Underneath Greenwich, London, Adjacent to The Upper Tier of the Inner Cosmos, February 12-13 2015 CE

Once again I am underground. We are having an impromptu fashion parade as Bernard and Sir Pangolin try on clothes. I am writing what I can while I have time.

Earlier, back in the Cutty Sark pub, Priya had been as good as her word and had brought with her sheets of paper covering her research on the Ferguson Brothers. I should add that discovering more about the Ferguson Brother’s map was part of the task that General Emlet had set me but it served Esquin’s purpose to find the Sphere of Healing.

“Good news,” said Priya, “the original factory is now part of an out-of-town campus for the German owned parent company’s UK headquarters.” I nodded, although I had little idea of what that meant. “The factory is an industrial museum and an archive. They have records from multiple companies stored there as well as various artefacts and curiosities. The Ferguson family spent a lot of their money on collecting interesting things from around the world.”

“So the Sphere is there?” asked Esquin directly.

Priya avoided addressing him directly. “I think the object you are looking for might be there. The archive also contains the private papers of the Ferguson family. The last descendant owned the family home that lies on the same grounds as the factory. They died almost penniless. It’s all part of the same corporate campus now, the parent company bought out the house and all its content. If the thing you are looking for isn’t there, then the archive is still the best place for you to find out where it may have gone.”

“She is right,” I said to Esquin. Priya did her best to avoid looking at him. I think she could tell there was something off about him but that was probably his twitchy demeanour rather than any skill she might have at spotting demons. He’d been far more consistent in his manner back aboard the ship but the trip here was destabilising him.

“So we go to this ‘museum’ and see what we can find. How do we get there? A carriage?” he asked and I immediately interrupted and said “A train.”

“You can book online,” said Priya helpfully.

“Sort out a plan. I’m going for a piss,” with that Esquin stood up and stalked off to the toilet.

“What a rude man,” said Priya once he was out of ear shot.

“I’m so sorry to have dragged you into this Priya. I just didn’t know where to turn.” I should have thought more about her safety before contacting her but I wasn’t very good at planning.

“I have a present for you,” she said with a smile and reached into her bag. She slid a a thin cuboid object to me. “It’s a new phone.” I stared at it. It was quite different to the one I already had. Priya quickly showed me how to operate it. It had its own way of talking to the Internet, the infinite library that the people of this tier had seemingly made within a generation. She also had a special card for me which would work ‘just like money’. Within moments we could see train timetables and purchase tickets.

“You done?” Esquin had returned from his toilet break.

“I’ve bought four tickets that will get us to within walking distance of the museum,” I explained.

Esquin scowled. “Four tickets? There’s only two of us.”

“Sir Pangolin and Bernard need to come also,” I answered, “It will be quicker to search and I believe our way home may be within the old factory.”

Esquin reached over and grabbed me by my shirt, pulling me towards him. “No,” he stated then shoved me backwards so hard that I nearly fell off my chair.

“It needs to be all four of us,” I asserted as best as I can despite the unspoken violence in Esquin’s face.

“Understand,” growled Esquin, “I can possess whoever I want whenever I want and do without you altogether. Even you friend here.” He waved his hand toward Priya.

“It would do you no good if you did,” I said. I was trying to sound steadfast but I could hear my own desperation in my voice. “You will never find the sphere without my help. I can sense alchemical objects. You cannot and nobody you might possesses can.” I left unspoken that I doubted his actual capacity to possess anybody he likes. He had spent far too long as Esquin and the identity of the demon and the naval commander were now deeply entwined. Perhaps both the demon and the man it had stolen were both gone and replaced with a new person formed from both.

Silence filled the space between the three of us at the table, while the noises of the lunchtime pub crowd filled the space beyond. Priya looked on with horror at Esquin and I wished dearly that she was not there.

Esquin closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

“Agreed,” he said, “we will return underground to Bernard and the hostage and we will all go together to find the sphere.”

I nodded silently to Priya and she stood up rapidly. Esquin opened his eyes and fixed her with a stare.

“She is not part of this,” I said as sternly as I could manage. Esquin waved her away. She looked at me with concern and then left the pub as quickly as she could.

“We should go now,” I suggested and Esquin nodded as if he no longer had the energy for words.

The journey back underground required some stealth so that we would not draw attention in the daylight as we entered the drain. From there we made our way back down into the fabric of the Earth. Deeper and deeper until the echoes of other tiers began pulling on our minds.

Bernard was waiting for us with Sir Pangolin glowering at him. I assume each was planning violence against the other.

I should add, for those of you reading from above, that the phone reception is surprisingly good in the liminal space by the tides of the intersection between worlds. I took the opportunity to text Priya that we had safely departed Greenwich.

Finally, Bernard and Sir Pangolin tried on the clothes I had brought with me. Tomorrow, if it is not tomorrow already, we shall return to the upper world.


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