The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 9

La Fleur Compass pp

The noise of construction was quite constant in the church interior, and despite Sabine’s intentions, Sir John felt sure the only artistry was the colourful language coming from the workers. He was near the entrance and had taken to pacing and glancing occasionally out the front door, interspersing this with comments like “she doesn’t know we’re here” to anyone passing. When he finally saw Marie returning with Miss Henderson and Morag his heart leapt with joy.

“Marie!” he called as his wife arrived in the church and gawped up at the decoration. “You have returned.”

“Oh mon cher, I am sorry I left so suddenly, but I felt sure I could find him,” said Maire.

“It doesn’t matter my dear,” he said, then added, “Find who?”

“My uncle, look he gave me this,” said Marie holding out the compass.

“Oh,” said Phlebotomous, coming to see what the new commotion was, “it’s a sundial!”

“No Mr Bosch,” said Miss Henderson, carefully and slowly. “It’s a compass. See the little needle moving?”

“Oh that’s just to calibrate it,” said Phlebotomous, taking the device. “See I lift up the latitude arm here, open up the gnomon thus and…. Well perhaps you could check it Miss Henderson. I can’t really go out. But make sure it points north, that’s what the compass is for.”

“What a jolly good idea,” said Miss Henderson. “Morag, why don’t you accompany me? Mr Bosch, I expect your little friend needs you.”

“No Osvold is fine,” said Phlebotomous, “I can wait here until you get back.”

Miss Henderson’s eyes rolled up, then shot sideways at Sir John and Marie, who were looking awkwardly at each other. Finally she nodded vigorously to where Phlebotomous and Osvold were hiding from the sun. Phlebotomous looked confused at her then suddenly a surprised look spread across his face.

“Oh!” he said, “I’ve just remembered something very important that I need to do over there.”

He started to walk over to the little hideaway he had built for himself and Osvold.

“It’s best that I don’t tell you what it is,” he said, and walked on a little further before adding, “It is, however, completely safe.”

Miss Henderson sighed and walked out of the building with the compass, Morag following after her.

A silence grew between Sir John and Marie.

“My dear wife…” started Sir John, his voice a little hesitant.

“Oh mon cher, I am sorry for running off and how I have been lately,” said Marie. “Things have been so strange for me.”

“…you seem as if something in the diary has upset you…” continued Sir John, barely registering what Marie had said.

“Yes and… no,” said Marie. “It was not the diary itself but the memories it provoked. I had thought all my life my childhood was a sad one, filled with rejection and alienation. But the diary reminded me I was someone else back then, someone more confident than I am now. And it made me wonder who the real me was.”

“…would you like to talk about it…” Sir John said.

“I should have from the start I suppose, but I started to think that if I wasn’t who I thought I was, who would know the real me. I suppose I closed down a little. I started to think about my uncle, that he would know me better than I knew myself. So I started to search for him in my memories, but I couldn’t see where he was. Then it came to me, I should use my powers to find him. I wasn’t sure how, but I felt sure if I walked the city I could walk my way to him. And it worked and I found him. Oh mon cher, we talked for just a little while, but it made me realise that I am not this girl anymore, that she was the seed of who I am. And then I realised I needed to be who I am now, and be with the people I know now and be…”

“…with me?” said Sir John.

Marie’s face softened and she gazed at her husband. She took his face in her hands.

“Yes, mon cher, with you,” she said. “I need to be with you.”

Marie kissed Sir John and smiled.

“I should find Emile and we should get everyone together,” she said. “We need to find these things that Clackprattle and Pook are searching for.”

Marie went looking deeper into the church and Sir John stood stunned.

“I’m getting rather good at this husband lark,” he whispered to himself.

Miss Henderson walked in just then.

“Mr Bosch, this sundial thing doesn’t tell the correct time,” she shouted across the church. “I think the gnome is broken.”

The Paris Awakening: Earth Part 8

Artifact

Marie sat in the old man’s living room as he brought a coffee pot into the room with some old looking biscuits. He served Marie then sat down, barely taking his eyes off her.

“I can’t believe it’s you!” he said. “All these years… and you were alive.”

“Uncle, I am so sorry,” said Marie, “I had no idea we were really related. I thought… you were a family friend.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Uncle Thierry. “All that matters is that you are alive. Have you been in Paris all this time?”

“For a while, but I live in London now, I’m married to an Englishman,” said Marie.

Uncle Thierry snorted.

“Well, each to their own,” he said, “but how can you stand the food?”

Marie smiled.

“You get used to it,” she said.

Thierry laughed long and hard. Marie thought how she had forgotten his laughter. How it had brightened up her home as a child.

“Uncle,” said Marie. “I wanted to ask you some things. Something about my mother.”

“Of course,” said Thierry, “but in truth I didn’t know her so well.”

Marie looked puzzled.

“But, you are her brother?” she said.

“Ah,” said Thierry, “I know why you are confused. No, I am your aunt’s brother, yes, but your aunt was not your mother’s sister. It was her husband that was your blood relative, Marie. He was your mother’s brother.”

“But… I thought,” said Marie.

“Yes, I think they told you the other way round,” said Thierry. “I don’t know why. Your mother was… well, she was… different you know. Had some unusual ideas.”

Marie looked at the kind face.

“How would you say she was different?” said Marie.

“Well she never stayed still for a start,” said Thierry. “First she came to Paris, then moved to that village when you were born…”

“She was in Paris?” said Marie.

“Yes, yes,” said Thierry, “That’s where she met your father. He died of cholera you know, in the outbreak, when you were still inside your mother. It was a miracle she survived, that you both survived. I guess that’s why she wanted to go back to the countryside.”

“So she came first from the village?” said Marie. “The one where I grew up?”

“No, not at all,” said Thierry, “She came from somewhere South I think. I never knew where. As I said, I didn’t know her too well, Marie. Your uncle didn’t talk much about her either.”

There was silence then as Marie looked into her coffee cup.

“Here,” said Thierry, “I have something for you to cheer you up.”

The old man rummaged about in a big cupboard, grumbling and cursing. Marie smiled at this, remembering other times.

“Here it is,” he said at last and brought forward a small brass object. He gave it to Marie and she stared down at it. It looked like a compass but with other gauges and attachments.

“What is it?” said Marie.

“No idea,” said Thierry. “It belonged to your uncle. He said it was special somehow. Never explained why. Come to think of it he was a little different too. It’s no wonder you’ve run off to England!”

Marie smiled again.

“Thank you Uncle,” she said and started to stand.

“Are you going already?” he said sadly.

“I should get back,” said Marie, “People will wonder where I am.”

“Well, come see me soon,” said Thierry. Marie gathered her things and pocketed the compass.

“By the way.” said Thierry, “How did you find me in the first place? I’ve only lived here five years.”

“It was… a bit of luck,” said Marie. She hugged her uncle and then left.

He pottered a bit around the room, then looked in the cupboard again. Inside he found a small piece of jewellry and held it to the light.

“I knew you were in there somewhere,” he said.

There was a knock at the door and so Thierry dropped the jewellry on the side and went to answer it.

“Marie?” he said, as he opened the door. “Did you forget something?”

Outside stood a short thin man and a larger fat man with a glove on one hand.

“I wonder sir,” said the thin man, “if we may possibly come inside for a short moment to discuss a matter of no small importance.”

The fat man took his glove off and Thierry stared at the strange green colour of his hand.

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 3

journal 1p

Sir John and Emile sat in the shop whilst Phlebotomous went to the back to get Osvold. Emile flicked through the paper, a cigarette hanging down from his lip.

“Oof,” he announced, “looks like Marchauld has died.”

“The one from the Clairvoyant Research Institute?” said Sir John.

“Yes, that one,” said Emile, who then smirked. “Hmm, I wonder if he saw that coming.”

Phlebotomous and Osvold came in then and sat down opposite Sir John and Emile.

“Osvold,” said Sir John, “we wanted to ask you about the day M Dinard died. Do you remember that day?”

Osvold nodded slowly and sadly then looked down.

“Yes, of course, you do,” said Sir John. “The last name is his meeting book, perhaps the last person he met, was a Mr Clackprattle. Do you know who that is?”

Osvold looked thoughtful for a while and then leaned over to Phlebotomous and whispered.

“He thinks he’s a very fat man…” said Phlebotomous. Osvold leaned in again.

“…who vexed M Dinard enough to make him use bad language,” said Phlebotomous.

Emile coughed and laughed.

“That describes half of Paris,” he said. Osvold leaned in to Phlebotomous again.

“He was accompanied by a strange short man who spoke in long sentences,” said Phlebotomous. “And he rubbed his hands together a lot.”

“That’s them,” said Sir John, “Osvold, do you know what they wanted? Why they saw M Dinard.”

Osvold looked away again in thought and then turned back to Phlebotomous. He whispered in the fellow vampire’s ear.

“Oh gosh,” said Phlebotomous. “Really?”

Osvold nodded then leaned in again and whispered to Phlebotomous.

Emile turned in towards Sir John then.

“Are you sure these are vampires?” he said quietly. “They’re not what the literature has you believe.”

Sir John smiled.

“I can only assume that Mr Stoker didn’t meet an actual example,” he said.

They turned back to the pair to find Phlebotomous looking paler than usual with Osvold holding his hand. Phlebotomous was wriggling about in his chair.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” he said. “This sounds bad. It seems that Mr Clackprattle was asking Dinard about how to find some kind of magical weapon. It seemed to be in four parts?”

Phlebotomous glanced at Osvold who nodded.

“The parts were all hidden in Paris and M Dinard was in possession of a map to the parts. It was this he was planning to sell to Mr Clackprattle on the day he died.”

Sir John looked concerned.

“Osvold, do you know if Mr Clackprattle came here? If he got the map?” he said.

Osvold nodded once.

“And do you know if there is a copy of this map.” Sir John continued.

Osvold shook his head and looked to his feet.

“This is indeed bad,” said Sir John to Emile. “This weapon must be something special for them to go looking for it. If they have a map and we don’t…”

“You’re sure?” said Emile, addressing the vampires. “There was no copy?”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.

“Mr Clackprattle was apparently insistent. He paid a large sum of money to make sure it was the only copy. M Dinard said that it was only because of this money that he could deal with … what was that word Osvold?”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again and whispered something. Phlebotomous went a light pink.

“I don’t think I can say that out loud,” he said. “It’s rather rude.”

Emile’s mouth dropped open and the cigarette fell from his lips into his lap.

Merde,” he said and retrieved it.

“It was something like that, yes,” said Phlebotomous.

“It was a set-up, that’s why he was killed!” said Sir John. “So no one else could look for this weapon.”

Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.

“Then we are, how do you say, stuffed in a hole,” said Emile. “Do we just wait until he finds it?”

“We have to do something,” said Sir John.

Phlebotomous coughed and they both looked round.

“Osvold says that although there wasn’t a map,” said the vampire, “there were some notes.”

“Osvold,” said Sir John, “do you think we might look at them?”

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 16

fireplacepp

Pook sat at the large table and looked across at Bisset with a fixed smile. The Frenchman was studying the map and looking at books piled around him. His jacket was off, his sleeves were pulled up and his elegantly coiffured hair was starting to hang limply over his face.

“How is it progressing?” said Pook.

“Bon, bon,” said Bisset absently.

“Your fraternity certainly requires full use of your abilities,” said Pook. “One would almost think there was… no one else.”

Bisset looked up.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“That your fraternity has no one else in it,” said Pook, “with your ability.”

Bisset stared at him.

“We are an order of quite some importance and many aims. The satisfaction of one man’s obsession is not of great significance to us,” he said before continuing his work on the map.

“And your master is very, very obsessed with this… Jennings,” Bisset added casually. “Why is that?”

“Beyond what he told you, I believe Mr Clackprattle feels personally slighted by Sir John and highly aggrieved at his treatment. He wants some reparation, some public reparation, so it is clear who is the superior,” said Pook.

“And you,” asked Bisset. “What do you seek?”

“I am my master’s servant,” said Pook. “His needs and wishes are my needs and wishes.”

Bisset glanced up at the smiling, implacable face, his eyebrows raising slightly.

“Hmm…” he said. “You understood of course that my masters have needs and wishes too.”

“Indeed,” said Pook. “From our original conversation I inferred you had a use for Mister Clackprattle’s unique talent.”

“I have a list,” said Bisset, “of enemies of the fraternity. You will take the list and remove them. But not all at once, please. And you must follow the sequence of the list.”

Pook’s eyebrows raised then.

“That’s rather a strange way to arrange assassinations,” he said.

“Our reports from the shop say that everyone believed Dinard had died of old age.” said Bisset. “Your master’s talent leaves his victims looking unmolested. The list is by age, the oldest first so as to disguise our purpose for as long as possible.”

“Of course,” said Pook. “I understand. The deaths will seem to be merely the sad passing of an aging person, rather than an underhand act.”

“Just so,” said Bisset, then suddenly “Merde! It’s so obvious! Why didn’t I see it?”

He stood up, sighed and pushed back his hair into some kind of order.

“We have the first location. I will take some refreshment now and some rest,” Bisset said wearily.  He walked away out of the room whilst Pook continued to sit.

When the door closed  Pook looked over at the map then emitted a quick, high pitched giggle. He took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote on it.

“Master, all is going to plan, we will start tomorrow.”

He then walked across to the fireplace, the large fire dying down but still active. He threw the paper into the fire and watched as the smoke rose, twisting into shapes like letters. When the paper was burned and the smoke had gone, Pook went back to the table, picked up the map and left the room. The smile on his face didn’t change once.

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 15

appt book

Dinard’s shop was empty of people and the dust was dancing in the late afternoon sunlight. From the back room there was a rustling sound and an occasional sigh. The knob on the door to the street rattled.

“It looks like no-one’s in,” said Sir John from outside.

“Good,” said Emile. “Stand over there a minute, will you?”

“If you like,” said Sir John. There was a scratching noise at the door in the lock, then some clicking and finally the door swung open. The sounds in the back room stopped instantly.

Voila!” said Emile, walking into the shop.

“You can’t do that!” said Sir John, hovering outside the door.

“I just did,” said Emile. “Come on in Sir John and I’ll show you what I saw.”

“I don’t think I should,” said Sir John, still hovering.

“Then I shall bring it out,” said Emile.

“You shouldn’t do that either, it’s theft,” said Sir John. He hopped from one foot to another then sighed and came into the shop.

“I knew you’d see sense,” said Emile. “Besides, this is important.”

“Why couldn’t you tell me before?” said Sir John.

“Well, I didn’t want to scare Marie, and besides I thought you wouldn’t agree to come if I told you what I was planning to do,” said Emile. Sir John sighed again.

“You were probably right,” he said. “What is it you want to show me?”

Emile grinned and then vaulted over the counter. Sir John gapsed and waved his arms in the vague direction of the Frenchman.

“You can’t… that’s not…” spluttered Sir John.

“I was ‘ere the other day, the one after Dinard died,” said Emile from underneath the counter. “I had a book on order from him. I know the tat on the shelves is garbage, but he knew how to get the good stuff too. So I thought I’d try to find his order book and see what had happened to my order.”

Emile stood up and placed a small book onto the counter.

“I didn’t find it,” he said, “but I found something else. His appointment book.”

Emile opened the book and pushed it toward Sir John. The smile had gone now.

“Guess who he saw on his last day?” said Emile.

Sir John looked puzzled at the small book then gasped again.

“Clackprattle!” he said.

“Indeed,” said Emile. “It was maybe a couple of hours before you came in and…”

Emile suddenly stopped and put a finger to his lips. Sir John looked puzzled and Emile tapped his ear. He then darted into the backroom. There was a crashing sound and some shouting and Emile came back dragging a young, thin man with a pale face.

“Who are you?” Emile was shouting. “What are you doing in this shop?”

The young man was shaking and squirming out of the evening sunlight.

“I… I… I…” he said, “I work here, Monsieur, for Monsieur Dinard.”

Emile snorted.

“Well, I haven’t seen you before,” he said. “Who are you?”

“Os – Osvold”, said the young man. Still squirming and shaking.

Sir John stood very still and tilted his head.

“Osvold,” he said slowly, “do you mostly work at night?”

The young man nodded vigorously.

“And did M Dinard look after you… perhaps… bring you… food?” said Sir John.

Osvold’s eye’s dropped to the floor and he nodded.

“I think,” said Sir John, glancing at Emile, “we need to introduce you to a friend of ours.”

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 14

marie at window pp

Marie continued to stare out of the window of the small house. Sir John and the tenants, M and Mme Enrault, stood in the room as she did so.

“Would either of you like some coffee or perhaps some tea,” said M Enrault, looking nervously at Sir John. M. Enrault was still trying to work out why he had invited this strange pair into his house, a question his wife was also considering from the expression on her face.

“No thank you,” said Sir John. “You can leave us, we’ll be fine.”

The couple retreated willingly and Sir John turned to look at his wife’s back.

“You think I’ve gone too far,” she said. “That I should have just asked and not… done what I did.”

“I imagine you thought you only had one chance, and you were so anxious to see your aunt’s old house again, that you panicked a little,” said Sir John gently.

Marie’s shoulders shook a little.

“It has been 28 years,” she said, “to the day.”

Sir John’s face fell.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Perhaps we should have waited.”

“No,” said Marie, “you were right, it is… fitting.”

Just then a woman in her sixties walked past and glanced into the window. She stared for a moment and then screamed. The woman dropped the bag she had been carrying and came up to the window. Her face was pale as she stared in at Marie.

“Mademoiselle La Fleur,” she said in disbelief. “Is that… is it really you?”

Marie’s head nodded and the woman went to the front door of the house. There was a knock at the door then a conversation in the corridor. The woman from the street came into the room and rushed over to Marie. She held Marie’s face with her hand and stared into it.

“Not a hair different,” she said in awe.  Marie smiled then.

“You are too kind Mme Duchamp,” Marie said. “My hairs are very different. Some are even grey now.”

The woman then looked over at Sir John and back to Marie.

“Is this… are you?” she said.

“May I present Sir John Jennings,” said Marie, “my husband. Sir John, this is Mme Margot Duchamp.”

“Enchantée,” said Mme Duchamp. “An English knight? How strange, but then you always were different. When I saw you now, when I screamed, I swore I thought you were a ghost. Especially today. What happened? Where did you go?”

“I am sorry to scare you Mme Duchamp.” said Marie. “All I can say is, after they died, my aunt, my uncle, I couldn’t be here anymore. I just had to leave.”

“My word, all these years!” said Mme Duchamp. “I can’t believe it, we thought you were killed with your aunt and uncle. Why did you not come back here? Your things were all here?”

“I did come back,” said Marie, “right after the shell took them. I saw it fall, I saw them die, right in front of me. I came back here and everywhere was their possessions, their life, our life. Now gone. It was too much, after my mother’s death. Too much for me. I took a bag of things I would need and I left. I didn’t have an idea to leave forever, but I never came back. And then. Then other problems. The commune and everything.”

Marie wiped away the tear which had run down her face.

“It was bad then for sure,” said Mme Duchamp. “A terrible time. But then did you find your uncle? He was looking for you.”

Marie looked confused.

“Mme Duchamp, my uncle was killed that day,” she said.

“No, not that one, the other one, the brother of your aunt. What was his name?” said Mme Duchamp. “Thierry? I forget his surname.”

“Oh,” said Marie. “He was not my uncle Mme Duchamp, he was just a family friend, I think. I called him uncle to be polite.”

“I think not, Marie,” said Mme Duchamp. “I’m sure your aunt called him brother. And besides, he came to look for you when he heard your aunt and uncle had died. Poor man looked so sad. So you didn’t see him? He didn’t find you?”

“No,” said Marie, “I… I didn’t know. Do you have an address for him?”

“I don’t,” said Mme Duchamp, “but this has reminded me I do have something you may want.”

“What is it?” said Marie.

“When we all were sure you had all died, your uncle said for us to take what we wanted from the house. I don’t think he cared to take much himself. So I took your books, and I have most of them still.”

“I don’t think I need them anymore,” said Marie, “but thank you.”

“No, you don’t understand,” said Mme Duchamp. “I just grabbed all the books without looking. I didn’t realise that one wasn’t a book at all. Marie, my dear, I have your diary.”

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 13

stairspp

After returning to their hotel late at night, Sir John and Marie were at the bottom of the stairs and climbing up to their room.

“I noticed you omitted some aspects of our story,” said Sir John, casually.

“I was… it felt right,” said Marie. “I didn’t want to send them totally crazy.”

“Excuse me, monsieur,” said a voice from below.

“Yes,” said Sir John as the receptionist appeared at the foot of the stairs.

“Monsieur Jennings, I forget to tell you. There was a man here to see you,” he said.

“Oh, who?” said Sir John.

“He did not say his name, but he did say he’d wait. That was some time ago,” said the receptionist.

“Is he still here?” said Sir John. “What did he look like?”

“He was short, wore a hood and had a foreign accent, I mean, not French,” said the receptionist. “I didn’t see him go, but he’s no longer here. I suppose he must have left, but he didn’t leave a card or note.”

“I see,” said Sir John. “Well, thank you anyway.”

“My pleasure to help,” said the man and left.

“Very helpful,” said Sir John. He turned back up the stairs to see Marie looking back at him with a distracted expression.

“It’s not that at all,” she said. “If I am honest, I didn’t want him to know. To know about me. I’m worried what will happen, what he will say.”

“He’s a good friend,” said Sir John gently. “I’m sure he’d understand. Be impressed, even.”

“I think so too, and… I hope so,” she said. “But I’m still afraid.”

Sir John took his wife’s hand.

“Then we will wait,” he said, “and tell him together when you’re ready.”

Marie smiled then suddenly frowned.

“What was that?” she said.

“What?” said Sir John.

“From upstairs,” whispered Marie. “From our floor, I heard a sound.”

“Well it’s a hotel,” said Sir John, whispering too, “that shouldn’t be so strange.”

“In the rooms, yes,” said Marie. “This was in the corridor. I hear someone breathing.”

She crept up the last few steps as quietly as possible then turned at the top.

Venir!” she said and there was a high pitched squawking noise. A slender, hooded man ran up the corridor and stopped dead in front of her. His hood fell back to reveal a frightened pale face which made another squawking noise. Sir John appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Phlebotomous?” he said.

“He-hello,” said the vampire.

“Mr Bosch,” said Marie. “What are you doing here?”

“I was just passing?” ventured Phlebotomous.

“In Paris?” said Sir John.

“They are having auditions for some exposition next year,” said Phlebotomous. “I brought some of my inventions.”

“Why are you skulking around the hotel,” said Marie. “You gave me a fright.”

“I’m sorry, but it got too sunny in the lobby and I wanted to see my old friends,” he said then opened his arms wide and grinned.

Sir John shook his hand and Marie tapped the other.

“Well, yes, very nice to see you, Phlebotomous, but we’ve had rather a long day. We’d better get to our room,” said Sir John.

“Of course, of course,” said Phlebotomous, who then looked as his feet.

“Is your accomodation far?” said Marie.

“Not too far…” said Phlebotomous. “It is rather late, though. There might be thieves or murderers out there.”

“You’re a vampire,” said Sir John. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

The vampire looked nervously out the window and Sir John sighed.

“There’s a chaise-longue in the room, you may stay there for tonight,” he said and Phlebotomous smiled.

The Paris Awakening: Initation Part 12

Map Earth

“And this time he will not get away!” concluded a red faced Clackprattle, banging the table.

“Very moving,” said Bisset, who had remained impassive throughout the diatribe, apart from little glances towards Pook.

Pook unfixed both his gaze and smile and turned to Clackprattle.

“Indeed Master, a most eloquent exposition of the injustices and deprivations you have suffered at the hands of Sir John Jennings,” he said.

“If it is not too impertinent a question, my I ask why you seek the weapon,” said Bisset.

Clackprattle looked astonished.

“Have I not just explained the very circumstances!” he said.

“Indeed, and at some length,” said Bisset. “But you have about your person a most formidable means of attack. Surely that would suffice?”

“The Master feels, and I concur, that a less direct approach may be more appropriate here,” said Pook. “Indeed, given our previous misfortune the opportunity to carry out some action from a distance seems most prudent. For it seems Sir John has more than his fair share of luck. He seems to lead a… charmed life.”

Bisset raised one eyebrow and tilted his head a few degrees.

“I am sure you are correct,” said Bisset. “The next question is how we should proceed.”

“I believe, sir, that the next question is ours to ask,” said Pook.

“Just so,” said Bisset.

“What is it that might be found at the locations indicated by the map?” asked Pook.

“I will ask the questions!” barked Clackprattle. The other two men looked at him with mild surprise which melted into pleasant smiles as they awaited the next utterance.

“As he said,” said Clackprattle, waving a hand in the general direction of Pook.

“At the four locations indicated on the map are four “beings”. They each… represent one of the four classical elements. Each possesses a part of the key which they will surrender to one who can pass a test that is set,” said Bisset.

“A test presumably commensurate with the element is question?” said Pook. “A physical test for earth, for example?”

“Indeed Mr Pook,” said Bisset. “And I believe I have at least two questions now.”

Clackprattle scowled at Pook who nodded lightly.

“It would seem so,” Pook said.

“My first question is will you allow me to invite you to stay with us here? I believe you have been staying somewhere quite inappropriate to persons of your stature.”

Clackprattle snorted.

“You mean Paris?” he said.

Bisset smiled again.

“Perhaps you may feel warmer to my city if you were to stay somewhere more… consistent with your standing in society,” he said, gesturing lightly around the large room.

“We acquiesce,” said Clackprattle, looking bored.

“My second question is would you permit me the opportunity to study the map in order to find the location of the first part of the key?” said Bisset.

Clackprattle shrugged but Pook leaned forward and put a hand on the map.

“I feel that, whilst that may seem a most effective course of action, it would not perhaps be the most desirous,” he said.

“Do you think?” said Bisset, a small frown forming on his face.

“I would very much like to remain in constant contact with the map,” said Pook, “in the interests of mutual transparency.”

“Well, perhaps we may travail in such a way that you accompany me, Mr Pook, whilst your Master enjoys the comforts we can provide.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Clackprattle, clearly bored.

“And I have some information that may make you very keen to proceed at a prompt pace,” said Bisset.

“What might that be?” said Pook.

Bisset looked absently away from the table.

“Only that Sir John Jennings and his wife happen to be in Paris at the moment,” he said.

The Paris Awakening: Initiation Part 11

PA I 11 prisma

Sabine sat back and exhaled deeply. She placed the cigarette she had been absently smoking into the overflowing ashtray and turned to Emile.

“What a story!” she said.

“It was quite the adventure,” said Sir John, flushed from telling the tale. “Four adventures, really.”

“And this Pook creature and the man, Clack, Clack…” said Sabine.

“Clackprattle,” said Marie.

“Yes, ‘im,” said Sabine. “They were nowhere to be found?”

“No,” said Marie. “After the…explosion? I think you’d call it that. After that there was chaos and they escaped, along with much of the cult. The police tried to find them, but, well, there seemed to be no crime for them to solve.”

“They had it down as an industrial accident,” said Sir John, ”even though it was in a church.”

“I didn’t follow fully,” said Emile. “It was the stone they made that exploded? After Clackprattle grabbed it?”

“They were making, or trying to make, the Summum Malorum,” said Sir John. ”It’s like the famous philosopher’s stone that gives eternal life and riches. Only it does the reverse.  It can take life and turn gold into dross.”

“This was the cult you mentioned, this Draco Viridis?” said Emile.

“Yes,” said Sir John. ”They were led by this chap Lord Anglestone. He was the one that died.”

“This is what confused me,” said Emile. “How did that happen?”

“Mac Dubh, who was an alchemist, arrived in the church,” explained Marie. “He had made the Philosopher’s stone and pressed it against this Summum Mallorum. I imagine the mix of concentrated good and evil balanced out and they destroyed each other. Anglestone was holding the evil stone and Mac Dubh the good one. There was a flash and after… they were both gone.”

“I thought this Claprattle had the bad stone?” said Sabine.

“Clackprattle,” corrected Marie “He held it for a while, but he dropped it. Anglestone picked it up then Mac Dubh came in and then… the flash.”

“The stone was doing something very odd to Clackpratlle’s hand,” said Sir John. “It was going a most peculiar green colour.”

“I see,” said Emile. “So Anglestone led the cult and Clackprattle and this Pook joined it, and seemingly tried to grab this stone for themselves.”

“That’s what we think,” said Sir John. “Although no one was around to explain. They all ran away quickly.”

“And this Pook,” said Sabine leaning forward again. “You’re sure about him? That he is a puoque? It’s not just his name, it’s what he is.”

“We have evidence, yes,” said Sir John.

“What evidence?” said Sabine.

“He had an influence on people,” said Marie. “An unnatural one. We think it’s ‘ow they managed to join this cult.”

“Fascinating,” said Sabine. “Alors! But enough. Now you are here on ‘oliday and I really understand why!”

“Actually we’re…” started Sir John.

“Yes a holiday,” said Marie. “At last! We thought we might visit some old neighbourhoods.”

“I see,” said Sabine frowning a little. “Well, that sounds very nice.”

“Yes indeed,” said Sir John. “We’re just going to have a nice, peaceful rest. A nice get away.”