Wednesday December 7th, 2016

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: cloak and dagger.

Day one of four at the bakery this week done. Was basically sold out of bread by one, but kept the shop open until shortly after two in an attempt to sell cinnamon buns and other things. Managed to only have 4 buns left at closing, and no loaves, croissants, focaccia, baguettes, or ciabatta.

Will likely be quieter tomorrow, but we shall see.


The letter had been unsigned. Nothing odd there - that was typically the case, in matters such as this. I always found it rather aggravating though. Was it legitimate or just another trap? How could I be sure it was even meant for me?

That's why I never followed the directions in those letters too closely. I preferred to find a vantage point that allowed me to see the indicated meeting place and its surrounding area. Look out for familiar faces - both friendly and otherwise. Make certain that not only were the directions meant for me, but that it was safe to approach.

That's what I'm doing now, sitting here in this sidewalk cafe with a coffee on the table in front of me and an open newspaper hiding me from view. The meet is supposed to be at the base of the statue looming over the middle of the square. There's enough tourists around that I could easily get closer, but that's not my style. The deeper into a mess you get, the harder it is to extract your-

"Excuse me," my waiter says, his hands clasped in front of him. "There's a call for you, Mr. Nicholas."

"I see." This is an interesting development. "Well then, lead the way."

He turns sharply on his heel and takes me on a winding route between the crowded tables and chairs and into the interior of the cafe. I turn to the left to go to the maitre d's station, but he turns right.

"This way please, Mr. Nicholas."

"Sorry, I thought I saw a phone over there when I arrived."

"Oh, you did," he says as he turns away. "Your call will be taken in the manager's office in the back."

Hmm. Another interesting development.


Greg said...

Glad you liked the haiku yesterday, and I thought you'd leave comments open on the House of Mercy for a while longer before replying :) I hope I didn't go too unsubtle on what you so nicely set up!
Bakery sounds good, and if you're finishing slightly early that'll help with the convalescence too :)
I like how this starts: the matter-of-factness, the care that's taken to avoid danger on the rendezvous and know what's been gotten into, and I like how it seems that this has all been anticipated as well. There's a sense of two great intellects playing a complex game with each other here, and I'm fascinated as to what's going to happen.

Cloak and dagger
"What was the treasure?" said Ernest. He was staring into the fireplace, thinking.
"I never saw it," said Jane. "I wasn't part of the exercise. I'd conducted the blessings before the exercise and was watching the preparations for it before I returned inside. It was a Wednesday so I conduct a small mass at noon, though they are usually poorly attended. Soldiers, in my experience, are not particularly devout."
"Until they're on the battlefield," said Ernest. "Have you come across the saying that there are no atheists in foxholes?"
"Of course." Jane's gaze was steady and withering, though Ernest seemed unaffected by it. "I have been a battle-priest for seven years now."
"Was the treasure ever located?"
Jane stayed silent, and finally Ignatz spoke up. His glance at Jane was fllled with worry. "No, my Lord," he said. "Lord Campion's death confused matters somewhat, and no-one has given any orders to attempt to find it. There is also a problem there... there's some confusion over what the treasure was, so it seems entirely uncertain that anyone would know what they are looking for."
Jane laid her hands palms upwards on her knees and her face creased into lines of concentration. Lord Derby leaned forward, his face attentive to what he recognised as a use of the Will. Jane's lips moved soundlessly, and after several seconds stopped. There was a sense of presence in the room, a feeling that something or someone was listening so hard it was like an interrogation, and then a beam of white light dropped from the ceiling. It enveloped Jane like a downy cloak, and she appeared to sat in a spotlight from Heaven.
"Lieutenant Cosgrave said that he took a small statuette from Lord Campion's desk," said Jane. The voice speaking through her lips was not her own: it sounded masculine and was slightly hoarse. There was a sudden smell of sweat, wet leather, and weapon-grade oil in the room. "Aelfric Banham was the Chase lead and he said that he was given a fist-sized stone with a rune carved into it and inset with gold. Lorten Mazefield was generally agreed to be the last man holding it and he said it was a pewter pot with the crest of the Campion family on the side."
The light went out as suddenly as it had started and Jane slumped. Her body shifted, pulling her centre of gravity sideways and she tilted, falling from the chair. Ignatz stood up so quickly that Ernest jumped in surprise, but his quick movements enabled him to catch Jane as she fell, and he lowered her gently to the floor. Then he frowned, poked at the carpet with a finger, and knelt to pick Jane up and lay her carefully on the table.
"Soaked," he said, pointing at the carpet. "And there's an odd smell to it too."
He left the room to fetch help for Jane, and Ernest poked and sniffed at the carpet too. When Ignatz returned there were two young men in similar dress to Jane's behind him, and they carried her out. Ernest watched, and then indicated the carpet: "blood," he said. "Blood, sweat, perhaps rainwater. An indication of a Presence, I should say."
"Indeed," said Ignatz.

Greg said...

"What was she saying when she invoked the Presence? I tried to read her lips, but I don't think she was using a language I'm familiar with."
"That's one of the mysteries," said Ignatz. He smiled at Ernest's reaction. "Perhaps I should say Mysteries with a capital M, my Lord, to avoid it sounding all too cloak-and-dagger. The Mysteries are those parts of faith that the uninitiated can't understand. No," he held a hand up quickly, "it's not that we think you're not clever enough, or that you will jump to conclusions instead of studying the facts. You Sir, are someone of whom that is surely never true, after all. But each initiation ceremony shows you an aspect of the Deity you are communing with in a way that is unique to both you and your Deity. It's... how do I put this? It's your perception of what they reveal to you. Ah! Let me try this:
"You have a good friend in Dr. Suture. He behaves a certain way around you, but when he's around Magdalena Doul, for example, he behaves differently. You are not there to perceive it, and when you are both in his presence he behaves in yet a third way. He might, for example, be more tolerant around you of things and people he dislikes, simply because he knows you don't share his views. But if she dislikes one or more of them as well, then they might have conversations together that they are comfortable with but that would horrify you. This then, constitutes the Mysteries of Dr. Suture, and you see one aspect of him that perhaps none of the rest of us do. This is analogous, though far less profound, to the Mysteries of faith. The words that Jane used will be private between her and her Deity, and she may well have been speaking in English but you would not perceive that because you are not part of those Mysteries."
Ernest nodded. "I understand," he said. "I need time to think about this though, if you don't mind? I think you've a lot in a very few words, and I'd like to contemplate that, and maybe ask you more about it later."
Ignatz smiled. "It's refreshing to hear that. So many people tell me that that's obvious and walk away oblivious to their own ignorance. Not that you're ignorant, my Lord!"
Ernest laughed. "Nor are you, my friend, and please, call me Ernest. I honestly detest being called 'My Lord' by anybody. This has been useful, though I have more questions for when Ms. Melody is feeling better."
"Please allow her to rest," said Ignatz quickly. "I think she believes she did the right thing, but she was in a delicate state, and invoking a Presence takes a toll." He looked down at the carpet. "I do hope this divinely clears itself up," he said.
Ernest laughed. "I'm sure you can persuade it to," he said.

Marc said...

Greg - too unsubtle? I think you took it pretty much exactly the way I hoped you would. I'm just glad I wasn't *too* subtle with mine :)

Thanks for the kind words on mine.

Another fascinating continuation. The web grows more intricate as the story moves forward. I am, you will not be surprised to learn, utterly hooked.