Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Sergeant Webb opened the door of The Red Lion and was greeted by the clammy embrace of the ever-present fog. He shivered involuntarily and contemplated whether it would be prudent to remain for one more drink, before venturing back onto the murky streets.

“Oi, Webb!”, called the landlord, “Shut the bloody door!” Sergeant Webb turned and gave the landlord the eye.

“I’ve got my eye on you, John Sutton.” He growled.

“More like you’ve got your eye on another glass of porter, you old reprobate!” answered the landlord, amongst peals of laughter from the other patrons.

“I will have you know that I have important Police work to attend to, Mister Sutton,” said Sergeant Webb stiffly, “However, your card is now marked…”

“And I’ve added several ‘marks’ to your tally, Sergeant,” said the landlord pointedly, “so unless you’re planning on settling up this evening…?”

“Let’s not be hasty, John,” said Webb hurriedly, “I’m sure we can overlook the matter on this occasion…”

John Sutton rolled his eyes. Getting Sergeant Webb to cough up what was owed was more difficult than getting a thrup’ny upright for less than the advertised rate. Still, his patronage did prevent the less savoury sorts from causing any trouble on his premises.

“Whatever, you say, Sergeant,” he sighed, “Now, will you please close the ruddy door?”

Webb stepped out into the night, firmly closing the door behind him. Other than the muted hum of conversation from the pub and the faint creaking and hoofbeats of a lone hansom purveying late night revellers home to their beds, the streets were quiet.

Best see where young Stanley’s got to, thought Sergeant Webb, no doubt he’s found some obscure inscription on a random piece of statuary and is a-busy scribbling some notes.

Webb stepped out onto the cobbles and made his way towards the lamp post where he had parted company with Constable Rowan earlier that night. As he drew closer to the railing surrounding St. Gilbert’s, his eye was drawn to a vague form stumbling about in the grounds, lamplight flickering spasmodically as though held in a palsied hand.

Instincts honed from many years patrolling the streets had him reaching for his truncheon and whistle without conscious thought and he advanced cautiously, his whistle poised for immediate use.Β 

The shadowy figure lurched towards the gates, knocking them open with a squeal of tortured metal, and Constable Rowan staggered into view, managing a few faltering steps before dropping to his knees, his regulation lamp dropping from nerveless fingers to spin away across the ground.

“Stanley!” Cried Sergeant Webb, rushing forward, all thoughts of summoning assistance banished by his overwhelming concern for his young colleague.

Webb knelt swiftly by the younger man, practiced eyes running over his body, searching for evidence of assault. Rowan seemed dazed, his features pale, but his collar and cuffs were still fastened, which suggested that no Night-stalker had caused this condition. They usually went for the wrists or throat, where the arteries were closer to the surface, although the silvered thread woven into the Black Museum’s uniforms provided an effective deterrence against assaults of this kind.

Webb grabbed for Rowan’s discarded lantern and shone the light into his face. The young man’s eyes were unfocussed, staring at God knew what, and what was that livid mark upon his cheek? As Webb tried to get a closer look, the mark began to fade from view, until it vanished completely, leaving Rowan’s face unblemished.

All the while, Rowan had been muttering to himself, repeating the same phrases over and over. Webb leaned closer, trying to make out what was being said. “What is it, lad?” He queried gently, “What are you trying to say?”

“The brass walls…the circled star…so lonely, for SO long…” whispered Rowan.

Webb stood quickly, raised his whistle to his lips and gave three piercing blasts. Constables Nash and Moore were also patrolling Blackwell that evening and this summons would bring them running as soon as they were able. Webb cast the light form Rowan’s lamp into the shadowed confines of the churchyard, seeking answers or at least the felon responsible for poor Stanley’s attack, but to no avail.

Anxiously he stood guard over the slumped form of his junior officer, his tension only easing as he heard the pounding of regulation issue boots heralding the arrival of reinforcements. As Nash and Moore appeared from the billowing fog, concern evident upon their faces, Webb found his thoughts returning to the strange mark he had thought he had seen on Stanley’s cheek.

He had only glimpsed it for a moment, but could have sworn that it was the impression of a woman’s lips…

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22 thoughts on “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

    • Thanks Dave. As I already knew what the next part of this tale would involve, I’ve been busy beavering away to ensure that The Red Lion could make an appearance in an almost finished form. Only the front is actually done, the backs, sides and roof still need finishing off.

      As for the ‘kiss’…you’ll just have to wait and see… 😁

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  1. *squeaks with delight**

    I love it I love it I love it I love it, I really LOVE it. Oh Jez Jez Jezzzzzz *hugs him tight* this has made my day, no no, I lie: my entire time away. And to see you so active in the gaming, creating terrain making and and.. and.. oh just e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, it is sublime to see.

    The story itself is simply the best, it is superb and I have already gone back and read each earlier piece (favourable comments to follow I assure you), and Jez, my dear (deeply missed) friend, *tears of joy* this is amazing.

    I do declare I love it, I simply do.

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    • Thank you very much, Tarot. I had a suspicion that you would approve, of both the content and the fact that I’m actually DOING something, and I’m really pleased that you’ve enjoyed the story so far.

      I have to admit that I’m throughly enjoying creating my small slice of Gothic Victoriana and have a feeling that’s this is going to be ongoing for quite a while, so plenty more to look forward to. There’s just so many more characters to introduce and so much more to reveal of this world. 😁

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  2. This is excellent Jez. It actually feels like I`m reading a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, or even one of Thomas Hardy`s classic phonetic pieces. Not one episode has disappointed, and keeps getting stronger all the time as it grows in the telling.

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  3. Well now, you never cease to amaze. I thought “hmmmm can he maintain this, will it continue to stay such high calibre?” and then you pull this out the bag. its BETTER even than the last parts.. truly remarkable performance and shows me keenly, just how much I miss my own Victoriana gaming LOL. You may yet persuade me/us, to pick it up and get back into it, using your bright gas lit lantern, to shine the path.

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    • Given your own ‘magnificent octopus’, that is extremely kind of you to say so. I’m hoping that each part will add to the overall tale, so once it’s done, you can go back and read the entire thing as a whole.

      And if it encourages a few more people along the way to return to a genre they love or look at ‘gaming’ in a slightly different way, then that’s a good thing in my book.

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      • Well, you have succeeded. I really like the title too (`Who will guard the guards themselves,` right?), and yes you have caused quite a stir here.

        I`m deeply immersed into Star Wars as you know, not as a personal main choice I should add, but originally because, well everything else I might have wanted to `get into` was being done by someone else, and I have this respect thing that if someone is doing a blog project, not to go and copy them too closely… even though the temptation might be there too do so, especially if what they do inspires me: so I kinda hunted around for a topic no one else seemed to be doing, and as I have a lifelong love for Star Wars and it was a fantasy subject I knew a bit about, it seemed an obvious choice. Other choices might have been Middle Earth, Narnia, or even post Roman/Arthurian Britain: but SW won out in the end.

        However, I do have an abiding passion for the more historical aspect of gaming as well (with a salt and pepper twist of the other worldly tossed in for good measure), and of the things that MOST do it for me, these interests could easily include things like Colonial New World Last of the Mahicans.. leading up to and including the American part of the Seven Years War (aka The American Revolution), or Colonial Zulu Africa… and the simultaneous events occurring on the cobble stone streets of London, the country haunts of Dartmoor (aka The Hound of the Baskervilles), to The Wolfman and the forest and heath gypsies of the South Downs. So you see Jez, when we read a good solid macabre Victorian feast such as you offer us all, it does sorely temp us to want to `ave a go` as well. Big difference though would be, I`d do it focused almost exclusively on the colonial dark continent (milking Hiller`s extensive first-hand knowledge of real life out there – where she lived for years), with the odd London/countryside cameo added in (the good old Lionheart England that Kate Bush would so proudly sing about) for completions sake… to get a glimpse now and again of the home country as it were.

        Anyway, what I`m saying is… you artistry sure aint making it easy for me to stay good, focused, and able to resist the steep temptation to follow you in… lol.

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        • I think the title is usually translated as ‘who watches the watchmen?’, which I thought appropriate for the subject matter.

          As for getting back into Victorian gaming…if you want to do it, go ahead. I’m not so precious that I’d get annoyed and think you were ‘copying’ me and, even if you were, I’d be flattered that I’d managed to inspire you.

          And besides, I’ll be concentrating mainly on Victorian London, so plenty of room left in the World to play where you will.

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          • Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires. It is literally translated as “Who will guard the guards themselves?”, though it is also known by variant translations.

            The original context deals with the problem of ensuring marital fidelity, though it is now commonly used more generally to refer to the problem of controlling the actions of persons in positions of power, an issue discussed by Plato in the Republic. It is not clear whether the phrase was written by Juvenal, or whether the passage in which it appears was interpolated into his works.

            “Who watches the watchmen” redirects here. For the Star Trek the Next Generation episode 2 Who Watches the Watchers” which is (typically) a TV misquote of the proper Latin phrase translation.

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          • I did say “usually translated”…I didn’t say by me (my Latin is a touch rusty). However, it still works in context with either translation, so perhaps Teacher can let this one go? πŸ˜‰

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          • >> so perhaps Teacher can let this one go? <<

            oh totally, don`t forget I`m a pedantic bish ^^ and always pick up on that kind of stuff lol. Most people just ignore me, tell me to shurrup, and occasionally give me a cream bun and a strong coffee knowing this is a sure and sound way to get me to be quiet for five minutes πŸ™‚

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          • Always happy to be corrected, if I get something wrong. I only object to being ‘corrected’ by people who claim to be experts, but clearly know less about a subject than I do – that annoys me. So apologies, no cream buns from me on this occasion – but it’s a handy piece of info to know, should I need to win you over at a later date. πŸ˜‰

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  4. Very nicely done, sir. Now, as you know, crime can’t crack itself, so I’d best get back to pounding the beat. Oh … And if I see any of that, there, thrup’ny upright-ing going on, I’ll have to feel your collar and move you on. This is a respectable neighbourhood, so we can’t have any of that sort of thing being seen.

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    • As Constable Rowan appears to be out of action (whether temporarily or permanently remains to be seen), any additional help will be appreciated. However, I wouldn’t say Blackwell is ENTIRELY respectable… πŸ˜‰

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  5. I agree with what everyone has said. this is a work of art and what good story telling and gaming (the two are interwoven) are all about.

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  6. Pingback: Green Grow the Rushes, O… | Carrion Crow's Buffet

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