Oct: 11, 1866: We finally arrive back in London on the morning mail train. It is strange for me; all my earlier life was spent wandering from place to place. But now London feels more like home than any I have known since my childhood.
We head back to the House, being glad that it has not been converted into a smoking ruin in our absence. We are immediately confronted with news that I would have thought a joke if I did not know it was the truth; in our absence, Prof. Poole had gone to Montague of the First House and declared a truce. Terms had been agreed on for our two Houses to begin working together. Evidently this was something that almost happened in their youth when they ran in the same pack, but something (my guess is the circumstances of Poole’s injuries) spoiled that.
Well, Prof. Poole swallowed his pride and confronted Montague with this idea. I do not know the details of what went down, but I look forward to the results (I hope!).
We have SO much to do! Our first order of business is decided to be solving the case that Sergei and I had taken for Malachi Spencer. Marcus does a bit of research to start, then we head to the other House to check on Malachi. Emily and Jenny have been having lunches with him to keep his spirit up, but he is beginning to take a turn for the worse. The bad dreams are back, and he is beginning to change a bit at night.
We find out a good bit of information, such as:
1. Malachi is a Spencer of the noble family of Spencers. His dad was the Reverend Lord Spencer.
2. Malachi seems to be on a 21-day cycle. After Zoe clocked him one, it took 21 days for him to begin ‘redding out.’ This could be a set time, associated with the moon, or any number of weird conditions.
3. Malachi glows as if he has been enchanted. (As a side note, so does the vampire-glamoured Vaughn).
4. After a bit of Marcus-led research, we find that the 13th century smart-guy Paracelsus worked on similar ideas, and, like all people who write things down, might have hidden or lost notes EVERYWHERE.
Our decision (and those around to postulate on this issue with us) is that it sounds like a curse or potion from fairy-tales or myths. As we happen to know a mystic herbalist (good Lord, I actually know a bloody mystic herbalist! I LOVE my new job!), we head over to Erasmus Deen’s for a consult.
Deen is happy to see us, as always. And, better yet, he is willing to do a little free theory-work for us. He agrees with our ideas about a curse or potion, and is very interested in buying any samples or notes we find on the subject. Yeah… that is very much not happening, Mr. Deen. You are a nice enough guy for a mercenary, but a mercenary still. Go get your own magic potions, lazy!
As many of the attacks happened in Hyde Park, we also take some time heading there to check up on our favorite urchin gang. They do not have a lot of info, but Scab mentions that the kids in St. James park might know more.
We hit St. James Park (a very nice park near the rich part of town). The urchins here are less ‘urchin-y,’ more developed as con artists of the ‘lost little child looking for Mommy/Daddy’ type. One of their number mentions that he saw the monster a few times, always being trailed by a couple of tall men wearing weird hats. He also mentions that there has been a ‘phantom dog’ in the area, moving as if on patrol. We decide to wait around to check on this spectral pooch, just in case.
Yeah, it was Emily with Jenny ghosting her. Not surprising in the least; Jenny has been doing this almost all her young life, and Emily wants to help so bad it hurts. They get ready for the lecture about doing this kind of stuff being unladylike, dangerous, and so on. Sorry to disappoint, ladies, but we all agree with your choice! especially since this directly leads to their seeing two tall men in funny hats like mine and fancy sidearms watching the park. Every so often. Hats like mine? Sounds like Texans. That means either mercenaries of some sort, or Rangers. The girls tracked them to a coffee house in Whitechapel the mornings.
Of note: If Emily and Jenny are going to patrol, we have to set up a system to help them stay safe. Maybe go out with them a bit to see how they do it naturally. But I would feel FAR better if they had a couple more people with them for backup. Maybe Vaughn, Sixsmith, and Yates? Even if they do not find supernatural issues to fight, they can definitely make a difference in the safety of the homeless and poor in that frequent these parks at night.
Also of note: If they are going to go out on patrols, then we will have to speed up their physical and martial training. I refuse to let either of them be unprepared to fight, because a fight is surely coming for them.
We head to this coffee house and spot them on the patio. Yeah, they are about as Texan as two guys can be. Aldo and Marcus head in to chat with them, covered by The Firm of Pedoren and Watie. We figured sending in the Indian with Texans might be a bit to on-the-nose. They chat them up a bit, then motion us over.
They are Jonathan Sawyer and Samuel Fairchild, Rangers on the trail of a thief. This man, one Dr. Hobbes, stole possibly magical artifacts from someone stateside. While we do not mention magic overtly, these two strike me as guys who know this end of what we do, and that interests me a bit. Sawyer is also carrying a genuine Colt prototype cartridge revolver. Aldo almost bounced out of his pants wanting to see it, which Sawyer obliged. That is very strange, most Texans, let alone Rangers, would not let an unknown foreigner in a possibly hostile land touch their pistol. That leads me to believe that the gun is either not his primary weapon or that Sawyer is pretty confident in his ability to judge character. They also have Huxley listed as a contact, which leads me to believe that they have a friend in a CH, if not being members themselves.
Damn that Colt made some fine weapons. Yeah, they killed more of my people than old age ever did, but still… you have to admire the artistry!
Dr. Hobbes is in his late 20s, a prissy blonde, and likes the finer things. His standard scheme is to find a rich patron, milk them for money and favors, then move on. We are drawing a bit of a dead end, but I recommend we go have a chat with Fast Eddie la Salle. We head to the gentlemen’s club he uses as a base, and chat with him. An offer is made (the guys and I came up with the idea): if he helps us here, we will wipe the previous attempts at our well-being clean (just boys having fun). He can keep being naughty so long as he does not step over the line (which we left a very vague line, indeed!) or mess with us or ours. This must seem a miracle to him, and he agrees to look around.
Oct. 12th: We get some sleep, then head over to our esteemed lawyer, Mr. Beasley, to see how things are going. No messages at the House of the Firm, so we head to the other House to talk to Huxley. MAN that guy looks tired! While we are chatting, Malachi mentions that his friend Benton had an American friend named Hobbes, and that he had been at one of Benton’s parties shortly before coming down with a case of ‘the nocturnal homicidal rage monsters.’ A clue! We head to meet with Eddie, and he confirms both that fact and that Poole had worn out his welcome with Benton and was now staying with one Edgerton Maddock. As well, he and Maddock are known to frequent a rather risque brothel/fetish establishment on a regular schedule.
I wonder if the brothels in this country let Indians in the front door?
Well… I guess they will when he has been practicing his “I have killed more white people than bad dairy products” look. Also, Europeans are WAY too weird when it comes to this kind of thing! I leave a country that just killed a horrifying number of people to stop people from being whipped to go to a country where a bunch of rich guys pay to get whipped.
We decide to try a con; namely that my dad is secretly a Confederate loyalist post-war, and is interested in funding Hobbes’ research so the South can rise again. (Great Father, perish THAT thought!) That gets him REALLY chatty. I really do not like this guy; he thinks that being smart and cunning makes him automatically superior and, therefore, untouchable. He lets us in on his current notes, namely that several people in the room with him have undergone ‘treatment’ far more advanced than the unrefined potion Malachi accidentally drank at the party. They can be turned into obedient monsters with but a word, which he was SO SMART to set as a word in Comanche.
So, we just need to make sure that he does not speak that one word? Mr. Tomahawk can handle that operation! I introduce him to unconsciousness and, like the perfectly honed unit we are fast becoming, the guys become pure menace on the thugs in the room, sprouting guns, knives, swords, sword-knives, gun-swords, and the like. They make the smart choice and let us walk out with Hobbes (good… I would have actually felt bad if anyone got killed in there), and the matron of the house lets us know that we would NOT be welcome back in. Thank the Lord; I think some of the guys there would pay me to smack them around a bit.
We send for the Rangers to meet at the Firm, then head there ourselves (dousing Hobbes in liquor and doing the ole ‘drunk-friend-with-a-growing-bruise-in-the-shape-of-the-butt-end-of-a-tomahawk’ shtick). We convince him that it is in the best interest in his continual survival (and chance to escape) to start talking.
Hobbes is a mad scientist of the worst sort, doing this without regard to public safety or any sort of morality. He was going to sell the ritual to an intermediary, one Prof. Octavius Crane for big bucks, then probably to any other buyer who could pay. He also gives us a safety deposit key and a small box.
Sergei leaves with Mr. Sawyer to empty the bank box. They come back with several vials of the completed serum, a ritual book/journal, an amulet, and a scroll. All of them detect as magical. In the book is a rudimentary code that Patty (who was upstairs probably plotting to make a machine that prevents us from tracking dirt on the floors in here) breaks in about 10 minutes. Hobbes was supposed to meet Edgerton Carlisle in Paris. Carlisle is a well-known Southern zealot, a Captain from Georgia. It is pretty easy to figure out why he would have wanted such knowledge.
We let the Rangers grab the amulet and Hobbes for extradition, and we keep the book, serum, and scroll. The scroll is also interesting, as it is some sort of high-magic initiation scroll of Masonic origin. One of the very hush-hush things that their order would be amazingly sad to know was in the wrong hands. Hrmmm…
We head back to the 1st House. One of the rituals in the books covers something that should set Malachi’s transformations from ‘when he sleeps’ to ‘command word activated.’ The ritual goes off smoothly, and they let me handle the code word. I use the Apache word for ‘unconditional surrender.’
That will never be spoken casually around Malachi, for sure.
We decide to give the scroll to Bannerman. He is a Mason as well as a Brother, and though our initial meetings with him were sour and he probably hates the idea that savages, peasants, and the Swiss are in the CH organization, Prof. Poole worked hard to set up this new brotherhood in London. We will be damned before we see that die on the vine due to our action or inaction. Bannerman is shocked, relieved, and a bit confused at our gift.
Good. I like to keep ’em guessing.