Of Smoke and Mirrors

Entry: 26th of January, 1855
[Eveline's Diary]

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0ºC. Bleak weather and constant snow flurries.

I woke up gasping for air this morning. The events of last night are still lingering vividly in my mind. I did not have a chance to write them down yesterday as I usually do before going to bed, leaving me today with uneasy thoughts and unresolved feelings. I need to get my head wrapped around this issue as quick as possible or I fear that I will become a nuisance to my fellow companions.

For the first time since I have come to London and started going in all of these “unexpected adventures”, I feared for my life.
Last night’s episode left me wondering if I have what it takes to succeed in this new lifestyle that has been imposed to me as the Dean of The Institute for the Study of Aetherics, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures…

My feelings ran wild…As that repulsive ogre clenched his fingers around me, I was flooded by an insane rage, driving me to struggle back. I fought back with all my might, trying to break free from his grasp (and that creature even dared to hit me!). I did not even stop when the pounding pain on my cheek worsened. But, gradually that feeling of rage turned into despair, and despair into numbness. I remember thinking I could barely breathe, that if I did not get enough air that would be the end of me. My hands and feet felt ice cold and my body indulged in a very strange state of numbness. I have never felt so scared.

And in a matter of seconds, with unwavering eyes and a killer shot precision Mr. McGill put an end to all of this unnecessary suffering. Not even batting an eyelash when the creature’s brains just exploded from the side of his head, whereas myself had barely succeeded on not turning that sight even fouler with my bile.
I fell on my heels as I dove into a trance of confusion, nausea and relief, not even able to act properly. I thought I was done for good. I had never seen someone die. I had never seen someone getting killed. My mind was travelling thousands of miles per second, not able to reach an end.

And then I heard that man’s voice, screaming my name: “Eveline”. I snapped out of it, I tried to act composed again even though I knew it would be impossible with my shaking body. Mr. McGill instructed me to pursue the fugitives, heading in their direction like nothing had happened in the brief moments before. I saw Mr. Auri running in their direction as well. Dear Diary, I do not know how I found the strength to carry on last night; I guess there is more to me than I would have expected…

It comes as no surprise that everything just tipped from then onwards. After getting overwhelmed a considerably amount of times by Mr. Aurie’s “Cricket time!” as he calls it (I just pray I will not become blind after such frequent exposure), I tasted the cherry on top of the cake and … I am even too embarrassed to write it down, nevertheless I got stomped by a horse. I am just glad Queen Victoria’s eyes have trouble reaching such a forsaken part of London or my “Lady Like” reputation would definitely be revoked. It is already shameful and painful enough to carry these dreadful bruises. I did never care of the status of a Lady that much, however somethings are just inadmissible.

Fortunately, Marianne was there for me when I arrived home and commenced what I believe it was a nervous meltdown. Poor Marianne… it pained me more to see her distressed expression than my actual wounds. I did not have the courage to tell her how I got into such shameful state; it would just worry her even more. And by the way my sheets were arranged when I woke up this morning, I could tell she came to check on me during the night. My poor, sweet and loyal Marianne… I do not think I have seen her concerned like this ever since my mother passed away.

And this brings me to my initial thoughts…Will I, the last remaining Lady Windsor, be able to walk down gracefully the path of the sword? Can I become like my brothers and fight to keep the peace of others? Or can I become like Mr. McGill and kill another soul without a second thought? Or even, become free of social shackles like Mr.Auri?

I have come to realize it…

Dulce bellum inexpertis

- (War is sweet to those who have never fought).-

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The Times, 26. January 1855

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The Aerocab Prototype unveiled
The much discussed Aerocab of mr. Hansom, rightly famed for his innovative cab designs, had a prototype unveiled at the Sao Paulo Grand Exhibition which opened yesterday, the first technological exhibition to be held in South America. The Aerocab, fully furnished with a miniature balloon, a propellar and flapping canvass wings, rose majestically but proved to be very much on the planning stage as it had to be abandoned by the driver before the cab itself rose to unsafe heights.

Though a defeat for mister Hansom’s ambitious project he insists that the design has a future and that in not too many years his customers will be able to soar in the clean sky, far above the smog of the city.

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Amsterdam Harbour shaken by explosion
During the night a major explosion coursed significant damage in the harbour districts of Amsterdam, capital of the Dutch Republic. Luckily few lives were lost as the incident occurred at night, though the property damage incurred was significant. Though the course remain unclear the Times has it on good authority that the British passenger ship, RMS Tayleur (owned by White Star), was near the epicentre of the blast and suffered catastrophic damage. Though some Dutch newspapers have claimed it to have been an accident caused by the powder of the nearby ship of the line Leijden which sank after the explosion.

However, unconfirmed reports only available so far to the Times state that a fierce magical duel took place on the harbour alongside the Tayleur involving British, French and Russian citizens. The Times then promise to follow the case closely as it develops.

Scotland Yard crack down on Libertarians; find Bolsheviks!
In connection with the apprehension of Captain McGills, which took place on Saturday morning, the Scotland Yard has investigated and cracked down on two clubs the young man was associated with, both known for harbouring libertarian tendencies. However, to the surprise of Inspector Sims who is heading the case one of them proved a front for a French Marxist group of Blanquist tendencies.

Inspector Sims could report that though not related to the case of the Russian Spy evidence for the groups conspiratory nature had been found and three men was being held for questioning. The gravity of any possible charges against the men are not yet known to the public.

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The Sunday Times, 25. January 1855

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The Case of the Russian Spy
The charges brought against Captain William McGill was clarified yesterday as pertaining to the theft of several important naval documents from the Admiralty, allegedly with the intention of handing them on to Russian intelligence officers. The Admiralty could confirm that if the documents were to reach the Russians it would be most detrimental to the war effort.
Furthermore evidence has surfaced to suggest that Captain McGills were a known face in certain libertine circles known to harbour republican sympathies. Inspector Sims of the Scotland Yard, currently leading the civilian investigation, suggests this may be the motif.

The Queen’s Charity Ball a great success
Having raised a significant sum for the widows of the fallen on Crimea the Master of Ceremonies has declared the much anticipated Charity Ball a great success. The Times special correspondent at the scene could confirm that the season is now official opened with several young debutants being introduced before her Majesty. Notable amongst them were the daughters of several prominent men in the nation, including the Earls of Exeter and Oxford.

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Clashes on the Dockside
Yesterday evening at the Docks near Wapping an angry mob of the basest sort threw several men into the River after having treated them to a savage beating. The attacked where accused of being Russian spies, though locals can confirm none of the unfortunates where of actual Russian origin. With the recent tensions over conscription, the editor suggests that Scotland Yard needs to step up their patrols.

The situation for those most destitute
Lady Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland and known for her charity work, writes a long and passionate letter to the Times regarding the terrible state of destitution seen across the countryside. She implores the government to do something about it, suggesting that more jobs and a minimum wage will be required. She particularly emphasis the plight of the children.

The State of the London Police
“Dear sirs.
I wish to bring awareness to the general reading public of the appalling state of mismanagement and incompetence displayed by the recently formed London Police. Indeed, I shall venture so far as to suggest that one cannot walk the streets of Eastern London at night without fear of being accosted in a most uncivilized fashion.”
The letter goes on to lament the corruption and incompetence in the force, signed of by “A Worried Gentlemen.”

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The Times, 24. January 1855

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The Russian Spy apprehended!
Scotland Yard could confirm yesterday that Captain William McGill has been apprehended in his quarters on the 23nd on charges of espionage on the behest of the Russian Tsarina. The Captain, nephew of the Baron of Rhuddlan, professes his innocence but Scotland Yard detective Sims claims the apprehension was done based on, with his own words, “watertight evidence”. Though the details of the charges has yet to be made public Captain McGill will likely face trial shortly. The Times promises to follow up on the case.

“The Soldier’s Battle”
“The Russian “White Tigers”, fresh from Siberia, sprang forth through the mist, forcing the bottleneck below Home Hill. The Lancashire Fusiliers, a streak of red in the grey, answered with a thundering volley. And yet the Tigers leapt forth, only to fall back in disarray as Magus-Captain Charles Darby raised a rolling wall of flickering flames before his men’s position,” Special War Correspondent Russel gives a stirring account of the Battle of Inkerman which he daubes the “Soldier’s Battle” as it was fought almost entirely under the cover of heavy mist. The mist also prevented the Russians from fully utilizing their airborne assets and their battle wizards, leading to a bloody British repulsion of their advance.

The Conscription Debate Rages On
Yesterday Parliament held the second session on the Conscription Issue, leading to a heated and memorable day in Westminister despite the snowfall. To the accompaniment of protesting “Communist” demonstrators outside the Members of the House of Commons furiously debated the topic with several memorable speeches. Soon to be Prime Minister Palmerston held a passionate speech on the necessity of Conscription for the outcome of the war, insisting that a fresh influx of troops to Crimea would break Sevastopol.
The most memorable episode however was MP John Bright’s impassionate and downright excellent critic of the measure. In a most memorable passage he declared, “The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings.”

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The Queen’s Charity Ball
The social pages are flush with the latest on the upcoming Charity Ball at Kensington.

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The Times, 10. January 1855

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Viscount Palmerston to form new government!
The Viscount has announced his intention to step in as Prime Minister after the resignation of the Earl of Aberdeen and has found support in parliament for this. He is expected to officially take office in early February. Several speculations follows on whom might be picked as his cabinet ministers and especially discussed is the position of Theumathurgical Secretary, the minister in charge of magic and magical policy. Lord Windsor is expected to be given the post of First Lord of the Admiralty as he can be relied upon to support Palmerston’s hard line on the Crimean War.

Ramon Castilla to lead Peru.
The famous general and former Libertadores was sworn into office on the 5th of January, starting his second term as president. He is considered British friendly and is praised by the Times for his progressive policies, amongst them working to abolish slavery.

In Memory of Mary Russel Mitford
A note mourns the death of Mary Russell Mitford, a poetess of some note, especially well known for her witty and remarkably frank descriptions of life in an English village.

Social Pages
The society pages are all filled with the first notices of upcoming arrangements and balls. As is customary the Queen herself will open the season with the Queen’s charity ball, this year dedicated to the widows of soldiers fallen on the Crimea. It is to be held at Buckingham on the 24th of January. Several smaller arrangements is also planned to follow suit/on the same day.

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Special Second Print!

Bloomsburry murders solved!
During the night to the 10th a seventh murder in the gruesome string of events that has been terrorizing Bloomsburry was narrowly averted. The Scotland Yard, by Inspector G. Hunter, could today confirm that the guilty party was a pack of veracious and cannibalistic creatures known as Ghouls. However, the Inspector could today assure the general public and the Times’ special reporter that the creatures had been neutralized and that there would be no danger of further attacks.

Though the police remained tight lipped on the matter the Times’ special reporter, miss Crawley, have it on good grounds that the quick thinking and outstanding bravery of three citizens saved the neighbourhood from further terrors. According to an astonished witness Sir James McGill of Her Majesties Royal Air Cavalry dispatched three of the creatures with his bare hands, aided by Mr Vasa Auri a local member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers and Miss Eveline Windsor, newly created Decanus of the Institute for the Study of Aetherics, Magical Artefacts and Mystical Creatures.

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The Times, 9. January 1855

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The Earl of Aberdeen to resign as Prime Minister!
The Prime Minster announced this after the House of Commons passed a vote to institute an inquiry into mismanagement of the Crimean War. Speculations are now on to whom might succeed him and many point to current Home Secretary Viscount Palmerston. A note sent in by a certain Humphrey Albercourt also comments upon the preposterous amount of power now resting with the House of Commons.

The Thin Red held firm!
Special Times correspondent William H. Russell gives a captivating report from the Battle at Balaclava (25th of October 1854) from which reports have been coming back since around Christmas and which lead to today’s ousting of the Prime Minster. Writing more in depth Russell explains the battle unfolding and especially one passage is most stirring:
“The Russians dash at the Highlanders. The ground flies beneath their horses’ feet; gathering speed at every stride, they dash on towards that thin red streak topped with a line of steel.”
At the end of the article the Times promises a special report from Russell on Sunday regarding the disaster of the Light Steam Brigade.

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Parliament to start debate on conscription next week.
This has led to several minor demonstrations which had to be broken up by the police.

Captain Leeds to hunt the Dutchman!
The Flying Dutchman, which for the past decades has been a scourge upon the Indian Ocean, shall now be hunted down vows Governors-General of India Broun-Ramsey, Marquess of Dalhouse. Captain Leeds have been given command of a squadron in order to hunt down this legendary menace. A long winded speculation upon its supposed “magical” properties follows.

Other
Several other minor notices, advertisement, poems and letters to the editor.

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