Imogene d’Alsace (The Woman in the Well)

Imogene woke in the darkness; she could not move. She had no sense of her body or anything around her accept the dark.

This was not the utter darkness of the abyss; it was the near blackness that belonged to the witching hour on a moonless night.

From the place where her body lay, the place to which she felt bound, Imogene looked up through a long tunnel of nothingness, up to a small round disk across which passed the starry night, and laying there she tracked the tiny silver pin pricks of light.

The last thing she remembered was being attacked by Amelie Elmquist, a mad-woman who came at her with a kitchen knife, and upon recalling that memory Imogene realized that she was laying at the bottom of her well…she was dead.

She had argued with Amelie who had fallen into a rage and killed her, who must have then dumped her body in the well and left her rotting in the elements. Her spirit was restless, she was disconnected from the earth and she had no sense of how much time had passed since her demise, or why she had woken to the world at this moment.

She waited, she listened, she wondered if there might be a medium nearby who was calling on her specifically, or perhaps clairvoyant who was seeking contact with any spirit who might be anchored in the vicinity, the way that murdered people often are. But she sensed nothing of the kind, not the presence of any medium whatsoever, and she gave up speculating after a time.

Imogene was determined to wait, and then she sensed something; she felt a warm light in the distance, glowing in the darkness.

Imogene struggled, she focused her will on the light and warmth but she could not go to it. She was fixed to the spot where her murdered corpse lay rotting; she was trapped.

Imogene returned her focus to the light, this time she concentrated on drawing it to her, then it came to her in power like the onrushing bear. The light entered her home, the great bear spirit was searching for something, perhaps looking for her.

It stopped over the dried pool of blood her murdered corpse had left on the floor, and Imogene was pulled from the well to that spot.

She saw the bear was not a bear at all, but a tall young man who had been frightened, but was now calm and curious.

Imogene stretched and reached toward the aura of the man, barely brushing him with her essence, but when she did they were joined and she knew who he was.

In that moment he began to recede from her, disappearing into the void; Imogene was helpless to do anything to prevent it. She called out to him and begged him to remember where she was, at her house in the woods, near the quaking bog.

As she called out she knew he had heard her, and she was sure that she had imparted at least one gift to him.

She had bestowing on him the gift of sight.

Herbert Pond (Commissioner of Parks)

Herbert Pond sat at his desk in the turret of his house, on the third floor of the mansion that had been built on top of King’s Hill, built for him, the Commissioner of Parks.

From his window he was able to surveil the parking lot and headquarters of his police force, the “rangers” as people called them…without affection. From where he sat, he could see over the tops of the hills and through the trees of Lakewood Cemetery; looking west-north-west he could see all the way to Loon Lake; looking south and west he could see across the Robert Sadler Bird Sanctuary, and over the Rose Gardens, all the way to the other lake, the lake named for Harriet Lovejoy.

He sat quietly, watching the pale moon fade as the rising sun pushed it over the horizon. The aching in his joints told him that there would be a storm. It bothered him, but that was not the only thing bothering him.

He had received a phone call from Karl Thorrson, a man who had proven to be a reliable, though vexing ally in his struggle to wrest power from the hands of the commissioner’s most prominent adversary, the ancient and esteemed Colonel Albert Forrester.

Thorrson had informed him of his plan to make a move on a popular tavern at the edge of Saint Anthony’s red-light district. A place called The Round-Up, a few blocks from Miller’s Field and under the protection of the Colonel, and the Fifth Precinct of the Saint Anthony Police Department, which the Colonel controlled.

Thorrson had consolidated power along Lake Street, doing so without much resistance from the Colonel. He had taken over and consolidated the gambling and prostitution markets, the sale of contraband and most of the protection racket as far east as the bridge to Pig’s Eye and as far west as the Big Island on Lake Minnetonka.

The commissioner believed that the Colonel was becoming less and less interested in the streets of Saint Anthony, he was impossibly old and he had become obsessed with finding suitable marriages for his daughters. He was thinking of his legacy.

Thorrson was engaged in a hostile takeover of crime in Saint Anthony, doing so with his blessing. But the commissioner was also taking the time to ensure that the Colonel was being compensated for his losses. However, the Round-Up posed a unique challenge, the proprietor had a relationship with the Colonel that would be difficult, if not impossible to get around. The commissioner had thought he had made it clear to the imposing Karl Thorrson that he wanted him to wait on the Round-Up. He did not agree with Thorrson’s timing. The gargantuan was overeager, in too much of a hurry seize this last little piece of territory, no harm could come from waiting…in another year the Colonel might just be gone, old age finally catching up with him.

This morning he understood that he was losing control of Thorrson, he was unable to dissuade him from the course of action the crime boss proposed. So, he decided to place a call to his estranged wife, Helga Magnusson, to give her a piece of information regarding her husband and her missing lover, Bjorn Elmquist, information that she had been waiting for.

The commissioner did not think it would be a good use of his resources to engage in a direct confrontation with Thorrson, so he decided to complicate the giant’s life by turning his wife into his enemy; violence would come from it, and chaos would follow, of that much he was certain.