Author Georgina Morales joins us again today, for her second feature in Horrorfest 2013. After ‘Talking Horror’ earlier in the week, here she is writing it, with short story ‘The Mountain of Souls’.
This piece is a shortened, re-working in English of “El monte de las ánimas” a tale written by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, a Spanish romantic writer, famous for his poetry and a central figure in Spanish literature. The title roughly translates as: “The spirit’s mountain”. You can read it complete in Spanish here and in English here. This tale is often read in Spanish-speaking countries as a ghost story, so prefect for Halloween. Blogger Pandapon talks about it in more detail in their post here: http://blog.mangamagazine.net/?p=1106.
The Mountain of Souls
A Legend of Castile, by Georgina Morales
“Fasten up the hounds and give the signal with the horns for the hunters to gather. Let’s travel back to the town. Tomorrow we shall put an end to that pack of wolves.”
“So soon have you tired, my dear cousin?” Mischievous intent curled up her thin lips in a smile.
“Any other day, my sweet Beatriz, and I would never pass the challenge; but today it is All Hallows Eve, and we are in the Mountain of Souls, after all.”
“I didn’t take you for the superstitious kind, Alonso.” Though her façade remained under control, derision dripped from her words.
“You are unaware of what goes on in this county, because it’s not even a year yet since you graced us with your company. In a little while prayer will sound in the monastery, and the spirits of the dead will ring its bell.”
“The abandoned monastery up in the mount, you mean?”
“Indeed. Ride by my side, my beautiful cousin, and as the journey continues, I will tell you that story.”
And so they went ahead of the group with the Counts of Borges and Alcudiel following their firstborns in procession.
“A long time ago, Templars resided in that monastery; but Templars were not regular monks, you see. They were warriors, too. Once the town of Soria was rescued from hands of the Saracens, the King granted the land to the famous order to continue its defense. This caused bitter animosity with the Noblemen. Lastly, upon the Templars intrusion on restricted land while wolf hunting on All Hallows Eve, a bloody battle erupted.
“Not one side won but the wolves who instead of being hunted devoured a feast like no other. When silence filled the mount again, disincarnate corpses littered the scene and ravaged pieces of clothing swayed like broken flags in the brambles.
“The monastery fell out of use and greenery took over. Since that day, every All Saints Day the derelict bell comes to life; and with it, the hateful skeletons rise to fight in the mount once more.”
Beatriz dared not say a word, and in silence the cortege entered town. Perhaps had she been surrounded by the beat of the city, she wouldn’t have found the toll of the church’s bell so sinister.
That night after dinner, Beatriz sat in front of the fire recalling the amusements of life in court, the balls, the gowns, the art of trickery hiding behind hand fans.
“It’s extraordinary to see the rosy color on your cheeks when not eight months ago you arrived here so sick,” said Alonso, joining her contemplation of the peaceful flames.
“I have the air of Castile and its remarkable people to thank. How will I ever repay their kindness?” She bowed in his direction.
“Perhaps if you stayed…” Catching a sudden twitch of the feminine hand, Alonso went on, “Yet, I can vividly imagine the heartbreak your absence would bring to my dear uncle. Instead, I’ll be happy to offer you the brooch fastening the plumage on my hat. I saw it caught your eye earlier today.” The nobleman extended his hand and offered a blue velvet box. “May this small token forever bring you memories of your time in Soria.”
Beatriz faced Alonso and with disapproving tone, she said, “A well to do woman must never accept a present without compromising her affections.”
“But for especial occasions. Remember, today’s All Saints Day, and yours and mine are bound to celebrate amongst all the others.” Alonso opened the box where rubies sparkled voraciously under the firelight.
“If that would make you happy, very well then.” Beatriz took the box with apathy.
“Is there something, maybe, you may want to gift me?”
The green eyes twinkled. “Yes, indeed.” Beatriz’ long, delicate fingers searched for something on her right shoulder they failed to find. With a gasp, she then covered her mouth.
“Oh, Alonso. Remember the blue silken sash I wore today to the hunt? I had thought to give it to you, but I must have lost it!”
“Where could it be?”
“In the mount, I think!” There again, a gleam of life turned the emerald eyes ever greener.
Alonso paled and bit his lips into a thin line.
“Any other night I would go into the mountain and find it for you. They do call me the Boundless Hunter in these lands; yet tonight is All Hallows…”
“And to risk name and future in a mount full of wolves? Never! I shan’t ask you such a thing, no matter how important the sash were to me.”
Alonso turned away from her sight and after a moment of pause, he kneeled at her side. “I shall bring it to you. Remember me, lovely Beatriz, if we don’t see each other again.”
And with that, he departed the gathering.
The night went on and Beatriz waited for Alonso. Twelve chants bellowed the tower bell when exhaustion finally brought the lady to her bedchamber.
He has been gone for too long, now. It should have taken him no more than two hours.
She went into the oratory for her nightly prayers and came out when either fatigue or apprehension allowed her no further concentration. Away from her devotions and the company of others, Beatriz trembled at the sound of the howling wind. She climbed to bed and let the curtains fall.
Beatriz tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Images from the story Alonso related to her pounded her mind the way the storm battered her window. Hours passed and to the noises outside joined the groans from the inside.
Was that the deep whine of the front door?
A sorrowful cry traveled through the hallways, traversing the castle in her direction, concealing itself under the holler of the wind. The door to each chamber between Beatriz and the entrance moaned its particular tone before her own door creaked open.
Beatriz ceased to breath, her heart threatened to burst, and her mind conjured images of ravaging wolves and frightful skeletons.
The wood under the carpet squeaked as if under the pressure of inexistent feet, one and another, every time closer to her side. The wail again echoed softly through the thickness of her curtains; and they moved!
Beatriz gasped, for abject horror had imprisoned her throat. Darkness swallowed her whole.
The next morning, when the Count of Borges came to let his daughter know the dreadful fate of the Alcudiel heir, he came upon a tragedy of his own. Beatriz rested on the bed, but instead of the tranquil kiss of Morpheus, it was Lyssa who had visited her; and in a final paroxysm of madness and terror, she had taken Beatriz’ life.
No violence desecrated her beauty; she had died of fright. The evidence laid on the way her pale lips parted in a silent scream. On Beatriz’ blonde locks that were now a matted nest. But above all, it was evident in her bulging eyes that refused to stay closed, perchance avoiding in death the blackness that had swallowed her last moments of life.
Since then, it is said that on All Hallows night, after the monastery bells ring, Templars riding equestrian carcasses and Noblemen dressed in shrouds haunt a frail-looking woman that runs around Alonso’s tomb. All in direct line from the Alcudiel Castle’s top windows.
Georgina has featured several times on our blog before, sharing her own horror genre writing, as well as her love for all things spooky. You can take a look at two of her previous features here, if you’d like to see her book Perpetual Night or her popular guest post My Letter to Stephen King. About the Author From early on Georgina Morales felt fascinated by the horror genre. The stunning covers tantalized her with promises of endless darkness and obscure tales. While other girls dreamed of becoming princesses, her young mind weaved stories of madness to fit those covers. Years later, after settling in New England, she felt perfectly at home surrounded by dark woods and abandoned buildings. It is from those places and memories that she writes, spinning stories from inside the obscure corridors of the mind where not many venture and very few come out alive. Her debut novel, PERPETUAL NIGHT, was published in 2011 alongside other stories. On Halloween 2013 the anthology GOTHIC BLUE BOOK III: THE GRAVEYARD EDITION by Burial day Books will include her most recent tale, A DIARY OF MADNESS. For more information about her shenanigans, stalk her here:
We have several other spooky short stories coming up this week, so make sure you check back with us to see what has been lurking in the minds of our regular bloggers and author pals (mwah, ha, ha).