Sir John and Emile sat in the shop whilst Phlebotomous went to the back to get Osvold. Emile flicked through the paper, a cigarette hanging down from his lip.
“Oof,” he announced, “looks like Marchauld has died.”
“The one from the Clairvoyant Research Institute?” said Sir John.
“Yes, that one,” said Emile, who then smirked. “Hmm, I wonder if he saw that coming.”
Phlebotomous and Osvold came in then and sat down opposite Sir John and Emile.
“Osvold,” said Sir John, “we wanted to ask you about the day M Dinard died. Do you remember that day?”
Osvold nodded slowly and sadly then looked down.
“Yes, of course, you do,” said Sir John. “The last name is his meeting book, perhaps the last person he met, was a Mr Clackprattle. Do you know who that is?”
Osvold looked thoughtful for a while and then leaned over to Phlebotomous and whispered.
“He thinks he’s a very fat man…” said Phlebotomous. Osvold leaned in again.
“…who vexed M Dinard enough to make him use bad language,” said Phlebotomous.
Emile coughed and laughed.
“That describes half of Paris,” he said. Osvold leaned in to Phlebotomous again.
“He was accompanied by a strange short man who spoke in long sentences,” said Phlebotomous. “And he rubbed his hands together a lot.”
“That’s them,” said Sir John, “Osvold, do you know what they wanted? Why they saw M Dinard.”
Osvold looked away again in thought and then turned back to Phlebotomous. He whispered in the fellow vampire’s ear.
“Oh gosh,” said Phlebotomous. “Really?”
Osvold nodded then leaned in again and whispered to Phlebotomous.
Emile turned in towards Sir John then.
“Are you sure these are vampires?” he said quietly. “They’re not what the literature has you believe.”
Sir John smiled.
“I can only assume that Mr Stoker didn’t meet an actual example,” he said.
They turned back to the pair to find Phlebotomous looking paler than usual with Osvold holding his hand. Phlebotomous was wriggling about in his chair.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” he said. “This sounds bad. It seems that Mr Clackprattle was asking Dinard about how to find some kind of magical weapon. It seemed to be in four parts?”
Phlebotomous glanced at Osvold who nodded.
“The parts were all hidden in Paris and M Dinard was in possession of a map to the parts. It was this he was planning to sell to Mr Clackprattle on the day he died.”
Sir John looked concerned.
“Osvold, do you know if Mr Clackprattle came here? If he got the map?” he said.
Osvold nodded once.
“And do you know if there is a copy of this map.” Sir John continued.
Osvold shook his head and looked to his feet.
“This is indeed bad,” said Sir John to Emile. “This weapon must be something special for them to go looking for it. If they have a map and we don’t…”
“You’re sure?” said Emile, addressing the vampires. “There was no copy?”
Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.
“Mr Clackprattle was apparently insistent. He paid a large sum of money to make sure it was the only copy. M Dinard said that it was only because of this money that he could deal with … what was that word Osvold?”
Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again and whispered something. Phlebotomous went a light pink.
“I don’t think I can say that out loud,” he said. “It’s rather rude.”
Emile’s mouth dropped open and the cigarette fell from his lips into his lap.
“Merde,” he said and retrieved it.
“It was something like that, yes,” said Phlebotomous.
“It was a set-up, that’s why he was killed!” said Sir John. “So no one else could look for this weapon.”
Osvold leaned into Phlebotomous again.
“Then we are, how do you say, stuffed in a hole,” said Emile. “Do we just wait until he finds it?”
“We have to do something,” said Sir John.
Phlebotomous coughed and they both looked round.
“Osvold says that although there wasn’t a map,” said the vampire, “there were some notes.”
“Osvold,” said Sir John, “do you think we might look at them?”