Welcome to The Interactive Novel, the novel that allows you the reader to decide what happens during the novel. Catch up on the previous instalments with The Complete Abridged Novel So Far
At the end of each weekly instalment will be at least one poll where you will decide either:
• What happens next
• A setting
• A character to be introduced
Whatever option receives the most votes decides what happens. To take part, read the instalment below and then make your vote.
Vote closes for the Third Instalment on
Wednesday the 14th November at 8am GMT
Friday 21st September 1860
Professor Ashcroft led the way into the auction house. Men and women were sat in cream chairs before a stage. Behind a pulpit an auctioneer was taking the bids for a vase.
“It is probably a fake,” the Professor muttered
“Professor Ashcroft always the cynic,” said a voice behind us.
We turned to see an elderly man with a grey bearded hobbling into the room.
“Professor Elman,” the Professor said coldly. There was certainly no love lost between the two men.
“So tell me Arthur what has caught your interest today?”
“Lot number thirty-four.”
“Are you interested in it’s history or the curse?”
“There are no such things as curses.”
Professor Elman smiled. “The Amulet of Nergal has a long history of misfortune befalling all those that have possessed it.”
“Nothing more than coincidences.”
“There have been far too many deaths linked to the amulet for it to be just a coincidence. You may find you have competition for the piece. I am not the only interested party.”
Professor Elman hobbled off to find a seat.
We made our way down the central aisle and took a pair of seats on the right of the stage. I flicked through the catalogue for Lot 34.
Lot No. 34 – The Amulet of Nergal. Believed to originate in Ancient Mesopotamia, the amulet is cast from gold and contains a large ruby in its centre.
“My goodness they are all coming out of the woodwork,” the Professor muttered.
He was looking at a muscular man in late thirties with long black hair, a thin moustache and crooked nose
“Who is he, sir?”
“Reginald Pearce. A few years back he was caught smuggling artefacts out of China. He fled abandoning his partners to face punishment.”
The auctioneer banged his gavel selling Lot no. 33.
“And now we come to Lot thirty-four,” said the auctioneer. “The Amulet of Nergal.”
A porter stepped on the stage carrying the amulet, a spade shaped piece of dull yellow metal. It had a large red stone set in the centre. The metal had been moulded so it had two raised curves either side of the stone giving the impression of an eye.
“Now the opening bid is twelve pounds?” called out the auctioneer
The Professor raised his hand.
“Will anybody give me thirteen?”
Professor Elman rose his paddle. Pearce bid fourteen, the Professor fifteen, Pearce to sixteen, and Elman up to seventeen. This was turning out to be a three way battle.
Elman requested a closer view of the item. I followed the Professor and Pearce to the stage.
The doors to the auditorium flew open.
Six men charged into the hall with scarves and hats concealing their identities.
“Get down on the floor,” yelled one of the men.
A guard moved to intercept him. One of the masked men pulled out a pistol and fired at the guard.
He missed. The porter dropped the tray holding the Amulet of Nergal and fell clutching his stomach.
The Professor leapt into action pressing a handkerchief against the wound. The gunman ordered us to lay pass over our possessions to his associates carrying around a kit bag.
One of the robbers holding his kitbag reached us. He had ginger eyebrows and sideburns. I dropped my purse into the bag. The robber moved down the line. He spotted the amulet laying at the side of the stage. He reached out for it.
There was a distant bell ringing.
“Leave the rest,” bellowed the lead gunman gesturing for the others to follow. The robbers fled from the room.
The gunmen had fired one shot into a crowded auditorium hitting the porter holding the Amulet of Nergal. Was it a coincidence that the only person laying in a pool of blood had been in possession of the amulet? Or was he another victim of the curse?
I looked towards the amulet. It was gone!
The robber must have stolen it. But I couldn’t remember seeing him take it and he wasn’t the only one with the opportunity to steal the amulet.
Reginald Pearce was already marching for the door. He had been next to the amulet. Was he fleeing with the amulet in his pocket?
Or could Professor Elman have taken it? He could have snatched the amulet in the confusion.
I had to forget all about the amulet. It had nothing to do with me. Or so I thought….
What happens next is up to You!
The choices with the most votes will decide what happens next, so choose wisely from the options below.
Vote closes for the Third Instalment on Wednesday the 14th November at 8am GMT