He opened the drawer with a renewed interest. Once again the first drawer showed a mass of rambling writing. Now he recognised the symbols as those of alchemical ones as well as pentagrams and such. None of this equated to much within Brakkens logical mind. It merely showed obsession, possibly insanity to some degree. However what did intrigue him was a small leatherbound book. Each small page brimmed with shorthand and it took him a while to decipher it. For the moment however, he placed it on the bed. The second drawer held blank parhment with quills and ink pots and in the third drawer, a silver letter opener. Brakken took these, just in case.
He moved to the wardrobe and opened the oak doors. Rifling through the clothes, again there was little of interest. But at the base of the wardrobe was a silver key, a skeleton key and a small pouch. He opened it to reveal a handful of poundcoins. At least Fifty Pounds, or so it felt.
He hesitated to take it, pondering as to whether it had been meant for him. It didn't take long to decide.
For a moment he looked around the room, then fell to the floor to peek under the bed. There was an array of police equipment. A badge and uniform. He took the badge happily then once again stood up and looked around. He was slightly disappointed. Part of him had expected a fantastic item of wonder. But then again, knowledge was power, and maybe the notebook heralded some clues as to what exactly he was dealing with. He moved over to the window, from it he had a view of the pathway that led down the cliff. He was about to move away when a light caught his eyes.
It bobbed for a while, then stood still. Suddenly the light was a blur, a trail creating intricate patterns that to the untrained eye meant nothing. But Brakken wasn't untrained, for he had seen this happen before. From what his mind could dredge up, it was a sign for letting somebody know they were there and if it was done. But what, and who?
His nose touched the cold window as he stared intently at the figure. So in rapture of it that he almost missed the answering flashes of light. The answer said yes. The lights disappeared. Brakken waited for a while but nobody came back.
His curiosity truly piqued, he left the room and went back downstairs to join the party.
It was an old technique, using light to tell messages that would look like somebody swinging light around nonsensically. A useful technique he'd learned in Europe and used effectively. But the messages, "is it done?" and "yes" was what done?
He knew that he possessed the answer somewhere. It should have been obvious but the more he tried to think the more his mind throbbed with a persistent ache in the head. There was nought to do but dull the pain with ale.
Once more night began to fall on the assembled crowd as one by one they left the hearth to enter their rooms. First to leave was Whitely, the last Brakken, who had sat at his alcove and obesrved their patterns. At some point, the Maid, carrying some large item, moved directly to the Lady and the pair left the room. When nothing else of interest occurred, his mind fell upon his future. Not as some pretentious protector, he could not begin to express his disdain for the idea, but what his next move would be. One thing he knew as a certainty was that he needed money. The wealth received from his inheritance could only last so long, most of it squandered on travel and trinkets of intrigue and value. Money was always an issue, an anchor in what many perceived as normal life.
Of course their were many favours he had acquired over the years. It had been in Brakken's best interest to make connections for his future plans... to be the dominant power of Great Britain. Though how he was to become this he knew not. Should he enter politics... he had charm and charisma, when it suited him and he could lie very well after all. But politics was a long, arduous journey and there were all those Whigs and Tories. Alternatively he could enter the field of crime, the respective money and fear gained would lead to a power that no man would challenge and he knew he had the ruthlessness within him to get what he wanted. Then there was business and other such possibilities. But this was far too distant to think on now. Whatever he would do, he knew he would need money, and pretty soon. Cogs turned in his mind, information and observations he had gathered in this tavern came to mind. And now, a plan was forming in his mind.
"Give us a story Eli, before I build myself a bloody tombstone," the mason growled.
Brakken was surprised to see them refer to the Tracker by name, and so was he. Sure the man had shared the odd tale now and then but even Eli looked surprised.
"Heh oh aye. Well once time me and my gal Silver--" she barked "--were hunting what we could to sell at a lil' ol' village during the coming of a winter in Germany. We hadn't had a good haul, it had been one of the coldest winters I remember so all God's creatures where holed up in their burrows. Well we were going this way and that and hit some big rocky hills right when a blizzard started up. I tell you now, you lot nag the ears offa my head when a lil' chill wind kisses your face. But that was some real cold. Had us trapped it did and we had to light fires from out arses and eat whatever berries we could for three days an' two nights. Daytimes were spent hunting for food and wood in the cold, nights were for lighting what fire we could an' sleeping by each other to keep warm. Aye me an' Silver have been through some grim times. The last night I could barely stand. The cold had turned a finger an' two toes black an' all I wanted to do was sleep. So when the snow had cleared some, Silver dragged me to that village. Owe 'er my life seventy times over, I do."
As the moon ascended half way up the pitch black sky, Mr Lord locked the front door and the patrons took this as a sign to retire.
Meanwhile in his room sat Whitely, eyes wide open and bloodshot. He had waited a long time to hear the familiar clunk, clunk, clunk of the Landlords feet on the stairs signifying the closure of the tavern. He waited a further hour, till the moon was now high in the sky so that it was but a small eye in the far distance, before getting up and putting on his travel clothes. In that time his mind continued to orbit the same continuous fact. He was a criminal, he was the potential victim for the hunter and sooner or later it would come for him. He needed salvation to cleanse himself. The Inspector had been that for him but now he was dead and there was nothing stopping him from being another body in the morning. He could not avoid what had happened, nor less what would inevitably happen. His last hope of redemption now lay dead on a rock, drifting in the winds, shattered into millions of minute pieces. That was why head had no choice but to follow his instinct.
And so after all the inhabitants had fallen asleep, their snoring like the crescendo at an opera, he crept into Inspector Wards' room and opened the wardrobe. He knelt down on the floor and felt the base, his fingers scrambling along the rought edges until he felt the grooves on either side. He fumbled for a moment before gaining a tentative grip on the wood. But it wasnt enough and crashed loudly down again.
His head whipped round to the door, as if somebody had been waiting for him to make that noise. But there was no noise, nothing stirred.
Content that his foolishness had not awoken the people, he tried again. This time he lifted it up and quickly manouvered his fingers to get a better grip. He pulled it out and looked underneath. On the mouldy, dusty floor beneath lay a silver pistol with silver bullets in a holster, tethered to a belt. Victoriously, he took it and put it on. He took the gun out, the hilt inscribed with Ward and pointed it at the door experimentally.
With this done, he left the room, tiptoeing down the stairs. he knew he had to be quiet, he knew that somebody may try to stop him or accuse him of attemptin to commit some crime, this he simply could not have.
So without hesitation, he moved quickly and silently to the door and took the key of the hook. He placed it in the lock, careful to make minimal sound against the rusty metal.
He looked behind him. Nobody was there. He turned the key. Slowly he opened the door which creaked alarmingly. Again he looked around him. Nothing. And so he faced the cool, calm breeze that gently carressed his face. His stomach squirmed a little, the coward withing him screamed at his to go back. He tensed and took a step out of the door. As he did so the door slammed shut behind him. He sighed, his body shaking with fear. And all around him, the dark trees and glowing eyes of midnight denizens glared at him, laughed at him.