Ripper Chronicles: Whispers in Rome

by Sébastien Alexandre de Bourbon-Montpensier

Sébastien tried to focus on the schematics in front of him but his eyes kept drifting to the envelope perched on top of the desk in his new study and the name written on the front: Jean de Chevalier. He had not thought about his erstwhile companion in some time. Their last meeting had been less than amicable what with Jean blaming him for his hideous injuries and the failure of their joint experiment. Of course, his accusations were ludicrous and without merit, but had nonetheless carried enough weight to make things uncomfortable at the Sorbonne. Ultimately, Sébastien’s father had decided that a change of scenery would be good for his son (and the family’s reputation).

Despite this Sébastien bore Jean no ill will. It was only natural that a lesser mind like his would be envious of Sébastien’s achievements and genius. Nonetheless, Jean’s presence in Rome no doubt added another complication to what was already a rather complicated and volatile situation. Jean had never been the forgiving type.

Sébastien stretched and winced as pain shot through his left arm and shoulder. A reminder of his recent misadventures, it focussed his mind back on the task at hand. Just as he reached for his pen to update the design in front of him he heard a loud and demanding knock on the front door. Sébastien was about to get up when he remembered that they had a man servant now:“Andrej, get the door, please!”

Rigoletto La Dona e mobile

He slowly opened his eyes. The air stung them terribly. Why did it smell so bad? Why was his head so sore? What happened. He shifted his weight, trying to get into a sitting position and was rewarded with a searing pain through his left side. The pain snapped him out of the daze and clarified the hell on all sides. Fire and smoke on all sides. The Vatican archives were ablaze and he was caught in the middle of it.

His arm was reduced to little more than a blackened stump. The burnt flesh slumping off the bone. The imminent threat of death was the only thing stopping the vomit rising in his gullet. Escape was the main objective now. Get out or burn.

Pushing himself to his feet with the still functioning arm he took a staggered half step forward. Walking proved harder than it should have been. Something was wrong with his eyes his depth perception was completely off.

He stumbled to the stair case and found it collapsed, the burned remains in a pile. There was no way up, no way out. Here was where he burns. The smoke began to overcome him as he collapsed to his knees coughing, the air burning his lungs. His hands hit the floor and found it wet. A layer of water in the middle of a bonfire. Crawling forward revealed that the helical stairway heading down was submerged in water. The archives were flooding. If the water had found a way in, then there had to be a way out. It was an escape, or certain death. Drown or burn. It was a hell of a choice.

The audible cracking of the ceiling above him made the decision for him. With what little strength remained to him he hurled himself down the helical staircase into the water below as 3 and a half thousand years of collected history came crashing down upon him.

Dr. Dumbarton threw the empty bottle across the room smashing it against the wall, glass scattering amongst scientific equipment and chemical flasks. With an unsatisfied swear and a clumsy hand another bottle of indiscernible foul smelling fluid was grabbed up and a long swig taken. It might have been gin, it might have been embalming fluid. The taste provided little insight.

The ancient, priceless, one of a kind book lay open where it had fallen, the traces of torn paper hinting at the page that had once been part of the binding. The stray blood stained surgical tools that it lay amongst were no doubt staining the gold inlayed cover. Had he any concern for the quality of his tools or the value of the book he would have cleaned them and stored them away promptly. His mind was occupied by more important things now.

What to do, what to do. The group he had sent to acquire a book had razed the Vatican archives and probably, accidently, killed the leader of the organisation he was part of. This was bad. If anyone else in the Illuminati found out the part he’d played in the death of Abduh he’d be dead within an hour, or worse. He might soon find himself becoming part of a horrific experiment.

He could run away. No, silly idea, he’d just find him, they always do. This was just a horrible situation and all because he had taken a chance on some new recruits. This whole thing was out of control.

The corridor echoed the soft footfalls of padded slippers as Cardinal, Tomas de Torquemada, weaved his way through the depths of the Vatican. The dark stone around him gave little detail as to where he was within the labyrinth of faith. There were passage ways and tunnels down here that went one for miles. Take a wrong turn and one could find themselves lost forever, even going so far as to end up the crypt of St. Peter.

His mood was foul and his undertaking would now reflect that. An outlet for his frustration. Unfortunate for anyone caught in his way.

He stepped through a large heavy wooden door into a poorly lit room. A single chair sat in the middle of the room, a lone occupant in the otherwise empty space. Martha raised her head and met his eyes.

“Now my dear, let’s have a chat.” He closed the door with a heavy thud.

After the Fire
by Sébastien Alexandre de Bourbon-Montpensier

Sébastien’s heart slowly calmed down as he lowered himself into the warm water of his bath and reached for a glass of Montepulciano. He was glad his bath did not use actual fire to heat up as he was quite sure he had inhaled enough smoke to last him a lifetime. Their initiation into the Illuminati had not gone quite as planned. Sébastien chuckled as the tension slowly left his body. Not gone quite as planned was certainly an understatement to describe a situaton that ended with the Vatican Archives on fire, the Head of the Inquisition dead and not dead, the Head of the Illuminati dead, and some ancient Greek spirit haunting the streets of Rome. At least they had acquired the information they were after. And anyways, Dr Dunbarton was partially to blame for the fiasco as he had withheld important information. It was impossible to solve an equation that was missing essential parts.

His mind turning to the beauty of Mathematics, Sébastien started wondering how De Torquemada had survived Violetta’s fiery wrath. No doubt the Lord had intervened in some way, but it should be possible to replicate and enhance the Lord’s workings and make them available to all humans regardless of whether the Lord favoured them or not. Hoisting himself out of the bath, Sébastien refilled his glass and headed over to his work station, his mind filled with theories and possibilities.

Judge not...

The two priests staggered down the road, Father Vincenzo supporting Father Sensini. The two men were drenched and shaken from the evening events. The lord was truly testing them. Father Sensini fell to his knees and had to be helped to stand once again. Being nearly drowned had done neither of them any good but Sensini had had the worst of it.

“Come on Father. We’re nearly there. We’ll talk to the cardinal and get this whole thing sorted.”

“Vincenzo. I feel we may have made a mistake with this group of savages. They’re clearly deranged.”

“Have faith Father. The lord helps those who help themselves.”

The two men staggered on through the dark cobbled streets. A shadowed figure in a side alley watched them go.

“This is going very well.”

Field Test
by Sébastien Alexandre de Bourbon-Montpensier

Sébastien poured himself another glass of Montepulciano and sat down at his work desk. Savouring a sip of the wine, he adjusted the lenses on his glasses and looked down at the lightning emitter in front of him. Sébastien was still buzzing from how well it had performed during what, for all intents and purposes, had been its first test run against an actual living, moving target. There was, of course, always room for improvement. For one thing, it still ran out of charges far too quickly. Thankfully, the others in his little group had proven themselves quite resourceful. While certainly not his equals intellectually and scientifically, they each had their own useful skill set. Which was just as well, seeing how they seemed to have been thrust into the middle of a secret war between various factions. Sébastien had left France partially to avoid political entanglements after the incident at the Sorbonne and was not particularly thrilled about having to deal with the Inquisition, but had to admit that yesterday’s events had been somewhat lucrative. Given that he was currently unable to call upon the resources of his family, having access to a source of income and raw materials would be very useful to his research.

Sébastien carefully opened the casing, examining the inside of the energy coil. Maybe he could improve its ability by using a different metal. Taking another sip of the wine, he headed over to his small collection of books and grabbed a hefty tome written by Abdul Alhazred. He had spent the last few months learning Arabic in order to access some of the knowledge forgotten by European thinkers and scientists. Reclining in his chair, Sébastien quickly lost himself in the theories and formulaes.

In the Beginning

He reached a pale shaky hand across the bar and gripped the neck of the wine bottle. Slowly he dragged it towards him and refilled his glass. Downing the wine, steadied himself on the stool and repeated the process. He hated this part of the job. It always took a toll on his nerves but day was the worst he’d been involved in for a long time.

The day was meant to be a simple one. Get to the scene of the unnatural activity, find out what was going on, preform the necessary exorcisms or rituals and burn the taverna to the ground. They hadn’t expected there to be survivors. They hadn’t even been injured. It was quite impressive if troubling.

The question then arose of what to do with them. They couldn’t just be let to walk away, not after what they’d seen. There would panic in the streets of Rome if word got out. They needed to disappear but by God’s grace they were stubborn.

A shiver ran up this back as he recalled that frightful woman. The sigil around her neck had hinted that she was a person of importance but it hadn’t provided a much-needed warning about her fool temper. He shuddered and downed another glass of wine.

“Easy Father, it’s not yet midday and you have a mass to give at 5.”

A reassuring hand gripped his shoulder as another priest sat on the stool next to his. A man in his mid-40s and beginning to bald, he looked surprisingly relaxed sat at the bar of the wrecked and blood stained taverna.

“Put those troublesome thoughts from your mind and remember we do God’s work here.”

“I haven’t forgotten that Father Sensini but that woman’s threats way heavy on my mind. I’m not sure who she was but she has some pull of that I am certain and I believe she sees me as an enemy.”

“Do not trouble yourself so. She, like all her kind, is all bark and no bite. It’s the other one I’m worried about.”

“Which one was that?”

“I’m not surprised you did not notice her. Small woman, hooded and cloaked. Quiet. It’s always the quiet ones you need to watch out for. Watched like she was looking for weakness and escape routes. Cloak and dagger type you know.”

“hpm” Father Vincenzo puffed. “And the others?”

“A thug and an eccentric from what I could see. Old soldier type in a dress and a young grease stained mechanic. Nothing to worry about really. Soon they will be within God’s embrace and we can get back to the business of keeping the people safe.” Father Vincenzo shuddered at the thoughts of the catacombs under Rome. No-one ever came back.

“Where is Father Bianchi?”

“He’s upstairs giving the remains of Hanz the proper rites.”

“Poor Man. He is with God now.”

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