So, in case you haven’t been listening to my audio show 108.3: Two Worlds recently, this story is – within the world – a story written by H.P. Lovecraft after he died in our world. Just listen to the show, it will make more sense.
But basically, this story was actually created by Lovecraft, in a way. It was a sentence-long story idea he had written in his commonplace book, but never got around to actually writing. Therefore, I thought that would be a pretty plausible story for him to have written later in life.
I finished this last week… I think? But I didn’t want to post it here until the episode in which the story is finished had been posted. So:
There it is. I’m back from my little break from 108.3, and better than ever. Well, maybe. I enjoyed making it, and I think it turned out pretty well. Next episode is going to be a bit… different.
Anyway, here’s the story.
Some centuries ago, according to an ancient manuscript I found recounting part of the following narrative, there existed in a now-abandoned Eastern European hamlet a large castle. This formed the center around which the hamlet was based, much in the manner of the “castle towns” of old. To one side of the castle was a large pond, which was kept clean and in a presentable manner while the owners were at their height of power.
The residents and owners of the castle were the surviving members of the Venzequintas family. They were a reclusive folk who had immigrated decades before from parts unknown. Few people in the hamlet ever saw them, despite the castle and, thus, the family, providing the only financial and physical safety that it had.
The disparity in wealth between the denizens of the castle and those of the hamlet, however, caused an amount of animosity between the two.
Due to some strange and as yet not wholly explained occurrences, the family line began to die out. It seemed as though some of the “life” in their blood had started fading, and as a result the castle, after several decades, was left empty.
The town had, coincidentally enough, strengthened in security and stability during the same period in which the opposite happened to the line of Venzequintas, and by the time their bloodline had been extinguished, the hamlet was self-sustaining.
The pond went into disuse, the garden surrounding it dying and decaying into a greyish-brown mess of half-rotten vegetation. But still the pond reflected the image of the desolate castle, mirroring the stone that had just begun to crumble, the wood that for once didn’t seem quite as impenetrable as before.
In the town there was one family, in particular, who had loathed the Venzequintas. Under the shadow of one moonless light several years later, a small group of them – five in number – made their way across the darkened field outside and towards the castle. For one silent, horrific moment, the clouds parted and the moon shone on the castle wall, reflecting onto the greenish water of the pond. The five pillagers all paused and stared at that ominous sight, that one true glimpse of foreboding that they were allowed, before the clouds returned and blotted out the moon’s light once again.
They broke through the ancient oak doors, only breakable now that the mold and rot had weakened them, and rushed inside. Their eyes shone, when the moonlight made its way out from behind the clouds, with the insane gleam of greed.
The five people of the group split up, as had been their predetermined plan, and spread throughout the dank, heavy, dark insides of the stone building. They ran like rats throughout the structure, scavenging anything of wealth that they could find.
The clouds darkened and rain began to pour forth. The moon glared like an eye at the castle and pond. Lightning struck a nearby tree. There must be some relation between stupidity and lack of fear, though, for the five pillagers showed no change of determination.
Three hours later they emerged from the hollows of the castle – they were truly hollow, now, for their contents had been emptied out into the pockets and bags of the pillagers. All five paused for a moment before stepping beyond the threshold. The moon was shining, revealing a mirror image of the castle in the murky water of the pond. A heavy cloud slid in front of it, casting shadow over the area once again.
All five left, parted ways with their treasure, and never spoke of it again. It was known in the following years that the family had come into some wealth, as was obvious by the power that they slowly gained over the town, but they never revealed its origin, not even to their decedents. Generation after generation, it remained a secret.
A hundred years later, their wealth remained. Like the flour and oil of the widow in Zarephath, it miraculously never ran out.
At the same time, the castle of the Venzequintas, now drained of the dynasty’s golden lifeblood, crumbled and decayed. No one dared go back there within the family, and once they had enough power in the town, they disallowed anyone else going there, to defeat the possibility of someone discovering what had happened. It was unknown why, precisely, they wanted to prevent that, but a sense of disease and paranoia had grown in the family since then, passing down from parents to children.
One of these children at that time began to grow curious. He had grown up always seeing the silhouette of the dying castle against the setting sun, but had heard nothing more about it than that the late occupants once controlled the village. He had tried asking people about it, both within and outside his family, but had gotten no responses save darting eyes and whispers of dread in the former and bored carelessness from the latter.
He took it upon himself to go to the castle one cloudy night, lit by the full moon. He slipped out of the house and darted across the field toward the stone building under the cover of dark clouds. A few minutes later he neared the castle and stood in awe nearby the pond, which had since gained more of a marsh-like appearance.
The clouds rolled past the moon, which now lit up the building in a cold uncaring light. He could see, just staring at it, bits of stone tumbling off into the unkempt surroundings. Just as he began to step forward toward it again, he saw the pond.
Mirrored through time in the pond was the castle, in all its previous glory. Oak doors stood strong, stone slabs were piled untarnished, towers looked down at the town below in a frenzy of power and greed. The boy’s eyes widened in horror at the sight. He looked from the castle to the reflection and back again, his mind trying in vain to find a logical explanation. His head spun, his legs weakened. He fell limp to his side and rolled down the slight slope to the pond. His body rolled into the thick muddy water and sunk underneath, helpless to fight against the grudge of the Venzequintas family.