Two Born of Fire

It is gratifying to be proved right, most of the time. However, when that about which one was right is something unpleasant, the shine is somewhat dulled.  The coming apocalypse was indeed postponed, if it was ever on in the first place. The so-called seer, Lilandra, is now on the run for attempting to kidnap the princess.  As I recall, one of the first things I said to Brigitte, when we first discussed the storm, was to wonder if said Lilandra had an ulterior motive for wanting access to the child.  And so it was proved that this was indeed the case.  I don’t know what grievance Lilandra had with their Majesties, and I do not care; for to stoop to do harm to a blameless infant in the cause of said grievance is beyond reprehensible. But then, who can fathom the motivations of the truly insane?  As Katharina said, “Verrückt wie die Scheiße der Fledermaus,“ which would seem entirely appropriate.

His Majesty is not best pleased, a woeful understatement, and so we are all charged with reporting any sighting of Lilandra to the palace guard immediately.  Poor Aoibheann is apparently in trouble for having given shelter to a known criminal in the tavern. This struck me as somewhat unfair since there was no way she could have known of the mad-woman’s intentions beforehand.  She was on her way to the castle to discuss the matter with the king and was understandably nervous, so I offered to speak on her behalf.  Poor girl, bless her, misunderstood me, I think, since she said that I could not take her place in a duel.  This did cause me to wonder how things are done where she comes from. I assured her that I meant only to serve as a character witness and that I would be worse than useless in any duel.  She was dressed up for the visit, maybe hoping to convey a good impression. When she asked me if she looked roguish, I assured her that she did not, based on my experience of rogues in many cities, including London and Dublin. Aiobheann seemed interested and surprised that I knew Dublin. Perhaps that is a clue to her origins, which would make sense, given her name; but her recollection of the place seemed to involve dragons again, so perhaps not.

There was a child there; Riley, I think her name was; playing with stones.  I tossed a sixpenny piece to her, thinking it might amuse her, even if it has no value here. She seemed uncertain what to do with it, regarding it for a long while before picking it up, discarding it again, and eventually trying to give it to Aiobheann.  The child’s manner was odd, somewhat withdrawn.  She reminded me of some of the children at Bentwood House in Rochester; one of Mother’s many good causes. It was a home for children with learning difficulties, to use one of the kinder phrases applied to the place. I shall not dignify some of the less kind phrases with repetition here. I shall have to ask Aiobheann later, provided the king does not chop her head off for sheltering a criminal.

Talking of dragons, Gonthore turned up later in the evening.  Anna had dropped by to deliver some cookies and some stew and then went for a walk with Emanuel, but before he left, he bought a beer for Gonthore, who had been lurking in the gardens.  He came in, accompanied by the Phoenix, while all the others left.  Two creatures of fire in the bar, both ones I had previously believed to exist only in myth.  The Phoenix was kind enough to expand upon my limited knowledge of the folklore.  He seemed quite proud that his end involved exploding, but assured me that this was not due to happen for a few hundred years. I forbore to comment on whether I would be around to witness this, being as yet uncertain how my kind are regarded here.

It was at this point that a heavily armoured young man, Damion, I think his name was, turned up.  He requested a half-empty drink, so lacking any better interpretation; I pulled him a half-pint of beer in a pint glass.  This seemed to be the correct interpretation, as he took it gratefully and then topped it up with something red from a vial. If my nose did not deceive me, it seems that Brigitte and I are not the only blood-drinkers in town. I chose not to comment upon this, reasoning that it was his business and if he wanted to reveal his nature, he would do so in his own time.  Gonthore and the Phoenix went off for a while, so that Gonthore could show him the lair he had made in the old mine workings, which seemed to please them both, even if Damion seemed a little put out by the discussion.  Perhaps it was their casual references to it being an old vampire’s lair. Shortly after, they all departed, leaving me alone with my notes. I left a bell on the counter in case anybody needed serving and retired to the upstairs room, there to advance Edmund’s adventures further.

Chapter 4



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