Jump to content


Your Stories Await Telling

The Seance Wednesday at Midnight


Recommended Posts

It was dark and dank in the lower cellars of Windsor Castle.  A small round wooden table had been brought to this chamber, formerly a catacomb of some sort.  Torches burned brightly on three walls and a pentacle candelabra with five lit candles illuminated the table and the five flimsy chairs.  There was also a small silver crucifix in front of each seat on the table, the purpose of which was yet to be explained.

Count Forensi sat in his chair, facing the entrance to the chamber.  He was dressed in a white shirt and a dark cumberbund.  A blood red stone was on his cravat pin.  Given the chill, he wore a dark cloak.

The servants who assisted in the assembly were gone, quite nervous to be setting up any furniture in such a dark place.   The aristocracy had its peculiarities for parties.

A silver pocket watch sat open before him, showing the minutes ticking close to midnight.  It had once belonged to the Duke of Newcastle. 

As usual, ladies were late and the Witching Hour was drawing close.  Yet, the Count showed no anger towards them.  The scowl on his face was for other reasons.  He knew that he would confront a monster tonight, the one that had plagued him for many years.  He only hoped that he, and the circle, would be strong enough to defeat it.  It was attracted by ladies, so he thought it might come; but, the other spirits summoned would be strong enough to seal it away.

There were soft noises in the distance.  It could have been whispers from the shadows, the slippered steps of the approach of ladies, or perhaps the scurrying of rodents disturbed in their realm.  The Count was wrapped in his thoughts, but he was not alone.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

It first appeared as a will o' wisp in the dark distance; but, as the light grew larger and closer, an observer would see a small maid with a lantern leading four silk-clad ladies of court deeper and deeper into the maw of a forgotten dungeon.  Water could be heard to be dripping quietly in the distance despite the absence of rain.  Though the passage had been cleared, cobwebs inexplicably seem captured in the feminine coiffures on display.  Whether spiders joined their disturbed webs upon the ladies' heads was something for the ladies to discovery later.  Who would not shiver in the dankness of this place.  Not even the illumination of the full moon could ever reach so low as the intrepid adventurers now ventured.

Occasionally, lit torches in rusted sconces suggested the path to join the Count, welcome oases of illumination.  There were no servants or guards present to guide the scurrying adventurers.  Other things scurried in the dark to mark the passing.  Just one rodent in the castle above would give rise to female shrieks.  Here, however, the ladies were the invaders and it was the rodents that squeaked their alarm.

At last, the decently lit chamber was reached, and with several minutes to spare. The Count was waiting and took to his feet.  With his Hungarian accent he greeted the party with "Good evening."  Though he offered a smile, it seemed that he was under some form of distress mentally or emotionally.  "Please choose your seat," he urged.  "We must hurry.  There are those awaiting us."  

The Duchess moved to the seat on the Count's right, wanting to be closest to his spirit connection.  He pulled out the chair for her.  There were three other seats and the Count looked to pull out the chair for each lady as she chose her seat.

Marie stood in the doorway with her lantern, desperately waiting to be dismissed.  This was a place of terror for her and nothing good could come from it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She had been surprised to see that the last to arrive was Anne-Elizabeth but beyond sending a small nod in greeting to her she had stayed silent.

Departure soon followed and once arrived she hung back wanting to be the last in the formation her eyes adjusting to the lack to light.

Clearly unused for its original purpose she wondered how this had been discovered. She knew little about this supposed "Count" and somewhere in the back of her mind she thinks she has heard of him but can not remember where. Brushing at what she supposes were spiders webs she tries to memorize things that they pass in the dimness. Damp clung to the very air and she touched the walls in passing when a torch appeared and she could see more but it was just a passageway. Soon they came to its end and she came into a larger room where their Host awaited. She turned her head a bit to take in his accent and could see that he was under some kind of duress. He spoke of the need for haste and about 'those that awaited them' which made her eyes widen at the idea that this was actually a REAL summoning of Spirits.

Holding back her voice as something ran across the top of her right shoe she moved a bit closer to where Anne-Elizabeth was standing.

The Duchess took the offered chair and to Davina's eye seemed already much under the influence of the Occassion. 

She wanted to sit beside Anne-Elizabeth   .........  She gave a small shiver and was glad that she had tucked her rosary beads into her pocket for whatever the reason might have been   .........

Edited by Davina Wellsley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A chill ran up her spine as she stepped into the cellar chamber.  The cold here was deathly, and just the same (Darlene imagined) as currently enjoyed by Thomas where he lay in the Oakham crypt - well Mausoleum, weren't they one in the same. 

She knew Thomas would be turning in his crypt/mausoleum if he knew what his wife was up to now.  Despite this fact she also hoped that his etherial form would be present tonight.   With wide eyes she looked into the gloom, looking for a sign, but saw Fiorenzi.  It had been a long time since she'd seen the Count and so her eyes measured the effect of intervening months (perhaps years) upon him? The anxiety and tension around him was both exciting and worrying...

"Thank you." she moved to be upon the Counts other side, for Darlene also wanted to be close to the medium... she briefly touched his arm, with intent to reassure.  Though what earthly thing could possibly do so.  

If she were a Catholic, she would have crossed herself (she briefly considered it even without being a loathsome papist, but what would the Duchess then think of her!), so instead she covertly crossed her fingers as she adjusted her cloak as she settled.

“My Count, who do you think impatiently awaits us?” Darlene whispered, the sound carrying easily to all.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

A servant opened the door and Anne-Elisabeth stepped into the room. One eyebrow quirked upward when she saw Davina. It appeared that she and Darlene were no longer at odds with each other. That was good A séance didn’t seem like the kind of thing her friend would be interested in. Maybe like herself, Davina was just curious. The slender Countess had hoped to spend some time with her before this and felt guilty that she hadn’t. Before the evening was over, she hoped to arrange a visit between them.


At present, she didn’t even have time to greet her, but she smiled in her direction as Darlene introduced her to Lady Albemarle. Both Darlene and the Duchess insisted that they leave immediately. Where were they going? Anne-Elisabeth had assumed that the séance would be held in this room.


Apparently, they were going somewhere cold and damp, which increased her suspicion that the outcome of this incident was going to be nothing more than a piece of bad theatre. The location was too stereotypical. Everyone assumed that spirits only showed themselves in dark and dreary places at midnight, but she thought it more likely that … if they existed at all … they would prefer light airy rooms during the day with lots of sunshine.


Anne-Elisabeth was glad that she was wearing a cloak (fastened by not one, but four silver brooches). It was the same one she had worn to the carnival with Lord Silverbridge. As the ladies followed the Duchess’ maid into the depths of the castle, she was certain that the hem of her cloak was going to be as filthy as it had been after the carnival. Bess would grumble about having to clean it yet again.


The air became danker and murkier the deeper they went. Anne-Elisabeth pulled out her pomander and sniffed it as she walked. Torches along the way cast eerie shadows on the walls but did little to dispel the darkness in the passageway. Somebody had put considerable effort into setting this up, probably hoping to frighten them. It wasn’t working, not on her anyway. The Countess of Cambray did not scare easily. She wasn’t even afraid of rats or spiders. Their counterparts in the Caribbean were larger and more dangerous. The only vermin that terrified her were the huge flying cockroaches that lived in warm climates. They tended to launch themselves right at you. Fortunately, England was too cold for them.


It seemed like countless boring ages before they finally reached their destination. How predictable, she thought as she looked around.  She recognized the Count from last season when he had presided over a strange card game that had not impressed her.   Nor had he, as she had completely forgotten about him. He looked rather troubled. Perhaps he was afraid that one of the ladies would realize he was a fraud?  The moment he asked for money would be the moment she left the room.


Quit being so cynical and keep an open mind, she told herself. Anne-Elisabeth smiled at Davina and gestured for her to choose either the chair closest to Darlene or the one beside the Duchess.  She would take the remaining seat.  Either way, she got to sit by Davina, which is what she had hoped for.  She listened to Darlene's question, wondering what the answer would be.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The ladies looked uncomfortable, but with good reason.  This chamber was the antithesis of that which humanity desired.  Yet, there was no sunlight and dryness awaiting them above.  Instead a full moon was becoming cloaked in clouds that looked to hide downpours within.  Already, flashes of silent lightning within the clouds were illuminating the heavens as if some aerial divinity was raging against its captivity. The ground awaited the coming rain with promise of new growth whereas the underground awaited its own dark nourishment.

As Anne-Elizabeth hesitated in choice of seating, the Duchess called Cambray to come sit next to her.  Who wanted a Catholic next to them?  This left Davina to take her seat next to Darlene and across from the Albemarle.

Everyone took their seat.  Darlene's touch was barely noticed by the Count.  He seemed in a partial trance as they took their places.  In response to Lady Oakham's query, Forensi turned his bloodshot eyes in her direction.  "Many are waiting.  Imagine a thousand lost souls trapped here begging a chance to reach the living.  My task will be more keeping unwanted spirits at bay.  Her Grace wishes to reach her grandfather.  We hope that he answers the summons."  It sounded simple enough.

"Let us begin," he declared solemnly.  "There is little time.  Evil spirits fear silver and a crucifix," the Count explained methodically, though with a voice that seemed to resist a growing pain.  "I have placed a crucifix in front of each of you, should the circle be broken and you feel some spirit wishes to possess you.  We will hold hands to unite our life energy.  Like the silver, it shall help us combine strength to ward away the strongest spirits.  If you let go of your neighbor's hand, it will break the link and allow the darkness to pass.  Hold on for dear life and pray aloud for strength if necessary," he counseled.  "You may wonder why we meet in such dark places and at midnight."  He expected this question from novices.  "Spirits are mostly incapable of communicating with the living.  It takes the most favorable of conditions to build a spiritual bridge to the underworld.  They cannot bear bright light and need to be near a crypt, graveyard, or place of great evil where curses were uttered upon dying lips.  The shroud that divides the living and the dead is the weakest at midnight.  It is a time when the living slumber and their dreams invite spirits to meddle.  A few persons have a skill to search the spirit world.  They are called mediums, and I am one.  We offer our bodies as temporary hosts to a friendly spirit.  We cannot hold them overlong in our body, lest we go mad.  You will see me struggle with spirits who do not wish to leave my body.  I will need your strength at times," he warned.  "Lastly, spirits have the easiest time communicating with children, but they are attracted to ladies like moths to flame.  They are curious creatures and prefer the fairer sex to engage.  Women are more sympathetic to their plight and present little danger. Dark spirits feed on the fear of women and children.  You ladies are better bred and better able to resist thereby."  Having summarized what the ladies needed to know, he paused for questions.

"Now join hands," he instructed as he held out his hands to Darlene and Elizabeth.  "I will try to find the departed spirit of William Cavendish. There are several brutish spirits present that I will try and keep at bay, but there is one that haunts me.  I can only pray that we can keep it at distance.  Are we ready?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

His reply made perfect sense to Darlene.  Windsor had a long history, there was no doubt many lost souls who'd never made it to their heavenly reward.   Then there were also those saintly others, who might just come to visit a while, those persons like William and Thomas. 

Darlene's hand reached to touch the dimly lit crucifix before her, it was not that she was a Catholic, but that she was not a fool either. Every measure must help.   

But the Count instructed that holding hands to create a circle was preferable, and so she offered her own hands both ways, taking a gentle grasp of those also offered to her.   Meanwhile, she listened, and grew concerned, "How shall we give you our strength if it is needed?" she asked and threw a look around the table as she imagined the others also wanted to know this. 

But it was beginning already, a shiver of excitement ran up her spine.  The Count said there were already a number of louts present, but perhaps he'd just mistaken Thomas?  (Because Thomas was rather muscular) She could only hope!  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seemed her seat was decided before she could even act and so she took the chair beside Darlene.

If things had been 'arranged' to make them afraid she thinks that it might well work. The way the table was dressed made one eyebrow raise slightly and as she listened to the Count her initial thought that this was some Charlatan's trick became clearer. This Count seemed to be well versed in language designed to cause shivers and even fear and then when he spoke of 'spirits' that were already present she chanced a look beyond where they all sat. She was superstitious enough to have a Belief yet also well-versed in Court Presentations and how masques and plays were constructed and designed. Asked to then join hands and even to keep their strengths at the ready in order to aid the Count had her look to Anne-Elizabeth seeking to judge her reactions.

It was no surprise that the Duchess was to be the "Star" of this seance and the person she wanted to have appear was a curious one. Darlene seemed as inthralled as the Duchess and Davina wondered just what that Lady might want to have happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Duchess asked Anne-Elisabeth to sit by her. Maybe she thought that the protection of the Countess’ overkill of silver would extend to her. She could think of no other reason that she would want to sit beside a complete stranger. Smiling at the Duchess, she sat down, leaving Davina to take the chair on her other side.


She barely suppressed a groan as she listened to the Count’s speech. It sounded as if he was quoting a bad horror novel. Maybe he was. Perhaps he had even written one. She seriously doubted that he was actually a Count. He likely had more in common with the performers at the carnival than he did with the nobility. Maybe that’s where he had gotten his start. He was probably hoping to scare his audience, but none of the ladies looked terrified. As for her, well … he wasn’t a cockroach and he didn’t fly.


The young Countess glanced down at the crucifix in front of her without much interest. It was probably yet another theatrical prop to set the stage for the ‘Count’s’ performance. She thought of picking it up and sticking it in her bodice just in case but that might be seen as disrespectful and get her thrown out of the room.


There was a big hole in his story and when he paused for questions, Anne-Elisabeth couldn’t resist pointing it out after Darlene made her own inquiry. “Excuse me, but … actually don’t excuse me. My curiosity is valid. I grew up on Barbados where spirits are respected and celebrated by the natives. Their rituals often take place in the middle of their villages, not in deep dank dismal dungeons of doom.” Great piece of alliteration there, she silently congratulated herself. “Nor do they hide them.  You can hear their drums when the wind is right.  In fact, a few friends and I watched one from behind some trees. It was full of stirring music and enthusiastic chanting.” She decided not to mention the part about the dead chickens.


“So why do English spirits need evil places to appear to the living while Caribbean spirits don’t? I can understand that malevolent shades would favor such conditions, but you speak of summoning a friendly apparition. I see the need for darkness. Even the ceremonies in Barbados take place at night. But why would a good spirit be attracted to such places? Wouldn’t they prefer a warm cheerful drawing room to …” Anne-Elisabeth waved one hand to indicate their surroundings. “...this?”


Regardless of his answer, she would take the hands of Davina and the Duchess when instructed to do so. In a way, she wanted to believe that they were going to experience a supernatural occurrence tonight. Then she would know that spirits were real.  She was also relieved that the ‘Count’ was going to summon some relative of the Duchess and not just the first shade who came along.  Anne-Elisabeth preferred the ghosts of her past and the skeletons in her closet to stay where they belonged.


When he asked if they were ready, she squeezed Davina’s hand.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Horrified at the Countesses rudeness Darlene stood, concern plainly upon her face. "I am so sorry Count, I had not realised I was inviting a disbeliever in the sacred arts!" 

She did not dare look at the Duchess at that moment, who was no doubt upset at Darlene at that point. What was I even thinking?!  Prior to this, Darlene had thought that Davina might cause problems.

"I shall escort her from the room, before everything is ruined." she pledged, then looking at Anne Elizabeth with a frown she added, "Come. The spirits will not appear amidst sceptics, day or night madame! " 

Darlene was fearful at that moment, not of ill-boding wraiths, but that she might lose her most loyal friend over this blunder of an invite.  Distraught, she looked towards Elizabeth Monck. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In this dark space, one would expect a reaction of horror, but not in response to glib irreverence of a participant.  Darlene was the first to react.  In that moment she won the gratitude of her best friend, and the Count as well.  Elizabeth was stunned at the temerity of such disrespect.  Her hand dropped contact with Cambray.  Darlene was correct, this sanctimonious pagan might well have ruined her chance to speak with her grandfather!  Chances to connect with lost loved ones were fragile and easily lost forever.  She would have stood and scolded Anne, just as Darlene did, but that seemed beneath her at the moment.  Rather, she seethed inside trying to find words that might soothe the spirits that had congregated in this rare moment.

"Darlene, dear, stay.  I need you at my side." Always she thought to herself.  Instead, she instructed her maid Marie, who still stood in the archway shivering.  "Marie, please escort this ... woman to the outside," she ordered flatly.

It was the Count that spoke next, to the surprise of the Duchess.  "Let her stay," he urged quietly.  "Everyone is a non-believer once.  We need five for this calling.  I believe our chances for contact are better with her and our defense against the Beast are greater with her here.  Perhaps her dismissal of the English Christian spirits will strengthen us against dark spirits."

Though clearly upset, Elizabeth nodded at last.  It was critical that she speak with her grandfather.  He had appeared in her dreams for a month, trying to warn her of something.  His outreach had been urgent, as if every hour she delayed would be to her peril.  "You are likely correct Count," she agreed, a common thing in their relationship.

Turning to Ann-Elizabeth, Forensi showed remarkable patience, even as he exhibited internal signs of turmoil.  "Countess, pagan spirits respond to pagan rituals." It was a simple enough explanation.  "Moslem spirits respond differently.  The Turks have overrun my home country.  I have seen it.  I imagine spirits in the Orient and the Dark Continent act differently.  Christian spirits in England and Western Europe act similarly.  Graveyards and crypts hold special meaning.  It is where their bodies are interred in religious rites.  While most are laid to rest there, some spirits remain troubled, having messages for the living.  As for places of evil, it spawns tortured spirits who can know no peace.  Spirits laid to rest in happy places go to their final rest, content to remain in this world no longer.  William Cavendish is not resting well and he cannot do so until he imparts his message for two ladies present."  He paused to watch Anne as he struggled with a gurgle in his throat. "Will you rejoin us?"

There was a moment for others to react as the Count seemed to be fighting a mild seizure.  He reached for a small brown bottle beside him and drained the contents in a quick gulp as if his life depended upon it.  "There is a malevolent spirit here.  He is strong and trying to take control of me.  I need you all seated and joining hands.  Pray silently ladies that I can resist him or can exorcize him quickly.  I sense he comes to mock us."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


The Theatre here was certainly better than any she had been involved with up to now at Court! When Anne-Elizabeth voiced her questions aloud to the Count she was quick to hide a smile by bitting her lips instead as if she was taken aback. Darlene was never one to disappoint as she was quick to try to oust the other Countess and thus, she supposed, remain within the good graces of the Duchess. But that Lady was dissuaded by the Count quietly offering his explanations. She listened to what he was saying and it did hold some merits but when he reached for a brown bottle  ....

he uses a brown bottle much like the one I was given  ..... is it the same size and shape  ..... is he trying to send me a signal of some kind  ......

Her eyes went to the Count narrowing a bit as she began to asses his person and then down to that bottle. It was similar yet she could not swear it but she thinks that perhaps if things become heated she might have a chance to scoop it up without anyone noticing.

There were definitely things afoot here this night.

She looked to her friend to reply to the Count. She would offer a small nod of her own head if the other happened to glance her way as a sign of encouraging her to remain.

Edited by Davina Wellsley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At Darlene’s accusation, Anne-Elisabeth rose so quickly that her chair fell backwards onto the floor with a loud clatter. She was quite surprised, as Lady Oakham had lived in Jamaica and believed in Caribbean charms. It was quite clear that she was trying to impress the Duchess at the Countess’ expense, and that, in her mind, was unforgivable. She could ruin that impression easily by reminding Darlene of their initial conversation, but that little tidbit might come in more useful at a later date, especially if she tried to cause trouble for her.


The Duchess agreed that she should leave the room and insulted her by implying that she was not even human. I should have stuck the crucifix in my bodice. It would have caused less of an outrage and I'm going to be thrown out anyway.


“I don’t need an escort to find the door, thank you very much.” Turning on her heel, she strode toward it.  Anne-Elisabeth had no plans to leave the cellar. It would be much more fun to find a room either above or below and wreak havoc on the ceremony by screaming and banging things around. In fact, she liked that idea better than sticking around with a group of ladies who didn’t want her there. Except for Davina. She would never do anything to hurt her friend, which unfortunately meant that she would not be able to disrupt the séance.


The Countess was halfway to the door when the Count’s words stopped her in her tracks. They needed five people for the ritual. If she left, then Her Grace would lose the chance to find out what her grandfather wanted to say to her (which was probably something to the extent of ‘give the Count your entire fortune or prepare to die.’) And her skepticism might keep the most evil spirits at bay? I’ve got enough of that to blast the spirit world out of existence.


She didn’t expect the Count to answer her question, but as he spoke, she turned back around. His explanation actually made sense. Anne-Elisabeth had always thought that a shade was a shade was a shade and that their religious beliefs made no difference once they were dead. It did seen fitting for restless spirits to hover around the places where they had been laid to rest. Had William Cavendish been buried in these cellars? Or had he lost his life here?


When the Count asked if she would stay, an astounding sense of power flooded through her. Without her, the séance could not go on. At that moment, she could ask Lady Oakham and Lady Albemarle for almost anything and they would give it to her. Yet when she glanced over at Davina, who nodded her encouragement, she knew that she could not leave her at the mercy of the Count and his minions. Since she was a Catholic, they might turn on her too.


Still, she could make the Duchess sweat a bit.


“Oh, I don’t know …” she said in a contemplative tone of voice. “I don’t like to be ridiculed for perfectly logical observations.” Fully aware that the seconds were ticking by, Anne-Elisabeth placed one finger under her chin as if in thought, oblivious of the fact that she was providing the very sort of overdramatic entertainment she had recently condemned. “How do I know that you won’t attack me again?” She glared at the Duchess. “If I had insulted you, you would demand an apology, would you not? Well. I …”


The Count’s words interrupted her and she turned to look at him just as he lifted a small brown bottle to his lips. What’s in it? she wondered. Opium? That might explain his delusions. I’ll see if I can ‘borrow’ it when this is over.


Waiting for the maid to pick up her chair (and assuming she did), Anne-Elisabeth sat back down. She took Davina’s hand but held her other one to her chest. “Witnessing a Caribbean ritual as a young girl does not make me a pagan but just a curious child.  I'm as Anglican as you are.  And because I am a good Christian lady, I want your grandfather to find peace," she told the Duchess, finally offering her hand.  "I would also like an apology,but I am too gracious to demand one."

Edited by Anne-Elisabeth Devereux
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darlene upset at AnneE was nothing to do with any customs, but the ill manners of questioning the practitioner like she did.  While it was in fact perfectly in character for the Countess to behave controversially, Darlene did not know this, and if she had, she'd not have given the invite. 

Tonight was important to Darlene, though perhaps even more so to her friend the Duchess. 

For a moment it seemed that evicting the nay-sayer was on the cards, though Elizabeth suggested Marie do it instead. Darlene nodded, and was grateful, for she did not really want to miss out.  Looks were exchanged between her and Elizabeth, and at least Darlene knew she was not blacklisted also! 

But the Count wanted Anne Elizabeth to remain? "You are so generous," Darlene murmured of his forgiveness, he even provided a reply to the Countess's question.  (Though it was not entirely clear if the other was pacified, for the comment she then made about ridicule, though that was directed at herself.)  Sucking it up, for the Duchesses sake at least, Darlene was grateful for the darkness as she replied, "I apologise then, that my own upbringing that places different requirements of a guest than your own - I ought not have measured you by my own standards." she replied to Anne Elizabeth 

Darlene settled herself back down, and extended her hands once more a circle to create.  It was high drama indeed! 

As the Count revealed more, his reasoning for urgency, Darlene's focus shifted well away from the Jamaican... 'me too?'  And she had a horrid suspicion that she knew what William wanted to say, and that the ominous figure also here, was indeed Thomas, duly angry.  'Merde' .  Fioenzi took a swig of emboldening spirits, and Darlene wished for a sip also.  'Please dont, William, dont tell everyone my secret!' 

She mustered a fake smile, and looked around the gathering.  If revelations were made, between those representatives gathered her reputation could become ruined in every corner of court.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

High drama indeed.  Everyone could feel it in the air, not unlike the electricity dancing in the heavens above the castle at that very moment.  Combined with the draining aspects of the dark and dankness, it was a toxic combat to fray the nerves of each onlooker.

Marie just wanted to leave.  Not only was there terror embroidered into the fabric of this chamber, but she could feel a presence behind her ... in the shadows, and wishing to stay hidden.  She had the irrational fear that it wished to murder her.  When her mistress called upon her to escort the thin lady out of the cellar, she almost rejoiced at the opportunity.  Yet, it was not to be; rather, she was put upon to lift the chair of the Countess and see her safely seated.  After assisting Anne-Elizabeth, the servant paused awaiting an instruction to depart that never came.

 Darlene apologized.  The Duchess did not, despite the Jamaican's suggestion, convinced that Cambray was rude.  It took all her effort to even take her hand again.  It was desperation that drove her to compliance, that and the obvious torment suffered by the Count.  He did not look well at all.

For those taking an interest in the brown bottle, it stood empty.  Yet another small bottle behind it might still have liquid contents.  In this darkness, who might tell, other than the Duchess.

The Count quietly recited the Lord's Prayer as a signal that the seance was beginning.  The words of the prayer were accented, and strained at times, as if the Count were in pain.  "William Cavendish," called the Count.  "Son of Sir Charles Cavendish and Catherine Ogle, grandson of William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick, we call to you.  The pentagram of five is here, including your own blood.  The time draws nigh, and we have your timepiece here to help you find your way from your crypt to this place you knew so well in life.  We know your sleep is troubled and you seek to speak to us as much as we wish to speak to you.  Pay no heed to the other spirits here and make your presence known. Omnibus sacris iubemur adesse.  Horus est, et locus mortis te amplectiter.  Loquere nobis."

All was quiet.  Marie retreated several steps away from the table in fear.  Only the sound of a guttering torch dared break the silence.  Forensi broke contact with the Duchess briefly to collect the Duke's pocket watch in his hand and then rejoined hands with Lady Ablemarle.

The invocation was repeated, in a louder voice.  At the end, the silence was broken by the sound of rodents scurrying  in the nearby darkness.

The invocation was repeated the third time, even louder.  At the end, the flutter of wings could be heard in the darkness above.    Forensi became agitated in his seat as if he was fighting something, and in a moment, a soft voice spoke. It was the not the voice of the Count, though it seemed to radiate from his form, or perhaps the the table itself.  It was the voice of what might have been an old man that had nothing to drink in years.  It was soft like a sigh, having no life to it.  The Count's accent was gone.  This was a voice of a native Englishman.  Whether it was the voice of William or not, one could not say at this point.

"You  ... must ... flee," came the raspy warning, as if it took a huge amount of energy to say these three words. The Count had turned blind eyes towards Elizabeth Monck, as if bidden by an unseen force.

"Grandfather?" Elizabeth queried quietly.

Trying to force words in response, it seemed as though the Count was trying to retch, but could not.  Then his face changed from one of servitude to one of defiance.  "Though I walk through the valley of death ... " the Count choked in his own voice.  His head then flew back violently and then forward, with his forehead striking the table.  A moment passed, followed by a deeper male voice laughing, tinged with the limits of sanity.  

Elizabeth called to their host.  "Count, you must fight!  Bring back my grandfather."  She eyed her silver crucifix, but feeling secure with the amount of silver to shield herself from dark spirits.


OOC~  From now until further notice, I am suspending posting order.  You may post in any order you wish so that things feel more like they are happening in real time.  I will post a response once you three have replied, or after a suitable amount of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was like a tennis match.

Her eyes going between the three other women and then to the Count. Was Anne-Elizabeth actually leaving .........

Then there was an apology - insincere or not made and a resuming of seats and the reconnecting of hands.

The Count seemingly 'refreshed' after drinking whatever had been in that bottle began to saw the Lords Prayer. Calling out in a strained voice for William Cavendish. Then some Latin words that she tried hard to decipher 

holy  ...... horus is ....  death ......  talk to us  .....

It made no sense. She was sure she was not fully understanding all of it but that was due to the place and situation.

A torch gutted startling her and her eyes began to roam about the area away from where they sat then back to the Count.

Her eyes searching and finding the bottle and then she saw another was placed as well. Was he inducing some kind of drug to make him the way he was behaving? it was possible.

He then grew silent and took his hands away to bring out a mans pocket watch then he rejoins this hands. Suddenly a voice came forth but was not the Counts and spoke and looked to the Duchess.

Even Davina who up till now had thought it all play-acting felt a chill down her spine.

Was this actually happening  .....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course the Duchess didn’t apologize. Her toady did it for her. Anne-Elisabeth favored Darlene with a sickeningly sweet smile. “No, you shouldn’t have measured me by your standards, because I would never lower myself that far.”


She had hoped that she and Lady Oakham could become friends but it was more likely that they would be enemies. It was a shame, really. They had gotten along so well when they first met. She now better understood why Davina had stormed away from her that day. Perhaps her friend had dared to ask an innocent question.


It had been the Duchess who had insulted her, not Darlene. She had hesitated before calling her a woman, implying that she considered the young Countess the equivalent of vermin, which was reinforced when she seemed reluctant to take her hand. When she finally did, Anne-Elisabeth dug her long nails into her flesh.


“Thank you for your explanation,” she said to the Count. “It was quite enlightening and I believe I understand the spiritual world a bit better. And also thank you for not confusing a simple inquiry with rudeness.” The man did not look well. He seemed to be fighting something, but whether it was evil spirits or whatever he had just imbibed remained to be seen.


He began the ceremony with the Lord’s Prayer and then called the spirit of Cavendish. Anne-Elisabeth was not proficient in Latin, and the only word she understood was ‘Horus.’ With so much emphasis on Christian spirits, why did the Count call on a pagan god who only existed in ancient Egyptian mythology? With the exception of Davina, she doubted the other ladies were astute enough to figure that out.


When he let go of the Duchess’ hand, she did the same so that she could pull her cloak closer around her. Was it her imagination or was it getting colder in here? When she resumed contact, she only allowed Lady Albemarle to grasp one finger.


Her mind wandered as the Count droned on, louder and louder. Perhaps she could convince Dorset and the Merry Gang to make the Duchess the target of their deprecation next season. Maybe they could hold a mock séance in a public place, claiming that spirits could only be summoned by drinking and fucking. That should show the high and mighty bitch.


Their host now spoke in a different voice, this time with an English accent. Despite her skepticism, Anne-Elisabeth shivered. The voice sounded so empty. It told the Duchess to flee. From me, no doubt. Her sarcasm helped her stay grounded in reality, but it wavered during the next part. It seemed impossible that the Count would be able to throw his head back like that and why would he injure himself by slamming it against the table? A small seed of doubt sprouted in her cynical mind …


… And vanished the moment she heard the maniacal laughter. You almost had me, she thought. Settling back in her chair, she smiled and prepared to enjoy the show, trying to ignore her rapid heartbeat and the chill that had had nothing to do with the cold.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apology was far from accepted, rather Anne Elizabeth insulted!  Darlene was dismayed, righteously angered! But there was no time for a cat fight just now.    Besides, Darlene had ful belief in the fickleness of her fair sex, for instance just a few days ago she and Davina had bickered inconsolably, but were here now holding hands in the middle of a seance.  Anne Elizabeth would come back around again too.

But right now, it was the spirit medium that took all the attention, and she was glad of it too, as he was physically struck by the spirit world.

Darlene shivered with the Lords prayer, which had never before seemed so important nor futile!  Her hands squeezed more tightly upon her friends. fear grew and her heartbeat quickened, it was all she coudl do to mouth the words with him.  

That sigh.  Was it? Yes it was. Surely! William had been there briefly, but now it was some other, and no it was not Thomas at all. 

It was Elizabeth who first shouted her support to Fioenzi, and then Darlene (sycophant or not) joined into that call. "Bring back William!"   she did not even care at that moment that she was rather too familiar with his christian name.  

Her eyes were wide open at that moment, while her head turned this way and that to ensure the others were keeping the protective circle in tact.  It was only at this point she wondered for the Duchesses maid, but the lower classes were a bit like cockroaches, it was surprising what they could survive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did the ladies sense a change in Forensi? Ann-Elizabeth thought it humorous.  Davina was beginning to wonder as to the authenticity of this event, while the other two were more concerned about reaching William Cavendish.  The late Duke of Newcastle was not here in this moment.  In his place another spirit appeared to have usurped Forensi's body.  This was no ordinary spirit, as the participants were about to learn.

If one had never encountered a madman in their life, but could imagine what face he might wear, it would be the face that the Count now wore as he lifted his head from the table.  His eyes were afire with the light of now guttering torches and candles.  His smile was sardonic as rodent feet scurried away.  His head cocked at an uncomfortable angle as his ears seem to revel at the sound of a colony of bats fluttering overhead.

He released the hands of Darlene and Elizabeth, breaking the chain.  "Are you scared ladies?" came a voice that seemed burdened with a pronounced hiss.  "You should be," he warned in a macabre voice.   "Your Count Forensi has lured you to your doom.  He is no Count and is a fool."

His gaze turned towards Lady Cambray.  A self-satisfied smile adorned his face.  "Nor are you a Countess.  You a fraud.  You are all frauds.  His gaze turned to Davina.  "Betrayed your mistress.  Betrayed your brother.  Betrayed your faith.  Three betrayals.  You are no loyal servant.  You are a fraud."  His eyes wandered to Darlene.  "You betrayed your husband three times and you hide behind the fraudulent mask of a proper lady. You are all whores," came the accusation.  His gaze was last upon Elizabeth.  "And you have betrayed them all by summoning me, a soul damned forever."  Before he could say more, Elizabeth picked up her silver crucifix and showed it to him.  "Begone demon!" she commanded.  "Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica. Ergo, omnis legio diabolica, adiuramus te."  The Duchess seemed surprisingly familiar with Latin rites of exorcism.  A glance to Darlene showed that she was nervous.

The spirit laughed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Davina looked to Anne-Elizabeth briefly and then her attention was once again on the Count. He seemed to be undergoing some metamorphous and it was clear that something was happening!

Then 'he' began to speak. Naming them each in turn and proclaiming their sins or so it seemed.

He spoke to her with those eyes directly fixed on hers and as the circle of hands was now broken she let her right hand drop quietly into her lap where it grasped hold of her Rosary nestled in her pocket as a whispered

Splendor of God

was uttered from between lips suddenly gone dry.

Her eyes widened as each 'secret' was being revealed and then the Duchess took up the silver crucifix before her uttering the Latin words for an Exorcism.

Davina had no trouble understanding what it was meant to be and a thought was spared at how the Duchess might be so familiar with that?

She could see that even the haughty Duchess was now showing signs of unease.

Then came the laugh   .......

This was getting out of hand. No longer some coffee-house or stage trick to be laughed at and enjoyed. Why they could easily be in great danger!

She knew that even all five of them together would be no match to try to restrain a man lost in this madness.

Afraid and chilled she knew too that she needed to find some way to protect herself.

All the silver that they were be-decked in would hardly keep them from dying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It went horribly wrong very quickly, or perhaps it had gone wrong since the start but then suddenly was obviously so!  That was not William. There was no protective Thomas nearby. The mask of vile emotion visible on Fiorenzis' face was not his own.

The circle was broken, and slander issued forth, though it was not even untrue, or at least the words he spat at Darlene resounded deeply.  (Later, if there even was a later, she'd consider the words flung at the other ladies.) 

Colour dropped from her face, and while the Duchess began some Latin incantation, Darlene grabbed up the cross before her and shouted, "Who are you, what do you want from us?!"  Holding up her silver cross, willing it to catch the scant light that there was,  she cried out again, "Who are you?!"



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Count definitely didn’t look like himself when he raised his head from the table. Nor did he speak in either of the voices he had used before. He was an excellent actor, she had to give him that much. Yet when he cocked his head at a nearly impossible angle, Anne-Elisabeth couldn’t help but wonder if he really had been possessed by an evil spirit. Was she afraid? If she was, she refused to admit it.


The coldness inside and around her intensified when he looked directly at her. Those malevolent eyes seemed to bore into her very soul. She wasn’t a Countess? Where had that come from? He found fault with the other ladies too. She filed everything he said in her mind for further contemplation at a later date. He’s probably trying to turn us against each other, she thought. He knows that if we stick together, we can defeat him. Now she wondered if the insults she, Darlene, and the Duchess had thrown at each other earlier had been engineered by him too.


Assuming he was really an malicious spirit and not just a very good con man.


Now that the circle was broken, she pulled her finger away from the Duchess but held fast to Davina’s hand. If this was real, maybe her overabundance of silver would protect her too. Anne-Elisabeth wished she had that charm that she had bought in Barbados.


The Duchess started chanting something in Latin that could probably have been summarized in two English words: ‘shove off.’ Darlene grabbed her crucifix and demanded the spirit’s name. She heard Davina whisper something that sounded like a prayer. Anne-Elisabeth didn’t have any faith to rely on. The only weapon she had was her wit. Perhaps the cross would come in handy, though. With her free hand, she picked it up and stuck it down the front of her bodice.  Perhaps what she had done was sacrilegious, but no person or force could knock it out of her hand and wherever she went, it went as well.


“Don’t show any fear, ladies,” she whispered to her companions. “The Count said that is what he feeds on.” Her voice was completely calm. There was no sign of the turmoil roiling within her.


Perhaps if I can h help Lady Oakham distract him, the Duchess' exorcism might work.  And if it doesn't, well ... I have a plan.


Turning to the Count/spirit, her disdainful smile parodied his. “I suppose we can just call you Mister Soul Damned Forever.” Sarcasm dripped from her lips. “Since you had to tell us to be frightened and felt the need to announce how evil you are, that means ...” She leaned forward. “You’re a fraud!”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forensi's body watched Elizabeth attempt an exorcism and did not interfere.  "The damned cannot attempt an exorcism Duchess," he mocked.  "Perhaps you should share your secret with your friend ... Darlene, and she will share her secret with you about your grandfather," he laughed.

Darlene then chose to act with a crucifix, and she grabbed the being's attention.  "Who am I?  I am the monster Forensi seeks.  He has sought me for years, trying to stop me from murdering whores.  Yet, neither of us can stop.  And now I am fortified with a tortured spirit of this place, the Queen's torturer they say, a spirit that knows your mind but knows not the information to leave this place."  At that moment it seemed that Forensi seemed at war with himself, triggered by the mock.

Anne-Elizabeth decided to taunt the spirit, which had predictable results.  It drew the attention of the monster that was struggling with itself.  "And what shall we call you?" it hissed.  "We cannot call you Cambray.  Shall we call you by your assumed name?  Perhaps you would like to share your secret with Darlene and Elizabeth, the only Elizabeth here."  Anne could feel the eyes of the monster trying to probe her, as if trying to read her mind, and struggling to do so.

Forenzi took to his feet quickly, looking at Anne.  "I think I shall kill you first, then the sometimes Catholic girl."  His eyes swiveled to Davina briefly.  "Then I will kill the Duchesses friend in front of her, leaving the Duchess to blame for all your deaths."  He looked to Darlene briefly "Your William and your Thomas are too far away to help you here."

Marie screamed.  She had seen enough.  The monster would kill her too, but she was closer to the exit and might make it while the monster was busy with the ladies.  Her scream briefly distracted the monster, but it activated another.  The shadows behind her did not cloak Marie's potential killer, but another.

Into the chamber strode a man in a Life Guard uniform.  He held a charged pistol in his hand and it was pointed at Forensi.  Elizabeth would recognize him as her husband's new adjutant.  He had been sent to keep an eye on Forensi and the Duchess.  "Alright then Forensi," he commanded, "stand where you are. Ladies, if you would be kind enough to withdraw."  In typical English genteel fashion, the soldier showed no fear.

The monster was outraged, the ladies forgotten in the moment.  It charged the Life Guard officer.

A shot rang out ... .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Davina's reaction was instinctive.

She gripped her friend's hand tighter as she quickly went to the others' side attempting to draw her into a half circle. What that could ever do did not matter.

come at us then  ..... think you that we are as defenseless as we appear .....  do you imagine that I would not have let my whereabouts be know and to whom I was in Company with  ..... added to that I am fully aware that I have been and continue to be 'watched'  ..... I am never alone  .....

She hissed back at the Count.

Bold words that were all a bluff. Well except for that last part - they were the only Truth.

She whispered some words to Anne-Elizabeth and made to push her a bit behind her own person. It was then that the servant girl screamed and attention was drawn away.

It was an advantage she used and half dragged Anne-Elizabeth and herself further back from the table aiming for a shadowy spot.

But then something happen that changed EVERYTHING

There appeared a Life Guard in full uniform armed with a pistol. She did not recognize him and could only stare at him as if he were some Jade appearing from out of no where.

He then spoke towards the Count then to them collectively asking them to leave.

Her gaze went to the Duchess and then to Darlene both were still at the table and she knew she could do nothing for them.

Her heart felt like it would burst from her chest and she was unsure of what to do. The Count then charged at the Life Guard.

A shot was fired  ..... A scream echoed ..... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darlene was fully present - there was no part of her that doubted, the spirit possessing the Count's tortured form had proved itself.  The spirit might have been rejected from the bowels of hell, along with the ghost of a Torturer, but the vile words it spat were sharpened with truth. 

"Release Fionezi, be he a Count or a common man, he has breath to redeem himself in the Lord's eyes," Darlene shouted, thrusting her cross closer to the spirit-ravaged man.  

It became too much for the Duchesses, who screamed and ran, at which moment another form loomed forth.  Darlene usually loved the sight of a man in uniform, there was even a spot on the bleachers overlooking the practice ground that was worn smooth from the regular positioning of her derriere.   

But this man in uniform pointed his pistol at poor Fiorenzi!  

"Noo!" she had not chance to see with Elizabeth was doing, as she shouted and pushed the demon-possessed body into the shadows, "He is our friend!"   


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anne-Elisabeth wasn’t surprised that the ‘spirit’ didn’t give his name. Either the Count had not named his spirit persona or the demon was real and knowing his name would give one power over him. She wondered if she could trick him into telling her what he was called.


She expected that he would taunt her right back and rolled her eyes and yawned at his accusations. The deranged look in his eyes unnerved her but she refused to avert her gaze. She felt as though he was attempting to see into her mind. Instead of trying to think of nothing at all, she thought of swiving in graphic detail with an imaginary gentleman. That should make his head spin,she smirked to herself.


When he stood and claimed that he would kill her first, Anne-Elisabeth rose as well, but before she could retort, Davina wrapped her arms around her and defied the spirit herself. She refused to let her friend shield her with her own body, but still held tight to her while Darlene demanded that he release Fiorenzi.


If indeed the Count was possessed, the ghoul had probably counted on the ladies cowering in fear instead of fighting back. There were five of them (counting the Duchess’ maidservant) and only one of him. If they all worked together, she believed that they could overpower him without killing his vessel.


The servant’s scream echoed eerily through the cellar and Davina pulled Anne-Elisabeth into the shadows. Her eyes widened when an armed Life Guard strode in, demanding that they leave. After that, everything seemed to happen at once. The 'spirit' lunged at the soldier, Darlene tried to push the Count away, and a shot pierced the air.


For the first time all evening, Anne-Elisabeth was speechless.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Names have power, as Anne-Elizabeth imagined.  She did not know the name of the spirit and it seemed to believe that her name was false and was seeking to learn her true name.  It would be a battle that would be interrupted.

Elizabeth Monck shouted at the demon to leave, and called to Forenzi to fight the monster within him.  She was easily ignored and pushed aside as the monster sought to challenge the Life Guard.  "Do not kill him Thompson," the Duchess begged her husband's aide, mirroring the thoughts of her best friend.  The Count was the best link she had to the spirit world.

The shot missed, whether it was because of the entreaty of the ladies, the push by Darlene, or just bad luck.  Forenzi was slowed by Darlene briefly but he was able to push her back with unnatural strength.  The soldier was pulling his rapier and he represented the greatest threat to Forenzi's body.  As such, the monster closed on the soldier before he could deploy his sword for battle.  A melee began as the monster seemed unnaturally strong and was successfully putting his hands on Thompson's throat.  The man gurgled.  The ladies were forgotten in that moment.

Marie shrieked and fled, crying for help as she moved towards the surface.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites


She whispered to Anne Elizabeth.

"We must use this time to escape  ..... while we have the advantage!"

"Tis clear that things here are about to take a turn that neither of us should witness."

"We can not interfere in this. We must leave. Now."

She set her eyes upon the figures that now were locked in a strange tangled dance.

"Please  .... do not think to imagine that you are a MAN and can make any difference  ...... time to flee  ..."

She made to start just that gathering up her skirts in one hand as she looked back over her shoulder at her companion.

"Hurry! Every second we wait is time lost! That silly maid is to hysterical-bound to think to seek out aid so we must do that!"

"A quick dash to that archway is the tunnel and the way back out  ....."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The battle between the Life Guard, the Count, and Lady Oakham raged on. As tempting as it was to join the fray with fists flying, Anne-Elisabeth had no real reason to do so. She cared nothing for any of the combatants. Nor did she feel sympathy for the soldier, since he worked for the entitled bitch who just sat there and expected him and her sycophant to fight her battles for her. The young Countess was no coward, but she was not a hero either, and Davina’s advice appealed to her finely-honed sense of self-preservation.


“Yes, let’s go,” she agreed. “Nothing good is going to come of this, and we will be more assistance if we go for help than if we stay.”


Gathering up her own skirts, Anne-Elisabeth caught up with her friend and headed quickly to the entrance … or more appropriately, the exit ... fully intending to step out into the tunnels that would take them back to the safety of the palace above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...