The hands lifted her and threw her into a room with a rusting barred floor scattered with brown earth.
Dragging herself up she thought at first that she was alone then she saw the woman in white sitting on the bench, cobwebs hung, and there was a smell of damp and rot in the air but at least there was no blood and this woman was certainly better than the nightmare creatures she had seen so far.
The woman motioned for her to come closer and she did so - slowly...
"Do not be afraid now Elinor, the others will not come here. They can not until a decision is reached."
"A decision? What decision? Whose? Yours? Who are you?" Elinors voice was harsh from the crying and screaming but she needed to know why this was happening, why this was happening to her. What had she done?
"No Elinor. I am afraid the decision is yours to make and it will not be an easy one. As for who I am, forgive my rudeness. Now I am just another trapped here, but once I was Lady Alessia Calstone, wife of the monster who built this house and started the horror that has only grown with time. Please take a seat, you should be at least a little more comfortable whilst I explain why you have found yourself here. Then you have a decision to make and the consequences to face."
Elinor approached Alessia, she recognised the name Calstone, the city library had an old wing named after a Sir Calstone, what did all this have to do with that? As she watched Alessia's sad face she sat on the bench. Some instint told her that this woman meant her no harm.
"Go ahead, I'm listening."
"My husband was Sir Calstone, he was so rich, so powerful that when he noticed me and then asked me to marry him I did no refuse. I was from poor background, he offered me paradise." Alessia spat on the floor "A paradise that turned to Hell. I could not bear him a child and this failure turned him against me. However he had been a monster in human guise for many years before we met. He had medical knowledge and used it to violate, torture and maim the poor people of the time. Workers, maids, people that in my time no one missed. People like I was once. One night I discovered some of his victims and in trying to save one I became a victim myself. I suffered hours of torture, physical and mental but never sexual, that he saved for the others. Then he was killed and myself and the few others that were left here died, we died from our wounds and from hunger in the most depraved conditions. His evil had already soaked into the house and it grew with his son..."
Elinor cut in "His son? But I thought you couldn't have a child."
Alessia smiled wearily "I could not, his son was a result of a whore from the city, some drunken girl who gave him what I could not. He came here and took over from his father and the evil grew. The evil had interred itself into the house, spirits crying for vengeance. Since the day his clinic ended there have been others, men who have brought victims here, knowing they would not be disturbed. Here they tortured, murdered, ransomed and raped. Their evil only added to what was here and it may never be extinguished. Now you are here, I do not know what twist of fate brought you here but I had to stop them taking you."
"Not that I am not grateful Lady Calstone but why me? Are you stronger than them? "
"Why? Once I promised a dying man that I would save someone he held dear, I failed him. Now I have the fortune to fulfill my obligation and save one innocent from this place. I am not more powerful than the others here but I have some hierarchy and standing. I am afterall the companion of the devil. I claimed souls blood, claiming you as mine. My heir. However the others request payment before they will let you leave here."
"What kind of payment? what can I give them?"
"An innocent. They will let you live if you return here and sacrifice to them the blood of an innocent person. Someone you must choose yourself, willingly. Then they demand a new sacrifice every 6 years for 18 years after that your debt will be paid. In fact they will even give you the fortune of the Calstone family so you might be rich and powerful. Powerful enough to return the house to its former glory."
"But - but I can't kill someone. I can't..."
"Elinor if you do not then you will stay here like us forever. I can only protect you for so long. Eventually they will take you and you will become like them. Once they were all human but now - you have seen them. Only I have kept my human origins. However, the decision is yours to make. Your life and soul for that of another innocent."
Elinor felt tears rolling down her cheeks. She was so tired and so scared. Her decision was made......