Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, April 3, 1888 to Wednesday, April 4, 1888
After the Lew coach returned to Dearford Manor, Lord Hubert Lew informed them that they had to leave to get Gordon from the train station. When Gordon came in, Margaret Lew, Justin’s widow was with him. Fredryck greeted her properly and it was obvious that she’d spent her recent hours in tears. Evgenia noticed that Gordon seemed to have a genuine affection for his sister-in-law.
Although Evgenia and Dracona wanted to dive into interrogating Margaret. The Baron asked if it was really necessary to interview Margaret as she was not at the scene and could not be a suspect. Being everybody had already finished their supper, Fredryck suggested polite conversation over tea. Gordon insisted on staying with Margaret through any questioning.
Margaret explained that she and Justin had hit a rough spot in their marriage. He was a kind husband, but he made it quite clear that she was not the object of his affection. Yes, Margaret discovered Justin’s affair. But, she was willing to overlook it providing he kept his obligations to her. Justin’s father, Lord Hubert, was not so forgiving when he learned of the affair and he tossed Beatrice out on the street without reference.
Margaret was staying in their London residence while they worked things out and give Justin time to clear his head. She revealed that she thought their marriage was on the mend as things seemed to be improving between them. Then, Justin came to her last week with the news that he was going to divorce her so that he could marry the maid. She did admit to being quite hurt, even angry, and saying some quite unladylike things before he got on the train, but she really didn’t want him dead. He insisted that he would formalize it once he returned next week.
Margaret stressed that she still loved and cared for Justin, even if she was angry with him. She admitted to wishing some horrible things on him since he told her of his plan to divorce her. But, now she wished she could take it all back. She never wanted it to end like this and she hoped that the criminal that killed him gets what he deserves!
She has not confided in her social circle for fear of spreading rumors. But, she has cursed his name recently. Concerning that, she mentions that she cursed his name during a private ball when the musicians inadvertently played their favorite song. Then again she had such wrongful thoughts when her friend was gushing about some pleasant surprise that her husband had sprung on her.
As far as her alibi, Margaret explained that she went to the theater in London the evening that Justin died. She and some of her friends went to see the latest Rupert and Finnegan theatrical production, For Love or Duty, at the St. Clement’s Theater in Piccadilly Circus. She supplied the names of those friends so that her story could be verified. The play ended less than an hour before Justin was killed and with a 3 hour train ride to Dearford, there was no way she could have done it. Being already into the evening, Lord Lew invited you to spend the evening at the manor.
Wednesday, April 4, 1888
The evening passed uneventfully and Dracona was well on the road to recovery in the morning. Shortly after breakfast, a man arrived from Dearford with a telegram for “Private Investigator Yermak, c/o Dearford Manor.” Evgenia informed him that she could take it and then told the others of its contents.
Detective Rumbold urgently wanted to meet at Scotland Yard, today at 3 pm, concerning some cases that he felt could be related to the murder of Justin Lew. Checking the train schedule they found that they could catch the next train and get back to London just in time to meet with Detective Rumbold at Scotland Yard. Lord Lew reminded them to keep him informed of their progress in the search for his son’s killer and had the Lew carriage take them to the train station when they were ready.
After the three hour train ride back to London, they had just enough time to drop their things at Evgenia’s residence and catch a carriage to Scotland Yard. When they arrived, they showed their telegraph to the clerk and were ushered to a small meeting room, not far from Rumbold’s office. They were told he’d be with them momentarily. As they waited patiently, they were surprised when officers came running down the hall. They noticed that the officers and staff were running to Rumbold’s office. One of them got a quick glance into the office before the door was closed and saw Rumbold lying in his chair with his eyes open. A couple staffers were tending to him as if he were dead and there were fresh bruises on his neck.
Rumbold’s office door was closed and an officer politely but firmly showed them to the door. As they exited, they noticed a tall man with short hair and a monocle watching them. They starting making inquiries with their escorting officer and the tall man came over to them. “I’ll handle this,” the tall man told the officer. “Outside, please,” he requested as the officer dutifully relinquished them to him and he motioned for them all to go outside.
Once outside, the tall man introduced himself as Chief Inspector Norrington. He made sure that they were the ones that Rumbold had hired and informed them that, indeed, Rumbold was just killed in his office. As you probably suspect as well, he believes that Detective Rumbold’s murder is connected to these other murders he’s been looking into. He understands that you were investigating the most recent of these similar murders and wanted to engage you to look into this matter.
He hesitated to assign Scotland Yard investigators to investigate Rumbold’s murder because he fears that the assailant may have a contact within the Yard. There was simply no way someone could have walked into Rumbold’s office, strangled him to death, and escaped without assistance. This was obviously well-planned and well-executed and he hates to think that one of his own is responsible. He wants those concerns kept quiet and expects your findings to come to him before anybody else.
If you accepted, he said that he would put his resources at your disposal. He had Rumbold’s office locked and guarded by outside policemen and nobody was to enter without his approval. He figures that perhaps you may find his notes useful in ferreting out this criminal so that he will pay for his crimes. He also offered to pay you a fee (a +1 Wealth bonus) for your efforts.
After you agreed, Norrington took you back inside where he had the guards stand aside and admitted you to Rumbold’s office. The office is a small room (practically a closet) with barely enough room for a desk and a shelf behind it. Rumbold’s hat and cloak still hung on the coat rack next to the desk. Rumbold had a folder on his desk that contains newspaper clippings and his notes on several murders that have taken place over the last month.
While Dracona looked at the décor, Fredryck opened the desk drawers to find a strange necklace. It’s made of slim leather, with an oddly painted red quartz pendant. Archibald noticed that the symbols seemed oriental and Evgenia indicated that they were indeed Chinese and that it had something to do with protecting from evil spirits.
Looking through the case file on Rumbold’s desk revealed that each murder has a newspaper obituary/article as well as Rumbold’s notes (while there are many more notes on each case, only immediately relevant clues are given). In order of death:
Lady Philomena Reed – was strangled in her house in Mayfair on March 12. Her husband, Lord Amos Reed, Baron of South Kent, was away in India and her son was at the country estate. Rumbold has written a number of notes on Lady Reed:
Complained of headache; retired early. Servants suspect waiting for lover. Housemaid Kate heard her exclaim “What are you doing here?” Thought lover had arrived. Rushed in when she heard a crash and a thump. Lady next to bed, strangled dead, Gas lamp on floor, broken.
Lover accounted for at time of death. Not a suspect.
Jonas Stark – a moneylender that operated in the City of London. He died on March 18 in a hansom. Rumbold noted similarities between Reed and Stark:
Victim was about to attend play with wife, Matilda, and associate Howard Silver. Left at last minute when he spotted client—Arthur Greenfield. Chased Greenfield into Whitechapel. Hired hansom to take him back to theater.
Cab driver, Jason Filmore, said victim was talking to himself, spitting out excuses for not paying and other nonsense. He heard victim say “What are you doing here? Why aren’t you with Howard?” Horses spooked; took Filmore several minutes to regain control. Victim alone in hansom, strangled to death.
Frederick Timms – a barrister and heir to a baronet title. He was killed March 25th, mid-afternoon. He was researching a case in the law library when he was strangled behind a book rack. Rumbold noted the odd timing but similar method of death.
Victim died in library. Librarian assured me that no one could enter or leave without being seen, but only four other men in library at time of death—-all within librarian’s sight. Same manner of death, strangled. Why afternoon this time? Victim engaged to Marian Parsons. Miss Parsons seemed little disturbed. Sir Marc is friend of victim’s father. Nothing useful to add.
Gwendolyn Jones and Martha Collins – Gwendolyn Jones was an upper class woman from Marylebone that had recently come out. She was choked to death in her own bedroom on April 2. Her lady’s maid, Martha Collins, was also found strangled just inside Jones’ room.
Victims choked to death as Gwen’s suitor (John Rathbone) and father discussed marriage proposal. Maid must have surprised attacker. Father sent butler up after a few minutes. Butler discovered bodies. Father, Butler and Rathbone thought they heard Gwen shout ‘Jenny!’ Jennifer Todd is long time friend of Gwen’s and formerly acquainted with Rathbone.
Justin Lew – Beyond the newspaper article, Rumbold had little to add (he hoped to get information from the PI).
Victim’s death seems to follow previous pattern; why outside London?
Of particular interest are two letters sitting at the back of the file. The envelopes are gone, but the stationary letterhead is from the ‘Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom.’ The first reads as follows:
Dear Detective Rumbold,
I understand that you are looking into the possibility of a serial murderer. I believe that there may be a connection to the murders beyond the conventional. Please see me at your earliest convenience; perhaps together we may put a stop to this nightmare before another victim is taken.
Sir Marc du Locque
As interesting as this letter is, the back of it is even more interesting. Rumbold has written ‘*bloody lunatic*!’ on it. The second letter is written in the same hand.
Dear Detective Rumbold,
How many more must fall to this monstrosity before you believe me? Please see me at your earliest convenience.
Sir Marc du Locque
They unanimously decided to start their investigation with the Temple of Oriental Esoteric Wisdom. Fredryck recalled that it is a gentleman’s club on Pall Mall and they headed out. On their way out, Fredryck asked if Rumbold went anyplace this morning. The receptionist (an eager young man) mentioned that he took a stroll up to Piccadilly “on a hunch.” When he returned, he was melancholy, calling the hunch another “dead end.”
Outwardly, the Temple does not look at all “oriental,” but, once one enters, the interior can only be described as Egyptian and Asian eclectic. Persian rugs adorn the floors, while pedestals and alcoves display laughing Buddhas, Egyptian and Indian deities, and other sculptures and artifacts from around the world. Chinese tapestries adorn the walls and Dracona took pleasure in examining them at length. A library is in the center and there is the smoking room, a comfortable area of pillows and chairs. Members casually smoke their pipes, cigars, and opium while wearing fez caps and smoking jackets embroidered with Chinese dragons and symbols.
The receptionist, Akhil Joshay, a gentleman of Indian descent wearing a sherwani (Indian dress coat) and fez cap asked if he could help them. Fredryck said that they wanted to speak with Sir Marc du Locque. Joshay nodded and escorted them to Sir Marc, sitting in the smoking room reading a mystical book while enjoying his pipe. He is a deceptively youthful-looking man with sharp features and a long moustache. Like most of the club members, he is wearing a fez cap and Chinese-inspired smoking jacket, and he also has an ankh necklace. He greeted you all warmly by standing and offering the traditional Hindu greeting, “Namaste.”
He informed that he’s been expecting your arrival since he heard about Rumbold’s murder. News travels fast in his circles. He wished that Rumbold had listened or at least taken his warning seriously. He went on to explain that he first contacted Rumbold because he’s well acquainted with the Timms family; the late Frederick Timms’ maternal uncle and he have been friends for over a decade. When his nephew died under mysterious circumstances, Nathan Reynolds asked him if there could be any preternatural involvement.
Assessing the situation, he believed that a preternatural force is involved and he shared his concern with Detective Rumbold. Unfortunately, Rumbold didn’t believe a single word and only took the protection as a courtesy. He noted that Rumbold never responded to his second letter and doubted that Rumbold used the pendant as proscribed. But, if Rumbold did, then he really is mistaken in his judgment.
Archibald brought forth the pendant, and Sir Marc verified that it’s the one he gave Rumbold. Sir Marc believes that the murders are either being committed by a “warlock” (his term for an evil spellcaster) or summoned creature. While Sir Marc is certain that mundane methods can handle most warlocks, handling spirits and demons is another matter. To combat such a threat, Sir Marc procured an “ancient Chinese solution,” the pendant. He explains that it has to be held up and the power word (something he said in Chinese) must be uttered until the spirit or demon is expelled from this world.
When asked about a motive, Sir Marc shrugged and thought that, sometimes, serial deaths are part of a dark ritual, but nothing seems to have been taken from the victims. He is unaware of any enemies Frederick may have had, certainly none that use magic. He did offer to help out if you wanted to pursue “spiritual inquiries.”
Sir Marc also offered any information that he can help with, but his abilities are limited. As more information is being gathered he might recognize similarities but may also be unaware on any underlying commonality. He closed with, “summoning is a nasty business and requires exact care when performing rituals.”