Subsection: 5 June 2019 Up Section: 29 May 2019

3 July 2019

Out on his boat, Max got the feeling something was lurking nearby. He slipped to a lower mooring, but the shadows followed him, not troubling to hide themselves more than they had to. There was definitely a hound there, sitting and watching. He brought the boat closer, and greeted the hound… “don’t mind me, I’m just watching”. He caught sight of a human figure moving up the bank, but was surprised by a crunching sound from the boat with something down by the waterline; he gunned the engine and this produced a yowl, another crunch, and another yowl as whatever it was failed to take another bite. He moved out evasively into the current, and a harpoon narrowly missed the boat. He tried to cross the line, and the propeller made unhappy noises; the human-like figure was pulling in the line, taking up slack, so he let the current take the boat and used as much power as he could.
She did her best to play the boat like a fish; smaller hounds waited nearby. With some orders from the large hound, they bit onto the line to get a better grip; Max leaned down to cut it, though it was pretty tough and it would take more work.
The lady put a loop of the line round a bollard, and made to dive into the water. Max worked on cutting the line, and eventually managed to sever it, then applied power again. That wasn’t fast enough to get away from her; he saw the floating harpoon vanish from the wake trail, turned sharply and heard a clanging as the harpoon rattled against the side of the boat, in the hands of his pursuer. He wasn’t able to find an underwater obstacle of the right size to scrape her off, and the dogs were now leaping into the water.
Back at the party, things were going well with the frogs. When the bell rang, Terry found the door filled by the cloud of glamour surrounding a diva. She asked for Bart, and everyone heard it; I slipped Diana a card on the basis that our conversation would soon be interrupted, which seemed to amuse her.
Rebecca, for it was indeed she, descended on Bart, leaving a wake as the cautious got out of her way and didn’t close in behind her. She smiled coldly at the troll with Miss Yvette, and he raised his drink in response. The room began to settle down. Rebecca descended on the frog-race table, and started talking firmly to Mist-and-Fog, who didn’t seem too concerned.
Lucio slid in next to Miss Yvette, and mentioned the potentially ill effects of Rebecca’s “feasting” at her concerts and elsewhere. The troll returned, being polite to Lucio though clearly from a position of authority – and then shooing him away from Miss Yvette. Rebecca came over to them…
There was a minor disturbance at the door, that started to get louder; Terry moved in to see what needed to be done. A punch was thrown, and as ’Arry pulled the victim back, Terry met the eyes of his assailant: a part-troll, close to the real thing, whom he’d smacked over the head with a crowbar before. Terry tried to pass the victim off to someone else and dropped him, and ’Arry took a hard punch to the gut. Terry and the near-troll stumbled into the main body of the party.
Clearly at a physical disadvantage, Terry tried to distract the near-troll by calling on his allies the Didii– which worked briefly. Mist-and-Fog was amused by this, giggled loudly and took flight. The near-troll started to wrap his hands round Terry’s throat, which moved into a grapple, and they both got back up their knees.
Rebecca, in a clearly projected voice, called for Bart, then addressed the troll: “Well, Stonefall?” “None of mine. Of course, I could intervene if my host wanted me to…”
With all that as cover, I provided some further distraction in order to slip out with the very nervous Diana (“it’s all very generous of her, but sometimes I wish I’d stayed in Ohio”).
The fight continued, and Terry got in a good hit with his knuckleduster – which produced a roar a lot like Eva’s in the ring. Mist-and-Fog landed on the near-troll’s head and smashed a fist down, which at least provided a distraction (and a shower of live and adhesive frogs). Terry called for a beer bottle, though this wasn’t immediately forthcoming.
Bart, finally reacting, hinted that he desired Stonefall’s assistance, and the latter stood up firmly, with an aura of power about him; and Rebecca stepped back. Terry manoeuvred to put the near-troll’s back to Stonefall, and Stonefall pulled him off his feet and out of the fight. They went out by the front door, the near-troll still struggling and shouting, and Stonefall threw him down the stairs, one flight at a time. (Diana and I stayed ahead of them on the way down.)
Lucio murmured to Miss Yvette that if she didn’t want to find herself embroiled in negotiations with Rebecca this was probably a good time to leave.
Stonefall got to the bottom of the stairs, tossed the near-troll out on the street, straightened his tie, and returned. The others left quietly before Rebecca could notice them.
Meanwhile, out on the water, Max couldn’t help but let his attacker on board – but now that she was hanging off the side, he might have a better chance at scraping her off. She aimed the harpoon at the hull. He drew his pistol, but she holed the hull first. He shot, and hit her; she hissed; and then howled, to summon the hounds. He shot again, and she dropped into the water… but the water was now coming up the stream towards the boat in a massive and climbing wave, and the hounds were still pursuing, though they were starting to look uncertain.
“I think this is a friendly wave.” — Max
The wave broke over the boat, with unnaturally little noise, and not as soaking as Max might have expected. As it passed, he saw a hint of a female face.
That lady returned to the boat, and seemed to be the same sort of creature as the courier we’d seen on the previous occasion. They shared coffee and whiskey, and got out of the central channel while talking about the Lady of the Sea and the nature of human relationships with the oceans. And how Max might go on with his life once all this was over.
We gathered in ’Arry’s car, and Diana asked to be taken home, to an address in Harberside close to the park. She invited us up for drinks; the place, in a shallow, was well-appointed and a bit flashy, and apparently fitted for some sort of animals, maybe cats. It was for her former roommate, apparently, and she wasn’t quite sure what had happened to him… and she still had all his things…
The bedroom was more luxurious, even somewhat overwhelming the lady herself; and there were more shelves of ornaments at sprite-height. We went through the things, as well as the necklace that had been Federwell’s last gift to her (not magical, and we talked about having it cut down and broken up into a set that might suit her better)… and at the back was the leather case that had had the item in it. There was still a feel of hugely powerful magic inside, but this was an aftershock because the thing wasn’t there any more.
With a bit of leisure to look, this was clearly fitted for a large spherical thing, with some legs or other bits to it, and a stand to match. Lucio reckoned it was svartelf-made; nobody else he knew could do it.
Lucio drew Miss Yvette’s attention to a diary on the dressing-table, with two hands in it – a few days back, though still a day or two after the theft, was a note “Ascalon: Hotel Arden, 2pm”. There were also, further back, occasional mentions of checking things with Lucio, or getting Eva to do something. (The name was slightly familiar to Diana, in the context of her mother – the person who arranged the concerts for Rebecca, related to the hotel in some way.)
There were stashes of dollars, and of gold coin with a slight hint of magic to it. We agreed to take the necklace and the box, and left for the night.
We talked with Lucio in the car. Bart’s state was something Lucio and Miss Yvette might be able to produce, in time. Stonefall was an independent, managing it by being at the top of his particular heap. And while he might end up as a patron to us, it would be for the very long term. Jumping ship was always a risky business…