Upon waking in Calais France, the party is prepared to continue their journey to Basov Romania within the Carpathian Mountain range. Their journey will span over the next several days of travel crossing over the country land and into the high mountain range.
The STEAM team board another carriage in Calais France heading off toward Brussels Belgium. It’s going to be a long journey but hopefully they can arrive before nightfall.
Being in a strange land has always caused Dr. Ghinton to feel out of sorts. Anxieties run high and there’s always a dread of the unexpected. But that is nothing uncommon for the average gentleman. We all have moments of doubt and fear about the unknown and the perils of travel.
Dr. Ghinton peers out the window of the carriage and allows his mind to wander a bit. Soon he finds himself in a day dream of what might be found at the intended destination. He secretly hopes it will be an uneventful journey with few complications. Maybe a nice walk around the Bran Castle and a quick discovery of the answers to all the many questions which plague his mind. Finding the location of the Wolf’sbane would be most enjoyable. And finding that whom ever had tainted the perfume of our Lady Jack had already met his demise in the very field of flowers he used to poison her. Morbid yes, but still, it would offer an end and a solution to the query.
Suddenly Dr.Ghinton is brought back to awareness of his traveling companions. Mr Hyde has drawn his bag of nuts out and is offering them to the cabin members. Dr. Ghinton politely declines. Food on a long journey never sets well. He also wonders if the others had noticed that he had not partaken in any alcohol on this journey. He’s struggling with the demon of addiction and yet, has found added strength in the presence of his companions. He has a canteen of the spirits with him, but intends not to indulge in any drink, unless weakness overtakes him. Weakness, a mental concept that is blamed for many a man’s downfall. Choices, it’s all about choices, The good doctor reminds himself.
Dr. Ghinton has dozed off for just a moment during the journey. He dreams of large dogs, or wolves and a cauldron of bats, chasing the carriage. They draw ever closer and threaten to over take the horses and wreck the transport. He’s anxious and full of concern for his fellow passengers. Yet he’s trapped in the nightmare.
Suddenly he wakes due to the carriage striking a large stone in the road. No damage to the carriage but Ghinton is still shaken from the dream. Is it an omen or just a dream stimulated by the stories and gossip associated with the destination ahead?
Hugo leans out of the coach and calls to the driver, excuse me, can you pull over? I need to stretch my legs. The drivers shouts back no. Not in these woods. Hugo once more begs the driver to allow him to stretch his legs and once more Hugo gets a stern no. Hugo sits back. Oh for heaven's sake. Watson says. Watson leans out the window and calls out to the driver what my friend is trying to say is he has to relieve himself. Would you kindly pull over. The coach comes to a stop and Hugo jumps out and darts into the woods. While relieving himself he is startled by someone shouting snake. He slightly jumps and looks over his shoulder. It's the woman from the boat. He quickly fumbles to put himself away and turns to her and says; You!?. She giggles and says to Hugo relax, from what I've seen the snakes aren't very big in these woods but little snakes can do some damage too. Are you following us? Hugo ask. I guess so. Says the mysterious woman. Maeva wanted an update on your progress but I didn't assume you would stop to so generously water the wildlife. She giggless again. Be careful in the woods. They can talk to you. Make you confused. She says. She turns to leave and then turns back to Hugo and smiles. My name is Leona. Don't play with any snakes along the way. She giggles and turns and walks into the fog covered woods.
Soon the carriage comes to the Scheldt River nearly half way to Brussels according to the maps in Ghinton’s satchel. The driver of the coach stops and grumbles some foul language, before stepping down from his perch.
He opens the door and announces that he cant go any further, The bridge crossing the river is out. He implies that we must turn back, for there is no other route.
Dr. Ghinton being handy with the maps, shows the driver an alternative crossing just a few miles to the north of our current location. Which would require him to bring the carriage through the forest. The driver protests and declares that it is far too risky and unwise to attempt that route. But the Doctor being persuasive, insists that the coach be rerouted, for the mission to arrive in Brussels before sunset is vital.
After several moments and much discourse and gesturing, the driver is persuaded to take the alternative route. Dr. Ghinton and his traveling companions climb back into the coach and reseat themselves. The driver, being reluctant to proceed, reclaims his position atop the coach and turns it around to take the alternate route. He is visible angry or is it fear? Nevertheless, we continue our journey, being delayed only a short hour with the detour.
While traveling Hugo breaks the silence in the coach. What do you think he meant by it's to risky doc?
I don't know Hyde. answers Ghinton.
Do you think the woods are haunted? Witches? Or maybe wookawoo's live there.
What is a wookawoo Hugo? Asks the good doctor.
It's a creature with the head of a pig, torso of a man and legs of a goat. Their howl sounds like they're saying wookawoo! Wookawoo! They can be identified by the bright green vest that they wear; answers Hugo.
Do they really need to wear a bright green vest to be identified? questions Ghinton.
Hugo looks at Watt and ask him what he thinks.
I would be interested in searching these woods for a sample of Fly Agaric. answers Watt.
Fly what? asks Hugo.
It's a type of toadstool that is poisonous but it's said if you soak it a few times it reduces the toxins to a hallucinogenic state. Watson answers while looking out the window.
It's purely for the sake of research. answers the professor.
I'm quit sure it is. Watson says.
Well, I still hope we don't run into a wookawoo. Says Hyde
Ghinton rolls his eyes and repeats “wookawoo”.
“I know of a more haunted forest...” Professor Watt chimes in. “It lies deep in Romania, called Hoya Bachiu. It’s expansive, mysterious and an alarming number of strange occurrences happen within. The trees even grow strangely. In the middle, there is a large circle where no vegetation will grow. Light anomalies are common. Some say there is a portal to other dimensions, to the dark places. Many have been lost to never be seen again.” He continued, sipping from a bladder flask. No doubt it was wine.
“What we know for sure now, that whatever foe beset upon us, be sure the Bugga shall rue the day.” Watt said with a sniff and a pull from his flask as the carriage nicks a bump in the road, making Erasmus dribble.
“Bullocks.” He cursed irritatedly.
Watson watches as they approach the road that leads through the forest, she senses the hesitation in the carriage as the driver is obviously weighing his options.
“Driver, please pause here for a moment,” she calls to him. She lets Moxie out to do her business and as the dog is sniffing around for a spot, Watson climbs up beside the driver, “I know you are frightened,” she said as she hands him a bag of coins, “a bonus for bravery.”
He pocketed the money, “thank ya, miss, but the forest holds many secrets and none of them good.”
“You have my guarantee that we will pass through safely. My friends and I are well equipped to protect this carriage and all within it,” she climbed down and scooped Moxie up in her arms, “my little companion holds her own secrets. Trust me.”
“I do, miss. Though I must be a bit off in the head,” he added with a smile.
Watson climbed back into the carriage, then banged on the door signaling they were secured inside, “make haste, my good man! The game is afoot!”
The driver snapped the reigns and the horses took off at a run, winding their way along the trail as if they had been etched into their memories.
Professor Watt holds his thumb over the opening of his flask as he is thrust back in his seat from the forward momentum, scowling as he often does, “See here driver, there is a beverage at stake!” He cried. The company look over at him bemused.
We soon come around a bend in the road and there in front of us is another bridge. This one leading across the river Scheldt an onward toward our destination.
The driver has slowed the coach down just a bit, but we can tell from the jarring that he is still in a rush to get past the forest in question.
Suddenly we become aware of the driver yelling a few obscenities and there is a loud thumping heard on the top of the carriage. Dr. Ghinton leans forward to look out the window and sees a multitude of frogs falling from the sky. He is both startled and amused. For he is sure the driver has found no amusement in the circumstances. Dr. Ghinton turns to his traveling companions and describes the scene. They also were not amused by the event. With quick wit about the situation, Ms Watson speaks up and says, “there must have been a recent storm in the area and it crossed over a swamp land area and picked up the poor creatures. Small tornados are known to do this sort of thing causing quite the ruckus to those who are not as weather savvy as the educated.”
Ghinton agrees and settles back in his seat. He is sure the coachman has no sympathy for storms or frogs at the moment, for without a doubt in his mind, it’s a curse and witches are everywhere and about to fly down around us and carry us all away to boil our bones and drink the broth.
Roused from a drunken stupor by the noise, Professor Watt bemoans the harsh wake up call.
“What in the bloody hell is that racket!?” as he rubs at his temples, nearly in tears,
“I’ve got a real bastard behind me eyes..”
He pulls himself up to the coach window and sticking his face out. Giant frogs begin bouncing off his head.
“What the...” sitting back down befuddled.
“I think we’ve took a wrong turn at Brussels.” He said. Checking his medicine bag as to make sure he didn’t imbue himself on some weird toxic plant, he let out a sigh of relief. Looking at his companions, his gaze serious.
“I had nothing to do with this.” He said.
It’s just before nightfall, the driver of the coat had made exceptionally good time with his haste to get beyond the forest and we arrived earlier than expected in Brussels.
Once agin we depart the carriage depot to seek out lodging for the evening. The clerk at the depot had directed us just down the street to a large boarding house. The Blue Maiden was the only blue building in site and it was very well kept in comparison to the others structures around it.
We approach the door and a stoic woman opens the door rather quickly. She introduces herself as Mrs Shell and invites us into the foyer. There we discuss our need for a number of rooms, an option for bathing and an evening meal. She is happy to oblige and we pay her for her services and the lodging.
We find it curious that we are the only boarders she has at the moment. The house seems totally empty other than ourselves and Mrs. Shell.
The rooms are well kept and very clean. I lean over to Mr. Hyde and whisper, “It’s a trap, she’s going to murder us in our sleep.” Mr. Hyde is not amused at my humor. Matter of fact, he seemed rather shaken by the thought of it possibly being true.
We all take our rooms and clean ourselves up from the long Journey. Everything we had asked for was provided with the utmost care and grace.
The evening meal is served in all the style one might expect from a very well run establishment. The food was delicious and served well. Mrs. Shell did not join us at the table, but we could tell she was very nearby in case we needed anything.
We then retired to our rooms.
The night was peaceful. No surprises, no interruptions.
Mrs. Shell calls us at our requested time and we make ready to return to the coachhouse to continue on our journey.
Upon leaving, Dr. Ghinton thanks Mrs. Shell for a wonderful experience. “it was a lovely stay at the Blue Maiden.” He then hands her an extra 50 shillings for her added attention.
Mrs Shell, smiles and then leans in close to Dr. Ghinton…. “There will be things hunting for you along the way, be careful of the souls with black eyes, they aren’t like the rest of us” Says Mrs Shell.
Dr. Ghinton smiles and thanks her, as to not raise concern to the others. He knows exactly who she is speaking of. So far, all of the Spring Heeled Jack abominations have been determined to have eyes which are as black as Obsidian.
We leave the Blue Maiden and head toward the Coachhouse. It’s a short walk and a beautiful day for one.
As the team approaches the coach house Hugo reaches into his pocket. Have you seen my nuts? Hugo ask. What? says Watson. I think I left my nuts at the blue maiden. I'm going to run back to the boarding house and grab my nuts. says Hugo. Is that necessary? Ghinton ask. It'll just take a minute. Hugo says as he hurries back to the blue maiden. As Hugo turns the corner he sees an empty lot where the boarding house once stood. Hugo stands staring for a moment and then turns back to rejoin his friends. There's nothing there. Hugo says. They probably just fell out of your pocket. Says Ghinton. No, doc. The blue maiden isn't there. barks Hugo. What? I have to see this myself. Ghinton says. The team goes back and looks around the empty lot for any clue but they find nothing. Strange to say the least. Watt says. Yes it is. Watson replies. None the less we must catch our ride. We can discuss this on the road. Ghinton says as he turns back towards the coach house.
Dr. Ghinton is quiet on the beginning of the next leg of the journey.
First question which comes to mind is: “Where did we just spend the night?”
The next thought is: “Who was Mrs Shell really”
And finally: “How did she know what we were looking for?”
Dr. Ghinton looks about the cabin of the coach and suddenly feels overwhelmed with suspicion. With the recent experience freshen his mind; How can he be sure of his senses at all?
Refocusing himself on the task at hand, he takes out his map and places and check mark over the city of Brussels and then begins to think about what might come to pass in Cologne, Germany.
Dr. Ghinton looks up from his maps and addresses his fellow travelers; “What is your speculation as to what just happened to us in Brussels, my friends?” I’d like to hear your theories and insights as we travel along.
Watson contemplated the doctor’s question for a bit. She had seen a lot of strange things in her travels, but this was the first time she had ever encountered and disappearing building.
A thought takes root in her inquisitive mind, “could it have been assistance from the Bishop and Ebony Manor?”
As if Hugo had read Watson's mind he answers. The bishop and his friends have the ability and the means to create a building but that isn't their style. They prefer to get an associate, like myself, to assist. It's very possible she was a caretaker like myself but with the ability to move her entire structure between reality and time as needed. If that was the case then it would be within reason that the blue maiden like the Ebony Manor can not be entered with ill intent. Giving us a chance to rest. If so we may see Mrs. Shell again in our travels.
Dr. Ghinton speaks up and says; “If it is the Council of Bishops who placed the boarding house in our path, I should make sure to send a letter of gratitude to them. It was a grand convenience to have such an excellent atmosphere for our lodging for once. I will add, that Mrs Shell was most convincing in her presentation as a house manager, if she was indeed a Keeper of Keysand Caretaker as our Mr. Hyde is. I’m impressed with the masquerade.”
The carriage continues to jolt along the rough road. Without it being spoken, it can be felt by all in the carriage that there is some intensity to be felt as we continue to travel toward Cologne Germany.
The Doctor once again peering out the window of the coach at the countryside, begins to day dream about being back at home in the Great Hall and how he has grown old and disenchanted with long travel.
In his youth, to be aboard a train or coach would have been a thrilling adventure taking him off to new and unimaginable, exciting conquests. Learning the customs and methodology of spiritualism, both its religious and less than favorable traits was his education as he grew into a young man. He found many tricks to the trade in his journeys. He also found much to be alarmed about. Nonetheless, it honed his own personal set of beliefs.
He does believe in life beyond the flesh, but not necessarily in the manner in which some charlatan of the faith might proclaim it. It’s far more complex and far less easy to describe, than can be found in the texts of some poorly written journals of self proclaimed leaders.
Ghinton is suddenly jarred from his internal dialog and he looks around at his companions. Wondering if they would think ill of him for his ramblings and rants about things long since past.
Professor Erasmus Watt silently poured over note books, scribbling here and there as the coach jostled about, muttering to himself as he often does. All the while the company discuss the events of the past evening and theories about what they had seen, rather, what they didn’t see this morning. Checking figures and turning pages. With a sigh, Watt closed his notes and stuffed them back into his satchel. He sat back with a huff and began to roll a cigarillo of some sort. Looking at his companions, he quips, “Well, that was bloody weird. And from me, that speaks volumes.” He continued. Dr. Ghinton gave him that look,
“Sir, weird is what we do.” He said with a slight chuckle.
“Well, yes” Watt said
“But that was a bit much. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted Frau Whatsherface.” He said.
“Ms. Shell.” Ghinton retorted.
“Poppycock!” The Professor huffed. Something was amiss and for whatever reason we didn’t see it.” Watt said.
Ms Watson turned to the Professor, Moxie on her lap soaking in the sunshine,
“I’m inclined to the thinking that Hugo has on it, it being akin to Ebony Manor, or maybe some beings are looking out for us. Not all are out to get us nor is there a boogeyman around every turn.” She said with a gleam in her eye.
“You say that now, but, wait till we get into that Bastard Forrest full of all sorts of evil and foul things.” Watt said.
“Certainly not a part of this journey I am not looking forward to.” He continued. Watt knew very well that being a bit of a coward has kept him alive thus far. Self preservation was high in his list. Walking into a deeply haunted local rife with tales of people going missing, creepy voices and weird lights was not his idea for a summer vacation. Didn’t these people know some backwoods monster fighter from some dimension? That Deacon fellow seemed like Hoya Bachiu was his kind of place, not to mention going on to where Vlad Tepes impaled thousands of people. The thought of all of it made Erasmus’ flesh crawl.
We soon arrive in Cologne Germany. The journey was made much shorter it seemed with the ongoing conversation. We discovered nothing new about the experience, but it brought amusement to our taels, nonetheless.
In Cologne we make our way to the hostel and check ourselves in. Being of suspicious minds, we look for any clue that where and what we are doing is not yet another oddity in our midst.
All proves to be well.
Mr Hyde informs us that he is wanting to go out for a bit to gather some supplies and to “air out the cobwebs from his head”. We acknowledge his request and is reminded to be careful on his walk.
Mr. Hyde bids us well and steps out for an evening of relaxation.
While on his walk, Mr Hyde picks up an handbill from the street and notices that the image of the star attraction at a local pub is very familiar in appearance to our Lady Jaqueline. The oddity of the notice is that a $500000 pound payout is offered to anyone who might be able to best the woman in a bare knuckles fight.
Mr Hyde, feeling obligated to help out the team to find additional information volunteers to meet the woman in the ring and instead of the cash, he hopes to persuade her to give up information about the origin and intention of her clansmen.
Mr Hyde proceeds to share his findings with the team and the group make plans to attend the event.
All agree that it can not be as difficult to subdue her as the lofty payout might suggest.
Upon arrival at the pub in which the fight is to be held. There seems to be a huge number of spectators and much gambling going on. Dr. Ghinton approaches the ring master and delivers the details of his contender to the gentleman. Mr. Hyde has been listed as a potential combatant in the area.
Soon it’s time for Mr. Hyde to take the ring. He steps in through the ropes as any gentleman in his position might do. Soon, the crowd begins to make a ruckus and the contender steps forward.
She’s a very large creature. Standing over 7 feet tall and caring the weight of 2 men about her girth. She not a pretty woman at all. Nothing like the image of her on the handbill. She’s definitely on the startling side of things.
Soon the bell rings and mr Hyde takes a stance for a civil fight. She proceeds to reach forward and grab him by the head, pulling him off balance and without hesitation she begins to beat him about the face with her massive breasts.
Following that move, she then Body slam Hugo. then getting him in a ankle lock and starts twisting.
Dr. Ghinton Yells out “that a boy Hugo. You got her now.” - “Lick her Ankle, She'll let go!"
She then lifts Hugo up by his ankle and slams him and his chestnuts fly out of his pocket and he screams “there goes my nuts.”
Oh My. the Doctors says. “That's gonna smart tomorrow. - She Crushed His Nuts!!”
Hugo is yelling “somebody do something! Help!” As she puts him in a head lock.
The professor says “I’ve got nothing myself. Good luck Hugo.”, and swigs another shot of wine.
She starts twisting Hugo's nose and the doctor yells “ask her why she's here.” She releases his nose and Hugo screams just pay the ransom.
“What ransom?” Dr Ghinton asks.
Hugo says “make one up ! Get her off me!” As she starts giving Hugo a nipple twist.
Ghinton responds with a shrug and yells out. “Hey Honey, we got your cash over here!!” And she twists the nipple harder.
Moxie starts to growl and Watson says: “calm down. This isn't your fight.” Hugo screams, “yes it is! Yes it is.”
Watson scoops up the pooch and leaves the building. Hugo just stares in disbelief, and yells “no more NUTS for you!”
The beast of a woman puts Hugo in a helicopter spin and then throws him out of the ring.
Hugo is now laying on the floor when Ghinton comes over and starts to help Hyde up.
“What are you doing?” Asks Hugo.
“We haven't found anything out yet. Get back in there.” Ghinton says.
Hugo being confused, just looks at the doctor as a large hand reaches over the ropes grabs Hugo by the head and pulls him back into the ring.
“Damn, this woman is a monster.” Says Ghinton.. “Maybe she is for hire.” - “Hugo!! Ask her how much she charges an hour?”
One can see her smiling as she smacks Hugo in the chest and all wind leaves him, leaving him sucking in air and sputtering.
Then she straddles him like a horse and sets down hard. We hear more of Hugos nuts crunch under the great mass of her thighs.
Hugo yells “get the red key! Find a door! Get junior!”
Ghinton says “that would be cheating.”
Hugo shouts “just get junior.”
Ghinton walks over to find a cabinet with a door and keyhole.
He uses the red key and call for Junior to come out.
The towering giant is at least two heads taller than anyone else in the room. Except the battle mistress. They stand eye to eye.
The Battle mistress stands up, looks at junior and smiles with a huge rotten tooth grim. She says "I have found my future husband".... Junior turns to Ghinton and says: "she is bad, I no play with her" --- "but I save Hugo”. Junior reaches out and grabs Hugo by the collar and pulls him out of the ring. They both walk back toward the cabinet and insists to be sent home.
Ghinton remarks: “Junior usually get what he wants" and uses the key.
Hugo steps back through the cabinet moments later looking renewed. For what has been moments here has been weeks of recovery at the manor.
Suddenly over the noise they hear a booming voice yelling “You! Fatso! I'll tell you what I know for three more minutes in the ring!”
Hugo starts shaking his head no but before he can answer he hears Ghinton shout “we accept!”
“What!?!” Hugo shouts at Ghinton.
Ghinton starts pushing Hyde towards the ring while telling Hugo “we need the information she has.”
Suddenly Watt runs up to the pair shouting “I’ve got it! I've got it! Run around the ring until you tire her out.” Hugo looks at Watt and says thanks brother. Hugo is pushed through the ropes and Hugo does the only thing he can think of. He takes the professor's advice and starts running around the ring.
The behemoth stretches out her arm and brings Hugo off his feet with a clothesline.
She laughs a starts to approach Hugo in thundering strides, but suddenly stops and falls on her face.
She rolls over and holds her feet up in the air.
Her shoestrings have been tied together.
She sits up and let's out a primal scream but suddenly her head jerks to the left and then violently to the right.
Finally her head snaps back and spit, blood and a tooth go flying.
She falls back unconscious.
Hugo feels something tugging on his shirt. Pulling him over and on top of his opponent, pinning the giant. The referee counts her out. Hugo wins.
“It's a good thing I decided to follow you back”. a voice rings out.
“Claude?” Hugo says.
“Yeah, Claude. Next time be more careful. I might not be around to save you. Be careful pork rind.” the voice is then silent.
The wrestler sits up looks at Hugo and says “you won.” “Meet me after I'm finished at a table and I'll tell you what I know.”
Hugo pulls himself up from the mat and glares at Ghinton “Next time I’m bringing pillows!”
We wait a short while, expecting the Battle Mistress to eventually come to our table and give us the details in which she has and promised to share.
After nearly an hours wait time, we look around the pub only to find she has vanished and not kept her word.
We are also informed by the administrator over the match, that we have been disqualified due to interferences from the audience, "especially the big fellow who found his way out of the cabinet".
All of the entire evening was wasted on what promised to bring us added cash for traveling expenses and some important answers.
Dr. Ghinton opens his satchel and peers in at the canteen of schnapps and decides to let it rest there for a while longer.
At the table, Watt pulled at his wine.
“Well that was bloody interesting.” He said.
“I certainly did not expect her to be as pretty as a brick.”
Her character has proven less than spectacular as well my good man.
Hugo is quite frustrated and announces if I had just three more minutes with her I'd....... “Get your ass beat again.” Watt proclaims as he takes a swig of wine.
Watson was making her way back into the pub when she was grabbed roughly by the arm, “hello there, pretty lady. Where ya goin’ in such a hurry?”
Watson frowned at the ruffian holding her arm and jerked it away from him, “don’t touch me, you malodorous twit! This is your only warning,” she turned to walk away and he grabbed her arm again.
“You need a lesson in manners!”
“And you need a lesson in hygiene!”
She snapped back, jerking her arm free again, “and now you’ll be dealt your own lesson in manners.”
The large man laughed heartily, “what’s a little woman like you going to do?” He spied Moxie and laughed even harder, “are you going to get your tiny little mutt to bite my toe?!” He threw his head back and wiped his eyes in amusement. When he opened his eyes and quieted his snickering, he found himself staring down the barrel of Watson’s pistol, his eyes were drawn to the very large angry dog at her side. It’s teeth were glowing in the moonlight and the growl emanating from her made his blood run cold.
“She’ll bite you, but much higher than your toe,” Watson said calmly, “now off with you.” She watched with amusement as the man scurried away, leaving a puddle where he had been standing, “good girl, Moxie. You made him soil himself.” Now let’s get inside to check on Hugo.”
Ms. Watson, Prof Watt, Dr.Ghinton as well as Mr Hyde are a bit disappointed in the loss of the winnings as well as the information which was promised by the Gorilla of a woman. She obviously had no integrity and was not to be trusted.
The team finished up their drinks and made way to the Hostel in which they had made arrangements to sat in.
Along the way, Ms Watson relays her account of the event outside of the pub. We always find her to be very self sufficient and capable of taking things into her own hands. We congratulate her on placing the cade in his place.
Hugo doing better after some rest in his own domain at the Manor, was a bit restless, but not restless enough to step out for more adventure. He was more intent on simply relaxing and thinking of home and family. (his family is in part the guests in his own realm at the Manor, he misses the comforts and conveniences of the manor)
Dr. Ghinton proceeds to his room as well. Also annoyed with the fact they had been duped by the female. He was restless and found himself hoping to cross paths with her again in the very near future. “she wont play us for fools again” Says the Doctor to himself.
The Doctor does find himself distracted on one other level. The individual who accosted Ms Watson. Why her, why then and was it a ruse? The good Doctor sets up and makes a note in his journal to ask Ms Watson if anything was amiss after her encounter. Then returns to his pillow and hopefully some sound sleep. (no nightcap of schnapps for the good doctor tonight)
Hugo wakes up early and decides he's going to stretch his legs before another long coach ride. As he walks outside he is greeted with the sights, sounds and smells of the city waking up. He sees a street vender selling something that smelled wonderful. As he approached, he saw it was neatly on a stick. It looked like chunks of chicken in a bright red glaze. Hey, is that chicken? Hugo asks. The vender smiles reaches out with his goods and says yes. Yes. Chicken. Hugo pays the man, takes the stick of meat and takes a bite. It's spicy. And he tastes a lot of paprika. The chicken is a little gamey. Hugo hears a giggle and then a familiar voice from behind him. The voice says that's because your chicken is rat. Hugo turns and sees Leona. She points at the stick and says again, it's rat. Hugo spits out the contents of his mouth and drops the stick. This makes Leona laugh harder. You're everywhere Leona. It seems like it doesn't it doodle. Leona answers as they start walking. Hugo, my name is Hugo. Leona gives him a sheepish grin and says from what I've seen I think doodle fits better. So has Maeva sent you? Hugo inquires. No. Not this time. I just wanted to.....I was bored. Leona answered. They talk and laugh while walking down the streets. Then Hugo points to leona's feet. Why don't you have any shoes. Hugo asks. I don't know. My kind don't usually wear shoes. she answers. But it's getting cold out. You'll need some. Hugo says. We'll see says Leona. She continues, I have to be going but I'll see you soon doodle. Leona smiles, winks and turns away. Hugo watches her leave and he then sees an empty building. He walks over inserts the key and steps inside. An instant later he steps out with a box under his arm. He starts to make his way back to the hostile to get his belongings and meet his friends at the coach house. While walking back he spends his time window shopping. Then in one of the shops he sees Ghinton. He's studying a cane with an unusual handle. The doc needs another cane like I need another donut. Hugo says to himself as he walks into the shop.
The next morning, Dr. Ghinon awakens refreshed, or at least as refreshed as one might be able to achieve on a lumpy bed and hard pillow. He proceeds to dress and make ready for the next portion of the journey. His head seems to be as clear as one might expect with the absence of caffeine. He’s sure that in the hostel, a hot cup of coffee or tea might as well be a pot of gold, and just as elusive. But he makes his way down the stairs. Only to discover, as expected, no coffee or tea to be had.
So, the good doctor decides to go for a bit of a walk and hopefully will discover a vendor who can quench his desire for caffiene. Instead he finds Mr Hyde wandering about with they cross paths in front of a very nice little shop with some very intriguing walking sticks. Ghinton chooses not to invest in a new one at the moment, for he has no place to store and transport the one he currently has in his possession.
Hugo and Dr. Ghinton make their way back to hostel to meet with the other members of the traveling party.
Soon, Ms Watson, and Prof Watt come down the stairs. Ms Watson looks at the Doctor and says, “What no coffee or tea?”The Doctor responds only with a shrug and a nod. Prof watt speaks up and says, I found some earlier, but I think it’s now gone and wasnt of a grand variety anyway.
The group decides it should be a priority to find a bistro and at least have a cup of tea or coffee and a some pastries before departing the city.
So off they go. Fortunately just a few blocks away is a nice little place. The four of them set down, and order in english. The waiter does not understand. The Menu having photos and sketch’s of what it offers turned out to be very helpful. For it too was written in German and none of our group spoke enough to make headway. So we resort to pointing at the menu to help the gentleman along. In no time what so ever, we had our morning breakfast. It was truly strong and rich in flavor. Very unlike what we had become accustomed to in London.
Upon finishing and paying for our morning meal, we head off to the carriage house to continue our trek . Dr. Ghinton notices that there was an extra pair of pastries ordered that seemed not to have made their way to the table. Dr. Ghinton then notices that a little bit of extra mass has found its way into Hugo’s satchel and soon the mystery is solved. Which is no problem, the doctor is aware that Hugo has a penchant for sweets and extra treats. It might have been wise for the rest of the group to have done the same.
The carriage we board is a very stylized coach. Very Gothic in nature made of black wood and very ornate. Drawn by 4 black steeds and the driver too is dressed very well for an overland driver. The Doctor asks the driver if he is familiar with the road we are to travel, and the driver simply turns and stares as the doctor, with very dark piercing eyes. His face is partially covered with a scarf, which is appropriate for the cool morning air. His black hat pulled tightly down on his head, leaving only his eyes visible peering out of the darkness. The doctor assumed he does not speak english, but has his orders nonetheless.
Soon we are off on our way and leaving Cologne Germany heading toward Frankfurt. it’s to be a long day of thumping and bumping along the crude road ways between the two.
The ride to Frankfurt Germany is seemingly more rough than usual. The driver seems to know the road very well, but is rushed and this makes for a very jarring ride. Every attempt to ask him to slow down has been met with silence and no change in pace. We are sure to reach our next destination ahead of time, but without a doubt, bruised and beaten.
During the long coach ride Watson notices the box sitting beside Hugo. She reaches for the box and ask Hugo what's this as she opens the box. Red swede boots? Watson says. They're for Leona. Hugo answers. Is there something we need to know Mr. Hyde ask the professor. It isn't like that. She doesn't have any shoes. Hugo interjects. They are exquisitely made. How did you know her size? Watson ask. Maybe our dear Hugo has a foot fedish. Laughs Watts. No. No! Hugo says and then continues on. They're made by elves. The first person to put them on they form perfectly to their feet. I see you died the liner pink to match Hugo. Watson announces. Actually I didn't. There's a small herd of pink lamas on the grounds. I don't know where the bishop found them but anyways, they shed once a year and the gnomes gather it to have elves make clothes out of it. It's amazing stuff. Hugo says. It's warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Suddenly Hugo hears kissing sounds. The professor is making kissing noises and then breaks into song. Hugo and Leona sitting in a tree. K-i-s-s-i-n-g. Hugo grabs the boot and returns it to the box and pulls the box out of Watson's hands. I said it's not like that. Hugo yells while he feels his face blushing. What about you Watts. What's in your satchel? What's the secret you've been working on that you thought none of us had noticed. Well? Hugo blurts out. Watts looks at Hugo while deciding if he wants to answer that question or not.
“Now, Now, my friends. Let’s be civil to one another.” Says Ghinton.
“So Hugo has a friend, that’s perfectly all right and he need not feel defensive about it.” “She is a perfectly good person and so is Hugo.” “He has a right to show his affections to whom ever he feels compelled to show them too.”
“We should focus our attention on the mysteries ahead of us.”
“Professor Watt has brought up some intriguing perspectives concerning the Forrest ahead of us.”
“The vision also has created a curiosity as to whom and when our fiendish friend Jack is going to strike.”
“And for the sheer fact of the matter, we have a madman driving our coach as if he’s late for his own funeral, or ours….”
Dr. Ghinton then returns to peering out the window as he braces himself by holding firmly to the hand rail of the door on the side of the coach.
We soon arrive in Frankfurt Germany.
The four travelers climb from the coach and stretch. Dr. Ghinton glances back toward the location the driver should have been and is disappointed that the driver is no where to be seen. The Doctor was hoping to give the gentleman some advice and guidance on how to prevent future issues with jarring the daylights out of his passengers.
We have made excellent time, however, for we are 3 hours ahead of our expected arrival time. Good enough to warrant an early supper and possibly a bit of a walk around the town.
Once again, the party encounters the age old conflict. We are English speaking and know very little german. But we manage to order our food and drink. Dr. Ghinton has an ale, the first bit of alcohol since beginning the journey. It’s good and yet the Doctor makes a mental note to go easy on the beverage.
Later, after eating, the group makes its way to the hostel of Frankfurt and are assigned their rooms. The comfort of this stay seems to be of a better quality than the last. There is provisions for bathing in the room rather than down the hall. And the bed seems less lumpy. Dr. Ghinton approves. It may also be mentioned that due to the jarring of the ride, the Doctor has several sore spots and bruises.
Dr. Ghinton receives his key to his room and begin to climb the aging staircase and suddenly comes to a halt. His hand moves quickly to his head and the rest of the team know the signs. Once again an invasive vision has started, and determined to cause the Doctor great pain.
A woman in mourning wear, dressed head to toe in black clothing and veil, has approached a gentleman on the street. He falls dead and she quickly walks away.
As with most visions which involve Spring Heeled Jack a riddle or rhyme is also heard with in the vision.
“She isn’t a she and he is now dead.
We aren’t so easily left behind, which is what you dread.
Here in Frankfurt the party portends,
don’t ever forget me until it ends.”
Dr. Ghinton then recovers and tells the others about the vision and message.
When he arrives in his room he also makes a note of the details in his journal.
He opens his satchel and draws out the canteen of schnapps. Unscrews the lid and raises it to smell the butterscotch aroma. Then replaces the lid and returns it to his satchel. He’s determined to have power over at least one demon in his world. Let it begin with the Spirit contained within the canteen.
Instead, He’s eager to be laying in a horizontal position to allow for relaxing. He’s still not feeling at ease due to the vision. But he drifts off to sleep, nonetheless.
A few hours later he is awakened. And it is well after nightfall. He’s restless and decides to take a stroll along the streets of Frankfurt and see what sights are to be seen. He doesn’t inform the rest of his traveling mates of his intentions and simply slips out, making sure to mention to the night clerk that he will be returning and to please not lock the door. The night clerk speaks just enough english to understand and assure the Doctor he will keep the light on and door open. Dr. Ghinton tips his hat in appreciation and hands the clerk enough pocket change to help the gentleman keep his word.
Down the street the Doctor then goes. The night air is crisp and clear in spite of the smells of the city they are in. Things in this part of the city seem to be well kept and without clutter. Most of the pubs and eateries are now closed which is a good thing for the Doctor. It prevents temptation and keeps his oath in tact to stay away from the ale houses.
As he walks along, he becomes a bit uneasy. There’s something familiar about the surroundings. Never being in Frankfurt before he’s sure it’s not a forgotten memory or event. Suddenly he recalls the vision of the Female lashing out at the gentleman. It’s the same street, same corner and yet, something sill feels off.
The timing is wrong.
Dr. Ghinton steps over to the street corner, and finds the vantage point in which his vision was seen. He decides to wait a while. Maybe, if he is present, he can intervene and stop the murder. Then the next thought is, maybe he will be the victim instead. But, the doctor holds his ground. Walking stick in the ready, just in case there is an attack. He waits an hour, then 2. Nothing, no one.
He then determines that maybe his very presence has altered the event, so, he begins his walk back toward the hostel. Making good time, he arrives and find the door is indeed open for him. He waves to the clerk and makes his way back to his room. Wondering if his presence had altered the time line.
Upon waking, He prepares himself for the day, he then makes his way down to the dining room and pours himself a cup. Picks up a scone and finds a suitable table near a window. The clerk walks over to him and offers him a freshly printed news paper. There upon the top of the paper is a sketch of a scene the doctor is familiar with. He asks the clerk to read the story to him, and he does. A murdered man was found on the corner of the very street the Doctor had waited at the night before. Only one hour after he had returned to the hostel. The Doctor was disappointed that he had not waited longer. But then decides this is what fate has in store for him. He is to see, but not intervene. The vision proved to be genuine. And again, the mystery and hunt is reinforced.
Hugo slides into the seat across from the doctor. Coffee in one hand and two scones in the other. Whatcha reading doc? Hugo ask as he picks up the paper from the table. He shacks his head as he looks at the drawing of a woman in black standing over a victim that accompanies the headline. We're living in sad times doc. When ladies aren't ladies and behave as badly as men. Hugo states. Ghinton sits silently in his thoughts. Hey, wait a minute, you're not planning on sharing this with the team are you? You know Watson will want to look into it. She'll be.... intrigued. We'll be delayed. Hugo says. But the doctor doesn't answer. He just continues to look out the window.
After several moments of silence, the Doctor turns to look at Hugo and says. “you realize sir, women who are not women are men…”
Hugo smiles and stares.
“And yes, If Ms Watson becomes intrigued with the matter, we may delay our journey for a day or so. It would only be fitting.
Dr. Ghinton thinks to himself, “there is never a dull moment with this gentleman.” and nearly cracks a smile.
Soon Ms Watson and Professor Watt come down to the dining hall.
They appear to be well rested. Ms Watson moves toward the buffet and helps herself to a strong cup of Black Tea and a scone. The Professor follows her and gathers a plate of treats with his own cuppa.
Dr. Ghinton shows the newspaper to Ms Watson and point out that it was another vision come to pass.
She gazes at the paper as if she is reading it. Ghinton Assumes she knows enough german to make sense of it. She lays the paper down and picks up her tea and sips it, then turns to Ghinton to say; “I hope to have the chance to see the body before we depart. There might be clues which will aid us in understanding why these creatures continue to taunt us.”
Dr. Ghinton agrees and sips his coffee.
Mr Hyde simply looks at both Ms Watson and Dr. Ghinton with an obvious appearance of disappointment.
Dr. Ghinton announces he will contact the coach house and delay their reservation for one more day. He also hopes to have a chance to speak with someone about the previous driver and his lack of concern for his passengers comforts. He excuses himself and walks toward the door. Hat in hand and nod to his traveling companions he is off on his way.
Moments there after, Dr. Ghinton arrives at the coach house. The black coach is no where to be seen. He approaches the stable master and asks about the coach. The Gentleman shakes his head and says in broken english that he is not aware of such a coach.
Dr. Ghinton proceeds to the clerk and has a similar discussion with him. The clerk denies knowledge of the black coach which brought the Team to Frankfurt only the day before. The Doctor is perplexed without a doubt.
Recalling his original missions to cancel and delay their reservations for the coach to the next day.
He makes new arrangements with the clerk. There is an added fee for late cancelations but the good doctor is at ease to pay the extra. With a strong stipulation that the new driver be less chaotic in his determination to arrive on schedule in Nuremberg Germany.
Dr. Ghinton sets off to return to the Hostel and will make additional arrangements with the front desk clerk for another nights stay.
As the Doctor is walking along the sidewalk, he spies a dreadful sight. The two miscreants, Spike and Hammer. Somehow they have found their way to Frankfurt. The Doctor quickly takes an alley way and avoids being seen by them. He makes haste to return to the Hostel and tell his traveling companions of what he has discovered. “we must not be mixed up with the likes of these two ruffians again” says Ghinton.
Since everyone was working on their own projects Hugo decides to catch a carriage to St. Paul's. After prayers and lighting ceremonial candles Hugo steps back into the morning sun. As he pulls his fur hat on he hears a familiar voice. So, is this the deity you choose to bow to? the voice says. He turns and leaning against the chapel wall was Leona. Leo! Shouts Hugo. Do I look like a Leo? Leona ask. No. No. It was just a nickname. I didn't mean... Leona puts a finger up to hugo's lips and says I know what you meant. So, anyways, Maeva had a vision. The man that enjoys fancy dress wants vengeance on the smart one. That's not me. Hugo mumbles. Obviously. Leona giggles. Hugo looks at her dumbfounded. Anyways, they killed his twin brother. It's apparent they weren't identical twins but he's wanting them dead. Leona finishes. Leo, I mean Leona, why don't you ride with us? Hugo suggest. I prefer to walk doodle. Besides I can make better time that way. Leona answers. Well, at least have dinner with us tonight. Hugo suggest. I think we should wait until both our families are together. I'll have roast rabbit and dumplings for you. I'll even make the dumplings myself. Be a good boy Hugo and don't have any naughty thoughts. I'd hate for you to have to revisit your chapel. Leona says with a smile as she walks away. Hugo catches another carriage back to the hostel and on his way back he thinks about Leona and her latest warning. Hugo knows Maeva must be talking about Watson.
Back in his room, Professor Watt put the finishing touches on some of the latest gadgetry he ordered by currier care of Ms. Alice Band and by way of the old folks home, at Sawtooth National. Now assembled and liberally modified with the Professors unique handy works, was able to be revealed after his companions return from their outings. Watt called for Watson since this project had been intended for her. She had wonder why Watt wanted a few measurements knowing he was much too respectful to get overly fresh.
“This may prove useful at some point.” He said to her as Watson eyed what was a half of a hoop skirt contraption, incredulously. “Curiouser and curiouser she thought. “Watt..?” She said,
“What?” Erasmus looking up, goggles smacked to his face.
“How in the dickens am I to sit down without blowing the area and ourselves to smithereens!” She asked.
“Quick answer? Don’t sit down.”
“This is strictly for countermeasures during a tiff. Would have been quite useful at the pub with those goons trying to accost us.” He said.
Watson was still marveling at the professor’s latest invention, the man’s ingenuity and imagination knew no bounds. She and Moxie were on their way to the morgue to examine the body that was discovered. Halfway there, Moxie began growling and wanting out of her carrier. Watson set her on the ground, “what’s wrong?” she asked the dog, whose hackles were raised as she stared down an alleyway, growling softly. She disappeared briefly and Watson wasn’t surprised to see that she had morphed into her larger form. The dog gently took Watson’s hand in her mouth and guided her to a place where they could see the alley, but not be seen. Watson watched quietly, wondering who or what would appear.
Spike and Hammer laughed loudly as they walked past the alleyway, “that inspector is sure going to be surprised when he finds out we’re gone from the lockup,” Spike guffawed.
Hammer nodded and laughed in agreement, “good thing we have friends on the inside,” they were soon out of sight and Moxie finally relaxed enough to let Watson step out from her hiding place.
She sighed loudly, “Shaw trusted the wrong people….again,” she looked at Moxie and scratched the dogs ears, “thank you for looking out. Those two are a battle for another time. We have work to do,” they set off for the morgue again. Watson was not surprised to see that Moxie stayed in beast form.
Arriving at the morgue, she was greeted by an older doctor who spoke no English and his younger assistant, who greeted Watson with excitement, “Ms. Watson,” he said as he shook her hand vigorously, “it is a pleasure to meet you. Stories of your adventures are my absolute favorite,” he pointed to a stack of papers, “I have a cousin in England who sends me the papers when you are mentioned in them.”
A fan? Watson thought, this was a first, “thank you Mr…?”
“Oh, forgive my manners, Mr. Schmidt,” he said quickly, “and this is Mr. Fischer,” the older man nodded as a way of greeting.
“I would like to examine the body that was found, if it is alright with you gentlemen,” she repeated the phrase in flawless German, which seemed to soften Mr. Fischer’s look of annoyance at her interruption.
He and Schmidt spoke quietly for a few moments, the Schmidt gestured towards a room, “this way, Ms. Watson.”
“Thank you,” both men went to protest when Moxie started to follow her, “she goes everywhere I go,” Watson said, “she will not disturb anything or anyone and will only cause a problem if either of us are endangered.” Both men nodded and Moxie continued her path next to Watson.
There were few signs of violence on the man, who judging by his appearance, was possibly a vagrant, “do you know this man?” she asked Schmidt.
“No,” he responded, “and there was no identification on the body.”
Watson opened his eyes and peered at them, taking a cotton swab and pushing at the eye gently, “he’s human,” she said more to herself than anyone else.
“What else would he be?!” Schmidt asked with surprise.
Ah, so Schmidt was an innocent, one who was unaware of the nasty beasties that lurked on the fringes of society, “just a comment,” she said. She looked at Moxie, “come here girl. Smell,” she indicated the area around the man’s nose and mouth. Moxie stood up to reach the man, sniffed, then barked loudly. Watson nodded, “that’s what I thought too...wolfsbane.” She washed her hands after discarding her lab coat, “this man was poisoned with wolfsbane.” She looked at Fischer and repeated the same thing in German. He paled visibly, lowering his frame onto a seat.
Schmidt laughed nervously, “there is no wolfsbane in these parts.”
“It was brought from somewhere else, and I think it’s been dried and weaponized. It is very hard to detect, because one doesn’t expect that type of poison to be used.”
“Sind wir in Gefahr?” Fischer asked.
“You’re not in danger,” Watson said, “this was a message to my companions and I. We are chasing something sinister and now I realize something that surprises me.”
“What’s that?” Schmidt asked.
“It’s afraid of us. I smell fear along with the wolfsbane...and the fear is not of this realm.”
The meat pie Hugo had for dinner wasn't setting well on his stomach. He decides to get up and take some of Ms. Maple's sour stomach powder. The belch is loud and strong and Hugo excuses himself to an empty room. He decides to get a quick breath of air so he grabs his hat and coat and goes outside. Hugo decides he's just going to walk around the block. Hugo walks down to the corner and turns. He's humming a tune from a group called the Grateful Dead. They are from a future timeline and the doctor has warned Hugo not to get caught singing anything from the future or it could cause great harm to this timeline. Hugo is in his own little world and didn't notice the woman until he bumped into her. Nor did he notice that she slipped something into his pocket. Hugo says excuse me but suddenly the woman starts screaming. Help, police! Masher! Help! Suddenly Hugo hears a whistle and see a police officer running up the street. He grabs Hugo by the arm and ask the lady if she was alright. The woman in black tells the officer he tried to shove something in my face. He put it back in his pocket. The officer checked his pocket and pulled out a small perfume bottle filled with an iridescence purple liquid. Hugo recognizes the content and smacks it out of the officer's hand. It's wolfsbane! Yells Hugo. Just then a second officer runs up and picks up the the bottle and grabs Hugo's other arm. I think you need to come with us to headquarters. Hugo looks over his shoulder and sees yellow eyes looking through the black veil and hears a deeper laugh then most ladies have. Suddenly she leaps up onto the roof and then springs from rooftop to rooftop down the street. The officers drag Hugo towards the headquarters. * The lady in black and the police officers dialog was in German.
Dr. Ghinton is woken from his sleep by a pounding at his room's door. He opens it and there stands a woman with dark eyes and hair. Do I know you? Can I help you? Ghinton ask. It's Hugo. He's been arrested. She says. He's been what? Ghinton says. He's been arrested. They think he's the killer. Now hurry! She says as she turns and runs down the hall and down the stairs. Ghinton closes his door and quickly gets dressed. He then goes to alert the others.
Dr. Ghinton informs the others of what has transpired.
“Ms Watson we may need your skills to help get Hugo released. “ Says Ghinton to Watson.
“The Professor may also come in handy to help urge the constable to see our perspective.” says Ghinton to the professor.
The three walk swiftly to the Police station and ask to meet with the Constable in charge concerning the matter. The constable speaks no english, but Ms Watson quickly takes the lead.
We are allowed to speak with Mr Hyde.
Ghinton leads the others into the secured area where Hugo is being held. Upon seeing his friends Hugo runs up to the bars calling their names. I didn't do anything. I'm innocent. Hugo says. That is obvious. Watson says. We're working on getting you out; she continues. Hugo looks at the Doctor desperately and reaches through the bars and grabs the lapels of his jacket. Doc, they took my keys! My keys! I'm responsible for them and I failed. You've got to get them back doc. They should only work for me or someone I give permission to but I'm not sure. What if someone without authorization tries one and opens up a resident's door? You have to get my keys doc. I don't care about the bishop's wallet but you guys have got to get those keys. Hugo says frantically. Ghinton grabs Hugo's wrist and pulls them away and straightens his lapels. Relax my friend, we'll see what we can do. They turn to leave and while stepping thru the door they hear Hugo shout get the keys one last time.
Erasmus leaned in toward Hyde.
“Cool your boots man. We’ll get back your keys and spring you in no time. I’ll have to give them a dose of medicine. It will make an aneurism feel like a birthday present.” He said.
Approaching the constable again, Watson asks if they have taken fingerprints from the vial they found in Hugo’s pocket. She is annoyed when the officer says they have not. In sharp rapid fire German, she tells the constable to retrieve the vial, ink pads and the other necessary implements required to check prints.
“And bring me the arresting officers, they will be fingerprinted as well for comparison.”
The surly constable bristled at her demands, but complied with them. He knew of Watson and her companions and he also knew that the Crown was very fond of the pushy detective and he didn’t need that kind of trouble. Watson and the Professor quickly went to work fingerprinting Hugo, the vial and comparing the results.
When the officers went to return Hugo to lockup, she held up her hand, “leave him in Dr. Ghinton’s charge until we are finished,” it was not a question, it was a statement that she expected to be complied to - and it was.
After carefully studying the prints they had retrieved, the Professor looked at Watson, “bloody imbeciles,” Erasmus grumbled, “Hugo’s prints aren’t even on this vial. Why didn’t they check this first thing?!”
“Because they are bloody imbeciles,” Watson said, “and we didn’t give them much time,” she admitted, “we descended on them rather quickly.”
“Damn right,” Erasmus said, “and this…,” he indicated the fingerprint evidence, “is Hugo’s get out of jail free card.”
Watson sent for the Constable and relayed the information they had gathered to him, “there are unknown prints on this vial, ones that do not match Mr. Hyde or your officers. Those prints are of the culprit who murdered that poor vagrant and who tried to frame our friend for it.”
“That woman?!” the constable asked incredulously.
“That woman,” Watson snapped, “was over six feet tall and broad shouldered...that was no woman! Now you release my friend or I will bring all sorts of trouble to you and your merry band of misfits!”
Red faced and mumbling under his breath, the constable scurried off to get things taken care of.
Professor Watt looked at Watson with a bemused expression, “I do believe you’ve had that same effect on me a time or two.”
Watson burst out laughing, “Professor I’ve had that effect on many, many people more times than I care to admit to.”
Soon, the team were walking back to the hostel, Hugo had been given all of his personal effects back and his keys, as well as the Bishop’s wallet had been returned to him.
Watson had been quieter than usual during the walk and the others knew the wheels were turning in her active and curious brain. Dr. Ghinton was the first to speak up, “are you alright, Ms. Watson.”
“No,” she said as she stopped and looked at her friends, “I’m tired of this game Jack is playing with us and I intend to stop him. I don’t care how many more or them are out there, I will find this one and destroy him.”
“How?” Hugo asked.
“By doing what I do best,” Watson said with a grin.
“And what’s that?” Hugo said.
Professor Watt chuckled, “she’s going to irritate the piss out of him.”
Is there nothing they won't do to try to stop us. says Dr. Ghinton
As we are walking back to the hostel, Dr. Ghinton hears the chime from his communications badge.
He steps to the side to receive the message.
A voice of one of the clerks is heard sharing the following message.
“The Great Hall has been doing some digging into the background of Jack and his companions.
The Organization is question refers to themselves as the “Society of Shadows” and have been in place for as long as recorded history. Forward and Back. They exist along side the established Council of Light, in which our friend “The Bishop” is associated. Nothing more can be located concerning the Bishop. It is also determined that the Society of Shadows has an ongoing grudge match with the Council. In which STEAM have unexpectedly found themselves a part.
The Society of Shadows is compiled of only a single entity. That one entity is known as Jack by the common folk. But Jack is a multidimensional being, based on our research. He/She has discovered a way to come together throughout time and dimension to join forces as a Society of minds. Separated only by dimensional rift.
Due to the multidimensional aspect of each of the aforementioned Jacks, they can travel between time and space. To eliminate one is just a small annoyance to the others. For they are as vast as the dimensional awareness and can step between dimensions as easily as we step through doorways.
We’ve exploited all avenues trying to find a sure way to break the chain between the Society of Shadows and so far have failed to do so. They seem to have managed to build their entire identity and existence on the aspect of dimensional travel.
~End of Message~
The doctor steps back to the group and announces we have much to talk about when we are settled for our evening meal.
The conversation continues while the team walks back to the hostel. We must be very cautious about every decision we make from now on. They have shown they will go to any means to stop us. Ghinton says. But this things only fuel our desire to see this through. Watson adds. Absolutely. Ghinton continues, I would suggest doubling up in our sleeping quarters but that, for obvious reasons, would not be appropriate. We will also need to be careful with our meals. Hugo interjects into the conversation, hey doc, I can have Ms. Maple prepare our meals and delivered to us for a while. Perhaps that is something to consider Hugo. Thank you. Ghinton says. Watson says to her friends, I believe we should continue our journey as soon as possible. Ii feel these scoundrels will follow and leave this city alone once we depart. The team nods in agreement. Suddenly Hugo stops and grabs the professor's sleeve. Do you see that? Hugo ask. They all turn and look down a side street where Hugo is pointing. At the end of the street sits a familiar blue house.
Dr. Ghinont remarks; “Mr Hyde I think having our meals securely prepared is a wonder idea. Send words to Ms Maple to make it happen." Hugo steps over to a shop door way , steps through and back again, announcing the task has been done.
We enter the Grand Dame the Blue Maiden and there we are greeted once again by Mrs Shell. She is ever so welcoming as usual. We are assigned our rooms and promptly reminded it is near meal time.
Mrs Shell remarks that Ms Maple has sent forward the preferred meal as ordered by Mr Hyde. Everyone’s preferences has been predetermined by the requests of Mr Hyde and it is waiting in the dining hall.
Over dinner Dr. Ghinton explains the findings of the Great Hall and its investigation. The Doctor is obviously perplexed about the findings, but insists we still have a few options.
Ms Watson proclaims, “We shall find a solution.”
Professor Watt states “Indeed”
Hugo is busy with his meal and glances up for second and acknowledges with a nod and then returns to his meal.
After the meal is concluded the team takes leave of one another and seeks out their rooms for an evening of rest.
The next morning over breakfast the good Doctor seems to be in a chipper mood. He sips his coffee and waits for his companions to join him.
As they come into the room and find seating around the table with the Doctor, he looks at Professor Watt and asks a simple question. “Can you build a Prism Trap?”
Before the Professor can respond, Dr. Ghinton describes a trap of mirror and specific metaphysical entanglements built into the walls. All sides being enchanted, which would allow it to contain and restrict the movements of any corporeal or non-corporeal being. The chamber would need a doorway, which would also be enchanted allowing for one way passage into the chamber, but not allowing the occupants to exit.
The major key to this chamber is that it will reside in the Ebony Manor under the careful and watchful eye of Mr Hyde and his team, and only his unique key can be used to allow access to it for any reason. Professor, the Magic’s used in the creation of this chamber can be of your own choosing. as long as the walls are unbreakable and without weakness. They should have the appearance of mercury mirror and ultra resistant to any attempt to break or disrupt.
The Doctor then suggests that Mr Hyde use one of his many keys to allow the Professor and himself to step through a doorway back to the Great hall to work on the device. If the Professor and Mr Hyde agrees to the task.
The Doctor then announces: “From our perspective the gentlemen would only be gone a matter of minutes, yet due to the nature of the Manor Keys and Doorways, they would have all the time needed at the Great Hall Labs to create and them place the Prism trap at the Manor. With Mr Hyde’s approval and management of course. “
This could be a vital weapon in our battle against the Society of Shadows.
Before departing the Blue Maiden for the Coach house, Dr. Ghinton decides to ask to speak with Mrs Shell about her establishment and it’s origin. The conversation is held in the Library and is kept Private.
Together the two set down in the Library and Mrs Shell pours some tea from a very elegant pot. She presents in the most refined way as she asks the Doctor if he would prefer cream in his tea. The Doctor replies with a polite “no thank you” and then accepts the teacup and saucer. He sips the tea and finds it perfectly blended and most palatable. He then balances the saucer and cup carefully on his knee and proceeds to ask Mrs Shell how this place and herself have come to be?
Mrs Shell, smiles and explains; “The Blue Maiden is a Temporal Construct, a safe zone one might say, between the material universe and a dimension just slightly out of sync with the rest of time and space. I am sure you understand this element as it reflects your own location of origin, the Consortium and Mr Hyde’s home The Ebony Manor.” “Time, here in the maiden works in the same manner as the outer world, however, we have options which can be of benefit. For if you pass only through the front door of the Blue Maiden, you return to your previous location, but if one should need to move to another more safe location, the back door can be utilized and the location can be set to whatever best suits the traveler.” “Also, let it be known, that time can be adjusted here in the Blue Maiden, for healing and recuperation, we only need to adjust the settings and time quickens or slows as needed. “ “The Blue Maiden is unique, existing outside of the control of other manors or time shielded locations. - SHE, The Blue Manor, can appear or disappear and relocate, depending on the need of the traveler or travelers.” “However, also now that those who carry ill intention can not enter the property of the Maiden.” “She will not permit ill will, and will abandon a traveler if their intention become less than acceptable while within her safety.” “My task is to assist and maintain order with in the Maiden.” “Any breach of security will be met with clear and precise explanation and removal.” “I have no tolerance for shenanigans which can lead to harm of my guests or the Blue Maiden.”
Mrs Shell the concludes with; “I hope this answers the majority of your questions and concerns about the Blue Maiden, Dr Ghinton, as we do not wish to cause you greater concern by our presence here. We only wish to aid you in your journeys as needed” “May I ask, if the tea acceptable?” Mrs Shell concludes.
While Dr Ghinton was having tea with Mrs Shell, the two gentlemen, Hyde and Watt, took the opportunity to step through a doorway and return the great hall to gather supplies and then make haste to the Ebony Manor for construction of the Prism Trap.
The two returned in under 30 minutes and seemed quite pleased with their efforts.
Professor Watt announces with cheer, that the chamber is complete and functional. Mr Hyde is sporting a new key, specially aligned with the door of the chamber. The key is of Silver with wings and a heart shaped clear quartz heart embedded in the key itself.
Dr. Ghinton takes a moment to look at the key and then returns it to Mr Hyde. “Take good care of that old chap, that is without a doubt a most valuable element to our work.”
With the task being completed, we gather ourselves together, Ms Watson, Moxie, Watt and Hyde and Dr Ghinton step through the front door or the Blue Maiden and make their way to the Coach House.
Their coach is already ready for their planned departure.
They are off to Nuremberg Germany.
The STEAM Team soon arrive in Nuremberg Germany with no incident or chaos along the road way. The journey was smooth, as possible, and quite pleasant.
Dr. Ghinton and the group of travelers begin to make their way down the street toward a recommended hostel. Secretly Ghinton isn’t looking forward to another stay in a random location and longs for the comforts of home. As they turn the corner, they discover the Blue Maiden has followed them to the new location. For there she stands along with Mrs Shell on the steps waving them on.
AS the Doctor approaches, she smiles he usual welcoming smile and says; “I felt you could use some good home cooking and a settled bed to rest in.”
Ghinton takes note of this, for in a sense it was as if she was reading his mind.
As they pass through the doorway into the maiden, Ghinton instantly relaxes. He knows that the team is safe within the walls of the maiden, once more.
Mrs Shell, approaches the doctor and asks to speak to him privately. The doctor agrees. She whispers to the doctor; “2 unkept gentlemen came calling but the Maiden would not permit them in. They said they had business with your group and would be waiting and watching. I am concerned for your wellbeing sir. Please watch your step.”
Dr Ghinton thanks Mrs Shell and takes his leave heading off to this room.
Later in the evening over supper, Dr. Ghinton mentions the warning to the others.
Dr. Ghinton and the group of travelers begin to make their way down the street toward a recommended hostel. Secretly Ghinton isn’t looking forward to another stay in a random location and longs for the comforts of home. As they turn the corner, they discover the Blue Maiden has followed them to the new location. For there she stands along with Mrs Shell on the steps waving them on.
As the Doctor approaches, she smiles her usual welcoming smile and says; “I felt you could use some good home cooking and a settled bed to rest in.”
Ghinton takes note of this, for in a sense it was as if she was reading his mind.
As they pass through the doorway into the maiden, Ghinton instantly relaxes. He knows that the team is safe within the walls of the maiden, once more.
Mrs Shell, approaches the doctor and asks to speak to him privately. The doctor agrees. She whispers to the doctor; “2 unkept gentlemen came calling but the Maiden would not permit them in. They said they had business with your group and would be waiting and watching. I am concerned for your wellbeing sir. Please watch your step.”
Dr Ghinton thanks Mrs Shell and takes his leave, heading off to this room.
Later in the evening over supper, Dr. Ghinton mentions the warning to the others.
Hugo excuses himself from the table and decides to take his coffee in the comfort of the sitting room in front of the fire. He reflects on the various warnings they've received and knows that regardless of the cost they will push on. He worries, which is what Hugo does best. He worries about his friends both new and old. He prays for each of them for they will need inner strength for what's coming up. He isn't looking forward to the wolfsbane patch but he knows it must be done. He sits his coffee cup on the stand beside him and thinks how much the maiden reminds him of his own beloved manor. In Hugo's peace, he finds sleep.
A few hours later, Mrs Shell, quietly walks into the setting room where Mr Hyde has dozed and gently awakens him. She mentions with care that he should make his way to his room.
Mr. Hyde, smiles and thanks the house caretaker as he slowly, stiffly, rises from the comfy chair and bids her good night.
Mrs Shell, takes the cup and saucer and calmly walks back toward the kitchen. She smiles and says in a soft tone; "he's such a good boy."
After a well rested night's sleep Hugo cleans up and goes downstairs for breakfast. Everyone is already seated at the table. Platters of eggs, bacon and waffles are covering the table. After enjoying the wealth of goodness the team discussed the matter of the two goons. Watson insist that the matter be dealt with here and now. While Watt and Hyde sit silently by her and the Dr. Discuss the matter further and it's decided that they will wait another day to depart. Suddenly Hugo feels that odd tingle and reaches in his pocket and pulls out a small rolled up parchment. He unrolls it and reads it. Afterwards he sighs and stands up. I have to go back to the manor for a bit. Apparently the gnomes "accidentally" allowed their cider to harden. Alcohol is not permitted on the grounds. Hugo says as he steps away from the table. What do you do with the hard cider? questions the professor. I dispose of it and schedule a class for the gnomes with Mother Mary Mercy. answers Hugo. Oh, of course. Is it any good? I'm just curious. Watt ask. I don't drink but I've heard it's very sweet and got a powerful kick to it. Hugo says. I see. Says Watt. Hugo, I was wondering... Hugo smiles at the professor and says would you like a sample? Well, if it isn't any trouble and you are going to dispose of it anyways. Answers Watt. I'll see what I can do. Hugo answers as he takes out his red key and approaches the closet door.
Dr. Ghinton looks at Hugo and is very tempted to mention that some of the Cider could be transported to the Great Hall, but then resists the temptation of having the tasty beverage available to his whim.
He resumes sipping his morning coffee and reminds himself that he is stronger than his craving for alcohol.
Shortly after breakfast.
Dr. Ghinton decides to ask Mrs Shell if she might be willing to set the controls for the back door of the Blue Maiden to transport him back to the Great Hall for a short time.
She willingly agrees and leads the good doctor to the kitchen area and then into the mud room to the door way.
She turns and adjusts some dials concealed behind a panel on the wall, and the door turns yellow in color with a very fine line of white light around it.
She explains to the doctor that if he wishes to return to the Blue Maiden he simply needs to return to the location in which this door is located at the destination. That he will have 30 minutes to return.
She also explains, that if he should go over his time limit, he has the means to contact one of his team at the maiden and she can reset to doorway for his later arrival.
Dr. Ghinton thanks Mrs Shell for her explanation and her generosity.
Doctor Ghinton opens the door and steps through the established portal into the Great Hall main hallway. He’s only a few feet from the door to his chambers there and he quickly makes his way into his suite.
As he enters his suite, he approaches his Memoirs Cabinets and uses the code to open it. He reaches in and retrieves a locket. The locket contains the only known image of his dear mother, long since gone. He then turns to the corner of the room where he has a multitude of Walking sticks and leaves the one he is currently carrying in the stack. His intention is to purchase a new one while in Nuremberg to add to his collection. He had notices a very fine stick in a window of a shop as they made their way to the Blue Maiden. He intends to return to collect it as soon as he arrives back at the Maiden.
He returns to the memoir cabinet and closes and locks the cabinet, then moving to his journals cabinet. Again using the dialed lock he releases the cabinet for access.
He places the most recently completed journal on the shelf and collects a new journal for the continued trip. His journals are the best means for maintaining his place in the time line. Protected from aging and distortion due to time travel and shifts in dimension and space.
Dr. Ghinton then makes his way back to the location of the Blue Maiden’s back door and steps back through. There, stands Mrs Shell and she smiles and then adjusts the dials to close the portal.
“I hope you found what you needed, good sir.” Says Mrs Shell.
Dr. Ghinton replies: “Yes, my dear, with ease, and thank you for your aid in completing the task.”
Both smile and head back to the parlor of the house.
Dr. Ghinton, quickly tips his hat at the front door and steps out. He is on his way to purchase the new walking stick.
No more than a block from the Blue Maiden, the Doctor glances up and see the two Bumbling Fools, Spike and Hammer, standing on the side of the street. Both have their backs to the Doctor, so he simply side steps them. There would be no need to engage, especially now that the Doctor has no means of self protection at his side. (walking stick)
Dr. Ghinton retrieves his desired walking stick from the shop. A fine item with a bright and shiny wolfs head as a handle.
He then carefully makes his way back to the Blue Maiden and relays his findings to the rest of the STEAM team.
Dr. Ghinton and Ms Watson decide to make their way to the constables office and report the matter of being stalked by Spike and Hammer.
When they arrive at the constables office, Ms Watson takes the lead in explaining the circumstances, and translates back what is being said by the commander of the station. Most of the dialog is in German.
After a few intense moments, the constable calls over several officers and instructs them to not only watch for the two gentlemen in question, but also too apprehend and bring them in. A description is given in detail.
As the Doctor and Ms Watson step out of the station they see Professor Watt and Mr Hyde standing at the base of the stone stairs case leading up to the constables station.
Ms Watson and the Doctor approach them and the doctor addresses Professor Watt. “Watt, is there a way you can use what you have learned from the Prism Trap to create a smaller but more feasible transportable device?”
Professor Watt looks up and smiles and says; “Glad you asked good sir. I have indeed been working on such a device. I happen to have a prototype here with me at this very moment. It’s a small but functional mechanism. You simply press this button, as he produces the device from his pocket, and toss it on the ground at the feet of your target, and the device opens with a shimmering energy net which engulfs the target. Once the electronic net has come together, the target is encased in an electrical field, that produces as stunning effect and reduces in size incrementally as long as the subject struggles.”
Dr. Ghinton looks at Professor Watt and says; “and too remove said device?”
“Well sir, says Watt, I haven’t yet figured out that part, but the power source is limited to 2 to 3 hours and eventually will shut itself down, depending on how much the subject struggles.”
Dr. Ghinton pauses for a few moments and smiles. “Make up several of these my good fellow, I believe we will need a minimum of a half dozen for our near future. I have little faith in the ability of our local constabulary to quickly remedy to situation with Spike and Hammer. This trinket you have made, may be our solution, in the long form.”
The Doctor then turns to Mr Hyde and asks; “If it would not be of too much trouble, when we encase Spike and Hammer in one or two of Professor Watt’s Electric Web, May we transport them to the Manor for safe keeping until we return to the Hall and secure them permanently.” Ghinton smiles devilishly and says; “Maybe a session or two with Mother Mercy while they are at the manor would serve the unruly gentlemen well?”
Mr Hyde nods in the affirmative and the group picks up and begins to walk back toward the location of the Blue Maiden.
Upon arrival, Professor Watts takes leave of the group and is transported back the Great Hall to work on the Electric Web Devices. Due to the settings of the portal, he’s gone barely an hour and returns with 8 devices. “These should do the trick” says Professor Watt. As he hands them off to Dr Ghinton.
Mr Hyde, contacts his peers at the Manor and makes a request to have a special retaining room for the future guests of the Manor established. Mother Marcy is pleased that she will have some new pupils to instruct and has promised not to be too aggressive in their future education.
The day is productive to say the least. It is barely 1pm and so much has been accomplished by the team.
STEAM decides that they will pursue the duo the following day but this evening they'll just relax. Ghinton suggests a burlesque show that he saw advertised while he was out earlier. Watson and Watt decline the invitation and state they've decided to partake in tea and a game of chess. Hugo decides to go reluctantly. You know doc, if Mother Mary Mercy finds out about this I'll have to attend one of her classes. Hugo states. Your secret is safe with me friend. Ghinton assures him. They reach their destination, buy their ticket and step into the theater. The show is lavish, gaudy and as fantastic as could be expected. Ghinton and Hyde come out of the theater laughing and slightly embarrassed. Hugo suddenly drops his popcorn and grabs the good doctor's arm and points down the darken street. The shapes of the two men are unmistakable. It's Spike and Hammer.
Let's end this now. Ghinton says as he steps forward. Hugo grabs his arm once more and in a low voice says; “just us?”
Of course. You're not afraid are you? Ghinton asks.
I've been known to lay a few eggs in the past. Hugo replies.
Ghinton pulls his arm free and starts walking towards the men. “Excuse me gentlemen. Are you looking for us?” Ghinton calls out.
Spike laughs and says look here Hammer, they're coming to us. They know when they are beat.
The two brutes rush Ghinton and Hyde.
Spike grabs Hugo by the lapels of his heavy coat and lifts him off the ground.
Hugo fumbles in his red cross satchel and produces one of Watt's devices but before he can activate it spike throws him like a bag of flour. Hugo bounces and rolls across the street. He's reeling but sees Spike approaching.
Hugo quickly pushes the red button on the device and rolls it toward Spike's feet. There's a sudden flash and Spike is inside the net. He lifts his arms in the net and the net gets tighter and heavier. After a few more attempts to free himself, Spike is flat on the ground. “Get them hammer!” Spike screams.
Meanwhile Ghinton and Hammer are exchanging blows. Neither have connected but they continue to swing. Finally Ghinton comes down with a solid thud on top of Hammer's head with his heavy silver wolf's head cane.
Without thinking hammer goes to rub it and strikes himself with his own hammered fist. While he's shaken, the good doctor takes the opportunity to deploy a net and Hammer is also subdued.
Hugo quickly walks over to a business that's closed for the night and uses the red key.
A moment later he steps out with Junior.
Junior walks over to Hammer and picks him up and throws him over his shoulder. Hammer screams primal screams but it does him no good.
Lore appears in the doorway and though he won't step through he sees to the one called Spike. Long branch like tentacles wrap around Spike, lifting him and pulling him towards the door. They're both screaming for mercy.
“If you think you're scared now wait until you meet Mother Mary Mercy.” Hugo says.
He pulls out a piece of parchment and a pen. Using the doctor's back for a writing surface he scribbles a note. Hugo hands it to Lore and instructs him to give it to Mother. He then closes the door and secures the red key back in place.
The two gentlemen retrieve their hats off the ground and proceed back to the Blue Maiden. “The gang's not going to believe this doc.” Hugo breaks the silence. “You may be right this time my friend.” Ghinton answers.
Over breakfast Ghinton and Hyde relay their tale of apprehending the bumbling duo, Hammer and Spike.
Ms Watson is a little put out that she wasn’t able to be involved in the apprehension. She had specific ideas about what needed to happen to the the gents in question.
As soon as they finished their breakfast, it was time to depart the Blue Maiden for the Coach house.
Ms Watson and Professor Watt has decided to stay behind to do some added research about the Hoia-Baciu Forest. Ms Watson has heard many tales from Professor Watt about the rumor and lore of the location, but she is in doubt of their authenticity. Added research is the only way to satisfy Ms Watsons curiosity, other than, of course, actually experiencing the location first hand. Which she intends to do at some later date. But for now, research and discussion are going to have to suffice.
At an undetermined point in the near future, Dr. Ghinton and Mr Hyde will encounter the Blue Maiden again and the four shall rejoin forces to face the tasks previously planned. With that in mind, Mr Hyde and Doctor Ghinton head off to board the coach for the next leg of the journey. Their next destination is Passau, which will be yet another stay overnight.
As the two approach the coach house, Dr. Ghinton reaches into his pocket and discovers a slip of paper in it.
On the paper is a hand written note.
“So with ease, you capture the clods
Not for my sake you mastered no sods
We shall soon meet once more in the dark
You’ll hear from me, beware of the park.
Dr. Ghinton is unnerved to think that their nemesis had gotten so close as to place the note in his pocket. Did it happen during the scuffle with Hammer and Spike?
He shows the paper to Hyde. Mr Hyde is equally unnerved.
They board the carriage and leave Nuremberg behind, as they pull off into the distance, Dr. Ghinton looks toward the location of the Blue Maiden and watches as she fades into the fog.
The journey is once again bumpy and seemingly rushed. The new driver isn’t overly cautious about the roots and holes on the roadway and it is felt in the cabin of the carriage.
Dr. Ghinton looks to Mr Hyde and strikes up a conversation about the forest. “What do you expect to find in the forest ahead, sir?” Says Ghinton.
Mr Hyde, looks up from his paper and says, “Trouble, there’s always trouble just down the lane or around the corner. We do our best to side step it, but when dealing with the world outside of the Manor, there’s just trouble.”
Dr. Ghinton takes a moment to consider the response, and then states, “Don’t you think we create to a degree the circumstances we find ourselves in? After all, we can always hide ourselves away and ignore the larger situation and focus only on the smaller experience.”
Mr Hyde responds, “We can’t do that sir. If we hide away, then there will be no one willing to face the demons and the darkness. We have to be the ones to stand up. We may not enjoy the tasks, we may even find them draining and despicable, but we have to fight the demons. And not every demon appears to be the dark things depicted in picture books. Some look like natural men. So we have to figure out who is who and what is what, then make the choice to put it to an end.”
Dr. Ghinton looks and Hyde and smiles. Deep in side he knows there’s more to the old chap than just cashews and sour balls. He’s got some guts.
The conversation concludes with Hyde’s response. Dr. Ghinton contemplates his companions response a while longer and then once again returns to peering out the window of the carriage.
As the coach travels along the rough road way, it begins to rain. Rain is never a good sign when traveling by carriage. Especially on old roads which have a tendency to become mud troughs rather than by-ways.
The rain increases to a full on storm. Lightening flashes and the rain falls in massive quantities. The coach continues to slow down. Soon to a full stop. The driver, comes down from his perch and enters the cabin. Soaked to the bone, and apologetic. He say he can’t go further until the rain breaks. It’s impossible to see and the risk is far too great.
Dr. Ghinton and Mr. Hyde welcomes the gent in and acknowledges that this is a requirement.
We’ve come to a complete halt in our journey. Some place between Nuremberg and Passau Germany.
After several hours of intense down fall, the rain finally breaks. The driver announces that we will be slowed down considerably due to the wet conditions. The road will be slick and even more treacherous.
Dr. Ghinton and Hyde acknowledge the news and accepts the circumstances.
Soon night fall comes. The driver is continuing to do his best to get us to our next stop. Mr Hyde, looks out the coach window and comments on how bright the moon light is.
Dr. Ghinton takes a glance and resettles in his seat.
The two gents in the coach are suddenly on edge, as they both hear the sounds of wolves in the near by forest. They are close and the cries of the wolves seem to be getting closer.
The coach suddenly speeds up. Mr. Hyde looks out the window and explains. “There are wolves!”
Dr. Ghinton leans forward and also takes a peek and sure enough a pack of black wolves are now running in the wooded landscape just outside the coach. They aren’t coming closer, but they are escorting the carriage along its path. The driver is shouting something at them. We aren’t sure what is being said, but it sounds urgent and intense.
Soon, we cross into a clearing and the wolves do not follow. We are entering into Passau and the wolves do not seem to want to follow any further into the city.
We arrive at the coach house, the driver comes down and apologizes for the delays and intensity of the trip. Dr. Ghinton pats the fellow the back and hands him a small token to pay him for his work in keeping them safe from the wolves. “Take this my good man, it’s not nearly enough to say thank you.” Says Ghinton.
Now, we have arrived in Passau, the two gents, Hyde and Ghinton make their way down the street. Seeking out a place to rest for the night. A hostel is soon found, not like the Blue Maiden, but it will do for the night. A short night at that, it’s nearing midnight.
The two gents get keys to their rooms and head off to rest. Tomorrow will bring sunshine, they hope, and another leg of the journey to place behind them.
The next morning Ghinton and Hyde decide to partake of breakfast before continuing their journey. They find a decent restaurant and settle into a booth and order their breakfast.
While eating the silence is broken by a familiar voice. Scoot over doodle. Leona says as she uses her hip to push Hugo further into the booth. She pulls Hugo's plate in front of her, she looks at the hot cakes and bacon. Leona scarfs down her first piece of bacon and is starting on her second when she turns to Hugo. You know doodle, we're going to have to work on your diet.
“You're not my mother,” Hugo replies.
You're right, I'm Leona. Leona says with a sheepish smile.
Suddenly the House Matron steps up to the booth and exclaims; “her kind isn't welcome here.”
What is her kind? Ghinton ask.
Vagabonds, tramps. Says the matron.
She's our guest. Ghinton replies.
I don't care who she is.
Suddenly Hugo pulls out the bishop's wallet. It was given to him by Bishop Twilight. It always has the currency of wherever they are in it and it's never empty but there is a daily limit on how often it can be used. Hugo pulls out three bills and tosses them on the table. Is it okay for her to stay now? Hugo ask.
The matron picks up the bills and puts them in his apron. As long as she's with you I guess I can allow it.
Leona growls at her as she walks away.
So why are you here? I'm sure it isn't to discuss Hugo's eating habits. Ghinton says.
Leona smiles and says No. I heard you met the scouts last night.
The scouts? Hugo ask.
Yes, the wolves. They were just sent to observe you but the closer you get to the patch the more there will be and the more dangerous also. Leona says. You must be careful. Besides, Maeva wants to meet you doctor.
Why? Ask Ghinton.
I don't know and it doesn't matter. Maeva is our clan's leader and that's all that matters. Now I must be off. Safe travels. Leona slides out of the booth and before she steps away she says next time order extra bacon doodles. Then she walks out the door.
She's quite the enigma. Ghinton says.
I don't know about that doc, but she sure is a mystery. Hugo says.
Ghinton looks at Hyde dryly and ask if he's finished. They pay their bill and head towards the coach house.
Dr. Ghinton and Mr Hyde, board the coach and begin their trek further along to Vienna, Austria. A grand city of lore and legend. The two gentlemen are eager to arrive. Hoping to stay in some lavish and historic location. The idea, if even considered, to have the opportunity to stay in a hostel with some history, might even out weigh the desire to seek respite in the Blue Maiden, if she too would appear in Vienna.
Onward the gents travel.
Hugo and Ghinton decide to travel by carriage instead of walking to the hotel due to the distance.
Ghinton quickly flags down a ride. The driver has deep scars on his face and a patch covering one eye. Ghinton simple says hotel imperial and he nods.
They two climb in and in no time pull up in front of the hotel imperial. Ghinton and Hugo get out and Hugo begins to get their bags.
“Could you get my bag Hyde?” Ghinton says.
The driver looks at the duo and quickly jumps down. He starts talking very rapidly in his native tongue. Suddenly he grabs Hugo by the lapels and his anger grows. He starts mentioning Edward Hyde and he smacks Hugo hard across the face. He releases Hugo to use his hands for his story. He points at himself and then makes a motion for small. His voice gets even louder as he he screams Edward Hyde and points at his scarred face. He then makes a hook out of his finger and makes a pulling motion then points at his eye.
Ghinton steps in and assures him that this isn't him. The irate man pushes the doctor back and grabs Hugo again.
Hugo tries to reason with the driver. I'm sorry for what happened. I promise you he has paid for his crimes. Hugo says but it doesn't matter.
The driver grabs his lapel again and starts slapping Hugo over and over.
Suddenly Hugo gets a look on his face the good doctor has never seen. Hugo suddenly grabs the man's hand and the sound of crunching follows. Hugo let's loose and begins smacking and backhanding the driver. “How do you like that. How does that feel.” Hugo says.
Ghinton puts his hand on Hugo's shoulder and says; “that's enough.”
Hugo changes his demeanor instantly. He releases the driver and the driver slides down the carriage. Hugo pulls out his wallet and tucks a few bills into the man's jacket. Hugo points at the driver and says to him and “don't expect a tip.” Hugo picks up his bag and turns to Ghinton. “Are you ready to check in doc?” Hugo asks.
“I think that would be an excellent idea Hugo.” Ghinton answers.
Dr. Ghinton and Mr Hyde turn to enter the Imperial.
The entry way is very detailed and elaborate, reminding the Doctor in a way, a smaller way, of the entry way of the Homes Hotel encountered in Chicago some months earlier.
The wood trim was exquisite and everything was in it’s proper place.
Rooms were available, and a bit on the pricey side, but Ghinton wasn’t concerned. He had wanted to experience something grand while in Vienna. And the hotel fit the bill.
As Mr. Hyde and the doctor ascended the staircase, Mr Hyde in the lead, it was noted by the doctor that Hyde was still annoyed with the event with the driver. The entire encounter had set him on edge. It was apparent in his stride as he moved up the stair case.
When the two gentlemen entered the hallways, the Doctor reaches out and placed his hand on Hyde's back and said; “Let it go my friend, we can’t be responsible for things which are beyond our grasp and time line.”
Mr Hyde turns slowly and nods, not ready to speak of the incident.
Ghinton says to Hyde; “When the time is right, we can discuss the circumstances which are behind the episode. I’m curious as to why the driver was so furious. But I don’t wish to press the issue at this point, due to it being some raw.”
Mr Hyde responds with a “thank you” and turns the key to his room.
Ghinton turns to the door across the hall and also enters
The room is perfect. Reminding Ghinton of his own room back at the Consortium. With fewer books and collections, but still reminiscent of the style in which the good doctor is accustomed.
Ghinton checks the time and sees it is nearly 10am. “Sounds like a perfect time for some tea.” Ghinton proclaims.
As the day creeps by, Dr. Ghinton is contemplating what preparations might need to be made in Budepest before heading onward toward the Bran Castle.
The journey has not been as easy and straight forward as Ghinton had intended. It’s been far too many days in journey and several delays, even tho they were required.
Ghinton is very away that everyone is tired, and ready to reach the castle and be done with this trip. There’s only so much small talk that can be held while locked in a coach, rambling through out the country side. Longing for home is a prominent condition.
Doctor Ghinton realizes he’s spending far too much time in his own head and needs a distraction. Maybe a walk through Vienna would serve him well. He grabs up his Journal and pencil and his hat and makes his way out of the the Imperial Hotel on his way to what ever he may find. He does leave word with the clerk at the desk to his where about. In case Mr Hyde wonders of his location.
Out the door and down the street the good doctor strides. Taking in all the shops and sights as he walks along.
He soon comes upon a pub, and decides it’s a proper day to step inside. His resolve is set to avoid alcohol. It has been a good period of time since he has taken a drop of the stuff and feels confident he can continue his winning streak.
He enters and instead of taking a seat at the bar, he selects a small table near the entry way. A gentleman approaches him and offers him a menu and a brief description of what is currently the put special. Dr. Ghinton nods and accept the recommendation.
Very shortly the waiter returns with a large bowl of Sheppards Pie and a glass of water.
Ghinton tastes the food and is impressed. Excellent flavor and wonderful consistency, perfect for and afternoon meal.
As Ghinton is eating, he begins to over hear some conversation from the gents at the bar.
He hears the phrase “Society of Shadows”, followed with the word “bounty” and also the phrase “two men already failed”. Dr. Ghinton is sure they are speaking of Hammer and Spike and the bounty which they had mentioned in previous encounters. But what is this “Society of Shadows” business.
Ghinton listens more closely. Hearing more details about the already established bounty.
One of the gentlemen speaks a bit louder and proclaims; “I want nothing to do with the Society. They are mad men filled with a determination to ruin the world. All of’m claim to be the same fellow and yet none of’m have been seen on the streets.”
Dr. Ghinton find the entire conversation intriguing and would hope to have a chance to learn more. But the gentlemen finish their ale and breaks apart heading off in their own directions.
The doctor does do something a bit out of character, after they have left the building. He approaches the Bar and asked the tender; “what is this business about a bounty and the Society of Shadows?”
The tender, raises and yes brow and state very clearly, “you don’t want nothin to do with that good sir. The Shadows are beasts from another world come to tear us all down. They are seeking another smaller group of gents who they think are gonna undo them instead. Take my words for it sir, leave the shadows alone and keep to your business.”
Dr. Ghinton thanks the tender, both in words and a modest tip, along with paying for his food.
The Doctor now has something further to look into.
Upon arriving back at the Imperial. He enters his room and uses the communications device to contact the Great Hall. One of the clerks responds with a confirmation of connection. Dr. Ghinton speaks clearly into the device, requesting information about the Society of Shadows. The clerk acknowledges the request for information and closes the channel.
The Doctor steps over to a chair and sets down, making some notes in his journal of the experience.
He then checks his watch and realizes It is near tea time. 4pm. And once again is up and on his way out to meet Hyde for tea, which is their ritual. Hyde seldom partakes of the tea, but does enjoy a sweet treat from time to time. Ghinton is still over full from his pie experience and plans only to partake of the tea to help settle it all out.
Hyde joins Ghinton for tea but decides to pass on the sweets and just have coffee.
"Are you alright my dear friend? It is so unusual for you to pass on sweets." Ghinton says to Hugo.
"I’m okay doc, I just have a slight headache. It happens every time when I get overly worked up." Hugo says.
"Have you heard from Watson and Watt? Hyde enquires from the good doctor.
"Not yet. I’m sure they are tidying up in their research about the legendary forest." Ghinton says.
"I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you three have a screw loose." Hugo continues. "We have a reason to visit the cursed patch but are you satisfied? No. You have to visit some haunted castle and the others want to see some haunted woods. Let’s skip both of them and just make a plan for a field trip to Ebony Manor and I can show you both. Safely."
Ghinton looks up and says; "you enjoy it as well Hugo."
"No. Nope. No." Hugo responded. "I go with you to try to keep you out of danger and I am terrible at my job."
Ghinton laughs. "Thank you for at least trying. Now here, have a tea cake." Ghinton says.
Hugo hesitates and then takes two.
Our stay in Vienna wasn’t as long or as enjoyable as the good Doctor had hoped for.
So, with reluctance but set determination, the Doctor and Hyde are off to the coach house once more. This time heading off to Budapest. A city stepped with much mystery and lore. From calculations made by Dr. Ghinton the trip from Vienna to Budapest would take 11 hours via coach, if the driver is careful.
As they approach the couch house, the gentlemen which had an encounter with Hugo the previous day was seated near the entry way. He looks up at Hyde with a scowl and yet keeps his tongue to himself. Not wishing to get another education at the hands of Hyde.
We enter and make our reservations. The coach will be leaving in about 30 minutes, and fortunate for the coach driver and house, we are the only paying travelers for that trip. Dr. Ghinton pays the clerk an extra 30% for making the arrangements on such short notice.
As they step out of the coach house, the beaten gentleman stands up, he approaches the good doctor and says in broken English; “you don’t know what atrocity you deal with sir, you should kill it rather than befriend it.”
Dr. Ghinton steps back a a step and glares as the old man and says, “one shouldn’t hold the children in contempt based on the fathers sin, regardless of what your so called good book my teach. So be off with you or you’ll end up with another lump on your head to go with the others.”
The old man waddles away and Dr. Ghinton and Mr Hyde prepare for the coach and begins to wait for it to be prepared.
Promptly in 30 minutes time the coach pulls around the corner and is ready to take on its passengers. Mr Hyde and the doctor enter the carriage and are seated.
The driver pops in the opening of the door and gives us his best greeting and expresses his intention of making the journey as quickly and safely as possible. He also enquires about our intentions in Budapest, and yet doesn’t wait for an answer. Dr. Ghinton makes a personal note of it, as his way to get an extra tip at the end of the journey. That in which Ghinton fully intends to do, if the trek is without incident and is prompt.
8:30 am sharp they are off and on the way to Budapest.
Ghinton and Hyde ride in silence for some time when Hugo finally breaks the silence. Doc, I’m sorry for my behavior yesterday. That isn’t the person I want to be known as. I understand why people resent the name of Hyde but I’m not Edward. Edward was an experiment gone terribly wrong. Grandpa was a charmer but he was a narcissist . He put he’s pleasures and desires first. He didn’t care who he hurt. Actually he got pleasure out of others pain. The bishop brought my grandmother to the manor for her safety. My father was the result of rape. Dad was a good man. He was taught and grew into a man of honor. Unfortunately he locked his heritage in the shadows and dim lighting. He looked scary but was a gentle man. I don’t know if that’s why mom left. Because she couldn’t handle dad’s appearance or maybe she couldn’t accept she birthed another Hyde. It doesn’t matter now anyways. I was conceived a Hyde but would like to think I have more Henry Jeckle in my blood. That’s why I choose to be a man of compassion not hate. I’m just blabbing on now. I just wanted to say I’m sorry doc. Ghinton sits in silence looking at his friend unsure what to say.
Dr. Ghinton sets and contemplated Hyde’s remarks. He finds himself thinking; We all strive to be better than our forefathers. Hugo is a prime example of that task. Hugo needs not live his life in shame of what he had no control over.”
He then leans forward and gets Hyde’s attention. “You sir are of good stock. Salvaged stock maybe, but good stock none the less. Jeckle would be proud of you, and in a way, he too is your grand parent. If we recall that history, Jeckle struggled with public ridicule long before his ambition brought Hyde into being. You do carry his gentleness with you. And that is to be admired. Do not let the hatred of those who do not know your full story to rule the day or even a moment. ”
Dr. Ghinton sets back in his seat and waits for Hyde to respond. There is silence for the moment. Possibly doubt, possibly disbelief, but the words needed to be spoken and spoken they were.
Dr. Ghinton gets a communique from the Great Hall.
The clerk speaking from the Wireless device informs the Doctor that the Society Of Shadows has in deed been behind the placement of a bounty on the STEAM team. But they received their orders to do so from yet another larger agency above them. The team of researchers are still working on finding that extra information, and will send word ahead as soon as discoveries are made.
The Wireless device goes quiet.
Dr. Ghinton looks over to Hyde and says: “Well, that’s not very helpful. Hopefully they can come forth with some added information and soon.”
Hyde peeks up and peers out from under the brim of his hat, a motion is made similar to a nod, but it is not clear if it was intentional or just the bouncing motion of the couch which caused it.
Hours tick away, Hyde indulges in a book along the way. Dr. Ghinton, once again finding himself wandering through sketchy memories in his own head.
He thinks a great deal about the shifting time lines and distortions that can be caused. He wonders for a moment if the STEAM team has already traveled this path and made alterations of a time line in action. But then settles himself to remember if they had done such a journey, the journals and recordings of it would have been found by the Great Hall. Their time and dimension records department has been most reliable in maintaining the multiple variations of the time and space. Continuity is a primary concern of the Consortium. We do not wish to break the future, while adjusting the past.
Hours later the Coachman brings the carriage to a stop. He climbs down and knocks on the door. Inviting the two gentlemen out to stretch their legs. He expresses that is won’t be long until they reach Budapest. He leans in as if to relay a secret and says: Beware of shadowy things in the corners of Budapest. People go missing, strange beasts are said to roam the ally ways at night and the witches are plentiful in the market place. What yours steps and it wouldn’t hurt to invest in some silver and a crucifix for added protection from unclean things in the night.”
Dr. Ghinton smiles and looks to Hyde. Hyde is visibly shaken and yet holds firm, allowing the Doctor to lead in the response.
Dr. Ghinton pats the driver on the shoulder and says without any concern; “That’s why we have come to Budapest, We are seeking to remove some of the darkness which wanders there.”
The driver raises his eye brows and turns, while doing so, he proclaims; “it is time to get on with our journey gentlemen, Shadows are waiting.”
Upon arrival at the coach house, The good Doctor and Mr Hyde pay the coachman an extra tip and turns to start on their way toward the housing district. Seeking a nice cosy hostel to rent for the evening. As they turn the corner a familiar sight comes into view. Once again, the Blue Maiden in seated on the side of the street. Mrs Shell smiling in her normal manner as the gents approach. “Good to see you again my lovelies” she proclaims.
As the doctor and Mr Hyde enters the foyer, there stands in equal grace is Ms Watson and Moxie. Smiling and welcoming us back into the house. Professor Watt is off in the parlor at present states Ms Watson. He’s equally glad to have you back with us. She Says.
Mrs Shell steps forward and lets the travelers know that their usual rooms are prepared and waiting. That supper will soon be on the table and she is looking forward to hearing all about our adventures between visits.
Dr. Ghinton and Mr Hyde, tip their hats and proceeds to their rooms to prepare for supper.
Nearly an hour is taken for the gents to freshen up and then they hear the bell, calling everyone to the dinner table.
Down the stairs and into the dinning room both Dr. Ghinton and Mr Hyde stroll. Mrs Shell placing the last of the delicacies on the table, just as they arrive.
Everyone is seated, and Dr. Ghinton looks at his friends and asks.. “So have we solved the worlds problem in our absence?”
Meanwhile, at the Blue Maiden...
A frown settled on Professor Watt’s brow as he contemplated his next move. Watson watched with amusement, the time he spent planning his next move shortened with each glass of wine he emptied.
Finally he moved his knight, “ha!” he cried triumphantly, grinning at Watson.
“Excellent choice,” she said, “but…,” she moved her queen, “checkmate,” she grinned at him.
“Bollocks,” he grumbled, refilling his wine glass.
“Tell me about the Hoia Bachu forest,” she said.
“Are you daft?! Why on earth would you want to visit there? That place is full of nasty things lurking in the dark! And besides, with all the reading you do, you’ve never heard of it?” he questioned.
“I have heard of it. And I believe there is mention of it in my grandfather’s journals as well. But I know that you have studied in great detail.”
He snorted, “which is exactly why I don’t want to go there. I prefer the comforts of my lab, where it is safe...and free of spooks!” he drained another glass of wine, “you know it is reported to be the most haunted area in the world.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“And you and your friends intend to go traipsing through there?! You’re all barking mad, you realize that, don’t you?”
She chuckled as she refilled her tea cup, “I’ve been called worse.”
“Abigail…,” he rarely used her first name, “lots of people have gone missing from there, never to be seen again. Search parties could find no sign of them….nothing.”
“So there have been people who entered the forest and found their way out?”
“Yes, but the stories they recounted,” he shuddered, “there are forces at work that are not of this earth.”
“I tend to believe there is a logical explanation for most everything.”
“How can you say that? Especially considering…,” he gestured towards Moxie with great flourish, “how do you explain her?”
Watson looked at the dog and smiled before handing her a treat, “I didn’t say there is a logical explanation for everything. I said most everything.”
“Fine, then wander into that cursed space and tell whatever ghoulish thing that you encounter that you don’t believe in it,” and then with a sigh, he sits back in his chair, looking at his glass and says, “from ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties, Lord deliver us,” and unceremoniously empties his glass.
“I have other abilities that can take care of ghosts and beasties,” Watson said, “and I have Moxie, she is very in tune with things that I cannot see or understand. She protects me, she will protect Ghinton and Hyde and she will protect you.”
“Poppycock! I am not going! No, no, no, nein, nyet, no way, no how, no!”
“But you have studied it in depth, tell me what you know, what you’ve read and what you have heard about it.”
“Well, then,” he filled his glass and sighed, “the forest covers an area of about 3 square kilometers. Its southern border begins on a ridge which runs east-west. It does not contain the steep southern slope of the hill, which rises from the Someșul Mic River. To the north, the forest ends on a smoother slope, which meets the Nadăș River. The eastern end of the forest is bordered by the Tăietura Turcului, an artificial valley that divides the hill from north to south and contains a traffic road. The west end of the forest reaches the northeastern slope of the Dealul Melcilor, nearby the Mujai Forest, which extends further westward. The Bongar valley runs along the south end of this side, which contains a downy oak grove unique to the southern steppe. Part of the northeastern end of the forest is bordered by Valea Lungă, which passes through Eocene limestone and forms Cheile Baciului, a valley with asymmetric slopes. A small natural lake is located upstream from Cheile Baciului, at the border of the forest. There are several springs with potable water at the north edge of the forest, în Valea Lungă.”
Watson had been taking notes as he spoke, when she stopped writing, she looked up, “I appreciate the geography lesson, now tell me the real story.”
“I’ll provide you with maps of the area as well.”
“Thank you, professor.”
Standing up, he starts to pace, “the trees...they don’t grow like other trees. They are not straight, but bend and spiral. Some have said it’s like their limbs are trying to reach out and touch you. And the spirals are not random, they all turn in a clockwise direction. Any scientist brave enough to enter the forest, cannot figure out why they grow in such an erratic way.”
“Fascinating,” Watson said, still furiously writing in her journal, “what else?”
“One section of the forest, which forms almost a perfect circle, is known as the dead zone. No vegetation grows there, nothing...nothing at all. The soil has been sampled and again, there are no answers as to why nothing can grow in this particular area. There’s also been strange activity reported…”
“Paranormal activity, otherworldly activity,” he drained another glass of wine, “anyone who has walked out of that forest all say the same thing...they suffer from severe anxiety, feel as though they are being watched and often leave with scratches and bruises without knowing how they got those injuries.”
She finished her notes, set down her pen and looked at him thoughtfully, “thank you, Professor. This will help immensely.”
“Well now you know why I don’t bloody well want to go!”
Watson chuckled jokingly, “a coward you are, my friend.”
“Yes and that is why I am still alive!”
After cheerful greetings the team is called to the table for supper and the conversation continues about the cursed forest. Hugo states that he agrees with Watt. Why is it necessary? Hugo ask. The adventure. The knowing of it all. Says Watson. Don't we know enough? We know to leave it alone. Hugo answers. It could prove valuable. Ghinton says. Us remaining alive could also be valuable. Watt says. Exactly. Hyde says. Ghinton talks let's put it to a vote. Should we visit the forest say yes. Ghinton and Watson says yes. Watt and Hugo sit silent. Suddenly moxie barks and Ghinton announces so it's settled. We visit the forest. Hugo lifts his cup of coffee and mutters, I've just been outvoted by a dog. Hugo sits down his coffee and says I just want you to know if you get me killed I'm going to find it very difficult to bring myself to sending you Christmas greetings.
What Ms Watson and Profoessor Watt did not know is that Mrs Shell was listening to their conversation. She herself was taking a few notes about the forest in question. Without a doubt she was sure, if needed, the Blue Maiden would be of use.
Near the end of dinner, as the team discuss the findings and folklore of the forest ahead. It’s a very amusing and expressive discussion to witness.
Dr. Ghinton sets back and watches the very animated conversation and think he will enjoy the next leg of the adventure. It’s going to be a wonderful study of human psychology and hysteria. The tension in the room is already high enough that some members of the team may have trouble sleeping the night.
After the conversation slows. Dr. Ghinton gets the attention of his dinner mates and asks if they might be interested in stepping out for an evening of sight seeing. A casual walk might do everyone a bit of good.
“Who knows what adventure we might find in the evening streets of Budapest?” Says Ghinton.
Ms Watson, Mr Hyde and Dr. Ghinton agree that a casual walk might do them good. Professor Watt declined to join the three due to once again enjoying the wine and found himself in need of a nap in his room. Mrs Shell assisted the good fellow up the stairs with unbelievable grace. “She is quite strong for a woman of her apparent age.” Says Ghinton. Ms Watson chimes in with a reminder, “she’s a construct, good sir, she has unknown limits.”
So, the trio collects their belongings, grabs their walking sticks and places their hats in prime position and makes way out the door. Mrs Shell speaks from the foot of the stairs, to remind them that the door shall be open for them upon their return. “Please speak up if one should need anything.” She states.
They walk a few blocks and discover a Street Market. Fascinated at the fact it is still open in spite of the hour, it is soon learned that this market keeps late hours on Friday and Saturdays of every week. Giving those in town for the weekend, a chance to shop.
The trio is most amused at the oddities and wares being offered by the vendors. Dr. Ghinton spies a new scarf to keep the chill away and quickly purchases it. Immediately placing it around his collar with much enthusiasm.
Ms Watson flips through a pile of delicate sinks and linens. Looking very much as if she may be planning to have a new coat or Skirt fashioned from something in the heap. She has a fancy for the bright colors, but seldom ventures in that arena for personal attire. Keeping to her regular blacks and grays for public presentation. She wishes to be take seriously when interacting with officials, very seriously.
Ghinton looking up from his current position seeks out to locate Mr Hyde, and quickly discovers him over at the roasters. He’s selecting a new assortment of cashews and Macadamia Nuts for the journey planned for tomorrow.
Dr. Ghinton next steps to a Silver Smith and finds a wonderful flask. But instead of purchasing it for himself, he think this one would make for a gift to Professor Watt. After all, the Professor would be the most likely to appreciate such a gift at this time. It a bit larger than the average flask, and seems solid enough. The doctor hands the gentleman some coin and the flask is pocketed.
Hugo is filled with excitement upon entering the street market. He feels like a boy in a toy store. He walks with his companions and watches Ghinton as he buys a beautiful scarf. Hugo smells something vaguely familiar and realizes the vender across the way is roasting chestnuts. Hugo decided to buy some for the journey ahead, the are a must. Next to this vendor is another selling spices and Hugo buys several bags of salt and a bag of the hottest paprika they offer. After putting them in his satchel he catches up to his friends. They are looking at a booth of a silversmith and as usually Hugo becomes fidgety and wonders over to a fur dealer.suddenly it catches his eye. The hat. It is a skunk skin hat with the tail still attached and a leather bill. He considers the purchase and the impulse to have it overcomes him. He pays the vender and adds it to his satchel . He giggles to himself and says ain’t I a little stinker. He once more catches up to the gang and points towards a tent. Look doc, a fortune teller. Suddenly someone puts their hands upon the two gentlemen’s shoulders and a familiar voice says,Do not trust them. They will tell you what you want to hear. Trust in yourselves during this journey. They both turn their heads and Hugo shouts Leona. She smiles and says to Hugo aren’t you going to introduce metro your friends? Hugo says yes, of course, where are my manners. You already meet the doc and this is the brilliant Watson. Suddenly there is a small bark and Hugo adds and of course moxie. I’m so glad to meet Hugo’s family. I know he in good hands. May I join you on your walk. Of course. Says Ghinton. Perhaps we will find a vender selling sausages. I am hungry and maybe we can share a sausage Hugo. Leona says. Hugo blushes and the group continues their exploration of the market.
After securing her purchases and letting Moxie down to sniff and explore, Watson stood on the fringe of the few people who had gathered to watch the current “find the queen” card shuffling game that was in play. The man who had stepped up to challenge with the card shark had already lost the money that had been in his hand and was digging in his pockets when his very annoyed wife stormed up and grabbed him by the ear, dragging him off while firmly scolding him. Watson chuckled and was about to step away when the card dealer called to her.
“Try your luck, miss?” he asked with a charming smile.
Watson looked down at Moxie before shrugging and stepping forward. She placed her money on the barrel next to the table, “let’s do this,” she said with a smile.
The man shuffled the cards with rapid fire dexterity, finally stopping and looking at Watson, “where’s the queen?”
Watson pointed to the card on the left, “she’s there.” She was amused to see the man’s smile falter as he reached for the card on Watson’s right. She held her hand up, stopping him, “your other left.”
He faked a smile and lifted up the card Watson had picked, revealing the queen, “looks like you’ve won, miss,” he tossed some money on top of hers, but stopped her when she reached for it, “double or nothing?”
Watson nodded, “after you,” she wasn’t surprised when one of the man’s friends did his best to distract her during this next shuffle. She was fairly sure she knew where the queen had landed, but grinned as Moxie stepped forward and placed her paw under the queen. Watson pointed and laughed as the man shook his head, doubled her money and handed it to her.
“Would you be offended if I asked you to move on?” he asked.
Watson laughed again, “not at all. I understand,” she nodded as she pocketed her money and headed off with Moxie at her side. They stopped at the local candy maker and purchased some goodies for the road, then found some treats for Moxie to enjoy before catching up with her friends.
At the entrance of the market the group stops momentarily. Will you be okay Leona? Do you have somewhere to stay. Hugo ask. I'll be fine. Don't worry. Leona answers. Hugo interjects I'll escort you to a hotel and pay for a room. My, my, my aren't you an eager one and so self assured. Leona says with a sheepish smile. No. I meant... Hugo is cut off. I know what you meant but I'll be fine. You two keep an eye on him for me. Leona says as she skips down the street. They watch as she turns the corner. Well, I guess we should head back to the maiden. Ghinton says.
The trio of shoppers begin to head back toward the Blue Maiden.
It’s dark, the streets seem even darker than expected. The only lights visual are those few candles burning in windows of the homes and apartments along the street side. It’s as if some type of veil is hanging over the city causing even the stairs to be dim. There is no visible moon to help light the way, either. Only darkness.
Dr. Ghinton is not a stranger to dark places. He has seen a number of them in various ways during his adventures growing up and in various time lines. But this was unnerving. The darkness seemed heavy. Like liquid in the air.
At one point as they turn a corner, the Doctor stops dead in his tracks, believing he saw something just ahead. Something even darker than the atmosphere surrounding them. No sound is heard. None. No sounds at all. It’s as if the darkness was consuming even the very sound of Dr. Ghinton’s own breath.
The three begin to walk again, further into the darkened alley way. Ghinton reaches in to his satchel and pulls out his electric torch. Flips the switch and the light comes up, but it does a poor job of illuminating the alleyway. Again, as if the darkness itself is consuming the light.
Another turn is made. Another dark corridor of buildings, walls, and cobbled streets is encountered. Again, the doctor is sure he sees something just ahead. In his mind he’s questioning himself, as to what it might be. Could it be another vampire, come to attack them? Maybe a rogue lycanthrope stalking them as they head back to safety? A Bandit seeking to rob them their recent acquisitions? Maybe it’s another manifestation of Spring Heeled Jack coming out of the shadowy corners to tease and taunt them once again? Regardless Dr. Ghinton needs to keep his wits about his situation. Making unfounded judgements at this present time isn’t good for his companions nor for his own perspective of self. Fear does not suit the good doctor well.
Further down the streets they travel and finally coming in sight of the Blue Maiden. The doctor picks up his pace just a tiny bit. He’s quietly glad to have reached her safety. He’s hopeful the others in the party did not notice his concern for their safety on such a short walk.
As they step onto the front stoop of the Maiden, another shadow is seen sweeping by on the street behind them. No source can be determined, just a detached shadow swiftly moving past the house, as if to signify that it was not afraid to be seen, or felt. The Doctor was sure he had seen a specter and it was sure it had seen him as well. Dr. Ghinton turns and enters the Blue Maiden and hangs his coat and hat.
Watson and Ghinton wait patiently for Hugo in the foyer of the maiden to start their trip to find a coach for their further journey. Hugo bounds down the stairs to join them. Both Watson and Ghinton stare at Hugo until Ghinton finally talks up. What is on your head? Ghinton ask Hugo. Hugo touches is newly acquired skunk skin cap. It’s my new hat. I like it myself. Hugo says. It definitely matches your humor. Watson says. See doc even Watson says it reflects my…..HEY!!! Hugo quirks. Is that it’s face? Ghinton ask. Hyde nods. Change your hat. Ghinton tells hyde. But I like it doc. Hugo whines. I said take it off and put your cap back on. I will not be in a coach for hours with that thing staring at me. Ghinton says with authority. I agree Watson says and moxi barks in agreement. Hugo reluctantly places it back his satchel and pulls out his cap. That’s better. Now let us waste no more time on such foolishness. Ghinton says as he walks towards the door.
With Professor Watt deciding to stay behind and have Mrs Shell open a passage way to his Lab.
Dr. Ghinton turns to walk out the door of the Blue Maiden, Biding farewell to Mrs Shell on the porch as they head off to the coach house. Suddenly, Ghinton stops, turns to Mr Hyde and says; “Mr Hyde, please take your cap back our of your satchel and wear it. It’s something that makes you smile and demonstrates your character, so please wear it with pride.”
Mr Hyde looks at Ghinton for a second, and reaches into the satchel reluctantly, pulls out the skunk skin cap and returns his Apple Jack to the bag. He positions the skin cap on his head, still looking at Ghinton, never breaking eye contact. Wondering what the old man is intending on doing.
Dr. Ghinton Smiles and calmly turns to lead the way to the coach house.
At one point it is observed that as they walk down the street, Many of the towns people part, opening a path for them to pass. It resembles very much so, the story of the parting of the Red Sea. Not a single person says a word. They all watch and make no comment.
At one point it is observed that Mr Hyde takes the lead, proud and boastful as he walks along, leading the way.
Dr. Ghinton and Ms Watson walk behind him, smiling and enjoying the idea that Hyde is in all his glory, feeling most accomplished and no one is going to challenge him on it.
We arrive at the coach house and make our arrangements. A coach is brought around to take us to Cluj-Napoca. The driver is a young fellow. Seems a bit unsure of himself, but insists he can make the journey in good time. The coach clerk looks over to Mr Hyde and nods and returns his gaze to Dr. Ghinton, “we shall give you a lower rate, we admire the man with the cap, he’s strong character and we like his strength of will”
Ghinton, stunned and amused turns to Hyde and nods and smiles even larger.
Hyde is standing holding both his lapels, smiling ear to ear and looking around like a true aristocrat admiring the surroundings.
As the trio once again boards the coach, there is a feeling of unrest that comes over the doctor. Something is once again just on the outer edge of his senses.
The coachman pulls out of the station house lot and the journey is underway.
This leg of the trip to Cluj-Napoca will take them through the Hoia-Baciu Forest, and all the chatter about the mysterious energies of the forest might be what is throwing Ghinton off center. He quietly hopes that the stories all prove to be hype and wives tales. But even a good ghost story is often based on some variation of truth. Only the story itself has been exaggerated and blown far out of reason. Dr. Ghinton quiets his nerves by allowing himself to believe this is the case with Hoia-Baciu Forest. “It’s only an exaggeration.”
Several hours of small talk and chit chat takes place. The trip is going along fairly quickly.
Suddenly as the coach begins to enter into the forest and it seems to become darker. Cloud cover has become dense and it has blocked the suns light. A mysterious fog also comes creeping in around the carriage, which is extremely bazaar due to it being mid day and the conditions do not fair well for such an occurrence.
The coach comes to an abrupt halt.
The driver comes to the door, visibly shaken and proclaims we can go no further into the forest. The road way has been blocked with entangled branches and there is no way around them.
The light becomes a bit more dim and there is heard some odd loud growling coming from the nearby forest landscape.
The driver, obviously now scared beyond his wits, turns and bolts. He starts running in the opposite direction of the loud sound, which takes him into another section of the forest.
Dr. Ghinton opens the door to the carriage and steps out, with his companions quickly following. Very disappointed in the abrupt actions of the driver, Ghinton simply stands and stares in the direction the gentleman fled. The three, Ms Watson, Mr Hyde and Dr. Ghinton come together to discuss their plight.
As Mr Hyde, Ms Watson and the doctor are standing on the side of the road, discussing their situation. The three decide to attempt to turn the carriage around and Mr Hyde is chosen to drive the coach back to Budapest. Mr Hyde isn’t pleased with the concept. He protests heavily and suddenly, Ms Watson Speaks up. “Oh for Pete’s Sake, I can drive the darned thing.” And moves to grab the harness of the horses to run them about.
We, or shall we say, Ms Watson, manages to get the coach turned. And we spend an additional minute chatting about our misfortune. When there is heard yet another louder growl from the forest surrounding us. The horses, become frightened and without warning begin to run. In spite of ourselves, we fail to catch them and calm them. We are no truly abandoned.
We are three travelers on the road side, in the Hoia-Baciu Forest, with no other means of transport but to walk.
We decide that going back to Budepest is not an option. So we decide to walk into the forest and attempt to go around the blockage of the road way.
We intend to stay as close together as possible. For fear of becoming separated and lost in the wood.
Slowly we step off the road way and into the brush and bramble of the forest. It’s growing even more dark. Almost as if it is far later in the day than it is. Nearly nightfall as it appears.
Dr. Ghinton grumbles about not grabbing his umbrella. “It’s going to rain without a doubt.”
Ms Watson, trudges onward, making notations about the sun, or lack of, and the cloud cover. “It’s hard to get a sense of our direction without knowing the position of the sun at this point, We may be walking in circles.”
Mr Hyde, obviously on edge, keeps his eyes open and watches in various directions as if he is expecting an attack at any moment. “I just don’t care for this, this isn’t part of the plan, I didn’t sign up for any of this and someone needs to contact the Bishop and let him know that I am not happy with this assignment.” All spoken with great haste and detest.
The three journey onward in to the forest. It grows darker and the fog becomes even more dense.
At one point, Dr. Ghinton stops; He turns to speak to his fellow adventurers, to find that neither Watson or Hyde are behind him. He calls out and gets no response. He yells louder and still not response.
He begins to back track himself, thinking they must have stopped without warning and are just a few feet behind. Nothing to be found of them. Dr. Ghinton is concerned for their well-being as well as for his own. Ghinton is alone in the Hoia-Baciu Forest.
Dr. Ghinton attempts to get his bearings once again, and looks to his right and can see the entanglement of branches still to his right side. They have been the guide for the last several hundred yards. They just continue through the landscape as if to form a barrier of fencing to keep travelers from going any further. He hopes that the others are using the same markers to help guide them and will eventually come together on the other side of the blockage
Further he walks into the forest. Occasionally stopping to yell for his companions. And still receiving no response.
The woods have become dark. Dark as night, The fog is still very thick and Ghinton is still walking. He soon comes to a clearing in the forest. It’s still quiet and nothing is heard. No wind, nor sound of beast. It’s dead quiet.
He decides to take a few minutes to rest. It’s unnerving to be alone in any forest, and yet this one has a special quality that makes it 100 times more uncomfortable. He checks his pocket watch to find that it is only 4 o’clock. Not nearly late enough for it to be this dark, he thinks to himself.
As he is taking a moment to rest and leaning upon a tree, he becomes aware of a shadowy area, just a bit darker than the already dark surroundings. It moves switches from left to right. Unnaturally.
Ghinton is on guard. Unsure if this is some night creature come calling or a specter. The stories from previous talks run rapidly through his head.
He once again attempt to settle and rest against the tree. And once again, his senses are overwhelmed. He thinks he hears a familiar giggle in the distance. The laughter of Ol’Jack. And his body jumps to attention both in fear of being found without support in the forest with the maniac, and anger that he isn’t prepared.
Ghinton decides to walk further on. In spite of his concerns.
He starts walking in the dark. Once again he sees the shadow. He pulls out his torch and turns it on and points it in the direction of the shadow and find nothing but trees. Oddly shaped trees. Twisted and distorted.
Dr. Ghinton begins to walk even faster, the light from he torch helping to guide his foot falls. He can still see the barrier to his right. He then stops. dead in his tracks. A solid shadowy forms directly in front of him. It is without a doubt a human form shrouded in shadows. It stands there, gazing back at him. He’s motionless, aware of his heart beating rapidly and a slight sense of nausea comes over him. He is petrified and motionless.
The figure doesn’t move. Even when the breeze blows by Ghinton, he observes no motion from the shroud around the figure.
Dr. Ghinton then turns and begins to move swiftly in the opposite direction, only to be confronted by yet another shadowy figure. Very much like the previous. Dr. Ghinton turns and points the light in the direction he had just come from and there in the distance remains the previous entity.
Ghinton has become blocked on his path. Surrounded one might say.
After a moment of thought, Ghinton bolts off into yet a different direction. Not exactly a full run, but moving much quicker than the old gentleman has moved in some time.
He’s heading in a direction away from the barrier and through some dense brush. He comes to a clearing and there seems to be a slight glow coming from an undisclosed location. It appears the area itself is glowing. The fog is not present in the clearing as well. It is bare soil. Dark and sandy.
Looking upward the trees part to reveal a clear view of the clouded sky.
But Ghinton still feels uneasy. Something is far more worse to be found in the clearing than in the forest. He determines in his head the best direction to go and crosses the clearing. Back into the forest he steps, soon to relocate the twisted branches of the barrier. He reclaims his progress on the pathway.
And once again, it’s dark, foggy and ahead he hears a giggle. Ghinton continues to walk. Clutching his cane with the intent to leave a mark on who or whatever it I that is tormenting him.
He walks with intention onward and forward.
As he has kept a good pace and not discovered any further shadow being. He still feels an uneasy nausea about the situation. He turns a slight corner around an outcropping of brush and there in front of him, once again stands a shadow. This time the shadow rises and arm and slowly begins to drift toward the good doctor. Ghinton raises his cane and then turns to run.
He runs a short distance and finds himself winded. He slows his pace and as he comes round a very large tree, there, setting like a dream, is the Blue Maiden. Very out of place and yet very much a vision to behold.
Mrs Shell standing on the porch summons the good doctor to come on to the porch and says, “I’m glad I found you, the beings who occupy this land are not pleasant, and are only interested in increasing their number. Now go have some tea and catch your breath.”
Ghinton looks back in the direction of the path he had taken and see a multitude of shadow beings standing just outside the fence line of the Blue Maiden. He has a few comments to make concerning their presence, but choses not to share them in the presence of Mrs Shell, for it would be rude and uncouth.
Concerning Professor Watt: Two evenings before the company of Dr. Ghinton departed for the haunted forest, Professor Erazmus Watt gathered the members of S.T.E.A.M. in the parlor of the Blue Maiden for a discussion over tea about his eminent departure from the troop. Watt informed his fellows that he, in all honesty, was a complete coward and wanted nothing to do with haunts, spooks or things that go bump in the night. However will keep his door open to his lab at the Consortium to try and help certain problems if the need arose. With that, he thanked Doctor Ghinton, Hugo and Abigayle for the inclusion on the adventure to this point, wished them the very best in their endeavors and will leave the light on at The Great Hall for when they return. Chin Chin, Cheerio, and all of that bloody rot.
Hugo follows Ghinton and Watson down the path in to the cold, dark forest. The farther in they travel the thicker the fog becomes.i think it’s best if we stay together since we don’t know what if anything is in these woods. Hugo says and then continues his conversation . We should count off so we know we’re still together. Okay let’s try it. There is silence until Hugo shouts three. Come on, you can do better than that. One more time. Hugo says. This time the powerful three comes out as a whimper. The fog thins momentarily and Hugo finds himself alone. He begins to slowly turn in a circle and shout, oooooh doooooc! Watson. Oooooh doooooc! Watson. I’m alone. No doc. No Watson .no door to go back to my beloved manor. The fog rolls back in and Hugo decides to continue on in hope of finding his comrades. His steps quicken. Suddenly he is smacked in the forehead by one of the thick branches. He stops and rubs his head and says this forest isn’t made of soft wood. He starts again and through the fog see the branch this time and ducks. He turns back and mocks the branch I saw you this time Hugo says and sticks out his tongue. He turns quickly and smack into another branch the puts him on his butt this time. He sits there for a moment when suddenly a hand reaches down to him and ask if he needs help up. Hugo looks up and says Deacon. What in the name of hell are you doing here? Deacon ask. I’m asking myself the same thing. Hugo answers. Deacon helps him to his feet and turns his head slightly and spits.this aint no place for you. It’d be best you turn yourself around and head back to the main trail. Get out of these woods. Hugo mentions he’s looking for Ghinton and Watson to deacon. Deacon looks at hyde and says you head on back if I see them I set them packing back also. Good luck Hugo. Now git. Deacon is gone in the fog once more. Hugo starts back and after a while he realizes he’s lost. He stops and leans against a large twisted tree. Hugo doesn’t notice the dripping on his cap until it runs down the front of his cap and down his face. He wipes off the clear, wet goo. He looks up and near the top of the tree is a ten foot long possum. It’s drooling and hissing and then suddenly it speaks. You lookalike you will make a very tasty treat.very tasty indeed. Hugo waste time taking off and he hears the breaking of branches behind him. The hissing voice of the possum cackling and saying I’m going to get you. Hugo reaches in his satchel and pulls out the spicy paprika he had bought. Hugo turns and trows it at the possum where it hits directly in its snout. It start shaking its head.coughing and sneezing with eyes watering. It yells in both pain and rage. Hugo takes the opportunity to get his short legs moving. He hears the beast crashing through the underbrush and knows it’s gaining on him. Suddenly Hugo trips and lands flat on his face. He shuts his eyes and waits to be devoured but it doesn’t happen. He opens his eyes and realizes he lying on wooden planks. He looks up and he sees the blue maiden.he flips over and see the monster just feet away. Mrs. Shell standing in the door shoos the possum away. The possum hisses and says I know your type.i have smelled you before. I will catch both of you eventually. For I am imperious rex…..suddenly his head disappears in a cloud of blood and muck. Hugo is covered in the mess and whites the gunk off his face. There standing before him is the mysterious Deacon. I got that critter finally. I’ve been tracking him for days. I guess all I needed was some bait. Thanks Hugo. Deacon says. Hugo waves and deacon tips his hat at Mrs. Shell and disappears once more into the fog. mr.hyde do come in and get cleaned up. I have a salvation that should get those stains out of your clothes. Even that hat. Mrs. shell says and then continues. Go upstairs take of your clothes and send them down the laundry shoot. Wash off and I believe you’ll find something your size in the closet. Hugo gets up and walks inside the maiden where he sees Ghinton . Hugo approaches doc to hug him but Ghinton stops him with his cane. I’m glad to see you too Hugo but get cleaned up first. Hugo starts up the stairs and stops have you heard from Watson and moxie yet? Hugo ask. Not yet. Ghinton answers grimly.
One moment they were all together, the next Watson found that it was just her and Moxie. The professor had warned her that the forest was tricky. She looked at Moxie and wasn’t surprised to see her in beast form, “better safe than sorry, right Mox?” The dog barked what sounded like an affirmative answer. Watson proceeded with caution, “when we get back to the Blue Maiden, I will order you the biggest steak they have. Keep your eyes open and senses on high alert.” She didn’t know how it happened, but Moxie always understood everything Watson said to her. She took up a protective stance in front of Watson, who had drawn her pistol. Together, they began to move through the mysterious forest.
Watson paused to study one of the corkscrew trees, remembering what Erazmus had told her about them, “fascinating,” she said as she broke off a small piece of branch and secured it in a vial that she stowed in her bag. Watson’s senses were on high alert and they continued their way through the foliage. The fog was thicker than anything she had ever seen in London and had an odd greenish tinge to it. She could see why people would become disoriented and dazed while in the forest. The trees were seemingly identical and the fog threw off your sense of direction - in short, everything looked the same, no matter which way you turned.
Eventually, they found a pathway that wound deep into the thick of the forest. The fog wasn’t as heavy in this area making it evident that all of the foliage was abnormal. It was similar to the flora and fauna of the “normal” world, but here...something had caused it to change into a weird, warped form of itself. “Note to self...don’t drink the water here,” Watson said, she looked at Moxie, “that goes for you too.” Moxie again barked in affirmation.
Sniffing the air, Watson frowned, “this is some kind of swamp gas, it has to be! It’s mixing with whatever else is going on in this wretched place and making all the foliage grow weird,” she chuckled in spite of herself, “I hope it’s not too hard on us, Moxie. We’ll be as high as Professor Watt at the end of a wine bender.” Moxie barked again, then stopped suddenly, a low growl beginning to emanate from her chest as the hackles raised on her back. Watson stared into the direction she was looking, pistol aimed and steady in her hand. They both heard the footsteps, but nothing appeared, they also heard the laughter, but no one was near. Watson and Moxie exchanged a glance before continuing forward. Skittering on either side of them confirmed that the forest teemed with life...of some kind. Wondering if the wildlife had been affected the same way as the foliage, Watson studied the darkness to the side of them hoping to catch a glimpse of something....anything. “We are being watched, Moxie.”
Moxie’s attention was still focused in front of them, she was growling louder, Watson had never seen her be so menacing. She focused her attention in the same direction and aimed her pistol.
When the creature stepped onto the path, Watson’s eyes widened, with the swirling fog, she thought it was a wolf...until it stood upright, “werewolf,” she whispered. The creature stood over six feet tall, it’s long black fur gleamed in what little moonlight broke through the trees. Long claws at the end of long arms arched as the creature threw its head back and howled, pleased with the prey it was about to claim. Long fangs dripped saliva in anticipation of a warm meal and its black eyes stared hollowly at them.
Watson quickly and carefully recalculated her aim, “make no move, Moxie,” she said. Her eyes were locked with the werewolf, each sizing the other up, “I don’t intend to be your meal tonight and you won’t come near my dog either.”
The werewolf growled loudly and sprang forward as Watson squeezed the trigger on her pistol. The shot echoed loudly through the forest and the smell of gunpowder was sharp as the werewolf hit the ground with a surprised whimper before dying.
A loud sound behind them made them both jump, Watson spun around quickly to see the Blue Maiden. Mrs. Shell hurried onto the porch, a worried look on her face. She saw the dead werewolf on the pathway and looked at Watson with surprise, “how did you know to load silver bullets?”
Watson shrugged, “it’s Romania. Lycans are everywhere in these parts.”
“Good gracious, child, get in this house!” she looked past her to Moxie, “you too, missy! As Moxie bounded by her, Mrs. Shell whispered, “you’ll find your steak by the fireplace.” She turned to face Watson, “and your tea is waiting.”
Watson smiled, “thank you...for everything,” she looked around at the forest, “there are more of them out there.”
Forest of Shadows: In the mid morning, one that was grey and full of falling snow, a traveler on horseback strode through twisted and bent trees. The path in front of the rider wound ahead to more unknowns and mystery. Apart from the occasional disembodied laugh here and there in the distance, the only sounds were that of the horse, it's breath fogging in the foul air and the thumping of hoofs upon the cold earth. All else was silence. No birds or a skittering creature. The Deacon sat straight up in the saddle as if the bone chilling cold were afraid to touch him. Alas, if that were only the case. Ichabod longed for a warm, cheerful fire and something soothing to drink after the the long cold ride he found himself on. Three days he had been in the Hoia-Baciu forest tracking a werewolf that fled here from Olde World. Getting used to the portals had been no trouble at all after learning that each one was at a nexus of Lay Lines, a system of energy beams that criss- crossed the earth in no certain pattern. Once the right tone and frequency was made, it was possible to open them. One of the larger nexus points lies at the heart of the most haunted forest on earth, strangely enough, located in this particular universe and nowhere else to the Deacon's knowledge anyway. Why would it be connected to Olde World, he knew not. It was a question for another day. His quest was to destroy a werewolf and possibly save the one inside it, trapped in torment. He reflected upon running into some old companions. He fibbed to Mr. Hugo about why he was there in the first place, but it was necessary as not to scare the poor chap who looked frightened enough. Especially after being attacked by that vicious beast. However, if it were a shapeshifter or Skinwalker, as the Revered Natives know of, it could have been his mark. No matter, whatever it was, it was swept off the earth. The fog was growing thick again. In the distance, there was a rather mean sounding growl, but sound traveled strange here, Ichabod couldn’t tell how far or what direction it was coming from. Ghostly fingers began to swirl around him in the mist and fog, tugging at him, as well as spooking the horse. He took hold of his kit and opened it in order to find a talisman to ward off the spirits of the dead. Suddenly a pistol rapport crashed though the trees. The Deacon turned and headed at full gallop back the way he came to give tell of what happened. There it was, one of them anyway, dead as a dead can be, a smoking hole in it's chest, the smell of powder still in the air. It wasn’t the one he hunted. The color was wrong. If he already had not blasted it into oblivion, it was still out there. The Deacon inspected the corps, using a boot knife, digging out a silver bullet. Looking close, Ichabod smerked.
"By my watch and warrant, Ms. Watson's work. Smart lady." He said.
Since he knew his friends were about somewhere, he wondered if he would encounter them again. Yet he knew he had a task at hand. The beast must be found and there was a lot of forest. It could even link up with others of it's kind here. One is dangerous enough, a pack was worse. He wondered exactly who was the hunter and who was the prey now. The deacon's eyes narrowed. He blessed the corps with Holy Water and watched it be consumed by flame and reclaimed by the soil. He mounted his horse and sank back into the fog. In the distance, the children of the night, made their music, eerie and cold as the forest itself.
After finally regrouping in the blue maiden, Mrs Shell informs us that she can assist us in quickly moving to the next destination of choice. Even though it is high irregular to transport visitors within the Maiden, she will make an exception in this situation.
Dr. Ghinton speaks up and asks if we might move forward to the village of Sinca Romania.
Mrs Shell responds with a cheerful, “Absolutely, good sir.”
She walks over to the Secretary Desk and lowers the writing platform.
There, behind the panel is found several dials and switches, that she adjusts with perfection.
The light from the windows grows dim and within just a few seconds, Mrs Shell closes the secretary desk and announced we have arrived in the village of Şinca Romania. She also informs us that we are welcome to spend the night and recover from our adventure thus far and she will provide us with our evening meal and also breakfast. She announces further that our regular rooms are available.
Dr. Ghinton takes a moment to thank Mrs Shell for her assistance and enquires as to the safe transport of Professor Watt.
Mrs Shell confirms that Professor Watt is safely in his own lab and comfortable. That he did send his apologies for not continuing on with the journey, but the anxiety of facing the forest was just not on his list of exciting things to experience.
Dr. Ghinton thanks Mrs Shell for her candid remarks and then moves up the stairs to his room. While there, he thinks about his experience with the shadow beings. Odd entities that they are. Exciting as shadow masses only. Not related in any way to the Society of Shadows in which the fiend Spring Helped Jack is associated. But an entire clan of beings living apart from the rest of the world.
Then the doctor stops for a moment. Or maybe it was all an illusion created by the environment and his own fear of the unknown?
In time, maybe the Doctor will return to the Hoia-Baciu Forest for another glimpse into the reality of it all. But for now, Rest and recuperation is on his urgent list of things to get dealt with.
Dinner will be served soon, the good doctor thinks to himself. Food and a bit of tea will calm the nerves.
The Doctor is also pleased his friends are in safe keeping within the Maiden.
Hugo looked a sight when he entered the foyer, covered in the remnants of that creature. Ms Watson was putting on a good face as well, in spite of her circumstances with the Beast she had encountered.
Dr. Ghinton takes a moment and wonders if any of the experiences were real, or maybe a manifestation of the energies of the Hoia-Baciu Forest.
I am sure, if we should ask Either Hyde or Watson, they would insist that their experience was reality. But, there’s something just too uncanny about the targeted situations and how thy played right into our individual fears and anxieties.
Either way, We have arrived in Sinca.
The Blue Maiden has set herself down in a vacant lot just outside of the small village. Which is perfect for us.
Dr. Ghinton is planning ahead and hopes to find some means of transport forward. Before Dinner, He steps out for a short walk and into the village he goes.
He’s seeking a Coach house or stable, so he can procure a carriage or wagon to take them the final distance into the mountains and to Bran Castle.
As he walks along the towns people turn to stare and they quietly whisper to themselves. Without a doubt they are uneasy about a stranger walking into town.
Dr. Ghinton soon finds a Stable and enquires about a coach. The Gentleman shakes his head and says in broken English that there is no coachman in the town. “We are a small village, no coach an, no coach.”
Dr Ghinton asks if there might be someone with a wagon would would be willing to carry the three up into the mountains. The gentleman responds with a gesture and indicates a gentleman across the road way. “He might take you”
Dr. Ghinton walks across the way and extends a hand to the younger gentleman.
The fellow stares at Ghinton and asks “what you want?”
Dr. Ghinton explains his circumstances and his needs. The gentleman listens carefully. Then says, “I can take you, but I want payment before we leave in the morning. No pay, no go.”
Dr. Ghinton assures him payment will be on hand. And once again extends a hand to seal the deal.
The Gentleman once again stares at Ghinton and returns to his work in the stable.
Dr. Ghinton isn’t accustomed to people not at least being civil with a hand shake. It’s an important gesture he thinks to himself.
Regardless, the good Doctor makes his way back to the Blue Maiden.
Upon arrival he see Hyde and Watson have taken up seating in the parlor and Ghinton walks in and announces his success in establishing transport. He eager and very pleased to be reunited with his traveling companions. Taking in their stories and experiences.
He is concerned that The Deacon did not join them in the Maiden. HIs services may be of value in the next portion of the journey. But, never the less, maybe paths shall cross again.
Soon Mrs Shell announces that Dinner is on the table. Moxie has already consumed her portion and taken a place near the fireplace to sleep it off. The trio head off to the dining room to enjoy the home cooked meal and continue to recharge from their long walk in the blasted forest of hell.
The next morning everyone wakes and comes down for a hearty breakfast. Mrs Shell knows how to provide all the comfort foods for her guests.
Dr. Ghinton asks Mrs Shell if she has other visitors or is the Maiden just for the comfort of the STEAM team.
Mrs Shell responds, “we have others from time to time, so far you just haven’t crossed paths. Matter of fact, we have a guest in the house this very moment. She will be leaving us in a short while.”
Dr. Ghinton is intrigued and enquires of the other guests credentials.
Mrs Shell responds with a stern voice, “I am not at liberty to share that information with you, or anyone. Confidentiality is a great importance for my line of work.”
Dr. Ghinton responds with an apology. “I did not intend to pry, I apologize”
From that point forward the trio focus on making ready to head out to the stables for their arranged ride to Bran Castle.
Its a short walk to the stables, and the three make quick business of it.
The driver is there already and Dr. Ghinton pays the gentleman his agreed upon fee.
Dr. Ghinton announces; “my good man, there will be a bonus if we arrive in good time.”
The gentleman tips his hat in acknowledgement and walks away.
In just a few moments and wagon, with several bails of straw comes around the corner, with the driver perched upon the seat.
The three travelers look at one another and the good doctor shrugs. “It was the only transportation available.”
They climb aboard and head off toward the mountain side.
The driver yells back, “it’s going to be slow going up the hill side, hold on to your belonging and do not loose your footing.”
Everyone braces themselves and looks rather annoyed concerning the situation.
Mr Hyde eventually speaks up. “This was supposed to be a fun trip, there was supposed to be adventure, there was supposed to be fancy food and luxurious treats. Instead I have straw up my bum and flies. There are FLIES!!”
The further up the mountain side the wagon takes the team the more intense everything feels.
It’s obvious that everyone is eager to reach the destination. It’s been an extremely long journey to get to this point. With only a few hours left the tension is unbearable.
Dr. Ghinton does his best to keep calm. Seated with his back to the driver and continuing to rest his hands over the handle of his walking stick, looking around and observing the landscape. A landscape of gray stone, sparse foliage and a steep drop off on the opposite side. The doctor doesn’t spend too much time looking in the direction of the drop off. His nerves and fear of falling is better kept protected from such foolish gestures as to challenge that anxiety point.
Within a few moments, and without warning a rumbling is heard, the ground shakes briefly and stone is heard rolling down from the mountain above. The wagon stops and the driver announces that we can go no further, the mountain has collapsed and the road way is blocked. There is no other pathway for the wagon to travel.
Disappointed, the trio steps down from the wagon and walks a short distance up the road only to discover it is truly and completely blocked. Large boulders and rubble blocks the roadway.
Ms Watson begins to look around and discovers a foot path just off the side of the road way, that isn’t blocked completely. “Here, Look here! We can walk around the blockage here, and continue on foot.” She says.
Dr. Ghinton glances at the path and agrees that this will work to get us on our way and to the castle. He turns to the driver and pays him an extra bonus and thanks him for his services. “You can return the village my good man, we will go on foot from here.” Says Ghinton.
The three travelers, Ms Watson, Dr. Ghinotn and Mr Hyde gather their wares and takes off along the pathway. A slow and careful walk. Mr Hyde is not exactly pleased with the idea. But keeps silent for the moment.
After a while, Mr Hyde speaks up and mentions that he’s still not pleased with the adventure. “We go from Start and flies to walking, blisters, and poison oak, when did we become billy goats anyway?” Hyde Says.
Dr. Ghinton hears Mr. Hydes ramblings and continues to walk onward. The trail is not very steep, but is very close to a drop off that would be fatal if someone lost their footing and toppled over the edge.
Slowly they pass beyond the blockage and return the road way. Walking with a slow pace to conserve energy. The doctor estimates it to be at least another 4-5 hours to before reaching the castle.
At one point in the journey, Mr Hyde hears someone speaking in the distance.
“Doc” Hugo says. “I hear voices coming from up ahead”
“I hear nothing sir, you must have imagined it” Says Ghinton.
“No I really heard some one talking” Says Hugo.
As the Doctor turns to face Mr. Hyde, the doctor then also hears the sound of voices.
Stopping on the roadway they wait to see who it might be.
Two gentlemen come on to the road way and wave at the traveling trio.
“Meave sent us to retrieve you, you are to come with us.” Says one of the gentlemen.
So the team takes the directive and begins to follow the men off the roadway and on to a well worn path leading further up the mountain side.
Ms Watson quietly mentions to the doctor, “How do we know this isn’t a trap?”
The Doctor responds with a shrug and says “do we have a choice?”
Up a steep incline the travelers venture. The doctor thinks to himself, “these two men must be part billy goat, this is ridiculous.”
At one point the two gentlemen stop to wait for Mr Hyde, Watson and Ghinton to catch up. All three being out of breath and struggling to continue.
Soon they come to a level area and begin down again, into a small valley nestled in the mountains. Ghinton feels much less pressed by the walk now that they have began down hill for a distance. Soon they walk into the circle of a camp. The two gentlemen stop and point to the main tent. “Meave will want to speak to you very soon, go there, near the tent and she will come get you.” Says one of the gents.
Maeva steps into the doorway of her vardo and says in a sweet but stern voice “my dealings are with the one you call doctor. The other two please make yourself at home. Enjoy some food and warm yourself by the fire.”
Suddenly the familiar voice comes from behind them. “Welcome my friends. I’m glad you made it here safely. Leona says. She wraps her arms around Hyde and Watson’s arms and starts to lead them to the campfire. At the campfire they see rabbits roasting on a spikes and a pot of dumplings beside it. “I told you I would have this waiting for you doodle.” Leona says with a smile.
They thank her and help themselves to the well prepared meal. Afterwards the two share their adventure with the others around the fire.
Hugo turns to Leona and says to her that he’s been worried about her and Leona says that is very sweet but she’s fine.
“I’m concerned about it getting colder and you running around without any footwear.” Hugo says as he gets into his satchel .
He pulls out the box and hands it to Leona. She opens the box and sees the beautiful red swede boots. Her face explodes in happiness and she turns toward Hugo. “Oh, thank you. They are beautiful. How did you know my size?” Leona ask as she slips the boots on.
I had some help with the sizing. Hugo says.
“Do they fit?” Hugo asks.
“Yes. Perfectly. Thank you.” Leona says as she leans over and kisses Hugo on the cheek.
Hugo blushes and looks around hoping no one saw.
Dr. Ghinont follows Meava into the tent.
Please seat yourself Derwood.
Ghinton is surprised that this woman he has never met knows his first name.
“You know how you got that name, do you not?” “You’re mother always liked the Idea of using a play on words to make an expression. Under wood is a phrase we often use to refer to a gate or entry way. You’re name is a variation of that idea, for she knew you would be bringing great things in with you when you were born. You are a gatekeeper and therefore Derwood was a perfect name for you, as a keeper of gates. And your last night is also selected with care. Ghinton refers to sacred knowledge and was by far not an accident either.”
At this point Ghinton is hooked and curious. This woman speaks as if she has had extensive conversation with a woman long since gone. He recalls similar conversation with his mother when he was a child and always assumed it was stories to keep a young child distracted.
“Mind you, Derwood, we have waited a while for you and your friends to join us. Leona has been walking with you for some time and speaks highly of your integrity.” Says Meava.
The Doctor waits for a break in her speech and respectfully asks the reason for the observation.
Meava responds with; “for you have great things to do in the future that you have not even began to recognize.”
Dr. Ghinton sets back and ponders for second on what she could possibly be eluding to.
Nevertheless, the doctor says, we have a mission currently in play. We need to reach Bran Castle and secure a patch of Monkshood. It has been used as a poison and we need to stop the abuse of the substance.
Meave smiles and acknowledges the Doctors concern. “We shall assist you. Two of our clan will guide you to the castle and work with you to destroy the patch, but be warned, there are others who will attempt to stop you. They are rogue and violent. There is also another concern. Things of the mysterious and undead also guard that castle. You will need help. “
The doctor listens and begins to make plans in his head.
Meava then looks at Ghinton. She seems concerned. “You suffer the headache from time to time and hear and see things beyond your scope. Your mother also carried this curse, or blessing, depending on the usage.”
At that point, Dr. Ghinton is struck with an intense pain. He sees the vision of a Shadow behind 3 beast, The laughter is heard as well.
“Walk slowly, walk with haste,
Make the castle by darkness placed.
I shall see you, once you arrive.
But you’ll not know from which point to dive”
Ghinton recovers from the headache and reacts for his journal.
Meava looks at the doctor and says, ”I can give you something which will ease the pain, but not block the visions. It’s an ancient stone of purple and can be worn to better tune your senses.”
She hands him a square cut and polished deep purple and blue stone. The doctor finds it most calming just to have in his hand. He drops it into his pocket and offers his thanks for the gift.
Meava then looks at the Doctor. “You sir, go find some food at the camp fire. Rest and recover, I have instructions for my men to provide you with some added materials for your final portion of this journey. However sir, upon completion of your task, I require you to return to our camp, for I have something more to offer you. And Answer to many of your questions especially those concerning a brother that you know yet do not know.”
Ghinton joins his companions at the fire and he partakes of the meal Leona has prepared. Afterwards they talk between the team and the tribe. They exchange their ghost stories but the fact that they are real makes them even more scary.
An older man with sideburns down to his shoulders lights his pipe. “Is this trip to the castle necessary? There are things best left to there own at that place. We can provide a path around it.” he says.
Watson and Ghinton both agree that it is required.
The gentleman nods and says; “so be it.” “We shall escort you as Maeva has commanded.” Leona speaks up and says; “my cousins will join you. They will protect you with their lives.” Their names are Boris, Bela and Glen.”
Glen? Hugo ask quizativly.
Leona says; “his father was an outsider.”
Hyde nods in agreement.
Leona then says; “I say we turn in for the night and discuss your intentions in the morning. Watson can join Maeva and me in our vardo. Ghinton and doodle we have a tent for you.
Everyone agrees and wishes each other a good night.
At day break the next morning, Ghinton is awakened by the sounds of the camp coming to life.
Many of the tribe are up and awake, moving around, preparing the morning fire for the first meal of the day. There are also sounds of voices speaking to one another in a foreign dialect which sounds very much like a debate between several of the men.
Dr. Ghinton prepares himself of the day ahead and steps out of the tent. Leaving Hyde to continue his slumber.
As Ghinton steps into view, Meava motions him over to speak to her. She says to Ghinton; “Good Morning I trust you slept well, I’ve asked my men to prepare something to aid you in your journey. We’ve taken a door from own of our Vardo and we are preparing it to take with you. I know about the mysterious keys which young Hugo carries and how they can be used to make things easier. I also am aware of your traveling companion which you call junior. He’s a big fellow and will be essential to your next set of tasks.”
Ghinton is set back with the amount of knowledge Meava has. He begins to ask her and then things it is best not to pry further, just accept she is an extraordinary woman and obviously leader of her clan for a reason.
Ghinton does have one question for Meava, however. “How do you know my mother?”
Meava smiles a gentle smile and responds with; “she walked with us for a while. She was always so sweet and gentle with the young ones. She often spoke of you and your brother, but it was always tempered with Sadness and regret.”
Ghinton responds to Meava’s words with only one statement. “I have no brother.”
Meava smiles again and says very calming; “that you know of my child.”
Breakfast is warm, the concoction they serve as an alternative to coffee is also very hot and tastes more of tea than anything else. But it serves to usher in the morning.
Some conversation about the walk to the castle is over heard. It’s going to take most of the day to make the journey, but the men now the landscape and will make the best of it.
The elder gentleman again asks us if this is truly needed, and Ghinton again responds with a determined response in the affirmative.
Meava walks up to the fire and looks to Hyde. “It is time for you to use your key and bring your companion junior to you, the day is vanishing and we should make our way to the destination. You friend will help you.”
It has been decided the five members of the tribe will lead them.
Leona's three cousins will sit up a base camp outside the castle and wait for the return of the rest of the party. The other two will continue to the patch with the team.
Watson's research has shown that it takes a years cycles of the moon for the wolfsbane to mature enough to be used as a poison.
They decide it would be best to burn it down.
It is determined by the drawing of straws that Hugo will start the fires while the rest watch his back.
The men of the camp quickly constructs a rough doorframe and adds thick leather straps to it so it can be carried like a backpack.
Hugo steps over to the door and pulls out the black key.
Hugo turns toward the camp and says, “Junior is nothing like you've seen before but trust me he is gentle.” Hugo steps through the door and seconds later returns with junior.
The camp gasp at the giant but quickly realizes he truly is a gentle soul.
“I'm going with you.” Leona says.
The man with the sideburns relights his pipe and looks at Leona and says “Maeva says you are to stay here.”
“But I want to go.” Leona says.
The gentleman with the long sideburns points to the ground and once more says; “Maeva says you stay here.”
Leona folds her arms and pouts.
Hugo looks at her and says, “Maybe it's best that you stay here. It's safer. We'll be fine and besides, I don't want anything to happen to you.”
Leona smiles. She steps over to a doorway on the kitchen tent and pulls off a string of garlic and gives it to Hugo.
“Keep this with you.” Leona says.
“Well, are we ready to start?” Watson ask.
Junior puts the door on his back. It's like carrying a five pound pack of flour for him.
Moxie barks that she's ready and with that the group heads out.
Hugo turns and waves goodbye to the tribe.
When we arrive at Bran Castle, just after noon.
The camp is set near the entry way to the castle. The gentlemen make very good time in establishing the camp.
Dr. Ghinton looks to this companions and says; “we have some time to investigate the castle just to see what we have hidden inside.”
Ms Watson and Mr Hyde look at the good doctor as if he had bumped his head on something during the climb. Hugo speaks up and says; “We should focus on our missions sir.”
Ghinton responds with; “we have plenty of time sir, let’s enjoy a side step just for once to entertain our senses.”
Ms Watson calmly says; “Let’s venture in, what could possibly go wrong?”
So the three inform their escorts of their intentions and head off to the entry way to the castle. The stairs are steep and winding.
Once arriving at the great entry way, it is discovered that the doors have all been removed. The entry way is wide open. Darkness and shadow is all that appears to be contained within the great stone construction.
Dr. Ghinton steps through the doorway. Into the shadow. Mr Hyde carefully follows and Ms Watson with hand firmly on her pistol, follows reluctantly.
They walk through the corridors and find absolutely nothing of interest.
Finally, they agree to step into the dungeon below the main floor of the castle.
They pass through the passages and seek out what ever they might be able to find. Their Electric torches lighting the blinding darkness.
Each turn takes them a bit deeper into the underground of the castle.
Nothing. Nothing other than one area blocked with debris by a collapsed roof, some years before it appears.
The trio makes their way back out of the castle and they find that the camp fully set up and even some of the Leona’s Dumplings reheating on the fire. The smell is wonderful.
Dr. Ghinton finds a suitable stone to set on and admires his surroundings. He says quietly; “this isn’t so bad.”
The afternoon is fading quickly.
We decide to move ahead without plans to eliminate the poisonous Wolfsbane patch.
We still take our time remembering the warnings which came at the camp site.
We move around to the south side of the tower of the decaying castle, which is a good walk in it’s own right. In the shadow of the tower we find a patch of very large and over grown purple and blue shaded flowers. The patch is nearly 50 feet in diameter, and almost 3 feet high.
Mr Hyde suggest we cover our faces with our handkerchiefs to avoid breathing in the toxin which may be airborne.
We move quickly and carefully to not disturb the plants too much.
Mr Hyde moves closer to the patch and begins to set fire to the patch, and without expectation the flame catches very well. The fire is burning away the over growth and consuming the poisonous plants as it goes.
The two gents who escorted us to the castle, calls out to the rest of our group. “We have company coming!”
Within seconds we see what appears to be a half dozen or more Beasts, walking upright like men, but covered in fur, heading toward our location.
“Werewolves!” Screams one of the men.
Dr. Ghinton says to his companions. “I never knew they could change at will, the moon isn’t even visible or full and we have beasts.”
Ms Watson, looks at the doctor and smirks as she says; “variations are common, we can discuss them at a later dates, good sir.”
Mr Hyde draws closer to the doctor and Ms Watson, as he picks up a heavy limb to use as a weapon. “This, this is not part of the fun…” He says.
Moxie, has transformed to her larger more fierce presentation and stand ready to fight the beast.
Ghinton pulls his cane closer and reaches in to his coat and pulls his flint lock pistol. “We’re going to need to make a stand here, so let’s be on guard.”
As the beast grow closer, the group stands ready.
The attack is intense. Shots are fired, cries and whimpers are heard from various directions. The battle continues for several minutes, maybe as much as a half hour. The sun sets and it grows dark, Ghinton and Watson produce their Electric torches to aid in seeing the assailants.
That is when it is noticed that our two companions from the camp are no longer in sight.
We hear additional cries from the wolves and realize two additional beast have joined the fight. Only these two are fighting against the attacks of the first grouping.
Dr. Ghinton comments, “we have aid from some unknown source.”
Hugo returns to the company of his friends.
Ghinton is flanked on one side and Hyde on the other.
Could this get any worse. Hugo mutters.
Suddenly one of the werewolves approaches Hugo but it stops. It stares at Hugo but doesn’t attack. Instead it sniffs the moonstone, it shakes its head knowing this isn’t one of them but he can’t do anything but howl at Hugo.
Suddenly a smaller werewolf tackles the werewolf that was upon Hugo. They rolled across the ground clawing and biting one another. The smaller one was quick and latched on to the larger ones back. It bit into the larger ones neck and it howled in pain. It grabbed the smaller one and tossed it to the side and the larger one retreated.
That’s when Hugo noticed that the smaller one was wearing red swede boots.
The smaller werewolf ran over and tackled Hugo to the ground. Leona? Hugo asked. The werewolf leaned into Hugo’s face and licked the tip of his nose. Then just as quickly it jumped up and ran into the fray of battle once more.
Ghinton helped Hyde to his feet and asked if that was Leona.
Yes doc, my girlfriend is a dog. Hugo answers.
Ghinton wonders if Hyde’s answer was his usual humor hiding his fear or something else but it didn’t matter right now because the good doctor didn’t have time to think about it.
There was a battle of life and death going on right now.
Watson had known it was going to be a long day when Moxie morphed into her larger self as soon as they reached the patch of wolfsbane. Her dark eyes were alert, her nose twitched often as she sniffed the air. Moxie barked loudly at Watson before beckoning her to look towards the treeline.
“Werewolves,” Watson said, “and I can see they are not happy with me,” one of the larger wolves was carrying the pelt of the werewolf she had slain. Watson held her silver bullet loaded pistol tightly in her hand. She also carried the aether pistol that Professor Watt had created; it was loaded with the weaponized, charred remains of Springheel Jack. She pulled it out, time to see if it worked on lycans. She took aim at the one carrying the carcass and squeezed the trigger, the gun sparked as the bullet flew from the chamber, she swore the wolf smirked at her, this was obviously not a silver bullet. He thought he was safe and didn’t change his trajectory as he charged towards Watson. As the bullet made contact with him, he realized how wrong he was. The weaponized spectral remains were stronger than any silver bullet and as it hit him, he was vaporized and the two running next to him were wounded from the fallout.
Moxie charged into battle, growling and snarling, laying waste to whatever crossed her path. Watson closed her eyes before looking at her companions...her friends...her brothers, “I fully expect to take tea with both of you when this is over,” she said with a wink.
“Or something stronger,” Ghinton said.
“I’ll drink anything if we get out of this alive,” Hyde said.
The three charged into battle while somewhere in New Orleans, Marie LaVeau sat up quickly, rigid and stiff, “Abigail Grace!” she cried before running to her charms and potions. Whispered prayers, chants of protection and anything else she could think of poured from her lips as she did her best to send whatever strength and armor she could to her friends. When she was finished, she sat back and wiped her brow, “child, you and your friends will be the death of me,” she smiled fondly, “but at least whatever you’re battling won’t be the death of you.”
As night began to descend, Moxie paused her battles and howled loudly, the sound quieted the attacking wolves - what few of them were left and caused goosebumps on her companions. From the thicket of trees, new wolves appeared. Watson’s breath caught in her throat, “not more,” she grumbled. Then watched in awe as these wolves joined in the fray, attacking the previous set. She looked at Moxie, who bounded over to her, “you knew all along, didn’t you?”
Moxie cocked her head to the side and Watson swore that the dog winked at her, before the two were called to action again. Watson briefly caught sight of the wolf in the red suede boots, “oh he’s never going to hear the end of this,” she said with a grin.
Junior sits the door down gentle and he makes certain it can stand on its own before stepping away. He takes several steps towards his friends before the fear of the flames overtake him. He growls with anger not being able to help the others. Junior suddenly sees something from the corner of his eye. As he turns a fist connects to his jaw and knocks the giant down. Before him stands the behemoth of a woman Wrestler Jack and the Jack that dresses like a woman. The Jack dressed like a woman instructs the behemoth to take care of Junior, the others are his. He lifts his skirt and sprints toward the steam team. Junior wipes the blood from his mouth, smiles and stands. The behemoth swings again but her fist is caught in the massive hand of junior. Bones crack and junior pulls her close. You have been very bad. Junior tells her and then he throws her through the air and she lands with a sickening thud. She stands, screams and charges. Junior charges back and the two smash into each other. Fist are flying everywhere. This is a battle that was never meant for human eyes.
Dr. Ghinton, after taking a few shots at the clan of rogue wolves, suddenly becomes rather unnerved as his attention is drawn to the conflict between Junior and one of the Spring Heel’ed Jack fiends.
He glances over at Hugo who is doing his best to keep the flames blazing and fight his own battle, and yet Ghinton yells to Mr Hyde: “Use the keys Hugo, to open the doorway to the Prism Trap, Looks like we have a live one!”
Hugo glances back over his shoulder quickly and gives a quick node.
That’s when Ghinton notices a second swift moving character in the field. Followed by a giggle and a then maniacal laughter.
Ghinton recognizes the challenge. It’s Jacqueline, the not so feminine member of the Spring heeled clutch of fiends. She’s come to play.
Ghinton once again reloads his Flint look and this time unscrews the head of his walking stick to reveal the hidden sword. Not an uncommon gadget but it shall prove handy.
But before Ghinton can pursue his target, one of the wolves makes a change for him. Ghinton turns an plants one of the silver balls from his piston in the chest of the beast, and it drops to the ground.
“Dammit, Now I have to reload.” Says Ghinton
After a minute or less, Ghinton is once again on guard and watching for the location of the Jacqueline fiend.
From behind he hears a shuffling of stone and turns to find the broad shoulders and unsettling black cloaked jack. She peers down at him which causes Ghinton to feel rather unsettled. But he doesn’t hesitate long. He takes a swing at the monstrosity. Making a solid blow to the chin of his would be attacker.
She stumbled backwards on a step or two. Then lunges at the good doctor.
As she is in motion, Ghinton has reached into his pocket and located one of the Prism cage devices. His last one.
Ghinton presses the button and as Jacqueline comes within range, the doctor moves the trap device down her top beneath her clothing and side steps as she passes by him, He also manages to rather Juvenile move as he extends a foot and trips the towering mass of fabric.
She hit the ground with a thud and begins to maneuver to get up, when the trap releases and she is suddenly encased in the shimmering cage of energy created by the trap device.
She struggles and the cage does what it is designed to do. It restricts and contains her.
Ghinton moving as quickly as he can, reaches down and grabs the encased fiend and begins dragging her across the field toward the now open and active doorway into the prism cage at the manor. Junior still blocking blows from his encounter with the Battle MIstress glances at the doctor and lateen with incredible force lands a solid stick on his attacker, rolling her backwards away from the doorway into the trap.
Ghinton is clear to shove the encased Jacqueline through the doorway, and into the prism cage.
She is now secure, says Ghinton.
Ghinton looks toward Ms Watson to see she has taken good care of her own details and she is ready for more. Mr Hyde appears to be doing well also.
Then there is a scream from above. One of the Vampire Brides has taken a target in sight. She heading toward Mr Hyde. Swiftly and with intention.
Dr. Ghinton reaches into his pocket once more to locate a small vial of holy water and he hurls it a the bride, in hope of distracting her from her intended prey. It strikes, steam is seen in the air and another scream is heard. But the target she seeks in still in her sights.
Ghinton then takes off toward Ms Watson, She doing her best to stay on top her situation and Ghinton quickly approaches, just as another rogue werewolf comes out of the darkness. Ghinton opens a small vial of silver sulfide and throws the contents in the face of the beast. Make rises and the beast is permanently scared from the powder.
Ms Watson nods at Ghinton and the battle continues.
When the beating of large wings sounded, there was no doubt as to what the team was about to face.
“Oh, what fresh hell is this?” Watson asked as she looked skyward, knowing full well what it was.
When the first bride appeared, she made a beeline for Mr. Hyde, fortunately Dr. Ghinton was able to get in the first strike, but she was annoyingly intent on her destination.
Watson ran in their direction, but was knocked off course - quite literally - by a second bride. She landed hard, dropping her aether gun. The bride laughed maniacally as she began another dive at Watson. Before she could make contact, Moxie ran full steam at her, leaping from the ground and colliding solidly with the raven haired bride. It gave Watson the time she needed to scramble to her feet and go for the gun that would be the most useful to her. Moxie had landed gracefully on her feet and took her place next to Watson.
“I will feast on the blood of you and your dog!” the bride screeched before starting another dive, her claw tipped fingers arched as she bared her teeth, “I will make you both scream for mercy.”
“You talk too much to get anything accomplished,” Watson said as she raised the stake throwing gun and took aim.
“No!” the bride screamed, quickly changing her trajectory and veering to the right.
Watson spun around and fired the gun, the stake just missed it’s target, giving the bride renewed confidence. She started another at Watson and Moxie.
“Let her get close,” Watson whispered to Moxie, “let her think she’s got us.”
“Don’t worry, darling,” the bride chuckled, “I’ll kill you quickly.”
She was almost to them when Watson yelled out, “Moxie, duck!” the dog immediately complied, lying flat on her belly. Watson dropped quickly to the ground, positioning her head on Moxie’s back and raising the gun straight up. The stake didn’t miss this time, it penetrated the bride’s cold dead heart.
She screamed loudly, trying in vain to pull the stake from her chest, she burst into flame just as she hit the castle wall.
Watson scrambled to her feet, patting Moxie’s head, “good girl,” she looked around, “there are always three of these wenches. Where are the other two?”
The beating of wings signaled their arrival, both flew directly at Watson and Moxie before veering off in different directions before contact. The stake Watson shot missed both of them, she swore under her breath before whipping around to find them.
Seemingly from nowhere one swooped down towards Hyde and Ghinton. The good doctor saw her coming and was able to throw holy water in her face, causing her to scream in pain. Moxie shot forward and grabbed her by the ankle, the dog twisted her body and slammed the vampire to the ground. Dr. Ghinton grabbed his silver sword and plunged it into the bride’s heart, “pure silver coated with holy water, you vicious harpie.” She writhed in pain, screaming curses at all of them before exploding in ash.
The third and final bride flew past Watson, knocking her face first to the ground. Moxie left her post beside the doctor to run to her. Banking hard to the left, the bride also knocked Ghinton to the ground before bearing down on Hyde.
Closing her arms around him, she soared to the sky and out of sight, cackling with maniacal glee.
Seeing that Hyde was in trouble. Junior made quick business of the Battle Mistress. On her next attack, Junior reached out and grabbed her by the throat and wheeled her around and into the open portal to the Prism Trap. She hits the far back wall of the trap with a thud.
Junior, watches as the energy of the Prism Trap does its job and extracts the parasite of what we call jack from the body of the giant female. She falls limp on the floor of the trap. The parasite energy merges with the first captured Jacquline. The entire process was unnerving and yet helped to explain why these fiends are so much trouble. They are one energy being, but separated by Dimension. When encased in the same dimensional sphere, they become like liquid and group back together into one form.
The new problem we now have is, how to get the great beast of a woman out of the trap?
Nevertheless, Dr. Ghinton has watched from a distance as Junior dispatches the behemoth. He then yells out. “Junior, we must find and retrieve Hyde!”
Junior, Watson and the Doctor all head for the castle. Dr. Ghinton is sure he knows the location in which the wench has taken Mr. Hyde. To the dungeon in the base of the castle, the area that was blocked.
As they make their way toward the castle, another participant joins them on the search. A wolf with red boots, yes, it’s Leona. In full werewolf form, angry and ready for a fight.
The group makes their way down into the corridor leading to the final chamber. Upon reaching the blockage, Junior begins with great skill and strength to pull the great beams of wood and massive stones away. Working in haste, yet also aware as to not cause any additional cave ins.
Within just a few minutes, there is a passage opened up. It requires a bit of maneuvering to navigate the passage, but it is accessible.
As the group enters into the chamber, We find Hyde unconscious yet unharmed from our view point. Standing over him is the final bride. She hisses at the 5, Ghinton, Watson, Leona, Junior and Moxie. She is angry and threatening. But she’s made a fatal mistake, She didn’t do her worst and escape. She has hesitated.
Dr. Ghinton wrapped his fingers around the holy water vial still hidden in his pocket. Ms. Watson had the stake firing gun aimed towards the vampire.
Junior lurched forward, “give me my friend back!” he thundered.
Feeling trapped, the bride hissed at the five again, her eyes darted furtively from Leona to Moxie to Junior, then to the doctor and the detective, “I’ll kill him,” she said, but her statement lacked fire.
“Don’t you hurt him!” Junior yelled.
Leona and Moxie had flanked the vampire and were slowly moving towards her while the bride’s attention was focused on Junior’s large and imposing form.
The she-wolf and the monster dog exchanged a look, communicating wordlessly. In a flash, Moxie leapt forward, using her body to cover and protect Hyde as Leona launched herself directly at the bride.
The vampire screamed and tried to run, but the werewolf was too quick and too strong. She wrestled the bride to the ground and sank her teeth into her neck, ripping and pulling as blood splattered the wall and ground. As the final mortal wound was delivered, Leona stood over the writhing figure as she decomposed into dust.
Moxie charges and leaps, changing in midair to her smaller self, in Watson's arms while Leona also starts to to transform into her softer self. She approaches Hugo who smiles warmly at her. Leona shoves a finger into hugo's face and says take that smile off your face for which Hugo immediately does. What did I tell you before you left the tribe? She continues. I told you to be careful and look at you. She turns to Ghinton and says and your not much better. You just rush into a situation without thinking it thru. Leona takes her finger and pokes Hugo in the forehead and says think. You two are always on the defense. You react to the situation you never plan. You must play offense. Be ready for anything. Leona isn't finished. She waves her arm over to the direction of Watson, junior and moxie and says if it wasn't for women and monsters you would have had your asses handed to you. We may not always be around to save you. You two need training. Now I suggest we leave this bleak place, break camp and leave immediately for the tribe. The beast that got away will get re-enforcements and return. Do you agree? Leona looks at Watson. Yes. I definitely agree. Watson says. Good. Leona says and turns to Hugo and says unless you've got a better idea. Hugo shakes his head no. Leona, Watson, moxie and junior take the lead. Ghinton and Hyde follow. Hugo turns to Ghinton and says it's your fault. Ghinton looks at Hugo and says how is this my fault my good man? Hugo answers it was your ideal to come in here and piss off those vampires. Ghinton sighs and the two walk quietly behind their companions back to the camp and get ready to return to the tribe.
The group wearily walks back into Leona’s tribal camp and without delay Meava calls to Dr. Ghinton.
“Please come set with me for a while before you enjoy your meal.” She says.
Dr. Ghinton nods and walks with Meava and into her Vardo.
“Derwood, my boy, you have done very well in your life in spite of not having all the history of your family. Today some of the history is going to be revealed to you. Here, take this and readout carefully.” She says as she hands him an old journal.
“It belonged to your mother and was left with me to give to you at this point in time, it shall offer you great understanding and also add many new questions to your perspective.” She continues.
“You mother spent many months with us and grieved heavily about the choices she had to make. Leaving behind the ones she loved in hope of bringing a better way of life to the larger world. You and your brother have many great and wonderful things to do together.” Meava states.
Dr. Ghinton once again interrupts: “but I do not have a biological brother.” He says.
Meava Smiles. And then points to the journal. “Read and become aware of what you do not yet know.” She says.
“Tonight you are welcome to rest here with us in the camp or, once Hugo awakens you can make your journey home via the Doorway. The Hunts men have retrieved it from the castle and have brought it back to the camp for future opportunities to have you and your brother come visit us.” Meava says.
“For now, Go eat, drink and take in the knowledge that you are as family to us here in our valley.” Says Meava.
Dr. Ghinton briefly glances at the journal and places it in his satchel. Once he has returned to the comforts of the Great Hall, he will investigate it’s contents further. He also acknowledges just for a moment, that he is nervous about what the journal might indicate. Has he been part of a greater adventure than he was aware of? What secrets are soon to be discovered.
Watson sat at the fire, holding a cup of tea in her hands. Moxie was asleep in her lap, they had both had a filling, nourishing dinner. They had been fussed over and tended to. Moxie had no injuries on her when Watson checked her out. She however, had not gotten off so easily; she had some scratches and bruises, but nothing overtly threatening.
An elderly lady named Isador sat down next to her, she smiled at Watson and petted Moxie’s sleeping form, “she’s very special.”
“Yes, she is,” Watson said.
“Creatures like her come along once in a lifetime.”
“I’m glad I found her,” Watson said.
The old lady chuckled, “she found you, Abigail,” she winked at Watson before standing up, “now tell those fellows to get you home, so you can soak your aching bones,” she shuffled off chuckling.
“Now how did she know that?” Watson said with a smile as she scratched Moxie’s head. She knew they would be heading back to the Consortium through the doorway, no rickety, bouncing carriages, no creepy drivers, just her space. She was ready for a hot bath, hot chamomile tea and a long, long sleep. She fully intended to put a note on her door that she was not to be disturbed under any circumstances - or the person would be shot in a place that can’t be seen without the use of a hand mirror. She smiled at the thought and petted Moxie, who sighed with contentment, “either that or I’ll have you eat them.”
Hugo and Leona sit away from the rest of the camp in front of a smaller fire. Hugo finally gets the courage to break the silence.
The following conversation is Hugo first and the leona unless otherwise stated.
I’m sorry I made you mad.
I wasn’t mad I was worried about you.
You were worried about me? So you do care about me.
Don’t let it go to your head.
Leona, would you like to go back with me to the manor?
Why Hugo Hyde, are you asking me to spend the night?
No. I mean yes but not like that. I want offer you a place ta stay where you’ll be free from your curse but if you get the desire to beast out, we have a woods where you can do so safely. Time is different there so you can be there as long as you want and return back to the tribe in just a matter of minutes.
Will we be bunkmates?
No. You’ll have your own room. Hugo blushes.
I appreciate it but for now I would prefer to stay with Maeva and my tribe.
I understand but please take this. Hugo holds out a key to Leona. Put this into any keyhole and it will open the door into your room at the mansion.
Leona takes the key and adds it to the cord necklace around her neck.
Thank you Hugo. You’re very sweet.
I have one more thing for you.
You’ve already given my a key to your house. What else could there be.
Hugo reaches in his pocket and removes a small copper cylinder on a chain. Inside this is a piece of parchment paper that will contact me if you need me immediately. Just write anything on it put it back in the cylinder and I’ll receive it. Hugo hands it to Leona and she Places it on the necklaces as well.
You’re a very loving man and you’ll have a wonderful litter of puppies someday. Leona smiles and kisses Hugo on the cheek.
Hugo is speechless and doesn’t know what to do.
Leona stands and holds out her hand to Hugo. Come on Hugo. Let’s join the others before we must all say goodbye for now.
Hugo takes her hand and they walk together to the main campfire.
Once the team has rested and recuperated. Dr. Ghinton asks Hugo to use one of the keys to open a door way to the Great Hall.
“We have no need to take the coach back to London at this point in time. So let us make haste and return to our beloved home without delay.” Says Ghinton. “Once we have arrived at the Great Hall, we can then determine our individual destinations from there.”
Hugo gives Leona a tight hug and she in return places a light peck on his cheek. He blushes and he then moves toward the make shift door. He produces a key and turns it within the keyhole and opens the passage way back to the Consortium.
One by one, each of the party steps into the door and vanishes from sight.
Moments later at the Great Hall of the Consortium. The group stands in the hall way and Hugo them uses the key again, this time opening a passage to the Manor. Junior with a bit of melancholy agrees to step through, not wishing to return so quickly to his world at the Manor. He enjoys the time spent with friends in the outer world.
Ms Watson, turns and tips her hat and thanks the group for a lovely adventure, and then steps off in the opposite direction, down the hall heading toward her suite.
Mr Hyde and Ghinton stand for a moment longer and then offer their commonalities and fair wells and Mr. Hyde steps through the doorway heading homeward to his Manor. And the Doctor turns to head to his long overdue sanctuary in the safety and comforts of the Great Hall.
He then, for a moment, remembers he has some reading to do. The journal needs to be read and studied.
Dr. Ghinton, having arrived safely in his room. He places his hat and coat on the tree and moved quietly over to his desk chair.
He puts the journal from his satchel on the desk and simply stares at it. What secret does it contain. What is hidden with in the covers of this hand written account of a journey of a woman he only vaguely remembers. Will it be her familiar voice that he reads, or will it be of someone who he has never known. The questions are endless.
He resolves himself to let the questions as well as the journal set. He prepares himself for a hot bath and then for a well earned night in his own bed. The journey has been long and has taken a tole on his energy reserves.
His dreams are restless, he is distracted by the many questions that lay unanswered associated with the Journal. His undying need for clarity and fact haunts his dreams and he finds little comfort from the pillow beneath his head.
Eventually, by early morning, he finally gives in to the restlessness and gets out of bed. Still not ready to face the journal, he makes ready to go to have breakfast. “Maybe food will calm my mind.” He thinks to himself.
As he steps into the dinning room at the Consortium Great Hall, he overjoyed to discover it’s early enough to savor some freshly prepared eggs and bacon with toast. The smell of the coffee was heaven to the gentlemen who fancies it.
Dr Ghinton places his order and seats himself near the windows. Enjoying the calm of a bright day, without the urgency of boarding a coach or climbing a steep incline.
He picks up the morning paper and begins to glance at the common news associated with London and find it to be boring. There’s nothing of real intrigue in the columns of text.
Then he turns the page and there is a short article about Bedlam. The Psychiatric facility in London. A reporter has taken it upon himself to attempt to bring fact to rumor that Bedlam is not the prestigious facility it proclaims to be.
Dr. Ghinton puts down the paper and finds himself curious as to what Ms Watson might make of it.
He sips his coffee and his plate arrives. The food is wonderful, as usual. He continues to have a second and even a third cup of coffee, as he has no agenda to keep for the morning. Other than the Journal, which continues to haunt his mind .
<END OF CHAPTER>