Sunday, May 10, 2009

Danger in Londinium

The day had been gray and overcast as the carriage made its way to Londinium, but by nightfall the sky was clear and the temperatures started to fall. Though the hour was late, I could not sleep, so I left my squalid room and walked to the docks.

Business had taken me to New Babbage, and there, from Dr. Fabre, I had heard of Londinium. Though taking me on a considerable detour from my return to Caledon, and accessible through a hired coach only, I was intrigued by Dr. Fabre’s description. Located well off the Caledon-Winterfell-Babbage-Steelhead-Victoriana-Steeltopia trade route, Londinium stands apart from time. Its Renaissance-era (and earlier!) buildings still stand, and its industry hearkens back to an earlier day as though steam has not reached her ascendency. Yet the townspeople are not unaware of the wider world outside, and one sees the occasional airship moored along the river.

As I walked from the Visitors’ Center (where I stared at a map of the town itself, as well as a map of North Londinium) toward the docks, a clergyman greeted me. Despite the late hour, he appeared quite energetic. He welcomed me to the town, then warned me to be careful, especially at night, as a murderer was on the loose. I thanked him, and was grateful I was carrying my pistol – a small fact that I omitted from the priest. We were then greeted by a Miss Fall, an actress of some renown. As the priest departed, I had a long conversation with Miss Fall, who warned me that not everything in Londinium was what it seemed – particularly with regard to the clergy. It was clear that not all was well within the town, far beyond the killer at large. I could sense that Miss Fall knew much more than she was willing to say to a stranger.

I look at the map in the Visitor's Center

A submersible sits at the docks

An airship is moored at the docks

I seek quietude in the confessional

Dawn broke, and Miss Fall accompanied me to the church of St. Boltoph, where she suggested I might begin my inquiries. She would go no further than the doors of the church, so we parted there. At that early hour, the church was nearly deserted. I explored the sanctuary, which seemed nothing out of the ordinary, when I happened to lean against the lectern, thereby triggering a mechanism that opened a secret passageway to a tunnel below!

I held a torch and gingerly made my way down the stone steps until the tunnel leveled off and widened into a well-lighted passageway. As I explored, horror descended upon me. One corridor led to a small chapel. In contrast with the nave above, this seemed devoted to perversions of the Christian faith. Other corridors led to small rooms that appeared to be used for imprisoning and torturing the unfortunates who crossed the masters of this town. So intent was I at studying the machinery that I failed to hear footsteps behind me…

A secret passage!

I explore the passage

[Continued tomorrow]

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