Crystal Throne

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 

Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to any real
person alive or dead is coincidental and unintentional.

CHAPTER IX

     "So what happened to Ellenia?" Scott asked.

     "I know not," Robin answered him.  "I am sure it went badly for her.
Murder is not a thing my people take lightly.  She performed this deed with
the witness of the council."

     "But she did it to save you," Scott said.

     "To save me from what?" Robin asked.  "My destiny?  I was to rule the
land, and where am I now?"

     "You're here with me," Scott answered putting his arm around his
friend from another world.

     Robin shrugged the gesture off, stood and reached for the bathrobe.
Slipping it on, he left the room.  Scott hurriedly pulled on his jeans and
T-shirt and tried to follow.  When he caught up with him, Scott found Robin
in the drawing room, again examining the small decorator items placed on
the large bookshelf unit.

     Scott went into the kitchen, fixed some tea and brought two cups back
to the drawing room.  By now Robin was beginning to look rather frantically
through the old books on the shelves.  "If you'll tell me what to look for,
I'll help you," Scott offered.

     Robin turned to him and stared for a moment.  He then accepted one of
the tea cups and sat heavily on the couch.  "I know not what it is for
which I look," he answered.  He took a deep breath and continued.  "I
understood your mind journey earlier because I feel I have been on a mind
journey for several years."  He paused to take a sip of tea.  "I came to
awareness in a village.  Small children had gathered around me.  I tried to
speak to them, but they understood not my words.  I tried to use the deep
communication but it only frightened them.  Their people came from nearby
dwellings and chased me from the village.  I have been running ever since."

     "Where was this?" Scott asked.

     "Across the sea.  When I finally came to this land I thought at first
that I had reached the western islands since we followed the sun for many
days.  But I realize that this is but another place in your world.  I
drifted aimlessly, not knowing where I was or how to return to my own land.
Whatever magic Bailor used on me must have been very strong.  I learned to
use your words and I quickly learned to dress in your fashions.  For a time
I lived as a laborer, and for a time as a rich man.  I have had many names
and faces and many lives over the years.  But always I yearned for the life
I left, for the thing I could not have, my friends, my family, and my own
world."

     "How long ago did this all happen?" Scott asked beginning to fear the
answer.

     "Many of your seasons.  I have not counted them.  After the first few
I became uninterested.  I would live for a time and then I would not.  I
would go on a mind journey until my senses returned and I could live in
your world for a time longer."  Robin stood and began to wander about the
room.  "On my last journey I had a vision.  It was of this dwelling.  When
I finally beheld it with my eyes I knew the vision was from the oracle.  I
knew I was being told that my time had come."

     "What was in the vision?" Scott asked him.

     "I saw this dwelling and heard a voice.  The voice told me that I
would know it was true because of the sign.  And I was told that a key was
hidden within.  If I could find the key I would be able to return at last."

     "But Robin," Scott tried to reason with him.  "A key?  If you're
really from a different world I don't think we're going to just find a
metal key and unlock an actual door somewhere."

     "A key need not be metal," Robin told him.  "A key may mean a way to
enter my land.  It may be anything."

     "Then why are you looking in old books and through my curios?" Scott
asked him.

     Robin answered without hesitation.  "I feel the age of these objects.
They call to my blood.  Perhaps they contain an answer."

     "What about the sign?" Scott asked him.

     "Did you not see it yourself beneath the tree?" Robin responded.  "The
eternal circle."

     "The fairy ring," Scott realized.

     "Just so."

     "Earlier you said that tonight was your last chance.  What did you
mean by that?" Scott asked.

     "Follow you the seasons?" Robin responded with a question.

     "Not really."

     "This night and day are of equal length.  It is what you might call an
in-between time, neither summer nor winter.  At such in-between times our
two lands are very close.  And this night there will be a full moon,
another powerful sign.  Can you not realize how long it will be before
another full moon falls on one of the high holidays?"

     "That's it?"  Scott felt a little foolish.  "You're basing all of this
frantic searching on the moon and the equinox?"

     "In my vision I saw myself dying.  I know that if I miss the
opportunity to return to my land my death will be the outcome.  So you see,
this is my only chance."

     "Well," Scott looked at the question pragmatically.  "If we don't know
what it is we're looking for, I don't see how we can be expected to find
it, or even know it if we do find it."

     "I would know," Robin answered him.

          * * *

     "He's not coming in at all, is he?" Troy asked her.  He pushed his
glasses up on his nose with his index finger.  Troy was Scott's assistant
at the shop.  Between the two of them, they managed to be moderately
successful since their recent opening, but Troy was convinced that this was
due primarily to his sense of style.  Troy was a thin, effeminate princess
whom Scott had met at the Pink Collar, a local gay bar.  Scott was having a
rough time after his break up with Alex, his lover who had decided to move
to the west coast.  Troy was a very sympathetic listener, and despite his
affected, bitchy persona, was remarkably understanding and sensitive.
Their friendship developed and later, when Scott had the idea to open the
shop and Troy needed a job, the business relationship seemed natural.

     "I thought he'd be here by now," Jennifer said.  "He told me he was
getting ready to come to work when he chased me out of the house this
morning."

     "That was five hours ago," Troy reminded her.  "Was he alone?"

     "Not exactly," she answered.

     "I knew it," Troy said with a smug look on his face.  "That's why he's
been missing so much time from work.  He said he was sick, but actually he
had some tart over there."

     "Now Troy, don't be bitter," she placated.

     "Bitter?  Me?  Why would I be bitter?"  He began violently rearranging
the stock.  "Just because Troy gets to do all the work and Scott gets to
screw his brains out.  Just because opening this shop was my idea but Scott
had the money so I end up being the flunky.  Just because . . ."

     "Just because you have the hots for him and Scott isn't interested in
you," she finished.

     "That's not true," he pouted.  "I happen to know he has very strong
feelings for me.  He's only trying to make me jealous."

     "Look," she said, trying to change the subject.  "I told you I would
cover while you went to the bank and took a break.  So go already."

     Troy smiled angelically and grabbed the bank deposit sack.  "Ta," he
said with a wave of his hand as he waltzed out the door.

     "Ta," she replied slightly sarcastically and picked up the magazine
Troy had been reading when she came in.  The phone startled her out of her
revery.  She had been looking at the scantily clad models in the magazine
and fantasizing.  "Old World Curios," she answered.

     "Troy, how your voice has changed."  It was Scott on the other end of
the line.

     "Cute, where are you?" she asked.

     "I got tied up.  Jen, what are you doing there?"

     "Filling in for you while your devoted co-worker goes to the bank,"
she replied.

     "Thanks," the voice at the other end of the line said.  "I just called
to see how things were going."

     "Apparently very good.  Troy sold some old statue for quite a bundle
this morning.  That's why he had to go to the bank."

     "Great, which one?" Scott asked.

     "I don't know," she answered.  "First National I guess."

     "I mean which statue, you idiot," he explained.

     Jennifer leaned over to read the ticket on the metal spindle.  "The
Fairy's Gift," she told him.  "Hello, Scott . . . Scott?"  The line was
still open but she couldn't here anything.

          * * *

     "Don't you see, that has to be it!" Scott said excitedly.  "I had that
statue in this house for months.  I only took it back to the store last
week.  Some old lady said she liked statues of fairies so I told her I
would bring one in that I had in my personal collection."

     "And you think this might be the key?" Robin was doubtful.

     "Well we haven't found anything else around here, and it certainly
ties in.  It was a very old statuette of a fairy holding out something that
kind of looked like a magic wand.  It might have been a key.  I just have a
feeling."

     "That," Robin said to him, "is the first thing you have said that I
can understand.  If you have a feeling about this, we must follow it."

     "The lady's address would be on the ticket at work.  Come on," Scott
said heading for the door.  They were out on the porch and heading down the
walk before he realized that Robin was going to be a little obvious
downtown in a velour robe.  They doubled back into the house and Scott
quickly found him some clothes, loose fitting drawstring pants and a baggy
work shirt.  But try as he might, the shoes just weren't going to fit.
Robin assured him that he preferred to be bare footed and that it was much
more comfortable for him.

     Minutes later they were driving into the business district in Scott's
old Ford.  Robin seemed very uncomfortable in the car, but sat as quietly
as possible until they pulled up in front of the shop.  Leaving the car
double parked, they ran into the store.

     "Well, look who's decided to come to work after all," Troy commented
as they entered.  Jennifer, sitting next him at the counter jabbed her
elbow into his side.

     "Sorry," Scott muttered and quickly grabbed the receipts and tickets
from the spindle.  He flipped through them, searching for the right one.

     Meanwhile Jennifer smiled at his companion who seemed not to notice
her.  Finally she could no longer stand her friend's rudeness and decided
to introduce herself.  "Hi, I'm Jennifer Sloan, Scott's oldest and dearest
friend," she said sticking out her hand.

     Robin turned toward her and looked at her outstretched hand for a
moment, as if uncertain about what to do.  He finally took it and held it
in his, not shaking it like she had expected.  "I am honored to be
introduced to one so worthy of his friendship," Robin replied.  "I am happy
that you are his friend, though I doubt you are as old as you say."

     She giggled and looked back at Troy.  "This is Troy Carson," she said,
still holding Robin's hand.

     "Here it is!" Scott cried, dropping the other tickets on the counter.
"Troy, did this lady take the statue with her?" he asked shoving the paper
under his assistant's nose.

     "Yeah, I guess so," Troy sniffed.

     "Come on," Scott said, grabbing Robin by the arm and heading out the
door again.

     In a matter of seconds they were in the car and speeding down the
street.  "Well, it sure was nice of you to drop in," Troy said to the
receding car.  He was obviously miffed.

     "And don't bother to introduce us to your hunky friend," Jennifer
added.

     "Did you see the way that guy looked?" Troy asked her.  "Kind of weird
and spacey.  I wonder where Scott picked him up?"

          * * *


     The owner of the house at the address given on the sales ticket could
very easily afford expensive statues.  The home was a big, two story,
colonial style building set quite a way back from the street.  It didn't
have a yard, like Scott's house; it had grounds.  Carefully manicured lawns
and sculpted evergreen bushes bordered the long, winding, brick drive
leading up to the stately manor.  The access to the driveway was fenced off
with a mechanical gate that only opened electronically.  Scott had to get
out and push a button on an intercom system to contact someone.  "I'm from
Old World Curios," he told the disembodied voice.  "Mrs. Lance purchased a
statue from us earlier today and I think she picked up the wrong one by
mistake."

     "Sorry," the voice replied from the speaker grill.  "Mrs. Lance is out
and not expected back until tomorrow."

     "Well did she come buy earlier to drop off the statue?" he asked.

     "Yes, I think she was in earlier, but she's out now."

     "Can I come take a look to see if she got the right one?" Scott
continued.

     "I'm sorry, she isn't in at the present.  You might want to call
tomorrow."

     "Look, I just need to check the statue she bought earlier today,"
Scott persisted.  "Couldn't you just let me in to have a quick look at it,
and then I can exchange it, if it isn't the right one."

     The disembodied voice was beginning to sound a little testy.  "You may
call tomorrow when Mrs. Lance is in.  I'll let her know you were here."

     "But . . ."  There was a very audible click from the speaker.  The
metal gates did not budge, and showed no evidence of having any such
intentions.  "Looks like we're out of luck," Scott told his friend as he
climbed back into the car.

     "You still feel in your heart that this statue is the key?" Robin
asked him.

     "I don't know.  It was just a hunch."

     "Scott," Robin said looking deeply into his eyes.  "Search your heart.
Feel the answer hidden there.  You know what that answer is.  Is this the
key we seek?"  The soft melody of the voice seemed to shut the rest of the
world out.  All Scott could see were the burning green eyes connecting with
his.  He opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out.  Just as
suddenly as the spell had come upon him, it was gone.  Robin leaned back in
the seat.  "I thought as much," he said and opened the car door.

     "Where are you going?" Scott asked as his companion got out of the
vehicle.

     "For the key," Robin answered.

     "Oh shit," Scott muttered and jumped out of the car to hurry after
him.

     Having parked the car a short distance down the road, they again
headed back toward the Lance estate.  "At least I look good in stripes,"
Scott thought as they walked down the lane along the perimeter of the
decorative, wrought iron fence.  "Robin," he said aloud, "can't we wait
until the old lady gets back tomorrow?"

     "You know we cannot," was the reply.  "It is already nearing sundown.
We have but a short time."  They had found a secluded area surrounded with
high bushes.

     "How are we going to do this?" Scott wanted to know.

     "We just step between the bars," Robin answered casually.

     The bars of the fence were spaced at six inch intervals, not nearly
enough room to step between.  Scott placed his body against two of them to
demonstrate.  "They're too close.  We can't get between them."

     "You cannot get between them, you mean," Robin replied with a grin.
"You know not the things I may be able to accomplish that you cannot."  He
walked over to the fence and grasped one of the iron rods.  Jerking back,
as if burned, Robin let out a gasp.  "This is iron!" he said shaking his
hand against the stinging pain.

     "So?" Scott asked perplexed.  "Are you going to walk through them
now?"

     "Are you jesting?  This is iron," Robin said as if that explained
everything.  "Be not crazy.  I cannot get through these."

     "Great," Scott replied.  "Somehow I knew this would all fall on me."
He walked over to a nearby tree.  "Give me a boost."

     "What intend you?" Robin asked him.

     "I intend to climb the tree and then drop over the fence from that
limb," he answered pointing to a sturdy branch that overhung the fence.

     "An excellent idea," Robin replied and boosted Scott up into the
bottom branches.

     As soon as he was securely stationed in the crotch of the biggest
branch Scott turned to help Robin up after him.  But his partner was
nowhere in sight.  "Robin . . . Robin," he called quietly.

     He almost lost his grip and fell when a voice in front of him
responded.  "What, Scott?"  The man was standing on the limb that overhung
the fence.  He wasn't hanging on to anything, but seemed quite at home,
perfectly balanced on his feet.

     "How'd you get there already?" Scott marveled.

     "You forget I was raised in the great wood," Robin replied.  "Come
on," he said and turning, walked out toward the end of the rapidly thinning
branch.

     "Well I wasn't," Scott complained under his breath and shinnied out
onto the limb, holding on with arms and legs as best he could.  Once they
were past the fence the branch began to bend more and more with their
weight.  Finally, when Scott was sure it was going to break, Robin lightly
jumped off and landed silently on his bare feet in the grass below.  The
limb whipped back up with the release of his weight and in the process,
Scott lost his grip.  He tried to stifle his cry as he fell, expecting to
at least break an arm or leg if not his neck.  Instead, he found himself
being held like a baby, gently cushioned in Robin's arms.  "Thanks," he
said and smiled up resisting the urge to kiss the face that was so close to
his.

     The sun was setting at their backs as the pair quietly ran across the
large lawn that separated the house from the street.  In a moment they were
squatting behind some low shrubs, right under a large bay window.  Scott
looked all around, and then stood, peeking through the glass.  All was dark
inside.  He pulled and pushed but the window itself must have been locked
tight.  "No use," he murmured.

     "Allow me," Robin said, standing beside him.  He closed his eyes and
hummed an odd sounding tune.  He made some quick movements with his hands
and pushed gently.  The window opened quite easily at his touch.  "Let us
go," he said and vaulted silently through the opening.  Scott clambered in
after him.

     Inside was pitch black.  The setting sun was low enough to allow no
lingering rays through the open window.  "Robin," Scott called in a hoarse
whisper.  "Where are you?"

     "I am standing near to you," came a whispered response.  "Please be a
little more quiet.  Someone in here may hear you," he admonished.  "My ears
are sensitive enough to pick up your words when others could not."

     "Okay," Scott barely breathed the response so quietly that he himself
could not here an actual sound.  "But I can't see a thing in this
darkness."

     A hand reached out and took his.  "Then follow me," the whisper came
back to him.  "I can see quite clearly."  The hand led him slowly across
the room.  He was beginning to feel confident and a little relaxed when his
foot bumped into something and there was a loud crash.

     Moments later the room was flooded with light and a tall, dark,
Hispanic man was pointing a revolver directly at Scott.  "I have called the
police.  I suggest you sit quietly until they get here," the man commanded.
Scott slowly sat on the overstuffed sofa.  He looked around, but saw no
sign of his partner anywhere in the room.

     Mrs. Lance may have had money, but she had very poor taste in
decorators.  The room in which he was being held captive was furnished very
comfortably with overstuffed couches and chairs of a modern variety which
fought with the Victorian wall paper and drapes.  There were also several
pedestals standing in corners, holding statues of Greek or Roman origin.
The entire mismatch was completed by a brightly colored, flowered carpet.
Scott looked all around the room, searching for the missing statue over
which they had risked their freedom.  It was no where in sight.  He felt
frustrated knowing that they did not find what they had come for.  He also
felt betrayed by the fact that his new friend was now missing along with
the statue.  Scott was the one who had been caught.  The Hispanic man sat
quietly across from him, the revolver in his hand never wavering.  He knew
that the police would be there in a matter of seconds.  They were very
prompt in responding to calls from this neighborhood.  Scott had no way to
explain his presence.

     "Scott," a voice said.  He jerked his head up.  The Hispanic was still
staring at him.  "Worry not.  He cannot hear me, only you."  It was Robin.
"If I distract him can you escape?" the voice asked.

     "I don't think so," Scott whispered under his breath.

     "What?" the man across from him asked.  "Did you say something?"
Scott merely shook his head.

     "Then be patient.  I shall await a better opportunity.  I shall not
leave you thus," the voice said in his ear.

     "Where are you," Scott whispered.

     "What did you say?" the man with the gun asked again.

     "I am nearby.  We have ways of hiding when need be," the voice
answered him.

     "I didn't say anything," Scott said aloud.  He could now hear the
sirens coming closer from outside.

     A few minutes later a police officer, one of the ones who had visited
his house a few days earlier, was placing handcuffs on him.  "You have the
right to remain silent . . . " the officer droned the litany of arrest.
Scott was then roughly pushed through large double doors and out into a
tiled hall.

     As the policeman escorted him toward the front door, he spotted the
statue in a niche in the hallway.  "That's it," he whispered lightly.
"That's the statue."

     "What'd you say?" the cop asked him.

     "Nothing," he replied.

     Once outside, the policeman opened the back door to the one of the
waiting squad cars.  Just as he was about to get in, there was a tremendous
crashing sound, as of lots of glass breaking, followed by a scream from
inside the house.  The policeman violently shoved him into the car and
slammed the door.  He then ran back into the house with the others.

     The door on the opposite side of the car opened.  "Come on," Robin
said, grabbing his arm and dragging him across the seat and out of the car.
"We must hurry."  They ran for the trees at the far end of the yard.

     "Hey!  Stop or I'll shoot!  I said freeze!"  The voices rang out
behind them.  Next, the still air was shattered with the sound of gun
shots.

     "Please let them be firing into the air to scare us," Scott prayed as
he ran.

     "Here," Robin said and grabbed his arm again, yanking him behind a
large flowering bush.  Two policemen ran right past them heading on towards
the fence.

     "I can't run very well with these on my wrists," Scott gasped,
indicating the handcuffs behind his back.

     "Well, take them off," Robin replied.

     "They're locked," Scott explained angrily.  Robin reached out and
tapped the cuffs lightly.  They dropped off Scott's hands and onto the
ground.

     "At least they are not iron," Robin smiled.

     "Did you get the statue?" Scott asked him.

     "Yes," he replied, patting the oddly shaped bulge concealed under his
shirt.  "Now let us leave while those guards are searching in the other
direction."  They doubled back and sneaked out the now open gate, down the
lane and jumped into Scott's car.  He coasted it down the hill for a
distance before turning on the lights and starting the engine.

     "Where do we go from here," he asked his companion sitting in the seat
next to him.  "That one policeman knows where I live."

 

 

 

 

 

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