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

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