The 19th Century Paranormal Investigator: Chapter 26

“Branner, what happened here?” The Doctor was relatively calm considering the chaos engulfing his home.

“What do you think happened here? That madman has brought havoc upon your home!” The chef was less than understanding. Murmurs from the other servants worried me. After all the fighting to gain the Doctor’s respect, would I have to start all over?

“What is this?” The Doctor noticed the less-than-opaque body of the demon. “Is this… Is this what has been plaguing my home?”

I step forward, more confident in my side of the story.

“Yes. This is the demon. It not only has this transparent looking form, but the ability to change into a whisp of energy, moving about the house undetected. In addition, he possesses knowledge of demonic arcane arts. Summoning the blood demons in the entry hall, illusion spells to make you think this was the ghost of Madam Maladar, potentially even some kind of telekinetic spell to maneuver the books and such.”

The Doctor approaches carefully. His eyes never leave the injured creature.

“Can you kill it? Will it haunt me no more?”

“It’s not that simple. While the ritual remains incomplete, the demon is unable to fully manifest its complete power, but they are effectively immortal while they straddle the axis of two different planes. This works to our advantage. With him alive, I hope to learn how to dismantle his summoning altar.”

I gesture to the swirling mass of dark energy enveloping the altar further back in the study.

The Doctor looks to what I mentioned, but returns his gaze immediately to the beast. Anger fills his face, blood pushing to the edge of his skin, giving him a redder than red face. He pulls his leg back and kicks the demon as hard as he can.

“You son of a whore! Did you think you could attack my home and get away with it!? I am the master of this estate! Not you! Not whoever brought you here! I will make sure you pay for everything you’ve put me and my family through!”

I quickly rush to the Doctor and pull him back shortly after his kick. He was still ranting when I got him back to the servants who do their best to contain him.

“You won’t escape me! I’ll follow you to the depths of hell, you beastly bastard!”

“Doctor, please, control yourself. We will find who is responsible and bring them to justice. But I can’t guarantee your safety if you try to provoke the demon!”

Doctor Maladar slowly calms down. After he has reached a sufficient point, he signals his labor to release him.

“Branner, I must tell you something. In private.” He looks back to his servants as he says this. They immediately understand and exit the room. “I am sorry for my outburst. But I have recently recalled an important bit of information. You had said the demon needed my daughter for sacrifice.”

“I did…” The release of the illusion earlier reminded Lance of daughter Maladar. It must have done the same for The Doctor.

“She is sick. Gravely so. I didn’t know how to help her, and I feel horrible for I feel I had forgotten her, but if this is tied to the monster-“

“Let me stop you there. This is the monster’s doing. I must finish up here, but you must protect your daughter. Have some servants stop any who try to get to her. The man behind this will likely be getting desperate.”

“Do you know who it is yet?”

I look down, afraid if I am wrong.

“Tell your servants to specifically bar the undercook, James Abbott and Mr. Patrik.

“Branner, Mr. Patrik is a trusted individual. You’ve earned quite a bit of credit yourself in the day and a half you’ve been here, but to accuse-”

“I never accused him. I merely have him under suspicion. I would not take one step further in persecution without substantial evidence. But in the mean time, it might be best if your daughter were sheltered from everyone.” I was lying. I know for certain it was Mr. Patrik.

The Doctor still looked hesitant.

“Doctor Maladar, if it will help, let me ask, when you found Mr. Patrik in this very room after the attack by flying books, was he bleeding?”

He looked taken back. “Yes. Flying paper cuts, I assumed.”

“One each on his arm and leg? Maybe one on his head?” I’m giving away too much.

He looks me over, my words ringing with truth.

“…All right, Branner. I’ll station some men by my daughter’s room and instruct them to not let him in. Please, let us finish this.”

And with those words he exits the room. I turn around to Con and see him looking rather sheepish. As strong and brave as he’s been, he is still a child, watching adults argue. He doesn’t know where he belongs in this. I must show him.

“Come along, Con. I need your help.” I turn to the pile of bookshelves, confident he is hiding there. “You as well, Marcellus!” I call out.

His head pokes out of the rubble, his face a bit frightened.

“Is… Is the Doctor gone?”


He floats out, looking a little ashamed.

“I’m sorry. I just- I did not know what to say to him, or how he’d react to my presence.”

“It’s understandable, my boy. But he is gone now, and there is much work to be done.” I walk over to the demon, lying on his back. Low rumbles come from him, his last resort. His growls won’t help him now, seeing as he’s in far too much pain to fight back.

“My name is Archibald Branner. Tell me, what is your name?”

The beast just growls again, not a single word comes out. Not the response I was hoping for. I hold up the statue and send a wave of energy through it. As I expected it reverberates into the demon, sending waves of pain through his body.

“Let us try again. My name is Archibald Branner. Who are you?”

This time the monster takes a moment, but relents and speaks. I look to Con, who is concentrating on feeling the intent from the beast.

“He says he is called Surgat, The Opener of-”

“Opener of Locks. I am familiar with him.” But that last I heard of him, he didn’t have a serpent’s tail. Nor was he in the business of taking the souls of children.

“Surgat, who is your master now? What greater demon sent you here?”

The monstrosity speaks again. Con translates. “I serve Berith, The Conqueror.”

This troubled me. Berith was akin to a general, leading the armies of hell in their war against Heaven. Why bother with this?

“Why does he want the girl’s soul? He knows such sacrifices are the domain of Moloch.”

The beast looks to me, and then to Con. He speaks, but I can tell his words are drawn out.

“As afraid of you as I might be, I fear Berith more. I will speak no more. Do what you will, but the Conqueror will ride again!”

I hold up the statue again, though I can tell it won’t get him to talk more of Berith.

“Fine. Then tell me how to dismantle your altar.” I gesture to the swirling mass of dark energy in the back of the hall.

The beast lets out a strange noise that I come to realize is laughter. Con’s eyes go wide as the demon speaks.

“Con. Con! What is he saying?”

His words come out slowly, and filled with despair.

“That isn’t my altar.”


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