I write this in haste as it may very well be my last. Should someone find this I hope it may shed some light on what happened here.

My day started in quiet meditation just as it has done this last month or so, and after some time I managed to quieten my mind and put the events of yesterday in order. Jennings welcomed me to the breakfast table just as he had the day before.
After discovering treachery at the shrine and our subsequent brush with the beast, he informed me that our task for the day was to find out why the candle had been extinguished, by whom and why it was still unlit. I do not think any of us expected this.
By Jennings request, Horst brought us first to the house of the Beierle family. Martin Beierle, being the son of Thomas Schwytzer and Elizabeth Beierle had certainly made a name for himself when alive. The house was not the biggest I have ever seen, but for this village it certainly showed its wealth. The house stood a respectable distance from the main body of the town and showed definite signs of paranoia.
All the shutters were closed and each bore symbols that were clearly drawn in haste. A large brush had been used for the most part, and from the style of the markings it was obvious they came from several different authors. Rudimentary charms hung from every available place and a smothering silence hung in the air. Had we known no better, we would have sworn the house had been deserted and vandalised.
As we approached the front door Horst reached to knock but Jennings caught his arm and silently indicated something at our feet. Almost a yard from the door, and clear in the dirt, were the impressions of two enormous canine paw prints. Not four but two, and each one was the size of a Bear print. No markings lead up to the spot and none lead away, it was clear that whatever had left them stood in that one spot and had not moved. After a little more scrutiny of these imprints my counterpart simply said in hushed tones,
“Last night”
There were no other marks or signs of this nature to be seen.
Jennings released his grip on Horst’s arm and indicated that he should knock. It was several moments before the door slowly opened a crack and an eye appeared in the gap. As soon as that eye fell on Horst the door was flung open and the young lady threw herself into the giant’s arms, weeping uncontrollably. The big man was a little taken aback, but soon saw the need to comfort the girl. When she finally looked up from his chest with reddened eyes she had a smile on her face, it was the smile of someone who had been a stranger to happiness for too long.
As we were lead inside it was clear that all cheer and hope had left this place. The furnishings and ornaments were rich indeed, but had been left to slip into such a state of disrepair that one would be forgiven the assumption that the occupants had simply up and left months ago.
We were shown to the sitting room where we met the only other occupant. He was a clean and well dressed man with a strong, healthy physique and a keen, sharp look to his eye. He may have come from wealthy stock but it was obvious that he had not succumbed to the sins of sloth and gluttony that can sometimes travel with the easy lifestyle that money affords.
Introductions were made and I found myself in the presence of Kristian Beierle, obviously the descendant of the Beierle family, and Sabine Goulde, the last remaining member of the house staff. Her reasons for staying were many.
What followed was a lengthy discussion in German. There were raised voices and hushed tones, tears from Sabine and anger from Kristian. Jennings remained calm throughout even though it was apparent, even to me, that he was asking some very trying questions. Several times I became aware that attention was being drawn in my direction by Jennings and was met by stern, inquisitive looks from Kristian and gasps from Sabine. I have no idea what this was about but I have come to trust my counterpart in certain respects and knew that this was one of his tactics for building trust in us.
Before long Jennings took to his feet and made clear indication that it was time to leave. To my surprise Sabine made a great fuss about me and seemed very interested in my wellbeing. I tried to be as gracious as possible but Jennings made it clear I should not refuse her requests of hospitality. In the end she made me a gift of a rather magnificent hooded travelling cloak with a great many buttons, tie backs and pockets which I am yet to find the purpose of. She seemed to take a great pride in the garment and Jennings told me later that she had made it herself for Kristian’s father. The finishing touch was a small but ornate brooch which fastened the loose hanging front tight around the neck and made the whole thing a marvellous shield from the elements.
We said our goodbyes and set our foot on the road again. It was then that Jennings related to me the main thrust of the conversation.
Kristian’s father had died several months ago in a hunting accident and his mother had died in child birth. Now at the age of 24 he was the only living member of the Beierle family. Superstition had driven the servants away the day his father died for they feared his accident had been brought about by the family curse. Sabine had chosen to stay because she and Kristian had been secret lovers for quite some time, something Kristian’s father would never have approved, and now she too has been shunned by her family for her affiliation with him. An affiliation she would not give up easily as, apart from her feelings for the man, she was also carrying his child.
Asking if they knew of anyone who may wish to harm them was a moot point. Now that the beast had been released the entire village was eager to see its terror brought to an end, this had sparked the general consensus that if all the members of the Beierle family were dead, the beast would leave the rest of the village alone. Almost everyone in the vicinity had the notion that killing Kristian would save their necks. None of them knew about the child Sabine was carrying.
The only reason Kristian was still alive it would seem, was that thankfully, nobody in the village had what it took to be a murderer.
It was then that Jennings informed me of our new destination. We were on our way to meet the lighter of the candle.
I noticed many of the landmarks I had seen yesterday as we walked the long forest roads to this place. It makes sense that the lighter of the candle should reside somewhere close to the shrine, but I felt dread stalking along the path behind me as my mind invented beastly shapes which lurked in every shadow and transformed each creaking branch into the scraping of claws on bark.
The light of the world swam in hues of darkening blue as the day crept towards its last hours and the oppression of the night started to creep up my spine. The world itself had become the beasts gaping maw.
It was not until I heard the noise that I realised just how much my imagination had been playing tricks on me. I could see from the reactions of my fellow travellers that I was not the only one to hear it. Horst froze in his tracks, the sound had come from behind us but he did not turn to look. He stopped stock still in his steps, so much so that I almost collided with his back.
I knew Jennings had heard it, but he did not stop, he simply grabbed my wrist and pulled me along behind him so that I might match his slow walking pace. He only took his eyes from the path ahead to look back at Horst and gesture that he should do the same. This seemed sufficient to shake the man from his paralysis and as he drew nearer I heard Jennings whisper several words in German from the corner of his mouth. Whatever he said seemed to bring our gargantuan companion fully back to his senses and he fell into step beside us.
Turning to me he said,
“It has been following us for quite some time but it has only now chosen to make its presence known. It is testing us. Just keep looking straight ahead and, whatever you do, do not acknowledge it. If you look back, it will strike”.
Needless to say, this did not fill me with confidence. We walked on in silence.
My ears strained to hear the thing that took such pleasure from this game. My imagination filled my mind with enormous, thick haired hands with great sharp claws that reached for my shoulder in the dark as I fought my instincts to keep my pace slow and purposeful. The occasional crack of a twig or drawn out rending of bark with claws was the only indication that the beast was still some way off. Its intent was clear, it meant to drive us out of our wits using nothing but the power of our own minds.
My heart lifted as we rounded the next corner. There in the distance, some 30 yards away was the glow of candlelight shining through an open door. This however, sparked a rash decision in our oversized guide.
Horst’s pace quickened and he started to move ahead of us. I heard Jennings hiss something in German but the giant had no ears to hear him. His brisk walk turned to a canter and then a jog, then a sprint. I did not need Jennings’ instruction to run but he gave it all the same.
The screamed command left his lips just as an earth shaking bellow tore the shadows apart and my instincts took over. The three of us ran as hard and as fast as we could, desperately seeking to cover the distance between us and the door before the beast closed in on us.
Horst was several yards ahead of me by now and between he and I was Jennings. Behind me was nothing but hungry shadows and the rhythmic pounding of four massive paws as they shortened the distance between us in huge bounds.
The door was getting closer and now I saw the reason for it being open. A young man, wearing a tunic and robe, was gathering logs from his outside wood store. Or at least he had been. He now stood as still as a statue with terror on his face and his arms full of firewood but as each step brought us closer something roused him from his torpor and he turned for the door. Spilling logs as he went, he made his way inside with haste. It was clear to us all that he meant to shut and bar the door behind him, leaving us to whatever plan the beast had in store. He was not quick enough.
Horst hit the door like a battering ram just as it closed. The force of him slamming against the woodwork flung the door wide and bore the young man to the ground, spilling the rest of his cargo as he went. Jennings flew over the threshold with me close behind him. I only just managed to throw myself around him as he stopped dead in front of me. He turned on his heels and put his shoulder to the closing door alongside Horst and, picking myself up again, my shoulder joined theirs in an attempt to keep the beast at bay.
No sooner had I set myself against it than the monstrosity was on us, barrelling into the door with such force that it almost took all three of us off our feet. It struck so ferociously that, upon meeting our resistance, it was thrown back giving us just enough respite to set our heels to the floor and our weight to the wood again as Horst slid home the huge bolt which spanned the width of the portal. The hammering that ensued was like nothing on earth. It was as if the very fury of nature fought to gain entry to this place and we three men were all that stood in its path.
My world was a cacophony of howls, snarls, thundering fists, screams of angry terror and splintering wood. Then a new sound joined the throng. Putting my back flat against the door I saw, standing in the middle of the room, the young man who had attempted to seal our fate. His clothes were dishevelled and his nose was bloody from the impact of Horst and the door. Around his neck was an odd bronze pendant on a long chain which he now held in front of him as he shouted a strange incantation over the din.
The wood shattered over my head and four claws, each one the length of my entire hand, erupted from a huge rend mere inches from my face. Had the boy not uttered his final words at that moment I am convinced I would not be here to write this now.
A screeching yelp pierced the deafening roar and the claws retracted as quickly as they had appeared. We heard galloping footsteps accompanied by receding yelps as the beast retreated back to the shadow. As Horst and I stood leaning against the door Jennings gingerly eased himself away, ready to bring his weight to bear again should the beast return. It did not.
I breathed a sigh of relief and so did my big companion and, as we stood leaning against the door for support, Jennings rounded on the boy. He took him by the throat and lifted him clean off his feet with one hand and slammed him bodily down on his dining table. It took me completely by surprise, but not as much as what happened next.
Jennings voice was like the boom of a crashing wave. His presence filled the room just as it had that day in my Captains office. Even though he was not looking at me I felt the blood drain from me and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The very colour and life seemed to retreat from the world around us, even the candles seemed to grow dimmer. Terror filled me again, but this time it was fear of the man I had come to call my friend.
The man’s voice filled my head, and then it stopped to be replaced with a silence the like of which I have never experienced, an all consuming void of sound. The only thing we heard was the faint trickle of water, a trickle that was coming from the boy’s robes to form a small yellow puddle on the floor. Jennings let out another flurry of booming German and the boy in his grip visibly shook at every syllable.
As I stood fighting my own stammering heart for room to breathe I felt the door behind me shaking. There was no growling or gnashing of teeth. This time the door shook with the weight of Horsts fear. He too could feel Jennings driving the life from the room and his face was ashen.
The silence was broken by a voice that sounded like the squeak of a mouse in comparison. The boy quavered under the gaze of this inhuman stranger, and he was right to do so. Jennings barked another sharp word that made the open room between us crackle with fear and hostility as the young man in his grasp did everything he could not to meet his eye. He may as well have tried to stop the beating of his heart.
His words came quietly and cautiously, but they came. If he showed any sign of letting up in his explanation Jennings seemed to swell with rage and fill the room to the rafters with terror.
Before too long the boy grew silent and, for all his persuasion Jennings seemed satisfied with what he had said. With one hand still full of the boy’s collar he pushed him off the table to land in a heavy heap on the floor where he gave him one last commanding look and the room, and my companion, returned to normal.
Jennings turned to me and spoke without even a flicker of the person he had just been. Nor did he offer any explanation as to what had just happened. It took me several moments to clear my head, as if waking from a nightmare, before I recognised the man in front of me and started to take note of what he had to say.
This boy was Sebastian Duerr, son of Thomas Duerr, The former lighter of the candle. It was at this point that Jennings surprised me by saying he actually felt pity for the boy.
The hunting “accident” that had claimed the father of Kristian Beierle had also claimed the father of Sebastian leaving him here alone with only his duty and what his father had told him needed doing. He had been forced to bury his father in the woods as he had no money and the villagers, driven by fear and superstition, had turned a blind eye to the tragedy and would not allow his body to be interred in the sacred earth of the church yard. Sebastian blamed the Beierle family for the death of his father and hated every member of the village for the disrespect they had shown his family, the family that had kept them safe for so very long.
At this point I jumped to the conclusion that his motives were clear and that simple revenge was behind it. Jennings drew me up short on this and did not hesitate to put me straight.
Revenge, it would seem, was the smoke screen behind which Sebastian hoped to hide his true motive. His reason for releasing the beast was far simpler and not nearly as elegant. He was in love with Sabine and wanted her for himself. What better way to accomplish this than to eliminate the competition and gain justice for such a wrongdoing in the process.
This boy of 15 had unleashed something so terrible as to defy rational explanation upon an entire village of innocent people, in the hopes of winning the heart of a woman he had met only a handful of times and destroy what was left of the Beierle family for leaving him so alone. His plan was to wait until the beast had dispatched Kristian and then, in a show of valour, he would entrap it once more and win the heart of Sabine, simple and foolish. I did not get the chance to offer my thoughts on this however.
As I had sat at the dining table listening to Jennings recount the conversation, the boy had busied himself preparing some refreshment, partly as small means of apology but mostly at Jennings’ command.
I had just lifted a cup of tea to my lips when the boy launched into such a fit of hysterics that I thought we may have to call on Horst to render him unconscious just to calm him down. I sat dumbstruck as the boy hopped from foot to foot, pointing at my chest and screeching at the top of his voice. Jennings got to his feet and grabbed the boy by the wrist of his outstretched hand and, with his other hand at the scruff of the boy’s neck, took hold of his full attention.
There were words exchanged in Sebastian’s common tongue and Jennings turned to look at me. The reason for the boy’s excitement was the brooch that Sabine had used to fasten my cloak about my neck. Apparently it was a very old Beierle family heirloom. So old in fact, that it had belonged to Elizabeth Beierle herself. Sebastian was convinced that this brooch had drawn the beast here.
There was another heated discussion in German but this time I guessed its topic. He wanted us gone from his home as he knew the beast would return if we stayed. Jennings was having none of it. He didn’t need to put on the show that he had subjected the boy to earlier; he merely issued a few stern words and gave the boy a look that rooted him to the spot.
As the boy moved off to complete the tasks Jennings had just set him, my associate turned to me and filled in the gaps. The incantation the boy had used to drive the beast off was weak but it was the only one he knew. When the beast returns, and it surely will, those words will not protect us for long.
So here we have remained. For the last hour we have done what we can to strengthen any point where the beast may gain entry. Horst has blocked all the windows and barred the door to the best of his ability. Jennings has worked with the boy in covering every available surface with the chalk symbols I seem to have encountered everywhere over the last few days, and in between all this I have helped where I can.
Now as we sit and wait, I write this, quite possibly the last entry to my journal.
I have sat on the eve of battle many times with a full company of men by my side, but never have I faced such odds. Marching victorious from the field of battle was never a guarantee in the Sudan but I have never felt fear and trepidation like this.
The creature that waits for us in the shadow is spawned from hell itself and seeks only to drag us back there with it, or worse. It is far fouler than any man I have ever faced.
Horst has checked his rifle and ammunition several times as he sits hunched by the door. I have seen behaviour like this before. The terrible and hitherto unknown things he has witnessed over the course of these last few days have shaken his rationale to its foundations. Now he even distrusts the weapon in his hand, and his ability to use it. If he goes to pieces when the time comes he will take much of our strength with him.
The boy sits rocking on a stool by the fire. He is already lost and I think now, at the end of all things, he finally realises the full weight of his ill conceived decision.
Jennings has sat in quiet meditation ever since the work stopped. For all the practice I have done I cannot seem to join him, though I wish I could. The adrenaline coursing through my veins drives my heart to pounding in my chest and it will not be silenced.
Such an adventure this has been. The things I have seen and done in such a short amount of time have changed the world around me forever and I regret none of it. If this is to be my fate then I shall greet it fire and rage. The beast may take me, but I will not go easily.
This tiny shack and its terrified occupants will be no match for the thing when it returns and lord alone knows what will happen when it…………………………………IT IS HERE!!!

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