We had settled into the online gaming process nicely by this point. While not as enjoyable as getting together in meat space, it was good to gather to have a chat and roll dice. The group had been pushing towards the end of the England chapter nicely and I didn’t want to have them rush too quickly but I did want to have a sense of urgency sneak in. I found a nice way of doing it in this session.
It was late in the evening when the train pulled into London. A few minutes later, four figures left the train station and, seeing that no cabs sat outside on the street, started to walk towards Bolan’s flat.
The night was dark and foggy, the famous London fog was pressing close to them. Their footsteps echoed eerily as they trudged along the deserted streets. As they walked each of them started to notice a strange smell, like burnt hair, filling their nostrils and making them gag a little. What little light from the gas lamps that lined the street was weak and diffused by the fog.
As they walked, the smell began to grow stronger and stronger causing McTavish to wonder if there was a fire nearby, the fog closed in around them more and more before Singh and Constanza started to cough and splutter. Turning to look at them, Bolan and McTavish exchanged glances as Constanza suddenly started to thrash madly and flail his arms around his face, clawing at some unseen thing in front of him. His mouth was wide open yet he seemed to be struggling to breathe. Singh wasn’t faring much better. He seemed to be pulling at something around his mouth but it wasn’t visible. With a gasp, he managed to heave a breath and gurgle before reaching for his water canteen at his waist. Trying to drink seemed futile, the water splashed away from his face before it even reached it! It was as if something monstrous was trying to climb down his throat but wasn’t visible.
Bolan rushed to Constanza while McTavish tried to help Singh but neither man could see anything that could be causing their strange behaviour. Reaching out McTavish could feel something around Singh’s mouth but he was unable to get a good grip as he couldn’t see what he was trying to grasp.
Constanza was in the middle of a huge panic attack. He was waving crazily and Bolan was also struggling to grip onto anything he could pull away. Eyes wide with fear, Constanza was desperately punching at anything he could around himself while Bolan could see Constanza’s throat bulging as something pushed down into it.
Singh, realising the canteen wouldn’t help, dropped it and pulled his knife. The blade sliced through the air and seemed to meet some resistance at one point but all that happened was the blade moved slowly for a second before carrying on.
Glancing at McTavish Singh turned the knife towards himself. He didn’t want to die like this and he would end his own life quickly rather than this slow, painful death.
At that moment the sound of footsteps came from further down the street. Four lanterns, glowing with a strange green light, burst out of the mist and the bearers moved to form a ring around the group. As the light fell over each of them, the mist started to recede before it was almost burnt away. Singh and Constanza fell to their knees and gasped deep breaths as air refilled their lungs. Four women stood holding the lanterns above head height and a fifth figure glided out of the dark before stopping before them. It was a slender, incredibly beautiful woman who they recognised straight away, the owner of Empire Spices.
She looked at them with a hard stare before speaking.
“It’s you again. If I’d known I wouldn’t have rushed as quickly to help. You seem to have made a serious enemy of Gavigan or else he wouldn’t have sent one of his little pets to deal with you. He is currently hiding away in Misr house and will have released this to kill you from there.”
Thanking her for rescuing them, Bolan who hadn’t met her previously, asked how Gavigan knew where they were.
“You took something from him I believe, he is angry and he was tracking those objects. I thought I would find out what was so important to him. We should leave before whoever he sent to recover your bodies arrives, they are not ones we would want to deal with here. Follow me and stay within the light if you want to be safe, his little pets cannot survive in bright light. We can talk further back in my shop.”
Leading them back to Wardour Street, the woman opened Empire Spices and led them inside.
Introducing herself as Zahra Shafik, she explained that she and Gavigan had a rivalry for control of a religious group that Gavigan was corrupting to his own ends. Gavigan had come to control the group while she was the second in command. Each side had followers loyal to one or the other but neither side was ready to remove the other yet. Zahra told them that if they helped her remove Gavigan they would be safe and she would be able to help them.
She asked them why they had become such an important target for Gavigan to which McTavish showed her some of the artefacts they had stolen from Hensons and she examined them carefully.
“These symbols on the side, they are holy symbols. That is how he is able to locate you. These items are very important to him and he will not rest until he has them back. Your only chance now is to remove him from power and I will take over.”
Asked about the older looking versions and what they could be, Zarha just frowned.
“They are ancient relics. Nothing more.”
They agreed to help any way they could so Zahra told them there would be a gathering for a ceremony at Misr House tomorrow night. Singh, remembering how he had been rude and aggressive towards her the first time they met, started to feel a little ashamed and took her at her word for saving their lives.
“If you can deal with Gavigan then I will direct my followers to dispose of the ones who followed him. They are fat, loathsome men with no strength or courage. They will flee as soon as they see they cannot win. Gavigan only collects men who would rise in power while my followers are strong Egyptian people. We will cut them down and reclaim what should be ours.”
She went on to explain that she believed the so-called Egyptian murders had all been carried out by followers of Gavigan to kill those loyal to her so he could weaken her power base. She had no proof that Gavigan was behind it but there was too much coincidence to think otherwise.
Giving them exact directions on how to reach Misr house, she told them the ceremony would start at 8 in the evening and she would need to get there before then to be part of it.
After finishing their planning, they left Empire Spices and found a hotel that would let them book in so late. With Zahra’s warning about the thing in the fog not liking bright lights, their room lights stayed on all night.
McTavish set off early into London. He rented three strong boxes in three different banks and split the items they had stolen between them while also saving some for a fourth group. This group he boxed up and shipped back to New York, care of Carlton Ramsey’s office in Harlem. After sending that off he headed for New Scotland Yard.
Constanza and Singh walked to a nearby library to try and find out more about Misr house and the current owner, Gavigan. After an hour of digging they managed to find references to Misr once being called ‘Long View’ and owned by an Egyptologist called Neville Lloyd-Price who had sold the house to Gavigan in 1915. Lloyd-Price changed the name to Misr, meaning Egypt in Arabic, shortly after buying it. The house is described as being built in the 16th Century and notably had a reference to a hidden area that was used to hide Catholic priests during the religious purges of Elizabeth I.
McTavish managed to speak to Inspector Barrington and explained their situation, carefully not implicating themselves in anything criminal. After mentions of Gavigan and how he had a connection to the string of murders around London, Barrington mulled it over for a few minutes. He explained that he wouldn’t be able to do anything officially but offered to support them and supply a few ‘off-duty’ police officers who had an interest in the case. Barrington said he would meet the group that night at Walton-on-the-Naze before they raided Misr house.
Singh was after some dynamite and had found an address of an engineering yard on the way to Essex. Leaving early for their rendezvous with Barrington, they stopped there on the way where McTavish managed to buy a small crate of dynamite off the books.