A Life Of Fiction CCXIV

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

The following short story was entered for an online short story competition, on the theme of a person being stranded on a deserted island, and what items they might need. Needless to say, I did not win. But I had fun writing the story.

A Deserted Island, A Long Way From Anywhere

The man sat on a sandy beach, his blue eyes looking out at a calm sea. He was dressed in rags, the remains of clothes in which he had been dressed upon the Sallee Rover, and other ships.

There was a sword lying on the sand within reach of this man, ready to be grasped if needed. He had a flintlock musket across his knees.

A mongrel dog sat on the sand near the man. The dog had been the man’s constant companion ever since events had brought them to this barren place. The dog barely left the man’s side. At the moment is stared out at the sea, as though looking for something. Occasionally it would turn its head to one side to glance at the man, as though to confirm that there was something which it was supposed to be looking at.

The man was unshaven. It looked as though he had not shaved in many days, a light brown beard disguising his features, covering the fine line of his chin. His skin was cracked by the sunlight and the salty air. Dirt, not washed away, stained his forehead.

That forehead was shadowed by an old hat, which kept the sun out of the man’s eyes as he gazed out across the waters of the ocean. It seemed that he had an eternal vigil, looking out across the water for a ship which never came. How long had he sat hear, in this position, staring out across the waters for some sign that his time on the island might be coming to an end?

He did not know, not for certain. Sometimes he felt that he had only been on the island for a few days. But, at other times, he was sure that he must have been on this island for years. Yet he knew that this could not be the case. It had only been days.

The castaway moved slightly. His legs had gone to sleep. But he had no desire, yet, to get up from his position. Where would he go? He had explored his island, long ago (or was it only yesterday?). Apart from the rats and the birds he was alone on the island. But the musket across his knees suggested that he feared an attack; and the truth was that this man had suffered at the hands of callous pirates in the past. In his mind he carried the memories of that dread pirate ship, and the cruelties which he had suffered. He remembered the Moor, and the Maresco.

The castaway recalled all of the events which had brought him to the island. They were as clear in his mind as though they had been written in ink on parchment; and those recollections did not change or alter, from day to day upon this deserted island. no, the time that he had spent at sea was perfectly clear, from that day on the first of September, 1651, when he had first gone out to sea, until that day when some savage storm had sunk the ship in which he had been sailing. Those thoughts were as clear as the sky, untroubled by clouds as far as the horizon. No, it was more recent memories which seemed confused, for some days he imagined it to be less than a week since he had been washed up on these foreign shores; yet, at other times, it seemed more like years, and the castaway could not account for the discrepancy between the two.

On the beach, close to the ragged man, there were the remains of a raft, wood lashed together in a makeshift manner. The raft would only have been of use for a short journey upon that great blue ocean which surrounded the island on which the man sat; it would surely have foundered had he attempted any great distance. But the raft would have been of use in exploring the waters around the isle, or of securing any provisions from some ship which had sunk.

Of such ship there was no trace to be seen, anywhere that the man’s gaze fell. If there had ever been such a ship it must have long disappeared beneath the waves. Perhaps it laid there still, the bodies of the sailors who had been shipmates of the castaway now only food for fishes. It was settled on the ocean bed, on its side, planks ripped apart by the storm scattered about, what provision the marooned man had not been able to recover now lying close to him, yet beyond his ability to recover. Ship’s biscuit destroyed by the waters of the sea; black powder ruined; casks of grog lying on the sand beneath the waves. They were so much useless lagan.

The castaway continued to stare out across the water. There was not a cloud in the sky; there was not a ship to be seen. Not even the smallest dot of another island broke the perfection of this view. The castaway, perhaps, should have abandoned this vigil minutes ago, had he been here for days; or perhaps he should have abandoned it years ago, if his faulty memory was correct when he sometimes imagined that he had been here for decades.

There was a compulsion which, each day, brought him out to this beach, to look out at a featureless horizon. He felt, though, that should any ship come he needed to be seen. He needed to be seen. But, surely, he would see any ship long before they saw him…

Behind the ragged castaway, at the end of a little plain, there was the opening to a cave, which, over considerable time, had been fashioned into a home for this castaway. No, it was not just some cave for those abandoned by God, but had been turned into a veritable fortress.

Two rows of strong stakes surround the cave. Anybody rushing the cave in the hours of darkness would risk impaling themselves on the end of the wooden stakes.

The opening to the cave was not on the ground, but on high. A ladder, made by the maroon, provided the only access into the cave. When the man went back into his cave to sleep at night he would draw the ladder up into his cave. At the front of the rise, before the opening of the small cavern, he had constructed a tented canopy, to help protect the entrance of is home from the weather.

For the most part the weather on this island was good, with sunshine which bronzed skin and bleached clothing. But, occasionally, Hell released cursed storms upon the island, and the place was battered by the same winds and rains which could sink any sailing ship. When those storms struck all that he could do was to cower in the back of the cave and wait for the tempest to pass.

On the shelves of his cave were those items most important to this maroon. The items precious to the man were in shelves which had been fashioned out of the planks of some sailing ship.

There was some ship’s biscuit, not entirely rotten; raisins; a bag of rice, three Dutch cheeses, some pieces if dried flesh, of some indeterminate animal; and a little corn. The fact that the biscuit was still palatable, and that the cheeses had not yet been eaten, were surely the proof that the castaway could only have been on the island for a few days; and that the idea that he had sat on the beach for many years must surely be an illusion.

The stores were not limited to food, however. There were a couple of horns containing gunpowder on those wooden shelves; a musket; two flintlock pistols; and a rusty sword. There was a hammock hanging in the cave, where the castaway would sleep at night.

There were tools in his cave, ones which he remembered recovering from the ship. There was a saw, a hatchet and other items of carpentry, which he had used to create his ladder, and the wooden stakes which protected his home. Every ship had a carpenter – and without those tools his existence on the island would have been very bleak.

There were books, brought from the ship which had foundered and presumably sunk beneath the waves. He had three Bibles in English, so his soul would be saved, even if his body would not. There were a few books in Portuguese. There were Roman Catholic prayer books. There was even a journal, lying on one of the shelves.

Each night the man wrote in the journal – or, at least, he thought that he did. So why, each night, when he wrote, did he feel as though he had written those words a thousand times before? Yet those words were not in his journal. The page was blank; and there was nobody else on this island to change his journal, or to rip out the pages which he had written.

There were a pair of cats there, as well – when they chose to be there, for no man could command a cat. They, like the dog, had been on the ship, and had earned their keep by keeping down the numbers of mice and rats. Now they carried on that tradition, albeit on this island. They would keep safe what little grain the man possessed.

The man sighed, and stood up, slowly, his legs aching as feeling was restored to them. He had spent his time watching from the beach. Now it was time to search the island, although he had searched it many times before. He knew every little hillock, and every clump of grass.

The dog whined, and looked up at the man. The dog stood up, on all fours, and wagged his tail, perhaps happy that now they would be going for a walk, rather than just gazing into the distance.

The man set off, along the beach. He knew all of the other creatures of the island: of land animals, there were rats and goats. Seabirds nested on the island, and he had purloined their eggs more than once. There were parrots, but he had failed in his attempts to capture alive one of those birds.

Turtles came onto the shore of his island, as did penguins. Each of those animals had provided him with a source of fresh meat, in the past.

Beyond where he had created his home there was a small brook, which trickled down into the sea. As he walked across the strand he crossed that source of fresh water. He had to wait, though, as his dog stopped to lap at the water. Then they continued their walk along the isle.

They walked past where there were a couple of turtles on the beach. The dog ran over and sniffed at one of the turtles. The turtle desperately tried to skim across the sand, and back into the water, in the ungainly gait which turtles have on solid land. The dog followed the turtle all the way. It liked the taste of turtle.

With a whistle the castaway called the dog away. They were not hunting at the moment. There was food back in the cave. They would eat what they possessed, and only go hunting for turtle when they were low on supplies. For now the turtles got to live.

Come on.” the man said. He carried on walking. The dog, pink tongue lolling from his mouth, followed along.

The island was more than twelve miles long. Perhaps it was as much as twenty, for the castaway found measuring distance to be difficult on his home. He had buried posts on both the north and south shores of the island, to mark where he believed the twelve mile mark to be. He would not go beyond those posts today.

Perhaps he would only walk a few miles on the southern sand, and see if anything had washed up on the shore. He hoped that some other items from the sunken ship, which he had not been able to recover, might by force of the tides become jetsam which he could collect. He had recovered everything which he had been able to get on his raft; yet he knew that items had gone down beneath the waves before he had been able to bring them to the shore. Some items, doubtless, had gone over the side of the ship before it had foundered, defeated by a storm it could not outrun or endure. Perhaps the captain had had a trunk of clothes, and that sealed trunk might, one day, wash up, waiting to be opened, and the castaway could clothe himself in fitting raiment, rather than the ragged vestments which his clothes had become. He tried to repair them as best as he could, but he feared that, one day, he would be forced to walk around like Adam before the Fall.

At the heart of the island he had discovered a deep, wooded valley surrounded by hills on all sides. He had not explored that valley, for he could easily have become lost between the trees, and not found the way back to the safety of his stockade. There had been no sign of any people there, anyway, only the colourful parrots which he had seen flying over the trees.

Only once had he walked around to the very far side of the island. That was not a trip which could be done in a single day. But he had had to know what was there, in case he had missed something of importance.

It had not been worth the trip. There had been a rocky bay in the far east of the island, slippery with seaweed underfoot. He had been forced to sleep outside, a long way from his protective stockade, his flintlock musket cradled in his lap, his back against a rock. The musket, and the dog, had been his only defences. Yet any animal could have come along and attacked him while he had slept.

There had been nothing in that furthest stretch of the island to justify ever returning to the region. There had been a few turtles, seaweed, and seashells. But those could all be found elsewhere on the island, much closer to the point which he had chosen as his home. Why risk injury and exposure to the weather if it would not lead to some material gain?

The marooned man could see small clam shells lying on the sand of the beach. He turned a few over with the end of his rusty sword. But these clams were only a single shell. Some creature had already got at them, and eaten the soft meat inside.

There was the shell of a conch a little further along the beach. The castaway investigated that, as well. But it was another dead shell.

He picked it up and held it to his ear, marvelling at the fact that he could hear the sound of the sea inside it. He tried holding the shell to the ear of the dog. But the dog backed off a little. He did not want to play.

The man sighed, and let the conch drop from his fingers, back onto the sand. He turned away from the beach, and headed off in the direction of his cavern home. Perhaps he would have something to eat. Or perhaps he would only record that day’s events in his journal. Life went on.

Fate – and the hard work of this castaway – had provided this man with everything which he needed to survive on the island. He had a secure place in which to sleep, where he could relax, without fear of some attack in his sleep. He had weapons, with which to protect himself from man or beast. He had food, until what he had recovered ran out – but, armed with his pistols, he could hunt what birdlife there was on his isle. He could collect the eggs of gulls, or shoot dead the parents. He had grog to drink. He had everything which he needed to survive.

The man had all that he needed, apart from companionship, for he was truly alone. He knew this, for he had searched the island time and time again.

The castaway had everything he needed, almost as though it had been provided for him. But the one thing which he wanted was to see footprints in the sand, and to know that there was some companion to share his time on this Island of Despair. The company of a dog or a cat was not the same as that of a human being.

Perhaps tomorrow… Perhaps tomorrow they would let him meet his Man Friday.

The visitors to the museum strolled past the hemisphere, looking in at the island in the distance. The entire island, and the sea around it, was contained in the exhibit, distortion of dimensions allowing miles of desert island to be shrunk down to a few decametres.

Here we have a recreation of the island of Robinson Crusoe, from the novel by Daniel Defoe.” the tour guide said. “As in all other exhibits, the human inside the hemisphere cannot see out of the exhibit, and has no idea that he is a museum. He believes that he on an island on the planet Earth, in what the humans called the early eighteenth century. He has no idea that Earth suffered a cataclysmic ecological collapse five hundred Earth years ago, and is no longer capable of sustaining human life.”

One of the young aliens went right up to the plastic of the hemisphere and stared at the human in the distance. The alien picked one of his three novels with the end of a tentacle, which another tentacle operated the viewer, telescoping forwards for a closer look at this human as he sat on the shore of his desert island.

He’s really ugly.” the alien said.

We will come back this way on the way back, and you can have another look at our Robinson Crusoe.” the tour guide said. “But let us move on to the next exhibit. I think that you will find it really interesting. It is our recreation of the novel Dracula…”


A Life Of Fiction CXCIII

My Steampunk Empire stuff: I used to post stories on the site the Steampunk Empire. But it seems to have changed and become some sort of social network, one which does not recognise my name nor let me on, despite the fact that I used to have a page on there. I guess that many sites die after a while. It was a shame, as it was an interesting site.

Anyway, the reason why I am writing this is because I used to, occasionally, post bits of fiction on the site. If I can’t get onto the site I presume that that is the case for the occasional browser, as well. The pieces of fiction are collected in my collections of blogs on Kindle. But not everybody has a Kindle. Besides, they were always intended to be out there for people to read for free, as a kind of advert for the work which I charge for on Kindle. So I have decided to start posting them on here. The stories will additionally appear in these updates. When enough time has passed each little snippet of fiction may get its own page, so that readers do not have to keep scrolling downwards.

Each month I will add another short piece of fiction until I run out of stuff which I put on the Steampunk Empire. Or until I get bored. Whichever happens first.

The first story collected here is called A Riot. This short vignette was written for a writing challenge, about chocolate having been declared illegal, for the website Steampunk Empire.

A Riot

Down with the New Puritans! Down with Makepeace!”

That was the refrain from the large and angry crowd marching on the Houses of Parliament. That same refrain was repeated over and over again, occasionally interrupted by the variant chorus “Down with the Lord Protector!”

The crowd swept through the darkened, night-time streets of old London Town. Gas lamps turned themselves on, to make up for the fact that the sun had set. But the mob had no need of those sentinels. They carried their own lights with them, in the form of burning torches, as brand carried by every few men.

The grim-faced, black-garbed Ravens – the paramilitary elite of the New Puritan regime – stood guard between the mob and their intended destination. They stood there unmoving, in their black clothes and tall black hats, looking more like statues than people.

The Ravens were armed with the latest weaponry: Phlogiston-fuelled blunderbusses which were deadly at short range. They raised their weapons, and trained them on the crowd which was marching towards them. But they did not fire. Not yet.

Even the Ravens, loyal to the lord protector to the last man, could see that if fighting started that they could not win. The blunderbusses took too long to reload, and the crowd was too big, and too angry.

The people of nineteenth century England had suffered too many hardships under the second Protectorate of the New Puritans. They had seen Christmas banned. They had seen their newspapers banned – all bar a few who served the Puritan cause. Alcohol had been banned, and the bars all closed down. Catholic churches had been closed. Even hot cross buns had been banned, because of charges of idolatry. The people of Britain had suffered all that, and grumbled, as English people had been wont to do.

There had been minor incidents, especially when the public houses had gone, as the English have always liked their beer. But there were those who had praised that action, in getting rid of Demon drink, and enforcing teetotalism throughout the land.

A Life Of Fiction CXCII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Dictionary of the Occult: I have started work on another long term project, a dictionary of the occult. This has come about after I bought a supposed dictionary of the occult in a charity store. But, on getting it home, I was disappointed to see that it did not even have an entry for an athame. I thought that I could do better. The more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. I had researched a lot of odd things when creating my gas-lamp fantasy RPG. I could use a lot of those entries, making sure that I removed any changes which I had made to fit into my world. I have a lot of books on the occult, and on folklore and on other strange things.
I decided that my dictionary was not just going to be about the occult, but about all of the strange things not accepted by science. it was going to cover ghosts, fairies, cryptids, unexplained disappearances, magic, and everything like that.
As I have said, this is a very long term project. As I write the book is only some 46,000 words, and I want it to be a lot bigger than that. I want it to be at least a couple of hundred thousand. But, as I have not yet finished any entry to my satisfaction, there is plenty of room for expansion in the future.
Here are five (unfinished) entries from what little I have done so far. These entries will become much larger when the book is done. But I thought that I would put them here as a very rough preview of what the book may be like. Those of you who have bought my gas-lamp fantasy RPG supplements may recognise the entries. Apologies for that, but I see no point in not reusing my research. Anyway, I hope that you will find these entries interesting.

Alderley Edge: Alderley Edge is a village in Cheshire. The village was originally known as Chorley. It was renamed Alderley Edge in 1880 when the railway arrived.
The Edge is a wide red sandstone escarpment situated above the village of Alderley. The Edge was described as a dreary common till the year 1779, when it was enclosed together with all the other waste lands of Alderley. Some hundreds of Scotch firs were planted on the highest points by Sir James and Sir Edward Stanley, between the years 1745 and 1755, before that time, it does not appear that a single tree grew on it.
The Legend of the Iron Gates: A farmer was passing by, taking a white horse to market. When he was going past an area known as Thieves’ Hole, an old man in grey robes blocked his path. The old man offered to buy the horse, but the farmer refused. The old man said the farmer would not be able to sell his horse; and that he would await the farmer’s return.
Needless to say, the farmer failed to sell the horse at market. When he returned, the old man was still there. The farmer took the old man’s offer, this time.
The old man led the farmer and the horse for a while, and then banged on the ground with his quarterstaff. The rock opened up to reveal a set of Iron Gates. The old man took the farmer down, and showed him a sleeping army, telling him that the army were ready to fight for England, before returning the farmer to the world, and closing the rock back up.
The legend suggests that the old man must have been the wizard Myrddin Wylt; and that the sleeping men were the army of King Arthur.
Parson Shrigley, in the seventeenth century, claimed to have met a similar wizard on Alderley Edge. Shrigley said that the wizard identified himself as Thomas of Erceldoune, a legendary wizard who was supposed to know some extremely powerful White Magick.

Alumbrados: The Alumbrados is a secret society of Spanish mystics. They influenced the founding of the Bavarian Illuminati by Adam Weishaupt. The society was also interested in Gnostic Christianity.
In 1525 two of the society’s members, Isabella de la Cruz, and Pedro Alcaraz, were executed on charges of heresy.
The society was believed to have been wiped out by the Inquisition in the 17th century. But, in fact, some of the society’s members escaped to the south of France. The first known presence of the Alumbrados in France dates from 1623. The secret society remained there until at least 1794, when it seemed to have moved back across the Pyrenees into north-eastern Spain.
The original aims of the Alumbrados were partially religious – to illuminate people by exposing them to Gnostic ideas. The society believed that it was possible during a person’s life to attain such a state of perfection of the soul that the person could understand the mysteries of the Holy Trinity. They also suggested that external worship was pointless, and that if a person achieved purity of the soul that they would reach such a state of communion with God that it would be impossible for them to commit sin.

Glamis Castle: Angus includes Glamis Castle, five miles south of Forfar. The castle is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Britain. One of the ghosts is supposed to be Janet Douglas, who was arrested and executed in 1537 on charges of Black Magick, and using it to try to kill King James V of Scotland.
Strange knocking sounds have also been heard.
There is also supposed to be a hidden room with some sort of half human monster in it. The monster is supposed to be the 11th Earl of Strathmore, who was born in the early 1800s and is still alive. He is supposed to have an oval body, tiny legs and arms, and no neck.
There is supposed to be a secret room in the castle (presumably where the Earl is kept). A few years ago guests decided to try and find that room. They hung a towel out of every window, reasoning that any window without a towel would be the secret room. And there was one window which did not have a towel hanging out of it. But, before they could investigate further, the current earl returned and, in a great rage, banished the guests from his castle.

Killing Stone, The: This is also known as the Sessho-Seki. It is supposed to strike dead anybody foolish enough to touch it. It is supposed to have been the transformed corpse of Tamamo-no-Mae.
The stone was connected with the tale of another spirit, that of Hoji, a kindly fox condemned to haunt the stone. But, one day, a Buddhist priest called Genno stopped on his travels, to rest besides the stone. He was threatened by the ghost of Hoji. But Genno managed to exorcise the spirit through Buddhist rituals, and convinced her to never haunt the stone again.
The Tale of Tamamo-no-Mae: Tamamo-no-Mae was a courtesan at the time of Emperor Konoe, in the 12th century. She was supposed to have been the most beautiful woman in the whole of Japan. She always smelled wonderfully, and her clothes refused to be creased. She was supposed to have knowledge of a lot of subjects, despite the fact that she was not that old, only being around twenty.
She was beloved by the Japanese court, and the Emperor could not fail but to fall in love with her.
While the Emperor was falling in love with Tamamo-no-Mae, the Empress suddenly and mysteriously fell ill.
A wizard was consulted to see why the Empress had suddenly become sick. He said that Tamamo-no-Mae was the cause of the sickness, and that she was not really a woman, but a kitsune in disguise. Tamamo-no-Mae had been sent to the court by an evil Daimyo to disrupt the royal court.
Tamamo-no-Mae must have sensed the wizard divine her true nature, because she suddenly disappeared from the court.
The Emperor ordered his two best warriors to hunt down and slay the evil kitsune. The hunters tracked the fox spirit, gradually closing in.
Sensing that its pursuit was closing in, the kitsune appeared in the dreams of one of the warriors, begging him not to kill her. But he refused.
The next day the warriors caught up with the kitsune. The warrior who had had the dream, a man by the name of Miura-no-Suke, fired off an arrow from his daikyu, killing the kitsune.
The body of the kitsune was magically transformed into the Sessho-seki, otherwise known as the Killing Stone. Her spirit transformed into Hoji, and entered the stone.

Mare Tenebrosum: This is the Sea of Darkness. It appears to be a cursed stretch of ocean which can appear in different places of the world. It is an area of perpetual darkness; but ships sailing into the area at night might not realise that they are entering the Mare Tenebrosum.
When ships enter this cursed area of sea the ocean will suddenly become very calm, no matter what it was like before. Sailors looking up at the sky will not see the moon or stars, only black clouds as far as they eye can see.
Then the sailors of a ship unfortunate enough to enter this region will begin to hear strange sounds; first of all a choking hail out of the darkness, followed by the sounds of cannons, and the cries of men in battle. But there will be nothing to be seen. There will only be the sound of sailors crying out in every language under the sun.
The sounds will eventually fade away, ending with a wail. Sailors will then see ghostly ships appear out of the darkness. The ships will sail right towards the ship which has venture into this area, before suddenly fading away.

Next time I will be presenting a short piece of steampunk fiction.

A Life Of Fiction CXCI

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Yet Even More On Lovecraft and Cthulhu: This story is from volume III of Tales from Cthulhu. It will be the last short story which I will be posting for quite a while.
Here is a relatively short prose piece called the People Who Lived Above The Sea. I can’t remember where the idea came from.

The People Who Lived Above The Sea

“Once upon a time,” my mother used to say, “there were people who used to live above the sea.
“This was a long, long time ago, long before you were born, long before I was born, when those who are our elders were very young. Those were very different times, as there were many of those people, almost as many as there were fish in the sea. They had spread out all around the world. There were even a few of them in the frozen south and the frigid north. Wherever there was land you would find the people who lived above the sea.
“Those people were not as we are. The people looked ugly, almost horrific. Their features looked distorted, with sharp, angular noses where their nostrils should have been. Their skin was a strange pink colour, like that starfish which you were playing with the other day. They had hair covering their heads, like sea otters. They were weak of limb, and could not even breathe underwater, for none of them had gills. They had things called lungs, meaning that they could only breathe air, and all of the realms of the sea were denied to them.
“Yet, despite the fact that they could only live on land, which is only a third of our world, they bred as though the realms of the world were limitless. They bred until there were not only thousands of them, but millions. But that did not stop them. They bred even more, until there were billions of them, all around the world. There were so many of them that the world could no longer support them. They ate up the animals above the sea, and they dished for the fish of our realms. They fished so much that some fish disappeared entirely; and there were many animals which lived on the land above the sea which also disappeared entirely, all of them killed by the people who lived above the sea. They were very foolish, in breeding so much that this world could no longer sustain them. But they were very foolish, for their lives were very short. For only some seventy years would they live, before they died. That is perhaps why these people who lived above the sea did no care what happened to their world – they would not be around to sea the disasters which they wreaked upon their world.
“They damage their world, our world, in many other ways. They made great buildings to power their strange machines, and they burnt oil and plants and black rocks. They burnt so many things that they made the world warmer than it should have been, so that the ice in the frozen south and the frigid north began to melt. They burnt so many things that the seas became warmer and they changed and the coral began to die, becoming white. They knew what they were doing, that they were destroying not only the world above the sea, but also the world in which we lived, but they did not stop.
“They were a cruel and murderous race. Wherever they found our people they killed us, so that we had to hide, back in those terrible times. If they could have slain us all they would have done so, just like the people who lived above the sea killed many of the animals of their time. But they did not only kill us. They did not only kill the animals of the world. They killed many of each other, slaughtering millions of their own kind, just because they were slightly different colours or because they had different views of the way that their world was supposed to be. They killed millions, but they still bred faster than they could wipe themselves out. Their numbers grew even higher.
“They worshipped strange, pagan gods, ones with names like Booda and Ye’ova and Aller and others. None of those gods were real, of course, for all of the people who lived above the sea were pagans. None of them knew the true names of the gods. They were all ignorant. And the people who lived above the sea had fought with each other over their strange gods, with those who worshipped Ye’ova killing those who worshipped Booda, and those who worshipped Aller killing those who worshipped Ye’ova. The people who lived above the sea needed few excuses to murder each other. They had little knowledge of the importance of life.
“Had the people who lived above the sea been allowed to survive then they would have carried on trying to destroy their world. They would have killed all of the animals who lived on the land above the sea, and then all of the animals who lived in our world.
“We prayed to our gods, back then, to come and save our world. We had prayed to them before, a long, long time ago, when the people who lived on the land above the sea had destroyed our settlements and tried to kill us all. We had not been answered back then. But we had not lost faith, for we had known that our gods were real, unlike the pagan gods of the people who had lived above the sea.
“Eventually the gods heard our prayers, and Father Dagon and Mother Hydra and the other gods came to our help, and swept away the people who lived above the sea, until there were no more of them, and they were nothing but a legend. And that all happened a long, long time ago, long before you were born, long before I was born, when those who are our elders were very young. The people who lived above the sea were destroyed, and the world slowly began to recover from the evil which they had done.
“The cities of the people who lived above the sea are still there, though, in the waterless land, even though they are crumbling and in ruins. They stand there, as monuments to the foolishness of the people who lived above the sea, haunted by the ghosts of the billions dead. And that is why we will never ever be like the people who lived above the sea.”
That was the end of the fairy tale. It was not my favourite. I preferred to hear ones about our own legendary origins, rather than the people who lived above the sea. That story always gave me nightmares.

A Life Of Fiction CXC

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Yet More On Lovecraft and Cthulhu: As I have said in recent posts I have been writing a number of stories based in the Cthulhu Mythos of H P Lovecraft. At the same time I also reread all of the Lovecraft stories which I possessed.
By the time that you read this I hope to have finished volume two of Tales from Cthulhu. If not then I guess that I have been distracted by something else. Anyway, here is a short story from that collection. Again, don’t expect it any time soon on Kindle.

The Secret Museum

It was in the winter of 193- that I discovered what I will always think of as the secret museum.
I was driving through the Catskill Mountains on my way home to New York when it began to snow. It did not merely snow, but began to come down as a blizzard, so that I could hardly see where I was going. Considering how steep the sides of some of the roads could be I decided to try and find somewhere out of the snow, where I could, at least, wait for the blizzard to stop. Some cheap motel would have done me. But I did not think that there was anything like that where I was.
I saw a turning off the main road. I decided to try it, hoping that it would go somewhere. I had to keep leaning out of the door of my automobile to wipe the snow from my window screen. I did not desire to become some poor fool who had gotten lost in the snow.
The road only went for a few minutes, between two branches of the Catskills, before petering out. There was a nothing there, apart from some dark shape I could just see by squinting through the falling flakes. The snow already lay heavy on the ground, and I knew that it was going to set. Any fool who spent the night out in the open would be a corpse come the morning.
I got out of the automobile. I could see that the dark shape was some sort of structure, perhaps a house. I wondered if it was the house of some forester. Whatever it was, I hoped that it would prove to be a shelter from the snow.
I ran up to the front of the house. I could not see any lights on inside the place. But it was late at night. I supposed that any inhabitant of the house might have gone to bed.
I banged on the door, as I could see neither knocker nor bell. No one opened the door. No lights came on in any of the windows of the place.
I shivered with the cold. My coat was not thick enough for the weather, and one of my shoes leaked. I did not even have a scarf. My throat felt as though it was turning blue; and my face hurt, caressed with icy fingers by the cruel winter wind. I had to get inside.
I noticed that, while the building looked old, perhaps a hundred years old, the door at the front was quite recent, with only a Yale lock between me and shelter from the blizzard; and that there was a pane of glass in the wall next to the door, where someone could look out at whoever was outside. But, for now, it would become my means of ingress.
I put my fist through the glass, and reached for the other side of the lock. My cold fingers turned it, opening the door. I withdrew my hand with care. But I was still not able to prevent a small cut on the back of my hand. I wished that I had had the foresight to have worn gloves. I wished that I had had the foresight, and the money, to purchase a warmer coat.
I went inside the place, and closed the door behind me. Cold air blew through the hole I had made in the window next to the door. But there was nothing which I could do about that, apart from apologise to the owner of this place.
It was dark in the place, but I could still see enough to tell that I was in some long and wide hall. perhaps running the length of the building. I let my eyes adjust to the gloom. Then I decided that I wanted to see what this place was like.
I got out a box of matches and struck one of the lucifers, holding it up. It flickered, thanks to the breeze from the whole which I had created, but stayed lit long enough for me to see that there were some sort of display cases on this place. A quick glance suggested that this building was some sort of museum, although it was not one of which I had ever heard before. Nor could I understand why it had been built in this isolated area of the Catskills.
I saw a switch for a light. This place had gaslight, albeit no electricity. The gaslights, along the walls, flickered, as though the gas did not flow as freely as it should.
I could now see with the cases along the walls of this long hall. I had been correct in my first guess that this was some sort of museum. It looked like it had not been used in some time, for I could see cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. Only now did I get to see what was held behind the glass.
The first case contained an old dagger, with blood staining the metal blade. The blood had dyed the metal a brown colour. But I was sure that it was dried blood, rather than rust.
There was a legend on the case, on a bit of card. It claimed that the dagger was the one which had been used to kill Julius Caesar. I was not sure that that could be the case. How could they know, after so long, that this was the dagger which had been used?
I moved on to the next case. Knowing that this was not somebody’s home I had relaxed. No one would come to shout at me for having broken into this place. I did not have to worry about some home-owner armed with a shotgun.
The next case held a large glass bottle in which there was some kind of foetus. The legend on the case said that it was a foetus of a deep one-human hybrid. I had no idea what that was supposed to be. Looking through the glass of the case, and then the glass of the jar, it was hard to make out exactly what was in the jar in the first place.
The next case held a stack of papers. The legend on the case said that the papers represented an unfinished translation of the Necronomicon by Aleister Crowley. I had not heard of the man, and I had not heard of the book. I think that it was around then that I decided that this museum was a very strange place. It felt as though I should not be there. If it had not been a blizzard outside I would have left.
There were more of the glass cases. I saw strange, unearthly weapons, some of which seemed to be made of metals which were alien to my knowledge. There were ancient, occult books, written in Arabic and German and Latin. There were glowing gems and weird lenses, and things which I could not even begin to comprehend. Simply looking at some of the exhibits made my head hurt, as though I was looking at things which objected to being in a single shape, and were trying to expand into dimensions which did not exist.
I wondered who had created this museum, and who it was supposed to be for. It had never been advertised in New York, for I would surely have recalled hearing about such a thing. Who came here to look at these horrid things? At what midnight time did this place open?
Yes, I thought, this was a museum which only opened at night, and only to a select clientele. I hoped that this night was not one of the nights when people came to look at its bizarre exhibits. But I reckoned that the snow would keep people away.
I made my way to the end of this strange museum. There were two more doors there. One of them led to the outside, but was barred and bolted from the inside. The other door was behind one of the glass cases. It had to lead to the rest of the building. I wondered if there was an upstairs to the place. I hoped that it did not have a basement. I did not want to be underground in this place. But maybe in the basement they had the exhibits which were too horrible to put on show. That was not a good thought.
I walked back to the door at the front of the secret museum. There was a little bit of snow which had blown through where I had broken the window. I opened the door and looked outside. The snow was still coming down, and as hard as ever. It was covering my automobile. I doubted if it would start with the cold. I was not going anywhere at the moment.
I closed the door and retreated. I was cold. I wondered if there was any fire in the place. I had to try and get warm. I considered, briefly, trying to smash up some of the cases so that I could set fire to the wood. But I was no barbarian. Besides, if I set light to any wood in such a manner I risked the entire building going up in flames.
It was as I was contemplating my situation that the door behind the display cases opened. An old man stepped out, and walked towards me, coming out from behind the exhibits. I had thought that I was alone in the place.
The man really was very old. He had to be in his nineties, at the very least. His face was heavily lined, as though his skin had cracked multiple times. The lines in his face looked more like ancient wounds, rather than the ravages of time. He had but a halo of white hair around his head.
He was dressed in clothing which was clearly out of date. I judged his aged suit to be late nineteenth century, or perhaps even earlier. Perhaps it had been decades since he had bought any new clothing. He stumbled slowly towards me, each step looking like it was painful for him.
“I’m sorry, but there was a blizzard outside, and I needed somewhere to stay until it stopped.” I said. I wanted to get in my apology before he accused me of breaking into this place. “I tried knocking. But I guess that you didn’t hear me. I didn’t think that I had a choice but to break the glass and let myself into this place. I’ll pay for the glass in the window.”
I would, if I had any money on me. But things had been lean of late. But he didn’t know that.
He carried on walking towards me. He didn’t say anything in response to what I had said. I began to get nervous. There was something about this strange old man which I did not like.
“What is your name?” I asked. He smiled at me, revealing yellowed, old teeth. I did not like that smile. For some reason it made me think of a hungry alligator.
I backed off a few paces. I thought about whether I should get out of there, despite the fact that the snow was still coming down outside.
The old man took another few steps towards me. And then it happened. Just for a few moments I thought that I saw something else, where the old man was shambling towards me. It must have been a trick of the light. That can be the only explanation for seeing some monster with slimy tentacles where its arms should have been.
Another few steps from the old man. He raised his arms as though he wanted to touch me. Just then I realised that the last thing which I wanted in my entire life was for this creepy old man to grab me.
I backed off, turn around and ram. I wrenched open the door to the outside, not caring how cold it was outside. The snowflakes were still spiralling down out of a leaden grey sky. There was maybe an inch covering my automobile all over. I knew that it was going to be too cold to start. But I had to try.
I used my sleeve to wipe the accumulated snow of the bonnet, and off the windshield. I glanced back towards the strange, secret museum. But the old man had not come out of the place. I hoped that he wouldn’t.
I tried starting my car. But, as I had feared, it was dead. The engine would not go.
I tried again. The cold had killed my car. The engine would not turn over. I glanced back towards the building, and I saw the old man step out into the snow, as he slowly walked towards me, his hands raised as though he wanted to give me a hug. There was something odd about him, though, as he walked towards me. it took me a few moments to work it out – his breath was not frosting in the cold air.
I tried a final time to get the automobile working, but without any luck. And then I ran out of there, back down the road to the main one, and along that towards New York, the snow falling all around me. I could not see more than a few yards, and I did not think that I was going to make it back to the city. But anything was better than having that weird old man catch up with me.

I don’t know when I passed out. But I guessed that I must have, as the next thing that I knew was waking up in hospital. The doctors told me that a couple, their automobile forcing its way through the snow, had found me unconscious at the side of the road, and they had saved my life, bringing me into New York City. They had been on the lookout for me after they had found my automobile abandoned by the side of the road. Oh, yeah, the doctors say that they will be able to save all of my fingers and toes. I had quite a nasty case of frostbite when I was brought in.
I had the doctors go over the story more than once. It was the bit about my automobile having been seen by the side of the road. That was the bit which I couldn’t get, as I had left it outside the secret museum. But I reckoned that the old man must have moved it, although I don’t know why.
As soon as I was well enough I went and got my automobile, by the side of the main road as I had been told. It started first time. I got out of there as quickly as I could. I did not look for the turning to the secret museum…

A Life Of Fiction CLXXXIX

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

More On Lovecraft and Cthulhu: As I have said in recent posts I have been writing a number of stories based in the Cthulhu Mythos of H P Lovecraft. At the same time I also reread all of the Lovecraft stories which I possessed. I even bought a collection with some stories which had escaped me, the most prominent tale being At The Mountains of Madness.
Anyway, I completed one collection, which I called Tales from Cthulhu. No idea if and when it will appear on Kindle. But I had some fun in writing the stories. And it is nice to actually finish a project, once in a while.

Here is one of the short stories from Tales from Cthulhu:

The Astronomer

Peter Edmonds looked again in the telescope. It was one of the most powerful in the world. Really, only the ones in space could get a clearer picture of the night sky. But as Peter Edmonds was an astronomer that was not really surprising.
Edmonds was one of a number of people engaged in the search for Trans-Neptunian objects – of which Pluto now was one. Some people still thought that Pluto was a planet. But Pluto had been demoted years ago. It was no longer a planet. The reason for that had been the discovery of objects similar in size to Pluto. It had been a case of either redefining the definition of a planet, or of adding a lot more planets to the solar system.
Edmonds sighed. Most people had not heard of Eris, Makemake, Haumea, Sedna, Quaoar or Orcus. Or 2007 OR10. That one had not yet been given a name. He had suggested Romulus, after the planet in Star Trek. But he doubted whether the naming committee would call it that. They would probably name it after some other Hawaiian goddess.
Maybe if he found some Trans-Neptunian Object they might allow him to name it. Why not call it Romulus? Or maybe they could call it Gallifrey, where the time lords in Doctor Who had come from. That would be cool.
Nothing. He had found nothing yet. The sector he was looking at was empty of large pieces of rock spinning through the outer reaches of the solar system. Why couldn’t he find something? He was an astronomer, and he had this telescope to play with. Others had found things. He knew the two guys who had discovered 2002 MS4. That had been classified as a cubewano. Just a bit of rock, really. But they had found it, and he hadn’t.
“Bloody Chad.” Edmonds sighed. He would try again the next night.

The next night Edmonds saw something through his telescope. There was a faint mark on the picture where there had not been one the night before. He checked other photographs of that section of the night sky. The mark was not there.
He began to get very excited. It was too faint to be a star. And stars do not wander through the sky like that. It was what the Ancient Greeks called a wanderer – a planetes. That was the only possibility. He had discovered a new planet – or, at least, a Trans-Neptunian Object. He would have liked them all to be called planets. Being a planet was far more important that being a Trans-Neptunian Object.
There would be more planets, though, than the normal public would be able to remember. You would not just have Saturn or Uranus or poor old demoted Pluto. You would also have Makemake and the rest of the gang.
He would love to find something like that. The general public might not get to know your name. But others in the astronomical community would. If he found a new ‘wanderer’ then he would get at least a modicum of fame.
Could the mark be something wandering across the heavens? He was not sure. But it could be something like a dwarf planet. He would only discover that in days to come.

The next night he was back at his telescope. He searched for the planetoid, not expecting it to be in the same place. But it was. He thought that it was in exactly the same place as before.
He frowned. That did not make any sense. It should be moving through the heavens, in its orbit around the sun. If it was some rock or planetoid that was what should happen, unless it had a very strange orbit indeed. At the moment, though, it looked like it had an orbit which was taking it directly towards the Earth.
He didn’t tell anybody else about what he had seen through the telescope. Not yet. He decided that a few mire observations were necessary before he revealed what he had found. Then he would tell other astronomers.

The next day he could hardly wait for the night, to have another look at the thing that he had found. He was sure that it was real, and that he was the first one to discover it.
He checked his emails, fearing that he would get one by somebody else saying that they had found this new object. But there was nothing. It seemed that nobody else was looking at this little corner of the night sky. That was a relief.
After work he went for a jog, just to use up some of the energy he had got. He ran through the park, hardly noticing his surroundings. he jogged down to the park pond to look at the ducks. He realised that he had forgotten to bring any bread for them. Their quacks were in vain. Besides, he had heard that you were no longer supposed to give dry bread to ducks. It swelled up inside them or something.
“Phantasus.” he said, out loud. At work he had sneaked a look at websites on Classical mythology, looking for names which he might call the object. Many of them had already been used, of course: Mimas, Enceladus, Rhea, Tethys, Dione, Titan, Iapetus, Pan, atlas, Pandora and others were all moons of Saturn, for example. But he did not think that there was an astronomical body called Phantasus. Phantasus, of course, was one of the sons of Hypnos. Phantasus was responsible for sending dreams of inanimate objects to people.
The problem was that Classical mythology was not all that popular at the moment. Things like Hawaiian mythology were in, instead. Makemake was named after an Easter Island god. Haumea was named after the Hawaiian god of childbirth. Varuna was named after a Hindu god. Greece and Rome were unpopular with the International Astronomical Union at the moment.
He waved goodbye to the ducks and wandered home, watching bad television until it was dark enough to use his telescope.

The planetoid was bigger tonight. He could make out the fact that it looked irregular. But, even looking down the telescope, he could not make out any more features.
Was this dwarf planet coming on a path which took it close to Earth? That might explain why he thought that it looked fractionally larger. But what sort of speed was it coming at, for it to look bigger after just one night? He could not imagine how fast it had to be going.
He looked up some of the speeds of similar objects. Haumea travelled through space at an average of 4.484 kilometres a second. Makemake was 4.419. Sedna was only 1.04. Quaoar was 4.52. But he thought that his object had to be considerably faster than any of those.
He still did not tell anybody else yet about his discovery. But he knew that he soon would have to, lest somebody else see it and claim the discovery for themselves.

The next night Edmonds looked at the object again. The dwarf planet (he was sure that it was a dwarf planet) was definitely larger than before. It was not just his imagination. It was heading towards Earth. Of course Edmonds did not think that the Earth was in danger. This dwarf planet would probably miss Earth by hundreds of thousands of miles – and that would still qualify as being a near miss. Idiots would write in the newspapers about the earth being almost destroyed, as they had no real concept of the vastness of space. The television channels would repeat crap Hollywood movies about giant asteroids threatening the planet. Bruce Willis has a lot to answer for.
He checked his emails. He checked the website of the International Astronomical Union. There was still no mention of the object. He should tell them what he had found. But, for some reason, he did not do so. Not yet. He wanted to see if he could see any more details of the thing. One more night, and then he would tell other people about it.

The next night he was staring through the telescope again. He could see those details. But what he could see was unbelievable, he had to look away, and then look again, to conform what he was seeing.
It had a face. The thing coming towards Earth had some sort of face. He could see a great, gaping mouth, and two eyes. It seemed to be staring at him, down the telescope, as though it could see him, although Edmonds knew that was impossible. It might be able to see the Earth. But there was no way that it could see individual people, no matter how good its eyesight was.
What was it, though? Was it alive? He did not see how a planet, or even a dwarf planet, could be alive in such a manner. It was like something out of a 1970s comic book.
Perhaps it was natural features, and he had only imagined that it looked like a face, like the supposed face and pyramid on Mars at Cydonia. He looked again. No, it was a face. Whether real or carved out by some alien race he did not know. But it was definitely there.
He contacted a friend he knew in the International Astronomical Union, emailing him with the location of the object. He did not put anything about seeing a face. Edmonds put that he had found a new solar system object, and gave the exact coordinates. Let them look at it and see the face. It was the only way in which they would believe him.
A little later he got a phone call from his friend.
“There is nothing at the position you indicated. Are you sure that you gave us the correct coordinates?”
“Yes, I’m certain.” Edmonds said. “Take another look.”
“Alright.” But the response that he got back, a little later, was exactly the same – that there was nothing there.
They couldn’t see the face of the thing coming towards Earth. Why couldn’t they see it? He did not understand it. It was there. He could see it through the telescope. He knew that he was not imagining it. He was not mad. It was real.
He didn’t look at it again that night.

The next night it was even closer. Edmonds could see the face in detail. It was not human. It was more like the face of some gigantic squid, its beak open as though getting ready to bite. But squids could not survive in the vacuum of space. No creature could survive in a vacuum. It could not possibly be a living thing. It had to be stone which had been carved to look like that. Yet he knew that it was not. There was part of him which knew that it was alive – alive, and monstrously intelligent.
It was looking at him, as though it knew that he was watching it through a telescope. But that was not possible. There was no way that that – that thing – could know that he had been watching it as it traversed the void towards Earth. Yet it did.
He was shaken as he stepped back from the telescope. He wanted to speak to somebody about what he could see. But what would be the point, if nobody else could see it? They would only think that he was mad. And he was not mad. He was not going crazy.

With each passing day he could make it more details of the thing. It was bigger than any creature which had ever lived on earth. It was bigger than a blue whale. And it was like no creature which had ever evolved on earth. At first he had thought that it was some sort of enormous space squid, able to exist in the vacuum between worlds. But that had been because its head was the thing turned towards Earth as it approached. Its body had been partly obscured by its head. But Edmonds could now catch glimpses of a body beyond the head, one which looked basically humanoid in design. But it was the body of some titan.
It had wings, as well, like the wings of some gigantic bat. The wings were beating as it came towards earth. It was flying through space. But that was impossible. Space was a void. The wings had nothing to act against. Yet the wings were somehow propelling it forwards. Impossible! Impossible, yet real. This thing broke all the rules.
Edmonds knew that the creature knew that he had been watching it. It knew that it was aware of its approach. Perhaps there was some reason why it had revealed itself to him, and him alone, although he could not imagine what that reason was. He was an astronomer, one among many. There were astronomers who were more important than he were. There were ones with bigger telescopes. But it had chosen him.
One more night, closer than ever before, the thing was. He stared at it through the telescope, feeling as though he could almost reach out and touch it. It filled his view.
Its squid-like mouth opened, the tentacles around the mouth writing in a strange and occult manner. It spoke in the silent darkness of space… and Edmonds heard it inside his mind.

They found Peter Edmonds the following morning, outside and in the car park, slumped against his car. He was gibbering to himself, talking about a squid man flying through space, and what the thing planned to do when it got here.
Of course nobody believed him.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXXVIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Actually Finishing Something: Recently (although months ago as you read this) I actually finished one of my projects, The Misadventures of Edwyn le Fay. That is a collection of short stories featuring an elderly Edwyn le Fay. You can find some of his adventures elsewhere on this WordPress site.
The collection of short stories is fewer than sixty thousand words, so it is not very long. But it was one of those things which I put aside for months, wondering if I would ever complete it. In the end I had a desire to return to it, and finish off those stories which I had not completed. I felt a slight buzz on finishing it, although I think that part of the buzz may have been relief at getting it out of the way. I have a few other short story collections which are unfinished. Maybe I will be able to complete them now. I want to finish off all of the short stories which featured Briggs and Prenderghast, for example. I have a few horror collections which are not finished. And I have a great number of novels which are not complete.
This collection may not be the last stories to appear featuring Edwyn le Fay, despite the way that the final story of the collection ends. For some reason le Fay has become one of my favourite characters.

Here is the first story from The Misadventures of Edwyn le Fay.

In The Footsteps Of Schliemann

“I thought that, as part of your tuition, that we would have a little trip.” Edwyn le Fay said, to his student.
Yes, that was correct: student. After years of not having had any real friends or contacts, Edwyn le Fay had decided to take on a student. Perhaps, before his teaching was complete, he might even pass on the secrets of Shadow Magick. It would be a shame if Shadow Magick died with him.
He had paid for a small advert (he had not been able to afford a large one) saying that an experienced wizard was available to give mystical tuition. Perhaps he was charging too much money, but he had only had one person answer the advertisement: Bridget Jacobson.
At first le Fay had almost turned her down. Then he had thought why not? Lady Blackhaven, after all, had been one of the greatest of Court Magicians. Why shouldn’t he teach Magick to a young woman if she had the ability to pay? He needed the money, after all.
Le Fay had been looking for a student who was a teenager. But Bridget Jacobson was already in her twenties. That was more than a little old to begin learning Magick. But when he had begun tutoring her he had discovered that Bridget Jacobson already knew some of the basics of Magick. Apparently her late grandfather had been a wizard, and he had taught her some of his Magick. Now she wanted to learn some more.
Bridget Jacobson certainly did not look like most people’s idea of a wizard. She was probably the most fashionable person who le Fay had ever met, what with her bobbed hair and her silk dresses, and the beret which she sometimes liked to wear. if somebody had had to guess what she was, then they might have said that she was an actress.
“A trip?”
“Consider it educational.”
“Where are we going?”
“I though that we might go to Turkey.”
Turkey was a relatively new country. It had been founded by Kemal Ataturk only a few years ago, carved out of the ruins of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
“Why? What is there in Turkey which might add to my mystical knowledge?”
“I thought that we might go and see Troy. Not every person realises that Troy is real, and that there actually was a Trojan War. Some people still seem to think that it is nothing but a myth. But it is real, and was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann decades ago. I don’t think that he completed the work. So I thought that we would go along to the sire and, er… have a look at it.”

They left a few days later. They travelled by ferry to Calais, and from Calais they travelled by train of the way down to Istanbul. The train journey was long, but was without event. Le Fay wished that he could have got instantly to his destination, rather than catch the train. Sometimes travelling around the world could seem so slow. Not that he had actually done all that much travelling in the past. He had caught a steamship to the Americas, when he had investigated Roanoke; and he had gone to Switzerland on an adventure which he had done his best to forget. This was only the third time in his life that he had left the United Kingdom, as far as he could recall.
He and Bridget Jacobson crossed the Bosphorus by boat. They travelled by train as close as they could to Hisarlik; and then by a rickety omnibus which kept threatening to break down, but somehow managed to keep rolling along. They reached the little Turkish village which was the closest to the site which Schliemann had excavated. Due to problems with communications le Fay did not even know what the village was called. Le Fay did not speak any Turkish; and the locals’ English was very poor.
They walked from the nearest village to Troy – to the mound which had been called Hisarlik until it had been excavated.. Le Fay had considered buying mules. But he was a little short of funds. Besides, he was not sure that he trusted mules. Knowing his luck any mules would disobey him, and just stand there, no matter what he did. He did not know any spells to control the minds of mules. So he and Jacobson had walked to the site, with backpacks, containing everything which they might need, weighing them down. le Fay, for one, was exhausted by the time that they got to Troy, despite the fact that Jacobson was carrying fractionally more equipment than he was. But he had never really been a physical person.

“So this was Troy?” Bridget Jacobson asked, as she looked around the place excavated by the German. She was dressed for the country: she was not in her fine dresses and cloche hats, but in tan-coloured jodhpurs and boots. The fact that the jodhpurs were a bit tight was a little distracting, as far as le Fay was concerned. But le Fay did not seem to notice. She was far more interested in the site.
The site did not look like it had been touched since Schliemann had been there. It probably had not been – none of the locals had seemed bothered when le Fay had mentioned Troy to them.
The ruins were not as big as Jacobson had thought that they would be. She had thought that it had once been a massive settlement. But, unless some of it still lay beneath the ground, it was a lot smaller then that.
The top of the mound of Hisarlik had been taken away by Schliemann and, later, in 1893 and 1894, by Wilhelm Dörpfeld, who had been a colleague of Schliemann. But it had not been touched for the past thirty years or so. The Turks had certainly not done anything.
The ruins were only some three hundred feet in radius. Jacobson could see bits of the walls which had once enclosed the citadel. Foundations of some of the houses which the walls had enclosed were visible on the open ground in front of her. There were a few trees encircling the site.
“Yes, hundreds and hundreds of years ago.” le Fay said. He had some idea of the Classics. But his knowledge was far from perfect. “This was where warriors like Achilles and Ajax fought.”
“How did Heinrich Schliemann know that this was the site of Troy?” Bridget asked.
“Er…” That was something which Edwyn could not recall. “I think that he must have done lots of research. Anyway, I want to see if there are any mystical items in the area.”
“Such as?”
“Didn’t Ajax have a spear? That must have been Magickal.”
“Hm.” Jacobson was not sure about that. She did not know how good they had been at Magick. She could not recall any mention of mystical weapons when she had read the Iliad and the Odyssey. Those who had used Magick had been feared in the Greek myths: ones like Circe, who had turned Odysseus’s men into swine (something which was supposed to be impossible); and Medea, who had helped Jason obtain the Golden Fleece.
“We had better start looking for stuff.” le Fay said. “It’s the reason why we’ve come here, after all.”

Edwyn le Fay got out his mythometer. He should really have set up the tents first. But he was too eager to look for Magickal stuff. They could always put the tents up later. It was not like it was time to go to bed.
Edwyn le Fay did not know that he and Bridget were being watched through a pair of powerful binoculars. After a while the binoculars were lowered. The man who had been watching Edwyn le Fay was in his late forties. He had short, tidy grey hair, and a postage stamp moustache. He was wearing what he imagined to be the sort of clothes some worker might wear. His overalls were brand new, and he seemed to be uncomfortable wearing them. He would rather have been wearing a smart suit. His face twitched, a little involuntary tic. He did not like being out of doors in the wilds of Anatolia.
“What are they doing?” somebody else asked, in French. This other person was in his thirties. He was tall, and had lank black hair. He was smoking a Gauloise. He was wearing workman’s jeans, black boots, and a brown leather jacket. His clothes looked worn, especially the jacket. He was as comfortable out of doors as his colleague was uncomfortable.
“The man is holding a mythometer in his left hand.”
“So he is a wizard. We should have brought a wizard.”
“It was you who insisted that only the two of us come here. You did not want to involve anybody else. What do you want to do?”
“I know that Schliemann missed things. I think that he got some of the layers mixed up. He was digging up a time prior to the Trojan War but thought that it was the time of the conflict. Anyway, if they are going to dig things up why not let them do our work for us? It is only a small alteration to the plan. We let them find things, then we go and take them from them. Then we sell them on the black market, just as we had intended.”
“What if they won’t give us what they find?”
“I have a gun.”
“A gun? You did not say anything about a gun. I do not want any violence.”
“There won’t be any violence. We threaten them with the gun, take anything valuable, and leave. It is easy.”
The other man did not look convinced. But he didn’t say anything. It was, perhaps, wise not to argue with somebody who had just admitted to the fact that he was carrying a gun.

“Anything?” Bridget asked. She was sitting on part of a wall which was three thousand years old.
“I’m not sure.” Edwyn said. The needle of the mythometer had twitched, rather than moved. Did that mean that Magick was nearby, or not? “Maybe if the Magick items are buried they are hard to detect. Dense material could block Magickal radiations. He had only cast a simple spell of Magickal detection. He had thought that if he cast a really powerful spell of detection then the needle would have been jumping all over the place, with multiple sources of Magick. Perhaps he would cast another spell of detection a bit later.
“Do you actually know anything about archaeology?” Bridget asked. “If this is Troy then this is an important site, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Edwyn wasn’t sure where this was going. He wasn’t sure that he was going to like the destination.
“We don’t want to do anything to lose knowledge, do we?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then we should conduct this like a proper archaeological dig and record everything that we find.”
“I suppose so.” Edwyn sighed. He had been intending to grab any mystical artefacts and get out of there. “Do you actually know anything about archaeology?”
“When I was seventeen I spent one summer assisting archaeologists on a dig on the outskirts of Roxeter. They were investigating Roman remains. The Romans used to call Roxeter Viroconium.”
“Oh.” le Fay had not realised that his student actually knew anything about archaeology. That instantly made her more qualified than he was. “I suppose that these archaeological dig things take a lot of time.”
“The one in Roxeter went on for several weeks.”

“Good. Well, let’s get our tents set up. We had better do that. But I hoped that we weren’t going to be hear for weeks, anyway.” he said. He tried not to be annoyed by the fact that, as far as his student was concerned, she probably knew more about archaeology than he did.
They set up their tents. Well, tried to. Edwyn took two attempts to get his tent erected. He had never really been that good at practical things. It was clear that he had never set up a tent before. Jacobson had to help him sort it out.
“What are they doing now?”
“They are setting up tents – badly. Here, look for yourself.”
The binoculars were handed over.
“It is the woman who is erecting it. She is wearing jodhpurs.” The binoculars were kept on her all of the time that she was bent over erecting le Fay’s tent. In the end they were snatched away by the other Frenchman.

When the tents were up le Fay and Jacobson began to prepare for the dig. Le Fay let Jacobson order him about, at least to a certain extent. But he did not want to open his mouth and reveal that he did not know what he was doing.
Edwyn watched as Bridget set up a tripod.
“I don’t see why you brought a Magickal Oscillator with you.” he said. He had let her carry the tripod all of the way to the campsite. He had had enough to carry with the two tents.
“It’s not an oscillator.” Bridget said, as she attached a box-like device to the top of the tripod. Edwyn had presumed that the box-like device was just some new-fangled design of a Magickal Oscillator.
“What is it, then?”
“It is a theodolite.”
“You do know what a theodolite is, don’t you?”
“Of course.” Le Fay was not about to say that he had no idea. He hoped that Bridget was not going to question him any further, so that he would be forced to reveal his ignorance concerning the theodolite.
Le Fay considered telling his student that he wasn’t really that interested in ‘real’ archaeology, and that he had hoped to come in and use his Magick to find items of interest. But he did not want her to think that he was only some sort of thief. Besides, if his Magick was not going to reveal anything, then perhaps he would have to use archaeology to recover them.
“I will try again to detect items of Magick.” le Fay said. “This is a more powerful spell. It will leave me somewhat tired.”
Bridget Jacobson watched as le Fay cast the spell. The needle on the mythometer moved as he concentrated. Le Fay followed the needle, hoping that he had not detected some minor mystical charm in some nearby village.
Le Fay found himself standing hear the remains of an ancient wall. The needle began to spin.
“Below here, somewhere.” le Fay said. “Place some sort of marker here.”
Le Fay was still concentrating on the spell. This was Troy, after all. There was the possibility that there were a lot more than just one more item hidden in the dirt of Troy.
Schliemann had not had a wizard with him, of course, when his dig had taken place in the eighteen seventies. That excavation had been under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire. Apparently some Moslems did not like the use of Magick. They considered it to be evil, or something stupid. Le Fay did not understand such views at all.
There was another mental buzz; another flick of the needle. It pointed in another direction. Something else was here.
Le Fay followed the needle. It led over to the other side of the site. There was nothing special about where he found himself standing. It was just dirt and weeds.
“Mark this place, as well.” he called out.

“What are they doing now?”
“The young woman is hammering some sort of tent peg into the ground.”
“I presume that the wizard has detected something of value and that he wanted the area marked.”
The two Frenchman had no idea that Bridget Johnson was a wizard, as well, albeit only a trainee one. What they thought of her is not known. Maybe they thought she was his daughter. Or perhaps they thought that he Fay had decided, under the excuse of archaeology, to go away for a dirty weekend at Troy.

The makeshift archaeological dig began, with Bridget telling Edwyn what to do. In matters of archaeology it was he who was the trainee, and she who was the tutor.
The first thing that Bridget did was to insist that they mapped out the whole area, dividing it into squares, using the theodolite. On the maps which she produced she marked down the numbers 1 and 2. Those were where she had hammered spare tent pegs into the ground, to mark where Edwyn had detected Magick. Those were the points where they would be digging. She also got her camera out and took a photograph of each point.
Edwyn just wanted to get on with it. He was impatient. But Bridget told him that archaeological digs took time. They didn’t want to destroy any historical knowledge through their dig. Edwyn felt that he had to agree with her.
He was handed a trowel.
“A trowel? Shouldn’t we be using something like a spade?”
“No, we will be using trowels and brushes.” Bridget said. “Besides, we don’t have a spade with us.”
That was true. It was something which Edwyn had forgotten to bring when they had set out for Turkey. They had been carrying enough stuff, anyway. He had thought that any other stuff which they needed they could always pick up in Turkey.
“Do we have a trowel and a brush?” he asked.
“You brought some with you?”
“One of each?”
“Alright. Give me a trowel and a brush.”
Edwyn le Fay dug down at where there was supposed to be the first Magickal item. He unearthed something. He brushed the dirt away from his discovery.
It was a gold ring. Le Fay went to pick it up.
“Wait!” Bridget Jacobson shouted.
“Wait? Why? Do you think that it might be cursed?”
“No, that’s not it. I want to take a photograph of it lying where you discovered it.”
Le Fay sighed. But he let Jacobson use her camera to take a picture of the ring lying in the dirt.
“Can I pick it up now?” he asked.
“Yes, of course.”
Le Fay picked the ring up. He knew that it was Magickal. But he did not know what the ring did. He decided not to put the ring on his finger just in case it was a cursed ring. Although such items were rare, le Fay knew that they existed. He would have to try to analyse the Magick of the ring.
There was still the other item to unearth, first, before he tried to work out just what he had discovered.

“He’s holding something small. I can’t tell what it is.”
“Hopefully it is a gem. Gems are easy to smuggle out, and go for a good price, depending on what they are. If we can prove that it comes from Troy than it will be even more valuable to certain collectors.”
“Whatever it is, he is putting it down. He’s getting his trowel out again. But he’s going to a different part of the site.”

Edwyn le Fay began digging for the second item. He was hoping that it would be more recognisably Trojan. A Magick ring could have come from anywhere. Not that he was disappointed. He could use a ring, especially if it had some protective values. But he wanted to find something like the Spear of Ajax or the Armour of Achilles.
As he dug down to the next level he wondered if Achilles had actually bothered to wear any armour. According to the legends of the Trojan War Achilles had been invulnerable to harm, apart from one of his heels, where he had been held by his mother when she had dipped him in the Styx. Edwyn le Fay did not believe in the River Styx, despite of all of the strange places he had visited in his life. But that did not mean that Achilles had not been resistant to harm. There had to be protective spells that could protect you from swords and spears. Perhaps Achilles had been covered with all manner of enchantments instead. If he had been, then would he really have worn any armour? Why weigh himself down with something made out of bronze?
What Edwyn le Fay would really have liked to have discovered, though, was some of the Magick which the Ancient Greeks and Trojans had used. A lot of the Magick had survived, passed down through the centuries, from wizard to wizard. But a lot of it must have been lost. Le Fay understood that they had not really had spellbooks in those times. Spells had been memorised, or occasionally written down on scrolls. Few of those scrolls, though, had survived to the modern day. Most of them had been lost.
Edwyn le Fay had read, once, that the Great Library at Alexandria had tried to get a copy of every known spell. How many spells had been lost forever when it had burned down?
Le Fay would have loved to have discovered some scroll with an otherwise unknown spell on it. It would not even have to be a powerful spell. He was more interested in discovering the lost knowledge. But he didn’t suppose that it was about to happen. He would have to look somewhere else for long lost spells. Maybe that could be some other, future expedition.
Le Fay dug down, but he did not discover the other item before it began to get dark. That was a little disappointing. If he had got the other item then he could have got ready to go back to Britain. He was not sure that he liked being in Turkey.
Bridget Jacobson built a small campfire, close to where they had erected their tents. It was she who had collected the wood, of course. She got the fire burning with a simple pyromantic spell.
“I suppose that I will be cooking.” she said.
“I am nor a very good cook.” le Fay admitted. Jacobson sighed, and opened one of the tins of food which they had brought with them. She was not a particularly wonderful cook, either. But she suspected that she was bound to be better than her tutor.

There was another campsite, half a mile away. It was there that the two French rogues sat down to their evening repast. It was a repast. It was not a snack, or anything as mundane as a meal. They were not about to open some tin of beans.
No, they dined on pâté de foie gras, coq au vin, and a bottle of the best Burgundy. They savoured their food. But their discussions, of course, still focused on what the other two people might have uncovered in the ground. All manner of possibilities were discussed. But it did not matter what the other two had found, because the two Frenchmen intended to take it away from those who were actually doing all the hard work.

The next morning le Fay lay in his tent. It was already light. But he did not want to get up just yet. Despite the fact that he had not yet looked out of the tent it felt early to him.
It was only when le Fay heard Jacobson get up to prepare breakfast that he decided that he had better get up as well. It would not look good to spend too long in his tent.
Breakfast was simple but better than anything which le Fay could have done. Jacobson, by not being incompetent in preparing food, had made sure that she had got the position of the camp cook, whether she wanted it or not. And she would be the camp cook at any expeditions in the future.
After breakfast Le Fay carried on with the trowel, digging down. Was he at the same level as the Troy of the Trojan War? Or had he gone down below that level? He wanted something which was recognisably Ancient Greek or Trojan. That Magick ring could have come from anywhere.
Then his trowel hit something which was not dirt. There was the sound of metal on metal. Le Fay raised his trowel, like some weapon, about to furiously dig away, as though he was some sort of mad thing. But Jacobson was watching him.
“Use the brush as well.” she said. “Be careful. If you have discovered something then we want to be able to record the way that it is lying in the ground.”
Le Fay managed not to curse his supposed student. He removed the dirt from his discovery as slowly as he could.
He had found some sort of dagger. The blade had been forged out of bronze. The hilt appeared to be ivory.
He held it up to the light. The dagger was Magickal, of course, because it was its Magick nature which had led le Fay to discover it. Without its Magick nature it would have carried on lying in the dirt. Le Fay wondered exactly what it was, and who had used it. But if there were spells which could find out that sort of information he did not know them.
“Well, we’ve got them.” le Fay said. “Time to go.”
“Is that it?” Jacobson asked. She sounded surprised.
“I think that we can leave other items for any future archaeological digs.” le Fay said. He had only come for the Magick items, after all. He was not interested in any normal daggers. He was not interested in pottery shards. “I mean, we don’t want to disturb it too much.”
“I see.” Jacobson said. She glanced at le Fay. But he had turned away from her. She should have guessed that he had only come here to help himself to any Magick items which might be here. Even in the short time that Jacobson had known le Fay she had come to the conclusion that he was absolutely obsessed with Magick.
She sighed, and went to take her tent down.

“I think that they are packing their things up.” one of the Frenchmen said, as he gazed on the site through the binoculars
“Then it is time to relieve them of what they have found. We must move, now, before it is too late. Come, we will soon be very wealthy.”
The two men advanced on le Fay and Jacobson through the bushes. It was le Fay who saw them first. He turned and stared at them, and asked what they were doing here. But he did not notice that one of the men had a revolver in his hand.
“Look down, English person.”
“He says to look down at the gun.” she said. She was a little bit more observant.
“I saw it.” le Fay claimed. “I was hoping that it was an illusion.” He raised his hands above his head. “What is it that you want?”
“I want zose two zings you ‘ave found.” said the younger Frenchman, in very accented English. “’And them over.”
The man with the moustache looked smug. Le Fay looked down at the gun. It looked very deadly.
“We had better do what they want.” Jacobson said. She, too, raised her hands above her head.
Le Fay, though, rebelled at the idea of having to hand over what they had found. They were his finds, not theirs.
The younger Frenchman levelled his gun at le Fay. “Tell you girlfriend to bring ze zings to me.”
Le Fay put his hands behind his head. Bridget Jacobson could see his fingers forming mystic symbols. She didn’t know what spell he was about to cast. But she got ready to act.
“ELECTRIFY!” le Fay shouted, bringing one hand down to point at the man holding the gun. A bolt of blue lightning struck his hand as the gun went off. A bullet clipped le Fay’s shoulder as the gun went flying off into some bushes.
“You missed!” the elder Frenchman shouted. “Fool! Get the gun.”
“I’m hit!” le Fay shrieked. He grabbed his shoulder, saw his hand covered in blood, and threw himself to the ground.
Jacobson, meanwhile, had dived into the bushes to look for the gun – as had the younger of the two French men (and, rudely, these two men still had not introduced themselves to le Fay and Jacobson).
Jacobson saw the gun; but the Frenchman saw it at the same time. He grabbed it, stood up, and pointed it at le Fay.
“Now you die!” he shouted.
“No, don’t.” le Fay shouted back. The Frenchman pulled the trigger, not noticing that the barrel had been deformed by the electricity. The gun exploded in his hand, taking some of the hand with it.
“I tried to warn you.” le Fay said.
The older Frenchman, the one with the little moustache, had been looking on at this chaos, all of which had unfolded in only a few seconds.
He decided that things were not going his way. He turned to run out of there. But Jacobson had found a rock in the bushes. It was a pretty hefty one, which she had had to pick up with both hands. She ran after Mr Moustache and brought the rock down on his head. He fell unconscious to the ground.
“My hand!” the other Frenchman gasped. He was in danger of going into shock.
“Look what you’ve done to my hand!” he shouted. “I’m going to kill you for this!”
It would have had a greater impact if le Fay had understood what the thug was saying. The man advanced a step towards le Fay. The wizard was still on the ground, holding his shoulder.
Bridget Jacobson brought the rock down on the Frenchman’s head. He slumped down to the ground, in the way that sacks of potatoes are known to slump.
“I’ve been shot.” le Fay complained, now that it was safe to start complaining.
“Take off your shirt.” Jacobson said.
“I need to look at the wound. Unless you would prefer me to cut your shirt open.
He didn’t prefer that. With some difficulty he took his shirt off. He felt very self-conscious, especially of the fact that he really did not have any muscles.
“It’s only a flesh wound. The bullet only clipped it. You’ll live.” she said. She found a roll of bandage out of the things she had brought with her (le Fay had not thought to bring anything like that) and bound his shoulder. Le Fay quickly put his shirt back on, despite the blood staining the shoulder of the shirt. He had not brought a spare one with him.
“It still hurts.” le Fay complained.
“Electrify? I do not know that Word of Command.” Jacobson said, changing the subject.
“It is rare, and powerful, even though the electricity is really only a shock. It is nothing compared to a real bolt of lightning. But I did not have the time for any Fulgomantic Magick. I was only trying to get him to drop the gun. I was aiming at his hand.”
“It was effective. Especially when he didn’t notice that his gun had been damaged. I don’t think that he is actually going to lose any of his fingers. But he is not going to be using that hand any time soon.”
“We should tie them up before they wake up. Ow, my shoulder.”
Bridget Jacobson sighed. She supposed that she would have to tie up the two Frenchmen. She and le Fay, though, did not have any rope.
“I’m going to see if I can find their camp.” she said to le Fay. “I doubt if it can be that far away.

Bridget Jacobson found the Frenchmen’s camp a little way off. They had some rope – enough to tie up the two men. She tended to the younger Frenchman’s wounds, first, so that his hand would not get infected. She made sure that both men were securely tied up (she did not trust le Fay’s facility with knots). Then she brought the two Frenchmen back to consciousness.
“I want to know who you are.” le Fay said.
“Why should we tell you?” the elder of the two Frenchmen answered him. He spoke excellent English, with only a faint accent.
“Because, if you don’t, I won’t tell the authorities where you are, and you will probably die here. Unless you know the spell to get out of your bonds. No, I didn’t think that the two of you were wizards.”
The older Frenchman, the one with the moustache, had had enough of Turkey. This attempt to steal artefacts from Troy had been a disaster.
“I am Auguste Dubois.” he said. “I didn’t know that he had a gun.” A lie, of sorts; Dubois hadn’t known at the start of the venture that his companion was carrying a gun.
“What’s your name?” le Fay asked the other one. He received a string of abuse in French for his trouble. And threats of death, of course.
“You may as well tell him.” Auguste Dubois said. There was no response. “Very well. His name is Pierre Clébert.”
More voluble swearing in French.
So, what are you going to do with us?” Dubois asked.
“Nothing. We’re going to tell the Turks about you and let them pick you up.”
“We will tell them that you’re stealing from the site when they come. You won’t get anything from here either. Give us one of the items and we won’t say anything either.”
Le Fay shook his head. The items were his. He was not going to give them up.
“Keep a watch on them, ah, Miss Blackman.” le Fay said. He had been going to say Jacobson. But he was hoping that these two Frenchmen did not know the names Jacobson or le Fay. The wizard did not want to have to worry about the two men seeking revenge at some later date. “There is something which I must do.”
Jacobson jumped, then smiled.
“If they do anything I’ll hit them with the rock again, Mr Green.” she said. She cottoned on quick.
Le Fay ran back to his finds. The finds were his. Nobody was going to take them away from him.
He took the bronze dagger and the ring. He ran to the one shadow in the area that was dark enough, and jumped into the world of shadows.
Once he had explored an entire world from inside the shadow world. So he knew that distance was not an option. The only factors were time and tiredness.
He thought his way past the shadows, hundreds of different doors back to the real world, as he sped back to his rooms in London. After a long trip he stepped back out into the solid world of reality. He hid his finds. Then he went back into the Shadow World.
By the time that he finally got back to Turkey he was exhausted. Those had been two of his longer trips through that strange world of shadows.
It was night by the time that he got back.
“Where have you been?” Jacobson asked. “I was looking for you. I thought that you had wandered off.”
“Sending the finds back to Britain.” le Fay said. “I, ah, posted them.” He was a terrible liar. Jacobson frowned, but did not say anything. She could not think of anything else which he might have done.

Jacobson and le Fay put their tents back up. They were not going to go back now, but set off in the morning. The Frenchmen did not get to sleep in a tent, but out of doors, although Jacobson did make up a campfire so that they would not suffer from exposure.
The next morning le Fay and Jacobson frogmarched the two criminal Frenchmen to the nearest village and handed them in, trying their best to explain what had happened. Le Fay gave a brief explanation to the authorities, and left the Frenchmen to discover what Turkish justice was like. Then he and Jacobson began the long journey back to London. Le Fay did not really care what happened to the two men, as long as he never got to see them again (which he never did). Still, though, he did not relax until he and Jacobson were on a train, and the train had gone over the Turkish border into Bulgaria.
He relaxed back into his seat, and smiled, thinking of those two Magickal items, already back in London, just waiting for him to return. It had proved to be a rather successful adventure, after all.