Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 40

Setting up for the next battle

OK, loyal readers, I’m running out of chapters, since I haven’t worked on this novel in several months. Now is your opportunity to voice your opinions of what you think might (or should) happen next. I have sort of a vague idea of events, but not much specific.

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 40

The Paris wizards’ stronghold was underground, in a branch off the famous sewers. “Doesn’t anybody care about my sensitive nose?” Pierre asked.

“I do,” I said.

“Well, that’s just because you get the same sense of scents as I do.”

“Not just that … I care about my soul mate.”

“Oh, I know that.” He leaned over and nibbled on my ear.

Much to Pierre’s and my relief, once the wizards’ den was secured, it was sealed off from both the smell and the damp of the sewers. It was a cave very similar to the one the wizards at home had at the back of a bayside tavern. There was something else from home there too. “Runyon! Sylvia!” I exclaimed, hurrying up to two of the wizards who had been important in discovering my talents and getting me into the training program. “What brings you two here?”

“You, of course,” Runyon said. “You two have uncovered something that’s going to take more than just one regional bunch of wizards to deal with.”

“How big is it?” Pierre asked.

“At least as big as France,” Runyon said. “It doesn’t seem to go beyond that at the moment, but the Inner Council thinks maybe France is a test. If the plan goes well here, the Others will spread it to the rest of Europe, and maybe the world.”

“So what is their plan, exactly?” Pierre asked.

“They’re planning to trigger riots in every major city,” Runyon replied. “First, they’re getting the lower classes riled up, especially immigrants. They’re taking incidents and spreading the word that all of these things are because the government is discriminating against them – even little things like random petty crime are being blamed on the oppressive government and the ruling society. Where there aren’t enough randomly occurring incidents, the Others are creating them, and, again, blaming the establishment. Eventually, there’s going to be a major incident, and the Others – or rather, the Others’ minions – will be starting riots in all the larger cities. Throughout France, there are cells like the one that you have found, and each member has been assigned a neighborhood to organize.”

“Do we have any idea how soon this will be?”

“We don’t really know. They may be delaying their attempt now, since they need to regroup and also replace Stephane. On the other hand, maybe they’ll be stepping up their plans so as not to give us a chance to take any action, if they know we’re onto them.”

“Speaking of Stephane, what are we doing with him and Mildred?” I asked.

“Mildred’s in France illegally, and she’s also wanted in the States,” Runyon said. “Now it’s not just custodial interference and kidnapping, but also arson in the case of the apartment building that Sarah used to live in. The FBI’s involved now, too – even if really their current theory is that she’s a jealous ex-wife who wanted to get even for her ex taking up with another woman, they’re defining the arson as possibly a terrorist attack, in order to have more power.”

“So we put her into the hands of the authorities, and hope she doesn’t spill the beans about our wizard society?”

“Even if she does talk, who’s going to believe her? If she insists she’s been dealing with wizards, she’s more likely to get sent for psychological tests. Besides, if she tells about us, she also unveils the Others and their plans. If she’s loyal to them, she’s not going to say anything about either group of wizards.”

“You have a point there,” I agreed. “But what about Stephane?”

“You did quite a number on him the other night,” Runyon said. “We have him safe in an infirmary of ours suffering from a crushed larynx. We’re hoping that when he comes to, assuming the brain damage isn’t too serious, he’ll be able to give us information about his superiors – he may have been calling the shots here in Paris, but we’re sure there are people higher up, coordinating among all of the cities.”

“What makes you think he’ll talk?”

“Well, literally, he won’t be talking any time soon – his vocal cords are pretty well destroyed. But we’re hoping he can give us information in exchange for protection from his higher-ups. Meanwhile, the Others don’t even know we have him, and we’re hoping to work that to our advantage.”

“How are we going to do that?”

“We’re going to make it look like he and Mildred were deserting the group. We’ve cleaned out both of their bank accounts, as well as an account that was funding the Paris group. We’ll be planting some evidence on Mildred for when she gets caught. The police won’t know exactly what it means, but the Others will be watching the police, and they will know – or think they know – that Stephane and Mildred were fleeing with the loot, and Mildred got caught, but Stephane’s still on the loose.”

“I’d like to have a part in the action,” Pierre said. “I’ve always imagined what I would do when I caught up with Mildred …”

“Careful, there,” Runyon said. “We don’t want to get so wrapped up in revenge that we go overboard.”

“Oh, I won’t go overboard. But I do want a piece of her. All those years I missed out on watching my daughter grow up … And then there’s what she did to Betsy’s face …”

“We get the picture,” Runyon said. “We can let you help with the plan, but you have to promise to keep yourself under control.”

“Meanwhile, what’s happened to Peter?” Pierre asked. “He saw things that night. He could figure out that Stephane and Mildred didn’t flee of their own accord.”

“We don’t know where he is,” Alois said. “But how much, really, did he see? At the time he went charging out that door, Stephane was clearly in control of things. He won’t have understood what he saw, either, if he doesn’t know about the magic.”

“For that matter,” I added, “given how pale and panicky he looked, he may have been scared enough not to want to have anything more to do with the group.”

“Might he be able to help us?” Betsy asked. “If we get him on our side, he could still go to group meetings and bring word back to us when the signal comes through.”

“That assumes we can find him,” Pierre said.

“I have some ideas,” Betsy said.

Pierre and Alois set up Mildred’s car for her release. In the trunk were the communist group’s ledgers, which had been lifted from Stephane’s flat. In Mildred’s purse, there was a withdrawal slip indicating that the account had been cashed out, as well as a small portion of that cash – the group would assume that Stephane had the rest of it, we hoped. The taillights were disconnected, to give a police officer a reason to stop the car. And an anonymous tip had been phoned in to the Paris police that a fugitive from the FBI, wanted on kidnapping and arson charges, had been seen in the neighborhood, with a description of the fugitive and the vehicle. After we released Mildred, we listened in on the police radio; it took only about forty minutes before Mildred was apprehended and set on the path toward extradition to the U.S.


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