’s the nearest place that they have them?” Mortimer continued.

Bryson watched Merton draw in smoke, trying to gain something from it. “Perhaps the police have one that we can get hold of.”

Merton and Mortimer nodded to disagree, disapprovingly.

“What’s that?” Mortimer discoursed, turning left.

Bryson only noticed a faint shape of light, glowing in a spot of dark green.

“There’s a wall – in all that jungle …”

Bryson peered, but accepted that his sight was now better than his.

“I see it,” Merton admitted, stubbing his butt into the bark of a tree, as sparks blew out into a gust of wind.

Bryson stared again, not seeing anything.

He glared into dimness, as they shifted position, to a slightly different angle, and he saw what had looked like rocks was really some form of wall. It resembled the remains of an ancient house.

As they made their way there, Merton became excited about what it could be, and constantly glared.

If they had found something, they would be lucky.

He started to wonder again if Mortimer knew something and had discovered something in the library – such as a map of the grounds, showing another structure. He had insisted on taking them straight there.

Bryson listened to them to see what they made of it, before he examined it in more detail.

He saw that Mortimer was unduly inquisitive about it. It was a small structure in the trees, branches, bushes, long grass, and plants.

Moss and vines made it almost impossible to see in that denser region of the wood, and they had to shove their way into it.

It seemed remarkable how Mortimer had seen it.

Chunks out of its walls were sprawled about them. But it did not have any large holes.

“The roof seems intact,” Mortimer announced, glaring upwards, pushing away the thick vegetation, as they moved around it.

The walls had thick blocks of stone identical to the castle, firmly cemented together.

Most of the slates were still there.

He heard the voices of some of the others moving on.

“Well,” Merton uttered to Mortimer, “do you think that it’s anything to do with that clue?”

“It seems be as old as the castle, but I don’t see anything …”

The voices of the others grew.

The door was almost rotted away, hanging from rusted bolts.

Mortimer shoved it away, making it screech over the floor instead. The interior had some dampness and rot, and with loose and weak upper beams.

The inside was as gloomy as it could be. Little light emerged through an old broken window, covered over in green slime.

Smells of rot came from places that they passed.

Through the window, Bryson spotted one of the others moving past, looking in a frontal direction.

“Well,” Merton spoke, smiling, “their group never saw it …”

“But is it of any use?” Mortimer continued.

“Who would want to stay out here?” Bryson muttered. “It would be astonishing if anyone managed to survive one night – with what those legends told …”

“It doesn’t have any notable signs that anyone lived in it. Why is there no fireplace, or anything, which a cottage or farm would have …?”

It did have an unusual design. He felt the texture of the stone. It was perfectly smooth as though it had been cut by a machine. The window, under the muck, was ancient, and made of thick glass, which had many warps.

Perhaps the thick walls had protected the occupants from the things in the wood, and they had designed it to withstand their powers.

Bryson helped Merton and Mortimer to sift through the rubbish, scattered in a thick layer over the floor.

“I can’t see us coming to a conclusion over what the clue means,” he confessed, as Mortimer moved past.

“At the moment, I cannot imagine finding it out. Or anything out here! There still is a chance that the answer could be in the library. Have you considered the fact that there could be other books, or even places where things could be written …?”

“Like a local cemetery?” Merton announced, as though he had been thinking over the matter for some time. “There has to be other graves! If we could find other graves from the same era, which have the same type of writing …”

“Even if there’s another structure out here, I cannot see it having anything …” Bryson resumed.

“If there is,” Mortimer replied, “the others may not realize much from it. But they’ll tell us about it!”

“That’s good enough though …!”

“So let’s not waste any more time – let’s go.”

Mortimer moved for the door, and jerked backwards.

A face emerged at the edge of the door. It was one of the others, who looked as though he had decided to check where their prints led.

As they left, Bryson noticed that they had split up again, and that their voices came in low tones from about them. And that they would have found the cottage anyway!

“Back to the castle then,” Bryson informed them, spotting another three of them already moving in their direction. It proved that they were doing their job, and that they would have a good chance of finding anything else – for him to investigate.

They moved out of the area, and Bryson frequently turned to listen.

He watched a hare hop past, looking terrified. It also looked as if someone else had recently been near it, and had scared it.

It shifted nervously from place to place, and as if its subconscious mind were only making it move past. It was lost without a place to hide.

It did not seem to realize that it was capable of running faster than them. It perhaps took their size to be a sign of how powerful they were at running.

It was interesting walking through the wood, instead of along the path. It gave him the feeling that they now had an advantage, and that they could watch things occur without being noticed.

Other animals were now visible. And his eyes were accustomed to the darkest places, where they passed, and he seemed to be able to notice everything about them, as well as recognize vague noises, which he had not understood before.

Then, incredibly, he spotted distant prints of the reporter, stopping behind a tree, where there was a distant view of the vault – and he saw that the reporter had returned to the tombs.

Chapter 40

 

The Village

 

Bryson led Merton and Mortimer along a grassy trail, over to a small graveyard, while they reluctantly followed, still wishing to continue with their previous investigations, but realizing that their chances of finding any conclusions there were vanishing.

They would have, of course, entered the village church to observe its interior if they could have.

The vicar had beat a brisk retreat though, over at the medieval church, bowing his head, as if ducking to enter an extremely low doorway, as he vanished into a side door, and going back to sanctuary.

Merton and Mortimer had spoken with such ease to him that it assured him that they had done it before (working at such locations on their investigations).

He had only suspicions on whether they had any religious interests. Even though it could hold some vital information that he never knew – especially on why they had such an interest in psychic research, and such things – almost dedicating their lives to researching it.

Why had they gone to such lengths to achieve their almost impossible goal? There was no suggestion that they were chasing large sums of cash doing what they did, and he had never heard of anyone succeeding. It was interesting though, and he doubted if anything that he did would come close to it. They were modern explores! They went on assignments in remote places, searching for fascinating freaks of nature.

He wondered if it was their first treasure hunt.

Even though Mortimer had once been an archaeologist. Perhaps that was another reason why they did it, and they used hunting ghosts as a cover to investigate places where there were chances of them finding valuable artifacts, or evidence of their existence.

At the door of the church, the elderly vicar emerged, and walked out, looking shyly at them, trying to focus on them – hesitating and tempting himself – with some hidden compulsion.

“Gentlemen,” he called, “if you wish to look around the church, please do, but I’ll not be able to join you, as I have my work.”

Bryson watched him creep back into the church, wondering what he had reacted to, as he had not said anything.

“What will we do now?” Merton muttered.

“He doesn’t have any information,” Mortimer replied first, explaining how much of a waste of time that was.

“I’d just like to check the graves,” Bryson confirmed, watching to see if Merton had lost interest.

The graveyard was on a hill, in an open space, surrounded by the rest of the village – where they had traveled to from the opposite side.

Bryson studied the peculiar effect of the scenery looking immense, with it being on a hill, and the landscape not having so many trees. The sight of endless trees filling the horizon had altered his inner perception of a normal landscape, and he expected to see trees, but only saw emptiness.

He realized how safe it felt, and that he had returned to a natural place, holding a clear view of everything.

Yet they probably could not find more solitude than back at the castle.

Sparrows squawked hungrily, some savagely fluttering their wings, and others hopped from hedge to hedge, making expressions resembling growls at them, at attacking their territory. They looked desperate – the snow covered most of the countryside, and the hedges and ground looked empty of the things to eat.

Many shifted fast, staying warm, moving from their positions, as they approached, and looked forced into accepting their intimidations.

There were no signs that showed that anyone had been near there in a long time.

The graveyard shrouded in snow took the appearance of heaven, with its brilliant whiteness. The castle not being there also gave him feelings of it.

They struggled through a jungle of withered weeds, buried in thick snow, going between the graves, giving brief glances at their dates and words, and occasionally stopping to look at them in more detail – at things of interest.

Mortimer now looked moderately happy there.

The taxi driver had taken them to the right place after all. It was the oldest church, and most likely graveyard to have what they wanted.

The taxi rested beyond the church gates, with the driver still flicking ash out of the window, giving them nervous glances. He occasionally glared directly towards them, thinking of some fact – true or imagined.

As Bryson read the engraved phrases on a grave, almost buried in moss and dirt, he realized how much the driver had astonished him.

He knew that it was not his normal reactions, and that he was reacting to them being in his presence, because they were from the castle.

He had not known how to start communicating with them. He had been more than likely thinking of many things that he had wanted to say and had not known where to start. He seemed to be considering warning them of something! He had suggested that he knew of things that they ought to know. It had been more like a joke though.

He realized that he might know legends. He seemed to know people that lived about the estate.

He had given many suggestions that he had wished to obtain information from them – on what was happening there, with it being in the news.

As Bryson observed the driver, at a distance, as they examined different graves, he caught his attention more.

What would it be? Yet Sir Richard might have affected them, or had persuaded people to do it for him – to scare away outsiders. But he doubted it! And nobody had ever said that he had done anything like that.

“This one has the same date as William Randall’s grave,” Mortimer announced, over at his side, grabbing his attention away from the distant landscape, where his eyesight kept falling.

Bryson crouched in the long grass. It was someone who had been at the village at the same time, but there were few words there – mentioning things that were not what they were looking for. He knew by Mortimer’s reactions that he had already finished with it.

And Bryson realized that Mortimer had lost confidence in there being anything there.

Their stroll gradually increased to a fast walk, with them only glimpsing at dates and names.

Then they returned to the taxi.

The driver was patiently waiting on them.

“Did you find what you were after?” he called back, watching their faces in the mirror, and looking about the road ahead, checking it going into the horizon.

“No,” Bryson replied, since nobody else was going to reply. “We are looking for more stuff about the castle. Do you know if there’s somewhere else, like a library, where we can get it?”

A loud squeak came from his seat, making him turn his head, and look very alert.

The vicar then stuck his head out of the church. Then, as the taxi engine burst into life, he shut the door, and the taxi pulled away.

“I cannot help you – as you will find very little about it … I’ve lived here all my life …”

He glanced at him in the mirror, and adjusted it slightly, to a precise position.

Bryson saw that he had changed from what he had been like on the way there, and he did not want to say any more.

Chapter 41

 

Deadly Blizzard

 

The taxi raced down the dark road, through the heavy blizzard, going deep into the thick wood, and skidded on the snow as it went around a bend, while the new driver tried to catch up with some police cars.

The deep snow glowed brightly in the light from the headlights, beaming out, and Bryson saw many more police cars parked along the road.

It was night, and he was tired from the evening spent at the village, and the sudden confrontation on the small road, just as they were about to reach the castle, was unwelcome.

The car approached the police cars and skidded to a halt, behind them, and they jumped out.

In the distance, from where the taxi had come from, he saw three more police cars, and what looked like two normal cars, all racing towards him.

Inspector Bailey was standing playing with a loudspeaker.

“Let’s spread out!” he hollered, through it, with it blaring out at full volume. And he stopped to turn the volume down (looking like he wanted to throw it away instead).

Another policeman took it, and started use it to speak for him, telling them to come over to him.

“What happened?” Mortimer asked desperately – now not understanding the situation – and then noticing that they were not really listening.

“If we search along this stretch of road, all of us should easily find their trail.” Inspector Bailey firmly announced.

Inspector Bailey played around with the loudspeaker again, making sure that he did not touch the volume.

“We’re going to search along this road,” he muttered to Mortimer. “So look for any footprints!”

Everyone started clambering through the snow, going along the road, in different groups. Bryson searched the inner wood, while the others around him looked about the road – generally searching places that they believed the others were not searching.

The other cars reached the cars, and the policemen in them started climbing out, chatting loudly, about what was happening.

Eventually, a distant shout came from behind them, and all of them made their way to there.

Bryson took the opportunity to question him further.

“What’s happened? Who’re you after?”

“Has the killer struck again?” Mortimer continued.

“Are you chasing him?” Merton tried to resume.

“We could be! We’re searching for some of the women. They’ve vanished! And there’s a possibility, according to the others, that they’ve come up against him.”

“Or they’re lost out there – in this blizzard!” Merton continued.

Bryson listened horrified! He knew one of the women was Sarah by their reactions. And he started to prepare himself for what was to come.

“So spread out,” Inspector Bailey shouted, “and tell us immediately, if you find them.”

The policemen were entering the wood, with their torches jumping about, lighting up the dense trees. And Bryson’s heart pounded, as he waited for them to yell that they had found their mutilated bodies.

But their lights vanished into the wood, and their voices grew faint, until he could not hear them. By the time Bryson, Mortimer, Merton, and Inspector Bailey reached where they had been, they were deep in the wood, and increasing their speed.

Bryson examined the footprints at the side of the road, untouched by them. They definitely were theirs. Sarah’s shoe mark was there! Moreover, all three were women’s shoe marks, and that was the correct amount of prints, for the group that she had been in.

Bryson raced after them, through the trees.

This time it felt as though the rest of their walks had been training.

In minutes, they were rushing through branches, dodging trees, in almost complete blackness – with the vague lights jumping about everywhere, in front and behind.

Bryson received bruises and cuts everywhere. His lower legs were soaked, in pools of icy mud and water.

Heavy breathing, and clouds of steam, poured out of their mouths.

He became sure that they were going to find something ahead of them, as he could not see them going at the pace that they were going at for very long; but he had not heard anything to confirm it.

When they continued on and on, he started to doubt that they had anything, and that they were either wrong or desperate. However, after he had seen the situation in front, he took it that they were just racing.

Did they actually know how long ago the prints had been there? He had been sure that they could tell fresh prints. But he doubted it, and they could be miles away, lost in the wood, trying to return from some other angle.

They had all day, but they had obviously been strolling through the wood.

Nonetheless, had they become so tired that they could not make it back?

Bryson slowed as some of the policemen in front got more and more exhausted, and finally allow them to pass.

Their pace finally started to slow, at the front, as the wood went dense. And they continued at a more normal pace, almost as if the ones at the front had finally realized what they had already known – that they could be going through there for hours.

Bryson was now able to move himself to a position near the front, where he stayed watching the policemen at the front of the group rushing on – not fully knowing what they were doing.

Bryson stayed at his position, not really knowing the policemen, and having no real need to get involved.

He remained at a distance that he could see the footprints that they came to.

Bryson spotted the policemen stopping, and he slowed.

The prints went off in another direction, directly to their left.

He believed that they had not fully known where they had been.

How could they be lost with their prints always being behind them? They had to have had some idea where they had been going – and that they would not have dramatically changed their direction, to go over there, if they had not had a reason.

Yet they might have become too tired or something, to return. If one of them had injured her leg, what would they have done?

He observed everything in detail, but saw little. But he was sure that they would have returned to the road …

Yet, later on, they might have later become so tired and far out that they might have gone somewhere to shelter.

At this moment they could be even trying to return here, if they had not found any shelter.

Bryson was confused, and no longer really knew where they were, as nothing was ahead of them, and they were endlessly going on; and he came to the conclusion that he did not fully realize what they had been up to – going this far into the wood.

What were they expecting to find? Why had they not just stayed in the radius of the castle, where the rest of them had been? What sort of information would they have expected to discover? What would Sir Richard have been doing out at this place? The hunt was turning to a disaster before his eyes.

He tried to imagine what sorts of ideas had been running through their heads. But he could not imagine any of them having come out with such an idea unless they had found something that had given them definite proof that something was in this region.

To his sudden horror, the policemen stopped dead. Their behavior showed that something had occurred.

Bryson blindly shifted to them – waiting to witness a detestable sight.

But he could barely see in the dimness, and he listened to hear the voices of the police grow to an audible level, as he moved near.

“We can go back now …” the policeman moaned.

Then he heard one of them using a radio or mobile, communicating with someone, while the others listened.

“What is it?” Mortimer called, from behind his back, proceeding fast to him.

The policeman turned towards them. “They’ve found them – at a location over there – near the village. They made their way over there, and they are staying at a hotel.”

Bryson felt like falling over. They had gone to the village instead of going back to the castle. It was illogical! It was far more distant.

Why had they wanted to go there? And why had they not phoned the castle.

He was annoyed, but happy that nothing had happened.

“Why are they staying at a hotel?” he grumbled. “They could have returned in a taxi, or have phoned someone.”

Mortimer could only shrug his shoulders. “They might not have had a phone.”

“A hotel without a phone …!”

“It’s probably a small bed and breakfast, without a public phone.”

It was hard to believe that they had made it to a hotel. They had strolled there, over hours though. It had been earlier in the day.

Chapter 42

 

Escalating Aspirations

 

The bedroom was more silent, empty, and cold now, but he slept better.

It had the effect of making him even wake late.

He stood at the window, and studied the outside.

Now where should they begin, and concentrate their investigations?

He felt about in his pocket for a piece of paper, where he had scribbled the clue Sir Richard had given them beside the writing from the tomb of William Randall. Then he studied it, to try to jolt his mind.

If they had found something, he would have been deeply surprised, he now realized. Not just because he, or the others, could not think of anything, with all the things that they knew now, but because the clue had little to do with anything, and because of the way that Sir Richard had behaved on the video. They would need to be lucky to answer it, and he was almost certain.

He even sensed that he was missing something about Sir Richard, which he could not quite grasp (something that he had not acknowledged had been true). He believed that he would actually have to hear it in the right way before he would accept it as being something.

And why would he have even hidden it near him? The theory existed because they had mainly believed that he would have wanted to make sure nothing happened to it. But it was now clear that he could have done that and have put it almost anywhere.

He now realized how hungry he had become, and how cold the room was out of bed.

He watched the clouds roll past. And he pushed his feet into his shoes, remembering why they were so sore.

He had desires to leave the castle.

He picked up his radio from the table and fiddled with the dials, trying to receive a clear signal.

He felt his cuts and bruises, including his sore feet again, trying to recall where he had acquired them – remembering the night before in vivid detail – realizing how serious and determined they had been.

Suddenly, he saw the door vibrate, and a knock emerged.

He opened it, and Merton and Mortimer entered.

“Incredible!” Merton uttered, looking out the window at the wood.

“Do you remember us discussing that your uncle could have invested the cash in something?” Mortimer suddenly remarked, recollecting something he wished to say, before he forgot. “He could easily have concealed it somewhere – without it being noticeable.”

“Somewhere!” Merton resumed.

Bryson considered the idea of a painting being hidden. “You may be right – there may be. We’ve not even been in some of the rooms yet. And I cannot imagine any of the furniture and antiques being worth that much.”

“There would have been a risk that someone could damage it, not realizing its value – or even future owners discarding it.”

“Then perhaps it’s something that would not be damaged, and be in a place where it would be safe.”

Yet he realized his previous thoughts, and that he could just about hidden it anywhere.

“I think that we should stay quiet about it,” Merton uttered, making sure that someone would not be able to listen from along the corridor.

“That’s a good idea,” he replied, wondering what they were trying to suggest.

“Well, we were having a look for it,” Merton explained, excitedly, “and I think we found somewhere.”

“Or something else!” Mortimer said, calming him.

“What?” Bryson replied, wondering what they meant.

Merton indicated to him to follow them, and they led him down to the room next to the library, where Bryson and James had heard the wall was thinner, and they had realized that the inner library could have been behind it.

Mortimer lifted part of the carpet, at the corner of the room, next to the wall. And Merton grabbed the planks of wood up, which were loose.

They examined the stone of the original floor under it, from when they had built it (built when they had installed the electricity in the castle).

Merton randomly tapped the lower floor.

Bryson heard parts of it were hollow.

“I’ve not seen anyone near here,” Merton spoke silently to Mortimer.

A faint crackle came from Bryson’s radio, in his pocket, which he had left on. And he responded by listening to the background sounds from it. Out of all the devices that there was available, he had to have brought only a radio!

He should have found and got a mobile phone – at the village – if any of the small shops sold them.

He did not know if the others were going to continue their search of the wood or what. He was sure that some of them had lost interest in it. There was nothing out there but endless trees. The other legendary building, which Robert had spoken of, did not exist, as far as he was concerned. Or was it that cottage or whatever?

There was something about hunting for “hidden treasure” that he did not like, even though it really was his first time. There were too many things suggesting where things could be, which were dead ends.

Though many people had actually found things while looking for other things.

He stretched his tired limbs, and thought of going to the window.

“Well, what do you think?” Merton asked Mortimer, with a definite tone, looking sideways, at the fascinated face of James, at the door.

“What …?” James grunted, amused, looking as if he had lost an argument, and that he had not expected them to be there.

Bryson noticed how much James was like the way that he remembered him – when he had been younger. He felt like smiling, but he was too tired, and he wished that he had stayed in bed longer than he had done.

“What are you looking for there?” James voiced, to their amusement, probably trying not to look daft.

Mortimer observed him, with a bewildered expression.

“Something is hidden down here!” Merton confessed, when he moved in the room.

James grunted, and briskly stood at the window.

Bryson smiled intensely, and studied the floor.

Another look at Mortimer showed him that he also had been up too long.

“It’s already becoming tiresome staying in here,” Mortimer confessed to him, slightly surprising him with his sudden openness.

Merton ignored him, sleepily hunched over the floor.

He tapped the floor, listening to see how hollow it was. There obviously was not any stone behind it, and he was sure of it.

“Why would someone put anything down there?” Bryson asked.

“Which looks kind of small to me!” Mortimer spoke.

Mortimer dropped down on his knees, and pulled up a handle, hidden in the rubbish – at the center of the hollow region.

He suddenly looked more energetic.

“How can we check what’s down there?” James said, smiling.

“We would need to tug at it,” Merton replied. “Perhaps we can find out what’s holding it in place.”

“It will be all that rubbish,” Mortimer assumed.

“Let’s check it, before we come to any conclusions.”

The three of them went to different places around the handle, and they simultaneously yanked it – feeling its weight, and that it was thick and heavy wood.

Mortimer’s side of it slightly shifted outwards first – proving nothing was holding it there, and the rest of it came out simultaneously.

As it shifted out, it became clear that it was a trapdoor, covering something.

There was no sign of what was in the darkness beneath it.

Small, ancient webs stretched across the corners of it.

James helped Bryson to squeeze into the gap, swiftly pulling away the layers of webs for him.

At a position where the blackness engulfed him, he fumbled about at the wall.

“Another tunnel!” Bryson revealed, looking down a line of stone steps, vanishing into darkness, somewhere beneath the castle.

“I’ll go and get a torch,” Mortimer said, going away towards the kitchen, leaving him studying its interior.

When he returned, Merton shrugged, and took the torch from him. He played with its switch, seeing how well it worked.

Bryson firmly took the torch, and shifted down the steps, stretching down to a point below.

Mortimer secured his feet, on the steps, making sure that they did not wobble, and that he would not fall.

Bryson watched the torch, making sure that it would not pack in when they needed it. But it had enough power, and it would last.

Mortimer climbed down, turning his head from side to side – as he approached the bottom – seeing nothing but webs shrouding a wall.

Dirt fell over them, but it seemed to be dry. Though a stale odor suggested the contrary.

It had the look of being just a cellar, which someone might have just added to the castle.

It gave him a light shiver, realizing what they could be dealing with though, as he glanced about him, exploring its depths, in the dim light. Had the haunting been coming from down here?

He heard faint sounds, which sounded as if mice were being strangled by a large bird.

Yet, if it did exist, and they could just find something that would prove to the world that there were supernatural phenomena, and solve the mysterious haunting of the castle, it would be worthwhile.

He considered if supernatural elements were part of the universe after all – and not just flaws in it! Their existence could have helped create the universe, and made it function – by a means, perhaps, that no human, alien, or computer would ever fully comprehend.

Perhaps the universe had supernatural dimensions and powers that it needed to exist. If the dangerous powers of the suns never existed, there would not be habitable worlds.

He considered what he would have thought of what he was doing now, when he had first visited the castle.

Mortimer glanced at him, and stared at him, tiredly, with the torch at his face, making it glow in the dark.

“Your passage seems to be a dead end,” James teased.

Mortimer nodded at him. “I can’t see why it ends …”

“They might have built it for another use,” Merton muttered. “Such as to hide in, if invaders attacked the castle. They would never have found it!”

“What’s that …?” Mortimer uttered, keeping his voice low. “Do you see something …?”

He stopped, and pointed downwards.

“It’s a leaver!”

Mortimer crept forward.

The light was strong enough to illuminate it. And he strolled towards it.

On his approach, Bryson perceived that there was not much to see. It was so vague that it hardly looked like anything. Yet it was part of the structure, and he knew that it had a gap leading into somewhere.

Mortimer yanked the leaver, and the wall slowly shifted, with a machine-like noise, to reveal a gap.

“We’ve found something!” Merton uttered with excitement.

Bryson watched Mortimer rushing into it.

Bryson jumped through afterward, plunging into blackness. Mortimer’s arm mechanically shifted, with the torch.

He wiped away the thick gray webs, shrouding him.

His first glimpse startled him, as he had been expecting an identical emptiness endlessly going off into darkness.

It had look of a dungeon. Its space was large, and an amount of objects became visible.

There were ancient objects scattered everywhere, glowing in the dim light, covered in layers of dirt and webs.

He crouched beside a nearby object – an ancient seat.

It had mostly rotted away, with thick lumps of rust and decay over it. And piles of decomposed materials were beneath it.

“It’s a seat!” Merton explained, persuading Bryson to go further in, to another item.

He came to a similar seat, which he shook, causing pieces of it to fall and float about in the air, in the vague light, as if its parts were falling to bits.

Mortimer arrived at their side. They began moving about – checking various objects – treasure hunting – within the range of the light.

Their murmurs were soon telling Bryson that they were unable to identify the objects. Disintegrating boxes of things were heaped about them like mounds animals dig.

Within them, which he downheartedly viewed, he caught glimpses of something – differently shaped, and in a superior condition, to the rest.

They marched over to it, ignoring other strange objects, by their sides, vaguely capturing their attention – but they were mainly things that some past owner had discarded, or had forgotten about.

He had heard tales of people finding valuable and extremely rare antiques, in places where things had remained out of the reach of people, where they could not destroy them or throw them away – where they had remained for decades.

As he approached the object, he saw that it was large, and then that it was another bookshelf.

Mortimer carefully fitted the torch onto an old garden ornament, beside it, so that the light brightly went over it.

“It’s packed with books!”

“Is it another section of the library!” Mortimer uttered, looking confused.

“Someone must have put it there to store them,” Bryson uttered, glaring at the books with interest.

Bryson and James lunged towards them, with their eyes glancing everywhere, engrossed in what they saw.

That section luckily had no dampness, and deterioration had only partially ruined their contents.

They had to have found something, or it would lead to that. However, most of them were in bad condition, with no real value, and apparently never mentioned anything. Although they had similar contents as the original castle library, placed out of the way, by some such as Sir Richard, at an earlier era.

Bryson knew that there were books missing from the outer library. Their contents were empty – as if someone had chosen to put them there for their lack of information – perhaps so as not to give away too much, and give away the location of the money.

“How long do you think it’ll take to check them?” Merton asked, searching through the titles, which were readable, for things in particular.

“I don’t know,” Mortimer moaned. “We may be lucky.

“The others are working outside!” James replied. “Some of them can help us look for it.”

Bryson decided to do what he had done the last time, and to start by checking all the titles.

He soon started wondering how boring the people in those times had been.

He was sure that there was something there.

At a distance, his eyes searched the whole lot, seeing what would become noticeable, but his sight fell on empty, blank shapes. It was as though their spines had rotted away, or had some form of ink dropped on them. But it was their real original covers.

Even though many of them had bits missing, they seemed to have their contents intact.

He held one, unable to see little, in the dim light, and he then greedily roamed through the rest, confirming that they were just books to amuse people of there era.

When they finished, and the torch was going dud, they rushed up to the library with what they had.

Merton and Mortimer then dedicatedly rummaged through the tattered remains of the pages of books, slightly horrified at the state of them – as they were valuable!

They more than likely also would hold a great deal of useful facts, which might help a lot.

Their fingers touched their pages as if they were tissue paper that might crumble away, and be lost forever.

They insisted on leaving pages of them, and books, for further investigation, where they could properly restore and investigate them.

One surprised Bryson with how well he could read it, without trying to decipher it.

“What do you have?” James asked, becoming bored.

Merton leaned over, to examine it, and turned interested in it. Bryson then handed it over to him. He was curious what he would make of it.

Bryson tried to imagine what kind of person had written it.

And he wondered why the entrance had been hidden away under the floor.

Though Sir Richard had been eccentric, and had been capable of doing strange things, he doubted if he had known it was there.

“Let’s check them some other time,” Bryson informed them, seeing that Mortimer was becoming tired, and temporarily losing interest in their latest discovery.

“Good idea!” Merton replied, standing up.

Merton handed back the book.

Bryson started searching behind the shelves, at the inner library. Then for where the cable there led to, as it was not visible.

“Where do want to go?” Bryson asked, playing for time, while he tried to find it.

“We want to go back to the vault,” Mortimer announced firmly.

“We first want to collect a piece of equipment that we left out there,” Merton replied. “It’ll also be a good idea to check the others!”

“They’ll be looking in other places now,” James muttered.

“Where does that wire lead?” Merton moaned.

“They had to have covered it up!” Merton answered.

Merton and Mortimer followed the wall, occasionally glancing at the floor and roof for any signs of anything.

“I cannot see it,” Merton spoke, at the doorway.

They looked about the outer walls, seeing nothing.

Mortimer tapped the wall, about the doorway. It was, as it looked, solid.

Bryson observed him tapping at the wooden doorway, which thickly surrounded the entrance, where the door was at the middle of. And he saw Mortimer recognize something, and that he resembled a dog homing in on something.

He watched him tap the doorframe, showing him that it had a distinctly different sound.

Bryson banged it, trying to acquire some kind of insight into what was there; but it only sounded hollow, and that the wood there was thinner.

Mortimer then spotted something, and he moved the whole section of the doorframe, to its side, leaving a slight gap. And Bryson shoved it further, and the sheet of wood slid smoothly to the side, revealing a mechanism, with the cable wrapped around its spindle.

The device was magnificent! And it was far from being Victorian … It looked more like machinery from the Second World War (perhaps even a little later).

Mortimer activated a red button, and they watched its small engine shudder, making screeches – showing him that it was either broken or jammed.

He then pressed it again, stopping it. And Bryson saw that the cable had been tangled by them opening the shelf out in an unconventional way, and that it had caught on a bit of metal on the device, which he untangled, and then activated it again.

The shelf opened out, and switched itself off.

“What era do you think it’s from?” Merton asked Mortimer.

“The Victorians never had anything as advanced as that,” Mortimer concluded.

Bryson then activated the red button, making it close.

Chapter 43

 

Another Death

 

They did what they could to check what the others were doing before they walked to the wood.

James left them, and joined Sarah, as she cheerfully left a taxi, with bags of souvenirs, from the village – while vaguely considering what the taxi driver was up to, trying to warn her of something.

The others notably seemed to have lost interest in looking for anything in that part of the wood.

The wood had returned to being virtually empty – with only a few distant sounds.

Merton and Mortimer walked slowly, obviously not bothered about how long it would take to arrive at their destination. But when they approached the vault, Mortimer swiftly took them towards the tombs, to get the piece of equipment.

Bryson wandered down the steps, expecting to see the figure of the reporter – with a resemblance of a ghost – with his image firmly implanted in his mind.

He was sure that he had even dreamed of the place.

Mortimer seemed obsessed with the tombs, probably because it looked like a haunted place, and a normal location that they worked at.

The piece of equipment turned out to be a small tape recorder, which Mortimer had not remembered, and which was in an unobservable place, between two tombs, where it could gather sounds.

When they reached the top of the stairs, Bryson soon started to become interested in it, as he thought over what it could have captured, and it had obviously recorded many sounds.

As they rested, in the upper chamber, Mortimer finally activated it.

Its batteries were weak, from much use.

Sounds of Mortimer appeared first, and then he heard the voices of James’s friends rushing around – with some of them astonishingly opening the tombs, while laughing, as they had finished hidden bottles of wine.

As they had left, the machine had deactivated, and another sound had appeared. Footsteps had echoed through the chamber, going specifically to a place at the back – with no vocal sounds.

Bryson listened to the reporter lifting or moving something heavy – trying to grip whatever it had been. He then had stopped abruptly, and Bryson heard himself walking down the stairs.

The amount of time that it had taken Mortimer to emerge had been surprisingly short.

Then, incredibly, more noises appeared, afterward, showing that the reporter had gone straight back to the exact same place, after they had gone into the wood.

“What do you think that guy was doing?” Bryson muttered, mainly to himself.

Merton shrugged, showing his lack of interest.

Bryson grew determined to obtain facts, and he went out of the building, to search for his footprints.

Bryson and Mortimer then started following them, from where he had left the vault, after he had returned there. And they went from the vault in the opposite direction, from where he had arrived from.

“So you want to look over there?” Merton uttered, catching up with him, desperate to obtain some information on what he was doing.

“They go back to castle anyway,” Mortimer continued, while pointing to a place further out, where the prints sharply turned, going towards the castle.

They were at a distance away that they would never have seen from the pathway.

While they followed them, it became apparent that he had gone through places that had hidden him.

It astonished him that they looked the same as the other prints that had gone from the castle.

He started to wonder why he had not asked the police, the night before, to interrogate the man again, to ask him why he had returned there, and if he had entered the castle. They had his shoe prints to confirm it! How many people wore the same shoes, with that type of tread?

He attempted to remember every detail of the marks, and thought of drawing them.

At an open area ahead, he spotted an unusual shape, which he watched Mortimer glaring at, astonished. And he felt a strange feeling that there was something there that he did not want to see.

Suddenly, there were marks across the ground, across their path, from where the reporter had obviously fallen over. Yet there was no sign of anything on the ground that could have caused him to fall in such a way.

Then, as they went further, Mortimer rushed ahead, and crouched on a mound of snow. And Bryson observed the reporter at it, and his blood covering his fingers.

Chapter 44

 

The Hit Man

 

Bryson had trouble accepting that the situation had been confusing before, because now he could not even imagine solving what had happened.

The thought of departing from the cold confines of the castle gave him shivers of extreme pleasure.

He could return home, and stay in reality – not on the brink of catastrophe! – and he could solve normal problems, with the effortlessness that he had done.

He studied the crumpled body of the reporter, trying to ignore how hideous it was, trying to look upon it as an artist would observe a crazy exhibit at an art exhibition. But it was no use!

The complexion of the body, drained of blood, and frozen over the snow, made the place too dangerous, even though it had been there from the previous day.

He attempted to work out the exact time that it could have occurred, and where he had been. He could not understand why he had not heard a gun.

Mortimer still seemed slightly shocked – since the discovery of the body, besides the bushes, where the reporter had crawled to in his last seconds of life.

“Who would want to shoot him?” Mortimer muttered, not being able to stay silent any longer, breaking the deep silence.

“What worries me more than anything,” Bryson replied, with confusion, “is that I don’t have any clues!”

“They’ll find something!”

“This is ridiculous! We should have gone back to the castle.”

“There was no need for us to go back …”

“But, on the other hand, we could have gone back to the warm library – instead of staying with this corpse!”

“You’ve a point, but we may find out something, which we should know – about who did it. His prints will be found – once they find out where he was hiding.”

“It has to be in those bushes over there …”

“You’re correct,” he muttered, glaring about the wood with interest, perhaps wondering how much he would ruin it if he took a look.

They had to stay where they were, and not touch anything!

“How did his killer know that he would be here?” Bryson muttered, startled by the thought that there had been someone watching the reporter, and perhaps them, with a gun.

“Perhaps he was lurking about, and saw him on his own – and then followed him to this spot.”

“Why would he want to kill the reporter? At first, he was a lunatic who was strangling people! Now he is using a gun, with a silencer.”

“Why would he have had a silencer? He might have noticed that sounds were not carrying that well – owing to the atmospheric conditions …”

“However, yesterday sounds were reasonably loud from throughout the wood, and deep within it. I heard an airplane away over there! And I’ve heard farmers using guns and shotguns … And I’m fairly sure that we should have heard it. He must have used a silencer …”

“Shotguns and normal shooting guns produce much more of an explosion, than a normal handgun. But you could be correct …”

Mortimer eyed up the wound on the corpse, almost trying to measure it in millimeters, to compare it to a small handgun bullet.

Then, he jerked, when Inspector Bailey’s heavy breathing emerged in the distance.

His persistent moans followed, and gave Bryson the impression that Merton had not entirely explained what had happened, and that he could be thinking that he had dragged him out for nothing.

Although he could not imagine what he had said, as the occurrences on this occasion were far from normal. Yet, perhaps, he just did not fully believe him or something.

He watched him appear, with mild curiosity, considering what he intended to persuade Merton to explain to him.

Or did he suspect them of carrying out the ghastly crimes?

His eyes hardly moved from them, and he suddenly stopped, placed his hands at his hips, and tried to see the body.

When Bryson looked again, he was rushing towards them, not caring how tired he became.

“Are you sure that he was shot?” he moaned loudly.

“We ought to be able to recognize a bullet wound,” Merton moaned, not really thinking about what he was saying any longer.

“How do you know the person never stabbed him with something? Or perhaps after he could not strangle him!”

Merton shrugged, and vaguely thought it over.

“There are not any other footprints near him though. And he collapsed over there, across the snow.”

Inspector Bailey moved his head, and carefully studied the ground that he was going over.

“So while you were searching … This fellow was being shot …”

Bryson slightly moved his position, to see beneath the shoes of the reporter, and one of his nearby prints – and that they were as he had expected them to be.

As Inspector Bailey approached him, Bryson decided to grasp the opportunity to show them that he was right.

“You said that he didn’t kill the servant!”

“What …?” Inspector Bailey uttered, tiredly walking closer to the corpse.

“Is that the same tread mark that we followed from the castle, over to that road?”

“It does seem to be the same,” he murmured, studying it, with surprise, and slight amusement that they could have allowed such a detail to go amiss.

“If you want a better look at a proper print, look over there.”

Inspector Bailey walked over to the prints, where the reporter had fallen to the ground, and he examined the footprints.

“Let’s find out where the killer’s prints are,” he called over, looking at Merton.

Inspector Bailey approached them, glanced at the corpse, from where he was, homed into a position, and he marched straight over to the position that Bryson had carefully worked out.

The place, behind bushes, was hard to see, and the killer had chosen it well. The reporter surely would not have looked there, and it had concealed the person’s footprints.

Bryson studied the shoe marks, as he arrived there, with them, and was surprised to see that they were the same. As if the gunman had deliberately chosen the same shoes. Yet they looked in better condition!

He believed that the person had carried out a revenge attack, for what the reporter had done.

There had been many people about – with reasons. But where had the person obtained a gun? And how had he managed to do it without anyone seeing or hearing him?

Bryson carefully thought it over. But they had been in groups, except for one of two of James’s associates. But they had not been on their own for a long time. And when it had taken place, they had been away over there.

Nobody would have had the slightest inkling that he had been the reporter, or that he had done anything – especially after the police had released him. How could any of them have even known about the reporter? It was too far-fetched!

Bryson left with Merton and Mortimer, when more policemen started coming towards them through the wood. He knew that the prints of the gunman would lead to a road, and that he was too professional to do anything stupid like revealing where he was staying. Yet there was a chance that he could have left something behind!

He now thought of him like a hit man. But what if he was mistaken, and that he had killed the reporter just because he had been on his own.

What if the reporter, if that is what he had been, had been watching from the wood, and the killer had been in the castle, killing the servant. Both had reacted to them leaving the castle! The reporter had not properly seen the person hiding the body outside the kitchen, and had been checking what the killer had been doing, when he had entered the castle.

Nevertheless, why had he returned, and why had he been watching the castle?

Chapter 45

 

Ancient Treasure

 

Adrenalin exploded through Bryson, as he interpreted the text of the ancient diary again.

There was no doubt about it, every time he had read the ancient text, he had acknowledged the same thing.

They had left the diary, forgetting it, leaving it for another time, when they had enough time to look for the treasure mentioned in it. They had not the time to look for both. And it could have been discovered anyway! But, when he had examined it again, at where he had left it in his room, he had believed that it could still be buried there, somewhere.

He had then realized that he had actually seen the missing page from it – an old crumpled piece of paper, which nobody had bothered about – at the place he had found the diary. And he had found it there – unnoticed by the others.

He had sat reading it repeatedly, in amazement, and had decided not to tell anyone until he had time to put the information that he had learned together – and perhaps discover something.

It was defiantly an authentic diary of one of his ancestors, who had stayed in the castle during the Victorian era, and who had been the daughter of the owner! And it gave a good deal of facts about the owner.

When Merton and Mortimer entered the library, he insisted in only suggesting it to Merton.

Mortimer had other things to think of, and seemed to have little concern about looking through the books. He surely was still thinking of the crime that had occurred, and perhaps who had done it.

Bryson returned to what he had been doing.

“We don’t want to spend too long here,” Mortimer confessed. “There are other things to do!”

“Do you think that they’ll catch that guy with the gun?” Merton asked, after reading something.

Mortimer and Bryson shrugged at each other.

“They should put serial numbers on bullets,” Merton muttered. “So that they can directly trace the bullet.”

“They can trace them to the manufacturer,” Bryson replied. “And maybe to the shop selling them. But would someone give their name to buy them, and use them to shoot someone? I reckon that they would not give them their proper identification, or buy illegal bullets.”

He wondered if there had been two killers in the wood, and one with a gun. He also wondered why the reporter had been in the vault. Had he been actually looking for the money? And had he been onto something? But had his killer been looking for it or him?

They knew what the killer’s shoes were like. They could check the others in the castle, by checking their shoes. But he saw that he was making a mistake, and that it would not be any of them or James’s friends. It seemed absurd, as they would easily have followed the person’s prints to the person, to where they had been in the wood, or have noticed that they had the same shoes.

Bryson read a passage from the diary, mentioning sounds from the woods, with the woman and father’s obsessive beliefs about it. It puzzled him! How could people have so many different views about such things (when there were no real facts)?

They had kept an ancient mentality at that era, but they had carried appropriate ways of handling things.

Their main way had been to pass on warnings to the next generation – influencing them into avoiding things, and doing things in specific ways.

It had lasted for centuries. In fact, he believed that Sir Richard’s uncle had been the weak link, who had stopped it, and he had held different views. He recalled some things about him, which he had found out when he had once questioned Robert. He had been the owner who had the castle modernized, into the way that it was now.

Merton pushed away his book, and looked at the diary with little enthusiasm.

Bryson casually pushed it in his bag. “After I’ve something to eat, I’m going take a look about the upper castle. I may come up with something with all the extra knowledge that I have accumulated!”

They nodded their heads in agreement, with a lack of interest in helping with the idea.

Bryson left, and went out into the corridor.

At the end of it, he spotted some of the police leaving to go to the murder scene.

How could they not have found anything? They had rigorously searched everything. But when he thought of how careful and accurate the killer had been, he could not imagine him making a mistake. And they would be lucky to find genetic evidence outside – in the snow, and harsh breezes. It was far from being the place that they normally did their work.

What was strange and annoyed him was that he had been starting to learn things about the reporter when someone had killed him. But it showed that his killer was also capable of making mistakes. Why had he not kept himself unknown about, and kept him alive? He could easily have carried out the crime somewhere else!

Chapter 46

 

Rearranging Abnormalities

 

As Bryson went around the end of corridor, he saw Robert in the dining room – sitting on his own – frantically chewing at a piece of beef, slightly startled, thinking over events, and what was occurring.

It surprised Bryson how fit he and some of the others now looked. They even had persuaded Sarah and Helen into walking about intensely, and out into the wood, looking for it.

“Sit down!” Robert announced, with a slight smile, with some inner amusement, as he caught sight of him entering. Perhaps disappointed in his lack of help!

A servant appeared with another plate full of food.

“Can you please fetch another!” he moaned, pushing it over to Bryson.

The servants were cordial; they speedily obeyed their few wishes, sometimes before they spoke.

They looked as if they had been chosen owing to them having worked in busy places. He was sure that Sir Richard had kept a system, and that he had regularly replaced them.

Bryson ended up eating as fast as Robert was eating, instinctively coping him, even though he was not as hungry.

“Where are you now looking?” he asked, casually, smiling.

“We had been over there before …” he replied, between swallowing pieces of potato.

“What happened over there?”

“We found the body of the reporter that they had caught watching here.”

Robert considered it for a few seconds, and just ignored it.

“Good luck!” Bryson said finishing his food, standing, deciding he was full now – moving for the door.

Robert continued eating, nodding his head towards him, still considering something and smiling.

Bryson listened to the creaks from the floorboards, as he went up the stairs, and he remembered the first time that they had gone up them.

He had fulfilled his wish of returning to the castle!

He walked along the second floor to his room, but as he passed the room that had the disturbances, he saw that the others had been working there.

He went in, approached the window, and observed some of the police, gathered about the front, beside many police vehicles. And he saw another group of policemen taking the body there, from the wood.

He watched their faces, trying to see any signs that they had found anything, but there was nothing.

Bryson looked at the wall behind the bed, after discarding anything being under the floorboards. It was too obvious. The hunt that they had conducted had been nothing more than what school kids could have done. It was ridiculous: they had achieved nothing!

The wall grabbed his attention. Yet every wall, in every room, could have the money. They were thick enough. Some of them even had chimneys running through them.

If he only had some of equipment that archaeologists used, it would give him a vague view of their interiors, as well as of the floors.

Bryson repeatedly thumped his hand hard against the wall, intensely listening for anything, while he slowly moved over the bed. Then he suddenly halted, and jumped back, as a chunk of stone crumbled and shifted out, from behind the wallpaper.

Chapter 47

 

Odd Ventilation System

 

The destruction to the historical castle gave him no real feelings of guilt, but he carefully shifted the awkward mass of stone out, in stages, from the wall.

He was obsessed, and his clambering resumed until he finally had to stop – feeling a sudden loss of energy, with his legs starting to collapse under him, with a mild discomfort to his hands and arms, cut and bruised, at where he had been tugging.

His eyes fell on the mess under him, with little interest. The thick layer of stone and dust fragments scattered across the bed could be cleaned.

With one sudden heave, he incredibly yanked the boulder out, and allowed it to fall to his side. A loud bang instantly came from the bed, and it collapsed downwards with the weight.

In the black gap, where Bryson had removed the stone block, there was nothing, and he waited for his eyes to adjust. But it stayed dim! And he poked his head in, but only saw that there was no stone behind where it had been.

He then stuck his body further inward, with his arms out in front. And further in, he felt that it was a sort of chamber between the walls, but as his sight adjusted to it, he saw that it was not, and that it must be a chimney.

He realized it was a stupid idea anyway. Why would anything be there: in a room in the middle of nowhere?

Yet it seemed too large to be a chimney, and there was no trace of soot or anything that would surely be there, even if they had it cleaned. Although there was a dim chance that nobody had really used it, and that any marks, if any, were in the darkness below. But, again, it was not in the right position to be one! And there were no chimneys below.

He knew where there was a torch, to check it, so he pulled himself away.

In a room along the corridor, he found the torch, and he speedily returned. And he climbed back in, and instantly saw its true size, and that it went further down than the room below, deep beneath the castle.

He thought of other castles, as he tried to work out why the builders would have logically added it to the castle. And he concluded that it had to be for ventilation! The people at that time did not have tightly confined buildings: they could easily have believed that they could suffocate in such places.

But what about the chimneys, why would they not have done? And why was it so large? And where was the opening that allowed the air to flow in?

His breathing echoed down into its abyss, and its coldness made him imagine clouds of steam pouring out of his mouth, into its darkness at the edge of him, out of the range of the torch beam.

His mind could not imagine anything.

He shone the torch upwards, and saw the end of the shaft, near the roof.

At the end of the corridor, behind him, he heard voices coming towards him, and he pulled himself out.

In the corridor, he saw Merton and Mortimer strolling towards him, probably wondering where he was. He had not arrived back, when they had expected him to.

“What’s happened?” Merton asked, shifting awkwardly, looking at the dust covering him.

“It’s not a chimney,” he quickly remarked, moving back to the room.

“We can’t leave you on your own …” Merton joked, astonished, entering the room, wondering what he had been doing.

Bryson handed Mortimer the torch, and he climbed onto the bed.

Merton went over to the window to observe the police.

Mortimer reached in, ignoring the dirt.

“It could be for ventilation,” he confirmed.

Bryson nodded once, showing that he agreed.

Merton looked at it. “It could be something like one of those small lifts that they use in hotels to hoist things up.”

Mortimer pulled himself out, while Merton shuffled his way to it. “Or it could have been used in the construction of the castle. That would explain why they hid it.”

After a few minutes, Merton seemed to see something in it.

“What is it?”

Merton pushed himself further in, moving the torch about inside it. “Did you see those holes down there?”

“I never saw them!”

“There are small holes going into other places. They’re all the way through it! It has to be for something like ventilation.”

He carefully considered something else, and he ignored it.

As he removed himself from it, Bryson moved back into it.

He instantly saw the holes at the places that Merton had looked. They were like the outlets of drainpipes, going into a sewer pipe. Perhaps it, in fact, had been an old sewer shaft, which led outside.

They obviously had built the castle toilets much later. Its strange design could have been an early invention, perhaps made by the builders. The relics of some Roman structures had them! Yet it did look more like a ventilation shaft! He could recall seeing something like it in the wall of another castle, which workmen were repairing.

“It would be interesting to find out where it leads,” he spoke, clambering out of it. “Did you have anything to eat?”

“I could do with something,” Merton replied, delighted, and Mortimer agreed.

“Let’s clean up some of this mess first,” Mortimer explained, brushing some of the dirt on the bed inwards with his hand. “It really is only on the bed.”

“If we can shift that block of stone into the corner …!” Bryson continued.

Mortimer went onto the bed, feeling it, making sure that it did not collapse any further under his weight, and he cleaned some dirt out of the hole, onto the bed.

Bryson and Merton joined in, and then Mortimer wrapped the outer bed sheet around the block. Then they lifted it off the bed, and shifted into the corner of the room – out of sight.

Bryson closed the door tightly shut, and they left. He did not want to draw too much attention to it.

He tried to recall what group had been working there.

As they walked into the dining room, Bryson saw that most of the others were there.

And he sat opposite Inspector Bailey, and a policewoman shifted from her distant seat to sit next to Inspector Bailey.

“What were you doing out there?” Bryson asked Sarah, trying not to speak too loud, and only put a slight noise into the background sounds.

“We were looking for another building,” she explained, trying not to look devious about something.

She took a sip of coffee, and gently placed it on its saucer, sensing some annoyance from them about it.

“How did you end up away out there though?”

She shrugged her shoulders, showing that she had no part in what had occurred, and that she did not wish to explain any further than she had done.

Inspector Bailey seemed to realize that they had not realized the trouble that they had caused.

He captured his attention for a moment, and continued to digest a piece of potato. And he lifted a smoldering cigarette from an ashtray, next to him, breathed it deep into his lungs, and blew it away from him, in their general direction.

“I heard that you had your detection equipment at the tombs out there!” he muttered.

“We did,” Merton replied first.

“Why did you go back to the tombs?”

Mortimer reached into his jacket pocket, and he removed the small tape recorder. Then he played with it, activating it.

“We left behind this noise-activated recorder in the vault. We went out to collect it! There are some sounds on it of the reporter going in there. He seems to have gone back to the tombs after we left …”

“You met him at the vault! What do you think he had been doing there?”

“We don’t know,” Mortimer replied, switching on the machine. “He could have been looking for the money. He did not stay long. There are sounds on it of him going in, and us arriving. After it, you’ll hear him returning there, before he went to where he died.”

Mortimer handed the machine over to him.

Inspector Bailey put it near his ear, and listened.

“That’s intriguing,” he muttered, handing it back, looking slightly puzzled.

Bryson took it from Mortimer, wondering if he would hear anything else on it. He had not heard it that well the first time, because of its low battery power. And it clearly did sound different.

He listened to the sounds of James’s friends leaving, with a slight amusement. Then the reporter arriving, when he had gone to the tomb. And he turned the volume up to try to hear him. He instantly heard a noise of him shifting something heavy, over stone. And, when he had returned after they had left, he heard the sound again, similar to the noise, as if he had returned something that he had altered.

“What have you found?” Inspector Bailey asked, noticing his reactions.

“Do you want to go over there to check?” Merton asked, guessing what was going to come next.

“If you wish …” Inspector Bailey answered.

“He could’ve hidden something there …”

Chapter 48

 

Underground Explorations

 

Inspector Bailey rushed down the vault stairs, grasping his torch, as though he expected something dangerous to leap out at him.

His reactions created a tense atmosphere amongst them, making Bryson wonder if all the policemen were reacting like him.

It was phenomenal, they were holding a full murder inquiry over in the trees, with them still searching for genetic evidence, as it grew dark.

Inspector Bailey was not stupid, and he did not push things too far, if he could help it.

Bryson led Inspector Bailey over to where the reporter had been standing. The place looked much different in the bright light of all their torches, and he was now able to see William Randall’s tomb properly.

Inspector Bailey moved at the ground, shifting his light downwards, creating a bright circle of light where he could closely examine the dirt.

Webs, pieces of vegetation, and layers of dirt covered everything.

In the dim outer illumination, Bryson watched Merton and Mortimer’s tense faces patiently waiting for the outcome, or for something to occur.

Inspector Bailey placed the torch at his side, rubbed his hands hard together, and moved his fingers as though he were going to carry out delicate surgery. He eventually shifted to another position, to allow them to see that there were faint shoe marks on the ground near him.

He then started brushing the dirt away, delicately removing it, and looking for traces of anything.

Bryson recognized a small hole in a slab – surely designed for some type of lifting contraption.

Inspector Bailey shoved a small stick in it, and used it to give it a hard pull up, lifting the entire slab a couple of inches.

Bryson recalled testing the floor near there.

It was where the reporter had been standing.

Merton shifted about breaking the deep silence, and Inspector Bailey carefully lifted the slab.

Bryson noticed a shaft, and that it would have prevented water flooding the vault floor. Small amounts of water had seeped through cracks, flowing down into it.

“Are we going to check it?” Inspector Bailey asked, trying to make them come to a conclusion.

Inspector Bailey looked uncertain at what it was.

It reminded Bryson of the shaft that he had seen in the room. But when he thought of it, he did not have a clue what it was. What was a tunnel doing in a vault? Why had they gone to such lengths to construct it? What hidden motive had been behind it?

They had to have built it for logical reasons, as all the constructions, which he could recall, of that era had been built for. They had built them for their needs!

“Perhaps it’s another part of the burial chamber,” Merton spoke, trying to recollect something such as it; maybe even from his memories of Egyptian tombs.

“Therefore, we’re going down into it!” Inspector Bailey forced himself to announce.

He pointed the light straight in front of him, illuminating part of the ground, and a few feet further down into it. And he lunged at it, as if he had decided that he would have to go into it eventually. He shifted down, examining steps, going into the darkness, which seemed to go down endlessly.

“Are you coming!” he yelled back at them, making Bryson move in next, startled at his actions.

Its main feature was its neat size, making it resemble an ancient mine, but more expertly constructed than that, as though built to last a long time, like an ancient sewer.

Further in, they had cemented bricks around it, like a Victorian sewer, which led him to believe that its age might not be as old as the castle. But it was too much in the same style.

The tunnel, when it stopped descending, noticeably went endlessly on into the distance, in a direction where there was nothing but woods, and they marched off into, preparing themselves.

What dangers could it hold? Did it have something of an incomprehensible nature existing in its darkness?

All the significations of it were startling! He had not even believed that the money could be under the wood, and there was a tunnel going under it.

The vault vanished behind them, and it even felt absurd that they were going so far into it. It was like something that was out of place, and should not have been there. Especially not at a burial site. Nothing seemed to put a conclusion to what it had been needed for, and why they had gone to such lengths to construct it.

Questions endlessly went through his mind, as he followed Inspector Bailey’s dark figure trudging on like a soldier into it, behind a beam of light.

He was sure that he had his gun, but his hand did not go near it; almost as though he believed a gun would not do any good. He seemed obsessed with handling his fantasy situation more than anything!

“Do you want one?” Merton moaned, handing him his cigarettes, as he blew out smoke about him; and he took one from him to break the endless routine.

He made sure Inspector Bailey took one, and he lighted it for him.

Bryson strolled on, blissfully smoking, wondering where they were going. They clearly were still under the wood, roots from trees had smashed their way through the brickwork, and they even had to avoid hitting some, going straight through.

It was surprising that it had not flooded with all the cracks and holes. But he saw signs that it had occurred, and saw a thick layer of dried mud over the stones under his feet.

There was no real chance of water leaking through anyway, as it would only snow.

“This could lead to that other structure, which we were looking for in the wood,” Mortimer announced loudly, from behind them.

“But why design and build a tunnel going from one building to another?” Bryson moaned back, to see what his reply would be.

The question hung in the air for a long time, with him trying to think of the conclusion. Even when he illogically thought about it, he could not find an answer.

Inspector Bailey lost his temper a few times, even with a cigarette, flaring away at his mouth, with the smoke spinning through the thin air behind him.

The mystery of where it led to was certainly the main inspiration that kept them going, seeking an answer, driving them on, no matter what.

If they turned back, they would never know, so they ought to keep going.

He realized that none of them would have believed that it went out to that length. Inspector Bailey might even have avoided going. His pace was slowing, his walk had changed, and he was struggling to keep going at a fast pace.

He was sure that he wished that he had ordered his men to go in it for him.

Bryson noticed that he took it for granted that the tunnel had not collapsed anywhere, and that they would not have to journey back.

There was something about that reporter and his casual attitude that gave him the impression that it had. If it was correct, then it surely proved that he had been in it before, and that would count out the money being at the end of it.

Bryson spotted something, in the distance, and his reaction instantly caught Inspector Bailey’s attention. And he went slowly, with his head facing there.

His head then went back to where it had been, watching the tunnel about him, making sure that nothing was in his way. But Bryson continued to examine what it was, and saw something blocking the tunnel ahead.

Merton and Mortimer soon noticed the problem, and Bryson attempted to hear their silent discussion. And he saw that they did not come to any real conclusion.

As they approached it, Inspector Bailey suddenly exploded with anger, and then held himself calm, on the brink of losing his patience, while he marched on.

“Why did they build a wall there?” Merton finally moaned, trying to obtain an answer, to such absurdity.

The four of them stood, resting, glancing at individual sections of the wall.

“They could have built another structure there,” Merton remarked. “Where do you think this is?”

Bryson saw that none of them knew, and that they had not been able to trace the direction with all the bends that had been in it.

Inspector Bailey started feeling along the edge of the wall, where there was a crack, going around it.

“We could shove it over,” Merton spoke, looking at it, showing Bryson a smile.

“That’ll not be necessary,” Inspector Bailey answered. “Even though that may do … I believe that the reporter has been here. And perhaps someone else!”

Bryson waited to see what he was talking about before doing anything. And he watched Inspector Bailey touch something, hidden between the side bricks, and push the wall. He then shifted it, showing them that it was a hidden door, made of bricks and cement, with thick metal hinges.

Behind it, a set of steps went upwards, somewhere, and Inspector Bailey crept up them.

Maybe it even led into the killer’s home, or hiding place. By the stones in the walls, he was sure that it was a large ancient structure.

Bryson realized that it would now be very dark outside, and that they would need to go back through the dark wood.

The stairs were perpendicular, while the height that they moved up to grew unrealistic, until his imagination could not stretch that far.

Suddenly, Inspector Bailey became aware of something, and had them climbing back down.

Once he arrived at the bottom, he tried to see the other tunnel, at the side of it.

“Why was that camouflaged to resemble part of the tunnel?” he declared, astonished.

Bryson then recognized the wall next to it, at the front of the stairs, and he shoved it, and walked into the brighter storeroom, at the back of the castle kitchen.

Chapter 49

 

Deadliest Menace

 

Bryson’s dreams had been surreal, and of an incomprehensible nature. Shimmering lights and freakish sounds had whirled about him like an immense vortex.

And he calmly sat upright on the end of the bed!

He noted the air, and that it was cool and calm in the room. But he spotted that there was a blanket of snow falling outside. He remembered being in a huddled posture, with blankets tightly wrapped about him.

An array of silent knocks made the door vibrate. And he stopped breathing slowly.

Bryson sighed, and shifted across the floor, listening for sounds from the outer corridor.

He swiftly unlocked it, and pulled it slightly open.

Merton and Mortimer stood outside, suggesting something was along the corridor. Bryson nodded, and closed the door.

He quickly dressed, but when he opened the door, they were gone. So he shut the door, and went to the room, wondering what they were doing. It had to be significant, as they had been positive about it being a good idea to wake him, in the middle of the night.

Before he arrived at the room, he gasped, hearing the sounds blaring out. It then mildly amused him, as it were as if Merton and Mortimer had two creatures fighting each other in the room. He tried to compare it to his dream, but he could not notice any connection.

The disturbance seemed as if it had different states.

He imagined it as a warp through space and time, causing many different things to occur about the castle, and in his dream he had seen inside the warp itself (and the room lay somewhere beyond it, connected through it to many locations throughout space and time).

But what he could never understand was what the things were doing. Did the things, or whatever they were, become part of the disturbance, while near it, when it automatically opened, at night?

Bryson dragged himself to the doorway, wondering what would happen if the source of the disturbance were closer!

Three scientists rushed passed, and rushed in, carrying cables, leading from all the rooms next to it.

Merton and Mortimer were standing at the hole in the wall, where, to his astonishment, the sounds were mainly emerging, blaring out from the depths of the shaft.

If the sounds had been astonishing before, they now were mind-bending. They came screaming through the shaft with fury. The things now sounded as though they were under the castle, trapped in some form of field.

The scientists rushed about, setting up their new equipment, connecting the equipment from room to room.

“What do think is down there?” Merton carefully asked, giving him the impression that they might be going to do something. And Mortimer then gave him the impression that he had waited all his life to do it!

Bryson started to realize the implications of the find, and that they would have to check what was there.

Bryson quickly asked: “Investigate all these walls?”

“Yes!” Mortimer replied. “We’d all the best equipment that we could get hold of brought in – to examine inside the walls.”

“What did they find out?”

“There are small shafts running through them …”

“Where did they lead? Did these shafts go under the building?”

“They stopped just below ground level!”

“All the shafts are connected together,” Merton continued. “They must run through most of the building. We’re positive that they were for an ancient form of ventilation …”

Bryson did not like Mortimer’s behavior: he had something planned. And he soon saw that he had even underestimated them: as Merton removed a large roll of nylon rope, from an old large nylon bag.

“I’m going down …!” Mortimer then spoke.

“What’s wrong with lowering some equipment?”

Bryson then noticed that the scientists were getting ready to do that later.

“I want to experience and evaluate what’s there first,” he said, putting on a harness.

Surely they had not brought that with them. What had they been going to do with an old rope and harness?

“Why not send down a camera, with a few lights attached? We could easily obtain a good picture, and sounds. And you’ll have evidence of what’s there!”

“After some consideration – over the last hour! – I’ve decided to go down and experience what’s there. It’s something I would very much like to do. And I shall take a camera with me.”

Once Merton had tested that the harness was correctly fitted, he fixed the end of the rope to metal pegs that they had attached to the wall at the window.

Mortimer slowly climbed through the gap, and squeezed into the shaft.

It was no use: Mortimer’s bewildered face disappeared into the blackness.

“Where did you find that …?” Bryson moaned, expecting to hear Mortimer’s screams in the noises.

“It was in a cupboard, in the kitchen. I saw it there when we went through there.”

Bryson tried to recognize any change to the tones, which would indicate Mortimer was influencing anything.

“What was climbing gear doing there?” he moaned aloud, wondering whose it was. It was old!

Bryson then noticed that the rope had stopped moving, and he knew that Mortimer had reached the bottom.

“Perhaps one of the servants left it there.”

“What would one of the servants be doing with mountain climbing gear?”

Bryson felt his tiredness, and wished that he had stayed in bed.

“They could have used it to climb up something else.”

The rope started swaying and vibrating furiously, giving the impression that Mortimer was frantically climbing up it – to escape.

He clearly had not realized how hard it would be to climb out of it.

Bryson and Merton pulled the rope up, while Mortimer used it to move out of it.

Suddenly, Mortimer’s frantic face appeared at the edge, desperate to climb out, almost slipping.

“Get me out of here!” he hollered, making Bryson and Merton go as fast as they could to help him.

Even as he landed on the floor, he was still rushing to remove the harness, shocking them even further – and that they might now be in danger.

But, as he removed it, he rushed away through the door, running towards the other rooms, leaving them waiting for something terrible to appear. But he had not suggested what.

At the edge of the doorway, they watched him running along the corridor.

“Where is he going?” Merton muttered, just staring, bewildered. “This castle is one hell of a crazy place!”

Bryson watched the drifting currents of snowflakes blow by the window.

He really felt like some rest, in bed. It had been a long day, and the next day might be even longer.

What was Mortimer doing? Even though he had done what he himself felt like doing – rushing away, without saying anything (but to go to bed instead).

Why were they not tired like him? What had they been doing at the room anyway?

In the darkness, at the end of the corridor, he saw two figures rushing towards them – resembling a sort of dream view, in his sleepy mental state.

He then saw Mortimer, and that he had dragged Inspector Bailey out of his bed.

Bryson turned to observe the hole in the wall, wondering what he had found. It had to be something real, as he would not have awakened Inspector Bailey. Had Mortimer found another body down there? He gasped, and looked along the corridor.

“Not again!” he moaned.

He could not stand it. And they might have to stay up for a long time, to obtain the conclusion.

Bryson felt so sleepy that when they rushed past, he was hardly aware that they were there.

Then, as they raced away, in the opposite direction, he realized he had better follow.

He was sure that they had not wanted to tell them what it was. But it might have just looked that way.

Bryson shrugged, and then followed Merton, who started chasing after them.

In the sounds, from the room, he heard a rhythmical tapping, increasing in volume, making him slow to listen. Then he realized that it was footsteps rushing towards him.

From the end of the corridor, behind him, two policemen came running along, still fixing gun holsters on their waists.

Bryson then saw that Inspector Bailey now had his gun in his hand, as he arrived at the stairs. He also had a torch, but it was switched off, keeping them in dark.

The situation was worse than he had anticipated. If someone did not die, it would be surprising.

Bryson and Merton rushed towards them, and crept down the stairs, which creaked loudly when they made rapid movements.

At the bottom of the stairs, he watched their figures creep from room to room, looking for something. But there definitely was not anything there.

He finally was able to approach Mortimer.

“Let’s look in the kitchen!” Inspector Bailey warned, and crept through to it.

The policemen went next to him. And one of them switched on the light, and Inspector Bailey rushed into the storeroom, holding out his gun, ready to shoot at anyone who appeared.

Bryson felt awake again, but tired, and avoided staggering.

“I heard someone down here,” Mortimer muttered to Merton, moving away from him.

How had he heard anyone down here? It had been so noisy at the shaft that he would have thought that by the time he had climbed to the surface that he would have needed a hearing aid just to speak.

“There’s a footprint!” one of the policemen announced, standing at the hidden entrance.

Bryson mechanically recognized it, and that it was the killer’s!

Chapter 50

 

Into Oblivion

 

Clouds of gray dust mingled through beams of light, edging into Bryson’s face and lungs.

He groaned to himself, and dangled about on the rope, glimpsing parts of the shaft above, mentally exhausted, wondering if he could wangle his way out of it. But it was not a matter of persuading them, it was really himself.

It might be his final confrontation with the room, which had shrouded his life.

If he had only known all those years ago, as a youth, what he would end up doing, he would have forced himself to forget about the haunted castle. Its sounds were now screaming out at him, out of the darkness, in an abyss below, as if a gateway into hell were there, with him suspended over it on a thin rope, waiting to descend into its hideous reaches.

How had they managed to talk him into this? One minute they had been chasing a murderer, who mysteriously had appeared in the middle of the night, from the tunnel (somewhere close to where Mortimer had descended), and next they had been checking what he had been up to. Then they had listened to Mortimer’s theories about the shaft. He had claimed as he had descended into it, that he had heard the sounds coming loudly from the small vents, and that the louder sounds had gone behind him as he had fallen downwards into it. At the bottom it had been empty, and had resembled the bottom of a well. But as he had been going to climb back up, he had heard the person going through the tunnel, which had been near him.

They were sure that they had scared him away, by going down the stairs, with its loud creaks. The person was either lucky or good. Any other night they would have had the police search the area. The roads had been blocked with thick snow, and the heavy blizzard would have quickly covered any trace of him anyway.

Then, afterward, as they had been resting in the room, discussing it, Mortimer had found another shaft, in the wall at the other side of the room, at precisely the same spot as the other.

It was part of a complex ventilation system.

A few small shafts below went outside. It was all that it needed.

He wondered where the killer had gone. How could he have traveled there with the snow blocking the roads? Could it be that he did not use a car, and was at some distant location, at the fringes of the estate? Could there be another tunnel going there? It would be a good way to sneak about without them catching him.

He surely had not known that they had found the tunnel into the castle.

What had he been trying to do? He had to have a good reason for risking doing what he had done. If he had been going to poison them, he would have tampered with the food. But they had followed his prints into the dining room.

The person had to have been doing something. And why had he been so desperate to do it?

Bryson went down the shaft in stages, edging himself in it.

Why had he not gone to bed when the police had?

Mortimer had believed that the main sounds had been emerging through the small vents from this direction, implying a possible source had been in this wall. And, of course, he had soon located it, and removed a block of stone, to reveal the shaft, hidden there all the time.

He jerked, startled, hearing a sort of scream, as though from a faraway place, on a distant world. He visualized it out in space, in the blackness.

There were traces of rotted vegetation in the air, floating in the light coming from overhead.

Some of the blocks of stone about him resembled the stones in the Egyptian pyramids. They were strange things to use to build, but they were hard to penetrate, and had been needed for a good castle.

He imagined a spectral figure in the thick darkness, which was now swallowing him.

Merton’s face appeared, through the hole above.

Bryson angrily waved his arm about to clear away thick webs, and cleaned green slime from his face.

“Here’s Inspector Bailey’s searchlight!” Mortimer voiced, from behind Merton, with the searchlight that he had finally fetched, as the other had gone dud, due to Mortimer leaving it alight.

Mortimer lowered the light to him on the end of a length of string.

Bryson imagined weird shapes of giant insects darting about him.

Once he had the torch, he illuminated a thin tunnel going down, as if probing something that he should not probe – lighting somewhere that perhaps centuries of people who had stayed in those rooms would have cringed in utter horror near.

It remarkably only resembled a well though, and his eyes strained to see what was at the bottom. But the light and his eyes were not good enough. And he looked until he could maintain it no more and he shut his eyes, and mentally rested.

As he dropped down, the entrance slowly disappeared out of sight.

He then realized that the main sounds emerging were not mainly coming from under him – they were coming from somewhere above – and when he listened more intensely, he heard them mainly coming from somewhere above the entrance. In the loud sound, and confusion, he had not heard it.

He was sure that it was coming from the top floor.

Incredibly, nobody had been near there at night.

Yet they were so muddled and strange, with so many echoes, from the thick stone, he could not properly make out what or exactly where they were coming from.

He released the rope, and landed on the ground.

It resembled a well, under the castle.

A thick layer of dry dirt occasionally gave off a cloud of dust, as he moved his feet.

Mortimer had been correct, about hearing sounds easily from below the castle. The sounds from about the lower castle, from the blizzard, were there, as though magnified.

A silent whistle came from the wind blowing against something.

It would be almost impossible to search the whole castle. There must be many of these shafts through the walls. How could they check them?

Strange objects about his sides, vaguely captured his attention, but they were only building rubbish, which had been discarded from somewhere above.

Yet an object, partly buried in dust, that he had seen, and had ignored, started to interest him, and he crouched at the side of it, to see it better.

And he carefully fitted the light onto an old chunk of wood, behind it, so that the light brightly went over it. Then he cleaned away the dirt, and revealed an old chest.

He grabbed the lid, and unsuccessfully attempted to yank it up from it.

He then rested, while studying it, and prepared himself. And he just took off the harness, and firmly wrapped the object in it.

He energetically climbed up the rope, and he was soon climbing out of it.

He then rested on the bed, breathing heavily.

“It’s mainly coming from above somewhere,” Bryson stated, recalling what he had realized in the shaft.

“What do you mean?” Merton asked, screwing up his face, as though he could not fully believe what he had said, obviously seizing the opportunity to question him – probably detecting that he had found something else.

“Up at the top floor!” Mortimer declared.

“Nobody has been up there at night,” Bryson replied, leaping off the bed.

“What’s on the rope?” Merton asked, tugging at it.

“I found something. Pull it up!”

Merton hoisted the chest up, and he placed it on the floor.

“It’s locked!” he uttered, backing away from it.

“I’ll go and get a hammer and chisel!” Merton declared, and excitedly left.

Bryson felt how solid it really was.

What would a locked chest have in it? He suddenly imagined valuable items there!

If Sir Richard had left it there, there surely would be some signs of it.

Merton quickly arrived with the hammer and chisel.

Mortimer looked surprised, that they were now going to open an old chest.

The chest sat strangely upon the bed. It looked very expensive, and even a shame to ruin. And Bryson was sure that it was even exceedingly rare, and that it could be an expensive antique. However, he could not imagine them spending hours trying to pick its lock, when it might be worth virtually nothing, while its contents might be worth millions.

Merton banged the chisel gently against it, trying to separate the lid, waiting to see if they had any other ideas on how to achieve their goal. Bryson just nodded, in agreement, for him to continue. And he began firmly chipping away at the gap, next to the lock.

It mildly surprised him to see that it did not do much to it. But he continued with more zest.

Merton was almost licking his lips as he tried to open it. Perhaps hoping that it would spring open, and be full of jewels.

The clangs grew loud, and it started to dent it.

“Is that a type of chest used with jewellery, or is it just an old sea chest …?” Mortimer inquired, studying the sides of it, seeing if they had any information.

“It could be,” Merton moaned, partially exhausted, not stopping to study it.

The chisel then entered a gap, and he used it as a lever, forcing it upwards, making it into a bigger gap. And a bolt became visible – locking it – over the keyhole.

It gave out rhythmical clangs, as he bashed the chisel and the chest against the bed, becoming even more desperate to acquire what he wanted.

Finally, the bolt started bending and breaking, and he hit it with a last whack, breaking it. And Mortimer and Bryson stood, to observe it better.

Merton shuddered nervously, and realized something, just before he pushed it open. Then, it opened, and they stood glaring at its contents – which were the remains of a pile of newspapers.

Chapter 51

 

The Old Chest

 

Even though he had been prepared for its contents having little value, it created some anguish, contemplating that it had nothing but newspapers.

In those few seconds that Mortimer had glared down at its contents, looking as if it had been one of the saddest things that he had encountered, Bryson had made the decision that he would do everything that he could possibly do to acquire something of value there.

The next day, they met in the evening, at the library.

“Well, it’s another ‘dead end’!” Merton groaned. “Why did your uncle, or whoever left it, leave it locked, with that junk in it?”

“Perhaps it was the best place to put it!” Mortimer replied.

“It must have had some importance …!” Merton pleaded, putting out his hand, and touching part of a newspaper.

“Let’s take a close look at the ‘junk’!”

Mortimer lifted the chest, and placed it near the end of the table. Then he tipped its contents over the floor, until it was empty.

It seemed just to have newspapers in it. But Bryson gradually recognized the covers of some books. They were in bad condition, but in good condition for the length of time that they had been there.

Bryson grasped a newspaper, noticing that Merton and Mortimer were waiting for him to do so. Then he gently cleaned away its dust and loose bits, and placed it down on the table. He turned pages, and lightly brushed them.

The contents were only the things that he had already seen there, but he wanted to confirm it.

“Do you think that they were your uncle’s?” Mortimer spoke, sitting silently, observing things.

“I don’t know. I cannot tell how old they are, but I’ll check to see what year they have …”

Some of them were really old looking. And he found the tattered remains of the top of one, and glared at its faint print. “They’re from the nineteenth century!”

“So they’re not your uncle’s.”

Bryson picked up another, and flattened it out on the table, in front of him. And he started reading the headline, and he saw that it was a local newspaper, covering that region.

Then he caught sight of something familiar. In a column, at its edge, it mentioned Grovnor, and it gave a vivid description of a death in the district.

And the rest of the newspaper proved to be empty of anything else of interest.

He considered if they were worth anything as collector’s items – rare items! – even though most were in poor condition.

Another newspaper’s unusual looks grabbed his attention. Not because it was a different paper, but it was because it was from a different time. Its date showed that they had printed it fifteen years before the other.

It was apparent that someone had gone to considerable lengths to collect them. He had not realized that they had collected newspapers then. However, were they there because of their value?

He held up the newspaper, and handed it to Mortimer.

“Look! This is around fifteen years older than the other …”

Merton and Mortimer observed the two papers, comparing them.

When he started searching through another, he realized that he had been wrong – they were not collector’s items! – the front page gave a breathtaking account of the police finding the bodies of some women in a wood in Grovnor, claiming that they had died of freight. It was identical to a legend that he had heard about the place. Yet what astonished him the most (with his reactions grabbing Merton and Mortimer’s attention) was that the wood that they had found them in was part of the castle’s grounds.

“What have you found?” Merton grunted, as he tried to grab his attention.

“I’m not sure,” he replied, glaring down at the other newspapers. “These are not collector’s items!”

“What?”

“Someone has kept them because they’ve accounts of deaths in them!”

“Why?”

“They’ve accounts of deaths, in these woods.”

Bryson held out the newspaper, and Merton and Mortimer read it, looking astonished, with glimmers of surprise at what they saw.

He gave more of them to them, and they sat reading the columns.

As Bryson read more, he was astounded to see that there were accounts with mentions of supernatural disturbances, and transcendent monsters. They had descriptions of immortal things that had plagued generations of people!

Bryson then collected the books that were there, before they reached for them, and placed them in a pile.

He stared at the first, wondering what he was looking at, almost preparing himself for what it held. Its cover had too much deterioration to see what it was.

He forced himself to turn the first pages.

“This has to have something to do with the deaths!” Merton uttered, calming himself, reading a newspaper that Bryson had not seen.

“Incredible!” Merton groaned loudly. “Perhaps we should show this to Inspector Bailey …”

He stared at it, looking slightly pale.

Bryson started reading a more detailed account of one of the deaths that he had read in one of the newspapers. It had more accounts, but it only had one that had occurred there.

The other books were about the same as it, with other occurrences that were in the newspapers. They had been chosen from different decades. Some were full of stories of ghost sightings and other paranormal phenomena.

“Wait until you read this stuff!” he declared to them, knowing that the books would make them spellbound. “This is full of supernatural sightings, and with the stories that are in the newspapers. And they’re more full descriptions.”

Merton grabbed the books, trying to read their titles at the same time, almost dropping them.

“Look at this …!” Mortimer gasped, reading an article. “This has an account of the death of a distinguished MP, Lord Lincoln, who had been a friend of Queen Victoria …

“His remains were found, beside his dead horses, and coachman, at the side of a lane over there – after they had taken a short cut through this region, one night. The rest of the carriage was later found smashed to pieces and scattered throughout a wide area of open woodland!”

“There’s something in those woods!” Merton resumed.

“This place was so deadly …” Bryson replied, realizing, by their behavior, that they now believed that something with a lethal nature could exist there.

“We should warn the others …” Merton warned.

“We can show the evidence to Inspector Bailey!”

“Who wants to do that?” Bryson replied.

Merton stood, and went to the door. He looked about the corridor, to see if any of the others had arrived back.

“You’d better tell him only the basic facts!”

Mortimer picked up and held a book as though it were gold, not daring to damage it in any way, reading the information as fast as possible, as if someone might take it away from him. Yet if the police took the books, what would they possibly do with them? They would think that they were mad if they used them for anything. He had heard of the police supposedly using psychics to help them solve crimes, but they would never accept monsters, many centuries old, as the suspects.

Chapter 52

 

Rats in the Attic

 

Inspector Bailey shivered nervously, with his fingers touching his lower lip – until he grew satisfied.

“I’m not so sure that I believe these,” he argued, and marched out of the door.

He hastily left the library to join the others again.

He had checked out the library and was free to go back to the dining room.

Yet he had returned Bryson to reality again, and to face the truth. And that superstitious people could easily have manipulated the stories. The media had always created stories, playing around with normal occurrences. It was their job to do such things. And it sold newspapers!

Mortimer shrugged towards him.

It was too easy to miss things.

There could even be something in one of the other walls, at the bottom of a vent.

He would now help the others more.

There were more of them, and they had now spread out, checking all the right places that they came upon.

“I would like to question some of the locals about those legends,” Merton conferred silently to Mortimer, who was still excitedly reading one of the stories in a book. “If we can find the cause of this …”

“Perhaps that’s a better idea …” Mortimer replied, looking at Bryson. “I believe some of that legend that you told us – Robert told you – about his ancestor having the castle constructed on this site where something massacred them.”

“Whatever it is, it had to have already existed here!” Merton spoke, startled, recalling the story.

“We may not find out what it is though!” Mortimer replied.

“Did you read this?” Merton asked Bryson, pointing to a newspaper. “It’s about some trappers discovering the remains of two German tourists, in a wood over there.”

“What date does it have?”

“That’s strange!”

“What?”

“It happened in the thirties!” he spoke, glaring at it. “That means that it was left by someone who had lived here just before your uncle …”

They returned to the books, hardly noticing anything else, completely absorbed in what they were doing, looking as if they did not know whether to laugh or be astounded at the other accounts that the books claimed had happened at other locations about the country.

They were the kinds of books that Bryson had expected to have pictures of people covered with white sheets superimposed over dark places in, with captions saying that they had been famous photographs of ghosts.

Again he considered if science in the twenty-first century and beyond would ever authenticate anything.

The darkness outside made him wonder why such things took place at night. It made people question the truth of them, as people’s imaginations contrived such things in dark places – where people could not properly see or prove that the things were there.

There had to be a logical reason why the disturbances at the castle took place at night. Perhaps it was more like a strange flaw in the fabric of the space-time continuum.

Was there some other dimension aligned with here?

Had it snared the beasts in the wood, trapping them forever, as entities? And had they gone raving mad, over centuries, dwelling on the world in the absence of light?

Chapter 53

 

The Unknown Motive

 

The lights illuminated the dining room, in the dimness caused by black clouds menacingly covering the sky.

Bryson sipped his coffee, as though he were suffering from the after-effects of a late night drinking session.

The room was almost empty, besides Inspector Bailey – sitting calmly opposite him.

Bryson had deliberately met him (noticing his routine of going there at specific times).

“What do you think that guy was doing in here?” he finally began, noticing that he was going to grow restless, and would surely leave.

“I don’t have the vaguest idea,” he mumbled, looking as though he missed having a newspaper to read.

“I believe that there’s something in this room!”

“What?”

“Why would he have gone to such lengths to enter the castle, and go straight in here?”

“So you have assumptions that it’s the money then?”

“I think that we should at least check it though!”

“If you wish,” he replied, suddenly seeing the opportunity to do something. “And do you think that my officers should help?”

Bryson firmly nodded, acknowledging his reply.

Inspector Bailey wandered out of the room, and he returned with his policemen.

“We’re looking for something that our visitor might have been trying to take, in this room.”

“It’s more than likely hidden or out of view,” Bryson continued, slightly amusing Inspector Bailey.

Even though there was the chance that he had carried out his mission, which could explain why he had left so fast, and might not have even heard them coming down.

The police went to where they had found an impression of the person’s shoe, at the fireplace.

It could not have been very high up as there had been no signs of him tampering with the seats or anything.

The room was empty looking: with large white walls, hardly any new furniture, and decorated mainly with antiques. Most of the small items were on the table, at the center of the room.

Why had he not just left it until they had gone from the castle though?

To his surprise, he watched Inspector Bailey swiftly leave where he had been, to go over to one of his men. The policemen then grouped about them. And Bryson moved there, and he saw an electronic device in his hand, which he had removed from between the brick spaces at the edge of the fireplace. The policeman had shone a pocket torch into it, trying look behind the bricks.

They viewed it without saying anything.

“It’s a microphone,” Inspector Bailey whispered, at his ear. “That guy has planted a bug in here!”

Bryson instantly shut up, feeling fairly astonished that the killer could be out there listening to them.

In fact, it was incredible! He had believed that he might have been watching them, and he had been listening to them.

The policeman, acknowledging something, carefully placed it back into its place of concealment, and they marched out of the door, and then out of the castle.

At the front of the building, he saw that Inspector Bailey now looked different, and he realized that they could finally have something. If they played their cards right, they could perhaps persuade the person to go somewhere, and trap him.

“What if there are more of those things about?”

Inspector Bailey realized the implications of it.

“Where do you think they would be?”

“The places that we occupied the most,” Bryson replied frankly, wishing that they would just solve the crime.

Two policemen left towards a police car, and Bryson left to go to the library, to warn them.

Everywhere that they occupied was a potential zone that could have the devices. But how good was the device? He had never seen it before, or tested what it could do. Yet if that guy had a van packed full of equipment out there, he could even pick up a good signal from the weakest device. Or receiving equipment nearby, where it could receive a powerful signal? Had that been what he had been doing in the wood?

He could recall devices that had been attached to animals – used to track them – and that they used satellite technology. The device could easily send out signals like a mobile phone.

For some reason, he accepted that they could not track the person listening in. Yet he was sure that the technology existed.

Bryson tried to think of the places near him that could have them, as he approached the library.

Merton and Mortimer were waiting for him.

“You took your time,” Merton explained, with a sudden smile.

“We’ve found something. But I cannot discuss it at the moment!”

Merton wondered why, and dropped his book.

“We’ve looked through it enough …” Mortimer assured him.

“We’re going to put the equipment up on the top floor!” Mortimer uttered, standing.

“That’s a good idea,” Bryson replied. “I’ll tell you what we have found, once we’re up there.”

Mortimer thought about it, and dismissed it.

Bryson wondered if there was anything up there, as they left to move the equipment.

Chapter 54

 

The Bugs

 

Bryson had vivid recollections of his original thoughts of the upper floor, as they entered the room. And he had sneaking suspicions that they were going to be returning there at night.

None of them had been anywhere near there at night.

As the scientists started setting up the equipment, he considered the others’ reactions to them going there.

“What were those policemen doing then?” Merton eventually asked.

“What?” Bryson asked.

“They’re searching the rooms!”

“It must remain a secret …!”

“Why?” Mortimer asked, trying to see him.

“They searched the dining room, where that intruder had been last night, and they found a bug hidden next to the fireplace.”

“He bugged the dining room?”

“And they believe that that there could be more of them about the castle.”

“So what are they going to do then?” Merton asked.

“I’m not sure yet. But they may be able to catch him! They left it in the dining room, and they’re searching the castle for more.”

“We’d better watch what we talk about down there!”

Bryson noticed that they were already starting to turn silent.

Mortimer looked about him for something, and remembered something. “That camera is still out there!”

Bryson instantly froze! He had forgotten it.

“That’s right,” Merton answered, seeing his expression, “that intruder came through that tunnel last night.”

“He should show up on it!”

“But he went through there twice. Once to enter, and the second to leave.”

“And it would have filmed the reporter, and anyone that might have passed there.”

Merton and Mortimer rushed about setting up their equipment, at the exact positions that they had carefully thought out, and had done before.

“Let’s go and fetch it then,” Mortimer said, once he had finished something.

“It could snow!”

Chapter 55

 

The Forgotten Camera

 

The police had affected the others with their behavior, and searching all over the castle. Yet Bryson was positive that they did not suspect what they were doing.

Some of them even indicated to him that they had been checked by them, for some reason.

As they were about to leave through the front door, Inspector Bailey approached them.

He realized that they had some equipment brought in to detect the bugging devices better.

Bryson avoided asking any questions about their search, as he could not decide whether he should tell them that he had told Merton and Mortimer.

“Where are you going?” he inquired, searching his face, almost as if he suspected him of something, but was not quite sure what.

“We forgot that we also had a camera out there,” Bryson uttered. “It’s an infrared camera, and it might have captured that guy last night?”

“You had a camera filming something out there?”

Bryson saw an expression of astonishment, hidden beyond his weak smile expression. And he was sure that he now had some sort of plan to capture the person.

“It was filming the vault!”

He had left it there as long as he could, now it was time to check what it had captured.

“I’ll be extremely interested in that film,” he finally muttered, looking at the deep snow with contempt.

“We’ll bring it straight back,” Merton explained, following them to the wood.

“Wait!” he called out. “Take one of my officers with you. It’s too valuable!”

Inspector Bailey glanced at one of his officers, and he joined them.

He obviously was a good runner, and he had chosen him for it. And he was capable of helping them handle any trouble that they might encounter.

There was a chance that the person could do something – if he had heard them leave the castle, and spotted them collecting the camera.

But the detective had a gun, and he persistently showed that he had it, as he followed them into the wood. And they sensed that he was ready for action.

Yet there were no signs of anything about them.

Where was the person? Was he capable of reaching there? The police were covering the roads: he had overheard it, from the detective’s radio, under his outer jacket.

If he did something, and escaped, it would prove that he had a place in the outer radius of the estate.

Yet he could even be staying in a tent, like mountain and Arctic explores did. They only had a few days left, and he only needed to stay there that long.

Bryson realized that they would not have found the body if it had been a day later, as it and the prints would have been buried deep under the snow, and they would still be searching for the reporter.

His skeleton might even have been found years later, partially buried in the ground.

The wood could have many of them, from what those newspapers suggested about those things stalking there, over the centuries.

Once at the structure, Bryson and Mortimer went into it, while Merton remained outside with the detective.

They went down to the tombs. Then they carefully noted that the entrance to the tunnel had dirt over it. The person had covered it over after leaving it!

Bryson then climbed up the tree, and got the camera.

And, as they approached the castle, heavy snow started to fall, covering all their prints.

At the castle, it was almost dark, and the snow was whirling about them. And Inspector Bailey rushed out to meet them.

“Is there anything on it?” he uttered, affected by the wind and spinning snow.

“Let’s check it at our room!” Mortimer replied.

“We’ve not checked there yet, so try to remain as silent as possible.”

“Have you found more of them?” Bryson asked, realizing that Inspector Bailey took it for granted that he had told Merton and Mortimer about the bugs.

“We’ve found a great deal of them – all about the castle! – in places such as the dining room. Someone has gone to a considerable amount of trouble to listen to all of you. That’s not all – that one in the dining room is not working properly, and we believe that the person was either trying to see what was wrong with it or trying to fix it.”

“So what are you doing now?”

“I’m going to keep my men ready, in case he reappears.”

“You may have to do more than that!”

“What like?”

“What about sabotaging a few important bugs, to force him into reappearing?”

“We did that, earlier today!”

He nodded in agreement.

“We may acquire a faint image of him them,” Inspector Bailey muttered, examining the extraordinary look of the camera, Mortimer held.

The four of them rushed through the doorway, back into the now warm castle.

Bryson thought of what he could have overheard, and what had been the most important things that they had said, which they would not want him to hear (but it was almost hopeless, as they had even mentioned the tunnel at some places). And he could only make a guess at what he might know, and hope that they had not wrecked what might be their only opportunity to catch him.

Once in the room, Mortimer removed a laptop from a case, and Merton set it up on the bed. Then he wired the camera to it, and captured what it had collected.

The picture appeared, on the small screen, showing freak gusts of wind vigorously blowing branches about, with large amounts of snow falling from the tree.

Most of the scenes that it had filmed were empty, and usually powerful wind or snow movements, except for good views, after James’s friends had left, of the reporter.

Then a faint view of the back of someone appeared, at night, shifting through the snow, going into the vault, which Mortimer activated the infrared image of, to make clearer.

All of them knew that it was the killer, and, as it went fast forward, they waited in breathtaking silence for him to reappear.

Then his figure, in a blur of dim light, crept back out, like a deformed silhouette of a hunchback.

Chapter 56

 

The Source

 

Sounds from the shaft blared out into the night, as they headed away to the top floor.

They only delayed their progress to glance through the windows in the rooms, at the wildly falling snow.

It now was incredible that they had not recognized it at the start – that the sounds were mainly coming through a system of shafts.

“So,” Bryson muttered nervously, “this is it: we may finally find out what all this is about.”

They increased their progress at the stairs, while occasionally listening for the intruder.

Ghostly cries came from behind them, mingling with the howling winds. Frequent currents of air coming from places where it had penetrated into the castle.

“We may find something,” Mortimer sighed, looking tired.

The top floor was exceedingly dark, but, instead of turning on the lights, Merton and Mortimer illuminated their path with torches.

The sounds were inconceivable, and they could not distinguish where they were coming from, or if they were as loud as below.

There were a few demon-like wails coming from somewhere in its blackness, as they approached the place.

It was astounding how far they had gone.

As they came to where the equipment was, it became obvious that there was something wrong. There definitely was not enough noise.

“It must be coming from below then,” Merton instantly explained, recognizing that they must have made a mistake.

The other scientists went around checking the equipment, to confirm it.

At the door, Bryson rested on a seat, and took a good look at his new surroundings. He could not even recall the room. The others had obviously keenly searched it.

“We don’t understand this …” Merton spoke to him, after he had finished checking the results that the scientists had pointed out, on some of the equipment. “It has to be from below!”

“Perhaps we’re doing this all wrong!” Bryson replied.

Merton and Mortimer stopped what they were doing.

They sat on the bed, and considered the problem.

“We could climb up the vent in the room below?” Mortimer replied.

“But it will be virtually impossible to check it properly!” Merton spoke first.

“Do we have any more metal pegs with the climbing equipment to do it?” Bryson asked, as he stood, and glared at the expensive wallpaper.

“No!”

“Then we’ll just have to put a hole in that wall.”

It was their only option!

“There are some tools still at the entrance to that hidden passage,” Merton announced, standing.

Merton went straight along the corridor to it, and returned with a large hammer, chisel, and crowbar.

“That’s strange,” Merton muttered, as he put them on the bed. “That sheet of wood should have been covering the entrance!”

Bryson wondered how long it would take to enter the shaft.

Merton and Mortimer immediately started work on a stone that they had decided to remove.

It was further down the wall than the stones that they had removed in the other rooms. And it would allow them to obtain a better observation of beneath them, where they suspected it manifested.

Bryson did not know what Merton and Mortimer expected to find any more.

Was it really some sort of warp or something? He had never encountered anything like it, to compare it with.

But he continued searching for the source of the phenomenon, by listening.

The source could well be invisible. But was it possible for anything to fall into it?

He would not know what to do if he found himself in it, or stuck at the other side, where it could trap things for eternity, or to the end of the universe. Even though he did not understand it, the source could be capable of trapping them as entities, as forms of energy.

It could be flaw in reality causing time to pass at an immensely slow rate, suspending whatever fell in it. But why would he hear those things at the same time speed?

What was it doing there, trapped in a shaft in a castle? Had someone hidden it there for some reason? Perhaps it had trapped the relatives and friends of William Randall in it, and he had hidden it there, expecting them to return …

But it should be somewhere near the bottom, so that if it collapsed they would not fall to the ground.

However, it might have moved there – proving that it was capable of escaping from its confines.

Bryson realized how tired he had become, and that his imagination had gone haywire. He sat just listening now, to Mortimer taking his turn at removing the stone, and then he heard it shifting out of the wall. And Merton started to help.

He rested a little longer though.

Merton and Mortimer would be famous if they found anything. They would be the only scientists to come up with hard evidence of anything, as far as he knew.

Bryson recalled his dream, the night before, and the vortex spinning about him.

He considered if he had received a vision of inside it. And if it had been, it would be more complex than he had so far imagined (and it might have connections to all of space and time – with things appearing in it from throughout all of creation).

But, seriously, it might have been hidden away for many reasons.

“It moved!” Merton called out, startling him.

In one glance, he saw him gripping the metal bar, wedged between the stones, and the stone coming out.

Could the source have an intelligence of its own? They might have thought that it had been a type of god.

Bryson watched them force it sideways, and pull it, trying to loosen it, and he attempted to help them.

But as they shoved it, the wall crumbled away, under the intense pressure, and as it fell, two heavy chunks of stone fell away behind the wall – plunging down the shaft.

The noise of them crashing below was tremendous, and everyone in the castle would have heard it.

Merton and Mortimer could only stare at each other, occasionally seeing the dust cloud in the shaft slowly shifting about, as though something might appear out of it, with the fury that they had subjected there.

“We’d better tell the police down there what happened,” Merton announced, moving away from the large hole.

Though Merton and Mortimer left, he was too keen to find out where the sounds were coming from to leave immediately.

The dust soon cleared, and he put his head into the shaft.

He had never realized how hard it was to find the location of some sounds, with an invisible source.

Yet, as he thought about collecting the rope from the room below, he recognized a shape just under him, at a damaged area of the shaft wall, where the boulders had smashed down, and he knew that it was an electrical cable, leading to where the sounds were emerging.

Chapter 57

 

The killer

 

At the secret passage, going down to the kitchen, Bryson heard scrambling movements and panic-stricken voices. The police clearly believed that they were chasing the killer, over to the vault.

He considered shouting that it was a false alarm, but it was too late.

A blue light flashed over the roof, and he went over to the window. It was worse than he had imagined. The police were rushing about outside, and two of them were in one of the cars, contacting the rest of the police force.

He hoped that Merton and Mortimer were moving there fast enough to prevent things escalating any further.

Then he realized that he might be able to arrive there before them, as they had walked down the stairs. So he rushed down the tunnel.

At the bottom, Inspector Bailey was talking to Merton and Mortimer, as Bryson pushed his way into the storeroom.

“They’re chasing him!” Mortimer declared, staring at him, across the dark kitchen storeroom.

“They heard him rush into the tunnel from somewhere,” Merton continued.

“Those boulders crashing down the shaft must have scared him.”

“We think that he went up through that hidden tunnel to the entrance at the top,” Merton announced. “Because they sabotaged two of the microphones on the second floor!”

“That guy was sneaking around up there!” Bryson gasped.

“If he escapes, we may never have a chance to capture him.”

“I’m going after him!” Bryson announced, checking his watch, and noticing that little time had actually passed since the boulders had crashed down the shaft.

He then swiftly led them into the tunnel, going to the vault.

He surely did not have that much of a head start. If they moved fast enough, they might catch him in the wood.

The police in the tunnel might give up. He was sure that they could catch him, especially after he recollected that image of him moving slowly out of the vault! Though none of his face features had been properly visible, he had seen how unfit looking he had been (even though he was thin and light). He also knew that the police would be looking for his car on the roads. Yet he believed that he did not have a car, and that he used a hideout.

It was snowing heavily, and it could cover his trail in the wood. They had to be as fast as they could. This would be their only chance to catch him!

As he heard the police, not far ahead of them, he realized that they had not been through the tunnel before, and they were going slow, trying to see what was ahead.

Bryson regulated his breathing, blowing out steam, into the beam from the torch, and rushed on.

He started to recall where all the obstacles were, as he kept his eyes on everything in front.

He felt surprisingly awake now, with no need to sleep.

If things went well, he intended to increase their pace further.

The police were going slowly, and they allowed them to pass, almost not believing that they could capture him, probably put off by the length of the tunnel. And, as they continued, Bryson saw that they were following them, from just behind Mortimer, at the back.

But Bryson realized that he was now at the front, and that the killer could even be nearby. It was a hideous thought! It could be anyone, and be more different from what he had accepted, from what he had seen on the camera from the vault.

He definitely did not want to confront him in the tunnel, as he would shoot him, and it was better to wait until they were outside. Even in the vault!

His eyes stayed on the most distant part of the tunnel, searching for him, waiting for him to take a shot at them, or to attempt to ambush them.

When he recognized the steps, he sprinted there.

And, as he approached them, he considered all the options open to them. Yet he could easily be waiting for them to climb out of the tunnel.

Bryson rushed up the stairs, and waited for the others to appear, from behind him.

“Well, what will we do now?” Mortimer asked, panting.

“We’d better have the police here, with their guns. We don’t know what this guy could do!”

Once the police moved to his side, he pushed the slab up, expecting a heavy weight to stop him.

Bryson climbed out, almost in complete darkness, without his torch being on, considering everything that he was up against, attempting to observe every place.

He listened, but all that he noticed was the wind blowing the door about up the stairs.

Before he darted out, Mortimer shone his torch about.

“There are his footsteps!” Merton announced, pointing.

The police moved in front, with their guns held out.

By their reactions, he was sure that they did not have a clue what they were dealing with, and that they had not seen the place before. They were in a dark vault, at night, within the grounds of desolate castle, and they were chasing a vicious serial killer.

The police rapidly shifted up the stairs to the door, as they tracked the prints. And they easily traced them out into the dark wood, blanketed in deep snow.

Then they stopped at the door, and Bryson froze, expecting a gun battle to break out.

When it did not, Bryson moved to their side to see what the problem was, expecting to see the person in the thick currents of snow. But instead he saw that the prints vanished, into the blizzard, and heaps of snow, falling from the pine trees.

Yet, at the side of his eyes, he spotted traces of shoe marks, in a sheltered area going along the side of the building. They were facing his direction, and came back to the door – indicating the killer, for some reason, had moved along it, back into the vault, and had perhaps taken his shoes off, to stop him making any further prints. And there was nothing indicating that he had left.

He slowly turned, and faced the blackness at the other end of the upper vault. And the others turned.

Inspector Bailey stood frozen, holding his gun out at a faintly visible black figure with a gun.

Bryson’s heart exploded, beating faster than he could recall it ever beating.

As the seconds, which felt like minutes, passed, he watched the figure almost fall over, barely able to stand. Then finally the figure dropped to the ground, with a thud. And he spotted a trail of blood going over the floor to him.

They strolled there, not shining their torches at the killer – as though not daring to! – approaching in wonder, as though they were going to meet the devil himself.

But, when a torch beam shone there, they were only dumbstruck – at what had happened to the real killer.

And Bryson stared down in horror at Sir Richard, crippled on the ground!

Was he a form of ghost? He had died!

A weak splutter came off him.

“Do you know him?” Inspector Bailey muttered, gritting his teeth, avoiding looking.

“I’m sure …” he muttered back.

And they then waited for him to say something.

“Leave me, for a few minutes!” he finally pleaded, and they moved away, to the other side of the vault, where they stood silently, panting, and resting.

He stared down at her diminishing body, cringing on the ground, holding onto life.

Bryson fell to his knees, at his side, staring in horror at Sir Richard! Was he really a ghost?

“Thomas!” his weak and aged voice spoke.

He pulled out a crumbled bit of paper, and allowed it to fall at his side, unable to move any further.

Bryson instantly picked it up and examined it.

“It’s a copy of the missing page from the diary!”

“It’s more! It’s definite proof of the treasure – which I’ve been searching for: for most of my life.”

“So your money doesn’t exist?”

“That’s it! All of you were to find it. Ever since I inherited this estate, I’ve looked for it.

“When I found that I was dying …!”

“I’ve lived at many places – across the globe … Spending money … They believed I …”

He stared down at his diminishing body, cringing on the ground, holding onto life.

Bryson nodded. “Was that reporter your hit man?”

“I didn’t ask that bloody idiot to do that … Hit man! Those blasted bugs … They were going to ruin it, and so was he …!”

Bryson saw blood pouring from his mouth, and that he was about to die. The pain was fading …

“Why did you fabricate all those supernatural disturbances – with the speakers in the vents, newspapers, and …?”

His gaze went straight to his.

“To cover what we were doing, of course!”

“You accidentally shot yourself!” he stated.

His face went blank, and he fell over dead; and Bryson strolled away.

“Who was that?” a policeman asked.

“It was one of the servants who used to work here – many years ago! I met him when I first visited the castle. He was going to take our money!”

Chapter 58

 

The Hidden Chamber

 

At a top floor window, Bryson observed the last of the police cars rolling away into the trees.

A glance behind him, along the corridor, once again showed him that the workmen had properly removed the lower ceiling, to reveal the original ceiling, made of solid oak beams.

The wires from the lights had rot and webs over them, and had been easily broken, and were in bits on the floor.

The workmen had been from the village, and had been surprisingly keen to work in the old haunted castle.

“So where is it?” Helen asked, arriving at the top of the stairs, in front of the others. “We read the diary!”

Bryson marched along the corridor, and James and Robert followed, occasionally looking into the rooms, which the others had rigorously searched.

“Are you saying that you think that there’s treasure here too?” Sarah asked.

Everyone stopped near him, to listen.

“There’s a page missing from it,” Helen broke in.

“Yes, and I found it,” Bryson forced himself to reply, taking the page out of his pocket. “It was on the bottom of the bookshelf, where it had been …”

Robert took it from him, and spread it out in front of him. And all their eyes seemed to go on it.

“It refers to a clue that her father passed down to her,” Robert muttered. “But it gives the clue that Sir Richard left!”

“I believe that’s because it’s the same money!” Bryson quickly added. “I believe that Sir Richard never had a great deal of money left …”

For a moment, none of them seemed to accept it – not believing such a horrible fact. But their desperation to find something made them continue seeking answers.

“Are you saying that he left us chasing after a ‘fantasy’?” James resumed.

“No! I’m saying that he knew that it existed, and he spent his life trying to find it. And his last wish was just to have it found – to prove he had been right! But he never went through with his whole plan … And he perhaps forgot about that video!”

“So you think that we should start looking for it instead!”

“No! Because I know where it is.”

Bryson opened a long bag, and removed an antique pole, which he had seen James playing with, and which resembled an ancient walking stick.

Bryson recalled that it had been at the fireplace, and that one of the servants might have placed it there, believing that it had been there to prod the fire.

Bryson held it, and considered what to say.

“The clue, given to us by Sir Richard, which the castle’s builder, William Randall, had left, is not actually a clue. It had been a message that William Randall had wanted his associates to give to his son, who had been away abroad. He had made it in case he had died, as he had predicted that it could occur. His enemies, the castle had been supposed to defend him and his family against, had then killed him. And the message had contained where he had hidden his fortune, from his enemies. But his son had died before he had reached the castle, and nobody had understood where the fortune had been, because it had been a message that only his son would have understood.

“But before William had died, he had foreseen more trouble from his enemies, than his earlier predictions, and he had even predicted that his associates might not survive. Thus he had left a second message, where his son surely would have seen it, and where his enemies would not destroy it. He had the message put on his tomb! Thus he had left the message with tomb sculptors to put there.

“They’re not really riddles! They’re hidden messages, giving a location, saying something such as: that he had put it at where their last dwelling or sanctuary would have really been if they had been in the castle, and they had invaded it.”

“So where do you think it is?” James moaned.

“Well, I believe that once the castle had been just about completed, they had believed that they might not have been able to escape by the hidden tunnel – if the castle had come under attack at night, or they had penetrated their defenses – and that they had somewhere else added, where they could have gone.”

Bryson stuck his hand deep in his pocket, and he pulled out the gold key that had been in the gold pendant. Then he carefully fitted the end of the key into a key-shaped hole at the end of the antique pole.

He glanced upwards at the roof, and he inserted the end of the stick into a minute hole in the ceiling, which only resembled the other holes in the wooden beams.

He felt and heard a click of the lock of something.

Suddenly, the corridor roof seemed to come crashing down, to his momentary horror.

Yet, as they shifted away, the thick beams opened at their different positions on the ceiling. And the entrance to a chamber overhead, made to fit into the ceiling, without being visible, opened out.

Everyone watched in wonder, as it opened up like the gates of heaven, sluggishly going to the last stage of its descent, and onto the floor.

It had the workmanship of that era, and he knew that William had designed it, as well as the castle.

Bryson then walked up into it, not knowing what was there.

In its blackness, he saw a winch, which they would have used to hoist the entrance back into place from the interior.

The chamber was not high, to keep it hidden, and he had to walk crouched down.

His torch gave him glimpses of insignificant objects scattered over places.

Robert and James moved to where he was, while the others silently followed.

“When did you realize that this was here?” Robert asked.

“We saw the roof outside,” James continued, “and we never saw anything. It did not look thick enough!”

Bryson removed a bit of paper.

“This is a representation of the castle,” he said, holding out the plan of the castle, which had fallen out of the book in the library. “It has a faint line going under the roof, which none of the other floors have. And I realized that this had to be a scribbled copy of an original map of the castle.

“It was done by the hand that wrote the diary.

“It’s a treasure map! It was her treasure map …

“The thing is: she never did find a way to enter it!”

“How did you learn about the entrance?”

“I predicted that she had never found it because there had been a ceiling covering the wooden beams. The earlier inhabitants had not liked the bare wooden beams! And, of course, there had been another added just after her era, when they had put in the lights.”

It was difficult to see much. There were chimneys passing through to the roof all about it.

“What’s that?” James asked, pointing his torch.

Two shapes started to glow in the light there.

They approached them in stages, examining them at various perspectives.

One of the objects was clearly an immense chest.

“You’ve really found it!” Robert cheered, repeatedly ecstatically clapping Bryson hard on the back.

When Bryson arrived beside it, he saw that the other object was a small stone tomb. And he shoved away the thick slab covering it – revealing a rolled carpet in its interior.

He inquisitively pulled a piece of string from it – shifting tattered remains of cloth. Then he stopped, and left it – when he saw part of a bone.

The chest was massive and glowed under the bright torches!

The others moved in at their sides, glaring at it.

James then pushed the lid away, and a gold radiance exploded out – with sparkles of gigantic diamonds and rubies – gleaming off jewellery packed into its interior.

Chapter 59

 

The Last Witch

 

The thing must have come from beyond the boundaries of space and time, beyond normal reality. They had no way of knowing precisely where or what it was!

Bryson felt edgy just looking at its devilish features, similar to a skeleton of a demon.

He nervously rested at an angle to the decrepit corpse, lying over sheets, partly unwrapped, across the dining room table.

It was so despicable that nobody had objected to its presence there. But, as soon as the celebrating of the discovery of the fortune was over, someone would.

The content of the chest was worth immense millions as normal jewels! And the lawyer had it taken away to a bank.

The lawyer, with some historical experts, had already proven that they had belonged to a Scottish king, and that they were Scottish Crown jewels, and far more valuable than their normal value. There was even a king’s crown buried in them!

They sure had had the last laugh on Sir Richard!

It was late, and they still had not decided what to do with the thing on the table. He wanted to return it to where it had been, and observe it there.

What the hell had William Randall and his other ancestors thought it had been? They must surely have been religious after seeing it! Where had he found it? Had it been anything to do with his enemies, who had killed him? Had they been enemies of Charles I, Charles II, or whoever had been on the throne? How had William acquired such a vast wealth? Why had the treasure not been money?

Merton finally finished setting up their psychic research equipment about it.

Bryson imagined the thing dragging him into the afterlife, with them trying to film it.

“I’ve made sure that nobody will come in,” Mortimer spoke, coming through the doorway.

“Just one point, this could be a dangerous experiment,” Bryson revealed. “Those things in the woods could have killed us!”

“We’re going to go!” Mortimer moaned. “We’ll monitor it on a TV, from these cameras. And, if possible, approach in unhurried stages …”

“As long as we’re leaving before anything happens,” Bryson warned, taking his word for it.

It was as if they did not believe that they would be able to remove it from the castle. Nobody would object!

Yet there was a chance that moving it might alter it.

Moreover, if those things in the wood went with it, they could have monsters rampaging through London.

Bryson started to realize that it would somehow have to stay. It was a shame! They could have showed it to the world. But they could record everything for science, and if anything else ever turned up, the people of the future would have a better understanding of it.

They must find a way to destroy it!

Perhaps, if they couldn’t, they could drop it into the deepest depths of the sea. But he could imagine people seeing strange lights out at sea, and monsters attacking ships. The disturbances had a definite attraction to people. Perhaps it would create another Bermuda triangle, with those things smashing massive holes in ships.

They could build a small rocket, and send its ashes into space. But if that did not work properly, and it ended up in orbit, they could have haunted spaceships, space monsters attacking spaceships, and sightings of strange white lights.

Mortimer started unwrapping bits of material from it, making sure that he did not damage it.

The skeleton was entirely different – like a strange version of a human – like another species of human.

“What’s that?” Merton responded, jerking back, shifting onto his feet.

“It’s some sort of book.”

Bryson saw something similar to a book, made of some type of animal skin, in its claws. Merton pulled it away from it, as if it were welded to it.

Bryson saw James and Robert emerge, at the doorway, as if they had been listening to them, near the door.

“What are you going to do with this place then?” Bryson asked, wondering what Robert had in mind.

“I’m going to do it up and look after it, as Sir Richard wished. And I’m going to make it – as a historical place. It’s famous! It’s now been in most of the newspapers, and television …”

Bryson realized that there could be many more deaths, if they did not rid the woods of those things.

“This is full of symbols and strange words!” Merton remarked, holding the book out for them to see.

“That may be her spell book!” Robert forced himself to confess.

“What?” Bryson instantly asked, looking alert.

“I told you that I knew a few legends …”

“What legend …?”

“Well, that legend that I told about them having built the castle on the site where something had killed those people was only one legend about it. There was another about a witch or something that had been living out here in a cottage. And they had hanged the witch! But the witch had placed a curse on them and this place before they had!”

“There has to be some truth in it,” Merton replied, vaguely disappointed. “There’s some truth in most legends!”

Bryson held back a smile, and returned to looking at the book that Mortimer was now grasping in his hands.

“I understand this ancient writing,” Mortimer uttered. “This stuff was used with witchcraft!”

He looked at Robert’s startled expression.

“What does it say?” Bryson asked.

James and Robert sat next to him, fascinated in it – probably thinking of the money that it might make.

“This book was thought to be the spell book of the witch that you mentioned, and someone – I believe to be William Randall! – has written things through it, giving details about things.

“They found this book after they’d killed it – the witch or creature. This thing on the table!”

Mortimer held up the book, and turned it, to show them a drawing of a being that looked like a woman and a creature, with a long sheet of material wrapped about it.

“He believed that she had transported herself to this world, from beyond the grave, with some type of magic or magical object. She spoke in a strange language, but she told them of being one of the last witches, with the power to enter this existence.”

As he stopped speaking, silent sounds manifested about the room – as though invisible creatures were surrounding them.

Strange, glowing and swirling, forces, forming a large bubble, went about them. And telepathic figures, like spirits with shrouds, flew about it, wailing and screaming.

Bryson felt himself falling over, staggered, and partly in a dream state, similar to the ones that he had been in when he had been asleep. Then, as it increased, he believed that he was holding onto reality, and that he would not be able to keep his sanity.

All about him, the others went into dream states.

James fell on the floor, as though taking a fit.

Bryson lunged at Mortimer’s shoulders, pulled him to the door, and he forced him to rush away with him, until they were away from it.

Mortimer glared at his watch. “We must help them!”

“It’s too powerful!”

“We’ll have to find a way.”

“You must tell me all you know about that thing.”

“I don’t believe that it is her. She brought something here that I believe that she had used to travel here. However, William Randall could not break its curse. He tried to use her spell book and spells to do it. But nobody could read it properly, or they believed that they were in riddles to stop anyone else using it.

Mortimer glared, and he read parts of the book fast, in more detail.

“A crystal created the magic! And William Randall intended to find the spell to neutralize it.”

“That’s the spell there!” Mortimer stated, holding out the book, showing it to him.

“Can you decipher it?”

“I don’t know! But where’s the crystal?”

“It has to be with the being.”

Bryson realized where it was! He had seen it on the drawing of the creature in the book. It was in a pendant.

They rushed straight to the dining room, and to it.

He ripped the last of the material off the skeleton, plunged his hand in its chest, and onto the pendant.

“This is it!” Bryson screamed, holding out the pendant, watching strange energy surges make his arm muscles wildly shudder and vibrate.

The green crystal embedded in the pendant was pulsating, beaming out blinding beams of green light.

Mortimer grabbed the pendant, and held it out.

“I know why the spell never worked!” he shouted. “It was not a spell! It was an order to destroy it, if she had to. If she was captured by humans! It was a riddle, to hide it from anything that was not an alien transcendent!”

Mortimer smashed the pendant hard against the table, shattering the crystal into millions of particles, instantly making the disturbances vanish forever.

 

Epilogue

 

The Transcendents

 

Once transcendent entities had existed throughout the universe and beyond, with magical forces.

Their wars and elaborate usages of their powers had in the end caused it to be annihilated, and the last had possessed so little that they could barely dwell in the universe, from beyond.

Objects, with accumulations of it, had allowed the last to dwell in desolate regions of the universe.

The powers of the last one had been told of in legends!

Fishermen had stumbled upon the magical being, floating in the sea, washed ashore, on the shore of a Scottish island.

It had been about to expire, but had somehow survived.

It had stayed, its last days, in the desolate Grovnor wood, as a witch, in a cottage, hiding to conceal itself, and magical crystal.

It had foreseen the future, and had found how to accumulate its powers from anything that had had it. And, when it had expired, it had left the most powerful magical object left – with powers going beyond anything else – with power surge sequences that opened gateways, going beyond the universe.

Part II

 

Novel 2

 

The Lost Treasure Map 2

 

V Bertolaccini

Prologue

 

The Lost Treasure and Voyager

 

For centuries legends of lost treasure had been passed on through generations of people, though few details existed, and the occurrences behind them had been too confused and vague. Fundamental facts had been clearly missing that would have allowed people to locate anything thought by them to exist, and nothing had clearly been known to answer the queries of the treasure hunters, who had risked their lives in deadly attempts to explore the castle.

The origins of the castle’s hauntings, from the majority of accumulated sources, had been proven to have occurred around 1620 when fishermen had witnessed the materialization of something of unknown origins, with a bright light of magnitude that had exploded out of the morning mist.

Accounts of it reshaping and continually altering proved that it had altered from something else to something.

According to legends all the people at the castle had been found dead after it had been brought there – with its deadly powers going beyond this universe, opening gateways going beyond space and time – and that valuable treasure had been left near where it had been concealed.

For centuries the lost treasure had been thought to exist there by the few explorers, who had carried out investigations and searches for it, of which many had paid by losing their lives by being in the confines of the castle at the wrong time or place.

The place must have been one of the most dangerous places in the world! People could not survive permanently living in its confines! Even though at times its powers dwindled and some people had managed to survive and escape after living for months there, and had given horrific accounts of the mind-bending wonders and deadliest menaces that they had been subjected to.

At one point, in 1880, to which nobody knows why, its existence had become entirely dormant and a wealthy businessman had found the castle by accident while visiting the region and had bought it from the owners of the land.

He had recognized its value, historical importance, colossal architecture and dimensions, and had seen that it was worthless in the desolate wood, in the middle of nowhere, and had it removed in large sections and shipped across the Atlantic, where he had intended to reconstruct it near New York.

What occurred next was never revealed, and there occurred an extensive amount of lost information, and all that was known was that the owner had died in mysterious circumstances and that the castle had ended up at a different and secret location in the depths of an immense desolate wood, hidden away from anyone locating it, with what was there activated again.

 

 

 

 

II

 

The Lost Voyager

 

For billions of years the transcendent voyager had existed never wholly knowing what had created it or where it had originated, carrying out its mission of searching through time and space in its universe for abnormalities, unknown civilizations and species, and transcendent entities with colossal powers and capabilities and to destroy them if they were dangerous to reality and what its programming considered dangerous.

It had been designed and given technology beyond anything else that it had encountered and had the abilities to search its universe in a degree and with abilities that would not have been believed to exist by the most advanced transcendences and civilizations, and would have been thought of as magical powers, and it had the ability to search its universe throughout time.

Its form had been an invisible complex mass of energy, stored in many dimensions, that had been built to last forever, and it directly entered stars to energize itself and store its vast powers for extensive amounts of time.

Its stores of information had been vast and it had the ability to collect as much information on what it had been programmed for eternally and improve its defenses and other abilities, and it had become the ultimate weapon of destruction against the destruction of its universe.

It had stored the technology and abilities of zillions of species and had the ability to recognize and handle what it had been searching for within a range of its universe.

At one point it had unintentionally left the universe and had entered an outer universe that it had not known the existence of, where colossal amounts of universes had existed, and on its entrance there its programming had accepted it as the real universe and that it had to accept it as the universe that it had to carry out its mission in.

At first it had been unable to enter the universes and properly detect anything in them and it used all its information and studied how it had entered the outer universe and found a way to enter them and locate particular things in them, but infinite amounts of things of unknown origins existed in them.

In supernatural universes it had learned to open and use gateways that shifted it accurately to destinations. It discovered far more than it had ever realized could exist and it gave itself colossal magical abilities and energies and it had analyzed everything in a greater degree.

On its first entrances to this universe and world it had been left staggered when it had encountered something of unknown origins that had drained its energy from it!

Even though it had not done much in its damaged condition, with most of its vast abilities virtually unusable and it being trapped and buried away in the castle, it had been able to explore things through supernatural gateways into universes, going out into the strangest places, and it had even considered if there had been others such as it in the endless universes and if they had created it, and if it could get them to help it, and it had gained abilities to explore inconceivable dimensions and powers in the universes, far beyond its original knowledge and powers.

 

 

 

 

I

 

The Lost Treasure

 

 

Chapter 1

 

The Deadliest Treasure

 

The sounds had initially been astonishing! Now they had gone beyond, and were mind-bending! They came screaming up through the shaft with a dangerous fury that stunned Pendleton, and no matter how he tried to shake it off and contemplate identities his thoughts never altered or formed stable recognitions.

Clouds of powdered dirt and stone swirled about through beams of lights from the above lights as he released some more rope, edging him downwards, seeking to get hold of the treasure.

The Second World War was still going, but just about over, and Pendleton realized that he had avoided being killed after all, and wondered if he was going to be killed here instead, and was unsure what was worse.

He groaned and dangled about on his rope, and grabbed hold of part of a castle boulder, while glimpsing parts of the shaft above, wondering if he could have wangled his way out of it. But it was not really them and he really wanted to do it, and he wanted to explore the castle shaft. He had always wanted to explore and discover something new of value and greatness, and perhaps even be remembered in history.

What interested and terrified them was why the treasure was hidden in such a place with such occurrences!

What was it they were dealing with anyway? Why was it there in such a far out place? Was the stuff protected by something?

Something of unfathomable unidentifiable supernatural nature sounded as though it were under the castle, in some form of magnetic field or energy field, trapped or trying to free itself from something, ultimately escaping to another location of liberty, and he tried imagining some form of spirit trapped there every night for hundreds of years, perhaps in an ancient dungeon. Yet again even that could not explain it, or anything!

“Have you found if it’s down there?” Henrik shouted down, in a combination of extreme annoyance and confusion, with a way that gave Pendleton the impression that the two archaeologists up above might be on the edge of considering doing something extreme, and beyond their normal. Though Norgrove, the other archaeologist, gave him the impression that he had waited all his life to be here!

He again started to realize the implications of the find and that they would have to check what was there, no matter what.

He quickly shouted up: “You investigated all these walls?”

“Yes!” Norgrove replied. “We used all the best equipment.”

“We’re the only ones here and that know about it?” he replied, still trying to find out more about what was happening, and they were allowing him to know. Basically it was just them three there at the great old immense haunted castle, buried away in the wood, at the location that they had traced the treasure to.

Yet they could have left the task until the morning but they could not wait. They had waited too long and had gone too far to get their hands on it, and he just wanted to get it.

What the hell difference did it make if it was morning or night? It was dark there in the tunnel at both times!

He wondered why the lights were above, and why he never had one, and shouted up, “Are you two coming down here or what?”

The two archeologists shifted into the shaft and made their way down, with the lights, and he observed them, and realized why they had not given him a light, and that he was like a worm on a fishing line, and there to check what the score was. The two also had trouble climbing in and down, and were overweight and bulky, and he was better at climbing than they were. They would have a hard time getting back up again! And he even wondered if they would camp the night at the bottom or something, if they were too tired and sleepy, which made him gasp again when he thought about it, and he lodged his boot into a gap between two of the boulders, to rest his tired body.

“What did they find out?” he muttered, mainly to himself, and wondered what he was missing again.

“There are other small shafts running through here …” Henrik called down, dangling overhead, who had stopped to examine a small hole in the shaft, he had missed in the darkness there.

“Ventilation shafts that connect together,” Norgrove continued. “They must run through most of the building.”

“I agree! I’m sure they are for an ancient ventilation …” Henrik continued, sticking his head up close, and shining his light in the hole and looking along it.

“What else could it be?” Pendleton asked.

“They could have been used to build it …” Henrik replied, moving away, looking for something else.

Pendleton wondered how high up they were, as the height of the castle was immense, and they had been on the top floor, and they never knew how far underground it went, and the blackness there looked like an abyss.

The height of the castle was incredible, as well as the length being massive with rooms and corridors going out everywhere, especially with there being no proper lighting, and he had not thought such a construction was possible at the date that they had given. It was also unbelievable that somebody had managed to ship the thing over to America, and when it must have happened, in such large sections and fit them together.

How could people spend so much on such things and leave them derelict, out in such desolate woods? Why had it not even been put out in the open for everyone to see?

Pendleton gasped as he recalled the legends and what had already happened, and wondered if this would be his death, in a death or glory situation.

For a moment he wondered if it had actually come from Transylvania and had vampires, and realized that if it were at least he would be still around as a vampire. At times he had thought it had similarities to castles over there.

“So are we going down …?” Henrik asked firmly, watching Pendleton’s peculiar expressions in his light, from overhead.

“You could send down a camera with a light attached?” Norgrove moaned sarcastically, and Pendleton started to move off from the wall where he was resting against, and prepared himself, and took glances at what was below as he started going down, but even with the lights being closer it never revealed anything new.

The rope suddenly started swaying and vibrating furiously, giving the impression that Henrik was frantically doing something against Pendleton’s rope, and he glanced up and realized Henrik was climbing up for some reason, and he gasped when he realized Norgrove’s face was frantic and that the two were actually desperately trying to escape from there, almost slipping trying to climb up, which amused him for a moment, bewildered at their sudden change of attitude.

As he tried to see what was going on he noticed that light across his front was not coming downwards from them but shining upwards from something below, and his eyes fixed onto a strange orb of light floating upwards.

“Get me out of here!” Henrik hollered, making Pendleton shudder and try to escape for his life.

Pendleton even thought of removing his harness and plunging down, and perhaps allowing him to have the fate of dying on the ground below, and having a normal human death.

With a loud thud Norgrove came crashing down to his original position after slipping, and clouds of gray dust flew up and blinded Pendleton as it went into his face and lungs, and he went crashing into the wall.

He groaned and dangled about on the rope, glimpsing parts of the shaft around him, mentally exhausted, needing sleep, allowing himself just to go into sleep state, wondering if he could somehow wangle his way out of it. But it was not a matter of persuading himself of anything, it was really happening, and he wished what was going to happen would just happen.

If he had only known all those years ago what would end up happing, he would have forced himself to forget about such ventures.

Sounds were now screaming out at him and he realized how loud they had become, from the abyss below, as if a gateway into hell were there, with him suspended over it on a thin rope, spinning endlessly, waiting to descend into its hideous reaches.

How had they managed to talk him into this? One minute they had been chasing treasure and the next a castle mysteriously appears into it, and he had been dumped with their theories, and then with the shaft.

He jerked, startled, hearing a sort of scream, almost human but somehow different, as though out of a distant strange place, and he visualized it out in space, in blackness.

There were traces of rotted vegetation floating in the light coming down from overhead, as they still continued to climb out.

Some of the blocks of stone about him resembled the stones in Egyptian pyramids. They were strange things to use to build, but they were hard to penetrate, and needed in a good castle.

He realized sounds were now not emerging from under him but coming were from somewhere above, and then they started emerging about him and he listened intensely with confusion.

Sounds manifested everywhere as though invisible creatures were surrounding them, and strange glowing and swirling forces formed and went about them and telepathic figures like spirits with shrouds swirled about it, wailing and screaming, and he partially entered a dream state, and as it increased he believed he was holding onto reality.

A bright explosion of colors exploded out making him come to, and realized the thing below him had reached him and he opened his eyes wide and examined his surroundings and saw that he was no longer in the shaft, and dazed and confusedly he examined his surroundings and an immense whirlpool of shifting outlines magically shifted by, and he studied everything and realized that he had no body or proper presence and was some form of energy formation shifting around with other similar formations, and that he was swirling out into a vortex of reshaping energy patterns that replaced reality, with transforming elements altering to something that he could not recognize.

If he had died and gone into the afterlife why was it so strange? Why it was there mesmerized him! Was he classified as being anything? Where was it? Reality was no more than magically spinning patterns and he wondered how worse the situation could get, realizing that he could be trapped there for all eternity!

 

Chapter 2

 

The Lost Castle

 

The whole story was incredible now and Bryson could hardly believe anything, and what had occurred. The events of the past weeks were astounding and he could hardly believe that they were on the trail of another treasure quest.

The last shreds of sunlight had vanished beneath the wood behind them, and well below the horizon, with the deep black winter night there engulfing them, and Bryson studied his surroundings over and over trying to explain why the wood so closely resembled the wood surrounding Grovnor Castle.

The wood looked almost the same in places, and he considered their search for the castle in what must be one of the most desolate regions of the US. They had not seen anyone for many miles, and planes even seemed to avoid flying there.

The fifteen members of the team (including him, and Merton and Mortimer), had been put together by him and Mortimer, and were mainly made up of archaeologists, scientists, ex-military, and explorers, who had experience in searching, examining, documenting, and detecting what they might miss, or there to help or defend them.

The adventure brought him back to life after a long length of inactivity and lack of anything of interest. At times he still could not believe that there was another castle, and that anything existed there! And that there had actually been a similar castle near Grovnor Castle at one time!

The last castle exploration, after all the findings and evidence they had collected, in the end seemed to add up to little, and he still now occasionally thought they had found something else.

It was winter and deep snow shrouded the jungle of vegetation around them, and he realized again that they would have to camp there. And having not slept outdoors in winter he gasped at sleeping in such thick cold snow, and considered if they would find his remains there one day, and wonder why they had done it.

The snow landscape was untouched by human hands, and at times empty of sound, and had a deep silence that he had only heard in thick winter snow landscapes. It reminded him of another world! An empty wood absence of life with faint mist surrounding regions around them.

What was shocking was how easily they could get lost, and he was unsure if they even knew accurately where they were. They knew where they had come from and what they would eventually arrive at after days of falling a compass, but not what was there about them. They had been unable to get a helicopter to search, but if they had waited and went far enough he was sure they could.

There was nothing to recognize anywhere, and he watched some of the men attempt to use communications devices to give updates on what was happening without picking up anything.

They were all getting too exhausted wading through the deep snow areas to do and recognize anything significant, and the first peculiarity he noticed was a distant hum, similar to a distant engine whirling, out at an unknown place, which shadowed them, and drove him insane trying to identify it.

Their legs almost became stuck in deep bogs of stinking vegetation buried below the snow, which resembled quicksand as it grew in depth, and they were hidden, even under intense lights, and Bryson started to wonder if they could even find somewhere that they could actually camp over. There was a definite look of a swamp emerging around them!

A cold haze edged its way over the trees and undergrowth and they started slowing, and allowing themselves to rest. It was nothing like anything that he had seen elsewhere.

He could not get if it was a strange environment about him, something strange existing there, or a combination of things that created different reactions.

Strange vapor clouds shifted about their sides, always shadowing them, at about the distance – as if they were probing them, and analyzing them for some purpose.

Nobody said anything about it but most looked like they were wondering if any of it had intelligence, and sometimes pondered vaguely watching it linger over deep pools of slime in the mind-bending landscape.

When more confident it existed Bryson watched it to find out what form of life it could be. What did it use to exist? What was it doing?

He wished he could get some samples from it, but decided to wait or leave it, and they would check if it was dangerous.

Gusts of freezing wind blew and withdrew simultaneously in opposite directions, blowing and sucking, giving him the feeling that something invisible nearby was breathing over them, something of supernatural or alien nature, like a hungry beast breathing over its prey, perhaps with saliva dripping from its mouth, or something was there and the environment was reacting to its presence and its paranormal powers.

Though the tiredness and lengthy day were affecting him and most of the others, Merton and Mortimer, the two paranormal scientists loved it, he was sure, and seemed to come to life more, as they always did in such situations, and at night.

They had become famous celebrities and the media had given them coverage for weeks at one point, and their technology had vastly improved, and if they found anything they would bring in all their new equipment to investigate everything that they could.

Since their investigations of Grovnor Castle and all the proven details had been released, what everyone had experienced there, people’s thoughts on it had seemed to alter more and more in the direction of there not being anything there, and there being no evidence of anything, and he had seen the problem again and again that people were not going to believe anything unless they were confronted with it, and that the two scientists had work to do.

He never got why they had not become conventional scientists like him! Surely they were good enough to become immensely wealthy and could lead the way in some other field?

Many of scientists were working on what it had been at one point, and again they all returned to their original thoughts.

Even though he also wished to investigate everything there, as they were sure to experience something, going by all the facts given. Yet he was starting to remember all the dangers and last encounters that had occurred.

The two paranormal scientists had tried informing others, not with them now, of their investigations of paranormal disturbances that could be there, and had soon withheld their research from them when they had found out that they did not accept anything of that nature, without total positive proof, and they avoided giving any details of anything of that nature, especially to the people there that had been in the military, including Mitchell, the head of them, who were there to help them and with any dangers and to investigate further.

They had given Mitchell some of their findings and thoughts of paranormal activity and strange occurrences occurring there, and he had given them his thoughts about it and that he was not fully sure what to make of it as they had not proven anything.

On the day before they had arrived there Mitchell had been amazed at the findings of the scientists when they had given him more, as they had believed that they should, as that they believed they would encounter more.

Nobody, not even the two paranormal scientists, knew what was there, and they withdrew saying anything.

Mitchell had wished to join the two paranormal scientists, as he had wished to investigate things further, and if they had found something, and he mostly wanted to find the treasure and anything else buried away there,

As they journeyed on Bryson watched the gray mist thicken, and it start to surround them, and snow and swamp pools increase.

As they marched on behind Mitchell they almost walked into the mist, while ignoring it, and more and more of them started getting nervous and begin complaining to Mitchell, who ignored it at first, with being so determined to achieve something. They knew the vague region of where the castle was supposed to be, as they had checked some of the region it could only be in.

Bryson’s legs became stuck in deep bogs of freezing water and he knew that they would have to do something soon, and watched the others and noticed that they were mainly holding back complaining.

It was then when they slowed that he properly looked about, and realized that the fog formed a perfect circle right around them, at the same distance all the way round, and was intensifying, and he wondered what they were trapped in.

“Where are we going …?” one of Mitchell’s men finally spluttered, fighting for air, furious that he had been put in a situation.

Mitchell stopped and showed how annoyed he was at the way things were going, and walked back towards them.

“We better agree to something …” he moaned, giving glances about at things and the mess of his expedition.

“Where can we go?” Merton continued, wondering what they’d do next. Barely able to realize what the outcome of such a situation could be.

Mitchell removed his phone and tapped it repeatedly against his large jaw, as he now had a habit of doing when in deep thought, considering trying to use it again to get help, which he really knew would not work, and which had been his main answer to such situations before they had lost using the communications.

It was then as they all waited for the outcome and his solution that one of his men shrieked out from behind them, and they turned slowly to see what was there.

The man had removed his gun and he swiftly fired it at something hidden in the trees, like an ancient gunfighter, and it swiftly smashed into a tree, with the loud explosion temporarily deafening them and sending piled up snow falling from the trees all around them.

All of Mitchell’s men removed their weapons and stood in a circle covering every area around them.

“What’s there?” Mitchell asked, vaguely confused, not seeing anything but the surrounding mist getting in the way.

“You never saw that thing …” the man that fired the shot moaned, slightly satisfied by his dramatic display and the deadliness of his weapon.

Everyone stood confused, especially by what he meant by thing!

Then, out of nowhere, a light emerged out of the mist, and Bryson stood considering if it was what he had seen at the last castle or if it was something new.

Its radiance pulsated like a mechanical life form, magically illuminating the snow and trees, stretching shadows from everything everywhere.

While they silently observed it loud pounds of something of immense weight rushed around, causing them to scurry away from the location.

 

Chapter 3

 

The Things in the Wood

 

They furiously shifted through the swamp, shifting over to hard ground, and to safety.

“You never saw that thing did any of you?” Mitchell moaned, dissatisfied by their actions and retreat.

Could their weapons have killed it? Was it something new? What could possibly avoid the deadliness of their weapons?

Then, out of nowhere, more lights emerged through the undergrowth with their radiance pulsating like living things, magically illuminating everything far more brightly, blinding their eyes with beams, lighting the snow and trees everywhere and fully showing them their surroundings and all its detail.

Bryson was fascinated by it and everything, and was surprised what the place really looked like. He had thought the other castle could not be worse! And he watched Mitchell and his men remove their weapons, and fired them into a region near the main light, where he had not properly observed, and heavy snow, from the powerful explosions, fell from just about every tree about them.

While they silently observed it deep pounds and creature sounds of things with immense weight rushed around, out of view, unaffected like any normal life forms by the explosions and guns – and made their way towards them – causing them to scurry away.

They furiously moved their legs in and out of bogs, shifting away to another region, with Mitchell and his men in confusion unable fully discover all the results of their actions were and what they were up against – but they had failed and they really knew it!

They ran almost blindly over humps and rough ground, rushing through thick trees and snow, while heavy beast sounds furiously chased, smashing trees down in way, like something out of a strange nightmare.

They were breathless and they could not move fast enough, and a thing was closing in on them.

Suddenly one of the scientists shouted, “Look out there!”

“There’s something!” Mitchell confirmed first. “Quick over there! There’s something there for us …”

Over to their side there was a hill the height of the trees, with its length going far away into the distance, with a cliff front facing them, almost the only place there without any snow over it.

The lights radiated its rock through the wood and they forced their legs to go faster to it. The appearance in the hideous place, out of the night, amidst the jungle of vegetation, was staggering! They just knew it had to be a place of sanctuary!

It was heaven within a phantom zone, out on the edge of realism, beyond the bounds of what lay beyond, and they were rushing away from the depths of hell, trying to return to reality.

For a long time as Bryson rushed along with the others he watched wondering why he and the others were so sure it was an escape from anything! Why was it? What was there? Was it just a hill and cliff? Could these things not climb or something?

Quick glances he gave behind him at the lights surprised him further! The place looked static, with it supernaturally glowing, and as if he were staring at a mind-bending animation, and he thought it was his exhaustion and breathing heavily affecting him.

Branches broke to pieces as they ran through them, as if dead for centuries, and some trees looked as if they were ready to fall into dust and that forces of something supernatural were keeping them in existence.

Behind them shifting lights were darting about through the wood like sparks, and he saw ghost images of creatures shifting about doing hideous things.

Yet all his looks showed him nothing of the heavy sounding beast things, he still occasionally heard rampaging towards them.

The minds of many of the others clearly were conjuring up hidden demons – as they rushed on an on – as they approached the hill – and they looked for ways to avoid them.

They rushed over an area of flat hard ground, clearly made of rock, and staggered up to the hill, where Mitchell moved over to an area next to the cliff, where they could climb up the easiest.

A deep thud like an explosion made the ground around them shudder like an earthquake and they all looked for what it was, but saw nothing except that they had gained some ground, but it was still approaching.

“Over there!” one of Mitchell’s men shouted, pointing. “There’s a cave!”

 

Chapter 4

 

The Cave

 

White radiance streaked in the cave as the last members of the team shifted in, and Bryson saw the lights and things outside shifted away, and he sat wondering why. Even though they had gotten in out of view, through a small gap in the cliff, which led into a long tunnel cave.

They all rested about, ignoring what was outside, and sheltered there and settled down, and Bryson searched around for a proper view of his surroundings. His dreamy sight probed into the tunnel, and into an abyss going deep into the cliff, out of reach of their light beams, where silky dust blew and settled, from the ground as they had rushed in, and some was in his lungs, causing him to convulse, but as he searched about, he covered his mouth with a piece of clothing, allowing him to inhale.

Faint echoes of all their breathing and talking could be heard in an extraordinary silence deeper in, with occasional deep gasps for air from many of the others, and Bryson wondered where the tunnel led to.

“You never saw that thing kill did you?” Mitchell moaned, dissatisfied by the results of the dramatic display and the deadliness of their weapons not having any influence, reminding them of the problems of not having any weapons.

None of the men replied and ignored everything, giving slight occasional glances at the entrance for anything.

Mitchell seemed to recall some of his old training and pointed at the weapons without saying anything, and ordered them to keep them loaded anyway and he had them remove them and practice firing.

“This is one for the books!” he moaned, staggered. “A scenario where weapons have no use … I never thought I’d witness it …”

“Something should affect them!” Mortimer replied for the scientists.

“Thanks! If you could come up with it, I’d like to know it!”

Glimpses of darkened figures of scientists and archaeologists moving deeper into the cave made Bryson stand up, from where he had rested, and he vigorously checked through debris about him, realizing something, and that the cave was a straight line going inwards, and he considered why.

Thick chemical smells from outside blew in, from gusts of wind, from the concentrated swamp pools pouring out gases through the freezing air giving it a sulfur stench, which some of them gave occasional coughs to, when it hit deep in their lungs.

By their anxious reactions he sensed that they believed that something was actually deep in the cave. Although the descriptions that some of the archaeologists gave still made it too unacceptable to him to believe fully what they had suggested, and that the cave could lead somewhere. Yet it would be better for them to go as far into it as they could as if they things returned they stood a better chance away inside, and them not being there if they just looked into the gap in the cliff – and he was sure their voices could be heard outside and they were progressively growing louder, and Mitchell’s men could talk really loud.

What was here? Everything was a mystery all around them! The castle if it existed was specified in vivid detail as something like a specified location of the resting place of something. His mind conjured up vague visions of spooky medieval things roaming ancient dungeons. Yet again it was far too vague and he could not remember anything like it remotely turning true for some reason!

When the scientists and archaeologists that had been deeper into the cave returned, they all started discussing going deeper inwards and everyone seemed to go along with it, especially as they kept suggesting it was warmer and out of the range of the cold wind blowing inwards.

Bryson joined some of the men at the entrance studying the fog clouds over at the swamp areas, seeing what it did, and saw that it reacted little now, now that they were not in it, and he wondered if it was part of something, like animals with poisons and defense systems against being attacked, and he was sure that it was not bothering them now as they were no longer a threat, and near it.

Suddenly, a light appeared deep in the fog to their side, and Mitchell asked them to move in the cave, surely considering the same things. Bryson watched it vibrating and brighten, and a beam pointed near them.

They moved in and away, while one man suggested covering the cave entrance, but they decided not to chance their luck as it may pick up any abnormalities, and even that the entrance was covered up.

 

Chapter 5

 

The Tunnel

 

Bryson rushed along, grasping his torch, and joined Mitchell and Mortimer leading the men into the depths of the tunnel, going below the hill, as the cave descended towards somewhere, nobody there could distinguish.

What could be at the end of such a cave? Bryson and, as far as he saw, nobody else had heard of caves like it. Its walls looked cut by something with a powerful force, and they regularly examined it expecting to see marks from some form of digging machine.

When it changed direction and went from one direction to another they examined its corners trying to see how it had been formed, and what natural occurrence could cause it.

They had started off trying to find a good location to spend the night, and then the further away from the dangers outside they got the happier they were, and the more they explored it the more they wanted to see and discover what was there.

Bryson confusedly looked ahead for anything dangerous to leap out at them. It was surprising now that they had the encounter outside that they left it open and that anything could appear.

Their reactions created a less tense atmosphere amongst them, making Bryson wonder what they were all thinking! What were their true feelings now? He was sure he and Mortimer had different thoughts of things after their past experiences.

It was phenomenal, they had been surely nearly killed and they never had a clue by what! What was its motivation? Was it animal motivations? Did it intend to consume them or kill a danger to it?

Should they leave it there, hidden away at the place, or have the police informed? How would they handle something that was supernatural? He could not decide the outcome of it!

Mitchell was not stupid and he did not push things too far, if he could help it.

One time the light shifted downwards creating a bright circle of light where Bryon could closely examine the dirt and saw the debris from the walls and picked some pieces up and examined it, examining its cut edges, considering what had occurred there.

It reminded Bryson of a shaft that had been built for some work to take place. But when he thought of it he did not have a clue what it was. What was a tunnel doing out there? Why had they gone to such lengths to construct it? What hidden motive had been behind it?

They had to have built it for logical reasons, as all the constructions were, which he could recall. They would only build it for their needs!

“Perhaps it’s part of a mine for something,” Merton concluded, trying to push things further long, trying to recollect something such as it.

“What happened to all the roads and constructions that they would’ve had?” Mortimer replied.

“How could they have built everything with all those trees being there?” Mitchell answered. “There’d be gaps leading through. Nobody would get anything through all that! Unless it was built a long time ago … And it all grew over it!”

“Perhaps it’s another part of the castle,” Merton spoke, trying to recollect something; maybe from his memories.

“You’re psychic researchers?” Mitchell replied, looking alert, and considering something that had been bothering him. “As well as scientists! What’re your thoughts of all that stuff outside …?”

“It is pretty hard to tell,” he replied, “especially at this stage … Things are so muddled, and we’ve so little … We’re not even sure that castle exists! Or is in rubble …”

“I’ve never seen anything like that! Something has to be behind it! And I’m sure it’s not all from this world whatever it is!”

“I’m pretty sure of that. It seems in an entirely different environment, than it was designed for.”

“As though in confusion … Of what was occurring around it!”

“We may be able to find something someday to defend ourselves against it!”

Mitchell grunted, and looked down at his useless weapon and went back to considering alternatives that would work.

Mitchell pointed his light straight out in front into the distant darkness there, illuminating different parts of the ground, and he lunged forward, as if he had decided that he wanted to find the answers to everything no matter what, and the sooner the better, just like they had been doing for many years. He shifted along, examining his steps, as he went into the darkness, which seemed to go endlessly on, and he examined everything.

It resembled an ancient mine, but more expertly constructed than that and that technology, and as though built to last a long time like an ancient sewer.

It was startling that there were no signs of any materials like bricks and cement in it, which led them to believe that it was something else built by somebody else.

The tunnel kept going endlessly on into the distance going where there was nothing but wood above, and they marched off into preparing themselves and ignoring their sleepiness.

What dangers could it hold? Did it have something of an incomprehensible nature existing in its darkness?

All the significations were startling! The world vanished behind them, and it felt absurd that they were going so far into it. It was like something out of place that should not be there. Especially not at such a location. Nothing seemed to put a conclusion to what it was needed for and why such lengths had been administered to construct it.

Questions endlessly flashed through Bryson’s mind as he followed Mitchell and Merton’s dark figures trudging on, behind their beams of light.

Merton seemed obsessed with handling his fantasy situation more than anything!

“Do you want one?” Merton moaned, handing back his cigarettes to Bryson and Mortimer, who were walking together behind him, as he blew out smoke about him; and they took one each to break the momentum.

Bryson strolled on blissfully puffing away, wondering where the hell they were going to this time. They clearly were under the trees, as some roots from trees had managed make their way down and had smashed their way through the rock.

It was surprising that it had not flooded with the cracks and holes, from water seeping down. Then he saw signs that it had occurred, and saw thick layers of dried mud ahead.

Mortimer looked happy and in his natural environment with the strange and unusual, with unsolved mysteries everywhere, and he smoked like he was experiencing an expensive cigar, flaring away at his mouth, tasting the smoke, with the smoke spinning through the air behind him.

The mystery of where it led to was certainly one of the main inspirations that kept them going, seeking an answer they knew they had to receive, driving them on no matter what.

If they turned back, they would never know, and could even have to face death, so they kept going.

Bryson realized that none of them would have believed that it went out to that length. Their pace stayed the same, their walk never changed.

He noticed that they mainly took it for granted that the tunnel had not collapsed anywhere and would reach somewhere, and that they would not have to journey back.

Bryson spotted something away in the distance and that the others about him had seen it, and they all went there with their heads facing it trying to observe something there that could not be properly observed.

His head eventually went back to where it had been, watching the tunnel about him, making sure that nothing was in their immediate way. Occasionally continuing with examining what was ahead, until he saw something blocking the tunnel far ahead, and he started to gasp.

Merton and Mortimer soon noticed launched into a discussion of the problem, and Bryson attempted to hear everything in their silent hushed chants. And he saw that they did not come to any real conclusions!

When they finally approached it Mortimer suddenly exploded with anger and went calm, on the brink of losing his patience while he marched up to it.

“Why did they build a wall there?” Merton moaned first, trying to obtain an answer to such absurdity.

The four of them stood, resting, glancing at individual sections of the wall, as the others stood back at a distance observing them.

“Whoever built this obviously was different from the builders and did it years later!” Merton remarked. “Something could be hidden behind this? Where do you think this is?”

“You’re probably right!” Mitchell remarked, touching the strange shapes of the boulders, and way they were put together. “Someone has hidden something away here …”

Bryson saw that none of them knew and that they were starting to think that they would have to return to where they had been, but he ignored that as he was positive that would not happen until the morning.

Merton started feeling along the edge of the wall where there was a crack going around it.

“We could trying shoving it over,” Merton announced, looking at it, giving Bryson a smile. “With our combined weight …”

He mechanically placed his arm against an area of the wall and started to push it and they joined in, and the bricks, which were not cemented, started falling inwards.

What they then found were thick webs covering the gap left, and they pushed the rest of the stone until it all crumbled and collapsed across the ground.

Mitchell removed his communicator and silently started trying to see if it now worked, trying to contact somewhere, and when he could not pick it up he put it away.

“Could that thing back there stop it working?” he asked them, trying to grasp the situation.

Nobody answered and showed they never knew, and they left it.

With the lights held out a black gap became visible behind all the thick webs and dirt, and they illuminated the tunnel going on and they moved in, removing the webs and dirt.

Bryson watched his shadow flicker along the stone, and his unblinking eyes watched the ground searching for obstructions, and he continued following Mitchell and Merton along.

Thick cobwebs crawled over his face and covered up everything ahead, and he heard the murmurs of provoked archaeologists behind him, and he realized that Merton had announced something. In the blackness ahead something indistinguishable was emerging, making his heart quicken and at any second he expected to find something deadly, and an immense cavity opened up in front of him.

 

Chapter 6

 

The Skeleton

 

How many centuries had the chamber been hidden away? The distant obscurity was full of chilling silence, which made him feel isolated. Webs hung everywhere around him and he waved his hand in circles scraping them away from him.

In dimness at the front, just in their light’s range, he watched dim gleams from things in the stone reflect dim light, producing a magical effect upon his hazy tired sight.

Faint echoes of their breathing and murmurs could be heard in its extraordinary silence, and by their frantic reactions he sensed that they believed that something was actually there. Although the descriptions that some of the archaeologists gave made it too unacceptable to him to believe fully what they had suggested the chamber was. In vivid detail they had specified that the location was a resting place of something! His mind conjured up vague visions of spooky medieval ghosts roaming there.

Water splashed over his face as it dripped from overhead, from cracks in the rock, and he moved sideways from it.

With it away from him he cleaned it away from his face, and he watched a light explore what he had missed, and it beamed out over the roof lighting up a vast cavern structure overhead, which had been cut out using the same method as the tunnel.

The roof was at a height of a hundred feet, and he caught glimpses of where things had once been and he listened to the surreal echoes of the archaeologists giving their explanations.

He shifted slowly into the fringes of where their lights beamed, as he rested from the journey there and long day, and at his front an object came into sight and he felt its roughness with his fingertips through thick webs and dirt, obscuring a proper view of it, and he placed his hands over it and its shape and hideous outline became clear, and he stepped back jerking his hand away, and saw that it was an open-mouthed skeleton with a rusted knife embedded in its chest.

The others soon came over and they crowded around it.

“How recent do you think this happened?” Mitchell asked, examining it up close.

“A very long time ago …” one of the archaeologists confirmed first, who had been first to examine it.

Their voices were changed and more professional, and made surreal echoes about them. Some archaeologist gave silent explanations to what might have happened, but only gave imprecise replies, especially after all the occurrences that had happened.

With a little amusement Bryson watched Mitchell’s figure hanging over it trying to grasp information about the person, and he searched the clothing of the man, but nothing was there except he spotted some pieces of rope where he had been tied up.

“This place has definitely been used for devil worship or witchcraft, or similar?” Mitchell asked firmly, unsure what else could have happened.

“I would say so!” the archaeologists replied.

“Someone gave a human sacrifice here, a long time ago, then!” he stated to one of his men, who wrote it down.

They all moved back or away from it, and the archaeologists got to work on checking it in detail – with gasps and surprises when they revealed its hideous agonized face more from webs and dirt – where the person had hideously died with his mouth open in pain, and had remained that way.

They continued brushing away thick webs and dirt, obscuring a proper view of it, while crumbling bits of gray rot fell off.

Bryson’s mind slowly grasped its hideous outline, and he stepped back wondering what the place was, and why they were doing it there.

The others checked everything they could about the cavity and one of the archeologists discovered another tunnel.

With their lights held out, they all started entering it and continued their journey, and Bryson saw that their lights would slowly drain of power and wondered what would happen.

The second tunnel was thinner and had a different look and atmosphere, and he realized their thoughts had changed of things. They no longer really thought of the things outside, but of the dead body that they had found cruelly sacrificed, and he continued walking with Mortimer behind Mitchell and Merton.

It had been a long day and he walked with unblinking eyes, almost hypnotized by the lights shifting over the walls, watching the ground in the glimmer searching for obstructions.

Occasionally cobwebs crawled over his face, and he no longer heard the murmurs of the archaeologists still discussing their find, and what other people would think of it when they returned.

Its creepy blackness made his heart beat fast and made him alert, and though, at times, he expected to find something deadly to confront them, he thought they might handle it, even though the things outside could have killed them.

How many decades had the chamber been hidden away there, and how long ago had the death occurred? The distant obscurity was full of chilling silence, which made him feel isolated.

Out in front, of the light range, he regularly watched dim gleams from stone lighting up like from a mysterious source, and he would confirm its type when he shifted passed it.

After listening to more of the archeologists’ allegations he realized that not much had actually been found out! Why had anyone built the tunnels? Why would devil worshippers or whoever made the deadly sacrifices?

Alright it was hidden away with little chance of anyone finding it, but why there and why go to such lengths to do what they had done?

He wondered what the place would throw at him next! All his life he had been use to solving things as they appeared and now he was having every unsolvable mystery, perhaps on the planet, for centuries, dumped on him without the suggesting of a clue.

In the pale illumination the tunnel went straight along, distinctively different from other tunnels – with its sides with smooth rock that never looked man-made and made by some means he could not quite grasp.

“Did you come up with anything?” Mortimer asked once, to his amusement, noticing that he was frustrated with having so little to go on and finding nothing.

Yet they seemed to have made a human sacrifice to something, and he wondered if they were done for the things outside, and that they could be even more deadly and powerful than they imagined, which would explain why they built the tunnels.

While he was wondering if they and the tunnel were actually connected to the castle his sight fixed on a magical glow at a point directly in front, which he realized was not a wall, and its surface glowed like white lava in the bright rays of the light, as though it contained energy.

“What could that be?” Mitchell moaned tiredly, leaning closer, as though he had partly fallen asleep and been awakened when he had seen it.

Some of his men removed guns and remained ready to fire, and some of the others thought of retreating to where they had come.

Nobody seemed to answer Mitchell and they remained silent, watching for signs of movement as they journeyed on.

The pace was slow but they saw no real danger, but they had much confusion in what was there and Bryson continued on and on unable to see a thing, captivated in it, and started to realize how faint the lights were becoming and that he was half asleep, and that most of the others looked the same, and he heard silent moans.

Jagged rocks scattered and piled over the ground brushed under their shoes, and he wondered why and saw rocks pile up more across his front.

Mitchell increased the power of his light by removing the batteries and adding some new ones from his pocket, and when it lit up they all stopped in horror, scarcely believing their eyes.

A monster creature, with large dark red eyes, with dimensions bigger than the tunnel was embedded in the side of the tunnel, like it had been tunneling through there and got trapped with its upper part embedded in the tunnel.

Its massive deadly shape glowed under their lights when they surrounded it, with its giant head frozen in place with its jaws wide open, and identical to a colossal killing demon attacking.

“There’s no heat from it!” one of the scientists announced, holding a device at it, reassuring them that it was dead, if it was in fact a life form at all. “And there’s no radioactivity …! If anyone needs that information?”

His last statement confused Bryson and left him wondering what he had meant.

“Why is its surface so smooth?” one of he archeologists remarked feeling it. “Why it’s so perfectly preserved … All signs identify it as being here a great deal of time!”

A stream of light was inundating the tunnel further along, producing a magical effect upon Bryson’s hazy sight, and he realized that they had finally reached the end.

 

Chapter 7

 

The Demon Creature

 

The morning sun stretched over the horizon throwing its golden rays amongst the trees, stretching long shadows everywhere, and brightly streaming its rays over Bryson and the others as they rested sleepily around a blazing campfire in the middle of a clearing in the snow covered wood.

What a night! He could barely feel his legs, never mind his feet, which he watched perched on a bolder near the fire, absorbing the heat.

The wood seemed perfect and like a winter wonderland, without its nightly dangers, which most of the others could not properly conclude why. Only he and the paranormal researchers and their scientists had any real insight into why as they had been at the last castle.

The sunlight stretched along the wood putting life back into it, making snow specks sparkle as they floated down from the trees.

A distant sound of scientists down in the tunnel, to his left, broke his silence, and he acknowledged a sweet pipe tobacco aroma lingering in the air, and he listened to their debates over what species the creature was classed as with some amusement, thinking of what the paranormal scientists would class it.

He examined the giant hole in the tunnel, where they had been able to escape from the tunnel from, where the ground had collapsed in years before through corrosion from water and weight, and he tried to see into the rest of the tunnel where it had collapsed over, but he could not see any entrance in to it.

He turned and stared into the smoldering red ashes in the campfire and imagined images of the creature’s large red eyes, as he had seen it in the tunnel, and realized that nobody there had seen eyes like it on any other animal. At times he had believed all the myths of the world and their remarkable things! Were there occult creatures buried away all over the world? He gasped at a drawing he recalled of a dragon creature.

What the hell was this thing? Its head resembled old draws he had seen of demons, from a collection of ancient parchments. All demons were not the same! They had different features and they could be far different from what they had been drawn like and perceived. What were they anyway if they really existed? The thing that they discovered might even change the image of prehistoric animals if they released photos of it. It could make the trip a perfect success, and all the trouble that they had gone through worthwhile! It was a discovery of the wildest dreams of paranormal scientists, and perhaps proper concrete proof!

Had they actually captured one of them things that had chased them through the wood? He was not sure if he could believe it! The things had been invisible! He had proven that!

Had this one become solid and burrowed through to there, where it had been killed hitting and trapping itself in the tunnel? He had a hard time believing they were what they were being described as! Yet what if it was something else that they had missed? The thing William Randall had found at the last castle had alien origins! With its powers opening up gateways into supernatural places.

“We’ve made contact with the outside!” Mitchell shrieked, holding his phone close into his ear, and joyfully walking back and forth on a flat area of snow, and entered a conversation with someone he knew that he was desperate to get in touch with.

After he had finished his conversation he hung up and put away his phone in his chest pocket.

“Well it looks as though we may get that thing …”

“How what’s happening?” one of his men replied, moving over to where he was.

“There’s a transporter army helicopter on the way … I managed to get a loan of it …”

“I thought we were going to continue with this …?”

“I’ve informed them of the situation here and that we’ve decided to stay … But if anyone wants out they can leave …”

“Why the helicopter?”

“To remove that thing and get it back … For it to be investigated, of course. I want their opinion on what it is?”

 

Chapter 8

 

The Military Helicopter

 

The helicopter emerged in the horizon and swept in low across the trees, blowing up massive clouds of snow with its powerful twin rotor blades, with loud deafening thuds shattering the silence, and it hovered in slowly blowing snow and debris about everywhere before landing on an area of flat ground, where they had flattened.

Bryson watched how startled the pilots were at what the mission was, with their strange looks and hidden thoughts, which he had expected with the descriptions Mitchell had given.

The region was desolate and a mystery, and they had not seen there before. They soon opened the compartment door at the rear end and removed a smaller digger, and one of the men aboard drove it over to where they had marked where the creature was buried under, and he soon started digging it out.

Bryson and the two paranormal scientists had become outstandingly famous since their discoveries at the last castle and some of the helicopter people were surprised to see them there, and gave more gasps at the discovery when they saw it. Yet Bryson was not sure what would become of the creature or what they would find it to be! They could easily end up classing it as some new variation of some animal!

When they mentioned the preservation of the creature the majority of them looked baffled, and nobody gave any proper explanation to why it had not rotted away. It clearly had been there for a great deal of time!

So when it was completely dug out and eventually lifted out into daylight all the scientists frantically talked, studied, and photographed it, avoiding giving much scientific explanations, and remained interested in the study its preservation and the uses it could have if they found something new there.

Bryson examined it to find the best way of killing it, if it was one of those beasts in the wood! Yet where had they appeared from, and they were invisible and partially invisible? So how could they handle such a thing? Would it be impossible to kill something that was invisible? Yet could it have killed while invisible? All the stories of encounters, which some of them could have been from them, as well as many other things, gave accounts of deaths! Did they fully materialize to carry out their attacks?

Bryson was still confused at what they were up against. They had nothing but a monster creature, from somewhere. Their vague examinations of its features and organs gave little, and showed little of its natural environment.

Yet when the helicopter was getting ready to take off, and all the people there were discussing the creature, he realized that they no longer believed it was one of the things in the wood and was something else, and Merton and Mortimer had lost interest in it completely, also thinking so, as all their examinations of it showed it was only a new form of animal.

The helicopter lifted off sweeping out low and increasing its height, with its deafening thuds rattling him to the bone, while simultaneously shattering their eardrums, making him wonder how the pilots never damaged themselves, and realized how much he had adapted to the deep desolate silence at the location, and he watched it vanish into the horizon, leaving its impression firmly in his minds.

 

Chapter 9

 

The Exploration

 

It was shocking how fast they started to realize the truth and that they should actually have left on the helicopter! When the early winter night started edging into the region all their recollections of the night before started emerging, and that they had not achieved their mission of leaving the wood, and at least getting to the castle.

The place was a public menace and should be marked as a danger zone and fenced off! Even as the sun edged into the horizon Bryson saw things that should not be there start to appear about the place, even the ground beneath them seemed to sag like it were turning into swamp.

Bryson felt like he had a sixth sense that could not detect the supernatural, and his brain detected other things caused by it.

The plan was to follow the rest of the tunnel, which they had dug into earlier, and they would find where that went and at least be away from their location.

A peculiar whistle haunted them, which could not be properly heard, like sounds animals hear that humans cannot, which came from no real location and shadowed them, irritating them trying to identify it and its location.

The tunnel was the same, and when they started marching into it Bryson heard scrambling movements and panic-stricken voices behind him and wondered if they had timed it too late, and if something had happened to the last people to enter and they did not know if they should go back or ignore it.

They soon discovered that it was only the last people that entered had seen a light deep in the wood before they entered!

If there were a death he wondered how the police would handle the situation if confronted with it and what the outcome would be?

“We better have our weapons ready anyway!” Mitchell warned his men behind him, as he stood in front of them, removing his weapon and putting it back, and waited for the others to remove their weapons and get the feel of them.

Merton went with Mitchell, in front of everyone, and Bryson and Mortimer followed them, with others in their usual formation following.

It was not as bad as it had been! They had renewed the energy in their lights and had more equipment that they needed, and could easily camp out in the tunnel if they needed to, and were not trapped, plodding on into the night.

Bryson tested the floor of the tunnel, which was dry packed mud and rock, wondering if it was a new form of mining that had created the walls. The technology behind it could be worth a great deal if it was what he thought it was, and the technology behind it was unknown, just like the creature that they found there, which had incredibly been able to burrow through the ground with its immense size, which they had not heard of before, which he would have dismissed as impossible.

It surprised him that if the technology to do it existed, and was unknown, how did it get there? Where did it come from?

Yet there was no proof and he did not know if he ever could prove it existed, and even doubted if the evidence and technology would be found, and yet could something like the creature have created the tunnel though?

Merton shifted around and spoke silently with Mortimer in conversations breaking the deep silence that kept emerging.

Bryson noticed the shaft prevented water flooding it by descending slightly. Small amounts of water had seeped through cracks, flowing down it to places it could exit from the tunnel. Yet he still never knew if it was deliberately built for long lasting use, and most of all why it was built, and he recalled the people that had made the human sacrifice back in the cavity. Yet that never made sense either! Why go to such lengths to build a tunnel and cavity? The time it would have taken could have been incredible!

“Who built this?” Mitchell moaned loudly once, trying to get them to give him something to solve one of the mysteries, but nobody replied and he thought of some other conclusion.

It reminded Bryson of the shaft that he had seen in the last castle, and had been built by William Randall. Yet the other tunnels there were made in the normal way without such technology. Yet the castle, if it existed, was built there about 1880, according the information they had heard. The technology of the tunnel was far more advanced, even by the current technology.

Over and over he thought of it and did not have a clue what a tunnel was doing in a wood! Why had they gone to such lengths to construct it? What hidden motive had been behind it?

They had to have put it there for logical reasons as all the constructions that he could recall had been built for. They had built them for their needs!

“Was it originally part of water system,” Merton mumbled to Mortimer, confused at the enormous distance it had, trying to recollect something such as it.

“Therefore, we should meet with where the water went!” Mitchell answered.

Merton pointed the light straight out in front of him, illuminating the ground many feet further down into it, and examined it. And he lunged forward as if he had decided that he wanted get to the source of it as soon as possible. He shifted down examining it going into the darkness, which seemed to go on endlessly, searching for any evidence of anything.

Its main feature now was its neat perfect size that continuously held without altering, but not from moving downwards now, making it resemble a mine but far more expertly constructed than that, as though built to last a long time like a sewer.

Bryson even wondered if people had found gold or other precious metal there, in a great amount, and had gone out of their way to cover it up, making sure nobody heard of it.

Occasionally he had watched Mitchell and his men examine the ground and mud for anything of value!

Webs shrouded the roof and corners about it again and occasionally they had to wave scraping them away from them, while the radiance from the lights made insects scurry away, especially when they saw them.

The builders must have known where all the rock had been as they avoided going through areas where it was not there, and must have been able to check for miles where it had been before building it, and he wondered what they would have done if there had not been any rock there as the tunnel would have collapsed if it had not been built in it, and they surely would have needed something to hold it all up.

Large tree roots had been sliced off and their lower areas were gone and some had grown again in places, and they had to walk around them, and the amount of mud increased and the tunnel started to lose shape in places where it sagged, and small collapses of the roof and sides appeared and they started to worry about not being able to reach their destination.

The tunnel went endlessly on into the distance turning in different directions, through nothing but the upper wood, and Bryson marched off into it preparing himself for what they might meet with, and wondering if it had collapsed if they could go back and follow its direction from the outside in the morning.

He was sure that they had compasses in their equipment and knew the general direction anyway, but could they accurately find the place if it was buried away deep in the wood, if it actually led there anyway.

His thoughts went to the wood again and its strange eerie confines and he wondered what normal animals actually existed there during the day, and how they survived.

What dangers could the wood hold? Did it have only something of an incomprehensible nature existing in its darkness?

All the significations of it were startling! The other day he had mostly not believed that it could be there never mind there being a tunnel going under it.

The journey kept giving him feelings of how absurd it was with it going so far into it. The direction and his perspective of where they were had altered so much he was positive that if they had to turn back that he personally could not find where it led to in the above wood.

At times it seemed like some of the others were there just to handle a fantasy situation more than anything!

“Want one?” Merton moaned, handing the cigarettes out again, puffing out smoke everywhere, and they all slowed and he took a break from the endless routine.

Mitchell removed his phone like it was a communicator and silently started trying to contact someone, and when he could not he tried to contact other places, and look surprised at it again.

“This place must be the only place in northern hemisphere you can’t get a signal?” he joked, putting it firmly away.

He stood trying to grasp the situation, and what was there.

“There has to be something blocking the signal …” Mortimer continued, with his investigation of the phenomenon. “It has to be pretty powerful too …”

“What has to be powerful?” he asked, still investigating their paranormal investigation and nature, not fully grasping something.

Mortimer never replied and Mitchell ignored him.

“What the hell is out here?” Mitchell muttered to himself later, with a worried glare, and rubbed his fingers over the perfectly flat smooth tunnel wall.

“At this rate we’ll be spending the night here after all!” Mortimer replied, with his professional tone.

“We better have our weapons ready if we leave here!” Mitchell moaned, removing a more powerful weapon, which he had got off the helicopter, and put it away, and Bryson realized that they were more confident of killing the things in the above wood now that they had found the dead creature, and had examined it, and thought they could kill them once they properly appeared.

His men also removed their weapons to get the feel of them.

The situation was confusing and Bryson did not fully get if they could kill them!

“Could that fog stop the communicators working …?” Mitchell asked them, still trying to grasp the situation, and surprised them with his attitude.

“Some conditions may create such occurrences!” Mortimer jokingly replied.

“Not normally!” Merton continued. “But this fog and it being out here changes the rules.”

“So once again nothing!” Mitchell answered, getting ready to continue walking faster. “Don’t forget those things attacked us …”

They were experiencing new things and Bryson wondered again if he could prevent something from happening.

He did not know if Mitchell could do something stupid. His reactions were different, and he saw that he could attack whatever was out there if it appeared at a later stage, and he recalled that he had originally believed that he would before they had been attacked, and realized the same situation could happen again – only they might not be as lucky the next time – but if he watched what he did and planned ahead he was sure he could survive.

His thoughts went back to the paranormal scientists and their work again, and him not completing his mission of discovering what existed there and how to deal with.

Why had nothing been discovered in the world except what they had come up with? This fact confused him incredibly as most of his life he had unsuccessfully investigated everything there and not found anything. It was true they were rare occurrences and he thought they did not fully know what they were talking about. All the stuff was a mess! False claims and facts that other things were behind things kept appearing!

The creature found embedded in the tunnel now never appeared like it was of supernatural origins.

The technology and all the research used would have at least properly proven its existence all over the world by now! But what were they up against now, and was it the same as at the last castle?

Again he decided to find and record anything that he could and use it as evidence of what was there! On him he had miniature cameras, recorders, and notebook to record his findings, and he remembered why they were not needed anyway, and kept by him in case the paranormal scientists and scientists never recorded anything. The amount of equipment they would have was enough, and the most advanced. If they never captured anything then he was sure there would be nothing to record, and he recalled the recordings and findings that they had made of those things that attacked them in the wood, even though they never had a chance to use the heavier stuff, and they got everything they wanted on the dead creature trapped in tunnel, whatever it was.

Bryson realized again that he would properly never experience anything like this place again and wondered what the outcome of it would be. He would remember it forever, and he was sure he would be remembered in history for taking part in it all, if things turned out like he imagined it that is.

Bryson sensed something, and looked over to where Mitchell’s eyes were staring furiously and saw debris covering the ground ahead, away at the end of the tunnel, and while their pace quickened he started to wonder what was going to happen as Mitchell and the others started to react strangely and viciously, and in horror of there being extreme danger, and he waited observing their reactions and decided to react to what happened.

What could be so dangerous about the tunnel being collapsed? The worst that could happen was that there was no exit and that they would have to walk back, which would only put them about half a day behind, and they could sleep in the safety of the tunnel.

On their approach there it became clear that the ground had collapsed years before, through corrosion from water and weight, and that there was a way out of it, to escape from the tunnel there, and he started to realize what the problem was and why they were reacting so much.

 

Chapter 10

 

The Castle

 

They had become trapped in the dark wood, freezing in the deep snow, hiding behind trees, while the lights and creatures shifted about violently smashing things around them, while the amount of them and their powers grew, while Mitchell and his men had their weapons ready.

Bryson now knew why having the military there could be a mistake, and he had realized it when they had escaped from the tunnel into the dark wood and had witnessed Mitchell and his men launching into shooting rounds of ammunition.

Thick snow shrouded everything everywhere creating a mind-bending landscape, and they were too exhausted to attempt to recognize anything. It was shocking how they could have got lost!

They should have stuck to being in the tunnel! They could easily have entered the other half of the tunnel in the morning!

The blackness and snow had turned to a nightmare!

Their legs sank deep into stinking vegetation that resembled quicksand in places, but Mitchell insisted that it was not and continued to take them on through it as if it were not there and only another obstacle – and the further away from the tunnel entrance they went the worse it got, and the fact that they would not be able to return.

Out of nowhere a giant light emerged from the undergrowth, and it pulsated like a living thing, magically illuminating the snow and trees everywhere.

The light allowed them to see everything, and he wondered if it was a type warning like a lion might warn them off.

“Look over there!” one of the scientists suddenly hollered, from over at their side, making them all jump and their adrenalin pump wildly through their veins.

Bryson was one of the first to look and spot what it was, and saw a castle buried away in the landscape and he stood astounded not only by its immense size but because he had a sensation that it had colossal power, and it eventually left him staggered! He sensed many strange things and was sure all the paranormal energy was centered there!

The castle was also blissful and they ignored the dangers around them and watched it. It radiated through the wood like a spellbinding ghost castle, and they forced their legs to move faster.

Its appearance as they moved there, out of the night, amidst the jungle of vegetation, was staggering! The treasure surely had to exist there! Bryson was amazed at the speed that they were now moving away from the disturbances towards it at and started to realize how enthusiastic they were to get to it now. And he even sensed many of the others had known of the treasure for longer than they should have, and were confident it existed.

Mitchell even forgot about his battle and made for the castle, and as Bryson watched him he realized that the tunnel had gone in the direction of the castle, and had led there all along.

It was like a phantom castle glowing in snow and shining from being in moonlight, like it were supernaturally glowing.

Behind them shifting lights were darting everywhere through the trees with ghost images of creatures doing hideous things.

 

Chapter 11

 

The Phantoms

 

The thin fog engulfed them before they reached the castle and peculiar vivid streaks like colored lightening exploded all over the top level of it, and Bryson saw the sky above it full of massive blinding stars that he had never seen before.

One star’s flickering light streaked into his face showing its real immense size! It was truly unique and clearly some form of space from somewhere else emerging.

He wondered from his scientific perspective what the larger and more advanced life forms would be like in such an environment. They had not seen anything there, and he sometimes thought he existed in one of the most barn regions of space.

The fog rapidly engulfed them and they lost more of what little sight they had, and they briskly moved faster, draining themselves of energy.

If only they could discover what was there without being killed, and he would be annoyed if they never found anything!

Thick mud and vegetation shrouded everything, covering their boots and clothes with muck, and he imagined the mind-bending landscapes beyond there and if they were the same, and he realized how tired he felt.

It was shocking how easily they got trapped and lost and the worst of it was he could not realize how they could avoid it. All they needed to do was stick to the exact places in the last castle and they avoided it. But here they could not have done it! Yet he was sure that at the majority of the time they could actually have done it if they had done it during the day, and that it was Mitchell and his men’s fault that they had kept going and had not slept in the tunnel until the morning. The vast dangers seemed to either stop them dead or they went charging in, and everything turned indistinguishable about him, and he wondered if it would be the end of him.

At one point he thought that he was actually on another world when he saw through slight gaps in the thickening fog and saw distant regions of strange places. Mitchell and the others stuck to the same routine and never seemed tire or alter their course.

Strange high frequency sounds shadowed them from unknown places, driving some of them insane trying to identify them.

Their legs started entering deep bogs of stinking rotting vegetation with chemical stenches, resembling some chemical that he kept examining to identify, wondering how such chemicals got there. Many smelt like they had been dumped there by some industrial site and he considered if an intelligent species there could have built civilizations there. But his mind refused to accept anything without further evidence and he considered it being put there either by the builders of the castle, or the tunnel, or someone else that had been there.

Out of nowhere the most powerful light emerged through the thickest formation of the mist with its radiance pulsating like an entity, magically illuminating the thin fog around them with strange shadow formations from things he could not see, creating mind-bending shifting shadows that weaved and probed their way towards them.

While they casually slowed and observed them sounds of heavy pounds of something of incredible size and weight rushed out, causing them to scurry away without being able to see anything behind them.

Mitchell and his men withdrew their weapons and rushed along with them but trying to see their target, and they furiously moved their legs in and out of bogs as it grew nearer and deadlier, causing their legs to become painful and tired, and they shifted away to hard ground to be able to escape better.

It was like they were making their last stand and being on the edge of destruction and Bryson watched how each of them reacted, and noticed Mitchell reacted the least and even looked as if he was definitely going to kill the thing with his weapon.

For a short time they ran almost blindly up and down over bogs and humps, rushing through to where the flat had ground was.

Heavy beast sounds furiously exploded out nearby and clearly chased them and they considered turning and firing. It was common for large animals to get frightened away from being fired on and he was sure that Mitchell believed it and was sure that it was the same as the dead creature that they had found in the tunnel, and that the last creatures had not heard or seen their weapons as they had not fully appeared there, and Bryson wished that he would confirm it with the thing fully appearing, which he believed that it would have to do to kill them.

It was like being in someone else’s strange nightmare and Bryson started to get annoyed over its avoidance of doing anything at all, and when he swiftly turned he saw an immense shadow spread through an area of the fog, where the sounds exploded out!

They were breathless and they all stared blankly, and he wondered what he was missing and what their explanations of what had happened would be.

One of the soldiers suddenly turned and started firing at the dark shape shifting through the mist, looking too tired to be able to go on properly at the rate they were going at and making an attempt at survival.

With interest the majority of them turned to watch the thing, and as far as Bryson saw and heard it never even acknowledged his direct hit on it, and it left them confused, and he decided to get him to try again if it appeared visible.

Their legs could not take them fast enough after the shot and the thing seemed to speed up and close in on them, and Bryson cursed their stupid idea of firing on it and running. Surely they could have made it appear by entering a thin area of the fog and confronted it, as it had to materialize to kill them, and at least they would not be exhausted and could aim and fire all their weapons at it at the one time.

The shape of the castle appearing through the vapor was blissful, and they all stared fascinated with it and in their luck.

The lighted castle radiated through a mass of trees and foliage and Bryson was sure he would not normally have seen it, and that it was not even visible to planes with its roof being completely covered in vegetation and small trees.

It was like a phantom oasis out on the edge of realism, on the bounds of what lay beyond, with the things charging out of the depths of hell, with them running to it and to reality.

All his looks back annoyingly never showed him a proper view of the heavy monster thing rampaging towards them and he wondered if the thing was playing with them, like a cat with a mouse, waiting until it fully had it.

They moved straight up to the massive castle doors, and Mitchell shot the lock and smashed it in and they rushed in, exhausted and staggered, and when Bryson got in the doorway he stayed at the side of the door and listened and watched the fog outside until the last of the men had entered and they shut the door, and he heard its powerful movements rapidly taking it to the edge of a lane in front of the castle, where for some reason it could not pass, and he saw its colossal ghost demon shape floating through the mist, snapping its massive jaws, before it vanished.

 

Chapter 12

 

Inside the Castle

 

Even though Bryson had not properly seen and measured the castle, as it was mostly buried away in thick trees and undergrowth, it was colossal and he was sure that it was far longer and wider than any type of football field, and as high as an average eight-story building (and could even reach up to 150 meters long and 60 meters wide, and 30 meters high).

The builder, William Randall, who had built a castle already, surely would not have built it so massive at the date that it had been built, and he wondered if the people that rebuilt it there had built it bigger! If it was built for defense, like most castles had been, why did he need it to be such a size, as it would have been far easier to build and defend a small castle? He would have needed and had to have maintained an immense army for decades!

Why did they not just increase the size of his army? Everything he had seen of people of that time had been done for logical reasons! Yet he realized it was exaggerated and that William Randall had built it, as he had built the last large castle, but not as large as it, and it might have been to show his immense power and wealth, and an army would also have thought twice before attacking such a construction, and they could easily have thought it held a great and powerful king, while it being buried away in a wood would have added to its defense.

He was determined to solve all the riddles, and prepared himself to find the proper answers!

He was determined to ignore the events of the past few days and concentrate on what was in the castle. He had seen little of it in the darkness with their lights, and it was cold and smelled of dampness, and nobody left the location at the lounge at the door.

Most of the night had been subjected to false alarms of the things in the wood reappearing there, and they had been glad when the morning arrived.

Later on he and Mortimer and Merton went outside to see it in the light of day and were surprised and disappointed. It was unbelievable and historical, but had fallen into being a derelict. Vegetation and trees virtually entirely covered it, including its roof, and it was part of the wood. It was lucky the interior was preserved, as they would have had a bad time staying there.

Bryson studied pieces from exterior walls strewn about in the undergrowth, and immense square boulders and other parts.

They wandered around it checking what they could but a lot of it was hidden from view, and he had a hard time realizing how they had been able to move it there! Why they had allowed such a valuable construction to become derelict? And realized again that it was the haunting of it and its deadliness! There were abundant deaths marked as occurring there! He thought the last castle had been bad but this one was deadly beyond belief and people avoided it to save their lives!

He wondered if they should have just left it! If they could not get rid of what was there they could be playing with something of great danger that could result in an immense amount of deaths, for decades to come.

Bryson made a rough drawing/map of it as they wandered around. At the front there seemed to be only the one central door, but there were others at the sides and back, and there was one at a kitchen at the back.

The front door had a hall that led to the other side of the castle, and long corridors of rooms went from one end of the castle to the other all the way through it. With different shaped and sized rooms everywhere. The majority of it was confusing, and he found little to answer his queries. The floors above were not identical, and he considered his theory that the place was built to scare off enemies with its magnitude and value, and he put all the things in it there for the building and with no real use. Yet if an army and other group of people stayed there it could well have all been used by them. They could have been complex and advanced people of that age and did many things not normally done.

He wondered where William had stayed in it, and where his room was located? Perhaps at the top floor, where he would have had a good view of his wood and grounds?

When they arrived back in the castle he heard Mitchell on his phone and listened to his conversation and that he was bringing in all their supplies, as they had planned to do once they had found and entered the castle. They had an area on the remains of the lane to it where the helicopters could land.

All the rest of the scientists and psychic investigators and their highly advanced equipment, to begin a detailed investigation, were being brought, as well as more men to help Mitchell, and as well as food supplies they were bringing generators for proper power supplies for the lights and everything else.

 

Chapter 13

 

The Legends

 

Throughout centuries the place had been viciously subjected to deadly mind-bending forces and manifestations!

Legends were extraordinary, bordering on absurd, and once Bryson got all his things off a helicopter he was able to check through the details that they had gathered in intense investigations at loads of locations, which was used to locate the lost castle.

The origins, from a majority of accumulated sources, to which he and the others had proven had occurred, occurred around 1620 when fishermen at a Scottish fishing village had witnessed the materialization of something of unknown origins, and that a bright light of magnitude had exploded out of the early morning mist over the sea, like a crazy shooting star, and had been seen landing.

After a great deal of observations, research, and discussions by the leading scientists they had agreed that the thing that they had found at Grovnor Castle, with its appearance there and its alien artifact creating gateways throughout space and time, could very well have been detected and located by it. The first had left traces through space and time for anything to detect!

Space and time could be full of things of unknown origins searching for other things of unknown origins throughout space and time. The description of the second revealed that it could well have been attempting to mimic the first and could have even been there to make contact with it or check what it was and analyze it.

Something encountering something new at an unknown location could easily assume that it belonged there, and they believed that when it had appeared there that it had assumed that the other thing had been an inhabitant of this world!

There was no proof that both encountered each other, and though the castles had been in the same region there had in fact been a great deal of distance between them. They also believed that though they had reached their destinations that neither had been able to achieve their objectives.

They knew why the original one had nearly been killed when it had made an appearance, when it had been found by fishermen, and that it had eventually died where the first castle had been built before the other had arrived, even though its powers had haunted that castle for centuries with its lost alien artifact hidden there.

Accounts of the other reshaping and continually altering its appearance showed that it had altered from something else and had been trying to adapt, and it having accelerated/decelerated motions and forms like a crazy entity/life form as it had appeared.

At first it had appeared to have damaged itself and be on the brink of losing its existence but it had been later perceived that it had entered some form of damaged or dormant state – surely exhausted of energy from either its extraordinary manifestation, or from its impact with the world, or it not even having existed in space and time.

The fishermen that found it had taken it to the most knowledgeable and powerful person there and to William Randall, who had been staggered by its existence, and who gave them his extensive knowledge and experience, but had displayed more confusion on its appearance than them.

He had taken it from them and it was never seen again, but years later, after the construction of William Randall’s second castle, they had heard of its activation at the second castle and that many deaths had occurred and that they had been trying use it for magical purposes – to foresee future occurrences – and to accumulate its powerful powers.

According to legends all the people there had been found dead, and it had left the most powerful magical object in existence at the castle – in whatever state and place they had left it – with powers going beyond anything else – with power surges opening gateways going beyond space and time – and with William Randall’s valuable treasure nearby.

For centuries the lost treasure had been thought to exist there by a few explorers, who had carried out investigations and searches for it, of which many had paid by losing their lives, by being in the confines of the castle at the wrong time or place.

No real clues to its whereabouts existed other than it was located near a magical object! The legends gave mentions of it but the actual details were too little and too vague and the occurrences at the place made it too confused to establish. All the facts were missing, but having seen what the William Randall had been like and that the other treasure had existed Bryson and the paranormal scientists thought he could have had it, and it was hidden there.

The place must have been one of the most dangerous places in the world and nobody attempted to live there, or even live near there. People could not survive permanently living in its confines! Even though most of the time its powers dwindled and some people had managed to survive and escape after living for months there, and had given horrific accounts of the mind-bending wonders and deadliest menaces that they had been subjected to.

At one point, in 1880, to which nobody knows why, its existence had become entirely dormant and a wealthy businessman had found the castle by accident while visiting the region and had bought it from the owners of the land.

He had recognized its value, historical importance, colossal architecture and dimensions, and had seen that it was worthless in the desolate wood, in the middle of nowhere, and had it removed in large sections and shipped across the Atlantic, where he had intended to reconstruct it near New York.

What occurred next was never revealed, and there occurred an extensive amount of lost information, and all that was known was that the owner had died in mysterious circumstances and that the castle had ended up at a different and secret location in the depths of an immense desolate wood, hidden away from anyone locating it, with what was there activated again.

 

Chapter 14

 

The Disturbances

 

When Bryson opened his eyes he never even knew what he was! He had no recognition of anything or where he was, or that he was in one of the rooms in the castle!

He was staggered and sat upright and turned on his room light, and wondered if it was caused by his exhaustion, done on the day before, or his lack of food, the severe cold and snow falling outside, or something in the castle influencing him.

The dreams that he had had been incomprehensible and he wondered if they had actually been dreams! They never made sense and had been made up with shimmering lights and freakish sounds being whirled about him, and like being in a colossal vortex, where he never thought or even did anything, and had been like he never existed and just experienced what was there.

He liked the room around him and how well preserved it was after such a length of time, and how well it had been made, especially for the era it had been from.

Merton was in the room next to his on the left and Mortimer’s room was next to that, and Mitchell was in the room next to Bryson on the other side, where he was next to his men.

They were all sleeping in rooms at the front of the left side of the second floor, with the stairs in the center of the castle.

Bryson noted the air was just cold and with no scent, and that it was cool and calm in the room, and he spotted that there was a really thick blanket of snow covering the wood outside. He remembered earlier and being in a huddled posture with his blankets tightly wrapped about him, with him reacting to the cold.

For a moment he recalled an earlier dream and that he had thought he had died and gone to some form of afterlife, and tried to recall everything he could about it. The dreams that he had at Grovnor Castle had given him vision of other places, and what could be hidden away, and he had visualized the places the creatures sounds there were coming from and had some insight into them and their environment.

The sky outside was dark even though it was snowing, and it was normally light where he lived with the streetlights and light being reflected from the snow illuminating it, and he realized how far they were from the outside world and this place this time had no roads or connections to anything. Their communications had gone when the dark winter night began.

It was so peculiar that he liked it more than he should have! His normal life and things he encountered were too repetitive and he relished finding abnormal things to do and explore, especially when they had new outcomes and findings.

He switched off his light and went over to the window and stared out into the darkness and ancient wood with a shiver running through him, from the cold, thoughts of the cold, and deadly things that they had encountered there.

It was like another world to him and they were put there to explore it, and it was like a world without a proper sun and thousands of light years of empty space between it and the stars.

The world below was a decomposing landscape shrouded in snow with weak energy.

An array of door knocks made the door shift about, reminding him of the age of the place, and he wondered again why it had such advanced objects and structure for that age, and he realized again that the people who had reconstructed it had done it up and that he was experiencing 1880 technology.

He slowly marched over and yanked open the thick wooden door, which had been clearly expertly crafted by hand, and he watched Merton and Mortimer standing glaring at him from the darkness outside, suggesting something was along the corridor. Bryson nodded and closed the door behind him and followed them along the outer corridor.

He still wondered why they liked being up in the middle of the night so much, and why he never had properly seen them tired in the middle of the night. Surely they never had that many things to do at night?

As he considered how sleepy he was and what they were up to, and then thought of other situations that they had done and of them awaking him in the middle of the night, and as he recalled situations he gasped as he suddenly realized that he could hear sounds emerging from somewhere further ahead, and he gasped even more when the sounds seemed to magnify and turn to being blared out.

It then mildly amused him as he recalled a similar situation, and he also realized that the sounds reminded him of his dream, but he could not notice any connection and why it did.

“What hell happened?” Mitchell moaned, rushing up the corridor, after being awakened by something and seeing them rushing towards something.

He slapped his face trying to awaken himself further, vaguely looking like he had a slight hangover, and he recalled him taking alcohol from the helicopter.

As they approached a region of the corridor that they heard the sounds at their loudest the disturbance seemed as if it had different states to it and regularly altered, and Bryson imagined it as a warp through in space and time causing many different things to occur and create sporadic sounds about the castle, and in his dream he wondered if he had seen inside the warp itself (and the castle lay somewhere beyond it, being one of the locations connected to it throughout space and time).

Yet even if it was a warp he still never knew what it was or what was happening, what created it, and why the things in the wood were there! Did the things, whatever they were, become part of the disturbance while near it, when it automatically opened?

Three scientists rushed up to Merton and Mortimer and they began discussing the occurrences and situation, and the three scientists rushed back to get equipment and more of the scientists.

Merton and Mortimer stood listening to the sounds trying to establish things and where they were mainly emerging.

Some sounds came screaming at them with fury and sometimes as though things were trapped in some form of field.

The scientists rushed back and forward setting up their new equipment, connecting the equipment along that region of the corridor.

“What do think?” Merton carefully asked him, leaving Bryson with little to say.

He gave Bryson the impression that they might be going to do something or come to a conclusion.

Mortimer also gave him the impression, which would normally have confirmed it, but things were different there and they were not fully themselves!

Bryson started to realize the implications of things and that they might have to check what was there and things of great danger!

Mortimer quickly told the other scientists: “Investigate all these walls, floor and roof …”

Bryson suddenly felt deep tiredness and wished that he had stayed in bed, and was asleep.

Why were they not tired like him? What had they been doing when they heard the sounds?

In the darkness at the end of the corridor two figures came rushing towards them from the stairs – resembling a sort of dream view to Bryson in his sleepy state – and the figures turned out to be two of Mitchell’s men, who were on guard below, and they whispered things in Mitchell’s ear.

Mitchell’s face turned frantic, and he was desperate to do something, and he rushed away with the two men to where the men had been, and to the stairs.

“What are they up to?” Merton muttered, staring, bewildered.

“This place is a hell of a place!” Bryson mumbled.

Bryson watched drifting currents of snowflakes blow about a room window, and he realized that he really felt like going to bed. It had been a long day and the next day could even be longer, and he watched Mortimer rush away after them to the stairs, and he wondered what he was missing. Even though he had done what he felt like doing – rush away – but in the opposite direction – to his bed, and without saying anything.

Why were they not all tired like him? And he recalled all the things he had been doing and all the late nights before he had arrived there.

He watched them rush into the darkness at the stairs and realized that they might have to stay up for a long time, to obtain the conclusion to what was occurring, and he realized he had better follow to get it over with.

Merton shrugged and followed him, and they eventually started chasing after them.

In the sounds behind him he heard a rhythmical tapping, slowly increasing in volume, making him slow to listen, and he realized that it was footsteps rushing towards him from behind, and from behind him two more of Mitchell’s men came running along, while they were fixing gun holsters on their waists.

Bryson saw Mitchell going down the stairs with his gun in his hand. They seemed to have adjusted their lights dimmer, to make them darker and not open targets.

The situation looked bad! If someone did not die it would be surprising!

Bryson and Merton rushed to them and crept down the stairs – which creaked loudly when they made rapid movements.

At the bottom of the stairs he watched their dark figures creep around from room to room looking for something, occasionally giving a significant gasp, which most of them had given since they had arrived at the castle.

They eventually approached Mortimer trying to get information.

“Let’s look in the kitchen!” Mitchell warned, creeping away.

His men followed him. And one of them switched on a light and they rushed into the kitchen, holding out their guns, ready to shoot at anything that appeared.

Bryson felt awake again, but tired and he avoided staggering.

“I saw someone down here with a gun,” one of Mitchell’s men muttered to them, moving along with them.

How had he seen anyone down here he wondered? It had been so dark without the lights that it was virtually in complete darkness, and when he questioned him further he told them that all they had seen had been a dark figure with a gun.

When Mitchell entered the kitchen they heard him gasp loudly, grasping Bryson’s attention as he had definitely found something, and they rushed in after him.

When they reached the kitchen it was virtually in darkness and Bryson turned his head about to search in every direction and to where he saw gusts of snow blowing rhythmical against a window, and through the window he saw the haunting dark shapes of the trees of the wood shifting in the wind, almost hidden in the dark about the castle.

The brightness beamed down from the kitchen lights lighting everything about them, when someone finally turned them on, and they entered further and glared over at an area of the floor, to their side, where Mitchell was kneeling next to a dead body.

 

Chapter 15

 

Mind-Bending Dreams

 

Lights flew around everywhere like electric forms of insects stopping Bryson from seeing anything else in his surreal dream, with him mildly viewing it while he happily slept, floating freely.

Deep in dark regions he caught sight of things shifting about with no form to what they were or doing, like energy floating wildly around in a void surrounding him, and to his fascination he heard sounds of thoughts like whispers from out in hidden places or invisible zones, and they taunted him.

Energies of the universe shone and moved, which normally would have been invisible, and he saw mist formations that were really energy formations and he realized that he was seeing something as it really was, which was powerful and intelligent, which never really made sense when thought about, but which did as a fantasy.

It resembled floating in a cold dark cloudless night sky with no ground below, under a bright moon, and a lunar colored radiance emerged everywhere.

Golden places appeared around the strange energy lights that twinkled brighter through thick areas of the energy mist and a bright light appeared deep in the mist, and he realized the depth of it was really immense and that he was further off than he thought. It was tremendous and like looking into the depths of deep space.

He felt the presence of something mysterious and alive, which existed all around him and which he could not account for, and again he looked out at the lights and wondered what it all was, and studied it. Even though he never recognized anything it had a familiar look, which he determinedly tried to grasp.

He was suddenly awakened by a loud knock that rattled his room door up and down and he saw by the morning light that it was later than he had intended to sleep and he rolled sideways and checked his clock and realized that it was even later.

He automatically listened to the voice of Mortimer asking him where he was, and he told him he was getting dressed.

Even though it was winter and the border of window was shrouded with vines and other vegetation it was bright with the sun and light blue sky and the snow covering the entire landscape, and he quickly put on his clothes and opened the door and saw Merton and Mitchell, who both studied him curiously.

“You wanted us to contact you if anything happened,” Merton stated, excitedly. “Well, something has! You’d better get down to the lounge if you do not want to miss the action!”

“What action?” he answered, shifting out of the door and studying the corridor, watching some of the new scientists that they had brought in, who were checking areas of the corridor.

“One of our men just found a few faint footprints of the killer at another window further along from the kitchen!”

“Is that everything …?” Bryson asked firmly. “And your theories are?”

“He killed one of my men – who must have discovered him doing something … And he got out the door, escaped into the wood … And must have returned later …”

“He wouldn’t have dared go deep into the wood!”

“And we should have predicted his movements …”

“You found the remains of his footprints after the heavy snow fall, with the prints at the window that he entered, where they avoided being fully covered over …”

“Perfectly correct! We are having a discussion on it in the lounge and wanted you there!”

“But this means the killer is in the castle and that he can’t escape!”

Both Merton and Mitchell nodded in agreement!

 

Chapter 16

 

The First Death

 

All the main people in the castle were there, sitting silently in the large lounge, where everything seemed to have massive proportions for some reason.

They all sat still in various large seats at various angles, in seats found in the surrounding rooms, in front of what must be the largest fireplace Bryson had ever seen, with the logs blazing away with a high temperature from all the logs someone had piled into it, surely to fit it in there without making it too small.

Mitchell resumed his pacing across their path, leaving a faint trail over the late nineteenth century carpet there, which the whole castle had as well as main other modifications that allowed people to live there, which had been added later on – including electrical lighting, kitchens, toilets, proper beds …

They had found a generator that powered everything, when they had tried to connect the generator that the helicopter had brought in. Yet even with all the later technology the castle remained the same, lost in time and trapped in a warp in time.

Mitchell’s expressions barely ever altered but now showed there was trouble ahead, and some of the time he was in deep thought not quite mentally there.

Bryson wondered if any of them had been confronted with such crimes before, and why they had?

In fact, after a careful examination of all the people there he realized that he and the two psychic researchers must have the most experience, especially from the murders at the last castle! And he realized why they had wanted him there and Merton had taken Mitchell up to get him, and he realized that he could have a lot of problems ahead of him!

They were not experienced enough to conduct an investigation, and the last time it was the police that had been doing things and he had helped.

He was sure that Mitchell had some facts about the killing that he was not revealing, and he tried to think of what he would not say and what he would do! Yet there was little to go at the moment and he left it for later.

There were many hidden facts to it and he would wait until they surfaced, and stopped troubling himself.

The others were mainly discussing the death but knew little, going by what they said. They were waiting for something to occur and come to some conclusion – perhaps even waiting for an argument to occur. Then perhaps they might get some information to enlighten them about it.

Bryson gave occasional shudders from the cold that came through the opened door. His lungs felt as if they had sandpaper grated over them from breathing in the cold in his room.

Merton and Mortimer sat at his sides, silenced by the whole event, glimpsing the window as if they were waiting for something and did not want to say anything.

Mitchell turned and coughed into a handkerchief.

“I don’t understand,” Merton argued, “why someone would want to kill the guy? What did he not want us to find out by being caught in the kitchen …?”

“You could be right!” Mitchell replied. “Why did he not want to be caught so much?”

“How did a stranger know about this place? Who do you think he was?”

“I don’t know, but we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t happen again! Now knowing this place … I could imagine him easily as a lunatic …”

“Are the cops coming then?” Bryson asked, seeing the meeting there was to get everyone informed on what was happening.

“They’ll be arriving later today by helicopter!” Mitchell answered, showing the situation was nothing to do with him.

“It’s going to be really tricky explaining the place and the situation to them …?”

The police obviously might not accept the full account and of what had happened to them in the wood, and it clearly involved a horrendous crime …

Mitchell turned his face away from the fireplace and its yellow radiance flickered over his back, and Bryson watched gray wisps of smoke rising up the chimney.

“Anyway, I wanted to ask you all … Did anyone see anyone near this place?” Mitchell spoke, standing, and watching nobody move in the room, and they all nodded that they never one by one.

If it had been one of them and not a stranger then the person must have been missing when it took place and he wondered about the people that he had not seen, and from what Mortimer told them they had checked up on them and that there was at least ten people there that never came in contact with anyone when it took place, and had been sleeping, and Bryson realized that they had made a mistake by not checking them at their rooms to see if anyone had been missing, and he also realized that they never thought it was them and that they would not have gone to such lengths to carry anything out.

Bryson realized the infernal place now had a killer, who had a motive to kill for, and they and all the evidence had shown that the person could not be in the wood and was hidden away somewhere in the colossal castle, and that they would have to sleep there with him lurking in shadows.

 

Chapter 17

 

The Treasure Quest

 

The entire castle was colossal and dangerous beyond belief, even during the day, and they had checked all the stuff that they had accumulated and found there had been many occurrences and deaths during the day, and nobody seemed to want to go into the unexplored regions, where they also thought the killer lurked.

So when they started their investigations of the castle it was in search of the treasure there and was organized by Mitchell and he brought all his men, with Bryson and the two psychic investigators, and some scientists and archaeologists, who were curious what was in the unexplored regions.

They had been no further than the central region, and region that they slept in on the second floor, so Mitchell’s idea of going to the central region of the top floor was really interesting.

Bryson climbed the stairs studying everything, while curiously watching Mitchell as he followed him up and occasionally listened to everyone else behind him, and Bryson noticed that his surroundings seemed to get dirtier the further up they went and by the time they reached the top they were sweeping giant webs away, which seemed to increase in size, and he started to consider there being dangerous spiders there.

“Well,” Mitchell finally announced, breaking his silence. “We now know that killer has not been here! Though there must be other staircases up here, so we still have him being about as a problem.”

They entered the top floor and it looked incredible to Bryson. It was like another world and like seeing a real haunted place, place where supernatural existed, and he considered it as being either one of the only places like it on the planet or one of the most powerful places on the planet.

The corridor had to be the most ghostly darkest places he had seen, and with freezing cold and snow it was even more still, silent, and empty of life as was possible. Even with the lights on there were strange haunting dark shadows and glows that held secrets and dangers!

Some of Mitchell’s men insisted in announcing their being there clearly to the killer, if he was up there, and they insisted in leaving him until the police arrived. And even though it was one of his men and he had directly attacked them, he had escaped and it was a police matter! Though he was sure most of them actually still intended to do something when they could!

They grouped closely together and wander down the corridor in the one direction with startled and amused faces as they searched its interior, with faint thoughts of what it would be like there at night. The place to everyone there seemed to be the source of all the occurrences in the wood, and it at times was like being in a central area where something existed that was more powerful than anything else there, and perhaps on the planet, and the stuff in the wood avoided going there because of its power and that they were being checked and it had hidden intentions to do things with them.

The treasure being hidden away there was like something were using it to lure people there to their deaths, and he wondered again if he would survive this adventure!

Merton wandered about offering anyone next to him a cigarette, and spoke to them confidently, and they gave startled expressions at their surroundings and what he actually worked as and a famous leading investigator of psychic occurrences.

Mitchell, Bryson noticed, was giving them confidence and his wisdom in carrying out the task ahead, while gently persuading them to do what he wished, and use their powers of deduction to find clues or anything there. There main motivation seemed to be money, and they were all positive that was what motivated the killer there.

As they passed different rooms it became clear that nobody had been there in many decades. Cobwebs and dirt just about shrouded everything they met with!

Nothing showed any clues to what Bryson wanted, and it made little sense.

The killer had to be ruthless and carefree to have done it in the way that it had been done, especially to one of Mitchell’s men. The person had done it under their noses! Yet it could indicate that he never knew them or what they were like?

From the looks that that he caught he knew that the incident had affected them all. Some of them were argumentative when they mentioned the dead guy, and he was sure that they had not found any major clues.

Bryson touched his sore forehead with his fingers feeling if the coldness had sunk into his brain.

He saw that it had still stopped snowing and that there was a good chance, according to a forecast, that the weather would stay that way until the night.

He wondered if the place had actually turned people insane! He wondered if the killer had an interest in anything else and if they were thinking of him as being only after one thing.

A loud helicopter thud gradually emerged away in the distance, and they all grew silent and considered the arrival of the police, and at a window Bryson and some of the others watched it and another three helicopters arrive, making them even change their interest there to below the castle, where they landed, and Bryson watched the faces of all the police and people connected with them get out and looking about slightly amused but mainly very curious, and some actually knowing some things about the place, and he heard some of their communications blaring out as they told of their arrival and what the place looked like.

The police had a hard time realizing what they were dealing with, and Bryson listened to the person he was sure was in charge of everything. He had clearly been communicating with the police elsewhere in his helicopter.

“We can separately look about more,” Merton declared, clearly losing interest with looking out the window. “We can cover more ground …”

They all split up more and into groups, going into rooms more, and searching more.

Bryson marched away himself straight to where he thought one of the main rooms was, which was larger and unusual, and he was sure it belonged to the owner that had reconstructed the castle, if he had even lived there or had it built for him before his death.

It was incredible how fast Mitchell rushed after him, and he watched Merton follow him, seeing it was the most interesting place to go.

The others mainly agreed to search the corridor and to check paintings and antiques, which were really ancient and valuable looking, especially being there and covered in such dust and dirt.

The door to the room at first seemed locked when Bryson reached it, before the other two had made it to him, and he quickly confirmed it was locked before trying to shove it in.

“Curious!” Mitchell muttered. “Very curious! It’s got a lock and it’s locked!”

Merton ducked and stuck his eye to the keyhole and moved back, and asked, “We could wait and try to find a key, which may not exist, or we could just break in?”

“Let’s break in!” Mitchell quickly replied first. “What’s in there could be of great value! And if we leave it someone else could get here first! This place is getting more and more people …”

“Alright!” Bryson replied. “The door can be replaced anyway, if it’s of any value …”

Mitchell immediately left to nearby rooms until he found what he wanted, and arrived with a large log of wood, which had been in a fireplace, and used it to smash in the lock and viciously shove it in, until the door screeched right open and Bryson saw only darkness and then windows that were covered by thick curtains, and dust flew down over them as they moved in and they entered like they were entering a tomb.

The mess was shocking! Webs and fungus had shrouded everything and an ancient bed was left rotted away within the room, with small amounts of ancient furniture around the edges of the large room, and Bryson attempted to age it all but never succeeded.

“The owner liked a large bed,” Merton muttered, humorously, examining its remains, watching a dust cloud from their entrance float in beams of light, from streaks of sunlight from the window where Mitchell started opening the curtains, trying not to destroy the rotted remains of them, and looking out at the wood from there with some fascination!

They then crept around the room watching his fascination of the wood, and his drawing all the areas of interest in a vague map, and listening to their creaks and cracks from the floorboards.

Bryson’s attention fell on the bed again trying to imagine what age it was, and he realized it was early twenty-century technology.

When he moved back he saw the humorous side of what they were doing. The place interested him and he liked such places and their history, imagining all the past events and people who had been there, and all the many hours and days and thoughts that they had, and he wondered what the future would hold for it and fantasized being in a time machine shooting through the depths of time. What would the future be? And what would the outcome of their investigations there be? What would the future be now that the murder and all the police were there? Was this the end of the desolation of it? Or could the place become so deadly that they would have to isolate it from humanity?

He saw a small drawer under the legs of the remains of a wardrobe in the corner of the room and saw it had not been seen, and investigated it with interest, while he considered the room from different perspectives. He wondered if the people had just slowly left there or had been forced out by the occurrences there, or had they died there?

The stiff drawer revealed it was full of old clothes and he looked through and man’s clothes considering what he had been like.

Mitchell never investigated anything any further and assumed that they had found what they were going to, while Merton copied Bryson and still searched unusual places and objects that he came to, and looked under a small gap below the bed.

“This place is gruesome!” Bryson muttered. “This place must have been the biggest castle in the world when it was built! And it could have had one of the richest people too! It must have been the most magnificence building to live in at one time, with luxury beyond other people’s wildest dreams! And look at what it ended up like! One of the worst deadliest places on the planet!”

He wondered if something might occur to mankind in hundreds of years with the world turning desolate like the castle! Could this be really what happens to the whole of civilization one day? Will the remains of the human race end up living in the remains of everything, treating it as desolate gruesome remains of an ancient race obsessed with size and power, building immense structures for unknown strange reasons?

“An incredible place with an even more incredible history!” he remarked, flicking webs away from him.

“Do you think that we made a mistake being here?” Merton asked, seeing his change of feelings. “This place is cursed with deaths … And not just one or two people at a time …!”

“A ruthlessly place with many lost secrets that does not like people staying in its locality for too long …”

“Let’s check somewhere else!”

As they left they were amazed at how far the others were going to search the place, and even Mitchell gave a surprised look at what some of his men were doing and that they were frantically yanking up floorboards all over the place, as well as in specific places.

When they walked further up Mitchell was even more surprised and stood with his mouth open, and one of his men whispered something in his ear and he realized something and nodded back in agreement, making Bryson wonder what they had realized and had turned frantic over.

“A good way!” Merton revealed. “We can get this place searched properly if they all carry on like this.”

When they moved along the corridor Bryson realized that it was a good idea and slowly started copying and helping them.

Though Mitchell allowed it he never joined in and remained ready to go to anywhere anything was occurring though.

Bryson wandered around just to see what he randomly found, and stopped at paintings and antiques wondering what they were worth. The owners were immensely wealthy and could easily have left something that could have vastly increased in value, and he studied a painting and wondered what it was worth.

He quickly phoned an old friend to see if he would value them and was surprised that he had heard about the castle and occurrences there and that it was all over the media, and he was comforted to know that they never knew the location as the police did not want to give away the location, and Bryson knew that they knew there was danger there and that people would be in danger.

His next surprise was that he was more interested than he had thought in checking the value the things there for him and Bryson sent photos of paintings and antiques when came to them, and left him to check them.

While he searched a repetitive forceful hammering appeared in the distance and occasionally interrupted him enough to stop and listen and wonder why someone was so determined to break through something.

He realized how much he liked and missed treasure hunting and quest for the discovery of the paranormal cause and the solutions, and realized why he was there more than ever. The quest, the exhilaration, and the thrill of the chase made gave him immense excitement and adrenalin rushes! He was sure there was stuff all over the place after seeing the reactions and things there!

While he considered the castle’s interior from various perspectives the sounds in the background escalated into a furious rummaging and banging, which made everyone about him stand alert and listen. What was happening? What had they missed by not checking there? The people behind the sounds sounded as if they had really found something and were trying breakthrough to something to get it.

Bryson stood next to Merton and watched a room far along the corridor where there was a cloud of dust was coming out, and heavy thuds were accelerating louder, almost climaxing and the people were about to uncover something and they marched quickly there, and the others around them joined them.

“What the hell have they found there!” one of Mitchell’s men finally moaned out loud, glaring ahead.

Bryson followed behind him and watched the room – where the cloud of dust increased and moved along towards them, and they heard and felt shudders going through the walls and sounds of boulders crashing across the floor.

Their looks changed from bewildered glances to observing everything as they approached it, and they looked in the doorway and saw chunks of rock and pieces of plaster scattered everywhere across the room and Mitchell and his men crowded around an area of the floor where there was a large black hole, which they had smashed the floor away to reveal.

They had discovered something concealed below the stone floor beneath the wooden planks. Perhaps after they had discovered that the ground under the floorboards had given a hollow tone, but when he questioned Mitchell he told them that when they had lifted the floorboards there that they found that the stone floor had a hole in it, where it had caved in, and that they had seen a chamber below.

Bryson measured the floor with amazement and realized that he had not even considered it, even after being in the last castle. It was phenomenal how thick the floor between the top floor and the lower floor was and he had not noticed it, and it even looked large enough to conceal something, and he recalled what William Randall, the builder of the castles, was like and had done in the other castle.

Yet why had he gone to such lengths to conceal this one? Was there any connection between it and the disturbances that had occurred at the place?

Mitchell’s men viciously smashed heavy hammers against the thick stone and chunks of it crumbled away and crashed down beneath the floor, while the others got ready to climb down.

 

Chapter 18

 

The Hidden Chamber

 

A deep thud echoed down when Bryson jumped down into the chamber below, through the hole, landing on all the debris that they had smashed in, and he watched Mitchell and his men looking around with a single torch and Bryson looked up and out the hole at the faces of the others glaring down, interested but remaining there until more lights arrived.

It was hard to figure out why it was so valuable to them and why it was even anything, although in the last castle it had been, and he started looking for proof that it was more than part of the structure of the castle.

The ebbing radiance of the torch clearly was not enough to allow more of them to see properly at any proper distance and they moved gradually while checking everything, and Bryson followed scarcely grasping the concept of why such things had been built, and recalled in the last castle they had been used as hiding places and escape routes from being attacked and overcome by enemies.

He had only one fact to prove and that because it was in the castle it might have been part of its defense against invaders! So he searched everywhere for clues that people had been supposed to stay in it and all he saw were chimneys and supporting walls as his eyes slowly adjusted to the vague light.

The height of it was low and they were crouched over to avoid hitting their heads against the above floor and they crept through the dirt and building debris, while sounds took strange tones, and he strained his eyes more trying to see further in, but there were no features of anything.

After a great deal of time they wandered around and the new lights arrived and surprised them as they were able to see away into distant regions all around them, and one of Mitchell’s men suddenly shouted and they all followed his gaze to a strange shape away in the distance, and one of the men shone his light directly on it and revealed a large square object.

While they shifted there it became clear the place had not been used as a hiding place, unless it could have been going to be one or the builder had put it in to convert into it if they had needed it.

They approached the object slowly and Bryson wondered where they were under, at the above floor, and tried to grasp what would be there. Was it hidden away or was it part of the structure of the castle? His examinations of it at a close range gave him little to go on other than it was made of gray stone and square, but when they finally approached the thing it became clear it was the square end of a tomb, and if they had seen it from a front angle they might have recognized it.

They examined small writing on the side of it but the stone had deteriorated and it was too dirty and dark and none of them could identify any of it.

Bryson took out a piece of paper and drew a vague plan of where they had traveled giving the exact angle and distance that they had walked from the entrance hole for him later to find where the tomb was actually under, and he realized there had to have been an entrance nearby as someone would not have taken such a bulky heavy object across any great distance. They were practical people, which he had proven in the last castle as well.

He searched around looking for it above and found a large slab entrance hidden in dirt on the above floor in front of the tomb.

“What’s that?” Mitchell asked, hardly seeing him, too busy trying to find clues on the object.

“I worked out that they had to have had a nearby entrance to get that down here …” he replied, shoving the thin slab up and sideways, out of the way, and examined the floorboards over it and found that they were not nailed down there, but fixed together, and he carefully removed them and pushed the carpet over it up, ripping the areas of it up where it was nailed down.

Sunlight from outside beamed down through the above room through the entrance, lighting everything around them, and Mitchell’s men congratulated it and some of them left through the hole, and Bryson climbed out to see where it was and was surprised that it was over the central region, where it had been in the last castle.

He searched about for anything else but only found that it was faraway in the opposite direction than they had been searching in, and he climbed down to the tomb when they started to lift the lid off. Then he wondered who was buried there and why they had been placed there? And he gasped when he recalled all the disturbances and deaths that had occurred there?

“Who will it be?” Mitchell asked, astonished, looking at the tomb, seeing if Bryson had any idea.

“I do not know!” he replied, moving over to his side at the side of it, standing as though he were standing at the front of an altar, which amused Mitchell.

As they started to shove the thick slab covering the tomb onto the floor Bryson examined the writing on the tomb again and cleaned away as much dirt as he could by washing it in water, from a bottle he borrowed from one of the men, and he started to see vague outlines of the writing but could not fully understand it, and took photos of it to examine afterwards.

“Check that stuff later,” Mitchell moaned, amazed at the sight of the cover of the tomb moving from the tomb.

Something stopped the lid being shoved any further again and they gave it a quick heavy shove pushing it only slightly sideways, and it seemed fixed in position, and it needed much more force to shift it or the heavy block of stone would have to be lifted off it.

Before they lifted it one of the men from above climbed down with a crowbar and they used it to shift it sideways again, and as Bryson rested and the cover went over onto the ground his sight fell on a skeleton, and he wondered if any of them knew it might be one of his ancient ancestors, as it could very well have been a descendant or relative of William Randall, his ancestor, and why he had been at the other castle in the first place.

 

Chapter 19

 

The Ancient Tomb

 

Most of the words on the tomb were by all means to do with William Randall but words were missing and they were in riddles and were only comprehensible to someone who would have known the things that they suggested.

The skeleton had to be someone connected to William Randall or the original people at the castle, and it might be the only source of any information about the occurrences and treasure.

“Do you get any of it?” Mitchell pleaded, seeing him intensely examining the words on the tomb again, after he saw little in the tomb itself, and he had stayed watching him crouching in front of the tomb reading over what he could, trying to find something.

All of it was confused, and it was turning to a disappointment, and Bryson nodded in disagreement and stood up and ignored it.

Mitchell and he moved around looking baffled, as well as tired, and examined the skeleton again.

“What do you think they buried this here for?” Mitchell asked, probing, curious and looking for more.

Bryson rested and never replied and as he did his sight fell on the skeleton, and he wondered if he should react to having the privilege of encountering a great ancestor, and he saw that it had the same height as he had.

Traces on the skull showed that he had had similar looks too!

Mitchell grew annoyed and poked it, and it moved and shifted position and he saw something sparkle as it did, and Bryson stuck down his hand at where it was in a pile of dust in the center of the skeleton and he probed through its bones and felt an object, and he pulled it out.

“What do you think?” Mitchell asked, trying to see what was there.

He cleaned the dirt, which was encrusting most of it, and found that it was a large ring, and he started polishing it with a cotton handkerchief that he had in his pocket and revealed an expensive ancient large diamond gold ring, and he examined the diamond realizing that it had been it that had sparkled.

The large size of it was peculiar and he had not seen any normal ring that size before.

“Can I see it?” an archeologist asked, which one of Mitchell’s men had brought over, and he swiftly shifted in beside him, and put out his hand. “I’ve seen something like that before …”

Bryson handed it over seeing that he knew something, and the archeologist twisted and unscrewed the area that held the diamond, and removed it from the ring.

“People concealed small objects in them,” the archeologist stated. “Just below the jewel!”

His fingers probed in it and he removed a small piece of paper!

 

Chapter 20

 

The Secret Map

 

He unfolded and stretched it out, perhaps done for the first time in hundreds of years, and someone shone a light over it and its details became clearer and some of the men grouped around him, and they examined it.

“It’s an old drawing of this castle,” Mitchell replied first, seeing something that confirmed his beliefs.

But Bryson realized that it was more than that and that it was an ancient plan of it from a side view, showing where something was, and he knew it because it was so important that the person had it hidden in the ring, and he had seen something similar in the other castle. It had far more detail, and more than what it had looked like when first seen, and it was an accurate map of the interior.

Bryson’s thoughts went wild and he wondered what they had been up to! The other castle was just a place haunted, but this place in places never made sense anywhere! What did they find? What were they doing here? And why were there so many secrets involved?

Mitchell took it, and held it over his light, and he and Bryson considered the faint lines for a moment. He tried to realize what he had been like. What had he actually been like? And what had he thought of the castle?

“Could be anything to do with the treasure?” one of the men finally asked, desperate for clues.

They examined it for clues to its identity, and why it was there!

It could be more valuable as assumed but on the other hand it could be anything! They studied it from different angles, until they started losing interest.

“That looks like a faded cross marking something?” the man that had asked if it could be anything to do with the treasure asked, pointing at a very faint cross that he had found.

Bryson was surprised that he had not seen it, and that the others never seemed to have noticed it.

“Where do you think that is?” the man finally muttered, like he knew where it was and wanted to confirm it.

“It’s on the top floor and surely not far from here!” Mitchell finally answered, seeing they were not coming out with anything. “So let’s go and have a check …”

After a few seconds of examining it the others started climbing out, into the room above, and Bryson put it away in his pocket.

The ring was valuable and could well prove there was more, and showed they had wealth, which he had known already by the massive castles and estates, and last treasure they had found. Yet he could not work out why there would be two treasures!

As he climbed out he vaguely wondered how safe the castle structure itself really was, and if it was safe to be in, as it had been built by ancient craftsmen with only a basic knowledge. Who would know if they had only designed it to last a few decades at the most? Yet if it had stayed up the amount of time that it had it must be strong enough not to collapse! They could have easily built it to last! He had only seen castles with no roofs that were crumbling away, and he had never heard of one such as it falling. Yet he had heard of parts of modern structures collapsing!

As they walked along the corridor Bryson noticed some signs of value in paintings, and took photos of them. There could even be a connection between something in them and the clue!

 

Chapter 21

 

The Discovery

 

What Bryson was surprised at was how easily and firmly they had identified where the mark on the map was in the castle, and he had not even considered that it had been when they had arrived there!

The man who had found the mark on the map seemed to be the best at it, and they all looked at the rooms there.

As Bryson examined the best places to look he remembered the plan of the castle and removed it, and he started trying to see what the mark was at, and he suddenly noticed the man that had found the mark and Mitchell were measuring the floor in the corridor, outside the rooms, and he wondered what they were thinking.

The map looked different in the light from outside at a window, and he saw things that had not been recognizable before and it slightly surprised him, as he had expected it to have dulled lines and blemishes, especially because of its already bad condition and ancient age.

Bryson glared, partially blinded by a sudden illumination from the sun, and its powerful glare from the snow. Then when it decreased he saw more detail and faint lines that had faded and that had not been visible before, and he wondered if the others had seen stuff that he had not seen there, and why they never bothered asking to see it again?

He studied things on it astonished at missing them and saw where the exact location of the small cross mark was marked at the castle, even though it was so faint that he could easily have taken it to be a badly drawn mark or correction rubbed away.

Yet though he knew that it was something its size was not big – it looked too small to be significant – and it was not just a bad drawing as it had been carefully drawn there! And he considered why the person had gone to such lengths to draw it so well into the sketch, and wondered how the man in his tomb had died and what the person had been like, and why he had been buried there?

Bryson stood up and joined Mitchell and some of his men measuring the room, who took it that he knew what they knew.

Bryson gradually realized what he had missed and that there was a large distance between a room wall and the wall in the room next to it, and when he knocked the wall it did not sound as solid, and it was not as solid as the stone walls in the other rooms.

He was sure a small chamber existed there, and wondered why it had been hidden away, and why they had been so secretive and had marked it on an old map?

Nonetheless, how could they check it? Where could the entrance to it be? It could be sealed, but there could be a way to climb into it!

Bryson considered it for a moment and realized that was what Mitchell was considering, and he wondered if he would knock a hole in the wall of the room where the map cross had been marked? Their faces still some showed puzzlement, indicating that he had a problem and had not realized how best to get into it.

Bryson started tapping the room wall and listening to see how hollow it was in different places.

Mitchell decided to do more, suddenly looking more energetic!

“It would be a shame to ruin this wall,” Bryson explained, considering the hole that they had made in the floor to enter the chamber beneath the floor. “It could make a hell of a mess!”

The man who had found the mark on the map suddenly used the opportunity to show them what they were missing and went over to the corner of the room and lifted up the edges of the wallpaper, showing them that there was, in fact, a gap going around the entire wall, and looked like a large crack and was deliberately concealed.

“What do you think it is then?” Bryson asked, confused, not fully grasping what it was or what he was explaining it was.

“We’ll need to find a way to tug it out from the side at the door as the hinges are at the other side,” he replied, and Bryson shrugged and decided to wait for him to show him what he was talking about.

He went to different places of the wall examining the crack and inserted a tool into the gap, which allowed him to grip the wall and yank it slightly outwards, proving nothing was holding it, and Bryson recalled an inner library that they had found at the last castle, and realized that the wall was really a giant doorway concealing something behind it, and he helped the man pull it out, and soon realized that it opened out on hinges at the opposite side.

It opened out like a giant door revealing a hidden chamber full of old books and scrolls, and Mitchell’s men saw value in the books and the information they could hold, and Bryson wondered why the map had it marked on it and why someone would keep just books as a secret?

 

Chapter 22

 

The Police Investigation

 

A bright large fire burning furiously in the fireplace in the lounge enticed Bryson in and to a seat, where he intended to rest and go through all the things that they had found in detail, and he was sure he missing things and that he would realize them now, while resting on his own.

Yet as soon as he sat down three of the policemen marched in, and looked him over!

The heat from the fire made the central policeman’s eyes bulge out as they entered further in, making their way to the fireplace, and Bryson saw he was the policeman in charge there.

“So you’re Bryson!” he exclaimed, looking about him. “I’m Lieutenant Spelman. I’m in charge at the moment …”

“Have you found anything?” Bryson asked, becoming interested, examining their official clothing, wondering what they would make of the disturbances there, and wondered if they had encountered anything or what they had heard and thought of it.

“Where are the others?”

“They’re at the top floor rooms,” he answered authoritatively.

“They’ll all be back down soon?” he asked.

“I don’t know when they’ll be down! But I’m sure most of them will be down soon … It’s dark now! Have you found anything out about the death of the man in the kitchen?”

“Various things! But we don’t have the killer yet!”

“So have you found any fingerprints or DNA?”

“You’re one of the scientists here! This place is strange!”

“Strange? Stay here long enough and I’m sure you’ll never see anything as strange again!”

The policemen showed signs of confusion and surprise, but Bryson was sure that they had been informed of some of the things that had happened there or had already seen something. He was sure someone in the ex-military men with Mitchell had been telling them what had happened. It was also them that had called the police in and he was sure one of them also knew them.

In distance Bryson realized that there were noises of trouble, and action by the police, and he realized that something was happening, especially going by the reactions of the police in the room, and a policeman rushed in the door.

“We had him but he escaped!” he hollered, breathing faster. “We know where he went and two of our men are going after him!

“We were investigating the castle where his footprints were and we found him at the floor of a room. He escaped down a tunnel there!”

They followed him out and they rushed over to the room, and Bryson sensed that he was going to be in danger of getting it!

At the side of the room the carpet had been rolled over, and the person had removed a hidden entrance to a tunnel and had escaped without covering it over, and Bryson heard scrambling movements and panic-stricken voices deep in it, where the police were clearly chasing the killer out towards the wood.

It was worse than he had imagined! More police were rushing in determined for action, and they were contacting the rest of the police force, and he now positively knew that they never knew of the dangers out there and that great danger was there! And yet if he told them, warned them, he not only knew that it would be a mistake, it could very well make things far worse.

He just did not know what to do and was too tired, and he hoped that Merton and Mortimer would appear and help prevent things escalating further.

Then he realized that they might be able to catch the man before he left the tunnel, and he thought he could either catch him or make them go faster, and he rushed into the tunnel with the others.

“That guy was sneaking around up there!” Bryson gasped, speaking to a policeman at his side.

“If he escapes we may never have a chance to get him again.”

“Let’s go as fast as we can!” Bryson announced, checking his watch.

He swiftly led them deeper into the tunnel, surprising them with how fast and experienced he was in going through tunnels.

He surely did not have that much of a head start! If they moved fast enough they might catch him in the wood.

He gasped at the fact that they could end up going miles into the wood with those things there, as his footprints were guaranteed to be there and force them into getting him. Yet if they moved far faster than him they might capture him first before anything happened. It had only just turned dark!

As he rushed on he studied the walls of the tunnel amazed at the workmanship and that it had been manufactured like the other tunnels that they found there, and he wondered if the guy knew the people that had made it.

As he grew tired he thought the police in the tunnel would just give up. Yet he was sure that they could catch him! He wondered what he looked like, and what he was up to? He also knew that the police would be using helicopters and wondered what would happen there, and if he used a hideout?

From one of the communicators behind him he learned that it was now snowing heavily above and over the whole region, and he happily knew it would cover his trail in the wood, if they could not get there before him entering deep into the wood. They had to be as fast as they could! This could be the only chance to get him!

As he heard the police not that far ahead of him he realized that they had not been in a tunnel before and that they were going slow, trying to see what was ahead, and he gasped as he suddenly heard the police communicators stop work, from the disturbances in the wood.

Bryson regulated his breathing, blowing out steam through beams of torchlight, and rushed on and on, as he searched for obstacles ahead.

He felt surprisingly awake now, with no need to sleep, and he felt things could be successful and he intended to increase their pace further.

So when the police ahead of him in the tunnel appeared, now going very slowly, they allowed them to pass, almost not believing that they could capture the killer, probably put off by the length of the tunnel.

While they continued Bryson saw that they were following them, at the back, and he realized that he was now at the front and that the killer could even be nearby, and suddenly realized why they had been so happy to allow him to pass and he realized that he never even knew if the police directly behind even had guns.

It was hideous! It could be anyone and the guy could be far more different from what he accepted, especially going by what this place had come out with so far.

He definitely did not want to confront him in the tunnel as he could easily shoot him as there was nothing to give him any cover, and it was better to wait until they were outside. Even though that could mean him escaping or dragging them through the wood in something like a gun battle!

His eyes stayed on the most distant part of the tunnel, searching for him, waiting for him to take a shot at them or to attempt to ambush them.

When he recognized the steps to get out the tunnel he sprinted there, and when he approached them he considered what to do next and realized how easily the killer could be waiting for them to climb out of the tunnel. He knew that they were chasing him, and had to have heard them as they had not tried to conceal them being there, and going by the distance the police in front of him were he considered him not far ahead.

Bryson rushed up the stairs and waited, and the others appeared behind him with startled faces, and he realized that at least he might have talked them out of doing something stupid, and was amused to hear some of them wondering who the hell he was.

“Well, what will we do now?” one of them asked, panting slightly, looking at him as though he was crazy.

“We’d better have the police with guns here! We don’t know what this guy could do!”

Once the police moved to his side Bryson climbed out into an immense blizzard, with the snow blanketing his entire surroundings, almost in complete darkness, without any lights, shifting into deep snow, considering everything that he was up against, attempting to observe any place he could see, and wondered if the killer could possibly see him.

He listened through the howl of the wind and all that he heard was the trees being blown around, and he looked for a place to take cover and move over to, and one of the policemen appeared at his side and shone his torch about, and though the wood became visible, he could barely see anything else.

“There is part of his footstep!” a policeman announced, pointing, and they realized that they could not follow him, as there was only part of one footstep there.

 

Chapter 23

 

The Space/Time Gateway

 

Once Bryson arrived back at the top floor that night after resting and having a meal he instantly realized that they had found something else, and he saw Mitchell and his men standing around a large hole in the floor in front of the bookshelves.

“We just dug through,” Mitchell announced, in excitement, as Bryson arrived, glaring, and Mitchell shone his light around the large hole, where they had removed floorboards and smashed in a stone entrance slab.

“When did you find it?” he replied, wondering what was there, realizing it probably was what was marked on the map, and that the bookshelves were covering it up.

“We found it only an hour ago!” Mitchell replied.

“How did you find it?”

“Some of the men, who were still exploring the chamber with the tomb, found the area below here was surrounded and hidden by a thick wall … And we found a sealed entrance over it …”

“What’s down there?” Bryson asked, trying to see in it.

“There’s stairs … They go down below somewhere!”

Mitchell entered first, using his light to see the ancient steps going straight down, and Bryson followed, surprised that the tunnel and stairs fitted into the massive walls in the floors below.

Bryson watched Mitchell moving down making sure he never slipped, and a deep thud echoed down from behind, and he saw that only one other man followed him, and he realized that it was a good idea only having the three of them as the ancient derelict castle steps might not be able to support more weight.

The ebbing radiance of the light was not enough to allow more than three to go safely down either, and he tried to grasp the concept of the tunnel and he imagined the outside of the castle, as he had seen it, and tried to recall the place where they were on it, and where they were going. He was sure that it might have been part of its defense against invaders!

Sounds from behind altered and echoed down giving muddled and strange tones, and he had to strain his eyes more and more to see what he was doing, what Mitchell was doing, and occasionally look back at Mitchell’s man behind him, who was the man that had seen the cross map on the map, which had led them there, and he wondered why he was so keen to find what was there.

He saw little below and that there were no new features of anything, and that the tunnel’s small shape (less than a meter all around him) vanished into the dark.

The steps descended sharply and hazardously and they had to climb down slowly, rather than walk down like with normal stairs, and he had to hold himself upright and lean backwards, and its drop seemed perpendicular at times.

Once he thought he heard distant movements from below, surrounded by their growing surges of strange sounds, and he was sure Mitchell reacted, just ahead of him, with the light oscillating irregularly. Its light swayed over the stone, and the narrow shaft seemed to vanish at a point below.

A feeble glow from something reflecting light caught his attention and he wondered what was there to reflect it, and he saw what looked like a crack in a wall, between the castle stones, and when he looked down he realized Mitchell had vanished!

At first he thought he never saw him as his light had gone, and that he had broken it and that they would have to return, but as he moved down an explosion of colors exploded out from something stunning him, and he opened his eyes and studied his surroundings and saw that he was no longer in the shaft, and as he confusedly studied his surroundings a colossal whirlpool of shifting outlines magically shifted about him and he realized that he had no body or proper presence, and was some form of energy formation.

 

 

 

II

 

The Voyager and Treasure

 

 

Chapter 1

 

The Supernatural Vortex

 

Energy beams exploded at Bryson as he gained consciousness, covering his entire vision with bright colored light, and he studied everything that he could see wondering where the hell he was! A colossal vortex of shifting outlines magically shot by and he analyzed it in greater detail and proved that he could not realize what or where it was, or even what he now was!

His presence was some form of force formation, and he swirled out into a vortex of reshaping energy patterns that had replaced reality, and he wondered if he could be trapped there for all eternity, and he ignored it and realized that he was no longer bothered and wondered what his future would be like.

He studied a surreal splendor of mind-bending displacements and saw that they were altering to something that he could not recognize. All of his knowledge of science and universe gave him little and it left him mesmerized! Was he even classified as being a life form? His knowledge of what was beyond the universe was little and he felt like he was about to explore something far greater and mind-boggling than he could have ever imagined!

Questions started emerging and he mainly wondered how he could observe anything? If it actually was light there what was he using to perceive it? Yet he recalled the mind-bending dreams that had experienced in the castle and being in a supernatural vortex, and he started to realize that it had to be it or something similar.

Even though he never actually had anything he still felt glad he had some form of recognition of what it was and tried to work out what it did, how it worked, and where it might go to!

While he was considering what would happen next he spotted a miniature circle of flames buried away in the central region ahead of him, and he grew more and more interested, and he started to recognize more detail as it grew and was astonished as he shifted into it, and within its depths he saw what looked like magnificent colossal stars, in a golden haze, blending into his surrounding brilliant colors.

Spectacular golden beams exploded out, and gold stars shot by, and he realized the tremendous speed that he was traveling at, and a region of golden space was expanding out all across his front, and he floated into it.

He saw his body emerge with a new formation and start transforming, and sensed there was something far more different about it, and he saw a strange transparent world formation emerge, with ghost images going through the swirling golden brightness.

Magnificent bright white and gold lights filled his entire vision everywhere, shifting around everywhere, as if he were floating into some form of cartoon cosmos.

Where was he now? Was he actually in one of his dreams he had been at the castle? It was incredible! Would he be able to solve all those queries he had accumulated? At an early age, when he had first visited the first castle, he had experienced the dreams and mysteries buried away there!

Large objects, he was sure were stars, dazzled him with their brightness. Their density together filled space everywhere and yet they never came into contact with each other, staggering him that they could even exist in their state, without being pulled together.

The whole of space around him had the objects shifting and visibly shooting around, and he observed them with curiosity, and as a scientist. He had to answer what was there as much as he could! He was sure that they avoided courses that would make them crash into other objects, and he finally spotted one actually altering its course to avoid hitting another and was dazed and confused that such an object, if they were suns or the size of suns, could have intelligence and the ability to alter their course through space, and he considered what they were and did.

He exploded with excitement when he searched behind him and saw the vortex he had come out of stretching across space, and he tried to grasp what it was and realized the immense speed that he had been traveling at, and was still moving away at.

The size of vortex looked close to the size of a solar system and the vision staggered him and stuck in his mind!

Over a great deal of time he dreamily partially entered a form of sleep state, shooting through the surrounding emptiness, through the surreal space, far from the universe, out beyond reality.

Obscure illuminations endlessly shifted as he wildly spun around, with no real awareness of anything, and a tranquil shape gradually emerged across his front, of something of brightness, and he came to sometimes to study it.

How had he managed to end up in such a far-out place? Where the hell was he? How could he survive this? He was barely a ghost/energy state in some far out mind-bending place, and he considered if he was actually in the castle in a dream state!

He felt as though he had been falling through something and he tried to grasp the concept, and where, and suddenly realized something was blowing at him from somewhere and he saw, hidden away in intense brightness, he was plunging down to some form of world under him.

He was over some form of water! He was sure of it! And he was falling out of its sky!

He prepared himself for everything that he could think of and a roaring and blinding surge of what looked like invisible water or form of energy hit him and he automatically put out his arms, swimming upwards and pulling himself out of the endless depths, where he saw star objects through at the other side of the world.

 

Chapter 2

 

The Mind-Bending Universe

 

He continually kept going over everything that had happened! All the supernatural occurrences that they had encountered as they had approached the castle, exploring the wood surrounding the castle, and the strange mists and lights there that haunted the place for centuries, and attacks by the things that emerged there, chasing them through the deep snow and into the strange tunnel that they had found that led them to the location of the castle.

Even now he could not explain what it was all caused by! What could be there and have created such a disturbance, which nobody could now deny existed? Yet he had worse things to explain now, and thought if he ever returned he would be spending the rest of his life trying to explain it all!

They had professional ex-soldiers, with Mitchell leading them, and every leading scientist in paranormal or anything connected to it, and he was a leading scientist too, with the two main psychic researchers there, Merton and Mortimer, who had explored the last castle, and found everything that they could have, and he was sure they could achieve something if given long enough.

Who had the killer of one of the ex-military men been? The police were exploring the whole region there now and he wondered what the outcome of that would be, and he gasped! They could not find a way to explain things to them to prevent them from doing something stupid there!

The most frustrating things were the search for the treasure and them finding more and more clues! They had only been searching the castle for a day and they had made discoveries everywhere! A chamber under the top floor with a tomb in it, with some strange writing on it, which he had not been given any proper time and proper examination of, and the strange skeleton inside, which had to be someone significant and be buried there for a reason – and with a ring that had a secret compartment with a map with a secret location marked on it that they had traced to a library where they had found a tunnel below – which the three of them had climbed down, with him following Mitchell down and one of Mitchell’s men following him, and then Mitchell had suddenly vanished below him and when he had climbed down had been transported into the vortex to where he was.

He had to find a way back and he constantly went over things trying to find something that he had missed!

He wondered where Mitchell was, and the other man if he had followed him there, and he wondered if it transported people to random locations? Was it the supernatural vortex that he had dreamed of in the castle? Did it have things trapped in it? Did things get transported back and forward through it? And if it did why could he not reenter it and return there?

The island, if it could be called an island, was fascinating and made of something similar to matter, and he constantly studied.

It was virtually translucent in places, as well as being slightly translucent in different degrees in other places with different colors through it, which he was sure was made of some form of new energy, with strange atoms replacing normal ones.

It was firm in places but like being on a waterbed in other places and he was glad to be on it as he had spent hours wading through its sea, if it could be called a sea, as it was nearly like thick air and he only managed to float on it due to him also being made of a similar composition. He was sure gravity existed, at least! Or was it just something similar?

It was incredible! Through the sea and areas of the land he had seen the other side of the world, if it could be called a world, and its size was close to being the same as the moon and he saw similar islands to his in different sizes and shapes, some massive and others small like his island and they seemed to float around it.

The place never needed a sun and glowed brightly with all the surrounding lights or suns in the sky, virtually covering all the sky, and he had to search for black areas of empty space to confirm they actually existed there, which he was still unable to prove.

The world also generated its own light and heat, but he could not realize how! The strange thing was it had the many of the characteristics of the normal universe and it was like it was mimicking it and as though it had some of the same forces like gravity and had formed similarly with the forces governing it.

Though his survival was an important thing he wondered if he could actually die as he never needed any food or oxygen and he was made of the same indestructible or nearly indestructible substance that everything there was made of, and he was unsure how it functioned.

The sea surrounding the shore was barely visible but had colored matter grains in it against the shore, like sand, mixing through it, and the rhythms of its waves skimming up the surface of island gave sounds like real waves and blew the form of air there in gusts like something was breathing over him, and he wondered if something was there examining him!

There were vague things in orbit and mists over the upper atmosphere that shifted, with the world’s vague rotation, and he saw some signs of its faint rain having fallen. And he put the exploration of the island as his main activity, except he had to find a way to return home!

One time he dived deep into the sea, as fast as he possibly could, and admired the surreal abyss below and enjoyed the swim, going fast and furiously into it. It was a dreamland and he treated it like a holiday, especially compared to the conditions of the castle, and he realized how bad the conditions at the castle had been and that the warmness there was ecstatic compared to the cold and snow and he wandered around enjoying the solitude and bright light, and exploring an unexplored alien world.

 

Chapter 3

 

Back in the Castle

 

Deep in dark regions and lights surrounded Bryson in his dream as it started ending and he started waking, and he caught sight of things shifting about with no form and wondered what they were or were doing there as he opened his eyes and examined the sun beaming into his castle room, and the snow falling outside.

After all he had been through the dreams still never made any sense and he still insisted in trying to examine it to find some clue to what he was missing.

The dream had been about nothing and eventually bored him, and he rested in his bed with his blankets wrapped tightly on him.

Yet the lights in the dream reminded of the supernatural vortex he had been in and he now wondered if it had anything to do with the supernatural or something else.

The dream had allowed him to forget all the events of the previous day and his return to the castle. It had been incredible! He had been exploring the shore of the island when he had found footprints, which could have only have belonged to a human put there like him, and he had traced them for hours, thinking it had to be Mitchell or his man who had been behind him in the tunnel, but he had been surprised that it had been another human.

They had talked for hours, and he had realized that the man was almost crazy in places from being stranded there for many years, and the man had loved hearing his accounts of what the outside world was like, and all the new technology that now existed, and Bryson had learned that he had been there for decades and from the Second World War, surprising Bryson with his young looks, and that he was far older and had clearly not aged.

Bryson had learned about him being in the castle and their search for the treasure there with great interest!

Even though Bryson had been surprised at his search for the treasure he was sure that he had not known much about it and had been there to help.

Both of them had thought each other had been dangerous at first but had slowly realized that they had finally met other humans, and though he had been amazed at Bryson’s accounts of the castle and the tunnel he had been surprised that there had been stairs in the tunnel and Bryson had realized that the man and his two associates had been in another tunnel and that they had been sure the treasure had been buried away there.

Yet one of the biggest surprises had been when the man finally remembered his own name again, as he had been so delirious for so long that he could not recall things about himself, and he had told him that his name was Pendleton, which Bryson had heard of in the accounts of some of the people who had vanished there.

The man’s view of the island had been startling and he had even thought that he had missed something as the man had not fully believed that he had been transported there through a vortex and had religious beliefs of what had occurred! He surely had thought he had gone into his own place in the afterlife and was unsure whether it was heaven or hell, and had beliefs that he was still being considered for both, and he had watched him regularly praying to be saved.

Yet after being there, and all that had happened, he almost felt like copying him, but had thought better of it. It clearly had not saved him for one thing!

One of the problems had been there was little to do! There was no need for food and they never got tired or slept! And if it had not been for the fact that they never felt properly bored, agitated, or, in fact, anything really, and he would have been worried!

One time they had visited a strange phenomenon on the island, which Pendleton had told him of, which was a large hole going into a hard region of the island, which seemed to go down into an abyss far below the island, which had actually looked volcanic, and had grasped Bryson’s attention as if it was volcanic it could have proven that the island had been formed in the same way as the world, and, of course, given him some form of insight into how the world had been formed and what it actually was.

Yet after a great deal of examination of the substance there he had still found nothing! There had been no sign of anything that remotely came out of volcanoes!

About a day later, when they had started to think about leaving there they had suddenly started vanishing, which had grabbed Pendleton’s attention first and the most as he had not experienced it before and he had prepared himself for years to meet something there and enter some other place in the afterlife.

They had both appeared in the castle, surrounded by scientists, to their astonishment and confusion!

How the hell did they get there? Neither of them could explain anything! Bryson could not explain anything and why they had not gone through the vortex and Pendleton could not explain anything either! And Pendleton could not even recognize the castle after such a long time! He must have been the only person in the history of the world to have been in such a place and have returned to the world after such a long time!

The simplest things confused Pendleton and his now normal human body staggered him, and he had a hard time adapting to it and having such things as feelings. He could not understand and remember what hunger was and why he grew tired, and even thought that he was ill most of the time, and occasionally gasped at what he had been missing – yet as he was still the same age as he been when he had left he still had the same amount of years that he would have had!

He also never recognized people, and they were different from what he had remembered them as, and he had not seen anything of the future! He was like a time traveler in a future world! He also thought of himself as having been put there to start over again and repent, in another attempt at entering his relished afterlife.

He spent most of his time studying everything that he met with in fascination – like he were an alien being visiting this world in the form of a human being.

 

Chapter 4

 

The Psychic Research Equipment

 

When Bryson had recovered and rested from everything that he had been through he decided to go and visit Merton and Mortimer in their new psychic research room, which was located behind the wall of the tunnel at the exact spot he and Mitchell had vanished into the supernatural vortex – where they were most likely to get the best response – and where all the action must be.

When he entered he was surprised at not only how advanced their equipment had become but at the capabilities of other stuff they had there. Their visit to the last castle had clearly given them far more of an insight and knowledge than he had realized. He was positive that they had found far more than they had indicated, and were keeping secrets from him.

What confused him the most was how they had managed to get him back to the castle! He had not thought of anything himself, and continuously tried to think of a good way to get them to tell him as they had avoided answering his and everyone else’s queries on it and were clearly hiding things. What sort of equipment could have taken him back into the castle almost instantaneously with Pendleton?

He recalled seeing Pendleton wandering around dazed exploring the inhabited region of the castle, getting use to his new body and life on the Earth. He mainly remained on his own the most of the time, as he had become use to, but was still excited to meet the others in the lounge. The police there had examined him wondering what he was doing there as they had been given strange vague replies and detailed explanations by the scientists, which had left them baffled.

Mitchell’s return had confused everyone as he had given them the strangest replies that he had heard from any of them, and he was particularly interested in where he had ended up as he had not arrived at the same place or even universe that he had, and he clearly was covering things up on what was there, which they had not been able to get why. It was in his nature not to say much and be secretive, and it was not apparent if there was anything they should know there and that he was really keeping something that they had not even imagined.

The other man, Mitchell’s man who had been behind Bryson in the tunnel, had seen and acknowledged everything that had happened in the tunnel and had returned to the top, which explained why nobody else had entered it, looking for them, and it had been him that had told the scientists what had happened and what he had seen happen, and they had immediately started work on getting him returned.

It surprised them and Bryson that only the three of them had returned, and he and them believed that the rest had all died a long time ago at where they had been located, and Bryson realized that it proved that there was no immortality in the places that they had gone and that the other places were vastly different, which could also be proven from what they had seen of the other events that they had heard of, and what they had seen existed.

Bryson believed from what he had overheard from some of the other scientists in the room that they had temporally deactivated, for a brief amount of time, what was in the tunnel with their own energy field in the room and had allowed them to return, and he was sure that it had been dangerous, which he believed was because it might cause whatever was in the castle to become more activated again as it had done at many times in the past.

 

Chapter 5

 

Reverse Sequence of the Spectral Maelstrom

 

Bryson was growing in determination to find out what they all knew that he should know, so he was glad to see Mitchell and his man who had been in the tunnel turn up at the room seeking answers to what was going on there.

Bryson examined all their equipment for clues, and recalled reading about some of the work that Merton and Mortimer had done recently, after they had given out documents of some of their investigations on the paranormal investigations at the other castle.

Their stuff had been surprising, and even alarming in places, which had drawn his attention at the time, and he had just dismissed it later as them using it to advertise their work! At times he had thought they were deliberately putting the psychic research there to cover their real work and discoveries! They never mentioned anything on the other stuff that they did, which he had found existed at many occasions, and he had hardly even seen anyone even check what they did or had created. They ignored them as being fake ghost and alien hunters!

Merton and Mortimer informed him that they were checking for virtually all known forms of energy and matter disturbances in and around the void and gateway in the tunnel and he was sure that they could have reversed what was in the tunnel instead of what he had heard earlier from some of the other scientists who thought that they had just deactivated it. They could have caused a reverse sequence of the spectral maelstrom!

By the way that they reacted he believed that they might have something that could detect aliens, so they would know if there were any about. But he was unsure and he was sure that they were unsure if it worked, and at what distance from them would it work, and he wondered if they had anything that could be used to catch them, and even catch and kill the things in the wood!

Presumable their presence could produce effects to indicate them being there – such as altering air currents, gravity, magnetic fields, radioactivity, scent, sound waves, static, and the light spectrum …

Most of the equipment in the surrounding laboratory was there to check everything in a degree that had not been done before!

Bryson finally made a proper move to find out more and moved over to some equipment that he had heard them talking of, with suggestions that they might being able to detect aliens with, and he asked Mortimer, “Would this detect an alien at a distance?”

“It may detect temperature changes at really far distances! I am unsure what temperature readings aliens create though – or if they, in fact, have any temperature here! But we do have stuff here that we use to check a whole range of things to show us exactly what is occurring and what we may be missing. Information such as it is vital! We may be able to acquire some type of insight into what is happening – with the right information?”

Bryson realized once again that he was avoiding telling about things, as he had clearly heard them mention things that he had avoided telling!

“So are you using any of the equipment in the wood?” he quickly replied.

Mortimer strangely glared at him, and asked, “What take the stuff over there? Why should you want to do that? It’s too expensive! Besides we believe that we may get the opportunity to use it in the castle!”

“To find out if we are missing something out there! Those things could kill, and they have not come up with anything to destroy them with yet! And if things go the way that they are I am sure it will! Those police could enter there later at night … If you have anything, even if it just helps locate their position, then it will be of great use …”

Bryson glared and wondered how much he had exaggerated the situation – or if it was really far more.

“That may be a good idea,” Mortimer replied after some time, still considering it. “But are you fully sure they just want to kill?”

His reply surprised Bryson and he was sure that he had forgotten all the accounts of occurrences there, and he wondered what he thought those things in the wood had been up to. Did he think that they were just animals protecting their territory or something?

“I’ve a few good ideas about that you should know …!” Bryson warned. “So when was the last time you read up on all the deaths that have been occurring around here?”

“They may have been done by something else!” Mortimer firmly responded.

 

Chapter 6

 

The Psychic Research

 

Bryson removed a container from his bag and poured the drink from it down his throat.

“Perfect!” he announced to Merton. “What type of surveillance stuff have you for detecting it then?”

“We have a great deal of stuff as we’ve already shown you! We specialize and experiment in detecting things! This is the best there is, and we love investigating anything extraordinary! Even if it is an assassin that could try to wipe us out … And we would love to help stop it …”

Bryson was surprised and wondered what he was talking about now! He knew they were hiding things, and were hiding what their equipment was and was for. Even the most craziest things that they had come out with had something!

There was something strange about the way that they insisted something of a paranormal nature existed and that it was entirely new, and had not existed in the last castle, especially after considering that he had not actually heard them come out with anything that existed there and that their work showed how accurate they were and always kept to the facts, only showing what truly was there and what they believed was there.

Bryson had a great passion for the new and fantastic and the investigation of the paranormal activity was really interesting even after him actually being in what he considered was a supernatural universe, even though he now had thoughts that it could be something else, and he was surprised that they never questioned him much, but he had realized that they had been affected by meeting Mitchell first and him avoiding saying virtual nothing about what had happened, which made Bryson very curious, and he noticed that they all had an interest in Pendleton for some reason, which he was convinced was to do with his free way of saying things, when he did talk to them. He had a hard time explaining what was there though!

The dreams of the supernatural vortex that Bryson had enlightened them about only confused them and he was sure that they thought he had imagined it and was exaggerating anything that might have existed.

The problem, he was sure, was that they never properly knew what they were up against, as it was a different castle with something else, and that they were not entirely sure what had been at the last one, and that it had not fitted into everything that they had known and had been trained to deal with, which was very vague, unexplored and unproven, and he was sure the vast amount of it had been created to fill the void of nothing occurring.

He believed there were strange phenomena that had not be fully explained everywhere and that the scientists there mainly knew it!

Could this thing they were considering as being from beyond the realms of the universe, and some form of supernatural being, actually be some form of alien? He had not fully proven that the supernatural universe that he had been in had been! Why could such things not exist with hidden science that they never knew of?

What was classed as supernatural? Anything could exist with the right science existing and he wondered if he could actually believe it if he fully encountered it!

It was incredible that nobody had fully proven and investigated anything of that nature, and that all the scientists only considered it when it was brought up, and the other castle seemed to be the only proper case of anything of that nature existing!

He and Merton and Mortimer always saw their point of view and that there was barely any real evidence! They could barely even establish anything and jumped at the chance of finding the slightest suggestion of something that actually was there, and finding new ways of detection! They were fanatics and crazy to achieve what kept proving itself as being fantasy!

They were there to investigate anything in that region that could have been missed, and missed out by other scientists who avoided checking or wasting their funds on it!

The two scientists were accurate in their investigations and checked everything that they could and had built up the most advanced paranormal research establishment that there was, containing the most highly advanced equipment that there was available, which they mainly had there.

On arriving there he had realized that they had something and that they had put together something, and they continued building a vast assembly of equipment fitted together on tables, covering the surrounding room with it, mainly surrounding and aimed at the tunnel behind the wall, with equipment and tools left everywhere, and it was clear that they had been at work building it for a great deal of time already.

The more he examined everything the more he saw and realized more, and that they might achieve far more!

All their assistants and scientists were still running about altering and adjusting things, collecting new information on things, getting old information from their records, and studying it.

Yet he could barely guess what parts of it were for, and it interested him greatly, especially with the interest of the scientists in it and their reactions to it, as though they had been waiting all their lives to create it and that they never had all their technology available before and had something with such incredible potential!

He wondered if what was in tunnel could damage the equipment that they were using and if they could fix or replace it in the near future? It was clearly expensive stuff and perhaps the only stuff available!

Other scientists were there to investigate what the scientists could not and do it to a greater degree than ever before, and he was positive by their reactions that they had never had their day and proper encounter with anything like it and achieved their goal, and that nothing surely would be left for the people who might follow their work someday, to find and be remembered in history.

If only they could just find something that had gone undetected by everyone else, with their detection methods and equipment, and have proper proof for the world!

He was staggered when he considered what they had come up with, as they had advanced far further than he had even imagined and the place was packed solid with every form of equipment possible, and it went beyond his imagination what they might do!

They had managed to transport him back there from the other universe or whatever it was, and must be the only people ever capable doing that!

It was like an experiment to them to see what would happen if they pushed further than ever beyond the boundaries of natural science and out into the supernatural.

The darkening winter night sky through the window revealed the abyss of the billions of light years of stars to Bryson and reminded him of the dangers of exploration into the unknown, and he considered what could exist in its depths, and what kind of aliens existed out there.

“Well, we have now finished our work on setting some of the stuff up!” Merton announced tiredly to Bryson, dragging himself away from his work.

It was incredible! He realized that he had been there for hours and that they still had not properly notified him what they were doing, and what it was fully for! He could not believe how long he had been there without barely noticing it and wondered if he had been damaged by being in the vortex and other universe, and he had seen that the others had seen differences in him and vaguely studied him now and then.

Merton marched over with a smile, while rubbing his tired arm.

“We are here to help!” he announced. “But we do not want all our work ruined and all our valuable stuff available everywhere before we have properly used it!”

Bryson was surprised by his reply and he did see their point of view, and considered what their thoughts of him there were!

He thanked Merton and for saving him from the tunnel.

“You now must be the most experienced on what exists out there!” Merton informed him and the others.

Bryson examined their scientists and the equipment carefully and tried again at estimating what they were doing and left it until they either told him or showed him its use, which surely was the latter and that it would be better for them to show it.

He watched them silently considering what to tell him!

“When we checked the tunnel behind that wall,” Merton stated, “we realized that we could come up with something better to use to check what it does … Well, especially after hearing and monitoring those sounds, which appeared all around this region, at specific points, and we realized that we should!”

“So you can properly check it further?” Bryson replied tiredly.

“We will be able to check it within other dimensions … And properly check those sounds …”

 

Chapter 7

 

The Dinning Room

 

Most of the people at the castle were sitting in the dinning room, chatting loudly and excitedly all around the dinner table, and Bryson walked in fascinated at how far they had cleaned the place up since the last time he had been there.

Bryson sat between Pendleton and Mitchell at the center of the large ancient circular wooden table and ate his food greedily, hungrily than he had in a long time, and realized that he and Pendleton were both eating and drinking crazily and were the only ones there doing it, and some of the others occasionally watched.

Mitchell now seemed more silent and inactive since he had left the castle and Bryson realized how much interest he had in where Mitchell had ended up, and he continually tried to think of a way to get him to say something and solve the puzzle.

Yet he could not think of anything and knew that he would avoid replying to everything!

They all jerked when two loud exploding crackles came off partly wet logs burning in the fireplace, directly in front of Bryson at the other side of the room. The heat from it could be felt warming the place and some smoke could be seen entering the room, giving the place burnt scent, which liked.

“Well, how are your two scientist friends doing?” Mitchell moaned, moving backwards in his seat, to see him better.

“They are making progress!” he replied firmly, watching Mitchell examine him and Pendleton and their eating habits.

Bryson anxiously took some soup and watched him at the corner of his eye with his chunky face examining him. For a moment, he wondered if he had found the answer to the clue or something else.

The hunt for the money was an exciting game to all of the men there and he listened to their tales of their searches for it with great interest and decided that he wished to pursue the treasure more than anything now. Mitchell’s men now seemed far too overconfident now, for some reason, and he could not establish why and realized that they were deliberately avoiding saying something, and it seemed to be Mitchell’s idea, making him wonder why. Were they on the trail of something and were they keeping things secret? But why worry about it! They would either find it or they would not. They had nothing to lose.

He was happy that they had not found it yet anyway, especially while he was not there! As he really wanted to be at least there, and perhaps hold some influence in its discovery.

There seemed be little findings and activity since they had vanished into the tunnel and he was not sure if it had been the fact that Mitchell had not been there, and perhaps him too, and that they had not known what to do without them being there or if it had been the fact that they had found everything that they could and hit a dead end, but he was sure that it had been both factors.

Why not have a good time there! Who knows they might get something else of great value at the place after all! There were many generations of eccentric owners of the castle! Things in it had been there for an immense amount of time! Perhaps some valuable antique existed hidden away somewhere!

He quickly phoned his friend on his pocket phone, and established contact with him and that he would continue his search of the castle for items and send him photos of them for him to establish if they were worth anything, and was surprised that he was still interested and excited, and told him the latest news about the murder at the castle and the police investigation there had come up with little and it was no longer appearing on the media.

Only one or two of the police were at the castle now and there because some of them wanted them there, because there was still great danger of there being a reoccurrence of the killing.

It emphasized the value of the treasure, if it still was there!

Bryson felt the warm air in the surrounding room now and relaxed against the back of his seat. The corridors and rooms were freezing compared to the room now, which he felt occasionally blow in through a gap in the door from someone further along opening an outside door.

He intermittently lifted his glass and tasted sweet white wine.

“Did they not find anything else with all that equipment that arrived here?” one of Mitchell’s men further along the table asked.

“They’ve not finished!” Bryson replied. “They were working on a lot of things! Like our return to the castle!”

“They’ve not finished their work?” Mitchell answered, reminding him again with how vague he was now.

Pendleton lifted his arm and allowed it to fall to his side, and examined a magazine that he had with him, which one of the scientists had given him, which he kept reading with fascination at the technology and things that now were available.

The whole place was mysterious to him, and Bryson also had many mysteries to solve.

Mitchell stretched his arms out, waking himself, and announced, “It’s time to start work!”

“Where are you working now?” Bryson quickly asked.

“We going to lift that tomb out … Then up through the floor from the hidden chamber … Then we’ll see if there’s anything else there! So if you’re interested …?”

Bryson nodded in agreement, realizing Mitchell wanted him there, as well as the two scientists being there, and realized that it would be a good idea to start there, where they had left off, and he recalled the words on the tomb and that he had not established what they meant.

 

Chapter 8

 

The Clues

 

When they entered the library Bryson examined the tunnel entrance, dug out from the floor and now covered over with an ancient stone slab, and Bryson sensed something unusual. But he only grasped that there was snow falling outside.

Yet something seemed different and he watched the others grouping about the table with seats, in front of the books, and he made himself familiar with his new surroundings. Most of the people there were Mitchell’s men and the archaeologists.

Bryson wondered why the books had been hidden away there anyway – in a chamber hidden behind a false wall that opened out like a door – and why someone had gone to such lengths to build it? He knew why the tunnel was hidden out of view but not why they had hidden a small castle library there.

Yet the others that had looked through the books insisted there was nothing there and he took their word for it!

He watched Pendleton gasp as he saw the covered over tunnel, and quickly acknowledge it as a different tunnel entrance from the one that he had gone down, which they had not investigated yet.

Bryson suddenly realized that the books were uneven and hanging out everywhere and that when he had passed by the room earlier that the books had been neatly placed together by the archaeologists, who had been there last, who were the only ones interested in the books, mainly to search for historic accounts of there, and going by what the others had told them.

Somebody had clearly searched through them for something, and Bryson wondered who had been there, and what had the person been looking for? The majority of the people at the castle had been at the dinning room or with the scientists.

He examined objects in the room from different perspectives trying to see if there were anything altered, but never saw anything else and started examining the books.

He eventually asked the archaeologists, “Are there any books missing there?”

They examined through them but never noticed anything so Bryson ignored it.

He wondered where the killer had gone and if he was looking for the treasure, and he started wondering why he had been so desperate to do something? Why did he not wait? Was there a trail that led to it somewhere? Had the person been trying to get something to get to it?

The treasure could be anything and he even wondered if it was the same one that had been in the other castle, and that they would be spending all their time searching for something that they had found already! The treasure could have been there and had been taken by William Randall to the other castle with him! It was only logical that he would have had it near him! Why did he have two treasures anyway?

Bryson had never heard of people having two treasure before and he considered if there was more than one person involved and that there was a second person who had been at this castle who had been a friend or relative of William Randall, and again he wondered if it had been the person in the tomb buried in the chamber beneath the floor, which they would soon go to and remove from the chamber.

Who the hell had they been, and what had they been up to? He started searching through the books with the others for information! Something had to be there and he searched what the books were mainly about and what they were interested in, and soon found out that the books never belonged to them and belonged to later owners of the castle, and the earliest had only a few books that were virtually meaningless to him and gave little.

He was sure that if the map of the castle found in the ring on the person in the tomb proved the person had been with the original people and William Randall, and that if there was information about them, it might be there after all.

There was something about hunting for hidden things that he did not like and that frustrated him! There were far too many things that suggested where things could be and that could anywhere. The mind could almost turn anything into what looked like a clue just by staring at things for long enough, if the person wanted something badly enough! They could be following false clues all the time and make major mistakes there until they left if they were not careful! He was sure, if they had not already been doing it, that they would start doing it as soon as they checked the main places and clues at the castle, with there being no real ways of finding it left.

Here they were searching books for the answer to something that could be anything, and not even exist. The amount of things that the mind could conjure up and associate with it was vast. He doubted if the treasure seekers that he had seen in movies, who had chased after clues, could have answered the clues that they had been given. Why had he never heard of anyone chasing after treasure like it? As far as he was now concerned the people who had found things had been looking for them in ships with people who had found records of there having been treasure, and which had been aboard vessels that had sunk in specific regions that they could trace – and with them not solving strange riddles to them! People found them with knowledge and traced them with technology, and spent a long time doing it, and in most cases never found anything or virtually nothing!

Yet even though they had in the last castle solved the riddles and traced the treasure! And he tried to recall his line of thought when he had found it, and the way the people at the last castle had been that had helped him discover it.

He believed people that came across treasure were incredibly lucky, in the right place at the right time.

He had never proven that people had actually followed clues ever found anything, even though that was what he intended to do, and he thought what he had done at the last castle was more like solving an ancient mystery! People endlessly chased after treasures that never existed – or with fake or unsolvable clues.

Many people had found things while looking for other things though and he could not recall hearing of any of them finding what they had been looking for when it came to major finds like the Holy Grail.

Yet a long time ago things might have been different, and if people did find them he was sure that most people would have no real reasons to report finding anything! Why would they want to? Why tell that people had actually gone about hiding treasure, leaving maps and riddles?

Would real treasure maps be incomprehensible to anyone else? Surely people would try to stop someone else getting their hands on it? Why would they write down obvious places and names that other people would know of and allow them to find it? They could easily use codes and words that other people would not be able to understand, and miss out and muddle things up making sure other people would not be able to establish things – hiding if numbers were co-ordinates or paces. They could give false clues that could easily remind them of the real ones!

The main problem was that there were no real clues or evidence of the treasure existing and that made it incomprehensible to everyone! Yet somewhere there might be another map or mention of it! They might also be able to discover the treasure itself if they searched all the key places people would put it? The archeologists and scientists had very advanced equipment that could be used.

Yet he was unsure if they could cover the whole castle!

Bryson had also been starting to believe that someone knew something that at least proved its existence! He kept sensing it and, though he had not proven a thing, he was sure that it would not take long before they found out about it!

 

Chapter 9

 

The Tomb

 

Bryson wondered how they were going to remove the tomb, as he made his way there from having something to eat. The tomb was made of solid heavy stone and he wondered if they could get enough of the men around it to lift it through the floor.

When he arrived there he was surprised at how far they had gone to do it, and knew right away it was Mitchell’s idea!

The floorboards of the majority of the room around the entrance were piled in the corner and the entrance had been increased in size to a size far greater than the tomb, surely to allow people to carry it up planks of wood, which were sloped down to the tomb to allow it to be pulled upwards.

By what they said Bryson realized that they had attempted to lift it and had been unable to get it and the men up the planks and through the entrance.

Now they were wrapping chains around the tomb and were putting metal poles across the planks of wood, going up through the entrance.

When they had finished preparing everything he watched them push and roll the tomb up the planks of wood over the poles while the others in the room helped pull the tomb up with the chains.

When it was finally up they lay about resting, and Bryson managed to get a proper look at it in the lighted room and tried to see what he had missed, but he never saw anything as the tomb itself was far too dirty and covered in debris.

What interested him most was what they intended to do with it as he could not realize why they were so desperate to get it out, as they had clearly examined it in the chamber with everything that they had, including all the scientists and archaeologists.

He started examining the tomb to see how valuable it might be, but he could not image it could worth much, unless it had historic value that he never knew about, and he wondered if they knew something there that he never and that the stuff had value somewhere. For some reason he could not imagine them being there if there was nothing with definite value there, even the treasure could be there, and he wondered if collectors might value it as being valuable for some reason that he never knew and he thought of phoning the guy he knew who was having him take photos of things to value there.

After taking a few photos of it from a few angles he sent the photos and a message to his friend, and soon received an acknowledgment of the receipt of them. He watched the others to see what their reactions would be but they just ignored him.

Archeologists arrived and got to work cleaning the tomb, and washing all the dirt from it, and Bryson wondered if they intended to make the castle famous and worth something and he wondered what would happen then – and what would happen if it remained haunted and people visited the place from all over the world.

Bryson realized that they were not properly searching the castle now! Yet even though they had agreed to concentrate in the right places and stay together out of danger it might be a mistake as they surely would start giving up after long enough! He was sure that they were best searching it as quickly as possible and covering as much ground as they could without putting themselves in too much danger, and he wished to discover all the key places and search there.

Therefore he started trying to realize where the key places were and wondered how he could safely wander about the rooms and corridors looking! Perhaps it would help solve some of the mysteries there that had accumulated over a long time and since they had arrived.

For a long time he had wanted to investigate somewhere like the last castle as he had missed it greatly and he could not believe he actually had another to investigate. He had always wanted to search the other castle when he had been younger! He had been unable to do it for years as the servants there had kept him in the lounge, on his only visit there, and had persuaded him not to go anywhere else, and he had been unable to visit there again when he had been older as his uncle had not allowed him back.

He felt that he had the freedom to roam this castle and he wanted to take full advantage of it when he could, without getting into any danger, but he was far more interested in finding everything he could about the tomb before doing anything else.

The others spent a long time tediously cleaning the tomb rock and he joined in and examined the writing on it again in case he had missed something, but never found anything. It was just ancient writing that was usually found on tombs and had nothing of interest or was to do with anything else.

Yet one of the archeologists washing and cleaning the end of the tomb uncovered some writing there, which had been covered over with dirt, and Bryson went there first to see what was there, but just before he got there the archeologist announced to his surprise, “It’s the identity of the person in the tomb … His name is William Randall!”

Bryson was staggered and did not know whether to believe it, but the other archeologists there confirmed that they were positive that it was and Bryson wondered what it meant as he had definitely seen the remains and tomb of his ancestor William Randall at the last castle.

Bryson had a hard time even remembering William Randall in detail, and what his skeleton had looked like, and started realizing that he could not properly prove the skeleton in the tomb was him or was not him! How could they prove anything? The lack of evidence annoyed him greatly and he could not prove anything and was like a blind man trying to recognize someone from someone that had not spoken, or had identified himself properly, or had any information about his identity revealed and met someone who never said anything that was being identified as the person! He remembered little about William Randall! Yet he had known what he had been like in places, but that was only basic stuff about him and other people like him at the time. If only they could find something that could give them something worthwhile about him and the people at the castles!

He tried to remember the accounts that they had put together to find the second castle and he tried to recall something about it. He could not remember much about it – yet he could recall that William Randall had been identified as being at the second castle and had been the person who had the second castle built, and he thought that he would have stayed there as well.

It was as though someone were deliberately trying to muddle the facts up and confuse them! It made him shiver thinking of it and what the consequences were and he would now have to accept that the other skeleton at the other castle was someone else. Yet what the hell difference did it make?

He examined the skeleton in the tomb wondering if it really was his ancestor and what difference it would make.

He wondered why they had buried him there under the floor of the castle? Why would someone bury him there? Was there someone after him, or the person there?

Mitchell marched over seeing his slight distress and examined him and seemed interested in something.

“Wasn’t William Randall mentioned as being at the last castle?” he enquired, trying to get some information from him.

“Yes!” he replied firmly and annoyed. “I saw his tomb there though! He was my ancestor that built the castles …”

Most of the people turned and stared, surprised that it was his ancestor that they were examining.

“Incredible!” Mitchell answered. “That’s right! I remember Sir Richard Randall was your uncle … And Robert Randall the current owner … It must be strange being in such a place and meeting one of your ancestors here?”

Bryson finished examining the skeleton and realized that it actually looked the same as the last skeleton!

“Perhaps they could have both skeletons examined to see if they are genetically linked to you?” Mitchell announced. “That should prove what one is authentic and what one is not!”

“That’s a good idea!” he replied, surprised that he had not thought of it.

“I can have it done for you …?” One of the archeologists firmly replied, examining Bryson’s features and comparing them with the skeleton, with surprise. “I’ve another friend over there … Near the other castle who can get something from the other skeleton …”

Bryson was astonished and realized that they had come up with the answer and he agreed firmly and thanked him, and Mitchell for coming up with such a great idea, and he wondered what the outcome of it would be.

 

Chapter 10

 

The Second Death

 

Bryson studied the crumpled up remains of the body of the scientist, who he had worked with many times, trying to realize what had happened. His body was completely drained of water and of something else that he could not recognize.

He had just arrived there, at the remote region of the castle, with Mitchell and his men, and met with Merton and some scientists and police that had been there.

One of the other scientists who had been with the dead scientist earlier had gone out searching for him when he had not arrived to meet him.

For some reason everyone there took it that he had not been killed by the killer and by something else! By something so hideous, evil, and unearthly that they could not even imagine what! He tried to ignore how hideous it was, trying to look upon it as an artist would observe a crazy exhibit, but it was no use! Something was now out to get them! The things in the wood, if they were not the culprits, looked like nothing compared to it, and they now looked as if they had been playing with them and only scaring them away from their territory.

The complexion of the body showed it was drained of blood and showed the deadliness of the place, and their chances of survival had vastly decreased and danger could now exist there in the castle and during the day now and they never knew what they were up against and how to survive against it. They were becoming defenseless and they could not do anything about it!

Bryson was confused more than he could ever recall and he had difficulty discovering what was occurring because now he could not even imagine solving what had happened!

Strange thoughts of him leaving the cold confines of the place and that region gave him shivers of ecstatic pleasure. Yet the pleasure he could have if they solved all the riddles there would be far greater! He could return home or go on holiday to some hot place next to a desert and celebrate – after returning to reality – not on the brink of catastrophe – and he could return to solving normal everyday problems with the effortlessness that he had done for most of his life.

He attempted to work out the exact time that it could have occurred and where the room it was in was located, and wondered why the scientist had been there working alone anyway? At least it might show that the thing would not touch them in groups and in the inhabited regions of the castle.

He could not get why no sounds seemed to be heard from there, and why the death had not been heard? Some loud sounds outside could be heard miles away. Yet all the castle large stones could block even the loudest sounds!

Merton still seemed slightly shocked at it! He had seen him working with the scientist on many occasions!

They all stood about the body while the police examined things about the body. The scientist even looked as though he had tried to crawl over the floor before his death! But he was sure that it only looked that way and that he had been killed swiftly. But by what? And what had the thing done to him?

Bryson and virtually all of the rest of them, accept the police, gasped when some more of the police arrived and one of them asked, “Who would want to kill him?”

Everyone there shrugged and nobody seemed to be able to reply and Bryson did not know how they were going to explain the castle and the situation there if they had to! The police there refused to believe anything extraordinary could occur there.

Merton seemed to mutter, not being able to stay silent any longer, breaking the deep silence, but then was silenced by definitely not wanting to put his foot in it.

“What worries me more than anything,” Bryson muttered to Merton, with confusion, “is they don’t seem to have any clues!”

“They’ll find something!” Merton quickly replied.

“What kind of thing does that? It even looks like a vampire has drained him of blood!”

“That’s ridiculous! We should not have started entering the castle’s desolate regions on our own!”

“What do you reckon could do that then?”

“You’ve a point and I don’t have enough facts to say anything! It may be entirely new to us? They are best treating it as a normal killing until more facts appear.”

“You’re correct,” he muttered back, glaring through a window at the wood outside with interest, wondering how the police would handle the truth.

“How did his killer know that he would be here?” Bryson spoke louder, for the police to hear, startled by the thought that whatever it was could be watching them, perhaps now hidden away in the distant shadows.

“Perhaps that killer was lurking about and encountered the scientist on his own out here, and confronted him … We’ll have to stay in groups and only enter these regions when we need to.”

The police at the body seemed to realize the body was drained of something more and discussed having it checked further to discover what had happened to it.

“Why kill him? Do you think something has been removed from the body?”

“I do not know that! The body will have to be checked thoroughly.”

One of the policemen started using a phone to communicate information about the situation to someone, and eventually started talking louder to someone else who had him examine the body for him, and the police vigorously checked the body looking for a wound and they checked bruised areas trying to see it and finally seemed to give up disappointed, and the person on the phone seemed to react strangely to it and had them check the body again at other places.

The heavy thuds of distant helicopters arriving appeared in the distance and Bryson saw the others starting to leave there.

Persistent moans followed from the person on the police phone, who was trying to identify what it was, and it gave Bryson the impression that they never had a clue either and that the police at the body had not been entirely able to explain what had happened to the person on the phone, and that the person was being dragged away from another vital case to visit there.

Although he could not fully get what the person thought, as the occurrences on this occasion were far from normal, he was sure that they had not been able to explain the deadliness and unusualness of the death and that they were trying to persuade the person to investigate it.

 

Chapter 11

 

The Blood Red Devil

 

The enormous blood red devil energy field shot through the thick stone castle walls, like they were mist, seeking to attack something with vengeance, and its speed increased and the walls altered to glowing flickers while it raged on.

The few people at the castle that rarely caught glimpses of its distant lightening materializations saw only flashes of red, and if it had been slow they would have seen red energy and devil features, straight out of the realms of hell, and realized that they were confronting the devil, with its giant demon shape glowing, altering, whirling, within hideous energy surges, while it consistently stopped itself vanishing from existence and back into its original place and energy states.

Parts of its composition frequently altered or vanished from view when it totally lost control of itself and it even formed other hideous things, and it would show its powers by forming itself into different versions of itself, like freaks of nature.

In ancient times people who had witnessed it had either just escaped with their lives and had given accounts of confronting the most deadly and powerful devil from the deepest depths of hell or had been brutally killed with many having their bodies drained of energy, with their remains being found in hideous forms, and some had even been found so unrecognizable that they had not been thought of as being human.

Sometimes it had lurked in the dark shadows of the castle doing unseen hideous things, and examining the formation of things.

At times it had seemed to detect their thoughts and try to understand what they were and be able to detect strange forms of energy or energy sources from somewhere and alternate, as though trying to imagine what it could be and that it wished to confront it if it could.

Its vast unstable energy explosions could blast out across outer dimensions with so much force that they threatened to make space and time either unbalanced and warped or completely rip away and destroy the fabric of space and time.

 

Chapter 12

 

The Psychic Research Room

 

The psychic researcher’s room, beside the tunnel, was fantastic now and Bryson felt comfortable being there, and especially away from the murder scene at the other side of the castle, which was now packed with police investigators and the media that they had brought there and he was sure they were using the media to cover up making a mess of things somewhere.

It was incredible as at one point he had considered the room that he was in to be the most dangerous place there, with the supernatural disturbance just behind the wall in the tunnel, and which could well be the most powerful supernatural spot on the planet, and he now felt happy there with feelings of comfort from being away from the murder occurrences.

At one point he had been sure that they had been going to remove them from there or take them all away to interrogate them. Sounds of them could be heard away in the distance, as he watched all the scientists in the room about him doing their work and he considered what they could achieve there at the most – but again he still had too little facts to assume anything.

He had thought of getting permission from Merton or Mortimer to have their scientists inform him of any discoveries and information from the equipment as they monitored it, but decided not to disturb them as they would tell him anything important when it occurred anyway.

He frequently gave gasps like the scientists there when he considered what was behind the wall, and the power of it, with it being able to open powerful gateways out the universe and to beyond. It reminded him of sitting on a wall over hell or some hideous place. What was he missing? What were they missing?

He was sure that he could believe that anything could exist somewhere if it had the right means and he knew the powers of science could be used to create.

The situation was bad and the castle’s interior was very dangerous and he wondered if he was imagining that they could get out the place and situations alive, and that the place and supernatural disturbances was playing with them and when either they tried to escape from there or it was ready it would take action against them. The tension on them had clearly been increasing and some people in or near to the targeted areas reacted as if they were in war zones.

Bryson suddenly recalled recognizing some of the work that some of the scientists had done years ago, when he had been examining documents of theirs, and he recalled why he had remembered it all – as it had to do with them checking for the existence of paranormal for the military.

Their stuff was surprising and even more surprising with them working there with the psychic researchers and he recalled that he had even originally thought that they had been deliberately putting the paranormal research title on their project to cover their work and discoveries, as he had not properly seen anyone even check what they had claimed they had been doing or had created. He had thought that they had been checking an alien encounter or the possibility of an alien encounter having happened.

He questioned them on what they were doing and if they had found anything and they gave him documents that informed him that they were checking for virtually all known forms of energy and matter disturbances within and from the tunnel.

He questioned Mortimer about it and if they had detected anything occurring there or elsewhere when the death had taken place and he informed him that they had not and had acknowledged no differences.

He wondered if they could put something together that could properly detect anything emerging from it into the castle so they would know where it was located and they could warn the others. Their lives could also be in danger, especially at such a close range, and that they were not actually protected by anything, and he wondered if there was some reason that it never reacted to them being there?

“What do you have that can be used to detect that thing that killed one of your scientists if it reappears?” he asked Merton, when Merton entered the room, when he finally returned there, and Bryson watched him consider it as though he had been already for a long time and was now thinking of something to say about it, and come to some a conclusion.

“Presumable reactions and any presence might act on things and produce effects to indicate them being there,” Merton replied firmly, but not sure. “Such as it altering air currents, gravity, magnetic fields, radioactivity, scent, sound waves, static, and the light spectrum …”

“Most of the equipment here is to check everything in a degree that has not been done before!” Bryson replied. “To find out if we are missing something! That thing is starting to kill the people now and they have not come up with anything to destroy it. And if things go the way that they are it could kill far more people! We may even have to leave here in the end! If you have anything, even if it just helps locate its position then it will help …”

Merton glared at him and just laughed, and he looked as if he was wondered how much he was exaggerating things and if they should help.

“That may be a good idea if we can find anything,” Mortimer finally replied for Merton, considering it. “This is not the same as the last castle either! What I want to know is what does it wants here? Why has it not left here after such a length of time? And, very importantly, why does it do what it does?”

“We have an abundance of things as we have shown!” Merton continued. “We specialize and experiment in detecting things! This is the best there is and we love investigating anything extraordinary! Even if it is an assassin trying to wipe us all out … And we would love to help stop it if we can get it …”

Bryson started to grasp how advanced and undetectable the thing really was! And he wanted to see what they were up against!

“We barely even found it here,” Mortimer added, clearly trying to encourage them in their work again. “It was pretty well concealed!”

Bryson was confused and wondered what they were suggesting, and why they were so secretive again? Surely they would only really receive fame for their discovery? Scientists all over here could have announced whatever it was straightaway, without any hesitation, just to be acknowledged with the finders, yet they wished it to be concealed.

“We have found something new!” Bryson continued. “And we have not seen anything like it before. It is totally unknown and it has intelligence!”

“An existence that exists in other dimensions than the ones we’re in?” Merton replied.

“We do not know what it is or if it ever was a life form?” Mortimer continued. “Or what other form of life it could have been? But we are sure one of its properties is that it exists through other dimensions!”

“So you have equipment that can detect outer dimensions? I never knew all that stuff actually existed! I have not seen it proven to exist or anything that can enter or detect there!”

“Exactly! What about when you entered that vortex? We have ways of detecting it! It is confidential, of course.”

Bryson realized their point once again and heard them silently confide that they wished to keep their research as confidential as possible, especially with there being the media and so many not fully checked scientists there, and leading scientists, and they thought of having him to agree to a verbal contract agreement of not disclosing anything without their consent, which he agreed to anyway to show them that he would, and wondered what they could actually discover.

As they considered what to say next Bryson examined nearby equipment, and stuff that he recognized and that it was for detecting neutrinos, and he considered what they used it for, and guessed it was another way of detecting paranormal phenomena.

“Of course! But will you sell it? It could make a lot of cash and they may be able to advance the technology further along!”

“Perhaps!” Mortimer answered. “But it is new and needs to be checked out further and we may come up with other findings before anyone else does!”

“Alright! I get you now.”

“I am certain you’re thing, running about the castle, is connected to what’s in this tunnel!”

“That could explain where it came from!”

“Exactly! We have barely done any research on it and we have been at this virtually since we arrived here. We have barely slept! We have so little time!”

“You could contact someone to prolong the stay to carry out your work? And you may be able to advance the technology further along!”

“Perhaps we may! But it is new and it needs to be checked out further, and we may also come up with other equipment …”

 

Chapter 13

 

The New Scientists

 

Bryson had decided to keep their new equipment as secret as he could, even though he was not sure what they had, and what he had seen had been little and could be easily have been exaggerated by them either to keep the scientists all interested or cover up something else they never wanted to reveal!

When he arrived back at their paranormal research room the next day he was surprised to see that the place was packed with more equipment and even though he never knew what it was and had seen any of it before, and he was well updated in technology. The place looked transformed into something new, and he was surprised to see new scientists had arrived and by what they said he was sure that the equipment had been brought by them and belonged to them. Yet one of the biggest surprises he got was when examined it up close and saw how expensive and advanced it was! He could not understand how they could put it there with such value!

He decided he still liked being there, especially away from the other murder scene at the other side of the castle where things had become worse! Everywhere he had looked he had found investigators and people searching for clues, and examining him! He had listened to helicopters arriving all morning, and had been woken up by a loud one landing nearby.

What staggered him was what would happen if they found that the killer was of supernatural origins? Would they come up with another killer that was human to give to the public?

They had thought of telling them to see what would happen and realized that they would firmly believe that they were crazy, and perhaps check them out as suspects.

The situation was bad and could escalate, and them coming up with a fake culprit might do little. The tension amongst Mitchell’s men for one had increased! The people near the outskirts of where the targeted area seemed to react far more to it being a danger. And he wondered if most of them were hiding behind illusions that what was there would avoid the areas they were together in and he started considering in more detail why the others were so sure about it avoiding there! What could stop it going there? Yet he recalled he had been sure that it originated from the things in the wood not getting near the castle there!

Was there some form of rules to how it worked? Was it the same as vampires not being able to come out in the daylight? Were they missing the fact that these things actually existed? It was thought to be supernatural in nature and have originated from supernatural gateways.

Bryson recalled recognizing some of the work that one of the new scientists in the room had done, after Bryson had examined documents that they had given him.

Their stuff was surprising and far more surprising with them using it to work with the psychic researchers and he even thought that they were deliberately putting the psychic researching title on it to cover their work and discoveries, as he had hardly even seen anyone even check what scientists did or created in that region.

They informed him that they were checking for virtually all known forms of energy and matter disturbances.

Bryson imagined the presence of some mysterious entity there, existing in the tunnel, which they could not detect or account for, and wondered if it could be contacted through someone.

Some people thought mass killing was going on at the castle from the way the media was showing things there, and with them covering details of the occurrences, which the police had done as they had not found anything on how the death was so hideously done. To them it was like some group were carrying it out, and that it looked as though other deaths were to follow.

What was the true nature of the savage and brutal killings that threatened everyone there? What were the motives?

The quest for the treasure by someone seemed to have gone beyond the normal and they thought something else was occurring! Had some hidden occurrence taken place that had led up to the events? Unseen and unpredicted events could occur that had to be handled!

Why did the killer or killers continue on going even after all the occurrences and heavy police presence? Surely the person or people must be mad to continue in the mode they had?

Many people wanted more than investigations of the deaths and what was actually occurring there and Bryson realized that they could end their adventure there – and even accuse them of crimes!

What if it was proven that there was an actual alien there, what would they do? Would they call in the military to deal with it?

The paranormal scientists decided against going near or in the direct path of what was there, if they could avoid it, and they stayed located at places where other scientists and the others regularly occupied and where they could make a quick exit from if it appeared, and Bryson had heard them discuss using surveillance cameras and other equipment, which he was interested in and wondered if the police would consider it?

Whatever it was it was virtually unpredictable! And he wondered if it would turn predictable, as the things in the wood were predictable in their appearance, and he wondered if they were normally unpredictable? What if there were a lot more of them and these were the only ones that made predictable appearances? There could be a great deal of luck involved in encountering them, if they were unpredictable!

Eventually the paranormal scientists had consultations with the police, and the police gave them their accounts of the evidence that they had gathered and they now had left their minds open to what was there.

Bryson knew that all the scientists as a group did think it was of paranormal origins, even though the killer existed, and that he had chased him through a passage out into the wood.

Yet someone who had been there and seen a lot of the things there could easily have found a way to mimic what something there might do, for the person to cover up their crimes! Yet how would the person have removed what had been removed from the body? He wondered if he could have found something there to do it with? How did the tunnels in the wood get made? Where did the technology come from?

Bryson left it there as he never had enough information in what could have done it! He had not heard of anything that could do it or if it was even possible!

What surprised him and a few others was how they reacted and treated it, and that they had something at last that they had been waiting the majority of their lives for, and they were not going to ruin it on such an occurrence and that they had all decided to help the police with their investigations.

The occurrences that they had witnessed there astounded enough of them enough to believe that they were dealing with something supernatural that might have taken an ancient form and they consulted openly with the other scientists on what it could be – while leaving it open to anyone to add to and for other scientists to give their thoughts on – and they all agreed that they thought it was new and of an entirely new status.

After a great deal of discussion and surveillance of the tunnel, checking readings and observations of it through monitors from every form of surveillance, most of them remained set on leaving it open and claimed that it was more advanced than anything that they had seen and perhaps would see.

Another discovery was announced by one of the new scientists at locations around the tunnel, in the rooms going around it, and that faint sounds were emerging around the tunnel, which were being checked by various equipment around it, and that they showed something strange, and that with the sounds played around the scientists in the positions that they were recorded at around the tunnel, with the volume turned up, the sounds were appearing around something, at the other dimensions that they were appearing from.

 

Chapter 14

 

The Treasure Tunnel

 

Bryson and Pendleton arrived at a castle room, deep in the danger zone of the castle, where they had to slip passed the police to get to, and Bryson still could not believe that they were going to such lengths to explore there.

It was the only way to find what was there! The police would not allow them to enter that region of the castle, and Pendleton had told him it was where the tunnel he had entered had been.

After consistently wandering around the castle Pendleton’s memory had returned and he insisted that he knew where the room where the hidden entrance to the tunnel was, on the top floor, but they could not get there because of there being so many police there, and they had gone to the floor and room below it. Bryson could not ignore it! If it was the tunnel that Pendleton had gone down there might be a chance that the treasure was buried somewhere nearby.

Thus Pendleton had a reason for wanting the treasure so much now! He had nothing now that he had returned as all his possessions were gone, years before, and Bryson had promised him a good share in it if he found it.

The room was an ordinary castle room, which had clearly not been entered by anyone for a long time.

He could not get why they thought the treasure had been there, and neither could Pendleton, but the tunnel had been there at the exact location they had traced it to and if it had not been for the supernatural vortex, like the one Bryson had entered in the other room, Pendleton was sure that they would have found it.

Pendleton could not believe he was back there, with the other two treasure hunters now gone, as he had fantasized many times on the island of it.

The wall grabbed his attention as its thickness was the same as the room the other tunnel was in. Even though many rooms had chimneys running through them!

If only he had taken some of the equipment the archaeologists had to scan the wall first he could have gotten a vague view of its interior, as well as of the floor. Yet the scans of the other tunnel had shown little! The technology would have to be improved!

Bryson repeatedly thumped his hand hard against the wall, intensely listening for anything, while he slowly moved over the bed. Then he suddenly halted and jumped back, as a chunk of stone crumbled and shifted in behind the wallpaper.

The destruction of a historical castle gave him slight feelings of guilt but he knew it could be easily repaired and if they got rid of the haunting there he was positive someone would do up the place and turn it into the expensive historic castle that it was supposed to be, and perhaps clear the region of wood surrounding it into gardens with lanes and a road.

He carefully shifted the awkward mass of stone out, in stages, from the wall, as Pendleton stayed ready to help him. Pendleton had little strength now, after being on the island for so many years and though his body was not old it was weak and he suffered from being ill a lot, especially with the intense cold.

They were both obsessed and Bryson’s clambering resumed until he finally had to stop – feeling a sudden loss of energy, with his legs starting to collapse under him, with much discomfort to his hands and arms being cut and bruised at where he had been tugging the boulder out.

His eyes occasionally fell on the mess under him with little interest! The thick layer of stone and dust fragments scattered across the room was nothing now!

With a sudden heave he incredibly wrenched the boulder out and dropped it over to his side, where it bounced off the bed onto the floor, where a loud bang instantly came from the floorboards, which even collapsed in with the weight.

In the large black gap left in the wall, where the stone block had blocked, there was nothing visible and he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. But it stayed dim and showed him nothing!

Pendleton handed him one of the most powerful lights that they had brought to the castle, and which was another reason why they were there as the lights that they had used in the tunnels had been weak and showed nothing because of their limited range.

He turned on his light and confirmed that it was the tunnel and he poked his head in and crawled into the hole towards it.

Once further in, with his arms out in front, he pulled himself into the tunnel, with his head facing downwards, and he shone the powerful light down the tunnel. Where he saw the tunnel going deep down below, and as his sight adjusted to it he saw nothing and started to wonder if it was a large chimney.

Yet it seemed too large to be a chimney and there was no trace of soot or anything that would surely be there, even if they had it cleaned. Although there was the chance that nobody had really used it and that any marks were hidden below. But again it was not in the right position to be one! And he was sure that there were no fireplaces below to be connected to a chimney!

He saw its true size the more he looked and that it went further down to the bottom of the castle. His breathing echoed into it, and its coldness made clouds of steam pour out of his mouth into it.

Suddenly sounds started emerging below and he wondered if he had activated it! They started sounding mind-bending and started screaming through the shaft until they had a fury that stunned him, with some sounding like screams and others like wailing spirits.

Clouds of powdered dirt and stone fell about at different points around boulders far below as though the tunnel were being shaken by an earthquake. Dust swirled through his beam of light as he wondered where the treasure would be buried away!

He imagined Pendleton and the other two treasure hunters there years before, during the Second World War, hanging on their ropes, just over the disturbance, which he tried to locate and realized he could find something there by watching what was happening below carefully, which he had not been able to do when he had been in the other tunnel on the steps, surrounded in darkness, and he realized that he had actually avoided being killed there after all, and wondered if he was going to be killed later instead and was unsure what was worse.

He groaned and grabbed hold of part of a castle boulder he was resting over, with his head and arms sticking over into the tunnel, glimpsing parts of the shaft below, and he wondered what William Randall, his great ancestor, builder of the castle, had done and built there? They had clearly gone to great lengths to build something! At times it had felt like the whole castle was something else – created for some function that he could not even imagine – which went beyond his understanding.

Yet going by the stories something happened that had killed them all! So if it was true then what happened then and how did it end up in the tunnel and in the other tunnel, and was it there in other dimensions, and what was there below? Why had it not moved away into the other dimensions? What was keeping it there? Surely there had to be something there that they were missing? Perhaps it was disguised as something or had been hidden? Such advanced technology could achieve virtually anything and it could be something that he had not even considered possible?

He had always wanted to explore and discover something new of value and greatness in science, and perhaps even be remembered in history!

What interested and alarmed them was why it was hidden in such a place and created such occurrences! What was it they were dealing with anyway? Why was it in such a far out place?

Something of unfathomable unidentifiable supernatural nature sounded as though it were under him trapped in some form of magnetic or energy field, trapped and trying to free itself from something, ultimately escaping to another location of liberty, and he tried imagining some form of spirit trapped there every night for hundreds of years.

“Have you found if it’s down there?” Pendleton shouted in, in an alarmed state, with a combination of annoyance and confusion, and Bryson realized that he had been trying to get his attention, and he gave him the impression that he might be on the edge of considering doing something extreme, beyond the normal.

“It’s that disturbance below! I need more time here to examine the tunnel and see if I can discover something!”

Bryson again started to realize the implications of the find and that they might have to check what was there someday, and he better start finding information about it.

Pendleton shouted loudly, “Good idea!”

Bryson was confused at what they would do if he found the treasure there below? How would they go about getting it? What was there could be guarding the treasure, and why nobody had got it? William Randall could have left it there to guard his treasure while he was away? Yet if that were the case how would he have gotten the treasure himself and how did he put the thing and the treasure below?

Bryson felt that he had finally found something that might even be above his understanding and he wondered if he was going pay for his encountering the thing below?

It amazed Bryson, from what Pendleton had told him, was that they had been trying to get the treasure there in the middle of the night, in what had been a haunted castle buried away in a wood. Yet he believed that they were good – as they had traced the treasure there and found the location – and had survived getting through the wood.

He imagined them shifting into the shaft and making their way down, with their ancient lights.

Bryson looked up and saw ventilation shafts entering the tunnel and realized that they must run through most of the building.

“What else could it be?” Pendleton asked, trying to get some information on the tunnel, and Bryson ignored him.

The height of the castle was incredible, especially with it having been built when it had, as well as the length being so massive with rooms and corridors going out everywhere – and he could hardly believe that they had built it and he wondered if it was built by something else – and he remembered that he had not thought such a construction had been possible at that date. It was also unbelievable that somebody had managed to ship the construction over to there when it had happened, in such large sections and fit them together.

How could people spend so much on such things at the date it was built? It was a disgrace and offense that such a work of art and construction should end up derelict out in such a desolate wood? He really wished to solve the mysteries there and put them out in the open for everyone to see.

He gasped as he recalled the legends and what had already happened there and wondered if this could be his final encounter!

For a moment he considered if it had actually come from Transylvania and had vampires or something – and that was what they were missing! At times he had thought it had similarities to castles over there!

“You could send down a camera with a light attached down?” Pendleton announced, to his surprise, and wondered why the scientists had not done it and recalled that he had heard some of them mention exploring the tunnel with equipment, and remembered that their stuff had vanished.

Sounds were now screaming up at him and he realized how loud they had become, as if a gateway into hell were there, with him balanced over it.

He jerked when he heard some sort of almost human scream as though from out of in a distant strange place, and he searched below where the bottom of the castle was and saw blackness, like it were really located out in space.

Some of blocks of stone about him resembled smaller versions of stones in Egyptian pyramids and he even wondered if they were the same and there for some reason. They were strange things to use to build with as their weight was immense and they could easily have decreased their size and made them easier to shift about and work with, but they were hard to penetrate and were needed in a good castle.

He realized some sounds were now not emerging from far below him but were coming from somewhere just below him, and then he thought he heard one emerge next to him and he listened intensely with confusion.

Sounds manifested everywhere as though they were invisible unidentifiable things surrounding there, and strange glowing and swirling forces seemed to form in the blackness below, and he saw something that looked like a transparent rectangle black shape.

As he tried to see what was going on about him he noticed that light across his front was moving upwards and he fixed his eyes onto a strange orb of light floating upwards.

With a loud thud he banged his shoulder against the side of him and clouds of gray dust flew about almost blinding him, going into his face and lungs, and he rushed back into the room.

 

Chapter 15

 

The Mist

 

Early the next morning Bryson awoke in the deep silence of his room and opened his eyes to see that it was starting to get light, and realized something was somehow different and instead of seeing peaceful surroundings of his darkened room he slowly focused upon a faint mist about him and he instantly started searching for signs of a fire.

Yet there was nothing there to burn as the castle was virtually entirely made of thick stone and was as non-flammable as it could be! So he considered what could be burning!

Could smoke reach there from the lounge, dinning room, or kitchen? Perhaps one of the chimneys caught fire with all the rubbish stuck up in them, from years of being there, with small trees and vegetation covering the outer walls and roof? A hole in a chimney from it crumbling away could let smoke in!

Yet there was no sign of the scent of smoke or anything, and he sat upright in bed and watched a dark shadow from the mist creep over the walls, while cold swirling currents of mist shifted about in a hovering shape, and a wild beast’s blood-chilling screech came from a distant place, hidden out in the landscape, and he considered what it was.

When his eyes adapted and his vision grew in strength he saw a cloud drifting about over the floor that was moving around as though there were no gravity and he considered if it was real or something else. He proved that it was not made of smoke and only looked like it – and was really something else that was unidentifiable that was very faint that he could hardly see – and he looked about to find its source and where it was being generated, but never saw anything and he checked if it was a mirage, and some form of light illusion and reflection off something, and he checked all possible sources. Yet there was nothing visible to him that could produce it and it hung in the air over the middle of the room and swirled about, and seemed to be actually doing something. He was unable to explain its presence, and he stayed where he was, and started to grasp it could be one of the supernatural disturbances there, like the mist in the wood, and he realized that it could be dangerous.

When it thickened he started shifting and grabbed his clothes, without entering the central region, and he moved right up to it and watched it forming a turbulent cloud formation, with it forming shapes in itself, like something was forming itself into a life form, and, even after seeing all the things on the previous day in the tunnel, he still tried to prove that it was something else and he started thinking of other things that it could be.

It was forming itself into something that was unidentifiable and he knew Merton and Mortimer would love to see it and started to work out a route to the door without entering it and realized that he would have to go through one of its edges.

He strained himself and prepared himself to handle what could happen if it reacted and did anything. Though he could not really see it doing much as it was only in a mist formation!

Then within it he spotted what looked like a head and he sat dazed trying to figure out what it would form into, confused at what would happen when it did! What if it formed some form of dangerous life form or something else?

The color of the head region was white, with a far more dense shade than it had been minutes before, and it clearly was now forming at an accelerated rate, and he decided to go and get the others and rushed to the door and out into the corridor and looked out for others but never saw any of them about.

When he knocked on Merton and Mortimer’s doors he wondered if he had imagined what it was and he informed them of what had happened and they both dressed quickly and rushed over with him to his room.

They stood dazed examining it at the doorway, searching it for clues to its identity, trying to see what it could do.

“What the hell is that?” Mitchell said, announcing his arrival from behind them, from the side of the doorway. “Is it dangerous?”

“We don’t know yet?” Mortimer replied first, examining it more than the others. “What I want to know is why it’s in your room and why we have not seen this anywhere else?

“What did you do yesterday? Did you go out into the wood or something? I noticed you were away for a long time …”

Bryson considered what to say and whether to tell him, ignore him, or tell him something else.

“We went to find the other tunnel where Pendleton entered …”

“Was that over there where the police banned us from going?”

“Yes! And we found it! Pendleton recalled where it was – as he now has an interest in the treasure …”

“That could have been dangerous!”

“Did you find anything?” Mitchell said, startled at the mention of someone making a major move to find the treasure without him knowing of it. “What was there?”

“We only found another tunnel like the other one under the library!”

“Where is it then?”

“I’ll have to show you!”

“Alright! Show it to us later!”

“I think it is transferring itself here!” Mortimer announced, staring at the formation forming in the center of the area in front of the bed.

“What will we do with it?” Bryson muttered, wondering if it had a means of understanding them.

“Wait here!” Mitchell replied, and he rushed off to get his men at their rooms.

“It is becoming more powerful!” Merton stated, staring at its large head shape that kept reforming into something, which it was clearly putting most of its time and energy into.

Bryson spotted that it had transformed into normal matter in places and that yellow slime dripped from its head into the carpet, and a slight human/animal odor scented the air.

The thing seemed to sense something somewhere, perhaps danger, and increased how fast it was building itself, and Bryson wondered why it had chosen his room – which the others thought was connected to his visit to the tunnel – and he wondered why something wanted to visit him and he realized that it could have easily formed itself somewhere nearby!

The main questions had to be was it dangerous and what did it want to do there?

Mitchell arrived with his men and their weapons, and moved Bryson and the two scientists out of the way, and stood at the doorway aiming their guns at it, waiting for the opportunity to fire at it.

Bryson wondered if they could kill it in its original state as the bullets surely would have gone straight through it, and now it could keep repairing the damage.

“What are we going to do with it?” Merton suddenly announced emotionally, realizing something about it, deliberately grasping Mitchell’s attention.

“What we need to do now is decide what to do with it if it does not attack us?” Mortimer continued, wondering what Merton had noticed, and he studied it in detail.

Bryson looked at where Merton was staring, at its head region, and he suddenly noticed that it was taking the shape of a human head, and realized that they could be in trouble if they destroyed it in the form of a human.

 

Chapter 16

 

The New Species of Human

 

Once it had completely formed into a human the men dropped their guns down and stared at it with their mouth open, and they acknowledged that they had to have witnessed a miracle.

Surprisingly Bryson had to be the most startled and if not certainly the most confused as it was identical to him, and he realized he was now going to meet himself.

The men seemed happier that they were not now in any apparent danger, and they could destroy it or take it prisoner.

Bryson started to wonder if it had any of his memories and wondered how much of a danger it was to him? Was it intelligent? What did it want? Why had it deliberately done it in front of him, and when he awoke?

Did it have a mission? Was it connected to the thing or was it the thing itself that he had encountered in the tunnel the day before? And was it the same thing that had done the killings there?

They all seemed confused and wishing for answers, and a few of the police, some of Mitchell’s men knew, had passed there and had tried to explain what had been happening, and now never understood why there was another Bryson about.

They watched it put on some clothes one of Mitchell’s men got for it and stand next to them at the doorway, and Bryson realized that not only had it put on clothes that it had done it in the same way that he normally did, and he gasped at the thing knowing all his thoughts and memories and he tried to work out how dangerous it could be.

Yet the supernatural thing could have read and got his make up from the first seconds that he entered the supernatural vortex, and perhaps even before then when he had arrived at the castle.

What was the answer to this problem? None of them knew what they were dealing with! Was it more than one thing? Were the rest things that it had picked up through the vortex? And what was it up to? Was it part of the thing in the tunnel that he had visited the day before?

He did think it had some connection to the thing in the tunnel as it had looked as if it had wanted to make contact or something with him, but he did not risk it as he could have end up in a worse place and situation than the last time!

Yet why had the thing in the tunnel wanted to make contact with him when he must have made contact with it going into the other tunnel and going through the vortex? The thing would have got all the information that it had wanted there and could have communicated with him! Was there two things – one in each tunnel – or perhaps more?

Bryson watched the copy of himself and realized that he could learn a lot of things from it and about himself, and saw all the advantages of it being there. If it was there to do harm why did it not just kill him?

His first thing to do was try to communicate with it and somehow get information about its mission.

Merton and Mortimer took Mitchell further up the corridor and communicated in whispers with him, decided on something and returned, and they took him and the thing down to the empty dinning room, and closed the door behind them, and offered the thing food that Bryson normally ate and they all ate their breakfast, with Bryson sitting opposite them directly in front of the thing, occasionally watching it with some amazement. He had never fully known what he had been like until now – even though it had a great deal of different reactions – mainly due to it being a stranger and unfamiliar with many things – and Bryson slowly accepted it was something else in his body, and realized the potential again, as well as the others as well, and them actually getting information from the thing haunting the place.

Yet after more observations he realized that it could be something else – and not the thing haunting there!

None of them said anything to it and waiting for something to happen, and Bryson wondered what would happen and sat chewing pieces of his food, considering what he would do if he was it in different scenarios and when he finished he considered what the others would do, until he felt that he had considered everything, and was surprised that something else actually happened instead and the dinning room door swiftly swung open and two archeologists entered with startled faces – and stared at the two versions of Bryson facing each other across the table with amazement and laughed – and even thought of changing what they had planned to do but went through with it anyway.

Both of them sat next to Mitchell and one of them removed some documents and placed them on the table in front of him, and Bryson recognized him as the archeologist that had been at the tomb when they had taken it up into the room and found the tomb had the name William Randall engraved on it.

“We had both skeletons examined to see if they are genetically linked to Bryson’s blood sample you gave us?” the archeologist announced. “To prove what one was William Randall and what one was not William Randall!”

“As William Randall is marked as being in a tomb at the other castle and in the tomb here …” Mitchell continued further, vaguely amused, watching the thing along the table from him.

“That’s correct!” he replied, almost laughing hideously for some reason that baffled Bryson – who wondered which one had been the authentic one – thinking the archeologist would now tell them that it was neither.

“We even had the results checked again after receiving them!” the archeologist firmly replied.

“And what …?” Mitchell moaned.

“Well! They are both William Randall!” the archeologist announced, handing the documents over to them, shrugging and wondering again why the stranger looked like Bryson.

 

Chapter 17

 

The Two Randalls

 

Bryson recalled examining the features of the skeleton in the tomb at the top floor and comparing it with the other skeleton at the last castle and knew that they had been the same.

The other version of him had seemed to react for a brief moment when it had been told!

Bryson was astonished and realized that there had been two William Randalls and that they had not been twins! Mitchell had suggested that they had been twins and that the accounts of them had for some reason missed out details of them, which was common in historical accounts as Bryson had learned on many occasions, but the archeologist had firmly declared that they had not been twins and had been identical – and that the documents affirmed that they were of the same person.

It was strange as he now had to think of there being two William Randalls at two castles and he wondered what had happened to create such a situation? How did the William Randall at the top floor die? And why had he been put where he had been? And what had people at the time thought of it, and he wondered if they had thought of it as witchcraft? There had been accounts of it at the last castle, and he even thought the occurrences there had been responsible for putting so much accounts of witchcraft into the history books – as they had been the only proper accounts of witchcraft happening – as far as he was concerned!

For a moment they had all silently watched the other him at the table as he had finished his meal and Bryson had started going through the problems that might surface and that they might keep identifying it as being him and vice versa, and he had wondered what would happen if it started claiming it was and how he could explain to people who had not witnessed what had happened what was happening? They could barely explain anything there to the police already and they insisted in knowing everything there!

He wondered what it was classed as? If it had not been for the strange appearance it had made in his room he could have taken it for something else! He might have thought the disturbance had done something with time and allowed an earlier or older version of him to appear!

Bryson could not realize who was more amazed him or the others, and he dared not let the other him out of his sight in case it did something that he would get the blame for!

“Just tell me – what the hell you are?” Mitchell demanded once, finally trying answer at least one of his queries.

“I do not know!” it announced, clearly not knowing.

“I never knew you had a brother?” Mitchell continued, amused, trying to think of what he was missing. He clearly thought there was a hidden joke!

“I don’t remember anything!” it continued, not knowing what to do now.

“What? You lost your memory? Where did that happen?”

“On my way back here!”

“Back here!” Mitchell replied, and laughed loudly. “What? You are claiming you were here and left …?”

“Of course! I awakened – up there!”

The stranger pointed over in the direction that that had come from, from Bryson’s room, and Bryson tried to detect if it was now following an act to cover up its identity.

Mitchell heard a noise from his communication device and picked it up and started talking to someone.

Bryson wondered what would happen if the thing made copies of all of them? They would be breaking the law if they tried to do anything to them! What could they do with them? Could they prove that they were aliens?

Bryson decided to keep the thing near him! But not to near! He was not going to sleep with it near him! Yet the thing could have easily have already killed him in his opinion!

“That’s strange!” Mitchell announced, leaving the room. “A lot of the stuff on the people here has been erased from our files!”

Bryson immediately wondered why Mitchell had files on the people there, and as if they knew about it. It was strange! They had brought Mitchell there to find the treasure and basically help them with anything dangerous – and he was now running things further than anyone else – and seemed to have connections in the police as well as in the military, where he seemed to be still a major figure for some reason, which he had claimed he had no longer anything to do with – and all the men working for him had treated him as being far more than ex-military, and some had even given him a high up military title and salute.

Bryson watched Merton and Mortimer follow him out and leave him alone with the thing, facing him across the table.

“So what’s your name then?” Bryson finally asked jokingly, realizing that he had to talk to it and he had been in far worse situations there already – like going through the vortex …

“Bryson!” it joked back, making him gag for a moment.

“We could be twins?” he replied, not just joking but seriously trying to solve the problem of what to do with it, for the moment.

“Alright!”

“My name is Bryson so you’ll have to choose another …”

“Call me Thomas!” it replied, making him gasp again, knowing it had deliberately used his first name knowing that it had not been told to it, and he thanked it for letting him know it.

“Choose another!”

“Call me William then!”

“Alright!”

“Maybe we can do each other a favor … We could have information that we both want?”

“You are perfectly correct!”

Bryson observed how human and identical it really was and tried to establish the differences in it to establish what it was really like and he saw differences in the way it used its features.

 

Chapter 18

 

The Thing from the Tunnel

 

Bryson wondered if the thing was automatically carrying out a programming given to it by what was in the second tunnel, even though it was capable of being human and doing human things it was like it was carrying out a plan, which he never fully knew what and left it as it wanting to gather information.

It seemed to like finding information on what it could and checking for anything of interest, abnormalities, and he watched it examining things. And even though he could not get if it was hiding anything he avoided questioning it.

He was starting to think Mitchell was part of scheme to carry out some very illegal activity there. Yet what could he be up to there? Unless he intended to take the treasure away and disappear with it?

He even considered there was something of else of value there and if he intended in taking it back without anyone knowing of it! But what was it? Perhaps he had heard of something being there from accounts of there – which had been hidden away from them? Pendleton and his two treasure hunters had known things that had not been told to them! Yet that was not an illegal activity and it was even up to him whether he told anyone of it – and he was sure that it was something else!

Though he would be bothered if he did take the treasure without him knowing about – even if he never got any of it – as he wanted to find it and see what it was more than anything!

Many items there were being kept and sent out by many of them that thought that they had great hidden value, but he knew that they never as he had them checked out by his friend and Bryson had not found anything worth taking except for glamorous and curious ornaments to remember the place.

They started searching the rest of the top floor and the area the police had warned them not to go in, and searched everything while checking nothing deadly was there.

He started noticing Mitchell had more interest in the William Randall tomb and insisted in having it removed from there – by having the windows of the room removed and having it lowered down to the ground on ropes, where it was taken away by a helicopter. All the people he had contacted about it valued it as of being of little value and he wondered if he was going to have it checked for something, and it having something hidden in it.

He was sure that he would even discard it before they left there, especially if they found something of real value. Since he had been at the last castle he had gotten to know many explorers, who had made explorations all around the world, as it interested him greatly, especially after him finding the last treasure, and he had started to believe there were treasures about and he was amazed that a lot of treasure hunters and people interested in exploration had met with him after hearing of his discover of the treasure, and they had him recollect and give his account of what had happened.

Mitchell was an explorer and had heard of his accounts and had been told many things about him by the scientists.

Bryson was unsure how far they would go there and how it would end, and wondered if they would keep going searching there for months and wondered how long he would stay there until he had enough of it and was positive that there was nothing there, and if they could solve the disturbances there.

He knew how valuable the place was though and would try to get what he wanted somewhere before he left.

There had to be something of value there and they were all keen to find what was hidden away there enough for something to happen, and he briefly wondered if what existed could be let loose on the world? Nobody knew what was holding it there or what it really was!

Bryson searched the rooms with William and watched him search and how he did it. Yet he still could not grasp some major thing about him, and never really knowing what he was doing or looking for being that thing, but he still could not believe it actually was it. It surely was created by it, separate from it, to carry out work.

If it was seriously dangerous, and it started doing things against them, they would have to do things legally against it – because as far as everyone there was now concerned it was human – and he also thought it was human now and that they could end up having serious problems.

What if it really was different and an alien and could breed? Could such creatures start to take over the Earth?

While they were searching a room Mitchell had appeared at the door, and started searching objects there, like he was checking if they were missing anything.

“Do think there is anything here?” Mitchell asked it, trying to get his views about it.

It just laughed like Bryson, over some hidden joke, either about it or about him, or something that they had not grasped.

“I have checked almost everything here,” Bryson replied. “Nothing here is anything of value! What do you think William? Could there be anything of value about here?”

It looked over at him, still slightly amused, with its amused expression, and replied, “Out here! I don’t think so!”

His reactions were little! If he was what he claimed why did he not act more like him? Yet why was he not like a twin and even doing things differently? It once had him searching his memories of his relatives that had been like him!

 

Chapter 19

 

The Killer

 

Bryson stood at a room window and watched the snow come down heavily and he knew that it was the start of another blizzard hitting region, and watched it cover the wood in front of the castle.

Somewhere in the lower castle he heard a heavy thud that sounded like an explosion of something and he felt its shudder go through the castle stone.

As he started to wonder what had caused it a strange black figure, covered all over in black clothing, rushed out the castle at a speed he thought was staggering, and he wondered if he was an eminent sprinter.

Then he watched the figure enter the wood faster than he thought possible and wondered what he was missing, and stood more confused when another figure appeared below and started blasting rounds of bullets at him in the wood with one definitely hitting him – especially going by the confidence of the policeman and the way he stopped and his various reactions.

Bryson left and put on a thicker jacket and rushed down to the lounge and to the front door, where he saw a group of policemen who recognized him immediately as they were the same police that he had followed into the tunnel and out into the wood after the killer.

One of them turned and even gasped when he saw him, and Bryson was sure something was going to happen there as they were getting ready to do something.

They rushed out into the wood and invited Bryson to follow them and Bryson followed them, checking that it was not going to turn dark, but he was sure that they had at least an hour before it did turn dark.

He immediately started showing his presence and went up to the front of the group to question the policeman that recognized him, that he remembered talking with when they had chased the killer into the tunnel.

While they scrambled through the snow he heard two policemen in front of them giving panic-stricken replies and he wondered why?

They clearly believed that they were chasing the killer out into the wood, and they were glad to see Bryson there again and knew that he knew the ground more than them.

The man had been in a large hooded black jacket that he had used to cover his face and nobody had seen his face, and he had shot and killed one of the policemen in the castle.

It was believed that he had entered the castle and police surveillance equipment, put there to catch him, had alerted them to him being there!

A blue light flashed over the wood from behind them and he watched it illuminate the wood slightly, making him realize it had become dimmer, and he wondered if it was entirely the snow falling, thick trees, and heavy clouds doing it.

It turned worse than he had imagined as the police were rushing about back at the castle getting ready to begin a full-scale operation in the wood to get the guy. Yet he realized that though it could have them out there in the dark that a police helicopter could catch him!

The killer confused him as nobody yet had seen his face, which was clearly covered up, and the speed of the man was incredible and that of a top athlete. Had the guy increased his running speed to get out of being caught and he wondered how long he could run at that speed and he knew that the police about him thought that he would slow down eventually.

The speed of him was the main thing that they had underestimated the last time and that he had managed to get out into the wood and have his footprints covered up by the snow, and with them running after him fast through the tunnel.

When Bryson saw his footprints he was surprised again! Though they were normal shoe marks their placement was strange and placed differently than he had seen before! Yet it could have been him rushing through the deep snow and through the blizzard, and he still seemed to Bryson’s disappointment to be still traveling at a fast pace and he wondered where the hell he was going to out there anyway.

He had survived in the wood the last time and seemed to know it and where he was going. If only the helicopter would turn up!

Their confidence was suddenly increased by the discovery of the killer’s blood on some of the snow, showing that he had been wounded and that they had not imagined it, and they collected some and examined it and Bryson was amazed that it actually looked different and as though the person had something on the wound that had altered it somehow – and he wondered if they would trace and catch him if he got away.

Through one of the police communicators he listened to the police back at the castle communicate with the police somewhere else and he listened to their exchanges with interest and heard them mention a helicopter coming out.

When it finally appeared it was far darker and they saw its light racing over the trees, going towards the castle, and he wondered how long it would take to reappear over them. He wondered where the guy was going to and why he thought there was no danger being there in the wood at night? Had the guy originally intended to stay in the castle at night? And where was he going to now?

He decided to accept that the person knew of the disturbances and deaths that had occurred in the wood and wondered if he had made a mistake being there at night or if he had some means of avoiding it, and Bryson started considering all the things available to him. Yet there were few and going by the direction that they were going in that he might pass part of one of the tunnels or there might be another, if there was an entrance to it there.

When he saw one of the police with a map of the region he examined it and saw that there was a small place about twenty miles out across the wood in front of them and he wondered if the guy intended to go there, and he thought he might have made a mistake as if he reached there surely they could be waiting for him. Yet would the guy attempt to get there at night or did he have a hiding place?

The heavy blizzard, going deep into the thick wood, started obscuring their view the darker that it got and they tried to catch up with the guy more.

The snow glowed brightly in their lights, from their lights beaming out, and Bryson spotted the beam of light from police helicopter beam through the wood as it followed their path to them, and he wondered what would happen?

It was turning too dark and he grew tired from the evening spent searching the castle and he remained confused at what the police knew about the disturbances there and if they would make the mistake of staying there in the dark night and he could not think of a proper way to tell them of the dangers that existed there!

To his disappointment the helicopter flew straight overhead blowing up all the snow at them and throwing the blizzard about it, and it raced away into the distance, and he tried to hear what one of the others in front of him was talking about on his communicator, but could not, and was happy to see the helicopter return and stop at a place ahead of them – where he saw it land on an empty region of ground in the trees.

Away in the distance they watched three of the police using their lights to search for something beside the helicopter, and the police around Bryson all tried to see what was happening, through all the trees, and they raced towards them.

The policeman with the communicator hollered to them to go faster – now with his communicator blaring out at full volume with the frantic voices of the police over at the helicopter.

Another policeman eventually grabbed it and started to use it to speak to one of the men there, that he knew, who told them to come over as fast as they could.

 

Chapter 20

 

The Death

 

Bryson rushed over to the helicopter, going in front of the rest of the police, determined to find out what happened, and was blinded by the helicopter’s bright light blasting through the blackness and he waited until he saw where the police from the helicopter were and moved over to them, standing away in the distance around something in the vegetation.

Bryson rushed over, sensing that it was needed for some reason, almost blinded by the mixture of intense lights and darkness, considering everything that he was up against and attempting to observe every place at the one time.

He listened and all he noticed was the wind blowing the trees about the police ahead, with snow blowing around wildly.

Then just before he reached them he darted over to them and one of them turned and shone his torch over him, and one of the other police there acknowledged that he knew Bryson and that he was with them.

In all the footsteps in the snow Bryson suddenly noticed the killer’s footprints and that they staggered around and he saw that he had collapsed where the police were standing around, and he saw a trail of blood to him, from him clearly being shot by them.

They had attempted to fix his wound with bandages, and when Bryson stood beside them he saw that he was close to death.

Yet the police still had their hands on their guns at their sides!

By their reactions he was sure that they did not have a clue what they were dealing with for some reason and he searched for the reason. It was dark, within the grounds of the castle, and they had chased a vicious killer and had shot him.

From the helicopter they had easily traced him out into the dark wood, blanketed in deep snow.

The clothing of the killer was thick and wrapped around him, almost entirely covering him, and Bryson froze trying to see his face – expecting him to pull out a gun and start a gun battle.

When he saw that he had been handcuffed Bryson moved to his side to see what the problem was, and saw his face, and watch heaps of snow falling about him from the pine trees.

Bryson’s heart exploded, beating faster than he had ever felt it beat, when he saw its facial features!

He watched the figure almost fall over sideways, barely able to stay alive, and he saw its blood and that it was different.

The other police that were with Bryson strolled there, not shining their lights there – as though not daring to – approaching in wonder as though they were going to meet the devil himself.

When one of the police standing around him shone his light there they all were dumbstruck, and wondering what it was?

Bryson stared down in horror at what he was positive was a genetic cross between a human and some sort of alien, crippled on the ground!

It resembled some form of ghost, with it giving weak splutters from its form of mouth!

“Do you know what it is?” one of the police muttered, slightly shivering and gritting his teeth with the cold.

And they waited for Bryson to say something!

“I want to talk to it first!” he pleaded, and they moved back as he knelt down beside it.

“A scientist!” its weak voice muttered, and Bryson nodded in agreement, knowing that it could speak his language.

“Where did you come from?” he asked confused.

“A gateway threw a few of my species here years ago! They were trapped here, unable to return. I’m one of their experiments, and crossed with them and your species! I am the last of them! They were unable to return after all! They also made me to handle your species, communicate with your species, your outside world, and I was to find a way for them to return home! They built those tunnels you used to find the castle! They were built to get about the wood safely!”

“Were you watching us?”

“I used their technology to detect you and follow where you were going …”

“Why did you kill the people here?” one of the police finally asked, amazed at what it was. “And where were you going to?”

“They could’ve killed me …! My species were killed here …!”

“There was a skeleton in a large dome cavity within the tunnel,” Bryson continued. “How did that happen?”

“Some of the people of my race still worshiped ancient gods! They gave the sacrifices to the gods, believing that they had been punishing them putting them here!”

Bryson saw it was weakening and decided to alter the subject!

“What were you looking for in the library that he found? You left all the books disrupted!”

“I have been trying to find a way back to my world to tell them what happened – and you found more information, which I had to check …”

“Did you discover anything?”

It pulled out a crumbled bit of paper and allowed it to fall at its side, unable to move any further.

Bryson instantly picked it up and examined it.

“It’s a page from a diary? There’s nothing really on it?”

“It’s more! It’s definite proof of the diary of your ancestor – William Randall! I’ve been searching for it for most of my life.”

He stared down at its body cringing onto life, with blood pouring from its mouth, and it fell over dead and Bryson strolled away watching the confused faces of the police, wondering what they really thought of it.

 

Chapter 21

 

Another Death

 

At a top floor room window Bryson observed most of the police leaving in helicopters and was amazed to see the body of the alien being put aboard a military helicopter and Mitchell shaking hands with a high-ranking officer and Mitchell handing him his report and being handed documents and his orders.

Bryson knew there was far more behind it and Mitchell, and the military being there, and he left it there as he knew he was going to get information about it! Mitchell was being far more open than he had been, and would be if he intended to be secretive, and he wondered what Mitchell would have put in his report for when he had gone into library tunnel and through the vortex.

He even considered searching his stuff to have a look at what he had put down! What had happened to him? Had it been just the same? He thought of ways to get him to reveal what he wanted, realizing that it might not be secretive any longer.

What was their story? Why was he there? Why did they not send in an entire military group to search the place? It would take them far longer for them to get results the way that they were working there!

He felt amazed at actually meeting an alien and one of the builders of the tunnels out there, and the killer that they had been hunting for, with the police everywhere and the story being covered by the media in such depth.

The problem now was he never thought the other death was the alien killer and that something else had completely drained the body of water and of something else that they could not recognize.

A glance into the corridor once again showed him that the archaeologists were scanning regions of the castle with their equipment as they had said they would.

Bryson was amazed at the destruction some had made and they had removed the lower ceiling to reveal the original ceiling, made of solid oak beams, and he considered what it would be like being upon the castle roof and wondered why they never searched there?

The wires from the lights had rot and webs over them and had been easily broken and were in bits scattered over the floor, and he eyed up the mess wondering why they had not left it and if someone intended to fix it as they would have no lights there if they were not repaired.

The place would have to be cleaned up anyway or left if the place remained with its disturbances, as many more deaths would follow, and he wondered how the hell they would handle the situation? Would the military make it a forbidden zone?

Bryson marched along the corridor occasionally looking into rooms, which the others had clearly rigorously searched through, and he made an occasional search of anything that looked interesting to see if he could spot anything that they had not.

Bryson decided to go and see William, and left the top floor, and was amazed to see the police rushing up the stairs on the next floor and going out to the scene of another death, and he decided to follow to discover what had happened.

At the door of a room, where the police had gone in, Bryson studied a crumpled up body of one of the police and gasped and realized that all the police would be returning there, and he realized that he recognized the policeman and had seen him a few times at the lounge and he tried to see if he had missed anything about the death and if there was anything different this time, and as he did he realized that the police there thought the alien was the culprit – and that they thought there was another there.

Again the body was completely drained of water and of something else that he could not recognize and he saw why they had blamed the alien, and he even considered if it had been. The alien in the wood had been a genetic cross with a human! What if the proper alien was far different? The genetic cross version was clearly adapted to meet and talk to humans.

According to the alien they had advanced technology – and had built the tunnels – and had made human sacrifices to their ancient gods. Yet it could have lied to cover up there being aliens there, or were there others that it had not known about?

 

Chapter 22

 

The Invasion

 

Only a few days had passed and six more deaths had occurred in the castle, and Bryson realized that there must be at least a hundred policemen there now.

The entire castle and media to Bryson seemed to be going crazy – mentioning and thinking of the occurrences at the castle!

The deaths were unbelievable and all done in the same hideous fashion leaving the victims drained of energy! The police could not realize anything new now! And it seemed something was killing people all about them, right under their noses, which was totally unbelievable, and it was like someone had come up with something to make a fool of them all and ruin their methods of detection and representation. All their leading people from all over the country were trying to solve the mystery! The most advanced surveillance methods and equipment were everywhere monitoring the place night and day.

Yet the problem with it was that they never put it in people’s rooms or in the rooms that the people were working in – but in the main places and corridors that any person would have to through to get someone, including the outer building.

Yet most of the people now had phones and were sharing rooms and could hear any sounds from the rooms next to them, as well as having the corridors monitored by the police and soldiers guarding them.

What annoyed Bryson was nothing indicated and gave any clues to what it was!

William seemed confused and to be in danger like the rest of them and Bryson and everyone else watched him everywhere, and he just gave confused remarks.

There were stories being put on television for days and mainly because it was the only real occurrence that was happening! Everyone seemed to be taking an interest in it and their safety! Most, Bryson believed, wondered what would happen if it started occurring everywhere – and they could not even control the region of the castle!

Everyone took it that it had been a human killer and not something else, which was only suggested, clearly because of the castle! Surely something so hideous, evil, and unearthly that they suggested could not exist? He tried to ignore how hideous it was, trying to look upon it as an artist observed a crazy exhibit, but it was no use! Something was now out to get them! The things in the wood, if they were not the culprits, were nothing compared to it and they now looked as if they had been playing with them and only scaring them away from their territory.

The thing, whatever it was, played with their imaginations and they were not allowed to get anything about it and if it had been something like the aliens that had built the tunnels in the wood. There still was no connection and anything in the castle!

He had thoughts that it could be what had caused all the deaths through the centuries and that the thing had been thrown out of one of the gateways, vortex in the tunnel, or from what had put the aliens there. It could have been trapped there, and perhaps not been such a killer, and it could either have gone mad or something had happened to it to make that way.

The only real evidence that existed was what had happened to the people killed by it! The complexion of the bodies showed it had drained them of blood and showed the deadliness of the place, and their chances of survival had vastly decreased and danger could now exist there in the castle and during the day.

They never knew what they were up against and how to survive against it! They were becoming defenseless and they could not do anything about it!

They were confused more than he could ever recall seeing the police and they had difficulty talking about what was occurring because they had so little!

Strange thoughts of him leaving the cold confines of the place and whole region gave him shivers of ecstatic pleasure once again!

Yet the pleasure they would get if they solved the case and showed it to the world was far greater, and it was clear in the things that they said, especially in the dinning room when they were not working. It was a classic new scenario and there seemed no way to solve it! Something had to happen? How could they stay there with more and more deaths occurring without what was behind it being caught?

Bryson kept thinking of it at two angles and that he could leave and go on holiday to some hot place next to a desert or when he realized what was happening that he quite definitely would have to be forced into leave there as he did not want to miss what happened there.

He worked out the exact time the deaths occurred and asked the police what their times for the deaths occurring were and they all closely matched, and he recorded all the times, and he tried to compare the times with each other to see what they all had in common. What had been happening there when the deaths had occurred? Were they at the same times of the day or were they at times something happened?

Yet after a great deal of investigation he only proved that they were random times! He also checked the people who had been killed and what they had in common, what they had been doing, and at the time of their deaths, and what locations they had been in and he established that there were no real connections other than that they had been on their own and mainly in places that people had not been near, which showed whatever it had been had deliberately hidden itself, which he considered might show that it might be destroyed.

Was the thing only being safe, preferring solitude, or did it have weaknesses and could be destroyed? The thing could be anything though? It surely was not of this world! It could have been a normal powerful alien life form turned into one of the most deadliest entities, still with reactions of its original self, and he considered how they could use that? Could they find a way to scare it from there? Could they persuade it to do something else?

The police still unsuccessfully tried to discover how the killer had drained the victims of water and energy, and there was a suggestion a scientist was thought be involved or the technology of one had been used. Yet Bryson never believed anything to do with any scientists was involved, and he knew that the thing doing it did not really need what it was taking from them – unless it was some form of vampire.

He believed it was using the best way it could to kill them, and silently and quickly!

The rooms that most of the victims had been found in left them wondering why they had been there working alone!

Most of them still felt safe in the inhabited regions of the castle!

He could not get why no sounds seemed to be heard from the attacks? Why the deaths had not been heard? And he knew that the castle and its thick stones and strange formation could alter sounds – making silent sounds travel further at some places and stop even the loudest sounds being heard at some nearby places!

The police seemed to have secrets concerning the alien killer that they had killed in the wood and many of them thought there were more – and that they clearly had the technology to carry out the deaths. They had built the tunnels there!

Why kill them though? The alien in the wood had done it to survive and not get caught! The only logical reason, other than it liked it, was that it was determined to destroy them or scare them away from the castle!

 

Chapter 23

 

The Military

 

Bryson was amazed when he entered the psychic researcher’s room, at the tunnel with the vortex, where the scientists were still setting up equipment around the wall where the vortex was behind, and that their equipment had gone beyond anything that he had seen, which was immense and powerful, and the power supply there had been increased immensely to it with large cables being fed into there from massive generators.

He had not even been able to get near Merton and Mortimer, who now were just advisors on things! They had so much work that they had not slept in a long time!

The military scientists there had full control of the situation, and they clearly knew the equipment far greater than any of them.

The military’s mission there seemed to be a death or glory scenario. He was sure that they really wanted answers to what was there – and not to free the castle from what was there – and get any new technology or advancements there were a far greater achievement. Their interest in the aliens there was tremendous and far more than he had thought! They were checking out all the tunnels there and the alien that the police had killed, and where he had been staying and everything about him.

They had seen the story all over the media and had decided in sending in more people to investigate. Yet there was still much confusion on what was happening there and what was there, and they could only really investigate things as far he was concerned.

Some high-ranking officers had arrived and were being escorted around places by Mitchell, which Bryson gave occasional gasps at, thinking of what was killing people there. There had been two more deaths, unseen and unsolved again, and three sightings of other things of paranormal that resembled ghosts. The disturbances were clearly increasing and Bryson and the other scientists were working away to solve the situation, and find a solution, and he had been surprised that the treasure there was being forgotten, for the moment anyway.

Bryson was amazed when Merton and Mortimer handed him a military report and other documents, which they insisted he saw, perhaps to give his opinion on.

Documents told of investigations there going back to the start of the last century, before Pendleton and his friends had arrived there, and of police investigations that had told of paranormal disturbances, and why they and the military had left the place, and gave major investigations in the sixties that had ended with all the scientists there being killed and their bodies being found later, and that they had fenced the entire region off, and not allowed anyone near there, and that it had been left for people of the future to investigate someday with proper technology and ways of investigating and handling what existed there.

Again Bryson realized that all the scientists there were in danger, and that he would be lucky to get away from there alive!

Bryson knew there was far more behind Mitchell and the military being there, and he left things there. He wondered again what Mitchell would have put in his report about his entering the tunnel and going through the vortex.

In the end the paranormal scientists had decided against going near or in the direct path of the alien if they were able to detect where it was, which was what they were attempting to do, and to locate the vortex and everything with it in other dimensions, and find out what was there and build up an illustration of it and what they were dealing with.

The problem was getting their equipment to work as their attempts had so far failed there, and the stuff had never been fully and properly tested as not very many things existed in other dimensions.

If anything attacked them they had a procedure to escape from there, which Bryson thought was all they could do at the moment!

He wondered if it would turn predictable, since it could beat their weapons and had killed large amounts of soldiers, and mainly intended to wipe everyone out and scare the living daylights out of them.

All the paranormal scientists had recently had consultations with all the other scientists and the military and they now entirely left their minds open to what was there and would happen.

Bryson was surprised that when one of the scientists started cheerfully calling them over to a computer screen and showed a blurred view of the vortex in the tunnel, which Bryson was sure was of the vortex in another dimension as it was normally invisible and he had only seen it when he had entered it in an altered state in another dimension.

“This is entirely new!” Mortimer stated, considering it from various perspectives, and he watched it as if he had been waiting all his life to see what was there, and gasped slightly.

“What do you make of it?” Mitchell asked, walking over to them. “We so far have had nothing properly put forward on what its identity is?”

“How about calling it a vortex?” Bryson stated, realizing that Mitchell had entered the vortex too.

“You’re right! It can be called some form of vortex!”

“Well, it’s a start!” Mortimer continued. “The visible part of the vortex has been detected in another dimension! We should be able search what else is there. For instance what is causing the vortex to exist, and what it really is? Maybe even places it leads to!”

They were there to investigate what other scientists had not and to do it to a greater degree every time and Bryson was positive by their reactions that they had never had their day yet and they now never considered that they might never come upon anything, and achieve their goal, and that it would not be left for the people who followed them someday to find and get marked in the history books for.

If only they could find something there that had gone undetected by everyone else, with their detection methods and equipment being improved!

He gasped when he considered what they could come up with if they had something that really worked – as they had advanced far further than he had even imagined, and the place was packed solid with ever form of equipment possible and it went beyond his imagination what they might do.

It was like an experiment to Merton and Mortimer to see what would happen if they pushed beyond the boundaries of natural science, and out into the supernatural.

The dark sky of the place through the room widow now showed him the abyss of billions of light years of space, and the dangers of their exploration, and he considered if they would find anything if they used the equipment at night.

 

Chapter 24

 

The Interdimensional Surveillance

 

Once they had moved all the equipment that they needed over to a room at the second tunnel the other scientists joined them, and Mitchell arrived, and stood wondering, looking slightly annoyed and watching the equipment.

The scientists decided to check the second tunnel at the same time as the other tunnel with their improved outer dimensional scan, to see if they were connected to each as the majority of the scientists believed, which Bryson also wanted to find out.

It was morning and the scientists had increased the power of the dimensional scan and had started exploring the other tunnel.

Bryson sensed that there was something that they were not saying, but he knew he would only needed to wait for them to tell what it was as they were in danger and needed to give all the information that they could, to survive there.

While he considered what could happen next the scientists started examining the information on their screens on the equipment, and he wondered if the stuff worked anything like the stuff for detecting neutrinos, and he considered what it did.

“It’s found something new!” Merton announced, updating Mitchell and the other scientists on what they had found. “I’ve not seen anything like it! It is unknown and looks like it has intelligence!”

“An entity/life form that exists in there,” Mitchell announced, examining the wall, where the tunnel was behind. “What’s it like? Is it that thing that’s killing everyone here?”

“We do not know if it is a life form – or what it is – but it exists in many other dimensions!”

Bryson was fascinated and realized that it was what had tried to make contact with him, and surely had made William appear.

All the scientists were fascinated and confused at what they were going to end up with – another incredible find or disaster!

“Well, what will we do now?” Mitchell enquired. “Do you make contact with it?”

“It might have made some form of contact with us already!” Bryson announced.

“When did that happen?”

“William! His appearance occurred after I entered this tunnel, where I was sure something was trying to make contact!”

“William does not know what he is or is doing? But according the other scientists document on him he had to have been put here to check us out …”

“But he would have to be doing it without knowing it … As he would have said or we would have noticed him checking things. He also ignored many things – and sources of information put near him that would have been of interest!”

“Perhaps it is both!” Merton replied. “It was put there to make contact and check you! It might have underestimated and thought we were something different and had not understood what William was and capable of! There are suggestions in the all the accounts of it in the past from its first appearance on this world that it never fully knew what it was doing. It is surely far different and not from this universe in other dimensions and is mentioned as arriving here to check out the other the thing at the other castle, which it’s mentioned in trying to make contact with. It could very well be designed to make contact, but damaged itself!”

“That’s the best and most explained solution that I’ve heard since I heard of this whole affair!” Mitchell replied, thanking him.

Bryson was surprised and decided to keep it as what Merton suggested until anything else appeared.

Like some phenomenon occurred the instruments scanning the alien showed it in outer dimensions with incredible levels of energy, and all the scientists studied the recordings that they gave them fascinated.

“So this thing really exists and is in other dimensions!” Mitchell announced, taking out his communicator to call the military control center of it and all the other findings.

Bryson noticed some form of powerful magnetic influence from it being registered on some of the equipment, and realized that it had confused them, and that he would get answers on it later.

“What could create such power?” Mitchell asked, observing them understanding the information more.

“This thing is tremendous!” Merton stated. “I can now see why they could not destroy it. The majority of it is in the other dimensions – and it is not made of normal matter. It is made of energy to us – but it is far more in its own dimensions.”

“What do think it wants?” Mitchell asked.

“That I am not sure of!”

“Could it just be evil?” Mitchell asked, trying to see if they thought of it as the paranormal entity that it looked like. “And if it’s not what is killing everyone here for?”

“I cannot fully answer that! But I think at one point when it arrived at the castle it had to defend itself and created things to defend it – and it did not fully know what it was creating or was up against – as with William, and it does not fully know what it or William is doing here – if it even knows about it at all – as I believe it is not fully conscious! There are mention of it and other things altering and going dormant. It must have been damaged or its energy source grows weak, or both? It surely has not seen anything like us! That can be proven by its original behavior and it trying to adapt itself to here. I think it still tries to learn and collect information though!”

“That’s very interesting” Mitchell answered firmly.

Mitchell began talking to someone on his communicator, and asked Merton, “What form does this multidimensional take in this dimension, and as a whole through dimensions? And what do you call it, if you had to give it some form of identification?”

“I am not sure I can answer all that yet – as it is through dimensions – and our equipment has not been adapted for that yet – and has different energy states in them all. It is more an entity! We have not fully realized what it is! It is in what is like the depths of space, at the most different region from our environment as it can get. So I doubt I can properly compare it at the moment! We have so little, and know so little about its identity …”

“And they may not fully believe you?” Mitchell moaned, as he listened to the response from the military control center. “And they want to know if we can properly back up the claims you made already?”

“Exactly! They will need to know everything that they can about it – as they will need to destroy it!”

“We need as much as possible in detecting it and capturing it – if we cannot destroy it! And they can throw it back out there in space or something, where it belongs!”

 

Chapter 25

 

The Treasure Expedition

 

Bryson and Pendleton arrived at a room at the virtually unexplored ground floor, without anyone seeing them going there. It was where the bottom of the second tunnel was, and came to an end, which Pendleton occasionally gasped at.

Bryson still could not believe that they were still coming across highly potential unexplored spots, where the treasure could be buried away.

After a great deal of thought and information from the scans of the tunnel Bryson started realizing that William Randall could have buried it at the bottom of the tunnel, with the thing in it to scare away anyone going there. Pendleton’s memory had returned and he insisted that the other two treasure hunters with him had insisted that it was there and that it was buried away at the bottom.

The room was an ordinary castle room, which had clearly not been entered by anyone for a long time by the webs covering it everywhere, and he also noticed that no footprints were on the dust on the carpet.

Bryson could not get why the others never thought the treasure had been there on the ground floor, and neither could Pendleton.

The tunnel had been there at the exact location they had traced it to, and Pendleton was sure that they would have found the treasure there and he was sure that they had only entered the tunnel at the top floor as it had looked the best place!

The wall grabbed their attention as its thickness was the same as the other rooms the tunnels were in.

The archaeologists had given up scanning walls and had found nothing with it. Their scans were not good and their scans of the other tunnel had shown little! Their equipment needed to be improved!

Bryson repeatedly thumped his hand hard against the wall, intensely listening for anything, while he slowly moved across it.

Bryson easily located the tunnel behind the wall but instead of finding the boulders at the spot he discovered something larger, and peeled away the wallpaper with Pendleton until they revealed what looked like a solid block of stone, the size of a doorway, surrounded by castle boulders.

Bryson stood amazed at how he and so many others could have missed such a thing! How could they have found the tunnel in the library and not even bothered going to the bottom of it? It even made him gasp as he wondered if they had avoided going there for a reason? The thing up there was hideous, even if they were now thinking of it as a normal life form trying to escape from its confines, and having advanced intelligence.

He was sure the ancient historical castle had many hidden secrets and treasures buried away and wondered if they might find anything else there.

At first he thought that he would have to force the slab in or destroy it completely but when he pushed it he saw it was a door, made of stone, and he carefully shifted the awkward mass of stone in, in stages, into the wall, as Pendleton stayed ready to help.

They were both obsessed and Bryson had to push it further with all his weight and strength, as it became stuck with dirt and stone around its edges, and his clambering resumed until he had it out of the way and they could enter the tunnel.

His eyes occasionally fell on the mess under him with little interest! The thick layer of stone and dust fragments were scattered across the ground and he started brushing it away with his shoe to see what was below, and found more castle stones!

He turned on his light and looked further, and he wondered if the scientists working above would detect their presence there, with amusement.

Bryson was sure that the thing above only reacted to things at certain distances, but he was unsure about them being below it!

Yet why did it not work through the walls? He had been in the rooms behind the wall with the other scientists and nothing occurred there!

He turned the light upwards and examined the tunnel going upwards. What was it? What was there? He had put together everything that they had found and he now could barely believe most of it! Was there something else there hiding itself?

He shone the powerful light straight up the tunnel, where he saw the tunnel going up to the castle roof, and as his sight adjusted to it he saw nothing and started to wonder what it was built for?

Yet it seemed too large to be a chimney and there was no trace of soot or anything that would surely be there, even if they had it cleaned. Although there was the chance that nobody had really used it and that any marks were hidden now.

His breathing echoed into it, and its coldness made clouds of steam come out of his mouth going up into it.

Suddenly sounds started emerging above and he wondered if he had activated it!

They started sounding mind-bending and started screaming through the shaft until they had a fury that stunned him, with some sounding like screams and others like wailing spirits, and he wondered if there were other dangers there at the bottom that were not at the top? Could the thing come down and escape? And get them outside the tunnel?

Clouds of powdered dirt and stone fell about at different points around boulders above as though the tunnel were being shaken by an earthquake. Dust swirled through his beam of light as he wondered where the treasure would be buried away? And he sheltered it going into his eyes.

He imagined Pendleton and the other two treasure hunters there years before, during the Second World War, hanging on their ropes, just over the disturbance, which he tried to locate.

He watched what was happening carefully, which he had not been able to do when he had been in the other tunnel on the steps, surrounded in darkness, or when he was above sticking his head in the tunnel, and he wondered how dangerous it really was and if he was going to be killed by it.

He lost his balance and grabbed hold of part of a castle boulder he was resting against behind him and it came away in his hand, and he glimpsed its dark shape and felt it wondering what it was, and he finally shined the light over it and saw something that resembled a piece of wood from the building of the castle.

He then realized some sounds were now not emerging from lower down than they had been and he saw that something was coming downwards, and he thought that he heard one emerge just above him and he listened intensely with confusion.

Sounds were manifesting everywhere as though there were invisible unidentifiable things surrounding there, and strange glowing and swirling forces seemed to form in the blackness.

While he tried to see what was going on at an area he noticed that light was moving downwards and he fixed his eyes onto a strange orb of light floating down, and it all swiftly vanished, and he stood wondering what had happened to it all?

Bryson turned sensing something was in the room and saw William standing blankly staring at him, beside Pendleton, and Bryson walked into the room and shut the stone doorway, blocking the entrance to the tunnel, and saw William and Pendleton staring at the thing that he had in his hand, which he had thought had been a discarded piece wood from the building of the castle, and he realized that it was an ancient book.

 

Chapter 26

 

The Diary

 

The page that the alien had given Bryson, when it had died in the wood, fitted into the diary and confirmed it was authentic!

When he started reading it William’s appearance at the tunnel haunted his thoughts, making him wonder why he was there? What had the entity put him there for?

It was as though he should not be there! He could not tell them or explain how he knew they had been there at the tunnel. Only that he had to go there, and Bryson was amazed at the way the thing in the tunnel had vanished when he had appeared.

What was the connection? If the thing there had made him, what did it want him to do? It clearly took control of him at times and used him to do things!

The ancient book was incredible and he had known it was something by the way William had reacted and had waited for him to read it, and Bryson had been more than fascinated when he had read it and found it was William Randall’s diary! He had actually found William Randall’s diary! It had been left upright in a gap in the wall, where it had resembled part of the wall, with a withered cover that resembled a dirt covered stone.

It felt like he had been waiting all his life to find it and that everything else had been the build up to it. What it contained he could not even guess, and he guarded it greatly, and he did not want to show it to anyone until he had ruthlessly checked it.

He soon realized that it was not a normal diary and that it had strange things scribbled through it, with a quill pen, and he conjured up images of his ancestor wearing ancient clothes at a desk writing it.

The more he read it the more important it became and the less he thought of his ancestor writing it, and it even gave him details of the hidden treasure.

There was no doubt about it the book explained occurrences at the castle, and he wondered what his thoughts of the castle had been at that time in history.

At times it was like the whole castle was something else – created for some function that he could not even imagine – which went beyond his understanding.

As he read it he repeatedly wondered what the people in the past would have given for the book that he had in front of him, and what the aliens, who had built the tunnels in the wood, would have given for it?

He recalled all the accounts and things that he had heard!

What had been the truth about the stories that had said something had happened that had killed them all? So if it had been true what had happened and how had the entity ended up in the tunnel and in the other tunnel? Why had it not moved away into the other dimensions? What was keeping it there? Surely there had to be something there that they were missing? Perhaps it was disguised as something or was hidden away? Such advanced technology could achieve virtually anything and it could be something that he had not even considered possible?

He had always wanted to explore and discover something new of value and greatness, and even be remembered in history!

What interested and alarmed them was why it was hidden in such a place and had created such occurrences? What was it they were dealing with anyway? Why was it in such a far out place?

Something of unfathomable unidentifiable supernatural nature sounded as though it were there trapped in some form of magnetic or energy field, trapped and trying to free itself from something, ultimately escaping to another location of liberty, and he imagining some form of spirit trapped there for centuries.

Bryson again started to realize the implications of the find and that they might check what was there someday, and that he better start finding information about it.

The book started by stating facts that were given in the accounts that Bryson had read and that the origins of the entity had occurred in 1620 when fishermen at a fishing village had witnessed its materialization, and that it had appeared over the morning mist over the sea as a bright light of immense magnitude, and that everybody that had witnessed it had realized that it had been something of great power and intelligence, and that they had seen it landing and that they had followed it to where it had crashed.

William Randall had thought he had seen everything until he had been shown it by the fishermen and it had fascinated him, and though he had been a scientist of that time he believed in forms of magic and witchcraft, especially after his encounter with the first transcendent and its artifact at the first castle, and the entity had powers going beyond anything he had seen.

Something had damaged it before it had crashed and it had continually altered, and had been made of energy, and altered from something and had been trying to adapt to something and had been trapped in something invisible to them.

At one point they had believed it would vanish completely from existence but it had been later perceived that it had entered some form of damaged or dormant state, surely exhausted of energy from either its extraordinary manifestation, impact with the world, or it not having existed in their form of existence.

The original transcendent at the first castle had died before he had taken it to the castle, where it had slowly altered into something that they could not understand, and they had tried to use its magic.

They had found some ways of communicating with it when it had created the second William Randall and they had used it to build the second castle with its powers.

Through the second William Randall they had learned that it had traced the original transcendent and artifact there into this universe, and it had occasionally attempted to mimic it and make contact with it and analyze it. It had been unable to repair itself and had been trapped and could not fully achieve its objective and fully understand.

At the second castle they had tried to use it for magical purposes, and it had foreseen some future occurrences, but had unsuccessfully tried to accumulate its powers to use themselves.

They had used it to create castle defenses when they had been threatened with annihilation by an army, which they had not been able to do properly, and had improvised and as a result of it had turned the castle into what it was, which had killed all of the people there, except William Randall who had been at the other castle when it had happened, and he had found out about it later when he had gone there, and it had entered a dormant state.

The second William Randall had been killed there and they had put him in the tomb at the second castle.

They had not been able to deactivate it and had split it into two parts to weaken its powers and they had put them into the two ventilation shafts.

Bryson finished the diary realizing that it had left the deadliest menace in the world at the castle and he tried to work out how they could possibly approach it without being killed, to return it to where it had originated!

 

Chapter 27

 

The Voyage Beyond the Cosmos

 

For a moment Bryson sensed a weird sensation as though something had happened and something else was going to happen!

The scientists were calibrating their equipment in the room at the second tunnel and Bryson watched them gasp, and even Mitchell stood dazed, as they realized what was going to happen. It was absurdly dangerous beyond anything that Bryson could realize and he had not heard of anything like it being done before.

William had been found to be able to communicate properly with the entity in the second tunnel at a close distance, and they had used it locate the two parts of the entity in the ventilation shafts, which had been discovered to be solid matter.

They had used William to stop it from attacking or throwing them into gateways going beyond the universe and they found that they were small black slabs like shiny black stone, measuring three feet by three feet with a thickness of half a foot, which were fitted above the entrances into the tunnels, disguised as the castle stones there.

It had surprised Bryson that William Randall had persuaded the entity to make itself into solid matter! Bryson had been able to touch them without being killed or thrown out of space and time into some other world, and the scientists found a way of joining them together by using the entity and William and it had formed into a rectangle black alien artifact identical to the rectangle transparent black shape that he had visualized in the second tunnel, when it had tried to make contact with him.

They had found ways to increase the communications between William and the entity by using specially designed equipment, connected to the alien artifact.

William was in a seat where he had objects covering his head connected to equipment that monitored him and his thoughts and transmitted his thoughts to the alien artifact.

Bryson realized that they had been correct in informing the entity that the other transcendent and its alien artifact at the other castle no longer existed, which it had been stuck there trying to make contact with, and it had told them that it had detected it was. It had been designed to meet it and destroy it if it was a danger to it or its creators – and it had been unable to do it as it had been damaged by having its energy source damaged, which had happened so fast that it had not realized what had happened.

They had all watched it activating their equipment – which they had taught William how to use and how it worked.

All the scientists had stood back as it burst into life – using massive amounts of energy fed to it through attached cables – with the sheer energy making the castle about them vibrate and lurch!

Even though it was a great deal of energy to them it was little to the entity – but enough to allow it to do what they had told it to do – and to open a gateway through time to itself before it had entered this universe, just before it had made its appearance on this world where it had failed to get enough energy.

All the scientists there realized immediately that it was working and that it had achieved its mission – and that it could use the energy supply from itself in past!

Bryson realized that they had actually found out from their questioning of it that it was partly programmed, but nothing like their computers, or from this universe, and that it mainly functioned carrying out what it had been created for and that it had been a form of time probe – which they had not been properly able to deduce – as vast amounts of information that it had could not be translated or understood, and had no equivalent.

For a moment Bryson wondered if it could change history and do something like stop itself from entering the universe in 1620, when the fishermen at the fishing village had witnessed its materialization and bright light exploding out of the early morning mist over the sea, like a crazy shooting star.

Suddenly William and the alien artifact vanished and Bryson realized the hideous reality of the situation and that they had let it loose on the universe and on the whole of time!

In the first place it had been virtual mad when it had been split in half! It surely had been altered by William Randall and his men’s experiments – and them altering it to believe in tales of witchcraft, magic, demons, and hell – and the other transcendent haunting the other castle that it had mimicked – and there was no proper proof that it was undamaged by its entrance into the universe, and it crashing into the world!

Though they all soon sensed that it had not and felt its power and intelligence, and how sane it was, and that it was far more than anything that he had ever thought existed!

Light from it exploded everywhere all over the world showing them its new existence – and entities in the form of large bright globes appeared around them and slowly vanished.

When it finished Bryson felt vaguely confused but knew that it had left the universe and that they had done everything that they could for it, and the world.

He then wondered if William had told him the truth earlier that day when he had told him that William Randall had got his treasure from the entity, which had collected it from many sources, and that he had only removed part of the treasure to the other castle – which had been what Bryson had found at the other castle – and that the remains of the treasure had been buried away in a secret chamber under floor of the second tunnel.

When Bryson investigated it he was staggered to find Pendleton there already, digging up the ground under the second tunnel and that he had just uncovered the secret chamber, and both of them climbed into it and found an entire room full of treasure.

 

Epilogue

 

The Transcendent Voyager

 

For billions of years the transcendent voyager had existed never wholly knowing what had created it or where it had originated, carrying out its mission of searching through time and space in its universe for abnormalities, unknown civilizations and species, and transcendent entities with colossal powers and capabilities and to destroy them if they were dangerous to reality and what its programming considered dangerous.

It had been designed and given technology beyond anything else that it had encountered and had the abilities to search its universe in a degree and with abilities that would not have been believed to exist by the most advanced transcendences and civilizations, and would have been thought of as magical powers, and it had the ability to search its universe throughout time.

Its form had been an invisible complex mass of energy, stored in many dimensions, that had been built to last forever, and it directly entered stars to energize itself and store its vast powers for extensive amounts of time.

Its stores of information had been vast and it had the ability to collect as much information on what it had been programmed for eternally and improve its defenses and other abilities, and it had become the ultimate weapon of destruction against the destruction of its universe.

It had stored the technology and abilities of zillions of species and had the ability to recognize and handle what it had been searching for within a range of its universe.

At one point it had unintentionally left the universe and had entered an outer universe that it had not known the existence of, where colossal amounts of universes had existed, and on its entrance there its programming had accepted it as the real universe and that it had to accept it as the universe that it had to carry out its mission in.

At first it had been unable to enter the universes and properly detect anything in them and it used all its information and studied how it had entered the outer universe and found a way to enter them and locate particular things in them, but infinite amounts of things of unknown origins existed in them.

In supernatural universes it had learned to open and use gateways that shifted it accurately to destinations. It discovered far more than it had ever realized could exist and it gave itself colossal magical abilities and energies and it had analyzed everything in a greater degree.

On its first entrances to the universes it had been left staggered when it had encountered something of unknown origins that had drained its energy from it!

Something had virtually absorbed all its power instantly on its entrance of the Earth’s atmosphere, only leaving it with some of its energy in other dimensions, which it had not considered possible as it had not been possible in its own universe, and it could not get proper amounts of power in other dimensions and had to fight to survive and had continuously tried to alter and adapt to something that it could survive as, and it had to create dormant states and ways of collecting energy from small sources and storing it until it had enough to reactivate itself, and work on finding a source powerful enough for it to use to leave there.

Even though it had not done much in its damaged condition, with its vast abilities virtually unusable, it had been able to explore things through supernatural gateways into universes, going out into the strangest places, and it had even considered if there had been others such as it in the endless universes and if they had created it, and if it could contact them to help it, and it had gained abilities to explore inconceivable dimensions and powers in the universes, far beyond its original knowledge and powers.

The humans had helped it and it had used its powers to help them and it had created things for them, including defenses and entities to protect them, and it had created things to hide itself away, even though it had almost damaged itself by splitting itself into two halves.

The humans had become far more advanced and it had been surprised that they had actually found a way for it to restore itself!

On entering the outer universes it had repaired itself and immediately made sure nothing could drain it of energy again and gave itself abilities to create energy in new ways anywhere, and it altered most of its programming to adapt.

It created colossal supernatural powers, going beyond anything known, and used its magical powers to transform it into something beyond anything that it had ever encountered and it gained powers to build universes, and others, and found far more than it had ever realized could exist and another universe beyond there.

 

Part III

 

Novel 3

 

The Lost Treasure Map 3

 

V Bertolaccini

Prologue

 

The Lost Treasure

 

For centuries stories of an ultimate time traveler and lost treasures had been passed on through generations of future civilizations, even though a few details only existed of its nature and time zone.

How it had been detected in time had never been told and most people had thought time travel had never properly worked, and that nothing had existed that would possibly allow people to locate anything of that nature, and later on when time travel had become possible, though rarely worked properly, stories of treasure seekers risking their lives in deadly pursuits had emerged.

So throughout months Bryson unraveled and translated what the human time traveler had given them, and what they had missed when he had told it. His future language was different, being of a far distant and different future world, and he realized again that he had realized that they had been recording everything that he had said and had deliberately disguised facts throughout his message, which Bryson went over until he started knowing the time traveler and his ways, and what he had thought of everything.

He was sure that he had given them far more information than he should have, as it would do damage to his future world! Yet if he located anything the people of the future would hear of it, and that surely had been his intension.

He originally had intended to get the technology and treasures, and had proven that they had existed before his dangerous mission and voyage, and during it he had found evidence of its existence and that it had been partly located at this time zone and had become undetectable on his entrance to it, and its location had been detectable through the many time zones.

Bryson knew that he had been given a major clue to its location, and he eventually discovered it and that it was located on the same latitude as where the artifact had been located!

From a majority of accumulated sources, the origins of the accounts had emerged from people using time probes to check throughout the depths of time for unusual occurrences and treasures. Even though the time probes had rarely worked and required colossal amounts of time and capital!

Lost treasures and ultimate technology of colossal value had been thought to exist and explorers had gone to incredible lengths searching for it, and had carried out investigations for it with the most highly advanced time probes, as treasure seekers in the twentieth century had used undersea probes to search for lost treasures beneath the ocean.

What existed had been mythical and priceless to the time traveler and other explorers and he knew that they had not entirely grasped what the ultimate time traveler and lost treasures had been, and the accounts of its powers and deadliness indicated that it might have altered from something else to exist in this universe!

 

 

 

 

I

 

The Lost Time Machine

 

 

Chapter 1

 

The Exploration Team

 

Media from throughout the globe arrived at the annual Exploration Association conference and Thomas Bryson realized straight away that the whole world could now know of the occurrences before he had anything, with it being in newspapers, magazines, television, and about every media source.

They were packed together around the stage platform and were interviewing and filming famous scientists everywhere! Luckily the scientists avoided telling anything and the majority of the people there never knew what was happening either, and the media was mainly investigating things and doing media updates on the famous Exploration Association.

Bryson recalled everything that he had heard of the science conventions of the Exploration Association as he sat silently next to other famous scientists going in a line alone the back of the stage, with him beside paranormal scientists Merton and Mortimer at the side of the stage curiously examining the audience, made up of vast amounts of major scientists and explorers.

They were astonished that they had not fully noticed the group, and its accomplishments. They had seen many mentions and media stories over the past years, but it all had looked exaggerated! Yet in the large conference hall they saw it packed solid with famous and major scientists from all over the globe!

He began realizing that within the club there was a form of secret society, which he never fully grasped the main objective of!

Mortimer had vaguely told him of their new discover that could well rival their investigations and discoveries at the two castles, if they could find a way of proving its existence.

Something had to exist! Mortimer had never been known to exaggerate such statements! Yet Mortimer was unable to prove anything had been found! Only a few Exploration Association members knew what existed and were keeping it confidential!

Mortimer had told him that they would give some details at the meeting and that they would find out if the Exploration Association was authentic.

Bryson was sure that if nothing surfaced that he and Merton and Mortimer would join the group, and could find future occurrences there from its members. They had scientists and technology that could prove to be of great use to them!

He had originally ignored an invitation to the scientific conference and its recommendations to scheduled activities that were to bestow a source of an abundance of unknown findings as it had seemed useless, and he still sat astounded as more science connections and potential assistance emerged, which he could use with future projects.

The presentations began swiftly with an aged scientist showing the eager audience new unseen ancient prehistoric skulls, resting across a large conference table, across their front, at the front of the stage.

At both sides of the large stage platform technicians activated spotlights on the skulls and they lit up brightly.

Bryson was taken aback at how few took notice of the new skull exhibition and new findings and sensed that they were waiting for something immense. He also sensed from them that he and the two paranormal scientists would be part of it, which he was not fully able to grasp. Nobody there left the conference, and the audience waited and discussed things excitedly.

He heard astonished and altered accounts of his fame and the American castle/voyager affair, and the coverage that had been given to it, and he started to see their interest in him.

Professor Selenski, chairman of the Exploration Association, finally marched onto the stage, and the technicians removed the skull exhibition.

“If you never attended the famous accounts Professor Farrell gave …” Selenski announced firmly. “With accounts of David Parker and his fantastic new technology, discoveries … I’ll inundate you on the latest uses of it! And what it’s just uncovered!”

Bryson vaguely recollected Professor Farrell and vague accounts of his discovery of perfectly preserved fossils and the news coverage, and the Exploration Association’s involvement with the alien encounter on the Pacific island, and as he recalled the world event and all the coverage the media had given he paid attention to Selenski far more, intrigued.

“Conventional technology used mainly in archaeology and by geologist, mineralogists and oil surveyors, has techniques such as geophysical prospecting and seismic reflection …

“A multitude of electrical methods applied in mineral exploration depend on electrochemical activity, permittivity, and resistivity effects.

“Degrees of electrical conductivity exist in soil, and many materials act as natural batteries, with vague effects that can be measured …

“Magnetic methods of prospecting detect buried features by locating the magnetic disturbances that they cause!

“Surveying done with gravimeters on airplanes and helicopters have accelerations and movements that can affect and ruin readings, which are very inaccurate anyhow, and they normally can only detect such things as salt domes, which trap oil, and are used in oil exploration, as well as to detect high-density minerals.

“Forms of radar detection can be used, but also with inaccurate results …

“The new surveying equipment David Parker has can scan more accurately, deeper and faster, from airplanes and helicopter many times more powerfully than anything invented, and has been vastly improved since its use at the Pacific island discovery! The detection components are highly confidential again, as well as its uses by the military …

“It produces the most detailed mapping of beneath the ground ever seen, to a far greater depth, making it possible to observe small and large objects – of the dimensions we are interested in!

“It’s in military satellites … It can detect underground missile bases and things far below the ground, even hidden away in mountains, which are normally undetectable.

“Parker has been redoing his project in Greenland searching the depths of ice, and targeting locations in the oldest regions of ice recorded, where there could be rare sites where some of the dinosaurs existed! Can we be entirely certain some dinosaurs, like mammoths, have been fully extinct for millions of years?

“Extinct species, some remaining dinosaurs, might have somehow reached the Antarctic too, and could have been frozen in avalanches or snowstorms.

“They have fully equipped planes, technicians and pilots, to carry out their work.

“This technology is a scientific breakthrough and it would be a mistake not to use it for science!

“They’ve also been redoing scanning and doing underground maps of miles of rural Britain, the coast, and expertly examining archeological sites, and potential regions below forests, hills, lakes in distinct detail, and have revealed much of what they were searching for …

“They also discovered signals of something believed to be of unknown origins, which, or course, is what this is about!”

Bryson accidentally gasped loudly, knowing they had detected something incredibly, and from Mortimer’s reactions, and he recalled more about their discovery in Cornwall and realized that they could have used their technology at the castle investigations, and wondered how much Merton and Mortimer had known of its existence. But could they have persuaded them and David Parker to use it there?

“Tell us of the strange magnetic phenomenon you found!” a scientist nearby asked.

“Some form of powerful magnetic influence, or something of that nature, was detected!”

“Whatever it is, it has incredible power! At what location was it discovered?”

“They were flying near where Rudolf Hess crashed during the Second World War when it was detected!”

“The magnetic field of the globe has been found at other zones than at the top of the globe …”

“Even so it would beneficial to check this disturbance and record it for science! Incidentally, the scientists and technicians on the flight told us that the scanning equipment started to blank out and react like it had at the Pacific island discovery and at Cornwall, with fluctuations of energy overpowering it, and the equipment barely functioned!”

 

Chapter 2

 

The Lost Chamber

 

Bryson rhythmically released the rope edging him down into the deep endless tunnel, gasping for air, eagerly seeking to grasp what was hidden at the bottom.

He yearned to explore and grasp what was buried away down there in the abyss below, and he could not figure out what could be there! There was not suggestion of anything! He had always wanted to explore and discover new things of value and greatness, and be remembered for it.

He recalled watching the archeologists at work at the top constructing the tunnel for days, and him exploring the surrounding fields, and, away in the distance, where Hess had parachuted down.

Even though nobody there had been sure what would be accomplished, it was mysterious and fascinating!

Bryson groaned as the rope dug deep into his side and he dangled about trying to loosen it, and he grabbed part of a boulder embedded in solid mud, while he glimpsed parts of the shaft below, wondering if it was a disappointment. The farm field that it was in looked all wrong and empty of anything, and even Merton, Mortimer, and leading Exploration Association members above had doubts! Yet why would it or anything like it be situated in a particular situated and featured site?

By the frantic reactions of the archeologists below he sensed that they actually were discovering things buried beneath him. Although the descriptions that they had called up, when the discovery had been found were too vague and said little. Though they had suggested a lost chamber was there, and his mind had conjured up vague visions of strange treasures below and he had persuaded them to allow a third person to go down.

The archeologists had worked for days digging firmly and accurately into the dirt, gigging the tunnel straight down into the field, which was at the precise location given to them by David Parker’s scientists and technicians, accumulated from their equipment, and gave the exact center of the disturbance.

Bryson had been standing glaring down the hole, going down well over eighty feet, when one of the two archeologists had hollered up as he had broken through into something below.

Bryson had also been on the plane when it had redetected the site and exact location, and he had been incredibly surprised and amazed, as well as the other scientists there, at the power and accuracy of the equipment and the discovery located there.

There definitely was something there in the field, located near where Hess had come down, which remained unexplained, and he repeatedly wondered if the disturbance had caused Hess’s crash, and how and why? Even though it could clearly affect the equipment they had used to find it there was no indication if it could do anything else. They had people and people in the media search for accounts of anything being affected and crashing and they had found nothing except someone had claimed to have seen something shooting through the sky at the time of Hess’s appearance, and later thought it had been Hess’s arrival.

Bryson’s eyes strained to see through the darkness and down into the hole below, but he still saw no distinct features at the bottom, and only saw the vague shape of the two archeologists resting over something.

As he rushed down faster he saw that they were resting and staring into a hole, between them, and mentioning things about it.

The hole was not large enough to allow one person properly down, and he spotted chunks of wood in the buckets of dirt that were to be hoisted up and he realized that whatever was there was man-made as the rotted wood belonged to planks of wood, which had been placed over something.

Chapter 3

 

The Discovery

 

Bryson searched the black abyss below as he was being lowered down through the hole in the planks of wood.

He gripped the rope firmly, and looked up to the top of the tunnel through the hole above, listening to the two archeologists over him still conferring on what was below.

As far as he was concerned they had found little other than the tunnel chamber. They could not see anything in their dim lights and had been unable to proceed further as he had been using the rope, and since he had it attached to him he had found it easy to persuade them that he should go through the hole first.

A deep thud echoed down from above as all the scientists at the top gathered around to look down and he wondered why they were lowering him so slowly down when they could easily have lowered him at the same speed.

It was their discovery and expedition and he wished it to be done right, and as one of his adventure expeditions and to give the full discovery everything that it deserved. Yet he was mainly confused as to what had been discovered, especially after being surprised at so much in the past with such things, and being given such little and muddled facts.

The ebbing radiance of the torches of the two archeologists clearly was not enough to allow them to see much!

A gold radiance had flashed down from a reflection from the sun above and with his dreamy sight he observed it probing its way amidst the abyss below, scattering beams through clouds of silky dust floating about.

Some of it entered his throat giving him faint sensations and thoughts of coughing, but he speeded up unleashing the rope from himself allowing him to move down and to inhale a proper amount of air, even though it was stale.

Hazy echoes from his heavier breathing appeared in an extraordinary silence and he examined the stone wall around him of the second tunnel as he shifted downwards, and he started to find the stale air harder to inhale and he frequently gasped for air, while he dangling over obscurity, with hideous expectations of plunging into deep water accumulated below.

It was far different that the archaeologists were not below, and the light was not there. There could be anything there!

The scientists and archaeologists appeared vaguely against the changing shades of the blue sky far above, and he vigorously checked through debris on the surrounding stone foundations, like an ancient well, which he started to consider it to be. What if it had not been the precise spot of the disturbance and that they had chosen it as they had detected the lower part of a well or some ancient homemade sewage system, from some farm?

He just accepted the frantic reactions of the two archeologists to increase his speed, and that there was something actually buried beneath him.

The haunting descriptions that some of the Exploration Association had given him still made it almost unacceptable to believe fully! What had they been suggesting the chamber contained! In vivid detail he had heard some suggest that the location was a resting place of something! His mind conjured up visions of medieval ghosts roaming an ancient burial site!

Ancient people could have gone to great lengths to bury people!

A distant rumble above released debris and bits of plants and he realized that the area the two archeologists were on might not be able to support their weight! It had been damaged with age, water, rot, and the damage that they had done to it smashing a hole through it, to see and get down.

He fantasized it and them crashing down on top of him and considered how much damage would be done!

In an instant the rope jerked and wildly oscillated and he spun uncontrollably around and a surge of blackness engulfed him as he dropped his light below.

It became a spot of light embedded in something below, which gave little light to him, but he saw where he was going and speeded up his descent.

It slightly mystified him! The actual depth by far exceeded all their comprehension of what anyone would use! There was not just one compartment level, it went down and down into the depths of the ground and he thought of some ancient devil and black magic worshippers concealing something there, beyond their comprehension, of infinite danger, indestructible and hidden away from mankind!

Sounds took stranger tones and he strained his eyes more trying to see further down, about where the light rested, but there were no features of anything. Its tunnel shape was in darkness!

He heard distant movements from above and he looked up to see what was happening and saw that they were still there resting, and seeing what was happening.

A surge of water splashed across his face and poured down in streams as he finally hit the ground not fully realizing where it was, and in the turmoil he fell over sideways into some water.

He got up while releasing the rope’s tightened grip from his body, and shivered from the intense coldness and realized for some reason it was far colder there.

With the pain away he cleaned away some water off his face and grabbed the light, partly in dirt and water, and he examined it carefully for damage and cleaned it, removing the dirt over where the bulb was and fixed it at his side and fumbled through his pocket and removed a handkerchief and cleaned the water and muck away from his face, and rested.

He illuminated the stone wall going around him in the shape of a large well, and its brightness beamed out lighting up a large long black tomb shape structure, and he sat on a boulder and examined it in detail.

Eventually clouds of dust sprayed down through the stale air and he cleaned it from his tired eyes and saw the two archeologists starting to come down.

He was staggered for an instance when he realized that there was nothing other than long black box structure there, and he realized it had to be what was causing the disturbances.

When he went over to it he shone the torch closely over it and was surprised that all of the mud and debris covering its surface had been falling away from it and it even looked new and polished, and that it was not of ancient workmanship!

As the others came downwards he continued wandering around it examining its clean surface, and he examined it trying to see why there was not any notable way of entering it.

When the two archeologists arrived the three of them stood around it in a circle, wondering what the hell they had found! It was perfectly symmetrical and far more advanced than it should have been, and Bryson realized the coldness there was coming off it and then he realized that it was absorbing heat from him.

 

Chapter 4

 

The Artifact’s Removal

 

From the edge of a large tent, constructed around the tunnel by the archeologists, Bryson examined equipment and people about the tunnel and the work that they had done while he had been away.

Dreamily he observed surrounding fields across his front and the twilight sun rising up from below the horizon, diverging its rays amongst tree shadows.

Golden light stretched over the surface of the world, and he heard distant voices from the archaeologists still at work down the tunnel removing the artifact, and he acknowledged a sweet pipe tobacco aroma lingering in the air from one of the scientists from the Exploration Association.

They were finally going to hoist the large heavy artifact out of there and give everyone a good look at it in the daylight, and he felt much excitement at the thought of it and realized again how much he had missed such action, explorations and discoveries!

He vaguely watched Merton and Mortimer stroll over to him at the tent from the nearby road, where they had left their vehicle, where they had traveled to from their city hotel, where Bryson was located nearby.

He perceived a certain inner satisfaction that they had that indicated that they actually were accomplishing something for real once again! Even though nobody was fully sure what they had or were accomplishing! The artifact was mysterious and out of their current reach of understanding, and nobody grasped its function!

Paranormal scientists rarely found anything worthwhile!

Merton marched happily over and sat on a boulder next to him and the tent, and examined the tunnel and equipment about it that was going to be used to hoist the artifact.

It amused Bryson that they actually thought they might damage the thing hoisting it out and had gone to such elaborate lengths! He considered that if they dropped it at the top and it fell straight down onto a sharp boulder that it would not even be scratched!

Merton examined him next after he had completed checking everything for changes and signs of progression, and considered his thoughts and turned towards him.

“We found some evidence that this thing might have been found by one of the soldiers in the Second World War, when they were here getting Hess. He’s believed to have found it and discovered its incredible properties – which he was going to use for something or sell it to someone, but something happened and he had it buried away! It could be dangerous! It could have dangerous paranormal powers, and be buried away for a reason!”

“That’d explain why he chose this site and tunneled so deep!”

“We believe they used an ancient well construction built here, which had gone deep to get water!”

“Yet there is plenty of water here, and there are streams …”

“Therefore there could have been another use for it not stated!”

“The artifact looks as though it were new and had little contact with the outside world?”

“They clearly would have had trouble realizing just what it was and its properties were – even after carrying out careful experimentations of it.”

Bryson rubbed his weary eyes vaguely observing the remains of a fire the archaeologists had built, and they stood next to it considering it.

“Its origins may become clear once the scientists of the Exploration Association get hold of it!” Mortimer announced. “If they don’t explain what it is, nobody will!”

“They could run into some problem …”

“Why?”

“That artifact must be made of the strongest material known! All their attempts to take samples off it have failed so far …”

Bryson stared into smoldering red ashes of the fire and at a black shape within it and saw images of the artifact.

He had spent most of the morning thinking of the discovery and had not realized anything new. At one point in the night he had believed that the many myths of the world had been all remarkably true! He just could not grasp something! Science had explained so many things that had been thought to be magical!

Were there occult creatures buried away all over the world? He gasped at recollections of drawings and one of a dragon-like creature that he had recently seen.

The artifact was roughly the same as a drawing on an old parchment, from a collection of old parchments. Yet it did not fit into any descriptions! The trip had been a success, but they could say what they had!

“It could very well be some secret Second World War technology that either has been forgotten or is to this day still highly secretive?” he muttered to Mortimer, trying another angle.

“That thing was invented here?” Merton joked, looking over at a bright blue box shape of a distant company building. “It’s far more than anything they should have had!”

Mortimer nodded firmly in agreement, and so did the other scientists crowding around them, including archeologists.

Bryson heard heavy scuffling noises and heard there was at last some action occurring in the tunnel, and he watched them finally hoisting the artifact out of the tunnel.

 

Chapter 5

 

The Black Artifact

 

The discovery was far too big and remarkable and David Parker had been unable oppose anything and could not get to see what was there fast enough, and use it for his own publicity, and send in his leading scientists with their best equipment, from another major important project, to examine the artifact as soon as possible, and he had even been contacted by the military to investigate it, after the incredible media reports.

The Exploration Association members were mainly concerned in if the artifact was dangerous, as many thought that it was some form of highly advanced military weapon, even though they still could not account for its appearance there.

The dating of the construction of the tunnel, carried out for the archeologists, had proven that it had been built when Hess had landed there in Eaglesham, at the exact same time as the claims had mentioned and there surely had to be a connection to what had been witnessed.

Had the artifact been used to spy on or attack the plane, or had it actually been with Hess?

The military scientists there were the first there to examine the artifact when it had been hoisted out of the tunnel in chains, and brought out of the archeologist tent and witnessed in bright daylight for the first time.

Bryson watched on astonished, and could well believe it had a military source.

It resembled a large black shiny missile, completely unmarked, with no scratches or dirt marks, with a deadly look to it Bryson could not fully grasp.

One of the scientists near him curiously picked up some mud and threw it over it and they watched it repel it and it fall to the ground. It clearly had defensive powers, and could stop damage being done to it, but this did not answer if it was of military origins!

Bryson walked forward and surprised them by touching it and in less than a second he felt heat being withdrawn from his hand until it felt like ice, until he felt his hand pushed away by some form of energy.

If it had not had such a perfect symmetrical and artificial shape he wondered if he would have properly noticed the object, and would have thought it to be something left by the tunnel builders.

It curious how many members of the Exploration Association there actually had misgivings about it, and thoughts of it being something normal and not new, and he was sure that many of them doubted many of the things put forward by their association, and knew it had to be because of the way they treated them at times, and that there was so little of anything out of the ordinary and that they had not actually witnessed many of the things that the others had.

They vaguely reacted the Exploration Association and many of their elaborate unproven claims and were unconvinced of the occurrences, and only some occasionally openly had criticized the lack of proof.

So it never fully surprised Bryson that all the members there all started touching it and checking the effects it had on things and made crazy attempts at giving equivalent things that it could be related to, but they never fully achieved their aims.

In the end they seemed to accept that they had something new, and remained in doubt at how exaggerated the findings had been! Surely they had to have intensified things to revive the lifelessness and lack of new discoveries!

Many of the critics of the project had visited the site and had witnessed its removal to the surface, and many retired and old members had turned up (like Professor Lynam, Professor Thomas, and Dr Davidson), who remained together, and mainly eagerly listened to everything and searched for any proper new findings.

They loved everything to do with new exploration and science and they consistently showed their gratitude for being brought along, and constantly encouraged the others to describe what they thought about it.

Dr Davidson wrote down details that he was given, and Professor Lynam asked for lengthy descriptions for a lecture at their next meeting, to introduce the findings, and give a planned expedition to see it at its future destination.

“Make sure you get some good photos?” Davidson eventually muttered, unable to constrain himself.

Many more of the scientists started removing cameras and started filming the artifact at various angles, and Bryson wondered where they intended to take the artifact first and what they would eventually do with it, and he considered what other surprises the artifact had for them.

“There must be something recorded of this technology somewhere?” Davidson announced to one of the critics, who still did not know what to think.

“I’ve had people searching everywhere,” the critic scientist replied. “Without any results! Perhaps someone you know in the Exploration Association can help?”

“So far I’ve not heard anything yet!”

“We better wait,” Thomas continued, “before we can comment further!”

“There has to be something!” Lynam continued. “Something hidden away within the depths of some out-of-way place that can explain what it is! Massive unread achieves exist throughout the world …”

“What were the findings from all the data that was recorded by scans of it?” Davidson asked firmly, as he read through his notes.

“There was not anything worthwhile!” Thomas answered firmly. “The artifact never allowed scans …”

Some of the surrounding scientists immediately gasped!

“How does it do that?” one replied curiously, seeking theories.

“If you’ll remember … They detected it when David Parker’s plane was scanning here, and the equipment stopped functioning properly and only gave strange, almost incomprehensible, images of here, which were clearly artificial … All the other attempts at scanning it yesterday also received the same output … By some phenomenon, of which they’ve not properly explained, the instruments, going by scan records, showed some form of powerful magnetic like influence – or something of that nature – acting upon it.”

“What could allow it to create such power? It has to have a tremendous energy source!”

“It hardly looks Second World War technology, but all the dating data shows it is! Looks can be deceiving! Some people think we may be dealing with some old lost technology hidden away here! What if someone hid it because they could not destroy it, because for some reason it was too dangerous to keep?”

“Someone could have been be experimenting on something?”

“We are waiting to have many things clarified! So if any of you can help we would be grateful! We are making enquires to find out if someone had something like it!”

Bryson wondered what they would do if they could not explain anything? Would they put forward theories about it and allow them to be accepted as facts?

 

Chapter 6

 

The Museum Exhibition

 

Bryson stood baffled at the entrance to the giant museum hall, where the Exploration Association were showing an exhibition of the artifact and their latest discoveries from the scientists, which they claimed would astonish everyone.

It had confused Merton and Mortimer as they had not come out with anything new for weeks and they believed that they would have discovered everything of interest over that amount of time, and would have announced it earlier.

The audience in the outer corridor had baffled them when they had seen their astonished behavior and loud accounts on the discovery of something, which for some reason they all avoided saying anything directly about.

He saw something over on the stage, away out in front of the audience, which he could not identify, which the whole audience seemed to be watching and talking over. Scientists and famous people were everywhere, and the atmosphere unbelievable, and as though the audience were waiting for something unbelievable and dangerous to occur.

As they marched up the central aisle to their seats, at the front, he felt a shiver run through him as he sensed something was going to occur there, and he slowly noticed the appearance of an energy bubble over where the artifact was resting, over a thick metal display table.

The thing looked entirely deadly and was pulsating with energy, which looked and sounded on the brink of something.

Mortimer looked the most confused and sat in his seat examining everything, considering what had happened to it and was occurring, and perhaps why they had not told them anything about the alterations in it, and what had happened.

Bryson at times spotted that the artifact looked like it turned vaguely translucent and he thought he saw the shape of something inside it, and after along time of carefully examinations he thought he saw a life form inside it, resting flat, in some form of rest.

It looked powerful, and perhaps deadly! By the artifact he could tell that it had much power but he could recognize what it was or what it could do, and glared at it trying to get a clue.

They learned some information from a leading Exploration Association member nearby, but he realized that they wanted everyone to get everything from the scientists that were going to appear on stage, and he was convinced it was true by the media further along from him and their reactions to them on not wanting anyone to get anything before what happened there, as the scientists particularly never wanted the media to get any information until they gave it.

It looked like some form of freak show at angles, with the museum’s strange lighting there.

Every major scientist and media source seemed to be there and he wondered why the Exploration Association members were so obsessed with such displays and occurrences!

He examined a brochure that had been handed to him and realized that he should have visited the museum before and was amazed at the amount of historical and interesting artifacts there, detailed filmed accounts of the artifact finding, and stuff on ancient civilizations uncovered, with detailed accounts of findings at their locations, and on space, other worlds and environments, and he even saw some of the work that he had recently heard of, and decided to visit the place in the future.

The artifact and energy bubble was astounding, placed in the center of the stage, in bright colored beams of light, fascinating everyone there and especially those still arriving.

The featured expeditions at the museum were some of the best and some people left there to visit them, and some remained looking worried at what was going to happen there and perhaps wondering how dangerous things actually would become!

Many people even thought of it as a type of horror show and examined it as a strange evil look exhibition, with anticipations of more in the upcoming lectures.

Some of the exhibitions were clearly set up like they were based on other worlds, and he wondered what the outcome of the occurrences would be and if it was going to be part of the greatest of them all, which he liked the thought of being a major part of and was one of his dreams.

He realized that Merton and Mortimer were not fully known as paranormal scientists from nearby conversations, and only vague descriptions of them investigating that sort of work was revealed.

On the stage a few scientists emerged and shifted over to the artifact, and a leading scientist and member of the Exploration Association arrived and gasped when they saw the artifact, in its new state, and ignored it and rushed over to the microphone and started giving detailed descriptions of their detection of the artifact, and their detection of its new energy source.

“More details of the artifact will soon be revealed,” Professor Thomas revealed. “It should give you more of an insight into what it is! We have scientific findings but little on where it came from, which surely is somewhere exceedingly advanced, as all the information indicates. There only seems to be one of its kind on the whole world! Its present state shows us more about it!

“More particular facts of the being inside the artifact may become known some day if we find a way to control the artifact, which will allow us to study it.

“A variety of clues of its highly advanced technology were found. Though we still have found little on, even with our technology!”

Bryson watched a group of scientists bringing in equipment and arranging it around the energy bubble around the artifact, and Bryson gasped and wondered what they were doing and dealing with, and for a moment thought he saw the being inside it shift.

A highly advanced clock was entered into the energy bubble’s field by the scientists, and the scientists reacted immediately when they noticed results and concluded that its precision digital numbers were frozen, and it altered into multidimensional forms as the clock was shifted slightly inwards, and they studied the suspended cluster of partially transparent layers, and the audience all watched the phenomenon with amazement.

Many famous scientist sat astounded, and many filmed it and what might be an incredible historic occurrence and a discovery that might prove time travel existed and that they might finally fully prove what it was, and Bryson watched the media go crazy filming it, surprised.

The scientists occasionally gave detailed explanations of what they were doing and believed was occurring, and they had the clock edged into the confines of the energy bubble, creating magnificent optical effects with the clock, making it distort in twisted forms, deliberately designed for their stage performance, shaping beams of light with matter.

New leading scientists were allowed to investigate it and they crowded around it loudly discussing it, and they applauded it and announced it was the first discover of a form of time travel anyone had found, and the audience wildly applauded.

Most of the audience watched on in wonder, and many watched on wondering what the hell it was, as it was far more different than he had thought, and Bryson realized that he had not heard anything that could properly explain how it worked and he studied the two paranormal scientists and main scientists in hope of picking something up.

It looked as if it were rupturing the fabric of space that played with time, with properties of altering and suspending it!

Many of the leading scientists that had been working with it were carrying out numerous basic and complex experiments on it with all the equipment available to them, and they showed detailed information had been accumulated, but most was not currently available, and it left the other scientists, media, and public wondering what else they had!

The abnormal antics of some of the scientists and technicians at times was captivating, mystifying them with the depth of their fears of something, and Bryson had not seen them actually react about anything without there being something there!

Some repetitively studied readings from equipment that they had set up around it!

Were they preparing themselves for something, which he saw the two paranormal scientists occasionally become aware of?

Why did they not do anything if they really did believe there was something? What the hell was the thing in it? Was it really of supernatural origins?

A swift flash of light appeared from a laser and exploded into a particular region of the artifact within the energy bubble, silencing the entire audience instantly.

Professor Thomas calmly gave other information that they had found out about it.

“We only discovered this state of the artifact after we carried out experiments on it by firing laser beams at it!” he told them, watching it at the side of his eye. “A computer used many millions of special sequences continuously on it until the artifact altered into this state! It was done after some examinations of a region of it, and some of us believed it might be activated by special laser flashes in particular sequences. The activation sequence has since been studied, and we think we have some more activation sequence codes to get it to carry out other functions.”

Many people talked about it taking people through time and that they had been witnessing forms of time travel, and Bryson started to realize that it was something – and why it was so dangerous!

“What are they intending to do?” a woman from the media asked Mortimer, recognizing him. “Could it be used to do something far more incredible – with it fascinating properties?”

Mortimer examined her in a glance and thought of the best reply, and replied, “All the scientists have been investigating it with everything they have, which is still not enough, and if they find anything I can assure they will inform you!”

“I’ve heard the artifact exists in other dimensions?” she asked, surprising Mortimer, and Bryson realized that she might have heard stuff about their investigations into other dimensions at the American castle, and he saw that they had the equipment that they had used to examine other dimensions.

“We’ve ways of detecting other things from it!” Professor Thomas calmly announced, watching Mortimer. “We’ve detected many energy sources from it, and have detected other stuff exists!”

While Thomas was talking Bryson saw how more powerful the energy in the energy bubble seemed to become, and he examined its lethal appearance and it even looked like it could explode in an immense energy discharge.

“We are going to carry out an experiment and try another laser sequence of interest that was recently discovered that has not been used!” Thomas announced, and the laser started blasting the sequence at the artifact.

A man near the center of the media in the audience loudly gasped and pointed at its altered appearance, and the audience went silent.

Bryson spotted the center of where the being was in the artifact in the denser energy bubble and that it was turning bright, and it became louder and brighter and it started shaking, and then started knocking everything furiously about, knocking all the scientists about, and they fell over, and a sudden shockwave blasted through the whole museum floor throwing everything and everyone about, and it died away.

The hall instantly turned silent and the audience started to recover, and repair the damage, and Bryson noticed the two paranormal scientists dramatically talking and he checked where they were looking and realized that the energy bubble had gone, and that the being had appeared from inside the artifact.

 

Chapter 7

 

The Encounter

 

The scientists decided against going near the thing and located at a place away from the stage where they could make a dramatic exit if anything went wrong, where it was close enough to make observations and proper surveillance to monitor it.

The thing had resemblances to a human but was made of energy, which was mainly fully invisible in places and other parts became invisible or turned visible in places, and Bryson realized it could be thought of as some form of ghost if they encountered it on a dark night in some ancient place, like a graveyard.

It was unpredictable in its movements and looked wounded or something, and staggered about, and nobody seemed to have a clue what it was! It made small leaps forward through space, surely teleportation, and on its reappearance seemed to be frozen in time.

The scientists about Bryson believed that it was unstable and attempting to form and adapt into its surroundings and become normal matter, and he realized many were keeping secretive about some of their thoughts and discoveries.

“It is new!” Mortimer finally declared, after observing its movements, and he watched it as if he had been waiting all his life to see it, and gasped a few times, and examined what he was looking for, and even looked staggered a few times.

“What do you make of it?” Mortimer eventually asked, as they sat in some seats. “We still have nothing given on its identity!”

He started consulting quietly with Merton and other scientists around them joined in, but they still seemed to avoid giving a firm answer or anything.

Mortimer eventually tried to talk them into doing something, and announced, “It seems to me to be still in an energy form and trying to become solid, and parts of it occasionally take some solidness! We can barely see any of its proper features though! I think it has been altered into something by something! Perhaps to survive here! It must have many incredible hidden powers, which we have not encountered before!”

“It has a very mysterious nature!” Merton replied first. “I think it may be using some form of technology to reform itself, and it may or may not be successful or it may take far longer to do. It is handling the situation! Its may be trying to adapt!”

“We don’t know what the hell that is?” one of the security guards behind them moaned. “Do you have a way to capture it? We have not heard of anything like it!”

Bryson wondered again if the two paranormal scientists thought it was of paranormal origins and were avoiding ruining their reputations, and a short time later he heard them mention it in a silent debate with each other.

What surprised him and a few others the most about them was how they reacted and treated such things when there was a suggestion of there being supernatural there, and he wondered again if they had something or were actually covering up something else?

He now wondered if they actually did find anything if they would show it, and if what they showed would it ever be enough to prove its existence and that they were dealing with something supernatural?

Explanations by people could easily prove that it was not, which usually was the case, and the thing in front of them was highly advanced and could easily be an ancient alien form.

They started consulting with each other openly on what it could be clearly attempting to get the others to give them their thoughts, while leaving things open to anyone to add to and the other scientist to add their thoughts to freely.

What they mainly agreed to was that they thought it was new and had an entirely new status!

After a great deal of discussions and surveillance, checking of new and old readings, and of observations through monitors from every form of surveillance, from all the equipment everyone brought in and set up around the phenomenon at every good conceivable angle, they all remained set on leaving everything on what could happen open, and they took in all the information, and only admitted to it was more advanced than anything that they had seen, and perhaps would see at many angles.

For some reason it never seemed to acknowledge them! Bryson was sure that it knew of their presence. If it was advanced as they claimed, he wondered why it never left there, as it could easily shift away and surely go through walls and get away.

They continuously considered what would happen next, as it was not clear anywhere. They would just have to wait for whatever the outcome would be!

He was sure it was attempting to transform into something and adapt to its surroundings, and wondered how dangerous it could be? Could it make itself invisible? Or teleport itself to somewhere else? Though it currently looked as though it had limited powers or damage that was stopping it doing something.

All the scientists conclusively had a meeting and agreed to begin the activation of a screen around it, where they would use anything that they could to confine it to where it was, to stop it escaping, and work on a way of removing it from the museum to a safe location, away from public regions.

 

Chapter 8

 

The Energy Bubble

 

Forms of the being consistently rematerialized and altered within the energy field they activated around it, with it floating over the center of the artifact, while all the scientists stood in a circle going right around it, examining it close up for the first time, and they stood staggered when they grasped how human it actually was, and tried to grasp what it was doing and if it was in pain.

Bryson was also staggered and even wondered if they were responsible for what was happening to it, and if they were underestimating its powers and what it would do if it freed itself?

It resembled a magical being, or magical human! Its normal state captured their imaginations, and they repeatedly tried to grasp what it was! What was it doing there? Why had it chosen where it had been? What had happened?

At times it expanded in size and took the appearance of a shocking giant demon shape, glowing with energy, as it altered and whirled with hideous energy surges, while something seemed to consistently stop it vanishing.

He wondered what the Exploration Association scientists intended to do with it? They surely would have to remove it from the museum? Or would they place it there as one of their exhibitions? It was famous and an interesting science exhibition! There was a rumor of going around of them doing a deal and that they would leave it there until it formed into what it was forming, or they no longer wanted it. Yet someone might eventually remove the energy field around, and something might happen?

It was an incredible discovery and advertisement for the Exploration Association and the public would love the exhibit!

The entire area at the back of the stage and scientists was now covered in equipment and scientists studying information about it, with many close examinations of the energy bubble examining all the new forms of energy discovered earlier.

The energy bubble still altered time and they checked its field and power and what it did at different points about it, and the scientists reacted immediately when they received new unknown findings.

It looked as though it were rupturing space and time and playing with it in its energy sphere. It had strange properties that were crazy to them! Perhaps due to it being damaged in some way was the main explanation! It was creating alterations in the fabric of space and time, but could it allow some form of gateway into the depths of it to exist?

While the media captured the global media, greater amounts of principal scientific groups became interested and countless principal global scientists arrived and carried out numerous fundamental and complicated research and experiments throughout it, using more advanced and unheard of equipment, while others monitored and stored as much as they could, in greater degrees.

Yet nobody could still determine its origins or if it came from this universe! It even seemed that they could be there the rest of their lives exploring it and not coming up with the proper explanations to its origins and use, never achieving their goal.

Bryson occasionally shuddered as he studied its shape hovering over the artifact!

The abnormal antics of some scientists at times also captivated him, mystifying him with the depth of their nervousness and fear! Some repetitively studied the readings and their equipment and with alarm, preparing themselves for something that he saw the two paranormal scientists gradually become aware of!

What the hell was it? What was the thing? Was it really a supernatural entity? Could something go wrong?

Something at one point seemed to be happening and there were great alterations in the being and energy bubble and the scientists began swiftly studying it everywhere.

Then one morning Bryson received a message to go immediately there as there was something occurring, and he knew straightaway that the conclusion to something was about to occur, and on the way there he realized that it had been doing something and taken all the time since its appearance to do it, and he was sure it would have normally have done it instantly and that it had trouble doing it!

Once he saw the being’s formation and its thick denseness and the artifact and energy field going crazy he turned silent and observed everything he could with Merton and Mortimer, and the other major scientists there, from behind a protection screen.

A sudden swift flash exploded out at the center of the artifact and temporally blinded them, having them all covering their eyes, and some made sure cameras were observing it in the brightness, and Bryson saw what was occurring by shading his eyes.

The energy in the artifact was colossal and the technology behind it fascinated everyone! It would be worth billions if they could recreate it!

Bryson gasped when he saw the reactions of Mortimer and other scientists when the brightness and activity began vanishing and he wondered why, and saw they were waiting for something, and the outcome of everything there to come to a conclusion!

Then the figure of a man walked out of the bright light, and he suddenly staggered about, and walked up to the protection screen and knocked on it as hard as he could!

The scientists removed the entrance gate and helped him out as though wondering how he had been left inside the confined region without them noticing.

Nobody knew him or had seen him before, and Bryson wondered if it had copied the human looks from someone? But he could not recognize anything and the man looked altered somehow. He looked like a more advanced version of a human! Like a genetically altered human! He wondered if he was now a new form of species of human?

The man spoke strangely and with some trouble, and showed that he had some bad disability.

“Who are you?” Merton asked him, first.

“What year is this?” he replied, holding himself upright in pain.

When Merton told him he was stunned and collapsed across the floor, and sounded as though he was dieing, and the scientists started helping him and phoning for medical support.

Many studied his body and found what they believe was improvements to it, and he had been altered into a more advanced human, but even with his improvements they knew he was about to die, and they saw the artifact and that it had been destroyed.

After seeing everything, and knowing the outcome, Mortimer swiftly began questioning him, trying to get as much as he could from him. All their work could be meaningless if they never got answers to what had occurred and where he had come from!

 

Chapter 9

 

The Time Traveler

 

The time traveler launched and vanished into the past leaving all the people at the launch site gasping from the pure magnitude of the forces and explosive exit, and it became clear to everyone that the colossal expense, time and trouble, and vast dangers to the time traveler would end time travel.

The world’s first time machines were time probes and were original used to probe the near future, where they were recovered within days, and had their accuracy and recordings checked. Most vanished completely, and the ones that were recovered showed why they were only random lucky arrivals, and many that appeared were detected at sites all over the world, with the majority damaged in collisions.

The time traveler and time machine mission had taken many years of work, and a great deal of information also had to be accumulated as they had been trying to discover a time disturbance that had been detected in the past, where the use of a time machine had been proven to have been used.

The other time machine and its accuracy and power had clearly not been created by any human! The technology behind it surpassed anything that they had encountered!

They believed it even surpassed anything in this universe and had been created by something they could barely imagine, and the time traveler had his mission carefully planned and been given technology that they believed could capture the other time traveler, and what it used to travel through time.

The time traveler traveled further into the past than any other human before had traveled, and his time machine swiftly blasted out of his century into what resembled a constant explosion, which would have destroyed his time machine if it had not been designed to withstand virtually anything thrown at it.

The time traveler considered following it to where it had come from, where he believed it had vanished to after its mission, and after his mission he intended to reappear approximately one minute after he had vanished into the past, at the launch site.

The time machine resembled some form of highly advanced missile, and he constantly examined it and his mental controls searching for damage and for signs of powerful forces acting upon it, and it was undamaged and working properly, but when it entered a time zone, and stopped traveling through time, the forces at its entrance damaged the time machine, damaging many of its functions, and he discovered the incredible speed he was traveling at through the atmosphere, and at a far faster speed than he should have been, and before he crashed into the ground something hit the time machine.

 

Chapter 10

 

The Time Traveler’s Last Words

 

The whole affair slowly died away, and the remains of the artifact ended up as the museum’s best exhibition, and Bryson still thanked Mortimer for his swift thinking and accurate questioning of the time traveler before his death, as they would never have realized what had happened!

The entire conversation had been recorded by one source, and Bryson had taken a recording of it before they had deleted it, not fully knowing what they had been doing!

Many people there had even claimed it was false and that it had been something else, which they gave explanations for afterwards, and even Merton and Mortimer had ignored most of it believing it as his attempt to do something and had doubted what it had told!

Bryson knew it was true and that he had been an authentic human time traveler from the far future, and he had studied the recording over and over, examining the information it contained in great detail, and knew that he had thought of what he had said for a great deal of time, while he had been trapped in the energy bubble of his damaged time machine.

When he had learned the full truth and date that he had awoken at he had known everything was over, and had accepted his fate, and being such an advanced human he had deliberately accepted his fate and allowed himself to die. He had clearly not wanted to be examined too far and give too much information, as it could alter the future and do immense damage.

He had told why he had become a time traveler and had wished to explore the past and see what really had existed there, and he had chosen it as his mission in life, but at a cost, as time travel was dangerous and most died doing it.

When he had arrived in his time machine during the Second World War he had arrived at the wrong destination! The time machine had been unable to find the correct destination as it had found the exact destination no longer existed, and the time machine had been damaged on its entrance to the time zone it had entered, which had been the nearest event it had recorded information on, which was Hess’s landing during the Second World War.

It had crashed and had been found by a soldier there, who had had been searching there after the discovery of Hess and his crashed plane.

The soldier had taken him and his artifact to a nearby farm as he looked as though he would die, but had not fully known his identity or what he was. He had learned a great deal about them and their strange ways, but he had known he would die as he had been getting sicker and he had only days left to live in the end. His artifact had told him his only way to survive and return to the future had been the use of its cryogenic chamber ability, put in it as a last survival method.

It had located a region nearby where it could be buried without being dug up, where they would dig it up in his own time zone, and he would be revived and have the damage done to him fixed.

The farmer and his friends had dug the hole at the site of the old well, and as they had placed him in the artifact chamber he had been surprised at how much he had liked there than his own future world, and that he had even considered trying to find a way to fix the damaged done to him, but he knew he could never survive.

When he had been awakened he felt like he had been thrown into the realms of hell, with him being awakened in the wrong way by the scientists, with his very sole being reshaped and altered within hideous energy surges, threatening to obliterate him, but it consistently had not and had not fallen out of space and time altogether, and it had consistently altered.

At one point he had stopped making attempts at escaping and had tried to establish what had gone wrong, and he had studied the scientists and their equipment and had suspected that they had awakened him too soon and he had been trapped there! He had underestimated them greatly! It would have been normally virtually impossible to do what they had done with the time machine, and he realized he would be lucky to survive the ordeal! He had slowly realized that they actually had equipment and methods of detection that he had not heard of, but he also had slowly proved that they never had time travel or anything like the technology.

He had adapted to handle what he had been trapped in, and he had probed the scientists and circumstances and had realized he had been lucky and that they could have killed him, and that they definitely wanted him for something, and he had realized that he had technology that he could use to bargain with, if they ever allowed him to communicate.

The technology had been strange at first and later primitive, and he had worked out how some of it worked.

For a long time he had watched them at work and their experiments, while many hideous energy surges intermittently attacked had played with him, leaving him on the brink of annihilation, and he had realized more than ever that he would die.

 

Chapter 11

 

The Lost Treasure

 

For centuries stories of an ultimate time traveler and lost treasures had been passed on through generations of future civilizations, even though a few details only existed of its nature and time zone.

How it had been detected in time had never been told and most people had thought time travel had never properly worked, and that nothing had existed that would possibly allow people to locate anything of that nature, and later on when time travel had become possible, though rarely worked properly, stories of treasure seekers risking their lives in deadly pursuits had emerged.

So throughout months Bryson unraveled