'Declan!' she yelled, 'How did it go?'
'Great,' he replied, 'I managed to track down an old mate who used to be buddies with the cousin of a guy whose girlfriend's best friend was a werewolf and... what?' he asked as he looked at her amused face.
Eleanor shook her head and laughed, 'Carry on.'
'Well, he knows the leader of the wolves in the London area and he's set up a meet. But we can't be late, we've got to head out immediately.'
Eleanor nodded and grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair just as Lana and Emma appeared at her door.
'We're coming too,' they said in unison.
'No, that's not the best idea, girls.'
'We'd really like to come along, Eleanor. Please,' Lana said, fluttering her eyelashes.
Eleanor looked across at Declan, who shrugged his shoulders, 'It can't do any harm,' he said.
'Okay then, come on. We're leaving now.'
Outside the main house, Declan pulled the door shut and the four of them headed towards the British Museum, Declan having agreed to meet in a small green area a few doors down from the popular spot.
As they approached, Declan saw them first. Eight burly men surrounded the rather tall leader who stood in the centre with his head held high. Their fists were scrunched up and their eyes squinted as the Watchers slowed in front of them. All of them seemed to be on guard, standing with their legs wide apart and arms crossed, like some kind of freaky armed forces SWAT team.
'Declan?' asked one of them, before brushing a massive hand through his streaky grey and white hair.
Declan nodded curtly and stopped, waiting.
'And the other?'
'This is Eleanor Hayden-Jones, she's the.....'
'The Guardian of the Watchers,' interrupted the tall, attractive man who stood in the centre. His serious, chiselled face lit up as he pushed his eight body guards to one side. 'It's alright, fellas.'
The burly men uncrossed their arms but continued to keep a sharp eye on their surroundings.
Eleanor held her hand outstretched as the tall one pumped it up and down.
'Good to meet ya, Miss Jones.'
'Eleanor, please,' she replied.
'Eleanor... I wasn't expecting you. They didn't tell me I was to be meeting with the Guardian.'
Eleanor smiled, relieved that he was a friendly werewolf. 'I'm glad you agreed to meet with us. This is Declan, my right hand man, and Emma and Lana.'
The man with the long grey hair turned and shook their hands with a warm smile.
'I... I wasn't expecting someone so friendly,' whispered Emma to Lana on the side.
Suddenly he threw back his head and laughed.
'I get that a lot,' he said. 'I'm Giovanni, by the way.'
Declan raised his eyebrows, 'An Italian werewolf in London?'
Giovanni smiled, 'Yes, I was born here though, I'm an Italian Londoner. Right, let's get down to business. What can I do for you?'
'We've been led to the werewolves in our search for an ancient artefact that we believe is responsible for all this mayhem,' Eleanor said. 'We're hoping you can help us get to the bottom of it all.'
'I'm not sure how, but I'll try,' he answered.
'Good, thank you. We need to go back a few years though. We've been following the whereabouts of a man named Phillip James Bottomley from the 1930s. We believe he came to London towards the end of that decade to meet with a werewolf. The trouble is, that's as far as we've got. We need to find out the identity of that werewolf so we can ask him some questions.'
Giovanni nodded and flicked the cigarette he'd been smoking to the ground before twisting his foot on top of it.
'We do know that werewolves live very long lives, so we're hoping to find him still alive,' she smiled.
'And the name of this werewolf?'
Declan went from one foot to the other as Eleanor sighed, 'Yes well, therein lies the problem. We don't have a name.'
'Right, I see your predicament now. So all you know is that this fella, Phillip James Bottomley, you say?'
'He came to London to see a werewolf?'
Eleanor nodded again.
'It's a tough one, but I can ask around. Fellas?' His eight bodyguards turned to their leader and nodded their heads as Giovanni explained what he needed to know. 'Now go,' he instructed.
Suddenly, each one of the men burst out of their clothes, leaving ripped bits of fabric all over the grass, and large wolves standing at Giovanni's feet. Each one seemed to be different from the next. The guy with the streaky grey and white hair appeared to have the same coloured mane of hair running along his back, while the one standing next to him had fur the colour of charcoal. They were massive, stocky and strong.
Turning from Giovanni, they jumped away, running as fast as they could around the streets of London.
'Here's one advantage of having time stand still,' chuckled Giovanni. 'They wouldn't be able to do that ordinarily, not in such plain sight.'
'Of course,' Eleanor said. 'Perhaps a cup of tea, while we wait?'
'No need, Eleanor, my boys will be back in just a few minutes,' he said as the eerie sound of howling echoed all around them.
Lana and Emma both shivered at the creepiness of the sound as they stood, leaning against the fence, waiting patiently for news.
But before the news came, something else caught their attention. The sound of footsteps.
All five of them immediately stood on guard, each one looking around them to find the source of the sound. It soon became apparent, however, that the footsteps belonged to more than one person and these people weren't quite as friendly as Giovanni was.
Within moments, they were surrounded by a group of people wearing black.
The sound of snarling erupted from Giovanni's lips as he prepared himself for a fight.
'Skulls,' whispered Eleanor.
Apart from the snarling, everything remained silent.
'What do you want?' asked Eleanor as she looked at each of the faces until she spotted one that was familiar. It was the man she'd briefly sparred with earlier that day.
She could see his jaw clenching as he ground his teeth and his black eyes were like slits as he stared her down, but Eleanor wasn't buying it. She held her head high and smiled confidently. She knew something that he clearly did not.
A moment later, the Skulls became agitated as a noise filled the air. It was the sound of countless more footsteps. Suddenly, the square was full of Watchers. Students and Mentors alike. They all stood staring, waiting for the Skulls to try something.
Giovanni looked around and began to laugh as the Skulls retreated back to where they'd come from. They were outnumbered and weren't prepared to fight so many.
'Thanks for keeping an eyes on us, Wilbur,' Eleanor shouted a few minutes later.
Wilbur appeared and winked at her as he gathered the students back together. 'Just following orders,' he smiled.
'Why didn't we take them on?' asked Rupert who walked towards Emma and Lana.
'There was no need, Rupert,' Declan said. 'We don't want to cause a war.'
'But there weren't that many of them,' he said, practically pouting.
'Not this time,' Eleanor said with a raised eyebrow. 'But there are far too many Skulls to go to war with, unfortunately.'
The sound of howling could be heard again and soon, the square was filled with not eight, but nine werewolves.
Approaching Giovanni, they stopped before the sound of cracking bones echoed around them, making both Lana and Emma cover their ears. The beasts kept low to the ground before turning back to men when they stood up, revealing all their n***d splendour right in front of the Watchers.
Lana's eyes nearly popped out of her sockets as Declan tried hard not to laugh at her reaction, whereas Emma tried hard to look away. Eleanor remained professional as one of the men turned to face her.
'I can tell you what you need to know,' said the man with short brown hair.
'I knew the man you are looking for, but I'm sorry to say that he was killed in 1941. His name was Rogue and he spent an awful lot of time with the man you know as Phillip James Bottomley. Rogue wasn't a good guy, mind you. You ought to know that. He and Phillip caused quite a lot of problems down on the south east coast.'
'What can you tell us about an ancient artefact that Phillip brought to London with him?' Eleanor asked.
The man thought for a moment, 'I do recall there was something they tried to sell but I don't know if they succeeded.'
'Did you ever see it?' Declan asked.
He scratched his chin and looked to the floor, 'Yes, I did, actually. An odd looking stone that glowed different colours. It had tiny bumps on it, I think.'
'That's it!' said Lana, 'That's the Temporal Stone.'
'Is there anything else you can tell us about Rogue and Phillip?' Eleanor asked.
He chewed his lip before his eyes lit up, 'There was a third person. Another guy who used to spend time with them on and off. Not a wolf, though. Erm, I believe he was a vamp. Went by the name of Barber, I think.'
'That's very helpful. Thank you so much,' Eleanor replied as the man nodded and stepped backwards.
'Giovanni, thank you for all your help. We really do appreciate it. Perhaps we can repay the favour one of these days?'
Giovanni smiled warmly and took Eleanor's hands in his, 'It would be good to see you again, Eleanor. Just give me a call if I can ever be of assistance again, and good luck,' he said as he deftly removed something from his pocket and handed his business card to her.
'I will,' she said as Giovanni and his pack walked away.
Eleanor watched him go with a smile and a very slight blush to her cheeks. A blush that didn't go unnoticed by Lana and Emma.
Back below ground, at Praxos HQ, Jimble waited patiently for the return of his friends. He wandered from room to room, inspecting each one in awe. He'd never seen anything like it, perhaps in part due to his severe allergy to house dust.
Soon his ears pricked at the sound of footsteps, a lot of footsteps. Nervously, he hid behind a beanbag in the white room and waited.
'Did you see them? First time I ever saw any Skulls,' a young man said as he walked past the door along with his two friends.
'Yeah I know. Ugly bunch weren't they? I wasn't afraid of them at all.'
A chuckled followed. 'You would be if they caught you alone,' said another.
Jimble remained hidden from sight as more and more students walked past the door until a couple eventually entered the room. Watching them, Jimble was unsure what to do. He didn't know these people and was therefore worried about their reaction.
A sudden yell told him he'd been seen, so he slowly walked out from behind his hiding place with a nervous grin.
'Please don't yell, yell. It's just me, me. You've nothing to be scared of, scared of,' he mumbled as he shuffled with his back against the wall.
'You're a pixie troll!' shouted a voice.
Soon the room was full of students, wondering what all the fuss was about.
'Don't go near it,' said the same voice. 'It might freeze you. Keep your distance everybody.'
'What's going on?' asked a familiar voice.
Daisy appeared in the doorway and pushed the young Watchers out of the way until she spotted Jimble cowering in a corner. Rushing to his side, she knelt down to face him.
'Are you alright? They didn't hurt you, did they?' she asked.
Jimble shook his head while the others gasped.
'Don't touch him,' said a few of the voices behind her.
Daisy, however, took his hand in hers and turned to look at their shocked expressions.
'This is Jimble, he's a friend so please stop being so nasty. He won't hurt you,' she tutted as they strolled out of the room into the dining room.