Journey to New Europa
Chapter 37, Attacked on the Train
We left our heroes catching the return train to London after an investigative trip to Edinburgh. They take the special brass-fitted car for fays.
A few minutes into the ride, Mithriel cries "Beware!" and gestures at the compartment door, casting a darkness over the door's window. The door is dimly seen to swing in, resisted by the apparently palpable darkness. Soon, Robbie adds his foot to the resistance. Dafnord pulls out a gun and eyes the emergency signal, then glances out the window; we're passing through the moor country, rather like that in Kate's dream.
Tom feels about psychically, but mostly detects Mithriel's emergency glamour. Katrina notes some lumps in the black sheeting, about a foot and a half up, suggesting the fingers of a hand very low to the ground. The door, meanwhile, is thumping solidly on Robbie's foot. He pushes back and the push-of-war escalates.
Then two figures swing, crashing, through the window, sending glass shards into the faces of Dafnord and Salimar. They are goblin-like creatures, a la Brian Froud. Tom's second sight shows that there are three more such things out in the hallway, two of them pushing at the door. One pusher is incredibly low and squat. The other is tall, and the third goblin is in the middle. The door is warping under the combined forces of two goblins on one side and a robot on the other.
Mithriel tosses a dagger at one of the goblins that came crashing through the window, pinning his hand to the wall. This gives Salimar the chance to melt out of the way. Robbie tries to stomp on the hand of the short goblin. Tom shouts "Unseelie!" for the benefit of anyone who hadn't caught on yet, and draws his pistol. Meanwhile, the other window goblin grapples with Dafnord.
Kate draws her macrometal knife and slashes the belly of the goblin pinned by Mithriel. Tom shoots at goblins through the door. Mithriel goes to work with a rapier on the goblins in our compartment.
After putting a round into each goblin in the hall, Tom shoots Dafnord's goblin once Dafnord pulls it off. Salimar then throws it out the window. A few more shots and rapier thrusts and all the goblins are down.
Dafnord looks out the window for more attackers, or starts to. Tom telepaths a caution, but he still gets a whack on the head from a goblin stationed on the train roof. Skull ringing, Dafnord holds Kate up to the ceiling, so she can cut a hole with her knife. Through this, Tom shoots the last goblin with a gun borrowed from Mithriel, his own being out of bullets now.
Now that ALL the enemy are REALLY down, Mithriel hops out into the hall and begins slitting throats in the approved manner. Tom asks her to save one out for questioning. He then bores into its mind. "Who sent you?" Image of an Unseelie lord, and, surprisingly, his Name, a nearly unpronounceable collection of consonants. "Why?" "Why, to kill you, of course," the creature answers, mockingly, then deliberately dies to avoid further questioning, or just to annoy.
All of this has taken just a few action-packed seconds. The conductor bustles up now, and, on behalf of British Rail, is deeply apologetic for the inconvenience. He fetches some doctoring supplies for Tom to use on Dafnord and offers the ladies facilities for a brush-up. ("Oh, madam!" he exclaims in consternation, looking in on Salimar, who happened to have left her arm stretched out an extra meter or so, for grappling. Oops. She reels it in.)
The conductor then finds an elven lord who is willing to accommodate us in his cabin while ours is repaired. He turns out to be named Lauren.
He politely asks if we need anything else from him, and we answer Data. The goblins, he tells us, are native to the moors we were passing through. The waylay travelers, but not, before, trains. Tom explains that they were sent by an Unseelie lord. Mithriel glamours the image, and we start to spell out the name. He is known to Lauren, who forcefully urges us not to SAY the name.
This is the Unseelie lord of Scotland. Lauren owns lands adjacent to him and has had trouble with him before. This attack, he says, is a violation of the First Compact. We seem to have a magical/diplomatic weapon against an Unseelie. He offers to give us entry to the Seelie Court on this matter. We invite him to stay with us at our house in East Acton until then, and he tumbles to who we are .. and realizes WE could give HIM the intro.
He's fascinated and bustles off. We learn, with a little clair and a little gossip with the conductor, that he sent off two telegrams to London, putting off his business there, and this despite being just half an hour away.
At the hotel, our bellhop friend Jeffry, and his friend martin, appear to tell us that two more of Ragman Charlie's minions were poking around here. They were caught by the police, and both died mysteriously a couple of hours after landing in jail. (The World Crime League is a stern employer.)
Jeffry promises to send on any interesting news to our address in East Acton. And he has taken the liberty of removing our records from the hotel's books. Good lad. One last lavish tip, and Tom refers Jeffry to Holmes, who might be able to use his assistance on an ... Irregular basis.
We pause to change clothes and launder Dafnord's head in the autodoc, then head out to the carriages that Lauren now has waiting for us.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.