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

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