Please be warned, the ending of this story is not for the faint of heart!
Beginning by @dirge
Benjamin Leitner, son of General Reinold Leitner, grandson of Count Dietrich Leitner, stepped from the stagecoach and lit his pipe. The night was cold, the sky a vast black emptiness. The moon, if it had shown itself at all that night, was gone, and nothing but the light cast by Benjamin’s lantern offered solace from the creeping dark.
He’d reached the graveyard, home of his family tomb and its historic dynasty. It was a forbidden place, the site of his late mother’s suicide, where Leitners were entombed stretching back centuries. He hated this place, more than anywhere else on earth. But he’d come, alone as ordered to. He’d come, as he had no other option but to do so. And he’d brought the gold.
The letter was written in her typical style. Loquacious, expounding on the nature of their relationship, apologizing for her affairs, thanking him for standing by her throughout it, remaining at her side despite all the controversy of the town. Despite even her own parents telling him to abandon her as a lost cause.
She’d not only dragged herself down into the mud. But him as well. Benjamin the financier, of Wolfstone and Kauffman, now the cuckold of all of Austria. But worst of all, she’d tarnished the name of Leitner.
And when the accusation came, of witchcraft and devilry, of black magic and the most bestial of sacrilege, of whoring in the night endowed with opiates unto madness. Well, it was no wonder when Kauffman wanted out.
And still he stood by her.
Should he have been surprised when the letter came, demanding the last of his finances or else she’d accuse him in the papers of having masterminded it all? Of being an original scholar of the black arts?
That would render the Leitner name into devilry.
No. He couldn’t allow that.
Benjamin finished his pipe, the tobacco charred and ashen. He cast the ash into the wind then slipped the cherry wood pipe into his coat pocket, beside the letter crested with her seal.
Melinda. Oh, you wench.
I’ll be in the crypts, waiting.
He suspected she wasn’t alone. Benjamin suspected the whole carnal tribe to be down there, waiting for her.
Well, so much the better. Let them all wait for his arrival. Let them all see the truth, the forbidden history denied to the world. Stretching back into the foundation of the soil. Let them know who it was that the Leitner’s may be.
He stepped across the grass, peering at the graves of his forbears till he reached the central crypt. The iron gate was ajar and the darkness seemingly impenetrable. They were down there, waiting for him.
“Melinda,” Benjamin said to himself. “It could have been different. So different. But you threatened my name. For that, I cannot forgive you.”
He entered the crypts.
“Time to meet the family,” he thought to himself, almost with a laugh.
The Writing on the Wall
Ending by @raj808
Mist beaded teardrops of obsidian crystal from the roof of the crypt. Silence muffled his thoughts, interrupted every few seconds by the soft fall of a water droplet onto the damp floor.
Marble edifices lined the mausoleum hall. The stern countenance of his ancestors watching his every move.
Alexander Leitner, his great, great uncle. Marble mustache dripping from that cruel face. Hard dark eyes, deep set and maniacal.
Maximilian Leitner his great, great grandfather. Known as the butcher of Amstetten, hired by Maria Theresa to put the whole town to the flame in a strategic sacrifice.
Johanna Leitner his great, great grandmother. Who poisoned her lovers with Nightshade and Hemlock from the castle gardens.
Suddenly a high orgasmic keening echoed from the inky blackness ahead.
Benjamin stopped dead. Dust shivered a curtain of motes from a moon beam that encroached into this place of death. The light faltering just up ahead, a gaping portal of nothingness.
A scratching shocked him out of his contemplation. He turned, dead stone eyes of his great grandmother burned cold white light freezing his bones to the marrow. The statue held his gaze as it scratched a message on the wall.
Time to feed!
He felt them possess him. All of the cursed Leitner dead. As they had when he was a boy, coaxed down into these stinking tombs with the promise of something at the edge of imagination. The raw energy of their spirits raked him from the inside.
Fire and steel in the sacred night. Fire and steel in the sacred night.
The words echoed through his mind, words chanted in another time and place. He saw matchstick scarecrows flailing around in the dust as his hands picked up the pitcher of oil and doused the farmers into living beacons. They shrieking like pigs at the slaughter as flesh melted from their bones. He felt the flames. He felt the flesh crisping and the smell of his own brain boiling.
Benjamin Leitner howled as those spirits inhabited him.
"Benjamin, you don't scare me." Melinda's voice quavered as she screamed into the darkness from the alter room. That pig Simon had run away at that unearthly howl and taken the lamp with him. A good lover but a complete coward.
"Benjamin, do you want to play games?" She loved to tease and torture him, such a weak and ineffectual man. Melinda let loose her own unearthly howl into the darkness as she fumbled with the candle. Better not drop it or I will be in trouble.
She listened as the echo of her howl died away. Silence.
"Benjamin, I hope you have brought the gold or everyone will know about the coven of Llgenberg and the legacy of Leitner will be destroyed."
Suddenly an icy breeze rushed into her face, the candle sputtered out and dropped to the floor.
Melinda groped in the darkness for it before taking a deep breath and waiting for her eyes to adjust. Nothing, she couldn't even see her hand in front of her face.
"Benjamin." She screamed into the endless night.
She heard a low gurgling noise as the echo of her scream died down and moved toward it where a dim glow could be seen.
As she rounded the corner of the tunnel she could see a feral figure crouched low in the corner. Glistening ropes of dim flesh in its hands, a gurgling grinding noise filled her world. Benjamin turned to look at Melinda, Simon's entrails spilling from his hands and mouth. Blood covered his face and torso, clotting at the corners of his mouth. In one hand he held a severed arm, splintered bone jutting a pale smear of cream in the nightmare dark. A green glow burned from his eyes at he looked at her and spoke in a rasping wet voice, gore spittle flying.
Melinda.... it's time to feed!
© Rowan Joyce all rights reserved