A Tune To Dance To

The Hounds of Hate!

Having convinced Gardener Michaels to help us, and the others to not interfere, we started to formulate a plan to get Lord Burton-Westcote to the haunted pool in the marshes. Limited violence was the first idea, followed by using some sort of medicinal solution. Alain searches the House for any sign of an infermary, or medicine cupboard but none are found. On asking the Gardener if he was aware of where medicines were stored, he stated that none existed. If someone fell ill or was injured, plants were collected from the swamp and poultices and concotions were made up freshly.
In the end it was decided that Branimir should try to convince the Lord to go voluntarily by using his considerable charm. Before doing so though, Red took hold of Branimir’s hands. She seemed to contemplate for a few moments and then declaired that Branimir would find success in his task.
Branimir visits Lord Burton-Westcote in his office and proceeds to tell him of the haunted pool and the ghost that is present there. This is the source of the problems the Lord and his household have been experiencing. Branimir gived Burton-Westocote three options for removing the melign influence form the area; retrieve and destroy the bones, exorcise the ghost, or the direct presence of the Lord himself. The discussion covers all three options but the final answer is for Lord Burton-Westcote to accompany us to the haunted pool. A rendezvous is set up in the Great Hall at 11pm.
We congregate in the Great Hall at 11pm. Lord Burton-Westcote turns up. He is loaded with a couple of firearms; a flintlock pistol and a flintlock blunderbuss. Using our knowledge of the marshy swamp, we make our way, with the Lord, to the clearing with the haunted pool where we met the ghost of Anne Campbell. When we arrive at the pool, we are surrounded by a mist that thickens into a fog the further from the pool one goes. We wait at the pool, waiting for midnight to strike. As it does so, a strange shape starts to appear in the centre of the pool. The shape starts to grow and we realise that the pool is starting to freeze from the centre out. As the pond freezes, we note that the night gets colder and more uncomfortable. We notice a creature affected by the cold which has fallen out of a tree. It dies as we watch. The mists and fog around us starts to swirl and move around the pool.
Slowly, rising out of the centre of the pool, through the frozen ice, the skeleton of Anne Campbell appears. It goes through the reverse of what it did the last time we saw it. Gradually, the organs and sinews and muscles of the ghostly body appear in place over the skeleton until an image of Anne Campbell is standing there. The reappearance of the ghost seems to unsettle several members of the party.
‘Anne?’. Lord Burton-Westcote moves toward the ghost. They start talking in quiet whispers and move off, away from the party. While watching this, Alain becomes aware that we are not alone. He whispers across to Alanya that ‘We are not alone. The hounds are in the area!’. How he whispers to someone from about 25 feet is a secret he has kept to himself.
Alanya becomes more alert as she searches the fog and mists for evidence of the hounds’ presence. The others also get on their guard, ready for any disturbance. As the group look around, four shapes move out of the fog towards the clearing. These shapes materialise into the bodies of four slavering and gowling hounds. Alain was right, well done friend.
With no further hesitation, the four hounds leap upon the party members, to be followed out of the fog by a large growling hound, much bigger then the others.
The fight starts and the party start off pretty badly. Two members; Branimir and Darry fall to the ground under the weight of the hounds’ attacks. We also notice that the ghost of Anne Campbell also joins in the attack on the side of the hounds. She is, in turn, attacked by Lord Burton-Westcote.
Branimir rises from the ground having been aided by Red to recover from his initial wounds. He in turn helps Darry and together we continue the fight. The large hound howls and as a result the mists and fog start to swirl about us more rapidly. As we trade blow for bite, we all become disorientated as the world unexpectedly shifts around us. We are immediately aware that we have changed position and some of us are now fighting hounds that but a moment ago were fighting other members of the group. Alanya finds herself fighting the Moorhound as we later discover the large hound to be.
Lord Burton-Westcote and Anne Campbell’s ghost continue to fight each other. As they do so, they accuse one another of the terrible acts that took place on the day of their aborted wedding. Anne admits to having killed Burton-Westcote’s brother, and he boasts of having held Anne’s head under the water of the pool and rues that he did not do the job properly.
We continue to fight, some of us with little success, but others are starting to make a difference and are hurting the hounds. The ‘shifting world’ happens a couple of times more during the fight, helping to disorientate the protagonists, though now we are aware that the Moorhound is initiating these occurrences.
During the fight, the ghost of Anne finds itself next to Darry. It reaches forward into Darry’s chest where his heart is and starts to squeeze. This causes Darry to fall to the ground in fearful pain and close to death. The ghost then attempts the same move on Branimir.
While this is going on, other group members kill some of the hounds. As they die, they turn back to the mud and filth they are made of and from their remains, four smaller hounds appear. They seem less substantial than the original hound, as if the power holding them together is weakening.
Branimir, meantime, has the ghost’s hand about his heart and is imminent danger of serious injury and death. He overcomes the pain he is in and having covered his sword with his own blood by running his hand over it, he slashes at the ghost. This is the end of the ghost. Whatever magic Branimir has placed onto his sword it succeeds in overcoming that which holds Anne Campbell to this haunted clearing. The ghost blinks out of existance with a fearful screem.
At this point, Lord Burton-Westcote turns his attention to Alanya and fires his pistol at her and his blunderbuss at the Moorhound, catching another party member as he does so. Shouts ring out. ‘Burton-Westcote!! Attack the hounds, the hounds. They are the manifestation of Anne’s hate. The curse is lifted if they are killed!‘.
The party then start to gain the upper hand. The Moorhound and it’s minions are overcome and as the Moorhound dies, it turns into an evil whirlwind of black smoke dissipating into the mist and fog, never to be seen again.
At the moment of the Moorhound’s death, Lord Buton-Westcote also falls dead to the earth by the now defrosted pool. As we watch, he rapidly goes through the stages of decomposition until no more than a darkened stain remains on the ground. As this happens, the ghost of Anne Campbell reappears and mockingly thanks us for our aid in her revenge on Lord Burton-Westcote. She then winks out of existance leving us to recover in the clearing.
Alanya notices, in the darkness, a small unnatural shape on the ground near to where the ghost was last seen. She picks it up and finds a golden locket in her hand. Opening it up, she can just make out the faded images of a very young Anne Campbell and another slightly older boy. Engraved on the locket are the words ‘For Anne. For ever’.
After having recovered our breath and composure, we make our way back to the House, this time without Lord Burton-Westcote. We spend the some time healing our wounds and while this is going on, Alanya performs a further check on the locket. It reveals that it holds magical properties of protection.
In the morning, we find that a group of Gypsies has made it’s home on the House’s lawn. Michaels is perplexed as they are destroying his hard work. As we approach the camp, a voice calls out to us and beckons us over to one of the caravans. We do so and realise that we already know this caravan and it’s inhabitant. It’s Nana Eva, she whom we encountered many years ago in our infancy when poor William was killed. She offers us tea and congratulates us on our work to lift the curse. She also suggests that, as there are no heirs to Lord Burton-Westocte, we take over the House and use it as a pied a terre, keeping the staff on to look after us.
We look at each other, some a bit disturbed but others seeing the wisdom in her suggestion.

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