High above the city, on the top floor of the HLC building, Alastair took in the view. Belbarbiton really was the most stunning city in the world. He looked on with the satisfaction of knowing that all before him had been created by him. Through his intellect and his gift for innovation he had transformed this place from a sleepy little backwater, to the thriving metropolis it was now.
The first time he came here had been for his education. Just like his brothers, and his mother, they had been given instruction in the ways of the Amethyst Song by the Crone herself. The Crone, in those days had lived up to the name, unlike the current occupant of the chair.
He smiled when he thought of his most recent interview with that woman. He knew that the interfering wench Beatrice would eventually seek aid from the Crone for the girl. When he arrived back after his brief sojourn into the country he made it his business to pay a visit to his alma mater.
When he arrived the woman gave the impression of being displeased to see him. Yet, he recalled days past when he, Melusina, Frederick, Clarissa, and of course that meddlesome bitch used to pal around during their school days. He reminded her of that time, and how back then he had been somewhat of a favourite of hers. He told her that on occasion, he regretted that he had mostly ignored her. Back then his interest mainly lay with the lovely Clarissa. However, he never stood a chance with her, not beside his brother who was better looking, not to mention the heir to the throne. So, he had admired her from afar.
There was one time though, he told Melusina, when he thought he may win her affection after all. It was during the great freeze of that year. The roads were all but impassable. His brother, had earlier been called away by their father on some matter of state, and was then unable to return. Melusina was buried in her books as always, oblivious to all. Which left he, Clarissa and Beatrice. The last one too, was occupied with something or other. He and Clarissa spent the days together talking, and laughing. It was one of the happiest times of his life. But then his brother returned and he was all but forgotten.
Spending time with Melusina in that office brought it all back. He paced the office, talking about those days while the woman had sat, nervously in her chair. She should be nervous too, he knew that she had been involved with the forces working against him. Working to remove him from power. Working to take his toys away. Most importantly working to keep the girl and the stone hidden from him.
He kept talking. He talked about his frustration of always being second to his brother. His brother who wasn’t as talented, or as clever as he was. Who simply by the luck of being born first was given everything, while he had to settle for the crumbs. Even now, his brother long dead, it seemed he had to make way for some invisible child.
As he approached her desk he noticed a photograph of a young man in a frame. The man looked to be about twenty something. He looked strangely familiar. He picked it up and brought it over to Melusina.
“Who’s this handsome young man? A bit young for you isn’t he?”
Melusina’s face had drained of colour, and her eyes were wide, she whispered, “That’s my son.”
“Your son? I didn’t know you had a…wait how old is he?”
Alistair tilted his head to one side thinking. A smile spreading across his face.
“The night of the Amethyst Ball…he’s mine?”
Still whispering, “Yes.”
“Well, how about that. Hmm.”
He turned to her staring directly into her eyes. “Tell me where the girl is, or I will find him and gut him like a fish.”
She swallowed, taking a moment to assess the threat. She knew him well enough to know what he was capable of.
“She’s in a small village, Murpodompous. Down on the coast.”
He looked at her intently, gripping her arm tightly, “Hmm… I think you might even be telling the truth. Apparently they haven’t come her yet.”
“Yes, yes.” He let go of her arm, and started pacing again. “I already found your little hideaway. I must say it was pretty good, such an inconsequential little place it almost doesn’t exist. Not good enough though, I still found it, and they’ve been dealt with. But it seems she got away. My guess is they’ll come here. She’s eighteen you know.”
For a brief moment relief passed over her, hearing that the girl got away. “Has it been that long?”
“You know it has. Now, here’s what you’re going to do. When this girl contacts you, you will call me and tell me exactly where she is. If you do that, I MAY just forget I have a son, and that you kept him from me. But,” he leaned back in so their faces were inches from each other, “If I find that she has been warned off, or that you have interfered in anyway to stop me getting what I want, well…”
He straightened up. “Well, it’s been wonderful catching up hasn’t it. So good reminiscing with old friends. We must do this again.” He moved to the door, as he was about to leave he turned and said, “How soon we repeat this is entirely up to you my dear.” Then he left.
Now he was waiting. He didn’t like waiting. Just to be sure that she did the right thing, he had placed one of his junior staffers at the Institute to keep an eye on her. He was a promising young lad, a bit timid perhaps, but there was something to be said for the timid. They were much more amenable to doing as they were told.
It had been a few days though. He was beginning to wonder if he had miscalculated. Some people often turned out to be more brave, and therefore foolish, than he anticipated. It was a huge problem, but it would mean extra work. It was always preferable when the people simply responded to the threat of violence, rather than him having to go to ll the trouble of carrying it out.
He was watching the tiny vehicles below when the phone rang. He answered.
“Here? Where here?”
“Bea is with me now. She’s got her stashed in a hotel, somewhere in the city.”
“You’d better go with her then. Let me know when you have the exact location. And remember, no funny business.”
The phone went silent.
Well, this was turning out beautifully. By the end of this evening he would have what he wanted. His eighteen year search would be over. He poured himself a drink, and sat in his leather armchair, admiring the lights across the city.
He started humming to himself, idly creating patterns in the air.
Then the power went out.