“I don’t know,” Walt told me.
“Then how am I able to help?”
He was seated behind an old walnut-trimmed desk, tenderly handling old papers. He leafed through the lot of them and found the page he was looking for. Then he threw the page at my feet.
It began with the words, “An imp can find almost anything he is looking for by using a location spell…” It was written in the dialect of Mansfield.
“This was in the archives of Mansfield,” I informed Walt. “Those burned down. Every file should have been destroyed.”
“But these weren’t,” Walt smiled again. “These were kept in iron boxes. They were saved from the flames. Most of them anyway. They were so charred that they were nearly indistinguishable from the rocks around it. But on an expedition, I found the box and opened it. I read through it, and came to believe. And you, my good friend Harold, will be my salvation.”
I read through the page he’d given me. It was true. One of the many tricks I know is to locate lost things or people. It requires only a few ingredients. A strand of my hair. A leaf. And some water. Yet I did not trust this Walt, nor did I want to be in league with him. But Hyacinth was away from me so long as the ring was not in my possession. She had been my purpose for centuries and I remember no other purpose but her. Nor is there any greater for me,
“What is the Horsehead Scarab? What does it do? And what does it look like?”
Walt looked through some more documents. He seemed to be very organized. He also seemed to be quite patient and unhurried. “Here”, he threw me another old page that I thought had burned up.
Mansfield was a human kingdom which possessed an unprecedented amount of magical knowledge, all of which should have been burned but apparently some had not. I went to sit across from him in the empty chair facing his desk. I changed my clothing to be more modern.
As I looked out to the storefront, I saw a lanky man who Walt later told me was a “hipster” and I modeled my clothing after his. I wore bifocals that didn’t change my vision, a short sleeved button-down shirt with a thin purple tie, brown blazer and dark denim pants. My thick beard was also similar to the hipster’s. Voila’ – blending in.
I decided to help Walt find this article, part of his collector’s dream, as soon as possible. That way I could get back to my own dream, and to Hyacinth.
The page must have come from a tome, or a codex, or some kind of magical reference material. It had a painted inlay of the scarab, which was an ebony beetle whose torso was the head of a black horse with blue sapphires for eyes. It was beautiful, a work of craftsmanship. Then I read the description.
The Horsehead Scarab is the binding talisman for the kingdom of the Blue Elves…
I dropped the paper. “Blue Elves? If it has anything to do with them, it’s an object of darkness. What cause do you have to pursue this vile thing?”
He looked at me without a discernible expression. “I’ve asked you not to ask questions, Harold. I respect your terms, namely that I call you Harold and not your real name. I implore you to respect mine.”
“But the Blue Elves are no more. They were all defeated in battle. It is a ghost kingdom, populated by the wind. There are certain questions that I need to ask, that would make it more facile for me to find the damned thing.”
He sighed with old lungs. “Ask me within reason, Harold. What do you need to know in order to find the item?”
“For one thing, what makes you think it’s in your world? For another thing, if it’s here, where was it last? If you can’t
answer that, then I would seriously doubt the thing exists any longer.”
“It was worn by the Baroness Hilda von Bergenberg on a luxury ship that sunk in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1920s. Last year it was recovered by a salvage company and put up for auction. But before it could be sold, it was lost. I think it was stolen from the holding company’s storage facility. And I think I know who stole it. A competitor of mine, a fellow collector. Vilmer Gordon, who owns a shop just a few blocks away.”
“What makes you think that?” I dared venture.
“I have my beliefs and my sources, neither of which are your business, Harold. Anything else you ‘need’ to know?” His purple sweater was getting ruffled.
“Yes,” I said seriously. “What could you possibly want from the Blue Elf kingdom?”
He arose and began packing away all the old documents from his desk into a briefcase. “It might be empty, but the kingdom still holds many treasures. I’m after a particular treasure. We’ll leave it at that. Satisfied?”