07 March 2012

Coc - Gaslight: Things, I did not need to know and did not want to do

On the next day, 11 November 1890 a few minutes to 9 am, I was on my way to Whitehall Place. Breakfast had been adequate, but a bit hasty. I arrived at New Scotland Yard on the first chimes of Big Ben. A constable led me to the designated meeting room. It took a while to get there, so, unfortunately, I entered a few minutes after the hour. But Inspector Fox gave me a look as if I had arrived half an hour late. I got the distinct feeling, he didn't like me.

Besides him, Dr. Burnside, Dr. Laydon, and Mr. Roquefort, also a Sir Jeffrey Hull, her majesty the queen's counsel, and Lady Catherine Kincaid were also attending this meeting. The later being the daughter of the missing Sir Thomas Kincaid. Seeing the queen's counsel here, gave me the impression, that there was a bit more going on, but a simple abduction. I could not have been more right.

First, Dr. Laydon gave his account on the events that had happened at the club yesterday. After going upstairs, the guest had shown Sir Thomas some documents, which had really upset him. Suddenly, four Arabic men had entered the room through the window and overpowered Sir Thomas and his guest. Two of these men had dragged these two out of the window and then had left with their price. The other two Arabs had stayed and the struggle had commenced, which had led the unfortunate killing of Higgins. This was in principle not new to me, except some of the details. But the news, which Inspector Fox and Sir Jeffrey revealed to us, were definitely troubling.

In the last few weeks there had been three murders in the East End. All three victims had been prostitutes. The modus operandi was the same every time. All three bodies had been cut open and an inner organ had been skilfully removed. Hearing the details made me rather indisposed. Maybe the hasty breakfast did its part in it. But nevertheless, I took my leave and left the room for a few minutes to catch some breath and regain my composure.

As I went back inside Dr. Burnside was still looking at photographs of the victims. The police suspected the murderer to be a professional like a butcher. But Dr. Burnside suggested, the murderer could as well be a medical practitioner. The mere thought of it appalled Dr. Laydon. And I had to silently agree with him. Why should a men who swore to save lives do such terrible things.

The other common finding at the places of the murders was even stranger. Crude drawings of the symbol for the Egyptian god Thot had been found on walls near the victims. This was the reason Scotland Yard consulted Sir Thomas Kincaid on these cases. Sir Thomas was well known to be an expert on Egyptian mythology. For the same reason the police suspected a connection of the murders to the "Egyptian League". Its goal is to collect and preserve Egyptian artefacts. Its chairman was none other than Prince Albert Victor the Duke of Clarence. This explained the involvement of Sir Jeffrey Hull, because it was important that the League and by this the Prince himself had to be cleared from any connection to this crimes as quickly as possible.

From Dr. Laydon's accounts on this matter it became clear that there was something wrong with the Prince, that could have had some significance for the case. Due to professional discretion he wouldn't tell as more. Sir Jeffrey offered to get an audience with the prince for Dr. Burnside, Mr. Roquefort and myself.

Up to this point it was all very interesting and, beside the sad nature of the crimes, a fascinating morning. But they really expected me to get personally involved in this. When I pointed out, that I was neither an expert on medicine nor on Egyptian mythology, and that I had nothing to offer for this investigation Inspector Fox took me aside on a word. (players might want to refrain from opening this part, not to spoil possible surprises in the game)

He told me, that he knew about my reputation due to nightly adventures and that my skills to this effect might be useful in the investigation. Oh, bugger! I knew this would backfire on me.

Life as a second son of a noble can be very dull. So, I was looking for some excitement in my life. Hence, I started to break into the homes of rich gentlemen to borrow one or two of their valuables. It was never about actually stealing anything. I always returned the goods as soon as the dust had settled. As I got gradually better at it, private homes began to lose their appeal. They were just too easy to get in. So I started breaking into museums. And last month the unthinkable happened: I got caught while looking for something worth borrowing in the British Museum.

My family was shocked and embarrassed. But due to my father's influence the incident was hushed up under the one condition, that I would refrain myself from doing anything like this again. They also advised me to leave London for a while. Until a few days earlier I hadn't decided to actually go somewhere. If I had only made up my mind earlier! Then I would not have been dragged into this murder business. But what had happened had happened.

He was very certain, I had something to contribute to this matters. So, I agreed to help in this investigation to the best of my abilities.

One last thing was discovered by Mr. Roquefort, as he took the dagger, with which Higgins was killed, under closer inspection. He discovered and deciphered some Hieroglyph inscription on the blade. It translated to "There is no peace on the other side of the gate." What ever that meant. He also told us, that the Hieroglyphs could also be regarded as the representation of syllables. In this case the translation would have been: "Ni har lat hotep". He knew he had heard or seen this phrase before, but he was not able to place it.

Because there was nothing more to discuss for the moment, our meeting was adjourned. We agreed to keep Inspector Fox and Sir Jeffrey informed of our findings, as well as Lady Cathrine. After all, it was her father that had been abducted.

I hoped this whole business would be as exciting as it sounded but not as dangerous as is could get. In the end, we were hunting a murderer.

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