Well, it’s finally here, the long-promised AAR set in my own little slice of Gothic Victoriana, which was not only a lot of fun to play, but also advances the ongoing plot-line.
But first, a small apology. The scenery used was what I had to hand and deemed, that if carefully placed, would look suitably Victorian, but it’s not the final look I’m intending for this area, so bear with me.
For those of you new to this blog or if you want reminding of what went before, here are the previous parts of this ongoing saga;
Part 1 – The Blue Lamp
Part 2 – A Study in Grey
Part 3 – Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?
Part 4 – Taking Back the Night
And now…Part 5.
The dolorous sound of the last stroke of midnight echoed mournfully from the bell tower of St. Gilbert’s, momentarily drowning out the customary nocturnal noises of Blackwell. Beneath the warm glow of the gas lamp on the corner, Vicky Timms, commonly known as ‘Queenie’, adjusted her bodice to more prominently display her ample charms. This was force of habit, as whilst she would normally be plying her chosen trade amongst the ale-houses and alleyways of Blackwell, tonight she had been employed for another purpose, as the sovereign she had secreted about her person attested to. A very generous payment to, it would appear, stand around in the cold, doing nothing. She fully expected the gentleman in question would make further demands later on, but a girl had to earn a living and a sovereign could buy him a lot of leeway…
In the nearby churchyard, all but concealed by the shadow cast by the looming bulk of St. Gilbert’s, stood Constable Nash, tapping his truncheon against his leg in nervous anticipation. The Black Museum was out in force that evening and, if he strained his eyes, Nash could just about make out the dim shape of Constable Moore, stationed in the shadowed alley alongside The Red Lion.
Nash turned to Sergeant Webb, who was perched on a nearby tomb cleaning a dottle from his pipe with a pocket knife. “Sarge…” he began, “I’m not entirely comfortable with us using Queenie as…as…”
“I think the word you’re looking for, young William,” said Sergeant Webb, “is bait.” Webb cast a critical eye into the bowl of his pipe. The compacted mass of tobacco was proving particularly stubborn and he went to work on it with a will.
“Whilst I agree with you in principle,” continued Webb, “Mr, Grimm is of the opinion that creature responsible for the recent attacks needs to be drawn into the open and Queenie,” he gestured vaguely in her direction, “parading around in her red dress with her wares out is sure to attract its attention.” He rapped his pipe sharply against the side of the tomb, sighing in satisfaction as the dottle finally dropped from the bowl.
“What do you reckon it is, Sarge?” asked Nash, “Mr Grimm said something about it being one of the Fae, but there’s quite a few of ’em…”
“No idea, William,” said Webb, “Moore’s the bookworm… I am but a simple copper. However, when I see our mystery woman, I shall be a-rapping her on the noggin and possibly giving her a taste of my size 9’s…on behalf of our Constable Rowan.”
Whilst Nash contemplated this, he became aware of the faint sound of singing. It was a reedy, whiny kind of voice, echoing down the alley opposite the churchyard and growing slowly louder as the singer approached.
“I’ll sing you two, O
Green grow the rushes, O
What are your two, O?
Two, two lily-white boys
Clothed all in green, O
One is one, and all alone,
And ever more shall be so.”
A gaunt figure appeared from the mouth of the alley, her dress and long hair billowing in a breeze unfelt by Constable Nash. As she passed beneath the lamp post, he noted with a start that her skin was the pale blue of a drowned corpse.
“And what do we have here?” cackled the figure, catching sight of the startled Queenie, “another pretty pretty for old Jenny?” The figure reached into her billowing robes and drew forth a rusty blade, caked with dried blood, which she held high. “Another face for Jenny’s collection…”
With a speed that belied her frail frame, the figure sped across the cobbles towards the now cowering Queenie, cackling shrilly. As she passed by the gates of the churchyard, Constable Nash was overwhelmed by the smell of stagnant water that trailed in her wake, almost retching from stench. Covering his mouth with a pocket hankerchief, he kicked the gates open and raising his truncheon, started after the unnatural creature.
Sergeant Webb tucked his pipe carefully away is his jacket, then swiftly followed his young colleague into the street, readying his truncheon. As they both pounded across the cobbles, Webb noted that Constable Moore and Mr. Grimm had also broken cover, bursting from the mouth of the alley alongside The Red Lion.
Queenie cowered back from the foul-smelling apparition, its hair and clothing in constant motion, as though suspended in water and used her substantial lungs to issue a piercing scream.
“Old Jenny will have your tongue too, pretty pretty…” hissed the creature, “cut it right out…”
The creature lunged for Queenie, but drew up short as Constable Nash’s regulation boots stomped down on her trailing garments and aimed a blow at the back of her head.
Hissing like a cat, the creature twisted lithely out of the way, spinning to face the young officer.
“Little man,” she spat, “trying to deny Jenny her prey…Jenny will have your eyes for that!” Almost too fast to follow, the creature slashed at Nash’s face, but he managed to parry the blow with his truncheon, dried blood flaking off the knife at the impact.
Grimm rushed forward and grabbed Queenie, thrusting her towards the alleyway. “Run, girl,” he growled, “You’ve earned your gold…”
Constable Moore rushed forward, readying his truncheon, whilst Sergeant Webb edged forward too, surrounding the creature.
The creature’s eyed flicked uncertainly between the three officers closing in on it, the silver studs evident on their truncheons, then spun on its heels and plunged its knife into Moore’s chest, pulling it free as he slumped groaning to the ground.
“Right, you bitch,” shouted Sergeant Webb, “that’ll be enough of that!” The creature spun towards Webb, distracted by his voice and Nash swung his truncheon with all his might, wincing slightly as it connected with the creature’s head with a sound like a cricket ball being struck for six.
The creature screamed, the silver burning her skin and Webb waded in, each blow punctuated with a litany of abuse towards the unnatural creature. Grimm stood from where he had been rummaging in his Gladstone bag, dragging forth a shimmering silvery net.
“Stand back!” he shouted, waiting until both officers had withdrawn from the cowering figure, before casting the net up and over the creature, which screamed in pain as the gossamer-like material enveloped it. The net pulsed once, then contracted, drawing more cries of pain from the whimpering creature.
“Thank you for your assistance, Gentlemen.” said Lancelot Grimm. “What we have here is the Fae commonly known as Jenny Greenteeth.” He crouched down beside the shrouded form. “They usually prey on young children who stray too close to bodies of stagnant water, but this one seems to have progressed to slightly bigger prey. Wait with her, whilst I summon a Black Maria to carry her off.”
Nash, who had been kneeling beside the groaning Moore, looked up at Webb, who had taken the opportunity to give the recumbent form a few kicks.
“We’re going to need to get Moore to the infirmary pretty soon, Sarge,” he said, “he’s lost a fair bit of blood and will need the wound cleaned and stitched, but I don’t think it’s as bad as we feared.”
“Right you are, William,” said Webb, pulling out his pipe and starting to fill it. Applying a lucifer to the bowl, he puffed his pipe into life and looked down at the imprisoned Fae.
“As for you, Miss Greenteeth” he said, “You’re nicked.”
High above the gathered officers, a hunched and gnarled figure gazed down from the rooftops.
“The Masssster will want to know of thisss….” it hissed.