Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, June 2, through Saturday, June 4, 1892
Because Grimes previously had caused construction damage in the evenings of prior events, they expected him to follow the same pattern. As they watched him that day, Grimes had a visitor in the form of a middle aged gentleman, middle class in his attire, who came to the photography studio. The gentleman went into the studio, apparently met with Grimes, and then shortly afterward left.
Not long after, the same gentleman returned but he had help with him. Grimes came out to meet him as the gentleman stood by and the help removed a wheelchair and a finely dressed woman from the carriage. After the woman was put in the wheelchair, a small bundle was quietly taken from the carriage and placed in her lap.
“Something’s wrong,” Archibald quietly observed to the others, “but I can’t quite put my finger on it.” As Grimes held the door for the procession into the studio, and then followed them inside. “The woman and infant are dead,” Evgenia pointed out. “I’d guess the woman and the infant died in the birthing process and the gentleman is getting a portrait of his recently deceased family.”
Bartley, Dracona, Archibald, and Evgenia took overlapping shifts throughout the night to keep watch over Grimes’ building. Grimes didn’t leave the first night and Bartley chose different spells for the new day. There were more typical customers on the second day followed by a second uneventful evening.
On the third evening, Grimes left the building through the rear entrance, and came up the alley between the buildings. Instead of heading someplace, he came right across the street to where Archibald was observing his building. “Might I inquire as to why are you watching me?” Grimes inquired.
“Was I watching you?” Archibald answered with feigned innocence. “I remember you from the bar,” Grimes dismissed his answer. “If you are that interested in what I’m doing, I’ll invite you in.” “Well, some strange goings on in the area have piqued our interest and we’re just trying to figure things out,” Archibald countered. “What might such things have to do with me,” Grimes replied.
“I’d say that you know about some kind of magically summoned creature created from the missing concrete at construction sites,” Archibald put forth. Grimes seemed amused at Archibald’s forwardness and knowledge of supernatural things. “I needed the concrete for my experiments,” Grimes admitted, “and I intend to continue my work.”
“What might these experiments entail?” Archibald steered the conversation. “Walk with me,” Grimes offered as he started down the street. Because it was toward where the others were, Archibald obliged Grimes.
“You’ve no doubt noticed that my business has its share of work with the dearly departed,” Grimes continued. “I seem to have … a way with them,” he admitted. Grimes spoke proudly of his command over the dead as he continued walking into an alley with Archibald letting him talk.
“But, I’ve also figured out how to summon creatures,” Grimes continued. “But stay here a moment,” Grimes instructed as he stepped about 30 feet farther down the alley. “Let me show you something.” Turning to face Archibald, Grimes said, “up.”
The concrete creature rose from the cobblestone of the alleyway between them. Archibald was not surprised at Grimes’ next instructions. “Kill him,” Grimes plainly ordered the creature that nearly filled the width of the alley.
Archibald drew his gun and took a wild shot at Grimes. His second shot was not as wild and hit Grimes. The creature moved up and slammed Archibald twice with its fist like appendages. Grimes took note of the wound and cast a spell.
Archibald shot Grimes again but this time it didn’t harm him. That spell was most probably to protect him from gunfire. The creature swung wildly and Archibald managed to avoid the blow and Grimes cast another spell but again Archibald didn’t know what it was.
Evgenia arrived at the alley entrance, moved in and shot the creature with her Winchester but it was not as effective as she would have liked. Dracona moved into the alley and fired the shotgun that she’d purchased during rat hunting at the creature. The spray of the shotgun had no effect on the creature. Bartley cast a spell and ran up to the wall in the alley. There he quickly climbed the wall with magical ease to the roof of the alley buildings.
Archibald fired upon the concrete monster as the thing swung twice at him again, putting a hurting on Archibald. Grimes cast another spell but it seemed to have no effect upon his intended targets. Evgenia moved closer, shooting the creature again as Dracona moved. But, she slipped in a patch of greasy cobblestones, went down and still blasted the creature with a fire breath.
Bartley cast another spell to conceal himself, moved across the alleyway rooftops and came down invisibly behind Grimes. Archibald shot the creature again and it smashed him hard twice, knocking Archibald out as it stepped closer to Dracona on the ground. Grimes was greatly amused by Archibald’s defeat and told the creature to kill the rest of them.
Evgenia shot it again and moved closer to her fallen friend as Dracona stood up and blasted it twice with fire. Bartley took an attack on Grimes who was surprised to find one of them behind him. The creature turned its attention to Dracona, slamming her hard twice in response but Grimes called for the creature to help him.
Evgenia administered one of their healing implements to Archibald and Dracona attacked the creature. Bartley attacked Grimes, again, and stepped back away from the creature. Archibald got up and stepped out of the creature’s reach.
Grimes stepped back to allow the creature to pass him and get at Bartley but the lumbering creature could barely get to Bartley. Dracona swung at the departing creature and harmed it again. Evgenia shot Grimes and although it was not as effective as it should have been, it was still effective against Grimes.
Dracona blasted the two of them with her fire breath twice, setting the creature on fire. Bartley hit the creature with his magically enhanced sword, causing full damage to the creature. In a bold move, Archibald moved up, drawing his rapier and cutting Grimes with it. The creature attacked Bartley and slammed Dracona hard.
Grimes put out the crackling fire on his creature while Evgenia shot her last cartridge at the creature. Dracona swung twice at Grimes but missed him. Bartley sliced into the creature, again, as Archibald attacked Grimes, again.
The creature swung wildly at Dracona but missed and then slammed Bartley as Grimes put out his flaming creature again. Evgenia shot the creature again while Dracona swung twice at the creature, hitting it both times. Bartley’s blow caused the creature to vanish and Archibald hit Grimes, again, inadvertently killing Grimes.
Quickly searching Grimes’ fallen body they took his wallet, the keys in his pocket and the fancy ring on his finger. In the wallet were his home address, a few dollars, miscellaneous papers, a safe combination and a calling card with no name on it. But the calling card had a symbol of a six fingered hand.
Leaving the body in the alley, they left the area and went to Grimes’ building. With the wallet missing it would look like a robbery and it might take police longer to identify the body. Once identification was made, the police would most likely head to Grimes’ place. So, they had to search Grimes’ and be gone before police arrived at the building.
Once inside, they used their other healing implement to help Archibald recover even though most of them had been hurt in the battle. Bartley quickly found the key to open the inner door and they advanced through the foyer to the door with a frosted glass front labeled Grime’s Photography Studio and Quaint Posings to search it.
Inside, they saw that the shop sold cameras and film and took pictures at arranged sittings in back. A half door in the back of the shop swung open to a large back area. There were multiple sitting areas with different staged scenes and costumes to match the scenery. There is a western cowboy bar, an elegant Victorian fireplace scene, an arched mahogany doorway with a fake door that opened to a building wall behind it, a medieval castle scene with king and queen thrones, an outdoor picnic scene, etc.
There were also three doors in the back. The first was unlocked and led to an office with a desk, chair, numerous file cabinets and a safe. While Bartley set about opening the safe with the combination, the others searched the file cabinets.
Among the numerous client files were dozens with names and addresses circled in red. Almost all of those circled seem to be for single person poses, none were families. On the desk were numerous bills and documents addressed to Luther Grimes at the building’s address, but on the 5th floor.
Bartley opened the safe and inside were tons of negatives for a gruesome collection of people with physical deformities in abject poverty, corpses in various states of mutilation, decay and desecration and a number of larger images of just the heads of humans as well as some animals.
The second door was locked with a sturdy lock but it was no match for Bartley’s skill with the right key. It led to another photographic scene, but that one was straight out of the Inquisition. A mind numbing number of torture devices littered the area inside. An enormous rack centered the room and was surrounded by an iron maiden, a guillotine, a Judas cradle, stocks, hanging cages, chains and manacles on the walls, and even authentic blood draining gutters cut into the floor that drain to a corner and then to the sewers. As they looked around, a rat peeked out of the blood tunnel, apparently looking for a meal.
The third door was unlocked and led to stairs going down into darkness. They decided to search the upper floors before heading into the bowels of the madman’s place. Re-closing the door, they went upstairs.
The second to fourth floors were empty. There was a welcome mat in front of each door, but they were eerily empty without so much as a cobweb in them. The majority of the fifth floor apartment was full of the normal accouterments of life you would expect in a large apartment but not much that stood out.
However, one room had a sturdy padlock on the outside as well as a normal door lock, which the keys opened. Inside the padlocked room, taking up all four walls of the 20’ x 20’room was a gruesome collection of photographs and a few charcoal drawings made into a montage. The photos included people with physical deformities in abject poverty, corpses in various states of mutilation, decay and desecration, and a number of larger images of just the heads of humans as well as some animals.
Bartley recognized one of the photos as Mangas Coloradas, the Indian ghost they’d encountered in Arizona. Archibald recognized another as Charles Guiteau, the assassin of U.S. President James A. Garfield. “We will need to search for skulls,” Bartley informed.
A few of the severed head images were charcoal drawings rather than photos. “Oh no,” Evgenia exclaimed as she recognized her Romanian uncle in one of the charcoal drawings. Perusing the macabre photo room, they found charcoal drawings of an infant and yet another drawing of a Grenadier guardsman, Fredryck’s kin.
Ovila, the harper, was depicted, as well as Don Marco Marciano, Dracona’s underworld contact, and Bartley’s uncle Carlos. Archibald recognized the visage of Arthur Goring Thomas, the composer he’d hired who had supposedly committed suicide in March. The final charcoal drawing, had the visage of Brina Adalbjorg, Adoline’s missing bodyguard. Evgenia pulled the edge of a photo back to expose initials on the corner of the drawing, “EF”. Each of them was visibly upset from the imagery of the room.