New Sherlock Holmes novel, "Things that go bump in the Night," added new chapter to story. Posted now.
He stood almost six and a half feet tall. His name was Sir Elric Bedford Donan and he was Knight of the Realm, Lord of Harbors and Rivers in the House of Commons. He spoke directly to Queen Mary of Scots on all matters of importance. He was a man to be reckoned with boy physically and mentally, as well as politically, wherein he had no rivals, at least none that dared speak to such.
His hair was long, unlike that of his peers, hanging in a long braid down the middle of his back. This was his salute to his past Scottish heritage and the wild Scottish clan he had been born within...the Donan Bedfords...a mix of bloods that had resulted when the Bedfords had invaded the lochs to take the castle, but whose eldest son had fallen in love with Kathryn Donan and thus ended the war so that he could marry her.
Eilean Donan Castle was located on its own little island , overlooking the Isle of Skye, at a point where it could keep watch on the three great sea lochs, while at the same time having access to the rich and majestic splendour of the forested mountains of Kintail.
A breath-taking location that still awed Sir Elric, even in his declining years now, when he returned to renew acquaintances, get instructions from his Clan leaders and have the usual daliance with the prettiest daughters available.
He never thought of such things at that time and at any other time, for it was the birthright of all great leaders to have access to all the resources of those they led, even to the extent of bedrooms to warm the weary heart and soul.
He was not a horrible person. He always left the young maidens better off than when he had entered their lives, but somehow, some part of him recognized that he had taken something away from them that they would never be able to recapture again. Some vanished into the hinterlands, to serve other Lords, or get married, never heard from again. Others just vanished.
It never occured to him that they might have died or something worse had happened. It was not his nature to live in the past, let alone the present. He was always focused on future glories, future conquests and this year, this time he was focused on moving into a position of power just to the right of Queen Mary of Scots, and that required the strictest of concentration and a devote attention to the details of the machinations he was involved with.
And so it was that when he sat high upon the Tower of London, seated at the High Chair, the Queen usually sat upon, he overlooked the Thames and the greater London, admiring the jewel tht in his heart of hearts, he preyed to one day conquer and wield as his greatest asset and symbol of power yet.
He did not have to kill the Queen to do so, nor to overrun her with her with meek attempts at overthrowing her authority. No, he merely had to wait for the inevitable day she would make a fatal mistake of power and he could easily step forward to assure the nation that he was better able to mount the throne and uphold its sacred position.
So it was that those thoughts warmed the coals of his heart, striking them to life in flames of lust for power and glory. So it also was that the didn't hear the footsteps approach him from behind, nor the door that had opened behind him before that.
When he finally became aware of the presence, he smiled. "Ah, Virginia, my sweet, you have come to overlook our kingdom with me?" He asked without turning.
She usually came about this hour to sit beside him and stroke his vanity as well as other more delicate parts of himself. He loved her in certain ways for her ambition and also for her bawdiness. She was an actress in Shakespeare's company, who rallied the common folk behind any personage she played. Actressses were rare in theater these days, but becoming more common because of Queen Mary of Scots liberal ways.
Some parts of him hated her for that, for he preferred the comely leg of a lad far more than that of a woman's when playing female roles. He felt somewhat offended that a woman should be fallen so that she had to play...well, a woman!
"Isn't it beautiful?" He asked, still not turning to look, assuming she was behind him watching as well. She was a silent one.
"See there, the fog is beginning to roll across the wharves, overcoming the taverns, wenches and sailors that are harbored there in their dens of delight and inequity."
What he was not saying was that his money sponsored much of the vices that were practiced below at the Thames. Drugs, prostitution and other things he didn't care to know about as long as they drew forth more gold into his coffers. He was not a greedy man, but he preferred wealth over poverty. And the more of it that fell into his pockets, then so be it.
"Think of it, my dear ,Virginia. Someday this will all be ours. You and I. We shall rule from here and survey our domain like the regal companions we will become."
Elric felt her come closer to him. He felt the pressure of a gloved hand upon his neck. "Ah, you decided to try a different role tonight, my fiery maiden. It pleases me to see the inventiveness of your play, our play together."
Then his eyes almost popped out as the hand gripped his throat.
He choked. "What..."
Everything went black and he descended into darkness.
Queen Mary of Scots clung to her thick royal coat, embroidered with the royal arms upon its shoulder pads, much like a soldier's stripes were upon his. She stared at the view of her city, shivering, almost violently. Her pale blue eyes were staring off into a land they rarely ever saw, except sometimes in brief visions. Something she never told others about, but she suspected her best friends had figured out, was that she could sometimes catch glimpses of the future...maybe not of their world, but a similar one.
Once she had seen this horrible man gloating as her head was cleaved from her neck by a dark and surly man with an axe dripping blood. She had awoken with her heart beating so loudly in her chest she had felt for certain that all of London could hear it.
"Your majesty." Doctor Watson's voice came from behind.
She turned to look at him, not daring to look at the man strapped to her chair, his mutilated body drained of blood. Watson was giving her a kind look, but a firm one. "I must know how this man..."
"Lord Elric." She corrected him.
"This man." Doctor Watson repeated, not giving an inch. "How this man was able to sit on your throne in this room without your permission?"
"It is none of your business." She scalded him rather sharply.
Watson barely responded with a flicker of emotion in his eyes.
"Oh, my dear Madame Queen." Another voice spoke from the shadows by the now burnt out fireplace. "I think it is."
She turned slightly and Sherlock stepped from the shadows, his beak nose catching just the briefest edges of a torch inserted by the door, where several of the Queen's personal guard were stationed, swords in hand.
"It is a mystery to me." She finally answered. She seemed all at once deflated and no longer regal and proud, but like a young girl with all the fight beaten out of her.
She began to mist. "I trusted him with my kingdom's most guarded secrets."
Sherlock nodded, then delicately handed her a hanky, which she took and carefully blew into, making very dainty sounds.
Watson and Holmes exchanged glances.
Watson cleared his throat. "This is not the first."
Queen Mary of Scots turned to view his face. "First what?"
"Murder of this kind."
"It seems we have a serial killer loose in London." Holmes clarified. "Someone who cares not if the victim is rich or poor. And yet."
"And yet what?"
"It is not the pattern of serial murderers. It is too..."
"Patently brazen." Watson finished for Holmes. "My pardon, Holmes."
"Accepted, Watson. Brilliant deduction."
"I've had a good teacher." Watson declared.
Holmes inclined his head, then his eyes caught something in the window frame. "That's odd."
"Watson, your tweezers."
Watson pulled a pair of tweezers from his medical bag and handed them over.
Sherlock went to the window and plucked at a slight piece of fiber caught on its edge.
"What is it, Sherlock?" Queen Mary of Scots demanded.
"Vial." Holmes ordered.
Watson produced a vial, unstoppered it and handed it over. Holmes thrust the tweezers into its throat, then took the stopper and recorked the vial. He glanced into the vial a moment, making suggestive sounds, then eyed the Queen. "Did this man frequently have female visitors?"
"Here? I should hope not!"
"We've already determined he was here unknown to you, so having a female companion would not be such a stretch."
She sighed, then seemed even more deflated. "It's common knowledge in the court that the man used his position to acquire..." She failed to continue.
"Ah." Holmes finished for her. "I see."
"The Queen and I have some unfinished business to discuss. Will you mind us leaving for some time?"
"Not at all. I need to inspect the body and take samples anyway."
Holmes started to leave with the Queen as he took her right arm.
They both stopped and looked back. Watson's eyes had hardened. "I would hardly be surprised to find the same surgical deftness and missing of organs as the last."
The Queen shuddered and Holmes tapped her arm gently. "Fear not, Your Majesty, we shall find this fiend."
"I pray so." She said with a sigh. "But sometimes I wonder why our country is so cursed with these foul demons."
"In the absence of light there is always darkness." Holmes told her in a mysterious tone.
She gave him a surprised look.
"Are you saying our country is in darkness?"
Holmes didn't answer, instead he guided her from the room.
Watson turned back to the corpse on the chair, where it was strapped. The eyes were missing, the teeth broken, the nose cut off, the ears sewn to the bare shoulders like military stripes. The fingers were all sewn onto the chest. Then his eyes widened.
He moved closer, then gasped. He hurriedly pulled out his notebook and began drawing the shape of the fingers like a madman on a desperate last mission.