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And Now We Meet Many Desmonds and Mays

Page history last edited by Michael 5 months, 1 week ago

back to Descent Into The Demonastery or the Index


Tuesday, May 28, 1935


     Our Heroes and the rescued Britons arrived in Ankara this day; the British Embassy was pleased. They asked some of us if we'd care to accompany the children back to England. We agreed -- since we'd be going that way anyway.

     The Italian cruiser attacked by sky pirates was the Bolzano, we learned; it had only entered service in 1933.


Wednesday, May 29, 1935


     In Istanbul! We packed our bags, and got the schoolchildren sorted out for the long trip. The children would be traveling by second class.


Thursday, May 30, 1935


     At 4:30 p.m. the Orient Express departed from Istanbul.


Sunday, June 2, 1935


     The Orient Express arrives in Paris, France,in the Gare de Lyon at 6:29 a.m. We escorted all the children and their chaperones to a hotel. Our train for Britain would not leave Paris-Nord station until 12:15 p.m. -- so some of us took the opportunity to do some shopping.

      We made sure to have all the children in the station a half-hour before the departure time ...


map showing major rail and ferry connections in and around Kent


     The ferry from France arrived at Dover by 4:55 p.m.; some of the children were met by their parents. Around 7 p.m. Our Heroes, and the children returning to the school, boarded the Kent Coast Express -- by 8 p.m. the children were stepping off at the nearest station to Greyfriars.

     Our Heroes continued on to Canterbury, and had a late dinner at a hotel before we fell onto our beds. First Secretary Jenkins and his wife Anne were going to their home with their son; they asked us to come up for the week-end on the next Friday.


Canterbury, Kent

     Population 25,100 in mid-1935.

     Originally a Belgic settlement, the Romans established a garrison here. The invading Saxons renamed the town Cantwarabyrig.

     Canterbury Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Church of England, fills the northeast quadrant of the city. While a cathedral has stood here since 602 A.D., there were many rebuildings in the centuries since.

     The ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey are a popular attraction. Many Tudor buildings, a ruined Norman castle, and medieval walls draw many tourists in the summer.

     In the summer of 1935, popular objections to tithing reaches a peak with the burning of effigies of Archbishop Cosmo Lang.

     Express trains from St. Pancras station in London arrive and depart about every half-hour on weekdays -- not so much on weekends (probably every hour during daylight). Connecting trains to the Kent Coast Express can take travelers to Dover and Folkestone.

     Accommodations are mostly rental cottages, bed-and-breakfast establishments, or small hotels; rooms are difficult to secure in July and August.


Monday, June 3, 1935


     A few days of rest and relaxation laid ahead of us.


Everyone got to resolve all experience checks!


Friday, June 7, 1935


     Our Heroes went over to Eldridge Hill (the Jenkins' home near the Stodmarsh) for dinner. The marsh is only five miles east of Canterbury; Stodmarsh Village has one pub.

     The home was a Victorian building, with many small bedrooms; it was in fact atop a very slight rise at the edge of the marsh. Besides Thomas and Anne Jenkins (née Desmond), also present were Hilary Desmond (an unconventional woman in her 70s), Edgar Jenkins (Thomas' older brother, and the heir to the baronetcy of Swale -- created 1752) and his wife Alice, and the young children of Thomas and Anne. Edgar had a dentist's practice in Canterbury.

     While coming down for dinner, Victoria May and Major DeLacey noticed the house had no ancient suits of armor, military portraits, or other signs of a family history of military fame. Several members of the family had entered government service (as had Thomas, of course). On the grounds were a croquet court and a (not well-used) cricket pitch.

     At dinner Our Heroes were invited to recount the tale of their rescue of the schoolchildren -- we gave a heavily-censored version.

     Mrs. Desmond invited the ladies to join her on a bird-watching and naturalist walk into the marsh the next day. We agreed to spend the night, and sent for our luggage from the hotel in Cambridge.


Saturday, June 8, 1935


     After breakfast, Mrs. Desmond, Qua Lin Worthington, Nora Cullin, Victoria May, and three young girls were walking briskly into the marsh.

       At one spot within the marsh, their path took them past a paved stone circle 20 yards across. Mrs. Desmond described it as an old druidical ring; when asked by Nora about its history, she said, "The druids were suppressed by the Romans -- but all the English counties have some connection to them. The cathedral (gesturing at the spire, visible in the distance) was built on a pre-Roman temple."

     "Many people in this district keep an open mind about things -- even when attending service at the church. They keep an open mind -- and a balance of all things natural and un-natural."

       Gazing at the paved circle, the "Occult Senses" of Qua Lin Worthington and Nora Cullin gave them information -- but they did notice that bird calls were muted in the area.

     At the house, Willoughby, White, DeLacey, Thomas, Edgar and some of the boys spent the middle of the day outside. There weren't enough people for much of a cricket game, but a bit of croquet was attempted. Eventually, Edgar took the boys off to do some fishing.

     Once the ladies returned, we had lunch, and relaxed around the house. We asked about the pirate attack on the Italian warship (there had been others, as well); and about Greyfriars' music master, David Kaminsky; and Nora Cullin spoke with Thomas Jenkins about druidism in the British Isles.

      Looking through the Foreign Office List (which of course Peter Jenkins had a copy of) Willoughby noticed he was currently posted as Second Secretary in Bucharest; and Admiral Worthington was not the Home Secretary. This led to us reading various Who's Who entries, Kelly's Handbook listings, etc.


"I say, perhaps this isn't the world we were in since April 19th!"


The session where we arrived in 1935 (from the war-torn 1921 timeline) was played in 2017, by the way).


     We pondered when the "switch" might have happened, and decided the likeliest event was our trip in the strange tunnels under Istanbul.


Much Is Revealed


     Also at dinner that night were Henry and Hilary Bowles -- Henry was the sexton (in charge of the graveyard) at the local church; his wife Hilary was a schoolteacher; both were in their early 60s. After a very nice English dinner, we all retired to the living room, for drinks and smoking. At a nod from Thomas Jenkins, Bowles went around closing all the windows, curtains and doors, and making a curious gesture before each one -- Qua Lin felt that the gestures were Mystically Significant, and the room was Sealed From The World.

     Anne Jenkins said, "First I want to thank you all for what you did in Turkey." We made mild comments along the lines of, "Oh, glad to have been of help" and "No more than anyone else might have done."

     She continued, "I had heard about you before I left on the trip with the students -- in fact a friend of my mother's mentioned you -- Lady AnnaLise Pourtenois, who had been my mother's instructor."

     Mrs. Desmond had a stern expression on her face during this revelation. Anne continued, "I am a baduri -- you would call me a priestess -- of the druids, we worship nature in all of its forms."

     Anne and her family seemed to have expected us to be a bit more ... surprised. She continued, "The bird walk this morning was an opportunity for my mother to observe you."

      When asked about her opinion of us, Mrs. Desmond said, "You should get out more." We chuckled a bit -- a couple of us mentioned how far "out" we had gotten in the last few months.

      Anne continued, "We would like to ask for your assistance on another matter even more grave than your rescue of the children. I would not ask if I had not seen what you did in Turkey."

      She cleared her throat and said, "My sister Angelina and her husband Oliver disappeared about three months ago while in Egypt; our request is for you to locate and, if possible, rescue them."

     "They were visiting the Siwa oasis, several hundred miles west of Cairo. The reason for their visit was the disappearance of all of the inhabitants of a village -- about three hundred persons -- after a recent lunar eclipse. There had been no sign of deaths or an attack."

     We asked Anne about her sister and brother-in-law. "They are history instructors at the American University in Alexandria."

      "They had heard reports of the cult of Konshu re-appearing -- this cult was suppressed by the pharaohs of the 25th dynasty. Konshu was a deity of the moon and of travelers -- but the cult seems to have been consorting with demons."


"25th dynasty?" ... "Oh, sorry; about 700 B.C., Mr. Willoughby."


      "If you can in fact rescue them, we would be willing to provide some information you have been looking for -- the location of Antonin Romanescu's principal residence. Alternatively, we can put you in touch with a dealer in arcane materials, along with a useful line of credit. Or, we could provide training in, for lack of a better term, magic."

     "In any case, you seem uniquely suited to helping my sister and her husband."

     Nora Cullin asked, "We thought that you wanted us to root out the cult behind David Kaminsky. Was he a novice trying to gain powers beyond his ability to control?"

      Anne replied, "Before the trip to Turkey, he had gone through an odious end to his marriage -- and his behavior changed. We now think he was expecting to take revenge on his ex-wife and her lover."


The ex-wife had not been in Turkey ...


     "The other reason we ask," said Anne, looking at Victoria May, "was that my sister's husband is Oliver Matthew May. He had been reported as deceased during the War, but was rescued at sea, blind and with no memory, by friends of ours. While recovering his memory and sight, he fell in love with Angelina."

     Victoria May, her face a careful mask, said, "That's unfortunate. Well, we make our own choices."

     Touching Victoria's arm, Anne said, "If it's at all comforting, Oliver and Angelina seemed very happy together." The spy replied, "Many people's live were changed by the War."

     Anne leaned back and said, "I hope none of this will affect your willingness to assist us?" Victoria replied briskly, "Certainly not."

     "Oliver had been in contact with followers of Konshu, which is how he heard of the disappearance. Oliver himself is a disciple of Anubis."

     Algernon DeLacy leaned forward, took a sip from his glass of Macallan, and told our hosts, "We have some items recovered from that terrible castle in Turkey -- the Black Horn, and some strange red rocks. Would you be able to determine their nature?" The druids agreed to look, but weren't sure how much knowledge they could provide. In any case, the Black Horn wasn't in the sealed living room at the moment.

     For a while we discussed Kaminsky -- his hobby for many years had been tracing grave- and monument-stones, especially those not found in actual graveyards -- at potters fields, hidden in deep forests, etc. His beliefs had apparently not been of the druidic tradition.

     The music teacher had gone ahead of the students, arriving in Turkey a month or so before the tour group. There wasn't really any way for us to determine if he'd been radicalized -- or possessed -- before he'd left England, or while in Turkey. His wife had left him for a Turkish woman, named Esra Gurson -- a housekeeper in Canterbury.

      We suggested that searching Kaminsky's rooms would be useful.

      Fred Willoughby asked Anne, "This residence of Romanescu's ...  can it be walked to, or sailed to, or so forth?" "Oh yes," replied Anne, "it is in the world."

     In response to our questions, Anne told use that Angelina follows "our ways." The eclipse had been about 5 months ago (so, in roughly January); and the couple had gone missing three months ago (in March). The Egyptian authorities were baffled about the disappearance of the villagers, placing the blame on "religious extremists." Worship of the cult of Konshu was rare, but known to occur. Angelina's family had sent detectives to Egypt, and received some reports; and had paid some bribes to Egyptian officials -- we were shown the reports.

      Willoughby leaned over to DeLacey, and said in a low voice, "Are there some names from your time Under the Hill two years ago that you could mention here, to see what these druids feel about the sidhe?" The infantry officer nodded, and asked our hosts if they had any contact with AAA or BBB ...


Neither Kevin nor Hugh could recall any names from a game five years ago.


     ... to which Anne and Mrs. Desmond shook their heads. "We don't get along with the Fair Folk -- we blame the Romans."

     After a minute or two of musing, DeLacey asked, "Could we have some examples of letters from the missing couple?" We also got copies of photographs of the missing couple, and letters of introduction to their household staff, and the American University.

     Our hosts knew little of Romanescu's nature or goals; they knew him as a collector of unpleasant art and curios, such as a guillotine used during the French Revolution, and Meso-American art.


The bracelet that had been placed on Qua Lin had been described as "Meso-American"...


     We provided some of our more ghoulish descriptions of the man:  "He's from a world where the Roman Empire never fell -- or perhaps the Eastern Empire continued as a non-Christian nation, ruled from Constantinople. He can self-resurrect, and if you want to permanently kill him you need to immerse his ashes in running water. He wishes to control all universes."

     Bill Davis asked, "Does the constellation of Serpentis ... also known as Ophiuchus ... have any significance in your beliefs?" Our hosts said no.

      While describing the strange flag used by the "rebels" in Turkey, we mentioned that Pierre Boulle is attempting to control governments with strange devices brought from other worlds. Thomas Jenkins looked suddenly alarmed:  "A company owned by Boulle has been hired to improve the code systems of the Foreign Office!" Willoughby replied, "Not at all a good idea. Even if he wasn't an evil occultist -- after all, he's not British. Some of the strange technology he uses has disgusting, sticky fluids inside; we saw a code device of that sort attached to a radio at the castle in Turkey."


Sunday, June 9, 1935


     We had various telephone calls to make, along with visits to libraries. We brought the Black Horn and the red rock fragments to Eldridge Hill.

     The druids knew that the Black Horn was part of a demon, and could be used as a battle signal. They suggested submerging it in holy water. The red rocks (fragments of the sacrificial altar at the Turkish castle) meant nothing to them.

      A call to Paris revealed that the Junkers trimotor "liberated" from the Romanian state airline was no longer there (or perhaps never had been).

      The Army List revealed that Algernon DeLacey was (again) a Major in the Rifle Brigade, on "detached beauty".  Other reference works revealed that he had married Nora Cullin eleven years ago; a daughter Emily had been born in 1926. Nora DeLacey had died three years ago (1932) during the birth of their second child (who also did not survive).


Monday, June 10, 1935


     An investigation of Kaminsky's lodgings near Greyfriar's revealed binders filled with hundreds of rubbings from old tombs and monuments all over Britain. There was also a "crazy wall", with many newspaper clippings, photographs, and notes. Among his mail (unopened since about March) was a parcel from a bookseller in Cairo -- a poorly-researched forgery of the Book of the Dead.

      We spent quite a few hours looking through Kaminsky's possessions.

      We noted the name of the bookstore in London that he seemed to favor, in Cecil Court (an area sometimes called Booksellers' Row). A visit to London was clearly called for.


Tuesday, June 11, 1935


     We rode the morning commuter train to London this day. A few of us visited bookstores that Kaminsky had purchased his books from; they also discovered that Kaminsky had pawned most of the musical instruments from Greyfriars, to fund his trip to Turkey. The musican's interests had included the Crusades, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights.

      Qua Lin Worthington visited the British Library to do some reading.

      Willoughby visited a big bookseller (of the non-esoteric kind) and purchased maps and guides for Egyptian travel; he also bought the five latest books by Isabelle Snow, all published in the last year or two -- but these had not existed in April of 1935 (further proof that this "world" was different from that of April). He briefly stopped by the Bath Club, and found that both he and Clive White were regularly in attendance (both were members) -- most recently in the last few weeks! This put Willoughby a bit off his feed -- he did not relish the thought of meeting himself.

     When told of the "alternate Willoughby and White", Bill Davis decided to watch Florin Court around dinner time. Indeed, "alternate Willoughby" arrived, with a young lady on his arm! Davis, at heart a private detective, took a photograph of the couple; Willoughby later recognized her as Romana Bellwether, the 21-year-old daughter of a senior Foreign Office official.


"I remember her father saying she absolutely detested cricket."


      Nora Cullin and Algernon DeLacy determined that Nora DeLacey's grave was in Perpignon, France.


Wednesday, June 12, 1935


     (This morning would presumably be when we depart Britain, bound for Alexandria -- Imperial Airways flights to Cairo only leave on Wednesdays and Sundays, so if we miss the Wednesday plane we'll have to wait until the 16th. The trip to Alexandria would arrive in the afternoon of Friday, June 14th, or th afternoon of the 18th if we waited until Sunday to depart England).

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