Treated bitterly earlier by the wet night, we were already planning our immediate return to the lair of our new-found enemy. We stepped over puddles of fresh rain to the place where we’d lost our friends, no plans in mind, just visions of flames.
The plan came out half baked but it didn’t matter, as we were about to move on our targets there came a noise from down the street. Brooks, Harolde, and Tobias stayed on the street to assess any possible threat while Bing and I continued to pursue our targets hoping that the noise would help cover our infiltration. By the time we’d cracked the lock the noise from down the street seemed to have situated itself in front of the building in to which we were breaking. As we loomed over the cellar door it was flung open by Sampson, the leader of the Dandies. We narrowly avoided being crushed by the immense iron doors and managed to get out of sight. Sampson milled about for a moment pretending to know we were near before he smelled the oil for the fire bomb operation. He ordered everyone out of the house and stood there. Alone with him Bing and I waited cloaked in the comfort of darkness. Then Bing motioned to me, we had to get going. Our plan was to enter the cellar, I signed for Bing to go first so I could cover him. It didn’t work and I barely put a bolt in the beasts back before I saw Bing snapped like a twig. It felt like leaving Abby behind all over again but there was nothing more I could do. Like a whisper on the wind I slipped our aggressor as his reinforcements were coming in to view and a moment later I was crouching in the attic window. It haunted me slightly, but soon the place would be ashes. The woman was still there, worse for our hours of absence. I didn’t care about her any more, free her, kill her, both thoughts came to me. I left her. Down the stairs I followed the smell of charred flesh and seeping entrails to Sampson’s study. Standing in the center of the room the sight I before me filled me with such rage the room was set ablaze; Malek dismembered and crucified but still alive. The powers of speech had left him but he provided me with what he could about Abby; sold, not to the Sera, not to the Cult, not to a brothel. Captured less than two hours ago and sold. The buyers must have been on stand-by. Sabrine? There wasn’t time, the building had become engulfed. I left Malek with a glimmer of pride in his eye and then back into the attic. It was more on fire than I remembered leaving it. I dashed to the window, my last dance with this portal of misery. And then a plea for help, the woman was awake and begging not to be left again. By the time her bonds were severed the attic window had become inaccessible from flame. I cursed her, this would be the second time tonight I use this woman as an excuse to get sloppy on the job. She barely had the strength to move herself so I dragged her through the burning building to the nearest accessible window and made my way to the inn across the street. I put her in a bed and called a doctor, I comforted her while she woke and watched the house that Sampson built burn while she slept. Twenty-five Dandies in the front and at least fifteen from the back. It was in this very inn that I had felt betrayed by Malek earlier today when he murdered our captive Dandy. The head count had been double what our prisoner had told us, so really Malek was just making sure we kept our promise to hunt him down if he lied.
The next morning woke to pounding on the door, the innkeeper. Fourty or more Dandies were out of a home and looking for beds and if I couldn’t pay the new rate of ten silvers it was time to go. I agreed to pay the doctor the last of my coin the night before despite his unscrupulous manner and I could already see Dandies in the hall outside. She was still unconscious so I left the window open for her upon my exit.
Everyone was home when I got there, Bing would recover from his wounds, news as good as could have been hoped for. In the nights after I dreamed of Scarlet, She told me of her father, of her people. She told me of Abby, that she was parented by demons who had been preparing her for the night of the harrowing, some kind of counter ritual. That they had become incensed when their plan failed and their prize, Abby, turned up missing. Scarlet told me that they alone would have bought up Abby so quickly, and speculated that perhaps Sabrine had arranged the deal. Then Scarlet told me what happens to souls when a mortal dies here. What was probably happening to Malek’s soul as we spoke. She asked me to retrieve one of his bones saying, there is no safe place for a soul but we could regrow Malek’s body and put his soul in it if we wanted someday down the line. So off I went to find one of Malek’s bones. Too many Dandies on the street to sift rubble but I was willing to bet one of them found or kept a trophy. A second story room seemed empty enough, only a woman in a bed, so I stepped inside. As my eyes adjusted I first glimpsed a charred skull. My mind reeled, who’s room was this? I turned to get a closer look at the woman, expecting to find Sabrine, my eyes focused on some lowborn wench. Then I heard a voice from a corner of the room, “You are a persistent bunch of little fuckers.” Sampson. My fears were confirmed when I turned and saw that I had carelessly stepped into the room of the man who snapped my friend like a twig only two days prior. He didn’t get up, he looked drunk, he poured me a glass and slid it across the room to me. Petrified I reached down and brought the glass to my lips. He asked me if I was stealing his trophy of Malek so I could give him a burial. I meekly lied to the affirmative. Good, Sampson said, he didn’t need it any more. And then Sampson began telling me about Malek’s torture, not to get under my skin, but indeed because he needed someone to talk to about it. He told me of Malek’s unwavering calm through the whole ordeal, that Malek’s eyes now haunt his dreams. He seemed genuinely disturbed by the indecent. I worked up the courage to ask him who he sold Abby to. He didn’t know. A strange couple showed up almost immediately and purchased her for a bag of diamonds and a boon. The boon, Sampson told me that I got to share a drink with him because we were responsible for setting in to motion the events that led to his boon. The demons who bought Abby from Sampson changed him in some way, he described the anguish of mortals as sustaining and empowering to him. I left. On my way out of the ally I spied the corpse of the woman I had tried to save heaped with the trash. Looking at the wretched thing, I decided that since my training as a Spectre that all my purchases would forever come with a money back guarantee. The Doctors address wasn’t hard to find, and neither was his coin.