14: Leaving The Spice Shop

5th February 1925

Tewfik’s Spice Shop
Tewfik’s Spice Shop

London, England:

04:30 AM:

Leaving Tewfik’s Spice Shop:

There is nothing more to be done tonight so we head back to the Mews House Greg thoughtfully rented for us. All our stuff is there. We have left only a few token spare belongings back at the Savoy.

At a call box we leave a message at the Savoy for the aviators. They will be arriving this morning from Southampton. We don’t want the Mews house address traced so we never call from there.

Turns out the aviators are at the Savoy already. Anticipating trouble they took the mail train from Southampton in the early hours. Good news. We tell them to get a cab to Piccadilly. Trent and Joe drive over, pick up the trio and return them to the Mews house with all their belongings.


05:00 AM

We start discussing what to do but realise we can’t think straight. We are all too tired. We agree to get our heads down while Greg and a couple of others take watches. We need clear heads to decide what to do.

As we are about to rest Wesley is unnerved by a tingling sensation. There is a slight ringing in his ears and he feels light headed. A sharp pain is felt in his chest for an instant. This is soon replaced by a warm feeling. The Egyptian charm is heating up. The small vellum scroll on the pendant around his neck erupts in flame and turns to dust. The flames dissipate before they can harm him as the ill feelings recede.

Someone has cast a spell. Wesley was only saved by the charm but it is now destroyed as its power was used up. The Gods did indeed walk between Wesley and harm. He silently thanks Isabelle de Sospelle. She was the imprisoned heretic whose spirit he freed in a Honduran monastery which then, in gratitude, showed him where the charm was hidden. He is shaken but safe.

Who attacked? Wesley never met Gavigan, only Natalja and Joseph did. We’ve only seen Ponchi Chabout from distant surveillance so not him either. But Wesley did visit Tewfik’s spice shop; all indications are that it was Tewfik then. But what kind of infernal power can be used to attack us like that.

All the spells we know of require a line of sight. This is a worrying new development. The enemy has a form of attack which we can’t defend against. Not now the charm is gone. All very unnerved we try to get some sleep.

Sleeping in till 9.00am we have a quick breakfast. As the aviators are not known in London, they head down to Ponchi Chabout’s warehouse to keep an eye on him.

The rest of us, being Greg, Joseph, Natalja, Trent and Wesley head over to the Limehouse berth of the Ivory wind to find Tommy Hayes our Scotland Yard contact. We want to talk to him about a possible raid on Misr House in Essex. We’ll need a boat, a steam launch will be best. We also want to know if he’s learned anything more from processing the crew members.

Ivory Wind Berth, Limehouse:

09:30 AM

Approaching the quays we see the Ivory Wind but hang back to see what is going on. We are not as interested in the police operation as those others taking an interest in it. There are the usual hangers on but amongst them Natalja notices a pair who are almost trying too hard not to appear interested.

They are a fair haired Englishman and an Arabic looking man. Both are down at heel with a slightly shabby appearance. They make a show of smoking but it is clear to Natalja that they are scrutinising the police operation quite keenly.

While Natalja watches the pair, Joseph tries to get Tommy’s attention. He catches Tommy’s eye and Tommy walks down the gangplank towards him. He tells Joseph that he will keep the crew in interrogation for a good few days. Perhaps too honestly Joseph tells Tommy that we plan to raid Misr House.

We will therefore need witnesses putting us all somewhere else when the bodies are sifted through and the smoking ruins examined. We don’t intend to leave much left standing. About nine working girls will do, for the right price we can get them to swear blind we were in their bordello all night. Tommy is an accomplice to murder now. Hope he realises this.

Tommy says he knows some names. We briefly wonder about Trixie and Natalja and will have to come up with a different alibi for them. Tommy suggests shooting Natalja in the head and dropping her in the bloated estuary mudflats after the raid but Joseph won’t have it. She’s a soldier that one, even if she is a frail.

Joe leaves Tommy. He heads back to the others and can’t resist a smile remembering Tommy’s words as Natalja beckons to him. She looks over to the pair of watchers, then ambles to the car.

Pursuit Across London:

10:30 AM

The watchers have started to wander away. Natalja and Joseph drive slowly following the two men at a safe distance. Although careful they don’t see the car as it’s too far back. Satisfied they go on their meandering way.

They head north away from the Thames to a bus stop from where they catch a number 15 bus to Trafalgar Square. They then walk up Charing Cross road to the Penhew Foundation building in Tottenham Court Road. It is closed to the public today as repairs are carried out within.

They enter the building at the rear via the very delivery entrance which the investigators used in their break in earlier that morning.

The other investigators, seeing Natalja and Joseph drive off, head to Soho in the second car. They make for the Blue Pyramid. When neither the watchers nor their pursuers turn up there, they move on towards the Penhew Foundation building. They meet up with Joseph and Natalja.

In the meantime Joseph has put in a call to Gavigan’s office posing as a sergeant O’Reilly of the Yard. A secretary tells him Mr. Gavigan isn’t there. He has gone to his Essex country house on private business. She then asks what he wants as a Detective Stephens has already been to view the scene of the crime. Joseph apologises for the confusion and hangs up.

They are still no nearer finding a boat but then one of the investigators has a brainwave. If you want the name of a shady no questions asked boat captain who will take a bunch of armed strangers on a discrete boat trip you need a man with shady underworld contacts. Not an upstanding policeman like Tommy but a hack like Mickey Mahoney of the Scoop should be just the man.

Visiting Mickey:

12:30 PM:

The five head to Fleet Street. Greg remains in the car in sight of their second unmanned vehicle.

Natalja, Joseph, Trent and Wesley go upstairs to his slightly smelly, dingy third floor office. Mickey has put two and two together so realises that the robbery at the Penhew Foundation was their work.

He is quite animated, knowing that these crazy foreign mobsters will make a great story. He is more than happy to recommend a captain Davey in Wapping as the man for the job. In passing we idly speak about the dig the Penhew Foundation has organised in Egypt. Mickey says the only talking point was the way they took an east end spiritualist and medium with them. It turns out Agatha Broadmoor, 67, was the “Ghost buster of Suburbia”. Apparently she has been brought to Memphis, Egypt to dispel some evil spirits. “Curiouser and curiouser” as Alice would have said.

Had Greg been there he would have smugly pointed out the irony of a Loony named Agatha having the same surname as an infamous British criminal Nuthouse. But everyone was spared that because he wasn’t, he was gnashing his teeth in the car, consumed with rage at his own inactivity. He needed more drugs, or a lobotomy; maybe both.

Booking Our Passage:

14:30 PM:

We drive over to Wapping in search of “Captain” Davey. It doesn’t take long for us to be directed to a particularly thirsty gentleman propping up the bar. He readily agrees to take us down the Thames tonight but wants a £10 fee. This is extortion. However we pay him with some of the stolen £5 notes from Gavigan’s safe.

We agree to meet him back at Wapping at 10pm tonight. He agrees to have a steam powered boat large enough for all 8 of us with room for our “sporting equipment”. The games afoot.

Cry God for Duxford, Princeton and St. Jude.

Earlier that day at Limehouse ……………

The Aviators Stake Out Ponchi Chabout’s Warehouse:

09:30 AM:

Meanwhile Trixie, Simon and Gupta were watching the warehouse. They notice quite a lot of activity. Two trucks arrive, into which lots of goods are rapidly loaded. The workers are noticeably cautious. They even leave their man keeping watch when his workmates are obviously struggling with a particularly heavy crate. Very jumpy indeed. A guy in a turban is directing things. Could be Ponchi himself.

Bad News From The Savoy:

11:30 AM:

This takes a while so they decide to check in with the others via a call to the Savoy where they are ostensibly staying. The receptionist is quite agitated. He nervously explains that the investigators rooms have been broken into. All the rooms have been ransacked. Also, they were asked if they knew a Mr Smith as he telephoned at 8am asking for them.

Later that morning a detective Stephens came by the hotel. He left his card as he urgently wanted to speak with all five of the original party who had first booked in.

How the hell did he get on our trail so quick? The mysterious Mr Smith is more obvious. He was a cultist checking we were absent before breaking into our rooms. It was around the time that the bedding was changed and the rooms tidied by the maids. A perfect time to wander in. These guys are quite good.

Back On Surveillance:

12:00 PM:

The trio cogitate over this as they get back to the car. Ponchi gets in one of the trucks which then roll out of the yard at a steady pace. The investigators follow the trucks in their car ending up at a quite run down disused warehouse some way away. The workmen start unloading being very watchful as before. From the detritus lying around the place this hasn’t been used in a while. A similar bolt hole to the ones Greg sets up for us.

Crates and boxes and sacks are all unloaded. Then the trucks drive away. The workmen then depart heading back the way they came leaving two guards at the old warehouse.

Ponchi is with them.

We know that Ponchi is in cahoots with the cultists. Only yesterday he delivered some very nasty cult paraphernalia to the Ivory Wind. He is obviously wrong. Time he got his Trixie thinks. She briefly considers capturing him but swiftly dismisses the notion remembering how even a mad old man mocked us. No, we’ll get nothing from interrogating this bastard, time to put a permanent stop to his activities. Time for a fruit delivery, a pineapple to be precise.

Gupta recognises that look in her eye as she tells him to gun the engine. Even the sanguine Mr Grand loads his silenced .38 sitting poised ready to cover his sister in arms.

The car drives away towards Ponchi Chabout and his group of lascars. As they see the car following they start running. But the car is faster, just as it passes them, Trixie drops the grenade right in their midst. The car drives them on a distance. Then the grenade goes off. The blast fells four of the five men including Ponchi. The remaining man staggers but is then shot between the eyes by Simon.

No-one is moving. They are all oozing life. If they are not dead already they soon will be as they bleed out. No time for sentiment.

They drive back to the two guards at the new warehouse.

Parking about 50 yards away they walk round a corner towards it. Trixie and Gupta talk to the guards to try and distract them but it doesn’t work. Trixie tries a direct approach. She sticks her .38 in the face of the nearest guard. He puts his hands up but his comrade attacks Trixie with a knife.

She is too quick for him and his knife slashes at empty air. Gupta tries a punch but the guard blocks him. Simon wades in rugby tackling the guard with the knife. With his attention drawn to the one eyed adversary, Gupta can get his second punch in without being blocked. His blow lands but isn’t telling. Trixie has had enough of this, she spins and smashes him with a perfectly aimed roundhouse kick to the temple. He falls stone dead. The trio then bundle the remaining guard inside. He tells them that Ponchi got very worried after the Ivory Wind was raided. He ordered all his goods to be moved to this new location. They are able to check for the first time. The sacks contain raw opium. Other crates contain Mauser rifles, a pouch of Gold Krugeraands and a barrel contains dynamite destined for a mine. Greg’s wet dream.

Continuing to question the guard they ask who Ponchi’s chief clients were. He says that Ponchi mainly used to store goods for the Brotherhood (of the Black Pharaoh). He would then arrange for the Ivory Wind to pick them up but didn’t always know the end destination.

Simon leaves Gupta and Trixie in the Warehouse and goes to check the grenade site. Everyone is dead. A few people mill about and the distant whistles of police can be heard.

Simon returns with the car. They load it up with the dynamite, well Greg would never forgive them if they didn’t, and the Gold but leave the rifles and opium for Tommy to pick up. They cuff the guard, stuff him in the boot then drive to the mews house.

They arrive at just about the same time as the other five. The captive is then given a shot to knock him out for the duration. Tommy can have him too.

Meeting Tommy:

18:00 PM:

We finally catch up with Tommy from the Yard at The Spice of Life pub in Tottenham Court Road.

He says that this Detective Stephens was called in by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner and put onto the case of the Penhew Foundation burglary. He gave Stephens the information that some suspicious Americans whom it was believed were staying at the Savoy had been to the Foundation. It then tied in to Tommy’s case at the Ivory Wind because some of the missing £5 notes were found on the captain and also in his cabin.

Tommy said the Deputy Assistant Commissioner was probably one of the “funny trousers mob” (a Mason). In those days the upper ranks of the Police were not made up of men who had risen through the ranks but ex-services and intelligence men.

We had visited Barrington at Scotland Yard when we first arrived as he was investigating a series of unsolved murders we linked to the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh.

Jackson Elias, our murdered friend had also visited Barrington before his return to New York.

Barrington must have told Stephens to look us up at the Savoy. He got there at midday around two hours after our rooms had been ransacked.

They have got to our hotel and they magically attacked Wesley. Now it’s time for us to go on the offensive.

3 hours rest 2 hours preparation. Then off to Wapping and on to Misr House.

We also dump the drugged guard in an alley near Scotland Yard for Tommy to collect later.

Yegor Gaidar



5th February 1925

The Ritz Hotel, London
The Ritz Hotel, London

The Ritz Hotel, London:

04:00 AM

Trixie, Simon and Gupta arrive on the early morning “milk run” train from the south coast of England at the Ritz Hotel in London. Trent sends a cab to collect them and avoid arousing any unnecessary suspicions. With the team of investigators united at the secretly rented mews house, recent events are recounted and a plan of action is drawn up for the next 12 hours or so.

However, as the discussions are taking place, the investigators notice the colour suddenly drain from the face of Wesley. His eyes bulge and widen, pupils rapidly dilating as the veins and arteries and tendons in his neck become sinuously taught beneath his pallid skin. As his hands flail helplessly at his chest, an expression of pure unadulterated terror is written clearly in his expression.

Doctor Gaidar instantly gauges the situation and screams at Wesley:

“The scroll! The scroll! It might be your only chance!”

Quite unexpectedly, the Scroll of Protective Care, encased in a cylinder attached to a chain around the scientist’s neck suddenly shatters into a thousand irreparable pieces, absorbing the full force of the deadly attack.

This was no heart attack, and clearly not a spell of the orthodox kind, which normally would at least require a line of sight, so what in the name of the Bloated Woman was it? Perhaps some kind of ward placed on Wesley by Tewfik al Said when he visited his spice shop? Wesley got lucky this time, thanks to the scroll, but who knows when another attack could take place?

Still gasping for breath, and gripped by the terror of this sudden assault, Wesley steadies himself against the wall and fumbles a Lucky from his jacket pocket together with a lighter and sparks up the cigarette:

“It would appear I am in your debt once again, Doctor Gaidar. The minute you mentioned it, and I remembered it, the scroll must have activated.”

With a sense of urgency increasing by the minute, the investigators take the opportunity to get some much-needed rest. Later that morning at around 10.30am, the newly arrived trio of Trixie, Simon and Gupta head to the warehouse of Ponchi Chabout for surveillance duties since there is less chance that they will have been spotted by anyone from the Cult of the Black Pharaoh. They spot some suspicious looking foreigners and decide to trail them as discretely as possible as they head first towards Commercial Road and then on to Trafalgar Square on the number 15 bus before finally arriving at the Penhew Foundation at around 1pm. They enter via the back entrance.

The others have in the meantime discovered that our hotel rooms at the Ritz have been ransacked. The receptionist conveys her dismay and requests that the investigators return to the hotel to discuss the matter further with the manager and also to talk to the investigating officer, Detective Stevens. Stevens also wishes to discuss another case of burglary which occurred recently.

A visit to Mickey Mahoney proves beneficial as he has already identified an additional member of the Clive Expedition as a rambling suburban psychic.

Meanwhile, two vans leave the warehouse observed by Gaidar, La Belle, Grand and Singh. Ponchi Chabout is in one of them and he is accompanied by several of the dockyard hands and merchant seamen of oriental origin, so-called Lashkars. With Singh at the wheel, they are able to successfully tail the two trucks to another warehouse. It would seem that they are trying to move their illegal stock from one warehouse to another in the light of the recent raid on the Ivory Wind…

Parked on the opposite side of the street to the warehouse, one of the Lashkars spots us and alarms Ponchi. A small group of them begins moving quickly down the street. A strange gleam appears on the demeanour of Madame La Belle, and she kicks the back of Singh’s seat:

“Get the hell after them, Sky-Wallah! I just ‘bout had enough o’ this game of cat and mouse!”

A glance in the rear mirror tells Gupta that she means business, particularly when he spots the hand grenade revealed beneath the painted red finger nails and slender pale fingers of her right hand.

“OK, Madame! Let’s bloody get them!”

Singh slams his foot into the accelerator and the car jolts forward. Ponchi and his Lashkars quicken their pace but it is to no avail. As the car roars near to them, a grenade lands expertly into their midst and detonates, rending and shattering flesh and bone caught within its radius.

Singh slams on the brakes to give Grand a chance to pick off the only potential survivor with his .38: The bullet hits the injured Lashkar but may not be quite enough to finish him instantly. But without swift medical intervention, he won’t have long left for this world. Ponchi Chabout, or at least what is left of him, is now practically unrecognisable having taken the full fury of La Belle’s grenade.

Some onlookers have gathered but most are in shock at such an unexpected and horrific act of violence on the streets of London, this kind of thing normally reserved for the gangster-filled streets of Chicago and New York. The distant sound of police whistles can also be heard. Calmly, the investigators circle back round the block and pull up outside the warehouse. As they approach, a Lashkar at the door confronts them. Despite an attempt to fool him into believing that we are the police, there is no pulling the wool over his eyes and a violent confrontation ensues, with a second Lashkar joining him. Some head-butts, punches and a deadly kick from La Belle later and one of the Lashkars is dead and the other is being as cooperative as he possibly can, sensing that his fate hangs in the balance.

There are lots of weapons in the warehouse and we commandeer a case of grenades for future use. Taking the remaining Lashkar with us, we head back to the West End in time to make our 6pm rendezvous with Tommy Hayes at the Spice of Life pub.

Tommy wants to help, particularly as we plan to head to Misr House, but we do not wish to compromise his safety, or any other British Bobbies.

Journal Wesley

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