“I don’t have much to give you by way of hints or clues, but I can give you what I gave your predecessor. I recovered them from him after the ‘Innsmouth’ incident.” Sylvanus said as they arrived back at the office. He rolled over to a curious looking painting on the wall that Aloysius hadn’t noticed the first time around. It depicted another queer looking family, which he thought could be related to the ones in the paintings in the basement. It depicted an older man with a crooked, pointy nose, and unkempt hair. He stood beside a woman whose eyes glowed pink and whose skin and hair were paler than death. Both were dressed in tattered fashions of their day, which Aloysius placed around the Victorian era. Aloysius stared at the ghastly woman wondering where he had seen her before. He thought it curious that she seemed so familiar to him, yet he couldn’t recall when he would’ve encountered such a being. On her lap, the woman held what looked like a toddler with a grotesque face similar to that of a goat and messy black hair. Aloysius shuttered and shied away from looking at it and instead turned his attention to the ancient tomes that lined the bookshelves.
Sylvanus then proceeded to pull the painting from the wall and it swung forward revealing a simple green safe. He quietly muttered the combination to himself . The safe squeaked as if it hadn’t been opened in ages. Sylvanus rummaged through a few things and began pulling items out one by one and placing them gently on his lap. Aloysius turned when he heard the safe door creak back into place.
Sylvanus wheeled his way over to where Al was standing. With a shaky hand, he picked up the first item and handed it over. It looked and felt like a very large, weighty and ornately designed silver skeleton key. “The Silver Key? I thought you still needed this?” Aloysius asked.
“It’s not a key, Cunningham. I suggest giving it another look”. The old man rotated the key in Aloysius hand until his fingers were wrapped around it in such a way that it looked as if he was holding a pistol. Aloysius thought it a strange thing for him to do, but it didn’t take long for him to realize that that was the proper way to hold it! It was a real, working, flintlock pistol! “Wow! This is an impressive piece! Although, I’m not sure I can carry it. I’m not licensed or anything. I could get jail time if anyone catches me with it!”
“Not to worry. That’s exactly why it was designed that way. It’s not a gun at first glance, is it?” Sylvanus said handing him a small velvet bag containing the necessary gun powder and bullets.
“Because carrying a concealed weapon is so much better!” Aloysius replied sarcastically. “What else do you have for me?” He slid the pistol and baggie into his satchel.
“Be especially careful with this one, Cunningham. It looks innocent enough but it packs a deadly punch!” The old man said as he carefully handed over what appeared to be a simple Kris knife with a bronze handle encased in a brown leather sheath. “This is an ancient athame, dipped in poisons, and enchanted with spells and charms directly out of the Necronomicon. It is to be used on magical creatures and others not of this realm. Great harm could befall a mortal who comes in contact with that blade. That’s real Damascus steel!
“Damascus steel, eh? That’s pretty serious business.” Al said examining the blade with its strangely hypnotic fluid pattern. He put it back in its sheath and carefully placed it with the key in his bag. Sylvanus then handed him a simple black box. “If you’re gonna ask me to marry you, Mr. Wade, I think I might have to turn you down.” he said with a snicker.
“Quiet, you fool! Just open the damn box! I’m trying to help you after all!” The old man snapped again.
“Alright, calm down.” Al said carefully sliding the cover off. Inside was a crystal ring almost ½ an inch wide and 3-inches in diameter. It looked so fragile and old that he was afraid to pick it up. He lifted it gently holding it with the silk cloth that lay beneath it. It glistened and emitted different paths of light throughout the room. Etched around the ring were arrows of different shapes and sizes.
“Before you make any more smart remarks, this is a compass, except it does not work in the traditional sense. This was among Lovecraft’s personal effects when he died. How we acquired it…is a rather long story.” Sylvanus explained. “It does not point north. It doesn’t react to magnetic poles at all. It was designed to be used in the Dream Realm. A place you will need to circumnavigate eventually in your journey. No matter where you are in the Other World, it will point you home. It is vital that you don’t lose this or else you may never return.”
“Well, that’s encouraging.” Aloysius said sarcastically carefully replacing the compass in the box and stowing the box in his bag. Sylvanus handed over the final item and Aloysius examined it all over. It was nothing more than a simple silver flask. It was just like the one he was offered in the artifact room but with the initials “B.R.W.” engraved on it. He looked at Sylvanus quizzically. “For…..potions, I’m guessing?” he asked.
“No! For whiskey, of course! I guarantee you’ll need it doing this job! You saw that thing downstairs. That is just a small fraction of the very real horrors you will encounter. Sometimes a nice swig of some liquid courage will help push you through that squeaky gate or down that long black corridor.”
“Oh! I didn’t think it would be that simple considering the other gifts you’ve given me.”
“And of course you still have the Necronomicon that Charlotte gave you, don’t you?”
“Good. That is, unfortunately, all I can supply you with.” Sylvanus said somberly. “It’s not much but, I have faith you can get the job done, Cunningham.”
“I will do my best, sir.”
“Work fast, Aloysius. Minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. We don’t have much time left. The fate of the world is in your hands.” Sylvanus reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a business card. If you need anything or are in trouble, call us. We will help you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Wade. I will keep you posted regarding my progress.” He offered his hand to the old man and the two men shook hands in agreement. Aloysius turned and opened the heavy door to leave, but the old man called him back.
“Just one more thing, Cunningham.”
“You will have Charlotte of course on your journeys.” The old man said with a sly grin. Al let out a groan and an threw an annoyed glance at Sylvanus. “She is quite skilled when it comes to studying Lovecraft. What she lacks in social graces, she makes up for in abundance with her knowledge of the Mythos. Give her another shot. You’ll see.” Aloysius sighed and rolled his eyes. Closing the door behind him he yelled back.
“I won’t be responsible if something horrible happens to her, Wade! It’s her own fault for tagging along.” He stomped down the many flights of stairs once again, although it seemed a shorter way down than it did up. When he reached the ground floor, he was back in the office again and the strange girl Lavinia was still sitting at the desk, gazing at nothing. He wondered if she had even moved since he went upstairs. Good manners prompted him to want to say ‘Goodbye’ to her, but he wasn’t sure if she had even noticed him at all. As he began to speak, Charlotte bounded around the corner squealing and nearly knocked him to the ground hugging him in excitement “Oh my goodness, Aloysius! I’m so excited that we get to work together!” Aloysius groaned and struggled to break free. He pried himself free as she babbled on and on about the mission. He brushed himself off, grabbed her by the shoulders, and looked her straight in the eyes.
“Charlotte. Listen to me. I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but we are working together for the mission. This means we’re not hanging out personally. We’re not best friends. We’re coworkers. Now, I’m going to give you my cell phone number.” Her eyes lit up the moment he uttered those last few words. “For emergencies…only! “
“Oh right, of course!! Let me give you mine too!!” She quickly grabbed a pen and piece of small paper off Lavinia’s desk, scribbled ferociously and handed it over to Al.
“Uhh…ok then! I’m going to leave. It was…nice to see you, but I have to be getting home.” Al said slowly making his way swiftly towards the main door, waiting for Charlotte to pounce again.
“OK, Al!! I can’t wait ‘til we can work together again!” She replied excitedly. Al smiled gloomily at her and began to open the main door.
“Goodbye, Aloysius.” He heard a small voice whisper. It was Lavinia, who was now looking directly at him across the room. He waved back at her.
“Goodbye, Lavinia! It was nice to meet you! Charlotte, we’ll be in touch….” He pushed the heavy door open and was surprised when he walked outside and was confronted by darkness. The alley lacked any form of artificial light whatsoever. He fumbled and pulled his phone out of his satchel. He couldn’t believe it was already 9 o’clock! How long had he been in that building? ‘What a curious building’ he thought. He was feeling tired and a little disoriented, so maybe all that time really did pass. He used the light from his phone to guide him back to the discreet door leading to the alley. He needed to go home and rest before embarking on the quest he was just charged with. He stepped through the door and out of the darkness. The wooden door closed behind him and he felt a second wind of energy overtake him. He began the short trek back to the train station and his mind raced. How would this journey affect him? Where should he even start? Is Charlotte really necessary to have around? He thought on these questions and more but failed to notice the hooded figure that had followed him out of the mysterious alley. The entity walked slow and kept a steady pace behind him.
There you have it, folks!It's not much, but hopefully enough to whet your appetite for the What do you think of Aloysius's items? DO you think they will aide him on his journey? I think my favorite of all the pieces is the key gun! I was inspired after perusing the interwebs and stumbled across a website full of pictures of the amazing pieces of weaponry! I knew Al had to have one considering where his adventures will be taking him! For a better visual of what the gun actually looks like, check out this awesome pic I found over at Gizmodo :).
Be sure to stay tuned for the next installment of The Lovecraft Paradox, coming in the next few weeks!! Til then, CTHULHU FHTAGN!!! ;)