Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Dominus Dunrod

The following letter and journal fragments have been transcribed and reprinted with the kind permission of the Macintosh family archive.

Dear Macintosh

My most sincere apologies for the time it has taken for you to finally receive the enclosed items. While I am sure you more than anyone can appreciate the legal wranglings these kind of situations can cause, this will have done little to ease your mind. These then are the pages from the journal of Mr Malcolm Doyle, and with them, the ring given him by your daughter Elizabeth.

The journal pages and related personal effects belonging to Mr Doyle were found by William Allen in the grounds of the Dunrod estate.The pages were bound together by the ring and this, tied to a rock. It is my understanding that there is currently some dispute over ownership of the land and this certainly slowed down the process of forwarding these items to yourself. In my opinion, Allen was also trespassing and more than likely poaching when he found the pages, and his reluctance to pinpoint the precise location of the find made determining ownership of the items a most lamentable business.

Clearly however, it is to yourself and your poor daughter that these remnants belong, the last fragment in particular appears to be not so much a journal entry as a letter addressed directly to her. I would caution you however, to think carefully before allowing Elizabeth to read these pieces, in my opinion they are not suitable for the delicate female constitution.

I had a man sent down to Inverkip to collect the items, and while there, he asked after Alexander Lindsay, with particular reference to the events reported in Mr Doyle’s journal. Of late Lindsay has not been seen at his castle or the surrounding grounds, he is apparently travelling in the east. However, I am sad to report that Lindsay does indeed have a name for himself as a dabbler in the black arts and has for a goodly number of years terrorised this little village. It seems then, unlikely that we shall see Mr Doyle return, and must hope that whatever sinister fate befell him, he has since passed on into the protection of our Lord, where no such evil spirit may again cause him harm.

My thoughts are with you and with Elizabeth.
Peace be with you.

Your friend

John Sullivan

“Having arrived from Ayrshire, I have stopped at Inverkip. I could easily have travelled through the evening to reach Greenock and from there find passage home, but I was famished and for once, fancied myself more firm lodgings than aboard ship. The inn is pleasant enough and not for nothing does the kitchen comes well recommended. What a feast!
After my meal, I sat for a little while in the company of some local characters who were keen to impress me with tales and songs. As the night drew on, the conversation grew darker, and I was told in very serious tones of the exploits of one Alexander Lindsay, a landowner hereabouts. It seems that this man, has fallen into the service of Satan himself, and has been bringing these dark forces to bear on his tenants and those who labour in the surrounding fields. His foul temperament seeks to spoil the crops and the cattle of the other landowners by means of a sinister magick. It is said also that he has a number of witches in his service. Here the conversation grew still more hushed, as it seems that many of these familiars live within the village of Inverkip itself! Also, on several occasions early in the morning, Lindsay has been spied in the fields, piercing the skin of cows to draw blood for arcane purpose.

I eventually excused myself and retired to bed, having enjoyed both a good meal and a good yarn, I slept well. It was my intent to rise early, but I have slept til the midmorning, and so I will simply walk to Greenock by the Largs road. With luck I will find passage in the evening, if not then I will stay in The White Hart, as one more day’s delay will make little difference.”

“What turns fate takes! I left Inverkip in good humour and weather and headed up onto the moorland path. I had been walking for a little over an hour when the sky blackened. Shortly thereafter the mist rolled down from the hills. I stopped then, so as not wander from the path. However when the mist finally lifted, then came the rains. And what rains! I have passed down Greenock way a number of times now, and there was never such a place for the four seasons in a day. Sodden and not a little disheartened by the storm, I was set to turn back for Inverkip there to spend another pleasant evening by the Inn hearth, However, I could see in the near distance the castle which could only belong to Alexander Lindsay. Stories by the fireside of an evening are all well and good, but in the midst of a hellish afternoon storm, I had little reservation in approaching the castle. I would admit however, to firmly grasping my crucifix as I knocked upon the huge oaken door.

A tall, slender man opened the door, this transpired to be Lindsay himself, no servants seemed to be in attendance. I explained my plight and he welcomed me in without hesitation as, he told me “You never turn away a stranger in a storm”. This did not seem to me to be the fiend described by the fellows at the inn and it occurred to me that they were perhaps having a little fun at my expense.

Lindsay showed me to a room at the top of the West Wing. There is a small window which overlooks the distant hills. I will stay here for the evening and take my leave in the morning.”

“This has been a most curious day. After a marvellous evening meal provided by my host I retired to bed. I did not wake until the late afternoon! I hurried to get washed and dressed, hoping to leave immediately for Greenock for the evening sailings. I could not find my host to offer him my thanks, so instead wrote him a short letter, leaving him my address that we might correspond at some later date. However, I found the front door to be locked, with no key to be seen. I once more looked for my host, calling loudly for him by name, again to no avail. Regrettably, all of the windows on the lower floor of the castle are too small to scramble through and so currently I find myself locked in the castle, alone. It will be dusk soon, and Lindsay has not yet returned.”

“I have passed the remainder of the afternoon reading from a copy of The Iliad I found in Lindsay’s library. There were a great many interesting books to be found there, but most were written in languages I could not understand. I also noted a number of books which did appear to contain sinister diagrams and magickal text such as would add weight to the allegations of the Inverkip villagers. Having been not a little unsettled by this, I find myself starting at the merest sound. And what sounds there have been echoing round these halls, empty but for myself. Strange whistlings and murmurings, a shrieking or screaming which sounds terrifying and real, yet so very far away. On two occasions, I have nearly leapt from my seat upon hearing a whisper at my ear, only to turn and find no one there. The reading has kept my mind at rest for a time, but with night now falling I can think of little else but the many rooms in the castle, and the many evil spirits I fear dwell within.”

“It is but a short time later. I have been staring from my window out across the way, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone passing. And sure enough, a shape emerged. A little cowled figure, wandering not along the path, but down from the hills. The figure was too small to be Lindsay, but did seem to be coming towards the castle in a laborious but determined fashion. I waited til this person had come closer, and waved from the window to try and attract their attention. And at once they glanced upward. I could see now it was an elderly woman, hunched over but most certainly not frail. She had clearly seen me, yet chose to ignore me and walked around the castle in order that she was out of view to me. Disturbed still further, I sat silently for an age, listening, hoping to hear if she entered. Apparently she did not.”

“It is a little before eight o’clock, a short while ago, Lindsay brought some food up to my room. He apologised for his disappearance earlier in the day, explaining that he had been running some very important errands. The door had been locked he said, because he does not trust the labourers or villagers. This I suppose, is possible, however, I sat by my window, watching the path leading up to the doorway, and listening, all evening listening, for the slightest sound, and I neither saw nor heard Lindsay arrive back at Castle. I thanked him for his hospitality, and made to be on my way. Lindsay however, was having none of it, insisting that the least he could offer me after such a day was another evenings lodgings. While I was keen to be away, the rain was once again lashing down, and my half hearted attempts to explain my departure were beginning to look most ingracious. I agreed therefore to stay one final night.

I asked him then about the woman I had saw come by, and he told me that she too was a guest of his this evening, an old acquaintance of the family down visiting from Lochwinnoch. He told me that one more guest was to arrive, a man of holy orders. I must admit that this did put me more at my ease. Yet here Lindsay grew very sombre, asking that for the duration of the evening I should remain in my room, as he and his guests had “a serious business” to attend to. In all honesty, I was not overkeen to spend the night in his company, and so will instead settle down with The Iliad.”

“Dearest Elizabeth,
As I write, my crucifix sits upon the table just in front of me. I now fear for my life, and my soul. I wish that I was with you now.

Downstairs I can hear them chanting still, and as they sing, so too do the restless spirits that rattle round these walls. There is a bad magick at work here, and I have watched them prepare.

A short time ago, as I sat reading by my little window, I saw a carriage draw up by the front of the castle, and a robed man emerged and drifted indoors. This was the monk my host had spoken of earlier. The carriage trundled off into the night and I returned to my book.

Not long after this, I heard a great deal of commotion downstairs and although my host had stated that I should remain in my room, curiosity got the better of me. I stepped quietly from my room, and peered down from the stairwell to the great hall below. And here were Lindsay, the old woman and the monk, arguing loudly. I could not understand what they were arguing about, but Lindsay kept shaking his head and gesturing to a chain he was wearing around his neck. There seemed to be some kind of ornamental piece upon the end of it, but I could not rightly make it out. Eventually, the argument quelled, and the three busied themselves by leafing through some of the volumes I had noted earlier in the library. Ever and again, they would stop to cast something across the open floor. I knew Elizabeth, that this was evil at work, that I should not linger, yet I sat transfixed. I watched as they drew strange shapes and symbols upon the stone floor, and here the chanting started. The temperature dropped considerably, and thankfully this seemed to rouse me. I resolved to watch no more, but I had not decided upon my course of action until I heard all three of them calling out to the Devil. They listed his many names, and I could listen no longer.

This is a damned place, and I must leave before I am taken, therefore Elizabeth, it is my intent to clamber from this window down to the moors below.

The weather however is against me, and so in case I should fail in this venture, I would not have you imagine it is you I have run from. I will roll these last pages together, and loop them with the silver band you have given me. I have chipped out a little stone from the walls and I will bind the ring and pages to this. I shall throw this from my window out toward the wall by the road where I might easily retrieve it. You would know Elizabeth, that I would not willingly be separated from that ring, so should it come back into your possession, it is because I have failed in my efforts to leave this place. I pray that you need never read these pages.     

All my love always.”

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