The Gaslight Jungle
King of Autumn Court
Blessing: Lethal unarmed damage
Concept: Autumn Court King
Court: Autumn Court
Originally born to a poor laborer family, John March was lucky enough to be apprenticed at an early age to his uncle, who owned a small clockmaking shop. The work was monotonous and meticulous but eventually, when John reached 21, his uncle helped to finance a watchmaking shop of John’s own.
In the years to follow, John’s shop become known to all in North London, a highly esteemed business within the community. After John married his childhood sweetheart, the shop lucked out on a visit by Prince Leopold himself in 1871. Customers came into his business by the droves after that.
His family grew to three sons in the years that followed—-children who were lavished with his attention and affection—- and a new estate in a middle class neighborhood. At 38, John savored his modest but comfortable life for the irreplaceable treasure that it was.
Tragedy unfortunately struck in 1879. John’s youngest son, Alfred, was run down by a wealthy lord’s horse when he was only 10. The lord was never arrested and the boy lingered for three days before dying of his staved-in chest.
John was devastated. Weeping, he wandered the streets of London, in pouring rain, begging God to bring back his son and to take him instead. A fanciful figure approached John where he knelt sobbing and asked him if he really meant what he said. John, in a fugue of despair and sorrow, agreed without hesitation. The man rose his cloak and John’s senses faded into darkness and confusion.
When he awoke, he found himself in a large labyrinthine forest. He was naked, save for only a rabbit pelt blanket on his back. In the distance he heard dogs barking and instinctively knew those dogs were meant for his throat. And the men that coursed behind them.
He ran harder than he had even run in his life, the snap of their jaws and the heat of their breath an ever present threat behind him. He took cover the first month in a small cave the size of a sewer drain. By the second month, he was exhausted from running, with little on his stomach and barely any will to carry on. By the third month, he had killed the hounds and their masters with his bare hands, his teeth and whatever rocks he could find around him.
John spent each murder studying what he had done, measuring their deaths like time pieces winding down…their pulses like the fading metronome of distant clocks. He heard a thin ticking every time.
Jack Coney would likely tell you John March died that year too. That the man who built trinkets for the wealthy and did his damnedest to hew to a humble life was eaten by dogs and left as scattered bones in a field. In this much, it was true.
Eventually he forget where the pelt ended and he began. He felt coarse wire sprouting from his nose, his teeth grew long and razor sharp. With each kill he found that he craved blood and flesh, craved the wish to return the hunt back on the hunters.
But most of all, he craved the blood of the malevolent and the vicious. He wanted to pay them back in their own coin… in the terror the powerful had visited upon him and upon his son.
Again and again, the Gentry who had stolen him sent monsters and men to bring back the hide of John March. And again and again, Jack Coney sent their emptied carcasses in reply.
Ten months later he managed to sneak into the castle that dominated the pastures. His claws, now long and razor sharp, gutted guards and courtiers alike in the quiet of the dark. He calmly entered his Keeper’s throne room and told the old man and woman, cowering behind armed men, that he would be leaving the estates. And that he’d use any man’s guts as garlands if they dared follow him.
Jack Coney returned to London a different man. After ruthlessly murdering the fetch that dared take up his life, he managed to return to his family and explained to them what had happened to him in Arcadia. He has since tried to piece together his old life and his new one, with varying degrees of success. But deep down, Jack Coney never stopped obsessing over that tick-tock sound of his victims. He heard it in his sleep at night and in his waking hours.
He hears it still… usually in the hearts of his enemies before he guts them.