There was a sound of wind rushing by Ivy's head and she tried to block out the sound with her hands but her hands where restrained. "The Hell?" she muttered as awareness slowly returned to her.
She pulled at the bonds that held her hands above her head and secured to a frame. Images swam in front of her moving in and out of focus.
"Wake up sister, I thought we would have to wait until I returned but what with your recuperative powers, well here you are."
Her eyes slowly adjusted to the light and sharpened their focus until Victor's smiling form coalesced in front of her. "You bastard, she muttered "you drugged the braziers. The smoke, some kind of drug."
"Very good dear sister, odorless and tasteless but most effective when the body is in a state of excitement or exhaustion."
"So the rest of the household."
"Also sleeping like babes, all of them save for Max, I mixed the antidote into the dressing of the salad he ate before the match. Alas, my father did not survive, the fact I mixed poison into the antidote I gave him might have contributed to that but who can tell. I have to say I was disappointed that Mr. Lake ran off so quickly but hardly surprised. Men like him lack subtlety."
Ivy strained at the bonds holding her to the frame. "So you think your going to torture the secret of where he's going out of me."
"What secret, he is heading to the bend to met the train carrying the Interior Minister and attempt to warn him that I intend the man harm. The surprise is not what he is doing Ivy, it's you, why involve yourself in petty games with the likes of them. You and I are made of the stuff of legends we are meant for greater things."
"I'm involved with Lake since he insisted on risking his life and wanted me to help. As for the rest of it, I could not care less. Had you not gotten me in trouble with your ham-fisted attempt at assassination, I would be on a boat headed back to the continent by now."
"What did I do?"
"Tripcott, when you had him killed, suspicion fell on me. The only way to prove my innocence was to find the person responsible. Namely you and your doddering old fool of a father."
"Ah Tripcott, in the end he was so eager to find redemption for his vile soul it was easy to persuade him to try to find the remaining fragment. I was for just killing him but father would have his way. I was hoping he would fail so I would have an excuse to finish him. Who knew the old fool would succeed in getting you back to London."
"So since you already know where Lake is going and you know why I am here what are you going to do."
"I am going to meet the train. The Interior Minister is going to perish in a horrible accident, regretfully the heroic Mr. Lake will die with him. Unfortunately Mr. Lake's interference means I will have to leave much sooner then originally planned but what nefarious scheme ever survived contact with the real world."
"Why not unleash your pet golem."
"You did do the thing right didn’t you. I sensed you prowling the house that night but couldn’t pinpoint your location. I assumed you where looking for information about your precious sword which is why I volunteered access to the books."
"You know about the Souledge."
"I learned of the legend from my father. He got it from yours. He believed that the sword would give him the power to rule. That’s why he championed Leo's search for the blade. But your mother wouldn't have any part of it and demanded that Leo end his association with father."
"Smart woman my mother, I know you made a golem. I found the circle in the basement, Later I confirmed what you had been up to down there using the books in the library."
"I know, Ms. Rose was most reluctant to discuss what you both had been up to. Imagine her choosing that moment to be discreet. She did tell me you had a talent for translation. So, It didn't take me long to guess what you had discovered. You can't know how pleased I was. I was hoping you would find out about our shared past."
We have nothing in common."
I beg to differ my sister, both of us have lost much of our lives due to the madness of our fathers. We both choose to try and control our destiny by gaining power. We even share the same gift from them, the fragment of the soul blade. You have the piece that Tripcott stole from my father and I was formed out of the other."
"Formed out of the other, than that would mean that…"
"I didn’t make a golem Ivy, Father did. And can you really blame him, Leo was forced to gave up on Carter's dreams of power and control to marry your mother and in the end she could not provide him with the heir Leo wanted. The irony is both men seized on the same way to insure their future. Carter found out about the legend of the golem and spared no expense to bring a mystic to the house and to construct the circle in the basement. I'll give my father this much. He was always better with money then Leo. Considering the operation almost bankrupted my father it's no wonder that Leo fell deeply into debt. That was why I wanted to help you. After all, why should our lives be made difficult by our fathers mutual need to pervert the laws of nature."
You’re a golem, like Astaroth."
"I'm much more sophisticated then Astaroth, we both are. That is why I knew we were destined to be together. I will take power, you will find Souledge, and together we will remake the world to suit us."
Ivy began laughing loudly.
"Why are you laughing?" Mugson asked darkly.
Ivy's laughter echoed off the walls. When she finally calmed herself, she looked at the man in front of her. "You deluded fool I am nothing like you. I wasn't made by Leo. I was adopted by the Valentines and raised as their own. The reason you can sense me is the blood that runs through my veins; the blood of the Pirate, Cervantes de Leon. His gained the Souledge for a time and its power changed him. Since its his unholy seed that brought me into this benighted world I share many of the same gifts including being able to sense the presence of destined souls or to find fragments of the blade. Which is why I can sense you."
"It changes nothing, you will become part of my grand design or you will be a sacrifice to it."
"It changes everything for me, you see originally I was only considering killing you for all the trouble you have put me through this weekend. Now I have to cut the fragment out of your lying despicable excuse for a heart."
"I think you will be a little busy, I wish I could stay longer but I have a train to catch but I wouldn't want you to be bored." He clapped his hands and a large warrior stepped into the room. He had to duck to clear the door. His thick muscled hide still possessed the tan of years spent in the great deserts of the east.
"My friend came as a bodyguard with the mystic that did the spell that brought me into the world, kind of a two-for-one deal. Imagine my joy when it turns out he is an expert torturer as well. I hope you have a high pain threshold. I think he's been frustrated living in these halls. Having someone to work on that might last a long time will really make his day."
"So, you're torturing me to get me to help you and your twisted dreams of avarice."
"Well, that’s true but I suspect you might be reluctant to help. If I can't have your help, I intend to have your heart in my hand. I certainly don't plan to fight you when you are at your full power. I must leave now Ivy. Feel free to scream as loudly as you like this part of the house is completely sealed and even if it weren't, the drug I administered will take several more hours to wear off."
Victor gestured to the Saracen who picked up a hot poker and advanced toward Ivy. It was a tribute to her self-control that she waited until Victor's footsteps had faded away before she allowed herself to start screaming in pain.
The Saracen hurried through the halls. True to Mugson's word, the woman was strong and he was eager to use more elaborate equipment. He had been at it for a while now and she was still defiant. Just the kind of challenge he longed for. Breaking the strong was so much more rewarding, eventually everyone's body responded to pain. They wanted it to stop and the warrior was allowing the woman's pain to argue with her.
He approached the room where the woman was bound when a form detached from the shadows two swords in hand. The Saracen dropped the tools of his trade and yanked a scimitar from the belt at his side. He swung at the warrior who caught his blade with one sword even as its partner snapped toward his head. The Saracen ducked and withdrew even as the shadowy figure advanced on him.
"You'll forgive my interference but the life of this one belongs to me and none but me will take that life." the shadowy man boasted.
The Saracen darted forward but the shadowy warrior was ready and batted aside the swift attack. He plunged first one blade then the other sword home into the Saracen's chest. The Arab sunk to his knees.
"A man of your talents will understand my need to protect my territory." The man hissed. He pulled the warrior to his feet and then into the air suspended by the blades on which he was impaled. "If it gives you comfort, the death I've planned for her when the time is right will be an exquisite masterpiece." The warrior hurled the lifeless body against a wall then dropped a scroll next to the corpse.
Without a backward glance, the figure headed for the upper floors to make his escape. There was no need to check on the woman, after all, endurance of pain ran in the family though the screams had been a little shameful. That must come from her mother. She had been a screamer as well.
Ivy swam back to full awareness to realize she was being slapped. Not hard, but firmly and by someone who knew how to do it enough to get your attention but not hurt you. Her eyes focused. Greta was helping her off the frame to which she had been bound.
"Gott in Himmel, was this Mugson's work Ivy."
Ivy nodded "He wanted to talk, he correctly guessed that I might want to kill him once I knew he had drugged me."
"Really, I was sure it was that bastard Max. He kept going on about his special diet so I tasted his salad when no one was looking. I don’t know what drug Mugson used but I have tasted my share of restoratives and antidotes so that I recognized his food was covered in them. When I recovered enough to stand I searched the house where I saw the big man."
Ivy looked around the cell. "And where did my torturer disappear to. He seemed to be getting into it before I passed out."
Greta pointed at a crumpled heap on the floor. "He seems to have had met with misfortune."
Ivy checked the body and whistled "Very effective Greta I never would have guessed you had it in you."
"Charming as I find your praise, I found him like this. What is going on. First, Mugson drugs the whole household. Herr Lake is missing, and now Carter Mugson is dead."
"Victor did away with his father. No doubt he feels like he doesn't need the old man anymore."
"If you didn't kill this man and I didn’t, why would Mugson kill his own employee and then flee."
Ivy bent and retrieved the scroll. The writing on It was neat, precise, and baring the mark of the Blood Pirate. She looked at the double stab wounds that were a Cervantes de Leon trademark. Why had he speared her she wondered. Was it her weakened state, well she would have to insure he died wishing he had taken advantage of that weakness. He had intervened in time she had to give him that. His reward would be a slightly less painful death then the one she had been planning. Of course, that left her with a perfectly good torturous death and no one to inflict it on.
"I wonder where our host has run gone." Greta supplied
Ivy smiled cruelly "He is racing to catch up to Mr. Lake who is no doubt telling the Interior Minister all he has learned of Mugson's plot and the those involved with him.
"Well he is beyond us then. There is nothing we can do to catch up to him now."
Ivy sprinted for the upper floors. There right where she had left it was her ivy blade and armored dueling gauntlet she strapped on a scabbard and sheathed the sword. "I have every intention of getting my hands on Mugson."
I can sympathize with you being upset but you survived the ordeal. Surely, you don’t plan to kill him for torturing you. What will that solve."
"I am not planning to kill him for torturing me. But, He will slaughter Lake and the Minister if someone doesn't stop him. If I get to kill Mugson that’s just a tremendous bonus to the day."
The two women headed out the front door. There waiting was a black stallion fully saddled.
"How did you know this was here." Greta asked genuinely confused.
Ivy crumpled the note still clutched in her fist. "Apparently the drive to extract bloody vengeance runs in my family." She tossed her frame on top of the horse. "Wake all of the rest of the household if you can. I will send help. If we don’t see each other again It was …fascinating meeting both you and Rose."
With that Ivy turned the horse quickly and spurred the steed onward. Soon she was flying across the countryside as though the devil were at her heels. The irony of course was that Victor was the one who had Hell itself on his tail.
In an opulent first class train car, Phinias Brentwood held up his hand. "Mr Lake, the tale you have told is amazing but surely you must see that it is a little hard to swallow."
" I wish you could have heard them, sir. The whole thing seemed well planned and ready to execute at anytime." Lake had been pleading his case since he had leapt abroad the train. He was all set to peak when he was distracted by a thump from the roof. He would have mentioned something but Brantwood started on him again.
"I have no doubt that Davenport would need someone else to do his dirty work He always lacked the heart to make the hard choices. However, if you can't prove these charges you might find yourself in serious trouble."
"Mugson has every intention of showing you your heart before you die."
"Carter Mugson is many things but the idea he could be planning anarchy…"
"Actually my father isn't planning much right now." The two men turned to source of the new voice. "Regretfully he tripped on the steps and died of poison. Or whatever it is I was planning to tell authorities." There was Victor, a sword in his hands. "But thank you so much for the inspired idea Lake. I was just going to make the attack on the minister look like a common robber who had boarded the train and gotten past the guards. The whole cut-his-heart out thing. That has real potential for shock value."
"Mugson what is the meaning of this." Brentwood bluffed
"Phinias you are dim, weren't you listening to the reporter. I kill you; Davenport and the rest move up the ladder. I arrange for them to take the fall and I take their place, thus allowing me to take control. I think when I am in charge I will see about setting up some kind of Memorial in your name Brentwood. Something that people give money to, so I can siphon the fund when convenient."
"Aren't you overlooking something." Brentwood said menacingly
"Of course Phinias, you are so right. Here I am talking about a memorial and you're not even dead…yet."
Brentwood signaled to the two men escorting him. They stood and advanced menacingly toward Mugson. "Ah a light snack before the main course." Mugson hissed and moved to take the both of them.
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