Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ancestral Visitors

            Several creatures of ill-fortune prowl around the bloodlines of the more noble families of old Tsarist Russia. Three of the noble lineages have had such creatures attach themselves to their households:

          The Zubov family of Strelna and Moscow has a reoccurring specter, which appears on the death of the current Count. The specter has only briefly been glimpsed by a scullery maid in 1636, and a half asleep footman in 1699. The specter has been described by both as a floating bald woman, wearing silken clothes, stained in some manner (whether it was by blood or mud is unclear). The specter howls out the name, ”Zubov! Zubov!” repeatedly. The Count is said to die within 48 hours of the specter’s appearance. It is unknown whether the visitation is the cause of the death, or simply reacts to the imminent demise of the current patriarch. Many believe that it is the cause, as evidenced in the memoirs of Sir David Luminsta, who was guest at the household of Stephan Zubov, then Count. The apparition was heard, but not seen, and within 12 hours the baron was dead.
As Sir Luminsta writes, “Count Stephan’s footman has just gone by in great haste, and he has told me that the Baron, after coming from the Castle, had gone to bed in perfect health, but that about half past two this morning, his own man hearing a noise in his master’s room went to him, and found him in the agonies of death, and before he could alarm the servants, his lordship was dead. The specter strikes again.”

          A further household with ghostly visitors is the Demidov family of Mayvin. There the spectral visitor is seen but does not speak. This creature is further different in that it appears to warn of the death of any member of the family, be they blood or married in. The visitor first appeared two days before the death of Nikita Demidov, second patriarch after the establishment of nobility. The specter is a small man, wrapped in a death shroud; hair is attached to the head in thin irregular wisps. Across the face and scalp and hands foul open sores are displayed, some apparently oozing pus. All who have looked upon this creature have described being overcome by a wave of nausea (vomiting is not unheard of here). A member of the family is said to die within a week when this specter visits.

          Additionally an identity has been placed to this visitor. Many who see it swear that it resembles a painting prominently displayed in the Family Manse, that of Demid Antufiev, establisher of the line. If it is indeed this old noble, the sores on the ghost give credence to the rumor that he had died of an aggressive and persistent case of syphilis, and not of a heart seizure as the family maintains. If it is indeed Demid Antufiev, then perhaps the addled ghost does not realize that his reign has long been over.

          The third family, the Panin, ennobled in 1767, the case seems to be that the visitor appears only after the head of the family has died. To them a strange entity, known as the Grey Piper, comes. He walks the hills by the family manner playing a sad melancholy song on bagpipes. The song is taken to be a song of lament for the Count’s passing, but its true purpose is unknown. The entity does not appear to be malevolent and does not approach anyone, but he is clearly heard and seen in the hills. This entity is said to have appeared for over 300 years.