The next few months passed quietly. [Blimp: I cannot begin to describe how marvellous it was to be back in England, and to wile away time in the Club and on my Estate. How I missed these green and pleasant lands.] Sir Douglas sent a letter to the Travellers' Club and they reinstated my membership. [Blimp: this came as somewhat of a surprise to the rest of us after Tweeny's rude and uncouth behaviour during our final audience with Sir Douglas.] It was May when a young gentleman called Nathanial Hardwicke came to the Travellers' Club and requested an audience with us. His uncle, Colonel Hardwicke had died in suspicious circumstances and he wished us to help investigate his death. [The Colonel was a fine man, a credit to the Army and Empire. I was saddened to hear of his death. Of course at this time I did not know he was another of those fools who actually gave credence to all this occult poppycock. Nevertheless, his death was a sad affair.] Nathanial's mother had died in childbirth and he did not know his father. He had grown up with his uncle, the Colonel, and they lived in a house in Kensington. His uncle had been murdered near the village of Partrishow in Brecnokshire where he had a house. He had been struck on the head with a blunt instrument and stabbed several times. Fred went to get some maps of Wales and reported he was followed by people he thought were Brothers of the Skin. We went to the house in Kensington and met Nathanial's solicitor. The solicitor said the Colonel did not want Nathanial to know about the estate in Wales while he was alive. Nathanial said he did not know who his father was, and there was no name on the birth certificate. [Blimp: we were all greatly intrigued by the Colonel wishing to keep knowledge of this Estate secret from young Nathanial.] The following day Blimp received a letter from a Howard Jones which said he was a friend of the Colonel and also had an interest in his death. [Blimp: quite why this lunatic wrote to me never really became clear to me. What is clear is that the man was completely mad!] He wished to meet and discuss the matter. I had heard of the man. He was an explorer who had written some stories. In the evening we went to see him. When we got there Blimp found out there was no dinner being provided, so he left with Julian to go back to the club to eat. [Blimp: I rest my case. He requested a 7pm audience with us but had provided no refreshments. We weren't in Bulgaria any more and I wasn't prepared to stand for such rudeness.] Howard had met Hardwicke in Africa. He did not trust Nathanial. He had received a parcel and letter from Colonel Hardwicke ten days ago. The letter talked about an item which was found in the foothills of the Black mountains in Wales, which he had sent to Howard to see if he could make sense of it. The parcel had in it a rectangular chunk of obsidian. On the surface were some hieroglyphs. I took a rubbing of it. [Blimp: it was at this point that I started to expect the Colonel of having occult leanings. And he was still on active service!] I then went back to the Club with Fred and met up with Blimp and Julian. The following day Julian went to his library and translated it. It read "We who remember the ruined great cities honour their memories with this relic, for it is a reminder that those cities were once and shall rise again". [Blimp: more mumbo-jumbo.] The following morning I took the train to Wales with Blimp, Fred, Howard and Nathanial. Julian stayed behind as he had some business to attend to. The journey was uneventful. We left the train at Abersyonan then hired a carriage to take us to Partrishow. The journey took about an hour. A carriage followed us to the village. Blimp had booked a room in the local inn. Nathanial had arranged for the rest of us to stay in his Estate, though he did not actually know where it was. [Blimp: how typical of the boy: he had his head so buried in books that he failed to make even the most basic provisions for the trip. I should clarify that I had refused his offer to pay my expenses and offered my services gratis in memory of the Colonel. The rest of my colleagues were less charitable and had negotiated expenses with Nathanial. Their error was to rely on him to organise those expenses. Thus they arrived at the Inn to discover that it was fully booked and Nathanial had no idea of the condition of his Estate. I, on the other hand, had sent Jennings up earlier to procure a room. Once again Army organisation and common sense triumphs over book lore and excessive studying. Even that lunatic Jones had had the foresight to book a room.] I went to talk to the local policeman with Blimp and Nathanial. He was quire rude and unwilling to discuss matters with us, so Blimp went off on one of his rants until he backed down and let us in. [Blimp: these working class oiks need to be reminded of their place every once a while. Even more so if they are Welsh.] Hardwicke had been knocked from his horse and stabbed multiple times. He had not been robbed. The body had been found by a sheep herder. After a lot of arguing the Constable finally granted permission for me to perform an autopsy on the body which was being kept in the church. Fred found some old bloke in the bar that wanted to talk about Hardwicke. He had bought the Estate 20 years ago. His sister Clarissa had stayed with him. One day she got attacked in the woods and Hardwicke wanted the locals to search for the attacker. Nine months later she had a son. She supposedly died in child birth, but this old man did not believe it, and he suggested speaking to the Llewelyns who had been the servants at the time. Hardwicke took the son and returned to London, only recently having returned with the intention of selling the Estate. He had come to the village to post a letter, and was murdered on his way back to his Estate. He thought Hardwicke had been killed by the Twi legged tegg, whatever that is. [Blimp: more mumbo-jumob. And worse, Welsh mumbo-jumbo.] I went to the church and performed an autopsy on the body. He had been killed by a stab wound to the heart. Based on the bruising he had fought back, likely there was multiple attackers. He had been bitten multiple times in the shin. The bites were poisonous, and had been made by a creature with a mouth full of teeth and two fangs. The attackers appeared to be smaller than him. [Bilmp: Turkish dwarves. I had read about them before - they were very popular with some Ottoman Sultans.] While I was performing the autopsy Blimp and Fred examined his possessions. He had a Webley revolver which went off when Fred picked it up. Blimp took it and also fired it. Blimp then passed it to me carelessly and it was fired a 3rd time, hitting Blimp, who got upset and started blaming me. [Blimp: I warned Tweeny that the damn thing had a hair-trigger but it didn't stop the ham-fisted fool shooting me in the shoulder. If it had been anyone other than Tweeny I would have been REALLY upset.] I sewed him up. Fred threw some water over the revolver which steamed. It must have got hot from being fired. We went back to the Inn for some dinner. As it was getting late I arranged to share Jennings' room. [Blimp: it was at this point that my colleagues started to regret relying on Nathanial to organise this expedition.] I went out to tell the stable master we would not need horses until the morning and saw someone lurking outside by the stable, who disappeared into the shadows when he realised I had seen him. [Blimp: I should clarify that Mr. Selous had previously contacted the stables to arrange horses for the journey to the Estate, but by the time we completed our business in the village it was too late and too dark to risk the journey.] As it was getting late I stayed with Jennings' overnight. Fred and Nathanial stayed in the kitchen. While I was having breakfast the following morning Fred went to find Howard, and found him murdered in his room. His stone had been stolen. [Blimp: on the positive side, it meant that a room had become available.] The attacker had gained entry through the window and stabbed him while he slept. The wounds looked to have been made by the same weapon as that which killed Hardwicke. He also had been bitten. Blimp found a crude object made of twigs and leaves under the bed. By the window was four sets of footprints. They were quite small and probably made by children or midgets. [Blimp: clearly Turkish dwarves.] Julian had travelled overnight and arrived as we were finishing our investigations. We went to find the village doctor. His name was Dr Reese Williams. We asked him about Nathanial's birth. When his name was mentioned the Doctor looked scared. After some questioning he admitted Clarissa had been attacked in the wilderness. He was called in to help her, and discovered she was pregnant. She did not leave the house during the pregnancy and appeared to have lost any will to live. When the child was born she went berserk and tried to kill it. When restrained she begged them to kill the little cow monster. The following day she asked to see the child. When he was brought to her she went to attack him with a knife and Reese had to subdue her. The following morning she was found to have hung herself. Hardwicke then took the child to London. [Blimp: I was forced to live in this god-forsaken part of the country I would probably try to kill myself as well.] We then rode to the Llewelyn's farm. Nathanial came with us. The wife claimed to know nothing, but when asked about pixies [Blimp: not by me I might add!]she said she had seen a childlike creature with green eyes prodding her cows. These country folk believe such silly folktales. She repeated that Clarissa had tried to kill Nathanial. Nathanial looked disturbed by this. We then headed the Estate. On the way Fred said there were tracks of several horses and suggested we took the long route through the woods. On the way Fred said he could see something in the woods. As we approached we could see an overgrown farmhouse. Fred went inside to look around. He found some sort of ornament made of twigs and a feather. When he showed it to Julian, Julian un-surprisingly announced it was made to celebrate a nature god. Julian then insisted Fred put it back where he found it. Julian announced we were being watched, and Nathanial claimed to have the same feeling. We continued on to the Hardwicke Estate. [Blimp: I was thoroughly fed up by this point. A journey that should have taken under an hour had taken all morning because of Messrs Selous and Fitzpatrick fooling around in the farmhouse.] It was overgrown with weeds but the house looked structurally sound. Inside the house was furnished. It looked like an attempt to clean had been made, but mostly it was still very dirty. Julian looked round the study but found no books of interest. On the rafter in the master bedroom were marks where Clarissa had hung herself. I rode back to the village with Blimp to have lunch. [Blimp: I famished at this point having missed elevenses because of the dithering at the deserted farmhouse. There was no food on the Estate and I'd given Jennings the day off as payment for having to share his room with Tweeny the previous night. So there was no luncheon to be had, and a gentleman can't be at his best if he misses luncheon.] The others chose to stay, and we had to bring them sandwiches back. In the afternoon we looked round the out buildings, but found nothing. I took a snooze in front of the kitchen fire with Blimp. Julian and Fred played in one of the sheds until the roof collapsed. The others decided they did not want to stay at the Estate after all as they had no food. [Blimp: young Nathanial had no thought to provide them any food despite expecting them to spent the night at the Estate. Tsk!] We rode back via the river to look at the site of Hardwicke's murder. As we arrived at the river we were hit by gunfire. My horse bolted, as did Julian's. Fred, Blimp and Nathanial, all of who had dismounted, dived for cover. I got my horse under control but Julian was thrown off his. They fired again, killing the horses of Blimp and Fred. I spotted a shooter and started circling round behind them. Fred fired at them, injuring one, and Blimp managed to retrieve Fred's spare rifle from his dead horse. [Blimp: alas my trusty Bulldog was not able to handle such distances to my targets.] I galloped up to them and let loose with my shotgun, killing one and wounding another. I got shot in return, but Blimp succeeded in killing another, and Fred killed a third. I then pulled my pistol and killed the last. [Blimp: it was a truly heroic solo charge by Tweeny and made me proud to remember all the time we had shared in the Army together. The man may have his faults, and they may be legion, but there is no doubting his Englishman's courage.] The others came over. One of the bodies had an elephant gun which Fred identified as the one stolen from him in Constantinople. We rested for a few days to recover from our wounds. We then returned to the site of Hardwicke's murder to continue our interrupted investigations. On the way Fred spotted another ruined building by the edge of the river, and another by the foothills. Fred and Julian went to look inside the one by the river. They saw a snake which Julian shot. There was nothing else inside. Julian said the snake was a European viper, but it just looked like an adder to me. [Blimp: I was beginning to loathe the sight of another deserted building as each seemed to offer many hours fruitless distraction to Messrs Selous and Fitzpatrick. This time, however, I had come prepared with a copy of The Times for company.] Fred then insisted on going to look at the other ruin he had seen. Just in front of the ruin was an unusual spread of stones, laid in a circle, with another twig ornament in the centre. Fred looked at them more closely and found one of the stones had something carved on it. Julian said it was a character similar to what was carved on Howards' stone. Julian and Fred went inside to look around and found an entrance to a cellar. I lowered Fred down on a rope. He found a tunnel from the cellar, about 3 ft wide. Julian went down to have a look as well. By the tunnel Julian found a small spear. Blimp suggested the reasonable theory that midgets must have dug the tunnel. [Blimp: more specifically, Turkish dwarves.] Blimp then climbed down into the cellar. I went to find a tree to tie the rope to, then climbed down after them. Julian decided there might be a grave here and started digging into the floor. Blimp started crawling down the tunnel. Fred followed him. I helped Julian dig and found some bleached bones. They looked to be from a child of about 8 – 10 years of age. I dug further until I found a skull. It appeared to be a deformed child's skull. The bone was unusually soft and had some features that looked more reptilian. Typically Julian seemed to think it was the skull of "one of the little people". I kept the skull, and kicked dirt back into the hole. We then crawled down the tunnel to find the others. We found them in a cave full of bones. Fred was searching through them. I had a look at the bones. Most appeared from animals, but a few were human. Some looked very old. There were two more tunnels leading from the cave. We headed off down the right hand tunnel. There were other tunnels leading off it, but all were too small to fit down. At the end we found another cave with a table at the far end. On its surface was dried blood, and looked like it had last been used a few weeks ago. This cave also had two exits. We went straight ahead. After a few minutes we felt a breeze, then saw some light. We looked outside and found we were much closer to the mountains. Fred seemed to think we were closer to the mountains than we should be. I do not think he kept a good track of time while we were underground. We were about to follow a path Fred had spotted when Fred suddenly slipped and fell back into the hole we had emerged from. He climbed back out then we started following the path. It lead up towards a gully in the mountains. The gully was overgrown and dark. Along the path was more of the twig ornaments. Finally we came to a grotto. In the middle of the grotto was a cairn which was covered in stones arranged in a complex pattern. The stone stolen from Howard was on the top. I got a feeling of being watched and when I looked round I got a glimpse of a child in the trees. [Blimp: my Turkish dwarf theory was thus slightly off. However, I had also suggested the possibility of children whilst Tweeny was performing the autopsy on the Colonel.] Julian fired wildly into the trees. Fred and Julian jumped behind the cairn. Blimp called out that Julian did not mean to fire, then fell over. [Blimp: I was appalled to think that my colleagues were firing on children. I did everything in power to stop my maniacal colleagues to calm the children. Alas, I failed and if other events had not overtaken us I believe I would have terminated my acquaintance with the others - even Tweeny - over this inhuman outrage that they wilfully committed.] A couple of deformed children jumped out of the trees in front of me and Blimp. Another jumped down near Fred, and a forth landed on Julian's back. Some small spears and stones were also thrown from the trees. I shot the one which attacked me. Fred blasted another to pieces with his shotgun, then started running from the grotto. I shot and killed the one attacking me. Blimp followed Fred. Julian pulled the one from his back then started running. Having been hit by a number of stones and spears, I thought it a good idea to follow the others. At the entrance to the grove was a woman who ordered us to stop, drop our weapons, and drop to our knees. As the children had stopped throwing thinks I holstered my revolver. Blimp knelt down. [Blimp: I was prepared to make any sacrifice to stop my colleagues murdering more children.] She demanded to be taken to Nathanial. I asked who she was and was told her name was Helen. She said she was the god of the children, and kept referring to us as mortals. Clearly she was delusional. She said her children had killed Howard and Hardwicke as they had stolen 'the stone'. Fred, who had taken the stone from the Cairn produced it and handed it back to her. She demanded he lick her boots, which he did. [Blimp:I can't really account for the other's willingness to obey her. I can only describe what I perceived, and that was this lady exuded some kind of power that was almost impossible to resist.] Then she demanded he took off his clothes. As Fred started getting undressed, she turned her gaze on Blimp who had been babbling on to her. He screamed in pain. [Blimp: and here I must end my narrative and relinquish all my claims of disbelief at anything "other-worldly". This lady merely looked at me and the venom in her eyes filled my body with excruiating pain. This was no woman; this was no human; this was no mortal. In that one instance the veil dropped from eyes and I at least saw what some of my other colleague's had already seen: that alongside our reality there existed other much stranger realities. This creature was undeniable proof. Tragically our encounter with her was to come at a terrible cost our reality that we had so long been dwelling in, blissfully unaware that this was not the only reality.] She also dis-robed, but when Fred showed no signs of arousal she got dressed again, then repeated her demand to be taken to Nathanial. Julian continued to argue with her and suddenly screamed with pain as she stared at her. Blimp and Fred who had been walking away slowly suddenly started sprinting away. Deciding that was probably the best action I followed them. We got to where the horses had been left, but they were not there. Fred decided to go and warn Nathanial. I headed to the village with Blimp. We ran all the way to the village. I was surprised Blimp was able to keep up the pace. When we got to the village Blimp was acting strangely and wanted to leave for London immediately. He told Jennings to pack then rode to Abersyonan. I followed him. The train was not due to leave for 4 hours, so Blimp hired a coach instead. The journey back to London took six hours. When we arrived Blimp went home. It had been a long days travel so I also decided to do likewise.
Last updated: February 27, 2014