The faerie domain underneath York where Lady Freydis, Prince of the non normals, ruled, was not the most stable of places. Like all homes of the elfen, it reflected the mind and the mood of the ruler. This was a problem as people kept giving Lady Freydis lifestyle magazines. There could be minimalist and boho in the same issue. Lady Freydis would read articles on ‘twenty ways to use yellow in your decorating’ and the next day her hall would be like the inside of a buttercup.
Today was relatively calm with a ‘Handmade, Homemade House’ feel. Dave and Steve crossed the strewn rag rugs, passed the beautifully upholstered, throw covered sofas and joined Lady Freydis in her private study (‘use books as accents to give a calming feel’) where at least the chairs were comfortable. Dave nodded at Martin, Jack and Kadogan standing next to Lady Freydis. This looked serious. They sat down warily.
“Thank you for joining us,” Lady Freydis said. “You are under my protection while in my domain and can walk where you will without fear.” Dave and Steve exchanged worried glances as she turned to Martin. “I blame myself. But there was so much confusion. You weren’t here, you don’t know what it was like.”
“I saw some of the aftermath,” Martin said grimly. He looked over to Dave and Steve. “Apparently a vampire called Rey made a play for the throne of York while I was sleeping.”
Steve nodded. “He tried to get to us through Fiona. I dealt with it.”
Dave still had nightmares about Steve’s destruction of Rey. “But that was years ago.”
Lady Freydis waved a hand. “There was a lot going on at the time, if you remember, and then there was all that dreadful darkness infecting everywhere, and the disembodied hands. So no-one really checked the station. Besides, the elfen can’t get there easily. There’s too much iron.”
“What has happened?” Steve asked. “I thought Rey’s little domain under there collapsed when I killed him.”
Lady Freydis shifted a little in her pink, overstuffed armchair. “The part of his little patch that was underneath the station mostly collapsed, but there were still loose ends that overlapped into the faerie domain under York. We didn’t really get near there because all the iron nearby made it hard for us to notice.”
Martin’s expression was dark. “We thought that we had unravelled all of the dark essence left behind, but someone or something seems to have found that small pocket and it’s let loose again. It’s spreading through the domain.”
“Fortunately I’m in charge now,” Lady Freydis said, “But I need help with this.” She looked at Steve. “I would owe favour and gratitude to someone who could brave the iron and close the connections to my land. I do not feel comfortable having an entrance that I can’t guard.”
“What is more to the point, someone has got in there,” Martin said. “We could have anything or anyone wandering around.”
“I’m mobilising my defences, but it’s a tricky part of the realm,” Lady Freydis said. “I’m doing my best with aid from the werewolves, but even Mark is struggling with the conditions.”
“Um,” said Jack.
“I can see if I can get in from the station end,” Steve said. “Perhaps I can bring in a couple of werewolves with me from there. It sounds like we need to move in numbers.”
“Um,” Jack repeated, shifting uncomfortably where he stood.
Lady Freydis nodded. “I can only think of it being a fierce and powerful enemy, finding a weak spot and entering my domain from a hidden entrance – one that is full of dark, distorted power. It is not a safe place. Only the bravest can travel there.” She turned to Dave. “There is a chance that it is an unknowing normal, and you may be needed to explain things. That’s why I invited you.”
“Um.” Jack was looking more uncomfortable by the second.
“I’ll take Ian and Callum in with me,” Steve said. “Callum has some experiences of Rey’s paths anyway. We’ll start from the station…” He stopped and looked hard at Jack. “Anything that you want to share?”
Suddenly Jack grinned, bubbling over with mischief. “Do you remember that amateur vampire hunter? The one who saw Martin feed? Damned indiscreet, by the way.”
Martin stared at him as he saw the implications. “You are kidding.”
“You see, he found out about vampires when he got hold of a second-hand camera that used to be Rey’s. Apparently Rey liked to take pictures of his food.” Jack shrugged. “Everyone seems to take pictures for their social media, but Rey’s images were a little specialised.”
“So there is now proof vampires exist all over the internet,” Martin stared in horror.
“I don’t think that they’re out for general release,” Jack said, “Just safe, in several places. But it made Alex rather keen to fight vampires.”
“Trust me,” Dave said, “Rey would make anyone want to fight vampires.”
“He’s terribly clever,” Jack said. “The vampire hunter, I mean. He’s not a great warrior, or even a fighter, but he worked out where Rey lived and broke into the apartment.”
Martin turned to Lady Freydis. “You didn’t think to check where Rey lived?”
Lady Freydis shrugged. “There was a lot happening, and I wasn’t in charge.”
“Your little friend broke into someone’s flat?” Dave asked.
“Well, sort of,” Jack shrugged. “He used lockpicks. I was quite intrigued. He wasn’t fast, but he was remarkably skilful. We found quite a few bits of useful information. And some truly dreadful clothes. The man had no style.” He looked around. “There was a lot of mail as well. Apparently there was enough money in an account to cover the direct debit and so the rent was still paid. The landlord left him alone. But there was so much dust. It took a while to dig out the information.”
“Would the information include how to get into an elfen domain through the passages underneath York station?” Martin asked with dangerous calm. Jack shrugged again.
“And what are his chances of survival?” Dave asked.
Jack lost his smile. “His chances are quite slim. And that makes me sad, because although he is quite weak and very scared, he just wants to do the right thing. That is something that should be praised and protected.”
“You can come in with us, then,” Martin said. “From the sound of it, we will need all the help we can get.”
“I have an address for his other vampire hunter,” Jack said, “Though I haven’t met him yet. I’ll fetch him.” He hesitated. “The vampire hunter, he’s Alex Poole, the young man you hired for the White Hart. He wanted to find information on vampires.”
Steve looked appalled. “He’s only a young lad. I was worried that he’d not be strong enough for the warehouse!”
“I remember him,” Lady Freydis said. “We may be able to reach him. I remember that there is a strength inside.” She took charge. “Martin, use the information from Jack and his vampire hunter to get into the domain from the station side. Steve can go with you as well as Ian and Callum. I’ll lead a rescue party from my side, but I don’t know how far in we can get. And it’s been at least twelve hours. We can’t waste any time.”
“I’ll pick up Darren as well,” Martin said. “He knows the vampire hunter and hopefully the young lad will trust him – if we can find him in time. Dave, you had better go with Lady Freydis in case she meets him first. Jack, I’ll meet you at the War Memorial at the corner of Station Rise in thirty minutes.” He caught the eye of his wife and nodded.
“And I’ll leave now,” Lady Freydis said, the glamour around her shifting from an elegant cocktail dress to utilitarian leather jacket and jeans. She glared at Jack. “And then you and I will be having a long conversation.”
You can read the story of Alex from the start here