Puzzle of the Dark Druids
A Sherlock Holmes Tale
A Baker Street Universe Story
By John Pirillo
Simultaneously, the air opened up and Moriarity, who had felt James about to attack, had stepped aside, and aimed his weapon at James head. "Now you will die, shame on my name!"Moriarity cried out.
Before he could fire, Challenger blasted out of nowhere and tumbled into him.
Also, at the same time, Jules and Wells blasted from nowhere also.
Moriarity's gun went off.
The two assassins were so alarmed that they ran.
Watson took his weapon out and fired upon them, bringing one man down. The other risked a magical strike on the run, and seared the sidewalk in front of Sherlock and Watson, causing it to boil and bubble from magical heat.
Watson fired again and the second man was down.
"Over here!" Jules cried out.
Sherlock and Watson leaped over the burning energies and ran to the alley where Challenger had Moriarity in a headlock, his face flushed with blood as he exerted pressure on the struggling villain. Wells had the man's arms behind his back as well.
Jules had his weapon trained on him, as did James.
"It would seem we have everything under control." Watson snickered.
Then the Moriarity pressed to the pavement began to thrash violently.
Sherlock grabbed Watson's arm. "Run. Run for your lives!"
Everyone let go and ran the direction Sherlock took. James hesitated, looking into the fallen Moriarity's eyes. "Tell your Dark Master we know who he is now!"
James rolled the body into the alley and ducked to the other side, as a massive explosion ripped the air. Pieces of the masonry near James flew apart, shredding the clothing on his right arm, but only leaving scratches and bruises.
He and the others went back into the alley and watched as the fake Moriarity's remains caused the alley brick and mortar to bubble like boiling water, portions of it subsiding into the wet pavement and vanishing from view.
"It's over." Wells said.
Jules shook his head. "Non, Mon Ami. It is far from over."
Sherlock stood there, watching as the last remains of Moriarity sank into the bubbling, melting pavement.
"All roads lead to Rome." James said as he warmed his palms with a fresh brew of tea that Watson so kindly served up. He still heard the klaxons of the Constable Wagons outside, so he knew the Inspector and his son, Constable Evans, would still be there working the crime sight, striving to glean whatever evidence they could.
Watson came up the stairs with a tray of tiny sandwiches, cut with pickles, lettuce and salmon. "Food anyone?"
"Don't mind if I do." James said, helping himself to three of them.
He and Watson exchanged glances that spoke much of the deep bond between them. Sherlock observed it silently, basking in the warmth between the two men, who were also two of his closest friends as well.
Watson parsed out sandwiches to all in the room, and then sat the nearly empty tray on the table, where a map was spread out. Conan nibbled on a sandwich, sipped at his tea, then nibbled some more, studying the map.
Challenger sat near him, silent. He was thinking about all they had experienced since the implosion. Ned was still sullen after the experience. He still had his up moments, but lately he'd been more withdrawn.
"What's wrong, Ned?" Challenger had asked him, impatient about his reticence and withdrawal.
Ned wouldn't speak at first, but then he finally did. "It's so wrong."
"All of it!" Ned had exploded, jumping to his feet and pacing the observation deck where they stood. "I had no idea of the magnitude of power we were dealing with. It boggles my mind. Giant kraken and undersea cities I can deal with, but interdimensional demons, holes in time and space, whirlpools that can suck down entire buildings...."
He trailed off, his exasperation finally freezing his words.
He couldn't stand it anymore. He whipped out his harmonica and began to play it.
Nemo, who had been watching quietly from the Pilot's station, turned on the intercom so the whole ship could hear.
Ned started off with a melancholy piece, but not being the sort to stay down forever, he bounced back with a jig, which left him dancing about the observation deck, the other crew tapping their toes with the beat of his music, on that deck and in all the others.
James stirred a lump of sugar into his fresh cup of tea and watched it dissolve as a cat might puzzle the problem of a commode's waters swishing in circles, finally to be gobbled up. James smiled at that metaphor, and then threw another lump in for good measure. He looked up and smiled at Watson, who was seated opposite him and Sherlock.
They were playing a game of poker. Chips were made up of coins, which Watson kept a stash of for quiet moments like this one.
"Well." He said, eyeing the silver platter where the last sweet cake lay untouched.
"Take it!" Both Sherlock and James said at the same time.
They burst into laughter when Watson nearly jumped out of his chair at the simultaneity of their commands. He settled down and reached for the cake.
"But do remember your weight, Watson." Sherlock admonished him.
"And you wouldn't want Mrs. Watson to know you have been ignoring your diet." James added.
Watson let go and gave them both stern glances to show his anger at their reminders.
James and Sherlock exchanged glances, then James cut the last piece in two and handed one to Sherlock and he took the other.
"Divide and conquer." James said, stuffing his mouth.
Watson sighed as the last half went into that of Holmes, and eyed the silver platter longingly.
"Don't Worry, Old Man." James said putting a friendly hand on Watson's shoulder. "She's coming back in two more days."
"Yes. And then you can be your old nasty self again...." Sherlock added.
"With scones." James laughed.
They all three laughed. Were silent a long time, then Watson got up. "I just remembered something. At that same moment the front door was pounded upon. Watson descended the stairs and Jules and Wells stood there with Harry. They all held packages neatly wrapped with bows on them. Behind them stood Harry, carrying another package, even larger, that was vaguely human shaped.
"Are we on time?"
"Exactly!" Watson said with a nod.
He no sooner let them inside, then a Tesla Cab pulled up and Lord Graystone and Lady Shareen stepped out, also clutching packages.
They hurried up the steps and Watson let them in as well.
He turned to close the door, when a honk sounded.
Conan drove up with a new Tesla, his face beaming. He waved from the driver's side and shouted. "I'm learning how to drive."
Einstein and Tesla climbed out. Both dropped to their knees and kissed the pavement.
Watson laughed. "I imagine it was an adventure for all!"
Conan gave the other two a scalding glance, and then parked the Tesla by driving it up over the curb and nearly smashing into a fence. He got out and examined his parking position, then shrugged. He brought out a huge package and marched for the flat.
The room became especially crowded when the Inspector and Constable Evans showed up, both with packages in their hands. Another few minutes later Madame Curie showed up with three men in tow, all carrying cakes and sandwiches, neatly wrapped and on huge silver trays.
"I hope I'm not too late." She pleaded, her eyes on Watson.
He took her hand and kissed it. "You could never be too late, Madame Curie!"
She blushed and then took her hand away and helped the three men set up the sitting room table and another one that Watson and Challenger brought up from the kitchen.
In a matter of minutes they had both tables back to back and covered with a splendid red cloth with sparkly blue balls of light on its surface. "I made it." Harry bragged.
"You made it with magic." Jules reminded him.
"Yes. But so?"
Everyone laughed, and then settled into a chair about the tables.
Sherlock and Watson both rose from opposite sides of the table, then turned towards James, who seemed surprised at what was going on, but quietly amused as well.
"Too James." Watson joined in.
Sherlock continued. "Our friend has been with us but a year at this point, but in that year he has accumulated a wealth of friend."
"If not money." James quipped.
James glanced over at Madame Curie and she smiled gently. She reminded him sometimes of the mother he would never see again, though a bit younger and stronger.
"And so." Watson continued. "In honor of that event, we are having a birthday party for James. A coming to our world party and thanks for his kindness, courage and...Need I say helpfulness over that time in our small brotherhood of Baker Street...?"
"Helping us to face a challenging world." Sherlock finished.
James rose and nodded. "And I thank each and every one of you. And I am grateful to see that all are well and alive, but I must warn you." He went on. His face growing dark with his thoughts. "That man who died out in the alley. That was not the last Moriarity! And he was not the Dark Master."
Jules rose. "But the Demon said we were going straight to him."
James frowned. "And you trust demons more than your friends?"
Jules blushed and sat back down.
James eyed each one of his friends, giving each a measure of his friendship through a nod, or smile, or small gesture of his hand. "But let us not talk about demons and darkness, but rather the Light that we of the Brotherhood of Baker Street bring to this beleaguered world."
He lifted a glass filled with champagne. "To a just world, a fair world, a kind world!"
Everyone rose and joined in. "To a just world, a fair world, a kind world!"
They clinked glasses together, then smiling, laughing, chatting they settled down into the friendly and sometimes combative conversations they inevitably dove into when so many great minds and hearts were gathered together.
Korath and his Monkey Men were chatting beneath the veils of mist in the Hidden Realms, where mystical stars rose on curtains of magic, simulating a real night sky. They were feeling content and at peace with the world. Finding the Black Tower empty and devoid of evil had done much to settle them.
Korath laughed heartily at the joke of his mate, and then froze along with the others when a blast of powerful red light emerged from the cone of the Black Tower. They all jumped to their feet and turned in terror as the ground beneath their feet began to tremble and shake.
Whatever had been gone from the Black Tower had returned to claim its home!