And So It Begins...

Chapter Seventeen

Reminiscing on how easy it had been to snatch items of food from Williams’ store Vincent helped Narcissa to carry her wares down to her chamber later that day. It had always been easy to fool William, but it came as a surprise to find that William had ceased locking the store since he, Vincent assumed, had not been around to raid it. Vincent chuckled well after today William would indeed be turning that lock with the key again, especially as Vincent had thought fit to pin a note saying ‘thank you William’ on the inside of the door in his own familiar flowing handwriting, and of course signed with a V. That had been one of the reasons he had taken so much this time, and he and Narcissa’s arms were loaded and they had to keep stopping to rest.

Narcissa chuckled as she lay her bags down, “I think William will be raising the roof tonight, child.” Thinking along the same lines, Vincent laughed out loud, “Well I’m only taking what I would have been entitled to had I of been there. You too Narcissa, they have saved food that would have been intended for the both of us of late, they shouldn’t need to complain.”

“But they will not see it that way.” Narcissa laughed with him, then asked the burning question, “Did you tell the father that I am alive and well?”

“No Narcissa, I encountered no one and it did not seem right to leave a note about something so important as that. I have a bit more thinking to do, Narcissa after which I shall probably return, and then I will tell them about you.”

“Well child you are welcome to stay with me as long as you like, but I fear the winds of change might take you back sooner than anticipated. Your path has three directions now Vincent and I hope that you take the correct one, but I fear that you will take the one that will not bring you happiness."

“And of the other two?” Vincent asked as he picked up the food bags once again intent on making the last part of the journey while he deemed Narcissa fresh enough to take it, for she would soon be in need of refreshment again.

“One will bring you a merit of happiness the other will bring you more happiness than you have ever known but it will also mean great changes on your part and an acceptance of the only way things can be.”

“The only happiness for me now Narcissa is to be with Catherine, alas that will never happen now.”

“Catherine will marry the father of her child, Vincent. Then you will be happy.” Unable to brush away his tears Vincent let them fall but he said nothing. Narcissa kept making reference to that and it pained him, did she not know it? Only this time what she had added on confused him. How could he be happy if Catherine was married to Elliot?

Dismissing it as another of Narcissa’s riddles, he started up a conversation about other people that they knew and very soon he had steered Narcissa away from that particular topic, and finally they reached her chamber just before what would have been nightfall up top. It had been a long time since Vincent had been above, not since he last went to Catherine’s apartment. He would never go there again, since he knew that she had moved into a brownstone, another regret of his, and another closure of a chapter in their lives. She knew how much he loved being on that balcony with her over looking the lights of the city. It had been their special place and now it was lost to them forever, like so many of the things they had shared. Narcissa sensed his sadness but said nothing, just busied herself putting away her wares and intent on making a brew of fresh tea.

“You may sleep on that cot over there, child. There are some more blankets in the drawer underneath if you are cold. I will teach you many things while you are here.”

Vincent smiled, he thought as much, Narcissa had spent years teaching him her magic and helping him understand her riddles, even so when she reminded him of the recent one, he felt saddened to the point of nausea, why could she not let it drop? Why was it so important that she keep mentioning it?

“You should return on the weekend child, Catherine must marry the father of her child and she will need you.”

“No Narcissa, Catherine will not be needing me, any weekend and certainly not this one, she has more other important plans for this weekend.”

“The wedding, yes? Catherine will attend the wedding child, and then she will need you.”

So it was as he had surmised then? Catherine was to marry Elliot Burch in a marriage of convenience and then she would return to the tunnels to pick up her relationship with him. Vincent didn’t know how he felt about that, it was possible that Catherine having the best of both worlds could find it acceptable, but Vincent wasn’t certain that he could, even so, as he remembered the love making that they had shared his skin began to tingle and he found it difficult not to become aroused. Catherine had unleashed the beast in him, and not the one that he had always believed would be unleashed. This one wanted to love her for eternity come what may, even perhaps if she was married to another man. But why oh why, did that other man have to be that man? For Vincent knew he would never be able to accept that out of all the men there was on the earth Catherine had married the one with the name that grated on his nerves the most, a king in her world, Elliot Burch.

*** *** ***

On his way to visit with his brother two days later Dominic’s mind was in a whirl. Less then four days later he proposed to be leaving the tunnels for ever and making his home back in the subterranean world he had known all his life, the thing was how could he possibly instigate it so that he took with him not only the baby but the baby’s father also? That would be a little harder to arrange, and without bait perhaps impossible. One of the reasons he had hoped that the fellow Mouse would visit his brother with him so that on their return he could capture the fellow, and either by using his earlier deception or by using some other ensure that the boy Mouse stayed below with him and in time would become a captive with which to lure Vincent back to his world. Of course he could use the baby, but until he had that child exactly where he wanted, he did not want Vincent aware of the fact that the baby was his. Neither could he take the child and return for Vincent because that would mean leaving the child by itself. So pondering what he was to do, Dominic was distressed to find Vincent missing from the chamber on his arrival, and after waiting an hour for him and not have him return Dominic left the provisions he had taken with him and returned back to the hub with the letter that Father had asked him to leave with Vincent. His intention had been never to give it to his brother anyway, that would have complicate already complicated matters. In none of his planning did Dominic consider Catherine, believing that she was expecting another of Vincent’s children, he had already decided that she like his father would have to sacrifice one of her children in order to balance what was lost from the beginning. Just as Jesus had to balance what Adam had lost for all mankind, so too the kidnapping of one of her children would balance out the wrong done by a past generation.

Walking back to the hub Dominic went over his plans for the weekend. He would attend the wedding, then while Catherine went to the reception he would return to the tunnels, tell whomsoever looked after the baby that Catherine had asked him to take the child up to her brownstone and instead take the child down to his subterranean world where he had grown up and where the child, reminiscent of his brother by his leonine face would also grow up. He would work on bringing Vincent back another time, for now nothing must cloud his thinking of the first half of his plan. So close now, Dominic could hardly contain his joy, just four more days…four more days and a lifetime’s expectation would be realised he could hardly wait.

*** *** ***

Saturday proved bright and clear with wall to wall sunshine bringing an extra sparkle to Catherine’s friend Jenny, who could not contain the joy that she felt. “Oh Cathy, to think I have you to thank for all of this! If you hadn’t of known Elliot, or if you hadn’t of allowed him to stay at your apartment we might never of met, well not in such an uncomplicated way at any rate. He and I rubbed shoulders a time or two in the past but we never stopped to talk, he was just there, or I was just there and that was that. But being able to get to know him like that first night in your apartment…well that was something else. I can tell you, Cathy, I have never fallen in love so fast in my life and when he kissed me…oh all my dreams came true. I saw the identity of the man of my dreams for the first time ever. And that reminds me…how are you and Vincent doing?”

“There is no me and Vincent. Nothing has changed from the last time I spoke to you. He remains hiding away from the hub with some misguiding notion no doubt that even after making love to me he still cannot accept me in his life.” Bitterness touched Catherine’s reply, leaving Jenny sad, but only for a moment. “That’s so strange, honey, I still have happy ever after dreams of you two.”

“Well they’re a long time coming true Jen. I really don’t know what to do about him anymore. If it were simply a case of going down to find him and drag him back screaming I’d do it, but I fear it goes far deeper than that. Vincent has to work through whatever hang up he has now, and nothing I do will hurry along smoothing it out, until he’s done it. I know Vincent of old, there is no hurrying him, Jen.”

“What about Dominic, can’t he do something?” Jenny asked as she finished dressing. Elliot had arranged for her to have a makeover and she was donning old clothes that could be taken off by stepping out of them, nothing that had to be pulled over her head and ruin her hair that was being done after her makeup was applied. She’d opted to have it piled on her head with little ringlets cascading down to her nape and held in place with a diamond-studded tiara.

“I’m not entirely certain I trust Dominic with anything let alone something as important as this. He’s a strange fellow Jenny, although on Monday I saw a side to him that made a mockery of all the doubts I’ve had about him. He was absolute fun to be with and I’m quite looking forward to seeing him at your wedding doesn’t that sound contradictory?” Catherine asked as she lovingly touched the silk of Jenny’s gown hanging behind the door and covered by a soft plastic gown bag. “You are going to look like a fairy in this Jen, its gorgeous.”

“No not contradictory, just uncertain of what to believe regarding him. Its usually the same when getting to know new people, we all have to be on our best behaviour, lest we say something out of place or something that might offend.”

“Same is true of the other party though, and while Dominic has been on his best behaviour, there has also been a time or two when he has left me feeling decidedly awkward, but like I said that was before he ventured above and let me see the real man that he probably is. I liked what I saw Jen, maybe your dreams were of him and not Vincent?”

Though Catherine joked about it, Jenny was serious, “No, Cathy. Until I knew for certain I might have agreed, but I always see you with a man with a leonine face, I know its Vincent, and you are happy Cathy, very, very happy. It’ll come good you’ll see, just have faith my friend.”

“I’ll try, now come along lets go and get you made up for your big day there’s only four hours to go, Jen.” The two girls hugged one another, four more hours and Jenny would become Mrs Jennifer Burch. Jenny couldn’t wait.

*** *** ***

The taxi arrived as promised and Dominic with butterflies in his stomach for everything but the coming wedding sat in the back and the driver took him to the designated church. It was as well they arrived early for already the street around about the church was full of cars, and a huge crowd of reporters were talking to anyone that would speak to them about anything revolving around Elliot Burch. “I’ve met him.” Dominic said as he was encountered by a pair of journalists waiting outside the church, “he’s a great guy.” Immediately they jumped on him, asking all manner of questions that Dominic took delight in answering to the best of his ability without revealing where he had met Elliot. He was happy to be important if only for a few moments. Soon Elliot Burch would steal the day, and that pretty much happened as a limousine bringing the bridegroom turned into the street two blocks down.

“He’s here.” The joyous cry sent reporters dashing along the street, cameras flashing as they vied for the best photograph and the earliest reports to run off the press that day. The limousine pulled up outside the church its tinted windows revealing nothing of the occupant inside and waited several moments before the chauffer alighted from the driver’s side walked round to the back and opened the door, where Elliot stepped immaculate as ever a huge smile on his face. “One question at a time, please ladies and gentlemen.” Elliot told the eager reporters, he blinked heavily as the cameras took his photograph and wondered why there was need for flashes on such a brilliant summers day. Checking his watching Elliot added, “I can give you three minutes.”

“Mr Burch, Mr Burch…” Reporters crowded around him, with questions like, “Where did you meet your bride to be…is it true…where will the honeymoon be…” Elliot answered them all to the best of his ability, leaving the honeymoon destination un-revealed, even Jenny was unaware of that particular surprise. Unable to actually agree on a honeymoon destination, Elliot had decided to let his bride have her day, and while Jenny was expecting them to spend two weeks at Elliot’s luxury apartment, he and Catherine were well aware that he would be taking her to London and then Paris straight after the reception. Catherine had already packed Jenny’s passport and the clothing that she deemed she would need. It would be a complete surprise.

Not many minutes after Elliot called a halt to the questions and ducked into the majestic interior of the church now bedecked with roses of red and white and pink, did the car bringing Jenny and Catherine and all the little bridesmaids turn the corner. The reporters saddened at Elliot’s dismissal were soon running down the street again, eager to catch a glimpse of the bride, and running alongside the car risked squashed feet in a bid to be the first to photograph her as she stepped from the vehicle.

“You sure you want to go out there, Jen?” Catherine laughed as faces peered in on them. Faces that through the tinted glass squinted trying to see through.

“I’d run the gauntlet to get to Elliot.” Jenny laughed.

“My have you got it bad or what?” Catherine chuckled.

The car drew level with the curb and as with Elliot’s car the chauffer waited a few steadying minutes for everyone to get their breath before he open his door and got out. Even so reporters leered in and grabbed their chance to take a photograph of anything that was inside, not actually seeing anything but sparkles and lace.

“Madam?” The chauffer enquired as he opened the door nearest to Catherine. She tucked her pale cerise gown around her legs and standing near the door reached in to help out first the bridesmaids in gowns reminiscent of her own and then taking the bouquet of deep pink and white roses she finally held out a hand for Jenny with her dazzling gown of crisp white and powder puff pink lace that enhanced the colour of the roses in her bouquet. Handing the same to her as she brushed the creases from her gown, police who had suddenly appeared held back the reporters but it did not stop the snapping of cameras or the questions that surrounded them. “Give us a minute Miss Aronson…” They begged, “Just a minute of your time.”

“A minute of my time is a minute left unmarried.” Jenny told them laughing, “Elliot and I will talk to you after we are wed.”

Everyone laughed and many wrote down her quip in their notepads. It wasn’t difficult so see how much in a hurry this bride was to marry the richest man in Manhattan and who could blame her. But suddenly, some of the reporters noticed Catherine properly, “Miss Chandler isn’t it? Didn’t you once date Elliot Burch? How well do you know Miss Aronson?”

“Later, later.” Catherine called over her shoulder as she followed Jenny down the path leading to the church where Jenny’s father having arrived in another limousine awaited his beautiful daughter. “You look gorgeous, just like your mother.” He whispered as he kissed her cheek. “Couldn’t stop her crying, she’s been at it all morning, looks like a panda with black smudges round her eyes. Told her not to wear mascara.” Any butterflies Jenny had vanished as she laughed and imagined her mother’s black rimmed eyes and then stepping in time with her father the two entered the church to the strands of an organ playing ‘here comes the bride’ with eyes front and looking nowhere but straight ahead. Her heart in her mouth Jenny gasped when she saw Elliot awaiting her he looked ravishing! She smiled at the thought, that’s what she would be doing with him tonight, ravishing him and every day of their lives hereafter.

Following her friend down the isle Catherine caught Dominic’s eye as she passed him three rows from the front, he winked at her and a similar though sped through Catherine’s mind, wow, what a few fine clothes could do for a man. Dominic looked wonderful, and had tied back his hair with a tiny black velvet bow. He looked amazing, and so very, very handsome something that was obviously being noticed by a great deal of ladies who couldn’t it seemed, take their eyes off of him. ‘Huh’ thought Catherine smugly, ‘if you think he’s gorgeous you should see his brother’ and she felt exceedingly satisfied that they would never know the man of her dreams. Vincent was hers, the father of her child, and nothing would ever change that and it was at that moment that Catherine decided that no matter what she believed, no matter what she had told everyone that she would leave it to Vincent, the moment the wedding was over and she got back to the tunnels she would seek Vincent out, and she would bring him back to the hub kicking a screaming if she had to, but she would bring him back, that was for certain. And with that thought in mind Catherine cheered up immensely and thoroughly enjoyed the wedding of her best friend taking to heart the vows as if they were her own.

*** *** ***

“Have you seen Dominic?” Catherine asked while the photographs were being taken back outside the church after Elliot and Jenny had become Mr and Mrs. Jenny turned to her friend, “I saw him leave a few moments ago. I couldn’t call out to him but he seemed intent on going anyway because he waved down a cab.”

Catherine frowned, “I thought he was coming to the reception. He’ll not know where it is if he doesn’t soon return.”

“I shouldn’t worry about him, Cathy, maybe he found it all a little overwhelming, unless he was meeting someone, there were an awful lot of women with their eyes on him and I did see him talking to a couple of them as they left the church.” Catherine nodded and accepted that possibility. Besides Dominic had said that he might not go to the reception, and with that thought in mind Catherine ceased worrying about him, and kept involved in her friend’s wedding. It would be another twenty-four hours before Catherine worried about Dominic again.

*** *** ***

“Hi Dominic, thought you were at the wedding?” Brooke asked as Dominic strode into the tunnels some half hour after Catherine noticed him missing from the church grounds.

“I was, and it was wonderful, so wonderful in fact that Catherine has had the bright idea of having a few discreet photographs taken of little Vincent while she has the chance. It’s a beautiful day up there Brook, and she has asked me to collect the babe and take him to the back of the church where she, Elliot and Jenny will be waiting. Can you wrap him in that shawl, I have a taxi waiting, don’t worry we have thought of everything, and no one will see him.”

“Should I come too?” Brooke asked fetching the shawl. She had no reason to mistrust Dominic and what he said sounded plausible but she wasn’t sure about letting the baby out of her sight.

Dominic hesitated, the girl might make a good hostage, but he changed his mind realising that she would likely create when she discovered that they weren’t going to the church after all. “You aren’t dressed for a wedding Brooke, sorry, and I haven’t time to wait. Elliot and Jenny are eager to get to their reception.”

“Oh yes of course, well here you are then. Tell Catherine he’s just had his bottle and a change and is about ready for a nap. You might have trouble keeping him awake for photographs.”

“Maybe, but there’s a lot going on up there, his inquisitive nature just might keep him from sleeping.”

Brooke laughed, “That’s so. Never known a baby that wanted to know about everything this early. Let’s hope he still wants to learn when his schooling starts.” With the shawl wrapped around little Vincent so that his face was well hidden, Dominic carried the babe through the tunnels and then through Catherine’s brownstone and outside into the sunshine to the waiting taxi while Brooke who had followed him that far waved goodbye from the door.

Giving the driver directions the car moved away from the curb. Brooke watched it till it was out of sight. It was only later that she realised that it had gone in a different direction to that of the church.

*** *** ***

Vincent was having a miserable Saturday. ‘Catherine will be married by now’ he reminded himself for the hundredth time that day. Each time made him feel worse than the last, yet whenever he mentioned any of his misery to Narcissa the silly woman would tell him, ‘Catherine will marry the baby’s father.’ Saying it so often that in the end Vincent covered his ears, as it was beginning to sound like chanting.

By Sunday, Vincent had had enough, “I’m sorry Narcissa but I have to go back today.” He told her as kindly as he could. He could hardly state that she was driving him insane.

“Will you go to see the father, child?”

“It is a possibility. Now that Catherine has gone I think I can manage to be back at the hub.”

“But Catherine will return and she will marry her baby’s father.”

Vincent gritted his teeth, he felt like shaking the old woman, she was sounding like an old record and just as stuck in a rut unable to say anything but some silly riddle. ”I’m going now Narcissa, thank you for your hospitality.” He bent to kiss her cheek, and she caught his arm, “Come see me soon, bring your bride.” Now Vincent knew she was nuts and he hurried away as soon as he could pick up his bag. “Be Well Narcissa.” He called as cheerfully as he could muster. Narcissa called back, Be Well, child. Don’t forget tell the father that I am alive.”

“I’ll tell him, don’t worry Bye, Narcissa.”

The uneventful journey back to the chamber where Dominic had been supplying him with food and clothing left Vincent’s mind in turmoil. Narcissa had spent the best part of the week telling him that Catherine would marry the baby’s father like some parrot, and telling him nothing he didn’t already know but at the same time knowing Narcissa there was a hidden meaning. But what could be hidden in such a phrase? It was stupid. His mind thus filled with questions Vincent didn’t notice on his approach to his chamber that anything was amiss, and it was only when he entered his new home did he come to a grinding halt and gasp, “Catherine!”

“Vincent!” Catherine flew into his arms, “Oh Vincent, where have you been. Mouse found this chamber days ago, followed Dominic apparently, he’s been waiting for you ever since.”

Not thinking clearly Vincent replied, “I’ve been staying with Narcissa, she needed supplies and I carried them down there for her.” Catherine stared at him, “Have you gone mad? Narcissa is dead.”

“No she is alive.” Then as dawning became apparent Vincent asked, “Catherine what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be with Elliot?”

“Jenny would clown me if I were.” She giggled despite the seriousness of her visit and then asked him, Narcissa is alive? But Father buried her.”

“As I he did me.”

“Point taken.” Her sudden smile vanished, “Vincent I need your help. Dominic has taken the baby.”

“Your baby?” He asked bewildered, “Why would he do that?”

“Because, because…oh Vincent…don’t you know?” Catherine exasperated.

“Know? What is there to know? Catherine, you shouldn’t even be here. If Dominic has taken the baby somewhere he will bring him back, surely. Why do you worry so?” Vincent lay his pack down and crossing to the brazier riddled the ashes and started to bank it with thin strips of firewood and paper before striking a match to start it going.
Catherine watched him saying nothing, it was so good to see him and all she wanted to do was hug him to her kiss him all over and…her eyes strayed to where some blankets lay over a small slim cot obviously where he had been sleeping…and suddenly wishing they could sleep there together…but her baby had been kidnapped and Vincent was the only one that could help.

“I worry so because your brother has a tile loose Vincent, he takes after his father and for some reason he has snatched our son and doesn’t intend bringing him back.”

Vincent listened but he missed a few vital points, and one in particular. “I can’t believe Dominic would do something like that, Catherine. I’ve got to know him pretty well and anything I decided about him in the beginning is long gone. I trust him now.”

“Are you listening to me!” Catherine flared. “Vincent, Dominic has kidnapped our baby. He doesn’t intend bringing him back! Living a life of a recluse has softened your brain!” Catherine turned on her heel, “Well if you won’t help me find him, I’ll find someone who will!”

“Catherine!” Crossing the chamber Vincent caught her arm, “I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you, but where is the baby’s father in all of this, why isn’t he here?”

Catherine realised Vincent hadn’t heard a word she had said, that the emphasis on our son and our baby had completely been missed. “He’s here.” Catherine told him and started to walk away again.

Vincent sighed, “In that case let him help you look for the child.”

Despondent Catherine despaired of ever getting through to him, he really had gone soft in the head, “That’s all I was hoping for.” She told him and disappeared up the tunnel and out of sight. Vincent watched her go. He felt sad, and puzzled, Catherine was beginning to speak in riddles the same way that Narcissa had. He only wished he could decipher them.

*** *** ***

Father was frantic, Brooke was in trouble but really she hadn’t been to know and no one had enlightened her about Dominic’s strange behaviour and she hadn’t distrusted anything he had said. Really he had been very believable.

“Must have planned it for months.” Father ranted, “God if I get my hands on him.” “Found him talked to him left him behind. No help there Mary.” Catherine plonked herself into the nearest chair wearily.

“Why what did he say?” Father asked amazed.

“Little constructive.” Catherine replied, all the way home she had grown angrier and angrier about Vincent’s response to her bid for help. He had been almost callous and more like Dominic than Vincent.

“Father, Father!” Jamie dashed into the chamber, and all eyes turned to her in hopeful expectation.

“What is it Jamie? Has the baby been found?” Catherine held her breath while wanting to shake the news out of the other woman at the same time. Jamie’s reply almost killed her, “No, not that. Dominic wrote journals like Vincent and he left the last entry behind, maybe he meant to I don’t know, but you’d better read it Father!” Jamie handed the small notepad to the tunnel’s patriarch and as Catherine rushed to his side to read it with him Father read aloud, “Tomorrow I will have my retribution. I will take back to the home of my father the one with the leonine face, just as it should have been it will be so and the balance will be corrected. Be proud of me father, be proud, for I will succeed where you have failed. Vincent will return to his rightful home…forever!” Father paled, “Oh my good God…he’s Paracelsus all over again…we let a madman into our midst and we didn’t even see it.” He turned sorrow filled eyes to Catherine, “I’m so sorry my dear, but Dominic is wrong, we will get your son back, I promise and if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Its not your fault Father, he sucked us all in.” Catherine told him squeezing his shoulder, “But I think it’s going to take a whole lot of cunning to get my baby back, we don’t even know where to start looking. He might not even be in the tunnels, and who can I ask above? Elliot and Jenny are on their way to London and little Vincent doesn’t even exist in the eyes of the authorities and oh…Dominic knew that…he knew that Father and he cunningly used that information to gain his advantage!”

“We’ll still find him I know we will, and at least if Dominic is like Parcelsus we will be able to ascertain certain similarities in their pattern of movement. For what its worth I think we should start searching the lower levels…”

“Yes but Paracelsus was so cunning, and Dominic is the same, look how he fooled Vincent with that life after death thing…thank God Jamie wasn’t sucked in!”

“Yes Father Mary is right, he is devious. We may need a miracle to find where he has taken the baby but don’t worry Catherine, we’ll do everything in our power to find him. If only Narcissa were here she would know.” Catherine’s face brightened at Jamie’s statement.

“She is! She’s still alive! Vincent has been staying with her.” Father paled once more, “Narcissa is alive…then I buried a living soul again?”

No one said anything, which didn’t make Father feel any better, “I should retire from medicine.” Father murmured. “Before I kill someone.”

“You’re a good doctor, you just need better glasses and equipment.” Mary reasoned.

“That’s true,” was the general opinion as mostly everyone said the same thing. Then Catherine asked Jamie, “Should we go, that is you and I, go to see Narcissa?”

“No Catherine, you should go and see Vincent again, take Winslow with you, he’ll knock some sense into him, and Mouse and I will go to see Narcissa. Father you can rally round some search parties can’t you?” Jamie gave her orders.

Father nodded, well at least he was good at something and he watched feeling a little bit better as Jamie and Catherine left his chamber leaving only faithful Mary behind. They were silent for a while, until Father had tapped out the requirements on the pipes, and then that done leaned back in his chair awaiting the first of the groups to assemble in his chamber. As they waited Mary mused softly, “Paracelsus huh? Who would have thought he would rise out of the dust? Its terrible, I thought we’d seen the last of him, Father?”

“We have, its his son that we have to worry about now Mary, like his father he might be, but like his mother also, we can only hope enough of Anna rubbed off on him to give him the compassion to know that this is wrong.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Mary asked almost afraid to know.

Rubbing a hand across his weary brow, Father took no time in answering, “I fear that these tunnels will have an enemy below again just as they had in the past and so…”

Mary understood at once, “It begins again?”

“Yes my dear…and so it begins again.”

*** *** ***

To be continued in chapter eighteen