A continuation of the good Doctor's narrative of the C.l U.B. ers exploits in Holbeach St. Marks;
The last house at the end of the world The CL.U.Ber's are spread throughout Saracenic hall the ancestral home of the Mallebench family looking for clues to help flesh out their picture of their arch villain Constantine Mallebench. The Norton s are in the kitchen, Thomas was up at the top of the stairs but had decided it was safer to return to the kitchen and to hang back with Giulio whilst Wilhelm remained in the hallway checking out the furnishings.
Suddenly there comes a tremendous banging from the back door, Ralph being close waves the Doctor back and heads towards the door his hands resting on his hatchets hanging from his belt. He pauses just by the door one hand outstretched to remove the spoons used to wedge it shut he turns to look back in time to see the others return, then he starts to pull the spoons out and the fall making a tinkling sound as they hit the kitchens stone floor.
From the other side of the door a mans voice can be heard along with the thumping of fist against wood "Why is this blasted door locked? you best not be sleeping in there woman, if you are it'll be the birch again" Ralph calls back pretending to be Irish and replies "Sorry Sir, it's the frame its all warped" he removes the last spoon and stands aside and bangs a fist against the frame "Ah that has it, try it now sir it should open now as smoothly as landlords rent book" the door flies open and the over dressed man from the Vagrant cat saunters in. The CL.U.Ber's knew him to be Tom Carter bully and seller of pig skin. He starts to shout asking why the Irishman is in the house but before he can get too carried away he is grabbed and slammed into the wall by Ralph, who then grabs the now shocked and spluttering Tom by his throat and then drags him upwards against the wall. Ralph leans forwards his scared face giving him a demonic aspect "Remember me" he then slabs Tom back into the wall causing the man to cry out in pain but he's not out for the count yet and his desperately flaying hand grabs onto a wooden handle of a knife. Ralph with his face still pressed close snarls "We want some answers and you I think will be giving them... unless you want to hear the sound of your neck breaking?" he eases up on the pressure on Toms throat, Tom gulps down some much needed air, spits in Ralph's eye's and shouts "Feck you" whilst thrusting forward with the small knife it's sharp blade easily cuts into Ralph's ponderous gut.
The others started to move, the Doctor grabbing his sword and heading to the doorway which led into the hall fearful that the commotion will have alerted anyone else in the house. Giulio moved up to back up Ralph and to close the back door whilst the other two headed to where they thought they were most needed. Giulio struggled past the fighting figures of Ralph and Tom and believing that the man mountain had everything well in hand decided that securing the door would be wisest move before anyone else decided to turn up and so he wedged it closed again.
He only just avoided being smacked by Tom's flying legs as Ralph swung the man around like a toy and slammed him again and again into the wall, this time hard enough to shatter a cupboard which spilled out a cascade of pewter plates and jars which bounced around on the floor and added to the general din. Giulio looking up at Ralph stills the curse he was about to utter as he sees the blood pouring out of Ralph from the constant frenzied stabs of the knife. Quickly he stands up and with perfect timing launches his metal hand past Ralph's head and straight into Tom's screaming face, teeth fly out and blood gout's from a now pulped nose Tom gives one last gargled cry of Sam before his eyes cross and he goes limp. Ralph stops slamming the now inert body of Tom into the wall and drops him onto the floor he looks at him then at the numerous wounds to his gut and turning to Giulio just mutters "bugger" then shouts for his cousin.
The good Doctor had been nervously guarding the doorway that led from the servants room into the hallway and the main body of the building beyond and had been casting increasingly worried glances back towards the kitchen as the noise levels got higher and higher but hearing his cousins cry he gave the dark hallway one last look, slowly closed the door and hurried back into the kitchen his hands already reaching for the big needle and catgut sutures.
The Doctor finds the kitchen wrecked, Giulio peering through the windows nervously, a body on the floor and Ralph holding an already bloody rag to his side. Explanations are given and wounds stitched the Doctor complaining about how Ralph is using up all of his stock and asking him if he knew how much prime cat gut cost, Ralph bore all this with some stoicism. In all the hub bub no one was aware that Tom had regained consciousness and was slowly oh so slowly crawling towards the servants quarters he would have gotten further had he not tried to stagger upright as this caused him naturally no small effort and pain so when he went to wipe his face clear of the blood and sweat he discovered that pepper and a smashed face did not go well, he seemed as he had crawled through some pepper that had come from a smashed jar on his way to the door. His screams alerted the CL.U.Ber's to his presence, Ralph pushed the Doctor aside and launched himself at the startled man yelling "You bastard this is my favourite shirt" his meaty fist smashing into Tom's much abused face again sending him flying back into the servants room the badly injured man begins to scream gurgling for Sam. Ralph staggers back the wound on his side flaring with pain he ends up sat on a stool which was behind him and decides to stay there just to catch his breath you understand. The others rush past and begin to hack away at Tom who recovering slightly had started to crawl towards the chest of ladies clothing all the while spitting blood and crying out for Sam and now Lysette. Numerous blows strike his unprotected back as Giulio and the Doctor reign down on him but still he crawls forwards his hand reaching for something. Blood is now flying up from the strikes as the gore slicked blades rise up and then down again the walls are soon covered in this red spray the Doctor then starts screaming "Why won't you die?, why won't you just die?" over and over and Giulio just quietly keeps hacking down with his glaive a thoughtful look on his otherwise emotionless face. Eventually one of the blades hits something vital and with a final gasp Tom Carter breathes his last. The Doctor collapses onto one of the cots and starts to calm down whilst Giulio still looking thoughtful returns to the chest and starts to pull out the women's clothing within. One of the dresses makes a thudding noise as it lands on the floor and Giulio picks it back up and starts to pat it down. He finds what Tom was looking for in those last desperate minutes a small Wheel lock pistol is nestled in the attached apron, Giulio checks it and finding it loaded and ready to fire weighs it thoughtfully in his hand then with a dismissive grunt passes it onto the Doctor "I think you need this more than me" the Doctor red eyed takes the gun and with a muted thank you thrusts it the sash at his waist. He then shakes his head blows his nose on Toms shirt sleeve and gets back up "Better check on Ralph, I'm betting he's ripped his stitches open again" with that the pair of them head back into the kitchen.
They find Ralph still sat on the stool another rag pressed to his side and with a slightly apologetic smile on his face (Though with all his facial scar tissue it was sometimes hard to see that he was smiling) the Doctor sighed and got to work again whilst Giulio filled Ralph in. He thrust his fleshy hand into a pocket and pulled out three small dried beans "Oh I almost forgot the Bastardo didn't have any money on him but he had these" he hands them over to Ralph who looks at them and looks at the Italian "Don't suppose you found a goose as well by any chance? the Italian smiles and shakes his head sadly " No just these and some keys I'm afraid. "In that case" Ralph replies before tipping the beans into his jigsaw mouth and swallowing. The Party still hear and see nothing so quickly tidy up as best they can, items broken in the fight are swept under the table, Tom's body is shoved and bended into the chest which barely closes and blood is mopped up with a wet rag. If someone does come looking for Tom they won't be fooled for long but hopefully for long enough to buy the CL.U.Ber's some extra space and Ralph looks around for a new shirt but is only able to find ladies clothing in the servants room and after an odd pause decides that the low cut red and black lacy number really wasn't going to work what with his skin tone and so he shoves it back into the same chest that is now somewhat full of Tom. The Party head back into the main hallway again feeling a lot more confident that the big house must be empty, the rooms on the ground floor which Wilhelm opened up are checked again by the others and questions were asked about the reasons behind the turned around painting they speculated about the missing painting as well could this lighter space once been covered by the False Chanterelle? Ralph got bored with looking at empty shelves and remembered that Thomas and Wilhelm had mentioned something about singing coming from upstairs so leaving the others he headed up the impressive but slightly dusty staircase. He could hear the others wondering about the drawn heavy curtains and drapes and why everything was so gloomy inside the hall had it truly been abandoned for the cottages behind?
Reaching the landing he paused to listen but was unable to hear anything including any singing so he crosses over and seeing the closest door ajar quickly pushes into the room only to find it empty apart from some heavy bedroom furniture he sighs "Its never bloody easy" then heads to the next door but finding it locked quickly moves onto the next and then the next finding all the other doors locked apart from that first one. Standing outside that last locked door he shrugs his massive shoulders and taking a step back he shoulders the door open crashing through into the room beyond. Quickly regaining his balance he is slightly shocked to see the rooms contents loom out of the gloomy dust mote filled room. The room seemed to be a trophy room of sorts as it was filled with animals and parts of animals, the walls were covered in the heads of stags and boars, hunting bows and spears were propped up in the corners whilst in the centre of the room stood a huge bear rearing up, jaws wide open exposing huge dagger like teeth giving vent to one last terrifying silent roar. Breathing heavily Ralph gives the room one last look muttering about the strangeness of rich folk before heading out and back into the corridor, he tries to close the door behind him but it now no longer closes fully. He starts to bang loudly on the doors as he heads back towards the staircase crying out in a passable Irish accent "It's me open up" he kicks each door in and glances briefly into the rooms all appear to be bedrooms in various states of tidiness. He reaches the second from last door and as he smashes the door in he hears a squeal and shrugging off the broken door frame he looks up to see a beautiful young woman looking at him her red hair blazing in the unexpected sunlight. Ralph squints is this an Angel he wonders Black Philip had told him of these wondrous creatures but with his eyes adjusting to the light he soon realises that whilst stunning this is no Angel she flesh and blood just like him what gives her away is that no Angel would use language like that or hit that hard.
The lady has recovered quickly she may have been hiding originally but now she was all guns blazing, imperiously asking Ralph "What is the meaning of this? you Irish are meant to stay out of the main house unless escorted by my step father or my brothers." she barely pauses for breath before slapping Ralph across his hideous grinning face "And don't leer at me in that way" she blushes slightly "You may have a big.........pair of hands but that doesn't give you the right to leer, now what are you doing here and answer me truthfully or I will tell my step father" Ralph steps back away from this whirlwind of a woman and in his new found Irish brogue explains that Joshua told him to warn the household that there were some intruders on the property and that she needs to stay inside until they are caught" she peers oddly at him but nods and goes to grab a wicker basket full of laundry.
Meanwhile downstairs the others have finished checking the rooms and hallway and apart from the odd painting, some rusty armour and a small armoury of dull weaponry hanging down from a variety of hooks in the walls nothing satanic or information gap filling is discovered. Though there are still some doors to check across the hall. The Doctor is wondering if pulling the drapes open would be a good idea as the gloom is starting to wear on his nerves, Giulio has moved aside a corner of the drape that is covering one of the front windows whilst Wilhelm and Thomas are checking that the front door is closed. Giulio leans forwards then quickly jumps back letting the drape swing back into place "Cazzo! gentleman we are about to have company!" the Doctor almost jumps out of his skin and rushes towards the Italian asking a million questions at once "Who, What, How many and do you think they know we are here?" Giulio shrugs "Sam and a few hired hands by the looks of them , five or six and yes they are armed and yes they look pissed so I'm guessing they know" he pulls the drape away from the window and then smashes a pane out using his metal fist he then slides his musket through and takes careful aim and fires. The room fills with smoke and the smell of bad eggs but it soon clears and it seems that Giulio keeps his reputation for being a crack shot as one of the men can be seen falling backwards with a large grey red cloud forming behind his backwards thrust head. The other men cry out and scatter, some dropping behind a low stone wall whilst the others rush back towards one of the unruly hedges. Giulio thrusts his spent musket into the Doctors shaking hands and curtly tells him to reload it he then pulls out his pistols and quickly checking them he places the pistols onto the window sill one by one, ready to be quickly grabbed when the time came. The Doctor seeing this pulls out his pistol and the one that Tom was trying to get and with a nudge hands them over to the Italian telling him that he would make better use of them than he would. Ramming down the ball he whispers "shit" and still ramming the charge down steps towards the rooms door he then cries up "Ralph! hurry up and find that bloody woman we have company"
The lady pauses " What was that? it sounded like a musket shot" she slows down suddenly unsure "What was your name again?" she asks, Ralph looks a little lost his eyes darting around but without missing a beat replies "Why its Murphy Miss, Jay Murphy at your service, that must be the boys. I told you there were intruders did I not" she smiles and begins walking towards Ralph again "Oh silly me you did I was just a little frightened" this lovely moment is ruined somewhat when from the floor below a very English voice cries out "Ralph! hurry up and find that bloody woman we have company" The shocked lady turns to run further into the room and she seems to be trying to head for the window but shrugging Ralph throws out one meaty arm and with a load thud punches her in the side of the head dropping her to the floor. Sighing he grabs her and throws her over his shoulder and turning around he starts to jog back, slightly ashamed of himself he finds he rather enjoys the feeling of carrying the lady whilst jogging down the stairs.
When he reaches the study he carefully deposits the lady onto one of the chairs and pulling out his hatchet heads towards Giulio who has a pistol out and is carefully aiming it towards something behind the wall outside. The Doctor finishes off reloading the musket and taps the Italian to let him know it's ready, the Italian replaces the pistol and strokes the side of the musket before pushing it through the broken window and again carefully aims. Ralph asks the Doctor what the situation is and so the Doctor quickly fill him in. The Doctor then asks about the lady and afterwards he nods and stands close behind Giulio and cups his hands together Ralph guessing what's about to happen goes over and shakes the lady back into consciousness. The Doctor calls out loudly "Hello do I have the pleasure of addressing Sam Carter?" a deep baritone voice responds from behind the hedge "Yes I'm Sam Carter, the man whose going to rip your pretty little heads off and then piss down the ragged stumps" the Doctor pales a little but continues "Very nice to meet you sir I would suggest you rethink that idea as you've seen we have the better position and are quite well armed and oh we also have a hostage" Ralph gently drags the lady up and next to the Doctor who turning toward her pulls out his dagger and sticks the point into her side, not deeply but enough to draw blood she screams loudly more with the shock than the pain. The Doctor turns back to the window "Sam that was the lovely Lysette I believe, I don't want to hurt your sister but we are desperate men and will do what needs to be done to survive this" after a moment or two Sam raises his hands and yells "Don't shoot" and slowly stands up his hands still raised. "What do you scum want? come to think of it why are you even fecking here?" Ralph his large hands pressing down heavily onto the ladies shoulders whispers into her ears "I've killed a woman before you know, didn't enjoy it but still killed her with my chopper" her eyes widen and she looks downwards "No not that chopper....bloody modern women
sex mad the lot of them" but he still eases up on his grip. The Doctor and Sam have a back and forth and after a minute or so of shouting the Doctor shrugs and tells the others "Well you heard all that we have a few minutes grace before anything else happens but I'm betting Sam there has already sent a man back to get more help and those men behind the wall, well I wouldn't be surprised to find one or two of them now guarding the back door." Giulio smiles "Well we are well set here and it will cost them dearly to storm this house....though a bit more powder wouldn't go amiss" Wilhelm and Thomas are pale and sweating somewhat so they just mumble in agreement. The Doctor heads back to the surprisingly fiery lady who tries to spit at him but her mouth is dry the Doctor apologises and then still holding the bloody dagger in his hand almost absentmindedly begins to ask her questions, the questions come out quickly and bluntly. "Where is Mallebench?" she replies The Master is here but underneath, he will arrive for dinner and when he finds you... then well you will wish Sam had killed you. The Doctor presses on question after question, his questions blurring into one as the others keep watch on Sam who is now sitting on the wall smoking a pipe looking a little concerned but far from defeated. The Doctor suddenly spins around "So the digging is Joshua's idea so unfortunately no Constantine looking for artifacts but maybe there is a way out, it seems the grieving father is weirdly in the basement" he smiles and there might be another exit down there so" he turns to Ralph "Cousin would you be so kind to help me tie this lady up an then could you go and have a look, maybe Edgar can call of his dogs" Ralph nods and the pair quickly tie her up and a gag is thrust into her mouth before Ralph heads towards the area indicated by the Doctor his hatchets thrust back into his belt as he now holds Child's wail his two handed axe gripping it tightly in his calloused hands. The area he needed to get into was blocked by a locked door but with Child's wail in his hands he makes short work of it hacking it aside in mere moments. The room beyond is a store room of a sorts wooden shelving lines the walls a few baskets of rotting food lay upon a few of them seeing nothing of note he crosses the floor quickly and heads towards the other door and through into a cold room. Greenish slabs of quartered pig swing away from Ralph's bulk as he shoulders through them and towards the trapdoor in the rooms centre. He quickly lifts the wooded door open revealing the stone steps beneath which lead down into the darkness below he takes off his pack and pulls out his lantern lights it and heads down into the basement. The stone steps lead down into the cloying darkness for what seems like years Ralph soon loses all track of time the cold causing his hair to stand up on end and his breath to form odd shapes in the frigid air, he sees his parents screaming silently in what looks like terrible pain, his friends dying in the war hacked to death or with limbs blasted off by musket balls, insides ripped out gore and offal flying around staining the ground beneath in piles of steaming meat and then in the darkness he hears the sounds of hoof on stone and a figure of a mightily horned goat appears formed out of his very breath. Ralph steps back almost tripping over the step behind the goat brays and it looks like it is going to gore Ralph upon its horns but then it stops its charge and slowly trots towards Ralph when close enough it brays quietly and sniggering rears up to lick Ralph's face before fading away the ghostly image breaking up in the faint breeze. A stunned Ralph gathers himself and smiles "I should have known that you wouldn't hurt me old friend" and filled with new courage continues down and the darkness and the cold retreats and suddenly Ralph is at the bottom of a normal set of stone stairs and in a fairly large basement. Thick stone walls line the room and the floor is simple packed earth. Two rooms closed off with rusty bars fill one wall, shelves full off dust covered casks fill the far end of the room and a low stone wall of a well fills up the remainder of the space but there doesn't seem to be any sign of any old man. Ralph checks the cells and apart from a pile of lumpy rags in one of them he finds nothing he then lifts out a random selection of casks and finds that they contain wine he looks at the faded labels and mutters to himself "Ah a good strong muscatel" before replacing the casks he then sighs "The Doctor is going to be upset, it looks like we will be fighting our way out after all" but as he passes the Well he happens to look down and suddenly stops seeing that the Well is dry and bending down he looks closer and notices that several stones have been removed from the side of the Well forming a crude ladder of sorts. "Then again maybe not" and he hurries back up the stairs to where his comrades nervously wait.
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