Clockwork 1888 Session 94

Clockwork 1888 Date: Monday, December 30, 1889, through Sunday, January 5, 1890
After the success with the patient, they gave him some regular food to eat. The man still seemed exhausted and he still slept for most of the time. They worked on another batch of the cure and in an hour they had another 10 doses. So, they decided to lock up the patient, just in case he had a relapse, and go with their cure to the other doctors in the infirmary.

“Rather than waste my time idly, I was working on a tinkered detonator,” Dr. Rajahdys informed. Apparently, the doctor had tinkered with demolitions and the effect of electricity on the dead in the past. He informed them that he spent much of his career following the electrical research, but had recently decided to switch to his old love of demolitions. Rajahdys wanted to make enough money to continue his demolitions research on his own and that was why he took the job for Du Bignon.

But, with 10 doses of the cure in hand, they left the electric power plant building and headed for the infirmary. Some of the infected took note and tried to catch them. But, they had learned that running from the infected worked well enough and was less dangerous than fighting them. So they hastily made it to the infirmary.

The doctors from Pulitzer’s group were all at the infirmary but Dr. James had not shown up. They were excited to learn about the developed cure and were interested in setting about making more. As an estimate, well over 200 people were already infected. Taking an hour to make 10 doses meant a lot of work ahead for the medical people.

So, Dr. Rajahdys took an hour to teach the doctors the process for making the remedy. Meanwhile, Evgenia and the others examined the other labs in the infirmary. There were three full labs on the island that could produce the remedy: two in the infirmary and the lab in the power plant building.

The doctors agreed to work through the night at the infirmary to develop as much of the cure as they could in as short a time as possible. But, they would need somebody to guard the infirmary from infected attacks while they worked. The infirmary was not as solidly boarded up as the other buildings because they were only normally there during the day.

Evgenia, Bartley, Dracona, Archibald and the others agreed to return in time to defend the infirmary throughout the night. The doctors decided to work in pairs to check each other’s work and make sure the serums were correct, assuming Dr. James would help. Lewellys Franklin Barker agreed to go back to the lab at the power plant building with Dr. Rajahdys where they would hole up, check on the initial test patient and diligently create the serum batches there, too.

They phoned the operator to let her know that they were going to visit the JP Morgan cottage to see if Dr. James wanted to join in the production before they headed farther down the road to the cottage where Pulitzer and his people were. The operator informed them that the Pulitzer people had been able to capture a half-dozen infected.

That was news of interest. So, they got the go-ahead and left the infirmary, running to the place where JP Morgan and his people were holed up. At about rifle range from the house, three bodies were seen, obviously shot to death at long range by rifles. But, they were expected so no gunshots greeted them.

As they got through the door, some people shot over the heads of infected that chased them as they ran to the house. The building had all the first floor windows and doors boarded up, just like the club house. After entering the large building, servants set about locking and boarding up the door behind them.

A large man in his 50s, about 6 feet tall and 270 pounds and impeccably dressed, introduced himself as JP Morgan and shook their hands as he led them into a sitting room. “I need a moment,” he instructed as he pulled a fresh Havana cigar from his inner coat pocket and lit it. The other men obediently left the room and closed the doors behind them. Wasting no time, he got to the point.

“You came here on a boat yesterday, right?” They confirmed. “The hell with all the others, I need to get off this Island. I’m an important man,” he began with a puff on the cigar. Then he pulled out a wad of cash and held it up for them to see.

“I have $2,000 cash if you will take me and my family safely to the mainland right now. Safe passage to the mainland and all of this is yours,” he indicated as he fanned out the cash to show them its denominations. His offer was quite a sizable sum of money.

“For all we know,” Archibald diplomatically began, “our boat is at the bottom by now, just like all the others.” “I’m afraid we can’t take your money,” Evgenia chimed in. “Besides,” Bartley added, “we’ll need all the help we can get hunting and trapping all the infected now that we have the cure.” “But we could really use Dr. James’ help, right now, to make enough serum for them all in the shortest amount of time,” Dracona added.

However, disappointed Morgan was, he seemed intrigued by being able to “hunt” the infected. And, with a cure in hand, the danger to himself was surely minimized. But, with a huff he rolled up his money and put it away as he puffed a cloud of cigar smoke, walked to the door and called for Dr. James.

When Dr. James arrived, Evgenia informed Dr. James about the captured infected people at the Pulitzer cottage. Dracona informed that each of the infected had to get the serum injection. That sparked Bartley to put forth an idea.

“Do you think the serum would work in a method that doesn’t require as much medical training as an injection? Could it work if it was just made to contact the infected or in a mist or aerosol form,” he inquired. Dr. James pondered that idea a moment.

“Aerosol is not yet viable. The process would probably destroy the serum and the tanks are too heavy to be portable. But, if I were to use these,” he extracted a rubber bulb syringe from his medical bag, “we could test the theories on the infected imprisoned in the Pulitzer cottage.” With a plan, they phoned ahead and made haste to the Pulitzer cottage.

Pulitzer had boarded up the home and retreated inside with his staff. Unlike the others at the club house and at JP Morgan’s, he had attempted to catch as many of the infected as possible, restrained them and tried to keep them alive. “We heard that you have infected people that we might be able to cure,” Archibald said as they entered.

Joseph Pulitzer introduced himself and his family Kate, Pulitzer’s wife, and their 5 children, some as young as two. Also inside were Pulitzer’s aides Walter Allen and Graham Chapman, David Davis (DD) Walker and 18 staffers. “Your staff of physicians are being most helpful in creating enough serum to cure all the infected,” Bartley graciously informed. “Dr. James will try some other methods of administering the serum.”

But through the formalities, he was anxious to get on with the cure. As they headed to the basement, Evgenia inquired about how they were able to capture the infected. Pulitzer smiled and informed them.

“It was my wife,” he said. “At times, she plays some popular songs. Some of the infected seem to be attracted to the music. A small area in the blockade is removed, leaving enough space for one of the infected to squeeze through tightly.”

“Certain infected will hear the song and proceed to the trap, even though they must cross the sunlight clearing to get there. They are invariably exhausted by the time they start to crawl through the trap and my loyal staff carefully restrain and imprison them in the basement. To date we have captured only six of the infected,” he informed. “But, given the manpower and a place to store them, we could capture many more.”

In the basement, they injected three of the infected with the serum. They used the rubber bulb syringe to spray the serum into the infected mouth of one, into the nose of another and onto its open skin on a third. It would take hours before they would learn if the alternate application methods would work. So, they instructed the Pulitzer people to check on the infected throughout the night and report in the morning.

Pulitzer also told them that the residents of the cottage occasionally fire shots into the air to scare the infected off. Something in the infected mind tells them that gunshots are bad and they leave for a bit. But they come back later so the occupants re-board windows and such as they are battered.

But, time was growing short and they had to return to the infirmary to guard the working doctors. Dr. James agreed to work through the night with the other doctors in the infirmary to help make as much serum as possible. As the sky started to darken, they made it back to the infirmary.

The infirmary and the other inhabited buildings were constantly besieged by the infected pounding on doors and pulling at boards. Gunshots rang out at irregular intervals to scare off the infected that pawed at the boards covering the windows and moaned in hunger. It gave a chill for any who tried to sleep while something just beyond the wall wanted to eat them. In the end, none of them got any rest that night.

At dawn of the last day of 1889, the infected again wandered away to seek shelter from the sunlight. The infirmary had survived the night with only minor breaches and the doctors felt they had completed their portions of the serum. A fast servant was sent to the electric power building and warned to throw rocks at the door and call out rather than knock.

The runner returned with Dr. Rajahdys, Lewellys Franklin Barker, and the original test subject who was still alive and had adequately caught up on his sleep so that he was functional, again. So, it would take a good day and a half of rest before the infected returned to normal. But, the Pulitzer cottage reported that only the infected that were injected had improved.

They began rounding up the infected in the immediate area, trapping them in the infirmary and injecting them. As the evening approached, the clubhouse staff was still planning a feast for those inside. With the cure found and a return to normalcy in sight, a celebration of sorts was held, between watching over the infected that were still trying to get inside.

The rest of the week was spent rounding up the infected and making sure they all got injections. It was also learned that if somebody was administered the serum as soon as they were bitten, they would not degrade into one of the infected. On the second day of rounding up the infected, in a forested part of the island, they captured and administered the serum to Susan Albright. Her husband, John, was most pleased to have her back and see her recover.

As the roundup and injection progressed, the nights got less and less hectic. Searching the island, they rounded up the infected in the Horton house ruins and the various other hiding places until the entire island was cleared and all personnel accounted for.

As the week went on, it became clear that if word of this got out, the shares in the club would drop in value. The club might forever more have a stigma attached to it. And, the members who were there might be looked at differently by everyone, as if they might be infected with a disease like some commoner.

As a result, the members agreed to not spread the true story. And the members will make sure the servants understand that tongue wagging about the events would result in their unemployment. Some legends and tales would surely creep up from the event, but there are many of those across the lands.

As the end of the week approached, Eric Grobb approached them. The club members had decided to offer them secret associate club memberships if they agreed to keep the whole affair silent. They agreed and were given secret shares in the Jekyll Island club.

In addition, the break in the telegraph line to shore was found and fixed. The superintendent requested ships and equipment for raising the sunken ships. Bartlett sent a telegraph to the Fellowship, asking that they send somebody to debrief the hunters in nearby Brunswick. A telegram came back telling that a man would meet them in a safe house there and take their report on Monday, January 6.

Clockwork 1888 Session 93

Clockwork 1888 Date: Sunday, December 29, to Monday, December 30, 1889
It was time for lunch and they hadn’t eaten since breakfast so they joined the other guests at lunch. “Is anything being done to find a cure for this,” Bartley inquired as they talked. Grobb told them that Dr. James, from JP Morgan’s people, and some of the doctors from Pulitzer’s people were working in the infirmary, but only during the day. They also learned that the clubhouse included a telegraph office, but it was useless because the line to Brunswick seemed to be cut somewhere.

There was also a telephone switchboard and an operator still on duty because the phones on the island work. The switchboard operator could put calls through to any of the local buildings but the electric plant building didn’t have a phone because it wasn’t completed, yet. The operator had contacted all of the other buildings and the few servants that were in them were now in the clubhouse, in the other boarded up guest houses, or among the infected.

They decided to go to the infirmary after lunch. They promised Albright that if they found his wife, they’d bring her back safely. Grobb offered to visit the telephone operator and call the infirmary to let them know to expect visitors. So, the servants unbarred a door on the sun side of the clubhouse and they quickly left.

They got lucky and, although they saw some infected in the woods, they didn’t run into any on their way to the infirmary. The building was boarded up at night but the front door boards were removed when the doctors were inside and boarded up again when they left. None of the doctors stayed in the infirmary overnight.

As they approached, the front door swung open and, after they came through, a well-dressed man, probably 22, closed the door and barred it. “Lewellys Franklin Barker, University of Toronto Medical School,” he introduced himself. “My colleagues are over here,” he ushered them to one of the medical labs.

It was a very well stocked and modern infirmary. “The building is boarded up at night,” he told them, “and we make sure we leave with plenty of time to board it up and get back to our respective cottages. Then, he introduced his colleagues, Dr. Guthman, Dr. George Washington Hosmer, and Dr. Robert Wilson.

“We heard that Dr. James was here, too,” Evgenia informed as she noticed his absence. “Yes, he is,” Barker informed. “Normally Dr. James does not cooperate or work with the doctors from the Pulitzer cottage,” he enlightened. “It’s out of professional medical differences. He’s in another lab, elsewhere in the building.”

They discussed what the Pulitzer doctors had found, and Evgenia took detailed notes. When they had that, Barker took them to see Dr. James. After Barker left, Dr. James explained that he cared for Albright’s wife, Susan, there until she escaped. He took detailed notes of the disease and its effects but he keeps the notes in his room at the cottage where JP Morgan was staying.

“Could you tell us what you recall,” Bartley inquired. He had numerous notes on her blood chemistry and he even performed several experiments, not dangerous ones, on her while she was restrained. Dr. James went over all that he could recall with them. Of course, his notes would be best but he gave them the bulk of what he had learned so far.

They inquired whether a Dr. Laakari Rajahdys, the doctor hired by Du Bignon, had come by the infirmary. Dr. James had never seen the man but heard he was holed up in the building where the electric plant would go. With some daylight left, they decided to head to the electric plant building. Dr. James offered to call the operator to let them know their plans.

They decided to go around one of the buildings to keep as much distance between them and the forest. They didn’t want to arouse any of the infected in the forest. Unfortunately, as they were heading toward a pair of buildings, ten infected came out of the building on their left, hungry.

As the distance between them and the infected closed, Dracona and Fredryck cast protection spells upon themselves. The others had been determining whether they could outrun them or not. In the end, two infected were able to get close enough to take swipes at Fredryck, but they were able to outrun the infected.

As they came toward the electric power building, they had to go through another pair of buildings. The infected that had taken shelter in one of the building decided to try for a bite. But, they were still too fast for the apparently exhausted infected.

The electric plant building was built like a brick fortress with a single metal door and no windows. Several steel air vents were spotted about 10 feet up from the ground around the building. Through the roof rose a single large smokestack with smoke billowing out of it. In the back were two coal doors with an iron padlock.

However, the most notable thing was the body lying at the door of the electric power building. Closer inspection determined that the person was dead. So, they shoved the body away from the steel door and Archibald knocked on the door.

Knocking sent a jolt of electricity through his hand. “What the,” he exclaimed as he kicked the door in protest. “You don’t want to do that,” he said as Dracona moved up to knock on the door. They called out to the supposed inhabitant until they heard unlocking and the door opened.

Quickly they filed into the building and the door closed behind them. The man introduced himself as Dr. Laakari Rajahdys as he locked the door. “Why did you electrify the door,” Archibald inquired.

“I electrified the door to keep the infected banging to a minimum. It doesn’t do much but when they touch it, the infected can’t always figure out what is hurting them and many keep touching it until they pass out,” the doctor explained. “There was a body in front of the door,” Evgenia informed.

“Oh,” the doctor seemed concerned. “If he still had contact with the door it would eventually fry his insides. The other infected that have passed out from shocks eventually woke up and wandered off.”

The doctor was a well groomed man dressed in a white lab jacket. He had short white hair and large wire rim glasses that accentuated his educated appearance. They could tell that he was a man of some power and intelligence.

He checked the wires leading to the door. “The infected sometimes bang on it for hours, especially at night. This keeps that to a minimum,” he said as he then started up a small motor and the whir of a generator electrified the door again.

Dr. Rajahdys explained that his employer, Mr. Du Bignon, hired him to work through some very old scientific papers and samples Du Bignon had found that belonged to a relative. Du Bignon’s hope was that Rajahdys would be able to find something that would be profitable, like a new invention or such. Rajahdys discovered that the samples contained dormant versions of the Rhabdoviridae Dubois virus and was able to distill samples to infect lab rats.

Unfortunately, one of the rats escaped and apparently infected some locals. Since then, the infection spread and the entire local population seemed to have gotten it. He had been holed up in the building since and had been working on a cure.

He said that he was close, but some work still needed to be done – testing on infected humans. The base cure that he developed seemed to work on animals, but it could be lethal to humans. If they could get some infected to work with, they might be able to help develop the cure for humans.

Examining the building, Du Bignon had equipped a lab for Dr. Rajahdys to work on his experiments. The lab was typical, with beakers, flasks, Bunsen burners, test tubes, etc., littering the area and a separate room with cages of numerous sizes. Dr. Rajahdys was stranded inside the building, his experiment gone awry effectively imprisoned him. So, he continued experiments to pass the time.

With dusk approaching, they decided to see if they could get a test subject. Luck was on their side and sunlight had found one of the last batch of infected that had come out of hiding in the buildings. They quickly put a sack over the hibernating infected person’s head and tied him up. Then, they dragged him inside and secured him inside a heavy cage as he began to thrash about.

Dr. Rajahdys was very doubtful that the base cure would work on a pure form of the Rhabdoviridae Dubois virus. It seemed only to work because the strain he was able to distill from the samples was terribly diluted. The strain also seemed to be easier to spread than the full strength strain, but most animals were likely immune to it.

Rajahdys’s notes on the Rhabdoviridae Dubois virus as well as the original DuBois notes and samples were there. Rajahdys was happy to let them peruse notes his and all of the DuBois material. They brought out their notes from the other doctors and pored over everything to try and develop the right dosage.

The test subject grew stronger and more flexible as darkness arrived. Luckily, the combined bindings and cage held him fast. Seizing the ravenous test subject to steady him, they injected him with the prepared dosage. Locking the cage room door, they knew they’d have to wait to see if it worked.

Secure inside the electric plant building, they didn’t have to guard from the outside infected that rampaged across the island at night as long as they kept the motor/generator going. The infected banged on the outside door of the building and the caged one inside thrashed against his bindings in the cage room. They took turns keeping watch and trying futilely to sleep though the noise.

In the morning, things had returned to relative quiet. As everybody was awake and milling about, they checked on the patient. Still bound with a sack over his head, the man was alive but was sleeping. As they moved him to examine him through the cage bars, he was quite complacent.

By noon, a voice called quietly from the cage room. “What did I do,” the infected man inquired through his head sack. Removing the sack they could tell that intelligence had returned to him and the infection seemed to be dissipated. Probably for the best, he didn’t remember what had transpired while he was infected.

Clockwork 1888 Session 92

Clockwork 1888 Date: Sunday, December 29, 1889
It was Dracona that noticed that there were several boats sunk in the vicinity of the docks. The water wasn’t too deep, so Evgenia and Fredryck dove in to investigate. There were 8 rowboats, 3 canoes and several larger vessels. Of the larger vessels, one was an 84’ long steamer, The Jekyll Island, there was a 65’ twin motor cruiser, Sydney, and two launches, the Sylvia and the Kermath.

Exiting the water, the others helped them back onto the docks. “There’s no damage to the ships below the waterline that would have caused their sinking,” Evgenia informed. “It’s like they were intentionally overloaded or tipped to take on water and sink there.” “It would take a lot of effort to drag a canoe or rowboat out of the water,” Fredryck added, “but they aren’t very seaworthy for the open waters between the Island and the mainland. “How long have they been down there?” Bartley questioned. “As near as I can guess,” Evgenia answered as she dried off, “less than a week.”

As they made their way to the end of the dock, they noticed hundreds of footprints going to the docks, mostly running, that seemed to have been made within the last 48 hours. More than half of the footprints were made by people wearing shoes, but the rest were shoeless. Curiously, there were also hundreds of sets of similar footprints coming out of the water, but very few entering the water directly.

They decided to try and follow the majority of footprints that led off into the forested areas. Deciding that they might as well head toward the clubhouse, they went into the forest on the left side of the road. The foliage was thick and the trees diffused any sunlight that got through the cloudy sky.

Three men and a woman lurched out of the foliage and rushed at them. “We’re here to help you,” Dracona called out as they approached. But they seemed ravenous and pushed at each other to get to them. Faster than a walk but not as fast as a run, one moved up to Fredryck, one up to Evgenia and two up to Bartley.

The four were disheveled and poorly dressed; three of them didn’t even have shoes. Their eyes looked like they hadn’t slept in weeks. They moaned incoherently and slobbered as they moved in.

Even though they moved fast, their movement was ungainly and sluggish, like they didn’t have full control over their movement. As the four people got close, they grabbed at them and seemed trying to eat them where they stood. “Zombies!” Dracona called out as one bit Bartley before he could react.

Not ones to just stand there and be eaten, they fought back. Bartley stepped back, shot, and solidly hit the one that bit him. But, it didn’t react to the gunshot as much as he’d expected. Archibald began his inspiring encouragement for Evgenia and Bartley.

The infected had a more difficult time biting them once the advantage of surprise was gone. Dracona moved next to and breathed fire upon the infected woman attacking Evgenia. The ravenous woman got caught fire in Dracona’s breath.

Evgenia stepped back, pulled her Winchester and shot the flaming woman. Again, the gunshot wound was not as lethal as it should have been. Fredryck drew his sword and struck the infected person on him. The infected man was duly injured by the sword swipe and Fredryck called out that information.

Bartley stepped back, again, cast a spell on his gun and shot as Archibald completed his inspiration. Then, Archibald drew a large slashing knife and struck one of the infected men attacking Bartley. The infected ineffectively tried again to eat them, again, but this time Fredryck’s opponent scored a lucky bite to his hand.

Dracona blasted the female infected, again, and she went down in a heap of flaming flesh. Evgenia turned her attention to the one that Archibald attacked and shot it. Fredryck sliced into the infected man attacking him, again.

Bartley shot again and Archibald sliced into the infected man, again. The infected tried in vain to bite them as Dracona breathed fire on another and Evgenia shot the infected, again. Fredryck decided to try to subdue the infected man and he struck hard, dropping the infected man.

Bartley continued shooting them and Archibald continued slashing them. Again, the infected failed to land a bite and Dracona set another on fire and Evgenia shot it, sending him to a fiery grave. Fredryck charged the last one and cut it down with his sword.

“They’re not undead,” Evgenia concluded as she approached the unconscious one. “This one is still breathing. The other three are dead but this must be what they’re reduced to when they succumb to the disease that the telegraph mentioned.”

They tended to their wounds as they discussed the differences between zombies and the infected people and went over observations they’d made during the combat. The infected acted like zombies but, while they moved sluggishly, as if they were unbelievably tired, their actual movement rate was faster than what most people walk. Bartley noticed that they avoided the patches where the tree cover let the direct sunlight to shine through the tree canopy.

They didn’t seem to be using complex tactics during the combat that most humans are normally capable of. It was almost as if they were wild animals. Zombies attack with no tactics and, while these people didn’t appear to be skilled tacticians, they at least showed animal intelligence in the combat.

Zombies tended to move slower than the infected and are the remains of the recently dead who were animated to undead life by an evil priest, magic user or certain dark creatures. Zombies take normal damage from slashing weapons and the infected people seemed to have a similar resistance. Zombies move in a halting manner and shuffle along but these people had full use of their muscles and were relatively coordinated in comparison, although they appeared to be very tired.

Zombies are mindless and generally attack until an opponent is dead and then shuffle off but these people acted like they wanted to eat them. Zombies are frequently seen in burial clothes since they are most often summoned from fresh graves. But, these people had relatively fresh, although poor, clothes on and didn’t appear to have been in burial clothes.

Before long, they noticed several more of the infected people coming at them through the forest and beyond. Some were rising out of the foliage in the distance and some were emerging from cottages near the clearing. Some of those coming from the clearing had blood splattered on their clothes, staining them red. They saw several of them, no dozens, wait, maybe over a hundred.

“I think we can take them,” Dracona nervously joked. The way to the clubhouse did appear clear so they headed toward it. As they got into the clearing, they noticed that some infected that tried to follow them had come into the brighter light of the clearing and fell down, as if they had fallen asleep in the direct sunlight.

The clubhouse was a five story structure made in the Queen Anne style with the exterior featuring a beautiful turret, bay windows, chimneys, and an asymmetrical design. Behind the structure, illuminated by the cloudy sky, could be seen two servants buildings, stables and a windmill/water tower. Strangely enough, all of the lower floor windows to the clubhouse appear to be boarded up.

They received a challenge from inside, “move along or we’ll shoot.” At that, they saw many rifle barrels pointed at them through the wooden slats that blocked the windows. They positioned themselves in a reasonably unclouded area and spent some hurried diplomacy time for Archibald and Evgenia to convince the inhabitants to let them enter.

Doing so, they heard crowbars at work, taking boards off the door. Apparently, the doors were actually boarded up as well, but from the inside. They rushed to the opening door and got inside.

They were besieged by several of the staff and guests firing questions at them once they were inside the clubhouse. “Why are you here?” “Who are you?” “Did you fight some of the infected?” “Do you have a boat?”

After some answers and when the holed up people found out that they weren’t part of an organized rescue mission from the mainland, some of them wandered back to their posts. It was then that they were led to the dining room where they could discuss the situation over coffee or tea. The club members included John Joseph Albright, Francis Bartlett, John Eugene Du Bignon, Henry Baldwin Hyde, Charles Lanier, General Edmund B Hayes, club superintendent Ernest Grobb, and club assistant superintendent Julius A Falk.

There were also 96 staff members and servants that had joined forces in the club house. The club was bought in 1879 and established as an exclusive hunting club by Newton Finney and brother in law John Eugene Du Bignon with 53 founding members. The island was stocked with game; quail, pheasant, ducks, squirrel, rabbit, fox, deer, elk, wild boar and more are available to hunt.

Due to the nature of the club, there were plenty of firearms. The members were equipped with sporting rifles and heavy revolvers while the staff all had repeating rifles and medium revolvers. It was almost comical to see some of the waiters and washwomen going about their duties and hauling the guns along with them.

Construction of the clubhouse proper was finished in late 1887. Needless to say, they didn’t like nailing the boards over the windows and doors. But, it had to be done for the protection of the club members until the malady passed.

There were numerous shops and rooms in the clubhouse including a large taxidermist shop used by members to show off their trophy kills, a billiards room for the men, and a barber shop. There was also an exquisite dining area which had ionic columns. The ceilings in most rooms were 12-15’ high, and the rooms had oak detailed woodwork, leaded glass windows and ornate fireplaces.

Despite the dire situation, formal meals were still being served and they were informed of what was available for lunch. The posted menu for lunch was raw oysters, cream of lettuce soup, crab newberg, roast lamb, squash, eggplant, lettuce and tomato salad, wine jelly, whipped cream, champagne, coffee, cherry brandy, claret, creme de menthe, almonds, olives, bonbons, and chocolate peppermints and then for dinner: an appetizer of caviar on toast and raw oysters, a meal of roast beef, fish, potatoes, peas and carrots, another course of roast quail and a lettuce salad, with dessert of orange sherbet and chocolate pudding and finally sauterne, champagne and coffee.

There were also obvious signs of preparations for a New Year’s Eve party going on. The staff was putting up decorations here and there and the kitchen staff had put several cases of champagne in the cooler to prepare for the New Year. Bartley leaned to Evgenia and whispered, “No thought to rationing yet?”

“And they’re a haughty bunch,” Evgenia observed while Fredryck was conversing with the upper crust members. “The members seem to think they’re above everybody else. The superintendent and his assistant seem perfect for their jobs as they show respectful deference to the club members and see to their every need in as quick a manner as possible.”

Proudly they mentioned that the club recently built an electrical plant on the Island, and due to the foresight of the club members, the club had been built with eventual electric use in mind. Beautiful electric powered chandeliers can be seen in many of the rooms and electric power can be accessed in every room of the clubhouse. Each room has heat from boilers in the basement as well as a fireplace in each room.

The staff arrived in October to put the clubhouse in order for the members. In addition to members’ personal servants, there was also a yacht captain, James A Clark, and his engineer John F Courier (currently without a yacht. The head carpenter/fix it man was Torkel “Chips” Torkelsen, the head electrician was Gilbert A Kay, and the head gardener was Tom Scott. There was also the games keeper/armorer, Charles Brinkman, the head fishermen, a taxidermist Mr. Walbert, multiple stable hands, a blacksmith, a head chef Mark Stanley, a steward, a pantry man, cooks, waiters, busboys, dishwashers, chambermaids, a tennis pro, bicycle instructor GW Evans, tray boys, porters, laundry women, and others for various menial tasks.

All of the staff were crowded into the third floor servants quarters at the time as the nearby servants buildings weren’t deemed safe. Most of the servants who dealt directly with the staff were Italian or Irish immigrants, but a few were German, English, French, Canadian, Cuban and Greek. The staff was trained to speak to the members only when spoken to and were very respectful of the members and their wishes, for the most part.

They could tell that most of the staff was frightened by what was going on. But, they were following orders because they didn’t see an alternative. The most menial tasks were relegated to the servants that were residents of the Island and the descendants of slaves. Those Island resident servants were even more frightened than the members or other staff as they could see numerous people that they knew (i.e. friends and family members) among the infected that had been attacking the clubhouse.

Behind the club house were several boarded up servant’s quarters, the water tower/windmill, the stables, the infirmary, and the electric plant. The stable was boarded up and still had 12 uninfected horses in it. The servants unboarded it each day and cared for the horses.

There was no infirmary set up in the clubhouse. Anyone who became infected was thrown outside. The various doctors had occasionally been using the infirmary during the day for general purposes and for some research.

After the discussions subsided, Francis Bartlett pulled them aside, taking them to the relative seclusion of the club library. The library shelves were made of Philippine mahogany and the floor had an intricate design made of mahogany and birds eye maple. The well organized shelves were lined with rare and unusual books as well as all of the classics and current popular topics.

Bartlett sent out the telegram when he became worried since several staff and one of the club member’s wives, Susan Albright, got deathly ill with a mind wasting disease of some sort. He had no clue as to what was actually going on, but he was happy to do anything they would ask, within reason.

Moving freely through the clubhouse, they began questioning the staff and guests about anything odd they saw prior to the epidemic. They found out from a servant, “I saw Du Bignon hauling a VERY old and ornate chest up to his room a few weeks ago. He wouldn’t let any of the servants help. He then hired some scientist and has him working out at the electrical plant.”

They inquired about which room was Du Bignon’s and then waited for a moment while the servant was sent to fetch Du Bignon to his room. When confronted about what he was hauling in the chest, Du Bignon tried to be helpful. There were scientific notes in the chest. The notes had been kept in the family dating back over a hundred years.

He had hired Dr. Laakari Rajahdys to read through them because he hoped that they might contain something he could sell. When the current problem arose, he moved from his cottage to the clubhouse. Du Bignon had a gnawing suspicion that Dr. Rajahdys’ experiments might have caused the problem but he wasn’t at all sure and he had no evidence to that effect.

He offered to show them and they went into his room. He explained that all of the samples and scientific papers were with Dr. Rajahdys at the electric plant that was being built. But, some personal diaries and such were there.

They decided to read through the six diaries. The books cracked when opened and it was obvious they hadn’t been opened in decades. Du Bignon informed them that he had not had time to read them.

They were written in French and had entries dated from around 1792. With Fredryck, Evgenia and Archibald they were able to peruse the contents in about an hour. They learned that they were the diaries of Leroy Dubois, a man who was excommunicated and banished from Paris for crimes against nature in the early 1790s.

Dubois seemed to be experimenting with a disease that seemed to spread much like rabies and had many similar qualities. The infected seem to be unable to digest “dead” meat, so they quite naturally hunted living flesh to fight the hunger pains. Subjects report anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, paranoia, terror, and hallucinations before succumbing to delirium and then turning into one of the infected.

“The church’s representative, Monsignor Lubois, has pronounced that those that become fully infected are soulless. I spit upon his decision,” the diaries informed. “The council has banished me from all French lands, but I will make sure that my descendant’s exact revenge upon them!” was in the fifth diary. And the sixth informed, “I will make sure that every branch of my family receives a trunk with copies of my journals as well as samples of my work so that they might continue the tests after I die.”

Du Bignon was horrified to learn of the contents. “In no way did I intend for anything like this to happen,” he explained. “I’ll cooperate fully with whatever I can in the investigation.” With notes on the information gleaned, they headed back to where the other guests were.

As they grew close, John J. Albright with his friend and business partner, Brigadier General Edmund Hayes, approached them. Albright begged that they find his wife, Susan. She became infected and was confined to the infirmary. She was observed by Dr. James for a while, but she escaped one night.

Albright offered to pay them $200 cash if they could bring her back. He explained that she was 5’ 6”, 120 pounds, with brown hair and eyes and he showed them a photograph of her. Mrs. Albright was wearing long white undergarments when she escaped from the infirmary.

Hayes volunteered to go with them. He explained that he was a good man in a fight and, while his friend Albright was also a good man, he hadn’t had much experience outside of the business world. As they were discussing it, Grobb approached them.

Grobb mentioned that the infected were more active and aggressive at dusk and at night than during the day. If they were considering any kind of foray outside, it had to be during the daylight hours. At that time of year, the sun rose after 7:30 am and set after 5:30 pm.

Clockwork 1888 Session 91

Clockwork 1888 Date: Wednesday, August 21, through Sunday, December 29, 1889
Bartley and Archibald inquired with the Maasai about taking the lion skins. The Maasai had no problem if they wanted them for trophies and skinned the lions appropriate for what they wanted. Archibald wanted to take one to a taxidermist and have it mounted for in his theater. Bartley was more interested in a lion rug.

The day after the meat eating, Mabruki escorted them back to Tsavo, where Patterson and the bulk of their caravan had stayed. Patterson and Rashidi had found the telegraph line break and repairs were underway. They were interested in the story of the battle and what transpired while they were with Mabruki and the Maasai. Patterson seemed intrigued by the idea of hunting dangerous game and inferred that he would be taking up the hobby.

Patterson was interested in the elephant gun and the H&H but he knew that the H&H belonged to Ryall. He vowed to get one, though. By the time they got back to Voi, Ryall was more recovered and was glad to hear that the man-eaters had been taken care of. Ryall was especially delighted that his gun was used in their killing.

They arrived back in Mombasa on August 26, after the 2 day elephant caravan back. The news of their success was telegraphed ahead and Cecil Rhodes had already left Mombasa to return to South Africa. But, he did leave their return fare and a stipend for their aid. Their ship left Mombasa on Friday, August 30. Patterson’s next orders were to return with his squad to India. There was something about guarding a shipment of some kind of bronze statue that they wanted his squad to attend to personally.

They relaxed on their 17+ day journey back to England. When they arrived at the Southampton docks on Tuesday, September 17, the ladies, Adoline, Fen and Brina, were there to greet them, again. As they got off the ship, Adoline made her usual unbridled greeting of Fredryck and Fen her usual restrained greeting of Bartley.

The train trip back to London was full of inquiries into their adventure. Adoline and Brina were back at Oxford and couldn’t stay long after their arrival in London. So after arriving in London, she gave Fredryck a passionate goodbye before driving away in her Benz with Brina.

It was Saturday, November 16, when Adoline burst into Yermak Investigations. “Did you hear?” she excitedly inquired. “Nellie Bly has started a journey around the world. She plans to beat the time laid out for Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days.”

Nellie Bly was traveling for the New York World magazine. And, there was another woman, Elizabeth Bisland from the Cosmopolitan magazine, who left the same day. Bisland was traveling in the opposite direction and planned to beat even Nellie Bly.

Adoline had read Bly’s 1887 asylum expose on brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. She was due to arrive in Southampton, England, late on the 21st or early on the 22nd. Adoline was excited about Nellie Bly’s trip and wanted to go to the docks to greet her.

Of course, all of England had heard of the race around the world. To that end, Prince George summoned Fredryck to his chambers. “The Queen would like Miss Bly’s time in England to be expeditiously handled. I trust you and the others can make sure that Miss Bly has no problems while in our fair country and that she makes her next connection.” Fredryck agreed and they planned for their dockside rendezvous with Nellie Bly.

They arrived at the Southampton docks late in the afternoon to await the Augusta Victoria’s arrival. Evgenia noticed a man that seemed a bit on edge. Striking up conversation with the man she learned that he was there to meet Nellie, too.

But, he was from the London World and had news for Nellie. Jules Verne had asked to meet with Nellie in his home in Amiens, France. He wasn’t sure how to accomplish that so they offered to help.

Spreading out, Evgenia was able to find that the mail ship would leave that evening taking mail to France. But it left from London so they would have to travel to London that evening. Archibald learned that all the regular trains until morning had left. But, he found that a special mail train, for delayed mail, sometimes headed that way.

Returning to the man with their information, they calculated that Nellie would probably have to go without sleep for two days to accomplish the meeting with Verne. About 2:30 in the morning on Nov. 22, the Augusta Victoria arrived. They went out with the landing boat but stayed back and let the World correspondent speak with Nellie, first.

“Mr. and Mrs. Jules Verne have sent a special letter asking that if possible you will stop to see them,” the London correspondent said to her as they walked. Fredryck, Adoline, Evgenia and the others fell in behind. “Oh, how I should like to see them!” Nellie exclaimed, adding in the same breath, “Isn’t it hard to be forced to decline such a treat?”

“If you are willing to go without sleep and rest for two nights, I think it can be done,” he said quietly. “Safely? Without making me miss any connections? If so, don’t think about sleep or rest.”

“It depends on our getting a train out of here tonight. All the regular trains until morning have left, and unless they decide to run a special mail train for the delayed mails, we will have to stay here all night and that will not give us time to see Verne. We shall see when we land what they will decide to do.”

They all stood on deck, shivering in the damp, chilly air, and looking in the gray fog like uneasy spirits. The dreary, dilapidated wharf was a fit landing place for the antique boat. The correspondent escorted Bly into the customs shed while Archibald checked on the mail train and informed them of the passengers.

As Bly and the correspondent exited the customs house, they learned that it had been decided to attach a passenger coach to the special mail train to oblige the passengers who wished to go to London without delay. The train was made up then and everybody got into the car.

The porter offered food and they ate as the train pulled out of the station. It was then that there was time for introductions and chatting about her journey. Adoline had her copy of Nellie’s book, 10 Days in a Madhouse, and asked if Nellie would sign it for her. Tickled that Europeans had actually read it, Nellie obliged with a written greeting to Adoline above her signature.

When the train reached London, as no train was expected at that hour, Waterloo Station was almost deserted. Then, they were whisked away in four-wheeled cabs. As it was daylight, they pointed out Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and the Thames, across which they drove.

They first went to the London office of the New York World where they waited for Nellie to complete her business there. Then, they went to the American Legation to get her passport, as she was instructed at the World office. Soon they were whirling through the streets of London again, to the office of the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company, where she bought tickets that would cover at least half of her journey. A few moments again and they were driving rapidly to the Charing Cross station.

At the Charing Cross station they ate, again, before catching the train. Aboard, Nellie got a little sleep but was awakened by the train stopping. Exiting the train, they walked down to the pier where a boat was waiting to take them across the English Channel. It was bitterly cold, but Nellie stayed on deck until they anchored at Boulogne, France.

At the end of the desolate French pier was a small restaurant where they went to get something warm to eat. Nellie noticed that everybody spoke French and even others that had accompanied her ordered in French. The waiter looked blankly at Nellie and she suggested that he repeat the selections in English. The waiter smiled and answered in English. Dracona sighed with relief as he came to her and she ordered in the Queen’s English.

From Boulogne they traveled by train to Amiens. As Nellie was expounding on the subjects of European versus American train cars and sharing foot warmers, the train pulled into a station and stopped. Her escorts informed her that they were at Amiens and they stepped out onto the platform.

Monsieur Jules Verne and Madame Verne, accompanied by Mr. R. H. Sherard, a Paris journalist, stood on the platform awaiting their arrival. M. Verne looked upon Nellie with interest and kindliness and Mme. Verne greeted her with the cordiality of a cherished friend. M. Verne led the way to the carriages which waited for them. Mme. Verne walked closely by Nellie, glancing occasionally at her with a smile, which said she was pleased to meet her.

M. Verne gracefully helped Mme. Verne, Nellie and the other women into a large coupe, while he entered a carriage with the other gentlemen. It was early evening as they drove through the streets of Amiens. Bartley inquired if M. Verne would sign his copy of Around the World in Eighty Days. With a pleasant “oui” M. Verne put a salutation to Bartley and put his signature to the cover page.

When the carriages stopped, they got out on a wide, smooth pavement. The gentlemen hurried up to the ladies’ carriage and properly let them out. The high stone wall before them had a door that M. Verne opened. Over the top of the wall they could see the peaks of the house. Inside was a small, smoothly paved courtyard, and a large, black shaggy dog came bounding forward to greet them affectionately.

M. Verne spoke shortly to the dog and, with a pathetic droop in its tail, it went off to think about it. Entering the home, they went up a flight of marble steps across the tiled floor and Mme. Verne led the way into a large sitting-room. M. Verne urged them to remove their outer wrappings before they went to the sitting room.

Mme. Verne was not more than five feet two in height while M. Verne was about five feet five. M. Verne spoke quickly and the French correspondent translated for Nellie. Included in the exchange was the fact that he had gotten the idea for his book from a newspaper, Le Siecle, which discussed calculations on how a journey around the world might be completed in eighty days.

But, their calculations had not taken into account the difference in the meridians. And, he thought about what a finale such a thing would make in a novel. So, he went to work to write one. Had it not been for that, he wouldn’t have written the book.

Nellie told of her travel plans and M. Verne seemed concerned that she’d excluded Bombay. Nellie informed that time was more important than actually replicating the journey of Phileas Fogg. Still, Nellie asked to see his study and the Verne’s happily took her to see it up a winding spiral staircase.

It was a tidy, modest room with a single chair, desk and window at the top of the house above the conservatory. Off the study was a large library, lined with full book cases from floor to ceiling. In the hall outside the study, on the large map on the wall, were blue marks that marked the travel of Phileas Fogg. With a pencil M. Verne marked on the map the places where Nellie’s line of travel differed from that of Phileas Fogg.

Returning to the sitting room, wine and biscuits awaited and they toasted to Nellie’s coming success. It was noted that time was growing short. Nellie had to leave to catch her train to Calais because missing it would mean a week delay. M. Verne bid Nellie goodbye and Mme. Verne traded French adieus with exchanged cheek kisses.

The Vernes followed them out into the courtyard, and stood at the gate waving farewell to Nellie. In the carriage, Nellie expressed her concern that the enjoyment of her visit had jeopardized the success of her tour. The drivers were reminded to make the best speed back to the station in the shortest possible time. A few moments after they reached the station, the train came in. Bidding a hearty good-bye to Mr. Sherard and the others, Nellie returned to her tour of the world.

Archibald, Bartley, Dracona, Evgenia, Fredryck, Adelaine and Brina had the carriage drivers take them to a local hotel for the evening. Adoline went on about seeing the title of the book that Jules Verne had started writing. It was called “_Cesar Cascabel_,” part of “_The Extraordinary Voyages_” series, and she swore them all to secrecy concerning it. In the morning they caught the train back to the coast and leisurely returned to England.

It was Monday, Dec. 16, when Fredryck was called into the office of Prince George. The Fellowship had received a missive from a seldom heard from Fellowship ambassador. The coding used on the note was old, but still valid.

“Please proceed with all due haste to the Goble docks at Brunswick, Georgia where I rented a small launch which should be waiting for you. It has a red flag with three white stars and is tied up at dock 4. Take the launch to Jekyll Island, Georgia, about a 2 hour trip from Brunswick, and meet me at the main docks there at 9am on Sunday, December 29, 1889. One of the guests was attacked by a wild beast and appears to be infected with some sort of mind draining disease. This type of work in our organization is not my forte and I need help. -Bartlett.”

Local operatives were busy on other assignments and Prince George wanted Fredryck and the other hunters stationed in London to investigate. Because of the approaching Christmas holiday, Adoline was expected to spend the holiday at home in France. She was disappointed that she could not spend any holiday time with Fredryck but made certain to see Fredryck off before he left.

Adoline, Brina and Fen accompanied them on the train to Liverpool for their voyage on Wednesday, Dec. 18. At the docks, they saw them off for their 7+ day voyage to the USA. The voyage was uneventful and they arrived in New York on the 26th where they caught a train, the next day, to Georgia. Arriving in Brunswick, Georgia, on the 28th, they spent the night in Brunswick and went to the Brunswick docks early on Sunday morning, Dec. 29.

The Brunswick docks were empty, and the waters of the Atlantic were calm. A small motored launch with a red flag with three white stars was waiting for them at the dock where they were told it would be. In the boat, there was a map in a small case showing the route to take to the Island, a general outline of the island, and a compass. The uneventful trip was about 2 hours before they pulled up to the dock of Jekyll Island around 9 am.

The ambassador was to meet them at the dock, but it was oddly quiet when they arrived at the appointed time. No other boats appeared to be at the docks. From the shore, through the haze of the morning sky, they could barely make out the clubhouse and several mansions in the distance up an incline on the island. The mansions and clubhouse surrounded a beautifully landscaped open area with flower beds, small ornamental trees, sculptures, etc. They would have to travel the road through a lightly forested area to get to the clubhouse and mansion area.

Clockwork 1888 Session 90

Clockwork 1888 Date: Tuesday, August 20, to Wednesday, August 21, 1889
Many of the warriors in the Kraal were between the ages of 14 and 18, but they were grave and disciplined. The warriors isolated a bullock. The younger ones held the animal, tied a rope around its broad neck and pulled it tight. Its big doe eyes seemed a little uncertain but its struggle was brief and somewhat halfhearted, as though it had experienced the ritual before.

The older, more experienced warriors then took over. Using a bow, they shot a sharpened stick into an artery that bulged under the pressure of the rope. When the stick was removed, bright blood flowed and was collected into a long leather gourd. A young warrior then coated the wound in fresh dung and the animal was released to totter away on unsteady legs, but relatively unharmed.

Fresh milk was then added to the gourd and the contents mixed together. They presented this to Ole Kutata and he performed a complex series of movements with various charms and gestures over the gourd and offered it to Archibald, Bartley, Dracona, Evgenia and Fredryck to drink. After the last of those drank, Mabruki drank from the gourd and Kutata excused himself from their presence to go prepare the oil.

The warriors began to dance. The once grave countenances of the warriors changed and the boy began to bubble through. Grinning and hooting they sprang straight and proud, holding the rough hewn staves of their spears to the sky. They rose effortlessly as though the ground was sprung, showing off and taunting each other to do better. They offered those who had participated in the ceremony to join them in the celebration.

Evgenia and Bartley barely got off the ground to the good-natured encouragement of the Maasai. Dracona then made an impressive jump that got them hooting even more. The dancing continued and, eventually, Kutata returned to the celebration.

Kutata drew them aside and presented them with a gourd that contained the oil essence of which he had spoken. If possible, he looked older and more tired than when they first met him. It was clear that his hold on the Earth was weakening. The presentation of the gift may have hastened his journey to the beyond and there was no one of equal power to take up the burden of Oloiboni for the Maasai people.

“I cannot accompany you, but, if you so desire, one of you can carry my spear into the coming battle.” Ole Kutata held forth a spear that looked as old and experienced as he was. The ornate carvings on the haft of the spear, that was worn smooth from years of daily handling, spoke of the power and love the Maasai had for these traditional weapons of war. It was clear that he was offering a great honor with the gesture.

After some discussion, Fredryck decided to use the offered spear. He could feel magic coursing through the weapon. Kutata smiled a wan smile at them and said, “The man-eaters do not hunt the zebra and gazelle because man is slow and feeble. Look deep into yourself and determine if you will become the protector of my people.”

As part of their preparations, Bartley assembled Ryall’s Holland & Holland double rifle that Rashidi had let them use to hunt the man-eaters. He showed his hired gun man how to reload it for him. Bartley offered to let Archibald use the elephant gun that he had purchased before they left England.

When it came to the gourd of oil essence, Dracona was tasked with carrying it and burning the baobab tree, if it was corrupted. After all, she had the most experience with fire. In addition, Evgenia pressed her Colt revolver into Dracona’s hands. “Six silver shots,” she informed, “just in case you need it.”

In spite of the half day walk to the Kraal, and the exertion of the dancing, the Eokoto e-kule seemed to energize them. As their departure time drew near, they could feel a surge of fearlessness, a strengthening of their determination, and a boost to their morale from the ceremony. They also felt as if they had gained some kind of heightening to their life force, if that could explain it.

It was nearly nightfall before they were able to gather what was needed and leave the Maasai Kraal. The Maasai supplied lit torches to Evgenia and Bartley’s gun man. They also provided seven additional torches for each of them, more than sufficient to last the night.

Mabruki led them into the darkness with a noble grace and a straight back. As they left the sounds of continued dancing behind, the darkness surrounding them weighed like an oppressive blanket. Far from a quiet night, sounds of animals moving through the brush could be heard from all sides. The growl and roars of lions could be heard in the distance.

Evgenia wondered aloud if they were just normal lions or if the man-eaters had picked up their scent. As they got closer to their destination, the roars of lions begin to close in on them. Evgenia, Bartley and Fredryck then noticed glowing eyes just out of the range of the light. But the eyes disappeared as soon as they were spotted.

Mabruki had been setting a brisk pace to try and make it to the sacred Baobab tree before midnight. As the appointed hour approached, they broke out of the brush and into a clearing. The tree came into view, silhouetted against the night sky, and the roaring of the lions suddenly stopped. Mabruki’s step faltered and he whispered, “Beware brothers, the devil is coming.”

Dracona quickly cast a protective spell upon herself, Fredryck cast a protective spell on himslef and Bartley cast a spell to enchant the Holland & Holland double rifle. They were 100 feet from the tree, which was in the center of the clearing. Within the clearing there were no obstructions to movement other than the sacred Baobab tree, which was about 20 feet in diameter.

Then, from just outside the range of their torchlight, a large maneless lion pounced upon Evgenia. Knocking her to the ground, it clawed, bit and raked at her. Surprisingly, the first attack did considerably less harm than one would have thought. But, the others nearly killed her.

Before they could react, a second maneless lion pounced upon Bartley’s torchbearer. His screams were soon silenced by the lion’s attacks as his torch extinguished. Evgenia managed to keep her torch from extinguishing but outside of that light, the slice of moonlight gave little illumination.

Bartley took a step away from his still gun bearer, cast a spell and then fired at the attacking lion. The shot would have dropped many a beast but the lion did not fall. Archibald backed away and also shot it with the elephant gun he was carrying. He hit it soundly but the magical nature of the beast resisted some of the damage and the corrupted beast still lived.

Fredryck stabbed the first lion while Evgenia drew her knife and attacked the lion from below. Even though she struck true, her knife didn’t penetrate its magically corrupted hide. Mabruki also speared the lion on Evgenia. Dracona was out of reach of either lion and lit a torch.

Then, she ran for the tree, calling out as she went to try and draw the lions away. About 20 feet from the tree, a cold chill nearly stopped her in her tracks. Kurata had told them to expect some sign if the baobab tree was indeed corrupted. But, she resisted it and forged ahead to the tree. She could feel the tree’s corruption pulling at her very soul as she got to the tainted baobab tree.

Sensing that Evgenia wasn’t a real threat, the lion that had pounced on her attacked Fredryck, viciously clawing him before biting him hard and grabbing him in its maw. The other lion attacked Bartley but couldn’t grab him. Bartley backed away, again, and fired his second shot from the H&H. It struck the lion but not nearly as well as his first shot. Archibald shot the lion near Bartley with the second shot of the elephant gun he was carrying.

Fredryck escaped the grasp of the lion and stabbed it with the spear. Evgenia, barely alive, figured that if the lion grabbed Fredryck, again, she could get away so she prepared for that. Mabruki struck the lion near Fredryck. Dracona frantically began covering the baobab with the oil essence, feeling the tug at her life force as she went.

The lion on Fredryck mauled and grabbed him, again. Fredryck was not faring well but Evgenia scrambled away from the lion and planted the still lit torch in the ground. The second lion pounced on Archibald maliciously clawing, biting and grabbing him. Archibald was severely injured and Bartley took a step back, reloading while he did so, and then fired again. The second lion slumped to the ground, dead.

Archibald, free from the lion’s jaws, reloaded the elephant gun. Fredryck was able to escape the lion’s hold and he struck it with the spear, again. Evgenia quickly drew her rifle, fired a silver bullet from her position on the ground and hit the lion solidly. Dracona completed oiling the tree’s bark and set it ablaze as she resisted the corruption tugging at her life force. Mabruki stabbed the lion, again.

The lion clawed Fredryck into unconsciousness. Releasing its fallen prey, the lion turned its attention to and bit Mabruki hard, getting a deadly hold of him with its maw. With the second lion dead, Bartley and Archibald turned their attention to the remaining lion and fired at it. Both hit and Evgenia did, too.

With the corrupted baobab alight, burning with an unearthly blue tinge, Dracona left the unholy area. Getting close enough, she pulled the Colt revolver that Evgenia had pressed upon her earlier and shot the remaining lion. Mabruki tried to break free of the lion but was unable.

The remaining lion clawed, raked and bit Mabruki. Mabruki was severely injured but still conscious. Bartley’s shot missed but Archibald hit it soundly and the last lion dropped.

The unearthly blue tinged fire was quickly consuming the ancient tree as they saw to the medical needs of their team. Archibald used the cord of Saint Andrew to revive Fredryck while Evgenia took a look at Bartley’s gun-loader. He was barely alive but she was able to stabilize him. Evgenia went to each of them, including Mabruki, assessing and treating their injuries with her medical knowledge.

Dracona was unharmed and Bartley was able to avoid a lot of damaged. But, Archibald, Evgenia, Fredryck and Mabruki had extensive injuries. With Fredryck conscious but still quite injured, he healed more of Mabruki’s wounds with a prayer, an action that Mabruki watched in amazement. It was a feat he’d only ever seen the Oloiboni perform.

With their Maasai guide adequately recovered, they turned their attention to themselves. Ladies first, Fredryck led a prayer with the reliquary cross to heal Evgenia’s wounds. Then, they said a prayer with the cross for Archibald, and finally to heal Fredryck.

As they completed their healing rituals the tree, weakened by the magical fire, collapsed into nothingness and was gone. The ground where the tree once stood was still cooling when Dracona walked over. The zone of corruption that had pulled at her life force had vanished with the tree.

With all but Bartley’s gun loader mobile, they discussed what to do about getting back to the Maasai Kraal. The lion meat could feed the Maasai people and Mabruki could head back to the Kraal, without them. He would make better time without them because he was used to running in the environment.

As Marbruki was preparing to make haste back to the Kraal, they heard a group of Maasai warriors coming toward the clearing. The six Maasai warriors were sent by Kutata to report the results of the evening’s plan. The Maasai were excited to see the two dead lions, the corrupt baobab destroyed and the hunting party all still alive.

Mubraki sent two to run back to the Kraal with the news while the other four gathered large sticks and vines to transport the lion carcasses. The walk back to the Kraal was less hurried and dawn was breaking by the time they arrived with the pair of carcasses. The news of their return preceded them and numerous Maasai were walking along with them, taking turns at carrying the lions and Bartley’s gun loader. With the dawn, the cord and reliquary cross of Saint Andrew recharged so they revived Bartley’s gun loader and let him walk into the Kraal with them.

They could tell that Mabruki was already being asked to tell the other Maasai what had happened. Mabruki promised to tell them, all of them, when he told the Oloiboni. Disappointed but still excited, they returned to the Kraal where Kutata was seated near an Inkajijik. “I saw that you would succeed,” he said with a broad smile on his face. Then, Kutata gave in to the chatter of the other Maasai and let Mabruki tell their story.

Mabruki started with when the lions leapt out of the darkness, pointing at each of the carcasses as he spoke. The Maasai women gasped when they learned that Evgenia was attacked first. But, Mabruki assured them that Evgenia was a dedicated warrior with the wisdom to keep the torch burning for them. The other Maasai warriors nodded and raised their spears in support.

Mabruki told of the great guns that Bartley and Archibald wielded and how they were attacked after the other lion had downed the gun loader and put out his torch. He elaborated on how Dracona wisely destroyed the unholy baobab, singlehandedly, carried out Kutata’s instructions.

Mabruki seemed to underplay his involvement in the lion battle. He emphasized, instead, how Fredryck fought valiantly with the Oloiboni’s spear and Evgenia escaped the lion to shoot it with her gun.

Then he came to the part where the lion grabbed him in its jaws. He showed the places where he still had remnants of the attack. And then he pointed to Fredryck. “He was the Oloiboni that healed me, “he told them. The Maasai warriors acknowledged Fredryck’s ability with the same respect they showed Kutata. When the story had finished, Kutata addressed them.

In celebration of the victory, Ole Kutata decreed that there would be an Enkang oo-nkiri, a meat eating ceremony. So, a bullock was to be slaughtered for the feast. Mabruki told them that they have been honored to be allowed to participate in the ceremonial killing of the bullock. As they watched one of the bullocks was separated from the herd and, with a quick stroke of a dagger to the back of the animal’s head, the deed was done.

The hocks were taken off the animal and then swift skilled hands began skinning the animal starting near the heart and working down the underbelly. When a sizable flap had been drawn back, Mabruki gestured for them to come forward to participate. One of the older warriors cut the major artery near the heart and bent to drink the blood from the exposed cavity.

He then motioned for them to do the same. After they had finished, other warriors partook of the honor and the remaining blood was decanted into a container for later use.

The warriors then returned to the task of skinning the bullock. Their knives did not penetrate deep into the skin of the beast, as would be done in the western world. The result was that when the skin was removed, a white mucous-like material remained covering the meat like a snug embryonic sack. The meat was then cooked over an open fire for the upcoming feast and they were encouraged to rest in the shade of the thatched roofs.

After the feast, there was more dancing within the Krall. The young warriors were jubilant and sang the Kunda Lion Song in honor of their accomplishment. “_Moto-moto anamata, Nkalam sa funna nkondo_.” Mabruki translated, “Fire, fire young man, the Lion does not want a war.”

Mabruki explained that the song was sung only when a lion had been slain. It was believed that if it was sung when a lion had not been killed, whoever sang it would be killed by a lion.” Ole Kutata leaned closer to Archibald, Bartley, Dracona Evgenia and Fredryck and whispered “_Zikomo kwambli_.” That meant, “Thank you, very much.”

Clockwork 1888 Session 89

Clockwork 1888 Date: Friday, August 16, through Tuesday, August 20, 1889
“Corporal John Henry Patterson,” the man introduced, “at your service. If you’ll follow us, we can get started. I trust you may need to pick up some things before we leave. Rashidi and I can help with that and most things you might need can be gotten here in Mombasa. As Rashidi informed, we already have equipment for the camp and supplies so all you should need might be some appropriate clothes or hats.”

Before leaving London, Bartley had purchased a large caliber double barreled rifle. He didn’t want to be unprepared if they were going to hunt big game. So, he wanted to hire an assistant, somebody to load his gun, if needed. He hired a young man who would make the caravan journey and serve that purpose.

They had gotten a pretty good idea of the conditions at their destination so they had most of their supplies already in their luggage. Things like a pith helmet were best purchased at the location so they made sure to get those and anything else that may have been missed. With everything accounted for, they reconvened, ready to begin.

Porters took their luggage over to the docks, again. Expecting them were small boats and dugouts in which they first crossed the approximately three quarters of a mile long Straight of Macupa to get to the British East Africa mainland. Waiting there was the caravan, complete with native porters, a few horses with British soldiers and six elephants with mahouts on their necks.

Three elephants had thick canvas blankets secured upon their backs, not ornate covered howdahs like you’d see in India, but simply a place on its back to sit. The locals called the elephants “tembo” and the stewards brought ladders for them to climb into place. Evgenia and Dracona were on one elephant, side saddle if they wished, Fredryck and Archibald on another, and Bartley and his gun man on the third. Their luggage was loaded onto the other elephants while the porters hefted their loads to get underway.

For the first twenty or so miles, the trail wound its way steadily upwards through a lushly wooded, almost park-like, country. Once the pinnacle of the Rabai Hills was reached, the land changed character quite quickly. The lush greenery was replaced with a wilderness covered in a scattering of scrub trees, thick underbrush and a layer of fine red dust. The dust easily found its way into a fine coating over everything. Natives could be seen from time to time and Rashidi informed them that they were the Wa Nyika, which means “children of the wilderness.”

Rashidi reminded them of the wisdom of making sure that they have enough water with them whenever they venture into the bush. He pointed out that a combination of the sun, dust, exertion and heat have killed many unwary travelers. By the end of the first day, they had made it to Samburu. It was barely a few huts and a shanty but it was a place to camp for the evening with a watering hole nearby.

Fredryck and the others cleaned their guns to make sure the red dust didn’t foul them and put them safely in bags or blankets for protection but available to get if needed. Their stewards served their evening meal while the others set up tents and tended to the animals and porters. With the temperature getting to a reasonable level in the mid 70’s Fahrenheit, they bed down for the night. It had cooled to near 70 overnight and they were glad to have a hot meal for breakfast before continuing their journey.

At one of the watering holes along the way, they shared the water with hippopotamuses and crocodiles. The dry season made resource sharing a necessity in the area. But Patterson and his men knew how and when to take the elephants and horses in for watering without incident.

As evening approached, about 100 miles from the coast, they reached Voi. While only a town, Voi was the largest station they had entered since leaving Mombasa behind. Built as a trading post, Voi had a school, a hotel and a small hospital. Rashidi informed them that the caravan would need to take on water and some equipment, so they would stop and spend the evening there.

Bartley started asking around and learned that Ryall was brought to the hospital earlier in the day. He seemed to be badly hurt. Ryall was accompanied by only one other man but de did not get the other man’s name.

At the hospital, Dracona passed herself off as some kind of medical person and they got permission to visit Ryall. They found Ryall confined to a bed in a private room. Parenti was standing over him wringing his hands and looking very troubled. Ryall was unconscious and unresponsive.

They decided to try and talk to Parenti, first. They could tell that Parenti was in pretty bad shape, still shaken from the attack of the previous night and the loss of one of his close friends. So, they decided to try tact and to treat him with some care to prevent him from shutting down due to the survivor’s guilt he probably felt for escaping the attack.

Archibald diplomatically questioned Parenti with Evgenia watching him for behavioral signs of withdrawing. They first calmed him down enough to tell his tale. “We had gone ahead to investigate the reports of attacks of the man-eaters in the area near Tsavo, while Patterson and the rest of the team gathered necessary supplies for the hunters,” Parenti began.

“We arrived in Tsavo two nights ago and, in speaking with the locals, had determined that there may be man-eaters around. In the past few weeks, at least 15 villagers have gone missing and the villagers claim to have heard the roar of lions in the darkness. They claimed that the ‘devil’ was there and that no one was safe.”

“On the second night, we agreed that someone should stand watch. Ryall volunteered to take the first watch. The next thing I knew, there was screaming and the sounds of an attack within the building. My rifle was in the back of the building in the lounge area and there was something huge in the sleeping corridor.”

“I didn’t know what to do, so I ran to the front of the building, entered the kitchen area and blocked the door shut with a metal rod. Something tried to get the door open and then I heard a loud crash. Outside, I could plainly hear the crunching of bones and the sound of dreadful purring.”

“I can still hear it!” he screamed as he broke down into tears. They calmed him enough to let him continue. “After things got quiet, I ventured back out into the building over the protests of the stewards. I found Ryall barely alive in the lounge section of the building.”

“There was no sign of Huebner but one of the windows in the building was broken and covered in blood.” Parenti then broke down into sobbing hysterical tears. The hospital’s doctor came in. “He needs to be sedated,” he said as he escorted Parenti out of the room.

Alone with Ryall, they decided to use the cord of St. Andrew on him. Joining in a prayer, the magic of the cord coursed through Ryall. Awakened, Ryall stared straight ahead with his piercing blue eyes in a state of catatonic shock. Understanding the horror he’d witnessed, they delicately got him to talk.

“I had taken first watch. It had been a long several of days and after there was no activity on the first part of my watch, I thought I could sit more comfortably in one of the chairs of the lounge area. The next thing I knew, I was awakened to immense pain. I was on the floor, trapped under the chair and something very heavy was pushing down on me. Then I blacked out.”

Gently pushing for any more information, they learned that he remembered seeing what he thought were two glowworms in the night. But, now he thinks that it must have been the eyes of the predator watching and waiting for its opportunity. They could tell that Ryall blamed himself for the death of his friend, Huebner, since he had fallen asleep on his watch.

As they were leaving the hospital, Rashidi arrived there, having heard the news. He expressed a desire to make sure that Rhodes knew of what had happened. He agreed to continue to Tsavo so that he could make the necessary arrangements for them and introduce them to Mabruki. But, after that he would have to return to report to Rhodes.

In the morning they left Voi and the “desert” area behind and entered a land that was lusher, yet somehow more foreboding. It was impossible to see far in any direction unless the caravan crested a hill, as low, stunted trees and thick undergrowth seem ready to engulf the cut made by the trail.

It was while in the thick undergrowth when Bartley felt a pebble hit him on the cheek. He looked to see a black-faced monkey with a white fringe of hair standing out from its overall grizzled-grey hair color. The nineteen inch vervet monkey spotted Bartley’s reaction and then scurried away into the brush.

Rashidi pointed out a plant that seemed to make up a disproportionate amount of the undergrowth. He informed them that it was a thorny plant called “wait-a-bit”, impassable without the aid of a machete and a strong arm. Here and there a ridge of dark-red heat-blistered rock jutted out above the jungle growth and those landmarks seemed the only aid to navigation in the untamed wilderness.

With darkness rapidly approaching, they arrived in Tsavo. The caravan stopped and they made camp for the evening. There was already one building at the site, albeit little more than a shanty. The building was the place that Ryall, Huebner and Parenti were in when they were attacked. They wanted to examine the building and the surrounding area.

They went in through the lounge area door. There were claw marks on the fabric of one of the chairs in the lounge area, a quantity of blood soaked into the carpet near one of the couches and a broken window. There was an ornate gun case under the couch. Inside was a Holland and Holland Double Rifle and 6 shells.

The brass plaque inside the gun case had the name C.H. Ryall engraved on it. Parenti had apparently had the presence of mind to take both Heubner’s and his rifles with him when he and their stewards transported Ryall to the hospital at Voi. However, he must have overlooked the H&H, which was still disassembled in its ornate carrying case. Rashidi told them that, if they wanted to use it to hunt the beasts, he thought Ryall would not mind as long as it was returned afterward.

They determined that the pounce of the lion on the sleeping Ryall must have flipped over the chair he was sleeping in, trapping him under it. However, because of the position of the couch, the lion was unable to get at him to finish him. Frighteningly, the lion left this disabled, easy prey to then attack Heubner.

They noticed that the window was broken from the inside out and that the building was sitting on a slight incline. The rear door of the building closed on a roller track to latch into place. On the incline, if the door was not firmly shut, it would not completely latch. And, there were slight scratch marks indicating where the door was opened by the lion.

In the sleeper area they found a blood trail leading back into the lounge area toward the broken window. Huebner had been dragged from his bunk to the outside through the window. Once outside, Huebner was probably devoured by the beast.

In the kitchen area, they found claw marks on the door separating the sleeping area from the kitchen. They decided to stay in the building for the night. If the lion came back to hunt again, they wanted to be on its familiar hunting ground.

And they weren’t all going to be asleep. They set up watches throughout the night. So, after a tense night, the dawn broke over the horizon. The red shades of the rising sun blended with the red rock outcroppings of earth that stuck up over the dense undergrowth. There was no attack on their camp that night.

After a bracing breakfast cooked up by the stewards, Rashidi announced that he was making arrangements to return to Voi and check on the repairs to the telegraph. He also confided that he hoped that Patterson would be rejoining him in Voi within the week. Rashidi told them to be careful what they said around Mabruki and his people because, while they were a highly spiritual people, they were not members of the Fellowship.

A short while after finishing breakfast, a man dressed in the traditional dress of a Maasai warrior came walking out of the bush. He was tall and thin with a supple build that spoke of great strength like a willow. He wore a cloth dyed bright red with deep blue accents wrapped loosely around his lithe body. He wore heavy copper earrings in both ears which had elongated his earlobes over time.

His facial features were artfully accented with ocher, a red mineral, mixed with cow fat, much like the war paint of the American Indians. He carried a long wooden pole and a 5 foot spear in his right hand. Rashidi greeted Mabruki with a hearty “Jambo!” and they embraced briefly. He then turned and introduced them in order of his perceived importance of each, with the women introduced last. Mabruki looked appraisingly at the “city” people.

Bartley informed his gun man that they’d be going with the Maasai. But the man refused. He’d heard of the trouble in the area and did not want to continue into the bush, fearing for his life. He had agreed to go to Tsavo with Bartley in the caravan, not into the bush. He offered to get somebody else that would dare the bush dangers for Bartley.

Soon after introductions, Mabruki inquired if they were ready to leave. They had a good walk ahead of them and he wanted to get started. After gathering their gear, leaving unnecessary items with the caravan in the care of their stewards, they were ready to go. Bartley had his new gun aid ready to go along, a native man in red shorts.

Mabruki encouraged them to “walk and talk” because it would be a difficult journey. As they began their foot journey, Mabruki confided that he was a member of the Maasai tribe. They would be journeying to his Kraal, about a half days walk.

As they went, he explained that the Maasai were a semi-nomadic people who lived under a communal system. They moved their cattle to different grazing areas depending on the season. He informed that cattle were central to the Maasai way of life, providing daily food in the form of milk and blood. Their meat was used to celebrate great occasions and their dung was essential for the building of houses.

“The gods have given Maasai dominion over all the world’s cattle,” Mabruki informed. “My cattle ranch kin might beg to differ,” Bartley grumbled. Mabruki turned to him and smiled broadly. “Do not worry. The Maasai let other tribes keep cattle,” he politely informed.

Mabruki informed that they lived in a Kraal, which was arranged in a circular fashion. The fence around the Kraal was made of acacia thorns, which prevented lions from attacking the cattle and people inside. Kraals were occupied by an extended family.

“It is a man’s responsibility to build the fence and tend the cattle,” he told. “Warriors are responsible for security while boys herd the cattle. Women construct the houses, supply water, collect firewood, milk cattle and cook. The Maasai houses, the Inkajijik, are loaf-shaped and made of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and cow’s urine.”

“The elders are directors of the tribe. My family is lucky because one of the tribes Oloiboni, my grandfather Ole Kutata,” he told proudly, “resides in my Kraal. The Oloiboni is a highly regarded spiritual leader in charge of Maasai religious ceremonies, customs and traditional affairs. My own brother was killed by the lion when it prowled the night recently.”

Mabruki then spoke of his spear. It was obviously a tremendous source of personal prestige and tribal pride. It was used for both offense and defense, to serve and to protect. He explained that the physical appearance of the spear indicated the age-graded status of the individual warrior. The haft of the spear was made of wood from the sacred Baobab tree and the tip was made of roughly cast iron.

“Each spear has supernatural empowerment bestowed by the tribal Oloiboni,” he explained. “The greater the status of the warrior the greater the empowerment.” He then told of embellishments to his spear via charms, symbolic designs, application of magical ointments and ritual ceremonies.

“In order to become a warrior of the tribe, a boy must go through several trials and rituals,” Mabruki explained. “This milestone in a male Maasai’s life is usually reached around the age of 15. And, if a Maasai is killed in the bush, you must leave his body where it fell. We have no taboo about animals getting to the body.” He turned to them as he walked, “did you know that Tsavo means ‘Place of Slaughter’?”

After a tiring four hour walk along paths through the undergrowth, some of which even the experienced Bushmen would have difficulty finding again, Mabruki led them out into a clearing. In the center of the clearing was a circular compound which could only be the Kraal that he spoke of on the walk. Inside the circular wall, there were several buildings.

Mabruki led them through a break in the wall where a rough gate could be pulled across the opening at night. He took them toward one of the buildings near the center of the compound where an ancient looking Maasai sat in a chair in the shade of a thatched awning. Mabruki greeted him and introduced them to Oloiboni Ole Kutata in the same order that they were introduced to him by Rashidi. But, Mabruki did not use the term ‘bwana’ at all, even when introducing Fredryck.

Kutata asked them why they sought him out. “We’re here to take care of the man-eating lions and see if there’s something else to it,” Bartley explained. “I know of the attacks of the man-eaters,” Ole Kutata informed. “The workers call them “devils”, but do not know just how right they are.”

“I am indebted to Patterson for getting his people to help rid us of the devil simbas. My own daughter and one of my grandchildren have been carried off by the devils. I have seen the signs of a great evil about in the land within my visions. Members of other Massai family groups have begun to tell tales of night attacks by simbas.”

“I did not tell Patterson all I knew of the devil simbas. They are more vulnerable to weapons that were imbued with the essence of silver or were magically enchanted,” Kutata confided. “Is there anything else,” Evgenia inquired as she sensed that there was something else he was holding back.

“I believe that the devil simbas have been created by the Three Witches of Shaitani. They are powerful magic wielders that have plagued this part of Africa for generations. It is my belief that the devil simbas were created in a ritual involving a local sacred Baobab tree. The Baobab tree is known as the ‘Tree of Life’.”

“The Baobab has a large bloated trunk, short stubby limbs and shiny bark,” Kutata explained. “They can live very long and this particular tree has been around since before the time of the pyramids to the North. When the branches have no leaves, it looks as if the tree is upside-down with the roots pointing skyward.”

“The legend is that when the world was young the Baobab tree lorded over the lesser growths. The Gods then became angry and uprooted the Baobabs, thrusting them back into the ground upside-down where they continued to grow. The greatest of these trees is said to reach deep into the earth, from where it can draw ancient mystical energies.”

“The ancient Baobabs are guardians of the land. But, Ilorida enjekat have killed many of them for their wood,” Kutata informed. “I am afraid that the Witches may have corrupted one of the few remaining sacred trees. If this is true, the tree must be destroyed before it corrupts the land, plants, animals and peoples of this region.”

“It will be a great loss to my people if this tree is destroyed. But if it has been corrupted, it is only a matter of time before my people are twisted by its influence. If the tree has been corrupted, I believe that the witches are using its essence during the cycle of the dark moon to alter normal simbas into devil simbas.”

He looked deep into the eyes of each of them. “I feel that your essence is not strong enough to defeat the Witches. With the dark moon cycle starting tomorrow night, I fear that your only chance is to strike tonight to destroy the tree before the Witches can create more perversions of nature.”

He told them that if the tree had been corrupted that the bark would have turned deep obsidian and that the bark would radiate a feeling of cold and dread. He told them that he could create magical oil that could be rubbed onto the bark of the tree at the height of night (midnight) and then set alight. He warned them that he would have to sacrifice part of his own essence to create the oil, so he would be too weak to accompany them.

He assured them that his grandson, Mabruki, would be able to accompany them to show them where to find the tree. He offered to perform an Eokoto e-kule, a formal milk-drinking ceremony, to prepare them for what lay ahead, for those who wished it. Out of reverence for the shaman and the Maasai rituals, Bartley and Evgenia immediately agreed to partake in the milk drinking ceremony.

Clockwork 1888 Session 88

Clockwork 1888 Friday, June 14, through Friday, August 16, 1889
“This man’s dead,” Evgenia informed as she checked the charred body on the floor. The statue informed that it could raise the man from the dead if he were brought to and put in touch with the body. Working together with their former opponents, they hefted the statue to the body and touched it to him.

Ancient magic coursed through the remains. Within moments, the man took breath and regained consciousness. The Thugs whispered about the power of Shiva and the statue also healed others who had fallen but not died. With all of them awake, the statue commanded the two to map directions to their leader’s lair.

“What of the brandy drinker,” Bartley inquired as Fredryck and Dracona reentered the room. “He escaped into the sewers,” Fredryck informed. “He was a wererat,” Dracona added.

Evgenia noticed that Fredryck’s arm needed attention, too. The wound was already festering and Fredryck told her that he’d been bitten by the wererat. “You may have contracted something,” Evgenia warned. The statue offered to remove the disease that had infected Fredryck.

Fredryck accepted. It said that Fredryck had to touch the statue to accept the healing. Touching the statue, the festering stopped and they were able to treat the wound normally. They all knew that Fredryck could also have contracted lycanthrope from the bite. But, they’d have to wait to see if that were the case.

Mentally, the statue offered to tell them where the wererat’s lair was. While still in control of the ones that worked for him, he could have them draw a map or give directions to it. The statue said it was for their cooperation in getting it back to India, where it can garner true worshipers who willingly follow Shiva.

“We’ll make sure that information gets to the right people,” Archibald suggested. “Agreed,” Bartley said. “But we need to get the statue out of here and we could use the extra hands if we have to make a shipping crate out of these,” he said indicating the piled up crates. The others helped work on creating a crate for the statue while the directions were being recorded.

Evgenia suggested just keeping the statue there and guarding it until it could be moved. But, with the place being a tourist attraction, Bartley thought that might not be the best idea. And, the wererat might come back for it. If the wererat returned, they’d prefer to be better prepared to deal with were-creatures than they were this evening.

As they worked, Bartley started going through the list of people who had been controlled by the statue. He wanted to make sure that all of them were freed of that control. The statue informed them as it released its influence over the circus man Ernst Molier, the van Zuylen couple, Emma Calve, Baron Meyer, and the lawyer Clunet, the reporter George du Parcq, the glass artist Lalique, the hostess, Sarah, Hardinge and Baron Von Shoen.

Bartley was not aware that the diplomats, Hardinge and Baron Von Shoen, were being controlled. But, the statue explained that it needed a distraction to escape after the show. That explained how the two men got into the tiff that night. Then, the statue promised to control no other people until it returned to India, after it would free the five Frenchmen.

“Was that everybody,” Bartley inquired of his Fellowship comrades. They thought a moment before Evgenia said, “the chocolatier, Gaston Menier.” “He was not controlled,” the statue implied. But, Evgenia could tell that was a lie and confronted the statue. She mentally heard the drop in the statue’s tone as it admitted, “He was my backup plan.”

“Why would you want the chocolatier?” Bartley inquired. “He has the means,” the statue admitted. “Our organization has the means to get you back to India. But, as a token of our intent, we’ll let you keep influence over him, for now. However, when you are put on a ship to India you must release him,” Bartley argued. The statue promised to do so.

“We’ll devise the backup plans for if anything goes awry.” That seemed like a reasonable solution and the statue agreed to release its hold on Menier the instant it was aboard. Then, the statue informed that the museum owner, Guimet, would sooner or later notice his absence. And the museum owner was not under its influence

Archibald suggested replacing the statue with some other relic of India. Evgenia suggested making a copy of the statue. Regardless, Guimet would be compensated in some way, possibly with another artifact from India. The most important order of business was to get out of the catacombs without further incident.

The crate was constructed to house the statue. One of the Frenchmen was sent to summon carriages to the catacomb entrance. The Thugs helped to move the crate outside. They closed the secret doors behind them and concealed the drag marks and footprints so that the tourists visiting the catacombs in the morning wouldn’t notice anything.

As the carriages got out of sight, the statue informed that it released the five Frenchmen. They would essentially wake up, not knowing how they got there. But, they made sure they’d have the means to get a carriage to take them home.

They secured storage for the crate in a reputable establishment. As the crate was unloaded, it contacted Evgenia, again. “Once I am in India, if your organization needs my help, I will help in whatever way I can,” the statue promised. She thanked the statue for its offer and assured that if they needed, they’d contact it.

Finally, as Saturday’s dawn washed over Paris, the carriage pulled up to the Grand Hotel. They stopped at the main desk. Fredryck arranged to send a message to let Adoline know that their business was mostly concluded. Bartley added a note to Fen and that then they could relax at the World’s Fair for a few days. They still had a final meeting on Tuesday morning, to attend, though.

As they made their arrangements at the front desk, they heard a voice. “Monsieur Barisol.” Archibald turned to see La Belle Otero. Excusing himself from the others, he went to speak with her.

“When will you be available? I waited all night for your visit,” Otero informed with a hurt look. Archibald wove a tale of woe, intrigue, missed opportunities and time consuming missteps without telling her anything that had really happened. She seemed to understand but inquired if he still had time to see her. Archibald strung her along, promising to try to carve some time for her out of his busy schedule. Disappointed, but accepting, she went about her own business.

After napping for the morning, they joined Adoline, Fen and Brina at the Clemenceau household for dinner. They planned to spend the next days at the fair and attend their meeting on Tuesday morning. Monday evening, after attending the fair for the day, Archibald decided to see if Otero was available.

Knocking on her hotel door, she answered the door with a broad smile and invited him in without hesitation. Walking back into her suite, Archibald closed the door, followed her and noticed a revolver lying openly on a table in her suite. Archibald made a mental note, wondered if it was eventually meant for him, but didn’t bring it up.

Her conversation made him comfortable and it wasn’t long before her seduction was underway. Archibald recognized her efforts and decided to not resist her charms. After their intimacy, she seemed to open up to him, assuring him that her La Bell Otero persona was an act intended to impress the aristocracy, not deceive him. She was sure that he, being an actor, himself, would understand.

With his assurance of confidence, she continued discussing her past. She was born Agustina Otero Iglesias in Valga, Pontevedra, Spain, and her family was impoverished. As a child she moved to Santiago de Compostela where she worked as a maid and, at 10, she was raped. Archibald understood that such was not at all an unusual fate for pretty servant girls of the time.

Becoming a teen, she changed her name to Caroline Otero. She left home with her boyfriend and dancing partner, Paco, to begin working as a singer/dancer in Lisbon. She said that she really did marry an Italian man, who called himself Count Guglielmo, when she was almost 15. But, they divorced and she ended up in Barcelona as a 19-year-old cafe singer.

In 1888 she attracted a patron, who took her to Marseilles and financed her debut on the French stage. The affair lasted only as long as she needed it to, and lately she was billing herself as La Belle Otero, an Andalusian gypsy dancer who had launched her career on funds she had won in Monte Carlo. She continued about the dance for Guimet being the best luck she’d had in a while.

She hesitated for a moment before discussing the next topic … the gun. She inquired if Archibald had seen it and he told her that he did. As she looked to the distance, she told him that it was hers. She was going to use it to kill herself if she failed as a dancer. As a gentleman would, Archibald told her that she should never use it for to take her own life.

She seemed assured by him and they drifted into slumber together. But, Archibald had the presence of mind to wake in time to make his Tuesday morning meeting. After an impassioned kiss, he left her for his “business dealings.”

The front desk had notes with instructions on the room at the Grand Hotel to meet their contact. They met with Dr. Olivert to report their findings. Dr. Bernard Olivert was a tall and muscular French Canadian with forty seasons behind him. He had black hair, brown eyes and the clean cut appearance of city inhabitants.

He told them that that he was a fur trapper, by trade. But, he attended medical school at the Sorbonne in Paris for four years, earning a medical degree. So, when he needs to, he can pass for a very respectable doctor. He was in Paris at this time to attend a medical conference and give a lecture on setting bones in wilderness settings.

Because of his talent for working with others, he had been given the role of Ambassador in the Fellowship of the White Star. He speaks French, English, Latin, Algonquin, Inuit, Iroquois and Athabasca. Bernard listened to their report, assured them that the Fellowship would handle the statue transport, thanked them, and left with what he needed.

Within the week, they’d received word that the wererat’s location had been checked and found that it had been hastily vacated. The rest of their vacation was without interruption. They returned home to London on Sunday, June 23, after two weeks in Paris. Fen returned with them to London and her father’s apothecary shop. Adoline and Brina stayed in Paris to continue to visit with Adoline’s family.

Within the week, Archibald received a romantic letter from Otero, letting him know that she missed him. But, she was excited about some discussions she was having with the Folies Bergère music hall in Paris. The Yermak butler informed Dracona that she had no visitors, including the usual dark carriage of Mr. Marciano. There was about a month of the usual business.

On Thursday, July 25, a boy came to Yermak Investigations with a meeting request for them from Inspector Norrington. That evening, they gathered at Evgenia’s. Inspector Norrington had arrangements for transport on the White Star Lines to British East Africa for their upcoming safari. He asked them to meet with Cecil Rhodes who would have interesting stories to tell, as always.

Train tickets to port were provided for Sunday, July 28. The White Star ship would leave early in the morning from Liverpool on July 29 and arrive at Mombasa port some time on August 16, 1889. Saloon class accommodations had been booked and the ship would travel via the Suez Canal, rather than around the cape. They had three days to prepare and Priscilla agreed to take care of the businesses, again, while they were gone.

On their voyage they passed France, Gibraltar, Crete and Greece, and reminisced of their adventures there. An entire day was spent navigating the Suez Canal before crossing the Red Sea. The ship approached their final destination in the early morning light of Friday, August 16, 1889. The hills of the mainland were heavily wooded and lush.

The town of Mombasa lay on the east side of an island of the same name, separated from the mainland by a very narrow channel. The town crouched under the watchful gaze of a Portuguese fortress, named Fort Jesus. Although it was built over 300 years ago, there still seemed to be a palpable menace about the structure. Contrary to what many might expect, the land there was fresh and green and the quaint town was bathed in brilliant sunshine. The white walls of the houses seemed like bright beacons amid the dreamily waving palms, lofty coconuts, huge baobabs and spreading mango trees.

The bustling docks on the island maintained the charm of Mombasa. The harbor was plentifully sprinkled with bright Arab dhows (small traditionally constructed sailing vessels). After a long time on the vast sea, it seemed almost unbelievable that men plied the very same waters in those tiny vessels. As the ship slipped its anchor, small boats and dug-outs swarmed around the ship.

After a brief argument between some rival Swahili boatmen, they were rapidly rowed to the foot of the landing steps with their luggage. Exiting into Mombasa, the noise and bustle of the port of entry washed over them. Gazing around the docks, they noticed a young black man, probably 16 years old, in a uniform holding a sign that said, “Rhodes.”

He was obviously a local of medium build with dark skin and dark eyes. His uniform, while neatly kept, had seen regular use and was starting to show wear. Unlike many of the dock workers, he was wearing shoes, which despite the pervasive dust he had shined to a mirror like surface.

“Looks like Mr. Rhodes is showing up, today, too,” Bartley mentioned. “Actually,” Evgenia responded, “I think that’s for us. We’re supposed to meet with Mr. Rhodes and I think he was sent to fetch us from the ship.” “That’s possible, too,” Bartley conceded.

Approaching the man, they inquired if he was waiting for Mr. Rhodes or waiting for people who are to meet with Mr. Rhodes. “Jambo,” the man heartily said. Noticing the confused look on some of them, he interpreted. “That means ‘hello’ in Swahili. Bwana Rhodes says you need show me symbol,” the man insisted.

Showing him their Fellowship pins, he warmly welcomed them with the proper handshake and introduced himself as Rashidi Suda. Rashidi seemed to notice that Fredryck was of a higher social status and addressed him as “bwana.” They noticed that Rashidi avoided looking directly at any women in the group and he answered any questions they had in the shortest manner possible.

Rashidi seemed to be a bit shy toward them and he didn’t engage in any idle conversation with them. He inquired if all were present. With that confirmed, Rashidi whispered something to a native boy who ran off into the crowd. Rashidi then secured native men to carry the luggage as he escorted them along the jetty toward the center of town.

They arrived at the town center and went into the decidedly British looking building. Rashidi showed them into a small private room and explained that arrangements have been made for their travels during their stay in Africa. They were in a sitting area with several chairs and cushioned benches for them to relax in.

The native men had run ahead with the luggage and it was currently stored in the room with them. Rashidi also introduced two local stewards that stood by the door to the room. Rashidi made it clear that the stewards were not members of the group and that care should be taken to not be open around them.

Rashidi explained that he had procured necessary supplies, in case they had to leave their transportation for an extended period of time. That equipment would be stored in places accessible for them. The equipment included general camp items such as tents, cooking pots, blankets, tinned food, lanterns and fuel oil.

They noticed that no firearms or ammunition were provided. Fortunately, they each had brought their own. He pointed out that it would be possible to procure porters from among the locals to help transport the equipment needed for camp. Rashidi saw to it that the stewards got drinks and small sandwiches for them.

Archibald, Evgenia and Bartley noticed that Rashidi was checking out the windows every few minutes. They presumed he was watching for Mr. Rhodes. Then a big smile washed over Rashidi’s face. He quickly moved to the door and opened it.

Two men entered the room. Rashidi sent the stewards outside, closed the door to the room and introduced “Bwana” Rhodes. Rhodes was in his mid thirties, average height, blue eyes with a mustache and typical British garb. He introduced himself as a businessman in mining and a member of the South African Cape Colony Parliament. He greeted each of them with the correct handshake.

“Glad you could all make it on such short notice,” Rhodes said. “I’m normally in South Africa but I was talking with Sir William Mackinnon about Britain giving a commercial company, Mackinnon’s Imperial British East Africa Company, the right to administer and develop the territory. That would be useful to me in South Africa, too.”

“But, I was here discussing potential railroad efforts when things started coming out about what was happening around Tsavo. I don’t have long to spend with you but it looks like there might be at least a couple of man-eating lions about. There have been several attacks on villagers and employees up around the Tsavo area. Mackinnon would like to keep any kind of trouble with the ‘wildlife’ out of the news because he hopes to make East Africa a haven for the aristocracy.”

“You brought us here to hunt lions?” Bartley inquired in unrestrained disbelief. Rhodes raised an eyebrow before he continued. “You’re Fellowship hunters, aren’t you?” he answered before continuing. “But, I’ve received information that this may only be the tip of the iceberg. One of the askaris, essentially a camp boss, confided that the shaman of his tribe believes that the man-eaters may have been summoned by witches in a dark ceremony.”

“I don’t know if what he says is true or not. I’ve heard of what horror these creatures can wrought and we cannot risk the possibility that this story might get out. Only a handful of these creatures could depopulate this section of Africa through fear and death in less than a year!”

“You see, the predominant prey of the lion is the Cape buffalo, one of the largest, strongest, meanest creatures on Earth. The Cape buffalo grows up to 1,800 pounds and is armed with curved horns like sharpened spears. These man-eaters are tougher and smarter.”

“Your caravan is being readied to go to Tsavo. I need you to travel into the Tsavo area and meet with the askari,” he paused a moment and asked the man who came in with him. “What’s his name?” “Mabruki,” the man answered. “Mabruki,” Rhodes continued, “who has agreed to guide you to his village to meet with this shaman.”

“The local police superintendent, Charlie Ryall, with two others has gone ahead to get the lay of the land. So, it might also be a good idea to check in with Ryall. He should be either in Voi or Tsavo. We’re not sure where they are at this time because the telegraph lines went down last night.”

“We have determined that the telegraph line has been cut somewhere between Voi and Tsavo. Tsavo is about 132 miles from the coast and, with water stops, you should reach there in two to three days. Voi is a larger town along the way, between Mombasa and Tsavo, about 100 miles from the coast. Voi serves as a trading post and, as such, is more developed. It has a large school, hospital, hotel and some restaurants.”

“Rashidi will be your guide as far as Tsavo where you will meet Mabruki. Corporal John Henry Patterson,” he indicated the man that came in with him, “is in charge of the caravan that is taking you and your gear from Mombasa to Tsavo. Now, I’ll leave you in their capable hands.”

Corporal Patterson was taller, in his early twenties, of medium build with brown hair and a mustache. He was dressed for the bush in khaki colored long pants, which were tucked into high lace up boots. He was wearing a khaki button up shirt and khaki tie under a bushman’s khaki jacket. He had a mustache and was wearing a pith helmet.

Clockwork 1888 Session 87

Clockwork 1888 Friday, June 14, 1889
Preparing for their entry, Dracona cast a magical shield upon herself. Fredryck cast magic weapon upon his sword and Archibald inspired them before going through the doors. Archibald burst through the stone doors, first, moving 30 feet into the room. “All right, where’s the statue that we’re here to pick up?” Archibald exclaimed in French, bluffing that they were the expected recipients of the statue.

The room was 75 feet long by 50 feet wide with its 12 foot high ceiling being natural and having crevasses that made for natural ventilation of the smoke in the room coming from the cooking fire. There were cots and a few footlockers on the north end of the room with two French men asleep in two of the cots. A table and chairs with a small fire and a barrel was in the northwest corner. A dozen torches in sconces lit the room.

A crypt occupied the northeast corner. The southwest corner had a well and a Frenchman sat near that. Another Frenchman stood there with a tray as the seated man sipped brandy. The southeast corner had stacks of crates, which appeared to be of considerable weight, reaching near to the ceiling.

An alcove on the west wall had metal rungs that led up from what was most probably the sewer. The statue was on the floor near the east wall, just opposite the metal rung alcove. Two Frenchmen stood next to the statue, one to each side.

Three dark complexion barefoot men knelt before the statue. They were in turbans, loose pants and a robe-like garment over that. Each had a large curved sword. Thuggee, or Thugs, from India.

Dracona moved up to Archibald’s right. The others moved in, readying weapons if there was resistance to their request. Bartley went to the right of Dracona, Fredryck next to the French brandy waiter, and Evgenia to the left of Archibald, behind Fredryck.

Something assaulted Evgenia’s mind, tried to influence her actions. But, she resisted its influence. “I’ve been mentally attacked,” she called out. Bartley was watching but he could not see that anybody had cast a spell.

Archibald inspired his allies as Dracona moved and blew fire upon the waiter and the brandy drinker. The brandy drinker evaded the blast but seemed quite upset at the intrusion as he got up from his chair and complained in French about interrupting his drink. Still, he blew out his drink and took another sip. The French waiter was not so lucky as he caught fire.

Bartley’s armadillo, Tumbleweed, leapt to ground and scurried behind crates while Bartley moved up to the center of the room and cast a spell to detect magic. There were magical auras in the room. Fredryck stepped forward and struck the brandy drinker, hard. The brandy drinker seemed surprised at the impact of Fredryck’s blow.

The three Thugs got up off their knees. Two of the Thugs moved behind the crates, drawing blowguns as they went, while the third stayed to protect the statue. Evgenia decided to fight fire with fire and tried to charm the Thug that remained by the statue. But, the Thug resisted her mental control.

Near the statue, the two Frenchmen moved toward the crate cover and fired their pistols. One stayed at the entrance to the crate wall to stop unwanted incursions. The two sleeping Frenchmen woke up and the burning French waiter put himself out.

Bartley understood why he couldn’t see spells being cast when five magical missiles flew from the statue, around Archibald, and hit Dracona and Fredryck. “The statue,” he said aloud as it apparently didn’t need verbal, somatic or material components to cast spells. Archibald moved up to the lone Thug near the statue and struck him with his sword cane.

Dracona blasted the pair with the brandy, again, and the French waiter succumbed to the fire. But, again, the brandy drinker avoided harm from her fiery breath. Then, he dropped his brandy glass and quickly withdrew from them, exiting down the wire rung ladder into the sewers below.

Tumbleweed dug into the ground behind the crates to conceal itself from the opponents who had arrived there. Bartley moved toward the statue and threw his coat over the three foot tall statue, figuring that most spells required the caster to see their target. Fredryck dashed after the Frenchman that fled down into the sewers. With a heroic effort, he easily bull rushed the Frenchman across the wooden planks spanning the sewer and into the alcove across the way.

The two Thugs behind the crates blew poisoned darts at Evgenia and Bartley while the one by the statue drew his large curved sword and struck Archibald. Evgenia moved up to the crates, drew her pistol and shot one of the Thugs hiding behind.

The Frenchman at the crate opening moved up to the statue and removed Bartley’s coat from it. The two that had been sleeping were awake and shot at Archibald. The Frenchman behind the crates took a shot at Evgenia.

Bartley could tell that the statue had cast something because the magical emanations flared for a moment when it happened. But there were no missile attacks this time and he couldn’t tell what exactly was cast because of the lack of indicators. Archibald said something in French to the Thug, who understood nothing, so he struck the Thug with his sword cane.

“I’m going to help Fredryck,” Dracona informed as she followed Fredryck down into the sewer, after the escaping Frenchman. Dracona blasted the alcove with fire, setting one of the creatures on fire and harming the other. But the Frenchman in the sewer alcove smiled as he avoided her blast, changed into a half-rat, half-man, beast and clawed Fredryck. Then, he bit Fredryck’s arm and a sharp pain ran through Fredryck’s arm and up his side as the vile creature’s saliva mixed with his blood.

In the dim light coming from the room above, Fredryck could see that there were two creatures in the alcove behind the Frenchman. They were four-legged creatures with long antennae. The laughing noise from the rat-man confirmed that the two creatures were probably not a good thing.

Bartley shot the Frenchman by the statue who had removed the coat, mostly for thwarting his plan. The Frenchman went down and Bartley tossed the coat over the statue, again. Fredryck struck the rat-man and stepped aside to let Dracona into the alcove opening.

The Thugs behind the crate blew darts at Evgenia and Bartley, again. The Thug by the statue continued the sword fight with Archibald. Evgenia continued to shoot the Thug behind the crate and the Frenchmen continued to shoot at her, Bartley and Archibald.

Bartley’s coat was flung from the statue by an unseen force and landed atop the nearby crates. Archibald stepped to the statue and pulled it forward to the ground on its face. Dracona shot a magic missile at the rat-man and moved into the alcove opening. The rat-man struck at her but missed.

Bartley decided to start shooting and shot the Thug in combat with Archibald. Fredryck struck the rat-man and the Thugs continued their blowgun and falchion assaults on Evgenia, Bartley and Archibald. Evgenia shot the Thug, again, and the Frenchmen continued shooting. One of the creatures in the alcove swung its antennae at Dracona but missed. It seemed to be going after the metallic flask in her hand.

Evgenia heard a voice in her mind. “A play hahm lay rook! Ruko! Roknuhos! Voysaw! Goo-ro nang!” She could tell that it was probably Hindi, or some other language from around India, but she didn’t know what it meant. Then, suddenly it came through in French, “arrêter votre assaut!” “Stop your assault,” she called out. “Somebody is telepathically telling me to stop the fighting,” she announced.

Archibald paused, ready to strike if the Thug struck at him. Dracona, in the sewer, was out of earshot and filled the alcove with fire, again. The rat-man continued to attack but missed. Bartley, in the room above, readied his weapon, too, just in case.

Fredryck continued to attack the rat-man, calling out that there were two creatures there, as well. The Thugs, as if telepathically commanded, obediently put down their weapons. “Call off your sewer minions,” Evgenia demanded aloud as the Frenchmen in the room also obediently laid down their weapons.

“I cannot command them. They serve another,” the statue mentally informed. “Not with these,” Evgenia called out to Dracona and Fredryck. “Who are you and what do you want,” Evgenia said as she returned her attention to the statue.

“I was a dedicated priest of Shiva,” the statue continued. “I died in the service of Shiva and was rewarded upon death by having my soul put into the statue,” the voice informed her. “I was active for many years until a rival priest of Vishnu decided that I gave too much power to Shiva. That priest gave his life in a ritual to make the statue inert.”

“Why are you here, now?” Evgenia inquired. “I could only be reawakened with a special ritualistic dance, known only to Shiva the Destroyer’s other side, Shiva the Dancer. I awoke in the Guimet museum as the dancer was completing her performance. Her dance must have been close enough to the ritual dance to awaken me.”

“I did not wish to harm others but I must return to my home in India,” the statue informed. “You’ve controlled people, forced them to your will,” Evgenia argued. “I’ve only commanded those that I thought could help me to return to my home,” the statue answered. “I did not want harm to come to them,” it answered. “I will release them if you will help me.”

Meanwhile, the rat-man transformed, once again, this time into a rat. Then, being tiny, he scurried from the alcove and jumped into the sewer water. Dracona and Fredryck took swings at the fleeing rat, but both missed it.

However, the remaining two creatures in the alcove seemed intent on getting their antennae on what metal they could from Dracona and Fredryck. Try as they did, Dracona’s magical protections kept the beasts from attaining their heart’s desire. Thus, the beasts were destroyed without ever sating their metallic desire.

“Do you know what those were,” Dracona inquired. “Well, I did notice the caustic substance on their antennae and figured it not good,” Fredryck answered. “Rust monsters,” Dracona educated.

“Well, my breastplate would be fine because it’s aluminum,” Fredryck answered. “No. They’ll devour any metal you have if they can get at it with their antennae,” Dracona informed, “gold, iron, silver, aluminum, steel … any metal.” “Then it’s good they didn’t hit us, isn’t it?” Fredryck mentioned as they returned up the metal rungs to the others.

Clockwork 1888 Session 86

Clockwork 1888 Friday, June 14, 1889
Fredryck whispered, “Put that away,” to Bartley. “If the Gendarmes find out that you used a sword, they’ll most likely confiscate it until you leave the country,” he informed. Bartley quickly put the sword back into the cane sheath. But with the confrontation at an end, the murmurs from the crowd had already started.

Evgenia decided to start patching the stab wounds. The German ambassador barely had a nick in his arm and the hole in his uniform could be made nearly invisible by a good seamstress. Fredryck on the other hand had taken a more serious swat from the now apologetic English diplomat.

Archibald, Bartley, and Dracona gathered around as Evgenia patched up Fredryck. Evgenia whispered about what she had observed before the altercation. Bartley was taking a head count and noticed that some of the guests were not present. Then, the chocolatier, Gaston Menier, returned to the audience area via doors to the backstage area.

They whispered to each other about what business the chocolate magnate would have backstage. As Evgenia finished patching up Fredryck, the front door of the greenhouse opened. The one known as Bete Enclairage came back into the party area, closing the door behind him.

Gaston was one that Bartley had detected a magical aura on. This peaked Bartley’s interest in what business, exactly, the chocolatier had backstage. They considered approaching the chocolatier to discuss his backstage business. But, the Gendarmes had arrived and he had some explaining to do.

About 10 minutes after the pistol waving started, twelve Gendarmes led by a Lieutenant arrived in a prisoner carriage. They decided to detain everyone comfortably in the greenhouse until they could figure out what happened. Gendarmes were better trained for certain diplomatic tasks so the Gendarmerie were summoned rather than the civilian police because the incident reported involved ambassadors and occurred at Sarah Bernhardt’s home. It was thought that the Gendarmerie would be more skilled at handling the situation tactfully.

The Gendarmes immediately confiscated the weapons used during the fight, including the two pistols, the two sabers and Bartley’s sword cane. The Lieutenant first went to the home owner, Sarah Bernhardt. She first described her version of exactly what she had seen occur. Then, in a quieter conversation with the Lieutenant, they could tell that she was informing the Lieutenant that she did not invite certain people in the audience that were also involved in the altercation.

The Lieutenant next spoke with Charles Hardinge, Baron Von Schoen and La Belle Otero, the three who were involved when the confrontation began. The Lieutenant was confused by the fact that the two diplomats were admittedly and known to be good friends. To compound it, even the two assailants didn’t seem to know what came over them.

The English diplomat claimed that a verbal offense to the dancer set him off, quite uncharacteristically. But, he could not recall, even remotely, what was said to offend. The dancer confirmed the German ambassador’s view that he had said nothing offensive. But the German admitted to being unexpectedly quick to anger at the suggested offense. Both diplomats were now amicable to each other and neither wished to press charges or carry the event any farther.

The other Gendarmes had gotten reports from other guests, less involved in the incident. There were conflicting reports as to whether Bartley had used the cane, or the sword concealed within, to disarm the English diplomat. But, it was clear that it was only the English diplomat that had, in the end, done the only physical damage.

Finally they came to Fredryck, Bartley, Archibald, Evgenia and Dracona. The Gendarmes were aloofly appreciative that they kept the diplomats from killing each other. They commended Fredryck on wisely not using his rifle or sword. But, they warned all of them that it was a police affair and that they should not have become involved.

Lastly, they came to the issue that Sarah Bernhardt had with their presence. “Madame Bernhardt says that she doesn’t know you nor how you were invited to this event,” the Lieutenant informed. “How did you procure your invitations?” Before they could speak he said, “You are the fiance of Monsieur Clemenceau’s daughter,” he indicated Fredryck.

“Yes,” Fredryck said in harmony with Archibald as Archibald began, “we’re friends of Monsieur Clemenceau’s daughter and her fiance.” Fredryck let Archibald continue. “We’ve been visiting, staying at their home, and your gracious statesman’s daughter procured our invitations. She felt it would be rude to attend without inviting their guests to join her and her father. A consummate gentleman, the statesman is, wouldn’t you say?”

Apparently, that was good enough for the Lieutenant. “Could I get my cane back?” Bartley politely asked. The Lieutenant looked at him. “Do you have an infirmity that you need a cane?” the Lieutenant inquired.

“Yes,” Archibald agreed. “When his gout flares up he can’t walk without it. We’d so be obliged if he could have it back. Exertion like this tends to cause it to flare up.” Bartley leaned on one leg and winced. “It does,” he agreed.

The Lieutenant looked at him. “Well,” he said, “there are conflicting reports as to whether you had used the cane or the sword to disarm the English diplomat. It’s possible what some thought was the sword was the metal tip of the cane. You’ll keep the pointy part inside, I trust?”

“My word as a gentleman,” Bartley answered, wincing again as he leaned on his foot. “I’ll make sure of it,” Archibald promised on Bartley’s behalf. The Lieutenant reluctantly yielded and returned to Bartley his sword cane. “I’ll report that it was the cane,” he informed, “and that the cane was returned to the ‘old’ American because he needed it for walking.”

The Gendarmes finally finished their duties and left. Bartley had decided to sneak backstage and see what he could determine there. As he left through the front door to head to the outside backstage doors, he spotted Tumbleweed, his armadillo familiar. Inside, Evgenia and Archibald noticed that Bete Enclairage left shortly after Bartley. Pausing to not draw suspicions, they soon followed Bete. Fredryck stayed behind to cover for them.

Outside, Bete approached as Bartley picked up his armadillo. “Pardon me, Monsieur,” Bete said as he approached. “You work with Monsieur Stanley,” he stated rather than inquired. “Sir Stanley,” Bartley corrected. “Of course,” Bete accepted before he continued.

Evgenia, Dracona and Archibald joined them. “I know who you work for,” Bete said addressing them all. “I was a member of Illumines before it fell to evil.” Evgenia searched her memories of obscure information. She’d heard of the Illumines. “A small group of us still exist,” Bete continued, “but we are so few and so far strung that we are ineffective at this point. I would like to help you though.”

“After the dance, I took a smoke to the side of the stage and overheard Gaston Menier talking to a couple of stage hands, directing them to move the statue of Shiva to the location on a map he handed them. He spoke in an odd manner as though distracted and the workers responded in a like manner. When he left, I followed the workers and quietly stole the map from the pocket of one of them. Here it is.”

Bete handed them the folded paper. The map showed a route from a remote sewer grate entrance about four miles from the Bernhardt mansion. The map showed the route through the sewers from that entrance via a series of twisting and winding tunnels. That entrance had nothing near it that was noteworthy. The map was just a long route through the tunnels with lots of turns and ending with an “x” to mark the end place.

“I know you may not trust me after what some of our number did a few years ago. I know I likely wouldn’t. To prove to you my honesty, I offer you my life, to take if you so deem.” He held a silver knife out to them and looked to the night sky, baring his throat.

Evgenia had been paying attention to the man as he spoke. She could tell that Bete was not deceiving them and she nodded to Bartley to indicate so. “Thank you, no. That won’t be necessary. We have no reason,” Bartley answered pushing Bete’s hand back.

“I appreciate that,” Bete answered as he returned his face to them. “But, know that I cannot accompany you. I was not part of the betrayal that that cabal committed. I was hunted for a while by evil cabal members but I’ve managed to relocate to Paris and started to reform the good side of the Illuminus cabal. It is much more important for me to continue to try to reclaim the Illumines’ former prominence. ”

He thought a moment more. “However, I have heard that Slayrit minions have been active in Paris recently. Slayrit is a wererat prince and it was he that worked with the turned Illumines members in coordinating strikes against good.” “Oh, I hate rats,” Bartley whispered.

So, Bete left them and returned to the greenhouse to say his adieus and thank the hostess. “We need to make a stop at the hotel,” Bartley insisted. The others agreed. If there was a chance they’d run into were-creatures, they wanted their silvered weapons and ammunition with them. But, they had to get their dates home, first.

When they returned to the greenhouse, the other guests were making their formal adieus and leaving for the evening. The English and German diplomats approached her together, both profusely apologetic for the disturbance they’d caused and gracious for Sarah not having them hauled away by the Gendarmes. Ever the gracious hostess, she thanked them for the added excitement they brought to the evening.

Fredryck agreed that the safety of Adoline, Brina and Fen was a priority. So, they planned how to best get people to where they needed to be – Adoline, Brina and Fen back to the Clemenceau household and them to the Grand hotel – in the least time. Adoline suggested they return home with her father, the statesman Clemenceau.

Suddenly, a man burst through the greenhouse door with a servant quickly behind him. It was Jacques Damala, as he was known on the stage, Sarah’s 34 year old husband. “You been lax in your duty to your husband,” the man slurred in French as he pointed at the hostess, Sarah. “Where’s the money you owe me? I didn’t get any last week.”

“Pardon,” the servant said apologetically in French, “he would not take ‘no’ for an answer and he refused to wait.” “You can go,” Sarah excused the servant in French as she apparently mentally chastised herself for forgetting it. Archibald had heard rumors that Jacques was a morphine addict. He’d heard that Jacques lived in a hotel on the outskirts of Paris and that Sarah actually paid him to leave her alone.

After helping to diffuse one situation that night, Archibald felt bold. “Excuse me,” Archibald said as he approached the hostess’s estranged husband. “I believe that I can help you with this,” he feigned taking the husband’s side as he put an arm around Jacques. Evgenia joined Archibald in attempting to persuade the inebriated man to leave for the moment.

“We’ll make sure you have your money before you leave,” Evgenia joined in. “She didn’t pay me,” Jacques slurred. “I know,” Archibald whispered, “let’s discuss this privately.” Archibald and Evgenia convinced Jacques to go outside with them.

That allowed Sarah to finish seeing off her guests before dealing with her inebriated husband. Leaving the dancer and getting money from her home, Sarah paid the disgruntled actor and the carriage man that brought him, to take him back to his hotel. With the estranged husband gone, Otero sought out Archibald’s arm, again.

Making it obvious to him but hidden from others, she placed a small paper in his coat pocket. “My room number, if I can see you,” she seductively whispered in his ear. “I’d love to see you, again, before my next performance,” she added before returning to the others.

As Sarah returned, she commented on not knowing how she forgot to pay her estranged husband and that it must have been just preparing for the evening’s party. She made sure to get Archibald’s name and promised to pay his theater a visit the next time she was in London. Perhaps they could even collaborate on something. But, she’d recently committed to playing Cleopatra for Victorien Sardou so that would take most of her time in the near future.

The last guests to leave other than the dancer and museum owners, they made their way to the Grand hotel. On the way, they examined the map. They decided that rather than track through the sewer system at night, they could probably enter the sewers closer to the final destination.

“Place D’Enfer,” Evgenia announced with a look of knowing as they determined the above ground location. Bartley didn’t know what it meant, though. “Hell’s Gate,” Archibald translated. “More correctly, Place of Hell,” Evgenia corrected. “It’s an entrance to the Paris catacombs.”

Summoning a carriage, they informed the driver of their destination. He made sure he heard them correctly before taking them to that area of Paris. They passed through the tollgates, which haven’t functioned as tollgates for generations, from the Farmer’s General Wall of 1784. Above the gates was inscribed “Arrete! C’est ici L’Empire de la Mort” or “This is the Empire of Death”. They were near the catacombs of Paris, which opened in 1768, and was formed using part of the Carrieres deParis or the quarries of Paris.

At some point the catacombs connected to abandoned mines. The catacombs were used as an ossuary (underground burial chambers). It became a popular tourist attraction and was open to the public by 1867. Their driver took them to the train station. There they said that they wanted to go to the catacomb entrance. The driver hesitated.

“Do you know where it is?” Archibald inquired. “I know where it is. It is near to here,” the driver told them. The man seemed afraid to take them there. “Can you take us there?” Archibald pushed.

“10 francs,” the driver informed. “I can take you to the catacomb entrance for another 10 francs.” They could tell that fear was the motivation for the driver’s price of so they agreed. Arriving at the catacomb entrance, there was no amount of money they could offer to make him wait for them.

As the carriage left, Fredryck started looking around. There was an obvious trail of two men carrying a very heavy burden, maybe 400 pounds, of some sort. They followed that trail into and through the catacombs. As they made their way, it was Bartley’s armadillo that noticed a thin string across the passageway.

They surmised it was attached to some kind of warning bell. Carefully, Bartley disabled the device and they continued to the end of the passage. About 20 feet after the line, they reached a dead end at a blank wall. The tracks led all the way up to the blank wall.

Searching, Evgenia found the blank stone wall to be a secret set of double doors. Fredryck, Dracona and Archibald stood back as Bartley and Evgenia quietly tried to determine how to unlock the doors from their side. Evgenia thought she almost had it so Bartley inserted one of his tools where she was working and quietly tripped the lock.

Clockwork 1888 Session 85

Clockwork 1888 Monday, April 22, through Friday, June 14, 1889
Julia Vautrain and Lerwick Shrewsbury met them in New York. The Fellowship had informed them of the team’s pending departure and Julia wanted to spend a little time with her step-father/uncle before he returned to England. They had a few days before their ship, left on April 25. They went over to Manhattan and then Staten Island to see the sights there.

As they walked around, they saw a young woman taking photographs. They asked if she could photograph them. The young woman introduced herself as Alice Austen as she set up her tripod and camera equipment. With them placed as directed, she proceeded to take the photograph. She’d send them prints when she developed it.

They asked what she was photographing. Austen said that her subject was daily life of the people of New York. She documented upper middle-class society on Staten Island and lower-class people living in New York’s Lower East Side. Archibald appreciated the artistic aspect and others the historical value of her work.

They returned to the United Kingdom in saloon class of the SS Celtic, another ship in the White Star line. Archibald spent a lot of the sea journey writing his next theatrical production. Although there was some concern from his shipmates, he was out and about enough to belay their concerns. He really was working on his next production for the theater and wasn’t just under the spell of some fairy creature. The others used the week-long trip to relax after an eventful visit across the pond.

The Celtic arrived at Liverpool on Friday, May 3. Of course, Priscilla was waiting there with Adoline, Brina Adalbjorg, and Fen Chin. As they disembarked, Fredryck heard his name excitedly called out. Nobody was ever more excited to see Fredryck than Adoline. She ran up to Fredryck as he cleared the gangway and threw her arms around him.

Not concerned with formalities, Adoline planted a long kiss upon his lips before whispering how much she missed him. Fen, on the other hand, waited patiently for Bartley to walk from the gangplank to their location before shyly, formally greeting him and the others. To respect her father and herself, she dared not act the unruly schoolgirl like Adoline. But Fen smiled broadly when Bartley gave her the sketch of himself from the Britannic.

Taking carriages to the train station, they made their way to London via train. They chatted about their travels to America until they arrived in London. Resolving to get together soon, Archibald, Evgenia, Dracona and Priscilla boarded the carriage and left with James Stalwart, the Yermak family butler, who met them at the train station.

Fredryck got in the Benz Patent Motowagen with Adoline and Brina, insisting he drive after having not being able to for over three months. Adoline insisted on sitting next to Fredryck. Zhang was at the train station with a carriage to pick up Fen and take Bartley to his residence.

Arriving home, Evgenia found that Priscilla had been able to maintain the appearance that Yermak Investigations was still open for business. As she’d learned in telegrams, the French detective, Remy Louisel, had come in for about 6 weeks to help handle the building case load. They cases were the usual suspecting wife or girlfriend wanting their husband or prospective husband watched and reported on.

Archibald’s theater had made a good run of the last production schedule and was ready for his latest guidance on what shows they would produce next. The play he’d written on his journey still needed some polish but might be ready for the next season. Otherwise, things were in order and the staff had performed well in his absence.

Dracona returned to find her typical public performance spot taken by a young boy that played the harp. The instrument was as tall as the boy but he played with definitive talent. The mime, a block up the road, had apparently joined her routine with a man that performed illusions. She acted as his mute assistant. As Dracona watched the performance, it did have some tricks with fire.

The boy playing the harp seemed to have a natural talent for the instrument. So, Dracona approached him about a possible deal. They could work together, share the spot and time and split the income. “Well, you know that the music can make or break a show,” the young entrepreneur informed.

“I have a fire breathing act,” she informed. “I’ll have to split what I get with you,” he confirmed. “I’ll tell you what,” Dracona said. “I’ll take 20% of the income.” She could tell that the young entrepreneur was surprised by her offer. But, he tried to hide it as he seemed to think.

“Well, the magician down there seems to get a good reaction from the crowd with the little fire things he does.” He seemed to think more. “All right, but if we start drawing more I’ll probably have to increase your share. That would only be fair,” he concluded. “And you only get paid when you perform,” he added.

“And, one more thing,” the boy said. “I have to tell people about the harp shop on High Street.” “Do you have a name,” she inquired. “Ovila,” he stated. “Dracona,” she introduced. “Do you have a surname?” she inquired. He thought a moment. “Do you?” “Good enough,” she smiled as they shook hands on their deal.

Fredryck had plenty to report to his superior, the Duke of Cambridge. By the time he reported in, the Duke had received word that Deputy Sheriff-Coroner Fabian Williams had been recruited into the Fellowship. As Fredryck had been on “official” business in America, he was due for some time off. But, with Fredryck knowing how anxious Adoline was to attend the World Fair in Paris, he opted to take his leave when she’d be on holiday from Oxford. The Duke agreed and Fredryck returned to his usual Grenadier Guard duties.

Oxford’s summer holiday began on May 31 and Adoline was free from her studies. After seeing the Eiffel Tower under construction, she was anxious to go to the World Fair to see the completed structure. They planned their trip to France and Fredryck’s leave. Adoline’s mother invited them all to stay at the Clemenceau residence while they were in France.

With everything back under normal operations, Evgenia and Archibald decided that they could take a couple weeks off, too. Dracona had decided to move her street performance and it proved painless. So, if somebody took her latest spot while she was gone for two weeks, she’d have no problem moving, again.

Bartley inquired about Zhang and Fen going, too. Zhang insisted that somebody had to stay to take care of the shop. But, he allowed Bartley to take Fen. He would go later, when Fen would take care of the shop.

They arrived on June 8 and got settled in. Adoline’s mother spent time catching up with Adoline and the other women. Adoline’s father, the French statesman George Clemenceau, encouraged the men to visit a cabaret with him. After an adequate amount of formal chit chat with their hosting family, they went to the fair for their first day on Monday, June 10.

They spent the entire first day at the Eiffel Tower. The Clemenceau political pull allowed them to visit Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in his tower top suite. They were surprised to see the Prince of Wales and five members of his family there at the same time. At noon they visited the Figaro Printing House on level 2 where they each signed the register. They took their meals in the first floor restaurants.

The Central Dome was like a huge cathedral with fantastic paintings and architecture throughout. The History of Habitation display featured sample homes from a multitude of cultures including Romanesque, medieval, and Renaissance periods. Countries from all over the world had streets devoted to them.

Various villages and streets represented numerous countries from around the world. This included Argentina, an African village, a Canadian Indian village and a Javanese village, to name only a few. The African village alone used about 400 people. Of special interest were the regional costumes of the indigenous peoples who were brought in to participate in the cultural exhibits. And, native dancing was part of the cultural exhibits, too.

A central attraction in the French section was the Imperial Diamond, the largest brilliant in the world. But, especially popular was Cairo Street. Adoline spent some time on Cairo Street watching the scandalous “la danse du ventre” (belly dancing) by the “almees” and listening to the music which, to some, sounded more like noise. That evening, she whispered to Fredryck as they parted ways for the evening, “Once we’re wed, I’ll do “la danse du ventre” privately for you.”

Conspicuously absent were the English and Germans. They surmised that because England and Germany still had monarchs, and the 1889 exposition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French revolution, those two chose not to participate. Perhaps it was because England and Germany didn’t see the wisdom in celebrating the decapitation of royalty.

In the expansive Gallery of Machines, they each took home a wax drum recording from Thomas Edison’s booth. They also saw the practical electric lights and took turns turning the hand crank to view the moving pictures through the eyepiece at “The Wizard of Menlo Park” area. And they made sure to travel above all the machinery on the electric powered moving platform around the perimeter.

Bartley insisted on seeing Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show with Annie Oakley. He also marveled that only the Canadians had an American Indian display. Archibald wouldn’t miss Jules Massenet’s comic opera, Esclarmonde, and the art displays. Adoline noticed the work of Berthe Morisot, the woman impressionist, which was shown at the Fair. There seemed to be a fascination with ‘l’art du nu’ (the art of the nude or ‘naked art’), too, although the French found it less appalling than most.

It was Thursday when they returned from the fair and a sealed envelope was waiting for them at the Clemenceau household. The Clemenceau butler said that it was delivered by a woman who identified herself as Remy Louisel. Archibald, Bartley, Dracona, Evgenia, and Fredryck excused themselves from the company of the others to examine the contents.

Opening the envelope, Fredryck peered at the letter. “Read this for us, Dracona,” he said holding it out to her. “Oh, wait, you can’t,” he chastised. “That’s why you should go to school.” Evgenia snatched the letter from him and scowled at his chastising Dracona.

“Enclosed is an invitation to a private dance performance at famed actress Sarah Bernhardt’s home at 6 pm on Friday, June 14, 1889,” the she read the enclosed letter. “The performer is a relatively unknown novice, Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otero. That is her stage name.”

“Her real name appears to be Agustina Otero Iglesias,” she continued. “She is performing some sort of eastern spiritualist dancing. We are suspect of this woman’s activities as some of the people that have attended her past performances have started to act strangely in their public affairs afterwards.”

“Look into the matter to see if she is doing something supernatural to her audiences and report back to me at the Grand hotel in downtown Paris on Tuesday, June 18. I have booked you rooms at that same hotel for the entire week.” It was signed, “Dr. Bernard Olivert.”

After discussing it, they decided to take Adoline, Brina and Fen to the event. According to Archibald, it wouldn’t be fair to deny them meeting Sarah Bernhardt, “the most famous actress the world has ever known.” When they told Adoline, her father chimed in that he was going to that event, too. So, on Friday they checked into the Grand hotel in Paris and got ready for the formal party at Sarah Bernhardt’s.

When they arrived, they were shown into the enormous greenhouse area out back. There were about 30 guests milling about talking and drinking champagne with more arriving. They had a good hour to talk to the other guests. All of the guests were in formal wear with some, like Fredryck, wearing military uniforms with sabers and side arms.

With their knowledge of various topics and a little listening, they were able to come up with a list of the guests. There was the young literary critic, Rene Boylesve, who was soon to finish law school. The reporter George du Parcq was there as well as Baron Arthur Meyer, a journalist who ran a daily paper and a French monarchist.

Emile Guimet and his wife, Marthe were there. They opened Musee Guimet in Paris with co-founder Louis-Emile Bertin in 1888. Other guests included Ernst Molier of the French circus, Cirque Molier, Gaston Menier, a chocolate magnate, Maitre Edouard Clunet, a famous lawyer, and Bete Enclairage, a gentleman of 45 years of age who dressed impeccably in the fashion of the day.

Artists included the French Impressionist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his girlfriend, Aline Victorine Charigot, Emilio Sala y Francés, a Spanish painter with art displayed at the fair, Rene Jules Lalique, a French glass artist, and the French opera singer, Emma Calve. Baron Wilhelm Eduard Freiherr Von Schoen, the German ambassador to Russia, was attending as was his friend representing British diplomacy, Charles Hardinge. Baron Etienne van Zuylen and his wife Helene were there. He was a banker who married into the Rothschild family by marrying Helene Rothschild. But then her parents disowned her for marrying a Roman Catholic.

The hostess, Sarah Bernhardt, arrived just before 6 pm. A servant rang a triangle near the front of the seating where she stood. She was dressed in an elegant black gown with long ropes of expensive pearls, a chrysanthemum pinned to her chest and a red hat with tall feathers.

“Thank you all for coming,” she said in French. “I have the pleasure of bringing to you a performance by a lady who I’m sure will captivate Paris. I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform at the Musee Guimet and was most impressed, as I’m sure you will be. Please take your seats and I will present to you, Madam La Belle Otero.”

The guests all filed into the seating and a few minutes later, the lights dimmed. The curtains surrounding the stage area were about to be opened when music started playing from behind the curtains. The music had an Asian flair to it and started softly with a slow tempo featuring flutes, light strings, brass triangles, bells and cymbals. The curtains parted and a woman dressed in brightly colored veils was revealed.

Around her was a realistic recreation of a Hindu jungle temple complete with live vines, archaeological antique pillars, a three foot tall statue of four armed Shiva the Destroyer, and a lit brass candelabrum with a bowl of burning oil below it. To the each side of the woman are two other dancers dressed in black saris. The other dancers were obviously chosen for their facial plainness so as not to compete with La Belle Otero.

Otero was collapsed upon herself on the floor and started moving gently to the music, slowly rising from the floor with the music as a guide. The dance was filled with sensuous movements and the veils twirled with her. Her hypnotizing dance personified the mystic nature of India.

Slowly she discarded veils and eventually revealed a sensuous and curvaceous woman. She was strikingly beautiful and statuesque. Her dance was directed toward the statue. Occasionally the other dancers tried to appeal to Shiva as well, only to be rebuffed by Otero who then intensified her attention on the statue.

While the outfit Otero wore was revealing, it still covered her at that point. The dance continued with a dreamlike quality and they felt a bit tired from watching the movements. Eventually, as she continued to toss away veils, she was nude with the exception of her bejeweled metal brassiere, armbands, headband and a body stocking covering her private area.

Their knowledge of spell craft told them that Otero was not casting a spell. And, while she wasn’t casting a spell, many of the dance movements and hand gestures were certainly very similar to spell casting. Fredryck could tell that the dance movements, music, and hand gestures had been taken from numerous authentic Hindu and other eastern religious dances and rituals, especially the holy asparas from the Hindu scriptures. Those had been cobbled together into a fluid dance that Otero was performing. However, the parts where she slowly discarded her clothes were not part of any credible religious or spell casting ritual.

In spite of all that, Evgenia could sense that something on the stage was going on. She sensed that some kind of charm was being used. So, Bartley secretly cast a spell to detect magical auras.

The spell initially revealed the presence of magic, then the presence of numerous magical auras and that it was overwhelming. Continuing to concentrate, he noticed auras among the attendees. But, when he focused on the stage he could only detect the overwhelming magic as being from the stage in general. Perhaps that was due to the overwhelming and unusual nature of the magic.

So, he made a mental note about who in the audience had a magical aura. The circus man Ernst Molier, the chocolatier Gaston Menier, and the van Zuylen couple seemed affected. Emma Calve, Baron Meyer and the lawyer Clunet were also affected. So were the reporter George du Parcq, the glass artist Lalique and their hostess, The Divine Sarah.

Observing the audience, some of the men in the group had never seen such an arousing dance and some of the women seemed slightly aghast at the boldness of her dance. Yet some of those same women seemed simultaneously envious. Gasps of pleasure escaped from many of the people in the audience and it was clear why Otero might take Paris by storm.

After the dance, there was much applause as the stage curtains were drawn. The hostess invited everyone to stay in the jungle atmosphere for refreshments and La Belle Otero would join them soon. Almost everyone stayed, hoping to talk to the lady for a few moments and to see if her popularity would rub off on them.

The refreshments and light snacks were served by Sumatran servant girls dressed in traditional Indian saris. People milled about in the strange surroundings for a while. Some left when La Belle Otero didn’t show up right away.

About 30 minutes after the performance, La Belle Otero finally showed up wearing an elegant white dress that was quite risque in the bodice region. She was led around by her hostess, The Divine Sarah, and talked to several people before making her way to your group. Sarah Bernhardt introduced them to La Belle Otero and then looked at them expectantly.

They could tell that Sarah didn’t know them to introduce them to Otero. They could tell that she probably wondered who invited them because she should know everyone there. They also sensed that she was too graceful a hostess to cause a scene because of it.

“Sir Fredryck Stanley of England, son of Lord Stanley of Preston, the 16th Earl of Derby, 6th Governor General of Canada,” Fredryck began. Otero took obvious note of him and his family station. “And my fiance Miss Adoline Clemenceau,” he quickly emphasized as he saw Otero’s reaction. Evgenia, Bartley and Dracona introduced themselves to their hostess and Otero. “Archibald Barisol, owner and manager of the Barisol Theatre in London, playwright, consummate actor, servant to the arts, modest devotee of our hostess, The Divine Sarah, and appreciative admirer of our enchanting dancer, at your service,” Archibald eloquently introduced himself.

Evgenia noticed that Otero politely seemed to ignore them as her attention shifted to and focused on Archibald. Otero introduced herself as “Caroline Otero.” She fawned over Archibald, listening to his every word, taking his arm and holding herself close to him. She was extremely well versed with the upper social class and fit in beautifully with conversation taken along that tact.

She talked to Archibald claiming she was born in India. They could tell that was a fabrication but she must have read about the country extensively. She claimed that her mother was a dancer in a temple dedicated to Shiva the dancer. But, again, she most probably studied the dances and temple diagrams extensively.

Otero claimed to be consecrated to Shiva’s service. Even Dracona knew that claim was not to be believed. Then Otero claimed to be distantly related to royalty. Evgenia recalled hearing that Otero had reportedly married an Italian nobleman, Count Guglielmo, when she was 14.

“My dance is a Hindu poem based on Hindu spirituality and has been performed for over two thousand years in Shiva’s name,” Otero explained to Archibald. “The movements represent the sacred texts of Shiva. The temple that The Divine Sarah has recreated with the help of Monsieur Guimet is a fair representation of the temple I danced in.”

“Monsieur Guimet most graciously provided the authentic columns, candelabra, statue, costumes, jewelry and sarongs for the stage and dancers,” Sarah confirmed. “But, the true temple of Shiva is my body,” Otero informed as she pressed her body against Archibald. “So, my dance can be performed anywhere and it is still as spiritual as it would be in an original temple.”

“The dance movements, music, and hand gestures were from numerous authentic Hindu and Asian dances,” Fredryck informed, “that you’ve cobbled together. But I don’t think disrobing was part of any credible religious ritual.” Adoline squeezed Fredryck’s arm slightly, hoping his words would not offend the dancer or their hostess.

Otero seemed to ignore Fredryck’s comments. “I’ve been invited to perform at the garden of a villa in Neuilly in three weeks for a group of women who call themselves Amazons,” she told. Archibald could tell that Otero was very excited about that. “At my premiere at the Musee Guimet last month, I met many interesting people who are here tonight as well.”

Maintaining her grip on Archibald, she ran through the list of those in her prior audience. “Ernst Molier, from Cirque Molier, a very successful circus, Gaston Menier the chocolate magnate, Baron van Zuylen, he’s in banking and his wife Helene, she’s … interesting. Emma Calve the opera singer; Baron Arthur Meyer, a journalist who runs a daily newspaper and a French monarchist; George du Parcq, a reporter, not very famous, but very nice; Maitre Clunet, a very talented lawyer; Rene Lalique, a glass artist, and of course, our hostess Sarah Bernhardt.”

Eventually, Otero reluctantly excused herself from Archibald’s arm. “It looks like there are many more important people here tonight. I’d best keep mingling, but I’d love to see you again!” “I’d be delighted for your company afterwards,” she said. “I’m staying at the Grand hotel,” she whispered as she left Archibald.

Otero sauntered over to where the two ambassador types were conversing. Archibald rejoined the others to discuss what they’d observed so far. Some of the people from Otero’s prior performance were being influenced in an unusual way.

After a minute or so, Charles Hardinge started yelling at the German ambassador to Russia. “You will apologize this instant,” Hardinge demanded. “How dare you speak so inappropriate to Lady Otero!” he shouted in indignation.

Fredryck and the others quickly made their way over to the two ambassadors. Adoline, Brina and Fen encouraged other guests to go in the opposite direction, intent on taking cover if shooting started. Otero seemed genuinely surprised and took a step back. They could tell that she had no idea what was going on.

The two men traded barbs for barely a moment before they both pulled pistols and pointed them at one another. “Gentlemen, this is not the place for this,” Fredryck said as he moved up next to the two men and tried to diplomatically diffuse the situation. “We can settle this properly outside, away from our hostess and her guests, if you really must do this now.”

It was enough to delay their shooting each other for the moment he needed. He quickly snatched the pistol away from the German and then the Englishman before they could react. In outraged frustration, the German pulled his saber. “You will rue the day you insulted me,” he claimed as he wildly waved the saber at the Englishman.

Archibald tried his best to diplomatically calm the two men. If it were a normal situation, he was sure they’d have ceased their hostilities. But, things were far from usual. The Englishman drew his saber and stabbed the German in the shoulder.

As the stabbing occurred, Emilio Sala y Francés, the Spanish painter, was no longer able to contain his excitement. He gesticulated with his hands and yelled in French, “Maintenant ce est un parti (Now it’s a party)!” Dracona moved in to protect and shield Otero and Bernhardt as Bartley got close enough and readied his sword cane to parry future blows.

Fredryck dropped the pistols behind him and Evgenia quickly kicked them away and into the corner of the greenhouse. Then, he attempted the same feat he’d accomplished with the pistols. Striking German’s grip, he snatched the saber from him. But the Englishman had seen the trick and stabbed Fredryck in the arm as he attempted to snatch the second saber.

The German readied to start fisticuffs against his sword wielding opponent. The Englishman went to stab at the German but Bartley parried the blow with his sword cane and disarmed him. With diplomacy, civility and reason clearly lost on the two crazed diplomats, Archibald roughly bull rushed the German, shoving him away from the Englishman, out of the way of further harm and to the ground.

“The Gendarmes have been summoned,” Sarah informed as one of her servants made haste away from the greenhouse. The German sat up, apparently confused as to why he was on the ground. The Englishman, too, looked disoriented and confused. “Monsieur von Shoen, are you all right?” the Englishman said with utmost concern and civility toward his friend. The two seemed to have little recollection of the prior moments.


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