Goodnight Moon is a fantasy adventure se. Combining Her ever burgeoning world with the personal creative work of Her devoted pet princess indigo.
The House on Gordon Square: Part Two
‘Where is Peter Smoke?’ said Goddess Haylee firmly.
‘Let’s just say we’re looking after him for the time being, shall we Goddess?’ replied Francis Blink in a condescending tone.
‘Return him now.’ answered the Goddess with a notable touch of of anger in Her voice.
‘We have questions to ask. There are protocols to follow. I’m just an enforcer, a debt collector. You can get as huffy with me as you like, I don’t care. I can’t let him go.’ said Francis Blink with a laugh.
‘Do not speak to Me in that manner.’ She retorted and a quick breeze began to blow the flotsam and jetsam around the square as Goddess Haylee flexed Her fingers slowly.
‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. They won’t like it.’ responded Mr Blink raising his voice by the slightest fraction.
‘I’m not afraid of them.’ replied the Goddess.
‘Well they scuppered your lot didn’t they? When you turned up fresh as a daisy in Andromeda?’ came Francis’ cocky reply.
‘Perhaps they should come out of hiding and we can reminisce.’ said the Goddess subtly shifting Her stance.
‘“Underneath the Shadows, perpendicular to the Light.”’ muttered the princess.
‘You can say as many faery nursery rhymes as you want little lady, you’re in a great deal of trouble.’ said Francis Blink loudly.
‘What has My princess got to do with this?’ asked the Goddess in a cold tone.
‘The princess here, bless her little cotton socks, has something we want.’ he declared.
‘Is this true?’ said the Goddess turning towards the princess with a look of concern on Her face that had not been there before.
‘I believe it is Goddess.’ said the princess looking down at her feet.
‘You can give it to us now or we’ll come and get it. It’s entirely up to you.’ said Francis belligerently.
‘Neither will happen.’ said the Goddess stepping closer to the princess.
‘I think the Baba Yaga and their associates have got different ideas luv.’ replied Francis.
‘They should not use that name.’ said Goddess Haylee angrily.
‘I know you don’t like it, but that’s what they’re called. They’re not fairy tale witches who eat children and live in a house held up by chicken legs. They’re much more fucking scary than that.’ Francis continued.
‘I know what they are. I know how they are made.’ said Goddess Haylee bitterly.
‘The Old War is starting up again luv. All bets are off. You can wrinkle your nose up all you bloody like. This place has fallen! It’s too late for name calling and temper tantrums.’ Francis gesticulated.
‘The Old War? What does he mean?’ said the princess raising her head.
‘The War between Life itself. The acquisition of territory and property by things of Power. Conflict and disagreement. Trouble. They killed a King, there has to be consequences!’ Francis said angrily.
‘She did?’ said the princess aghast.
‘No not her! Her people, her side! They killed a fucking King!’ he reprimanded.
‘There are always consequences.’ said the Goddess.
‘I can’t stand round here arguing the price of eggs with you all night. I’ve delivered my message. Said all I have to say. If you don’t like it, you’ll have to bloody well lump it.’ said Francis flatly and left without saying goodbye.
There was a fault on the Circle Line and the service stopped a lot sooner than Razgriz had expected. He stood outside Edgeware Road tube station watching one potential commuter after another arrive to find the gates shut. Something prickled underneath his skin and he didn’t entirely know why.
By the time half an hour had passed and yet another Londoner reached the gates swore and turned round, he’d heard more oaths than he could possibly count. The English he concluded, liked swearing almost as much as they liked tea, which was an awful bloody lot apparently.
Outside there was a hurried atmosphere even when the traffic was quiet. Cars drove past a little faster than they needed to. There was an edginess mixed up with a weary ‘seen it all before’ feeling. An excitement mixed up with an old worn out irritability that he had never felt in North America. Ragriz found it unsettling and began to understand some of princess indigo’s sarcasm that lay just below the surface of her sunny disposition.
A large white Mercedes van pulled up on the other side of the street. Two women in their early sixties got out. One tall with short grey hair, the other shorter with longer darker grey hair. They both wore business suits and had a distinctly brusque manner. A stretcher was retrieved from the back of the van and carried down into one of the back streets.
They emerged two minutes later carrying an inert female figure on the stretcher covered by a sheet. As they returned to the van the backdoors opened by themselves and it was obvious there was another figure inside.
This third figure was shrouded but Ragriz could make out a female shape. As it reached down to guide the stretcher inside, Razgriz could discern a tattered grey hood. Underneath were only shadows and two glowing red coals instead of eyes.
The tattered grey hood glanced upward and shot a look in Razgriz’ direction. For the briefest moment their gazes met and Razgriz felt a deep disturbing chill. The doors of the van slammed shut, the old women climbed back inside and it was gone. Ragriz made a note of the registration number on his phone, somehow he had the feeling it was going to be important.
‘My princess?’ said Goddess Haylee breaking the long silence after Francis Blink had left.
‘I have a Darkling inside of me.’ said the princess abruptly, giving voice to everything she had been bottling up, ‘That is what he is after, this Francis Blink. Even before I met the Fae, even before they made me one of their own and gave me my wings, I had it. That is what they want.’ the princess said her eyes cast to the ground, unable to look Goddess Haylee in the eye.
‘I know where you have been My princess…I know.’ said Goddess Haylee in almost a whisper.
‘You’re right, I found my Darkling in Hell. Not the fiery afterlife holiday resort of pitchforks and sulphur but a real place. With its own people and it’s own rules…The Darkling was stranded there without a family or a clan, all alone. To exist in our world they need a host. They can survive for a little time on their own but too long and they die. I took pity on it. Took in a stray as I have done many times before…It was full of fear, bitterness, anger and despair. Emotions with which I am overly familiar with…I took it with me when I left Hell…It has a history and clearly debts have been incurred.’
‘My princess…you don’t have to fight this alone.’ answered the Goddess as the first tears began to run down the princess’ face.
‘“This place has fallen.” That’s he said. He wasn’t talking about Gordon Square, he wasn’t even talking about London, was he?’ said the princess raising her voice.
‘No he wasn’t.’ said Goddess Haylee quietly.
‘They’re not allergic to garlic, most of them don’t sleep in coffins. They don’t care about crosses, don’t explode in sunlight and if you stick a stake in them they’ll just bleed.’ said the princess no longer able to keep it in, ‘But everything else about them is true!’
‘My princess…’ said the Goddess full of concern.
‘It has a chequered past and so have I. I’m a war child, I was born into trouble. Everything doesn’t always turn out for the best. People don’t always get their happy ending. I learnt that the hard way and I’ve seen what it costs. Wishing that everything will be alright doesn’t make it come true.’ said the princess bitterly.
‘There’s a difference between thought and action princess. Isn’t that what I’ve been trying to teach you all? Wishing isn’t enough, actions are required.’ said Goddess Haylee touching the princess’ arm gently.
‘I know.’ said the princess quietly.
‘You have a recalcitrant nature for the things that matter princess indigo. You don’t always put thoughts into action when the circumstances demand them.’ commented Goddess Haylee firmly.
‘Do we have to this now?’ said the princess plaintively.
‘Yes, it’s important.’ said Goddess Haylee, ‘Do you remember when I instructed you all to do something you’ve always wanted to do? You were strangely silent my princess.’
‘I got stuck on it. Then things got crazy several times over. I kept thinking over and over what I could do in the time allowed, but nothing seemed to fit. I didn’t come up with a solution and I admit I let it slide Goddess.’ blushed the princess deeply unable to raise her eyes from her shoes.
‘You should have tried princess.’ admonished the Goddess, ‘And this current situation, is there any course of action you can take?’
‘I will contact the Fae, perhaps they can be of aid. I suspect someone is already on their way.’ said the princess furrowing her brow.
‘And..?’ said Goddess Haylee sternly.
‘I…’ said the princess unable to get the words out.
‘And..?’ said Goddess Haylee with even more emphasis.
‘How can I drag You this into any of this..?’ said the princess looking up in a hurt tone.
‘princess indigo, I am long acquainted with the Baba Yaga and those who pull their strings. I am far more involved than you will ever know.’ replied Goddess Haylee not mincing Her words.
‘Is that what happened when you went to Andromeda? You met the Baba Yaga?’ said the princess very uncomfortable at asking her Goddess such a direct question.
‘There are far worse things than the Baba Yaga, I can assure you that. The Old War came to the Unseen Sea and we journeyed to Andromeda in search of aid. We stood on the Twisted Shore and all we found was a circle drawn in the sand that did not like us.’ said the Goddess old thoughts rising to the surface.
‘I do not know those names. Is it connected to the Scholars and the Magi?’ said the princess with a searching look on her face.
‘Yes, yes it is. There were five Houses that went to Andromeda, when we returned there was only one. There will be five again if it is the last thing I ever do.’ said Goddess Haylee with a sound in Her voice the princess had never heard before.
‘Have you seen a cat called Ragriz man? I’m looking for a Razgriz cat. I’ve been looking for him all day. I’ve been going round on the Circle Line with a tin of cat food man. He’s a strange breed of cat that Razgriz cat. You’ve seen him, I can tell. You look like you know a cat called Razgriz.’ said a man with a gravelly voice to who had caught Razgriz unawares.
‘You must be Salvatore.’ said Razgriz with a broad smile across his face.
‘You must be the cat called Razgriz.’ chuckled Salvatore with his laconic Tom Waits cross bred with Ron Perelman voice, shaking Ragriz firmly by the hand. ‘Did you bring it Razgriz man, did bring what was asked for?’
‘Yes I did. Do you want to see it?’ said Razgriz moving to take the long narrow black bag down from his shoulder.
‘That won’t be necessary man. If Razgriz says he’s brought it, then I believe Razgriz has brought it. You’re credit is good with me man.’ said Salvatore looking around as if they were being watched ‘We have to go meet someone. The someone who wanted you to get what you got man.’
At the British Museum Boytoy Max was beginning to wonder what had happened to his Mistress when Firethane and the Fharsling pricked up their ears.
‘What is it girls? A little something in the wind?’ said Boytoy Max putting down his book.
The two jet black horses made affirmative noises and the moment Boytoy Max finished his tea, adjusted his hat picked up the reins and said ‘Mistress Haylee calls!’ and they were off.
Rodimus closed his eyes and said a little prayer under his breath. There were only three other people in the train carriage. A well to do young woman, her friend and the ebullient boyfriend of the first. The trio were talking very loudly about very little at a volume and in a manner that was not pleasant to listen to. Rodimus rubbed his temple and prayed they would get off soon.
The lights in the underground carriage dimmed unexpectedly andthree figures dressed in ragged grey robes passed through the carriage directly towards Rodimus, unseen by the others. They came to an ominuous stop in front of him. The shape of their robes conveyed they were three women. Their hooded faces hidden in shadows, three sets of burning unblinking embers for eyes looked right at him.
The tallest of the three, who stood in the middle, raised a hand covered in filthy bandages with long ragged dirty fingernails and pointed at Rodimus in a unfriendly manner.
‘She will not find what she is looking for Rodimus. It is lost. This place has fallen. It is too late to stop. All that waits for her are the King and Queen of Coventry. Tell her that Rodimus. Tell it was said by Maveradne of the Baba Yaga, not some cockney messenger boy. All we have to offer her is a circle drawn in the dust. Tell her that Rodimus, she will know what it means.’ hissed the creature at him, an overwhelming sharp smell of dead flesh filled his nostrils and he did not like it.
There was a surge of power and the lights became bright once more. The three apparitions were gone but the stench remained. Directly in Rodimus eye line was a crude circle freshly burned into the metal of the carriage, charring the paintwork around it. The tube train pulled into Euston Square and Rodimus departed the carriage as quickly as he was able.
Salvatore hummed jovially as he pulled out an extremely large bunch of keys and opened the gates of Edgeware Road tube station. He waved Razgriz inside and locked the gates behind them in a similar manner and waved cheerfully at the security cameras.
‘It’s alright man. They think I’m one of them. I’ve blended in man. I’ve learnt their ways and move among them. I’ve suckled on their mothers’ teats and have the same smell of the pack that they do man. Come this way Razgriz man, come this way.’ Salvatore beckoned and they made their way down to the long set of escalators that weren’t running, their footsteps echoing down the long halls.
‘How do you know…?’ asked Razgriz as he began to warm to his new companion.
‘I used to run with the Five Houses myself man.’ said Salavatore suddenly, ‘Before Andromeda, before all that crazy shit with the Scholars and Magi kicked off man. Old news now man, old news.’ Salvatore chuckled.
‘You used to run with Haylee!’ exclaimed Razgriz.
‘Yeh man, it was a long time ago. I knew the Duke and the Duchess and all that crowd man. Back before Andromeda, a long time ago.’ said Salvatore ruefully.
‘I don’t know much about those times. I’ve heard Her mention the Duke and Duchess once or twice. I don’t want to pry, it’s not my place. I’m devoted to Her. She occupies my every waking thought. I don’t ever want to spoil that. I just want to serve Her the best I can, be the best that I can be for Her…Sorry that just kinda came out.’ Razgriz said slightly sheepishly.
‘Don’t apologise man. I know, I know what it’s like man. How persuasive that voice of hers is man. You know what man, I’m gonna tell you a little secret. I’m going to tell you something man. They say Haylee invented the Five Decks man. The Five Decks man, the Five Decks!’ said Salvatore with a stage whisper and several hand gestures for emphasis.
‘God, I didn’t know. I didn’t know she did that! I’ve seen Her do the readings with the incense and candles, I thought they were tarot cards…’ said Razgriz in shock.
‘No man, they’re older than that. Much older. From long before the Scholars set foot on the Twisted Shore and that’s a long time ago man.’ said Salvatore in a confidential tone.
‘I’ve seen Her just sit there all night and go through the twenty five sacred patterns. Sometimes She’ll laugh, other timesthere’s this expectant silence or some times a cheer. Each time is different, starting and ending with the…’ Ragriz replied.
‘…The prayer of the Five Decks man…“She is not dead…”’ interrupted Salvatore once more.
‘“…she sleeps.”’ Ragriz he found himself saying.
‘That’s right man. That twenty five ritual that’s for special occasions man. It’s old. Old, old ,old. I used to ask her you know man. No one else in the Five Houses would dare, but I used to have some pharaphancy wine and lean over by the fire and just say “Is it true? You can tell old Salvatore, I won’t breathe a word.”’
‘What did She say!?’ asked Razgriz enthusiastically.
‘She’d just smile that special smile of hers. It always makes me laugh when she does that man. She’ll have that ‘big green eyes’ shit going on as well. You know what I mean man.’ Salvatore chuckled.
‘I know exactly what you mean!’ Razgriz laughed, ‘I just lose hours when I look in Her eyes.’ he said glancing away.
‘Don’t be embarrassed man, she just has that effect on people.’ chuckled Salvatore once more.
‘Yes She does.’ said Razgriz with a smile he couldn’t hide. ‘Can I ask you something Salvatore?’ as they reached a small non-descript grey metal door set into the Victorian tiles and Salvatore searched through his keys to unlock it.
‘Yeh man sure, ask away.’ he said unlocking the door and letting Razgriz enter the narrow corridor on the other side and then locking the door behind then with a bang.
‘Where are you from?’ asked Razgriz.
‘I’m from Zefrobidian man. The greatest Empire of them all!’ replied Salvatore standing up straight holding the lapel of his jacket with one hand and gesturing grandly with the other.
‘Sorry, I’ve not heard of it.’ said Razgriz not quite sure where to look.
‘That’s ok man, it was a long time ago. A long long time ago.’ Salvatore said with a sad touching nostalgia as he patted Razgriz on the shoulder and they went on their way.
Rodimus returned to Gordon Square to find it empty, save for Goddess Haylee and the princess. As he approached the two of them remained silent, the Goddess perched upon an old wooden box lost in thought.
‘Goddess, forgive me if I am disturbing you.’ said Rodimus unsure.
‘No Rodimus, it is other matters that have done that.’ said Goddess Haylee standing up, ‘Things which were in the background are now in the foreground Rodimus. The Baba Yaga have kidnapped dear Peter Smoke, and also have business with the princess. Once more the Vicious Circle interferes with My plans and the destiny of all of us.’
‘The Vicious Circle?’ queried Rodimus remembering what he had seen and heard earlier.
‘Yes Rodimus. I think you better say what is on your mind before you burst.’ said the Goddess sensing his obvious agitation.
‘I had two unexpected meetings tonight Goddess. The second was with a Baba Yaga of some rank, calling herself Maveradne. She said you will not find what you are looking for and that all that waits for you are the King and Queen of Coventry. Her and her acolytes left a charred circle as a calling card.’ said Rodimus, the encounter still lingering unpleasantly in his mind.
‘You don’t want anything to do with Coventry!’ said the princess exasperatedly, ‘The Fae say bad magic was placed in the bombs that fell upon it during the Second World War. The very soil is tainted with something dark, that is why it was never rebuilt. It is a wasteland now and nothing good will live there.’
‘I have heard those stories princess. I have never met the King and Queen but I have seen their work. Whether I wish it or not I am involved in the Old War once again.’ said Goddess Haylee tellingly.
‘I do not understand Goddess. The Old War?’ said Rodimus unsure.
‘The War between living things. That’s about an old a war as you can get. Whatever Maveradne says, I will find what I am looking for. I hope the King and Queen of Coventry will have the good sense to get out of My way.’ said the Goddess in a voice that made Rodimus laugh a nervous laugh.
‘Yes Goddess.’ he said because he did not know what else to say.
‘Your first unexpected encounter, what was that dear Rodimus?’ said the Goddess linking arms with both Rodimus and the princess, as they walked slowly round the small park.
‘I met a Japanese woman in grey robes and swords who wanted to part my head from my body. It was only the genial Foxavier that stopped her.’ said Rodimus involuntarily rubbing his neck
‘The Lady Grey. She has a temper on her that one.’ laughed the Goddess.
‘That was one of the first things I noticed about her.’ replied Rodimus sardonically.
‘What else did she have to say for herself?’ asked the Goddess and was met with a reluctant silence.
‘Well Rodimus, what did she say? I am not going to hold you to account for the words of others.’ Goddess Haylee enquired tactfully.
‘She asked if You were the inventor of the Five Decks.’ admitted Rodimus.
‘Ha! Still they ask! Again and again the question comes, even after all this time. As if I will one day change My mind. The origin of the Five Decks is best left to the attic of Time and I will not reveal it.’ said the Goddess in a flurry of emotion, ‘And the beautiful Foxavier what did he say?’
‘Foxavier will help you.’ answered Rodimus, releaved that the conversation had moved on.
‘Excellent! See, the wind does not blow all for ill My devoted ones.’ declared the Goddess and gently squeezed the respective arms of her two companions as Boytoy Max guided the black carriage onto the square.
‘princess, quickly go fetch My box, we will soon depart.’ said the Goddess releasing both of them as they turned towards the carriage.
‘Yes Goddess.’ answered the princess and was instantly gone.
‘Your arrival is very timely Max.’ called out the Goddess as She stepped through the cast iron gate of the little park and crossed over the road to the carriage, Rodimus following behind Her.
‘Firethane and the Fharlsing decided it was time to go. Is there something amiss M’lady?’ he asked with a concerned tone.
‘Yes Max, Peter Smoke is in a great deal of trouble. We have to find him. We leave immediately, I have a call to make before we can begin.’ said the Goddess.
‘Sounds serious Mistress.’ said Boytoy Max the worried expression remaining on his usually jovial face.
‘More serious than you know.’ She responded as the princess arrived with the box and Rodimus took some of the weight, ‘Now climb aboard the two of you. It is time for Me to renew an old acquaintance.’ Goddess Haylee said and shut the carriage door behind Her.
‘I love your name man. I could say it all fucking day. The future is Razgriiiiiiiiiz.’ declared Salvatore as they emerged into one of the service tunnels and climbed aboard an old tube train that was clearly no longer in service.
‘No one else says it like that.’ laughed Razgriz.
‘They should man! You should be an old fashioned jazz musician with a name like that man. Don’t think jazz is your thing though.’ chuckled Salvatore as he searched his keys and opened the door to drivers cabin.
‘Let’s just say Jazz isn’t my main source of sustenance.’ laughed Razgriz as Salvatore began starting the train.
‘It’s okay man. You’ve got to find your own way. I’ll save my Buddy Rich records until after you’re gone.’ smiled Salvatore as they emerged from the service tunnel.
‘Buddy Rich?’ answered Razgriz sheepishly.
‘He’s a drummer man. Made of gold. Him and Jerry Lewis on that television show, that made me laugh man.’ Salvatore chuckled and broke out into beating a rhythm om the dashboard of the train.
‘I missed it.’ Ragriz replied.
‘It was on a Wednesday. Wednesdays can be slippery man.’ Salvatore changed the subject, ‘So how are things in the House of Haylee?’ he asked, his hand drumming coming to an end.
‘She’s off on a midnight picnic with Princess Indigo, as well as doing half a dozen other things at once.’ Razgriz said looking around at the cabin that had seen better days.
‘Indigo, the Fae girl, with the bright orange hair and the rubber catsuit that looks like it’s been sprayed on?’ retorted Salvatore making several sounds of surprise.
‘That’s her.’ grinned Razgriz.
‘She hangs out with that cute sarcastic Scottish chick with the ponytail.’
‘I don’t know. I’ve not met her friends.’ Razgriz shrugged.
‘I’m outta touch man. I never woulda seen Indigo of the Fae running with the House of Haylee. I need to get on the ole bush telegraph more often man, keep my ear to the ground. I’ve been living in this city too long man.’ Salvatore declared sadly.
‘Crazy old fucking place. You can feel the tension as you walk down the street.’ said Razgriz looking upward.
‘London’s been playing that game for a long time man. The shit is in the bricks man. In the bricks!’ exclaimed Salvatore and both of them laughed. ‘Can I ask you something Razgriz man?’
‘Yeh sure Salvatore, ask away.’ said Razgriz cheerfully.
‘Is it true about the Princess and those freaky ass nurses man?’ said Salvatore in a conspiratorial whisper.
Goddess Haylee’s black coach pulled up on a street of large Victorian terraced houses that went by the name of Hobbes Lane. The Goddess stepped majestically down from the carriage, shook Her long shiny black hair that smelt of shea butter and bid Her princess join Her.
‘A few words My princess before we go inside. The gatekeeper of the house is known to Me and we are not friends. You will be a new toy for her to play with and she will not be kind. She is very powerful and under no circumstance are you to rise to the bait.’ advised Goddess Haylee with a serious tone.
‘Yes Goddess.’ replied the princess obediently.
‘And no matter what she looks like, do not refer to her as an angel. She will mostly likely kill you for it and I am not sure that I could stop her.’ said Goddess Haylee gravely.
‘Yes Goddess. I will keep my opinions to myself.’ said the princess obviously unnerved by what she had heard.
‘Good.’ said the Goddess turning to face the carriage, ‘Max and Rodimus you will remain here and wait for us. There is always some of the Baba Yaga watching the house. Do not interfere with their business. If there is any trouble call My name and I will be with you as soon as I can.’
‘Yes Mistress.’ and ‘Yes Goddess.’ said Max and Rodimus respectively.
‘Come My sweet princess.’ spoke the Goddess and led Her princess across the street and down towards the last set of houses.
The last house was a large rambling affair with long narrow windows. It had many levels and there had been several additions to the original structure. Written on the large red brick wall surrounding it was the graffiti ‘Cthulhu Rising’. The letters were square turquoise capitals edged with silver paint. They had been there for nearly twenty years. Along the top of the long large wall were the tendrils of a bush of hundred year roses that were coming to their end.
Goddess Haylee paused moment to study the words without comment and then swept Her long black hair over Her shoulders. She led Her companion through the wrought iron gates to the old fashioned door with its lead lined stained glass window. They stood on the small porch, the walls and floor covered with patterns of coloured tiles. Although well kept, there were now cracks in many of the tiles and some of them were missing. Goddess Haylee raised Her finger and pressed the old fashioned Victorian door bell and heard it ring.
A figure walked into the tiled hall unlocked the large door, opened it and looked at the two visitors with an air of disapproval but not surprise. Stood in the doorway was a woman in her mid-thirties with long black hair almost down to her waist. She wore a white vest and black jeans. It had been she who had observed Goddess Haylee alight from her carriage outside the British Museum. She shook her large black wings to further express her disapproval, looking all the world like a sour faced angel.
‘The tide washes so much flotsam and jetsam up at our door, I am inclined to petition it to stop. Still the tide comes though Sorceress, still it comes.’ said the woman maintaining the sour look on her face.
‘We are here to see your Mistress and pay our regards to your Master.’ said Goddess Haylee with a confident unperturbed ring to Her voice, that was well used to the woman’s caustic breed of hospitality.
‘Come in tide, if you must.’ came the withering reply as the woman stepped aside and let Goddess Haylee and the princess enter.
‘You have a new piece of baggage with you today then Sorceress?’ came another cutting remark as the woman looked the princess up and down disdainfully.
‘Ariel, this is My pet princess indigo of the Fae.’ said Goddess Haylee unruffled by the woman’s tone, the princess kept quiet and did not meet the woman’s gaze.
‘It says very little this piece of baggage. I have heard of it in connection to the Fae, but never had occasion to speak to it before.’ responded Ariel her eye fixed firmly on the princess’ downturned face.
‘Is there cause to speak to her at all.’ responded Goddess Haylee with the first hint of an edge to Her voice.
‘There is a great deal to say on the subject of Sorceresses and princesses. What a pair you make, the black and the red. Both touched by Darkness and Light. So much in common but so different.’ continued Ariel drawing closer as Goddess Haylee looked her straight in the face and the princess looked at the floor.
‘You should trade your baggage for something new. She is reckless and giddy, but her antics are tired and worn, there are many scratches and marks upon her. She is far more trouble than she is worth.’ hissed Ariel beating her wings slowly as the princess closed her eyes.
‘That is for Me to judge.’ said the Goddess.
‘Shall I tell something about your precious princess then Sorceress? They dragged this one to Hell and ripped her soul apart. There are parts of her story that are written only in screams. The ill fitting jigsaw has not told you that.’ Ariel stepped right up to the princess who screwed her eyes up tight, ‘You are lost in the forest princess. The Baba Yaga have come for you and the screaming isn’t done!’
‘Stop!!!’ said a loud female American voice behind them.
It’s owner stepped forward, grabbed Ariel by the elbow and pulled her aside, ‘Whatever your history with Goddess Haylee, her companion is a guest in my house and you will treat her accordingly. Do I make myself clear?’
‘Yes, Madame Benchley.’ said Ariel flushing with hurt pride.
‘Now return to your duties and still your spiteful tongue for the rest of the day.’ scolded Madame Benchley in an eloquent, smokey old fashioned New York accent.
‘Wait dear Benchley, Peter Smoke has been taken by the Baba Yaga. He knows much about Scholars and Magi alike that could do great harm. Word must be sent and Ariel is the best to do it.’ said Goddess Haylee bringing these reprisals to a halt.
‘Go Ariel, fetch Foxavier on your way and set him to help you.’ said Madame Benchley urgently.
‘Yes M’Lady. I bid you adieu Sorceress. We have a cupboard somewhere for you to store your scratched and battered baggage.’ said Ariel cuttingly, sweeping out of the door, spreading her vast dark wings and taking flight into the dark night sky.
‘I hope you and your companion will forgive Ariel’s acid tongue as best you can.’ sighed Madame Benchley.
‘No matter dear one, I have other news of more import than that. My sweet companion and I were visited by a debt collector named Francis Blink. I also received a message from cruel Maveradne herself. This place has fallen. What happened by the Twisted Shore and the Unseen Sea has begun again.’ Goddess Haylee imparted with a grave tone.
‘I have felt it. Mortimer has begun to stir from his hundred year sleep. He wakes fitfully then falls back into slumber. The messenger boy Francis has already sent me his card. It will not be long before Mortimer wakes for good and they will come.’ Madame Benchley said with a voice of sorrow.
‘Then fly dear Benchley, fly!’ urged Goddess Haylee.
‘To where?! I too have received a message from Maveradne.’ replied Madame Benchley her voice full of hurt.
‘What did it say!’ exclaimed the Goddess.
‘“We have found them all.”’ came the muted reply.
‘All!?’ gasped Goddess Haylee.
‘What have they found?’ asked the princess hesitantly.
‘I cannot tell thee, it is so terrible.’ declared the Goddess, ‘I must see him now Benchley, before the whole world falls upon our heads.’
‘What do you have to do to get an invitation to that party man, sing a fucking song!’ said Salvatore loudly.
‘Let me know which one and I’ll lend you my guitar.’ retorted Razgriz.
‘That’s mighty funny man.’ said Salvatore, ‘You and me Razgriz are gonna be friends. Whether you like it or not man.’ said Salvatore making Razgriz laugh, smile broadly then shake his head.
The three of them reached the large first floor, the entire house was dark and wood panelled, with old fashioned lamps in every corner. They stood expectantly outside a particular doorway beside which was a large ornamental Chinese box about four feet high. It had a miniature traditional style roof and a large red and gold dragon inlaid on the front panel. It looked very old and very precious.
Although clearly Victorian, the house was filled with furniture and objet d’art leading all the way up to Second World War. There was nothing more modern than that and their glamorous host dressed accordingly and wore her hair in a classical Hollywood wave. There was a deliberate poise and grace to her movements but a razor sharp edge to everything she said and did.
Nothing in the house contradicted these old school sensibilities with the exception of books. There were books in every corner and crevice. In cases and in stacks even in the middle of the floor, on the stairs, everywhere. From ancient history, to nano technology, there were volumes on every subject. Far from being stuck in the past it was clear the owner of the house kept abreast on every burgeoning aspect of modern life.
‘Go inside and wait My princess.’ said Goddess Haylee and the princess nodded, opened the heavy wooden door and went quietly in.
‘Clearly we do not have many meetings left like this you and I.’ said Madame Benchley restlessly.
‘Break your bargain and disappear into the night.’ Goddess Haylee implored her.
‘It is far too late for that. I have too many things to attend to and much to think about. I have to go, the Mechanicals will assist you if there is there anything you need.’ replied Benchley about to leave, her tone still agitated.
‘That should not be necessary.’ replied the Goddess.
‘One more thing, I know you have recovered something that was stolen from this house. It is best that you open it.’ said Madame Benchley stood at the top of stairs and then descending without saying goodbye.
The princess found the room was dark, lit by a dim bedside lamp. Visible in the half light was an old fashioned carpet with stylised flowers and other motifs. An old brass bed stood at the far end of the room, with an old fashioned patchwork quilt thrown over the sleeping occupant. All around the room were row upon row of book shelves with yet more books stacked up against them. A pair of long black velvet curtains kept out the light from the street.
The occupant of the bed was a well built man around six feet, with dark unruly hair and a distinctive nose. He wore a black night shirt and did not stir a hairs breadth as the second visitor slipped into the room.
‘Behold My princess, the killer of a king.’ said Goddess Haylee with a sad sense of occasion.
‘Him?’ gasped the princess.
‘Yes, he is the one. He almost paid with his life for what he did. What is happening now would have happened a hundred years sooner but for him. He, Madame Benchley, the brave and dangerous Ariel and one Alexander once thought lost, all made a stand against the Vicious Circle in this city.’
‘Ariel?’ said the princess surprised.
‘Yes Ariel. Without her everything would have been lost. A truce was struck and a bargain made. The truce has ended, it is time for the debts to be paid.’ said Goddess Haylee ruefully.
‘So I have gathered.’ said the princess looking at her feet.
‘Now hush, I have things to say to My sleeping friend. Sit down and do not interrupt Me.’ said Goddess Haylee firmly.
‘Yes Goddess.’ said the princess with a distracted bow and went over and sat in the armchair by the bed.
Goddess Haylee stepped forward, reached into Her robes retrieved something then scattered the contents of Her hand over the bed. A shower of tiny jewels suspended themselves above it, slowly turning and catching the lamplight.
‘Sleeping Scholar, I must speak to you. Much is happening outside your door and soon it will be time to wake.’ Goddess Haylee declared in a slow rhythmic voice that was full of import and meaning, ‘This place has fallen Mortimer. They have made an army while you have slept and like you it is ready to rise. Listen very carefully to My words Scholar, there is something I want you to do.’ explained Goddess Haylee, Her voice filling the small room the princess wrapped up in every word as the jewels grew brighter and brighter.
‘I want you to find a way Mortimer. It cannot be stopped but I want you to use your vast brain to avert the worst possible outcome. Find a way Scholar, set your mind to the task and seek out a solution. For Madame Benchley, the Scholars, the Magi and for all of us.’ the slow voice continued echoing round the room.
A single book fell from the bookshelves as if in answer. The jewels suspended in the air fell onto the bed in an iridescent cascade. With a sweep of Her index finger, the jewels returned to Goddess Haylee’s robes in a bright swarm.
‘Goodbye Mortimer. I do not know what the future will bring, but I wish you well. Come princess, I am done.’ said the Goddess and the two of them left.
As they went back down the stairs no one came to see them out and the whole house was silent. Goddess Haylee looked around Her with a sad and thoughtful air then went to open the door.
‘We must retrieve the casket I gave you for safe keeping last time I was in London.’ said Goddess Haylee remembering what Madame Benchley had spoken.
‘It is in Gordon Square. I used a hiding spell taught to me by Queen Titania.’ said the princess smiling a little at the memory of her last meeting with the Queen of the Fae.
‘Then that is where we must go.’ replied Goddess Haylee.
The battered underground train pulled into the starkly lit and long abandoned St Mary’s tube station. It was dark and dirty and the stark lighting did little to lift the mood. There was a grim feeling to the place and accumulated dirt hung off the pipes and wiring like festering rags.
‘This place is like the hairy armpit of Hell. I love it.’ said Razgriz as they stepped out on the bitter grey platform.
‘Yeh man, it’s a creepy kinda fucking wonderful.’ said Salvatore and led them through the dusty graffiti covered walls.
They emerged into a long tunnel with sloping sides and bright lights onto a ramp with a handrail leading down to another grimy corridor painted white and blue with long concrete benches set into the walls.
Reaching the bottom of the ramp they came out in a small filthy brick antechamber with dirty railings and columns. In the corner was an abandoned cache of spray cans which Salvatore spied as they were about to climb a small set of dusty concrete steps. He turned and picked up one and began to write something.
‘What ya doing?’ asked Razgriz.
‘Sssh man.’ said Salvatore not wanting to be interrupted.
‘Ok.’ said Razgriz a little hurt until he realised what Salvatore was doing.
‘There’s your little mark on eternity man.’ declared Salvatore and gestured at what he written, making Razgriz laugh loudly.
‘Ha,ha. Thanks Salvatore man.’ grinned Razgriz.
‘You’re fucking welcome Razgriz man.’ replied Salvatore and the two of them disappeared up the concrete steps leaving behind the dirty old brick wall which now bore the legend ‘Welcome to the hairy armpit of Hell.’
Salvatore found another of his anonymous grey doors unlocked it and they walked a little way down a tight dark passageway up another set of steps and opened another little metal door into a small ransacked lobby with graffiti everywhere. The lobby lead to a small corridor of offices, some of them with their doors smashed in.
‘It’s best I dont go any further man. The door at the end is the one you want. Go on man, it’s ok. You’ve got private business to discuss. It’s not for my ears man.’ said Razgriz patting him on the shoulder then departing.
Razgriz nervously walked along the corridor wrinkling his nose up at some of the smells coming from the ransacked offices. He reached the large green door at the end, took a deep breath and went inside. The awaiting occupant turned towards him, scowled and immediately began speaking.
‘Salvatore has been more than canny with the truth.’ said the occupant angrily, ‘If I had known it was your Mistress that needed my help I would never have agreed to meet you, Razgriz of the House of Haylee. Both she and her household have interfered directly in my affairs. This unwelcome deceit has frayed my temper. My quarrel with her is now in turn a quarrel with you.’ said the Lady Grey and drew her sword.
The black carriage reached Gordon Square well after midnight. They had stopped off several times on the way to gain information about the whereabouts of Peter Smoke but to no avail. Their enquiries met with slammed doors and rude words.
The Goddess had taken them to Peter Smokes former residence in the West End. The entire building had been gutted by fire several days before. A spell was cast but no clues forthcoming. They returned to Gordon Square dispirited. Goddess Haylee snapped her fingers impatiently and the door of the carriage swung open.
‘Go fetch it at once my princess.’ said the Goddess with a voice of authority and the princess stepped down and dashed across the square.
She slipped inside her house and after barely a minute a third storey light came on behind red velvet curtains. A moment later the figure of the princess burst through a set of full length glass doors onto the cast iron balcony.
A female figure in a shabby grey robe had the princess by the throat and forced them both over the balcony railing down into the street below. The solitary Baba Yaga sprang up slung the unconscious princess over her shoulder, roared down the street with a howl and was gone.
Goodnight Moon: The House On Gordon Square
End of Part Two
All fictional characters and related plots (c) Princess Indigo
The House On Gordon Square Part One
Goodnight Moon Prologue – The Haunting Of Park Slope West