Dabblers Prose in The Casebook of Adolphus Raven | World Anvil


On a night when a foul fog smothered London a sizeable group of London's constabularly were gathered outside the Plummer Theatre in Soho. There was twelve in total and all of them looked like men who very, very much wished to be elsewhere.

Sergeant Greaves kept glancing at the double doors that led inside the old run down building as if he expected them to burst open any moment. "Where the hell is this specalist?" he said, taking a long drag of his cigarett with shaking hands.

Inspector Bancroft glanced at the short stocky sergeant and tried not to sound as worried as he did. "He'll be here soon, sergeant."

Silence descended until the sergeant spoke again.

"You work with him before sir?" he asked.

"Twice," the Inspector said.

"Were they like this one?" the sergeant pressed.

The Inspector looked at the theatre and sighed. "Unfortunately... yes."

"God save us," the sergant muttered.

I bloody hope so, the Inspector added silently.

Both men heard approaching footsteps and turned to see a figure emerge from the gloom. It was a man of middling height, scruffy, clad in a greatcoat and bowler hat. He carried a surgeon's bag in one hand and a stout cane in the other. The Inspector sighed in relief.

"Adolphus... you took your bloody time," he said to disguise his relief at seeing the man.

"Not my problem I was halfway across the bloody city when I got your message," Adolphus Raven replied.

"Well, you're here now. This is... its a bad one Adolphus."

"Hang on, this is who we've been waiting for?" the sergeant interrupted. He was not sure what he was expecting, but this scruffy fellow was not it.

"Adolphus Raven, at your service," Adolphus said to the sergeant, ignoring the rude remark. "Now Inspector, what's going on?"

"This place has been owned by the Enlightened Brethren of the Moon Goddess for the past year," the Inspector said not even bothering to hide his contempt. He was glad to get on it. "Bunch of idiots wearing masks and worshipping some ancient God. About a dozen or so members. They meet here once or twice a week. Odd by all accounts but no problems. Until tonight. Residents and passers bys heard a lot of screaming coming from inside and reported it. Young Scrivens over there," the Inspector pointed to a young constable who wa pale and shaking, "was the first on the scene and he went inside."

Adolphus listened intently. "And I take it he came running out and kept blowing the whistle until half of London's coppers showed up?"

"Just about," the Inspector replied. "Some went in and came straight back out."

"Have you and the sergeant been in?" Adolphus pressed.

"Aye," the sergeant said with a haunted look.

"As the sergeant says," Inspector Bancroft said.

"What did you see?"

"Darkness... just bloody darkness," the sergeant said, his composure faltering. "But it... it was like it were alive." He took another drag of his cigarette. "And there was this... whispering 'an all.

Adolphus glanced at the Inspector who nodded confirmation. Adolphus sighed. "All right. Inspector, tell your lads to stand down. I'll take from it here."

Adolphus began to walk toward the entrance. He spared the pale Scriven's a look, noting the pool of vomit at his feet.

Poor sods going to be haunted by this for years, he thought.

"Hang about, he's going in there on his own?" the sergeant asked. He did not want to volunteer to accompany Adolphus of course.

"He's the specialist, sergeant. Its down to him now."

"Who is he sir?"

"There are things you don't want the answers to, sergeant. Whatever the hell happened in this bloody place is one of them. Adolphus is the one who... cleans up certain messes we can't."

Adolphus opened the door to the theatre. The assembled Police peered in over his shoulders. "Bloody dabblers," he muttered before stepping over the threshold and closing the door behind him.


Within the foyer Adolphus stopped. Before him a wall of darkness stood, tendrils of inky black snaking outward across the floor, walls and cieling.

"Well, well, well... this is interesting," he said. He propped his cane against wall and put his satchel down and opened it. From within he lifted out a small lantern. He held the lantern close to his face and whispered to it, the words tumbling over one another until a tiny white spark erupted within and grew to a small flame, casting a silvery light about the scene. The darkness recoiled away from the light.

"There we go," he said. He stepped forward, tentative at first, testing the lanterns potency. The light from the lantern created a bubble around him that repelled the roiling darkness, allowing him ingress further.

He walked onward, the darkness closing in all around him but unable to pass the light from the lantern. He could hear the whsipering, a soft sussuration in a tone too low to comprehend.

"No wonder the coppers didn't want to go much further," he muttered. Even though the lantern protected him, Adolphus could still feel the malevolance emnating from the darkness. It was, as the sergeant said, almost a living thing. A very wicked, hungry living thing.

He soon reached the large red double door leading to the auditorium. He cracked his heck, rolled his shoulders and pushed them open.

The auditorium of the Plummer Theatre was small, barely fifty seats. He passed through the black ocean through the aisle between the seats and drew closer to the stage. He passed several bodies clad in purple robes; the forms within emaciated, drained. The few who had died on their backs had expressions frozen in absolute horro, their skin pulled taut over their skeletons.

"Someone was hungry," he said without much pity.

He stopped then and put the lantern down. Then from one of the many pockets of his greatcoat he pulled out an amulet; a crystal encased in gold connected to a stout iron chain. This he held aloft and again muttered words of power. The amulet flared to life, a bright white light that built in intensity before pulsing, driving back the darkness to reveal the stage before him. More bodies were strewn about the place.

And at the centre of the stage a nightmare made flesh crouched over the body of someone more grandly attired.

"Hello there," Adolphus said matter of factly to the abomination.

It had antlers, its body thin and wirry and far taller than any human. Black coarse hair hung from its oversized head and though Adolphus could see no eyes, it certainly had teeth. A large mouth with oversized teeth grinned at him, Adolphus noticed a tendril connected the monster to the mouth of the grandly dressed body at its hooves.

"I take it that was the leader of this little cult?" Adolphus said lowering the amulet and placing it around his neck. He reached into his pocket and took out a cigarette case out of another pocket, took out a cigarette and placed it between his lips. He cupped his hands around it and the tip burst into flame before dying to a smoulder.

"WHO ARE THEE?" the nightmare enquired though its lipless mouth did not move. "WHY DOST THOU NOT SHOW FEAR OR OBESIANCE?"

"Oh, I don't go in for all that. Once you meet one God you've probably met them all. And I've met a few," Adolphus said taking a few drags on the cigarette. He took the cigarette out and pointed it at the nightmare. "I'm Adolphus Raven." He watched, hoping perhaps for some recognition.


"Yes, yes. You have a great many names. And I bet our primitive ancestors used to smash each others in and tear out their hearts in their worship of you. Did rivers of blood flow? Did you sup on the blood and flesh of the sweetest innocents?"

"YOU MOCK ME!" the nightmare said rising to its fullest height.

"I do," Adolphus said cheerfully. "Like I said, you're nothing special. Gods of the Moon, the Oceans... the darkness. Things of stygian depths and outer worlds. And I've seen a lot of things a lot bloody scarier than you luv'."

The nightmare hissed. Adolphus noticed it was straining at the tether still connecting it to the body.

"So what happened? These silly sods attempted a summoning ritual. Mr cult leader there you're stuck to ballsed up somewhere along the way and you saw a chance to invade our reality. Unfortunately there was just not enough cult members to allow you a full manifestation so now you're stuck here. Bet you thought when those coppers arrived you had an easy meal yeah?"


"Let me stop you right there luv. I'm sure one of these bloody idiots would have jumped at the chance to be your right hand of doom but not me. I've seen the evil and horror things like you can inflict on this world and trust me there's enough evil and suffering perpetrated by perfectly ordinary folks already. London's practically drowning sin and the majority of that is human made." He took another drag of the cigarette. "And besides, you'd quickly find yourself being a very small fish in an awfully big pond. I don't know your origins but I guarantee you there are things in this world right now that would not take kindly to something like you appearing on their patch."

The nightmare stared without eyes at Adolphus, anger radiating almost visibly. "AND SO WHAT DOST THOUGH INTEND LITTLE SORCERER? THY FLAME SHALL SOON DIE AND THY TRINKET WILL NOT BE ENOUGH TO PROTECT YOU FROM MY DARKNESS? I SHALL CONSUME YOUR SOUL AND YOU SHALL FILL ME ENOUGH TO LEAVE THIS PLACE, LITTLE SORCERER," a long forked tongue poked out from between the teeth obscenly.

"Bloody good point my dear. So. let's get on with things shall we?" Adolphus grinned and flicked the cigarette at the nightmare. He muttered more words of power and the smouldering ember of the cigarette burst into a fireball that engulfed the nightmare and its tethered corpse. It screeched and Adolphus winced, the sound like nails in his head.

The nightmare was not visibly hurt by the fire. But as for the body it was connected to, its gateway to this world?

The flames consumed it voraciously and as the body was burnt it weakened the connection betwixt it and the dark moon goddess.

"That cigarette was something of my concotion, a few herbs that things like you just don't like too much. With a little magic to make things interesting. Honestly, its working better than I thought," Adolphus said, trying not to gloat.

The nightmare screamed and lunged forward just as the body was utterly consumed by flame. The nightmare thinned, becoming as smoke and then was gone and with it the inky blackness too.

On the stage the fire died out, leaving naught but ash.

Adolphus heaved a sigh of relief. He took the amulet from around his neck and watched the light fade away. The lantern at his feet had gone out a short while before. "Well, that was a bloody close one," he said. "I did not think would work."

He heard a door open and turned to see the Inspector and the sergeant enter.

"What the bloody hell happened here?" the Inspector demanded.

"Silly sods playing with things they don't understand, inspector, nothing more," Adolphus said picking up the lantern. "Not the first and these days they won't be the last."

"But... but... the darkness? That whispering?" the sergeant said.

Adolphus looked at the man, seeing him poised on the brink of the abyss. He had seen something quite beyond his capacity to understand. He was close to breaking. "A hallucination brought on by exotic herbs and drugs sergeant, nothing more," Adolphus said not unkindly.

"Really?" the sergeant said. "That... well... explains a lot don't it?" The man seemed relieved. Comforted even. It was a lie so convincing it might even convince himself.

Adolphus stepped past them, patting the man on the shoulder. "That it does. Inspector, you can take over from here."

As Adolphus left the auditorium the Inspector caught up with him. "How are we going to explain the bodies?" he demanded.

"Expsoure to a fatal chemical, I don't bloody know. I've done my part," Adolphus said as he retrieved the doctor's satchel and cane by the door."

"So, what happened in there? really?"

Adolphus sighed and turned to the Inspector. "Do you really want to know?"

The Inspector stared at Adolphus a moment before pursing his lips and nodding. "I don't suppose I do, do I?"

"No you do not. Ignorance is bliss after all."

Adolphus pulled the doors open and stepped out into the foggy night. The assembled constables were hovering close by. "All right lads, in you go. Its safe now," he said setting off into the murky night.

He strolled along the street, tapping his cane.

"Aye, there's enough evil in this bloody world already," he muttered before whistling a cheerful tune and heading home.


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