The trip to Manchester was a rather uncomfortable affair. The coach was rented, chilly, uncomfortable and loud. The driver and his partner, for their part, had to ride outside and I did not envy them a single moment. Perhaps they were used to such weather and driving a coach through it.
It took the better part of a day to reach our destination, and by the time we stopped I was sure most of my internal organs had been completely rearranged. We made our way at a totally inappropriate hour to Mr. John Dee’s residence, in our haste, and were grateful to be allowed in out of the cold, and to meet with Mr. Dee himself in his large library.
His desk and collection of instruments were interesting to say the least, and before him sat a giant tome that we would learn was entitled ‘Necronimicon’.
We spoke to him at length about Joseph Barker, and Dee had some not-so-polite things to say about him, which gave
me an even darker impression of the man. Barker was quite fascinated with the demonic arts, it seemed, even if his first claims were aimed more toward the angelic. Dee claimed that Barker contacted beasts that were not of this world, and eventually Dee gave us other places to look – back in London, a house we could look for in Whitehall, and in addition to that, the news that Barker studied at Queen’s College in Cambridge.
We quizzed John Dee as much as we could, and he did recognize some of the things we asked. He recognized the name ‘Hastur’, for example, as the name of some sort of Arch Demon. My, how comforting this man has been to us!
He spoke of other volumes, and even loaned us one, something about Diabolis Britannia Libre Gaus Antonios… a Latin book, which thankfully our good Doctor can read.
And there was something about the writings concerning Scylla and Charybdis, or being stuck between two evils. I wonder if this was some sort of omen, but I chose not to speak of it. I hope that is not the situation our small group finds itself stuck between…
We eventually wore out our welcome, and departed back for London well before daybreak. The fog was thick and eerie, and it set our nerves on edge. At one point both Viola and I were
certain that we were being followed, that some deep darkness was watching us from the fog…
But we were able to acquire our coach and set off on our return trip, despite the foreboding weather…
Back to London…
We expected the trip back to be similar to the first leg of our journey: painful, uncomfortable, and unbearably long. I was content to fill my thoughts with hope for Lucy’s well-being, but it seemed we were fated for a much more ‘interesting’ journey…
We were attacked. Not by bandits, not by wild-animals, not even by the French. Instead, we were attacked by a
monster, a huge horrifying creature with claws and the large wings of a bat that allowed it to fly at an amazing speed. The creature was welcomed by gunfire from the top of the coach, and that’s when we knew there was danger.
The screech of the beast was hideous, like nails across slate, and it swooped down upon the coach, quickly collecting up one of the men driving – and carrying him off into the dark foggy pre-dawn sky. We could hear the man’s screams in the distance – as if he were being dropped from a great height – and then suddenly his cry was cut off.
The horses needed little encouragement – they sped off, out of control, as the beast came to land on the roof of the coach, despite our best efforts to fend it off with pistols.
The creature’s claws made short work of the coach’s roof, and the five of us gazed upward at it, and it looked down at us as if it already sensed its victory was near. We had many problems at the time, of course, and various members of our team set about trying to rectify them all at once.
The doctor and my man-servant made for the coach’s door, swinging it open in an effort to reach the horses. We were traveling at a terrifying speed, and the horses were frightened out of their blinders. If they weren’t slowed soon, there was no telling into what catastrophe they might gallop us.
The rest of us inside the coach did our best with pistol, rapier, and dagger to fend off the flying beast. It’s claws were as terrifying as anything I’d ever seen, rending wood as if it were paper. More than once those dreadful claws struck flesh, but my own and Simon’s for certain.
Eventually, though, our efforts paid off, and the beast was slain, or at least so we thought. It tumbled off the back of the coach just as the doctor began to slow the horses, having heroically climbed to the horses themselves to pull back on the reins and calm them to a halt.
I suggested going back for the body of the creature we fought, but glancing back into the fog, I believe my companions did not want to witness the horror of its visage again. Besides, what would happen if we reached the spot where the corpse was supposed to be – and find that it was simply gone? I argued that such a find would be truly historic, but my companions were more eager to be gone from this place. And in short order, we were.
The remainder of the trip was somber and even colder than before, the fight with the beast fresh in our minds. Having returned to London, we stopped by Lucy’s residence and were dismayed to hear that there was no news. My heart sank – but I would not give up on her!
We made our way next to Whitehall, finding several inches of freshly fallen snow which seemed only to exacerbate our dreariness. I feared for my friends and companions, hoping their spirits would keep them eager and alert, but I could not help wonder about the toll that this journey was taking on each of them. Such things, in my opinion, were not meant for mortal men, things that by all means should not even exist! Archdemons? Kings in Yellow? Spells and cantrips? Crystals and sacrifices, giant bat-winged creatures capable of carrying a fully-grown man into the sky? It was all almost too terrible to contemplate. The sooner we resolve this and rescue Lucy, the better!
Whitehall, as most Londoners knew, was a ghost town. Because of the signs of the plague, most of the houses of these well-to-do citizens had been sealed up for the winter, their owners having moved on to some place warmer – and farther away from the plague.
We found the house John Dee told us about, and searched its surroundings. The snow was untouched, and finding our way inside, we began our search. Upstairs, we found in the bedroom a diary, or at least part of one that seemed to have fallen and slipped beneath the bed, as if the owner of it had been in a hurry to leave.
But it was downstairs in a concealed room where we found the biggest discovery – a throne room of sorts, complete with a massive throne at one end. We lit the torches that circled the room, except for where a giant tapestry covered the walls.
The throne was searched and a hidden compartment at its base was found. Another hidden place was found behind the tapestry. Between these two areas we found more clues, including tomes, a map, and most importantly three colored stones – blue, green, and yellow. We quickly believed these were key to stopping whatever wicked plan was in place….
And that plan? It involved the Tower of London itself, one of the most secure and armed locations in all of England. How did Barker plan to enact
any sort of plan in that place? There was mention of a hundred cultists, and my companions and I could not help but wonder how Barker planned to get a hundred cultists into the Tower of London. Access to the place was highly regulated – one does not simply walk into the Tower of London. Or the worst horror of all… could the cultists already exist amongst the men and women of the Tower???
The time for this ritual was growing near, based on the notes and diary that we found. We did not have much time, and we could not approach the authorities, for they would think we were
What to do?
Sweet Lucy! Hold on! We are coming for you!