Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode 2: Hear my words that I might teach you, Part 1

Friday, 18th of February, 1925.

The funeral is held in the early afternoon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Scott and Camille are in attendance, but Neville is nowhere to be seen. The mood is particularly sombre for a funeral. Jax was so young and being killed in such a manner has deeply affected those that knew her. The entire Rainbow Division is in attendance in military regalia. Once the father has said his part, a man in a very expensive suit makes a speech. He has a power of oratory, and people hang on his words with respect and admiration. He tells the gathered people what a beautiful person Jackson Elias was. He speaks of her skills as a journalist and her passion as a researcher and author. Though clearly saddened by the loss, the speech is delivered with such respect and composure that Cami and Scott are reminded what a joy it was to have known Jax. The feeling comes with the bitter aftertaste of knowing they will never hear her laugh or have her wise counsel ever again.


Back at French Hospital, Barty stirs. Neville’s bloodshot eyes widen in alertness as Barty begins to speak.

“Sir?”

“Barty.”

“Sir, what’s happened? I tried to stop them…”

Neville holds Bartholomew’s hand. “I know, Barty. Don’t worry. Jax is gone. Her funeral is today.”

Barty tries to sit upright and his face contorts in pain and drains of what little colour it has.

“Sir, you should be there,” he chokes out.

“I’m not losing anyone else,” says Neville. “I’m staying here with you.”

“Sir, you must attend the funeral. For Jax’s sake as well as your engagement in the community. You cannot be seen to be shirking your responsibilities as a gentleman.”

“You’re right Barty, of course. You’re always right.”

“I know sir. Also, what day is it? Friday? Speaking of gentlemanly responsibilities, the opera is tonight. It’s a maiden performance and it would be incredibly poor form for you not to attend. An empty box on opening night is completely unacceptable.”

“Yes, of course Barty. I’m going to arrange to have you moved though. I’ll put you in another hospital under a false name.”

Neville smooths out his hair and shaves, and then heads down to the desk clerk to reprimand him on the security at the hospital. He demands that Bartholomew be moved to another hospital under a false name and begins to write a check for the hospital for $5,000 to update their security.


A soldier of the Rainbow Regiment is on the podium telling of Jackson’s good humour in the trenches and bravery in battle, when the doors to the church swing open. Neville enters wearing a handsome suit and tie, but still looking bleary eyed. The whole church turns to look at him and the crowd which has gathered outside. Behind a police line a large group of predominately black men have assembled and are chanting something about justice. The church doors swing closed, muting their cries. All eyes are on Neville as he takes a seat next to Scott and Camille.

“Nice of you to join us,” sneers Cami.

“Leave it alone,” says Scott.

Neville pays her no heed and watches on as an elderly man dressed more like an academic than a funeral goer, mounts the podium to make a speech. His face stricken with grief and he can barely make a few sentences about Jackson before he has to excuse himself, his voice faltering.

The casket makes its procession down the aisle, born by the men of the Rainbow Division, and out into the cold, cloudy daylight. The crowd outside is respectful enough to part to allow the casket to pass, but the chant “Justice for Jackson. Justice for our boys,” is almost deafening.

As Neville, Scott and Cami exit the church, they are stopped by a familiar face. Abdel Nasser shouts at the three, “You killed those boys in cold blood. We demand justice!” He’s flanked by a white man and woman.

“Good God man, this is a funeral. Have some respect!” shouts Neville in response.

“Then have some respect for our boys! Two young black boys are gunned down by three whites in a hotel room and no arrests are made! We want justice!”

“We want justice too,” says Camille. “Those boys were trying to kill Jackson and now someone’s finished the job. You forget as well there was a white attacker in that hotel room as well. This isn’t racially motivated.”

The New York police watch on but do nothing to help the group, the good sons of Ireland enjoying watching a British sir and a Bureau agent get in over their heads.

The woman flanking Abdel speaks, “But this is about race. And class. If it wasn’t a white junky no one cares about and two black men killed by a British capitalist and a G-man, we’d have arrests! What do you think would happen if the tables were turned? If it was three blacks that gunned down you?”

Scott’s skin starts to crawl as red flags are unfurled and the first notes of “The International” are heard over the chants for justice.

          Arise ye workers from your slumbers

          Arise ye prisoners of want

“We don’t have time for this!” shouts Scott. “Get out of our way or I’ll have you arrested!”

The woman spits at the ground next to Scott. He starts shoving through the crowd and the crowd begins to press in. The police press on in response and after much shoving and shouting the three extricate themselves and jump in their car for the funeral procession down to Maspeth Cemetery.


The sky darkens as the procession of cars arrive. Fat drops of frigid rain begin to fall down hard as Jax’s casket is borne to her plot. A ragged bum walks past the gates of the cemetery holding a sign reading “The End is Nigh”. Busses begin to arrive carrying the protesters. A few of the Rainbows remain at the entrance to keep the protesters out. The casket is laid down next to Jax’s empty plot, and the procession gathers round, black umbrellas shielding them from the icy downpour. The Rainbow Division give her a three-volley salute as the casket is lowered into the earth. The rain beats down as soil is tossed into the grave. Neville, Cami and Scott pay their last respects in silence. A proud black marble gravestone sits at the head of the plot.

 

          Jackson “Jax” Elias

          1896 – 1925

 

“Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot,” says the man that was accompanying Abdel to Neville, Scott and Cami as they leave the cemetery.

“You’re picketing a funeral!” seethes Neville. “Of course you got off on the wrong foot. This is no time for politicking.”

“Everything is political,” begins the woman, only to be stopped by the waving hand of the man.

“Listen, we just want to talk. This is Marion Goodhue,” pointing to the woman. “And I’m Sol Rosenberg.” Nasser stands by silently as his associates speak.

“I can think of better places to have a chat,” says Neville sticking his hand out from under his umbrella. “Perhaps we meet at the Waldorf-Astoria after the wake?”

“Right,” agrees Sol. “We’ll be seeing you then.”


The wake is a surprisingly lavish affair. Mayor Walker is there, along with many of the city’s elite. The group spot a man who is so obviously wealthy people are avoiding him.

Neville walks straight up to him and stretches out his hand. “Charles,” he says.

“Sir Neville Wordsworth!” replies media magnate Charles Foster Kane, grasping Neville’s hand with both of his. “Good to see you son. How are you holding up?”

“I’ve seen better days.”

“Yes, it’s terrible business. Listen, I have to thank you for your efforts in all this. I heard you and your friends here foiled that attempt at the New Yorker. And I heard that your butler was left in a terrible condition by the men who no doubt murdered Jax. My condolences are with you.”

“News travels fast with you Kane.”

Kane chuckles, “I’ve made an empire out of knowing things first Neville.”

“Yes, quite. Listen Charles, did she contact you in the lead up to all this?”

“Yes. She asked for money. I asked her to come down to Florida and stay with me, but she refused.” Charles pauses and Neville spots a pang of loss, not just of a friend but of a lover, in Charles’s eyes. Neville chokes down his wounded pride.

Charles continues, “I ended up giving her quite a bit of money.”

Neville chuckles too, “Yes, I ended up spending quite a bit on her too. And the first time I met with her recently, she was dressed as a station boy.”

Charles laughs, “That sounds like our Jackson.”

He raises his glass in a cheers, “To Jackson.”

“To Jackson,” cheers Neville.

“Not that you need the help, but I’m happy to bankroll you to help track down the people who did this. I hear you have friends that are good at this sort of thing,” he eyes Camille and Scott knowingly.

“I appreciate it Charles. Good to see you again.”

 

The group make their way over to the grief stricken old man from the funeral.

“My condolences sir,” says Camille. “We we’re good friends of Jackson’s and we were there with her to the end.”

“Yes, I heard,” says the man in a faltering voice. “I’m very thankful for your efforts. My name is Henry Armitage. Jackson was like a daughter to me.”

He reaches out a shaky hand and greets each of them in turn.

“Did you speak with Jackson recently?” asks Scott.

“Yes, she met up with me. She seemed very afraid and distracted. She went on a bit of a bender when she was in Boston with me. It was sad to see, but I think she felt safe and needed the outlet.”

“Did she mention the people pursuing her?” continues Scott’s line of inquiry.

“No, she didn’t at all. I could tell she was very concerned, but she kept it all very secret, and I let her have that. What do you know about these people?”

“Very little so far,” says Scott, trying to keep as much as he can from Armitage, as Jax’s journal wished. “But we’ve made this an official Bureau investigation.”

“That’s very good. Please do let me know what you find out.”

“We will do. And anything else you can think of, please don’t hesitate to contact me,” Scott hands Armitage his card.

 

The group spots Erica Carlyle and Bradley Grey holding court at a table with a few other guest. When the group approaches, Erica eyes the hangers-on and they depart.

“Erica,” says Neville. “I didn’t expect you to be here.”

“To be honest, I didn’t think I would either. But I have no ill wishes for the dead, despite what a bitch Jackson was in life,” she says with such calm that the impact is even greater.

“What did she do to piss you off so much?” asks Neville, obviously maligned by Erica’s statement.

“She wouldn’t let go about Roger. She kept badgering me and badgering me. She was insatiable. I let my brother go a long time ago. I don’t need it dug up for the sake of another one of her tabloid pieces.”

“She wrote some pretty important books as well,” sneers Camille.

“Yes, I guess so. Well, on the subject of books, stop by my estate tomorrow. I’ll hand those books of Roger’s over to you.”

“Oh. Great,” says Camille, not wanting to push the point too far. “Well we’ll see you tomorrow then.”

 

Across the room sits Jonah Kensington, the owner of Prospero House Publishing, and Jax’s former editor and publisher. He wears a suit slightly more fit for a party than a wake.

“Our condolences,” says Cami. “My name is Camille. This is Neville and Robert.”

“Thank you Camille. Oh yes, Jackson had mentioned you all at one point or another. I’m sorry for you loss also.”

“Thank you,” says Scott. “We’re looking into the people behind Jackson’s murder. Was she in contact with you recently?”

“No, not recently. I got some mail from her from Tanganyika Territory where she said she was onto something big. Something that would make us rich she said,” says Jonah.

“Do you still have the correspondence?” asks Scott.

“Yes I do. You’re more than welcome to come by Prospero House and have a look. I also got a letter relatively recently from Dr Muriel Mwimbe addressed to Jackson care of Prospero House. I believe she’s here tonight actually.”

 

Dr Mwimbe sits by herself at a table observing the gathering. She wears a black dress and spectacles but still manages to look scholarly. The group approach her and introduce themselves.

“Yes, I’ve had some correspondence with Jackson. I’ve been following her work with some interest also.”

“What did you and Jackson speak about? And what exactly is your interest in Jax’s work?” asks Scott.

Muriel explains that Jackson had recently contacted her about some volumes in the Africana collection at the Cornell University Library. The volumes however had recently gone missing from the collection, and Muriel had written to Jackson care of Prospero to let her know. Jackson’s work had been of interest to Muriel as an anthropologist.

“You see,” says Dr Mwimbe, “Jackson’s interest lay in debunking certain myths and cults, some of which are of African origin, my area of expertise. What Jackson was attempting was to apply an enlightenment and dare I say,” she says looking at Neville, “colonial lens to local epistemologies.”

“What’s an epistemology?” asks Scott.

“A system of knowledge,” explains Muriel. “The white western colonial worldview would have you think that there is only one truth; the enlightened rational truth of western science and capitalism. But this is merely one way of understanding the world. There are many worldviews that each explain their own truths in different ways. Jackson was engaged in attacking these Other worldviews to some extent, despite her soft touch compared to many of her contemporaries.”

“Do you think this could have made her some enemies?” asks Neville.

“Enemies willing to hunt her down in the United States? No I don’t think so. Assassinations of international scope of people with differing political views is something usually undertaken by colonial governments, not subaltern people, wouldn’t you say?”

“We got your name from Emerson at Emerson Imports,” says Cami. “He said you are an expert in African art objects. We recently came into possession of an item that perhaps you could take a look at?”

“What item would that be?” asks Muriel.

“It’s an ibis-headed dagger,” explains Cami.

Muriel’s eyes light up. “The one sold at Sotheby’s just recently? You’re the people who purchased it.”

The group look at each other somewhat uneasily.

“Yes, I have it,” says Neville.

“I would very much like to have a look over it.”

“What is the dagger? A contact of mine told me it can kill a god?” asks Cami

“Yes, that is indeed what some people think. The people of the Nile valley believe that the Dagger of Thoth, Thoth being the ibis-headed Egyptian god of knowledge, can kill the Black Wind, or at least banish it for some time.”

“What is the Black Wind?”

“A trickster deity, albeit somewhat more malignant than tricksters of other mythologies. It is known in Egypt and other parts of Africa. I’d be happy to have a look at the dagger for you and discuss this more in my office at Colombia tomorrow, if that suits?”

“You work on Saturdays?” asks Camille.

“There’s not a lot of rest for a black female academic Camille. A lot of proving one’s worth,” smiles Dr Mwimbe.


Scott suggests that it would be a bad idea for a Bureau agent to be meeting with communists, and leaves for the Bureau office before the meeting with Nasser, Goodhue and Rosenberg. Cooper is putting the finishing touches on the report of Jackson’s journal and hands it to Scott. The report is thorough, and pays particular attention to Jackson’s possible linguistic aphasia. Moreover he verifies certain events documented in the journal that occurred overseas, but does not commit to the idea of a conspiracy.

“Scott, I went and checked out this Dr Robert Huston’s practice. The office was burned out.”

“Arson?” asks Scott?

“Yeah, we’re treating it as such. These are the files I managed to get. The Crime Lab is trying to piece together the rest.”

Scott flicks though the burned documents of Houston’s sessions with Roger Carlyle. Roger talks about his dreams, and also the black woman mentioned in Jackson’s journal.

“Oh and Scott?” Coop gets Scott’s attention. “I couldn’t keep this out of the higher-ups hands.”

“What do you mean?”

“The journal went over too many desks. I couldn’t keep it quiet. Hoover wants to speak to us.”

“I can’t leave New York right now Coop.”

“He’s here. Upstairs. He told me to bring you in once you arrived.”

Scott and Cooper make their way upstairs and head into an office with a newly mounted door plaque reading ‘J. Edgar Hoover, Director’. Behind a desk in the smoky room sits a man in his early thirties, thin, fit and with a flat nose like a boxer’s. In front of him is Jackson’s journal, which he closes.

“Scott, Cooper, take a seat,” Hoover gestures for some chairs. “Now Scott I think you know why you’re here.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Now I appreciate the fact that you may have believed this case and this journal may have been insubstantial,” Scott nods. “But this is not the type of thing to keep from the official channels of the Bureau.”

“You believe the investigation has some merit?” asks Scott.

“Very much so. This is a matter of national security. Now as a gesture of my goodwill, I’m putting you and Cooper on the case. This is now part of Project Commandment. Follow this wherever it takes you. We’ll give you as much support when you’re abroad as possible. I’ll be expecting regular reports directly to me.”

“Yes sir,” says Scott. “Is that all sir?”

“Yes,” says Hoover as he passes Scott the journal.


Back at the Waldorf-Astoria Neville invites the newly arrived Sol, Marion and Abdel to his signature suite. Marion snorts at the opulence of the lodgings.

“Well, where to begin?” asks Neville.

“You can start by admitting you murdered those men and that you’re in charge of this white slavery ring,” says Marion.

“I can do neither of those two things because they aren’t the truth. Those men were attacking Jackson Elias and we defended her and ourselves. Let’s not turn this into another shouting match.”

Sol adopts a lighter tone, trying to calm Marion. “It seems a little convenient that you happened to be in the same place at the same time as an attempted murder, don’t you think?”

Camille pipes in, “We had good reason to think that Jackson was being followed, so we followed her to the hotel. When we got there, we saw those men in the lobby and headed up to her room to find her. The rest you know from the papers.”

Marion points a finger at Neville, “Admit it! You’re the spider in the middle of this web of intrigue!”

Neville scoffs at Marion while Sol and Abdel turn to look at her. Her face flushes. “I admit that maybe that might be going a little too far.”

“What do you want from us?” asks Neville. “As we told you, we were defending Jackson and ourselves. This wasn’t motivated by race or class.”

“We need action from the authorities,” says Sol.

“Like what?” asks Camille. “We’ve already spoken with the police and they didn’t need to detain us.”

“But you know how bad this looks,” says Abdel. “We’ve got a lot of angry people out there. This isn’t just this incident. This is about every time this kind of thing happens; the whites just walk away.”

“Yes,” agrees Sol. “And it’s not just coloured people. My people have been persecuted throughout history, and what do you think happens when a Jewish place of business or synagogue is vandalised? Nothing.”

“Well perhaps we need to take this up with the police,” states Neville. “As we said, we want justice too, and we’re willing to cooperate.”

“Perhaps we had the wrong impression of you Neville. After all, you didn’t bring that Government man along,” says Marion. “Would you be willing to make a donation to the Communist Party of the United States of America as a gesture of goodwill?”

Neville sighs.


Scott meets the pair back at the Waldorf-Astoria.

“How’d the meeting with the Reds go?” he asks snidely.

Neville shakes his head in response. “Enough about that. It’s been a big day. Now I say we get a little bit of rest. I’ve got a treat for us tonight. It’s the opening night of a new opera at the Metropolitan. I’d like you both to come along.”

“You’re not serious are you?” asks Camille.

“Yes. I am. Barty tells me it’s a newly discovered opera, one that has been banned by the Vatican for centuries. This will be the first time it had been shown, and the very cream of New York society will be there. I think we deserve one good night considering everything that has gone on, and I feel like this may be our last chance to enjoy New York for quite some time. I expect you both to dress for the occasion,” finishes Neville as he raises an eyebrow at the two.

“Banned by the Vatican?” asks Camille. “I’m curious, but I don’t think this is going to be a restful night. And I’m not wearing a dress.”

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Episode 1: The Return of Jackson Elias, Part 3

Evening, Tuesday, 17th of February, 1925.

A short drive down 8th and up 30th brings the ambulance to French Hospital. Jax’s cart is crashed through the doors into emergency, and is immediately taken into intensive care. Neville sits and paces fitfully for what seems like an eternity before a doctor emerges and approaches him.

“Your friend is stable,” says the doctor. “You can visit her in her room now, but try not to disturb her. She needs rest.”

Looking over her charts as he would do in the medical tents in the Great War, Neville can see that her condition is very bad. She’s still critical, and was given two units of blood over the past few hours. Furthermore, he discovers that while the knife caused significant damage, she had suffered a heart attack shortly before being stabbed.


Back at the New Yorker, Scott and Camille secret away Jax’s journal, one of the tribal masks, and any other evidence pertinent to their investigation. They take note of the very peculiar tattoos on each of the men’s inner forearms. The Detective Coughlin and the police arrive shortly.

“What’s this mess then Scott?” barks Coughlin.

Scott grasps for a reason to keep the police at arm’s length. “This is officially the Bureau’s business now Coughlin. This was no run of the mill attempted murder. This is part of my ongoing investigation now.”

“What, you think this is some kind of white slavery ring? There’s no booze here, so you need some reason for this to be your work, not ours Scott,” says Coughlin knowingly.

“Well we’ve got a woman critically wounded and three men who have attempted to murder her in a ritualistic fashion. Make what you will of it Coughlin, I’m calling this one in.”

Scott makes the call through to Cooper and the Bureau sends its agents down.


Back at the hospital Neville hasn’t left Jax’s side. Barty has arrived with his valaise filled changes of clothes for both the men and his trusty sawn-off. Cami and Scott arrive in short order.

“You need to have a look at this,” says Cami, handing Neville Jax’s journal.

Neville begins to flip through.

I’ve destroyed all my notes except what I sent on to Jonah — I’d tell him to destroy those papers as well but he might be tempted to read them.

Can’t put anyone else in danger…

“Perhaps we can sit outside in the hall and go through this…” says Neville.

The four take seats in the hall and begin to go through Jackson’s journal. The pages are dated from 10th of October 1924 through the 16th of February 1925. While researching the Carlyle expedition, she had spent the last quarter of 1924 in Shanghai, Singapore, and Cairo. She visited Paris for the month of December, before sneaking back into the United States via London and the Irish Free State. She writes constantly about being followed by mysterious figures who do not hesitate to kill people to get to her. Her writing becomes increasingly paranoid and desperate as the journal reaches the present.

Also found in the waterproof sleeve are a series of newspaper articles from the New York Pillar/Riposte reporting the Carlyle expedition, subsequent massacre, and Erica Carlyle’s follow up. Furthermore, there is a set of photographs, one depicting a steam ship with junks in the background, and five portraits of the Carlyle expedition principals with names marked on the back; Roger, Penhew, Houston, Hypatia, and Brady. There is a sixth photograph if a young woman with “Vanessa” written on the back. Digging deeper, the group find a letter from a Faraz Najar of Cairo to Roger Carlyle, and two business cards. One is for an Edouard Gavigan, director of the Fondation Aubrey Penhew in Paris. The second is for Emerson Imports, a business in New York. Written on the back in Jax’s handwriting is the name “Silas N’Kwame”.

“This is a lot to go on,” comments Neville.

“What’s all this about being pursued by a cult?” asks Scott, “Do you think it’s the same people form the hotel room? Or do you think she was just suffering from paranoid delusions?”

“Did you read that bit about the sphinx at the Paris Opera? She’s clearly not with it entirely,” replies Cami. Neville stays silent as Scott and Cami discuss Jax’s state of mental health and the possibility of the conspiracy.

Holding the journal, Scott says “I’d like to turn this over to the Bureau, see what they can figure out.”

Cami fixes Scott with a glare “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Jax went to a lot of trouble to keep us in the dark as much as possible. I don’t think we should be spreading this stuff around, in respect for her as much as anything else.”

“I’ll just hand it over to Coop, get him to keep it off the books,” replies Scott.

“Do it,” says Neville. “But make sure we get it back.”

“So should we look into these leads? Emerson Imports is the only one in the U.S.” says Cami.

“I’m going to arrange for some protection for Jax and drop off the journal,” states Scott. “I’ll get some of Coughlin’s best men to keep an eye on her. We should get some rest and meet at Emerson’s in the morning.”

“I’ll stay with her too, sir,” says Barty. Neville nods to him.


Wednesday, 18th of February, 1925.

Cami and Neville wait outside Emerson Imports in the repaired Studebaker. Neville smokes nervously and keeps watch on the door. The business looks like a legitimate enterprise down on the piers of the Hudson. A well maintained Model T parks behind Neville’s car. Scott walks out, taps on the window of Neville’s car and the three make their way into Emerson Imports, Neville grinding out his cigarette under his shoe before entering.

A middle aged gentleman sits at a desk littered with ledger books and looks up at the three.

“What can I do for you?” he asks.

“Emerson I presume?” begins Scott. The man nods. “I’m Agent Robert Scott, these are my associates Camille and Neville.” Emerson raises an eyebrow and puts down his pen. “We think a friend of ours might have dropped by here recently; a woman in her late twenties, short blonde hair, about yea high,” he gestures with his hand.

“Hmm, yeah actually I remember her,” says Emerson, smiling. “A girl like that doesn’t come through here without turning some heads.”

“What did she ask about?” asks Cami.

“She was looking into some African artefacts. I’ll tell you what I told her. Most of the stuff I sell onto this place called the Juju House down in the Bronx. Run by a [racial slur] named Silas N’Kwame.”

Scott fingers the business card in his pocket. “What kind of stuff do you sell him?”

“Mostly tribal stuff, you know, stuffed animals, statuettes, spears, shields, masks, that kinda stuff. Nothing of any real value,” replies Emerson.

“And what does he do with the artefacts?” asks Scott.

“Sells them on I guess,” says Emerson. “I don’t really ask too many questions, I’m just a middle man at the end of the day. The stuff I sell him is just tribal junk for white liberal types to go and buy while they’re slumming it in the Bronx to make their lofts look cultured. But the real cultural artefacts, I know who to pass them onto. I get this [racial and gender slur] over at Cornell to look over the decent stuff and I pass that onto auction.”

“And you said this to Jackson too?” asks Neville. Emerson nods. “What’s this Cornell woman’s name?”

“Dr Muriel Mwimbe. She’s an anthropologist and professor of Africa studies or something. Now will that be all? I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“We’ll be in touch,” finishes Scott as the trio leave.


After motoring up to Harlem, the trio sit inside their cars staking out the Juju House. Scott picks up a newspaper from a nearby vendor.

WHITE SLAVERY RING BROKEN UP IN HOTEL, screams the headline. ASSASSINS FOILED IN MIDTOWN.

Emerson was right about the clientele. A few African-Americans stop by but don’t leave with any packages. Young white professionals and university students leave with smiles on their faces and brown paper packages under their arms.

“Can’t hurt to have a look around inside I guess,” says Cami.

The shop’s busy displays are stacked will all manner of African art objects, like Emerson mentioned; spears, shields, necklaces, statues, masks. A certain mask takes the group’s eyes. It looks very similar to the masks Jax’s assailants were wearing the night before.

“What can I help you with today?” speaks an elderly African-American man, balding on the top of his head with tufts of white at the sides. He wears a nice suit, clearly doing well with the business he is generating. The three notice a key hung round the man’s neck on a necklace.

“Silas, is it? We’re very interested in these masks,” says Cami.

“Oh yes, they’re… Hey, wait, you’re those three from the papers. You murdered those boys.” says Silas accusingly.

Neville fumes. “We did not murder them. They were attempting to murder a friend of ours. We had to stop them.”

“They were good boys,” says Silas. “Members of my church. I do not believe you had to kill them.”

“Where is this church of yours?” asks Scott.

“It’s not in one place, not like a white church. Our church moves around,” Silas’s says as his eyes dart to a corner of the rug on the floor. Cami follows Silas’s eyes and notices a corner of the rug seems less dusty than the rest, like it is pulled back often.

“The church wouldn’t be down there right now, would it Silas?” asks Cami, pointing to the corner of the rug.

“No, that’s just my basement. I keep more stock down there,” replies Silas. “I don’t think you’re interested in buying anything today, just picking on another black man. I think you should leave.”

“On the contrary,” says Neville slyly. “We’d be very interested in having a look at the stock in your basement.”

“Nothing down there is for sale. Now I really must insist you leave,” Silas states sternly.

“And I insist,” says Scott as he flips the ‘Open’ sign in the door to ‘Closed’, “that you show us what is in that basement,” he continues as he removes his badge and gun.

“Well if that’s how you want to play it, let’s go take a look.”

Silas pulls back the corner of the mat, revealing a basement door built into the floor. He grabs a nearby kerosene lantern and opens up the door. It is pitch black inside. Leading with the lantern he begins to step down, followed by Scott, Neville and Cami. There seems to be strange markings on the old stone steps, possibly symbols, or just natural wear in the stones, it’s hard to tell. At the end of the long run of stairs, they come to a heavy timber and iron door.

Silas looks back at the group, “Are you sure you want to see what’s in here?” he asks.

“Just open the door old man,” says Neville.

Silas pushes the door open into a large space filled with inky darkness. There is the faint smell of rot and decay coming from somewhere in this obviously ancient chamber. At the edges of the light the lantern casts the group can just barely make out that one side of the room is completely covered by a heavy iron plate. It is attached to a pulley system against the wall, almost like a lid. Immediately as their attention is focussed on the plate, Silas pitches the lantern into the middle of the floor, between him and the group. As the glass smashes and the kerosene splatters on the stonework, lighting up the room, Silas dashes for a set of curtains on the opposite wall and disappears into them.

“Silas!” shouts Scott with his weapon trained on the curtains. “Come out!”

They hear a laugh from Silas, and then a groan, more like air escaping from a body than a vocal movement, as some thing steps out from the curtains. A rotting, decayed man shambles into view, his horrid chalky face lit up by the fire. In fear Scott begins to fire his gun, immediately deafening the party, round after round blowing off desiccated chunks of the man, yet still he continues as their ears whine. As Cami draws her weapon, a second withered corpse of a man steps past the curtains. Cami empties the chambers of her revolver into the thing to much the same effect, bits of bone and flesh flying off like plaster. Neville pulls out his hipflask of 90 proof gin and pours it on the ground between him and the creatures, adding to the fire. In a few steps one of the men ignites, the room filling with the gruesome stench of burning flesh.

The curtain flutters again and Neville feels a horrible pain across his ribs. He looks down and a huge slash has been rent across his chest. He can feel the hot breath of a nearby presence, but can’t see anyone. He slashes wildly at the air next to him, but doesn’t make contact. Cami and Scott continue to fire on the dead men, with a third now walking towards them. The one on fire crumples to the ground to burn, a thick black smoke now filling the chamber.

Behind them they hear the dull sound of the door slam shut and turn to see the crank for the machinery turning of its own volition. The metal plate slowly starts to rise up and even over the ringing in their ears a terrifying screeching fills the chamber, emanating from the pit being opened. It sounds as though hundreds of tortured people are crying out in pain and longing and hunger. The screams seem to bypass their ringing ears and can be heard deep inside their minds. While Scott continues to blast the approaching dead, Cami turns and fires on the source of whatever is turning the crank. Bullets ricochet harmlessly off walls and machinery, but a tiny spurt of blood flies out near the crank.

Neville charges for the crank, removing his jacket and diving on where he saw the blood. He makes contact with a body and tackles it to the ground, wrapping it up in his jacket. The screaming from the pit seems to be rising and rising and now the crank is moving of its own volition, even with their invisible assailant pinned to the ground. Wasting no time, Neville draws back his swordcane and drives it deep into the writhing coat underneath him.

Scott concentrates fire on the closest walking dead and puts round after round into its head, blowing off dry flakes of skull and brain until its head wears away and it slumps to the ground. The third creature lunges at him and pulls him to the ground, latching its teeth onto his arm as the two fall down. Scott kicks at the thing desperately trying to remove it and tries to scream out for help over the ringing and screaming. Having reloaded her gun, Cami approaches and with determination begins blowing away its head with her firearm at point blank range, stopping the thing.

Neville jumps on the crank to stop its motion and screams over the din for the others to help. They rush to his aid and with their combined effort close the lid of the pit. Neville rushes to the struggling jacket on the floor and kicks at the thing, dislodging a hideous mask from Silas’s face, returning him to visibility.

“What is this place old man?” shouts Neville as he touches his blade to Silas’s chest and rips the key from his neck, passing it to Cami.

Silas sputters from a sucking chest wound. Blood dribbles from his mouth, “This is our church.”

“A church to whom?” Neville sneers.

Silas chuckles, blood still dripping from his lips. Silas grins, “The Bloody Tongue will have you.”

Enraged Neville drives his sword through Silas’s heart. The man’s eyes go wide in shock and he slumps to the ground. Neville plants his shoe on the man’s chest and coolly removes the blade from his chest and wipes the blood off onto the deceased man’s clothes.

“Jesus Neville, you didn’t have to kill him,” says Camille.

“He was a lunatic and I’m not taking chances with anyone related to Jax’s assailants,” Neville says, composed.

“We have to clean this up,” says Scott, looking at Silas’s corpse, and then at the broken, desiccated now charred and smouldering bodies. “Give the place a once over. I’ll be right back. Then we need to get to a hospital,” he finishes, looking at Neville’s wound.

Scott heads outside to his car and begins siphoning off fuel into a jerry can. Neville checks the ledger books upstairs. It seems very much like a legitimate business. He picks up the ledger and stows it under one arm, wincing in pain. Downstairs, Camille takes Silas’s mask and places it in her bag. Stepping over the corpses and through the curtains, she finds a book siting on a stone plinth. She reads its title, Africa’s Dark Sects, as she places it in her bag.

Scott returns downstairs with jerry can full of petrol which he starts pouring it over Silas and the dead men. “Time to get out of here,” he says to Cami as he douses the curtains and starts leaving a trail up the stairs as they exit the basement. After a few light splashes around the shop, Scott throws the jerry can down the stairs. Taking out a cigarette and placing it in his mouth, he strikes a match and draws deeply on the smoke. He exhales smoke as he flicks the match down the basement stairs and saunters out of the shop into the cold New York air.

Starting up their cars, black smoke begins to pour out of the Juju House. As they motor away there’s a loud pop as something explodes in the building, shattering the front windows. People run out onto the street, hands on their heads, watching the blaze. A few tough customers take certain note of a couple of cars being driven by whites leaving the scene.


Back at French Hospital, Neville has his wounds bandaged. They’re deep, but not serious and he’s given leave of the hospital immediately. Before he has the chance to go, the doctor who attended Jax approaches him.

“We’ve been trying to contact you. I’m afraid I have some terrible news…” he says

“What’s happened to her? Good God man! Spit it out.” says Neville, worry creasing his face.

“That’s just it. She’s gone. Those two officers are dead and your friend Bartholomew has been hospitalised.

“Where is he?” shouts Neville.

Scott and Camille spend some time getting the story from the doctors while Neville sits at the unconscious Bartholomew’s side. There was a power outage that dropped out the lights at the hospital. When the power came back on the two officers on Jax’s guard duty were found dead in the hall with their throats slit and no signs of a struggle. Bartholomew was found beaten into a bloody unconscious pulp in Jax’s room, with Jax nowhere to be seen.

Neville can’t be removed from Barty’s side. He sits there with welled up eyes, sipping from his hipflask, his swordcane propped up against his chair. Scott tries to get information on the murders and abductees with the help of the police, but the only lead is that the staff can remember seeing a group of men enter the hospital before the power outage, and then weren’t seen leaving.

Camille decides to get some rest, and heads to her aunts place for handmade butter croissants and pinot nior. Scott checks in with the Bureau and chases up on the journal with Coop. He’s handed it over to his best and trusted men: psychoanalysts, linguists, anthropologists and occult experts, all on the Bureau dime. It will still be some time until the report is completed. Scott heads down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the early afternoon for confession with Father Ted O’Malley. He makes his way home after and drinks himself to sleep.


Thursday, 18th of February, 1925.

In the morning, Camille and Scott meet up with Neville and Barty in the hospital. Barty’s condition hasn’t changed. He has multiple broken ribs, but the internal bleeding has stopped, and the doctors think he will make a full recovery in time. Neville however is worse for wear. He hasn’t slept and he’s drunk himself into a stupor.

Detective Coughlin knocks on the door to Barty’s room. Scott opens the door for him.

“Scott,” he says. “Camille. Neville,” he nods at each in turn. “Scott, I’ve got some bad news. We found Jax. Her body washed up on Long Island Sound early this morning…”

Coughlin pauses for a moment as the shock sets in to their faces. Tears begin to stream from Neville’s eyes as he whispers “No.” The rest are silent for some time.

“I’ll need you to come downstairs and identify the body,” Coughlin sighs.

Neville turns away to face Barty and swigs from his flask. Scott and Camille follow Coughlin to the morgue.

On the slab lays Jackson Elias, her chart reads Eliza Louise Olney. Her eyes are closed. Her hair is slick and her skin is white and blue and slightly wrinkled from the water. Camille hurriedly exits the viewing area, crying and biting back a wail. Scott confirms with Coughlin that it is indeed the body of Jackson Elias. He refuses to use her other name.

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Episode 1: The Return of Jackson Elias, Part 2

Tuesday, 17th of February, 1925.

Neville, Barty, Robert and Cami meet for breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, where Neville is currently lodged. Placing down the newspaper he’s reading over an orange juice and gin, Neville clears his throat.

“Ahem, perhaps I should call Erica ahead of our meeting. I don’t think she’s going to be too chuffed by the fact that we’re all going to the meeting.”

Scott, Camille and Barty look up at Neville from their bacon and eggs in silence. “Well then,” he concludes as he begins to rise from his chair.

Before he can stand, a waiter interjects. “Neville Wordsworth? There’s a call for you.”

“Well, who is it then?”

“Uh, she wouldn’t give her name sir,” sheepishly replies the waiter.

Camille looks around at the group. “I think we all know who that’s going to be.”

Neville rises and heads to the phone. “Jax?”

“Freddie.”

“What is it Jax?”

“I’m going to meet you at 3pm at the Waldorf to come to the meeting with Erica.”

Neville pauses for a moment. “So all four of us will be there then?”

“I guess so.”

“Do you think Erica will mind?”

“Probably. I don’t think she likes me too much. Maybe don’t mention it.”

“What’s going on Jax?”

“I need to ask Erica some questions about Vanessa.”

“Vanessa? Who’s Vanessa?”

“I’ll see you at 3 Freddie.” The phone clicks and Neville is left with silence.

Neville hangs up the call and asks the operator to be put through to Erica Carlyle’s estate. After receiving the run-around by Erica’s staff, a prudent and sure voice introduces himself to Neville as Bradley Grey, Erica’s lawyer.

“Now I’m sorry you couldn’t speak directly with Erica, but she is very busy. What can I help you with?” asks Grey.

“Well, I just thought I should inform Erica that my associates Scott and Camille will be joining us for the meeting this afternoon.” Neville hears shuffling of papers on the other side of the line.

Grey responds, “Alright then, just as long as there’s not going to be any trouble for Miss Carlyle.”

“No trouble at all, Mr. Grey.”

“Well then, we’ll be seeing you at 4.”

Neville returns to the table. “It was Jax, she’s going to be coming with us to Erica’s.”

“And what did Erica say?” asks Scott.

“I didn’t get to speak to her. I got her lawyer, Bradley Grey. Say, Barty, what do we know about Grey?”

 “Sir? Mr. Grey has given us quite a lot of legal service, we’re well acquainted,” replies Batholomew.

Neville eyes Barty quizzically. “I don’t remember meeting him. What kind of work has he done for us?”

“Sir, he’s helped us with quite a few corporate undertakings, as well as… cleaning up after certain…  benders, sir.”

“Hmm, very well then. What do we make of the man, Barty?”

“He’s a good man, sir. A good lawyer.”

Camille eyes Bartholomew. “A good man, or a good lawyer? You can’t have both”

“Ah. A good lawyer Miss.”

The group then have a discussion about Roger Carlyle and the expedition. Bartholomew is a font of information, and is able to provide them with as much, if not more detail than the society papers and the reports of the expedition’s massacre could.

Scott pushes his meal forwards. “I have to check in with the Bureau. I’m still on their dime. I might also get them to check on this ibis headed dagger for us. I’ll meet you at Sotheby’s at 10.”

Scott takes his leave and heads out into the cold February snow. He autos his way to the Bureau office downtown. Purposefully, he makes his way towards his desk and sits down. His partner, Agent David Cooper, spins round on his swivel chair to meet Scott’s gaze.

“Scott.”

“Coop.”

“What’s this mess you yourself got into night before last?” asks Cooper.

“I was helping a friend out with a little stakeout. Things got a little sour on the Queensboro Bridge. I’m sure you heard.”

“I did. Coughlin sounds pissed. Is there anything I should be helping you with Scott?”

“Well, now that you mention it, I need you to look into an ibis-headed dagger that’s being sold at Sotheby’s today.”

“An ibis-headed dagger? What’s that got to do with? Is this part of an investigation?”

“No Coop, I need you to keep this one off the books. Please just look into it for me. I’ll bring you in once I know what’s going on.”

“Alright Scott, I’ll look into it. You take care of yourself, alright?”

“Will do Coop. Thanks.”

 

Down at Sotheby’s Neville, Barty, Scott and Cami arrive just in time for the auction. The crowd is mostly rich playboys and society matrons; however there is a contingent of short Chinese men, all identically dressed in black suits and bowler hats. Surprisingly, they don’t bid on any Chinese artefacts. They only start bidding when the ibis-headed dagger comes up.

“Pre-dynastic Egyptian dagger, in wonderful condition. Do I hear $10,000?”

Neville nods at Barty, who raises his paddle. “$10,000,” he says surely.

“$10,000, going once. Going twice. Going – “

“$15,000,” says one of the bowler-hatted men.

“Sir?” asks Barty. Neville nods. “$20,000!”

“$21,000!” exclaims Bowler Hat.

Neville nods. Barty raises the paddle again. “$22,000.”

“… uh… $22,500.”

Neville takes the paddle from Bartholomew. “$25,000.”

“$25,000, going once, going twice… Sold, to the gentlemen in the back.”

The auction ends with Wordsworth victorious, and the bowler hatted contingent departs in a huff. Camille stands and discreetly follows the men to the entrance. Peering out a window, she sees them enter two black cars parked near the building. Wordsworth makes some bids on other useless items to make them look as though they weren’t only after the dagger. Once all the lots have been cried, Neville, Bartholomew and Scott make their way to the loading dock where they receive a small enamelled box containing the dagger. Barty swings the car around into the loading bay and begins to load up their merchandise.

Cami becomes increasingly nervous about the fact the bowler hatted men have not yet left. Heading back to the loading bay, she informs the others as much.

“Maybe Scott and I should take the dagger on foot,” says Cami, looking at Neville. “You and Barty take the car and draw them off.”

“Very well,” agrees Neville as he and Barty climb into the Bearcat. Barty reverses hard into the street, slamming the brakes just in time to narrowly avoid hitting an approaching car. Barty steps on the gas as nearby traffic begin to sound their horns in confusion and anger. Watching from their vantage point at a window at the front of the building, Scott and Cami can see the two black cars pull off in pursuit of Neville and Barty.

Barty engages in evasive manoeuvres, madly switching lanes at the last minute to make unpredictable turns. Cars swerve up onto gutters and into telegraph poles in response, the sounds of horns trailing in Barty’s wake. After a few minutes of mostly driving round in circles, Barty slows down and resumes his typical responsible driving. After driving straight for a few blocks, all the while watching the rear view mirror, Barty turns to Neville and says, “Sir, I think we lost them.”

Just as Neville begins to speak, a black car comes screeching out of an alley and slams into the passenger side of the Bearcat. The driver and passenger are stunned senseless as a second car comes to a halt in front of their vehicle. Four bowler hatted men pour from the cars and surround the Bearcat. Three draw pistols while one sticks a sawn off double barrelled shotgun in Barty’s face. Looking at Neville, he shouts “Give us the dagger!”

“Good lord, whatever are you talking about?” asks Neville.

More deliberate this time, in his slightly broken English, “Give us the dagger.”

“I’m still not sure what you’re talking about.”

The man with the shotgun collars Barty and places the shotgun against his temple. “We’re not playing around. Give us the dagger.”

“Good god man, we don’t have it!” shouts Barty, his forehead wet with perspiration.

“Get out of the car, you’re coming with us.” Neville and Barty are wrenched from the vehicle, Neville grabbing his sword cane before exiting and pretending to need it to walk. They’re practically dragged into the other vehicles and bailed up inside.

The man with the sawn off leans over the back of the front passenger seat and levels the gun at Neville. “Where’s the dagger?”

“Well we don’t just go driving around with $25,000 pre-Dynastic artefacts, do we? We left it back at Sotheby’s to be delivered to us.”

“Who has the dagger now?” asks Bowler Hat.

“Uh, I’m not sure. It’s being arranged for delivery.”

“We’ll make you talk Gwailo.”

Neville and Barty are driven south to a nondescript warehouse in Chinatown with blacked out windows. Crates and pallets inscribed with Chinese letters are stacked in precarious fashion around the warehouse floor. Once the loading bay doors are closed, Neville and Barty are dragged towards two waiting chairs under a single incandescent globe, the only source of light. Neville pretends to struggle as he walks with his sword cane, but it is quickly knocked from his hand whilst he is dragged along.

Bound by rope to the chairs by the goons, the leader strides into the dull glow of the light, drawing on a cigarette.

“Tell us where the dagger is Neville.”

“I already told you, we left it at Sotheby’s.”

“Why don’t I believe you?” asks the man, his face shadowed from the light behind him. He clicks his fingers and two brutish bowler hatted man step forward from the darkness. One grabs the back of Barty’s chair, while the other begins to pummel him.

“I’ll ask you again Gwailo, where’s the dagger?” continues the shadowed man, cracking his knuckles. Flat, hard, packing sounds of punches being laid into Barty are heard to Neville’s right.

“How many times do I need to say it?” shouts Neville, infuriated now. “It’s back at Sotheby’s!”

The shadowed man makes a short punch that connects with Neville’s solar plexus hard. He chokes back on his air, suddenly winded.

The shadowed man draws on his cigarette. “We’ve still got men at the auction house. If it’s there, we’ll find it. If not, we use you as a ransom. I’m sure we’ll find your friends at the Waldorf…” He drops his cigarette and grinds it under his black brogues. He steps away from the light and heads to a loft near the rear of the warehouse where lights can be seen behind dusty Venetian blinded office windows.

Barty pulls himself out of his slump and looks up at his two assailants, now standing in the darkness, their menacing expressions lit up by the cigarette they are sharing.

Neville turns to Bartholomew, “Are you alright Barty?”

“It’s nothing compared to the Hun,” he says, licking blood from his lips. “What are we going to do now, sir? We still have the meeting with Erica in a few hours.”

Speaking French, Neville replies, “I’m working at these ropes with my cufflinks. I think I’m making some progress.”

“Very good sir,” Barty replies in French.

 

Meanwhile, back at Sotheby’s, Scott suggests they make a call to Coop. Before he and Camille can be lead by the auctioneer to a phone, the front door bursts open and three bowler hatted men enter the lobby. One of the men points at Camille and Scott and shouts something in Cantonese. Two of the men begin to bolt towards the pair. Scott removes his Bureau of Investigation badge and draws his M1911A and levels it at the running men.

“Stop! Federal Agent!” he shouts. The two men pause momentarily, while the third man continues to shout in Cantonese. While the two men continue to flounder, the third man draws a revolver.

“Drop the weapon!” shouts Scott.

The man at the doorway levels his weapon at Scott.

“Stop, or I’ll shoot!” Scott manages to shout as a loud report fills the lobby. Scott is struck by a bullet in his left shoulder. Backing up and wildly returning fire, Scott takes cover in a doorway as Cami bolts for the phone. The two running men continue their pursuit, while the third man makes his way towards cover. Scott pops out from the doorframe and levels his .45 at the first runner. He squeezes off three rounds in short succession. Months of target practice on mobsters in the Treasury department has honed his shooting; two centre mass and the third to the head. The man collapses in a shower of blood. Unable to change his momentum in time, the second running man topples over his now prostrate accomplice.

Shots continue from the armed Bowler Hat, spraying splinters of timber from the door frame into the air around Scott. Scott returns fire on the man who is now diving for cover, but neither shot lands home as he begins to reload. Cami makes the call to the police, playing the damsel in distress and not giving away her name. Expertly, Scott jams another magazine into the Colt and swings round the door frame to see the toppled man has righted himself, pulled a knife, and his running full pelt towards Scott. Taking time to line up the shot, Scott squeezes the trigger and sends a .45 into his head, killing him instantly. The third man’s eyes go wide in shock as he wildly fires his weapon at Scott while making a mad dash for the door. Scott begins pursuit, wincing from the pain in his shoulder.

Now outside, the wailing of sirens can be heard in the distance as Bowler Hat crashes into pedestrians while charging away down the street. Badge in one hand and M1911A in the other, Scott madly chases after him. Before too long the pain in his shoulder, or possibly the lifetime of whiskey and cigarettes catch up with him and Bowler Hat is long gone. By the time he returns to Sotheby’s, the place is surrounded by police cars.

Detective John Coughlin stands next to Cami.

“Well if it isn’t fuckin’ Agent Scott again. What’s wrong with you?” sprays Coughlin.

“Coughlin. This is official —” Scott gasps out as he is cut off by Coughlin.

“Yeah, yeah, Bureau business. Whatever. I’ve got two unarmed corpses here. What the fuck are you doing? I should just arrest you right now!”

“Coughlin! Listen to me. The third man, the one who ran, he pulled a gun on us. I showed him my badge and gave him ample warning to drop his weapon before he fired,” explains Scott, pointing to his shoulder. “I returned fire once I was fired upon. And these men weren’t unarmed,” continues Scott, kicking a switchblade towards Coughlin.

“Fuckin’ hell Scott, it’s every 8 hours with you. You’re killing me. The doctor’s got me on these blood pressure tablets now, I swear to God it’s because of you,” Coughlin’s flushed ruddy face begins to calm. “Listen, go get yourself fixed up by the medics. I’ll take care of this.”

Camille doesn’t wait around. With the dagger in her satchel, she rides a taxi back to the Waldorf and assumes a disguise. She sips a soda water and watches the entrance.

After getting patched up, Scott calls Coop.

“What have you got Coop?”

“Well Sotheby’s was pretty tight lipped. They reckon there’s a clause on the sale of the dagger that the previous owner is to stay anonymous. I’m getting a warrant drawn up and I’ll let you know what I find once I find it. Less specifically, I’ve hit the books and if it is an Egyptian dagger, the ibis-head is probably a representation of Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of knowledge. Beyond that, I haven’t really figured anything else out. I’ll keep looking into it for you.”

“Thanks Coop,” sighs Scott at the lack of information. “Say, you should probably come down to Sotheby’s. I’m reporting this one officially. Just got into a shootout with some Tongs.”

“Jeez, are you alright Scott?”

“Yeah, took a bullet to the shoulder, but it’s only a flesh wound.”

“Damn, alright. I’ll get down there shortly.”

 

Back at the warehouse in Chinatown, Neville has made his way through his ties. While the guards aren’t looking, he shuffles towards Barty and unties the binds. Both try to look indubious.

“What’s the plan then, sir?” asks Barty.

“I say we charge them. It’ll be just like Passchendaele.”

“Right you are, sir.”

Barty and Neville rise from their chairs, Barty scooping up his chair in an overhead fashion. Neville leans down mid charge and picks up his cane, drawing the sword and tossing the sheath in one quick action. Both of them scream their war cries and fall on the enemy position. Neville leading with his sword outstretched, the large butler taking up the rear, clumsily bringing the chair to bare. They can almost smell the cordite and feel the dull thuds of a walking barrage as they fall on the two dumbstruck bowler hats, a limp cigarette falling from a gaping mouth. Neville runs his sword through the gut of the first man, while Barty crashes the chair down hard on the man’s neck, splintering timber with a loud crack. The second man goes to pull a revolver but is foiled by the swing of Neville’s sword, a huge laceration opening up on the forearm he brought up to defend the blow. In an equally deft one-two, Barty clocks the man across the side of the jaw with the chair leg, dropping him to the ground.

Upstairs, the boss Bowler Hat exits the office followed by two henchmen armed with pump-action shotguns. Neville and Barty begin to run towards a door in the opposite direction, darting between boxes and crates. A deafening roar fills the warehouse as shot after shot rings out. Buckshot skitters about as crates explode under the gunfire along the two Englishmen’s escape route. Barty barrels towards the door, but is clipped in the leg with a pellet. The man stumbles but keeps his feet.

“Barty!” shouts Neville.

“I’m alright sir,” replies Barty as he hobbles along under fire.

Neville crashes into the door full pelt, taking no chances with the lock. The rotten frame of the door pulls away and the Englishmen are blinded by the brilliant snow-reflected light outdoors. The gunfire stops as Neville and Barty skid out onto the ice. Before long they round a corner and hail a cab back to the Waldorf.

 

The group meet in the lobby and return to Neville’s lodgings to clean up in preparation for Jax’s arrival.

“They mentioned the Waldorf,” states Neville.

“They know we’re here? I don’t think we should stay,” replies Cami. “We can stay with my aunt.”

“I’m sure we’ll be quite safe,” Neville continues. “Surely they won’t try anything here.”

“Are you kidding? We got into a shoot-out at Sotheby’s. How do you think we’ll be any safer here?” Cami asks incredulously.

“I’ll keep watch out front,” says Barty, reaching for his things, his face puffy and black.

“How will we know if they’re here?” asks Cami.

Barty packs a sawn-off shotgun into his valise, “I’m sure you’ll hear Miss.”

Scott pipes up, “I’ll make a call, see if I can get some officers posted outside.”

Checking the time, Neville suggests they make their way back downstairs to wait for Jackson.

 

Outside, Barty and two uniformed police officers see a woman in white enter the Waldorf-Astoria. In short time, Cami, Scott and Neville make their way down to the lobby. They see a woman in white nervously smoking in the corner.

“Do you have the dagger?” asks Jax.

“Yes, we’ve got it, but you need to tell us what’s going on here,” asks Camille, frustrated.

“Can I have it please?” asks Jax.

“Listen, Jackson, we got into some serious trouble back there getting that dagger. We almost got killed. You need to tell us what we’ve gotten into,” asks Scott, while Neville sits quietly, almost sorrowfully.

“I’m sorry…” mumbles Jax, “I didn’t mean to get you hurt. I’ll explain everything when I can. Now, please, give me the dagger.”

Camille frowns and looks at Scott. Neville leans forward, “Give her the dagger Camille,” he pleads.

Camille sighs and digs the enamelled box out of her satchel.

Jackson bursts into tears as she opens the box. She quickly stymies their flow and tucks the dagger away in her bag.

“Listen, I’m very sorry. I never wanted you all to get involved in this, but I needed your help. I’ve helped you all in the past. This should all go away very soon, and you can all get back to your lives. I promise I’ll explain everything when I can. Now, should we head to Erica’s?”

“Very well,” says Neville as the group stands to leave.

 

Arriving at the Carlyle estate in Long Island, the group are met by a mansion set on a sweeping lawn and gardens, all blanketed in white snow. The property is on at least 10 acres, all surrounded by a cast iron fence. Stating their names and intentions, they’re allowed entry by the gatekeeper. Meandering up the long drive, the door is guarded by the burly Joe Corey, Erica’s bodyguard. He drags heavily on a cigarette. His thick trench coat only adds to his commanding presence.

“I’ve gotta search you all, we’ve had some break-ins recently,” booms Corey.

“I’m a Federal Agent,” states Scott, “I’m not leaving behind my firearm.”

“Well you don’t get to come inside then, do you,” says Corey, turning to face Scott.

Scott grumbles and unclips his shoulder holster, placing his service pistol in Corey’s hands.

“Right. Let’s head on in then.”

Joe opens the double doors into a sweeping lobby. A double staircase leads to a mezzanine level with walls covered in works of contemporary artists, both known and unknown, but all of impeccable taste. The group is lead to a waiting room where Erica Carlyle sits in business attire.

“I thought this was going to be a private meeting,” begins Erica, “until Grey let me know you’d all be coming. And I see you’re here as well, Jackson. I didn’t think you’d be showing your face since last meeting. Neville, I must ask what is the meaning of this meeting?”

Neville shrugs, “We’ve just got some questions about Roger and the expedition.”

“Roger?” asks Erica, “What about Roger?”

“Well, what happened?” quizzes Neville.

“What happened?” replies Carlyle, clearly incensed. “Surely you could have read about that in the society papers?”

“Yes, but we want to hear it from your perspective Erica,” reassures Neville.

“What else is there to say? He went off on his little expedition and wound up dead. It was a long time ago. Why bring this up now?”

Scott pipes up. “You saw his body?”

Erica fixes Scott with a glare. “No, I didn’t see his body. But I saw the massacre. And we persecuted the people responsible.”

“But then how do you know he is dead? If he were still alive, wouldn’t that mean he’s still the heir to the Carlyle estate?” retorts Scott.

“What are you implying?” simmers Erica.

“Just that you have a fair bit riding on Roger being dead,” continues Scott coolly.

“He was my brother! I loved him, despite him being a wastrel and almost ruining the business. It was all those ideas that [slur for a black woman] filled his head with. I would give it all back to have him here. I never saw his corpse, but Roger is gone,” finishes Erica.

“And what about Vanessa?” asks Jackson.

“You know about Vanessa? What do you know?” asks Erica, now flushed.

“I’ve met her,” states Jackson.

“I’m sorry, I have a board meeting to attend. Corey will see you out.”

Erica stands and departs the room.

“Time to go,” says Corey in his gravelly voice.

 

Outside, next to the car, Camille turns to Jackson.

“Who is this Vanessa? Why did Erica shut us down when you mentioned her?”

Jackson butts her cigarette, places on a white hat, and speaks, “I’ll get to the bottom of it myself soon. I’ve got some leads to follow up on now.” She heads to a cab that seems to be waiting for her and gets in.

 Cami eyes Scott and Neville mischievously as Jackson motors away. “Should we follow her?” she asks.

“Exactly what I was thinking,” says Scott as Neville nods.

The three pour into Barty’s hired Model-T and begin following the cab with the white hat in the rear window. Back in Midtown, the taxi turns down East 39th and pulls over and lets in a new fare. Barty pulls the car up next to the cab, blocking it in.

Cami looks over at the driver, recognising him as someone she’d done some work for in the past, Joshua Jenkins. “Hey Josh,” shouts Cami from the back seat, “where’d the woman in white go?”

“Oh heya Camille. She got out at that last intersection, jumped in another cab,” shouts back the cabbie.

“Where was she headed?”

“I think I heard her say the New Yorker hotel. Say, reckon you could let me out? I’ve got a fare to run.”

Cami waves and Barty races for the New Yorker. The group burst into the lobby.

“Did a woman in white come into this building?” asks Neville.

“I’m sorry, sir, I have to maintain the privacy of our guests,” says the attendant.

“So she’s staying here?” asks Scott.

The light flickers momentarily. “The wiring in this place is terrible,” mutters he clerk.

Just as Scott is about to press the question, two black men and one white in coveralls and carrying tools walk into the lobby. “Hey, you [racial slurs], get out of here. Go round the service entrance.”

“But we’re here to fix – “

“I don’t care! Get in back!” Turning back to Scott he says, “Sorry, pal, nothing I can do.”

Scott pulls out his badge as Cami and Neville follow the workmen outside and to the service entry.

“Listen, pal,” begins Scott, “you’re going to let me have a look around, or I’ll be back with a warrant and we’ll really look into this place.”

“Woah, buddy, ease up now. Hey, I’m gonna go have this cigarette and if I happen to leave the desk unattended, you won’t tell anyone it was me that left it that way. The broad’s up in 1703”

Scott boards the elevator and rings up level 17.

Meanwhile, out back, Cami and Neville approach the hotel dick sitting out front of the service elevator. “What are ya here for?” he asks.

“We’re with the repair crew,” says Cami as she eyes the numbered lights above the elevator. The numbers stop blinking at 17.

The dick looks hard at Cami and then gives Neville’s expensive suit a quick once up and down. “You don’t look like repairmen…”

“Well that was worth a try I guess. We’re after a woman,” continues Cami.

“Aren’t we all,” replies the dick.

“Listen, I’m a detective myself,” says Cami, showing the man her license.

“Well I’ll be. A lady dick. I shouldn’t let you up, but what the hell.” The hotel dick gives Cami the high sign and pulls back the elevator grate for them.

 

Scott arrives on level 17 and creeps down the hall towards room 3. Listening at the door, he hears muffled footfalls. He takes a look through the peephole and sees at least two people moving around in there. While trying to figure out who is in there, Cami and Neville approach. Scott gestures for them to be quiet. Almost on cue, a woman’s blood curdling shriek and plaintive cry of “No” is heard from behind 1703. Neville had heard sounds like that before; made by young boys in the trenches just before they were snuffed out.

In one smooth motion, Scott draws his pistol and rears his leg back, bringing his kick straight down on the door right next to the handle. The jamb snaps as the door flies open. The three men in coveralls are there, now wearing African tribal masks. The white man stands closest, spiked club in hand, while another rifles through things in a draw. The third is straddling an unconscious Jackson, a large ornate knife held high above his head ready to be plunged into the woman. The two standing men turn to face Scott, while the third plunges the dagger into Jackson’s chest. Scott fires three rounds into the man on top of Jackson, spinning him round, dagger clanging to the floor. Neville shouts and charges the closest man, running him through with his sword cane. The third man picks up a spiked club and approaches Neville, while Cami draws pistol and reverses grip on it to use it as a club, thinking to take a prisoner. She swings the makeshift weapon down, but the blow is deflected by the man’s club.

Neville runs to Jackson and scoops her up, “It’s going to be alright Jax,” he says to her as her white dress begins to stain with blood. He makes a bee line for the elevator and smashes the button for the ground floor repetitively as it makes its slow descent.

Scott raises his weapon at the last masked man, “Stop!” he shouts.

With a back hand motion, the man clubs Cami in the ribs, dropping her to the ground. He raises the club over his head to bring it down onto her as Scott fires three rounds into his chest. He collapses to the floor. Removing the mask, Scott barks, “Who are you?”

“The Bloody Tongue will have you,” whispers the man as blood issues from his lips.

“The Bloody Tongue?” asks Cami as the man’s eyes lose focus and his body goes limp.

The two begin to search the corpses and the room. All men have strange and unsettling identical tattoos on their arms. Scott collects up one of the masks, as well as a waterproof zip-up pocket containing Jackson Elias’s journal.

 

Downstairs Neville screams for the attendant to call an ambulance. Neville comforts Jackson while the ambulances arrive to take her to the nearby French Hospital. Neville rides in the back of the ambulance, gripping Jackson’s hand the entire way.

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Episode 1: The Return of Jackson Elias, Part 1

Monday, 16 February 1925

In the early morning hours, a car careens up the Queens-side ramp to the Queensboro Bridge. At the wheel is Robert F. Scott, Bureau of Investigation Agent, and beside him in the passenger sits Cammy Bourgine, intrepid occult investigator.

They are pursuing three creatures they saw leaving Maspeth cemetery, which Cammy had wanted to stake out after hearing reports of grave robbers. The creatures prove both tough and acrobatic; Scott hypothesises that they are hairless gorillas escaped from the zoo. Swinging from a suspension cable, one of them springs onto the car. Its flaccid rubbery face shows it to be no ape. As the beast punches a taloned fist through the windscreen, Scott slams the brakes, deftly placing the car in a lane with no traffic behind. The creature is thrown from the bonnet and tumbles to a halt.

"Floor it!" screams Cammy, as Scott steps on the gas. Tyres shriek as the creature's horrible waxy visage is lit up by the car's headlights. It only has time to raise an arm in defence as it is hit centre mass by the front of the vehicle, flattening its rubbery body with a sickening wet thud. Cammy winds down her side window and takes aim at the next creature in line climbing the cables. She squeezes off a few rounds, none of which hit home from the fast-moving vehicle.

"Grab the wheel," commands Scott as he reaches into the passenger floor pit to retrieve his Thompson. Sticking it through the hole left in the windshield by the previous creature, he fires a burst of rounds at the climbing brute. Hoover's new weapons training regime has paid off and multiple slugs hit home, sending the creature lurching off the bridge's suspension cables and into the East River.

Almost as soon as Scott hands the firearm to Cammy does the third creature slam onto the roof of the car. A horrid screeching issues from the steel as the creature's claws rend huge gashes in the top. While Cammy reloads their weapons, Agent Scott swerves the vehicle from side to side in an effort to remove the creature from the roof to no avail. Just as Cammy finishes reloading the Tommy gun, hideous claws reach down and peel back the roof. Momentarily shocked, Scott miscalculates the angle of the off-ramp to the bridge. The turn was too sharp at too fast a speed and the car clips the concrete abutment and goes into a slow motion side-over side spin. The creature jumps off in time not to be part of the wreck, which comes down hard, upside down, into another lane of traffic. Wheels spin like a cinema classic. Oil leaks. The driver and passenger are dazed. They're brought to their senses by the guttural growl of the approaching creature. Reaching for the Thompson, Cammy brings it to bear as the creature pulls off the side door like it was a ring-pull tuna can. It stares down the barrel of the gun as Cammy empties the clip into its thick, pink-grey hide. The loud report of automatic gunfire is replaced with the wail of sirens in the distance.

Cammy keeps her revolver trained on the mass of pinkish flesh as the sirens sound closer and closer.

"You're going to need to put that gun away Cammy," says Scott calmly walking towards Cammy.

"Is it dead?" asks Cammy. Scott kicks the creature. It doesn't move, but it is issuing a horrid smell and seems to be leaking more than just blood and gore.

Police cars begin screeching to a halt all around the pair as Scott takes Cammy's firearm and places it on the ground. Cammy puts her hands up, and Scott removes his agency laminate from his breast pocket as coppers issue out in streams from their cars, weapons drawn. Shouts of "freeze" and "put your hands in the air" can be hear over the dying din of the sirens.

"Well if it isn't fuckin' Agent Robert, I should have fuckin' known," comes a shout familiar to Scott. "What the fuck are you doing out here? You've just shut down this bridge for hours!" Scott sighs as John Coughlin, chief of the NYPD's detectives division, makes his way through the crowd of officers.

Scott begins to argue "we were in pursuit of these creatures, John…" 

"I don't fucking care Scott. I'm tired of cleaning up your fucking messes every second week."

"Have you even had a look at these things? This is official Bureau business Coughlin." bluffs Scott.

"Which part of "I don't fucking care" do you not fucking understand Scott? Now you and your girlfriend get the fuck outta here. We'll take care of the wreck as usual, but we're sending the Bureau the bill!"

Scott mutters "she's not my girlfriend…" before asking the chief detective "Can we get a ride?" Coughlin walks off.

A beat cop that Cammy is familiar with from her work, Mickey McLoughlin, offers the pair a ride back to their respective lodgings. After getting dropped off, Cammy heads straight to bed for a bit of shut eye in the studio above her office. Before switching off the bed lamp, she glances at the telegraph next to her bed from Jackson Elias bringing back a wave of old, possibly bitter memories. Likewise, Agent Scott picks up a telegram from his side table after dropping down the keys to his wrecked Model T. He reads the wire again, vaguely remembering its contents from reading it after coming home from a bender Downtown. This is the first time Jax has contacted him since the war. The contents are short, terse even, wholly unlike the Jackson he knew:

I NEED YOUR HELP STOP MEET AT MET 10AM TUESDAY 16TH STOP JAX

Placing the wire back on the table, he pours himself a large slug of Canadian whiskey and settles into the sofa for the evening.


Meanwhile, somewhere in New Jersey, a train shudders through the night. With a dehydrated gasp Sir Neville Wordsworth is shocked into consciousness. The rattling of the carriage seems to be the roar of an artillery attack.

"Bartholomew! Barty!" Wordsworth chokes out above the din that now seems to be nowhere as loud as it seemed before he used his voice. Trying to disguise its grogginess, a voice responds.

"Yes, sir?"

"Barty, where are we?" continues Neville, swallowing down his earlier panic, a hangover migrane rising in the front of his skull.

"Sir? I do believe we're somewhere outside of Philadelphia. New Jersey, sir."

"Where are we headed Bart?"

"You don't remember sir? New York." Bartholomew's stiff upper lip biting back any hint of sarcasm in his voice.

"And why are we headed for New York?" continues Wordsworth; last thing he remembers was treating some Chicagoan slaughterhouse magnates to his finest Canadian whiskey in his hotel room.

"Well, sir," now incapable of holding the acerbic sting of sarcasm in his words back, "you received a telegraph for Ms Jackson Elias yesterday. You're to meet her at Grand Central at 9am today."

"Jax… And what's the time now?" continues Wordsworth, slowly pulling himself out of delirium and into reality.

Switching on the light to read his watch on the bedside, Bartholomew stings Neville's eyes, "Sir, its 6am."

"And when are we due in Grand Central?" it's now becoming business as usual for the young knight.

"Quarter to 9, sir. We'll have plenty of time."

Wordsworth swings his legs out of the bed and rubs his eyes. "Barty, you better fix us a drink. This is an ungodly hour to be awake."

"Yes sir, of course, sir," replies Bartholomew.

Neville has time to freshen up and put on a suit before Barty returns with two glasses filled with a dark red liquid.

"What's this then Barty?" asks Neville.

"The drinks car was more than able to provide us with tomato juice and Worcestershire, sir. Bloody Marys, sir. I've topped them up with our personal stash." Neville and Bartholomew clink glasses in a cheers and prepare for the day ahead.

"And you do remember the ball tonight, don't you, sir?"

"The ball?" Neville sighs.

"Yes, the charity ball. You received a letter about it three weeks ago, a telephone call about it two weeks ago, and Addison Bright dropped by to remind you about last week.”

"Ah, yes, of course…"

"You're expected to make a donation as well, sir."

"I am? Capital! How much?"

"$25,000, sir."


The train lazily pulls into Grand Central on time. Prim and proper and a few Bloody Marys down, Sir Wordsworth looks resplendent in suit and tie. Bartholomew struggles with Neville's wardrobe of personal effects.

"Need a hand there Barty?" asks Neville.

"No, sir… I've, uh, quite got it."

"Very well then, perhaps we head to the concourse," Sir Wordsworth strides ahead, his loyal batsman struggling behind.

Taking a seat in the concourse, Neville checks his watch. 8:55. It's been quite some time since he had last seen Jax. Despite their full and loving relationship, Jackson had quickly grown itchy in the Wordsworth Oxfordshire estate. Other worlds had beckoned her, and had taken her from him. There was some level of resentment from Neville with how much her work had taken her for him, but Neville was supportive of her endeavors and knew she needed to make a name for herself apart from him. It still stung him that the old adage "if you love something, set it free" had lead to the disillusion of their engagement. Still, Neville held no ill feelings towards Jackson. Indeed he had hoped that this meeting may have been something to do with their union, but upon rereading the telegraph Jax had sent him, he realised this was business, and that possibly Jax was in some kind of danger. The note was short and matter of fact, not a communication between lovers. Still, Neville held out hope that any show of devotion was enough to bring her back.

Peeling away from his thoughts, Neville spots a station hand slowly walking towards him. Something in the eyes makes him commit his gaze. As she draws closer, and it is most definitely a she, despite the occupation, Neville realises it it Jax in disguise.

"Freddie…"

"Jackson. It's good to see you."

"You too Freddie."

"Jax, what on Earth is the matter?"

"I need your help Freddie. I need you to get me a passport." Jax makes full eye contact the entire conversation. Her eyes are pleading, but wasted, exhausted.

"A passport? Where's yours?" asks Neville, his brow contorted in worry.

"I need one that isn't in my name. Not in any of my names." she asks.

"Very well, I'm sure I can get one. But what's the matter? Where do you need to go?"

"Nowhere just yet, but I need to be able to leave as soon as I need to," a twinge of fear is apparent in Jackson's voice.

"Jackson, is there anything else I can do? Anything at all to help?" asks Neville at his most plaintive.

"I need you to get me a meeting with Erica Carlyle, she'll be at the charity ball you're attending this evening," asks Jax, a renewed vigour in her eyes.

"Very well," replies Neville, distraught from the fact that he knows full well Jackson is in trouble and only wants his help on her terms.

"You should meet up with Camille and Robert before the ball, I've asked for their help too."

"Camille and Robert!" exclaims Neville, immediately sucking back his misgivings. He knows now full well that Jackson has burned through all her other contacts and this is a last ditch effort.

Jackson reaches out and places her hand on Freddie's arm, "Thank you, Freddie."

"You're most welcome, Jax," says Neville as Jackson departs and disappears back into the crowd.

Neville and Barty make plans to secure Jackson a passport. Deals are made at the British embassy and the passport is fast tracked. Meanwhile, Scott and Cammy wait at The Met, blending in with the crowds. While vacantly staring at an oil painting of a cow, Scott is approached by a extravagantly dressed, fur-coated and hatted woman with dark red lipstick and thick round sunglasses. She stands next to him and Scott does his best to not appear as though something is awry.

"Robert," says Jax from under the thick shades.

"Jackson," replies Scott.

Noticing the two talking Cami joins the couple. Scott, Cami and Jackson speak, Jackson informing them of as little as she did Neville.

"I need you to get me a meeting with Erica Carlyle," states Jax.

"And how do you suppose we do that? She barely even leaves her estate," asks Cami, incredulously.

"You'll meet her tonight at the charity ball," Jax instructs, coming off as terse as her telegraph.

"And have you got us entry? We're not the most respected citizens in New York, you know," this time it's Robert's turn to be incredulous.

"Both your names will be on the door. Freddie will be there too, I need you to work with him," the two nod and Jax continues. "One more thing, I need you to get me an ibis-headed dagger. I'll be on auction at Sotheby's tomorrow."

"Why the dagger?" asks Cami.

"I really can't stick around to explain," Jax eyes the room nervously.

"Well how do we find you?" asks Scott.

"I'll find you," replies Jax as she saunters out of the room.

Cammy does some legwork before the ball. Checking in with a series of contacts from Chinatown to Harlem she inquires into the dagger being sold at Sotheby's. Her contacts in Chinatown immediately clam up upon the mention of the dagger, Cammy very quickly getting the impression that she's asking dangerous questions. Later, after checking in on Abdel Nasser, a janitor at the Natural History Museum, she's informed that a dagger with an ibis-head is known in legend to be able to kill a god.

Night falls. Cammy and Robert arrive by cab at the Waldorf for Addison Bright's ball, appropriately dressed and suited. As they begin to make their way to the entrance, a 1925 model Stutz Bearcat screeches to a halt in a perfect parallel park. Batholomew Perkins steps out from the driver's, followed by Sir Wordsworth in the passenger's, his swordcane taping the pavement. Both are immaculately dressed in white-tie tuxedos.

"Camille! Robert!" shouts Neville.

"Wordsworth?" replies Scott.

"Good to see you old chap," Neville uses both hands to clasp Robert's in a warm handshake. "And you too Camille," he says as he embraces her in a hug.
 

Cami smiles, stepping back from the hug. "It's been a while. It's good to be back together again. I take it you've already spoken to the last member of our little party?"

Wordsworth narrows his brow in concern. "Yes, I've seen her. We should keep her mention to a minimum. From my meeting with her, I think she believes she's being followed."

Scott nods. "Yes, we got the same impression."

"Well, shall we?" beckons Wordsworth as he gestures towards the entrance of the Waldorf.

Inside, the ball is filled with the creme of New York's social scene. Scott and Cami try to blend in as Wordsworth mingles. In the back room, the group spots Jax reclining on a sofa in a beautiful evening gown.

"We're here Jax, now care to tell us just what is wrong?" asks Wordsworth.
Elias lights up a cigarette. "If I told you, believe me, you couldn't deal with it."

"Well then."

"I asked you here because I need your help," says Elias. "Freddie, I need you to get me an interview with Erica Carlyle."

"Erica Carlyle? The heir of the Carlyle munitions manufacturing fortune?" asks Scott.

Elias takes a drag. "Yes. I need you to ask her about what happened to Roger."

"Wasn't her brother and his whole expedition torn apart in Tanganyika?" asks Wordsworth.

With another long drag, Elias continues. "Not all the members of the Carlyle exedition died. I've talked to Jack Brady, his close friend, this year in Singapore and Shanghai."

Any efforts to get Elias to say any more result in her clamming up. "Listen, this is all strictly need to know. Just get me the meeting with Erica, and get me the dagger, and we'll move along from there. I'll find you once the meeting has been made." Elias butts her cigarette and strides out of the room.

Wordsworth finds Erica Carlyle in one corner of the ballroom, drinking the seltzer water which was the strongest thing being served at the ball. With her is her lawyer, Bradley Grey, and her burly bodyguard Joe Corey. "Good evening Erica," starts Wordsworth.

Coyly, Erica looks up from her drink. "Neville, very pleased you could join us."

"Listen Erica, I know you're a very busy person,  so I'll get down to business," begins Neville, full of double entendre, "I have some asset portfolios I'd like to present to you, with the hope that we can co-finance certain ventures. I would like to stop by your estate tomorrow with my proposal." 

"Neville, I must say this isn't what I was expecting from you. Come by the estate at four."

Neville smiles and nods. "See you then."

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Prelude: Paris, France 1918

It is the spring of 1918. After four years of pointlessly bloody stalemate, the German Army is once again marching on Paris. Inside the City of Lights, soldiers and civilians struggle to find some semblance of a normal life.

At a clandestine meeting at St Sebastian Metro station, MI6 agent Neville Wordsworth and Office of Naval Intelligence agent Robert F. Scott meet to discuss the handover of a "liberated" Da Vinci work. The painting was secured by Wordsworth from the previously German-held chateau of Comte Francois Bourgine. Intelligence on the work's whereabouts was provided to Wordsworth by Scott, which Scott gleaned from meetings with the Comte's daughter, Camille. The painting is to be handed over to American authorities in exchange for certain offensive maneuvers to be undertaken by the American Expeditionary Force. The drop is to take place later today at an anti-war demonstration. Unbeknownst to the two agents, they have been followed to their meeting…

Sitting across from the pair sits Camille Bourgine, traveling incognito, and budding journalist Eliza  'Jax' Olney. Olney met Neville Wordsworth when he was an REMF on the Western Front. Since then, she has been working on a story about him, as he has recently become heavy involved in the anti-war movement. The story is shaping up to be the greatest piece about the War ever written. Camille knows more about Wordsworth's activities than Jax does however. Recently she was in a relationship with Robert F. Scott, who has been posing as the French actor Pierre Depardieu. When it became apparent that Depardieu was only using her for information on her father's collection, Camille tried to go public with the information. Scott pulled his strings to make her accusations seem like the hysteric ravings of a childish schoolgirl. Camille knows the Scott-Wordsworth connection and believes that with Jax's help she can reveal the full story, clear her name, and restore her family's collection. Jax eats up this information: the greatest piece about the War ever is getting better.

Jax leaves Camille, and Neville leaves Scott. Scott spots Camille leaving the station and confronts her. Scott is all tough guy bravado but melts when he see's how much he's hurt her: is America's manifest destiny worth breaking the heart of this innocent French girl? They agree to meet up later to try to smooth things over. Deep down, Scott really cares for her.

Neville and Jax make their arranged brunch meet. Jax reveals she knows about the painting, and accuses Neville of stealing the painting to profit personally from the war. Neville swears that it'll end the war quicker if the painting is handed over to the Americans, which is a better outcome for everyone. Jax needs to know the significance of the painting, but Neville is unaware. He knows some questions are best left unanswered. They agree to meet later at the demo.

While sipping her coffee, Jax spots Camille and Scott walking cross the square to the Paris Opera. She follows them through the stage entrance and eavesdrops on the conversation. Scott explains that the painting is of the utmost importance to the US government, and bringing them stateside will win the war within months. When pressed, Scott states that his orders come from Project Testimony, somewhere in the deepest, darkest pits of the Office of Naval Intelligence, and that he doesn't know any more. At this point, Jax accidentally knocks over a dressing mannequin, and having being spotted by Scott and Camille, makes a hasty exit.

Back at her hotel room, Jax chain smokes as she furiously punches out the story on her typewriter. A loud crash is heard and three huge gendarmes kick in the door to her room. Cigarette still in mouth, Jax argues with the men, calling them to task to press charges or leave. They smash her typewriter and confiscate the story she is writing. Fuming, she packs her things and heads to the demonstration.

A riot of sound and colour marches its way through Paris as the anti-war protest gathers. One of the key speakers will be Neville Wordsworth. Jax eagerly awaits the speeches. Camille waits in the crowd too, while Scott watches the procession from a distance. As Neville begins to speak, Scott makes his way forwards to retrieve the painting which has been hidden under the stage. Jax spots Scott duck under the stage and follows, while Camille spots Jax and does the same.

Jax confronts Scott, she wants to know what the picture is. Scott refuses and Jax pulls out a military surplus grenade, threatening Scott with it. Camille begs the two to stop. A rousing speech is heard above the stage; the crowd cheers. Jax and Scott argue loudly; some claptrap about national security from Scott, falling on the deaf ears of Jax who needs to understand the mystery. Neville hears familiar voices from under the stage and heads under. He quickly tries to diffuse the situation which has gone far above everyone's heads. In the heat of the moment, Jax professes her love for Neville. With this, a scream is heard from a civilian at the sight of the grenade. Shouts of "terroriste!" can be heard from the crowd as the gendarme move in and arrest the group.

Wordsworth and Scott are able to get the group's names cleared. Time passes. The war ends in a bitter armistice.

Camille returns to her ancestral home but finds the place hollow after her adventures in Paris. She decides the New World is where she needs to be be and crosses the Atlantic to take up residence in New York. Working odd jobs, she finds she has a real knack for solving mysteries, especially those with an occult bent. She starts the First Ladies Paraphysical Detective Agency, and develops a decent reputation amongst certain eccentrics in New York. Wordsworth returns to England a knight and sets up a family estate in Oxfordshire. Scott returns to New York to work for the Department of Treasury as an Agent. After spending some time with Neville, Jax begins to get itchy and travels the world investigating blood cults. Now working under the pen name of Jackson Elias, she publishes treatises on cults as far and wide as the witches of England to the Thugees of India. Despite the fact that Neville moved to New York to be closer to her publishing house, their relationship becomes estranged, and the engagement never eventuates in marriage. Wordsworth pours himself into his American assets. Scott is hand picked by J. Edgar Hoover to be part of his Bureau of Investigation. Agents Scott and Cooper are tasked with investigating cult and ritual murders in New York. It is here that Scott once again crosses paths with Camille. The two build a friendship neither of which would have thought possible 7 years ago.

Suddenly Jackson Elias returns to New York…

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