An Dullahan

An Dullahan

Author: Skinfull

Rated: PG 13

Categorization: M/S RST Spoilers: None.

Summary: An Irish castle has been transported to Chicago where the haunting still continues.

Feedback: skinfull@undergroundtales.com Love all feedback. Thanks in

Advance!

Authors Notes: An Dullahan is an old Irish folklore, messenger of death.

http://www.dullahan.com/ (Can you believe he has his own site! LOL)

Irish Ghosts and Castles: http://www.nzghosts.co.nz/

irish_ghosts.htm

Irish Names I used:

Eoghan Darby – Owen Darby

Aodh Ó Duibhdíorma – Ay (Meaning Fire) Darby

Óisin Ó Cearbhaill – Oisin (Meaning Deer) O Carroll

Eabha Ní Tuama – Eva Toomy

Thanks Lisa for all your help. (Dr Lisa Comma Transplant Specialist.)

An Dullahan

O’Hare International Airport

Wednesday March 16th

10.15AM

“Just because it’s folklore doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” Mulder hefted both of their cases off the luggage rack and followed her through the bustling airport crowd to the car rental desk. Her silence was beginning to rattle him and he knew she was storing a big

reply, waiting till they were alone before she would offload on him completely.

Scully signed for the car and took the keys with a smile. She still offered no reply and simply preceded him out to the carpark and quickly found the car. As she sat into the passenger seat, Mulder placed the cases into the trunk and finally claimed the seat

next to her. The keys jangled off his knee as he reached for his seatbelt, but he didnt turn the ignition yet.

“Say it. Please just say it now, you’re driving me crazy with the anticipation!” he muttered between gritted teeth after too much silence, and turned to face her after slipping his belt lock in.

“Mulder, this is a legitimate case, three murders last year, including one federal officer. What do you want me to say?” She opened the brown manila folder that rested on her lap and flicked through the pages.

“But…” he urged her to continue.

“But nothing.”

“Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day Scully…aren’t you even a little bit excited?” he gunned the engine and slowly made his way through the traffic.

“Is there going to be a parade?” she joked and he smiled in return.

“Don’t you believe in the stories Scully?” he asked lightly as he pulled out into the traffic and accelerated with it.

“Mulder, do I ever believe in these stories?”

“This could be a first Scully. There are numerous eye witnesses corroborating the”stories” this time,” he smirked, making air quotes to humor her.

“Eye Witnesses?” she scoffed flicking through the file to the back page where the witness accounts were. “Michael Reilly, Groundskeeper. And Eileen Murphy, hotel receptionist.”

“Who better to see the haunting?”

“Never the less,” she continued. “There are three unexplained murders, three unsolved crimes.”

“They were all found dead at midnight on St Patrick’s Day. So we have…” he checked his watch. “Just under 38 hours?”

***

Leap Castle

Wednesday March 16th

12.20 PM

Mulder pulled off the main road and was immediately gratified by the sounds of crunching gravel under the wheels of the car. Slowly he drove up towards the main entrance and pulled the car up outside the sweeping steps that led to the front door.

Stepping out into the cool spring sun, they looked up at the formidable building before them.

A soft wind blew in from the north rustling the ivy that clung to the castle walls, adding its foreboding ambience. The bricks were grey and showed signs of battle damage in parts beneath the old cannon slots at the top of the castle turrets.

“Hello, and welcome to Leap Castle.” Mulder and Scully turned to the stairs where a small man was approaching them eagerly, his smile wide with pride as he noticed their eyes traverse the walls of his castle in awe.

“Mr Eoghan Darby?” Scully extended her hand and he shook it vigorously.

“Yes, yes, that’s me!” he turned to Mulder and shook his hand with just as much gusto before ushering them up towards the castle door. “Come now, you are just in time for lunch!”

“Our bags-” Scully protested but Eoghan shuffled on, a hand pressed to each of their backs.

“Never mind them! Patrick will collect them and bring them to your rooms.”

They entered the castle door and moved through the brightly lit hall. Scully was surprised to feel the heat, expecting it to be cold or draughty, not brightly painted and carpeted with a wide screen TV and several couches lining the walls.

“It’s for the guests,” Darby explained as he spotted her looking at the television. “I’d prefer to keep it draughty, with stone floors, tapestries and huge open fireplaces but my paying guests do expect the comforts of home during these Irish winters.”

“Irish winters?” Mulder queried, exchanging a quick glance with Scully.

“We like to think that when we brought this castle over we imported a small piece of Ireland with us.”

“The castle was brought over from Ireland?” Scully looked around at the walls with new ardor. “Not just the materials?”

“No not at all. We brought the complete castle over eight years ago, lock, stock and barrel; every single brick and even a lot of the surrounding land. The Peat Bog and Turf were part and parcel of this restoration. It took four years to get it restored here in Chicago and we’ve been open for business ever since.”

“Until the murders?” Mulder said as they were led into a large banquet hall.

“The murders seemed to have heightened our guest list.” He pulled out two chairs near the end of the large table that was laden down with food and urged them to sit.

“As you will see when they join us for lunch.”

Their host grabbed a plate of turkey and helped himself to a few slices before passing it to Scully. She placed a small piece on her plate and passed it on to Mulder.

Suddenly the double doors at the end of the room opened to let in a small group of people that greeted Eoghan cheerfully. They pulled up seats at the table and soon plates were being filled and wine was being poured.

“No thanks,” Scully said covering her glass before it could be filled.

“Sure you’ll have a drop,” the stranger persisted with the large bottle of white wine.

“No, I’m fine thanks.” With relief she watched the server pass on to the next glass and pour out more wine and she turned to Eoghan. “How did you manage to acquire the castle Mr Darby?”

“Call me Eoghan, please.” He dropped his hand onto hers and patted it gently. “My great grandfather, Aodh Ó Duibhdíorma, grew up here. He married on these very grounds to the love of his life, Eabha Ní Tuama.” He paused to take a sip of his wine and Scully suddenly had the feeling she was speaking to a true storyteller.

Eoghan looked around the table and glanced at all his guests who slowly took notice of the story they were about to hear.

“But it wasn’t to be happy ever after. Shortly after the wedding he found his bride murdered on the doorsteps, the very doorsteps outside right now. She had been stabbed through the heart by a scorned lover.” The rapt audience stopped eating as the story curled around them and Scully had to admit he was good at this. “The killer

was a man named Óisin Ó Cearnhaill. When Aodh found this out he went mad and plotted to get revenge.”

Pausing again for affect, Eoghan smiled enigmatically and Scully glanced around the table at the guests hanging on his every word. Even Mulder seemed more then a little interested.

“Every night Óisin used to ride through the forest on his black steed to tend the livestock. One night Aodh waited for him. As Óisin rode past Aodh took a mighty swing of his axe,” Eoghan slammed his fist down unexpectedly onto the table making several diners jump. As a trickle of nervous laughter circled the room and Eoghan waited for silence before he continued.

“He took his head clean off and burned on a spike it in the centre of town as symbol of his lost love. The fire burned for seven days and seven nights. No water could extinguish the flame until eventually a local butcher emptied a bucket of blood over it.”

Scully couldn’t help the smile on her face and she nodded slowly at him as a job well done. The story had it’s desired effect as the conversations around the table started again with vigour.

“Good story Mr Darby,” she said but he shook his head with a smile.

“Not a word of a lie Agent Scully.” He sipped his wine again. “Needless to say my uncle was incarcerated for his crimes and the castle was lost to the family. A series of unfortunate and extreme accidents made sure the occupants didn’t stay for long.”

“It’s haunted?” Her eyebrow arched quizzically and Mulder sat forward with his elbows on the table.

“By the murdered bride?” he guessed.

“No. By Óisin.” Eoghan let his words linger and turned back to his lunch.

The rest of the meal finished without a mention of the story. Gentle conversation about the festivities that would be on for St Patrick’s Day circled the room. After all the food had been eaten and the bottles of wine drank the crowd dispersed in different directions, leaving only Mulder and Scully standing in the main foyer.

“What do you make of that?” Mulder asked, nodding his head over his shoulder towards the lunch table.

“The story? It was a good one. And he has the routine down pat. But I’ve heard better from my father.”

“You father was partial to the ghost stories?”

“Yes. Loved to scare us with them.”

“The story I wasn’t too interested in, but the details. The bucket of blood, the horse.”

“The headless horseman?”

“At the second murder, the amount of blood on the victim didn’t correspond to the blood loss. There was nearly seven litres of blood in the surrounding area.

Depressions from horse shoes were found in the soil surrounding the body.”

“What about fairy rings? Pots of gold?” She crossed her arms and sighed. “C’mon Mulder.”

“Well as usual we’ll have to agree to disagree, but lets take a look at the facts-” he began, angry at her blatant dismissal but before he could count off his points Eoghan arrived from a door beneath the staircase.

“Agents, let me show you to your rooms.”

They followed him up the wide curved staircase and through the darkened halls that were lined with maple wood panelling and old oil paintings of various figures. One painting caught Scully’s eye; a beautiful lady dressed in a white dress. A blue shawl

barely covered her shoulders and deep red locks of hair partially covered her face. Her eyes were a piercing green colour that drew Scully in, even though the painting was old and faded.

“Beautiful isn’t she?” The voice of Eoghan right behind her startled her out of her reverie.

“Yes.”

“That’s her, that’s Eabha.”

Scully stared at the picture for a moment longer then slowly took a step back and waited for Eoghan to show them to their rooms. With large ornate keys he turned each of the locks and pushed open each of the oak doors.

“Dinner will be served at 7pm. I understand you are just here for the investigation and will not be partaking in the activities we do have planned, but please feel free to join us.”

“We will need to speak to you about the murders and the crime scenes,” Mulder mentioned before Eoghan could walk away.

“Of course. I will be downstairs in my office when ever you need to speak to me.”

“Thank you.”

Once he had left them, they entered their separate rooms and found their bags had been left on the beds awaiting their attention. Mulder walked around the large poster bed and patted the soft mattress. The open fireplace held logs ready to be lit, and the old style votive candles on the lockers added to the atmosphere.

He pulled loose his tie and slipped out of his jacket. Dropping it on the chair beside the dressing table, Mulder located the adjoining door and pushed it open to find Scully staring out the window at the lawns below. He took a moment to notice her room was almost a mirror opposite of his own

“Scully?”

“It’s amazing what people can do nowadays,” she muttered without turning around.

“To take each brick from Ireland and bring it over to Chicago of all places and rebuild it.”

“They did it with the statue of liberty in 1885.”

“The statue of liberty was designed to be dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t think this castle was.” She turned in time to see Mulder lifting one of the paintings off the wall. “What are you doing?”

“Old castle, old paintings, moving eyes…”

“It’s not a “Scooby Doo” movie Mulder!” she exclaimed indulgently smiling as he replaced the picture.

“Okay, I’m off to get showered and freshened up.”

“I’ll meet you down stairs in 20 minutes.”

***

Leap Castle

Wednesday March 16th

7.30 PM

Dana Scully released an audible sigh and sank back into the soft cushions of the chair.

Mulder looked up from his end of the desk and smiled. Her red hair was hanging loosely around her face and her cheeks were reddened from the heat in the room.

“Scully the longer we stay in this castle the more your Irish heritage comes to the forefront.”

“Irish heritage?” She pulled off her glasses and raked her fingers through her hair, causing the locks to bounce onto her shoulders.

“Red hair, the cute freckles, the rosy cheeks!” he joked dropping his pen onto the table and leaning back into his own chair.

“Shut up Mulder!” she laughed touching her warm cheek with the back of her fingers.

Looking down at the list of notes they had made she couldn’t help but sigh again.

“This is getting us nowhere.”

“The trail is cold,” he admitted with a sigh as he stood up from the table and walked over to the window. A light rain had started to fall against the glass and he rested his palm against it, enjoying the cold sensation on his skin. “Lets go over it once more.”

“Mulder it’s the same as it was last time and the time before that. It’s not going to change…” she said even as she was shuffling through her notes to the first victim.

“Indulge me.”

“Shawn Pearson. Found dead in his bed, decapitated, with a hot blade; a single blow and with both his eyes missing.” Scully scanned through the rest of the page but flipped it over instead of reading more.

“Witness report said that a horse could be heard racing across the grounds that night but there was no sighting,” Mulder added.

“Margaret Gorman was discovered in the bath, decapitated in the same manor with her eyes missing.”

“Again horses were heard the night of the murder.”

“Why the horses Mulder?”

“The horse prints found at the site of the third murder have a significance. There are no horses kept at this hotel or near it’s grounds. In fact the closest stable lodgings are 120 miles away.”

“Ok so the murderer is arriving on horseback, with a sword of some sort, then chopping the heads off?” even as she said it aloud she was shaking her head from side to side, realising all of a sudden where he was going with it.

“Headless Horseman,” Mulder said in a low comically sinister voice as he walked slowly around the room towards the back of her chair and rested his hands on her shoulders. “Seeking revenge on any who dare to stand before him.”

“An Dullahan!”

They both spun to the doorway face the where Eoghan was standing with a tray of drinks. He set down the drinks onto the table between them and smiled broadly at them.

“Dullahan?” Scully asked.

“It’s an Irish word. There is no direct translation but it means the without a head.”

“Headless horseman,” Mulder completed with a gratified smile in Scully’s direction.

“His head has a large mouth and huge eyes that dart around like flies. He holds his head firmly tucked beneath his arm. The head of the black horse has flaming eyes and short-cropped ears. The horse’s head is longer than the body by six yards or more.”

“Sounds like a poem,” Scully said her lips curving slightly, until she noted the serious look on Eoghan’s face.

“In fear of the headless rider;” Eoghan continued as if she hadn’t spoken, “men alone in the fields at night cower behind the bushes because of his reputation with a whip.

With his whip he can accurately remove the eyes of all mortals foolish enough to spy on his ventures.”

“Sounds like our guy Scully.” She rolled her eyes at him in response.

“Don’t be fooled by his existence in folklore.” Eoghan said as he walked away from the table and towards the heavy oak door, “Clichés and stories have to begin somewhere.”

Leap Castle

Thursday March 17th

3.20 AM

Mulder leapt out of his bed and charged towards the adjoining door where Scully’s insistent banging was emanating from. In his haste his feet tangled in his bed sheet and he fell to the floor with a loud crunching thud, trapping his arm across his ribs and knocking his head on the corner of his suitcase.

“Mulder!” he heard her yelling. “Mulder! Hurry!”

With a groan and a dizzy spell he manage to scramble to his feet and grab the door handle. Unsure of why it had been locked he fumbled with the old style circular lock, his head still smarting from the encounter with the case.

“Mulder!”

“Scully!” He yelled back, his ears ringing in pain and his eyes wide with the shock of his rude awakening. Eventually he heard the lock click and he pushed the door open.

Scully stood at the end of her bed, her hands covering her ears as if there were speakers blaring out music next to her head.

“Scully?” he croaked out, rushing over to her and grabbing her arms. But she wrapped them steadfastly around her ears, her eyes screwed tightly shut and her teeth clenched together. “Scully!” Shaking her a little, she managed to open her eyes to slits and he saw the pain behind the bloodshot organs.

Then as if she were waking from a dream her features relaxed and he felt the muscles in her arms go limp. She blinked a few times and looked at him wonderingly.

“Mulder? What are you doing in my room?” she queried with a crooked smile as she noticed he was wearing only a pair of flimsy boxer shorts.

“What am I doing here?” he replied, frustratedly. “You were yelling out my name, banging on the door.”

“Was I?”

“Yeah, I fell out of the bed, bashed my head off my case then couldn’t get the door unlocked,” he grumbled, rubbing his head where it had connected with the metal corner of his case.

“I don’t remember…” she looked around the room confused for a moment before taking a closer look at his injury. “Does it hurt?”

“Yes it bloody hurts!” he moaned as her fingers pressed on the small bump that was already forming behind his hairline.

“I don’t know what happened…maybe I was sleepwalking,” she muttered.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” he asked.

“Horses…loads of horses…” Her voice was low and she closed her eyes as the remains of her thoughts faded beneath her scrutiny. “They were charging all around me, circling me…”

“Scully,” Mulder said softly touching her arm to take her back to the room and out of her head.

“It was the strangest dream.”

“Dream?” he queried. “That dream had you banging on that door, and yelling out my name like a banshee. That dream had you standing in the middle of this room holding your head like it was about to explode.”

“Powerful stuff eh!” she said lightly but he caught the quiver behind her voice and pulled her into a tight embrace. But she wouldn’t let him hold her for very long. After a few shaky breaths she extracted herself from his arms and backed away.

He let her move without protest and watched as she walked to the bathroom to splash some cold water over her face. When she returned to the bedroom she was looking fresher and her questioning frown was back in place.

“Why did you lock the adjoining door?” she asked suddenly.

“I didnt, I thought you did.”

As Scully shook her head Mulder went immediately to the adjoining door and examined the lock.

“Has it been tampered with?”

“No…But there is something else.” He stood away form the door to let her have a better look.

“What?”

“There is no lock. It’s just a simple door knob.”

***

Leap Castle

Thursday March 17th

9.45 AM

“Sure we thought you had died up there!” Eoghan roared at them delightedly as they sauntered into the dinning room where breakfast was being served. Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance before sitting down to the large banquet table. “Help yourself to whatever it is you want.”

Mulder piled his plate with each of the choices the table had to offer but Scully settle for a bowl of flavoured porridge and half a grapefruit. Eoghan who was sitting across from them sipped on his cup of tea and basked in the morning sun that was streaming through the wide windows.

“How did you sleep last night?” he asked stretching his legs out before him and crossing them at his ankles.

“Not too bad. Woke up at around 4 though,” Scully ventured carefully, watching his face for a reaction. “I heard a noise and it must have woken me.”

“What did you hear?” Scully looked over to the man who was sitting a few seats away from her. His eyes were bleary and tired as if he too had trouble sleeping.

“Horses,” she replied bluntly.

Mulder noticed as Eoghan’s tea seemed to go down the wrong way and he coughed to regain control of his airways.

“I heard them too.”

“You heard the horses outside?” Mulder asked leaning forward to get a better view of the man.

“Well,” he scoffed. “They sounded like they were in my room. I woke up my wife with all the trashing I did…the weird thing is…she didnt hear a thing.”

12.10 PM

“Okay guys, I see it, now how can it be activated?”

Scully walked into her bedroom and dropped her notepad onto the desk. She spotted Mulder crouching by the adjoining door and was about to speak to him when she noticed he was on the phone. Instead she slipped out of her shoes and sat on the bed.

“Yeah, I see that…yeah…yeah…where?” He stood up and pinned the phone to his shoulder with his ear as he twisted the screwdriver on the handle to loosen it from the wood.

“Mulder, you can’t do that!” She protested when he dismantled the doorknob.

“Okay I have it out, now what.” He listened to the voice at the other end as he spread out the bits of the door onto the floor. “Yes there it is…thanks Frohike.”

Mulder switched the phone off and dropped it to the floor before rummaging through the small bits to pick up the black piece.

“What is that?” Scully asked

“An RF receiver.”

“And what does it do?”

“Receives RF signals!” He said smartly smiling broadly at her frown.

“Okay…what did Frohike think it was doing in the door lock?”

“When you were off talking to the other guests I had a closer look at the door, and noticed the lock was a bit heavier than normal and longer too.” He picked up the piece he meant and showed it to her. “I called Frohike and explained about the door last night and he said it may have been locked remotely. So he asked me to look for a

receiver in the lock.”

“So someone locked this door on purpose last night?”

“The same someone who was transmitting the horse sounds into your room last night.”

“Sounds? The horses?” Confused she looked around the room, half expecting to see a large concert speaker in the corner. “Why didn’t you hear them though?”

“I don’t know Scully. Everyone has his or her own bandwidth. Maybe the sound was transmitting on a frequency that I couldn’t register.”

“Oh c’mon Mulder. Like a dog whistle?”

“Exactly like that.”

“You can’t turn this case from one unexplainable paranormal theory to another at the drop of a hat.”

“There is nothing paranormal about this door Scully. These electronics were placed by

someone in this hotel.”

“In every room?” She reached for the pad and flipped through the pages to find what she was looking for. “I interviewed 8 of the guests and only two of them heard noises last night. Two of them recognised them as horses and the third couldn’t pin it down to a specific recognisable sound. And they all admit to having quite a bit to drink the night before.”

“You weren’t drinking last night.”

“No but I was dreaming, and after all the talk of the headless horseman is it inconceivable that I would have a nightmare involving horses?” she argued walking away and pouring a glass of water from the decanter.

“No not inconceivable. But we didn’t mention the horseman to the other guests and it’s highly unlikely you all just happened to have nightmares involving horses.”

“Maybe there were horses outside last night!”

“I checked the grounds after breakfast and there is no evidence of that.” He dropped all the bits to the door lock onto the table and walked over to her. “Admit it Scully, you were spooked last night.”

“Of course I was spooked Mulder, but that’s not the point. Just because I was, doesn’t make it real.”

Mulder opened his mouth to argue when a spine-chilling scream rattled through the halls. Without hesitation they grabbed their weapons and raced through the corridor to the source of the sound.

Mulder held his gun rigidly by his side as he turned the corner and spotted the slightly open door. He gestured for Scully to take the other side and waited till she was ready before pushing the door carefully open.

Crouching low Mulder aimed his gun out before him and walked into the room slowly. Behind him Scully followed but they both stopped short at the body that lay before them. The remains were splayed out as if dropped from a height, the limbs bent and twisted unnaturally and the head was missing. Mulder pulled a face.

As Scully stepped closer she recognised the clothes belonged to one of the guests she had spoken to earlier about the horses.

“I spoke to him earlier.” She said softly crouching down to examine the body closer as she slipped her gun back into its holster.

“About the noises last night?”

“Yeah. He said he heard them too.” She stood abruptly away from the body and crossed her arms over her chest. “I need examine him closer.”

“Scully?”

“I’ll call the hospital and arrange a lab.” She was bustling out of the room but he quickly followed her and stopped her march by grabbing her elbow and forcing her to turn back to him.

“Scully…three murders…three victims…three witnesses to the sounds last night.”

“Oh Mulder please. Don’t start with the wild conjecture yet,” she blurted tersely.

“Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence?” he said, stealing the words from her mouth.

“Coincidence, Mulder, is just a layman’s term for conspiracy.”

Shaking her arm loose she turned on her heel and walked briskly through the hall without waiting for him to follow.

6.40 PM

Tired, frustrated and still with no clues Scully pulled the car up outside Leap castle and killed the engine. The outside lights were casting eerie shadows on the old stonewalls and she knew if she were here under different circumstances she would be enjoying the atmosphere, but not tonight, she admitted with a wry smile.

After spending the whole day at the morgue examining the body, the cauterised wound across the head and neck where they had been severed, the gaping and bloody sockets where his eyes had been, she wasn’t sure she could appreciate any of the scenery surrounding her. Or dinner tonight.

She basked in the silence that surrounded her for a moment before she could face the party that she knew was happening in the castle. St Patrick’s Day at an authentic old Irish Castle. She smiled at the idea and was reaching for the handle when she heard it.

At first it was faint, as if it was far away but it was definitely getting closer. Horses, running, galloping or sprinting towards her. She twisted and turned in her seat as she checked outside all the car windows but there was nothing to see.

The noises were getting louder, the horses nearer. She pushed the door open and pulled her gun from the holster that nestled at the small of her back. Crouching low by the front wheel she held her breath in an effort to hear better but there was no need.

The noises were so loud that she was sure there would be a team of horses passing by on the front lawn any second. Peering over the top of the hood she saw only the other parked cars, the trees blowing in the cool night air and the cold unwelcoming darkness. The sounds exploded into the night before the silence was restored.

Baffled even more Scully slowly stood up and backed away from the car towards the castle door. Stumbling over the steps she hurried up and barged through the door, eager to find Mulder.

Everyone turned to see her panting in the doorway, her eyes wide, her breaths shallow and her mouth slightly open.

“Scully?”

Her head whipped around to see Mulder walking towards her, his arm outstretched to grasp her shoulder, a worried look across his face. She closed her mouth with a pop and took a steadying breath as she turned to him.

“Are you okay?” Mulder asked, his hand on her shoulder as he turned her away from the on looking crowd.

“Yeah. Yes, I’m fine.”

“You look a little shaken,” he noticed, stepping back a bit from her frosty response. What had gotten into her this trip?

“I just…” she shrugged and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ears. “I just thought I heard something outside.” She looked away from his inquiring face and only then noticed the decorations in the room, the food laid out on the buffet table near the fire and the traditional Irish music that was playing in the background.

“What did you hear?”

“Horses, I heard horses as I was walking in.” She caught his eye and saw no derision in them. With relief she let out a sigh and stepped closer when suddenly the door burst open and one of the guests came barging in. She stumbled over a floor rug and fell to the ground. As she rolled over onto her back everyone saw clearly the blood covered

clothes and the look of horror on her face.

“Oh my god!” Scully exclaimed as she rushed over and began checking the guest for injury.

“Is she okay?” Mulder asked stooping by the head.

“I can’t find anything…I can’t find any injuries…”

“It’s not mine!” the lady on the floor screamed fighting away from Scully’s touch, but the agent held her down by pinning her shoulders to the ground. “It’s not my blood. It’s Ronan’s! It’s Ronan’s blood!”

“Ronan?” Mulder queried.

“Her husband.” Eoghan was standing in the kitchen doorway. His face was deathly pale and a film of sweat marred his brow. Shakily he walked forward and left the tray of drinks on the table. The glasses clattered against each other as his hands trembled and he shoved them into his pockets to keep them steady.

“Eoghan?” Mulder asked stepped forward and touching the smaller mans elbow. “Are you alright?”

“I thought they were just stories…I thought…it couldn’t be true…could it?”

“What? What did you hear?” Mulder persisted ignoring the glare of blue eyes he could feel burning into his head.

“When we bought the castle back into the family there were so many rumors.” He wiped his brow with the hankie he pulled from his shirt pocket. “The previous owners came to an untimely demise…and it seems they weren’t the only ones. But I didn’t think anything of it.”

With a shaky hand he reached out to the back of the chair and lowered himself into it.

“When we decided to bring the castle over to Chicago, I thought the rumours would die, the haunting stories could only enhance my business.” He scoffed a little, wiping his brow again. “And they did. Better than I could have imagined.”

“Until the murder,” Scully said softly.

“When the police could find no forced entry, no clues, nothing except for the reports of the noise of horses rampaging, I thought the worst but even then I didn’t really believe it.”

“We don’t know what happened here yet Mr Darby,” Scully began as she turned her attention back to the lady who was weeping on the rug beside her.

“It’s him! You heard them yourself!” Eoghan yelled angrily his fear swiftly turning into rage.

“What I heard and what is happening to these people may not have anything in common.”

“Oh c’mon!” Eoghan stepped towards her, “You know it does!”

“Calm down!” Mulder said holding Eoghan back and pushing him into a chair. “I’m going to call the coroner again and get some back up out here.”

“Mulder, Can I have a word?” Scully said softly before he could make the call. She grabbed a cushion off the chair behind her and placed it beneath the lady’s head and draped a blanket over her. After asking one of the other guests to sit with her she followed Mulder into the hallway.

“What?” he said after a moment of silence where she just looked at him deploringly.

“Why do you insist on encouraging him?”

“Encouraging him to admit the truth.”

“Listen Mulder I did hear horses outside, I heard them getting nearer and nearer and I thought…” she hesitate, ducking beneath his gaze and leaning back against the wall. “I thought…for a moment…I thought they were coming for me.”

Sensing the fear in her voice he waited for her to continue. Waited for her to regain control of her breathing and face him fully again.

“It was terrifying.”

“Last year there were three murders. Then this morning Jack Smith was found dead in his room, the very man who heard the horses last night.”

“I know where you are going with this Mulder,” she said trying to interrupt him but he wasn’t going to let his train of thought be dispersed.

“Right now we have another body, to look for.” He paused and watched her eyes close over slowly. “He was the other person who heard them last night wasn’t he?”

She simply nodded, her eyes still closed.

“So that leaves…”

“Me.” She completed his sentence when he couldn’t.

“I’m calling for back up.”

11.30PM

The ambulance arrived shortly after Mulder’s call and hot in its wake was the back up from the nearest FBI Field office. Several swat members had scouted various locations throughout the castle to offer the maximum protection and the remaining agents were camped out at the front reception hallway.

After Ronan’s body had been located and transported to the morgue, Sarah, his wife who had stumbled bloodied and shocked through the door earlier, was taken to the hospital for shock treatment. Mulder spoke to the remaining guests about what had happened and Scully was glad he refrained from explaining the full extent of his theory. He asked if everyone would mind staying in the lobby for the rest of the night and offered them transportation to a different hotel if they preferred, after they had all given statements and alibis.

Much to his surprise they all declined the offer of transportation and rallied together to get the fire lit. Through the entire organisation, Eoghan Darby sat still in his seat by the kitchen door, where Mulder had placed him earlier. His eyes glazed over and his mouth was agape as the bustling moved around him.

Scully claimed a seat by the fire and still felt a chill. She was about to reach for a blanket when a thick woollen one was draped over her shoulders. Looking up she saw Mulder standing over her and she scooted up to let him sit down.

“You looked like you needed it.”

“Thanks.”

“You okay?”

“Spooked.”

“Nothing is going to happen to you Scully,” he said as he pulled her closer and kissed her temple. “I won’t let it.”

“Do you believe it Mulder?” she asked faintly and he felt her body tense against his as she waited for his reply.

“You know me Scully. I believe in everything,” he said flippantly.

“Seriously Mulder.”

“Whatever is out there, who ever is doing this, it was a man who put that electronic lock on the bedroom door last night. I checked the other doors today and found the same locks on two other rooms too.”

“Whose rooms?” she asked but he didnt need to voice it, she already knew.

“Tá sé ag teacht! Thogh sé tusa!” Eoghan jumped up out of his chair and stared at Scully. In his hand he was holding a knife, the blade short but sharp, held out in front of him as he pointed across the room at her.

The agents behind the door heard the screaming and barged in, their weapons trained on the threat immediately.

“Put down the knife.”

“Get on the floor.”

“Hold up your hands!” They shouted commands at him but he was staring fixedly at Scully and heard none of it.

“Níl me bheith fiáin gan rud ar bith,” he yelled taking a step closer and wielding the knife higher.

“Eoghan…we can’t understand a word you are saying.” Mulder said back as calmly as he could but the foreign words were instilling more fear then any English rambling ever did.

“He said…he said “he is coming and he has selected you” The man standing near the fire translated for them, pointing at Scully. “he said he isn’t prepared to die for no reason.”

“No one is going to die Eoghan.” Mulder said and looked to the stranger for help.

“Níl aon duine chun bás Eoghan.”

“Calm down.”

“Ciúnaigh!”

“Mulder!” Scully said suddenly gripping his arm tighter and looking towards the front door.

“What is it?” he immediately turned his attention back to his partner. “Scully?”

“Can’t you hear it?” In the tense silence of the room her voice boomed out. But as he knees started to buckle and he hands instinctively reached for her ears she crouched as low as her body would let her and tried to block out the sounds of the hooves pounding over her head. “The noise? The horses?” she shouted over the sound only

she could hear.

Mulder looked up at Eoghan who was staring at her his concentration focused so completely that he was unaware of his surroundings. His eyes had closed to mere slits as he took another step closer.

“Stop him!” Mulder yelled bending down to Scully and trying to pull her arms away from her ears. “Scully, listen to my voice…Scully.”

The agents stormed over to where Eoghan was standing and brought him down to the ground. They were trying to cuff him when all of a sudden the doors of the castle shook with an almighty bang that nearly took the door off its hinges. Scully jumped up and stared at the door.

“Tell me you can hear that!”

“I heard that alright.” Mulder turned to see Eoghan still staring at Scully. He was lying on his chest with Agent Denny holding him in place with a knee in his back.

“Stop him!” Mulder yelled.

But before the agents could react Eoghan rolled over knocking the agent off balance and managing to scramble to his feet. The knife was still in his hand as he charged across the room towards them with murderous intent. The banging on the door became louder and more persistent.

Mulder held up his arm to protect himself as his other hand fumbled to get his gun out of his holster. Scully cowered beneath him the unbearably loud sound of the hooves trampled across her mind leaving her bounded in pain.

The sharp sting of the blade cutting his skin wasn’t enough to deter Mulder as he pushed Eoghan away and managed to get his gun out. He held it in place and aimed at Eoghan as he found his footing.

“Agent Stringer, get Scully, take her out of here!” Mulder yelled over the ruckus at the door, and never took his eyes off Eoghan who was still staring menacingly at Scully. As Agent Stringer walked around Mulder to help Scully off the floor, Eoghan yelled out as if in pain and lurched towards them.

The banging on the door was constant now, mixed with Eoghan’s feral scream as he raced across the room. Then the crack of Mulders gun was followed by silence, broken only by the sound of Eoghan’s body hitting the floor.

Everyone in the room seemed to hold their breath waiting for the door to be broken in. Slowly Scully sat up, her eyes red rimmed and sore. It was then she noticed the blood running down her partner’s arm.

She uttered as if coming to from a trance. “Mulder, you’re bleeding!”

“Oh, don’t worry, its nothing. I’m worried about you.” He lifted her chin up so he could smile at her and then swiped at the bloody mark his fingers made against her pale cheek. She smiled back and let him pull her into his arms. He bent to kiss her. Whatever odd mood she had been in all this weekend seemed to have vanished with

death of the castle owner. Like she had been under a weird influence.

“This place…it’s really gotton under my skin,” she admitted looking up to him and seeing him as if for the first time all weekend.

He held her tighter. “It’s okay Scully, but just let me say this. I never want to so spend a night without you again, even on a case. deal?”

“Deal! ” She pulled him close for a long kiss. ” Do you think this was a hoax Mulder, that man seemed…possessed? He had been drinking but…”

“He may have been, How knows. I think he used the stories from this castle to help business. Placing those devices to scare his guests, perpetrating the story further, lending further credence to the tales.”

Mulder glanced over to where Eoghan’s body lay motionless. “Maybe he gave it power by believing in it, by telling the stories and creating the fear. Whatever secret he had or reason for doing this, be it his complicity and exposure in or something paranormals was at work died with him.” He stood up and stretched a hand out to help

her up and pull her against his chest. “I think it will just come under another tale of St. Patrick’s Day lore and remain…. unsolved.”

“Here’s something for the shock.”

They both turned to see one of the other guests passing them pints of gren Guinness.

“Guinness?” Scully said sceptically.

“What else on St Patrick’s Day!” Mulder smiled as he took his pint and tasted a mouthful.

They finished their drinks and Scully took the glasses and left them onto the small table beside the fire. Already the room was emptying as people filled out and went to their rooms.

“C’mon Mulder, time to start making up lost time.” Taking his hand she led him towards the stairs.

“Really Scully?”

“Oh yeah. In the spirit of my ancestor’s saint’s day, I brought something skimpy and green and I would like to see if you approve. You know what they say…Guinness Give you strength. What do you say we grab a few bottles and escape upstairs?”

“Ohhh I’d love to agent Scully,” he said snatching the bottles from an ice bucket as they passed. “I feel lucky already and I have no need of a shamrock.”

The end.

Skinfull

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