A/N: It's an AU, it's not Sherlock Holmes themed, it is partially driven by a love of Mark Strong, but it was a curious foray in alternate endings
Lord Blackwood, despite the efforts of Sherlock Holmes had succeeded in executing the majority of Parliament. London was soon turned into a hellpit of fear and accusations. Innocent people were mobbed in the street if there was so much of a whisper of Blackwood association, the common folk were trying to rise against their new tyrant, but with varying levels of success.
Sherlock and the Watsons had gone to ground, as had Lestrade and other members of factions that could cause problems for the New Dawn. But Blackwood didn't really worry; in his mind there were enough poor folk in London hungry for money that would find them when he needed them to. He allowed Lord Coward to do the worrying for him.
The fiend himself enjoyed it all, the spectacle, the drama, the pain and the fear – he lapped it all up. He watched as Coward and the others filled the gaps in Parliament with their own toadying lackeys. He amused himself as he watched the various institutions fall under his mixture of fear and aggression, aided by a sadistic governor here, a war-hungry general there. There was always a part of humanity that could manipulated with ambition more than fear; and Blackwood relished it.
It was as Blackwood lounged at his preferred accommodation, the Temple of the Four Orders that Blackwood's world would change rather abruptly.
Blackwood was a light sleeper, and he was prone to wandering a somewhat empty Temple at ungodly hours, sometimes working over a problem in his mind that required attention, and sometimes he just strolled for the leisure.
Tonight his walk had taken him to the Gallery, and he had stared at the portraits of the previous Masters of the Temple with a mixture of emotions. He had passed his father's likeness with a faint distaste, travelling towards the middle, where the founder Ignatius Devereux was wreathed in golden glory above the fireplace. Blackwood was unaware, as the wealthy often are to the two servant girls loitering at both ends of the Gallery. He was focused entirely on Devereux and the power the man exuded in his portrait, he had envied Ignatius and the influence he wielded – never overtly, Ignatius would never have been recorded as a powerful courtier by anyone outside of the Order, but within all knew what he was capable of.
Blackwood was drawn from his power hungry musings when the door slammed open and a woman dressed in black strode towards him. She carried herself with a confidence that was not often seen in the Temple, and Blackwood was intrigued. Her face was partially covered with a veil, but the candle light hit her just right as she passed each alcove and Henry Blackwood was very much aware of the determined look on this stranger's face.
'What fun could this be?' He thought with a smirk adorning his face. He turned to face her fully and was amused by her next words.
"Some security you have here Lord Blackwood." She said idly, smoothing her skirt down with her left hand. "I have seen derelict buildings with better guards than yours."
"You seem to have bypassed them well." He acknowledged with a dip of his head. He opened his mouth to make another charming but cutting retort, but the words dried in his mouth when the woman pulled a gun from the fold of her skirt and shot him once in the leg. The gunshot was almost silent but his yell was not.
"Some magician you are." She sneered.
"How dare you!" He roared as he stumbled towards her. She let out a sigh and shot him in the other leg, watching with satisfaction as he fell to the floor. "Don't stand there. Do something!" He yelled, finally noticing a servant in the corner.
He was confused when his attacker turned and faced the woman.
"Yes, do something." She laughed.
"A good magic wielder knows a shield spell or two, but you are no wielder are you Lord Blackwood." The maid had advanced towards him and before Lord Blackwood could yell once more, hoping that someone in the damn Temple would hear him, a cloth was pressed to his nose from behind and the world went black.
The women had gone to work rather quickly; staunching the wounds in his legs, nothing serious for the markswoman rarely hit something important unless she needed to. One maid had secured Lord Blackwood should the chloroform wear off while they were in transit, while the markswoman found the knot in the Gallery fireplace and pressed it once. A grated panel in the floor to the left of the fireplace popped open and with a little lifting a stone staircase was revealed. One gallery door was unlocked and the maid in her soft shoes ran back to pull the grate over her head once more while her comrades were ahead lugging a rather heavy Lord Blackwood through the bowels of the Temple.
A guard duty would not arrive for some hours later when the blood on the floor was dried and the women were well outside of London. They had borne Blackwood through the Temple's backstairs and towards a waiting wagon outside the servant entrance. They had met with another of their women in the laundry room and bound him a laundry bag, the shape of the prone aristocrat dulled by blankets and sheets before he was hoisted into the wagon with many other identical bags.
Lord Blackwood himself would not rouse from his chloroform induced slumber for a number of hours; he would wake in a plain room strapped to a bed like many of the asylum patients he had once practiced on.
"Well then, we did wonder if you would join the land of the living once more. I fear that the divine judgment would not appreciate your soul." An older voice broke through the confusion, somehow it was both maternal and scolding and Henry Blackwood had never felt more confused in his life. When he tried to move, he found the existence of the restraints and he all but roared his way back to consciousness.
"What a fuss." Another, younger voice still female had him swing his gaze wildly around the room. His eyes focused on the trio of women at the foot of the bed. There was an older woman with a thatch of grey hair and a soft look of pride in her features; there were two younger women; one shrouded in the gloom of the room, a glimpse of black skirt and a tendril of blonde hair occasionally caught the light, and the third woman was a redhead with a haughty stare and a disapproving look in her eye.
"Who are you." He demanded and it was the older woman who stepped forward.
"You have been causing a fuss haven't you Henry."
"It is Lord Blackwood."
"Not to us it isn't petal." She reached for the jug in the corner of the room and poured him a glass of water. "Boiled three times to clear the ague." She nodded as she held it towards his mouth. At first Blackwood had no wish to imbibe anything his kidnappers would offer but his throat won out and he accepted the proffered drink with a dark look on his face.
"What do you want." He ground out and glared as the redhead took a seat on the foot of his bed.
"Well we've got to put the world to rights haven't we."
"You're just a bunch of women." He hissed.
"The Temple of the Four Orders was started on the words and wisdom of women. We didn't give ourselves fancy titles, stupid names and exaggerated rituals. We knew the magic needed on each of the solstices and the paths we would create for the world. Truly it was terrible enough when the menfolk were involved." The woman at his feet was unbandaging his leg, a tray with a new poultice was balanced on her lap as she changed the dressing.
"Oh it's true enough, the origins of men in our magic was one of manipulation and blackmail. They would not send us to the stake for magic, only if we taught them the arts. It was a dark time for the craft but we battled through, teaching men the spells we thought appropriate and occasionally erring in our decisions. Of course, like most women's work once men were involved we were naturally relegated as inferior wielders." The old woman snorted having unwrapped his other leg and changed the poultice also.
"As such, the true witches withdrew from The Order" there was mockery in her tone and Blackwood felt his simmering fury rise once more.
"How dare you denigrate the Masters." He hissed.
"Oh calm down." The redhead snapped and she held his furious gaze with her own. "The Masters you devote yourself to propound the rubbish that is their dogma. They are nothing but frauds and charlatans. Perhaps it is fitting that you are their leader, the greatest fake to strut through that damn gallery." She growled and as Blackwood opened his mouth to argue once more a sensation came over him. His mouth clamped shut of its own accord and his eyes widened in fear. The woman in question was holding up one finger as if to ask for his silence; however she did not ask, she demanded and received as his body obeyed the magic she inflicted upon him.
"As we said, it started on the words and wisdom of women. We still practice that wisdom, and it is our ceremonies that ensure the needs of the world are met." The third woman, who had stayed in the corner had said nothing, nor had she moved in the time the others had. But she stepped forward now and for the first time in his life, Henry Blackwood felt fear. There was a darkness in this woman's features that Henry could only dream of showing and there was a determination that made him shiver beneath the sheets.
"You have tried to break the world Henry Blackwood, it is up to us to fix it." The matronly woman smoothed the sheets once more, tested the straps to which he was bound to the bed and with a meaning look at her comrade, Henry found he had his tongue once more.
"I will never fear you." He spat in one last bravado attempt.
"We don't care." The blonde shrugged. "You are naught now Henry – the universe has had it's time with you, and called upon us to remove you. We will put the world to rights once more." With a swish of fabric Henry Blackwood was left on his own, still strapped to a bed like the lunatic he was.