Into the Darkness
Skeldale Hall, North Yorkshire Moors, 1911
Millie took a deep breath and strode forward through the hall toward the dais.
The volume of noise faltered, turned into whisper, and then ceased altogether. Elegantly dressed Edwardian ladies and gentlemen stepped aside whilst maintaining an almost feral gaze. So much so that even as she remained outwardly calm, she was uncomfortably aware her heart rate was beating double-time as she approached the high table.
Stopping, Millie paused in the silence for a fraction of a second, curtsied to Lord and Lady Skeldale, then remained in position with head bowed.
Lord Skeldale’s unblinking green eyes measured the intruder and the silence stretched onward. Millie felt the full force of his mind… Intrigued, lustful, hungry, but always returning to wariness, and she reflected that three years ago she would not have realised a Vampyre’s mind connection was two-way, and that only her training as an investigator enabled her to control her weaker impulses, shutting out the intruder, and giving her a glimpse into his thoughts.
“Good evening Miss Millisandra Mayhew.” said Lord Skeldale, and, the niceties observed, Millie stood up to face him, her burgundy crinoline dress rustling in the silence.
Skeldale continued, “It is unusual to have such an august visit from The Department… Especially so late at night, when our powers are at their height. I am impressed your Master has allowed this… Or perhaps he does not yet know?”
Millie swallowed nervously, coughed, and then replied.
“Mr Churchill sends his respects, and asks that I inform you of his intentions. He has sent Edward Reynolds north to Ironopolis City to investigate the disappearance of The Doctor.”
If there were any living creature other than Millie in the room there would have been a sharp and audible collective intake of breath from all within. As there wasn’t, there was a low throated hissing snarl from the audience.
Skeldale’s features betrayed no emotion, but the knuckles of his right hand momentarily whitened… whitened further that is… and he leaned forward, automatically taking a more aggressive stance, and the electric lights throughout the hall flickered, dimmed and then slowly resumed their illumination.
Time passed. Millie had rarely felt so terrified, but she forced herself not to reach for the small pistol with the silver bullets in her clutch bag, knowing that if the Vampyres descended on her she would be ripped to shreds within seconds.
“Indeed?” Said Skeldale putting his long elegant hands together and gently tapping them against his pursed lips. “In that case we must do everything we can to speed the conclusion of his case. How can my brothers and sisters be of assistance?”
Another low hiss waxed around the room, and Skeldale held up his hand “No my friends. We are part of this ‘bright new world’… with all it’s life and technology… It’s ‘glorious Commonwealth’ with it’s new-tangled ideas and beliefs on ‘Democracy’, and if we must help it’s guardians ‘maintain the peace and protect the innocent’ then so be it” and with that he raised a crystal goblet of dark liquid to his lips.
Millie waited as the hisses abated and slowly turned to chuckles, then, without even the slightest hint of rising to the bait she said “Thank you my Lord. I need you to shake hands with the head of the Red Faction Werewolves.”
At which point Lord Skeldale of the Vampyre Clans spluttered his drink all over the floor.