After breakfast, I set about my task. The morning routine here at the manor was busy. The Doctor had a tight schedule and would spend the day returning missives in his office, with possible medical case studies taking up other portions of his time. The massive estate didn’t suit such a pragmatic man, but it employed many people from the nearby town.

The rest of the house was set about their jobs, cleaning, cooking, and preparing things for possible guests. While I may not consider myself someone of honor, the entire household treats me as such. Luckily, Mr. Patrik, the butler, has spread word that I’m allowed to investigate and question whomever I determine necessary.

However, I’ve not needed to ask anything. Not yet. Instead, I’m far more focused on the strange energy and boy from last night. I haven’t told the doctor about the incident, seeing as I should find more information before worrying him.

Though I can’t be certain with my memory alone, but that face from last night was the same as the boy I saw in the distance when I first arrived. At least, I believe it is.

Which doesn’t make sense. The face I saw was clearly a young boy, less masculine than a grown man, but not easily mistaken for a grown women.

As much as the events in the household might disorient and scare the inhabitants of the manor, I doubt they’d mistake him for the former lady of the manor. Is he a part of this? Something else? Perhaps the true face of the demon? I still haven’t verified for sure it’s a demon, but despite the contradictions, it is the most likely, and deadly possibility.

To begin, a demon summoning requires an intricate altar. The rooms in the manor are inspected and cleaned nearly every day, and likely would have led to someone discovering the altar. So, my search takes me outside, looking over the outer grounds.

After a quick chat, I acquire a tour of the estate. The grounds keeper foreman was a man named James Abbott. A rather calm and somber sounding man, yet there is an alert and focused aspect to him.

“I’m not sure what you’re expecting to find, Mr. Branner-

“Just call me Branner. I’m trying to find an area where people don’t normally frequent. Somewhere secluded.”

“Well, …Branner, there aren’t any places like that out here. The fields are rolling but visible. The trees are visited by nearly everyone and tended by my men. This place isn’t really ripe for secrecy.”

“So it appears. Thank you for your help.” I turn to leave, but remember something. “Oh, one more thing: I saw a young boy earlier. His hair was a mess, and clothes too ragged to be someone who works here. What can you tell me about him?”

Mr. Abbott sighs, obviously familiar with the lad.

“You must be talking about Con. I don’t know his full name, or even if that’s his real name. He’s some drifter kid, got it in his mind he can do whatever he wants. Been sneaking around the house, stealing what goods he can. We try to catch him, but he always gets away. You ask me, he’s nothing but trouble.”

“So you’re saying he doesn’t live here?” Well, that eliminates one suspect.

“No, he makes his home in some gutter in town. Thanks for telling me you saw him. I’ll have my people on alert.”

“Of course.” I nod my head reassuringly. There was something odd about that boy. I don’t believe Mr. Abbott’s men will catch him. I’ll have to find him myself and sit him down for a nice chat.

I take my leave and continue searching the outer grounds. It is much as the groundskeeper said. Very open and nowhere to hide an altar. But the boy, Con, he is intriguing.

I’d not told the Doctor, for fear of what it would do to him, but if it is a demonic summoning, it can’t be some drifter. For the demon to be brought forth like this, it has to be someone given a degree of authority in the residence. Someone who lives there.

This means he was betrayed. It doesn’t take much, even one of the lowest servants who calls the manor home could be a suspect. With how often people inspect the rooms, it could be a conspiracy. Multiple people hiding the altar. Which would take my search back inside.

As I approach the entrance once again, I feel the talisman shake in my pocket again. After the events of last night, I’ve decided to carry it with me more often. I’d not known of its secondary effect, but it seems to react to a specific kind of demonic energy. It must be very specific, as I’ve not seen this in the years I’ve owned the talisman.

I quickly search my jacket pocket for my lens, and focus my energy. The lens sifts through its filters, settling on a shifting sea of green and purple. It isn’t until I’m inside that I find my trail.

I follow the mist of color leading me through the entry foyer, into the dining room, and through several other parts of the house. I finally reach the kitchen, which is completely awash in the energy, much like when I nearly caught the boy last night.

The lens is useless now, seeing as there isn’t a trail to follow. I replace it in my jacket pocket and try to look for whatever I can. The workers are trying to ignore me and go about their business. A few stop and give me a stink eye before returning to their work.

As I pass a closet I hear a small clink. Could have been a bit of silver settling, but I knew better. I slowly move closer to the closet door, keeping my own movements as quiet as possible. I press my ear to the door and listen. Repressed breathing. I pull back and reach in my pocket, pulling a green gem.

I quietly gesture for the workers to stand back, which gets most near to stop what they’re doing and watch. As my energy flows out and into the stone, it begins to glow.

“Restringo!” I cry out.

The gem glows ceases, as the energy releases from my hand and pierces the door in front of me. It has found the target and ensnared what lies behind the door in a magical seal.

*Thud*

…Well, it didn’t keep it upright, apparently.