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[personal profile] sandtree
As promised, I'm posting Chapter Fourteen tonight. The only thing worse than the writing in this chapter is the writing in Chapter Fifteen.

Chapters One and Two
Chapters Three and Four
Chapters Five and Six
Chapters Seven and Eight
Chapters Nine and Ten
Chapters Eleven and Twelve
Chapter Thirteen


Chapter Fourteen – Whether he was Clinically Insane or Simply Drunk With Power is Historically Irrelevant



With the extra weight lifted, the balloon floated higher into the air easily, and the now vacant city of Bogbury was left behind. The balloon soared over fields and hills, villages and towns, forests and glaciers.

“Where are we going?” Adam asked at last.

“We are going to find Finnegan O’Fear,” Mr. Sevenson said with conviction. “This has decided it – it is time to stop him, once and for all. If we do not put an end to his evil ways soon, who knows how many more devious acts he will commit? We all saw what he was capable of back in Bogbury.”

“But how are we going to find him? He could be anywhere, anywhere at all!” said Bamber.

“I will need a flat surface,” Mr. Sevenson replied.

“Joss, you can’t do that,” Frederick turned to him, horror struck. “Your sister is dead, there’s no one to heal you!”

“I won’t make a deep cut,” Mr. Sevenson reassured him. “Just enough to get a good amount of blood.”

“What in the name of God is this all about?” said Bamber. He was looking ill again. Martha wondered if he were one of those people who could not stand the sight of blood. She thought if that were the case, they might have an excuse to let him off the balloon.

“I am going to use my blood to find out the location of my father,” Mr. Sevenson explained, drumming his fingers casually on the edge of the balloon’s basket.

“Oh no, you are not. Not on my watch,” said Frederick.

“Frederick, honestly, I told you I would be safe – “

“And how do you propose to stop yourself from bleeding to death?!” Frederick interrupted.

“I have never met anyone as dramatic as you,” Mr. Sevenson said with a long suffering sigh, and frowned. Then, turning to Martha, “Can you sew?”

She stared at him incredulously. “For what purpose?”

“For the purpose of stitching up my arm after I cut it.”

“You’re mad.”

“Maybe, but I’m also in a hurry,” he said. He seemed to be serious.

Martha pressed her lips together. “I can sew dresses, fabric, cloth,” she said, “not humans.”

“Oh, come on,” Mr. Sevenson pleaded, “it isn’t that different, and it would make Frederick feel better.”

“It would, would it?” said Frederick, with a surprised laugh. “Yes, I am sure I would feel much better about my best friend carving into his flesh, if only I knew that my little sister was there to stick a needle and thread into him!”

“Ugh,” said Mr. Sevenson, rolling his eyes, and glancing at Mr. Blackstone, as if to gain his support. Mr. Blackstone simply shrugged, so Mr. Sevenson said, “Have it your way, then. I’ll find some other way to arrest the flow of blood.”

“Joss – “

But Mr. Sevenson ignored him, and stalked over to the other side of the basket, where he sat with his back to the rest of them.

“This is ridiculous,” said Frederick.

Mr. Sevenson was silent.

“Calpurnia, won’t you take that stupid thing off your face?” Bamber was saying, reaching over to untie the cloth that was covering his sister’s eyes.

“Bamber – I mean – your majesty, no!” Mr. Blackstone exclaimed. “If she regains the power of sight, we will all be struck down!”

“Well, aside from myself, Bamber, and Adam,” Martha added, “and I don’t think I want a repeat of that situation, although apparently some people enjoyed it.” She glared at Adam, who pointedly turned away.

“So, where are we going?” Napoleon Bonaparte asked. Martha could tell that he was growing impatient. He supported them in their quest to destroy Finnegan O’Fear, but clearly he was anxious to have his eyebrows back, and Martha couldn’t blame him; he looked absolutely ridiculous.

“To the secret location?” Bamber offered.

“Er, I think not,” said Mr. Blackstone. “That didn’t work out so well for you the last time, did it?”

“Oh, true,” Bamber mused.


MEANWHILE, IN EGYPT...


Back in the 13th century, King Rupert III ruled Valmell, but he did not rule it very well. He was fond of gambling, and was known for making wild bets. He had at times wagered all of his horses, his wife, his skin, and upwards of thirty dollars (four thousand seven hundred and eighty six British pounds). He had lost each time. Finally, he made the bet that would eventually be the undoing of his entire dynasty: he wagered the Crown of Righteousness.

It was a stupid thing to do. The fellow he was playing against was vastly better at cards than King Rupert. The man knew he could not wear the crown, and he had no political aspirations, but he knew that it would likely sell for a pretty good price on the black market for enchanted crowns.

King Rupert had, predictably, lost this bet. The man rode off into the sunset, chuckling to himself with the Crown of Righteousness tucked under his arm, while King Rupert was left to go home to his wife and explain what had become of the Crown that ensured their unchallenged rule.

In a few short months, the man had sold the crown to a knight who was going off on a crusade. But when the knight was half way to Constantinople, he changed his mind, and instead rode off to Korea.

After a couple of years touring the country, the knight married a nice Korean woman, settled down, produced twelve children, and forgot all about the Crown of Righteousness. It was only after he had died, and his belongings were being picked over by his grandchildren, that it was discovered again.

The knight’s grandson took the crown and set off toward the west, meaning to return it to its rightful owners in Valmell, but he was attacked along the way by highway robbers. The thieves killed him, and stole the Crown, and made off with it with much jubilation toward France.

It was stolen again during the Hundred Years War, this time by an Englishman named Henry V. He was a rather ugly fellow, but then again, he was a king of England, so that is no surprise. The Victorians drew him as a rather strapping young lad, but the Victorians drew everyone like that, including Jane Austen. Anyway, Henry V must have done something right, because he managed to rule both England and France, and also, he stole the Crown of Righteousness, which is the point of this paragraph.

When Henry V was vacationing in Cornwall, he took the Crown of Righteousness with him, and accidentally dropped it down a mine shaft. He did not have the time to climb down and retrieve it, and so it was left there for a hundred years, until a kindly miner found it.

Unfortunately, the kindly miner did not know the history of the crown. He put it on his head as a joke, and was burnt to a crisp.

The Crown was then taken by the miner’s neighbour, who proceeded to immigrate to the American colonies. There it resided in the cellar for over two hundred years, until the family was forced to flee, because a revolution broke out.

They relocated to Upper Canada, where the Crown served as a mascot for the United Empire Loyalists. In 1800, someone got drunk, and threw the crown over the Niagra Falls. The crown floated all the way to the Detroit River, where it was fished out by a man who was obsessed with finding the lost continent of Atlantis. The next day, the man departed for Egypt, and the Crown went with him.

This is what Sir Rupert told his trusted valet, as they hurried through the streets of Alexandria.

Mr. Stratford seemed impressed. “But Sir Rupert,” he said, “however did you manage to procure this information?”

“Ahh,” said Sir Rupert, tapping his head and winking. “I have my ways.”

“And what ways are those, sir?” the valet pressed.

“Don’t question me!” said Sir Rupert. “Oh look, we are here. Now, when we are in there, don’t speak too loudly – keep your hands where he can see them – no sudden movements – he is the only Canadian in Egypt, and he is very paranoid.”

“Right,” said Mr. Stratford, thinking that he perhaps ought to have stayed in Valmell, Finnegan O’Fear or no Finnegan O’Fear.

They were shown into the house by a servant, who handed them coats. It was freezing cold inside. The two men stood shivering in the hallway, waiting for the Canadian to receive them.

“Why is it so frigid in here?” Mr. Stratford wondered, rubbing his hands together.

“He prefers his native climate,” Sir Rupert replied. “No snide remarks, now, Mr. Stratford.

“No, sir.”

The servant returned to tell them that the Canadian, who was also more commonly known as Angus Levesque, would receive them on the skating rink. The two men glanced at one another, and followed the servant further into the house.

The servant opened another door, and ushered them through to what was, indeed, a small skating rink. A man in a parka was sitting in the centre of it, and appeared to be ice fishing.

“Take off your shoes,” Sir Rupert said, nudging his valet.

“What?” said Mr. Stratford. “But it’s freezing cold!”

“Do not question their strange customs,” Sir Rupert said under his breath.

The men kicked off their shoes, and made their way gingerly out onto the ice rink. They managed to get to the middle without falling too many times, and sat down across from Angus Levesque.

“Thank you for receiving us, Mr. Levesque,” said Sir Rupert politely.

“How’s it going, eh?” said Mr. Levesque.

“Er,” said Mr. Stratford.

“May I offer you some refreshment?” replied Mr. Levesque. He held out two glasses of maple syrup.

“Thank you, yes,” said Sir Rupert.

Everyone sipped on their maple syrup in silence for a while. Finally, Sir Rupert seemed to think it safe to begin his inquiries, and set his glass aside.

Mr. Levesque seemed to notice his mood, and said, “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, eh?”

“We are searching for the Crown of Righteousness,” Sir Rupert stated outright. “We have come to claim it, to take it back to Valmell, to return it to its rightful owners, the Brights, so that they may rule the kingdom unopposed once more.”

“You have come to the wrong place, gentlemen!” Mr. Levesque exclaimed. “Thought you could deke me out, eh?”

“No,” said Sir Rupert, “in fact, we asked you quite bluntly – “

“WELL IT DIDN’T WORK,” Mr. Levesque yelled, rose to his feet, and skated away in a rage.

Sir Rupert and Mr. Stratford stared after him in shock. Sir Rupert had expected Levesque to be less than thrilled with the idea of giving up one of his most prized possessions, but he had not expected such an explosion from a man who was usually unfailingly polite.

“Something is not right about this,” he murmured, when Mr. Levesque had disappeared.

“You don’t say,” said Mr. Stratford. “What do you suppose we should do now?”

“I’m not entirely sure,” Sir Rupert admitted. “I have never known him to behave like this. Perhaps we should leave, and call back in the morning.”

“Good idea.” Mr. Stratford could not stand sitting on the ice rink any longer. The whole bottom half of his body was half frozen.

It was with some difficulty that the two gentlemen rose to their feet and began to make their way across the slippery ice rink toward the door that they had come through some minutes before. They did not get very far, however, before they heard their names called, and turned to see Angus Levesque skating straight for them, brandishing a hockey stick.

“Good God!” shouted Mr. Stratford.

Sir Rupert acted quickly, whipping out his pistol and aiming to shoot Mr. Levesque directly in the head. He pulled the trigger; the shot was fired; but it did not meet its target. Mr. Levesque blocked it with the hockey stick, and continued to advance toward them.

“Run!” shouted Sir Rupert.

The two men tried to make a break for the open door. They slipped and slid on the ice, and fell several times. Mr. Levesque came close enough at one point to give Mr. Stratford a hard whack in the back of the head.

Fortunately, they still managed to make it to the door before Mr. Levesque could. They slammed it shut in his face, and bolted it immediately. They leaned back against it, trying to catch their breath, and listening to the crazed Canadian pounding against it on the other side.

“What now?” Mr. Stratford asked, looking at Sir Rupert, hopeful that he had some sort of brilliant idea.

“Er,” said Sir Rupert. “We should find a place to hide.”

They began to make their way through the corridors of the house, and finally ducked into a likely looking storage room. They hunkered down behind a large box, and listened intently for a minute or two; there were no noises of running feet or smashing hockey sticks. They appeared to be safe.

“It is so odd,” said Sir Rupert in a whispered tone, “he is completely unlike himself. I wonder what has got into him.”

“Maybe he is very attached to the Crown,” Mr. Stratford offered.

“Hmm,” said Sir Rupert. “Say, do you see that body hanging there?”

“Right across from us?”

"That's the one."

“Why yes, I do. How strange.”

“Wait,” said Sir Rupert. He jumped to his feet, and approached the corpse. “I don’t believe it! It can’t be!”

“What is it?” his valet inquired obediently.

“IT’S ANGUS LEVESQUE!”

Mr. Stratford was nearly struck dumb with shock, but not quite. “But if that body hanging there is Angus Levesque, who were we just talking to?”

Just then, the door burst open, and the imposter Angus Levesque entered. “Sorry about that, gentlemen, but sometimes I just can’t – oh.” He had noticed the real Angus Levesque hanging in the middle of the room. He let out a nervous laugh.

“Care to explain this?” said Sir Rupert, gesturing at the body, and raising his eyebrows.

“Certainly,” said the imposter, and then ripped off his mask to reveal himself to be...

“FINNEGAN O’FEAR!” Mr. Stratford shouted in terror.

Sir Rupert stagged backwards, and fumbled with his pistol, but Finnegan O’Fear began to laugh.

“I jest!” said O’Fear, and he pulled off his mask to reveal himself to be...

“FINNEGAN O’FEAR!” shouted Sir Rupert.

“Yes,” said the evil Irish magician, “it is I, Finnegan O’Fear. I am terribly sorry, I simply couldn’t help it. And now I am pleased to say that I must kill you gentlemen.”

Sir Rupert closed his eyes, and waited for the inevitable attack.
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Alison

July 2015

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