Marie and Sir John sat one side of a large ornate desk. Behind the desk was large chair and behind that were drapes and a large picture of an austere man. The real life man appeared from behind the drapes and smiled at the Jennings.
“Good afternoon, Sir John, Marie,” he said, “how may I be of service? I was intrigued by your communication.”
“Good afternoon, Lord Anglestone,” said Sir John and Marie nodded. “We were most interested in your knowledge about Diarmuid Mac Dubh. We are conducting, ah, an investigation regarding some artefacts of his.”
“Aha!” said Lord Anglestone. “You were at the British Museum, yes? Well, at least one mystery is solved. I have retained some investigators to look for the missing artefacts. They mentioned that there had been a mix up. May I ask who you are investigating for?”
“I believe our employer wishes to … remain anonymous,” said Sir John, mildly embarrassed.
“No matter,” chuckled Lord Anglestone, “I was merely curious. I can’t keep old Diarmuid to myself can I? He is something of a family obsession. I inherited it from my father, rather like my title. You know of course I have written a book on the fellow”
“Why is he so interesting?” asked Marie, “And why would someone steal these artefacts.”
“Well,” said Lord Anglestone, “he is an intriguing chap. Seemingly self taught, although there are rumours of contact with Robert Fludd, another alchemist. Worked all his life at this alchemy business, which is really just a fancy word for chemistry. In that regard he was years ahead of his time. He invented a large amount of laboratory apparatus that was revolutionary at the time, and is now commonplace. Of course, doing all these experiments at home had certain risks, which he fell foul to. There was a fire at his home, and he was killed along with his daughter. The wife had died years before, I believe.
“As for the artefacts, they have attracted a certain macabre fascination with those who believe in ghosts and other such hocus pocus. Because he was an alchemist, you see, they believe they can use them to create what they call the Summum Bonum, the sum of all good. It is known more commonly as the Philosopher’s Stone. It is rumoured to be able to turn lead into gold and extend life. All nonsense of course, but intriguing that a man of Mac Dubh’s intelligence was taken in.
“And now, tragically, the artefacts have been stolen, as you know. I have some men on the case, the very best. You’re welcome to help of course, and we could share what we know.”
“Thank you,” said Sir John, “perhaps if we find anything of note we’ll update you and vice versa.”
“Of course!” said Lord Anglestone. “I only hope these priceless artefacts are found before they are damaged. But thank you for your time, I look forward to speaking again with some news.”
Lord Anglestone escorted Marie and Sir John out of the room then wandered back to the desk.
“Well, Frater Gravitas Maximas,” he said, “it seems that we are both getting our wishes.”
An obese man with a strange amulet, a sphere in a coil, came out from behind the drapes. He stared obsessively at the door where the Jennings had just left.
“Indeed we are, Frater Princeps,” he said. “Indeed we are.”
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