The Hidden Battle for London Town

Plethora of hobbies

Griff smelled bacon.  That in itself wasn’t strange.  Bacon wasn’t exactly uncommon in London.  But this wasn’t just bacon, this was bacon that someone made for him.  Or too share with him.  Now that was something rare.  Definitely something worth getting out of bed for.  His room, formerly Ada’s, was still spartan with little more than a bed and an ancient wardrobe that had probably been in the room since the building was constructed.  Dressing quickly he strolled into the main room eyes searching for Cosette.  There was a girl you could just… bask in. 

            Unfortunately she wasn’t about.  Though the sour look Ada was giving him were a clear sign that she knew he’d been trying to take a gander of the fairest sister of them all.  “Bacon?”  Griff asked hoping to distract the stormy daughter of Jupiter before her irritation had a chance to properly swell into a rage. 

            “It’s in the kitchen.  Fair warning, I burned it.”  She said, going back to her knitting.  He nodded maneuvering himself toward the kitchen. 

            “So,” he said in deliberately casual tone, “where’s your sister?” 

            “Church.”  Her flat tone letting him know that she saw through his not subtle enough ruse. 

            “What, really?”  That was interesting.  Christianity and Scions… well, not much mixing. 

            “She likes to volunteer in the soup kitchen.”  Ada grumbled.

            “Oh.  Why didn’t you go with her?” 

She looked up at him with a surprised look on her face.  Almost startled.  “I look like the sort of girl who works in a soup kitchen?”

“Yeah,” he said, taking the other armchair, “you took me in after all.”

“Well, you see, it’s like…”  She babbled for a second before getting real interested in her needlework.  Actually now that he was paying attention to her, it was a whole production.  On the floor was a basket full of small balls of yarn.  One of her feet held a ball aloft, another kneaded the string up to her hands which nearly blurred as they raced about their task. 

“You bloody mind?”  She thundered not looking up at him, “I’m working here.  Go gallivant around town or something.”

“I didn’t know you could knit.”  He offered hoping she’d volley it into a conversation.  He’d had plenty of days full of lonely gallivanting about towns.  Far better to hang about and chat for a bit.

“Well I sodding can.  Make socks and coats and such for a little extra money.  I usually only do it on my days off.  Probably why you haven’t seen me at it yet.”

“Groovy.”

“I mean it’s not like it’s my hobby or anything.  I don’t really like it.”

“Okay.”

“I do interesting things… like I can paint.  Only it’s kind of expensive you know.  The paints.”

“Makes sense.” 

“And I can play seven instruments.  Violin, cello, flute, harpsicord, piano, bagpipes, and the organ.  We had lots of music classes at the asylum.  Of course I can’t afford any of them.”

“swell.”

“I sing sometimes, dance too, I mean, Cosette’s a better singer and dancer than I am, but I do both.”

“Right.”

“Actually I write music every now and again.  Actually I just composed one the other day about a knight who keeps falling off a tower.”

“You know look at the time, I better let you get back to work.  Plenty of gallivanting to do!”

“Wait, I haven’t told you about my sketchbook yet!”

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Talo's To-Do List
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New Place

“Well what do you think?” Cosette asked as she ushered her younger sister into their new flat.   Ada was quickly discovering that the emphasis in Cosette’s mind was on younger

“It’s nice.”  A two room flat with a proper sitting room, a little kitchen, and even a tub and linen closet.  Of course the furniture was a little sparse but that was to be expected for a rental. 

“What a magnifique day, meeting you, getting a new flat together, getting to know all of our new friends, that crazy with ze shadows.  My heavens the drinking after all that.  By Jove you really put it away.  I had barely trois cups and you had vingt bottles and not even a petit wobble in your step.”  Cosette twirled about the house, a perfectly under control cyclone, she deftly patted each of the arm chairs and maneuvered the candles on the small end table before making in to the tiny kitchen and starting a pot of tea before Ada had a time to get in and pick her chair. 

“Yeah, I can drink a lot.”  Ada muttered as she slouched in her armchair and marveled at the view from their only window.  It overlooked a crossroad along a long winding street, giving an almost panoramic piece of sky and city scape. 

“Voilà ma petite sœur.  De mauvaises nouvelles, wine is all well and good but you need to eat real food too.  I have not seen you touch so much as a bite of bread all day.”  Cosette whiffed about the kitchen fiddling with plates and cups, and half unloading a small box of other kitchen things.

“Foods overrated.”  Ada mumbled as Cosette put a cup of tea next to her, “you know I think I’ll just pass out in the chair tonight.”

“Non! You cannot go to sleep yet, you need a bath first.”

“You go ahead,” Ada waved, “I’m good.  I sponged off the other day.” 

“Non Non.”  Her self-proclaimed elder sister called moving over to pull Ada out of the chair and all but pushing toward the bathroom.  “A clean body is a clean soul, and everything will feel tres magnifique once we get you scrubbed.”

“You should go first.”  Ada said as she slowly started disrobing.

“Non I am your sœur aînée.”  Cosette said discarding her own clothes on a hamper.  “You go first, and I shall wash your hair, then we can revirement.”

Ada took a moment to study her sister.  It was painful to admit the unfairness of their differences.  Ada had never thought of herself as ugly.  Plain to be sure.  Dull even.  But standing next to Cosette was like a slap in the face made worse by their few similarities.  They were of a height and build.  Ada doubted there were more than a few centimeters of height difference between them.  Their cheekbones, chins, noses, pretty much their entire facial structure was all but identical. 

Yet the differences were like a storm next to a clear sky.  Cosette’s hair was light, curly, and gentle, and seemed to float on some invisible breeze.  Her eyes were a bright sky grey.  Her body was curvier than a cloud and she had a walk like a summer breeze.  In comparison Ada’s own dark hair hung as if drenched by a passing storm.  Her eyes were dark blue pits of stagnant water.  Ada had the body of a wet rag and a walk that was the erratic pitter patter of a rainy day.  Fucking unfair.

She slid into the tub.  Before her ascension it would have scalded, but now she was durable enough it only tingled. 

“I approve of the private bath.”  Ada said as Cosette began to wash her hair.

“Now mon petit, you don’t worry about a thing.  I’ll clean you up, we’ll get some food in you and a good night of sleep.  Tomorrow we can begin your job hunt?” 

“I have a job.  I’m an actress.”  Ada said as she relaxed.

“… You’re a prostitute.”  Cosette said tentatively.       

“They’re the same thing in London.  A while ago they tried to ban women actors to stop it from happening and it kind of backfired.  Now days there aren’t many men acting any more… well except the queers.  Got a spanish queer in our troupe you wouldn’t believe how many cocks he gets a night.  You’re a singer right?  Unless you get a job at a posh hotel you’re going to be working poles too.  Well unless it’s a Gentleman’s hotel and then you’ll be sucking lordlings pricks. Good pounds in that.”

“I…don’t think I’d like that.  I’ll find a place with a piano.  A nice little lounge to sing in.”

“Hell’s bells you’re a virgin aren’t you?”  Ada asked rolling in the tub to look at her sister.    

“I am.”  Cosette blushed, her gaze drifting from her smirking face.  “As well you should be!”

“I don’t think I’ve ever met one your age.  Well, cept highborn ladies.  But never a real woman.”  Ada chuckled.  “You never met a man who tickled your fancy?”

“…I did.”  Corsette said.  “Monsieur Marius Pontmercy.  He was very kind to me.” 

“Monsieur… that’s like a gentleman right?”  Ada asked climbing out of the tub and switching with her sister.                  

“Oui.” Corsette said, shivering slightly as she climbed into the cold water.  “A fine gentleman.”

“So why didn’t you let him bruise the beef curtains?”

“What?”

“You know?”  Ada insisted taking a seat behind the tub her fingers sewing her sisters hair, “Buttering the biscuit, caulking the tub, roasting the broomstick, frigging Odin, thumping thighs, going heels to Jesus, gland to gland combat, hiding the bishop…”

“I get the idea.”  Corsette said, her voice blushing enough that Ada didn’t need to see her face.  “We, were going to get married.  Before my step father died, and Jove spoke to me.  After, I felt it would have been wrong.  I’ll live forever and he… it wouldn’t have worked out.”

Ada didn’t have much to say to that depressing bit of news.  “Lifechanging,” she mumbled, “our lord father is good at that.  C’mon, get out of that water, let’s go to bed.”

There was only the one bed but that presented no problem to Cosette or Ada.  Orphans both, they understood that Good Beds were valuable.  Why waste it on one person when two or three, or even more would fit?  Their bed was easily big enough for two broad shouldered men to lay and never touch each other.  Ada and Cosette could have sprawled to their hearts content with no worry of actually touching each other.  Except Corsette was apparently a cuddler.  So Ada lay there rigid as a stick bug inches from falling from the bed with her sister snuggled in.  Well, she'd slept with worse.

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Moriarty's List
The Augustin & the Tuatha

The Augustin

 

Adler – <s>ORCUS</s> <s>MERCURIUS</s> DIS

Baudelaire – ??? – tattoo.

Bezhukov – <s>PHOEBUS</s> MARS

Carroll – LUNA <s>SOL</s>

Carson – UNAWAKENED

Cornelius, M – NEPTUNE

Cornelius, T – UNAWAKENED, NEPTUNE?

Davies – UNAWAKENED

Gray – MINERVA

Griffin – MERCURIUS? LUNA?

Havisham – VENUS – Satis House

Holmes, M – DIANA

Holmes, S – DIANA – Baker Street

Hyde – JANUS – Roasted Man, Whitechapel

Newman – ? – ? Find him.

 

The Tuatha

<s>Pan</s>

Goodfellow

Talbot???

France – The Beast -  the key to finding Diagon Alley?

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a little spider Inside

It was late when Ada finally drug herself into to her basement flat.  Late even by the hours streetwalkers observed.  A delayed end to an marvelous, terrifying, eye popping, world changing day.  Unfortunately her flat was still the ruin of her lord father’s… gravity defying introduction.  Her lord father.  She fondled the Jovian Denarius that seemed to appear in her palm.

Everything she owned had been upended, first pulled up to the ceiling, then dashed against her far wall.  Her poorly built bedframe had shattered into a bramble.  Her little end table and dresser meeting similar fates.  Her few clothes, umbrella, scripts… everything left in a mottley mess beneath the thin window on the far wall.

“Sod it.”  Ada grumbled, ignoring the mess she stripped out of her day wear, pulled her holey mattress out of the mess alongside her threadbare blanket.  Then collapsed onto them in a manner not dissimiliar to her earlier plummet from the heavens. 

She was exhausted.  Drained.  What a day.  She’d met her lord father, flew into the sky, ascended, met the odd pair of Felix and Dr Watson, been dragooned alongside “lord” Talos into Mycroft’s little web and conspiracy.  Met the Ripper.  Lost the Ripper.  Then spent god knows how many hours trying to find him again. 

She lay there trying to sleep.  But it was one of those exhaustions that would not let her succumb to rest.  Little noises and sounds kept jarring her slightly awake, causing her to half focus before dismissing them.  She could hear the comforting pitter patter of rain on the cobblestone street, broken by the hurried steps of passersby.  She could hear the stomping footsteps and bellows of her upstairs neighbor Mrs Macleod and even the murmurs of her poor little overworked husband Leo.  Poor fellow, his troll of a wife towered over him and she was a terror of a shrew.  The boards of her wooden floor creaked ever so slightly with every heavy step of the rotund Scotswoman. 

Her eyelid were heavy but refused to stay closed.  Movement, even rolling became a chore she couldn’t force herself to perform.  She was too hot to sleep.  Too cool.  Her stomach ached of hunger.  Didn’t she eat today?  Still sleep elluded her even as her thoughts became difficult to hold. 

Thunder tolled.  Wind roared.  Water piddled from the street through her open window.  Droplets echoing as they sporadically decorated her floor and ruined bedframe.  She moved to touch some the droplets.  Where were her other legs?  Why did she only have four?  Wait, she didn’t have eight legs, she had two arms and two legs, what a silly thought.

Thunder chimed.  Again and Again.  Her cotton exoskeleton clung tightly, she molted out of it.  A great pounding began.  Like some great weight was being hammered into the floor.  It felt like her hole apartment shook.  Each board of her floor twisting this way and that, each vibrating in turn.  Her stomach began to squeeze itself.  Mrs Macleod screamed about god but Jupiter heard her naught.  The boards of her nest lay still.

Thunder ticked.  Again and Again and Again.  Wind paraded.  Windows across the streets ripped free of their hinges to join the route.  A river wound itself down the street.  Something caused her web of floorboards to quiver.  She moved her eyes but not her head, why couldn’t she see, where were her other eyes?   There, it left the wall, a plump mouse thing skulking across her floor.  No, not a mouse, mice were big?  Nae, twas but a mouse and she remembered now mice were little things.  Scampering, food stealing, ankle biting things.   She did not move.  It was too far.  Its nose sniffed the air.  It approached the window and drank of the puddle. 

Thunder tocked.  She did not move.  It wiggled under a shattered plate and played in one of her moltings.  Soon.  She rolled and placed the foot of one of her lower legs to the boards.  It played.  Her forleg with its long grasping fingers touched the wet stone of the wall.  It frolicked yet.  She skittered across the floor.  It tried to flee but was tangled.  She grasped it in her forlegs, shredding the molting and pulling it free.  It wiggled and writhed.  It was too small to need her venom.  She opened her mouth.  It shook against her fangs and tried too claw at her tongue.  But her mouth was too small, it had no room to hurt her and only one way to go.  She swallowed.

Thunder rang.  Ada snapped back to consciousness as her throat swelled.  Memories of her dreary waking sleep became clear in an instant.  She screamed… or tried to.  Her throat was blocked by a squirming mouse.  She ran to the sink and tried to heave.  It was lodged too tightly. Her esophagus ignored her desire to expel the thing and squeezed pushing it down another inch.  She could feel it wiggling.  She punched herself in the gut.  The maw in her center wouldn’t be denied.  It slid lower and lower, inch by inch.  It was still alive when it it her stomach.  She tried to heave.  IT BURNED.  She could feel it melt as the acids in her stomach touched it.  It didn’t have time to drown.  Its fur and flesh dissolved and skeleton lingered only moments before…  She tried to heave.  Her cast iron stomach merrily ignored her.    

“That looked intense.  You going to be okay?”  A yellow spider asked hovering near her head by way of a dangling web.  Ada’s eyes rolled back into her head and she fell unconscious to the floor. 

Faintly she heard “Guess not.”

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Robin at Parliament

A hunters moon hung over London, barely visible behind brewing stormclouds.  Not that the threat of a little rain or thunder stopped Robin from venturing out into the night.  This morning it had taken Robin and Talos what felt like hours to cross London and arrive at the Diogenes club.  But by wing it took him only minutes to fly from his friend’s estate all the way to Whitechapel and only a handful of gliding laps around the infamous rookery to spot who he was looking for.      

            Archimedes was an insufferable sort of owl.  Fussy, overly neat, even a touch grouchy.  But he was also educated, logical, and had proven an able mediator when disagreements struck the community.  He’d led the British Parliament of Owls since the organizations foundation.  He wasn’t perched alone.  A larger and younger owl preened next to him.  Errol, an ambassador plenipotentiary from the Parliament in Wales, more importantly a representative for the minority holdout owls still loyal to the Tuatha de Danann. 

            “Look out below!”  Robin called to the two stately birds as he swooped down to join them on the tenement roof, “I’m flying under the influence.” 

            “Unseemly,” Archimedes huffed, puffing out his feathers.  Errol just gave a hoot of amusement. 

            “Sorry it took so long.  It’s been a heck of a day.  Talo finally awakened so we can talk now.  Kind of a big thing.  Been dealing with the fallout from that all day.”

            “Well boy, out with it.  What pantheon does he belong to?”  Archimedes insisted.

            Even the mellow Errol gave a nod of agreement.  “The answer to that question does settle quite a few things.  Another god of owls could bring many of our current disagreements to a close.  Or re-ignite them.”

“Oh, yeah,” Robin said.  Even with his limited involvement in the various Parliaments, things had been growing tense across the British owl population for years.  These days most owls looked to Minerva of the Romans, but some still harbored a preference for Blodeuwedd of the Tuath, and a recent rash of immigrants had brought Lakshmi of the Deva to their attention.  They’d known Talo Cornelius was an infant godling of owls for years, and it had caused quite a stir in the community.  While perhaps the divinities had known which pantheon he belonged to, it had been a mystery to the various parliaments of the Empire and theological debates had raged… and on several occasions nearly rioted.

“Roman.”  Robin said, bending over to peck at a spider crawling by.  “He’s a son of Janus.” 

Errol gave a cursing downward peck of his beak and turned his head around to look at Archimedes.  The brown owl hooted thoughtfully.  Even though Archimedes favored the roman gods, the deities important to owls weren’t always the same ones that were important to humans.  Minerva naturally took a front seat, along with her father Jupiter.  “Doorways.”  Archimedes said at last in a lecturing tone.  “Janus is the god of doorways, but also of choices, the path taken or not taken.  Though I’m not sure what this will mean for Robin’s partner.  Nonetheless, a young and rising owl god in our city.  A roman owl god.  I imagine that’ll settle all this tomfoolery that we’ve been dealing with.  I’ll call for a quorum at once.”

“There isn’t much point.”  Errol said slyly, “You’ll find yourself a few votes shy of a supermajority.”

“What?  Nonsense, I’ve been building to this vote for years, I’ve talked to nearly every owl on the British Isles!  I’m well over a Quorum.”

“Funny isn’t it, how people overlook the little things.  See I was talking to Wan Shi Tong, and he managed to get an entire few flights, easily enough for a pair of parliaments, of Mandarin owls out here.  Not to mention those Deva fellows were positively frothing at the thought of a Roman Mandate.  I can’t break your majority, but I can block any unilateral action.”

The two owls turned to polite argument, but overall Robin was quite pleased.  Infighting in parliament would give Talos a lot more wiggle room in dealing with the community of owls, and more time to find his feet and deal with his new responsibilities as a scion.

Something crawled over one of his talons.  Robin looked down and pecked another spider.  Looking over the roof he spied a recent acquaintance making her way through the streets.  Ah, that explained things.

Archimedes must have seen him eat the little eight legged beast.  “Yes, blasted little things seem to be everywhere today.  I’ve eaten my fill on them but they’re crawling all over the district.  Somethings got them in a frenzy.”

“Probably Ada.”  Robin said gesturing to the distant figure with his wing.  “If you get close enough to her you can smell it.  She’s a spider god.  They’ll probably turn Whitechapel into a fortress.  Not a problem for us, but I don’t think you’ll see any roaches here in a few months.”                 

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Talo's Prologue
In the Life of a _______

Today started off like any other Thursday. A slow and calm morning. The cool, spring, morning air breezed throughout Stoneshear Hall. It was around 8am, the servants of the estate were going about their duties. Moping, cleaning, dusting, preparing breakfast for the family. 

BOOM!

An explosion shakes the foundations of the estate. The servants gather their footing and proceed about their duties, seemingly unaffected. Nothing they aren't used to. This time it came from the west wing. Where Talo's alchemy lab is settled. 

Peering through the keyhole, one can see a soot covered man in a now ashy grey lab coat and bird frantically shaking it's feathers in an effort to clean itself. 

cough cough "Sorry Robin. Here, hold still, I'll get you cleaned up." the man spoke to the bird, picking it up and taking it to a nearby water basin. Talo placed his owl in the deep bowl and watched his companion bathe itself. Behind him, what was once a sturdy wooden table, now is a collapsed ruin of said table. The middle of it completely gone as splinters of wood adorn the cobblestone floor and no longer elegant dressing of a noble man. Shards of glass and puddles of liquid seem to flood the floor and walls more than anything. 

A knock is heard at the door. "Come." commands the lord. In walks a maid, carrying a broom and a pail. "Ah, Stephanie. I apologize for the mess. Seems I mixed the wrong ingredients together." The young maid rolls her eyes a bit, unshaken by the frequency of her involvement in the clean up duties of Talo's expierements. "I am sorry to hear, my lord. Your father requests your presence in the main dining hall." she says.

"Does he now? What time is it?"

"It's breakfast time, my lord" said the maid. 

"Already?!" Talo said in a half shocking manner. 

"Lost track of time again, my lord?" asked Stephanie. "How long have you been up for?"

"I'm unaware. The cleanup won't be necessary this time Stephanie. I need to examine what went wrong and how. Is there a—"

"Right outside, my lord. Your morning attire." interrupted Stephanie, anticipating what Talo would say.

"You're a doll." Talo said, half sprinting out the door. Robin flying over to perch on his left shoulder as he strutted away. 

 

15 minutes later, Talo arrives at the dining hall to find his entire family in the middle of breakfast. "I apologize for my tardiness." said Talo as he took his seat at the opposite end of the table, opposite his father. Who was staring at him as he sat. "And for the explosion." added Talo as he started to eat the now cold meal. His father, shakes his head. His forest green eyes returning to his meal. Robin jumped up to a small perch that was set aside for her at the family table, Violet preparing her food for her, petting the snowy owl and playing with her before the both returned to their meals. 

A stoic man, Maxwell Cornelius is a firm believer in God and faith in the Anglican Church. He condemns his son for his practice of "that vile bottled witchcraft" at home, but sings his praises in aristocrat proceedings. Why wouldn't he? Talo is his heir and rightful inheritor of the Cornelius estate. 

"If you spent as much time participating in the court and with the other nobles as you do in that hellish laboratory of yours, I may already be a grandfather." Maxwell says with a harumph. "Yes father, you've said that before. And I remind you again that my "hellbound" experiments might be the key to helping you get better." Talo said in a stern retort. "Bah. Enough of your magical nonsense. Today is an important day, my boy. Today is the day you meet your betrothed. It will usher in the union of two great houses in London. With you at its head, son, our legacy will live on forever." gloated Maxwell. 

"Must we father? I don't even know if I will enjoy this girl, let alone fall in love with her." said Talo in an exasperated tone. Robin hooted, ruffling her feathers at Talo's tone, seemingly in agreement with him. 

"Hush Talo, give this young woman a chance." replied Alexandria, in a stern motherly raised voice. Grasping her husbands hand, gazing into his eyes, she continued "I knew your father and I were meant to be first moment I laid eyes upon him." Despite her loving tone, Maxwell does not respond or return the loving gesture and merely continues eating. 

"I know mother, I've heard the story before. Very well, I will humor you both and this girl. I know how important our marriage is to our family." responded Talo. "I hope to be pleasantly surprised." he added, not wanting to sour his mother's mood. "May I be excused? I should go get dressed for my meeting with my future wife." he asked, pushing his seat back as he stood up.

"You may." answered his parents in unison. Talo exited the dining hall. Robin jumping off her perch and walking behind her master. 

As Talo walked away from the table, he was quickly followed by his sister Jessica, or Jess as Talo called her since they were kids. The 2 have been as close as siblings can be. Learning to ride horses together, taking up archery together. Jess has always followed in her older brother's footsteps. Even when society and social norms dictated that as a lady she should not have. There is no closer a friend to her than Talo, and by extension, Robin. 

"No fair, you're getting married before me" Jess said with a pout. "Mother has yet to set aside anyone for me." 

"Patience, sister dear. Your time will come. It may be that my future wife has a cute brother for you to snatch up." Talo said in a teasing manner. 

"Shut up!" Jess responded in a high pitched manner, blushing as she shoved her brothers shoulder. 

Talo laughed as they walked to his chambers, Robin perched on Jess' shoulders as she was petted and had her neck scratched. "I will keep you apprised to how things went, Jess. Be good. Robin, come." he commanded to his owl as he walked into his room, Robin hopping and walking behind him. "Have fun, Romeo." Jess said, seeing her brother blush as he looked back at her with an annoyed expression just before the door shut. She giggled and started walking towards her won chambers. 

Two hours later, at Buckingham Palace, Lords Maxwell and Talo Cornelius were introduced to a Lord and young Lady. Upon the doors opening, Talo and her eyes met.

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Ada prologue. Turn and turn about.

Ada Carson flailed and thrashed as she was carried out the backdoor of the Brittania Theatre.  It was doubtful she would have been much an imposition to Bob Crachit; he was built like an ox and was strong enough to move a prop carriage on his own.  The fact that Masters Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge were helping was pure overkill.  The trio flung her into the alley floor like a bag of trash.

“Are you lot daft!”  She screeched at the theatre’s masters whose crony now flanked them, “You can’t replace me with that sow Selina.  I’m the best actress you have!  She can’t remember the simplest lines and she reads them like a stuttering moron!”

“Oh, you’re a fine hand at memorizing lines and spitting them out on stage.  You even put real feeling into it.”  The elderly miser Ebenezer Scrooge sneered down at her as she lay sprawled on the alley floor.  He thrust his cane at her pointing to emphasize his speech.  “But that isn’t what theatres do you stupid twit.  A play, the stage, is merely a glorified advertisement.  Showing off a product for a hungry crowd.  Ticket sales are a mere pittance of the money I make pimping out my ‘actors’.  You my dear just don’t have a face to whet the appetite.  Selina now, she stutters her lines and is barely smart enough to dress herself in the morning, but her ass nets me fifteen pounds a night.  I’m not certain you made that in the last month.  Goodbye Miss Carson, go find a street corner to hawk what few wares you have.” 

She wanted to snarl, to scream, to hurl every vile word she knew, to stab him with the knife she kept hidden beneath her skirts.  But none of those would let her keep working in the theatre, and acting was her life.  So she changed tactics.  She crawled forward like a wretch before some ancient king and donned a mask of desperation.  She grasped the edges of his long coat and kissed his boots “Please, mercy Masters!  Don’t cast me out.  I’ll mop the floors, do the books, sew the costumes, take tickets, anything!  The theatre is my life Master Scrooge.”  She made tears stream down her cheeks and turned her voice to a warbling wail.    

Bob Crachit was at his heart a kind soul and he looked away from her display.  His worn hands twisting his old hat near to breaking, but he kept his silence.  Jacob Marley wasn’t so merciful.  He had a heart colder than a dead man and the only thing he gave her was a boot to the head.  Planting her face firmly in the cold cobblestone street. 

“Begone.”  Scrooge said with an air of finality.  Lots of finality.  The kind of finality that could be spread to those who doubted the finality of it.  With a twirl of his long coat, which he probably thought looked dramatic but Ada mentally critiqued as pointless theatrics, the trio departed into the theatre, slamming the door in her face and leaving her to pick herself up and exit the alley with what little dignity she could muster.


London’s east side was a strange place.  The boil on the arse of the world’s greatest city.  The cancer gnawing at the empire…home.  Still, walk down the right back alley and you could find anything here.  Strange and exotic goods from the very corners of the empire.  People from the distant Ming courts, hindu and muslim savages, American barabarians from their ferocious western frontier, occultists and archaeologists fresh from the tombs of ancient Egypt, wild eyed men hawking the latest gadgets and doo hickeys, explorers on respite from the unknown Moorish lands of the African interior.  Here, the highest lords of England interacted with the lowest of the low and the strangest of the strange.  Anything, anyone, could be found with enough searching.  But for all the bizarre and wondrous things, the most common ware was the ancient vocation of flesh.  Every corner from the Thames to the river Lea boasted a girl or two in their scarlet uniforms.  Tonight, if one could find the right alley, it was even possible to find an unknowing daughter of ancient Jove peddling that most primeval trade.

“Show you a good time?” She asked a man striding down the street.  Tall with a clean shaven beard.  He had the hard, judging eyes of a high born who knew how to be ruthless when he had to be.  A soldier maybe?  “Show you a good time?” She asked again as he kept walking, a quiet whore would never get any takers.  Not in Whitechapel.  The competition was just too fierce.  The man looked her up and down and their seemed to be some flair of recognition in his eyes… then he looked away and kept walking.  “1/2 price!  A pair of shillings!”  She called after him, “I’ll bang your mash better than any of those Irish sluts up in Shepard’s Bush for ½ the price.  1/3 the price!”  He kept walking.  “Fucking queer!  I bite my thumb at you!”  She taunted hoping he would double back to prove his manhood.  No such luck.

She gave a sigh, some evening this was turning out to be.  Fired again.  Not that Scrooge or Marley really meant it.  She just had to earn her keep is all.  If she could get a few pounds together quick enough they’d forget about her…underwhelming… after curtain profits.  They’d re-hire her so fast it would be like she never left.  

She jerked back as a hand grabbed her, pulling her roughly into a cramped alley and slammed her against a wall.  She fumbled for her knife and sucked in air for a scream.  Only to stifle it when she recognized the rat faced man who grappled her.  “Bloody hell Inspector, I thought you was the Ripper come for me.”  She played up the accent of an uneducated East Ender and sagged against the wall as the dark eyed member of the Yard loosed his grip on her. 

“So what was your scheme for that poor fellow?  Going to lure him back here and use that little pecker of yours.”  He scowled at her pointing at her knife.

“Easy,” she said holding up her hands in a non-threatening manner.  “I was doing honest work I was.  Nothin wrong with an honest bit of work.”

“Honest work?  Is that what you call what happened to the Wiggins boy?  Or that American Pharmacist MacGowan?”

She gave him a nasty grin.  “I don’t know nothin about a Wiggins boy, and that MacGowan fellow, I didn’t do nothin he didn’t pay for, but I did hear this nasty rumor that he was tellin young girls that ridding his… uh, pardoning me officer, that his little pork sword would give them abortions.  Got what he had comin if you ask me.”  That orphan boy Wiggins had made the last mistake of his life when he broke into her cramped little flat.  MacGowan well… that had been a professional disagreement she’d resolved for Mister Scrooge.  Honestly if some bint was stupid enough to believe his story then she deserved Doc Mac’s special abortion package.          

“Friendly warning Carson, the Yard is watching you.  You should get home, and enjoy the little time you have left until I throw you in a cell.  I don’t know how, or when, but I’ll find something,” He leaned in, his rank breath was hot on her face and had just a hint of cheap bear, “and then it’s the cells for you.”

“I expect you’ll do what you always do Inspector,” she dropped her lowborn accent and switched to match his own slightly rural one. She moved her face so close to his that their noses nearly touched. “Call Sherlock Holmes” she whispered. 

He jerked back like he’d been punched by a swarthy moor.  She laughed, a wild victorious laugh.  “You’ve got nothing you third rate bobby.  Nothing.  Now-” Pain exploded across her cheek, knocking her spinning to the ground.  She lay on the dank cheaply paved stones, one hand grasping her cheek, looking up in surprise.  Lestrade stood there, his hand slowly dropping to his side from the overwhelming slap he unleashed.  His mustache quivered and his shoulders shook in rage.

“How dare you.” He spat, the glob barely missing her. 

“The, bloody, hell, Inspector,” She stretched each word out, slowly rising to her feet.  “You don’t get to just beat on me.  There are rules.”

“Rules?  What do you care about rules?  You’re a murderer.  A thief.  A whore.  But this, mocking Sherlock Holmes, not a month dead?  How dare you.  How DARE you.”

“What’s the matter?  It’s not like he’s got a grave.  You aren’t even enough of a detective to find his body.”

He raised a hand again and she turned her unblemished cheek toward him. “Please Sir, I want some more.”  For a moment he held his hand raised and she thought he really was going to let fly.  She forced herself not to close her eyes.  His hand lowered.

“Had an orphan say that to me before I put the greedy little prick over my knee and taught him some manners,” She taunted before the raging officer.  “Guess I’m made of sterner stuff than you.  Now get out of my alley and off my corner, I’ve got work to do tonight.”

For a moment he simply shook with a quiet hate.  Then a most unusual expression came over his face, almost smug, like he thought he’d won something.  She didn’t like it.

“Work?” He asked.

“Yeah, work.  Now bugger off.” 

Slowly he reached into his belt and pulled out a shilling.  For a second she was confused.  Then she snorted.  “Ha you think I’d let you have me for money?  It’ll be a cold day in-” three shillings, “hell before that happens,” five shillings, “I wouldn’t,” seven shillings, “if you offered,” nine shillings, “to let me bathe in gold,” a pound, “So bugger off.”  A pound with shillings on top. 

He rolled the money in his hand.  Shuffling the shillings about his palm with a thumb.  The coins gently scraping against each other as the slid about.  She bit her lip.  He had more money in his palm than she’d made in three days. 

“I guess you are made of sterner stuff.”  He said, his hand, his shilling covered hand, moved back toward his wallet. 

“Wait!” She snapped, her pride surrendering to practical concerns.  Lestrade didn’t even grin but his eyes said he knew he’d won this round. 

“Gregson’ll have a laugh when I tell him it’s snowing in hell.  3 shillings,” He said, “I hear that’s the going rate for an English sow.”

“You’ll give me that pound and a half in your hand.”  She demanded.  He rolled his shoulders and turned to walk away.

“1 pound!” she called, seething inside at this humiliation.

“5 shillings.”  He said.

“11.” She countered. 

He hemmed and hawed carefully examine his wallet.

“9 shillings,” she said, “I won’t go lower, try that walk away routine again if you don’t believe me.”

  He meticulously counted out the nine shillings then dropped them onto the ground.  She glared at him.

“Arse.”  She said, bending over to pick them up.  She didn’t get the chance.

“My money!”  She screeched at him as he shoved her against the wall.  Using the building to hold her up he put her legs over his arms, hoisting her completely off the ground.  Her skirts pressed up around her middle leaving her bare legs to dangle behind him in the cold London air.

  There was nothing gentle about their coupling.  They didn’t even maintain the cordial disinterest most johns and prostitutes adopted.  He bashed her slender back against the stone wall again and again and again. The tiny alley echoed with the SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!  Of flesh hitting flesh and her ass slapping against the stone.  They screamed vile and hateful things at each other.

“Whore, Tart, Criminal, Wretch! Whitechapel Sow!”  Lestrade screamed into her ear.

“Knave, rascal, eater of broken meats, whoreson!” She screeched back, only slightly altering bits of King Lear, “you one-trunk inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a … beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch!”

But while Lestrade was busy, Ada was hectically scheming.  For all the humiliation this was going to cause her, Lestrade would never let her live this down; it was also a golden opportunity.  Slowly she finagled a hand under his shirt and pulled forth his pocket watch.  Examining it over his shoulder.  A fantastic piece, likely an heirloom.  But old, probably a little imprecise.  She wagered he had to wind it every morning and reset it to keep it on time.  She’d have smiled if she wasn’t busy screaming obscenities about Lestrade’s ancestors’ habit of ill relations with Irish sheep.  Gently she wound the thing forward fifteen minutes.  That would be plenty of time.                  

            After he finished he didn’t set her down gently or give her time to find her feet.  He just dropped her and scrambled to get his pants back on.  She was almost impressed.  She’d seen a lot of men race to put on their pants and Lestrade put most of them to shame.  Ada was made of sterner stuff.  She scrambled for the shillings before worrying about her dignity. 

            He started to leave now that his rage was giving way to a healthy dose of what she liked to call the ‘oh lord I can’t believe I just had sex with a prostitute’ blues. 

            “Lestrade,” She called, deliberately making her voice brusque and all business.  “Do you have the time?”

            He pulled out the watch she’d stuffed back in his pocket and mumbled a gruff “10:30” before beating a hasty retreat.  Ada made her own exit as well.  But not toward home.  Lestrade gave her the opportunity for a very special appointment. 

            She all but sprinted down the Whitechapel streets.  She took a shortcut through the Rabbit Hole, ran past a cockney pub, finally scampering up the side stairs on a stain of a tenement.  She jimmied open a window she knew didn’t lock.  Covered a hallway and picked a door lock in ten short minutes. 

Stealthily crept into the flat. 

“Hello Selina.”  Ada said, smiling wickedly.  Scrooge was right, the girl was lovely.  Very symmetrical features with long curly hair and full lips.  Only her Jewess nose kept her from making her way to a far better stage than Scrooge could offer.

“Ada?  What are you doing in my flat?  Is something…”  She may have been stupid, but it didn’t take a genius to glean that someone breaking into your apartment and holding a knife wasn’t there to give you a cake.

“Hey! Help, help, help!” Selina called scrambling back over her furniture.  Ada chased her, knife gleaming in her hand. 

“How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!” Ada cried stabbing the role stealing bint in the abdomen.  The woman’s eyes were wide, blood spilling from the wound and running slick over Ada’s fingers.

“Oh!  I’ve been killed.”  Selina mumbled in shock, falling over as her legs gave out.

“No!  The line’s ‘Oh, Now I am slain!  God damn it Polonius!”  Ada screamed.  Her satisfaction fleeing as the spirit of vengeance grasped her again.  “You!  Useless!  Twit!”  Ada stabbed again.  And again.  And rather a few more agains before fleeing into the night.


            Lestrade and Gregson stood over the victim.  Several uniformed officers were canvasing the scene, knocking on doors and trying to find a witness.  Pointless of course.  No one ever heard anything in Whitechapel.  They saw even less.  Another man knelt over the body.  Professionally dressed.  Sharp.  A military man.  But also a doctor.

            “I appreciate you coming out Dr. Watson, the Yard wouldn’t send a doctor for hours yet.” Lestrade mumbled. 

            “Do you have a time of death?” Gregson pointedly asked.

            “I need a few minutes.”  The doctor said with the air of a man stoically enduring his grief and making every effort to find something, anything, else to do but sit at home.

            “Her name’s Selina.”  Lestrade said, “She’s a who-.  She was an actress at the Brittania Theatre.  Not a very good one mind.”

             “The Brittania?  Isn’t that Scrooge’s place where the Carson girl works?”  Gregson asked, mentally flipping through his active case files.

            “It is.”

            “Think Scrooge had her get rid of this one for him?”  Gregson asked.

            Lestrade gave a nod.  “Worth asking the old man about at least.” 

            “Based on the blood loss and stiffness of the body,” The doctor said without aplomb, “she died somewhere between ten and ten thirty.”  

            Lestrade stiffened.  “10:30?”  he asked with a cringe.  The doctor nodded, and Gregson gave him a look.

            “It wasn’t Carson.  She has an alibi.”        

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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