Mermaid, Chapter 26, Part 4 and end

The Director has a bad day and Ghost has a surprise come off the boat.

The Director.

Friday, 1/29, 1932.

I awoke with a large feeling of foreboding. I had the senses that my efforts were being sacrificed for some other purpose. Certainly the Colonel did not seem concerned about the fate of the Academy. After washing up for the morning where the Chemist, the Necromancer and some others were talking with the Colonel. He saw me and said, “Director, sit. We were discussing our plans.”

“For what? Tom and the rest know that you are here. If they didn’t before, they know now. The fact that you asked for Bradley’s diary was more than likely a trigger. If Tom didn’t have everything that everybody else has on you before, he almost certainly will by the time the meeting happens.”

“How will that change anything?”

“That depends on what you want from him. And what he wants from you. Are you going to turn the ladies over tonight?”

I think not. It’s likely that I will need further negotiations.”

 

“Are you prepared to deal with the consequences of that?”

“I think so. The immediate consequences should not be unsurmountable. After my mission is complete, we can expect that we will have some victories.” “What can you tell me about your mission? You have never said what it was.”

“I am collecting.” “Collecting what?”

“Unbound fae. Fae that are not directly part of a community and a keystone. I am to persuade them return to Europe and settle with my associates.”

“Why?”

“We lost the Talents they represent, specifically the various Creators and their relatives. They wouldn’t listen to reason and fought. So we lost too many, one by one. We didn’t realize the full scope of the disaster until it was too late during the war.”

“So you are going to go after Creators like the Kūrėjas here. Hw do you plan to persuade them to go with you?”

“By not giving them a choice. I’ve done things like this before and it has worked out. I have the Chemist to prepare and troops. We are procuring vehicles and I have rented a ship. The ship arrives at Boston on Monday.”

“That was foolish.”

“Why?”

“You have kidnapped the daughter of the one man that nobody in Boston will want to make more unhappy than he already is. The man with more influence both legal or illegal in the region than anybody else. The same woman who is the granddaughter of another man that I made the mistake of waking up after working very hard to ensure that he did not interfere with my activities.”

“The old man has never fought a war.”

“Did you not do any homework before you came over? The old man has been a part of the the war that shaped this country and at least one war against dark fae that I know of. I did some investigating when the Masters wanted me to go after the bowers and other fae communities. My office is also near Wall St. and if the man even blinks, the Street has jitters. I wasn’t even paying attention and when you took the ladies, the Street went crazy trying to sell off Japanese securities until it was apparent that the old man was working with the prince to obtain the ladies release. I was hoping that at least some of what I had been doing would not attract the attention of the old man, but the Board, and you did not leave me any options.”

“There are more important things at stake. Your efforts were actually damaging the Masters and what they need. I would have shut them down in any case. So the sacrifice is small and we can afford the loss of your operations. The only thing now is to go forward.”

“What are your plans?”

“I will show you some of them. The crucial thing to know is that the other Masters are in a bad situation right now and we must assist them. I have other reasons for being here. But those are personal.

The young ladies seemed to know quite a bit about the operations here, even before they arrived. Who could have told them?”

“Edward said that Mr. Martin fights his compulsions and may do things in such a way that he reveals things that we may not want known. Of course Edward hides things as well. I haven’t wanted to pry too deeply and risk the monster.”

“Who is Edward’s heir?”

“I do not know. It doesn’t seem to be any of his other brothers or he would probably have had to kill them to prevent revealing certain things. I don’t think that he has any children and they would be too young at this point to take up the mantle anyway if Ed were to die.”

“Have their been any high level bondings here recently. I would suspect that Mr. Martin’s keystone would call in a defender.”

“There has been actually. Ed niece Elizabeth and Scott from the Bentons. They made a rather public spectacle of themselves at the Christmas parade this year.” “Tom’s nephew? That would explain some things. Do you think that Edward is talking with Tom?”

“I don’t know. We have been trying to keep them apart and Tom is very senseitive to werewolves as a result of his brother. On the other hand, Edward did go across the lake and they haven’t tried to hunt him since then. They did meet once, when Ed went into Tom’s office.”

“Why did he go across the lake?”

“He hasn’t told me. It may have have had something to do with Chrissie’s big party. The guest list was in the material I gave you.”

Mr. Martin walked in and the Colonel and I went with him to inspect the meeting place. The site was a small cleaing near the cliffs where the road was close to the cliffs. The railroad passed along the cliffs and the lake below us. As we looked around, the Colonel said, “Interesting location. There are no long overlooks that are not covered in trees. So he isn’t planning to use men with rifles. He doesn’t seem to be here now making any preparations and there isn’t anybody watching the road. So he has something else in mind. Let us go and have lunch. Mr. Martin I presume that you know a place that may be discreet.”

We went to the place that Mr. Martin suggested and then back to the Academy. Mr. Martin left and I peeked in on the ladies, who were sitting at a table that somebody had set up with some of the residents and staff. I didn’t say anything and returned to the dining room. The Colonel was with the Necromancer and said, “Good, you are here. We can make plans. It’s fairly simple really. Why don’t you and I take a look at a place and then meet with the Necromancer while I pick something up. You can drive,I presume?”

“Yes.”

“Good, we will use one of the cars from here.”

We got in the car and I drove where he told me. After about half an hour, we arrived at what appeared to be a small village surrounding a large house and a building with a water wheel several sheds attached. The whole place looked to be humming with activity as we watched and then the Colonel said, “Let us go. We don’t want to attract attention. Drive to a house about a mile furher up the road.”

I drove up to the house that he pointed out, which was rather busy for a summer house on a lake. “Where did you find this house?”

“Mr. Martin provided it. The location is perfect for staging our activities.”

We went inside and there was another Colonel waiting for us. The Colonel smiled and said, “Excellent! The Puppet is ready. I was a bit concerned about that. Has Tom encountered a Puppet before?”

“As far as I know, the Manager never had the capability to create one and the first constructs that Tom had seen were on the island where he and Chrissie bonded. So I doubt that he’s encountered one.”

“Good, then this will be a surprise and I can take advantage of that. Let me practice with it.” He had that disconnected look as the Puppet walked around, moved it’s arms, the Colonel spoke to us through the Puppet and sparred a bit with the sergeant to make sure that he had a good sense of control. When he was done he said, “This should work excellently. Things are going well.”

“Do you expect Tom to die?”

“Probably not. We will have to make sure that the zombies are shielded very tightly so that he doesn’t pick up on them. But ten or so zombies will not be enough to kill a royal fae and Tom is very good with guns and will almost certainly be carrying at least a pistol. Tom, as a royal fae, will be immune to zombie bites and the Necromancer could probably not Turn him.” “That had been tried, even before Tom had been Bonded. We lost a Necromancer to that.” “What happened?”

“I am not sure, as the Manager did not have an observer and the indentured that he sent down was not able to get a detailed account. The bureau was on the scene as well and the prince and his bodyguards were there, so somebody probably shot the Necromancer.”

“So Tom is sensitive to zombies.” “As well as everything else at this point. If you were really trying to kill him, I would hire some criminal types who are not fae to do that. Unfortunately the word has almost certainly gone out about Tom being married to the Peacekeeper’s daughter and no sane person would take a contract on Tom or the rest of his family. An insane person might go after Tom, but the you would have to coerce them and Tom would pick up on that. In any case, Tom would not be an easy target and hasn’t been for some time.

Since you are prepared to discard my operations the considerations about what Tom has prepared to happen in the event of his death are no longer relevant as far as I am concerned. The Masters may have other issues , but you would know more about than I would.”

“That will be your task. That is if Tom is killed. At this point, it will probably be either him or me. I doubt that the fact that material about me was missing from the material means that he doesn’t have any. I would really like to know what Bradley said to him and what the consequences were.” “Edward and I had a discussion about that. He actually went into Tom’s office to discover if Tom was on the path of sacrifice. He is, and Edward and I are not the targets as we are both still alive and we have both been in Tom’s presence recently, Ed deliberately and me, as a result of a meeting with my source and Tom being in the room. I will also add that Tom only went after the Manager directly when the Manager took the boy and wanted to use Hilda to create werewolves.”

“So Tom’s path of sacrifice involves werewolves, Bradley and the war? More than likely that leads directly to me. That will be problematic. This was not unanticipated though and we must go forward with the mission regardless. We will meet and attempt to obtain the diary.”

The Necromancer arrived with a truck loaded with zombies that had been a crew of contractors. We followed behind the truck to the meeting place and the Necromancer placed the zombies within a powerful shield that that Colonel set up. Then we drove the truck and car away and waited for the designated hour. When the time came we cdrove back in the car and the Colonel Puppet went to the meeting place while the rest of us waited in the car. I could hear a train moving South along the railroad on the base of the cliff and suddenly the Colonel said, “Release the Zombies!”

The Colonel Puppet returned as something seemed to be happening at the meeting the place and as the Colonel maneuvered the Puppet into the car he said, “We must depart, quickly.”

I could hear police sirens and cars approaching and guns going off, so I pulled the car out onto the road and drove quickly away down the road. As we were driving, I turned to the Colonel and asked, “What happened?”

“I’m not sure. We were having a discussion and werewolves showed up. Werewolves that were not mine. Then somebody caused the cliff to collapse underneath Tom. The diary and the rest are at the bottom of the cliif and Tom may be as well.”

“Why did you bring the Puppet back?”

“I have another task for it and there is one person who will know if Tom is actually dead. Her response will tell us many things. Proceed back to the Academy.”

We drove back to the Academy and the Colonel and I went in the back with the Puppet. As we walked into the building, the Colonle said, “Go with the Puppet to the pool. Let us see if she knows that something happened to Tom.”

I walked with the Puppet to the pool and was shortly thereafter dealing with an enraged mermaid and the Colonel through the Puppet telling said mermaid that he had not been responsible for her bonded’s death. How much she believed that was problematical as she used a circular saw blade to nearly remove the Puppet’s head. I was unscathed in spite of blows with water magic that could have killed me easily had she actually wanted me dead. After a brief discussion, I left. I did know one thing, the lady was formidable opponent and I was fairly sure that she was convinced that Tom was dead and that the people responsible were going to have a very rough time shortly.

After I left the pool, I returned to the Colonel. As I walked in, he looked at me curiously. “How did she kill the Puppet? It suddenly cut off even though there was no water.”

“She had had a saw blade suspended right over the door. The blade came around and buried itself in the Puppet’s neck. She said that if you want to talk with her, you must come yourself and take the risk.”

“You seem to have emerged unscathed in spite of all the water she was throwing around.”

“I didn’t kill her husband and I could tell her what happened. So she didn’t want me dead. You, on the other hand will have to live with your reputation, or die by it. I don’t think that you convinced her.”

“I didn’t kill her husband. Nothing that I did would probably have killed her husband.” “You were there and they were supposed to be released.I would suggest that relasing the ladies now would be the smart thing to do.”

“I may need them to make a deal for the diary. It is opened by Tom, but not unlocked and apparently Bradley’s son is the only one who can unlock it. A son who has bonded with a young mermaid who dragged him under.” “I think that I can guess which mermaid it is. The princess of the Sound bower had the habit of spending quite a bit of time up top and probably involved herself in the boy’s release.”

“Where are her parents?”

“Her mother lives in the bower and her father is dead. He was killed in the war, by werewolves.”

“Then he was probably sensed by me or my son and my son led a raid to Take him and when they discovered that he had bonded already were forced to kill him. We had more than one case like that. Did you arrange to send him over like you did Bradley, Edward and the others?”

“He was in the navy already. He ened up being an observation officer with those railroad guns the navy built from spare battleship guns. There were several high fae officers that a personnel sergeant that I had arranged to be compelled, sent to positions like that. Bengamin was the only one that was attacked by your people though.”

“The only attack that succeeded, such as it was. There were others. Tell me more about the young lady.”

“There isn’t much to tell except that she is very popular along the Gold Coast. She has a babysitting service and probably knows everybody on the coast according to my contact before it was cutoff.”

“A mermaid with a babysitting service? She must have a tail or you wouldn’t be talking the way you are.” “Apparently. She started poking around houses looking for people who knew her father and for the last two years is welcome at almost all of them. A fair amount of the people living there are fae and the rest like a little weird and strange.”

“So she has a lot of influential friends.”

“A lot of fae do, which as you can imagine had an impact on my operations. Things are not as clearly bound as they were over in Europe. You should keep that in mind. For instance immigration and shipping people in Boston. To say nothing of the dockworkers. Bringing a ship into Boston has its perils. The same for any of the East Coast ports. You may be able to take the people, but getting them out under the old man’s nose will be problematical.”

“I think that having to deal with a distraught young lady will be enough of a distraction. If it isn’t I will have others.”

“I hope so, but are you ready for what the old man might come up with?”

“So far, he seemingly hasn’t done much of anything. He goes to the office every morning and leaves at night. I have somebody watching the office and the office is just handling the Games related business. Other than that, he hasn’t seemed to be doing very much. We even tapped the phones.”

“Tom knew about your taps over at the farm didn’t he? We can take it for granted that the old man knew that the phones were not secure. Have you read his book?”

“He has a book?”

“Yes. The servant that the Manager used had a copy and it was very informative. One thing I do know is that he probably knows more about what you are doing than anybody else. Do not consider your mission complete until you reach home, wherever that is.”

The fact that Noro was seemingly not doing anything meant that whatever he was going to do, it was already in motion. Now that Tom was apparently out of the picture, we would have to be wary. On the other hand, Tom was good at playing games and the Academy was a revolving door, apparently, with all of Chrissie’s friends and relatives visiting. So Tom may not have be as out of the picture as Chrissie would have us believe.

Ghost

Friday, 1/29, 1932.

When the telegram had come back from the Colonel’s wife last week, I had been surprised. She was coming to deliver her information on the Colonel, herself. As I drove down to the French Line pier to pick her up I wondered why she had come herself. But then she hadn’t seen her daughter for eleveln years or so and maybe she wanted to see her grandchildren.

I had made arrangements with Noro loan her his suite at the Waldorf for a week or so as Noro was up in Vermont for as long as it took to release Chrissie and the others. I was more than a little afraid, but from what Greta had said when I called yesterday, the girls were fine and being watched. Only the fact that Tom and the rest had been planning to deal with the Academy anyway and it didn’t seem like the ladies were being mistreated or hurt kept Eli and I from charging up there. We had been following up on the Colonel, but Greta had said that Tom apparently already had everything that everyone else had about the man. When Al had sent a message, Tom had pulled his brother’s stash from its hiding place along with material that had been passed to him with the rest of it. I suspected that the Colonel’s arrival on the scene was a trigger for Tom’s path of sacrifice. With his bonding to a granddaughter that we were just beginning to know and loved so much already, that meant that Eli and I would do everything in our power to ensure that the Colonel was dealt with.

That was what was on my mind as I walked up to meet the lady and the man who was managing the porters with their luggage. The lady did not seem to have a trace of the taint that I had become all too familiar with. I smiled as I walked up and said in German, “Frau von Wulf? I am Therasa Thomas and I am pleased to meet you. Welcome to America”

She replied in English, “Mrs. Thomas, I am pleased to meet you. You seem to know what my husband has involved himself in this time. I am afraid that he has been in the Dark for too long and there is nothing left of the man that I bonded with. This is my son in law, Gunther.”

“I didn’t know that you had two daughters.”

“Well Ilyse was a teenager when Gretchen left. How is she by the way? I hope that I can meet with her and my grandchildren. She does write often.”

“Does your husband know that you are here?”

“I certainly hope not. I know that he came over here some time ago after we had a rather nasty communication where I refused to tell him where Gretchen was. I think that he knows that Gretchen lives in Vermont near poor Edward.”

Gunther spoke up, “Near my sister, who I would really like to establish contact with. Do you know the Benton’s?”

“Eric Benton?”

“I believe that he is the king of the community that my sister bonded with. Do you know them?”

“I do, actually, and you must be Hilda’s brother. She has assumed that her family was dead.”

“For a time it was worse than death and our parents and most of the community were killed, but some of us managed to escape and the lady’s husband brought us to the lady’s domain. Unfortunately my sister was bonded to the monster and we did not know what happened to them until your message and the news about the young man being kidnapped. I was amazed to see my sister as a Federal agent.”

“I know them and I think that we should go to my car after we arrange to have your luggage moved to your hotel. A relative has graciously loaned you his suite at the Waldorf for the time being.”

“That will do for the time being until I see what arrangements that I can make with my daughter. From what her Christmas letter said, she may be about to lose her husband.”

A young lady came up to Gunther with two small children and said, “Good, you found her. I want to see my sister and her children. The children will also need somebody to take care of them for the week.”

“The hotel can do some of that,” I said. “We also can make other arrangements with your sister. She is teaching at a school for fae and other children that the dark has either indentured the parents in the past or the children have special security concerns. Why don’t we get in my car and go to the hotel?”

“I think, Gunther that you should bring the one case there, and that Mrs. Thomas should take Ilyse and the children and drop them off at the hotel and then we should go to her office and talk with her and her husband,” Mrs. Von Wulf said.” “There is no need to rush, Mrs. Von Wulf,” I said. “We can get you settled and deal with things in the morning.”

“I think that my husband is about to do something very bad and if it hasn’t happened already, it soon will. I would like to meet with the fae in the area as soon as possible and perhaps arrange to go to Vermont as quickly as possible.”

With that, Gunther arranged for the luggage to be sent to the hotel except for a rather large trunk that he put in the trunk of my car. Then we drove up to the Waldorf and left Ilyse and the kids off at Noro’s suite. As we were going back downstairs The lady asked, “What relation is Mr. White to you?”

“He’s my son’s bonded’s father. We only discovered the relationship recently.” “How did you not know? Isn’t your son the heir to your community? You are royal fae and I can sense the tie to a keystone.”

“When my bonded and I came here about eighty years ago we had a free keystone and a baby that had been born prematurely on the ship on the way over here. The rest of my family and the community were supposed to follow along but were attacked by soldiers compelled by a Twisted and most of them were killed. When we arrived in Boston, we were set upon by still more Twisted, placed shields on the child to protect him and left him in an orphanage. We were able to escape the Twisted, but that was here in New York, the keystone rooted itself and without protection, would not let us leave for a time to recover our son. When we went back, our son had been adopted and all we had was a name. We searched for him but he bonded with a merlady up at the Cape, who was the princess of the bower up there and became the heir to their keystone.

Meanwhile my other son, the only child we had left and the few members of our community that were left joined the bower down here as seafolk, we only found him about twelve years ago and his children were too young to carry the mantle of royal fae. We made do with what we could and started to deal with the dark fae to find our son and perhaps destroy them. Recently my husband resonated with our son and we found that he was Noro’s son in law. As far as who is heir to what at this point, the whole thing is a joined connection of at least three keystones, ours and both bowers as well as relationships with most of the rest of the fae in the region. For instance, one grandson is royal fae and bonded to the sister of the newly raised up royal fae for the Rockaway bower. Meanwhile my son is high fae, seafolk, part of the bower and handles the legitmate business and his wife is related to the royal family at the bower. A royal family that has been devastated by the dark.” “So the Masters were doing the same sorts of things that they did to us,” Gunther said. “We did not know that their reach was so far.” “For the most part it was attacking loose fae like my bonded and I. They only attacked the communities starting about ten years ago and that was where your sister and her bonded entered the picture.”

We got back into the car and drove off toward my building. “I will introduce you to my family, those that are here in the city at the moment. Because of what your husband stirred up, most of them are up in Vermont at the Benton farm and other locations.”

“We will have to make the journey to Vermont soon in any case,” Gunther said. “Since I am my father in law’s heir, I am perhaps the only one that can restrain him.”

“He’s also looking for your sister in law. Your sister’s brother in law is almost certainly on the path of sacrifice with the Colonel on the other end of it. Which made what the Colonel did rather stupid.”

“How so?” The lady asked.

“Lady Von Wulf-“

“Adelheid.”

“Theresa. Because Brad’s brother is something new to the fae, a royal fae with the Creator Talent. Then there are the relationships that my son maintains. Relationships that a lot of people will be very upset with if they should be tampered with because somebody upset the Peacekeeper. Your husband didn’t know it, but he has set up a huge firestorm down in Washington, up in Boston and here in New York.”

“How so?”

“A lot of people are concerned that my son will take what your husband is doing personally and do what he typically does in cases like that.”

“What will he do?”

“Pursue the target relentlessly until it is destroyed. Here in the fae communities he has a huge reputation when it comes to dark fae and no dark fae will go willingly to the Cape for very long because of it. The thing is that at this point his main job carries so much influence and responsibility for certain arrangements that his death would probably kick off a huge crime war and a deepening of the depression. With his father in law involved that could be a world wide depression as Noro uses every little trick he knows to go after the people responsible for his granddaughter’s death. Of course your husband’s associates would not be safe even after your husband is dealt with. In any case things could get very ugly.”

“That is my husband. Of course he tends to manage to slip away in the chaos and leave his associates to deal with the consequences. I’m surprised that your son and his father in law are so tied to the normal world.”

“My son spent most of his life bound in his shields and without abilities like an unbonded royal fae. We gave him very strong shields to protect him and until he met his wife, he was the most unfae fae you could imagine. He still has very strong shields and connects more easily in some ways to the normal world than to the fae, which had led to stress in the family during his bonding. As for his father in law, he goes back as far as the country, he is an inveterate trickster and is always searching out fun things to do in the normal world. Including playing on Wall Street about sixty years ago or so. So he has a lot of money and even more friends up top. That went on until ten years ago when some Changed sharks killed his bonded.” “The shark Change came here? That is a very bad Change, but most of the victims do not live very long. The Change is unstable and the fae becomes a fish or dies.” “The Director, the man that the Masters put in charge of their effort here, brought two pods over about fifteen years ago when he started to attack bowers. He attacked the Cape bower first and managed to kill my daughter in law’s mother and that drove her father under sea and forced my son to take over. That did not work out well for some dark fae that were trying to compel some fishermen. The sharks moved on to other targets and caused a lot of the problems that the fae communities here in New York had with assistance from others that the director’s associates had. Fortunately my grandson and his girlfriend’s brother dealt with them with some help from Tom and his friends.” “Theresa, you have had some interesting adventures. I can’t wait to meet your family and what is seemingly mine as well.”

“Well Eli and I haven’t known them very long either, but the last little while has been amazing. Even for us, things have gotten so very fun. We’re almost at my building so who do you want to talk to right now?”

“My daughter, if possible. Gunther’s sister as well.”

“Hilda is upstate at the moment helping her brother in law with the kidnapping. Though why your husband dropped the ladies right into an operation that Tom was already planning to deal with is a bit of a mystery. In any case Hilda is up in Vermont with most of the rest of them.”

“Can you help us make preparations to go up to Vermont? Gunther, at least, should go as quickly as possible.”

“You should have said something at the hotel. Grand Central was right next door. I will talk to Sarah, our secretary, about making arrangements and Eli may want to go up with you. In any case we should ensure that Gunther will be met up in Vermont. Gunther, your sister will probably surprise you.”

“I expect so. When last we heard of her, she was bonded to a monster of the worst sort. Then the next thing we knew, her picture was in the paper with a Mr. White above an article about her son apparently being kidnapped. Followed shortly after by another one about the boy’s release, along with some other children. Why were they held in the first place?”

“Let me park the car and we will discuss this in the office.”

I did and we went inside. Sarah said as we walked in, “Theresa, Eli wants to go up to Vermont to check in. Is this the lady?”

“Adelheid, meet Sarah, our secretary. She lost her bonded to the dark some time ago and has worked for us since then. Sarah, this is Lady Von Wulf, the Colonel’s bonded.”

“Well the Colonel has surely created fireworks this time. Suki didn’t run into you at the Waldorf, did she?”

“No, why? Is she back?”

“She came back down last night, Tochi wanted the kids out of the firing line when things went off, which made the boys unhappy. So Suki had to come down with them. Suki was taking the kids to Sal’s today so that Kieko could meet with Kathy and Rachel and the boys could go over to the school and create some trouble with the rest of them. Robert and some of the older boys hit Radio Row today and brought back a haul of supplies. They want another shipment of trouble for Tom.”

“I suspect that Tom has enough already, but more can’t hurt.”

“A shipment of trouble?” Gunther asked.

“Among all the other things my grandson in law did in the last few months, he managed to make himself a best selling author and create a new toy by taking the things that he had made up for his battles with his sister and making some copies of his drawings. A publishing executive saw a copy that Tom had a printshop make up during the thing with Andy and started to print copies. They are very popular with creative boys and girls and as part of having Andy make his captor’s lives miserable, and Tom’s sister’s as well, Tom made up what he calls a “trouble pack.” The other kids where Andy was being held and the rest are very enthusiastically making sure that whoever took my granddaughter is going to have as much trouble as they can cook up.”

“Who is Suki?” Adelheid asked.

“The Japanese prince’s wife. We’re fairly sure that she isn’t fae, but she has her moments. You will understand when you meet her. In any case her husband was responsible for the two Japanese mermaids and he is working with Tom to obtain their release from your husband. There was also my granddaughter in law, Steve’s bonded. I haven’t heard from her parents yet, but it is only a matter of time. My daughter in law hasn’t asked me yet to make arrangements, but they may not have asked her to. In any case it would take some time to get here from Hawaii even if the navy expedites.”

“Why would the navy expedite the transporation of seafolk?”

“Well Steve is in the navy like many other seafolk and his father in law is king of the bower near Pearl Harbor and does quite a bit of business with the navy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Haruka’s brother or father here shortly. I imagine that Mera, my daughter in law is keeping them informed. The other ladies’ parents may send representitives as well, though they have relatives, including one of the ladies brothers already on the scene. The brother is participating in the Olympics that are coming up next weekend, again right where your husband decided to do what ever it is that he is doing.”

Eli came in and I made introductions. Eli and I agreed that he should go upstate at this point so I told Sarah to make reservations for the night train to Burlington. Sarah went to her desk and started to make some calls. When she was done she said, “Gretchen will meet us at Bennies with Meria and Joe for dinner. She’ll bring Heidi and Vincent with her. Bruce went with Andy and the rest upstate to cause trouble with the rest of them. Robert is bringing them as well as Kathy and Rachel. The Admiral and Mabel are already upstate for the week, but Mike and Stella are coming, along with Tim Kirk and Merlia. I made reservations on the 9:30 train for Eli and Gunther to Burlington.”

“So we can be off then, for dinner?” Eli asked.

“Where is this Bennies?” Adelheid asked. “It doesn’t sound like the kind of place that you would take fae visitors.”

“Oh, you will like it. It’s run by the former prince of the Rocakaway bower, his daughter and son. Bennie was injured by sharks and can no longer Change. So he set up the restaurant. He has been doing very well recently and we will be lucky if we can get in fairly soon.”

“I called Sissy and set up the table,” Sarah said. “She said that it was a good thing that most of the usual crowd was upstate this week or we would have been out of luck.”

We left in Eli’s and my cars to head down to Bennies for dinner. Suki and her boys had beaten us down, but the girls weren’t there yet. Joe and Maria were there at a table with Meria and I introduced Gunther and Adelheid. As we were sitting down, Gretchen came in with her two younger children, Robert and Keiko, Kathy and Rachel who Robert rolled over to a table and they went back to their intense discussion about dresses. Though what Kathy and Rachel were going to do about clothes for the forseeable future was a bit of a mystery. Mike and Stella came in with Tim Kirk and Merlia as Gretchen came over and said, “Hello mother, this is a bit of a surprise.”

“Your father is in the area and your bonded is going to die, more than likely, how could I not come. Ilyse and Gunther came too. Gunther is looking for his sister. Have you told Hilda?”

“No, actually. I wasn’t certain and I didn’t want to raise false hopes with her. She is well enough even after her tragedies and I didn’t want to make things worse. I imagine that Hilda and Andy will be pleased.”

“Gunther is concerned that the werewolf Change may continue.” “Not through Andy. Bruce perhaps, though if he stays down here long enough some tail is going to catch him. Andy has already been caught.” “Where is Bruce now?”

“Up at the farm with Andy and the others. He wanted to be there for his father’s end.”

“Your father may be after him.” Adelheid said.

Gretchen laughed. “Well that will be fun for Bruce. Any werewolf around the farm is going to have a very bad time. Perhaps Bill will get a very nice retirement. Or Bruce will shoot his grandfather. If the three menaces know that he is in the area, he better watch out.”

“The three menaces?”

“Andy, Jimmy and Bruce. They take after Jimmy’s older brother and Andy’s cousins. Theresa knows who I am talking about. It’s a good thing that it will be a few more years before the three of them get cars for themselves. The guns they already have, as well as all the explosives they want. Of course all three of them are trying to get Tom’s attention now that he released that book of his and did all those things with the Manager and Jacob. When Andy got back to the farm after being a hostage, he couldn’t wait to tell the other two what his uncle had been up to and what they should do to make sure that he teaches him all the wonderful things he knows. Tom has done that, all right, along with all the other kids up there.

Father will have not have a clue how to handle Tom. Of course he hasn’t spent a good portion of the last ten years having his ears chewed off about how great Tom is like I have. Tom’s sisters can’t sing his praises enough and most of their friends are almost as bad. They make me sorry that I wasn’t there for the fun and games. Stephie was very disappointed that she couldn’t poke Tom up again when he came back to the farm for a while, but Tom was focused on other things and I think that he was looking to wander and search for a bond. Ed’s father was lucky that Tom went south when he did or it would have been Tom probably and not Scott as Ed’s heir. Not that Scott isn’t bad enough.”

“What do you mean?” Adelheid asked.

“Think about constructs the way father uses them. Now think about a bunch of boys who think of constructs as toys to play with. That is Bob and Scott, along with the rest of them. They run construct shoots, night time car races, induct Boris’s deputies into the “hundred mile an hour club” and give the Martin boys across the lake all sorts of trouble, most of which came from Tom’s little book, which the boys found in the shop about two years ago and made some copies for select friends. They have expanded on that though and the construct shoots are very popular. To the point that the boys are short of constructs after buying every construct jar in the area and down here in the city.”

“What does Edward think of this?”

“When he isn’t laughing at the boy’s antics, you mean? He loves the fact that the boys are always challenging themselves and everybody around them. His father never did enough of that and that has weakened his kingdom. That was one reason the dark was able to infiltrate, get so deep into the kingdom and grow.”

“Your children go to the shoots?” Gunther asked. “I wouldn’t think that a hunt would be a suitable place for children.”

“They go to every one. Bruce insisted that Andy make sure that he and Jimmy made it to the first one and my other two here insisted that they go too when Bruce told them about the shoots. Heidi and Vincent just love them and Ed has given them all rifles for Christmas.”

“Ed gave them guns?” Adelheid asked. “Was that appropriate?”

“That was what they wanted, and if he hadn’t, their Aunt Hilda and Aunt Stephie would have.” “Do you shoot?” Gunther asked.

“Not as well as I should. I’ve been getting more practice lately since the school has a range and Robert and Tony insist that I practice along with the kids.”

“So your kids consider Hilda their aunt? Who is Stephie?” Adelhied asked.

“That just sort of happened. Both Hilda and I came from Germany and I started to visit after I got the teaching job with Stephie. We also share taking care of the kids in the afternoons so that we can deal with shopping and whatnot as well as leaving the kids with Eric and Greta at the farm with the rest of the kids. Bruce and Andy have been friends since kindergarden and they spend most of the summer on the farm together and in the woods with Jimmy. Stephie is Hilda’s sister in law and works with me at the school. Gunther will find out all about the both of them as well as Stephie’s other sisters.”

“Since Hilda bonded to a royal fae, I assume that the entire family must be high fae,” Gunther said. “From what you are saying, they don’t seem to act like the fae that we grew up with.”

“They are not. Eric encourages them to do things outside their abilities. So they shoot and work the farm, along with all the rest of it. Tom was an extreme case, because of his being out of touch with his abilities, but all the others do things outside their abilities. Actually they tend to take things to extremes, Hilda and Stephie being perfect examples.” “How so?”

“Theresa was here for the Manager, who was a dark fae. A powerful one with two construct guards, of whom Robert was one of them and a virtual army of Twisted. Hilda and Stephie shot most of them, without using the special silver bullets and with .22 caliber rounds. The Twisted died for the most part, very quickly. The local bookies keep a book on their shooting scores and which of them was the winner every year. Hilda won because they were able to use the Twisted as targets and finish the year. If father encounters Hilda again, he will be dead very quickly. For that matter, since father is in the area, I imagine that both Hilda and Stephie are working out a hunt. That is if they don’t let Tom have him.” “Theresa, is this true?” Adelheid asked.

“I didn’t see any of the actual shooting. Robert did and was impressed by both of them weren’t you?”

“Yes I was. The way those ladies shoot has to be seen to be believed. The Manager thought that he could just take Hilda and force her to create werewolves. That was just plain stupid. I thought she was crazy when she just left Andy at the Manager’s but the Manager should have never taken the kid in the first place and only the fact that Hilda and Stephie wanted to see Tom do his fun stuff on the Manager kept him alive. I’m a very good shot and bodyguard, and they would have gotten past me and taken the shot and there wouldn’t have been a thing that I could do to stop them.”

Adelheid and Gunther seemed to more than a little shook up by our world as Gretchen went on talking about it. After a bit, Adelheid turned to Joe and asked, ‘”Why have you not Changed. I know mermaids cannot, but male seafolk do. Shouldn’t you be more discreet?”

“I wouldn’t bother here, in any case. Merfolk are hardly a big thing here. But in my case I was wounded by artillery fire in the war and when my daughter there went into Change with her mother I decided to join them. At the time Bennie and I thought that I would take over the down below duties and my son would be responsible for the business. He chose another career, has been doing very well with it and I just sort of have an office here and the business comes to me rather than me going to it. Meria is a bit annoyed that I haven’t spent the time down below that she expected until after the end of the year, but it was better that I deal with that side of the business and not somebody who didn’t know the details. Mike and I have made a lot of progress the last couple of weeks getting some of the things that Meria wanted done, haven’t we?”

“Yes we have, thanks to some convenient leaves and wives wanting things done now that the sharks and chemicals have been dealt with.”

“Chemicals?” Gunther asked. “What was going on with chemicals.” “The dark was using chemicals made up in a plant near the navy yard to attack the bower’s keystone while the shark pod was killing the royal fae and other high fae as they were bonding. The sharks also were using fishermen to attack the bower’s gardens in New Jersey. They couldn’t do that here because we don’t have gardens where fishermen would normally trawl. They did start that up at the Cape. Which Josh and Mera shut down very quickly when they did. We’ve found three of the chemical plants set up to attack various bowers. All of them have been shut down and dismantled. Also certain key components have been embargoed by the manufacturer. But for a while, the threat to the bowers was significant. We, in the navy and some others have taken steps now that we know about the threat.”

“How did you discover the threat in the first place?”

“One of my son’s coworkers bonded right down there on the dock and the water felt funny, so Mera, who was the lady’s sister, started to look into things with my son’s boss and some others. Meanwhile the Manager sent the sharks after Tom and he shot most of them. My son did some investigating and found the chemical factory because the sharks were shaking down certain businesses of a friend of mine for shark insurance. One of the places wanted the sharks troubleshot and that’s what my son did.

I arranged for an old floating drydock to be positioned so that it protected the bower. That helped with the approaching hurricane and protected the bower from somebody running a trawl through. The Manager sent the sharks, a Necromancer and some others against Tom again, which allowed my son to find out who the sharks were and with the help of Joe’s son, shut them down and expose them.”

“Why did you want to expose them? Wouldn’t it have been more discreet to just take care of them?”

“The sharks were all members of wealthy families connected to the sound bower. Families that had a surplus of high fae sons who did not have girls to bond with. The familie sent the sons over to Europe in the hopes that they would find somebody and for reasons that you know, there weren’t any high fae girls to find. Meanwhile my bower and the Cape bower had too many girls. That is resolving itself now, but that left a big hole for the dark to recruit in and we wanted to make sure that the fae in the region know what can happen if an inbalance happens and encourage the boys to look outside their ‘set” to find mates. Also, the sharks had been taking kids from poor fae families to feed the Change and my son and Joe’s son wanted to make sure that what happened to the sharks was spread around. Exposure was the thing that they feared the most anyway.”

Sissy brought dinner around and Adelheid and Gunther seemed a bit skeptical until they started to eat and taste they were eating. As we were finshing, Adelhied said, “I see what you mean about this place. It looks like a low class place, but this was almost magical. Is that because Bennie is high fae?”

“I don’t think that Bennie uses his abilities when he cooks,” Meria said. “When he started he said that he wanted his cooking to stand on its own without any special glamors or improvements. He did go to all our relatives and others for recipes. He also has other contacts, Eric’s family, for instance, for special meat cuts. So things have done well for him. That helps the bower as well even when Bennie can no longer go under sea.”

“How does his bonded deal with that?”

“Occasional dates on the dock and she has a chair in back. She hasn’t wanted to come out front very much. She does run the office for Bennie and wants Tom to expedite his tank bed project so that she can have a place up top. I don’t think that your husband and the rest understand what the merfolk will do to them if they actually manage to kill Tom. If they do manage to do that, the seafolk will do their best to see that any ship your husband uses to try to go home has problems. As well as significant weather issues.”

“We will make every effort to make sure that that does not happen, won’t we, Gunther,” Adelheid said. “If for no other reason than our domain cannot afford a war. At one time I wouldn have worried about what the fae over here thought, but in these times, things that were once far away are no longer very far away as far as time is concerned. We came over here in a week and if we can come over in a week, somebody could come over and deal with us in a week as well. We do not have any neighboring domains to assist us. I don’t think that the Masters understood what would happen when they did what they did.”

“Do you know why the Masters did what they did?” I asked. “With the exception of your husband they have done what they did through proxies that infiltrated and in the beginning, only destroyed independent fae.”

I glanced at Sarah to make sure that she was carefully keeping notes. Not that I wasn’t using a little memory trick that I had picked up, but having Sarah keep notes, meant that she could type up the report and get it done faster than I could because she could work without the distractions.

“The Masters were afraid. Being dark fae, they were frightened by how things were going differently as things went in Europe. You have to to understand that my husband is the youngest of the Masters and he is over three hundred years old. The others are all over five hundred and the world they knew was shattered in a very short period of time by the new inventions and even more importantly the rate of which the inventions changed things. They were afraid that they would no longer be able to hide and rule from behind. They were also afraid of the advantages that the new tools would give the normals. They were also very concerned that compulsions and control were no longer working and the growing populations surrounding them. So for the first time, the four Masters stopped warring with each other and decided to attempt to reverse the clock. They brought my husband in for his military skills. I don’t think that he realized what he was doing to himself at first.”

“So the Masters went after fae who might resist, like my family first,” I said. “That probably included the bowers and other places.”

“Yes. The problem was that the Masters did not realize just how many would escape over here when they started. When the attacks started, families started to send many of the strong fae over here to keep them out of the coming disaster. That is when entire families did not start out. The keystones spawned and budded at an amazing rate in an attempt to preserve themselves. That is what happened to you, wasn’t it?”

“Yes it was. That may be why our community was so small when we started off. That also may be why we have so many powerful fae here in New York. So why is your husband here? From what I have seen, destroying the fae kingdoms here will not help the Masters any, even though they have been trying that for some time.” “The Masters made a mistake. One that my husband took advantage of, right after the last war and even before it. The Masters did not expect the exodus and didn’t realize how bloody wars would get. Along with what would happen to fae communities. Too many were destroyed outright and the Master’s Twisted do not have fae to feed on without risking extinction themselves. In fact there have been extinctions across most of Europe by this point. Since my husband has so many of the fae, like Gunther in his domain, the Masters are insisting that he either give them up or provide others. So he came over to collect certain Talents that are almost extinct that the Masters consider essential.” “Creators, I suspect. Most of what artificers can do can be done using other methods these days, but Creators have to be fae to do what they do. I imagine that the Masters want disposable soldiers.”

“Yes they do. Not that it will do them much good at this point. The Masters have made some powerful enemies and those enemies are ruthless and have well armed people of they need them. But my husband has little choice, so he came over and is looking for Creators to bring back with him.”

“That will not be easy. Creators tend to be rather independent. It can be difficult to persuade them and unless they are already tainted by the dark, they will hardly want to work for dark fae. In fact they probably will fight to the death rather than do that.”

“That has been the problem. Too many have done exactly that, which took a terrible toll on the Creators and the dark fae. I’m hoping that I can stop my husband before he creates yet another mess.”

“He’s also looking for Gretchen and Bruce. Along with taking Chrissie, Tom’s bonded and all that goes with that. Your husband wants a diary that Hilda’s bonded had and thinks that Tom has it. Of course your husband isn’t the only one who wants that diary. Some of Tom’s Washington friends have been trying to get a look for years and only the fact that Tom will not reveal the diary’s existence has kept it hidden.”

“Heinrich was most displeased with me over me letting Gretchen go with Bruce. Our bond had grown so weak that I don’t think that he appreciated the pain that the separation was causing our daughter. I think that the dark had reached far deeper than I had realized and he has been cut off from what he was for too long. When he first bonded with me, he was a strong competent man, but not soaked in the dark. The wolf Change was not a monster, but part of what he was. It has become a monster and I hope that the wolf Change becomes extinct.”

“Well Hilda and her boyfriend have the Change but they are not going to have children together and Andy has been dragged under by the Sound Bower’s princess, though it will be a number of years before they close the deal. At least that means that the three menaces will be broken up for a while. With Andy and Bruce down here and Jimmy not having an excuse to come down, though Ginny does have relatives and connections down here, so he may figure a way to show up next summer. Jimmy is not fae by the way, not that that makes much difference.” “What if the fae kids try to compel him?” Gunther asked.

“Been there, has them stripped, they pretty much don’t work anymore. In our county compelling and being compelled is a phase that the fae kids go through from about the time they start to have abilities at age ten or so to age thirteen when all the kids have been compelled and had them stripped so many times that they just don’t work anymore. The adult fae wouldn’t even think about using them because just about everybody is immune and far too many of the people are fae or high fae and know how to reflect. Being able to reflect is one of Bob and Scott’s favorite games with the Martin boys.”

Dinner was about over and Gretchen said, “The kids are tired, mother. I will meet you and Ilyse tomorrow morning at the Waldorf and take you on a tour. I’ll have Robert bring a rather famous car. Robert, the Manager’s car is off the tracking list, isn’t it?”

“The tracking list?” Gunther asked

“A high fae lady who works for a clandestine agency that deals with fae matters has recruited the street kids, paperboys and such and Theresa’s grandson recruited them with a Bennies catered lunch to track a certain car, much to Robert’s chagrin as the car became rather public.” “Too public,” Robert said. “The kids got out of control and it was like being a movie star. The sharks never figured that out. Neither did the Manager, even after we told him that. As far as I know the car isn’t being tracked. We can use Sal’s Cadillac if you want. He and Sillia are upstate shooting some trouble and helping free some ladies. I’ll call Bill and arrange it.”

“Let’s use the Manager’s car. I want mother to know what happened and the Manager’s car is a good place to start. We’ll take her to the navy yard, the market and the warehouse, the Manager’s house, the Chemist’s house and Sylvia’s place. She can meet Jimmy and Kay, Roger and the rest. We’ll finish at the school.”

“Are you sure that that’s the tour you want for the first day?” I asked. “That isn’t exactly a tour of the usual things.” “Mother didn’t come over for that. We can hit the usual tourist things later. I think that mother and my sister should see what has been going on and she said that she wants to meet the local fae. I think that you meant the high fae, mother, but here we aren’t as strict about low or high fae and we don’t have the nicely stratified communities that you are used to. In any case, since Tim, Sal, Mike and the rest are up at Lake Placid, we should introduce mother to the people that she can talk to.” “What about your father?”

“What about him. He’s up there at Lake Placid trying to steal Scott’s Creator. That’s probably Doug, who’s boys hang out with Bob and Scott already. So my father is in trouble already. If he tries to play games the way he usually does, he’s going to find out why he shouldn’t have come to my neighborhood to play. That’s even without Ed getting involved.” “You seem awfully confident. More so than anybody else.” “Theresa, I know my father and I know the people up there. My father is a very dark, dangerous, ruthless and treacherous man. But Eric and his family have had to be ruthless and dangerous without letting the dark taint them. My father and the rest of the Masters placed that upon them and they have dealt with everything the Masters have sent for years now. That was before Tom knew what he was and the family was all together. Now that they are, my father has no clue what he is dealing with. Suki knows more about Tom than I do, but I know that the rest of the family loves Tom and each other even when they play games.

Suki came over and asked, “I know more about Tom than who? The clowns that took Chrissie have already made mistakes. That kidnapping was about as discreet as a parade and those poor werewolves up there are discovering what having a hostage can mean. It would help if they at least tried to be somewhat competent. The only good things about this is that Chrissie seems to be having a good time and Tom is releasing his burden. Lady, your husband has just bought himself a lot of trouble. The only sad part is that my mostly useful husband insisted that I bring my boys and girl down here out of where the fun is going to happen. Gretchen, I will get Tim and Suzy to tell us everything. I think that I need to take my boys back to the hotel along with my daughter. It’s a good thing that they don’t have amulets for non fae girls or she would be Swimming tonight.”

She left with her kids. Gretchen smiled as her mother asked, “Who was that?”

“The Japanese prince’s wife,” Gretchen replied. “You get used to her. She and her husband tied up with Tom while he worked in Washington. We met at Chrissie’s party. Ed is a bit frightened of her, mostly because she isn’t the least bit afraid of Ed. Mother, I will see you in the morning. Gunther, your sister will surprise you and you have a whole new family that will amaze you. My poor father. If it weren’t for the kids, I would go up and watch, but I’m a game piece and I wouldn’t want to mess father up by not being helpless. So I will play for a while. If he goes after Ed, though, I will want him.”

She collected the kids and Robert and left. Gunther turned to me and asked, “What was that bit about being helpless?”

“She’s been talking to Hilda and Stephie about Tom’s helpless Hilda gag apparently,” I said, grinning. “When Tom first heard that Andy might be taken, he set it up with Josh, my son, who has all sorts of connections with the railroad, to make Hilda’s train late and arranged to have Hilda act as if she was lost in Grand Central. When you see the place, you will understand that a bit. He didn’t know at the time that Hilda had been through the station and knew the place. So he set it up with some associates and Noro so that poor lost helpless Hilda would get lost and have to call her very wealthy great uncle Noro for help and get escorted out of the station. Which was the picture you saw, mostly because the press had been trying to get any pictures of Noro for decades and failing. He used his abilities to mess up cameras. My grandson is a young reporter and was in the press pool and shielded a camera so that a friend could collect the bounty on Noro. It turns out that his friend is high fae, so it was likely that the shield was unnecessary, but the important thing was that Noro took Hilda out of the station and the Manager’s indentured and Robert did not know where Hilda had gone. So the Manager’s people had to wait for Hilda’s call the next day, which my grandson had arranged. The whole point was to convince the Manager and his people to open the contact with Hilda where Hilda and her friends controlled the communications. It turned out that the Manager was too stupid, or at least not paying any attention and the whole exercise was pointless. Hilda got in the car and demonstrated just how helpless she was by shooting with Stephie all the Twisted that the manager had on hand. The only downside was that Gregor, one of the indentured’s children got in the middle and Andy had to shoot a Twisted.

I suspect that Ed thinks that Gretchen is more helpless than she actually is. When she was saying that she doesn’t practice shooting enough, that may be on a Hilda and Stephie scale, which means that she shoots well enough for anybody else. Considering that she has been with Stephie and Hilda and that Ed was concerned about the Director and his people finding out about her, I suspect that she is in the same little club that Stephie and Hilda is. She didn’t shoot at Chrissie’s party, so I’m guessing that she would have had to find her own constructs. She also knew who Doug was, which is a pretty good clue that she is in the market for them. Ed probably told her about doug over Christmas when he visited. A visit that caused quite a bit of trouble.”

“How so?”

“Well apparently the people in Army intelligence got a whiff of your husband’s activities and when my granddaughter sent invitations to all of Tom’s very high status friends in Washington, asked my grandson, Steve to discreetly send some people up to keep an eye on things. Tom at the same time discovered Ed as a werewolf, but didn’t know how much Ed kept the monster in control, so he panicked a bit and told Hilda and Hilda hadn’t been told about Ed by Gretchen or Boris, so Hilda thought royal fae werewolf rather than royal fae trying to keep an affliction under control and told Steve’s lietenant, Roger about the werewolf potential. The problem was that because the War department wasn’t sure about your husband and didn’t tell my grandson, Roger was looking for the wrong werewolf and tripped off Ed’s monster by accident. The monster killed Roger and a deputy and it took a lot of time to find Gretchen and figure out what happened. Ed went to Tom and arranged for Tom and Noro to send Gretchen down here out of harm’s way. She is obviously annoyed about that, but loves Ed too much to complain. I think that Ed is planning to use the events coming up to let his monster go and arrange for it to die, probably when Tom shoots it. It’s a tragedy all the way around.”

“Tom will shoot Edward?”

“Ed will probably not give Tom a choice. Brad didn’t. Which put Tom on the path that he is on now. That is something that your husband should have considered before taking Tom on. Tom will be lethal when he has to be. He also does not miss very often when he has a gun in his hand.

It’s almost eight and we need to get Gunther and my husband over there to the station.”

Eli had snuck over to where Dom and Tara had joined Mike and Stella and was talking with them to get an update on goings on probably. I went over to him and said, “I will take Adelheid and Gunther to the train station. You can stay here and take Sarah back home.”

“Wait, I’m going too! We’ll all go up to the building and then you can take Adelhied to the hotel after you drop us off.”

Adelheid and Gunther laughed as we left Bennies and got in the car. Sarah was going to drive Eli’s car back to our building as the rest of us drove back to Manhattan and Grand Central. I said to Adelhied, “Tom is in trouble. First he makes the helpless mistake with Hilda and now Gretchen. Though leaving was Ed’s idea and he didn’t know that Gretchen’s father was in the area when he asked Gretchen to come down here.”

“Is Tom always coming up with schemes like that?”

“According to some of the people that knew him in Washington, yes. Gunther can talk to Stephie about it. By the time he showed up in Washington, the habit was fully established. From what his mother said, a lot of that was because Eric’s brothers and sisters went after him about deing defective somehow and that started Stephie wanting to prove that Tom wasn’t which led to their battles and Tom’s sneakiness.”

“Why did they think that he was defective?”

“Because Tom, as a loose royal fae was shielded from his abilities and seemingly didn’t have any. I imagine that Eric’s sisters are not having a very good time right now between Tom doing the rather amazing things he’s doing and Greta and Stephie gloating about them. Never mind the fact that even when he didn’t have any abilities, Tom was the terror of the Martins and the rest of the high fae teenagers until he left for Washington. When Tom was in Washington he used to run rings around the spies, all of them.”

“How did he do that?”

“According to two of them, by being one step ahead of them and using his phone skills and other things to make their lives misearable. They didn’t want to talk about the details to me. I’ll have to wheedle them out of Tom.”

We talked about Tom and the rest of his family as I drove us up to the drop off at Grand Central where we dropped Eli, Gunther and the trunk off at the station. Eli had hos travel bag and we made a quick round trip to get Gunther’s travel bag and Ilyse who kissed her husband good bye and then we returned to the hotel. Adelheid looked around and said, “Your relative must be very well off to keep a place like this. How come he doesn’t have a house in town?”

“Noro lost his bonded to the sharks we were telling you about and kept himself under sea until Tom and Chrissie bonded with all the fireworks involved with that. Then he needed to be in town and rented the suite. He sold his town house some time ago and he rents his estate to the new royal fae and his wife out on Long Island. We will go by the house when Gretchen takes us on the tour, because the sharks had it as their headquarters after Noro rented the place out. He is planning to mostly live near his bower up near Cape Cod anyway. I think that he and my son will be handling the business rather than just my son, who’s been doing that for the last ten years or so. I need to go, so I will see you tomorrow.”

I took my leave and drove down to our building where Sarah had already started in on the report. She looked up as I walked into the office and said, “This is going to be hot. I have a bunch of friends who came over and lost their families over in Europe, but weren’t sure why. This lady has the inside view from the top. We’ll do very well out of this. Even if we give it away to some people, I can horse trade for more. The final report is going to be huge. Leo and Hank were going through the stuff that Brad had and they will be bringing that down on the way back down after things go boom this weekend.”

“It looks as if the Masters are about to have a bad time. I think that we should go to bed, it’s going to be a busy day tomorrow.”

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