Nellie woke in her room feeling somber. After the gunfight at the headquarters of the Germans, she and the others had returned to The Scarlet Lord’s and she had excused herself to go to her room to be alone.
When she was a cub reporter for the Arkham Advertiser, she was assigned to cover a murder because she was the only reporter the editor could reach on a Sunday. A police detective answered her questions in the Arkham Police Department’s detective bureau office. Two suspects were in small, separate cells adjoining the detective bureau. Through the bars, one suspect looked extremely nervous and the other had fallen asleep on the metal cot. When she asked which of the men killed the railroad clerk, the grizzled detective had shifted his cigar in his mouth and asked, “Who do you think?”
“Him,” Nellie said. “He looks guilty.”
The detective shook his head. “Wouldn’t you be nervous if you be nervous if you knew you were a suspect in a murder investigation? What if I told you it was the other one?”
“He’s innocent as a lamb,” she said. “Look at him sleeping.”
“It’s him,” the detective said.
“He must be awfully cold hearted to sleep after killing someone,” Nellie said.
The detective shook his head. “The guilty almost always fall asleep while waiting to be questioned. It’s not because they’re cold hearted. It’s because they can’t escape their own thoughts about what they did any other way except than by going to sleep.”
Nellie recalled his words when she awoke. The first few times she had killed, she had cried afterwards as she thought upon the faces of the slain. It had been a long time since she had cried over killing someone, but she nearly always slept afterwards.
Nellie washed her face and brushed her hair. It was time to get back to work. She headed down the stairs and stopped. At a branch of two corridors, The Scarlet Lord was speaking to two of his vampires in an unknown tongue. The shadows caused by the torchlight accentuated the paleness of their gaunt faces. Lucy felt nervous. She had not been alone with them before. Either Omari or Grace or Lucy herself had escorted her through the halls. She was surprised to see The Scarlet Lord and frightened of him and his vampires. She thought of retreating to her room, but was worried the sound of her steps would draw their attention to her. The vampires looked up at her and smiled, their lips twisting into knowing leers. She held herself still, not wanting to show fear more out of concern that it would encourage their wickedness than out of pride they would think her frightened of them.
The Scarlet Lord spoke harshly to them and they returned their attention to him. The two departed past her in the hallway without a word and headed for the exterior door to the street.
The Scarlet Lord looked at her. She inhaled sharply as their eyes met. There was a familiarity to his eyes and a beauty to his face that made her blush.
“Do not be concerned about them,” he said to her. “They are under strict orders.”
“Thank you,” she said. “Wait, I thought you could not speak English. You had your priest Omari translating for you last night.”
The Scarlet Lord smiled. “An old trick more worthy of an Arabian Nights’ tale than one as beautiful as you,” he said. “I apologize for the deception. One sometimes hears the truth when others do not know you understand the words they mean only for each other. I would like to invite you to dinner. Lilitu has ordered us to find out Nyarlathotep’s location and the time of his plans, but she is out now and I can spare a moment for one as beautiful as you.”
Nelly blushed at his words, but said, “Thanks, but I have risked my blood enough for one day.”
The Scarlet Lord smiled at her and she once again saw how much his face resembled that of a lion with his broad nose and high cheek bones and dangerous eyes. “I am sated myself. I only intended to keep you company,” he said. “I would not mind finding out how you know Lilitu.”
“You mean Lucy,” Nellie said. “That’s twice you’ve referred to her by Lilith’s name.”
“That is her name,” The Scarlet Lord said.
Nellie looked quizzically at him then said, “I would love to take you up on your offer and have dinner with you,” she said. “Just let me dress appropriately.”
Outside the German headquarters, Dr. Paine reached for the door knob and hoped Wade had left it unlocked. The Doctor had already stopped by the alley where Wade had hidden earlier. If he wasn’t there, it meant Wade had already broken in, the Doctor reasoned. However, if Wade had locked the door behind him, the Doctor would have to wait outside because he did not have Nellie or Wade’s burglary skills.
However, as he reached for the door, Lucy grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“Shh!” she said before he could protest. Lucy cocked her head to the side and listened intently. “I hear a strange chanting upstairs. There is some foul magic afoot.”
“You have very good hearing,” the Doctor said.
As he spoke, two large wings spread from Lucy’s back. While Dr. Paine had seen Lucy change into a bat before months earlier in Iraq, he had never seen this transformation. Instinctively, he took hold of his pistol in his jacket pocket.
“I’m going to take a look in the window,” Lucy said. She flew upwards and peered inside briefly and ducked down.
“Wade is alive,” she said. “He is breathing but is very still. I suspect he is within a protective circle. Two other men are dying near him. Neither is moving. A fourth is chanting, but I only hear three heart beats. They are obscured by a black vaporous cloud. I suspect it is of diabolical origins.”
“What should we do?” the Doctor asked.
“We can’t do anything for Wade until the spell fades. I’ll look in the other windows to see if I can see whoever cast it,” she said. “Why don’t you check the street?”
“Could it be the police officer out front?” he asked.
“I doubt it,” Lucy said. She pulled out a pocket watch. “Let’s meet back here in 30 minutes.”
Dr. Paine looked at his watch and nodded. “Be careful,” he said.
“You, too, Doctor.”
Continue to Chapter 19