Chapter Seven: War Aeterna
- In which our heroes see the horrors of war, meet a group who serves the empire at all costs, and learns some highly confusing facts about the rest of the world.
- 1 What the bloody hell just happened?!
- 2 The World Famous London Daily Mirror
- 3 Questions... Questions that Need Some Form Of Written Response
What the bloody hell just happened?!
In the bowls of The Cavern Nellie, Gram, and Percy fight against Maeve. Nellie sets about freeing her prisoners while Gram and Percy attack her directly. To Grams (and Maeve’s) utter shock, his sword manages to pierce her side. Repeated stabbing puts a seeming end to the Dark Lady, who explodes into chunks of blue-grey flesh and plasma.
Nellie frees Queen Mary and Lord Vallum from their bonds, while Gram and Percy continue to be aghast at the relative ease of killing one of the most renown of the Gentry. The Queen ushers them off to her Horseless Coach and Vallum drives them through the still-foggy streets to Guildhall. When Gram asks the Queen why it was so easy she gets a calmly pleased look on her face and remarked “it performed to specifications.”
Upon arrival it becomes clear that Guildhall has come under attack by the Blackstreeters. Several burning piles of debris (including a moped) lie just outside its doors. The Man for All Seasons seems very concerned about the fire, despite (or perhaps because of) the presence of the Metropolitan Fire Department.
The Clockwork Palace has been converted to full Summer mode: Its banners changed from green and silver to red and gold. The glass ballroom floor now has a large, to scale model of London beneath it, made of the same dark brass the rest of the building is composed of. Several Summer officers wander the floors writing on the glass in erasable markers making notes on areas that have been attacked. King George thanks them for retrieving the Queen and walks off with her to discuss matters of magical strategy and defense. Before leaving he orders all of them to go get a good night's sleep.
On the way out, our heroes see McKendry Cak, Duke Mortimer, Dr. Glastig, and a clearly distressed Sir Beryl Whitehall talking quietly in a corner. When the motley attempts to talk to Sir Beryl about The Ambassador and the Dusk Court, he becomes more distressed then before and tells them not to mention the Dusk court to anyone else. He reveals only that the Dusk Court is made up of “Vampires, among others” and that The Ambassador was once the representative of the Empire to most of it’s outerfreeholds that lie Beyond the Sea.
The next morning Gram, Percy, Perth, and Nellie seek to find information on the still-missing Oliver. The Pub, Guildhall, and Forget are all closed (the two former for “refurbishment” and the latter due to the extensive fire damage) so our heroes trod off to The Eccentric Club for breakfast and news. The Eccentric Club is fairly full today, owing to the fact that it is one of the few locations within the Empire that was not attacked in the opening salvos of what is now being called King George’s War. The members of The Posh and the First Regiment have the bar well camped out and both groups appear to be are extremely frustrated.
- The Posh seem to have been drafted into service (as everyone has) and are expected to start drilling soon. Aside from the fact that most of them have never performed “physical labor”, they are also expected to “kick in” for their own uniforms and weapons (money they don’t have because they are “waiting for Aunt Constance and Uncle Simon to cut a bloody check”). The only silver lining being that a) soldiers and ladies drink free and b) King George seems content to fight every battle “singlehandedly, blindfolded and with two hands tied behind his back.” They strongly hint that King George is mentally deranged.
- The Summer dissidents have nearly the opposite complaint: Nothing is happening. Despite the King’s declaration of universal war no major troop movements have been made, leaving the Summer courtiers all dressed up with nowhere to go. The complaints about the lack of fighting in recent years are coming more and more to a head with Rodger West even going as far as to call the King a “coward” (a term referring to a leader of Summer who refuses to fight). This nearly treasonous talk is cut short by Percy’s presence, as he is their superior officer.
At breakfast, Percy sees his on-again off-again kinda-sorta future girlfriend, Lady Donna Nobel and she asks him to help her move. It seems the wealth of The Royal Family of Spring is fully derived from Edane’s power to spend revenue as the Queen. Now that spring is over, the RFoS are flat broke and need to ship themselves off to the Imperial College dorms. The Queen and rest of the Royal Family will also need help moving. Nellie runs into Sir Roderick Bassett in the hallway, clawing at the wallpaper and screaming about the fog how “it’s a cage” and how he doesn’t want to go outside. He makes clear reference to Nellie and Perth’s seemings: a sign that he is suddenly aware of the wyrd. Nellie alerts other and Sir Roderick’s secretary, Ms. Travers, has McKendry Cak help her sedate him. Nellie is told that King George was looking for her to “capture his ineffable sacrifice.”
Our heroes head to The House hoping to launch a rescue mission for Oliver only to find him drinking in the library. He reveals that a particularly manic Sir Roderick saved him from the fog and spirited him away from the old Bailey, raving hysterically about locks and cages while interspersing it with bizarre non sequiturs and quotations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He insists that they follow him to The Algate Arms so he can show them what he has learned. As the Algate is reasonably close to where the King supposedly is (a Rabbit Hole in the east end) they agree to stop by on their way back.
Our heroes (minus Perth who is still fairly badly hurt) head to the Rabbit Hole on the east side only to discover it is one of the Jack the Ripper murder locations, being guarded by Lord Aelium, a members of the Conclave of the Wyrd (he apparently appears as a tour guide to the mundane mortals passing the spot). He imparts the following information
- All locations where Ripper victims were murdered left gaping holes in the Hedge that cannot be closed. More then Rabbit Holes, these openings are “Scars” or “Wounds” in the fabric of reality through which nastiness and magic can pour through.
- The Conclave of the Wyrd watches over the Ripper murder locations. He would not elaborate on why or the rumor that the Ripper was an Autumn Court changeling.
- The King and his men have used the Rabbit Hole to access the deep hedge, the lower regions known sometimes as Wonderland. It is in those regions that the City of Underlondon lies, assessable only through the Deep Hedge or the abandoned British Museum tube station.
- The “wand” that the Queen of Autumn uses is called The Mortis and can focus the raw strength of death’s contracts. At the lightest it can just induce a living Rigor Mortis, causing the victim to go stiff and possibly void his or her bowels. At worst, it causes instantiations death.
The King and the Household Cavalry emerge from the Rabbit Hole. The King is furious that they were unable to locate the bulk of The Family Quay and that the few Goblins they encountered did nothing but run away. Sir Beryl talks with our heroes about the attacks so far saying that they have met no resistance anywhere they have attacked, which has frustrated the king to no end. Nellie leaves with the King and Gram, Percy and Oliver head to The Algate Arms.
Gram and Percy follow Oliver to The Algate Arms. Oliver explains that after Sir Roderick left him, he came here thinking it was an imperial location and would be mildly safe. He introduces them to Lucas, the wizened bartender of the Algate who gives them the following information
- Lucas can’t leave the Algate arms nor can he explain why due to his status as one of The Punished. He can’t talk about why he was Punished or even who punished him.
- He does state that the Empress was not involved, nor was the King of Summer.
- He claims that his punishment was not due to any crime he committed, but because of “something [he] refused to do”
- The Algate was once managed by Lord Austin Derleth, the Duke of Paths. Lord Austin was murdered outside the Algate in a small pond now known as “Lake Austin”. Before it was called the Algate, it was “Mozart’s Café” and before that it was know as the Axis Mundi, the center of the world. It was the way that The White Tower kept track of its Empire Beyond the Sea.
- The Ambassador once made frequent use of the building to travel to and from the various far flung parts of the globe, but had not been in the building in “many, many years”.
- There are other locations that contain the punished.
Oliver takes Gram and Percy through one of the doors on the walls of the Arms. They arrive in the rather desolate looking streets of Sydney, Australia. The location that Oliver was so eager to show to Gram and Percy is near the center of town -- the WWII memorial. Attempts to enter the hedge In Sydney result in staring at a wall of brambles that are utterly impenetrable. A small plaque on the side of the monument appears to be written in Gaelic (similarly to the Hong Kong Handover and includes several names one of which has had the first part of it burned off, very much like how Mr. Black’s name appears on all documents. Wild howling and a blood-red moon convinces our heroes to rush back to the Algate.
Nellie dines with King George and the members of the Household Cavalry and picks up some very interesting tidbits about the immediate future-
- Sir Beryl and Princess Margret are to be married in early August at high noon on what the Oracles promise will be the warmest day of the year. Beryl seems somewhat apprehensive about sharing this news, but King George is “pleased as bloody punch” with the choice.
- The War is going entirely too well so far by the estimations of everyone involved. No one understands why The Family Quay has retreated deep into the sewers, avoiding battle or why the Blackstreeters have likewise hold themselves up in the Manor, a location that “Imperial forces are not permitted to enter with violent intent”
- King George is the only individual in the entire war who has managed a kill so far, racking up 13 to his name, mostly killing Goblins as they ran screaming from him, refusing to fight. The King is highly frustrated at this fact.
- The mysterious American forces that were seen attacking Imperial holdings the night of The Spring Fling have not reared their heads again. There locations are totally unknown and neither Autumnal oracles nor Spring and Winter spies have been able to locate them.
- Beryl and the rest of the Household Cavalry are doggedly loyal to his majesty, though Beryl seems to be worrying about the King’s mental health.
- The First and Second Regiments have been put on alert, but have not been given orders, leaving most of them standing around doing nothing. Gene Hunt has apparently been taking his frustration out on Mundys he sees littering or violating traffic laws.
Lucas insists that he has given them all the help he can and they must leave quickly, but Gram manages to magically extract one final piece of information from him- another of the Punished is close by at The Monument to the Great Fire of London. The revelation of this fact causes Lucas burning pain, leaving him writhing on the floor and bleeding from his eyes. Oliver returns to The House to try and translate the rubbing of the side of the memorial in Australia and Gram and Percy continue on to The Monument.
Gram and Percy arrive at the Monument and hop on a tour group learning several interesting facts about the structure. While walking up the stairs Gram and Percy both feel a strange sensation while passing over the uppermost stairs. The closest feeling they can extract it to is the bizarre idea that they are walking over their own graves. Attempts to enter the Hedge prove fruitless as all doors are locked firmly.
After discovering that there are laboratories under the building, Gram and Percy manage to con their way downstairs. After fumbling about in a pitch black space in the hedge, they manage to find a secret grove under the building where The American Woman is apparently waiting for them. She is strangely speaking in an English accent and “is able” to give them the following information
- Her American accent “comes and goes”
- Every 111 years something bad happens to the British empire. Whatever causes this badness to happen is also responsible for the punished. The great fire was the first event in this cycle.
- Lord Henry Blackmund paid to have the laboratories under the Monument refurbished. Not even the American Woman knows why, but she suspects he knows far more then he should.
- The Jack the Ripper murder locations were not accidental. There was a grand design to the murders that “suited” The Empire.
- She is unsure if there actually ARE any changelings outside of London anymore. They had been “slowly fading away” for decades now.
- There is a good reason why there are only 311 members of the Empire, but she is forbidden from speaking of it
- The Punished are stationed at many locations in the Empire, acting as guards or guardians. Mr. Bollinger of Bedlam is another of the punished according to the American.
- All of the Punished “deserve” their punishment according to the American Woman.
- The only reason she is giving them any information is because the Blackmasks are coming to kill Gram and Percy for talking to Lucas and herself. The Blackmasks “protect that which needs protecting” and “watch the watchmen”.
Gram and Percy run from a unit of blackmasks that arrive to take them away. They discover that the Blackmasks travel using a gigantic spectral black zeppelin that seems to be able to “phase” in and out of sight (or perhaps it teleports . . . it's not totally clear). They meet up with Nellie and Perth (who is now up and about) and fill them in. They decide to head to have a nice friendly chat with Lord Henry Blackmund.
Our heroes head to the Ashwood Abbey to confront Lord Henry only to find him surrounded by angry summer courtiers. They appear to be suiting up for battle with or without the King’s orders. . . .
The World Famous London Daily Mirror
For other articles see- London Daily Mirror
Blackmund Charitable Heritage Trust To Endow Three More
Just when you couldn't love 'em anymore, Lord Henry Blackmund, heir to the Blackmund family fortune and a respectable businessman in his own right is going to continue his crusade to "preserve the essence of english history in the heart of London" by donating the funds to refurbish three more major historic sights in the city.
Already well respected for his refurbishment of legendary Hill's Crown (now his private residence) and The Monument, Blackmund is set to refurbish a number of other london landmarks, though he's keeping mum on the juicy details so far, jovially saying "I think the people of London will just 'go over the Hedge' when I make the announcement. It'll be a real scream!" Though we've no official word, the rumors center on Bethlehem Royal Hospital, the student union at Imperial College or even more high profile spots. When asked about those spots and others, the Baron just laughed and laughed...
(MORE CHARITY ON PAGE 6)
Questions... Questions that Need Some Form Of Written Response
For other questions see- The Master Question List
- Why was Maeve so easy to kill? Will she be back? Why was she in London to begin with? Was she after Gram? His mysterious lost love?
- What did Queen Mary mean when she said “it performed to specifications”? What is “it”? The Cavern? Maeve?
- What were McKendry, Beryl, Glastig and Mortimer meeting about? Why did Beryl look so distressed afterwords?
- What the hell is going on with Sir Roderick? What will the Empire do to deal with him?
- What of The Punished? What is their place in the empire? Who punished them?
- What is going on in the rest of the world? Are there any other places like poor Sydney? What happened to all the changelings in that town? Was Mr. Black involved somehow?
- What is causing the cycle of 111? Why is it important now? If the blackmasks are involved, how does this tie into their kidnapping of Matthew Bramsetter back in Chapter One?
- What is Barron Blackmund’s role in all this? How much does he know?
|The Book of Spring: Chapter One: Black Masks and Coronation Cake • Chapter Two: The Illuminated Texts • Chapter Three: The Good Fight • Chapter Four: A Little Drop of Poison • Chapter Five: Games of Fortune • Chapter Six: For Everything|
|The Book of Summer: Chapter Seven: War Aeterna • Chapter Eight: War Plan Red • Chapter Nine: Trust No One • Chapter Ten: Best Laid Plans • Chapter Eleven: The Quest • Chapter Twelve: The Saber Arch • Chapter Thirteen: The Diary of Prince Martin • Chapter Fourteen: Sacrifices • Chapter Fifteen: There Is A Season|
|The Book of Autumn: Chapter Sixteen: Black Holes and Revelations • Chapter Seventeen: The Last Magic Mirror • Chapter Eighteen: The Final Terrible Fate of Elizabeth Chandler • Chapter Nineteen: Treason, Sedition, Heresy • Chapter Twenty: Iron Sacrifice of Body, Will and Soul • Chapter Twenty-One: Time For Every Purpose|
|The Book of Winter: Chapter Twenty-Two: Pax Hiems • Chapter Twenty-Three: The Diary of Mrs. Thistle Sept-Dec 1888 • Chapter Twenty-Four: Choices|