From the records of Lord Hudson
By sorting out the targets for the cult cells and basing their locations on the ley network they would certainly be using to instantly mass communicate, Benedict and I were able to map out where to find the cells with a workable level of accuracy. The first three cells, it was close enough to strike before they realized we were there for them; a quick ambush from both of us at full power, and a portable door that tossed them straight into the dungeon as soon as they were sufficiently subdued, made short work of them. Short enough they couldn’t get a warning out. Exactly the goal, augmented by Benedict’s desire to avoid killing as much as possible.
It was nearing noon. We hadn’t heard from Matteson and Akshainie, and were beginning to wonder why. Were they having difficulty? With Matteson’s wound he would certainly be limited, and there was nothing we could do to speed his healing. But they had ways of letting us know if they needed help. Had the cult not attacked yet? If not, when were they planning to? Would the cult be on higher guard once the time for the attack came?
As we approached the fourth location, I received a call from father. He and his personal team had gone after the cell targeting the Queen, due both to proximity and the need for the true Lord Hudson to be handling something so sensitive. It was a harder fight than ours had been—they were prepared for stronger defenses, after all—but the task was finished and the cultists were in custody. He was now on his way to the cell targeting the Archbishop of Canterbury, and we had two more to handle.
This group was more well-hidden than the others. We knew they were nearby, but the area was more densely populated than the others we’d dealt with so far, and it was harder to pinpoint their locations. The others had a limited number of places they could actually be in the space; with the shops and flats surrounding us, we had no idea if our targets would even be collected in one spot. And, of course, collateral damage was much more likely here. We had to be far more careful. Benedict and I found a secluded place where I could work out a spell.
“Why are you trying to keep this a secret?” he asked, after I’d ensured we weren’t being watched.
“Are you suggesting that the rest of the world does not?” I asked.
“Well, I certainly don’t know about that. But I am certain that neither Akshainie nor Matteson will consider secrecy an important aspect of their mission if you didn’t tell them.”
“Why not? They come from somewhat civilized lands.”
“Akshainie comes from a culture that openly discusses the spiritual side of reality, and I don’t know how you think things work in the United States, but the only secrets they keep are sexual. And that, only occasionally,” he said. I stopped and looked him in the eye.
“I have been to the States. They did not seem very open about magic.”
“It’s not that they’re open about it. Most of them seem to just assume it’s around but not important to their lives. They might focus only on miracles, or get very interested in psychics, or any number of things. But they generally think of it as something that happens from time to time, just usually outside of their personal experiences, and have a tendency to explain away any minor forms of it they come across. It’s a weird balance.”
“But the end result is that Matteson will just chat about it? Be open about his involvement in the supernatural? Because it is part of his personal experience?”
“That has been the impression he’s given me.”
I groaned and refocused on the task at hand. I should have probably given them more clear directions about how to carry themselves in England, but it was too late now. I’ll just have to have a debrief with the bishop later if anything happens. The spell I need for now would be more difficult, however. I no longer had access to the magical signature I’d used to track the cult before, and even if I did, it was likely at least a bit different between cells based on their regional connection to the ley network and the specific spells they were doing in preparation. I was going to have to use the Registry.
Using the Registry was cumbersome for daily use. Augmenting my vision to compare every individual with a non-standard magical nature against the records of every single registered embodied spirit and mage across the Empire took time, and often added a slight bit of lag on my senses. Benedict would have to pick up my slack if we had to actually fight. But it was a necessary spell for every Hudson to know, because it was useful in instances like this, where I needed to be able to quickly identify members of the magical community and determine if they were a threat. The cult was not registered, and while their members could technically have registered under false affiliations, something in their file should have failed to line up if they had. Red flags and unregistered magic users would have to be my targets in this setting; hopefully, if any of them were not part of the cult, we’d be able to sort them out in questioning back at the estate. I was growing concerned that Benedict would not endorse such a system, and reactions would be even worse if he told the Americans; so I simply told him that the spell allowed me to register people affiliated with the cult. Father and I could deal with the sorting later, without our freelancers. The spell was ready and cast, and as I turned around my vision marked Benedict as an unregistered half-spirit.
“It’s ready,” I said. He nodded and let me through, and we began searching the neighborhood.
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.