When last we left our heroes, Lord Marston and Mrs. Chatterton had learned from the faerie changeling Mupoker that Emmaline was being held by the Queen of the Unseelie Court in her castle in the Faerielands. Using an artifact found by the previous incarnation of the Society, they set out to the lands of faerie in pursuit.
Valende sat impatiently in her seat below and to the left of the queen’s throne. She had given her lady the things that she had been tasked with, but answers to the location of her brother Vastarin were less than forthcoming. She finally decided drastic action was required.
“So?” she asked quietly. There. That should do it.
The queen sighed.
“I see your brother,” she said, starting strongly, but continued, “They display him like a trophy. His true nature is unknown to this one.”
“But… what about…”
“The magician’s soul is easy enough to read, but he does not possess the knowledge you wish. Patience, Valende,” the queen said coldly.
“You… you say a ‘trophy,'” Valende continued impatiently. “A trophy is something that is kept, displayed. Where would they keep such a thing? The magician must know that…”
The queen’s voice was cold and dismissive. Valende was taxing her interest. “Their headquarters,” she said. “Mortal London.”
Valende stood, her fist tightening in resolve. “Then tomorrow I shall seize their headquarters… and woe betide any who dare to stand in my way!”
Meanwhile, the sole inhabitant of the headquarters building of the Society of Cryptozoological Research watched avidly as a spark leapt between two pieces of stone in their glass containers.
“Keen!” Sir Charles Rutledge Brown cried with boyish excitement. “Piezoelectricity!”
The Queen of the Unseelie Court strode down the winding spiral stairs beneath the Citadel of the Night. Down, down, to where those things that threatened the monsters themselves were kept. The Teindbreaker. The Unmaker. Logan Ironbones. The Taleblazer.
And, of course, the Dungeon-Without-Name’s latest resident, Samuel Coble, Minister of Objective Sciences. He was kept in a cage of goblin bone and spider silk, enchanted with the most powerful wards of the lubber-witches. A mossy mound covered in purple flowers with sharp petals gave him a place to rest upon but not to find comfort. It was there he lay, serene-looking, his arms crossed over his chest like a corpse posed for his funeral.
“Mister Coble,” the Queen said. “Please cease your pretense of slumber, Mister Coble. You are fooling no one.
Coble’s eyes opened and he sat up, stretching his arms in imitation of waking.
“Worth a shot,” he said, rubbing at a crick in his neck. “You’d be surprised how many people talk about you when they think you’re asleep.”
He looked the queen up and down appraisingly, like he was watching her come in the front door of a singles bar. She was beyond beautiful, but that made her less attractive, not more. Her hair was weaved in an unbelievable braidwork he had only seen the like of in a JRPG. Her gown was a similar blue to her skin, and at places it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. Still, it was a regal look, not tawdry at all. Tawdry might have made her seem approachable, and if there was one thing this lady was, it was unapproachable.
“So,” he said, “you must be the boss.”
The queen blinked once and raised one eyebrow at the shabby mortal in the cage.
“The… ‘boss?'” she finally said, disdainfully. She stood straighter (which hadn’t seemed possible a moment ago) and the meager light in the Dungeon-Without-Name seemed to all gather behind her, an aura of puissance and position.
“I am the Queen of the Unseelie Court,” she said, each word a Pronouncement. “I am the Desire at the center of every man’s heart. I am the Breath of the dark places of the earth. I am the Lady of the Shadows, the Empress of Darkness. I am all that is Beauty and Fright and Majesty and you shall address me with the respect that I am due, mortal!”
Coble was unbowed. He didn’t get where he was by wetting his pants because someone made a Galadriel speech at him.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, making sure to sound as sarcastic as possible. “You ring like a bell through the night and wouldn’t I love to love you. Lady, I know Stevie Nicks, and you… you’re no Stevie Nicks.”
That was when the torture began.
She may have been no Stevie Nicks, Coble thought just before he passed out, but she does one hell of a Jack Bauer impression.
To be continued…
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.