Going underground, going underground Well let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrowA slightly out of breath Ralph rushes back into the study "I've found" he takes a gulp of air and tries again "I've found..a way out" the others look at him with some relief "Thank the Lord we've seen more and more men these last few minutes" the Doctor quickly begins gathering up his equipment and continues "I don't suppose you found Lord Mallebench down there as well perchance?" Ralph shakes his head "No, the basement was pretty bare to be honest the way out is through a disused well, it looks like it connects with a series of tunnels below" Giulio suddenly cries out "Ti vedo diavolo" and discharges his pistol at some unseen target he turns and looks at the others and with a crooked grin tells the them "I think our friends grow bored, if we go we need to go now I think" The Doctor pulls Lysette of the chair and roughly pulls down her gag "You said Mallebench was down below? but my cousin tells us that the basement is empty so where the bloody hell is he?" she twists in his grip but answers him, her eyes burning pure hate "I told you the Lord is below he mourns for his lost son" the Doctor shakes her "Enough woman, did you not hear what I just said the basement is empty, he is not there." she laughs "I never said he was in the basement, I just said he was below, never said anything about how deep now did I" the Doctor thrusts her back into the seat cursing. Giulio fires off another shot then grabs his gear and heads back into the main part of the room "I can see twelve men out there now all armed with muskets and the lord knows what else and yet more are coming. We can make them pay dearly if they storm this house but we are not set up to withstand a siege" Ralph grabs Lysette and makes his decision as he jogs out towards the basement, the others follow whilst Giulio and the Doctor reach for their tinderboxes and with slightly evil grins they nod to each other and start to set fire to the drapes and the other soft furnishings. Once they have a few small fires going they rush off after the others, smoke already starting to billow up behind them.Ralph having reached the well drops Lysette onto the floor and starts to clamber down he soon reaches the dry bottom and seeing no immediate danger in the gloom kneels down and gets a lantern out of his pack. The lit lantern reveals more of the tunnels, he seems to have come down in the middle of a narrow but fairly high ceilinged tunnel faced with cut stone, the high vaulted ceiling almost lost in the darkness above. Looking around he notices that the tunnel seems abandoned the floor covered in deep dust whilst above unbroken cobwebs fill the void thickly "Strange" muses Ralph "I would have thought to see more signs of use if what Lysette tells us is true" but his train of thought is broken with a shout of "Catch" from Wilhelm and as he looks up he sees the lithe form of Lysette falling towards him he moves quickly and is just able to catch her she lands in his arms with a who-mph of expelled air and a pure look of anger on her face. Ralph looks down at her and smiles "I don't know why you are angry Miss I caught you didn't I?" she squirms and as he places her on the floor she manages to lash out with her foot catching Ralph on the shin "Ow" he wags one meaty finger in front of her "Enough of that young lady" then he grabs her before she can get any more funny ideas and slings her over his shoulder muttering something about how there is no pleasing some people. By the time he has got himself shorted the others have managed to make their way down into the tunnels alongside him. The Doctor struggling a bit with all his kit especially when his jack box got momentarily wedged and he couldn't get it free enough to finish climbing down. Luckily for him, Giulio was above and was happy to lend a helpful if heavy foot. With the Party finally all gathered at the bottom of the well Lysette was questioned again but it seems that she had never been down here before "These are the Master's domains, we are not allowed to tread here" this reply was met with much cursing from various members of the Party. The Doctor shrugs and steps into the middle of the tunnel looks around and licking his finger sticks it out and waits his eyes closed. After an awkward pause his eyes suddenly open and he points to the left "This way gentleman, I think I can feel the faintest of breezes coming from this direction so let's get some more light and then let's get going" he pulls open his pack rummages around before pulling out a huge candle. He lights it and then removes his helmet and somewhat awkwardly drips some of the now melted wax onto the top of the brim of the helmet and then sticks the candle on top of it. Grinning as he turns to the others and gives a slight bow "See hands free" Ralph punches him lightly in the shoulder and tells him to stop mucking about and get on with it.They head down the narrow corridor and at first easily avoid the cobwebs but further on they thicken and fill more and more of the tunnel and the Party soon have to start pushing their way through. Ralph's going is made slightly easier as he uses the slung Lysette's backside as a plough. With her being slightly higher she is the first to start screaming (If somewhat muffled) she had been wriggling for a while but Ralph had just ignored her and so had just continued to plough his way through the webs but with her screaming, he had finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. The others are forced to stack up behind him unable to pass his bulk the Doctor ahead at first unaware of whats going on continues for a few further steps until he too stops and now like the rest begins to scratch himself and brush at his clothes. As soon as Lysettes feet touch the ground she spins around revealing her back and in the dim light it shimmers and moves darkly somehow whilst reflecting the light back. "What the Feck?" and then he and the others start to cry out in shocked pain as something or somethings begin to bite. Thomas bringing up the rear is the first to realise whats happening as he sees thousands of small black hairy bodies pour out of the ceiling above and down the webs onto the Party beneath. He to starts to feel the sharp pain of hundreds of tiny fangs biting into his flesh his armour useless against the tiny horde. The others are now screaming as the hundreds become thousands and the thousands become millions. The Party flail around desperately some of them smashing themselves into the walls of the corridor trying desperately to crush the tiny arachnids Wilhelm wiping spiders off his face cries "RUN" and shoves Ralph hard in the back Ralph staggers forward but gets moving soon hitting the Doctor and pushing him forward the others staggering closely behind still beating at themselves trying to brush off the spiders. Thomas grabs the now fully covered Lysette and drags her after him. They run barreling their way through the webs, trying to keep their eyes free of the tiny bodies at least long enough to keep a rough idea on their general direction. They finally find themselves clear of the cobwebs and in a large stone chamber they all immediately start to strip wrenching at armour, ripping away at clothes with a crazed desperation, trying to get at the biting spiders beneath. There follows a period of splashing water, frenzied brushing and beating and rolling around on the floor and a lot of very ungodly cursing. Finally, the spiders are removed or killed, clothes double checked and then gingerly put on again and everybody is bleeding from all the tiny bite marks that redly cover their bodies. The Doctor begins treating the bites with Apple cider which soon soothes the pain but Lysette is a problem she has suffered terribly and being tied up had been unable to keep the spiders away from her face all this had unnerved her somewhat and she seemed now as a child unable to talk, unable to think even to react to the outside world. After cleaning themselves up they looked around the room they now found themselves in, it was a large stone chamber with a stone floor. Thankfully it was clear of cobwebs but it was dominated by a large black statue of a faceless figure sat upon a huge forbidding throne as the slightly embarrassed Party grumbled their way towards it more details could be made out. Flanking the statue were two doors each locked closed, one by a stout door whilst the other was secured by an iron portcullis. Giulio headed towards the statue along with Wilhelm and Thomas, Ralph headed over to check out the doors and the Doctor? well, he remained with Lysette and tried to coax some life back into her.Ralph examined the two doors, they were extremely well made the door was of heavy and thick oak with iron bands further strengthening the door. The lock itself was again a heavy solid piece and proved resistant to picking. Ralph took a couple of swings against the door with one of his hatchets but only managed to knock off a couple of splinters. Rolling his shoulder he tries again but still the door remains solidly closed. Giulio and the others tried to read the inscription at the base of the statue but apart from figuring out it was Arabic in nature could make out little else so they joined Ralph in trying to get the doors open. There was a lot of prying, hammering and general nonsense but they to had to admit defeat as neither door showed signs of budging. Giulio had remained at the statue he admired the craftsmanship if not the slightly sinister subject matter he stroked his hand along one dusty flank of the statue and turned to Lysette "I came here looking to create such things as this, tell me where did it come from?" Lysette tells him the little she knows that Mallebench Snr brought it back from the crusades amongst other treasures and he had it installed down here years ago. She also tells him of rumours that people used to arrive at the hall and descend into these tunnels to worship in front of the faceless statue. The others overhearing this cast worried glances at each other. Giulio leaves the bound Lysette looking up at the faceless statue and takes off the leather glove that covered up his metallic hand and begins flexing it. He tries to crush and mangle some of the bars off the portcullis and though he manages to twist and crack a couple of the spars he is unable to fully tear one off and so with a string of curse words he shrugs and gives up.The somewhat deflated Party eventually decide that there was nothing else to do but to go back into the cobweb infested tunnels and find another way through. Sealing themselves up as best they could with scarf, handkerchiefs and odd bits of spare clothing they take a deep breath and rush out again.Luckily the tunnel splits again fairly soon and this new passageway is wonderfully clear of the small biting pests, In fact this new passageway is oddly clean and tidy it leads off towards another T junction they pause here checking the oil levels in their lanterns, adjusting and replacing clothing and checking that the wheel locks are still fully wound and loaded and grab a quick drink of tepid water from their water bottles. Suddenly Ralph freezes a strange look on his hideous face he raises a hand and the Party falls silent and now they too can hear it, a strange distant grinding noise that seemed to bring to mind the deep ocean. Ralph turns sharply and walks roughly twenty paces down the passage that the noise seems to be coming from, he then places his lantern down and slowly backs up pulling out his hatchets and rolling his shoulders "The rest of you head the other way this is mine to deal with" the Party are confused and try to get him to come with them but he refuses, saying something about this is personal. Thomas draws his sabre and stands next to him "Mon ami, je me tiendrai avec vous savez que l'on devrait faire face à l'obscurité seule" Ralph is about to say something but changes his mind and instead claps the Frenchman on the should "No idea what you said but I'm guessing something about garlic and women, but whatever thank you" the others say their goodbyes and hope to meet back up again in the not so distant future and then the Party splits.Giulio, the Doctor, and Wilhelm's head off leaving Ralph, Lysette and Thomas behind they soon lose sight of them as the passageway twists to the left the last thing they see is Thomas crouched down and talking to Lysette whilst Ralph just stood there front and center, his hatchets gleaming darkly in the fading lantern light.The others followed the central passageway avoiding any of the other tunnels that branched off. The Doctor who looked a little worried stopped every so often and left a scratch mark on the stone floor a little arrow pointing him to what he hoped was safety. Their journey ended abruptly at a rotting wooden door Giulio tries to push the door open but something behind it is making it hard work, he steps back and kicks the door open, something drags across the top of the door before it swings down again straight towards Guilio. The Italian barely sidesteps the object as it whistles past his shocked face, the Party steps back away from the now open doorway and waits for the object to stop swinging. Guilio reaches out and grabs the slowly spinning object. there is a sharp intake of breath from everyone as the object is that of a mummified man, his skin dried out and blacken with age he is hanging upside down from a rusty chain his arms and legs tightly bound behind him in a stress position. His face twisted and contorted from the effects of his torture. The Doctor comes up behind Giulio and gives it a brief look "Gadzook's what the... this poor wretch has been tortured and then had his throat cut" he shudders "Truly this is the devils work" the others recover from their initial shock and with lanterns held high they enter the what the Doctor later referred to as the Pantry.The room had an oily darkness which slowly oozed away from the suddenly feeble lantern light the room was full of sighing chains each one had a similar body suspended from it. The Italian made a low whistling noise as he panned his lantern around "There must be fifty bodies in here" The Doctors eye gleams oddly in the faint light "Its terrible but what information lies looked up within these bodies I wonder?" he starts to examine the next nearest body "These could have been down here for years all tortured and all killed in the same manner" Wilhelm asks Giulio to pan back again as he thinks he has seen a table in the middle of the room and a doorway beyond Giulio does as asked and in the faint light the shape of a table and the deeper shadows of a doorway can just be made out. Wilhelm performs a little bow and gestures the others in "After you, Mein Herr's" Giulio sighs and grabbing the Doctor drags him inside.They gingerly push past the hanging horrors their dry leathery skin feeling oddly gooey even though when the Doctor taps them they ring hollow but firm. They reach the table which is just a rustic wooden table heavily marked with numerous deep gouges, there was a large clay jug upon its surface. The others gave it a brief glance but hurried past making for the exit but the Doctor paused and lifting the jug up gave it an experimental swirl. He hears liquid faintly sloshing around inside so decides to take a look he fully expected to find it full of blood but was surprised to find that the jug was not full of blood but instead a sharp smelling yellowish liquid in which several orbs which had strange ganglia trailing from them. He peered closer the sharp smell biting his nostrils even with his handkerchief across his face. "Well, well, well what do we have here" and as if answering him one of the orbs opened revealing a beautiful blue eye, it blinks and the Doctor drops the jug in shock his hands suddenly numb and shaking. He tries to grab the jug as it falls but he can't get a grip on it. The Jug hits the stone floor and shatters into a thousand pieces. The Doctor steps back a sheepish look on his face "Sorry, my fault..." he's cut off as he starts to cough a huge hacking cough that threatens to dislocate his jaw he looks down and sees that the liquid has burnt into the stone as if it was Aqua Regia "Feck!" he cries before coughing saliva begins to form and drool down from his open mouth he staggers after the others who had paused to see what all the noise was about and were now also starting to cough. Wilhelm looked quizzically at the floundering Doctor but Giulio just shoved him through the door and reaching out grabbing the Doctor again half throws half drags him through into the new passageway beyond where they all end up in a wheezing heap. Wilhelm recovers first and seeing that the gas is still roiling towards them as if possessed by some malignant intelligence slams the door shut with his boot before dragging up the other two and yelling RUN!They run through several chambers empty apart from the dust of ages in one chamber they clatter through piles of bones and rusted armour and weapons. This slowed them down somewhat as they had to carefully make their way through the jagged metal whilst trying to remain uncut and quiet. Making their way through they find themselves in a thankfully armour free room this chamber was time-worn and had a strong musty smell of decay and damp the room had large statues of Owls placed around its circumference though all seemed to be fairly crude and all of them had been badly affected by the passage of time and dripping water. A skeleton clothed in ragged remains of clothing lay sprawled as in prayer in front of a low stone altar which was placed in front of the chamber's exit, it was discovered that the skeleton seemed to have six fingers. The rooms number of statues also seemed to change after each counting even after they marked them with chalk the numbers seemed to change neither Cl.U.B'er could agree on the final number one saying seven whilst the other was sure it was eight. The Doctor shrugs and just writes it off as unimportant he was tired and hurt, he stepped past the altar and the skeleton and headed into the room beyond leaving the Witch hunter behind still counting.The Doctor found himself in a smaller room which only seemed to have a couple of paintings in it. One painting was of a young child with an adult whilst the other just showed an older man. The paintings seemed to be in the style of a few generations past. The Doctor only glanced at the paintings but when Wilhelm finally gave up in the owl room and caught up with him he seemed to find the paintings oddly mesmeric. He reached out and traced the images with his gloved finger he was shocked out of his almost trance state by the Doctors yell "Your hair it's.......bloody changed! how in the blasted halls did that happen?" Willhelm looked slightly shocked "What are you talking about you fool?" he does pull a few strands of hair from his beard "See it's the same.....oh feck I'm blonde?" the two men suddenly cover their eyes and rush out towards the exit the Doctor cracking his side against the door frame in his haste to leave.They pound down dusty corridors first one way and then another till they have to stop at a crossroads, lost and with their lantern dying there is just time for a lot of panted shouting and then with a final guttering hiss darkness.............Their eyes quickly adjusting to the darkness realise that it's not as dark as it should be in fact far from the all-encompassing dark of the depths there is, in fact, a faint glow coming from further down the tunnel to the east and with no other real option they slowly make their way towards this faint light. They end up in front of a set of double doors and beyond them is the source of light. The doors are outlined in a wonderful pure light which flows out from the edges like a beacon welcoming lost seafarers home. Wilhelm adjusts his pistol and placing a gauntleted hand onto the handle begins to push it down he stops and whispers "Doctor, don't touch anything" and before the Doctor can reply he finishes pushing the handle down and the door swings open.