Book One of the Cadwaller Chronicles
A story by
Copyright © 2016 by Kurt J. Gruber
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First Printing, 2016
For Jennifer, my real-life Penelope…
Dust filtered through the air, illuminated briefly by the dim light of a gas street lamp that lay outside the window. It was just after midnight and the house was silent. Silent as a tomb. A tomb full of the choice pickings of the over privileged. Sitting and collecting dust within the attic, forgotten and practically discarded. What was the harm in “liberating” a few select knickknacks from these pompous social leaders? Certainly they could be put to better use than their current position of attic dust collectors. Perhaps a quick stop to “Fingers” Renfry, an exchange of goods for an undisclosed number of pound notes. Then a bit of debt paid off. Perhaps a mid-shelf sherry and a new tweed coat. Most certainly a better use that these items were currently serving. And who would even be the wiser? He would be in and out before the dawn’s first light. Moving like a liquid shadow, procuring items of fiscal importance. Their absence never missed by their soon to be former owners and serving an altogether more noble cause. Providing an economic stimulus to the poor and needy; well, perhaps more to the shady and somewhat dishonest, but still a much needed economic stimulus just the same.
A figure clung to the side of the house, blending into the shadows and holding perfectly still. It was less that an arm’s length from the attic window and balanced precariously on a decorative ledge that stretched the length of the building. The night fog was thick and permeated the air with a moisture so profuse that it was like moving through a thick gazpacho; one that smelt slightly of the soot, grime, and sulphury perfumes of the city streets. Such is the life a professional pilferer. Not the most proper profession of a well-bred gentleman, but, still, one must make a living as one may.
The figure stood upright, wavered slightly, regained his balance, then began to clumsily rummage through his coat.
“Blast, where is it?” The figure continued to rifle though his long coat, swayed slightly again, then removed a small, rectangular blade on a handle. “Ah, here we are.”
The man began etching the glass of the window just above the window latch that held the frame locked from within. After a moment’s work, the man placed the glasscutter back into his coat and began to press on the window. A semi-circular piece of the window pane snapped loose from the window and fell to the floor of the attic with a shattering crash.
The man awkwardly ducked down on the ledge, clinging tightly to the building. After a moment of stillness, he slowly rose again, peering into the attic window. The house was still and quiet. The man took a breath and then slowly reached his arm onto the newly cut hole and fumbled for the window latch. A moment later, the window was opened and he climbed into the attic and stood in silence, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness.
“There we are,” the man said, then turned, slipped, and knocked against a small table that sat near the window. The table topped over and the vase that once sat atop it crashed to the floor, shattering itself and the silence of the night.
“Blast!” the man cursed and then quickly dove into the darkness flinging himself blindly to the ground and in doing so, sending the contents of his inner coat pockets scattering across the wooden attic floor. He held his breath and winced as each clink and clatter and thud echoed out into the darkness. Eventually the noise subsided as the momentum of the items slowed and the noise all but ceased, save for the undulating of a rolled canvas bag that continued slowly and clumsily toward the head of the attic stairs.
“No, no, no, no, no…” the man breathed, feebly reaching for his toolkit. Being several feet shorter than necessary, he was unable to stop the rolling of his canvas toolkit, but it stopped at the very top of the stairs, balanced precariously on its threshold. “Oh thank goodness.” The man exhaled and began to rise from the floor when the bag tipped forward, spilling its contents down the attic stairs with a rolling metallic cacophony.
The man lay upon the floor between the folds of a dress that hung from a wooden dressmaker’s mannequin. Finding himself between a series of fabrics above and dusty floorboards below, he pulled the hems of the dress over his head and held his breath, peering with earnest toward the attic stairs. After a time, the man began to breathe again and was about to rise when he noticed the flickering glow of lamplight as someone ascended the stairs into the attic.
Footsteps. The metallic rattling and clinking of his tools. Whomever was coming up the stairs was retrieving his tools. Dammit, he had taken those tools on credit and perhaps a bit of misplaced faith; Fingers was not going to be pleased.
The possessor of the lamp was now mounting the top of the stairs, and the distinct barrel of a riffle heralded the owner’s arrival.
“Blast.” The gentleman proceeded to pull hem of the dress over his head and curled up as tightly as he could.
It was the voice of a woman. Perhaps he would be able to overpower her. Surely he could outrun a petticoated damsel.
The room lit up. She must have ignited the wall lights. He tried to fit himself completely under the dressed mannequin. Two black polished women’s boots, covered with white gaiters, stopped directly in front of the man.
“I say, who is there? Please get your head out from underneath my dress.”
The woman used the tip of the rifle barrel to lift the mannequin’s dress, revealing the prostrate man to the gas light.
“Erm… Hello there.”
The woman stepped quickly back, leveling the tip of the rifle with the man’s face.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my house?”
“Two very good questions madam,” the man said as he awkwardly crawled from beneath the fabrics and rose clumsily to his feet. “I am Lord Shinwell Cadwaller, Esquire, at your service.”
“You’re a lawyer?”
“Is that what that means? I really had no idea, but it holds such a regal flair, don’t you think?”
“And I should very much doubt that you are any kind of proper Lord or a gentleman at that.”
“My dear lady, I take offence at such accu-”
“What are you doing in my attic in the middle of the night?”
“I can explain; you see I was-”
“What is that on the floor?” she asked, peering behind the man at the broken vase and window shards. “Did you come in through the window?”
“As I was saying,” Shinwell began.
“Is that my grandmum’s Vodrey vase scattered on the floor?”
“I do apologize madam; such damage was certainly not my intention.”
“Are you a burglar? Have you come to rob me?” she asked, pointing the hunting rifle once more at Shinwell’s chest.
“I am no common gutter snipe madam, I am a procurer of rare and expensive items. A liberator of antiquities and forgotten treasures. I am a-”
“You’re a thief. And by the looks of it, not a particularly good one.”
“Madam, I take offense at such accusations.”
“And lime green?”
“Excuse me madam?”
“You’re wearing a lime green frock coat to a robbery?”
“I was assured that the shade was myrtle, most certainly not lime. And why shouldn’t a gentleman dress app-”
“How ever did you get up here?” she asked, eyeing the open window.
“Um, I climbed?” Shinwell began to straighten his jacket and smooth his pants, prompting the woman to aim the rifle at the man’s face. Shinwell stopped sorting his clothes and inelegantly raised his hands. “Surely there has been a simple… misunderstanding? I shall simply relieve you of my tools – those small metal items you kindly gathered from the stairs – and I shall be on my way.”
“The hell you will,” she said, once again aiming the riffle at Shinwell’s chest. “What did you break in here for?”
“Well, in all honesty madam, I was under the impression that you and your husband were to be out of the city for the next week,” Shinwell began.
“My husband?” the lady began with a forced smile. “You are either extremely daft or misinformed. My husband has been missing and presumed dead for more than a month.”
“My most sincere condolences madam Elswherey. I-”
“Elswherey? Again, you are mistaken. I am Lady Penelope Pendleton. The Elswherey estate is more than a mile east of here.” Penelope began to circle Shinwell, investigating the damage to the vase and window, all the while she kept the tip of the gun pointed toward him.
“Are you certain?” asked Shinwell as he began to rummage through his coat pockets, eventually producing a map which he unfolded and began to study in the dim gas lights. “Blast…”
“So… Mister Cadwaller…”
“Please, call me Shinwell.”
“Mister Cadwaller,” Lady Pendleton began again, “you are a thief then?”
“As I stated earlier madam, I am a procurer of the hard to acquire and-”
“Mister Cadwaller, you are a thief and perhaps a fashion victim. Tell me why I should not immediately alert the authorities to your unlawful presence in my house?”
“Please my dear Lady Pendleton, let us not annoy the police over a simple misunderstanding. After all, I did believe that this was the Elswherey residence and I certainly had no intention of depriving you of any items or to cause any damage or disturbance to your good home madam.” Shinwell tired his best to give Penelope what he thought was a charming grin.
“Are you injured Mister Cadwaller? You’re grimacing…”
“No madam, I was simply-”
“Perhaps, Mister Cadwaller, there is something that you can do for me, to help amend and clear up this little, what did you call it… a misunderstanding?”
“Lady Pendleton, it would be my utmost pleasure…”
The early morning fog was ablaze with golden light as the sun crept slowly over the city skyline. Two lone figures populated the drawing room of the Pendleton estate, talking animatedly before a dying fire. One “Lord” Shinwell Cadwaller, a man of most average proportions donned in an offensive green frock coat and sporting a bushy mustache and unkempt chestnut hair, and one Lady Penelope Pendleton, a true lady in the most proper sense, of diminutive size, wearing a floral printed dress and a tight bun of flaxen hair atop her head.
Shinwell watched Lady Pendleton as she strode back and forth in front of the fire’s light, all the while holding a hunting rifle that she kept pointed in his general direction. Shinwell’s gaze traveled about her form as she spoke to him, coming to a lingering rest at her bosom. You know, Shinwell thought to himself, she’s not a half bad looking woman, if just a bit too excitable.
Lady Pendleton stopped pacing and turned fully toward Shinwell. “Mister Cadwaller,” she began, “do you mind, very much, looking at my face when I speak to you? My eyes are on my head and not on my chest.”
Shinwell snapped back into the moment. “Hm? Oh, sorry… I find the functions of the respiratory system to be utterly fascinating. After all, they say the health of a young f-”
“If you choose to refer to me as a filly, Mister Cadwaller, my finger may slip on this trigger,” Lady Pendleton said as she raised the barrel of the rifle.
Shinwell coughed slightly and then continued, “As I was saying, a healthy respiratory system of a young fräulein is extremely important to her overall health. Fräulein, it’s German you know…”
“Tell me Mister Cadwaller, for curiosity’s sake, being a thief doesn’t seem to be a very honorable position for a proper gentleman, how did you come about this profession?”
“Well Lady Pendleton, we are all born with certain innate talents that we excel at. It is fair to say that I did not consciously choose the life of larceny, rather it was fated for me at birth. And as it being an honorable position for a proper gentleman, it is the oldest practiced profession my lady, and I see no more conceivable honor than that, at least… from a certain point of view.”
“Hmm… I was under the impression that prostitution is generally regarded as the oldest profession.”
“Yes, well those of less fortunate socioeconomic status had to pay for such amenities somehow, so I believe that we can fairly assume they may very well have coexisted, thus making it one of the oldest professions.”
“I see Mister Cadwaller, that is a fair point, I suppose. And while I do so enjoy conversing the repugnant history of prostitution with an abnormal man that has broken into my house in the middle of the night, I feel that this time can be better spent. With that in mind, I have a simple offer for you Mister Cadwaller, one that may keep you from the inside of a prison.”
“You have my rapt attention my good lady. Please go on.”
“This proposition requires me to explain to you the nature and circumstances of the disappearance of my husband, so if I may…” Lady Pendleton stared into the fire for a moment before continuing. “My husband fancied himself a gentlemen archeologist, if you understand me Mister Cadwaller. He often referred to himself as an acquirer of arcane knowledge.”
“He sounds like an interesting chap…”
“He very much was,” she continued. “Well known and well respected throughout the educated circles of this city, and beyond. It was through his studies and many travels that we acquired much of the wealth this estate has – that is, to say, had.”
Lady Pendleton lowered the gun once more and her shoulders dropped with the suggestion of defeat as she began to pace again.
“His many travels eventually lead him into contact with the likes of a truly detestable man by the name of Jefferies Davis. This Mister Davis convinced my husband to squander away most of our fortune seeking out ridiculous and fanciful artifacts that never seemed to materialize. Because of this man, my husband lost his focus on true archaeology and became literally obsessed with the arcane occult. His reputation became such that the university stopped funding his excursions and he became a practical laughing stock; a running joke amongst his former colleagues. It was not long after this that Mister Davis convinced my husband to spend the last of our fortune on a dig in the Mideast. He returned from the Asias a month later with a relic, a small statue, that he was convinced would be of the utmost importance to archaeology, history, and mankind itself. He was convinced that this item would somehow solve our financial problems and bring with it a fame like none have seen before.”
Lady Pendleton laughed a bitter, mirthless laugh, sat the rifle against the wall edging the hearth and leaned weakly against the mantelpiece.
Shinwell sat slowly on the edge of a small divan that faced the fireplace and stared squarely at Lady Pendleton for a time before speaking. “My god… I’d wager you have spectacular ankles…”
“I’m sorry, what?” Lady Pendleton stood upright and turned towards Shinwell.
“Sorry, what?” he stammered.
“What did you just say?”
“Hm? Oh, I was just saying that recalling all of this must be very painful for you Penelope-”
“Yes, um, Lady Pendleton. Please, go on.”
Lady Pendleton picked the rifle back up and began to walk the length of the room once more.
“He was utterly enthralled with this statue, convinced it was some sort of key. He spent night and day in his reading room, acquiring new volumes of occult lore daily. It was not long until he was convinced, utterly convinced, that he had solved the riddle. It was then that he became severely paranoid and refused to see anyone, including Mister Davis. He became convinced that there were people who wished to steal this item from him and that there were those that would be willing to kill to acquire it.”
Shinwell sat earnestly on the edge of the divan, as Lady Pendleton paused to let the last few words sink into Shinwell’s mind. ‘Willing to kill,’ these words swirled through Shinwell’s mind, permeating its gray matter until a light of realization was struck. Shinwell looked up from his clasped hands and into the face of Lady Pendleton. Deep lines of exhaustion and worry furrowed her otherwise flawless façade. Shadows played within these creases and her eyes were steady and serious in the flickering light of the fire. She was somber and her words serious. All this talk of killing and insanity and she was serious, dead serious. Shinwell leaped to his feet, much faster than he intended, lost his balance and toppled sideways, knocking a side table over with him. He awkwardly, but quickly righted himself and tried his best to regain his composure before turning fully toward Lady Pendleton.
“Now see here Lady Pendleton,” he began with a hint of panic in his voice, “all this talk of killing is all very well and good for a penny dreadful or a play, but I draw the line at any involvement that may cause severe or permanent damage to my person.”
“Sit down Mister Cadwaller,” she said, once more leveling the rifle in his direction. “Sit and please let me continue,” she finished with an almost pleading hint to her tone.
Shinwell sat once more on the edge of the divan, hands pressed against his thighs.
“As I was saying, not long after that, my husband disappeared and so did the statue. Mister Davis tried, very poorly, to convince me that my husband was simply delusional due to overwork and stress and that the figure was simply a useless trinket most likely acquired from a market stall in Marrakesh. He informed me that my husband had left earlier that week, seeking an appointment with a collector and that he should return shortly. I was not to worry and to go about my womanly pursuits and to leave such worries to men.”
“Not the worst advice, considering the given circumstances…”
“My husband did not leave seeking an appointment. My husband disappeared in the middle of the night and packed nothing.”
“I see. Did you contact the authorities? What were the police’s observations in this matter?”
“For a time I was in contact with an inspector that shared my suspicions on the disappearance of my husband, but over time the authorities became convinced that my husband left to avoid debtors’ prison for the ‘crippling financial obligations’ we face. And, while I have seen Mister Davis around the city, he seems to be conveniently unavailable for any conversation.
“I am convinced that Mister Davis is solely responsible for the disappearance of my husband. I want you to find this statue and get it back. I would rather have it destroyed than remain in the hands of that sad excuse of a man.”
“I see Lady Pendleton. What can you tell me about this statue? Can you describe it for me?”
“Certainly Mister Cadwaller. It was maybe… a half meter in height. Made from a green stone very much like ivory. It had strange letters carved around its base and depicted a… well, a sitting bird with an unfortunate facial deformity.”
“A green stone bird?”
“Well, more precisely, a chicken.”
“You are convinced that your husband was killed so that some mysterious men could obtain a statue of a chicken? And you had troubles convincing the authorities to pursue your husband’s disappearance, then?”
“Please Mister Cadwaller,” she entreated, “you make this sound ridiculous and fanciful.”
“I’m sorry Lady Pendleton, it’s just… well, I’m sure you understand how this sounds on my end of this conversation? Would this Davis be likely to keep this chicken statue on his person, if he holds it with the regard that you have described?”
“I would be willing to stake that he carries it with him, yes.”
“And what of this man Davis? Would you consider him to be… a dangerous man?”
“I should leave such judgments to you Mister Cadwaller, though I find myself hard-pressed to refer to Mister Davis as any kind of man. Approaching him with some caution would not be ill-advised.”
“Duly noted. And what about the location of said Mister Davis?”
“When he was not stalking my husband or eyeing me lecherously, I am told that he had a habit of spending an unhealthy amount of time at the Tenebris Society.”
“The Tenebris Society?”
“Yes, a sort of… gentleman’s dinner club.”
“Well, as women are not allowed on the premises, I have not been able to speak to anyone there. I believe that that would be the best place for you to start as I hear that Mister Davis still frequents the establishment.”
“It doesn’t appear that you’re offering me much say in the matter,” said Shinwell, gesturing toward the rifle.
“Yes, well perhaps you should think better of it the next time you decide to pilfer a residence that is not your own; or at the very least, make sure that you are in the correct neighborhood.”
“I can hardly be held responsible for the failure of secondhand information and a pitiable excuse for a map from a second tier purveyor of questionable merchandises,” Shinwell replied with notable annoyance.
Lady Pendleton sniggered slightly, lowing the rifle somewhat while studying Shinwell’s face.
“Oh, my apologies Mister Cadwaller, but when you speak, you remind me ever so slightly of a walrus.”
“Yes, well…” Shinwell tired his best to smooth down his mustache and ran his fingers through his disheveled mane. “It has been a very trying night, and one that has lasted much longer than I had originally anticipated. Within your late husband’s effects, would he happen to have a tin of facial wax that I might borrow?”
“No Mister Cadwaller, my husband was properly groomed and did not feel the need to peacock or compensate with facial hair.”
“Well then…” replied Shinwell, unconsciously covering his mouth with his hand. “What is the point of all of this prattle Lady Pendleton?”
“The point,” she emphasized by raising the barrel of the riffle, “is simply this: I awoke this night to find you riffling through my attic belongings, intent on committing theft in my home, and, as I now hold you at a particular disadvantage,” again, she purposefully waved the gun’s barrel, “I offer you a simple proposition in lieu of notifying the authorities to your illicit activities. I want you to locate this Mister Davis and, if found, retrieve my husband’s statue.”
“My dear Lady Pendleton, wouldn’t this be better left to the police?”
“As I stated previously Mister Cadwaller, due to a… falling out with the local inspectors, I find it more prudent to use your abilities to retrieve this item rather than to waste anymore effort trying to convince the local authorities to investigate this matter further than they have.”
“In all honestly Lady Pendleton, while I would love to assist you with the predicament you currently find yourself in, it sounds as if you’d be better off with a detective rather than a procurer of-”
“That’s precisely what I’m asking of you, Mister Cadwaller, to procure an item that was illicitly removed from these premises. That sounds to me to be, how is it said, right up your alley? I will receive an item that was taken from me, and perhaps some closure involving my husband’s fate and whereabouts, and you will avoid any entanglement with the local magistrate – at least until you wander once more into the wrong neighborhood. That being said, this could be considered to be an amicable resolution to both of our problems Mister Cadwaller, from a certain point of view…”
Right up my alley? I’ll right up your alley my dear Lady Pendleton…” Shinwell mumbled to himself as he slowly made his way through the cobblestone streets toward the shipping district. After leaving Lady Pendleton’s estate, Shinwell had opted to stop quickly by his flat to retrieve some tools and items he felt would be advantageous to have about his person for the night’s coming excursion. It was now entering the later part of the afternoon, giving Shinwell a considerably later start than he would have found ideal. It had begun raining around noon that day and the downpour had only continued to increase since then.
The rain came down in thick blinding sheets. All it ever did was rain in this bloody town. Sunlight knew better than to linger for too long in this city for fear of catching syphilis or the clap. Still, the profuse rain would make his movements harder to detect and would undoubtedly mask much of his noise. All the better, for, though he was thoroughly soaked to the bone, he now found himself in his true element. He was a living shadow, moving without sound, all but invisible.
In light of the weather, Shinwell quickened his pace and rounded a corner, at once miss-stepping and tumbling to the rain slicked street.
“Blast…” Shinwell gracelessly righted himself, looked about to make sure that there were no witnesses to his fall, then moved once more into the shadows.
He was fast approaching the block that, according to Lady Pendleton, housed the Tenebris Society. He was nearer to Leith Docks than he’d ever been, and while the dim light and pouring rain made it hard for him to discern one direction from another, he had but to follow the increasing smell of salt and rotting fish to know he was still headed in the right direction.
In a short while Shinwell came to the end of a block that opened up to the dock front. Before him stood a dark and foreboding warehouse. Though it was hard to make out much detail in the falling darkness and the heavy rain, what little that could be discerned was utterly unimpressive.
The building itself was nothing more than a poorly whitewashed square structure with one single visible entrance and only a handful of small windows that could be seen on the upper floor. Barely visible in the downpour were the words “Tenebris Shipping” painted in washed-out letters upon the wall to the right of the entrance.
“This is not the most reputable neighborhood for a proper gentleman’s club…” Shinwell mumbled to himself. “If that’s a dinner club and not a warehouse, then I’m the prime minister. I think that dear Lady Pendleton may have played me for a fool.” He removed a scrap of now soaked paper from his inner coat pocket and tried his best to study it in the dim light. “This is the correct address,” Shinwell pocketed the scrap and pulled his coat tight. “Let’s get on with it. Onward and upward then.”
Shinwell surveyed the building once more. Street side, there was but a single entrance. A lone gas light tried it’s best to fight the closing darkness, hanging from a horizontal post that protruded directly above the front entrance. The entry itself was a set of poorly painted double doors that stood closed to the coming night. Standing sentry before the warehouse doors, unprotected from the torrent of falling rain, was a single unmoving figure.
From the safety of the shadows, Shinwell sized the figure up, gauging his options. The figure was easily seven feet tall, more likely than not it was male, and dressed in a dark wool sack coat, with a bowler hat perched upon his head.
“Well, the most direct approach isn’t always the best approach, but if I spend much more time waiting here in the rain, I’ll soon be swimming.”
Shinwell turned the collar of his coat up, pulled his own bowler hat lower over this brow, and proceeded to cross the street toward the warehouse.
He approached the dockworker, quickly sizing him up and deciding that, based on the man’s size, a tête-à-tête would be the best approach. The man was completely shaven and looked more like a roughhewn statue than a human. It was fairly safe to assume that conversation was not one of his stronger points. Shinwell put on the warmest smile he could muster under the current conditions and tried his best to sound cordial whilst shouting over the din of the rain.
“I say,” he began, “bloody awful night, eh?”
The dockworker replied with nothing more than a guttural rumble, still staring straight ahead, past Shinwell, and never blinking.
“Um… yes, well then. Would this lovely establishment happen to be the Tenebris Society gentlemen’s dinner club?”
“Shipping. No Dinner here.”
“Right then. Is there a Tenebris Society dinner club near here?”
“This is the only Tenebris.”
“I see. Well, I’m looking for a Mister Jefferies Davis. Would you happen to know his whereabouts?”
“Fantastic,” Shinwell said and began to skirt the monolith of a man toward the entrance.
“No entry without sponsorship.”
Of course. Why could nothing be simple? “Yes, of course. The very reason I am seeking Mister Davis. I am expected.”
“Not expected. Not now.”
“Um… do you have a list, or…? I’m sure if you just let me head inside, I could sort all of this out with Mister Davis and you can get back to… standing here.”
“No entry without sponsorship.”
“Yes, you mentioned that previously. Tell you what, I’ll just pop in and sort this all out and put in a good word for you. You’re doing a spot on job.”
“No entry without sponsorship.”
“I see the issue here. We’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. I do indeed have a sponsorship by our mutual friend Mister Davis. My name is Mister…” Shinwell faltered for a fraction of a second, tugging the brim of his hat. “Bowler.”
“Not Mister Bowler, you are Mister Cadwaller. You are not expected yet.”
Shinwell was caught off guard and looked the dockworker square in the face. “How do you know my name?”
“I know all. You are not expected now,” grumbled the dockworker slowly turning his head toward Shinwell, still unblinking and seemingly staring through him. “No entry without sponsorship.”
“Um, yes. Well. You are a wealth of information my friend.”
“Not friend. Golem.”
“Mister Golem? How very… apropos. Is it safe to assume that you are not going to allow me entry Mister Golem?”
“Go home Mister Cadwaller.”
“Yes, well… Thank you for your time Mister Golem. I shall now be on my way.”
“We will meet again soon Mister Cadwaller.”
These last words chilled Shinwell in a way he could not quite explain. Not a particularly impressive conversationalist, this Mister Golem; still, at least he had confirmed that Mister Davis was in the building.
Shinwell circled back the way that he had come and then traveled once more toward the dockside street a block farther down. From this vantage point he was no longer able to see the dockworker at the front door and, therefore, hoped that he could not be seen as well. As miserable as this evening was turning out to be, at least the unrelenting rain and the deepening night would provide concealment to his movement and the clamor of the rain would obscure any noises he may make while trying to gain entry into the warehouse.
Shinwell found himself on the eastern side of the Tenebris building where he found a larger shipping warehouse to his right and the Tenebris proper to his left. The warehouse to his right ended less than fifty yards up as the docks veered either east or northwest. This entire east side of the warehouse had no discernable windows or other possible points of entry. A lone bridge – little more than a gangplank with waist-high railings, ran off to the right and was eventually engulfed in darkness. To his left, the Tenebris building encroached closer toward the dock’s edge and looked to end about a yard farther down.
Shinwell edged his way toward the northeast corner of the warehouse, taking care not to slip from the dock to the undoubtedly frigid waters below. After rounding the corner, the spacing between the building and the dock increased once more to a more comfortable level. The back side of the warehouse was made up almost entirely of a pair of doors that looked large enough to accommodate a shipping vessel; the wooden boards that comprised the dock angled steeply into the water. Though the doors made up a majority of this side of the building, Shinwell spied some seaward facing windows on the second story that lay closer toward the corner of the warehouse. With a sigh of relief, Shinwell noticed that there were several haphazardly arranged wooden crates almost directly below this series of windows.
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Shinwell Cadwaller is an acquirer of rare and hard to obtain objects – it’s a shame that the owners of these items fail to see his talent. That has always been the case, and Shinwell’s preference, until a simple misread map, and perhaps the hand of fate stepped in. Shinwell now finds himself entwined in a conspiracy that threatens to unleash a darkness on the world like none that has been seen before. With the help of an astute and recently widowed lady of means, an inspector on the outs, and a supernatural companion of questionable loyalties, Shinwell will take the request to return a stolen statue and find himself thrust into a quest to save the world, or to at least survive the attempt.