Journey to New Europa
Chapter 4, Meeting Holmes
We wake to find ourselves still in some version of London, 1872. Since we were not dressed for London, 1872, we send Nick out to get us some money. This is fairly easy, since Nick always carries a large number of diamonds, produced as a sort of exhaust by the pantope "Fast Times."
While Nick is out flabbergasting jewelers and Cailin is hawking for pigeons in the park with Kea, Tom rings for service and inquires if the hotel can provide an encyclopedia. Of course. So Tom reads up on the local wizards and magic. The Britanica makes it clear that they are real, but is not really very informative.
Lorelei, meanwhile, looks through articles on geology and history and Dafnord looks up recent wars. Lorelei finds articles on fays, but these are nearly as uninformative as the ones on wizards. We do learn that China is ruled by dragons...
Dafnord learns that Bavaria recently scotched Bismark's plans to gobble up as much of Europe as possible using, among other assets, his enormous "Land Fortresses" (early tanks). Bavaria countered this with its new "Air Navy," but there is no good data on it.
There's rather more on dwarves and their craftsmanship and their contributions to the advancement of technology.
Once Nick comes back with money, we telepathically recall Cailin (who was being watched by a suspicious bobby, not that she knew what he was) and call up the hotel for some tailors.
It was surely one of the more interesting days in the lives of those tailors, even if they are used to tailoring for elves and adventurers and the like. Mithriel, relieved of the social pressures from her fairytale-princess sister, goes wild ordering the most gorgeous wardrobe she can imagine. Z goes even wilder, having a more experienced imagination. All the women order masculine-style clothing as well as feminine, even though, in the cases of Ashleigh and Lorelei, it is more in the nature of adventurers' jodhpurs cut for women, or George-Sand-style tuxedos for ladies, not meant to let them pass as men. (Cf. the costumes of Amelia Peabody in her adventures as described by Elizabeth Peters.)
Dafnord is adamant that clothing should be practical and wants something just like what he is already wearing until Tom points out that being able to circulate freely in high social circles is a very practical ability, entailing the right costume.
Once they have something to wear, Ashleigh and Kate leave their measurements with the tailors and head for Montague Street, where Sherlock Holmes has his offices. (Baker Street isn't until later in his career.) Kate goes as Ashleigh's maid, and Ashleigh gives her name to the landlady as "Ashleigh Holmes."
She is shown into the room of a fellow who looks very like her brother Sherrinford, but is certainly not identical. Sherlock, on the other hand, is obviously intrigued by someone who looks (1) like a Holmes and (2) like an elf-woman.
Ashleigh tells Sherlock that she is trying to locate the "present troubles." Holmes allows as how most of his clients are trying to lose their troubles, not find them. Ashleigh explains that she is with a group summoned into this world to cope with some troubles that the summoners refused to specify. We've been looking through newspapers and such, but the summoners also referred us to Sherlock, as well as mentioning a Katrina Konstantine. They did not mention, but we spied in a notebook, the names Somerset Hall (person or place?) and Tom Olam (recently abducted from a diplomatic party). Ashleigh suspects we might have been given Olam's name as a reference had he not been abducted.
Holmes says that, if she is looking for trouble, Olam is a good man to go to, since he has a lot centering on him. He is an American member of the court of King Ludwig of Bavaria. Somerset Hall is a person, a well-known philanthropist. Katerina Konstantine is unknown to him.
Ashleigh asks to hear more about Tom Olam, since she suspects we may have to rescue him and that we are "kindred spirits" (i.e. outworlders). She shows Sherlock a picture of the emblem we spied on MacLeish's medallion and admits to not recognizing it.
"You don't travel in sorcerous circles, then?" Sherlock asks.
"Not those sorcerous circles."
Sherlock tells Ashleigh that that is the emblem of the druids, and MacLeish is a very high-ranking druid, in fact an Elder of the Inner Circle of Seven, their governing body. What, he asks, is our interest in MacLeish?
"He and his druids are the ones who summoned us here."
Sherlock takes another look at Ashleigh's familiar family features and asks, "Visiting?"
"Living there for some years, actually. We were exploring the Chaos Marches when we were summoned." She goes on to admit, however, to coming from a place somewhat like this one, where she has younger brothers named Sherrinford and Mycroft. Sherlock is fascinated. He remarks that "Sherrinford" is a family name and that Ashleigh strongly resembles a maternal aunt of his.
Laying aside the trans-dimensional genealogy for the moment, Sherlock tells Ashleigh that the intervention of the high druids clearly shows that something important is afoot, since they are notoriously neutral in wizardly disputes. This strong policy of neutrality also explains why they are intervening through the party rather than directly, and why they would not even give any definite direction to the party.
Most wizardly orders, by contrast, are highly manipulative and conspiratorial, as well as being secretive. The Order of the Golden Dawn, for instance, or the Temple of Ra, or the Theosophical White Lodge, or the Bavarian Illuminati.
Sherlock, naturally enough, has been studying current events too, and sees tensions between these orders building. He fears the outbreak of a sub rosa wizard-war. Someone, for instance, (probably the Golden Dawn) recently made an attempt on the life of Morrolan of the Illuminati, wizardly advisor to King Ludwig. The attempt was probably in retaliation for the recent death (rumored murder) of a Golden Dawn member, though there is no evidence Sherlock knows of that the Illuminati were responsible.
Only a few hours after the attempt on Morrolan, Tom Olam was abducted. By the Golden Dawn? Sherlock isn't sure. He also thinks there was no magic involved in the murder that so agitated the Golden Dawn. After all, there has been a string of crimes in the last two years by some new criminal organization, and this may be related.
Ashleigh: "You mean Moriarty's people? Colonel Moran and them?"
Sherlock is very disconcerted and very interested in this bit of name-dropping. Ashleigh explains that she left her version of the 19th century from a slightly later year. Sherlock knew that Moriarty was involved, but did not know he was the leader. He had not heard anything to implicate Col. Moran.
Sherlock goes on to say that the Illuminati probably believe it was the Golden Dawn who took Tom Olam, but they would have been more likely to murder him rather than abduct him.
Ashleigh asks what makes Olam so valuable. That is not well-known. The Bavarian court is very secretive about it. But Olam had a key role in recruiting the dwarves to the Second Compact, something to do with getting the dragons signed on, and a key role in inventing the Bavarian Air Navy four years ago. And he is widely rumored, as we heard, to be an outworlder.
In general, it appears we are here to head off this wizard-war. The worst tensions are between the Temple of Ra and the White Lodge. Ten days ago, in Castile, there was an incident.
What is the basis for these tensions? It varies. The Temple is power-hungry and gung-ho on blending technology and magic, and so is allied with the Steam Lords -- influential industrialist peers and millionaires. The Lodge opposes this policy.
The Golden Dawn and the Illuminati have hated each other so long, it is simply traditional. The original cause was a series of defections, back and forth, between the two orders back in the time of their founding. Both also have long-range plans for the world, incompatible ones. The Golden Dawn is necromantic and power-hungry, while the Illuminati are more altruistic.
Ashleigh changes the subject and asks where one can go to find elves in this world. There is no country of elves analogous to the dwarf-holds, but they circulate socially in various known places, often in high society. Sherlock mentions some clubs and a wealthy gentleman who entertains "widely." King Auberon himself is often at the Bavarian court, and in fact is said to have raised the castle, Falkenstein, in a single night, by magic. He is, of course, one of the few fays that can do magic.
"Of course"? "Few"? We learn that, although fays are magic, they don't often do much magic, beyond some built-in powers depending on their particular breed.
Ashleigh asks after sorcerous knowledge, and learns that elementary occult knowledge is public, but the various wizard orders are very secretive about the good stuff in their magic books. In fact, Olam may have brought such a book, or a similar source of information, with him from his own world. A sudden access of new magical knowledge is a very good explanation of the sudden rise in the fortunes of Bavaria.
Sherlock's strategic advice is for us to follow the leads we got from the druids and to look for more players in this secretive game. Ashleigh asks if we should look among the Unseelie. Sherlock says that it is never wise to go looking for them, though they may be involved very far back in the background.
If we want to get into the thick of these tensions, we might want to advertise that we, like Olam, are outworlders. Whoever it is that goes about abducting outworlders might then become interested in us. On the other hand, we might want to hide this data for exactly the same reasons.
Ashleigh asks after the iron allergy the fays in our party have experienced in this world. It's perfectly normal. Steel is not as bad; Cold Iron (meteoric stuff) is worse.
Oh, and the wizard on the train is probably Francis Merryweather, a leading Mason -- which hereabouts is an order of wizardry.
Ashleigh thanks Sherlock and remarks that she can't help regarding him as a kind of cousin. She offers information in payment and gives him some tips on Moriarty. She also satisfies some of his curiosity about herself, explaining that she was an Oxford physics professor at Shrewsbury. She also mentions the New Blood, a new race of elves (although also said to be as old as the First Blood) and that Nick is perhaps the eldest of them. They are unrelated to either the Seelie or the Unseelie Courts.
She leaves and the group sends a wire to this Somerset Hall, telling him that Mr. MacLeish said we should look him up. We sign it "Lord Nicholas and Lady Mithriel."
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.