The Clockwork Conjuror: Chapter 11

Sir John, Marie, Phlebotomous and the Clockwork Conjuror all sat in the Jennings’ Southampton Row residence. The Conjuror was obviously distressed and was sniffing and occasionally making a trumpet-like sound blowing his nose. Each time he did this Phlebotomous jumped.

The door opened and Miss Henderson stepped in with Detective Symonds.

“Jo… Detective Symonds,” introduced Miss Henderson. She did an awkward half curtsey and added. “I shall fetch some tea.”

“What’s the latest?” said Sir John.

“The rogue never came back,” said Detective Symonds. “I waited there hours after you left and then posted a constable overnight.”

“Then the trail has gone cold. It’s like you said, Phlebotomous,” said Sir John.

“‘Ironic indeed,” said Phlebotomous, “‘I shall take them to my donjon’. That’s what he said.

“His…dungeon?” said Detective Symonds.

“His chateau… castle,” said Marie. “It’s an old French word.”

“Then the trail may not be cold,” said Detective Symonds, “because I think I know where that is. I found out that the warehouse where Phlebotomous was being kept was rented by one Viscount Victor Vernal. When I showed the owner the picture the automaton drew…”

There was a loud trumpet noise from the Conjuror. Phlebotomous jumped.

“…he recognised it as the Viscount. Furthermore, I found that he was listed as a known associate of Lord Anglestone, who you recall, led Draco Viridis.”

“I could hardly forget,” said Sir John. “Then we have our man.” 

“There are… complications,” said Detective Symonds. “Cawdor House is the building that is probably his… donjon. That is the family house, and is in Northumberland. I have no jurisdiction there. And… I also have no crime to arrest him for.”

“He kidnapped Phlebotomous,” said Sir John, “and the automata.”

There was another loud trumpeting sound, not unlike an elephant.

“Indeed,” said Detective Symonds. “But none of those… people… are seen as such by the law, on account of being dead. All I can arrest him for is possession of stolen goods. And the Metropolitan Police won’t let me travel that far for that.”

“That’s criminal!” cried the Conjuror.

“Sadly,” said Detective Symonds, “it’s not.”

“This changes nothing,” said Sir John. “We’ll head up at once.”

Mon chère,” said Marie. “I understand how you feel, but we need to be a bit patient here. This man will be very powerful in his own domain. We won’t have any support there.”

“We have our wits,” said Sir John, “and your skills and Phlebotomous… er …”

He was interrupted by Miss Henderson coming in with a tray of tea.

“I shall start the packing at once,” she said, putting the tray down. She cracked her knuckles and left.

“And Miss Henderson,” said Sir John.

“I don’t think it’s wise to take Fel… Miss Henderson,” said Detective Symonds. “There may be grave danger, unknown risks and the possibility of deadly violence.”

The maid stuck her head round the door.

“Mr Bosch, may I use the knife sharpening device on my katana?” she asked.

“I have no doubt there will be,” said Sir John. “Especially for Viscount Vernal.”

‘I shall take them to my donjon

The Clockwork Conjuror: Chapter 10

There was a commotion outside the door, but the Clockwork Conjuror was silent. This was partly because he was trying to listen attentively to what was happening, and partly because he’d been gagged and strapped to a chair. Finally, the commotion resolved into some voices followed by a loud slamming sound against the door. An angry looking woman in a maid’s uniform burst in.

“We should probably proceed with a bit more caution,” said Sir John from outside the room before stepping in the room. He was followed by a man the Conjuror recognised from the puppet’s drawing.

“Good God! What happened man?” said Sir John on seeing the Conjuror. 

The Conjuror rolled his eyes and tried to indicate the gag. The maid came over and took it off and began untying him.

“I have the strangest sense of day jar view,” said the maid, “I’m Miss Henderson by the way.”

“Charmed to meet you,” said the Conjuror, “I’m David Bumblewit, Clockwork Conjuror extraordinaire.”

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous “No wonder I couldn’t find you in Debretts, I didn’t realise you used a stage name.”

“What’s happened here?” repeated Sir John.

“I, er, you really didn’t realise Clockwork Conjuror was a stage name?” said the Conjuror.

“No, or that your mechanisms were really just spirits summoned from the nether realms,” said Phlebotomous. “I’m starting to wonder if we can trust anything you say.”

He crossed his arms and tried to look stern. Miss Henderson had a small coughing fit.

“He came for them, for my little guys,” said the Conjuror, deciding to direct his attention to Sir John, who seemed a little saner. “The man in the drawing. They trashed the place.”

Sir John looked around the room surveying the general demeanour. He looked a little puzzled, as if he couldn’t see any difference.

“They?” said Sir John, “The man  had help?”

“He had henchmen,” said the Conjuror.

“Henchmen,” said Miss Henderson. She cracked her knuckles and licked her lips. The Conjuror found it a little disconcerting.

“He held Phlebotomous here captive as well,” said Sir John. “He had some dastardly scheme to extract magic from Phlebotomous and use it himself.”

“Did he succeed?” said the Conjuror, feeling worried now.

“No,” said Phlebotomous. “The wiring of his device was all wrong, it needed much more power than he had, and I’m not even sure what he was going to attempt was possible.”

“So, his machine broke down?” said the Conjuror.

“He didn’t even start it,” said Phlebotomous. “Once I mentioned that your act was phoney, he lost interest and left.”

“Phoney?” said the Conjuror.

“Yes,” said Phlebotomous, “passing off common and garden spirits as machines.”

“You… you told him they were magical?” said the Conjuror.

“Well it was ironic,” said Phlebotomous.

The Conjuror was utterly perplexed.

“What will I do,” he said, “those little guys, if he takes their magic away, they’ll die won’t they?”

“Mr Bumblewit, don’t worry”, said Sir John. “We are experts in such mysteries. We can help.”

The Conjuror looked at the maid, the sulking vampire and the posh gent.

“My poor guys,” he said.

Poor little guys

The Clockwork Conjuror: Chapter 9

There was a commotion outside the door, but Phlebotomous was silent. This was partly because he was trying to listen attentively to what was happening, and partly because he’d been gagged and strapped to a chair. Finally, the commotion resolved into some voices. They seemed to be trying to whisper and failing badly.

“Are you sure this is it?” said a man.

“Yes,” said a woman with a Scottish accent, “I could find that combination of scents if it was on the moon.”

“We’d better take the advantage of surprise,” said another man, “stand back while I…”

The door burst open, and Miss Henderson and Morag fell into the room.

“..knock the door down,” said Detective Symmonds. “Fel…Miss Henderson, that was very reckless.”

“He’s my friend too,” said the maid. “Look there he is.”

“Wait, it may be dangerous!” called out Sir John.

“It certainly will be for the gent who did this,” said Miss Henderson.

She arrived in front of Phlebotomous.

“Mr Bosch, are you all right?” she said.

“Hr…ngh…hnn…hrr,” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh right,” said Miss Henderson and removed the gag.

“Yes very well,” said Phlebotomous. “But how did you find me?”

“We, er…” started Miss Henderson.

“I could follow your… scent… from the theatre,” said Morag. “It’s quite… unique.”

“Personal hygiene is very important,” said Phlebotomous, “especially when you’re several hundred years old and dead.”

Sir John and Detective Symmonds came over. Sir John started looking at the machine next to Phlebotomous. He stared at it curiously for a while before jumping backwards.

“Good Lord,” he said, “Is this what I think it is?”

“Is that a rhetorical question?,” said Phlebotomous. “People keep asking me questions as if I could read their thoughts.”

“Isn’t that something people like you can do?” said Detective Symonds.

“Inventors?” said Phlebotomous. “Not usually.”

“It’s a machine designed to extract magical power from something,” said Sir John. “Thank heavens we got here in time.”

“It won’t work,” said Phlebotomous,” I did explain it to the man, but he didn’t seem to listen.”

“Was this the chap that abducted you?” said Detective Symonds, holding the picture that Danny the automaton had drawn.

“Yes!” said Phlebotomous. “He said he used to be a member of Draco Viridis. He remembered me from the church.”

“I wondered when we’d cross paths with them again,” said Sir John, “Let’s get you out of here, before he gets back.”.

“Actually, I don’t think he is coming back,” said Phlebotomous. “He seemed to lose interest in me after I mentioned the haunted puppets.”

“The Clockwork Conjurors puppets?” said Sir John.

“Yes, what a disappointment to discover they were just a bunch of spirits,” said Phlebotomous and sighed.

“So, he lost interest in you when he found out that they were magical creatures?” said Sir John.

“Yes,” said Phlebotomous. “He said ‘ironic indeed’ and then left in a hurry.”

Sir John and Detective Symmonds looked at each other.

“We have to check on the Conjuror,” said Sir John.

a machine designed to extract magical power

The Clockwork Conjuror: Chapter 8

The tall, thin and rather severe looking man leant over Phlebotomous who was strapped into a chair.

“Soon, my vampiric friend, this machine will suck all of the magic out of you and will give it to me, making me powerful beyond belief,” he said. The glint in his eye suggested a manic cackle was imminent.

“You can’t do this,” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh yes I can,” said the man.

“No, you can’t,” said Phlebotomous. “Your main capacitor is overloaded by too many inputs, there is a dampener in the wrong place on the output, and the whole device is chronically short of power.”

Phlebotomous nodded to the large machine that he was connected to.

“How stupid do you think I am?” said the tall man.

“From the state of the wiring, I would guess slightly above average intelligence?” said Phlebotomous earnestly.

“Silence!” roared the man. “I am a genius!”

“Not with wiring,” said Phlebotomous, which earned him a glare.

“It’s ironic, isn’t it?” started the tall man.

“What is?” said Phlebotomous.

“What I’m about to tell you,” said the man irritably.

“Oh, then I don’t know,” said Phlebotomous.

“Don’t know what?” said the man.

“If it’s ironic or not, since I don’t know what it is yet,” said Phlebotomous.

“I know you don’t know, that’s why I’m telling you,” said the man.

“Then why did you ask my opinion on whether it was ironic?” said Phlebotomous.

“It… it was a rhetorical question!” said the man.

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous. “One of those questions you’re not supposed to answer.”

“Exactly,” said the man. “Now, have you quite finished interrupting me?”

There was an awkward pause and Phlebotomous squirmed in his chair.

“Is that rhetorical?” he said.

“Yes! No! I don’t know,” said the man. “Anyway, my point is this: It is ironic that I spent so many months going to so many magic shows to find a magical creature on the stage, when one should be in the audience.”

“That doesn’t sound ironic,” said Phlebotomous. “I can see a distinct causal link.”

“Don’t try my patience,” snapped the man. “You see I recognised you straight away from the church. From the day your friends attacked it.”

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous, “You must be one of those Draco Viridis people.”

“We do not speak of that order,” said the man, lips pursed. “It failed in all its aims and was rightfully disbanded in disgrace.”

“Are you one of those people who wanted me to bite them?” asked Phlebotomous.

“No, I have no desire to be a shadow, working in the dark,” said the tall man. “Forever driven to madness by hunger.”

“Oh things aren’t that bad,” said Phlebotomous. “We have electric lights now and I have developed a delicious plant-based alternative to human blood.”

“Enough of you chatter,” said the man. “We will commence the power transference.”

He walked away with a manic grin on his face.

“It still won’t work,” said Phlebotomous. “And your story isn’t ironic. What is ironic is going to see a show thinking it’s automata pretending to be spirits, and finding it’s spirits pretending to be automata.”

The man paused in front of a giant lever marked ON.

“What did you just say?” he said.