Theodore Alexius Victor Warner III was born on October 7th, 1853 - right along with the Crimean war (and the hypodermic needle for morphine injections, apparently it was believed that addiction would be prevented if the digestive system was bypassed) - in London, to one Mary-Victoria Eddman, the lover of Theodore Alexius Victor Warner II, a man of ill repute who probably worked in the service of the crown and who was rumoured to be in the Bosporus at the time (no one knows for sure what he was doing there, and he never came back to tell anyone).
When Theodore was three his mother moved to India (in the hope of finding her long lost lover) where Theodore grew up in abject poverty till the age of eight, when she died of typhoid fever. During these years with his mother he developed many important "street-wise" skills, and also discovered a unique gift he has for calculating "combination shots". He found that he is able to predict, calculate, and perform very complex manoeuvres in which one thing causes another - like hitting one marble so that it will hit another three marbles on its course and direct them to where he wants, or pocketing all pool balls in one shot, or throwing a rock on a mango tree so that a mango fruit will fall to a puddle and spray water into the eyes of a cow that will rush into a vegetable stand and knock everything over.
He also made friends with an officer in HM army, a young lieutenant by the name of Miller. Miller taught the young boy to fire a gun, to read, write, a little geography, and other useful things that every eight years old soldier of fortune should know. Little Theodore showed remarkable marksmanship from a very early age. A few months before Theodore's mother died, Miller got stationed somewhere in America. His last words to his little friend were "write me".
After his mother died, having nothing better to do, he hid as a stowaway on a ship heading for the new world to look for Miller, and instead arrived straight into the civil war. Theodore started running small errands for the Confederate army for food. He got better at that very quickly and his errands became more and more important. Considering all Americans traitors he had no moral qualms about selling secrets to the Union army, and ending up as the youngest double agent in the Americas.
At the age of eleven and a half Theodore watched Lincoln get shot. Following this Theodore finally followed through with the obvious conclusion - that Americans are stupid and that America is a stupid place to hang around in - and left for Austria; where subsequently a war broke out with Prussia. Again Theodore got to hone his skills. From there he travelled to Japan, South Africa, Russia, Italy, France, Germany, China, and all sorts of places.
Theodore had many adventures, and acquired many handy skills for being a soldier of fortune. Only one principle did he hold dear - undying loyalty to the crown. All through his life he wanted to become a servant of the British Empire like he believed his father to be. At the age of 29, when he achieved some very impressive skills and some undeniable repute, he finally started taking some direct measures to achieve this end. He started looking for patrons who were associated with the crown, slowly moving up the ladder, and finally - at the age of 34 - he meets Sir John Parnell, a sub secretary in HM government, in Prague, and Sir John takes him under his wing.
After about a year of working for Sir John, feeling closer and closer to directly serving the crown, the game begins. After every session he will try to write a letter to his good friend Miller - as he has been doing for many years.
Letters to Miller
October 1st, 1888.
London. East India Docks.
As I wrote in my previous letter, I had a meeting with Sir John. He had put it upon me to rid the world of one Robert Barrett, a "seditious fly in the empire's ointment", to put it in Sir John's words. As things turned out, I would call him a harmless loony, but I suppose Sir John knows more about such things than yours truly.
Either way, I did some surveillance and found that said Barrett has a filthy habit of printing loony leaflets in a printing dungeon which he seemed to share with several other rats, not all of the tail-bearing type. Two nights ago I let myself in, and seeing how Barrett was sorely missing - have taken the liberty of waiting his arrival concealed behind a cabinet. Mr. Barrett must have been out drinking again, for when he came back and tried to operate the press, a most unfortunate accident found him.
Having successfully united Mr. Barrett with his work I took some time to examine it. The feeling that he is no more than a loony grew stronger when I found it was mostly dealing with claiming that there is not only a worthier contender to the throne then HM Victoria, but that there are several hundreds of those. But I hardly had time to view the late Mr. Barrett's lunacy as I was interrupted by a knock on the door. I swiftly hid myself behind the cabinet as the knocking repeated itself, and was then followed by a young, dubious looking, and obviously keen eyed chap.
So keen eyed was he that he spotted me behind the cabinet and beckoned me out. I did the only gentlemanly thing to do and came to face him with my pistol aimed at his heart. To my great dismay the weapon did not achieve the desired effect as the intruder smiled calmly and started loudly demanding hush money. I offered him his life instead, but he did not seem much attached to those, so I took him out for a drink instead. In a matter of minutes I have established that he is no one of import, and will surely not be considered highly credible were he foolish enough to approach the police with what he knows. However, I decided to stay with him a little longer so that will be seen together by many people around the crime scene, and so that he will be even less eager to tell tales that no one is going to believe anyway.
Sometime during our second pint we were miraculously and unexplainably joined by a scholarly type, an Egyptologist of an unclear nature. Sometime during our third pint Mr. Zachary's (for that turned out to be his name - Doyle Zachary) tongue started losing up, and he came to tell me of his business with the late Mr. Barrett. Apparently, the poor half mad Mr. Barrett has decided that Mr. Zachary - an otherwise wholly common smuggler - should in fact be referred to as King Doyle I. Before I had the chance to point out the futility or the danger of such ludicrous talk, the scholarly type (clearly a man of some indecorum) suggested to help and investigate this issue further the next morning - at the British Museum.
I bid the two gentlemen goodnight and went away to report to Sir John and hoping to never meet with them again. Surprisingly enough Sir John recommended that I investigate this further and join them at Bloomsbury the next morning. At the time I recall thinking that Sir John is a bit on the paranoid side, seeing seditious elements everywhere; and indeed, the closest thing the records showed was a manservant by the name of Zachary at the service of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Just in case, I kept an eye on the couple; and indeed, soon enough, they went together to a public house, and started discussing some fairly illegal business. It seems that some ancient Egyptian artefact is to be smuggled out of the island, and the scholar tried persuading "HM" to use his connections and to help him stop that smuggling. Mr. Zachary noted that some monetary resources will be required, and I - being over swept as ever with patriotism - revealed myself and offered my help. This quickly convinced Mr. Zachary and soon enough we were on our way to an old floating heap of junk pertaining to one Irish gentleman whose name currently eludes me, that is intended to carry the artifact to the continent.
The Irish scum and his crew were apprehensive at first - a fact which may be attributed to the poor aim of our firs shots, but after disposing of two of them and dropping several hundred pounds of fish on the captain they came around. The Bogtrotter agreed to play along for the outrageous sum of fifty quid, out of which ten were given to him by me in advance. According to the Egyptologist the artefact is worth many times over that sum. In the worst case I shall be forced to take my tenner back from a cooling Irish corpse. Doesn't sound that bad.
I made them clean the fish and brains from the fucking deck (I even said "pretty please, with sugar on top"), and now I am here - in the belly of this so called "ship", awaiting the arrival of the artefact and using the few remaining minutes to write to you. I think I hear the carriage now.
Theodore Alexius Victor Warner III.
October 3rd, 1888.
Gravesend. The White Sow lodge.
As you may note, this letter is not written with my usual pen. Former pen would be more accurate. Good loyal friend it was, till the very end. I shall miss it sorely. But my old trusty fountain pen was not the only sacrifice demanded of me last night. My pants were scorched and burned, my best jacket was torn and soiled, and one of my chiffon shirts was sooted beyond use even as an oven cleaning rag. But above all, the true loss that I have suffered that night, one of veritable gargantuan proportions, is that of a cufflink. You are a gentleman, Miller, so I shall not burden you with explanations as to the place a good cufflink has in a gentleman's heart. Explanations that were perhaps in order when these two oafs I apparently joined forces with hung their lamb like eyes at my indecent swearing when I first discovered this loss... But first thing first.
The carriage arrived, and unpacked into the belly of the "Osprey" - for that was the name of the vessel in which we were entombed - three large crates, sized and shaped to contain corpses, and a crew made up of two Krauts, a Camel Jockey, a Chink, a woman, and two men. We took off our jackets and pretended to be sailors; with somewhat partial success. Well, at least I had the chance to use that splendid collapsible pocket coat hanger you once gave me. There's always a silver lining I suppose.
Twenty minutes or so after taking sail I made my way to the storage room, to have a look at the "treasure". Strangely enough I found Mr. Zachary had the very same idea at the same time. I tried to turn the handle of the door, but found that something blocked it. It seems that Neave (the scholarly type) had the same idea too, only without the restraint that is mark of a true gentleman. In short, he got there before us. He was, however, kind enough to open the large steel door and grant us entrance. It was rather dark inside, but as I lit my pipe I noticed that Neave has been hard at work prying the crates open with a crowbar he somehow procured. I helped him, and it's a good thing I did, for within the crate was a sarcophagus, and within that another scholarly type in his undergarments. And what do you know; it seems that the under-garbed gentleman is an old friend of Neave recently vanished from his apartment. Quite the coincidence.
One of the other crates contained the under-garbed spouse of Neave's friend, while the third contained a mummified corpse holding a box. Neave said something about the box containing the treasure, so Zachary hurried to open it. He got a strange expression on his face, but when I looked within all I found was
nanotechnology a bunch of papyruses. I fear that Neave turns out to be quite the hustler, but I took the case; just in case. Either way, the couple were somewhat sedated (Neave said it's the leaves found in the sarcophagus, I took a few, just in case he is telling the truth this time), and spoke of nothing save their child. I did remember hearing the cry of an infant from the captain's cabin a bit earlier, so we went to check that out. To our great dismay, we quickly found that while we spent our time in idle chatter the door has been bolted from outside.
I immediately started to work on the door with the crowbar, and would probably have us out within a couple of days, but one of the Krauts (who was probably lurking just behind it the whole time) chose this moment to address us in words. He did not seem to believe we are sailors, and tried to downgrade the value of the treasure we may or may not have. However, he did not seem eager to kill us (nor too keen on opening the door lest we have barkers - which I did), and said he will set us free once they reach their destination. Attempting some idle threats I tried to insinuate something regarding the possession of explosives on our persons, and while he did not seem to fall for my bluff, it did give me an idea.
Hurriedly we made a makeshift explosive charge using the hull of my favorite fountain and some black powder. This I set contrary to the hinges, with the open flame of a lantern below. We all took cover behind the crates and waited. The charge went off just as the Kraut was getting suspicious. I'd give my other cufflink to see his face at the moment of explosion, when the door left its hinges and hung lopsided on the bolt. They tried to shoot us, but too much of the door was in their way; on the other hand, pushing past it with that Kraut and his pistol waiting round it was out of the question, so I shot a lantern that hung a yard or so from the threshold thus spraying it with burning oil. The Kraut immediately retreated behind the corner - loosing eyesight of the room - and proceeded to try and extinguish the flames with the aid of a mop. I hurled myself through the door under the bolt, grabbed the mop, and provided Herr Mopster with a whole new facial configuration.
As I learned later, while I hurried to get back my jacket, Zachary ascended the staircase, plugging the second Kraut, and getting a hole in his chest at the process; and Neave extracted his friends from the now rather hot storage room. I, being unaware of all this and thinking of nothing but getting the treasure and myself to their respective rightful places, made my way to the helm so I can turn us towards the shore. On my way I noticed the bogtrotting captain's cooling corpse - apparently Zachary dispatched of him on his way up - so I stopped to take my tenner back. I got to the helm cabin to find Zachary lying wounded on the floor.
My arrival has attracted some uncalled for attention, as the helm's cabin was lit, and the deck was not, and someone in the dark was taking shots at me. I ducked under the helm, and with my cane brought the lantern that lit the cabin, and threw it at the general direction of the shots. Just in time, too, as Neave got on deck with the shotgun he took from the captain's corpse, and dispatched of the two shooters on the deck. Neave then proceeded to get hit with an oar and pummel a sailor into pulp in some ancient scholarly form of retribution, and into the cabin entered the Morlands (Arthur and Penelope, his scholarly friends) who were seeming anxious to find a fourth hand for whist. I let them cower in the galley while I treated Zachary's sucking chest wound, drilled another hole in his chest to drain the fluids, and gave him some opium.
Suddenly another crew member broke in through the window, grabbed Prof. Morland, and pointed his gun at Zachary and myself while using the professor as a human shield. I shot him in the face and he withdrew. And then we beached. It seems that the woman took the baby and left, maybe with other crew members (possible the slanted one and the Arab). Either way, we got to Gravesend - the closest town - where I acquired a new wardrobe and pen (no decent cufflinks here so I settled for a silly shirt that requires none), telegraphed Sir John to inform him of everything, and here I am writing to you.
Hope all is well in the frontier,
Theodore Alexius Victor Warner III.
October 5th, 1888.
London. St. Katherine's Dock.
After spending a day mucking about in Gravesend (Sir John was very clear when instructing me not to let the two oddities out of my sight) where the local law enforcement was almost as oblivious as one would expect, we returned to London, where I procured myself a decent pen and cufflinks. Feeling thus rejuvenated, I went to play croquet with Sir John. It appears that his contacts were able to identify some of the bodies on board the Osprey, and more importantly - according to my description - pinpoint the woman. She too is from Irish descendant - A Miss Helen Kelly, but poses as continental nobility - Countess Yelena Petrovina. He also had an address were she apparently stayed a few months ago.
Naturally I went to sniff around the place. Even at first glance it was obvious that she has left it some time ago, but I did not relent and continued to analyze all possible findings. There has been some cat hair on the upholstery. Looking outside I found a bowel on the window ledge, and after a while - a cat with a collar. I took the collar for further examination. I also found a secret compartment in the bureau containing a block of papers. The topmost paper still had etchings on it from a previously written message. It consisted solely of numbers, obviously some kind of code, but I was unable to break it; so I returned to Zachary's room.
Zachary has just finished taking care of his business, which I suspect means a petty arms deal, and Neave was in the room with him. I shared my findings with them, and one of them, I forget which one, voiced the dull-witted idea of searching WITHIN the cat's collar for some info. Dull-witted ideas are often useful when dealing with dull-witted villains, so I looked. It seems that the fraudulent countess was dull enough to actually hide the encryption key within her cat's collar, and to leave it behind. I am sometimes sorry for not being able to think down to the level of some of those rogues; but I suppose that's what I have accomplices for. Zachary mumbled something about hiding a galaxy within the cat's collar, but that was a tad too dull to even try.
One way or another, I decoded the message. It contained an address, and the three of us went there - hole in lungs and all. It turned out to be a music hall crowded with people and we went inside, looking for… Anything. I scouted the second floor, but found nothing of importance. The boys, however, found something on the first floor, amongst the crowd. It was none other than professor Morland, drinking wine and looking around him unnerved. Neave approached him, and found that he has received a letter demanding his attendance in tonight's dance if he wishes to see his son again. Being - as I noted before - thoroughly obsessed with seeing his son again, he came. He also asked that we keep our distance, so as not to arose suspicion. I did not have to be told that.
Morland was then bumped by two goons, and Zachary noticed that they slipped something into his pocket. Very observant, this Zachary. A regular Holmes. Morland read the note, and quickly made his way upstairs. I intercepted him, and whispered to him to drop the note - which he did. I read it. It said that he should go upstairs. We all decided to follow.
At the bottom of the staircase, I was approached by one of the goons who insinuated that I should refrain from ascending it. Those were not his exact words. Indeed, one finds it hard to believe that a man so smelling of bad liquor can find the clarity of thought to sequence all those elaborate verbs as he did, but I shall save you his profanities. I quickly apologized, and clouted him to his adam's apple. The blow did not land well, and his colleague moved in to hit me in the face in a most ungentlemanly manner, dropping me to the floor, and proceeding to kick me. He was fortunately disturbed by the kind Professor Neave, who did his best to poke his eyes out with the stem of his pipe. The things that people will put in their mouths this day and age… Only a person who saw Neave pummelling his adversary on the boat as I did might refrain from seeing this method of attack as a tad girl-like; but there you have it, don't you?
Like the phoenix from his ashes I rose, thanks to the pause Neave bought me, and straightened my clothes, awaiting for the next blow. It did not tarry long, and the first goon recovered completely from my attack on him, and tried to tackle me to the floor. I, on the other hand, moved like a dancer so as to grant him a proper resting place at my feet. As graceful as I was, he somehow managed to drop me, and to send another couple of kicks into my ribs. From the corner of my eye I noted that Zachary, hole in chest and all, used the distraction to start climbing the stairs. Not wanting to abandon him I rose again, and not wishing to alarm him needlessly I straightened my jacket and even refolded my handkerchief, being ready for whatever blow they attempt to land on me next. Neave carried on with his poking, annoying the dickens out of one of the goons, while the other - mumbling something about my relentlessness - picked up a perfectly good solid oak chair and smashed it into my side.
Words will not express the pain I felt as I heard that familiar cracking sound and felt that sticky wetness spreading quickly on my shirt. The blow smashed to pieces my new fountain pen. Satisfied that I will rise no more, both goons turned to rid themselves of Neave. Feeling sure that the stem of his pipe will not suffice to fend off two grown men, Neave attempted to pull of a piece of the banister and utilize it as a fearsome weapon of sorts. The banister had some reservations regarding this, and eventually it felt that it was pulled into a corner and concluded to turn against the professor and to hit him sharply on the snout. The goons were most impressed with this stunt, but not quite as impressed as they were when I called their attention, straightened my ink stained clothes, and pounded them unconscious. The way up was clear, and Zachary has almost made it all the way up - breathing like the other end of a previously constipated horse.
Upstairs we heard the end of a conversation between Morland and a strange, somewhat accented, male voice. We barged in and just managed to see a silhouette sliding out on the roof. It was the slanted chap we saw on the Osprey, and he was wearing cowboy boots. He made his way quickly down and into a carriage that awaited him. Giving chase was futile, so we settled for interrogating Morland. He said that they said he must not continue his dig in Egypt, and that he must not tell anyone of that place if he wishes his son to live. He was very much shaken by the whole affair, and apparently wished for his son to live, so he was not very cooperative. We discussed this some more, and Zachary and Neave decided that they will go to Egypt, dig in a tomb, find the location of another tomb, and find a big treasure there. I have my doubts, but Sir John insisted that it is a matter of great import. I'm losing faith in him. It's a known fact that all bogtrotters are at least slightly mad.
Either way, here I am. In St. Katherine's Dock, with three brand new fountain pens, writing you this letter, and sailing to Egypt in an hour. I hope to be able to write to you from the way, but God knows how long that will take. Keep up the good work, at whatever it is you are currently doing.
God Save the Queen,
Theodore Alexius Victor Warner III.
November 9th, 1888.
The Cross of Cairo monastery. Egypt.
It was a long and eventless journey. We stopped at Lisbon for a short while, then we had to change ships at Port Said, and finally we arrived at Cairo. From there we proceeded to a small nameless village (by the name of Mit Rahina) where we hired some mules, tools, and porters, and headed to the ancient city of the dead - Sakkara - where, as Neave explained, a prince by the name of Setna might have left instructions leading to the place where he hid the book of Nefrekeptah (also a prince, though the Devil only knows - along with Neave - who and what he really was), which in turn is a facsimile of the book of Thoth (who is in all probability the Devil himself), and is of great value. Neave probably sees some archaeological value to the book, and Zachary sees obviously sees monetary value; but I am interested to know what Sir John's interest in all this is. Some things he said made me think it was more then just an imperial treasure to be regained, and the fact that he has sent me thousands of miles, and apparently several centuries, to this forgotten sinkhole in order to keep an eye on it seem to point at the same conclusion.
During the first night we made camp a few miles away from the dig. We found the most extraordinary spot for the night, and stood guard. When my turn arrived, I noted another camp not very far from us. I went to do some surveillance, and found nothing of interest other than a crate of dynamite. These people are probably not simple archaeologists, but I am sure that all that will clear up in good time. I waited till the eye of Ra (that's the local poetic term for the sun) begun to show over the horizon and then I woke up the entire party and we went to find the tomb. Zachary mumbled something about playing with a cat during his shift at night. I fear for his mental hygiene. It is possible that his psyche caught some strange infection due to his sucking chest wound.
Eventually we arrived at the tomb. Neave took some pictures and explained the scenery. We went through a Sarapeum, which is where the ancient camel-jockeys used to sacrifice bulls to the god Ptah, who would apparently delight in such. The room contained a gigantic box in which said sacrifices were buried. From there we arrived at another room, and Zachary started fooling around with the walls - must have noticed an irregularity in the masonry, as he sometimes does - and indeed discovered a secret door. Neave said that Morland was there before us, and that in fact, this was where the sarcophagus in which he and his wife were entombed came from.
As interesting as Neave's explanations were, I was more interested in Zachary who rushed out into the hall as if he heard something. I have learned to trust his senses, so I quietly followed him, and indeed - someone has been stalking us. We quickly overpowered the young Arab who claimed to be nothing more than a curious monk with no mal intent. After some mild torture he was found to be telling the truth, at which point we flattered his primitive mind a bit to gain his friendship. The little Neanderthal forgot all about the torture and led us to the close by monastery, where we spent the night.
Zachary had a strange dream during the night, and he shared it with us in the morning. Something about being Setna, the Egyptian Prince, with me as Neave as Anheru and Merku, his brothers. He dreamed we were in the tomb of Nefrekeptah seeking the book of Thoth and that we met there the spirits of his wife and child and won the book in a game of draughts while I burned the mummy of Nefrekeptah. Zachary seemed to have given this dream some weight. Personally, I feel that it would be surprising had none of us dreamt about the confounded business, and dreams should not be taken too seriously. I, for example, recall a lovely dream about being a fish and swimming in a well. Yet I do not go on and on about it, do I?
Either way, we are here in the monastery, preparing to go and find the spot Zachary dreamed of. There are people going from here to Mit Rahina, and from there many people leave for Cairo - where the closest post office is located. I will deposit this letter with one of them and hope that it finds you, and finds you well.
Glory glory hallelujah,
Theodore Alexius Victor Warner III.