Damned by the Ancients Nemesis of the Gods #3 by Catherine Cavendish
Genre: Horror Pub Date: 10/23/18
Infinity In Death
Gabriele Ziegler is a young art student who becomes infatuated with charismatic archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus. Only too late does she realize his true designs on her. He is obsessed with resurrecting Cleopatra and has retained the famed artist Gustav Klimt to render Gabriele as the Queen of the Nile, using ashes from Cleopatra’s mummy mixed with the paint. The result is a lifelike portrait emitting an aura of unholy evil . . .
The Mortimer family has moved into Quintillus’s former home, Villa Dürnstein. In its basement they find an original Klimt masterpiece—a portrait of Cleopatra art scholars never knew existed. But that’s not all that resides within the villa’s vault. Nine-year-old Heidi Mortimer tells her parents that a strange man lives there.
Quintillus’s desire to be with Cleopatra transcends death. His spirit will not rest until he has brought her back from the netherworld. Even if he has to sacrifice the soul of a child . . .
Is this what dying feels like?
Phil Bancroft ran his tongue over his dry lips. Where did that thought come from? He watched Dee, the woman he loved, touch the tip of the gleaming gold dagger. This was not the homecoming he had expected. He had only just returned from New York and they should be in each other’s arms. Dee had told him Paula took the pills and now she was dead. Poor Paula. Phil wished he could feel remorse for his dead wife. Guilt. Anything. After all, she was an innocent obstacle who had been murdered at his lover’s hands. Her only crime was to have been sole inheritor of her father’s fortune. If that man had not cut his younger daughter—Dee—out of his will, Paula would still be alive today. They could have divorced and gone their separate ways. It was his fault she had to be killed.
Everything they had wanted was now theirs, but Dee seemed different somehow. Distant. A smile played on her lips, but not her usual lighthearted smile. No, this one was almost…cruel.
“What are you doing with that, Dee?” he asked, nodding at the dagger.
She shook her head. “Not Dee. She is gone.”
Phil held out his hand to take the weapon from her and wondered why his fingers trembled. “Don’t mess around. Give me the dagger before one of us gets hurt.”
Her smile twisted into a snarl. Surely her eyes weren’t that color? Dark blue. No, violet. Dee has brown eyes.
The library door burst open and a familiar figure strode in. Stefan Bloch—the estate agent in whose hands the owners of the magnificent Villa Dürnstein had placed responsibility for administering the lease. But he had no business here today.
“What are you doing here?” The words died on Phil’s lips. The estate agent ignored him, made straight for Dee, and took her in his arms. “What the hell?” Phil lurched forward and grabbed Stefan’s arms. He tried to drag him off the woman who was responding all too passionately.
Stefan let Dee go and wheeled round, landing a stinging blow to the side of Phil’s head. He staggered and fell hard against the library desk.
The man and the woman towered over him as he lay sprawled on the floor, his hand checking his jaw for damage.
Phil stared at them. He no longer knew these people. Oh, they looked the same, but their eyes told a different tale. Dee and Stefan were no longer there. So who were they?
As if she had read his thoughts, the woman spoke. “You are right to cower before us. The woman you knew as Dee is no longer here. Her spirit has passed over. I, Arsinoe, Queen of Egypt and the Nile, inhabit her body.” She indicated Stefan. “The man who inhabited this body is also gone. My lover, Nebunaten, has been reborn in him, but this body is dying. He needs a healthy host.”
He heard the words, but they couldn’t be true. Someone was playing a cruel joke. Maybe Paula wasn’t dead after all. Yes, that was it, she must be behind all this. He scrambled to his feet. “Stop this right now. I don’t know what the hell’s going on here, but if you seriously expect me to believe anything you’ve just told me, you are mistaken. Dee—”
He watched incredulously as the woman he loved threw back her head and laughed. A horrible, hollow sound. “Still you will not believe. You think your lover killed your wife with pills. She did not. She killed her with this.” She waved the dagger. “And that was the last memory your Dee took with her into the afterlife. With the god Set and goddess Sekhmet to aid me, I took her body, just as Nebunaten took the man’s. Now it is your turn to surrender your earthly form.”
The blade flashed once. Twice. Blood spurted from two deep wounds in his chest. His limbs grew heavier, as if someone had attached lead weights to them. Everything slowed as he sank to his knees, blood pouring through his hands as he desperately fought, in vain, to stanch the flow. A low growl echoed through his brain. The figure of a cat stood on its hind legs, changing to a half-human form before his rapidly dimming eyes. The woman spoke in a foreign tongue and the man took hold of Phil’s
shoulders. Something tugged at his spirit, dragging it out of his body as a dark cloud descended on his mind. This is what dying feels like.
And then he knew no more.
Waking the Ancients
Nemesis of the Gods #2
University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .
Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.
And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .
The man looked down at his scattered ashes. “I am growing tired of waiting. When will I be free of this prison?”
“Soon.” The woman moved away in that fluid, ethereal manner of hers. Her scarlet gown flowed around her. An armlet shaped in the goddess Isis’s symbol—a coiled cobra—gleamed. Heavy black kohl rimmed her eyes, emphasizing the deep violet of her irises, while her long, black hair, set in many tight braids, reached her waist. “You must be patient,” the woman said. “I told you I would help you get what you desire.”
“But that isn’t possible. She is back in her body. Back in her tomb.”
“All is possible. I have the power. Haven’t I proved it? Aren’t you the proof of it?”
“I still don’t live.”
“Your spirit lives.”
“My spirit cannot touch her.”
“But it can touch her spirit. Mate with her spirit if you so desire.”
“And why would you do this for me?”
“My revenge is incomplete. My murdering sister rests while I am forced to wander in spirit with no substance of my own.”
“And how will it be done? I am in your hands. This is not comfortable for me. I am always in control.”
The woman threw back her head and laughed, showing black, rotten teeth. Stinking, no doubt, if he could smell anything.
“You have not been in control for a long time. The god I serve is Set, and he is in control. He will come and he will work through me. More powerful this time, for Sekhmet will bring him.”
“And I will have my queen?”
“You will have her.”
“She will be in the one who is here now?”
“That is to be determined.”
“But this one is not of the blood.”
“She will not be possessed, but transformed. We do not need a blood relative.”
“That has been tried before. And failed.”
“The rules were not properly followed. You cannot possess all of her. You have seen that. The gods will not allow it. Her spirit must be divided. Some of it must remain with her body—and lie cold in her tomb. Waiting. Always waiting. In that way, the gods are appeased and my price is also exacted.”
“So part of my queen will still wander, looking for her lover, but enough of her spirit will be released to come to me.”
“Now you understand. You will have all that you desire, and my revenge will not be compromised.”
“And I can be with her. For all time.”
The woman didn’t answer. She gave the merest hint of a smile and passed on.
In his world of shadows, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus waited.
Wrath of the Ancients
Nemesis of the Gods #1
DESTINY IN DEATH
Eminent archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which was featured in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows. Cat’s novels include The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, and Dark Avenging Angel. She lives with her long-suffering husband and black (trainee) cat. They divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
Ghosts can turn up in all sorts of places and, when they were alive, can have come from any – and all – backgrounds. In my novel, Damned by the Ancients, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, while he lived, was an archaeologist. Hardly the kind of occupation you would think someone so evil would have indulged in. His home, in a wealthy suburb of Vienna, was the last place you would expect to find demons, ancient gods and curses.
The same observations could be made of today’s subject. Edward Higgins – known as “Squire” Higgins to his friends – was a member of the gentry of Knutsford, an ancient small town some fourteen miles from the major city of Manchester, and lying in the gentle Cheshire countryside. His home, for a time, was in Heath House, just a few doors from the house that would become Victorian novelist’s Elizabeth Gaskell’s home. She even wrote about him in a short story called The Squire’s Tale.
Higgins moved from Manchester to Knutsford in around 1756 and was regarded as a man of means. A gentleman in fact. He paid a considerable amount for his new home so was clearly not short of funds. But Edward Higgins had a shady past. Details are sketchy but, without a doubt, he was convicted of housebreaking in Worcester in 1754. He was sentenced to transportation to the American colonies for seven years but that was never going to happen. As soon as he arrived in Boston, he stole a fortune from a rich merchant whose house he broke into. This funded his passage home and no doubt his future lifestyle.
On April 21st, 1757 he married Katherine Birtles whom he kept in blissful ignorance of the true source of his wealth. As far as she was concerned he earned money from rents he charged on properties he owned.
Higgins led the life of a country gentleman, riding to hounds and owning several horses. He fathered five children and, by all reports, was a good father and husband. He and Katherine dined out a lot with neighbours yet Higgins remained of fit and athletic build. He would need to be.
His dinner engagements afforded him the opportunity to familiarise himself with the layout of his neighbours’ houses. Then, at a future date, he would return to rob them.
He was also never one to miss an opportunity. Out walking in Chester city centre late one night, he saw a ladder, leaning against the wall of a house. He climbed up it and let himself into a bedroom where a young woman lay sleeping. Evidently she had arrived home late after a ball and had left her jewellery scattered all over the dressing table. Higgins quietly pocketed it and then froze. The young woman turned over in bed. Many years later, he said. “Had she awaked I would have had no choice but to murder her.”
But it was not sufficient for him to rob neighbours. Higgins was after much larger fry. Late at night, he would muffle his horse’s hooves and set out along the dark and treacherous Chester Road, holding up coaches. He found his highwaymen activities easier and far more lucrative as travellers at that time would carry a few guineas with them in case of being held up. It saved a lot of unpleasantness!
The Royal George Hotel – at the time a coaching house – served as the base of his operations. It afforded excellent opportunities to size up the quality of valuables being transported. His career was short-lived as his luck began to run out. When he decided to hold up the carriage of wealthy Lady Warburton she recognised him as a man she had seen leaving a ball earlier.
Higgins began to work further from home. He returned from Bristol with hundreds of Spanish dollars which he proceeded to use but the circulation of so much Spanish money in such a confined area arose suspicion, including that of a local gossip to whom Higgins is supposed to have told of a man being robbed in Bristol. The gossip soon became suspicious of the real identity of the robber and word spread.
In 1764, Higgins robbed a house in Gloucester and was traced back to his home in Knutsford. Police came to arrest him but naively gave him leave to go upstairs to pack a few things. Needless to say, the ever-resourceful Higgins saw his chance and escaped. The police did not recapture him. He got word to his wife to sell the house and join him – ironically instructing her not to lose the board that hung over the dining room fireplace. On it, in gold letters, were painted the words, ‘Do Not Steal’.
Now reborn as Edward Hickson, Higgins and his family set up home in French Hay, Bristol where, yet again, he lived as a gentleman. Then, in 1767, his career ended abruptly when he was seen by two butchers breaking into a house in Carmarthen, Wales. Caught with valuable items from the house, he was arrested and this time could not escape. Not that he didn’t keep trying to evade conviction and imprisonment. He was identified as escaped prisoner Edward Higgins but handed over a fake pardon he alleged to have been granted;. When the authorities exposed the paper as a forgery, his fate was sealed and he was sentenced to death. He begged for compassion for his ‘poor disconsolate widow and fatherless infants,’ insisting they knew nothing of his crimes.
Higgins was hanged at Carmarthen on 7th November 1767, but his story does not end there.
The sound of muffled hooves and the sight of him riding his horse through the streets of Knutsford have been reported by a number of people. Other have recorded sightings of him searching for a likely coach to hold up and, late at night, a phantom coach has been seen and heard moving outside the Royal George Hotel. This is also said to be Higgins. For a ghost, he is pretty busy.
In Damned by the Ancients, Quintilllus doesn’t have to travel far to find his victims. They are already there.
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