The team spent a week in a forgettable, out of the way apartment held under an alias, in a neighborhood where no one looks anyone in the eye or pays attention to where they go. Doyle was able to turn up a good amount of information through online research, and he was confident that he knew where some useful library collections might be, too.
The new Richard fit in quickly and well, and the common bond of having faced the supernatural brought the disparate personalities together.
One of the first questions settled was that related to the annotations, which came in three colors and appeared to be in three different scripts. After some textual analysis and viewing of the inks under different lights they determined, with considerable certainty, that the darkest ink was from the 1940s, while the green ink appeared to be from the late 1970s or early 1980s. Finally, the red ink – and all the numbers on each of the annotations – had to be post-9/11, due to its mention of a number of very current names, places, and issues.
Looking at the sections of their copy that did not appear in the mass-market version, they focused on one of several characters: Francis Aytown, a painter who supposedly painted portraits of others in the book, including some other missing characters. Some research turned up a real painter by that name, of some repute, who was active in London society from 1892-1897, and then seemingly disappeared. Noemi was able to track down some of his work at an auction house, as well.
Doyle, piqued by the idea of the book characters being real, suggested that they dig around to see if some of them were…and that’s when the figurative champagne bottle whacked Noemi upside the head…Tabitha Holmwood, Eurotrash party girl supreme. Could she be related? Search through the lists of peers and lineages revealed a direct connection to Arthur Holmwood of the book – her great-great grandfather. And further, a current Lord Godalming, of the House of Lords, the great grandnephew of Arthur. The next step – an estate, a city house, all inhabited. What else could be real?
Next stop: the Godalming estate. Doyle silenced alarms and put cameras on a loop while the other three entered the old mansion in search of…anything. After a few hours of creeping about the place, Richard found some kind of complete-with-shackles cell in the basement; Noemi found Arthur’s Bible and a crucifix, which she filched; and Ryan found one of Lucy Westenra’s dresses, which he…kept. Kept under the watchful eye of a fat, old house cat that seemed to watch everything he did in the attic.
- It seems that the characters in the book were real, and some of them have direct descendants alive.
- There are paintings from F. Aytown in existence, and possibly some of the photographs he used for them – whether there are any of Lucy Westenra or anyone else of note, remains to be seen
- Operation GLADIO seems to have been a CIA operation during the 1940s. More research, probably of the classified sort, is needed.
- Could Dr. Seward have been real, too, and if so was the asylum he ran real? Does it still exist?
Player secrets will follow NLT Sunday as I sort out my thoughts and do some research. If you get what seems like a second notification about this post, it’s because I’ve edited it – most likely by adding a Player Secret for someone. And Thom is out of the group for the foreseeable future – scheduling and family commitments. I’ll play Doyle as a mush-mouthed British lout who happens to be really good at hacking until he can return.