pationImage: Sue Vincent
It’s been a while since I last participated in one of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenges. Various attempts had been made to no avail, until a postcard arrived from a couple of old friends. I love getting postcards and this one was a little intriguing, it was from Bob the Bibliophile troll (otherwise known as Little Troll) and Flavius, arch-mage, bookseller and exorcist. It’s been a while since we three met. The last time was under unhappy circumstances when an attempt was made on the Archmage’s life. We still don’t know whether it was a disgruntled client or something more sinister. I recall the assailant was trying to steal a rare edition of Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Flavius has recovered well, considering he was run over several times by a large truck. It’s a complicated story and rather painful to recollect. Not for me but poor Flavius.
Bob and Flavius are holidaying in Ibiza, not the most ideal of places for a troll and one of the undead. Regardless, it sounds like they’re having a great time exploring the less known parts of the island. The club scene has lost its excitement and all they want is to rest now. The friendship between the two is enduring and unusual. The postcard was accompanied by a little parcel. I opened it to find a lovely leather bound notebook. It was a journal and appeared to contain entries written by a certain Comte de Saint Germain! Well, what a surprise. The note inside stated it was for the attention of the Shed owner and contained a history of the adventures of Little Troll and Flavius. I lost myself within its page as the writer spun their tale. It was a little disjointed and the tone inconsistent. Was it really the hand of the Comte in this journal?
This is a record of my observations, being Comte de Saint Germain. In this year of our Lord 1999. I am in a new world but instilled with old world thoughts and memories. Time travel can be disrupting and a little dangerous in the wrong hands. It tears at the fabric of time and perception if performed without care. I am fortunate in excelling in this art and meeting with remarkable minds and souls. Two in particular being very dear companions throughout the ages, Robert and Flavius.
Robert and Flavius had met several centuries ago in Prague. Robert was attending an alchemy conference and Flavius was at an exorcism masterclass. Prague’s population had quadrupled during this period, causing extra policemen to be drafted in to cope with increased criminal activity. Of the unnatural variety. The Prague constabulary were liaising with the Renaissance equivalent of Interpol, in fact a little known department of that organisation. They dealt solely with matters of magical and esoteric phenomena. Flavius was occasionally used as a consultant by the department due to his specialist knowledge. He was also one of their former field agents but had to retire due to health reasons, such as being “afflicted” with a little death.
The city was buzzing with strange energies and an epidemic of horrible dreams. It seems the barriers between the worlds were getting thinner, allowing undesirables to slip through. As an Empath Flavius was finding it difficult to cope with the increasingly negative atmosphere. Being recently deceased and then re-animated was a challenging situation, but not an obstacle that was insurmountable. He was a positive person when alive and death, or “undeath”, hadn’t changed that. Something was coming and he was a little nervous at the prospect. Saying that, exorcism was a calling that reinvigorated his spirit, and the foremost practitioner of the art was holding a masterclass in the city. Hence the reason for his presence in Prague at this time.
Meanwhile Robert was exercising his intellectual prowess with great minds of the Alchemy fraternity. They consisted of those seeking materialistic and spiritual goals, gathering from different timelines, countries and disciplines. I had arranged to meet Robert in Prague for the conference and to introduce him to a bookseller friend, Flavius. He knew of Flavius by reputation. Flavius was able to obtain rare texts almost out of thin air, and for this reason he was feted by many, especially those of ill-repute. The traffic in looted artefacts, including rare books was rife even then. Therefore Flavius was in a perfect position to monitor the situation.
We met in a seldom visited tavern sited down a narrow road between a churchyard and apothecar’s house. I informed them of my encounter with a mysterious visitor received two days ago. This man had worn a wide brimmed hat, which concealed most of his face. As for his footwear, the boots were made of the finest quality leather, with the added surprise of delicate gold spurs attached to the back. He dressed like a Regency dandy crossed with a cowboy. The visitor had requested a meeting with Flavius in relation to making a purchase of an early edition of the “Three Books of Occult Philosophy”. I knew Flavius had a copy but declined to mention this fact. There was something not right about the manner of this individual. The stranger made his excuses after a few minutes and left for another engagement. The scent of opium and bitter almonds infused the air in the drawing room for hours afterwards. I gazed at the visitor’s introduction card, it was made of dark vellum inscribed with a blood red dragon on the front. The back was blank. This did not bode well.
I finished my tale and became silent. The look of unease on the faces of my companions confirmed certain facts about the identity of his visitor. The silence was broken by the opening of the tavern door. We could smell the aroma of opium and bitter almonds, then heard the sound of spurs. We held our breath. The tavern owner gestured towards a back room and we raced towards it. It held a secret door into the apothecar’s house. We could hear raised voices in the tavern, then a door slamming. It was evident our lives were in danger, who was after us? We could hear the sound of horses going down the cobbled street. I peered through the window, my eyes meeting the red glow of the visitor’s gaze. He had three other companions, all seated on horses.
I put the journal down. Several pages had been torn out and the next entry was three years later. This didn’t sound right. My gut was telling me the Comte had no hand in this journal, suspicions being confirmed when I turned the page. There was a red dragon stamped on the page. The mystery deepens.