Chapter 12: Henry Number

XII. Henry number

1.

They talked some more. They ordered dinner, a spicy dish of rice and something like curried chicken. They had some wine, and some more wine, and this created the perfect conditions for a lengthy discussion of Elio Estrazy. Nothing of use came out of that discussion.

They all went to bed in different rooms: Lilah Bay, Annelise Azaine, Rob Ashtree, George Gervais, Zinnia Rose and Andre who wasn’t exactly a ghost: he was put in the room that only opened onto the rooms of Rob and Annelise.

In the morning, when the grey light of the city grew in her room enough to wake her up, Annelise checked on Andre’s room and found the bed empty, the sheets rumpled. Her heart in her throat, she hurried back out through her own room, down the hall and out into the front office. There at the table sat Lilah and Andre, sipping coffee as they cleaned up their bacon and eggs.

“Good,” said Lilah. “Turn your little butt around and go wake up Robbie. You guys need to wolf down some breakfast.”

“Why? Where are we off to now?”

“We are off to find out who was responsible for the death of our only definitely identified murder victim so far.”

“Young Andre,” said Annelise, exchanging looks with Andre.

“It would mean a lot to me,” he replied.

“And do we have any suspects other than Elio?” asked Annelise.

“Elio didn’t do it,” said Lilah. “He did plenty of things I don’t know about, I’m sure, but he didn’t do this one. But yes, we have a suspect.”

“And who is this suspect we have?”

“I’ll try and introduce you. Now go get Robert. I think he’ll need some coffee.”

Annelise went back into the living quarters. Andre and Lilah spent five minutes sipping and nibbling in silence. Presently Rob came out, dressed to go but a little rumpled. “Coffee sounds great,” he announced.

“You can certainly help yourself, champ,” said Lilah.

“Bacon. Mmm. Hey, they fry these eggs just the way I like them. My compliments to the chef, even if he’s a ghost or a golem or something.”

“Is Annie getting George and Zinnia up?”

Before Rob could answer, Annelise ran in. “Zinnia’s gone!” she cried. “She’s not in her bed! She’s not in her work room either!”

“Well, we didn’t see her,” said Lilah, getting up. She looked at Rob.

“She went to bed after me,” said Rob. “Should we—?”

“You stay right there and eat,” said Lilah. “You too, Annelise. I’ll take care of this.” She used her glare to make Annelise get her food and sit down at the table with it. Then she glared at Rob just because, and left into the inner hall.

First there were the doors on left and right into Lilah’s room, and the one where Marius sometimes slept—wasn’t he due back one of these days? Then there were Rob’s door on the left and George’s work room on the right. Then Annelise’s room was opposite George’s bedroom, and beyond that the hall ended in Zinnia Rose’s work room, behind which even more rooms lay. Lilah looked into George’s work room, and found nothing out of place. Then she stopped outside George’s bedroom. She knocked. She heard giggling.

“Okay, folks,” she called out, “we’re going to be taking off soon. There’s breakfast, and Andre will tell you all about what’s up, but we need to chat a bit before we head out.” She went back out to the front office.

“You found her?” asked Annelise.

“Oh yeah,” said Lilah. “Predictable, really.”

“Where?”

“Your only mistake is that you didn’t check to see who was in Georgie’s room.”

“They were together??” asked Rob.

“So we’ll wait for them to actually get up. Just in case we might need a gadget, you know, or a prayer or something.”

“Why? Do you foresee a need?” asked Annelise.

“I foresee the distinct possibility,” said Lilah, “that we’re going to want to go someplace that doesn’t actually exist in any universe anymore, and find someone that might be even rarer than our friend Andre here. So, yeah. I foresee a need.”

2.

Half an hour later, Zinnia came out, wearing a long and rumpled dress, and got two cups of coffee and a plate of bacon and eggs. “Going to favor us with your presence?” asked Lilah.

“Sure,” said Zinnia, “give us half an hour.”

“But we already gave you half an hour.”

“So it’s an hour! You’re a time traveler.” And with that and a smile, Zinnia disappeared into the inner hall again.

Nearly an hour later, Zinnia and George came out, George carrying the dishes. They got more coffee. “We were working on something in the workshop,” he said.

“Sure,” said Lilah. “Work on whatever you want. As long as you let me take that box of yours.”

“Well, of course,” said George, pulling the box out of his pocket. “What’s the plan?”

“Right now? Annie and Robert and I are going to pay a visit to someone who knows the prime suspect pretty well. From there, it depends.”

George and Zinnia exchanged looks, then George exchanged looks with Annelise, and then he looked back at Lilah and said, “Okay. Can you be any less specific?”

“No, no,” said Zinnia, “you love your drama. You’re a true officer of the law. You want me to anchor you or anything? You know we can keep track pretty well of where you are in the many universes. It might be helpful to have an anchor right back here.”

“Okay, okay,” said Lilah. “I can see how that might be helpful. Is this gonna delay us any further?”

“No, not at all,” Zinnia said, pulling an amulet out of her bag. She put her coffee mug down and took Lilah’s wrist. “Any of you three could wear this, but I assume you’d prefer to wear it yourself.”

“Can’t all three of us? Or don’t you have enough?”

“Oh, there’s nothing special about the amulet itself. It’s a mere trinket with hardly any magic charge at all. But there might be tangle problems if more than one of you have them and I try to tug you all back or something.”

“So what happens if you try to tug us all back and only I have the amulet?”

“You’ll have warning. Just grab their hands.”

“What? How much warning?”

“Oh, five, ten seconds. Five minimum.” Zinnia grinned reassuringly.

Lilah looked at George, who raised his eyebrows, then back at the other two. “Well,” she said, “that’s as good as I’m going to get, I guess. Shall we?”

“Where are we off to?” asked Rob. “No place we can’t reach just with our rings?”

Lilah looked at her ring. “We gotta talk to Marius about that, whenever he gets back. There’s something going on here and I’m starting to get feelings about it but it definitely points up some issues with our current equipment. Anyway.”

“When do you think he’ll get back?” asked Rob.

“Didn’t you say you knew who—?” asked Annelise.

“I know who,” said Lilah. “I think I do, anyway. It’s just all this other poop I don’t know.” She smiled at Zinnia Rose. “I’m gonna find out, though. You two can behave while we’re away? You know Mr. Marius might show up any time.”

“What are you suggesting?” Zinnia replied.

“Okay,” said Lilah, half-frowning across her junior detectives. “We’re off.”

“Still not going to tell us where we’re going?” asked Rob.

“Thought you might have guessed. But since you haven’t, apparently, maybe it’s best if I show you.” She looked at Annelise. “Have you guessed?”

“No, I’m on pins and needles. Wands out?”

“I don’t think you have to have them out. Just don’t forget where you stuck them. Now bear in mind that our destination is not where the suspect actually lives, only someone who can help us find our suspect.”

“A person helping police with their inquiries,” said Rob.

“You might say that. But not in that sense. Hands?”

“Of course, Lilah,” they both said. They gave her their hands, and she gave her ring a good push with her thumb, and then they were elsewhere.

Where they were was somewhere they had been before. It was a different season—it was what passed for winter on Olvar, with a snowy landscape under rainy skies. But the building at the top of the hill was definitely Whistler Hall.

3.

Encouraged by a mild breeze at their backs, the three detectives trudged up the gravel path that led to the gate of Whistler Hall. The gate was, as before, open, and as before, it looked like it had been that way a long time. The courtyard’s snow was all piled up along one wall, about six inches of it pushed into one row ten feet deep. No one was around besides two horses, looking bored, a dog, sprawled in a side doorway out of the drizzle, and two cats in two different windows.

Lilah let them come to a stop just inside the gate. Annelise, catching up, said, “Whistler? We’re here to talk to Lucy?”

“We’re here,” said Rob, “to talk to Henry. Right?”

“Yeah,” said Lilah. “You got it, champ.”

“Can I ask? Is this before or after we visited here last time?”

“What do you think?”

“I would think before,” said Rob.

“You would think right. It’s, oh, about five years before.”

“So what’s our thing this time? We’re not from Llanduvar still, are we?”

“No, no. I think we’re investigating a crime. A murder. We don’t have to say any more than that. If we think he’s a person of interest, there’s no telling who else thinks he’s a person of interest.”

“Wait,” said Annelise. “This Henry? He doesn’t know anything. Does he?”

“Gonna find out.”

“You don’t think he did anything? This Henry?”

“Nope,” said Lilah. “Not this one. Well, we’re not getting anywhere standing just inside the gate. Robert, it’s your turn to hang out here and watch the penton flux just in case. Annie, let’s you and I go knock at the door.”

The door was opened by a young woman who appeared to be staff. “Greetings,” said Lilah, in her best approximation of the local dialect. “My associates and I would like to speak to Lord Whistler, if we possibly could.”

“Well, it’s short notice, isn’t it,” said the young woman, backing up to allow them into the entry hall.

“Well,” said Lilah, “we’re with the constabulary.”

“The Olvar Constabulary?”

“Not exactly,” said Lilah. “Listen. We’re only here to ask a few questions. We only need a few minutes of his time. We can come back later if needed.”

“I will see if Lord Whistler is available,” said the young woman. She smiled, did a sort of curtsey, backed two steps, then turned and went through a door at the back of the entry hall.

“It’s a nice place,” said Annelise. “We didn’t see the inside before.”

“It’s fine,” said Lilah.

“I could live here, I think. Couldn’t you?”

“It’s not really my style.” She took a slow stroll down the entry hall, which was perhaps ten meters long and six wide, with windows on either side of the door facing out into the courtyard. The furniture was four matched chairs, of an understated level of classiness, and six shelves, three on each side as the hall ran back into the house. The shelves had a pleasingly random distribution of memento and tome, though none of the tomes looked as if they had leafed through much. Both mementoes and tomes were very well-dusted. “So,” Lilah said quietly as she inspected a pretty glass globe of the world of Olvar, “the young lady is not, I would guess, a maid. More of an aide. But there must be several maids.”

“You don’t think Henry and Lucy dirty their hands with dusting.”

“I think they dirty their hands with research,” she replied. “I’m okay with that. Hey, they’re alchemists and scholars. They just might be inventing something to cure all disease.”

Annelise was about to respond, but Lilah was looking at the door at the far end of the hall. She stopped and watched the door too, and three seconds later it opened. The young woman came four steps into the room and stopped.

“Lord Whistler will see you,” she said with a smile. “This way, if you will.”

“Thank you so much,” Lilah replied. They followed the young woman up a set of stairs under the gaze of a tall window that looked out on the back part of the courtyard. At the top was an open parlor, lit by daylight through the top of the tall window and an array of other windows. Two long sectional sofas and several chairs, footstools and coffee tables, matched to one another and to the wall hangings and curtains, filled the room. Lord Henry, who had apparently been sitting in one of the comfy chairs reading a worn little tome, jumped up and came forward to greet them. “Lord Whistler,” said Lilah, “thank you for seeing us.”

“Oh, no problem at all,” said Henry. “Absolutely no problem. How can I help you? Margaret hasn’t committed any felonies, has she?” He shot a grin at the young woman.

“Not that we know of,” said Lilah.

“Thank you, Margaret, would you bring—tea or wine? Come, sit!”

“Oh, tea, definitely, thank you, we have to keep our minds sharp.” Lilah and Annelise sat side by side on a sofa facing Henry. “My name is Lilah Bay,” she said. “And my assistant is Annelise Azaine. We are detectives, we’re investigating a—well, a murder.”

“A murder?” he replied, and added, in a serious voice, “I’m fairly sure that I did not commit any of those recently, and my wife is beyond reproach.”

“We know you didn’t commit the murder, Lord Whistler. We’re fairly sure you don’t even know the victim and I kind of doubt that you’ve ever met the actual murderer.”

Henry sat back a little. “Well then,” he said, “how actually can I help?”

4.

The tea arrived at that moment, a pot on a tray with three cups and a dish of honey. It occurred to Lilah that the water must have been boiled by a magic spell. The things people did with magic these days. Margaret didn’t curtsey this time, but stood back and watched Henry.

“Thank you, Margaret,” said Henry. “I don’t need you for anything more. But the library and the laboratory are both yours for the afternoon.”

“Thank you, Professor,” said Margaret, apparently overjoyed to spend the afternoon in study. She gave a tiny bow, smiling, then turned and hurried back down the stairs.

“Take honey with your tea?” asked Henry.

“No, thanks,” said Lilah, while Annelise said, “Please.”

Lilah brought out George’s little box. She set it down. “What’s this?” asked Henry. “I hope you don’t think I know what it is.”

“No, no,” said Lilah. She touched the box with her ring and several of her fingers, said some words and looked up. Shimmering in the air between Annelise and Henry stood a half-size copy of Andre. “Do you know this person?”

Henry studied the image, which was just a little transparent. “Fascinating,” he said. After another moment’s thought, he said, “No. No, I don’t. I know a number of students who look something like this, but I’m quite sure I don’t know this person.”

“Would you know if he had been a student of alchemy at the Institute?”

Henry gazed thoughtfully at the image of Andre, standing there in the air not doing very much: in fact, it was Andre just before they left the office. Henry looked at Lilah and said, “A full-time student?”

“A long-ago full-time student.”

“How long ago?”

“Oh, fifty years or so. Lord Whistler, we’re time travelers. We’re chasing down a time travel crime.”

“And this once-young fellow is the perpetrator?”

“No, actually, or, I should say, he’s a perpetrator of some things but not of the thing we’re interested in. The murder.”

“So is this then the victim that I probably don’t know?”

Lilah smiled, mostly at the thought of trying to explain the actual situation. It was best she didn’t, anyway. “Yes,” she said. “This would be more like the victim.”

Henry smiled back and said, “But he also perpetrated?”

“This young fellow,” said Lilah, “and I say that because, as you know, to a time traveler, he’s young somewhere, sometime: this young fellow was quite the revolutionary type, and he was the type of revolutionary type who tends to express himself by blowing things up. Except, of course, that this actual version of him didn’t. It’s very complicated.”

“But you don’t know him,” said Annelise. “You didn’t remember him in a class.”

“No. I definitely don’t. Mind you, I’ve been teaching at the Institute for over sixty years, and I only get to know students really when they take that second or third class with me. And Lucy, my wife Lucy, she’s much more the teacher than I am. That’s not to say she’s not a gifted scholar, of course. But she is and always has been much sought out by students.”

“That’s useful to know,” said Lilah. She held Henry with her gaze, mostly because she was trying to decide which thing to say next, which thing to ask him. But she did not really want to bring in this version of Lucy at this point. She was pretty sure this version of Lucy didn’t know anything.

So instead she waved a hand and dissipated the Andre image, and held out the box to Lord Henry. He took it and looked at it, then looked up at Lilah.

“Lord Whistler,” said Lilah, “I have a request. A peculiar request.”

“All right,” he said.

“You have been most helpful, but I have to assume that I might get the information I actually want from, well, a different version of your esteemed lordship.” She smiled primly.

He smiled the same little smile as hers. “I can see that this is indeed a complicated case. I should be most delighted to help you, so long as you promise to let me know how it winds up, I should think it would be both entertaining and worthy of my research. So what do you want me to do?”

“Annelise?”

“My turn,” said Annelise. She touched the box with her wand. They all looked at the box.

“That should do it,” said Lilah. She rose, and Annelise did too, and Henry did as well, handing them back the box. “Lord Whistler,” she said.

“Henry,” he corrected her. “I may call you Lilah and—?”

“Annelise,” said Annelise.

“Henry,” said Lilah, “I thank you very much. I do hope I can get back here and tell you everything. My,” and then she stopped before sending her wishes to Lucy, whom Henry did not know she had ever met until five years from now. “My feeling is that you have helped our investigation a lot.”

“I hope that’s true,” he said, seriously. “Time travel and magic should not be used for crime. And yet the temptation is there, isn’t it?”

“Apparently yes,” said Lilah. “I wish I was surprised.”

5.

Lilah and Annelise found their own way out, and found Rob just outside the open main gate. “Robert,” said Lilah, “anything happen while we were inside hobnobbing?”

“Well,” said Rob, “these cliff swallows have the most amazing mud nests just under the overhang here, it’s really something to watch them fly in and out.”

“Ready for something more exciting?” she asked, leading the other two down from the castle toward the orchard, traipsing across the snowy fields in a sudden break of afternoon sun.

“Should we wait till after dark?” asked Rob.

“What are they going to do, lock us up for time traveling in the snow?”

“Maybe it’s illegal in the daylight,” said Annelise. “But wait. Could you possibly explain what’s going on here first? Don’t you think it might be better if we actually knew?”

Lilah didn’t answer right away. In a minute they were striding among the apple trees. A pace ahead of the others, Lilah stopped and turned to face them. They stopped, and she still didn’t say anything yet, nor did they. Lilah was thinking of Garik again.

She had never been in love with Garik. She had never slept with Garik, nor with Neal, nor with Inez or Gregoria or her old aristo boss. She had, however, learned to depend on Garik, more than many women can depend on their lovers, their husbands, way more than Lilah Bay could ever depend on Elio Estrazy. And she had, she was sure, kept Garik, in particular, apprised of everything she knew or guessed about whatever clandestine skullduggery they were combatting (or engaging in).

And evidently, at the last, her willingness to keep Garik informed had not saved him. Possibly it had doomed him. And she looked at Annelise and Rob and she could not help wonder if she was leading them down the same path. Or perhaps her shyness about informing them was just her way of dealing with her sense of guilt, with her remorse at surviving when such good people had died.

But then Elio had had something to do with that last mission, that second job, Lilah couldn’t exactly remember what. And here he was again.

“So?” asked Annelise, wearing a look that Garik could never have managed.

“So,” said Lilah. “You know there’s more than one Andre. And there’s more than one Lucy. But there is more than one Henry. And this one, you might call him Henry 3, he’s actually the only one I know of who you can get a hold of easily.”

“And he’s not guilty of anything, right?”

“He’s not guilty of anything I’m aware of,” said Lilah. “He might be cheating on Lucy with his grad student there, but I doubt it.”

“But we’re looking for some other Henry?” asked Rob. “And it’s harder? How is it harder? The box ought to be able to take us to any Henry in any time stream. Isn’t that true?”

“It’s true,” said Lilah. “It doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

Annelise and Rob exchanged looks. “Okay,” said Annelise, “why wouldn’t it be easy?”

“Because,” Lilah replied with disgust, “of something about worms.”

They exchanged another round of looks, there in the sunny, snowy orchard. Annelise and Rob both raised their eyebrows. “Okay, then, fine,” said Annelise. “I’m ready.”

6.

Lilah took out the box. “Wait a minute,” she said. She handed the box to Rob, held her left arm out from her body, palm out, and slowly turned in place, speaking the six words of her quiet spell. Then she took back the box and said a seven-word spell which neither of the other two knew.

“What’s that?” asked Rob. Lilah just smiled around at the snowy orchard.

“No, wait,” said Annelise. “Lilah, I don’t know how you worked with your previous team. But you can’t call us a team and not tell us that spell you just used. Much less what exactly is up.”

“Listen,” said Lilah. “You don’t even start to understand. About my previous team? About what happened to us, why I don’t have them anymore? You don’t know a thing.” She laughed grimly. “I don’t even know a thing.”

“I’m happy as is,” said Rob, “but that’s just me.”

“I still want to know what that spell was,” said Annelise.

“Okay, sure,” said Lilah. “That was insurance for time travelers. The box, as you know, currently contains essence of Henry. But as I said, the only Henry currently within easy reach is this one.” She looked at Whistler Hall, on the rise above them. “I call him Henry 3. Want to know why?”

“I want to know everything,” said Annelise.

“Let me know how that works out for you,” Lilah replied. She continued in a markedly lower voice. “There was Henry 1, okay? Henry 1. He was married to Lucy 1, of course. And Andre 1 was her student, and he fell in love with her, and she must’ve kinda fallen in love with him, because once when Henry was off somewhere, she invited Andre to dinner, so she could—well, I’m not sure if she knew which way it was even going to go, going in, but in the event, she told him she couldn’t go with him. And be his terrorist freedom fighter girlfriend against the Machine.”

“Okay.”

“So he goes back in time and finds her when she’s his age and not married yet, when she’s still harboring some doubts about whether she wants to spend her life with this guy. I mean, I think we all know how that can be, right?”

“It happened to me,” said Annelise.

“Really?” asked Rob.

“Yeah, I was engaged when I was at the Institute, it was this guy who helped me out, he was really protective, and at a certain point that was great, but when I actually thought about marrying him, I mean, marrying him—!” She looked at Lilah, who had a patient look on her face. “Sorry.”

“No problem. So along comes Andre and he seduces her, and right there the timestream bifurcated.”

“And that,” said Rob, “created Lucy 1 and Lucy 2 and Henry 1 and Henry 2.”

“And sort of Andre 2,” said Annelise. “And it was Lucy 1 that came to see us? That got this whole thing started?”

“Exactly,” said Lilah. “Henry 1 had gone missing. Actually, Endweith itself went missing, in a way. Henry 3 and Lucy 3 are Lord and Lady Whistler.”

“And how did they come to be?” asked Annelise. “What fork in the time continuum made them?”

“I’m getting to that.”

“But it was Lucy 2 who was in on the bank heist,” said Rob.

“Yep. With Andre 2, if you like. But what about—?” She looked at Annelise.

“Henry 2,” said Annelise. “What about Henry 2?”

“Okay,” said Lilah Bay. “I think we’re ready to find out.”

7.

Lilah held the Henry-scented box up in the air, and they all put their violet ring gems to it. The orchard wavered and disappeared, and then they were, almost, in a place.

It was almost a place. And they were almost in it.

At first the place seemed to have a road, and hills, and things that branched and leaved like trees. Things shook as if in the wind. A sun-like glow infused many things.

But there was something funny about that breeze. The light was sunlight but it was a curiously sunless sunlight. The road was just parallel lines converging in the distance, or were they angled lines meeting right here, was there actually no distance?

There was sound, sound of waters, sound of wind, sound of tree branches, sound of motors perhaps, but there was something about the sound.

It seemed to arrive all at once, in a sort of combined screech. She felt she should have felt it like a wind on her skin, but she felt as if she felt nothing, nothing but the fear of her comrades growing like weeds in a rainy garden.

Of smells and tastes there were none.

Lilah tried to look around, but could not seem to move her head, only her eyes in their sockets. She was not all the way in wherever she was.

She reached to grab a hand, and found one, and even then, the feeling, of Annelise’s fingers, Annelise’s palm, was not a real feeling.

Her other hand was not in the world.

She pulled on it. She was starting to panic. How would she get Rob out of here if she couldn’t grab his hand?

But finally her right hand came through, or came through just enough. It held George’s box.

There was a grinding screech, much louder than the combined screech it overlay. Things were dropping around them and onto them. Annelise and Rob were both trying to cry out.

Lilah relaxed. She knew they would make it out of here. She looked down.

At her feet there lay a body. It was horribly disfigured, eaten away. But she knew what it was. She knew who it was.

Lilah pulled Annelise’s hand to the box, and found Rob’s hand on it. She tweaked her ring. They were gone.

The three of them were standing on a windswept hilltop overlooking a village. It was early on a fall evening. They turned around. There was a castle there, a bourgeois affair but a castle nonetheless. Its gate stood thirty meters from where they found themselves.

“What the hell was that?” asked Rob. “I felt like it was eating me. I felt like it was eating away at me.”

“I concur,” said Annelise. “We were losing dimensions somehow.” She looked from Rob’s eyes to Lilah’s.

“That’s what I got,” said Lilah. She reached out and brushed something off Annelise. It hit the ground and Lilah threw the handy little cold spell on it. “Those worm things,” she said as they looked at the frozen corpse.

“Ugh!” cried Rob. “Ick! I hate these—!” cried Annelise. They brushed half a dozen worms off themselves, and one each off each other. Lilah checked herself, found nothing, and settled for watching her colleagues clear off their parasites and freeze them.

“What the hell is this all about?” asked Rob. “Really. Tell me.”

“Why tell you when I think I can show you?” She advanced to the gate, which was just a big wooden double door. “Rok!” she said, waving a hand at it. The doors sprang open. Lilah advanced into the courtyard, a much more compact affair than the one at Whistler. She took four steps toward the keep, then stopped and looked up the nearby squat round tower, and then turned her head to consider another round tower, thinner but taller. She put the box back in her pocket.

“It’s Endweith, isn’t it?” asked Rob.

“Good job, Champ,” said Annelise.

“Hey now.”

“Take hands,” said Lilah.

“Aw, mom.”

“We didn’t like the last place you took us,” said Annelise.

“Oh, big babies, we’re just going up there,” Lilah explained, “and I don’t feel like taking the stairs. Wands out.”

With a mutual shrug, Annelise and Rob took Lilah’s hands, their wands in their other hands. Lilah smirked, then let go a sigh.

She muttered a spell: “A rok an nef se va ont.” She tweaked her ring, and in a moment, they were in a round room high up, the top room of the tower. There were two men standing on opposite sides of a table, like generals planning a campaign. An owl watched with interest from a perch nearby.

The two men looked up at the intruders. The two men appeared to be the same man, except that one was in his twenties and the other around forty. They were both named Henry.

They went for wands. Annelise and Rob were about to enter the fray, but words were rolling off Lilah Bay’s tongue, seven, eight, nine of them, and the two men found their spell powers ebbing swiftly away. Annelise went ahead and imposed a time prevent, while Rob kept his wand on the owl, who thought better of getting involved, fluffed up and closed its eyes.

“Henry,” said Lilah. “Or should I say, Henry 1 and Henry 2.” The two Henrys looked at each other. “My name is Lilah Bay. And in the name of the Violet Council, I am putting you under arrest for the murder of a three-year-old child. Along with some number of billions of other people.”

“You what?” asked the older Henry.

“What do you think you are going to do with us?” asked the younger one, who looked as if he was considering having a go at Lilah in spite of her cease spell.

“My first thought would be to leave both your steaming remains here for Lucy to find. Right now, I don’t guess I have enough of an excuse. You want to give me an excuse?”

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