dinner

“So,” said Emile, regarding the remains of the food scattered around the table, “now we are all one big happy family again, and we have released our unfortunate hostage, what do we do next?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” said Sabine. “Now we know Marie has this power, we walk up to the mansion and stop this Pook creature in its tracks.”

“It is not so simple…” said Marie.

“I would imagine the mansion is heavily guarded,” said Miss Henderson. “These posh occult types always seem to have henchmen up their sleeves.”

She leaned back and pushed her arms forward, her fingers interlocked. A cracking noise proceed from them. Sabine looked mildly alarmed.

“And there is the question of Mr Clackprattle’s deadly hand,” said Sir John. “We know he can kill just by touching.”

“And also…” started Morag, “there’s… the incident at the hotel. Marie, are you sure this faun can be trusted. Remember at the hotel, you were almost mesmerised.”

Sabine let out a gasp.

“Of course I had forgotten,” she said.

Marie looked stern.

“You know I think I had done that to myself,” she said. “I was tied up in knots in my head and… that won’t happen again.”

“Nevertheless,” said Emile, “although it amazes me that I’m saying this, but I think we should proceed with caution.”

“I agree,” said Sir John. “It would be best if we kept our distance, used our knowledge to tease them out, maybe find where the next key part is.”

“You could make a stone bug again,” said Phlebotomous.

“A what?” said Emile. “Oh wait… we started this, didn’t we…”

He looked down at his feet.

“It is a little insect creature that is good for locating things.” said Marie. “I can make them from stone. It’s a good idea Phlebotomous, but it would be too slow. They could have solved the challenge while we wait for it to return to tell us where it is.”

Osvold pulled on Phlebotomous’ sleeve, who turned to smile at his friend.

“Can we follow the bug somehow?” said Emile. “So we are close by, at least?”

“They have to come back to you,” said Marie. “Which means they return to where they started.”

There was a silence as everyone tried to think through the problem. Phlebotomous pulled a piece of paper from his jacket and a pencil and started sketching something. Osvold pulled on his sleeve again and Phlebotomous patted the little vampires’ shoulder. Sir John observed them from across the table.

“What are you thinking?” said Sir John. “Some kind of device to help?”

“I’m thinking some kind of flying device,” said Phlebotomous, “that could hover over the bug so we could track it.”

Osvold pulled his sleeve again. Phlebotomous looked down quizzically then leaned down as Osvold whispered to him.

“Don’t you think they would notice something flying over their heads all the time?” said Emile.

“Maybe we could disguise it like a bird, or a insect,” said Sir John.

“Argh!” exclaimed Phlebotomous loudly. Everyone at the table looked at him.

“Osvold has just told me he read in a tome in the shop about stone bugs,” he said. “You can make a double bug, and use the second to track the first on a map, by dowsing.”

“Brilliant!” said Sir John, “Phlebotomous, Osvold, let’s go to the shop right now and find that book.”

“I shall look for some suitable stones,” said Marie.

“I’ll help,” said Morag, “I could use a walk.”

Miss Henderson looked at Emile and Sabine.

“Me too,” she said and got up.

Everyone left; Emile and Sabine sat alone. There was a pause of the awkward variety.

“Well,” said Emile, picking up a newspaper on the table, “I’d better get back to the apartment.”

He glanced idly at the pages.

“You won’t… stay?” said Sabine.

“I… er…” he said. “Maybe… another time.”

Sabine smiled thinly.

“As you will,” she said.

Emile wandered out of the door still clutching and looking at the paper.

Mon Dieu!” he said as he was leaving. “Bûcheron is dead too!”

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