The golden Butterfly, Chapter 42, Part 1

Here is the first part of the end of the Golden Butterfly. Enjoy.

Chapter 42.
The Chancellor.
Monday December 12, 1932.
The meeting was starting. The two ladies were rather somber and the other two seemed to be waiting for the axe to fall on them when the time came. The German Master wanted a resolution that no action be taken against the Bentons unless unaminously agreed upon. Milady Elizabeth cried out, “But that man killed my children!”
“He has done that. Milady Gwynne, you have the young man hostage. Do you think that you can keep him?”
“That all depends. Louis thinks that he has potential for someone so young. He was a bit surprised that the young man hadn’t tried to just run. We will see. Louis thinks that the young man will make an attempt this morning. If that is so, he may pass through here.”
“Where is the rest of the family, Chancellor?”
“I have no idea, at present. They left the Cote De Azure.”
The Red Lady said, “There is one thing I want to make clear. My Aide’s daughter is to be mine.”
The Russian Master laughed. “So where did the child come from?”
“I am not sure. The Butterfly was very careful not to reveal the girl to me. One of my children was looking for her with one of yours, Gwynne.”
“My daughter told me about that. The two had been looking for some time. They wanted the girl for the power of the recruitment.”
“If your daughter took her we would lose her power. She would make a remarkable recruitment. I am sorry about the death of your other daughter.”
“The sea will take what it desires. The Shark Change had its risks and the girls knew it. They saw the Change as a path to power and it has been, for them. The males have not had the luxury of a long life.”
“Where is your daughter now?”
“I don’t know. She was supposed to be here at the town house.”
A messenger brought a message to me. It was from Louis at the Lady’s house. I went over and handed it to her. “It looks like Louis entertained himself, your neighbor lost some people and avoided an encounter with the Hunter. The youngsters escaped this morning. Apparently Eric and Greta had some Fae children with them and your neighbor’s family went after them, with the usual consequences.”
“I will have to get the whole story from Louis when I return home. At least they didn’t set bombs off this time.”
“You don’t seem to be too upset that the two escaped.”
“I’m not. Louis has been with me a long time, as has Pierre and it takes quite a bit to challenge him. He says that the only reason the two did not manage to escape fully was that they stopped to deal with one of my neighbors hunting in the village, something they are not supposed to do. I would speak to my neighbor strongly about that, but she is likely to find that she has other problems unless she moves. I think that I will advise Elizabeth to tell her child to do so.”
She went over and talked with the Lady Elizabeth who came over to me and said, “I thought that the Hunter was being hunted.”
“By your aide. Jean and his family are severing their relationship with us because of the attempt on the son’s bonded and the fact that the daughter was taken hostage. The two boys are already at sea, their parents are heading to a ship and the girl will join them there.”
Another message arrived, this one from a discreet contact that I maintained near the Colonel’s, now the Baroness’s domain. I looked at it and it was very bad news indeed. I handed the message to the Lady. She frowned. “Most of the Colonel’s community has left. That is a bit of a setback. I think I see now. The baroness has relatives over there in America, doesn’t she?”
“Yes. Her son in law is Hilda’s brother and her daughter is bonded to the werewolf prince across the lake. I think we can take it for granted that there are other relationships.”
“That explains much. The fuss that the Bentons raised at the house, the theft of the keystones and the trouble down on the Cote De Azure were all cover for this, where they were moving a large community. As well as all the Creators and some others, more than likely. I have not seen a scheme this brilliant in centuries. The random attacks on the lady’s children that were not, the raid on Elizabeth’s castle and my home that were designed to enrage us and the operation on the Cote De Azure, all of them attracted our attention and allowed the Baroness to plan and evacuate. The interesting thing is that the various parts did not seem to be working together.”
“I’m not sure that they were. At least not in close coordination. The people down on the Cote called the Troubleshooter in after Bill destroyed the family down there, Milady Hannah wanted her sister and her family here so that she could turn her daughter over and I think that the raid and removing the keystones was the Old Man Of The Cape and his family wanting to poke us in the eye and create dissention and chaos amongst us.”
“That was what happened.”
Now that the crisis had passed, the mood seemed to be upbeat. Somehow the fact that the population of the Baroness’s domain had left and the fact that all the Creators on the continent had left with them hadn’t quite resonated with the German and Russian Masters and the ladies seemed at least happy that the damage had not been complete. None of them seemed to think very much about the fact that their antagonists might come back. After dinner, we all attended the circus where a troupe of Chinese acrobats provided a wonderful show. The lion dance and the dragons almost seemed to be real. I was looking around during the intermission and there in a box was a man in a white suit with a woman and our spy and another man. He must have seen me looking as he gave a little wave. Jean and a woman who must have been his bonded joined them as the light went back down and the show continued with the impresario introducing the magical acts. The show ended with a small woman landing on the impresario’s shoulders, bending and grabbing a kiss as the rest of the troupe jumped and danced across the stage to a clapping crowd. I turned to the Milady Gwynne and said, “That was wonderful. Did you find them?”
“No, Enrique was approached by Leopold, the impresario some time ago for a limted engagement this week. Were those your people with that man in the White suit?”
“Yes, but I don’t know who he was. Should I find out?”
“It is probably not a huge concern. Find out at your leisure.”
I decided that I was going to. I had a nasty suspicion about who it had been and the possibility that he had been here all along, unseen, frightened me more than a little bit. Of course, I could not be blamed for missing him if the Masters hadn’t been paying attention. I hadn’t known that Olivia was here, nor who the man with her was. If Olivia had bonded, the question would have to be with who and when. I decided if I could catch up with Jean and Olivia, now that the show was over. With that in mind, I went downstairs to the lobby where the Impresario and the woman who had kissed him were talking to the man in the white suit, Jean, his bonded, Olivia and the other man and another woman. Jean saw me and came over to me as I picked up a glass of wine. “I wondered if you would pick up on him.”
“Who is he?”
“I think you know.”
“How long has he been here?”
“I don’t know. We just met for this.”
“So there is something else going on.”
“I wouldn’t know about anything other than what has already happened.”
“Some people might feel a bit betrayed.”
“If my association had been voluntary, that might be the case. My loyalty was always that of somebody with their family held hostage. That has ended, for me and Olivia. Our families have left.”
“And mine?”
“I wouldn’t know. But Bill did take care of the vampire in your neighborhood.”
“True. It would be difficult for somebody in my position to just disappear, but as I said to the young man, if my family can be away, that would be enough.”
“Do you want me to introduce you to him?”
“I think not. I think that I must return before I am missed.”
“Very well. Au Voire.”
I put the glass down and returned to the party in the box. Milady Gwynne saw me and said, “So who was he?”
“Who I suspected. What he did and why he is here is a bit of a mystery. I do know that it is not over and whatever is going on is going to be subtle. We will all have to be wary going forward.”
“We could send somebody to destroy him.”
“That would almost certainly not work out well. For one thing doing that would unleash his son in law upon us. You and the other lady rely on certain relationships somewhat and those relationships would be at risk if you were to go after that man so publically. There is also the very good chance that it would not work in any case. I think that I will return to my hotel.”
If ‘Mr. White’ was actually showing himself, then whatever he was up to was already in motion, someplace else. I was stuck in the middle regardless, and I had very few resources to change anything at this point. All of the assets in the States were dead and most of my people had been coopted by the other side. I thought about that as I prepared for bed.
Hilda.
Monday December 12, 1932.
Bill and I returned in the late afternoon to poke the lady and see what pursuit we were likely to have with with the little dragons and Little Tiger’s and Jimmy’s people. Unfortunately the lady and most of the nest had already left by the time we got there. Louis was standing there looking at the empty chateau when we drove up. Bill looked at Louis and I and said, “This is not good.”
Louis looked at us and said, “I hope that you are not coming to the same conclusion that I have. You are thinking about a grand hunt, aren’t you?”
“That is exactly what I am thinking about. I have been on the wrong side of a grand hunt before and it was messy.”
I looked at the two and said, “What is a grand hunt?”
Bill frowned“When you have a collection of very high fae and a vampire picks up on it, they may go into a sort of frenzy. That was what happened with my in laws when that vampire king went after them. They had just rescued a bunch of fae kids from the kind of place that Sal likes to shut down. The king probably thought of the place as his private reserve and went into a fit. He hit my in laws with most of his things and they, and some good friends died so that Helen and I could get the kids out, which we did, for the most part. But the thing wouldn’t stop and chased us upstate where I managed to get the kids parked with some friends and Helen and I joined up with Eric. The thing found us, Turned Helen and came after me a bit afterwards.”
“What happened to the children?” Louis asked.
“They grew up like all the rest of them. They have bonds and kids now for the most part and do just fine. Some of them are part of the family and others moved off, but they still send mail. Hilda knows most of them.”
“Better than I like, since I had to deal with some of them back when I first started. But Bill is right about them settling down for the most part and several of them have been deputies. We lost two of them last year to some doppelgangers.”
Bill frowned. “I think that we need to get going. The lady’s carriage is still here, but they may have had cars and guessed where Greta was taking the kids. I also suspect that the Red Lady wants one kid in particular.”
“Milady Hannah’s, I suspect,” Louis said. ‘There was some talk of recruitment.”
“That doesn’t surprise me one bit,” I replied. “While I don’t know who the father was, I can’t imagine that Hannah would have had a relationship with somebody who was a weak fae. Play around, yes. Obtain comfort from Hans, that I can see, but a real relationship that would allow a child, no. Whoever the man was, since the Colonel went after him, he was a very strong man.”
Bill collected everybody and we were off to Le Havre. I just hoped that we weren’t too late.

Jean.
Tuesday December 13, 1932.
After the circus last night, we took the night train to La Havre. My sister and Etienne were joining us there. So was Olivia’s family. We were meeting with Eric and Greta, along with all the rest before they left. Glinde and I had a wonderful breakfast with Eli and Theresa. Shortly after breakfast at the hotel, Glinde and I went to find Eric and Greta with Noro and Mary. Noro wanted to get the story that he hadn’t been able to yesterday about the events at the house. I also wanted to touch base with my niece and my sister and make sure that thing were ready to go for them. Glinde and I were staying at the house in Nice for a time since we didn’t need to leave as quickly. At this point, once my sister was gone, the Master’s hold over me was gone as well and I was free to take what actions I chose. In any case the German and Russian Masters were about to discover that they had not been left out in the fun and games. I hoped that they had been paying attention, but I suspected that they hadn’t.
When I had talked with Noro during the show last night, he had hinted that there were other things that were going to come about in the near future. He wouldn’t say what, but I imagine that the Eastern masters were not going to be happy with what was coming their way. We entered the hotel where the lobby was full of kids being watched over by Tony and a lady that seemed to be a Construct. Glinde and Mary laughed as Tony and the lady got the kids organinzed and marched the parade off to see the city. Greta was watching them as they left and said, “Those two seem to have things under control.”
I looked over the kids and one seemed to be missing. “Where’s Gretel?”
“With Tony and Jeanette, shopping for Christmas presents. I figured that she would be safer that way and that gives Rosa some time with her brother.”
“Rosa is letting Tony and Jeanette handle Gretel?”
“She knows that a Charge needs space to grow. She also trusts Tony and Jeanette’s abilities and knows that both of them will go to extreme measures to protect Gretel.”
“What if it’s your sister? Milady Elizabeth may have Called her last night. I can’t be sure where your sister was and the Masters did have the meeting.”
“If the desire is running high, then that is all the more reason for Tony and Jeanette to be guarding Gretel rather than Rosa. Rosa will not injure my sister, but Tony will not hesitate.”
“Where is Bill?”
“I don’t know. He and Hilda were staying in Paris rather than seeing us off. I think that he wants another shot at that old vampire once we are gone. In any case I think that he’s concerned that the lady and her family will go on a great hunt.”
“I don’t think that lady Elizabeth would allow that. The consequences would be dire as the lady Gwynne protects the farms and the fae families and relies on them for things.”
“That excellent wine among other things, more than likely.”
“Yes. You’ve been to the inn, then?”
“I expect that she made sure that you gave a bottle to your sister.”
“I did. How many cases did you buy?”
“Enough for a bit. I sent a wire ahead to Joe and certain things have been arranged.”
“I shouldn’t have been surprised.”
I wasn’t going to ask just how things were arranged. I expected that there would be a discreet boat and some things would be transferred. It was not my concern in any case. I continued. “There are other things that the lady depends on and having a viable fae community makes things easier for the lady. She does take some of the energy and use it, but she doesn’t actually feed off of the local fae.”
“She does come up with things like the Shark Change, which does require such feeding. I think that it might be politic to tell the Chancellor that Tom will take it rather personally if the lady should inflict something like that on the world again.”
“So the Change is extinct?”
“Sal was tracking the last seed and chased her here, yesterday. She went to the house here in Normandy, had some potential recruits for a party and apparently didn’t think that Sal was right behind her. Steve and Sal dealt with her yesterday.”
“So Liezel is dead?”
“You will have to ask Sal, but I believe so.”
Sal came into the lobby with Sillia and I turned to him and said “Liezel is dead?”
“She went into Change at a place that she had in Cabourg last night when the police arrived with me and a warrant. She didn’t make it to the water, not that making it to the water would have helped her. So she died in Change like the others.”
“That is the end of the Shark Change, then?”
“I hope so, but there may have been some more pods that we never saw. We never looked into the Agean and the only bower left there is the one that you know of.”
“Have you talked with them?”
“No, but Bill has and as far as I know the ship is due to return to Thesolonika any day now.”
“That is good to know. I am glad that things are settling down for them as well. I was a bit concerned about them.”
Noro came in and said, “I wouldn’t be. I have talked with the king there and he’s already made some good connections and had quite a bit up top already. That’s probably why his bower survived when the rest were destroyed. He’s also more than a little bit annoyed that the Masters hung his nephews out to dry like that during the thing with the Black Dragon.”
“You talked with them about that, then?”
“Yes. For one thing, I wanted to make sure that the people there knew what had happened from somebody who had been there first hand and second, I wanted to make sure that they knew that the Masters had failed so badly.”
There was probably more to that, but I wasn’t going to ask too many questions. The Black Dragon had had a devise with him and the devise, while useless without the artifacts to power it could have been bad news if the artifacts were collected in one place. That was probably why Jim and Adelle were here.

Tony.
Tuesday December 13, 1932.
Gretel wanted to attend mass before we started the voyage and so Jeanette and I took her to the Cathedral. I sat in back and one of the friars asked, “Protestant?”
“From America, brother. We do not have very many Catholics in Vermont and my family has been a member of the local church since it was founded.”
“Welcome in any case. In the end we are all one in the eyes of god. “
“There have been all too many that don’t seem to feel that way.”
“True, and we have learned to our sorrow the error of the that.”
I did not take communion and just enjoyed the service, even it had a great deal more panaply than I was used to. It was a good thing that Pastor Brown wasn’t here or he would be getting ideas. He and our music director were pushing Bob and Scott to do something for Christmas and I think he was more than a bit annoyed that Uncle Tom had left again just as he started to do things again. Chrissie may have been part of that as well, since her rather amazing social skills would be an asset to any parish. Grandmother had to carry the brunt of it, but all she could say was that the family down there needed Uncle Tom and he had decided to make his home with them. In any case, I hadn’t seen pastor Brown doing anything to make Uncle Tom welcome when he should have. He as was almost as bad as Grandfather’s sisters and he didn’t have the excuse of being fae and family.
The service ended and I joined Gretel and Jeanette for a walk about the city. We went over to the Rou de Paris so that Gretel and Jeanette could do some Christmas shopping for the family in Vermont. The were looking for things that were uniquely French. So were my Uncle Roger and Aunt Mary, but we were separated fairly quickly. We stopped at a jewelery store where there were some wonderful broaches that almost seemed to be of the fae and were obviously made by fae, as they were of ladies with wings and things that looked like people in various Changes. Jeanette bought several things and Gretel found a tiny golden butterfly and bought it for her mother. I bought a broach of a fairy for grandmother, who would love it. As we left the store, there seemed to be a guy who didn’t seem to be shopping.
Then it was on down the street looking in books, cheeses and whatever else inspired us. As we were leaving a store where I found a travel book about France for Uncle Tom and Chrissie, I looked around and saw the same guy that had caught my eye earlier. I quietly said to Jeanette, “If I click my initials like you saw me do at the school, grab the next tram and get away with Gretel. Go directly to the hotel. I will try to be right behind you, but I will cover your exit.”
“Is something bothering you?”
“There’s a character that seems to be following us. It’s a bit crowded and I don’t know what they have set up. At least this time, I have my gun, but it’s only a .38 and I only have one magazine. If these guys are fae and dark, that will go very fast if I miss.”
We reached the end of the street, where the there was the quay with more shops, cafes and bars for the steamers that came and went across the channel. The tide was low and the smokestacks of the steamers seemed barerly to clear the sheds along the quay. Jeanette wanted some postcards and a picture book that she knew that she could buy from a shop that she knew about. As the girls went inside, I stayed near the door looking at some books that were on tables outside. The guy I had seen before had a friend. They seemed to be covering the way to the Rou de Paris. Unfotunately the tram left just before the girls emerged from the store. The girls emerged from the store and I said, “There are two of them now.”
“What do you want to do?”
I pulled a map that I had bought earlier. “We should be heading back to the hotel. Why don’t we head toward that bridge over there and then catch the tram back to the hotel?”
We headed toward the bridge slowly, looking into windows so as not to let our tails know that we were on to them. We had a bit of bad luck as the bridge started to open for a ship being towed by a tug. I looked around and the two characters were coming up the street. I was tempted to push toward them, but I didn’t want to get into a pointless fight and get arrested, leaving the girls. I did a quick scan and neither of them were fae or compelled. So they were hired by somebody. Probably to herd us someplace. Since the other side had connections, more than likely, and I was an American, starting a fight was right out. I quietly said to Jeanette in Seneca, “These characters are beaters. I think that they want to get us separated and going in certain directions. Let’s head up the street to the next bridge.”
We headed up that way along the quay and I looked down the narrow streets as we passed. The streets were in shadow at this time of year and I couldn’t see if there were people or things waiting on the street and the streets didn’t have shops or other places that we could duck into. We made it to the next bridge and crossed over. There were some men there who cat called to the girls in French. The girls threw it right back and Jeanette grabbed on to me and called out, “This one is mine and I am keeping him.”
That brought laughter all around. I looked ahead and there were four more men that did not seem to be part of the crowd of dockworkers. I did a quiet scan and they were vampires. They were between us and the basin up ahead and I looked back where the dockworkers were sort of ignoring four more coming up behind us. One of the dockworkers called out “Girl, why would you want such a weak American when there are such strong French boys around!”
Saved. Jeanette bantered back, “Tony isn’t weak! Tony, prove it!”
“I doubt that he can lift those cabbages!”
Somebody was looking to not lift some cabbages from the wagon on the street. The cabbags were in baskets. I sauntered up and grabbed a basket. “This going be easy! In America, we use crates!”
I started to haul baskets into the storehouse as a bunch of slackers watched and took bets. I did that for ten minutes or so until everybody was satisfied that I wasn’t a weakling and the boss started to get the people who were supposed to be doing the work back at it. The man who had called out about how weak I was, quietly said, in English, “They have backed off for the moment. Head back down and see if you can catch the tram. If you can’t, keep going.”
“Who are you?”
“Somebody who has been faced with the same kind of things that you are and lost family. Now go!”
We did and headed back down the quay toward the bridge. The four vampires didn’t want to face an unknown crowd that didn’t seem to be acting as if they were compelled. The bridge had closed again and we crossed back over to the other side and headed toward the tram stop. There was no tram but the bully boys seemed to have gone across the bridge so we headed up the quay toward the Rue de Paris again. Gretel was looking more than a bit frightened. She looked around and said, “I wish that we had gone with Rosa and Tony this morning.”
I looked her and said, “We probably should have, but that could also have made things worse. If this is what I think it could be, we don’t want us and the kids together. If it is what I think that it could be, Bill will be right behind it.”
Bill had gone over what had happened to his in laws several times with Bob and I as we were growing up because he wanted us to know just how bad things could get. That vampire queen had been very hungry, was already thinking about Gretel for recruitment, to say nothing of Jeanette and I. The good news was that a great hunt tended to absorb the vampire’s attention and grandmother was very sensitive to things like that. We just had to be careful and keep thing moving so that we couldn’t be trapped. Gretel looked at me and it looked as if she was ready to panic. I said to her, “Don’t despair and know this. I am between you and them. That will make a big difference. Your mother has given Jeanette and I a trust and I will not betray her or my grandmother will be very angry with me. We just have to be strong and sneaky. These things want us to panic and make a mistake. These things rely their strength and making us afraid. So we use our fear and wait for them to make a mistake.”
Gretel looked much better. Now I just had to get us out of this. I led us past the Rue de Paris toward the beach. I expected that the things on other side would expect me to head back toward the hotel. So we would have to disturb things a bit. At the bottom of the Rue De Paris there was a post office and I said to Jeanette, “Let’s go in here for a second.”
We did and I filled a quick telegram form with the message TB TB, Casino and sent it to my grandparents at the hotel. I also asked if they could forward our packages to the ship and they said that wasn’t a problem, so I arranged for the delivery. Then we left the post office and turned right toward the sea. Jeanette asked, “So what did you send?”
“My code for danger and where we are going at first.”
“Where are we going?”
“Up the Boulevard to the Casino.”
“Why?”
“Steve and Stelios. If they want to ambush or arrange something from the water, it will be easier from an empty beach than a crowded port. Also, we can see them coming from a long way away and I can use water magic if I have to.”
“I see. “
“There are also two tram routes that pass the Casino and the things won’t know which one I plan to use.”
“So we are going in a direction that they do not expect and arranging to meet if possible at a place they would not expect us to as well.”
“We are buying time as well. Why don’t we find a café and have lunch?”
Greta.
Tuesday December 13, 1932.
I was beginning to get concerned about Tony and the girls. Noro and Mary had gone ahead to the ship. It was getting toward lunch and the should have been back by now so that we could have lunch and get ready to leave. I was about to have Eric start to go look for them when the front desk said, “A telegram for you, madam.”
I looked at it and handed it to Eric. “Tony wants support at the Casino. Do you think that the vampires are going after them?”
Eric handed the telegram to Etienne and explained what it meant. Bill walked into the hotel and said, “Good, we caught you.”
“What happened?”
“It’s what didn’t happen that is bothering me. The lady bugged out yesterday.”
“Away from you?”
“I hope so, but I think that she is on a grand hunt. Louis and Tony were talking about the lady being hungry and recruitment. Louis agreed with my assessment.”
Eric grimaced. “Greta was afraid of that. Tony sent a telegram. Here it is. Tony and Rosa should be back with the rest of the kids.”
“I’ll take Jimmy and Little Tiger with Hilda and stake out the Casino. We might get there first. I expect that Tony will play for time if he can.”
“Good, I’ll go with you with Ettienne, Mary and Roger. Greta, you and Eloise get the kids to the ship with Tony. Rosa can catch up with us and bring the little dragons. We will meet you there.”
Steve came in with Sal and Sillia. “Are you ready to go?”
“Tony may have be the target of grand hunt.”
“That’s not good. The vampire lady you encountered, right?”
“Yes. Tony is going to the Casino to keep moving, I expect.”
Steve smiled. He went to the desk and grabbed a map from the stack the hotel had for tourists and vistors and came back.“The Casino is on the water, isn’t it? I expect the lady doesn’t know about my team and we still have those quiet guns that we had Tom make up for us. Perhaps we can cover Tony. Let me get going.”
He turned to leave and I said “Wait a minute, Steve.”
David and Micheal had come in and I turned and called out, “Boys, go up and bring down the rest of the Constructs. You go with Steve’s people with them.”
The boys smiled. “We can handle that, Aunt Greta.”
They hurried out and Steve said, “Good thought. These vampires could get messy and they don’t have a nest they can just retreat to unless the lady had a family here.”
“There might be,” Bill said. “I’ll check with the police. They will know who I am and this is a port. The family that was near Olivia’s was watching Cherbourg as well, but I didn’t think to check Le Havre since most of us had been in and out and not been molested, but an old vampire might sit back and wait.”
I frowned. “The Red Lady wants my niece for recruitment. Bill, I know that you wanted to give the Lady a rough time, but if you get the chance, finish her. She’s hurt the family long enough. That is the least I can do for my sister.”

Eric said, “Finish her, Bill, if you can. Greta is right and even if there are some leftovers, the other Masters will want to pillage the reserves and that will create dissension between them.”
Hilda said, “I will see that Bill does, if she shows up. David and Micheal are back so we will get going.”
The lot of them left. Tony and Rosa came in with the kids. Rosa took one look at me and said, “Something is wrong, isn’t it?”
“Tony sent a telegram with his emergency code and saying that he was heading toward the Casino. Bill thinks that the vampire queen that we encountered is going on a grand hunt.”
“For Gretel. Milady was afraid of this. We knew that it could happen. I cannot intervene againsy the Mistress’s children directly. I can provide assistance. What should we do?”
“Why don’t we get everything and the kids aboard the ship. The kids are a temptation all by themselves and Bill is concerned that the Lady may have a child in the city here.”
“Outside the city, but yes. Another old one who doesn’t push himself very much.
The children do not cooperate and I expect that there is some tension unless the Lady is here herself. Why don’t we get these youngsters aboard. Tony says that his brother and another lady will be there as well.”
“Yes, we made the arrangements to avoid trouble. Suzette will be glad to help with this and you can guess what your brothers can do.”
“If the vampires knew about my loutish brothers, they would not have come in any case. We will just have to instruct them.”
With Sillia, Eloise, Jim, Adele and the Little dragons helping, we had the luggage loaded, the bus loaded with the kids and headed to the new ship terminal where our ship was waiting. We managed to get the kids and everything else, including my sister’s car loaded aboard the ship. With the kids in good hands, Rosa managed to surprise Robert, who was more than a little sheepish about dealing with his sister. She gave him his share for not writing and he looked a bit nervous about the fact that she was coming over with Gretel. He started on Tony for not letting him know that she was here, but all Tony could say was that he didn’t have a discreet way of doing that and that Rosa and I sprung the surpise on him too and Rosa coming home with us was my sister’s fault. Speaking of which, I scanned around and there she was, being discreet in the corner. She looked more than a bit drained. I wondered if the lady had had a session with her last night in Paris. The taint was close to the surface and very near a full Twist and recruitment. I could see the pain on my sister’s face as she decided to reveal herself and come over. She turned to Rosa and said, “Where is my daughter?”
“With Tony and Jeanette.”
“Why were you not with them?”
“I trust your nephew to be capable. He has proven himself. My brothers here have many Charges and we decided to let Tony watch your daughter this morning. The vampire king would not stir himself if the risk was high and I am sure that he knew that the Hunter and his family were in the area. Unfortunately we had an encounter earlier with the Lady of Burgundy and she is hungry. Tony sent a message and your brother in law and his people are on the way.”
“Where?”
“The Casino,” I replied.
My sister suddenly had an ashen face. “That is near where the lord has his estate on the hill. The Lady is there.”
“If the Lady is even a little smart, she and her friend will stay home. I told Bill that this time, if she shows up, to finish her for you and your daughter.”
“I must go!”
She left quickly. Sillia said, “I expect that things are going to get messed up. For them, at least.”
I turned to Rosa and said, “Why don’t you, your brothers and I keep an eye on my sister. She may need us. We can use Suzette for overwatch. She is very good at being discreet.”
Rosa looked at me and said, “Yes, milady might need us.”
The Chancellor.
Tuesday December 13, 1932.
I was watching a nightmare develop. The Red Lady had me with her as she was visiting with her child in town. At first they seemed content to watch as the Lady from Burgundy used some people that I had obtained from some contacts and her children to hunt the Unbonded’s daughter. It was too late to stop the lady as she was in a full hunger frenzy as a result of the events yesterday morning. So far, the vampires had stayed away from the Constructs and the others guarding the children. Unfortunately rather than Hannah’s daughter going with the others, she had gone with Tony and Jeanette to Mass and then done some shopping. The hirelings and the children were trying to box them in. It seemed that they had failed and even I could feel family pursuing right in our direction. I turned to the lady and said, “You and your associate should leave.”
“Why?”
“Because you will be tempted to get into the middle of this and I think that you probably won’t like what happens.”
The king looked at me. “It is just the boy. He shouldn’t be that much trouble.”
“It won’t be just the boy if he managed to get a message out.”
“I doubt he has seen our people.”
“He has managed to evade the Lady’s efforts so far.”
“The cordon has not been that tight. If the three come this way, I will send some people to obtain them , Lady.”
I could see the eagerness in the Lady’s eyes. She was not paying attention to what I was saying in any case. I said, “I think that I will take a close look at what is going on.”
“Be wary,” the Lady said. “My daughter probably does not have much control over her actions right now.”
“That is one thing that I am afraid of.”
I left the estate in my car and headed toward the port. I parked the car next to the arsenal and started to scan around. I could sense several of the Lady’s children around looking at various places and coming up empty. It was fairly obvious that the trio had not come this way in an attempt to return to the hotel. I walked toward the hotel and Jean and Glinde were waiting outside. I waved and Jean came over. “Have you seen Tony or your niece?”
“No. We are waiting for them here. Along with some others.”
I looked around and there were four more vampires waiting. I said to Jean, “If they know that they are being pursued, I doubt that they will return here alone. Where are Eric and Greta.”
“Eric is running an errand and Greta took the rest of the children to the ship with the two Constructs.”
So Eric and more than likely, Bill were going to look for Tony and Jean’s niece, who were avoiding the trap set for them while a large portion of the Lady’s children were here next to the hotel. The vampires must have heard a call that we could not as all ten of them suddenly looked up and started to head toward the west. After they had all gone, we followed from a bit of a distance. We were not alone as the vampires were also being followed by men who were probably police. I turned to Jean and said, “I think that Bill has been doing some classes here.”
“Paris is not that far away. These things have attracted attention and I’m not surprised that the police are wary. They have probably called in reinforcements already.”
“I am sure that the Sûreté are keeping an eye on things already once Bill gave them the information that he had on the Masters.”
“So am I.”
Tony.
Tuesday December 13, 1932.
We had lunch at the hotel next to the big semaphore on the point. We took an hour and the other side didn’t seem to know where we were, or at least didn’t poke their noses into the dining room. At this point, I wanted to give grandfather the time to set things up. A quick scan of the hotel had shown that the building had been shielded by somebody in the past. We started north along the beach and I was perhaps unbelievably lucky. Next door to the hotel was a cluster of small workshops and boatyards, topped off by a small shipyard. I did some quick shopping and a shop was glad to make up some tubes with salt water in them, though they were more than a little mystified as to why I wanted them. So was Jeanette and once we were out of earshot, she asked, “So what are these for?”
“A projector, a small one.”
I made some more stops for batteries and wire. I had some spare blank cartridges and wire in my carry bag that was in my jacket pocket. I made one more stop at a butcher shop and picked up two rabbits. I didn’t think that I wanted to be carrying hogs. That was when a vampire found us. I think that he called out to his friends before starting toward us. There was nobody around as he approached as we walked on the boulevard along the beach past a monument. I walked out onto the beach with the girls and put the monument between me and the street. The vampire came around the monument and said, “Why don’t you make it easy? You might like your new life.”
“If you can call it a life. Why don’t you go away before something happens?”
“I think that I will take this girl. The mistress will reward me for her.”
“I think not.”
Snap! The hole from the water tube was right through the bottom of his throat and I had obviously hit what I was aiming for as he dropped and didn’t move. Gretel looked at the thing with a bit of a shock and chattered, “What did you do?”
I pulled the empty water tube out of my pocket. “Water magic. Seafolk can use it without the tubes, but all fae can use the tubes more or less. We are not as adept, but he made the mistake of coming close to us and I could hardly miss at that range. Let’s make a quick trip to the water after we get a bit away from here.”
I pushed the girls up the road toward the casino. Along the beach there were little cabins for changing and maybe Changing for seafolk, empty this time of year. I ran down to the water and refilled the tube, using some tin foil that I had to cover it. I said to Gretel “When we get home I, or even better, one of your seafolk relatives will show you a bit of water magic. That is if you don’t find a tail of your own all too soon.”
“Do you think that I will?”
“Who knows? I think that one is chasing my cousin Roger already. I expect that several were checking me out last summer, but Jeanette cut to the front of the line.”
“Yes I did. I don’t care that the other girls think that I was poaching. Sometimes you have to sieze the opportunity.”
As we walking along through the beach cabin, “DP, DP” tapped out on some rocks. I clicked back, “TB, TB” and headed close to a cabin. David said from around the corner where he was being discreet. “You took your time getting here. It’s almost two and the boat leaves at four.”
“We had lunch and I did some shopping. Here.”
I put the canvas bag with my load on the beach.
“We also ran into an unpleasant character down there by that monument to Franco-Belgian cooperation. He sort got an instant hole in his throat. I think it was fatal.”
David reached for my purchases. “You were thinking projector and Constructs.”
“The projector to fog the issues and the Constructs to confuse things. I wasn’t sure what Bill was going to come up with and I wanted an out if I needed it.”
“Steve is here and we can use this. Do you have Construct tubes?”
I handed them to him. “Here you go. The thing I killed got a call out, I think, but they may be looking for me to go in the other direction. Do you want to take Jeanette and Gretel?”
“Not at present. Just keep heading to the Casino. Bill is setting up a bit of a show with some new friends of his. Figure about forty five minutes for the main event.”
“Ok.”
I returned to Jeanette and Gretel and said, “That was David. Steve is out here someplace and Bill is setting something up at the Casino. David didn’t say anything about Rosa, Tony or my grandparents, so they are close but not engaging at first unless something else shows up.”
Gretel looked a bit worried. “Do you think that something else will?”
“I’m afraid that your mother may have had a session with the Red lady and there was that meeting yesterday. So the Red Lady is close and wants Gretel. Us too, come to that. Especially since Bill destroyed all those children. If your mother came to see you off and I expect that she would if she could, then things could get tense, especially if the lady took some blood and your mother is in a state where the taint is high. The monster could trip into recruitment and the thing wouldn’t be your mother any more.”
“Mother is afraid of that. That was why she kept me away and made sure that the lady didn’t know that I existed. The lady would like to bring mother fully into recruitment, especially now.”
“Grandmother will do her best to avoid that, even if she has to destroy the thing that your mother becomes. Sometimes, that is the only gift that you can give the person who is tainted. My Uncle Tom had to do that for my Uncle Brad. We don’t like it, but that is the way the dark does things.”
The casino was getting close and I couldn’t sense Bill or anybody else. The lady, on the other hand, I could sense clearly at the monument as she discovered the thing that I had destroyed. The anger and the Change to full hunt mode was evident as she scanned for us. I kept my shields tight around the girls and I, but it was just a matter of time before she started to look in the right direction. I checked my gun and put it back. I had us hide in amongst some huts on the beach for the time being.
Hilda.
Tuesday December 13, 1932.
Bill and I had met Chief Inspector Dreyfuss at Bill’s class in Paris. He was fae and more than a bit concerned that he had vampire issues that he couldn’t track down. He also had a burgeoning seafolk population that would probably have tail issues all too soon. When Bill explained what was going on, he called in reinforcements. They probably wouldn’t get here until things were over, but they were on the way. There was a report of something strange happening at the Franco Belgian friendship monument. Dreyfuss told us that the Belgian government had actually taken up residence during the war. He had the same kind of dry personality that Frank did on Long Island and was more than a little annoyed that he couldn’t dress down anymore since he was promoted to Chief Inspector. His assistant told us as we drove to the monument that he had liked to play the bumbling fool like Frank did, but couldn’t do that anymore.
Bill took Little Tiger, Jimmy and father and went ahead to the casino. The inspector and I headed to the monument. We arrived at the monument and there were some officers with a body. The officer said, “The man looks like he has been shot, but nobody heard a shot and whoever did the shooting was very good. We will take the body to the pathologist to look for the bullet.”
I quietly told the inspector, “There won’t be a bullet. At least I don’t think so. If no shot was heard, Tony wasn’t using a gun. If you have seafolk friends they can explain.”
“Why did the young man kill this man?”
“It wasn’t a man, at least not anymore. The thing hadn’t actually gone into it’s hunting Change, so the body hasn’t destabilized yet. I imagine that your pathologist will be surprised when the body gets there. I suspect that Tony killed it because the thing was going after the girls and wouldn’t back off. The thing was an idiot, because it should have backed off and waited for its friends. On the other hand, Tony probably did some shopping down there at the shipyards.”
“What for?”
“I have some idea, but lets see what he does. It’s been a couple of hours since the message. The vampires made a mistake and didn’t keep enough eyes on him. I think that they expected that he would try to run to the hotel and concentrated there. They should be here soon.”
“I think that they have arrived.”
They had, actually, being hidden from most eyes and in full hunting mode, in Change. The queen herself was with them and the minions scattered around looking for Tony. They wasted some time going south along the water before coming back past us again, hidden and discreet. At this point even the normal police could feel them, even if they could not see them. The Inspector turned to me and said, “Now I see what Bill was talking about. Even nonfae can sense these things when they are on the hunt.”
“That is a weakness. Normally we don’t see something like this, but Tony and Jeanette were close to the queen and she picked up on them and the rest of the children we had with us. There was one special child they really want.”
“Why?”
“She is the Unbonded’s daughter.”
“Madamoiselle Schee has a daughter? How did that happen?”
“Considering that the girl is fourteen, during the war. I don’t know the details, but I expect that the man is dead and French. He may have been Taken by the Colonel like my bonded was, but killed or put in the special squads.”
“Those were a great evil on the afflicted.”
“I think that was why they were created in the first place. The Colonel wanted werewolves for actions where his Germans could not go for some others where I live. I imagine that the special units did not have a positive view of life for the most part. My bonded was lucky that we bonded and had a son. I was freed, which was one of his final joys, but could not rejoin him in time and his brother was forced to destroy the monster and him.”
“Terrible! How did the brother cope. The act alone could destroy the typical fae or set him on a Path of Sacrifice if he is high enough.”
“He was and it did. He is an unusual fae and took his Path to ways that were not destructive, for him. The Colonel didn’t like what happened.”
“You and Bill will have to tell me the story when this is over. What does the man think of you?”
“I can trust him with my life and more importantly, with my son’s life. Without knowing that I existed, he demonstrated that when we met and has reinforced that since.”
“He must be a remarkable man.”
“Very much so.”

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