Ingrid Magnsson

Ingrid Magnusson left Saint Anthony right after she had her breakfast.

It was a four hour drive to the town of Avon, North and west of the city. She arrived around 1:00 pm, but her twin sister Helga who had called her that morning to demand that Ingrid come see her, wasn’t there.

Ian Green, the man who owned the house where Helga was staying, and the automotive garage attached to it, told Ingrid that Helga had to run to Saint Cloud on some kind of urgent business. He told her that she had left only about ten minutes before Ingrid arrived, which meant that her errand, whatever it was, would keep her for at least an hour, most likely more than that.

Ingrid was not pleased by this, not in the slightest. She only made the drive because her sister was despondent on the phone, imploring her to come.

Helga told her that she needed her, using a phrase they shared between them which they had not used since they were girls. By using those words Helga knew that Ingrid would feel bound to come, she would have no choice.  

Though she felt put out, she did the sisterly thing and she honored the call.

Ingrid had a demanding client scheduled for an appointment at her bookstore that day, and she was not able to reach her assistant, Angela Guthrie, to give her instructions. Instead she had to inconvenience her partner, Karl Thorrson, Helga’s husband, with the details of lending out a particularly valuable book to a professor at one of the local colleges, Dr. Pierce Johnson.

Dr. Johnson was something of a friend to Ingrid and Helga, though they both found him flamboyant and somewhat annoying. They had become acquainted in the old country, but Ingrid knew that Karl would not favor him at all. In fact, introducing the two of them might put Dr. Johnson in some jeopardy because Karl was not the type of man to suffer the presence of a fool, and Dr. Johnson was the type of man whose foolish became magnified in the company of men like Karl.

Ingrid was preoccupied with the book; she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She felt a deep foreboding about lending it to Dr. Johnson, even though he was well qualified to handle the material, there was something she could not ascertain, something about his motive causing her to question the wisdom of turning it over to him.

The tome in question, The Albigensian Grimoire, was very rare and coveted by many practitioners of the occult arts. Dr. Johnson had wanted to examine it for some time, and it had just become available. She had been hesitant, but he was almost a friend.

Ingrid had intended to make a final judgement that morning on seeing him, and now that was impossible, and so though it cut across her better judgement she decided to let it go.

She was still ruminating about the matter hours after her arrival in Avon, and Helga had not yet returned.

Ingrid grew more and more irritated and Ian green was absolutely no help to her. He was positively ignorant concerning Helga’s comings and goings.

At 5:00 pm she decided she had had enough. She took the back roads to Saint John’s University in Collegeville, a Benedictine institution not far away, home to the second largest library of ancient manuscripts in North America, treasures to a woman like Ingrid.

She wanted to visit an associate of hers, a monk who had access to the library. She hoped he would be available for dinner, and then give her a tour of the library. There were some documents she wanted to examine, and possibly acquire.

She was in luck; he was available. They dined at the guesthouse, after vespers he gave her the tour that she was hoping for.

While the food was bland, the conversation was good, and she found the brother amenable to making an exchange. He told her that he would contact her soon, he would deliver them to her bookstore…he wanted something more than money to complete the deal.

Ingrid was not surprised, she knew his proclivities and she dealt in all forms of capital, including flesh…she would get him what he wanted.

When they concluded their business it was late, too late to drive back to Saint Anthony, so Ingrid returned to the house in Avon.

When she arrived, her host informed her that Helga had gone on to Saint Anthony, and while there she had suffered some kind of accident. There was a nervousness in his voice that alarmed Ingrid. He told her that Karl Thorrson had called to give him this news. He ordered Ian to tell her to remain there with him. It was not a prospect that Ingrid welcomed, and Ian would not be able to stop her if she chose to ignore him, but she did not want to go against Karl Thorrson; brother-in-law or not, partner or not, he was dangerous.

She decided to wait there and find out more before she determined for herself what to do.

Karl Thorrson

Karl Thorrson was a giant, nearly seven feet tall with bones as dense as granite. His hands were as big as bear paws and his shoulders as broad as a draft horse, and yet despite his size he was graceful, light of foot like a dancer and as nimble fingered as a seamstress, and he only had one eye.

There was a large black stone in his other socket, studded with diamonds set in jagged line like a lightning bolt, when the diamonds caught the light just right rainbows jumped from his gaze.

The word on the street was that he could see with that rock in his head, that he could see even better than with the eye he was born with. People also said that he could see into the world beyond, they said that he had gouged his own eye out with a red hot iron to gain the power; they said he could see and talk to spirits and that he was haunted by them, ghosts were drawn to him like moths to a flame.

At the same time it was known that animals shunned him; people said he could command the lightning, they also said he was cursed by it, and the rain followed him relentlessly.

Karl Thorrson liked to believe the things people said about him, he encouraged such stories, he embellished them whenever he could, adding luster to their grandiosity.

The stories were only partially true.

On this day it was threatening rain. Heavy drops were in the air when he left Ingrid’s Magnusson’s bookstore on Lake Street. She had gone North to see her sister, his wife Helga, and Karl wasn’t happy about that, but he couldn’t stop her.

Karl was angry when he was at the reading room, he had an appointment to keep on Ingrid’s behalf, and he was impatient for it to be over. He was waiting for a professor from one of the local colleges, a Dr. Peirce Johnson who was a scholar of antiquities who was coming for a very precious book, the Albigensian Grimoire.

There were some passages that Ingrid had not yet been able to translate, and Johnson promised to be of help.

With his help he might raise the dead.

Karl Thorrson didn’t like the skinny little man when he met him, and he didn’t like hearing his name spoken out loud by some stranger in the reading room, a young man who had come in separately, asking for him. The giant did not intend to bother himself with making an introduction at that moment, but there was something about the young man’s voice that gave him an uncomfortable feeling almost from the moment he heard it.

Ms. Angela Guthrie, who was Ingrid’s assistant, dismissed the boy, and he left right on the heels of Dr. Johnson as if he were a highway man stalking his mark.

Karl didn’t like anything about the day, especially the heat and the oncoming rain that he was powerless to stop, despite what the people were fond of believing about him, that he actually had control of the weather.

Today he had business down Lake Street at a bar that refused to pay him for the protection he offered, one of the last hold outs on the strip. Karl wanted to get on with it, despite the feeling of nausea that had taken a hold of him.

He planned on taking care of the matter in person, rather than send his men a third time, just to see them get nowhere with the owners.

But he was wrong.

Day One – Celene Marie Forrester

Celene set down the long-stemmed silver pipe, balancing it in the glass bowl on top of the end table in Peirce’s den.

A thin stream of sweet smoke curled and wavered into the light, which poured through the prisms of the leaded glass windows.

The opium made her see everything in shades of purple.

She admired herself in the mirror, and her naked body barely concealed by the thin silk of her bra and panties, garter belt and stockings, which were intended to draw attention to her figure rather than conceal it.

She wore the same lingerie as the woman lounging on chaise beside her, drinking for a tumbler of absinthe.

The green genie will be dancing soon, she thought.

In the next room Dr. Peirce Johnson was busying about the parlor, adjusting lights and preparing a roll of film for one of his cameras.

He was a professor of antiquities, not a pornographer, but the pictures he would be taking of them would be bold enough to make a sailor blush.

Celene giggled.

She sipped from her own glass of absinthe.

“Ingrid,” she said to the woman, “Will you call your girl to come over and do our make-up, and dress our hair. I want everything to be perfect for these photographs tonight.”

The woman, who was not Ingrid, but was in fact her Ingrid’s twin sister Helga, stammered an excuse regarding why she could not, and that told Celene two things.

The first thing was that Ingrid’s assistant, Miss Angela Guthrie, would not be coming over to play with them, and that made Celene angry.

The second thing it told her was that the woman calling herself Ingrid, was not who she said she was, the confirmation of which delighted her.

Something unexpected would happen tonight.

Celene had heard about Helga Magnusson, but she had never met her.

Ingrid never spoke of her, but Pierce had. More importantly her brother in law had.

Bjorn Elmquist, who was married to Celene’s older sister, Amelie, had once been in love with

Helga, who was herself married, though estranged from the most notorious gangster in Saint Anthony.

Celene was very pleased to have learned this, and it was going to make the rest of the evening very exciting for her. She loved a surprise.

Helga was up to something, she wasn’t here to fool us that she was Ingrid. There could be no good reason for that, and from what she had been told helga was not the type of woman who would be interested in playing the games that she played with Ingrid and the tall, ostrich-like Peirce Johnson.

Celene was high on her opium concoction and well on her way to drunkenness, she was having a difficult time discerning the motives, but Charlotte was glowing with the light of woman intent on something…and it looked very much like revenge.