Week 10, Losing Cantrel & Daewen
We find our heroes walking home after an active night, chasing around after a magician who is also being chased by a pair of demons. We've concluded that he probably managed to exorcise the demons and go to his own home. We have yet to lay eyes on him, though we've seen him in several visions. We've also lost track of Cantrel.
As we walk home through the dark streets, wrapped in invisibility, we debate on what to do next. (We do that a lot.) Should we make a frontal attack on this careless demonurgist? We decide not; it's barely Thursday, and the pantope doesn't drop by again until Monday. Which would be worse, FAILING to get the segment without a way to retreat, or GETTING the segment without a way to retreat? We could be off to hell in a handbasket either way.
Okay, should we try to find Cantrel? At first, we thought he might be off doing something sneaky, under psilence, but Sophie now doubts that; it occurs to her that Cantrel wouldn't stop flying unless he had to, and psilence precludes flight. Chris checks at home clairvoyantly; no Cantrel.
Throwing a small piece of caution to the winds, Tom tries calling Cantrel on the hand-comm. It seems to be ringing but no one picks it up. Tom still can't Find Cantrel psychically, but on Sophie's suggestion he tries Finding the communicator. He can. Uh-oh. Cantrel has been separated from it.
Tom launches his Second Sight after the Finding. It leads him over Regents' Park to the north. It crosses Primrose Road and heads toward a pair of hills in another park. One hill looks odd in the pre-dawn light, as if there had been excavations on it. As Tom's viewpoint enters the park, the Finding fades out, then resumes. Soon, Tom locates the abandoned hand-comm near the gate. There's a sign identifying the place as "Albert's Park." More signs identify the two hills as Primrose Hill and Barrow Hill. Barrow Hill has some kind of platform or monument on it. And it's Barrow Hill that has the excavations on it. It would.
Tom drops his Second Sight and we head for Albert's Park bodily. We retrieve the hand-comm at the gate and Alag tries Retrocognition on it. Telepathically, we all watch:
At first, there is no sign of Cantrel. Then we recall that he was invisible just like the rest of us, so this is not to be wondered at. We see Barrow Hill explode silently, producing the gouts of displaced earth we took for excavations. Two more demons -- nasty winged humanoids, anyway -- come flying out and go screaming up to Cantrel, who appears in the act of falling, having turned on psilence in the hopes of repelling or disabling the demons. He grapples in mid-air with them, looking rather the worse for wear. Then the whole trio is sucked back into Barrow Hill. The demons do not look any more masters of the situation than Cantrel.
Somewhat shaken, Lorelei tries some Detect Magic spells and gets faint, strange residues reminiscent of things picked up at Raffles' apartment and at Carlfax Abbey. But nothing big.
We approach the hole on the hill and Lorelei probes at it. It goes in a short way, then stops. There's still little psi or magic or what-have-you. Tom's Second Sight finds no hidden tunnels, either.
Daewen offers to try. She walks down into the hole. Seconds later, she is off the telepathy net. No cries of alarm, just gone. Great, just great. Well, we have to try and rescue them. What was that about going somewhere in a handbasket?
Alag and Lorelei go into the hole first. They fill it. Nothing happens. They examine cracks and things for dimensional anomalies. Alag tries a bit of Second Order Glamour, like grandma Daewen used to make. Nothing.
At Tom's suggestion, we wait for dawn, when he calls loudly to Cantrel and Daewen, with no results. upset and discouraged, we all go home and try to sleep.
The elves need much less sleep than the humans. Chris and Sophie are up bright and early to read the morning papers. These report many curious things:
Sophie tries in vain to contact Daewen or Cantrel telepathically. Around nine, she and Chris decide to go see Holmes. They make their way to baker Street, trailed by an Irregular, and find Holmes still in his dress gown but already brimming with energy.
Chris tells Holmes that we have a lead on the Eye. So does Holmes. He has been on the track of the Gentleman Burglar, who last had it. It's a pity that his effects are now so hard to examine. And trod all over by the Metropolitan Police. He also wants to know what we were up to last night. Nous? Yes, well, last night's events seems in the style of our "flair for the extravagant." He knows about our trip to Carlfax (who doesn't?) and suspects we have had something to do with Raffles, whom he believes (correctly) to be the Gentleman Burglar.
Chris admits to exhibiting our "flair" at Carlfax, remarking only "I tried to talk her out of it." Holmes finds it distressing the way things blow up and people die and evidence gets destroyed just as he is about to draw a conclusion. Not that he thinks it is our doing, of course, but that it is all part of a pattern that includes us.
Holmes speculates that Raffles and his accomplice Bunny stole the Eye some time not long before their flats and some bodies got torn up. He thinks it unlikely Bunny is the murderer. The victim, still unidentified, was probably just another border.
Holmes agrees with Chris when Chris opines that the murder and the current possessor of the Eye are one and the same. Holmes suspects we have more data than he on what happened to that victim. We do, but Holmes isn't gonna like it. Sophie produces a vivid sketch of the magician and the Eye while Chris tells Holmes what the magician did last night -- conjurations, slaughters, thefts, exorcisms, and all.
Holmes receives this information imperturbably. He does not claim to believe the story, but concedes that WE believe it, and that this is important data in itself. Chris informs Holmes that the strange disturbances at Barrow Hill (including people calling in the dawn twilight) are not directly connected to the magician's activities last night, that we can see. The goings on at Carlfax are even less connected. Chris hints broadly that we were vampire hunting, but doesn't actually admit to it. He then asks Holmes for the history of Carlfax.
Holmes says that four years ago, several violent but unpublicized events occurred in and near the Abbey, involving a man claiming to be a European nobleman named "Dracula," believed by many, plausibly himself included, to be a vampire, in fact a 350-year-old prince also known as "Vlad the Impaler." While he was in residence at the Abbey, there were many unsolved murders in the area -- more, in fact, than the recent "Ripper" murders. He was opposed by several Englishmen and women, and a Dutch expert, who drove him out of England. Recently, the Abbey was reported haunted again. There have been more disappearances, but not in the "Dracula" pattern.
After our visit to the Abbey, and after Challenger had had his turn muddying the waters, Dr. Watson went over for a look. He found some ectoplasm (not calling it that of course), and has been unable to identify it except as "organic." He found some reasonably fresh blood stains of an interesting type. Holmes speculates that the person who left them was either suffering from the malady called "vampirism," which might affect blood chemistry, or was extremely foreign. Chris votes for extremely foreign. (It was Cantrel's, chock full of genetic engineering.)
Sophie asks if Holmes knows if we have any competitors. "No, no one as ... distinctive as you. (Though to the unpracticed eye, you probably do not stand out overmuch.)" They then ask in what way we're odd. It's much as we feared -- our accents, our gaits, our unnatural strength and energy given our apparent ages and backgrounds. ("Seldom do young ladies keep their weapon hands free at all times.") Very hard to do much about. Only Holmes himself, Challenger, M. LeRouge, and one or two highly placed but retired government officials would be likely to notice, however.
Lest Holmes regard us as a threat to the public safety, Chris tells him that all we will do once we get the Eye is leave, taking the train of disasters with us. Does Holmes know ANYTHING about the other Eye? Only that it vanished 70 years ago. It's whereabouts is no more known that that of the Mogul's Eye, a fabulously large and much-stolen diamond. However, it is said to be in Asia. The elves cringe, remembering Mme. Zoltan's predictions.
Chris asks if there is anything he can do to help Holmes. "I'd be fascinated to know where you came from." "After we get the Eye, we'll give you the whole story. In part, I was born and raised in the English-speaking part of Brazil." (In the 31st century...)
Chris and Sophie go back home. Tom and Lorelei get up in time for lunch and learn of the Holmes interview. Sophie creates a fake Eye using Second Order Glamour and an empty spool from her sewing. She then suggests we attract attention by claiming to have the one true Eye. We'll hide it around the house with deliberate carelessness. She tucks it under her mattress, where the maid is sure to find it while making the bed.
Sophie and Chris then go painting and guitar playing in the park while Tom goes out and conspicuously buys a large and sturdy safe. As we discover by clairvoyance, the maid finds the fake gem all right, and puts it back without even opening the wrapping.
Tom goes down to the bookshop and finds that one person has collected one of the cards he left with the clerk in case anyone else was interested in strange lights and explosions. Tom almost buys a book on demonology but decides against it. He then gets the address of the local branch of the Theosophical Society.
At the Theosophists', he collects their literature in gratifying volume and asks when their next meeting is. Tomorrow. What other occultist groups could they recommend or warn against? They are willing to bad-mouth some other occultists. Do they have anything to say about the weird phenomena lately? "Madame reported a great upwhelling of astral forces recently." "Madame?" "Madame Blavatsky, sir." "Oh." A disturbance in the Force. But we already knew that.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.