And now for Part 4!
Dreadful Tales: A Matter of Discretion Part 4
Shrugging, the warlock dropped the medallion beneath his collar and walked over to the wyghts she had killed. “That’s interesting. Notice anything about our friends there?”
She looked at the body a moment before retrieving her parasol. Frowning upon discovering a rip in the dark fabric, she said, “I tried not to pay too much attention to them at all.”
“Then you didn’t notice their clothing?” he asked, cleaning his cane’s handle with a kerchief.
“Other than that they were foul, like the rest of those beasts, no.”
Poking at the corpse with his cane, Mr. Silver said, “These clothes are new.”
“New?” she asked, looking up.
“Well, not new, but certainly of a modern style. Not at all what I’d expect wyghts to be wearing this far beneath the city…”
“Unless they were recently made!” she said, beating him to the punch.
“Exactly. It’s not just thralls of Duke Astor that are dead or missing. Remember the dock workers that haven’t shown up for work in days? Their clothes look like a worker’s clothes.”
“But why make wyghts? And why so many? They would become unmanageable in short order.”
Mr. Silver nodded. “Indeed. But what if you didn’t want to manage them? What if you wanted to set them against a foe and just watch the carnage?”
Lady Brae stamped her foot. “That’s abominable! Why would anyone do that?”
“Judging from Duke Astor’s reactions and the antagonism between the Houses that seek to lay the blame at each other’s door; I’d guess our quarry wants a war. Already fingers are being pointed and accusations made. A nest of twenty or thirty wyghts released into someone’s territory might be all it takes to tip the balance into more bloodshed.”
If it was possible, Lady Brae paled even more. “He must be stopped.”
“Agreed. Shall we continue?”
The pair resumed their journey into the vast gloom. As the tugging of the lead teardrop became more insistent the sounds of screams and cries of terror became more distinct. With great reluctance, Mr. Silver turned off his oculatron and allowed Lady Brae to lead him in the darkness. Neither wanted to announce their presence any more than they had.
There was blackness, vast and impenetrable, and then there was light. A soft glow shown from around a corner. Approaching with even greater caution, the pair stopped at the corner. Mr. Silver drew a pocket watch from his waist coat and thumbed it open. The metal was polished to a mirror sheen. Holding it low to the ground, he turned it until he could see what was causing the light.
Candles flickered in the distance, their light reflecting off the slick black walls. Lines of them lay on the floor, leading down the tunnel towards an open arch. A scream reverberated down the tunnel, echoing off the walls as it tore its way towards them. The air smelled heavy, metallic.
“There’s nothing for it, really,” he whispered. “There’s no way we can avoid being seen going down that passage.”
Lady Brae’s eyes were wide. She ran her tongue over her lips. “There’s something else. I smell blood. Lots of it.”
She shook her head, loosening more of her burgundy tresses. “No. He’s gorging.”
Mr. Silver sighed. “That’s all we need.”
“You should stay here,” she whispered, “Or return to the surface. It’s not safe for you.”
Grinning, he said, “It rarely is. But I said I would see this through, so please, let us end it.”
With a frown, Lady Brae nodded. They then turned and together strode down the lit tunnel and through the arch.
A charnel house greeted them on the other side. The room was a large circle, covered by a dome of the same black stone. Other arches led out of the room, like spokes on a wheel. There were some furnishings; a table and chair, a cot. Otherwise the room was bare of any amenities.
And then there were the corpses. Six bodies lay strewn about the edges of the room, flies buzzing around their white, unmoving forms. Cowering on the ground, a group of filthy men and women looked up with wide, terrified eyes. Chains bound them tightly together. The stench was awful.
“What in the name of the Shadow is going on here?” Lady Brae gasped.
“It would seem,” a voice called for the darkness, “that my home is being invaded by uninvited guests.”
A shadow peeled away from a distant arch and slithered across the sleek stone. Coalescing in human form, the darkness fell away, revealing a tall, but gangly, man with wild auburn hair and cruel eyes. He wore a fine, dark suit and waist coat, with a tall hat. The only thing that marred his appearance was the thick crust of dried blood spattered on his cravat and lapels.
“Dominic Carstairs, I presume,” Mr. Silver said.
“You would do well to remember my title, human,” Dominic said, spitting the last word.
Lady Brae, unable to contain herself anymore, stepped past the warlock. “Cousin, you must stop this madness.”
“Cousin?” Mr. Silver said, surprise showing on his normally unflappable features.
Dominic leered at the pair. “Didn’t she tell you?” Then, to Lady Brae, he said, “Did our dear Grandfather send you to clean up the family mess?”
“I’m sorry to have deceived you, Mr. Silver,” she said, her features stern, “It was a matter of some discretion.”
“My entire career is built around discretion, Lady Brae. I assure you I could have kept your little secret safe,” he sniffed.
“Can we not fight about this right now?” she asked, indicating her cousin with a slight nod.
Mr. Silver grit his teeth, but nodded.
“Yes, cousin,” Lady Brae began, “grandfather sent me to find you and stop you, if it was you as he suspected. Things have gone too far. You have to end this now.”
“Oh, but I’ve really just started, cousin. Why, in Shadow’s name, would I think of stopping now?”
To be continued!