by Trevor Hopkins

Our mixed tangle of human and Goblin bodies were sprawled on the landing mat. It must have been a humorous sight for any onlooker, although the phlegmatic border guards did not seem to be particularly amused. Though I did notice that Gumshoe's arm was wrapped protectively around Rosie. She didn't seem to mind, and he didn't rush to remove it either.

Nether and I picked ourselves up and counted the bullet-holes, pleased to discover that there were none, while Gumshoe gentlemanly assisted Rosie to her feet. She looked around wildly for a few moments then, entirely confused, she turned to Nether.

"What happened?" she asked, adding, "Where are we?"

"It looks like you get your wish after all, Rosie," Nether said kindly, "Welcome to the Lower Realms."

"This is the Kingdom of the Goblins?" Rosie squeaked, looking around wildly, "How did we get here?"

"We used an unmarked entrance to the Lower Realms," I explained, quietly emphasising the correct title.

I should have guessed Nether would have arranged a convenient way to get below. On the other hand, I was increasingly worried by just how much Rigg, and logically therefore Garrick, knew about Nether's operations - whatever they were.


She looked around in awe, speechless. Actually, the current surroundings weren't particularly impressive: a rather grotty customs point, typical of those attached to officially-managed entrances. Which was a shame really, since we had to spend half an hour hanging around while immigration procedures were carried out. There was no problem for Nether and myself, of course, and Gumshoe had visited the caverns before, many years before, in pursuit of a felon who was in the end very nearly the death of both of us. Maybe that's a tale I'll document one of these days.

But Rosie had to go through the process, since an immediate return to the surface was unthinkable, which involved quite a lot of paperwork. Human visitors down here are not forbidden, but they are not exactly encouraged, either. Both Nether and I were called upon to declare sponsorship and responsibility for the visitors, and Gumshoe was able to pronounce a few pleasantries in the Goblin tongue with a perfectly reasonable accent, which mollified the border guards somewhat.

Gumshoe and I found the time to bring Nether up to speed with what we had discovered about Milton. Later I alone mentioned Coupar Angus - although omitting the connection with Trinity, which was her business alone. Nether nodded sagely throughout and admitted - out of earshot of Rosie, who was chatting excitedly to Gumshoe and making both of them laugh - that he had bought Chill's Bar without Rosie knowing about it. He said that he had masqueraded as a property investment corporation – not difficult since they are generally low-profile and anonymous organisations at the best of times - bought the bar when the business got into financial difficulties, then engaged Rosie to run the place as manager.

"So securing your hidey-hole up there, then?" I asked pointedly.

"Of course," Nether smiled gently in return, "Besides, Rosie and her family have been my friends for generations. It's the least I could do."

It sure seemed like a good deal all round - if one had the money to make the investment in the first place.

But now we had more immediate concerns. I lit a cigarette and found myself trying to imagine how a human visitor to the Lower Realms would see the familiar caverns and cities of the Goblins. I guessed I was about to experience that at close quarters.

Part 64 Part 66