Magum Imperatoria, Part Six
From the records of Father Benedict de Monte
We had found no leads in months. Whatever system Henry had expected us to know for his book to help with ours was not as obvious to us as it apparently was to him, and now we had no way to ask him for help with it. We were still hopeful we could find something if we reviewed everything we did know, however, and were walking through Pittsburgh on our way to check on a possible source when a child stepped on my shoelace and pulled it just enough that I needed to stop and retie them. I knelt out of the way to do so, with Akshainie leaning on a wall between me and a pay phone. Just as I finished up, the phone rang, and before I realized I should tell her to ignore it Akshainie had answered it. I sighed and stood, realizing I was going to have to wait until she finished whatever was happening before we could move on.
“Yeah, he’s right here,” she said, then handed the phone out to me. “It’s for you.”
“They asked for me, specifically?” I asked. She nodded, and I stared at her for a moment in confusion before taking the receiver. “Father de Monte.”
“Father, hello,” a male voice, British accent. “I was hoping you had a moment to talk.”
“Where are you? How did you get this number?”
“It was given to me. I was told to ring this exact number at this exact time to speak to a Father Benedict de Monte about an unusual red spiral.” He must have heard my hesitation, as he added after a moment, “is this unexpected?”
“This is a pay phone. We only just happened to be walking past it when it rang. I would be very curious about your source.”
“As would I. Unfortunately, they had at least one intermediary. I suspect we will get much more done if we focus on the matter at hand.”
“The red spiral.”
“Indeed. I’m told you’re familiar with the cult who uses this symbol?”
“The Brood of Nachash,” I said, softly, as if anyone walking by was paying attention. “I’ve been working that case for some years.”
“Good. I have reason to believe they are active in my territory, and I would like to bring you in to shine some light on the matter.”
“And your territory is what, exactly?”
“The British Empire.”
“Not much of a British Empire left, is there?” I saw the color drain from Akshainie’s face at that, and her hands ball into fists.
“Who is that?” she hissed through her teeth.
“I suppose it’s a matter of perspective,” the man said.
“I’m sorry, who are you?” I asked.
“Oh, goodness me, of course. My name is Michael Hudson, son of Lord Hudson, acting emissary to the magical population in service to the Queen.”
“Michael Hudson,” I whispered, covering the receiver. Akshainie’s eyes narrowed.
“You tell that posh bastard I’d rather clean up the mess after the Brood burns his whole nation down than work with a Hudson.” The words were dripping with venom, and I wondered if there was any real venom involved when she spit as if the name itself wasn’t suitable for her mouth.
“What’s this all about?”
“Is everything okay, Father?” Michael asked.
“Ah, it seems my associate has some…hesitation to work with you.”
With that, she ripped the phone out of my hand and spoke into it herself.
“Listen here, Hudson,” she was barely stopping herself from yelling into the phone, “whatever problem you have with the Brood is on your own head.” There was a pause, and she rolled her eyes. “I’m from Iravati. Check your records, if you don’t know. I doubt your dog of an ancestor bothered hiding his work.” There was another pause, her expression only growing more stern. “Fine. Ask what you want, but know that if you show up looking for us I’ll slit your throat before you can spit a single curse from your foul lips.” She slammed the phone back into my hand and stormed down the street a little bit, where she began pacing.
“So,” I said, watching her, “that sounds like it went well.”
“Look, I don’t know what happened at Iravati, but I will find out,” he said, suddenly sounding much more tired than he had before. “The fact is, I am at a complete loss here, and fear there is a real danger that only you can help address. If there is something I can do that will begin to smooth things over with your associate to ensure you can come, know that I am more than willing to entertain the idea.”
“What’s the nature of the problem?”
“There is much I am not going to discuss over a transatlantic phone call. It will have to be enough to know that I have found evidence they are still active, and a possible hub of their power.”
“How, exactly, do you plan on us getting there?”
“Well, I would send a plane, naturally, for you and anyone else you need to bring along.”
“If there’s a site, I think I’ll need to call in someone specific.”
“Very well. It’s not like I’m paying for individual tickets.”
“Fine. Send the plane, let me try to work on things on this end. What number can I call to confirm details with you?” I wrote the number down as he said it to me, then thanked him and hung up. Once she saw that, Akshainie returned.
“Well?” she demanded. “What did you tell him?”
“I told him I’d see who I could get involved. I would very much like you to be involved, and he is willing to make some amends if they’ll get you there.”
“It shouldn’t require that! What his family did to us was wrong, and if he can’t see that—”
“He says he doesn’t know what happened yet. But he’s going to check, and hopefully he will have by the time I call him back.”
“And what do we do in the meantime?”
“We should get back to the hotel. I’ll have another call to make first, and I am very curious to hear what you hate so much about this man’s family.”
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Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.
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