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The King of Shreds and Patches Session Two Part 1 - Saving Shakespeare

Max_Writer

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

 

(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario “The King of Shreds and Patches†by Justin Hynes from Strange Aeons today from 1p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with Kyle Matheson, Katie Gallant, James Brown, and Collin Townsend.)

 

After talking to the mad David Moore on the morning of Saturday, January 8, 1603, Vincent Hawksworth, Octavian Skern, and Dr. Everett Whitewood were glad to leave St. Mary of Bethlehem madhouse. They found Reginald Selwyn and Peter Godfrey at the alehouse across the street, drinking heavily.

 

“Why did you the two of you run out of St. Mary’s?†Hawksworth asked them.

 

“It smelled in there!†Selwyn said.

 

“Well, of course it does. What’d you expect?â€

 

“Not that bad!â€

 

“And you, Godfrey?â€

 

“I just … uh …†Godfrey said. “I was feeling a little bit thirsty.â€

 

“There weren’t even stairs this time.â€

 

“There might have been down the hall!â€

 

“Possibly. But there weren’t. So …â€

 

“Well, now we know so …â€

 

“Now we know.â€

 

“… next time.â€

 

“I hope there isn’t a next time. Anyways, we spoke to Moore and he said Joseph should be dead because he shot him in the chest.â€

 

“Well, that’ll do it.â€

 

“Unless you all know of some sort of garment that could keep one alive … I would hope that research into such a device might come about one day. But who knows?â€

 

“Are you talking crazy again?â€

 

“Maybe we could stop bullets someday. Anyways, there seems to be a man who knows more about summoning this man in yellow, the king in yellow? A Doctor Dee. Surely you all have heard of Doctor Dee.â€

 

Selwyn had heard of Dr. John Dee. He knew the man was in his 70s and a scholar who had also been a spy for Elizabeth whose code number was 007. He invented compasses and wrote on navigational techniques. He was quite the genius. Rumor also had it he was a necromancer and user of magic through his crystal gazing techniques. Selwyn knew he had a partner named Edward Kelley who he’d had a falling out with and Dee had returned to England and now lived somewhere in Manchester where he worked at Christ’s College. He had actually thought about robbing the man but hadn’t ever followed through with it. He had heard a rumor the man was in High Wycombe presently.

 

They would need a license to travel to High Wycombe as well as money for the coach. They guessed it would take about a day to travel there and back.

 

“High Wycombe, I don’t think we have time to go to High Wycombe today,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Maybe tomorrow,†Selwyn said.

 

“If there is a tomorrow,†Hawksworth said.

 

“What if we split up?†Skern asked.

 

“Well, what do you think?†Hawksworth said. “Do you think visiting Doctor Dee would be a good idea?â€

 

“I believe so,†Selwyn said. “But we need to keep our eyes on Shakespeare at the moment.â€

 

“Oh, I will not take my eyes off of Shakespeare. I’m far too concerned over him.â€

 

“And four sets are better than one.â€

 

“Sets of eyes?†Skern asked. “Four sets of eyes?â€

 

“Four sets of what?†Hawksworth asked.

 

“Eyes,†Selwyn said.

 

“Yes!†Skern said.

 

“Eyes,†Selwyn said.

 

He pulled out a scrap of paper.

 

“Also, it does say there’s something going on, maybe, on the 12th,†he said.

 

“The 12th?†Hawksworth said.

 

“Of January this year,†Selwyn said, showing him the scrap of paper he’d found in Van der Wyck’s workroom. It had a diagram of a many-faceted gem, giving measurements for cuts to be made. Several mathematical calculations were scribbled beside the carefully drawn diagram. In the top corner of the diagram was the date January 12th.

 

“Where did you find this?†Hawksworth asked.

 

“In the jewelry store … with that dead lady,†Selwyn said.

 

“Godfrey, what do you think of all this?†Skern asked.

 

“What?†Godfrey replied.

 

“This picture of this gem here,†Skern said. “This diagram.â€

 

“Well that’s not until the 12th,†Godfrey said nervously, barely glancing at it. “I think we should focus more on Shakespeare right now. I think we should focus on Shakespeare for now … and then turn our attention to that.â€

 

“Exactly,†Hawksworth said. “Today’s the eighth, which means we have four days.â€

 

“Exactly!†Godfrey said.

 

“Four days,†Selwyn said.

 

“You know what?†Skern said. “I think we have four whole days.â€

 

“You are correct,†Selwyn said.

 

“Twelve minus eight is four,†Hawksworth said. “We have four days.â€

 

“Very good, Hawksworth,†Selwyn said. “So, we should do Shakespeare today. And then we can go do Mr. Dee on the morrow.â€

 

“We should still set up the arrangements for Mr. Dee,†Hawksworth said.

 

“We have a few hours,†Selwyn said.

 

“Then off we go,†Hawksworth said.

 

“There’s 24 hours in a day,†Skern said.

 

“I was just thinking something,†Hawksworth said. “If Dr. Dee did come to the play, seeing as how it’s a new play from Shakespeare, would you be able to see him in a crowd of people?â€

 

“I believe I know his features,†Selwyn said.

 

“Do you know him person to person or are you just an admirer of sorts?â€

 

“I do admire his work.â€

 

“So he doesn’t know you?â€

 

“Not as well. No.â€

 

“But you do think you could spot him?â€

 

“I could spot him.â€

 

“Good. I think I’m going to head back to the Globe now because Shakespeare is probably already there.â€

 

“And I shall make arrangements for the travel.â€

 

“I will reimburse you.â€

 

“As will I,†Godfrey said.

 

“That was expected,†Selwyn said.

 

Hawksworth, Skern, and Godfrey left for the Globe Theater while Selwyn went to make arrangements for travel. Dr. Whitewood took his leave of them, citing he had patients to see that day.

 

* * *

 

They met again an hour or so later in the Pit at the Globe Theater. Selwyn was the last to arrive, having taken some time to arrange for travel licenses for them. The theater was packed for the new play, steam from the crowd rising through the chilly air. Open to the sky, the three-story theater was almost in the round, the stage visible through 280 degrees. The stage was large and roofed to keep any rain off the players’ heads, as were the seats in the building around the stage. The main viewing area in front of the stage was open to the elements and light.

 

The four set themselves strategically around the stage with Selwyn being on the house right side, Skern on the house left side, and Hawksworth and Godfrey in front of the stage. All of them watched for anyone suspicious though they didn’t have any idea what Joseph or Van der Wyck looked like, exactly.

 

At 2 p.m., the players took the stage, the renowned Richard Burbage taking the role of Hamlet. The play started very strongly with the appearance of a ghost on the ramparts of Castle Elsinore and Horatio’s attempt to talk to it. The second scene took place in the brightly lit court with Hamlet dressed in black, still mourning his father’s death but two months before.

 

Burbage began Hamlet’s first soliloquy.

 

“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!†he said.

 

As he continued with his riveting words, Hawksworth and Selwyn noticed a beaming Shakespeare visible in the wings, apparently unable to wait backstage. Burbage was, perhaps, about halfway through the first soliloquy when Shakespeare suddenly staggered onto the stage, his face contorted with pain and anguish. He clutched at his chest and collapsed to his knees as Burbage stopped talking and the other actors gathered about the fallen playwright.

 

Selwyn saw something out of the corner of his eye and looked towards the third floor seats. A well-dressed man with squinty eyes, a hawk-like nose, and a large hat had stood up from his seat, his face contorted with evil glee, muttering under his breath, his hand outstretched towards Shakespeare. Hawksworth and Godfrey also saw the man.

 

“Quick!†Selwyn yelled. “Get him off the stage!â€

 

He climbed up onto the stage as Hawksworth and Godfrey pushed through the crowd towards the back of the theater where steps led to the third floor. Skern climbed onto the stage.

 

“Is there a physician?†one of the actors cried in terror. “He seems to have an imbalance of the humors!â€

 

Selwyn ran to Shakespeare while Skern looked around and finally spotted the man staring at Shakespeare and muttering under his breath. The people around hadn’t seemed to have noticed him as they were watching what was happening on the stage. Skern looked around for something to throw but there was nothing on the stage near him. He drew his dagger and flung it, missing the man and hitting the man next to him in the chest.

 

“Who’s that madman!?!†someone cried.

 

People started moving away from the stage as the stricken man screamed and leapt from his seat, running away. The woman next to him screamed “Murder!†and fled as well. People in the balcony seats fled from the area but the man continued to mutter under his breath and grin wickedly as he cast his spell. People in the pit started to panic, fleeing from the strangeness of Shakespeare’s attack and the apparent madman on the stage.

 

Selwyn reached Shakespeare as the actors around him loosened the bard’s ruff and fanned him, trying to give him air. The man gasped for breath, clutched at his chest, and reached into the air.

 

“We have to get him out of sight!†Selwyn said.

 

He was met with blank looks from the actors.

 

“We shouldn’t move him,†one said.

 

“We should get a doctor,†another cried.

 

“A physician!†yet another said.

 

Skern, nearby, looked around for something else to throw. Then he realized all of the actors had daggers on their belts, being dressed as Danish princes and nobles. He didn’t know if the daggers were real, but guessed he could throw them. The actors were arguing about what to do and he slipped over and pulled a dagger from one of their belts. It proved to be wooden but it was pointed at one end. He flung it and it flew through the air and struck the evil spell caster in the face just above the left eye. The man stumbled back with a cry.

 

Shakespeare suddenly took a very deep breath and Selwyn grabbed him and tried to grab him backstage.

 

“We’ve got to move him now!†he yelled.

 

Shakespeare struggled to get up.

 

Hawksworth, meanwhile, leapt at the supports to upper level and tried to climb but people kept bumping into him as they fled the building. Godfrey decided to take the stairs and ran past the man, pushing his way through.

 

Skern leapt from the stage, drew his sword, and ran towards the back of the theater.

 

“There’s the murderer!†someone cried before running away.

 

People fled from the apparent madman.

 

The evil man he’d struck with the wooden dagger stumbled back to the railing, blood on his face. He looked down at Skern and then looked at the stage, where Selwyn, with only a little help from the actors, dragged Shakespeare away. He looked very angry and then gestured towards Skern and muttered something under his breath. Skern suddenly felt a terrible pain in his chest, like a hand was clutching his heart and slowly squeezing it. He stumbled as he tried to continue moving. The terrible man backed from the balcony.

 

Hawksworth still struggled to climb up to the second floor, people bumping into him as they fled. Screams of “Murder†echoed through the theater. Someone yelled “Fire!†but Hawksworth had no idea what that was about.

 

* * *

 

Selwyn got Shakespeare backstage safely.

 

“Stay here!†he said to the man.

 

He ran back out onto the stage.

 

* * *

 

Godfrey, out of breath and sweating even more than usual, was climbing the stairs to the third floor of the building when a man with a bloody face ran towards him. Godfrey drew his wheellock pistol, cranked the wheellock, and shot the man in an explosion of gun smoke. The bullet struck the man’s left arm and blood splashed on the wall. The man screamed, yelling something in Dutch at Godfrey and then charging down the stairs at him and crashing into him. Godfrey, though pushed down to the second floor was not knocked over and had the man trapped on the stairs.

 

He turned the pistol around and started to beat the man about the head and shoulders with it.

 

* * *

 

Hawksworth finally pulled himself up to the second floor of the Globe, not far from where Godfrey was apparently fighting a man on the stairwell leading up. The man was bloody and Godfrey beat at him frantically.

 

* * *

 

Selwyn spotted the smoke from the gunshot and saw Hawksworth, Godfrey, and another man. He leapt from the stage and ran towards them. He saw Skern running up the stairs from the ground floor.

 

* * *

 

“Get away from me!†the man cried in a thick Dutch accent. “Get away!â€

 

He drew his dagger and tried to stab Godfrey but only tore at his clothes.

 

“I just bought these!†Godfrey cried.

 

He struck the man a terrible blow to the man’s temple which knocked him over the railing of the stairwell. He crashed to the floor, his dagger sliding right to Hawksworth’s feet. The actor snatched up the dagger and brought it down directly onto the man’s chest. The man’s eyes opened wide and he gasped in pain and then his eyes rolled back into his head and death rattled in his throat.

 

Skern ran up the steps with Selwyn not far behind. Everyone else had fled though cries of “Murder!†and “Fire!†came from outside the theater.

 

Something fell out of the dead man’s pocket. It was round and about four inches in diameter. Hawksworth snatched it up and tucked it into his own pocket as Selwyn and Skern quickly searched the dead man.

 

“What’s happening with Shakespeare?†Skern asked.

 

“He was fine when I left him,†Selwyn said.

 

They only found his money pouch and Selwyn snatched it up.

 

“He won’t be needing this anymore,†he said as he tucked the coins away. “Our travel fare!â€

 

He looked down at the man.

 

“Thanks for the money!†Selwyn said, spitting on him.

 

“All is well,†Skern said. “Meet me at the Mermaid.â€

 

He left.

 

“Right behind you, Skern!†Godfrey said as he fled.

 

* * *

 

Skern went home and retrieved his blunderbuss, tucking it into the back of his belt, hiding it with his cloak. He cleaned up a little and proceeded to the Mermaid.

 

* * *

 

Godfrey went home and changed clothing, his own clothes torn and stained with Van der Wyck’s blood. Only then did he head for the Mermaid.

 

* * *

 

Selwyn and Hawksworth arrived at the Mermaid Inne first and took a table in the corner.

 

“Would you like a drink?†Selwyn asked Hawksworth.

 

He dropped the coin purse on the table.

 

“It’s on him,†he quipped.

 

Rumors were already flying around the Mermaid about a murder at the globe and Shakespeare having some kind of attack.

 

“Someone must’ve really hated the play,†one man quipped.

 

“No, the play was actually quite good,†another man said.

 

The other two arrived a half hour later.

 

“Shakespeare was fine,†Selwyn said. “It seems that he needed line of sight on him. He should be fine.â€

 

“Yes, after I hit him with the … wooden dagger, it seemed to interrupt things,†Skern said.

 

“He was breathing,†Selwyn said.

 

“Good good good,†Skern said.

 

“Are we sure he’s dead?†Godfrey asked.

 

“Oh … he’s dead,†Hawksworth said.

 

“We searched him,†Skern said.

 

“You never know about those Dutchmen,†Godfrey said. “They’re crazy.â€

 

“So … this man was Dutch, you say?â€

 

“Yes, he was speaking Dutch or French or something like that.â€

 

“Would you say his features were that of a bird? Hawkish?â€

 

“I think it’s fairly obvious that this was Van der Wyck,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Yes!†Skern said. “I’ve avenged Lucy’s cousin’s killer.â€

 

“Which, with the note that we have found, this does men that he was trying to get rid of Shakespeare as we thought,†Hawksworth said.

 

“I would definitely say so,†Selwyn said.

 

“And he doesn’t seem to be perturbed by a great amount of people being around when he does it.â€

 

“That’s dangerous,†Skern said.

 

“We need to find Shakespeare,†Hawksworth said. “Surely he will believe us that his life is in danger now.â€

 

“Indeed,†Selwyn said.

 

“I also found … this,†Hawksworth said, pulling out what had fallen from Van der Wyck’s pocket.

 

The thing was a piece of circular-shaped stone about four inches in diameter with a strange symbol cut out from the middle, the same symbol that had been painting on the wall of Croft’s bedroom and the terrible room under Van der Wyck’s shop. The poisonous symbol seemed to twist and swirl and squirm, reaching hungrily for each of them. Then the vision was gone. Godfrey cried out in terror.

 

“That’s the same symbol that was in Croft’s house,†Hawksworth muttered.

 

“Wait,†Godfrey said. “There was a symbol in Croft’s house?â€

 

“It looks like the one that was near that dead girl,†Selwyn said.

 

“Yes, it looked like that,†Skern said.

 

He turned to Hawksworth.

 

“So, you’re going to find Shakespeare, is that correct?†he said.

 

“Yes, but I don’t know where he’d be at this time,†Hawksworth said. “I’m sure he’s surrounded by other actors. I could ask around the Mermaid and see if anyone knows where he might be. But that might also make me look suspicious.â€

 

“You’re just a concerned citizen,†Selwyn said.

 

“Why don’t you ask about what happened at the Globe,†Skern said. “Then they’ll think you weren’t even there.â€

 

“Nobody seems to know anything,†Hawksworth said. “They don’t even know we were involved.â€

 

“That’s good.â€

 

“But I do believe that since I already met with Shakespeare and he knows we have good intentions, I might be able to find him.â€

 

He looked around, hoping to see Kent but the man was not there. He didn’t see anyone associated with the Globe.

 

“One of us should try his house,†Skern said.

 

“I would guess a group of men would have taken him home by now,†Hawksworth said. “So, I think I’m going to Shakespeare’s house. If anyone would like to accompany me, especially now that Joseph might have been there as well, for all we know, so he might have seen us intervening and he wants to finish the job. If nobody minds, I’d like to take Godfrey after seeing what he’s capable of.â€

 

They discussed going to see Shakespeare and all of them decided to go. They also discussed going to High Wycombe to see Dr. John Dee, Selwyn suggesting they could leave that very night, though it would take several hours to get to High Wycombe by coach.

 

“Perhaps Shakespeare would want to come with us,†Hawksworth suggested.

 

“Well, it would be easier to protect him,†Selwyn said.

 

“Well, we don’t have the permit for him though,†Skern said.

 

“Aw, he’s Shakespeare,†Hawksworth said.

 

“I’m going to go check on Lucy. And tell her that I murdered someone for her. Can I meet you all at the coach?â€

 

“Tomorrow?â€

 

“We should make haste.â€

 

“We should go tomorrow, I think.â€

 

“Yes,†Selwyn said. “And if Shakespeare decides to come with us, I shall get him a license as well. On Van der Wyck’s bill.â€

 

“Do not tell Lucy that you avenged her cousin’s death,†Hawksworth told Skern. “I know you want to … but do not.â€

 

“I told her I was going to!†Skern said.

 

“Well, at least make sure she doesn’t tell anyone.â€

 

“Well, who would she tell? She’s an honorable lady.â€

 

Hawksworth looked at Selwyn.

 

“I … I guess,†Selwyn said. “I don’t know women, really.â€

 

“I’m not going to tell her you did it!†Skern said.

 

“Well, good, because─†Hawksworth said.

 

“I’m only going to give her my name.â€

 

“Well, I merely finished what he started,†Hawksworth pointed at Godfrey. “If anyone’s the murderer, it’s Godfrey.â€

 

“He was already bleeding when I saw him!†Godfrey said.

 

“I’m not going to say that anyone is involved,†Skern said. “I’m just going to tell her I’m working on avenging … and … that …â€

 

“The avenging is going well?†Selwyn said.

 

“The avenging is going well,†Skern finished.

 

“But you’ve heard rumors that there is a dead Dutchman,†Godfrey said.

 

“I won’t even tell her I did it,†Skern said. “I’ll just say that─â€

 

“If you take credit, that would be fine by us,†Selwyn said.

 

“All right then,†Skern said. “I don’t mind.â€

 

“Do not mention our names,†Hawksworth said.

 

“You do not know us,†Godfrey said.

 

“But later you can know us because we were going on the trip,†Selwyn said.

 

“Because we were going on the trip,†Skern said. “I’ll be discreet, but I want to let her know action has been taken.â€

 

“Just to be particular, I did finish the job,†Hawksworth said. “But, I mean, he’s the murderer.â€

 

He pointed at Godfrey.

 

“Just to be particular, I did start it,†Skern said.

 

“Skern started it!†Godfrey said.

 

“You started it, he met in the middle, I had to finish what you two couldn’t,†Hawksworth said.

 

“I wish I had been there,†Selwyn said. “It sounds like it was fun.â€

 

“Maybe if you had just climbed up a little faster!†Skern said.

 

“I couldn’t get a good grip,†Hawksworth said.

 

They parted, Skern going to Lucy Henry’s house and the rest of them going to Shakespeare’s house.

 

* * *

 

Anna answered the door at the Henry house.

 

“I must speak to Lucy,†Skern said to her.

 

“You smell of gunpowder,†Anna said, disapprovingly.

 

She let the man into the sitting room and went to get Lucy. The girl appeared a few minutes later.

 

“Octavian, yes,†she said, sitting on the chair. “What news? What news?â€

 

“Lucy, I have some news for you,†Skern said. “Have you heard what happened at the Globe today?â€

 

“No, I haven’t been out of the house.â€

 

“Um … well … Van der Wyck was killed there, this afternoon.â€

 

“At the Globe?â€

 

“At the Globe.â€

 

Lucy gasped.

 

“Good,†she said, her eyes suddenly brimming with tears. “After what he did to my cousin …â€

 

“Oh good,†Skern said. “He’s not the only one involved, we believe. But I’m investigating.â€

 

“My heart goes with you, Octavian. If you … please … help avenge her death.â€

 

“I will!â€

 

He laughed and drew his sword striding towards the foyer. Lucy pulled out her handkerchief and waved it at him. He stopped at the front door.

 

“I will not rest until the deed is done!†he said.

 

He planned to fling the door open and dash out, but the lock was somehow jammed and he worried at it instead, spoiling his dramatic exit. He finally got it open, flourished his sword again, and dashed out, glaring at Anna for not keeping the door properly oiled.

 

* * *

 

Hawksworth, Selwyn, and Godfrey returned to Cripplegate and the house of Shakespeare. A large, burly man stood outside the front door. Hawksworth recognized him as an actor he had once known. The man recognized him and let them all in. They found Shakespeare in the parlor, reclining on a makeshift bed. He looked terribly pale and seemed weak. He coughed often and several other men were there, seeing to him, as well as a physician.

 

“Might we speak with you alone, sir?†Hawksworth asked him.

 

“Yes, well … yes, of course,†Shakespeare said. “It’ll be fine.â€

 

He shooed the other men out of the room, including the physician with his bottle of leeches. The men all left and they closed the door.

 

“My God, Hawksworth, what was that?†Shakespeare asked the moment the doors were closed. “What happened?â€

 

“Well, I hate to say I told you so …†Hawksworth said.

 

“Then don’t!â€

 

“… but I told you so.â€

 

“He told you so,†Selwyn said.

 

“Have you heard the news about who it was?†Hawksworth asked.

 

“No,†Shakespeare said.

 

“Johannes van der Wyck. The Dutchman.â€

 

“The man whose house you found the note in?â€

 

“Yes. And the man that you have also met at some point, yes?â€

 

“Van der Wyck?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“No. No.â€

 

“You have no dealings with Van der Wyck?â€

 

“No.â€

 

“If that be true, then why would he make an attempt on your life?â€

 

“I have no idea.â€

 

Hawksworth had just been testing the man.

 

“We believe that he was sent by Joseph Barker,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Joseph Barker is not a real person,†Shakespeare said. “I told you. And it’s Joseph Harker. He’s a character from that terrible King in Yellowe.â€

 

“After all the things you’ve dealt with, you think there’s a fine line between what is real and what is not.â€

 

“Well, you have me there. Something terrible happened tonight. Some kind of witchcraft or something.â€

 

“Maybe like this yellow king that is apparently an abomination,†Selwyn said. “Maybe this Joseph is as well. Because didn’t that mad fellow say he shot him in the chest and … now he’s trying to kill you?â€

 

“Yes, Moore,†Hawksworth said. “Have you heard of David Moore?â€

 

“The lyricist?†Shakespeare said.

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Yes, I’ve heard of him. He wrote some amazing things. I’ve not heard of him in at least six months, maybe a year.â€

 

“He’s apparently at St. Mary’s.â€

 

“Oh dear.â€

 

“After he attempted to take his own life and the life of Joseph Barker.â€

 

“Wait … Joseph Barker?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Did he say Joseph Barker?â€

 

“Yes, of course.â€

 

“All right. There are plenty of men here guarding me.â€

 

“Yes, we do not fear for your life any longer. But what I am worried about─â€

 

“Well, I do.â€

 

“What I am worried about, though, is finding this Joseph fellow.â€

 

“So he doesn’t try to kill you again,†Selwyn said.

 

“I don’t know a Joseph,†Shakespeare said.

 

“Maybe in your dreams?†Selwyn said.

 

Shakespeare looked at him strangely.

 

“We do have one more lead we’re going to follow up on the morrow,†Hawksworth said. “Dr. Dee.â€

 

“John Dee?†Shakespeare said. “Oh. Well, he’s a genius from what I’ve heard. He’s done everything.â€

 

“He also worked with Moore in summoning the King in Yellow. And of other things.â€

 

“I don’t know what witchcraft this all is, Hawksworth. I stopped working with Croft because things were too … awful and wrong. I wish you well and Godspeed and good luck and God bless if that will help at all.â€

 

“Are you going to be staying here for a couple of days?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Good.â€

 

“We will try next week with Hamlet again.â€

 

“Do not leave this place until we have spoken once again so we can update you on what we’ve found and what we’re doing.â€

 

“Very well. Very well.â€

 

Shakespeare told him he’d had a terrible pain in his chest, as if something were trying to drag his heart from his very bosom. He feared if it hadn’t stopped, his heart would have burst piecemeal from his very ribs.

 

“Oh, but you have the heart of a playwright and those are strong,†Hawksworth said.

 

“That’s true,†Shakespeare said.

 

Hawksworth took the strange stone he’d gotten from Van der Wyck’s body out. Godfrey groaned and looked away.

 

“I wouldn’t do that!†he said.

 

Hawksworth showed Shakespeare the strange stone and the man looked at it only a moment before turning his head away, pale.

 

“Oh!†he said. “Oh dear! What in the wide world is that thing!?! Take it away! Take it away!â€

 

“Have you seen it before?†Selwyn asked.

 

“No! No! God no!†Shakespeare said.

 

Hawksworth put it back into his pocket.

 

“Christ’s blood, no!†Shakespeare said again.

 

“That was on Van der Wyck’s body when we found him,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Well don’t ever bring it near me again,†Shakespeare said. “What the Hell was that?â€

 

“It was also in Croft’s house,†Selwyn said. “The same symbol painted on his wall.â€

 

“And in Van der Wyck’s home where they found that mutilated girl,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Well, it must be some kind of conspiracy then,†Shakespeare said, catching his breath. “My God, what is it? What is that horrible thing?â€

 

“We don’t know but we don’t like it either.â€

 

“Tis a terrible thing. Tis a terrible thing. I suggest you destroy it and any others you find like it. God’s blood, that is the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen.â€

 

“Really?â€

 

“Yes. No. It ranks amongst the top three.â€

 

“Well, I’m glad to have helped you with that list, then.â€

 

“I’m not.â€

 

Shakespeare offered them wine and they all drank. He asked what happened at the Globe to him.

 

“We … aided in the stopping of Van der Wyck and that is all I’m going to say,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Fair enough,†Shakespeare said. “If you ever wish to tell me the whole story someday, Hawksworth, I would be glad to hear it.â€

 

“Over a glass of wine and just the two of us in the house.â€

 

“Many glasses of wine, perhaps. But don’t bring that thing back into any house I’m in ever again.â€

 

“Now what would you say is the most disturbing thing you’ve ever seen,†Selwyn asked. “If that’s just in the top three.â€

 

“I told you of the spell Croft cast to summon some … thing to aid us in writing The King in Yellowe,†Shakespeare said. “It was awful.â€

 

“Thanks!†Selwyn said.

 

They left Shakespeare’s residence.

 

“Considering the play was cut short … maybe we should go today,†Hawksworth said.

 

“We could pick up Skern and head off,†Selwyn said.

 

“You don’t think he’ll be with Lucy the rest of the day, do you?â€

 

“Ah … from the sound of things, I would doubt it.â€

 

Hawksworth laughed.

 

“We could, perhaps, go to Lucy’s house and let her know that Skern did stab an innocent man,†Hawksworth quipped.

 

He laughed at his own joke.

 

“I should get a sword,†he said. “Now.â€

 

They decided to do some shopping for weapons and then they planned to meet at Skern’s apartment over Fletcher’s print shop. Hawksworth purchased a rapier to defend himself with. Godfrey purchased a second wheellock pistol and loaded it, tucking it into the back of his belt. They met again and went to the wooden steps that led to Skern’s apartment above the printer’s shop. He seemed glad to see them and greeted them, letting them come in from the cold. He put the kettle on and started to prepare some tea.

 

“Are you ready to go because I do believe we’re going to go find Doctor Dee today,†Hawksworth said.

 

“Yeah,†Skern said. “Yeah, I can go today. Just let me check on the shop.â€

 

He went down and got permission from Fletcher to go to High Wycombe.


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