They tried the doors on the first floor and found a sitting room, a library and a den. A door in the den led to another wing. They decided to leave that for another day. Raven glanced through the books in the library, which were mostly about science, engineering and mathematics, with an emphasis on software engineering, robotics and artificial intelligence. One whole section, however, was devoted to the paranormal. This caught Raven's attention, and she spent a while browsing through them. While she thumbed through the books, Annie B and Bagyar played checkers using chess pieces on a small table.
Finally Annie B became bored. "I thought we were going to explore the house, not read every book in the library."
"Oh. Okay. Let's go." Raven laid the book in her hand on a table and headed into the foyer.
They climbed the steps to the second floor. Doors along a long hallway led to several bedrooms. By this time, the storm outside had abated to a steady rain. Raven yawned and glanced at her watch. It was after eleven in the evening. "Hey guys," she said. "It's been a long day, and it's still raining. What say we hit the sack and decide what to do in the morning?"
"Sounds good to me," replied Bagyar. He too stretched and yawned.
Annie B eyed them. "I suppose you want me to go into another room. Well, no way. I'm not going to be alone in this creepy house."
Bagyar said, "That's all right. I'm too tired for hanky-panky. I'll take that bedspread and curl up in a corner."
The bedspread was quite dusty. Annie B. said, "You're welcome to it. How about it, Raven? Think we can share the bed? It'll be like old times in the slammer."
"Just as long as you don't get any ideas. I've given up Lesbianism."
Bagyar removed the bedspread, shook it out, which filled the air with dust making everyone sneeze, and squashed it up in a corner of the room. Raven and Annie B stripped to their bras and panties and got into the four poster bed.
* * *
Raven felt uneasy in the small meadow lit up by a full moon and surrounded by forest. Something dreadful was about to happen. All around her shadows shaped like monks with cowls came out of the woods, chanting in Latin. They joined hands and formed a circle around her, as though casting a spell with her as the object. One came forward with a ceremonial dagger in his hand.
"Who are you? What are you going to do?" cried Raven. Faint with terror, her knees trembled until she was sure she would collapse. Yet she was frozen in place. Is this how it all ends? she thought.
The apparition, who was more shadow than solid, swept his cowl back. To add to her despair, it was her nemesis, Magbertius. He grinned at her. "I knew you would come to me."
"What's this all about, Peter? Have you manipulated events to bring me here? Am I to be your slave again?"
"No. I do not want a slave, but a true lover. Nonetheless, I still have an influence on you. I am soon to be overlord of the entire world. Become mine willingly, and anything you desire shall be yours."
"My only desire is to be rid of you."
He raised the dagger. "So, you still spurn me. You shall suffer for it." As he plunged the dagger into her heart, there was a loud crash.
* * *
The crash was the thunderstorm starting up again. It had awakened Raven from her nightmare. "Damn," she whispered. "That ass hole Magbertius is trying to get into my head again. I wonder whether he has anything to do with this business with the president and this strange house."
She glanced over at her companions. Annie B was sleeping peacefully on her side, snoring softly. It was too dark to see whether Bagyar was still in his corner. Nonetheless, she stared into the place where he had laid. A lightning strike lit up the room. The bedspread was still crumpled up, but Bagyar was not on it. "Henry," she called softly. There was no reply. She got out of bed and retrieved her flashlight. She searched the room with it. Bagyar was not there.
She shook Annie B awake.
"What? What's the matter?" she said in a sleepy voice.
"Bagyar's gone. He's not in the room."
Annie B. yawned. "He probably went to take a piss or something. Come back to bed."
"No. I had a nightmare. Something's happened to him."
"Oh come on, Raven. What could've happened?"
"I don't know. I just know that something is terribly wrong."
"I suppose you want me to get up and help you look for him."
Annie B muttered and grumbled as she got up and slipped back into her clothes, which she had hung on the bed post. She complained that they were still damp. Raven donned her own garments, and the two women crept down the staircase. They searched the kitchen first. That would be the most likely place that Bagyar would be. They looked into the other rooms on the first floor in the main part of the house. No Bagyar.
"Do you think he went into another wing?" Raven asked.
"We can look, but I don't see why he would do that. Of course, who knows what a wolfman would do?"
"Well, I'm sure he wouldn't go out in the rain. Let's explore the east wing."
The east wing was dusty, musty, full of enormous cobwebs and filled with old furniture and sealed boxes. It looked as though no one had been through it in decades. In addition, it was not a straight and even hallway. It widened and narrowed and turned in odd and convoluted ways. In some parts there were three or four steps that led up to another level and then again down in no particular pattern until Raven became quite confused. There were also side hallways, making the wing a sort of labyrinth.
She and Annie B opened doors along it. Mostly they led to empty or storage rooms. Some rooms had second and even third doors that led elsewhere. They did not open these. Every once in a while, Raven hollered, "Henry! Henry Bagyar! Are you there? Yell if you hear me." She was answered by the awful silence of the creepy house. The only sounds were the occasional thunder, the relentless rain, howling of the wind and the creaking of the old structure.
At the end of the hallway the came upon double doors that led to at what at first glance seemed to be a shadowy chapel with short pews on either side of an aisle. As Raven shined the light around, she realized that this was no Christian place of worship. Although the gloom made it difficult to see, goblins, monsters and gargoyles were in the niches where she expected to see statues of saints. The stained glass windows illustrated mystical symbols, pyramids, devils, demons and pagan deities. The altar contained a skull in the center, with a cup and a candle on the left side and a bellows and a box of salt on the right.
When Annie B saw that, she cried, "This is a place of devil worship. No way am I going in there."
"Not necessarily devil worship. It might Wiccan or some other pagan worship. Those objects on the altar represent the four elements of alchemy. No sense going in anyway. It's obvious that Bagyar isn't here. Let's go back."
The passage back to the main house was so convoluted that they missed the door that led back to the main house. Their flashlights became to dim. A great crash of simultaneous thunder and lightning made them jump into each other's arms.
Raven said, "Somehow we passed the entrance to the alcove. None of this familiar."
Annie B's voice trembled. "You're right. Maybe that's what happened to Wolf-Guy. Like us, he got lost in this big old house. Let's get back to our room."
"If we can find it."
They turned back the way they came, but did not encounter a familiar landmark. Somehow they had come to a spiral staircase.
"This must lead up to a tower," said Raven. "Maybe if we look out a window up there we can get our bearings." Although she tried not to show her increasing panic, she became apprehensive that they would not find their way back in the maze of hallways.
They climbed several flights. At the end was a heavy oaken door. Raven half expected it to be locked. But with an effort she and Annie B pushed it open with a loud squeal of rusty hinges. The peered into a small room, which contained a single item -- a coffin.
"What the hell is that doing here?" cried Annie B.
"I don't know." Raven suspected that it might be the daytime resting place of a vampire. She was in no mood to deal one of that ilk. "C'mon, let's go back downstairs."
The returned to the ground floor. After searching a while, they found the door that lead to the alcove. From there they returned to their bedroom. Raven hoped that by some miracle Bagyar had come back. She was disappointed.
"What now? Your hairy lover is still not here." Annie B said
"Henry's my soul mate. Maybe I can contact him telepathically. Go back to bed if you like. I'm going to use a meditation technique I know for contacting people mentally."
"Okey dokey. Do your witchy stuff. If you need me, just whisper in my ear." She yawned and crawled into the bed fully clothed.
Raven sat in the middle of the room with her legs crossed so that her ankles rested on her knees. She turned her palms upward and curled her hands. She took several deep calming breaths and relaxed her entire body. When she felt her doubts and concerns leave her like water draining through a colander, she concentrated on her lover. Henry, Henry Bagyar, can you hear my thoughts? After she mentally repeated this formula several times, she went into a trance state.
She heard tiny whispers, too low to be understandable. Henry, is that you? Concentrate on communicating with me with your mind. The whispers became slight louder until she began to make out individual words, "... lost ... house ... not what it ... Raven .... what should ..." The voice faded again. Raven telepathed, Can you describe you surroundings?
There were mumbles and groans and fragments of words, but she could not make anything out. She was not even sure that the whispers in her mind were from Bagyar. Some of the voices sounded like other people.
A crash of thunder and lightning brought her out of her trance. She decided to give up. Wherever Bagyar was, he seemed to have heard her, but was unable to communicate. She had become terribly sleepy. She would search every inch of the house the next day.
She started to crawl into bed but realized that Annie B was not there. "No-o-o," she cried loudly. "Not you too."
She called out to Annie B several times. Her only answer was the continuous clatter of the rain against the window and the moaning of the wind.