Tuesday, July 9, 2013


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Chapter Fifteen (part one)

"Yes," Mrs. Northe agreed to my prompt. "Yes, we do need to think about those numbers. About any and all connections we can draw. Let's apply our thoughts to the paperwork I've managed to get hold of in the past few days."


She smiled craftily, rising from my bedside and going toward the door. "It's good to know people in clerks' offices. For the devil is often in the details, my dear." She disappeared into another upstairs room and returned a few moments later with a few brown folders with papers inside.

"It would seem," she began, taking a seat beside me once more, "the Master's Society has been making major investments in New York City, by all kinds of means. Some over-handed, most under." She held up a stack of deeds, receipts, and a ledger. The top papers were stamped with the distinct gold and red dragon-flanked crest. "These transfers of assets, and general encroachment, have been happening within the past few years. A great deal of the property is centered around Grand Central depot. If you recall, that poor madman Crenfall was on about the 'grand and the central.' When Lord Denbury and I were out examining various suspected Master's Society properties before he disappeared, we concluded there must be a hub of something that will either be built or will occur around that area."

"I hope it's enough to take to authorities to examine? What can people like us do about mere property? Will anyone believe the underhanded aims of the Society enough to, what, what would we even suggest, raid these premises?"

"I'm not sure if the truth of the Society will be believed, if my dealings with the New York City Police Department are any indication. They don't take kindly to the idea of the paranormal. Well, they're not particularly hostile, they just don't believe—"

"At their own risk," I grumbled, and Mrs. Northe scowled.

"Well, yes, but you tell that to the sergeant who still has your diary in custody."

I felt my face go hot again. I'd truly like to get that back… There were so many personal details that just should not be public record…

"I've been discussing all this with Lavinia, to see if she has any insights," Mrs. Northe mused, gazing out the small window that presented a tiny sliver of a courtyard between her property and the townhouse beside. "Somewhere, between all of us, we'll figure out the chink in the demonic armor. She needs to feel empowered by what has happened around her, and not a victim. What happened here in my house, with all of the Association present, to that poor fellow George, and then to you, it dealt Miss Kent a bit of a regressive blow. 'She's not been seen out of her room much. I think she still feels this is somehow all her fault."

I sighed angrily, trying to move. "It isn't, none of this is anyone's fault but the fault of evil—"

"She'll appreciate hearing those reassurances from you, and I encourage you to tell her that."

"I don't suppose you'd like to let me up?" I said, shaking at my bindings.

"Ah." Mrs. Northe flushed, embarrassed. "Yes. I'm sorry. You do seem to be behaving yourself, so I suppose it's time…"

I looked up at her, trying to honestly remember the extent of the madness I'd glimpsed, those indistinct hours that were taken from me. It was all so hazy. But I'd never forget feeling so horribly compromised. Having a distant sense of faculty and having control taken away from you was, as Lavinia had said, the most horrible cruelty. "Was I really that awful?"

"I'm sure you could have been worse, the effects could have been worse. You could be like that poor George and still be comatose." Mrs. Northe sat upon the edge of the bed, leaning over to undo the bindings upon my wrists.

As I turned them and winced, rolling them in an aching stretch once released, Mrs. Northe picked up a minty salve from the bedside table, gently rubbing and treating the raw skin, mothering me as she continued. "The toxin is not to be trusted nor believed. Turns lambs into lions. Thank goodness it managed to stay contained within my house and we cleaned up the residue without much damage, else I'd not have had a house left."

Mrs. Northe helped me up to a seated position against the headboard, and I groaned, all my muscles aching and on fire from the lying down without being able to turn and all the struggling I must have done. The way she tended to me, I lost all the resentment about being bound up; she'd done it for my safety and for that of everyone around me. She had such a maternal way about her, and part of me wanted to ask about children, what she really thought about not having any, even though she sort of had surrogates in me, in Miss Kent, in Maggie...

Maggie... I hadn't told Mrs. Northe about the letter. There wasn't anything in it that was particularly private or damning; it was mostly just Maggie being her usual self, but it was worth mentioning the fact that I read her as still hovering on the edge of vulnerability and needing all the prayers and support she could get. She was precarious, and while I felt I should write back, I wasn't entirely sure what I should say. I was precarious too. Hardly confident. False reassurances from my sickbed would be of no use, the ailing counseling the ailing...

"What is it now?" Mrs. Northe asked, looking at my expression, which must have been telling. That, or her extraordinary depths of perception would have allowed her to feel the shift within me as much as see it.

"In all the madness," I began with a sigh, "I forgot to tell you a letter arrived from Maggie. While you're looking at paperwork, you might as well read it. I would like to know if you think, as I do, that she still has a ways to go until we would call her recovered... The letter is on your writing desk in the parlor if you'd like to take a look."

Mrs. Northe nodded. "I will." She exited to collect it and any other extraneous evidence.

The desire I had to help Maggie, wayward as she'd been, was nothing compared to the wave of panic that again crested inside me when I thought about Jonathon, out there on his own.

Mrs. Northe would not let me go anywhere, without a fight. My father… Well, of course in his mind anything remotely questionable, much less outright dangerous, wasn't an option. But I would go one way or another. Better to ask forgiveness later than permission now, especially when I knew the answer would be a resounding no... The hesitant forgiveness given from others would be nothing compared to the lack of any I'd ever give myself if I lost Jonathon. If the worst came to pass and I didn't try to find him… I was not worthy of the divine intervention I had earned thus far.

Not to say I was infallible, invincible, immortal. I was, most certainly, mortal. And here I was, ready to tempt every fate I'd yet encountered. How reckless. How necessary.

I simply had to go... It was inevitable, truly, and I'd learned that there was a certain magnetism to inevitable things. Once I knew something had to be done, it simply had to be so.

Whenever I could be assured that the sequence Jonathon warned me about would lead to one mystery solved, he himself would be my next case. I just had to figure out how a young woman traveled across the Atlantic unaccompanied... I'd have to put on the suit again, pretend. And I'd also have to steal some money... I wondered how much a steamer ticket to England would cost me...

Lavinia Kent interrupted my musing machinations with a desperate cry, wild-haired and wide-eyed at the door.

"Nathaniel's gone! Utterly gone! It isn't one of his tricks, he has vanished."

(End of Chapter 15.1 -- Copyright 2013 Leanna Renee Hieber, The Magic Most Foul saga - If you like what you see, please share this link with friends! Tweet it, FB, + it! The Magic Most Foul team really hopes the audience will continue to grow and it can only do so with YOUR help! If you haven't already, do pick up a copy of Magic Most Foul books 1 and 2: Darker Still and the sequel: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart and/or donate to the cause! Donations directly support the editorial staff.

Cheers! Happy haunting! See you next Tuesday!)

1 comment:

houndstooth said...

Hmmm... Something tells me Miss Natalie might find someone to travel with her after all...