New Caldwell Metropolitan Guard Cold Case Files on the Disappearance of Oliver Wolsey

~ John Klima

Item List

• Hand-copied pages from Constable Marcus Gurney’s journal

• Transcriptions of interviews conducted by Metropolitan Guard with various individuals:

– Graham Douglas

– Edgar Shipman

– Roger Blokeman


– Ignatius Howlett

• Meeting minutes from New Caldwell Tarot and Magic Guilds wherein discussion of Oliver Wolsey occurred:

– Redhands (Health and Medicine Tarot Guild)

– Speakers for the Decayed (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

• Partial tarot deck of mixed provenance

• Longshoreman’s hook, bloody (stored in paper as per instruction from the Blood Mage branch of the Metropolitan Guard)


Health and Medicine Tarot Guild Meeting
Monday, August 3rd, 1874

Members in Attendance
[REDACTED] Vice-Chair
[REDACTED] Secretary
[REDACTED] Treasurer
[REDACTED] Chair-Elect
[REDACTED] Past Chair
[REDACTED] Director
[REDACTED] Director
[REDACTED] Director

Members Not in Attendance

[REDACTED] Director
[REDACTED] Director
[REDACTED] Director
[REDACTED] Director

Guests in Attendance

Oliver Wolsey

Staff in Attendance

Nym Vernon
Reynaldo Stafford
Edgar Cromwell

1. Call to Order

Chair called meeting to order at six o’clock in the evening of the third of August, 1874.

2. Approval of Agenda

ON A MOTION MADE by [REDACTED], SECONDED by [REDACTED] and CARRIED, the agenda was approved as circulated.

3. Conflict of Interest

Director [REDACTED] recuses himself from discussion of NEW BUSINESS due to a CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

4. Approval of Previous Minutes

ON A MOTION DULY MADE by [REDACTED]SECONDED by [REDACTED] and CARRIED the draft minutes of the Guild’s meeting of the second of July were approved as presented.

5. Old Business

a. Redhands Name

[REDACTED] opened discussion on the colloquial name of the Guild—‘Redhands’—which he disdains. [REDACTED] asked the attending board for ideas of how to stop the pernicious name from the public’s tongues.

[REDACTED] stated that there was no way to control the public and since ‘Redhands’ was spoken often under auspices of fear, that the Guild should embrace it.

Followed a moment of shouting by several Guild members including [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED] among others. Chair banged the gavel until the shouting wore down. He declared this business closed.

Chair noted this was the sixteenth consecutive meeting that [REDACTED] had brought this item to the agenda with no solution and no movement towards change. It was declared to be un-agendable in the future.

b. Membership

[REDACTED] reported that after reviewing membership files after last meeting there was no need to seek out new members. [REDACTED] apologized for wasting Oliver Wolsey’s time as his petition for membership would not be brought to the Guild at this time.

6. New Business

a. Printing Press

[REDACTED] MADE A MOTION to stop using The Elementary Pot printing house and purchase a printing press for the Guild to create tarot cards in private. The MOTION was SECONDED by [REDACTED] and CARRIED via ROLL CALL VOTE.

b. Card Manufacture

[REDACTED] made a subsequent MOTION that [REDACTED], while recused from discussion, be put in charge of purchasing the printing press and then card manufacture given his experience in the field. SECONDED by [REDACTED] and CARRIED via ROLL CALL VOTE.

7. Committee Reports


8. Staff Reports

Nym Vernon reported that the staff had found a solution for the rat problem in the Guild’s kitchens, namely obtaining several cats. Vernon also reported that construction had finished on the upstairs residences and after a coat of paint the Guild officers could move in.

Edgar Cromwell reported that their current launderer had switched soaps and was causing their robes to become pink rather than retaining their deep scarlet. The Chair gave permission to seek a new launderer.

9. Adjournment

ON A MOTION MADE by [REDACTED], SECONDED by [REDACTED] and CARRIED, the meeting was adjourned at nine o’clock.


Hand-copied transcript of Constable Marcus Gurney’s journal, entry dated August 6th

Thinking back on last night I will endeavor to put my thoughts into a reasonable facsimile of sense and order.

Not long into my beat around the Nine Points a pair of youths caught my attention and brought me down to the nearby docks. The young men directed me to where a crowd gathered near Pier Four. My constable’s badge and dragon’s ash truncheon opened a path for me to the center of the assembled mass of humanity.

I could immediately see what had transformed their curiosity into general unruliness. A dark-skinned man lay on the pier in a growing pool of blood, a bloody longshoreman’s hook on the wooden pier beside him.

The crowd seemed both fearful and disdainful of this man. I recognized him as a soldier under my commend from my days in the Royal Navy and moved in close to see what I could do.

I called him by name, James, and cradled his head in my lap, shocking many in the crowd. My memory was of a good sailor, strong swimmer, and fearless soldier.

James recognized me and grabbed my coat forcibly. He told me I had to find the boy, had to avenge this terrible act of bodily harm. I assured James that I would do everything in my power to bring about justice. There was little that could be done to save his life. The most I could do was make him comfortable.

James said that the scurrilous scamp stole from him. That they had agreed upon a price for the scrimshaw and the young man did not have enough money. The scrimshaw had not been easy to obtain and James wanted true value for his efforts.

James was attacked from behind by the honorless youth and gutted like some bottom feeder. Then the youth took the scrimshaw from him and ran.

James repeated this story several times as the Metropolitan Guard Crime Investigation Squad arrived with their arcane leather portmanteaus to gather evidence and do what they could to solve the crime.

James went still in my arms. He had expired.

Upon seeing James dead, the MGCIS stopped and conferred with each other. Then, they picked up the hook from the pier, stored it in one of their evidence bags, and left the scene.

I found it disgraceful that the MGCIS did nothing more than collect a single piece of evidence and leave without interviewing any of the crowd. All the same, with James expired, the crowd dispersed and went back to their everyday business.

I spent the remainder of my shift finding someone who would take James’ body and ensure that it was interred properly. There was little to no hope of finding family but the least I could do was make sure his body wasn’t left on the piers for the rats.

Upon returning to the station, my sergeant berated me for a full half hour for wasting time on dark scum when I could have been helping good citizens. I disagreed with the assessment of wasted time, but I kept my mouth shut.


Partial tarot deck of mixed provenance

Major Arcana 0 – The Fool – missing

Major Arcana I – The Magician – missing

Major Arcana II – Fire (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana III – Water (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana IV – Air (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana V – Earth (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana VI – The Lovers – missing

Major Arcana VII – The Chariot – missing

Major Arcana VIII – Equity (Health and Medicine Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana IX – Philosopher (Health and Medicine Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana X – Wheel of Fortune – cast in bronze and image etched deeply into its surface

Major Arcana XI – Strength – missing

Major Arcana XII – The Hanged Man – missing

Major Arcana XIII – Death – missing

Major Arcana XIV – Temperance – missing

Major Arcana XV – Illness (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana XVI – The Tower – missing

Major Arcana XVII – Blood (Health and Medicine Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana XVIII – The Moon – carved from scrimshaw. When held one can hear crashing waves from the ocean.

Major Arcana XIX – Misery (Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild)

Major Arcana XX – Judgment – image tattooed on skin of unknown mammal, perhaps human, attached to card-sized piece of dragon’s ash.

Major Arcana XXI – The World – missing

Minor Arcana from Communication with the Dead Tarot (Pentacles and Cups; with exceptions noted below, only the Two, Five, Six, and Nine of Pentacles, and the Three, Six, and Eight of Cups were found with this deck)

• Minor Arcana from Battle Guild Tarot (Swords; with exceptions noted below, only the Two of Swords was found with the deck)

• Minor Arcana from Health and Medicine Guild (Wands; with exceptions noted below, only the Three, Five, and Six of Wands were found with this deck)

Noted Exceptions:

• Ace of Pentacles, Ace of Cups, Ace of Swords, and Ace of Wands – cards made of thin marble sheets with mother-of-pearl inlay. The card backs are blank.

•Three of Cups, Six of Wands, Nine of Pentacles, and Nine of Swords – cards made of dried sheets of seaweed with simple ink designs drawn on the front.

• Knave of Pentacles – card made of glass with exquisitely painted card front. The card back has repeating designs of pentacles etched into the glass surface.

• Knave of Cups – card is made of a delicate, thin piece of black shale; one of its corners is slightly crumbled. The card front looks blank. The card is identifiable due to its back having der Schurke der Tassen written on it in chalk.

• Knave of Swords – card scorched as if set aflame; front and back damaged to the point where it is unable to determine the image on the front nor the design on the back.

• Knave of Wands – card is made of dragon’s ash with design burned into the card front. The card back is blank.


Interview of Graham Douglas, Captain of The Walpole
(conducted by Inspector Chauncey Gibb)
Friday August 7th, 1874

Chauncey Gibb: Can you tell me how you knew James Gough?

Graham Douglas: Guff? Is that how you pronounce it?

CG: [pause] I believe so.

GD: Well, I learn something new every day. That’s how I stay so young! Always learning!

CG: And how did you know him?

GD: James was a sailor on The Walpole. Good sailor. Had Naval experience.

CG: Was it a problem that the man was dark skinned?

GD: Not for me, sir. Now, I don’t like what you’re implying, that he was mistreated just because of the color of his—

CG: Did his shipmates have issue with his skin color?

GD: No sir. If any did, I’d have them overboard before you can say spit. He was a Navy man! Lots of folks don’t have that type of muster but James did. And I’ll let you know, if he was good enough for His Majesty’s Navy, he’s more than good enough for me!

CG: Was it possible that someone on the crew resented his Naval past, maybe a crew member that couldn’t pass the Naval exams?

[The record states that Graham Douglas paused before shaking his head.]

GD: Look, I’m not as much a fool as I appear. I’m sure there were men on the ship that had never worked with someone like James, but I tell you, he worked for me for two, three years. If there was problems with the crew, there’s no way he would last that long.

CG: What kind of cargo does The Walpole carry?

GD: Nothing unusual. We start up the coast to the north, picking up lumber, whales, furs . . . the type of things you can’t get down here. We head south, drop some cargo off, pick some up—textiles, wheat, corn, and the like—and then head further south. At the end we drop off the last of cargo from the north, some from around here, and pick up cotton, sugar, and such. Then we head back up coast making stops along the way. By the time we’re back north again The Walpole is empty and sitting high in the water.

CG: No slaves or firearms?

GD: No sir. No illegal cargo. There’s too much money to make with legitimate work.

CG: What do you know about Oliver Wolsey?

GD: That bastard. Killed one of my best sailors. I’d put a hook to him were he in front of me! Is he a big bloke?

CG: What? No, Wolsey is a youth. Barely over five feet tall.

GD: Huh. James was a big man. Tall for sure, I’m surprised Wolsey got the best of him.

CG: From what we can tell, Wolsey surprised him from behind. So you say you never met Wolsey?

GD: No. I wouldn’t know the man if he was you.

CG: Any idea what Gough and he would have in common?

GD: James was a friend to the whalers up north. Did a tidy side business selling carved whale bone . . . scrimshaw? I suspect that bastard wanted some of that and James stood his ground on his price.

CG: You didn’t care that one of your employees worked on the side?

GD: I don’t allow sailors to do trade on The Walpole and they can’t be looking to make an extra coin if there’s still work to do. If their work is done, their time is their business. They know my work is good so they’ll be back in the morning.

CG: If you think of anything else, please contact us.

GD: I will but don’t sit up waiting for me.


Interview of Edgar Shipman, longshoreman in New Caldwell Seaport, member of The Hive union
(conducted by Inspector Chauncey Gibb)
Friday August 7th, 1874

Chauncey Gibb: Can you tell me how you knew James Gough?

Edgar Shipman: He’s that darkskin that got killed the other night?

CG: He was. Yes.

ES: I knew of him. We didn’t trade words.

CG: What about scrimshaw?

ES: I wouldn’t touch anything from him if it came with a year’s supply of golden pussy.

CG: Are you saying you did not like the man?

ES: I’m saying I don’t know him. And I have no time for his type. The only way we’d talk is if he was in my way to the pub.

CG: So you wouldn’t quarrel with the man?

ES: I don’t start stuff. If he came at me, he should be prepared for a fight.

CG: From what I hear, the Hive is barely more than a gang of thugs ready to fight at the merest provocation. You’re telling me someone like you who has a severe dislike of darkskinned people and is a proud member of the Hive wouldn’t go out of your way to create problems for James Gough?

ES: [silent for a long time] We’ve been told to leave The Walpole and its crew alone. I won’t say no more about it and that’s more than you should hear.

CG: Did you know Oliver Wolsey?

ES: Agh. That little blighter was under everyone’s feet. Always with the questions about the seaport and cargo and how we unload cargo. If you want to know about someone I would go out of my way to fuck with? That Wolsey is one.

CG: Where were you on the night of August 5th?

ES: Don’t know. Drinking or fucking. That’s all I do at night. Eventually I blackout and someone wakes me to come empty some cargo.

CG: So you weren’t in the seaport when Wolsey attacked Gough?

ES: I wasn’t on that pier, but I never really leave the seaport. To be honest inspector? I would’ve been just like the rest of the crowd if I was there. Standing and watching. Not helping. There’s no money to be made in being kind to people.

CG: If you think of anything else, please contact us.

ES: Oh, no thank you, inspector.

[The record notes that shipman tore Inspector Gibb’s card in half before departing.]


Interview – David Blokeman, proprietor of The Beautiful Lamp
(conducted by Inspector Chauncey Gibb)
Tuesday August 11th, 1874

David Blokeman: Are you here to help me with my claim of insurance?

Chauncey Gibb: Um, no. I’m with the Metropolitan Guard. Can you tell me how you knew Oliver Wolsey?

DB: Is that the name of the asshole that started a fucking fire and swung a fucking giant sword around? I’ve got notches in my joist work deep enough that I’m afraid to sleep upstairs!

CG: So you never met Wolsey before he entered your bar the other morning?

DB: No. Never saw the kid before. I thought about not letting him in but he had coin for a drink and coin wins over better judgment I guess.

CG: He hardly seems old enough to drink.

DB: As far as I know inspector there’s no limit to how young you can be to taste a pint of ale. I’ve made the choice to not have kids of my own and then have to worry about bad choices they make, I’m certainly not going to worry about someone else’s kids’ bad choices.

CG: Did you notice anything unusual about Wolsey?

DB: Like I said, he was young and that always makes me suspicious. Then he kept fiddling with his damn tarot. They always make me nervous. I don’t like Guild folk in my tavern and flashing cards around is one way to get the Guilds sniffing about.

CG: Why not ask him to leave?

DB: He had coin and was taking his sweet damn time finishing his beer. Probably the first time he ever tasted it and couldn’t understand why everyone loves it so much.

CG: When did Constable Gurney arrive?

DB: Probably a few hours after Wolsey. I don’t keep track of everyone but I suspect Gurney comes into The Lamp around eleven every day. He has lunch.

CG: Does he drink on the job?

DB: He has lunch.

CG: Did Gurney mention anything about Wolsey?

DB: Oh aye. We made a deep conversation about the lad. Wondering where his mother was and if we should take him in like a stray cat.

CG: There’s no need for cheek my good man.

DB: Probably not, but that’s what I have to give. Gurney saw him and asked a question or two about him. Unlike me, Gurney always needs to know why.

CG: When did you notice the Redhands?

DB: To be fair, I didn’t. But in a bit, when Gurney heads over to Wolsey’s table, he motions for a round of drinks. I see him looking toward the corner of the room, and that’s when I saw ‘em, but only because I felt like they wanted to be seen. Does that make sense?

CG: Some. What happened next?

DB: You see, my memory is a little fuzzy about that. I’m in back a lot because I’m preparing for the dock workers to come in after the ships are emptied and restocked. I was coming out front when it felt like the whole place is spinning like after the war when we all had too much drink.

CG: The floor was spinning?

DB: Not for real. It just felt like it was. As quickly as I feel it, it stops. I get out front to see what’s happening and before I can round the corner of the bar, I hear shouting.

One of the Redhands is partway out the door but he’s laying on the ground on fire. Wolsey has a great big sword in his hands. Gurney has his truncheon out, but he isn’t getting too close to that blade. The other Redhands is peeling cards off a deck and speaking quietly.

I think about heading right back into the kitchen when there’s a bright flash of light. So bright it near blinded me. I can’t really speak to what happened.

I heard Gurney shouting that Wolsey should put down his sword and back up against the wall. Wolsey was shouting something about not letting the Redhands take him alive. There was a lot of other noise but nothing I could make out.

By the time my eyes cleared up, there was just Gurney in the bar talking to some inspectors. The Redhands were gone. Wolsey was gone.

CG: Thank you. You’ve been very helpful. If you think of anything else, please contact us.

DB: I will. If you see an insurer out and about, send them here.


Hand-copied transcript of Constable Marcus Gurney’s journal, entry dated August 11th

I met Oliver Wolsey yesterday, murderer of former Lance Corporal James Gough, and more importantly, someone I considered a friend. At first, I did not know who he was or I would have worked to apprehend him on the spot.

The Sergeant had shared his name out before the constables were released to their beats. I had a name and the vaguest description. He could have been any number of youths I pass on a daily basis.

As it was, I entered The Beautiful Lamp yesterday midday for my standard meal and pint. I noted a youth sitting a table with a mostly full pint glass playing with an unusual deck of cards. Initially I was not aware that they were tarot.

David, the proprietor, already had my pint on the bar and I knew the food would be coming shortly. I liked to get in before the dock workers finished up unloading and loading ships at the seaport. The Lamp got loud and disorderly and I liked a bit of quiet. It also didn’t make sense to spend a lot of time breaking up fights and arguments when it was just men blowing off steam. If I was there as a member of the Metropolitan Guard, it would behoove me to uphold the law which would not endear me to anyone.

I asked James about the young man and he mentioned that the youth was at the front door when he opened up for the day. The youth had coin and the bar was empty. James would chase him out when the dock workers arrived.

I ate my meal—some delicious fried fish and potatoes—but kept an eye on the young man. At that moment it was clear to me that he was working with a tarot deck and not one of the gambling decks James kept behind the bar for the workers.

The young man played a few cards from a Diviners tarot, which was odd as he was not dressed in the Diviners Guild vestments. It varied from guild to guild, but in general the guilds did not like outsiders using their cards.

I went to put more fish in my mouth and almost missed when the next card he placed was from the Battle Tarot Guild. I had never heard of someone blending decks. I decided to have a word with the young man.

I was finishing my pint when he laid out a card carved from scrimshaw. When the card hit the table, it glowed softly. There was no chance that was a coincidence. He fit the description from the Sergeant and the scrimshaw settled it for me: this was my suspect.

I set down my empty glass and readied myself to walk over when he pulled a cream-colored card with a single red handprint on its back and set it into his tableau. What I had taken for a nervous tick of looking towards the door was now clearly the young man keeping an eye on the pair sitting in a dark corner of the tavern.

Their red vestments were so dark I hadn’t noticed them at first, but there were two members of the Health and Medicine Tarot Guild watching the young man.

Known as Redhands, the Health and Medicine Tarot Guild definitely did not allow their cards to be handled by anyone outside their guild. How Oliver came to possess such cards was beyond my imagination.

I knew it was imperative to apprehend Oliver, not just to hold him accountable for the murder of James Gough, but to protect him from the Health and Medicine Tarot Guild. If they got their hands on him, James’ killer would never see justice.

I moved to Oliver’s table and he tried to get me to leave him alone. I appealed to his wellbeing and good judgment to get him out of the tavern safely. Oliver scoffed and said that he could take care of himself.

I took a different tack and said that I didn’t want my favorite tavern getting busted up in whatever was going to happen between him and the guild members in the corner.

Oliver didn’t answer; he just pulled an over-sized card from his deck whose back was covered in elephants and crocodiles. I wasn’t sure which guild those cards were from. Then he smiled at me—the cheek of this youth!—and drew a card that looked like polished bronze and set it in the center of his tableau. A Wheel of Fortune was etched delicately into the card’s front.

When he placed it, it appeared that the cards were floating above, beneath, and in the table. As I watched, the table appeared to revolve slowly and I had to grip its sides to keep from falling out of my chair.

I tried to speak, but my mind was busy trying to keep from sliding away. The entire floor felt like it was tipping slowly and that I was certain to crash down into it before too long.

Oliver swept the cards up and shuffled his deck with a giggle and the room stopped moving.

I had to get this situation under control.

I called him kid and Oliver corrected me with his full name. One of the two Redhands stood and left the tavern quickly. I shouted for him to stop but he kept going.

Oliver shuffled the deck rapidly but I could tell his attention was on the remaining Redhands. I looked over and saw the guild member was shuffling his own deck.

He moved rapidly.

He stood and swung his right hand forward in one motion. A huge flash of light nearly blinded me. I could see indistinct shapes, but nothing more.

As my eyes cleared up, I saw Oliver push himself back from the table, put his hands together, and pulled a long glowing sword from somewhere. A smoldering card fell to the table.

The guild member threw another card at Oliver and he blocked it with his sword and rushed the guild member who stood stock still, clearly not expecting Oliver to be able to fight back.

Neither had been trained to fight as I had. I was between them before either knew I was moving. I met Oliver’s sword with my truncheon which stopped the sword, but it bit into the wood which should not have been possible.

The Redhands threw another card but this one exploded into a thick cloud of smoke when it struck the floor. I was trying to wrest the sword from Oliver’s hands and therefore wasn’t able to stop this guild member either. I could smell burning as the smoke did not clear.

Oliver’s sword hit my truncheon a second time but turned into mist. Because I was pressing so hard against the sword, when it disappeared I toppled to the floor. Before I could regain my feet, Oliver was over me and out the door.

I worked with Blokeman to get the fire out.

My superior insisted that Oliver must have had the sword on him and that I merely missed it. I agreed that he was correct. But we both knew that magic was a thing that happened in New Caldwell even if the official Metropolitan Guard line was to deny its existence. That was absurd as members of all the Mage Unions worked within the Metropolitan Guard departments.


Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild Board Meeting
August 13th, 1874

Board Members in Attendance

Ford Xavier (President)
Gregory Fullmore (Vice-President)
Sid Fawns (Secretary)
Roscoe Matson (Treasurer)
Gerald Collins
Ignatius Howlett
Emmet Norman
Richard Purcell
Bryan Potter
Percival Xavier

Board Members Not in Attendance

Elder Cook
Virgil Gleeson
Benedict Smith
Orrin Skidd.

1. Call to Order

Chair called meeting to order at eight o’clock in the evening of the thirteenth of August, 1874.

2. Approval of Agenda

ON A MOTION MADE by Howlett, SECONDED by Potter and CARRIED, the agenda was approved as circulated.

3. Conflict of Interest


4. Approval of Previous Minutes

ON A MOTION DULY MADE by Collins SECONDED by Howlett and CARRIED the draft minutes of the Guild’s meeting of the seventeenth of July were approved as presented.

5. Old Business

a. Membership Dues

Treasurer Matson read off a list of members who still needed to pay their dues. He reminded all those present that the Guild could not run itself as a business and be considered a serious Guild if they did not have the funds owed from members. All members of the Guild were vetted prior to being allowed and as such, the Guild knew that everyone could afford the dues.

President Xavier MADE A MOTION that dues needed to be paid before the next meeting or membership would be revoked. MOTION SECONDED by Howlett and CARRIED in a unanimous vote.

b. Vestments

Treasurer Matson reported that new vestments had arrived from the tailor and were available for all fully paid members.

6. New Business

a. Oliver Wolsey

Ignatius Howlett wanted to bring to the Guild’s attention that there was a young man going about New Caldwell brazenly using cards from multiple Guilds. Howlett had it on good authority that this Wolsey character held multiple Communication with the Dead Tarot cards and thought the board should launch an investigation into how Wolsey obtained the cards.

Purcell MOVED that the board form an investigatory committee which was SECONDED by Howlett and CARRIED in a unanimous vote.

b. Membership Dues Increase

Treasurer Matson indicated that the board should consider raising dues if it was going to continue its push for new members. The Guildhall was a historical building in a prime area, and those costs were not going to go down in the future.

Additionally, the tarot cards were quite expensive to manufacture and since the board was unwilling to change the materials used in card manufacture, those costs had to be covered somewhere.

President Xavier clarified that board was not going to move the Guildhall to a new location as it was a major reason that attracted new members and members of the public looking for its services. President Xavier further explained that it wasn’t just merely being unwilling to change the cards structure, but that they were unable to because changing the materials used to manufacture the cards would render them unusable for the Guild’s activities in communicating with the dead.

President Xavier TABLED discussion on this matter for the next meeting.

7. Committee Reports

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE reported that they had ten new members ready for vetting. Treasurer Matson questioned if it was sensible to be increasing membership numbers so rapidly.

President Xavier explained that if the Guild wanted to compete with the Prophets of the Unknown, then increasing its numbers was the only way.

Howlett MADE A MOTION to have the potential candidates vetted and invited to the next meeting. MOTION SECONDED by President Xavier and CARRIED unanimously.

No other committees met since the last meeting.

8. Staff Reports


9. Adjournment

ON A MOTION MADE by Howlett, SECONDED by Purcell and CARRIED, the meeting was adjourned at nine o’clock.


Interview of [NAME REDACTED], member of Health and Medicine Tarot Guild
(Conducted by Inspector Chauncey Gibb)
Friday August 14th, 1874

Chauncey Gibb, Inspector: How did the Health and Medicine Tarot Guild become aware of Oliver Wolsey?

[NAME REDACTED]: He was invited to a board meeting by [REDACTED]. I understand he was to petition to become a member.

CG: Does your Guild take on a lot of new members?


CG: So it was unusual for Wolsey to actually attend a meeting to request becoming a member?

[NR]: Yes, very much so.

CG: Was there ever any serious thought given to listening to his plea?

[NR]: No.

CG: How did Wolsey appear at the meeting? Was he nervous? Excited?


CG: One could surmise that Wolsey would be disappointed to give up his time to attend a purposeless meeting. He could even reasonably be angry at his treatment.

[NR]: The Health and Medicine Tarot Guild is not a social club. If Wolsey did the research he purported to have done, he would know before attending the meeting that the chance of him successfully becoming a member was essentially zero.

CG: So why bother?

[NR]: You would have to ask him that.

CG: We will.

[NR]: So the Metropolitan Guard has him in custody?

CG: I cannot comment on the status of our investigation. What was the Guild’s reaction when you learned that Wolsey was using tarot from your Guild without permission?


CG: I’m surprised you would admit that to a member of the Metropolitan Guard.


CG: Sir, I’m confident in our investigation. The Guild should step aside and let the proper authorities handle this matter.


CG: Thank you sir. You have my card should you need to reach me.


Interview of Ignatius Howlett, member of Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild
(Conducted by Inspector Chauncey Gibb)
Friday August 14th, 1874

Chauncey Gibb: How did the Communication with the Dead Tarot Guild become aware of Oliver Wolsey?

Ignatius Howlett: Some of our agents, Guild staff you know, reported to us that there was a young man, recently arrived to New Caldwell, that was flashing an unusual tarot deck to anyone who wanted to see. It was Wolsey, and he had cards from our tarot, which isn’t allowed.

CG: Does the Guild do anything to enforce who has access to your tarot?

IH: We have very strict ordinances in place to regulate who can enter and exit the facilities where our tarot are made. At least I thought we had strict ordinances in place. We are an exclusive Guild, not for just any member of society. No, we are made up of the best, the highest members of society. It irks me to no end that this wastrel was able to steal Tarot from us.

CG: So how would Wolsey have gone about obtaining your Tarot?

IH: I honestly have no idea. I suspect some member of our staff feels underpaid or some such nonsense and took money from this ragamuffin for a handful of tarot. You see, to most people I suspect their understanding is so lacking that the tarot appear as nothing more than glorified playing cards, but they are much more than that.

CG: Your staff understands the tarot? Understands the power of the cards?

IH: Under my oversight, staff was fully vetted prior to hiring. Background checks, references, sponsorship by members . . .

But now that my talents are needed elsewhere in the Guild I suspect that all is lacking now and Potter and Xavier—Percival Xavier, not President Xavier—are doing a right shoddy job of hiring staff.

CG: Is it possible that Wolsey stole the cards?

IH: I’d actually prefer to learn that he stole them rather than obtaining them through some malfeasance by staff. We’ve created an investigatory committee to look into the matter.

CG: Excellent. I’ll give you my card so you can provide us with any new information you feel is relevant.

IH: Of course. And here is my card in case you need to ask any more questions. I’m always more than happy to talk about the Guild.


Hand-copied transcript of Constable Marcus Gurney’s journal, entry dated Sunday August 16th

The Nine Points is a difficult place to investigate crime. Gang activity makes residents reluctant to talk in the best of times. Now I needed to find someone in the Nine Points who was playing with fire as far as the Tarot Guilds were concerned and I doubted whether I could find anyone willing to talk.

I left word for my typical informants that I was trying to locate Wolsey. Normally they needed a day or two to gather information and that was time I did not have. It was a long shot to ask them for help, but I had to try everything I could.

I wandered in and out of the typical places criminals went to when trying to lay low, but there was no sign of Wolsey and everyone refused to talk to me.

I was too well known and it was too well known what I wanted.

I stood at an empty street corner thinking about my next move. Any other night I would have to watch out for fast-moving carriages, street toughs, magicians, street walkers, and even the occasionally higher-class person looking for something out of the ordinary.

The fact that the streets were empty was a bad sign. I figured my best hope would be to find Wolsey’s body.

Something prodded me in the back and a rough voice told me not to turn around. The voice gave me a recent location of Wolsey and encouraged me to hurry.

Wolsey’s room at the New Caldwell Youth Association was essentially bare. There were few affects and little in the way of belongings.

Wolsey was gone. I held little hope of getting another tip to his whereabouts. But sometimes luck is on your side.

On a side table was a stack of tarot cards. I picked them up and put them in my pocket. There was a scrap of paper on the table and when I picked it up it was an attempt at forgery for a ticket on a ship heading south.

I headed to the seaport as fast as I could. I doubted I would find Wolsey on the ship scrawled on the fake ticket now in my pocket, but again, I had to follow what leads I had.

When I arrived at the dock in question, the ship was already away from the pier and heading out to sea.

It was too far to be certain, but I would swear an oath that standing at the stern of the boat was Wolsey. He was waving to me. If I squinted, I could imagine a smile on his face.

He had gotten away but he could never return. New Caldwell was now closed to him. If he ever came back, I would likely only learn about it because he was in the morgue.

Knight of Swords


John Klima previously worked in New York’s publishing jungle before returning to school to earn his Master’s in Library Science. He now works full time as the Technology Manager of a large public library. John edited and published the Hugo Award-winning genre zine Electric Velocipede from 2001 to 2013.

When he is not conquering the world of indexing, John writes short stories and novels. He and his family live in the Midwest.

 [ issue 5 : winter 2022 ]