ChapterHouse

From the Journal of James Watie: A Shocking Turn of Events!

Aug. 23-25: Lord Dundas is nice enough to have us over as guests as Aldo rests up. He, his wife, and his staff are absolutely wonderful people (for white devils). Aldo spends the time reflecting on the wreck his life is turning into (seriously, all calamity we find seems hell-bent on getting Aldo). Sergei is working out some new facet of his magic by staring at things very intently. And Willy?

SIGH Willy…

It seems that finding Dundas’s artifacts is on his menu of ‘things to do.’ Nevermind this man and his family probably saved our lives at the best, and gave us immense advantage in our hunting at the least. Willy seems incapable of rationality when it comes to these things. He searches until he finds a secret passage (which all British houses over a certain age and size are evidently required by law to have installed) and convinces Sergei to open for him. The two of them (Sergei does not let folks wander off alone) commence to seriously invade some privacy, finding a private study upstairs and a Templar vault locked by magical sigils below. They wisely decide to leave the vault alone and head back up.

If Willy’s curiosity keeps up at this rate, he is going to get someone killed (my bet is Aldo).

After dinner, Lord Dundas invites us to see his vault. I mentally prepare to kill everything, ever (‘fattened calf’ scenarios flash through my mind), but keep it to myself. I am proven pleasantly paranoid. The room is dedicated to Mithras, a mystery cult from the Roman times. It impresses Willy to no end, as does Dundas’s collection. He has the gladius that I used to kill ghosts with, an ancient Templar shield of unknown origins, a Templar breastplate, and a banner depicting several of the prominent knightly orders of the 1st Crusade (from around 1098). He is proud of this collection, as well he should be.

Aug. 26th: We take our leave of the Dundas’s, with Lord Dundas mentioning that we can rely on his meeting with our representatives to discuss possible sponsorship of the Munster House. This is very interested, especially as he personally knows Bannerman of the other CH in London, knows of our hard times, and is still choosing to back our play. Whether he truly believes in our mission or just likes to poke Bannerman matters little to me; we will take his money and support with a smile.

We get back to London, snag a few meat-on-sticks for the walk home, and head to the CH. Poole is transcribing some ancient tome while Jenny works on reading lessons. I like having her around; children make a house feel more like a home. At dinner, Patti mentions that she may have us a case for our Agency. We are to meet with our prospective client on the 29th, which gives us time to take a day trip tomorrow out to Aberdeen to check out what is being held there in trust for the splintered London house. After dinner we head to the office to check out what Patti has done to the place. It is VERY well appointed, classy but well-lived-in to the eye, which is the air we prefer. Patti is pretty good at this kind of stuff; she probably lives vicariously through the CH field agents as she does not have the fortitude for field work.

Aug. 27th: We take the train to Aberdeen, arriving about 10AM. We hang out there for about an hour before someone arrives who can help us. He is a dapper-looking fella by the name of Charles Dunning. He does not have clearance to get us into the vault, but knows who can. We grab lunch while he goes to get them. A rather severe-looking older man arrives. He introduces himself as Maxwell Lithgow, the CH librarian. He retrieves a well-worn ledger that has a record of our joint holdings. We go through everything, skipping things that are of no obvious use to us now. Willy would like to see everything, but knows we simply do not have the time.

The items include:

The Armor of Guillaume de Sonnac,
A cloak pin – provides a magical field of protection,
Tyrfang – a sword that catches fire when exposed to flame,
A matched set of Egyptian rings – dedicated to Ra and Thoth, two of a set of three that allow users to change each other’s fates,
A stone ankh – the Egyptian version of our silver undead-repelling cross,
Several Egyptian scrolls – I can care less, but Willy wanted them for later translation,
Hrunting – a heavy iron sword patterned after the sword of Beowulf,
Mysterious Grecian dagger – single-edged, ivory handle with iron blade, dedicated to Artemis. Comes with a compulsion to kill that which would harm the innocent. Would like to excise Aldo’s brain-rider using surgical techniques of questionable merit,
Minoan axe – amazingly lightweight, but impossible to hide with ease as it is a double-headed battleaxe,
Grecian bow – Dedicated to the Greek goddess of mystery, night, and killing with little remorse, Hecate. Can speak to the wielder in their native tongue. Scares Sergei like crazy.

We contact the 1st House to arrange the loan of these items, asking specifically for Koenigsman. He allows the transfer of everything but the armor, but asks that the scrolls be held at their House for safety. Promises that we will have access to them as we need, but they are REALLY old and fragile. Sounds like a bargain well struck, we pocket our new arsenal and head for home.

The dagger tries to compel Aldo to play amateur surgeon on his own head. We prevent this and decide that Jenny is NOT allowed within 20 feet of this knife. We head home, where Patti (the magic item expert) goes over the items. The rings allow wearers to trade fates, and are part of a set of three. Willy takes them to work, getting Dr. Birch to take a look. Sure enough, a set of three; each ring has an inscription that reads "Ra/Thoth/’probably Apep, son of Nieth.

Aug. 29: We head to the office to meet our prospective client. He is an older fella, probably in his 60s (although his tired demeanor suggests he may be a bit younger). His dark, well-done suit belies that he is probably wealthy, or used to portraying as such. He introduces himself as Mr. Sterling. He is a bit hesitant about telling us the facts, but we assure him that the weird is our wheelhouse. The case:

Eighteen years ago (1848), his daughter Emily was defiled by an attacker. The attack reduced her to madness and left her pregnant. It is believed that her attacked was one Spring-heeled Jack, a notorious creature/person accused of attacks of a roguish nature. Known as more of a dashing nuisance than a rapist, that is all of the lead we have.

The thing that brings Mr. Srerling to us is that his grandson, now a young man, has been exhibiting strange powers as of late. A bright, well-liked young man, he has recently been seen asleep standing up and floating off the ground.

Now that is more like it! We agree to help, charging him expenses (including the all-important medical ones, if needed), and tell him that after we conclude our investigation he is free to pay us what he feels is fair. Honestly, this man feels at the end of his rope, and if we succeed in our endeavor he could make a rather good patron for the CH (and advertising for our agency). Between Sergei, Patti, and I, none of us feel up to taking advantage of a man who is this beset upon, even if he may be filthy rich. We tell him we will have a contract sent over, get his address, and wish him a good day.

MEANWHILE, Aldo goes to visit Father Delaney of the other House. It was partially my idea, I figured that he might know more about Aldo’s brain-rider. Delaney did not know specifics, but also did not care to know them. All he knew was that it needed to be exorcised NOW, and all but ordered it according to Aldo. As Delaney is not Aldo’s boss, he politely declined, saying that he might take him up on the offer but needed time to think. It will probably come back to bite us soon, but Aldo did the right thing; Delaney wants to help, but seems more of the one-cure-for-everything kind of religious person. Aldo is seriously considering Delaney’s offer, though.

We get the contract back, signed as we believed it would be. Our ‘Mr. Sterling’ is actually Michael Braddock, a very wealthy investor in British steel and railroad enterprises. We obtain permission to visit his daughter in Bedlam, discussing the issues of having me (hard-to-control spontaneous restless spirit syndrome) and Aldo (hard-to-control murderous innocence wrangler in his head) at the asylum, but we have to do what we have to do.

Emily is non-responsive at first, but we find this to be not entirely true. She can respond, but through seemingly spastic movements. It is as if she is fighting internally to be heard. This communication is limited to yes-and-no, for the most part, and since we have no idea on specific questions to ask of a 18-year-old cold case, it is maddening for us and ESPECIALLY Emily. She is being heard by people who believe her for perhaps the first time in 18 years, but cannot say what she wants to! I cannot imagine the frustration!

Sergei decides to try a little magic on her; so far as we know of his ability, it cannot hurt her worse than she already is! He powers up a bit, then drops enough electricity into her head that I thought she was going to burp a Zeus. And, once again, we got to witness a miracle (that, once again, had a rational-esque explanation). Emily’s mental fugue snapped. For the first time in 18 years, Emily is once again herself!

Out pours the story. She was a prospect for the Munster House, scouted by our brother Kit’s mom. She ran in a pack of 5, including a particular do-gooder named Jack. The ran around helping out as they can and agitated someone powerful enough to do something about it. That something, so far as we can tell, is to rape Emily and then have some sort of memory-wiping creature lock her away in her own mind, framing Jack for the deed (and possibly all of the other misdeeds of spring-heeled Jack of that era). This tracks; Willy mentions that Jack was said to be anything from a devil to a mischievous rogue in his capers.

This creature’s powers sound hauntingly familiar to the one that helped wipe out the chief of night shift at Scotland Yard. And, quite possibly, the person who did this to Emily may be attached to the person/persons who have been picking off our House’s members over the last few years.

Emily is on-board with our plan. We decide to bait a trap (YAY!!!); Emily will be heading home tonight (a tearful reunion with her Dad was one of the highlights of my young life, and I have stabbed a ghost to death for reference). Dr. Wakefield (her doctor) and an orderly will be going with in case of relapse (understandable, but I will bleed them both if they are in any way entangled with her being how she was for the last 18 years). We will be going with them as her resident experts in… hell, what do we call ourselves? Mental disorder repairmen? Cranial chimney-sweeps?

Wakefield seems genuinely relieved to see Emily healed, but word will get out. And since she knows the identity of her assailants, as well as the why they did it. They gave a warning to our CH to stay out of their affairs.

Though I never knew these brothers (and sisters), I feel perfectly fine extracting vengeance for them.

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