This is part of the ongoing stories of Edwyn Le Fay. It is suggested that you read these tales 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
The Captive Edwyn Le Fay
Edwyn Le Fay’s head hurt. That was the first thing which he realised. Then he realised just how much his head hurt. The wizard let out a groan.
That groan, though, was curiously muffled. It was only then that Le Fay realised that he had been gagged. Edwyn tried to remove the gag from his mouth. It was then that Edwyn Le Fay realised that his hands had been tied behind his back. It was only then that Le Fay really began to panic.
With his hands tied and his mouth gagged there was no way in which he could cast a spell. If his hands had not been tied… well, if they had not been tied then anybody could have escaped, without the use of Magick. If his mouth had not been gagged then he could probably have figured out some spell to deal with his hands.
He opened his eyes and looked to see where he was. He was lying on a dirty mattress on some bed in a rather ugly bedroom. The only furniture in the room was the bed. There was not even an occasional table. There was no carpet down on the floor, or any rugs, the bare floorboards being on display. But there were curtains up at the window, closed so that Edwyn was unable to see out of the window, to see just where he was. The fact that the curtains were drawn darkened the room slightly. At least – with his head hurting – Edwyn did not have to endure bright sunlight shining in his face.
Looking down Edwyn saw that his feet were tied, as well. He would not be going anywhere, unless he intended to hop there. Besides, he was probably locked inside this room, wherever it was.
Edwyn Le Fay correctly surmised that he was probably in some house in Blackchapel. But that did not really help him get out of his current problem.
He tried to recall just what had happened. He had been inside that house which was supposed to once have belonged to the great Edward Lang. Yes, that was it. He had been inside the house, and had just come up from the cellar, having done a perfunctory search of the house. Then he had seen somebody coming along the hallway towards him. He had prepared to cast a spell against the man. Then everything had gone dark. Somebody must have hit him over the back of his head.
What had they said? That they were going to sell him to Gideon De Ville, or words to that effect. Edwyn could not recall precisely what had been said, probably as a result of the bang on the head. Yet it was clear that the two men must be working for De Ville, somebody who Le Fay most definitely did not wish to meet again.
Edwyn Le Fay really wished that he had followed Detective Inspector Steel’s advice and stayed away from London. But he had not thought that De Ville would know, so quickly, that he was back. The two blackguards must have been watching his house, and followed him all the way to the wizard’s house in Blackchapel, and then to Edward Lang’s house (if that house had, indeed, belonged to Edward Lang). That was what must have occurred.
Edwyn did not want to have another meeting with Gideon De Ville. He was sure that any such meeting would go badly for him. In fact he was certain that Gideon De Ville would kill him, and probably in some nasty and painful manner. Le Fay had stopped De Ville’s plans to blow up the Trismegistus Club. not only that, but he had led the police to Gideon De Ville’s underground lair, forcing the wizard to flee via Portal Magick, leaving most of his possessions behind. Le Fay was sure that De Ville did not know the meaning of the word forgiveness. Or mercy, for that matter. Which meant that, as nobody knew that he had been kidnapped, Edwyn Le Fay would have to somehow manage to escape.
He wriggled so that he was sitting up on the edge of the bed, his feet on the floor. Even that small amount of movement caused his head to hurt.
Edwyn looked down at his feet. He had been tied around the ankles, with tough, hemp rope. But the knot was at the back. He could not undo the knot tying his hands. But it might be possible to undo the rope around his ankles, by bringing his ankles up to meet his fingers.
That was what he did, albeit with some difficulty, as the knot was quite tight. But he finally managed to free his feet. He could run away, if he could actually get out of the door.
Edwyn lay back down on the bed, as he tried to think what he could do. As he lay there he realised that he was lying on something. There was something long, thin and solid in his coat pocket. For a few seconds Edwyn could not imagine what it might be.
Then he remembered the knife. The two thugs who had kidnapped him had simply tied him up. They had not bothered to search him. He still had that knife which he had got from the person who had tried to waylay him.
With some difficulty Edwyn managed to get the knife out of his coat pocket. He kept thinking that the two men, whoever they were, would come through the door of the room and stop him. But they didn’t. He managed to use the knife to saw through the rope on his wrists. Eventually he was free, the severed rope falling away from his hands.
Edwyn massaged his wrists. He had sensitive skin, and the tough hemp rope had dug into his wrists, making deep indentations. Then he picked up the knife from off the bed, and put it back in his pocket. It was not much of a weapon. But it was better than nothing at all.
Edwyn tried the door. It was locked. But he had not really expected it to be open. He would not be getting out that way. He listened, briefly, at the keyhole, but could not hear anything. Perhaps the men who had knocked him out and kidnapped him were not in the house.
He pulled the curtains open, and looked out onto a collection of back yards. Edwyn Le Fay guessed correctly that he was still in Blackchapel.
Straight below the window the yard was of blue bricks, with nothing at all in the yard. At least they weren’t cobbles. But the bricks of the yard looked awfully hard.
Edwyn tried opening the window. He was a little bit surprised when the bottom of the window slid upwards. He had expected the window to be sealed shut in some manner.
This was his chance to escape. He checked that he had everything first, though. He still had his mythometer, and the keys to his lodgings, and a sachet of coloured sand, as well as the knife which he had picked up. But he did not have his ever-burning taper. He had been holding it when he had been attacked. It must have fallen from his hands when he had been knocked unconscious. It was probably still illuminating the Edward Lang house.
There was nothing which he could do about that at the moment, though. It would have to remain there, which was a shame, as he did not have the money, at the moment, to purchase a new one of those mystical tapers.
He climbed out of the window, and lowered himself so that he hung from the window ledge. It still looked a bit of a drop to Edwyn Le Fay, but not too bad. He let himself drop.
He landed a little awkwardly, falling over. He scrambled back to his feet, expecting to hear some shout from the brigands who had captured him. But nobody shouted out. There was no pursuit.
He did not go towards the front of the house, fearing that he might be seen by his kidnappers. Instead he climbed over a six foot high wall into one of the neighbouring yards. He ran out of the gate from the yard, and then down the passage and out onto the road.
He was in Blackchapel. He recognised the road from when he had been searching for the house of Edward Lang. Edwyn hurried out of the road, as quickly as his ankle let him. He had finally reached the conclusion that Blackchapel was a bad place to be.
Edwyn Le Fay limped along the road. His left ankle hurt, and he feared that he might have sprained it. At the moment he did not know where to go; but he knew where he did not want to be, and that was in Blackchapel.
His stumbling gait took him back in the general direction of his lodgings. But did he want to go back there? Anybody with a current edition of Burke’s Wizardage would only have to turn to the entry for Le Fay, Edwyn, to see exactly where he lived. He could not go home.
He thought about going to the Trismegistus Club. But he could not sleep there. What would he do when that club closed for the night? He did not really have any close friends in London, he realised. There was nobody who he could stay with. Not even McCormack, who was the closest to a friend at the Trismegistus Club, did he know well enough to ask to stay with. Besides, Le Fay had no idea where McCormack lived.
He had no money on him. Had he had some money on his person then he might have bought a train ticket to Wythenstow, and gone and stayed with his father. That did not exactly appeal to him. But it appealed a lot better than having some meeting with Gideon De Ville.
He was not going back to his lodgings to get any money, though; or to get his copy of Burke’s Wizardage to find out where Hamish McCormack lived. He simply could not risk going back there.
He could only think of one thing to do, and that was to go and see the hated Detective Inspector Steel.
Edwyn Le Fay was kept waiting to see Steel, as the detective was out on some trifling murder case. Edwyn explained that it was urgent that he see Steel. But he still had to wait for two hours until the Detective Inspector returned.
“Le Fay? What is it?” Steel asked, when Edwyn finally got to see the officer. “I hope that this is important, as I have a lot of other work at the moment.”
“I thought that you were supposed to be hunting Gideon De Ville.” Le Fay said.
“The trail has gone cold.” Steel said, and yawned, leaning back in his chair. “Is this what this is all about? I thought that you were going to take yourself out of London, anyway. What are you doing back here?”
“What?” Le Fay was confused. He was not sure what to say next. “Yes, it is about that; well, at least partly. I did take myself out of London, and I have spent weeks in Paris, and then Oxford, waiting to read in the newspaper the fact that you had captured Gideon De Ville. I stayed away for as long as I could afford to stay away, but no announcement of his capture ever came.”
“As I have said, the trail has gone cold.” Detective Inspector Steel said. “I can find no trace of De Ville in London; or anywhere in England, for that matter. Wherever he is he is very well hid. Now, if there is nothing else, I have a very awkward murder case to…”
“Yes, there is something else.” Le Fay expostulated. “I have been abducted! I have just escaped from some house in Blackchapel, where I was held by a pair of villains who said that they intended to turn me over to Gideon De Ville!”
Le Fay showed the policeman his wrists, where there were still indentations from where he had been bound by the ropes.
“Where?” Steel said, getting up. “How long ago was this?”
“How long ago? I have been kept waiting for hours to speak to you, concerning this matter!”
“You blasted fool! You should have explained everything to the desk sergeant. This could have been the break which I have been waiting for. Come on, maybe they haven’t discovered that you have escaped yet. We might still get them!”
Steel dragged Le Fay up out of his chair. Steel hurried him into a horse-drawn Black Maria, collecting half a dozen uniforms on the way. The horses were not spared on the way into Blackchapel. But by the time that they got there it was clear that they were too late. The front door was wide open. The birds had flown, on discovering that Edwyn Le Fay was not tied up on the bed upstairs.
“Search the house!” Steel barked. A couple of officers ran inside. “You two – speak to the neighbours, I want to know who lives at the property, and who owns it.”
Two officers went to obey Steel’s commands.
“You two – round the back, in case they’re getting away that way.”
The other two policemen went around the back of the house, leaving Edwyn Le Fay alone with Steel. Edwyn Le Fay did not notice the policeman slip something small and round into the pocket of the wizard’s coat. The motion was so swift and subtle that the wizard missed it.
“Well, it looks like those two have gone.” Steel said. “That’s a shame, as I would dearly have had a word or two with them, to see if they were De Ville’s men or not.”
“If they weren’t working for Gideon De Ville then who were they working for?” Le Fay asked.
“For themselves, more than likely.” Steel said. “They may have heard that De Ville had put a price on your head; or they may have heard of what happened at the Trismegistus Club, and presumed that De Ville would be willing to pay for you. I think the latter is the most likely. Yes, I am certain of it.”
All was not lost, Steel thought, even if the men who had abducted the wizard had fled from the house, on discovering that he had escaped. It proved that Gideon De Ville had put the word about that he was interested in Le Fay, and Steel saw how he could use that to his advantage, to get De Ville once and for all.
“What should I do?” Le Fay asked Steel. He did not like the idea of there being a price on his head.
“How brave do you feel, Le Fay?” Steel asked.
“It is a simple question – how brave do you feel?”
“I do not feel at all brave.”
“That’s a pity, because I can see how you could get yourself free of the threat of De Ville forever.” Steel said. “However, it would take some courage on your part. You see, I have a plan.”
Edwyn was not sure whether he liked Steel’s plans or not. One of Steel’s plans had earned him the enmity of Gideon De Ville in the first place.
“What is this plan?” Le Fay asked.
“That you be captured again.” Steel said. “It is clear that the instructions to the underworld are to capture you alive, rather than to kill you. With that being the case, I can have you watched and, when you are kidnapped again, it will be a simple matter to follow you to wherever Gideon De Ville is hiding out. Then I get De Ville, and you will no longer have to live in fear.”
“No.” Le Fay said.
“No, I will not subject myself to another kidnapping, Inspector Steel. I already have marks on my wrists, and a twisted ankle; and I am not going to risk the possibility that something goes wrong, and that Gideon De Ville will wreak his revenge on me before you rescue me. I will have no part of this, inspector.”
“Then we have nothing more to discuss.” the policeman said. He was clearly disappointed. But Le Fay did not care. He was not going to be used as some sort of decoy in order to catch De Ville. In fact the police could capture De Ville without his help. Wasn’t that what the police were for? “We will return to the police station, where you can make a full statement as to what occurred, concerning your abduction. There is nothing more to be learned here.”
The six uniformed policemen returned to Steel. They had not found anything of interest in the back yard, or inside the house. The neighbours – who were extremely reluctant to speak to policemen – claimed to have no idea as to who owned the house where Le Fay had been kept briefly as a captive. Whether they actually knew who owned it was a different matter, though. It would not be impossible for steel to find out the truth. But it would have saved time if the neighbours had provided Steel with the information.
The Black Maria took eight men, including a rather disappointed detective inspector, back to the police station.
Le Fay was shown the door by Steel, once he had given a very brief statement as to what had happened to him. But if Le Fay thought that Detective Inspector Steel had lost interest in him, then Le Fay was very much mistaken. Steel already had a plan, one which he was about to put into effect, and which would risk the life and livelihood of poor, naïve Edwyn Le Fay.