The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 8

policemen at door prisma

Sir John walked into the main room of the artists’ church clutching his head and saw Morag lying on the floor.

“I think we’ll have to postpone the experiment with the powder,” he announced. “I feel terrible today.”

“Aye well,” said Morag. “That would be one of the three side effects.”

Sir John looked confused.

“A splitting headache?” he asked.

“No,” said Morag, “I meant the total memory loss. We did it yesterday.”

“We did?” said Sir John. “I don’t recall a thing.”

“That’s probably for the best, you were a wee bit out of it.” said Morag.

“Did I do anything embarrassing?” said Sir John. “Did we find the avatar?”

“Well, let’s deal with the last one first,” said Morag. “After a bit of, what we can only describe as drug engendered fannying around and a whole barrel load of nonsense we did indeed find a door that leads to the avatar.”

“Oh good,” said Sir John. “I think. Did we… fail the challenge?”

“Nothing so high falutin,” said Morag. “We got stopped by the rozzers. Or so we thought.”

“Wait! I think I recall something,” said Sir John.

“Ah yeah,” said Morag. “That’s the other symptom, flashbacks:

“Stop at once,” said the first policeman. “What do you think you are doing?”

“We were just admiring this ornate doorway,” said Miss Henderson.

“Do you expect us to believe that?” said the policeman. “I suspect you were planning a robbery.”

“But there isn’t a building behind this door,” said Miss Henderson. “What do you think we were going to rob.”

“Why don’t you come to the station and you can tell us,” said the second policeman.

Morag coughed loudly.

“Look! You’re disturbing our dog,” said Miss Henderson and bent down to Morag.

“And what do you have to say sir?” said the first policeman to Sir John.

“Cancel my subscription to the resurrection,” said Sir John.

“Why are they speaking Engish?” whispered Morag to Miss Henderson. “They don’t sound French at all.”

Miss Henderson stood up quickly. “Parly view ong lay?” she said to the policemen. 

The first policeman looked a little perplexed, was punched in the face by Miss Henderson and looked even more perplexed as he fell to the ground. The second policeman reached for his truncheon and received, in short measure, a kick to the groin, the knees and then the head. A little distance away a whistle blew and some more men in uniform ran toward the scene.

“Go,” said Miss Henderson, “I’ll hold them off.”

Morag looked at the two policeman lying on the floor and the others approaching.

“Good luck,” she said as she tugged on the lead pulling Sir John.

“I’ll be fine,” said Miss Henderson.

“I meant the coppers,” said Morag as she hurried away.

“Good lord,” said Sir John, “What happened next. Where’s Miss Henderson.”

“Well the second lot of coppers turned out to be real police,” said Morag. “Luckily, they spoke to Miss Henderson in French before she could wallop them but they arrested her for walloping the other two.”

“So she’s in jail,” gasped Sir John. 

“Well,” continued Morag, “then they worked out the lads on the ground weren’t rozzers and arrested them too. When they got back to the station, they asked Miss Henderson what had happened and she said they tricked her and attacked her.”

“So… they let her go?” said Sir John.

“Actually,” said Miss Henderson, whistling happily and carrying a tray of tea and biscuits. “They offered me a job.”


French Policemen

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 7


“All the trees are mauve,” said Sir John. “The sky, amber-gris.”

“Are you sure I mixed it right?” said Miss Henderson to Morag, hurrying to keep up with Sir John on the street.

“I watched you do it myself,” said Morag. “It was fine. You’ve got quite a talent for it.”

“It’s like cooking,” said Miss Henderson, “only my cooking doesn’t usually have this effect.”

“Aye well,” said Morag, “that special brew that we made should put Sir John into the realm of the imagination. And hence he should be able to see where we might find the avatar.”

“West is best!” pronounced Sir John, pointing east and heading that way at a fierce pace.

“In theory at least,” said Morag as she and Miss Henderson picked up the pace.

“French cooking seems to affect Mrs Jennings,” said Miss Henderson. “Do you think maybe that’s alchemical.”

“I think that’s nostalgia,” said Morag.

“Oh,” said Miss Henderson, “so it gives her headaches.”

“Weird scenes inside the goldmine,” said Sir John rather excitably, pointing toward the Seine. “Ride the king’s highway.”

“Does that make sense to you?” said Miss Henderson.

“Oh aye,” said Morag. “I understand completely. I think I may have messed up the potion a bit.”

“He is the lizard king,” said Sir John, gravely. “He can do… anything.”

“That could be a reference to salamanders, which are associated with fire,” said Morag, “or maybe just drug induced nonsense.”

The trio found themselves approaching the Sorbonne.

“Streets are uneven,” said Sir John, stroking his chin and looking around.

“This seems like it might be a good place for imagination,” said Miss Henderson. “The door says it’s a university, although they’ve spelt it wrong.”

“I’m sure it’s full of imaginative minds, but I think it’s thrown him off the scent,” said Morag. “Seems too obvious.”

Sir John looked around the entrance of the Sorbonne.

“When is a door not a door?” he said.

“When it’s ajar?” said Morag, hoping it might help.

Sir John fixed an eye on Morag.

“When it’s a grain of sand.” he said. “Land ho!”

He headed north towards the Seine then crossed at the Pont de Sully.

“We dug our treasures there,” he said whilst walking at quite a pace. The trio crossed over at speed and stopped at a halt once on the right bank.

“I wonder if the death of Emile has unhinged him a bit,” said Morag. “They were good friends.”

“I keep thinking about him,” said Miss Henderson. “He was such a nice man. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“I just got into town an hour ago,” said Sir John, with a gentle tone. He looked up and down the street then slapped himself on the forehead. 

“Mr Mojo Rising!” he said, then shot down the Rue du Petit-Musc. Miss Henderson and Morag ran after him as quickly as they could. Sir John turned left then right then went a little further before stopping. 

Morag arrived first and struggled to catch her breath. She looked at where Sir John was staring.

“Oh,” she said.

Miss Henderson arrived a little later, cursing under her breath and trying to hold up the skirts she was wearing without revealing her ankles to the world. She looked at where Sir John and Morag were staring and saw the large ornate door with “Hotel Raoul” written above it. 

“This is definitely the place then,” she said.

“Aye,” said Morag. “This must be the only grand entrance in Paris that doesn’t actually have a building attached to it.”

“Alive!” Sir John cried.


Hotel Raoul

Cogs, Crowns and Carriages (and Kickstarters)

Twitter Regicide and Prejudice quote 2Dear Reader

We are delighted beyond belief to inform you that our esteemed lead writer Mr Paul Michael Esq has had the very good fortune to be in yet another anthology. This time he will be in the most excellent Cogs, Crowns and Carriages Steampunk anthology (one of a pair along with Gears, Ghouls and Gauges).

Alas, though, the anthology may never see the light of day unless enough charitable folk contribute to a “Kickstarter” campaign. We implore you to consider this opportunity presented here

In any event, we are excited about the imminent release and will be posting more anon.




The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 6


“I thought they’d never go,” said Miss Henderson coming into the church with Morag and letting her off the lead.

“I thought you liked the police?” said Morag, innocently.

Miss Henderson sighed and put her hands on her waist.

“I have a very good friend who happens to be a detective, yes that is true,” said Miss Henderson. “That doesn’t mean I like all of them. Especially not with my family.”

Morag chuckled, then stopped.

“Sir John,” she said, “is something wrong?”

Sir John was sitting at the big table staring at his hands. He looked pale.

“Emile is dead,” he said. “Poisoned, apparently.”

Miss Henderson gasped and took a seat.

“Who?” she said.

“The police rather seem to think it’s Miss Bellevoix,” said Sir John. “They found her keys there.”

“That’s not proof,” said Miss Henderson, “that’s, what does Detective Symonds call it… circumcisional evidence.”

“Nevertheless,” said Sir John “we haven’t seen her for a day or two. And they want to speak to her.”

“Perhaps she’s with Marie,” said Phlebotomous, emerging from the vampires’ lair with Osvold. “We haven’t seen her for a day or two either.”

“Ah,” said Sir John, “you noticed.”

Miss Henderson glanced at Morag.

“We all sort of noticed,” said Morag. “But we didnae wanna ask.”

Sir John sighed and continued to stare in front of him.

“Mrs Jennings… Marie… has gone to find her family. She discovered that the pendant and the moondial seem to behave strangely when they are together. The compass, it points south. So Marie was following it to find out why. She thought she wouldn’t be missed because… because…”

“Emile and Sabine were still here,” said Morag. “Now one is dead and one is missing.”

“And we,” said Sir John. “We are alone.”

The room was silent for a moment.

“Poor Emile,” said Miss Henderson. “He seemed like such a kind man.”

“He was a rogue and a joker,” said Sir John. “He was a thorn in the side of professional idiots and… my friend. I shall miss him.

“You don’t think,” said Miss Henderson. “It’s not possible that Sabine…”

“No,” said Sir John. “She’s not a poisoner. I’m worried for her safety. I think she dropped the keys in shock. I hope she’s just… spending some time away. I hope she’s back soon.”

The silence returned.

“Mr Bosch,” said Morag, “Did you manage to find anything about the next key?”

“Well, it’s been a little bit harder without Sabine to translate the ancient Greek, but we have made some good progress.” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh, that’s good,” said Morag.

“Yes,” said Phlebotomous, “we’ve managed to get the list down to around one hundred possible places.”

“Ah,” said Morag.

“What’s the criteria?” said Sir John.

“Well, last time we had the Oracle to help,” said Phlebotomous. “This time we just have the notes. They’re a little more obscure.”

“…than the Oracle?” said Morag.

“There are references to aristocrats born, kings dying and doors to nowhere and everywhere,” said Phlebotomous.

“So we’re stumped then,” said Sir John.

“It’s fire isn’t it,” said Morag. “The element of imagination?”

“Yes,” said Sir John. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, as a practising alchemist of several hundred years, I may have something to help,” said Morag. “But, I’ll need a spare pair of hands.”

The Paris Awakening: Fire Part 5

hand keys prisma

Sir John sat alone in the Church of the Artists. Miss Henderson and Morag were out walking and the vampires were huddled in their lair, trying to work out where the final key piece lay. Sir John had dropped the mask of enthusiasm he had been wearing and stared vacantly ahead. Occasionally he sighed. There was a knock at the door, and he pulled himself up and walked to it, opening it slowly. Outside were two men in police uniforms.

Madame Bellvoix est-elle ici?” said the taller one.

“I’m sorry,” said Sir John. “My French is… Je parle seule un peu Francais.

Anglais?” asked the Policeman. “Parlez Anglais?

Oui, yes,” said Sir John. “Both.”

The Policeman looked puzzled.

“I am English and I speak English,” Sir John said. “What is the matter?”

“Is Madame Bellevoix here?” said the Policeman.

“Er, no,” said Sir John. “She went out… I don’t know when.”

“But she lives here?” said the Policeman.

“As much as she lives anywhere…” said Sir John. “Has something happened?”

“Do you recognise these?” said the Policeman and held up a set of keys with a fob. Written on the fob was Sabine’s name. “Do these belong to Madame Bellevoix.”

Sir John squinted at the keys.

“Maybe,” said Sir John. “I couldn’t swear to it. Did you find them somewhere? I can keep them and see if they are hers when she returns?”

The two policemen glanced at each other then spoke quickly and quietly in French. Sir John couldn’t quite keep up. The shorter man stepped forward.

“We want to speak to her as a witness to a suspected murder,” he said. “The keys were found at the scene, so we cannot let you have them. But we would like to know if you see her. Can we take your name please?”

“Yes, of course,” said Sir John. “It’s Sir John Jennings. I live in London but we are visiting here.”

“We?” said the Policeman.

“My wife and I,” said Sir John. “She’s French.”

“May we speak with her?” said the Policeman. “She may know something.”

“Er…no,” said Sir John. “She is away.”

“She will be back later?” said the Policeman.

“Not today, not… well I don’t know when,” said Sir John and looked down.

The policemen glanced at each other.

“Does anyone else… stay here?” said the short policeman.

“My maid…” said Sir John, “ and… er… some friends, some times, but they are out too.”

“May we come in?” said the taller policeman.

“It’s not very convenient at the moment,” said Sir John.

The policemen spoke quickly in French again.

“Do you know an Emile Planquette?” asked the short man.

“Yes, yes,” said Sir John. “He is a friend of mine. But he’s not here either.”

“We are aware of that,” said short policeman.

“How do you kn…” started Sir John. “Wait, is it Emile? The victim?”

“Yes,” said the short policeman.

Sir John moaned, tipped back and held on to the door frame.

“Dead?” he said.

“Yes” said the policeman.

“How?” said Sir John. “What happened?”

“We believe he was poisoned in his home, from the condition of the body. We found these keys next to his corpse. So naturally we are keen to speak to Madame Bellevoix.”

“Sabine?” said Sir John. “They were… they were very close… they were…”

“Lovers?” said the policeman.

“Something like that,” said Sir John. “I don’t believe it.”

“That she killed him?” said the policeman.

Sir John shot the policeman a sharp look. 

“That he’s dead!” shouted Sir John. “I’m sorry she is not here, but Sabine would never hurt him.”

He slammed the door on the police.

“Would she?” he said.