by Trevor Hopkins

To answer my questions, we decided to drive back to New York City where Gumshoe's contacts would be able to provide the genuine answers, rather than the fictions that were recorded in the publicly-accessible records. On the way, I alternated between a briefing for Gumshoe on the glamours I had identified - quite a substantial task in itself - with listening impatiently while the human detective negotiated on the phone with representatives of a variety of grey-area and semi-legal organisations.

Gumshoe also put in a couple of calls to check if Rosie and Nether were OK. After a long conversation, he reported that Rosie seemed surprisingly calm and suggested that the re-appearance of Nether has reassured her that nothing bad was going to happen. I had another theory. I could have been wrong. Then again, now was probably not the time to explore that particular aspect of human behaviour.

It was the middle of the night by the time we returned to Gumshoe's office. Even so, Gumshoe seemed tireless. He fired up his computer and pounded the keyboard endlessly and made any number of phone calls. He also slipped out for an hour or so to meet with a couple of underworld types who would not consider talking on the telephone, or indeed any interaction where a handful of high-denomination bills in an anonymous brown envelope could not be handed over. Meanwhile, I twiddled my thumbs, smoked too many cigarettes, reviewed again what we had learned in Dulelm Hollows, and fed Gumshoe and myself several mugs of the poisonously strong coffee we share a taste for.

By four in the morning, the results were clear: as far as any human knowledge was concerned, every piece of real estate in the settlement of Dulelm Hollows had been acquired by one of two mysterious corporations, both of which owned at least one of the properties acquired with the aid of Coupar Angus. We knew for certain that Professor Urquhart Garrick controlled all of the property in that village.

More darkly, it also appeared that at least some of the previous owners had disappeared. Not all, mercifully - there were tales of unsolicted buyers offering silly money for perfectly ordinary houses – but some people were missing, presumed travelling or just gone away. No hint of foul play in the official reports. But it did look as if Garrick had committed murder to get his hands on the last few properties.

"But does it get us any closer to finding Garrick?" Gumshoe asked, yawning and scratching his head.

"No, perhaps not," I agreed, "But I'm beginning to think that finding Garrick may not be the most important thing in the world just at the moment. Still, I guess I should report to our clients."

I meant Nether and Trinity. I strongly suspected that the Old Ones would have been keeping a close, if metaphorical, eye on us all, and by now they would know everything that I had told the human. Gumshoe grunted in reply.

"Why don't you get a couple of hours sleep," I suggested, "Then get back to the old homestead to brief Nether on what we've found, and to look after Rosie. And take some groceries with you."

He seemed very happy with that suggestion.

"But what are you going to do?" he wanted to know.

"I'm going to get back below while it's still dark," I replied, "See if I can get a message to Trinity. And I need to talk with the authorities. This is way beyond anything in our remit. We need to get some reports heard in certain high places."

Gumshoe didn't seem convinced.

"Who'd believe us?" he demanded.

"Hmm. That's a fair question. Certainly nobody up here. I'd keep very quiet about all this if I were you."

The PI nodded in agreement.

"So you can leave the Goblin authorities to me," I said grimly.

It looked like it was time for another trip downtown to be glared at by Luncardy.

Part 84 Part 86