This is part of an ongoing series of stories. It is strongly suggested that you read them 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 Other Lair Of Gideon De Ville
The Human Infernal Device
The Human Infernal Device
Edwyn Le Fay’s stomach lurched once more. He really did not like travelling by Portal Magick, he had decided. It was one area of Magick which he would not bother delving into. He managed not to be ill, though. He noticed that Gideon De Ville did not seem to be bothered by this form of transport.
Le Fay glanced around, but he did not know where they had appeared. It had to be some park, as he was surrounded by trees. Apart from De Ville he could not see another human being. Nobody had seen them materialise out of thin air. Nobody would report back what they had seen. That had been Edwyn’s one hope, that they would see him and De Ville appear, and decide to report such a strange occurrence to the police.
“I would have you attempt to steal the dynamite, but, knowing how incompetent you are, Le Fay, you would probably get caught. You will have to purchase it, which will not be easy, considering the Explosives Act of 1875. But not every dealer is honest. He is a list of places which have dynamite. I suggest that you try one of them until you discover somebody willing to ignore such petty laws.”
De Ville handed over the list to Le Fay. It was quite extensive. Le Fay reckoned that De Ville must have compiled the list when he had been planning to blow up the Trismegistus Club by placing dynamite in the sewers. On that occasion Julius the gorilla had stolen the dynamite for De Ville. Yes, because according to De Ville, explosives could not safely be transported by Portal Magick. De Ville could not simply have gone in and stolen the explosives, and then used his Magick to get out of there. Le Fay wondered just how De Ville had discovered that you couldn’t take explosives through Magickal portals.
“You know what you have to do. The geas will prevent you from turning away from your task. Here is some money for transport.” De Ville handed over some loose change. “Here is some money for the explosives.” De Ville handed over six pounds, in crisp pound notes. That was a lot of money. But what was money to somebody who could transport himself into a bank’s innermost vault? It had no meaning to somebody like Gideon De Ville. All that he cared about was his plans for vengeance.
“Goodbye, foolish young wizard.” Gideon De Ville sneered. “I will not see you again. But I look forward to reading about the destruction of the Trismegistus Club in tomorrow’s newspapers.”
With that, Gideon De Ville cast yet another Portal Magick spell, and disappeared into thin air, leaving behind just the faintest whiff of ozone.
As soon as Gideon De Ville was gone Edwyn Le Fay tried to run away, having no interest in blowing up either himself or the Trismegistus Club. But as soon as he took a step in a path which he hoped was away from his death Le Fay felt such crippling pain as he had never felt before. It was enough to knock him down to the ground. The pain only passed when he stopped resisting.
He was under a geas, alright, and a very powerful one. If you resisted a geas you could become ill, depending how powerful the spell was. Le Fay thought that the spell must be one of the most powerful. That pain… could you be killed by pain alone? Le Fay did not know. But he would do anything to avoid feeling such crippling pain again.
He staggered out of the trees, to see a road in the distance. Edwyn walked down to the road. He still felt shaken, but he knew that he would have to follow the geas.
He saw an old woman walking down the road. There were only a few houses in the area, and he had no idea where he was.
“Excuse me, but could you tell me where I am?” Edwyn Le Fay asked.
The old woman stopped and stared, as though the Le Fay was some sort of madman.
“You’re in Elmstead.” she said, and hobbled off down the road, shaking her head, wondering what the younger generation was coming to. Honestly, not even knowing where they were! He was probably out of his head on a seven percent solution.
Edwyn stared back at the trees where he had appeared. Le Fay had only heard of Elmstead because there was supposed to be a powerful Magickal node under the ground in Elmstead Wood. Le Fay wondered, briefly, if that was where De Ville had had them appear.
If not for the fact that Le Fay had heard of the node he would have been totally lost. But he knew that he was to the south-east of London. He had to get into London, to those addresses of places where he might get dynamite, or suffer that pain again. Anything was better than the pain. At least if he blew himself up it would all be over in an instant.
Edwyn Le Fay saw a puff of smoke in the distance. A train – he was not far from a train station. He ran down the road to the station, to miss the train whose smoke he had glimpsed. But that had been going in the wring direction, anyway.
A quarter of an hour later Edwyn Le Fay was on his way north-west, towards where the geas was compelling him to go.
The first of the addresses on the paper was no far from Greenwitch. Le Fay got off the train at New Cross and took a hansom cab to Greenwitch, named after – according to legend – a horrible hag who had once lived there.
He felt almost as though he was sleepwalking. He could almost have closed his eyes and let the mystical urges of the geas take over, and propel him forwards.
Edwyn Le Fay was lucky – or perhaps very unlucky – at the first establishment that he went to. He put the six ponds down on the counter, and asked for as much dynamite as he could have.
“What do you want it for?”
“I am part of a mining corporation. We need it to build a road through the Cairngorms.” The words just came to Le Fay. He was not naturally a good liar. But it seemed that the man believed him, because he suddenly had twenty sticks of dynamite in front of him. Edwyn Le Fay took the explosives and left; twenty sticks wrapped up in brown paper.
Edwyn Le Fay went and bought some thick twine. He went into the toilets of Greenwitch railway station, and tied the twenty sticks around his waist. It made it look as though he had put on weight, hidden underneath his overcoat. He was sure that somebody would guess what he was doing, and they would try to stop him. Then the pain would overwhelm him and it would never stop, until he went insane or until it killed him.
Edwyn Le Fay was shaking when he left Greenwitch railway station. It was fear. But he was not sure whether it was fear of discovery and being stopped, or fear of blowing himself up once he got to the Trismegistus Club in the West End. It would not be long now, if nobody stopped him.
He wondered what his father would say, when he learned that his only son had been blown up inside the Trismegistus Club. Le Fay knew that his father was not a well man. The shock might kill him.
They would label him an anarchist in the newspapers, just like those ones from Walsall who had been found guilty of making infernal devices. He would forever be associated with villains like that, and there would be no way in which he would be able to clear his name.
A hansom cab approached as Le Fay walked down the street. Le Fay hailed it, without even thinking about it.
“The Trismegistus Club, please.” The hansom cab started off, the horse trotting along.
Perhaps there would not be enough of his body left to identify him. That was the best that he could hope for. If everybody who saw him at the Trismegistus Club were killed by the explosion then nobody would know that it was him. But what about the doorman? The doorman would see him go into the club. Would the doorman know that it was he who was responsible for the explosion? Le Fay doubted if the explosion would reach all of the way down to the doors at the front.
Besides, he had nothing against the doormen. One of them – Fred – was probably as close to a friend as Le Fay had in the world. Le Fay did not want to blow up Fred. He hoped that Fred was not on duty at the moment, but that it was one of the other two doormen. He did not really wish them to get killed either, though. Right at that moment in time Le Fay did not want anybody to get killed, other than the odious Gideon De Ville.
Le Fay got out of the cab and paid the driver. He walked up to the doors of the club. Fred opened the doors for him. So it was Fred, after all.
“Good evening, Mr Le Fay.” Fred said. Was it evening? Le Fay supposed that it must be. It was turning into a very long day. But soon it would be brought to an abrupt halt, the last day of his life.
Le Fay tried to tell Fred to get out of there.
“Good evening, Fred.”
“Are you alright, Mr Le Fay? You do look awfully pale.”
Le Fay tried to tell Fred that he had twenty sticks of dynamite strapped around his waist and chest, under his thick overcoat.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
Le Fay pushed past Fred, and into the Trismegistus Club. He walked down the tiled foyer, and then up the curving double stairs, up into the main body of the club.
Nobody stopped him, or asked what was under his coat, as he walked into the centre of the club. But that was not unusual, as this was a gentleman’s club, after all. The members rarely talked to each other. They got on with being wrapped up in their own thoughts, or smoking cigars, or drinking sherry, or bemoaning the cricket scores printed in some sports paper. Despite every member being a wizard, they rarely talked about Magick.
Edwyn Le Fay still had not spoken to every member of the club. He still did not know all of their names. But he knew Hamish McCormack and Arthur Mickelson and Gerontius Mordaunt and George Carweather and a few others. Not one of them looked up and stared at Le Fay as he stood with his overcoat on in the centre of the room. Not one of them asked Le Fay what he was doing.
All that it would take was a Word of Command to ignite the dynamite. Edwyn Le Fay knew the word. It was on the tip of his tongue. The geas was commanding him to say it, to do something which would blow him to smithereens. And then he and all of the other wizards would be dead.
Edwyn opened his mouth and spoke.
“No.” He wanted to live; and his desire for life was stronger than the geas on him.
Suddenly the spell was broken. Edwyn Le Fay was free. Gideon De Ville had been wrong, and the geas had not been powerful enough to get Le Fay to kill himself. The teachers at High Tor, who had said that geases could not be used to command people to directly kill themselves, no matter how powerful they were, had been right after all.
At High Tor Edwyn Le Fay had had the bumbling old Professor Tomlinson for geases and mystical oaths. Le Fay had always thought that Tomlinson was a fool who didn’t know anything at all (which probably explained why Le Fay had not done that well in his class). But now Edwyn Le Fay had a newfound respect for the old duffer.
Le Fay ran out of the Trismegistus Club, pushing past a surprised Fred. Le Fay had to get out of there before they discovered that he had twenty sticks of dynamite strapped to him under his coat.
He ran out onto the streets of London with not a thought in his head other than he was still alive and he wanted to stay that way.