Legacy

Authors: J. LoPresti

Hosted by VendrediAntiques.com


1: The Curse

Based on the characters from Friday the 13th the Series created by
Frank Mancuso, Jr. and Larry B. Williams. No copyright infringement
intended.

This is a story about Ryan's dark journey into Lewis' past.
Other F13 stories that I have written: 'Endings & Beginnings' &
'Hellspawn'. Enjoy...

Prologue:
"Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil, to sell cursed
antiques. But he broke pact, and it cost him his soul. His niece
Micki and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store, and with it, the
curse. Now they must get everything back, and the real terror
begins."

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MANUSCRIPT OF RYAN DALLION

I. The Curse

I have set down to record the strange and terrible events of the
past year, a quest for knowledge that lead me down a dark path that
will forever leave its mark upon my soul. It all began ten years ago
when I along with my cousin Micki inherited the antique store of our
eccentric uncle Lewis Vendredi. At the time I was in college, unsure
of what I wanted to do in life. When a letter arrived to inform me
of my inheritance, I did not hesitate to pack my bags and leave
school.

I meet Micki not long after I arrived at the store. The store
was old and musty. It had not been opened in well over a year since
our uncle's death. Despite the dilapidated state of the store I saw
the possibilities of fixing it up and running a business. Micki was
opposed to the idea. Dealing with our uncle's estate had been an
interruption to her life. She just wanted to get rid of it as soon
as possible. In the end, Micki convinced me to sell. It wasn't
until after we had sold most of antiques that we learned about the
curse.

A former friend of our uncle Lewis, Jack Marshak came to the
store one night. Together we learned the terrible truths that would
forever change our lives. Many of the antiques in the store were
cursed. Each object granted its owner their greatest desires but at
a terrible price, a human sacrifice. Many innocent people: men,
women and children, lost their lives because of Lewis Vendredi. We
spent the next five years recovering the objects that had been sold
by either our uncle or unknowingly by us. When there were just a few
dozen items remaining, Micki and I left the store. Jack and his
friend Rashid stayed behind to guard the vault and continue the
search for the remaining antiques.

For Micki and I, our lives took very different directions after
leaving the store. Micki is doing well and she has put the traumatic
events of our hellish experience behind her. She moved back home to
start a business with an old friend. About a year later she married.
They have a daughter, Alexandria, my god-daughter.

I have continued in the study of the occult and ancient secrets.
Over the years that spent with Jack, I learned many things. At first
I read the books from his weird library and he taught me. Later I
began my own quest for more knowledge. After I left the store, I
began my travels. I climbed the peaks of Ngrai to speak to the
priests of Tylee. I went on the expedition to Arabian Desert where
the sands were uncovered to reveal the ancient city of Zin and its
terrible secrets which had laid hidden for thousands of years. There
were many other adventures as well that I will not record here.
Always I sought to find the key to end the curse but it eluded me.

I decided to search Lewis' past. Lewis was always interested in
harnessing dark powers for his own gain. It wasn't until after his
wife Grace died that Lewis' dark mania began. Up until this time
Jack corresponded with his friend. When Lewis' dark obsession began,
Jack wanted nothing more to do with him. Lewis was involved with
things that Jack wanted no part of. Despite Jack's strict warnings I
decided to trace Lewis' hellish journey to find the answers that I
was seeking.

2: The Strange Tale of Lewis Vendredi

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II. The Strange Tale of Lewis Vendredi

Lewis Vendredi was born in 1926. Raised in Iowa during the Great
Depression, the young boy grew to hate the meager existence and
hardship forced upon his family during these times. This experience
left him with a great fear of poverty that fueled his ambition. He
left home at the age of fourteen to seek out a better life for
himself but he only found misfortune. A few years later he joined
the war effort in Europe. He fought in the battle for Germany where
he meet and befriended Jack Marshak, a young lieutenant at the time.
The two men fought in combat together. When Jack was promoted and
given command of his own squadron, they lost contact with each other
until a chance meeting in Chicago after the war.

Post-war America was experiencing a boon in business. Lewis,
still obsessed with money and power, was seeking his fortune. He was
a fairly successful businessman but it was never enough. On a summer
day in 1950, Lewis walked into the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton
Hotel in Chicago. From across the room he saw an incredibly
beautiful woman sitting at the bar. Her companion turned to speak to
her and it was none other than his old friend Jack Marshak. Lewis,
Jack and Grace became inseparable. They enjoyed the social events
and night life of the big city. It was a time of celebration in the
country to put behind the memories of war. It was inevitable that
the two friends would fall in love with the same woman. Eventually,
the deeply competitive Lewis won Grace's heart and Jack distanced
himself from his former friends.

It wasn't until after the marriage of Lewis and Grace that Jack
began to see his friends again. Upon renewing the friendship, Jack
and Lewis found that they had a common interest in the occult. At
the time it was only a curiosity, nothing that either man took too
seriously. In 1955 Jack left Chicago for graduate work in New York.
He kept in touch with Lewis through letters. Over time Jack's
academic interests changed to an intense study of the occult. Lewis'
interest grew as well. He surpassed Jack's knowledge and skill.
Lewis started to experiment with spells from ancient books to
increase his wealth and power.

Lewis began to spend more and more time in search of forbidden
knowledge. This dark obsession did not go unnoticed by his wife
Grace who pleaded with him to give up this unholy work. Strange
rites and foul incense frightened her. Many loud arguments were
heard by the neighbors from the couple's home. Lewis did not
concede. Instead, he moved his laboratory and books to an old farm
house that he bought outside the city. This change did not satisfy
Grace who continued to implore her husband to stop his research.
Lewis spent more and more time away from his home in the city. He
preferred the isolated farm that was far from any prying eyes and
ears.

Grace was a women who loved people and the privileges of wealth.
Lewis' financial success had gained them access to the wealthiest of
social circles. Her beauty and charm made her the envy of many
ladies in the city. Lewis' transformation had a profound effect on
her. She began to withdraw from even her closest friends. Her
makeup, hair and dress that were stylish and perfect, began to be
neglected. The face that was always smiling and full of laughter
changed to melancholy and sadness.

Jack was alarmed when a business trip took him back to the city
and he stopped by to visit his old friends. The drastic changes to
Grace infuriated him. Despite Grace's pleas, he set out to the farm
house. Jack was enraged and confronted Lewis. Lewis was indignant.
In his opinion, his marriage was his own business and he felt that
Jack had never really forgiven him for marrying Grace. To Jack,
Lewis seemed oblivious to the changes in Grace. He denied even the
obvious facts of the situation. Jack was also disturbed by the
contents in Lewis' library. The occult and dark powers were an
academic interest to Jack. The unholy texts, mixtures and potions in
this laboratory hinted at more than just an academic interest in the
black arts. Lewis was practicing these forbidden rites.

Jack never forgave himself for leaving the city. He always
thought if he had stayed then it all would have turned out quite
differently. During his trip to Chicago, his mother had fallen ill.
Unsure of the seriousness of her condition, Jack felt that he must
return home. Soon after the confrontation between Jack and Lewis,
Grace died. The shock of her death seemed to bring back the old
Lewis that Jack remembered. Lewis' grief was profound and he gave up
his research for a time. Jack seeing the suffering that Lewis was
experiencing, came to the support of his friend. Lewis swore off the
dark studies that lead to the loss of the one thing he loved most in
life, Grace.

Lewis' obsession had depleted most of his wealth. He quickly
became frustrated with his attempts to regain what he had lost. He
was forced to live in a manner that he was not accustom. During
Jack's correspondence with Lewis at this time, he noticed a change.
Lewis became paranoid of growing old and dying. At first he
attributed this paranoia as a reaction to the death of his wife but
over time it only grew worse. Jack suspected that it was this and
the threat of poverty that drove Lewis back to his studies.

During the latter years of Lewis' life, he was much more
secretive about the focus of his research and his activities. Money
earned in business dealings were used for travel. It is known that
he spent a considerable amount of time in Europe visiting various
libraries who were famous for their collection of rare books
containing dreaded formulas and incantations.

In 1962 Lewis left Chicago for England. He began his research at
the British Museum in London. Letters to Jack spoke of visits to
libraries and hinted at the untapped resources of private collectors.
The inventory of these collectors contained the work of authors that
the other libraries would never dare to place upon their shelves. He
sent a brief note from Prague and a postcard from Transylvania.
Eventually the letters stopped. It wasn't until Lewis' return to the
states in 1972 that Jack spoke to him again.

Over the ten year span of his travels, a dramatic change had
overcome Lewis. There was an ill-concealed arrogance in his manner.
He had a cold fire in his eyes that burned with triumph. During his
visit with Jack, he seemed unable to contain his excitement. He
hinted at dark secrets that horrified Jack. This was not the same
man who had been his friend. After this reunion, Jack kept his
distance from Lewis.

All correspondence between the two men ceased until a few years
later when Lewis contacted Jack. He had just opened an antique shop
and Jack was recommended to him for supplying antiques. Jack agreed
to provide the antiques unaware of the their deadly purpose. The two
men kept only a business relationship. Even when Jack was in town,
he did not stop by to visit. It wasn't until after Lewis' death that
Jack learned the terrible truth, the evil pact Lewis had made with
the powers of darkness.

No one really knows what really happened the night of Lewis'
death or why he decided to break his pact with the devil. Over the
years of seeking out his cursed antiques and going through all the
records he left behind, we can only guess. Lewis had three great
fears in life: poverty, growing old and dying. After he made his
pact with the devil, he did make a modest fortune from various
investments. There was even a report of a 'miraculous' recovery
after being shot by a would-be thief at the store. But Lewis did
grow older and his wealth was not as much as he expected. By
contrast, his deal required him to sell more antiques more frequently
over time. He had to work harder to keep up. Maybe Lewis with all
his arrogance thought he could break the pact. No one, not even
Lewis can undo a pact once made with darkness. Lewis' body was found
by one of his neighbors in the cellar. His face was grotesquely
distorted by pure terror. Official records listed his death due to
heart failure. We, the inheritors of his legacy, know the truth.

3: Ryan's Journey

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III. Ryan's Journey

The key to Lewis' forbidden knowledge could be found in those
years in Europe, so I began my own journey into darkness. I traveled
to Europe to retrace Lewis' steps. I relied on the assistance from
those, like myself, who used their knowledge of the occult to defeat
the powers of evil. Our numbers are few. Each one of us knows only
a few names of the others so that the enemy may never learn about us
all. I sought those who may have monitored Lewis strange studies.
Over two years were spent following up various leads with no success
until I meet a man in Dublin, Ireland who remembered a stranger
fitting Lewis' description.

An odd man had come to Dublin in the late 60s. He excited
curiosity when he began to make inquires into the past of a very
unsavory character known simply as the Baron McEnvoy. The Irish
History Museum in Dublin has one of the best collections in the
country. Anyone wishing to seek information on their ancestors comes
to this library for its vast resources. Lewis spent a considerable
amount of time at the library looking for information on the Baron
and his descendants. After a little investigation of my own, I
discovered that there was a living relative residing in the old
Baron's castle in the remote fishing village of Lexford.

I traveled by train to the border of Sligo {sly'-goh} on the
northeastern coast of Ireland. I bought a car from one of the locals
to continue my journey to the village of Lexford. In this remote
part of the world, it was like traveling back into time. The road
weaved through rolling hills covered with dark woods that seemed to
stretch forever. It was so strange to see no sign of civilization
other than the dirt path that I was following.

A few run-down little cottages began to appear on the
countryside. As I continued further, I saw the village of Lexford.
Upon entering the village I was meet with the suspicious stares from
the townspeople. I knew, as a stranger, I would not be welcome.
This would make my work much more difficult. I drove to the only
inn, The Sign of the Star. After unpacking I walked towards the
center of town where an old church stood. There was an elderly man
toiling in a small garden behind the building. Mistaking him for the
groundskeeper I asked where I could find the parson.

"You've found him my boy. I'm Joseph Callen. How can I be of
assistance?" he said as he stood up. There was a smile on the face
of the kindly old gentleman.

"I'm Ryan Dallion sir. It is nice to meet you," I said as I
shook his hand. "I am a writer. I am interested in a story about
the history of Lexford and the Baron McEnvoy. I was wondering if I
might be able to ask you some questions, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind at all. We do not have too many visitors from out
of town. Why don't we go inside and get some tea," he said as he
lead me towards a small cottage beside the church. When we had made
ourselves comfortable in the front room the parson continued, "I
don't know how much help I can be to you son. I have only been the
parson of this village for the last eight years. I replaced Father
Murphy when he died."

"What do you know about the Baron?" I asked as I pulled out pen
and paper to take notes.

"The Baron," he said thoughtfully. "He is a bit of a mystery. I
must warn you of the hysteria of the villagers when it comes to the
Baron. There are so many wild legends surrounding the castle and the
family of the Baron. I dismissed the stories of the townsfolk. They
were too incredible to be believed. However, I can understand how
such rumors could perpetuate over the years. I have meet the Baron
myself when I first came to the village. I know that it is a very
un-Christian like thing to say, but he is a most repulsive
individual."

"What kind of stories?" I asked. I was intrigued.

"Stories of a man who never grows old, stories about missing
children, or strange lights and sounds from the forest surrounding
the castle. It seemed to me that anything bad or unexplainable was
blamed on the Baron."

"Could there be any truth to these rumors?" I proposed.

He paused a moment before answering, "I don't know anymore."

"Father, what happened during your meeting with him the first
time?"

"The first and the last," he corrected. "Being the new parson of
the church I made a point of visiting all of the families. Despite
the objections of the townspeople I went out to the castle to pay
the Baron a visit. He was quite hospitable. He welcomed me into his
home. I really cannot tell you exactly what disturbed me. Maybe it
was the titles of the books in his library or the strange foreign
servant who would silently enter a room then disappear a moment
later. It could have been his piercing eyes or the deep hollow
timbre of his voice. There is nothing tangible that I can point to
and say disturbed me. I am ashamed to admit the relief I felt after
I left that place. I have never returned."

His hands shook a little as he poured more tea into my cup. The
conversation changed to talk about the village. When suddenly he
looked up at a clock and announced, "The Lawson family is expecting
me for dinner. I really must be on my way. Maybe the widow O'Riely
could be of assistance to you. Just take the main road to the edge
of town and you will see her house."

I thanked the parson and followed the main road as he suggested.
The widow O'Riely was sitting on her porch swing fanning herself as I
walked up her drive. I introduced myself. When I told her that
Father Callen recommended that I speak with her, the suspicion on her
face was replaced with a bright smile.

"Oh yes, if you want to know about Lexford history then I am the
person to ask. I have lived here over ninety years, longer than
anyone else. Come sit beside me boy. I can't hear as well as I use
to."

I sat down beside he and told her of my interest in the village
and the Baron. The smile on her face faded, "The Baron. Aye, he has
been the bane of this village since long before my time."

"I thought you said you were the oldest resident of the village?"

"Oldest of God's children," she replied. She proceeded to tell
me the tale of the Baron Angus McEnvoy of Ulster. It was a strange
story that continued through dinner. When she seemed to grow tired,
I thanked her for her time and hospitality. I left her home with
borrowed books. The ancient books were in the old Irish tongue:
'Book of the Earls' and 'Battle of Ulster'. I was so excited. I
couldn't sleep. I returned to my room at the inn and read through
the night. By morning I knew the story and suspected much more.
After the sunrise, I fell into a troubled sleep.

4: Manuscript of Ryan

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MANUSCRIPT OF RYAN DALLION

IV. The Baron Angus McEnvoy of Ulster

During the time of the ancient Irish kingdom in northern Ireland,
McEnvoys were Gaelic chieftains who were loyal to the earls of
Ulster. Unrest in the country had perpetuated since the English
conquest of the 11th century. In the 16th century, English reforms
were tearing the country apart. When the Ulster clans rebelled
against England in 1594, the McEnvoys joined the battle. The clans
suffered heavy losses and surrendered to their conquerors. The
chieftains oppressed by English rule, fled in 1607. After the
"flight of the earls", the English crown confiscate their vast lands.

English forces had devastated the Ulster countryside. The
McEnvoys were decimated except for one, Angus. He was the least
favored of the McEnvoys. Accused of sorcery prior to the wars, his
life had been spared by keeping one step ahead of his accusers. The
Baron McEnvoy took what was left of his family's vast fortune to
western coast. Wishing to keep low profile, the Baron moved to the
small fishing village of Lexford outside of Sligo. He built a castle
in hills outside village. The villagers immediately despised the
newcomer. Stories of conflicts between the Baron and his neighbors
were common.

The main source of the strife was the land on which the Baron had
built his castle. It was an unholy site. Old stones with runic
inscriptions and mysterious mounds were scattered about the hillside.
Village legends held that druidic rituals including human sacrifice
where held under the twisted oak trees of that strange land. The
land was bane as was anyone who resided on it.

Near the end of the 17th century the long-lived McEnvoy was
exciting the curiosity of the villagers and fueling evil legends.
The Baron left the region to travel to England. Rumors of his death
found its way back to the village. In the mid-18th century a
relative of the Baron McEnvoy suddenly appeared to claim his
inheritance. Provisions in the Baron's Will seemed to hold up his
claim. Once again there was a Baron in the Castle McEnvoy and again
the conflicts with the villagers arose. There were many dark rumors
about the similarity of the features of the two men.

The village was not unaffected by the failure of the potato crop
that produced a devastating famine in the country. Between 1841 and
1851, the Baron gained favor for a time by using his wealth to save
village. However the truce did not last long when a decade later the
well-preserved remains of a man were found in a peat bog on the
Baron's estate. Scholars from around the country came to the village
to examine the historical find. The 2,000 year old body was believed
to be a sacrifice to an ancient pagan gods of the druids. The
villagers did not believe these claims and insisted the body was of a
more recent date.

History repeated itself again when the Baron set out to travel
and rumors of his death came back to the village. After the turn of
the century, the current Baron came to Lexford to lay claim to his
family's fortune. Again, there were dark rumors about the
similarities between the two men. The villagers expecting trouble
did not find any. There seemed to be a truce between the village and
the Baron that lasted until the summer of 1968.

The widow O'Riely remembered a stranger who came to the village
over twenty years ago. He was apparently a guest of the Baron's
since he did not stay at the inn. Rather, he made his way directly
to the castle. He stayed at the castle over two years, two years
that were the darkest in recent memory for the village.

It all started about six months after Lewis' arrival. One night,
young boys who had been playing near the Baron's land noticed strange
flickering lights in the forest. The boys who were scared, ran home
with their bizarre tale. No one thought much of the story as they
attributed it to the wild imagination of children. It wasn't until a
few months later that the disappearances began.

The Conner girl was the first. She had been walking home just
after dark and was never seen again. The local officials
investigated the disappearance. It was known she had a boyfriend in
another village. They assumed that she had runaway, a story her
family firmly denied. Eventually the months passed by and the
incident faded from memory until the O'Riordan boy disappeared. He
was only seven at the time. It was quite unlikely that he could have
runaway by himself. People began to remember the story about the
strange lights.

There were more disappearances and strange sounds from the
forest. The townspeople were enraged. A group of men marched up to
the castle and demanded an explanation from the Baron. The Baron
dismissed accusations as being the vivid imagination of ignorant
locals. The men were not satisfied but there were too few in number
to challenge him.

The townspeople held a meeting at the church. Even the mayor of
the city could not deny that something had to be done. Plans were
made to attack the castle. Before the men could organize, officials
from Sligo arrived. They had been brought in by the Baron for
protection. The claims of the villagers seemed too wild to be
believed by the outsiders. Shortly after conflict the disappearances
and the other odd manifestations stopped. Lewis remained for several
more months then he left the area never to return.

5: Confrontation

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V. Confrontation

I woke up in the afternoon and went to the local pub for lunch.
My mind was still reeling from all that I had learned the day before.
As I ate my meal, three men at the bar kept turning around to look at
me. I finished quickly and got up to leave. The men followed me
outside then surrounded me.

"We don't like strangers," one said.

"We don't need an outsider stirring up trouble with the Baron,"
another said.

"Hey listen guys, I don't want any trouble. I'm just a writer,"
I replied as my heart started pounding.

One of the men shoved me hard against the wall knocking the wind
out of me. Another hit me across the face. I heard the sound of
footsteps coming closer. I assumed it was another coming to join the
fight.

"What seems to be the problem here boys?" a new voice said.

"Nothing Constable O'Neill," was the reply then my attackers
walked away.

"Thank you," I said gasping.

"Don't thank me Mr. Dallion. I agree with them. No good will
come from anyone prying into the business of the Baron. Over the
years we have learned to leave him alone and there is no trouble."

"Trouble?" I asked.

"I suggest you finish up your business today and leave by
morning," he said ignoring my question then he walked away.

As I walked back to the inn, I decided that my resources in the
town were exhausted. It was time to meet the Baron.

6: The Apprentice

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VI. The Apprentice

Only the top of the castle was visible from town. As a drew
closer, I began to realize the expanse of the structure. It was
incredible. Despite the ravages of time, it was obvious that the
house had once stood proudly as a symbol of its owner's vast wealth.
With much apprehension, I rang the bell at the main gate.

A most repellent and odd character answered the door. "I'd like
to see...," was all I could say before he motioned me inside the
dismal entry. He guided me down a long hallway and opened the doors
to a large sitting room. There was a fire in the hearth and chairs
nearby. He gestured for me to be seated then silently he
disappeared.

"Mr. Dallion, I have been expecting you," a deep hollow voice
said from behind me. It sent a chill down my spine. I stood up and
reluctantly extended my hand.

Although the room was dim, I could see him. He was a man of
indeterminable age. His long black hair speckled with gray sharply
contrasted his pallid skin. His eyes were piercing and the whites
had a sickly yellow caste. I could understand the repulsion felt by
the villagers.

"It is nice to meet you Baron," I said as his icy cold hand
gripped mine. The corners of his mouth curled in a sneer. I did not
imagine that many people would describe meeting him as nice and he
knew it. We sat by the fire and the strange servant returned with
drinks.

"You have been asking questions about me in the village. Did you
find the answers you were seeking?" he probed.

"To say that you are not well liked would be an understatement,"
I said sarcastically.

He roared in laughter then he leaped up. He brought his
repellent face closer to mine and hissed, "Those little creatures are
of no consequence."

I forced a smile on my face. It was time for the performance of
a lifetime. I was the actor and he, my audience. There was no
turning back now. If I failed, it would probably cost me my life.

I told him that I was the nephew of Lewis Vendredi and a student
of the black arts. I spoke of my studies and travels. We talked
late into the night. He seemed quite interested in my exploration of
the ancient city of Zin and what we found in their mystical temple.
I hoped my tale might give me credibility in his eyes. It was
imperative to the success of my mission that I gain his respect and
later his trust.

It was just before dawn when I thought the time was right for my
proposition. "I would like to be your apprentice. Teach me like you
taught my uncle. I could be of much help to you."

His evil smile gave me chills. He brushed aside my question,
"There is time for more talk to tomorrow. The hour is late. My
servant, Quam can show you to your room. I will be busy for most of
the day tomorrow. You may be interested in exploring my library."

We said goodnight then Quam lead me to my room. The bed chamber
was elegantly furnished. I climbed into bed and pulled the covers
up. It was hard to sleep in this strange house. Odd noises broke
the silence of the night. I prayed to God for courage. Could He
protect me in such an evil place?

The next day I went to the library after breakfast. It was
incredible. The large two story room was covered floor to ceiling
with books. Judging by the layers of dust, many had not been used in
years. The air in the gloomy room was stale. I went over to the
windows and threw open the heavy velvet curtains. Fresh air and
sunshine poured into the room. I began to explore everything. It
was one of the best libraries I had ever seen. The value of such a
collection was immeasurable.

The library was a researchers dream come true. I found books
from 16th century monks, eye witness accounts of the Crusades, and
the parchment of a Roman businessman. In one drawer I found papyrus
dating back to 7 B.C.E. containing some fragments of the Old
Testament. All these fantastic works were just locked away gathering
dust. I forced myself to remain focused. I had to find the books
containing the secrets of the curse and the Baron longevity.

I spent several days going through the contents of that library.
While there was a vast collection of books on witchcraft, demonology
and magic, I did not find what I needed. I wondered about a locked
door that I had found the day before. Maybe there were other books
in the adjoining room. When I asked for the key, Quam refused. When
I asked what was in there, he did not answer. I decided that it was
time to explore the rest of the house.

I had not seen the Baron since my arrival. Each day a
handwritten note was delivered to me with his apologies. I began to
search the other rooms of the house. To my surprise I found that
some of the villagers were employed by the Baron for the upkeep of
the estate. Most were unwilling to talk. I could see the fear in
their eyes. One woman, Miss Parnell told me that the villagers came
to the castle in the morning and left before nightfall. No one
stayed after dark except Quam.

I spent a day going through the rooms of the first and second
floors. The next morning I decided to explore the attic with a key I
had stolen. There were stacks of boxes, old steamer trunks, antiques
furnishings and much more. In the corner, an old painting caught my
eye. It was a portrait of the Baron. Although the picture was
obviously of great age, it was the exact image of the Baron as he
appears this day. Behind the portrait were others, all of the Baron.
The style of clothing indicated different historical periods but the
face never changed. I was not surprised. It merely confirmed the
suspicions that I already had in my heart.

By the end of my first week I received a note from the Baron
saying that we would be dining together that evening. I dreaded his
company. When I walked into the dining room I found that a fine meal
had been laid out. The Baron was already seated with a glass of wine
in his hand. I sat across from him.

"Was the library to your liking?" he asked.

"Yes, you have one of the finest collections that I have ever
seen," I replied. He seemed to enjoy the compliment.

"I hope you found enough to occupy your time. I had to attend to
certain matters of business."

"I could spend a lifetime going through the works of your
library. I hope that you do not mind, I explored the castle a little
as well," I said in case I had been watched.

"Not at all," he replied with a knowing smile. I suspected that
he was aware of my search through the attic as well.

He continued, "You mentioned your willingness to help. I have a
small request. You see the people in the surrounding areas do not
take to well to Quam. They find his appearance odd and they are
afraid of him. It makes it very difficult to conduct business. I
cannot trust any of the villagers working for me. I was wondering if
you would pick up our supplies from Covington." He explained that
the supplies were picked up every three weeks. The hostility between
the Lexford villagers and the Baron made it impossible for him to do
business. Therefore, it was necessary to travel to the village of
Covington. I was to leave in the morning.

The trip took a day each way. I found it to be a welcome relief
to be free of the dismal castle walls. The warmth of the sun on my
face and the fresh air were refreshing. While I was in Covington, I
called Jack. He was quite worried. It had been well over a month
since we last spoke. I had not told him about the Baron so I
explained the situation. He immediately suggested that he fly out to
help. I told him to wait for word from me. I explained that any
outsiders in the area might attract attention. I could not risk the
Baron getting suspicious. We agreed to speak again in three weeks
time.

I did call him three weeks later and again in three more weeks.
During that time the Baron assigned me various tasks which mostly
included looking up information in his library. I always felt that
he already knew the answers. He was testing me.

7: The Horror

****************************************

VII. The Horror

My assignments from the Baron continued. Each study probed
further into more hellish subjects. He always watched me carefully
when I reported my results to him. I felt he was looking for any
indications of weakness. I always remained calm and detached hoping
he would see fit to give me access to the other areas of his work.

"You have done well. You are much smarter than your uncle," he
told me one night at dinner.

"Thank you," I replied. "There is just one thing that I don't
understand. Why did you help Lewis? What did you get out of the
arrangement?"

"You naive fool," he shot back. "You really do not know. Do you
think your uncle acted upon his own? He was my pawn. Like many
others, I sent him out to spread confusion and despair among the
people. In their pain and anguish, the people will curse their god.
When they have lost hope, it will make it easier for us to take their
souls. Come, we have work to do."

I followed him to the basement. In the wine cellar, a flip of a
switch caused one whole wall to move revealing a passageway. Below
was a vast sub-basement. Down a flight of ancient stone stairs lay a
large temple. There was a stone alter in the center. Although worn
from the ages, I could make out disturbing chiseled images and
symbols. On the far wall was a colorful mosaic made of small stones.
There were strange shapes and brilliant colors. The beauty of this
work seemed out of place in this dismal chamber. On the other two
walls were an open archway and an oaken door. The Baron motioned me
towards the archway and I followed. I could not help glancing back
at the door.

We entered a small room containing many shelves of odd mixtures
and potions. I recognized a few chemicals for their importance in
conducting eldritch rites and magic. He instructed me to gather some
of the bottles and bring them to the alter room. After certain
preparations were made, I stood back and watched as he began the
ceremony. Little bottles of various colors were poured into an
ornate golden bowl. He told me to draw symbols on the floor around
the alter. Frightful passages were read out of an old book spread
out in front of him. Lifting his arms he recited incantations from
the demoniac text.

I sensed the approaching danger but I could do nothing. The
panic rose inside of me. It was all I could do to remain firm where
I stood. He would never tolerate any weakness. If I ran away, he
would not hesitate to hunt me down and kill me. An intolerable
stench rose up from the golden bowl. Curls of smoke began to glow in
the air above us. The silence was broken by a low rumbling that grew
stronger and stronger. I felt the ground below me start to shake.
The wall decorated with strange shapes began to change. The colors
seemed to swirl together and bulge outward. The rumbling changed to
a pulsating noise like a heart beat. The wall had an iridescent
glow. There were shapes forming. Suddenly they became more
distinct. I turned my head and could not gaze upon them. They were
blasphemous and foul. Forms of many creatures writhed and reached
out from what had once been a solid wall then they began to speak. I
was frozen with pure terror otherwise I would have run despite the
deadly consequences.

"You wanted to know how I acquired my knowledge. Meet my mentors
Mr. Dallion," he laughed wickedly. I could not endure the site any
longer. I lost consciousness.

8: The Holy Book and te Unholy Book

****************************************

MANUSCRIPT OF RYAN DALLION


VIII. The Holy Book and the Unholy Book

I woke up the next morning in my bed. I did not know how I got
there. I saw the Baron at breakfast. Apologizing for my momentary
lapse in the temple, I asked his forgiveness. I assured him that it
would not happen again. He laughed at me and called me a weak fool.

"I will send you out soon to continue in your uncle's work," he
announced. "Here is the key to the anteroom next to the library.
Quam has laid out the necessary books for you. I will expect you to
be well prepared when I need you."

"As you wish," I said then I excused myself from the room. I
headed directly for the library. Finally I was to have access to his
special collection of books. I knew the answers that I was seeking
lay in that small room, somewhere.

There were two books and a pile of papers laid out on a table for
me. The first book was a journal. I knew that it had belonged to
Lewis because I recognized his handwriting. In it were careful and
detailed notes with references to things like 'the Familiar', 'arise
out of the abyss', and 'Charm of the Possession'. It had many
references to the other book that lay on the table, the hideous
Necronomicon. Only two copies of the Necronomicon were known to be
in existence. Neither copy was complete. Over the ages certain
pages had mercifully been destroyed. As I looked through this copy,
I realized that it contained every hellish page of its mad author.

I began reading Lewis' journal. He described the secrets that
had been missing for ages in this unedited evil book. He outlined
detailed instructions for something called 'The Charm of the
Possession'. When he referred to pages in the hellish book, I read
the forbidden text. When I came to a certain part, I had to stop and
close my eyes. I felt sick because I learned what happened to those
who disappeared from the village twenty-seven years ago. After a few
minutes, I continued and I did not stop until I had finished.

Lewis had used The Charm of the Possession to capture lesser
demons from the abyss. Each cursed object was possessed by one of
these entities. The conditions of the pact for each cursed object
was unique. Although the methods varied, in the end a human
sacrifice was made by its owner to be granted their desires. Over
the years of gathering these objects, this was something I had seen
too many times.

When I reached the end of the journal, I still did know how to
undo the curse. I flipped the pages frantically searching for some
clue. Then I found it, a small note at the bottom of one page. One
simple sentence, 'casting out of the demons occupying the matter'.
There was a reference. I immediately searched all the shelves. When
I could not find it, I went through all the stacks of paper. After
searching the file drawers, I still could not find it. I began to
panic. Had the Baron destroyed this book to ensure that the curse
could not be broken?

I calmed myself and slowly went over the room inch by inch. As I
removed a few books from a shelf, I noticed a slight recess behind
them. I tried to peer into the opening but I could not see in. When
I reached inside my hand touched something. I pulled the object out
of the dark recess. It was a book. Astonished, I looked down at
what lay in my hands. I could not believe it. How could this be?
It was suppose to have been burned when the great library of Rome was
destroyed by the barbarians in the first century.

I could read the ancient Hebrew words on the cover. This holy
book was known by modern men simply as 'The Lost Book of the
Prophets'. There were chapters on the abyss, casting out of evil and
the protection. As I read the words, it all made sense. I knew that
this was the book referred to in Lewis' notes. What was Lewis doing
with this information? Evil cannot cast out evil since 'a house
divided against itself falls' and I knew what 'house' Lewis belonged.
The Casting Out would work only for one with a righteous heart.

I noticed a small piece of paper marking a page that had not been
referenced on Lewis' journal. Curious, I began to read. This was
different. Over an over again there was reference to 'The Unmaking'.
I did not understand until I read the last line 'evil may persist in
the Making'. I remembered from my studies several years ago about a
spell of Making. It was a rebirth through evil spells. The Baron
must have used The Making for prolonging his life indefinitely. I
went back to The Lost Book for the Unmaking. I read it over and
over, memorizing each word carefully in the ancient tongue. Each
syllable must be pronounce exact. I knew that I would only have one
chance. There could be no mistakes. Would the Unmaking work? It
had to.

The Baron allowed me several days in the anteroom of the library.
I did not sleep but a few hours and Quam brought my meals to me.
Always I had to be careful to keep the holy book hidden. On my last
day of studies, I was going through a file drawer and noticed Lewis'
name on a paper written by the Baron. There were other names too and
addresses. I knew that these must be the ones sent out to spread his
evil. I copied the names and addresses down so that they may be
taken care of in due time. I was now ready for the final battle.

9: The Assignment

****************************************

IX. The Assignment

After my studies in the library, he began to test me further. He
had always asked for information on spells or translations of ancient
texts. This time it was very different. He needed innocent blood.
He instructed me to hide in the forest and look for young children
from the village. They were to be brought to him unharmed. He would
not tell me for what purpose. I was horrified but did not show it.
I went out to the forest knowing that I would have to make an excuse
for failure. Fortunately, it was the season of storms. I used the
bad weather as a reason for seeing no one in the forest. It seemed
to appease him for a time.

It was not long before he gave me another assignment. This time
he wanted me to obtain the old bones of a former enemy from the
village graveyard. I could not deny him again so I went out into the
night for the ghastly task. The darkness covered my unholy deeds as
I began to dig next to a crumbling headstone. I prayed to God for
forgiveness. Many times over the years I had wanted to quit and turn
my back on the responsibilities from my inheritance. Never before
had urge to run away been so strong as it was that night.

There was a noise, a crack of a branch. I heard another sound,
footsteps. There were shouts and hands reaching out to grab me. I
was being dragged from the graveyard towards the village. A few
minutes later I was in the Constable's office with a half dozen men.
Pure hatred fill the eyes of those around me.

"I knew he was bad the moment he came to town," said one

Another hissed, "He's in league with that demon, the Baron. He's
doing his work. He's been living at the castle."

"I need to talk with Constable O'Neill and Father Callen, alone,"
I interrupted.

"Don't do it Constable. He might put a spell on you. Let's get
rid of him. They'll never find his body," a man said.

In a firm voice the Constable took charge, "There will be nothing
of the sort. Peter, please fetch Father Callen. I want everyone to
leave now."

"We'll be outside in case you need our help," the last one spoke
as he closed the door behind him.

Constable O'Neill turned towards me. He was restraining the
anger he felt. He looked straight into my eyes and said, "I hope you
a good explanation son because I plan on pressing charges against
you. I'll see that you get the longest jail term possible. I will
do anything necessary to protect the people of this village from you
and your friend the Baron."

"I am not his friend," I countered. "I am his enemy although he
does not know that yet. I am here to destroy him. It is a long
story and I will explain everything when Father Callen gets here."

The Constable backed off for a moment. I could not tell if he
believed me. He walked across the room and poured himself a cup of
coffee. We did not speak again until Father Callen arrived.

"Tell me it's not true my boy," Father Callen said as he entered
the room. He removed his coat and sat in a chair beside me.

"I will tell you the truth, everything," I said as I began my
long story. I told them about my inheritance and the curse. I
explained how we sought out and retrieved many objects over the
years. I made it known the danger these objects posed and how many
lives had already been lost. Although these objects were locked up
and guarded, they would be around long after we died. It was of the
utmost importance that the curse be broken. I told them that I found
what I needed in the Baron's library and that I also learned how to
destroy the Baron. I begged them to let me return to the castle to
complete my mission.

They thought about my words for a long time and asked me many
questions. In the end, I was allowed to leave but the Constable had
one warning, "I will be watching you boy. If you have lied to us, I
will see that you pay dearly for it."

Before I left I turned to Father Callen and said, "Pray for me."

10: Darkness

****************************************

X. Darkness

I ran through the forest to the castle. I quietly made my way to
my room and slipped under the covers of the bed. Before I fell
asleep, I knew what excuse I would give the Baron for failing the
task he had given to me.

In the morning I did not see the Baron. I went to the library
and continued my studies. As I worked the only sound was the ticking
of the clock until the silence was broken by an inhuman howl. The
Baron burst into the library and screamed, "Betrayer! Traitor!"

"What do you mean? I have done nothing!" I shouted back in
terror.

"Do not insult me with your pretense of innocence," he screamed.
He grabbed me by the shirt collar and lifted me into the air with
incredible strength. He shoved me hard against the wall. I could
barely breath. "I should kill you now but I would rather you
suffer," he hissed. "Take him away!" he screamed at Quam.

I was quickly bound and gagged. They dragged me down to the
cellar towards the old oaken door in the temple. I was about to find
out what lay on the other side. I was lead down a flight stairs
through a maze of hallways to a small chamber. The room was empty
except for a tall post in the center. They tied me to the post and I
knew what was next.

"No. No! No!!" I screamed then I felt the sting of the whip
upon my back. Again and again it came and my flesh felt like it was
on fire. I don't know how many times because I lost consciousness
before it was over.

I awoke in darkness. The pungent odors of human waste stung my
nose. The ground was damp and cold. Hours passed before I had the
strength to raise my body up from the stone floor. I could see
nothing. I slowly walked forward until my hands touched the icy
surface of my prison. I walked around it to determine it size and
contents. I was in a small room with a cot and a bucket, nothing
else. I found the door and pounded on the hard wood until my hands
hurt. "Is anyone out there?! Can anyone hear me?!" I screamed but
there was no reply.

In the darkness, you have no concept of the passage of time: days
or hours, hours or minutes. Without the rising or setting of the
sun, each second felt like eternity. When the pain in my stomach
grew stronger and stronger, I began to fear that I was left to
starve. More time passed then there was a change in the silence.
The sound of footfalls coming closer. I did not know if it were for
good or ill. I did not care. I went to the door and pounded. I
heard a noise at my feet and saw a small door slide open. A dish was
pushed inside then it closed again. I dropped to my knees and
feasted on the scraps of stale bread and water then I cried. I did
not want to die.

11: The Rescue

****************************************

XI. The Rescue

Jack Marshak began to worry when Ryan did not call him after
three weeks. When Ryan was several days overdue, Jack knew something
was wrong. Every time the phone rang, he jumped. On the third day
of waiting, Micki called. Jack tried not to sound troubled but Micki
was not fooled. She immediately made arrangements to join Jack on
the next flight to Ireland.

After their flight landed, they caught a train to the east coast
then drove to Lexford following the same route as Ryan. Driving into
the village they headed for the one man Ryan trusted, Father Callen.
They found the parson in the church cleaning up after the Sunday
mass.

Jack removed his hat and spoke first, "Father, I am Jack Marshak
and this is Micki Foster. We are friends of Ryan Dallion. We have
lost contact with him and we think he may be in grave danger."

"Aye, I have been worried about the boy myself. The servants at
the castle have not seen him in days."

Micki put her hand over her mouth to stifle a cry, "Is he?" was
all she could say. There were tears in her eyes.

The priest walked over to her and put his arm around her
shoulders. "Now, now Lass. We'll find him. There are a couple
others who can help us," he said.

That evening there was a small gathering at the parson's home.
Constable O'Neill and Miss Parnell had joined the others. They were
seated around the dining table discussing Ryan's disappearance. Miss
Parnell who was a maid at the castle was fearful that the Baron would
find out about their meeting. There was obviously an informer in the
village since the Baron knew about Ryan's betrayal. They all agreed
to speak to no one outside the group then they began to make plans.

It was Micki's idea to have Miss Parnell quit her job due to an
ailing relative that needed her care. Micki would be Miss Parnell's
niece from the States who was looking for work. She would be able to
search the castle for clues and report back to the others at night.
They all agreed on the plan then quietly they went their separate
ways.

A couple days later, Micki went to the castle seeking work. She
was relieved to find out that there were no others applying for the
job. She started work that day. At first she was under constant
supervision. It was very difficult for her to gather any clues.
Gradually she was left to do work on her own. It was by chance one
day that she was asked to go to the cellar to fetch a bottle of wine
for that evening's dinner preparations. Not wanting to waste an
opportunity, she began to search the room for clues.

It was a bloody hand print that caught her attention far in the
corner of the cellar. When she looked closer she saw a small button
that was nearly hidden. Pressing the button the wall in front of her
slide to reveal a passageway and a flashlight on the ground. She
closed the doorway then preceded down the old stairway.

The small flashlight was inadequate. She swung the beam around
trying to make out her surroundings. She entered the underground
temple and continued through an old oaken door. On the other side
was a large circular room with six hallways fanning out from a
central point. She examined the entrance to each hallway carefully.
The thick layer of dust on the floors revealed that only two had been
used recently. She went down the first and it lead to an empty room
with a post in the center. She turned around and tried the next
hallway. This corridor was long with rooms on either side. Most of
the rooms had obviously been abandoned for years. She opened one
door that lead to a long corridor. There were several food trays on
the ground and a bottle of water. She knew that she was close to
finding Ryan. Picking up the bottle, she made her way down the hall.
On either side were large heavy doors with small barred windows.

"Ryan?" she whispered. There was no reply but silence.

"Ryan?" she said again but still there was nothing. She
swallowed hard and her heart pounded in her chest. Was she too late?
she wondered.

Most of the doors were unlocked. She made her way slowly down
dark corridor until she found a door that would not open. Using her
flashlight she peered inside the room. Old bones lay on the floor.
She found several more locked rooms with severely decomposed bodies
inside. She was getting near the end of the corridor when she found
another room. Shinning the light inside she could see a man lying on
the bed.

"Ryan?" she said but he did not move. She pulled out the lock
picks that she kept hidden in her pocket and began to work on the
door. When the door creaked open the figure on the bed stirred a
little. She went over to him. It was Ryan. He looked so pale and
weak. Even his hair had turned a little gray at the temples.

She let out a cry when he turned over revealing the tattered
remains of the back of his shirt. The blood stained cloth barely
covered the old wounds. She gently put her hand on his shoulder.
"Oh, Ryan" she whispered with tears running down her face.

12: The Final Conflict

****************************************

XII. The Final Conflict

I remembered a voice calling my name. When I opened my eyes, I
saw Micki looking down at me. I heard myself asking, "Am I
dreaming?"

Micki smiled and said, "No, you are not dreaming Ryan. Here,
drink some water."

She brought a water bottle to my mouth and I drank. My throat
was so dry that it was hard to swallow. She poured some water into a
small rag and began to wipe my forehead. The damp cloth felt good
against my skin. Slowly I began to become more aware of my
surroundings and to remember what had happened.

"We have to get out of here soon. Are you well enough to walk if
I help you?" she asked.

"I'll try," I said as I struggled to sit up. My legs felt so
weak and my whole body ached. I could walk by putting my arm around
her to steady myself. Each step was an effort but slowly we made our
way back up. When we reached the cellar, Micki pulled out a small
phone.

"The phone should work now. Let me call the others," she said.
She dialed Jack's number. In a whisper she said, "Jack, I found
Ryan."

"Thank God," replied Jack with a sigh. "Where are you? Is he
okay?"

"We are in the cellar. Ryan is weak and needs a doctor. When
you get everyone together, bring a doctor too. We'll remain in
hiding until you call to say it is safe to come out."

"Let me talk to him," I said in a hoarse whisper.

Micki handed me the phone. I told Jack about the books and the
slip of paper with the names, "In case anything happens to us,
someone must get that book and paper then burn the rest."

After almost two hours the phone rang. It was Jack. He told us
that it was safe to come upstairs. They had Quam tied up in the
kitchen and the Baron was still in his bedchamber unaware of the
unwelcome guests. Somehow I found strength and was able to walk
unassisted to the kitchen. Jack immediately embraced me and almost
cried with joy.

"It's so good to see you Ryan," he said with a big smile. When I
winced a little he asked, "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"

"Oh my God," cried the Constable when he saw the scars on my
back.

"That monster!" Jack said trying to restrain his anger.

"Jack, it's okay. I don't feel it anymore. How did you..." I
stopped when I saw Quam across the room bound, gagged and tied to a
chair.

"It took all of us to subdue him. He has incredible strength,"
the Constable said.

"Did anyone get the book and the paper?" I asked anxiously.

"Yes," replied Father Callen. I saw that he was clutching a
small bag against his chest. "It is a miracle. A fantastic treasure
that we thought was lost for all time."

"Yes, it is a miracle Father. Is the Baron still upstairs?"

"I just checked five minutes ago. He was sitting at his desk
looking a some papers," said Jack.

"I know what to do. Wait for me here."

"No," Micki and Jack said in unison.

"You can't go alone it is too dangerous," countered Jack.

"You are in no shape to go up there against him," argued Micki.

My friends were trying to protect me. I knew that it was very
dangerous. I could understand their concern but I had to face him
alone. I tried to reassure them. I told them that I had a plan then
I asked the Constable for his gun.

"I thought he couldn't be killed like a mortal man?" Micki asked.
She was confused by my request.

"You're right. He can't be killed but he can be injured," I said
with a knowing smile. "Come up a few minutes after you hear the gun
shot. It should be done by then."

I turned to leave the room but Micki ran up to me. "Wait," she
said then she removed a small gold crucifix from around her neck and
put it around mine. She gave me a hug. "Be careful."

As I climbed the stairs to the second floor leaving my friends
behind, I felt the weakness leave my body. I began to recite inside
my head the seven words of the Unmaking. I would have to recite the
seven words three times for it to be undone: seven, seven and seven.
I looked down at the gun in my hand. One shot to the throat would be
enough to silence him. It would not kill him but it would prevent
him from casting a spell against me. When I looked up I was beside
the door.

I stepped into the entryway with the gun behind my back. The
Baron was at his desk writing letters to other foul demons like
himself around the world. They shared their dirty little secrets and
sought out knowledge from each other. He was aware of my presence
immediately but he took his time to look up and meet my stare. I
knew that he did not consider me a threat. His overconfidence was
his greatest weakness.

"So, you seemed to have freed yourself from your prison. How
inconvenient. I will have to get Quam to fetch you," he said to me.
He was facing me now so I raised the gun and aimed. He laughed,
"Stupid fool. You can't kill me with that thing."

"I know," I said as I smiled a little and pulled the trigger.
The blast tore open his neck exposing the wind pipe. Enraged he
jumped up from his chair and tried to scream but only a sick gurgling
noise came out. I began to recite the Unmaking. His face twisted
like a hellish demon. An evil fire burned in his eyes. I had
recited it twice when he grabbed me by the neck and lifted me off my
feet. Gasping I struggled to recite it for the third and last time.
The words barely came out as I fought for air then it was done.

He was still alive. Didn't it work? I thought. I felt the
terror rise up inside me and wondered what he would do to me. His
grip loosened then I felt my feet touch the floor. His repellent
face was only a few inches from mine. Something changed. For the
first time I saw fear in his eyes, then his eyes glazed over. His
skin so pale turned even whiter then his hair turned white too.
Gradually, his face seemed to dissolve. All at once there was no
form and it dropped to the ground like a fine powder. I felt my
knees grow weak and I sank to the floor. I couldn't move. A few
minutes later I heard the footsteps on the stairs and I remembered my
friends. They found me sitting there with a pile of clothes and a
substance like white powder spread out in front of me.

All the villagers were outside waiting. After we left the
castle, the villagers went to work. They saved the main library and
burned the Baron's evil collection including the hellish book of
secrets. When they were done with the contents of the library
anteroom, they set fire to the castle. Micki insisted that I get
back to town and inside where it was warm but I refused. I sat there
on the front lawn and watched it burn. It was a wonderful site. The
castle engulfed in flames light up the night. The parson next to me
gasped and pointed to a spot on the ground near us.

"Well, I'll be..." he said in amazement. I looked to where he
was pointing. Among the thorns, weeds and gnarled trees was a flower
so bright and beautiful. "The fire purifies the land and now there
is hope."

13: Epilogue


****************************************

XIII. Epilogue

Micki and I took our old rooms at the store. I needed to
recuperate and Micki insisted on taking care of me. Her daughter,
Alexandria was there too. After a couple weeks I was feeling and
looking much better. I had put on weight with Micki's good cooking.
However, the gray hairs were still there. Micki seemed to have fun
teasing me about it until I reminded her that she was older than me.

Jack and Rashid assisted me in the Casting Out. There were so
many antiques that it took us a full week to get to everything. We
decided not to resell anything. There were too many bad memories and
too many deaths associated with those objects. We let the antiques
sit in the vault until we could decide what to do with them.

Micki stayed away from the vault. On her last night at the
store, we went downstairs to look at the vault. We reminisced about
the good and not so good 'old days'. She told me that she tries not
to think about that time in her life. She still struggles with the
emotional scars left over by that traumatic experience.

"What are we going to do with all of this?" she asked as we poked
around the crowded room. She picked up a small porcelain doll. "It
all started here."

I remembered the day that we found out about the curse. It was
the same day we had sold that doll to a man who gave it to his
daughter. Now, the man was dead.

"I hate this place," Micki cried and she flung the doll across
the vault. Then the strangest thing happened, we heard the sound of
breaking glass. We were shocked for a minute. Cursed objects cannot
be destroyed but now the curse had been lifted. Micki and I just
looked at each other then she smiled. She picked up another object,
a snow globe and threw it. It broke into hundreds of pieces. I
picked up a crystal pendent necklace and smashed it under my shoe.
Soon we were laughing and throwing everything we could get our hands
on until Jack stormed into the room.

"What the heck is going on in here?!" he growled.

We were laughing so hard we were crying. "Oh come on Jack, have
a little fun," I said as I stepped on an antique radio. Jack just
shook his head.

"Well, finish up your fun because Rashid has spent the afternoon
preparing a nice dinner for you two and it is ready," he said.

We gathered around the table one last time before Micki was to
leave. I felt sad to see her go even though I knew I could visit her
anytime. Rashid walked over to the table with a bottle of champagne
in his hands. The cork shot out and the glasses were filled.

"A toast!" cried Jack.

"To friends, best friends," I said.

We brought our glasses together and Jack quoted, " 'Life is to be
fortified by many friendships. To love, and to be loved, is the
greatest happiness of existence.'"

"Here, here!" cried Micki.

We sat back, laughed and ate. After the meal was over I looked
over into Micki's old room. Her daughter, Alexandria was playing
with her dolls. She was safe now. The legacy passed down to us
would not be passed down to the next generation.

The End?