This is part of the ongoing adventures of Edwyn Le Fay. The stories should be read in this order:
The Dark House
The House On The Cliff
Mr Naith and Mr Naith
Searching For Gideon De Ville
The Evil Plans of Gideon De Ville
Edwyn Le Fay At The Trismegistus Club
An Enforced Vacation
Edwyn Le Fay In Oxford
Back To London
The House Of Edward Lang
The Captive Edwyn Le Fay
After leaving the company of Detective Inspector Steel Edwyn Le Fay went home. He had not initially intended to go home. But he could not think of anything else to do.
He did not have enough money to go away. He doubted if he had enough money for a train. Not even enough to take him to Wythenshaw, where his father lived.
Edwyn went home, even though he did not feel safe there. Even as he had entered his lodgings, he had thought that he had seen somebody keeping a surreptitious watch on his rooms.
That was enough to get Edwyn scurrying back out onto the streets of London, once had had grabbed a hunk of bread to nibble on. He turned and looked behind, but Le Fay could not see the person who he had thought had been watching his place. Edwyn thrust the piece of bread deep into his pocket – he had not yet finished it – and carried on walking along the street.
He decided to go back to Blackchapel, despite that being one of the last places in the world which he wanted to go to. But he wanted his ever-burning taper back. The taper should have years of light left in it – and at two pounds each he could not simply afford to throw it away.
Edwyn kept looking over his shoulder. He was feeling nervous. He would have been even more nervous if he had known that Steel – through a couple of crooked contacts – had put about the fact that Gideon de Ville was after Edwyn Le Fay alive, and would doubtless pay good money to get his hands on the wizard. Edwyn Le Fay had suddenly become bait. Steel was interested to see who would bite.
Steel was not taking any chances with Le Fay’s life, though. When the house where Le Fay had been held had been searched, Steel had slipped something into Le Fay’s coat pocket. It was a little glass marble. Steel had two of them, identical to each other. He had acquired them after speaking to a wizard.
The other one, at the moment, was not being held by Steel, but by a wizard called Montague Gale. Steel had caught Gale visiting some houses of ill repute in the East End of London. In exchange for Steel’s silence on that matter, Gale had agreed that he owed Steel a favour of two. Now Steel was collecting on those favours. Well, on one of them, at least. Steel hoped to get more than a single service out of Montague Gale.
Gale gazed into the crystal ball. There Le Fay was, walking down the road, probably not having any idea that he was being watched from afar. As long as Le Fay did not go out of range, then Gale should be able to keep tracking him. All that Gale had was to concentrate on the marble which he held in his hand, and the mythometer in the other, and the needle of the mythometer would point towards the direction of Le Fay. As Gale could track people within a hundred miles by his Magick he doubted if this Edwyn Le Fay could elude him.
The image in the crystal ball faded away.
“What’s going on?” Steel asked, suddenly concerned. “What happened with the crystal ball?”
“The crystal ball is not needed at the moment.” Gale sighed. He did not like the police; and he did not like the Steel. Nor did he like having to explain the obvious to people who knew nothing about Magick. “I know from holding the marble and the mythometer that your bait is still moving. Should he cease moving then I will use the crystal ball to see where he is.”
“You can’t keep the crystal ball going all the time?” Steel asked. He had as little liking for wizards like Gale as Gale had for him.
“No, it is far too tiring. If you want him tracked by Magick, this is the only way.”
Steel sighed. He had had his fill of wizards for one lifetime. In his opinion, the world would be a lot simpler if wizards simply did not exist. It would just be normal people then.
“I wonder where he’s going.” Steel said. He and Gale had seen Le Fay leave his lodgings and begin walking down the street.
“I am not a prognosticator about the future.” Gale said. “Nobody is, in my opinion; and anybody who claims otherwise is a liar. But, judging from my mythometer, and what I feel, Mr Le Fay is walking in the general direction of Blackchapel.”
“Blackchapel. Why does it always have to be Blackchapel?” Steel muttered. “You would have thought that Le Fay would have had enough sense to stay out of Blackchapel after what has happened to him. If he had sense, though, he would never have come back to London. Not with Gideon De Ville after him.”
Detective Steel did not feel guilty about the fact that, if not for the detective, then le Fay would not have got mixed up in all this. Well. Steel did not feel that guilty. After all, Le Fay had gone into Monk’s old house with the idea of theft…
Le Fay had a look at the supposed house of Edward Lang from outside. It looked the same as before. He looked left and right, up and down the street, to see if anybody was watching him. But he could not see anybody. Still, though, he could not shake the feeling that he was being observed. It never occurred to the wizard that he was being traced mystically.
He went up to the front door and tried it. It was unlocked. He went in, after casting another glance in all directions.
He walked down into the hall, where he had dropped his ever-burning taper. But it wasn’t there. Somebody must have come in and helped themselves to it. Somebody out there in London, if they had not extinguished it, had a taper giving out green light, one which would burn and burn.
Le Fay got out of the house. He did not feel safe in it, and there was no way that he was going to go upstairs to see if the place had an attic. The search for the secrets of Edward Lang would have to wait.
Le Fay walked back home. He went inside and bolted his front door. He had no idea that he was being observed by a crystal ball.
“There, he is at home.” Gale said, looking at the image which he had just conjured up in the crystal ball. “He is safely at home, Steel. May I rest? He is not going anywhere else today.”
Steel gazed into the image. He was about to tell Gale that he could break off his clairvoyance for the day. But, just then, Steel noticed something.
“I would not be so quick, Gale.” Detective Inspector Steel said. “Look!”
Gale looked. In the crystal ball he could see two men enter the room which Edwyn Le Fay was in. But what concerned Steel was the fact that one of them had a gun. He wanted Le Fay to be captured and taken to De Ville, and not murdered in cold blood. If Le Fay was shot dead it would be a disaster.
Detective Inspector Steel could see the mouths of the two men opening and closing. They were saying something to Le Fay. But he couldn’t hear a thing.
“What are they saying?” Steel said. “I must know what they are saying. Can you produce no sound?”
“No, I cannot produce any sound.” Gale said. He was already feeling tired from the spells which he had on the go. He was not about to cast a spell of clairaudience, as well. That would have wiped him out – especially as he guessed that he was not yet done with watching Le Fay.
Detective Inspector Steel watched, wishing that he had the ability to read lips.
Le Fay had gone into his drawing room in order to relax – which, to him, meant reading up on Magick. He had turned around in shock when two men had burst into the room.
One of the men was the same man who had captured him. Except that, this time, he was not carrying a blackjack. He was carrying a revolver.
One thing which all wizards were taught was not to argue with guns. It is obvious when a wizard casts a spell; and anybody can use a gun. All it takes is a squeeze of the trigger and suddenly you have a dead wizard.
“What do…?” Le Fay began to say. But he did not get to finish whatever question he had intended to ask.
“Shut up!” one of the men shouted. “One word out of you and I’ll shoot.”
Le Fay shut up.
“We’ve got you again, Le Fay.” the other man said. “You’re lucky, because it seems that De Ville wants you alive. Otherwise we’d shoot you, for escaping from us.
“What we are going to do is this – we are going to take you along to this place we know, down by the docks, where Gideon De Ville is waiting for you – and he is not a man who likes to be kept waiting, believe me. He was not happy to come along to take you away, and we had to tell him that you had escaped. But you didn’t go far, did you? One look in that wizard book was all we needed to get your address.”
Edwyn Le Fay, if he survived this, was going to change his lodgings – and register under an assumed name. He intended to stay out of Burke’s Wizardage in future editions.
“Now, he said that he wanted you alive, but he didn’t say in one piece. You can survive being shot, you know? So you cause any trouble, or even think about casting a spell, and I’ll put a bullet where you’ll feel it for the rest of your life. Now come along, time is wasting, and we want our money.”
“I recognise one of them. Long Larry, I’ve got you now.” Steel said, as the two thugs hustled Le Fay out of his rooms. Gale followed their progress, keeping the image trained on Le Fay.
It was clear that one of them – the one who wasn’t Long Larry – was keeping his revolver trained on le Fay’s back, but keeping the fact that he was holding a revolver hidden by his coat, as much as he could. “Damnation! I didn’t think they would break into his house. Why didn’t they just snatch him on the street?”
Gale did not say anything. This was a bit too much Magick for one day, as far as he was concerned. He let the image on the crystal ball fade for the moment.
“I would still prefer a picture.” Steel muttered.
“As long as Le Fay keeps moving, we know that he is still alive.” Gale said. “If he stops, I will call up the image again. Detective Inspector Steel, I do not mean to tell you how to do your job, but should not you send out some officers to rescue Le Fay?”
“Not yet, not yet.” Steel said. “I need them to take him to De Ville. I need to know where de Ville is hiding.”
Gale sighed. But he did not complain. He was considered to be a respectable member of society, and he intended to stay that way. Gale believed Steel when he said that his little peccadilloes would become public knowledge if he did not cooperate. And here was Gale, thinking that blackmail was supposed to be a crime.
“They are moving faster.” Gale said. “They must be in a vehicle…”
Le Fay was in a growler, a four-wheeled hansom cab. Le Fay did not know if the driver knew what was going on or not. He could be part of the gang, for all that Le Fay knew.
The wizard remained silent, not wanting to get shot. The thug now had the gun pressed into his sides, as he sat next to him in the cab. All Le Fay could hope for was that, at some stage, these men might let their guard down, and he might be able to escape. But, after having let Le Fay escape once, it appeared that the villains were taking no chance, this time.
The cab rattled along down to the Thames, down to the docklands area. He was taken to a warehouse which backed onto the water, and forced out of the cab at gunpoint. The villain made no effort to hide the fact that he was holding a revolver, so Le Fay reasoned that the driver of the cab must be in on this crime.
The warehouse had a large sign saying CLOSED attached to its frontage. But a side door let the men into the main area of the warehouse. Le Fay saw tea chests, wooden crates, a crowbar, and all of the other things which you might expect to find inside such a place. There was no sign of anybody else, though, nobody who might come to his assistance.
“You can sit down, if you like.” one of the men said, indicating an upturned tea chest. “We are going to wait here for De Ville. The house is not safe any more, thanks to you. The bluebottles have been all over that place.”
Le Fay sat down. He was not going to do anything which might make the man angry. Not when he was waving a loaded gun around. Le Fay presumed it was loaded. He was not going to put it to the test.
“Now all we have to do is wait for De Ville to show up.” one of the kidnappers muttered. “I hope that he won’t be too long. Then we can get our money and get out of here.”
“Ah, but Gideon De Ville is already here.” said a voice from behind some wooden crates. Gideon De Ville walked around the side of the crates. He was accompanied by Julius, his pet gorilla, who seemed to be even larger than before, if that was possible.
The thing, though, was that Le Fay had seen behind those wooden crates on his way into the warehouse, and no one had been standing there. De Ville and Julius must have been transported to the warehouse by Magick.
De Ville handed over some money two the two thugs who had brought Le Fay to the warehouse. Le Fay did not see precisely how much he was worth.
“Grab him.” De Ville commanded. The command was directed towards Julius the gorilla. The ape grabbed Le Fay by his arms, just below the shoulders. Le Fay felt like the wishbone of a chicken, just waiting to be broken. The gorilla was incredibly strong.
“One word from you and Julius will rip your arms off.” Gideon De Ville said. Edwyn Le Fay believed him. He did not utter a word, or attempt any Magick. But he hoped that his uncontrollable whimpering would not be perceived by the ape as being words.
“You two can go.” De Ville said to the two kidnappers. “You will not want to see what happens next.”
As they had their money, the two kidnappers got out of there. Actually, to tell the truth, they did quite want to see what happened next. But you did not argue with a wizard like Gideon De Ville.
“Now, it is time to deal with you.” De Ville said, as he advanced on the helpless wizard.
Gale the wizard was tired. Perhaps that was why it took him a few minutes to realise that Edwyn Le Fay was no longer moving. It was a few minutes too long.
“Oh no.” Gale said. There was no longer any sort of connection from the marble which he held. He could not sense the marble which Steel had slipped Le Fay’s pocket.
“What’s happened? What’s happened?” Steel shouted.
“He has disappeared.” Gale said. The wizard looked very worried. He cast a spell – the most powerful one that he dared risk – on the crystal ball in front of him. But nothing. The crystal ball remained cloudy.
“What do you mean he has disappeared?” Steel asked, still shouting.
“It means that, considering the spell of detection that I have just cast, that Edwyn Le Fay has disappeared into thin air. I can say, with some certainty, that Edwyn Le Fay is not within a hundred miles of London.”