Author Topic: The catacombs of Huberhaptreise  (Read 758 times)

Offline Boo

  • Posts: 53
The catacombs of Huberhaptreise
« on: August 13, 2010, 03:43:02 PM »
A short tale I wrote up a few weeks ago. Please feel free to give me your 0.02$ worth :)


Iím glad you could make it here my dear Ludwik. Please have a seat and something strong to drink because I have quite the story to tell you. Dear sigmar, I can hardly believe what I have been through myself. I will start with what happened when I awoke last nightÖ

When I awoke I found myself in an alleyway, surrounded on all sides by the lifeless stone walls of the great city. The night was cold and I could feel a sickening fewer growing in my body. As I looked around, my brain let the liberty of unconsciousness slowly depart, it was too dark to see anything but the black shadows of stonewalls surrounding me. Fumbling about in the dark, I tried to find my lantern that I somehow knew I had brought with me. I sensed a presence nearby and I was eager to spread some much needed light on my surroundings. As my hands searches the cobbled stones upon which I lay, I took some time to try and understand what was going on. I knew I was still in the city, the smell and noise around me was unmistakeable, but where in the city? The possibilities flowed through my head like the water in the river Reik. Handelsstrasse, Huberhaptsreise, Adolf Van Koenigsstrasse, Unkumpfplatz? No, I realized, those places would be far from were I was now. I backtracked my memories as I tried to find my lantern.

The night had started, I remembered, at Helmut Van Herrst manor on the slopes of Huberhaptsreise. The manor was built in founding days of the city, so it had a spacious garden with high walls surrounding it. Built to both serve as the home for the Van Herrst family as well as a bastion guarding the way to the top of Huberhaptsreise if the walls of the great city were ever breached. The Van Herrst family was held in high respect because of their ties to the Emperor and their huge family fortune. The manor itself is built of white stone, cut from the very quarry that rests in the valley below; it has two towers opposite each other, guarding the entrance to the halls within. Each tower sporting two windows on their tall, sleek walls. The white is mixed up with green from the wines that cling to the walls, climbing higher each year, desperately trying to reach the roof. The halls within are decorated by painting of all men of the Van Herrst family and other works of arts. Some rooms had pelts from game hunted in the local forest, others had finely crafted suits of armour and all manners of weapons. It was truly a delight to wander the halls of the Van Herrst manor.

I had been invited to Helmut Van Herrst on numerous occasions before and each had been as enjoyable as the next, but in recent times the old Helmut Van Herrst had begun to grow more and moreÖ should I say weird. The Van Herrst has always been a family of great statue and demagogue, a proud and beautiful people they were. But Herr Helmut was perhaps the exception to that. While he still possessed the keen intellect and wit of his predecessors, his looks did not match then man within. He was also prone to sickness and this did not help much in his search of a wife. So therefore he dug deep in books, becoming a bit more introvert than the next fellow, but still he is perhaps the most well educated man I have ever known. Many are the nights that we spent in his manor, discussing politics, literature and economics and almost all of our discussions ended with Helmut winning the debate. His understandings of these things are without match. But as I said, in recent times he has grown more and moreÖ weird. Three weeks ago, we started discussing the unknown, such things as ghosts and what not. As I posses little understanding of these forbidden subjects Helmut did the most talking. As usual there was me, Helmut and Emil there. When me and Emil left the Van Herrst manor, we felt a little uneasy and chocked by the change of Helmut.

Later the same week Helmut came to visit me, he now looked considerably older than he had been when me and Emil left him not four days earlier. He was all roused up and babbled to me something about finally finding the book he had been searching after for far to long than I cared to know.
Excuse me Ludwik, I just need a sip from this. Ah, much better. Now where was I? Oh yes.

He had found a book, but he refused to tell me what book it was. And now he invited me that same night to join him at his home as he would read from it for the first time. I went there, not knowing what to expect. But when we sat there, just me and Helmut he brought out a foul, stinking book. It looked like it was made from skin of some beast, which beast I could not identify. And when he opened it the candles which he had lit prior to my arrival grew dim and I could feel a distinct chill running down my spine. As he formulated the first words of the book I bade him to stop and I excused myself and went home. I felt that something was not right with that book.

Damned it all Ludwik, that book felt like Evil. Evil in its purest form. But I did not report poor old Helmut to the Burgomeister. What harm could old Helmut do, I thought.

Well I did not see Helmut for another two weeks after that. I thought that he had left town for some errand but I was mistaken. He had spent those two weeks studying the book and when I returned after my daily business one day I found a scroll containing a formal invitation to his house on my door. As I said earlier, the night started at Helmut van Herrst manor. It was only me this time. I thought that Helmut would once again read aloud from the tome but he explained to me that he did not keep the book in his house anymore. Instead he led the way to his basement, giving me a lantern on the way down. The odd thing was I could not see any of his servants that night so I felt confident that I carried my pistol with me.

It was not that I did not trust Helmut, believe me I did, but on the way over the evening had grown chill and an ill promising mist had begun to form around Huberhaptsreise as I made my way to the Van Herrst manor. As Helmut led the way down the dwindling stairs of his basement he begun to explain to me what he had found in that terrible book. He spoke of unending life and power beyond any human comprehension. I told him that he spoke of heresy and that if any agents of sigmar would find out, he would be burned at the stakes. At my remark he blatantly laughed. This made me uneasy and I reached for my pistol to feel its comforting touch as we walked downwards in the dark. Suddenly the light cast by our lanterns shone upon an old oak door. Helmut stopped and reached for a key that hung on a chain to the left of the door. The room in which we were standing was empty, save for the stairs and the door. The air was damp and hard to breathe and by sigmar I swear it felt like someone was watching us. Helmut opened the door and it swung outwards on squeaky hinges. Our light now shone down a corridor which I could see led to yet another door. When we walked through, Helmut locked the door behind us. When I questioned him about this he said that he wished not to be followed. When I asked by who, he did not answer me.

As we walked through the corridor Helmut told me that when the manor had been built there had been a labyrinth of tunnels beneath Huberhaptsreise, filled with ancient barrows and graveholes, carved from the raw rock of the hill by the ancestors of our proud people. By the order of his ancestor, a Herman Van Herrst, the barrows and graveholes were sealed of and made accessible only by the means of his manor. We now came upon the second door and Helmut opening and closing it behind us in the same manner as the first one. To my surprise we now stood in a chapel of Morr, where several coffins lay. On the walls there were written the names of the Van Herrst. I also saw an empty place where I guessed it was supposed that Helmut would one day be buried. The room was by my estimation some thirty foot across and twenty foot wide, with plenty of space between my head and the ceiling. In the far back of the room there were two gates. They were made of black iron and locked by heavy padlocks and chains. Helmut opened the one on the left and we went through. This time he did not bother to lock it behind us.

I could now feel the air getting lighter and easier to breathe. Helmut, as if he could read my thoughts, said that this tunnel led outside again, through another building further down the slopes of Huberhaptsreise. Suddenly he stopped and so did I, listening to the sound of my hearth beating in my head. Helmut looked at me and we hurried onwards. Soon we came upon a flight of stairs that took us up and out through a grave chapel in a cemetery that I do not know the name of. It looked like no-one but the poorest of folk would be buried here and Helmut now headed straight for a building which lay in the middle of the graveyard. I stood there for a moment; as if I was dumbstruck by the strange and grotesque place he had led me. This was the moment I decided to draw my pistol, because I now had a growing fear in my hearth. I looked about me and saw the moon high up in the sky had turned itís face down to shine upon me and I now hurried across the graveyard in the direction that Helmut had gone. As I walked between the graves I could see that some were freshly dug, some were empty and some looked like they had been dug up again. I thought that this must have been the works of graverobbers or the like, for who would else dig up the bodies of those buried? I could hear Helmut now, as if he was talking to himself, saying strange words which I could barely hear. I stopped once again, listening in on the old, now more frightening man. These are the words I heard him say. Almost as he was chanting them over and over again;

Kom na my, eters van die dood

Donít ask me what they meant, I have no clue but I stood there for a full five minutes I think, just listening to the voice of Helmut van Herrst. I was mesmerized, but I finally got hold of myself and walked in to the building. Let me tell you Ludwik, that Iíve never seen the sight which I now saw ever before in my life. I screamed at the start I got when I entered and saw Helmut bent of that grizzly book. His hair looked more gray than it had just moments before and his posture was no longer that of a human, but he was now slumped and bent like a twisted branch of some evil tree. As my scream echoed over the chanting of Helmut I noticed that the moon shone less bright as clouds gathered above. I could not speak where I stood and what happened next I canít say if it is real or if I lost my mind.

All around me I could hear the sound of claws upon stone. From underneath me I could hear unhuman voices sounding, barking almost in the darkness. I broke from the spell which had held me immobile and I turned to look back the way we had come. There I could see in the light cast by my lantern stood a creature so hideous that I almost vomited at the sight of it. It was like a degenerate human, bent forward with eyes as crazy as the wild starved dogs that you sometimes see in the poor neighbourhoods. And I swear that it looked at me with those crazed eyes. Itís horrible form was sickly greenish hue and from itís clawed hands dripped a black slime. I swear to you Ludwik, that thing was no further away from me than that fireplace over there. I screamed for Helmut but I got no reply, I glanced backwards at my old friend but he now stared in to the ceiling with glassy eyes, his mouth uttering soundless words. I looked back at the creature in the graveyard. It now smiled at me and as it made a move I raised my trusted pistol and squeezed the trigger. I thank sigmar that he blessed my bullet because I hit home and the thing scuttled away with a scream so horrible I turned and ran. I had no idea where to run so I just let my instincts guide me.

I ran and ran and suddenly I was running between the stone walls of the streets, not before long I slipped and fell, hitting my head on the cobbled stones and blacked out. When I awoke I found my lantern again and with it I could now find my way home. As soon as I got back home I alerted the guards and they immediately sealed of any access to Van Herrst manor. But let me tell you Ludwik, they broke down the door in the basement to search for Helmut van Herrst but they could not find him. They walked the same catacombs as I had done but found no trace of the old twisted man. They could neither find their way to the cemetery that I spoke of earlier, how unlikely that it may sound. They bricked up the entrance from the basement of Van Herrst manor to the catacombs, but I know that there are other ways out Ludwik. They could not find it however, and I cannot remember which way I ran in my fear.

As I understand it, there are several old cemeteries and graveyards in the slum. I know what I saw Ludwik and as long as I have no proof of Helmut Van Herrst demise I cannot live in this city. Tomorrow I will leave and never come back, but believe me, I have a feeling that this city has not seen the last of Helmut Van Herrst.
Shadow of Drakwald - The tale of the 32nd Army of Middenland

Offline Castozor

  • Posts: 377
Re: The catacombs of Huberhaptreise
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2010, 09:58:26 AM »
I like your story a lot Boo. Is it a prologue to a longer tale or just a one-time short tale?

Also, I love your use of the Dutch language.  :wink: