Chapter 1: Introduction
My name is Elena Cross, I’m a history student. My best friends are Lily Jones and Mina Roberts. Lily is studying to become a nurse (which comes in handy since I’m really one of the clumsiest people on earth), Mina is studying to become a psychologist. We all share the same appartment, which is quite convenient since we love to hang out a lot and go to the same school.
Last week, our professor told us we were going to make a field trip to a museum tomorrow and we could take some friends with us if we liked, since the bus had to be filled. Lily nor Mina had lessons they needed to attend tomorrow, so they were happy to join me. I’m quite excited about this, we’ve been studying some parts of history for quite a while now and it would be nice to see some artefacts of the different time periods for real instead of the pictures we see in our textbooks.
Not only are we all crazy about history, but also about shopping, going out and all our geeky fandom stuff. Mina is the Star Wars lover of us all, her part of our appartment being full with stuff related to it. Lily is more into Marvel and Game of Thrones. We all share love for Harry Potter and it is well represented in our home. I also love Game of Thrones, just like Lily, and we love to fangirl about it, discussing possible ways the story might develop. Honestly, I have many fandoms, going from Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter, Hunger Games to historical drama, … But most of all, I love gaming. Especially strategy games and RPG, my rack is just full of them. What brings me to my most beloved games; Assassin’s Creed. It appears my love for it just won’t end. From Altaïr to Jacob Frye, it doesn’t matter to me, I’m totally crazy about those games. I just finished playing Syndicate and I’m already excited about the next one. I’ve got quite a collection of statues, books, games, artefacts and I even made some Assassin’s Creed cosplays for me and my friends.
Yes, we love to dress up like our favourite characters and feel wonderful in our costumes. Mina is more interested in her Star Wars costume of her made-up Mandalorian, which makes her almost unrecognizable for those who do not know who’s behind the costume. Her beautiful blonde hair is all covered up and her face is unrecognizable as well due to her helmet. You can’t even see her big brown eyes behind it. Actually, it’s a mystery to me how she can see anything at all in this thing. I tried it on once and felt almost immediately claustrophobic. Lily doesn’t like closed helmets either. The only helmet she puts on, is the one for her Loki cosplay. I’m really jealous of her big blue eyes (especially if you compare them to my ordinary brown eyes), she always reminds me of Bambi, battering those eyelashes around and everybody is just swooning at her because of it. We both share the same colour of hair though, being both brunettes.
Although we’re quite alike in our interests, we all have different personality traits. Lily is reserved and the calm, calculated one, quite reserved, especially to people she doesn’t know that well. People often think of her as indifferent, but that’s not true at all. When she gets to know you, you’ll notice she has the biggest heart on this planet. Mina is more outgoing, being very sociable and she’s always very spontaneous towards everyone. Sometimes, she can be a bit too impulsive and noisy but cools down if you point it out to her. Compared to both of them, I share both their personalities. I love being in a crowd and meet new people which are likeminded but at the same time, I like to refrain for social activities once in a while and just be alone, reading a book or watch a movie by myself.
So, I guess all I have to do is prepare my bag for tomorrow. I chose a backpack (I know, not very ladylike, but very handy on field trips!) and stuffed my notebook in it, some pens, my Swiss Army knife (you never know when stuff like this comes in handy!), some medicines and bandages, flashlight, camera, my wallet and phone. Food and drinks will be packed tomorrow morning.
Mina wasn’t home yet, still working as a waitress to earn some extra money. I checked our little living room and there was nobody there. I knocked Lily’s door. ‘Lily, you in there?’. No answer. ‘Weird’, I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t see here leave our dorm.’ I knocked again, still no answer.
I was starting to get worried, I picked up my phone from the table and started calling her. Suddenly, her ring tone of Game of Thrones started to play and it came out of her room. I knocked her door again, still no answer, so I opened the door. She was sitting at her desk, probably had her earphones in, maybe that’s why she couldn’t hear me. She didn’t hear her phone either, since it’s laying on her night table at the other side of the room. ‘Lily!’ I shouted, still no reply. I was getting a bit frustrated about this game, so I walked up to her and tapped her shoulder. It appears she had her earphones in and didn’t hear a thing, because when I touched her shoulder, she almost jumped through her roof. I could see she was very startled, hearing her heavy breathing, seeing her flushed face, … ‘God dammit Elena, don’t sneak up on me like this!” She shouted, still out of breath. ‘Well, maybe if you hadn’t had those earplugs in, you would have heard my shouts.’ I informed her, almost losing my composure since I had to stop laughing by what just happened. “You sound like my mom, you know?” Lily replied. “Fair enough!” I teased her, giving her a wink.
After dinner, we watched a movie together. Mina has sent us a message she will be a bit later, since it was quite busy at the restaurant she was working. Lily and I decided to call it a day and went to bed. I heard Mina enter our little apartment in the middle of the night but I was too tired to go and say hi.
Chapter 2: The museum
Morning came fast and my alarm was already going for a while. I checked my alarm, 7.00 AM it said. Time to get out of bed, we have to catch our bus at 8.30 AM and we can’t afford to be late! So I got up and slouched to the bathroom. I took a quick and refreshing shower, dried and brushed my hair, brushed my teeth and put on some clothes. It was already 7.30 AM and there was still no sign of Mina. Lily was in the kitchen, but I couldn’t see what she was doing since it was her back which faced me. Probably making herself some breakfast like always. I decided to check on Mina first, I entered her room and she was still in a deep slumber. Her alarm wasn’t going off, so she probably forgot to set it last night when she got home.
“Mina, get up! It’s already 7.30 AM!” I told her gently, patting her back.
“Let me sleep, I had a long night at work and I don’t have any lessons anyway!” She murmured, still half asleep.
“You do realise we are going to the museum today?” I reminded her. Can’t believe she forgot about it! Well, it appears my reminder worked, since her eyes flashed open in an instant. She stormed out of the room and disappeared into the bathroom. I heard her turn on the shower, so I went to check on Lily.
When I left Mina’s room, I was welcomed with the smell of baking eggs. Oh god, it smelled so good!
“Lily, they smell divine!” I told her, almost drooling.
“Thanks Elena, you want some too?” She asked gently. This wasn’t even a question, of course I wanted some! I tried to sound not that desperate, but my stomach was giving me away. With loud and growling noises, awakened by the divine smell of the eggs, Lily got her answer before I could even say a word. She took a plate out of the cupboard and gave me some of the eggs. I went to the table and sat down to eat. Three packages were on the table and they weren’t there yesterday. I wondered what could be inside and I took one and tried to open it. Yes, I said correctly, tried. Before I could even peel one layer of the metallic foil, Lily was by my side, taking the package out of my hands.
“Hey!” I protested. Before I could even say another word, Lily interrupted me. She was clearly amused by my curiosity. “Elena, it’s a surprise! I made us something for our picnic!”
This is why I love her so much. They say a man’s love goes through his stomach, but this could apply to me as well. There’s nothing in this world I love more than food. Ok, except for wine, I’m totally nuts about wine.
Mina left the bathroom and stormed back to her room. Fifteen minutes later, she came out and looked absolutely gorgeous, having her hair very neat and her make-up done. Hmm, maybe I should put on some make-up too, there’s quite the possibility we’re going to make pictures and I would like to look at least a bit presentable. I went to my room, but on some blush, eyeliner and mascara and I was ready to go. Suddenly, my eye fell on my ring which was still on my nightstand. It’s quite an old thing actually, but still in brilliant shape. It was a silver ring (or at least looked like silver since it was a bit worn) with a red ruby inside. Some years ago, I found it at a flea market and decided I had to buy it. Before I bought the ring, I tried it on and to my surprise, it fit perfectly! I couldn’t resist it anymore and so it became mine. Now my matching earrings, which were shaped in a tear and also silver of colour with a red gem inside, but these were bought at the local jewellery store for just ten dollars. I was ready to go and it appears my friends were as well. The eggs were gone, so I guess Mina must have eaten hers while I was getting ready. We put on our coats, scarves and boots (since it was early spring and not that warm yet) and started walking to school. We arrived ten minutes early, so we were on time to get our bus. Since we were early, we had the privilege to have first pick in seats. We chose a double bank in the back of the bus, so we could face each other and have a comfortable position to chat during the ride. Good thing I packed my back yesterday and put in the Swiss Army knife, since Mina broke her nail whilst getting on the bus. I knew it would come in handy!
It was quite a long ride, at least an hour, so we had plenty of time to talk. We were checking out who else was going to the museum and most of them were history students like me. Mina was quite exited, because there was a guy in my class whom she really liked since high school, but she never had the guts to tell him. It appears she was looking for him, but couldn’t find him, her face turning from exited to disappointed. So, that’s why she wanted to come with us so badly!
“Elena, do you know if Jamie will be here? I heard him talking about it to his friends, but he hasn’t showed up.” Mina asked, the disappointment really breaking through her voice. “Oh, I don’t know Mina, I thought he was going as well.” After hearing this, Mina became quiet. Lily saw this and immediately came to the rescue. “Hey Mina, it doesn’t matter if he’s here or not! Elena and I are, and we are going to have the best time ever!” Mina’s face lighted up. Lily has this effect on people, always being able to cheer them up, even at their worst. This is one of the reasons I love her so. She has always been there for us, even for people she doesn’t know, but she’s not the kind of girl who will open up to just anyone.
The bus started to slow down and came to a stop, I looked out of the window and I could see the museum. A massive building, with huge columns in front, it was quite impressive to see. This was my first time ever visiting the museum and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. I noticed Mina and Lily were gazing at the building just like I just did. The entire group gathered before the building and our professor told us we were free to explore.
Once we got in, the inside of the building was even more impressive. The floor was made out of marble, so were the columns against the walls. We walked through the massive corridors to figure out where we should start. Mina wanted to see the Renaissance exhibition, Lily wanted to see the Medieval exhibition and was already heading that direction. And me, well I wanted to see all of it!
I suggested to begin in the Prehistoric exhibition. There were several bones of ancient and extinct animals, some sort of ancient knife and a reproduction of what a mammoth should have looked like. There were also a lot of skeletons of dinosaurs and a replica of a velociraptor, which looked so realistic it made Mina wonder how they did it.
We tried to go the Egyptian exhibition, but we were prohibited to enter, since it was still under construction. Slightly disappointed, we decided to go on.
We headed to the Ancient exhibition now, showing a rather large diorama of what should have been Pompeii. They even made a small volcano which looked like it was about to erupt. Pictures of Pompeii after the eruption were all around the diorama and on a television you could see how the Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the entire city. Other parts of this huge room showed us miniature cities of Rome and Athens, with all the monuments still intact. Also, a lot of information was offered. Like how the city of Rome started to exist, telling us the story of Romulus and Remus. Information about politics, social structures, economy and religion could be found about them as well. I was especially interested in Greek mythology. I always have to be honest, as a child, I devoured book after book and I loved telling those stories to my friends. When I saw the diorama of Troy, I basically run to the table. It was rebuild just perfect in my opinion, credits to the museum or the person who made this! The city walls were really detailed, the buildings within as well, it looked almost real.
“Lily, Mina, come take a look at this!” I told them eagerly. They left their spot at the Pompeii diorama and headed my direction. I told them everything I knew about the city of Troy and how war began with king Agamemnon. Obviously, the only thing they knew about Troy was how hot Brad Pitt looked in his outfit. You can imagine their faces when I asked them if they’ve read Homer’s Illead. “Elena, I’m afraid I didn’t see this episode of the Simpsons.” Mina tried to explain. I rested my case. What I did tell them about Troy, was how it came into being according to Greek mythology. Without any further questions about this, we headed to the next room.
It appears this one was quite a big exhibition as well. Armours were placed against the wall, weapons behind a display and again some diorama’s. The first one that got my attention was the siege of Jerusalem. This part of the Medieval exhibition was definitely about the crusades. Seeing tunics with Templar crosses, it reminded me of Assassin’s Creed. The one with Altaïr I mean, it’s been quite a while since I played this game, maybe I should play this again soon! Several swords and banners were displayed as well. Not only Christian, but Saracen as well.
One stood out from the rest; a sword which was quite old, but was still in perfect condition. When I tried to take a closer look, I felt weird, like I was getting a fever. Getting all warm and red in my face, Lily immediately asked if I were ok. “Yes, I’m fine.” I assured her. She didn’t look convinced, but decided to move on, pulling me away from the displayed sword. As soon as I moved away, the fever seemed to have vanished. Strange, I thought, but paying no further attention to it. Lily seemed to be very interested in this part of the building, since she spend as much time here as possible. Daydreaming about her knight in shining armour, clearly she has read too many fairy tales. “Lily, you do realise most knights were only good at pillaging, raping and fighting do you?” I asked her. “Of course Elena, but that doesn’t mean every knight was like that!” she answered me with a dreamy tone. “Oh, you’re hopeless!” I teased her and all three of us started laughing.
After hanging out some more in the Medieval section of the building, we headed to the Renaissance part of the exhibition. Now, this was one of my favourites as well! Several paintings, including one of Archimboldo, were displayed, a diorama of the Sistine Chapel and Rome, some replicas of Da Vinci’s inventions and several statues, even one of Bernini. There was also a diorama of the Vatican, including a very detailed Piazza San Pietro, also by Bernini’s design. It appears Mina knows something about art during this period, since she could tell Lily and me some interesting things about Achimboldo’s paintings. Like how he always used everyday objects in his paintings to make a portrait. Personally, I liked ‘The Librarian’ the most, not only because I love books, but I think it’s not very easy to make a portrait with square things like books. Like Mina pointed out, his other paintings based on the seasons, most contained vegetables, fruits or other things typical for the season.
In the middle of the room, there was a fountain, I don’t seem to recognize it, nor do I see any reference to the artist. In the middle of the fountain, there stood a man, holding a sceptre with a golden ball on top of it. It was a beautiful statue, very detailed, since you could easily see the man’s abdomen in every detail. It looked really powerful, seeing the stance he was in, entirely naked, holding his sceptre high in the air. I started to look down and notices something very peculiar, something I hadn’t noticed before. And instead of looking powerful, it turned out to be disgusting. At his feet, miniatures of humans were placed beneath his feet, as if he was crushing them, trampling them like ants. Now I realised this wasn’t just about power, but about domination. I got closer to have a better look.
The fever was back it seems, feeling warm and tingly again. This time, Lily wasn’t around, since she was having a look at pictures of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was like I couldn’t stop myself and I kept getting closer to the fountain. The fever was getting worse, I could feel the heat through my entire body, spreading from head to toes. There was only one place where the heat would linger, my left hand. Maybe because my ring felt cool compared to my skin, I don’t know. I was in a kind of haze, feeling like I was asleep or so. Suddenly, I felt a cold splash in my face. It was like something had awoken me from a slumber, it appears that ‘something’ was Mina, splashing water from the fountain up my face. “Elena! Are you alright?” she asked me, her eyes full of concern. “You’ve been acting strange today, are you sure you’re well?”
I couldn’t really tell if I was ok or not, since the last couple of minutes seem to have been erased from my memory. The fever was gone, but still, something didn’t feel alright.
It seems I got some unwanted attention, the guard was eyeing me suspicious. There was no concern in his eyes. Only a cold look, which gave me chills that seemed to go through my spine.
“Pay no attention to him.” Mina said quietly. “He’s been eyeing us since we left the Medieval exhibition. It’s not like we stole or broke anything!” Lily had noticed him as well. “Yes, he’s creeping me out.” She quietly added. We decided to take a break for a moment and have a picnic outside. It was almost lunchtime and Lily informed me I might feel unwell due to the long drive and quick breakfast I had. Maybe the eggs weren’t such a great idea after all.
We went outside and fortunately, the sun was still shining. Fresh air did me good, I felt much better. Lily and Mina had noticed this too, seeming less worried now. “So Lily, what’s on the menu?” Mina asked with much enthusiasm. Lily opened her backpack and started to unload everything. She made us a salad with pasta and chicken, neatly packed in boxes which were surrounded by aluminium foil to keep it cool. There was also a box with fruit salad, containing my favourite fruits; apple, banana, strawberries and kiwi. In the third box, there were three pieces of chocolate cake, which made me drool already. Mina and I were looking at the boxes not knowing where to start first. Lily made this choice for us and started filling our plates with the salad, which I very much liked. After, we ate our fruit salad en we decided to save the chocolate cake for later on.
After our picnic, we decided to go back to the museum and resume our tour of the exhibition.
After the Renaissance part of the museum, we decided to go check on the Age of Discovery part.
Small replicas were here of the most famous ships of this time. A huge part was dedicated to Columbus and his own history.
There was also a diorama of an Aztec city. I think this was Tenochtitlan, what is now Mexico. In the corner of the room, there were also some armour of men and horses in that time period. No wonder the Aztecs saw them as gods, since they had no such armour themselves and were not as advanced. On the walls, there were portraits of Cortez and Pizarro, some of the most famous conquistadores. There was also a map that showed how they drove out the Aztecs, Maya’s and Inca’s and how they systematically gained more land. It appears emperor Montezuma should have been more aware about the Spaniards, because gifting them with gold only seemed to make them greedier. Eventually, the once so mighty empires fell to the overwhelming forces of the Spaniards. There were also some pictures of the ruins and locations where you can find them.
I do love these cultures, even if they have such violent rituals, like the sacrificing of hearts to please the gods to have a good harvest and prosperous year. Thousands died during this inhuman ritual, having their hearts carved out whilst they were still alive. Lily was quite disgusted when she saw some pictures of the ritual and couldn’t comprehend why people would do such a thing. Mina was also quite fascinated with this, saying it reminded her of another tribe she ever learned about during history lessons in high school, she couldn’t recall which one it was though.
After this part of the exhibition, we decided to go to the next room. This one was filled with different events which occurred in Europe during several time periods, like the Elizabethan period, the rise of Protestantism in several countries like Anglicanism, Calvinism and Lutheranism and a map showed where each kind of Protestantism was most influential. There was also a part dedicated to the Age of Enlightenment, which Mina immediately compared with the Illuminati. A discussion about Dan Brown’s books followed soon after. It appears Mina really liked “Angels and Demons” a lot, since she could recall almost every little detail and especially the difference between the movie and the books. I must admit, I also liked the book better than the movie, but that’s my opinion of course! Lily wasn’t very interested in these books it appears, since she was quite absent during our conversation about them. When we asked her something about it, she said she hadn’t read the books but saw only the movies, which led her to a heated discussion with Mina. Trying to break the tension, I suggested we could visit the next part of the expo. This seemed to be one of the biggest parts of the exhibition, having an entire floor dedicated to each of the most important revolutions.
Now this was more of my liking, since it contained some of my favourite time periods; the French Revolution and the Victorian Age. I could see each era was well represented with dioramas, paintings, small replicas of statues, some costumes and weapons in display and even a guillotine. A big part of the exhibition was dedicated to the American Revolution, containing uniforms with a peculiar looking necklace, paintings, pictures with information about major events like the Boston Tea Party, strategic maps which showed us were battles were fought and more information until the Declaration of Independence.
Another big part of the exhibition was about the French Revolution, containing many paintings, old official documents, a diorama of Paris during the Revolution, the guillotine I saw before, a Chappe telegraph, some uniforms of soldiers and statues of people wearing costumes of that era. Another reason why I like this period, the adorable and beautiful costumes. There was also a diorama of the Siege of the Bastille and a map where the site of the Bastille is located in modern day Paris, now the “Place de la Bastille”.
We decided to go further and we neared my favourite era; the Victorian Era, dedicated to the mighty queen Victoria and the prosperous time for Britain. There was a diorama of the city of London, containing several train racks, miniatures of buildings like the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and several others. Every little building was high on detail and the Elizabeth Tower even had a miniature working clock and Big Ben.
In the displays, several costumes of the Victorian age were shown. There was even some furniture displayed.
I studied the diorama for several minutes until Lily spoke. “Elena, maybe you should make a small city of London at home, since you can’t keep your eyes of it.” I looked up and smiled at her. “Not a bad idea, maybe I should make one in your room, you have plenty!” I replied teasingly. Lily laughed at my reply and Mina joined the conversation and teased her as well. “Lily, speaking about room, maybe I could use your wardrobe as well since mine is getting quite full.” “Maybe you should throw away some of your junk, that would also help a lot!” Lily teased her, making Mina laugh less hard all of a sudden.
Meanwhile, I was checking out something else, a hackney carriage I felt drawn to since I laid my eyes on it. I was getting the feverish feeling all over again and decided to sit down on the nearby bench. Mina and Lily saw I was feeling unwell again and immediately joined me on the bench.
“Elena, are you feeling alright?” they asked almost at the same time. “Yes, I think so, it’ll pass I guess.” I replied gently, thankful for their concern.
Still, there was something about this carriage and I wanted to know what it was. I got off the bench and decided to check it out. The moment I neared the carriage, the fever got worse, but I tried to conceal it from my friends. I opened the door, but there was nothing there. Suddenly, my eyes fell unto a small, hidden door under the seats. I looked around to see if the suspicious looking guard wasn’t following us anymore, but there was no sign of him so I took my chances. The moment my hand neared the hidden compartment, my fever got really worse. Mina and Lily noticed this and immediately came to my side. They both held my left arm, whilst my right hand was still in the carriage trying to open the secret compartment. Suddenly, the little door gave in and it opened.
There was a small golden ball inside, the size of a grapefruit. I held my hand above the ball and it felt like it was burning. Cautious, I slowly closed my hand around the ball and picked it up. Mina and Lily were looking at me, then each other, then me again and now they were staring at the ball in my hands. “Elena, how did you know this was hidden here?” Lily asked excitedly. “I didn’t, I just followed my instincts!” I was excited as well, but how was I going to explain I broke into an old carriage to get it, without permission? It appears Lily and Mina were not affected by this little ball like I was, since they showed no signs of illness. “Can I hold it?” Mina asked. I carefully gave the ball to her and she let go of my left arm.
Lily was getting closer to have a look at the ball as well and her fingers slid over the ball cautiously, careful not to drop it. They studied it for quite a while, but I wanted to see it again too and maybe take a picture of it with my phone. I took it out of my pocket and I tried to take the ball into my left hand, since I wanted to take a picture of it using my right hand.
The moment I touched the ball, my ring lighted up, the red gem gleaming. Lily and Mina, still holding the ball as well, were staring at my ring now. For a moment, the fever vanished, but an entire other feeling occurred, this time not only affecting me, but Lily and Mina as well. It felt like the ground was disappearing from beneath our feet and our visions were slowly blurring until everything went black.
Chapter 3: The streets of London
Elena and her friends end up in Victorian London, but the city doesn't seem to be entirely what they expected.
I woke up with a headache and a sore back. My vision was slowly returning and I could see some silhouettes lying on the floor next to me. Several second later, I could see Mina and Lily, who were still unconscious. “Lily!” I shouted, trying to wake her. It appears she heard me, for she turned to the direction of my voice and asked “Elena, what happened?”, clearly having no idea of what just happened either. There was still no sign of Mina being conscious, so I decided to check on her first and give Lily some time to recover. “Mina!” She wasn’t moving, so I shouted again. “Mina!” Now even louder than before, but there was still no answer or response coming from her. I was getting worried and didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head. *Slap*. I gave her a small slap on her cheek in an attempt to wake her. Well, this worked, since she woke up, sat up straight immediately and started looking around her, clearly having no sense of direction, for when I spoke to her, she was looking at a different direction. “My head is spinning, I think I’m going to lay down for a minute. I have such a headache!” Lily, now fully conscious, got up and checked on Mina. She opened her eyelids and had a good look. “I’m not sure, but I don’t think she has a concussion. We’ll leave her here to rest and go look for help.”
Something wasn’t right, we were still in the museum, but it looked much different from what I can remember. Gone were all the exhibition pieces and in their place, antique furniture which seemed still in a very good state. The ball we held before, was gone as well. For what we could see, it looked like we were in a sort of old-fashioned gallery now, containing some seats, statues and many plants in pots. Astonished, we left the gallery which held the Revolutionary exhibitions before and went to the adjusting room, which was smaller and contained the exhibition about the Elizabethan Period. There was no sign of the exhibition pieces either, the room looked more like an old study instead of a museum. A beautiful carved desk was in the centre of the room, having some letters on top. The fireplace was decorated with an antique looking clock, having some gas lamps on either side of it. The room also housed a huge library, since an entire wall was full of books. Lily was curiously looking around, not able to understand why everything changed so fast. How long were we even unconscious?
“Elena, something’s not right here.” She whispered. I agreed.
“Lily, this isn’t possible! It would take some weeks, maybe even months to rearrange this entire museum!”
“Maybe there’s something in this study which could explain what happened? We’ll have to look around for a clue.” Lily suggested. We both parted ways; Lily was going to the adjacent room, which contained the exhibition about the Aztecs and conquistadores and I stayed in the study, looking for a clue. I checked some of the books, which were quite old titles like works from Charlotte Brontë, but seemed to be in a great condition despite their age. It seems the museum staff takes good care of their books.
I went to the desk and sat down on the pretty chair, taking a look at the papers before me. It appeared to be letters, written a long time ago, but still good preserved. I read one of them, and my eye immediately fell on the date; 4th of April 1847. Maybe the museum is trying to prank us for some publicity? This was the only explanation I could give to this entire situation.
“Elena!” Lily shouted in horror. I ran out of the study and entered the room Lily was in. She was standing by the window, her eyes filled with tears, the minute she saw me, she pointed her index finger in the direction of something outside the building.
When I looked outside, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Gone were the cars that usually crowd the streets and there were carriages bustling down the streets. Men were dressed in long, neat coats, top hats, fancy pants and having canes for accessories. The women wore an elegant dress with a big skirt, with lots of ruffles and layers on the back which really complemented their figures. Nearly no skin was shown, being quite different from the fashion we are used to in our time. I couldn’t believe my eyes, have we really gone back in time? I just couldn’t comprehend how all this could have happened.
Lily and I decided to go check on Mina again and see if she was feeling better. We walked through the corridor and entered the gallery where we left her. She was not here anymore, so we went looking for her. We walked through the gallery till we reached the other end, were a door was leading to a balcony. It was there were we found Mina, clearly out of her mind by what she had witnessed. We tried to calm her down and tell her that everything was going to be alright, that we’ll find a way out. We all agreed we should see what brought us here and more important, why.
Standing on the balcony, we had a lovely view of London, in this case, Victorian London. Although we were thrilled by the sight of it, we were also afraid, because we didn’t look like we belonged here, still dressed in our modern-day clothes. Not even mentioning the different lifestyle we were accustomed to. Going on the streets and exploring the city would definitely get us in trouble looking like this. We decided to have a look around in the museum and see if we could “borrow” some of the clothing.
Taking the stairs to the first floor, we passed by several doors, which we would inspect one by one.
We took the first door to our left, I believe this is what they called a drawing room back in the days, having a salon, table and some matching chairs. The room was bright of colours, since the walls were a soft pink and the furniture had a light pink fabric with a floral pattern as well. There was plenty of light coming from all three windows, also offering us a nice view of the city. We checked the cabinets, but no clothing was to be found here, what I did find were some sewing and embroidery tools, which I was going to check on later.
Entering the second room, we discovered this was a bathroom, but since we didn’t need it yet, we decided to leave this room for later and look for some clothes first, there was a door adjacent to the bathroom and we decided to have a look. Bingo! This was a bedroom, having a beautiful bed with a canopy and several cabinets as well as a vanity having several bottles on top of it and some powders. There was also a beautiful silver set of a brush, a comb and a mirror, all carved out with a floral pattern. We checked the dressers and they contained several dresses which seemed to be new and never worn before. There was also a dresser filled with men’s clothing, but since we had no need of it, we decided not to dig any deeper into this closet. The house seemed uninhabited, so we decided to stay here for as long as we could.
Mina already held a pink dress, decorated with white ribbons and having quite some layers. While Lily and I were still looking for a dress which might fit, Mina was already fumbling with the corset of hers, trying to put it on. Seeing her struggle, I decided to help her with lacing her corset. It really made her figure pop out even more, since she already had an hourglass figure of her own. She put on the hoops and I helped her put on the rest of the dress. Last but not least, we carefully draped the fabrics of her skirts over the hoops, being careful not to damage them. She looked in the mirror and starting swirling around and acting folly, dancing her way through the room. Lily had found her a dress as well, being a dark blue, which complemented her blue eyes. I also helped her put on the dress and it wouldn’t take long before she was swirling around with her skirts as well.
Now I only had to look for a dress which I would wear. I was looking around for a while, finding some of them just too complicated or ugly to wear. My eye fell on a maroon dress, decorated with black lace and black ribbons. Lily and Mina helped me dress and I must say, a corset isn’t one of the most comfortable things to wear! When they were done helping me, we all went to the vanity and looked at ourselves in the mirror, I have to admit we almost looked the part. We pinned up each other’s hair and decided we would wear the hats matching our dresses when we would leave the building. Now there was only the issue of getting rid of our old outfits. We decided to hide them in the bottom of a trunk which we found in one of the cabinets.
Leaving all our belongings behind really gave us a bad feeling, as if we were already saying goodbye to the life we had before, but we just couldn’t risk being caught or seen with those modern day objects. For people would ask questions or worse, lock us up in a mental institute if they were discovered. Our phones were totally useless anyway, since there was no mobile phone or network in this time, so we wouldn’t need them as much as we always thought we would when we were still in our own time.
Searching the other bedrooms in the house, we found shoes we could all wear, since Lily and I have quite big feet and it appears the shoes we found in the room with all the dresses, were only fit for Mina. We found us a purse which even contained quite some money and a key to the building, so we decided to take it with us, just in case we didn’t find anywhere else to stay. We put on our hats and decided to explore the city of London. We left the building and closed the door with our newfound key.
The streets were bustling with people and carriages. Looking at the well-kept buildings with all their grandeur, we could see we were in a rich and wealthy neighbourhood. We looked around and studied the people on the streets. They were upper-class, noticing their fancy clothes made of expensive fabrics, not even mentioning the accessories they were wearing. Men holding canes of expensive wood and the decorations seemed to be made of gold. Some of them noticed us while we were looking at them and gave us a nod or tipping their top hats when they passed us.
It appears we were at The Strand, a wealthier district in Victorian London, close to Westminster. We followed one of the main roads and we were heading north. On the way, we could see women which were admiring our dresses and men giving us an appreciative nod. So, our plan succeeded, we didn’t stand out, at least not in our own clothes. It appears we were dressed like people of high society, since everybody was very kind, offering us a smile when we came by and some women even complimented our dresses.
“Elena, Lily, we did it!” Mina chattered happily, not noticing people were looking at her. “Shhht. Don’t speak that loud Mina! You’re attracting way too much attention!” Lily silently hissed at her.
Mina didn’t seem to care about it since she started to laugh out even louder, now getting everyone’s attention. Some older women were shaking their heads and looked disapproving. Other girls our age were whispering, clearly they were gossiping, when Mina came by and gave her a look of disdain. “Mina, people in this age are very conservative, please keep this in mind or you’ll get us into trouble!” I informed her, keeping my voice low.
“Now where’s the fun in that, so we’ll have to act serious all the time?” Mina asked disappointed.
“No Mina, but try to not to laugh too hard or make silly jokes when we’re in a crowd”. I advised her gently.
“When we’re alone, you can do whatever you like and we won’t complain about whatever you do.” Lily added. Mina seemed to heed our advice, since she was behaving less conspicuous. We walked on for a while, noticing the building around us change shape. They were less neat and more industrial looking. There were no beautiful buildings here anymore and the more we headed north, the more the buildings were in decay. Not only the building looked different but also the people. Gone were the fancy dresses and well-dressed gentlemen. The men looked scruffy and they were gazing at us. I started to feel quite uncomfortable, especially in our fancy dresses. We saw some children running by, clearly malnourished and looking ill, having a grey tone of skin. I really pity them, according to my history lessons, some had no choice but go to work or their families would starve to death. The women that passed us by, were making fun of us, asking “Are you lost my dears? Starting to mingle with the likes of us?” How unfortunate it may seem, clearly, we were lost and the women weren’t the only ones who noticed.
One of the men, standing in a group of four which were all wearing red, worn jackets, came up to us and shouted “What’s wrong dearies, are ya lost? It’s not often we see pretty littl’ things like you up here!” His eyes lingered on us, inspecting us from head to toe.
“Thank you Sir, but we’re not lost, we’re just having a stroll around the town, we were just on our way back home, so if you’ll excuse us.” I lied politely, trying to get rid of him.
“Not so fast dear, some of me friends would like to get to know ya a littl’ better” He gave us a dirty look gazing at the body of our dresses, silently adding “If you know what I mean.” The men behind him started to laugh and came closer, the smell of liquor coming closer as well.
“What happens now?” Mina asked, fear for what may come clearly visible in her eyes.
“Arguing with them won’t work Elena, we should run as fast as we can!” Lily said, sounding desperate.
“Did you hear that lads?” One of the men said. “It appears they don’t wanna have fun with us! Now what a pity that is!” He’s gave us the idea they were letting us go, but his companions’ actions showed otherwise.
“Lily, Mina, I want you to run as fast as you can and get help! I will hold them off and try to run as well!” I urged.
“No, we’re not leaving you alone Elena! Especially not with them!” Lily exclaimed.
“I’ll be fine, just go!” I insisted. There wasn’t much time left, since the men were almost here.
Mina turned around and froze in her steps, men wearing green coats came into view and they were coming our direction as well.
“Oh my god, what do we do now?! We can’t run, we’re surrounded!” Mina shouted, panic breaking through her voice.
The men wearing the red coats were clearly not expecting the men in green, since the smirk on their faces faded the minute they saw them come into sight.
“What are ya doin’ here?” The same man asked. This time, the question was not directed to any of us, but to the group of men behind us.
“So that’s how ye blighters fill up yer days is it?” A man in green answered, seeming to be in charge of the group. “Bothering some young ladies! Can’t handle a man your own size is it?” The men behind him burst out in laughter, which pissed off the man in red. Looking at his companions, he seemed more confident, knowing he had backup. Suddenly, he pulled out a knife and his companions did the same.
“We should go, NOW!” I yelled. We ran away to the nearest alley and hid there.
The men in red charged on the other group of men, dressed in green. They pulled out their knives as well and a fight began. Due to their drunk state, the men in red were easily subdued and ran off.
“You’ll pay for this!” The man shouted back at the men in green.
Chapter 4: Leader of the Rooks
Jacob finally makes his appearance!
One of the men in green neared the alley we were hiding in, not wanting to show we were still here, we kept as quiet as possible. He was wearing a green cap and a scruffy green coat. Although they were quite fearsome, his face seemed friendly.
“It’s alright, we won’t hurt ya!” The man said. “Name’s Sam Hill and these are my friends.”, he said in a thick accent, pointing at the other men in green. “I know yer’ still here and it’s not safe for young ladies like yourselves to wander around on ya’ own. We’ll get ya somewhere safe, I promise!” He sounded sincere and I decided to trust him, so I got up from behind our hiding place. Not that we were well-hidden, our huge skirts were already giving our positions away.
“Elena, what are you doing?!” Mina shouted. Lily also looking with fear in her eyes, shaking her head in disapproval of my actions.
“We don’t know if they can be trusted, but they seem more trustworthy than the guys we met before. If they hadn’t showed up, who know what might have happened?! I’m taking my chances with them, they don’t look as vile as those in red.” I tried to explain my actions.
“Well, we’re not leaving you! So I hope you’re not mistaken about them.” Lily added.
I helped them get on their feet and we were nearing the men in green. Sam off his cap and bowed, showing us his brown hair. As I got closer, I could see his face more clearly now. His eyes were a dark brown and his features were sharp, but his smile was sincere and he looked friendly.
“Pardon me asking but what are ye’ doing here in the slums of Whitechapel?” he asked, clearly curious about us.
“We were having a stroll around The Strand and we were following a road, which eventually led us here and you know what happened next.” I explained.
“Best to avoid them Blighters. Nasty men they are, thinking they own London. Well, not anymore, we Rooks will make sure o’ that!” The men behind him cheered in approval.
“Rooks? This is what you call yourselves?” I asked him, curious why they chose to be ‘the Rooks’.
“The boss has given’ us this name, he was quite resolute about this.” He sighed. “I would have called us the ‘Kings of London’, but there was no arguing about it. We do what the boss says we need to do.” He explained himself.
“Who is this boss you are talking about, I thought you were in charge of your group here?” I asked.
“His name’s Jacob Frye and no, I’m not in charge, I just like to piss off them Blighters!” He started laughing as well.
Sam and his gang escorted us back to the Strand, at least, the northern part of it, but it seemed more safe than Whitechapel. We came passed a pub called ‘The Iron Fist’ and the Rooks all decided we should go in for a drink. Apparently there were more than just their group of Rooks, since the pub was filled with green coats. Sam guided us to a vacant table and let us sit down first on the cushioned bench. Here we met properly, giving them our names and telling them more about us, but not telling the we’re actually not from this Era.
“Maybe scruffy looking men could be gentlemen as well.”, I thought to myself.
He ordered us all some ale and sat down next to Mina, who seemed to be less suspicious of him than she was before. They started talking with each other and they seemed to get along.
Lily and I were looking around, the pub was crowded, especially with Rooks. Lily’s attention was drawn to Mina and Sam and she joined the conversation, while I was getting the feeling someone was gazing at us. I looked around and suddenly my eyes fell upon a man in his twenties, wearing a ragged grey coat made of tweed and a matching flat cap in the same material. His pants were made of a greenish tweed and he wore a dark blue vest with a white shirt underneath his coat. Around his neck there hung a small amulet as far as I could see. He seemed to be quite busy, talking to his companions, but he seemed different from the other Rooks, since he wore a different outfit than most of them.
I looked around some more, my eyes lingering on the variety of bottles in the back of the pub. I was curious how many sorts of beer and drinks were available in the Victorian Age, because in our time, we have several brands and a variety to choose from. I lifted my mug of beer and took a sip of it. Not bad, but I prefer the ones brewed in my own time. I looked up and I noticed the young man was gazing at us again, more specifically at me. My eyes met his and he smiled at me, making me blush, for he was quite handsome. His face held strong features like a sharp nose, a strong jawline but his eyes were soft. Noticing this, he gave me a wink and raised his mug to his mouth, his eyes still on mine. I felt myself blush even harder, so I quickly looked away. From the corner of my eye, I could see him smirking.
More Rooks entered the pub and ordered us all some more drinks. I joined the conversation at my table and time seemed to pass quickly now.
“Elena, that guy over there has been staring at you for hours.” Lily pointed out.
“Yeah, I noticed, he’s cute isn’t he?” I asked her and we both started laughing on my remark. He seemed to notice as well, since he was staring at us again, still having a smirk on his face.
I’ve emptied all of my drinks and the alcohol was intoxicating my mind, making me bolder than even I would expect. My eyes met his and I mirrored his action he did before, giving him a wink.
I could tell from the look on his face he wasn’t anticipating this. The smirk vanished and his expression turned from confident to disbelief and then to curiosity. I might have been mistaken, but his cheeks were turning red as well, I couldn’t tell for sure due to the bad lighting.
Mina and Sam were still talking with each other and the two seemed to get along very well. Lily was half asleep in her seat, she probably had too much wine. I was getting bored, since I didn’t want to disturb Mina and Sam’s conversation and I started to play with my mug, circling my fingertip around the edge. My mind was drifting of as well and I was feeling quite drowsy until Sam spoke.
“Good evening Sir! Nice to see you!” he addressed a man which was standing at our table.
“Nice to see you too Sam, it seems you brought some company, care to introduce them to me?” the man asked gently.
“This pretty little lady next to me is miss Mina Roberts and next to her is miss Lily Jones, but she doesn’t seem quite interested in us anymore, had too much to drink I’m afraid.” Sam informed him, making us laugh at his last remark.
“And who’s the lady over here?” the man asked in his deep baritone voice.
“The young lady over there is miss Elena Cross.” Sam told him. Hearing my name, I raised my head to look at the man, holding out my hand for a handshake and the minute I looked up, I was quite shocked, not expecting the young man who was staring at me. The minute my eyes met his, he took my hand gently, placing a kiss on the back of it and I could feel his whiskers gently tickling my skin, never taking his eyes of mine. I was blushing again and he seemed to notice it too, for the smirk returned to his face.
“Ladies, may I introduce you to my boss, mister Jacob Frye!” Sam informed us.
“Ladies, if you’ll excuse me, I still have some urgent business to attend to.” Jacob said politely, while tipping his head. He left for his table and joined his Rooks.
“So this is the famous mister Frye?” Mina asked Sam.
“He is and he’s nicer than most of the gang leaders around the town!” Sam informed her.
“Tell me about the other gang leaders, who are they?” Mina seemed quite interested with the gangs, so Sam decided to tell her all about them. I knew this was going to take a while; so I took a look at Lily, wanting to start a conversation with her. When I looked at my left, Lily was sound asleep, so I left her alone. Half an hour passed and I was getting tired as well, so I suggested we would head home.
Mina seemed quite disappointed, since she was having a good time talking to Sam, but she couldn’t suppress a yawn herself.
“Thanks for the wonderful evening mister Hill.” Mina told him.
“That’s quite alright, but please call me Sam, I shall walk ya’ ladies home!” Mina happily accepted his offer, being able to spend some more time with him.
“That won’t be necessary.” Jacob interrupted them. Mina gave him a disapproving look. “I will be escorting the ladies home” he continued.
“As you wish boss.” Sam said, looking disappointed. Mina saw this and suggested we could meet again tomorrow. Sam lightened up hearing this and he accepted her offer.
“Follow me please.” Jacob said. I woke Lily and informed her we were heading home. Still drowsy and drunk, I supported her and lead her out of the pub. We followed Jacob until we arrived at a carriage. He helped Lily get into the car while Mina was still saying goodbye to Sam.
“Is this carriage yours?” I asked him, trying to break the silence.
“Now it is.” He replied. Did he just steal this carriage?
“So it isn’t, you shouldn’t take things which aren’t yours!” I told him, getting a bit angry at him.
“You’d rather walk home? Good look with that!” He answered me, giving a nod to where Lily was lying in the carriage and he started to laugh.
Although I didn’t approve of it, I knew there was no alternative. We were in the Strand, but still far away from the building we were staying.
“Alright then.” I replied, still giving him a disapproving look. Sam said goodbye to me and went back into the pub. Mina got into the carriage, sitting next to Lily and tried to support her by draping Lily’s arm around her shoulder. I told him where we were staying and told him we were only residing there until the rightful owner returned.
“So far the ‘shouldn’t take things which aren’t yours’ eh?” He said teasingly. I was taken aback at his witty reply. I remained silent, knowing he just got back at me, using my critique towards him.
“Let’s go then, shall we?” Jacob suggested, noticing my discomfort. I moved toward the carriage door and suddenly he held my hand, helping me step through the door, since there were some high steps. Once I was seated, he let go of my hand and closed the door. He got up the carriage and took the reins.
It took us a while to get there, but eventually we neared the imposing building. Nobody seemed to be at home, so we decided to stay there for the night. Mina helped Lily out of the carriage and fumbled in her purse trying to find the key. It wasn’t that easy, still supporting Lily, but she found the key and entered the house with Lily stumbling next to her.
“It was nice to meet you mister Frye, thanks for getting us home safely.” I told him, genuinely thankful of his help.
“The pleasure’s all mine.” He said softly, his eyes seeking out mine.
“Will I see you tomorrow, I heard Mina is meeting up with Sam?” I asked him, not sure why I was so blunt all of a sudden, maybe it was still due to the alcohol.
“Perhaps miss Cross.” He answered me. “I’d like to meet you again.” He added softly. My heart started to flutter hearing this.
“Until next time mister Frye.” I curtsied. I remembered ladies said ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ like that in the Victorian age. I slowly closed the door, noticing his eyes were still on me. I’m not sure, but I thought I heard him whisper “Until next time miss Cross.”. After closing the door, I leaned into the wall behind me and a smile appeared on my face.
Chapter 5: Finding a job
Due to a busy schedule, I haven't been able to write for a while, my apologies for this.
So here's the next chapter, I hope you enjoy it!
I went upstairs to check on Lily and Mina, who were both sound asleep in the bedroom where we found the dresses before. It was quite cute seeming them lying next to each other, exhausted to the bone from this exciting day. I decided to check if the room next to it was available to sleep in. Luckily, it was. This room was not as big as the one Lily and Mina were sleeping in, but still more than big enough. It held a four-poster bed and had red silk sheets. I sat on the adjacent canopy for a while, thinking about today’s events, having a ‘the awkward moment when…’ feeling. So, Jacob Frye… I knew he looked familiar, but I had no idea I would meet him for real and I didn’t expect him to be that charming either! I couldn’t help myself but giggle, but I still wondered at what point of the story we arrived here. I undressed and got into bed, falling into a deep slumber.
Sunlight fell through the windows, gently waking me up. It was a sunny spring day and I got out of the bed, first covering myself with a robe, to look at the city of London. My room had a small balcony and I opened the window which led outside to have a look. Standing on the balcony, I had an astonishing view over the nearby park. Birds were chirping and the streets were still quiet, so I had some time to enjoy the silence. In this silence, I could hear some rumbling and I assumed Mina and Lily were awake as well. I left the room and entered theirs, seeing them still rumbling into the closets.
“Good morning, what are you guys doing?” I asked them.
“We’re looking for some more comfortable clothes to wear; the dresses we were wearing yesterday are so uncomfortable!” Mina replied.
“Maybe we could leave out the hoop skirts?” I suggested.
“We’d rather wear no skirts at all!” Mina answered me quite agitated. Apparently, she didn’t like the skirts of this time.
“Mina, we can’t. You know that we can’t afford to stand out. I’m sorry, but we’ll have to.” I explained calmly.
She gave out a deep sigh and decided I was right. Lily didn’t seem to be bothered as much as Mina about the dresses so we decided to let Mina pick the most comfortable dress, which skirt was slightly smaller than the others. Lily and I decided to wear less impressive dresses as well, to avoid unwanted attention like we got yesterday. She seemed more comfortable now, leaving out the hoops of her dress. Yet, she still wanted to look pretty, since she was seeing Sam today.
After dressing, we decided to check out the local market, since there was no food in the house, which we discovered this morning trying to find something to eat. We didn’t have to walk very far, since the market was located on the square closest to us. Food was displayed differently than in our time. Meat, which didn’t look very well in my opinion, was displayed into the sun, with almost no shelter from insects or the weather. Same for the fish, which was stored in crates, barely shielded from the sun either. Mina turned up her nose at the sight of them. We looked around and found us a stand where they sold fresh vegetables and fruit. There wasn’t much to choose from, but we managed to buy us a variety of vegetables and several fruits. We discussed if we were going to buy anything else but when I mentioned the meat, Mina shot me a disgusted look. No meat it is!
At the market, there was a variety of people. There’s the upper-class, buying only the best stuff with a large variety they could choose from, which was most expensive. The middle-class could buy lots of stuff which was displayed, but meat was quite expensive and we noticed less people buying meat compared to the high-class. Then we saw some poorly dressed women, buying only potatoes and some bad looking vegetables. This was what the lower class could afford, which wasn’t much. None of the women had any meat or fresh fruits in their baskets. This was a huge difference compared to the time we were living in. We also noticed some shadowy figures in the crowd, trying to steal whatever they could; purses, food, fabrics and other things that were easy to snatch.
We left the market and checked some of the shops. There was an antiquities store, selling lots of jewellery, furniture and other trinkets. We also passed a bookstore, but we didn’t buy any books since the house was already full with them. There was a dressmaker which displayed several beautiful dresses, but again we had to resist the urge of buying us some.
“Elena, how will we be able to keep buying our food?” Lily suddenly asked.
“I don’t know Lily, maybe we’ll have to find ourselves a job? I suggested.
“Yes, because we can’t keep on using money we find in the house! It’s not ours and I think we already used enough.” Lily added, feeling guilty about our ‘home’.
“But what can we even do? It’s not like they need a historian or psychologist here! You’re the luckiest Lily, Nurses are always needed.” Mina said, sounding a bit desperate.
“Well, you’re used to working in a restaurant, maybe you could do the same work here? I know it’s not ideal, but it might be sufficient for us to find a place of our own.” I said. Mina agreed and seemed to calm down.
“What about you Elena? I can’t imagine they could use a historian and I’m sorry to say, but I don’t think an administrative job would be available at this time.” Lily asked. She was right, I didn’t have much experience in any job that could fit this era.
“Maybe I could work in a bookstore? Or even at a dressmaker, maybe my skills of sewing my own cosplays will come in handy.” I said, until I realised they didn’t have any advanced machines like I had back in our time and I couldn’t do any embroideries by hand since I was not that skilled yet.
Lily and Mina seemed to agree with me and we headed home. There we unpacked our groceries and started to make lunch. It wasn’t much, only some soup we made from the vegetables and an apple afterwards. I must say, Mina made an excellent soup, even with as few vegetables to choose from.
After lunch, we decided to head our own way to find ourselves a job and meet up tonight at ‘the Iron Fist’. I strolled around the Strand for a while, entering some bookstores and ask the shopkeepers if they could use my services, but until now, I had no luck. Most shopkeepers had their own wives or children employed and were not interested in hiring someone else. I kept walking and tried some dressmakers to ask for employment, but no success either. Some of them were polite and said I was too inexperienced whilst others just laughed in my face. There was this one older lady who offered to teach me, but I had to work for free and how much I would have loved to learn this, I knew I should find a job which could provide us with a steady income. So I kept looking. The sun was setting, so I knew I had to go to ‘the Iron Fist’. It wasn’t that far, since I saw almost every building in the Strand and I was close to Whitechapel.
I entered the pub and immediately saw Mina talking to Sam, clearly enjoying herself. Lily wasn’t here yet, so I decided to take a seat next to Mina. My presence didn’t go unnoticed either, for when he saw me, Jacob headed into my direction.
“Miss Roberts” he tipped his cap.
“Good evening mister Frye!” Mina greeted him happily.
“Miss Cross” he said, also tipping his cap.
“Mister Frye, how lovely to see you this evening!” I greeted him back, trying to be as charming as possible. He sat down next to me.
“And how lovely to see you my lady.” He added in a hushed voice. I was trying to avoid to look in his eyes, knowing I would turn a bright red like I did last night. I think he noticed, for the smirk returned to his face and I knew he was up to something.
That moment, Lily came in, seeming to be in a good mood.
“Miss Jones, how lovely to see you!” Jacob greeted her.
“Thanks mister Frye, nice to see you too!” Mina replied.
“Elena, great news! I’ve found work as a nurse, I got a job in the Lambeth Asylum!” she seemed eager to have found a job.
“That’s great Lily! Well done! I didn’t have much luck I’m afraid, no-one would hire me, because they already had their families employed or I was not experienced enough.” I replied.
“Their loss Elena, I know you’ll find a great job! But hey, what about you Mina, did you have any luck?” she asked.
“Actually, I have! I’ve found myself some work in a pub, as a waitress.” Mina proudly answered.
“Congratulations! Where will you work?” I asked her.
“Here of course! Thanks to Sam, he introduced me to the owner and he could use some help, so he hired me!” she informed us. She seemed really happy.
“What about you?” Jacob suddenly asked me.
“How do you mean? I already said I didn’t have much success in finding a job today.” I answered him, disappointed seriously coming through this time.
“What kind of job would you like?” he asked.
“I don’t know, I’m not very experienced. I know a lot about history, art and cultures, but I’m afraid that won’t help me find a job.” I sighed.
“Maybe I know someone who could use your help. Meet me tomorrow morning at Whitechapel station.” He said.
“That would be great! Thank you!” I replied. The disappointment made room for joy and a big smile spread across my face. He seemed to notice as well, for when I looked upon his face, he gave me a wink and he smiled gently, not his usual cocky smirk.
We talked for some hours until it was time to go home, since Lily had to go to work and I had an appointment with Jacob. We said goodbye to everyone and Jacob offered to take us home. He helped Lily and Mina get into the carriage and took my hand to help me in too. His grip was firm, yet gentle. When I was seated, he closed the door, jumped at the driver’s seat and took the reins. On our way home, Lily and Mina kept chattering happily about how excited they were about their new jobs. I wish I could join them, but still felt happy for them. It didn’t take long before we were home and Jacob helped us out of the carriage again. Mina and Lily curtsied and said their goodbyes, leaving us alone again in front of the door. I think they did it on purpose this time.
“Miss Cross, I’ll take it I’ll see you tomorrow?” Jacob asked me with a gentle smile upon his face.
“Yes, you will mister Frye! Thank you, for everything.” I answered him, smiling back.
“As always a pleasure miss Cross” he came close and kissed the back of my hand again. I felt my cheeks burn red again and I tried to avert his gaze, not wanting him seeing me blush like this. He let go of my hand, gave me a smile and I watched him walk away until he was out of sight. Again, my heart was pounding in my chest. I went upstairs and wanted to check on Lily and Mina, who were already in bed but not yet asleep. They were looking at me mischievously and I knew for sure they left us alone on purpose. I went to my own room and closed the door and undressed. I checked the drawers and found me a ivory coloured, silk nightgown. I noticed the windows of my balcony were still open and my room felt quite chilly, so I decided to close them. I put on my robe and walked to the balcony. I looked around, watching the dim-lighted streets and adjacent park and suddenly I noticed something. I could see some movement on the roofs of the buildings across the street. It all happened so fast, for it disappeared in the blink of an eye. I entered my room, locked the window and closed the curtains. I tossed my robe on the chair next to the bed and got into the bed.
Chapter 6: Welcome to fight club
Elena and Jacob are having a date, but it doesn't turn out as Elena expected.
When I woke up and looked through the windows of my room, the sun was still a dim light in the distance. I guess it was very early in the morning, since there were but few people on the streets. I washed myself and put on my clothes, wearing a casual dress since I had a meeting with Jacob and I had no idea what would happen today. I ate an apple for breakfast and left the house with Lily (Mina was still sound asleep), heading for Charing Cross station. Lily’s train to Lambeth arrived soon and I was alone now, waiting for mine. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before mine arrived too and I was on my way to Whitechapel. The train stopped and I started to look for Jacob, who was waiting for me at the platform where I got off. He greeted me warmly and gave me his arm. I was a bit surprised by the gesture, but hooked mine in his. We walked out of the station together and we reached the carriage. Jacob already held out his hand to help me in, but I decided to sit next to him on the driver’s seat. He didn’t seem bothered by this and he helped me get up. After I was seated, Jacob sat down next to me and took the reins. We headed off and after several minutes, we reached our destination.
Jacob stopped the carriage in front of a curiosity shop, displaying several foreign statues and objects. There was a man of Indian origin in the shop, greeting us and when I got closer, I recognized Henry Green.
“Jacob, welcome!” Henry said, patting Jacob’s back. He headed my direction.
“And who might this be?” he asked him.
“This is miss Elena Cross, Greenie.” Jacob informed him.
“Nice to make your acquaintance my lady. My name is Henry Green.” He bowed.
“Nice to meet you too mister Green.” I curtsied.
“What can I do for you Jacob?” Henry asked him.
“For me? Not much Greenie, but you could be of service to miss Cross. She’s looking for a job.” He replied.
“A job? What did you have in mind then?” Henry asked me.
“Well, that’s the problem, I don’t seem to find a fitting job for me. I’m too inexperienced to work in a dressmaker and most stores seem to employ only their families. I don’t have any other working experiences, so I don’t have a lot of choice.” I told him honestly.
“What can you do then?” he seemed to understand my struggle.
“I do know a lot about history, art and cultures. But I doubt that’s of any use.” I sighed.
“Maybe it is miss Cross” Henry said, eyeing Jacob suspicious.
“What are you going for Greenie?” Jacob seemed nervous.
“She could help Evie and me look for the pieces of Eden. If she knows a lot about history, as she claims to, she might be able to help with our research.” Henry informed him.
So, Henry wanted me to help them. They had no idea I already knew where it’s located and how to find it. But I thought it was for the better to keep this information to myself, who knows what might have happened if I changed the course of events!
“What do you mean by ‘research’ and ‘pieces of Eden’ mister Green?” I asked him.
He started to tell me the story about the Assassins and the influence they had until now. Little did he know I already knew those things, since I played every game. I tried to look surprised now and then, not wanting them to become suspicious and I guess it worked.
“… That’s why we could use your help miss Cross. Since miss Frye and I already have a lot of fieldwork, we didn’t have a lot of time to continue our research.” Henry suggested.
“But she will not participate in our other ‘affairs’?” Jacob silently asked Henry.
“No, that’s not what I intend either. She’ll have to report any progress as soon as she discovers something that might be of value.” Henry added, more directed at me now.
Of course I realised what Jacob was referring to as the ‘other affairs’; the assassinations of the Templars. I was glad they didn’t ask me to become an assassin, since I couldn’t even hurt a fly.
“You’ll be paid well for your research and I hope you will consider my offer.” Henry informed me.
“And as a bonus, you’ll get to spend some more time with me.” Jacob added with a wink.
“When do I begin?” I asked them, with a huge smile upon my face.
“Right now if you’d like.” Henry told me. He seemed happy I accepted his offer.
“I’m sorry Greene, but her schedule for today seems quite full.” Jacob informed him. It seemed he didn’t expect me to work for them that soon.
“Actually, I don’t have anything planned for today.” I interrupted him, eyeing him suspicious.
“But what about our date love?” he asked me, seeming a bit disappointed.
“I didn’t know we had a date, I thought we were going to find me a job!” I answered him and I could help but laugh at his sudden change of demeanour.
“You have a job now don’t you?” He added with a wink. “Come on, it’ll be fun!”
“It seems mister Green could already use my help, so I’ll let him decide!” I teased him. Jacob turned towards Henry and I could see him use that puppy-eyed look of his.
“Come on Greeny, let her have some fun before you drown her into those books. Besides, I think my sister Evie is waiting for you, you should go and tell her the good news. I guess you both will have plenty of time for your so-called fieldwork now miss Cross is going to do your research.” Henry chuckled.
“All right then, off you go!” He added with a smile.
We said goodbye to Henry and left his store.
Jacob offered me his arm again and I hooked mine in his. We started to stroll around Whitechapel until he suggested we should head for their hideout. We walked until we reached Whitechapel’s station and I saw their train-hideout. So they must have defeated Rexford Kaylock by now.
“Here it is!” Jacob proudly announced when we reached the train.
“Oh, so your hideout is this station?” I asked him, trying to play dumb.
“No love, this train is.” He informed me with a grin on his face.
“That must have cost a fortune!” I said, still playing my little game.
“Just some bullets dear.” He added with a wink.
The train was about to depart, so we quickly got in. The train hideout was bigger than I expected to be. We were in the last wagon now, were all the supplies and some weapons were stored. We entered the next car, which seemed to be the bar and some Rooks were sitting at the table, having a drink. They greeted their boss and continued their card game. Jacob seemed to be proud of his position as gang leader, seeing him radiate when his Rooks address him as ‘boss’.
Jacob took two glasses and a bottle of rum out of the bar and offered me one, which I gladly accepted. We sat with his Rooks for a while until he decided we would enter the next wagon. I take it this was his lair. Seeing how this room perfectly matched his personality; a bit messy, not organized at all, containing all sorts of curiosities and of course; weapons. I could see there was another wagon, in front of Jacob’s and I think this should have been his sister’s room.
He plopped down into his couch and made himself comfortable. I walked around his room for a while and looked at all the things he collected. I also noticed the assassination board, looking at it for a while and I decided to play my game some more.
“So, these are Evie’s ex-boyfriends?” I joked.
“Not exactly, these are our targets.” He informed me, getting a bit more serious.
“Targets?” I asked. Of course I knew they were on their hit list, they’re all Templars.
“People who destroy London and its citizens, exploiting them so they could benefit from it.” Jacob became very serious now. Apparently, he could be serious about something.
“Isn’t that dangerous? Interfering with their business doesn’t seem like the safest option. Isn’t there any other way?” I asked.
“No love, Templars will always deem their cause the best and only way. Even if it causes other people a lot of pain and misfortune. They stop at nothing to achieve their goals. You should keep this in mind.” He calmly replied, but I could sense his disdain for all of them.
“So, where will I do my research?” I asked him, wanting to change the subject, for his mood was turning.
“You will work together with my sister in her room, but you can find the books for your research here.” He pointed at the small library in the back of his wagon.
“Thank you, mister Frye. Do you often read, having all these books in your room?” I asked.
“No love, they’re only here because my sister didn’t have any room left. I couldn’t care less about them.” I laughed and amused.
“That’s unfortunate, for I really love to read.” I informed him.
“Then you’ll have lots of fun with my sister dearest!” he burst out in a laughter and I couldn’t help but laugh as well. He looked outside and suddenly smiled.
“Come love, I want to show you something” he said, taking my hand and guiding me out of the train. The train slowed down a bit to make a turn left and we jumped out of the train, his hand never leaving mine. I fell quite unceremoniously on the ground, but he helped me up and we started walking towards wherever we were going.
It was quite clear we were still in Whitechapel by the look of the buildings and their state. I could tell this wasn’t a very nice neighbourhood to be living in. The streets were full of men who were drunk, children were clutching their bellies out of hunger and the worst was a mother who was begging down the streets, holding a starving babe. This sight would never leave my mind and would be haunting me forever. I couldn’t even tell if the baby was still alive. I looked at her with pity, but knew I couldn’t do anything about the current situation. This was surely a date to remember, but not in a good way. Jacob noticed my distress and started talking to me.
“This is why we hate the Templars, they only seem to care about power, not their people. Tell me, if you were in a position of ruling, would you let your people starve?”
“No, but I don’t think it’s that simple at all. Yes, their wages could be raised so they would earn more, but if they were still maintaining the lifestyle they’re currently having, they won’t feel the difference.” I replied.
“Are you serious? They would have money to buy food for themselves or their children, they could live a more comfortable life.” Jacob interrupted, all fired up.
“That’s not what I meant Jacob! Yes, raising their wages would give them more comfort, but not if they decide to spend it on alcohol and gambling like they do know! Some parents would rather drown themselves in alcohol than buying their children some decent food! I exclaimed. He became quiet. We walked some more in silence until he spoke again.
“So, it’s Jacob now is it?” He shyly asked. I looked at him, not understanding his question.
“I’m sorry? Did I miss something?” I replied.
“It was the first time you addressed me using my name, not the polite ‘mister Frye’ as always.” He explained. The penny dropped.
“Oh, that’s right, almost forgot about that. Apologies mister Frye, I’ll keep it in mind.” I said.
“Please, call me Jacob.” He softly said, his eyes locking mine. A smile appeared on my face, I couldn’t stop it.
“Alright then mist—Jacob.” We walked a while down the slums of Whitechapel until Jacob told me we had arrived at our destination. I saw a huge wooden door, which seemed to lead to a cellar. “So he’s taking me to a fighting club, how romantic.” I thought. He opened the wooden door, let me step inside and quickly closed it again. I could see the fighting pit in the center, surrounded by dozens of men and a few women. Jacob was already heading to the bar, I followed him, trying to avoid bumping into people. He ordered us a drink and quickly downed his and ordered him some more. “Wait here love.” He told me and he disappeared into the crowd. The fight in the pit was about to end, seeing how two men were fighting each other, almost no energy left. It ended when one of the men punched the other right onto his nose and this last one fell down. The judge stepped in and proclaimed him the winner. That was until Jacob stepped into the ring and whispered something in the judge’s ear. The judge nodded and told everyone a new competitor was in the ring. He took of his coat, cap and shirt and I could see his tattoo. A few men stepped into the ring and the current champion was led out of the ring so he could take a rest before facing Jacob.
Jacob seemed to enjoy himself, loving the fight he got himself into. He easily knocked 4 men down on the floor in a couple of seconds and when the next group stepped in, his usual grin returned to his face. He looked at me and winked. I was not amused by his sudden actions and rolled my eyes. I don’t think he noticed, since he was already engaged in battle with the new group of men. They didn’t stand much of a chance either. Jacob had already knocked out 3 of them and had but little effort taking a huge guy down. Two of the current champion’s friends stepped into the ring, trying to give their friend some more time to recover, but it was in vain. It took Jacob a bit longer to deal with these brutes but he got them down. Now it was just him facing the champion, this would be more of a challenge. Suddenly, it became clear to me why he wanted to beat him that much. Not just because of the glory, but the current champion seemed to be a Blighter. I could hear some noise in the other corner of the cellar. It appears the Rooks and Blighters were having a brawl as well, without weapons this time. Sam was there as well, giving a Blighter a mean punch in his guts. Jacob got my attention now, the Blighter has summoned some more of his friends and he was outnumbered. Without any further thought, I ran to the fighting pit.
The men were not expecting me to step in the pit and paid no further notice to me. The crowd went silent. One of the men tried to throw a punch at me but I got him first. I took his arm and elbowed him in the face. It hurt, but adrenaline was rushing through my veins and I followed my instincts. The man fell down and soon his companion came after me. I tried to block his attack but I was too late. He punched me right in the face and I fell down. I heard him laughing and he raised his leg to give me a kick. Bad decision. I gave him a leg-sweep with all the strength I could muster and kicked him in his leg that still stood on the ground. I heard the cracking of something and he fell down too. When I looked up, I could see Jacob has used the confusion to take out another three men. Only the champion remained and he was not willing to give up his title. Jacob and I were circling him, like two predators waiting for their prey to make a move. He lunged toward Jacob and tried to tackle him. Jacob dodged him and when he looked up, the Blighter was pointing his direction with a gun. He had forgotten about me, I picked up an empty bottle of rum and silently crept into his direction. He noticed me too late, when he turned around, Jacob sprinted towards him, held him and I smashed the bottle of rum on his head. And so the champion went down as well. The crowd was cheering and yelling our names. The judge stepped in, still a bit astonished of what just happened. He walked into our direction and I stepped aside. But instead of Jacob’s direction, he went my direction, took my hand and raised it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you our new champion!” The judge said. Jacob looked astonished as well and I expected him to protest any moment, but he was quiet. I looked at him and he smiled at me, looking proud. The judge handed me something packed as a reward. I opened it and it was a beautiful walking cane. Red, cherry-looking wood, gold adornments, having a golden angel as a handle. I also received a bag full of coins as a second reward, which would help us a lot finding a place of our own.
“Let’s go home.” Jacob said. We walked to Whitechapel station and fortunately, the train hideout was there as well. We entered his wagon and he got me a bowl of water so I could wash my face a little. I could see myself in my reflection and I didn’t look good at all, my face was swollen and red.
Jacob dipped a piece of cloth into the bowl and started to gently clean my face. It hurt when he touched the swollen part and I flinched. “I’m sorry!” He said.
“It’s ok, but I could use a drink.” I told him. He smiled and got a bottle of rum from next to the couch we were sitting on. He pulled out the cork and offered the bottle to me. “Thank you.” I said.
I took a sip and offered it to him. He almost drank the entire bottle, or what was left of it anyway. I took the piece of cloth out of his hands and placed it in the bowl. He laid down on the chaise lounge and I wrung the water out of the cloth and dipped his face with it. His lip was bleeding, so I carefully dipped it. Next I dipped his cheek, he had a gash on it. Jacob didn’t seem to care anymore, the alcohol intoxicating him slowly. It made him bolder as he reached for my hand and held it until he fell asleep.
Chapter 7: The taste of liquor
With Jacob asleep, I wanted to focus on my other task, that of helping Evie and Henry. I walked over to the library and picked out a book to read. I went to Evie’s carriage and sat down in the armchair. It was a book about the social structures and behaviour in Victorian London (more like a manual to be honest) and how people should behave. Dull as dirt. It didn’t take long before I fell asleep too.
I woke up and noticed someone had covered me with a blanket. Evie had returned while I was asleep and she sat behind her desk, in deep concentration reading some documents.
“Hello Evie!” I said, still a bit sleepy. I yawned. “Good evening Elena!” she greeted me back.
Good evening? How long did I sleep? “I take it you didn’t find anything in that book over there?” she asked me. I laughed. “No, not really, only how to behave like a proper English housewife I’m afraid.” Evie looked a bit wondered when she finally saw my face. “How did you get those bruises?” She asked. “Well, Jacob and I went to a fight club after we met with Henry and well… It just happened.” I told her. “I can’t believe Jacob would be so irresponsible and take you to a fight club!” Evie exclaimed. “I’m going to have a word with my brother about this!”. She stomped off, heading to Jacob’s carriage. I quickly followed her steps.
“Jacob! Why did you take her to a bloody fight club??” Evie yelled. “She’s hurt you idiot! We had a deal, she could help with the research, but we’re not involving her in our other affairs!” Evie sounded really mad. Jacob, still a bit hangover from earlier replied her firmly. “Sister dearest, may I inform you that our dear miss Cross engaged herself into the fight? Truly, she was amazing, you should have seen her! You do know she’s the new champion of Whitechapel right?” Jacob replied his sister, admiration coming through his voice. Evie raised her brow. “Is this true Elena?” She asked me. “Yes it is. I don’t recall much of it, but at one point, I was given the title of champion indeed.” I told her, a bit ashamed since a lady shouldn’t behave that way. A slight smile appeared on Evie’s face and she seemed to cool down. “Alright Jacob. I’ll leave you two be, if you need me I’ll be in my room.” She turned around and left.
“How are you feeling?” He asked me. “I’m well thank you, how about you?” I replied.
“Well enough, come.” He grinned. He led me to the carriage where his Rooks usually gather for a drink. He poured us some whiskey, but I politely declined. I sat down on the bench next to the window and Jacob joined me. Sam and some other Rooks came in, all holding many bottles.
“Miss Cross! How lovely to see ya this evenin’!” Sam seemed most cheerful today.
“Good evening Sam! Please call me Elena. I’m doing well, how are you? Shouldn’t you be with Mina this evening?” I replied, a smile spreading on my face. Sam’s face turned red. “I ‘ad to deliver this load o’ bottles first. On our boss’ orders miss.” He told me. My attention turned to the bottles he was carrying. He held some bottles of wine, rum, whiskey and several liquors. I took one which contained wine and I read the label. “You can have ‘t miss!” Sam said, looking at Jacob, who nodded. “Great, thanks Sam!” I grinned. Jacob got me a glass, opened the bottle for me and offered some wine to me. “Thank you!” I took the glass of wine and had a sip. Not bad actually! A bit sour compared to the one I’m used to, but still enjoyable. “Would you like some too?” I asked Jacob. “No thanks love, I’ve already poured myself a drink.” I looked down at his glass, now containing some whiskey. “Do you want some of mine?” He asked me, grinning. “I’m not a huge fan of stronger drinks. But thanks anyway, I’ll stick to the wine.” I downed my glass of wine, poured me another one and I saw Jacob doing the same. “Game on Jacob!” I thought to myself.
There was a deck of cards on the table and I started to play with them. Jacob and I played some poker for a while and some of his Rooks joined us. Some hours had passed or so it seems. I took my glass, which was empty again, and wanted to refill it but couldn’t since I already emptied it. Jacob saw my distress and got me another bottle. “My knight in shining armour indeed!” I joked, clearly affected by the wine. It was Jacob’s turn to shuffle the cards now. “Elena, pick one of these cards.” He asked me. I didn’t know where this was going and I did as he asked. He held the cards like a fan, facing down, so I couldn’t see which one I picked. My finger scrolled them and I finally found one. I took a look at it and it was the queen of hearts. I laid the card down, the illustration visible. “So… The queen of hearts, how appropriate.” He whispered, his face coming closer to mine. “How so?” I teased him. While he was leaning in, coming closer, I took the opportunity to steal his cap and place it on my own head. “You little minx!” He purred, I couldn’t help but laugh. The Rooks were laughing as well and it didn’t take long before Jacob told them to be off. They left the wagon and we were alone. “Where were we?” Jacob continued, obviously drunk. He leaned in once more and I felt his nose touching mine, his warm, ragged breath on my lips and I could smell the liquor still clinging to his lips. If his sudden actions were not intoxicating, I’m sure as hell the amount of alcohol coming from his mouth was. His right hand was tracing circles onto the back of my left hand, his fingers trying to entwine with mine. His touch was warm yet gentle and soft, even with his calloused hands.
“Jacob!” I could hear Evie calling for her brother. His gaze was still a bit hazy, lingering on my face. “Oh, this better be good!” He shouted, clearly in a bad mood all of a sudden. “Jacob, I need your help for our next mis—Oh, hello Elena, how are you?” Evie quickly changed the subject.
“I’m fine Evie, thanks, how are you doing?” I politely replied her. “Well, I need to speak to my brother in private, I’m sorry about this.” She apologized. “It’s ok, I’ll go home Evie. See you later!” I got up from my seat and so did Jacob. His hand was still on mine, clearly not wanting me to go. “I’ll see you later Jacob.” I gently squeezed his hand and let go.
I was lucky it seems, for the train was in the Strand and it didn’t take long before we reached the station. It wasn’t very dark outside yet, so I could walk home safely. I got home first and I decided to make me and my friends some stew. I took the vegetables out of the cupboard and washed them. I found some potatoes in the bottom of our basket and I started to peel and cut them up so they could cook with the vegetables. I added some chicken and spices to give it some more flavour. My pot of stew looked and smelled quite good, I had to admit. Since I had some money I won from the fight club, we had enough to buy us some decent food for the following days, even weeks. Note to myself, I’m going to the market tomorrow morning to buy us some more. I looked outside and it got quite dark. I couldn’t help but feel very tired and I decided to go to my room and read something. I passed by the library and randomly pulled out a book. I went upstairs, opened the door to my room and laid the book on my nightstand. The windows were open and a chilly breeze was coming in. I closed the windows and picked up my book. I noticed something lying on the bed, which I didn’t leave there when I left. A single red rose rested on my pillow and I couldn’t help but smell at the pretty flower. A smile crept on my face and my belly started to flutter. I went to the kitchen and got me a little vase to place the flower in. I went back upstairs and placed the vase on my nightstand. I was overjoyed and I was getting light in my head, not only intoxicated by the alcohol this time. I opened the window once again, for the breeze was welcome to cool me a bit down. I tried some reading, but it didn’t help, the words were dancing before my eyes since the alcohol hadn’t worn off yet. I put on my sleeping dress and laid down on the bed. I didn’t even hear Mina and Lily come in. I did hear some stumbling in the night, it must have been Mina or Lily coming to bed. I fell asleep once more and didn’t wake up until the golden rays of the rising sun touched my face.
Chapter 8: An unpleasant surprise
Mina and Lily were already up. I heard them rumble in the bathroom and this got me out of my sleep. When my eyes were open and more focused on my surroundings, I became aware of another gift. There was another rose on the bed, lying on the other pillow. It was accompanied with a card.
‘A rose for the queen of hearts.’ It said. So it wasn’t very hard to figure out who was sending me these gifts, it must have been Jacob who sent them. My face turned a bright red and I couldn’t help but giggle. I put the rose in the vase with the other. I tried to recall last night and I remembered I found a single rose on my pillow, but I couldn’t remember a second one lying on the other pillow. I must have overlooked it in my drunk haze. I got out of bed and I felt quite chilly, I forgot to close the windows last night. Mina came into my room. “Hi sleepyhead!” She greeted me. “Hi Mina, how are you?” I greeted her back.
“I’m fine, very fine in fact!” She told me, seeming really happy. “What happened? You seem so happy! Has it something to do with Sam?” I asked. I must have been right for she turned red as soon as the words left my lips. “He asked me to go on a date!” She told me and she couldn’t contain her happiness anymore. “Oh my god Mina, that’s great!! When are you going on your date?” I asked. “This Friday, he has a day off it seems. Maybe we will meet up after my work is finished.” Mina informed me. “I’m heading back to the bathroom now, I promised my boss I’d come a bit sooner today to clean up the place.” She took off. I left my room and wandered through the halls of the huge mansion we were staying in.
It appears Mina had occupied a room of her own now some further down the hallway, because I could see her stuff all over the place.
I passed another study and some other bedrooms. There was a small staircase at the end of the hall leading to the the attic. The staircase was really dusty, so I decided to leave it for today. When I got back near our rooms, I noticed Mina and Lily were already gone. With the bathroom now unoccupied, I thought about a relaxing warm bath to start the day. I filled the tub with hot water and poured in some scented liquid. The bathroom was soon filled with the smell of flowers and I thought it smelled really good. I took off my dress I wore this night and stepped into the bath. The water was relieving and I felt really relaxed. I started to dream about last night and I wondered if it was the alcohol which was making him that bold or could there be something more? I pondered about this some more until I became aware of the time. I got out of the bath, carefully brushed my hair and perfumed myself a bit. Still naked, I rushed to my room and put on a dark green dress. It was still quite early, but I had to go to the market or there wouldn’t be any food. I took some of my savings and put it in my purse. The rest of the money I kept will hidden in one of the trunks in my room. I left the mansion and I was on my way to the market.
I looked around for a bit and decided to buy some cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and I even tried some meat. I left the market place after my grocery shopping and I came across a tailor. I saw a really nice top hat and I thought Jacob would look awesome with this one. I bought the hat without really thinking it through and I headed home. There was nobody home, like I suspected and I headed to the kitchen to drop off the groceries. The pot containing the stew was empty, so Mina and Lily must have eaten it when I was already asleep. I cleaned the table and did the dishes, for they ‘forgot’ to do it last night. I put the groceries in the cupboard and went upstairs. I was holding the top hat I bought for Jacob and wondered when I was going to give it to him. I entered the study and placed the hat on top of the desk. Maybe I could give it to him next time I meet him? I was lost in thought until I heard someone knocking our door. Startled, I got out of the study and walked towards the door and opened it. A man wearing a green coat and cap stood before me. It was one of the Rooks. “Miss Cross?” He asked me. “Yes, that’s me. Is there something wrong?” I asked him. “No miss, I just had to deliver this note to you from miss Frye.” He handed me the letter, tipped his cap and was on his way. “Thank you!” I shouted at him, hoping he would hear me.
I closed the door and went inside again. I opened the envelope and read the letter.
I need to speak to you about something really important.
Can you come to the Charing Cross station this afternoon around 3 P.M.? I will be waiting there for you.
I looked at the time, I still had three hours before my appointment with Evie. I wondered what she wanted to talk to me about. Was it about yesterday? I went to my room and started to clean it while I was waiting, when mine was done, I also did Mina’s. I took a look at Lily’s room but she already cleaned hers. I didn’t have much to do anymore so I decided I would depart for the Charing Cross already. I strolled through the streets of the Strand and soon I found the station.
I looked for Evie but I couldn’t find her. I sat down on a bench in the middle of the station, hoping she would find me. It didn’t take long before I saw her gracious figure appear and she found me immediately. Must have used her eagle vision I guessed. She walked my direction and I saw her looking to something – or someone behind me. Her attention turned to me again and she stepped towards me. “Hello Elena, thank you for coming.” She greeted me. “Hi Evie, no problem. Is there something wrong?” I asked her. “We’ll discuss this somewhere else, follow me please.” She told me, still looking behind me. Was I being followed?? I tried to pay no attention and I followed in her steps. She soon led me out of the station and we were on the streets. She got us a carriage and we were on our way.
We rode for a couple of minutes until we reached mr. Bell’s house. Of course, I couldn’t tell Evie I knew this, for I still had to be secretive about us all coming here.
“Where are we going Evie?” I asked her, playing dumb. “You’re about to meet our dear friend mister Bell. He’s a really nice person, he helps us with inventing new technologies to help our work. And of course, fix the things Jacob seems to break all the time.” She explained.
A tall handsome young man with brown hair and a soft face stood before us, whom I recognised as Alexander Bell. “Ah, my dearest miss Frye, so lovely to see you again! And you brought company I see!” He greeted us with a thick Scottish accent. “Good afternoon mister Bell. This is our friend miss Elena Cross, she’s helping me with some research.” Evie replied. “Miss Cross, very pleasant to meet you, I hope you are doing well? How do you find the city of London?” He greeted me. “I’m doing really well thank you for asking! This city is really bustling, isn’t it?” I replied and smiled at him. His cheeks turned a soft pink when he was addressing Evie or me, he must be really shy. We chatted some more until we heard the door cracking open. I recognised the scruffy looking cap immediately, accompanied with the same worn-out coat he always wears. It was Jacob who came in and he seemed surprised to see me here. “Why hello sister dearest! Didn’t you have some urgent business with Greenie?” He asked her, his tone full of sarcasm. “Actually Jacob, I had to stop by mister Bell first and pick something up before we’re going to mister Green.” Evie replied calmly.
Jacob didn’t even pay any attention to me or mister Bell, who was now walking towards a package on his counter. He picked it up and handed it over to Evie. “Here’s the package you came for miss Frye.” It looked quite heavy and it wasn’t a small package either. “Thank you mister Bell and please, do contact me if you need any help again! Until next time.” She added and was on her way to the door. Mister Bell stepped towards me, took my hand and gave me a small peck on the back. “It was a pleasure to meet you miss Cross.” He added. “Please, call me Elena.” I told him. In the corner of my eyes, I could see Jacob rolling his eyes. Suddenly he stepped in and stood between me and mister Bell. “We should go Elena, my sister is waiting for us. Let’s go.” Mister Bell couldn’t even say his goodbyes, for he almost pulled me out of the house. Alexander looked quite sad due to the abrupt and impolite leaving. Outside of the house I couldn’t keep calm anymore.
“You’re such an arse Jacob!” I yelled at him. He just ignored me. “You had no right to treat him that way! He was only trying to be polite and you just acted like a…” I didn’t even dare to finish my sentence. “Like a what?” He yelled back at me. “Like a child!” I exclaimed. He looked quite taken aback by my recent outburst. “I’m sorry.” He managed to get out. I just ignored him and went straight for Evie, and Jacob had disappeared. “I take it my brother has another one of his moments?” She kindly asked. Evie could see right through me, that his recent actions bothered me beyond measure. “Yeah, to say the least.” I replied. I sighed and there was silence… “He cares about you Elena, although he will never admit this.” Evie gently told me. “I’m not sure Evie, he keeps on behaving like an arse. I don’t think his ego could handle caring about someone else than himself." I blurted out, regretting my words as soon as they came out. “Believe me Elena, I’ve known him as long as I’ve known myself and he does. I just know.” She smiled. “Come on, I’ll take you home.” She added and we were on our way to the Strand. We reached the mansion and I got out of the carriage. “Tomorrow’s your day off Elena, go enjoy yourself and explore London.” Evie said when I left and closed the carriage door behind me. She drove off and I got inside.
There was nobody home yet, since it was still quite early in the afternoon. I didn’t feel like cooking today, but since there was no such thing as take-out in this era, I’d have to. I made me some fish and chips and left enough for Mina and Lily to have some as soon as they got home. Lily was still working in the asylum and Mina was probably headed to the bar already to start her shift. I was thinking about going to the pub as well, since I had nothing else to do. But I didn’t want to run into Jacob, I was still mad at him for acting like a fool. If only I could send Mina a text to ask if he was there… I got out of the kitchen and headed to the study, which I really liked for I liked all of the books, the mahogany desk and furniture, the stuffed chairs, … I picked a book and sat down in a comfy looking sofa. My mind kept wandering to Jacob and how he acted, I couldn’t keep my focus on the story anymore. I decided to put the book away and go to Mina. Some company would help me forget my problems and if that didn’t help, there was always liquor. I left the mansion and got into one of the nearby carriages, who was willing to take me to my destination. I paid the driver for his services and got inside of the ‘Iron Fist’. Jacob wasn’t there, which was a relief. Mina was working and pouring out some ale for one of the customers. Sam was also in the pub, his eyes never leaving Mina. After serving her customer, Mina noticed me. “Elena, hi! So nice to see you!” She greeted me. “Nice to see you to Mina, how are you doing? It’s quite busy tonight!” I told her. “It is! The boss promised he’d be here this evening, but his kids got really sick and now I’ll have to work this shift all by myself.” Mina sighed. “Not alone.” I gently replied and got behind the bar. “I’ll be helping you this evening, you could use the help.” Mina smiled. “Thanks Elena, you’re the best!” She hugged me. “I wonder if you’d still say that after I dropped my eleventh pint this evening!” I joked and we both laughed.
It was a good thing I helped her, for the pub was really crowded this evening. Although we were very busy, it was a pleasant evening and the revenues kept coming in. Mina’s boss will be pleased when he hears about this. A familiar face came in, it was Jacob and he wasn’t alone. A pretty blonde woman was by his side and my stomach started to turn. Mina noticed my distress. “You can go home if you’d like, I can manage on my own for now.” She gently said. “No, why should I leave, I have every right to be here.” I replied. I knew I sounded agitated, but I couldn’t care less.
I really didn’t like the sight of Jacob with another woman. I don’t think he even noticed me, for he casually sat down with his rooks and the blonde woman joined them. “I’ll serve them Elena, please take care of the customers at the bar while I do so.” Mina said. I really appreciated this, for I couldn’t even think of coming near them without having to throw up. I saw Jacob greeting Mina, like nothing was wrong. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, for there was too much noise and I stood too far away from them. They were talking to each other for a while, clearly more than just taking their orders and suddenly Jacob looked my way. So they were talking about me, or so it seems. His so-known smirk returned to his face and Mina left their table. “We need a bottle of rum and three pints Elena.” Mina said. “Right away.” I answered her shortly. I took a bottle of rum out of the bar, filled three pints and put them on a platter so Mina could bring Jacob’s order. When I looked into their direction, I could see the pretty blond woman flirting with Jacob and he didn’t stop her doing so. I began to feel nauseous and my stomach started to hurt really bad. Sam, who was at the bar, noticed me going pale. “Are you alright Elena? You look ill!” Sam asked me. “I’m fine Sam, I think I ate something wrong this afternoon.” I told him, hoping he’d believe this. “If you say so miss.” He looked into Jacob’s direction. “I can take you home if you’d like?” He gently asked. “No. That won’t be necessary. I’ll manage.” I replied. The evening kept going and after some hours, the pub was less crowded. I started washing some of the pints, trying to keep my mind and eyes away from Jacob.
It worked, as long as I was kept busy. But since more and more people left, the less occupied my mind was. Another order from their table came in, and since Mina was too busy with other customers, I had no choice but bring it myself. My stomach was already turning and I felt really uncomfortable going there, but I had to. I even managed to put a smile on my face. I reached their table and put down the plate. “Here you go lads.” I gently said, trying to avoid Jacob. “What are you doing here Elena?” Jacob suddenly asked me. So far as to avoid talking to him. “Mina needed my help as you can see and since I had no other occupations this evening, I decided to lend her a hand.” I replied, keeping my face as emotionless as possible. Suddenly, the pretty blonde woman spoke up. “Oh, me and mister Frye will be quite occupated this evening, I’ll also lend him a hand if he wants to.” She winked at Jacob and started to kiss his shoulders and neck. The Rooks at the table bursted into laughter. This was getting way too much for me to handle. I turned around and bit back the tears who started to well up and got back to the bar. Mina saw what happened and tried to comfort me. “Leave me alone! I exclaimed and ran out of the pub as fast as I could. I didn’t even look where I was running to, as long as it was far away from here.
I ran for several minutes until my lungs and legs became sore. My stomach was aching and it was hard not to throw up where I stood. Tears streamed out of my eyes until my vision was entirely blurred. I kept walking although I could not see a thing until I bumped into something. Or someone… I could see faint outlines of a tall figure, entirely dressed in black or some other dark colour but nothing more. Everything became even more dark and my vision turned entirely black at some point. I fell to the ground and passed out.
Chapter 9: The Devil's Waltz
The smell of roses filled my nostrils and I inhaled deeply. I loved the smell of roses, it reminded me of the roses Jacob left in my room. Maybe this was all just a bad dream. I opened my eyes but I didn’t know my new surroundings. I was lying in a beautiful four-poster bed with expensive sheets made out of the finest fabrics. The room was decoration with beautiful furniture and pretty ornaments. It was not a room I recognised from our mansion, so where the hell was I? I sat up straight and noticed I was wearing a silk nightgown. “Hello, is there somebody here?” I asked.
Suddenly the doors of my room opened and a servant came in. “Good morning miss, are you feeling alright?” She asked me. “Yes I’m fine thank you. Please, do tell me what happened. Where am I and why am I here?” I asked her. “My master came home with you this night and you were passed out miss. He called for a doctor and told me to put you into bed. That’s why I changed your clothes.” She replied. “Thank you.” I sincerely said. “Let me help you get out of bed and help you get dressed miss.” She asked. I accepted her help and she gently helped me out of the four-poster bed I was lying in. She inspected my body for any bruises or the sort and after she saw I was not injured, she helped me bathe and get into my dress. It had a beautiful shade of burgundy and some expensive looking embroidery. I thanked her again for all of her help and she guided me to the study where her master was. She opened the door and announced me coming in. “The girl is here to see you master.” The servant said. “Let her in.” A deep voice answered. I must admit I was very excited to see who helped me last night. I hesitated at first, but stepped through the door.
A tall man was looking at of his window, his back facing me. He wore a long black coat and had his hair combed back. He turned around and I had Crawford Starrick standing in front of me. He looked curious at me and I saw his eyes lingering over me. It made me feel quite uncomfortable, for I knew who he was and what he could do. He broke the silence. “I hope you are feeling alright miss? The doctor told me it was nothing worse, but I must admit it was quite strange to see a woman faint without any medical reason.” “I’m sorry sir, I had a very rough night. I saw things I really didn’t want to see at all. I think my emotions took over. I apologise and I would like to thank you for taking care of me.” I said. “I’m well aware the city of London can be quite rough at night.” He replied. “What was a young lady doing outside at such an hour? You should have been inside your house with your family.” He added. “I don’t have a family sir, not by blood at least. I’m living with my two best friends in the Strand. You know, earning a living and try to survive.” I told him, not even bothering about lying to him, for I knew he’d figure it out somehow. “No need to worry, I’ll take you home safe.” He said. “Sit down please.” He pointed to the chair at his desk and he sat down as well. I did as he asked and started to feel a bit uncomfortable. “Is there something wrong girl?” He asked, his expression emotionless. “No sir, I’m just feeling a bit nauseous after last night, that’s all.” I lied, but not entirely. If Jacob wasn’t there, this wouldn’t have happened to me. “I see.” His expression still the same. He poured me a cup of tea and gave it to me. It smelled delicious. “What’s your name girl?” He asked. “My name is Elena Cross sir.” I replied. “Do you know who I am?” He asked me in return. Of course I knew, but I couldn’t tell him. “No sir, I’m afraid not. I’m sorry if I insulted you by saying this.” I tried to sound so sincere as possible. “No offence taken miss Cross. My name is Crawford Starrick.” He added. “You mean THE Crawford Starrick, the one who own the entire city of London?” I asked him, doing my best to sound astonished. He nodded, his expression still not changing. I grew silent, for I didn’t know what to say anymore. I looked up at his face and looked right into his grey / blue eyes. “Why did you help me sir?” I asked him. “I could not leave a young lady like yourself lying on the streets. I did what I thought was right, am I mistaken?” He returned the question. “No, I much appreciate this gesture sir. I do realise this could’ve end bad.” I admitted. “Who says this isn’t going to end bad for you?” He added. I was shocked, would he really hurt me after saving me? “I hope not sir, I mean… Why would you help me if you wanted something bad to happen to me?” I tried to ask. A tiny smile crept onto his face for barely a second. I didn’t like him toying with my mind. “No need to worry miss Cross, you’re safe here. No bad will come to you.” He assured me. He clearly liked to stay in control and be the superior one.
I tried to play his own game. “So you like to get into people’s heads and play with their minds?” I asked. “I own their minds miss Cross. They think of me when they get out of their beds for they have to work for me to maintain their houses. They think of me when they go to work, for they know it is me who’s paying them. They think of me when they go home again, knowing they have to keep doing their best for if they don’t, they’ll be fired. I’m sure they even think of me when they die, knowing they’ve served me their entire lives. No miss Cross, it just happens that I’m always in people’s heads.” He told me. There was not much to argue with, for I knew he was right. “I’m sure not everyone is thinking of you mister Starrick.” I gently added. “Oh, but there will be a day they will. They always do.” He said and took a nip of his cup of tea. “What are you planning to do with your life miss Cross?” he asked me. “Just surviving I guess.” I added with a smile. “Don’t you have any ambitions?” He kept asking me. “Well, I’d like to become a historian one day. I like to learn about history, read their stories and learn from them. Unfortunately, few people like to learn about history, even if it were their own. It’s a pity some people don’t look back and learn from their mistakes. It’s good to reflect upon your mistakes, so you might learn from them. But most people need someone to keep them at bay, they don’t have what it takes to think for themselves. They just do as they please, not thinking about any consequences.” I replied, thinking of Jacob and his actions last night. Starrick seemed to enjoy our conversation and to be honest, so did I. Although he might be a Templar, he really knows how to build an economy and manage an entire city. And he who owned London, owned the world. So yes, I was quite intrigued with this man. I took a sip from my cup of tea and noticed his cup was empty. We both reached the teapot and our hands slightly touched. A shiver ran through my body, although it was not the same I felt when I was with Jacob. It was excitement mixed with a bit of fear for this man. “I’m sorry…” I stammered and pulled my hand back. He on the other hand, didn’t seem affected by this touch and poured us both some tea. I thanked him and suddenly the door of his office opened. A blonde woman with a rat-like face came in. It was Lucy Thorne, Starrick’s right hand. “Mister Starrick, I’m sorry for bothering you but there have been some complications.” She told him. He made a gesture she had to stop talking and nodded into my direction. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you’d have company.” She turned around ready to leave. “I don’t want to keep you from your work mister Starrick. If you’d let me, I’d like to return home.” I told him. “Why wouldn’t I let you? Please, finish your tea first and then I’ll ask for my driver to bring you home.” I replied. “Thank you sir, that’s very kind of you!” I smiled. I emptied my cup and got up from my seat. So did Starrick. “Do not hesitate to stop by miss Cross, you’re always welcome in my house.” He said. “Thank you mister Starrick, I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks again for everything.” I curtsied. “It was my pleasure.” He added. His hand took a small strand of my hair and tucked it behind my ear. I didn’t know how to feel about this. I curtsied again and he escorted me to the carriage.
His driver brought me home safely and when I got there, Lily and Mina were already waiting for me. They were relieved I was safe, but nonetheless angry because they didn’t hear a thing about me. “Elena, where have you been? We’ve been worried sick about you!” Lily yelled at me. “I’m sorry guys, I was really upset last night and I had to get out. I couldn’t bear it anymore.” I cried. “Yeah, Mina told me. It was an arse thing of him to do Elena. But if it is any consolation, he and his sister looked the entire night for you. As soon as he saw you running off, he immediately left and ran after you.” Lily explained. I couldn’t believe it, she was just saying this to make me feel better. I was still angry at him. “I doubt it, seeing him with that stupid blonde last night…” I added. “I don’t know why she was there either Elena, but he really went after you.” Mina fell in. “After several hours of looking, he told me he lost your trace. His sister joined the search and she was really angry at him. I’ve never seen them arguing like that. For a moment, I thought they were going to kill each other.” Lily added. They asked me a lot of questions and I tried to answer them as vague as possible. Although they’re my best friends, I didn’t want them to report to Jacob or Evie I was with Starrick. I don’t know how they would react, so I’d rather keep this to myself. After a while, the questioning stopped and they both gave me a hug. I love my friends so much, I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to them. The less they know, the better. I went to my room and sat on my bed for a while. I looked at the roses next to me, still in their vase and I couldn’t help but smile. Was he really looking for me all night? Why? Because clearly he was enjoying his company last night. Why did he even bring her… My mind kept filling itself with even more questions. There was only one way to figure this out, I’d have to talk to Jacob about this. I left my room and told my friends were I was going. They didn’t argue with me, just asked me to come back safe. I was on my way to the station, hoping I’d find the train hideout over there. I had no such luck this time, I’d have to wait for it to pass by.
A messenger came into my direction. “Good day miss, are you miss Elena Cross?” He asked me. “Yes, I am, why?” I replied. “I had to deliver this message to you.” He handed me the letter he was holding and was on his way again. “Wait! Who sent it?” I yelled, but he didn’t hear me anymore. I hoped it was Jacob who wrote this letter to me. I opened the letter and started to read.
Dear miss Cross
I truly enjoyed our conversation this morning and I hope to have another one soon.
There’s a ball this evening and I would be honoured if you’d join me. If you were to accept my invitation, I’ll have my driver pick you up and bring you to the mansion. There we will depart for the soiree.
I would love to see you by my side.
My heart skipped a beat. I didn’t expect him to ask me to a ball, I hurried back home so I would be ready when his driver arrived.
Talking to Jacob skipped my mind. What was happening to me? Yesterday I got really jealous because he was with another woman, this morning I was happy when I heard he was looking for me and now I do not even care about talking to him… This entire situation was confusing me, I really hated it. When I arrived home, Lily and Mina were already out of the mansion, so I had the bathroom for myself. I took a bath and rubbed myself in with one of the scented oils, perfumed myself, did my make-up and combed my hair, leaving it to dry. I picked out a lovely purple dress, to match his outfit, if he was wearing it of course and hung it over the chair so I could put it on later. I put on some of my finest undergarments and picked out the jewellery for tonight. A simple golden necklace with matching earrings would do. I curled my hair and partially pinned it up, so you could still see my long curly hair. Since I had to hurry, I quickly dressed and put on the jewellery. I perfumed myself once more and I was ready to go. Starrick’s driver arrived precisely on time and I got into the carriage. After some time, we arrived at Starrick’s mansion where I saw him waiting for me. I got out of the carriage and he taken aback with how I look. I think this was the first time he didn’t know what to s ay, so I took the lead. “Good evening mister Starrick. Thank you for inviting me.” I curtsied. He helped me out of the carriage and put his arm around my waist. “You look lovely this evening miss Cross.” He whispered. “Thank you sir, but please, call me Elena.” He guided me towards his personal carriage and helped me get inside. When I was seated, he entered the carriage himself, sat down in front of me and his driver closed the door. He knocked the wood twice and the carriage was on his way. We drove to the Tower of London, where the party was held. “Something wrong?” Starrick asked me. “No sir, it’s just, I’ve never been to a ball like this before. I’m quite nervous.” I admitted. “No need to be, you look perfect.” His eyes lingered on my nervous expression and he had to supress a little smile. I noticed my cheeks turning red and my face was getting really warm. Was it this dress or could it be something else? We arrived at our destination and Starrick helped me out of the carriage. I grabbed his arm as he escorted me inside the Tower.
When we entered the Tower, everybody kept staring at us and I heard whispering when we passed them by. Some of the things are heard were “Do you know who that woman is? I’ve never seen her before!” or “Oh my, here’s mister Starrick, we’d better be quiet about those plans for now.” It appears people feared him but were intrigued by him as well. The people at the party were very pleasant and polite. When Starrick went to some of his colleagues, I tried to talk to some of the women. They were nice, but clearly most of them were not that interested in politics. I met a woman over there, misses Disraeli and she was really nice. I talked with her most of the evening, for I enjoyed her company most. Starrick came to check on me once in a while, but when he saw I was amusing myself, he gave me some more space. That was until the music started to play. They started to play a waltz and Starrick came to ask for a dance. Of course I could not refuse since we were doing the opening waltz and everybody was looking at us. “Mister Starrick, I don’t think I can do this, I’m a poor dancer I’m afraid.” I admitted. “No need to feel ashamed, just follow my lead miss Cross.” He took my hand and helped me up. When we reached the floor, he put his hand on my waste and took my hand in his. It felt quite strange to be honest. “Put your hand on my shoulder.” He told me and so I did. The dance started and I did my best to follow his lead. I looked down all the time to make sure I did the steps right and to make sure I didn’t step on his foot. More people joined us, including mister and misses Disraeli. The dancing continued and I started to get the hang of it. I just followed the lead and let me get carried away by the music. I didn’t notice mister Starrick and I got closer to each other, for he had his entire arm around my waist and I had my arm resting on his shoulder instead of my hand. I had to admit, I was enjoying myself.
That was until I saw a familiar face among the crowd… That of Jacob and he looked like he was in pain. I knew he hated Starrick for obvious reasons, but ofcourse, Jacob didn’t know I knew that Starrick was a Templar. I expected him to leave, which he almost did, until misses Disraeli asked him for a dance. They were awkwardly close to Starrick and me and I felt Crawford tensing up as well. “What’s wrong?” I asked Starrick. “It’s nothing dear, just someone I’m in competing business with.” He tried to assure me. Suddenly misses Disraeli addressed me so we stopped dancing and broke apart. “Miss Cross, I’m dying for you to meet a friend of mine.” She gestured towards Jacob. “Dear mister Frye, this is miss Cross, this is the young lady I was talking about! You should meet her!” She smiled. Oh, how I would love to share that smile. “Good evening mister Frye. How are you doing?” I greeted him politely. I felt Starrick pulling at my arm to get me away from them. “I’m doing well miss Cross. You seem to enjoy your company.” He stated. “I do, thanks for asking.” I gently replied. Although I was thinking about last night and how he was with the blonde woman. “I shall not keep you occupied any longer then.” He added. “Finally something we agree on.” Starrick joined the conversation. “Oh mister Starrick, let the youngsters be! Come on, we’ll have a dance as well.” She dragged him to the dancefloor. Knowing Starrick, if she weren’t a woman or if they weren’t on a public event, she would have felt the consequences of this. I was left alone with Jacob and he didn’t seem in a talkative mood. “So, I heard you were looking for me last night.” I tried to get the conversation going. “I was, but clearly, you were in good hands.” He replied, his tone full of sarcasm and envy. Two can play that game. “So were you if I recall.” I added. “What did she even say again? That she would lend you a hand last night?” I pushed even further. That seemed to trigger him for his expression changed from envy to anger. He grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the room. I caught a glimpse of Starrick being annoyed with misses Disraeli, but he didn’t notice me leaving.
Chapter 10: May the Father of Understanding guide us
When we left the building, Jacob shoved me against the wall. “What is it with you? Do you have a death wish? You do know who that is do you??” He exclaimed. Of course I knew, but I had to play dumb. “He’s the man who found me last night while I was unconscious, he was kind enough to take me in and get me a doctor.” He tried to remain calm. “Elena, do you remember that certain wall in our train? Do you recall any of the faces?” He was still blazing. Of course I did. “No, why?” I asked. “Because HE is on the very top of it!” He pointed towards the Tower and I knew he meant Starrick. “At least HE didn’t hurt me.” I added to the conversation. I saw he got angry again and then he recalled last night as well. He looked pained again, but I couldn’t pity him. Not after what he did. I stepped away from him and headed back to the entrance of the Tower. “Elena wait!” He yelled, but I didn’t listen and went inside anyway. Back inside I saw Starrick looking everywhere and suddenly he spotted me. “There you are, are you alright?” He asked me. “I’m fine mister Starrick, I was just a bit tired so I went for some fresh air. It was colder than I anticipated.” I added. “Alright then.” He looked at me and he seemed to see right into my soul. “Come on, let’s get you back inside. It’s much warmer here.” He added. I took his arm and let him guide me inside. I noticed him looking over his shoulder into the darkness outside, although it was not for long. We danced for a while and after a while, I was enjoying myself like I was before. “Mister Starrick, do you often go to events like these?” I asked him. “Not really, but I’ve recently found a good excuse to attend them.” He looked at me and smiled. I blushed at his words. Although I was enjoying myself, I started to feel tired. “Do you wish to go home?” Starrick asked me. “I’d like to stay, but I’m feeling really tired sir.” I admitted. “I’ll take you home miss Cross.” We stopped dancing and he guided me towards the carriage. He told the driver where to go to, helped me in and took the seat in front of me. He knocked the wood twice and the driver drove off. “I had a wonderful evening mister Starrick.” I told him and smiled. “So did I miss Cross.” His eyes never leaving mine. I felt quite uncomfortable, even though we’ve been so close just a moment ago. There was something about him that made him seem to superior and when he was with me, he looked so vulnerable. “Thank you for inviting me mister Starrick, I will remember this evening.” I added. The carriage stopped and we had reached our destination. He got out of the carriage first and he helped me get out. He gently took my hand and I expected him to let go as soon as I got out of the carriage but he didn’t. “Miss Cross, I hope to see you again soon.” He gently lifted my hand until he reached his lips and kissed them, his eyes never leaving mine. I blushed and said. “I hope so too, I had a wonderful evening, thanks again Crawford.” He smiled when I said his name. He guided towards the door of our mansion and helped me up the stairs. “Would you like to come in for a drink?” I asked him. “Perhaps another time Elena, I do not want people to question your reputation.” He politely declined my offer. I didn’t think of this before, Victorian London was not the same as the age I was living in, so I took no offence in this. “At least let me thank you for tonight.” I added and got closer to him. My face came close to his and I gave him a gentle peck on the cheek. When I pulled away, his eyes were closed and there was a smile on his face. I went inside and closed the door.
Mina was still up and she heard us talking. “Who’s that guy Elena?” She asked me. “This was the man who saved me last night, mister Starrick.” I answered. “You mean the guy who runs the city of London?” She was astonished. “How lucky can you be Elena?” She added. “Well, obviously not that lucky, for Jacob was also present at the ball and things were quite awkward.” I admitted.
“Did they fight over you?” She asked. Mina wanted to know all the gossip of last night. I told her what happened and she seemed to realise something. “So that’s why he was so angry when he entered the pub, never seen him like that. He started drinking like there was no tomorrow and was rude to everyone who came near him.” Mina told me. I felt quite bad after hearing this, but I couldn’t help but feel attracted to Starrick as well. There’s just something about him that makes my skill crawl, in a good and bad way. It was hard to decide which of the two came closest. At least Starrick didn’t betray me with another woman. I said goodnight to Mina and went to bed. I undressed myself, put on my nightgown and opened one of the windows for I really needed some fresh air. I went to bed and took out one of the roses which were still in the vase next to me. I thought about Jacob and I really felt bad about all the recent events. Tears started to well up and I held the rose in my hand until I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning I woke up with my hair sticking to my face. My eyes still felt a bit swollen from all the crying last night and my voice was a bit raspy. I noticed I was not alone and expected Mina or Lily to be here. They were not, it was Evie who was waiting for me to wake up. I was quite surprised to see her here. “Good morning Evie, I hope you do not mind me asking, but why are you here. You’re most welcome ofcourse, but I thought I would see you on the train?” I asked her. She seemed concerned. “Are you alright Elena?” She asked me, seeing my current state. “Of course, I just had some rough days to be honest.” I admitted. “So I’ve heard.” Evie stated. “My brother hasn’t come to the train this night, God knows where he might be.” She drifted off. “Anyway, I feel like you need some advice Elena. I heard you’re on good terms with Starrick?” She continued. “Yes I am, but I don’t see…” Evie interrupted me. “How this has anything to do with Jacob? Pretty much everything. From all of the guys you could have, did it really have to be him? Of course you know nothing about all of this, but let’s say Jacob and I are not really on good terms with him. And to make this situation even more complex, both my brother and Starrick are competing for the same woman. You.” Evie stated. She didn’t seem angry, but I knew she would not come here just to tell me the obvious. “It’s a good thing you’re on good terms with Starrick Elena, you can keep an eye on him. However, you cannot be seen with us anymore, for it may end bad for you this way. Think of it as your own mission I’m assigning you.” She added. “So, I can’t see you or Jacob again?” I asked her. Tears started to well up again. “I’m sorry Elena, but if Starrick knew we were friends, this would end really bad for you. Jacob and I will keep in contact with you if the time is there. For the time being, you’re dismissed when it comes to research.” Evie told me. I could see she didn’t like this either, but there was no other way. “Does Jacob know about this?” I asked her. “I’ll tell him as soon as I see him again. I’m really sorry.” She added. “This is all his fault!” I blurted out. “How so?” Evie asked me. “If he didn’t show up with that stupid blonde a couple of nights ago, I would’ve never ran into Starrick and everything would be fine!” I exclaimed. Tears were streaming over my cheeks again. “Knowing my brother, he was trying to make you jealous Elena. He was quite protective over you at mister Bell’s house. Can you even imagine how he would react if he saw you with Starrick?” She asked me. I could. “No…” I answered her, but I knew I hurt Jacob’s feelings really bad. But another part of me still couldn’t forgive him. “I think it’s best I leave. We’ll check up on you once in a while, so I promise you’ll hear from us. Goodbye Elena.” She said and left through the window. I felt bad, really bad. I got back into bed and cried myself asleep once more.
It was early in the afternoon when I awoke. I went downstairs and Mina was still in the mansion. “Someone left these for you.” She told me when I entered the dining room. There was a bouquet full of white roses, except for a single red one in the middle of them on the dining table with a letter attached to them. I opened the letter.
Dear miss Cross
I would like to thank you again for last night.
I would like to have your company again this evening, I’ll be hosting a banquet.
I’ll have my driver pick you up at 6 P.M.
I couldn’t help but smile, he really seemed to enjoy my company. I didn’t expect this to happen.
I walked to the study and decided to write him a letter in return.
Dear mister Starrick
I am very pleased you wish for my company this evening.
I’ll be ready.
This felt like texting back in the days. I put it in an envelope and left the mansion. There I found a Templar and I kindly asked him to deliver this to mister Starrick. I was quite relieved when he answered me gently and he would deliver this to him immediately. I had to prepare for the banquet and I wanted to surprise Starrick. I decided to wear a white, elegant dress to match the flowers he sent me this morning. As a finishing touch, I put on some red lipstick, to match the single red rose in the bouquet. When I was ready, Mina had already left for her shift and Lily was still working at the asylum. I left the mansion and locked the door and got into the carriage. I looked outside of my window to the city of London during the ride. Not much had happened that day though.
We neared Starrick’s mansion and it wasn’t long until we arrived. Starrick was not waiting for me this time, but his servant was. The woman who helped me when I first came to this place. “Good evening miss, you look lovely! I shall inform the master you have arrived, please follow my lead.” She greeted me. I followed her steps until we arrived into a large dining hall, big enough to host even eighty people. Starrick saw me coming in and he smiled, I immediately knew he got the reference of my current look to the gift he got me earlier this day. He ended the conversation he was currently having and went my direction. He stopped before me and made a bow. “Miss Cross.” He greeted me. “Mister Starrick” I curtsied. “Just in time for dinner miss Cross.” He stated. “I’m starving.” I joked. The servants started to fill the tables with a variety of plates and people were sitting down. I was looking for a place where I could sit, but Starrick had something other in mind. “I’ve already picked out a place for you miss Cross.” He informed me and guided me to the head of the table. He pulled away the chair on his right and helped me get comfortable. He took his place at the head of the table and I could feel several eyes on me. Apparently, it was a privilege to sit at his right and I started to blush. The servants poured us all some wine and the first course came in. We talked about politics and how things were going in London and several people joined our conversation. “The people need to be contained, riots are spreading and soon we will lose all control.” One said. “Because of some gang named the Rooks, we lost control of another area. We should do something about this!” Another one added. “What is your take on this miss Cross?” Starrick addressed me. Everyone had their attention on me now. “The people feel oppressed and they are starting to get desperate. Children are dying, people are starving because they don’t have enough money to buy themselves some food. Maybe if you were to give in to their requests and lower the prices or raise their wages, they’ll be more at ease.” I told them. Some of the men started to laugh but quickly stopped when they saw Starrick wasn’t. “How would you manage to do that? I can’t see any benefits for us in this.” He replied. “Well, it will not have any immediate effect. But if you were to open several stores where only your workers could buy their food, many of them would be able to buy something decent and be happier. Or maybe another idea, you could arrange some meals for them at work, this way they’ll be able to eat something decent and thank you for it. It would not be very profitable in the beginning, but the people will be happier and less inclined to go on a strike or revolt. On a long-term base, people will be healthier and live longer and will therefore work longer for you. It might be a possibility.” I continued. The people on the table grew quiet. “Good point miss Cross, maybe I should invite you to these events more often.” He added. I blushed and continued eating. I drank some of the wine and it was delicious. I had some more and I started to feel a bit light-headed. “Easy now.” Starrick told me. “We would not want your mind and ideas to be clouded now would we?” He asked. “I get my best ideas when I’m drunk mister Starrick.” I joked. This didn’t seem to amuse him however.
More courses came and Starrick left the table with some of his colleagues or friends and went to another room. People didn’t talk to me that much, not that I cared about it though… I had some more wine, for it was really delicious. The waiter had to refill my glass quite frequently. After a while, Starrick and his company came back to the table and it seems he was about to speech.
“Dear ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming tonight. As you know, there will be someone new to initiate into our order and therefore I would like to introduce you to miss Cross.” He began. I almost spat out the wine I was drinking and I couldn’t help but gape at Starrick.
Chapter 11: The beauty of the beast
Starrick continued his speech. “As you’ve heard just now, she would make a wonderful addition to our order and as far as I know her, she shares the same ideas as we do. Elena, please come foreward.” He called for me. I got off my chair and was stumbling due to the wine I had. Starrick seemed quite annoyed by this. I walked into his direction and stood beside him. Lucy came in with a cushion and a small Templar cross was pinned upon my dress. “May the Father of Understanding guide us.” He finished his speech. “May the Father of Understanding guide us.” I repeated his words and so did the rest of the room.
There was some more dancing and drinking and after a couple of hours, many people had left the mansion. There were only Starrick, Lucy and some of his lieutenants left until they went home as well. I expected Starrick to call for a carriage and take me home, but he didn’t. “Now that you’re a Templar, I expect you to behave well.” He started. I still felt a bit lightheaded from all of the wine I drank. “I’m sorry mister Starrick, I’ll keep this in mind. It won’t happen again.” I promised.
“Follow me please.” He asked me. We left the dining room and went to the corridor where his study was. Instead of going to the study where his office lies at the end of the corridor, he opened a door on the right and we were in another study where his valuable items were stocked. He went to a vault and took out a small box. “I thought you may like this.” He handed the box over to me. I opened the small silver box and there was a necklace with a Templar cross inside. The one Haytam Kenway and Élise de la Serre used to wear. “Are you sure? This is such a beautiful gift! It looks very old!” I asked him. I was really astonished he’d give such a gift to me. “We recovered this necklace from an Assassin in France. It used to belong to some of the greatest Templars our Order has ever seen. And I’m sure it will be in good hands if I give it to you.” He answered me. I couldn’t contain my happiness anymore and gave him a hug. That was something he didn’t expect, for he just stood frozen in place, like he didn’t know how to respond. “Thank you so much!” I told him, tears of joy forming in the corners of my eyes. I broke our embrace and wanted to put the necklace on. I was fumbling with the lock and I was afraid to break it so I stopped. “May I?” I nodded. He took the necklace out of my hands, opened the lock and gently pushed my hair aside. I noticed my neck and back were partially bare and suddenly, I felt the cold metal of the necklace against my skin. Goosebumps appeared on my skin and they grew even worse when I felt his warm hands against my back, trying to close the lock. I heard the lock close, but his hands didn’t leave my back just yet. His fingers slid over my back to my shoulder and he took a strand of my curly hair. “You look very beautiful Elena.” He told me, barely a whisper.
He started to pull away from me and I don’t know if I was so bold due to the alcohol or due to his recent touch, but I didn’t want him to leave. “Wait.” I whispered and turned around, reaching for his hand. I took his hand in mine and let my fingers entwine with his. Starrick was suddenly motionless and he looked at me like it was the first time he saw me. I squeezed his hand softly, but no reaction came. He mustn’t like these sort of things so I loosened my grip and took my hand away from his. “I must be going, for it’s getting late and my friends must be worried.” I broke the silence. “Ofcourse.” He answered me, like he just awoke from his trance. “I’ll see you out.” We left the smaller study and walked back through the corridor towards the main hall. It was raining heavily outside and I didn’t bring my coat. “Mister Starrick, do you have a spare coat I could use? I forgot mine at home.” I asked him. He seemed to think about it for a minute. “Stay.” He answered me. Not sure if it were a question or a command, but his words were clear, he didn’t want me to leave. “I’ll have Bonny prepare your room for tonight. I hope the room you stayed in before was to your liking?” He added. “Thank you mister Starrick, that’s very kind of you. Yes, I liked the room very much, especially the roses!” I replied and smiled at the memory of the roses. Starrick left the main hall and I heard him talking to the servant I met before, Bonny. She nodded and went upstairs, Starrick entered the hall I was waiting in again. “Please follow me Elena.” He asked me and I followed him.
We entered another corridor and he opened the door to the left. A beautiful sitting room, with a fireplace and some comfy looking armchairs in front of the fireplace. There were bookshelves against the wall, filled with books and statues. A globe which could be opened and it contained some bottles of whiskey and some glasses. I looked around for a while, admiring the room and the view of the city of London outside. “Do you like it?” Starrick broke the silence. “I do, this room is beautiful mister Starrick!” I answered him. “I’m glad you do.” He replied and he was silent once more. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed that he wanted to add something to this. But he stayed silent, so I didn’t push it any further. “You can wait here until you room is ready, if you would like to ofcourse.” He told me. “I’m going to read for a while, which is something I really love to do, if that’s ok?” I asked him. “Of course, please, make yourself at home Elena.” He gently answered me. I walked towards his bookshelves and I was looking for a book I wanted to read. My eye fell on an old, leather-bound book and I pulled it out. A smile spread across Starrick’s face. “You truly are a curious woman miss Cross.” He started. I looked at him and to the book again. I was quite confused why he said this. “Do you realise which book you have taken from my shelve?” He continued. “No sir, I’m afraid not.” I answered him and looked at the book again. I opened the first page. It read ‘The journal of Élise de la Serre’. Oh, now I get it. “Who was she?” I asked him. “She was a fellow Templar, during the French Revolution.” He explained. “It’s funny because you’re wearing her necklace and the first book you picked out was her journal.” He continued. “Can I read it or would you like me to pick another one?” I asked him. “Keep it and I hope you may learn something from this.” He simply said. I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you sure Crawford, I mean, this is quite old and pretty important to your Order?” I asked him again. “Our Order.” He corrected me. “Right, I’m sorry, I’m still getting used to this.” I replied and looked at the book again.
Was he really giving this to me? I put the book down on one of the armchairs and walked towards Starrick. I wasn’t sure if he’d like it, but I gave him another hug. I knew it meant much to give me a gift like this and a simple ‘thank you’ just wouldn’t do for me to thank him for this. He tensed up again when I wrapped my arms around his shoulders. Unlike last time, I didn’t keep much of a distance and came really close to him. I could feel his chest against mine and my heart was pounding like crazy. I placed my cheek against his and deepened the hug. Starrick was still tense and I didn’t know what to do. I loosened my grip on him and stepped back, but my wrists were still leaning on his shoulders. “Is there something wrong mister Starrick?” I asked him. “No it’s just…” He started but didn’t finish his sentence. I took it as a sign to step away entirely and was about to pull away my arms, but then I felt his left hand on my back, again pulling me closer to him. His right hand cupped my face and his thumb was tracing my cheek. “You’ll be my undoing.” He stated, his eyes locking mine. I felt my cheek turn red and I traced the back of his neck with my left hand, gently playing with his hair. He closed his eyes and leaned in and I felt his nose against mine, his breath with a subtle hint of the liquor he had until I felt his lips brush against mine. He was hesitant, waiting for me to respond to his kiss and when I did, he gently deepened it. His mouth opened just a little to see how I would respond and since I mimicked his actions, he took it as a sign to continue. The tip of his tongue searched for mine and we both let out a small, barely hearable moan. “Elena.” I heard him whisper. My grip on this neck tightened and our kiss grew more passionate by doing so. He pulled me closer to him and I felt his left arm tighten around my back. His right hand slid from my cheek to my hair and his fingers entwined with it. I softly bit his lower lip and he seemed to like this, for his kisses grew more desperate and demanding. Suddenly the door to the sitting room opened and Bonny came in with a teapot, cups and some other stuff on a platter. “I thought you’d like some tea while…” She broke off her sentence when she saw us kissing each other. Her face turned red like a beet and she quickly left the room.
Starrick and I were startled and we broke apart. We were both breathing heavily and looked at each other. I knew there was a big smile on my face, but I couldn’t quite read Starrick’s expression. It varied from disbelief to a smile, to disbelief again. “If you’d like, I’ll have some tea brought to your room miss Cross?” He broke the silence. “That’s very kind of you mister Starrick, but I’m quite tired already and I don’t think tea would help getting asleep.” I answered him. “I’ll escort you to your room.” He added and he left the sitting room. I followed his steps and he went upstairs, to the corridor I was already familiar with. “My room is at the end of the corridor, I’ll be there if you need anything.” He opened the door of the room where I stayed before and called for Bonny to help me out of my clothes. “Goodnight Elena.” He whispered. “Good night Crawford.” I answered him on a hush tone. A hint of a smile appeared on his face and as soon as he heard Bonny coming up the steps, he left for his room on the end of the corridor.
I was greeted with the smell of fresh roses. The sunlight was but a meek light in the distance, softly shining through the curtains. I opened my eyes and I could see the beautiful four-poster bed I was lying in. I didn’t want to get up yet, but I knew I had to. I got out of bed and started to walk to the adjacent bathroom. There I had a look at the mirror and I must admit, I’d seen better days. I heard some knocking on the bedroom door. “Come in!” I shouted. Bonny entered the room and she noticed I was not in bed anymore. She walked into the direction of the bathroom and politely knocked the door again. “Good morning miss, I’m here to help you get dressed.” She started. I opened the door for her and welcomed her with a bright smile. I must have looked funny, with my hair being a total mess. “Good morning Bonny!” I greeted her back. She filled the bath tub with hot water and added some scented oil to the water. The bathroom started to smell divine and I inhaled the scent. Bonny helped me out of my sleeping dress and helped me into the tub. I sat down and really enjoyed it when she washed my hair, especially when she started to massage my scalp. I was totally relaxed and I started to drown in thoughts. Did yesterday night really happen? I could remember it as if it happened just a minute ago. I thought about the necklace and the book I got from him and the hug we shared. The moment when his fingers brushed my skin was still giving me goose bumps. And then I remember the kiss we shared and my cheeks started to turn red again. I wondered what would have happened if Bonny didn’t open the door.
Bonny rinsed my hair with some fresh water and helped me out of the tub again. She combed my hair and helped me get dressed. I was given a dark green dress and I decided to wear the necklace I had received yesterday. Bonny helped me with my hair as soon as it got dryer. When she was ready, she left the room and went downstairs. I was wondering where Starrick would be. I walked towards his bedroom door and gently knocked. No answer came. I opened the door and there was a huge king-size bed in the middle of the room, but Starrick wasn’t there anymore. I left the room and went downstairs, to the dining hall. Bonny had made me some bacon and eggs, which were divine, but there was no sign of Starrick here either. I finished my breakfast and thanked Bonny for making this for me. She seemed pleased when I told her these was the best breakfast I had since a couple of days.
I went to the sitting room where Starrick and I shared our first kiss together and there I found Starrick, sitting in an arm chair, reading a book. “Good morning miss Cross, I hope you slept well?” He greeted me. “I did sir, thank you. I’ve had a pleasant dream this night.” I teased him even further. He ignored my remark so I decided to change the subject. “What will you do today mister Starrick?” I asked him. “I still have a lot of work to do miss Cross, if you’ll excuse me. I’ll have a driver bring you home.” He simply stated. I couldn’t believe my ears, was this the same man who held me in such a loving embrace last night? “Of course…” I stammered. I know I sounded very disappointed and that was exactly what I was planning to do. “Goodbye miss Cross.” He added and left the room. I didn’t understand anything about this man, why was he so indifferent compared to yesterday evening? I left the sitting room as well and walked towards the main hall, where his driver was already waiting for me. He still knew the address where I lived and he helped me get into the carriage. I didn’t notice Starrick watching me leave, with a pained expression on his face.
As soon as I arrived home, I ran to my room and closed the door. Mina was still asleep and Lily had already left for work. I started to unpin my hair and dress into something more comfortable. A simple dress would do. I started to read one of the books until I was so sunken into the story I forgot about everything else and noticed it was already evening. I decided to call it a day and put on my sleeping gown. It was getting late and I heard some tapping near the window. It must have been Evie, for she had promised she would return. I opened the window, but there was no-one there. It must have been a bird ticking on the window perhaps. Outside were some Rooks, loading one of their carts with a variety of boxes, but no sign from Evie. Strange, for I could have sworn I heard something. I went back inside and got into bed. It didn’t take long before I fell asleep.
During the night, there was some commotion on the streets. I noticed I left my window open last evening and that’s why the sounds were so hard. The Rooks were still loading some carts with boxes and crates, but I couldn’t see what was inside. I didn’t see any familiar faces like those of the twins or Sam’s. They were preparing something big, for they worked for several hours and they seemed pretty tense. One of them kept looking around suspiciously, but he didn’t notice me. I was wondering what they were up to. I heard some rumbling behind me, but I couldn’t see anything in my room. Suddenly a figure dropped from my roof and stood before me. It was Jacob and he didn’t seem in a good mood. “Good evening mister Frye.” I greeted him coldly. “Good evening miss Cross.” He greeted me back, equally cold. I felt this wasn’t going to be a nice conversation, but still he came to visit me. “What are they doing?” I asked him. He paused for a moment, like he was debating if he should tell me or not. “We’re preparing an assault Elena, that’s all I can tell for now.” He replied. “An assault? Why? You do realize innocent people will get hurt in your rash actions?!” I jelled at him. “Please spare me your hypocrisy Elena. Your new friend does things far worse than this. Or should I say ‘lover’?” He spat that last word out like it was venomous. “He’s not my lover you fool!” I jelled again. I had honestly no idea what Crawford and I were. “It didn’t look that way back at the Tower.” Jacob stated and he grew silent. I know how it must have looked.
“Why did you come looking for me that night?” I asked him. “I wasn’t looking for you, misses Disraeli invited me.” He replied. “No, not that night. The night before, after I ran away from the pub. Why did you come looking for me?” I asked him again. He was silent for a moment. “Because I didn’t want you to get hurt Elena. The streets are not safe at night.” He answered me, his eyes locking mine. I could still see how sorry he was about that night. “Why did you run away?” He asked me in return. I was certain he already new the answer to this. “I was a bit agitated that night, I was tired from working and the stress became a bit too much.” I lied. “Mina told me something else you know.” Jacob started. “Ok, I couldn’t stand the sight of you with another girl. It’s like you didn’t care about what happened before, and that made me angry. And after her retarded remark, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I had to get away.” I told him, totally honest this time. “So, you were jealous of her weren’t you?” He teased. “Not jealous, I just couldn’t understand why you would hang around with a shallow girl like her… Especially after leaving me the rose and stuff…” I replied, my gaze drifting into my room to the nightstand. His gaze followed mine and I saw him smile when he noticed the roses. “You kept them?” He gently asked me. “Of course I did!” I replied. He was silent for a while again, he seemed less distant. “Thank you.” I told him. “I’ve missed you.” He told me and tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear. “I’ve missed you too.” I admitted. I saw some blighters in the distance and went back inside my room. Jacob got inside too and quickly closed the windows and curtains. “They can’t see us together.” I told him. “I know, Evie told me about your ‘mission’.” He replied. “Are you sure about all this? I don’t like this, you being so close to the Templars.” He continued. “I understand Jacob, but Evie asked me to do this. And Crawford is really nice to me.” I started. “Oh, so you’re on first name basis now?” He spat out, his temper bad again. “Yes we are. Evie asked me to gain his trust and get intel about their plans.” I replied. “As long as you don’t get too familiar…” He added. “I’ve been inducted in the Templar order last night.” I admitted to him and I saw his gaze towards the nightstand again, where I also put the Templar necklace. “Seems he trusts you quite a lot already.” Jacob said when he noticed the necklace, his tone bitter. “I wish you did too, Jacob.” I added and he paused for a moment. We heard some more shouting from outside, the Rooks and Blighters had engaged into a fight. “I should go.” Jacob said and stepped to the window. “No!” I exclaimed. “You can’t leave through the window, what if they notice you?!” I told him. “I can’t exactly walk out the front door either, do I?” He added. I thought for a moment, maybe there was another route he could take to leave the mansion. We didn’t have any secret passage ways as far as we knew. Suddenly, an idea popped into my mind. “We could go to the attic! Maybe there’s a window over there where you could escape the house without being noticed!” I told him and pulled him out of my room, towards the stairs leading to the attic.
The stairs were covered in dust and they led to a small, narrow corridor with a door in the back of it. Jacob went first and he tried to open the door, which was fortunately unlocked. When he opened the door, we entered a small room with a few small windows. I doubt these were big enough for Jacob, but they’ll have to do. “Be safe!” I told him. “I will.” He replied with a hint of a smile lingering on his face. “Will you come back tonight?” I asked him. “Perhaps, we’ll see how things turn out. Maybe I won’t come back at all, you never know what might happen.” He stated. Suddenly I became worried and got very emotional. “Please come back, for me?” I gently asked him. “That might be a good reason I suppose”. He teased me. He stepped towards the window, but before he could leave, I ran to him and gave him a big hug and a peck on the cheek. “Now I’ll definitely come back.” He joked and nuzzled his nose against mine. It felt totally different than the moment I shared with Starrick. There was no fear this time, but a warm feeling of security. For a moment, it felt like home and I felt safe. I didn’t want to break the moment, but I knew this couldn’t last forever. I inhaled his musky scent and enjoyed our small moment together. “You’ll get another if you come back to me safely.” I teased. He smirked and cupped my face with his hands. “Alright then, you little minx.” He laughed. “I’ll have to go now.” He softly said and kissed my forehead, my face still cupped by his hands. I felt myself go warm again and I hoped to feel the same this evening. Jacob left through the window and I saw him disappear in the darkness.
I left the small room on the attic and left the window unlocked on purpose. The corridor was dimly lit by some candles, but the light was sufficient to find the way to my room. When I finally entered my room, I got into bed and went to sleep. Jacob did not return to me that night.
Sorry for the long absence, still a lot of working during our renovations which gave me barely enough time to work on anything else. I wrote some chapters and I will try to review and post them asap!
Lots of love
Chapter 13: Between a rock and a hard place
When I woke up, it was almost noon and there was a lot of commotion on the streets. I heard it loud and clear, even with windows closed. I couldn’t understand what everybody was talking about, but I saw a boy selling papers having a really good day. Everybody who passed him, was buying a newspaper. Since he almost ran out, I decided to get one too. I quickly put on my coat and ran outside. “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” I heard him yell. I handed him some money and got a paper. The front page had a picture of damaged buildings, dead bodies and serious destruction. I got inside, to the office and sat down behind the desk. I started to read the titel. “Chaos in London!” I couldn’t help but think of Jacob. Where he was, chaos soon followed. I read the article and apparently I was right about that. The article said several parts of London were destroyed due to massive explosions which were ignited by the Rooks. They targeted several of Starrick’s factories, warehouses where his goods were stocked, even some of his boats were blown to pieces. There were a lot of casualties, most of them were Blighters, but there were many Rooks among the casualties as well. I got really worried, what if Jacob was also among them? He did promise to come back, but he didn’t. I wondered if I should contact Evie about this, but I didn’t want to worry her either. I heard some knocking on the door and I went downstairs, to the hall. When I opened the door, there was a Blighter standing in front of me. I got really scared, did he know Jacob was here last night? “Good morning sir, can I help you?” I asked him wearily. “Good morning miss. I came to deliver this letter to miss Cross.” He handed me the letter. “Thank you sir, that would be me.” I said, relieved I wasn’t caught. “Mister Starrick ordered me to ask you to reply to him as soon as possible miss.” He added. “Thank you, I will.” I said, ready to close the door, but the Blighter wasn’t leaving. “I’m sorry miss, but he wanted you to read it right now and take the message with me immediately.” He told me. “Alright then. Please come in while you have to wait sir.” I gestured him to come inside and guided him towards the sitting room. I gave him the newspaper from this morning, so he had something to read while he had to wait until I read the letter. I opened the letter and started to read.
Dear miss Cross
You must have heard about the events of last night. Many of my facilities and men were attacked and I still fear the attacks might continue the following days. I fear it is not safe for you to stay alone and I would like you to stay in my mansion until things are resolved.
If they are able to destroy several of my heavily guarded factories, nothing will stop them to attempt an attack on a harmless young lady. Since you were seen with me by some of them, I would feel more at ease to know you are safe here.
I’ve send my best driver to pick you up immediately.
I didn’t expect this to happen at all. How was I supposed to be in contact with Evie and Jacob from now? Many thoughts passed through my mind, but I knew Starrick was not a man to argue with. He would not take ‘no’ for an answer. I turned my attention to the Blighter. “Is it ok if I pick up a few of my belongings first?” I asked him. “Of course miss, but don’t take too long. Mister Starrick ordered me to return immediately.” He politely told me. “Alright then, one moment please.” I replied and went upstairs to my room. I took the necklace and diary of Élise de la Serre, some clothes and put them in my trunk. The trunk was quite heavy, but when the Blighter saw me upstairs, he helped me getting it down and into the cart. We were soon on our way to Crawford Starrick. On our way, I saw the devastation of the city done by the Rooks last night. No wonder so many people died. They were still cleaning everything and bodies were still found beneath the rubble. This happened in several parts of London, where Starrick had his factories. Fortunately, not too many citizens were harmed in the attacks, but there were still some casualties. The price of war, I thought to myself. Let’s hope it was not in vain.
We soon neared Starrick’s mansion and Bonny was already waiting outside on the courtyard. “Welcome back miss Cross, I’m so relieved to see you unharmed!” Bonny greeted me. “Yes, I’m doing fine Bonny, thanks for asking. But please, call me Elena, I would feel much more comfortable.” I answered her. “Of course miss.” She replied. I knew it was going to take a while, because servants were not used speaking to their ‘masters’ on a first name basis. I heard footsteps coming from the stairs as soon as I entered the mansion. It was Starrick coming down with haste, he must have seen I had arrived. “Good morning miss Cross, I hope I didn’t startle you by picking you up with so much haste? I couldn’t risk leaving you exposed.” He greeted me. “No it’s ok mister Starrick, I understand. You’re only trying to protect me from what happened last night.” I answered him. “I am miss Cross.” He looked at me intently, his eyes looking for mine. “I’m fine Crawford.” I whispered to assure him nothing happened to me. “Good, because I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you.” He gently replied. “Bonny, can you make sure miss Cross’s room is ready for her? She will be staying here for a while.” He continued. “Of course mister Starrick, I’ll do so immediately.” She obeyed and went upstairs. “A while?” I asked him. “Yes Elena, my advisors and I think it’s best you stay here for a while. That man you met back at the Tower, who is in fact an Assassin, saw you that night.” He started. Oh yes he did, I thought to myself. I tried to look astonished since Starrick didn’t tell me much about the Templar order yet. “An Assassin? But why would he harm me, I didn’t do anything wrong.” I replied. “Because first of all, you are a Templar now and they don’t want any competition in this game they’re playing. Second, he saw us both at the soiree, so he knows we are familiar with each other. And seeing the look on his face, he knows I care about you… So he has quite some reasons to hurt you miss Cross.” He calmly explained to me. He couldn’t be more wrong about the look in his face. Yes, Jacob was angry at him for having me by his side, but not for the reason Starrick might have thought. “I doubt they will hurt a woman mister Starrick.” I tried to argue with him. “Believe me they will Elena, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do to get what they want.” He replied me, his tone full of disdain and anger. It was clear he despised the Assassins and everything they stand for. “Don’t worry miss Cross, I will double the guards and have some riflemen on the roof to keep an eye on things. Nobody will harm you.” He tried to assure me, his tone soft again. “Allright, thank you mister Starrick.” I replied. “Alright, let’s talk about the events of last night.
He guided me towards his office at the end of the hall. The entire room was very light, with huge windows at the back of Starrick’s desk, giving me a beautiful view over the city of London. He took his seat and gestured me to sit down in front of him. I sat down and placed my hands on my lap.
“Miss Cross, I already told you about the events of last night but I didn’t tell you much about the consequences of this assault by the Assassins and their gang of criminals called ‘the Rooks’.” He spat out those last words. “Thanks to these actions, we already lost control of Whitechapel and we’re losing control over Southwark and Lambeth. The situation is worst in Southwark, it appears they have some allies over there and I want to know who they are.” He continued. He was talking about mister Bell of course, I hope he’ll be alright. Maybe I’ll try to visit him or send him a message. “How can we know who is helping them?” I asked Starrick. “I already have some men investigating the area where the Assassins have been seen lately.” Starrick informed me. Jacob occasionally visits the pubs over there, so I hope that’s the area Starrick’s spies will investigateand not mister Bell’s house. “We also lost several ships on the Thames which contained a lot of valuable cargo. The outcome of these assaults are disastrous for the economy. And I’m not even talking about all the costs to rebuild all of the buildings they damaged.” Starrick added. “What about the people?” I asked him. “The people? You’re asking me about the casualties of these actions?” He asked me in return. “I am, what about all the people that died in the attacks. Not only your Blighters or the Rooks, but what about all the innocent people that died. Even some children that died during the attacks on the warehouses. What about them and their families?” I started. “Miss Cross, what do you expect me to do? It was not my decision to plan these attacks…” He replied and wanted to say some more before I cut him off. “If you want to gain control over the regions and more important, over their people, show them you care about what happened. It’s good to care about the economy, but without people working, there will be no economy at all. I suggest you give them some kind of support. Providing the families of the casualties with extra food or something to make their lives more bearable. Not only did they lose a member of their family, but they also lost a part of their income. I’m not telling you to give them money, but simply to provide them with supplies for their basic needs. Some of them might have no work until the new warehouses are built and will have no wages due to this either.” I told him and stopped. Starrick looked at me intently and I couldn’t read his expression this time. He was looking curious and intrigued, but at the same time I expected him to laugh at me the very moment. “I’ll keep this in mind.” He simply stated, his face emotionless. I didn’t expect him to show some enthusiasm about it, but at least I hoped for some emotion. He mustn’t have liked me cutting him off, but he didn’t dismiss me yet either. After a short period of silence he continued. “I’ll send some of my men to gather the supplies. But this is a one-time offer.” He told me, looking at me intently to see my reaction. To be honest, I was quite astonished he’d agree to my proposal and I couldn’t suppress a smile. “Thank you.” I gently said. “Don’t get used to it miss Cross, this was merely because I agreed with your solution.” He replied and arched his eyebrow. Was he teasing me? “Alright mister Starrick, is there anything else you’d like my advice for?” I asked him, trying to keep it ‘professional’. A hint of a smile appeared on his stern face, I couldn’t see it on his lips, but I could definitely see it in his eyes. “Perhaps there is miss Cross. What would you do about the Assassins?” He asked. “Well, it depends on what you want I guess. Do you want retribution? I’d suggest doing the same to them. But, if you would really like to piss them off, try to ignore their actions and let the people of London turn against them themselves.” I suggested. He kept looking at me. “What do you mean? I thought the Rooks were well-liked by the people of London?” He asked. “Not if they keep destroying the city and hurting people. Eventually, people will see that they are responsible for the assaults and will see you as the one who’s trying to solve their mess. I think it would turn out in your advantage, rather than your disadvantage.” I continued.
At that moment, Bonny came in with some tea after knocking twice. She poured us both a cup of the delicious Indian tea from a beautiful ornamented teapot. Looking at it from a little closer, I noticed it must have been from India as well according to the art that was used on the pot. Starrick dismissed her, but before she left, I thanked her for the tea. She gave me a fond smile and left the room. I noticed she put a plate of cookies and sweets in the middle of the table, she must have done this while I was looking at the teapot. “If she were to be an Assassin, you would have already been dead.” Starrick suddenly cut in. I was startled. “What do you mean?” I asked him. He lifted his cup of tea to his lips and took a sip. “You were so focussed on the small details of that teapot that you didn’t notice Bonny putting a plate on the table. If we were somewhere else and our server would have been an assassin, he would have killed you.” He stated like it was just a regular remark. “I didn’t expect Bonny would hurt me.” I started. “That’s what your problem is miss Cross, you are too trusting. You’re a member of our order now, you can be sure they will try to harm us in any way possible. Even if it means killing us in broad daylight.” He continued. I knew he was right. If I didn’t know Henry, Evie or Jacob I would have been in danger. “I’ll be more cautious. I’m sorry.” I added. “No need to worry about Bonny though, she would never harm you. I’ve known her since I was young and her loyalty is proven. I’m not saying you should be distrustful of everyone but a little more cautious, especially in public. That’s the main reason why I told you not to drink so much at the evening of your initiation.” Starrick continued. “I see.” I stated and drifted away in thoughts. I knew he was right, I was too careless and this could cost me my head.
I was quiet for the rest of the conversation. I answered his questions, but no more than that. He makes me feel like an idiot all the time, but I didn’t dare to tell him that. We kept talking about the issues at hand with the Assassins and we actually found some solutions for them. I noticed the light coming in through the windows was getting more faint, which means it was already late in the afternoon. An idea was forming in my mind since he scolded me from being uncareful and I finally found the guts to ask him.
“Could someone train me in combat?” I blurted out. “Excuse me?” He asked me, looking up from his cup of tea he was now holding in his hand and next to his lips. “Yes, you told me I’m not safe anymore, I want to know how to defend myself.” I continued. He was looking at me intently and suddenly he smiled. “Alright, I will find someone to train you, if that would make you happy.” He told me. “Thank you Crawford, I appreciate it.” I smiled at him. Bonny came in and told us dinner was ready. We ended our business meeting and went off to the dining room. I looked outside to see the city of London and I could see a figure in the distance, looking at me but I could not distinguish who it is.