League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1766

Chapter 21


Report: Observation Post Providence Rhode Island

It was during a standard observation through the spyglass on the still figure of Joseph Curwen that I saw the man suddenly jolt into frenzied activity. A scream, while clutching his chest, was his first action; his hands then then moved blindly around his torso as if he was trying to push away an invisible assailant; those hands then grasped his throat while the face gave a look of severe distress.

Servants entered the room and restrained their now active boss. Joseph Curwen appeared to snap out of his distressing nightmare and looked around as if he woke up in a stranger's house. After some apparently calming words from the servants who were restraining him, Curwen sat down in his usual seat and caught his breathe while, from what I can gather, he made a slow recovery from his fright.

The servants brought him refreshments and gave looks and sweet talk of what was something akin to welcome back.. Although my view through the window was limited, I did see Curwen eventually get up and undertake his role as Master of the House.

As I continued my discreet observation, Joseph Curwen set up a drawing board in the room he woke up in and placed piles of notes on the table. He would flick through these papers and draw symbols on the board. Within an hour of beginning this activity he would hurl most of these notes in the burning fireplace and rip others to shreds; his frustration became so intense that he picked up a bed warmer and used it to smash the drawing board into splinters. As the servants cleaned up his mess, he sat down with a sad look of utter defeat.

My hiding place was good, or so I thought, but when Curwen went outside to view his homestead like a prodigal tourist, a bitter frown was suddenly directed at me. He waved his arms and viscously chanted some foreign words; what happened was frightening, it was as if several malign ghosts leaped out of his form, flew across the field, charged in to my person and tore away at my sanity.

I ran as fast as I could, while he broke into a manic laughter, I kept running until I got into town, there was nothing chasing me, just the vivid memory of that horrid moment. It is time for me to end this detail, I can never go back there.

A coach has been chartered to take me far from here, I will go home. Home to my family in the Catskills, my daughter, my faithful dog, even my henpecking wife will be a welcome presence after what I have been through.

There is one more pigeon to send; it will carry this report that I wrote out while waiting for the coach. There is nothing more to say, for I feel a strong urge to sleep.

Yours Sincerely

Rip Van Winkle

M read the report out to The League, they were all seated comfortably in the rococo lounge. Each member was freshly groomed by Senor Figaro and then dressed in their finest adornments.

It was the day after their triumphant confrontation with Joseph Curwen, the wolf cult and The Beast; the task was done, the celebrations over and their many bruises still sore.

"That report is rather baffling." Said Redmond. "How can he be alive and in America when we saw him die here in France?"

Munchausen explained as best he could, Cagliostro's theory of a doppelganger created by sorcery taking the warlock's mind, leaving leaving his creator and original, a mindless vegetable in his hometown, while the double goes abroad to work his fiendish designs.

"When the Joseph Curwen we confronted was destroyed, the mind that inhabited his body returned to the Joseph Curwen in Rhode Island. According to this report, he even felt the last sensations of the doppelganger being mauled by The Beast."

"But he is alive and well." Said Hawkeye. "He could start up his devilish work again. He still has sorcery and his manic laugh."

"That he does." Replied M. "But this Joseph Curwen does not have the high potential that the warlock we fought had. At least not yet, his mind seems to have lost much knowledge during transference. He does not have his notes or books, those notes he had in his house were useless. For him its not only back to the drawing board, but he has to get a new one. Our mission and your grand efforts remain a resounding success. Words fail me when I try to tell how extremely proud I am of all of you."

Hawkeye, Chingachook, Jean, Juliette and Redmond sat in sweet silence.

"I have received another correspondence." Continued M. "This one from the astrologer Guy Mannering; he claims that last night the stars twinkled with bright splendor, resplendently indicating salvation for the world and the cosmos. This is what we have achieved, we have saved the world. The warlock's destruction has prevented a dark shroud falling over all creation.

"As for the Joseph Curwen in Rhode Island, I will soon begin a correspondence campaign that will turn local authority against him, lest he develop the apocalyptic potential his counterpart here did."

"We can do something about him." Said Hawkeye. "Chingachook and I. We will be returning to America soon."

"That you could." Advised M. "But it will not be necessary. Providence Rhode Island may be within reach of your usual hunting grounds but he will recognise you, thus you would have to kill him; which will get you into trouble whether you win or lose. No it's best to leave him to my remote administrations."

A knock on the door preceded the entry of The Baron's valet, he was carrying a silver tray with a card on it. M took the card and bid that the visitor be shown in. A young man entered the room, he clearly had an eye for splendor since he gazed all over the room and its occupants with a cheery smile.

"Everyone." Said M. "I would like you to meet Langdon Towne, he will be immortalising us in a specially commissioned painting."

Langdon Towne had a New England accent and knew very little French. He did manage to express what a pleasure it would be to capture these subjects on canvas amidst such lush decor. An appropriate background within the room was agreed to and after a little furniture moving the space was set. The artist began to set up his equipment.

Hawkeye decided to have a chat with this fellow American. Langdon Towne revealed that he was from Maine and had fought in the French and Indian War, he was a member of Roger's Rangers, who went on secret raids into enemy territory. After the war, the artist tried his luck in London, he was doing well, but is now about to return to America and join a westward expedition to seek out the fabled Northwest Passage.

Chingachook had his reservations about having his image painted on a canvas, it was akin to the artist taking his soul. Hawkeye managed to quell the Mohican's concern, with a little help from The Great Spirit whose return to former status since the fall of Joseph Curwen had filled the Indian brave with positivity.

Juliette was thrilled with the idea of being captured on canvas, many men had tried to captivate or even capture her for their amusement, but this this type of captivity had great promotional value. She would've liked to have Tom the Cat with her during the pose but the English envoy Tristam Shandy had returned last night to collect the adorable feline he had forgetfully left behind.

Jean Baptiste Grenouille did not favor the idea of the French people seeing his face on a gallery wall. Baron Munchausen assured him that this portrait will not appear for public display, it will actually be confined to The League archives for the benefit of future Leagues of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Jean was happy with that knowledge and decided to hold up a perfume bottle during the pose to reveal his trade. Munchausen and the others had already praised him to the sky for not only his contribution to the League's effort but for devising and implementing the bizarre strategy that ensured its success.

Redmond Barry gave special praise to the perfumer.

"One thing Joseph Curwen told me Jean; was that to get him we would have to do something clever. Well, our musket shots and melee approaches were not that clever. It was you who came up with the required cleverness to destroy him. Luck was indeed with us to have you as part of this League that I stumbled into. You're really amazing."

The Irish rogue had considered taking advantage of this situation to desert the espionage business, but Munchausen had taken him aside and insisted that he report back to his superiors in Berlin.

"Redmond." Said M. "I am sending despatches to your boss explaining what happened to Fritz and Karl. Their bodies are already being carted back home for honorable burial. Other despatches will tell your superiors that you have been good, damn good. Your mission was a success; I have explained why Fernand Wagner's body was not available for authentication. Also they will be informed that you gave exceptional service to me, service worthy of the best Prussian soldiers.

"Do not sour all this achievement by deserting; if you do so now, my standing in the military will suffer and then there will be nothing I can do for you. When you return, your superiors will honor you. Maybe in some near future you can seize other opportunities to flee and seek out your fortune, with your luck that could even be soon; but to fly the coop now would be a mistake."

Redmond resigned himself to The Baron's will and with his approval donned a full dress Prussian uniform for the pose; he will hold a war musket with a shiny bayonet.

Baron Munchausen had received favorable reports from three hospitals. Alan Breck has recovered from his shock, but his physical injuries will require extensive healing and therapy before he can be active again; he will miss the painting but may serve in future missions. Berthold came out of his concussion but needs time to reorient his senses before he employs his great speed. Albrecht, Gustavus and Adolphus suffered only superficial burns, so with the right treatment they can, in time, serve The Baron again.

M's position in the painting will be in the foreground on the side, as if he is introducing The League to all who view the group portrait. He drew out his sabre and held it in proud military fashion.

Hawkeye put on his coonskin hat and stood bearing his own musket.

Chingachook held his musket in one hand, his tomahawk in the other. The war mace was strapped to the Mohican's back and only its handle could be seen.

Jean projected his usual blank look while holding out a decorative perfume bottle.

Juliette had spent hours beforehand in front of a mirror searching for the sexiest posture. When the time to pose came she widened her cleavage and adopted the chosen look.

Redmond stood to attention then with a word from M stood at ease in his chosen pose.

Langdon Towne had everything set up. The easel, the angle, the light and the poses were all good. The artist had finished preparing his many colored paints.

"We're ready to go." Said the artist. "Your poses are great; if you can maintain them for a while, this portrait will be splendid. Immortality here we come."

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did not move or say a word. The artist smiled then, with great confidence, brought his paintbrush to the canvas.

THE END

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