Sir John and Marie were in the parlour when Detectives Symonds and Dawlish arrived with Phlebotomous.
“Bad business,” said Dawlish, after the greetings. “Very bad business”
“Do we have an idea who the Fiend was?” said Sir John.
“None at all,” said Symonds. “We searched the room he had been renting and found, ah, flasks. We think they contained the victims’ blood. There were 10 in all, arranged in a curious pattern of concentric circles. Other than that, the room was devoid of anything normal, anything … human.”
“Why do you think it was the girls’ blood?” asked Marie.
“We examined the suit the Fiend was wearing in some detail,” said Symonds. “It was an ingenious design, if horrific. The face mask had needles which were connected to a flask in the suit, identical to the ones we found in his room. We think this is how the girls were … drained. The left hand was also connected to a needle, but one that injected a person with a chemical. We’ve analysed the chemical and it’s a powerful narcotic … and anti-coagulant.”
“So, that’s why the victims were acting strange,” said Sir John.
“Indeed,” said Symonds, “and there were motors at all the joints and so on, which gave the Fiend great strength and iron panels which provided armour.”
“Aaah!” said Phlebotomous, turning to Marie, “That’s why you were … unlucky! That’s why elves detest iron, you know. It blocks … luck.”
Symonds looked confused at the vampire.
“There is one thing that we couldn’t work out, which was the eye pieces in the mask,” said Symonds. “We brought it so you could have a look. They seem as though they should do something.”
“When I saw through …” started Marie. She looked at Sir John. “Perhaps the ectoscope may help.”
“Ah!” said Sir John and fished out his portable ectoscope. He looked at the mask.
“There’s definitely something paranormal about this,” he said. He put the mask over his face and looked around.
“Oh, I think I see what it does. It’s used to locate vampires. Everyone else looks normal, but Phlebotomous has a pale glow around him.”
Just them Miss Henderson came in the room with tea and biscuits.
“Good lord!” said Sir John. “Miss Henderson, are you a vampire? You have a glow too.”
Miss Henderson jumped at the sight of the mask.
“No, Sir John, I’m not presently a vampire,” she said.
“Perhaps,” he said, “it isn’t vampires that have this glow.”
Everyone turned to look at Phlebotomous, apart from Sir John.
“What! It’s hard to make the acquaintance of ladies when you’re a vampire!” said Phlebotomous. “It’s not the sort of thing that girls look for in a suitor!”
“Miss Henderson,” said Dawlish, “you are to be congratulated on your fighting skills, if I understand correctly.”
“Oh, I see!” said Sir John, who put down the mask suddenly. He had gone a shade of red.
“I had training,” said Miss Henderson. “My best friend, Veronica Fairfax, was killed by the Fiend and I vowed that it wouldn’t happen to me. I went to Chinatown to learn the ancient oriental ways of combat. When I heard that Sir Jennings was chasing the Fiend, and there was a position in his household, I put myself forward in the hope I might confront the Fiend. I hope you don’t mind, Sir Jennings.”
“Since you saved our lives, I think we can accept that,” said Sir John.
“Miss Fairfax was the first victim,” said Symonds gently. “You’ve done well to learn so quickly in just a few months.”
“I had four older brothers, so I had a head start,” said the maid. “But it is my ambition in time to be a mistress of all the marital arts.”
Dawlish spat some tea out and Symonds went a light pink colour.
Marie took Miss Henderson by the arm.
“Perhaps we should find some cake,” she said and led the maid out of the room.
“I wonder if this is an appropriate time to discuss my invoice?” said Sir John.
Symonds and Dawlish looked a little surprised.
“Sir John,” said Dawlish, “we thought you understood this was a public service. That it was pro bono as the lawyers say.”
“Oh,” said Sir John. “That wasn’t entirely clear.”
“We have decided to give you an award though,” said Symonds, “because of your help. We have decided to make you an honorary …”
“Detective?” said Sir John excitedly.
“Constable,” finished Symonds.
“You won’t have any powers as such, but you can have this,” said Dawlish.
Sir John looked down at his hand.
“To call help, if you need it,” explained Symonds.
“Well,” said Phlebotomous, “what do we do next?”
“There is little we can do,” said Dawlish. “The Fiend is dead. Whatever his twisted scheme was, it’s finished. But there are no clues to follow, no idea of who he was, where he came from. He took all that to the grave with him. It’s likely we will have to be content that we have stopped him. We may never know what he was trying to do. Or how close he came to doing it.”
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