The sun had set and the interior of the art church was lit by candles. The near constant construction work had finished for the day. It had produced some small cubicle-like rooms made from ornate, organic panels. A huge table had been placed where the altar had once been and scattered on it were many pieces of paper covered in symbols. Around the table stood Emile, Sabine, Marie, Sir John, Miss Henderson, Morag, Phlebotomus and Osvold.
“So” said Emile, “we have good news and bad news.”
“What’s the bad?” said Sir John.
“The bad news is that we have two murderous swine loose in Paris searching for a weapon of immense power. The weapon is in four parts, we think, and they have a map to the parts,” said Emile. “And we do not.”
“That does sound rather bad,” said Sir John, “put like that. What’s the good news?”
“We have the notes that Dinard made when he acquired and studied the map.” said Emile.
“And… they tell us the location of the four parts?” said Sir John.
“Possibly…” said Emile. “We have a small problem with the notes.”
Everyone looked down at the table and the pages covered in symbols.
“It looks Greek to me,” said Miss Henderson.
“It is Greek,” said Emile. “I’ve been translating the notes with Osvold’s help, but it’s a slow process and its hard to be sure we have it right. It seems like either a dialect or…”
“Ancient Greek,” said Sabine. Everyone looked at her.
“How do you know that?” said Emile, looking flabbergasted.
“Because I can read Ancient Greek,” she said, “and Latin for matter. I am quite the scholar of antiquities.”
Miss Henderson rolled her eyes.
“Then what does it say?” said Emile.
Sabine picked up a piece of paper.
“The four pieces are represented by four elements, each one kept safe by a guardian who will set the seeker a task. The task will conform to the element in question, so physical for earth, intellectual for air and so on,” she read. “The elements must be acquired in order, beginning with earth.”
Emile looked shocked.
“It has taken the two of us all week just to decipher one page,” he said.
Sabine shrugged and picked up another.
“Ha! That pompous ass will be back in the shop within the hour when he sees the map. Whoever designed it is a true genius. It is a map of mind states not places. Only someone who has walked and knows the streets of this city can use it,” she read.
There was a murmur from the group.
“Then maybe it is not too bad,” said Marie. “Maybe they cannot read it.”
“They will just hire some urchin,” said Sabine. “For a centime they could crack the code. Dinard was a fool to let them have this map.”
Osvold made a whimpering noise and Phlebotomous patted him on the shoulder. Miss Henderson looked pityingly at the small vampire then shot a look at Sabine.
“Still,” said Marie, “it is some hope. Did Dinard find where the earth part was kept?”
Sabine riffled through the notes reading then rejecting several before reading one in detail. She gave a short high laugh.
“Yes,” she said, “he found it. He says that he didn’t even need to walk the street to find this place. He says it was almost too obvious, stuck between the palaces of desire and consumption.”
“Where is it?” said Sir John.
Sabine looked at all of them and smiled.
“The first element is to be found,” she said, “in Montmartre.”