Week 8, Raffles
It is now Thursday, two days after the vampire hunt. Chris and Sophie wonder why we haven't heard from Holmes (or Challenger, Tom adds), who should have easily traced the odd occurrences at Carlfax Abbey back to us.
Chris checks out the tracer he's set in Holmes' office; the Great Detective is out. Sophie takes a photographic memory of the scene viewed through Chris's clairvoyance. A leisured examination shows a fresh layer of newspaper clippings on top of the old clutter, including a mention of the Thromdiddle robbery and descriptions of the Carlfax Enigma. Also, there have been some mysterious disappearances in Soho.
Chris and Sophie decide to try their luck with Madame Zoltan, as Tom and Pfusand did. Mme. Z. greets them with a well-practiced, "What can Madame Zoltan do for you?" They say bluntly that they want information on the Eye of Dalgroom. It's hard to say whether or not she recognizes the name. She asks a few questions and remarks that, if they want it located or described, it's a pity they don't have some token connected with it.
Nonetheless, she uncovers the ol' crystal ball (it was tea-leaves last time), and lights up the incense. Neither of her elven clients notices any psychic activity as she gazes into the crystal and says, "The Eye is here in London. I cannot tell who brought it here, but it is not far away. As you will have heard, it is sought by many. It is the center of some danger and much activity. Its owner is in considerable danger. I do not see the nature of the danger, or if the owner is aware of it."
Chris: "Do they even know they own it?"
Mme. Z: "I cannot tell. It has changed hands often, of late. It is a great focus of power. Do not become involved if you are not conversant with The Powers."
Chris: "What kind of danger does it represent?"
Mme. Z.: "Not all the forces focused on it are human." Her elvish clients suppress smiles.) "I do not wish to be further involved in this. I would recommend you refrain as well."
Chris: "We're very serious about this inquiry."
Mme. Z.: "Nevertheless, I can see no more."
Sophie: "What `Powers' did you refer to?"
Mme. Z.: "Those of the Other World. Do not tamper with the Eye unless you are versed in such things."
Chris: "We're versed in some such things, but we're not sure they're the right things."
Mme. Z.: "Be very careful, then. Is that all?"
Chris: "How about a quick reading on us?"
Madame Zoltan agrees, and, still without a flicker of psi, asks Sophie, "You were not sent here by the others?"
Mme. Z.: "That is odd. I see a future similar to another I recently told. I would guess you will soon meet a --" Here she chokes somewhat. "-- a tall, dark stranger." The elves think of Pfusand and suppress more smiles. "You will travel to distant lands, in danger, following a dangerous, evil man. The tall, dark stranger shares your danger with you." To Sophie: "Understand, though my reading may sound like a caricature, I mean it with all sincerity. There IS a dangerous man and an eastern journey before you."
Chris: "To the literal east?"
Mme. Z.: "Yes, to Asia or Africa."
They pay her and leave. Chris asks if she knows the name of this dangerous man they will be following, but she does not.
For future reference, Chris managed to take a photographic memory of Mme. Z. He displays this to Sophie by wiping his hand down the page of a sketchbook, then erasing the image by wiping up again. "Good copy, but lousy art," opines his wife. "I wasn't trying for art," he retorts.
Meanwhile, Tom and Pfusand have gone off to the Adventurers' Club, to meet Professor Challenger, in hopes of the loan of his monograph on the religions and mythology of the Hindu Kush (with possible data on the Eye of Dalgroom.)
They are ushered into the lounge with stiff ceremony. Challenger breezes in and, in response to Tom's queries, says that he hasn't had a chance to get out to the country. He was [penetrating glance] delayed by the investigation into the explosions and mysterious lights at Carlfax Abbey. Tom makes a few bland inquiries into this investigation and Challenger responds with still broader hints that he knows of Tom's involvement. Finally, he just asks why we took cabs over there to do ... whatever we did.
Tom replies that proceedings became noisier than we anticipated, and that we were engaged in ... pest control. Challenger remarks with heavy sarcasm that the natives here have some quaint customs and formalities concerning the disposal of two- legged pests. Tom: "I was aware of that, but those procedures would have been quite inapplicable here. I assure you, no one was killed." (They were already dead.)
Tom then asks Challenger what was the oddest thing he has ever experienced. Challenger coughs and splutters and says it would take a long time to explain. Tom replies he is in the same position, though he WILL explain if Challenger REALLY want it. Challenger decides he doesn't and huffs something to Tom about "not being retained by the police to supply their deficiencies" but that Tom & Co. should be more discreet.
Tom assures the good professor that no one wishes more than he that Challenger should be spared from police duty after this. He then takes his leave. Well, at least now we know how much he knows. When Cantrel hears of this interview later, he berates Tom for admitting complicity to Challenger. Tom retorts that this admission didn't tell Challenger anything he didn't know already.
Cantrel flies out under cover of invisibility that evening, to pursue our remaining clue to the whereabouts of the Eye of Dalgroom -- the mysterious Gentleman Burglar. He hopes that his aerial perspective will be one the Gentleman Burglar has not thought to cover. And of course, it's unlikely the Gentleman Burglar will be able to hide from a futuristic multicorder.
Tonight, Cantrel strikes it lucky. He finds a man skulking on rooftops in St. Alban Street. On closer inspection, he's wearing a thin shroud of black over his face, and a black dickey and gloves over black formal wear. Looks promising. He even carries a black rope.
Cantrel watches with critical eye while the fellow works his way dexterously from one rooftop to the next, finally cutting his way through a glass window and breaking into an upper room. Cantrel drifts behind, entering to watch the Gentleman Burglar negotiate a squeaky door. The Gentleman Burglar must have felt air currents or be latently psychic himself, for he glances around anxiously before continuing.
Beyond the squeaky door is a bedroom. The thief enters and goes for one specific door in a dresser, whence he extracts a small box. He then makes a retreat as careful and silent as his attack. As he gets out of the window, Cantrel pulls out a stun gun and shoots him.
Catching him before he can roll off the roof, Cantrel calls the rest of us up on communicator. While those interested render themselves invisible and inaudible and head out for St. Alban Street, Cantrel frisks the Gentleman Burglar, firing stun-bolts into him at intervals to keep him unconscious. He finds the booty-box and various burglary tools, but no little Gentleman Burglar calling-cards. There's a tiny knife and a stiff wire concealed cunningly in his lapel.
The rest of us have joined Cantrel on the roof by now. Tom proposes we audit the fellow's memory, covering our tracks with some amnesia. "You do it," Chris suggests. "He's not my type, and remember what happened last time I tried it." The last time was when he audited Sophie's memory as she slept. "What happened" was that he:
Now, what does he know about occultists? This brings up associations of fear and terror and the creeps. And what brought on those images? Tom probes and faints. Chris catches the image from his failing mind -- a hideously dismembered corpse.
Tom regains consciousness and resumes his memory audit. Does the Eye of Dalgroom ring any bells? Tom visualizes it from the description given by Holmes -- an immense star sapphire. There returns a memory of such a stone, lying on a black cloth, held in Raffles' own hand. He got it in a large house in London, but has no name for the stone other than "the lucky break." He took it home. Then the fears cloud the memory trace.
Tom musters his mnemonic skills and pushes on. Eventually, by working along a sequential "log" of the events surrounding the stone, he gets the following tale:
Raffles was walking home when he heard a horrid shriek. He started running for home, then, hopped over a fence, scooted through the back yard to his own flat, and scaled an exterior wall. On the way past a neighboring window, he looked in to check out the room and saw the grisly corpse of the traumatic memory encountered earlier. He has barely registered the shock and made a reluctant identification of the corpse (not easy), when he hears a crash. Turning, he sees the corner of his own bed smash through his window. He then ran away, and no wonder. His only coherent plan was to get a hold of some more money and get away. He went to fetch some equipment from a cache he has and decided to hit the Worthington place early.
Fragmentary images associated with "the Worthington place" reveal that this was the place Cantrel found him. So the horrendous events in his memory are only a few hours old. Tom extracts the address of Raffles' flat, then scrubs out any memories of the auditing session itself. We split, pausing only long enough to prop Raffles on some nook of the roof, so that he can recover consciousness and believe he fainted and fortunately got caught in the nook. We put some tracers on him for future reference.
We bolt back to our rented house, arm and armor ourselves, then set out, still under cover of glamour, for Raffles' neighborhood, a brisk trot away. Nothing shows up on the diadem detector. Sophie and Pfusand spot the boarding house with the tell-tale bed sticking through the window and Lorelei probes at it. Chris adds his Second Sight.
Raffles' room is torn up, even to the floorboards and the walls into adjoining rooms. A scattering of loose diamonds has been carelessly left behind in the crannies under the floorboards. In the room where Raffles saw the mangled corpse, we find a bloody smear. Chris notes a trail of blood out of the room and down the stairs, showing that the body was removed. (Instead of its being, say, eaten.)
Around now, we spot a bobby on duty before the house. (He doesn't spot us.) Lorelei levitates up to the murder room, followed by Alag. On the way up, Lorelei spots someone skulking away from the house. Sophie and Chris Second Sight him and discover he is a nondescript individual; the most remarkable thing about him is that he is the one Raffles thought was the mangled corpse. It was, of course, hard to be sure.
Lorelei now turns her attention to the room. She scrys it and faints. Alag catches her. She recovers and reports that, despite the apparent good health of the supposed victim, someone was indeed ripped to pieces here. The psychic signatures feel vaguely familiar, but not vampiric.
Alag then turns to Raffles' room and tries his new psychic trick, Retrocognition. It works beautifully.  It doesn't detect psychic and emotional history, the way Lorelei's scrying does, but it gets nice clear pictures of physical events. For instance, Alag behold a 30ish man burst into Raffles' room, looking purposeful, frantic, and pursued. He NOT the fellow we saw hurrying away.
He is followed by something huge and ugly and monstrous, looking, to Alag, like a mutated orc. This is not the man's pursuer, though, for at his orders it begins ripping things open. Then Alag's vision goes to slow motion as man and monster turn and watch the wall burst in. An even bigger ugly comes through the wall and joins them. The man directs them but seems repulsed by his companions. At last, they uncover a small box. The man grabs it, and the bed gets thrown through the window in the general excitement. The man pulls out a thick wand, or short scepter, and gestures. The uglies jump him and he goes flying. End of vision.
Alag then turns his Retrocognition on the murder room next door. The man enters it sneakily (presumably some short time before he entered Raffles' room), closes the door and the blinds, lights candles, pulls up the carpet, and starts to draw a pentagram. The Retrocognition gets flickery at this point, as if experiencing interference. When it clears, the two uglies are there, standing in the pentagram. The door bursts open. A new man enters, angry. His anger turns to shock at the sight of the uglies. The bigger ugly grabs him; the lesser ugly and the conjurer leave. The big ugly then proceeds to make the stranger into the unholy mess Raffles observed earlier. Alag fast-forwards through this scene as best he may. Ultimately, some bobbies come investigating, retch at the sight, go away, and come back with some others, better prepared for the shock, who help mop up the body.
It looks as if our psychic visions should be R-rated.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.