Horrid Lore Presents: Count Magnus Pt. I

Horrid Lore Presents: Count Magnus Pt. I

A Story by PWyates

Our interpretation of the classic tale of terror by the inimitable M.R. James.


Last night after the scantly attended funeral for my childhood friend Horace Mockridge, I was approached by his solicitor and without so much as a word was given a dossier, apparently on his latest book headed “Count Magnus and the Black Pilgrimage”.  It was filled with shuffled up crumpled papers, and some ghastly woodcuttings.  Horace had made his living travelling as a writer, publishing pieces on foreign countries compiling what you’d call a travel companion.  They followed a mundane formula, interviews with the most intelligible locals available and plenty of wily innkeepers; all standard fanfare for success in this tedious medium.   This particular piece however had me enthralled at first glance.  Doubtless it would have been his most interesting yet unbelievable piece of work to date…if he’d survived to finish. 

It took me about two weeks of diligent work to piece them together into any sort of linear story.  But the one it tells is unlike any I’ve heard outside of the works of Poe, or any of his other-worldly contemporaries.  Horace’s story was one he’d searched for a majority of his career; that of the Hellfire Club, or something close to it.  Attempting to uncover the elusive secret society my friend found a secret far more ancient, and terrible.

Horace was doing research on Scandinavia, spending a good deal of his time in the capital city Sweden, Stockholm.  It was here that his interest first peaked toward the ancient and feared De la Gardie family.  After learning of the manor house that had housed all of their descendants, located in a small village a day’s ride outside the city called Vestergothland.  Also of something called the “Black Pilgrimage” a journey to the condemned city of Chorazim taken by one of their most illustrious ancestors Count Magnus over a century ago.  Perhaps there was something behind this that would bring in quite the payday, even for a leman such as myself; an alien and rural sect of the shadowy Hellfire Club.  The prospect conjured up an eerie parallel to the Club’s mantra of “do what thou wilt”. 

Through their brief correspondence the family seemed more than happy in allowing my friend to investigate the house; so Horace decided to stay at an inn a little under a kilometer from the vast and foreboding estate.  This is where the crumpled stack of papers begins to form the narrative of this fateful journey…

“October 20th 1863, I’ve started my journey to the small village of Vestergothland in order to further research the De la Gardie family, and this mysterious ‘Black Pilgrimage’.  I had implored the boy at the front desk in my Stockholm hotel to call upon the chattiest cabbie available for my voyage, but it seemed my schilling tip was wasted.  I’d be more apt to hold conversation with a corpse than this silent driver who seemed extremely disheartened at the prospect of travelling to the tiny village. 

No matter how hard I tried the man would give only the vaguest of answers, and went completely silent upon the mere mention of the De la Gardie family.  So I rode in silence, attempting to enjoy the scenery.  Failing miserably due to the irksome annoyance brewing from the driver’s unwillingness to supply any information in the least, this town better be worth this nonsense.  Otherwise my final product will be little more than warning my readers to stay far away.

Several hours later I must admit to abandoning my skeptical thoughts, at the center of town there is a small church with a gigantic mausoleum of almost equal size behind it.  I did not even bother asking the mute driver; I knew this must have been the resting place of one of the most prestigious De la Gardie’s; Count Magnus.  After a few more glimpses of the prolific burial plot, I’d finally arrived at The Merry Moosehead’s Inn, which lived up to its name.  An enormous preserved moose’s head with an undeniable, yet creepy smile mounted over the front door.  As I exited with my luggage the driver whipped his neighs before I even had the chance to give him my thanks. 

‘Come right this way me young chap my name is Tom, I got a hot steak and some smooth whiskey waitin’ fer yah inside,’ the innkeeper told me; juggling all four pieces of my luggage.  Enough to tempt me, I followed him into the homely looking inn; to my delight the steak and spirits were both finer than I could have hoped for from such a modest establishment.

© 2017 PWyates

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Added on April 29, 2017
Last Updated on May 8, 2017
Tags: Horror, Thriller, Supernatural, James



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