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Blackguard

A Witching Hour Seance Tuesday night

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Albemarle House

There had been an argument between Duke and Duchess this evening.  He had, once again, declared his wife was foolish for her fascination with the spirit world.  He did not trust Count Forensi.  He doubted that he was even a nobleman.

Darlene Hamilton had been invited this evening.  Christopher Monck did not know whether to count the lady as an ally or an accomplice to his wife.  One thing was sure, she was easy on the eyes.  Both he and his young brother-in-law, Lord Ogle, shared an appreciation of admiring fine women.  The Duke was one satisfied to gaze at a beauty and let his imagination run wild whereas other men were more prone to action.  He had retired to his quarters upstairs to work on important documents, or so he said.  This left his wife downstairs in the library to be dabble with her magic.

Elizabeth Monck was dressed in a purple gown with ebony bodice.  A silver tiara adorned her head.  Silver chains wrapped her neck and wrists and a silver ring with a large bloodstone adorned her right hand.

Count Forensi was there, dressed in jet black attire with a white shirt and silver and sapphire cravat pin.  He too was wearing silver jewelry.  A pretty young woman accompanied him this evening, having been introduced as Jenny Rhodes, a London woman who seemed attuned to the spirit world.  She wore a more simple dress of crimson, silver jewelry peeking from her exosed flesh.

It was time for the final guest to arrive.

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There was a silence as they waited, as if there was a fear to disturb the spirits.  The air was heavy in anticipation, so heavy that the Count found himself dabbing his forehead repeatedly with his handkerchief.  He was perspiring profusely and his hand began to shake.  Not now, Forensi thought to himself.

"Madame," the Count muttered to the Duchess with a grimace.  "A dark spirit seeks to overtake me."  It was not the first time he had to excuse himself from her company.  His blood was turning hot and the familiar ringing in his ear warned that a transformation was at hand.  "A thousand pardons.  I need to go to the secure room in your cellar at once."

"Oh dear," Elizabeth lamented.  "Of course.  What will Darlene say?"

Fritz, an ever-present servant, moved with alacrity and a lit lantern.  The Count passed through the hidden door and was gone in but moments.  "Send word to Lady Oakham at once," Lady Monck ordered her nearby maid.  "Tell her the medium became ill and we must await the next proper intersection of planets for the next seance.  Now go.  With luck, we catch her in time!"

The maid dashed away and Elizabeth moved to the nearby table that contained the silver jewelry intended for Darlene.  With a wary look towards the hidden door, the young duchess slid another silver necklace around her neck.  One could not be too careful when evil spirits were on the prowl.  Jenny moved to join her, eyeing a number of silver items as well.  She reached for the silver tiara but paused as she looked to Elizabeth for permission.

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Darlene was feeling so much better after having seen her Charles, her spirits were quite uplifted, as she was truly looking forward to an excitingly and dramatic evening with her friend Elizabeth, tiaras and the Count Fiorenzi.

It had been a long time since she had seen The Count, whom she'd never quite made up her mind about, but if nothing else the man was fully theatre (a point in his favour!)

"I really must get a black cloak, oooh, or midnight blue." She chatted to her maid Maisie as she got ready, "my red cloak is the most lovely of course, but it is hardly the colour for skullduggery. Oh yes, I conceed, reaching out to the other side it's not really skullduggery... perhaps spiritduggery? Is that even a word? But either way red just doesn't quite seem right for it. Perhaps I'll wear a shawl instead, that black one I wore after Queen Catherine died - god bless her papist soul..."

Maisie was styling Darlene's hair in prepare for the promised Tiara. Darlene was sitting perfectly still, on account of wanting the finished look to be exceptional. 

"Goodness. It just occurred to me that Count Fiorenzi might accidentally commune with Catholics. Oh I hope not. You know I do take being Anglican very seriously, it's one of my finest attributes. I am probably one of the very best Anglicans at Whitehall. Really it's a pity that they don't have a competition - for I know I would win it."

It was hard sitting perfectly still, hopefully Maisie would be finished soon. 

...

The bad news of the evenings cancellation arrived just a few minutes later - the result being the young Lady bursting into tears! 

"It's not fair!" Darlene wailed, "I've been looking forward to this all day, how can I possibly going to go to sleep now. And I've been so brave not even worrying about accidentally becoming possessed. Don't you know that becoming possessed is probably even worse than being kidnapped by the French, or being set upon by villains at the docks, and much much worse than being put in the tower."

Yes perhaps there was a little bit of relief and those tears that Darlene shed. 

 

 

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The Duchess of Ablemarle shared the disappointment and nodded her head in sympathy.    "I know.  I know.  It is quite the effort to ready one's mind for the event."  She shed no tears for she was not an especially emotional creature, at least outwardly.

As a parting gift, Elizabeth gave Darlene a modest silver tiara.  It had no precious stones, but it was likely a fairly expensive piece if acquired from a silversmith.  "You keep this Darlene.  It may keep you safe in the interim."  She gave her friend a hug before escorting her back to her coach.

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