Piers chewed his lip, having heard and understood all of what Helmut had said. "Still suffering and dying?" he asked quietly.
"Exactly. Roderick told you, I'm quite certain, that under no circumstances were you to explore the ruins of the castle. Am I right?"
Piers nodded. "I did, or tried to once. He caught me at it and—" he gave a small shiver. "I've never seen him that angry."
"And yet the minute he's gone you decide to try again and take Linden with you."
"It's just ruins. Dangerous maybe if parts of it are unstable but it seems to me that after hundreds of years whatever was going to fall already has." Linden stated defiantly. He wasn't about to give ground, if for no other reason than to show Helmut he wouldn't give in to him in any way, shape or form.
"That, boy, is not why Roderick wants the two of you to steer clear of the place."
"I suppose you're going to tell us there are ghoulies, and ghosties and things that go bump in the night down there."
Ignoring Linden's snide remark, Helmut asked Piers, "What do you know about the ruins?"
"That they were once a castle and, from what Rod told me, war and the resulting fire destroyed it. I got the idea that that happened before he became the owner of the estate."
"It did. What he hasn't told you, apparently, is to whom the castle belonged."
"I figured it was part of the estate, part of the holdings."
Helmut shook his head. "The estate's original owner, Roderick's father-in-law, bought the land soon after the war that destroyed the castle. He build the manor house, which was completed somewhere around 1520. He intended to raze the remains of the castle but that never happened."
"Obviously," Linden muttered under his breath.
"Why not?" Piers asked.
"Because the land the castle stands on may have been part of the estates' holdings, but the castle itself still belonged to its original owner, and the original agreement when Roderick's father-in-law purchased the land was that the castle must remain as it was until the original owner and his descendants, if he had any, had all died."
Linden snapped his fingers, grinning. "I can see where this is going."
"Can you?" Helmut cocked an eyebrow. "Then tell me."
"The castle belonged to a vampire and like Roderick he kept returning as his own child down through the ages."
"Close, but no cigar. He was, and still is, a revenant."
"Isn't that just another name for a vampire?" Piers asked, frowning.
"Yes and no. Both are undead but, generally, a revenant rises from his grave to extract revenge on those responsible for his death. Notice I said 'generally'. In the case of this particular revenant that's not what happened. While he was alive, he was an evil man. He died during the battle at the castle, cursing God as his life drained from him. Loyal followers took his body down to the dungeons in the hope that no one would realize that he was dead. When the castle was set to the torch by his foes, he was buried by the rubble."