Week 16, Assisting Holly
We left our heroes variously engaged after an encounter with demonic creatures in the basement of Jacob Braithwaite's mansion. Chris, Sophie, and Tom were setting out to visit Mr. Holly, who had just asked for their assistance by telegram.
Checking Holly clairvoyantly, Chris discovers he is badly beaten up, in a bed at the Adventurers' Club. Given this un-ladylike locale, Sophie decides to stay home and Pfusand takes her place.
At the Club, we are shown in to Holly's room, where he lies abed, partly dressed. He caught a person breaking into his flat, or was caught BY them. On returning from an errand, he found a door open and the room rummaged. Passing through, he was hit from behind by a cudgel or sap. He turned and fought with his assailant. Again he was struck with a cudgel, and this time passed out.
He woke about an hour later and summoned help. He found some African artifacts missing, including a walking-stick map from Ethiopia, some carved figures, gems and ore samples, and some old and interesting jewelry. (None of it was a star sapphire like unto either Eye of Dalgroom.) The gems were crude diamonds worked into objects of power. There was an emerald in a gold pendant, as well.
The interesting thing is that Holly SAW the thief -- a man named Musgrove, usually styled "Major." Holly describes him disdainfully as an undisciplined dabbler in the sciences who is full of wild theories and fancies himself a modern renaissance man. He's an opportunistic sort long suspected of being a plagiarist.
Holly wants us to get his property back, naturally enough. He thinks Musgrove was after The Shard. Shard? Holly's last trip to Ethiopia was based on the translations he made of writings found on an ancient potsherd. Holly describes this shard as his godson's inheritance. It's very large, some four or five feet long and a couple wide, written on both sides in many hands and languages. Musgrove, Holly says, entertained some wild occultist ideas taught him by a Frenchman, and, from the little Holly knows of those ideas, might want the Shard himself to find his way to Ethiopia on some vague occultist mission. (Sounds like our kind of guy...)
Tom asks for written permission to search Holly's apartment. Holly is willing, but this is trickier than it sounds. Holly was thumped on the head twice, soundly, and finds himself at least temporarily unable to write very well. Tom writes out the letter and Holly tries to sign it. Somewhat belatedly, we bring in the footman to "witness" the signature.
We recommend our medical services to Holly, but first he'd like to see his own doctor, Mr. Henderson. (Henderson!?!? A lot of excitement ensues on the telepathy net. Chris points out that it's a very common English name. Tom is still suspicious. Chris consents to put a Pattern on the room, set to notify us when this Dr. Henderson shows up, so we can get a clairvoyant look at him.)
Over at Holly's flat, we find no one about, but there's a new padlock on the door. We go over to the nearest police station, introduce ourselves as friends of Holly's and produce the letter. This works, and we gain entry to Holly's apartment, on the condition that we disturb nothing and in the company of two large policemen. Good enough.
Employing methods both mundane and arcane, Tom finds no archaeological goods except a mahogany box, locked, full of artifacts. There is no sign of the famous Shard. There are faint and enigmatic psi residues such as are typical of this time-line. Tom does find a strand of hair, a pair of twisted threads, and a patch of reddish mud. He does Findings on these things and finds they point to someone south-east or south-south-east of here.
Meanwhile, Alag has gone off to Albert Park in search of Cantrel's missing bits of equipment. With a bit of Finding, he locates a nunchuk and a psi opener. There's still a stun pistol missing. Finding leads Alag to London University College, where someone opens and shuts dimensional gateways like pantope doors much too often for our peace of mind. And they've collected our stunner. Should he go in after it? Should he even send in his clairvoyance? Daewen, consulted telepathically, strongly recommends against it.
The problem with NOT retrieving the stunner, as Chris points out, is that the people who picked it up (assuming them to be worldbenders) can use it to Find us, just as we have been doing Findings on others. The stunner was one of a pair; as a small protective measure, Chris slaps a small Cloak on the other stunner.
He then makes a clairvoyant check of 221B Baker Street. Holmes is out. There are some telegrams waiting for him, but none look like they concern us. Next, Chris takes a look at the dead body in Pfusand's room and does a Retrocognition on it. As we suspected, the former owner was killed unpleasantly by demons down in that cellar full of mist and mud. Shortly before that, he was fighting with the man who impaled the demon with the sword-cane. Then he saw Jonathan Goodhue and heard him yell, "No, no! Jacob, don't!" So this is almost certainly Jacob Braithwaite.
Chris puts forward the hypothesis that Musgrove now has the Eye of Dalgroom and is headed to Ethiopia. Pfusand therefore goes to the docks and checks out the steamship schedules. Musgrove doesn't appear on any of them, nor are any headed immediately for Ethiopia or environs.
Chris and Sophie, meanwhile, go to the library and look up Musgrove in the social registers. He is a Lord Gordon Musgrove, lately a Major, who served in Egypt. Just before the librarian shoos them out, they locate a picture. It is the man with the sword-cane, who impaled the demon and fought with Braithwaite.
About then, the Henderson-recognition Pattern clicks. Chris sends checks on Holly clairvoyantly and sees him being examined by a gray, bewhiskered doctor who doesn't look like any rendition of Henderson we've ever met. (But then, we've all in disguise too.) Passing this on to Tom for what it's worth, Chris and Sophie move on to Holmes' place.
There, they find that Holmes has just come back. He is ordering up an enormous dinner. (Busy day.) Chris tells him of the attack on Holly and Holmes notes (somehow) that we have been to Braithwaite's. Chris tells him of the enormous time-slip at Braithwaite's and remarks that Holmes wouldn't believe what we encountered there. "Nonsense," the Great Detective replies crisply. So Chris and Sophie elaborate some more on demons and strange deaths.
The big time-slip and the odd behaviors exhibited by the humans do not surprise Holmes in the least, given the more mild time-slips and derangements obvious in the surrounding neighborhood. He remarks on the resemblance to the time-slips reported in fairy-hills. (He says nothing about the demons. Perhaps he thinks we hallucinated them as part of the general pattern of derangements.)
Sophie reproduces for him the engraving on the demon-killing sword. Holmes doesn't recognize it, though he is sure it is no modern language. He thinks it might be Asian.
Holmes shares Holly's low opinion of Musgrove, but is surprised that Musgrove would resort to blatant physical attack. He is usually more white-collar about his crimes. But the whole underworld is in turmoil lately. Chris asks if there is any connection between Musgrove and Jonathan Goodhue, but Holmes knows of none. He suggests that Musgrove perceives some connection or similarity between the Eye (brought to England by Quartermain) and the Shard (brought to England by Holly). He also remarks it would be interesting to know if any museums have had substitutions made with any of their more exotic artifacts. (None have been reported.)
Supper time approaches. Chris and Sophie make their farewells. As parting questions, they ask if Holmes knows how to locate the Society of St. George. He doesn't believe it has any formal meeting place. And how would he get to Ethiopia? He'd START by taking a steamer to the Continent.
After we all have supper, Lorelei takes a tray up to Jonathan. She shakes him lightly, working in a slight bit of healing magic as she does so. After she feeds him a bit, he becomes lucid enough to be confused. "How did I get here?" and all that. Lorelei tells him where he is and how long it's been (a day and a half), and asks why he came to us.
She then proceeds to delicately pump him for an account of recent events. He answers readily enough, but somewhat deliriously.
When Jonathan got back from his watch at the hill, he found a series of wires from Jacob, indicating a rising level of alarm. He hurried over to Jacob's house and found no one about, but the door ajar. He heard footsteps but found no one. Then he heard unsettling noises from the cellar. He descended and found one of the steps broken -- odd because of the sturdy construction of the place. Down in the cellar, Jacob came bursting through a door, saying, "Jonathan, thank God you're here! Come and help me!"
The hallway was full of mist and the mist was full of THINGS. (Sounds familiar.) Jacob started down the hall, leaning on a "walking stick" and wobbling unhealthily, as if he had internal injuries. He said things Jonathan can't bear to repeat or can't recall. He wanted Jonathan to help him do something vague and mysterious. Jonathan gets more delirious here. He is distraught and remorseful because there were things he knew he ought to do and say, but he just stood there. Jacob was "trying to put it away."
Jonathan noted the water on the floor, very much out of place and mixed with blood. There was the mud, too. The original cobblestones were visible but translucent and intangible. Jonathan couldn't bear to look up into the mist. There was a terrible scream and Jacob came lurching out of the mist. Jonathan stepped back and fell on the steps. He seemed to fall forever. (Time-slip effect?) Something grabbed at his ankle. He tore free and stumbled up the stairs. He clutched at something he wouldn't name, but almost certainly his amulet. He thought of us and came to us.
Jonathan then starts to maunder about a letter form Jacob that he can't recall exactly, nor remember where he left it. Something about being out of his depth. It is muddled in his mind with Raffles' apartment and the demonic events there. "He said he lost it and that all he could do is close the d-- be the d-- no,... He asked me to help him. Said it was hopeless, but he had to make amends." He also mentioned have been deprived of the proper means.
Lorelei inquires about the staff and learns it was yew wood, rough-made, "such as I have seen used on the fens." She also learns that the rest of the Society of St. George was not involved. Rather, Jacob wanted to "show them all, but it had gone awry."
She asks about the Eye of Dalgroom and Musgrove. The names mean nothing to Jonathan, but he recalls Jacob said something about putting out or losing an eye. At the time, Jonathan thought Jacob meant his own eye. Jonathan begins murmuring about Jacob's despairing sacrifice again: "Too many people had died before him already, he said. He said it was late."
Next, he begins getting all twitchy and sensitive, talking about "twisted places," notably Barrow Hill and Jacob's cellar. Lorelei mentions Carlfax Abbey and he confirms that this is a twisted place too. He looks around him and remarks, "It looks funny here. It isn't twisted here yet, though." Thank you, Jonathan; we try. Lorelei, who has been murmuring words of reassurance and encouragement to him for some time now, puts him to sleep with a gentle spell. We then devote some time and energy to returning Braithwaite's body to his ill-famed cellar.
We feel more and more sure that the Eye of Dalgroom is with Major Musgrove, who has stolen it from the amateur conjurer Jacob Braithwaite and split for Ethiopia by way of France. The ickies trailing in his wake are probably minions of Dalgroom. We plan to organize an expedition with Goodhue and Holly and chase after him. (Thus putting Madame Zoltan's predictions right on track.)
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.