Qualified Success

You can find the story from the beginning here –Back at the White Hart

Noah got out of the car and looked up and down the quiet street. “What’s the big deal?” he asked. “I’m just here to pick up a book.”

Ian didn’t meet his eyes. “I’m not going to interfere with the way Lady Freydis does things,” he said. “And I’m not going to talk about what I think she should have done, because I’d be here all day. I’m just here to keep an eye on things.” He glared at the pristine front door in the well kept street. “You may see some weird stuff,” he said. “Keep an open mind.”

“How weird?” Noah asked. “I work with Mrs Tuesday.

Ian snorted with laughter. “Fair point,” he said. “But it could get weird and it’s not necessarily safe.” He shook his head. “I don’t know what Lady Freydis is up to, and I really dread to think what she might be plotting. Just trust me and I’ll get us out of there if things go south.”

Noah rapped on the door. “I’m just picking up a book,” he said. “What could possibly go wrong with that?”

Ian looked at him. “You’ve met Mrs Tuesday,” he said. “How do you think she’d be if she wanted to be awkward? I mean, more awkward than usual.”

Noah shivered and knocked again. “That’s worrying.”

A tall, pale figure answered the door. “You must be from Lady Freydis,” she said. “Come in.”

Noah followed with Ian close behind. “Thank you for seeing us, Miss Marianne,” he said. “Lady Freydis confirmed that you had the payment.”

“I have indeed received payment,” Miss Marianne said. “It arrived this morning.” She led them into a living room that was overflowing. “It is always gratifying to find someone willing to pay in yarn.”

Noah looked around. Every surface was covered with miscellaneous balls of knitting yarn. “It looks very colourful,” he said.

“It is a fair trade for a book,” she said. “And it’s the least I can do for poor, poor Lady Freydis, left a widow.” Miss Marianne picked up a book. “She must be so lonely.”

“She was widowed?” Noah asked, looking at Ian. “I didn’t realise. Still, at least she’s happy now with Martin.”

Miss Marianne stiffened. “Martin?” she asked, dangerously quiet. “The Roman Martin?” She carefully placed the book on the table.

“Yes, they were married a few summers ago,” Ian said. “I thought that you knew.”

“How dare she!” Miss Marianne snapped. “How DARE she!” She paced up and down amongst the yarn. “Martin is mine! He has always been mine! That trollop has always been a nasty, dirty…”

“Don’t talk about my prince like that,” Ian warned.

“I’ve been waiting for Martin to reawaken for centuries,” Miss Marianne snapped. “That slut never appreciated Ragnar and whored around with any leech that would have her.”

“I said don’t talk about Lady Freydis like that,” Ian growled.

Noah, his eyes wide, quietly picked up the book and slipped it inside his jacket. “I’m sure that you’ll find someone special just for you,” he said, the platitude slipping out before he could stop it.

Miss Marianne threw back her head and howled. Yarn lifted into the air and started spinning through the room. “Martin should be mine. He is mine. You wait! She’ll regret the day she stole my man.”

Ian snarled at her. “Does Martin know that he’s supposed to be yours?” he snapped. “Because it was Martin chasing Lady Freya. She could have had her pick of non-normals – from inside York and anywhere. Martin won. He wanted her and no-one else.”

“Not helping, man,” Noah muttered, trying to duck the flying yarn. A magazine from the table was joining them with a sheaf of papers. He edged towards the door.

“Martin must have been enspelled,” Miss Marianne yelled. “I’ll rescue him.”

“You can’t rescue him from his own desires,” Ian yelled. “And who would want you when they could have Lady Freydis? You’re a pale shadow!”

“Really not helping, man,” Noah tugged on Ian’s arm as he retreated further. He managed to force a smile at Miss Marianne. “It was lovely meeting you, ma’am.”

“Get out!” Miss Marianne screeched. “And tell that cheating whore that I’ll be rescuing Martin from her dusty fingers before she can blink her crusty eye.”

“What did you say?” Ian growled.

“I look forward to meeting you again, Miss Marianne,” Noah said, opening the door behind him and ducking a hail of yarn as he tugged Ian out with him. “Bye!”

Back in the car, Noah sat and tried to work out what had happened. He turned to Ian. “Is there something that you’re not telling me?”

Ian winced. “Lady Freydis is never in a hurry to explain things, but she’s an elfen, I suppose you could call her a fairy. She’s powerful, ancient and complicated. She’s in charge of all the non-normals in York.”

“Non-normals?” Noah asked.

“You know, vampires, werewolves, boggarts, brownies, goblins – that sort of thing,” Ian said uncomfortably. “I’ll get Mrs Tuesday to explain it to you.” He rested his hands on the steering wheel and grimaced. “But we didn’t get the book.”

Noah pulled Modern Machines and Power Generators by Rankin Kennedy, 1904 edtition, from his jacket and checked the page for Vortex engines. The now familiar script curled around the margins of the page. “We got the book,” he said. “But perhaps we need to warn Lady Freydis.”

“I think it’s Martin we need to warn,” Ian said, getting out his phone. He looked back at the green door that was slowly turning black. He hit dial and passed the phone to Noah. “You talk, I’ll get us the hell out of here.”

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