Journey to New Europa
Chapter 9, First meeting with Auberon
We left our heroes in their hotel room, having Indian take-out dinner with Sherlock Holmes. We decide we have enough information to make it worth our while to contact King Auberon and the Bavarians tomorrow.
Everyone goes to the embassy except Z and Cailin [who are listless because their players weren't there]. We present Lord Feanir's letter of introduction and are invited into a cavernous and baroque antechamber. Some guards drift in to keep an eye on us, but politely. Eventually, people come sweeping down the stairs -- the butler, some military types, Morrolan (who is now limping and walking with a cane) and Auberon. We stand. The Bavarian ambassador scuttles in and completes the party. He ushers us into an even grander and lusher parlor.
Nick explains, "We're agents of the druids. As you know, they don't like to interfere, so they've sent us to not interfere for them." While they're untwisting that one, he starts in on the tale of our adventures up to the point where we arrived in London.
Auberon says he needs evidence of our credentials and veracity, and is, on the whole, very close-mouthed through the whole interview. He says he'll send people to Somerton to check up on our story, but it will take a while, because the area is presently much beset by the Unseelie. He refuses any help from us, but unbends far enough to tell us that Morrolan's new limp resulted from a tangle with the Golden Dawn -- a necromantic attack. Besides necromancy, the Golden Dawn also does summonations, so Auberon wonders if they might have summoned us.
Nick responds with details of our encounter with Mr. MacLeish, the archdruid, and glamours up a picture of MacLeish. We also offer to open our minds to Auberon telepathically, but he would rather take the slow and careful approach of an investigation. We complete the tale of our adventures so far, including Holmes' discovery about the code word "Mesopotamia" in the agony columns, and the gate to Faerie in the park.
Nick also mentions that, where we come from, the elven king is named "Alvirin." This draws a very slight reaction from Auberon. We also explain that there is no division of fays into Seelie and Unseelien back home, but rather into the First Blood and the New Blood, who are reasonably amicable with each other, and that Nick is one of the First of the New, as is Mithriel. Not that they particularly rejoice in this status.
Auberon and Morrolan are suitably intrigued by this news. Morrolan unbends enough to tell us that Judge Pelham (victim of one of the mysterious deaths we investigated) was a lay Templar -- that is, a member but no magician.
We tell them about Minister Jordan being murdered by Prof. Thurston Stoutworthy, according to our retrocognizant visions, and speculate if the Prof. might have been undead or under magical compulsion. (Morrolan thinks it unlikely that he could have passed among the living for long if he were undead; he says nothing about compulsions, that being one of the Illuminati specialties, and he being an Illuminatus.)
We mention that we still have the caltrap used to goad the horse into running down Mr. Blackthorne. Morrolan expresses an interest in seeing it, so we promise it to them. We ask for some personal effects of Tom Olam's, to use for dowsing, but they decline pending our verification.
We take a polite good-bye and leave with a Col. Tarnfeldt, who is to come back to the hotel with us to collect the caltrap. He takes it with all due spluttery military formality.
Tom goes down to the newspaper morgues with Katrina, there to dowse for more occurrences of the word "Mesopotamia." He finds a couple, but none are for outstanding, unfulfilled deaths. However, two months ago, there was an odd death with no corresponding use of "Mesopotamia." These things have been going on for about two years, about monthly, slowly accelerating.
Nick and Mithriel try to see Mrs. Blackthorne, but are stymied by the same butler. Once more, they leave a visiting card, but this time put a clairvoyant tracer on it. They then go on to see a real estate agent about renting a suitably lavish house.
Near the end of the day, Nick checks on his tracer and finds, to his surprise, that the card has been thrown out into a dustbin in the South Kensington area, many blocks away from the Blackthorne house in Regents Park. Easy enough to believe they would throw out the card, but why so far away? Curious.
We go to see Holmes. All of us, which rather crowds his flat. We tell him about the card; he is a bit bemused, though not incredulous, when we admit that we haven't actually been to where the card now is. We suggest he have some urchins keep an eye on the Blackthorne house and thus give him the idea of creating the Baker Street Irregulars. (Of course, he's on Montague Street at present, but it takes time to find reliable urchins.)
On Holmes' suggestion, we actually go and look at the dustbin where the card is. Kate puts on an urchin outfit and pokes around in it. In addition to the card, old tea leaves, etc., she finds ... a finger. Ick. Very dried, and maybe a bit burned. More poking reveals a whole layer of burned stuff. We decide to take the whole dustbin to Holmes. Lorelei TKs it (It's heavy.) and Nick glamours up a replacement mirage. Mithriel waves down a dray, we load it up, climb on, and rumble back to Montague St. Mithriel, not very familiar with money, gives the drayman a gold coin, a silver, and a gem, thus changing his life forever.
Kate gives Holmes the finger. As it were.
Looking over these clues, Holmes admits that he doesn't know a lot about necromancy, so Nick dashes off a letter to Morrolan, who probably does. However, Holmes does identify the garbage as a mix of Kensington and Regents Park garbage, which is odd. There is, therefore, some regular commerce between those two houses, or someone just moved. We find no more body parts, and various arcane probes turn up nothing.
Morrolan shows up very quickly, along with Col. Tarnfeldt and Auberon, plus a couple of spare generals. Morrolan is surprised we did magic just to trace a calling card, and Auberon is surprised that the card is mundane, not a piece of glamour. We carefully note that Auberon did not notice Nick's tracer, and that he expects anyone to routinely be able to locate their own glamour. Very educational all around.
Morrolan announces that the finger is definitely Golden Dawn stuff, possibly a from a Hand of Glory. (You don't want to know...) We haven't probed the finger, wanting to leave it pristine for Morrolan, but Lorelei asks if we can do so now, or does he want to wait? He wants to wait until he can enlist a "spotter," a magic-sensitive.
We get to talking about comparative magic methods and Lorelei shows Morrolan her scrying stone -- a silmaril from the First Age of Middle Earth, a gift from Chris. Morrolan looks it over, registers awe, and says, "You use this to increase your concentration? Well, well." Personally, he doesn't stare into the sun to dark-adapt his eyes. "Don't use it if you want to be subtle."
This encounter, by the way, is taking place in an alley behind Holmes' flat. Morrolan and Auberon, after some magical testing of the burned stuff in the bin, announce that we've left an arcane trail from South Kensington that the Golden Dawn people could use to track us. Lorelei and Tom use their own arcane senses and vaguely see the trail through the chaos of the local magical texture. This provokes no reaction from Auberon or Morrolan. But they are impressed when Nick lays a Cloaking over the trail to hide it. For the first time Morrolan is convinced we are out-worlders.
Auberon warns us that that sort of trick will give us away if we aren't careful. Also, the Cloak did a fair job of hiding the trail, but it didn't obliterate it. While Nick continues with his magical street-sweeping, Auberon asks him if, where we come from, we distinguish between fay powers and sorcery. No; if we were home, we could teach you to do this sort of thing.
Lorelei, who has been en rapport with Nick to help him with the Cloaking, has been getting a good long look at the local magical texture. She decides its many knots and chords are like lots of little Ley lines. When we reach the nearest crossroads and Nick stops, she lays a false trail with TK. She also offers to heal Morrolan's leg, once he and Auberon are sure of us. He's appreciative.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.