A Dark Mirror, Shattered

June 18, 2012

Not entirely sure what I want to do with this yet, but I’m enjoying the character.

I don’t know where to fit this in, but this is what our Dr. Richard Washington looks like.

He is a taller man, nearly six feet in height, and built broadly and strongly. He is in good shape, having studied wrestling, boxing, and fencing in college alongside his adoptive brothers. He dresses in an understated manner that was common of his father, pressed black or brown slacks and light-colored collared shirts of good cut with a rich colored vest over it. He is not frequently seen outside of his heavy brown coat, a gift from his father before he died when Richard was a child, and still carries a pocketwatch despite wrist watches being the current style. He has taken up the wearing of a fedora, like many fashionable men, and keeps his normally unruly hair pulled tightly back into a braid to ensure his hair is not mussed too badly by dry air or the humid environment under the hat. Due to his dark skin, many styles of jewelry look garish in his eyes when he wears them. The only adornment he has is a simple white gold wedding band on his left hand. His face is gentle and stern, clearly creased with his experience as a professor of anthropology, but his hazel eyes glint with a sense of adventure and intelligence.

So, here’s the beginning of Dr. Washington’s story…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The letter first arrived two weeks ago, at my office, and surprised my assistant with its quality. Parchment paper, a great expense even still, and sealed in a professional’s envelope. Complete with Dr. Westinhouse’s letterhead. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, at first, as I have encountered the doctor at a few University functions and he was less than professional due to my heritage. I lost little sleep over finding out the old man had died. However, given the opportunity to peruse the collection he had amassed was not something I could pass up, both as a doctor of anthropology and as a collector myself.

So I discussed it with my wife, especially the fee I might charge for this, and arranged a train out to Los Angeles. After notifying L’Reche, he sent back a package with three tomes from Westinhouse’s collection – the registry of his books, the registry of his artifacts, and his personal journal. I spent most of the trip going through his registry of artifacts and drafting letters to various universities and private collectors who may be interested in them. Knowing what I know now, though, I wish I would have read his journal first.

From Los Angeles, a cab took me and my luggage out to the mansion of the former Dr. Westinhouse. The house itself was situated overlooking the ocean on a hill of stone and mud reinforced with timbers cut a generation ago from the forests that used to sprawl over the hills of California. The mansion itself, as well, was several generations old. It was designed as an old manor house from the British countryside, built of four sprawling wings surrounding a garden and flanked on the outside by a man-made pond on one side (artfully spilling down the cliff face when it overflows) and on the other side of the mansion was a small orchard of avocado and apple trees. The building itself was built of redwood and adobe brick, designed as if the Spanish who built the mission-churches of California had stopped over along the hills to build this mansion before passing through. All in all, it was quite a beautiful home.

The cab dropped me in front of the house on the roundabout driveway. Before I stepped from the cab, the cabbie reached back and grabbed my arm. Learing from the darkness of the front seat, he sighed softly. “From one brother to another, my friend, be careful while you’re here. There’s a bad thing here, a dark thing here. Don’t be afraid to call the cab company and ask for Clyde, I’ll be up here as fast as the Good Lord can drive me.”

I looked at him quizzically and nodded. “Thank you…Clyde? I’ll remember that. Here’s twenty five for your trouble, my name’s Richard. Thank you for the lift, have a good night.”

I carefully extracted myself from his grip and pulled my luggage from the trunk of the cab, waved him off, and pulled the bellpull for the door. A few moments later, the door swung open violently to reveal a tall, stooped man. He was as pale as a full moon, splotched along his brow with brown liver spots, and dressed in a shabby black suit that once was regal, though slightly morbid. Where his frame was once lean and strong, now he looked as if he was but bones and blood with a suit of skin two sizes too small stretched over it all. His smile when he greeted me was tempered both with relief and madness, revealing a kind of hunger in his eyes that is only shared by those who wish to escape some awful imprisonment that has no clear exit. He shook my hand fitfully before brushing past me to grab my luggage and usher me into the foyer of the foreboding house. “Welcome, Mr. Washington. Dinner is to be served within the hour. Please, until then, make yourself at home. The study to your right is for you to use.”

He disappeared rather quickly with my belongings, rumbling upstairs with more strength and agility than I could have anticipated from his frame. Weary from the trip, I took the opportunity to utilize the study he had mentioned. Inside was a simple oak reading table with two reading lamps in the center, the bells of the lamps pointing outward so that two may sit at either end of the table to read. On a small refreshment table under the window sat a small set of decanters with what appeared to be liquors of various types. The walls, like any good study, were covered in books on practical matters such as history, world events, and philosophies and mathematics that are integral to a well-informed gentleman.

From the decanters I poured myself a few fingers of bourbon and sat in one of the leather chairs near the reading table. I relaxed into the chair with a sigh and examined a book sitting on the table, apparently the last read by the late doctor or his assistant. It was a simple brown leather volume, published perhaps twenty or thirty years ago, and it was titled, Practical Magicks And The Sciences of the Occult In Our Modern World.

“Rather odd title…” I mumbled to myself and flipped open the book to the cover page. It was a translation of a work by a German author, apparently, and bore two odd signature icons I had seen in a few places on the University grounds I had studied at (and continue to work at) – a pair of compass squares surrounding the letter G and, the other icon, a dagger with the tentacles of the octopus wrapped around hilt and blade.

Before I could look deeper into the mysteries of the book, however, the caretaker’s voice cut through the silence. “Doctor Washington! Please join me in the kitchen for dinner. We shall be having a simple roast, matched with scalloped potatoes and steamed vegetables of varied types.”

I left the book there and joined my host for dinner, then, and nearly forgot about the odd tome.

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