Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Conclusion

99 Things

A few days ago I posted a heads-up that Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers would have its concluding episode today. Then I had the “brilliant idea” to use a poll, asking you to vote on which of certain features you’d like to see on the posts I’ll be doing while I work on book-2 of the Atonement series.  Well… as I told KR Big Fish, I seem to have a bad case of “foot in mouth disease,” because now I can see huge problems, like spoilers, with most of the feature ideas I suggested.

What kind of feature will it be?  Drumroll please

Annie's Antiques

Annie’s Antiques & Consignment Shop

I will rotate between (or possibly do both)…

Recipes from Bethany’s Kitchen

and

Annie’s Inventory Notes

More about these features when the time comes.  Once Atonement in Bloom is finished, I’ll do another “three things” serial, with your things driving the “pantser” plot.

Now back to our serial story.  As you know, all four of the serials I’ve so far published on this blog are pantser stories. They are completely unplanned. I let the “three things” readers send drive the plot of each episode.  This conclusion is the exception. It was not driven by three things — rather it was formed by the 3 things from the 33 previous episodes — so that’s 99 Things!

 

girl-waiting-for-train-freeYou can see how that might make for a longer than usual episode. Some of you will be pleased.  For those who don’t like longer posts, be ready to mark your place, maybe by remembering the closest picture. I hope you’ll be interested enough to finish this final episode. This conclusion is about twice as long as most of the other chapters in this serial; so not really all that long.

The steam locomotive to the Victorian Era has reached the platform one more time.  I’m happier than you can know that you’ve been on the train with me, and that you are here for the finale today.  Are you ready?

All aboard!

34.  Conclusion of Copper, the Alchemist & the Woman in Trousers

The alchemically enhanced, large version of Leonardo da Vinci’s aerial screw powered-on, and with a screech the threads began to turn.

Reading Ape purple“I’m sorry my friend, there’s no time for proper goodbyes!” Corenlis Drebbel called to Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape.  “It will save an enormous amount of energy if we take the aerial screw through the opening the villains created.”

“I understand, Lord of Alchemy,” Hicks told him.

Just then Itsy ran back into view.  The chimpanzee rushed straight for Cal Hicks and I thought she meant him harm.  I yelled for Cornelis to do something, but he only gave me that pucker-faced contemplative look of his.  Itsy slipped as she ran at Hicks.  She slid to a stop, sobbing at his feet.

To my astonishment she turned her tear-streaked face up to Hicks and handed him the mystic people harmonic tuner.  Itsy seemed to be apologizing, but it was difficult to distinguish her words with all the weeping and wailing.

“What the devil?” I began.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Cornelis cast an impatient gaze on me and I didn’t finish my sentence.  “You really mean to tell me that you didn’t know?” he asked with a sardonic twist of his mouth.

“Know what?” I sputtered.

The alchemist gave a negligent waive of his hand at the contrivance above our heads.  The threads of the device glowed yellow-green and the noise was magically silenced.  I could hear Itsy clearly as she spoke to Cal Hicks, repeating her remorse.

“They said they’d kill you!” she cried.  “Ced told me so.  Those people are the ones who enslaved Ced.  Thinking he was only a stupid animal, the fiends discussed it in front of him.  They plan to kill your doppelgänger, once they get what they want.  And we think you will die when your double is killed!” Itsy bawled.  “I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you Cal— I mean Mr. Hicks.”

“No, no dear child,” Hicks told Itsy as he patted her hand.  “It doesn’t work like that with the doppelgängers.  If they wanted to kill me, then they’d have to kill me.”

1900 Maid with tray

Bitsy as we “thought” she was

The villains, including Bitsy the erstwhile maid at the Belle Inn moved closer.  Abruptly Itsy gave a horrified look at Cal Hicks, and put both hands to her mouth, desperately trying to avoid sicking-up.  Still halfway across the burned out yard, I saw Bitsy being less successful at controlling her reaction to the nearness of her double.

“Do you mean to tell me Itsy was in love with Cal Hicks and you deduced it that quickly?” I demanded crossly of Cornelis Drebbel.

The Dutchman of course, only gave a self-satisfied smirk.  “I know what they were after too,” he added with a wriggle of his bushy blonde eyebrows at the foes who chased us all the way into the amethyst world.

I tapped my foot, silently waiting for him to answer.  I wouldn’t give the man the satisfaction of asking.

“What did they want?” Copper asked, spoiling the point I was trying to get across.

“Why you are standing in it, Copper!” Cornelis said and tousled her new penny colored curls.  “We all knew it was a potential, we just didn’t really think they knew about the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.”Aerial Screw drawing

“So they wanted to make one of these things?  Will it really fly enough to carry us?” Copper asked.

“Oh yes, Copper.  This one will fly and carry us wherever we want to go,” Cornelis Drebbel told the girl and grinned before turning to me.

Copper looked preoccupied with her surroundings.  The alchemist moved closer to me and spoke in a faint whisper.  “They knew about the valuable drawings all along,” he told me.  “But they needed a talented inventor if they were to have any hope of making it work.  Calvin Hixon slipped through their fingers.  So they set out to kidnap his daughter, planning to use Copper to force her father to do their bidding,” Cornelis finished.

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill (1877-1955) as Ignatius Belle

“Ignatius,” I hissed accusingly.  “Bitsy got the information from him, one way or another, didn’t she,” I said and Cornelis nodded.  “Hixon surely told him about the drawings when he tried to bring Ignatius into the family fold, if he in fact didn’t tell him before.”

“Wave goodbye, Copper.  We must hurry and be off,” Cornelis told her and she waved and blew kisses to Cal Hicks, who looked very sad to see us leave.

A horrified expression came to Copper’s blue eyes.  “Absinthe hurry — come here!  Aubrieta!” Copper yelled to the little fairies.

The last time I noticed the Green Fairy and his mate the two skunk-looking fae fluttered around the upper parts of the aerial screw, making adjustments.  However, I followed Copper’s gaze and saw them through the tall window of the laboratory.  They were inside the building and investigated the array of gadgets on the long worktable.

Aubrieta, the Purple Fairy who had been trapped in a transformation as the one-eyed-one-horned-flying-purple-people-eater when she first came to this realm, chirped as she darted from one instrument to another.  Absinthe, the Green Fairy behaved similarly.  The two moved a few strange looking implements aside for reasons only they knew.

Absinthe, the Green Fairy

Absinthe, the Green Fairy

The acute hearing of the fae caused them to stop what they were doing and turn toward Copper’s voice.  The fairies dotted on the girl.  A purple and green aura surrounded the small collection of implements.  Absinthe shook his fluffy striped tail at the aura and it disappeared — along with all the devices it covered.  Aubrieta nodded to her mate in a satisfied seeming way and the two fairies popped out of sight.

An instant later Absinthe appeared on Copper’s shoulder.  Aubrieta fluttered in the air beside her, delicately playing with a strand of her coppery hair.  The display was charmingly affectionate, but it seemed sad to me.

A tear rolled down each of Copper’s cheeks.  Absinthe kissed one and Aubrieta kissed the other.  Without realizing I spoke aloud, I had murmured the word no.  Absinthe flew to me and playfully pulled the bright purple streak in my hair.  I knew the metering device would turn completely purple if we stayed too long in the amethyst world.  But the alchemist never warned me that my hair might begin to turn ultra-violet!

Absinthe turned his bantam backside toward me and fluffed out his tail, pretending he was about to spray his potent potable of super-powered absinthe poot.  Aubrieta chirped a warning at him, but both still seemed playful to me.green skunk palm

“They’re not coming with us?” I asked Cornelis, but I already knew the answer.

“Felicity, I do believe you’ve become attached to our farting fae,” Cornelis said.  “No they aren’t coming,” he continued.  “Well, not right away.  They’re far too fond of Copper to stay away.  No, they’ll make sure the portal closes properly behind us.  We don’t want all manner of riffraff from our world coming into this idyllic purple place.”

“So they’ll join us again in moments,” I said hopefully.

Copper shook her head sadly, but then brightened.  “They have a surprise for Cornelis,” she confided in an over-loud whisper that immediately got the alchemist’s attention.  “They’re going to stay and fix his submarine.  Then they’ll bring it with them,” she told me as a grinning Cornelis turned his back, pretending he didn’t hear.Drebbel submarine

As the threads of the contraption whirred the gondola lifted up into the air.  Cornelis didn’t take it up very high though.  The portal through which the hydrofoil entered was not far above the ground.  The aerial screw entered the edge of the bright pink aura that outlined the opening to our world.  Copper looked intently all around at the crowd of simians.

“Viola’s not here.  I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I really liked her.  Can’t we go back so I can tell her?  Maybe she’d like to go with us,” Copper pleaded.

“No child,” Cornelis told her looking genuinely regretful as the flying machine began to enter the gateway.  “This portal can only be used once.  If we tried to go back now, we’d be lost between.”

“Between what?” I had to ask.

Jamie Murray as Felicity

Jamie Murray as Felicity

“Between here and there,” Cornelis said and my mouth twisted, because I should have known he’d say something to annoy me.  “I hear it’s not a terribly pleasant place,” he added.

When I looked back toward the laboratory, I saw the lavender sky.  Turning my head the other direction I saw a sky of blue.  I sighed a relieved, happy breath.  Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see that blue sky again.

Just as the gondola finished traversing the gateway, I looked back and saw the hydrofoil charging toward us.

“Oh no…” Cornelis muttered.

I could see Bitsy’s angry face.  The men with her held up guns aimed at us, ready to fire the minute they got close enough.

“Cornelis, shouldn’t you put some kind of shield around us.  Those guns fire real bullets, you realize,” I reminded the alchemist.

“He wasn’t oh-no-ing about the guns,” Copper said with a light of comprehension in her blue eyes as she watched the scene in wonder.

The hydrofoil entered the portal and immediately the view was dimmed by a foggy veil.  The craft lurched violently.  Then it rocked as if in slow motion.  The fog became so thick we could no longer see inside the portal.  The fog bulged out from the gateway and then drew back.  I heard the hydrofoil’s engine cough and muffled yelling from the people manning the craft.  After a moment there was silence.Forlanini hydrofoil

Copper, the alchemist, and I stared dumbfounded.  Finally the shrill cry of a hawk broke the silence.  I gave an involuntary shudder, pondering the kind of place that must sit between the two worlds.  I wondered if Bitsy and those men deserved whatever their fate actually was.  However, I reminded myself that they were willing to do harm to Calvin Hixon and to Copper to get what they wanted.  Suddenly the idea of their fate didn’t bother me so much.

When I looked down I expected to see the tops of giant redwood trees, or the beaches of the Pacific coastal area where we were before we accidentally entered the amethyst world.  Yet I didn’t see anything of the kind.

“Cornelis, that doesn’t look like California or Oregon or any part of the Pacific coast,” I pointed down and declared.

English countryside aeiral“No?” he said and nonchalantly looked down from our vantage point, which was much higher after we went through the portal.  “Well, it is not exactly to be expected that the flying machine would return us to the place where we left in the submarine.  That portal was opened haphazardly, without professional design or calculations,” he said, finally looking a little bit concerned.

“Actually there’s no telling where it opened or where we are,” the alchemist said with that sardonic twist that curled his upper lip while his lower lip twisted to the side.

“There’s something down there that looks pretty large,” I commented, trying to see through a feathery white cloud.

Cornelis pulled a lever and twisted a crystal knob and the aerial screw moved gently lower.  I saw a massive complex of stone buildings.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Cornelis exclaimed to gales of laughter from Copper.  “It’s Windsor Castle.  We’re in England.  I haven’t been to England in at least a hundred years!  Shall we pay them a visit, Copper?”

“I don’t know Cornelis,” I began.  “That seems like a bad idea.  One doesn’t simply drop in on the Queen.”

Naturally the Dutchman paid no attention whatsoever to my protest.  The aerial screw hovered above a green area within the castle walls.  They seemed to be holding a small faire on the lawn.  I thought it must be to showcase inventions, as several large and unusual things were on display on each side of the lawn.Sm SteamboatI saw a boat dry docked that looked a lot like the paddle steamer that belonged to Ignatius Belle, as well as a dirigible tethered by a rope so that it floated twenty feet above the ground.  There was something made of gleaming metal that I supposed was a steam powered motor car.  Then I saw what I could have sworn was our road locomotive!

Our flying machine slowly drew closer to the ground and I could see the people clearly.  A tallish Asian man stood before an elaborately decorated seating area.  He wore a brocade of a white lion and a very tiny woman stood next to him.  “Alastair!” I cried in astonishment when I recognized Alastair Wong and Victoria.Burrell Road Locomotive

With my shout, everyone on the ground turned to look up at us.  I was even more surprised, if less pleasantly so, to see Sheriff Bullard and Ignatius Belle inspecting the strange looking motor car.

However, it was no surprise when the alchemy went awry and Cornelis began having difficulty controlling the aerial screw.  Our craft loomed dangerously close to a tall model of the Eiffel Tower.  The gondola became ensnared on the tower.

Alastair Wong, nimble as ever, rapidly climbed the scale model of the French wonder.  In a moment he freed the gondola and hopped onboard.  I stared in stunned appreciation of his feat.

Sessu Hayakawa as Alastair Wong

Sessu Hayakawa as Alastair Wong

“I hope you didn’t expect me to climb back down,” Wong commented jokingly.  “It’s only fair that I get to experience this magnificent machine from up here.”

Of course we assailed him with questions about the event below and the people we knew.  We already knew about the money problems of Copper’s father.  Alastair informed us that Calvin Hixon had reached out to nobility all across Europe, looking for a benefactor for his inventions.  He had kept that mostly to himself, in fear of rejection.Copper with Flowers

It turned out that Copper’s father had not abandoned her at all.  Hixon got a response to one of his requests for a sponsor.  He arranged for a woman to take care of his daughter while he, on last minute notice in the form of a royal command, sailed across the Atlantic to meet his new benefactor.

Unfortunately, the woman he hired to take care of his daughter was Bitsy.  The conniving maid had already been at work on Ignatius, having overheard conversations between the two men that revealed Ignatius was Hixon’s illegitimate son.  She also heard them discuss re-creating Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions.  She suspected that Hixon possessed the priceless drawings.

Bitsy intercepted Hixon’s communications so no one knew where he had gone.  She made it look like Copper had been abandoned.  Bitsy went to Ether Farthing of Merciful Haven Orphanage and put a bug in her ear that Copper had been left on her own.  Bitsy had thought that if the orphanage took Copper, the girl would be neatly out of Bitsy’s way.  Then Bitsy could search for the drawings and anything else that might be of use in her scheme.

Ethel FarthingOne thing in Alastair’s narration surprised me. I would have thought the mean spirited people from Merciful Haven were involved in the mess.  However, it seemed that they were simply bad people, and not otherwise involved.

Cornelis regained control of the aerial screw and the threads twisted smoothly again.  We floated slowly closer to the grandstand where Alastair and tiny Victoria were standing when we arrived.

I gasped.  “Oh! That’s the Queen isn’t it?  Queen Victoria?” I said excitedly and Alastair chuckled and confirmed my brilliant bit of deduction.

Cornelis really didn’t need to snigger at me the way he did.  Looking down I saw an elegant man of middle years.  He bowed down on one knee before the Queen of England.  He seem completely focused on the monarch, hardly even noticing our flying machine.

Copper

Copper

Abruptly Copper gave a shrill cry, “Daddy!”

Calvin Hixon looked upward toward his child’s cry and a broad smile split his face.  Finally he noticed the aerial screw and wonder lit his eyes.  The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India was utterly forgotten the moment Calvin Hixon saw his daughter.

It wouldn’t have been Cornelis Drebbel if we had landed smoothly.  The contrivance that carried us gave a loud screech.  The Dutchman said he’d have it fixed in a jiffy.

“Cornelis, no!  Please, let’s just land as best we can.  We’re not that far above the ground,” I pleaded.

“Actually Felicity, we’re at enough of a height to risk serious injury,” Alastair said in a reasonable voice.  “I know you wouldn’t put Copper at risk,” he added and I slumped in resignation.

A yellowish green aura surrounded the alchemist.  Cornelis climbed to balance on the edge of the gondola.  He was doing something to the threads of the screw, but I couldn’t see what he did.  The machine stopped making that shrill sound and it appeared to run smoothly.

“See!” Cornelis exclaimed proudly, still balanced on the rim of the gondola.  “Simple as that,” he said with a satisfied nod.

Jamie Murray as Felicity

Jamie Murray as Felicity

The threads of the screw began to rotate rapidly.  “Alastair! The brass lever behind you,” Cornelis cried.

Alastair Wong whirled to move the lever.  When he touched it the aerial screw lurched violently, but immediately slowed to normal and continued to descend.

However, Cornelis Drebble fell from the gondola when the craft lurched.  I saw his body falling rapidly toward the ground.  At the last instant he popped out of sight.  Sometimes when he popped away like that it was a while before the alchemist could return.  I never understood how the pop works.

Alastair Wong, ever a gentleman helped me alight from the gondola — not that I needed assistance thank you.  I was just being polite.  I was not conforming to the constraints of society.

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong

The diminutive Victoria Wong rushed to join us, delighted to see Copper again.  Not to mention the fact that she was quietly pleased with Alastair’s theatrical rescue of the air machine from being snared on the tower.

Copper and her father had a joyous reunion.  Hixon had sent an excited telegram to Ignatius Belle when Queen Victoria asked him to take part in the faire that was in progress.  Ignatius hurried to join him and let him know the fullness of what was happening at home.  However, none of them knew about the amethyst world.

“So where is this amazing alchemist?” Calvin Hixon wanted to know.

I looked around, beginning to feel worried that Cornelis hadn’t yet reappeared.  Then I heard a sharp pop.  A woman screamed and Palace Guards hurried to her side.  When I got a look between the broad shoulders of the guards, I cringed and shook my head.

Cornelis Drebbel had rematerialized.  The Dutchman sat in the lap of Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria olderThe Queen’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the strange man who appeared out of nowhere and landed in her royal lap.  I feared she’d demand his head right then and there.  Then I remembered his skull was safely in my hatbox.  He wasn’t exactly alive, so he couldn’t precisely be killed.

I was absolutely aghast when Cornelis Drebbel wriggled his bushy blonde eyebrows at Queen Victoria.

Her eyes widened as she looked at the alchemist.  “We are not amused,” she said evenly.

It was even more surprising when a wicked glint came to her eyes and abruptly the Queen pinched his bottom and Cornelis shot up from her lap.  For the very first time, I saw shock paint the face of Cornelis Drebbel.

The end

***

copper-cover-3-25-2015

***

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Copper’s Secret

Note:  There’s a voting poll at the end of this post.  Please Vote!

 

Copper whispered a secret! But you know how loudly she whispers…

Victorian girls whisper_Hotel Perrin

So I might as well let you in on it too. It’s about the next episode. No, I promise I really didn’t know it when I posted the previous episode — you know these serials are pure “pantser” unplanned fun — but it turns out that Episode 33 was the penultimate installment of our “interactive” Steampunk serial. I’ve written the conclusion, which is waiting in the wings of my master document.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers concludes this weekend!

Come on now… you knew this was going to happen. Stop crying or I’ll cry too.

What’s next?

Copper w ChalkboardFor about two years I’ve faithfully given episodes of serial stories, driven by the three things you send. In total I spend at least 3 full days writing, designing, and following up on each episode.  If I didn’t have a full-time job that might not be a big deal, but I have to earn a living.  However, I get enjoyment and satisfaction from writing them and even more, I absolutely love interacting with all of you!

I do plan to write another “three things” serial, and will want you to send the things. All sorts of ideas keep battering the doors of the chambers in my mind, demanding to be heard and seen.

Atonement_in_Bloom_1_03-24-2014However, I’m very much in need of a significant break. Else I’ll never finish another novel. “Atonement in Bloom” (book-2) beckons!  But what to do to keep you from drifting away???  I’d be truly hurt if I lost friends.

So for this so called break, I’ve decided to stick around, but do something less labor intensive. It’s also something to ensure I keep working on book-2.

Until I finish “Atonement in Bloom” I will post weekly updates on my progress, or something to do with the novel.  

— AND– I have a couple of ideas to make these interim posts more interesting…

1:  I could give you snippets from Esmeralda’s Journal.  No, not Ralda Lawton, the heroine of “Atonement, Tennessee.” I mean her past incarnation as the long ago Esmeralda Gwynedd!

(Farther ahead… Book-3 will be set in Esmeralda’s day and you’ll learn why she needed to “atone.”  So it’s sort of a pre-preview.)

Here’s an example:

Esmeralda’s Journal

Blue rose, symbol of the impossible

Blue rose, symbol of the impossible

Dear Diary,
I finally saw it. The blue rose. He told me it is the symbol of the impossible.  And should it grow in my garden my life would be filled with impossible things.  He also warned me to take care.  That my misdeeds could follow me beyond this mortal coil and into lifetimes to come.

Then he bent down, so near to my face that his lips brushed my cheek when he again spoke.  “And so will I follow you, Esmeralda,” he said.

Now remember, Esmeralda Gwynedd’s full story won’t be told until book-3.  I’m still working on book 2 right now.  So maybe using her is not a good idea after all.  So…

2.  I also thought about giving you weekly recipes from Bethany, our Goth accountant. It turns out she’s a bit of a baker. That would be more relevant to book-2.  Hmmm. Okay, let’s do a poll. Come on and vote everybody!

Once I’ve finished “Atonement in Bloom,” a new three things serial will begin.  So be thinking of things to send.

The steam locomotive to the Victorian Era will be at the platform one more time this weekend. I hope you’ll be there.

Hugs,

Teagan

Rewind – Three Things Episodes 29 – 30

Welcome back to the Jazz Age and our little 1920’s serial story.

There are so many different (not to mention fascinating) holidays at this time of year.  Whatever you may have celebrated — or perhaps you choose not to honor any day at all — no matter what the case, I hope it has been a time of happiness, health, and satisfaction for you.

Guitar Mancer Cover final 05-04-2016I appreciate each of you for sticking around for this “rewind” of the original interactive serial.  With work and other things, my writing time is very limited. So this rerun has given me a little time to work on novels in progress.

Atonement Tennessee

Available at Amazon

I’m still fleshing out the draft for The Guitar Mancer.  The mythology I created for that story (National Novel Writing Month 2014) took me to unanticipated scenarios, causing me to stumble for awhile. But now I’ve embraced that part of the story and come to love the difficult turn.

However, I have a bit of angst about working on this new novel. I’m such a slow writer that I really should have skipped NaNoWriMo this year and focused on book-2 of Atonement, Tennessee.

atonement_in_bloom_1_03-24-2014

Atonement in Bloom, the sequel, still gets tended and nurtured as I go along. The new supernatural characters are leafing out, and the seed of the mystery subplot has sprouted and ripened in my mind.

The “things” for the ending really took control and led to such a strong concluding episode that I had to divide it into three parts.  So today I’m giving you Episode-29 and part one of the conclusion.

Join me for a cup of java, and let’s get a wiggle on with this rewind.

Without further preamble, here is episode 29 of the Three Things Serial.

29.  Cypress Tree, Mosquito, Gams1920s Paper Moon Couple

All the Fabro cousins stood on one corner of the deck, apparently just beating their gums about nothing in particular while they fished.  Frankie swung his fishing line out into the water, and then looked up at me with that adorable lopsided grin of his.  Okay, so it’s just the way my pop raised me… so I don’t talk a lot about these things, but I had gotten pretty sweet on Frankie.

In case you’ve forgotten, the yacht was on the way to the Ca’ d’Zan mansion in Sarasota, the rich circus magnate having invited everyone for the trip.  We barely had enough time to hurry back to the office building where most of us lived (except the Fabros) and grab a few personal things.  Andy and Mona were below decks talking to Ringling about the Astronaute man’s short film idea, which was the impetus for the generous invitation to all of us.

Life October 1929As I walked across the deck toward Frankie and his cousins I pulled my sweater closer.  Around Sarasota it was 61 degrees Fahrenheit (°F), still warm compared to most places.  But out on the open water it felt a lot cooler to me.  My gams were freezing and I wished for some thick wool stockings, or — the flapper in me hated to think it, but maybe a longer skirt!

The boys didn’t seem to notice the cold.  All of them had their shirtsleeves rolled back.  That was the first time I paid any attention to the tattoos.  They all had the same one on their forearms.  Once I had asked Frankie about his, but he seemed shy about it and conveniently put his arm around my shoulders where I couldn’t see the tattoo.  It was of a Maltese cross inside a triangle and it had a spear through it.

The men abruptly stopped talking when I walked up.  One of the twins elbowed the other, Fred or Fedel — it was hard to tell them apart.  Flavio shot me a funny surreptitious look, but that was just him.  Charming as he was, he did have sort of an odd way about him.  For the first time I felt kind of awkward around the guys.  I shivered dramatically to cover my self-consciousness and commented on the weather.  “At least it’s too cold for mosquitoes!  Catching anything?” I asked.

Fred (or was it Fedel?) held up an impressive string of fish, and I made a big deal over them.  Frankie waived toward the shore.  I could make out some cypress trees and realized that there must be a stream or lake just beyond my view.  The yacht wasn’t too far from shore.  “My grandma always said that there’d be good fishing if a cypress tree was within sight,” he told me.1920s Cosmo Fishing cover

Frankie seemed to really love his grandma.  That was one of the things that endeared him to me.  I remembered the time he threw his shoe to stop the guy who broke into Boris’ place.  He had proudly said “Good thing I’ve got big feet!  I get them from my grandma!”

I chuckled at the memory.  He gave me a funny look for a second, but his smile never faltered and he reached out and pulled me closer to him.  I snuggled up under his arm — after all, it was kind of cold out on the deck.

***

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 1

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

Ca'd'Zan Garden

Ca’d’Zan Garden, Ringling estate

I looked down at my clasped hands and told myself not to fidget.  My eyes wandered absently around the amazing rose garden of the Ca’d’Zan mansion.  I was vaguely aware of the cold bench on which I sat.  Even at that time of year some of the roses still bloomed.

Mona said something and I jumped.  I was so preoccupied that I didn’t even notice when she walked up.  “Why so glum, Pip?” she said with the smile that made everyone like her.  Mona the Movie Star sat down and put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a little hug.  “You and Frankie have a little spat?”

I shook my head and gulped.  Why did I want to cry?  Why should I?  There had never really been anything going on in the first place.  Mona hugged my shoulder a little tighter.  “Go ahead and cry if you want to, Sweet Pea.”1920s PhotoPlay

That name made me smile.  It was what a lot of people called my grandmother.  We both had P.I.P. as our initials, though when people kept spelling her name, Phanny with an “F” (making it Fanny), well Granny just went with the flow.

I brushed away a single tear.  “No, we didn’t fight.  I’m just feeling out of sorts.  I thought Frankie liked me, but all through the trip here, he acted like I practically didn’t exist.  It really doesn’t matter,” I said with a sniffle.

Mona handed me an embroidered handkerchief and I dried my eyes and blew my nose.  A window was open, and somewhere inside we heard the happy voices of Countess Babikov and her friend Mable Ringling.  “Please won’t you play, Bepa?” our hostess asked.  Then I heard charming music from a harpsichord.

“It sounds like those two are having fun,” Mona said.  “Why don’t we join them.  It’s a little too cool out here.  This bench is freezing my bottom!”

Rose covered doorWe stood to go inside.  Movement caught my eye at the far end of the huge rose garden.  It was one of the Fabros.  However, all four of them looked so much alike that it was hard to tell them apart from that distance.  He pushed back a thick leafy climbing rose and seemed to struggle briefly with something.  He looked over his shoulder and motioned to someone out of my view.  Stepping forward he disappeared into the vegetation.  Then two more Fabros followed, and finally a larger man. Comparing his height to the others, I recognized him for Frankie.

Before I knew what my feet were doing, they were taking me quietly down that path.  Mona grabbed my elbow, but followed.  I made a shushing sound when she asked what was going on.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “But I want to find out.”

 Stay tuned for more of these three things (Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx — especially Pyx) in part two of the conclusion.

***

Copyright © 2013 – 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Things Conclusion: Part 3

Here it is, everyone — the conclusion to this storyline. Forgive me for making this episode a good deal longer than usual, but I New Movie magwanted to do it justice. After all it’s the conclusion to our Three Things Serial.

I don’t kid myself that this serial is literature. From a technical standpoint it hasn’t had the structure for that.  However, I was determined to let the things all of you sent drive every aspect of this story — the characters, the setting, and the plot.  So naturally there are jumps and jitters in the plot — it’s the nature of writing the story in this “interactive” way.

It has been a great pleasure to have everyone contribute.  I sincerely hope you will do the same with the next incarnation of “three things,” whatever form that takes.  Your participation is the most important thing.

Now hang on to your hats because here we go!

Three Concluding Things Episode 30, Part 3

Clasped Hands, Harpsichord, Pyx

I tossed and turned in restless dreams before I finally awoke in the “wee hours of the morning,” as my granny would say.  The one that woke me was disturbing.  Throughout the dream I heard the music of the harpsichord.  Boris stood in front of a huge version of the carved medallion I had seen inside the ornately decorated instrument, the emblem of a dragon resting above a shield showing banners with crosses. In the dream it was all solid gold.  I clasped Frankie’s hand in a grip so tight that my fingernails dug into his skin, but something pulled him from my grasp.

Life Flapper BatA knight in armor wearing a priest’s collar (bizarre yes, but you know how dreams are) entered the room to give someone last rites.  The dragon climbed down from the shield.  I was afraid it would breathe fire and kill us all, but it opened its maw and consumed everything, including Boris and Frankie, in its giant jaws, even the room was gone. Only the knight, the gold shield, the harpsichord, and I remained. We were at the far end of the rose garden.

I cowered beneath the harpsichord and watched as the knight-priest gave the dragon last rites.  Then the knight dropped a large gold pyx on the ground.  The pyx opened and the dragon shrank down and got inside the receptacle.  The knight parted the vines of the climbing roses and disappeared, taking the pyx with him.

Then I woke and sat up in bed.  I paced my room, trying to shake off the dream.  From my window I could see the rose garden in the moonlight.  A light flashed in the distance.  It flashed several more times, in what seemed to be a pattern.  This unexpected sight only added to my unease.  A number of people lived on the property.  I told myself that it was likely just someone who’d been out late at a speakeasy.  However, I knew I wouldn’t go back to sleep.  So I slipped into my robe, lit a candle, and headed downstairs, meaning to go to the kitchen and make some warm milk.

I walked into the dark music room as a shortcut to the kitchen.  Maybe I was still unnerved from the 1922 Sat Postdream, but when I heard a door open I blew out my candle and ducked under the first thing I saw that was big enough — the harpsichord.  “Just as I did in the dream,” I thought with a shudder.

My head bumped against the underside of the harpsichord.  “Ouch!” I thought. “That didn’t feel like wood.”  I put my hand to the spot and my fingers met cold metal, a round shape.  However, I didn’t stop to think about it, because I heard footsteps.

From my hiding place I saw a large pair of feet and I recognized Frankie’s shoes.  I felt like a silly goose for hiding — it was only Frankie!  I thought mischievously about popping out to scare the stew out of him.  But something held me back.

More footfalls brought a familiar voice.  Flavio.  “We’ve looked everywhere else,” he said to Frankie.  “It has to be down there.”

“We’ve already checked that hidey-hole from top to bottom,” Frankie said in an exasperated tone.  “The Priory must have moved it.  Or laid out all this as a red herring,” he added as I watched his feet shift.  “Do you really think it could heal the dead, like the story says?”

Flavio snorted.  “Of course not.  But it’s made of solid gold.  All the legends say so.  Our Order in Europe would pay a king’s ransom to get their hands on the gold Pyx of the Knights Hospitaller.  Their grudge against the Russians goes back to the Pyx1600’s.”

“The old woman wouldn’t give up any information,” Frankie said.  “I told you it was wrong for us to grab her. I don’t think she knows anything, despite the Order saying the old count’s grandfather inherited it.  That was a long time ago; anything could have happened to it,” Frankie added and stepped closer to my hiding place.

He came right over to the harpsichord.  Frankie sat down on the bench, causing it to creek.  I scrunched up into as small of a ball as I could manage and held my breath.

I heard the sound of Flavio moving toward the doors that opened out onto Mable’s rose garden.  “Boris knows; I’m sure of it.  But he’d die before he told the Order anything about the Knights Hospitaller and especially about the solid gold pyx,” Flavio practically spat.  “It’s ‘protected by a dragon’ and that’s the only dragon we’ve found.  Come on.  We’ll check one more time.  Fred and Fedel are already down there.”

Silent Detective Movie coverFirst I thought of the dragon in my dream.  Then I remembered the one on the carving in the harpsichord.  The shield also had a knight’s helmet.  “It’s protected by a dragon,” Flavio’s words echoed in my mind as the French doors opened quietly and the two men went outside.

Their footsteps sounded on the path.  I knew they must be going to the hidden spot where I’d watched them disappear behind the climbing roses the day before.  I thought about all that mysterious talk about the Order and the Knights Hospitaller, and I remembered the odd tattoos I saw on all the Fabros when they were fishing.

Applesauce!  What the devil was going on here?  My heart rejected what my head had figured out.  With an icy knot in my stomach I knew that Frankie and his cousins were responsible for the break-in at Boris’ place, and worse — the abduction of Countess Babikov.  No wonder they found the bad guys so fast.  The two men they brought for Ringling to hand over to the G-men were either expendable associates, or another group that was after the valuable gold pyx.

I gulped, feeling sick.  I crawled out from under the harpsichord and ran out into the rose garden.  My slippers weren’t made for the outdoors, but at least they didn’t make any sound as I hurried toward the climbing roses.  In the light of the full moon I could see a gate beneath the vines.  I pulled the latch and cringed when it squeaked.  I took a deep breath and stepped beyond the gate.  Then I felt an arm around my waist and a hand over my mouth.1920s Cosmo Feb

My muffled scream hardly made a sound.  I heard “Ssshhhh!” and it had an oddly familiar sound.  “Shush, Pip,” Andy whispered.  “It’s me and Boris.  Now you’ve got to be quiet, okay?”

I nodded and he moved his hand and let go of me.  I turned accusing eyes on the two men.  Boris shook his head “No.”  In a voice so soft I could barely hear he said, “This is dangerous Pip.  You don’t understand what’s happening.”

With a sigh I told him that I actually did know what was going on.  “At least some of it,” I whispered.  “But where is the dragon?”

Boris looked shocked, but Andy gave a little smile.  “I told you she was a smart cookie,” our little Astronaute man told him.

In answer Boris switched on a flashlight and shone it upward.  The beam of light revealed a small windowless stone building.  Above the door was an emblem of a dragon.  He turned off the beam but motioned toward the door.  “Your friends are part of a group that followed me across Europe.  They think I have a valuable artifact.  It does not belong to their…” Boris hesitated, probably looking for the right word in English.  “It doesn’t belong to their group, but they desire it none the less.  It is a feud, you see?”

When I nodded he continued in hushed tones.  “My ancestors were part of an organization, a priory.  Your friends, their maiden-n-knightancestors were in an opposing group.  But their group still survives.  They are not nice people.  They think I can lead them to this artifact.  I would have given it to them, or anything else they asked to save my Babushka when they abducted her.  But I did not have it.  I don’t know if it still exists.”

“The pyx,” I said.

Boris tensed and looked at me suspiciously.  Andy drew a sharp breath.  “I heard them talking just now,” I said feeling annoyed by their distrustful reaction.  “I wouldn’t be out in the night wearing my robe and slippers if I were meeting up with a bunch of crooks now would I?” I said dryly.

The Russian breathed and relaxed.  Andy smiled and put his arm around my shoulders in a little hug.  “Did you see any more of them coming?” he asked Boris.

“No.  It doesn’t seem that anyone else will be joining them,” Boris answered.  “The back door is secured?”

Andy gave a smile so wicked that it surprised me.  “You bet-cha,” he said.

Then Andy and Boris lifted a heavy iron bar out of the vines and dropped it across the door with a loud G-men Posterclang.  Shouting ensued from inside the little stone building.  Boris calmly stepped back into the rose garden and used his flashlight to signal toward the mansion.  Then a big commotion came from Ca’d’Zan as a dozen of Ringling’s men hustled toward us.  In the distance I heard a whine that soon became the wail of sirens.  So, the police were on the way too, I realized and the sick feeling returned.

I thought about the young twins, and Flavio, and especially about Frankie.  This was not something I could bear to stick around and watch.  I told the guys that I was cold and turned to go back inside.  But I looked up at the dragon above the door and something fell into place in my mind.

“What is it?” Andy asked, noticing the strange expression on my face.

I tilted my head as the epiphany dripped through the crannies in my mind.  “They said ‘It’s protected by a dragon’ and this,” I pointed to the dragon above the door, “is the only dragon they could find.  But there is another one.”

By then the men from the house reached us.  They parted to let a man with a hat and a badge through.  So, one of the Feds was already there.  Apparently Mr. Ringling or Countess Bepa, or both had their own suspicions.  “You folks should go back up to the house,” he told us.  Then he seemed to recognize Boris.  “Your grandmother is very upset.”

Boris looked like he would protest.  I looked at him and Andy.  “Well, personally, I don’t think I can bear to see this,” I said.  I didn’t know I was crying until I felt a tear fall from my cheek to my neck.  I brushed at the tears, irritated that I would cry about something that never was.  “Frankie in with these kidnappers?  I must be a stupid bimbo.”1920s PhotoPlay

Andy took my elbow and Boris limped at my other side as we walked back to the mansion.  I didn’t look back.  I just couldn’t.  Inside the music room we found the Ringlings, Countess Bepa, and Mona.  The women were in their dressing gowns, but Ringling was dressed.  I had a hunch he was ready for what happened.  He was pretty darned shrewd.

A gunshot rang out.  Then several more cracked the predawn silence.  “Frankie!”

Boris caught my arm to keep me from going outside.  Ringling had a gun in his hand and he moved to a place where he could see farther into the rose garden.  He squinted into the moonlit shadows.  The sound of feet pounding the path was followed by the voice of the Fed.  “The big one got away.  I’m not sure if I hit ‘em.”

I was too stunned by everything that happened that night to know what to say or do.  I stood mutely looking into the darkness. Frankie on the lam from the law! I wondered if he had been shot.  I wondered how he could betray all of us.  It was clear that he and Flavio had gotten close to Mona and me just to have access to Boris.

“Pip, this is serious business,” Boris said in his accent.  He looked at me intently, making me bring my chaotic thoughts to the moment.  “What were you saying about there being another dragon?”

The comment caused Bepa and Ringling both to start.  “The harpsichord,” I said.  “Look at that medallion inside it by the pastoral scene.”1920s Style Book

“That’s very observant of you dear Pip,” the countess said.  “But there is nothing behind that.  I have already checked.”

“Not behind it,” I said.  I took the flashlight from Boris and I crawled under the ornate instrument.

The light revealed a metal circle where I had bumped my head earlier.  It had the look of a sort of maker’s mark, like something the craftsman might have put there.  But it also looked like…  If I were to twist it just so… that it would come out.  So I gave it a little twist.  A moment later I crawled out from under the harpsichord with a round box, decorated just like the carving inside the lid, with a shield and banners.

I held out the solid gold pyx.

It was heavy and obviously worth a fortune.  It was hard to believe that men would plot and hurt one another for hundreds of years over something like the object in my hand, no matter how beautiful or valuable.  However, Boris and Countess Babikov were pursued halfway across the world by men trying to find the gold pyx.

I shook my head thinking about everything that had happened.  There were just three things that I knew for sure.  One – I was dog tired.  Two – I didn’t want to have any more weird, and maybe even prophetic dreams.  And three…

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

There would always be at least three things to keep my life interesting.

***