Who’ll Stop the Rain?
Pietro pulled Cletus along, who was stumbling to keep up. More humanoid fishmen began emerging from the water closer and closer to them. Pietro darted to avoid them, losing his grip on Cletus. Cletus pulled out his crossbows and began firing his exploding vials at the approaching fishmen as he backed away. Pietro darted between them jabbing them with his daggers and kicking their legs out from under them. The fishmen began emerging from the floodwaters en masse and charging toward them. Bartolo appeared and charged past Cletus and Pietro barrelling through the fishmen front line, scattering them. The fishmen converged on him. He grabbed one by the leg and began bludgeoning the others with its body. As Bartolo swung his weaponized fishman, its harpoon was impaling others and adding them to the mass, whose harpoons in turn snagged more fishmen until Bartolo was swinging a flail made of fishmen. After clearing several of them, Bartolo grabbed Cletus and threw him over his shoulder.
“Head back, Pietro!” Bartolo yelled. “I’m right behind you.”
Bartolo launched his ball of fishmen at the advancing band and ran behind Pietro, who was clearing the path ahead. A group of squid people darted from the water and began wrapping them in their tentacles. One raised a limb holding a spear to impale Pietro. A blade of what appeared to be made of swirling mist twirled through the air and severed the tentacle. The blade spun through the group, cutting away the tentacles and piercing through the squidmen, freeing Bartolo, Pietro, and Cletus. They saw Ray hovering overhead directing the blade. The squidmen fell writhing into the water that had become a black stew of limbs and blood. A deep trumpet sound bellowed and an elephantine lobster launched from the water and flopped in front of them. Ray’s spinning blade clanked in vain against its carapace. Lobster snapped at Pietro who leapt onto its claw and ran up to its back. He flailed with his daggers to no effect.
“Get out of the water!” Abby cried from a nearby rooftop, holding a torch.
Bartolo climbed onto a wood post and balanced himself on one leg, still holding Cletus.
“C’mon, boy,” he shouted to Pietro and held out his free arm.
Pietro leapt to his arm. Abby launched a stream of fire from the torch at the water and it began to steam and simmer. The lobster emitted a piercing whine and started to lope back toward the river before collapsing.
“I wish I had some garlic and butter,” Bartolo laughed.
He jumped down from the post and skipped toward the tavern.
“Hot, hot, hot,” he panted as he went.
Once he got to the dry street he put Cletus down and Pietro alighted on the eaves of the tavern roof. Bartolo plopped to the ground and pulled off his boots.
“These are going to be tender for a bit.” He sat, airing his pink feet. “My new friends have many secrets, eh?” he said to Ray, who had descended next to him.
“They’re not secrets anymore,” Ray sighed.
“You look an angel to me, my friend.”
“Seraph. Raphael,” he said, helping Bart to his feet. “Call me Ray.”
“Raffaello? The archangel?”
“Seraph. It’s a story best left for the long boat ride we have ahead of us.”
“Sure, if you can get us out to my ship.”
“We need to take care of this fish invasion, first,” called down Abby, next to Pietro on the roof.
“You hide a lot of power in that little frame, girl.”
“Abby,” she said.
“Abby, is it?” Bart replied. “Since you’re finally introducing yourselves, who’s the little man?”
“Er, Cletus,” Cletus grumbled.
“Cletus,” Bart beat his chest. “Good, strong Roman name.”
“Cletus Wensleydale, alchemist.”
“That’s a mouthful, ‘Cletus Wensleydalealchemist’. I’ll just call you Cletus.”
Pietro jumped down from the roof and tugged at Cletus’s coat and mimed a dagger motion.
“Oh yes, of course.” Cletus pulled the dagger from his coat. “Look what Pietro found during his nocturnal larkings.”
Ray regarded the dagger with curiosity. “I’m not familiar with those markings.”
“Very dark magic,” Cletus said with grave intonation. “Relating to the ‘elder gods’ as they’re called. Dagon in particular.”
“Elder gods?” Ray looked skeptical. “Those are stories seraphim tell to scare each other.”
“Perhaps. I’m dubious myself. However, Dagon was said to lurk in the sea. And what do we have emerging from the river. I also find it curious that as soon as Pietro finds it, the weather clears.”
“Where did you find this, Corvo?” Bart asked.
Pietro began making a series of hand gestures.
“He says, he lifted it from a man who had just used it to murder another.”
“Perhaps the murders and the rain are connected?” Cletus said.
“We shouldn’t jump to false correlations,” Ray added.
“I agree, however there are a few correlations here. The murders, the rain and the sea people invading the flooded areas.”
“And they don’t seem to want to go any further than waist deep,” said Abby, scanning the surrounding area from the roof where she could see the fishmen bunching up at the edge of the flood water.
“So we wait for the flood waters to clear, they go back where they came from,” Bart offered.
A crack of thunder was heard and a spare few raindrops fell which grew into a drizzle.
“Or whoever, whatever is doing this has other ways to control the weather,” Ray said holding out his hand. “I’m going up to get a better view of the city. See where the flooding is the worst. Here, take these. I recovered them at Glastonbury.”
He handed Cletus two small communications devices.
“What are these?” Cletus asked.
“Communicators,” Ray replied, “Place them in your ear and we’ll be able to talk over long distances. Give the other to Abby. I’ll let you know if I see anything.”
A gust of wind tore through and lifted Ray off. He flitted about in the currents and disappeared into the low hanging clouds.
“What do we do in the meantime?” Bart asked.
“Pietro can scout the streets. Abby and I will see if we can come up with any counterspells to deal with the rain and look further into dealing with this Dagon,” Cletus said. “Bartolo, can you try and help anyone who might be getting caught out in the water?”
“Si, signore,” Bart clapped his chest. “Bartolo Conti is strong like the ox.”
“Yes, eh, well, everybody has their tasks then. Get to work.”
“Have you found your angel corpse yet?” Dugin called down the elevator shaft.
Martell was crouched in the rubble underneath the tor, examining the scorch marks in the debris.
“No,” he grumbled, “It looks as though they managed to find their way out.”
Martell scaled his way back up the shaft and he and Dugin returned the stone slab, concealing the entrance once again.
“What are you going to tell Benedict?” Dugin asked. “We could just kill a local and slap some wings on them. He’ll be too groggy to notice the difference.”
“The Demiurge would.”
“Fuck the Demiurge.”
Martell gave Dugin a hard glance.
“What?” Dugin asked. “I guarantee you the Demiurge isn’t some mystical entity. He’s flesh and blood like you or me. He just has better toys.”
“It’s not the Demiurge. I won’t be outmaneuvered by a weakened angel, a little girl and an old man.”
“Where do you think they went?”
“If they’re headed to Avignon, as Benedict fears, they’ll need a ship. That would take them to London, most likely.”
“Or Dover. They could be outmaneuvering you again.”
Martell stared hard at Dugin.
“I’m only saying, think about your strategies. I trained you well, boy. Don’t start cracking because you’re angry.”
“Either way,” Martell sighed, “They’re headed for Calais. Perhaps we can be there waiting.
Ray bobbed about in the ripples and eddies of the air currents, observing the activities below. He mostly saw people bailing out their homes and businesses, building bulwarks in the street against the rising flood. The rain was picking up.
“This could just be the weather,” he thought as the wind-whipped rain lashed at his face.
He continued his observation and saw a strange thing: several cloaked figures in a circle around a bound girl who was lying in the middle of chalk scrawlings that resembled the markings on the dagger. They were waving their arms and bobbing. He saw Pietro darting through the streets nearby and swooped down to meet him.
“Pietro,” he said, “Want to do some snooping?”
Pietro gave him a sharp nod.
“I thought you’d like that. Want to go for a ride?” he bent down and gestured to his back.
Pietro hopped on and wrapped his arms around Ray’s neck. Ray conjured a gust of wind that lifted them to an adjacent rooftop and they alighted behind a chimney stack.
“I’m going to keep those guys distracted,” Ray pointed to the cloaked group, “You see what you can find, okay?”
Pietro nodded and Ray lifted off. He landed with a thud in the middle of the circle of cloaked figures. He saw the bound victim was a girl, no older than twelve. The cloaked figures all held various nondescript daggers.
“Hello, folks,” Ray chirped. “Any of you know where I can find Dagon?”
Ray looked down to see the girl looking at him wild eyed.
“That looks uncomfortable,” he said, cutting her binds with a concentrated blade of air.
The cloaked figures pulled back their hoods. They were human, but possessed subtle aquatic features.
“I ran into some of your friends, earlier,” Ray said. “They weren’t very convivial.”
The group began to close ranks around Ray and the girl. Ray caught a glimpse of Pietro who was holding up an old, leather bound book covered in the now familiar glyphs. Ray nodded to him, cradled the girl and lifted off. He motioned to Pietro to return to the tavern.
“Where can I take you?” Ray asked the girl.
“Are you an angel?” she asked.
“Is that your name?”
“I’m a Seraph. My name is Raphael.”
“The angel Raphael?”
“My father is a doctor and he prays to you all the time to be a better doctor.”
“He should probably spend more time studying medicine.”
Cletus and Abby sat in their room at the tavern, surrounded by rolls of parchment and covered in ink. Both with one hand on their foreheads and the other scribbling.
“We’re getting nowhere,” Abby fretted. “None of this will work.”
“We’ve never had to counter elder god magick before,” Cletus replied.
“I never even knew elders gods existed before today.”
“Like any god, they are a powerful construct of the mind. An outward manifestation of hopes, fears, bliss, terror, joys, sorrows and so on. Or, as we’ve recently discovered, entities from other worlds.”
Abby scrunched her face and closed her eyes, her chin in her palm, her index finger tapping her nose, “There must be someway we can use that.”
“Other worldly entities?
“How do you mean?”
“Using them, manipulating them, maybe even drawing them into reality. Fending a person off by extracting their worst fears.”
“When did my granddaughter become diabolical?”
“Or placating them with their joy.”
“Don’t hold back on my account. We may need a bit of diabolical to tackle this problem.”
They sat for a moment meditating on their latest tack, when they were startled by a scuttling outside their window growing closer. Abby picked up a lamp and held it out toward that noise, her other hand ready. Cletus drew a crossbow. In through the window hopped Pietro hold his new found treasure out for them to see. They recognized the ideograms of Dagon.
“Brilliant boy,” Cletus lit up, taking the book. “You’ve done remarkably. You may nick anything you like from me, child,” he tossed his satchel to Pietro.
A man in priest’s frocks sat boring a grim hole in one of the cloaked figures with his stare. His eyes were large and bulging, the irises were black from being overtaken by the pupils. His fingers wiggled as if they were boneless and lacking rigidity. His fingers and palms were covered in what appeared to be rudimentary suction cups.
“First that idiot psychopath loses the dagger and now you lose the book?” he growled, “What a waste of gold you lot turned out to be. So hard to find good help.”
“And the sacrifice,” the cloaked figure peeped.
The priest grabbed his face and groaned.
“My apologies, Father. Forgive me.”
“Oh, can it. I hate groveling worse than incompetence. How did you lose the sacrifice?”
“An angel came and bore it off on the wind.”
“What? I told you lot, you can only indulge in the ergot on your off hours.”
“It wasn’t a hallucination, Father.”
“I spent enough time in the Catholic Church to know angels don’t exist.”
“It looked like an angel.”
“Fine,” the priest ran his hands down his face. “How did you lose the book?”
“It was gone after the angel left. We don’t know where it went.”
The priest rested his hands in his balled fists.
“Father Victor, sir,” another cloaked man croaked.
“I saw a small boy run off with the book.”
“So, you’re telling me you’re getting robbed by children?”
“Did you see where the child went?”
“I did, Father.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere. Go get the book back. And bring the child as a replacement sacrifice. The floods must continue or Dagon will have your asses.”