Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, August 21, through Tuesday, September 18, 1888
As in his standing orders, Fredryck reported to his commander, Prince George, on the asylum events and the subsequent destruction of the vampires in the traveling troupe. Pleased with his report, the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces dismissed him for the rest of the day. Fredryck returned to the Stanley estate by lunch. In the early afternoon, a telegram arrived for Fredryck. Adoline and her mother would be arriving in London at noon on Friday. He made arrangements to be able to meet them at the docks.
It was Thursday when Fredryck was at Yermak Investigations, telling them that Adoline was coming to London, preparing to start her classes at Oxford. Dracona and Fredryck were discussing arrangements for the staffing and renovations to the asylum. Fredryck was suggesting that Dracona would benefit from education, especially learning to read. As usual, Dracona was resisting his suggestion.
There was a knock at the door and James, the Yermak butler, answered it. “Lady Dracona,” James said as he came to the parlor with a calling card on a silver plate. “Your … usual caller,” he said with a disapproving air as he held the plate out to her. “Thank you, James,” Dracona said as she took the card and got up from her chair. James saw her to the door and closed it behind her.
Outside, Don Marco Marciano’s carriage waited. He smiled at her as she got in. With a tap of his cane on the roof, they were off on whatever route the driver knew he was to take. “I trust your trip to Over Wallop was successful,” he asked politely. “It took longer than expected but it was successful, yes,” she answered as she didn’t remember mentioning anything to him about her trip to the asylum. “Good, good,” he said with a smile and a pat to her hand before he grew silent and somber.
After an uncomfortable silence, he spoke. “It seems as if somebody has been shooing their mouth off about not paying their ‘insurance’ premiums. They supposedly said they haven’t been paying, at all, for a while, now.” He paused, again. “This is stirring up trouble amongst other people who have insurance. Who would be spreading such rumors, rumors that could be bad for business?”
He didn’t wait for her to answer. “Such rumors have to stop. So, I had some boys run it down, find out who could be spreading such … dangerous rumors.” He delayed again before resuming. “They found that this nasty, dangerous rumor came from one of the people that you collect from, Dracona. Because you collect from them, I want you to personally put a stop to it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“I’ll do that,” Dracona answered. “I know you can,” he smiled. “After all, I told those above me that there was no way that you’d deceive your family or even try to maybe set up on your own, right?” “Of course not,” she answered. “Of course not,” he repeated with a smile. “I trust you’ll take care of this little incident.” “It will be dealt with,” she said as they pulled up to near Yermak Investigations. “Enjoy your day,” he said as the carriage stopped and the doorman opened the door to let her out. “You too, sir,” she responded politely as she exited.
As the carriage drove away, she waved to get a hansom. Dracona started questioning the people that she covers the extortion payments for. Eventually, she found that it was the owner of the dress shop on Savile Row, in Mayfair, that let it out that she had not been paying her protection money. Upon learning that and with the hansom waiting for her at each place, she went directly there.
As she opened the door, the familiar jingle of the bell sounded to alert the owner. But the sight inside the dress shop was not familiar. The place had been trashed, everything overturned and tossed about. The owner was tearfully picking up things, trying to put them back in order. Dracona closed the door and helped the woman clean up. Several of the fabric bolts were sliced through in a pattern that said “knife it” indicating for her to be quiet.
“I didn’t mean to say anything,” the seamstress informed as they cleaned. “It just came out over tea. I told her to not tell anybody but now this.” “It’s okay,” Dracona assured, “but you can’t tell anybody. Everybody must know that you pay, just like all the other businesses.” “I will milady,” she promised, “I swear it.”
The events seemed to weigh on Dracona’s mind. She wanted a distraction so she decided that she’d perform that afternoon in her usual location. Arriving, she noticed the mime finishing her routine. As usual, since she was seen taking the money from “the family” that one day, the mime shot her a look of disdain.
Still, Dracona went ahead with her performance and earned a reasonable sum for her efforts. She noticed a man watching, not in the crowd but from about a block away. And, right before her performance ended, the man turned to set up his own display of sorts … just another performer finding the location of value. For a moment, there, she wasn’t so sure of that and she chastised herself for her flash of insecurity.
The next morning, Fredryck arrived early. Evgenia was going over the latest news with him when Dracona came in. “Did you see this?” Fredryck asked, holding the newspaper up to her. “No, what,” she asked nonchalantly. “Oh, that’s right, you can’t read,” Fredryck chastised.
“A revolting murder,” Evgenia read the headline. “Another woman found horribly mutilated in Whitechapel. Ghastly crimes by a maniac,” Evgenia read. “A woman’s body was found in Buck’s Row, Whitechapel, last night,” she summarized. “Apparently she had her throat cut from ear to ear, her abdomen sliced open and disemboweled.” “Gruesome,” Dracona commented.
“Just in time for Adoline’s arrival,” Dracona changed the subject. “Yes,” Fredryck chimed, “coming to the docks to greet her?” “Of course,” they answered.
At the docks it was Mary, Adoline’s mother, which they saw first. Fredryck presented her with the proper things and greetings and asked where Adoline was. “She’ll be along shortly,” Mary informed. And she was but it was not via the passenger gangway.
Then they saw a vehicle traverse over the edge of the ship and make its way down the cargo unloading ramp. Adoline brought her Benz Patent Motorwagen 3 to a stop near them and excitedly jumped out, embracing Fredryck before her mother cleared her throat. Composing herself enough to properly curtsey and greet them, Adoline informed that the vehicles that they had ordered arrived with hers. She insisted on driving as they went to the Stanley estate.
They only had a short time before Adoline would have to go to Oxford. Still, it was only the next morning when Mary called Fredryck aside before breakfast for a private conversation, a London paper in her hand. “Have you seen this?” she inquired of him as her finger pointed to an article on the identification of the woman who had been found butchered the day before.
“Polly Nichols,” Fredryck answered, pulling the name off the printed page. “She was killed in Whitechapel and found yesterday. It’s similar to a murder that occurred earlier in the month in that same area. Your daughter will be far from those things at Oxford,” he promised. Mary smiled. “And I trust you’ll keep her safe if any such things get near her.” “As I’ve promised,” he assured. Satisfied, her demeanor shifted pleasantly and she took his arm to breakfast.
Impetuous as she was, Adoline insisted on driving her vehicle to Oxford. A mechanic had already been arranged and trained in the care and maintenance of the Benz, even though Adoline claimed to possess the required knowledge, as well. Mary insisted on riding in a horse drawn carriage for the trip, though. So, Adoline chatted with Fredryck about his latest investigations as they rode along, the carriage following behind.
With Adoline safely at Oxford, Mary returned to France and things returned to normal. On Tuesday, September 4, the one paper reported on someone named ‘Leather Apron’ that might be responsible for the butchering of Polly Nichols. It took but a few days for somebody to be identified as him. But on September 8, another woman was found butchered in Whitechapel, much the same way as Polly Nichols. She was soon identified as Annie Chapman and the newspapers went bonkers with speculation and theories about who was killing the women. That was especially true of the Star.
A Whitechapel vigilance committee was formed and George Lusk was elected its president. John Pizer was arrested as ‘Leather Apron’ as were other people in connection with the murders. Scotland Yard had already assigned a detective to the case (not Norrington) and other arrests were made. But, none panned out as the killer.
It was the morning of Tuesday, September 18, as they all shared breakfast at Yermak Investigations. “I may need a little help with something,” Dracona informed them. “You want to learn to read, perhaps?” Fredryck asked encouragingly. “No,” Dracona answered, “something serious.” Fredryck put down his silverware. “Do you remember when we went against the Duffy gang,” Dracona inquired. They responded positively. “Well, I got involved with the other people,” she said. “Involved how?” Fredryck inquired.
“Well, I’ve been working with the Marciano family,” she continued. “They were appreciative of the way we handled the Duffy gang trying to take over in London.” “Do you know what they do?” Fredryck asked. “Well, I was helping out the people, keeping them safe from the family. I just thought that it might be handy to keep a close eye on the less desirable of London,” she defended, unsure of herself.
“You thought that it might come in handy so you infiltrated them,” Evgenia surmised. “Yes,” Dracona snatched at the opportunity to make it look right. “I wanted to keep an eye on them,” she continued, “gain their trust.” “I think that Norrington needs to know this,” Fredryck insisted.
Going to Norrington at Scotland Yard, he pulled a few files. “This is your contact, Don Marco,” he informed. “He runs protections and isn’t very high in the organization. But, it’s a good start. Keep with it because we’d really like to get evidence on the people higher in the organization. Particularly, we’d like to get anything on this man.” He put a file on the table. “Vernon Culver?” Fredryck questioned. “He was just some bloke that beat his wife.” “Yeah? He sent some goons after you, didn’t he? We think he’s higher up than it seems. Still, keep your eyes open and see what you can find out.”
Norrington collected the folders. “But, I actually have something else that I’d like you to check on,” he said as he closed the door. “There’s a guardian in the Fellowship that’s been injured in a fire at his residence. I’d like you to investigate the place and then visit with him. His name is Marcus Bloom and he’s at the London hospital.” “You want us to check on a Fellowship person that you know where they are?” Evgenia questioned.
“Well,” Norrington answered, “you see, on September seventh there was a fire at a Fellowship safe house at Queen’s Gate Terrace. A week later, a guardian’s house is set fire. I don’t know if they’re connected but Mr. Bloom has been with the Fellowship for a lot longer than I.” He gave them the address of the Bloom residence on Aubrey Walk and they left to investigate.
Getting to the Bloom residence, they talked with nearby residents and learned that a young homeless man often came by to dig in the garbage. Also, on the night of the fire, a young woman was seen. She was in her early twenties with blonde hair and freckles and clothing of most young women in the local lower class.
Getting into the house, it looked like everything of value was destroyed either in the fire or the subsequent watering that put the fire out. Looters had also already gone through the place. Searching carefully, they found a loose brick in the fireplace chimney. Pulling the brick revealed a small compartment that held a silver pendant of a jagged lightning bolt. With nothing else to find, they headed to the London hospital to talk with Mr. Bloom.
Bloom was in the hospital recovering from burns. He has a wooden leg that was beside his hospital bed. Once alone with Bloom, they showed him their pin and he responded with the proper handshake before they began their hushed discussion. “Two weeks ago, the Fellowship safe house at Queen’s Gate Terrace was attacked. The arsonist is still out there. Originally, I was going to get you to help me establish a new safe house and investigate the arson. But, more pressing matters have come up since my place was burned.”
“You think they’re related,” Evgenia responded. “It’s possible,” he answered. “Seven years ago, I retired as a hunter and became a guardian. I have a briefcase filled with documents that I was keeping safe. I hired a young boy, Thomas Jacobs, to act as my courier if I needed a package transported in secret. He was to check near my house and if he found a package to take it to the safe house.”
He winced a bit before continuing. “When my home was burned, I rescued the documents and tried to get them to safety but it’s possible that Thomas found and took the briefcase to the safe house. The neighbors believe that the family that owns it is currently living in South Africa so be discrete about entering it. If the briefcase isn’t there, Thomas may have it. But, to keep him safe, I kept out of his life as much as possible and don’t know where he lives. When I first hired him, he lived at the Orphan Asylum in Knightsbridge.”
Dracona brought out the silver lightning bolt pendant. “Oh, you found that,” he said. “When I was first recruited, the organization was run by a woman named Rose. When the Six-Fingered Hand assassinated her, our new leaders changed our symbol from a silver rose to a silver lightning bolt. Of course, it’s no longer our symbol but I kept it in its old hiding place, anyway. So, if you could check the safe house, see if the briefcase has been left there or if Thomas is there.”
It was dark by the time they got to Queen’s Gate Terrace. The neighboring row houses were already being repaired but the safe house was only boarded up and left. Again, the neighbors reported seeing a young woman of the same description on the night of the fire.
The brick of the row house didn’t get much damage but the interior walls need replaced and there wasn’t much furniture. The building is in better shape than Bloom’s, perhaps because there was less to burn here. Even without the fire, it looked like the home had not been used in a long time.
Upstairs, the bedrooms were untouched by the fire but smoke damaged the curtains, mattresses and bedclothes. The building itself was still sturdy. In the master bedroom sat a man, crosslegged on the bed, playing cards.
“I knew that if I waited long enough, you’d arrive. I’m Aleksander Matl, of the Order of the Dragon. I’m on a most urgent mission. The Order of the Dragon are old allies of the Vatican. We were founded to defend the Church against heretics. Some have also called us The Order of Saint George. We are to Hungary what the Order of the Garter is to England, or the Order of Saint Patrick in Ireland. Nine years ago, the then-current leader of the Order negotiated an alliance with the Keepers of Lightning. My understanding is that they’ve changed their name, though.”
“Fellowship of the White Star is what they’re called, now, and I’m Sir Fredryck Stanley,” Fredryck informed. “This is Evgenia Yermak, Archibald Barisol, Priscilla Sinnot and,” Dracona shook her head at Fredryck, “my sister.” “Nice,” Matl answered. “Although we’ve had no contact that I know of since our leadership changed, I hope that I can consider you allies. I know, from my investigations, that this house is owned by the Keepers of Lightning … or Fellowship of the White Star. And, you have something that I need. The Keepers have a yellow amulet of Turkish design that the Order gave to them for safe keeping. According to the documents in that case, the amulet is here in London.” He motioned to a briefcase in the closet that matched the description from Bloom.
“For the last 8 years, we were content to let Keepers watch over and protect the amulet. But, we fear that your ability is no longer up to the task. Your fellowship has grown weak over the years. Others now seek the amulet. The Dark Riders of Egypt, The Servants of the Serpent, and even The Six-Fingered Hand have recently begun searching for it. A man named Jack Griffin is in London now, searching, stealing, and even killing for it. For the safety of us all, the Order of the Dragon is reclaiming the Amulet of Galata.”
“I ask you, as one reasonable man to another, to give me the Amulet peaceably. Let us resume the care and guardianship of its power. Meet me here at midnight Thursday with the Amulet, and I will ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.”
“Thursday? Today is already Tuesday, nearly Wednesday,” Fredryck questioned. “We have superiors to report to. We’re not qualified nor authorized to make the decision on whether to give the amulet to you or not. We don’t even know anything about the amulet or its whereabouts. We will need more time.”
“I don’t have much time,” Matl explained. “Every day, enemies grow closer to acquiring the amulet. We’re fortunate that they’ve not discovered it and begun fighting amongst themselves for it. They’re not as subtle as the Keepers, or the Order. I’ll be here at midnight on Thursday. If you can’t make that, I’ll be back at midnight on Friday but that’s all I can give you. If it isn’t on its way to the new location by then it may be too late.”
“We’ll see if we can see you on Friday with the answer from our superiors. If they agree with you we’ll have the amulet, too,” Evgenia responded. “Who are the Dark Riders, serpent servants, Six-Fingered Hand and Jack Griffin that you spoke of?”
“The Dark Riders are an ancient society of lycanthropes. Centuries ago, they sided with the Turks against my people. The Order of the Dragon stand against them no matter what they do.”
“Our reports say that The Servants of the Serpent are a cult of Set, but that they worship other serpent gods as well. Their influence has reached halfway around the world, and they are seeking power wherever they find it. And, they aren’t very particular about the damage they do in their search.”
“The Six-Fingered Hand is a group of human, mortal lunatics who seek to destroy the world. They believe that man has grown too powerful and that eventually nature will create a backlash that will destroy us all. They feel that the only way to prevent natural disaster is to instigate unnatural disaster and hope that whatever survives treats the world better than we have.”
“Jack Griffin is a scientist. It’s claimed that he’s mad. But, I know that he faked his death at the hands of the Shepherds. He was never mad, but incredibly cunning. I would fear him, if I were you.” Matl paused and looked around. “I fear him and I’m not you.”
“The Order is only interested in protecting the amulet from these and other potential threats. Again, we were content to let the Keepers guard it, but now there are too many different organizations with too many different goals to allow you to continue to protect what is rightfully ours. Let us take the responsibility and the risk.” “Do you know who set fire to this place?” Dracona asked.
“I did not burn this establishment. I don’t know who did and I wouldn’t draw attention to myself in that way. But, since it was burned, I saw no reason not to take advantage of it. If you deliver the amulet to me, then I will help you find out who the arsonist is. I understand that you may not feel that you have the authority to return the amulet to the Order. But, the Hand isn’t going to ask you for it. Griffin isn’t going to ask you for it. They’re going to kill you, and anyone around you, and take it from you.”
You see, the amulet is one of a set. If all of the amulets are ever brought together, it will allow the return of a great evil to our world … an evil that only a few are insane, misguided, or greedy enough to work for … an evil that the Order and the Keepers, or Fellowship, as well as other qabals, worked together to banish. I think that I can honestly state that neither of our societies wants that to happen.”
“We’re taking the briefcase,” Fredryck informed as he moved toward it. “Be my guest,” Matl said motioning toward it. “I presumed it belonged to the … Fellowship and you may need it if you don’t already have the amulet. I’ll be here, again, on Thursday, Friday if you can’t make that.”
With the briefcase in hand, they left the former safe house and sought Norrington. Norrington referred them back to Bloom, the senior Fellowship member that he knew of, for a decision. “Alexander Matl,” Bloom acknowledged. “Yes, the Keepers worked with the Order and the amulet was entrusted to us for protection. With the safe house and my fire, something is afoot so it might be better to return it to the Order, for now.” Still, Bloom was concerned about Thomas so they went back out to search for him.
Asking around the lower class areas, they learned that Thomas is a construction worker that does odd jobs for extra money. When he has money, he stays at an apartment in Whitechapel. They also learned that Thomas gambles when he’s sober and owes a considerable sum to a local card shark. The sum seemed to vary based on when the last time the person spoke to him, an increasing debt as time went on. The card shark goes by the name of Edwin Hyde and they learned that Thomas has a girlfriend named Mary Whittaker and an opium drug habit, as well.
Also while in Whitechapel, they notice Vernon Culver out and about, visiting gambling establishments, opium dens, whore houses, and even invited the occasional prostitute into his fancy carriage. They surmised that he’s either spending a lot of dosh or involved in some way with their operations.
And speaking of prostitutes, Dr. Hynllek was seen about Whitechapel, too. He was doing his usual things with the prostitutes, just like he was when his bereft wife had them follow him in past investigations. His associate Mrs. Mary Pearcey, the abortionist known as “the Ripper” in Whitechapel, seemed to still be supplying the doctor with aborted fetuses, and the prostitutes with abortions of unwanted pregnancies.
And, the doctor’s more recent associate, Mr. Deehee, a striking man in his early 30s, was seen coming out of Dr. Hynllek’s office on Whitechapel Street, using local Whitechapel daily rental places, meeting with the doctor in the open where money has changed hands, and from previous investigations also frequents prostitutes, gambling houses, and opium dens.