From the records of Michael Hudson, dated 12 February 2007
I was waiting at the airstrip with the drivers when the plane landed. We had made sure to bring a vehicle capable of holding the four people I was told to expect, and another to handle baggage. Once the plane came to rest, we made our way forward, the drivers focusing on receiving baggage from the crew on the plane as I waited by the stairs. It was some surprise when the first person to emerge was an American cousin.
“Alice!” I called, and she ran down to give me a hug. As she pulled away and we both looked over each other, a black man stepped off the stairs and came alongside her.
“Michael, it’s so good to see you! How have you been?”
“I’ve been well, of course. You’re involved in this?”
“Well,” she said, grabbing the man’s arm and pulling him closer. “I’m involved with John Matteson here, and when he said he was coming to do work for your family I just had to come along.”
“I’m glad you did. Mr. Matteson, I believe you’re expecting some pay for your services?”
“That’s what I was told,” he said.
“And what, exactly, are your services?”
“I do some investigation and break magic.”
“An Anchor?” I asked. He nodded. “Well! I don’t think we’ve known one of your ilk in—”
“Hudson!” a woman shouted. I looked past Alice and John to a woman who looked to be of Indian descent, storming out of the plane with her hands on the hilts of swords.
“You must be the associate of Father de Monte,” I offered, smiling hopefully. “So glad you agreed to come.”
“Benedict convinced me that the Brood was enough of a problem,” she said, stopping next to Alice but not moving her hands from her weapons, “that I should at least hear you out about your offer before I kill you.”
“Very encouraging. I’ll have to thank him for that.”
“I am not known for my patience,” she said, her eyes narrowing. Behind her, the priest descended from the plane.
“Yes, I see. I did look into what happened at Iravati. Nasty business, that. However, I think I know how to repair it, with your Queen’s permission, of course.”
“You expect me to believe you’re willing to stoop so low as to ask permission of a spirit?”
“If you will spare my life long enough to see this job through, I think you’ll find I’m not quite so bad as my dear old ancestor.” We stared at each other for a long minute, then she said something under her breath in another language that I assume was a curse of some sort.
“Fine,” she said, finally, as if it was painful to say it. “But only because the Brood really is a big enough problem to warrant it. I’ll be keeping my eye on you.”
“I would expect nothing less. Father de Monte, I presume?”
“Mr. Hudson,” the priest answered, offering a handshake. I accepted it, and then directed them all to the waiting car.
“What happened in Iravati?” Matteson asked as we walked.
“Well, that’s actually to do with the last Anchor we had pass through the estate,” I answered. “Man named Jules Lysander. He was employed by one of my great-grandfathers, the Lord Hudson when the empire first established rule in the Indus Valley. It seems Mr. Lysander was tasked with dealing with what was then considered unsavoury spiritual practices and entities.”
“Unsavoury?” Alice asked. The other woman growled.
“They were far more rude about it, of course, but I think it conveys the general view they had. At any rate, Iravati is something of a key site for the naga in the region, and Mr. Lysander and the Lord Hudson determined that the way to stifle their activities would be to cut the city off from the physical realm.” We climbed into the car and waited as the driver closed the doors and made his way around to his station.
“They didn’t care about the damage they did to us all when they cut us off,” the other woman practically spat the words out.
“That is true. I would like, while you’re here, to learn more about that. Then-Lord Hudson didn’t bother writing any speculation on the matter, and it would be most helpful in knowing exactly what I need to do to make things right.”
“You can’t make things right.”
“As close as we can get, then.”
“You said you had a way to reverse it?” John asked. “How do you undo the work of an Anchor?”
“Well, normally, we don’t. Your kind are very thorough, when you choose to be. But maintaining a wall like that takes a lot of energy, and there has not been much active reinforcement of it for at least a generation. I believe it will be weak enough now that it can be brought down, with sufficient force. Which, having my magic focus the will of Iravati itself in a specific way, I think we can muster.”
“You do magic?” Alice asked. “Why was this never brought up before?”
“That,” I said, “is something you will have to ask Mother.”
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.