His Lordship

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I’m Jason L. Secrest, an aspiring author and impoverished college student. Sometimes I blog. When I’m being real about real world things that other people also believe are real I post at wiseyetharmless.bogspot.com. Then there are the moments that I’m also being real, but in regards to a different real world where there is a real annoying talking demon in my basement and where my non-fake butler/valet/gentleman’s-gentleman knows Jujutsu. In those moment’s I’m Jason L. Secrest, Lord of the Manor, and I blog directly to you from my mansion study at whathowadsworth.blogspot.com.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crimson Surprise (Part 2)

Last time on Crimson Surprise the following happened:

I attended a writing convention and got a little creeped out by Paul Genesse's over interest in Beezle, so I skipped out on the rest of the convention, went home, and locked my door. 

A few days after the convention I came home to find the house unnaturally quiet. Suspecting that Beezle was up to something I dashed off to his lair finding his door open. This left me disquieted because that door is the one thing keeping him contained. Inside the lair I picked up a letter left on a pedestal and in doing so triggered some sort of spell that slammed the door behind me:

"Dear Lord Secrest,
 Until recently there has been an evil entity occupying this space. Whether you considered it a blessing, curse, or tenant, it will not bother you again. To ensure both your safety and cooperation this room has been sealed for the next twenty-four hours. Have an enjoyable weekend. As always, feel free to submit stories about any demons you encounter for inclusion in 'The Crimson Pact.'
 -The Spirit Traveler"
At this point I left to have a good cry. Since then, I've left you out to dry as Griseus so sternly reminded me. Let's jump right in, shall we?


Looking around my prison, the prison which had once held Beezle, I felt an enormous weight of despair. "Beezle? Gone?" I thought. Then I chided myself angrily, "Beezle has been a pain in my neck since the first summer I spent in this house, way back when it belonged to Uncle Nicholas. Not only that, but he's a demon for crying out loud. He's never stopped trying to get at my soul. It's what he does."

Still, Beezle has been a significant part of my life for over a decade, howbeit obnoxious and dangerous.  Maybe it was his devilish charm or his evil sense of humor, but I found myself feeling hollow and empty at his loss. "Just a trick," I thought, "Just a ruse. He's been working on me all these years, trying to make me like him more and more to make me a loyal friend, ready to fall into some deadly trap that would cost me my soul to escape." Honestly, I still believe that what I thought here was fully accurate, but it was no use. I felt like a family member had just been kidnapped, and the culprit hadn't even left me the option of putting up a ransom.

Angrily I threw the letter across the room and began to pace it. I didn't try to look for a way out. There wasn't one. That was the idea. You keep demons in it so that they can't get out. There was the vent in the ceiling of course, but it acts as a pressure valve - lets Beezle reach into the world and interact with it but prevents him from building up enough energy to blast his way out of the wards. The vent wasn't any kind of use to me though. It was several stories above me. I couldn't even see it in the vaulted darkness.

Finally I dashed at the letter and attempted a good kick. It got caught on my shoe and lifted a few feet into the air and settled back down next to a thin trail of demon blood. Grimly I followed it with my eyes to the wall where a larger stain smeared the smooth onyx stone etched with golden runes. I squinted and knelt down next to the smear. A small black circle containing one rune was completely blood free, and it was close to the center of the splatter.

I brushed my finger thoughtfully over the rune and it lit up. I stepped back as I felt intense heat radiate from it and it glowed red. The fiery glow spread to surrounding runes, and from them to others. Soon a full third of the wall was burning like a furnace, forcing me to the the other side. I thought that at any moment I'd be roasted like a pig. The shining onyx stone before me melted away revealing Beezle's fireplace.

The Beezle's fireplace is one of the few things in his room that never seems to change shape or size. It's always the same. Twenty feet tall, surrounded by ironworks and statues depicting torturous burning misery, a blazing inferno - except today there was no blazing inferno. The fireplace was completely empty save one thing: a golden door with a silver handle.

"Of course!" I thought, "I forgot about the fireplace."

I've known for a good long time that Beezle has had a route too and from the demonic realm via his fireplace. It's not anything that's ever concerned me much. What comes in and out of the hell-fires is no business of mine, unless it wanders into the rest of the house. The room and the door see to it that nothing ever does. Now though... now I had to make a decision that I never thought would be difficult: I had to decide whether or not I should leave the safety of my house, and of this world, and enter a the demonic plane.

"Beelze obviously ment me to find this," I thought, "so presumably it's relatively safe for me to go through, or at least close to the door."

"But what if," I added, "What if this is one last kick in the ribs? I never did sell him my soul, so what if he led me to the door out of spite?"

Somehow I doubted that. Not because Beezle isn't spiteful. No, it's because currently Beezle is my demon. That relationship is more important than you might think. It's a matter of pride for Beezle that he gets my soul and no one else. If he sent me as a mortal into the depths of hell and I somehow ended up selling my self to some other demon, Beezle would never live it down. And Beezle wasn't dead. Otherwise I wouldn't have been locked in my room.

If Beezle thought he could get back he wouldn't have led me to the door either. Obviously, he thought that whatever the risks behind it, this golden door was the only way for he and I to be reunited as tempter and temptee.

I walked tentatively toward the door, "Are you really going to do this?" I thought, "Are you really going to risk your life and probably your soul to get Beezle back in your house? Don't you think that maybe you should just sit back for 24 hours, and then throw a 'Beezle is Gone' party after the fact?"

"Well," I countered lamely, "he must think I'm capable, or he wouldn't lead me this way. Beside's he'll owe me one. It might make life better when he's back. Look, I'll just step through and if it looks too risky I'll just say I'm chicken and come right back."

With that final foolhardy thought firmly in mind I gripped the long silver handle. It was curved ever so slightly and felt comfortable in my hand. With measured pace I pushed it down and pressed softly against the ornate door. The moment it cracked open a magical gust of wind caught me from behind and sent me tumbling over the threshold. I tumbled through the air for several feet, landing on my back in the dark on something surprisingly soft and textile.  A ray of light above me revealed the door as I looked up, but the ray became feebler and vanished as the door closed with a subtle click.

----to be continued-------

Sorry, but I just scared my own pants off reliving the horrible realization that I was trapped in the dark in Hell of all places. We'll pick up on this again next week when I'm not quite so short of breath.

(Crimson Pact references used with the written permission of Paul Genesse. Get the anthology or risk your life submitting your own demon related experience at www.thecrimsonpact.com)

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Mansion House New Year

I have been visiting the mansion house for a very long time now, and I've been bringing you stories about it for 1 year 6 months, and 28 days, and I have done it with great satisfaction. It pains me, however, to admit to you or to myself, that I haven't truly cultivated a sense of duty about these reports. I've flitted from topic to topic, and only written on days that I found convenient, meaning almost never. Well no more. I've been awakened to my responsibility by a an ancient and nearly forgotten book in the library.

You see, today, or rather the day which has just ended, is the first one of this year, and last night was the last one of the last year. It's a time of new beginnings, not just for me but for everyone, everything, and particularly for the Mansion House. Every year, as the first light of the new year dawns upon the house, it undergoes hundreds of changes. Some are spectacular, others mundane, some permanent, and others instantaneous and fleeting. This year, for example, one tile of the marble floor of the library gained an extra vein of crystal; a staircase shifted locations; a room appeared and another  vanished (with a beloved family heirloom locked inside of course).

Any dust and grime that had not yet withered at Wadsworth's gaze vanished from existence, and new gargoyle appeared on the southern battlements, and the eastern cellar repopulated itself with various rare spirits - which I do not drink - and a particularly vibrant flavor of root beer - which I savor.

Most of the day, miniature fireworks have been sporadically exploding inside the fireplace; and our perennial phenofuax, a rare red bush, has been exploding in flame, burning to ashes, and growing again from the soot. (It would, of course do this in any house on the first day of the year. The whole cycle takes about one hour, so it does this approximately 24 times before sitting still and quiet for the rest of the year). Even more spectacularly Beezle slept quietly for the duration of the day. (There are some days of the year, like New Years and Christmas, that sap him of strength.)

At about midday, I walked into the library with Wadsworth for a private poetry reading. We had each selected a few verses that we found inspiring, along with one or two that we each had written. I would post them here, but I still find them private and personal. As we finished, the afternoon light spread into the room and little things changed here and there. Nothing major happened, with the exception of Griseus waking.

Griseus is a very old book—not a dusty one, Wadsworth has seen to that—he's full of arcane writings and lost spells and hidden knowledge. At least, that's what he'd like you to believe. Actually I believe quite a lot of it. I just also happen to also believe that Griseus exaggerates more often than he'd like you to believe. Griseus has been deeply asleep for a number of years, but as the light of the new year caressed his black leather cover his pages fluttered open in a wide yawn.

Wadsworth's eyebrows lifted, and so did mine. "Good morning Griseus," I intoned. The book snapped shut, and hovered a few feat above it's pedestal, before turning to face me. Griseus's is blank on his back cover and on his spine, but the front cover is adorned raised silver emblems - the masks of comedy and tragedy that are commonly seen on the walls of acting theaters. The mask of tragedy made a quizzical face and gave voice to the words, "Good heavens. Am I still here? I expected to wake somewhere a little more... prestigious."

I winked at Wadsworth and responded, "Yes, well, I did once consider pawning you a at a gypsy flee market a few years ago, but nobody offered enough to make it worth the trade. I suppose it's for the best. I needed the cash, but you've made an excellent ornament."

Griseus swelled up like a waterlogged journal, and I couldn't help but wonder whether he most wanted to protest the indignity of the flee market or the disgraceful idea of using him as a common decoration. To my surprise he did neither. Instead he compressed his pages, smoothed his cover and icily replied, "I will not dignify that obvious jib with a response. However I suggest that in the future, if you do not wish to find yourself lost in the nether, you address me as is befitting one of my station." Then he turned to Wadsworth and said, "Though the lad has grown older, he's not much more mature, is he."

"His lordship is light of heart, certainly," said Wadsworth.

I smiled wryly. "You're personality hasn't changed much either, Griseus. And that's why I know that when we leave this room for the comfort of the smoking room fireplace, you'll follow, but pretend that you don't like us much."

"There is nothing to pretend. Tombs as old as I have few thoughts to spare on the briefly lived existence of insolent mortals like you."

I turned and walked toward the door. "Then I guess you won't follow me and pester me about what's happened in the last few years."

Gristle sniffed loudly. "Interest in you, and interest in keeping up with current events are two separate and highly dissimilar concepts."

"Yes, yes, of course they are," I grinned.

As we entered the hallway Wadsworth paused and asked, "Shall I prepare a hot beverage and perhaps a light snack, Sir?"

"Yes thanks." I responded. "A cup of hot dark Belgian chocolate would be nice right about now."

"Very good sir," Wadsworth bowed, "I shall rejoin you shortly."

And so it was that I spend the rest of the evening, in the smoking lounge updating Griseus on current events. I told him a few anecdotes, showed him a few objects of interest, and read a few of these blog posts to him.

"How many of these 'blog' postings have you recorded?" Griseus asked, after I read to him from Dumpster Diving and What Bears Say when No One is Listening.

"Well, let's see," I said, and did a quick tally, "Looks like 22 of them,"

"I see. And for how long have you been producing them?"

"Oh, about a year and a half... something like that."

Griseus's tone took on a hint of annoyance, "Do you realize, your lordship, that in one and one-half years there are 78 weeks? That is nearly 18 months, or 546 days. Do you care so little about this place and its happenings that you have only made brief public mention of it on an average of little more than once each month?"

I cleared my throat. But I wasn't quite sure how to respond. I wanted to say, "I've been busy," but as I opened my mouth to say it, the words withered and died on my tongue. I have been busy. But not so busy that I couldn't write now and again.

"I've been writing a book," I hazarded through a tight throat, "It's about the mansion."

"Oh? And how for how long have you worked on it. Is it complete?"

"No." I said, "and I've been compiling it for much longer than it should have taken."

"I suspected as much. What is the last thing you reported about this house?"

I quickly surfed to Crimson Surprise on my laptop and read it out loud, pausing with shame at the incomplete ending.

"Mmm. Yes. This seems like a particularly consequential event." said Griseus, "Where is the concluding entry?"

"I haven't... I haven't quite -" I trailed off, but Griseus finished for me, "-gotten around to it?"

I nodded, and we sat in awkward silence for a short time.

Griseus sighed. Then he hovered in front of my face very deliberately said, "Please listen carefully, Lord Secrest. I believe that you began this project because you believed it was important as well as entertaining. You thought it was worth something, not only to you, but also to others. However, your negligence strips your writing of value and makes a mockery of it's subject. Some tasks are better left uninitiated than having been done the disservice of being started only to be left undone. This project is perhaps a task of that nature. Now, I think I will take my leave. I do not wish to distract you. It seems to me that you will wish to take some time to write before you sleep."

Griseus hovered quietly out of the room. Subdued, I began to write this entry. I have nearly finished, but I haven't written nearly enough. The new year is a time of new beginnings. It's a time for change, so here's my resolution. I will update weekly. Expect it. If I disappoint you, know that I have also disappointed myself along with a very old and very wise friend. But let's not dwell on that. Let's look forward, and raise a glass to the coming year. God bless both my endeavors and yours.