Monday, 13 October 2008

Curses within curses

A spent this long autumnal evening in the company of my fellow Babbage residents at a "Salon", a novel term that I have not come upon before but effectively a public gathering with nominated guest speakers to discuss a pre-determined subject. This evening the subject was curses and Miss Trafalgar had kindly welcomed me as a speaker.

It was a peculiar event and I approached it with trepidation. Babbage is expanding, the thrust of commerce and industry attracting many to these shores such that even a long term resident such as I may find themselves confronted by many a new face, perhaps I should force myself to socialise more.

To add to my concerns, not long after I arrived at the Aether Salon where the gathering was held, one of the new faces, a Mr. Sanus Kanarik, changed into dog form, bringing back memories of Jason Moriarty, and the terrors that nearly took the professor and Miss Paine from us last year. To make matters worse I have recently learned that Mr. Moriarty, is far from dead and has been seen to wander our streets once again. So to see an lycanthrope brandishing its "talent" in our faces was far from my ideal start to the evening. I kept my cane close by my side having made sure that the dog-thing Kanarik was aware of its sting. Mr. Kanarik, did little to endear himself to me in those early minutes and I have my concerns as to his intentions but, as ever, I am getting somewhat ahead of myself.

The speakers for the evening were Master Yifu, myself, and Miss Jedburgh Dagger, whose late arrival served to calm me somewhat, she is good company and a reassuring presence.

After the welcome and introductions by Viv Trafalgar and Serafina Puchkina, Master Yifu started with his surprisingly eloquent account of the disastrous trial of events the were collectively known as "the finger of Babbage". It is clear that there is plenty of animosity between young master Yifu and master Bob Streeter, I am unclear as to the reason for this but master Streeter's clear disregard for the welfare of others in the way that he conducts his endeavours seems to lie at the heart.

I will not dwell upon the details of the speeches I am sure that they will have become the source of rumour and speculation in the taverns and gossip houses of Babbage soon enough. I will simply say here that I fear my tongue got the better of me. I had had no intention to give such a broad account of my involvement in the amulet curse, the dreams, still kept beyond the reach of sleep by the concoction offered to me by the good surgeon, should not have been mentioned, they still haunt my waking hours, the fear of repeating Juliana's fate. As my voice started to crack and the questions rose to people's lips Miss Dagger stepped in to take the sting from the tale. Her account, supportive and factual, delivered in her usual calm manner quelled many a question. In further questioning that followed I recounted, poorly, the legend as it had been told to me, I covered the origin of the amulet but briefly and spoke of the curse itself, the amulets restorative power is paid for highly, as those who are close to the wearer all seem to perish. Miss Writer, I think it was, queried whether this doomed Miss Dagger and I to life alone, a question, so insightful that I had not considered it before. For my own part, my life's love has already been taken from me, perhaps it is with this that the curse is broken? Though immortality without Tali is not a prize I'd ever have sought, one that I will gladly relinquish.

Strangely quiet was Miss Capalini. I know that despite her presence at the autopsy she holds a resolute view that current scientific knowledge does not support such happenings. I was inclined to those thoughts no more than 18months ago, I recall my encounters with the professor, talk of time travel, old gods, and most ludicrously, it seemed at the time, werewolves. How events move us on. I applaud Miss Capalini's sense of reason, it is much lacking in the current climate of speculative occultism. The very fact of a public forum to discuss such things sends alarm signals to my brain and yet my experience is somewhat removed from the naive days of apprenticeship and study. As Mr Darwin would agree, evolution is not a process that resulted in the human being, we are but a step upon its way. There is much that is beyond our ken.

At the end of the evening, the lycan Kanarik beckoned to me and asked that we might speak alone. I suggested that we return to my Palisade home where privacy might be more complete, but in part at least it was to be nearer my damned handgun. As if the night had not been stressful enough, the events that passed then were to throw me completely off my guard and I know not where to turn next.

The lycan stood at the base of the stairs in the Bel ├ętage. "Miss Janus, I have a question regarding the amulet".
"please ask away"
"Well i should do some explaining first. As you may or may not know, Moriarty has returned to Babbage."
He looked full square at me. I had never met this man/beast before, what had he to do with the Moriarty abomination? Perhaps noting my reaction, he changed tack, telling me of how he had dedicated his life to ridding the world of evil but feared death and how with the amulet he could do so much more. This blatant attempt to get the amulet for himself seemed rather too clumsy to be untrue, though rarely one to take things at face value I questioned his intentions and indeed his understanding of the limitations of the powers, or rather the price that one pays. He mentioned that he could perhaps right these wrongs, I must have looked puzzled at this rather outrageous statement coming from one as young as Mr Kanarik appears, for he moved to take off his shirt. I stepped back reaching behind me to where my cane now rested, reassured that gun lay but a few steps away. Yet I had nothing to fear, he pulled the fabric of his shirt down from his muscular back to reveal a disturbing looking tattoo, which he named "romance and death".

He went on to explain that the symbol, which he received, I know not how, at the age of 16, could magnify the powers of magic and with the blood of a lycan in his veins it would trap the blessing. It is for this reason, he told me that the blood of his kind is sought by enchanters. I felt the sincerity of Miss Capalini's opposition to myth and magic rising in my own mind. There was too much mysticism here, I could not trust such tales from a friend let alone a shape shifting stranger.

I let him go on to describe the process by which he would remove the curse and unleash the power while all the time contemplating my dilemma. Perhaps emboldened at the thought of the gun secreted not far from my reach, or simply frustrated at this audacious attempt to gain this powerful charm I confronted him with my dilemma.

"I applaud your intentions but, Mr Kanarik, excuse my reluctance, I have only met you but this once, is there anyone who can speak for your good intent? How am I to know that with this power, your Lycan bestial roots would not become dominant? A werewolf that will not succumb to silver bullets nor wolfs bane?

"Because i would rather die than hurt anyone.", he pleaded. "If you are here tomorrow seek out a woman name Orchid".

I promised to seek her out, and it was then that he turned the tables on me. He spoke to me of his love for this Orchid woman, his fear of death, and the look in his eyes told me that this much was true. Whoever this Orchid was, she had captivated this beast.

I spoke further then of my fears and he spoke more of his own background. He is not as young as he seems, indeed he is much older, 54 years old if he is to be taken at his word. He spoke of a mysterious benefactor called Obelisk, of his life being saved and given purpose. The rest is somewhat of a haze, I asked that he leave me, promising that I would seek out his beloved Orchid.

I retired to bed with this conundrum:-
Miss Writer had indicated that I must live a loveless life, an observation that I accepted almost gladly to my broken heart, but perhaps I had not correctly defined love, for it must be said that I love Babbage. For all its peculiarities it is my home, welcoming me once as a stranger, asking no questions, accepting me as I am; is that not in itself an act of love? Can a place love a person, or vice-versa? If it can then the curse of the amulet could still be enacted. Through my possession of the amulet the destruction of all that I love and hold dear could be wrought.

It seems now that through action or inaction I may equally damn this world. If I were to fulfill this beast's request would I unleash an unstoppable evil upon the land? By holding the amulet to myself and not relinquishing it, would I allow the abhorrent Moriarty to triumph?

And now as I write these last words, sitting here on my bed and sipping my drugged tea to bring on the fog of sleep. I recall my comment from earlier,
"Adventure is not something one should seek. It seems to find us of its own accord.", but I do so wish it would leave me alone for a while.

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