THE MASKS OF THE THOUSAND FACES

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A 19th century tale of horror!

Submitted: August 02, 2016

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Submitted: August 02, 2016

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Non mortem timemus, sed cogitationem— We do not fear death, but the thought of death—Seneca Qualis artifex pereo— What an artist dies with me—Nero

Perhaps you will deem me mad in the end, or even question the relevance of my tale—but I am not mad at all. I was a witness to the vivid madness that endured in that horrible, horrible, castle of the helpless clamours of the destined to death. If I had known the unbearable terror that awaited me upon that grisly night, I would have never—never—visited that atrocious abode of the lingering souls of anguish and despair. Therefore, I will proceed to relate this enthralling, chilling, peculiar tale of horror; but at your discretion. The night was tenebrous and cold, when I had arrived by carriage to the castle of the count, who had requested my service as a solicitor. Thus, I will endeavour to make a thorough and accurate description of this ancient Moorish castle that stood erect on the top of a hillside, towering over the village of Almodóvar. It was broad and colossal in structure, and its high walls full with rows of cuspidate spikes, and flanked by square towers—eight magnificent towers of the Caliphate that overshadowed the hill and the intimate balcony. I could not forget the view of the watchtowers, as I walked through the opening. The numerous cypress trees that abounded the castle full of fantastic wonders of blooms, such as poppies and daisies in the patios. The castle in its entirety was surrounded by massive moats and an extensive river that flowed, from the village onto the rest of the province. However, what was more prominent in the middle to be seen by the naked eye, was this impressive coat of arms that I stared at intriguingly. I had been told of the unique splendour of the castle, and its powerful image that imposed upon the small village below the hillside; but never—never—did I imagine such ghastly sequence of dread, I would experience afterwards. I was forewarned by the villagers of the ghost of Zaida who dwelt in the castle, and the frequent echoes that originated from the castle as well. I was ill-prepared to confront the deplorable madness that had happened, in that awful asylum of the insane. Herefore, I will continue with the narrative of the tale that I am presently describing. Soon, I stepped off the carriage and headed toward the front gate of the castle, as an odd fellow had greeted me at the entrance. From the distance, I assumed the stranger to be the count who had requested my service; but quickly, I would be mistaken, and discover that the individual who greeted me was not the man who I had believed to be. The elderly man was merely, the caretaker of the castle, and when I had asked about the nobleman I had sought, his response was timidly only, " He is presently sleeping, sir!" His answer was not the reply that I was expecting. I had entered the primeval castle, and was escorted to my chambre; but not before, I was forewarned this time by the caretaker that it was better for me to not wander in the castle alone—for what reason I do not know. A selcouth fellow was this caretaker who spoke few words, and was shrewd and discreet in his comportment. The chambre itself was cold and clammy, as I could feel the strong chill at once. Perhaps, because of the lofty heights it was situated, and the proximity of the Guadalquivir River. The wooden shutters were closed too; for nothing could enter it seemed, and steel chains were used to keep them firmly shut. I was told by the caretaker that they were closed, due to the constant activity of the fluttering birds at night who sought to enter the chambre. All of these trifling nuances, I had thought unusual; but once again, the worthy task that had brought me to the castle was urgent. I stood patient in my chambre, until I was summoned at last, by the count. The door had opened wide, and I had entered. He stood willowy and reserved; dressed in all black and had a walking stick by his side. He had a noticeable limp in his left leg. His look and decorum were austere but yet, formal. I could not help but wonder, and indeed, I did wonder, what was that scar that he bore upon the right lower side of his countenance? This abnormal and visible scar that, he seemed to conceal effectively. When I enquired about the scar, he was evasive, and wanted to only converse about the sale of one of his properties he own within the province. My curiosity swiftly, would be preoccupied with the possible transaction. We spoke at length about the property, and even though I had learned Spanish, he preferred to speak to me in English, in his distinctive accent. I had learned that his name was "Lord Monticello", yes—Monticello! And he was born in Italy, but migrated to Spain as a child, fleeing during the rise to power of Napoleon. He considered himself more Spaniard than Italian. He had studied in England while in his youth, and travelled much. He was a connoisseur of the world, and had visited much of Europe and even the exotic Americas. As for myself, I have only seen half of the world that this affluent man has seen before. I had pondered during a brief interval, the life of wealth and adventure, as a member of the high-born nobility. After the formal conversation we had and the transaction that was made for a property he had off the coast, I left. There would upon this night no wine, no feast, no mirth whatsoever. Instead, my only welcome to this venerable castle was but another stern warning. What was that stern warning you ask? He insisted I stay within my chambre. "It would be better sir, if you stood in your chambre." he quoth. When I asked the reason for this, his response was too vague, "There are many nights like this night, where the sound of the wind can be mistaken, for the sound of wailing." When I enquired about the significance of these words, he chuckled and then rejoined, "No need to fret solicitor—for it is the revelry of the villagers below that reach the walls of this castle". I returned to my chambre and sat in my quaint bed, wondering what was meant ere, by these daunting words of his. And my intrigue lingered and lingered, until I could bear no more. I began to hear obscure, eerie, loud and loud noises, coming from behind the door. First I heard the sound of some low murmurs, and then the sound of the whistling wind outside roaring, roaring, and roaring, until my curiosity consumed me like a flame, and I rose onto my feet to investigate this baffling occurrence. The sound of the echoes of voices resounded, and resounded, beyond the hollow walls of the chambre, as I walked toward the door. The muttering voices I could not decipher its origin at that moment, but yet, I felt it was probably, Lord Monticello and the old caretaker who served him whose full name I never knew, except for Antonio. Who else could be wandering in this castle of fear I pondered? What was even more harrowing to me was the fact that he had no other servants in the castle, just the old local caretaker. I bode my time listening to the noise of the footsteps walking within the corridor. Abruptly, the noise, the noise outside of individuals speaking had abated. Therefore, I seized the opportunity to explore this mystery. Even though I was warned not to go wandering within the castle, I did not heed the warning—for I was agog. Instead, I stepped outside my chambre to peek, and past the patio and archways. The corridor was empty—no sign or breath of anyone as I stood before the pillars. For a moment I hesitated, as the clamour of some wretched souls in agony, I began to hear nigh. I walked and walked within the corridor, until the clamours were nigh, nigh, and nigh. The cobblestone floor was rectangular and surrounded by a crenellated wall half kilometre in circumference. I looked around me, to see if I was being observed, but I had sensed no one. I had no true notion where the chambre of Lord Monticello was at—or where the caretaker slept. I was completely alone! But my intrigue surged by the minute, and the feeze accompanied my footsteps in the corridor. I walked past the chapel and the king’s hall, and what was conspicuous, were the armorial bearings hanging. I saw a staircase at the end of the narrow corridor leading onto one of the mighty eight towers. Drear and dim, with only the flickering light of the torches in the corridor, I climbed the staircase, until I had raught a sinister chamber that the villagers had proclaimed, as the Torture Chambre. After climbing, I saw the front rusty door that was secured and cumbrous with a latch, from the ancient dungeons of the Middle Ages. I crept onto the edge of the door, and heard the sound of those dreadful wails even more obstreperous. Slowly the door began to open, and I hastened, onto the corner of the corridor behind a drapery to hide myself. From out of the secluded chambre, stepped a man who was cloaked in a sable guise that did not permit me to identify the stranger. I had assumed it was most likely to be the old man the caretaker; but yet, the little I observed of him, he was much shorter, and did not walk with a limp like his master Lord Monticello. How could I forget that limp that was seen with his every step taken? I felt even the stench of his breath, the stench of Death! He walked passed unaware of my presence—or was he pretending, and was attempting to lure me into his chambre of demise? I tried to maintain my composure, but I started to fret, to fret, and to fret and thus I shivered, shivered, shivered! I took a deep breath of my own, and made the decision that I would enter the mysterious chambre of death. The door was left open by him, and I entered not knowing the peril that was awaiting me. The chambre was Stygian and ghostly and nothing else but dark and grim. The fire of the torches inside were burning and burning, and the stench of death was surging and surging. Then as I got closer, closer inside the chambre, the moans and groans increased. I saw what most humans fear to see ever, the graveyard of the dead—the Plutonian Hades of the condemned! Rotting remains of corpses heaved in piles, and the disfigured faces used as masks laying upon the table aside. Dissevered limbs and human beings still alive; agonising in their trauma of being peeled and sliced alive, by a madman whose whims of delight would be as repulsive as his guise. O the rotting putrid flesh flayed, by a wrought saw and sharp axe covered in blood. The blood, the blood, how could I forget the dripping drops of the innocent who perished? Am I mad still you ask? No mere mortal could relate this tale, without being aghast, with what he witnessed, and live to tell the tale afterwards. But you see, I am no ordinary or simplistic man. I am as you will quickly discover, a rather intelligent and astute fellow. O the tale of horror let me not interrupt any more. Where was I? O I remember now. I was in the chambre of execution shocked with the sight of such disgust, and the wails—o the wails I forgot, began to deafen my ears that they started to bleed, as blood came pouring from my ears! Suddenly, I ran out of the gruesome chambre as fast as I could, but I was trapped by that murderer, Lord Monticello, who grabbed me at once, in the corridor. "Let me go, you wretched fiend!" I yelled. I fought and had resisted, but when I grabbed his nose, his face began to peel off, and what I saw next, was a man—with no face at all! His face was malformed and the skin was drooping—for he had no nostrils or eyes. His sockets had no eyes balls! The intensity of the shock and wear of my brain had caused me to panic. I fell onto the floor, and when I awoke, I was greeted by Lord Monticello, who had the face of another poor soul as his mask. I was bound onto a chair, as he stood before. "Now, now, my dear fellow, do not resist, and think of this as nothing but a mere nightmare that is haunting you in the night!" He repeated this over and over, till I screamed out loud, "Devil, be gone!" I was able miraculously to regain my sanity for a brief period of time, allowing me to ask him the question that I failed to fully understand. Why? "Why did you flay the skin of the dying, and use the faces as masks?" He was direct, and confessed his reasons, "For my whims of delight, for they are as evident, as my madness!" O yes, the madness, the horrid madness that I once before alluded to. You see, the madness was the only truth behind this tale of horror! The old caretaker did not exist, for he was nothing more than the friar who took care of me, and Lord Monticello was nothing more than my inquisitor by that name; and the fearful castle despite being a castle was nothing more, than the asylum of my TORTURE CHAMBRE. The voice asking the questions was the inquisitor, who was to condemn me and not my voice. And those haunting wails of the dying souls were my horrendous victims voided of volition, and immured in this perpetual asylum that was my castle. His dire warning you might enquire was nothing more, than the inquisitor warning of the imminent danger of my release onto the world. And those unsightly human masks—yes! The hideous and heinous masks the fiend flayed and wore were the faces of those who I slew before. Eventually, I was to be one of the last proscribed of the Spanish Inquisition. You ask again, if I am mad? Ha Ha! And those whims of delight were the whims to kill, yes, kill, kill—that ghastly voice in my brain, getting louder and louder, "No! avaunt the demons of the night!"

http://www.fromtexttospeech.com/output/0650494001470256664/14830724.mp3


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