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Winter's Whispers » Places

Places in Winter's Whispers

This is a list of locations that can be found in Winter's Whispers.

All Places

Victorian United Kingdom

2 posts · 3 characters present · last post 2018-09-09 01:18:00 »


The streets were beautifully paved and neatly kept, but did anyone know of the blood that had spilled between the stones and dried inside the fine cracks? Years of use had removed the old stains but echoes of the dead lingered everywhere, invisible to everyone but the cursed few. Esma, unfortunately, was one of those damned, and she hated it.

She hated the stigma it came with, and she hated the responsibilities it brought... but what she hated more were moments like these when she was forced to see things no one else had to suffer through. A pale white figure moved under the lamp, casting no shadow; it raised an ax above its head and swung down with a silent yell, separating a squirming man's head from his shoulders. She wrenched her gaze away from the sight and looked at the man beside her--when had they found a carriage? She frowned, brow crinkling in confusion. Hadn't they been just standing on the corner two seconds ago? "I'm sorry," she said somewhat breathlessly, mind racing to catch up with the present. "What did you say?"


A gloved hand slid over her's and gave it a gentle squeeze,"Pay attention." His voice was cold as the night air and the grip around her hand began to tighten, "We didn't come all the way from Spain so that you could make a mistake now. If the boy," He spat out the word as if it were a curse, "is truly one of your kind, we will have to decide how to proceed."

Velsharez had built his empire on webs of information. Entire spy networks scrambled to retain half of the information he had, but he always seemed a dozen steps ahead with a trap left at every turn for any who might follow. Little was known about him or his misstress, for that was what many considered Esma, and even less about how he worked so quickly or efficiently. They didn't know that under Velsharez's unusually red tinted eyes, their very thoughts were laid bare, every desire and wish, no matter how dark or twisted, open to him. And the girl beside him kept him well informed on the goings on of those whose minds he could no longer reach.

His fingers loosened and he tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear in a gesture that might have looked affectionate,* The reason I am able to keep you in a life of finery is that we two are the best at what we do because we are the only ones who can do it. If he is any different than the others, we will have to take steps. Do you understand?


She tried to escape the bone crushing grip he had on her hand but to no avail; his hold was a pretty accurate reflection of his personality: strong, unyielding and nearly painful. She could only wonder how she'd been so lucky to have caught his attention. Esma kept her expression very still despite feeling her bones crushing, for if the driver had noticed anything, it would be him that paid the price for being too observant and not her; that was how Velsharez operated. He knew how to keep her quiet.

"I understand," she said softly, trying not to seem too mutinous. She picked up the blanket with her free hand and began shaking it out, using it as an excuse to extract her other hand from his. It was numb, but she still managed to spread the roughly woven quilt over both their laps without seeming too abrupt. Esma cleared her throat, tucking the ends under her skirts to save them from the dampness.

"Do you really think he's a--" She paused, trying to search for a better word than 'threat', "--genuine nuisance? Or just merely worth investigating because he just happened to be in London, of all places?"


A smile curved the edges of his lips, but there was no humor in his dark features. "They say he's quite the storyteller, but you know the English; superstitious and ignorant. They'll believe anything if it's repeated enough." He sat back to allow the blanket to be spread across his lap. When the driver glanced back, they appeared a cozy couple. "I would go in myself, but he takes only female audiences and I dare not arouse any suspicion in case there is any truth to the rumors. A powerful seer can be...unpredictable."

When Velsharez had heard tell of an Englishman with a penchant for contacting spirits, he had brushed it off as yet another parlor trick. Spain was a good place for his kind of business and warm even in the winter months. Traveling to somewhere as dismal as London had not been on his agenda. Until, that is, he started hearing about how the young lad was growing in popularity and, apparently, power. He was frighteningly accurate and people swore he said things only their deceased loved ones would have known. The last thing Velsharez needed was some young upstart getting involved in a market he had cornered.

"'Ere we are, sir," The driver said over his shoulder. The hansom came to a stop in the middle of the quiet square and Velsharez was quick to usher Esma out. "We don't need to pay," he said absently, "you're quite content with just the knowledge we arrived safely." With a dreamy smile, the driver nodded absently and snapped his reigns. He'd never wonder about why he didn't collect any fare, nor would he be able to describe who he had even had in his carriage that evening should someone ask.

Vel swept his cape back and held out a gloved hand to Esma. "Some coin, the charlaton will no doubt expect some kind of payment. He is located on the second floor of this building. In a few moments, a stream of young women will start to arrive. Fall in with them and try not to make your presence too obvious. I will do what I can to further shroud you. Do not get involved, this is purely information gathering." Once she'd taken the offered purse, he rested his palm against her cheek in a motion that could have been construed as affectionate before turning and disappearing into the nearby shadows. As he had promised, a handful of young women in dark, somber colors began to gather. They kept their heads down and their jackets and cloaks clutched tightly about them as they hurried purposely towards the front door of the large stone building that Vel had indicated.


Esma stole a glance at the contents of the purse before tucking it away discreetly within the folds of her muted dress. "I'll see you soon," she said, eyes downcast as he departed as efficiently as usual. She had trained herself to ignore his uncharacteristic displays of affection such as this one, understanding only too well that they were to keep up appearances. Shaking her head to clear it of such nonsensical wonderings, she briskly crossed the street and seamlessly let herself be carried away into the house. The girls continued inside with anticipation, obviously quite eager to speak to their deceased loved ones. Or whatever it was that this guy claimed he could do.

The air was charged with power, putting her on edge. Her fingers were tingling with it, and no doubt she would send a jolt of electricity through the next person she touched. Unwilling to deal with an electrocuted dame in the near future, Esma pulled out her 'special' gloves and busied herself with yanking them on.


The door was pulled open with practiced ease by a man dressed as a refined butler. He gave a shallow bow to the group of silent but excited women and lead them wordlessly into the house and up a set of steps. The interior was comfortable and echoed an age of wealth that had fallen on less prosperous, although still well off, times with large portraits lining the walls, the glow of a roaring fire reaching invitingly from the front parlor, and still luxurious carpet that trailed upstairs. The butler motioned for them to continue up to candlelit passage and remained at the landing, watching them go. The women's skirts whispered as they ascended and, at the top of the stairs, they paused, unsure.

As if by cue, a striking, tall man stepped from the shadows of a darkened room to greet them. Dressed in a gold threaded waistcoat and white undershirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his appearance was more casual than gentlemanly, but he had an almost regal air about him. He accepted them into the chamber graciously, kissing each upon the back of their hands and murmuring greetings in subdued tones. Once they'd all assembled, he invited them to remove their hats, gloves, and outwear and take a seat while he strode to a large wing backed chair at the head of a small, square table, upon which sat a deck of cards and a crystal ball.

"Welcome, my ladies," He said when they had all settled. "Before we begin, I must warn you. What you will see and hear tonight is not for the faint of hearts, so if you begin to feel lightheaded, please feel free to excuse yourself. I trust you are all here for the same purpose, to communicate with those you have lost and other voices who might guide your present and future. Please, move your chairs closer, and we shall begin." There was a moment of scuffing chairs and breathless excitement as the women did as he bid. When silence had fallen again, the man sat back in his chair, tilted his head back, and closed his unusually silvery eyes. There was a long, heavy silence during which some of the women began to shift and chew their lips. When he spoke next, the man's voice seemed not his own, but sounded older, tired. "Mary?" It queried, and one of the girls gasped, "Grandfather?" A small smile flickered on the man's features and he spoke again in the old voice. "You are worried." It said, the first of a number of rather general statements that reduced Mary to tears as she answered earnestly.*


This was ridiculous. Ridiculous, silly, a waste of time and most obviously a money making scheme conducted by a fraud and his hired help, but... but something in the air told Esma that there was more going on here than met the eye. For one, the air felt increasingly heavier with each moment; her fingertips were more than just tingling, they were almost itching despite the silky material they were covered in; and the ruby pendent hanging from a thick golden chain that disappeared under her shirt was pulsing with warmth. ::Velsharez?:: Esma cast out her mental voice, hoping he would pick it up. Not being a telepathic herself kind of made this an unpredictable method of communication, but she tried anyways.

Esma sat straighter in her seat, peering around the heads in front of her to get a better look at what was happening up front. All she could see was some smoke rising from between the floorboards--a gimmick, no doubt--and the crystal ball just sitting on the table between Mary and the fraud. Beside her, a woman dabbed at her eyes with a silken handkerchief.


Instead of a verbal response, the feeling one gets when someone is eavesdropping began to grow steadily. It was one of the ways Velsharez let her know that he was listening. The fraud finally collapsed in his chair, his brow dotted with beads of sweat and his breathing ragged. Mary burst into renewed tears at the second departure of her grandfather, and a few of the women patted her arms and shoulder sympathetically. "A moment, my good women," the man gasped, pushing himself upright, "I need to collect myself." They all clucked and cooed and, utterly convinced at his performance, shuffled out of the room to allow the man a chance to recover. He didn't seem to notice Esme had stayed behind and, when the door clicked shut, his expression turned into a cheery grin of triumph.


With the comforting weight of Vel's silent presence shrouding her, Esma managed to tuck herself into a shadowy corner and waited while the women reluctantly emptied the room. She dared not make a sound, peering carefully around the slim pillar to observe his actions once alone. Aha! That one expression told her more than another two hours spent watching his performance would.

::He's a fake,:: she relayed with satisfaction, fingers tightening their grip on the stone. She resisted the urge to storm over there and shake some sense into the silly man--imagine, playing with the sensibilities of those foolish girls like that! Not to mention what an insult it was to real necromancers like her, who had to suffer morbid visions and live as outcasts from society because of their special abilities while someone who pretended to have those same abilities was celebrated so! The mounting anger, the rising indignation only made the pendant under her dress burn warmer, but she barely noticed that nor the thickening tendrils of smoke that continued to rise from the cracked floorboards.