Archive for March, 2011
The place Peter Fitzcarin had in mind was a modest, two story wooden building that was both adjacent to the dock master’s office and only a short distance from Peter’s shop. The structure had, at one time in the past, been a both a tavern and a stable. However, the only evidence of either that remained was the sturdy iron bars that secured the windows, the tarnished metal sheets bolted to the outside walls that bore the faded stenciled words of ‘livery’, and the even older words of ‘spiced wine’.
Inside, the furnishings had been replaced to suit the current purpose of the building: detention cells, a locked storage closet strong enough to secure valuables, a gun cabinet, and even a new heating system tied into the station’s steam exhaust. The walls and two interior doors were a smooth russet-colored wood. One door lead to a series of holding cells in the back of the building, and the other to a storage room that, at the moment, acted as a hastily-assembled chemist’s lab.
It had been two hours since Peter and his guests had arrived. Once there, the bulk of Fitzcarin’s men – those not in need of medical attention – reported in with the station’s dock master before drifting off to their own jobs and lives. Some returned to the Crow’s Wing Boarding House to begin repairs under Rosalita’s watchful eye.
Those not in such good health were escorted to cots and other available space around the office and empty cells. There, Dr. Llwellyn treated each one, bandaging and setting broken limbs that needed it. Others he merely prescribed a dosage of laudanum for the pain and sent them on their way.
The Formorian who had so abruptly turned normal in front of the boarding house had not regained consciousness, but had begun to occasionally shiver violently. On his arrival, he was immediately deposited into one of the cells, where Dr. Llwellyn promptly went to work.
A little while later, the doctor, satisfied his patient was sleeping quietly, walked out of the door to his makeshift lab, shutting the door behind him. He grimaced as another jolt of ache gnawed at him from his side. Ignoring that as best he could, he made his way across the room and over to the wooden stand where he had hung his woolen coat and medical bag.
Peter Fitzcarin looked up from the table where he and Tonks were discussing the previous hours’ events in detail. From somewhere, Tonks, who happened to have a small notebook with him and the stub of a pencil, had produced several pages of notes. They paused their conversation, looking up as the doctor entered.
“Any luck, doctor?” The orc shopkeeper asked. “With either our ‘guest’ or his choice a’ drink?”
The doctor retrieved an empty glass vial from his bag. “I can tell you his ‘drink’ is certainly not even as entertaining as a whiskey, though it is rather interesting. As for our new friend, he’s not highly talkative. I believe what few words he’s spoken at all are in German, and those I am positive were rather ungrateful. However, he’s recovering, despite the beating he took as his, er, other self,” the doctor explained.
“His wounds are remarkably well-healed, though the shakes, I surmise, are a result of this.” He swirled the yellowish fluid around in the small bottle for emphasis. “As is his remarkable ability of transformation.”
“An elixir?” Tonks said in surprise. “To turn a man into what we saw Until now, I’d think whoever told me that was tellin’ me rubbish.”
“I sympathize,” Thorias replied. “However, we all witnessed the same thing. Until now, I thought only someone of Angela’s persuasion was capable of any such ability.”
“I do not turn into that,” Angela said, her voice flat with a faint undercurrent of disgust while she watched the monkey in her lap. The monkey, however, ignored her and looked around, chittering quietly to itself.
“Indeed you don’t,” the doctor said, crossing over to the table to join the others. “I managed to separate this into what I believe are its components. I’ve identified Liver of Sulfur, among others. Though they are all base chemical ingredients, and quite toxic on their own, I’ve yet to find what the catalyst is. This fluid remains as large a mystery as ever. How are you both getting along?”
“We’ve been productive,” Tonks tapped his notebook. “Those two buggers that came after us? Seems they’ve been around quite a bit. From what Peter has been tellin’ me, they’ve been spotted before.”
“Nothing so open as this, eh?” Peter added with a shrug. “Up until now, it’s been a figure spotted at the end of an alley. A glimpse of a huge shape not long before a person went reported missing. The lads or I would spend part of our days chasin’ rumors all over the station.” He shrugged. “At the time, we couldn’t figure a way for someone that big to stay hidden. I never dreamed of what we saw outside the boarding house.”
“But why all this now?” Thorias asked the group. “They are interested in Angela and that servitor of hers. We know this. However, why tear openly through buildings to get her. Especially, if they’ve been operating so successfully in secret, deftly avoiding the attention of your group,” the doctor indicated Fitzcarin.
“Coast Guardsmen,” Peter corrected.
“Guardsmen?” Tonks echoed, “this far off Her Majesty’s shores?”
“We’re volunteers, eh?” the orc replied. “Enough kidnappings and you’ll be surprised who’ll volunteer. Especially, when the Admiralty has taken a close interest.”
“Ya report to the dock master, then?” Tonks asked.
Peter shook his head, “No, to Captain Clark aboard the HMS Intrepid.”
“Interesting,” the doctor replied, filing that bit of information away in his mind. He set the bottles on the table, then began to pace slowly around the room. “Nonetheless, why be so open now? So randomly destructive? The only thing I deduce is young Angela and her clockwork servitor. It’s changed their plans in some way.”
Angela released the monkey, who scurried up onto the table. The young girl sat upright, clearing her throat. “Pardon me,” she glanced wide-eyed at the three men, trying not to blush as they turned to look at her. “I … I was wondering, how did they know? About me, I mean. I feel like they knew all along. The way they talked, it’s almost like … I don’t know … they have been searching for me this entire time.”
An icy silence settled over the room. The three men exchanged a look. Peter spoke up first.
“I hadn’t thought on that,” he said uncomfortably.
“How did I miss that?” the doctor said sternly. “The very moment the Fomorian burst in on us, he demanded you be turned over, Angela. Perhaps you’ve been seen running about the station?”
“I was trying to be careful,” she said glumly, watching the monkey meander across the table.
“I’m sure ya were,” Ian replied. “This just means they’ve more eyes out and about the station than we realize.”
Peter frowned, “It’d explain why we’ve not caught any of ’em.”
Thorias folded his arms over his chest, then winced from the motion, as his wound was still very tender. “It doesn’t explain why they so fervently want the young lady, but you’re quite right, it might explain these elixirs. This isn’t something easily made. A well-stocked chemical laboratory aboard a station like this would be noticed.” He gestured to the vials. “The base chemicals used have distinct and noxious odors when being processed. Liver of Sulfur itself is especially dangerous as it burns so very easily.”
“Mustard!” The monkey said in a squeaky tone, snatching up the vial with the yellow fluid.
The doctor immediately reached for the vial but the monkey scurried to the middle of the table, then stared at its prize. The fluid sloshed about the vial as the monkey swirled it around in front of its face.
Peter and Tonks sat up, ready to make a grab for the monkey if it tried to leave the table.
“I remember now why I never invested in the ‘monkey’ clockwork servitors,” Dr. Llwellyn said sourly. “Give that back this instant!” He ordered.
“In the sealed aquilla,” the monkey replied, only this time with a deeper, more natural voice broken with moments of static.
“That’s Father!” Angela said, sitting bolt upright.
“Who?” Fitzcarin asked.
“Dr. James Von Patterson,” Ian replied. “Right smart archeologist with a knack for trouble. The young miss’ father.”
“Father does not have a ‘knack’ for trouble, he’s just focused,” the young werewolf replied in an indignant tone.
“Hush,” Thorias said quickly, “it’s still replaying the recording.”
“… combined with Liver of Sulfur and the Hellgate seems to make the elixir,” the monkey announced. “Supposedly it would then be complete. Change the dose, and the skin burns and boils.” Falling silent, the monkey looked at the quartet in the room, then politely walked across the table and handed the vial to the doctor. The servitor’s amber eyes gleamed. “Comes the Fomorian,” it squeaked.
“My word,” Thorias said in a hushed tone, accepting the vial from the servitor.
“What’s ‘hellgate’?” Angela asked. “It’s never said that before,” she said, narrowing her eyes while she scrutinized the monkey.
“I wish I knew,” the doctor replied, watching the clockwork monkey as it scurried across the table, arms raised in its more normal ‘simian’ mannerisms. “An ingredient, I expect.”
“Sounds like it’s got something to do with that ‘sealed aquillia’, eh?” Peter said, his eyes following the monkey uncomfortably.
“It might,” Dr. Llwellyn replied. “Angela, you mentioned your Father unearthed the grave of a Roman apothecary. Was there any written information recovered? Do you remember a sealed container of any kind?”
The girl looked down at the table, frowning in thought. “There was a small book, but it was ruined. Water had rotted the pages.” Suddenly, she looked up, “Oh! Yes! A bag! Father found a bag. I don’t know what was in it, but it looked like it held these round containers. He sent it with Mother and myself to be taken to the museum. He was very careful with it.”
“That could be it,” Tonks said thoughtfully.
“I just … I mean this is too much ta take on,” Peter Fitzcarin replied. “Men changin’ shape if they drink from some elixir made from an old Roman recipe?” The orc shook his head, “Sounds like ghost and goblin stories ta me.”
“It’s improbable, but not impossible.” Dr. Llwellyn replied thoughtfully. “As I said before, werewolves change their form – not as dramatically as a Fomorian of course, but they can do it. I just wish we knew more about this formula. Specifically the ‘hellgate’ portion.”
Tonks frowned. Then, as if he had silently wrestled a thought to submission, he glanced over at the doctor. “Let’s ask yer patient.”
“I don’t speak a whit of his language,” Thorias replied.
“So ya said, but I can,” Ian replied. “Or I used ta speak it. It’s been a while.”
Dr. Llwellyn looked at the pilot in surprise. “I didn’t know you spoke German?”
“It’s been awhile,” Ian repeated, as he stood up. “I may not remember enough ta be helpful.”
“By all means then,” Thorias replied. “Just remember, he’s very weak. Don’t upset him too much, his constitution might not handle it.”
Tonks nodded, “I’ll remember.”
Leaving the others behind him, Tonks opened the door to the cells and stepped into the hallway, then closed the door. Quietly, the pilot walked down the line of cells, some of which were now empty. His footsteps echoed loud in his ears. He had not been entirely truthful with the doctor, and that he hated as much as anything.
He liked Thorias, as well as the rest of his ship mates aboard the Griffin. However, he forever worried that his past would catch up to him and destroy what small peace he had carved out for himself there. Now, at this instant, he worried that his past finally had arrived.
Ian stopped at the fourth cell in the row. Inside was a cot, a table and two chairs. On the cot the Formorian, only still in his average human size, lay quietly with his eyes closed. He shuddered slightly as if cold, despite the near constant flow of warm steam that kept the outside temperature at bay.
Tonks opened the cell door and stepped inside. Crossing over to a chair, he sat down.
“Guten tag, Garin,” Tonks said in German. “It has been awhile since Berlin, no?”
The blond man’s eyes slowly opened. A thin smile crossed his face, “Good day to you also, Ian,” the man replied in German. “I was wondering when you would pay me a visit.”