A ‘penny dreadful’ . . . Part Two

Niccolo sighed and lifted the decanter on my writing table to pour a wine, handing me a goblet and beginning to talk.  At first all I could do was stare at his magnificent profile, the aquiline nose, the hair that he had cut fractionally but which was clean and touched his shoulders. ‘Lucia, I tell you this in the belief it will go no further than these walls and that if it does, I shall have to mesmer you.  Or worse.’

'the aquiline nose . . .'

I know my eyes widened because he shrugged his shoulders and continued.  ‘Aeons ago, when the Other world was predominant in Eirie and mortals were of far less significance than they are now, the Elders created a key that locked the Gate into that Other place, should it ever need to be locked.  Those three Elders also created a charm that activated and de-activated the key and they held both under their care for hundreds of years.  But somehow, some less honourable Other within their House removed it and until this most recent time, none knew where it was.  But there is a rumour that the key is in the form of an amulet and is in the hands of the mortal Dechanel family and that it will come to light at the Ball.  One wonders why that Other should have sequestered it with the Dechanels, passing strange to be sure.  And it gets worse.  All the charms and incantations of protection, including the one that will open the key, are in the Book of Cantrips.’  Once again his palm tapped his chest, the sound a muffled thump in the quiet of my chamber.  ‘If the key and the book are together and whomsoever has them shall decipher their purpose, they will be able to hold the Other world to ransom, quite literally by threatening to keep them locked in, or out, for eternity.  That would be like a universal bane for Others.  Freedom to come and go at will has been at the very core of an Other’s existence.’

The Book of Cantrips

‘But you have the book, Niccolo, and Percy wants it too.  What do you both have to gain?’

‘I must return it to Samuel della Nord, one of the three creators.  He is infirm and is relying on myself .  He will destroy it, thus rendering the key impotent and protecting the Other world’s freedom for eternity.  If I can find the key, then I can return that to Samuel as well.’

‘Why not work with Percy then?  Surely you both have the same purpose.’

Niccolo almost sneered.  ‘Blakeney has no purpose but to hold power of his own.  He and his precious Marguerite have designs on so much more than fashion, Lucia.’

I watched his face close and become cold and wondered how I could tell him that Percy had told me the exact same story, only with de Fleury as the evil one. What was I to do?

Niccolo went on to tell me what Percy had not.  That Samuel, together with another elder called Bacigalupo and the Visconte di Lanuvio, is a mage and alchemist. The three men had created the key and the charms and Niccolo sought to return the goods to them thus keeping the charms safe from the immoral and unseelie of the world.  So he said.

And I believed him.

Believed him even more when he finally held his own goblet in between his knees as he sat on the corner of my bed and said in soft tones, ‘I know Percy you see, Lucia.  I know what he is like.  Do you wonder why?’

I nodded.

‘I know because he is my brother.’

A meeting in the park . . . –>