The Sultan lifted his goblet and sipped his wine. “Tell me, Teague, has there been any further word on Mr Keller?”
The Sultan’s security chief, Margh Teague, was a scarred man with thick dreadlocks of hair and a missing eye. He was also an undercover agent for Seelie, an old war captain who made sure the lords of Bolventor did not overstep their boundaries. “We’ve heard nothing from Keller since yesterday afternoon,” he said. “If he has not lost himself in the tunnels, he is surely at the Oracle’s side by now.”
“A worrying development,” said the Sultan. “Rorric Yenta’s death was concerning enough.” He turned to Giovanni Veres, his contact with the Fortunate Isles. “Veres, order Seelie to lock down the island. We cannot allow Aliza Adel to contact the Oracle or else we lose our one chance to overthrow her.”
Natalia’s familiar chuckled. “Perhaps you were right about overestimating them,” she said.
He was; Azhara’d did not make unfounded presumptions.
“Perhaps, if I might be so bold as to offer a suggestion?”
“What is it, Mireille?” The Sultan turned his attention to the man furthest from Azhara’d. He was wearing the same velvet suit as Veres, though he was much paler of face. Azhara’d had spied him around the palace, but this was the first time he had attended a meeting of the Sultan’s advisors.
“It’s just that all this waiting around for the perfect opportunity to approach Ms Adel is getting us nowhere,” said Mireille. “We should take direct action, and soon. Today, even. I suggest targeting her friends. Threaten them, and she will do as you ask.”
“I want Aliza Adel at my side, Mireille, not with a knife to my throat,” replied the Sultan. “However, should Ms Adel attempt to contact the Oracle, I shall consider your suggestion.”
He reached down as a black shape slinked out of the shadows beneath his throne. The size of a small panther, it had fur that glistened a midnight black. As the Sultan scratched it behind its pointed ears, Azhara’d glimpsed its twin, nesting in the darkness. Bestes Enys Brenn, they called them, the beasts of Bodmin. The fear in the faces of the Sultan’s advisors was clear for all to see. They knew that any who failed to meet the Sultan’s high expectations could expect a visit from his merciless pets.
“Are you sure that’s wise, My Lord?” asked Teague. “These are Seelie cadets, not debt-evading rats.”
“My associates can be very persuasive,” the Sultan replied. “And what can Seelie do to stop us? If they were as great and noble as the stories say, then why do they allow our operations to go uncontested? No, Seelie are no better than paid mercenaries, and we are the ones footing their bill.”
“Paid mercenaries, perhaps,” said Teague, “but they can spy uninvited guests even the aethex can miss.”
“Is this another story about wayward faeries, Teague? Perhaps the elusive Ketos has come to claim his prize?”
Teague lifted his chin, clenched his jaw. There was a fear in his eyes that chilled even Azhara’d to the bone.
“If it is Ketos,” he said, “you might want to think twice about involving yourself with Aliza Adel. Our newest infiltrator is a gestalt.”
A still silence fell over the chamber. They all knew the word. Everyone who lived as they did, in the carcass of atrocities past, lived in fear of the day they would cross paths with the Shapeless Ones, the False Djinn, the ‘G-Men’.
“Well,” said Natalia, “this certainly makes things more interesting.”
Episode Four End
Here’s the original Best Goon Brenn. Goon is Cornish for ‘moor’, while enys means ‘island’.
Next week we’ll have the usual background material stuff and site updates, as well as the episode five schedule. It’s time for some action!