Accused

Fiction detailing the ongoing events on the Homeline and numerous parallel Worldlines.

Moderators: Podmore, arcanus, Otto

Post Reply
Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:33 pm

Etheria 3. London – 1990.

The sound of iron shod hooves clattering noisily on slick granite cobbles echoed off the tall Victorian buildings that lined either side of a deserted and dark Newgate Street.
Ether-gas lams lit the street every 50 yards of so, leaving much of the street between in darkness.
Steel rimmed wheels bounced and rumbled along behind the hooves as the sleek black carriage followed behind the four beautiful white horses so that the overall sound was like thunder.
The horses looked fresh and eager despite their treacherously fast dash across midnight London.
The domed roof of The Old Bailey silhouetted against the dim glow of the city on the underside of low hanging clouds loomed into view and the driver pulled back on the reigns slowing the four mares to a brisk trot and eventually stopping at the huge arched gates of the prison that sat at the junction of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Road.
One of the two coachmen dismounted and pulled open the carriage door, standing attentively to the side while holding the door still.
A woman in her early thirties alighted. She was tall, her skin fair and her face classically beautiful. She wore an aqua coloured satin dress adorned with black lace that accented the many folds and tucks in the dress. Her fair hair was long but worn pinned up upon her head in many twists and swirls.
A matching aqua coloured hat, small and trimmed with black lace, perched upon the side of the hair-do, itself pinned in place to prevent it falling from its precarious position.
She had taken no more than three paces from the carriage when a heavy iron-clad door was pulled open casting a bright rectangle onto the slate flagstones of the pavement.
A prison guard, menacing in shades of black welcomed the woman with a silent bow and bade her follow him.
She was led through a high-walled courtyard towards the warm rectangular glows of the window in the building to the left of the entrance.
There, another man, this one in his late fifties, grey thinning hair, bushy moustache that would have been fashionable twenty years earlier and fine dark suit, awaited her.
“I wish to see my brother,” the woman announced before pleasantry exchanges could waste any more time.
The moustached man sniffed and chewed his cheek for a moment.
“My Lady,” he replied in a tone of syrupy dismissiveness that made the woman’s back stiffen and jaw clench. “If you had called ahead we could have made arrangements for your visit.”
Hands laced together in black silk gloves the woman stayed her anger.
“Sir,” she said calmly and politely, “I have travelled almost two hundred miles without break to be here. I must be allowed to see my brother.”
One corner of the prison wardens mouth turned up in a patronising smile.
“If your Ladyship had called ahead I could have saved you the journey.”
“I would come, no matter your warnings not to, sir!”
Another smirk.
“You misunderstand me madam. I would have saved you the journey here.”
“Will you allow me to see my brother, or not?” the woman interrupted, her anger and desperation making her voice break towards the end.
“No, I will not, madam,” the man growled. “But I am not being awkward. You may not visit your brother in this prison because Lord Reynolds is not here.”
The woman’s mouth hung open wordless and confused. “Not here?”
“No.”
“I,” she blinked rapidly, her shoulders rising and falling rapidly as she fought back tears. “Then perhaps you could inform me as to which gaol I should attend?”
“That madam I cannot say. Perhaps you should address the question to the office if the Lord Chief Justice. Now, I have a prison to run. Good night, Lady Reynolds.”
With that the man shuffled around his desk and fetched a walking cane, then strode purposefully from the room without a backward glance.
Elizabeth Reynolds felt panic rising within her. She swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry and her throat tight.
Turning on her heel she saw the mocking face of a guard awaiting her at the door.

She made it back to the carriage before the tears that were welling in her eyes rolled unchecked down her cheeks.
“Bloody hell, Sebastian,” she cursed at the dark, still night. “Where are you?”

Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

The warden stood in an unlit window overlooking Old Bailey Road. He watched the woman leave, climb into an expensive looking carriage drawn by four rather beautiful white chargers.
He watched it disappear from view.
Without turning he spoke to a deep shadow within the room that lurked just a few feet behind him.
“Is our guest settled?”
“I believe so, sir,” the shadow replied, then added, “He’s had a good welcome so far.”
The warden nodded his acknowledgement. “Not too good a welcome, I hope?”
The shadow gave a small grunt of a chuckle that sounded like he was choking. “He’ll live, sir. For now.”
“Hmmm,” replied the warden thoughtfully. “So he’s settled in is he? Well, send someone to unsettle him. We mustn’t let Lord Reynolds get too comfortable now, must we?”
Another choke of a chuckle.
“Right away, sir.”

Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

The room was spacious; one could easily fit a dozen men within. Its walls were bare stone blocks, the ceiling, bare stone blocks and for variation, the floor was bare stone slabs.
There were no windows, what light there was came from a brazier that burned in the passageway outside and shone in through a square barred opening in the heavy wooden door.
The door had no handle on the inside.
Water slowly seeped down one wall, the one opposite the door, and if anyone ever looked at the plans of the building they would know it was the outer wall of the prison.
Where the water ran, the wall was green with algae.
Once at the floor it pooled and then trickled across the slabs in a steady course towards the door. But, only a couple of feet from its source, the little stream met its first obstacle – a low straw mattress blocked its path. In days gone by the water had slowly collected against the side and crept around.
This of course had only lasted a few moments before the hessian had acted like a sponge and sucked the water in.
Those days had long gone and now the mattress was sodden, green with mould and mildew and stinking like a rotting corpse.
One the other side of the straw bed, free from restriction, the water carried on its merry way towards the door and the passageway beyond.

Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:48 pm

Viscount Sebastian James Ambrose Reynolds and Baron of Roborough didn’t care that the matress was wet, or that it smelled like the dead.
His whole body was aching from the beatings he had received from the prison guards. Despite everything, he felt a glimmer of consolation that they had so far avoided his face. However he also knew that it was only a matter of time.
It wouldn’t do for him, a peer of the realm, and as yet un-convicted to appear before the judge and court with evidence of foul treatment upon his face. No, they would wait until they could officially kick the living daylights out of him.
No one would care if he turned up at the gallows black and blue.

A noise came from somewhere outside the cell.
Reynolds tried to move his head so that he could face the door but his body hurt so badly that he could barely move at all.
More sounds came to him. Heavy boots scraping on bare stone, the same bare flagstones he lay upon.
A metallic scrape, a key going into a lock and clicking as it turned.
Warmer air breezed over him. It smelt strongly of wood smoke and must.
The boots clumped heavily across the flagstones. Two pairs, by Reynolds’ reckoning.
Then there were hands on his arms grabbing him, lifting him.
“On your feet, you murderin’ bastard!” a gruff voice barked at him.
Reynolds felt himself hoisted into a standing position. It was only now he realised he had his eyes shut.
He eased them open, expecting bright light to sting them, but there was only the dim flickering glow from the passageway outside.
The two men how held him now were the same ones that had brought him here.
On, taller and thicker set with greying stubble and a burn scar on the side of his head above his left temple. No hair grew on the scar so it looked like he had shaved in an almost perfect square.
The other had hair cut short, almost to the scalp, was broad across the shoulders like a swimmer and was so tall that he had to duck as he and his partner dragged Reynolds out of the doorway into the warm, smoky passageway outside.
Reynolds checked each way, purely from habit, as it made no odds to him now.
The guards took him to the right, passed three cells similar to his own and entered the fourth.
Both guards were huffing with the exertion of dragging their prisoner.
Reynolds was making no effort to move, meaning that the men either side of him had to carry and drag him the whole fifty yards.
He had tried not to think about what might be happening. His warm welcome this evening had left him sore, aching and very wary. With good cause, he now realised.
The room was very much like the one he had been taken from, except this one was full of stuff. A trough against the wall opposite the door, a heavy looking table covered in dark stains that Reynolds guessed must be blood, shackled pinned with heavy bolts to the wall, another old looking table covered in what looked to be medieval instruments of torture.
Now panic rose in Reynolds and he fought against his captors grasp.

Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:28 pm

He would likely have struggled in a contest of strength against just one of these men on a normal day. Today, weakened and tired his resistance just made the men laugh.
“Well now,” one of the chuckled. “His high-and-mightyness seems to be a hot one all of a sudden! Needs cooling off mat, don’t you think?”
“Aye,” the other replied flatly.
They heaved him towards the trough. Reynolds struggled against them but resisting proved useless.
He saw the dark water, his own refection a tramp glaring at him.
He managed to suck in a huge gulp of air before they shoved his head into the cold dark water.
They held him there as he struggled but very quickly he stopped resisting. Even in this state he still realised that struggling would burn energy, use up the oxygen in hi blood quicker.
His lungs burned as the poisonous carbon dioxide built up.
Reynolds tried to keep his heart steady, keep himself calm but his body was fighting him. His arms shook and his legs gave out on him.
Suddenly he was up, water streaming into his eyes and mouth, sucking in air through gritted teeth.
He made no effort to support himself, and probably couldn’t if he had wanted to. The two guards cursed as they struggled to hold him up.
Then he was dunked again.
Same thing; held until he almost passed out then up. It seemed to Reynolds that the third dunking wasn’t so hard to cope with, like it was shorter. Perhaps it was just his dulled senses or his mind breaking, or perhaps they were holding him under for less time.
He surmised that neither of them wanted to have to try to revive him if he suddenly stopped breathing. And they wouldn’t want to explain why they had killed a man awaiting trial.

Eventually the pulled him from the water and let him drop to the floor. Reynolds lay there coughing, sucking in air that burned his throat and chest.
He prayed for the fetid straw mattress and the chance to slip back into blissful sleep.
He didn’t get it.
Instead, the two rained kicks in, carefully avoiding his face, until Reynolds fell into unconsciousness.

Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Thu Dec 13, 2018 6:19 pm

Elizabeth Reynolds rubbed at crusty eyes and blinked at the light that stabbed through a thin slither of gap between the heavy velvet curtains.
She raised herself up onto her elbows and squinted at the carriage clock perched upon the mantelpiece over the ornate marble fireplace with the fat little cherub faces in the corners that always gave her the creeps.
It was nearly ten in the morning.
She dressed quickly and rang a small hand bell to summon a maid to assist her in putting on her clothes.
Mary Lane, a thin bespectacled girl with dark hair pulled back into a tight bun helped her finish dressing and then began to run a brush through Elizabeth’s hair.
Elizabeth watched the girl in the mirror silently. Although the girl was one of her brothers staff, she had been employed by their Aunt Catherine. The girl was very good at her job, but was rather plain to look at. Another of their Aunt’s efforts to steer Sebastian’s attention away from what Catherine called commoners!
So far the Viscount sister had not spoken and the only sounds were the rustling of clothes and the muted hum of life moving steadily onwards outside the large Knightsbridge town-house.
Then she sound of laughter broke the spell of silence within the house.
There was a man’s deep throaty laugh and a woman’s higher pitched giggle.
Elizabeth’s back straightened and her lips pursed indignantly. After last night she was in no mood for joviality.
“Who is that?”
Mary glanced towards the door as though she would be able to see exactly who was downstairs.
“I believe it is Miss Holt and some gentlemen from her crew, ma’am. They arrived last night a few hours before you, Milady.”
“What are they doing here? What do they want?”
Mary shrugged. “I wouldn’t know, milady.”
Elizabeth said no more.
Dressed she swept downstairs and homed in on the voices.

“I’ve learned that Judge Baincroft is to be residing over the trial.”
Paige Holt stared towards the green gaseous image of Colonel von Staffenberg that hovered ghost-like above the steel and brass ether-comm.
Von Staffenberg’s bushy moustache wriggled on his lip in the ensuing silence.
“I take it none of you have heard of him? Well the bastard ought to be in the dock, not presiding over it! It’ll be the gallows for Reynolds for sure, no matter how little evidence the prosecution has.”
The green glowing image turned away as though looking over his shoulder.
When he turned back to face them he was frowning.
“I’ve found him.”
More silence.
The broad shouldered, dark skinned Edgar King sighed audibly.
“Come on man, out with it!” he said in exasperation.
After another moments pause von Staffenberg announced, “He’s in New Gate.”
“New Gate? But that’s an open prison! Anyone could get to him in there.”
“No!” Elizabeth Reynolds snapped from the doorway. “He’s not in New Gate.”
Paige, Edgar and Doctor Chase turned to see the viscount’s sister sweep into the room.
The green haze of von Staffenberg harrumphed and his thick moustache wriggled once more upon its perch.
Not knowing who the voice belonged to the colonel bridled.
“What in the blue blazes is going on, Holt? This is supposed to be a private meeting! I could end up alongside Reynolds if they knew I was talking to you!”
“It’s alright, Colonel, Lady Reynolds has joined us,” Paige consoled.
“Lady Reynolds? The old scamp go and get himself married did he? Didn’t even invite me to the wedding! Outrageous!”
“No he did not!” Paige snapped a little too quickly and harshly than she wished. “This is Lady Elizabeth Reynolds, Sebastian’s sister.”
“Right!” the green man crackled. “Of course! Good morning your ladyship. May I ask what makes you think your brother is not in New Gate?”
Elizabeth stomped into the centre of the room so that she could face the Ether-Scope image.
“Because,” she said, unable to completely contain her annoyance, “I went there last night and spoke with the warden personally.”
Von Staffenberg harrumphed again and his green head moved out of view. Paige stepped closer to Elizabeth and placed her hand on the woman’s arm reassuringly.
“It’ll be alright, Lady Reynolds. We’ll find him and sort this whole mess out.”
Once more the huge moustache appeared on the ether-image, twitching beneath the broad nose.
“Well, it seems we have good news. One of my men has informed me that all charges against Lord Reynolds have been dropped. He has been fed a healthy breakfast this morning at the Savoy and is in a cab on his way home with a full Royal Pardon to boot,” he announced.
“Really?” Paige frowned, the word dripping with scepticism.
“Oh, that’s fantastic news,” Elizabeth sighed. “I’ll have them prepare a bath for him.”
“I wouldn’t bother,” King said shaking his head and looking disapprovingly at the green image.
“That was cruel, Colonel.”
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked King.
“He means,” von Staffenberg answered for him, “that I could have been more tactful, you see, I just lied to you madam. Your brother remains incarcerated and if those in power get their way he will likely hang.”
“Staff,” King grumbled at the ether-comm.
“Do you mock me, sir?” Lady Reynolds spat.
“The colonel is not mocking you, Lady Reynolds, merely highlighting your very admirable trait of trusting your fellow man. He lied to you and you believed him because you trusted him to tell you the truth, just as you trusted the Warden at New Gate to be truthful. Unfortunately the colonel is gifted with a network of informants throughout the land and they have always proved to be very reliable. If he says the Lord Reynolds is being held at New Gate, then at New Gate he is,” Doctor Chase explained.
Lady Reynolds looked crestfallen, swayed as though to faint until Paige Holt gripped her arm tightly.
“Sit down,” the ship’s captain urged.
King leaned against the table and watched as Paige guided Lady Reynolds to a chair. The doctor was immediately by her side.
“So, Colonel, how do we get him out of there?” the engineer asked.
“Why?” Lady Reynolds interrupted. “Why would they lie?”
“A delaying tactic,” von Staffenberg answered. “They’ve called a date for the trial, in a few days. If they can prevent us from getting legal representation to him by then, then we’ll have no defence case and therefore no chance. Not that we’ll have a chance anyway. And you see, if you can’t find him, you can’t get a lawyer to him.”
“So why would the warden worry about Sebsatian having legal representation?”
Elizabeth’s voice was weak and tears rimmed her eyes.
“Maybe he doesn’t,” King’s deep voice rumbled around the room. “He’s probably been told not to tell anyone.”
Paige stepped behinf an empty chair and leaned against it. “Okay, Colonel, we’ve established the Sebastian is in New Gate. How do we get him out?”
“Well, I think perhaps Lady Reynolds ought not to be privy to this part, for her own safety?”
Elizabeth stood up and set her jaw defiantly. “I most certainly will be privy to this, Colonel. I am my father’s daughter after all. Seb isn’t the only one with hidden skills and training you know!”
The colonel gave a little laugh. “Fair enough, madam, as you wish. Now,” he addressed the rest of the room, “Listen carefully…”

Lord Reynolds
Survivor
Survivor
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:01 pm

Re: Accused

Post by Lord Reynolds » Sat Dec 15, 2018 9:22 am

The sound of the key in the lock pulled Reynolds from sleep. His eyes were open instantly, giving him a view of dirty boots, the beginning of a hole forming over the big toe of the right foot.
“Jesus wept!” he heard the guard curse. “Get the filthy wretch on his feet.”
Reynolds knew what was coming, what delights these two had in store for him. He wanted to resist but his exhausted body defied him. Everything ached and nothing seemed to work.
“Now, what we do with this bastard, right, that’s called just desserts, you see? Only befittin’ this toffee nosed traitorous prick!”
The guard with the worn boots seemed to be explaining to the other as the two hoisted him to his feet.
Reynolds managed a glance at the other one. A new face, clean, with a neatly trimmed beard and a look of barely concealed disgust.
“Oh, Jesus, the dirty bastard’s shit himself,” the older man grumbled.
They dragged him through to the familiar room, where pain lived.
“Get the cunt’s clothes off, we’ll have to throw em out,” the older man ordered the new guy.
Without ceremony the younger man tore the sodden shit-soaked rags from Reynolds’ body, the look of disgust more evident than before.
“We’ll need a bucket.”
The younger man shrugged.
“I’ll go then,” the older guy huffed and trudged out of the room leaving the new man looking horrified at the bruised, dirty Peer of the Realm before him.
“You’re a mess, my lord!” he said quietly, stepping closer to the form that wobbled on shaking legs.
The man removed a small flask from his pocket and offered it to Reynolds.
“Compliments of Colonel von Staffenberg, my lord. Something to keep your strength up. A Tilbury special, I believe he called it.”
Reynolds eyed the man suspiciously.
“AH, yes,” the guard smiled. “the colonel instructed me to remind you that this will be the fourth time he will have saved your scrawny upper class arse, including that time against the mechs. His words, my lord.”
The man was right, von Staffenberg had pulled Reynolds out of three life threatening situations in the past, and the one with the mechs was the only one publically known.
Reynolds took the flask, drank down a mouthful of the acidic but familiar concoction.
“Woah! Not too much. Your sudden miraculous recovery would make folks suspicious. I’ll hide the flask under your mattress – no one will look under that rancid thing.”
He took the flask from the naked man.
Reynolds felt the heat from the potion in his stomach. Its warm glow spread outwards, down his legs, his arms. He began to sweat.
But the aches subsided, the strength returned to his muscles.
“When the time comes, Lord Reynolds, drink this down. But wait for the signal. Tonight maybe, but more likely tomorrow night.”
Reynolds nodded.
“I’m sorry, my lord, but when he gets back I’m going to have to play along.”
Reynolds nodded again. “It has to look real, so make it real.”
Reynolds felt reassured by the pained expression on the man’s face.

Two hours later Reynolds lay on his sodden mattress, motionless. His back, buttocks and legs bled where the old guard had scrubbed him clean with a hard bristled broom, like a man cleaning old paint form a flagstone.
His chest ached from holding his breath after numerous dunkings and his stomach from the blows used to encourage him to breath.
He was uncomfortable, a hard lump under his mattress.
Hope settled upon him as he drifted into a pain induced sleep.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest