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The Land of Stars

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My dreams last night were plagued by nightmares, a common occurrence recently, one which I had become increasingly accustomed to. I woke this morning drenched in sweat, my clothes sticking to me and my hair slick. I should've changed into my night clothes but we had a long night last night and I barely made it to my bed before passing out. The doctor had recently acquired a rare species of insect which burrowed into the human brain through the ear canal, from a fellow society member who resided in Australia. Per usual, he made me sit by him and take notes on the specimen and the human brain which it had nearly eradicated in the matter of 13 hours. Now, I sat upon my bed looking out the small port window above my head counting the rain pellets as they hit the glass pane. My eyes lazily followed the water droplets down the window. The sky above was gray and miserable, the sun had just begun to peak over the clouds, when I heard his shrill cry from what sounded like the kitchen.

Will Henrryyyy!” 

Not knowing how long he had been calling my name, I quickly scurried out of bed, still wearing my clothes from the day before, which in all honesty were in the need of a desperate wash, and made my way down to the kitchen. I stood in the door frame and watched him scuttle from cabinet to cabinet, if a man of his stature could even scuttle. 

“Will Henry!" He spun around once he noticed my presence. "I have been calling your name for at least an hour now. Where have you been?” He angrily huffed,his dark eyes focused on me with an intensity I so commonly witnessed. “And what are you doing standing there? Come help me.”

”In bed, sir.” I answered. “What are you doing, sir?” 

He groaned and rubbed his eyes with one hand while the other was on his hip. “I thought it was obvious that I was making breakfast, or are you that thick headed.” I was used to this type of verbiage from him, but at this time when I knew I did not deserve it, I was confused. 

”No sir,” I answered lamely. It was all I could muster at the moment. 

He gave me a sharp look but said nothing more on that matter. Rolling his eyes he said “I have to make myself presentable. You," he pointed his long finger at me, "make breakfast for three.” 

“Three, sir? Do we have a caller?” I ask incredulously. Most of our callers showed up unannounced and those who did let us know of their impending arrival I knew of at least a day or so before hand.

“Have I made myself unclear? If such a menial task is above your grasp, perhaps you should reconsider your apprenticeship.” With that he walked away presumably to the upstairs washroom, not even waiting for my answer. He said that as if it was my choice to live in his home as his apprentice. He knew well that I was capable of making a simple breakfast, much more capable than he was, and although he was a genius and I am not, there are certain abilities he did not attain which I most certainly did. 

Warthrop's hair and beard had grown to an almost unmanageable length and were both in need of a good cut and wash. He too was wearing his clothes from the day before, which were too in desperate need of a wash. I decided that I would do the laundry this afternoon if he didn't need my assistance, which I assumed he probably wouldn't if he were meeting with someone I knew nothing about until this very second. I still knew nothing about them, but at least I knew of their presence.

In all my years under the doctor’s apprenticeship we only had 2 or 3 expected guests- and not one of them had ever come over for breakfast. Most of our guests came in the early hours of the morning with some macabre parcel of the doctor's unholy interests. I had many questions racing through my head, but I did my best to ignore them as I hastily made a breakfast of eggs, ham and some scones I found in the pantry. I had just set the tea out when I heard a solid knock on the door. 

Warthrop was still upstairs and apparently didn’t hear the knock, or didn’t care. The rain was coming down harder now and the wind howled against the house. I lit the lights in the foyer and opened the front door, anxious to meet the unknown guest. 

I was shocked to say the very least. There, standing in front of me in the doorway, was a carbon copy of the doctor himself. Long legs, lithe frame, raven black hair, and pale skin. However, her eyes were different. They were as green as the trees and grass outside on the front lawn, with specks of gold from the sun itself. They held a fire deep in them with a slight hint of mischief. Freckles were splashed across her nose and high cheekbones. She looked at me and smirked, showing off her dimples. It would be a blatant lie to say that she wasn’t attractive.

“Well,” she said, voice smooth and relaxing, as she stared at me over her nose, “don’t tell me you’re his too.” 

She stood just a few inches taller than me, tall for a lady of that time, around 5'8. But that didn’t shock me as much as seeing her wearing men’s apparel. It was after all, hardly 1891. I could tell she was a girl, however, from her delicate feminine features and long lashes which curled up naturally. 

”It’s quite impolite to gape at someone, and even more so when said someone is cold and wet.” I hadn't realized yet that I had been staring at her, mouth wide open, until she snapped me out of my trance. Without saying a word, I took her bag and opened the door wider for her to walk in. I was even more baffled and puzzled now than I was before.

The doctor had told me early on in my apprenticeship to him that he had no family and he never would have one, that I was all he had. I should've known that was a lie after meeting Jack Kearns and the Chanlers, and although they weren't related to him they were the closest thing he had to a family besides me. It had to be a sister he never told me about, but he had never mentioned one and always told me he was an only child. A cousin, perhaps? One that looks quite adolescent and similar to him. I, in my childish naivety, refused to believe deep down who I knew she was.

I took her coat and cap, which she practically shoved in my direction without a second glance over me as she slowly walked deeper into the house, taking it all in stride. At the bottom of the stairs she turned and looked at me again. 

“Where is he?” She asked. 

”Who are you?” I blurted out, completely ignoring her question and all of my manners. Granted, I lived with Pellinore Warthrop who had no time to teach me the proper etiquette of the day. 

She only smiled. ”I’m not even surprised that he’s never even mentioned me, if I’m being completely honest. But first, where is he?” 

Right as I opened my mouth to answer the man in question himself walked down the stairs, buttoning his jacket. He didn’t look surprised at all to see her standing there and instead focused his attention on me. His hair was smoothed back and looked relatively tamed and he had completely shaved his beard. 

”Will Henry, is breakfast ready?”At that point nodding was all I could muster as my mouth was bone dry. He noticed my expression and what he said next nearly cause me to faint from shock.

“Will Henry, this is my daughter Elliot Jean Warthrop. Elliot, this is my apprentice, William James Henry.” 

I looked back and forth between the two, Warthrop still on the landing leaning against the railing, and his daughter standing just below him. My mouth opened and closed like a fish's as I tried to say something, anything, really, but nothing would come out.

“Well, I have some business to attend to. I guarantee that I will be back within the next two hours. Will Henry, show her around, if you will.” With that he came down the last four stairs and walked out the front door, not even paying his daughter any attention. What business did he have to attend to that he wouldn't take me along with? Later, I would learn that he had no business to attend to, he just wanted to be out of the house and deal with his daughter's arrival at a later time. 

I’m sure my mouth was still open when she, Elliot Jean Warthrop, finally spoke. 

“So, Will, what’s your story? I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.” She smirked again. Something about her reminded me somewhat of Jack Kearns. Maybe it was the smirk, or maybe it was the mischievous glint that made her eyes sparkle. 

“My parents died in a fire and the Doctor took me in.” I answered plain and simple. It's what I told everyone.

"Oh, how very kind of him. He took an orphan in before he took his own daughter in. I can see that his pride is still the most important thing to him.” She crossed her arms and looked up the stairs. “I’m hungry, Will Henry. What did you make for breakfast?” She met my eyes again and cocked her head to the side. I noticed that she was very expressive in her movements and face. Yet, at the same time, she had her guard up, a mask on. She would be difficult to figure out and I so desperately wanted to do just that.

"Eggs, ham, scones, and tea." Again, I responded plain and simple. I was still trying to absorb the information that had hit me square in the chest like a cannonball. It seemed like the room was closing in around us and I found it excessively difficult to bring air into my lungs. 

"Sounds delicious! Let's eat, why don't we?" I noticed that she had a very slight English accent and that came out more in certain words than others. It would be easy to miss if one wasn't paying attention. I only nodded and let her follow me into the kitchen to eat our breakfast. Warthrop had told me to make it for three, but it seemed like he had backed down at the very last minute. I needed answers and I needed them soon. 

Chapter Text

After breakfast, which was eaten mostly in silence, I took her to the guest room at the end of the upstairs hallway.

“I’m up the stairs in the attic, and he has the first room in the hall, if you need us.” I shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot wanting to ask her so many questions but I also didn’t want to be intrusive. She was turned towards the bed looking out the window at the dreary June day.

Without even turning her back she said, “Ask away,” with the flick of her hand. It was exactly what the doctor did. Their similarities, it seemed, didn’t stop at just outward appearances.

“How old are you?”

“18.” She sounded bored.

“Where did you live before now?”

“London.” She opened her bag and began going through it. It would explain her slight accent. 

“Why are you wearing pants?”

“Why are you, Will Henry? Because they’re more comfortable than a skirt.” She scoffed, as if it was the most obvious answer in the world.

“Who’s your mother?” I crossed the threshold of her room, and the conversation.

At that she turned around to face me with a serious look, like she was thinking of something. I feared that I had asked a question that she wasn’t willing to answer, and that she would send me out of her room.

Finally after a few silent moments she answered quietly. “Her name was Muriel, she died a couple years back.”

Again I looked at her with the expression of a fish out of water -eyes wide and mouth agape. “You...what...I-I’m….” I stuttered.

“Did you know her, Will? Did you know my mother?” She asked before diving into her story, “She was newly engaged to her husband, John Chanler, when she figured out that she was with child. After Pellinore, my father, was told he offered to have her go on a ‘sabbatical’ for a year. She was five months along when she left New York for London, where she stayed with one of his friends, Jack Kearns, who was a doctor, and his sister.”

“I knew him too.” I interrupted her.

She cocked an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “I have no doubt that you did. Anyways, four months later I was born. My mother stayed there in London until I was nearly 8 months old. Until I was old enough to go to school I stayed in the Kearns’ care. Then I went to the most prestigious boarding school for girls in England, where I continued my education until I graduated last month.”

That would explain her playful and mischievous disposition, she was raised by none other than Jack Kearns. I wondered if she knew what happened to him, just a little over half a year ago. Brushing the thought away, I decided to continue asking questions.

“How often did he visit?”

Her lips were graced with a small smile when she turned back towards her bag. “Not often enough, little Will. Maybe once every two years, and then about 3 years ago they stopped all together. I’m assuming that’s when you started assisting him, yes?” I nodded and she continued. “Mother visited me twice a year until she died.”

“Why did they give you a mans name?” I continued asking questions, my curiosity getting the better of me. My mother always told me that my curiosity would be my death.

“Now, that, I do not have an answer to. But let me tell you, it has made my life much easier. If I dress like a man and if I tell someone that my name is Elliot, they treat me better than if I were to tell them my name is Elli. Women are not fragile and stupid and should not be treated as such. Now that’s enough about me, how about you? What’s your story?”

“Uhm, well…” I didn’t really know where to begin. “My father, James Henry, worked for Warthrop, until he got sick. Then there was a fire and both of my parents died. I think you know the rest.” I conveniently left out the parts where worms fell out of eyes and mouth as he burned to death. His finals words would always torment me.

It burns. It burns.

She nodded, but now it was her turn to ask questions. “How old are you?”

“Almost 16.”

“No!” She gasped, “There is no way. You’re too small. You look no older than 12 at the most.” She smiled. I noticed that her teeth were all perfectly straight and a brilliant white.

“I get that response often.” I smiled back. I realized that I enjoyed talking to her as it was easy, just like talking to Muriel was. A trait she had inherited from her mother, along with her eyes and freckles.

“What happened to your finger Will Henry?” Ah, but she was also 100% her father's daughter. Brutally honest and straight to the point, she held nothing back.

“The doctor chopped it off with a butcher knife.” I replied nonchalantly. Then we both burst into peals of laughter until our stomachs hurt and there were tears in our eyes. I hadn’t laughed like that in many years, and it was something, in the moment of it all, that I realized I desperately missed. However, we must have both been quite insane to be laughing at such a thing as my missing finger.

Between the laughs she managed to gasp out “Are you serious?” and “Why would he do that?”

Our laughs were interrupted by Warthrops voice. “Yes, he’s quite serious, Elliot, and only because it could not be helped.” He was standing in the door frame with a sour look on his face, arms crossed.

She stood to her full height and wiped her eyes. It looked like she was daring him to do something, a challenge of some sort. I have no idea what it might have been.“How long have you been there?” She tried to calm down her breathing and couldn’t help but smile. I, on the other hand, was quite serious right away.

“Long enough,” He turned to walk out, “let’s go Will Henry. Snap to!”

I excused myself from her room and followed him down the stairs. “Bring me some tea and scones. I’ll be in my study.” With that he left me alone in the foyer as he made his way towards the library.

I had many questions for him as well, but I doubted that he would be near as open as Elliot was. I would probably have been scolded for asking such questions to him, but I knew that eventually he would tell me.

When I entered the library, he wasn’t behind his heavy oak desk in his study. Instead he was sitting in front of the fireplace, with his fingers steepled under his chin and his eyes closed as if he was deep in thought. When he spoke his voice was soft and quiet.

“She reminds me exactly of myself when I was younger, you know. A shame, really…” I set the tray next to him on a small table, yet it stayed untouched.

“Why is would that be a shame, sir?” I asked.

He opened his eyes and stared at me, his gaze burning a fire in my skull. “Why wouldn’t it be, Will Henry?” He countered my question with one of his own. “She’s headstrong and stubborn, but then again, so was her mother, I suppose.” I was sure he didn’t know that I knew who her mother was.

“She has a heart for Monstrumology, she’s quite clever, scoring the top in her class, she is me in every way…” He trailed off and looked into the fire. It created shadows on his gaunt face, making his cheeks and eyes look even more hollow and sunken in. It had started to thunder outside and the house trembled.

“I was there when she was born too, as with you. I also delivered her, with some help of course,” he meant Jack Kearns and his sister, “ I was scared she would be as sickly as I was, but she was strong and healthy with a head full of thick black hair,” he let out a breathy laugh. “I stayed there in London with them for 5 months before I was called back home, by your father. It was something with the Society. I only told von Helrung and your father about her. They were my two closest friends.”

Suddenly upstairs there was a loud crash and a shriek. The both of us raced upstairs, me on my master’s heel.

He was in her room before I was, as he had taken the stairs two at a time. Both of us were slightly winded but he managed to gasp out “What is it?!”

Elliot was standing with her back against the window, holding it closed and taking in deep breaths. “Wind...window…open…” she responded. Her hair , which only went to her shoulders and was as straight as a pin, was wet and plastered to her neck and forehead. Her clothes were nearly drenched with water.

The doctor groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Will Henry, help her clean up this mess. I’ll be in the basement.” It seemed to me like he was avoiding his daughter at all costs. Although, if it had been I who had been drenched in water, I suppose he wouldn’t have helped me to clean it up either.

 

Chapter Text

The next two weeks were both intriguing and increasingly difficult. Elliot repeatedly bested the monstrumologist at chess, which was amusing at first, however, I was left to deal with the aftermath.

She also, to the doctors irritation, would sit in the basement with us while he studied his new specimen, a young basilisk, whom another monstrumologist had sent him all the way from India, and try to actively participate in its dissection. Whereas I would sit on the little stool next to his worktable and take notes, she would sit across from us, on the counter with one leg drawn to her chest and the other dangling over the side. She had a notebook of her own and she would occasionally look up from it to study her father and his work. I assumed that she was taking notes just as I was. Every so often she would interject and ask a question to which the doctor would sigh heavily and begrudgingly answer her. There was nothing much for her to do besides sit around the house and I knew she was getting bored. It seemed that she was nearing the end of her string and would go stir crazy if she didn't do something soon. That is why she started playing pranks on her father.

She irritated him and it gave her immense pleasure to see how far she could push his patience before he broke. It seemed as if she had no other purpose in her life than to annoy him. She would play these pranks on him, but never on me. Such pranks included waking him up multiple times in the middle of the night and hiding under his bed before he saw her, adding too much salt in his food (she enjoyed cooking and would often help me), and hiding all of his undergarments. By the end of the month the monstrumologist pulled me aside.

“Will Henry, I can’t take it anymore. It’s only been a few weeks and she has already driven me up the wall. I just need a few hours of peace and quiet.” He shoved a pouch of gold coins and a wad of money into my hand and shoved me towards the stairs. “Go upstairs, get her and take her out to do…” he paused, “whatever it is that ladies do!” With that he retreated back down into the basement to finish his study of the serpentine monster which was displayed grotesquely on the worktable. I wanted to protest and say that she was not a lady, in fact she was quite the opposite. She was a young woman, yes, but being a woman does not inherently designate you as a lady. I think in today’s terms we would call her a “tom-boy.” No matter, I still did the doctors bidding.

On this particular day, Elliot hadn't come down to the basement with us, instead retreating back into her room after breakfast. She seemed to be in a fine mood but perhaps there was something more I was missing behind her mask of cool neutrality. After learning of her being reared by none other than Jack Kearns, a man whom I had killed myself, I had done my best to avoid him as a topic all together, and it seemed so did the doctor. Elliot had repeatedly asked about him to which the doctor would reply with an indifferent shrug and quickly change the topic. The same conversation had happened at breakfast.

When I found her upstairs, she was sitting on her bed with her journal on her lap. I had no idea what she was doing and right as I walked in she quickly closed it and put it under her pillow.

“Ah! It’s little William. How are you on this,” she peaked out of the small window which had sunlight streaming into it and scrunched up her face at the sudden intrusion of light, “awfully bright and cheerful morning?” She smiled at me, but it was more of a formality. I noticed that most of her smiles never quite reached her eyes.

“The doctor has asked me to take you out into town for…,” I paused not sure of what I should say, “an outing?” It sounded more like a question than a statement, but regardless, she stood up and nodded, stretching her long legs and leaning into her hands at the small of her back. 

“Well I had better get ready then! I’ll meet you downstairs in a few minutes.” With that she shooed me out and shut her door.

Thankful she wasn’t questioning my ulterior motives, though I believed she knew them somehow, I headed to my alcove to retrieve my hat. Less than ten minutes later she met me in the foyer. She was wearing a dress and a hat which complimented it. Her hair was pulled up in the typical fashion of the day and she was also wearing jewelry. Seeing my shocked expression she smirked. How had she gotten dressed that fast?

“I am still capable of being a lady every now and then William. Shall we be on our way? Surely we couldn’t stay in ‘the doctor’s’ way.” We left the house on Harrington Lane and made for the center of town. “What are we going to do once in town? Go shopping? Get something to eat? Oh, I have it! Let’s go to a bar!”

I started up at her with eyes as big as tea saucers and she only laughed at my expression. Once I composed myself I answered her as best as I could. “What would you like to do first? Except for go to a bar that is!” I rushed out the last part and I was almost certain she didn’t understand a word of it.

“Of course I’m not going to go to a bar, not dressed like this anyhow. I believe we should get some tea and scones? Doesn’t that sound delightful? Are there any cafes in this town?” I nodded and she continued her monologue. “Afterwards, we should go to the grocery and pick up a few things. I have noticed that we’re running low on some of the essential items. And you could also always show me around the town. I would love to see the post office as I’m expecting a few letters.” I hoped and prayed that if there were any good God that she was not expecting any letters from Jack Kearns.

We did everything she wanted to. It turned out her favorite tea was Earl Gray and her favorite scones were lemon- unlike her father. She bought nearly everything you could imagine at the grocer’s and paid extra to have it delivered. Everywhere we went, people would stare at her in shock. It appeared to them as if I were parading around the town with a mini Warthrop-and I was. It was my fear that they all knew who she was; after all, there weren’t too many explanations of who she could have been and any person can come to the correct logical deduction. I was surprised that Warthrop would let his pride be wounded in this way. It made me wonder why he hadn’t locked her up in the attic, with only the one small window to let her see the sun. Either I had an entirely new master, which seemed completely unlikely, or he just ceased to care about anything, which seemed even more unlikely.

Nevertheless, we continued on our journey to the post office. Along the way, I showed her a few of the shops. One of them was a clothing store, the very one where my hat from the doctor had been purchased. She told me to remind her to go back there one day, so she could buy some more dresses. “I only have the one I’m wearing right now. All of my other clothes are men’s.” I nodded and promised that I would. I was not in the slightest surprised that she chose primarily to dress in men's clothes and I wondered when the habit had started. 

“You don’t talk much, do you Will Henry?” she asked me, still about a block away from the post office. The hot early July sun was shining down on us, causing sweat to drip down from my hair and I was beginning to get hot and uncomfortable in my long pants.

“No, the doctor’s work doesn’t require much talking.” I responded, eager to get to our destination, where it would be at least a few heavenly degrees cooler, and not in any mood to have in depth conversations.

“It doesn’t require it? Or is it that he just doesn’t want you to speak? Because, I would suspect the latter of the two.” 

“It doesn’t require it.” I snapped. I was starting to get annoyed by her as well. It might have been the sweltering heat of the hot summer’s day, or it could have been that she was accusing the doctor of something that I believed wasn’t true. Warthrop always encouraged me to speak my mind, even though I was usually wrong about almost everything. Because of this, I chose not to speak often.

“Whatever you say, William. I suppose I am inclined to agree with you, as you have the money and I need to send a few letters.” We had finally reached the postal office and I was thankful to get out of the heat. “Do you or my father happen to know Dr. Kearns new address? He left for London a few months before I graduated and I haven’t heard from him yet. He said it was for a new business prospect at one of the hospital there.”

She continued talking, but I had stopped listening. She still believed that Kearns was alive. I had no idea what to say to her. I couldn’t tell her that I killed the man myself, which was the truth, but I couldn’t tell her that I didn’t know because I was sure she’d ask the doctor. If she did ask him, I was scared that he would tell her the truth, after all, he hated fibs. Placing all of my faith in Warthrop’s judgement I responded.

“No, I don’t. You can ask your father though, he might know.” I hoped, for all three of us, that I hadn’t made a mistake.

Chapter Text

We arrived back at Harrington Lane less than an hour later to find the doctor’s travel bags in the foyer and a light shining from the kitchen. Once Elliot saw the suitcases her face dropped and she hurried up the stairs. I, however, made my way to the kitchen where I found the doctor making himself tea and all of the groceries we had ordered still in the paper sacks sitting on the dining table. I began to put the items away.

“Will Henry, go pick your bags, we’re leaving within the hour.” He didn’t even turn to face me.

“Within the hour? I thought we weren’t leaving until next week.”

“The plans have changed. Snap to Will Henry!” With that he took one final sip from his tea cup and retreated to his study.

I didn’t know what could be so urgent that would make the doctor leave on such a short notice, but it was nothing new to me. The answer to my question was found on the table. It was a letter from Von Helrung, which was rather short in its entirety.

My dear Pellinore,
The Society needs your expertise on a rather troublesome and perplexing issue. Your presence would be appreciated in the most timely manner.”
-Abram Von Helrung

I had no idea what it could be, but nonetheless I did the doctors bidding and headed up to my alcove in order to pack. It took me no more than twenty minutes to do so, and once I was finished I set my bag next to Warthrop’s in the foyer.

“Ah good, I already sent for a cab to take us to the train station. We’ll be staying at Von Helrung’s tonight. Are you ready?” He had changed since I last saw him, into traveling clothes.

Before I could speak, however, I was interrupted. “I’m going with you.” Elliot spoke carrying her suitcase down the stairs. She was wearing men’s clothes, and to the unassuming, could pass as a young man if she kept her hat and face low. 

“No,” Warthrop gave her a hard look, “you are not. This is not a vacation, nor is it a business call for ladies.”

“If it not a business call for ladies, than it is not a business call for young boys.” She returned the same look. The tension in the room was a thick as fog, and I wanted nothing more than to leave. Standing in between the two most stubborn people, to what I believed to be in the entire world, having an argument was not the most pleasant situation to be in the middle of.

“Will Henry is not just a young boy. He is my apprentice and he is indispensable to me. He must come with.” Warthrop, at this point was beyond irritated. His jaw was set and his fists were curled tightly at his sides. Yet, Elli wasn’t one to back down and continued down the stairs. I began to awkwardly shuffle on my feet as I looked between the two dark haired individuals. I was scared he would explode if she didn't let up.

“I suppose, then, if he is indispensable, I am dispensable, and it would not matter what would happen to me, wherever it is that we are going.” She dared him, that invisible dare, and raised her chin at him, as an act of defiance, not blinking once as she kept eye contact with him. “Unless…”

“Unless what?” At this point he was furious and his voice was low and slow, close to a growl. 

“You’re embarrassed of me, and that’s why you won’t let me come with.” She knew she was right. The doctor himself said that the only two people that knew about her were my father and von Helrung. No one else at the Society knew, and to him it would be a disgrace if they ever found out that he had a daughter with Mrs. Chanler. When he didn’t respond she just smiled, a sad smile, and nodded her head.

“I knew it. Well, I better go back upstairs, I don’t want you to suffer any more embarrassment at your own expense. Although, letting me stay alone in your hometown would be most detrimental to your reputation as well, one may think.” She made it to the top of the stairs before her father spoke.

“Elliot, wait.” She turned around and looked at him, beckoning him to continue. “Would you like to come with?” It was a rare moment, one that I believe I never saw more than twice. He had been defeated, and with his wounded ego, he didn’t pity himself for a second. It also seemed like all of his anger had dissipated in a second. Elliot only smirked down at him.

“No, I decided to pack my bag and tell you that I was coming with, just to aggravate you for no reason other than my pure amusement and joy.” Immediately the doctor regretted his decision, and rolled his eyes. He said nothing in response to her and instead, grabbed his two bags and walked out the front door, where the carriage waited for us. Elli whistled a merry tune as she followed him out as if she had just won a gold medal in the olympics. She handed the driver her bag and practically hopped into the cab, directly across from the doctor, and had the audacity to smile at him. I took my spot next to Warthrop and we were off to the train station.

“So where are we going?” She asked once we were situated on the train. It would take us only a few hours to reach New York from New Jerusalem, and we would arrive at Meister Abram’s around 7 o'clock that night. Elliot still had no idea where we were going, yet she was excited at the very prospect of an adventure, I could tell by the newfound light behind her jade colored eyes. Warthrop’s dark eyes were closed and he was leaning his head against the back of the booth we were seated in. I was sure that he was asleep until he spoke and opened one eye to look at her.

“For now, New York.” He closed his eye again and readjusted himself to be more comfortable, his arms crossed across his chest. 

“What do you mean, ‘for now’?” She leaned forward almost to the point of falling off of her booth opposite the doctor. She was practically buzzing with excitement for the unknown.

“I mean exactly that. For now we’re going to New York, and after that, we’ll see. We may head back to New Jerusalem, or we may head out on some unforeseen and treacherous journey.” This time his eyes remained closed. “Now if you would not mind, I would like to sleep for a few hours.”

She stared at him a moment longer, opening and closing her mouth, unsure if she wanted to say anything more. She decided instead, to pull out the leather bound journal I had seen her with earlier that morning. I couldn’t tell what she was doing in it, if she was writing or sketching something out. I decided to leave it up to mystery, stomping my curiosity out like a spark in a dry forest.

I hadn’t realized that I, myself, had dozed off, until I woke up nearly two hours later, with a crick in my neck, and the sound of quiet whispers and the steady clank of the train wheels. I decided to pretend I was sleeping, just a while longer, so in my childish immaturity, I could listen in on Elliot and Warthrop.

“He tells me that his parents perished in a fire. Is that true?” I could hear her sip on a drink, Earl Gray tea perhaps.

The doctor was tapping his fingers impatiently on the table before him, something he rarely did, and typically only out of irritation or anxiety. “Yes, it was an accident.”

“So you took in an orphaned boy, but not your own flesh and blood?” She was prodding him again and it was only a matter of time before he finally exploded. 

“It’s different Elliot. His father was my best friend, I couldn’t leave him. In a sense, I was the one who brought on his parent’s deaths. You were in the care of one of my most trusted accomplices, and you were pursuing your education, something that would be very difficult for you here.” The first part of his answer reminded me of a question Malachi Stinnett had asked me just over two years ago. "Why did he choose to take you in?" 

“Yet you still shipped me and my mother off to save yourself from the embarrassment. You know, I remember one of the last times you visited me. I was so excited, both you and mother would be there, together. I was just about to turn 14 and Jackie said he would take off work for an entire week, so we could all celebrate together. Instead, I hardly saw you and James Henry. You couldn’t even be bothered to wish me a good day, let alone celebrate my birthday. You told mother you had work to do. It’s always been your work above anything, yourself included. You use Will for your own benefit, not to raise him. I can see, now, why she left you. You’re so selfish you won’t even-”

“I was in pursuit of one of the most rare finds in the history of monstrumology. Leaving you on your birthday was not my intention.”

“Yet, it was your desire.” With that she left the booth. I hadn’t even noticed that the train had stopped. The doctor shook me awake after a moment of silence and a heavy sigh from him.

“Get up Will Henry, we have much to do.”

The carriage ride to von Helrung’s could best be described as awkward. Elli, was obviously still fuming after their brief dispute and resorted to looking out the window the entire ride. I was both anxious and excited for what was to come. Deep down, a part of me wondered if I would see Lily again. We had a lot to catch up on, especially after last year.

Once we stopped, I was anxious to leave the sullen atmosphere and immediately grabbed the four bags from the coachman. The doctor struck the door with his walking cane three times and almost immediately the door opened to a beaming von Helrung. He ushered Warthrop and I in, and Elli snuck in behind me, unnoticed by her father’s old mentor.

“Ah, mein freund Pellinore! I do hope your trip was pleasant?” He crushed Warthrop’s lithe frame in an embrace.

“It was as well as it could’ve been Meister Abram.” He returned the embrace, to Elliot’s apparent shock and distaste. She had crossed her arms across her chest and was leaning against one of the pillars in the grand foyer of von Helrung’s home. The look on her face was sour, like she had just ate a lemon and she scoffed as she looked out the window closest to her left.

“Ah, and my good friend Will! How are you? I see you’ve grown taller, but only a little! Pellinore, you really just feed him more.” He went to give me one of his trademarked hugs, but stopped with a shocked look on his face when he saw who was behind me. His words were drawn out and careful. “Mein Gott, Pellinore. You weren’t lying. She most definitely is your daughter!” He pushed me to the side and crushed her in between his arms and she looked extremely uncomfortable, like she couldn’t breathe, yet she still returned his embrace out of polite courtesy.

“Elliot, this was my mentor, Abram von Helrung. Meister Abram, my daughter, Elliot Jean Warthrop.” The doctor’s voice had that dry lecturing tone that I heard too often.

Once she could breathe again she greeted the man. “It’s an honor, sir.”

He beamed at her and took one of her hands in between his own, holding on to her tight. If he was curious at all of her peculiar clothing tastes he didn’t show it. “No, my dear lady, the honor is mine. I’ve heard so much about you, I’ve yet to see if it’s true, but there’s plenty of time! Why don’t you and Will Henry go up to your room, while I talk to your father. William, you will be staying in Lillian’s room, she’s away in England right now.”

I don’t know why I felt disappointed that she was gone, but I was. I felt we had much to catch up on, and I was upset she didn’t at least write to tell me she was leaving. Nonetheless, I went up to her bedroom, with Elli in tow. She smirked at me and took a look around the room.

“Do you like little Lillian, Will Henry?” She once again had that mischievous glint in her eye as she stalked closer to me. I had observed that her steps and movements were graceful and at times she could be completely silent. She was like a lioness and at the moment I was her prey. 

“No, I do not like her. Why must everyone assume that I do, just because we are friends?” I was exasperated and tired of everyone asking me that question. I threw my bag on the bottom bunk and began unpacking.

“Oh, you’re friends? Have you ever kissed her?” She took my bag from the bed and placed it on the top bunk. “Always give the lady the bottom bunk, William.”

“I thought you were only capable of being a lady sometimes,” I dodged answering her question as best I could. I was tired of dealing with her all day and I longed for the black abysmal nothingness of sleep.

“So you have kissed her,” she laughed at me and my ears turned bright red.

“I have never kissed her! She kissed me first!” My voice cracked and I almost died from embarrassment. I begged for the ground to swallow me up and to never be seen again. I felt my face blush an even deeper scarlet and I looked down at my boots to avoid her gaze.

“Oh! That’s different then, isn’t it? I apologize, Will Henry. You have never kissed Lillian, she has only kissed you!” She laughed even harder and threw her head back. She composed herself quickly, however and patted me on the shoulder. “I’m not laughing at you, just at how my father may have reacted. I really can’t decide on how to imagine it.”

“He didn’t seem to care, he just warned me against falling in love. He told me love wasn’t worth it, and I assured him I felt the same way.” I climbed onto the top bunk and began unlacing my boots.

“Don’t believe him, love is worth it, the best kind of it at least…” she trailed off as she began to unpack her few things.

“How many kinds of love are there?” I was curious by the latter half of her statement.

“Oh, let’s not have a boring philosophical conversation now, I’m tired and I’m sure you are too after today. Let’s go to sleep and we can talk again tomorrow if you still want to, alright?” She left towards the bathroom to change into her nightgown and freshen up. Once she was gone, I quickly changed and fell asleep. She was right, I had no idea how exhausted I was after the long day I had had. I was sure the next weeks and months would be even more exhausting depending on what von Helrung had in store for us. That night, I dreamt of Lillian Bates, no nightmares in sight.

Chapter Text

I woke up sometime around 8 the next morning to the doctor’s voice. “Will Henry, snap to! We have much to do today.” I quickly got dressed and made my way downstairs to find the doctor. I searched each room to no avail, he wasn’t downstairs. I still had one more room to check, the kitchen, from which I heard a loud crash and an ensuing ruckus. I found Warthrop reprimanding Elliot who was leaned back in her chair at the breakfast nook with her feet on the table. von Helrung was sat across from her, wide eyes focused on her instead of the newspaper he had in his hands. The loud crash was from a serving tray Warthrop had dropped presumably in shock. 

“Elliot! Get your feet off of the table immediately,” he hissed out, “your boots are caked in mud!” The tips of his ears were tinted a slight pink, almost as if he was blushing from embarrassment. 

“Oh don’t worry, I just cleaned my boots this morning,” she drawled out. “They’re very clean, father.” She kicked one foot up, crossing her ankles together, the back of her chair nestled comfortably between the counter and the wall. Both her tone and demeanor were sarcastic. She picked up an apple from the bowl in the middle of the table and tossed it from hand to hand. She then proceeded to take the knife that was next to von Helrung’s plate and use it to cut her apple. 

With a mouth full of apple she broke the silence that was in the room, “Good Morning Will Henry, care to join us for breakfast?” She hadn’t looked my way and continued maintaining eye contact with her father, a smug smirk on her face. He turned to me and shoved the tray my way.

“Go put this on the counter, and eat your breakfast quickly, we’ll be going the Society today.” Then he turned back to Elli, who was still eating her apple and looking out the window, as if uninterested by the conversation we were having. He then proceeded to pick her feet up off the table and drop them to the ground. This caused her to lose her balance and drop the apple and the knife she was holding. She let out a startled yelp and glared at her father before picking up her dropped breakfast and storming out of the room. 

“Mein freund, Pellinore, she reminds me of my niece, Lillian,” von Helrung sipped his tea before fixing his eyes back on the newspaper. 

“She has graduated from the most prestigious boarding school in all of England, and she acts like a glorified Neanderthal!”

“Pellinore, she just wants your attention! You’ve deprived her of it for the past 18 years. How many times have you seen her?” 

Warthrop pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, “I know she does, but with all that’s going on, I don’t have the time.” He only let himself be vulnerable in front of von Helrung, it seemed. 

“You don’t have the time? Or you wont make the time? Because to me, it seems the latter of the two. The Society can wait, I’ll take young William with me today, you take her to do something.”

“She said she needed some new dresses,” I offered, “I’m sure she would appreciate if you brought her to get some.” I shuffled my feet, now uncomfortable under the weight of both of the older men’s stares. I shoved some oatmeal in my mouth to keep myself from speaking again, feeling my cheeks heat up. 

The doctor looked at me then ran his hand through his dark hair and sighed, “I suppose I could take her to get some new clothes, goodness knows she needs them.” von Helrung chuckled and nodded. 

“Then it is settled. William, let’s leave by the end of the hour.” He folded his newspaper before placing it on the table and stood up. “I’ll go freshen up.” I quickly finished up my breakfast before leaving to go find Elliot. I wanted to tell her what was going to happen so she could at least be prepared. I had a feeling that if I didn’t tell her that she’d refuse to go with her father on their excursion. I found her exactly where I expected to find her, in our shared bedroom with her leather-bound journal on her lap. She hadn’t looked up when I entered so I spoke to her.

“What is that journal for?” She still didn’t look up, she just continued to scribble in it.

“Does he not love me? His own daughter?” 

“He’s taking you out today to buy some new dresses, I told him you would like to get yourself a few more.” That made her look up from whatever it was she was doing.

“What?” Her voice was quiet, barely above a whisper.

“von Helrung suggested that he spend more time with you and he agreed. I suggested him taking you to get new clothes, and again, he agreed.” I shrugged. 

She looked down at her journal with a puzzled look on her face, like she was trying to think of something once forgotten. “Why?” Her voice cracked and she looked at me incredulously. 

I didn’t know how to respond, thankfully a knock on the door saved me. “William?” It was von Helrung, “are you ready to go now?” 

“Good luck,” I whispered to Elliot before leaving. I don’t know why I felt like she needed luck, but I knew she would need it. If both her and her father made it back alive it would be a miracle. Warthrop would chastise me for believing in them, saying something along the lines of “Everything can be explained by science, Will Henry. Even the unexplained can be explained with enough time and study.” 

On the way to the Society, for a task I still knew nothing about, von Helrung turned to me. “What do you think of her, Will?” I looked at him, knowing who was referring to, yet not knowing how to answer. I really did not know what I thought of her, so I shrugged.

“She’s alright I suppose.” He laughed at me, causing me to blush the second time that morning.

“Just alright? I believe she is smarter than she lets on, ambitious, and one of the most talented young ladies I will ever have the pleasure to know.” He pulled out a small piece of paper from his jacket and showed it to me. It was a pencil drawing of Lillian, and it was extremely accurate. I studied it with immense curiosity. “Do you know who drew this?” He was smiling down at me. I shook my head and continued to study it. “Elliot drew it. I found it on my desk late last night.” 

That would explain the journal. She must have seen the portrait of Lillian in our room last night and stayed up late to draw this picture. If I was being honest, it was some of the best work, at that time, that I had ever seen. To this day, I still believe that she was one of the most talented lost artists of our time. 

I handed the drawing back to him. “I would not underestimate her, young William. I said the same thing to her father. He never listens to anyone, but he’ll learn soon enough the potential his daughter has.” 

“She wants to study monstrumology.” I stated. “I don’t think she will though.” 

“Why not?”

“I think she’s trying to save her father from the embarrassment.” 

“She is no embarrassment! She is a prodigy! If anything Pellinore needs the embarrassment.” He huffed and slapped his thigh in anger. “I will talk to him later.” He shook his head in what could best be described as a mix of anger and disbelief. “Mein gott…” 

At the Society von Helrung left me in the library. “Stay here and read something, enjoy some time to yourself.” Oh if only he knew how much time I had to myself. At around noon, the incessant grumbling of my stomach became too much to handle, and I wandered out to find von Helrung. I found him in the main auditorium having a conversation with ,Sir Ratface, Walker. 

“Pellinore will not be pleased to hear this.”

“Meister Abram, is he ever pleased to hear anything? We need his help on this matter! Three of our best men have gone missing!” 

I cleared my throat, drawing the two men’s attention on to me.

“What is he doing here? Where is Pellinore?” Walker narrowed his eyes at me and I panicked. I was not going to be the person who told him where the doctor really was. I looked at von Helrung who answered his questions.

“Pellinore will be here tomorrow, don’t worry. He had some other,” he paused thinking, “business to attend to.” 

“Such as what? I’ve never known him to miss out on something like this. Surely, this would be his utmost concern at the moment!” I couldn’t blame him for being confused, because he was correct in his assumption that this matter, whatever it was, would normally be his highest priority. 

“His business is, frankly, none of yours, Walker. I will be back as soon as possible, William and I are going to have some lunch. Take care.” We left him there, mouth agape and confused by von Helrung’s unusual retort. 

“I’m sorry sir, I didn’t mean to interrupt your conversation.” We were walking down a busy street towards a restaurant he had said he wanted to try.

“Oh, do not worry about it, it was about time for lunch anyways.” I just hummed in response. The lunch was alright, nothing special. Afterwards, I went and waited in the library again. I was bored out of my mind in there but my only other option was to go see Adolphus, which I was not going to do. I shivered at the thought. Most of the books in the library covered topics such as Philosophy or Monstrumology, and caused my brain to want to explode. No later than five o’clock, von Helrung retrieved me from the library. I was thankful and ready to go home, however I was anxious to see how well Elliot had fared with her father.

The answer was not well. Warthrop was seated in the foyer with a cup of tea and a book by Nietzsche on his lap. Seeing his calm demeanor had given me hope. However, I soon learned that my hope was misplaced and misconstrued. I practically ran upstairs to find Elliot and ask her about her day, but she wasn’t in our room. The window was opened causing the room to be almost too cold for a summer night. I walked to it and peaked out, looking for her and I heard her voice. “I’m up here.” I looked up to the roof, and sure enough she was sprawled out on her back, gazing up into the summer sky, studying the clouds. The sun had just started to set. I climbed up onto the roof and sat down next to her. “He hates me.” Her eyes were red and puffy, evidence of tears, and her nose was stuffy. On her stomach was her journal wide open, she didn’t even make a move to close it. There was a picture of her father on the page, a picture she had drawn. It was exceptional.

“Von Helrung, showed me your drawing of Lillian. It was incredible. Why don’t you study art?” 

She laughed, but it was humorless. “I don’t want to study art, Will Henry, my true passion is elsewhere.”

“Monstrumology.” I said. She nodded.

“I’ll never be able to study it because of him,” she whispered. “I will have to do something I won’t truly enjoy because of his pride.” I stared at her and chewed on my lip. She was right. His pride and ego were much too big to ever risk her being at the Society. 

“I’m sorry.” As always, I didn’t know what else to say.

“Why are you sorry? It isn’t your fault.” She sat up and closed her journal. “Did my piece of Lillian capture her personality?” I remembered the eyes. I could see the fire in them even though it was only a drawing.

I nodded and smiled at her. She smiled back. “I think the two of you would get along great,” I told her, “you have the same passion, Monstrumology, you have the same fire in your hearts, and you are both ambitious. I was told today not to underestimate you. I don’t think I ever will.” This time her smile was natural and real. 

“How did you get caught up in this mess?” She looked sad again.

“I’ve told you, my parents-”

“No, Will Henry, that’s not what I meant. I mean, why do you stay with him? Your life must be miserable.” 

“I am indispensable to him. I can’t leave him.” That response felt like it was programmed into my brain. She shook her head and looked back into the summer sky, and sighed.

“If only we knew what else was out there, huh? Why do I fight so hard for his approval, when I will never get it? And why do you stay by his side? It doesn’t seem like he appreciates it.” 

“He needs me.” 

She looked back at me. “I’m sure he does.” Her response was more to herself than it was to me. 

“Von Helrung said he would talk to your father about you studying Monstrumology,” I told her. Her eyes lit up but just as soon as they had they went back to that sad, longing look. 

“He won’t listen. You know how he is. But, I will have to thank Meister Abram.”

“How was your day?” I finally remembered why I came up here in the first place.

“Not so good, it was quite awkward. I did get some new dresses though!” She laughed. “How was your day?”

“More boring than fun, I suppose.” Again, she only nodded in response. “We should probably go eat something, for dinner.”

“I suppose you’re correct, Will Henry. Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Elliot was still fast asleep when I woke up, near 8 o’clock the next morning. After getting dressed I wandered around the house until I found von Helrung and Warthrop in the library having a hushed conversation. Instead of pushing the heavy oak door open, I decided to stay hidden behind it with my ear to the door hoping to hear everything that they had to say. I heard the doctor’s voice rising occasionally and von Helrung’s ever-steady and calming voice. 

“Pellinore, mein freund, bring her with us today! She shows promise.” 

“What would you know of her promise? You haven’t even known her for 72 hours and you believe you know everything about her!”

“I suspect I know more about her than you do by the power of observation alone.” Through the small crack in the door I saw Warthrop close his eyes and pinch the bridge of his nose in frustration. I noticed he hadn’t shaved the entire time we had been in New York, which was entirely unlike him, especially since he had the resources to do so. 

“What exactly do you mean by that?” He asked running his hands through his hair. 

“I mean she has gifts, gifts that you are unable to see due to your own pride.” Warthrop, with his eyes still closed beckoned for his old teacher to continue. “She’s intelligent, has a fire unlike any other, she has a heart for monstrumology.”

“I know all of that,” Warthrop sighed and sat down.

“I’ve only just begun,” von Helrung pulled the pencil drawing of Lillian out of his coat pocket, “She drew this two nights ago and left it on my desk. I doubt you knew this.” Warthrop took the paper from his hands and pursed his lips while he studied it. I saw his jaw clench up, from what I know not, as he passed the picture back to von Helrung. 

“Her having the ability to render someone’s likeness with a piece of lead does not mean she should be able to come with Will Henry and I to the Society. Perhaps you would like to get to know her better instead of just observation?” That last part stung his old mentor as he cringed down at the younger man. He quickly morphed his hurt into a small knowing smile. 

“Well then Pellinore, if you do not take her, I will. You can choose how you want her to arrive, but she will arrive, like it or not.” 

“She is unforgiving in her eagerness to learn everything.” The younger monstrumologist murmured more to himself than his mentor, I guessed. 

“I believe you are terrified of becoming just like your father, Pellinore, so much so that you inherently are. In your own fears you are pushing her away and showing her the same exact attention your father showed you.” von Helrung ignored his student's earlier comment. 

“He didn’t show me any attention.” Warthrop stared straight ahead, a fire deep in his dark eyes.

“Precisely, mein freund, precisely.”  

With a sigh of defeat Warthrop finally conceded, “Fine, I will take her, but you’re coming with. I can’t stand to see Sir Ratface, much less deal with him by myself.” von Helrung swatted at his shoulder as I turned around and practically barreled upstairs to wake up Elliot.

As I shook her awake I heard the shrill voice of Warthrop calling my name from the foyer. “Coming!” I yelled back down before turning my attention back to sleeping rock in front of me. She was an extremely deep sleeper who, I guessed, could have slept through explosions going off outside the window. Once I managed to wake her she shot up quickly, causing her to hit her head on my bunk directly above her. She fell back down clutching  her head.

“William, what was that for?” She groaned in pain, “What is so urgent that it couldn’t wait?” Again I heard my name from downstairs.

“Get up and get dressed quickly.” I refused to tell her anymore for fear that my eavesdropping session would be exposed. With that I left her staring quizzically in my direction as I ran back down the stairs to meet my master.

“Is Elliot up and dressed?” He seemed uninterested and there was a distant look in his eyes. I nodded up at him, unable to speak much from being so winded. “Good, we will leave for the Society once she comes down.” I nodded again and went to the kitchen to grab two apples, one for myself and one for Elliot, I knew she loved them. As I made my way back into the foyer where the two men were waiting, Elliot came down the grand staircase. 

“What’s going on?” she asked while throwing an overcoat over her shoulders.

“We’re going to the Society,” her father answered.

“Have fun?” She had no idea that she was going with. Von Helrung stepped in.

“You’re coming with us, my dear.” Elliot looked in between him, her father, and I before finally settling her eyes on her father.

“Are you sure?” I had learned that she had an innate ability to always put others before herself, a certain selflessness that she had not inherited from her father, but perhaps her mother. Even now with her dream right in her grasp she still looked towards her father to make sure it would, indeed, be alright for her to go with us. It still amazes me to this day how she could put all of her needs or wants behind her to focus on everyone else’s. He nodded before proceeding to walk out of the door not seeing the smile creep up her face. She quickly dropped it and followed her father out of the door, ready to take on this newest adventure. This was different than just coming with us to New York, it had another extra element. By going to the Society with us she was risking her father’s pride and his reputation. I know now that she wanted to go to New York with us to get out, she was becoming sick with boredom in that old dusty house on Harrington Lane and was yearning to run free. She didn’t know what we were going to do once we arrived in New York City, which is why she pushed her father to let her come with, as an act of desperation.

On the way to the Society von Helrung and Warthrop murmured to each other about what Walker had told him. Warthrop was evidently displeased with having to see Walker again, his distaste of the man seeming to stem from some deeper issue, than what previously thought. Elliot, however, was content to look out the window, humming a happy tune while lost in her own world. I suddenly remembered the apple that I had pocketed for her earlier. I pulled it out of my pocket and placed it on her lap. She casually looked down and smiled at it before turning her head to smile a me. She whispered a small 'Thank you' before taking a bite of it. After eating about half of it she wrapped what was left up before putting it back into the pocket of her pants. She had decided to wear men's clothes today, which I was worried would further confuse that at the Society who would have the pleasure of meeting her. 

By the time we had arrived it had begun to rain. Expecting to be told to go to the library I began to make my way there only to be stopped by Warthrop. "Will Henry, where are you going?"

"The library, sir."

"Why would you go to the library? Have I ever made you sit out of a conversation?"

"Besides all of the one's you had with Muriel, or the one this morning?"  I thought. Instead I answered with a simple, "No, sir." And we made our way to the auditorium, Elliot in tow. She was taking everything in slowly, soaking in every speck of dust as if it would be the last time she ever saw it. Instead of staying by the doctor's side, I stayed by her's, content to stay back with her in case she got lost acquainting herself with our surroundings. There were five men in the auditorium once we arrived, the only one I recognized was Walker, who was having an argument with one of the men, spitting in his face. Warthrop cleared his throat and all five men stopped to look our way. 

"Where were you yesterday, Pellinore, we needed you here yesterday!" His adenoidal voice bounced off the walls causing all of us to wince. 

"I'm flattered that you so desperately need my assistance, Sir Ratface, however, not at all surprised," he responded monotonously, the odd nickname causing the other men to murmur.

"This is no time for a pride parade, Pellinore! Four of our best men have gone missing in three months!" 

"Four?," von Helrung questioned,"yesterday you say three." 

"Last night we got news that Montague went missing," the biggest of the four strangers spoke. He skin was cracked and tanned as if he spent most of his time in the sun and he had dark hair and eyes. "I received a telegram from his wife last night that he hadn't been in contact with her in over two weeks."

"So? Perhaps he was busy," Warthrop looked bored and was leaning against his walking stick. 

"He told his wife to contact me if she didn't hear from him in two weeks. She waited an extra three days if anything happened to come through. She has young children to raise!"

"What were the four men doing?" This seemed more like a chore to Warthrop than anything else.

"Betts went down to Veracruz, Mexico first. After contact with him was lost both Christiansen and Kane went down to see what had happened. They also never made it back to the city, so Montague went down."

"So I'm your last line of defense? What was Betts even looking for in Mexico? The Chupacabra?" 

"Cipactli." Walker frowned at his obvious jab at Betts' intelligence. 

"What?" 

Walker began to respond, "I don't kn-"

"It means "Crocodile." It's an old Aztec legend. The crocodile with never ending hunger and a thousand mouths." Elliot responded, still studying her surroundings as if completely uninterested in the conversation. Her back was towards the rest of us but her voice echoed clearly through the large room. Walker jumped at the sudden interruption and turned his attention back to Warthrop.

"Who is this?!" he practically screamed, his face was turning red out of anger or embarrassment, I do not know. von Helrung had to suppress a chuckle and gave Warthrop a look that read like 'I told you so!''

"Elliot turn around and face us," Warthrop demanded, eyes locked with Walker's, "introduce yourself." As she did, all of the color drained from Walker's face and he looked torn between horror and confusion. He knew exactly who she was and no one even had to tell him. 

"You do look like a rat! I was honestly too scared to look, but he was right! Pleasure to meet you Ratface, I'm Elliot." She extended her hand out for him to shake as his mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. Walker didn't take her hand so she shrugged and went back to studying her surroundings. 

"Are you planning to stand there and gape at us all day or will you tell us how this involves me?" Warthrop finally asked after about half a minute. Walker shook his head, cleared his throat and stood up straight, an attempt to regain his composure.

"We would like to ask you to go down there and retrieve the four missing men or at least tell us what became of them."

"I can tell you exactly what happened to them right now. As Elliot said, Cipactli means crocodile, so they were probably all attacked by one and met an untimely demise. Good day." With that he turned around to leave.

"None of the caiman are big enough to eat four men in three months! It's improbable! And I refuse to believe four of our strongest men were eaten by a five foot long lizard!"

"Are any of you incapable of going down there yourselves to look for them? Why must it always be me who runs the Society's errands?"

Finally, Walker gave in. "You are the only one who I believe is skilled enough to pull this off." 

"Ah," Warthrop smiled and nodded, "there it is. Find someone else, men. Again, good day." 

"Does the fact that these men had families mean nothing to you?" The tall man from earlier asked him, earnestly. 

"Did my daughter not introduce herself properly, or does she have to again?" Warthrop retorted, clearly past the brink of irritation. I was as shocked as the four men in front of me, but for different reasons. I never would have believed in a thousand years that Warthrop would introduce her as his daughter to anyone else, especially not Society members.

Walker looked as if he were about to faint."Daughter?" He finally managed to get out, voice cracking. I couldn't tell if he was more shocked by Warthrop's admission or the fact that a woman was wearing men's clothes. Elliot smiled at them and opened her arms wide while Warthrop pinched his nose in frustration.

"Walker, I truly have no idea how you have gotten anywhere in life. It's seriously like running in circles with you and someone is bound to get sick and vomit."

Attempting to regain his composure once again Walker continued. "We have pooled together a hefty sum of money as payment." 

"Money has no appeal to me, you know this." Elliot raised her eyebrows at her father. 

"You will be regaled as one of the forefathers of Monstrumology if you succeed in solving what has happened to these men." Walker tried yet again to pique his interested, and this time he was successful. "The Russians are after this too, and we can't let them get their hands on whatever this could be."

"Fine. I will be back by late August at the latest with an answer, but I believe we already know what it is. Good day, sirs." With that he made his departure, the rest of us following him, yet again, into the unknown. 

Chapter Text

We were waiting in the main room waiting for von Helrung who had stayed behind to gather more information from Walker about the Cipactli when Warthrop spoke, breaking the heavy silence that had settled around us.

"How did you know that?" He didn't have to elaborate. He wouldn't even spare Elliot a glance, preferring, instead, to gaze out of a window as if he had never seen rain before.

"Jack used to tell me stories of monsters from all over the world before I would go to bed. The Cipactli was my favorite. The Aztecs believed that the gods used it's back to form the world, it's head for the heavens, and it's tail for the underworld." She was studying her nails, seeming almost as uninterested in him as he was in her. "You know," she looked up at her father and gave him that same invisible dare, "you still haven't told me his address. Although, I am surprised that he hasn't written me yet either, he must be incredibly busy." 

He hummed a small "Yes, he must be," under his breath. It seemed that he was trying to avoid telling her what I had done by avoiding the subject altogether. Elliot, however was much more persistent than he had hoped. 

"He wasn't present at my graduation either, something I was entirely surprised by. I never expected you to show up," he winced, "but Jack promised to be there. Elisabeth told me hadn't even sent her a letter. I believe something is wrong." Little did she know, something was wrong as his body was rotting in the open sun at the top of the world, Socotra, the Isle of Blood. He was nothing but bone now, white from exposure to the sun, a single bullet in his skull. I had put that there, to save us. At least, that's what I told myself. I still don't know if I believe my own lie. The monstrumologist avoided her gaze and hummed again in response. As if God heard Warthrop's silent plea, at that precise moment von Helrung decided to grace us with his presence to distract us all from the matter at hand. Warthrop spoke first, eager to change the subject and dispel the tension in the room.

"Why are the Russians involved? What could they possibly want with a mythical sea creature?" 

"The Russians aren't the only ones involved Pellinore, the French are too." 

"Of course they are," he groaned and ran his hand down his face. The all too familiar dark circles had already begun to form under his eyes. It seemed like they never fully went away. "That still doesn't explain why they're so interested in a crocodile."

"We don't know, nor do we know much about this..." von Helrung looked over at Elliot," what was it again, my dear?"

 She smiled at him before responding, "Cipactli." She was pleased that a man who was much more well educated than her was asking for her knowledge and expertise on a subject. 

"Yes, that." We began to make our way outside, where the rain had begun to come down harder, making it difficult to see very far. Our party hid from the downpour under a small awning outside of the Society, waiting for a cab. 

"Will Henry and I will leave for Veracruz tonight. I would like to have this matter of business over as soon as possible." A cab pulled up to the curb. Elliot looked down at her feet, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. von Helrung shook his head, and began to argue with his former student. 

"Just you two? Elliot knows more on this 'matter of business' than even you. I believe it would be beneficial-"

"What she knows is a myth, one Will Henry or I could read about and be as knowledgeable on in less than 30 minutes." He stepped up into the cab followed by von Helrung. Elliot was looking down the street, as if searching for something, with her arms crossed. Suddenly, she pushed past me and into the cab sitting next to von Helrung. Her arms were still crossed and her eyes were cast down, staring lifelessly at her lap. She didn't look up once the entire trip back to von Helrung's estate. 

***

It only took me 20 minutes to pack everything. Elliot sat on her bed, the journal opened to the drawing of her father on her lap. She stayed silent the entire time, occasionally sniffling and wiping small tears that would escape her eyes. 

"You're ruining your picture," I placed my bag down and closed the journal for her. I was never good at comforting anyone, I usually let anger overtake my emotions first. Seeing her broken like this made me angry for her but there was nothing I could do. 

"I don't mind, I can always draw another one."

"Why don't you show him that, I'm sure he would be flattered." 

Elliot looked up at me and smiled weakly, "No, he wouldn't, but thank you for trying to make me feel better anyways." Suddenly a shrill 'Will Henry!' could be heard from the foyer and I quickly made my way toward the door, not wanting the monstrumologist to have to wait on me. I knew he was already tense and on edge, and I did not want to be another twig to add to that already burning flame.

"I suppose I will see you in a month or so, William. Good luck," she gave me a small sad smile.

"Goodbye Elliot." I shut the door, picking up my pace as to not keep the doctor waiting and testing his patience. I found him directly in front of the door with his hands behind his back, tapping his foot impatiently on the marble floor.

"Will Henry, it took you long enough. Were you packing for a six month sabbatical in Morocco?" 

"No sir."

"No? Then what was the cause of your delay? You know we have much to do, correct?"

"Yes sir." Warthrop groaned and rolled his eyes before picking up his two bags and walking outside where a cab was waiting for us. It seemed the rain had subsided somewhat, but it was still coming down in sheets. We settled in for the short trip to the train station, which was ridden in complete silence. I often ask myself nowadays, how my mind had not completely gone mad from boredom in and of itself. I took many a long and treacherous journey with this man, almost always in complete silence, and I was content to sit and think. I can't believe that I had that much to sit and think about then, I was but a boy, and for all that I knew, I learned more and more every single day. Now, sitting here, writing this, I remember everything I would much rather forget. Every detail that plagues me as I sleep, every word spoken to me in that dry, monotonous tone, every single mistake that I have made. We are doomed to remember. Perhaps, the greatest curse given to us in the Garden of Eden, is our inability to ever forget. 

We were two hours into a three day train ride when Warthrop finally spoke again. He was gazing out of the window, although he was staring at his own reflection. He was met by impossibly dark and sunken eyes, a hollow face, and unkempt hair. "When she was born, I was relieved that I had a daughter. I didn't believe that Muriel or I could've handled her if she were a boy." He hadn't mentioned to me that Muriel was Elliot's mother yet, and I was surprised that he was doing so now, or at all. Perhaps he knew that Elliot had already told me."We had decided on a name before she was born, however. Elliot was her father's name, and she claimed that even if the baby was a girl, she could go by Elli for short. I agreed, I was never good with names anyways, and truth be told, that really didn't matter to me. Jean was my mother's middle name though, and I had wanted to give Elliot just a small gift for the wretched world that I had forced her to enter. I could never have anticipated that Elliot would be such a handful. I hoped that she would, perhaps, inherit her mother's gentleness and kindness. No," he laughed, however, it was entirely humorless and it sounded more like a strangled cough than a laugh, "she inherited almost everything that was me. Except for those eyes. They are a constant reminder of what I couldn't save." He finally turned and looked at me and I had trouble keeping his intense gaze. "Every single time I look at her I am forced to remember what I took from this world, and that I have given nothing back." He was having one of his sudden bouts of depression and self-doubt. 

"That's not true, you have given much back," I always tried to appease him even though I knew it never worked. He only scoffed at me and turned back towards the window. 

"From dust to dust, Will Henry. From dust man came, and to dust we shall return. Do you know what that is from?" He made a quick glance my way as if to make sure I was listening. I always was.

"It's from the Bible. Genesis 3." My mother used to take me to church every Sunday and she made me memorize many verses from the book. 

"Oh so you are good for something. I was beginning to worry." His tone was nothing but sarcastic and I huffed in frustration.

"Why are you telling me all of this?" I was genuinely curious as to why he was entrusting me with information he had kept so secretive in the past. 

"Why not?" He finally turned his entire body my direction. "Did you expect me to keep my entire life a secret from you forever?" For a brief and fleeting moment I was met with that same invisible dare that I had so often seen Elliot give him.

"Oh no, sir," it was now my turn to be sarcastic, "I just had no idea we were keeping secrets from one another." 

"It would seem that you have been spending too much time with Elliot," his eyebrows were raised in surprise, but I, surprisingly, saw no hints of anger.

"You said it yourself, she inherited everything that was you." I had reached a breaking point with him. I was almost 16 years old and he still treated me as a child. He treated me as a child until the day he died, though. 

"She did," he hummed lowly before standing up and making his way towards our private car. "Let's sleep now, Will Henry, I doubt we'll get much in the coming weeks." He was right. We would not, although I believe, we hardly ever did even when we weren't out on a journey. 

That night, the monstrumologist fell asleep rather quickly, his soft snoring filled the small cabin, which made it difficult for me to fall asleep. I tossed and turned all night, letting my mind wander back and forth. What was Elli going to do now that we were gone? von Helrung had said something about her beginning her studies under him. Would he follow through? I finally fell asleep thinking of Elliot Warthrop and Jack Kearns. 

***

 

I woke the next morning too early for my taste. My mouth was dry, I must have slept with it open, my head was pounding, and my eyes were watery. I found it hard to breathe through my nose, (was I sick?) and the room was empty. Right as I had finished buttoning my shirt, which I had finally learned to do quickly, the door burst open. 

"Oh good, you're up. Breakfast has just started and I am absolutely famished." It was Warthrop, unsurprisingly, and he was already dressed and cleanly shaven. His hair was somewhat tidied, and he seemed well and put together. I nodded and quickly pulled my boots on. "Are those getting too small? When we return run to the shoe maker's and get yourself a new pair." Again, I nodded, finishing lacing them up. He was in a rather particular mood this morning, one I could not explain. "Will Henry?" He questioned.

"Yes?" I stood up and brushed my shirt off, trying to dispel any wrinkles from it. It was for naught though, it seemed as if wrinkles followed me wherever I went.

"Are you sick? Do you have a cold?" He cupped my face with one of his long hands and studied my face. "Your eyes are red and watery and your sinuses are swollen. Although, it could just be allergies." I brushed his hand away and nodded yet again, agreeing with him that it was just allergies. He was acting like my mother and I found it to be both disconcerting and uncomfortable. "Right then." He cleared his throat. "On to breakfast." Again, I agreed.

Breakfast, I particularly enjoyed. We had eggs, flapjacks, toast, bacon, ham, and sausage, jam and other assortments of spreads, along with breakfast potatoes and biscuits with gravy. I dug right into the meal with earnest and so did the doctor. Usually he would have scolded my actions and berate my gluttony, yet he, quite literally, could not speak on the topic. Both of our mouths were full of food. It reminded me of our train ride to Rat Portage. What was he thinking of the journey still ahead of us? As if reading my thoughts he wiped his mouth off, finished his tea and spoke.

"When we arrive in Veracruz the first thing we must do is send a telegraph to von Helrung and Elliot letting them know of our safe arrival. Then we must find a willing guide and translator to take us to the last known place that the four men were seen. I'm assuming it must have been a small village in the jungle. I doubt the entire wretched affair will take more than a week at most, Will Henry. You and I both already know what became of the men, my only interest is in why the Russians and French are after this as well. It makes no sense that they would be going after a mythical beast."

"Well, there was the Isle of Blood, sir." I tried to offer an explanation as best as I could.

"Are you mocking me, Will Henry?"

"No, sir, I am merely stating a fact." 

He sighed and ran his hand through his wild locks. "I cannot suffer another such embarrassment. This time it will be different. There is nothing to be found here and no such creature as this Cipactli exists. I will prove that beyond a doubt." And that he would.