January 3rd, 1999
"Come in, come in!" the woman said. "Let Madame Serena show you your future!"
Madame Serena gestured broadly, as the Yuppie Couple from New York Entered her parlor.
"How quaint!" Margot said, excitedly.
"Come on Margot, these fortune-tellers are a just a load of crock," Brendan said.
"Most are," Madame Serena said, chuckling, shuffling an odd looking Tarot Deck. She drew a card off of the top of her deck without looking at it, and tossed it onto the table without looking at it.
The Brendan Quarters and Margot Yale
Brendan and Margot's jaws dropped at the sight of the card.
"But I am not an ordinary Fortune Teller!" she declared.
"I'm going first!" Margot said sitting down across the table from Madame Serena.
"Let your fortune be known," Serena said shuffling the deck. She drew the first card.
"Interesting," Serena said. "And it's reversed." She then flipped the next two cards over.
The Hanged Man
"How very interesting indeed," Serena said. "One more card should determine how these three connect."
She flipped the next card over, and then suddenly went ghostly pale.
"That…can't be right," She murmured. She flipped another.
The Eight of Cups
The Eight of Cups
The Eight of Cups
"GET OUT!" Madam suddenly yelled, throwing the Deck onto the table. Every card was the same.
Margot and Brendan panicked and bolted out the doors.
"Come see a fortune teller," Brendan snarked. "It'll be a laugh."
"Give it a rest, Brendan!" Margot snapped.
Madame Serena sat at the table, staring blankly at her crystal ball.
"He's going to escape," she whispered. "After I was so careful…what am I going to do?"
Into the Mystic
January 5th, 1999
The sun touched down on the western horizon of London, sinking below the skyline. There was a rumbling sound and the three statues perched above the shop let out triumphant roars as Leo, Una, and Griff awakened.
Down in the shop below Mandadapu Collins glanced upwards and smiled. She walked over to the sign and flipped it from 'Open' to 'Closed' and set the little plastic clock for 45 minutes, giving the shopkeepers plenty of time to eat.
"Hullo, Mandy!" Griff called out, coming down the stairs and into the main area of the shop.
"Good evening Griff," Mandy winked at the gargoyle. "I brought some of that Tikka Masala that you love so much."
"Mandy, if you were a gargoyle, I'd marry you," Griff said chuckling as he grabbed a paper plate and made his way to the table where Mandy had placed an entire Spread of Indian Takeout.
Leo chuckled as well and joined his friend while Una turned towards the teenager.
"A Mister Lennox MacDuff called and said that quote 'he and his friends from Brooklyn arrived a few hours ago, and would be by later this evening' I assume that he didn't know if he could trust me," Mandy said.
"They could be at Knight's Spur now," Una said, turning to go back up the stairs.
"Relax, Una," Griff called out. "Remember that those chaps came all the way from Manhattan to visit us. They're going to be stuck in stone sleep for more than a few hours because of Jet Lag."
"He's right, Love," Leo said. "No need to get worked up yet. Join us for some of this lovely spread that Mandy brought us."
"Your parents don't have to send us free food every night," Una commented dryly.
"Oh yes they do," Mandy said. "You don't know my parents."
Una sighed exasperatedly, before grabbing a paper plate herself, and placing a piece of naan on it.
The phone rang and Mandy immediately picked it up.
"Into The Mystic, open all night for all of your magical needs," Mandy said.
"Um…Hello?" a voice asked nervously. "Is…Griff-sama there?"
"Yes he is," Mandy said brightly.
"Um…May I speak with him? You may tell him it is Sakura of Clan Ishimura," Sakura said nervously.
"S'for you, Griff," Mandy said holding out the phone. Griff raised an eyebrow. "Arthur?"
"Some bird named 'Sakura'?" Mandy replied.
"Oh!" Griff exclaimed and darted over and grabbed the phone.
"Hullo, Sakura? How've you been? Sorry I missed your call the other night. Off with Arthur in Ireland."
"Who in the world could possibly be ringing Griff?" Una wondered.
"Someone named 'Sakura', obviously," Leo said furrowing his brow.
"She said she was from 'Clan Ishimura'," Mandy added helpfully. "She also called last month, when Griff was out of town. Left him a message."
"One of the Jap gargoyles?" Leo wondered.
"I love you guys," Mandy said. "But please don't call them that. It's rude."
"No kidding," Griff said, covering the mouthpiece of the phone. "Yama's scolding was as bad as old Peregrine's back when we were hatchlings. Remember her?"
Griff turned his attention back to the phone. "And then what happened?"
Leo and Una stared at Griff in quiet shock.
"No, I've been there. Literally the same thing happened when I rejoined the clan."
"Wait, she KISSED you?"
"Okay, not EXACTLY the same thing,"
"Well," Leo smirked looking back at his mate. "I'm not sure what I was expecting…but this was definitely a surprise."
Una nodded but watched Griff wistfully.
Knight's Spur Country Estate
January 5th, 1999
Griff, Una, and Leo lazily circled Knight's Spur, before daintily coming in for a landing next to Macbeth's hovercraft, which was parked in a clear spot just next to the estate itself. Standing next to the hovercraft were six stone statues.
If one didn't realize that gargoyles could get jet-lagged, one might not have realized the significance of these statues.
Griff recognized the statues as Brooklyn, Lexington, Nashville, Hudson, Bronx, and Fu-dog. Standing vigil next to the statues were Macbeth and Coldfire.
"Hello again, Una," Coldfire said. "It is an honor and a pleasure to be welcomed into your clan's home once again."
"The honor and pleasure is mine," Una replied, cloaking her wings and bowing slightly at the robot gargoyle.
"How soon will they wake up?" Lunette wondered. A small crowd of curious gargoyles had gathered near the sleeping Manhattan Clan.
"Any moment now, I shouldn't wonder," Macbeth commented. "Based on last time."
"And you're sure that you want to go back with them when they're done here?" Leo asked Staghart.
"Most definitely," the cervine gargoyle replied. "Lex and I…I think there's chemistry there."
"I'm glad to hear it, mate," Griff said placing a talon on Staghart's shoulder and grinning. "I think those Manhattan Chaps are splendid, and bringing our clans closer together is going to be fantastic."
"Yeah, I suppose," Leomaris commented wryly. "But who is going to fix the computer when it breaks?"
"In fairness," Coco said. "Staghart's usually the one who breaks it in the first place. If he didn't keep taking it apart to-,"
Coco's sibling teasing was cut of by a sound like grinding gravel. Cracks began to appear upon the four gargoyles and two beasts.
Everyone fell silent, sucking in deep breaths. Most of the clan had never seen a gargoyle awaken from stone sleep from the outside before.
With a series of roars they awakened.
"Oh UGH!" Nashville commented. "That's jet lag? No thank you…That's awful…"
His words faded when he realized that he had an audience.
"LEX!" Staghart yelled enthusiastically, scooping the smaller gargoyle up into a hug.
"Amp!" Lex replied slightly less enthusiastically due to the very public nature of the embrace.
"I call them LAmp," Coco said as an aside to Leomaris, who chuckled.
"Hullo!" Lunette said, rushing up to Nashville. "You must be Nashville. I'm Lunette!"
"Uh…yeah!" Gnash gulped in surprise. He'd never really met a female gargoyle his age before, and he very much was Brooklyn's biological son. "My nends call me Frash. I MEAN friends call me GNASH!"
"Some of my rookery siblings were going to go play cricket behind the estate. You want to come?"
"YES!" Gnash yelped before catching himself. "Definitely."
Lunette grabbed Gnash's talon and began dragging him away.
Gnash smiled dumbly.
"Gnash, take Bronx and Fu-dog with you," Brooklyn called out. "The London Clan hatchlings haven't ever seen a beast before."
Gnash snapped out of his dazed look long enough to whistle sharply. The two beasts bounded after the pair of young gargoyles.
"Yep," Brooklyn muttered to himself. "Definitely got a lot of me in there, for well or ill."
The gargoyle adjusted his eye-patch, and then turned towards Griff, Leo, and Una.
"Hello Griff," Brooklyn said smiling. "And you must be Una. Thank you for having us. It's a really good thing for Gnash to make some friends his own age."
"Lunette was excited to hear you lot were coming," Griff said. "She loves your clan."
"I can see that," Brooklyn said chuckling.
"But truly," Una said stepping forward and clasping Brooklyn's forearm. "It is an honor to have your clan stay with us, anytime."
Knight's Spur Country Estate
January 6th, 1999
Griff and Arthur stared at the corkboard map of northern Europe, with red push-pins all over it in parts of Northern France, England, Wales as well as bits of Ireland.
"More riddles," Arthur muttered under his breath.
"I apologize that our humble library hasn't been of more help to you, Arthur," Old Pog murmured. "I'm afraid that while it is more thorough than many human libraries, it lacks the information you need."
"We're basically stuck," Griff commented. "We're out of clues, and out of options."
"Merlin where are you, when I need you?" Arthur asked.
"So this is the Clan Library," Brooklyn said, quietly stepping in and looking around. He let out a low whistle. "No wonder Hudson talked it up. Xanatos wishes he had one this good."
"Evening Brooklyn," Arthur said politely.
"Hullo old friend," Pog said chuckling. "Seems you've aged a bit better than I have."
"Time Travel does that for you," Brooklyn frowned, looking around. "Did I come in at a bad time?"
"No, not at all," Griff said quietly. "We've just sussed out all of the places that Merlin isn't, just trying to figure out where he IS."
"If he's still alive," Pog said grimly.
"Nah," Brooklyn said walking over and examining the map. "He's around somewhere. That old bat still had a few centuries left in him."
"Pog, Merlin, Sherlock Holmes," Griff commented to Brooklyn dryly. "Is there any historical figures you don't know personally?"
"Yeah, it drives me nuts that I never met John Augustus Roebling," Brooklyn said. "You guys never checked up by Loch Ness?"
Brooklyn tapped the push pin for the Caledonian Forest, the only pin in Scotland.
Griff and Arthur suddenly exchanged a glance.
"No, why?" Griff asked.
"Merlin never mentioned Loch Ness to me in my lifetime," Arthur said.
Brooklyn looked genuinely surprised.
"I mean…You know he and Saint Columba were tight, right?" Brooklyn said looking back and forth between the pair.
"They used to hang out like, all the time. This isn't even a time-travel thing. I knew some of the old Loch Ness Clan when I grew up at Wyvern. There's tons of lore in Scotland about Merlin hanging out with Columba near Loch Ness."
Arthur suddenly scrambled across the library to the section where the books on Scotland where kept.
Brooklyn looked back and forth between knight and king several times in utter baffled surprise.
"You…You guys really didn't know?"
30 Minutes Later…
"Thanks to Brooklyn's information," Arthur said. "We may have a potential lead on Merlin."
A large circle had been drawn on the map around Loch Ness.
"When he and Columba weren't doing…Whatever it is that Saints and Wizards do for a living," Brooklyn said. "They used to hang out with the Loch Ness Clan. Which…To be honest, I doubt they're still around. Constantine III did a pretty good job of wiping out most clans in Scotland. Iona, Scone, nearly all of them fell to him. Loch Ness was common knowledge back in the day. I can't imagine that they didn't get hit."
"Sad," Griff commented.
"But Merlin's Crystal Cave might be hidden within their old Rookery," Brooklyn said quietly, "It was in a series of caverns beneath and around the Loch."
"From what we've been able to piece together from primary and secondary sources," Old Pog said. "After taking Arthur to Avalon, Merlin courted the lady Nimue for a time."
"He was already courting her, as well as training her," Arthur said. "Even before Avalon. Nimue would often serve as court advisor and sorcerer in his stead."
"Then at some point after Arthur went to sleep, for whatever reason, Nimue betrayed Merlin, and imprisoned him within the Cyrstal Cave," Fleur continued. "That happened before the Illuminati Society was founded. Or right around it. Details are sketchy. Nimue is part of the Society, but she's not been active in decades. I've no idea where she is."
"But Merlin's Crystal Cave could very well be in the ruins of the old Loch Ness Clan's rookery," Griff summed up.
"Ruins?" Leomaris asked, frowning. Arthur, Griff, Pog, Fleur, Coco and Brooklyn glanced up to see the leonine gargoyle with aquatic features pushing a trolley full of sandwiches into the room.. "Why would the Loch Ness Clan's rookery be in ruins?"
Coco got up and helped herself to one of the porkbelly sandwiches Liam had brought in."
"Because Constantine III wiped out most of the clans in Scotland," Brooklyn said. "I was there."
"And I'm standing right in front of you?" Liam replied.
"I don't follow?" Brooklyn said.
"Well…You know…After Griff disappeared," Liam said. The green gargoyle flushed slightly. "Leonidas went north to Scotland, to look for Goliath's clan. Not realizing, of course, what we know now."
It was Brooklyn's turn to flush. He shrugged.
"Sorry? Time travel is always messy," he replied.
"Obviously he didn't find them," Liam said. "But when he got near Loch Ness, he did meet a female gargoyle who claimed to be banished from her clan."
"Selkie," Coco commented.
Liam nodded. "He took her back to London and they became mates. And like all the clan here, they had two eggs in the '48 and '68 rookeries."
Liam pointed to himself. "Fourty-Eight," he said. "And Lunette's rookery sister Nix is the Sixty-Eight."
"How did you suss this out?" Coco said. "You were raised as a child of the clan, just like me."
Liam rolled his eyes. "LOOK at me Coco. I'm a bloody fish-lion. WHO ELSE could be my biological parents? I've never brought it up before because frankly Bhors and Leo have been more dad-like than Leonidas ever was. That's the advantage of gargoyle communal parenting. I don't actually CARE who sired me, but I'm not bloody blind either."
"So wait…Back up the truck a second," Brooklyn said frowning.
"There might actually still be Loch Ness Clan…" Griff said.
"We will need Leonidas," Arthur said. "Someone who has been there before. No offense Brooklyn but…"
"Last time I was there was a thousand years ago," Brooklyn said. "I'm out of date."
"He…Might not like that," Liam said, "Ever since Selkie left him…He doesn't like it when someone brings up Loch Ness."
"I…" Fleur hesitated. "I have a good report with Leonidas. I might be able to convince him to come."
"Then we shall leave at sunset tomorrow," Arthur said.
"I'd like to come too," Brooklyn said. "If there really still is another clan of gargoyles left in Scotland…I think that Goliath would want me to reach out to them."
"You are welcome to join us," Arthur said. "And you as well, Leomaris.:"
Liam blinked in surprise. "Me?"
"I know that your ancestry is of little interest or consequence to the gargoyle philosophy," Arthur said. "But still…If you know that one of your biological parents is of Loch Ness, then you are of their bloodline too. Do you not wish to learn more about that side of your family?"
"I…Honestly had never given it any thought before," Liam said. "Can I get back to you, Your Majesty?"
"Of course," Arthur said. "You know when we depart."
"We're close this time, Arthur," Griff said,. "I can just feel it."
Madame Serena took a key and opened a sealed box. She dusted off the cards within the box and then picked them up.
The drew three cards and placed them on the table. They had no names, just images. One of the Loch Ness Monster. One of a cave made of crystals, and one of an Atlantean Spear.
"So," she said. "Someone wants to play a game with me? Let's play for keeps."
To be continued…