by Trevor Hopkins

I handed the mobile phone back to Mayfield and threw myself into the nearest available armchair. While Mayfield tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to contact Glen, I cogitated morosely on the current situation. I seemed to be going around in ever-decreasing circles, not getting a complete story from anybody and, every second cycle or so, some poor mug would turn up dead. I needed the dance to stop or at least slow down a little, so I could work out some of the less intricate steps and maybe even get a clue who the real players actually were.

After a while Mayfield desisted in her attempt to contact her boyfriend and dropped the phone in her lap with undisguised worry and frustration.

"You're not going to change your mind, are you? Make me go to the police?" she asked.

I shook my head firmly, although a tad abstractedly. My thoughts were still elsewhere.

"And wouldn't it be unwise to attend the Probate Court?" she pressed.

I didn't answer. A curious notion had occurred to me. These things happen sometimes. I explored the errant thought like a tongue investigating a tooth that might have a hidden crack: testing it from all angles, checking for any flaws or uncertain strengths. I couldn't find any.

"Findo? Are you listening?"

"Sorry. And, yes, I agree. It would be far too dangerous," I replied, suddenly focussing on the pretty young female in the other chair, and grinning widely, "But you do need to make your presence felt at the reading. That’s the Law. And, after all, your Grandmother was a wealthy widow and you were the only family member who visited her regularly. She might have left you a bequest. Perhaps a very sizeable bequest. Maybe all her money. Just to you."

Mayfield looked stunned, as if this thought had not occurred to her. Perhaps it really hadn't.

"I'm in a double bind," she said morosely after a while, "Too dangerous to attend, disrespect and disinheritance if I don't attend."

"Oh, I think we can do something to break the deadlock," I said smugly, leaning forward to look at her over the coffee table, "I have a cunning plan."

Mayfield's intensely cross expression was so piteous that I told her my idea immediately. She looked impressed with what I said. Even I thought it might flush at least one actor in this drama out from behind the curtain and onto the open stage.

The downside of this particular idea was that I would have to use one of a very few irreplaceable glamours I have in my pockets. It was an expensive and powerful magic, and therefore an increasingly rare piece of magic. It does seem that the traditional glamours used since time immemorial by the Goblin peoples are used less these days, the denizens of the Lower Realms preferred to use simpler and cheaper machines like those on the surface prefer.

Nevertheless, I still had this rare charm, the result of my ability - more by luck than judgement, maybe - of being able to solve the mystery of the missing jade amulets. This was one of my earliest cases a fair few decades ago, my client being a particularly skilled, if not entirely ethical, magical artisan. The thaumaturge did not have, as it turned out, the wherewithal to may my very modest fees when I presented the bill, but I accepted this particular piece of magic in lieu of the contracted dollars.

Since then, the rare glamour had gathered fluff in the depths of my pockets. Yes, I know, I wasn't supposed to bring such magics up to the surface world. But the PI badge does have a few privileges, one of them being the reluctance of the customs officials to do anything more that wave me through. Tomorrow was the time to try out this particular glamour, on the way to the Court of Probate.

Part 48 Part 50