Week 17, Healing Holly
It is Saturday evening. Our heroes plan to organize an expedition with Goodhue and Holly and chase after Major Musgrove, whom we believe has the Eye of Dalgroom. But first we must return Jacob Braithwaite's body to his house. We thoroughly equip ourselves, muffle ourselves and the corpse up in invisibility, and set out for Grovsnor Square.
We enter by way of the back door through which we left. Opening the door to the stairs to the kitchen, we find it heavy scored by claw marks. That does it! We throw the body down the stairs and bolt.
A block or so from the house, Alag checks clairvoyantly on the gargoyle we left in the attic. It's gone now, though the web of ectoplastic silk he wove around it is still in place. We can hope that it just disintegrated.
Once back home, we settle down to plotting. We decide to pay off Holmes for the work he's done, but to keep the house open in London -- both to avoid announcing our departure and to have a foothold in London. Both Goodhue and Holly are badly beaten up, so a quick departure means quickly healing both of them. While Tom and Lorelei go upstairs to see to Goodhue, Chris and Sophie take themselves to the Adventurers' Club, to see how Holly is doing and to talk to him about this godson of his who is connected with the shard.
At the Adventurers' Club, the butler warns them that Holly is under doctor's orders to keep quiet, so their visit should be brief. When ushered into his room, they find the doctor in attendance is Dr. Watson. Chris asks Holly if his godson is in any danger of being attacked and robbed. Holly says that to attack or rob him, Musgrove would have to find him, which is unlikely. Does the godson have this shard? No, Holly does. Chris: "We didn't find it at your flat." Holly: "Good." He seems to think it very well hidden. Chris: "Does Musgrove know of the shard?" Holly: "Yes; he has my journals." Chris: "Would he try to get it?" Holly expects he would.
Chris then invites Holly on a Musgrove hunt. "Out of the question," Dr. Watson says. "This man has a fractured skull. He'll be out for weeks." (Oh, will he?) Watson is sympathetic to the general idea of a Musgrove hunt, however, and warns Chris that the Major is ambidextrous. Chris bids Holly good night and leaves, leaving behind a psychic alarm and assorted tracers, and very much hoping this is the real Dr. Watson. He joins Sophie whom he left at a cafÚ, then clairvoyantly scans Holly's room for that shard. Nothing. And Watson returns to 221B Baker Street in a perfectly genuine manner.
Meanwhile, at the house, Lorelei is probing around inside the sleeping Goodhue. She finds that the internal injuries are mostly healed up, but there is a nasty infection left over. While Tom supplies mundane if futuristic antibiotics, she continues the healing work.
Once Goodhue is taken care of, Lorelei and Tom set out for the Adventurers' Club. They want to speed up Holly's recovery and also to mount guard on him. Since they may not want us to visit and certainly don't want us to stay, we go invisibly. Holly's room was on the second story; we climb and levitate up to the third floor, open a window with TK, and ghost into a library or study. We then start looking for a stair down to the second floor.
This sneaking about invisibly, by the way, is not as easy as you might suppose. First, you have to avoid bumping into people. Second, you have to X-ray doors with Second Sight or Deryni Probe before entering, so as not to surprise anyone on the far side with mysteriously swinging doors. If there IS someone on the other side, you have to cast a glamour on the door so it doesn't look like it's opening. And to do THAT, you have to wait until they look away, because you can't cast the glamour until you can SEE the far side of the door with your mundane eyes.
So, after some tiresome skulking about, we find a door beyond which is a stair down to the second floor. Unfortunately, there's a club member at the top of the stairs, dozing in a chair. We slip past him and down the stairs. We then come on another man in a chair, this one more obviously on hall-monitor duty and wide awake. Lorelei casts a sleep on him and Tom props him carefully in his chair. We slip through his door too, but at the last door leading into the corridor of Holly's room, we find a standing guard with a gun. It seems the Adventurers' Club is taking its own security measures. A good idea, no doubt, but a little awkward for us at the moment.
Feeling it would be too suspicious to sleep a standing guard, we turn and head down another flight of stairs, to the first floor, where we hope to find a flight up to the far end of Holly's corridor. The first floor is much busier, and we are kept busy ourselves, dodging people. Seeking the stairs, we make our way into the kitchen, to find it occupied. One of the occupants is washing the floor between us and the door to the stairs. So Tom gives Lorelei an invisible, telekinetic piggy-back ride over the soapy water. We slip through the door and up the stairs, to confront another door. As is habitual by now, we X-ray through it.
Here is the corridor along which Holly's room lies. And there are two people in it. One stands in front of the far door with a rifle. The other leans against Holly's door in a chair, wears jodhpurs, and has an elephant gun across his knees. Damn, damn, damn.
While we debate the relative merits of sleeping both of them and of causing a distracting noise, we are interrupted by ... a distracting noise. A crash and lots of cursing. The standing guard turns and opens the far door to look through; the seated guard turns to watch. Seizing the opportunity, we slip through our door.
Instantly, the seated guard turns and stares at the door, now glamoured to look shut. "It's just Challenger," the standing guard reports, shutting his door on the bass bellowing. We wait for the seated guard to relax his suspicions, but he doesn't. He draws the only elephant PISTOL Tom has ever seen and stared fixedly at our door. We waft out of line of fire and consider creating further diversions.
However, it seems that Prof. Challenger will once more save us the trouble. He blows into the corridor complaining about men who fall asleep on watch. Has either of the two seen anything. "The door moved," the seated guard reports. Challenger stumps down the hall and flings it open. Tom quickly projects an image of a large rat in the stairwell. "Just a rat," says Challenger. "Odd looking specimen." (Oh really! Over the telepathy net, Chris and Sophie snicker about "not sending a human to do an elf's job." Tom invites them to shinny up a toadstool. "Be careful what you wish for," they titter.)
Alas, Challenger does NOT open Holly's door to check on him; he just leaves. Unable to think of anything else to do, we sleep the two guards. First, we sleep the standing guard, covering the deep with a standing image. Then the seated guard, who takes two tries. We try the door and find it locked. This is really just as well, because there is a large Arab with a proportionately large sword standing poised on the far side, as a belated X-ray reveals. Peeking through the key hole, Lorelei sleeps him on the second try. (Tough customers, these adventurers.) Next, she picks the lock by TK. We shove our way past the fallen Arab and find Holly vaguely conscious. Lorelei starts healing him anyway, and the increasing level of comfort puts him to sleep. By the time she's done, he's in perfect health.
At the far end of the telepathy net, Sophie has been running through her memories and opines that the seated guard is none other than Alan Quartermain, the man who brought the Eye to England.
Tom X-rays the door before going out and finds that Quartermain is conscious again, pistol aimed at the door. The other guard is nowhere to be seen. Tom swings the door open and sends out an image of Challenger, who makes a typically peremptory beckoning sweep of his arm and plows off to the far door. Quartermain gives chase. Lorelei and Tom dash for the door back to the kitchen. Behind them there is a crash and some highly un-Victorian language as Quartermain flies through the vanishing Challenger-image. Immediately, the footsteps are behind us.
Throwing glamour to the winds, we dash down the stairs and fling open the kitchen door to find that the scullion has most of the floor covered with soapy water now. Tom lofts and takes Lorelei with him. [Critical hit on TK.] Quartermain, of course, can't. He slips, falls, skids through the mobs and brushes, and comes to rest under a table -- but with his gun still at the ready.
Lorelei and Tom are not hovering invisibly at the kitchen door. Time for glamour again, Tom reckons, and tries to project a closed image over the door as he opens it. TRIES to, and fails. [Critically.] The whole door sparkles with Disney-dust. Quartermain fires at the doorknob, blasting a hole inches from Tom's fingers. Tom flings the door open and flits out. More shots follow. Hovering in the alley, we listen:
Challenger: "What the hell are you doing?"
Quartermain: "The door did something queer."
Challenger: "What, attacked you with a bucket?"
Challenger: "Then take your foot out of it." (clatter bang crunch)
Quartermain comes leaping out the door, pistol ready, and looks around. We fly home, reflecting that Oscar Wilde will soon say that "No good deed goes unpunished." On climbing into bed, Tom has an odd feeling of being watched. He has come to trust such feelings are looks about carefully with arcane and mundane senses. The new companion, it turns out, is the footstool, which now appears to be composed of carved toads. Toad-stool. Ha ha. Right. Tom throws it down the hall.
Chris and Sophie, meanwhile, are checking out the Adventurers' Club clairvoyantly, Holly's room in particular. It's now about 10:30, and we have Holly, the Arab, Challenger, and Watson present. Watson rouses Holly, examines him, and learns that he feels a bit weak and cold. The good doctor is very puzzled to find Holly so much healed. He confides to Challenger that it is "highly unusual. The wounds are almost completely healed but he's in a state of shock." (He is?) "Keep him warm. Don't give him alcohol, but plenty of warm fluids. And keep a close eye on him."
Watson then interviews Quartermain. Quartermain describes the moving door, ascribed to a rat by Challenger, "but he may have missed something." Shortly after that, he and the other guard, "Job," found themselves waking on the floor. Job went for help and Quartermain covered the door. Challenger came out but did not give the proper signal, so Quartermain jumped him. (We get the impression Quartermain was rather happy for the excuse.) He then recounts the activity in the kitchen, including the strange glitter at the door. Shortly thereafter the real Challenger showed up "to bless us with his opinions in these matters." Yussif, the Arab, felt that he had been attacked by "demonic influences."
Watson examines Holly's room, including the rugs, and finds several people have trampled over it recently. He remarks that the disturbance and the shock rather contradict the sudden improvement in health He believes the person who broke into Holly's flat has also been in this room. (Either Musgrove has been around, or Watson is mistaking Tom's traces for Musgrove's; Tom was in the flat too.) Watson says he'll send word to Holmes.
The next morning, we get a telegram from Holmes:
Hope you were involved in Holly incident last night. If not, please inform
Am two days ahead of you. Took Dover to Calais ferry Friday morning.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.