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Of Mystics and Misfits - Chapter 2
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:27 am    Post subject: Of Mystics and Misfits - Chapter 2  

It was a long time coming, but here it is! My first SG! I wasn't sure where to put it, but Andi suggested Fantasy Forest because it has some potential mystical nonsense in it.

Anyway, no DP this time, as its only the prologue, so without further ado, enjoy! *rolls away in embarrassment*



PROLOGUE

“Come now, ladies, walk briskly! We haven’t all day!”

Cora closes her eyes to keep from rolling them.

The irony, of course, is they do have all day. They always have all day. Cora does not argue, though. To do so is a social death sentence. Everyone knows that if you lose favor with Hannah Hayward, then you lose favor with all of London society. Gossip and slander are the sharpest of swords, and in Hannah’s mouth all the more deadly. So Cora does not argue, she cannot afford to. She simply speeds up with the rest of them, skirt swishing stiffly as she goes.

They fall into idle chit chat, of which Cora only pays the minimum of attention. It isn’t that she doesn’t find which lady was seen wearing whose gloves while guided by the steady arm of what gentleman fascinating. On the contrary, it is in her very best interest to absorb any and all information about such things. Her concerns, however, are presently directed elsewhere. Namely to the dark, shadowy figure that keeps pace with the group from a short distance behind them.

This figure could be easily dealt with if Cora could tell someone, but it is not something she can inform the policeman on the corner about. It is not something she can alert her companions to either. This is a trouble all her own.

Since she was a child such things have manifested before her and around her. Cora is not sure what they are or what they want, or how they came to be, but they are almost always there. They sit in corners and cling to ceilings, seep from between cracks in walls and cobblestone. They lurk close by but they never come near. They even disappear for a time if Cora ignores them long enough.

But this one is different.

This one has been near her since she left her home this morning. She first caught sight of it by the rose bushes, hunched and humming. And even after she got into the carriage and was taken to the West End it hovered in the corner of her vision, ever present. Also, and perhaps most alarmingly, it looks like a person. The others she sees are always masses of indeterminate shape, blobs of black that morph and move like mud beneath a carriage wheel. It frightens her that this one is so human-like. There is a knot in her stomach that painfully tightens every time she catches sight of it, always closer than before.

Cora tells herself to just keep breathing. Steadily. In and out. This one is just, for whatever reason, persistent. It will disappear like the others if she pays it no mind.

She assures herself of this repeatedly, so determined to console herself that when the others stop she does not realize it until they call out to her.

“Where did you think you were going?” one of them asks as Cora bustles the few yards back towards them. She has her hand over her mouth to cover the amused smirk behind it. The others look at Cora with their eyebrows raised as if she has just done something particularly scandalous, like lift her skirt above her knees.

“Nowhere. I-” Cora begins, thinking quickly of a sane and acceptable excuse. “Well, the Whitlock's Spring Jubilee is coming up soon, and I’m afraid I got lost in thought about what would be the best color to wear for the afternoon.”

“Lavender or chartreuse,” Hannah says as if the answer is as obvious as the time of day, “but in your case maroon. You’re hair is dull and you’re so pale you look sickly. That color should distract from the bags under your eyes at the very least.”

And with that she strides into the open door of the boutique they are clustered in front of. The others follow after Hannah, barely suppressing their giggles.

This time Cora does roll her eyes. These types of offhand insults are common place, and they are the first things Cora learned not to let bother her. Obvious offense and a heated, under-thought rebuttal are akin to smacking yourself in the face after all.

Pushing away her annoyance, Cora begins to go inside as well, but before she moves too much farther she chances a look behind her. The street, once occupied by the ever encroaching figure, is empty. It seems to have finally gone. She sighs in relief. A short breath that immediately catches in her throat when she steps into the boutique and walks right into the black expanse of it.

*
*
*

It seems like a simple open and close case.

There have been sightings of rabid dogs the past few weeks so it comes as no surprise to anyone that they should come across a dead body, throat ripped open and raw. Pictures are taken and filed, and the scene is cleaned up within the hour of the police getting there.

It seems simple. But his years in the Yard have taught Philip McDermot that nothing is ever as it seems.

“Somethin’s not right,” he mumbles to himself in the carriage back to the station, eyebrows drawn down in thought.

“What do you mean, detective?” asks one of the men with him.

Philip looks up, eyebrows still down, thoughtfulness turning to confusion. All of the men in the Yard know to keep quiet when he’s thinking out loud, which he does quite frequently.

Ah, but this is the new boy. The one from the gentry that insisted he could be as good as any other man on the beat. The scrawny one that had to excuse himself to vomit after he caught sight of the body. Poor lad.

He shifts in his seat, crosses his arms then uncrosses them, taps his foot.

“Not sure. Just somethin’s off,” he decides to answer, hoping his short reply will get him the peace he needs to think.

“May I help?”

Philip’s thick moustache twitches.

“What’s yer name, boy?”

“Avery Collins, sir!” he answers, sitting up straighter.

“Well, Avery, you can help by shuttin’ yer trap.”

Avery shrinks a little in his seat.

“And then diggin’ up files on human death by animals once we get back.”

“Sir!” he salutes, brightening once again, cheeks flush with energy.

Philip snorts and directs his attention out the carriage window. The boy is skinny and squeamish, but curious. Eager. There may be hope for him yet.
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:35 am    Post subject:  

Okay, so, this isn't exactly well known, but this kind of setting is my FAVORITE to read. Usually it's in romance novels, but I think I can alter my mindset a bit. I can't wait to see more! I'm intrigued by Cora, and how steadfast she is about just ignoring whatever it is she sees. Also, the fact that Avery got a name makes me curious about what's to happen to our newbie on the force. Can't wait for more!
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Andolyn



Joined: 18 Apr 2011
Posts: 852
Location: sitting barefoot in a tree in the beautiful land of Ardara, writing my tales...

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:37 am    Post subject:  

THIS IS SO COOL!!!

Victorian London is fascinating to me. The creepy way you described the things that follow her was even better! Clinging to the ceiling? That's delightfully creepy! XD

Can't wait to see more!
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Wellspring



Joined: 13 Jan 2016
Posts: 20

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 12:27 pm    Post subject:  

=D

I LOVE this. I am a HUGE sucker for Victorian London and detective stories. So you got me!

To top that off, you have fantastic names. One of my favorite things about reading is seeing different ways that authors play with names. I love Hannah Hayward. It just sounds snobby and posh. =D Philip McDermot is great too. As is Avery Collins. All memorable!

I look forward to more. =D
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Tikanni Corazon



Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 1286
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:52 pm    Post subject:  

I'm loving this already, Seraphi! Really, really good, and I too live the setting as possibly might be obvious from Figure in the Mists. Given the association's of Jack the Ripper with Victorian England, I always find looming shadows and figures incredibly creepy, and it gives good atmosphere.

Looking forward to chapter 1! Keep up the good work. :)
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:31 am    Post subject: Of Mystics and Misfits - Chapter 1  

Sorry for the wait everyone, but here it is - the first chapter! I hope its up to snuff! (I'm worried for I've written a character with a cockney accent. What am I doing to myself? XD)



CHAPTER 1

Cora sighs and presses the side of her face to the window of the carriage, hoping that the cool glass will subdue the headache that has been pounding rhythmically at her temples since early that morning.

“Cora? Are you quite alright? Perhaps the motion is too much? The cobblestone is terribly rough around-”

Cora holds up her hand and the girl across from her stops speaking.

“Hattie, I’m fine. Just a slight headache.”

“Would you like to return home?”

This is something Cora briefly considers. A cup of hot tea and some quality time with her neglected needlework would certainly do her good, however...

“No. I’ll be alright. I did not purchase these tickets in advance just so I could miss the show.”

“If you insist…Oh, but I’m so very relieved. I hope that isn’t insensitive of me. I’m just so excited! Mystics are all the rage right now. I’ve heard a bit of how divination and such works. Did you know that-”

And she is off again like a thoroughbred on a race track.

Cora likes Hattie. She is a little daft, but she is kind, and she means well in all that she does, which is more than Cora can say for most people, herself included. Hattie just has a penchant for overzealous conversation. This harms more than helps in most settings, but for now Cora rests her head against the window again and allows Hattie’s voice to become background noise like the clop of the horses hooves from outside.

Cora does not readily believe in mystics. She does not want to build her hopes up by believing in something that could be pure nonsense and showmanship. But she also cannot suppress the inkling of desire that there is someone in this world who understands.

Surely she cannot be the only one to see such things, to have this affliction. There must be someone with some way to help her. If she could only be rid of it, then she would no longer be subject to doing unseemly things, like fainting in the foyer of one of the most illustrious boutiques in London while in the company of Hannah Hayworth, which she did just a few days prior after running into that black thing. The embarrassment of it still haunts her.

The carriage slowly rolls to a stop, the noise of the London streets replacing Hattie’s babble as she ceases talking and stares out of the window in quiet excitement at the crowd in front of the theatre. Cora sits up straight, as a lady should always do, when she feels the jostle of the footman climbing down from beside the coachman, and pulls her gloves further up her forearms to smooth out the creases.

She is making sure her clutch, the tickets for the mystic show held within, is firmly in her grip when something moves in the corner of her eye. Cora blinks rapidly. The headache has been making her see things all day, solid objects have taken to shimmering and shaking. This must just be-

But there it is again, bubbling in her vision, steadily getting bigger. Cora faces it fully now, watches as it oozes into the carriage like sludge and pools on the floor. She freezes until it comes within inches of her boot and she can’t just sit there anymore. She yanks open the door and lunges out of the carriage, startling the footman and tripping onto the sidewalk. She rights herself and stalks forward. Hattie calls to her, asking her what’s wrong and to wait for her, but Cora is determined to get as far from the carriage, and that thing, as quickly as possible.

Cora is partway to the theatre entrance when she notices that she is breathing too fast. Her vision is swimming. Everything sounds muffled. She feels sick, like she’s going to faint again.

And then there is a hard shove to her arm.

“‘Pologies ‘bout dat, missy. Bid ova crowd t’day,” the offending person says, tipping their worn newscap, allowing Cora a peek at their shock of red hair, and then scuttling away as suddenly as they had appeared.

“Cora!”

Cora turns towards the sound of her name.

“Cora, whatever is wrong? You tore out of the carriage like the hounds of hell were nipping at your heels. Is it your headache? Do you feel ill? Perhaps we really should-”

“Hattie, I feel fine. Truly.” And this time Cora really does. She feels somehow lighter.

Something about running into that stranger seems to have jostled her back into calmness. It is an unexpected and unexplainable feeling, but Cora takes it as the blessing it is and carries on.

“Shall we head to the show then?” she asks Hattie as she goes to get tickets from her clutch. Except she doesn’t have it. “Wait. Where...where is my clutch?”

“Did you leave it in the carriage perhaps?”

“No. No I had it when-” Cora’s eyes widen at the realization of what happened. She turns and searches the crowd frantically.

There, weaving through the throng, ragged cap atop red hair, is the person from before. And in their hand is Cora’s clutch.

*
*
*

Avery flinches as Detective McDermot slaps a folder on his desk. The detective has his eyebrows furrowed and his mouth is pulled into a deep frown. He looks far from happy.

“This all there was?” he asks gruffly, hunching over Avery’s desk.

Avery looks at the folder, willing the papers within to grow in number simply by squinting at them, futile effort that he knows it is.

“Yes, sir,” he sighs.

“Hmph. Must be a different angle,” McDermot mumbles.

Avery goes to say something in return, but realizes the detective is thinking out loud again and holds his tongue. He has learned in the few days he’s been part of the Yard that this is quite a common practice and should not be interrupted.

After a few moments Detective McDermot stands and crosses his arms, looks up at the ceiling briefly before walking away and muttering to himself.

Avery watches until the detective goes into his office, then turns back to his desk. He did not fail in his assignment, but neither does he feel like he completed it with rousing success. There’s more to this case, or so the detective thinks, and Avery trusts the older man’s intuition. He isn’t, himself, sure what it could be, but he wants to assist Detective McDermot in any way he can.

He slides the file in front of him and opens it so he can look through it. He already knows what’s within, had read it over thoroughly before giving it to McDermot in the first place, but what could be the harm in looking again.

He flips through the file steadily, paying each page an equal amount of attention before turning it over. There are incidents involving accidental tramplings by horse drawn carriages, and one by an elephant that escaped the circus just last year in St James’s Park. There are minor incidents as well, ones that did not result in loss of life and that specifically involved dogs, but none of them seemed to peak the detective’s interest. Nothing stands out to Avery either, so he closes the file and pushes it away.

How frustrating.

He goes to run his hand through his hair until remembering the pomade there and drops it to his side, useless, and leans back in his chair.

Could the perpetrator have been a person after all? What sort of person claws another’s throat out? And for what purpose? Money? A woman? What if...it was just to kill?

Avery shudders. No, no. He refuses to think that there could be any person of such pure malevolence haunting the London streets. As Detective McDermot said, there must be a different angle.

If the cause of death was a rabid dog, then maybe the key is to find where the animal came from in the first place. Strict regulations of animals in the city, especially strays, makes it difficult for a rabid dog to appear so suddenly, and to act so viciously.

So where did it come from then?

A fox hunt gone awry, the dog bitten by the quarry and escaped from his master? It is not impossible that one could have roamed far from the fields and streams of Yorkshire into the gutters and alleys of London. Or perhaps it was a dog escaped from a fighting ring, bred for brutality? It is common knowledge that such things are all too abundant in the underground, so it would not be farfetched to say that one of the beasts escaped.

Avery heaves a deep sigh. There must be something better he can do than sit here with his head spinning in circles. He stands up from his desk, determined to take action.



So...What does Cora do --- go after the thief, tell an officer, just go to the show anyway (Hattie still has money lol)?

What of Avery --- does he investigate on his own, tell McDermot his thoughts, some other third thing?

AND OKAY so you may be thinking “WTF, Phi, you left us with TWO DPs!?”

Here is how that’s going to work: give me suggestions for both Cora and Avery, and then I will put a poll up for each individually. So say…a week for Cora, then that poll will close, and then the one for Avery will go up for another week.

I was going to split this into two chapters, but then the DP for each would not be addressed until two chapters later and isn’t that just a bummer? XD Of course if this doesn’t work out then I will split the chapters up accordingly in the future, but let’s give it a try shall we?

(And, tell me true, the accent was terribly done wasn't it? Cockney is hard ahaha XD)
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Andolyn



Joined: 18 Apr 2011
Posts: 852
Location: sitting barefoot in a tree in the beautiful land of Ardara, writing my tales...

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:50 am    Post subject:  

LOOOOOVEit!

Chase him, dammit! Cora sees spirits on a regular basis. She can totally take down one scrawny redhead. Get him!

As for Avery, I'm going to say he tells McDermott. It would be easier to investigate with full resources.
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:43 pm    Post subject:  

I enjoy Cora's reflections quite a bit! I was so looking forward to seeing the mystic, but as much as Cora could no doubt run down the redhead, perhaps she should send one of the coachmen? After all, she was just lamenting about how she does unseemly things.

I say Avery does a bit of investigating on his own, only sharing his information if he actually finds information, and not hunches.
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Thegaywizardly



Joined: 12 Feb 2016
Posts: 13

Posted: Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:06 am    Post subject:  

I will enjoy this. Cara shouldn't go after the thief given her personality is to avoid the mysterious. If she's been living with dark hallucinations without telling anyone though, could denote a certain strength of spirit.

Avery hasn't really been so mapped out that I could guess what he would do. If it were me I would tell the, is he a constable? The superior officer mcdermot what he thinks, but this could be just about anything given to his youthful imagination.

I think you should create a protagonist that solves both problems. Perhaps a man in the crowd that retrieves the clutch and has something to do with this death which would obviously wrap Cara up in another mystery. :D
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 12:32 pm    Post subject:  

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'll be putting up the poll for Cora's dp later tonight :3
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 6:14 pm    Post subject:  

Poll for Cora officially a go!
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:59 pm    Post subject:  

It's a day later than planned, but Cora's poll is officially closed (it was a 3-way tie so I just decided to combine them all somehow haha) and Avery's is up!

Since Cora's ended up being open for 5 days, I set Avery's to do the same time so get those votes in asap! :3
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:20 pm    Post subject:  

I'm curious how you're going to combine those tied options- perhaps now would be time to call in the tie-breaker?
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:05 pm    Post subject:  

A little too late this time around, but if there's a tie on the next I'm definitely going to consider it. Combining is fun but taxing XD That being said I should, hopefully, have the next chapter up within the next day or so.
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:33 am    Post subject:  

Chapter 2! Sorry it took so long, I’m a naturally slow writer as it is (because I’m just too damn nit-picky about everything) and then add onto that the combo-ing of DPs…well, hopefully it was worth the wait XD

Also, this chapter is longer than the prologue and chapter 1 combined, so get comfy ;3

***WARNING! There’s some mild blood/gore and cursing towards the end, so be aware and prepare should you have a sensitivity to either***



CHAPTER 2

“Oh no.”

It’s Hattie’s voice. Cora barely notes that she has spoken at all before she starts shoving through the crowd, panic making her forego propriety.

She does not make it far before a gloved hand grabs her arm.

“Cora, wait, you can’t! What if you get hurt or, or-” Hattie sputters, babbling inarticulately, before she waves over the footman. “Please, you must give chase,” she orders and points after the thief.

“Yes, mum,” the man nods and runs off. He is gaining ground, and Cora is hopeful that this mess will be sorted quickly, but suddenly he stops and looks around, confusion coloring his face.

Cora stomps after him, dragging Hattie, who refuses to let her go, along with her.

“Why have you stopped?”

“My apologies, mum, I lost-”

“Oi!”

The shout draws their attention and they look to the source of the noise. Just a few yards away there is the thief, cursing and struggling as they are held in place by a tall, well-dressed man.

“Ge’off ya sloimy git!”

“Now, now, let’s not be uncivilized. Ah,” he says as he notices Cora looking at him. He strides over, thief still firmly in his grasp and being towed along behind him. “I noticed your troubles and happened to intervene. I hope you do not mind, miss.”

“No, of course not. Thank you.”

“It was my pleasure,” he says and Cora does her best not to blush at the ridiculously obvious flattery. “Now,” he addresses the thief, “return what you’ve stolen. Go on.” He gives the thief a shake.

The thief glares between Cora and the man. Where it was shadowed by their hat before, Cora gets a good look at their face this time. It is round, like a peach, and Cora cannot tell if it is a girl or a young boy for all the dirt and soot that covers it, though the ruddy flush on their cheeks at the shame and anger of being caught is still noticeable. And then there are their eyes, a mesmerizing green and glittering like jewels.

Finally they tsk and toss Cora’s clutch at her, which she barely catches, but once she gets a firm hold of it she opens it to make sure everything is in order, picking past the tickets and through the notes and coins with her fingers.

“Is everything there, Cora?” Hattie asks.

Cora nods, letting out a short sigh of relief and clasping her clutch closed.

“Thank goodness. Franklin,” Hattie acknowledges the footman who has been standing silently in the background, “be a dear and fetch the constable.”

At the mention of an officer, the thief begins to struggle again. They lash out wildly, managing to elbow their captor in the stomach and kick him in the shin. The man lets out an ‘oof’ and flinches in pain. It is enough for the thief to twist out of his grasp and sprint away.

“Shall I run after them, mum?” the footman steps forward.

Cora appreciates the determination set on his features, the willingness to redeem himself after his first failed attempt to capture the thief. She has what she needs, though, and sees no point in prolonging this little fiasco any further. Cora takes one final look at the fleeing figure, who turns their head and allows her one last flash of those emerald eyes, before she shakes her head no. The footman nods and bows, and Hattie shoos him gently back to the carriage.

“I’m sorry,” the man says holding his side still, “it seems I wasn’t of much help in the end.”

“No, no. You have done more than enough. Thank you again, um…”

“Abel Abernathy,” he says bowing.

“Cora Kendrick. And this is my friend Hattie Cotterill.”

“It is wonderful to meet you both.”

There is a brief silence where they all smile politely at each other before the man speaks again.

“Forgive me, Miss Kendrick, if this seems terribly forward of me, as we have just met, but I couldn’t help but notice the tickets in your purse. You plan to see Madam Vadoma?”

“Yes. It should be...educational.”

Hopefully.

“I see. If that is how you feel, though, then I must dissuade you from actually going.”

“Why?” Hattie asks for the both of them.

“She is a fraud, I’m afraid. Or at least for the important things. For the things that matter to you,” he looks pointedly at Cora.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“Perhaps I am mistaken, but...you can see them, yes?”

Cora sucks in a sharp breath. How could this man possibly know about those things? Unless…Cora looks around, grateful to see that the crowd is dispersing, before she asks:

“And you...you can see them too?”

“Yes.”

“And you would be willing to help me?”

“Yes.”

“For what charge?” she asks skeptically. It all sounds too convenient.

“None at all.” Abel chuckles when Cora frowns and draws her eyebrows down. “You think I am tricking you.”

“What else am I to think? As you’ve said, we’ve only just met, and helping to catch one petty thief does nothing to gain my trust. And it does nothing to prove you are honest.”

“You are right. Of course,” Abel agrees, nodding solemnly. “Perhaps a demonstration then?”

“Demonstration?”

Abel hums in affirmation then looks around the now almost deserted sidewalk. “Ah, there we are,” he says taking a few steps towards the street.

Cora watches as he peers into a storm gutter, then lifts his arms. He starts raising them slowly up and down his hands clenching and unclenching, almost like he is kneading dough, until something begins to bubble up. Cora gasps as he coaxes it into sight. It is one of those things she tries so hard to avoid and yet here Abel is, finding it, beckoning to it.

When it is in full view, Abel takes a step back, bringing his hands together squarely in front of his chest. He begins speaking, softly so that Cora cannot make out his words. As he does so his hands begin to glow, and sparks, like heat lightening, ripple over them. The sparks become bigger and brighter, and they stretch between Abel and the black thing, which begins to rapidly expand and contract, a high-pitched whining emanating from it and suddenly-

It bursts. It is simply there and then gone, the only thing left to possibly indicate that it had once been anything at all a small grey cloud that soon disperses into the air.

Abel turns, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to dab at the sheen of sweat on his forehead.

“Well? What did you think?” he asks.

“H-how did you-what was-I can’t believe-” Cora closes her gaping mouth and composes herself before speaking again. “I suppose, by way of such a convincing display, I am willing to listen to what you might have to say on the matter.”

Abel’s lips stretch into a kind smile. “Shall we go for tea, then?” he asks, extending his elbow.

Cora doesn’t move immediately, hesitant still, but Abel waits patiently, and so she takes a step forward and reaches out for his arm.

“Cora!” Hattie says sharply.

Cora jumps, turns and blinks at Hattie. How could she forget that Hattie is standing there with them?

Hattie pulls Cora back and takes her arm, holds on to it tightly, too tightly and Cora winces.

“I can’t say I understand everything that’s been said or, or done?” Hattie frowns, seemingly confused by her own words.

Cora cannot blame her. It must all look very silly - a man standing in the middle of a London street with his arms moving about and outstretched towards nothing, mumbling all the while. Could Hattie even see the sparks or were they also invisible to her? Regardless, Cora cannot explain to Hattie what has just happened, or why it is so important. Surely Hattie, despite her niceties, would laugh at and mock her. Cora does not think she can risk losing her best, and perhaps only, friend with such a truth.

After a moment’s pause where no one says anything, Hattie continues. “And I don’t understand what it is this man, Mister Abernathy,” she corrects quickly, ever the well mannered girl, “is offering, but I can’t let you go. It’s improper.”

“Hattie, it will be fine. I’m sure of it.” Cora is being offered something remarkable, and desperation is making her think it is a good idea even if she is not sure at all. “Please.”

“No, I will not allow it. I do not like it.” Hattie’s face is stern. Cora stares at her in the most pleading fashion she can muster in hopes that she will be swayed. She thinks she has done just that when she sees Hattie’s face soften a bit.

“I do not like it...but if you must go I insist that I join you. If you will not let me, then I will be forced to take you home and that is that!” she punctuates with a firm stomp of her boot, nose lifted into the air in stubbornness.

“Hattie,” Cora sighs in exasperation and impatience. Now is not the time for Hattie to be so undeniably...Hattie.

Hattie breathes deeply, puffing herself up and squaring her shoulders. A sure sign that she is going to be immovable.

What a dilemma.

*
*
*

Avery knocks on the detective’s door. He has paced for nearly ten minutes around his desk before coming to the decision to share his thoughts with Detective McDermot. Perhaps he would think they were ridiculous, but Avery is sure he will feel better for having told him, whether he reacts favorably or not.

“Come in,” sounds the detective’s gruff voice.

Avery enters the office and shuts the door behind him.

“Sir, I...well, you see, I’ve been thinking...I thought perhaps…”

“Spit it out, boy.”

“I think I’ve found something, sir!” Avery says quickly, and loudly. He clears his throat and tries again in a calmer tone. “Well, not found something, per se. But I have some ideas, and I thought I would share them with you.”

The detective stares at him for what seems like forever before he nods and gestures for Avery to continue.

“You see…” he begins and launches into his explanation. When he is done he finds the corner of McDermot’s desk and stares at it, unable to look at the detective’s face should he find disapproval there. Contrary to what he thought only minutes ago, Avery does not think he can handle being seen as a simpleton afterall.

“Interestin’.”

Avery lifts his eyes in hopeful surprise. “Truly?”

“Yes, very interestin’. Ya’ve got some brains in ya, boy,” he says standing. McDermot grabs his jacket - an unflattering one he brings from home and always wears with patches at the elbows in a checkered pattern - from off the back of his chair and folds it over his arm. “Come on, then, while we’ve still got us some daylight. And stop grinnin’ like an idiot,” he adds over his shoulder as he walks out of his office.

Avery follows along happily, trying his best, and ultimately failing, to suppress the smile on his face. He does not often get praise, so he finds he is beside himself at even the smallest compliment.

They walk to the main street just a few blocks away and hail a hansom, ride it across the Thames into Greenwich. There has been rain since the crime, so the blood, and to Avery’s relief his sick, is washed away, but this also means any lingering clues are gone as well. The detective, however, does not seem deterred by this.

“First off we’ll check down closer to the docks. Lots o’ sorts down there.”

Avery nods, getting out his handkerchief the closer they get to the river’s edge. He may have lived in London his entire life, but he still can’t abide the smell of the water. Avery glances over at McDermot. The detective, obviously made of sterner stuff, doesn’t even twitch his nose. Avery stuffs his handkerchief back in his pocket out of sheer stubbornness.

When they get to the docks they pause, scanning the area. It is later in the day, so the foot traffic is slower, but there are still enough people milling about that they could make headway should they ask the right folks.

“This will take some time,” McDermot mumbles as he glances to the sky at the steadily setting sun.

“Should we split up to cover more ground?” Avery suggests. When McDermot doesn’t immediately answer, he continues. “We can meet here again in an hour.”

The detective gives him a sideways look, and Avery knows he is determining whether or not Avery can handle it. Eventually he nods.

“One hour, not a second more, ya hear?”

“Yes, sir!” Avery salutes and they part ways.

Nearly a half hour into his investigation and Avery is not having much success. Many people brush him off, and anyone he does manage to question gives him vague, unhelpful answers. He is contemplating going back and finding McDermot, ready to admit defeat, when a movement in the corner of his eye makes him pause.

He turns and there is a dog. It ambles down a narrow alley, listing to the left, then to the right, as it goes. Avery watches it for a moment, biting his lip, before making the decision to walk after it. It doesn’t notice him immediately, but when it does it stops, turning to face him, head lifted. Avery scrutinizes it carefully, but it doesn’t appear to be violent or rabid, so he starts inching slowly closer. As he moves it puts its ears back.

“Easy,” he coos. “Easy, it’s okay. I’m not going to…”

Avery’s voice dies off as the dog’s eyes start glowing and it stands.

“That’s certainly not normal.”

This time the sound of his voice seems to upset the beast - for can he really call it a dog anymore? - and it begins snarling. It’s claws and fangs extend, unnaturally long, dark and daunting. The air is eerily still as Avery stares at the beast and it, in turn, looks at him. Then it surges forward.

Avery is caught by surprise by it’s speed. It’s claws burn as they rip into him, and he cries out, spinning away. He can feel the blood flowing thickly and freely down his side. Without missing a beat, the beast rears back and attacks again. Avery dodges by way of pure luck, stumbling backwards and landing roughly on the ground. He catches himself on his elbows and wrestles his gun out of his belt. Once loose, he points it forward and fires, prays that it hits because he did not bother to aim.

He is rewarded by the beast coming to an abrupt, shuddering halt and falling. Even after it hits the ground, though, he hears wet, raspy breathing and it worries him. Is it still alive? Can it attack again?

It takes Avery a moment to realize that it is not the animal, but him. Each intake is painful and short, each exhale has him coughing. His vision is hazy around the edges and growing dimmer with each passing second.

Definitely not good.

Avery lies back, rests his cheek on the cold cobblestone. He knows that panicking will not help him, so he takes as deep of breaths as he can to calm himself and thinks.

The most important, and perhaps most impossible, thing to do is keep himself from bleeding anymore. He places his hand against the long gashes torn into his side. It is hard to cover them all at once, but he does what he can and presses down to staunch the flow of blood, groaning in pain.

Help. Now he needs help. He tries to call out, but all that leaves his lips is a strained gurgle that makes him cough harder. Avery’s eyes roam the alleyway, but there is nothing save for the dead thing in front of him and the gun in his hand.

Of course, the gun in his hand!

Avery would berate himself later for not thinking of it sooner, but for now he clenches it in his fist and brings it closer. His hands shake as he digs for another bullet and begins to reload it. The movements, as minimal as they are, send new pain shooting through his body and more blood gushing from the wounds.

After double checking to make sure it will not jam, Avery points the gun up and shoots. His ears are ringing, but he hopes the one shot is enough for someone to hear and, hopefully, rush to his rescue. He isn’t sure if he can fumble through loading the gun again, so he drops it and uses both hands to put pressure against his wound, and waits.

“-very!”

Avery stirs at the voice and opens his eyes. When did he close them?

“Avery!”

He lazily lifts his gaze and sees McDermot running to him. His vision is blurry, but he knows it’s the detective, he would recognize that ugly jacket anywhere.

“Stay with me, boy!” the detective shouts as he kneels and looks over Avery’s injury. “Bloody shittin’ hell.”

Avery grunts, the only form of communication he can manage. He watches with heavy lids as McDermot removes the jacket, grunting again when the man rolls him into it and picks him up. He blacks out as the detective begins to run.

*
*
*

The steady sound of shoes on cobblestone echo down the alleyway. A figure, all in black, strides forward, stopping once they reach the prone lump on the ground. They bring their hand to their forehead and rub delicately at their temples in frustration.

“How unfortunate. Now I’ll have to make another.”

They crouch down, shooing away the rats nibbling at the body, then peer at the head. More specifically, at the hole that is carved into it. Deft fingers dig into the skull and pull away the bullet embedded there. A white handkerchief appears to wipe off the blood and gristle clinging to it. When it is clean they hold the bullet to their nose and sniff deeply. They keep the breath in, letting it out in a content sigh after a few moments. They smile, teeth sharp and glistening in the moonlight.

“Or perhaps...not so unfortunate afterall.”



Lots of stuff going on in this chapter, hehehe.... So for the DP - what does Cora do? Avery (poor cinnamon roll) doesn’t get a DP this time because he’s sort of unconscious and bleeding, ahaha…
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:49 pm    Post subject:  

Well then! That escalated. Anyhow, I'm mildly suspicious of this Mister Abernathy that just appears out of no where to be ever so helpful. Part of me even wonders if the whole thing wasn't orchestrated... But that's neither here nor there, I'll just have to wait and see! I didn't see an outright stated dp, but it does seem to be that we're wondering what Cora does, yes? I say let Hattie come along. The more she pushes to do this alone, the more Hattie will dig in her heels and be tenacious.

Also, daaaang Avery. I hope he can survive that. I wonder if it was just bloodloss, or if there's a kind of poison on these beasts. Did the detective notice the body of the beast? Could he see the body? So many questions, and I find myself wanting to rush to the next chapters to find out what is going on. I didn't pick out an Avery dp, is there not one this chapter due to his injuries?
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Seraphi



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:39 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for reading, Noni!

You are quite right, no DP for Avery. And as for Cora, right again, what is she going to do?

I put that in the author's notes at the end of the chapter, but I made the font smaller so as not to take away from the reading of the actual body of text. Perhaps its a bit TOO small XD Next time I'll keep it regular size and just mess with the color so no one is confused.

Sorry about that, my dear ^^'
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Novelest_Ninjagirl



Joined: 09 Dec 2007
Posts: 698
Location: The inn. Probably. Come check!

Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:00 pm    Post subject:  

Oh, because it was so tiny and so far down, it looked like part of your signature and I ignored it. XD Whoops. That'll teach me to pay more attention.
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