The Golden Butterfly, Chapter 39, Part 4 and end.

More Hijinks, more Nazis.

Tim.
Monday, October 31, 1932.
I made it to class on time, like I usually did. That didn’t prevent Professor Simpson from ragging on me. “I see that our fantasist has arrived. No book auctions, Mr Thomas?”
“Not today sir.”
“So what fantastic tale have you brought us today.”
Suzy had pulled a fast one and switched the mermaid dinner that I had written up for the weird and strange radio show for the piece for the class that I did after hearing two guys tallking about boxing and gyms on the subway. I hadn’t looked at it before handing it in and Simpson had been ragging on me ever since even after I explained that it was something that I had written for the radio show. He liked it anyway as I had made the conversation the way it had really happened and it wasn’t obvious that it was mermaids and their guys talking. At least not until the end.
“Nothing fantastic today. Just a birthday party at the Brooklyn Museum and some relatives dealing with an idiot Nazi.”
“So why were they holding a birthday party at the museum.”
“It was a surprise party played on my cousin. She had pulled the same thing, well almost the same thing on another relative and this was the relative pulling one over on my cousin. The party is in the paper today.”
“If that is the case, why don’t you show us the story about that Nazi character. They are much in the news, but there are hardly any here.”
“This was in Germany. A relative died and the family has to deal with an obnoxious character while dealing with the estate.”
“So we have petty greed and government abuse of power. That should make for an interesting story and is worth our attention. Hand it over and we shall proceed.”
Poor Herr Steiger was ripped to pieces and even Mr. Simpson was smiling by the time it was over.
The Chancellor.
Tuesday November 1, 1932.
Since the Golden Butterfly was gone, I had wondered who it was who would be acting as the Lady’s aide during the monthly pickup. I had suspected that it would be one of the Lady’s other pets. Instead it was Hannah’s brother. “How did you end up doing this?”
“The Lady asked for some things and I asked if she would pass me the reports since my sister did. She said to get them myself, so I am. I will pass what is pertinent to the Lady, but I doubt that she will read it.”
“Your sister’s death was a great loss to the Lady.”
“Even when my sister tried to kill her?”
“That was the strange part. It seems that she was expecting it and even hoping somewhat that your sister would suceed.”
“Then things are stranger than I thought.”
“So why do you read the reports?”
“Much of the reports are about my family overseas and I am restrained from opening contact myself. So I like to see what my family is up to. The family is in the same business that I am in and it helps to see what they are doing.”
“What is your business?”
“I make fine guns on comission. Since my family is in the same business over there, it pays for me to keep track. I think that I will bid you good day and not waste any more of your time.”
The conversation had not been a waste of time and I hoped that I could cultivate the man in the future like I had Etienne. Those of us stuck in our hostage situation should watch out for each other. I wondered if the Lady still had one of her children near him as well.
Stephie.
Saturday, November 5, 1932.
I suppose that I should not have been surprised, but I discovered that a good way to get held up in customs was to have one of Tom’s pistols in my baggage. The fact that it was one of Tom’s “royals” just made things worse. When Tom had been working in Washington, he had hand selected forty frames from the pile and taken extra care when he machined them, over the course of a year. Then he had passed most of them around as presents to people like Tochi and Sumitomo and traded them for things like the Dragon. Each of them had been stamped X/40 and the LT serial number. He had given thirty of them away by the time he left Washington to his friends and some more at Pratt. There were five left that I knew about, still in the armory, that Tom had not given away yet, including the one that was at issue here. The problem was that as Tom and Larry’s reputation had grown, what had been a simple gift on Tom’s part had acquired a mystique all their own. That hadn’t been helped when one of Tom’s friends in Washington had shown one to a writer of a gun magazine and took the writer to his range and had him shoot the pistol. The writer was the one that had coined the term royal, since the gun’s owner had been an Indian prince doing his time at the embassy when Tom had given him the pistol. The thing was that you could not buy a royal and each one had been engraved, by Tom and gifted, by Tom. So even seeing a royal was a gun enthusiast’s dream, I had had one in my luggage and none of us had thought to place an aversion on it. Almost inevitably the case had been spotted with Larry’s logo on it and the Custom’s official had gone over it as I explained that it was a gift. Of course, he realized what it was and called in the firearms expert who called in all his buddies. It took quite a bit of time as I explianed that I was Tom’s sister delivering a gift for him. When asked who it was for, I explained that it was a private matter since I was only making the delivery. Only the fact that I was rather insistant that I had a train to catch, kept them from taking me and the pistol down to the police range and putting some rounds down range. The pistol was very well photographed. They didn’t even pay any attention at all to my guns, other than to check the paperwork. They should have, because if a royal was rare, the family guns were better, because the guns that Tom had done for us were done with love.
When I finally emerged, Boris was smiling and Bill and Hilda had enormous grins. I suspected that I looked rather haggard as I said, “Let’s get the train.”
Boris’s smile got larger as he said, “They like Tom’s pistols.”
“I think that I might pay that gun magazine a visit. Or get Mary to do it. A nice little boom might convince them to not puff things up so much. The good thing is that there are only four of those left and Tom won’t be making any more.”
Kitty and ‘Hǔ caught up with us and Kitty said, “So why did you get tangled up in Customs. Usually they give me the going over and this time they barely looked at my passport and waved me through.”
“I should have put an aversion on mother’s little gift to her brother. I had forgotten just how notorious they were.”
“Why?”
“About seven years or so ago, Tom decided to give pistols to some of his friends in Washington. So he hand selected forty frames from the stockpile, machined all of them and close fit the pistols, then he engraved them individually for each of the people he gave them to and stamped them x/40. He gave them to people like Herber Hoover for his son, General Vickers, Tochi, and so forth. Tom’s friends, as presents, including an Indian prince who had a gun writer as a visitor and showed him the pistol. The gun writer called the special pistols, LT Royals and they have acquired a mystique ever since. There are people looking to find pictures, not the pistols themselves, but pictures, of all of them. The fact that another one has shown up will drive some people crazy.”
“So what is special about them?” ‘Hǔ asked. “They are just pistols that Tom made, are they not?”
“Very good pistols, but yes. It is the fact that none of them can be bought. In order to obtain one, you have to be friends or family of an owner and inherit one or have it gifted to you by Tom in the first place. Most of the time, at present, if Tom wants to give a pistol away, he just does it and gives it to the recipient. He did that for Tim and Chrissie for Christmas last year. That’s what he would have done with my uncle, but Mother wanted to provide a gift in a hurry, pulled a royal from the stack and had Tom do some engraving. The funny part is that the pistols that Tom does for family are always his best work, but I suspect that the royals will always be the ones sought after.”
Jean.
Monday, November 7, 1932.
I had finally returned to my sister’s family for some peace and quiet. Paul met me at the train staton with Giselle and had Andre take my bag and we were away to the house. As we drove away to the house, I asked Paul, “Have things returned to normal after I left?”
“Pretty much. Bill and Hilda have not been back and we don’t have any vampires anymore. Did Bill go on any more hunts?”
“They returned to America.”
“About that. Jeanette is returning with her bonded and his family soon.Mother will want to discuss with you about the things they like to eat and what they might like to do. Other than Bill and casinos. The Committee has agreed that he is banned from all of them. At least to play. They do want to talk with him about security.”
“Jeanette is returning?”
“Yes. Tony’s grandmother sent a message saying that because of the mess over her sister’s death, she and her husband were coming to Europe and they wanted Jeanette as an assistant. So she and Tony are coming too. What is he like?”
“I will let you discover for yourself. It is a good thing that they are not bringing some of the other boys. All of them like to shoot, play with Costructs and do the things in Tom’s book, among other things.”
I wondered why Greta and Eric were coming. That had not been part of the original plan. But then neither had Hannah’s death. I decided to visit the estate and see what was going on. I thought about something and said to Paul, “would you like to make a trip with me?”
“There is school. It might be a bit difficult.”
“I will talk with the headmaster. I think that they would allow you to be absent on Friday and Monday next week and we can go and see Jeanette and the estate in Germany. I suspect that your cousins will show up again, if only to check out what Jeanette caught. I think that we can have some fun.”
“Could we bring Giselle?”
“Now that might be a good idea. The Bentons have some seafolk relatives and they can discuss with her what she can expect. With you as well. In fact that is a good reason for you to go.”
“Do you think that Bill will take me shooting?”
“We will have to see. I imagine that the Twisted are rather in short supply near the estate.”
Stephie.
Tuesday, November 8, 1932.
All good things must come to an end. That included our Steiger free days. We arrived at the estate after a rather leisurely trip and settled in. I told the Shultzes, “My parents left from New York yesterday. They should arrive here by Saturday.”
The Shultzes had huge grins and Herr Shultz said, “I don’t think that we should tell Herr Steiger about that. I think that we should surprise him.”
“How have things been going with the vultures?”
They have been very meticulously going through things. A bit slow though. We have people crating up the things that have been inventoried already.”
“Be ready to crate everything, inventoried or not, unless you want it. Mother was not happy when she heard about Herr Steiger and his bullying.”
“How will you move everything without Herr Steiger catching on?”
“It has been handled. There are things that Herr Steiger has no clue about and I’m not going to say what they are until it happens. There are some surprises coming.”
“I’m sure that there are. I am so glad that the family is back and active, even if it is only for a brief time.”
“By the way, where did the Bugatti come from?”
“You know, I don’t know and I should. I never paid any attention to it until Boris pointed it out and Andre and Jorge don’t know either. It certainly hasn’t been there very long.”
“Do you have any problems with somebody using it?”
“No, because I don’t know who it belongs to and it’s not one of the estate cars. Does Boris want to use it?”
“Not me,” Boris said. “Too fancy, I attract enough attention as it is and I don’t need the extra attention, especially here in Germany were there could be trouble if somebody realizes who I was. We have a friend coming for whom a flashy car is a trademark and he saw the Bugatti in the pictures and asked about it. I think that he thought that using the Bugatti would be easier than having his car brought over. Stephie said that he could use it.”
A footman came in, “The gate just called. Herr Steiger is on his way.”
I picked the prints off the kitchen table where we had all been talking and we all went out front as Steiger’s car drove up and he went through his usual ritual. As he walked up I shouted. “Herr Steiger we have the pictures! Do you want to see!”
He charged up and grabbed them. “Where are the negatives?”
‘Not here, obviously. Mother has them. I suspect that they went up to the farm with my brother, but I can’t be sure. She was very amused and so were a bunch of other people.”
“Who?”
“I’m not sure. We were passing them around at my sister in law’s birthday party and there were all sorts of people. Kitty, did any of the Washington crowd come to the party?”
“Other than Miss Vicky? I think that Jean Pierre showed up and there may have been some others. I didn’t bring the guest list with me.”
“No real reason to. I’m sure that Tim and Doris saw them and I laughed with Vic over the pictures.”
Herr Steiger growled “Who are all those people!”

“Just people we know. Not that big a deal. Nothing you need to worry about. Check the New York papers. There should be something about the party and who was there.”
“Who is this woman!”
I looked at Kitty, “Kitty, who are you?”
Kitty laughed “I don’t think that I want this character to know, so I won’t say.”
“I demand your papers!”
“And I won’t show them to you, sir. I wouldn’t try going for a gun. My boyfriend here wouldn’t like it and he shoots better than I do. In any case, my papers wouldn’t help you very much as I think that your bosses know very well who I am and what I do. So does your girlfriend. Tell her that this time I am not tied up with a job and I am ready to play if she is. I owe her and her associates for going after my aunt, uncle and nephews. To say nothing of making me miss Chrissie’s fun and games last year. So I’m rather annoyed at your girlfriend right now. Though what she sees in you is beyond me.”
I looked at the loathsome little man, puffed up with his sense of authority. “Don’t play any more games at the inn. I’ve seen enough already. Why don’t you go and talk to my aunt about this.”
He stalked off to his car and drove away. Kitty laughed and said, “Why do they always ask for your papers? Even if he knew who I was, it wouldn’t do him any good and since we have those pictures, trying to have us arrested will not end well.”
“He can come back with police and soldiers,” Herr Shultz said.
“Soldiers that we would spot He knows that we are fae and he has been playing with the Unbonded long enough to know what fae can do. For that matter, his bosses would release me in any case because if they lock me up, they can’t follow me to see what I may be up to or hire me for a job the next time they need me, which they will at some point. They all do.”
We went back to work. Steiger didn’t return and we had pleasant day going through the house and making plans. I had left my brother’s present on the side table by the door so that I wouldn’t forget it when we left tomorrow and one of the maids found it and asked Herr Shultz about it. He brought the case to me and said, “Did you leave this by accident?”
“I’m sorry. When I’m at home I leave stuff by the door when I’m planning to take it someplace so that I don’t forget about it. This is a present from my mother to her brother.”
“An ususual present.”
“Not for us. Tom used to give these around in Washington and they were always well received. That got me in trouble in La Havre. The customs people were slobbering all over it and only the fact that I was catching train kept me from having to go down to the range and fire it a few times so that can say that they had seen a LT Royal fired.”
“Then you are lucky that Heidi saw this and not Gerd. Gerd is a gun enthusiast who has no access to guns other than the hunting lodge and if he saw this there could be trouble. At the very least, he and his friends would want to see it fired. It is a new gun and probably has never been fired.”
“It has. Tom never lets a gun that he is giving to somebody get away without 100 rounds being fired through it to make sure that there are no issues. He doesn’t do that with the guns he makes for himself but when it is a gun like this, it has been tested. Larry does the rest of them and doesn’t shoot as many rounds, but these were something that Tom was making for his friends and they are special.”
“So there is a reason that they are called royals.”
“You knew what it was?”
“As I said, Gerd is a gun enthusiast and he collects pictures of guns since he cannot have real guns. He clips pictures from magazines. He has pictures of five royals that have appeared in magazines. He would like to know where the rest are.”
“Let me get the camera and we can take a picture for Gerd. That will make six and this one has not appeared in any magazines as yet as mother only asked Tom to pull it last week.”
We did that and took some pictures of the pistol in and out of it’s case. Then I took it up to my room. I was glad that we were leaving in the morning and I could make the delivery and be relieved of it.
Gert.
Friday November 11, 1932.
The day had been a bit frustrating as I was having brazing and flux issues with the stainless steel being used for the barrels of the shotgun. So it was a pleasant surprise when my niece and her husband showed up. “Hello, uncle. This is for you.”
She handed me the case for a pistol the case had the LT logo on it. I opened it and I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised by what it was, but I was. I carefully pulled the pistol out of the case and checked just over the trigger guard. This was thirty six of the forty. I looked at my niece and said, “This is a truly royal gift. Did Tom send this?”
“Mother did. Tom may make a family gun for you if he has time.”
“A family gun is better than this?”
“Yes, but don’t let the word get around. We don’t want people snooping in our cars or poking around looking at our guns, so they don’t have any markings other than the LT logo. These were guns that Tom made for his friends in Washington years ago.”
“Very interesting friends if the legends are true. Does the prince of Japan own one?”
“Tochi? Yes. So does the President, but I think that he gave it to his son. There are some others including that Indian prince.”
In spite of my niece’s disparagement of the work I could tell that it was a magnificent piece made by a true artisan. I worked the action and the action was as smooth as glass and when I pulled the trigger, the trigger was crisp and clean. I called out to Johan, “I think that you should see this!”
He came over, took one look and his eyes bugged. “Is that a royal! This is the first one that I have seen.”
“My sister sent this to me. My niece here says that Tom will probably make a family gun for me.”
“I can’t imagine what those are like. I like how the engraving is rather understated, but why are there fairies on it?”
Stephie looked at them and laughed. Mother did say that he could add things if he wanted. So he added mother.”
I laughed. “I think that I will put this away for now. But I do want to fire it.”
“Do so, often. Tom expects them to be used. If you check the case, you find an address slip for Larry’s shop. Larry will repair any of the royals and mail it back to the owner at our cost. These are gifts that Tom and the rest of the family expect that the recipients will use to protect themselves and others.”
I thought of something and asked, “Stephie, why did you give this to me right away? You could have waited until we met next week.”
“Do you know what happens when you take one of these through customs? I imagine that there were people sneaking small objects like full grown elephants through while all the agents were slobbering over this. They couldn’t wait to get pictures, which I imagine are going to show up in a magazine all too soon. Tom marking these as a limited run when he gave them away was a mistake. The reason he did that was so that he and Larry could account for them. Now he’s stuck with them. At least until he gives the rest away.”
We all laughed and then Boris and Stephie joined the family and I for dinner. Since we weren’t trying to hide anything anymore, that made things a lot of fun as Boris and Stephie told us the funny story of Tom and Chrissie’s bonding. Greta asked, “If Chrissie is a mermaid, how did she live on land?”
“We set up a special bed for them. That worked well, very well indeed. So well that Tom sells the beds all up and down the coast to seafolk who want to have houses on land. Our family gets money from that and we are doing very well. We also set up a pool for Chrissie and other mermaids who visit. We even had some mermaids from Japan come to the Olympics.”
Stephie told the children all about how Tom had taken over at the Olympics, how Chrissie and the Japanese mermaids had taken New York by storm and how the Colonel had taken the mermaids prisoner and run them right up in front of Tom so that Tom could rescue the mermaids and the children held prisoner. Aaron, my oldest said, “That can’t be a true story. Things don’t happen like that.”
Stephie smiled and said, “When your aunt comes with the pictures and the news clippings you can see for yourself. You know about the vampire that was here, don’t you? Was that a story?”
“I want to see the pictures,” Greta said. “Is Chrissie the mermaid in that funny thing with nets on it?”
Stephie smiled at me and said, “Hilda never said what she was having engraved on the shotgun. I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised. Yes, Greta, Chrissie is the mermaid in that picture.”
“Why did she do that? Was she taking fish out of the thing?”
“She was stuffing herself in the pot so that Tom would pull her up so that she could catch Tom. It didn’t work because Tom had bought a boat and was working on getting it ready and Chrissie’s dad was pulling the pots up, so he caught Chrissie instead.”
“Who took the picture?” Aaron asked. “Didn’t Chrissie know how to be discreet?”
“Chrissie wasn’t trying to be discreet because she knew who secret agent Mike was and was trying to wave Mike off from talking too much and revealing things that Chrissie didn’t want her dad knowing about quite yet.”
“Who was Mike an agent for?” Anna asked.
“Mother, among others. They sent Mike up to check Chrissie and the family out.Of course, that led to Mike getting caught, but it is getting late and I expect that your parents want you kids to get to bed. Boris and I have to catch a train in the morning so we will be on our way.”
“I’ll go with you, “ I said.
I walked with them toward the hotel and once we were out of the house I said, “I didn’t see Hilda and Bill with you. What are they up to?”
“Something with some other family. It is close by and they wanted to get what they are doing done as discreetly as they can.”
“So they figure that my sister is probably watching you and not somebody else.”
“She should be angry enough with me. Has she told you about the pictures?”
“The whole shop, if not the whole neighborhood knows about those pictures. You wouldn’t have a set would you?”
“Funny that you should bring it up. I did bring a set. Not safe for the children, but rather satisfying.”
She handed me the photos and they went inside the hotel.
Hilda.
Saturday November 12, 1932.
This was the second and last day of our reconaisance of the Red Lady’s home. I don’t think that she realized, or didn’t concern herself with the effects that all the keystones in her hall had on any fae with in a kilometer of the castle. The effect rendered the shield on the castle pointless even if they were strong shields, which these were certainly not. In fact the shields were so weak and threadworn that they may as well as not existed at all. Bill and I were not in Change and taking advantage of Diana’s skills and our shields to get ourselves in a position overlooking the castle. We had bought the last scope from the Indiana that Banerman’s had had and duplicated the camera rig that the boys used on their scope. Between that and the worn shields we had a pretty good picture of the castle’s routines. Kitty and ‘Hǔ had the small truck that we had hired and were using the suits to explore the castle’s water supply. I took another picture and Bill tapped my shoulder, “We have visitors.”
I quietly reached for my quiet gun, “Vampires or Twisted? ”
“No, they have the wolf Change.”
“What are they doing?”
“Sitting over there about fifty yards away. There are two of them. I think that they want to talk.”
“Then I think that we should.”
I put my gun away and we crept back from the ledge. When we were sure that we could not be seen, we walked over to where the wolves were waiting. The wolf on the right said, “Spikken de Deutch?”
“Ya, I do,” I replied. “My husband does not.”
“Then we should speak English then. So why are you here?”
“The Red Lady and her friends have been sending things at us and we are tired of dealing with them. So we are going to make the argument in as visible a way as possible that doing that was a very very bad idea.”
“You are from America. That is a long way to come to make a point.”
“They came a long way to try to kill us, take family members and turn them and other things.”
“We invite you and your two friends below to join with us and some others for supper. Go to the crossroads. You will be met.”
The two wolves ran off. Bill said, “This is very interesting. We have had rumors of wolves that pester the Red Lady and we know that she wants werewolves. I’m not to surprised that they would want to know about people hunting in their territory. They also have been watching us. Let’s collect the scope and head back to the truck.”
Since it was time to rendezvous in any case, Kitty and ‘Hǔ showed up about the time that we did. We started off and Bill said, “things became interesting up in the woods. Those wolves that we kept hearing about showed up. They want to meet for dinner. Here are the crossroads and there is a young man with a motorcycle.”
We slowed down and the young man got on the motorcycle and sped off. We followed and every time we fell back he slowed down until we caught up until he turned up what appeared to be a logging trail and we followed to a rather large cluster of cabins with gypsy caravans and some trucks. The young man pointed at a cabin and went to put his motorcycle away. We walked over to the cabin and the door opened. A man said, “Welcome fellow wolves and cats. Come, join us. Our meal will not be fancy, but I suspect that you will find it filling and the conversation enlightening.
We entered and the room was full of people at tables with food being passed around. There were some seats obviously being left for us and we sat down. The man said, “We don’t use names here for reasons that should be obvious. We have lives that we use to hide. But you can call me Mr. Farkas. So what brings you so far with such intent.”
“That is a long story, but it starts when my wife’s parents were taken, by vampires,” Bill said.
“That is an all too common story here. We would not go around the world chasing and destroying vampires simply because loves ones were lost.”
“Then a vampire Turned my wife and I was forced to kill her. But you are right, I did kill vampires and the other Twisted, but only when they came to where I lived.”
“So that explains your broken bond. What is your story, lady. You are obviously from a place far closer than he is.”
“I was taken by a monster called the Colonel, but I bonded with a man who had been Turned. The man was a royal fae and heir and when he was close to his keystone, the keystone drew him in but without me, who was rescued and trying to gt close to my bonded, the family could not control the affliction and were forced to destroy the monster.”
“We have certainly heard of the Colonel,though he seems to be gone of late.”
“I killed him,” Bill said.
“How?”
“The owner of the farm where I live ran the Colonel all over the farm with the Colonel trying to kill him, while I stood there and waited. The Colonel had five minutes to kill Eric and when his time was up, Eric set the Colonel up right were I was standing, waiting to shoot him the entire time and I did.”
“The colonel was wily and clever. It can’t have been that easy.”
“We had heard the same thing, but it was. Frankly we had given the Colonel everything he had asked for and an hour’s head start and he still came right back where we knew he would probably come, with werewolves that were unprepared and unarmed against people heavily armed with machine guns and rifles and a long history of dealing with enhanced adversaries. Wily and clever was not what the Colonel was, that day. His support man even told him about all of it, Yet there he was, sending unarmed people into a place where everybody had a gun. My boss’s grandsons’ Construct shoots are better planned and they are teenagers.”
“That explains why the vampires have been destroyed so easily, something for which we thank you.”
“Do you have a nest nearby? I can show you how to deal with it, with or without guns. If there is, I want to deal with it anyway.”
“The Red Lady will not tolerate competition for food so close to her domain. So no, there is no nest close by. I suspect that you know where the nests are in any case since you have destroyed the two near here.”
“I have a knack of finding them,but it helps that there are so many and monsters make mistakes like anybody else. This was the first time that I have had to deal with multiple nests. Also where I live, the nests and the lords are smart enough to bug out when a threat like me shows up. That nest in Nice was pathetic, wasn’t it, Hilda?”
“Yes it was. I scouted the villa and they didn’t have anybody watching the road right after they took the girl. Then you played them at their casino, made it abundantly clear that you were very dangerous and they just sat there in that villa waiting for dinner. They should not have been surprised when we showed up.”
“You are being careful here. I doubt that you were planning raid the Red Lady today or even soon.”
“There are reasons,” Bill said. “We need to be careful if for no other reason than the fact that she is a Master and the other three might feel compelled to take action as we withdraw. This isn’t like home where we had the resources and they do not.”
“There is also the Unbonded to be wary of.”
“She is supposed to be dead,” I said.
“So they say, and there are ways to fake death. The Unbonded is not to be taken lightly.”
“We know that she isn’t dead.”
I pulled some pictures out of my purse and handed them to Farkas. He looked at them and said, “Somebody took great risks to take these.”
“The lady’s niece and not really. The Unbonded was occupied and foolish. My sister in law resonated at the Unbonded’s funeral, which is how we were certain that her aunt was not dead even though she went to lengths to convince us that she was. The problem was that she used techniques that my family developed and knew what to watch out for, so we were certain that she was not dead even before the funeral. We also knew that the Nazi slug used the inn for certain activities so all we had to do was look for his car with those silly little flags parked in front of the inn and my sister went in through the inn, phased through the door and there they were.”
Farkas laughed. “I imagine that the Ubonded was rather irate after that. How did your sister conceal her Change?”
“She didn’t. She was never in Change in the first place. One advantage of having several interlinked families as large as ours is that if somebody comes up with a new way to use abilities,it gets spread around. So my sister used some things that a family member came up with and took advantage. In any case, the Unbonded is going to be a bit distracted all too soon.”
“How so?”
“How well do you know the Unbonded? Have you ever been in her presence or in the same room?”
“Some of have, pretendinging to be compelled, why?”
Is there anything about the Unbonded that stands out, any obsession?”
“She is always talking about her sister.”
“Then if her sister should come, I think that that will be a rather large distraction.”
“She is coming?”
“She should be arriving at the house even as we speak. Certainly by tomorrow. The Unbonded’s associate made the serious mistake of making her angry and she decided to take a direct hand with things.”
The table around me started to look worried. Farkas said, “The Unbonded will attempt to kill her.”
“I expect that she will. But for all the obsession that she has, she has no clue what she is dealing with. If one of you or more would like to come to the house and see for yourselves, you are welcome to come with us. Also we would like to hire some of you and your trucks for part of this.”
“We do not want to risk anything too dangerous.”
“We’ll handle the dangerous things. What we want is vehicles that people are used to seeing in the neighborhood, doing things that people expect. Where we come from, some of the family have become very good at doing things like that. Unfortunately they are occupied doing other things at this time and could not come. Do you have any troublemakers?”
Farkas grinned. “I think that that can be arranged.”
I looked around and there were about ten young boys in the room. “I will be right back.”
I went to the truck and my bag, pulled out the ten books that I had with me and went back inside. I plunked the books on the table and said, “I am giving these to the boys here, with one stipulation.”
“What is that?”
“That the boys here use these to make the Red Lady’s Life miserable.”
The boys must have known what the books were, because they rushed over and grabbed them. One of the boys asked Farkas a question, Farkas answered, the boy said in broken English, “Thank you, lady.”
They all sat down again and went back to eating. Farkas said, “We have seen those, but were never able to afford them. That was a wonderful gift. How did you know?”
“My brother in law wrote the books in the first place. I brought the ten since I knew that I would want some troublemakers.”
“I think that you have made some dedicated followers.”
“You all have been making the Red Lady’s life miserable for a very long time. Why?”
“She has something of ours and we want it back. So we work to try to force her to return it. But she is strong and we have little and are few, so taking the risk has not been justified. But we do what we can with small harassments. The Unbonded sends things to chase us and we run, destroy them or they kill some of us.”
“When we come back, I will show you my techniques for dealing with things like that,” Bill said. “A twisted may seem strong, but they have weakneses that can be exploited and I have seen even normals defeat them easily. Despair is the Twisted’s greatest ally. Think and act, force him to make mistakes and use what you have to hand and they will go down. Despair and you have already lost.”
“You seem very certain of yourself. Have you ever been in the position of facing despair?”
“More often than I care to think about. When my wife’s parents were taken by vampires, when my wife was Turned and begging me to kill her. In the room with only a gun without special rounds facing the vampire lord that had Turned my wife. He thought that he could force me to despair. He thought that he was safe in his shields and invisibility and could toy with me. Instead, I managed to use the fact that the floor was dusty to see where he was, stay still, let him pass me and blow his head off. That was my first vampire lord. I learned two things that night. One is to never give in to despair and two, if you blow something’s head off, it doesn’t matter if you have special rounds or not. It isn’t going to regenerate. A load of buck through the bottom of the head is rather permanent.”
We finished dinner and as we went to leave, Farkas followed us out. “That was enlightening for all of us. We cannot send some body with you tonight, but where are you staying. We will have somebody come soon.”
I pulled out my notebook, wrote down the address of the estate and the train station. “Be careful. It is a Nazi friendly area and they are around. They have not molested us because we are American, but they might go for you.”
“We have dealt with such things before. I think that you must go our you will miss your train.”
We drove to the station dropped the truck off and got on the train.
Greta.
Saturday November 12 – Sunday November 13, 1932.
We arrived Saturday afternoon at the train station that I had left so long ago. The cars were waiting and whisked Eric, Jeanette, Tony and I in one car and Mary, Roger, Sal and Sillia in another. We passed through the gate that I remembered and up to the house. When we arrived, A man, who must be Herr Shultz came out with Jean, a boy and a girl. The man said “Welcome to the house, Frau Benton. We have missed you.”
“Jorgie!, you grew up!”

“One does.
“Well the place still looks as it did when I left so long ago. I hope that Hans hasn’t been making too much of a nuisance out of himself.”
“Hilda and Stephie have been handling him quite well.”
“Where are my wayward daughters?”
“Stephie went to deliver your rather amazing gift to your brother and Hilda and Bill went with that rather remarkable woman and her friend someplace. Stephie should be here later this afternoon and I think that the others should be back tomorrow.”
“Jorge, this is my husband Eric. You have been corresponding with him and we both have enjoyed your letters. We want to invite you to the farm for Christmas this year.”
“I am not sure that I can afford to come.”
“We will pay for that. It’s business and we have to have some costs to write off against my sons and grandson’s successes this year.”
“They have been successful?”
“Let’s go inside and we will show you the pictures. We have a lot of them. Let me introduce you all to everybody.”
We had introductions all around and went inside. Sillia said to Gisselle, “Greta tells me that you have a tail coming. I had one and will have it when my girl grows up.”
“You don’t have one now.”
“Well I decided to come up top so that we can live in our house and it is easier without. But I miss it somewhat and it is a wonderful thing to be one with the water.”
“How did you meet your bonded?”
“Like you and Paul here. We grew up next door to each other. But we moved away, Sal had his work and when I Changed, mother and I moved to the bower.”
“We don’t have a bower anymore.”
“Neither did Sal’s mother. At least she didn’t want to stay in it because she had two daughters and the older one Changed. So they made other arrangements. It turns out that a lot of seafolk have made other arrangements. Why don’t we have a chat about those and when Sal and I meet with your mother,we will have a longer chat. Change shouldn’t be seen as a burden.”
Sillia took the girl and Paul aside and started to tell them about her life and the stories of the family. Sal came to me and said. “Herr Shultz and I were talking about the car. I had wondered about it, since it seemed unusual that a new fancy car like that Bugatti would be bought by the estate. I understand the two Mercedes but the Bugatti made no sense. It has an aversion and Boris lifted it before he left and Herr Shultz and Boris looked at the registration. The car is registered to your sister. I suspect that she put it here when she was going to pull her little stunt and didn’t think that whoever came would notice it.”
I grinned. “You can borrow my dead sister’s car. After all, she is dead, my brother and I are next of kin and I have no problem loaning you a car. Of course my sister doesn’t know what you do for cars. Duesenberg thinks that you are their greatest advertiser.”
“I know. They sent a photographer to get pictures of the car and me. They say that I sell better than movie stars.”
“Well you do exciting, dangerous and strange things and help people. Notorious sells and you are notorious.”
Paul wanted to know about Andy, so I brought out the large tunk of picture albums that I had brought with me and showed Paul the pictures of Andy and my other grandchildren and the things that they did. He looked at the picture of Katherine and looked at his sister and said, “Jeanette, have you visited the stable where this horse was bred?”

“Not yet. Stephie and I were supposed to, but we were busy getting ready for this, so we will go after this is resolved.”
Boris and Stephie walked in. She came over and hugged me. “Uncle liked his present.”
“Tom had the other four brought down. Dom, Lou and Ed are getting very nice Christmas presents this year.”
“Good. You wouldn’t believe what it took to get it through customs. The agent couldn’t slobber over it enough. It is a good thing that I will not be doing a lot of travelling, because every time I go through customs, they are going to be looking for guns.”
“I didn’t have any trouble.”
“You didn’t have a royal and the family guns don’t have the LT Custom trademark on the case. It was just another pistol as far as they were concerned. But I had a royal. Who is getting the last 9mm.”
“Tom had to think about and then Jim Miller wanted an interview about his favorite topic.”
“Us and Tom and Larry’s business. Tom is giving him the last royal? He deserves it, since he started the whole thing in the first place. I wonder if that is why Tom stopped giving them away.”
“That may have been part of it. Tom made the guns because Suki was nattering Tochi about being able to protect himself and turned on Tom and told him to make a special gun for Tochi so he would have it. Then Tom’s friend Hakim’s wife heard about it and wanted one too. So Tom made that batch and marked them so that Larry would know that work on them came out of Tom’s account and was not billed. Did my brother like his gift?”
“Very much so.”
It was dinner and Stephie told us all about my brother and his seemingly wonderful children all through dinner. Then we had a wonderful evening as Eric and I took Jorge through the pictures of the farm, the inn and rest.
Sunday, Eric and I went to the church where I had gone as a girl and some of the people remembered me as a girl and were happy to meet Eric at last. Then it was back to the estate where Bill and Hilda showed up with Kitty and ‘Hǔ. We had lunch and then, Paul, Bill and Boris went on a little hunt. They might bring back a wild pig, but they were really hunting for my sister. Stephie mentioned that my sister had complained that Stephie was sleeping in my sister’s room so we checked the staff for compulsions, and one of the maids and Andre had them. Since they were light and not a big deal once we knew about them, we left them.
I had hoped that Hans wouldn’t bother us until Monday, but his car drove up the driveway and he returned the salute from his driver and strutted up to the house. He saluted again and said “Heil Hitler!”
“Hello Hans. I see that your habit of running with bad crowds has not changed. This is my husband, Eric.”
“Greta, why are you here!?”
“Harvest was over and my daughter mentioned that you were bullying the staff and messing up my planned disposition of the property, so I came to manage it myself with Eric. When we are done, we will take a tour of Europe. We can do that now that our children can manage the farm and the businesses.”
Sal came up behind us and said, “Greta, who is this?”
“Sal, this is Hans Steiger, who plays with my sister.”
“Is that who he is? I didn’t recognize him with his clothes on. Herr Steiger, your picture was very entertaining in my office. Greta, Sillia and I are taking the Bugatti for a spin around town and the country this afternoon. We should be back for dinner.”
He headed down the step to the driveway where a smiling Andre had the car waiting and drove off.
Hans turned to me and said, “Who is that? Why is he taking Hannah’s car?”
“Hannah is supposed to be dead and my brother and I are next of kin. I said in New York that he could have the car. As for who he is, you and your bosses can find that out if you look a bit. He’s going to shoot some trouble for some associates of Jeanette’s parents.”
“What is his office and how did they get my picture!?”
“I’m not going to tell you and they got the picture because I gave the pictures to them. Sal’s office and the family have been friends and partners for a very long time. Hannah can guess who they are and why. Suffice to say that my sister’s friends’ activities in our neighborhood have attracted the attention of some people that sister really should have been concerned about angering. But my sister never came over and talked things out with me. Just just sent her things, leaving Eric and I to deal with the mess. Since my sister gave us an excuse, we came over to deal with some things. Good day, Hans.”
We left Hans standing there and went on with our day.
Gert.
Monday November 13, 1932.
The word of my sister’s gift had gone around town very quickly Sunday and my office had been full of gunmasters wanting to see it by Monday morning. Of course a rather large box of 9mm cartridges showed up and we took my niece’s admonishment to fire the pistol to heart. In a way it was depressing as the pistol was wonderful. We did not experience a single jam or malfunction. When, at last, it was time for lunch, the pistol went back in the case and we went to lunch. Of course the topic of lunch was how we could convince Larry and Tom to visit and admonishing me to take extra care with my commission. There was a determination to not be seen as second best and that pistol presented a challenge that we were determined to meet.
After lunch, of course she showed up. “Sister is here!”
“She is? Stephie did not mention that she was coming. Good, so I will meet with her on Wednesday as well as Stephie.”
“You must not!”
“Why not? At this point, they very well know that I am alive and Greta has given me a truly royal gift.”
“She gave you a gun. You have always liked guns and she knew that. It’s one of those LT Customs probably. You probably liked that.”
“Very much so. So did all the other masters in town. Greta has put me in an elite circle of princes, Presidents and generals. I know that you read the magazines, especially Mr. Miller’s articles. So you know what the gift was.”
“I could kill you!”
I put my hand above the desk with Tom’s pistol in it. “Then this will be used for its intended purpose. Make no mistake. I will protect me and mine. I doubt that you could compel me to suicide and if I even feel a twinge of something else, you will die. Since you are already officially dead, that just makes things easier. In any case this is the last time that you will threaten me. Your Mistress’s children are no longer in the neighborhood and you don’t have any more associates since you cut yourself off by faking your death. So don’t bother me with threats and we, the family have decided to no longer coddle you. Even without the keystone, we are going to meet with my sister and work things out. If you want to be a part, you may be welcome, but that depends on Greta.
In any case, you have apparently worn out Greta’s patience. I suspect that she was content to ignore what you were doing and was busy dealing with her growing family and the challenges that the family faced. Meanwhile you and your associates were sowing the wind. Now you will be facing the storm that you sowed. You were living in a bubble and didn’t see what you were doing, including to us, your own family. Well the family is going to put a pin in that bubble, one way or another. Sister, I have this work and since it is for family, I want to make it worthy of the family. So I must ask you to go. I will see you later this week if that is your decision.”
She left. That had felt good. I should have pointed a gun at my sister a long time ago.
Stephie.
Tuesday November 14, 1932.
Jeanette and I were going around the house with mother and poking into corners ahead of Steiger’s flunkies. Of course mother knew of some discreet things that Steiger should not even know about. Fortunately, Gert had already taken the family artifact with him when he had taken all his things after he had bonded and had a house of his own. At least we were fairly sure that Gert had taken it and not Hannah. Hannah had seemed to leave her and family things at the house even though she had an apartment in Cologne. For the time being we were not planning a raid and clearing the place out.
One thing that we kept finding in various coners of the house was armada chests. Back in the day, our relatives had travelled and brought back treasures that requied the chests. Then the chest stayed as there was no point in taking them with you when you started your travels. Herr Shultz came up and I said, Jorge, just how many of these chest are there?”
“Why?”
“Could we arrange for Herr Steiger’s people to make a mistake in counting these?”
He grinned. “I think that we can play musical chest and lose some.”
“I don’t want to lose some, I want three extra chests to be counted.”
“That could make things difficult in the final count unless the three extra chests are actually here. Will they be?”
“I’m not going to say, but Tom made some chests like these when he was figuring out how to make the final treasure chest for my birthday.”
“I think I see, somewhat. You want our chests to cover for the special chests that you are using for something else. We can arrange for some of these to be counted twice. After all, who would move something like this.”
We all grinned. Things were falling together. We have been a bit anxious that the chests were going to be obvious. That was now resolved. We could slip the chests with the keystones in amongst the chests that we were going to take with us filled the things that we wanted with Herr Stieger watching us.
As we were poking around I asked mother, “I haven’t asked, but where is the gun locker. There is one, isn’t there.”
“There is. I don’t know what Gert left. Why don’t we see.”
We walked over to a door that I hadn’t paid much attention to, mother touched it and it opened. The door opened and the walls were covered with fine pieces dating back to the Sixteenth Century. I turned to mother, “These go with us.”
“Yes, of course. We’ll talk to Gert and see what he wants.”
“This room has an aversion on it. There is a young man here who is a gun enthusiast and he did not know about this room.”
“Yes. This is all black powder in any case.”
I pulled a flintlock rifle off the wall. “We are going to have so much fun with these.”
“When we get them home. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
“Did Gert have a shop?”
“Yes, next to the stables. But why don’t we wait until he gets here.”
“Ok.”
When we left the room, Hilda caught up with us with two young men and a young lady. “There you are! This is Nehimiah, Ken and Miri. They are part of a family we met recently. They have been pestering somebody that deserves it. What is here?”
Mother said, “Look inside.”
Hilda took a peek, closed the door and said, “We will have to come back later. These three are here to discuss some coordination. Mother, Stephie and I should talk with them rather discreetly. Is there someplace where we can have a chat?”
Mother thought about it and said, “Use the workroom. I don’t think that Herr Steiger’s people have been using it and there is no reason for them to go there. I don’t think that the room is shielded, but the kitchen is on the other side and I doubt the staff will put up with Steiger’s people in the kitchen for very long.”
Steiger’s goons had not made any friends with the staff with their constant demands and making people fetch and carry. They insisted that the staff bring things to the room where they were working. I said to mother, “that will work.”
Hilda and I went to the workroom and sat down with the three. Hilda said, “This is my sister in law, Stephie. She is my partner and competitor most of the time.”
Nehimiah said, “You were not with Hilda and Bill the other day. The cats were. What were you doing?”
“Presenting a gift to my uncle and providing distraction for my aunt. She is rather annoyed that I took some pictures a couple of weeks ago. Especially since she was supposed to be dead and I told mother about her.”
The three smiled, “The pictures that we were shown the other day. That was a worthy effort, especially on the Unbonded.”
“It was fun, except for my aunt’s choice in partners. I mean seriously, a slug like that.”
“Do you do that sort of thing often?”
“Hilda, have you been telling on me?”
“Perhaps somewhat. I wasn’t even there when you and Tom were at your worst,so I don’t know all of it.”
Miri asked, “Can you really phase without Change?”
“It was a trick some relatives came up with. They are professional spies. We know that and some others. If you see them, they may be willing to exchange tricks for that.”
“They are here?”
“Mother hasn’t said, and they may or may not be involved. But we are keeping certain things separate to a certain extent. That was, for instance, why I went to see my uncle while the others were looking into the Red Lady. As for my relatives, they like to be discreet about things and use a cover. I would keep an eye out for things happening.”
“Why do you want to use our trucks. Grandfather wanted to know.”
“Because when the time comes, the other side may be looking for vehicles that are out of place. I did the same thing recently against some relatives. The cousin on the other side was looking for a strange car and we borrowed one that the whole town knew about and raided the family vault.”
“So your family is at war with itself?”
“By no means. But we do like to challenge ourselves and in this case, Kitty and ‘Hǔ were on one side and my brother and his wife were on the other. But since Kitty had not bonded with ‘Hǔ when everything started, Chrissie set up with her uncles and other relatives to keep ‘Hǔ and his father from removing an object that he wanted from the vault. After Kitty bonded, that meant that family rules were in effect and Kitty could balance things out. So she recruited me and some others and we hit the vault and took the box. Of course the thing that ‘Hǔ’s father wanted was not in the vault as my brother had hidden it in plain sight where we saw it several times and the box in the vault was the start of his masterwork and my birthday present. Everybody enjoyed it with the exception of some mangy foxes who have been dumped back home in a garbage pile in China by this point.”
“Could the Unbonded invoke family rules?”
“Not at as this point. Maybe if she had before faking her death, but she has made herself anathema with so many of the family at this point that no one is going to cooperate with her and she is playing this as a battle and not as family fun and games. She is really trying to hurt mother. She has also been cooperating and assisting the monsters that hurt our family and taken the keystone of my family here and others, many others. If she were to return the keystones, all of them, then perhaps she could ask for redemption.”
“Is that what you are doing? Going after your keystone?”
“Our keystones are secure at home. On the other hand the Red Lady and the other Masters have been aflicting us for a long time, including Turning my brother who was Hilda’s bonded and the consequences of that. The monster that was responsible for that is dead and since the Red Lady has something that belongs to mother, we want it back.”
“And the other stones?”
“I imagine that there are people missing some stolen goods. A good persons should make an effort to seen that they are returned or placed in safekeeping until their owners can be found.”
“So what do you want from us?”
“Do you have any fae that can fly?”
“Yes, but we don’t go over the castle unless it is important.”
“Good,”Hilda said. “If we give you a camera,could you arrange a flight or two. We have some pictures already but some overhead pictures will help. Also is there any Change that Swims in fresh water?”
“Yes,but they can be hard to talk to. They have their place in the lake and their businesses along the lake and don’t talk with us very much. On the other hand the Unbonded took their keystone too. They do rescue people that fall in the lake and the local villagers like them and protect them somewhat, so they are not as exposed as we are.”
“Ok, what we want from you is the trucks when we need them, some harrasment using Tom’s things. We may send an expert who we will introduce you to to help with that. In fact, Hilda I think we should bring Tony and Jeanette in on this now.”
“I agree. Let me go get them.”
Hilda went to get Jeanette and Tony and Miri asked, “Do you have any children, lady?”
“Yes, three. Katherine, Ivan and Leonard. They are at a special school being watched over by my brother in case The Red Lady is looking for another Golden Butterfly. It turns out that we were a bit mistaken about that, but I wanted to take some precautions. So my children are with friends and relatives having a wonderful time, probably.”
“So why are you here?”
“Because it is my responsibility and I can do what needs to be done. You can see what happened here in Europe where many of the fae were killed, the keystones taken or destroyed and the rest, like you, scattered. We were we live were faced with the same things and luckily we were able to stop it before the monster nests flourished and destroyed us. But if we do not make absolutely clear that we, the fae of America will no longer stand idly and wait for the sendings to infiltrate, then we ultimately will end up the way things did here. So we are dealing with them masters here.”
“What if they send soldiers to arrest you?”
“That is where we have an advantage.If they send soldiers to arrest us, as Americans, we have the right to contact our government and trust me, the people will not like what will happen when certain people discover that we are arrested. In any case, there are other things going on and we have a certain degree of influence thanks to the actions of monster like the Colonel. Herr Steiger has people above him and they will hesitate and we can take advantage. In any case, we are being careful with this. For that matter, If Herr Steiger is not a total idiot, he will understand that that picture I took is in the hands of people that will make it public if we were to have something happen to us. As long as we are mostly cooperating with what he think we are cooperating with he will not push too hard.”
“We noticed that you were letting them pack up the house,but not take anything away.”
“They will have their chance. After all, we don’t have the capability to take everything away ourselves. Jakals know that they will have their chance at the caracasse when the lionstake their share. Steiger and my aunt are sure that we will be forced to leave almost everything and they can swoop in and take it.”
Hilda brought Tony and Jeanette in. I said, “This is Tony and his bonded, Jeanette. As far as I know, except for some French classes and some German from mother. So Jeanette, who has the gift of communication will go with him. Tony is one of our resident troublemakers.”
Tony grinned. “Aunt Stephie don’t give everything away. They don’t know me yet.”
I looked at Tony. “I see that you know more German than I thought you did.”
“After being yelled at by grandmother all these years and all the new relatives. It was learn or be snowed under.”
Nehimiah said. “We should go. We need to return and report. When you return to the castle you will be met.”
The three left and Hilda said, “Let’s explore that gun locker. We haven’t done much with black powder for a long time. Maybe we can try out some pieces this week.”

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