The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 5

Eye looking through doorChaos reigned in Emile’s apartment. As he watched it unfold, Emile considered that whilst this was not a new phenomenon, the circumstances were somewhat unusual. There was a knock at door and Emile opened it a crack and looked out. Sabine glared back at him.

“Do you have a woman?” she said.

“No!” said Emile, “why would you say such a thing?”

“Then let me into the apartment!” she said.

Emile opened the door and Sabine breezed in dramatically. She went to speak then looked at the scene in front of her.

“What is happening here?” she said. “Are you having a party?”

“Well,” said Emile, “it’s like this: The two pale gentlemen over there are apparently vampires. One came from England, although I don’t think he’s English, and the other worked in Dinard’s shop. We have just worked out that the Clackprattle man and his pookah side-kick are in Paris, looking for a weapon, and probably killed Dinard.”

Mon Dieu!” said Sabine, “Sir John I recognise, but the other lady and the dog…”

“The dog is called Morag and is the daughter of the alchemist Sir John told us about. For a set of reasons I have yet to grasp, she is in the body of a dog. The tall lady is their maid.”

“And she has supernatural powers?” said Sabine looking in awe at the group.

“No,” said Emile, “but she is an expert in Kung Fu and other martial arts. They went to the hotel of Sir John and interrupted Pook who had mesmerised Marie. Marie is having a little lie down after that.”

“Of course, of course” said Sabine absently, then walked into the room.

Allo one and all,” she announced. “My name is Sabine Bellevoix and I am here to help.”
The assembled cast looked around and the flamboyantly dressed lady smiling broadly at them. Miss Henderson sniffed.

“Ah, you must be the maid,” said Sabine. “How fortunate that you happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

“I’m not sure I like your inspiration,” said Miss Henderson with a frown.

Sabine’s smile froze and she looked a little confused.

“As I’ve explained to your… gentlemen friend… I was showing Miss Henderson how to use alchemic powders for fortune telling,” said Morag. “We divined there was danger for the family and came as soon as we could. We were waiting in the lobby for Sir John when Pook arrived and so we followed him up.”

“Of course, of course,” said Sabine, “forgive me, I didn’t mean to sound critical.”

“I am uncomfortable when people cast excursions,” said Miss Henderson looking down.

“Oh dear,” said Sabine, “we seem to have got off on the wrong foot.”
Miss Henderson muttered something also that maybe included “off” and Sir John coughed.

“We do need to understand why Morag was unaffected by Pook’s influence,” said Sir John. “It may help us overcome his power. We should try some experiments, perhaps.”

Emile, Sir John and Phlebotomous all looked curiously over at Morag.

“Ye can get that idea right out of yon heads!” she said.

“If I may be so bold,” said Miss Henderson, “I would suggest that our biggest problem is one of location. Clearly Clackprattle and Pook know about the shop where Osvold lives and the hotel where Sir John and Mrs Jennings are.”

“Well you may stay here of course,” said Emile. “It will be a little cramped but…”

“Nonsense,” said Sabine. “I insist everyone stay in my rooms in Montparnasse. They are more than adequate.”

“You have rooms in Montparnasse?” said Emile incredulously.

“A girl has to have secrets,” said Sabine. “We are closer to the life here, it is too quiet there.”

Sir John stood up.

“I’ll go and wake Marie,” he said, “and let her know we are likely to be moving.”

“It is perhaps 20 minutes away!” said Emile. “I slept on the sofa… for weeks… to save you 20 minutes?”

“It was very noble of you,” said Sabine, “and quite unnecessary.”

Emile started to speak when Sir John ran back into the room.

“Marie!” he said. “She’s gone!”

 

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 4

marie with diary 2p

“Well hello Mr Pook, why don’t you come in?” said Pook. “That’s what you’re supposed to say, Marie.”

He walked into the room while Marie stood by the door, dumbfounded.

“It’s been such a long time and so much has happened, Mr Pook,” Pook continued. “Do tell me all your news.”

Pook looked at Marie and smiled.

“That would be the civilized thing to say Marie,” he said. “But you wouldn’t say that, would you? And now, indeed, nor can can you. That must come as a little bit of a surprise, I imagine. To learn that I have acquired a more… persuasive ability since last we met. You may close the door now.”

Marie absently pushed the door shut and stared aghast at the creature in front of her.

“Oh Marie, if only you’d seen things my way from the start. We could have ditched Clackprattle and that buffoon you’re married to. We could have fleeced Anglestone of that marvellous little stone. We could have danced around the world with the power of life and death in our hands. What a most wonderful adventure we could have had,” he said, then looked down.

“Instead, you mocked and insulted me, rejected me. But Marie, you see, I don’t mind all that. See where I am now, don’t you want to come with me? That’s better than being stuck in here reading all day,” he said, glancing at the book she had.

“Oh my,” Pook continued, “a diary. How utterly fascinating. What wonders are in there, I can barely imagine.”

He moved towards her and there was a knock at the door.

“Room service,” said a lady’s voice.

Pook look annoyed then saw the dishes on the table.

“Wrong room,” he said, ”you brought food already.”

“It’s, er, dessert,” said the voice. “It’s prophet-a-holes.”

Pook walked to the door and opened it a little.

“Now look…” he started but the door crashed in on him. A large woman barged into the room and punched Pook in the face. Behind her came a large dog that growled at Pook as he lay on the floor.

Mon Dieu,” gasped Marie, “Miss Henderson and… Morag!”

“Silence!” said Pook sitting up and clutching his nose, blood seeping between his fingers. Everyone else in the room stood stock still.

“You see now, the importance of good manners,” he said. “My dear ladies, I’m afraid I have the upper hand now.

“Ahm afraid that I’m no lady,” said the dog with a deep Scottish brogue, “and if you don’t get your upper hand out of here now, you’ll be picking it out from between ma teeth.”

Pook smiled graciously.

Touche,” he said. He looked at the frozen women.

“Let’s not say goodbye,” he said, “Let’s say au revoir.”

Pook left the room and both Miss Henderson and Marie unfroze.

“What a bleeding cheek,” said Miss Henderson. Marie collapsed and was caught by the maid, just as she burst into tears.

Miss Henderson looked at the untidy room, the dishevelled look of Marie and finally caught sight of the French cuisine on the table. She sighed heavily.

“We shall have to find you some proper food, Mrs Jennings,” she said.

The Cornish Curse: Epilogue

Sir John and Marie sat in the front room of their home in London with Phlebotomous Bosch. Marie was crocheting, Phlebotomous was tinkering with some mechanical device and Sir John was reading The Times when Miss Henderson came in. The room was quiet apart from the rhythmic snoring of Morag, lying by the fire.

“The afternoon post has arrived,” Miss Henderson announced and handed Sir John a letter. He took it and opened it.

“Ah, it’s from the Mallums!” he said. “They send their greetings to everyone, including you Miss Henderson, and thank us again for our help.”

“That’s generous of them,” said Miss Henderson.

“Well, we only uncovered their, er, problem,” said Sir John. “They go on to especially thank Morag for giving them the details of the tincture which reduces the symptoms of their daughters’ condition. Apparently they are now able to function normally during a full moon without, well, transforming.”

Morag lifter her head up from where she had been dozing by the fire.

“Ach, it’s nothing,” she said, “just a case of balancing the silver out with some extra gold.”

“Yes,” said Sir John, ”they mention how pleased they are that their farm labourers have returned to work for them as the gold is quite expensive. Apparently, the girls all asked to be remembered to Phlebotomous and reiterated their sorrow and embarrassment at the final night.”

Phlebotomous looked a little awkward.

“It was quite a scare,” said the vampire. “It’s made me think about possible future romantic attachments. I think it wise if I keep to the bachelor life. However attractive I may be to these girls, I think it’s for the best all round.”

Miss Henderson unfortunately had a small coughing fit at that point, which she covered with a handkerchief. Marie stared quite determinedly at her crochet as her shoulders gave a small shake.

“Sounds very sensible Mr Bosch,” said Sir John. “They also say that they fear news of the incident may have spread. Apparently Marsh left their employment shortly afterwards and started working for Lord du Bois. Now, Lord du Bois is rarely seen in their house. Mr Mallum is somewhat distressed by this and fears the worst.”

“I imagine Mr Marsh is more comfortable under Lord du Bois,” said Miss Henderson. Sir John looked at her quizzically.

“He seemed more like a man’s man,” she said, by way of explanation.

“Yes,” said Sir John,” I believe you are right. Anyway, they conclude by saying all is well and we are welcome to visit any time.”

Sir John folded the letter and put it down.

“Another satisfied customer,” he said. “Miss Henderson, perhaps we could have some tea and biscuits.”

“Yes, Sir Jennings,” she said and left.

“Oh. They have informed us that the payment will take a little time to arrange,” said Sir John sounding glum.

“Well, we have plenty of money after the alchemist, ne c’est pas?” said Marie.

“Indeed,” said Sir John, still looking at the letter and sounding glum.

“What is it?” said Marie.

“In lieu of the first payment they have sent us this drawing by Prudence,” said Sir John. “It’s of Mr Bosch.”

Marie and Phlebotomous looked at the drawing. They both frowned in unison

“I think it’s what you call the … modern style,” said Sir John.

CC Epilogue“Modern Style”

*With apologies to Pablo Picasso…

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 9

“Tell them about the artefacts,” said Morag. Diarmuid sighed and continued his story.

“I suppose some people came and took what remained after the fire. These were the artefacts that resided in the British Museum. As for me, I used the rest of the stone to extend my life and make some gold, then started again. What else could I do? I managed to recreate most of my tools, but the items I had lost, well, one of the items, seemed invaluable. They were in the hands of one Sir Hans Sloane. The crucial item was only needed for the last step, so I waited until just before the work was complete. I broke into the gentleman’s house to retrieve my tools and to complete my work. I did not see it as theft, as they were mine to start with.

“Alas, again I was unsuccessful, as my physical form here attests. Some Red Stone, but no elevation. I sent back the items to Sir Sloane in frustration, but then started again. One hundred years ago I was also close and again needed that crucial item. By now the artefacts were in the museum, which is from where I ‘borrowed’ them. I hardly need tell you that attempt failed. I believed then there was a flaw in the items I had used. I set out to create new tools from scratch. Again, I returned the ‘borrowed’ items so no one would look for them, or more importantly, me, and thought no more of them until recently.

“It was just a few short weeks ago that I was carrying out a divination and I saw there were others who wished to use my tools for ill ends. I could not be sure who they were, but it was reasonably clear the tools would be stolen. I waited each night outside the museum until I saw some rogue enter the building. On his exit, I relieved him of his ill-gotten gains. I established that he was a mere hired hand and knew nothing. I brought the artifacts back here. Albert has been kind enough to let us stay, you see.

“I thought the matter over and the crisis averted until yesterday. I believe you visited a couple of days before? Ah, curses, if we had only … still, hindsight is the wisest yet tardiest wisdom. During the night there was a disturbance. I woke to see a creature of some kind, a golem I think, leaving the window. It had only taken one artefact, the most dangerous, the most powerful.”

“What was it?” asked Sir John.

“It is a glass, a lens,” said Diarmuid, “which at the very end of the process is used to turn the alchemist from his fixed earthly form to a being of spiritual light. The danger is that it may be reversed, may be used to turn a spiritual being, even a malign one, especially a malign one, into something physical. This is what I believe these people are trying to do.”

“This Draco Viridis?” said Marie. The alchemist looked at her.

“Is their their name now?” he said. “The names don’t matter. It is the intent that is important. And now they have it. And the serpent is clever, sending a golem. If it were a human who had stolen the lens, Morag could track them. But a creature of clay … it is impossible.”

aa-ch-9“Quite Special!”

“Marie,” said Sir John, “there must be something you can do? Could you try visualizing the golem to determine the direction it went.”

Diarmuid looked confused.

“My wife is a witch,” said Sir John, matter of factly. Miss Henderson glared at him.

“He means…” said Morag, “for real.”

“Oh, yes,” said Sir John, smiling lightly. “She’s very powerful. Quite, quite special actually.”

“I don’t think this visualization thing works mon cher, but I ‘ave an idea,” said Marie. “Was any of the clay left behind? On the window sill or somewhere?”

“There was a little, yes,” said Morag.

“I’ll need that,” said Marie, “and a small stone…”

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 10

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 8

The window blinds were rolled down and the closed sign was set on the door, an act that had made Albert wince. In the shop were Albert, Morag the dog, Sir John, Marie, Miss Henderson, and an elderly gentleman with a long grey beard.

“So, then,” said the old man, “I’m Diarmuid Mac Dubh. I daresay you’d like some sort of explanation?”

aa-closed“So, Then…”

There was a general murmur of assent although the question seemed rhetorical. Mac Dubh sighed and started to speak.

“So the history books have it that I died 300 years ago in a fire which destroyed my house and killed my family. All that remained of my life’s work were some glass oddments which were undamaged by the blaze and have been kept, until recently, in the British Museum. Some of these facts are not entirely accurate, as I’m sure you can gather.

“First, let me tell you a wee bit about alchemy. You see, the Great Work takes exactly one hundred years. Completed correctly, it elevates the alchemist beyond the corporeal form, transports him to the angelic world and brings him in contact with God. The Summum Bonum, also known as the Philosopher’s Stone or the Red Stone is a mere side effect, not the goal. Nevertheless, the powers of the Stone, to extend life and create gold, are necessary to prolong the alchemist’s life and to allow his time to be devoted to the Great Work. So first, one must find a master willing to gift some of the Stone. Then the alchemist may attempt the work himself.

“As for me, my first attempt, ending three hundred years ago, ended in catastrophe. I was a mere 121 years old and my daughter, Morag, was my apprentice. You see, I had given her some of the Red Stone meant for me, so moved had I been by her mother’s death. As the work neared completion, a small amount of the Red Stone appeared. I was ecstatic, and I leapt in joy. Alas, in that moment my concentration on the Great Work was broken and success became failure. The apparatus flared violently and the flames caught the house. The three of us, Morag, myself and our dog tried to escape. I grabbed Morag and dragged her from the wreckage of our home, my skin burning. When I was outside I realized I had taken the dog by mistake and my daughter was still inside. In despair I threw the some of the Red Stone into the burning house to try to save her.

‘Her body was destroyed, but her soul somehow …  migrated … to the dog. She spoke to me immediately, asking what had happened. I realized we would have to hide, or else she would be killed as a demon. We ran from that place.”

Diarmuid looked at Morag with tears in his eyes.

“My poor daughter, we have been running ever since,” he said.

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 9