February 28-April 1815
Dr. Siger Holmes enters the library at Blakeney Manor, home of Sir Percy Blakeney, where he reads the Ruthvenian. The book was written over a hundred years ago by Armand Tesla a researcher on vampires and the occult, and primarily focuses on the Ruthven family, which according to Tesla has a long history of vampirism. Holmes wonders if the present Lord Ruthven has himself joined the ranks of the undead. He thinks of Sir Percy’s deceased first wife, Marguerite’s own return from the grave as a vampire. He is joined by Sir Percy and Marguerite’s daughter Violet, who was named after Holmes’ wife. Holmes and Sir Percy are close as brothers, and Holmes’ wife and Sir Percy’s second wife Alice are sisters. Holmes and Violet discuss the gathering at Would Newton in December of 1795 held by Violet’s parents, where a fiery stone fell from the sky. Holmes wishes to track down Countess Nadine Carody, who was responsible for Marguerite’s death and subsequent undeath, and Violet insists on accompanying him. Twenty years ago, Sir Percy and Holmes suspected that Countess Carody and Colonel Bozzo-Corona were in league. A month prior to the Would Newton conclave, Holmes saw the Colonel’s man, Lecoq, at the Countess’ Parisian townhouse. Agreements with the Colonel and the Brothers of Mercy were made at the Conclave. In the Etsch Valley two months later, Holmes and Violet are saved by a female vampire called Ziska from another nosferatu called the Giaour. Four men approach the duo: Leo Lecoq (son of the Colonel’s henchman), Durand, Thénardier, and Mondego. Lupin’s half-brother Bonaparte is mentioned. The Colonel and the Countess are holed up in the Castle of Monteleone. Three murders happened during the conclave, all signaled by the sound of a bell tolling nine times. The Colonel’s contingent at that time included the elder Lecoq, Kramm, Carody, and Gerolstein. A vampire called Count Aubri attacks Holmes, Violet, and Lecoq and his men. Thénardier and Mondego perish in the assault. Reaching the Castle at last, the survivors come face to face with the Countess, Ziska, and another vampire, Count Yorga. The Colonel offers Violet a place in his organization. He has long been planning to expand his operations into Spanish California, and he wishes Violet to pose as Durand’s daughter as part of this expansion.
Short story by Win Scott Eckert in Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 9: La Vie en Noir, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Black Coat Press, 2012; reprinted in French in Les Compagnons de l’Ombre (Tome 13), Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Rivière Blanche, 2014. Sir Percy Blakeney, his first wife Marguerite, and Blakeney Manor are from the Scarlet Pimpernel novels by Baroness Orczy. Dr. Siger Holmes and his wife, the former Violet Clarke (the great-grandparents of Sherlock Holmes); Alice, Sir Percy’s second wife (the former Alice Clarke Raffles, Violet Holmes’ sister); the elder Lecoq (Albert Lecoq, grandfather of Emile Gaboriau’s sleuth Monsieur Lecoq); and Lupin (Louis Lupin, great-great-grandfather of Arsène Lupin) are from Philip José Farmer’s seminal biography Tarzan Alive. Sir Percy and Marguerite’s daughter, Violet Yvonne Blakeney, is from John Blakeney’s biography The Life and Exploits of the Scarlet Pimpernel (aka A Gay Adventurer.) The Ruthvenian is a book of vampiric lore featured in many interconnected books, comics, and films by Donald F. Glut. It is named after the Ruthven family, the most famous member of whom is the Lord Ruthven featured in John Polidori’s “The Vampyre.” Armand Tesla is the occult scholar and vampire played by Bela Lugosi in the film The Return of the Vampire. The trip to Would Newton (or Wold Newton, as it is better known), along with the murders occurring prior to same, were depicted in Eckert’s story “The Wild Huntsman” (The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 3, Portraits of a Trickster, Michael Croteau, ed., Meteor House, 2012.) The Countess Nadine Carody is from Jesús Franco’s horror film Vampyros Lesbos. Colonel Bozzo-Corona, Leo Lecoq (aka Lecoq de la Perière, Monsieur Lecoq’s father), and the Castle of Monteleone are from the Black Coats novels by Paul Féval. Ziska is from Alexandre Dumas père’s play The Vampire. Mondego is a relative of Fernand Mondego from Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The Giaour is from the poem of the same name by Lord Byron. Durand is the future alleged father of Violet Yvonne and her sister Hélène. M. Durand and Violet’s activities in Spanish California are detailed in Eckert’s story “Zorro’s Rival” (More Tales of Zorro, Richard Dean Starr, ed., Moonstone Books, 2011.) Hélène Durand is the mother of Andrea de Felipone (aka Sir Williams) and his half-brother Armand de Kergaz in Ponson du Terrail’s Rocambole novels. Jean-Marc Lofficier identified Hélène as Violet’s sister in his article “The Tangled Web: Genealogies of the Members of the French Wold Newton Families – Rocambole and Fantômas” (found on The French Wold Newton Universe website.) Thénardier is a relative of Madame Thénardier and her son from Victor Hugo’s classic novel Les Misérables. Kramm is the ancestor of Dr. Cornelius Kramm from Gustave le Rouge’s Le Mystérieux Dr. Cornélius. Gerolstein is the father of Rodolphe de Gerolstein from Eugène Sue’s Les Mystères de Paris. Count Aubri is from Peter Josef von Lindpaintner and Cäsar Max Hegel’s opera Der Vampyr. Count Yorga is from the films Count Yorga, Vampire and The Return of Count Yorga. Given his reappearance in the 1970s, Yorga must have been resurrected sometime after his death at Dr. Holmes’ hands in this story.