Back to The Lost Covenant of Venice.
Mid morning, Literatus Townhouse, Venice.
- Favila is fuming, pacing from balcony to fireplace to balcony, slicing the room in two. The desk where I sit to write is an eddy of calm in the waters of her rage. In a moment she will stop and hurl the letter from Amberitus into the fireplace. Then we will sit down and go over our position again and look for some advantage that may tip the scales back in our favour.
- In the meantime, I write.
- There was a crow on the roof this morning. Death comes to this house. An ominous beginning to our task. Like my fellows from Literatus, I begin to lose faith in this alliance with Magvillus. Too much rests on finding the covenant quickly, and no one is standing strong behind us. A nod of the head, a wink of the eye, cannot be held up before the Tribunal for judgement. If we succeed, they claim; if we fail, we fail alone.
- There goes the letter, in a burst of flame and ash.
Evening, Covenant of Dulcis Fons, Venice.
- So, and even so. There is more at work here than myself or Favila had imagined. I had anticipated months of work; searching, studying, casting, seeking the magic that would lead us to the covenant, finally to succeed or fail as the fates, and our merit, decreed.
- But it was not like that at all. Morum knew where the covenant was all along. Knew what wards and magics hid it. Knew, exactly, how to get in. We have not been asked to find the missing covenant; we have been placed within it. What I cannot fathom is whether Favila was aware of this, or if she has also been deceived.
- It is not a pleasant feeling, to be a pawn in a great game.
- My companion is pleasant enough, even if he is lacking in conversation. Like most scholars, he is pale and thin-chested, not a striking figure, though I cannot fault his knowledge. We met at the Magvillus townhouse, over a lunch that was one surprise after another. Morum, it seemed, had been delving into the past, and had found two keys that he believed would aid us in entering the covenant. One was an old Dulcis Fons sigil, drawn onto black cloth. Morum explained that he had spent months enchanting the sigil to resist the effects of Muto Mentem spells.
- The other key was Frederick of Mercere who, it turns out, had been indirectly requested by Aurelius of Bonisagus to deliver news to Dulcis Fons after the Tribunal of 1179. That, said Morum, would be enough to allow Frederick to find the covenant again. He hoped.
- We set off to the last known location of Dulcis Fons, Frederick in a sedan chair, Jerolin and myself on foot, each accompanied by our shield grogs. I was sure Jerolin's grog would fall over in a stiff breeze, but he made it. My own Vera made him look older and more decrepit than any warrior had a right to be.
- The location turned out to be a once-prosperous street in the middle of a decaying warehouse district. Frederick had his sedan bearers walking back and forth in the street for some time. We saw nothing that could have been the covenant. I was just considering whether to risk using magic when Frederick got out of his chair.
- He led us towards two large and crumbling townhouses, Jerolin and I walking a pace behind. Frederick walked right up to the houses, to a gap in the plaster, and bent down to place his eye at the crack. I heard him murmer "at last".
- As he stepped back, Jerolin and I both vied for a view, but he stepped back in politeness. I bent down and put my eye to the crack, and this is what I saw.
- A dark tunnel stretched down, and out, and down, and at the end, there was a large townhouse. Looking at it, I felt singularly incurious, and if I let my gaze drift, I found myself looking back on the street, and wondering what I was doing there.
- Frederick stepped forward, and we followed, and suddenly, the house was there in front of us. The windows on all the upper floors were boarded, and leaves littered the entrance. Broken shutters hung from the windows on the ground floor, and the rusting hinges on the doors had stained the plaster around them.
- The air tingled around us and then it was like a mist clearing, and the house had always been there.
- Frederick took up his cane, and rapped three times upon the door.
- "Who's there?" came the cry from inside.
- Frederick pushed his aging frame upright. "I am Frederick of Mercere," he said. "I bring news of the Tribunal."
- We waited, for a long time, and then suddenly hinges creaked, and snapped, as the door was dragged open from the inside. A grubby crone stood framed in the doorway, blinking at us.
- She hesitated a moment, then bowed to Frederick. "Please," she said, glancing to her left, "come in."
- We stepped across the threshold and into the covenant.