The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode X: Et l'océan de l'oubli brisant nos cœurs et nos têtes (Part 4)

The charter floats off the island of Torcello’s northwest coast. Jimmy gives the captain orders to “float casually.” Henry snaps photographs from the stern. He can make out a large, boxy villa set back from the shore in a grove of trees. Men armed with shotguns and teams of dogs patrol the beach.

They swing around the island and make a landing to the east of the villa. They scout up ahead, trying to find a covered route to the main house. Through the trees, Henry can just make out an Egyptian obelisk behind it.

Francis finds out that Günter lives on the island, but he does come into Venice to buy supplies—Gavigan orders a lot of booze from Harry Cipriani’s. He finds out that large orders for alcohol and food have been placed for delivery in the next day or two. It seems that a party is imminent.

Francis spends the rest of the morning going from apothecary to apothecary getting large doses of arsenic, strychnine, and cyanide.

In the afternoon Günter finally arrives. Francis, waiting at a gondolieri café, catches sight of him. He trails the Austrian as he drops in on several stores, arranging deliveries and picking up supplies. At one point, Francis overhears Günter mentioning that he will be making several runs out to the mainland that night to bring people to the island.



Back on Torcello, Henry and Jimmy continue to scout. They can only get so close to the villa—at a certain point, there’s nothing but open ground (surprise!) and Jimmy is pretty sure that he can see people in the second story watching the tree line at all times. They notice an electrical generator attached to the house, providing its power. Henry catches a better look at the obelisk—it is on a slight hill, and surrounded by a broad open plain. Based on the pattern of growth of the grass around the obelisk, Henry guesses that larger groups of people gather there fairly regularly.

Then he catches sight of the bones—piles of bones at the base of the obelisk. They look vaguely human.

“Jimmy, look at the bones!” he says.

They watch for a while and get a rough count of the number of guards at the villa—somewhere between 8 and 12, all armed with rifles or shotguns—not double-barreled hunting guns, but good old M1912 “Trench Cleaner” pump actions. Many have sidearms as well.



The entire group reconvenes at the penzione. “Here’s my plan,” says Francis. "I hope someone has a better one.

“A frontal assault seems impossible. But there’s a party tomorrow. I’ve acquired a large amount of poison.”

Jimmy stares at Francis, mouth agape.

“The only way we can get to Gaffigan is by poisoning the wine,” continues Francis.

“I’m not poisoning an entire party,” says Jimmy.

“That’s all right, provided you have a better idea. Gaffigan attacked us personally, and Hypatia—who is not innocent by any means—did not deserve this.”

Everyone is lost in their own thoughts for a while, digesting what Francis had said. Jimmy clutches his rabbit’s foot, asking it—as he usually does in times of stress—for any insight. The rabbit’s foot, however, tells him what it always tells him: “Jimmy, you’re the rest of the rabbit.”

Henry wonders if he should tell the rest of the group that while they were in the hotel in Ireland, one night he heard Dr. Mwimbe sobbing her eyes out in her room. He hesitates—he doesn’t know them or the doctor very well.

Francis steps out onto the balcony and smokes a cigarette. He swigs down the last of the Jameson he brought with him from Ireland. He looks down at his lighter, lost in his memories.

They begin to discuss the plans. Jimmy is adamantly against poisoning everybody, but seems to think it might be possible to target Gavigan specifically. Henry is willing to entertain all ideas. Suddenly, he recalls a detail about the obelisk that gives him pause—Egyptian obelisks didn’t normally have iron rings driven into them.

“I think we’re better off not stepping foot on the island at all,” he says.

They begin to put together a plan. Gavigan doesn’t know Henry at all, so he could possibly be inserted into the party staff—he speaks French, so sommelier suggests itself. However, he doesn’t know much about wine.

Jimmy tries to teach Henry a few basics, but it’s been a long time since he dined that well. Francis thinks for a while, and then decides to go pick up the actual sommelier.

Gavigan has a regular wine butler for his villa, but for a party this big he hires a sommelier. Francis goes looking for him.

Jimmy heads down to the carabinieri. With his usual luck, he finds the right guy right away—the detective who handles the cold cases and unsolvable murders. Specifically, the ones where a dead Arab girl occasionally washes up on shore. Jimmy realizes that this is where all the girls taken from Le Pyramide Bleu have been taken, and that Plan C (dropping a bomb on the villa) will probably kill a bunch of innocents. (And poisoning the wine might do so as well, if the cultists get the girls drunk.)

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Episode X: Et l'océan de l'oubli brisant nos cœurs et nos têtes (Part 3)

They fly to Venice. Francis has managed to fill out (or forge) the paperwork to not only admit them to Italy, but authorize the rather large number of guns they are bringing into the country. (“Of course, Signor. A Browning Automatic Rifle is often required to hunt hippos.”) Fortunately, Fascist bureaucracies do enjoy paperwork.

After docking the plane, they take a quick vaporetto trip to St. Mark’s square and locate a modest penzione to lay low in. “You guys need to come up with a plan that doesn’t involve me bludgeoning my way through Venice to get to Gavigan,” advises Francis; he’s a two-fisted investigator, not a drawing-room detective.

Henry hits the streets—er, canals. He looks up another reporter he knows, Michelangelo Simonetti. Francis drops by on the Carabinieri, to see if they have heard of Gavigan. They tell him that he is a frequent visitor, and has a place “out in the lagoon”. Jimmy does what he does best—go out and meet random people, with an uncanny ability to find the right people to talk with.

Jimmy ends up falling in with some gondolieri who tell him that Gavigan has his own personal water taxi. None of them like his pilot—an Austrian named Günter, who is pretty stand-offish. They easily give him a description, however. They also say he holds large parties every couple of months, and Günter transports large groups of people out to the lagoon during that time.

Simonetti is the crime reporter for the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Enrico, come va? You find any ghosts under the bed yet? What are you doing in Venezia?”

“Everything confirms my belief in reality so far. I’m looking into the death of Jackson Elias. Do you know anything about an Edouard Gavigan?”

“Ah, yes, I heard about the death of Signorina Elias. As for Signor Eduardo, he just got back a few days ago. He doesn’t come to the city that often. He has a private villa on the island of Torcello. Used to be a big deal fifteen hundred years ago, before the canals silted up and the Huns came. Anyway, he lands in a plane and heads straight out there, but I can take a look into things if it would help.”

They decide that they need to 1) scout out the island and 2) follow Günter around for a day. Francis drops by Jimmy’s gondolieri contacts to pick up on Günter’s trail, while Henry and Jimmy rent a boat for some sightseeing. Francis also hits on a plan to track down Gavigan’s alcohol suppliers, to see if he can find any patterns or other connections.

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Episode X: Et l'océan de l'oubli brisant nos cœurs et nos têtes (Part 2)

Very early in the morning, Francis sneaks out of the safe house and makes his way up to Place République. He breaks into the office of Mahoney and sits there waiting to meet him.

Mahoney, however, doesn’t arrive until 10 in the morning. “Francis? What are you doing here? Hrm, I don’t remember writing that note. But come into the office.”

Down at Club Hippolyte, Hypatia greets Jimmy and Henry. Livingston goggles for the moment—he is seeing a dead woman, one of the lost members of the Carlyle Expedition.

“I don’t know you,” says Hypatia to him. “Jimmy, right? Hah! Bet you get that a lot.”

“I brought you some flowers.”

“Isn’t that sweet. What can I do you for?”

“I’m looking into the case of Eloise Vane.”

“What makes you think that I have anything to do with that? Well, come sit down and have some coffee.” They sit down and Hypatia asks one of her staff to fetch their drinks.

“I’m tellin’ ye, I didn’t write that note,” says Mahoney as he sits down behind his desk. He starts to open the drawer where he keeps his whiskey bottle. Francis hears a faint clicking sound. He grabs Mahoney’s wrist before he can pull back the drawer.

“What’s wrong?” says Mahoney.

“I heard a click.”

Mahoney’s face drains of blood. “Francis, why don’t you look in the drawer and tell me what you see.”

Francis shines his penlight into the drawer. A dynamite bomb is strapped to the underside of it.

“Francis, me boy, I know that when we built these with a spring timer we always put in a backup chemical timer.” Francis checks and sees the ruptured glass vial that holds the chemicals used to start the reaction.

Livingston listens with one ear as Hypatia and Jimmy talk. He keeps watching the kitchen door—he hasn’t seen the waiter who took their order. Or anyone else from the staff, come to think of it. He excuses himself and heads for the kitchen.

“Find out where that coffee is,” says Hypatia.

The kitchen is deserted. Henry pokes around and soon finds the dynamite bombs—several of them—fastened under the kitchen counters. There are enough to bring down the entire building.


“Is there anyone you want me to talk to?” asks Francis quietly.

“Yeah, me daughter in Dublin,” whispers Mahoney. “Tell her—tell her I died a soldier.”

Francis starts to leave. “Wait,” says Mahoney. “Light me a cigar. And godspeed.”

After Francis leaves, Mahoney begins to sing softly.

Soldiers are we,
whose lives are pledged to Ireland…

Francis runs into the main office. “GET OUT! BOMB!” he shouts. The “reporters” grab their pistols and head for the front door.

Some have come
from a land beyond the wave…

Francis notices that the street has been blocked off by a road crew outside—a crew that takes out sawed-off shotguns as soon as he steps outside.

Sworn to be free,
no more our ancient sireland,
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.

Francis draws his heavy Colt revolver and starts firing. He shoots the biggest member of the “road crew.” The “reporters” start firing as well.

Too bad I never learned the damn thing in Gaelic, thinks Mahoney, puffing on his cigar. Too late now. He continues to sing.

Tonight we man the “bearna baoil”,
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal…

The big man fires off his shotgun, winging Francis. As he reloads, Francis runs up and drop kicks him. The big man goes down and smacks his head against the curb.

’Mid cannon’s roar and rifles’ peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song…

With a thunderous roar, the building explodes behind Francis, flattening him to the pavement.



Livingston examines the bombs. He notes that they have both a timer and a radio-controlled detonator; it’s highly sophisticated work. He checks how much time is left on the timer.

45 seconds.

Livingston bolts out of the kitchen. “RUN!”

“I think we should run,” says Jimmy.

“My girls!” says Hypatia. “They’re upstairs!”

“Damnit, damnit, damnit,” says Jimmy, following Hypatia up the stairs. She throws open a door into a room rigged as some kind of dormitory. Several young girls start at the sight of Jimmy bursting in the doorway. “GET OUT!” he screams. He leads the girls downstairs as fast as he can, shoving them out the door. The last girl slips out, slamming the door behind her. Jimmy pushes on it.

It’s locked in place.

He turns to Hypatia. “Aren’t you—can’t you—DO SOMETHING!”

“It doesn’t work like—”

And the entire building falls on top of them in a blinding flash of noise and light.



Livingston is knocked to the ground. He stands up, ears ringing, a huge cloud of dust and smoke enveloping him. Fires burn in the buildings around him.

Jimmy pushes off some rubble and weakly stands up. The doorway he was standing in managed to protect him from the worst of the damage. Some firefighters drag him away from the rubble, and he eventually is questioned by the police at the hospital.

No body matching Hypatia’s description is ever found in the rubble.

Livingston makes his way over to the gaggle of reporters covering the explosion. “Unbelievable,” says one. “Three explosions in one day.”

Three explosions?”

“Yeah, some newspaper office up in the Tenth and the Fondation Aubrey Penhew. They blew up too.”

“Do you know anything about it?”

“Well, some crazy English guy threatened Gavigan, the head of the Foundation, and since an Irish newspaper got destroyed, it was probably the perfidious British. Luckily Gavigan is fine—he’s traveling in Italy.”



That evening Jimmy staggers into his room at the Lutetia. Francis is standing by the window, covered in plaster and blood, staring out at the street. He uncocks the shotgun when he notices Jimmy coming in.

“How was your day?” asks Jimmy.

“Mahoney’s dead.”

“The Blue Pyramid got blown up too. While I was in it!”

“It’s got to be Gavigan. He’s a bomber. He probably left town, do you know anyone who could track him?”

“I met this reporter, he knows about the occult—”

“That does NOT mean we can trust him!”

“He knew Jax.”

“Fine, get him down here. We’re going to Italy. Tell your friend to meet us at Orly.”



Jimmy sneaks down to the ruins of the Fondation Aubrey Penhew. He manages to talk his way past some cops and climbs down into the crater. Searching near where Gavigan’s office used to be, he finds a charred piece of paper with groups of letters on it:


EEMK BGFK AIDA DAHK
IFAL KKFA ABFD EJFC
FBEJ MAIF FMJK AMFK
HAHJ DDAA GJHA JDDD
DAGE DAHA DIGL FGFC



Jimmy’s shoulders slump. It looks like a message encrypted with a one-time pad; it should be unbreakable without the key. He also remembers that Sprech, the man he met at Castle Plum, was a cryptographer.



Livingston meets Jimmy and Francis at Orly Airfield. Santi-Exupéry meets Henry at the entrance of the Pilot’s Club. “Are you looking for Madmoiselle Summers? She is a bit under the weather…”

A bottle slams against the wall. Joyce staggers into view, completely plastered. “I can’t believe he’s dead! Who will charter me now? I was making good money running guns and alcohol for Mahoney!”

Francis and Jimmy both look away and try to act nonchalant.

“I can help out,” says Henry. “I’m a pilot myself—”

“Nobody flies my plane!” says Joyce, and then passes out.

They carry her to the plane and Henry takes the controls as “co-pilot”. They manage to get off the ground, and then he keeps them on heading for Dublin, touching down in more-or-less one piece early the next morning. Henry barely gets a chance to meet the rest of the Motley Crew—Dr. Mwimbe, Charleston and Noor.

In Dublin, Francis drops in on Faith Mahoney.

“I haven’t spoken with me father for goin’ on four-five years now.”

“I was there at his last moments. He wanted you to know he died a soldier.”

“Shouldna been a soldier,” says Faith, shaking her head. “Pray take some tea with me.”



Before they leave Ireland, Joyce has pontoon skids mounted on her plane. And Francis loads up on guns.

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Episode X: Et l'océan de l'oubli brisant nos cœurs et nos têtes (Part 1)

With the police hard on his trail, Francis has been hiding out in the safe house he stashed Eloise, waiting for Mahoney to arrange travel papers to get out of Paris. Jimmy has been trying to track down Eloise, finding out that the last time anyone reliably saw her, she was going to the Club Hipplyte, as Hypatia has renamed Le Pyramide Bleu.

Down at the offices of The Nationalist, intrepid reporter—and one-time classmate of Jackson Elias—Henry Livingston is dropping by to visit Mickey Mahoney. Like Jax, Livingstone specializes in the debunking of the paranormal; he has been following up on her last story. He’s heard some rumors of the “Fraternité du Pharaon Noir”, an African cult that seems to be popular with some of the upper-class members of Paris society.

“Mr. Livingston, I presume! I suppose you get that a lot, eh? What can I do fer ye?”

“I’m here looking into some cults supposed to operate in Paris. I heard that the leader of one, Tewfik al-Sayed, was recently executed.”

“Ah, I wouldna’ know anything about that. Would ye mind closin’ the door?”

When Livingston turns back, Mahoney has a cocked pistol leveled at him. “Now, let’s talk a bit more frankly. Who the hell are ye, and who sent ye?”

“I’m here following up on Jackson Elias’s activities—”

“A friend of Jax? She was a dear lass. Let’s drink to her. If you’re looking into her murder, I can put you on the track of some others that are doin’ the same. As for Tewfik, I can tell you who did that—one of her friends, Charleston Chiu. It’s be better fer ye to speak to her cousin, Francis, but he’s in a spot of trouble with the gendarmerie.”

Mahoney advises Henry to talk to Francis’s friend—colleague—well, they have a complicated relationship—Jimmy Wright. Henry heads down to the Lutetia to find Jimmy.

When Livingston explains he’s looking into Jax’s murder, Jimmy laughs for a long time, and then gives him a copy of her journal. “Welcome aboard, partner. There’s a lot of occult things going on. Why, I had to deal with some werewolves a few days ago.”

Livingston is somewhat nonplussed by that. “You don’t have any evidence of that, do you?”

“Well, I was trying too hard to run for my life to remember to take photographs.”

While he is sitting and talking with Livingston, a waiter tells Jimmy there’s a phone call for him. “Monsieur Jimmy Wright?” says a woman’s voice.

“Yes.”

“Madame Hypatia wants to see you at the Club Hipplyte tomorrow, at 10AM.”

“Why?”

“You are looking into the disappearance of Madmoiselle Eloise Vane, oui? It will be explained tomorrow.”

That afternoon, Francis goes to the dead drop he uses (a bottle left under a park bench) from Mahoney: “Meet me at the office tomorrow at 10 AM.”

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Episode IX: Je serai sur toi dès que le rayon de lune brillera (Part 4)

The third night of the full moon

Eloise doesn’t escape to eat the neighborhood, fortunately. Francis spends the night smoking and watching over the pit.

In the morning, Francis lowers himself into the pit. Eloise, naked and covered with bruises, stares coldly at him. “Rapist!” she screams.

At this moment Jimmy breezes into the building with coffee and breakfast. “He didn’t rape you, ma’am. Coffee?”

“You left me alone in a pit! Where’s my mother? Where’s my father? Where’s Lawrence?” shouts Eloise.

“Eloise, we’re in Paris. You’re very sick. During the night, do you remember what happened?”

“No, you must have drugged me!”

Francis gives Eloise her journal. “That’s mine! How did you get that?”

“Eloise, you asked me to help you, and I will. What I’m going to say will be hard for you to understand. But you’re a werewolf.”

She slaps him.

“Do you remember the plane?” says Francis. “Do you remember the groundskeeper? Now, do you remember when we fled? I had a gun. He had a stick. Why did we run away?”

“Because…because….oh God…oh my God…I…I remember everything…”

She retreats into a corner and starts throwing up.



Francis tells Jimmy to go and fetch his copy of Lord Byron poems. Jimmy takes that opportunity to drop in on his sister Lucy and her husband Thomas, who live in Paris.

“Jimmy!” says Lucy.

“We don’t have any money,” says Thomas.

Lucy gives him a look.

“But come and have lunch,” sighs Thomas.



Jimmy takes his leave, handing over a check (“We’ll just wait to see if this clears,” says Thomas) and a warning to not go out that night. He heads over to Montmartre to go to Francis’ place. As he huffs up to the the sixth-floor walkup, he sees a tough guy standing outside the door of Francis’ apartment, smoking. A quick conversation with Francis neighbor in the next door building confirms that two guys arrived yesterday—one is hiding in the apartment. He runs over to the Left Bank and picks up an English-language copy of Byron’s poems at Shakespeare and Co.



Eventually Jimmy gets back to the safe house. “This is in English,” says Francis. “Didn’t you get to my place?”

Jimmy explains about what he found in Montmartre. “Do me a favor,” says Francis. “Go back to your hotel and get all your stuff. Then meet me back here—wait, strike that. I’ll meet you at Mahoney’s tomorrow.”

When Jimmy gets back to the Lutetia, the clerk hands him a note:

_Please have Mr. O’Donnell contact me.

Sincerely,

Edouard Gavigan_

When he gets up to his room, Jimmy discovers that it has been tossed, quite roughly. The typescript of Jackson’s diary is missing.



Francis spends the day reading Byron to an unresponsive Eloise. At sunset, he takes her by the hand and leads her towards the ladder that drops down into the pit.

Eloise finally comes to life, hitting and grabbing at Francis. Suddenly she steps back, holding his pistol in her hands.

“Now, I’m going to go out that door. Don’t move, Francis, I’m a desperate woman. I will shoot you.”

“I know you will. I think you might have to. Because you’ll hurt a lot more people than just me if I let you pass.”

“I don’t believe your stories! I was drugged and hallucinated.”

Francis leaps at Eloise. The pistol goes off, narrowly missing his head.

Francis grabs her and knocks the gun out of her hands. Eloise spins and claws him…wait, CLAWS?

Gathering himself, Francis leaps at Eloise, knocking her backwards. They both plunge two stories to the bottom of the pit. Francis scrambles up and dashes up the ladder, pulling it up behind him.

A huge wolf looks up at him from the pit, staring with disturbingly human eyes.



Jimmy is walking through the darkened streets of Paris alone, having finally been kicked out of Mahoney’s offices. Suddenly he is knocked off his feet. An enormous fist closes around his throat.

“Take me to her now, little man, or I will twist your head off,” say Gévaud.

Jimmy croaks compliance and takes them to his car. The enormous groundskeeper sticks his head out of the window, sniffing.

“I can smell her on you,” he says. “I will kill the big one first and eat him. You I will toss to my love.” He laughs horribly.

Jimmy drives slowly around Paris, trying to put off the werewolf. “The city stinks of asphalt and gasoline. Also a perfectly adequate Pinot Noir.”

“That’s amazing.”

“I used to be a wine taster. It’s the nose.”

“Really? How did that work—”

“Don’t try and distract me!”

Meekly Jimmy drives up to the safe house. Gévaud leaps out. Jimmy slams on the horn as loud as possible, trying to warn Francis.

Gévaud bursts through the door. “You!” he shouts at Francis.

“You…”

Gévaud throws himself at Francis.

Jimmy shudders in the car. Luckily Francis has those silver bullets he gave him. The ones just like these in his pocket…uh oh.

Jimmy runs towards the building. Francis glances around—he made sure to bar every door and window. “I only want to keep her safe!” he shouts.

“You want to keep her safe?” says Gévaud. “Then go keep her safe.” He picks up Francis and throws him into the pit.

Francis manages to slow his fall and land more or less on his feet. He crawls back to the wall of the pit. From the shadows comes a low, feral growling.

“Nice doggie?” he says.



Jimmy runs into the building. He doesn’t see anyone—not Francis, and not Gévaud.

He hears a bang from somewhere in the dark. “I just want to get my friend and we’ll leave and never bother you again…”

HOOOOWWWWWLLLLL…. is the only response.

Jimmy looks around nervously. Suddenly a huge dark shadow leaps from the dark. He dodges past it and fires his pistol at it. A bullet catches the wolf in the side and it yelps. Then it glares at Jimmy. Once again, words form in his head:

Run.

Down in the pit, Francis desperately pulls out a scarf from his pocket—one of Sir Arthur’s scarves that he picked up in Castle Plum. Eloise sniffs it and begins to whine softly.



Jimmy finally bolts for the door. The wolf snaps its jaws just inches behind him as he gets through the door and runs for the car.

In the pit, Francis sees a wolf stick its head over the side, two stories above him. Suddenly it leaps into the air and lands easily. It struts over to Francis and Eloise.

Eloise snarls. Her form shifts slightly until she looks like a hybrid between a wolf and a human. She stares at the Gévaud-wolf, and then says in a harsh growl:

“I can smell them on your breath!”

She leaps at the surprised Gévaud and throws him to the ground. Then she rips his throat out with her teeth.

She paces back to Francis. “You abandoned them to die,” she says to him in the same guttural voice.

“I saved your mother! I saved who I could! I came back, I came back for them, and for you!”

“Still you must be marked,” she says. A claw flashes out and Francis blacks out.



In the morning, he slowly comes awake. The ladder is there. Eloise is not.

He finds her clothes taken, and no sign of her. The body of Gévaud—returned to human form—he leaves in the pit.

Outside he finds Jimmy pulling up with coffee and a couple of baguettes.

“Jimmy, good to see you’re alive.”

“Did you kill Gévaud?”

“No, Eloise did. After remembering everything. I guess I made her the only the person she could end up being. Someone with just enough control over the wolf.”

Francis makes his way back to Montmartre. As he wearily climbs up the stairs in his building to the floor his apartment is on, a tough-looking character in a bad suit meets him. “Boss wants to talk to you. Kept me waiting two days, I think you should come if you know what’s good for you.”

Francis shakes his head. “Let’s go.”

They drive down to Belleville, stopping at a seedy restaurant. A man stands out front, urging his young daughter to sing for coins: “Come on, Edith, sing for the nice man.” Francis shoves past them and enters the building.

A jazz band plays loudly in one corner. In the back, he finds a small room that is closed off with a sliding wooden door. The thug motions him inside.

Gavigan stands up as Francis enters. “Ah, the private investigator, please sit down.” The thug closes the panel behind them and stands in the corner, arms crossed.

“I understand you took a little trip to Ireland recently,” says Gavigan suavely.

“I think I met a friend of yours. This look familiar to you?” He takes out the letter he found Eloise’s room and hands it to Gavigan.

He reads it carefully and then folds it up. “I see,” he says calmly, and stands up.

Then he kicks over the table and leaps on Francis, punching him. “Ye think ye can talk ta me like that, yah little prick?” he says—not in his usual French-accented English, but in the rough tones of a northern Irish accent.

“The only reason she’s alive is because of me,” says Francis.

“The only reason she’s alive is because of me, buddy boy. And don’t ye forget it.”

“You kept her locked up with another werewolf, a psychopath who just wanted to mate with her.”

“No, Gévaud wouldn’t do that.”

“His body is in a basement with a silver bullet in him and his throat torn out—by Eloise!”

“You did this to her! Ye took away her innocence! I protected her! I kept her safe!”

“She wasn’t safe! Her family was terrified of her—they kept her locked up, they drugged her! And your pet killed the entire village, and her family.”

“Ye made a mistake. Ye made this personal between ye and me.” He stands up again and straightens his lapels.

His gunsel has been watching with his mouth hanging open. “Boss? Vous n’êtes pas français?”

Gavigan leans in and talks softly to him. The band outside gets louder. Gavigan slides open the door. He turns back. “Oh, shamus? Catch.”

He tosses a silenced pistol at Francis, and ducks out the door. The gunsel slowly slides down the wall, bleeding. Francis looks down at the gun that now has his fingerprints all over it.

Outside someone screams. He gets up and runs for the back door.




“I just don’t know where else to go,” sobs Eloise. "I don’t understand everything that’s happened to me. My parents…my parents are gone, and I can never go back to my family anyway, not after what…well…and this thing they say I am, I…I don’t know what to do! They said that you could help me, so I’m coming to you now…I’m a desperate woman. I’ll do anything you say. Just please, please help me.

Someone reaches forward and takes Eloise’s hand.

“Don’t worry,” says Hypatia. “We can take care of you just fine.”

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Episode IX: Je serai sur toi dès que le rayon de lune brillera (Part 3)

The second night of the full moon

“Francis, I’ve had the most unusual dreams,” says Eloise as soon as he comes up. He slips his coat over her shoulders.

“It’s all right. Come with us.”

They drive up to the plane. Joyce is sitting on top of it with a pistol drawn, aiming at Gévaud, who is standing in the road holding a club the size of a railroad tie.

“Ah good. I was expecting you to come. Hand the girl over to me. She is mine now.”

“I tried shooting at him,” shouts Joyce. “He’s not frightened of it!”

Francis draws his pistol. “You can take her when you pry her from my cold, dead fingers,” he says.

“That would be my pleasure,” says Gévaud, as he transforms into a gigantic wolf.



Francis sprints back to the car. “Go, Jimmy, go!” The car lurches forward and tears off down the country lane leading from the plane.

Gévaud races after them, moving faster than any normal animal could, keeping pace with them as they drive. Francis shoves Jimmy aside and tries to dodge down another road.

With a roar of engines and a rush of wind, the Fokker Trimotor stoops down on them. Just barely keeping above stall speed, Joyce paces the racing car. Jimmy swings Eloise up into the plane, followed by Charleston and Noor. Then he shoves Francis aside.

“Get in the plane!” he shouts. Francis leaps for the edge of the door and barely catches the edge. Jimmy clambers over him and pulls him inside as the car spins out of control into a tree. Gévaud changes back to human form and shakes his fist as the plane rapidly climbs into the sky.



They return to Paris. Francis calls Mickey Mahoney and asks for medicine, venison, two sets of clothes, and a safe house—one with a very secure area to hold somebody. Mickey sends them to an abandoned building on the outskirts of the city. A large section of the floor has been ripped up, exposing a two-storey deep basement. “Forget about this conversation,” says Mahoney. “And if you happen to dig up anything, forget about that too.”

Francis takes Eloise to the safe house. Jimmy heads down to the Sorbonne and hires a couple of English-speaking students to help him find out information on werewolves. The only thing he finds that seems useful is that apparently silver weapons will hurt a werewolf.

Jimmy goes to Mahoney. “I need silver bullets. And wolfsbane.” He drops a bag with silver candlesticks on his desk. (It makes a very interesting line item on his next expense report to Bradley Grey.)

“Let me get this straight. Francis says he has a strange beast. And you tell me you need silver bullets and wolfsbane.”

“Don’t worry. It’s not going to come back to bite you on the ass. Well, not figuratively…”

Mahoney sets Jimmy up with a weaponsmith and a pharmacist—aconite, the drug derived from wolfsbane is still used as a heart medicine.

Meanwhile, Francis makes a “post-turn” kit, with food, booze, and a change of clothes. He lowers Eloise down into the pit.

“Francis are you leaving me down here alone?”

“I’m afraid so,” says Francis, turning away. Shortly after that, a horrible howling begins. (Strangely enough—or maybe not—the building is well soundproofed.)

View
Episode IX: Je serai sur toi dès que le rayon de lune brillera (Part 2)

The first night of the full moon

In the morning, Francis comes downstairs and meets Jimmy; they expect to meet Freddie and go up to the castle. But neither Freddie nor Gilbert is there. According to the innkeeper, Blakely left in the morning with “some men in a car” and Gilbert went after him.

The only trace they have of Freddie is an engraved note that was left at the inn:

_To whom it may concern,

Mr. Blakely is assisting us with certain inquiries. He will be returned to you at their conclusion.

Sincerely,

M
_

They set out for Castle Plum along with the constable. The sun is just coming over the horizon, a beautiful Irish morning. They pass through a forested copse of trees. In the fields, they see a young woman riding her horse at breakneck speed. Jimmy’s upper class upbringing notices that the horse is running much faster than it normally would even at full gallop. As they watch, the woman tries to jump a fence. At the last moment, her horse bucks and throws her to the ground.

Francis and Jimmy come running up. “Are you all right ma’am?”

“I’m fine,” she says. “Eloise Vane. Who are you?” Her eyes sparkle as she looks over Francis.

“Francis O’Donnell. This is my associate, Jimmy Wright.”

“Hello,” she says to Jimmy curtly and then turns back to Francis. “You’re an American, aren’t you? I do so love Americans. So brash and bold.”

Jimmy leads the horse away. Its eyes are rolling in terror.

“She’s so crazy this morning,” says Eloise. “But this morning I felt really full of energy, you know? Do you have a cigarette. What brings you to Ireland? Oh, you can just take the horse up to the castle,” she says to Jimmy dismissively.

She strokes his hand as he gives her a cigarette. “Would you care to take a walk with me? I could show you the grounds.”

They walk up into the ornamental garden. “Why don’t you sit with me on this bench? I’m so out of breath from the fall.”

“Well, I came to Ireland because it seemed a good opportunity…”

“Indeed.”

“We’re trustworthy…discreet…”

“I think I have something you could help me with…” And she pounces on Francis and begins to kiss him passionately.

Eloise turns out to be surprisingly strong—she knocks him off the bench and rolls on top of him. She begins to unbutton his coat. “This won’t take long,” she murmurs.

As Jimmy reaches the castle, an enormous, greasy-haired man with a heavy beard shadow and a unibrow comes over. “Where is the girl?”

“She’s talking with my associate…name’s Jimmy, by the way.”

“Gévaud. The groundskeeper. I am from Lyon. We will put the horse in the stable and then find her.”

“I was just in Paris, you know.”

“Parisians are all idiots. If you were in Paris, you are a ridiculous person.”



Francis is in the middle of a delicate situation when suddenly he is pulled by his hair away from Eloise. Gévaud drags him by the neck into the sunlight.

“Gévaud, you are a terrible person. Let go of my friend,” says Eloise.

“Shut up!”

The two of them begin to argue loudly. Francis waits for a moment, and then punches Gévaud hard in the throat.

“I’m going to tear you apart,” he growls. He grabs Francis by the throat again and begins to lift him off the ground.

Francis puts a hard kick into the Frenchman’s groin.

Gévaud drops Francis, and then throws him against a column and begins to pummel him. Eloise smacks him across the face with her riding crop. “Stop it, you idiot!”

Blood drips down Gévaud’s face. He glares at Eloise with a look that Francis recognizes too well—the look of a man who could kill her.

Eloise runs back to the castle.

“Stupid whore,” grumbles Gévaud. “I could kill her. Most of the time she infuriates me. But sometimes…there’s something about her.”

Eventually they enter the main hall of Castle Plum. Eloise meets them and takes Jimmy and Francis to the sitting room, where they are taking breakfast.

“I never!” says Sir Arthur Vane. Lady Jane Vane nearly drops her teacup. Lawrence buries his face in his hands.

“Sir, milady. My name is Francis O’Donnell. I came here so I could help you.”

“I’d say you have to help yourself first,” says Lawrence.

“Gévaud was being an utter prat, mater,” says Eloise.

“Well…uh…have some tea, old man,” says Sir Arthur.

Eloise begins to plow into some blood sausage. “I’m so hungry today,” she says. “Mater, pater, Francis and Jimmy are going to stay with us tonight, aren’t they?”

“Well…”

“I SAID THEY WERE GOING TO STAY HERE!”

“All right, dear,” says Sir Arthur. “We’d be delighted to have you. Lawrence will give you the tour, won’t you son?”

“Overjoyed,” says Larry, with clenched jaw.

Sir Arthur takes Lady Vane, who looks very pale, up to her room. “Make yourself…at home,” he says.

“Look, I know I’ve stepped into a mess here,” says Francis.

“You’ve definitely stepped in it, old man.”

“Well, I just want you to know I’m trustworthy. I’ve helped people out of troubles before.”

“Some troubles, old man…our family has problems that you can’t help with.”

“Jimmy, why don’t you help get our stuff?” says Francis. As Jimmy starts to leave, Francis grabs his arm. “Find out what you can in town, and look into the priest,” he whispers.

Back at the pub, the locals are in an uproar about a sheep that was torn to pieces the night before. “’Tis the Divil Dog!” they say.

Jimmy takes a walk out on the moors. Soon he comes across a clump of people gathered around the body of the sheep. He doesn’t recognize the tracks around the corpse, but it does look like the sheep was killed by some kind of large predator.

“Pretty gruesome, huh?” says Jimmy.

“’Twas the Divil Dog!” says one of the bystanders.

“Go on, yer mad,” says another.

“Nay, I saw it!” says a third.

“You saw it?” says Jimmy.

“Saw something. A huge dark shadow on the moors.”

“Go on,” say the others.

“What about Tom Cordy and his daughter?” insists the man who “saw” the Devil Dog.

“Ah, he’s in the sauce half the time, isna he?” the crowd responds.

Jimmy resolves to go to the church and talk to the priest.



Father O’Leary lives in the rectory of the church. Jimmy knocks on the door.

“Can I help ye?” says the Father’s housekeeper, a pleasant-looking, middle-aged woman.

“Top o’ the morning. You do say that, don’t you?”

“Er…sometimes we do.”

“I’m here to see the Father.”

“An’ what’s the nature of yer visit?”

“Confession.”

“Confessions are later in the day…but…oh, if it’s a matter of deep conscience…”

She takes him in to the sitting room. Father O’Leary eventually enters. Deep bags are under his eyes, and Jimmy thinks he is losing his hair. “How can I help ye, me son?”

“You don’t look so good, Father.”

“Ah, well…we all must wrestle with our own demons. Even those of us who take the cloth must do battle with Satan.”

“Sometimes it seems those demons are really present with us.”

“That’s a…strange way of puttin’ it. Not too many in this scientific age would credit such an idea. But I think that traces of the elder world hang around us. May I say, you don’t look Catholic.”

“Was raised Protestant.”

“Well, we all have our own moral failings. Now, is there something in particular I can help you with? Otherwise, I have to be gettin’ back to my work…and oh God, I have a sermon to write for tomorrow…”

Jimmy explains to the priest that he has heard about how he locks himself up at night, and the concerns about his health. And also, the rumors of dogs on the moor.

“Certainly there are strange events…I believe God is testing us…He tests all of us in different ways…and sometimes he tests families…you don’t speak Greek, d’ye?”

Father O’Leary tells Jimmy that he found a journal from one of his predecessors, part of which was written in Greek. He began to translate it…but the things he read were very disturbing. He also recommends that Jimmy not go out when the moon is full, and avoid Castle Plum.

“What do you think of the daughter?” asks Jimmy.

“I think sometimes God damns people even if they haven’t done something themselves…that girl’s lost. And there’s nothing I can do for her.”

Jimmy begs for a look at the book, but the Father refuses, claiming it’s too dangerous. Jimmy notices that poor man can’t help but glance back at his desk when he talks about the book.

Jimmy politely takes his leave. He notes that there will be a vespers Mass that evening.



Back at Castle Plum, Larry gives Francis a reluctant tour. Francis tries to feel him out for any tells that Lawrence might give off. He notices two things: there’s another floor above the guest floor that Lawrence won’t take him, and his tour of the wine cellar is a bit forced. Lawrence off-handedly mentions that there used to be another cellar that was used in the old days. Francis suspects that there is another exit in the wine cellar.

When they reach the parlor, Eloise stops Francis.

“Hello, Lady Eloise,” says Francis.

“Oh, I’m not a lady. Is your room comfortable?”

“Quite. Lawrence was about to show me the grounds?”

“Oh, I could do that.”

Lawrence’s face is draining of blood. “Dearest, Gévaud is working outside. Perhaps you’ll want to wait?”

“Well, Francis, you could at least come take tea in my apartment.”

“There’s nothing I could refuse you.”

Eloise heads back up to the family wing. Lawrence speaks softly to Francis: “Listen old man, if you know what’s good for you you’ll stay far away from her right now. She’s not herself—you know how women get,” he ends rather unconvincingly.

Francis bows to him.

Lighting a cigarette with shaking hands, Lawrence says, “I’ll tell you one thing. Don’t drink the wine tonight.”



Jimmy waits until he sees Father O’Leary walking to the church. He slips around behind the rectory. The priest’s housekeeper is inside, tidying the tea service. Jimmy creeps to the pantry, slides open a window, and steps inside.

He pulls out a small skeleton key stamped “Property of F. O’Donnell” and unlocks the rolltop desk. Inside is a battered leatherbound journal.

Part of the journal is in English, but there is a lengthy section in Greek. And then Jimmy finds a hand-drawn picture of a huge wolf attacking someone. The Greek text gets extremely haphazard at this point.

In the back of the book is a cheat sheet that O’Leary has been compiling to help with his translation. There’s an entry for “Vane family” on it. When Jimmy looks at the page with the picture of the wolf, he sees those characters everywhere on the page.

As he slides back out the window, Jimmy knocks over a lamp. The housekeeper calls out “Who’s there?” as he flees back into town.

When he gets back to the pub, he finds a card inviting him to dinner. There’s also a note from Francis telling him to not drink the wine if he comes to dinner.

The constable enters. “Mr. Wright, I have to ask a few questions. Can ye give your whereabouts around 5 pm?”

“Oh…I was…over here, talking with my friend the publican.”

“Ah…that’s right, constable. Jimmy was here the whole time, tellin’ me about America,” says the publican.

“All right. I’ll have to keep looking. Do you know where Mr. O’Donnell was?”

“Up at the castle.”

“Well, I’ll have to keep looking. We’ve got someone around who’d steal from a priest, and that’s a pretty low person.”

After the constable leaves, Jimmy explains to the astonished bartender that the priest knows something about what has been going on with the Devil Dog—nothing untoward, but something that has frightened the poor man. Jimmy lifted the journal to help him out.

“The less you know, the better off you are,” says Jimmy.



Dinner is held rather early (more of a late tea) but they still dress for it—even Jimmy, who arrives freshly scrubbed and stuffed into his best tuxedo. Francis makes sure to strap on his backup piece in an ankle holster.

Jimmy of course takes his little spy-model camera and tucks it into the small of his back.

As Francis makes his way to the dining room, Eloise grabs him. “I’ve had this horrible feeling all day…like something awful is going to happen. And…I get these blackouts sometimes…”

“Why is your family so afraid of you?”

“Well, I suppose it’s because they can’t deal with a modern liberated woman. But sometimes…I think it’s more than that. I get so temperamental sometimes…just watch over me, and make sure that nothing happens to me.”

“You have my word.”



Jimmy shows Francis the journal. As he pages through the journal, O’Donnell notices that the writing seems to get more and more disturbed over time. The dates of the entries are in the 1770s.

“Just because there was a wolf creature a hundred and fifty years ago doesn’t mean anything today,” says Francis.

“The horse was terrified of her!” says Jimmy.

“Right, because horses are elegant creatures who are never frightened of anything,” says Francis. “They’re just stoic.”

“It got calmer the further we moved from her!”

“Or a beetle. Look, she’s frightened of something, and darn it, I’m going to help her.” Privately, Francis believes that Eloise is a manic-depressive.

Dinner goes perfectly calmly for the first several courses, until the roast is served.

Eloise throws her plate on the floor. “This is horribly overcooked!”

Jimmy looks at his slice—it’s perfectly done, just a little pink in the middle.

“We should have fired cook years ago!” snarls Eloise. “I don’t know how you can eat this!”

She takes a huge swig of wine from her glass. For a moment she looks confused.

Then she faints, collapsing back into her chair.

Sir Arthur and Lawrence immediately stand up. “You’d best go off to your rooms,” says Larry. “We’ll take care of Eloise. She’s a bit sick, you must have noticed her acting strangely.”

Jimmy examines Eloise, checking her pupils and her breathing. He quickly concludes that she has been drugged.

Lawrence and Sir Arthur start to pick up Eloise. “You should head back to your rooms, we’ll send food if you’re hungry.”

“Eloise came to me,” says Francis, “and said she was in distress.”

“She is in distress old man. She’s a very sick girl.”

“Then why does she have free reign over the castle? Why has she put the fear of God into you?”

Lady Vane begins to cry.

“Listen old man,” says Lawrence, “this is a family matter. And if you have a problem with that, I invite you to leave.”

“I’d happily leave, if I didn’t think you meant harm to her.”

“We don’t mean her any harm. She’s very ill, and we’re taking her to her room.”

“Sir Arthur,” says Francis, “Let me help. There’s many things I can do, I see you’re in peril—”

“Please don’t make this any harder on me,” says Lady Vane, clutching Francis’ arm. “I know you mean well, but this is just making it worse!”

Jimmy begins to feel ill, suddenly. The room begins to go woozy.

He sits down hard on a chair. Francis suddenly feels just as bad. He grabs the back of a chair, fighting to stay conscious.

“I was about to leave quietly,” says Francis.

“You’ll leave quietly now, old man,” says Larry with a smirk, as servants drag Francis and Jimmy upstairs to their room.



Time passes. Jimmy’s bed seems to swing through three axes. A few times he tries to stand up but the effort is beyond him.

OWWW-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Jimmy listens carefully. The howling seems to be coming from inside the castle.

On the other side of the building, Francis drags himself to his suitcase and fumbles inside until he finds some smelling salts.

OWWWWWW-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

This howling comes from outside the castle. Francis looks out the window but sees nothing on the moonlight moors.

As he dresses and puts on his pistol holster, Francis hears footsteps coming from the locked third floor. Voices murmur for a moment on the landing, and then there are more footsteps as the people descend the stairs.

Francis creeps to Jimmy’s door. “Jimmy, it’s Francis.”

“How do I know it’s you?”

“Open the [censored] door!”

Jimmy opens the door. “She’s a wolf! She’s going to eat us!”

OWWWW-OOOOOOOOO!

“She’s not a monster! We’re going to find her and protect her!” says Francis. He gives Jimmy his holdout piece. “They must have drugged the tea,” he says as they head to Eloise’s room.

“I thought there was too much clove! Anyway, we should get out here! This is like one of those Gothic novels!”

“No, it’s Conan Doyle,” whispers Francis. They pass Sir and Lady Vane’s apartment. A woman is crying inside, and they can hear Sir Arthur comforting her.

Eloises’ room is vacant. They quietly search the room. Francis finds Eloise’s journal. He quickly checks to see how her entries coordinate with the full moon. In every case he checks, the entries get more and more disorganized right before the full moon. Then several days are missing; when the journal entries resume, the writing seems very depressed.

Behind a dresser, Jimmy finds a single sheet from a letter. There’s a number on it, as if was part of a sequence:

_My dearest Eloise,

I think of you constantly. I wish I didn’t have to be so far away…_

He skips to the end, where it is signed, “Love, E.”

Internal evidence from the letter suggests that it was written by somebody local, from the village…someone who is no longer there…

Jimmy and Francis descend to the wine cellar. They find a door concealed behind one wine rack. Ten minutes of work springs the lock. A narrow staircase lit by electric bulbs leads down. The sound of howling, growling and barking comes from below.

During a break in the clamor, Jimmy thinks he hears voices coming from below.

They go down. At the bottom of the staircase they find a room covered thickly with dust. There are bulky implements scattered around the room that suggest this room was once the castle’s torture chamber.

A crack of light comes from under a heavy iron door in the far wall. The howling is coming from behind the door, along with the faint sounds of a conversation.

Francis pounds on the door, and then stands next to it with his gun drawn.

The conversation stops.

There is the sound of the bolt unlatching. Francis yanks open the door and flattens himself against the wall. He catches a glimpse of several ancient cells for holding prisoners beyond it.

Something howls from inside the cell block. There is the sound of something heavy hitting a door from around the corner, further down the the cells.

There is the sound of hinges beginning to creak as the slamming noise continues.

“You’re in trouble,” yells Francis. “Come on out, before whatever’s in there gets out.”

Lawrence Vane walks out. “I told you, this is a family matter.”

“Lawrence, what’s going on?”

“You really don’t have much time. Go on upstairs, and I’ll lock up. We’re having a bit of a pest control issue.”

“Where’s Eloise?”

“She’s safe. She’s not in any more trouble than she was now.” Lawrence keeps glancing back as he talks to Francis. Then with a sigh, he steps out into the torture room.

Two other men scamper out, one with a drawn Luger. “All right, all right,” says one of them, a portly Englishman with a bristle mustache.

“Who the hell are you?” says Francis.

“Clive. Dr. Henry Clive. This is my associate, Mr. Sprech.”



“Well, I need a drink,” says Lawrence when they get back to the dining room.

“Why don’t you two go back upstairs and let the experts take care of this,” says Clive.

“You’re experts?” says Francis.

“We have experience with these matters. I’m an archaeologist by trade.”

“Have you ever seen a woman turn into a giant lizard and bite you?”

“Can’t say that I’ve seen that one, no. But I’m afraid the family rather insists on using us for this particular issue.”

“What about the priest?” says Jimmy.

“The priest is of no concern. No one will ever believe him, not even Rome.”

“We did,” says Jimmy.

“And who are you? Nobody interesting, from what I understand.”

“A young woman asked me for my help,” says Francis.

“Well, she’s confused, insn’t she?”

“I think she’s in trouble.”

“I think you know what her trouble is. We’re taking care of her.”

“By drugging her?”

“We gave her a powerful muscle relaxant, to keep her from hurting herself.”

“She doesn’t know what’s going on, does she?” says Jimmy. “Why haven’t you told her?”

“And how would you react to that, Mr. Wright?”

“What happens to your sister when she’s older, when people try to understand why she’s not married, why she can’t bring life into this world?” says Francis to Lawrence.

“I’m afraid her heart is already taken, and that is a match which can never be publicly acknowledged,” says Lawrence, pouring another drink.

“She has all of you under this fear, but she was able to bring a stranger in here! She’ll be able to leave one day!”

“Look old man, we’ve got this under control,” says Clive. “Nobody’s died—not here. And I assure you, Eloise was always inside the castle when her condition is such.”

“How do you explain what’s been happening?” demands Jimmy.

“Some random dog I should suppose.”

“How did she get this condition?” says Francis.

“Well…you see, old man…it’s a bit of a family curse,” says Lawrence. “The Vane women get it…they have this condition.”

“For a hundred and fifty years?”

“At least that long, I should say. It doesn’t die out, either—we’ve had generations of only sons, but as soon as another daughter is born, she gets it.”

“Why haven’t you done the logical thing and stopped breeding?”

“Well, it’s fifty-fifty each time. I’m rather glad I’m here. And Eloise is safe.”

“Except that she’s afraid. Except that she’s unhappy. She went to a total stranger for help—you don’t think that will happen? I won’t be the last, and one day she’ll escape. Now, who is better to help her—somebody who’s been exposed to these things, who can deal with the fact that she’s a wolf, or somebody else, who won’t know what to do? What would have done tonight if somebody else had been at the door downstairs?”

As if on cue, Jimmy sees the door to the kitchen begin to open. A wolf the size of a pony is standing there.

It leaps onto the dining room table, which collapses. Clive and Sprech sprint for the stairs. The wolf stands there growling at Lawrence, Jimmy and Francis.

The wolf sniffs at the door to the wine cellar. Jimmy sprints for the doorway, but gets tripped up as Francis blasts past him. Jimmy finds himself between the wolf and the wine cellar door.

Francis gets to the stairs, notices Jimmy is missing, and heads back to the dining room.

The wolf stares at Jimmy, who is sitting against the wall, trying to scramble up. Somehow words form in his head.

You keep her. You die.

Francis runs in, leaps up onto a chair, and shoots the wolf point blank behind his ear.

Blood sprays all over the room. The wolf yelps and rolls away. As Francis watches, the blood flow almost immediately stops, and the shot, which would have crippled or killed most people, hasn’t seemed to slow the wolf at all.

“Jimmy get out—” shouts Francis as the wolf springs at him. The bone-shuddering impact blows him completely through the wall of the dining room. Plaster and lathing explode around him. The wolf’s eyes seem to glow red.

Francis crawls to his feet and runs for the door. The wolf follows him to the threshold, and then howls. Francis keeps running the mile or so into town.

Jimmy runs upstairs. From below, he hears an enormous crash, as if a door had been knocked down. The wolf howls. From the basement comes a howl in response.

He opens a window, slides down a tree, and lopes like a gazelle through the moonlight. Soon he’s on Francis’ heels.

As they reach the edge of the village, Francis hears howling from the castle. Maybe it’s his imagination, but he hears rage, pain, and frustration in the wordless cry. He slows down, thinking. Thinking about how solid the door in the basement is, and how it was designed to be wolf-proof. And how that will anger the wolf that attacked them. Which he left. Alone in the castle.

Where it will massacre everyone in revenge.

He stops dead. His shoulders droop.

“Jimmy,” says Francis, “go find all the explosives that you can. And steal a car!”



Francis bursts into the Laughing Horse pub. “The Devil Dog is in the castle! Let’s go kill it!”

“The Devil Dog!” shouts the crowd. They quickly gather outside with pitchforks and weapons left over from the Civil War.

Meanwhile Jimmy heads down to the plane. He doesn’t see anyone as he comes up, but suddenly hears the click of a pistol.

“Ah jeez, it’s you,” says Joyce. An Irish girl is hiding behind her. Wearing only a blanket.

“Ah. Oh! AH! Sorry, I just need some dynamite,” says Jimmy. He drags a case out from the back of the plane. “There may be some explosions. Oh, and enjoy the rest of your night.”

“Well, I would but you’ve ruined the mood,” mutters the pilot.

Jimmy meets Francis back at the plane with a car he liberates from a farmhouse on the way. Together the crowd makes their way to Castle Plum. They pause on the doorstep, unnerved by the sudden howling they hear from inside.

“Ye didn’t tell us there were two divil dogs,” says the publican. About half the crowd looks like it is about to run back to the village. “There’s nothing to fear, boys! Come on!” says Francis.

In the kitchen they find the broken window that the wolf used to get in the castle. The dining room is slick with blood, and the door to the wine cellar is ripped down. There’s still howling coming from the basement.

“Where’s Sir Arthur and Lady Vane?” mutter some of the crowd. “Let’s go check on ’em.”

The crowd heads upstairs. They come upon a trail of blood. On the second story they find a chambermaid with her head ripped from her body. Some of the crowd melt away.

Eloise’s room has been completely wrecked, all the furniture smashed to pieces.

In the Vanes’ bedroom, they find Sir Arthur dead on the floor, with a look of horror on his face that they will all take to their graves. Sitting on the bed is Lady Vane, her eyes staring blankly, sanity having long since fled. Over and over she whispers, “Lawrence…Lawrence…Lawrence…”

The howling from the basement has stopped.

“We’ll take her back to town in the car,” says some members of the mob, relieved to be able to do something useful that takes them away from the castle.

“I don’t think we can stay here tonight,” says Francis. “I don’t think we can beat the beast. Everyone should leave now.”

The crowd bolts from the castle, running back to the village. Jimmy and Francis leg it out with them, just in time to see a gigantic wolf leap into the crowd, scattering them and ripping out their throats.

Everyone runs in the opposite direction—only to scatter again when a_ second_ gigantic wolf suddenly appears and charges into them.

As Jimmy and Francis run towards the village, the last thing they see is the two wolves rolling together, howling and yipping at each other.

They spend the night with the survivors barricaded in the pub. Several people casually inform them that they’re going to be dead men soon.

In the morning, Francis gathers Jimmy, Charleston and Noor and they sneak out of the pub and drive back to the plane.

On the way there they come upon Eloise Vane, wandering naked and dazed by the road.

View
Episode IX: Je serai sur toi dès que le rayon de lune brillera (Part 1)

They drive out to Orly Airfield. At the slip Mickey told them to go to, they find a large Fokker Trimotor, easily capable of carrying their party to Ireland. Outside it stands a perfect stereotype of French aviation—a short man wearing a leather jacket, leather helmet on his head (with the goggles pushed up past his forehead), smoking a cigarette.

“We were told to look for a JS,” says Freddie.

“I am Jean Simone. Can I help you?”

“We are interested in visiting Ireland.”

“Have a nice trip.”

“A certain Mickey Mahoney—”

“Ah, Mahoney. Bah. Next slip over, monsieur.”

They round the plane and find a woman with short hair arguing with another French pilot. “I don’t want to look at your picture again, Tony! It’s a snake eating an elephant, anyone can see that.”

“What ho! You would be—”

“Joyce Summers. Oh hey, you must be my charter! Have any of you ever flown before?”

“No.”

“Then I won’t have to go over the safety procedures. We’re ready to leave. I filed a flight plan to…Coventry, England.”

“Ah, wink wink, nudge nudge.”

“I’ve done this before.”

Freddie heads back to Jean Simone, who is talking to the other pilot. “Gentlemen, if certain irate Frenchwomen or their wives should come looking for me, I’d appreciate it if you told them I went anywhere other than Ireland.”

The other pilot lights a cigarette. “Is this a matter of honor, sir? Than a gentleman would never say anything. If you should ever have need of my aid, Saint-Exupery is at your service.”

“Freddie Blakely,” says Freddie, handing over a card.

“Ah, a newspaperman! I dabble in writing myself. Perhaps we could talk further. I have a very interesting story about a time I crashed in…ah, it’s a long story.”



They take off nearly vertically. “We’ll reach cruising altitude soon. Now, if we should experience engine failure, we will all die. I think that’s my safety notice. This is basically a kite with internal combustion engines.”

“How do you know Mickey?” says Freddie.

“Oh, he’s great to me, gives me work smuggling guns, smuggling alcohol.”

Charleston and Gilbert light up. Joyce tells them that fuel tank number 3 is full of alcohol. (Or was it number 2?) As for guns, there are a lot of those lying around after the Irish Civil War.

Despite hitting some bad weather, several hours later they land in the northern part of the Irish Free State. Joyce stencils a picture of a plane on the side of her Fokker. Charleston notices that the string of plane stencils is punctuated frequently by little crash stencils.

They hike into the town of Lesser Edale. The name is English, and hated by the inhabitants, but none of them speak Irish well enough to rename it. They find the local pub, the Laughing Horse, and check in.

“Hello, we’re visiting and are hoping to find accommodations here,” says Freddie.

“Yer a facking Britsher.”

“No, I assure you I’m German.”

“Whatever makes ye happy. Not all the British are tha’ bad, look at the Vanes up the old castle.”

“The Gaffigan castle?”

“Gaffigan! Gaffigan! Be very careful saying that name around here. Which Gaffigan d’ye mean? There are sartain Gaffigans we are not friendly with.”

“His name begins with E—”

The rest of the pub goes silent. “We don’t speak of him here,” says the publican.

The rest of the group begins to mingle. Despite their distrust of strangers, the novelty of so many Americans—include a Chinese-American—clearly piques their interest.

The old Gaffer in the corner (there’s always an old Gaffer in the corner) tells them that Gaffigan was responsible for the death of half the town’s young men in the Easter Rising, and stood by the British to boot.

The crowd begins to shuffle in. “It’s gonna wild night,” says one. “The wind blows off the moors.”

“Aye, that’s not all that will stir tonight.”

“Shut yer mouth, ye be givin’ us the Evil Eye?” say several people.

The local girls find Charleston fascinating. “Airye meeried?” they ask. “D’ye ha’ a gel?”

“Yes, he does,” says Freddie. “A wee lass.”

In the corner, Noor looks at the men who have gathered around here over her Coke-bottle glasses.

Gilbert gets the young wives paying attention to him, of course. “Isit true tha’ the women in Paris all smoke?”

He blows a long puff of smoke out. “I don’t know what you’re saying.”

Charleston offers to take pictures of the girls. Several of the young men in town begin to glare at him.

Freddie begins to pound out some anti-English songs on the piano.

Several of the girls ask Charleston and Jimmy to walk them home. Charleston notices that they seem to be doing more than making a come-on. It turns out that they are afraid of…

“The Divil Dog. They say when the moon is full, it walks the moors, attacking people.”

Others chime in. “Me husband went out to barn because he heard something. Shot it wi’ his shotgun, an’ I saw a hairy beast, not man nor beast.”

“I say somethin’ like tha’,” says a horse dealer. “Me daughter. Somethin’ savaged here, kilt her dead. Down by the Vanes’ place. They’re British an’ no damn good, an’ I don’t care how many friends they have in this town. They’re cursed and they need to leave Ireland.”

“Aye, I saw one o’ the Vanes near his house that night. They’re a British family, came over wi’ Cromwell. Durin’ the Rising they stayed neutral, and they supported the Free State when durin’ the Troubles. But still British. Anglo-Irish, like the Shaws.”

At that moment a rather well-dressed young man in tweeds walks in. The pub goes silent.

“Talking about me again?” he says.

“Larry! Lawrence Vane! Bloody Larry!” says Freddie, embracing him.

“Oh god, Freddie. Of all the gin joints in all the world you had to walk into mine.”

“Everyone, this is my long-time rival and close enemy Bloody Larry Vane! We called him that because he’s vain? Get it? Please don’t hit me, Larry.”

“How could I refuse an invitation like that?” says Lawrence, and punches Freddie.

Too late Freddie remembers that Vane won the Oxford boxing title one year.

“Are you still upset about what me and Mildred did?” says Freddie.

“I’d forgotten that,” says Vane, and punches Freddie again. “Now, you must come to dinner, Pater will be royally chuffed if you don’t come tomorrow night—wait. Come to breakfast. I’m afraid my sister Eloise will be ill tomorrow.”

Freddie and Larry duck outside. “What are you doing in Ireland,” hisses Vane. “When I heard you were in New York, I thought, well, there’s five thousand miles of water between us—since I can’t recall you ever bathing in it or drinking the stuff.”

“A friend of mine recommended that I look into Eddie Gaffigan.”

“For God’s sake, man, don’t say that name! He’s a bloody traitor! Listen, Freddie, I’m going to give you a piece of advice, Freddie! I’m not fond of you, and I don’t want to help you, but drop Gaffigan and don’t bring him up anywhere around here, not to the townsfolk, not to Pater, not to me! I am deadly bloody serious about this! Or I can’t be held responsible.”

“Well, I just need to know some things, where he lived, if he has any relatives—”

“He fled. I hope his former mates tracked him down and gave him the dog’s death he deserved. As for where he lived, he and his mother had a house at the edge of the village. After what he did in 1916, the villagers went and tore the house down.”

“I hope without his mother inside.”

“I can’t speak to that, old man.”



The party winds down. Jimmy hears some rumors about the local priest, who seems to be spending all his time reading strange books late at night—“He’s a very learned man, he reads Latin and Greek.”

He also uncovers that the Vanes seem to not have any money, but since the Civil War they’ve been able to stay in their castle, which seems unusual.

Charleston goes home with one of his fair interlocutors, named Abigail. That night, he has a dream. He hears a noise, as of the sea. He gets up, and throttles the life out of Abigail, while chanting a strange song. Enormous power seems to flow through him.

He wakes up. Abigail is sleeping next to him. He feels a deep loss of power, and the haunting chant seems to be running in his mind.

He wakes her up and makes love to her the rest of the morning.

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Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 9)

At long last Freddie is able to get the group into Le Pyramide Bleu…er, Club Hippolyte, as it has been renamed. They arrive in the evening.

The decor of the club has changed, from faux-Egyptian to faux-Greek. The former belly dancers now wear fake armor. Almost naked men pretend to be slave boys as they bus the table.

The posters for the club have changed—Hypatia is now drawn as Marianne, the personification of revolutionary France, complete with Phrygian cap. Freddie of course recognizes the significance of the club’s name change—Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons.

During Hypatia’s show, Alphonse notices that while the women listening to her sing seem to be very interested and excited, the men seem to get much more depressed. He also notices that women vastly outnumber men in the audience.

Charleston notices that the sigils on the side of the proscenium seem to relate to mystical runes of mind control.

Hypatia drops by their table.

“I don’t know you, Alfie. What do you want?”

“A cigarette.”

“That’s it? Gotta admire a man who knows what he wants. Chuckles! Nose in the book still, huh? How’s your little girlfriend? And your kid?”

“Who cares.”

“But thank you, by the way, for—our mutual friend. Aw, did Jimmy fall down go boom? Anyway, you guys should stay for the floorshow. I’ll see you all after the show.”

Hypatia begins to sing in French. Right about then, Freddie realizes…he can no longer understand French.

When the show ends and the crowd has left, Hypatia pulls up a chair next to their table. “Oh, pauvre Freddie, comment ça va? Êtes-vous malade?”

“You’re delightful as usual.”

“I had nothing to do with it, pal. All right, losers. You’re worried about your girlfriend, Freddie? Mayhaps perhaps I could put you on the trail of her. Although you didn’t take my advice before and go to Ireland.”

“I had everything arranged, but then I got kidnapped…”

“Anyway. Go to Ireland. It doesn’t do me anything directly, but I like you. Sure, maybe I have my own Dark Purposes, but they don’t involve hurting you.”

“That puts you apart from most of the sinister forces I know.”

“Who describes their own motives as dark?” asks Charleston.

“Chuckles, don’t you dare try and be noble with me.”

“He’s been that way ever since he separated from his child and her mother.”

“Oh, right. That was sad. She was really cute, his daughter. Anyway. Going to Ireland will help you, and give you stuff on Eddie. If you don’t, sooner or later he’ll stop fencing with you and make a play you can’t handle. Thought he’d throw Tewfik at you. Well, you handled that, and he’s probably not crying in his wine about that.”

“Can you tell me about Sheila?”

“Yeah. I can help you get her back. But if I do, she won’t be yours anymore. She’ll belong to me.”

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Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 8)

“All right, Jimmy, here’s the deal. We’re going to sabotage that ship.”

“An itty-bitty ship or…”

“No, a big cargo ship. We can either cause engine problems, or sink it.”

Against his better judgment, Jimmy disguises himself as a longshoreman and sneaks aboard the ship. He makes his way down into the engine room. The Chinese engineer is snoring on a three-legged stool near the doorway.

Jimmy grabs a large wrench and quickly sabotages the oil feed to one of the engines. Then he starts it up. Within a few minutes the bearings are shrieking and an ugly smell of hot metal fills the room.

The engineer wakes up, looks at Jimmy, and then smacks him in the head with a wrench. Jimmy clocks the engineer on the head with his wrench. The two of them lock together for a moment, struggling for an angle, when Jimmy’s leg gives out. He slams his head on a boiler and sits down heavily.

Outside, Francis and Guy see the crew begin to run for the hatches. Francis ducks behind his car and fires off a few shots at the ship. The remaining crew hit the deck.

Below decks, the engineer and one of his mates break out some rifles and head topside. Another engineer’s mate stands guard over Jimmy, looking at him intently.

“Got any morphine?” says Jimmy.

“Ming says you tried to break the ship.”

“No…I was trying to fix the ship…”

“Are you saying Ming hit you for no reason? Although that does sound like Ming. Five hundred francs.”

“Five hundred francs?”

“To get you out of here.”

The mate takes Jimmy on deck, sneaking behind cargo crates. They drop into a rowboat and the mate rows him to one of the other wharves.

The police arrive to see who fired the shots, but Francis has concealed the gun in its compartment beneath the car. Lacking direct evidence, they tell him to not leave town. Francis agrees calmly.

That afternoon they drive back to Paris.

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