More bad dreams, again I don't recall the details but suffice it to say that I woke up feeling as though I hadn't been refreshed at all. Seems to be catching as all of my new friends are suffering the same way. Must have been a very bad bottle of port, we all seem to have been mildly poisoned.
Still the usual curative of a large breakfast and a galleon of coffee saw off the problem and I was keen to find out if my gamekeepers had managed to bag themselves a bolshy.
Turns out they didn't. When I interrogated them they appeared to be very nervous and under other circumstances I would swear that they had fallen asleep. However under Panda's gentle questioning they did admit to seeing something and pursuing it into the woods, but they lost it in the dark. They said that they didn't see what it was, but they thought that it was about the size of a large dog. Even after these admissions Panda suggested to me quietly that she thought that they were lying, or at least keeping something back.
I have to admit something had obviously spooked the blighters, for they refused to stand watch for a second night despite the gold sovereign I had paid each of them for their poor efforts already received.
After a quick conflab we decided to get a couple of hounds from the local hunts master and see if we could track this 'dog' or what ever it was. Turned out the whole thing was a blasted waste of time, the dogs failed to find anything and got a bit spooked by the whole thing. Still we did at least find evidence that the gamekeepers weren't total fabricators with evidence of shot gun pellets being found.
Having dismissed the pointless pooches, we decided to check the tower cellar once more and this time our efforts were rewarded, if you can call it such, with more evidence of the bizarre. This time the broken body of a fox, again with any blood within its body or around the circle. At this point I was forced to admit that my initial theory of a Bolshevik poacher seemed to be somewhat off the mark.
Anyway this was naturally a queue for some more upset from the ladies and gallantry from Edwin to take them back outside. To be honest with you diary Charles and I were a bit spooked as well, but someone had to take responsibility for searching the place carefully and we were at least both armed. We didn't find anything and were most pleased to emerge into the sunlight once more.
Back in Aunty M's library, which we appear to have commandeered as our little command centre, we swiftly agreed that we would keep watch that night to catch the deranged bounder who was depopulating the country side. Our initial theories were that maybe one of the finger wagglers was conducting some sort of diabolic ritual to his dark gods.
It was then that I had the brilliant idea that we might actually be dealing with a madman who knew of the local vampire legends and actually believed that he to was a madman. After all, this theory nicely fitted all the facts and my companions agreed that this was a very real possibility. So we decided to use his insanity against him (obviously it was a man, no woman would be capable of acting in such a way) and armed ourselves with garlic, crucifixes and nets. After all, if truly mad the poor fellow isn't really to blame and it would be much better to take him alive and deliver him to a hospital.
Of course best intentions not with standing, Charles and I were going fully armed with both hand guns and shotguns, or rifle in Charles case. Panda very bravely offered to carry a shotgun as well, but remembering her intent to demonstrate her prowess inside the Hunting Room in Auntie's house, both Charles and I assured her that she should carry a torch instead.
Our simple plan was to hide with Claire and Panda wielding their trusty torches, Charles and I with the firepower of last resort and Edwin entrusted with a large crucifix with which to first terrify and then 'bash' into submission the poor would be vampire.
It all got quite exciting and we returned once more to the tower to 'scout' out the terrain and for Charles to build us a hide of branches and undergrowth which would disguise us from our quarry. While there the workers we had hired to clear the upper level made their own discoveries.
In summary we found the remains of our Moorish mystery man, Raul Givenchy, at least we believe that to be the case for he had been shot in the head. We found a number of silver musket balls with strange runes carved in them, a ring with a dark stone in it, which Panda then promptly rubbed into obliteration but did discover more rag head writing on it and a golden necklace with the same symbol upon it as the one on the floor but inverted, which Panda stated was a protection. Now that I mention this I remember that we discovered the same inverted symbol on the bricked up doorway that led to the initial discovery in the first place. Finally there were a couple more remains as well, probably of the witch finder's country bumpkins sent to murder poor old Raul.
We collected up the valuables with the intention of presenting the find to the Royal Institute, and after Charles had finished making his hide, we retreated to the house for a spot of dinner and to wait until it was dark.
Unfortunately it was during this time that my inexperience in hunting was to show itself, or at least it planted seeds for a problem that was only to reveal itself later on...
As darkness was falling we all dressed up for the cooler night weather and made our way to Charles hide. In truth it wasn't very big and we all had to get a bit closer to each other than was really polite, certainly not among such numerous company! Anyway, it was all terribly exciting for about 15 minutes before it became incredibly dull. I mean really, if this is what 'big game hunting' is all about then you can count me out thank you. Lying on damp earth behind a few well placed weeds, unable to converse, smoke, play cards or even sleep - apparently diary I sleep too loudly! - and to continue to do so for hours on end is simply not the activity of a gentleman! For such mundane and frankly grubby tosh I have servants, that is what they are for!
At about 15 minutes before the witching hour itself, my spot of dinner returned to haunt me. Or rather the wine, brandy and coffee did. I mean we had been lying there for several hours and some aspects of nature, nay humanity, will not be denied! Which is to say, diary, I needed to pee.
Now while this was rather embarrassing in itself, I am certain that Charles gave me a very disapproving look, no doubt of iron bladder himself with many such nights of utter drudgery under his belt, I am confident that he must have been impressed with the utter silence in which I went about my business. I swear that not even one of the Red skinned fellows of the US would have heard me, in truth I couldn't even hear myself. Now you might think this an unusual and fairly pointless boast but it is an astounding fact that my ability to pee silently turned out to be a life saving skill!
For no sooner had I returned to my position in the hide then we began to hear a very strange noise, I cross between a child keening and laughing, it was most eerie a sound I assure you. Between us we placed it to be coming from near the entrance to the Tower Cellar, and therefore after some nodding and preparation we leapt out with the ladies switching on the torches, Edwin brandishing his club/crucifix and Charles and I ready to shoot the wretch if necessary.
It was what we saw at that moment, diary, that changed all of our lives for ever, that has led to our sitting here each deep in our thoughts without inclination to conversation or deliberation and the source of our fears that keep us from our beds or even any thoughts of sleep.
The torch beams pierced the night and revealed the source of the keening and it was most patently not a Bolshevik poacher, nor a madman would be vampire or even a finger waggling occultist. Any would have been preferable diary to the beast that was actually revealed to us at that moment, an apparition so terrible and yet simultaneously so ridiculous that this diversity of emotions functioned to only heighten the shock and fear.
We faced a giant jellyfish, floating in mid air, translucent except for an obvious system of veins and arteries through which we could see blood flowing. I recall not if there was a heart actually pumping within anything that might resemble a breast, for rather than study the damn thing for a moment longer than necessary, I gave it both barrels of Miss Purdy's finest.
While Charles was obviously stunned by the sight revealed to him, Edwin showed remarkable good sense in opting not to try and bash the thing with a crucifix and pulled a pistol and immediately opening fire. The sound of gunplay must have brought Charles back to his senses for he brought his rifle up to his shoulder and also fired.
Unfortunately the whole experience was a too much for poor Panda, such scenes of violence are really not the place for a lady at the best of time and with the added complications of such an monstrous adversary it completely overwhelmed her.
Screaming out that it was the vampire (or which I am not convinced myself, a vampiric jellyfish really is too much) she dropped her torch and fled into the night.
The beast's warbling heightened in pitch, as though emitting a jellyfish scream (do jellyfish normally scream diary, and if so how when they are normally under water?) and began to flee at some speed towards the wood, moving in a very diverse manner in order to make shooting it more difficult.
Claire managed to keep one torch upon it and Edwin quickly grabbed Panda's dropped light and added to the illumination of the beast. Charles put another rifle round in to the beast even as I drew Mr Webley and gave the fleeing miscreant a dose of Mr Webley's finest. At that point it vanished with a final scream.
Naturally we rushed to the spot where it was last seen and found in its place a large circle of undergrowth covered in a dark substance which had almost instantly killed all the plants that it had covered. We surmised this to be the creatures blood and that we had 'popped' it with our gun play, killing it one hopes.
Realising that Panda was still missing, and in all truth diary frankly succumbing to a terrible fear once the adrenalin began wearing off, we swiftly made our way back towards the house in the direction that Panda had fled. We swiftly found her and as quickly as was decently possible we ensconced our selves back in HQ, which is to say the library.
Considerable quantities of Brandy were consumed, I ordered my customary toasted tea cake with cream and strawberry jam as a reward for a mission successfully returned from and we began to come to terms with what had just occurred.
To summarise diary, we now believe that;
Raul Givenchy knew of this beast and had it trapped within his cellar. How or what it was doing there I do not know.
We let it out.
It was small to start with, which is why it ate only rats at first, but a larger creature, the fox, on the following night. It also explains why the game keepers put it at the size of a large dog, if they had seen what we had seen they would have been wrecks by the time they got back to us.
It is somehow still connected to the symbol on the floor, for it leaves its prey there.
It might be dead.
Best of all, it doesn't like it up 'im! Which is to say good old fashioned hot lead does appear to dissuade it!
Panda is convinced that the gold necklace that Raul wore was a protection and is even now carving us wooden copies. We are resolved that come day we must once more return to the cellar to see if there are any new corpses there, and alas we may have to watch the place one more night to make sure the thing really is dead.
Upon reaching a civilised hour, that is to say after breakfast, we shall speak with Auntie M, who has travelled far and read much about the supernatural and occult, in the hope that she might have heard something of a giant floating jelly fish legend.
Lastly we will ask a local priest to bless the tower, with the excuse that a number of men died there with out being buried. At this point in time it is agreed that such an action can not possibly worsen the situation, and as the creature we saw patently did not belong on God's Green Earth then perhaps He would be willing to help give it the boot!
One final and worrying thought is where did the Jelly fish stay during the day. The most obvious location would be the lake, the lake where Charles and I have been known to take a morning swim on occasion!
I can assure you of this diary, it will be many years before I swim in that lake again!