Chapter 6

Misplaced Hands

James ran closer to the action, trying to get close enough to protect Maxie. However, the Hound pounced on her before he could reach. It knocked her to the ground, and Edward drew his cutlass. Maxie tried to get her shield up, but was too distracted. James finally got close enough to wedge himself between the Hound and Maxie, shoving the sewer grate in the Hound’s line of attack. Biting down on the cast iron, the Hound lost a tooth. It quickly melted away into shadow and appeared back in its mouth. The bite also mangled James’s hand. Edward swung at the Hound’s torso, dealing some damage, and Maxie fatigued it. James hit the Hound with the grate, knocking its jaw loose for a moment. Maxie rolled out from beneath the battle, and gave Edward an opening to swing at the Hound’s skull. The skeletal thing started leaking shadows, and James got out from under it as well. He noticed that the vitals were visible and exposed, and so he prepared his shotgun. The Hound switched its attention to Edward and latched on to his torso. Edward grabbed hold of its neck and squeezed, separating the head from the rest of the body as his fingers oozed through the Hound’s shadowy body. Maxie tried to keep the head too tired to do anything, as it still showed signs of life. James blasted the body with his shotgun, revealing its capabilities: after putting significant effort into it, he could force each pellet to hit a single target, ripping it apart. The vitals were punctured, but the body got up and reattached itself to the head. Edward squeezed it off again, and Maxie telekinetically threw the body into a far wall. James shot it again, missing a few pellets because of the range. It staggered and faded away, reappearing attached to its head. Unfortunately, Edward was trying to remove the head from his body, and his hand was trapped in the shadow fibers of the Hound’s neck. Maxie weakened the Hound, allowing Edward to pull his hand free, and James put another volley of pellets into the Hound’s heart. Maxie threw it again, at a closer wall, and it melted away into shadow. The pools of shadow it had left all dissipated, sinking into the London streets.
Hurt, James asked Edward to take him to the same doctor he had given David. Edward lingered outside the townhouse, saying that the doctor was probably busy with David, until a nebbishy man opened the door and invited them in. He said is name was Marco, and he assigned each person a room. A huge Union Jack covered the ceiling of he wide hallway, and there were several doors leading to each side room. Edward was bandaged by a man named Isaac, and Marco healed his wounds. Maxie was led to a room with an adoring fan. And James was taken to a back room where Marco tried to get James to let himself be fixed, both physically and mentally. James allowed Marco to heal his hand, but wouldn’t allow his mind to be linked. Realizing that Marco had been lying for several minutes, James tried to get everyone to leave. Edward joined him, but there was someone standing in front of Maxie’s door. James walked through the illusory guard and found an empty room. Edward found a secret door behind a bookcase and descended into the dark basement. James followed, but Edward tripped and fell, making quite a bit of noise on his way down. James lightly stepped over the giant at the bottom, and felt the walls to find a large room with a table in it. Maxie woke to the sound of Edward’s fall, and was surprised when James touched her leg. She asked to be untied, and, trying to find the ropes, James accidentally found his hand between her legs. Red-faced, he rectified his mistake and untied her. She found she was still too tired to move much after that fight, and Edward carried her away. James found a light switch, and flicked it on to see a group of thirty-two people in black robes surrounding them. Edward pushed his way through them, and found thirty-two more figures on the steps out. James didn’t quite believe they were real, and walked through the circle. Maxie flung several off the steps and they disappeared, further validating James’s conclusion. They all walked out of the basement before remembering about David. Maxie offered to stay outside while the men went back. James found Isaac and asked about the basement, and Marco. Isaac claimed not to know anything about the basement, or anyone named Marco. James turned on Edward then, as the giant has brought them to this place. Edward defended himself, claiming ignorance of the cult in the basement.
Heading back downstairs, James inspected the table Maxie had been laying on. It was covered in fresh blood, and the blood trail clearly led to a small door on the other side of the chamber. Edward opened it to find David’s body slumped in a narrow closet. James knelt down to determine that the cause of death was likely internal bleeding due to blunt trauma, and David’s eyes opened. They were solid black. James punched the dead man, but his mouth opened like the Hound’s. It closed on James’s hand, and severed it at the wrist. Edward slashed at the creature’s stomach, and the hand fell onto the floor. Maxie, drawn back into the house by the continued whispers of “Come back”, heard James’s scream and ran down the steps to the basement. James tried vainly to reattach his hand, and Edward swung his sword at David again. As Maxie rounded the corner to see the scene before her, she slammed the dead man’s head back into the wall. It collapsed, a black splatter spread across the back wall, and he raised his hand at her and screamed an unearthly howl. His head whipped forward, and he yelled, “Ryder! Come back…”


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