17: Our Trip to The English Countryside

7th February 1925

Hunting In Lesser Edale
Hunting In Lesser Edale

Lesser Edale, England:

08:30 AM:

I’m not totally sure what this is all about. We know that poor Jackson was intrigued by the article about the beast which was featured in the Scoop (see end of Masks XVI) but let’s face it, the man had cracked up by then so his judgement was seriously impaired. It’s a possible chance to find out a bit more about the Carlyle family heritage but Erica had no clue about her relations in Lesser Edale so probably pointless.

Trixie, Joseph Gupta and Trent elect to go. I have work to do in London. I can cope with a sore throat for a while longer. We need my research. Without prying eyes, I can enjoy my special prescriptions in peace. I also hate dogs, in fact all animals and most people. I have no desire to wander around looking for a wolf one day before full moon. If they want to go beast hunting let them, I have no interest. I can summon far worse here in my own room.

Yegor Gaidar



I’m glad to be leaving that sourpuss for a while. He’s been getting on my nerves just like this dirty, smelly city with its lousy Joe. The food is awful too, there’s nowhere to get a decent dog in this burg either. I gotta face it; I’m really missing the Apple. Father Thames ain’t the Hudson.

Nevertheless, after the vile London peculiars it will be good to get to a place where there is some fresh air.

Now it turned out that Jackson looked into a story about a beast in the countryside. It could be a way for me to get in Erica’s good books for a change after the library break in. She is kinda intimidating with that sharp brain of hers. Not intimidating like Natalja. With that crazy frail, I’m expecting a knife in my back or a bullet any second. No with Erica, it’s her sharp intellect. Erica doesn’t have that infuriating accent either. She hasn’t noticed me properly yet but she will. This trip could help. However, that’s enough about women.

We elected to drive the 130 miles to Lesser Edale in a single large car. Bentley seemed quite a good model even if the roads are lousy. We picked up some good maps in Stanford’s and had an uneventful drive north. The trip took five hours.

The air was certainly cleaner. This is Shakespeare’s green and pleasant land after all, very scenic it is too. As we took the final turn, Lesser Edale appeared before us. It was a small village. It had a pub called “The Laughing Horse”. In addition, there was a general store, a church and a veterinary clinic. Above the village up on a hill was Castle Plum, it’s around 200 feet high.

On the trip up, we reviewed our notes.

Lesser Edale is a village of some 300 people located in the Vale of Derwent. Castle Plum is just outside it. In residence are Sir Arthur Gordon Fitzhugh Vane 67, his son Laurence Arthur Ponsonby Vane 23 and daughter Elouise Gwendalolac Eldreda Vane (quite the mouthful, gotta love these silver spooned Limeys, no money any more but a whole lotta titles).

Back in July 1924, George Osgood and Lydia Perkins were ripped apart by some kind of beast. Then Harold Short was attacked but drove the beast. That same night it was supposedly shot and killed by Constable Trumwell. However, when the Scoop reported this in September it stated that residents were still being frightened by bestial howls on nights of the full moon. This was over two months after the supposed slaying.

It was a nice little village. Time for us to save the day.

We pulled up and got talking to some hunters outside the general store. We explained that we were hunters too. Gupta was introduced as our expert tracker. As we talked, the hunters showed us where the attacks took place on our ordnance survey map. It’s really quite good. All the sites are not too far from the castle. A quadruped running fast could easily have got to them from the castle and still returned before dawn.

We invited the hunters to the pub where we could offer them a drink. As we talked further, PC Hubert Trumwell entered. He was friendly enough but not remotely interested in tales of the beast. He told us to go hill walking instead. Despite the rain, he advised us to enjoy the weather too! Limeys.

Turned out Harold short has left this place to live in Norfolk. Might have to check the press for wolf sightings there. If he was bitten, he could be bestial himself.

The hunters told us the families of the other two victims, the Osgood’s and the Perkins are still in the area. Another explained that if we wanted to speak to Mr Vane, he normally dropped into the pub around 4.

While we waited for Vane to arrive, we checked out the Vet. Unsurprisingly for a country practice, he was out doing his visits to the local farms. We’d have to catch him later.

The shopkeeper of the General store told us a little more background information. He said that the attacks only began in 1924. Of the Vanes, he said that the son would finish his studies in the summer. He would then probably take more charge of the family estate. Not many in the village had seen the daughter Elouise who is said to be very shy.

As we were talking the vet arrived. Trixie and Joe went over to his surgery. His name was Dr Breach birth. Trixie astutely asked him whether any farms had lost livestock recently. A good thought but the vet said no. He did admit to having heard the howling but hadn’t seen any evidence of recent attacks. He added that no one has searched for tracks. As the Vanes didn’t have livestock, he had had no reason to look around Castle Plum.

Trixie then headed off to see the butcher. Again thinking astutely, she asked if the Vanes had ordered excessive quantities of meat. Sadly, no, this wasn’t the case either. Vane was a no show, so we unpacked and headed to our rooms above the pub.

8th February 1925

what lurks in yonda marshland?
what lurks in yonda marshland?

Beware The Wolf Howls!

20:00 PM:

Night falls so we took a walk around the village hoping for a sign of the beast. Before we headed off, we all cast Skin of Sedefkar. I hope that that would allow us one bite before we are infected by this terrible affliction. We were well prepared. We each carried guns loaded with silver bullets. We also all carry at least one magic weapon.

Trixie was the first to hear the howling quite far away. It seemed carried on the wind. We couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from.

Alerted by her, we then all heard it. We saw a twisting track leading uphill so headed along it. It lead to the Castle. Castle was not really the right word. It was more of a fortified manor house than a castle. One wing of the large house was quite dilapidated. Heading up the path, we saw a number of caves in the hill but it was too dark to explore them.

On point, Trent and Gupta discovered collapsed bits of wood amidst heavily overgrown foliage. It obscured two heavy wooden doors in the side of the hill. Trent discovered cart ruts leading up to the doors. There must have been a mine here at some time in the past but it hadn’t been used in a very long time.

The howls were louder up here. We knocked on the door. Eventually Laurence Vane came to the door. He was very short with us. He also denied hearing a wolf. He demanded that we leave. As we left, we could see him watching us depart through a crack in the curtains. Another light above betrayed a second watcher in an upstairs room.

Checking with the publican we determined that castle Plum had a staff of 6 comprising of a maid, a butler, a scullery maid, a cook, a gardener and a housekeeper. With the three Vanes that made 9 suspects.

We walked all over the moorland around the village till late into the night listening to the howls but find nothing.

9th February 1925

Small Country Church
Small Country Church

What Is Going On In The Church?

03:00 AM:

As we made the return circuit back to the pub, we see the church. Oddly, even at 3am, there were lights on in the Vicarage. The priest was keeping late hours.

We stored this in our memories then trudged sleepily back to our rooms. It had been a fruitless evening.

Visiting The Church:

10:00 AM:

After a late breakfast, we visited the Church. The notices told us that it was a protestant Church of England church. The vicar was the Right Reverend Jeremy Stratton. Also on the church notice board was a flier about The Derwent Valley Order of the Golden Druid, which had a meeting next month.

The reverend was reticent but admitted to being unable to sleep, he said he was praying. Plausible for a priest. He explained to us that the Order of the Golden Druid was a historical society dedicated to retrieving pre-Roman artefacts They also kept up Celtic traditions such as celebrating the festival of Beltain.

After Gupta and Trent spoke with the priest, both felt that, he was hiding something.

Records show that the archive went back to 1714 but that there was a fire in the original Elizabethan Church in 1906 so the records had several gaps.

Trixie and Joe persist with the Police Constable. While he continued to maintain their enterprise was a waste of time he reluctantly provided addresses of the two victim’s families.

Trixie and Joe then proceeded to visit and interview them.

They found out that Laurence Vane was seen running away from the Perkins House on the night of the second attack.

As we headed to the pub, we had a stroke of luck as Laurence himself entered just after we arrived.

Trent spun a tale about a rare event called a blue moon documented by the famous astronomer Yegor Gaidar that was happening tonight for the first time in a century. It was said to be a powerful supernatural event that affects animals and beasts.

Laurence left clearly rattled by the tale he’d been told. Barnum was right.

We returned to church and spun the same tale to the Reverend. If he was in cahoots with Laurence Vane, we might have gotten some results from this.

Trent was on a roll. He earnestly told the reverend about this phenomenon. Trent explained further that we had been researching the Carlyle’s of Westchester in New York State. Trent also told the Reverend that his studies in the U.S had shown that Abner Vane was transported to Virginia in the late 16th century. We asked to see the church records for the Vane family from that time.

The Reverend tells us that they were lost in a fire. There were many historical records that are incomplete. Nevertheless, records did show that an Abner Vane Carrol was the illegitimate son of Joshua Vane. He was found guilty of thievery and unnatural behaviour. Unnatural behaviour? The mind boggles.

When pressed further about the beast, Rev. Stratton admitted that he had heard the beast. He had taken to praying a lot when he couldn’t sleep during the night.

We tried to press further but he became agitated. He ushered us out saying he must speak to his parishioners.

We walked out, then waited till the priest had left and re-entered the church. Trent picked the lock on his office door. On a desk, we found an ancient journal written by a previous parish priest long ago. It was written in Greek possibly in an effort to preserve its secrecy. It referred to a Vane family curse, which affected all Vane women at the age of 21. Around 250 years ago, Lady Evangeline Vane had had a witch burned at the stake. As the witch burned, with her dying breath she cursed all Vane women. However, details were missing so either the notes were incomplete, or our translation of them was; probably the latter so we don’t have all the information. We had to find out more.

In the early evening we went back to the pub met our fellow investigators and then all four of us returned to the Vestry.

Confronting The Beast:

11:50 AM:

The priest was initially annoyed that we had taken the journal of his predecessor but eventually agreed to accompany us to Castle plum after some powerful persuasion by Trixie. She could browbeat a Hasidic Jew to eat bacon that one.

At first, the Vanes tried to deny anything was going on. However, with the priest backing us up, Lawrence admitted it all started when his sister turned 21 in August 1924.

We were led into the vaults of Castle Plum. Locked inside a heavy iron cage we saw Elouise asleep. Lawrence Vane reluctantly told us that it was indeed his younger sister that turned into the beast.

That was why she was locked in a cage. The poor young lady used to wake up after each transformation experiencing nausea but remembering nothing. However, on the night of the first attack as she first changed Lawrence had not been quick enough to secure her. As he watched, his sister transformed into a beast and bounded off into the countryside. He followed trying to stop her. Nevertheless, was too late. That is why he was seen that night at the farm.

We waited for the moon to rise. As it did so, the transformation occurred. Before our eyes this little, frail slight framed young lady turned into a huge slavering wolf. It struggled in the cage howling bestially, an unnatural bloodlust exuding from every lupine poor.

It had no recognition of any of us in its eyes. It just wanted to hunt and kill. We waited for the moon to set. When it did so, the wolf changed back into Elouise. The Vanes immediately gave her a sedative then took her out of the cage and placed her in own bed.

Quite a fascinating manifestation. We had a brainwave. We waited for the moon to set then explained to the Vanes and the priest that we wished to try an incantation to counter the curse. The Vanes were initially sceptical but at this point were desperate enough to try anything as long as we didn’t harm Elouise.

We asked them to leave and then performed Ritual of Cleansing an ancient spell we had learned on our travels in Turkey during incidents on the Orient express a couple of years before. We all chanted and cast the spell. However, we would not know for certain whether it had been successful until the next full moon, which was the following night.

We then went back to the pub saying we would return to Castle Plum the next night before moonrise.

Being a small village, several people saw us walking back to the pub from Castle plum in the company of the priest but no-one said anything.

We all slept soundly, woke late into the afternoon then packed our gear. We were confident it had worked. Greg wasn’t here to pollute us with his toxic pessimism so as the late afternoon sun shone brightly and we all returned to Castle Plum in good humour.

Nevertheless, we had our weapons with us just in case. The sports bags never leave our sides now.

It was with some trepidation that Elouise was given another shot and placed back in her cage that early evening. We watched the moonrise, but wonderfully, Elouise continued to sleep soundly in her cage. No infernal transformation occurred. We had done it.

While waiting we asked the Vanes what they knew of their ancestor and their distant relatives in the USA but they knew nothing of them beyond what the priest had researched from the journal.

They had not even heard of Erica or Roger Carlyle.

When we were sure, we had removed the curse we went outside in the hills, set off some dynamite, and fired several volleys into the air. Trent even jumped into a bush and dived in mud to look as if he had had a struggle with something. Trixie thought it just made him look clumsy but did say anything.

We met a concerned constable and told him that we had chased the beast into an abandoned mine where we had shot and then dynamited the tunnel.

There would be no evidence but we assured him that the village would no longer hear the bestial howls of the beast.

We were the toast of the pub. It was a rare good evening when we could forget our travails against the Cult of the Bloated Woman in Shanghai, The cult of the Sand Bat in Australia, The Cult of the Black Pharaoh in Egypt and the ominous denizens of the Mountain of the Black Wind in Kenya.

Trent did wonder if we had cured the whole dynasty of the Vane family or whether only Elouise had been spared. Would any daughter of Elouise suffer the same curse as she reached her majority? These thoughts were swiftly dispelled. He couldn’t save everyone. Poor Heather had taught us all that. Revel in the good we had done instead.

We tried to a good turn to Mickey at The Scoop too. We phoned him and told him we had dealt with the beast. However, he wanted us to introduce a sexual angle involving Elouise into our story, so we left him to it. Hell we had tried. It could still be a story for Irma when he recovered. They’d eat that up back home.

A beast plagues a village for a year, then, when a couple of hunters arrive from Uncle Sam, the whole problem is sorted out in a long weekend. Yes they would love that back home.

In the morning, we contentedly drove back to London.

Trent Duxford III

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