Journey to New Europa
Chapter 17, Diplomatic Relations
Our heroes had just weathered an assault by the Wild Hunt and learned that Mr. Hall had had an encounter with a very impressive and oddly ethical Mr. Dragomilov in the Assassination Bureau.
We have been invited to tea at the Bavarian Embassy, to confer with King Auberon. Accordingly, we all show up, with Mr. Hall. This is the first time we have attended the Bavarian Embassy in full proper formality, and it is quite a show, what with working our way through layers of footmen and butlers before we even get to the Ambassador, who is, let's face it, just the introductory feature. Morrolan wanders in, absent-minded-professor fashion, burbles greetings to one and all, and appears to know Mr. Hall already. Finally, Auberon enters, leads the way to the drawing room, and the tea carts start their engines.
We report on recent events. Lorelei demonstrates the Wards Major to Morrolan and Auberon, who watch intently. Auberon summons a gnomish little fay to his side, and the two of them both observe, and appear to converse with meaningful exchanges of glances, perhaps augmented by telepathy. Auberon remarks that this is very impressive, but we should not count on it as our only defense. We weren't planning to.
We talk about the First and Second Compacts, which affect so much of the extra-human politics in this world. We wonder if we ought to join any of them. In return, we can offer knowledge of new magics, like the Wards, and like the Map of Here, which we show to Auberon and Morrolan. (It has some new markers around our house, now.)
The First Compact was a mutual non-aggression pact that the Unseelie were tricked into signing with the Seelie and humanity. The fays CAN NOT break it, for fear of lethal magical consequences. But the Unseelie try to goad humanity into breaking it, so that they will then be free to run roughshod and genocidal over them again. It's too late for us to sign the First Compact, and since it seems we didn't come through the Veil in the manner the local fays do, we aren't covered by it, either. This makes us unique in this world.
How about the Second? It's another non-aggression pact, signed by the Seelie, Bavaria, some other nations, the dwarves (Dwarves aren't Seelie?), and the dragons.
Why, yes. We explain to Morrolan and Auberon that, where we come from, dragons (intelligent ones, anyway) are nearly mythical, even to fays. They are known to exist and be enormously old, powerful, and alien.
Yes, that's them. You can see them in the streets in this world, sometimes. They take human or nearly-human shape and draconian dynasties have ruled China and other large chunks of Asia time out of mind.
Well, anyway, the Second Compact is a treaty whereby an attack on any of the signers is construed as an attack on all. (A supernatural version of World War One shaping up....) Should we, the New Blood, sign it, to get under its umbrella of protection?
Well, that's a delicate question. Auberon starts to get expansive about the fays of this world. (As he begins to tell us about this, he casually waves a hand at the Ambassador and all the Bavarians quietly slip into stasis.) The fays have been in this world a very long time, now, so long that they are partly of it, not just in it. The ones who were born here are even more of it. But before that, they were on the Other Side of the Veil, and before that there was another world, and so on back indefinitely. And this has given the likes of Auberon the chance of studying otherworldliness. It can be a useful thing, and we shouldn't be too hasty to diminish it in ourselves.
So how should we defend ourselves? Especially since an active defense seems likely to draw lots of attention, all the more if it is successful.
Auberon has consulted with some kind of Faerie solicitor of his about this, and recommends a temporary and limited truce and alliance between the Seelie and us New Blood. There would be no allegiance involved and formal equality of the parties, but still the agreement of mutual protection. Sounds great to us. Auberon will send his solicitor this afternoon, with our copy, along with three guards, who will stay to guard the DOCUMENT (not us).
He then asks about our credentials to sign on behalf of the whole New Blood. They are pretty good credentials, since Mithriel and Nick are two of the Firstborn, and Lorelei and Tom are two of the Eldest, and together they form a largish chunk of the informal council that "governs" (if you want to call it that) the New Blood. Auberon is satisfied, gives Nick a ring to return to the solicitor fairy (or whatever it is), and leaves, having pushed the "Play" button on the Bavarians some time before.
Morrolan, left behind, is very pleased and impressed with the way things have gone, and asks for a look at the Map of Here early in the technical exchange between the two groups. Speaking of information exchange, we hand him two copies of The Report -- our running compendium of everything we've found out. He finds it interesting already, just by its method of production, which was more or less by glamour photocopy. (He also remarks on the surprising idea of machines made of glamour rather than machines making glamour. We are rather surprised at the idea of machines making glamour, but he doesn't elaborate.)
Morrolan offers us some information in return for the Report. Remember the sabotage at the Temple of Ra? It looks like Theosophists, who are, after all, anti-technological and so dead set against the tech-magic of the Ra folk. But the attack was very unlike their methods -- they specialize in dreams and prophecies and such things, not action. So the Theosophists may be being framed by someone else. But the Theosophists are still a good place to start investigating.
We take our leave (not informing Morrolan that we are also going to give The Report to the Temple of Ra, the Druids, the Golden Dawn, old uncle Tom Noddy, and all), and invite Mr. Hall to dinner. We also suggest to him that, in light of recent information, the striking Mr. Dragomilov at the Assassination Bureau might be a dragon in human form, or part draconian or something. He's intrigued by the idea.
Of course, we know next to nothing about dragons. To remedy this, we stop at our favorite bookstore, Phoenix Feathers, for elementary dragon stuff -- A Child's Garden of Dragons sort of thing. We come away with "Getting to Know the Golden Empire." From there, we head over to see Holmes. On the way, thumbing through the book, we learn that dragons -- when dragon-shaped -- vary widely in size. Some could walk down a street, though it would be cramped. Others are flying fortresses. But the same names appear under draconian portraits and under humanoid ones -- tall, slender folk with penetrating eyes. We also learn that dragons don't just have Chinese names but take names from all over Asia and eastern Europe -- everything from Oo Long to Vermithrax.
The landlady is so used to us by now, she just smiles and shows us up immediately. We update Holmes, especially regarding Hall and the Assassination Bureau. In return, he tells us a little more about dragons. Between them and the vampire-like Leshy (a breed of Unseelie fay) ruling lots of Siberia and Russia, the poor old Czar hasn't had a lot of spare time on his hands, and the Mongol Hordes of our world just never happened. In historical times, where was the Wolf King of the Leshy. Also a Leshy leader who used a draconian name. "Vlad Dracul?" Nick guesses. Why yes. (Oh goodie. Dracula.) The Golden Empire did not take kindly to draconian images being taken in vain by these Unseelie, and this is the basis of long-term friction between China and Russia. (I guess it's always something.) On the other hand, the Leshy and east Europeans do use draconian motifs, whatever the Dragon Lords like, so Mr. Dragomilov could be human, dragon, or Leshy. And with that comfortable thought, we close.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.