The car makes a sudden left, and then another quick left into an ally that ends half-way through the block in an alcove surrounded by the backsides of three to four story old brick buildings. The smoky fog is very thick here, but the lights from street lamps, doors and windows, and the glow in the sky (from what can only be various fires burning within the town), light up the area fairly well. There is a gathering of older men, drinking from bottles, at the back of a particularly dark, drab building. They are dressed in thick long sleeve shirts, heavy duty work pants, and work boots. Most are gathered around a steel barrel containing a low burning fire, while a couple recline on some stairs and a small loading dock behind that. On the black tar roof of said loading dock sits an erudite old man of seventy or so, legs crossed. His eyes are deeply set under a pronounced brow, with white hair and a beard that flows long about his shoulders, chest and back. He is observing in a state of deep repose, sipping from a smoky green bottle.
In the distant can be heard the steady rumble of shouting and yelling with an occasional scream piercing the night air. Loud crashes and the low roar of explosions shake the ground every few moments. Officer Alan exits the vehicle, as his door opens Tanner’s sense of smell is assaulted with the odor of burning wood and chemicals; it seems to him to have gotten stronger. Alan does not seem to notice any of these peculiar irregularities, and slowly walks to stand amongst the gathered group of men and peers up at the white bearded man upon the roof.
“Officer Alan,” he speaks with a smooth raspy voice that is easily heard above all the commotion, even to Tanner and Lendal sitting in the police cruiser. He is not shouting, but his voice carries easily in the air. “What brings you before me tonight?”
“I request an audience with the Two Ladies. There has been a disturbance that cannot be explained, with possible dire consequences. I must bring it to their direct attention and receive their most high advice.”
The man with the long white beard sets down his dusty green bottle, rests his forearms upon his knees, and coolly gazes into the eyes of Officer Alan. “What of the strangers you have brought amongst us?”
“They are witnesses to the occurrence, and one is in illegal possession of two powerful firearms. The Two Ladies will want to interrogate them.”
“Interrogate?” Lendal said out loud so only Tanner could hear. Tanner returns his friend’s look of encroaching horror at the predicament they have suddenly found themselves in.
“Very well.” The old man forms the fingers of each hand into two very different signs and rolls his eyes up into his head. A sudden and harsh wind rises up, seemingly from the ground, blowing the fire out and violently rustling the clothes of the men standing about, all ostensibly frozen in place. The old man’s long locks of hair rise about him, ghost-like and whispery, and bright sharp white light flashes within the clouds behind him. For a few moments the intensity of this moment continues, and then dissolves away. The old man’s hair returns to his side and his eyes roll down into place, his wrists go limp and his fingers relax.
“It is done. The Two Ladies will see you. They have already arrived and are awaiting your appearance.”
“Thank you Master Herald, I am indebted.” With that the officer put his hands together and bowed, then turned and headed back to the patrol car. As they drove from chaos infused block to chaos infused block, Lendal gathered the courage to ask some questions.
“What the hell is going on?”
Both officers ignore him.
“How can you two stand by and let your town riot? How can you arrest me if you are not going to arrest these obvious law breakers!?!”
Still nothing but silence from the two men. Disgusted, Lendal huffs and sits back violently in the seat. “Damn it!”
Shortly thereafter they pull into the parking lot of a large early nineteenth century (but recently renovated) tavern, complete with a slanted thatched and tiled roof, and large multi-paned windows. There is also a large yard surrounding the tavern and extending out to the ends of the block, it appears to be of the original woodland of the area, unmolested. The Officers exit the vehicle and each open a backseat door and beckon a young man to exit to him. The boys are not handcuffed, but each has a strong hand placed upon their shoulder and are strongly maneuvered toward the tavern’s front door. Lendal notices that the night’s ruckus is occurring a block or so away in all directions, but seems to keep its distance from the block of the tavern.
The large front door of the tavern was constructed of some thick, strong aged wood, smoothed and polished. A small window containing ornamental iron bars had been placed high up, just above the men’s heads, and a large iron ring knocker is bolted into the middle. Officer Alan grasps the ring with both hands and sends a resounding boom throughout the establishment. Shortly, the squeak and scrape of iron hinges turning in the distance can be heard, and then light shines through the door window.
“Officer Alan?” a resonant, scuffing voice questions rigidly.
“Yes, Ottymer, it is I.”
The heavy door opens slowly with a sustained squeal from the hinges, and standing at its length, peering gravely down upon them, is the most enormous man Lendal and Tanner have ever seen. He is somewhere above seven feet tall, and must be four feet wide from shoulder to shoulder, large tight muscles surely speckled every part of his body underneath his turtleneck sweater and slacks. Ottymer motions them through an engraved archway, into the barroom. Candled chandeliers hang about its ceiling, lighting it with soft white light. Men and women sit at various tables and curtained wall booths, sipping from mugs and glasses, conversing in hushed tones. They pause to observe as the Officers escort the college boys past their tables on the way to the back room. The bar runs along the entire side of the large room, carved and built from the same ancient wood that the front door had been constructed. Leather padding cushions its edges and reaching vines, blooming flowers, demon and fairy faces peer out from the engraved wood. Upon the wall behind the bar is a humongous mirror that stretches from end to end, ceiling to floor. When Lendal and Tanner look into it they see faint reflections within a cloudy vastness with colored mist in the distance, frightened they quickly look away.
At the end of the room is another, larger, engraved archway confined from the barroom with heavy red curtains. Here they pause, and Officer Alan exits through the curtains and is absent for a short while. The boys can feel the eyes of every patron upon them and faintly hear parts of their conversations, which have momentarily grown exaggerated. Alan reappears and motions for them through the curtain. Officer Tom stays behind.
The next room is dark, faintly lit by a sole chandelier with just a few of its candles burning. It is positioned over a large table set in a lush upholstered half-circle booth, at the back of which sits two identical looking feminine figures, both with long straight black hair, and pale, thin features. They are wearing black custom tailored jackets, with white poet collared and French cuffed shirts underneath. Each has a silver necklace about their neck with a clear white jewel set in a silver bezel, it appears to both reflect and consume the light around it.
...TO BE CONTINUED.