I’ve uncovered the secret.
Is it possible?
It must be done. I must know the truth.
I leave my earthly possessions to Maybell. Av would not know what to do with it all.
I’ve never had any difficulties with the gentlemen in blue. They’re about as corrupt as they come, and uncovering modern gossip has been my forte since I was a babe. A red stocking here, a little blackmail there, “Oh dear, Mr. Constable, what have we here?” They’re never too difficult to dissuade from investigating my daily activities.
The Special Constables, however…
There was a time when I didn’t care for politics. If Mr. Pages and the Ministry of Public Decency claimed a topic was too vile for the public to muse over, I could only benefit. With so much restriction, social climbing becomes natural, like breathing air, so long as the words you’re exhaling are teetering on the edge of scandalous. I don’t miss those simplistic days. Perhaps if I were still as naive as I was then, I may long to return to the safety of Society’s posh social rings, but I have come to realize there is heresy afoot, and it’s not among the ranks of the Flit. (more…)
It’s true, my relationship with Av was purely professional. I had certain talents in the social arena, and Av had certain talents in…other, less tasteful arenas. I won’t get into the details on how we met, but let’s just say it seemed only natural that we would work together.
We were, after all, two sides of the same coin.
There was a time when I held my composure around him. Whether out of pride, out of fear, or something in-between, we were both distinctly uncomfortable in our meetings. We needed each other, but we didn’t want each other. What would they say if a gentleman of my stature were to be found gallivanting with an individual of Av’s disposition? It was one matter to hire a thief, it was another to befriend one.
I would have to say it was the 77 First City coins that tipped the scales to our scandalous friendship. While trapezing the bars of Veilgarden, I overheard whisper that a set of coins could be found within the Museum of Mistakes. Further research (in and out of beds of one nature and another) revealed this to be quite true, and that the path into the museum would prove to be quite perilous. (more…)
But where was I to begin? The section on the Third City? the Fourth? Oriental Traditions? Classical Myths? Lost Gods? Confounded Devils? The sketch of the flint idol I held in my hand wasn’t the best work of art I had produced, but the very thought of staring much longer at that scowl-less scowling face was abhorrent. I couldn’t very well bring the actual item with me. I did what I could, made the notes I could stand, and raced to the University in attempt to uncover the truth behind this…thing.
Several hours of fruitless hunting left me exasperated. But finally, on a topmost shelf, I stumbled across a collection of traveler’s journals. Some spoke of the unterzee, others of the exile’s rose. All very interesting, but what struck me was a leather-bound collection of anecdotes by a certain Dr. Balthus.
Dr. Balthus had in his notes a sketch of an idol quite like mine, though it was described as being much, much larger and carved from a crag of basalt. Natives of the Elder Continent called it the “Giver-of-Skins.” He continued with several gruesome details that I will not repeat on paper (lord please lift them from my mind) but was particularly adamant in reporting that any individual foolish enough to make sacrifice to the totem would be ritualistically executed by the natives.
What does this mean for me? And how did an idol such as The Giver make it all the way to Fallen London? The natives feared candles for they believed the flames attracted The Giver. Perhaps I should take to sleeping in darkness- though, admittedly, I may fear worse what those shadows will bring.
When I lie awake at night, my thoughts wander to the man found washed up on the Stolen River. I remember the glint in his eyes: a desperate plea. The exact nature of his plea eludes me still, the only clue to his intentions being this silent, scowling statue he’d pressed upon my palm. He passed on without a word.
Perhaps, instead of waiting on the cold, dank banks for the stranger to recover from that nasty stab-wound, I should have pulled him to somewhere safer. Then, maybe I could have gotten a scrap of information on this strange idol. All events considered, the constables did arrive on the scene at a suspiciously convenient hour, just as the man began to take his first breaths.
The idol now sits silently on my dresser. It’s a fiendish looking statue, and I hope that it may suffice to ward off the dangers of the night. Thieves, assassins, devilesses whom I shall not name. If only it could scare away the nightmares (oh lord, the nightmares) that occur to me every fitful hour.
Three long nights now I have drempt of a lime-stone cave. It is dimly lit, the ground lined with flickering foxfire candles. For a time, I watch a drip of wax roll sluggishly down one candle, pool on the cool stones, and solidify. It grows darker. I look up, and the little flames, one by one, are turning to wisps of smoke. I’m consumed by darkness and then-
a metallic sheering sound.
I startle awake every time, drenched in my own sweat. Never before has this dream occurred to me, and yet the moment this grim idol came into my possession, the same horrors repeat every night. I fear to throw it back into the Stolen River. What if the wretched statue were bestowed upon some other unfortunate soul? What if it returned to me?
I’ve determined to research the blasted thing. An idol this old, this striking, and this affecting must have a history of some kind. I have access to the upstairs University Library. I will begin my search there.