Clockwork 1888 Session 60

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, November 1, through Friday, November 9, 1888
After being asked to keep an eye on things in the area that Jack the Ripper has been active, they figured that the murderer was working out of some place in the area of Fashion Street and Flower and Dean Street. Their suspicions lay mostly upon Dr. Hynllek and they followed him, mostly. In their observations, they saw the suspected crime boss, Vernon Culver, conversing with a prostitute. The prostitute actually gave Culver money, however.

Later, the doctor was seen speaking with the same prostitute. Money exchanged hands but to the prostitute, this time. They observed that as the doctor was conversing with the prostitute, Mr. Deehee was observing them.

Later, early in the morning of the 9th, Fredryck saw Mr. Deehee leave a place at 13 Miller’s Court. Investigating, they found the glass pane next to the door broken. It allowed them to trigger the door latch and they entered to find the scene of Jack the Ripper’s latest victim.

Fredryck spotted Mr. Deehee down the street. Deehee saw him and leaped to the rooftops. A chase followed and they found themselves near the doctor’s office on Fashion Street.

Clockwork 1888 Session 59

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, October 25, through Wednesday, October 31, 1888
Wrap up of Gibraltar adventure. They delivered on what they said they’d try to accomplish, freed 3 ghosts, solved 5 murders, freed an air mephit to return to its home, caught the psycho killer, Edmund Fields, and went back to London with a new FWS member, Bartley.

With the return to London on Wednesday evening, Oct. 31, the Jack the Ripper newspaper sensationalism was in full swing. The police had gotten hundreds of letters claiming to be from Jack the Ripper, all or most of which are probably phony. The newspapers had printed letters purportedly from Jack the Ripper that include the Dear Boss letter, the Saucy Jack postcard and the From Hell letter to Mr. Lusk, the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, which included a piece of a kidney supposedly from the Ripper’s victim.

In addition to Jack the Ripper running about, there seemed to be another killer on the loose. That killer dismembered their female victims leaving the torso separated from its head and limbs. Although some think it’s Jack the Ripper, others have dubbed this one the Torso Killer.

Bartley had not kept up on the happenings in London so they brought him up to speed on the Jack the Ripper and Torso killer victims. So far:

  • Tue., Aug 7, Martha Tabram, was stabbed 39 times in chest, abdomen, throat, and genitalia with 2 different knives. She was found in George Yard Buildings.
  • Fri., Aug 31, Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols’ body was discovered at about 3:40 a.m. in Buck’s Row, Whitechapel. The throat was severed deeply by two cuts, and the lower part of the abdomen was partly ripped open by a deep, jagged wound. Several other incisions on the abdomen were caused by the same knife.
  • Sat., Sep 8, Annie Chapman was killed similarly to Nichols. Chapman’s body was discovered at about 6 a.m. near a doorway in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields. As in the case of Mary Ann Nichols, the throat was severed by two cuts. The abdomen was slashed entirely open and it was later discovered that the uterus had been removed.
  • Mon., Sep 17, The first possible letter from Jack the Ripper arrives but was kept away from public knowledge and the media. It talks about people wrongly thinking Jack is Jewish, that he’s right under the nose of Lusk (head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee) and it’s signed “Jack the Ripper.”
  • Thu., Sep 27, the Dear Boss letter was received at the Central News Agency. It was thought by the public to be the first to use the name ‘Jack the Ripper’
    Sun., Sep 30, Elizabeth “Long Liz” Stride and Catherine (Kate) Eddowes are both killed sending London into a panic. Part of Eddowes’ bloodied apron was found at the entrance to a tenement in Goulston Street, Whitechapel.
  • Mon., Oct 1, the Saucy Jack postcard was written and received at the Central News Agency. It talks about a double event. But, it was postmarked after details had already been published in the papers. The morning issue of the Daily News first prints the text of the Dear Boss letter.
  • Tue., Oct 2, “The Whitehall Mystery” was the term coined for the discovery of a headless torso of a woman in the basement of the new Metropolitan Police headquarters being built in Whitehall. An arm belonging to the body was previously discovered floating in the river Thames near Pimlico, and one of the legs was subsequently discovered buried near where the torso was found. The other limbs and head were never recovered and the body was never identified.
  • Mon., Oct 15, the From Hell letter was postmarked and sent with a human female kidney preserved in alcohol to George Lusk, the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee.
Clockwork 1888 Session 58

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, October 25, 1888
They went to investigate the death of the seamstress. Melinda Krupt, a 38 year old seamstress had apparently died of natural causes, collapsed on Main Street. Her fiance, Private Dodd Langernesse, was contacted and said that she was in good health the night before when they had dinner. He appeared to be quite distraught over her death. When she collapsed on the street, there was quite a panic as the citizens came to her aid. By the time the authorities arrived, she was found to be quite dead. Doctor Applegate at the fort performed an examination (not an autopsy) due to the number of odd deaths recently and theorized that she died of a heart condition.

They started at the location of Melinda’s collapse and began scouring Main Street looking for shops with EF initials. Fredryck went into a tavern and bought a round. “A round on me and tell me who on Main Street you know with initials EF,” he announced. His round of drinks gained him many thanks and a plethora of names. That included Eulogio Fava on Waterport Street, Emma Ford who runs a small cafe off Main Street on King Street, Ernesto Ferro who works as a bellman at the Royal Hotel, Edmund Fields who runs the Main Street Grocery on the other end of Main Street, Edwin Francis works at the ironmonger at Waterport Street No. 6, Edith Fetherstonhauch is the baby daughter of the Lt-Colonel, Eleanor Freyone is the daughter of A. Freyone of the photographic studio at 99 Waterport Street, Ezra Farquhar is the son of Horace at the Imperial Insurance Co. and Eric Fulton the son of another Lt-Colonel.

Evgenia wanted to take an object reading from Melinda’s personal effects and went to talk to the fiance, Private Dodd Langernesse. With the fiance permission, Evgenia examined her personal effects and quietly did an object reading on the woman’s dress. She’d visited a few shops on her normal errands and nothing seemed out of place, extraordinary or unusual. There seemed to be nothing of apparent importance to her death other than she was coughing, got breathless, fatigued and nauseous before she collapsed.

Coming back together, they decided to check on the latest deaths of John and Matilda Loving and their two children. On Monday, Oct. 15, they died in their sleep. Officials reported that no source of a leak could be found after gas technicians turned off the main, checked everything and turned it back on. Their home was next to the City gates (long in disuse other than as architectural notes). They sent one of their military escorts to secure entry and talked with the locals as they waited.

Talking with the locals, they learned the legend about two ghosts that purportedly have been stuck to the vicinity of the City Gates for almost 200 years. Apparently, in 1727, two Moors, Gildas and Al-Andalus, were caught trying to seize the gates and open them to a Spanish siege force. They were flayed and their skins nailed to the gates.

Their escort returned with access and they entered to investigate while their escorts waited patiently outside. As they went throughout the humble abode, Priscilla, bringing up the rear of the group, heard somebody walking behind her but turned to see nobody. Then, Dracona swore that she saw the eyes blink and head turn slightly on a baby rag doll in the little girl’s room. When examined, the doll has no ability to shut its sewn-on eyes. Then they heard something clatter to the floor in the kitchen.

Getting to the kitchen they found a paring knife on the floor. Evgenia reached out to pick it up. The knife suddenly twitched and turned to point in the direction of the gates. Uneasy, but pressing forward, Evgenia told the others that she would take a reading on the paring knife as she grasped it. She got a vision of a skinless bloodied hand picking up the knife from its place and smashing it to the floor.

Then, she felt a chill in her hand and saw her breath form a small cloud. Caught off guard, she had no choice but to succumb as the cold suddenly coursed throughout her body. The other looked on as Evgenia’s eyes rolled back in their sockets and a strange voice came from her gaping mouth. “Why are you here?” the guttural voice asked as the water in her breath vaporized in the chill that had suddenly formed around her.

“We’re investigating the deaths that occurred here recently,” Fredryck bravely put forth. “Then perhaps we can help each other,” the ghostly voice answered from Evgenia’s lips. It was Gildas that inhabited Evgenia and he promised to leave her unharmed. Both he and Al-Andalus would be grateful if they could be brought to rest. Simply opening the gates and having a squad of Spanish soldiers march through them would be enough to release them. It was their final task in life and they’re not free until it is completed.

The ghosts had watched the recent murder of the Loving family unfold. Gildas promised to leave Evgenia with their images of the murder and murderer if they promised to free them. Gildas possessed Evgenia because she displayed an aptitude with the supernatural. They promised to do all that they could to free the ghosts and suddenly Evgenia’s eyes rolled back in front. As the cold chill left the air, Evgenia informed them that she had the image of the murderer in her mind. The murderer snuck in, turned on the gas lamps but didn’t light them. He left and then, after the family was dead, he returned and turned the gas lamps off, again. Why? Neither she nor the ghosts could tell but, she knows exactly what the man looks like. They do not know his name, but they did know from his garb that he was a merchant of some sort.

Leaving the home, they asked one of their military escorts to see if the governor could procure a squad of Spanish soldiers. One of them went off to ask Commander Niles. They told the exiting guard that they’d be at the barracks of the missing soldier.

On October 9, Private George Eaton went missing and had been presumed a deserter. He was a typical soldier with nothing noteworthy in his files, an absolutely average soldier in all respects. Men he was friends with in the barracks were questioned and he didn’t seem to have any particular complaints and none of them suspected he was planning on deserting.

Searching his footlocker they found nothing unusual and it appeared to be relatively full. That included are items that a man leaving would likely have taken with him, like his shaving kit, a picture of his parents and about 40 pounds in cash and coins. The chest also contained uniforms, extra boots, a heavy coat, a few changes of civilian clothes, a small cheaply made backgammon set, a deck of worn cards, a piece of driftwood that looked like a seagull, two half burned tallow candles, a vesper (match) case with matches, some receipts for mundane goods, etc.

Eaton was last seen heading up the path near where the rock apes abode. With their two escorts, again, they made their way to the rock apes. On the way, their escorts enlightened them. “There are about 200 monkeys on the Island. They’re Barbary Macaques,” Noble informed. “Macaca Sylvanus,” Evgenia added. “They’re originally native to Northern Morocco and Algeria,” she told. “Here,” Undery added, “they’re affectionately referred to as ‘Rock Apes’. There’s a legend that when the monkeys leave the Island, British rule of the Rock will end.” “And,” Evgenia added, “in 1887 Gil Braltar, a satirical novel by Jules Verne, was published where the monkeys attack the fortress.”

“Well,” Noble said, “the monkeys are not overtly hostile unless they’re attacked or approached too closely. If they’re physically attacked, they’ll likely swarm you and then run. Sometimes if approached, they hiss or snap at you. But we locals don’t take well to harming the apes and I’d dare say I’d even go so far as to stand in front of guns aimed at the apes.” “But we know you folks won’t do anything like that,” Undery chimed in, “because it’d be reported and you’d likely be called into the port captain’s office for an explanation.” “We have no intention of harming the apes,” Fredryck assured.

Scouring the area, Fredryck spotted something. An area showed signs of matted grass and even dried blood soaked into the ground – a possible sign of a collapsed body. They also found a rather large rock with more dried blood on it hidden in the brush. In spite of the elapsed time, Fredryck was able to discern tracks of dried blood and heavy footprints that led off toward the caves.

“There are several large linked and extensive caves,” Evgenia informed as they approached. “There are myths that the local monkeys came through the caves that used to connect all the way to Africa,” Undery told. “Some say that these caves may be a gate to hell and the caves are rumored to have inhabitants. Some locals blame the recent events on the mythical cave dwellers,” Noble snickered. “We’ll wait here,” Undery informed as the two of them took positions on either side of the cave opening.

Entering, Dracona lit one of her torches for light as the cave twisted and turned. The passage ended at a remote 60 foot cavern that had a 30 foot pool of water near the center. Around the pool the human shoe prints became mixed with other strange footprints. “There are some man-sized reptile-like footprints all over this part of the cave,” Fredryck informed. “Like crocodile,” Evgenia inquired. “No, something different,” he answered.

Fredryck was checking the area, following minute blood traces when he stopped at the edge of the pool. “We have company,” Priscilla informed quietly as she indicated to a ledge above them in the cave. “I’d agree,” Fredryck said as he noticed two strange eyes peering at him from beneath the water surface.

“No kill,” a raspy voice uncertainly called from the ledge. “No kill,” they answered while still keeping their eyes on them. From the ledge a grey scaled head with yellow vertically slit eyes and a protruding muzzle emerged. They could see its teeth when it spoke, “no kill,” and raised its clawed hand.

The one on the ledge seemed to speak broken English and called themselves Reptoids. Archibald said they were looking for a soldier and the Reptoids seemed to grow more cautious. He assured them that no harm would come to them and the Reptoids told them that they ate the man. Archibald assured them that no harm would come to them and the conversation advanced.

A human had carried another human to the cave and left him there. One of the Reptoids had seen it but they waited until well after the man left before approaching the man left behind. He was already quite dead and they had not eaten in a long time. The Reptoids apologized for eating the man and informed that they don’t normally eat intelligent beings. Occasionally a monkey wanders into the cave that they eat but they are so tired of eating fish.

About a year ago, they awoke from hibernation. Many Reptoids didn’t survive it and, of the 18 that survived revival, only five of them remain in the cave. When they awakened, there was a massive cave-in resulting in a hasty exodus from their lair, leading to the emergency exit which came to the Gibraltar caves. There are two soldiers, two scientists (the one speaking indicated herself) and one infant. The Reptoid paused to think. “We were from a place your kind called … Atlantis.”

They have little of their equipment and have been forced to live through scavenging and avoiding the mammal population at all costs – although they do eat the occasional ape. They fear the mammals and fear that they’ll be hunted and killed if found. So, they asked for a promise of secrecy.

The Reptoid accepted their promise of secrecy and asked if they could also get some food. “Not fish meat,” the female Reptoid requested, “one cow or two pigs or two sheep or 3 goats.” Archibald agreed and requested that in return the Reptoids would turn over the information on the person that left the body and would give them the personal effects of the soldier. The Reptoids agreed and provided the dead soldiers uniform and equipment as well as a description of the mammal that dumped him in their lair.

With them in the open, they could tell that the Reptoids were 6 to 7 feet tall with green, gray, or brown scales. Its tail seemed to be used for balance and was 3 to 4 feet long. They appeared to weigh from 200 to 250 pounds. With negotiations concluded and promises to keep, they were about to leave the cave.

“Wait,” Dracona said as she turned back to the Reptoids. “Could you get a puffer fish bladder?” she inquired of the English speaking Reptoid. “Yes,” the Reptoid looked quizzically at her, “this night?” “The middle of the night is required,” Dracona requested. “We do.”

Clockwork 1888 Session 57

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, October 22, to Thursday, October 25, 1888
It was three days by ship from London to Gibraltar. That gave them time to review the official, hand written, lengthy, monthly Governor’s reports to parliament. There were six events that seemed odd and the Fellowship wanted investigated.

On Friday, October 5, 1888, approximately 6 pm, one of the Governor’s house servants, Allende Picardo, was found dead. She had been going about chores when she was killed. One of the other servants found the body probably minutes after she had left the house. Theft is thought to be the motive as both her ring fingers were cut off. One finger was missing and the other was found nearby. The investigation is ongoing.

The body of a woman was found the morning of Oct. 9 on the cliffs. The woman was identified as Lizzie McReed. It was an apparent suicide on Monday night, Oct. 8, but no note has been found. Her husband (Malcolm McReed) was questioned and found to have no motive. Suicide has been noted as the cause of death.

Private George Eaton was reported missing on the morning of Oct. 10. It is presumed that he deserted his post on Tuesday, Oct. 9. This is, unfortunately, not an unknown occurrence, although not common either. Frequently, the deserter is later found in a nearby Spanish town, having fallen in love with and married a local girl. A search for the man will continue as time permits, and if found, he will be properly tried and punished.

On Saturday, Oct. 13, a local seamstress, Melinda Krupt, age 38, died of natural causes, collapsing on the main street of town. Deaths are infrequent on the Island, so Dr. Applegate performed an examination and he determined that she had died of a heart condition. And, on Monday, Oct 15, a recently married upper class couple and their two children were found dead in their home near the City gates. A faulty gas line is suspected of being the culprit although the gas technicians have not been able to locate a leak.

They arrived at the British holdings at Gibraltar early on Thursday morning, October 25. A pair of sailors met them on the dock and Fredryck presented their papers to the sailors. The credentials listed them as official investigators for the Queen’s security. The sailors introduced themselves as Port Department 1st boarding officer Charles Undery and 3rd boarding officer James Scott Noble. They said that they were instructed to show the group to the Governor’s home.

About ten minutes later they arrived at the house and were shown into a large room where they met the Gibraltar Governor, Sir Arthur Hardinge (Governor Nov. 2, 1886 to August 1890). He rose to greet them and proper introductions were made. Evgenia noticed that the governor was planning the itinerary for the Queen’s potential visit. They could tell that he was of the understanding that they’re to check out potential threats to her majesty.

“I’ve been ordered to give you my full cooperation,” he informed. But, they could tell that he wasn’t insulted by it in the least and he felt that any extra effort to protect the Queen was worthwhile. He was helpful in discussion about the recent various deaths and disappearance. “I don’t think any of the occurrences were more than they appear (a robbery gone badly, a suicide, a deserter, a heart failure, and a gas accident),” the Governor said. But they could tell that the number of odd deaths recently has the Governor a bit unnerved that they have occurred so closely in time. After the welcome and discussion, he introduced the port Captain, Commander William Henry Niles (RD, RNR).

“The Commander has been ordered to assist you in any reasonable manner,” the Governor informed. “I will act as liaison between you and our Governor,” the captain informed, “taking care of that which is in my power and bringing any requirements that need the Governor’s attention, to him.” The captain summoned the sailors that had met them at the docks. “These two sailors have been ordered to assist you in any reasonable manner and are at your disposal for the duration of your stay,” he informed. “They’ve been further ordered to not abandon you until you leave the island. They’ll leave you alone to check out crime scenes but they’re not to leave the general area.”

He noticed Fredryck’s sword and Priscilla’s rifle. “There are no written restrictions on weaponry or firearms,” he informed. “However, anyone seen openly brandishing a weapon might certainly be questioned and possibly detained by the constabularies which are not so informed of your visit. I’ll give you permits to carry firearms openly, if you see the need, but I do ask for your discretion. If we’re lucky, this is all for naught and I can continue my other duties without incident.”

“With that,” he said, “I leave you in the hands of officers Undery and Noble. They’re capable, intelligent and reasonable men.” The officers stepped up as the captain excused himself. “Let’s start with the murder here,” Dracona suggested. They made their way to speak with the Governor’s servants.

The young servant girl, Allende Picardo, was only 14 years old. She was found dead behind the Governors house at about 6pm on Friday, October 5. She was a simple house servant who performed cleaning duties. She came into town from La Lacienda daily and returned nightly to where she lived with her parents. She had no boyfriend or suitor and, although they didn’t like to speak ill of the dead, quite an ugly girl. She was found dead and crudely hidden behind some bushes and had been seen by other servants not long before her body was found.

There were absolutely no marks upon her body except that her two ring fingers were missing. Asking other servants revealed that she wore no rings. No one heard any noises, which seemed quite odd since the scene wasn’t far from the back of the house. Another girl was heading out to milk the Governor’s cow when she spotted the corpse.
Priscilla noted that the Governor has a cow despite the fact that grazing animals aren’t generally allowed on the island because the island can’t really support them. There are few to no sheep, cows, etc. but the English Governor has traditionally bucked this tradition by keeping a single cow for fresh milk.

While examining the area around the Governor’s home, they noticed some white horse hairs around a print with an unusual mark in the shoe. They were told that the horse is one of the ones that occasionally comes to the Governor’s manor and is left near the back entrance on those visits. Asking servants and household members about who comes to the back door told them that all manner of supplies are brought in through there: foodstuffs, wine, beer, etc. But, actual visitors only come through the front door.

A thorough search of the area by the local police did find the right finger within a stone throw of the body. The body had already been buried in a La Lacienda graveyard and it would be most distasteful to request an exhumation. But, the fort doctor, Dr. Applegate, did look at the body before it was buried. Having all they could garner here, they decided to head to the doctor’s office.

On the way to the doctor’s office, they asked around the local blacksmiths and found the one that has a supply of shoes with the same marking. The anvil has an odd crease in it that leaves the marks when he hammers them out. He usually adjusts around it, but on horse shoes, he just doesn’t bother. He can say that almost all his customers are from the merchant area on Main Street. When asked about white horses, he said that generally only the merchants and upper class have them but he doesn’t cater to any of the upper class.

Arriving at the doctor’s place, the doctor told them that the fingers were cut off rather cleanly with a sharp instrument, a scalpel, sharp knife or some other such object. He also noted that there were some brown facial hairs under the fingernails of the right hand. He saved the one finger they found and has it in his office in a bottle of formaldehyde. The finger in formaldehyde still had some of those hairs as well.

He ruled the death a murder during a robbery, gone bad, and the cause of death as shock. Evgenia noted that the fingers being cut off would have been extremely painful and, while the blood loss would not have been insignificant, it certainly wouldn’t have been likely to cause death, especially since the body was found soon after she had last been seen.

Fredryck noted that he’s heard of ways to kill a person very quickly and quietly. The killer could have used such methods on the girl. It was still a mystery though because there seemed no reason for the murder. With all the information possible on the case, short of exhuming the body, Dracona suggested investigating the next incident.

They went to visit Malcolm McReed, the husband of the Lizzie McReed who’d apparently committed suicide by throwing herself off the cliffs. No note was found and her husband had no motive for murder. They found the man at home with his two young children. They asked him if he noticed anything unusual with his wife in recent days.

He related that she was very upset the night before and wouldn’t tell him what was wrong. As far as he knew, she did only her normal activities that day, chores, children to her parents while she went shopping, baking for the week, chores, dinner, sewing. Priscilla noticed the two morose children, a 4 year old girl and 6 year old boy, who were incessantly crying or moping over the loss of their mother. When the girl saw Priscilla noticing her, she spoke quietly, “My mommy died. Do you think she went to heaven? I loved my mommy so much, why did she die?”

With nothing more to learn there, they headed for the scene of the apparent suicide. “Levanter,” Evgenia said. “That’s what they call the air current phenomenon where the warm air currents from the ocean strike the side of the rock much of the year. It rises up over the cliffs and hits the upper cold air currents causing a mist in the area and oppressive humidity on the island,” she informed.

The officers in tow, they talked with some of the people local to that area. They got rumors that over the years, various people have claimed to see small impish creatures flying on the currents. It was rumored that the creatures occasionally played pranks on people close to the cliffs. But, there were no rumors of any actual harm ever being done. Most folk put these down to pure superstition and myth.

Making their way to the area of the purported suicide, they left the officers at the carriage and went near the edge of the cliffs. For a long while they stood there, watching, listening and waiting. Priscilla heard what almost seemed a voice in the air, an almost laughter. Focusing she tried to pinpoint the source.

Where she thought the voice came from, Fredryck was able to see a shape. It was faint because it seemed as if the air itself was formed into a small winged creature of some sort. “There,” he pointed for the others to see. It seemed to giggle as it was raised by the air currents coming up the cliff face. “An air mephit,” Evgenia whispered as she recalled reading of such mythological creatures. “It’s like an imp but made of air, instead.”

“It seems to speak some broken form of the Queen’s English,” Priscilla informed. Through diplomatic discussions with the creature, they learned that it is an air mephit. It found the area long ago and settled here because it loves riding the air currents in from the ocean and the updrafts over the Rock. It does occasionally play pranks on people who get too close to “it’s” cliffs (blow up ones skirt, flip their brolly, lift the hat off their head), but it never harms anyone.

When they asked about the woman who threw herself from the cliff, it informed them that she was thrown. It saw one human – all humans look alike to it – throw another over the cliff. The one thrown was already not moving. The creature claimed to know something more but wanted something for the information.

The creature offered to trade its additional information for a promise that they try to bring it a fresh puffer fish bladder caught and harvested at midnight. The unusual request brought more questions so it explained that it could use it in an incantation to return to its own plane. It has been here a long time and it misses its home. They promised to try and acquire the puffer fish bladder.

“The one human dropped something,” it said as it dipped below the edge of the cliff. As it came back above the cliff level, it tossed a silver lighter near them. “This was dropped by the human that threw the other human over the cliff,” it informed. It was engraved with “EF” on the front and the mephit had stashed it in the cliff face. Thanking the mephit for its help, they walked back to the carriage.

“Did you find something,” Undery asked as they returned, examining the lighter. “A lighter,” Dracona informed, “possibly from the killer and engraved with ‘EF’.” “There are more than 20,000 residents on the island,” Noble replied, “and likely numerous people with those initials.”

Clockwork 1888 Session 56

Clockwork 1888 Date: Sunday, September 30, through Sunday, October 21, 1888
Although weakened, Shrewsbury asked a code question and they responded correctly to identify each other as Fellowship members. Shrewsbury was able to tell them that he’d only intended to do research when he arrived in Manchester. But, once he’d linked the disappearances to the area of the florist, he’d gone to look for clues on the property. When Mama Vlasis came out and confronted him, he was quite surprised when she changed into a spider-like abomination.

The subsequent battle tumbled them into the river where he’d gotten the upper hand on her and drowned her in the struggles. He didn’t realize that the daughter was lycanthropic, too. So, after clearing him with the police, she contacted him about some strange things she found in her home and he went to see what he could do for her – and walked right into her trap.

He also mentioned that his friend and a Fellowship contact, Dr. Leatherby in Liverpool, had told him about a team of hunters from London that was going to be assigned to investigate the disappearances. He presumed that to be them.

In the distance, they could hear bobby whistles, obviously brought by the gunshots from their spider battle on the second floor. “We’ve got to get our story straight,” he informed. “How do we explain this giant spider?” Fredryck inquired. “A spider cult,” Dracona suggested. “They were spider worshipers and they bred these giant poisonous spiders that they fed with kidnapped strangers.” “That works,” Shrewsbury agreed, “and no mention of were-spiders, right?” All were agreed.

Eventually, the bobbies made their way into the house and down into the underground lair where they found the body of the large spider, Calypso and everybody else. After explaining, they were taken to the local constabulary and telegrams were sent to London’s Scotland Yard and Dr. Leatherby in Liverpool to check out their story. Fredryck vouched for their integrity and they were released to return to their hotels on their word that they’d stay in town until it was resolved.

Archibald was feeling quite weakened and everybody had apparently succumbed to some level of the spider poison. Shrewsbury was staying in a different place but agreed to get a room where they were so that they could hire a nurse to aid them while they underwent bed rest for the next day.

During their recovery day, the constable sent word that they had been cleared of charges. They were free to return from whence they came. After a few days of recovery, all recovered enough to leave. Shrewsbury was heading back to his friend in Liverpool before he’d make his way back to Texas in the United States. He thanked them for saving him and they parted company.

Returning to London on Tuesday, October 2, they learned that the newspaper sensationalizing of recent Whitechapel murders had escalated. The Monday morning issue of the Daily News had printed the text of a letter that Scotland Yard had started calling the “Dear Boss” letter. It had been received at the Central News Agency less than 5 days prior and used the term “Jack the Ripper” for the murderer.

Not to be outdone, the Star printed the text of a postcard received at the Central News Agency just that day in the evening edition. It was being called the Saucy Jack postcard and mentioned a double killing, speaking of the Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes mutilation murders from the night before.

To make matters worse, on Wednesday, October 3, a female torso was found in the basement of where the new Metropolitan Police headquarters that was being built in Whitehall. The mutilations were similar to those in the Pinchin Street case of September 10, where the legs and head were severed but not the arms. Then, a leg from the torso was found buried near the location of the torso. The police were downplaying any connection between the two torsos or the Whitechapel murders. Still, the papers promoted a “Torso killer” and dubbed it “The Whitehall Mystery.”

On Thursday, October 4, other papers started publishing the “Jack the Ripper” letters. Monday, the 15th, the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, George Lusk, received a letter and piece of kidney from the supposed murderer. According to the letter, the kidney piece was from one of the two women killed on September 30, Catherine Eddowes.

Through all of it, Norrington was quiet, keeping them informed and abreast of developments but not charging them with any duties or authority regarding the murders. He was following his orders to leave the case to the assigned officers. But, on Sunday, October 21, Fredryck was called to the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. “I have something that needs investigated,” he began when Fredryck arrived.

He put his pen down and looked at Fredryck. “The Queen is considering a visit to our holdings in Gibraltar,” he informed. “It may be nothing but there have been a series of deaths there, recently, that I, as Chief of the forces, would rest easier if they were investigated by people more familiar with … strange things.” He slid an envelope to Fredryck, leaned back in his chair and continued, “There’s shipboard transportation to Gibraltar for you and the other Fellowship hunters. You leave tomorrow.”

Clockwork 1888 Session 55

Clockwork 1888 Date: Sunday, September 30, 1888
With the spiders upstairs destroyed, they began their search for Calypso. The other bedroom had seen more use but it, too, showed signs of neglect. The other door was to a linen closet that held dusty linens and normal spiders. With no attic in the place, they focused their search on the first floor.

Returning to the first floor, they took the hallway next to the stairs, around the stairwell to a side door that was completely covered in spider webs and obviously little used. But the area in front of a built-in curtained shelf under the staircase had plenty of use. Examining the shelf, they found that it opened to reveal a dark drop of unknown depth. With no light switch to light the darkness below, Fredryck and Dracona lit torches while the others tied off a rope.

With the torchlight, they could see that it was a sheer drop of 20 feet and Dracona descended the rope first while Fredryck steadied it. Once everybody was down, Fredryck joined them. A narrow passage led into the darkness. Traversing the 70 feet they came to stairs that widened as they went until they reached 10 feet wide at the bottom. Fredryck heard the voice of Calypso whisper, “soon you will pay for killing my mother.” He whispered for them to be ready to fight.

As they got to the end of the stairs, a monstrous spider, larger than a person, shot a web ball at Fredryck, webbing him to the wall and last stair. Evgenia wasted no time shooting at the giant spider but she missed. Calypso moved into view. “It’s not nice to shoot at Mama’s pet,” Calypso chastised. “I was going to let Geliebte feast on him tonight,” she said stroking the monstrous spider.

“You should’ve minded your own business,” she continued. “Tonight, Shrewsbury will pay for killing my mother after putting his nose where it didn’t belong. Now you’ve put your noses there, too.” Then she smiled. “You’ll pay, too,” she said as her voice changed and her body transformed in front of their eyes into a half spider, half woman abomination. Before they could react to her transformation, she bit Fredrcyk, trying to get her venom into him.

Dracona grabbed her flask as she stepped up to them and held her torch up, igniting her breath upon the two spider creatures. But they were fast and dodged her fire. Archibald shouted his inspiring words as Fredryck returned her blow with his own, even though he was restrained and unable to leave his position. Priscilla heard another sound from behind them as spiders like they’d fought upstairs dropped from the stairway ceiling.

The monstrous spider tried to bite Dracona Evgenia fired at the monstrous spider as the Calypso abomination bit Fredryck, again. Dracona continued to blast fire at them but they seemed to easily evade her blast. Archibald was feeling brave and he stepped up with his rapier to attack the spider. Fredryck, in his webbed bonds, missed Calypso as Priscilla held off the spiders at the rear.

The spider bit Dracona, again as Evgenia continued her bullet assault on it. Calypso was focused on Fredryck, an immediate threat with his sword, and Dracona tried unsuccessfully to catch the spider beasts in her fire. Archibald hit the spider, getting its attention. Fredryck was not as lucky, the webs interfering with his ability to strike. Priscilla continued her battle with the rearward spiders.

The spider bit hard into Archibald, the poison flowing into him. Evgenia continued her barrage as Calypso continued to bite into the immobile Fredryck. Dracona tried, in vain, to catch them in her blast as Archibald struck but missed and backed away from the spider, weakened by its potent poison and knowing he’d be in trouble if he was bitten again. Fredryck struck at Calypso without success and Priscilla kept at the spiders from the rear.

The spider shifted into the position Archibald had vacated and returned to attacking Dracona, again. Evgenia consistently fired at the spider but only hit occasionally. Calypso was more consistent in her attacks on Fredryck. Dracona continued unsuccessfully to blast the spiders while Archibald took to shooting and inspiring his allies as needed. Fredryck was having trouble hitting the spider abomination but Priscilla had better luck with the smaller spiders from their rear.

Then, Fredryck succumbed to Calypso’s attacks and slumped in his webbed prison, sword still stuck in his grasp. Evgenia fired as she took a single step back up the steps. Calypso bit at Dracona but still avoided Dracona’s blast. Archibald retrieved and pressed the Reliquary Cross of St. Andrew to Fredryck, saying a prayer he’d learnt for such cases. It was enough to revive Fredryck, who seemed to garner determination after being felled for a moment and he struck the Calypso beast hard. Priscilla was faring better but still had her hands full.

The spider attacked Dracona as Evgenia continued shooting. Calypso transformed, again, from her half spider form into a full spider, comparable to Geliebte. With their proximity, they could see that the transformation had healed her and she struck with renewed confidence. Dracona continued to unsuccessfully breathe fire as Archibald and Fredryck continued to battle and keep everybody alive throughout the battle. Finally, Priscilla destroyed the rearward spiders and then, after Dracona helped rip Fredryck free from the webs, the other two fell, Calypso first and finally the enraged monstrous spider.

Resting for a minute, they had a chance to look around. There were numerous spider sacs, large enough to hold people. In fact, the bones of numerous people were found inside them. One spider sac, in the far corner from the stairs, held Shrewsbury, extensively weakened but still alive. They cut him out of the spider sac and tended to him.

Clockwork 1888 Session 54

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, September 29, to Sunday, September 30, 1888
“Did you want to see the body?” Inspector Weber asked. He sent a bobbie with them to the mortuary. The doctor had recently examined Mama Vlasis’ body and led them to it. “What did you find,” Evgenia inquired. “Why don’t you tell me what you Londoners find,” the mortician smirked.

Examining the body, they found she was badly bruised and her blouse was torn, as if in a struggle. The bruises were on multiple locations of her body but there were significant bruises around her neck. “Strangled,” Priscilla quietly put forward. “The larynx isn’t crushed,” Evgenia pointed out loud enough for the mortician to hear as she put her hands under the woman’s neck and lifted slightly, “and her neck isn’t broken, either. So, the bruising is possibly from somebody holding her under water by the throat.”

Evgenia turned her attention to the mortician. “She was drowned. Did you get a sample of water from her lungs?” The mortician nodded and retrieved it. Evgenia retrieved an almost regal, purple velvet-lined mahogany box and extracted a brass instrument signed “Powell & Lealand, London, 1887.” It was her Powell/Nelson Jubilee Portable Microscope, which came out in 1887 for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

Retrieving a glass slide, she put a sample of the water on it to examine. They inquired about a sample of the river water, which the mortician had on hand. After examining the two samples, “Drowned in the river,” Evgenia deduced. The mortician seemed adequately impressed at their thoroughness. With that accomplished, they made their way to the Jeffry’s Inn to try and get a word with Shrewsbury.

At the inn, Priscilla asked at the front desk if they had seen Shrewsbury. They indicated that they had not seen Shrewsbury since the morning when the police came and took him to the police station. They pretended to be friends of Mr. Shrewsbury, with Evgenia claiming to be his betrothed. They were there to surprise Shrewsbury, especially after the awful day he’d had with the police. The desk clerk instructed a bell hop to take them up to Shrewsbury’s room.

Once inside, they proceeded to go through the room and Shrewsbury’s belongings. It was Priscilla that came across it. One of his coats had a pin on the underside of the lapel. It was a pin of a white star, the Fellowship pin. “He’s a fellowship operative,” she informed. “The seamstress said he’d gone to the library after visiting her so perhaps that should be our next stop,” Evgenia suggested. They finished checking the room and then headed to the library.

At the library, it wasn’t difficult for the librarian to remember the man with the strange accent. She took them to where he had conducted his research and tried to recall what he had asked for. It was mostly old newspapers, some almost 20 years old, and she started bringing the ones that she could remember to them. Each of the newspapers, made mention of somebody leaving their belongings at an inn and that anybody knowing the person should contact the inn about their belongings.

The disappearances occurred about every four to six months. And, back in 1869, one newspaper reported the initial opening of the flower shop by Margaret Vlasis. The disappearances started about six months later. Another newspaper, seven years ago, reported that Margaret Vlasis’ daughter moved to Manchester from the states to help her mother with the flower shop.

“A map of the city,” Archibald requested of the librarian. She dutifully brought it, remarking how their request is another one that the man with the accent made. With the map, they mapped the locations of the inns where people had disappeared. As more and more locations were mapped, an almost circular pattern was revealed. “A criminal will usually not go too far from where they operate from,” Evgenia observed. “So, if we find the center of this circle we may find the source of the disappearances,” Fredryck realized.

Using their graphical skills, they narrowed the center of the circle to somewhere on Water Street, the street that the florist is on. And, the florist could possibly be the circle center. Still, they decided to return to the Jeffry’s Inn and wait for Shrewsbury to return.

The front desk still had not seen Shrewsbury so they waited. As they waited, Archibald noticed something move on Dracona’s shoulder, just above the flower that the florist had so graciously given them. “Stay still Dracona,” he whispered as he prepared something to capture it. With a slight lunge, he captured the insect in his makeshift container. Examining the creature, they determined that it was a very small spider.

“How did that get there?” Dracona asked. “It could be just coincidental or,” Evgenia looked at the spider, “somebody holds some sway over spiders and maybe they were spying on us.” “A spider cult or something like that,” Priscilla postulated. “Maybe a spider queen,” Fredryck put forward.

It was after midnight when they realized that Shrewsbury might be the next victim to disappear. So, they went to the florist’s place. The glass house was, to their surprise, unlocked. It was definitely after hours for the florist but to leave the shop unlocked seemed uncommon.

Going behind the shop, they went closer to the river behind the house. There they found tracks that showed footprints of shoes from a man and a woman. “These tracks would fit the shoes we saw at Shrewsbury’s room,” Fredryck surmised. “And these are of a woman’s shoes,” Evgenia explained, “but they seem as if she was trying to leave, get away, when they both went into the river. Tracking down the river they found where Shrewsbury must have come out and then further down was where the Krause family had found Mama Vlasis’ body the next morning.

They returned to the home of the florist and examined the side door. It was locked but with a dull thud, Fredryck forced the side door open and they went inside. The door led to the kitchen of the home. There was a sink with running water, a wood stove, and cabinets. There were cat dishes but they were filled with spider webs that had ladybugs caught in them. Through the door on the right, they entered a dining room with a table, chairs for six on one side of the room, and a buffet along the wall of the other side. There were paintings on the walls that were faded and worthless.

They made their way through an opening and into the living room that had a sofa, coffee table, three chairs, and three end tables around the room. There, Priscilla heard a sound from upstairs. As quietly as possible they filed from the living room into a hallway, past a small bookcase and a grandfather clock and to the stairs. Upstairs they found a hallway with four doors. The first door led to a water closet while the second door opened into a bedroom.

The bedroom didn’t appear that it had been used in a long time. The linen was faded and the bed was dusty and flaking. As Evgenia, Dracona and Fredryck moved just into the room, they could make out what looked like spider racks in the room. That’s when Priscilla and Fredryck noticed that the ceiling of the bedroom over them was crawling with a swarm of spiders. Fredryck leapt to the side and Priscilla called, “Look out!” Priscilla backed down the hall as the swarm of spiders dropped upon Evgenia and Dracona.

Crawling over Evgenia, the spiders bit her and she felt her strength drain away slightly. A monstrous spider, the size of a dog, skittered across the bed and attacked Fredryck. In the hall, the remaining two doors opened and similarly sized spiders attacked Priscila from each doorway.

Luckily, Dracona was able to breathe fire on the swarm and turn it into crisp arachnids. Fredryck made quick work of the spider abomination near him while Priscilla stepped away from one and took a shot. Archibald fired at the monstrous spiders, as well. In a short time, the arachnids were all dead. “I hate spiders,” Fredryck admitted.

Clockwork 1888 Session 53

Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, September 29, 1888
After a hearty breakfast at the eloquent inn, they summoned hansoms and made their way to visit the seamstress, Anna Pantheras. Going into the seamstress’ shop, they made polite conversation with the purported local busybody until they got into the question of disappearances. Anna meandered on as she sewed; telling either a name or description for any of the people she noticed had supposedly vanished. All of them were just passing through. Manchester, being the cottonopolis due to all the cotton processing that goes on in the city, constantly has people coming and going for one reason or another.

“None of the locals have disappeared,” she said, smiling as her treadle sewing machine continued its stitching. “But did you hear,” she paused her needlework. “Mama Vlasis was found dead this morning.” She resumed her treadling as they asked about the death. “The Krause family, Evelyn, Andrew and their son, Thomas, found Mama Vlasis in the river and got the police. The police initially considered it murder. There was a man, seen late last night, all wet.” She paused, again, and then looked at them.

“He’s Lerwick Shrewsbury and he’d come to talk with me yesterday,” she restarted her sewing, “no, the day before. Friday, he wanted to know about missing people, too, just like you fine people. Said he was from Texas, visiting a friend of his in Liverpool. Some doctor named Leatherby, I think. He’s staying at the Jeffery’s Inn.”

She stopped sewing and looked in their direction; not at them just their direction. “Man had a strange accent; kind of British but more like one of those United States people but really different. Police brought him in about the Mama Vlasis death because he’d been seen that night all wet. But then they released him, said he wasn’t connected with it, I heard. Said he’d just been looking for a good fishing place along the river and fell in.”

“Did the florists have any enemies?” Archibald asked. “Oh, no,” Anna answered, “Mama Vlasis was so gentle, and a widow. They’re of Greek descent and everybody that knew them liked them. It’s a shame, really. Now Calypso, her daughter, will have to run the floral shop herself. She’s never been married but she came here from the states, maybe 7 years ago, to help her mother with the shop. About 6 years ago they added the glass house.”

Anna paused her talking while she stitched around a curve in the garment before she continued. “Their family’s lived in Manchester since the 1700s but I hear Calypso is the last of her family here. Calypso wasn’t a regular at any Church so who will help her? We should do something for her and the Krause family, too; such a trauma to find somebody dead.”

“So what did Mr. Shrewsbury tell you he was going to do after talking with you?” Evgenia asked. Anna thought for a moment. “He said he was going to the library, said he wanted to look up some old newspapers,” she answered. They realized that hours had passed in Anna’s rambling about the missing people and the current local events. They decided to visit the Krause family and, saying their proper adieus, got directions from Anna to their home as well as a bakery for goods they could bring to console the family.

Escaping Anna, they bought some pastries and candies and visited the Krause residence. Andrew, the father, answered the door and let them in after learning their intentions and role – privately investigating Mama Vlasis’ death. The family was on its way to morning church service when their son, Thomas, saw something in the river. Evelyn went to see what it was and it looked like clothing. Andrew caught the end of a scarf with a long stick and pulled on it. Evelyn screamed and covered Thomas’ eyes. The florist down the road, Mama Vlasis, was attached to the other end.

Evelyn took Thomas and went for the police while Andrew pulled Mama Vlasis from the river. She was badly bruised and her blouse was torn. Andrew left her on the bank and recovered by the road to wait for the police. Inspector Weber came and took responsibility. Andrew gave the police their statement and they went home. “Who would do such a thing to such a kind woman?” Evelyn questioned aloud.

“Would it be acceptable to talk to Thomas?” Evgenia gently inquired. With Evelyn accompanying, they found eight-year-old Thomas in his room, quietly reading his Bible with his poodle, Whitey, sitting on his bed next to him. The boy seemed to feel that something was wrong, mainly because people kept asking him if he was all right. But, he didn’t seem to fully understand what had happened.

They reassured the boy and as they were about to leave his room, he called to his mother. “What about the man last night?” Evelyn paused to recollect. “That’s right,” she said. “Thomas and I took Whitey for a walk at sunset last night. We didn’t notice anything amiss but we did meet a man in black who had a strange accent.” Evelyn and Andrew seemed grateful for the company but thanked them as they deemed it time to leave.

Stopping, again, at a bakery, they set out for the florist. Lights in the glass house indicated that somebody was there. The door was unlocked and the bell rang as they entered. An average-looking woman near 40 with black hair and dark eyes came from further inside the glass house. “Hello, I’ve not seen you before,” she said with a smile as she snapped the stem of a pink carnation. “May I,” she asked approaching Evgenia with the flower and a bobby pin. Putting it in Evgenia’s hair, she backed away, admired them and said, “Welcome to Manchester. How can I help you fine people?”

Confused by the woman’s pleasant demeanor, Dracona answered, “We were surprised the shop was open with your mother’s passing.” “Yes,” the woman’s smile weakened significantly as her eyes looked beyond them, “well, the flowers provide a respite from such things. The police came this morning and I went with them. I had to make sure it was Mama and tell them about her visitor last night,” Calypso informed.

“They found a stranger they thought might be him, a Mr. Shrewsbury. But it wasn’t the man I saw last night. Poor man was scouting for fishing and fell in the river; said he barely got out. Police now say mama’s death was an accident; that she fell in the river and drowned.” Her voice hardened as a tear streamed down her face. “I don’t believe that for a minute.”

“So how can I help you fine people?” Calypso inquired as she wiped another tear from her face and mentally returned to them. “Well, we’d heard of your misfortune, thought we’d stop by to offer condolences and possibly look into your mother’s death,” Archibald informed, hoping to see if she could have killed her own mother for some reason or wanted the event forgotten. “I can’t pay but, if you bring me any suspects, I can identify the one I’d seen talking to mama last night. I got a good look at his face. I was in the house and saw through a window.”

“Why didn’t you go outside when you saw her talking with somebody?” Archibald asked. “Well, mama was near 60 and she doesn’t take lightly to anybody interfering in her affairs. I didn’t want to snoop and if she needed me she would’ve come or called for me. So after I saw she was talking to that man, I minded my own business and left her to hers. I wish I hadn’t, now.”

“Was it common for your mother to have late night visitors?” Evgenia inquired. “Well, mama was a widow so there’d be no shame in her having a gentlemen caller. But I’d never known her to have any. Mostly they’re just people who need some last minute flowers as a little gift for a visit, to refresh the décor at a business meet or to impress a young lady. Mama was near 60 and she didn’t really have a yearning for gentlemanly company that I’d ever seen.”

“Your family has been in the area for a long time?” Archibald asked. “My family has been in this area for a while but my grandfather went overseas and used to own a tobacco farm on the southern bank of the James River, in Virginia. Our family seems to have a knack for growing things,” she smiled fondly. “Mama grew up and married there. But after papa died in the civil war, most of the land was sold and my mother moved here to start the flower shop. I was old enough so I stayed behind in the states and helped take care of my grandparents until they died and mama needed help here.”

Evgenia could tell there was something she was holding back. “What are you not telling us,” Evgenia pressed. “We’ll find out whatever it is,” she promised. Calypso seemed hurt as her eyes swelled with tears. “With mama dying, I’ve been thinking. I should’ve known better,” she began as she wiped her tears. “He was such a handsome man, so charming. I was so smitten with him, the attention and affection he showered upon me. I should’ve known he was married but maybe I just didn’t want it to be so.”

“I had an affair with James Young and about 7 years ago our affair resulted in a daughter that I called Julie. But to avoid a scandal, to hide the affair, James and his wife passed her off as their own child and I left the states to come here. With mama passing, I was just thinking about Julie.” She steeled herself. “And if you can find who killed mama, I’d be most grateful for them to get their just punishment.”

“I’m sorry,” Priscilla interjected. “We brought you some baked goods, too,” Dracona added. “It’s mighty nice for strangers to do such. I thank you for your kindness,” Calypso said as she composed herself. “Now, do let me give you something in return for your kindness,” she said as she snapped off additional carnations and began pinning one to each of them. “Please, do let me know what you find,” she said as she affixed the last one to Archibald’s coat lapel. “We’ll let you know what we find,” Evgenia promised as they turned to leave. “Thank you for coming by,” Calypso graciously answered as she saw them out.

They went to the Manchester police. Claiming that London had an interest in the disappearances, they assumed official capacity with the Manchester police. They felt sure that Norrington would back them up if he were contacted to check their story. Inquiring about disappearances, the police had records of people, strangers, sometimes leaving without taking their belongings from the inns they stayed in.

There wasn’t a hard pattern but every four to six months it seemed as if some stranger would just disappear from the area. Most were not followed up on due to the many strangers that visited Cottonopolis for trade. The police presumed that most were suddenly called back to where they’d come from, left without getting what they’d come for, traveled further on or maybe even fled a jealous husband.

They informed the police that they were also looking into the death of Mama Vlasis as a personal favor to Calypso. They learned that the police had informed Mama Vlasis’ next of kin, Calypso, early in the morning and she confirmed the identity of the body as that of her mother. Manchester Police had established that a stranger named Shrewsbury was seen along the Irwell River last night, wet, and picked him up for questioning at the Jeffery’s Inn where he was staying.

Shrewsbury is apparently from Texas, in the United States, and they noted that Shrewsbury said he was looking for a place along the river to fish and fell in. But the locals know that fishing near the florist’s is bad, as if the fish shy away from the area and favor the other side of the river over the side of the florist. They thought they’d found the killer of Mama Vlasis.

When Calypso was taken to see if Shrewsbury was the man she’d seen with her mother, Weber could tell that she had seen him before. But, when Calypso said that Shrewsbury was not the man she’d seen with her mother, they had to let him go. With no other leads, they listed the death as an accident, assuming she simply fell in the river and sustained injuries in the water.

“Could the florist or something upstream be poisoning the water in that area, on purpose or inadvertently,” Priscilla thought aloud. “That would have an effect all downstream, then,” Evgenia deduced. “It could be a water beast of some kind,” Dracona put forth. “Perhaps like in the 6th century with St. Columba and the water beast in that Scottish loch,” Fredryck added. “A predator, water or otherwise, could be the answer. If it takes fish from the river or the fish fear it for any reason, they’d learn to avoid it,” Evgenia surmised.

Clockwork 1888 Session 52

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, September 20, through Saturday, September 29, 1888
Things returned to normal and Fredryck reported to Prince George on the events surrounding the amulet. Adoline wrote to Fredryck regularly and he answered each letter when he could. Her studies were progressing in spite of a few narrow-minded professors who insisted that she didn’t belong there. Their argument was that she should be serving a man rather than learning about medicine. As with Fredryck, she persists and he has little doubt that she’ll complete her studies.

The asylum was doing well under the supervision of Dr. Featherby, his appointees and hired help. Lady Dykens was spending both time and money at the asylum, mostly for art, craft, gardening, sewing and other supplies for worthwhile patient activities. Of course, her activity at the asylum is conditioned on her ceasing relations with the patients. Dr. Featherby offered to hire her but she insists on volunteering her time to make up for her past indiscretions.

The newspapers were spouting about the recent of murders in Whitechapel. The inquests into the Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman murders had concluded by Wednesday. A man named Fitzgerald had confessed to killing Annie Chapman but there was little to back up the man’s clam. Still, it was no surprise when Norrington contacted them to meet.

They had gathered at Yermak Investigations and Norrington arrived punctually at 6 pm on Friday, September 28th. After formalities, he got right to business. “I need you to do some investigation work for the Fellowship,” he began. “The Whitechapel murders,” Evgenia surmised. “Actually, I wish that was it but it’s not my case. Inspector First-Class Frederick Abberline is heading that investigation. I want you to go to Manchester. We’ve gotten reports of numerous disappearances there over the years. I’d like you to look into those and handle it if there’s something to it. Supposedly the local seamstress, Anna Pantheras, is most informed on the disappearances.”

“We could take the West Coast Main Line train,” Archibald surmised. “It’s about 200 miles,” Fredryck estimated. “Driving the Benz’s would take about 16 hours,” Evgenia pointed out, “and we’d have to refuel.” They decided to take the train in the morning. “The Fellowship will reimburse any expenses, as usual,” Norrington assured. They arrived in Manchester late on Saturday and secured rooms at an inn.

Clockwork 1888 Session 51

Clockwork 1888 Date: Thursday, September 20, 1888
Thomas heard them coming down the stairs and pressed open the boards to allow their exit. “Tell Mr. Bloom that I’ll be seeing him, again, and I hope he gets well,” he said as they exited the building. Releasing the boards, he quickly stepped through the opening himself to avoid any impact of the boards to him. But, the sudden clap of the boards against the brick framework was not as forthcoming.

They looked back over their shoulder as they noticed the missing bang. Even Thomas had looked to see why the boards had not sounded. The boards seemed suspended, held back by some unknown force. “That’s strange,” Thomas said as he turned his body to face the opening. “I’ve never seen it do that before.” Then, with a start, the boards slammed down into place.

They were about to dismiss it when Evgenia heard a voice from upstairs. “Give it to me,” the voice menaced. “Never,” Matl cried out. Making their way back in and up the stairs as fast as they could, they arrived to see Matl flailing about. It almost seemed as if he was defending himself from some unseen foe.

Archibald drew his sword cane and made it to Matl’s side as the unseen force ripped the untarnished box from Matl’s vest pocket. “No!” Matl cried out, frantically. The box seemed to float there as if levitated by some form of magic. Evgenia moved up to the doorway and fired at the unseen force. Priscilla made it to the doorway and stepped just inside the room to block it. Dracona moved into the room and blasted her breath in front of Archibald and Matl. For the moment her fire blew through the area, it was as if an invisible man were caught in the fiery breath. Fredryck took position behind Priscilla in the hallway to further block egress.

Matl struggled with the unseen adversary but didn’t succeed at recovering the box. Archibald swiped at the box with his sword cane, sending it tumbling through the air before it stopped abruptly, as if grabbed midair by an unseen hand. The box rushed across the room and the window shattered as whatever held it crashed through and into the alley below. “We can’t let him get away,” Matl hysterically shouted. Evgenia followed the box out the window, landing with a thud on the cobblestone alley below. Priscilla ran across the room to the window but Dracona followed Evgenia out the window, tumbling to a landing on her feet right by the box. Fredryck turned and went back down the stairs to try to get out through the back door of the place.

Matl rushed to the window, looked down to see the box and then ran to exit the room. Archibald passed him in his dash for the stairs. The box moved very quickly up from near the ground as Dracona and Evgenia took swipes at the unseen assailant but missed. Evgenia stood up, considered shooting but it was difficult to see the box in the darkness of the alley so she moved after it. “He’s running,” she called out. Priscilla took a shot from the window before heading for the stairs. Dracona ran into the darkness after the box, just keeping up with it. Fredryck knew that he’d lose a running race so he turned from the back door and ran out the front door that Thomas was still holding open.

Matl made it to the back door of the row house and opened it. Archibald moved out into the alleyway. The invisible assailant continued to flee down the alley with Evgenia and Dracona in pursuit. Priscilla made it out of the room and started down the stairs. Fredryck spun the flywheel to start the Benz and jumped into the vehicle.

Matl moved outside and passed Archibald before he stopped, looking down the dark alley where the box had vanished with the assailant. Archibald was going to start running but Matl put his arm out to indicate not to do so. “We won’t be able to catch him,” he said, defeated. “We’re too far behind. It’s up to the others, now.” Evgenia continued her pursuit even though she was not gaining on them. She hoped that Dracona would be able to slow him down.

Priscilla came down the stairs and out the door to the alley. Dracona had kept pace with the fleeing box and made a heroic effort to breathe on the area containing the box. As her flames engulfed the fleeing form, she hoped she’d catch him on fire and make him much easier to see in the dark than the small metallic box. But he didn’t catch fire and he continued his flight down the alley. Fredryck pressed the vehicle for as much speed as he could get, hoping to catch up to them when they exited the alley onto the main street.

Matl turned and went back into the building. Archibald followed him. “That was Jack Griffin,” Matl said. “I can see why you said we should fear him,” Archibald recalled. “Yes,” Matl answered as he reached into his pants pocket. “You’re an actor, right?” “A Shakespearean trained actor,” Archibald responded. “Then, you’ll surely understand why your friends are out there chasing Griffin,” Matl smirked as he drew the amulet from his pocket.

“You needed Griffin to believe he had it in the box,” Archibald realized aloud. Matl smiled. “I needed him and all of you to believe that it was in that box. The longer your people chase him, the longer it will be before he realizes he doesn’t have it and the longer I’ll have to make my escape,” he said as he put the amulet back into his pants pocket.

Priscilla came into the house. “What’s going on?” she inquired. “The invisible man doesn’t have the amulet. Matl does,” Archibald whispered to her. She smirked at Matl. “But,” Matl said, “I do need to leave. It’s not safe for me here.” With that, he muttered some strange words. Priscilla recognized them as arcane in origin but could only guess what they did until he finished the incantation, dissolved into a gaseous form and departed.

Dracona watched the box go right at the end of the alley where it opened into a street. She got to the end of the alley just moments after the box nut she couldn’t see the box anymore. Another alley continued across the street so the assailant could have gone left, right or straight ahead. She quickly scanned the area and knew she’d seen the box go right so she went right as fast as she could. After a round without sight of the elusive box, she stopped and searched for it. She heard Fredryck turn the corner in the Benz and finally turned back. About that time, Evgenia came out of the alley. They gathered together.

“I was with him until we got to the street,” Dracona said, exasperated. “He couldn’t have gone far. I came out of the alley right after him.” “We’ll search the area,” Fredryck offered. “Can you let the others know,” he asked of Evgenia. Although they continued to search for a while longer, the box was nowhere to be found. But, eventually they all learned that, with their help, Matl had tricked Griffin into believing he had the amulet in that box.

Of course, with the gunfire, the bobbies showed up as the search for the box was concluding. They explained that they had noticed a light in an upstairs window of the burned out row house and had stopped to investigate. They interrupted a thief and there was an altercation. Unfortunately, the thief got away with whatever they had stolen and the owners will probably need to do a complete inventory before determining what was stolen. When Norrington arrived on the scene, he was quietly informed of what had truly transpired.


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