Nov: 19th, 1866: We sleep in a bit (rest well deserved). Victoria mentions that she could use some time to adjust to the new paradigm of her life, so Marcus offers to take her for a trip out to Willy’s place in the country. It is safe for her there, and Marcus needed to work on some research, anyway. She leaves us with a list she spied at Stafford’s place: Cecil Guinness, Erasmus Dein (we know that one!), and Cyrus Cullen. Prof. Poole mentions that he knows of Cullen; he was being vetted for membership before everything started going downhill. He lives nearby, so we decide to go meet the guy.
His address is a VERY nice manor house. Great… probably another noble. We meet Dr. Cyrus, who, while no doubt wealthy and noble, is by no means exclusionary. He is a world traveler, and has been as far as India and China in order to hone the medical arts. While in China, he met and married the second person we meet here, Elizabeth. She is bright-eyed, if a little manic. Looks to be suffering the initial stages of “Holy-crap-they-will-not-let-me-do-anything-fun-in-this-country” syndrome.
The Cullens are steeped in the occult: Cyrus seems to believe that the fusion of science and magic can lead to the perfection of the medical arts, and Elizabeth was trained in Eastern martial arts at some kind of girls-allowed punching school. I never knew China was so enlightened towards the fairer sex! How progressive! Since they seem like they are nice enough people (Prof. Poole had mentioned this as well), we tell Cyrus about his name being of Stafford’s list.
Cyrus is NOT AMUSED at this. And Elizabeth… well, let us say that the subtle shift from lady-in-a-dress to tiger-in-clothes was not all that subtle. While we plan what to do about this, we decide to show them around the more mystical part of London, starting with the Fey Market.
As we stroll around (it is amazing what can become ‘routine’ in one’s life), we overhear Patrick Stafford’s whiny voice over the din. He is in a box shop, arguing with the nice lady behind the counter. Evidently he had ordered a box to contain some item, and no longer needs the box. I wonder why not? (If you are reading these out-of-order, it is because we robbed him. Carry on.) After he leaves, Cyrus confronts him as one occult-leaning noble to another peer. Elizabeth does her best to not rip this smarmy, oily creep’s arms off and slap him to death with his own hands.
Stafford, seeing a possibility to recoup some face in the occult neighborhood, invites Cyrus over to schmooze, which Cyrus accepts. HOORAY, A PARTY! We buy some things while in the Market, including a very intricate puzzle box that was once owned by one Mr. Berringer. Sergei gets that one, and we decide to store it in the fireplace locker at the office.
Wait, a closed puzzle box once owned by a cannibalistic, pedophile, demonologist, mass murderer? SURE, that sounds like something we want to have! Seriously, for people with such good instincts 99% of the time, they really, REALLY make up for it in that 1% left over!
We escort the Cullens over to our House and let Cyrus give the new Stone of Dee we have a once-over. He confirms what we know; it is a summoning stone for Phanuel, the Enocian Archangel. I think we will send this one to a nice, safe place; no need for it to stay here.
Cyrus sends Stafford a missive, telling him to expect Cyrus, Elizabeth, and entourage tonight. Yes, you read that correctly; Cyrus tells Stafford, in no uncertain tones, that Stafford is hosting a party tonight. Cyrus is a funny guy to know; he wields his money and such as a tool; he defines what this power is, rather than let it define him. Rather refreshing, actually!
We get kitted out for the shin-dig (enough weaponry to stop a small cavalry charge, and then everyone else gets dressed). We head to Stafford’s place, and are greeted with many more people than we expected. There is a Mr. Bechner from Munich (a banker of note), Edward la Salle (whose eyes light up in delight when he spies us enter), and then a big, burly guard followed by a stately Germanic fellow. Well, Prussian, actually; one Major Fredrick Lebow. He is some kind of war hero.
This is no party; it is all business, and Beckner is OBVIOUSLY pissed. He and Stafford move to a back room to chat, as Cyrus rambles a bit with the table-folk. Sergei moves like a guard, noticing and indicating to us that there are guards outside. We hear a rather ill-hidden argument coming from Beckner and Stafford in the other room, leading to Beckner storming off, trailing the guards from outside with him. The party breaks up a bit, as Lebow also leaves.
After setting Stafford’s nose (I do not think he can resist), Cyrus lays in on the table for Stafford. He knows his name was on a list, and wants to know why. Stafford confirms our hunch; he is wanting to become a broker in the area. I think he believes that his brother’s status as some big muckitey-muck is how he plans to shield the fact that he is robbing other people in the area to get the items he wants to sell. Cyrus buys a set of really old, non-magical surgical tools (good museum pieces) for 30 pounds; I counter by offering to tell him who robbed him for 30 pounds. He pays up.
We almost kill him then and there. I really, really do not like killing people unless it is absolutely necessary. This walking example of multi-generational cousin-banging is going to kick off a city-wide turf war with his inane antics, and is not only oblivious to it, but believes himself immune to the effects of his actions because of his BROTHER’S status as one of the ultra-white people in town! Seriously, Sergei and Marcus rolled their eyes so hard I think they collectively sprained them!
When Stafford all but blurts out that he now realizes that her recognized Victoria and is going to tell her brother about all of this, Sergei does what Sergei does; informed Mr. Stafford that doing so would lead to his immediate termination. Simply put, if we even THINK that Stafford is doing something that may irritate Victoria in the slightest, he would receive another visit, and it would end poorly.
This was PERFECT of Sergei; Stafford is simply incapable of realizing when he has lost, and will likely transfer his anger at Victoria towards Sergei. And Sergei, being Russian, can wholly subside on a diet of hatred, cabbage, and vodka.
As we excuse ourselves, Fast Eddie leaves as well, outside and out of earshot, he laughs his ass off, stating that bottom-feeding imbeciles like Stafford give the profession of middle-man a bad name, and letting us know that, while Stafford’s people were out looking for us post-robbery, he had his people break in and steal a translated copy of The Book of Enoch.
Take note, Stafford; that is how a PROPER criminal operates! Also, why does Fast Eddie want that particular book? I know he likes to get stuff to sell, but still…
We his Erasmus’s place (the Cullens are both entranced by his collection of oddities), and ask why his name would be on some list with these other folk. He states it looks like a list of possible buyers and sellers of authentic occult items in the immediate area, with Becknair being a know collector of the Stones of Dee. That tracks pretty well. Erasmus thanks us for the info, mentions that he might have a job for Sergei and I as investigators later, and Cyrus and I load up on some good ole American tobacco.
Well, as we know that Stafford will almost certainly send out thugs to avenge the numerous slights on his honor, we head over to Cyrus’s place to rearm and garb up. We pick nearby Regency Park as our battleground, head over there, and wait… for about two minutes. Two very, very large crocodiles burst from the stream to start the evening’s exercise.
Let me start with this: Elizabeth Cullen, when faced with a crocodile of about 13’ in length, responds by PUNCHING IT IN THE HEAD. And, to make this night oh-so-much more wonderful, the DAZES the creature!
A group of guys charge us from some nearby woods. They are probably ex-soldiers; they are all armed with modern-look swords. The standard donnybrook begins; lots of gnashing and wailing and people getting stabbed. Eventually, I dispatch a gator with my crescent-sword (which I now call Moon), and Aldo drops the other with a couple of well-placed shots.
While the fight goes on, two shambling mounds of vegetation are summoned onto the field to harass us; they, and the crocs, have glowing green eyes! This is the same modus operendi as the other times we have been attacked by critters or shrubbery! Everyone scans for the caster, and Sergei feels that he spots him in a distant copse of trees. It looks like he and a pistol-armed guard are about to make a hasty retreat.
Sergei is officially not having any of that crap.
Now, chalk it up to our Mad Russian to keep an ace up his sleeve, but this is near-operatic in its beauty. While we are croc-wrestling and playing among the swords, he rolls over one crocodile and, with the merest touch of his hand on Elizabeth’s arm, moves them both into the trees with the caster. No travel in-between; one second they are with me, the next they are with him.
The caster is more surprised than we are. He is even more taken aback when Elizabeth says, “Hello” buy, in one strike, shattering almost every tooth in the man’s head. It is one of the funniest and surreal things I have ever heard to hear that man curse in German, then sputter through his ruined mouth, “I am a vurry important person!” Seriously, reader… I almost quit and went home. It was not going to get much better than that.
As Sergei and Elizabeth soundly handle their new playmates, we make space for Cyrus to show off his skills. He seems to have a lot in common with Willy’s casting, but is much more varied. He knocks people, topiaries, and landscaping around with some kind of force-wave, and, in a very chilling scene, seems to use magical persuasion to force one man to turn on his friends with lethal precision.
In a few more seconds, the battle is over. Most of the mercs/soldiers are still alive, but unconscious. We leave them for the authorities, who show up and are very, VERY puzzled to find Dr. Cullen and his lovely wife claiming to have fought off some lowlifes with the help of a local savage (I was still there, because I am not letting 20+’ of croc skin rot). Seriously, they had hardly a hair misplaced, and the scene looked like a battlefield. The looks on those copper’s faces was beyond priceless!
We take our caster back to the office (Patti and Bia are there and puts a kettle on), and the interrogation begins. He is actually pretty forthcoming; he knows that he is unlikely to live to see the morning, and would rather not suffer whatever indignities we would force upon him between now and then if he were to keep quiet.
This man was hired by Herr Bechner to slowly and methodically kill off the members of the Munster House. He was the man who set up and ambushed Patrick Warburton, summoned the undead to kill Uriah Murray, and pushed Kit off a bridge. Bechner is a high-ranking Teutonic, and, for some reason, has it out for us.
Fair enough, Mr. Very-Important-Person. You get a quick death, as promised. But the issue of disposal… well, as this man killed several people that my life would have been enriched to get to know better, tried to kill us on many an occasion, and would continue to do so until death-do-us-part, he gets the special treatment. With a full-house okay for this course of action, Bia snaps his neck, takes him aside, and, after getting into an ‘outfit’ that better suits the task at hand, eats him.
But not before I snag the Teutonic ring off his finger. We have your name and face now, Bechner. Run away to Austria. Run to India; run to the deepest part of the Congo. I know you now, and not even death itself will stop me from having vengeance for Uriah. I will hunt you and yours until there is nothing left, and the people with me are no less resolute.
And then I will feed you to an Egyptian Booby-Beast and use the poop to plant a pretty flower garden. Because this is funny to me.