by Trevor Hopkins

Nether Gask was a Goblin with many tales, old and new, and I did of course remember how he used to entertain me when I was much younger. Despite myself, I could not help settling back into the office chair in anticipation of him spinning a yarn for my amusement. I was disappointed, and surprised, at his next statement.

"Rosie's disappeared," he said shortly, "I'm getting worried."

"Who's Rosie?" I asked, sitting forward, genuinely confused. at the dint of great effort, I managed to suppress some remark along the lines of, well, you would know all about disappearing.

"Rosie o'Chill. Tighe's granddaughter," Nether went on, looking genuinely worried, "She runs Chill's Bar now."

I sighed. These humans and their short lives. You spend some time getting to know one and then, a few short decades later, they're senile or worse. It's hardly worth the effort.

"I don't know her," I answered, "I remember the old man. I imagine she was left the bar in a bequest when he died."

"It's more complicated than that," he replied, frowning.


"Look, old man Tighe left the bar to the both of us," Nether explained patently, as if to a child, "In some kind of complicated trust. Tax reasons, apparently. But the arrangement only stands if both of us continue to run the place."

"You, running a bar?" I spluttered, "You’d just drink all the profits."

"Well, thanks for your support, brother," Nether huffed, looking genuinely put out, "Look, I don't drink that much. And the bar's a real money-spinner."

I doubted the first point was true, although perhaps he was drinking less than before. There was still whiskey in the office bottle, and it had been only half-full even before he got his hands on it. The second I could believe: low rent and overheads, living on the premises, selling imported booze at high mark-ups. And in an established tavern with lots of regulars, all intent in soaking up the authentic Irish atmosphere along with pints of dark beer.

"How long have the two of you been running this place?"

"Ten years, more or less," Nether said, "Hardly any time at all."

"Any problems?"

"No, not really," he replied, looking only very slightly shifty, "I've been having to keep my head down a lot recently. Too many humans with cameras in their pockets. I'm having to come down here occasionally to buy a few glamours to keep myself hidden. And a few other things, of course."

That would explain the sheaf of assorted bills. They would have changed from US dollars at one of the seamier money exchanges - hopefully, this Rosie would not have been stupid enough to trust Nether with most financial matters - most used to purchase the necessities not easily available in the Upper World, and the remainder stuffed into some inner pocket and promptly forgotten about.

"Okay, so you want me to locate this Rosie, then?"

"Yes," he said, suddenly plaintive, "Look, I like Rosie. She's smart and sassy. And she takes care of me. I miss her. Can you do it?"

"On my own, no," I answered, unsurprised by the sharp intake of breath from my brother, "But I know just the man who can."

Part 8 Part 10