Journey to New Europa
Chapter 19, Signing the Treaty
We left our heroes in possession of a demonic-looking bogey, captured after it attacked de Alqua. Lorelei asks de Alqua if it's worth interrogating this thing. Restraining it indefinitely and death look like the only long-term options. Kate asks if we might threaten it with prayers. De Alqua looks disconcerted and says no. Tom goes to fetch Morrolan, who did not put in an appearance during the fight. However, he knew about it, judging from the fact that he is already awake and worried. He is relieved to hear we are all unharmed and after some delay (while he takes down wards?) he emerges and accompanies Tom back to the room where we are holding the unconscious bogey.
Morrolan explains that he can't interrogate the thing by the terms of the First Compact, which allows one-on-one mayhem but not concerted political meddling. While we consider other options, Lorelei quietly kills it with some reverse healing, without [players please note] letting the other characters know. It simplifies life.
While Dafnord removes the remains to the compost heap, Morrolan recommends we call up the local constabulary. Kate brings out the Map of Here and we see a couple of new pins, presumably the entry points for our late foes.
The constabulary shows up in the considerable form of Constable Hennesey, who laboriously takes down everything we tell him and views the body, then leaves to fetch the knacker. (What else do you do with a non-human corpse that is at least partly goat?)
Lorelei and de Alqua stay up the remainder of the night, chatting. She talks about her family, including her other children besides Nick. De Alqua is impressed with her rate of childbirth, and she explains that, though Nick is fay, she is not entirely. (Full fay aren't very fertile.)
The knacker comes and goes. So does dawn. We get formally dressed and discreetly armed, in preparation for the signing of the Treaty at the Bavarian Embassy. We then kill time directing the tradesmen who are still dropping by for repairs necessary after the previous battle. Tom and Ashleigh work in the ad hoc lab, Ashleigh preparing to build a time machine, Tom preparing to build some experimental psi machines.
De Alqua writes up a report to Auberon, delivered by Dafnord, who will ask for a schedule for the signing. Hall wobbles through, eats breakfast, and decides to go home, having had enough of our "protection." Morrolan potters into the lab and chats up the technical types.
Dafnord returns with a message. Auberon has a luncheon engagement and so cannot sign this morning. We will sign at 2:00 PM. Dafnord also delivers a small sealed note to de Alqua.
Lunch rolls around. In the middle of it, there's a ruckus in the kitchen. Old Jenny is screaming lustily and pounding the floor with a broom. Tom, Ashleigh, and Morrolan converge on the scene, followed by the others, in time to see Jenny swatting at something mouse-sized but bipedal, running like hell for Elsewhere.
"Did you get it?" we ask her. "What was it?"
"It was a boggle, and I didn't get it at all!" These are a kind of Unseelie petty-fay, we learn, nasty little gremlins that rot eggs and turn milk. Lorelei checks the larder and finds it still pure, but Jenny won't have it and dumps out all the dairy products anyway.
We finish lunch, or try to. Around dessert, Old Tom Langhorn shuffles up through the topsoil again and knocks at the back door. (Relatively young) Tom answers. Old Tom wants to know if "this sort of thing" is going to continue and if we want him to try to do anything about the hedges. Tom tells him that we hope not, but he needn't bother about a hedge yet. When it looks worthwhile, how about a rowan hedge? That might keep out some of the Unseelie. Old Tom is intrigued with the idea. Our Tom asks him about how to fend off boggles. We could try holy artifacts, or turning our clothes inside out. We had no idea the Unseelie could be so sensitive about personal grooming. We thank him, offer him some ale and a plate of bread and honey, and see him shuffling off to recruit rowans.
Meanwhile, Morrolan expresses mild surprise to Nick that we'd have to ask about the reversed clothes. After all, isn't Z a nymph? Well, yes. So? But nymphs are repelled by reversed clothes, he explains. And high fays like, he supposes, Nick himself are repelled by holy objects. Oh? He is also surprised when a little discreet questioning reveals that Nick and Z don't have a marriage geas, just a license. None of this is normal for the fays of this world.
We depart for the Embassy, leaving in the distance the THUMP THUMP of Old Tom Langhorn stomping boggles in the garden.
We are ceremoniously met at the Embassy. King Auberon chats with us about our most recent attack, receives his copy of the Report, and expresses interest in both content and format (since it was made by our magics). Oh, and we might like to know that an elf in his service encountered a Night Rider last night and engaged it in battle, with the result that the Night Rider was delayed until about, oh, now. We thank His Majesty. Auberon supposes that the Adversary will have heard about our latest scrap be the end of today.
We sign the Treaty. De Alqua witnesses it by sealing with his cygnet ring (it's got a swan on it). Auberon then begins magically multiplying the document, handing two copies to the Bavarian Ambassador (one for King Ludwig, one for the records), two copies for the English government, since it was signed in their borders. Nick suggests sending one to the Adversary. Auberon: An interesting idea. Why not?
Tom asks if there is any connection between this "Adversary" and another being known as "Adversary," though more usually in Hebrew (i.e. "Satan"). Auberon frostily inquires of Nick if, in our world, there are subjects about which we do not speak. Well, yes... Tom hastily remarks that we've been having a lot of weather lately.
Having papered over that faux pas as best we may, and now in signed treaty with the Seelie Court, we head off to consult Holmes and deliver copies of the Report to him. But we decide to stop at a church for a little experimentation. Morrolan remarked that most churches in big cities have no crosses or other holy symbols on the outside, in deference to the fays. We note that this is, indeed, the case.
Nick starts up the steps, accompanied by Tom and Katrina. He pauses at the threshold, recalling that thresholds are often Special. He also finds himself wondering if it is altogether proper to "test the Lord" this way. Mightn't it be rather, well, rude? He asks Tom, a shade nervously. Tom replies that this religion always encourages people to enter churches.
Very well. He crosses the threshold, into a little antechamber that thoughtfully screens the view of the interior from the outside. He finds himself wondering what actually happens to fays who touch holy things.
Tom gently eases him in. It's a very impressive church, at least to Nick, with a big, rather ghastly crucifix hanging over the altar, looking very realistic and ... disapproving.
Tom, who has been picking up these heebie-jeebies on the telepathy net, quietly genuflects. Nick makes a quick bow and exits as gracefully as possible. So what does happen to fays around holy objects? Well, for one thing, they seem to get very nervous.
We proceed to Holmes.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.