The Elf King’s Thingy Part VII
The atmosphere of The Great Vault was one of brooding gloom, despite the glow worm lamps doing their best to shed light around its grim interior. ‘Candles would be better.’ Mr. Spleen thought to himself and he walked through the room examining the odd child sized footprints that lay in the layers of dust that covered the stone floor. The footprints led to the small plinth that sat in the middle of the vault. Upon this lay a red cloth of velvet. Mr Spleen could see it was red velvet despite the layers of dust everywhere in the room due to a small square in the middle of the cloth that was dust free. Conspicuously so. But it was not where they led that made the footprints odd. Or at least it was not the main thing that was odd about them.
No one ever entered the Elf-Kings vault, judging by the dust this had been the case for an eon or more. Indeed, Spleen mused, ‘It’s a wonder anyone noticed it was even missing’ Though he had no doubt there were watchers of some kind. One thing you could guarantee in Fea it was that something was always watching. Generally at least two something’s, because both courts had there spies.
At his side de Manfess sniffed the air, looking around with a certain kind of disappointment.
“No blood.” The beastly one uttered, then strode over to one of the glow worm lamps and began dismantling it for no real reason beyond, Mr Spleen suspected, boredom.
Mr Spleen sighed to himself and his chest whistled. His partner had many uses but considered thoughtful investigation was not one of them. He examined the footprints again, fascinated by the oddity of them. It was not that they were human child size, many fea were human child size, at least most of the time. Nor was it that they were the footprints of someone wearing human shoes, very clearly human shoes, as fea, when they wore them, favoured shoes that pointed somewhat at the toe…
No, what was odd about the footprints was that they started ten yards in from the wall. At the opposite end of the vault to the one and only door. To be exact, that was to say they started from nowhere, then moved through the vault in a straight line till they got to the plinth, then they disappeared. The obvious conclusion was the owner of those footprints had just appeared in the room, walked to the plinth and vanished again. This was, in Mr Spleens experience, not the sort of thing human children did. Yet according to the reports of the watchers that were not there, a human girl had done so. It was all rather puzzling, because humans, children or otherwise, did not enter the lands of the fea at all. Not any more at any rate. Not for over a thousand years or more.
There was a crash behind him, and Mr Spleen turned with a certain indifference to see DeManfess biting into a glow worm…
“Good worms these, crunchy.” The bestial man said.
Mr Spleen shock his head at this and went back to his pondering, having already decided to Ignore his partners next question, which he knew would involve offering him a handful of worms. Not that he had anything against the eating of glow worms, but he did not like to snack in the afternoon when he was working. Also, if he was honest, it tended to give him indigestion when the worms tried to crawl out through the holes in his stomach lining… Besides which, he was busy thinking.
Footsteps that appear from nowhere, then just vanish. A portal perhaps? There were the ways… But no, it couldn’t be that simple. A portal would require magic and the vault was warded against all forms of fea magic. Besides which you needed the magic to work where the portal was opened from, and everyone knew magic no longer worked in the human world. Something else was at play here, he was sure.
He walked over to where the footprints originated and sniffed at the air. But there was no scent of anything but dust and time. Apart from the footprints the dust on the floor was undisturbed. So not a portal. A portal was a violent thing, a rip between realities, such things left a trace, and generally smelt of geraniums. Yet there was nothing.
A portal between two points on the fea’s plane of existence perhaps? Such would create less disturbance, it was true, but that brought you back to the use of fea magic and the wards would have gone off. No fea could cast a spell that brought them here, not without a backlash from the wards dissipating them instantly.
Mr Spleen scratched his chin with one hand, a nervous habit from a life time ago when the vestiges of beard had grown there. Then the crunching of another worm behind him broke his concentration and he realised what he was doing with a little regret. One of the advantages of been undead was your hair stopped growing, so no more shaving, but for some reason he missed having stubble to scratch, and fingernails to bite come to that. You never realise, he often brooded, how much joy the habitual biting fingernails was until the quick ceased to be quick and you’d bitten them down to nothing. He’d tried false nails for a while afterwards. Gluing them on, however, was something for which he had little penitence. Particularly as he knew full well he was only gluing them on so he could bite them off afterwards. It just seemed pointless after a while. When they talk about the troubles of the undead life style, Mr Spleen noted, they seldom mention you becoming bereft of simple pleasures like scratching your stubble and masticating on your fingernails… But then he forced himself to consider the problem at hand once more.
Footsteps that appear from nowhere, footsteps that then just vanish. A portal from inside the fea, but one no fea could cast. No human can use magic in their world. Wards against fea using magic to enter. Use magic in their world… No human could use magic in their world… In their world…
“Oh that’s clever de Manfess, that’s very clever…” Mr Spleen said in triumph, smiling, a nasty smile of many teeth…
“What is…” his partner said mumbled with a mouth half full glow worms, which let out their light with each syllable. Which was, you should note, exactly as disturbing as it sounds.
“Someone has been playing clever buggers… And I believe I know just where to start looking to find out whom…”
“And where would that be?” Asked the glowing mouth.
“The genealogists I believe, I’m sure they’ll be only too pleased to help us with our enquires.”
“I hope not,” de Manfess said nastily, “I hope they refuse to tell us anything. Then we’ll have to bleed them a little?”
“Oh, I’m sure my fine compatriot, that they’ll be difficult at first. So, there will be plenty of need for bloodshed.” Mr Spleen replied with no real sign of reticence at the idea, indeed something of a happy smile.
After all if you can’t bite your nails you have to do something to relieve the tension of the day.
Next week ( or possibly in a couple of days) the tale of ‘The Elf king’s Thingy’ will continue, with Part 8 There are probably worse fates in the world than double geography
You can find the full series here
Authors note: This part work comprises of a first draft, without the usual editing, proof reading etc, It is somewhat raw because of this. There may be glaring errors, terrible typos and crimes of a grammatical nature. Feel free to point them out if your self-esteem requires a boost, you would certainly be proving your intellectual superiority over the author in doing so…