“Tell me, what do you mean that he’s back?”
This was certainly terrible news. For there were few names to make his insides revolt like the name of Antoine LeGace.
“It is merely this report I received today, m’liege.” Cayman took out the small scrap of paper, and handed it to Craycroft.
It was a small piece of cream-colored paper. On it were the words, written in that script, so familiar to Craycroft.
A.LeGace has been spotted
near Killiburn. He was accompanied
by Master Guarneri, and another.
Make certain that Kerlin has been notified.
For a moment, Craycroft stared and said nothing. The last four years of relative peace had seemed like a dream come true. And now, out of the horrors of his memory, came this news that somehow, he knew, signaled the beginning of disaster for them all.
“Well, Master Cayman, if you could summon Kerlin and Proust. And also call in Eustace and Tom, have them meet me within the hour, and I shall meet with all of you to discuss this matter.”
“Aye, m’liege.” With that he was gone.
Craycroft was left alone to ponder the meaning of this newest message. He got up, went over to the window, and looked out toward Croftus Knob, now with the beauty of springtime making its mark on the island. The fields were plowed, the snow was gone, except in the highlands, where it crowned the peaks with the brilliance of the morning sun. Then he made a decision, which was sure to affect them all.
He summoned one of the pages, and was glad that it was Aaron.
“Now, Aaron, I’ve a task for you, and this one is really urgent. Go, find Jeanne, tell her that I need her here now. And if she is with Judy, have her come too. I shan’t bother Master Robert right now. Do you understand the importance?”
“Of course, m’lord.”
“Well, then, be off with you.”
This was the first communication from Drachma in many months. That itself spoke of the disturbing nature of this message. As was usual with Drachma, though, there was so much more that was not said, but rather implied, within that small note – the fact that it was sent by carrier pigeon, and who was this other person? And the fact that he insisted Kerlin be notified – it all spoke volumes.
He sat down, poured himself some brandy, and he thought. He pondered what had happened these past four years, the events and the people behind the events. What of Master LeGace? Drachma had warned him that this man would yet bring trouble to Shepperton, and that it was he that could bring about the destruction of all that they now held dear. When Craycroft asked how he knew, Drachma had given him the most cryptic of answers:
“He is one whose appearance is human, but whose actions speak otherwise, as if possessed by a demon.”
So, as they all went about the building up of Shepperton, in the back of his mind, and also, he surmised, in the back of Drachma’s, there was the threat of this man and his machinations. The real problem was that no one knew either his motivation or his whereabouts. There had been the occasional stories from travelers, of this vile scoundrel, whose entire persona was wrapped up in the most vicious of rumors, yet who managed to escape the clutches of the law. And the stories were all consistent, and told of a usually solitary figure, who had a cane, but did not need it for walking, who took whatever he wanted, and if the persons who had whatever it was that he desired were reluctant, they would then feel the point of his sword, hidden within his walking stick. And of the few who survived his assaults, they all gave the same description, of the devil himself.
It was Kerlin who came first. And as he was let in, Craycroft pulled out a chair, poured him some brandy, and had him sit down.
“Well, my friend, I am sorry to have troubled you, but I just received this note, sent from Drachma via carrier pigeon, and I shall let you read it, then tell me what think you of it.”
“Very well, M’lord.”
Craycroft handed him the small note. Kerlin studied it, then closed his eyes, lost in thought, and then spoke.
“M’lord, this could truly be disastrous. I know that Master LeGace is now with Guarneri, formerly in the employ of Lord Vincente, but lost from our knowledge for years. Now of this I had heard on several occasions, from my contacts in Ireland. As to the other one referred to in this note, it is purely conjecture on my part, but I fear that his identity is likely to be one of the king’s men.”
“Then it is likely as I feared as well. Nay, this is not good. This is evil incarnate.”